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Approval for Enhancement of Investment by Bharat Petroleum Corporation in Bharat Oman Refineries
Apr 28,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to enhance investment by Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) in Bharat Oman Refineries (BORL). The investment amount could be enhanced upto a maximum of Rs.3000 crore by way of subscription of convertible warrants / other instruments giving right to convert it into equity shares to be issued by BORL, beyond DPE guidelines dated 05.08.2005.

The infusion of funds by the BPCLs will enable BORL to overcome the implications on account of the erosion of the net worth. Besides it will enhance the availability of petroleum products in the Northern and Central parts of the country, industrial development of Madhya Pradesh and substantial increase in employment and tax earnings in the State.

Background:

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) is a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. It has promoted a joint venture company with Oman Oil Company Limited (OOCL) named Bharat Oman Refineries Limited (BORL). The BORL has commissioned the 6 MMTPA (120 Thousand Barrels Per Day) Refinery at Bina in Madhya Pradesh, in June, 2011 at a project cost of about Rs. 12,754 crore. Currently the refinery is operating at 100% of its installed capacity.

The company now proposes to undertake a debottlenecking project at the refinery to further increase the refining capacity from 6 MMTPA to 7.8 MMTPA. The estimated project cost is Rs.3,072 crore, with an overall implementation schedule of 36 months from date of receipt of environmental clearances (Zero Date). The highlights of the proposal for debottlenecking project include certain modifications to produce products in accordance to the new Auto Fuel Policy.

Hence, there is a need for immediate infusion of funds in BORL by the shareholders. OOCL while expressing their support for the project, had indicated that they are not prepared to commit further funds for the project at this stage. Therefore, BPCL Board has decided to infuse funds to the tune of Rs 3,000 Crore for funding the debottlenecking project and for meeting the extraordinary losses suffered on account of the sharp fall in the prices of crude oil and finished products.

Government has, accordingly, decided to grant approval to the proposal of BPCL to enhance its investment in BORL by an additional amount of up to Rs. 3,000 crore for completion of the de-bottlenecking project.

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Memorandum of Understanding between IRDAI and the Insurance Authority, United Arab Emirates
Apr 28,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and the Insurance Authority of United Arab Emirates. The MoU was signed in February 2016.

The MoU provides for enhanced cooperation between the two authorities in the field of insurance supervision by providing a framework for co-operation such as channels of communication. It will also result in increasing mutual understanding through the exchange of regulatory and relevant supervisory information including confidential information to enforce or ensure compliance with their respective laws and regulations.

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Government decides to allow States to impose and enforce stock limits to check the price rise in sugar
Apr 28,2016

Government decides to allow States to impose and enforce stock limits to check the price rise in sugar

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to bring n++sugarn++ under the purview of imposing stock holding limits on dealers of sugar, keeping in view the recent upward trend in sugar prices. The Government has noticed that in spite of sufficient availability of sugar stocks with the Sugar Mills, the wholesale and retail prices have shown a spurt.

The Government has taken stock of the availability of sugar and different factors contributing to rise in market prices of sugar across the country. In order to check the inflationary tendencies in sugar and to reduce hoarding by wholesalers and retailers, Government felt an immediate need to bring sugar within the purview of stock limits. The decision will empower State and Central agencies to impose stock limits and regulate supply, distribution, storage and trade of sugar to bring down sugar prices at reasonable level by curbing unscrupulous trading.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Papua New Guinea on cooperation in the field of health area and medical science
Apr 28,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Papua New Guinea on cooperation in the field of Healthcare and Medical Science.

The bilateral MoU will encourage cooperation between the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare of India and the Ministry of Health and HIV/AIDS of the Papua New Guinea through joint initiatives in the health sector. It will strengthen bilateral ties between India and Papua New Guinea.

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Approval for Installation of Solar Power Plant of 200 MW or more Capacity at the Central State Farm at Jetsar, Rajasthan
Apr 28,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for utilization of 400 hectares of un-cultivable farm land at the Central State Farm (CSF), Jetsar in Sri Ganganagar District, Rajasthan for setting up of a solar Power Plant of capacity exceeding 200 MW. The land is presently in possession of National Seeds Corporation (NSC), a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the administrative control of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. The Solar Power Plant will be set up by a CPSE, which would be selected through negotiation.

