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Ministry of Road Transport & Highways sets steep targets for 2016-17 : Aims at 2.5 times increase in award and construction of National Highways
Apr 20,2016

Minister of Road Transport & Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari has fixed a 2.5 times increase in the target for award and construction of National Highways for the year 2016-17. Encouraged by the good performance of his Ministry in 2015-16, Shri Gadkari expressed confidence that the pace of development that was established last year will result in even better outcomes during the current year. The Minister has set a target of 25,000 km of National Highways to be awarded in 2016- 17 as against the 10,000 km awarded in 2015-16. The construction target has been set at 15,000 km as against the 6000 km constructed last year. Of the total length of National Highways targeted for award, 15,000 km would fall under the target of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and 10,000 km under the target of the Ministry and National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL). NHAIs target for construction has been fixed at 8000 km while for the Ministry and NHIDCL, the target is 7000 km . The year 2015-16 has been one of very positive outcomes for the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. Works on a length of more than 10,000 km were awarded for the very first time. The completion of construction of 6000 km marked a year-over-year increase of nearly 36 %. The speeding up of road projects has been made possible due to several policy interventions which include the Ministry being empowered to decide mode of delivery, increased threshold for project approval, enhanced inter-ministerial coordination Exit Policy, promoting innovative project implementation models like Hybrid Annuity Model , amendments to the Model Concession Agreement (MCA) for BOT projects, segregation of Civil Cost from Capital Cost for NH projects for appraisal & approval, rationalized compensation to concessionaires for languishing NH projects in BOT mode for delays not attributable to them, delegation of powers to Chief Engineers regarding periodic renewal, delegation of powers to MORTH ROs regarding utility shifting and delegation of powers to evaluate and award tenders of upto Rs 300 cr.

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Ind-Ra: Land Titling Law to Ease Land Acquisition
Apr 20,2016

The Rajasthan Urban Land (Certification of Titles) Act, 2016, passed by the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly this month, will significantly smoothen the land acquisition process in urban areas, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Rajasthan is the first state in India to enact a law on property titles, where the state will stand as a guarantor for land titles and provide compensation in case of issues of defective title. Ind-Ra believes that the adoption of similar laws by other states can meaningfully shorten the time taken for acquisition of urban land for infrastructure creation by public bodies or for real estate development by private players and bring down overall project cost.

The Act provides for the State Government to stand as a guarantor for the permanent certificate of title issued for urban land by the Certification Authority after perusal of documents. The Act also provides for compensation to any person who enters in to a transaction on the basis of a permanent certificate of title, in case the title later turns out to be defective. These provisions will lead to clarity in land titles and will reduce legal challenges, thus reducing the effective cost of land and shortening execution timelines.

The Act is a marked improvement over the current situation where the land title is authenticated based on a series of documents of successive transfers, without any guarantee of the actual title and the buyers investment is exposed to the risk of complete loss, in case the title later turns out to be defective. Given the uncertainty as to land title, buyers go through a long process to authenticate the titles, but often end up facing legal challenges, thus delaying the execution of projects and locking up capital.

This titling reform by Rajasthan comes at a time when the government has embarked on a mission to push for urbanisation with various schemes namely, development of smart cities, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation and housing for all.

Under the Act, the state government will set up an Urban Land Title Certification Authority, which will seek all the documents from the landowners, and will verify it against the records held by the state. The authority will then issue a provisional certificate of title for a period of two years without guarantee and follow it up with a permanent certificate of title to which the government shall stand guarantor.

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Ind-Ra: Order Book Discipline Key to Improvement in Liquidity in the Construction Sector
Apr 20,2016

Companies in the construction sector continued to witness negative cash flows from operations (CFO) in FY16, which is likely to improve gradually to near zero levels in FY17, as more orders procured during the last two years are executed, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Competitive intensity had reduced for new orders over the last two years and hence margins on such orders are expected to be higher.

