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Ministry of Railways to Launch RAIL HAMSAFAR SAPTAAH - a Week Long Celebration to Highlight Railway Achievements During The Last Two Years
May 24,2016

On 25th May, 2016 Union Government shall be completing two years. During this period a number of initiatives have been launched and significant achievements made by Indian Railways in all spheres, especially in its responsiveness, accessibility and improvement of passenger amenities.

Ministry of Railways has decided to undertake a week long RAIL HAMSAFAR SAPTAAH from 26th May to 1st June, 2016. Each day of the week will focus on a particular theme and hence the days have been named as 26th May-Swachchta Diwas, 27th May-Satkar Diwas, 28th May-Sewa Diwas, 29th May-Satarkata Diwas, 30th May-Saamanjasya Diwas, 31st May-Sanyojan Diwas and 1st June-Sanchaar Diwas. Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu has directed that all the General Managers should personally supervise various activities to be undertaken during the week as given below:

(1) All Zonal Railways would ensure that various passenger amenities works nearing completion would be commissioned during this week. A list of such works would be submitted to the Railway Board by 25th May.

(2) On 26th May, (Swachchta Diwas) all out efforts would be made to undertake Intensive Cleanliness Drive on all the Stations and in Trains. All stations of Indian railways on that day would be inspected by an officer including GMs and DRMs who will be supervising the cleanliness drive with the help of railway staff, NGOs, staff associations, scouts & guides, etc.

(3) On 27th May (Satkaar Diwas) officers would be deputed to inspect All catering establishments and Drinking water facilities at stations and in trains to ensure that all the trains having pantry cars are inspected and catering units at stations are checked.

It would also be ensured that all the catering establishments are improved to the desired standards with complete display of rate list of items being sold, cleanliness and up-keep and maintenances of these catering units and pantry cars. Strict action would be taken against defaulters

(4) On 28th May (Sewa Diwas) each train, other than sub-urban commuting trains, would be monitored by an officer between 1000 to 1600 hrs. These nominated officers would travel by these trains and interact with passengers in all classes and ensure that amenities, as required, are provided and grievances are redressed. All trains would have an officer travelling. On this day a review of all public grievances, including social media, and other complaints/suggestions being received by the Divisions and Zonal Railway Headquarters would be analysed at the level of DRMs and GMs and remedial action and redressal would be done in most cases on that day itself.

(5) On 29th May Punctuality (Satarkata Diwas) and Ticket Checking drive would be undertaken across the Zonal Railways. This drive shall include ensuring 100% punctuality of mail/express & passenger trains, foot-plating of all mail/express trains and intensive Ticket Checking drive at major stations and in trains by, not only commercial staff, but also other railway staff duly authorized from other departments with adequate help from Vigilance, RPF and GRP staff.

(6) On 30th May (Saamanjasya Diwas) a day long exercise would be undertaken on all Divisions and Zonal Railway HQs wherein teams of concerned officers would inspect all railway staff colonies along with representatives of recognized unions to undertake cleanliness drive in the colonies and also for their upkeep and maintenance. On this day each Zonal Railways would undertake plantation of at least 1000 trees on each Division especially in the railway colonies and other premises. During this exercise railway employees and their families would be encouraged to participate and special sports events would be organized for railway employees and their families in the Divisional Stadiums. DRMs and GMs and other officers would hold meetings with employees in different depots and work places to listen their grievances and take on the spot remedial actions.

(7) On 31st May (Sanyojan Diwas) all DRMs and GMs would hold meetings and seminars with all Major Freight Traffic Customers to advise them about the various reforms and policy initiatives on the freight traffic side and to ask them to improve rail transportation, obtaining commitments from various industries to improve rail transportation to achieve the targets given to Zonal Railways. In these meetings various issues pertaining to individual industry/customer would be addressed and sorted out by the DRMs and GMs within a given time frame of 15 days.

(8) On 15t June (Sanchaar Diwas) all DRMs and GMs would review various activities under taken during the week and may hold Press Conferences in the afternoon to disseminate information about Indian Railways various achievements during the last two years and also various actions taken by them on their Divisions and Zones. All the above mentioned activities shall not remain confined to the days mentioned but throughout the week.

Member (Traffic) Shri Mohd. Jamshed shall be the Nodal Member.

CRB and Board Members may also be visiting and participating in these activities as per their programmes.

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Bread makers were using only permissible chemicals; let us stop scare mongering: ASSOCHAM
May 24,2016

While the report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has caused a panic among the consumers resulting in plummeting of sale of bread and bakery products, the use of potassium bromate, purported to be harmful to health, was being done with the permission and full knowledge of the food regulator, the ASSOCHAM said.

n++The industry will surely be at fault if it was using the PM in violation of the FSSAI rules. If at all, there is a problem, it does not lie at the door of the industry, which only would be put to immense loss of consumer confidence and crores of rupees worth of loss. Already, reports suggest a sharp fall in the sale of morning breads and a sense of panic among the homemakers,n++ ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

Mr Rawat said the ASSOCHAM is all for adoption of internationally accepted food standards. If at all, the problem is detected, the first contact point for the NGOs and independent organisations should be the government agencies, regulators both at the Centre and state levels.

n++But an impression has been created as if the entire lot of bread manufacturers are deliberately causing risk to the public health. A similar thing had happened in the case of Maggi noodles which finally returned to the market after an effective court intervention, but not without several hundreds of crores of rupees of loss to the manufacturersn++.

