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Government is keen on introducing GST from April 1 next year: Najeeb shah, Chairman CBEC
Dec 09,2016

Chairman of the Central Board of Excise and Customs Mr Najeeb Shah asked the industry to prepare itself to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST) with effect April 1 at an ASSOCHAM event.

There will be GST readiness on part of the government and urged the industry to be ready. On the issue of dual control among the states and the Centre, he said n++we dont want to reduce dual (GST structure) into duel, chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).

Lack of consensus on the issue of how the new tax, having central and state elements, would be collected and administered is holding up the supporting legislations on the Goods and Service Tax (GST), which the government is keen on introducing from April 1 next year.

He said the CBEC would also look into anti-profiteering mechanism. We are very clear that one assesse will be dealing with the administration of either state or the Centre. So the entire cross empowerment issue was, we empower each other to say that in case the state authorities look at SGST issue, they also look at CGST and vice versa, Shah said.

Mr. Shah said, there will be GST readiness on part of the government and urged the industry to be ready. On the issue of dual control among the states and the Centre, he said n++we dont want to reduce dual (GST structure) into duel.n++

The administration of state or centre will be dealing with one assesses only. So, the entire cross empowerment went was to ensure the suitability empower with each other. The both the administration centre and the state are committed too. Im sure that an issue will be resolved, added Mr. Shah.

Chairman CBEC also said that the multiplicity of GST rates is the necessity due to the economic and political compulsion. The Government unsure about exact compensation figures for states, may vary between Rs. 10,000 to 20,000 crore, said Mr. Shah.

The central government and state governments have to collect Rs 8 lakh plus crore of revenue which they are currently getting from indirect taxes other than customs. In the course of the GST council deliberations, growth rate of 14% for 5 years for each one of the states has been assumed. Its a huge assumption and the burden which central government has cast upon itself.

Addressing the conference, Chairman of CBEC said, Im sick and tired of hearing from wise people that we should have one rate of GSTn++. He further said, how can we have a one rate for edible, cars, atta, computers? We cannot have one rate but we can reach one rate 20 years down the line. So, we have to have multiple rates.

We have a wide range of commodities which is not taxed by the state administration, taxed by central excise and service tax regime and vice -versa.

We are doing the great experiments with matching of invoices, no other administration has attempted to this. The matching of invoices will hope and ensure that need for the agency to intervene their entire process will be reduced considerably, said Mr. Shah.

Need for bringing in public domain the compliance rating of each customer, added chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs.

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Robotics may take over 10 million jobs in 5 yrs: ASSOCHAM
Dec 09,2016

Up to 10 million jobs might be taken over by artificial intelligence or robots during the course of next five years owing to extreme technological developments taking place globally, apex industry body ASSOCHAM said.

n++The Union Government should integrate robotics as key components of its flagship Make in India, programme for attracting global manufacturers to set up their highly efficient and automated supply chain facilities in the country,n++ suggested a recent ASSOCHAM study titled Digital India to Robotic India.

The current industrial revolution globally is unfolding disruptive technologies in the form of automation, robotics, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, genomics etc., and has started eating jobs in large number and in India alone million of jobs are at stake in the next five years.

The Chamber thus, in its study has underlined an urgent need for fostering a partnership among government, industry and academia to equip people with the right skill sets.

n++The proposed partnership will be able to identify emerging skill requirements and academia, especially from developed countries would need to assist in structuring courses and setting curricula,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM.

n++The Centre should create a national policy perspective for automation consisting of top level experts, representative of business, government and labour as it will set down the roadmap and guidelines to make this transition as painless as possible while assuring the stakeholders that the benefits will be widely and equitably shared,n++ said Mr Rawat.

n++This will at least sensitize the nation on the inevitability of robotics led automation in industry, manufacture, transport and distribution,n++ he added.

It is also pertinent to note that robotics technology is a settled necessity for not only making Indian industry globally competitive and the country attractive for entrepreneurs but also to promote manufacturing sector in states like Uttar Pradesh (UP) to ensure faster economic development.

ASSOCHAM has thus suggested the Government of Uttar Pradesh to dovetail its skill development policy conducive to create an enabling environment for private sector, provide better infrastructure, impart skill training to industrial workforce and promote ease of doing business across the state.

With several global auto firms setting up base in India and many hoping to export vehicles from the country both vehicle assembly and obtaining components by several Indian and joint venture (JV) component firms would require extensive automation to be at par with international standards.

In the beginning, automation and robotics would be inevitable at least where high quality and low costs on the one hand and safety of human workers are prime concern.

n++We must expect automation becoming the imperative where raw materials like rare earths or dangerous ones like radioactive metals and corrosive chemicals are in use, thus it is clear that in the hazardous industries, robotics help workers in their safety, rather than replace them,n++ said Mr Rawat.

n++As the product shelf-life shrinks, automated production processes would become inevitable to catch up with the competition domestically and globally,n++ he added.

n++Besides, in transportation of goods rapid use of containerization, automation at ports and in-time manufacture would make transportation more and more automated requiring fewer and fewer human intervention,n++ further said Mr Rawat.

The coming of driverless cars and trains is one indication. The reduction in use of fuels through greater efficiency of fuel use (cars at 25-30 km/hr are already a reality as well as cars requiring least periodic attention) would need fewer petrol pumps and repair shops, for instance.

