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Time to scale up cyber security preparedness to meet emerging threats: Deputy Governor, RBI
Aug 01,2016

Banks need to put in place preventive measures such as appropriate controls framework around the systems, reconciliation of transactions in on real / near real time basis, controls over the message creation and transmission, applying timely security patches to the interfaces, if any, close monitoring of transactions and disabling USB, and Internet access on the connected nodes, said Mr R Gandhi, Deputy Governor RBI at an ASSOCHAM event.

Equally important is the timely detective measures. It is pertinent to prepare ourselves to face such incidents, by having a robust crisis management plan. I am sure the banks are taking earnest steps to comply with the provisions of the circular as soon as possible, said Mr Gandhi while inaugurating 9th annual summit on cyber & network security, organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

n++Information dissemination is a key facilitator in combating the menace of cyber related incidents. While the Reserve Bank obtains information from banks on cyber incidents, including those which did not fructify into loss of money or information, such information is also shared amongst the banks along with suggestions aimed at best practicesn++.

The Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) also has a system to collate such information and share the generic aspects amongst the CISOs of banks. All these, I am sure will help the banks in further enhancing their cyber security related capabilities, said RBI Deputy Governor.

n++The banking sector - similar to other sectors of the Indian economy has always been very responsive to change and has adapted itself very well to meet the challenges which keep emerging frequently. It has also proved that it cannot only adapt well but also quickly so that response times are fast to prevent recurrence of negative incidents. The same fervour, I am sure, will be witnessed in the area of cyber security as well and will leave a mark of confidence in the minds of the customers of banks.n++

This will ensure that banks provide for a safe and secure processing environment when the depositors money is safe and where all other customers can conduct their banking transactions safely and securely, added Deputy Governor RBI.

n++The recent developments in banking as also payment and settlement systems have resulted in enhanced customer comfort and flexibility in terms of timing, location and choice of channels. These, however, also expose the customers as well as banks to risk of cyber-attacks. While the banks have better resilience in terms of risk mitigation structures and ability to absorb the losses and expenses, the customers may not be so privilegedn++, said Deputy Governor RBI.

A relatively small value fraud of a few thousands of rupees may endanger the purchase of basic needs and most customer may be ill-equipped to effectively handle the security features provided with the service. We have also heard of instances, elsewhere in the world, of even as small a value of one penny being robbed off every transaction, misusing the ICT capabilities, which have also resulted in loss of enormous amount of money. While it is recognised that the customer has to protect himself against disclosure of sensitive passwords, PINs etc., they may only have limited ability to distinguish between the genuine customer service calls and fraudulent operators.

Cyber criminals and the attacks they launch on financial sector and its users come with different faces. There are organised criminals who are looking to attack the financial institutions, with a view to siphon away funds, illegally. Then there are those who steal confidential data from financial institutions which may also include customer related information. The latter are more interested in ex-filtration of data, though no loss happens immediately. These stolen data then land in the hands of petty criminals, who defraud the banks directly or by enticing the customers to share more information such as passwords and pins where after actual loss takes place, said Mr. Gandhi.

A variation of these attacks is to masquerade as bank officials and extract information from customers, based on random calls to phone numbers obtained from various sources, or even by blind trials which result in at least a few attempts resulting in success.

There are other cyber criminals who steal money by putting through fraudulent transactions, or changing the particulars, so that they are able to take large sums away and vanish. In such cases, customer may not be directly contacted, but his particulars are taken through malware or other means. Recent incidents of this type have set the alarm bells ringing. I would like to draw your attention to the recent cyber incident reported by one of our banks, which I am sure all of you would have seen, particularly when similar incident at a central bank in the neighbourhood is still fresh in our memory.

n++Yet another vicious cyber-attack, which we really tread is what is categorised as cyber warfare; this is expected to be of organised attacks, sometimes by backing of large terrorist organisations and often with covert state sponsorship, made against enemy country information assetsn++.

The strategy to build preventive and detective defences depends on the specific link in the asset that one is trying to protect. The ecosystem for financial transaction not only includes banks and their customers, but also network service providers, IT infrastructure providers, providers of managed services such as data centres, software developers, providers of security solutions and providers of the end-point device which is used for accessing the financial service, including the ATMs which may or may not be bank-owned / managed devices.

The devices which are used to provide the entire ecosystem produce huge quantity of information and activity logs, which contain crucial information which can throw light on potential attacks, even before the attack takes place. However, the humungous quantity of log data renders it impossible to analyse using conventional outlier detections. Conventional techniques result in considerable false alarms and restrict genuine activity, causing inconvenience and also creating mistrust among the users about the security products and techniques, highlighted Mr. Gandhi.

Therefore, the focus has now been shifting to techniques which are not rule based, but having ability to identify the normal activity patterns and detect the anomalous and potentially harmful activity. Needless to say, these involve machine learning and soft computing techniques. Application of these techniques is expected to generate better hit-rate in terms of identifying threats, without generating high level of false alarms. As each alarm requires response and is resource intensive in terms of time, money and manpower, the ability of the expert systems to distinguish the malicious behaviour from and casual digressions from the normal activity pattern will determine the value of these tools in the security infrastructure, mentioned Mr. Gandhi.

