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Amendment in Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme (PMGKDS), 2016
Feb 08,2017

The Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), had notified Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme (PMGKDS), 2016 vide Notification No. S.O.4061(E) dated December 16, 2016. The deposit under this Scheme shall be made by any person who declared undisclosed income under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016. The deposit sum, which shall not be less than twenty-five per cent of the declared undisclosed income, can be deposited at the authorized banks (as notified by Government of India) from December 17, 2016 (Saturday) to March 31, 2017 (Friday).

In this connection, the Government of India has decided to allow declarants to make deposits on one or more occasions in the PMGKDS, 2016. Accordingly, para 4(4) of the notification stands amended as under:

n++4. Subscription and Mode of investment in the Bonds Ledger Account- (4), the deposit to be made under sub-section (1) of Section 199F under this Scheme can be made, on one or more occasions. The deposits shall be made before filing declaration under sub-section (1) of section 199C.n++

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CBDT issues Certificates of appreciation to nearly 3.74 lakh tax payers for their contribution towards Nation building
Feb 08,2017

In continuation of the initiative of the Government to acknowledge the contribution of tax payers by paying taxes towards nation building and promptness in filing of Income Tax Returns, CBDT has issued the third round of Certificates to nearly 3.74 Lakh tax payers. With this, the total number of certificates issued by CBDT now stands at approximately 23 Lakh.

Individual tax payers may take note that such certificates of appreciation are only sent by e-mail in various categories on the basis of the taxes paid by them for the Assessment Year 2016-17, where taxes have been paid in full, tax payers have no outstanding tax liabilities, the return is e-filed within the prescribed due date and verified through Digital Signature or Electronic Verification Code (EVC) or submission of signed ITR-V to CPC Bangalore. The categories for individual taxpayers are:

i. Platinum -Taxpayers who have contributed Rs 1 Crore and above as tax

ii. Gold -Taxpayers who have contributed between Rs 50 Lakh and Rs 1 Crore as tax

iii. Silver -Taxpayers who have contributed between Rs 10Lakh and Rs50 Lakh as tax

iv. Bronze -Taxpayers who have contributed between Rs 1 Lakh and Rs 10 Lakh as tax

Taxpayers are advised to verify and update their email address and mobile number on the e-filing website to receive electronic communication. It may be noted that taxpayers can provide upto two email and two mobile numbers in their profile. Therefore, it is strongly advised that taxpayers should provide their personal and regularly used Email and Mobile number as their primary email.

The CBDT urges taxpayers to e-file their returns in time and verify their return by submitting the Electronic Verification Code online or sending their ITR-V within the 120 day period so that they can be also acknowledged for their contribution.

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Speedy Recovery of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) of Public Sector Banks (PSBs)
Feb 07,2017

Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) of Public Sector Banks (PSBs) as on September, 2016 stands at Rs.5,89,502 Crore (11.82%).

During FY 2015 and FY 2016 PSBs made total NPA recoveries of Rs.42,542 Crore and Rs.39,986 Crore, respectively. The bank-wise details of recovery of NPAs due to actual recoveries in the PSBs during the last two years as per Table below. Based on above data it is observed that PSBs recorded only a moderate decline of Rs. 2,556 Crore in NPA recoveries.

The Government has taken sector specific measures (Infrastructure, Power, Road, textiles, Steel etc.) where incidence of NPA is high. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy code (IBC) has been enacted and Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act (SARFAESI) and The Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions (RDDBFI) Act have been amended to improve resolution/recovery of bank loans. Six new Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRTs) have been established for improving recovery. RBI has provided a number of tools in this regard- Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR), Formation of Joint Lenders Forum (JLF), Flexible Structuring for long term project loans to Infrastructure and Core industries (5/25 Scheme), Strategic Debt Restructuring Scheme (SDR) and Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A).