Allaying concerns about job displacement, the study said, n++The sector automation and use of robotics need not be at the expense of labour, coexistence is possible; industry leaders must view the introduction of robots as a competitive advantage.n++

What is needed is a joint effort by all to make automation and subsequent changes in job pattern and demand on intelligence, innovation and creative work as a great opportunity to open the floodgates of enabling every individual to build his/her future in a global prosperity environment.

n++India need not fear the socio-economic churn of the coming Robotics Age but be prepared for welcoming it,n++ the study said.

Economic policies should assume that there will be accelerating movement from low wage-low skill workforce to high skill-high wage one that will endow larger spending potential to most people and that in turn will demand more leisure, more travel, more creative life styles with their attendant changes in most products and services.

n++This will assume a high voltage dynamic of the economy powered by automation and robotics.n++

All developing countries including China are rapidly moving to use of industrial and other robots and automation of many production and distribution processes while the middle income country South Korea has built its industry led prosperity with highest density of industrial robots.

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MSME ministry suggest withdrawal limit to 2 lakh for micro units: Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, MoS for MSME
Dec 09,2016

Ministry for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) will suggest for increasing the withdrawal limit to 2 lakh per week for MSME sector said, Mr Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, Minister of State for MSME, GoI at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++We need to be cashless economy to be the best in the world. The Demonetisation will help to control the fiscal deficitn++, said Mr. Chaudhary.

He further said that repayment of loans by farmers is 92%, much higher than big value business loans. n++Encourage MSMEs to initiate skill development for rail and defence manufacturingn++, said Mr. Chaudhary.

He further said that the government is witnessing a new trend with many MSMEs taking the e-commerce route to establish themselves in the Indian market and we are using internet not only as a marketing tool but also as a tool to enable them to understand if a unique product has high demand in the market. Indian MSMEs are looking at e-commerce as an innovative tool to build fresh business models.

Mr. Chaudhary also said by adopting e-commerce MSMEs shall achieve significant advantages such as increased revenues and margins, improved market reach, access to new markets, cost savings in marketing and communication spend, customer acquisition and improved customer experience.

Addressing the event, Mr S.N. Tripathi, Additional Secretary & Development, Commissioner (MSME), Ministry of MSME, Government of India said we need to move fast towards digitising India.

n++Inadequacy of bank branches is one primary reason why cash dominates small businesses. Many rural branches are open for just a day or two in a week. People consider bank postings in rural India as a punishment. The smaller the enterprise, the bigger the problemn++, according to a study titled, MSMEs in India: The Paradigm shift, jointly conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Resurgent India.

The study highlights that the government must realise that the small scale sector will certainly pick it up (move to e-payments). But it is a gradual process. Also, it is important to acknowledge that money generated in business is not irregular. Certain issues cannot be pushed so much that the system chokes and the outcome is distorted.

Irrespective of the bright side of upcoming GST, SMEs must be mindful of its accompanying challenges such as increase in complicate costs and alignment of IT systems with new processes. Thus, for the SMEs, GST throws a mix bag of opportunities and challenges to explore, adds the joint study.

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DST-Intel Collaborative Research for Real-Time River Water and Air Quality Monitoring
Dec 09,2016

Recognizing the importance of developing the online River Water and Air Quality Monitoring (WAQM) systems, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and Intel are collaborating to jointly initiate n++DST-Intel Collaborative Research for Real-Time River Water and Air Quality Monitoringn++ soliciting proposals from Academic/Research Institutions and providing grant-in-aid support to the selected project(s). Speaking on the occasion of Launch of the collaboration, Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Shri. Y.S.Chowdary said that it is joint programme of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

The Minister said that this programme is very critical for the restoration, conservation and preservation of the environment. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, top priority is being given to R & D in science and technology to come out with appropriate solutions to challenges facing the nation.

The Minister added that n++at the core of any initiative, we see the role of Science and Technology everywhere....n++. Elaborating on the DST-Intel collaboration, Shri Chowdary added that n++Global experience will come in handy to tackle local challenges.n++

The aim of this initiative is to develop key technologies for sensing, communication and analysis of large-scale data collected from autonomous networks of perpetual/long-lived sensor nodes, followed by integration and deployment for water and air quality monitoring in real-time. The program will be administered by the binational Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF). River systems have been the birthplace of civilizations all over the world. They are woven into the social and economic fabric of society and penetrate deep into the psyche of the people living around them. Nowhere is this more evident than in India where the Ganga, Indus, Narmada and other rivers possess the cultural identity transmitted down the ages through sacred literature, the Puranas and the Vedas, as well as through popular myths and legends.

The Ganga is the largest and the most important river of India, with its watershed covering 10 Indian states, namely Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. The river Ganga (commonly called as Bhagirathi in the stretch Gangotri to Devprayag and Hubli in the stretch Farakka to Ganga Sagar) occupies a unique position in the ethos of people of India. Emotional attachment to the river and the centers of pilgrimage on its banks runs deep and long in the Indian History.

