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TRAI Chairman believes that the interconnection controversy can be resolved through a discussion with CEOs
Sep 29,2016

TRAI Chairman, Mr R S Sharma speaking at an industry interaction at FICCI, said that the controversy regarding the interconnection issues between the telecom operators, can be resolved through an across-the-table discussion with the CEOs. He said that a meeting of the CEOs is being called soon, with a view to finding a resolution to the problem that has dominated the sector for the last two months. The interactive session was moderated by Mr. Virat Bhatia, Chairman, FICCI ICT and Digital Economy Committee.

When asked as to why the industry finds itself in this position, and whether it was due to lack of proper regulation or licensing issues, etc., he said that he did not want to elaborate, given the sensitivity of the matter, but that the regulations do not leave scope for ambiguity.

Chairman, TRAI, spoke on a range of issues, including the 20 consultation papers, in various stages, released in the last 18 months. These, according to Mr. R S Sharma, are necessary for removing ambiguity in the telecom sector and allowing the stakeholders to function in harmony. TRAI felt the need for consultation papers in order to bring about a comprehensive regulatory framework which will plug the gaps in the system and facilitate the industry to grow seamlessly.

He told members of the FICCI ICT and Digital Economy Committee that, with the advent of technology such as cloud computing and internet of things (IOT), ICT is transforming every sector and telecom should also leverage it. Earlier, technology was on the periphery but in the last decade with disruptive technologies coming in, it has become a central tool. He added that ICT also brings with it efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Speaking on competition issues in general, in the telecom sector, Mr. Sharma said that TRAI promotes healthy competition. He added that the idea is to encourage healthy competition and ensure that interest of the consumers is safeguarded. He added that for TRAI, the consumers interest is paramount and they must not suffer on any account.

Mr. Sharma said that India already has a world class network and with new technology coming in the service should also become world class. India should strive for next generation network by employing new technologies such as Loons, Solar Planes, and White Spaces. He said that there was a need to harmonize the issues of business interest with disruptive technologies. To achieve this, it was necessary to put down licensing rules, norms and quality aspects through regulation.

Mr. Sharma said that TRAI was one of the regulatory bodies that engaged in a consultative process with industry before coming out with any policy or guidelines. Industry has an opportunity to share its concerns with TRAI to work out a feasible and sustainable framework.

Responding to the queries raised by industry regarding restriction in experimentation and use of new technologies, Mr. Sharma said that TRAI and he were in favor of trying out new technologies with appropriate permissions. However, he added that these technologies should be interoperable with open APIs and should not be in silos.

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Gartner Says New Digital Disruptors Demand a New Approach to IT
Sep 29,2016

Digital disruptors such as algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), bots and chatbots are already transforming businesses. Gartner, Inc. expects that algorithmic business will create even greater levels of disruption and new industries. To support the new capabilities and business models of digital and algorithmic business, CIOs must design and deploy their digital business technology platform.

Fueled by data, analytics and AI, algorithmic business will continue to grow and disrupt your business, said Steve Prentice, vice president and Gartner Fellow. This growth is unabated as algorithms are feasting on the wealth of data that grows inexorably. More than 500,000 new devices connect to the Internet every hour, and every one of them simply adds to the inevitable growth of data.

Mr. Prentice explored how digital disruptors are transforming the business landscape during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016, which is taking place here through today.

Algorithms Are Moving to the Forefront of the Differentiation Race

Algorithms are taking center stage in the race for competitive differentiation as leading organizations uncover their true value. Algorithms capture the knowledge that turns raw data into valuable insight, and CIOs must use them to drive speed, scale and consistency in their digital business journey, said Mr. Prentice. Applied to huge datasets, algorithms allow highly accurate, personalized offerings, which in turn can drive revenue and differentiation.

Algorithms are already well established in many industries. In human resources, in order to evaluate candidates suitability for specific roles, algorithms are used to match talent very quickly to the work that needs to be done within an organization. Eventually, algorithms will replace both manual processing of CVs by recruiters and automated CV ranking based on word matching. In other industries, organizations are making advanced algorithmic models available via open marketplaces, which ultimately facilitates access to algorithms that are beyond the development reach of many organizations.