ANNEXNPA REDUCTION DATA FOR PUBLIC SECTOR BANKS(Rs. In Crore)Bank NameTotal reduction in NPAs- due to actual recoveries during the FY20152016Allahabad Bank8272,465Andhra Bank1,156729Bank of Baroda1,2951,347Bank of India2,7983,153Bank of Maharashtra430645Bharatiya Mahila Bank Ltd.--Canara Bank1,8711,260Central Bank of India3,4303,087Corporation Bank318477Dena Bank595728IDBI Bank Limited1,149840Indian Bank525513Indian Overseas Bank2,3421,784Oriental Bank of Commerce1,0101,149Punjab & Sind Bank190217Punjab National Bank4,2206,001Syndicate Bank1,0711,248UCO Bank1,6291,369Union Bank of India1,125844United Bank of India1,2371,095Vijaya Bank646288Nationalised Banks27,86429,239State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur575756State Bank of Hyderabad1,9812,503State Bank of India8,5004,119State Bank of Mysore1,014490State Bank of Patiala1,4111,405State Bank of Travancore1,1971,474SBI Group14,67810,747Public Sector Banks42,54239,986Source: RBI

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Conversion of Kisan Credit Cards into Rupay Cards
Feb 07,2017

Under revised Kisan Credit Card (KCC) Scheme issued by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), withdrawal through ATM/Debit Cards has been allowed as one of the delivery channels for the drawal of the drawing limit for the current season/year. The Government has been closely monitoring the progress of conversion of Kisan Credit Cards (KCCs) to RuPay ATM cum Debit Kisan Credit Cards (RKCCs). The Government has now decided that NABARD will coordinate the conversion of operative/live KCCs into RKCCs by Cooperative Banks and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) in a mission mode. Conversion of KCCs into RKCCs will facilitate the farmers in undertaking financial transactions on digital platform. The use of RKCCs may increase the frequency of funds accessed by the farmer as there will be ease in withdrawing cash as and when required. This periodic withdrawal of small amounts will help in reducing the interest burden on the farmers and enable them to access credit as per their needs.

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Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare constitutes a committee to achieve the target of doubling of income of farmers by March 2022
Feb 07,2017

To understand the impact of demonetization on farming sector, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NIAP) conducted a short survey of farmers in few villages around Delhi under Mera Gaon Mera Gaurav (MGMG) initiative. Survey findings could not establish any significant adverse effect of demonetization on input availability, market arrivals of produce and area sown in Rabi season. As per preliminary reports received from the States, the total area sown under Rabi crops as on 27th January, 2017 stands at 637.34 lakh hectares as compared to 600.02 lakh hectares this time in 2016 indicating no significant impact of demonetization on Rabi sowing.

In order to achieve the target of doubling of income of farmers by March 2022, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare has constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of Additional Secretary, for the following aspects:

i) To study the current income level of farmers/ agricultural labourers

ii) To measure the historical growth rate of the current income level

iii) To determine the needed growth rate to double the income of farmers/agricultural labourers by the year 2021-22

iv) To consider and recommend various strategies to be adopted to accomplish (iii) above

v) To recommend an institutional mechanism to review and monitor implementation to realise the goal

vi) To examine any other related issue.

The Committee has held five meetings so far to evolve a suitable strategy.

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Moodys: Asian liquidity stress index improves for second consecutive month to 29.4% in January
Feb 07,2017

Moodys Investors Service says that its Asian Liquidity Stress Index (Asian LSI) fell for the second consecutive month in January 2017, registering 29.4% a slight improvement from 30.3% in December 2016.

The Asian LSI fell to 29.4% largely due to an increase in the number of Moodys-rated high-yield companies to 126 from 122 January but also reflects the second consecutive month showing improvement in the index and fifth consecutive month it is below the trailing 12-month average of 31.8%, says Brian Grieser, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Analyst.

The index measures the percentage of high-yield companies with SGL-4 scores and increases when speculative-grade liquidity appears to deteriorate.

However, the Asian LSI remains above the long-term average of 22.7%, highlighting the ongoing weakness in corporate liquidity profiles across Asia adds Grieser.

The liquidity stress sub-index for North Asian high-yield issuers fell to 30.5% in January 2017 from 32.5% in December 2016. Within this portfolio, the Chinese sub-index dropped to 31.9% from 34.3%. The Chinese high-yield property sub-index fell to 17.5% from 20.0%, and is now at its lowest level since November 2014. Meanwhile, the Chinese high-yield industrial sub-index dropped to 50.0% from 53.3%.