Order inflow in the construction sector is likely to grow, as the government has increased outlay for highways and railways in the Union Budget 2016-17. The government increased allocation for highways by 28% and has targets to award 10,000 kms of highways in FY17. The government has also laid out ambitious targets for spending on other infrastructure sectors and irrigation, drinking water supply, housing and power supply, which would entail significant opportunities for the sector over the medium term.

Ind-Ra believes that prudent accumulation of orders with close correlation between capacity to execute and order book size will be crucial to improvement in the cash flows and credit metrics of individual companies. Hence, Ind-Ra expects companies to focus on margins and funding while bidding for new projects and to limit their order books near the current level as a multiple of revenue, which will provide for a moderate growth in revenue along with improvement in cash flow margins.

Ind-Ra believes that the negative CFOs are a legacy of the aggressive bidding seen during FY10-FY12, when companies focussed on building their order books. In such orders, EBITDA margins were very close or even lower than retention money margins in some cases, leading to negative operational cash flows. Also, the companies did not focus on funding by the customer, resulting in long receivables and inventory holding periods. The construction sectors receivable days has widened by 33% to 141days and inventory holding period has risen by close to 9% to 124 days in the last five years.

As highlighted in the report Construction Sector to See Gradual Improvement in FY17, liquidity remains weak as indicated by negative CFO. Difficult borrowing conditions, due to weak balance sheets, is also affecting liquidity. Companies with strong liquidity however will continue to have a significant advantage over their peers.

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India Inc turning optimistic about economy, corporate performance: ASSOCHAM Bizcon survey
Apr 20,2016

An overwhelming large part of India Inc. is getting increasingly optimistic about performance of the economy in coming six months, leading to higher sales and profitability on the back of uptick in the company order-book and capacity utilization, according to a latest ASSOCHAM Bizcon Survey.

The optimism is reflected both at the levels of firms and the industry, for April-September period even though the feel good is yet to convert into increased appetite for fresh investment and better employment opportunities, noted the survey conducted by ASSOCHAM Economic Research Bureau (AERB).

As many 57.1 per cent of the respondents in ASSOCHAM Bizcon Survey across different industry segments shared a sense of optimism about the economy for the next months. Then, it is trickled down to the firm level with 61.9 per cent respondents feeling confident about the same.

Breaking the first half of the fiscal 2016-17 into two quarters, a big chunk of the respondents (66.7 per cent) feel for the immediate April-June 2016 quarter sales value would pick up. Similarly, there would be an improvement in the profitability as well, the survey noted.

n++Since the industry has been operating much below its capacity for a long period, there would still be a lag for fresh investment while a pickup in increased employment would still be away,n++ ASSOCHAM President Mr Sunil Kanoria said, sharing a sense of optimism reflected in the latest round of the Bizcon Survey.

The flip side of the survey is that a large part of India Inc. still feels that the present state of economy and its undercurrent has not changed much qualitatively as compared to the previous six months. This is true in the case of profitability at the industry and firm level.

Since there has not been much improvement in the employment situation, the wage costs for the industry have remained stagnant. The majority of the industry (57.1 per cent) opines that in the January to March 2016 quarter, there has been no change in terms of the expenditure incurred on wages. Going forward as well big chunk of the industry respondents (47.6 per cent) feel that the wage costs will not change in the April to June 2016 quarter.

Likewise, in the face of current subdued demand, in January to March 2016 quarter, 76.2 per cent of industry feels that there is no change in terms of the expenditure incurred on electricity and fuel cost. Again the majority of the industry (57.1 percent) expects that there will be no change in the electricity and fuel cost in April to June 2016 quarter as well.

The ASSOCHAM Bizcon Survey looks at nine key parameters which include sales, profits, inventories, investments, employment, cost of raw material, electricity and fuel cost, wages and cost of credit.