In addition to the tools, the most important component of the critical infrastructure protection is the skills, experience and alertness of the manpower deployed in this activity. The skill sets required for security are getting diversified from conventional IT 6 skills to investigative skills of criminal investigator, data scientists having ability to deal with huge data requirements and with innovative minds to stay one step ahead of the cyber-criminal. As the strength of overall security is only as much as the strength of its individual components, it is necessary that all the stakeholders have to work hand in hand to address the threat to the information systems.

The forums such as this provide great opportunity to interact and understand the role that each one of us has to

Industry expects uptick by December, says ASSOCHAM Bizcon Survey
Aug 01,2016

India Inc expects better days ahead six months from now in terms of growth in sales, profitability in sync with an uptick in the big macro picture, though fresh investment by the private sector is still far off thanks to continuous under-utilisation of capacities, the latest round of ASSOCHAM Bizcon Survey has pointed out.

As many as 65.5 per cent of the companies covered under the June series of the prestigious ASSOCHAM Bizcon said they expect the macroeconomic parameters to look up by December,2016.

Along with it, an equal percentage of the firms across different sectors said the performance at the industry level would also pick up with a consequence that there would be better sales realization and improvement in the profitability.

n++Net-net, the latest Bizcon Survey tells us how things would look up in the next six months, mainly on the back of uptick in consumer demand helped by good Monsoon. If consumer prices ease after the Monsoon play out, we can even hope for the interest rates to moderate. Fortunately, crude oil prices continue to remain muted despite threats of a rebound earlier,n++ ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D.S. Rawat said.

According to the survey, there was a shared optimism by 69 per cent of the respondents about better prospects even at the individual firms level, translating into the overall corporate earnings in the coming two quarters.

Though fresh employment generation has so far remained a challenge, about 41 per cent of the corporate respondents expect pick up in the job creation. In terms of the wage costs scenario majority of the industry respondents (65.5 per cent) feel that the wage costs will increase in future also.

The survey seems to reflect that in terms of the domestic investments there has been no change in the firm investment plans in the April to June 2016 quarter.

The survey indicates that industry is not confident about own investment plan as 37.9 per cent of respondents believe that domestic investment may increase or there will be no change in the shorter horizon. n++Thus there seems to be a continuing lack of appetite for new investment in the private sector,n++ it said.

The problem of high debt in certain key infrastructure and commodity sectors continues to stay there.

The survey results showed that the industry feels that the top five most important actions needed to accelerate economic activities are: Infrastructure development, considered to be the most important measure that shall help revive industrial growth; effective policy reforms; reducing cost of borrowing; clearance of stalled projects; and inflation stability.

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Stronger upturn in new work boosts production growth: Nikkei India Manufacturing PMI
Aug 01,2016

The performance of Indias manufacturing economy continued to improve in July, with a stronger expansion in new business contributing to faster increases in output and buying levels. Although some firms added to their workforces, overall job creation was negligible. Meanwhile, input cost inflation softened and while output prices were raised at the quickest pace in three months, the rate of charge inflation was only slight.

Posting a four-month high of 51.8 in July (June: 51.7), the seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers IndexTM (PMI) TM - a composite single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance - indicated a further improvement in overall business conditions across the sector. The upward movement in the headline index came from stronger contributions from four of its five components, the exception being suppliers delivery times.

Supported by greater demand from both the domestic and external markets, total new business rose at the fastest pace since March. The expansion in order books was led by consumer goods producers. Growth of new export orders climbed to a six-month high, with increases seen in the consumer and capital goods categories.

Indian manufacturers stepped up production, with Julys upturn being the most pronounced since March. The overall increase in output was led by consumer goods producers, although growth was also recorded in the intermediate goods category.

July data highlighted ongoing pressure on the capacity of Indian manufacturers, as outstanding business rose for the second month in succession. Furthermore, the rate of backlog accumulation was the fastest in one-and-a-half years.

Despite this, hiring trends remained relatively muted. Only 1% of surveyed companies took on additional workers in July, while almost all the remaining respondents signalled no change in payroll numbers.

Underpinned by stronger growth of new orders, businesses purchased additional inputs for use in the production process. The rate of expansion climbed to an 11-month high. Subsequently, stocks of raw materials and semi-finished goods rose.

Conversely, holdings of finished goods declined in July, but to the least extent in six months. Some respondents commented on the fulfillment of orders from stocks.

On the price front, July saw input costs rise at the slowest pace in five months. Although charge inflation accelerated, the rate of increase was only slight and remained below its long-run average. Finally, supplier performance improved for the first time since February, albeit marginally.

