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Government to sign a pact with WHO in the field of traditional medicines
May 04,2016

The Union Cabinet in its meeting held on 17th Februray 2016 approved the signing of Agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO). The Agreement, however, is yet to be signed. As per Cabinet approval, as a first step in the long term collaboration, India would assign to WHO activities for development of the following WHO Technical documents/publications which will help in better international acceptability of Indian Systems of Medicines:

n++ Benchmarks for training in Yoga

n++ Benchmarks for practice in Ayurveda

n++ Benchmarks for practice in Unani Medicine

n++ Benchmarks for practice in Panchkarma

For enhancing the acceptability and branding of AYUSH systems internationally, in the recent past Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for undertaking collaborative research have been signed with Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, UK and National Centre for Natural Product Research (NCNPR) University of Mississippi, USA and Letter of Intent (LoI) with University of Strasbourg, France. The long term collaboration with WHO would help in improving international acceptability and branding of AYUSH systems.

The areas of cooperation would help to facilitate awareness regarding AYUSH systems of medicine by means of education, training, skill development, workshops, publications and exchange programmes between AYUSH and WHO for capacity building to facilitate advocacy and dissemination of information on AYUSH systems amongst the member states and collaborations with third parties for creating synergies in implementation of WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023.

The Ministry of AYUSH has also launched a scheme for Voluntary Certification of Yoga Professionals on 22nd June, 2015 in collaboration with Quality Council of India (QCI). The scheme aims at promoting authentic Yoga as a preventive and health promoting drugless therapy and involves certifying the competence level of the professionals to help their deployment within and outside the country. Besides signing of Country to Country MoUs for cooperation in the field of Traditional Medicine with Mongolia, Turkmenistan and China, MoUs for setting up of AYUSH Academic Chairs have been signed with Universities in Russia, Indonesia, Slovenia, Thailand and Armenia. AYUSH Information Cells have been set up to disseminate authentic information about AYUSH Systems of Medicine at Dubai, Croatia, Kyrgyzstan, Israel, Argentina, Serbia and Sweden.

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Increase in Production of Rice, Wheat and Pulses During XI Plan Under NFSM
May 04,2016

Government of India has launched National Food Security Mission (NFSM) in 2007-08 to increase production of rice, wheat and pulses. The details ofn++n++ increase in production of rice, wheat and pulses during XI Plan are as under:n++

Name of Crop

Productionn++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++ ( million tonnes)

Increase
(Million tonnes)

2006-07

2011-12Rice93.36105.3011.94Wheat75.8194.8819.07Pulses14.2017.092.89

n++Mid-term and final evaluation of National Food Security Mission (NFSM) for 11th Five Year Plan has been conducted by an independent agency and reports have been received. n++ The outcome of report reveals that Mission has helped in widening the food basket of the country with sizeable contributions coming from NFSM districts.n++ The various interventions of the mission have been instrumental in bringing about significant yield gain to the farmers resulting into increase in their income level. The various suggestions/ recommendations like use of seed of newer varieties, farm machinery and implements and water saving devices etc. for increasing productivity of crops are being promoted.

n++NFSM is being implemented in 29 states of country. The n++details of districts and states covered is given as under:-n++

Name of componentNo. of StatesNo. of DistrictsNFSM-Rice25194NFSM-Wheat11126NFSM-Pulses29638NFSM-Coarse Cereals28265

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World Bank Raises 2016 Oil Price Forecast, Revises Down Agriculture Price Projection
May 04,2016

Amid improving market sentiment and a weakening dollar, the World Bank is raising its 2016 forecast for crude oil prices to $41 per barrel from $37 per barrel in its latest Commodity Markets Outlook, as an oversupply in markets is expected to recede.

The crude oil market rebounded from a low of $25 per barrel in mid-January to $40 per barrel in April following production disruptions in Iraq and Nigeria and a decline in non-Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries production, mainly U.S. shale. A proposed production freeze by major producers failed to materialize at a meeting in mid-April.

n++We expect slightly higher prices for energy commodities over the course of the year as markets rebalance after a period of oversupply,n++ said John Baffes, Senior Economist and lead author of the Commodities Markets Outlook. n++Still, energy prices could fall further if OPEC increases production significantly and non-OPEC production does not fall as fast as expected.n++

All main commodity indexes tracked by the World Bank are expected to decline in 2016 from the year before due to persistently elevated supplies, and in the case of industrial commodities - which include energy, metals, and agricultural raw materials -- weak growth prospects in emerging market and developing economies.

