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Central Board of Direct Taxes signs three more Advance Pricing Agreements pertaining to the Engineering Goods and Shipping sectors
Jan 05,2017

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has started the year 2017 by entering into three unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs).

The three APAs signed pertain to the Engineering Goods and Shipping sectors of the economy. The international transactions covered in these agreements include Intra-group Services and Support Services.

With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 120 which includes 7 bilateral APAs and 113 Unilateral APAs. A total of 56 APAs (4 bilateral APAs and 52 unilateral APAs) have been entered into in the current financial year till date. The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed in the near future.

The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the n++Rollbackn++ provisions were introduced in 2014. The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and setting the prices of international transactions in advance. Since its inception, the APA scheme has evinced a lot of interest from taxpayers and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) being filed in just four years.

The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Governments resolve of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime. The Indian APA programme has been appreciated nationally and internationally for being able to address complex transfer pricing issues in a fair and transparent manner. The approach and functioning of the officers in the APA teams have been appreciated and acknowledged by the industry in India and abroad.

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Government issues notification of Indian Skill Development Service
Jan 04,2017

The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has issued the notification of setting up of Indian Skill Development Services (ISDS). This service has been created for the Training Directorate of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

The purpose of instituting a formal service in Group A category was initiated almost two years back when the Ministry was formed and the union cabinet approved its creation on October 7, 2015. With notification of this service the skill ecosystem is expected to get strengthened and modernised in line with the current scientific and industrial development in the country.

ISDS will be a Group A service where induction will take place through Indian Engineering Service Examination conducted by UPSC. It is an attempt to attract young and talented administrators for Skill Development. The knowledge acquired by the engineers recruited will give new impetus to the initiative of the government to the skill development and also efficient and effective implementation of the schemes. In years to come the ministry will be able to create a workforce of trained skill administrators who will enable us to achieve the goal of increased skilled youths. Administered training is paramount to face big challenge of skilling Indians. Under the leadership of Prime Minister skill development has taken a priority with a hope that Skill India mission will supply huge human resource not only in India but also Internationally. This is a step forward to meet the target of skilling 500 million people by 2022.

The Training Directorate is involved in implementation of various schemes like Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS) covering 126 trades, Apprenticeship Training Scheme (ATS) covering 259 trades and Skill Development Initiative Scheme (SDIS) for the Modular Employable Skill (MES) covering 578 modules. The Training Directorate also conducts examinations and awards certificates under National Council of Vocational Training (NCVT), they also organise advance skill training supervisory training staff training through its various field institutes spread across country.

The Indian Skill Development Service (ISDS) will have 263 all India posts. The cadre shall comprise of 3 posts at Senior Administrative Grade, 28 posts at Junior Administrative Grade, 120 posts at Senior Time Scale and 112 posts at Junior Time Scale. The Academy for training of the cadre will be National Institute of Skill Development.

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Helpline for Handloom Weavers BunkarMitra starts functioning
Jan 04,2017

n++BunkarMitran++, the Government of Indias Helpline for Handloom Weavers, went live today. The helpline was launched by the Union Textiles Minister Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani.

Interacting with an official of the call centrehousing the helpline agents, the Minister said that the helpline is a great mix of technology, youth and tradition. She told the officials of the Ministry to monitor issues on which maximum complaints are received, so that corrective actions can be taken accordingly.

The helpline provides a single point of contact to handloom weavers across the country for addressing queries and providing guidance. This helpline can be accessed by dialing the toll free number 1800-208-9988. Weavers can call from anywhere in India, from any number. The service is available from 10.00 A.M to 06.00 P.M, on all 7 days of the week, in seven languages: Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Kannada and Assamese.

The following services are available through this helpline:

n++Assistance on technical issues.

n++Guidance for:

n++Raw material supply.

n++Availing credit facility.

n++Quality control.

n++Access to marketing linkages.

n++Information about various schemes and procedure to avail benefits.