Commenting on the Indian Manufacturing PMI survey data, Pollyanna De Lima, Economist at Markit and author of the report, said: Indias manufacturing economy is reviving at the beginning of the second half of 2016 after the slowdown seen in the April-June quarter, as growth of both production and new orders continues to strengthen in July. Although output expanded at the fastest rate since March and backlog accumulation intensified, businesses refrained from creating jobs. The ongoing muted trend for employment indicates that companies remain somewhat uncertain regarding the sustainability of the upturn.

Delving deeper into the data we see that the consumer goods sub-sector kept its place as the prime driver of the overall upturn. Although demand for plant and machinery improved, investment goods output dropped. Separately, the depreciation of the rupee supported Indian exporters as survey data pointed to the quickest rise in new business from abroad since January.

Offering respite to firms, cost burdens rose at a modest and slower rate and the improving demand environment meant that businesses were able to raise their own charges in July. With inflation rates remaining lower than their respective long-run averages, it wouldnt be surprising to see the RBI loosening monetary policy at its August meeting in an effort to encourage investment.

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CBDT extends due date for filing of Income Tax Returns to 5th August, 2016
Aug 01,2016

The due date for filing of Income tax returns by certain persons under the Income Tax Act is 31st July of the following year. However, taking into consideration the strike by Public Sector Banks (PSBs) on Friday, 29th July, 2016 and the last date for filing of returns being a Sunday, 31st July, 2016, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has decided to extend the last date for such returns which were due on 31st July, 2016 to 5th August, 2016. This extension would apply to taxpayers all over India except the state of J&K.

For taxpayers located in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has decided to extend the last date for such returns which were due on 31st July, 2016 to 31st August, 2016 in view of the general disruption of normal life in the last few days.

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Customer Meet arranged for increasing steel use in Haryana by SAIL and RINL
Aug 01,2016

For the Northern Regions customers, an interaction for increasing steel use in Haryana was organized in Jind, Haryana today, which was graced by Honble Steel Minister Shri. Chaudhary Birender Singh. Haryana MLA Smt. Prem Lata Singh also attended the event. The customers meet based on boosting steel consumption was organized by Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam (RINL), the two major steel PSUs under the Ministry of Steel.

Addressing the customers meet, Honble Steel Minister said, n++Haryana is an industrially as well as agriculturally developed state which is widening its scope of development for industries and this will present good opportunity for improved steel consumption.n++ Expressing his confidence on the domestic steel industry including SAIL and RINL, he said, n++the domestic steel industry should exhibit a sense of urgency in leveraging their R&D strength thus improving their cost efficiencies. The domestic steel producers should take all steps to promote use of steel at the earliest as time is of essence in the fast changing business scenario. SAIL and RINL should quickly stabilize their modernized facilities, maximize their performances and strengthen the domestic sector.n++

This customers meet was arranged at a time when India is amongst the few world markets where steel consumption has better prospects and steel demand is expected to grow on back of governments sustained spending on infrastructure, construction, housing, smart cities, Make in India etc. initiatives. The average per capita consumption of steel in India is below 60 kg and in rural India a mere 12 Kg, thus providing ample opportunity to boost steel consumption. While the steel market is globally challenging, the domestic industry must take innovative steps to enhance countrys steel consumption and counter the effects of cheap imports by its cost effective and quality steel. Domestic industry should use design & product engineering for enhancing steel consumption by establishing steels cost effectiveness, quality & durability as a material for construction in sectors like infrastructure, transportation and urban development.

Haryana is a developed state with a good blend of agricultural as well industrial base in its economy. The state has major industrial zones for countrys northern region with presence of several national and international manufacturing companies from sectors including automobile, heavy industries, engineering parts and equipments, paints, diary, agricultural equipments, housing materials, tube & pipes etc. Along with this, the state has a handsome and strong agriculture and food processing industry. In tandem with the vision of central governments progressive policies, Haryana government is also keen to develop many cities as smart cities and Faridabad and Karnal have already found its niche in the centres Smart Cities Mission. All these factors culminate to a strong opportunity for improved steel consumption in Haryana providing a conducive market for domestic producers.

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Government has approved special package for Textiles and Apparel sector to attract investments and to generate exports
Jul 29,2016

Government has approved special package for Textiles and Apparel sector to attract investments and to generate exports. The details of package are as follows.

The Government announced a special package of Rs 6,000 crores for boosting the employment generation and export potential of the Textile and Apparel Sector. Salient features of the package are:

1. Labour Law Reforms a) Government to bear 3.67% of employers Employee Provident Fund (EPF) contribution for new workmen in addition to existing reimbursement of 8.33% employer contribution under Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) for 3 years.

b) EPF will be made optional for employees earning less than Rs. 15,000 per month; thus, leaving more money in the hands of the workers.

c) Overtime cap will be raised from 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours per quarter leading to increased earnings of workers.

d) Considering the seasonal nature of the industry, fixed term employment will be introduced for the garment sector. A fixed term workman will be considered at par with permanent workman in terms of working hours, wages, allowances and other statutory dues.

2. Additional incentives under ATUFS n++ The subsidy provided to garmenting units, under Amended-TUFS, is being increased from 15% to 25%, providing a boost to employment generation.

n++ The package breaks new ground in moving from input-based to outcome-based incentives; a unique feature of the scheme will be to disburse subsidy only after expected jobs have been created.

