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Dr. Mahesh Sharma launches pre-loaded Sim Card for Tourists arriving in India on E-visa
Feb 16,2017

Dr. Mahesh Sharma,Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture, launched the initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India for providing pre-loaded Sim Card to foreign tourists arriving in India on e-Visa here today. Addressing on the occasion, he said that this unique initiative will facilitate the foreign tourists in communicating with their acquaintances immediately after their arrival in India. Earlier, the Ministry of Tourism had also launched a 24 x 7 Tourist Helpline 1800111363 in Twelve foreign languages so that the foreign tourists can get the required information in their own language. The Minister presented the First Kit containing Sim to a representative of Travel and Tourism sector.

This initiative has been launched in association with Bharat Sanchar Nigam, (BSNL), wherein BSNL would distribute pre-loaded SIM Cards to foreign tourists arriving in India on e-Visa. This facility will be initially available in the Indira Gandhi International Airport (T3 Terminal), New Delhi and later cover remaining 15 international airports, where e-Visa facility is currently available.

To avail pre-loaded Sim Card, BSNL will collect e-Visa copy and the first page of passport from foreign tourists on arrival at the airport. This facility is only available for tourists arriving in India on e-Visa. Sim cards will be pre-loaded with a value of Rs. 50 talk time and 50 MB data and will be activated on immediate basis so as to enable them use this facility instantly. This initiative is also aimed at providing connectivity to foreign touriststo enable them to stay in touch with their near and dear ones and also help them to contact with the 24x7 Multi lingual toll free helpline of Ministry of Tourism for any assistance and guidance during times of distress / medical emergency, etc.

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330 lakh MT of wheat to be procured during Rabi Marketing Season 2017-18
Feb 15,2017

In consultation with the States, it was decided to procure 330.00 lakh MT of wheat during RMS 2017-18, which is considerably more in comparison with the last season actual procurement of 229.61 lakh MT.

The State-wise break-up of the estimate of wheat procurement during RMS 2017-18 is as follows:n++

Sl. No.StateEstimate for Wheat Procurement (lakh MT)

n++

1.Punjab115.002.Haryana75.003.Madhya Pradesh85.004.Uttar Pradesh30.005.Rajasthan17.506.Bihar5.007.Uttarakhand1.508.Gujarat0.509.Other States0.50n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++ Total330.00

In the Conference, the estimate for procurement of paddy grown in Rabi/ Winter/ Summer crop of Kharif Marketing Season 2016-17 for various States were also done in terms of rice. The estimate is 50 lakh MT with State-wise break-up given below. This estimate is over and above the estimate of 330 lakh MT set for Kharif crop of paddy for KMS 2016-17, for which the procurement operations are going on and the paddy procurement in KMS 2016-17 in terms of rice has already reached to the level of 292.31 lakh MT as reported on 15.02.2017, which is nearly 28 lakh MT higher than the procurement of 264.53lakh MT by the corresponding date in previous year, i.e., KMS 2015-16.n++n++n++n++

n++Estimate for paddy procurement in terms of Rice for winter/ summer Crop in KMS 2016-17:-n++

Sl. No.StateEstimate for Paddy Procurement in terms of Rice (lakh MT)

n++

1.Andhra Pradesh13.002.Telangana15.003.Odisha7.004.Tamil Nadu5.005.Kerala1.006.West Bengal8.007.Assam0.258.Maharashtra0.75n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++ Total50.00

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Ministry of Railways to Induct 8 New OHE Inspection and Maintenance Cars
Feb 15,2017

With a view to take inspection of electrical over head equipment to a more modern level for ensuring safe rail operation, Indian Railways has decided to introduce 8 Wheeled Diesel Electric Over Head Equipment (OHE) inspection and maintenance Car on Railway Network. With the introduction of these OHE maintenance and inspection cars, the reliability and safety of OHE equipment on Indian Railway will be increased.

