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Exemption of fee on National Highways extended
Nov 14,2016

In order to ensure smooth movement of traffic on national highways the government has decided to extend the suspension of fees on all toll plazas on National Highways across the country till the midnight of 18 November 2016. Earlier the exemption had been allowed till the midnight of 11 November 2016, and then extended till 14 November 2016.

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Moodys: Global growth to stabilize in 2017 as US, emerging market economies improve
Nov 14,2016

Global economic growth will be tepid compared with historical averages over the next two years and risks remain, according to a report by Moodys Investors Service. Nonetheless, growth will pick up from the very weak levels in 2016, as the outlook for the US and emerging economies improves slightly.

Moodys expects global growth to climb to about 3% next year and in 2018 from 2.6% in 2016. Among major advanced and emerging economies, India will log the fastest growth next year, while Italy, Japan and Brazil will have the weakest expansions.

The US economy is forecast to expand 2.2% in 2017 from around 1.6% this year, as consumer spending is supported by healthy job and wage prospects, even as business investment remains weak.

Following the election, the risks to the US growth forecasts depend on the incoming administrations policies, said Madhavi Bokil, a Vice President and Senior Analyst at Moodys.

While prolonged policy uncertainty could weigh on an already weak investment growth, there could be an upside to growth in the short term from increased fiscal expenditure, tax cuts or higher infrastructure spending, said Bokil. A restrictive stance on trade would be detrimental in the medium term.

In emerging markets, growth will be driven by improvements in both the political environment and the economic sentiment in countries including Brazil and Argentina, as well as by reform momentum in India and Indonesia. The Chinese economy has continued to grow at a solid pace, in part through fiscal and monetary policy support.

After five years of steady deceleration, emerging market economies are poised to return to faster growth in 2017, said Elena Duggar, an Associate Managing Director at Moodys. However, although growth is improving, we expect it to be considerably lower than what emerging markets experienced in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

Moodys expects G20 emerging market growth to average about 5% in 2017 and 2018, up from an estimated 4.4% in 2016.

Underlying Moodys belief that emerging market economies will experience a turnaround next year is the fact that many of these countries have already undergone considerable external adjustments in response to slower trade and a steady decline in commodity prices.

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Fitch: Most Asian Telcos to Come Under Pressure in 2017
Nov 14,2016

Fiercer competition and rising capex needs will put pressure on the credit profiles of most Asian telcos over the next year, says Fitch Ratings. We have a negative outlook on the telecoms sectors in India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Korea, Indonesia, China and Sri Lanka are all on stable outlook.

Competition is likely to intensify in India, Singapore and Malaysia, with new entrants poised to offer cheaper tariffs to poach customers from incumbents. Competition could be the most intense in India, where a well-capitalised new entrant, Reliance Jio, is offering free voice and text services and cheaper data tariffs than the incumbents. We expect the blended tariff to decline by 5%-6% for Indian telcos. In Malaysia, the fixed-line market leader, Telekom Malaysia, is making a move into the wireless market, which will prevent a recovery in the revenue of wireless incumbents next year. Finally, Singapore will soon auction sufficient spectrum to allow the entry of a fourth mobile network operator.

Rising competition will add to pressure on revenue, which Fitch expects to grow by just 0-5% in most Asian telco markets in 2017. Data usage will continue to rise strongly, but most telcos are pricing data in such a way that increased usage is not translating into similar revenue growth. The trend of falling data tariffs and the substitution of data for voice and text will continue in most markets. Fixed-line and international long-distance services are in a structural decline. China is the only market where we expect higher data usage to translate into growth in average revenue per mobile user.

Weak revenue growth will result in a hit to the profit of most Asian telcos. EBITDA margins are likely to shrink the most in the Philippines and India, where telcos still derive the majority of their revenue from voice and text services. Chinese and Korean telcos profitability will remain stable, reflecting weaker competition and lower marketing and handset subsidy costs. Chinese telcos will benefit further from lower tower lease rental costs.

Rising capex needs will mean that many Asian telcos will have minimal-to-negative free cash flow next year. Thai, Philippine and Indian telcos are likely to have the highest capex/revenue ratios, at around 28%-30%, as they strengthen 4G networks in response to fast-growing data consumption and the rising importance of network quality. In contrast, Chinese telcos capex could decline by 10% as their 4G development cycle has peaked.

We expect industry consolidation in India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, as weaker telcos exit the market or seek M&A to strengthen their competitive position. The Sri Lankan market looks particularly crowded and ripe for consolidation. Debt-funded M&A could threaten the ratings of acquirers in these markets.

