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Feds Accommodative Stance Ensures High Yielding Indian Assets Stay Attractive
Aug 01,2016

The Feds move to leave rates unchanged is expected to keep the Indian bond and currency markets buoyant in the near term, as high yielding Indian assets retain their attractiveness, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Ind-Ra expects major global central banks to stay on the accommodative course, fueling appetite and risk preferences across markets. The agency believes that the US Fed however has left the door open for one rate hike in the remainder of 2016 - contingent upon growth recovery and inflation moving closer to the Feds 2% target.

The US Federal Reserve kept its interest rate target in the 0.25% to 0.5% range, while reiterating its accommodative stance on monetary policy. The Fed assessed that while economic activity is likely to pick-up as headwinds to the US recovery prospects get alleviated, inflation continues to remain low. The agency opines that the Fed will be cautious before proceeding with the first rate hike in 2016, even as it leaves the door open to normalise rates before the end of 2016.

Following the extended period of low economic activity and the possible geopolitical risks post Brexit, global central banks have stayed circumspect of the ongoing fragile recovery and demonstrated their readiness to use the available means to boost the economy. Last week, the European Central Bank indicated that it is ready to take fresh action in order to stimulate the economy, if needed. Additionally, yesterday, Japanese policymakers renewed their efforts to revive the faltering domestic economy- announcing a stimulus package of USD265bn.

On the domestic front, the 10-year benchmark G-sec yield dropped to 7.21% in early trade today- lowest in over three years, on the back of strong foreign portfolio investor interest. Since the start of July 2016, post the increase in the debt investment limits, foreign portfolio investors have bought G-sec worth net INR81bn. On the other hand, the reined in volatility in the rupee also enhances the attractiveness of Indian assets among other emerging markets.

The yields on G-sec are likely to stay soft in the near term; even as the agency believes a major chunk of the rally is already underway. The three key factors which are likely to boost the ongoing positive momentum in domestic debt markets and lead to a flattening of the curve are (1) high spread differential (between major global yields and domestic G-sec yields, as also between domestic overnight rates and longer tenor yields) (2) Reserve Bank of Indias endeavor to keep liquidity close to the neutral zone- ensuring adequate systemic liquidity (3) reserve money accretion through incremental open market operation purchases of G-sec. The Reserve Bank of India has already conducted open market purchase operations worth INR800bn since April 2016- negating part of INR1.56trn net G-sec supply till date.

Accommodative central banks and ensuring risk preference will augur well for the Indian currency in the near term. Barring the US Fed, most major central banks have exhibited their preference to stay on the easing course- thus ensuring the rupee stays anchored. The agency believes that, in the near term, the rupee is likely to trade with an overall stable bias as investors focus on the ongoing monsoon session of parliament to discern signs of the meaningful progress on key reforms along-with the corporate earnings season.

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Government of India brought out the National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) to bring quantitative and qualitative change in the manufacturing sector
Aug 01,2016

Government of India brought out the National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) to bring quantitative and qualitative change in the manufacturing sector with the aim to increase the manufacturing sector growth to 12-14% over the medium term to enable manufacturing sector to contribute at least 25% of the National GDP by 2022 and also by creation of 100 million additional jobs by 2022.The manufacturing sector grew by 3.3% during April-December 2015 as compared to 1.8% during the corresponding period in 2014. As per CSO, the share of manufacturing in GDP at current prices is 14.69% during 2015-16.

Various policy measures taken by the Government for creating enabling environment for industrial growth have started showing its impact on increased FDI inflows and creation of state-of-art infrastructure. The landmark initiatives like Make in India, Ease of Doing Business, Start Up India, Digital India, and Smart Cities, etc. will provide further impetus to industries and the manufacturing sector is expected to be the key driver of economic growth in the country. Presently, there is no proposal to amend the NMP under consideration of the Government.