The liquidity stress sub-index for South and Southeast Asian high-yield issuers rose to 27.3% from 26.2%. By contrast, the Indonesian sub-index fell to 23.8% from 26.3%.

Moodys report points out that in January 2017, Moodys downgraded three high-yield issuers and there was one fallen angel, a term which denotes a company which was downgraded from an investment-grade to a non-investment grade rating. The downward rating actions continue the trend that has seen downgrades exceed upgrades every quarter since Q2 2013.

Across Moodys portfolio of 126 rated high-yield issuers, the percentage of negative leaning outlooks n++ meaning ratings with either a negative outlook or on review for downgrade n++ fell to 34.9% in January 2017 from 35.2% in December 2016.

Moodys also says that 11 bond deals closed during January 2017, raising $3.6 billion, and representing the strongest monthly issuance of rated high-yield debt in Asia since January 2014. Chinese corporates accounted for nine of the 11 deals, and two-thirds of the total dollar amount issued.

At 31 January 2017, Moodys rated 126 speculative-grade non-financial corporates in Asia n++ excluding Japan and Australia n++ with rated debt totaling $64.7 billion.

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Focus of the Budget is on tax compliance
Feb 07,2017

The budget this year focuses on the clarity and certainty of the tax laws, while at the same time endeavoring to make the country more tax compliant and to honour the honest taxpayers. The focus areas for the budget this year are digitalization, demonetization, expansion of tax base, and saving the genuine tax payers from any harassment from the taxmann++, said Mr Sushil Chandra, Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Ministry of Finance.

Mr Sushil Chandra further emphasized on the policy and direction of the budget, and assured the industry that the Government would come up with any clarifications that might be called for on any of the newly introduced legislations, such as GAAR and POEM.

Mr Ram Tirath, Member - Budget and GST, Central Board of Excise & Customs, Ministry of Finance mentioned that n++since the Government is committed on bringing GST with effect from 1st July, there are not many changes in the area of indirect taxes. The changes that have been incorporated in the budget are largely in the areas of digitization, ease of doing business, export promotion and anti-avoidance. The move to GST will be a smart transformation, i.e. Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsible and Transparent, and will radically change the indirect taxation scenario of the countryn++. Mr Ram Tirath further added that the final GST law is expected to be in the public domain by the end of March.

Mr Sushil Kumar Sahai, Member - Income Tax, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Ministry of Finance addressed the concerns of the industry on issues involving tax reduction for MSME companies, MAT, APA, IndAS, GAAR and POEM. Mr Sahai stressed on the focus of the Government to save the genuine tax payers from any harassment under the newly launched Operation Clean Money. He promised to take back to the Government the concerns of the industry on the levy of surcharge on personal incomes between Rs 50 lakhs and 1 crore.

Mr Rajiv Memani, Chairman, CII National Committee on Taxation congratulated the Government on coming up with an outstanding and prudent budget, with emphasis on fiscal prudence, widening of the tax base, ease of doing business and tax compliance. Mr Memani appreciated the reduction of corporate tax rate for MSMEs, saying that it would go a long way in supporting the growth of the sector.

Mr Memani requested the Government to consider and address the concerns of the industry on various issues like MAT, APA, GAAR, long term capital gains, possible harassment to tax payers and Operation Clean money. n++The Government should reconsider the surcharge proposed on incomes between Rs 50 lakhs and 1 crore, as the move goes against the Governments intention to reward the honest taxpayers The Government should consider reducing the rate of surcharge to 5%, if not remove it altogethern++, suggested Mr Memani.

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GDP growth to be 7% plus in 2017-18, says Economic Affairs Secretary
Feb 07,2017

The 2017-18 Union Budget charts a story that is consistent with the policies of Government in the last couple of years, is predictable in its approach and is shorn of unnecessary surprises for the industry and society, said Mr. Ashok Lavasa, Finance and Expenditure Secretary, Ministry of Finance, while addressing the National Executive Committee Meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Mr. Lavasas observations were corroborated by Mr. Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who said that the Budget maintains the Governments commitment with regard to reforms and taxation policy.