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Railway Minister directs to develop an online system for grievance redressal of both serving as well as retired Railwaymen
Apr 20,2016

In an innovative measure aimed at staff welfare, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu has directed railway administration to develop an online system for the redressal of grievances of Railway Employees both serving as well as retired. The IT Department of Indian Railways has started working on developing this system which will be called n++NIVARANn++ and will come into operation by 24.06.2016. Under this system, a railway personnel will be able to submit his grievances online and can also track the progress in resolution or disposal of the grievances. The main focus areas of the grievance redressal will be reimbursement of medical claims, pension claim, compassionate appointment and improvement in staff quarters. The move will benefit around 13.26 lakhs serving railway employees and around 13.79 lakhs retired railway personnel that is the system NIVARAN will serve the needs of around total 27 lakhs persons.

The Railway Minister has also directed the Railway Administration to create a provision or mechanism in this system for n++appealn++ against a particular decision of an authority. The Railway Minister has accorded important priority to this new system and has decided to personally review and monitor the functioning of this system. The monitoring and review will also be done at Railway Board Level, at Zonal Level and at Divisional level also. The Railway Minister has always been emphasizing on measures aimed at the welfare of the staff and resolution of their problems. He has always been pointing out the sincerity, dedication and hard work being put in by the railway employees to make Indian Railways as the world class railway system.

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India Urges Developed World to Declare Enhanced Action Plan
Apr 20,2016

India has urged the developed world to declare its enhanced action plan for the second period of Kyoto Protocol. Speaking on the eve of his departure for New York for the signing of Paris Climate Change Agreement, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, said, that mobilising $100 billion is still at the stage of discussion and no concrete action plan has been laid out. Shri Javadekar said that India has levied a Clean Environment Cess of $6 (Rs. 400) per tonne on coal. The Minister added that if the developed world follows India in taxing its coal production, $100 billion can be raised. He also said that the developed world must provide technological support to the developing nations in the fight against Climate Change. Shri Javadekar will also attend the meeting of Major Economies Forum on April 23-24, 2016.

The Minister highlighted that India is leading by example on mitigation and adaptation. Laying out the details of Indias action on Climate Change after the Paris Agreement, Shri Javadekar said that 175 GigaWatt of Renewable Energy has been targeted by 2022, out of which 40 GW Renewable Energy capacity has been achieved by March 2016. He pointed out that the Government has decided to leapfrog from Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission norms by April 1, 2020, thereby skipping BS-V emission norms altogether. n++The Government has taken a decision to promote blending of ethanol with petrol and its use as an alternative fuel and has also taken a decision to tax SUVs and diesel vehiclesn++, Shri Javadekar added. Shri Javadekar also said that 93 million LED bulbs have been distributed till April 12, 2016. This has resulted in energy savings of more than 33.3 million kWh every day.

Emphasising the initiatives taken by the government on adaptation front, the Minister stated that farmers can get their inefficient agricultural pumps sets free of cost replaced with energy efficient pumps. Some of the other initiatives taken by the Government include - Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana to improve water use efficiency, sustainable agriculture and efficient water use.

Speaking on the issue of pollution of lakes in Bengaluru, Shri Javadekar said that the Ministry has issued directions under section 5 and section 18 of Environment Protection Act on pollution of lakes in Bengaluru. The Minister said that the Centre has extended an assistance of Rs. 800 crore under AMRUT scheme for cleaning up the lakes in Bengaluru. Out of this, Rs. 500 crore is for laying down a 74 kms trunk sewage pipeline. He also said that Rs 162 crore have been provided to construct 4 Sewage Treatment Plant (STPs) in Bellandur lake. The Minister stated that 1280 MLDs of sewage is generated per day in Bengaluru, while the capacity to treat sewage is 721 MLD. Out of this, 600 MLD of sewage is actually treated. He also pointed out that of the 520 STPs, 137 STPs are non-functional.