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Internet is not confined to boundary: Kiren Rijiju
Aug 01,2016

Cyber world is real and need to understand the real internet, the more we are getting inside, the more challenges we are bound to face it, said Mr Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs at The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) event.

Internet is not confined to the boundary, it is virtual internet world and we are internet connected, said Mr Rijiju.

He stressed upon the important aspect of cyber security cooperation. Mr. Rijiju said Yesterday we had a long discussion with team of Bangladesh led by their home minister and the entire team of their security experts and forces. So, again we have stressed that we really need to work closely to deal with this cyber security problems.

I am going to Indonesia and Bali to attend the world conference on How to tackle terror threats?. So, the whole world is coming together, there is closer coordination between the world community to deal with this challenges which we faced today, highlighted Mr. Rijiju.

n++Within the government, we always find there is a gap between the state intelligence agency and central intelligence agency. The sharing of information has to be seamless. If we have a gap, even a small gap it can become a huge gap. So, we have stressed the multi agency centre which we have created and local level also shouldnt have any gap because when it come to the national security we all are one so whatever happens in a political level or official level we cant afford to have a gap,n++ said Mr. Rijiju.

n++We realised over the year that the coordination which we have put in place is working very well but we really need to upgrade it. The home ministry has been given the mandate of National Security Policy and guidelines, we are updating ourselves and we know in the home ministry needs to do much more what we are doing because the involving situations needs equally responsive attitude from the government and realise that,n++ he said.

The objective of the cyber security creating a secure eco-system and creating a assured framework and encouraging open standards and strengthening the regulatory framework that will ease the situation because we really need to enhance a seamless coordination amongst government agency at various levels, private sectors, government and some more importantly we have to make sure the general people of the state, of country and of the society need to be updated.

n++If the government has to succeed in the securing society within us because the adverse public mind set will create big hurdle which is difficult to take care of. In Kashmir some of the places, we have realised it some areas with people are highly motivated and totally out of the national mainstream talk. So, the situation is very adverse and we face hostile attitude and in those kind of situation it is very difficult to really get into the bottom,n++ said Mr. Rijiju.

Couple of years back, our army captured a terrorist alive and he gave us some vital information and through that we laid our ambush and could utilise four of them and then how we used the technology and got the information in details.

We really need to get the common people into the whole process. Thats why we stressed that not only government people but also have to ensure that we integrate the community people into the process and all the stakeholders into one platform.

n++So, virtually we all are connected and no more isolated previous experts who are into the domain no more,n++ said Mr Rijiju.

n++The business community especially directly involved, the challenges are becoming more acute. It is difficult to figure out the quantum of the losses but the effect because of which the businesses have to suffer is huge,n++ Mr. Rijiju said.

n++The Prime Minister is very clear that we must have a secure society no matter we talk about the smart cities. If the cities are not secure it cant be smart. In a smart city meeting, I told all committee members that you have integrate the security system in a very initial stage so that you can really talk about the smart city and completely secure,n++ said the minister.

n++Most of places in NCR, we have found some pockets not very safe for the businessman and for the business itself. We realise that we must not compromise even an inch when it comes to security,n++ he added.

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192 Villages Electrified Last Week; 9,326 Villages Electrified till date under DDUGJY
Aug 01,2016

192 villages have been electrified across the country during last week (from 25th to 31st July 2016) under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY). Out of these electrified villages, 10 villages belong to Assam, 2 in Bihar, 24 in Jharkhand, 2 in Madhya Pradesh, 123 in Meghalaya, 3 in Nagaland, 15 in Odisha, 7 in Rajasthan, 5 in Uttar Pradesh and 1 in Uttarakhand.

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Time to scale up cyber security preparedness to meet emerging threats: Deputy Governor, RBI
Aug 01,2016

Banks need to put in place preventive measures such as appropriate controls framework around the systems, reconciliation of transactions in on real / near real time basis, controls over the message creation and transmission, applying timely security patches to the interfaces, if any, close monitoring of transactions and disabling USB, and Internet access on the connected nodes, said Mr R Gandhi, Deputy Governor RBI at an ASSOCHAM event.