Among the Fitch-rated Asian telcos, Singapore Telecom (A+/Stable), Telekom Malaysia Berhad (A-/Stable), Reliance Communications (BB-/Stable), Global Cloud Xchange (B+/Stable) and PT Tower Bersama Infrastructure Tbk (BB/Stable) have low ratings headroom.

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Rabi Crops Sowing Crosess 146 Lakh Hactare
Nov 14,2016

As per preliminary reports received from the States, the total area sown under Rabi crops as on 11th November, 2016 stands at 146.85 lakh hectares as compared to 126.71 lakh hectare this time in 2015.

Wheat has been sown/transplanted in 25.72 lakh hectares, rice in 9.68 lakh hectares, pulses in 49.24 lakh hectares, coarse cereals in 20.17 lakh hectares and area sown under oilseeds in 42.03 lakh hectares.

The area sown so far and that sown during last year this time is as follows:

Lakh hectare 

CropArea sown in 2016-17Area sown in 2015-16Wheat25.7218.65Rice9.686.46Pulses49.2437.23Coarse Cereals20.1733.26Oilseeds42.0331.11Total146.85126.71

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Government agencies are closely monitoring receipt of fake currency notes in Banks and Post Office
Nov 14,2016

One of the primary objectives of cancellation of legal tender character of old series of Rs.500/- and Rs.1000/- notes was to check the menace of terror financing through counterfeit currency notes. The receipt of counterfeits/fake currency notes in Banks and Post Offices are, therefore, being monitored very closely. RBI has been advised by Ministry of Finance to set up a Special Cell to monitor the receipt of fake currency notes and inform such instances to the Economic Offences Wing of the State Police, Intelligence/Enforcement Agencies of the Central Government and also to the Ministry of Finance. A special watch is being kept on receipt of such fake notes in the States bordering our neighbouring countries. The Law Enforcement Agencies have also been advised to maintain close vigil over possible movement of fake currencies and take prompt action as and when such cases are detected by them as well as by RBI and Banks.

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the exemption given to service providers located in foreign territory but providing taxable OIDAR services
Nov 14,2016

With a view to provide a level playing field to Indian service providers providing taxable online information and database access or retrieval [OIDAR] services including electronic services in India, the exemption to such services provided in India by service providers located in foreign territory is being withdrawn with effect from 1st December 2016. Thus cross border business to consumer [B2C] OIDAR services provided by a foreign service provider to a person in India will become taxable from 1st December 2016 onwards.

The salient features of this levy are as under:

n++ A simplified online mechanism of taking registration has been prescribed and registration will be deemed to be granted online on submission of registration application.

n++ A simplified mechanism of online payment of taxes and online filing of returns is being prescribed.

A detailed Circular No. 202/12/2016-Service Tax dated 09 November 2016 has been issued by CBEC, explaining the likely issues arising from the withdrawl of this exemption.

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Bilateral Trade agreement between India and Bhutan
Nov 14,2016

Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman and H.E. Tengye Lyonpo Lekey Dorji, Minister for Economic Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan signed the Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and the Royal Government of Bhutan in the presence of H.E. Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan at the Gyalyong Tshokhang in Thimphu on 12 November, 2016.

The first Agreement on Trade and Commerce between Bhutan and India was signed in 1972. Since then, the Agreement has been renewed four times. The last Agreement was renewed on July 28, 2006 and was valid till July 29, 2016. The validity of the Agreement was extended for a period of one year or till the date of coming into force of the new Agreement, whichever is earlier, by exchange of diplomatic notes between the two countries.

The new bilateral Trade Agreement aims to enhance trade between the two countries through trade facilitation by improving procedures, cutting down on documentation and adding additional exit/entry points for Bhutans trade with other countries. It is also expected to further strengthen the excellent relations between the two countries.

She also had a bilateral meeting with a high level Bhutanese delegation led by Lyonpo Lekey Dorji, Minister for Economic Affairs of Bhutan where both the leaders discussed various issues related to bilateral trade, transit and investment.

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Issuance of the new series of Rs. 500/- notes commences
Nov 14,2016

The Union Finance Ministry reviewed the position regarding availability and distribution of all denomination of bank notes. Some of the highlights of the review and the decisions taken are as follows:-

1. In the first four days ( from November 10th to 13th , upto 5 pm ) about Rs 3.0 lacs crores of old Rs.500/- and Rs.1000/- bank notes have been deposited in the banking system and about Rs.50,000 crores has been dispensed to customers by either withdrawal from their accounts or withdrawal from ATMs or by exchange at the counter. Within these four days, the banking system has handled about 18 crore transactions.

