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Inflation in Manufactured Products May Intensify
Sep 19,2016

Manufacturing inflation may inch up further as consumption demand gets a fillip from a higher rural demand, 7th Pay Commission payout and the festival season round the corner, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). With consumption demand showing signs of improvement and commodity price cycle bottoming out, it appears that manufacturers are now raising prices, albeit gently, to test the water. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation increased to 3.74% in August 2016 from 3.55% in the previous month, because of an increase in manufactured product inflation and to a lesser extent fuel inflation. This is at variance with the moderation in retail price inflation for the same month.

Crop sowing data suggest while pulse prices are likely to soften further, sugarcane and cotton prices may remain firm with an upward bias. However, a third consecutive month of cereal price inflation in excess of 7% after a gap of 24 months, is an early warning that the fight against food inflation is far from over.

Fuel price inflation, which has a weight of 14.9% in WPI, came in at 1.6%, after 13 months of consecutive negative growth. Wholesale food prices, which had been the key driver of WPI, moderated to 8.23% in August from 11.82% in July 2016. Prices of fruits and vegetables declined to 7.0% in August 2016 from 22.3% in the previous month. This, however, was offset by an increase in manufacturing inflation to 2.42% in August from 1.82% in July 2016. Manufacturing inflation has clocked a modest but steady rise since April 2016, led by a price increase in manufactured food products. This suggests manufacturing inflation which had remained down and out due to (i) tepid demand and (ii) lower manufacturing input cost is finally inching up as manufacturers especially in the food products category are gradually passing on cost increases in input costs and/or have begun to exercise the pricing power. Prices of manufactured food products increased to 11.4% in August from 10.2% in July 2016.

Since manufactured products have nearly 65% weight in WPI compared to 14.3% for food articles, an accentuation of the price increase trend witnessed in the manufacturing inflation, since the beginning of this fiscal, is likely to push WPI inflation further. However, sustainability of this gradual increase in the prices of manufactured items would depend on the future consumption demand.

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Interest Rate Cycle Reaching the Bottom; LT Bond Issuance May Pick Up
Sep 19,2016

Inflation has bottomed out leaving the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with less room to undertake further rate cuts, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Ind-Ra believes that in such a scenario companies may lock in their long term funding at the current rates, before the cycle turns.

The shift in RBIs stance with respect to liquidity to neutral from deficit mode has had a significant impact on the yields of Government Securities (G-sec). Liquidity is no longer in the deficit mode, in fact in the last two months there has been net liquidity surplus in the system. The yield on the benchmark 10 year G-sec is presently hovering around 7% as against 7.5% in April 2016. Ind-Ra believes that the possibility for a further liquidity driven drop in the G-sec yield is limited. However, due to negative yields prevailing globally, demand from foreign participants can push yields down further.

One of the unstated objective of the outgoing RBI governor Raghuram Rajan was to maintain real interest rates (difference between risk free interest rate and Consumer Price Index) positive and in the range of 1.5% to 2%. Ind-Ra expects the new RBI governor Urjit Patel to also follow this approach. Real interest rate has remained positive since January 2014. It peaked at 4.91% in November 2014 and has declined since then to 2.06% in August 2016. It may be noted that the period when the real rate of interest was significantly in excess of 2% was also the period when RBI cut the policy rates. As the real rate of interest fell close to/lower than 2% from April 2016 onwards, RBI has maintained a status quo on policy rates.

Inflation appears to have bottomed out, however inflationary expectations have once again shown an up-tick. The RBI carries out a quarterly survey of about 5,000 households across 16 cities in India to assess inflationary expectations of households three months ahead and one year ahead. As per data released by the central bank, mean household inflationary expectations for three months ahead in June 2016 rose by 110bp to 9.2% from the March 2016 survey. The one-year ahead mean inflation expectation is even higher at 9.6% than the three-month ahead expectations, implying households expect the inflation trajectory to move further up.

Though global factors particularly low interest rates and fund inflows into emerging markets have remained favourable for a fairly extended period of time, the likelihood of interest rates moving up from hereon has strengthened - notwithstanding the fact that the US Federal Reserve may still take some time to resume hiking rates. With the backdrop of rising global yields, where global sovereign-bond yields have risen to the highest in almost three months, the Indian currency may come under pressure and push the RBI to turn hawkish.