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States with over 90% of Total DISCOM Debts covered under UDAY: Shri Piyush Goyal
Jan 04,2017

Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal launched the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) Web Portal & Mobile App. It would track and monitor the progress of DISCOMs on operational and financial parameters under the UDAY scheme. An important part of the Digital India Initiative, the portal/app will ensure transparency, enhance accountability of various stakeholders and facilitate view of near real time progress, enabling consumers to demand better services for themselves.

Giving details of the UDAY portal/app, Shri Goyal informed that it would provide details of latest progress made by various DISCOMs, as recent as last month/quarter. The DISCOM-level data will be integrated into State level and National level, which will be processed and used for advanced performance analysis. The National, State and DISCOM level dashboards will thus provide a snapshot of latest financial and operational performance at various levels in public domain.

The Minister said that the portal/app is a logical follow-up to the MoUs signed by the States under UDAY, not only to enable monitoring of the progress made by the DISCOMs at Central Ministry level, but also for making future schemes/plans for improving DISCOMs performance. This will be the first time when the performance metrics of various DISCOMs will be available in a single platform, which shall promote healthy competition amongst the DISCOMs/States. This will bring about an ethos of Competitive Federalism among different States to achieve best progress in public schemes, especially in the power sector, Shri Goyal added.

Praising the advent of transparency and accountability with the launch of web portals and mobile apps, Shri Goyal said that the implementation of public programmes and schemes has become a Citizen Process, as these portals and apps have placed all the information in public domain for scrutiny. Suppliers can also develop their capabilities by understanding the focus area of the Utilities, resulting in improved performance by them, he added.

Giving examples of achievements in UDAY among States, the minister quoted the Rajasthan Discom where, in less than two years, annual losses of around Rs. 15000 crores will soon be converted into profits. He also talked about Haryanas progress, where as an example, all 173 villages in Panchkula have received 24x7 Power Supply. Shri Goyal encouraged officials of the Ministry to think innovatively and come out with performance based rewards for best performing States under UDAY. He also talked about starting a Citizen Poll to receive feedback on the ground level achievements of different schemes, which would help recalibrating their implementation process.

During the event, the States of Telangana and Assam joined UDAY by signing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Ministry of Power for operational and financial turnaround of their respective DISCOMs, making the tally in the UDAY Club to 20. States with over 90% of total DISCOM debts covered under UDAY, Shri Goyal added.

While the Government of Telangana would take over Rs.8923 crores of the total Rs.11897 crores of DISCOM debt, the Government of Assam would take over Rs.928 crores out of total Rs.1510 crores DISCOM Debt (being 75% of their respective DISCOM debt outstanding as on 30 September 2015, as envisaged in the scheme) and the balance debt would be re-priced or issued as State guaranteed DISCOM bonds. This would amount to annual saving in the interest cost of Rs. 387 crores to Telangana and Rs. 37 crores to Assam respectively. The interest cost on future borrowings is also expected to reduce, providing a saving of around Rs.30-40 crores to these States.

In case of Telangana, the reduction in AT&C losses and transmission losses to 9.95% and 3% respectively is likely to bring additional revenue of around Rs.1476 crores, during the period of turnaround, whereas additional revenue of Rs. 699 crores would accrue to Assam on reduction of AT&C losses and transmission losses to 15% and 3.4% respectively.

The gains to these states through Demand Side interventions in UDAY such as usage of energy-efficient domestic as well as industrial/commercial equipment is expected to be around Rs. 1200 crores & Rs. 260 crores respectively. The States of Telangana and Assam are also expected to benefit around Rs. 2250 crores and Rs. 520 crores respectively on account of the support being extended by the Centre through various coal reform measures.

An overall net benefit of approximately Rs. 6116 crores and Rs. 1663 crores would accrue to these States viz. Telangana and Assam respectively, under UDAY, by way of savings in interest cost, reduction in AT&C and transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency, coal reforms etc. during the period of turnaround.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Kenya on bilateral cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors
Jan 04,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Kenya on bilateral cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors.

The MoU covers various activities in these fields which include agricultural research, animal husbandry and dairy, livestock and fisheries horticulture, natural resource management, post-harvest management and marketing, soil and conservation, water management, irrigation farming systems development and integrated watershed development integrated pest management, agricultural plant, machinery and implements, sanitary and phytosanitary issues.

