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Committee on Greenfield Airports Clears Four Projects
Sep 27,2016

The Steering Committee on Greenfield airports headed by Secretary, Civil Aviation (MoCA), Government of India met today and considered 4 new airport projects. The Committee recommended in principle approval to 3 projects in Andhra Pradesh viz., Bhogapuram, Dagadarthi (Nellore) and Orvakallu (Kurnool). The Committee also recommended for site clearance to the project of Kothagudem in Telengana.

The new International airport at Bhogapuram will be developed by the State Government under PPP mode at an estimated cost of Rs.2200 Crore to cater to 6.3 million passengers per annum (mppa) in the initial phase.

The other two airports in Andhra Pradesh will be developed as domestic No-Frills airports with an estimated cost of Rs.88 crores each. Dagadarthi will be developed under PPP mode whereas project at Orvakallu will be developed by State Government itself.

The Steering Committee has also recommended site clearance for the new Greenfield airport project at Kothagudem in Telangana. With this, Telangana is getting a second Greenfield airport besides Hyderabad International airport.

These clearances are expected to enhance the aviation infrastructure facilities in newly created states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and will also boost the Regional Connectivity Scheme announced recently by Government of India.

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Six Member Countries of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) releases its Operational Plan 2016-2025
Sep 26,2016

The six (6) member countries of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programn++Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lankan++ released this week, the SASEC Operational Plan (OP) 2016-2025. The SASEC OP is the programs first comprehensive long-term plan to promote greater economic cooperation among the member countries.

Established in 2001, the SASEC program is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries, and strengthening regional economic cooperation. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the secretariat and lead financier of the SASEC program. To date, ADB has approved 40 SASEC projects worth almost $7.7 billion in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and information and communications technology.

The SASEC OP brings regional cooperation to a higher level. The plan in the next ten years is to extend physical linkages not only within SASEC, but also with East and Southeast Asia.

ADB India Resident Mission Country Director M. Teresa Kho and ADB South Asia Departments Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division Director Ronald Antonio Q. Butiong presented today copies of the SASEC OP to Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Multilateral Institutions Division, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance,Government of India.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs said that India fully supports the SASEC OP as an important milestone in the SASEC program. He further said that the Indian Governments Act East Policy resonates well with the objectives of the OP and we will work closely with our SASEC neighbors to develop the infrastructure needed to make our regions enterprises more competitive.n++

The SASEC OP identifies regional road and rail links aligned closely with trade routes toward the east. Planned measures to streamline and harmonize trade procedures will cover both land-based and sea-based routes. This will open opportunities for the SASEC countries to participate more actively in regional value chains that are more advanced in Southeast Asia. The SASEC OP also promotes the development of economic corridors within and between the member countries.

The energy strategy under the SASEC OP aims to diversify the energy mix in the SASEC countries to cope with the projected increase in demand. The immediate priority is to improve energy infrastructure that will allow countries to access commercial sources of energy and diversify their fuel mix.

The SASEC OP identified over 200 potential transport, trade facilitation and energy projects, which will require over $120 billion in investments for the next five years, out of which 74 projects have been identified in India with an estimated project cost of over $60 billion. Majority of these projects are located in North East or Eastern part of the country.

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India signs Contract for Exploration of Polymetallic Sulphides with International Seabed Authority
Sep 26,2016

Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India, signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), for exploration of Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS) in Indian Ocean, here today. The contract was signed by Dr. M Rajeevan, Secretary, MoES and Mr. Nii Allotey Odunton, Secretary General, ISA. The ISA is an institution set up under the Convention on Law of the Sea to which India is a Party.

The ISA earlier approved an application submitted by the Ministry of Earth Sciences for allotment of 10,000 sq. km. area along with 15-year plan of work for exploration of PMS along Central Indian Ridge (CIR) and Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR) region of the Indian Ocean. The Union Cabinet approved signing of this 15-year contract by the Ministry with the ISA in its meeting held on June 15, 2016.

PMS, containing iron, copper, zinc, silver, gold, platinum in variable constitutions, are precipitates of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from deep interior of the oceanic crust, discharged through mineralized chimneys. PMS in the Ocean Ridges have attracted worldwide attention for their long term commercial as well as strategic values.

By signing the 15-year contract, Indias exclusive rights for exploration of PMS in the allotted area in the Indian Ocean will be formalized. Further, it will enhance Indias presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like China, Korea and Germany are active.