NSC will provide 400 hectares of un-cultivable land, out of the 5394 hectares under its possession to the identified CPSE, which will bear the costs relating to the installation of the Solar Power Plant. The selected CPSE will have to do tariff based competitive bidding for the project. It will be allowed to utilize the land for the installation of a Solar Power Plant over a contract period of 25 years, which may be extended on mutually agreed terms and conditions, after which the entire plant will be surrendered to the NSC on as is where is basis. The Project, by utilizing un-cultivable land for a Solar Power Project, will yield revenue for NSC and will also generate clean energy for the nation.

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Indian Railways proposes to harness 1000 Mega Watt (MW) solar and 150 MW wind energy by the year 2020
Apr 27,2016

Indian Railways proposes to harness 1000 Mega Watt (MW) solar and 150 MW wind energy by the year 2020.

A total of about 50 MW renewable energy capacity has been installed till date including approximately 11 MW solar power & 37 MW wind power. In addition, installation of 6.5 MW is in progress and for about 50 MW solar capacities, Request For Qualification (RFQ) has been issued by Zonal Railways.

For harnessing renewable energy sources for Railway requirements, the mechanism put in place include signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ministry of Railways and Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), finalisation of Model Bid documents for rooftop solar power plants etc. with the financial support of MNRE. Based on these Model Bid Documents, Zonal Railways have floated tender documents for installation of solar rooftop plants at Railways premises.

Such renewable energy plants are being put up in Railways in an economical manner to reduce the cost of energy with Viable Gap Funding (VGF) from Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.

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Private Investment Under CSR in Indian Railways
Apr 27,2016

To encourage participation of Private companies and PSUs in identified works/activities to be done under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Railways, the policy framework has been put in place by Indian Railways in February, 2016.

The policy guidelines of Indian Railways details out the works/activities executable under CSR in the field of Environment sustainability, sanitation and cleanliness, such as Rain Water Harvesting, Water Recycling Plants, Solar Panels, construction of toilets, provision for Solid Waste Management, supply of filtered drinking water etc.

As the activities under CSR are typically implemented by the companies (Sponsoring Entity) or its agency as per their CSR policy, no estimation of CSR funding is available with the Railways.

Railway has been executing required works with gross budgetary support from General Exchequer, internal resources, IRFC borrowing, Institutional financing and through other modes of financing as per requirement and feasibility.

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Merry-Go-Round System in Railways
Apr 27,2016

In order to provide an economical and reliable alternative short lead traffic, a rationalized scheme with lump-sum rates for Merry-Go-Round has been notified with effect from 01 April 2016. Some of the features of this scheme are as under:

n++ The MGR Terminals at both ends shall be privately owned.

n++ Rail track between the two terminals will be provided by the customer.

n++ Railways will provide locos, wagons, brake-vans and other rolling stock as per requirement for running of the rakes under MGR system.

n++ Terminals at both ends will operate round the clock.

n++ Lump-sum rates charged under the MGR System would depend upon the number of rakes loaded per day and the lead of traffic.

n++ For 18 km lead, the average MGR rate for 2-3 trips per day is around ₹ 47 per tonne.

n++ Expected traffic under this scheme is around 4-5 million tonnes in the financial year 2016-17.

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Indias push has helped in elimination of cotton export subsidies by developed countries
Apr 27,2016

Cotton is a very important crop and very high level of subsidies in the developed countries have been a cause of worry for the developing countries. The subsidies provided in these countries adversely affect the cotton growers in the poorest of the countries.

The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) permits export subsidies on agriculture subject to the limits set-out in Members Schedules of Commitments. Export subsidies can still be used by WTO Members, but only where they used them during the base period (1986-1988).

As India did not have any export subsidies during the base period, it was not entitled to any export subsidies except subsidies aimed at reducing the cost of marketing including internal and external transport as well as handling and processing costs (that is, subsidies listed in Article 9.1(d) and (e)), provided that these are not applied in a manner that would circumvent export subsidy reduction commitments.

This exemption is one of the special and differential treatment provisions of the AOA and was available during the implementation period of the Uruguay Round.

The implementation period of the AOA has ended and, therefore, some of the members have been arguing that the special and differential treatment provisions under Article 9.4 of the AOA are no longer available.