The MoU provides for constitution of a Joint Working Group comprising of representatives from both countries, the task of which would be to develop detailed cooperation programmes and monitor implementation of the MoU.

The MoU shall enter into force on the day of signing and shall remain valid for a period of five years and shall automatically be renewed for a subsequent period of five years unless either Party notifies the other in writing, six months before the expiry of the validity period of the intention to terminate it.

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Cabinet approves signing of MoU between India and Portugal in the field of agriculture and allied sectors
Jan 04,2017

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing of an Agreement for cooperation in the field of Agriculture and allied sectors between India and Portugal.

The Agreement covers various activities in these fields which include exchange of scientific and technical information, trade in plants and plant products, exchange of information in phytosanitary issues, training programmes, seminars and visits of experts and consultants.

The Agreement provides constitution of a Joint Working Group comprising of representatives from both countries, the task of which would be to monitor the implementation of the present MoU and making concrete proposals for agriculture cooperation and develop guidelines and priorities for future cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors.

The Agreement shall enter into force on the date of its signing and shall remain in force for a period of five years and shall be automatically extended for a subsequent period of five years unless either Party gives written notice through diplomatic channels to the other Party of its intention to terminate the Agreement at least six months before its expiration.

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Cabinet approves Agreement between India and Uruguay regarding Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters
Jan 04,2017

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved signing and ratifying an Agreement between India and Uruguay regarding Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters.

The Agreement will help in the availability of relevant information for the prevention and investigation of Customs offences. The Agreement is also expected to facilitate trade and ensure efficient clearance of goods traded between the countries.

The draft Agreement takes care of Indian Customs concerns and requirements, particularly in the area of exchange of information on the correctness of the Customs value declared, the authenticity of certificates of origin of goods and the description of the goods traded between the two countries.

Background:

Uruguay is an important trading partner of India among members of the MERCOSUR, a trading block in Latin America. India signed a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with the MERCOSUR which came into effect from 1st June, 2009. Trade between India and the Uruguay has been expanding gradually. The Agreement would provide a legal framework for sharing of information and intelligence between the Customs authorities of the two countries and help in the proper application of Customs laws, prevention and investigation of Customs offences and the facilitation of legitimate trade. The draft text of the proposed Agreement has been finalized with the concurrence of the two Customs Administrations.

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Cabinet approves land transfer from Delhi Development Authority for Second Diplomatic Enclave
Jan 04,2017

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the transfer of 34.87 Ha land in Sector 24, Dwarka, New Delhi from Delhi Development Authority to Land and Development Office (L&DO) for the purpose of the Second Diplomatic Enclave.

Currently, there is one Diplomatic Enclave in Chanakyapuri, where land has been allotted to the Embassies by L&DO. MEA has expressed need for more land for allotment to Diplomatic Missions/ International Organizations for building their Chanceries/ Embassies in Delhi. For this DDA has earmarked 34.87 Ha land in Sector 24, Dwarka, which will be transferred to L&DO. This will provide land for Second Diplomatic Enclave in the capital.

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Cabinet approves transfer of 34.87 Ha land in Sector 24, Dwarka, New Delhi from Delhi Development Authority to L&DO
Jan 04,2017

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the transfer of 34.87 Ha land in Sector 24, Dwarka, New Delhi from Delhi Development Authority to Land and Development Office (L&DO) for the purpose of the Second Diplomatic Enclave.

Currently, there is one Diplomatic Enclave in Chanakyapuri, where land has been allotted to the Embassies by L&DO. MEA has expressed need for more land for allotment to Diplomatic Missions/ International Organizations for building their Chanceries/ Embassies in Delhi. For this DDA has earmarked 34.87 Ha land in Sector 24, Dwarka, which will be transferred to L&DO. This will provide land for Second Diplomatic Enclave in the capital.