Corporate India will keenly monitor the nominal GDP growth rate, since the soft trend over the last three years has significantly impacted earnings and debt repayment capacity. Ind-Ra highlighted in the report INR1.4trn Refinancing Requirement Could Put INR11.8trn Debt at Risk in FY17 that the total refinancing required by the top 500 Corporates in FY17 aggregates to INR2.1trn, with potential candidates which will be able to access the bond market being INR0.7trn. While it is early to signal a shift in the revenue trend line, corporates are likely to benefit from the current refinancing opportunities at low rates and will possibly lock-in long term funds since the downside to interest rates are limited/negligible.

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R-Com- Aircel Merger Spurs Telecom Consolidation, Steps Up Competition
Sep 19,2016

The merger of the wireless business of Reliance Communications (RCom) with Aircel (Aircel), is a key milestone in the ongoing consolidation in the telecom sector, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Ind-Ra believes that the merger will enable the new entity RCom-Aircel to give strong competition to its peers in the backdrop of the disruption that the launch of operations by Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJio) has caused. The combined entity RCom- Aircel will now be the third largest telecom entity in India by subscriber base, thus moving ahead of Idea Cellular Limited (Idea). This development coupled with RJios penetration strategy will spur competition and in turn push tariffs lower.

Ind-Ra believes that the spectrum acquisition strategy, particularly around 4G, is an important driver for the consolidation in the telecom sector. This deal provides RCom access to the superior 800MHz band in eight circles with extended validity till 2033, as its own spectrum is scheduled to expire in 2021-2022. The merged entity will have 448MHz spectrum, which is about 17% of the total spectrum held,is the third largest spectrum holding, following 770MHz of Bharti and 596MHz of RJio.

The merged entity will offer strong competition to both Vodafone India (Vodafone) and Idea which are weaker placed, as far as 4G operations are concerned. Ind-Ra believes that the sector will now have five meaningful players namely, Bharti Airtel (Bharti), Vodafone, RJio, Idea and the merged RCom -Aircel- Sistema (with a new brand) as the industry moves towards data driven revenues.

The top five circles of Aircel are Assam, J&K, UP East, Bihar and Gujarat, while those of RCom are Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai. The merged entity will be positioned as the second largest in the Bihar circle, after Bharti, and overtaking Vodafone and Idea, which were number two and number three respectively. In the Tamil Nadu and Chennai circle, the merged entity will vie for the second spot with Vodafone, which is ranked the second largest after Bharti. RCom has a wireless active subscriber base of 92.2m as on March 2016 (market share 9.8%), whereas Aircel has 63.3m subscribers (market share 6.8%), leading to a combined subscriber market share of 16.1% with 155.5m subscribers; which will rank forth after Idea with 19.6% subscriber share and Vodafone with 20.4% subscriber market share as of March 31, 2016. The merged entity could potentially have a revenue market share of 14%, given RComs existing revenue market share at around 11% in FY16 and Aircels 3% revenue market share.

Aircel reported revenues of INR55bn, with EBIDTA of INR8.06bn, and an EBIDTA margin of 14.5%, and net loss of INR14.5bn and cash loss of INR6bn in FY15. Aircel had a total debt of INR209bn in FY15. RCOM reported consolidated revenue of INR221bn, EBITDA of INR74bn and EBITDA margin of 33.6% in FY16 and debt of INR41bn. The combined entitys revenues are estimated at around INR250bn (for full year of operations), with EBITDA of around INR65-70bn.

However, both RCom and Aircel have significant debt and their ARPUs are below industry average, as evident from their low standalone revenue market share and Aircels presence in low ARPU generating circles. Aircel on a standalone basis is a highly leveraged entity (FY15 debt to EBIDTA 26x), whereas RCom had net leverage of 5.6x in FY16. Therefore Ind-Ra believes the merged entity will continue to depend upon the parents support for fund infusion for growth capex. Post the deal the merged entity will hold INR280bn of debt from its parents to start with.

The merger transaction is subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals.

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Lack of Awareness and High Incidence of frauds Impacting Indian Insurance Sector: PHD Chamber
Sep 19,2016

According to a survey conducted by PHD Research Bureau, around 49% of the population is not well aware and familiar with insurance products in India due to lack of information and awareness about insurance products.

According to the survey, life insurance has been used more for investment and tax saving purposes in peoples overall financial planning. Despite this, 56% of the survey population has not availed any kind of insurance policy/products due to poor advice, wrong information and lack of understanding of the product, said the survey study.