Discharge of untreated sewage from urban centres is a major cause of water quality degradation in the river. The total wastewater generation from 222 towns in Ganga basin is reportedly 8250 MLD, out of which 2538 MLD is directly discharged into the River, 4491 MLD is disposed into its tributaries and 1220 MLD is disposed on land or low lying areas. River Yamuna is another one of the most grossly polluted rivers in the country.

Air pollution is another emerging public health concern as there is increasing amount of evidence that the quality of air significantly affects our health due to the presence of various toxic pollutants. Linking air pollution from source to adverse human health effects is a complicated phenomenon that requires a multidisciplinary approach for better understanding. Further, air quality networks need to be developed that can depict and forecast pollution levels for public with health advisories and pollution emergencies measure. It is well known that increasing levels of air pollution are linked with more illness, higher use of health services, and premature death among the exposed population groups. Further, both Household Air Pollution (HAP) and Outdoor Air Pollution (OAP) have reported to have largely detrimental effects on the quality of life.

The recent report of Global Burden of Disease (GBD) has ranked air pollution among the top ten killers in the world, and as the sixth largest killer in South Asia. In a study by UNEP-WHO, it was estimated that about 6.3 million deaths worldwide are caused by air pollution, out of which 3.3 million are due to OAP and 3.5 million due to HAP. There is increasing amount of evidence that the quality of air significantly affects our health due to the presence of various toxic pollutants and therefore air pollution is emerging as a major public health issue. GBD also estimated that air pollution causes 6,20,000 deaths everyyear making it the 5th leading cause of mortality in India.

One of the main causes of pollution in Delhi-NCR is high levels of Particulate Matter 10 (PM 10) and PM 2.5 particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that lead to hazardous smog and causes asthma and respiratory diseases. Air quality in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) worsened recently to alarming levels recording PM 2.5 reading of 500 on the air quality monitoring portals, putting the pollution level in the n++severen++ category.

In order to eliminate problems associated with manual water quality monitoring, DST and Intel have come together for development of state-of-art solutions for real-time river water quality monitoring. The goal of this research would be to enable the development and eventual deployment of low-cost, low-power, autonomous wireless sensor networks to provide a fine-grained view of several critical water and air quality metrics over large geographic areas (cities, rivers, watersheds etc.). These online sensor networks for river water and air quality monitoring will provide the pre-remedial quality status and would enable to assess efficacy of post remedial interventions based on real time reliable factual data. This real time data will significantly further strengthen and complement the Missions of National priority like Namami Gange Programme and others by serving as critical data feeders for pre and post treatment analysis.

Such networks may also eventually replace the current paradigm of environmental quality management via localized stations. The development of such an Internet of Things (IoT)-based solution will require innovations in sensor technology for miniaturized platforms for continuous, always-connected multi-modal sensing, ultra-low power radios for efficient communication and energy harvesting technologies to enable very long or perpetual operation of sensor nodes. These key blocks will need to be woven together by a data analytics framework that spans edge devices, gateways and cloud-based analytics, to enable inferencing and sense-making in a low-latency manner.

Speaking on the occasion, Jitendra Chaddah, Senior Director, Operations & Strategy, Intel India, said, n++Intel has been engaged in supporting innovation and technology research, aimed at creating solutions to help address different community challenges and improve quality of life. We are very excited to collaborate with Department of Science & Technology in this advanced research program that would bring prominent academic and research institutions together to work on technology breakthroughs that can positively impact human lives.n++

The development of such an end-to-end solution comprising of several individual research elements can also potentially impact environmental quality monitoring systems in diverse contexts such as urban, domestic and industrial settings.

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Himachal Pradesh becomes 18th State to join UDAY: an overall net benefit of approximately Rs. 823 crores to accrue to the State
Dec 08,2016

Government of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State of Himachal Pradesh and the State DISCOM under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY), the for operational and financial turnaround of the DISCOM. Himachal Pradesh is the 18th State to sign MoU under UDAY.

An overall net benefit of approximately Rs. 823 crores would accrue to the State by opting to participate in UDAY, by way of savings in interest cost, reduction in Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) and transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency etc. during the period of turnaround.

By signing the MOU under UDAY, the Government of Himachal Pradesh would take over Rs.2891 crores of DISCOM debt, being 75% of the total DISCOM debt of Rs.3854 crores outstanding as on 30.09.2015, as envisaged in the scheme. The scheme also provides for the balance debt of Rs.963 crores to be re-priced or issued as State guaranteed DISCOM bonds, at coupon rates around 3% less than the average existing interest rate. The annual saving in the interest cost to the State would be around Rs.140 crores on account of restructuring of the DISCOM debt.

UDAY not only focusses on bringing about financial turnaround of the DISCOMs, but also lays stress on improving operational efficiencies of the DISCOMs. In order to bring about a sustainable turnaround of the DISCOM, the State Government and the DISCOM will improve operational efficiency through compulsory Distribution Transformer metering, consumer indexing & GIS mapping of losses, upgrade/change transformers, meters etc., smart metering of high-end consumers, thereby bringing about reduction in transmission losses and AT&C losses, besides eliminating the gap between cost of supply of power and realization. The reduction in AT&C and transmission losses to 12.75% and 3.50% respectively is likely to bring additional revenue of around Rs.119 crores during the period of turnaround.