Equally important is the timely detective measures. It is pertinent to prepare ourselves to face such incidents, by having a robust crisis management plan. I am sure the banks are taking earnest steps to comply with the provisions of the circular as soon as possible, said Mr Gandhi while inaugurating 9th annual summit on cyber & network security, organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

n++Information dissemination is a key facilitator in combating the menace of cyber related incidents. While the Reserve Bank obtains information from banks on cyber incidents, including those which did not fructify into loss of money or information, such information is also shared amongst the banks along with suggestions aimed at best practicesn++.

The Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) also has a system to collate such information and share the generic aspects amongst the CISOs of banks. All these, I am sure will help the banks in further enhancing their cyber security related capabilities, said RBI Deputy Governor.

n++The banking sector - similar to other sectors of the Indian economy has always been very responsive to change and has adapted itself very well to meet the challenges which keep emerging frequently. It has also proved that it cannot only adapt well but also quickly so that response times are fast to prevent recurrence of negative incidents. The same fervour, I am sure, will be witnessed in the area of cyber security as well and will leave a mark of confidence in the minds of the customers of banks.n++

This will ensure that banks provide for a safe and secure processing environment when the depositors money is safe and where all other customers can conduct their banking transactions safely and securely, added Deputy Governor RBI.

n++The recent developments in banking as also payment and settlement systems have resulted in enhanced customer comfort and flexibility in terms of timing, location and choice of channels. These, however, also expose the customers as well as banks to risk of cyber-attacks. While the banks have better resilience in terms of risk mitigation structures and ability to absorb the losses and expenses, the customers may not be so privilegedn++, said Deputy Governor RBI.

A relatively small value fraud of a few thousands of rupees may endanger the purchase of basic needs and most customer may be ill-equipped to effectively handle the security features provided with the service. We have also heard of instances, elsewhere in the world, of even as small a value of one penny being robbed off every transaction, misusing the ICT capabilities, which have also resulted in loss of enormous amount of money. While it is recognised that the customer has to protect himself against disclosure of sensitive passwords, PINs etc., they may only have limited ability to distinguish between the genuine customer service calls and fraudulent operators.

Cyber criminals and the attacks they launch on financial sector and its users come with different faces. There are organised criminals who are looking to attack the financial institutions, with a view to siphon away funds, illegally. Then there are those who steal confidential data from financial institutions which may also include customer related information. The latter are more interested in ex-filtration of data, though no loss happens immediately. These stolen data then land in the hands of petty criminals, who defraud the banks directly or by enticing the customers to share more information such as passwords and pins where after actual loss takes place, said Mr. Gandhi.

A variation of these attacks is to masquerade as bank officials and extract information from customers, based on random calls to phone numbers obtained from various sources, or even by blind trials which result in at least a few attempts resulting in success.

There are other cyber criminals who steal money by putting through fraudulent transactions, or changing the particulars, so that they are able to take large sums away and vanish. In such cases, customer may not be directly contacted, but his particulars are taken through malware or other means. Recent incidents of this type have set the alarm bells ringing. I would like to draw your attention to the recent cyber incident reported by one of our banks, which I am sure all of you would have seen, particularly when similar incident at a central bank in the neighbourhood is still fresh in our memory.

n++Yet another vicious cyber-attack, which we really tread is what is categorised as cyber warfare; this is expected to be of organised attacks, sometimes by backing of large terrorist organisations and often with covert state sponsorship, made against enemy country information assetsn++.

The strategy to build preventive and detective defences depends on the specific link in the asset that one is trying to protect. The ecosystem for financial transaction not only includes banks and their customers, but also network service providers, IT infrastructure providers, providers of managed services such as data centres, software developers, providers of security solutions and providers of the end-point device which is used for accessing the financial service, including the ATMs which may or may not be bank-owned / managed devices.