Research Design Standard Organisation (RDSO), the research arm of Ministry of Railways has already finalized the specifications for the prototype of these cars. Under the first phase, Indian Railways will be procuring 45 nos. 8-Wheeler OHE Inspection & Maintenance Cars for operation on Broad Gauge electrified routes on 25kV AC.

The Ministry of Railway has already placed contract with two firms namely M/s Bharat Earth Movers Limited, Bangalore and M/s Phooltas Transrail Limited, Patna for submitting designs.

This inspection car is a self-propelled vehicle and is used not only for periodical inspection, patrolling and maintenance of traction overhead equipment (OHE) but also used for attending to sites of breakdown, restoration and damaged OHE. These are specially used during night for electric current collection tests in order to ascertain the safe contact between pantograph of electric locomotive and contact wire of the OHE. The 8-W Inspection & Maintenance OHE Car uses the power generated by the diesel alternator set provided in the OHE car for propulsion. It has maximum operating speed of 110km/hour.

The Diesel Electric type OHE cars are being procured as per latest specification of Research Design Standard Organisation (RDSO) for which design is to be done by firms, and finally approved by RDSO. The design of these vehicles is likely to be approved by RDSO by March 2017 and prototype shall be approved by November 2017. Thereafter supplies of these OHE cars will start from February 2018 and is likely to be completed by June 2019, In Phase - II another tender for 53 nos. of such vehicles (8-W DETC) is also under finalisation and the contract shall be awarded soon.

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Total foodgrains production in the country is estimated at record 271.98 MT
Feb 15,2017

As per 2nd Advance Estimates, the estimated production of major crops during 2016-17 is as under:

Foodgrains - 271.98 million tonnes (record)

n++ Rice - 108.86 million tonnes (record)

n++ Wheat - 96.64 million tonnes (record)

n++ Coarse Cereals - 44.34 million tonnes (record)

n++ Maize - 26.15 million tonnes (record)

n++ Pulses - 22.14 million tonnes (record)

n++ Gram - 9.12 million tonnes

n++ Tur - 4.23 million tonnes (record)

n++ Urad - 2.89 million tonnes (record)

Oilseeds - 33.60 million tonnes (record)

n++ Soyabean - 14.13 million tonnes

n++ Groundnut - 8.47 million tonnes

n++ Castorseed - 1.74 million tonnes

Cotton - 32.51 million bales (of 170 kg each)

Sugarcane - 309.98 million tonnes

As a result of very good rainfall during monsoon 2016 and various policy initiatives taken by the Government, the country has witnessed record foodgrain production in the current year. As per Second Advance Estimates for 2016-17, total Foodgrain production in the country is estimated at 271.98 million tonnes which is higher by 6.94 million tonnes than the previous record production of Foodgrain of 265.04 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. The current years production is also higher by 14.97 million tonnes than the previous five years (2011-12 to 2015-16) average production of Foodgrains. The current years production is significantly higher by 20.41 million tonnes than the last years foodgrain production.

Total production of Rice is estimated at record 108.86 million tonnes which is also a new record. This years Rice production is higher by 2.21 million tonnes than previous record production of 106.65 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. It is also higher by 3.44 million tonnes than the five years average Rice production of 105.42 million tonnes. Production of rice has increased significantly by 4.45 million tonnes than the production of 104.41 million tonnes during 2015-16.

Production of Wheat, estimated at 96.64 million tonnes is also a record. This years wheat production is higher than the previous record production of 95.85 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. Production of Wheat during 2016-17 is also higher by 4.03 million tonnes than the average wheat production. The current years production is higher by 4.36 million tonnes as compared to Wheat production of 92.29 million tonnes achieved during 2015-16.

Production of Coarse Cereals estimated at a new record level of 44.34 million tonnes is higher than the average production by 3.00 million tonnes. It is higher than the previous record production of 43.40 million tonnes achieved during 2010-11 by 0.94 million tonnes. Current years production it is also higher by 5.82 million tonnes as compared to their production of 38.52 million tonnes achieved during 2015-16.