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Nikkei India Services PMI unhanged in December 2016
Jan 04,2017

Business activity in the Indian service sector fell for the second consecutive month in December 2016, reflecting a steeper reduction in incoming new work. Backlogs continued to rise, while employment decreased fractionally. Panel members widely blamed the deterioration in economic conditions on the rupee demonetization, with concerns towards the speed of the recovery weighing heavily on sentiment. Meanwhile, input costs rose further, but efforts to boost demand led some firms to lower their charges.

The seasonally adjusted headline Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index registered 46.8 in December, little-changed from Novembers reading of 46.7 and indicating a further solid contraction in output. Moreover, the downturn was broad-based by sub-sector, with Hotels & Restaurants firms the worst performers.

With factory production also falling, activity across the private sector economy as a whole dipped to the greatest extent in over three years. This was highlighted by the seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index recording 47.6 in December, from 49.1 in November.

Data implied that services activity fell in response to a solid and accelerated drop in new business during December. The rate of contraction in new work quickened to the fastest since September 2013, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that the decline reflected shortages of money in the country. Meanwhile, order books at manufacturers decreased for the first time in 2016, albeit marginally.

Cash flow issues reportedly caused another increase in outstanding business among private sector firms, with backlogs rising for the seventh straight month (although only moderately).

In spite of higher backlogs, service providers made cutbacks to staffing levels during December. That said, the drop in employment was only fractional, thereby continuing a trend of broadly stagnant workforces that was evident throughout 2016. A similar trend of fractional job losses was seen among goods producers.

Input prices faced by service providers in India continued to rise in December. However, with less than 1% of firms indicating higher cost burdens and the remaining respondents signalling no change since November, the rate of cost inflation was only marginal and negligible in the context of historical data. Purchase price inflation at manufacturers picked up, but remained below the series long-run average.

Services charges were lowered for the third successive month amid intense competitive pressures and attempts to stimulate demand. Nevertheless, the rate of discounting was marginal overall. Conversely, goods producers raised their output prices for the tenth straight month, but the rate of inflation eased to the weakest since August.

Indian service providers signalled optimism regarding the 12-month outlook for activity during December, although the level of positive sentiment dipped to the third-lowest in over 11 years of data collection. Evidence highlighted expectations of a rebound in demand in the coming 12 months, but worries towards the speed of the recovery following the rupee demonetization hampered confidence.

Commenting on the Indian Services PMI survey data, Pollyanna De Lima, economist at IHS Markit, and author of the report, said The Indian service economy ended 2016 on a grim note, with the average PMI activity index reading for the Oct-Dec quarter the lowest since early-2014. Combined with the manufacturing PMI, data suggest that Indian GDP is set to grow in Q3 FY16/17, but a slowdown is likely. Of concern, business confidence among service providers plunged to one of the lowest in the series 11-year history, suggesting that an imminent rebound from the rupee-demonetization downturn is unlikely.

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LPG customers to now get a discount for on-line payment of LPG refill
Jan 03,2017

Oil Marketing Companies, viz IndianOil, BPCL & HPCL are now offering an upfront discount of Rs 5/- on every LPG refill to all LPG customers who will book and pay for their LPG cylinders online. Customers can make payment through existing online modes i.e net banking, credit & debit cards at the time of web-booking their refills.

Customers will get the discounted amount displayed on their screens - i.e. net amount i.e refill RSP minus (-) incentive amount of Rs.5/- which they need to pay for their refill transactions. The net discounted amount will also be shown on the cash memo accompanying the home-delivery of the LPG cylinder.

Under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, it the endeavour of all Oil Marketing Companies aim to encourage consumers to increasingly shift to such payment modes through digital platforms to achieve the objective of no-cash or less-cash based transactions. The incentive will encourage more and more LPG consumers to go for cashless mode transactions.

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Pan-India expansion of Maternity Benefit Programme (MBP) to benefit pregnant and lactating mothers across the country
Jan 03,2017

Government of India is committed to ensure that every woman attains optimal nutritional status especially from the most vulnerable communities as nutrition constitutes the foundation for human development. This is all the more important during the period of pregnancy and lactation coupled with wage loss. A womans nutritional status has important implications for her health as well as the health and development of her children.