The devices which are used to provide the entire ecosystem produce huge quantity of information and activity logs, which contain crucial information which can throw light on potential attacks, even before the attack takes place. However, the humungous quantity of log data renders it impossible to analyse using conventional outlier detections. Conventional techniques result in considerable false alarms and restrict genuine activity, causing inconvenience and also creating mistrust among the users about the security products and techniques, highlighted Mr. Gandhi.

Therefore, the focus has now been shifting to techniques which are not rule based, but having ability to identify the normal activity patterns and detect the anomalous and potentially harmful activity. Needless to say, these involve machine learning and soft computing techniques. Application of these techniques is expected to generate better hit-rate in terms of identifying threats, without generating high level of false alarms. As each alarm requires response and is resource intensive in terms of time, money and manpower, the ability of the expert systems to distinguish the malicious behaviour from and casual digressions from the normal activity pattern will determine the value of these tools in the security infrastructure, mentioned Mr. Gandhi.

In addition to the tools, the most important component of the critical infrastructure protection is the skills, experience and alertness of the manpower deployed in this activity. The skill sets required for security are getting diversified from conventional IT 6 skills to investigative skills of criminal investigator, data scientists having ability to deal with huge data requirements and with innovative minds to stay one step ahead of the cyber-criminal. As the strength of overall security is only as much as the strength of its individual components, it is necessary that all the stakeholders have to work hand in hand to address the threat to the information systems.

The forums such as this provide great opportunity to interact and understand the role that each one of us has to

Industry expects uptick by December, says ASSOCHAM Bizcon Survey
Aug 01,2016

India Inc expects better days ahead six months from now in terms of growth in sales, profitability in sync with an uptick in the big macro picture, though fresh investment by the private sector is still far off thanks to continuous under-utilisation of capacities, the latest round of ASSOCHAM Bizcon Survey has pointed out.

As many as 65.5 per cent of the companies covered under the June series of the prestigious ASSOCHAM Bizcon said they expect the macroeconomic parameters to look up by December,2016.

Along with it, an equal percentage of the firms across different sectors said the performance at the industry level would also pick up with a consequence that there would be better sales realization and improvement in the profitability.

n++Net-net, the latest Bizcon Survey tells us how things would look up in the next six months, mainly on the back of uptick in consumer demand helped by good Monsoon. If consumer prices ease after the Monsoon play out, we can even hope for the interest rates to moderate. Fortunately, crude oil prices continue to remain muted despite threats of a rebound earlier,n++ ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D.S. Rawat said.

According to the survey, there was a shared optimism by 69 per cent of the respondents about better prospects even at the individual firms level, translating into the overall corporate earnings in the coming two quarters.

Though fresh employment generation has so far remained a challenge, about 41 per cent of the corporate respondents expect pick up in the job creation. In terms of the wage costs scenario majority of the industry respondents (65.5 per cent) feel that the wage costs will increase in future also.

The survey seems to reflect that in terms of the domestic investments there has been no change in the firm investment plans in the April to June 2016 quarter.

The survey indicates that industry is not confident about own investment plan as 37.9 per cent of respondents believe that domestic investment may increase or there will be no change in the shorter horizon. n++Thus there seems to be a continuing lack of appetite for new investment in the private sector,n++ it said.

The problem of high debt in certain key infrastructure and commodity sectors continues to stay there.

The survey results showed that the industry feels that the top five most important actions needed to accelerate economic activities are: Infrastructure development, considered to be the most important measure that shall help revive industrial growth; effective policy reforms; reducing cost of borrowing; clearance of stalled projects; and inflation stability.

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Stronger upturn in new work boosts production growth: Nikkei India Manufacturing PMI
Aug 01,2016

The performance of Indias manufacturing economy continued to improve in July, with a stronger expansion in new business contributing to faster increases in output and buying levels. Although some firms added to their workforces, overall job creation was negligible. Meanwhile, input cost inflation softened and while output prices were raised at the quickest pace in three months, the rate of charge inflation was only slight.