The ASSOCHAM said if India has to scale up its food processing industry , it cannot be left to scare-mongering by NGOs. n++The NGOs are free to be watch dogs, but they must realise that their reports and findings should not be targeted only at the industryn++.While the government is trying to move towards of ease of doing business by relaxing the inspector raj, the NGO policing may harm many timesn++.

Mr Rawat said, the Health Ministry and the FSSAI should immediately come out with a clarification on the bread controversy. If need be, the manufacturers should also engage with the regulators and consumers giving them confidence. n++Or else, immense loss of goodwill and financial loss would be caused. As it is, the stock prices of the food companies have come under pressure out of panicn++.

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India signs loan agreement with world bank for IBRD loan of US$ 100 million for Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernization project
May 24,2016

The Loan and Project Agreements for World Bank (IBRD) assistance of US$ 100 million for the Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernization project were signed between Government of India/Government of Karnataka and the World Bank here today.

The Loan Agreement was signed by Shri Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. Michael Haney, Acting Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank. The Project Agreement was signed by Shri V. Ponnuraj, Managing Director, Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development & Finance Corporation (KUIDFC) on behalf of the Government of Karnataka. Mr. Michael Haney signed the Project Agreement on behalf of the World Bank. The objective of the project is to provide city-wide access to a continuous piped water supply in the eligible cities in the State of Karnataka and to strengthen the service delivery arrangements at the city level. KUIDFC is the implementing agency for the project.The project would have four broad components: (i) Capital Investment Program; (ii) Institution Building; (iii) Technical Assistance for Sector Development; and (iv) Project Management. The project will be implemented over a period of six years, initially in the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad, with provision for other eligible cities to join the project at a later date. Under the project, the Hubballi Dharwad Municipal Corporation has hired a professional water supply operating company for improving the water supply system, as also to manage the refurbished system through a 12-year contract in accordance with strict performance criteria. The municipality will retain ownership of the water supply assets and control of the service delivery set up. The project will help the Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation set up a city-level water utility that will take over water supply operations from the professional operating company at the end of its contract period. The project will benefit about one million residents of the Hubballi- Dharwad, including estimated 160,000 slum dwellers.

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Reforms in Major Ports to promote n++Ease of doing Businessn++
May 24,2016

The Ministry of Shipping in the past year has taken up several initiatives to promote trade and improve Indias ranking in the n++Trading Across Borders indicator of World Banks Doing Business Report. Following steps have been taken by the Ministry to facilitate ease of doing business:

1. From manual to electronic interface: Form 11&13 in manual form have been eliminated at all three terminals at JNPT and replaced by web based e-form-13, which is now done electronically. Apart from JNPT, other Major Ports are also using electronic forms.

2. Accommodation for laboratories of regulatory agencies within port premises: The Ministry has issued instructions to all Major Ports to facilitate and provide land area for setting up of laboratories for animal/ plant quarantine, for textile and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

3. Implementation of Direct Port Delivery Scheme: - The Ministry has directed all Major Ports to extend the Direct Port Delivery facility to all Accredited Client Programme (ACP) clients and to provide additional land area for parking of DPD containers. JNPT has issued a TRADE NOTICE on 09 February 2016 extending DPD facility to all ACP clients. The earlier conditions for providing DPD have been waived. At present, 15 ACP clients are utilizing the DPD facility at JNPCT and DPD and TEUs showing increasing trend. In March, 2016, 1401 TEUs were handled through DPD which is highest in the last one year in a month.

4. Reduction in Fee and Charges for non peak hours in all Ports: In order to decongest Major Port, the Ministry has taken up the issue of reduction of fee and charges with Tariff Authority for Major Ports to issue direction to all Major Ports/ BOT Operators operating there at, to fix separate lower charges for cargo and vessels related services and also give a special discount for the services rendered to exporter and importers after regular hours. Accordingly, Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) vide its Order No. TAMP/14/2016-Misc has issued direction to all Major Ports/ BOT Operators to prescribe lower charges for cargo/ vessels related services and also give a special discount for the services rendered after regular hours.

5. Installation of container scanners at Major Ports: Earlier, the work of installation of container scanners was being dealt by CBEC. As decided, in the meeting chaired by Revenue Secretary at JNPT on 24.10.2015 and followed by the decision taken in CoS meeting held on 23.12.2015, the Ministry has initiated the process for procurement of container scanners. Indian Port Association has been asked to undertake the process of procurement of the scanners based on the specifications received from CBEC. IPA has already initiated the process and the work order for the procurement shall be issued by November, 2016.

6. Automation of Issuance of Delivery Orders: All the Shipping Lines (31) at JNPT are compliant with E-Delivery capability and implemented issuance of E-Delivery Orders. Other Major Ports were also directed to implement of issuance of E-delivery Orders. MoPT & NMPT have informed that all the financial transactions pertaining to vessel and cargo related activities are through e-payment and system has been introduced for accepting e-delivery order from the Shipping Agents.

7. Implementation of RFID Scheme for gate automation: All the Major Ports are in process of implementing RFID Gate Automation System. The tendering process to procure RFID is in progress and all the ports are expected to complete this process by the end of this year. Four Major Ports namely KoPT, ChPT, CoPT and PPT have completed tender and work order has been issued for supply and installation of the RFID system.