Energy prices, including oil, natural gas and coal, are due to fall 19.3 percent in 2016 from the previous year, a more gradual drop than the 24.7 percent slide forecast in January. Non-energy commodities, such as metals and minerals, agriculture, and fertilizers, are due to decline 5.1 percent this year, a downward revision from the 3.7 percent drop forecast in January.

Metals prices are projected to fall 8.2 percent in the coming year, less than the 10.2 percent drop forecast in January, reflecting expectations of stronger demand growth by China. Agriculture prices are forecast to fall more than projected in January in what is expected to be another favorable harvest year for most grain and oilseed commodities. Agricultural commodities prices are also pulled down by lower energy costs.

Low commodity prices are undermining growth prospects for many resource-rich countries that experienced a surge in exploration, investment, and production during the commodities boom of the 2000s. Countries that have borrowed and invested heavily in anticipation of faster growth may struggle to service their debt and sustain investment when growth disappoints as a result of lower commodity prices, a special feature of the Commodity Markets Outlook says.

With oil and metals prices today 50 percent to 70 percent lower than their early 2011 peaks, natural resource development projects have already been put on hold or delayed in several emerging and developing countries.

n++These project delays can adversely affect countries that can ill-afford such setbacks,n++ said Ayhan Kose, Director of the World Banks Development Prospects Group. n++Greater transparency, improved government efficiency and improvements in macroeconomic frameworks could soften such disruptions. Countries may prefer to wait for prices to start rising again before launching new natural resource development initiatives.n++

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Asia Growth Remains Strong, Expected to Ease Only Modestly-IMF Survey
May 03,2016

Growth in Asia and the Pacific is expected to remain strong at 5.3 percent this year and next, accounting for almost two-thirds of global growth.

Despite a slight moderation, Asia remains the engine of global growth, according to the IMFs latest Regional Economic Outlook for Asia and the Pacific. While external demand remains sluggish, domestic demand continues to show resilience across most of the region, driven by low unemployment, growth in disposable income, lower commodities prices, and macroeconomic stimulus.

n++Of course, Asia is impacted by the still weak global recovery, and by the ongoing and necessary rebalancing in China,n++ said Changyong Rhee, Director of the Asia and Pacific Department at the IMF. n++But domestic demand has remained remarkably resilient throughout most of the region, supported by rising real incomes, especially in commodity importers, and supportive macroeconomic policies in many countries,n++ he added.

A mixed outlook

The outlook for individual countries within the region varies. China and Japan, the two largest economies in Asia, continue to face challenges. Chinas growth is forecast to moderate from 6.9 percent in 2015 to 6.5 percent this year and 6.2 percent in 2017. Chinas economy continues its rebalancing of shifting away from manufacturing and investment to services and consumption.

While this transition to slower but more sustainable growth is desirable for both China and the global economy, it is causing changes in the manufacturing sector over the medium term, as heavy industries, such as steel and shipbuilding, face major consolidation to reduce excess capacity. Meanwhile, consumer expenditure has become a more important growth engine.

Japans growth is expected to continue at 0.5 percent in 2016, before dropping to -0.1 percent in 2017 as the effect of the widely anticipated consumption tax increase takes hold (although this forecast does not take into account likely growth-supporting policies to offset the increase). An aging population and high public debt remain major drags on Japans long-term growth.

Other economies in the region are set to perform well. India has benefited from lower oil prices and remains the fastest-growing large economy in the world, with GDP expected to increase by 7.5 percent this year and next. In Southeast Asia, Vietnam is leading the fast-growing economies in the region, helped by rapidly growing exports of electronics and garment manufactures. For the Philippines and Malaysia, growth is expected to remain robust, underpinned by resilient domestic demand.

Downside risks loom large

However, the region faces a number of external challenges, including slow growth in advanced economies, a broad slowdown across emerging markets, weak global trade, persistently low commodity prices, and increasingly volatile global financial markets. These risks compound domestic vulnerabilities, such as high debt incurred in recent years. In the short term, Chinas transition to a new growth model will disrupt its regional partners, especially those heavily exposed to the regions biggest economy.