Posting a four-month high of 51.8 in July (June: 51.7), the seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers IndexTM (PMI) TM - a composite single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance - indicated a further improvement in overall business conditions across the sector. The upward movement in the headline index came from stronger contributions from four of its five components, the exception being suppliers delivery times.

Supported by greater demand from both the domestic and external markets, total new business rose at the fastest pace since March. The expansion in order books was led by consumer goods producers. Growth of new export orders climbed to a six-month high, with increases seen in the consumer and capital goods categories.

Indian manufacturers stepped up production, with Julys upturn being the most pronounced since March. The overall increase in output was led by consumer goods producers, although growth was also recorded in the intermediate goods category.

July data highlighted ongoing pressure on the capacity of Indian manufacturers, as outstanding business rose for the second month in succession. Furthermore, the rate of backlog accumulation was the fastest in one-and-a-half years.

Despite this, hiring trends remained relatively muted. Only 1% of surveyed companies took on additional workers in July, while almost all the remaining respondents signalled no change in payroll numbers.

Underpinned by stronger growth of new orders, businesses purchased additional inputs for use in the production process. The rate of expansion climbed to an 11-month high. Subsequently, stocks of raw materials and semi-finished goods rose.

Conversely, holdings of finished goods declined in July, but to the least extent in six months. Some respondents commented on the fulfillment of orders from stocks.

On the price front, July saw input costs rise at the slowest pace in five months. Although charge inflation accelerated, the rate of increase was only slight and remained below its long-run average. Finally, supplier performance improved for the first time since February, albeit marginally.

Commenting on the Indian Manufacturing PMI survey data, Pollyanna De Lima, Economist at Markit and author of the report, said: Indias manufacturing economy is reviving at the beginning of the second half of 2016 after the slowdown seen in the April-June quarter, as growth of both production and new orders continues to strengthen in July. Although output expanded at the fastest rate since March and backlog accumulation intensified, businesses refrained from creating jobs. The ongoing muted trend for employment indicates that companies remain somewhat uncertain regarding the sustainability of the upturn.

Delving deeper into the data we see that the consumer goods sub-sector kept its place as the prime driver of the overall upturn. Although demand for plant and machinery improved, investment goods output dropped. Separately, the depreciation of the rupee supported Indian exporters as survey data pointed to the quickest rise in new business from abroad since January.

Offering respite to firms, cost burdens rose at a modest and slower rate and the improving demand environment meant that businesses were able to raise their own charges in July. With inflation rates remaining lower than their respective long-run averages, it wouldnt be surprising to see the RBI loosening monetary policy at its August meeting in an effort to encourage investment.

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CBDT extends due date for filing of Income Tax Returns to 5th August, 2016
Aug 01,2016

The due date for filing of Income tax returns by certain persons under the Income Tax Act is 31st July of the following year. However, taking into consideration the strike by Public Sector Banks (PSBs) on Friday, 29th July, 2016 and the last date for filing of returns being a Sunday, 31st July, 2016, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has decided to extend the last date for such returns which were due on 31st July, 2016 to 5th August, 2016. This extension would apply to taxpayers all over India except the state of J&K.

For taxpayers located in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has decided to extend the last date for such returns which were due on 31st July, 2016 to 31st August, 2016 in view of the general disruption of normal life in the last few days.

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Customer Meet arranged for increasing steel use in Haryana by SAIL and RINL
Aug 01,2016

For the Northern Regions customers, an interaction for increasing steel use in Haryana was organized in Jind, Haryana today, which was graced by Honble Steel Minister Shri. Chaudhary Birender Singh. Haryana MLA Smt. Prem Lata Singh also attended the event. The customers meet based on boosting steel consumption was organized by Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam (RINL), the two major steel PSUs under the Ministry of Steel.