In India, Insurance companies are most affected by misspelling due to premeditated fabrication and fraudulent misrepresentation of material information. Also, insurance continues to be missold with senior citizens being the softest targets as they do not understand new products, said the survey.

In non-life insurance in India, the Motor insurance continues to be the largest segment with a share of 44.14 per cent, the share of health segment being 26.73 percent and the remaining share contributes to Fire and Marine segments respectively.

Further, the survey has revealed that 50.50% of people consider the premium offered by the company as an important factor while purchasing insurance policy, 24.60% considered companys credibility, 15.26 % considered past records and 5.86% considered consumer base of the company as an important decision factor.

According to survey findings, 33% of the people find insurance products too complicated and technical while 24.68% find it difficult to understand the product. Hence, 74% respondents believe personal interaction is very important before buying insurance products.

The survey also revealed that 34% of respondents have chosen family, friends or word of mouth as the information sources for buying insurance products, 3% opted for direct contact with bank or company people, 20.22% opted for newspapers and magazines, 8.07% for television, 7.30% as internet and 19% said advice from intermediary agent as information sources for buying insurance products.

The survey revealed that 20.32% of respondents considered increase in income, 46.02% considered better features of the product, 21.30% said discount in appreciation for their continued business and 11.16% considered more personal contact with their provider as the factor that would persuade customers to stay.

Overall, roughly, 16.72 % of respondents are satisfied with the services being provided to them, 30.66% wants to improved administrative issues, 33.42% of respondents said response time and correspondence needs to be improved and 19.20% mentioned about delays in settlement and under payments.

Indias insurance sector is the biggest in the world with about 1,442 lakh policies and the insurance market is expected to quadruple in size over the next 10 years from its current size of US$ 70 billion, said the PHD Chamber survey.

In Insurance business, India is ranked 11 among the 88 countries with a market share of around 2 percent in global life insurance market.

India stands 15th globally with respect to premium income. In terms of insurance density in India, it increased from $11.5 in 2001 to $55 in the recent years.

The major challenges facing Insurance sector in India today are low insurance awareness among the masses and increased incidence of frauds in the Insurance business. Recent trend, including heightened consumer expectations, new market entrants and significant demographic shifts have created an important window of opportunity for Insurance Companies to act now, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Also, the insurance industry is a major component of the economy by virtue of the amount of premiums it collects, the scale of its investment, its contribution to employment generation, infrastructure development and, the essential social and economic role it plays by covering personal and business risks, said Dr. Gupta.

keeping into consideration Indias demographic factors such as growing middle class and young population, it is the need of the hour to propagate awareness generation through mass media and on-ground interventions to tap the vast potential of the Indian Insurance sector, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

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PHD Chamber hails guidelines to regulate Indian Direct Selling Industry
Sep 19,2016

PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry wholeheartedly welcomes the new guidelines to regulate Indian direct selling companies, issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to safeguard the interests of consumers, as well as help protect ethical direct selling companies, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

According to our projections, the annual revenue size of the Direct Selling Industry is estimated to reach upto INR 15,000 crore by 2019-20 on account of conducive policy framework and regulatory clarity by the government, he said.

The annual revenue size of the direct selling industry in 2014-15 was estimated at around Rs.7900 crore during the annual survey conducted by the PHD Research Bureau of PHD chamber

The guidelines related to grievance redressal mechanism for consumers, remuneration system for the person engaged by direct selling firms and direct sellers mandatory compliance with some rules will safeguard the interests of consumers as well as companies alike, added Dr. Gupta.

The guidelines will help to give boost to the industry which gives employment opportunities to large number of youth and women, contributes to skill development and women empowerment, gives push to MSME sector and has contributed to Governments ambitious Make in India campaign by giving boost to manufacturing sector in India, he said.

PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been conducting the Annual Survey of the Indian Direct Selling Industry for the last 5 years to study the growth dynamics of the Industry, he said.

Going forward, we look forward to a clear set of standard central guidelines across the country in order to build an environment of confidence and to bring Indias Direct Selling industry at par with global levels, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

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Indo-Belarus Mutual Trade Growing At 10-15% Per Annum: Ambassador, Belarus
Sep 19,2016

Ambassador of Belarus to India, Mr. Vitaly Prima on Thursday hoped that both India and Belarus would further cement their trade and economic ties as in the last few years the mutual trade turnover between the two countries is growing between 10-15% per year.

n++With the elimination of all barriers in the bilateral trade between India and Belarus, when India recognized the latter as a full market economy country and removed anti-dumping duties on Belarusian goods, the prospects of two nations coming closer have brightenedn++, emphasized the Ambassador.