Geopolitical tensions and domestic policy uncertainty add risks of potential trade disruptions or lower domestic demand. Natural disasters, too, can reverse economic gains, particularly in lower-income countries and small states (including many Pacific islands). Small states also face the challenge of reduced financial services by global banks (or n++de-riskingn++), which could hold back financial inclusion and growth.

The report also recognizes, however, that the outcome could turn out more positive than forecast. Low commodity prices could be a bigger boost to the regions economies than expected; and regional and multilateral trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, could benefit Asia-Pacific even before they are ratified.

Boosting resilience and growth

While Asian economies have strong buffers and are relatively well positioned to face the challenges ahead, countries will need to adopt economic policies that shore up growth and reduce their exposure to global and regional risks. For instance, since monetary settings are broadly appropriate and inflation remains low, there is room to cut policy rates if needed to boost demand.

On the fiscal front, gradual consolidation is generally desirable to rebuild policy space, but countries can adjust the composition of spending to allow for growth-friendly and much-needed infrastructure and social spending in many economies.

Flexible exchange rates should continue to be the first line of defense against external shocks. At the same time, foreign-exchange intervention and capital-flow measures could be deployed in special circumstances, such as disorderly market conditions. The report also notes that region has extensively used macroprudential policies to deal with financial volatility and risks and should continue to do so as a complement to monetary and fiscal policies.

The report also emphasizes that structural reforms are needed to help bolster potential growth and facilitate rebalancing. The regions past reforms have been highly effective, fostering economic diversification and facilitating Asias entry into global markets.

Winners and losers from Chinas transition

Three background studies in the Regional Economic Outlook report also discuss how commodity exporters and countries in the Asia-Pacific region are affected by income inequality and Chinas rebalancing. Chinas slowdown has an impact on global commodity prices, contributing in particular to a large drop in prices of some metals. At the same time, demand for some foodstuff has increased as a result of rebalancing in China, as changes in consumers tastes have tended to favor higher-quality and higher-protein items, and Chinese tourism continues to grow.

The analysis shows that the impact of Chinas rebalancing will depend on each countrys specific exposure to Chinas economy. Economies that rely on Chinas consumers can be winners, while those more dependent on investment and manufacturing could lose in the near term. Over time, however, the region is likely to benefit as the rebalancing makes Chinas growth model more sustainable.

Tackling increasing inequality

The third study in the report notes that more recently inequality has risen in many countries in Asia, with growth less beneficial to the poor compared with the past. The report concludes that structural reforms, along with fiscal policy, can help reduce inequality and foster more inclusive growth. Countries will need to address inequality of opportunities, in particular the need to broaden access to education, health, and financial services, as well as tackle labor-market duality and informality.

Reforms should avoid costly, across-the-board subsidy schemes while focusing instead on the expansion of social spending through well-targeted interventions and more-progressive tax codes. Recent reforms, such as the elimination of fuel-price controls in most major economies of the region, bode well for the future.

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Minister of Railways launches one E-enabled application- PMIS for proper Monitoring of all Railway projects throughout the country
May 03,2016

Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister of Railways today i.e. 03 May 2016 launched one E-enabled project, namely, Project Management & Information System (PMIS).

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that the Indian Railways has numerous big projects throughout the country which are of crores of rupees and have many complexities. He said that proper monitoring and management of these big projects is the demand of the Indian Railways. He said that to provide best railway network in the country, Indian Railways needs two things; one is money and the second is proper monitoring of projects in which that money is to be spent. He said that it is necessary to keep proper monitoring and management of the existing projects instead of keep on launching new projects. He said that this new PMIS system will contain all the information about the ongoing projects which will help in reducing the completion time of the project. He said that when, on the one side, this new Application will help in fixing the responsibility for delay in projects on the other hand officers would be awarded for timely/early completion of projects.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha said that this E-Enables Application will, certainly, be able to reduce the completion time of the project which will save money and ultimate will benefit Railways economically. He emphasized on the need of digitalization so that there can be proper monitoring of the lifecycle of the projects.

