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Cabinet approves financial support to BHEL for R&D project for development of Advanced Ultra Super Critical Technology
Aug 11,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved a proposal of R&D project for development of Advanced Ultra Super Critical (AUSC) Technology for Thermal Power Plant with an estimated cost of Rs.1554 crore and providing one time budgetary support of Rs.900 crore spread over a period of three years, commencing from 2017-18, to be provided as plan Gross Budgetary Support to BHEL for implementation of the R&D project.

A Consortium of three Government Entities, namely Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), Indira Gandhi Centre of Atomic Research (IGCAR) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) have proposed a R&D project for development of AUSC Technology for Thermal Power Plants of future, envisaging reduced coal consumption as well as Carbon Di-Oxide (CO2) emission. The project is formulated with a time cycle of two and a half years, with an estimated cost of Rs. 1554 crore, with a contribution of Rs. 270 crore from BHEL, Rs. 50 crore from NTPC, Rs. 234 crore from IGCAR, Rs. 100 Cr from Department of Science and Technology (DST). Balance amount of Rs. 900 crore will be contributed by Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) as grant.

The project will enable Indian industries to design, manufacture and commission higher efficiency coal fired power plants with indigenously developed technology and manufacturing processes. This will be the first time large power plant equipment will be manufactured with advanced technologies, but without any Technological Collaboration/ Licensing Agreement with foreign companies.

The proposed technology is still in research stage in all countries working on it. It is still not matured and demonstrated anywhere in the world. The consortium partners are working on the project from the basics of material development, characterisation of alloys for high temperature and high pressure applications, basic principles of thermal engineering useful in design from scratch for large equipment like boiler, valves and steam turbine suitable for the proposed operating parameters which are far elevated from the present day established parameters, as required for higher efficiency in energy conversion.

Power generation from coal contributes to about 38% of CO2 pollution in the atmosphere. 20% reduction in CO2 emission at source combined with 20% saving in coal consumption compared to a sub-critical plant and by about 11% compared to a supercritical plant are the primary reasons justifying this project. Use of this technology in all future large power plants will ensure energy security for the country for a longer period, along with a greener environment.

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Cabinet approves introduction of Pension and Post-Retirement Medical Schemes for Employees of Food Corporation of India
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for introduction of Pension and Post-Retirement Medical Schemes as part of superannuation benefits for Employees of Food Corporation of India (FCI) as per guidelines of Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).

The annual financial implication for both schemes combined would be around Rs. 134.4 crore at present level of salaries of the employees.

Salient Features of New Pension Scheme for Employees of FCI

1. Coverage - All employees. (Category I, II, III and IV) of the Corporation on the payroll as on 1.12.2008 or appointed thereafter are covered under the scheme.

2. Eligibility - Minimum service period of 15 years before superannuation except in case of death.

3. Effective date of implementation - 01.12.2008. (as per effective date of wage revised allowances.

4. Employers Contribution - 10% of Basic pay and DA per month in respect of all existing employees as on 01.12.2008 or appointed thereafter.

5. Employees Mandatory Contribution - 2% of basic pay + DA per month. Employees Voluntary Contribution - upto 25% of basic pay + DA per month

6. Benefits - Pension (Annuity) on superannuation and Death Cover.

Salient Features of New Post-Retirement Medical Scheme for employees of FCI

1. Applicability - All employees Category I, II, III & IV employees of the Corporation including retired employees who are members of the current employee funded Medical Health Scheme for Retirees.

2. Eligibility - Minimum service period of 15 years before superannuation except in case of death.

3. Employer contribution - 3.83% of Basic + DA w.e.f. 01.04.2016.

4. Employee Contribution - Last drawn Basic pay and DA at the time of retirement / death during service (for spouse), subject to minimum of Rs.10,000.

5. Coverage - The Scheme would cover the medical expenses of retired member, his/her spouse and dependent disabled child at any hospital in India subject to the overall annual ceiling.

Background:

FCI was established in 1965 under the Food Corporations Act, 1964 for the purpose of procurement, storage, distribution and sale of foodgrains and other foodstuffs. Over the years it has played a pivotal role in achieving the objective of food security for the country. Given its strategic importance, size of operations and other parameters, FCI has been recognised as Schedule A Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).