Addressing an Interactive Session on Doing Business with Belarus under aegis of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Prima recalled that the visit of the Prime Minister of Republic of Belarus in November 2012 and the first in the history of the Belarus-India relations visit of President of India to Belarus in June 2015 gave strong impetus to bilateral collaboration.

The Ambassador also emphasized that Belarus and India could become a strong partners for development and welfare in programmes such as Make-in-India, Digital India, Smart Cities and Skill India as also cooperate in the field of chemicals, petro-chemicals, agriculture, mechanical engineering, light industry and food production including information and communication technologies.

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Up to 6 new players may enter reinsurance market in India by January 2017: IRDA chief
Sep 19,2016

Up to six new players in the reinsurance market are likely to enter India by January 2017, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) chief Mr T.S. Vijayan, said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++About five-six (companies) have come and I think by January 2017, there should be some players in this market, we will be taking a decision in October in the next authority meeting, then they have to bring capital and start working at it,n++ said Mr Vijayan while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM Global Insurance Summit.

He also said that IRDA would finalise the regulations pertaining to payment of commission or remuneration to insurance agents and intermediaries in October. n++I believe in next board/authority meeting, which will be in October, we will be able to finalise.n++

Talking about the whole process, he said, n++We discuss with everyone, we bring the draft, people give their feedback on it and we again discuss that thing. Then it is taken to Insurance Advisory Committee, looking at suggestions, they suggest it and then it goes to the authority.n++

On the listing of insurance companies, Mr Vijayan said, n++In the previous Act itself there was a provision for listing, this was changed, we wanted to have a discussion on this subject, so we brought out a paper and companies have expressed that thing, so let us see how it goes forward.n++

He said also that IRDA has not fixed any time-frame for the final regulations. n++I believe that discussions are going on how to list general insurance companies, all 5-6 of them.n++

He added that considering about five months are still left in this financial year, listing of more PSU insurance companies was possible. n++It is possible but I am not too sure, we have not got any official paper, it is in the discussion stage but nobody has approached us.n++

On the issue of insurance marketing firms, he said n++We have allowed to them sell up to three companies product, these are evolving processes.n++

He said that though insurance industry in India has grown in terms of premium collections from Rs 45,000 crore in 2000 to Rs 4,63,000 crore in 2015-16, insurance penetration against world average and other Asian countries highlight much more ground to be covered.

n++We need to focus on number of lives or risks covered, spread across geographies, gender and level of insurance coverage, as clearly indicated by around 0.7 per cent only insurance penetration observed for Indian general insurance industry against world average of 2.77 per cent,n++ said Mr Vijayan.

He said there are healthy growth prospects for insurance business in general and particularly in property, health and pension lines of business.

The IRDA chief said that home insurance penetration being very low in India, it is one of the most needed insurance cover.

n++Imparting financial literacy, incentivising Indian households to transfer savings from physical assets to financial assets and effective distribution among rural areas are expected to bring more and more individuals within insurance ambit,n++ he said.

Mr Vijayan also said that multiple models and approaches are vital to ensure last mile connectivity and reach of insurance services to address diverse social, cultural, geographical features of rural India.

He said that innovation in products, their distribution should be made in a manner that people are encouraged to buy insurance cover by realising benefits, requirement and necessity. n++An environment must be created to facilitate the same by expanding distribution reach and improving accessibility options to consumers by optimal usage of technology.n++

In his address at the ASSOCHAM conference, Mr S.K. Roy, chairman, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) said, n++For the life insurance industry these are the best times, as the current financial year has seen fantastic growth, August 2016 has seen stupendous growth as LICs new business premium grew by more than 92 per cent for August.n++

n++We have yearned for long for this type of growth but seen very rarely, so definitely this is the very good time to be in the life insurance industry,n++ said Mr Roy.

n++Going forward, industry will be working on a more stable platform of regulations than it was in last 12-18 months, that is also a very positive feature,n++ added the LIC chief.