Digital Disruptors Will Dominate in the Next Few Years

In parallel, AI has advanced dramatically during the past year. When enhanced with machine learning through the application of capabilities such as deep neural networks, AI is starting to outperform humans in some areas. Algorithms, AI, bots and smart things will dominate business interactions during the next few years: AI and bots currently allow platforms to gain a voice, while algorithms and AI will deliver the intelligence to empower a new generation of robots, cobots and drones and self-driving vehicles. CEOs must ensure their CIOs are actively engaged in embracing those new business opportunities, said Mr. Prentice.

Design and Deploy Your Digital Business Technology Platform

The pace of digital disruption demands a new approach to IT. CIOs must build their digital business technology platform to support the development of digital business, said Mr. Prentice. At a minimum, the IT organization needs to be able to design the big picture of all the new information and technology capabilities required to support digital business. The CIO can then work with the rest of the organization to define who n++ if not IT n++ will build, fund, support and own these major components.

The five major platforms of digital business are as follows:

Information systems platform, which supports the back office, and operations such as enterprise resource planning and core systems.

Customer experience platform, which contains the main customer-facing elements, such as customer and citizen portals, multichannel commerce and customer apps.

Data and analytics platform, which contains information management and analytical capabilities. Data management programs and analytical applications fuel data-driven decision making, and algorithms automate discovery and action.

Internet of Things (IoT) platform, which connects physical assets for monitoring, optimization, control and monetization. Capabilities include connectivity, analytics and integration to core and operational technology systems.

Ecosystems platform, which supports the creation of, and connection to, external ecosystems, marketplaces and communities; API management, control and security are its main elements.

You cant afford to stay on the sidelines of this digital and algorithmic business wave. Define your algorithm, AI, ecosystem and digital platform strategies now, concluded Mr. Prentice.

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Debt burden mounts as telecom operators get into price war: ASSOCHAM-KPMG study
Sep 29,2016

Even as the telecom industry finds itself in a tariff war with entry of a major player, an ASSOCHAM-KPMG paper has pointed towards the operators grappling with a huge debt burden of Rs 3.80 lakh crore, reinforcing a case for rationalisation of taxes and other levies along with spectrum charges.

The telecom operators have an accumulated debt of around INR3.8 lakh crore. An additional customs duty of 10 per cent will lead to an increase in cumulated duty to 29.44 per cent, reveals the joint study.

Even though consumers are having a last laugh with competitive offers from the major players , the service providers need to penetrate further into the fast expanding data market and create a volume that would make their cash flow running, ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

Simplification and rationalization of tax regime will provide required financial stability to Indian telecom industry. Presently, multiple charges and taxes are levied on the sector in addition to the charges paid by other industries (such as corporate tax, VAT, etc.). Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) in India are comparatively higher than other economies, noted ASSOCHAM-KPMG joint study.

Telecom sector is expected to contribute 8.2 per cent or INR 14 lakh crore to the GDP by 2020 and one of the highest contributors to the GDP over the last decade, adds the study.

Industry expects that there is a no rationalisation of multiple levies imposed. TRAI has recommended that license fee should be reduced to 6 per cent and Universal Service Obligation Fund to 3 per cent from current levels of 8 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

Further, as per a study cited by COAI, reduction in Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) by 1 per cent can increase GDP by INR1.76 lakh crore, highlighted the study.

The Telecommunication Industry is committed to realize the government vision of Digital India. A quick resolution on issues, that will facilitate ease of doing business will accelerate the same. We are confident that the government which has set a fast pace of policy and execution will support this endeavour said Mr. P.Balaji Chairman, ASSOCHAM National council on Telecommunications & Director-Regulatory, External Affairs & CSR, Vodafone India.

Telecom industry, due to its dynamic nature, witnesses continuous changing business and technology environment. In the recent past, India has witnessed a surge in data usage. Mobile data traffic grew by 50 per cent in 2015. Such tremendous growth is associated with mature network, device and content eco-system. In the current environment, Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) and Overthe-Top (OTT) service providers have leveraged on their synergies to work towards fulfilling the Digital India vision.