As a result of significant increase in the area coverage and productivity of all major Pulses, total production of pulses during 2016-17 is estimated at 22.14 million tonnes which is higher by 2.89 million tonnes than the previous record production of 19.25 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. Production of Pulses during 2016-17 is also higher by 4.50 million tonnes than their Five years average production. Current years production is higher by 5.79 million tonnes than the previous years production of 16.35 million tonnes.

With an increase of 8.35 million tonnes over the previous year, total Oilseeds production in the country is estimated at record level of 33.60 million tonnes. It is higher by 0.85 million tonnes than the previous record production of 32.75 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. The production of Oilseeds during 2016-17 is also higher by 4.34 million tonnes than the five years average Oilseeds production. The current years production is significantly higher than the production of 25.25 million tonnes during 2015-16.

Production of Sugarcane is estimated at 309.98 million tonnes which is lower by 38.46 million tonnes than the last years production of 348.45 million tonnes.

Despite lower area coverage during 2016-17, higher productivity of Cotton has resulted into higher production of 32.51 million bales (of 170 kg each) as compared to 30.01 million bales during 2015-16.

Production of Jute & Mesta estimated at 10.06 million bales (of 180 kg each) is marginally lower than their production of 10.52 million bales during the last year.

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Ind-Ra: CE Loan Delinquencies to Abate in FY18; Full Recovery for Tractor Loans to Take Longer
Feb 15,2017

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has taken the following actions on the outlooks for the following underlying asset classes, primarily a part of the ABS and RMBS transactions, in its rated portfolio for FY18: 
 Asset Class OutlookFY17FY18ActionCommercial vehicle loansStableStable to NegativeRevisedLoans against propertyStableStable to NegativeRevisedTractor loansNegativeStable to NegativeRevisedConstruction equipment loans (CE)NegativeStableRevisedMicrofinance loans*-Stable to NegativeAssignedResidential mortgage loansStableStableMaintained

* This sector was not included in the FY17 outlook report.

The agency has revised the outlook on commercial vehicle loans to stable to negative for FY18 from stable for FY17. The agency believes that the combined effect of the marginal 0.4% yoy growth in industrial activity and 8% increase in diesel price without a similar improvement in freight rates over April to November 2016 will stall the asset quality recovery process, which has been made more uncertain because of demonetisation.

The agency has revised the outlook on the loans against property segment to stable to negative for FY18 from stable in FY17. The agency expects that the prevailing slowdown in property prices with high levels of existing inventory and the pressure to move towards a formal business model will continue to weigh on small and medium enterprises, increasing asset quality pressures for them. Also, the larger share of high ticket size collateral (above INR10 million) on the books of non-banking finance companies, which forms a small component of sales in most cities (and hence illiquid collateral), would render achieving recovery difficult, if there is a spike in default rates.

The agency has revised the outlook on tractor loans to stable to negative for FY18 from stable in FY17. The prospect of a strong agricultural production output in 2017 amid a healthy monsoon in 2016 is likely to provide respite to tractor loan borrowers. Also, budgetary support to farm income as announced in the Union Budget 2017-2018 and the average 16% hike in minimum support price for food grains in FY17 YTD (the highest in last five years), blunted to some extent by the hike in diesel prices, would support asset quality improvement. However, high peak defaults reached in the agencys tractor loan portfolio in the last 12 months may not ease swiftly, considering the abrupt cash shortage in the farm sector post demonetisation and with revival expected to be synchronised with future crop cycles.

The agency has revised the outlook on CE loans to stable for FY18 from negative in FY17. Ind-Ra expects the 21% and 24% yoy growth in infrastructure spending in FY16 and FY17, respectively, to mark FY18 as a turnaround year for CE loans. The peak 90+dpd delinquency rate of Ind-Ra rated CE loan portfolio for 2014 vintage was 4% within three years from issuance i.e. a 28% reduction relative to the average peak 90+ dpd delinquency rates of 5.6% for the loans of the 2012 and 2013 vintages.