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Cabinet approves foreign investment in other Financial Services sector
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to amend regulation for foreign investment in the Non- Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs).

The amendment in the existing Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by the Person Resident Outside India) regulations on Non- Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) will enable inflow of foreign investment in Other Financial Services on automatic route provided such services are regulated by any financial sector regulators (RBI, SEBI, PFRDA etc.) / Government Agencies. Foreign investment in Other Financial Servicesn++, which are not regulated by any regulators / Government Agency, can be made on approval route.

Further, minimum capitalisation norms as mandated under FDI policy have been eliminated as most of the regulators have already fixed minimum capitalisation norms. This will induce FDI and spurt economic activities. It will cover whole India and is not limited to any State/Districts.

Background

In the Budget 2016-17 Speech, the Honble Finance Minister had announced that FDI will be allowed beyond the 18 specified NBFC activities in the automatic route in other activities which are regulated by financial sector regulators. The present regulations on Non-Banking Finance Companies stipulates that FDI would be allowed on automatic route for only 18 specified NBFC activities after fulfilling prescribed minimum capitalisation norms mentioned therein. In the proposed regulations, FDI is allowed on automatic route for all Other Financial Services provided such services are regulated by any regulators (RBI, SEBI, PFRDA etc.) / Government Agencies. Further, minimum capitalisation norms as mandated under FDI policy have been eliminated as most of the regulators have already fixed minimum capitalisation norms.

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Cabinet approves transfer of 13111.55 square meters of land belonging to IISWC at Chandigarh to HUDA
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for transfer of land belonging to the Indian Institute of Soil & Water Conservation (IISWC) Research Centre at Chandigarh to the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for construction of 60 meters Peripheral Master Road in Mansa Devi Complex (MDC), Panchkula in the following manner-

a) Transfer of 13,290.30 square meters of land belonging to IISWC Research Centre to HUDA at the collector rate applicable as on date.

b) Transfer of 178.75 square meters of land belonging to HUDA to the IISWC Research Centre, Chandigarh.

c) Mutual exchange of 410 square meters of land between IISWC Research Centre and HUDA.

The transfer of Government land for construction of Peripheral Master Road in Mansa Devi Complex (MDC), Panchkula will usher in growth and development in the region leading to more employment generation. The decision is also part of the Governments plans to boost infrastructure in key sectors for pushing overall economic growth.

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Cabinet approves Agreement between the India and Croatia on Economic Cooperation
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing and ratification of an Agreement between India and Croatia on Economic Cooperation.

India and Croatia had earlier signed an Agreement on trade and economic cooperation in September, 1994 with an aim to promote and develop bilateral trade and economic relations. Signing of the new Agreement between India and Croatia would be a step in continuity as the existing Agreement expired in November, 2009.

Indias bilateral trade with Croatia during 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 were US$ 152.01million, US$ 148.86 million and US$ 205.04 million respectively. The average bilateral trade growth was 17.44% during the last three years.

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Cabinet approves The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendment of Section 64 and section 65 and consequential amendment of section 115 of the Factories Act, 1948 by introducing the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.

The approved amendments will give boost to the manufacturing sector and facilitate ease of doing business with an aim to enhance employment opportunities.

These amendments relate to increase in overtime hours from the existing 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours (Section 64) and existing 75 hours per quarter to 125 hours (Section 65).

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Amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament.

The maternity benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a maternity benefit - i.e. full paid absence from work - to take care for her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The amendments will help 1.8 million (approx.) women workforce in organised sector.

The amendments to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 are as follows:

n++ Increase Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children.

n++ 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a Commissioning mother and Adopting mother.

n++ Facilitate Work from home. n++ Mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.

Justification:

n++ Maternal care to the Child during early childhood - crucial for growth and development of the child.

n++ The 44th, 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommended enhancement of Maternity Benefits to 24 weeks.

n++ Ministry of Women & Child Development proposed to enhance Maternity Benefit to 8 months.

n++ In Tripartite consultations, all stake holders, in general supported the amendment proposal.

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Cabinet approves The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendments to Section 44 and consequential amendments of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 by introducing the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.

The approved amendments will address concerns and apprehensions expressed by different categories of public servants and addresses the difficulties being faced in implementing the provision of section 44 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. The amendments are in line with one of the recommendations of the Standing Committee.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and South Africa for cooperation in the field of Tourism
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and South Africa for cooperation in the field of Tourism. The MoU was signed on 08.07.2016.