3. Enhanced duty drawback coverage

n++ In a first-of-its-kind move, a new scheme will be introduced to refund the state levies which were not refunded so far.

n++ This move will greatly boost the competitiveness of Indian exports in foreign markets n++ Drawback at All Industries Rate will be given for domestic duty paid inputs even when fabrics are imported under Advance Authorization Scheme.

4. Enhancing scope of Section 80JJAA of Income Tax Act

n++ Looking at the seasonal nature of garment industry, the provision of 240 days under Section 80JJAA of Income Tax Act would be relaxed to 150 days for garment industry.

The expected impact of the special package on employment generation in next three years:

n++ The new package is expected to boost up employment generation.

n++ More and more garment units will become compliant with respect to statutory dues and more jobs will be generated in formal sector.

n++ Pro labour reforms like optional EPF, increased overtime limits and fixed term employment will lead to more cash in hand with workers, provide opportunity to earn more and put fixed term workers at par with permanent workers in terms of working hours, wages, allowances and other statutory dues respectively.

The special package will boost the textile and apparel sector by making larger manufacturing set-ups feasible thereby leading to economies of scale in the sector. It will also improve the attractiveness of garment manufacturing for new investments and exports. The current investment in the sector which is growing at 8% year on year is expected to grow substantially in next three years.

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Food Processing Facilities and Mega Food Parks
Jul 29,2016

The study conducted by Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET), Ludhiana has estimated that annual value of harvest and post-harvest losses of major agricultural produce including fruits and vegetables at national level was of the order of Rs. 92,651 crore based on production data of 2012-13 at 2014 wholesale prices.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has been implementing Mega Food Park Scheme (MFPS) since 11th Five Year Plan to create modern infrastructure for the food processing including fruits and vegetables. Total 42 Mega Food Parks (MFPs) have been sanctioned by the Government for setting-up in the country. Till now, 37 projects have been approved for implementation. Out of these, 8 Mega Food Parks have become operational. Proposals under the scheme are invited through Expression of Interest (EoI) from time to time against the vacancies created against cancellation / withdrawal. The willing entrepreneurs apply for setting up Mega Food Park in accordance with the conditions of the scheme guidelines and the projects are selected on merit based on appraisal carried out as per prefixed parameters notified in the scheme guidelines.

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FCI to sell 65-75 Lakh MT wheat in Open Market during 2016-17
Jul 29,2016

FCI sells wheat and rice in the open market under Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) (Domestic) through e-tender. For the year 2016-17, a target of 65-75 Lakh Metric Ton (LMT) has been set for sale of wheat by FCI out of Central Pool under the OMSS (D). A target of 20 lakh MT of Grade A rice has also been kept for sale under OMSS (D) during 2016-17. A quantity of 8.81 LMT of wheat and 0.26 LMT of rice have been sold under OMSS (D) as on 27 July 2016.

GOI has already made an additional allocation of 12.99 LMT wheat and 6.66 LMT rice over and above the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS)/ National Food Security Act (NFSA) allocations as drought relief during 2016-17. GOI has also made adhoc additional allocations to States/UTs to meet out their additional requirement as well as to release surplus stock of foodgrains held in the Central Pool.

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Flood rescue and evacuation operation by NDRF
Jul 29,2016

The flood rescue and evacuation operation by NDRF in various flood prone areas of country is in full swing. 44 self-contained flood rescue teams of NDRF have been pre-positioned in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal to assist the respective state administration in rescue and relief work. NDRF teams are fully equipped with boats, deep divers, Lifebuoy, Life Jackets and other flood rescue equipment.

13 flood rescue teams are deployed in Assam to meet the challenges due to flood like situations. NDRF teams evacuated 203 persons at Jorhat, 37 persons at Kokrajhar, 80 persons at Charang, 73 persons at Kamrup Rural and 104 persons at Jorhat district. In addition to rescue work, a Mobile hospital was established by NDRF team at Village Meragarh & Missamora under revenue circle Majuli district Jorhat. The medical team attended 163 sick persons and distributed medicines to needy.

09 flood rescue teams of NDRF are deployed in Bihar in connection with monsoon session. NDRF teams evacuated 43 persons at Supaul, 34 persons at Bhetia, 250 persons at Purnia and 70 persons at Gopalganj.

NDRF teams established Medical Camps at Peru Block, District Muzzafarpur and Supaul and distributed medicine to 63 persons at Supaul and 45 persons at Muzzafarpur.

A 24X7, NDRF control room in New Delhi is closely monitoring the situation and in touch with other agencies.