The Finance Secretary said that the Budget demonstrates that governance reforms were fundamental to transforming the economy and energising the people. Cleaning the system was another key component of the Finance Ministers proposals which is attempted through a series of steps such as Aadhar linked devolution of government support and subsidies to the targeted beneficiaries, expenditure reforms and the proposed revamping of the General Financial Rules to monitor how the various departments were expending the allocated funds.

Mr. Lavasa said that governance was being made more transparent and efficient through measures such as government procurement through the e-marketplace, rationalisation of Central sector schemes and reduction in Centrally-sponsored schemes.

He said that technology was being increasingly employed to impart efficiency in expending fund and space technology was being deployed to geo-map the creation of assets on the ground. This, he said, would help in framing an outcome budget. Once, every two years of the duration of a government scheme, an evaluation would be done on the way funds were being spent.

Mr. Lavasa described the Budget as progressive without being high sounding; pragmatic without being conservative and people-oriented without being populist.

Mr. Shaktikanta Das maintained the impact on demonetization on growth would be very transient and that it would not spill over to the next year which would see a growth of 7% plus and the economy would continue to do well thereafter. In spite of the stronger global headwinds, India remained buoyant, he emphasized.

In his elucidation on the Budget proposals, Mr. Das said that the Government had stuck to its commitment with a progressive outlook. This is seen by avoidance of retrospectivity in taxation, targeting of government support through Aadhar, reforms in agriculture, especially the model law on contract framing, UGC reforms, proposed amendments to the Airports Authority Act, metro development to harness private investment and skills and integration of spot and derivative markets to provide remunerative prices to farmers.

Mr. Hasmukh Adhia, Secretary, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, said that the most challenging task for the government is to increase the share of personal income tax in GDP, which at present was abysmally low. He said that personal income tax has a share of a mere two per cent, which needs to be raised substantially. Also, the profile of personal income tax does not match with the consumption profile of the country, which needs to be looked at.

Speaking on the issue of Indias corporate income tax not being globally competitive, Mr. Adhia said that the government had limited resources and therefore moderation in corporate income tax rate has to be seen in the context of a concomitant expansion of the tax net. On GST, he said that it was well on track with the Centre and State Governments on board and it is hoped that on July 1, 2017, GST will become a reality.

Mr. Sushil Chandra, Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Ministry of Finance, and Mr. S Ramesh, Member, Central Excise, Service Tax & IT, Ministry of Finance, explained and clarified the provisions of the Finance Act and reiterated that the government was simplifying the tax regime to the extent possible for industry and individual taxpayers. The government was employing technology to make tax assessment faceless.

Earlier, Mr. Dinesh Kanabar, Chair, FICCI Committee on Taxation & CEO, Dhruva Advisors LLP, gave snapshots of the plusses and minuses of the Budget proposals with regard to direct taxation and Mr. Mahesh Jaising, Partner, BMR Advisors LLP, made a presentation on the indirect tax proposals.

According to a FICCI analysis on Economics of Union Budget 2017-18, the budget would strengthen the economic muscle of the country. It is directionally correct, fiscally prudent and strengthens the governance fabric of the nation. There is a balancing of objectives of higher economic growth and improved economic justice.

However, implementation is the key, especially with respect to capital expenditure, dsinvestment, tax reforms and Ease of Doing Business. Additionally, FICCI looks forward to additional measures over the year with regard to corporate tax reduction for large companies, and a further capital infusion in PSBs and introduction of Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency (PARA).

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Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)
Feb 07,2017

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT),Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance has entered into four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs).

The four APAs signed pertain to the Manufacturing, Financial and Information Technology sectors of the economy. The international transactions covered in these agreements include Contract Manufacturing, IT Enabled Services and Software Development Services.

With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 130. This includes 8 bilateral APAs and 122 Unilateral APAs. In the current financial year, a total of 66 APAs (5 bilateral APAs and 61 unilateral APAs) have already been entered into. The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed before the end of the current fiscal.

The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the n++Rollbackn++ provisions were introduced in 2014. The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the prices of international transactions in advance. Since its inception, the APA scheme has evinced a lot of interest from taxpayers and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) being filed so far in about five years.

The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Governments resolve of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime. The Indian APA program has been appreciated nationally and internationally for being able to address complex transfer pricing issues in a fair and transparent manner.