The Nairobi Ministerial Decision on Cotton and Export Competition resulted in a commitment by developed countries to immediately eliminate their export subsidies on the date of adoption of the decision; i.e December 19, 2015 and Developing countries by January 01, 2017. At the previous Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013, a Ministerial Decision reaffirmed a commitment to the objective of eliminating agricultural export subsidies, but stopped short of making legal commitments. The issue of addressing cotton subsidies was reiterated in almost all Ministerial Conferences.

India is not a major user of the export subsidies and as per Indias notifications to the WTO, India has not given any export subsidy for cotton between the year 2006-07 and 2009-10.

The Nairobi Ministerial Decision on elimination of export subsidies on cotton will in fact be good for Indian exports as it will create a level playing field for our farmers, who were not entitled for it but other developed countries were providing the same as scheduled, as per the rules.

Thus Indias push has helped in elimination of cotton export subsidies by developed countries. This will help Indian cotton growers in competing with other growers as well as prevent dumping of subsidized cotton in India.

Government of India is committed to the welfare of cotton farmers and has been taking every step to protect the cotton farmers which includes procurement of cotton through Cotton Corporation of India at Minimum Support Prices.

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Third Party Audit and improvement in catering services in Indian Railways
Apr 27,2016

Railways have decided to conduct Third Party Audit of catering services at periodic intervals by independent and reputed auditing agencies accredited by NABCB (National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies). As per the guidelines issued in this regard, 16 Railway Zones have been divided into four groups with Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern Railways as the nodal Zonal Railway for each group. The nodal zonal railways have been entrusted to empanel these accredited auditing agencies for the third party audit for their respective group of railways.

Improvement of catering services is an on-going process. In its endeavour to provide quality and hygienic food to the passengers, Railways have developed and operationalized an institutionalized mechanism for monitoring of quality and hygiene of catering services through regular inspections at various levels. The passenger satisfaction levels are also regularly monitored through direct feedback and other means to address catering complaints. The steps taken to improve the quality of food in Railways inter-alia include: (i) Introduction of station based e-catering at all A1 and A category stations for widening the range of options available to passengers for ordering food of their choice. (ii) Introduction of precooked food (ready to eat meals) (iii) Operation of centralized Catering Service Monitoring Cell (CSMC) (toll free number 1800-111-321) for prompt redressal of passenger grievances relating to the catering activities and real time assistance to travelling public. (iv) Imposition of penalties in case of deficiencies detected in services. (v) Operation of all India Helpline (No.138) for rail-users to lodge complaints/suggestions regarding food and catering services (vi) A Twitter handle with the address @IRCATERING has also been made operational to cater to the complaints/suggestions with regard to catering services.

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MoU Between Railways and ISRO
Apr 27,2016

Railways have recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for developing applications in the field of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System.

The aims and objectives of the MoU is to develop applications and services in tune with the requirements of Indian Railways such as:- i) Develop an advance warning system at Unmanned Railway Crossings for road users. ii) Mapping of Indian Railway assets through Geospatial technology. iii) Develop paperless unreserved ticketing solution based on geo-fencing of station area. iv)Developing Real Time Train Information System by using Communication Satellite Services. v) Setting up of n++BHUVANn++ node in Indian Railways to internalize the use of BHUVAN geospatial solutions by Railways. vi) Meet Indian Railways satellite based communication requirements. vii) The MoU has been signed on March 17th, 2016 and has come into force.

For services being currently provided by BHUVAN or envisaged in future for Government of India, no charges shall be levied. For communication services, satellite assisted Navigation etc. charges would be applicable as per mutual agreement and based on pricing policies of the Government.

A project called Real-time Train Information System (RTIS) to track trains on real time basis alongwith dissemination of train running information to rail users has been sanctioned.

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Implementation of DFCS, SFTO and AFTO Schemes in Indian Railways
Apr 27,2016

Presently two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC), one on the Western route (Jawaharlal Nehru Port to Dadri) and another on the Eastern route (Ludhiana to Dankuni), have been taken up for implementation. In Rail Budget 2016-17, the following three freight corridors: - (i) East West Corridor (Kolkata-Mumbai), (ii) North-South Corridor(Delhi-Chennai) and (iii) East Coast Corridor ( Khargpur-Vijaywada) have been proposed.