8. Integration of Major Ports filing system with Customs software:

Major Ports are using advance information of import cargo online by way of accessing IGM message through (PCS) integration with Customs software ICEGATE. This process has cut down dwell time significantly.

At JNPT, an advance single interface to integrate IGM, out of charge and entry inwards with Import Advance list (IAL) will be operational by the end of May, 2016.

9. Measures to remove congestion at ports on war footing:

To remove bottlenecks in rail/ road connectivity (like widening of roads, development of parking areas) for faster evacuation of cargo, all Major Ports have been directed to take necessary corrective measures. JNPT has taken the following measures in this regard:

(i) Development of Parking Areas: JNPT has undertaken development of Centralized Parking Plaza covering 45 hectares area which can accommodate about 2000 Tractor/ Trailers (TTs). Phase-I of the project has been completed and area is developed as pay & park facility for trucks. Two dedicated parking plots measuring 6.3 hectares & 5 hectares have been allotted to two other private terminal operators namely APMT & NSICT, respectively. Both the terminal operators have started operation of parking facility. Further, 3 hectares of area near Y junction has been developed to enable parking of undocumented factory stuffed containers of JNPCT.

(ii) Widening of Roads: The Y junction is widened on BPCL side about 3000 Sq. Mtrs. for smooth traffic movement at junction. This year the concretization of this junction has also been taken up which will start after monsoon. Roads from Y junction to JNP CFS, CFS junction to SH-54 and Karal junction to CFS junction have been widened.

(iii) Inter-Terminal movement of trailers:- Inter Terminal transfer of TTs between JNPCT & GTI and between JNPCT & NSICT has already started.

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Do away with anti-dumping duty on flexible slabstock polyol: ASSOCHAM plea
May 24,2016

Apex industry body has urged the government to provide level playing field to both domestic polyol manufacturers and importers/downstream industry players by eliminating existing trade barriers being imposed after misrepresentation of facts by certain domestic flexible slabstock polyol manufacturing companies. n++In India there is no dumping of flexible slabstock polyol, besides domestic production is not enough to cater to local demand as such there should be no safeguard duty imposed on import of flexible slabstock polyol from Thailand,n++ said The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in a communication to Commerce Secretary, Ms Rita Teaotia. n++Large parts of the demand of flexible slabstock polyol in India is being catered by imports of raw material due to non-availability of domestically manufactured polyol in sufficient quantity,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general, ASSOCHAM. n++Import of raw material is extremely critical for flexible polyurethane industry in India which otherwise would impact existence and growth of domestic industry and labour engaged in polyurethane foam manufacturing,n++ said Mr Rawat. In its note to the Commerce Secretary, ASSOCHAM has highlighted that domestic companies have not updated their technology and capacity to cater to total demand in India, besides chemical industry needs material from improved and updated technology as available in international market to keep downstream industry rolling and competitive. Companies in India have been thrusting their inefficiency on downstream foaming industry by using protective mechanism of safeguard duty which has already started impacting local foam manufacturing companies as is evident from upward trend in import of foams driven by new compact packing technology. n++Such misuse of industrial provisions is heavily impacting existence and growth of local foaming industry which has larger stakes in India in terms of investment and employment,n++ said ASSOCHAM.

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Modi Govts two year tenure work in progress, ASSOCHAM gives 7 out of ten
May 24,2016

Describing the two-year tenure of the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modis Government as work in progress, apex industry body ASSOCHAM today said that countrys big macroeconomic picture has certainly been steadied while some bold moves have been made in the roads and highways, railways and energy sectors earning seven out of ten ranking from India Inc on the performance chart.

n++The ASSOCHAM assessment about the NDA Government on completion of its two years is based on interactions and feedback of the cross section of industry leaders from manufacturing, banking, real estate, trading and infrastructure industries,n++ said The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

ASSOCHAM president, Mr Sunil Kanoria said, n++The leadership of Mr Modi clearly stands out in certain critical areas like the foreign policy and push to the infrastructure sectors, however, the industry would expect consideration traction in disinvestment, resolution of taxation disputes, agriculture reforms and most importantly the GST Bill.n++

n++While laudable work has been initiated in the key infrastructure areas like highways, power and the railways, aggressive approach would now be required in the challenging sector of agriculture and the entire rural landscape, which is passing through crisis,n++ said Mr Kanoria.

n++The rural population needs immediate helping hand. As far as macro economy is concerned, India has no doubt it will come out a lot more stable and strong as compared to the summer of 2014. Finance Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor, Dr Raghuram Rajan did commendable work in terms of bringing about a stable exchange rate, drastic reduction in current account deficit and moving some of the key legislative reforms such Bankruptcy Law, Real Estate Regulation. However, lot more is required as for as the tax disputes and litigation is concerned,n++ said the ASSOCHAM chief.

He said while the industry would always want lower and still lower interest rates, a lot of credit must be given to the RBI Governor for slashing the policy interest rates at least by 150 basis points over the last 15 months, though the banks did not pass on the same to the consumers.

n++In a situation when the central bank is mandated to do inflation targeting, its main task becomes inflation calibration, which ultimately leads to sustainable growth,n++ said Mr Kanoria.