With the financial turnaround through financial and operational efficiencies, the rating of the DISCOM would improve, which would help them in raising cheaper funds for their future capital investment requirement. This is expected to provide interest cost saving of around Rs.6 crores to the DISCOM.

Demand Side interventions in UDAY such as usage of energy-efficient LED bulbs, agricultural pumps, fans & air-conditioners and efficient industrial equipment through PAT (Perform, Achieve, Trade) would help in reducing peak load, flatten load curve and thus help in reducing energy consumption in the State. The gain is expected to be around Rs.278 crores.

While efforts will be made by the State Government and the DISCOM to improve the operational efficiency of the DISCOM, and thereby reduce the cost of supply of power, the Central government would also provide incentives to the DISCOM and the State Government for improving Power infrastructure in the State and for further lowering the cost of power.

Central schemes such as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), Power Sector Development Fund (PSDF) or such other schemes of Ministries of Power and New & Renewable Energy are already providing funds for improving Power Infrastructure in the State and additional/priority funding would be considered under these schemes, if the State/DISCOM meet the operational milestones outlined in the scheme.

The ultimate benefit of signing the MOU would go to the people of Himachal Pradesh. Higher demand for power from DISCOM would mean higher Plant Load Factor (PLF) of Generating units and therefore, lesser cost per unit of electricity thereby benefitting consumers. The DISCOM would also increase power supply in areas with reduced AT&C losses. Availability of electricity would boost the economy, promote industries, thereby improving employment opportunities and see Himachal Pradesh develop into one of the leading industrialized States in India.

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Airlines to post another strong year of profits in 2017: IATA
Dec 08,2016

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that it expects the global airline industry to make a net profit in 2017 of $29.8 billion. On forecast total revenues of $736 billion, that represents a 4.1% net profit margin. This will be the third consecutive year (and the third year in the industrys history) in which airlines will make a return on invested capital (7.9%) which is above the weighted average cost of capital (6.9%).

IATA revised slightly downward its outlook for 2016 airline industry profitability to $35.6 billion (from the June projection of $39.4 billion) owing to slower global GDP growth and rising costs. This will still be the highest absolute profit generated by the airline industry and the highest net profit margin (5.1%).

Airlines continue to deliver strong results. This year we expect a record net profit of $35.6 billion. Even though conditions in 2017 will be more difficult with rising oil prices, we see the industry earning $29.8 billion. Thats a very soft landing and safely in profitable territory. These three years are the best performance in the industrys history - irrespective of the many uncertainties we face. Indeed, risks are abundant - political, economic and security among them. And controlling costs is still a constant battle in our hyper-competitive industry, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATAs Director General and CEO.

We need to put this into perspective. Record profits for airlines means earning more than our cost of capital. For most other businesses that would be considered a normal level of return to investors. But three years of sustainable profits is a first for the airline industry. And after many years of hard work in restructuring and re-engineering the business the industry is also more resilient. We should also recognize that profits are not evenly spread with the strongest performance concentrated in North America, said de Juniac.

2017

While airline industry profits are expected to have reached a cyclical peak in 2016 of $35.6 billion, a soft landing in profitable territory is expected in 2017 with a net profit of $29.8 billion. 2017 is expected to be the eighth year in a row of aggregate airline profitability, illustrating the resilience to shocks that have been built into the industry structure. On average, airlines will retain $7.54 for every passenger carried.

Expected higher oil prices will have the biggest impact on the outlook for 2017. In 2016 oil prices averaged $44.6/barrel (Brent) and this is forecast to increase to $55.0 in 2017. This will push jet fuel prices from $52.1/barrel (2016) to $64.9/barrel (2017). Fuel is expected to account for 18.7% of the industrys cost structure in 2017, which is significantly below the recent peak of 33.2% in 2012-2013.

The demand stimulus from lower oil prices will taper off in 2017, slowing traffic growth to 5.1% (from 5.9% in 2016). Industry capacity expansion is also expected to slow to 5.6% (down from 6.2% in 2016). Capacity growth will still outstrip the increase in demand, thus lowering the global passenger load factor to 79.8% (from 80.2% in 2016).

The negative impact of a lower load factor is expected to be offset somewhat by a strengthening of global economic growth. World GDP is projected to expand by 2.5% in 2017 (up from 2.2% in 2016). Along with structural changes in the industry, this is expected to help stabilize yields for both the cargo and passenger businesses. This is a welcome development as yields (calculated in dollar terms) have fallen each year since 2012.

There is some optimism over the prospects for the cargo business in 2017. The break in falling yields and a moderate uptick in demand (3.5%) will see cargo industry volumes reach a record high of 55.7 million tonnes (up from 53.9 million tonnes in 2016). Industry revenues are expected to rise slightly to $49.4 billion (still well below the $60 billion level of annual revenues experienced in 2010-2014). Trading conditions remain challenging.

Connectivity continues to set new records. We expect nearly 4 billion travelers and 55.7 million tonnes of cargo in the coming year. And almost 1% of global GDP is spent on air transport - some $769 billion. Air transport has made the world more accessible than ever and it is a critical enabler of the global economy, said de Juniac.