2. Coordination is being continuously done by Ministry of Finance with RBI, Banks and Post Offices to make all denomination notes available at all locations.

3. Instructions have been given to the Banks and Post Offices to ensure proper distribution of all denomination notes. Banks have also been especially advised to ensure the availability and distribution of small denomination notes.

4. Chief Secretaries of the States have been requested to identify the rural pockets, if any, where availability of cash has been a problem and provide all support to the Banks and Post Offices in order to ensure the last mile distribution of small denomination of notes is done through mobile banking vans and Banking Correspondents (BCs).

5. It has been reported that certain business houses viz. Hospitals , Caterers , Tent houses etc. are not accepting Cheques/Demand Drafts and online payment transfer from customers. It is advised that in such cases customer can make a complaint to the concerned District Magistrates/District Administration for action against such establishments.

6. Government of Assam has arranged Mobile Banking Vans with support of Banks and State Government Staff at certain Hospitals for carrying out emergency banking transactions. All Banks have now been advised to arrange mobile banking vans to the extent possible at major hospitals to carry out emergency banking transaction for patients.

7. Banks have been advised to make arrangements for separate queues for Senior citizens and Divyang persons. Separate queues will also be arranged for exchange of cash to cash and transactions against Bank accounts.

8. Government of Arunachal Pradesh has made special arrangements like cash deposits /withdrawal and opening of new bank accounts in the remotely located areas with the help of Banks and State Government staff. State Governments have been requested to facilitate opening of new Bank accounts as a part of financial inclusion programme.

9. The issuance of the new series of Rs.500/- notes has already commenced.

10. Banks have been advised to increase the Business Correspondents limit of dispensing cash to Rs.2500/- for withdrawal from bank accounts.

11. Banks have been advised to increase the exchange limit over the counter from the existing Rs.4000/- to Rs.4500/-.

12. Banks have been advised to increase the Cash Withdrawal limit at ATMs from the existing Rs.2000/- to Rs.2500/- per day in the recalibrated ATMs, other ATMs will continue to dispense Rs.50/- and Rs.100/- notes until they are recalibrated.

13. The weekly limit of Rs.20,000/- for withdrawal from Bank accounts has been increased to Rs.24,000/-. The limit of Rs.10,000/- per day has been removed.

14. Banks have been advised to increase the issuance and use of mobile wallets and debit/credit cards as also to provide them to those customers and establishments not having access to these non-cash means of payment

15. The last date for submission of the annual life certificate for the Government Pensioners which is to be submitted in November every year has been extended up to January 15, 2017.

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Issuance of the new series of Rs. 500/- notes commenced
Nov 14,2016

The Union Finance Ministry today reviewed the position regarding availability and distribution of all denomination of bank notes. Some of the highlights of the review and the decisions taken are as follows:-

1. In the first four days ( from November 10th to 13th , upto 5 pm ) about Rs 3.0 lacs crores of old Rs.500/- and Rs.1000/- bank notes have been deposited in the banking system and about Rs.50,000 crores has been dispensed to customers by either withdrawal from their accounts or withdrawal from ATMs or by exchange at the counter. Within these four days, the banking system has handled about 18 crore transactions.

2. Coordination is being continuously done by Ministry of Finance with RBI, Banks and Post Offices to make all denomination notes available at all locations.

3. Instructions have been given to the Banks and Post Offices to ensure proper distribution of all denomination notes. Banks have also been especially advised to ensure the availability and distribution of small denomination notes.

4. Chief Secretaries of the States have been requested to identify the rural pockets, if any, where availability of cash has been a problem and provide all support to the Banks and Post Offices in order to ensure the last mile distribution of small denomination of notes is done through mobile banking vans and Banking Correspondents (BCs).

5. It has been reported that certain business houses viz. Hospitals , Caterers , Tent houses etc. are not accepting Cheques/Demand Drafts and online payment transfer from customers. It is advised that in such cases customer can make a complaint to the concerned District Magistrates/District Administration for action against such establishments.

6. Government of Assam has arranged a Mobile Banking Vans with support of Banks and State Government Staff at certain Hospitals for carrying out emergency banking transactions. All Banks have now been advised to arrange mobile banking vans to the extent possible at major hospitals to carry out emergency banking transaction for patients.

7. Banks have been advised to make arrangements for separate queues for Senior citizens and Divyang persons. Separate queues will also be arranged for exchange of cash to cash and transactions against Bank accounts.

8. Government of Arunachal Pradesh has made special arrangements like cash deposits /withdrawal and opening of new bank accounts in the remotely located areas with the help of Banks and State Government staff. State Governments have been requested to facilitate opening of new Bank accounts as a part of financial inclusion programme.