The Environment Minister said that the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority Bill have been received. Some of the suggestions have been incorporated and the Bill will be placed in the Parliament in the next session.

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Central Consumer Protection Council recommends mandatory standards for piped drinking water also
Apr 20,2016

Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC), an apex body to advise the Government in the consumer related issue has expressed concern over quality of drinking water being supplied through pipeline and has recommended mandatory standards for drinking water irrespective of its source. At the moment FSSAI has standards only for bottled water. CCPC has said that the FSSAI should formulate standards for water being supply through pipeline also and should monitor its quality. The meeting attended by representatives of various Government bodies including FSSAI, voluntary consumer organizations and senior officials of various Ministries, was chaired by Union Food Minister, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan here today.

Briefing the media about the deliberations of the meeting, Shri Paswan said that CCPC was also of the view that there should be guidelines for brand ambassadors of products and services and in the case of gross misrepresentation of the facts or misleading advertisements, brand ambassadors should also be made responsible.

The Consumer Affairs Minister said that n++Grahak Suvidha Kendrasn++ set up by his Ministry are being directed to take up consumer complaints with the sector regulators or consumer courts on behalf of consumers. He said that so far 5 such centers have been set up in Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Patna and Delhi. More will be set up in other parts of the country soon.

Shri Paswan also informed that National Consumer Helpline is being strengthened; its capacity to attend consumer complaints is being enhanced three times more.

The Consumer Affairs Minister said that the Government has taken reports of charging more than MRP of products at some places, on some pretext, seriously. Recently a consumer court has also given judgment against overcharging. Governments agencies have been asked to take stringent and action and to start mass campaign to create awareness against it.

Expressing concern over poor infrastructure at consumer courts in general, Shri Paswan said that the State Governments have been requested to provide necessary support the courts working in their respective states. A committee headed by Justice Arjit Pasayat, Retired Supreme Court Judge has been set up in January this year, is already looking into the matter. It will submit its recommendations to improve functioning of consumer courts by the end of this month, he said

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Inauguration of REMCL-PTC Control Center By Member Electrical Railway Board Shri Ashwani Kumar Kapoor
Apr 19,2016

In a bid to procure economical power in line with the budgetary announcement of Minister of Railways, Indian Railways (IR) through Railway Energy Management Company (REMCL), a JV of MoR and RITES Limited, has started drawing power as deemed distribution licensee at a lower tariff in the state of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and partly in Uttar Pradesh. Railways have further contracted 585 MW power in the states of Orissa, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan through Open bidding at a much lower tariff. Flow of power in these states is likely to commence shortly. This has already resulted into significant saving to Railways and will continue to result in further savings.

To further improve upon scheduling of power being procured by IR as deemed distribution licensee, today a Centralized Control Room has been inaugurated by Sh. Ashwani Kumar Kapoor, Member Electrical, Railway Board, Ministry of Railways. This control room has been setup by REMCL.

This move will make it possible to look into ways to further reduce the cost of power to Railways by leveraging part power through exchange. It will also allow scheduling of power close to its actual load requirements.

Speaking on the occasion Sh. Kapoor said that these efforts will go in a long way to change the business as usual mode of availing power in Railways and in due course of time will lead to maximizing the benefits on power tariffs.

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Finance Minister: India is doing well, but can do better
Apr 19,2016

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that compared to the situation two years back and in the current global context, India is doing a lot better on all fronts, especially on the key economic parameters, however, there is scope to do better.

Referring to the spate of reforms happening in India, the Finance Minister Shri Jaitley said that structural changes are underway in India, which would place the economy and the country on a stronger footing as one of the leading economies of the world. He further added that India has moved from being the state of policy paralysis to the economic bright spot of the world

The Union Finance Minister Shri Jaitley referred in particular to the key reforms including opening-up FDI in multiple sectors; reduction in the corporate tax rate, movement on GST, lowering of interest rates as well as process reforms with an emphasis on ease of doing business that can help decrease transaction costs. He mentioned about the huge resource allocation in infrastructure development particularly for national highways, roads, railway stations, airports and seaports will also help unleash economic activity in these capital intensive sectors. In addition, Shri Jaitley gave renewed emphasis on infrastructure development in rural areas, rationalization of government support subsidies, and so forth will further help reduce stresses on the economic fundamentals in the country.