OTT service providers are playing a significant role in driving data consumption and transforming consumer behaviour. A major contributor to the increased data traffic is the growing customer demand for video which is expected to experience a further boost with the advent of 4G services.

Telecom service providers make huge investments in deployment of networks as well as in acquisition of spectrum. However, electromagnetic interference issues faced result in poor quality of services to the subscribers, customer dissatisfaction, losses to the TSPs and the exchequer at large, in spite of the huge investments made.

Among the major sources of interference are air-waves from nearby international borders and out of band emissions by institutions deploying links in free WiFi band or from illegal repeaters, boosters, jammers.

Non-coordinated use of frequencies is the primary cause of interference from telecom service providers in neighboring countries. Usage of frequencies should be regionally coordinated and globally harmonised to overcome this issue. There is a need to engage actively with the neighboring countries for specific regions where the TSPs are facing interference issues. Alternatively, the DoT should allocate the TSPs with spectrum in alternate frequency bands, wherever such issues cannot be resolved with the neighboring countries, noted the study.

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JNPT Now Harnessing Solar Power
Sep 29,2016

Indias largest container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) will now harness solar energy and reduce its dependency on conventional electricity from the grid. JNPT is installing solar power plant on several rooftops in its township and commercial premises.

This green initiative by JNPT is part of its push towards becoming the most sustainable energy generation port organisation in India. Rooftop solar plants allows the use of roof of buildings, an area which is otherwise not usable, for sustainable energy generation also ensuring financial savings. With this new initiative, JNPT is expected to get a payback on its investment on rooftop solar within 2.5 years due to its high cost of grid electricity (around Rs. 14 per unit).

This 822 KWp of solar rooftop capacity is being installed at an expense of Rs 4.5 crore, supported by a 15% subsidy from SECI (part of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy). The 822 KWp project once commissioned will generate around 9.9 lakh units of electricity thereby saving around Rs.1.08 crore of electricity expense for JNPT in the first year. Out of this 411 KWp is commissioned at Rooftop solar installation at JNPT premises i.e. Hospital- 234 KW, St. Mary School- 45.6 KW, IES School- 36 KW in the township and Port User Building (PUB)- 96 KW.

The renewable energy of 234 KW generated from Rooftop solar installation at hospital has capacity of 25,350 KWh per month and is contributing 80% of approximate present consumption. The total 411 KWp will generate around 4.95 lakh units of electricity in year 1 contributing to 40% of approximate present consumption of these 4 premises, thereby saving around Rs. 0.54 crore of electricity expense for JNPT in the first year.

This is a small but a significant step in the Central governments widespread initiative to promote solar energy in our country and will contribute to the governments ambitious target of having 1,00,000 MW of solar capacity installed in India by 2022.

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India climbs steadily in the Global Competitiveness Index; Improves its ranking by 16 places for the second year in a row
Sep 29,2016

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that in an extremely positive development, data released today by the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows that Indias ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) has improved by 16 places for the second year in a row. According to the latest ranking, he said that India is placed 39th among 138 countries, ahead of BRICS countries other than China which is ranked 28th.

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley further said that the Indias rank has steadily improved from 71 in 2014-15 to 55 in 2015-16 and to 39 in the latest report. With this improvement in its ranking, India has covered a long distance and is well on its way to emerge as a major player in the global economy, he added.

The Global Competitiveness Index released by the World Economic Forum is one of the major studies which indicates how a country scores in the scale of global competitiveness. The Index is calculated by aggregating indicators across 12 pillars which again are clubbed together in three broad sub-indices, namely basic requirements, efficiency enhancers and innovation and sophistication factors. The report covers both business and social indicators which, directly or indirectly, impacts the competitiveness of the country in the global arena.

The landmark improvement in the Global Competitiveness rankings India is in consequence of the structural reforms and policy initiatives taken by GOI in the last two years and should be viewed as an encouragement to us to continue with the agenda of reforms which would further streamline economic decision making and help us move up on the index of global competitiveness.