Salient Features of the Application: -

Indian Railways have over 600 major projects of network expansion and modernization costing around Rs 4.5 lakh crores. Now Railways have adopted approach of funding the projects through market borrowing (Institutional funding) to set its network expansion on high growth path. Capex increased from Rs 58 thousand crores in 2014-15 to Rs 93 thousand crores in 2015-16 and we have pegged our capex at Rs 1 lakh 21 thousand crores in 2016-17.In terms of commissioning/ addition of network, commissioning of over 2800 km Broad Gauge lines in 2015-16 against about 2000 Km in 2014-15 and against an average of 1529 Km per year in the preceding five years. In next 4 years, ambitious targets for commissioning of about 14 thousand kilometer BG track has been set.

Project Management and Information System (PMIS) is a step towards that direction. It is a web-enabled IT- Application to create a technology and knowledge platform to manage the entire lifecycle of complex railway projects. It is a step in leveraging resources and to empower railways & stakeholders in transforming the way projects are designed, built and commissioned.

PMIS is being implemented in the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramullah Rail Link (USBRL) Project as it has complexities of fragile geological formations and unstable geomorphology of young Himalayan Mountains, needing extensive investigation and treatment, extremely steep slopes and rugged terrain, coupled with inclement weather - project alignment remains snowbound for entire winter season and high seismicity.

Hence, it was decided to use information and communication technology to create a consolidated knowledge repository which will result in collaborative innovation, transparency and accountability. DroneRecording and CCTV coverage is being implemented as part of monitoring. PMIS comprises of various integrated modules Project Information and Collaboration Management Dashboard, Geology and Geographic Information, Tunnel, Bridge, Embankment, Yard & Station Design, and as-built drawings integrated with 3D models, Drawing& Document Management Workflow, Linear Project Management - Planning, Scheduling and Monitoring, Monitoring using drones equipped with video cameras and fixed CCTV cameras at construction sites,Contract and Claim Management, Budgeting and Cost Monitoring, Incident Management, Asset Management and user Management.

It is planned to roll out PMIS to all the major projects across the country. Benefits expected to be accrued from bringing all the projects on PMIS platform include online monitoring and mid-course correction to ensure faster execution, repository of design, drawings, resources, schedules etc. will help in better estimation and planning, improved designs and standardization of drawings, Optimal utilization of resources and faster decision making.

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Central Pool has 500 lakh tons foodgrains against the buffer norms of 210.40 lakh tons
May 03,2016

The stock of foodgrains in the Central Pool as on 16.4.2016 was 496.12 lakh tons comprising of 282.35 lakh tons of rice (including paddy in terms of rice) and 213.77 lakh tons of wheat as against the foodgrains stocking norms for Central Pool (Buffer Norms) of 210.40 lakh tons comprising of 135.80 lakh tons of rice and 74.60 lakh tons of wheat for the quarter April to June.

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11889 samples of AYUSH medicines tested in 24 states during the last three years
May 03,2016

Under the provisions of Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945, Good Manufacturing Practices and Quality standards given in the respective pharmacopoeias are mandatory for the manufacturing of licensed Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathic medicines. In addition, two voluntary certification schemes for Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani medicines are implemented by Quality Council of India and Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) for grant of AYUSH Standard & AYUSH Premium marks and certification of quality as per WHO guidelines respectively.

Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathic drugs are regulated in accordance with the exclusive provisions for them in the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules thereunder. These drugs have to adhere to such standards and quality control parameters as given in the authoritative books, pharmacopoeias and formularies of Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathic systems, which are different from that prescribed for allopathic medicines. Till date, monographs of quality standards of 600 single drugs & 152 compound formulations of Ayurveda, 298 single drugs & 100 compound formulations of Unani system, 139 single drugs of Siddha and 1016 Homoeopathic drugs have been published in the respective pharmacopoeias.

States have reported incidents of substandard medicine samples and action taken against them. 11889 samples of AYUSH medicines were tested in 24 states during the last three years from 2013-14 to 2015-16, out of which 254 samples failed in quality testing. State Licensing Authorities initiated appropriate action against the samples not complying with the standards and issued show cause notices or suspended/cancelled licenses, recalled the relevant batch of finished goods from the market and initiated prosecution.