The main objectives of the MoU are:

a) to expand bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector;

b) to exchange information and data related to tourism ;

c) to encourage cooperation between tourism stakeholders, including hotels and tour operators.

d) to establish exchange programmes for cooperation in Human Resource Development;

e) Investing in the tourism and hospitality sector;

f) to encourage visits of Tour Operators/Media/ Opinion Makers and tourists from both countries for promotion of two way tourism;

g) to exchange experiences in the areas of promotion, education, marketing, destination development and management;

h) to participate in travel fairs/exhibitions in each others country; and

i) to promote safe, honourable and sustainable tourism.

Background:

India and South Africa share and enjoy warm and friendly bilateral relations. South Africa is an emerging tourism source markets for India (India received approximately 51922 tourists from South Africa in 2015). India has extended the Electronic Tourist Visa (eTV) facility for the South African Nationals which elicited good response from travel trade of both. The MoU will be instrumental in increasing arrival from this emerging source market.

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Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs calls for Efficient Management of Resources
Aug 10,2016

The Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal emphasized that Government is committed to pursue the economic reforms by implementing GST and Indian Cost Accounts Service (ICoAS) Officers can also play proactive role in its effective implementation. Shri Meghwal also stated that presence of ICoAS officers is required to be there in all the Departments of the Government of India for cost effective execution of Projects, Schemes and Operations. He also suggested for SWOT analysis to be carried-out by ICoAS Officers for growth of the Service. In this regard, the Officers of this service with their vast experience in the field of costing and finance can play distinguished role in all the Ministries, he added.

The Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Meghwal was speaking after inaugurating the 2nd Indian Cost Accounts Service Day.

Later, the Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs also released a book on the overview of Indian Cost Accounts Service.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, Shri Ashok Lavasa, Finance Secretary & Secretary (Expenditure), Government of India emphasized the need to achieve fiscal consolidation by progressively reducing expenditure on subsidies through improved targeting of beneficiaries and making available scarce funds for investment in infrastructure and development programmes. He said India has a developing challenges that are so huge and so demanding and of course there are not enough resources to address them immediately, so the optimum resources is the key. In this regard ICoAS Officers can play important role.

Earlier in her welcome address, Smt Aruna Sethi, Additional Chief Adviser Cost and Head of Service said that in the ongoing global economic scenario, technological innovation, automation, change in business process and competition has changed the process and procedure adopted by the Governments and professionalism is required for prudent decision making.

Indian Cost Accounts Service is the only professional financial service in the complete set up of Government of India.The office has now emerged as a prime professional agency and deals with matters relating to costing and pricing, studies on cost reduction, cost efficiency, industry level studies for determining fair prices, studies on user charges, Cost Benefit Analysis of Projects, Commercial Financial Management Analysis, appraisal of Capital Intensive Projects, Profitability Analysis and application of Modern Management Tools involving Cost and Financial Accounting etc. for the Government Ministries and Departments in respect of the matters referred to them. She further said that ICoAS Officers are assisting different Central Government Ministries/Departments/Organizations in solving complex Price/Cost related issues, in fixing fair prices for various services/products and rendering advice to various Ministries/Departments in cost and financial matters. She also highlighted the proactive role the ICoAS officers can play in implementation of GST.

Chairman CBEC, Shri Najeeb Shah, Addl Secretary, Department of Revenue Shri B.N. Sharma and other experts from CBEC deliberated the nuances of GST during the panel discussion held at the event. Senior Officers from Ministry of Finance and other Departments were also present on the occasion.

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New forward looking Guidelines by Department of Expenditure to improve efficiency with which Public Funded Schemes & Projects are appraised & approved
Aug 10,2016

In order to build a growth friendly eco-system, financial processes and systems are as important as the fund allocations. The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance has issued comprehensive guidelines on 5th August, 2016 for appraisal and approval of public funded schemes and projects.