Governments, however, do not make aviations work easy. The global tax bill has ballooned to $123 billion. Over 60% of countries put visa barriers in the way of travel. And the total number of ticket taxes exceeds 230. Billions of dollars are wasted in direct costs and lost productivity as a result of inefficient infrastructure. These are only some of the hurdles which confront airlines. Our aim is to work in partnership to help governments better understand and fully maximize the social and economic benefits of efficient global air links, said de Juniac.

2017 Regional Analysis

North American carriers: The strongest financial performance is being delivered by airlines in North America. Net post-tax profits will be the highest at $18.1 billion next year, although down slightly from the $20.3 billion expected in 2016. The net margin for the regions carriers is also expected to be the strongest at 8.5% with an average profit of $19.58/passenger. In 2017 capacity offered by the regions carriers is expected to grow by 2.6%, slightly outpacing expected demand growth of 2.5%. Recent consolidation continues to underpin the regions strong profitability, even as the region faces upwards cost pressures which include the price of fuel.

European carriers: Airlines based in Europe are expected to post an aggregate net profit of $5.6 billion in 2017 which is below the $7.5 billion for 2016. Nonetheless, carriers there are forecast to generate a 2.9% net profit margin and a per passenger profit of $5.65. There remains a significant gap between the performance of the regions carriers and the performance of North American ones. Capacity in 2017 is expected to grow by 4.3%, ahead of demand growth which is forecast at 4.0%. The region is subject to intense competition and hampered by high costs, onerous regulation and high taxes. And terrorist threats remain a real risk, even if confidence is starting to return after the tragic incidents in recent times.

Asia-Pacific carriers: Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to generate a net profit of $6.3 billion in 2017 (down from $7.3 billion in 2016) for a net margin of 2.9%. On a per passenger basis average profits are anticipated to be $4.44. Capacity offered by the regions carriers is forecast to grow by 7.6%, ahead of a forecast growth in demand of 7.0%. Improved cargo performance is expected to offset rising fuel prices for many of the regions airlines. The expansion of new model airlines and progressive liberalization in the region is intensifying already strong competition. In addition profitability varies widely across the region.

Middle Eastern carriers: Middle Eastern airlines are forecast to generate a net profit of $0.3 billion for a net margin of 0.5% and an average profit per passenger of $1.56. This is below the $900 million profit expected in 2016. Average yields for the regions carriers are low but unit costs are even lower, partly driven by the strong capacity expansion, forecast at 10.1% this year, ahead of expected demand growth of 9.0%. Threats are emerging to the success story of the Gulf carriers, including increases in airport charges across the Gulf States and growing air traffic management delays.

Latin American carriers: Latin American airlines are expected to post a net profit of $200 million, which is slightly lower than the $300 million forecast for 2016. Profit per passenger is expected to be $0.76 with a net profit margin of 0.7%. Capacity offered by the regions carriers is forecast to grow by 4.8% which is ahead of ex

EPFO Takes Steps to Cover Contract Workers in Government Departments
Dec 08,2016

A sub-committee of Central Board of Trustees, EPF met on 7th November 2016. The committee noted that the coverage of contract workers increased from 89.25 lakh to 1.02 crore. The Committee however further noted that large number of contact workers in the country still remain deprived of PF benefits. This is because many Central Government Departments/ Organizations do not come under the purview of the EPF and MP Act, 1952. Considering the social security as the basic right of all workers, it decided to recommend to the Government of India for cancellation of exclusion to such categories, including Indian Railways.

The Committee noted that transfer of accounts of contract workers is now possible through Universal Account Number (UAN). It was decided to encourage contract workers to make full use of Aadhaar seeded UAN, upon change of every employment for consolidating their EPF money. The Committee also recommended to the Government to consider increase in the wage ceiling under EPFO to Rs. 25,000 per month from the existing Rs. 15,000 per month.

Zonal review meeting of Additional Central P.F. Commissioners was held on 26th November 2016. All Zonal Addl. PF Commissioners were advised to take up with the State Government for further asking State PSUs, State Corporations, State Government Departments, State PWDs etc. to ensure coverage of all contract workers.

With Aadhaar backed UAN, a number of direct services to EPF members are made available like submission of claim directly with EPFO without employers attestation. At present, out of 8.11 cores UAN issued by EPFO, 2.01 crore Aadhaar numbers of members have been uploaded in UAN database. For creating awareness on benefits of Aadhaar seeding with UAN, EPFO will conduct country wide awareness programme so as to ensure seeding of all UAN with Aadhaar by December end. Beginning December, ECR version 2.0 will be launched. This will further facilitate auto transfer of UAN linked accounts.

An enduring issue with EPFO, has been enrolment of all eligible workers. At present, EPFO has 4 crore contributing workers. EPFO proposes to launch a six months enrolment campaign during 1st January 2017 to 30th June 2017 to enroll all the eligible workers. This campaign will also focus on linking UAN to Aadhaar.

The last date of submission of life certificate by pensioners under Employees Pension Scheme, 1995 has been extended upto 15th January 2017. There are around 54 lakh pensioners with EPFO.

EPFO is focusing its attention on next phase of computerization so that services to members, pensioners and establishments can be made seamless and digitized. The field offices data base is being centralized to operate from the central computing facility. Consolidation of field offices database commenced in October and so far 26 offices of EPFO have migrated to the consolidated database of the Central Data Centre. The computerization reforms includes facilitating submission of online claims as well as Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY). ECR 2.0, UAN 2.0 and PMRPY services will be made operational from December 2016.