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3.56 Cr fake/duplicate accounts identified for 2015-16 under PAHAL
Feb 07,2017

The Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan said that implementation of PAHAL has resulted in identification of 3.34 crore and 3.56 crore ghost/fake/duplicate accounts during Financial Year 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively. The total subsidy / under recovery on domestic LPG during the financial years 2014-15 and 2015-16 was Rs. 40569 crore and Rs 16074 crore, respectively. Lower subsidy during the last year is due to various factors, including introduction of direct transfer of subsidies into the accounts of consumers (PAHAL Scheme) and fall in international crude oil prices.

As on 29 January 2017, 1,05,46,090 LPG consumers have voluntarily given up/ surrendered their LPG subsidy. Government has also issued a circular stating that the benefit of the LPG subsidy will not be admissible for the LPG consumers, if the consumer or his wife/her spouse had taxable income of Rs. 10 lakh and above during the previous financial year computed as per the income Tax Act 1961.

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Percentage of milk producers/farmers with bank accounts increase from 49.27% to 63.42% after demonetization
Feb 07,2017

Consequent upon the Central Governments decisions of demonetization, certain unintended impacts have been observed especially in the sectors thriving upon sheer cash transactions. In this regard, non-availability of funds to the co-operative banks for making payments to Milk producers/farmers by dairy co-operative against the milk supplied by them came to the notice of the Government.

Responding promptly to the prevailing situation of reported payment problems, the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh has regularly reviewed and directed to take appropriate action to alleviate the problems. Meetings with Mother Dairy, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Fed (GCMMF) /Amul, Delhi Milk Scheme and other State Co-operative Dairy Federations are taken at regular intervals.

In order to take stock of the prevailing situation, the Secretary Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Shri Devendra Chaudhry has accordingly convened a series of meetings and initiated actions for streamlining the payment system to Milk producers and even sale of milk to consumers through cashless transactions primarily.

GCMMF/Amul has been specifically directed to ensure 100% milk producers accounts to be opened by 30th December, 2016. Similarly, other co-operatives have been directed to ensure the opening of 100% accounts of milk producers/farmers by 30th January, 2017.

Specific instructions have been issued to all the agencies such as National Dairy Development Board, Mother Dairy, Delhi Milk Scheme and all state Dairy co-operative federations for ensuring direct payment to milk producers bank account at the earliest. Low penetration of nationalized banks and co-operative bank accounts in rural areas need adequate financial support with appropriate safe guards. This department vides D.O. letters dated 06.12.2016 have taken up the matter with the Department of Economic Affairs and Reserve Bank of India to provide necessary funding support to the cooperative banks in rural areas with appropriate safeguard to protect the interest of milk producers and for timely payment of the milk supplied by them.

It is to be noted that there are 1.70 lakh Dairy Co-operative Societies (DCS) at village level having 1.6 crore milk producers affiliated with 218 milk unions. About 850 lakh litres per day Milk is procured totally, of which co-operative sector procures about 425 lakh litres per day and about 425 lakh litres per day is procured by private sector. The value of the milk procured by Village level DCS is to the tune of rupees 120 crore per day. For weekly and 10 days payment cycle the substantive amount is to be disbursed to lakhs of milk producers spread over varied geographical areas.

Using the window of opportunity opened by the demonetization decision, it is high time to accelerate the opening of bank accounts of all those unbanked milk producers to make it cashless and digital sooner than later. Eventually, transparency saving habits, financial enclosure etc. would be benefiting milk producer in multiple ways.

The situation of easing the payment to milk producers is being reviewed and monitored periodically by the Central Government.