The program will be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences with the participation from various national institutes and research laboratories/ organizations.

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PMs National Insurance Scheme on the Anvil: Minister of State for Health
Sep 26,2016

Hon. Mr. Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, has called for continuous dialogue with all stakeholders, including health and insurance industry for successful implementation of Prime Ministers National Health Insurance Scheme currently being considered.

The Minister said that the PMs insurance scheme would be a game changer in coverage and enhanced benefits.

Mr. Kulaste stated that the present scheme for people below poverty line (BPL) operated under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) has expanded the national health insurance scheme with more than 75% coverage. The new scheme would entail larger financial commitment from the government. The private health and insurance industry could partner in creating more facilities for treatment of patients, such as leveraging idle beds in private hospitals.

The minister also said that the new national insurance scheme would dovetail fragmented schemes to make the project more homogeneous and impact-oriented. The primary objective of the government is to make health services universal and accessible. He added that the government would monitor implementation of the scheme through data and share it with industry.

Mr. P J Joseph, Member (Non-Life), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), said that number of people covered under health insurance has touched 36 crore now, mostly under government schemes. New IRDA guidelines, such as provision for pilot products, which allow insurance companies to withdraw a project if it fails to click in the market, allowing wellness and preventive packages, permitting offer of discounts etc. have been introduced to expand coverage. Insurance companies could bring down premium if the number of people covered under the scheme increases.

The IRDA Member called for a strong regulatory mechanism and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) for insurance products. He said that there should be concerted efforts to prevent frauds and unethical practices.

Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman, CII Healthcare Council and CMD, Medanta-The Medicity, stressed addressing issues such as steep administrative charges levied by the insurance companies, transparent hospital billing, wrong and high pitched claims etc. With the launch of the Prime Ministers national insurance scheme, business opportunities would go up considerably. n++We have to earn peoples faith in the system to expand our business horizons,n++ he added. Stress should be on managing care through preventive and wellness measures, he said.

Mr Neelesh Garg, Co-Chair, CII Sub -Committee on Accessibility-Health Insurance & CEO & MD TATA AIG, underscored the need for evolution of an ideal sustainable universal health insurance architecture which should include OPD, post hospitalization coverage, wellness package etc. The integrated package should be for the entire lifecycle of a person and cover all possible eventualities relating to health and wellness.

Mr. A Vaidheesh, Chairman, CII Sub-Committee on Accessibility -Health Insurance & Vice President South Asia & Managing Director, India GSK, observed that an ideal health insurance ecosystem for India should have more private players. Only six crore people are covered under private insurance schemes, which should go up substantially.

Mr. Segar Sampathkumar, Mentor & Co-Chairman CII Sub-Committee on Accessibility-Health Insurance & General Manager, New India Assurance Co., highlighted customer satisfaction and sustainability as the key drivers of growth of health insurance sector in India.

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Ludhiana Mega Food Park Foundation Stone laid
Sep 26,2016

The Union Minister Food Processing Industries Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal laid the Foundation Stone of the Ludhiana Mega Food Park being promoted by Punjab Agro. n++Ludhiana Food Park is the gift of the Prime Minister to Punjab and will give benefit to farmers and processors of Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Rupnagar, S.B.S. Nagar, Jalandhar, Moga, Sangrur and Barnala district of Punjabn++ said Smt. Badal to mediapersons.

In order to give an impetus to the growth of the Food Processing Sector in Punjab, Ministry has approved three Mega Food Park in the State of Punjab. Out of these three Mega Food Park First Mega Food Park located at Fazilka has already become operational. The foundation stone laying of a second Mega Food Park in the state promoted by M/s Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Ltd. (PAIC) was done today by Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Minister of Food Processing Industries at Ludhiana. A 3rd Mega Food Park (M/s Sukhjit Mega Food Park) has been approved by the Ministry in Kapurthala District of Punjab.

Under the visionary guidance of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Ministry of Food Processing Industries is focusing on boosting the Food Processing Industry so that agriculture sector grows exponentially and becomes the engine of growth to drive the n++Make in Indian++ initiative of Prime Minister. Ministry of Food Processing Industries has identified creation of modern infrastructure for food processing as a focus area and is encouraging private investment. As a step in this direction, Ministry of Food Processing Industries has been implementing the Mega Food Park Scheme in the country to give a major boost to the Food Processing Sector along the value chain from the farm to the market with strong forward and backward linkages through a cluster based approach.