Mr C.V. Rao, Governor of Maharashtra while addressing the ASSOCHAM conference, said that with new insurance policies and various other steps being initiated by the government coupled with Indias demographic dividend, it will further push the countrys economy on growth trajectory.

n++As a country with more elderly population and growing middle class, there are plenty of business and opportunities for growth of insurance sector in India,n++ said the Governor of Maharashtra.

Mr Sunil Kanoria, president of ASSOCHAM, in his address at the global insurance summit said, n++The going for most of the general insurance players has been tough as they operate in a highly competitive environment. Going forward, the route to profitability should be chartered by addressing issues of distribution channels, products, customer acquisition through greater product awareness, pricing, risk management and leveraging of technology.n++

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Loss in exports lead to job losses: ASSOCHAM study
Sep 19,2016

Sharp drop in merchandise exports mainly contributed to a loss of 70,000 jobs during the second quarter of 2015 reinforcing a crucial point that the employment generation has to be led by the domestic demand in the wake of subdued global demand, an ASSOCHAM -Thought Arbitrage study noted.

It said around 70,000 workers were retrenched in the second quarter of 2015. Livelihood opportunities in export units particularly shrank during this period. While slowdown in global demand compelled some of the units to retrench people from pay roll, the reduction was facilitated by the increasing contractualisation of jobs.

n++n++.there is a concern because most of the export-oriented units in the economy are dependent on contractual workers. So, massive reduction in contractual jobs in these sectors might as well imply deteriorating conditions in the export units,n++ the paper said.

Second quarter of 2015 particularly had been bad. While contractual jobs were lost, not adequate regular jobs were added to compensate that loss. Textile has been most affected - with some new addition in regular jobs but massive drop in contractual jobs. Apart from marginal addition in jobs in leather sector, as many as seven sectors saw drastic retrenchment in both regular and contractual employment.

For the first two quarters of the fiscal 2015-16, the countrys merchandise exports had dropped by over 17 per cent. The fall in exports continues even this year despite advantage of a low base. Cumulative value of exports for the period April-August 2016-17 was US$ 108519.94 million as against US$ 111853.88 million registering a negative growth of 2.98 per cent

Given the subdued global economic scenario, rejuvenating the economy by exporting or utilising external trade remains a difficult proposition, if not immediately impossible. n++Therefore, Indian economy has to look internally at the domestic economy to restart the Indian growth story. That is only possible if there is extra demand generation within the economy. Employment generation is the most important factor to generate such extra demand. More employment means extra purchasing power in the hands of the people, and subsequently more demand generated for all kinds of commodities and servicesn++, ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

The negative impact on employment generation was more visible on sectors like gems and jewellery, textiles and apparels etc.

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New Import policy for Marble and Travertine Blocks
Sep 19,2016

The Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India has notified the new import policy for Marble & Travertine Blocks, and Marble and Granite Slabs, to come into effect from 1st October 2016.

Marble and Travertine Blocks: The Quantitative Restriction on the import of Marble & Travertine Blocks, and the associated administratively cumbersome and restrictive import licensing system has been brought to an end under the new policy coming into effect from 1st October 2016. The Minimum Import Price (MIP) for import of Marble Blocks has been reduced to US Dollars 200 per Metric Ton to address the distortions associated with an MIP. To address the interest of domestic producers, the Basic Customs Duty on import of Marble & Travertine Blocks will go up four times from the present 10% to 40% w.e.f. 1st October 2016.

Marble Slabs: With effect from 1st October 2016, the MIP on the import of marble slabs is being reduced to US Dollars 40 per Sq. Metre to address the distortion associated with an MIP. In order to address the interest of domestic producers the basic customs duty on import of marble slabs is being doubled from 10% to 20% w.e.f. 1st October 2016

Granite Slabs: With effect from 1st October 2016, the MIP on the import of granite slabs is being reduced to US Dollars 50 per Sq. Metre to address the distortion associated with MIP. In order to address the interest of domestic producers the basic customs duty on import of granite slabs is being doubled from 10% to 20% w.e.f. 1st October 2016.

The new policy balances the interests of domestic consumers, producers and processors, and ends the cumbersome licensing system for import of Marble & Travertine blocks.