9. The issuance of the new series of Rs.500/- notes has already commenced.

10. Banks have been advised to increase the Business Correspondents limit of dispensing cash to Rs.2500/- for withdrawal from bank accounts.

11. Banks have been advised to increase the exchange limit over the counter from the existing Rs.4000/- to Rs.4500/-.

12. Banks have been advised to increase the Cash Withdrawal limit at ATMs from the existing Rs.2000/- to Rs.2500/- per day in the recalibrated ATMs, other ATMs will continue to dispense Rs.50/- and Rs.100/- notes until they are recalibrated.

13. The weekly limit of Rs.20,000/- for withdrawal from Bank accounts has been increased to Rs.24,000/-. The limit of Rs.10,000/- per day has been removed.

14. Banks have been advised to increase the issuance and use of mobile wallets and debit/credit cards as also to provide them to those customers and establishments not having access to these non-cash means of payment

15. The last date for submission of the annual life certificate for the Government Pensioners which is to be submitted in November every year has been extended up to January 15, 2017.

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Indias industrial production rises 0.7% in September 2016
Nov 11,2016

Indias industrial production rose 0.7% in September 2016 over September 2015, while snapping decline for last two straight months. The manufacturing sector production rose 0.9%, while the electricity generation moved up 2.4% contributing to rise in industrial production. However, the mining output continued to decline for second straight month at 3.1% in September 2016. Further, the growth of IIP and manufacturing sector continued to be impacted by sharp plunge in the output of rubber insulated cables (that carries marginal weight in the IIP), excluding which IIP grew 3.8% in September 2016.

As per the use-based classification, the basic goods output improved 4% in September 2016 over a year ago, while the output of intermediate goods moved up 2.2%. The consumer goods output increased 6%, but that of capital goods plunged 21.6% in September 2016. Within consumer goods, the production of consumer durables increased 14%, while that of consumer non-durables rose 0.1% in September 2016.

The IIP growth in August 2016 has been revised marginally upwards to (-) 0.68% in the first revision compared with (-) 0.74% reported provisionally. Meanwhile, the growth in June 2016 has been revised upwards to 2.2% at the final revision from first revision of 1.95%, while it is also higher compared with 2.06% reported provisionally.

In terms of industries, twelve out of the twenty two industry groups in the manufacturing sector have shown positive growth during the month of September 2016 as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

The industry groups Other transport equipment has shown the highest positive growth of 12.8%, followed by 11.1% in Basic metals and 10.6% in Radio, TV and communication equipment & apparatus.

On the other hand, Electrical machinery & apparatus has shown the highest negative growth of (-) 49.7% followed by (-) 28.0% in Office, accounting and computing machinery and (-) 7.7% in Luggage, handbags, saddlery, harness & footwear; tanning and dressing of leather products.

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I&B Ministry simplifies Annual Renewal process for existing TV channels as part of n++Ease of Doing Businessn++
Nov 11,2016

Shri M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for Information & Broadcasting has said that as part of the Governments initiative of n++Ease of Doing Businessn++, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has completely done away with the process of obtaining an n++Annual Renewaln++ for TV channels in the current form.

Elaborating further, Shri Naidu said that Broadcasters who have been given the permission for Uplinking or Downlinking can continue their operations by simply paying the annual permission fee upto 60 days before the due date, which by itself will be treated as permission for continuation of the channel for a further period of one year. Adding further, Shri Naidu said that this initiative by the Ministry is expected to provide a major relief for ease of doing business for the permission holding companies of the TV channels and teleports. He said a total of 963 Channels and Teleports shall benefit from this decision. The Ministry was fully committed to the vision of the present Government and the Honble Prime Minister to promote the Ease of Doing Business and would continue to take more steps in consultation with stakeholders.

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Fitch: Inadequate Capitalisation Threatens Indian State Banks
Nov 11,2016

Capital adequacy at Indias state banks remains a key theme against deteriorating asset quality and weak earnings, with some banks at risk of breaching their capital triggers, says Fitch Ratings.

The banks sharply deteriorating financial positions are adding to capital pressure at a time when progressively higher minimum Basel III capital requirements are being phased in.

State banks high dependence on the state for core equity is likely to continue. However, there are signs that the overseas additional Tier 1 (AT1) market could gain momentum as long as pricing differences are addressed.

Asset quality indicators are close to their weakest and Fitch expects recoveries and resolution of outstanding non-performing loans to remain a challenge, although NPL growth should be lower than the sharp spike witnessed in the previous year. The stress prevalent in weak sectors that account for a large share of special mention loans will increase provisioning demand, which will likely pressure earnings against a backdrop of weak growth forecasts.