An under-nourished mother almost inevitably gives birth to a low birth weight baby. When poor nutrition starts in-utero, it extends throughout the life cycle, particularly in women. Owing to economic and social distress many women continue to work to earn a living for their family right upto the last days of their pregnancy. Furthermore, they resume working soon after childbirth, even through their bodies might not permit it, thus preventing their bodies from fully recovering on one hand, and also impending their ability to exclusively breastfeed their young infant in the first six months.

To address the above issues, Ministry of Women and Child Development, in accordance with the provisions of Section 4(b) of National Food Security Act, formulated a scheme for pregnant and lactating mothers called Maternity Benefit Programme Gô a conditional cash transfer scheme. The Scheme provides cash incentives to pregnant and lactating women (i) for the wage loss so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery; (ii) to improve her health and nutrition during the period of pregnancy and lactation; and (iii) to breastfeed the child during the first six months of the birth, which is very vital for the development of the child.

Under the scheme, all Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM), excluding the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers who are in regular employment with the Central Government or State Governments or Public Sector Undertakings or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being are eligible. The cashincentive of Rs.6,000/- is payable in three instalments for the first two live births at the following stages:

Cash Transfer

Conditions

Amount
(in Rs.)

First instalment

(in first trimester of pregnancy)n++

-+n++n++ Early Registration of Pregnancy, preferably within first three months.
-+n++n++ Received one antenatal check-up.

3,000/-

Second instalment

-+n++n++ At the time of institutional delivery.

1500/-

Third instalment
(3 months after delivery)

-+n++n++ Child birth is registered.
-+n++n++ Child has received BCG vaccination.
-+n++n++ Child has received OPV and DPT-1 & 2.

1,500/-

The cash transfer would be Aadhaar linked through the individual bank/post office account etc. in DBT mode.

Honble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on 31.12.2016 has announced pan-India expansion of MBP in all the districts with effect from 01.01.2017. It is expected that annually about 51.70 lakh beneficiaries would avail of the benefit.

Expansion of MBP will have huge impact on the PW&LM as it will not only provide them compensation for the wage loss but will also provide them adequate nutrition and rest before and after delivery. Mothers will have sufficient time to breastfeed the child during first six months of the birth. Resultantly, it is expected that it will reduce mother mortality rate, IMR, under-nutrition and its adverse effects.

It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and the cost sharing between Centre and States is 60:40 for all the States and UTs (with legislature), 90:10 for NER and Himalayan States and 100% GoI share for UTs without legislatures. The total cost of the proposal for the balance period of 2016-17 and from 2017-18 to 2019-20 including Centre and State share is expected to be Rs. 12,661.00 crore. Out of this, Government of Indias share for the balance period of 2016-17 (Rs. 584 crore) and from 2017-18 to 2019-20 (Rs. 7348 crore) is expected to be Rs. 7932 crore.

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Sugar production touch 80.9 lakh tonnes in Oct-Sept SS2017
Jan 03,2017

The sugar production for 462 sugar mills in the country has touched 80.90 lakh tonnes of sugar, which is 0.4% higher as compared to last seasons production for the corresponding period. In 2015-16 SS, there were 481 sugar mills in operation on 31 December 2015 and they had produced 80.56 lakh tonnes of sugar till that date.

In Maharashtra, 147 sugar mills commenced crushing operations. As was generally expected, 25 of the mills have stopped crushing. These mills are mostly in the drought affected areas of Marathwada, Sholapur and Ahmednagar. As on 31 December 2016, 25.25 lakh tonnes of sugar have been produced in the State as against 33.70 lakh tonnes produced during the corresponding period last season when 169 mills were running. It is important to note that the mills in Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara and Pune, which were not as adversely impacted by drought, are crushing at almost similar levels like last year. The mills in these four regions generally contribute for almost 55-60% of Maharashtras production.

Barring some sugar mills in Marathwada and Solapur region where sugar recovery during the current season was low as compared to last season, sugar recovery % till 31 December 2016 was 10.52% as against 10.43% as on same date last year.