Addressing the customers meet, Honble Steel Minister said, n++Haryana is an industrially as well as agriculturally developed state which is widening its scope of development for industries and this will present good opportunity for improved steel consumption.n++ Expressing his confidence on the domestic steel industry including SAIL and RINL, he said, n++the domestic steel industry should exhibit a sense of urgency in leveraging their R&D strength thus improving their cost efficiencies. The domestic steel producers should take all steps to promote use of steel at the earliest as time is of essence in the fast changing business scenario. SAIL and RINL should quickly stabilize their modernized facilities, maximize their performances and strengthen the domestic sector.n++

This customers meet was arranged at a time when India is amongst the few world markets where steel consumption has better prospects and steel demand is expected to grow on back of governments sustained spending on infrastructure, construction, housing, smart cities, Make in India etc. initiatives. The average per capita consumption of steel in India is below 60 kg and in rural India a mere 12 Kg, thus providing ample opportunity to boost steel consumption. While the steel market is globally challenging, the domestic industry must take innovative steps to enhance countrys steel consumption and counter the effects of cheap imports by its cost effective and quality steel. Domestic industry should use design & product engineering for enhancing steel consumption by establishing steels cost effectiveness, quality & durability as a material for construction in sectors like infrastructure, transportation and urban development.

Haryana is a developed state with a good blend of agricultural as well industrial base in its economy. The state has major industrial zones for countrys northern region with presence of several national and international manufacturing companies from sectors including automobile, heavy industries, engineering parts and equipments, paints, diary, agricultural equipments, housing materials, tube & pipes etc. Along with this, the state has a handsome and strong agriculture and food processing industry. In tandem with the vision of central governments progressive policies, Haryana government is also keen to develop many cities as smart cities and Faridabad and Karnal have already found its niche in the centres Smart Cities Mission. All these factors culminate to a strong opportunity for improved steel consumption in Haryana providing a conducive market for domestic producers.

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Government has approved special package for Textiles and Apparel sector to attract investments and to generate exports
Jul 29,2016

Government has approved special package for Textiles and Apparel sector to attract investments and to generate exports. The details of package are as follows.

The Government announced a special package of Rs 6,000 crores for boosting the employment generation and export potential of the Textile and Apparel Sector. Salient features of the package are:

1. Labour Law Reforms a) Government to bear 3.67% of employers Employee Provident Fund (EPF) contribution for new workmen in addition to existing reimbursement of 8.33% employer contribution under Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) for 3 years.

b) EPF will be made optional for employees earning less than Rs. 15,000 per month; thus, leaving more money in the hands of the workers.

c) Overtime cap will be raised from 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours per quarter leading to increased earnings of workers.

d) Considering the seasonal nature of the industry, fixed term employment will be introduced for the garment sector. A fixed term workman will be considered at par with permanent workman in terms of working hours, wages, allowances and other statutory dues.

2. Additional incentives under ATUFS n++ The subsidy provided to garmenting units, under Amended-TUFS, is being increased from 15% to 25%, providing a boost to employment generation.

n++ The package breaks new ground in moving from input-based to outcome-based incentives; a unique feature of the scheme will be to disburse subsidy only after expected jobs have been created.

3. Enhanced duty drawback coverage

n++ In a first-of-its-kind move, a new scheme will be introduced to refund the state levies which were not refunded so far.

n++ This move will greatly boost the competitiveness of Indian exports in foreign markets n++ Drawback at All Industries Rate will be given for domestic duty paid inputs even when fabrics are imported under Advance Authorization Scheme.

4. Enhancing scope of Section 80JJAA of Income Tax Act

n++ Looking at the seasonal nature of garment industry, the provision of 240 days under Section 80JJAA of Income Tax Act would be relaxed to 150 days for garment industry.

The expected impact of the special package on employment generation in next three years:

n++ The new package is expected to boost up employment generation.

n++ More and more garment units will become compliant with respect to statutory dues and more jobs will be generated in formal sector.

n++ Pro labour reforms like optional EPF, increased overtime limits and fixed term employment will lead to more cash in hand with workers, provide opportunity to earn more and put fixed term workers at par with permanent workers in terms of working hours, wages, allowances and other statutory dues respectively.