As per information received from NDDB and 23 major State Co-op dairy federations, the status of cashless payment to milk producers is as below:

Participating agencies i.e

NDDB Dairy Services and 23 State Milk Federations

No of Farmers (Nos in Lakh)Details of payment done (amount Rs in Crore)Total with bank account without  bank account % farmers having bank A/cTotal through Bank accounts through Cash% cashless TransactionPre- Demonetization (1- 8th Nov 2016)31.6415.5916.0549.27 %? 215.23? 51.28? 153.7723.82 %Post-Demonetization (9th Nov 2016 to 18 Jan 2017) 88.9956.4332.5663.42 %? 1,146.60? 828.39? 318.2172.25 %

The above table shows that:-

1.      The percentage of farmers with bank accounts has increased from 49.27% to 63.42%.

2.      The cashless transaction to farmers after demonetization has increased from 23.82% to 72.25%.

3.      Due to close follow up, now only 27.75% farmers are being paid through cash, balance through bank accounts. Further that, the sale of milk has gone up by 2.81% in December 2016 as compared to December 2015 and the overall sale of milk from April- Dec 2016 has gone up to  328.91 lakh litres per day as compared to 321.43 lakh litres per day in April- Dec 2015.

It is evident from the above facts that situation regarding making cashless payment to the farmers has considerably improved over last two months and there is no negative impact of demonetization.

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India and Austria Sign a Protocol amending the India-Austria Double Taxation Avoidance Convention
Feb 07,2017

India and Austria signed a Protocol amending the existing Convention between the two countries for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income here today. The Protocol was signed by Shri Sushil Chandra, Chairman CBDT on behalf of India and Mr. Georg Zehetner, Charge d Affaires, Embassy of Austria on behalf of Austria.

The Protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two countries and will also enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes.

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Maharashtra to become Open Defecation Free by March 2018
Feb 07,2017

The Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, Shri Swadhin Kshatriya has conveyed to the Centre that the State will be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) by March 2018. He said this in a meeting with the Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Parameswaran Iyer, in Mumbai, and mentioned that Maharashtra is on track to achieve this goal.

The Secretary was further informed that the Government of Maharashtra has a strong third party verification system for ODF declarations in the State, with three levels of verification. The Chief Secretary said that Maharashtra is not only aiming for ODF achievement, but also aiming to include handwashing, menstrual hygiene, community toilets etc. as part of Swachh Bharat implementation in the State. Multiple cleanliness campaigns - such as Clean Offices, Clean GPs, Clean Schools - are also underway in the State.

The Secretary, in turn, assured the State of full support from the Ministry in their efforts. Under the Zila Swachh Bharat Prerak initiative, a Prerak will be provided at district-level in the State to support SBM(G) activities by the Ministry, in association with the Tata Trusts. The Secretary made a presentation to Chief Managing Directors of all Western Region PSUs in presence of Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises, to encourage them to contribute to the Swachh Bharat Mission. The presentation was well-received, with many PSUs mentioning initiatives currently undertaken by them, including school sanitation, toilets along highways etc. The Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises, stressed at the meeting that the PSUs must train their workers and management trainees as sanitation champions and agents of change.

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50 lacs Universal Account Number (UAN) allotted to Construction Workers
Feb 07,2017

The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996, provides levy and collection of cess at such rate not exceeding two per cent but not less than one per cent of the cost of construction as the Central Government may notify. The cess has been levied and being collected at the rate of 1% of the cost of construction as notified by the Central Government in the Official Gazette.

The cumulative total of the amount of cess collected by the States/ UTs upto 20.12.2016, at the rate of 1% of the cost of construction is Rs. 31694 crore of which Rs. 6866 crore has been spent.

Universal Account Number (UAN) allotted to construction workers is over 50 lakhs as on 17.01.2017.

The Government has enacted the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 and the Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996 to regulate the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers and to provide for their safety, health and welfare measures.

The State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Boards of the respective states have formulated welfare schemes to provide benefits to building and other construction workers as mandated under Section 22 of the Act. Section 22 of the Act stipulates following benefits:

(a) provide immediate assistance to a beneficiary in case of accident;

(b) make payment of pension to the beneficiaries who have completed the age of sixty years;

(c) sanction loans and advances to a beneficiary for construction of a house not exceeding such amount and on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed;

(d) pay such amount in connection with premia for Group Insurance Scheme of the beneficiaries as it may deem fit;

(e) give such financial assistance for the education of children of the beneficiaries as may be prescribed;

(f) meet such medical expenses for treatment of major ailments of a beneficiary or, such dependent, as may be prescribed;

(g) make payment of maternity benefit to the female beneficiaries; and

(h) make provisions and improvement of such other welfare measures and facilities as may be prescribed.