The 12 pillars underlying GCI include Institutions, Infrastructure, Macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation. Indias competitiveness has improved this year across the board, in particular in goods market efficiency, business sophistication and innovation. The macroeconomic environment also improved due to better monetary and fiscal policies and lower oil prices.

The Report analyses how Indias competitiveness score had stagnated between 2007 and 2014 till the new government took office and undertook a range of reforms including opening the economy to foreign investors and international Improvements in infrastructure which were small and faltering during most of the past decade, actually picked up after 2014 when the government increased public investment and speeded up the approval procedures. Similarly, the institutional environment deteriorated until 2014, as mounting governance scandals and inefficiencies led to a loss of trust in public administration but this trend was reversed in 2014. Macroeconomic conditions also followed a similar path and the country was able to keep a lid on inflation and reduce both the current account and fiscal deficits. India also ranks 8th in the strength of investor protection. There is however no room for complacency and Government will continue to focus on areas which need improvement. In the coming months and years, significant improvement in goods market efficiency may be expected from the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax which will reduce fragmentation of the domestic market.

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Union Home Minister chairs High Level Committee meeting for Central Assistance to Maharashtra
Sep 28,2016

The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh chaired a meeting of the High Level Committee (HLC) here today for Central Assistance to drought affected Maharashtra.

The Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of State for Home Affairs Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Home Secretary Shri Rajiv Mehrishi and senior officers of the Ministries of Home, Finance and Agriculture attended the meeting.

The Committee examined the proposal based on the report of the Central Team which visited Maharashtra. The HLC approved the assistance of Rs 1,269 crore, of which Rs.589.47 crore is supplementary assistance for damage to kharif crop and Rs.679.54 crore for damage to rabi crop.

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IWAI Signs MoUs with Dredging Corporation of India, Paradip Port Trust and Mormugao Port Trust
Sep 28,2016

Development of Inland Water Transport is a priority of the Ministry of Shipping. After the declaration of 106 new National Waterways, in addition to the existing 5 National Waterways, under the National Waterways Act, 2016, the responsibilities of Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) have increased manifold. To ensure the development of the National Waterways in a time-bound and effective manner, the IWAI in the presence of Shri Nitin Gadkari , Hon`ble Minister of Shipping and Road Transport & Highways has signed three separate Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dredging Corporation of India (DCI), Paradip Port Trust (PPT) and Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) on Wednesday, 28th September 2016.

These MoUs are meant to make use of the synergies, strengths and expertise of the Ports and Dredging sectors to enable IWAI to accelerate the development of Inland Water Transport (IWT) sector as an alternative, viable and environment friendly mode of transport.

While the MoU with DCI will enable IWAI to maintain navigable depth in National Waterways, the MoUs with PPT and MPT will help IWAI to develop National Waterway-5 in Odisha and various National Waterways in Goa ,respectively.

MoU between IWAI and DCI

To ensure development of the fairways, the dredging responsibilities of the IWAI are expected to increase rapidly in the next few years. Under the MoU, DCI will supplement the asset base of IWAI by purchasing/leasing shallow depth dredgers and operating them in National Waterways. DCI will also prepare cost estimates and determine the duration of the dredging projects .

MoU between IWAI and Mormugao Port Trust

The MoU between MPT and IWAI will assist IWAI in the development of National Waterways like Mandovi river (NW-68), Zuari river (NW-111), Chapora river (NW-25), Cumbharjua canal (NW-27), Mapusa river (NW-71), and Sal river (NW-88) in Goa.

IWAI and MPT will jointly work to achieve fairway development of the 182-Km stretch in Goa which includes dredging, river training works, bank protection, navigation aids, Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) etc. MPT will also provide project management supervision services related to the infrastructure works in the NWs.

MoU between IWAI and Paradip Port Trust (PPT)

The MoU between IWAI and PPT will result in a collaboration between IWAI and PPT to develop a viable navigation system on NW-5 in Odisha for Phase-1 (Pankapal-Paradip/Dhamra-212 Km on the Brahmaniand Mahanadi river system) to facilitate the movement of cargo vessels of economical size and viable capacity.