With the announcement in the Union Budget, 2016-17 of doing away with Plan Non-Plan distinction at the end of the 12th Five Year Plan, it has become necessary to put into place a Plan Non-Plan neutral appraisal and approval system. The Department of Expenditure has accordingly undertaken a comprehensive review of the instructions issued over the last three decades, and replaced them with a simpler framework which will greatly improve the efficiency with which schemes and projects are appraised and approved in our system. The new guidelines will help bring-in the concept of outcome evaluation to improve the delivery of public goods and services to the citizens. This will indeed be a part of the major Expenditure Reforms initiated by the present Government in the last two years.

The revised guidelines prescribe institutional arrangements and formats for appraisal and approval of schemes (program based costs centers for delivery of public goods and services) and projects (which involve one-time expenditure for creation of capital assets yielding financial/economic returns). The implementing Ministries have been delegated powers to appraise schemes and projects costing up to Rs. 500 crore through their Standing Finance Committee and Delegated Investment Boards respectively. Specific time frame for appraisal have been laid down for speedier decision making. The revised guidelines are forward looking and will help the Departments restructure their schemes in a framework that is independent of the Plan Non-Plan distinction.

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25 cities prepare Comprehensive Mobility Plans
Aug 10,2016

25 cities have prepared Comprehensive Mobility Plans (CMP) based on origin and destination flow of traffic , identifying major traffic corridors and feeder corridors, land use etc which in turn would assist in proper urban planning. CMPs are subsequently made part of City Master Plans.

25 cities from 8 States prepared CMPs with central assistance. Ministry of Urban Development assists up to 80% of cost of preparation of CMPs.

In Karnataka, 14 cities that came out with CMPs are: Tumkur, Davanagere, Shimoga, Mangalore, Mysuru, Belgaum, Ballary, Gulbarga, Hubli-Dharwar, Bidar, Chitradurga, Bijapur, Hospet and Raichur.

Five cities with CMPs in Punjab are : Amritsar, Bhatinda, Jalandhar, Pathankot and Patiala.

Other such cities are : Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Kalyan-Dombivili(Maharashtra), Gangtok (Sikkim), Shillong (Meghalaya), Agartala (Tripura) and Jaipur(Rajasthan).

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Puducherry joins n++UDAYn++ scheme; would derive an overall net benefit of Rs 378 crore through n++UDAYn++
Aug 10,2016

The Government of India, and the Union Territory of Puducherry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under the Scheme UDAY - n++Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojanan++ for operational turnaround of the Union Territorys Electricity Department. The signing ceremony was held in the august presence of the Minister of State ( IC) for Power, Coal & New and Renewable Energy & Mines Shri Piyush Goyal.

Puducherry is the first Union Territory to sign MoU under UDAY. Along with the State of Madhya Pradesh which has also signed the MoU today, a total of 16 States/UT have joined the Scheme till date, with the combined DISCOM debt (including CPSU dues) of around Rs.2.51 lac crore that would be restructured as on 30th September, 2015.

The MoU paves way for improving operational efficiency of the Electricity Department of the Union Territory. Through compulsory Distribution Transformer metering, consumer indexing & GIS mapping of losses, upgrade/change transformers, meters etc., smart metering of high-end consumers, feeder audit etc. AT&C losses and transmission losses would be brought down, besides eliminating the gap between cost of supply of power and realisation. The reduction in AT&C losses and transmission losses to 12% and 0.95% respectively is likely to bring additional revenue of around Rs.165 crore during the period of turnaround.

While efforts will be made by the Electricity Department of the Union Territory to improve their operational efficiency, and thereby reduce the cost of supply of power, the Central Government would also provide incentives to the Govt of UT for improving Power infrastructure in the Union Territory and for further lowering the cost of power. The Central schemes such as DDUGJY, IPDS, Power Sector Development Fund or such other schemes of MOP and MNRE are already providing funds for improving Power Infrastructure in the Union Territory and additional/priority funding would be considered under these schemes, if the UT/Electricity Department meets the operational milestones outlined in the scheme. The UT shall also be supported through additional coal at notified prices and in case of availability, through higher capacity utilization, low cost power from NTPC and other CPSUs. Other benefits such as coal swapping, coal rationalization, correction in coal grade slippage, availability of 100% washed coal would help the state to further reduce the cost of Power. The UT would gain around Rs.135 crore due to these coal reforms.