Ultimately, all these initiatives are geared towards helping the Indian economy focus on value added manufacturing which is at the heart of Make in India, the Finance Minister added.

Mr Jaitley also pointed-out that for the first time, the discourse about reforms is changing in India with a larger constituency being in support rather than against. In addition, the Finance Minister said that factors such as constructive competition amongst states is a very positive factor that is fuelling interest from both domestic and private enterprises.

Mr Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance pointed-out that India was becoming more competitive - not owing to labour cost arbitrage but owing to lower costs of capital, lower taxes and lower logistics costs, etc.

Mr Arun Kumar Singh, Indian Ambassador to the US, spoke about the fact that economic security and strategic partnership have become integral part of the bilateral relationship between India and the US. He also highlighted the US investments ​in India ​have been to the tune of USD 28 billion and likewise Indian companies have invested USD 15 billion in the US and created over a hundred thousand jobs.

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12.1% Growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals in March 2016 Over the Same Period in 2015
Apr 19,2016

Ministry of Tourism compiles monthly estimates of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) on the basis of Nationality-wise, Port-wise data received from Bureau of Immigration (BOI) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism on the basis of data available from Reserve Bank of India.

The following are the important highlights regarding FTAs and FEEs from tourism during the month of March 2016.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs):

n++ FTAs during the Month of March 2016 were 8.17 lakh as compared to FTAs of 7.29 lakh during the month of March 2015 and 6.90 lakh in March 2014. There has been a growth of 12.1% in March 2016 over March 2015.

n++ FTAs during the period January- March 2016 were 25.08 lakh with a growth of 10.0% as compared to the FTAs of 22.81 lakh with a growth of 3.5% in January- March 2015 over January- March 2014.

n++ The percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during March, 2016 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (14.07%) followed by UK (13.16%), USA (11.84%), Germany (3.74%), Canada (3.57%), Sri Lanka (3.48%), Malaysia (3.45%), Russian Federation (3.19%), China (2.92%), France (2.92%), Australia (2.83%), Japan (2.43%), Nepal (1.72%), Singapore (1.67%) and Thailand (1.60).

n++ The percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during March 2016 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (33.82%) followed by Mumbai Airport (15.97%), Haridaspur Land check post (7.83%),Chennai Airport (7.30%), Bangaluru Airport (5.44%), Goa Airport (4.05%), Kolkata Airport (4.02%), Cochin Airport (3.76%), Hyderabad Airport (2.72%), Gede Rail (1.67%), Amritsar Airport (1.63%), Ahmadabad Airport (1.63%), Trivendrum Airport (1.48%), Tiruchirapalli Airport (1.34%) and Gaya Airport (0.96%),

Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from Tourism in India in Rs. terms and in US$ terms

n++ FEEs during the month of March 2016 were Rs. 13,115 crore as compared to Rs. 11,133 crore in March 2015 and Rs. 10,479 crore in March 2014.

n++ The growth rate in FEEs in rupee terms during March 2016 over March 2015 was 17.8% as compared to the growth of 6.2% in March 2015 over March 2014.

n++ FEEs from tourism in rupee terms during January- March 2016 were Rs. 40,411 crore with a growth of 15.9% as compared to the FEE of Rs. 34,875 crore with a growth of 3.6% during January- March 2015 over January- March 2014.

n++ FEEs in US$ terms during the month of March 2016 were US$ 1.958 billion as compared to FEEs of US$ 1.783 billion during the month of March 2015 and US$ 1.716 billion in March 2014.

n++ The growth rate in FEEs in US$ terms in March 2016 over March 2015 was 9.8% compared to the growth of 3.9% in March 2015 over March 2014.

n++ FEE from tourism in US$ terms during January- March 2016 were US$ 5.986 billion with a growth of 6.8% as compared to the US$ 5.605 billion with a growth 2.9% during January- March 2015 over January- March 2014.