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Mormugao - Second Ship of Project 15b Launched at Mazagaon Docks Mumbai
Sep 17,2016

Another significant milestone in the annals of the Indigenous Warship design and construction programme of India was achieved with the launch of Guided Missile Destroyer, Mormugao, second ship of Project 15B, on 17 Sep 16, at Mazagaon Dock Ship Builders Limited (MDL), Mumbai. With a launch weight of 2844 tonnes, the vessel made its first contact with water at 11:58 AM with full fanfare during the launching ceremony graced by Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba as the Chief Guest. In keeping with maritime traditions, Smt Reena Lanba, President, Navy Wives Welfare Association (NWWA), broke a coconut on the ships bow and launched the ship, as invocation from the Atharva Veda was being rendered.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest, Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff said that n++this event is yet another moment of truth for the Indian Navy and Indias quest for self-reliance and indigenisation. The Indian Navy stands fully committed to the call of Make in India and we are extremely proud of the fact that all of our warships and submarines on order today are being constructed within the countryn++. He further added that this also is n++an affirmation of our resolve that the Indian Navy should attain a size and capability that is commensurate with Indias growing stature in the world, our national maritime interests, and our commitment to cooperation and collaboration towards ensuring secure seas for shaping a favourable and positive maritime environment.

The Admiral also commended the synergic partnership of MDL, Indian Navy, DRDO, OFB, BEL, other public sector enterprises and the private industry in ensuring that force levels are made available to meet Indias National strategic objectives. He also congratulated DGND and his team at Directorate of Naval Design for designing state of the art warships and contributing towards achieving Indian Navys dream of transforming from a n++Buyersn++ to a n++Buildersn++ Navy.

Project 15B ships feature cutting edge advanced technology and are comparable to the best ships of similar class anywhere in the world. These ships have been designed indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design, New Delhi. Each ship spans 163 metres in length and 17.4 metres at beam and displaces 7300 tonnes. These ships will be propelled by four gas turbines to achieve speeds in excess of 30 knots. The P15B destroyers incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and ship manoeuvrability. Enhanced stealth features have been achieved through shaping of hull and use of radar transparent deck fittings which make these ships difficult to detect. P 15B ships will be equipped to carry and operate two multiple role helicopters.

These ships are packed with an array of state of the art weapons and sensors, including vertically launched missile system for long distance engagement of shore, sea-based and air targets. With significant indigenous content, these ships are a true hall-mark of self reliance attained by our country in warship design and ship building.

BRIEF ON PROJECT 15B - SUPPLEMENTARY INFO

Four Guided missile Destroyers of Project 15B (P 15B) are under construction at M/s Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited, Mumbai. The contract for construction of these four ships was signed on 28 Jan 11. These ships are amongst the most technologically advanced Guided Missile Destroyers of the world, with state-of-the-art weapon/sensor package, advanced stealth features and a high degree of automation. The design of P15B ships has been developed in house by the Directorate of Naval Design.

With a displacement of 7300 tons, each ship will span 163 meters in length and 17.4 meters at the beam. These ships will be propelled by four gas turbines in Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) configuration and are capable of achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots with a maximum endurance of 4000 nm.

The P15B destroyers incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and ship maneuverability. These ships will be equipped to carry and operate two multi-role helicopters. State of art rail less helo traversing system is being introduced on these ships for efficient helicopter handling onboard.

These ships can truly be classified as possessing a Network of Networks, as they are equipped with Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), Ship Data Network (SDN), Automatic Power Management System (APMS) and Combat Management System (CMS). While control and monitoring of machinery and auxiliaries is achieved through the IPMS, power management is done using the APMS. The CMS performs threat evaluation and resource allocation based on the tactical picture compiled and ammunition available onboard. The SDN is the information highway on which data from all the sensors and weapons ride.

Stealth has been a major thrust area in P15B design. Enhanced stealth features have been achieved through shaping of hull and use of radar transparent deck fittings which make these ships difficult to detect. The ship embodies features such as Multiple Fire Zones, Total Atmospheric Control System (TACS) for Air Conditioning, Battle Damage Control Systems (BDCS), Distributional Power Systems and Emergency DA to enhance survivability and reliability in emergent scenarios.

These ships have been designed for a complement of 50 officers and 250 sailors. The accommodation and working spaces have been designed with special emphasis on ergonomics and habitability.

The ships n++fire powern++ consists of sophisticated weapons-sensor suite including vertically launched Surface to Air Missiles (SAM) and Surface-to-Surface Missiles (SSM) for long distance engagement of shore and sea based targets. It is also noteworthy that this ship has significantly high indigenous content, in the form of weapons, machinery and material. These ships therefore showcase the Nations growing capability in developing and delivering complex warships, which serves as a true hall mark of self reliance attained by our country in warship design and construction. This high level of indigenization has been achieved through participation of both public and private sector.