The agency has assigned a stable to negative outlook on microfinance loans for FY18. Ind-Ra expects that the marginal increase in agri and non-agri based rural wages in FY17 shall provide limited boost to MFI (microfinance institutions) borrowers income, because of growing borrower leverage and hence it is likely to cause asset quality issues. A temporary surge in weighted average delinquencies to 3.45% (0+dpd) in November 2016 for all Ind-Ra rated MFI pools on account of demonetisation would stabilise with improving re-monetisation. However, demonetisation and other local incidents from time-to-time prove that MFI borrowers would continue to be highly subject to idiosyncratic stress.

Ind-Ra rated structured finance transactions including ABS and RMBS, however, are likely to show a stable performance in FY18. Key factors driving the stable outlook include lower actual delinquencies on the underlying asset pool than the agencys initial estimates. Additionally, with higher pool amortisation and original credit enhancement remaining intact, credit enhancement cover shall increase for the outstanding transactions.

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Ind-Ra: Long Tail of Credit Costs to Subdue Profitability Despite Plateauing Stressed Assets
Feb 15,2017

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has maintained a stable rating and sector outlook on private sector banks and large public sector banks (PSBs) while it has retained the negative sector outlook for small & mid-sized PSBs for FY18. Ind-Ra expects large PSBs with better access to capital and private sector banks with their robust capitalisation to navigate another year of low growth and high credit costs with a stable outlook. The agency retains its negative outlook on mid-sized and smaller PSBs with weak capitalisation and large stock of aging non-performing loans (NPLs). These banks will find it increasingly difficult to grow given increasing capital requirements and large funding gaps impeding their ability to compete on spreads. Ind-Ras Long-Term Issuer Ratings of all PSBs are largely support driven and will mostly remain resilient on the expectations of continued government support.

Ind-Ra expects banks to require INR910 billion in tier-1 capital (including INR500 billion of Additional Tier-1 (AT1) bonds) till March 2019 to grow at a bare minimum pace of 8%-9% CAGR. This includes INR200 billion of residual tranches from the government of Indias Indradhanush programme. Ind-Ra believes there is an increasing divide between the large and smaller PSBs, with the former having some access to growth capital, better market valuation, and also some non-core assets to divest while the latter would only receive bailout capital if required. AT1 bonds have seen some tailwinds in FY17 due to favourable treatment from mutual fund and insurance sector regulators while kick-start of an infant secondary market has started improving the pricing. While the recent Reserve Bank of Indias guideline improves the coupon serviceability of even the weakest PSBs, a broad-based deepening of the market would likely only come from demonstration of PSBs ability to exercise issuer call options in the medium-term.

Ind-Ra expects impaired assets to peak at 12.5%-13% by FY18/FY19 while credit costs will show an extended recovery period (FY18F:185bp; FY16:230bp) as a large proportion of the recently acquired higher-bucket non-performing loans keep aging. This would keep blended return on assets (RoAs) for PSBs and private sector banks 20bp-30bp below their respective long-term medians. Ind-Ras study pegs stressed corporate/SME debt at 22% of bank credit of which 12% has found recognition as impaired so far while about 7% remains as non-PSU debt without any current dispensations such as 5/25 or S4A.

According to Ind-Ras sector-wise stress analysis, sectors such as iron & steel and textiles have seen a fair bit of recognition but provisioning might still not be adequate to protect against eventual loss given defaults (LGDs). On the other hand, significant proportion of unrecognised stress pertains to sectors such as infrastructure, realty and capital goods which potentially have long-term viable assets but would increasingly need cash flow restructuring to avoid slippages.

On the funding side, Ind-Ras analysis reveals that about ten odd mid-sized PSBs were running high asset liability mismatches which could potentially impact their ability to transmit any easing or compete aggressively on marginal cost lending rate. Ind-Ra expects the liability momentum to be another large differentiating factor between large and mid-sized PSBs. Ind-Ra expects sector net interest margins (NIMs) to remain stable at 2.9% for FY18F,15bp-20bp lower than the long-term average.