He said, n++It would be only fair to call the NDA Government as work in progress since it would take time before the projects in sectors such as railways and highways bear fruit. However, the bigger area of concern remains the huge toxic assets of the public sector banks, mainly because of business downturns. The government and the RBI, both need to handle the issue of non-performing assets (NPAs) with extreme care and the banks should be empowered to take the commercial decisions in case of stressed assets without any fear of facing reprisals on post-mortem of their actions at a much later date.n++

One of the sticking points has been the non-passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, which does not appear to be happening any time soon either, given the surcharged political environment and the back to back elections in the state assemblies. n++Efforts must continue to reach out to the principal opposition party while the Congress Party must also rise above the political considerations alone for the good of the nation.

In crucial sectors such as health and education, the India Inc does not rate the performance as much as was expected. n++Both these areas are critical for the human resource. While the Skill India and Start up India area great moves along with the Jan Dhan Yojna, much more is required in providing adequate and quality education. Besides, the public expenditure in health sector needs go up and dependence on insurance alone would not be sufficient.

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Lucknow tops Fast Track competition; 13 more Smart Cities announced
May 24,2016

Central Government today announced 13 more smart cities from as many States. Lucknow topped the list of winners of the Fast Track competition conducted for 23 cities from as many States and Union Territories. Announcing the winners at a media conference on the occasion of two years of the Government in office, Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu said that the cities that participated in the competition improved the quality of smart city plans by up to over 25% to become eligible for selection. With the selection of these 13 cities, 25 States/UTs are now covered under Smart City Mission

On the occasion, Shri Naidu released a publication Urban Renaissance : May,2014-May,2016 giving a detailed account of paradigm shift in attitudes and approaches to urban planning and governance and the major drivers of urban revival and transformation set in motion during the last two years.

Shri Naidu informed that Lucknow that missed the list of first 20 smart cities improved the quality of its smart city plan by 19% to make it to the select list. Other winners of Fast Track competition were ; Warangal, Telanagana (13%), Shimla, Himachal Pradesh (27%), Chandigarh (9%), Raipur, Chattisgarh (25%), New Town Kolkata (11%), Bhagalpur, Bihar (25%), Panaji, Goa (9%), Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands (26%), Imphal, Manipur (27%), Ranchi, Jharkhand (27%), Agartala, Tripura (25%) and Faridabad, Haryana(12%).

These 13 cities were selected based on the marks scored by them in the Fast Track competition and the bench marks set by the top performers in the first round of Smart City Challenge competition in which the first 20 cities were selected from among 98 mission cities.

Shri Naidu stated that the 13 cities have substantially improved their smart city plans by addressing the deficiencies identified in the first round of competition by ensuring better profiling of respective cities in terms of infrastructure gaps and baseline service levels, ensuring consistency between citizens aspirations and action plans, more feasible resource mobilization plans and coordinated and integrated picture of how individual projects will contribute to area level changes.

Other cities that participated in Fast Track Competition were : Namchi, Sikkim and ranked 14, Aizawl, Mizoram(15), Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh(16), Dehradun, Uttarakhand(17), Kohima, Nagaland(18), Oulgaret, Puducherry(19), Silvassa, Dadra, Nagar & Haveli(20), Kavaratti, Lakshdweep(21), Diu, Daman & Diu(22) and Shillong, Meghalaya(23). These cities can submit their revised smart city plans for evaluation in the second round of regular competition underway by the end of June.

Shri Venkaiah Naidu informed that the tie between Meerut and Rai Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Srinagar in J&K will be resolved by allowing them to participate in the smart city competition and one city from each of these two States will be selected based on the quality of smart city plans. Seven capital cities left out of Smart City Mission will also be allowed to participate in the competition. These cities are : Patna, Shimla, Naya Raipur, Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).

The Minister said that as a part of efforts for countrys transformation towards higher levels of social and economic development, renaissance of urban sector has been set in motion through a paradigm shift in policies and programmes. n++The new approaches introduced, the new churning at the level of urban local bodies and States/UTs, the new spirit of competition among cities and Stated to do better than others, the new enthusiasm and vigor being demonstrated, the new clarity of thought about outcomes and actions to be taken and the new beginning towards urban transformation in a more purposeful and holistic manner marked the process of urban renaissancen++ he said.

Extensive stakeholder consultations and citizen participation, selection of cities based on competition and other objective criteria, full autonomy to cities and States/UTs to formulate, appraise and approve projects, replacing project based sanctions of the past to area and outcome based planning, convergence based implementation of schemes and substantial enhancement in Central assistance are the major drivers of urban revival, said Shri Naidu.

Giving an account of the gains of new initiatives and approaches, Shri Naidu said that for the first time in the country, 98 smart cities and 497 Atal Mission cities accounting for over 70% of urban population now have long term five year action plans based on comprehensive analysis of infrastructure gaps. Other positives the Minister stated include : Atal Mission cities acquiring technology platforms for transparent and accountable governance and citizen engagement, about 100 cities initiating action for obtaining Credit Ratings necessary for resource mobilization, approvals for plans for providing water taps to the unconnected 25 million urban households besides ensuring water supply at the norm of 135 litres per head per day to all urban households by 2019, smart city development benefitting 130 million urban people, streamlining approvals for building permits in urban areas, efforts for sanitation benefitting all 80 million urban households, well considered initiatives to ensure affordable housing for all the urban poor etc.

Shri Naidu further informed that Central assistance for improving basic infrastructure in urban areas has been increased to Rs.1,13,143 cr under new urban missions as against only Rs.33,902 cr during 2004-14. For affordable housing for urban poor, Central assistance of Rs.10,050 cr has already been approved as against only Rs.17,889 cr during the previous ten years.