A stakeholder engagement meeting from industry was held on 29th November 2016. Representatives from PHDCCI, CII, ASSOCHAM and FICCI attended the meeting. In the meeting, the new version of Electronic-challan-cum Return (ECR 2.0) and UAN 2.0 were explained and the need of enrolment of all eligible workers with EPFO and linking of UAN with Aadhaar was impressed. The representatives received the idea well.

The Executive Committee, CBT, EPF was reconstituted on 24th November 2016. Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Labour & Employment is the Chairperson of the Executive Committee. The 87th meeting of the Executive Committee, CBT, EPF is scheduled to held on 12th December 2016.

EPFO settled 18,501 grievances during the month leaving 3,153 pending. Out of the pending grievances, 82% were pending for less than 07 days.

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Inflow of Funds into Jan Dhan Accounts not alarming
Dec 08,2016

Since the time the Government has alerted people not to allow their accounts, particularly Jan Dhan accounts, to be used by others for the purpose of converting their black money, there has been a considerable decrease in the inflow of funds in Jan Dhan accounts. In the first week after the decision on currency notes was announced, i.e. 8th to 15th November, the total deposits received in Jan Dhan accounts was Rs.20,206 crores. In the second week, between 16th to 22nd November, the flow was Rs.11,347crores. And in the third week between 23rd to 30th November, it was reduced to Rs.4867 crores.

On 1st and 2nd December, the inflow into Jan Dhan account has now been reduced to Rs.410 crores and Rs.389 crores respectively. The average per account deposit in Jan Dhan accounts is Rs.13,113/- for this entire period from 8th November to 2nd December, which is not alarming, given the need to bring all cash to banks.

The Income Tax Department has identified the local clusters and Bank branches where the inflow of Jan Dhan deposits have been more than normal, in order to investigate money deposits in Jan Dhan accounts which belonged to somebody else. .

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Cabinet approves Nutrient Based Subsidy rates for Phosphatic and Potassic fertilizers for the year 2016-17
Dec 08,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of half yearly review of Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers for the year 2016-17.

Accordingly, in the interest of farmers, it has been decided to roll over the existing subsidy rates as given below for another six months till the end of the financial year 2016-17. 

It has also been decided to ensure that any fall in the international prices should be reflected by the fertilizers companies with subsequent reduction in MRPs.

(Per Kg subsidy rates in Rs.)

PeriodN

(Nitrogen)

P (Phosphorus)K

(Potash)

S

(Sulphur)

2nd half of FY 2016-17 (from October16 to March17)15.85413.24115.4702.044

With fall in international prices, the MRP of P&K fertilizers was reduced in July 2016. The fertilizer companies reduced the 50 Kg. bag prices of Muriate of Potash (MOP) by Rs. 250, Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) by Rs. 125 and Complex fertilizers by Rs. 50.

This is expected to result in increase in consumption of P&K fertilizers which will result in balanced fertilization.  As a result the yield from the crops will increase resulting in enhanced income to the farmers.

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PMFBY has provided coverage to 366.64 lakh farmers (26.50%) & at this rate it is likely to exceed target of 30% coverage for both Kharif & Rabi season
Dec 08,2016

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) launched in the country from Kharif 2016 has made impressive progress in the first season itself. As on date the scheme has provided coverage to 366.64 lakh farmers (26.50%) and at this rate it is likely to exceeding the target of 30% coverage for both Kharif and Rabi seasons in 2016-17.

In terms of total area covered the achievement has been significant amounting to a total area of 388.62 lakh ha. and sum insured of Rs. 141339 crore. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana was recast as a new scheme by the Government as the earlier existing insurance schemes were not meeting the full requirements of the farmers for insurance coverage.

The performance this season has improved by 18.50% in terms of farmers coverage, 15% in terms of area coverage and 104% in terms of sum insured in comparison to Kharif 2015, which happened to be one of the worst drought affected seasons when the number of farmers covered was 309 lakh (22.33%), total area coverage was 339 lakh ha. and sum insured was Rs. 69307 crore. The performance in Kharif 2016 is better despite the fact that there were teething issues to begin with. For instance, many States did the bidding process for selection of the insurance companies for concerned clusters for the first time and consequently, the notification of the scheme was delayed in a number of States.

The achievements in Kharif 2016 as compared to Kharif 2015 are notable specially as in Kharif 2015 in most of the States the cut-off date for availing insurance for loanee farmers was 30th September, 2016 and the enrolment under crop insurance shot up after prolonged spell of drought, whereas this year has been one of normal monsoons and window for availing insurance was much smaller with the cut-off date for availing insurance being 31st July, 2016, which was later extended to 10th of August, 2016.

Furthermore there has been a quantum jump of more than 6 times in the coverage of non-loanee farmers from 14.88 lakh in Kharif 2015 to 102.6 lakh in Kharif 2016, which shows that the scheme has been well received by the non-loanee segment. Another significant achievement in this season has been 104% enhancement in sum insured. This was made possible as PMFBY mandates that the sum insured must be equal to the Scale of Finance and therefore, reflects better risk coverage of farmers in comparison to earlier schemes.