This Mega Food park has a Central Processing Centre (CPC) at Ludhiana and four Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) are being set up at Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Fazilka and Bathinda to provide strong backward linkages. The Mega Food Park is expected to provide direct and indirect employment to about 6000 people and benefit about 25,000 - 30,000 farmers in its catchment area.

Speaking on the occasion, Smt. Badal informed that this Mega Food Park will be set up with the project cost of Rs. 117.61 crore in an area of 100.20 acres. The park will have facilities of 500 kg/Spiral Freezer, 1000 MT Cold Store of Onion & Garlic, 1000 MT Frozen cold store of Vegetable produce, 10000 MT Dry warehouse, 10000 MT Silos, 100 MT Ripening Chamber (ECRC), 1 MT/Hr Dehydration Line (Air dried), 400 MT Cold storage, Reefer vans, Food incubation center (ICRESAT) and Testing Laboratory. The Minister expressed confidence that this Mega Food Park project will create a modern infrastructure for arresting post-harvest losses of horticultural and non-horticultural produce and provide impetus to the growth of food processing sector in Punjab. This Mega Food Park project will help in providing better prices to farmer, reduce wastage of perishables, add value to agricultural produce and create huge opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment for the youth of the state.

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Optimism in Rate Markets to Continue
Sep 26,2016

As two critical hurdles (US Fed and Bank of Japan - BoJ - policy) have now passed, momentum in the domestic rate market will be focussed on The Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) policy, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The rupee will stay firm and could trade at 66.45/USD-67/USD (66.65/USD on 23 September) throughout the week, while the old 10-year G-sec yield trading range could be at 6.92%-6.98% (6.97% on 23 September).

BoJ Policy Potential for Carry Trade: The agency believes BoJ policy can actually propel carry-trade in the near future. The BoJ has announced a long-term 10 year financing window at a fixed rate, expanding from the existing facility of a 1-year window. As a consequence of eliminating refinancing and interest rate risks, the new facility could encourage Japanese institutions to run leverage investments in other economies offering higher rates. This has also come at a time when the Yen has strengthened 20% from record lows in recent times, leaving scope for potential weakening. Since India is a preferred destination for Japanese institutions and corporates, high interest rate differential could augment portfolio flows from Japan in the future. Similarly, investments in the US Treasury by Japanese institutions will auger well for the low US yield and be supportive for emerging economies.

Focus on Policy and Auction Calendar: With Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in place, the market can hope for an action on the rate front after April 2016. In the interest rate market, both the SWAP curve and G-Sec curve have fallen further in recent times, corroborating market expectations of an imminent rate cut. The agency believes scope for RBIs action on rate front appears skewed towards December policy review than October 2016. While the very short-term rates are aligned with policy rates, the underlying G-Sec curve is 40bps above the policy rate, providing further room for softening.

During this week, the RBI is scheduled to release the calendar for government borrowings through dated securities and short-term treasury bills, and an indicative calendar for the auction of State Development loans. The remaining borrowing through dated government securities will be INR2.45trn on a gross basis and INR1.8trn on a net basis, as per the Union budget. On the other hand, INR2trn of state development loans are likely to be issued in 2HFY17.

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Infrastructure, Preservation of Monuments and Budget Hotels to Drive Tourism: Finance Minister
Sep 26,2016

India must build tourist infrastructure, preserve and market monuments, and develop moderately-priced hotels, stated Honble Mr Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs.

Highlighting that India has natural beauty, pilgrim centers, and booming urban centers, the Minister said that business tourism and student tourism is being promoted. The shortage of connectivity has been addressed with 70 functional airports and 30-35 more airports to be added for regional connectivity, he added. India also has the fastest growing highway network, while the railways are focusing on quality, faster trains and station redevelopment.

The Finance Minister stated that industry should develop the right business models. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate would be higher if more exemptions were to be provided, he stressed. Facilitation by government in terms of electronic visas, marketing and tourism promotion and preservation of monuments would be provided and as Indias position in the global economy improves, tourism too will benefit, he noted.

Shri N Chandrababu Naidu, Honble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, observed that as a service sector, the tourism industry creates the highest employment, direct and indirect. n++India has all advantages,n++ he stressed, and it has emerged as a priority sector for the government. Creating the right ecosystem and marketing are important to boost the sector, he felt.