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Setting up of four Petroleum Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Regions approved
Jul 29,2016

Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Petrochemicals is implementing the Petroleum Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) Policy to promote investments, boost manufacturing and generate employment. Substantial investments by upstream Anchor Units in the Refinery and Cracker Segments are envisioned to lead to other investments in the chemical and petrochemical downstream sectors and ancillary industries. Government of India has approved setting up of four PCPIRs in the States of Andhra Pradesh (Vishakhapatnam - Kakinada), Gujarat (Dahej), Odisha (Paradeep) and Tamil Nadu (Cuddalore - Nagapattinam). The fully operational PCPIRs envisage investment of Rs. 7.63 lakh crore and 33.85 lakh job opportunities. No other PCPIR is proposed at present.

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DIPP to set up Investment Desk and Invest India to channelize investment in tourism sector
Jul 29,2016

To harness the enormous investment opportunities offered by the tourism sector, the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Invest India are setting up an investment desk. The emphasis so far has been on attracting tourists but now the time has come to focus on creating quality infrastructure and filling the gaps on the supply side to allow tourists to have a fulfilling experience. This was stated by Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, at the second edition of FICCIs Tourism Investors Meet 2016.

Zutshi said that for the tourism sector to flourish there was a need to develop the core infrastructure of the country which included rail, road, air and waterways. He added that a Task Force was being created by the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Railways to improve the connectivity to tourist destinations.

He said that there was immense scope of investment in the hospitality sector as there was a shortage of almost 190,000 rooms at present. He added that the government has been facilitating the private sector investors by improving ease of doing business, introducing single window clearance, business friendly policies and creation of land banks for investors.

However, Zutshi said that there is still a need to bring on board the state governments. Some states have been proactive and have introduced policies for promoting tourism but other states too need to realize that besides attracting tourists, investing in infrastructure was equally important.

Zutshi said that the government was planning to organize Incredible India Tourism Investors Summit 2016 in September to showcase the plethora of investment opportunities in areas of infrastructure development, both from India and overseas. The main objective of the summit is to position the Indian tourism sector for attracting large investments and presenting to the investors tangible investment-ready projects in different states of India.

Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, DIPP, Govt. of India, said that the government has been able to ease the process of construction permits and custom clearance. The government realizes that adopting right policies would result in double digit growth of GDP for the next three decades and would allow the tourism sector to grow. He added that state portals have also been developed for making the processes transparent.

Abhishek said that the private sector should encourage and promote start-ups and incubators in the tourism sector. He added that the government realizes that the laws in the start-up space have not been able to keep pace with innovation and these were creating obstacles for start-ups. Hence the government was trying to become a partner of the private sector rather than a regulator.

Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, said that the hospitality sector had been brought under the infrastructure segment which would enable the sector to grow. However, the threshold for the hotels which is at present INR 200 crore needs to be brought down to INR 50 crore to meet the deficit in hotel rooms and allow middle level players to enter the market. Billa said that the investment landscape was changing in India with the Make in India initiative. There was improvement in ease of doing business, land banks were available for investors and handholding was being done for investors. He added that there has been a change in the mindset and with infrastructure development in the country, investments are coming in.

Dr. Jyotsna Suri, Immediate Past President FICCI, Chairperson, FICCI Tourism Committee and Chairperson & MD, Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, said that the Ministry of Tourism and various states are ensuring that the right strategic initiatives are taken to guide stakeholders in making the right investment decision, and FICCI has been working on Tourism Infrastructure development for the last four years. She added that this year at TIM more than 600 meetings have been pre-scheduled between 72 buyers and seven sellers. These numbers indicate a substantial increase from the last year which witnessed around 350 meetings and 52 buyers.

Nikhil Sahni, Senior President - Government Banking & Strategic Government Advisory, Yes Bank, said that the tourism sector offered ample opportunities for investment and if the status of export industry was accorded to it the sector could grow phenomenally. Also, intelligence and tourist research should be encouraged and efforts should be made to make India a safe destination for tourists. He added that focus should be on improving tourism infrastructure, seamless travel and connectivity and promoting state-owned tourism units.

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Govt. considering all trade & industry suggestions that will go into making an ideal GST: CBEC official
Jul 29,2016

Quashing doubts in some sections of trade and industry over consideration of their views and suggestions by the government vis-n++-vis Goods and Services Tax (GST), a top Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) official assured that each and every representation received from trade and industry is discussed and deliberated upon.

n++There are various apprehensions in the minds of trade and industry and rightly so because in such a huge country with such diverse trade practices in different parts, that the suggestions and views sent by them may or may not be taken into consideration,n++ said Mr Mahender Singh, director general (GST), CBEC while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM National Conference on Draft GST Law, in New Delhi.

n++Being part of the exercise in the CBEC, I can assure you each and every representation received from trade and industry is discussed and deliberated upon, it may or may not be part of the final GST law but with a certain amount of certainty I can say that it is deliberated upon,n++ said Mr Singh.

n++It is considered, discussed and various aspects are taken into consideration and once the final decision is taken that will be incorporated in the final GST law which will come into effect in due course,n++ he added.