In Uttar Pradesh, 116 sugar mills are in operation and they have crushed 278 lakh tonnes of sugarcane and produced 27.40 lakh tonnes as on 31 December 2016, with an average recovery of 9.86%. Last year i.e. in 2015-16 SS, 113 sugar mills were in operation on 31 December 2015 and they crushed around 178 lakh tonnes of cane to produce 17.97 lakh tonnes of sugar at an average recovery of 10%. Sugar production this year in UP is higher by 52% as compared to last year same time.

56 sugar mills in Karnataka are in operation on 31 December 2016, who have produced 15.60 lakh tonnes of sugar, as compared to 15.94 lakh tonnes produced by 63 sugar mills in 2015-16 SS on 31 December 2015. As was expected, 5 mills have shut down operations in Karnataka on 31 December 2016. As compared to 40.5 lakh tonnes produced by Karnataka in last season, ISMA expects 31 lakh tonnes of sugar to be produced in the State this year.

In Gujarat, 20 sugar mills are operating during 2016-17 SS and they have produced 3.50 lakh tonnes of sugar till 31 December 2016. In 2015-16 SS, 19 sugar mills were in operation on 31 December 2015, who had produced 4.61 lakh tonnes of sugar till that date.

In Tamil Nadu, 25 sugar mills are in operation as on 31 December 2016 which has produced 1.25 lakh tonnes as compared to 1.01 lakh tonnes of sugar production by 25 mills as on 31 December 2015.

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, 24 sugar mills have produced 1.80 lakh tonnes of sugar till 31 December 2016 and this is 0.18 lakh tonnes less than the sugar produced by 25 mills in 2015-16 SS till 31 December 2015.

11 mills in Bihar have produced 1.50 lakh tonnes of sugar till 31 December 2016 as against 1.37 lakh tonnes produced by 11 mills in 2015-16 season as on 31 December 2015. Similarly, 14 mills in Haryana, 16 in Punjab, 17 mills in Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh and 8 mills in Uttarakhand have together produced 4.45 lakh tonnes, as compared to 3.85 lakh tonnes produced on the corresponding date last year.

As per information gathered from the main sugar belt of Maharashtra viz. Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara, most of the sugar mills in these regions will continue their operations till end of March 2017, whereas mills in Pune and Ahmednagar are likely to operate till later part of February 2017. Average sugar recovery achieved by the mills of Maharashtra so far is more or less same as that of last year till December 2016. Early closures are mainly because of lower sugarcane production in some parts of Maharashtra, which have been accounted for while estimating sugar production from the State in the current year.

Ex-mill sugar prices which dropped by Rs. 2 to 3 per kilo since second week of November, 2016 have started improving and are now at the levels seen a couple of months back. These prices are just enough to cover the costs of production.

With lower offtake and sugar consumption in 2016-17, the sugar stocks at the end of the current season may be more, than being estimated earlier, by 5-10 lakh tonnes. However, one needs to do more analysis to arrive at the figure of estimated consumption.

ISMA will carry out its second advance estimate for sugar production in 2016-17, in later part of January, 2017, which will be based on satellite images. Trend of yields and recoveries up to January, 2017 would be considered. ISMA will review the same in its Committee Meeting on 25 January, 2017, and release its second advance estimate for 2016-17 sugar production on that date.

With higher cane price announced by State Governments like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, low sugar recovery being achieved in the States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh etc. and lower capacity utilization in the drought affected States like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana etc. the all India average cost of production of sugar during the current 2016-17 SS, will roughly be higher at around Rs. 35 to 36 per kilo (Rs. 2 per kilo higher than the previous years cost of production).

Sugar mills should be allowed to recover at least their costs during the current season, otherwise, they would not be in a position to make payments to farmers on time and would also not be in a position to repay the loans taken from Government of India including under SEFASU and soft loans, which are due to be repaid this year.

The first 3 months of the current season i.e. October-December 2016, has seen a big fall in sugar offtake. With weddings and family celebrations being at low key, and consumption of sugar sweetened products like biscuits, chocolates, beverages, ice creams etc. being lower due to lower availability of currency, there has been a demand destruction of almost 5 lakh tonnes of sugar. The offtake in October-December 2017 has therefore been significantly lower than last year.