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Ind-Ra: Pressure on Food Price Inflation to Continue
Apr 19,2016

Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation came in at negative 0.9% in March 2016, unchanged from the previous month. India Ratings and Researchs (Ind-Ra) had an expectation of negative 0.1%. This is the 17th consecutive month in which WPI has witnessed deflation. Ind-Ra expects the prices of oil and manufactured products to remain benign and this will keep the pressure on WPI low. However, the same cannot be said about food inflation over the next few months despite the prediction of above than normal monsoon. Ind-Ra still expects WPI deflation to move into positive territory next few months, although it will remain in the low single digits in the foreseeable future.

Food Inflation Shows Modest Uptick: Food inflation rose to 3.7% in March 2016 from 3.4% in February 2016 mainly led by food grains and eggs, meat and fish. Prices of foodgrains rose to 8.7% in March 2016 (from 8.2%) mainly due to an escalation in the prices of cereals that rose to 2.5% in March 2016 from 1.1% in the previous month. Pulses inflation, despite moderation, still remains high at 34.4% as against 38.8% in February 2016. The prices of fruits and vegetables contracted further to 2.2% in March 2016 from 2.5% in the previous month. However, pressure on fruits and vegetable prices will rise in the coming months with the setting in of summer season.

Fuel and Power Prices Contract further: Deflation in fuel and power component of WPI increased to 8.3% in March 2016 from 6.4% in February 2016. Petrol prices contracted sharply to 9.9% in March 2016 as against a contraction of 1% in the previous month. Ind-Ra expects benign oil prices to continue in FY17.

Negative Inflation in Core and Manufacturing Moderates: Deflation in manufactured products came in at negative 0.1% in March 2016, lower as compared to 0.6% in February 2016. The core inflation (non-food manufactured products) also moderated to negative 1.1% in March 2016 from 1.6% in the previous month. Some of the major manufactured items/groups that witnessed moderation in deflation in March 2016 are basic metals, alloys, and metal products. Negative inflation moderated to 5.4% from 9.3% in February 2016.

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India and Mauritius sign MoU to promote cooperation in the field of Traditional Medicine and Homoeopathy
Apr 19,2016

India has signed an MoU with Mauritius on cooperation in the field of traditional system of medicine and Homoeopathy. The MoU was signed during the recent visit of Minster of State for AYUSH(Independent Charge) and Health & Family Welfare, Shri Shripad Yesso Naik to Mauritius.

This MoU will promote cooperation in the field of traditional system of health and medicine between the two countries which already share these traditions due to our unique historical and cultural ties. It envisages exchange of experts, supply of traditional medicinal substances, joint research and development and recognition of the traditional systems of health and medicine in both countries. It also aims at promotion and popularization of the various Indian traditional systems which fall under AYUSH.

The agreement will be of immense importance to both countries, considering their shared cultural heritage. The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa & Homoeopathy (AYUSH) as a part of its mandate to propagate Indian systems of medicine globally has entered into MoUs with China, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, Hungary, Bangladesh and Nepal.

The financial resources necessary to conduct research, training courses, meetings and deputations of experts will be met from the existing allocated budget and existing plan schemes of AYUSH.

Both India and Mauritius share several cultural, historical, linguistic and literary similarities, traditional medicine including medicinal plants are promising areas which need to be further explored and can prove to be mutually beneficial to the people of the two countries.

The government of Mauritius also has a long history of traditional medicine in common with India and both countries share a common culture with respect to the ayurvedic system of medicine.