OUTLOOK SENSITIVITIES

Ind-Ras Long-Term Issuer Rating (which is used to benchmark senior bonds and Basel-III Tier-2 instruments) on PSBs will change only if there is any change in the governments support stance or a relative shift in their systemic importance.

Ratings for private sector banks and ratings on tier-1 bonds (such as AT1) for all banks are linked to the respective banks standalone profile. Positive triggers such as improvements in funding gaps and single-name concentrations together with increased capitalisation levels and lower loan loss provisions may result in a positive outlook for banks whose ratings are driven by performance.

Negative triggers such as pressure on capital ratios due to weak profitability, a spike in credit costs and delays in equity injections may lead to a negative sector outlook.

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Employees Enrolment Campaign 2017 offers opportunity to employers to voluntarily declare details of all employees
Feb 15,2017

EPFO launched Employees Enrolment Campaign 2017 offering opportunity to the employers to voluntarily declare details of all employees hitherto deprived of social security benefits under EPFO. The declaration scheme is operational between January 1st 2017 to March 31st 2017. Under the Scheme: The employees share of contributions if declared by the employer as not deducted shall stand waived. The damages to be paid by the employer in respect of the employer in respect of the employees for whom declaration has been made under this campaign shall be at the rate of Rupee One per annum. No administrative charges shall be collected from the employer in respect of the contribution made under the declaration. A declaration can be made under the Campaign for the period for which no inquiry under Section 7A has been initiated.

EPFO has provided facility for online declaration under the Principal Employer section of EPFO portal which facilities the implementation of the Employees Enrolment Campaign. After declaration, the payments are to be remitted by the employer through month-wise ECRs for the entire past period of enrolments.

To facilitate enhanced services, furnishing of Aadhar has now been made mandatory for members and pensioners of the Employees Pension Scheme. Furnishing of Aadhar seeded bank accounts as well as Aadaar by EPF members would facilitate better identification as well as consolidation of EPF accounts linked with various spells of employment of EPF members. This would allow offering any time anywhere services to EPF members.

ECR 2.0 has been operationlized and the principal employer can view details of contractor establishments compliance status. This will help all employees, particularly contract employees, becoming aware of any non-compliance by their employer/contractor as they shall be immediately receiving SMSs whenever a contribution is credited into their account.

In January 2017, EPFO settled 19,114 grievance leaving 2,556 as pending. Out of the pending grievances, 2,206 were pending for less than seven days.

As a part of next phase of computerization, EPFO is moving towards a centralized receipt and payment, system. EPFO has entered into banking arrangements with multiple banks. Once operationlized, this would also facilitate automation of compilation of financial information as required for compiling the organizational balance sheet and other monitoring reports.

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Import of Vegetable Oils down by 15% in 1st Quarter-November 2016 - January 2017
Feb 15,2017

Import of vegetable oils during January 2017 is reported at 1,024,859 tons compared to 1,258,054 tons in January 2016, consisting of 1,008,085 tons of edible oils and 16,774 tons of non-edible oils i.e. down by 19%, as per the data compiled by The Solvent Extractors Association of India on import data of Vegetable Oils (edible & non-edible) for the month of January 2017. The overall import of vegetable oils during first three months of current oil year 2016-17, November 2016 to January 2017 is reported at 3,410,008 tons compared to 4,016,391 tons i.e. down by 15%.

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FY18 - Another Year In Search of Economic Growth; GDP to Grow 7.4% yoy-Ind-Ra
Feb 15,2017

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) expects the gross domestic product (GDP) to grow 7.4% yoy in FY18. Backed by consumption demand and government spending, the gross value added of the three production sectors namely agriculture, industry and services would grow at 3%, 6.1% and 9.1% yoy, respectively, in FY18. While private final consumption expenditure is expected to grow at 8.9%, the government final consumption expenditure is expected to clock 9% growth in FY18.

Ind-Ra, however, has revised down its GDP growth estimate for FY17 to 6.8% from 7.9%, which is even lower than Central Statistical Organisations advanced estimate of 7.1%.