He said that trade and industry had raised various apprehensions as to whether the government would consider their views, suggestions and doubts regarding GST at two seminars that were organised on behalf of the CBEC as an outreach programme in collaboration with state governments, one in Hyderabad and other in Jaipur.

n++This is my assurance on behalf of the CBEC and the government that we encourage interaction with trade and industry and we are always willing to listen to their views, suggestions, doubts and apprehensions,n++ said Mr Singh.

n++The government believes that it works for the people, we have to take care of the trade and industry because ultimately you are the one who will be contributing to the national exchequer and the amount of money which is paid by you in form of tax to the central and state governments will ultimately be used for the welfare of the nation, for the growth of industry, economy and welfare of the people at large,n++ he said.

Highlighting that the model GST law was put in to public domain on June 14, 2016 after taking into consideration the doubts, apprehensions and suggestions of the state governments as well as the trade and industry, he said n++Even after that large number of representations and suggestions have been pouring in which is a very-very healthy sign.n++

n++We have been receiving large number of representations from trade and industry, various chambers of commerce, this is a very healthy exercise and all these suggestions and views will go into making an ideal GST which will come sometime after the constitutional amendment is passed by the Parliament, state assemblies and gets nod of the honourable President,n++ added Mr Singh.

In his address at the ASSOCHAM conference, former CBEC chief, Mr Sumit Dutt Majumder said that industry and all stakeholders should go through the GST law thoroughly and in-detail as once it becomes an act it will be difficult to amend the same.

Terming the delay in the passage of GST as a blessing in disguise, Mr Majumder said that implementation of GST will be a great challenge as the country is not prepared for the same.

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Simplified Central Excise norms for Jewellery Sector notified
Jul 29,2016

In this years Budget, central excise duty of 1% without input and capital goods tax credit or 12.5% with credit was imposed on articles of jewellery falling under heading 7113 of the First Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff 1985. Subsequent to that, the Government had set up a Sub-Committee of the High Level Committee, headed by Dr. Ashok Lahiri to interact with Trade & Industry on issues relating to procedure and compliance relating to excise duty of articles of jewellery.

The Sub-Committee has given its report on 23 June 2016, which has been accepted by the Government. In this connection, the Central Government has issued following notifications and circulars to give effect to the Sub-Committees recommendations:

A.        Notifications issued:

Notification No.Gist of notifications26/2016 - Central Excise


Seeks to amend notification No. 12/2012-Central Excise so as to prescribe 1% excise duty (without input and capital goods credit) on parts of articles of jewellery falling under heading 7113 of the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 1986), and to prescribe a criteria for classification of an articles of jewellery or part of articles of jewellery or both as that of a particular precious metal.

27/2016 - Central Excise


Seeks to partially exempt Central Excise duty on articles of jewellery falling under heading 7113 of the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 1986) manufactured by:

(a)    re-conversion of jewellery given by the retail customer, or

(b)     mounting of precious stone given by the retail customer.

28/2016 - Central Excise

Seeks to amend notification No. 8/2003-Central Excise dated 1st March, 2003, so as to increase for articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both, falling under heading 7113 of the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 1986):

(a)         the SSI Exemption limit from Rs. 6 crore to Rs. 10 crore; and

(b)        the SSI Eligibility limit from Rs. 12 crore to Rs. 15 crore.

29/2016 - Central Excise

Seeks to amend notification No. 17/2011-Central Excise, dated the 1st March, 2011, so as to exclude handicrafts falling under heading 7113 of the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 1986), from the purview of excise duty exemption for handicrafts.


33/2016 - Central Excise (N.T.)

Seeks to notify, for articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both, falling under heading 7113 of the First Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 1986),

(a)    for articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both (other than those which are   manufactured from the precious metal provided by the retail customer), the first sale value, that is the value at which such articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both, are sold for the first time, as the tariff value;

(b)   for articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both manufactured from the precious metal provided by the retail customer, the value which is sum of,-

i.        the cost of additional materials used by the manufacturer or principal manufacturer, as the case may be, for making such articles of jewellery;

ii.      the labour charges charged by the manufacturer or principal manufacturer, as the case may be, from the retail customer; and

iii.    the value of precious metal provided by the retail customer,as the tariff value.

34/2016 - Central Excise (N.T.)

Seeks to notify the Articles of Jewellery (Collection of Duty) Rules, 2016, applicable to articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both falling under heading 7113 of the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 1986). These rules, inter-alia, provide manner of payment of Central Excise duty on articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both, including an optional scheme for payment of such Excise duty.

35/2016 - Central Excise (N.T.)

Seeks to amend the Central Excise Rules, 2002 in relation to articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both, falling under heading 7113 of the First Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 1986), so as to:

i.        provide that the quarterly return (ER.8) will also apply to the manufacturers or principal manufacturers of parts of articles of jewellery, falling under heading 7113;

ii.      prescribe that the date of submission of quarterly return, for manufacturers or principal manufacturers of articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both, falling under heading 7113, for quarter ending on 31st March, 2016, and quarter ending on 30th June, 2016, shall be the 10th August, 2016; and

iii.    as separate rules are being prescribed for articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both falling under heading 7113 of the said Schedule to the said Tariff Act, applicability of Rule 12AA is being restricted to articles of precious metals falling under heading 7114.