The special package will boost the textile and apparel sector by making larger manufacturing set-ups feasible thereby leading to economies of scale in the sector. It will also improve the attractiveness of garment manufacturing for new investments and exports. The current investment in the sector which is growing at 8% year on year is expected to grow substantially in next three years.

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Food Processing Facilities and Mega Food Parks
Jul 29,2016

The study conducted by Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET), Ludhiana has estimated that annual value of harvest and post-harvest losses of major agricultural produce including fruits and vegetables at national level was of the order of Rs. 92,651 crore based on production data of 2012-13 at 2014 wholesale prices.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has been implementing Mega Food Park Scheme (MFPS) since 11th Five Year Plan to create modern infrastructure for the food processing including fruits and vegetables. Total 42 Mega Food Parks (MFPs) have been sanctioned by the Government for setting-up in the country. Till now, 37 projects have been approved for implementation. Out of these, 8 Mega Food Parks have become operational. Proposals under the scheme are invited through Expression of Interest (EoI) from time to time against the vacancies created against cancellation / withdrawal. The willing entrepreneurs apply for setting up Mega Food Park in accordance with the conditions of the scheme guidelines and the projects are selected on merit based on appraisal carried out as per prefixed parameters notified in the scheme guidelines.

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FCI to sell 65-75 Lakh MT wheat in Open Market during 2016-17
Jul 29,2016

FCI sells wheat and rice in the open market under Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) (Domestic) through e-tender. For the year 2016-17, a target of 65-75 Lakh Metric Ton (LMT) has been set for sale of wheat by FCI out of Central Pool under the OMSS (D). A target of 20 lakh MT of Grade A rice has also been kept for sale under OMSS (D) during 2016-17. A quantity of 8.81 LMT of wheat and 0.26 LMT of rice have been sold under OMSS (D) as on 27 July 2016.

GOI has already made an additional allocation of 12.99 LMT wheat and 6.66 LMT rice over and above the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS)/ National Food Security Act (NFSA) allocations as drought relief during 2016-17. GOI has also made adhoc additional allocations to States/UTs to meet out their additional requirement as well as to release surplus stock of foodgrains held in the Central Pool.

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Flood rescue and evacuation operation by NDRF
Jul 29,2016

The flood rescue and evacuation operation by NDRF in various flood prone areas of country is in full swing. 44 self-contained flood rescue teams of NDRF have been pre-positioned in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal to assist the respective state administration in rescue and relief work. NDRF teams are fully equipped with boats, deep divers, Lifebuoy, Life Jackets and other flood rescue equipment.

13 flood rescue teams are deployed in Assam to meet the challenges due to flood like situations. NDRF teams evacuated 203 persons at Jorhat, 37 persons at Kokrajhar, 80 persons at Charang, 73 persons at Kamrup Rural and 104 persons at Jorhat district. In addition to rescue work, a Mobile hospital was established by NDRF team at Village Meragarh & Missamora under revenue circle Majuli district Jorhat. The medical team attended 163 sick persons and distributed medicines to needy.

09 flood rescue teams of NDRF are deployed in Bihar in connection with monsoon session. NDRF teams evacuated 43 persons at Supaul, 34 persons at Bhetia, 250 persons at Purnia and 70 persons at Gopalganj.

NDRF teams established Medical Camps at Peru Block, District Muzzafarpur and Supaul and distributed medicine to 63 persons at Supaul and 45 persons at Muzzafarpur.

A 24X7, NDRF control room in New Delhi is closely monitoring the situation and in touch with other agencies.