Although GDP growth after bottoming out in FY13 has recovered, sustaining it in the medium to long term has emerged as a key challenge for the India economy. Two factors that contributed significantly to the GDP growth during the last decade were - (i) total factor productivity (TFP) growth and (ii) investments as measured by gross capital formation (GCF). However, both are languishing presently. In fact, the period of 2005-2010 saw a synchronised movement in investment and TFP growth. Indias TFP, which grew at 3.8% during 2006-2010 dropped to 0.3% during 2011-2014. As a result, the contribution of TFP to Indias GDP growth declined from a staggering 46.2% during 2006-2010 to a meagre 4.6% during 2011-2014.

A suboptimal capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector and stalled infrastructure projects during 2011-2014 caused inefficient/low intensity utilisation of capital invested pulling down the TFP growth.Similarly, GCF which grew at an average rate of 17.7% during FY06-FY10 dropped to 4.2% during FY12-FY16. As against the popular perception, the main setback to investment growth came from the negative 2.2% growth in the gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) of household sector. During FY12-FY16, 82.6% of the household investment was in dwellings, other buildings & structures. Further, dwelling, other building and structures accounted for about 55.8% of the total investment in the economy. This suggests that a more nuanced approach to policy making is required to revive the investment cycle which is currently focused on government capex. Ind-Ra expects GFCF to grow at 4.9% in FY18.

Although firming up of global commodity prices especially crude will exert some pressure on inflation, Ind-Ra expects Wholesale and Consumer Price Index based inflation to come in at 4.5% and 4.2%, respectively, in FY18. A normal monsoon in 2017 would keep the food inflation soft, yet aberration in the prices of select agricultural commodities due to unforeseen supply shocks cannot be ruled out. Ind-Ra therefore expects one rate cut of 25bp by the Reserve Bank of India in FY18 and 10-year benchmark G-sec yield to trade in the range of 6.4%-6.5% by March 2018.

The agency expects the current account deficit to come in at 1% of the GDP in FY18 as against 0.9% in FY17. This will help the rupee trade at an average 69.18/USD in FY18. While India is likely to face continued headwinds on the exports front due to the play out of Brexit and the anti-globalisation stance of US President Donald Trump, imports are unlikely to pick up so long as the domestic investment cycle does not revive. The Union Government budget FY18 has pegged the fiscal deficit to GDP ratio at 3.2%. Although achieving this target looks plausible, much would depend on the governments disinvestment receipt which has been pegged at INR725 billion for FY18.

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Agreement between India and Croatia on Economic Cooperation
Feb 15,2017

Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Republic of Croatia on Economic Cooperation was signed by Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Government of India and Ms. Martina Dalic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, Government of the Republic of Croatia on 14th February, 2017 in Zagreb, Croatia.

India and Croatia had earlier signed an Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation in September, 1994 with an aim to promote and develop bilateral trade and economic relations. The present Agreement between India and Croatia would be a step in continuity as the last one expired in November, 2009.

Indias bilateral trade with the Republic of Croatia during 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 were US$ 148.86 million, US$ 205.04 million and US$ 148.44 million respectively. The bilateral trade during the last three years has remained stable despite global slowdown.

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Ind-Ra: Bonds and Rupee to Witness Measured Weakness in FY18
Feb 15,2017

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) expects overall yield curves to stay elevated. The expectation is against a backdrop of evolving unfavourable global conditions and limited role by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). However, the agency believes that the banking sectors large appetite for government bonds will anchor interest rates in FY18. The 10-year benchmark government security yield is likely to stay within 6.50%-7.00% in 1HFY18 and 6.40%-7.00% in 2HFY18.

Neutral Monetary Policy Stance: Given the change in the RBIs monetary policy stance and pressure from global rate markets, Ind-Ra expects an extremely limited scope for a reduction in monetary policy rates in FY18. The agency expects a possible room for a 25bp cut during FY18.