36/2016 - Central Excise (N.T.)

Seeks to amend the CENVAT Credit Rules, 2004 in relation to articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both, falling under heading 7113 of the First Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 1986), so as to include a principal manufacturer of articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both as manufacturer for the purposes of the CENVAT Credit Rules, 2004.

37/2016 - Central Excise (N.T.)

Seeks to provide a modified format for quarterly return, ER-8, for return of excisable goods cleared at the Central Excise duty rate of 1% [including articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both, falling under heading 7113] or 2%.

38/2016 - Central Excise (N.T.)

Seeks to amend notification No. 35/2001-Central Excise (N.T.) so as to:

(i)            provide that a person engaged in the manufacture of articles of jewellery or parts of articles of jewellery or both, falling under chapter heading 7113 of the First Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 198

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016 Passed by Rajya Sabha
Jul 29,2016

Rajya Sabha passed The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016. The Bill had earlier been passed by Lok Sabha in May 2016.

Replying to the discussion on the Bill today, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Anil Madhav Dave, said that it is a good bill and the money is for the country. He said that the Parliamentary process has now been completed.

Shri Dave assured the House that if there are any concerns with the rules on consultation with Gram Sabhas in the Bill, the same will be reviewed after one year.

MPs from various political parties participated in the discussion on the Bill.

Background to Compensatory Afforestation Bill, 2016

The passing of the Bill has ended the long era of ad-hocism and will help the Centre and State Governments to utilise these amounts in a planned manner. It will facilitate make available more than Rs. 6,000 crores per annum to the States/UTs for conservation, protection, improvement and expansion of forest and wildlife resources of the country. Availability of these amounts will not only help the States/UTs and local communities to ensure better management of their forest resources but will also result in creation of more than 15 crores man-days of direct employment. A major part of these amounts will be used to restock and improve quality of degraded forests, which constitutes more than 40 % of the total forest cover of the country. Rules to be framed by the Central Government in consultation with the States/ UTs will provides for use of native species in afforestation activities to be undertaken from these funds. Majority of the employment will be generated in tribal dominated and backward areas of the country. Apart from creation of direct employment, utilisation of these amounts will result in increased availability of timber and various other non-timber forest products, and will thus help in improvement of the overall living standards of the forest dependent communities.

The Bill provides for establishment of a permanent institutional framework at the Central at each State and Union territory to ensure utilization of these funds in an expeditious and transparent manner. The Bill also seeks to transfer these amounts to dedicated, non-lapsable interest bearing funds under public account of the Union of India and each State so as to bring these funds within the overall oversight and control of the Parliament and the State legislatures, without impairing easy availability of these funds to utilise the same for the purpose for which it has been realised. The Bill also seeks to provide for constitution of a multi-disciplinary Monitoring Group to monitor activities undertaken from these funds. The Bill also provides for annual audit of the accounts by the C&AG.

The Bill provides for transfer of 90 % of the accumulated amounts, which presently is of the order of Rs. 40,000 crorers (excluding about Rs. 2000 crorers of interest already accrued on amounts presently being kept as FDs.) to the States for creation and maintenance of compensatory afforestation and execution of other activities for conservation, protection, improvement and expansion of forest and wildlife resources of the country. All fresh amounts to be realised by the States in lieu of forest land to be diverted for non-forest purpose will be deposited directly into the funds to be created under public account of the respective State. State-wise details of funds likely to be made available to each State/UT is enclosed.

The remaining 10 % Amounts to be retained at the National level will be used for monitoring and evaluation of activities to be undertaken by the States/UTs and Central Government from these funds and to provide, research and technical support to the States so as to ensure that these amounts are used in the technically best possible manner.

Central Government while according prior approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for diversion of forest land for non-forest purpose stipulates conditions to the effect that the State Government shall realize funds from the user agency for compensatory afforestation, catchment area treatment plan, wildlife management plan etc. to mitigate impact of diversion of forest land. In most of the States, funds received from the user-agencies were deposited in consolidated fund as revenue receipts which were made available to the Forest Department through budgetary provisions.

The Central Government in exercise of powers conferred under Section 3 (3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 constituted Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). However, the CAMPA could not be operationalized.

In 2008 Central Government formulated the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2008. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 23rd December, 2008. However, the Bill could not be taken up for discussion in Rajya Sabha. On dissolution of the 14th Lok Sabha, the Bill lapsed.

C & AG in his D.O. letter dated March, 4, 2013 requested the then Finance Minister to examine the entire issue of maintaining a fund outside Government Accounting System. The C & AG in his said D.O. letter also suggested to move the Supreme Court for review of its decision with regard to Ad-hoc CAMPA fund so that it can be transferred into Public Account of India.

In compliance of the suggestions of the C&AG, and in exercise of powers conferred under section 3 (3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the MoEF formulated a draft CAMPA Order, 2014 for establishment of separate funds under public account of Union of India and each State and constitution of authorities at Union of India and each State for management of these funds and placed the same before the Supreme Court for approval. The approval of the Supreme Court to the draft Order is still awaited.