To increase rail share of the non-traditional commodities like molasses, fly ash, edible oil, caustic soda, chemical, petrochemicals, alumina & bulk cement, Special Freight Train Operator (SFTO) Scheme was launched in the year 2010 and amended in the years 2013 and 2014.

M/s. Fourcee Infrastructure Equipment and M/s. Jindal Steel and Power have been registered under SFTO Scheme. Three rakes have been inducted by M/s. Jindal Steel Power Limited.

Container Train Operators cannot operate under SFTO Scheme. However, 17 container train operators including CONCOR have been licensed for container operation and they can operate on the DFCs as well.

Container Rail traffic has grown at an average rate of 12.7% per annum from 2007-2008 to 2014-2015.

Two firms viz. M/s Maruti Suzuki India and M/s. APL Logistics Vascor Automotive have registered under the Automobile Freight Train Operator (AFTO) Scheme and have been given approval for procurement of six rakes each of Automobile carrier wagons (BCACBM) involving an investment of ` 80 crores approximately. So far, three rakes procured by M/s Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. and five rakes by M/s. APL Logistics Vascor Automotive Pvt. Ltd. have been put up to use on Indian Railways system.

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Spread Information Of PMFBY To All Farmers Of The Country: Kundariya
Apr 27,2016

Minister of State for Agriculture Mr. Mohanbhai Kundariya on Tuesday emphasized the need to spread information of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) to all the farmers of the country for which he invites all the stakeholders such as PHD Chamber and private insurance players to organize kisan melas in all the villages of the country so that farmers may avail the scheme of the government in better ways.

Inaugurating the 2nd National Seminar on Agri Insurance: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana under aegis of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Minister said that the information of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana should spread by organizing kisan melas in all small villages of the country so that the farmers may get maximum benefits of the scheme of the government.

He underlined that not only non-loanee farmers have been covered under the scheme but also the scheme is focusing on introducing cap on the premium and added that the full benefit of the sum assured would be utilized with the major aim of maximizing the coverage under the scheme. He stated that before framing the scheme Prime Minister of India wanted that the scheme must not only exist on paper but must be implemented effectively with this objective the scheme has been framed and the farmers welfare has been targeted at wider arena.

According to the Minister, to make the agriculture insurance attractive among the farmers, there is a need to educate farmers by organizing such events for which the government has been initiating such steps and organizing awareness campaign across the country.

Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture Dr. Ashish Kumar Bhutani in his address mentioned that the government of India is slowly moving towards farm level assessment of losses and local calamities such as unseasonal rains etc. and also underlined that the scheme can be a game changer. He also asserted that further scope for making the policy more flexible including experts from various states of the country.

In his welcome remarks, President, PHD Chamber, Dr. Mahesh Gupta said that agriculture insurance penetration amongst Indias farming community is abysmal. Out of the gross cropped area of 195.26 million hectares in the country, only 42.82 million hectares or 22 per cent was covered under crop insurance in 2014. While the coverage was higher in some states n++ especially Rajasthan and also Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar and Karnataka n++ it was hardly a tenth or less for the likes of Gujarat, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) will come into force from the Kharif season starting in June this year. The scheme covers kharif, rabi crops as well as annual commercial and horticultural crops. For Kharif crops, the premium charged would be up to 2% of the sum insured. For Rabi crops, the premium would be up to 1.5% of the sum assured. For annual commercial and horticultural crops, premium would be 5 per cent.

Earlier only those farmers who have taken loans for their cultivation, were eligible for insurance of their crops. However as per the new scheme, all farmers are eligible for the new crop insurance scheme irrespective of the condition of taking loan or not. The insurance plan will be handled under a single insurance company, AIC and entire insurance process; right from joining of farmers to disbursement of claim is to be made electronically to make it a fraud free and effective scheme.

Subjects experts from the sector of weather and risk management, insurance companies etc. added more inputs and floor participation from farmers, brokers in insurance and the academia added their pertinent inputs. The Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Ashish Kumar Bhutani elaborated and addressed all queries raised.