Demonetisation: The demonetisation drive and the promotion of digital transactions by the government and the RBI will impact reserve money requirements. Increasing scope and role of digital transaction are likely to reduce the currency in circulation over the coming years. Currency accounts for about 80% of reserve money. Moreover, the banking system was flooded with a liquidity of over INR5 trillion. In such a scenario, the agency does not foresee any open market operation (purchase) in FY18 as per the base case.

Low Banking Credit Blessing in Disguise: Ind-Ra believes that in the absence of any significant pickup in bank credit, the banking sector will have a large appetite for investment in low-risk interest-bearing government bonds. Moreover, banks can invest a part of existing liquidity surplus in government bonds. The agency believes commercial banks could subscribe to INR3 trillion-INR3.5 trillion worth of government bonds.

High State Borrowings to Affect Corporate Bond Curve: State development bonds (SDLs) are close alternatives to corporate bonds. The agency believes that a sustained increase in SDLs would put pressure on the corporate bond curve.

Rupee to Gradually Weaken: The narrowing differential between global and domestic interest rates will keep the rupee trading with a depreciation bias through FY18. With the US Federal Reserve likely to hike interest rates and major central banks rationalising their policy stances, the rupees gradual depreciation trend is expected to continue through FY18, with the domestic currency edging lower towards INR69.5-70/USD by March 2018.

RBIs Calibrated Intervention Likely to Continue: Ind-Ra believes that while the RBI is unlikely to halt the rupees depreciation, the pace of movement will be calibrated.

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Govt. should increase cyber security spending to match growing threat landscape: ASSOCHAM-PwC paper
Feb 15,2017

The government should sharply increase spending on cyber security to a level that matches the changing threat landscape, noted a paper jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM-PwC.

n++The government should allocate adequate budget for cyber security related initiatives such as capacity building, training of the workforce, implementing awareness programmes, and promoting research and development,n++ according to paper titled Recommendations - Cyber & network security, jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

It also suggested the industry to make budgets to expand efforts to attract and retain qualified cyber professionals.

n++It is important to take proactive measures rather than reactive methods as building safe environments will always be the best line of defence against rising cybercrime,n++ suggested the paper.

It said that government should look at developing comprehensive and mature security policies to ensure that emerging technologies such as cloud and Smart Cities are protected from cyber threats and risks, and help create a dynamic digital economy.

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Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India invites public comments on Draft Regulations for Voluntary Liquidation by 8th March, 2017
Feb 15,2017

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs had set-up four Working Groups to facilitate implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. The Working Group-3 had a mandate to deliberate and submit its recommendations on rules and regulations and other related matters for the insolvency and liquidation process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. This Working Group had earlier developed draft regulations for corporate insolvency resolution and liquidation process. Based on these drafts and after considering public comments on the same and following the due process, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Board) has notified (a) the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) Regulations, 2016 and (b) the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Liquidation Process) Regulations, 2016.

This Working Group has now submitted draft regulations for Voluntary Liquidation of Corporate Persons. A corporate person who has not committed any default may initiate voluntary liquidation subject to certain conditions. It has been decided to to invite public comments on the draft regulations. Accordingly, comments on each provision of the draft regulations are invited by 8th March, 2017.

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Mission to provide Affordable, Quality Healthcare for All: Coronary Stent Prices capped, to bring down cost by about 380%
Feb 14,2017

Pursuing Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modis vision of Affordable, Quality Healthcare for All, Government of India has issued the notification for fixing the ceiling prices of coronary stents, informed Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar. The step would bring down the cost of coronary stents by about 380%, the Minister added.

Shri Kumar informed that now the ceiling prices of Bare Metal Stents (BMS), having 10% market share, has been capped at Rs. 7,260 and Drug Eluting stents (DES), having 90% market share, at Rs. 29,600. These prices are exclusive of VAT and other local taxes. The Minister further stated that since most of the States have 5% VAT on stents, the MRP of BMS and DES would be Rs.7623 and Rs. 31,080. National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has fixed the prices within 60 days as required, he added.