The Chief Minister emphasized that Andhra Pradesh achieved almost 11% growth rate the previous year, and his target is to raise this to 14-15% in the current year. The state is stressing creating the right ecosystem to make tourism a growth driver. He gave the example of Tirupati Temple as an ecosystem for generating jobs.

Mr Mahesh Sharma, Honble Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture, said that tourism has been identified as a priority sector by the Prime Minister. He added that the target is to raise the share of India in aggregate tourist arrivals to 1% by 2020 and further to 2% by 2025. While electronic visa facility has been provided to 150 countries, it will be offered for more countries shortly.

NITI Ayog to roll out baseline data in about a month time: Amitabh Kant
Sep 26,2016

NITI Ayog (National Institution for Transforming India) to roll out baseline data for social indices in about a month time, said Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog at an ASSOCHAM event.

We have done this ease of doing business but the real challenge for India is to improve the socially indices and we have worked very hard on this. The key challenges are that the real time data is not available. So, we built base level data, the data being fixed by us for education, health and probably on months time we will roll this out, Mr. Kant while addressing an ASSOCHAM conference on 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

We have added lots of rules and regulations, procedures and acts and these have made things very difficult, many of them may have been done for good for you but India has made itself fully complex. This government has desired that India must become easy, simple, growth to take place and enabled wealth to take place. Therefore, we did lot of dismantling of rules and regulations. We have actually just dismantled close 1058 acts. But over the last two years we worked very closely among different departments to simplify processes, Kant said.

n++Political vigour and energy should be there in states for changes to happen. We have also initiated competition among states in Ease of Doing states. Many states have moved forward vigorouslyn++, said Mr. Amitabh Kant.

On the Ease of Doing business amongst the Indian state, I have seen a tremendous amount of competition among states. I have seen change rarely taking place and that evaluation is not being done by us that evaluation by World Bank. As per the World Bank evaluation, India jumped up 12th position but the competition among the Indian states and vast radical change is taking place and states are moving forward vigorouslyn++, said Mr. Kant.

n++We need to improve for our sake not for the World Bankn++, said Mr. Kant at the second day of ASSOCHAM 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

He further mentioned that the India is growing at 7.5% per annum but the challenge for India to grow at 9-10% per annum year after year for the next three decades. I think India needs to improve for itself thats the only way to India to grow at 9-10% per annum.

He further mentioned that India must become easiest and simplest state to do business. Over period of time, India must aim to become a very easy, simple to ways to do businesses.

n++If India has to grow at 9-10% then every institution...also the judicial system has to keep pace with changen++, said Kant.

He further said that the Judicial settlement takes about four and half years. The Commercial courts may improve things. Judiciary pandered to wishes of lawyers, said Mr. Kant.

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Textile ministry preparing plan to promote handicrafts & tribal communities: Smriti Irani
Sep 26,2016

The government through convergence of various ministries is working on a plan to promote tribal, handicrafts community and fill the various gaps, Union Textile Minister, Ms Smriti Irani said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++I had a meeting three days ago with the minister in-charge for tribal affairs and we are propagating a plan between two ministries so that there is convergence of effort to ensure things like uniqueness of their craft, the fact that they have challenge of not understanding the amount of opportunity the market has to offer to them, social challenges with regards to education, healthcare are met including housing,n++ said Ms Irani while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM Global Investors India Forum.

n++So we are preparing a plan to ensure, not only in the tribal community but in the handicrafts community per se, we have these interventions with convergence of various ministries and we reach out,n++ she added.

n++I think one of the biggest challenges in the handicrafts sector as I have said, is that those who were interested in their care between the central and state government or between state government and administration at the district level, the gaps arose in those areas which have not been filled for too long because it was nobodys baby, so now we are hoping that we bridge that gap,n++ further said the minister.

Sharing her experience in the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry, she said, n++I have personally seen how much success is met when there is direct communication between centre, state and district administration because we had that deadline by the Prime Minister to build toilets across all government schools across India in just one year which looked like a statistical and infrastructural impossibility.n++

n++I am proud to say that has been one of the landmark efforts of our government and I am hoping that we have a similar intervention in the handicraft, handloom sector as well because when you look at the north-east tribal community, you see them coming out with lovely handlooms as well but the challenge there has been that there needs to be a streamlined process of engagement across government in the federal structure so that it benefits the last mile individual, so thats what we are hoping to do,n++ said Ms Irani.