6.84 lakh houses have already been sanctioned for Economically Weaker Sections under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) accounting for more than half of 13.70 lakh houses sanctioned during 2004-14 out of which only 8.04 lakh houses could be built. Availability of land is being ensured before agreeing to fund housing schemes besides giving four options to the beneficiaries to choose from based on their needs and incomes to enable targeted construction of affordable houses, the Minister observed.

Shri Venkaiah Naidu informed that the new urban sector initiatives of PMAY(Urban), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Start City Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission and Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) have a total investment potential of Rs.18 lakh crore. Of this, an investment of Rs.1,48,093 cr has already been approved. This include ; Affordable housing-Rs.43,922 cr, Atal Mission-Rs.20,882 cr, Smart City Mission-Rs.80,789 cr, Swachh Bharat Mission-Rs.2,000 cr and HRIDAY- Rs.500 cr.

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Government is working expeditiously for the storage of perishable agricultural products- Shri Radha MohanSingh
May 24,2016

Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that Government is working expeditiously for the storage of perishable agricultural products so that the farmers may get better return of their produce by adopting better market practices. Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister stated this in a meeting of Food, Civil Supply and Consumer Affairs in-charge State Ministers and related Union Ministers.

Shri Singh said that India has acquired largest cold storages capacity in the world which is 32 million tones during last two years. Nearly 250 projects comprising of more than one million capacities have been developed. Now, horticulture sector has become the largest source of income within the precincts of agriculture sector. He further said that we have to ensure that the farmers expand their marketing approach for their perishable crops. For this purpose focus will be concentrated on cold storages and other related infrastructures.

The Minister added that Honble Prime Minister has launched National Agriculture Market Portal formally on 14th April, 2016 for 21 mandis of 8 states. As a whole, 25 agricultural commodities for which commercial parameters have been framed out, are being given permission for online trade under the scheme.

Shri Singh informed that Department is implementing sub scheme of Agriculture Marketing Infrastructure Integrated Scheme for agricultural marketing across the country so as to construct a number of storages of adequate capacity in rural areas and to provide scientific facilities in these storages. 37795 storage projects with 619.49 lakh metric tonnes capacity have been approved. As on 31.03.2016 a provision of 2199.07 crore rupees subsidy has been made.

The Minister informed that during 2016-17, 14 districts of Kerala and 2 districts of Goa have been included additionally under NFSM Pulse Seeds scheme. With this, 638 districts of 29 states have now come under cumulative coverage. In this respect, production of hybrid pulse seeds, seed production subsidy, establishment of seed centres in KVK and SAU, distribution of seed mini kits of pulse seeds, industrial demonstration, INM, IPM promotion, utilization of rice fallow area and irrigation promotion of pulse seeds like new schemes under PMKSY have been proposed to be implemented during 2016-17. A group has been constituted for the enhancement of pulse production for which a 5 year action plan has been formulated to get a production of 24 million tonnes by 2020-21.

Shri Singh informed that target has been chalked out to enhance vegetable oil production up to 2.45 million tonnes by the end of 12th plan. To achieve this target national oilseeds and oil palm mission is being implemented in the country.

Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister said that he has always focused his attention on maximizing production of food grains. He further said that we should not allow wastage of food grains to happen and should create awareness on this subject. This way, we will be able to reduce burden on ecological infrastructure by saving adequate food. He further added that Ministry of Food is specially driving a campaign entitled n++Stop Food Wastagen++ in urban areas and big programs/groups.

Shri Singh requested the states on this eve that they should work together for the effective implementation of agriculture schemes so that food production is enhanced. Minister also said that the implementation of National Agricultural Market is also necessary to ensure best price of farmers products.

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Discovered Small Field Bidding Round to be launched on 25th May
May 24,2016

Discovered Small Field Bidding Round - 2016 will be launched on 25th May, 2016 in New Delhi. The event will be presided over by Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum & Natural Gas Sh. Dharmendra Pradhan. Under the Discovered Small Field Policy, Government of India is offering 67 discovered small fields in 46 Contract areas spread over 9 sedimentary basins in onland, shallow water and deep water areas for bidding which have known hydrocarbon discoveries. These fields have been discovered by Indias National oil companies and are now being offered under exclusive policy which is designed to be investor friendly and is based on easy to administer Revenue Sharing contract model, in tune with the Governments policy of Ease of doing business in India. This is a path-breaking initiative in the series of progressive policies being undertaken by Government of India in the Oil and Gas sector.

More than 85MMT of in-place volume of reserves are there in these Contract areas. There will be a revised business model under Revenue Sharing Contract. It will involve International Competitive Bidding with no mandatory domestic participation. There is no mandatory prior technical experience required for the bidder nor is there any mandatory work program. There will be no cess, and minimal royalty is in line with earlier New Exploration Licensing Policy. Goods and services imported for petroleum operations will be exempted from custom duty. The investors will not only get an opportunity to enter in Indian upstream market but will also experience freedom for pricing and marketing of Crude and Gas on arms length basis. The Contract extension clause is generous and there will be no restriction on exploration during the contract period. Road shows are being planned in India and abroad to attract investors for the Bidding Round.