Therefore, the sugar consumption in 2016-17 SS, earlier estimated to grow at 2% over last year, to 255 lakh tonnes, will be much lower. The offtake may thus be lower to even last years consumption of 248 lakh tonnes.

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RBI introduces Facility for Citizens and NRIs who were Abroad for Exchange of SBNs
Jan 03,2017

The Reserve Bank of India has introduced a facility of exchange of specified bank notes (SBNs) to give an opportunity to Indian citizens and non resident Indian (NRI) citizens who were abroad during November 9, 2016 to December 30, 2016.

Resident Indian citizens who were abroad during November 9, 2016 to December 30, 2016 can avail this facility upto March 31, 2017 and Non Resident Indian citizens who were abroad during November 9, 2016 to December 30, 2016 can avail this facility upto June 30, 2017.

While there is no monetary limit for exchange for the eligible Resident Indians, the limit for NRIs will be as per the relevant FEMA Regulations. They can avail this facility in their individual capacity once during the period on submission of ID documents, such as, Aadhaar number, Permanent Account Number (PAN) etc, and on submission of documentary evidence showing they were abroad during the period and, that they have not availed the exchange facility earlier, Customs certificate about import of SBNs by NRIs etc. No third party tender will be accepted under the facility.

On fulfilment of the terms and conditions and the genuineness of the notes tendered, admissible amount will be credited to the tenderers KYC compliant bank account.

The facility will remain open for residents from January 2, 2017 to March 31, 2017 and for NRIs from January 2, 2017 to June 30, 2017.

This facility will be available through Reserve Bank offices at Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Nagpur.

Indian citizens resident in Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh cannot avail this facility.

Any person, aggrieved by the decision of the Reserve Bank may prefer an appeal to the Central Board of the Reserve Bank within fourteen days of the communication of such refusal to him.

The facility has been introduced in terms of Section 4 (1) of the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Ordinance, 2016 of the Government of India dated December 30, 2016 read with Notification S.O. 4251(E) dated December 30, 2016.

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RBI issues additional steps for Allocation of cash for rural areas
Jan 03,2017

On observing that bank notes, being supplied to rural areas, at present, are not commensurate with the requirements of rural population, and with a view to ensure that at least 40% bank notes are supplied to rural areas and to mitigate the issue in a more enduring manner, the banks maintaining currency chests are advised to take the following additional steps:

Distribution Channels and Proportion of currency flow

i. Banks should advise their currency chests to step up issuance of fresh notes to rural branches of RRBs, DCCBs and commercial banks, White Label ATMs in rural areas and post offices in rural areas on priority basis which are considered main rural channels of distribution.

ii. As the rural requirements could vary from district to district depending on variations in the rural and urban mix of each district in terms of relative shares in CASA deposits and number of deposit accounts, to facilitate a need based approach in this regard a certain percentage of allocation has been assigned to each district as per Annex 1 depending on the rural and urban mix.

iii. Accordingly, all Chests operating in a district must issue bank notes to the above mentioned distribution channels in the indicated proportion. The indicated proportion may be maintained on weekly average basis at each chest level as it may be difficult to stick to the proportion on daily basis.

Reporting for monitoring

iv. Currency chests must furnish daily issuances to the above categories to their Link Offices (LO) along with chest slips with a weekly summary as at close of business on every Friday. LOs should in turn forward it to the RBIs Regional Office concerned (reporting format annexed) to facilitate a review. It may be similar to the chest balances reporting mechanism. LOs may monitor the daily reports to avoid lumpiness in issuances and to ensure that issuances are evenly.

Denominational mix

v. Chests should issue bank notes in denominations of ₹ 500 and below. In particular ATMs, including WLAOs, may be issued ₹ 500s and ₹ 100s and among ATMs category, Off-site ATMs should be allocated higher proportion of cash as against on site ATMs as they are more important in last mile currency connectivity.

vi. Existing stock of other denominations notes below ₹ 100 should be issued liberally.

vii. Banks should indent for coins, obtain supply from Issue Departments of Reserve Bank of India, if required, and ensure supply to public on priority basis.

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