She also informed that government was conducting a study of all the reserves that India has.

n++We are in the process of digitising our land records in the country, so under the Digital India program, that is an emphatic push by the Government of India,n++ said the minister.

n++Also from the land and irrigation perspective, the Prime Minister has been very clear in his instructions that we need to map all that we have invested in our seven decades of democracy in irrigation systems of our country, how many of them are genuinely functional, how many need an intervention where they can be now propped up again and service the land around it, how many actually need new structures so those studies and mappings are underway currently,n++ she added.

In terms of an intervention for soldiers, how they can be better protected through clothing, she said, n++We have identified within the Ministry, our engagement with the Ministry of Defence as to what kind of support that we can give, the industry can have a huge intervention, not only from R&D (research and development) perspective but also from investment perspective, so that we self-support our systems, our army for their needs be it at Siachen or any other station. This includes our forces like BSF, CISF because they also have these technical textile needs.n++

The union minister also informed that Textile Ministry was in discussion with Road, Transport and Highways Ministry to ensure that logistical challenges are met and sought industrys support in this regard.

n++If we look at the logistical challenges that India has, as compared to Bangladesh, yes from placing the order onwards to processing that order takes longer in India than it takes in Bangladesh, so we are in conversation with Nitin Gadkari ji to ensure that our logistical challenges are met but after we have these facilitations we will need industry to step up and fill the gap from the perspective of investment envisaged,n++ said Ms Irani.

Highlighting the various challenges being faced by the power loom sector in India, she said, n++There are many complex issues ranging from subsidising for up-gradation of looms onwards to even providing money so that renewable energy can be used for looms, we are working out some kind of support for the entire sector but my biggest concern is for those who have one-two looms or less than eight looms because till now most of the money has gone to people who are organised better, not the individual power weaver, where everything is shutting down.n++

Talking about poor response from the industry to help build toilets in government schools across India while she was in the HRD Ministry, she said n++With a lot of hope I went out and pleaded with everybody in the industry to help me build toilets in the country, only five per cent stepped up, in fact Government of India funded it, we ensured that if a district collector said that I am not getting money in time, I would RTGS that fund straight from the centre so that my toilets are made in time.n++

She also said that the government was trying to push through administrative reform measures, that will make the engagements easier with institutions or individuals who want to bring about change on the ground. n++One has to recognise that government can only become that facilitator, that bridge and it is ultimately the industry and the people who have to walk the talk.n++

On the issue of caste inequalities, Ms Irani said, n++I think we have to be conscious of our challenges and address those challenges from a social and economic point of view, the challenge is that there are more people who divide compared to those who are there to fill those gaps.n++

She also said that there is a need to drive the children to pursue excellence and not to pursue a certificate as to promote innovation one needs to have an adventurous spirit that is engaged with at a very young age.

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Railways will spend 100% outlay this fiscal: Manoj Sinha, MoS, Railways
Sep 26,2016

The Railways will meet 100% expenditure target this fiscal, said Mr. Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Communications and Railways at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++The reforms will take time, Make India initiative will yield result in the coming yearn++, said Mr. Sinha while addressing an ASSOCHAM conference on 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

Mr. Sinha said that NPAs (Non Performing Assets) is the result of old legacy. There have been massive corruption infrastructure sector.

n++The Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFD) activities are going on as per the schedulen++, said Mr. Sinha while addressing the event.

n++The High speed golden quadrilateral on- to start in Mumbai- Ahemdabad sector work as per the plann++, said Mr. Sinha at the second day of ASSOCHAM 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

He further mentioned that 200 kmph trains will be seen in India too. Mr. Sinha said that Talgo has been advised to make changes to suit overnight journey.

The situation has improved since April 2014, said Mr. Sinha.

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86 MoUs Aggregating close to Rs 15,000 Crores Exchanged in IITIS-2016 & many more are in Pipeline
Sep 26,2016

Several announcements were made at the valedictory session of the Incredible India Tourism Investors Summit (IITIS)- 2016 organized by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry and the Tourism Finance Corporation of India to promote investments in Tourism sector in India. These announcements made by Secretary, M/o Tourism Shri Vinod Zutshi, included:

n++ Institutionalisation of IITIS to be held annually with the next Summit to be organized in September 2017;

n++ Setting up of a task force headed by Secretary, Tourism, with membership from relevant ministries, state governments, and industry associations to undertake strategic planning;

n++ Setting up of an investor facilitation desk to handhold investors and facilitate projects; and,

n++ Organising investor meets in States with the support of Ministry of Tourism.