The development activities in Phase-I of NW-5 will include fairway development of 212 Km stretch which includes dredging, river training works, bank protection works; terminal construction with cargo handling facilities, off shore structures and related activities; and navigational aids including DGPS, RIS (River Information System)/VTMS.

PPT will cooperate and assist IWAI in project management, supervision, services including planning, designing, consultancy in respect of the works related to fairway development, terminals construction and other related infrastructure works on NW-5.

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Cabinet approves Closure of Hindustan Cables, Kolkata
Sep 28,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for closure of Hindustan Cables (HCL), Kolkata as per the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956/2013, Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and other relevant Acts. The employees will be offered attractive VRS/ VSS Package at notional 2007 pay scales and other employees related liabilities including payment of salary and wages from April 2015 till they are separated from the Company on VRS/VSS will be settled as well. The disposal of assets of company will be in terms of the guidelines of Department of Public Enterprises on time bound closure of sick/loss making Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and disposal of movable and immovable assets.

Total cash infusion for closure of company will be Rs. 1309.90 crore and non-cash infusion of Rs. 3467.15 crore in the form of conversion into equity of Government of Indias loan (including interest) outstanding as on 30.09.2016.

Secured creditors of HCL, Kolkata, led by SBI as consortium lenders to the company, have been generous in their support. The One Time Settlement (OTS) terms include complete waiver of interest and settle on principal amount of Rs. 305.63 crore in settlement of all pari-passu collateral held by them.

There is no production activity in the company since January 2003. The employees of the company are in 1997 pay scales. Due to non-payment of salary & wages, it is very difficult for the employees to survive and meet their immediate financial obligations. With the VRS/VSS package and clearance of other outstanding liabilities, the employees will come out of their present financial crisis. It will also help the employees in their post retirement rehabilitation. With the present time bound closure of the company, the valuable assets of the company will be available for other optimum utilization.

Background:-

HCL was established in the year 1952. It had four manufacturing units at Rupnarainpur (West Bengal), Hyderabad (Telengana), Naini (U.P.) and Narendrapur (West Bengal). Registered office of HCL is located at Kolkata. The company was set up to cater to the needs of Government-owned telecom companies BSNL and MTNL for manufacture of telecom cables. Due to rapid change in telecommunication technology (wire-line to wireless), the demand for telecom cables has been drastically reduced. Several attempts were made by Department of Heavy Industries for revival of the company but failed. Attempts to transfer HCL units to Ministry of Defence/Department of Defence Production also did not yield results. The proposal for closure of the company has been made as per the recommendations of BIFR, BRPSE and the Roadmap approved by CCEA on 29.12.2014 for phasing out non-plan budgetary support to sick CPSEs.

The company is a BIFR referred company since 2002. Government of Indias decision for closure of the company will be conveyed to BIFR for seeking their approval. The employees of the Company will be offered attractive VRS/VSS. Retrenchment process will also be followed as per Industrial Disputes Act 1947. OTS with secured creditors will be made to free the land assets of the Company. The other liabilities of the company including statutory liabilities arising during the process of closure of company will be taken care of as per the provisions of law and the aforesaid guidelines of Department of Public Enterprises.

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Cabinet approves an Undertaking between India and Korea on Mutual Recognition of Certificates for Seafarers, 1978
Sep 28,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing of an Undertaking between India and Korea on Mutual Recognition of Certificates. It is in pursuance of the Regulation 1/10 of International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers, 1978, as amended.

Signing of the Undertaking will pave way for recognition of maritime education and training, certificates of competency, endorsements, training documentary evidence and medical fitness certificates for seafarers issued by the Government of the other country. It is done in accordance with the provisions of regulation 1/10 of the STCW Convention, and cooperation between the two countries in the training, certification and management of seafarers.

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Cabinet gives ex-post facto approval to Varistha Pension Bima Yojana, 2003 and Varistha Pension Bima Yojana, 2014
Sep 28,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) 2003 launched on 14th July, 2003 and Varistha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) 2014 launched on 14th August, 2014. The Cabinet also granted approval for expenditure incurred on subsidy amount released to LIC during the period of 2003-04 to 2014-15 for VPBY, 2003 and approval to incur expenditure on VPBY, 2003 and 2014 from the financial year 2015-16 onwards.