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Indias share in world GDP doubled: PHD Chamber
Apr 27,2016

Indias share in world GDP doubled/increased from 1.43% in 2000 to 2.86% in 2015. In the post crisis period, the performance of Indian economy is not bad as the economy is still progressing in the world economic system, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber in a press statement issued here today.

Indias GDP stood at USD 477 billion in 2000 and increased to USD 2091 billion in the year 2015 showing more than fourfold increase over a period of 15 years, he said.

The five BRICS countries account for about 42% of the worlds population, a quarter of the worlds land area and a combined GDP of above US $ 16 trillion. The BRICS economies also contributed a significant share in the world GDP which increased from 8.27% in 2000 to 22.53% in 2015, he said.

BRICS GDP share in world GDP (in percentage)Sr. No.Country20002005201020151Brazil1.971.893.372.422Russia0.831.722.481.813India1.431.772.612.864China3.634.859.1615.015South Africa0.410.550.570.43Total BRICS8.2710.7818.1922.53Source: PHD Research Bureau, Compiled from WEO April, 2016

Besides this, the volume of GDP of all the BRICS economies has increased significantly since 2000 and particularly post 2008 crisis. India, on the other hand, has performed phenomenally well if observed from the trend in its volume of GDP, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

Going ahead, growth in India is projected to notch up to 8 percent in 2016-17. Growth will continue to be driven by private consumption, which has benefited from lower energy prices and higher real incomes. Further, with the revival of sentiment and pickup in industrial activity, a recovery of private investment is expected to further strengthen growth in the coming times, added Dr. Gupta.

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FM: Government has taken various measures to deal with the issue of Non Performing Assets (NPAs) in Banking Sector
Apr 27,2016

The Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley said that the Government has taken various measures to deal with the issue of Non Performing Assets (NPAs) in Banking Sector especially in case of Public Sector Banks (PSBs). The Finance Minister said that there are two categories of defaulters, viz. those who are unable to pay back due to economic slowdown both in domestic and global market and other reasons outside their control as well as wilful defaulters including loans sanctioned without due diligence by the banks. The Finance Minister said that the Government has taken various measures to deal with both these categories of defaulters. The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley was making his Opening Remarks at the Second Meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Finance on the subject: n++NPAs in Banking Sectorn++.

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley further said that in order to deal with default due to economic slowdown, the Government has taken various measures to revive the stressed sectors which mainly include steel, textiles, power and roads among others. Shri Jaitley said that the Government has also done recapitalization of banks by providing Rs. 25,000 crore in the last year Union Budget 2015-16 as well as in this years budget 2016-17. He said that transparency and professionalism has been brought in appointment process for top management positions in the PSBs including Chairmen and Managing Directors. He said the Government has taken various measures to make the management professional, has given full autonomy to the banks in taking commercial decisions without any interference from the Government..

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley said that Bankruptcy Law has been cleared by the Joint Parliament Standing Committee and is likely to be discussed in the current Budget Session of the Parliament. The Finance Minister also said that SARFAESI Act and DRT Act have been amended to make the recovery process more efficient and expedient. The Finance minister said that wherever it was observed that number of cases in which action taken by the banks against guarantors for recovery of defaulted loans is insufficient, the Government has advised the banks to take action against guarantors in the event of default by borrowers under relevant Sections of SARFAESI Act, Indian Contract Act and RDDB & FI Act. The Finance Minister said that a direction to this effect has been issued to the banks last month. The Finance Minister also highlighted the various measures taken by the Government for revival of stressed sectors such as steel, road, power and textile sectors among others.

Later the Members of the Consultative Committee gave their suggestions with regard to recovery of loans and bringing NPAs under control. Members suggested that there is need for bringing more transparency in the system and list of all the defaulters whose loans have been written off by the PSBs be made public. They asked for exemplary action against the wilful defaulters so that others do not indulge in similar activities. Some members appreciated the Governments effort to make the appointment process for the top management positions of banks professional. Some members also suggested that there is need for restructuring of agricultural loans in order to help the farmers. Members also suggested that there should be no employment cut due to any amalgamation or merger of banks. Members asked the Government to ensure level playing field to all Indian entrepreneurs across the board. They suggested that due to wilful default by some prominent business men, others may not be considered and treated in a similar fashion. Some members suggested that a committee be constituted to finalise recovery process in case of loans given to big corporate houses by various PSBs.

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