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Setting up of four Petroleum Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Regions approved
Jul 29,2016

Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Petrochemicals is implementing the Petroleum Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) Policy to promote investments, boost manufacturing and generate employment. Substantial investments by upstream Anchor Units in the Refinery and Cracker Segments are envisioned to lead to other investments in the chemical and petrochemical downstream sectors and ancillary industries. Government of India has approved setting up of four PCPIRs in the States of Andhra Pradesh (Vishakhapatnam - Kakinada), Gujarat (Dahej), Odisha (Paradeep) and Tamil Nadu (Cuddalore - Nagapattinam). The fully operational PCPIRs envisage investment of Rs. 7.63 lakh crore and 33.85 lakh job opportunities. No other PCPIR is proposed at present.

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DIPP to set up Investment Desk and Invest India to channelize investment in tourism sector
Jul 29,2016

To harness the enormous investment opportunities offered by the tourism sector, the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Invest India are setting up an investment desk. The emphasis so far has been on attracting tourists but now the time has come to focus on creating quality infrastructure and filling the gaps on the supply side to allow tourists to have a fulfilling experience. This was stated by Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, at the second edition of FICCIs Tourism Investors Meet 2016.

Zutshi said that for the tourism sector to flourish there was a need to develop the core infrastructure of the country which included rail, road, air and waterways. He added that a Task Force was being created by the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Railways to improve the connectivity to tourist destinations.

He said that there was immense scope of investment in the hospitality sector as there was a shortage of almost 190,000 rooms at present. He added that the government has been facilitating the private sector investors by improving ease of doing business, introducing single window clearance, business friendly policies and creation of land banks for investors.

However, Zutshi said that there is still a need to bring on board the state governments. Some states have been proactive and have introduced policies for promoting tourism but other states too need to realize that besides attracting tourists, investing in infrastructure was equally important.

Zutshi said that the government was planning to organize Incredible India Tourism Investors Summit 2016 in September to showcase the plethora of investment opportunities in areas of infrastructure development, both from India and overseas. The main objective of the summit is to position the Indian tourism sector for attracting large investments and presenting to the investors tangible investment-ready projects in different states of India.

Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, DIPP, Govt. of India, said that the government has been able to ease the process of construction permits and custom clearance. The government realizes that adopting right policies would result in double digit growth of GDP for the next three decades and would allow the tourism sector to grow. He added that state portals have also been developed for making the processes transparent.

Abhishek said that the private sector should encourage and promote start-ups and incubators in the tourism sector. He added that the government realizes that the laws in the start-up space have not been able to keep pace with innovation and these were creating obstacles for start-ups. Hence the government was trying to become a partner of the private sector rather than a regulator.

Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, said that the hospitality sector had been brought under the infrastructure segment which would enable the sector to grow. However, the threshold for the hotels which is at present INR 200 crore needs to be brought down to INR 50 crore to meet the deficit in hotel rooms and allow middle level players to enter the market. Billa said that the investment landscape was changing in India with the Make in India initiative. There was improvement in ease of doing business, land banks were available for investors and handholding was being done for investors. He added that there has been a change in the mindset and with infrastructure development in the country, investments are coming in.

Dr. Jyotsna Suri, Immediate Past President FICCI, Chairperson, FICCI Tourism Committee and Chairperson & MD, Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, said that the Ministry of Tourism and various states are ensuring that the right strategic initiatives are taken to guide stakeholders in making the right investment decision, and FICCI has been working on Tourism Infrastructure development for the last four years. She added that this year at TIM more than 600 meetings have been pre-scheduled between 72 buyers and seven sellers. These numbers indicate a substantial increase from the last year which witnessed around 350 meetings and 52 buyers.

Nikhil Sahni, Senior President - Government Banking & Strategic Government Advisory, Yes Bank, said that the tourism sector offered ample opportunities for investment and if the status of export industry was accorded to it the sector could grow phenomenally. Also, intelligence and tourist research should be encouraged and efforts should be made to make India a safe destination for tourists. He added that focus should be on improving tourism infrastructure, seamless travel and connectivity and promoting state-owned tourism units.

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