The Schemes are implemented through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India, and the difference between the actual yield earned by LIC on the funds invested under the Scheme and the assured return committed by the Government is paid as subsidy to LIC.

Both are pension schemes intended to give an assured minimum pension to the Senior Citizens based on an assured minimum return on the subscription amount. The pension is envisaged until death from the date of subscription, with payback of the subscription amount on death of the subscriber to the nominee.

Both the schemes VPBY - 2003 and VPBY - 2014 are closed for future subscriptions. However, policies sold during the currency of policy are being serviced as per the commitment of guaranteed 9% return assured by the Government under the schemes. VPBY-2014 was open from 14th August, 2014 to 14th August, 2015. As on 31sl March, 2016, a total number of 3,17,991 annuitants are being benefited under VPBY 2014. Similarly, a total number of 2,84,699 annuitants are being benefited under VPBY- 2003 as on 31st March, 2016.

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Cabinet approves India - Singapore MoU to give a boost to Innovation, Creativity and Technological Advancement
Sep 28,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of Industrial Property Cooperation between Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), Ministry of Law, Government of Singapore. The MoU will be signed at the upcoming visit of Singapores Prime Minister to India from 4-7 October, 2016.

The MoU will enhance bilateral cooperation activities in the arena of Industrial Property Rights of Patents, Trademarks and Industrial Designs. It is intended to give a boost to innovation, creativity and technological advancement in both regions. The Priority initiatives under the MoU would be:

n++ Exchange of best practices, experiences and knowledge on Intellectual Property awareness among the public, businesses and educational institutions of both countries

n++ Exchange of experts specialized in the field of intellectual property

n++ Exchange and dissemination of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP with the industry, universities, R & D organizations and Small and Medium Enterprises

n++ Cooperation in the development of automation and implementation of modernization projects

n++ Partnership in IP-related training for local IP and business communities

The MoU will enable India to exchange experiences in the innovation and IP ecosystems that will substantially benefit entrepreneurs, investor and businesses on both sides. The exchange of best practices between the two countries will lead to improved protection and awareness about Indias range of Intellectual creations which are as diverse as its people. It will be a landmark step forward in Indias journey towards becoming a major player in global innovation and will further the objectives of the National IPR Policy, 2016.

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Cabinet approves ratification of the Paris Agreement
Sep 28,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to ratify the Paris Agreement (on Climate Change) on 2nd October 2016, the day of Gandhi Jayanti.

Paris Agreement was adopted by 185 nations last year on 12th December 2015 and India signed the Paris Agreement in New York early this year on 22nd April 2016. A total of 191 countries have signed to the Paris Agreement so far. As per the provisions of the Paris Agreement, the treaty will come into force as and when 55 countries contributing to 55 % of total global emission ratify the agreement. So far, 61 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 47.79% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions.

Indias decision to ratify the agreement will take the number of cumulative level of emission of countries that have ratified the agreement so far to 51.89%. With the gathering momentum and willingness expressed by several other countries to ratify the agreement before the end of this year, it is expected that the Agreement will enter into force soon and give a thrust to the global actions to address climate change.

With its decision to ratify the Agreement, India will be one of the key countries that will be instrumental in bringing the Paris Agreement into force. Given the critical role that India played in securing international consensus on Paris Agreement, todays decision will further underline Indias responsive leadership in the community of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice.

While agreeing to ratify the Paris Agreement, the Cabinet has also decided that India should declare that India will treat its national laws, its development agenda, availability of means of implementation, its assessment of global commitment to combating climate change, and predictable and affordable access to cleaner source of energy as the context in which the Agreement is being ratified.

Paris Agreement pertains to post-2020 climate actions. In the pre-2020 period, developed countries are to act as per Kyoto Protocol and some developing countries have taken voluntary pledges.