The second ship of P15B Yard 12705, christened, Mormugao, is planned to be launched on 17 Sep 16 at MDL, Mumbai, and will be the fifth frontline warship, including the indigenous aircraft carrier, being launched in last six years, in addition to the delivery of three frigates, three destroyers and two corvettes during the same period.

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MOU signed between the Government of India and the AfDB for hosting the Banks Annual Meetings at Ahmedabad
Sep 17,2016

India will be hosting the next Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group at Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre, Ahmedabad from May 22 to May 26, 2017. This will be a mega international event to be attended by more than 5000 delegates from 80 member countries of the African Development Bank including the Governors, Alternate Governors, Executive Directors, policy makers and businesses.

A MoU was signed between GoI and AfDB today regarding the holding of the Annual Meetings. The MoU outlines the roles of Govt of India and AfDB. The signatories to the MoU were Ms. Bandana Preyashi, Deputy Secretary (ADB-II/AfDB), Department of Economic Affairs(DEA), Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of of India and Mr Vincent O. Nmehielle, Secretary General of AfDB on behalf of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

The African Development Bank (AfDB) was established in 1963 with a view to promote the Economic Development and social progress of its regional members. India became member of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 1983. The Union Finance Minister and Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance are the Governor and Alternate Governor of the Bank respectively.

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Railway PSU RITES Achieves Highest Ever Total Income of Rs. 1294 Crore, Higher by 11% Over The Previous Year
Sep 17,2016

RITES, a schedule A, Mini Ratna Enterprise under the Ministry of Railways has achieved highest ever total income of Rs. 1294 crore,in financial year 2015-16 higher by 11 percent over the previous financial year. It also recorded the highest ever profit after tax of Rs. 339 crore against Rs. 306 crore in the previous year. RITES achieved these results despite severe competition from domestic and foreign consultancy companies. The company is expected to get Excellent rating in its MOU performance based on the financial results for the year. RITES continues to maintain its key position in transport and infrastructure sectors despite stiff competition. The growth in the business and excellent financial results has led to the dividend payout for the year to Rs. 136 crore, which is 136% of the paid up share capital of the company. This is the highest ever dividend paid so far by the Company. The company has also announced issue of bonus shares to the existing shareholders in the ratio of 1 share for every 2 shares held.

One of the key achievements during the year had been the export of broad gauge modern passenger coaches to Bangladesh Railways out of the order of 120 broad gauge coaches secured by the company during last year. RITES also bagged a contract for the supply of 18 MG diesel electric locomotives to Myanma Railways.

In India, RITES has recently secured two major turnkey projects from the Ministry of Railways, for the third line in Pendra Road- Anuppur section of Bilaspur division of South East Central Railway and Gooty- Dharmavaram doubling works for South Central Railway. RITES is also involved in mega transportation projects like dedicated freight corridors, metros, high speed rail studies, logistics parks, rail infrastructure and green energy etc.

With positive scenario for investments in railways and other infrastructure sectors, the company sees high growth in the coming years.

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Ministry of Tourism Approves Projects of Rs. 500 Crore for Jammu & Kashmir
Sep 17,2016

The Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) chaired by Union Tourism Secretary Shri Vinod Zutshi for the Swadesh Darshan Scheme has approved projects to the tune of Rs. 500 Crore as part of Development Package of Prime Minister Reconstruction Plan (PMRP) for integrated development of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.

New projects include Integrated Development of Tourist facilities at Mantalai - Sudhmahadev - Patnitop Circuit for Rs.99.99 Crore, Baramulla-Kupwara-Leh circuit for Rs.99.98 Crore, Rajouri - Bafliyaz - Shopian - Pulwama Circuit for Rs.99.99 Crore and Anantnag-Kishtwar- Pahalgam - Daksum - Ranjit Sagar Dam Circuit for Rs.99.75 Crore. In addition, Rs. 99.99 Crore has been approved for integrated development of tourist facilities in lieu of damaged assets in the floods.