Exclusive regulatory provisions for standards and quality of Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathic medicines exist in the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules thereunder. Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 are amended in consultation with the respective Drugs Technical Advisory Board for imposing effective quality control. As of now there is no proposal in the Ministry of AYUSH to introduce new legislation for grading and standardization of AYUSH products.

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NHAI takes steps to remove Hurdles for Faster Execution of Projects
May 03,2016

In order to ensure faster execution of projects, National Highways Authority of India has delegated powers to its Regional Officers for hiring of equipment and laborers up to Rs.10 lacs per project, to demolish structures that fall within the right-of-way of the project. As some of the contracts had no provision for demolition of such structures, there would often be protracted correspondence between the contractors, Project Directors and NHAI headquarters before these could be removed, often leading to delay in execution of projects. With this delegation of power to ROs NHAI will be able to make encumbrance free land available more speedily to the concessionaire/contractors as laid down under the concession agreement or contract. The Regional Officers have also been instructed to ensure measurement of such structures along with videography for record purpose.

NHAI is keen to remove all hurdles for speedy execution of highway projects. This is just one step in a series of delegation of powers at regional level. NHAI has recently delegated powers for construction of foot over bridges under Change of Scope upto Rs. 80 lakh and for 4 and 6 laning projects upto Rs. 1 crore respectively. Similarly, Regional Officers have been delegated the power for maintenance of highways requiring urgent repair works up to Rs. 1 crore. CGM (T) jointly with Regional Officers have also been delegated power for shifting of transmission line/electric line and water pipelines/ other utilities upto Rs 10 crores and Rs 5 crores respectively. All these steps are expected to cut down delays in completion of projects.

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Gartner Says Digital Banking Demands New Technologies - and New Vendors
May 03,2016

Banks face intense pressure to increase efficiencies and reduce costs while delivering next-generation digital services; however, incumbent application vendors have been slow to respond to new requirements, according to a new report from Gartner, Inc.

Gartner predicts that by the end of 2019, 25 percent of retail banks will use startup providers to replace legacy online and mobile banking systems.

New vendors are emerging to meet both customer and bank needs for channel integration and dynamic customer experiences that make banking easier to accomplish on the devices customers want to use. These vendors challenge the traditional often incumbent vendors of traditional online and mobile banking and core banking solutions.

Startups and emerging providers of digital banking platforms offer banks interesting opportunities for innovation, said Stessa Cohen, research director at Gartner. However, CIOs must prepare to manage the challenges of evaluating and selecting new vendors that may not have proven track records in the financial services vertical or may simply be new and untried without an extensive customer base. It can be difficult for CIOs to justify investment in their solutions to their boards and regulatory agencies, but dont use that as a reason to exclude new vendors.

Gartner advises bank CIOs to work with business leaders and other key stakeholders to assess the banks comfort with, and ability to manage, the risks associated with using new providers, especially financial technology startups.

Legacy Vendors Slow to React

One of the most important reasons the market for digital banking solutions has opened up is that most legacy vendors that offer bank channel applications for both consumer and business customers have been slow to react to new customer requirements and demands of digital banking.

Incumbent vendors often do not support open architectures that decouple the presentation of services from the services and transactions themselves and, crucially, enable the bank to bring new and existing processes together to offer innovative digital services.

As a result of both customer and bank IT and business requirements, new vendors have emerged with digital banking capabilities that enable bank business and IT staff to offer apps and applications that support personalized, customer-centric banking experiences, data and behavioral analysis, location and context sensitivity and creation of a partnership ecosystem to create new services leveraging partner data, transactions and processes.

This is why many banks developing digital banking strategies to meet customer demands have sought out new providers to replace their existing online and mobile banking solutions with digital banking platforms, said Ms. Cohen.

Open Unified Digital Banking Platforms

Open unified digital banking solutions make it possible to deliver new digital products and services, and create a multidimensional customer experience across all devices and channels. They enables the bank to develop and deliver services for use by both bank staff and customers, via any device or channel.

Digital banking platforms may include a broad range of capabilities including financial management, payments, marketing, loyalty, analytics and customer communication management.

Gartner views open unified digital banking platforms as an emerging technology, even though some of the solutions on the market, including some from niche banking system vendors, have been available for several years.