Moreover, there are a large number of medicinal plants, particularly those found in the tropical region and are common to the two countries given similar geo-climatic factors.

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UP has highest share in infra projects being carried out in PPP mode across India: Study
Apr 19,2016

Uttar Pradesh (UP) tops with highest share of about 15 per cent in the projects being carried out under public-private partnership (PPP) mode across India followed by Maharasthra (12 per cent), Gujarat (10 per cent), Karnataka (nine per cent) and Tamil Nadu (six per cent) amid top five states in this regard, noted a recent ASSOCHAM-SREI joint study.

n++UP again has highest share of about 22 per cent in terms of value in the total PPP investment projects under construction across India followed by Maharashtra (11 per cent), Haryana (8.5 per cent), Gujarat (six per cent) and Madhya Pradesh (4.5 per cent), highlighted the study titled PPP Investment in Indian Infrastructure: Need for growth and development, conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) with infrastructure conglomerate SREI.

Gujarat has the highest share of 15.5 per cent in infrastructure projects (value terms) that are under operation based on the PPP mode and is followed by UP and Maharashtra (13 per cent share each), Tamil Nadu and Karnataka (almost 8 per cent each).

n++A total of about 1,200 projects in different segments of infrastructure sector with investments worth about Rs seven lakh crore are being carried out under PPP mode throughout India,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings of the chambers study.

Of these, about 650 projects worth over Rs 4.5 lakh crore with about 67 per cent share are there in roads and bridges followed by over 100 projects in ports sector (12 per cent share) with an investment worth over Rs 80,700 crore, energy (six per cent) with over 150 projects with investments worth over Rs 41,000 crore, SEZ (five per cent share) with investments worth over Rs 30,000 crore, water sanitation (2.6 per cent) and others.

About 500 PPP projects with investments worth over Rs 1.6 lakh crore under operation, there is no information about 150 PPP projects with investments worth over Rs one lakh crore and 65 such projects with investments worth over Rs 77,000 crore have been terminated, noted the ASSOCHAM-SREI study.

Almost 73 per cent of the total investments worth over Rs 3.3 lakh crore attracted by infrastructure sector in various segments that are under construction in the PPP mode are concentrated in roads and bridges.

Currently there are about 480 investment projects under construction in the PPP mode in various other segments - SEZ, ports, energy, water sanitation, airports, tourism, healthcare, cold chain and others.

Interestingly, most PPP investment projects have been terminated in Maharashtra (13 per cent) followed by Chhattisgarh (10 per cent), Gujarat (nine per cent), Kerala (seven per cent) and MP (seven per cent).

n++Poor preparations, flawed risk-sharing, inappropriate business models and fiscal uncertainties to vested interests leading to development of skewed qualification criteria are certain key reasons for failure of PPP projects in India,n++ said Mr Rawat.

The ASSOCHAM-SREI study noted that stable macroeconomic framework; sound regulatory structure and effective regulation; sustainable project revenues; investor friendly policies, transparency & consistency; liberalisation of labour laws and good corporate governance are certain basic requirements to achieve success of PPP sector in India.

An appropriate institutional framework is a pre-requisite for success of PPP in the infrastructure development due to its size, investment requirements, structure and dimension, it said.

The study has also suggested the government to set up an independent institution for overall co-ordination and management of PPP projects in the country.

n++It should also act as nodal agency with the responsibility of creation of PPP data base, creation and regular updation of model bid documents for all infrastructure sectors; co-ordination with concerned government departments and dissemination of best practices and learning through both successes and failures,n++ added the ASSOCHAM-SREI joint study.

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Indias services export declines 12.6% in February 2016
Apr 18,2016

As per the data released by the Reserve Bank of India, Indias services exports declined 12.6% to US$ 12.33 billion in February 2016 over February 2015. Meanwhile, Indias services imports also fell 9.0% to US$ 7.19 billion in February 2016.