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815.667 lakh Earmarked for J&K under National AYUSH Mission: Shri Shripad Yesso Naik
Dec 08,2016

Under Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission (NAM), resource pool of Rs.815.667 lakhs (Rs. 734.10 lakhs as Central Share and Rs. 81.567 lakhs as State Share) has been allocated to Jammu & Kashmir during current year. However, there is no State/UT-wise allocation under Central Sector Schemes.

Further, the following steps have been taken by the Government to promote AYUSH in the Country including Jammu & Kashmir:

1. Under Central Sector Scheme of Information Education and Communication (IEC) provides for propagation of AYUSH systems of medicine in the country by creating awareness amongst the citizens about the efficacy of the AYUSH systems of medicine through various media and other publicity activities including organizing Arogya Fairs, participation in AYUSH related Fairs, organizing Workshops, Seminars on AYUSH systems of medicine.

2. Under National AYUSH Mission (NAM), the following provisions have been made for promotion of AYUSH in the Country including Jammu & Kashmir:

(i) Co-location of AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centers (PHCs), Community Health Centers (CHCs) and Districts Hospitals (DHs).

(ii) Upgradation of exclusive State Government AYUSH Hospitals and Dispensaries.

(iii) Setting up of upto 50 bedded integrated AYUSH Hospital.

(iv) Upgradation of State Government Under-Graduate and Post-Graduate Educational Institutions.

(v) Setting up of new State Government AYUSH Educational Institutions in the States where it is not available in Government Sector.

(vi) Strengthening of State Government/State Government Co-operatives / Public Sector Undertakings Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy (ASU&H) Pharmacies

(vii) Strengthening of State Drug Testing Laboratories for ASU &H Drugs

(viii) Support for Medicinal Plant including processing and post-harvest management.

The Central Government has introduced the following Centrally Sponsored and Central Sector Schemes in the country:

1. Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission (NAM).

2. Central Sector Scheme for promotion of information, education, and communication (IEC) in AYUSH.

3. Central Sector Scheme of Centres of Excellence (COE).

4. Central Sector Scheme for Development of AYUSH Clusters.

5. Central Sector Scheme for Promotion of AYUSH interventions in Public Health Initiatives (PHI).

6. Central Sector Scheme of Continuing Medical Education (CME).

7. Central Sector Scheme of Extra Mural Research (EMR).

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Cabinet approves Reforms to Boost Employment Generation and Exports in the Made-ups Sector
Dec 08,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the reforms to boost employment generation and exports in the Made-ups Sector.

The following interventions have been approved in a time bound manner within the approved budget of Rs. 6,006 crore for the apparel package with the objective of creating large scale direct and indirect employment of upto 11 lakh persons over the next three years in the made-ups sector:-

1. Providing production incentive through enhanced Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) subsidy of additional 10% for Made-ups similar to what is provided to garments based on the additional production and employment after a period of 3 years.

2. Extension of Pradhan Mantri Paridhan Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMPRPY) Scheme (for apparel) to made-ups sector for providing additional 3.67% share of Employers contribution in addition to 8.33% already covered under Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) for all new employees enrolling in EPFO for the first three years of their employment as a special incentive to Made-ups sector

3. Extension of Rebate of State Levies (ROSL) (for apparel) Scheme to made-ups sector for enhanced Duty Drawback on exports of Made-ups.

4. Simplification of labour laws:

(i) Increasing permissible overtime up to 100 hours per quarter in Made-ups manufacturing sector,

(ii) Making employees contribution to EPF optional for employees earning less than Rs 15,000 per month.

The interventions are expected to boost employment in the textile sector and create employment for upto eleven lakh persons, lead to increase in exports and enhance benefits to the workers in the textile and apparel sector.

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Expansion of the mandate of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project Implementation Trust Fund
Dec 08,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the expansion of the mandate of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project Implementation Trust Fund (DMIC-PITF Trust) and its re-designation as National Industrial Corridor Development & Implementation Trust (NICDIT) for integrated development of Industrial Corridors with permission to utilize financial assistance already sanctioned and sanction of additional amount of Rs.1584 crore within extended period up to 31 March 2022.

There is an existing approval for expenditure of Rs. 18,500 crore, out of which the unspent balance yet to be released to DMIC-PITF will be utilised by NICDIT. A further sum of Rs. 1584 crore for project development activities of four additional corridors and NICDITs administrative expenses upto 31 March 2022 has been provided.

The five Industrial corridors presently cover the States, namely, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu.

NICDIT would be an apex body under the administrative control of DIPP for coordinated and unified development of all the industrial corridors in the country. It will channelize Gol funds as well as institutional funds while ensuring that the various corridors are properly planned and implemented keeping in view the broad national perspectives regarding industrial and city development, and will support project development activities, appraise, approve and sanction projects. It will coordinate all central efforts for the development of Industrial Corridor projects and will monitor their implementation.

DMICDC will function as a knowledge partner to NICDIT in respect of all the Industrial Corridors in addition to its present DMIC work, till Knowledge Partner(s) for other Industrial Corridors are in place.

An Apex Monitoring Authority under the chairpersonship of the Finance Minister will be constituted to periodically review the activities of NICDIT and progress of the projects. It will consist of Minister-in-charge of Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Minister of Railways, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Minister of Shipping, Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog and Chief Ministers of States concerned as Members.