To ensure safety, security and expeditious & efficient utilization of accumulated funds which are presently managed by the ad-hoc CAMPA, consisting of only three officials and one representative of the CEC, without having any full time regular staff and administrative support; and to ensure harmonization between the original CAMPA notification dated 23rd April 2004 and the State CAMPA Guidelines, as approved by the Supreme Court in July 2007, and also to provide statutory back up to the State CAMPAs, the Central Government introduced the Compensatory Afforestation Fund, Bill, 2015 in Lok Sabha.

On 13th May, 2015 Lok Sabha referred the Bill to the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests. The Committee held extensive consultations with the States/UTs and various other stakeholders. The committee submitted its report containing 26 recommendations. The Central Government accepted 20 recommendations. Based on recommendations of the Committee and further examination of the Bill, the Central Government moved 49 official amendments.


Details of Amounts Available with the Ad-hoc CAMPA As on 31.03.2016
(Rupees in Crore)

Sl. No



Total Amount as on 31.03.2016Distribution Between centre and StatePrincipalInterestTotalCentreStateAmt.%

Amount provided for Startups and Innovation Industries
Jul 29,2016

Several Government organisations like Department of Science & Technology (DST), Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeiTY), have been supporting startups and innovation industries.

During over last two decades, DST has provided over 250 crores in setting up of specialised institutional mechanisms spread across the country i.e Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park (STEP) and Technology Business Incubators(TBIs). The STEPs and TBIs are engaged in nurturing startups and since the year 2008, few of them have also been provided support totaling to about Rs.60 crores to implement the seed support system (SSS) for startups in Incubators. DSIR has provided a support of over Rs.225 crores to industries for development and demonstration of innovative technologies, since 1992 and a support of over Rs.25 crores to individual innovators, since 1998. Biotechnology Industry Research Assessments Council (BIRAC) under DBT has provided funding of Rs.677 crores to entrepreneurs, startups, SMEs and translational organisations since 2012. DeiTY under a scheme for Technology Incubation and Development of Entrepreneurs (TIDE), supports 27 TIDE centres up to March 2017 in the area of Electronics & ICT to strengthen the technology incubation centres at the institutions of higher learning. The outlay for each TIDE centre is Rs.55 lakhs for the entire duration. Rs.32.12 crores have been released to TIDE centres till now. The support certainly needs to be scaled up to bring in more and more state-of-the-art and affordable innovations into the market for the benefit of society.

DST has introduced several new schemes namely National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI), New Generation Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centre (NewGen IEDC), Grand Challenges and Competitions for Scouting Innovations (GCC), Promoting and Acclerating Young and Aspiring Innovators and Startups (PRAYAS), Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR), Start up NIDHI, Technology Business Incubator (TBI), Seed Support System (SSS), Accelerator, Centers of Excellence (CoE).

The Government over the last two years has taken initiatives to promote innovations, such as announcement of AIM, SETU, Start-up/Stand-up India, IMPRINT, Uchhatar Aavishkar Yojana etc. DSIR on its part has a scheme which provides common research facilities including research, testing and quality control equipment in public funded institutions for the benefit of micro and small enterprises. BIRAC has initiated several flagship programmes such as BIG, SBIRI, BIPP, SPARSH, CRS and BioNEST that bridge the gap in the biotechnology innovation pipeline. In addition to this, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion has initiated a start-up fund of Rs. 10,000 crores.

During 2016-17, DSIR has provided an amount of Rs 27 crore, DeiTY has provided Rs 3 crores and the budget of BIRAC is Rs 120 crores for the startup and innovation industries. DST has also earmarked a budget of Rs 180 crores to promote innovation and enterpreneurship.

The Government has identified 10 themes under the IMPRINT scheme to promote innovations and DSIR has been identified to pursue innovations in the areas of manufacturing technology and water resources. BIRAC has identified the areas of Biopharma including vaccines, bio-agriculture, bio-industrial and bio-informatics for building the national biotechnology capabilities and has initiated several new awards to promote innovations such as SITARE (BIRAC-SRISTI GYTI Awards), BIRAC Hackathons, BIRAC Technology Day Award and BIRAC Innovator Awards. Under the existing scheme of National Manufacturing Competitiveness Programme (NMCP) of MSME, there is a component namely, Support for Entrepreneurial & Managerial Development of Small & Micro Enterprises through Incubators. Financial assistance (up to Rs.6.25 lakh per idea subject to a maximum of 10 ideas in each financial year) is given to the innovators for incubating innovative ideas that can be converted into business activities through Host Institutes i.e. engineering colleges, IITs, NITs, etc. in this scheme.

MSME gives National Award annually to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to promote innovations. Six awards, comprising three awards (first, second & third) to Micro & Small enterprises and three awards (first, second & third) to Medium enterprises are given. The first, second and third award carries a cash prize of Rs.3 lakhs, 2 lakh & Rs.1.5 lakh respectively including a trophy and certificate.

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