Informing that the step is a major decisive action on the unethical margins charged at each stage in the supply chain of coronary stents, the Minister stated that the new prices are not likely to make much adverse impact on industry. The average MRP in the market for BMS was Rs. 45,000 and for DES Rs. 1,21,000. This has been reduced to Rs. 7623 for BMS and Rs. 31,080 for DES. Thus, based on price reduction, patients will get average benefit of 80-90 thousand per stent resulting into a gross relief of Rs. 4450 crores in one year.

Shri Kumar informed that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare included Coronary Stents in the National List of Essential Medicines, 2015 (NLEM, 2015) on 19th July 2016 and the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers incorporated Coronary Stents in Schedule I of the Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO), 2013 on 21st December 2016.

Shri Kumar informed that the Ministry, after reviewing the recommendation of Ministry of Health, had directed the NPPA to hold multi-stakeholder consultations with industry and industry associations, manufacturers, importers, hospital associations, distributors associations, doctors and NGOs and other civil society members for fixing the ceiling prices of coronary stents. All the data provided by industry was put on NPPA website and major options for price fixation and prices put in public domain for consultation. The new ceiling prices decided by the Government have taken into account interests of all the stakeholders.

Shri Kumar assured that he will write to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to keep a check on increase the price of procedure, doctors fee and prolong the patients stay by hospitals to make up for losses it and also ensure that price reduction is passed on to patients. He also said that the prices of all stocked stents will have to be revised according to the new ceiling price. The Minister laid stress that the landed price/manufacturing cost of imported BMS is Rs. 5415 and for DES is Rs. 16,918, hence the ceiling prices have been set taking into account the ethical profit margins and R&D costs of each member of the supply chain of coronary stents.

Shri Kumar also added that in case of serious violations of the ceiling prices, the NPPA has the authority to recover the overcharged amount along with 15% interest. For addressing the grievances of the common people, the Minister informed that the Ministry has already started two mobile apps, Pharma Jan Samadhan and Pharma Sahi Daam, on which aggrieved person can register complaints and the Ministry would act swiftly to resolve it.

Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) are major cause of death in India, about 25% of total deaths. Out of these, 90-95% CVD deaths happen due to coronary artery diseases. As per the report of National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, prevalence of CAD in India is about 61.5 million as per 2015 report. As per Health Ministry report, more than 3.5 lakh procedures were done in 2015 which used 4.73 lakh stents. In 2016, the figure of cardiac stent must have been above 5 lakhs. Presently market size of India made stents is roughly 30%. The Minister thus stated that the new ceiling prices will promote Make in India in a big way and seeing the huge number of patients and future requirement, foreign companies will also try to make in India for cutting costs and remain competitive.

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MoU signed between Publications Division and Sasta Sahitya Mandal for Joint Publication of books
Feb 14,2017

Publications Division, a Media Unit under Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and Sasta Sahitya Mandal (SSM) has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for joint publication of books on heroes of freedom struggle, cultural leaders and other eminent personalities who worked towards Nation development. The agreement is a joint initiative between the two organisations to sensitise the young generation about Indias rich and diverse culture and history. It would promote availability of good literature for the people on diverse topics.

The MoU included joint publication of a set of 20 books out of which 10 books will be selected through each others catalogue. In addition a set of 10 small new books would be finalized on topics such as the freedom struggle, Indian culture, ethics and values for Joint Publication. The agreement would also provide an opportunity, for both the organizations to enhance their reach by displaying and offering on sale any of publications published by either of the organizations. This MOU is valid for three years from the date of signing of this MOU, which can be extendable for similar terms by mutual agreement.

SSM is a Trust established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1925 and mandated to promote, develop and publish high class literature in Hindi and to make it available to the public at affordable prices. Since its inception SSM has brought out more than 2500 titles on Indian culture, heritage, Indian epics, & stories and has created a huge corpus of children literature to infuse in them the values of life and love for the nation and humanity.

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