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CBDT advancing to finalize draft forthcoming Budget for public consultations
Nov 11,2016

Initial draft of forthcoming budget is being finalized by Central Board of Direct Taxes following which it would be placed for public and industries consultations for their reactions to make it more comprehensive and inclusive, according to Chairman, CBDT, Mr. Sushil Chandra.

Chandra emphasized that the board is committed to bring in complete transparency in Indias tax administration as well as its tax policies that would be entirely friendly, leading to facilitation of businesses.

The Chairman, CBDT, however, appealed to the industry and business community not to use international tax treaties for tax avoidance, rather make use of them for facilitation of businesses in all segments of economic engagements.

Elaborating on forthcoming budget making exercise, Mr. Chandra pointed out that it has been almost finalized with few additions here and there, following which it would be taken for larger industry and public consultations so that their suggestions and recommendations relating to taxation and other such issues are absorbed in the document for optimum satisfaction of both government and industry including public.

Speaking on the occasion, Principal CCIT (International Tax & Transfer Pricing), Mr. Akhilesh Ranjan reiterated the governments resolve for bringing in absolute transparency in its tax administration and tax dispensation so that businesses flourish without obstruction to government revenues.

He emphasized that on the issue of transfer pricing, the government has been moving on the right direction, removing complexities in it and added that there is a consensus on host of such issues in G-20 group of nations in which India has begun to play a dominant role.

In his welcome remarks, Sr. Vice President, PHD Chamber, Mr. Gopal S Jiwarajka and the Chambers Direct Taxes Committee Chairman, Mr. Anil K Chopra sought fair play for all that have become participants in Indias global engagements including its growth engine. They appreciated various positive measures by the tax department that are helping India to become a preferred destination.

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Mobile payment transaction volume to rise manifold to reach 153 billion by FY22: Study
Nov 11,2016

The mobile payment transaction volume in India is likely to witness exponential compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 90 per cent to reach 153 billion by FY 2022 as against a meagre about 3 billion in FY 2016, noted a recent ASSOCHAM-RNCOS joint study.

n++Mobile payment transaction value in India is also likely to register over 150 per cent CAGR and cross Rs 2,000 trillion by FY 2022 from just over Rs 8 trillion as of FY 2016,n++ noted the study titled Indian M-wallet market, jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and research firm RNCOS.

n++The digital payment sector might register unprecedented growth thereby replacing traditional cards and cash as the primary payment method over the next several years but what is required is to make such systems more foolproof,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM.

n++Flagship government initiatives such as Digital India together with union governments announcement about demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination notes will act as key catalysts and enablers of this transformation more so with ever-increasing internet and mobile penetration as adoption of digital payments is all set to witness a massive surge in the coming years,n++ said Mr Rawat.

n++With over one billion mobile subscribers, India has a promising potential for internet on mobile, and the same is expected for payments and business transactions on mobile,n++ he added.

Mobile banking segment contributed largest share of 49 per cent in Indian mobile payment market with over 386 million transactions worth Rs 4,000 billion in FY16, with majority being money transfers, the study noted.

Besides, share of mobile banking in M-payment market has increased tremendously from eight per cent in FY14 to 49 per cent in FY16.

However, mPOS (mobile point of sale) has the largest market share of 66 per cent in volume terms in FY16 which has fallen down from the level of 85 per cent in FY14 owing to significant number of people shifting to mobile banking for convenience and to avoid carrying various cards.

The study also highlighted that mPOS segements share in mobile payment is likely to fall further and by FY22, share of mobile banking is likely to rise to 14 per cent in terms of volume.

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Sugar stocks are enough in the country, Government is keeping a close watch on prices - Ram Vilas Paswan
Nov 10,2016

Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan reviewed prices and availability of sugar in the country in a meeting with senior officials of his Ministry. After review he said that the Government has taken necessary steps to maintain sufficient stocks in the country and keep the sugar prices under check.

He has said that during the current Sugar Season 2016-17, the country has started with a carryover stock of 7.71 million MT (mMT) of sugar. The production of sugar has been estimated at about 22.52 mMT in the current sugar season. While the domestic consumption is estimated at about 25.5 mMT, the stock position at the close of the current sugar season (Sept. 2017) is likely to be at 4.73 mMT which will be carried forward for the next sugar season 2017-18.

Thus the total availability of sugar in the country would be sufficient to meet the domestic consumption.

Further, the sugar production in the next sugar season (2017-18) is expected to be good and is likely to start early and therefore there will be no shortage of domestically produced sugar in India. By November 2017, another 2 mMT would be available from early crushing.

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