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Rs. 10000 crore Special Banking Arrangement made in Budget 2017 to clear Fertilizer Subsidy dues: Shri Ananth Kumar
Feb 07,2017

Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Shri Ananth Kumar appraised the achievements of Department of Chemicals, Fertilizers and Pharmaceuticals during the last three years.

Speaking on budget allocations for the Fertilizer sector, the Minister said that the overall budget allocation for the Department of Fertilizer for the year 2017-18 is 74,235 crores. He added that Fertilizers, along with Power, has been the torchbearer of achievement of this Government. It has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the last quarter. Further, to reduce the burden of fertilizer subsidy backlogs, a Special Banking Arrangement of Rs. 10000 crores has been approved in this Budget to clear fertilizer subsidy dues, the Minister informed.

Shri Ananthkumar stated that the Government has taken key measures to make the country self-sufficient in urea and other fertilizers like promoting energy efficiency in urea production, maximizing indigenous urea production, timely import of urea and other fertilizers, prepositioning of fertilizers with the States during lean season to ensure adequate supply in the season and rationalizing the subsidy. Such steps have resulted in highest ever production of 245 LMT of urea previous year, without adding additional capacity. Indigenous urea as well as imported urea have been neem coated. This has resulted in an increase in farm yield with less urea required and helped check black marketing and hoarding of urea, he added.

Regarding the revival of the Gorakhpur, Sindri units of FCIL and Baruni unit of HFCL, the Minister informed that approval of the Cabinet has been obtained to revive the three units. Cabinet approval has also been obtained for setting up of new ammonia urea complex at Namrup within existing premises of Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizers Corporation Limited. Further, the Talcher plant will be the first ever unit to be revived based on the coal gasification technology, he added.

Keeping in pace with the international market, the Department has engaged fertilizers companies to reduce the prices of DAP, MOP and complex fertilizers by Rs. 125, 250 & 50 respectively per 50 gm bag from June, 2016. Prices of DAP has again been reduced by Rs. 65 per 50gm during December, 2016.

Informing about the implementation of policy of promotion of city compost, Shri Ananthkumar said that the Government of India approved policy on promotion of city compost in which Marketing Development Assistance (MDA) of Rs. 1500/MT has been provided for scaling of production and consumption of city compost. A budget provision of Rs. 15 crores has been made for releasing the MDA during 2017-18 on sale of city compost.

Speaking about the Direct Benefit Transfer in fertilizer subsidy payment it was informed by the Honble Minister that a decision to implement the DBT in fertilizer sector was announced during the budget speech of 2016-17 with a view to improve service delivery to farmers. The proposed DBT model in fertilizers is different from conventional system of continue to receive urea at statutory price and P&K fertilizers at subsidized prices in the market. The fertilizers companies used to receive subsidy on receipt of fertilizes at the district, will now get subsidy after the fertilizers are sold to farmers/ beneficiaries by the retailers to point of sale (POS) machines through biometric authentication.

In the Pharmaceutical sector, the Minister informed that under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) over 760 Jan Aushadhi Kendras are functioning across the country. With the Governments target to achieve 3000 JAKs, every tehsil would have one JAK soon. Currently over 450 medicines and 150 health supplements are available at around one-third the price of branded drugs at the JAKs. Further, the Minister that Medical devices parks are coming up at four locations including Vishakhapatnam, Baddi (Himachal Pradesh) and others in Gujarat and Telangana. Shri Kumar also informed about the coming up of National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), the latest been set up at Jhalawar, Rajasthan. These institutes would lead to path breaking research in pharma sector and give a boost to creating a strong force of pharma scientists in the country.

Talking about achievements in Chemicals & Petrochemicals sector, Shri Kumar informed about the focus of the government on establishing Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology (CIPET) and Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Regions (PCPIRs) and plastic parks to give a boost to the Make in India mission. This step would lead to the generation of over 39 lakh employments opportunities in times to come, he added. Answering a question on strategic sales of Fertilizer PSUs, Shri Kumar informed that strategic sale is a method of utilizing the excess land resources available with loss making fertilizer PSUs to mitigate all liabilities and aid in the revival of the plant in turn. This would have no effect on the availability of affordable medicines in the market, he added.

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