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States urged to exempt pulses from VAT and other local taxes and rationalize stock limit to ensure availability at reasonable prices
May 24,2016

Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has urged the States to exempt pulses from VAT and other local taxes. It may help cool the prices of the pulses by 5% to 7%. Briefing the media about the deliberations and decisions taken in the States Food and Consumer Affairs meeting, Shri Paswan said that State Food Ministers conference noticed that, the prices of the specified food items like pulses, sugar, edible oil seeds commodity shoot up abnormally due to hoarding, profiteering and cartelling by traders and middlemen- without any benefit to the farmers. It was pointed out that the traders hoard the stock of a commodity in a bordering State where stock limits are not imposed. Therefore, there is a need that all States & UTs impose and implement stock There should be a logical and scientific formula for stock limits separately in consuming states and surplus states limits and also for millers, producers and importers. so that supply chain mechanism remains smooth and pulses are available at reasonable prices

It was also recommended that importers of pulses should display stock position on public platforms such as portals of Ministry of Consumer Affairs or States Government portals to bring in more transparency about availability of stock. It was strongly felt that Government agencies should opt for long term supply contracts in place of tenders for time to time import of pulses for building up buffer stock.

Regarding the prices of sugar, Shri Paswan said that he has written to the chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu requesting them to keep a close watch on the release and stock held by sugar mills to ensure availability in the domestic market. He said that production linked export incentive scheme has been withdrawn midway to ensure adequate availability of the sugar in the domestic market. The states have been asked to implement stock limit effectively.

Shri Paswan said the government is effectively using Price Stabilization Fund for creating buffer stock of pulses and onions. So far about 50,000 MT Kharif and about 25,000 Rabi pulses have been procured and 26,000 MT contracted for import for buffer stock. Out of this 10,000 MT have allocated to the States. Requests from other States are awaited for further allocations.

He said that the Centre has further decided to strengthen price monitoring mechanism by including more markets for collecting price data. He said that State Governments have also been requested to set up price monitoring mechanism at their level also to take timely action to ensure availability.

Appreciating the efforts of State Governments for implementing National Food Security Act, Shri Paswan said now 72 crores people across 33 States/UTs have become eligible for wheat at Rs2/kg and rice at Rs 3/kg. He said now States should focus better targeting of food subsidy. He said End-to-End computerization of TPDS would certainly help in this venture. So far about 56% ration cards have been seeded with Aadhar cards against the total Aadhar coverage of about 83%. More than 1,15,909 FPSs are automated across the country by installing e-Point of Sale devices, and this count is likely to be increased to 3,06,526 FPSs by March, 2017. About 1.62 crore ineligible ration cards have been eliminated and food grains worth Rs. 10,000 crore have been better targeted.

Shri Paswan said decision was also taken to ensure online allocation of food grain up to FPS within two months in the States where it has yet to be done. So far it is being made in 25 States. States were also requested to expedite preparation for online procurement of food grains by their agencies. Farmers mobile numbers should be registered and their accounts numbers should be taken for direct deposit of system generated cheques. Remaining non-DCP States were requested to take up DCP operations as it would help in saving food subsidy, enhancing the efficiency of procurement and public distribution & encouraging local procurement to the maximum extent thereby extending the benefits of MSP to local farmers.

In order to strengthen storage facilities Government has approved a road map for construction of steel Silos of 100 LMT capacity in the next 4-5 years in three phases for both wheat and rice. Depot-Online has been launched for monitoring the operations in 30 FCI Depots on pilot basis and by July this year all the 554 depots of FCI will be online. Shri Paswan expressed hope that these efforts will result in improving food grain management. He said as decided by the conference State Governments will work in coordinated way to ensure availability of essential commodities at reasonable prices.

Addressing the meeting, Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister appreciated farmers and State Governments efforts for ensuring enough food gain production despite drought for last two years. He said recent estimates indicate production during 2015-16 will be more than the last year. Agriculture Minister said that as our country is the largest consumer of pulses, there is need to increase the production of pulses. A scheme for this purpose is being implemented under mission mode, to improve the production of pulses, 50% of the NFSM is being allocated for pulses production. He said that the Government is working on various plans to reduce the cost of agriculture inputs and increase the returns of the farmers for their produce. He also requested the States to develop agri-markets and bring them on-line so that farmers get reasonable price for produce.

After deliberations, the meeting adopted an action plan to improve the availability and to contain prices of essential food items. Salient features of the Action Plan are: -

n++ Rationalisation of imposition of stock limits

n++ Streamlining of the price monitoring mechanism to make it more scientific and accurate.

n++ Utilisation of full potential of the price Stabilisation Fund and States to consider setting up their own PSF

n++ Notification of Rules under NFSA.

n++ Implementation of end to end computerisation of TPDS off taking

n++ The Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) is used to assist Central/State agencies to procure agri-commodities from the farmers at the time of fresh arrivals in market. Assistance is also provided to for setting up State Level PSF. States may consider setting up their State Level PSF for managing the price concern.

n++ All States and UTs shall implement the End-to-end Computerisation of TPDS Operations and draw timelines for completion of the key activities under the scheme. Online allocation of food grains and automation of the whole supply chain under TPDS has to be implemented immediately. Smart devices e PDS devices have to be installed on all FPS, so that all transactions under TPDS are biometric verified and are shown online in public domain. All this has to be accompanied by setting up of robust grievance redressal machinery up to the district level.

n++ In a time bound manner all States/UTs must seek the aadhar numbers of the beneficiaries into the database to make it error free and to weed out bogus ration cards. This will also enable portability of the entitlements of the beneficiaries on a regional, State and ultimately on the national basis. More States /UTs must adopt cash transfer model of DBT in manageable areas and then scale it up.