States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttarakhand,and Chattisgarh exchanged 86 MoUs during the session and many more are in the pipeline, aggregating close to Rs 15,000 crores. IITIS-2016 had met the desired objectives and highlighted tourism investment potential in the country. Gujarat exchanged MoUs close to 9000 crores, Karnataka with 2600 crores, Rajasthan with 1000 crores, Uttarakhand with 500 crores and Chhattisgarh with 12 crores. Also, B. R. Shetty Group is keen to invest 450 crores and Costa Cruise 750 crores and Triveni Singapore close to 800 crores in the country.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism and Culture assured the Investors that his ministry will assist and support investors for making India the tourist destination of choice and for promotion of investment projects in tourism sector. He referred to the tourist helpline in 12 languages and highlighted that a portal is being opened for inviting suggestions. n++Let us join hands to give tourists a memorable experience,n++ he added.

World Bank is supporting Indias Buddhist Circuit development and will provide support for sustainable tourism development including through funds, said Ms Cecile Fruman, Global Director, Trade and Competitiveness, World Bank.

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NDRF deployed in rain affected areas of Hyderabad, Karnataka and Telengana
Sep 26,2016

Continuous heavy rains lashed several districts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telengana where normal life has been thrown out of gear due to flood-like situation. Heavy downpour wreaked havoc in the low lying parts and stranded several people.

09 flood rescue teams of NDRF comprising of 309 rescuers, equipped with 32 Inflatable Rubber Boats (IRBs) and latest Communication equipment, have been pre-positioned at various rain-affected areas of Andhra Pradesh. 03 teams are pre-positioned at Peduguralu, Narsarapet and Amravati areas of district Guntur. 01 team each is pre-positioned at Hyderabad and Vizag. 02 teams each are pre-positioned at Srikakulam and Nellore districts.

05 flood rescue teams of NDRF comprising of 158 rescuers, equipped with 16 Inflatable Rubber Boats (IRBs) and latest Communication equipment, are pre-positioned at various flood prone areas of Telengana. 01 team each is pre-positioned at Medak and Nizamabad. 03 teams are pre-positioned at Hyderabad.

03 flood rescue teams of NDRF comprising of 84 rescuers, equipped with 10 Inflatable Rubber Boats (IRBs) and latest Communication equipment, are deployed at various flood prone areas of Karnataka. 01 team each is pre-positioned at Bidar, Kalaburagi and Banglore districts.

NDRF team deployed at Kalaburagi, Karnataka carried out flood rescue operation and evacuated 21 marooned persons to safer places.

In addition to above, 17 flood rescue teams of NDRF are also prepositioned across other States of the country for quick response to flood like situations.

NDRF teams are in touch with the local administration and monitoring the situation round the clock.

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Counterparty Delays Forcing Renewable Energy Projects to Run Out of Steam
Sep 23,2016

State power utilities (major power purchasers) insensitivity to projects debt service commitments and delays in making payments - problems specific to conventional energy developers - are now plaguing renewable energy projects, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The central governments initiative - Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana scheme - aims to lessen the cash flow strain on distribution companies through the transfer of debt loads to states. However, until the scheme gathers further momentum and meaningfully bears any fruits to the sector, renewable energy projects are compelled to tide over the elevated risk of liquidity strain.

In the backdrop of several developers embarking on capital market transactions, counterparty delays could not only jeopardise bond potential issuances, but also erase the confidence of stakeholders. This is especially in view of the growing interest of developers to tap the capital market and investors penchants for RE bonds. Also, at this time when the masala bond and dollar bond market is fledgeling, a default on a domestic bond may prove costly and could skew risk spreads. Counterparties timely payments are inevitable to nurture the nascent non-recourse capital market debt instruments. Any event of default on the capital market instruments or invocation of a security/credit enhancement would have an adverse impact on the governments effort in deepening infra bond markets.

The debt structure of RE bonds includes a debt service reserve, equivalent to the maximum or six months of debt service obligation to guard against unforeseen events. Despite robust structural features, the continued strained liquidity has dented the projects standalone credit quality.