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Cabinet approves acquisition of 29.9 percent stake in LLC Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha and 23.9 percent stake in JSC Vankorneft by Indian Consortium
Sep 28,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to an Indian Consortium comprising Oil India (OIL), Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) and Bharat Petro Resources (BPRL) for acquiring 23.9 percent stake in JSC Vankorneft and 29.9 percent stake in LLC Taas-Yuryakh from M/s Rosneft Oil Company (Rosneft), the National Oil Company (NOC) of Russian Federation (Russia). Rosneft operates Vankor and Tass-Yuryakh fields and are its wholly owned subsidiaries.

The acquisition of stake in Vankorneft will provide 6.56 Million Metric Ton of Oil Equivalent (MMTOE) and 29.9 percent stake in Taas-Yuryakh will provide 0.5 MMTOE initially and 1.5 MMTOE by 2019. The acquisition is in line with Indias stated objective of adding high quality international assets to its Exploration & Production portfolio and thereby augmenting Indias energy security. The Consortium will be paying US $ 2020.35 million for acquiring stake in Vankorneft and US $ 1242 million for acquiring stake in Taas-Yuryakh. Earlier in May 2016 ONGC Videsh (OVL) completed the formalities of acquiring15% stake in Vankorneft at the cost of US $ 1.284 billion which gave OVL 4.11 MMTOE.

The acquisition will add 8.06 MMTOE to Indias overseas oil and gas asset. It will also provide an opportunity to Indian public sector Oil and Gas companies to absorb newer technologies with Rosneft and British Petroleum (BP). BP acquired 20% stake in Taas-Yuryakh from Rosneft last year.

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Cabinet approves financial assistance to retired employees of Bharat Pumps and Compressors, Allahabad
Sep 28,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of Department of Heavy Industry for providing financial assistance amounting to Rs. 111.59 crore as Non-Plan loan to Bharat Pumps and Compressors Limited, Allahabad.

The CCEA also accorded in principle approval for strategic disinvestment of the company.

The statutory dues such as provident fund and gratuity of retired employees will be discharged and the outstanding dues of CISF will be cleared. It will motivate the employees and improve the performance of the Company. This will put an end to further legal complications and penal action against the Company.

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Cabinet approves Administrative and Financial Sanction towards the implementation of the Project SAKSHAM
Sep 28,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved Project SAKSHAM, a New Indirect Tax Network (Systems Integration) of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).

The total project cost involved is Rs.2256 crore which will be incurred over a period of seven years.

It will help in:

n++ implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST),

n++ extension of the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) and

n++ other taxpayer-friendly initiatives under Digital India and Ease of Doing Business of Central Board of Excise and Customs.

The implementation strategy for the project will be to ensure readiness of CBECs IT systems by April, 1, 2017, when GST is to be introduced. The upgrade of the IT systems will be carried out while keeping the existing Tax-payer services running.

All Taxpayers/lmporters/Exporters/Dealers under various indirect tax laws administered by CBEC- presently about 36 lakhs, likely to go up to over 65 lakhs after introduction of GST.

CBECs IT systems need to integrate with the Goods & Services Tax Network (GSTN) for processing of registration, payment and returns data sent by GSTN systems to CBEC, as well as act as a front-end for other modules like Audit, Appeal, Investigation. There is no overlap in the GST-related systems of CBEC and GSTN.

This IT infrastructure is also urgently required for continuation of CBECs e-Services in Customs, Central Excise & Service Tax, implementation of taxn++payer services such as scanned document upload facility, extension of Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) initiative and integration with Government initiatives such as E-Nivesh, E-Taal, e-Sign.

Background:

Introduction of GST will result in a several-fold increase in the number of taxpayers and resultant document load on the system. CBECs current IT system was set up in 2008. It cannot cater to the increased load under GST without an immediate upgrade of its IT Infrastructure. Further, CBEC has implemented the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) and is integrating other partner agencies involved in Customs clearance in order to make the process simple and fast. The Customs EDI system which is currently operational at about 140 locations in India has to be extended to many more locations with improved response time and better service delivery. Taxpayers have to be given a facility for Upload of Digitally Signed Scanned Documents in order to reduce the physical interface with tax authorities and to increase the speed of clearance. CBEC also aims to introduce mobile services for taxpayers and departmental users to increase the outreach of its services.

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