n++ To further empower the women States /UTs must issue all the ration cards in the name of the eldest woman of the household and wherever cash transfer under DBT scheme is being undertaken, it must transferred in the account only.

n++ All procuring States/UTs should adopt decentralised procurement (DCP) of food grains by the next Kharif marketing season. This will benefit the farmers ensuring better access to the MSP system.

n++ All States/UTs should to adopt and implement an online system for management of food grains p

First e-bidding process through n++ DEEPn++ Portal results in substantive savings for Uttarakhand, Kerala , Bihar & Torrent Power
May 24,2016

First e-Bidding process through recently launched DEEP (Discovery of Efficient Electricity Price) e-Bidding Portal for Short term power procurement has been concluded for the State of Uttarakhand and Kerala on 29 April 2016, for Torrent Power on 03 May 2016 and for State of Bihar on 09 May 2016.

Secretary (Power) Shri P K Pujari, while congratulating States of Uttarakhand, Kerala Bihar and Torrent Power for early adoption of the e-bidding portal, stated that the process has resulted in substantial savings as the prices discovered through e-bidding are significantly lower than the prices at which power was procured during the similar period in the last year.

For the State of Kerala, the lowest prices for the month of May in slot of the day have been discovered at 3.14 per unit while in the last year, Short term power in round the clock was procured at the rate of 4.70 per unit.

For the State of Uttarakhand, the lowest price for power for the month of July on round the clock basis was discovered at 2.59 per unit through reverse auction in e-Bidding process using the bidding portal. It may be noted that last year for the month of July, the lowest price at which short term power was procured by the Discoms in the State of Uttarakhand was 3.41 per unit.

In e-Bidding process of Torrent Power Ltd., the lowest price for the month of May-June in slot of the day has been discovered at the rate of 2.95 per unit. There was no short term procurement in 2014-15 and 2015-16 by Torrent Power Ltd.

For the State of Bihar, the lowest rate for the month of July, for slot of day, has been discovered at 3.08 per unit. No procurement was done in last two year through bidding by Discoms in the State of Bihar.

These lower prices discovered through reverse auction in e-Bidding Process are expected to result in overall reduction of cost of procurement of power in the States and greater transparency in the auction process benefiting the ultimate consumers.

Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal , New and Renewable Energy had inaugurated the launch of n++DEEP (Discovery of Efficient Electricity Price) e-Bidding& e-Reverse Auction portaln++ for procurement of short term power by DISCOMs on April 2016 with the objective to introduce uniformity and transparency in power procurement by the DISCOMs and at the same time promote competition in electricity sector.

The Guidelines for short term procurement of power was also notified on 30.03.2016 by Ministry of Power, Government of India, making it mandatory for all the Procurer(s) to procure short term power by using this e-Bidding portal. The scope of this portal shall be further expanded soon to cover medium term and long term procurement of power.

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Presently e-TV application fee is US$ 60 and bank charge is US$ 2 which is uniform for all the countries
May 24,2016

The Ministry of Tourism has been working very closely with Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs for easing of the Visa Regime in the country over a period of time. The Ministry supported the initiative regarding the implementation of Tourist Visa on Arrival enabled with Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) (renamed as e-Tourist Visa) strongly and committed all support to Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation for implementing this programme.

How e-Tourist Visa Work

The e-Tourist Visa enables the prospective visitor to apply for an Indian Visa from his/her home country online without visiting the Indian Mission and also pay the visa fee online. Once approved, the applicant receives an email authorizing him/her to travel to India and he/she can travel with a print out of this authorisation. On arrival, the visitor has to present the authorisation to the immigration authorities who would then stamp the entry into the country.

This facility is available to Foreigners whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sight-seeing, short duration medical treatment, casual business visit, etc. and not valid for any other purpose/activities. This will allow entry into India within 30 days from the date of approval of e-Tourist Visa and will be valid for 30 days stay in India from the date of arrival in India. The e-Tourist Visa cannot be availed more than twice in a calendar year. The facility will encourage people to travel with short-term planning, take via routes while travelling to other countries and bring family members while on business visits.

e-Tourist Visa Fee

Government of India w.e.f November 2015 has also revised the e-Tourist Visa (e-TV) fee in four slabs of 0, US$ 25, US$ 48, and US$ 60 from November 3, 2015. Presently e-TV application fee is US$ 60 and bank charge is US$ 2 which is uniform for all the countries. The revision of Visa fee has been done on the principle of reciprocity. Bank charges have also been reduced from US$ 2 to 2.5% of the e-TV fee. There is no bank charge for zero visa fees.

List of countries eligible for e-Tourist Visa on Arrival Scheme in India

Commencing from 27th November 2014, e-Tourist Visa facility was available until 25th February 2016 for citizens of 113 countries. The Government of India has extended this scheme for citizens of 37 more countries w.e.f 26th February 2016 taking the tally to 150 countries. The list of 150 countries eligible for e-Tourist Visa as on 26.02.2016 is given below:-

Albania, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Island, Chile, China, China- SAR Hongkong, China- SAR Macau, Colombia, Comoros, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote dlvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Island, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Vanuatu, Vatican City-Holy See, Venezuela, Vietnam., Zambia & Zimbabwe.