Maharashtra utilities are a new addition to the league of unreliable utilities, not only on the count of rising receivables but also due to their unwillingness to sign up for energy sale agreements. Although the receivable periods may vary, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan state utilities uneven payment records weigh heavily on projects risk profile. On the contrary, newly formed Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state utilities not only pay renewable energy project developers on time but also claim the rebate delineated in the power purchase agreements.

Although the direct impact of delayed payments will be apparent on projects liquidity, the ultimate impact could be on the lenders if the situation exacerbates. Increasingly, the historical payment record appears to be unreliable and elevates the need for a working capital line higher than the historical average receivable days of projects. However, the zeroing down on the size of the working capital line has become difficult. In many cases, the credit profile of RE projects is constrained by the weak financial health of the counterparties rather than operational and supply-related risks.

Given the reasonable historical payment record of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company, many sponsors failed to anticipate debtor days of over seven months and it was not the agencys base case as well. Notwithstanding projects operational strength, debt service could be impaired on prolonged payment delays by the state utility.

Although a majority of power purchase agreements mention a letter of credit as a backup for payment delays, it is rarely established by discoms. Uttar Pradesh utility in a few thermal power projects has entered into default escrow agreements wherein the revenues from a particular customer segment is escrowed to a default account, which is marked to the power generators escrow accounts. A similar structure has been proposed by Uttar Pradesh for renewable projects. While the federal government set ambitious targets in creating new capacities, projects remain hostage to rising receivables from state utilities, a continuance of which could impact investments in renewable projects and hurt the infra debt market. There is therefore a dire need to improve the liquidity of state utilities so that renewable projects do not become unviable.

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Moodys: Shift in US policies post elections could hit Asias high value manufacturing
Sep 23,2016

Moodys Investors Service says that the credit implications for Asia Pacific sovereigns of a potential shift in US (Aaa stable) policies after the election would materialize through changes in trade and investment if the next US administration adopts less proactive foreign engagement over time.

Moodys report points out that US policies under the next administration could range from a continuation of the status quo to a gradual retrenchment from trade and investment ties and curbs on immigration.

In general, the credit implications are likely to be limited. For instance, Asia Pacific sovereigns direct exposure to a potential slowdown in US imports is generally small. However, Asian economies whose exports to the US are focused on high value-added manufacturing products are more vulnerable to policies that disincentivized foreign sourcing of business services.

In this respect, Moodys says that Malaysia (A3 stable), Taiwan (Aa3 stable) and Korea (Aa2 stable) would be most vulnerable to efforts to repatriate high value-added manufacturing jobs. And, India (Baa3 positive) and the Philippines (Baa2 stable) would be exposed to any policies that discourage US businesses from foreign sourcing of services.

Moodys also says that over a longer period of time, a more insular climate in the US could crimp foreign direct investment flows, as expansion of production facilities refocus on domestic locations. However, the very small stock of US manufacturing Foreign Direct Investment in APAC implies negligible exposure in this respect.

Meanwhile remittances to Asia could weaken if the US tightened immigration rules. However, the Philippines (Baa2 stable) and Vietnam (B1 stable) whose remittances receipts from the US are largest in relation to the size of their economies also run current account surpluses that would provide buffers against any marked weakening in remittances inflows.

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Health Ministry to launch n++Mission Parivar Vikasn++ in 145 High Focus districts for improved family planning services
Sep 23,2016

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will soon launch n++Mission Parivar Vikasn++ in 145 high focus districts having the highest total fertility rates in the country. These 145 districts are in the seven high focus, high TFR states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam that constitute 44% of the countrys population. The main objective of Mission Parivas Vikas will be to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework.

These 145 districts have been identified based on total fertility rate and service delivery (PPIUCD and Sterilization performance) for immediate, special and accelerated efforts to reach the replacement level fertility goals of 2.1 by 2025. Recent data suggests that these 145 districts have TFR of more than/equal to 3.0 (56% of the 261 districts in the 7 HFS) and are home to 28% of Indias population (about 33 Crores). However, only 22% of Indias protected couples and 40% of Indias couples with unmet need reside in these districts. These districts also have a substantial impact on maternal and child health indicators as about 25-30% of maternal deaths and 50% of infant deaths occur in these districts Moreover, 115 of these districts (79%) have high percentage of adolescent mothers.

The key strategic focus of this initiative will be on improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, dovetailing with new promotional schemes, ensuring commodity security, building capacity (service providers), creating an enabling environment along with close monitoring and implementation.

The Mission will be implemented in all the 145 districts at one go.

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