The Board of Trustees of NICDIT will consist of (i) Chairperson - Secretary, DIPP, (ii) Secretary, Department of Expenditure, (iii) Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, (iv) Secretary, Road Transport & Highways, (v) Secretary, Shipping (vi) Chairman, Railway Board, (vii) CEO, NITI Aayog, and (viii) Member Secretary, who will act as full time CEO of NICDIT. CEO, DMICDC will also function as Member Secretary/ CEO of the NICDIT.

The formation of the NICDIT will enable development and implementation of Industrial Corridor Projects across India by bringing in holistic planning and development approach and sharing the learning from development of Industrial Corridors, which will enable innovation in areas such as planning, design development and funding of such projects. This will help enhance the share of manufacturing in the country, attract investment in manufacturing and service industry sectors, which will have a catalytic effect on up-gradation and development of skills of the workforce and generation of employment opportunities.

Details and progress of schemes already running:

(i) Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is the first such Industrial Corridor, approved by the Union Cabinet in 2011 with a grant of Rs. 17,500 crore as Project Implementation Fund, and an additional corpus of Rs. 1000 Crore for Project Development activities, to be provided over a period of five years for seven industrial cities in Phase-I of the project, Government of Japan has committed US$ 4.5 billion investment in the first phase of DMIC project.

Construction work in four industrial cities/townships namely, Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR) near Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Shendra- Bidkin Industrial Park near Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Integrated Industrial Township Project, Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh and Integrated Industrial Township Vila-am Udyogpuri near Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. Other Projects under DMIC are at different stages of project planning and development.

(ii) Chennai- Bengalutu Industrial Corridor (CBIC): As per initial master planning, three Nodes, namely, Tumkur (Karnataka), Krishnapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Ponneri (Tamil Nadu) have been identified for development.

(iii) Bengaluru Mumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC):- State Government of Karnataka has identified Dharwad Node for Development. The Government of Maharashtra has given in principle approval for Development of a node in Sangli or Solapur Districts.

(iv) Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC) will use Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) of Railways as the backbone and the highway system that exist on this route. It is planned in such a way that there would be Integrated Manufacturing Clusters (IMCs) in each of the Seven State namely Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

The BMEC and AKIC projects are at early stages of project development.

(v) Vizag Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC):- In compliance of the commitment made by the Central Government in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, it was decided by the Department of Economic Affairs, Government of India that Asian Development Bank (ADB) which had been getting a feasibility study done in r/o East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC) will also take up the study of VCIC as Phase I of ECEC. ADB team has since submitted the final report regarding Conceptual Development Plan (CDP) of VCIC. The process of Master Planning of the four nodes namely, Vishakhapalnam, Machilipatnam, Donakonda and Srikalahasti-Yerpedu of Andhra Pradesh, as identified by ADB in their CDP commenced in March 2016 and is likely to be completed by March 2017.

Background

To accelerate the growth in manufacturing and for ensuring scientifically planned urbanization, Government of India (Gol) has adopted the strategy of developing integrated Industrial Corridors in partnership with State Governments with focus on manufacturing. Five Corridors namely, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC), Amritsar Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIG), Bengaluru- Mumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC) and Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC) have been planned for development by Government of India.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and United Kingdom (UK) to support Ease of Doing Business in India
Dec 08,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to the MoU between India and United Kingdom (UK) to support Ease of Doing Business in India. The MoU was signed earlier this month.

The MoU shall enable exchange of officials from both the Governments to facilitate sharing of best practises, offering technical assistance and enhanced implementation of reforms. The collaboration shall also cover State Governments in its ambit. The UK government has shown interest to offer expertise in the following areas:

a) Support to small businesses and start ups

b) Starting business and registration

c) Paying taxes and tax administration

d) Insolvency

e) Construction permits

f) Getting electricity

g) Risk based framework for inspection and regulatory regimes

h) Trading across the borders

i) Competition economics

j) Getting credit

k) Drafting of laws and regulations

I) Reducing stock and flow of regulation

m) Impact assessment of regulations

Currently, India is ranked 130th out of 190 economies (as per Doing Business Report, 2017). The UK Government has achieved phenomenal improvement in Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) rankings in recent years. The beneficiaries include the officials from Central Government Ministries / Departments and State Governments through sharing of best practises, capacity building etc. Each side shall bear the cost of travel and logistics for its officials as well as for co-hosting trainings/ seminar/conferences.

The MoU shall facilitate various agencies of the UK government to offer professional courses on better regulation drafting for officials, capacity-building of frontline inspectors, sharing of best practises, etc. The collaboration is expected to expedite adoption of innovative practises by the Government of India, State Governments and their agencies leading to easing of regulatory environment in the country and fostering of conducive business climate in India.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and United Kingdom (UK) for Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property
Dec 08,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to the MoU between India and United Kingdom (UK) for Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property (IP). The MoU was signed on 7 November 2016.

The MoU seeks to establish a wide-ranging and flexible mechanism for developing and furthering the cooperation in the development of automation, new documentation and information systems in IP. It provides an opportunity for collaboration in training programmes, exchange of experts and technical exchanges and outreach activities.

Implementation of the MoU will result in enhancement of the capacity of the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks to examine patent applications, which in turn will impact innovation positively.

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