List of Airports where e-Tourist Visa facility is available

e-Tourist Visa facility is now available in the following 16 airports (as on 26.02.2016) - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Goa, Varanasi, Gaya, Ahmadabad, Amritsar, Tiruchirapalli, Jaipur and Lucknow.

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Committee for examining applications made under Rule 10VA notified
May 24,2016

The Finance Act, 2015 inserted a new Section 9A to the Income-tax Act, 1961 with effect from 01.04.2016 to provide for a special regime in respect of offshore funds having fund managers located in India. The necessary guidelines for application of Section 9A have been published in the Official Gazette vide Notification No. SO 110 (E) dated 15.03.2016 by way of insertion of rules 10V, 10VA, 10VB and Forms 3CEJ & 3K in the Income-tax Rules, 1962.

Rule 10VA provides for mechanism of fund being approved by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) for purpose of Section 9A. The fund seeking approval is required to make an application to Member (Income-tax), CBDT. A Committee as notified by the Board is to examine the application and submit its recommendations regarding grant of approval or otherwise and the conditions, if any, subject to which such approval would be granted.

Accordingly, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has notified the Committee as follows:

n++ Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (International Taxation), West Zone, Mumbai (Chairman).

n++ Commissioner of Income Tax (International Taxation)-1, Mumbai.

n++ Commissioner of Income Tax (Transfer Pricing)-1 Mumbai.

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Gross and Net Market borrowing requirements of the Government for FY16 were revised lower to Rs. 5,85,000 crore and Rs. 4,40,608 crore
May 24,2016

During Q4 of FY16, the Government issued dated securities worth Rs. 84,000 crore to complete its gross borrowings of Rs. 5,85,000 crore for FY 16. Gross and Net Market borrowing requirements of the Government for FY16 were revised lower to Rs. 5,85,000 crore and Rs. 4,40,608 crore, which were lower by 1.18 per cent and 2.75 per cent, respectively, than Rs. 5,92,000 crore and Rs. 4,53,205 crore in FY15. Auctions during Q4 of FY16 were held broadly in accordance with the pre-announced calendar. The weighted average maturity of primary issuance was kept long during this quarter and stood at 15.74 years, however, it was lower than Q3 FY 16 (16.72 years) due to market conditions. The weighted average yield (cut-off) of issuance during Q4 of FY16, was at 7.89 per cent as against 7.70 per cent in Q3 of FY16, reflecting some hardening in yields during the quarter. The cash position of the Government during Q4 of FY16 was comfortable and remained in surplus mode during the quarter. The issuance amount under Treasury bills was also broadly as per calendar.

The Public Debt (excluding liabilities under the Public Account) of the Central Government provisionally decreased marginally. Internal debt constituted 92.0 per cent of public debt as at end-March 2016, while marketable securities accounted for 84.8 per cent of public debt. About 26.9 per cent of outstanding stock has a residual maturity of up to 5 years, which implies that over the next five years, on an average, around 5.4 per cent of outstanding stock needs to be rolled over every year. Thus, the rollover risk in the debt portfolio continues to be low. The implementation of budgeted buy back/ switches in coming quarters is expected to reduce roll over risk further.

G-sec yields witnessed significant intra-quarter movements. G-Sec market opened the quarter on weak note tracking the depreciating domestic currency and local equity market. The market sentiment was adversely affected in February due to higher than expected inflation numbers, hardening bias in US Treasuries, higher borrowings of states, uncertainties over issuance of UDAYA bonds, etc., and 10-year G-sec yield touched a high of 7.85%, general levels last seen in June 2015. Since February end, the market reversed its direction and gained significantly post budget on positive market sentiment. 10 Yr benchmark paper closed the quarter at 7.46%, lowest yield level since July 2013 as against 7.69% on December 31, 2015. In Q4 FY 16, Central Government dated securities continued to account for a dominant portion of total trading volumes.

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Mamata, Jayalalitha likely to help NDA at Centre in economic reforms: ASSOCHAM
May 20,2016

Results of the Assembly Elections in key states including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala, have strengthened Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi who will now be able to speed up economic reforms with help of non-Congress friendly parties like AIADMK and even Trinamool Congress, ASSOCHAM President, Mr Sunil Kanoria said.

n++The NDA Government will certainly find it easier to deal with Trinamool Congress and AIADMK in the Rajya Sabha for passage of crucial bills, mainly the long-pending and the most important, GST (Goods and Services Tax),n++ said Mr Kanoria.

n++At the state level, emphatic return of West Bengal Chief Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms J. Jayalalitha, sends out a clear signal that there is no alternative to the people-centric policies,n++ said the ASSOCHAM chief.

n++In Tamil Nadu especially, it is seen how one of the most progressive and industrialised state can carry forward even the populist schemes which are targeted towards meeting basic needs of people at the bottom of the pyramid,n++ he added.

n++Plus, decisive leadership of the two women Chief Ministers have played a key role in the victories of their parties,n++ further said Mr Kanoria.

ASSOCHAM has congratulated two of the most influential women leaders in South Asia, besides the apex chamber has also congratulated the Prime Minister and the BJP President for a decisive victory in Assam.

n++BJPs victory in Assam opens a new political chapter in the north-eastern states, which are expected to be asking for more of development to meet rising aspirations of their people,n++ said the ASSOCHAM president.

In Kerala, a message is clearly anti-incumbency, marked by allegations of various scams in the Congress led UDF, ASSOCHAM wishes the incumbent LDF success.

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