The projects envisage tourist infrastructural development in Jammu and Kashmir. Highlights of the project involve developing a Convention Centre in Gulmarg and Patnitop, development of Ethnic Villages, Development of Water Sports Centre at Baghliyar Dam - Pool Doda. Other major intervention proposed in the circuits include last mile connectivity, tourist facilitation/interpretation centre, base camps for trekking, facilitation centre for pilgrims for Amarnath Yatra, Sound and Light Show at Shalimar Bag, illumination of heritage structures, provision of eco friendly vehicles, Enhancement of tourist facilities at golf courses across the state.

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Draft Bill of Major Port Authorities Act, 2016 uploaded on Ministrys Website for Comments from Various Stakeholders
Sep 17,2016

The Ministry of Shipping has prepared a draft Bill n++Major Port Authorities Act, 2016n++ to replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963. With a view to promote the port infrastructure and facilitate trade and commerce. The proposed bill aims at giving more autonomy and flexibility to the major Ports and to bring in professional approach in their governance. This will help to impart faster and transparent decision making which will benefit the stakeholders.

The proposed Bill was earlier uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Shipping for receiving comments from various stakeholders. Based on the suggestions/comments from the stakeholders, the draft Bill has been modified and uploaded in the Ministry of Shippings website. The salient features of the new Bill are:

(a) Composition of board has been simplified. The board will consist of 10 members including 3 to 4 independent members instead of 17-19 under the present Port Trust Model. Provisions has been made for inclusion of 3 functional heads of Major Ports as Members in the Board apart from a Government Nominee Member and a Labour Nominee Member.

(b) The regulation to tariff by TAMP has been removed. Future PPP operators will be free to fix tariff based on market conditions and notify the Port Authority. The Board of the Port Authority has been delegated the power to fix the scale of rates for other port services and assets like land.

(c) Port related and non -port related use of land has been defined. A distinction has been made between these two usages in terms of approval of leases. The Port Authorities are empowered to lease land for Port related use for upto 40 years and for non-port related use upto 20 years beyond which the approval of the Central Government is required. For PPP projects the tenure of the lease of land would be as per the PPP policy of the Government.

(d) The need for Government approvals for raising loans, appointment of consultants, execution of contracts and creation of service posts have been dispensed with. The Board of Port Authority have been delegated power to raise loans and issue security for the purpose of capital expenditure and working capital requirement.

(e) Concept of internal audit of the functions and activities of the Central Ports has been introduced on the lines of Companies Act, 2015.

(f) An independent Review Board has been proposed to be created to carry out the residual function of the erstwhile TAMP for Major Ports, to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaires, to review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures to review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures to revive such projects and to look into complaints regarding services rendered by the ports/private operators operating within the ports would be constituted. At present, there is no independent body to look into the above aspects and the Review Board will reduce the extent of litigation between PPP Operators and Ports.

(g) Provisions of CSR & development of infrastructure by Port Authority have been introduced.

(h) The status of Port Authority will be deemed as local authority under the provisions of the General Clauses Act, 1887 & other applicable Statutes so that it could prepare appropriate regulations in respect of the area within the port limits to the exclusion of any Central, State of local laws.

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JNPT Commences Holding Yard Operations
Sep 17,2016

Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Indias No.1 Container Port, has commenced the holding yard operations in a six-hectare land at JNPCT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Container Terminal) approach roads to further ease out congestion and streamline the traffic to the terminal. This holding yard, which has been developed within the centralized parking plaza, will be utilized for parking Tractor Trailers (TT) awaiting the final documentation.

Commencement of holding yard at JNPCT is already showing results and has reduced the congestion by 90% at the port gate roads. 600 TTs can be accommodated in this holding area at one time. EXIM traders are largely benefitting in saving fuel, logistics cost and improved truck turnaround time as well as number of trips made by a tractor trailer in a day has also increased. The yard operation ensures free movement at the JNPCT approach roads which will help in better planning of TT movements. This area is developed as pay & park facility for trucks. Concessional parking rates have been offered at the yard is Rs. 60 & Rs. 70 for every 8 hours stay for 20 and 40 containers respectively.

TTs will be allowed to move to Terminal Gate only after receiving required clearance of all the documents or proper ticket clearing. TTs coming directly from CFSs with all clear documents will be allowed directly to Terminal Gate and TTs, which do not have clear documents including PIN number, will be diverted to Holding Yard. The undocumented factory stuffed containers which generally park on roads approaching to port area causing traffic congestion, will now be confined to holding yard and better traffic ensures that risk of shut out of export containers are eliminated.

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