The market for digital banking platforms is highly fragmented. Vendors include:

Incumbent bank niche vendors

Mobile or online banking solution vendors

Horizontal digital platform and customer experience vendors

Horizontal portal vendors

System integrators

Emerging digital banking vendors

Startup digital banking vendors

According to Gartner, bank CIOs should be prepared for extensive, potentially disruptive changes in this market, including merger-and-acquisition activity, heightened competition and new entrants from other geographic regions.

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Moodys: Asian high-yield bonds show stronger protection than Latin American paper
May 03,2016

Moodys Investors Service says that emerging-market Asian high-yield bonds provide stronger investor protection in five of six key risk areas when compared with Latin American bonds.

During 2011-15, the average covenant quality score for 137 full-package Asian bonds scored was stronger than that for the 47 full-package Latin American bonds, with better scores in five risk areas: restricted payments, risky investments, leverage, liens subordination and change of control, says Jake Avayou, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Covenant Officer.

Protection against structural subordination risk is the one area of relative weakness, with Asian bonds showing the lowest average score globally of 3.92, and the reason is mainly the significant risk existent in Chinese bonds, says Avayou. But, if we exclude Chinese bonds, the average for Asia is 2.13, stronger than all other regions.

At the same time, both Asian and Latin American bonds provide more protection than those issued in North America, as well as Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), faring better in restricted payments, risky investments and leverage risk, adds Avayou.

Asian bonds show an average covenant quality (CQ) score of 2.55 versus 3.00 for Latin America, with a lower score denoting stronger covenant quality on our scale from 1.0 to 5.0.

Moreover, a higher percentage of Asian bonds fall in our strong and good categories (56%) than bonds from any other region. No Asian bond has ever scored in our weakest category and only 4% fall in our weak category compared to 9% and 17%, respectively, for Latin American bonds.

Adding to the weakness of Latin American bonds -- relative to Asian bonds -- is their significantly higher proportion of high-yield lite bonds, which receive an automatic CQ score of 5.00, the weakest level possible on the Moodys scale.

From 2011 to 2015, 14 of 61 (23%) high-yield bonds issued in Latin America were high-yield lite, while, in Asia, 12 of the 149 (8%) bonds issued fell under this category.

In North America and EMEA, the focus by investors on yield has resulted in a proliferation of weak covenant structures with a considerably higher percentage of deals falling in our weak and weakest categories.

Moodys summarizes its assessment of the six key risk areas as follows:

n++ Restricted payments (RP) protection is strong in Asia except for pre-dating. Asian bonds have fewer RP carve-outs and stronger objective checks on affiliate transactions.

n++ Asian bonds provide stronger protection against risky investments. Asset sales covenants are stronger in Asia, but restricted investments covenants are weaker because Chinese property bonds have large carve-outs for investments in joint ventures.

n++ Leverage scores are stronger in Asian bonds as issuers have less capacity to incur additional debt due to high fixed-charge coverage ratio (FCCR) thresholds under the $1 debt test. But more Latin American bonds require companies to satisfy two leverage ratio tests, rather than one, which is a protective feature for investors.

n++ Asian bonds allow for less potential liens subordination. Permitted liens carve-outs are smaller in Asian bonds, averaging 0.58x adjusted EBITDA versus 1.38x in Latin America. Latin American bonds also contain higher general liens baskets than Asian bonds, and more contain a carve-out for liens securing any debt under the debt covenant if a secured leverage ratio test is satisfied.

n++ At a regional level structural subordination risk is Asias - and specifically Chinas - one weak area. By contrast, in the case of Latin American bonds, a substantial majority of group assets and/or cash flows are at the issuer level, or with subsidiaries that guarantee the bonds, thereby minimizing structural subordination risk.

n++ Change of control protection is much stronger in Asian bonds; nearly all contain all five of the standard events that trigger the change-of-control put option versus 19% of Latin American bonds. However, 85% of Asian bonds contain a double trigger, further requiring a negative ratings action to trigger the put versus 53% of Latin American bonds.

Separately, Moodys also notes that Latin American bonds provide issuers with more flexibility for mergers. The merger covenant, which provides event-risk protection against increasing leverage, in Asian bonds provides investors with more protection than Latin American bonds.