Demand Side interventions in UDAY such as usage of energy-efficient LED bulbs, agricultural pumps, fans & air-conditioners and efficient industrial equipment through PAT (Perform, Achieve, Trade) would help in reducing peak load, flatten load curve and thus help in reducing energy consumption in the Union Territory of Puducherry. The gain is expected to be around Rs.72 crore. Further, with improved efficiency, the Electricity Department would be in a better position to borrow funds at cheaper rates for Power infrastructure development/improvement in the UT.

An overall net benefit of approximately Rs.378 crore would accrue to the UT by opting to participate in UDAY, by way of cheaper funds, reduction in AT&C and transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency, etc. during the period of turnaround.

The ultimate benefit of signing the MOU would go to the people of Puducherry. Reduced levels of transmission and AT&C losses would mean lesser cost per unit of electricity to consumers. Further, an operationally healthy Electricity Department would be in a position to supply more power. The scheme would allow speedy availability of power to around 7948 households in the UT that are still without electricity. Availability of cheaper, round the clock power would boost the economy, promote industries, thereby improving employment opportunities for the people of the Union Territory of Puducherry.

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Schemes for Retired Employees
Aug 10,2016

The pension of Central Civil Government servants appointed on or before 31.12.2003 is governed by the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules 1972 or the corresponding Pension Rules of other Services/Departments such as All India Services and Railways.

The Central Civil Government Servants appointed on or after 01.01.2004 are governed by the Defined Contribution-based Pension Scheme under the National Pension System.

The personnel belonging to the Defence Services continue to be eligible for pension under Defined Benefit Pension Rules applicable to defence personnel.

There is no proposal to introduce any new pension scheme for retired Central Government employees.

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ADB Sells $1.3 Billion in Global Green Bonds to Spur Climate Financing
Aug 10,2016

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has raised $1.3 billion to help finance climate change mitigation and adaptation projects with the issue of dual-tranche 3-year and 10-year green bonds, following its inaugural green bond issue in 2015.

n++Scaling up climate financing is essential for the region to keep its commitments to the Paris Agreement, adopted at last years climate change summit,n++ said ADB Treasurer Pierre Van Peteghem. n++Through robust climate finance to both the public and private sectors, ADB has demonstrated its commitment to a low-carbon future. Todays green bond issue also shows ADBs responsiveness to investors, who increasingly see the importance of green investment and sustainable development for Asia and the Pacific.n++

Last year, ADB announced that it will double its annual climate financing to $6 billion by 2020, up from $3 billion in 2015. ADBs spending on tackling climate change will rise to around 30% of its overall financing by the end of this decade. Out of the $6 billion, $4 billion will be dedicated to mitigation through scaling up support for renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, and building smart cities, while $2 billion will be for adaptation through more resilient infrastructure, climate-smart agriculture, and better preparation for climate-related disasters.

Proceeds of the green bonds will support low-carbon and climate resilient projects funded through ADBs ordinary capital resources and used in its non-concessional operations.

The 3-year bond has an issue size of $800 million, a coupon rate of 1% per annum payable semi-annually and a maturity date of 16 August 2019. It was priced at 99.779% to yield 22.75 basis points over the 0.75% US Treasury notes due July 2019. The 10-year bond has an issue size of $500 million, a coupon rate of 1.75% per annum payable semi-annually and a maturity date of 14 August 2026. It was priced at 99.745% to yield 21.9 basis points over the 1.625% US Treasury notes due May 2026.

The transaction was lead-managed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Agricole CIB, and J.P. Morgan. Co-lead managers were Daiwa Securities, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, SEB, and TD Securities.

The bonds were sold to about 70 investors including AGI, Banque Syz & Co SA, Black Rock, Calsters, Calvert Investments, Compass AM, Mirova, and State Street Global Advisors.

The issues achieved wide primary market distribution. For the 3-year bond, 58% of the bonds were placed in the Americas, 37% in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and 5% in Asia. By investor type, 44% of the bonds went to fund managers, 32% to central banks and official institutions, 16% to banks, and 8% to insurance, pension and other types of investors. For the 10-year bond, 49% of the bonds were placed in Asia, 32% in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and 19% in the Americas. By investor type, 46% of the bonds went to insurance, pension and other types of investors, 30% to fund managers, 13% to banks, and 11% to central banks and official institutions.

ADB plans to raise around $20 billion from the capital markets in 2016.

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