Indias services trade surplus narrowed 20.5% to US$ 5.14 billion in February 2016 from US$ 6.46 billion in February 2015.

Indias services trade surplus fell 6.0% to US$ 64.43 billion, with 2.8% decline in services exports to US$ 142.24 billion in April-February 2016 over a year ago. Indias services imports eased 0.3% to US$ 77.81 billion in April-February 2016.

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Indias merchandise trade trade narrows to seven year low of US$ 5.07 billion in March 2016
Apr 18,2016

Indias merchandise exports continued to decline for the sixteenth straight month at 5.5% to US$ 22.72 billion in March 2016 over a year ago. Meanwhile, merchandise imports also dipped 21.6% to US$ 27.79 billion. The trade deficit narrowed 55.5% to seven year low of US$ 5.07 billion in March 2016 from US$ 11.40 billion in March 2015.

Oil imports plunged 35.3% to US$ 4.80 billion, while non-oil imports also declined 17.9% to US$ 22.99 billion in March 2016 over March 2015. The share of oil imports in total imports was 17.3% in March 2016. Indias basket of crude oil plunged 34.0% to US$ 36.42 per barrel in March 2016 over March 2015.

Among the non-oil imports, the major contributors to the overall decline in imports were petroleum, crude & products imports declining 35.3% to US$ 4.80 billion, machinery, electrical & non-electrical 5.6% to US$ 2.33 billion, precious & semi-precious stones 11.0% to US$ 1.96 billion, iron & steel 7.0% to US$ 1.15 billion, coal 37.4% to US$ 1.00 billion, gold 80.5% to US$ 0.97 billion, non-ferrous metals 10.9% to US$ 0.77 billion, metaliferrous ores 49.2% to US$ 0.36 billion, silver 62.4% to US$ 0.21 billion and organic & inorganic chemicals 1.6% to US$ 1.24 billion.

On the other hand, the imports have increased for electronic goods 19.0% to US$ 3.70 billion, transport equipment 34.7% to US$ 2.03 billion, artificial resins, plastic materials, etc. 4.1% to US$ 0.95 billion, vegetable oil 4.2% to US$ 0.83 billion, chemical material & products 5.8% to US$ 0.42 billion, pulses 25.8% to US$ 0.21 billion and pulp and waste paper 25.2% to US$ 0.09 billion in March 2016.

On exports front, the engineering goods recorded a sharp dip in exports by 11.3% to US$ 2.46 billion, followed by petroleum products 21.4% to US$ 4.58 billion, RMG of all textiles 4.1% to US$ 3.49 billion, cotton yarn and fabrics 8.7% to US$ 0.40 billion, rice 27.7% to US$ 1.10 billion, leather & leather products 3.1% to US$ 0.86 billion, man-made yarn/ fabrics 8.7% to US$ 0.54 billion, and meat, dairy & poultry products 14.3% to US$ 0.41 billion.

However, the exports improved for, gems & jewellery 4.6% to US$ 3.62 billion, drugs & pharmaceuticals 4.1% to US$ 1.52 billion, electronic goods 11.5% to US$ 0.59 billion, plastic & linoleum 30.2% to US$ 0.48 billion, spices 12.6% to US$ 0.27 billion, fruits & vegetables 14.1% to US$ 0.26 billion, in March 2016.

Merchandise exports in rupees increased 1.5% to Rs 152265 crore, while imports dipped 15.8% to Rs 186251 crore in March 2016 over March 2015. The trade deficit narrowed to Rs 33986 crore in March 2016 compared with Rs 71169 crore in March 2015.

Indias merchandise exports declined 15.9% to US$ 261.14 billion, while merchandise imports fell 15.3% to US$ 379.60 billion in April-March FY2016. The decline in imports was driven by a 40.2% plunge in oil imports to US$ 82.66 billion. Indias merchandise trade deficit declined to US$ 118.46 billion in April-March 2016 from US$ 137.69 billion in April-March 2015.

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