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Shri Piyush Goyal to Launch Portal for Contract Labour Payment Management System Tomorrow
May 03,2016

Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy will launch Contract Labour Payment Management System- a portal of Coal India.

On the occasion, Shri Goyal will also felicitate employees of his Ministries, Public Sector Undertakings and organization/Statutory bodies for their path breaking work towards lighting up India in last two years. CMDs of all the PSUs, Head of the Statutory Body/organizations and senior officials from the Ministries of Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy will be attending the event.

The Contract Labour Payment Management System web portal is created for monitoring compliance of labour payment and other benefits to the contract workers under the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act. 1970. It is an integrated system for all subsidiaries of CIL. The in-house developed application will maintain a comprehensive database of all contract workers engaged by different contractors in CIL and all its subsidiaries. Central Mine Planning and Development Institute (CMPDI) the Ranchi based consultancy subsidiary of Coal India Limited shall maintain the portal.

The system has in-built mechanism to validate minimum wages paid, generate wage slips and employment card etc. of contract workers as required under the Act. The portal provides access to all contract workers, through a Workers Identification Number (WIN), to view their personal details and payment status. Contract workers can also register their grievance through this portal. The system extends facility to all citizens of the country to view a snapshot of contract works in CIL and subsidiaries, number of contract workers engaged, payment status, minimum wages paid etc. The Nodal Officer at different locations in the company will monitor the process and ensure compliance by all contractors. It has been planned to make payment to the contractors only after submitting a system generated declaration of compliance.

This will enhance proper monitoring of legal compliances under Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, especially the payment of correct wages to the contract workers and PF deductions and deposit and other statutory obligations.

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ADB Cofinancing Reaches New High in 2015
May 03,2016

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) leveraged a record $10.74 billion in cofinancing in 2015. When combined with $16.44 billion from its own resources for grants and loans and technical assistance, total assistance reached $27.17 billion, says ADBs Office of Cofinancing Operations (OCO) in its annual report released today at ADBs Annual Meeting in Frankfurt, Germany.

The cofinancing figure includes $6.17 billionn++the highest amount ever raised through robust partnerships with bilateral and multilateral organizations, foundations, corporations, and other sources of concessional fundsn++to support 69 investment projects and 85 technical assistance projects. Despite global fiscal constraints, financing support from these development partners increased by 39% from $4.43 billion in 2014. The remaining amount came from commercial cofinancing.

n++We are grateful for the contributions from our development partners,n++ said OCO Head, Rune Stroem. n++Through joint efforts and deeper collaboration, we experienced an unprecedented level of cofinancing in 2015. Together with our partners, we intend to improve delivery of programs and projects to yield concrete and measurable results for our developing member countries.n++

The record cofinancing amounts were driven by several initiatives, the OCO report said. In 2015, ADB became the first multilateral development bank accredited by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board. An ADB-supported urban water supply and wastewater project in Fiji was among the first of eight funding proposals approved by the GCF.

German development bank KfW approved $1.1 billion in cofinancing for five projects in the energy sector under its $2 billion framework agreement with ADB. The Government of Japan continued its strong support for innovative poverty reduction and social development activities through $108.7 million of new commitments to ADB trust funds. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development agreed to strengthen its institutional partnership with ADB and to improve Nepals community-managed irrigation systems and agricultural practices through $17 million in loan cofinancing.

ADB further enhanced its partnerships by signing cofinancing agreements with the Export-Import Bank of India and State Bank of India. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development extended its memorandum of agreement for a further 5 years to 2020.

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Donors Replenish ADBs Grant Fund for Lower-Income Countries
May 03,2016

Thirty-two donors agreed to the 11th replenishment of the Asian Development Fund (ADF 12) for the 4-year period from 2017 to 2020. This will provide $3.3 billion of new resources to ADF, the Asian Development Banks (ADB) grant window, and $0.5 billion to the Technical Assistance Special Fund. ADF finances grant operations in its poorest and most debt-distressed member countries.

The replenishment amounting to a total of $3.8 billion will be financed from new donor contributions ($2.5 billion*), net income transfers from ADBs ordinary capital resources (OCR) ($1.0 billion), and income from ADF liquidity investments ($0.2 billion). This amount is expected to increase further over the next few months as more donors confirm their pledges.

One important feature of the ADF 12 replenishment is the greater role played by non-traditional donors. The share of donor contributions** from Asian emerging economies increased to 11.7% from 6.9% during the ADF 11 period (2013-2016).

ADB grant support of $3.3 billion to the poorest countries represents an increase of 70% as compared to the previous 4 years. ADF grants together with ADBs concessional loans will deliver more than $16 billion in assistance to poor countries during the same period, an increase of more than 40%. Assistance to small island countries will rise by over 150%.

In addition to the $3.3 billion in new resources for the core activities of the ADF, some donors will together contribute up to $150 million to an ADF facility for regional health security.

n++We highly appreciate our donors support. It will allow us to boost our grant operations in the poorest countries, especially fragile and conflict-affected countries,n++ said ADB President Takehiko Nakao. n++This will help the region achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the COP21 climate change commitments.n++

Other priority areas targeted in ADF 12 include gender equity, food security, private sector development, governance, preparedness and response to climate change and disasters, and regional public goods such as cross-border health issues.

The Asia and Pacific region has made large development strides in recent decades, but around 450 million people still live below the poverty line. The poorest and most debt-distressed countries in the region failed to achieve the 2015 international goals for reducing child and maternal mortality, improving sanitation, and strengthening gender equity, among others. Adding to these challenges is the ambitious new mandate of the SDGs.

This ADF 12 replenishment is the first after the announcement of the merger of the ADF loan operations with ADBs OCR balance sheet effective in 2017. After the merger, ADBs concessional lending will be provided from its OCR, instead of from the ADF. This merger will increase ADBs total financing, including market-based lending, concessional lending, and grants by over 50% by 2020. Financing for poorer countries, including market-based lending to blend countries***, will increase by 70%. At the same time, it will reduce donors burden for the ADF 12 and future replenishments by about half.

* The amount includes intended contributions which will be finalized in coming months. Donor contributions including the financing gap are $3.1 billion.

** Contributions from Asian emerging economies to ADF 12 are from Brunei Darussalam; Peoples Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; India; Indonesia; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Singapore; Taipei, China; and Thailand.

*** Blend countries are eligible to borrow concessional as well as market-based loans.

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Restriction on EPF withdrawal
May 03,2016

As per extant rules governing the withdrawal of Employers contribution from the Employees Provident Fund Scheme, a member can withdraw both the employers share of contribution and his own share under the following circumstances: -

(i) On retirement from service after attaining the age of 55 years.

(ii) On retirement on account of permanent and total incapacity for work due to bodily or mental infirmity.

(iii) On migration from India for permanent settlement abroad.

(iv) On termination of service in the case of mass or individual retrenchment.

(v) On termination of service under a voluntary scheme of retirement.

(vi) On ceasing to be an employee in any establishment.

However, notification No. G.S.R.158(E) dated 10.02.2016 restricting the withdrawal of 3.67 per cent of employers share of contribution till the age of 58 years has since been withdrawn by the Government on 19 April 2016.

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Cabinet Secretary calls for Integrated Action Plan to tackle drought
May 03,2016

The Cabinet Secretary Shri PK Sinha directed all the Ministries dealing with the drought situation to release additional funds to the States as soon as the Finance Bill gets approved, as the onset of the monsoon is approaching soon. After a review meeting with Chief Secretaries of 13 States and Secretaries, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Urban Development and other senior officials, Shri Sinha called for a coordinated and integrated action plan by the Centre as well as the State Governments to tackle the drought situation and take measures for optimally utilizing and storing rainwater and also taking other measures for water conservation. He also asked for an integrated MIS to be in place by the Central Ministries in consultation with the State Governments.

The Cabinet Secretary has asked the Central Ministries to convey to the State Governments the total financial provision for each of the scheme for the whole financial year so that the States can suitably arrange funds from other schemes to mitigate the problem arising out of the drought conditions.

The State Chief Secretaries have raised issues like construction of farm ponds, community ponds, check dams and desilting measures, and demanded early release of funds to take up the water harvesting measures on a priority basis.

Earlier, in a letter to the Chief Secretaries of the States, the Cabinet Secretary has asked them to take full advantage of the upcoming monsoon session to conserve the water that would be received as rainfall during this period. He also reminded them to use the existing water resources most optimally and prudently.

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