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Govt. incentivizing job creation by pegging EPF contribution rate at 8.3% for recruiting fresh employees
May 17,2016

The government has incentivized job creation by pegging the EPF contribution rate at 8.3% for new employees. This has been done in view of the need to create one crore jobs by next year. This was stated by Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya, Minister of State for Ministry of Labour & Employment (IC), Government of India.

Mr. Dattareya said that dignity of labor was of utmost importance therefore the new labour codes were being formulated in four areas namely wages, industrial relations, social security and working conditions to strengthen safety and social security of workers. He added that these codes would simplify, amalgamate and rationalize the relevant provisions of the central labour laws.

The Minister said that the reforms in the sector needed to be fast-paced for which the government had initiated egovernance expediting the processes and developing better industrial relations. He added that ease of doing business was one of the foremost agendas of the Ministry; hence processes were being simplified.

Mr. Dattareya said that his Ministry gives high importance to the tripartite mechanism. Promoting sound and harmonious industrial relations and better understanding between employers and workers and growth and development of industry, social dialogue between the three social partners i.e. government, employers and trade unions are critical for the development of the country.

The Minister underlined that more than 90% of the workforce in the country was in the unorganized sector. Hence the government had planned to bring these workers in the organized sector in phases. In the first phase all construction workers in the country would be brought under the ambit of the organized sector.

Mr. Dattareya felicitated the winners of the Best Industrial Relations Awards 2014-15. Tata Steel Limited secured the first position, followed by Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited and J K Lakshmi Cement Limited. Tata Steel Limited made a presentation highlighting the industrial relations best practices followed by the company.

Mr. Sanjay Bhatia, President, AIOE, said that AIOE fully supports Governments new initiative like Make in India and Stand-up India to provide fillip to the manufacturing sector, gearing up employment generation and entrepreneurship development. But, it would require simple, flexible and growth oriented labour policy replacing the existing archaic and rigid policy regime.

Bhatia said that The Small Factories (Condition of Service) Draft Bill, 2014 is yet to be introduced in the Parliament. It had proposed a number of measures to cut through cumbersome and avoidable paperwork to seek multiple compliances, providing relief to entrepreneurs and improving ease of doing business. He requested the ministry to kindly introduce the Bill at the earliest possible.

Mr. Gaurav Swarup, President Elect, AIOE, said that the initiatives by the government to introduce the IR code had created a positive working culture and should be taken to its logical conclusion. These amendments pending for a long time have made investors to shy away, and look for investment opportunities in the neighboring countries. On behalf of AIOE, he assured that the employers will do their best to ensure an environment of growth and social harmony in the country.

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India and Belarus target to achieve $1 billion trade by 2018
May 17,2016

The trade between India and Belarus stands at around $450 million and the two nations are now aiming to take this number to $1 billion by 2018. To achieve this target and a high turnover there was a need to effectively implement the existing roadmap for cooperation. The two nations should focus on renewable energy, pharmaceuticals and bio-tech, automotive industry, hi-tech and food sectors as these offer ample opportunities for investment and trade.

This was stated by Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chairman of the Council of the Republic of National Assembly, Republic of Belarus, at an interactive session organized by FICCI in association with the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in India.

Visiting with his business delegation from Belarus, Myasnikovich called upon the Indian and Belarusian industry to promote interregional cooperation in an active manner. He assured that Belarus would help in transfer of technology, making India a technologically-advanced country.

He said that in Belarus four pharmaceutical production projects are being carried out jointly with Indian investors. Together with potential Indian partners Belarussian leading world-famous industrial companies are working on establishing manufacturing facilities in India.

Underlining the challenges faced by the Indian and Belarusian businesses, G V Srinivas, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, said that communication gap, visa issuance and flight connectivity, were some of the concerns. He added that in todays day and age, communication gap can be easily bridged with the help of technology. On visa issuance and flight connectivity, Srinivas said that the two sides were aware of the issues and were working towards resolving it.

Andrei Hrynkevich, Head of Asia, Australia & Oceania, Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belarus, said that a highly skilled workforce, geographical position of Belarus and rapid economic development with a favorable investment climate made Belarus a good destination for investment. He added that with an industrially developed economy, well-developed transport and communications infrastructure, perfect access to different markets, Belarus is an attractive nation for international trade.

Vitaly Prima, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Belarus, said that there was a need for stimulating economic activities between India and Belarus. The B2B meetings were a great opportunity for exploring new areas of cooperation and forging partnerships and in entering feasible projects.

Mikhail Myatlikov, Chairman, Belarus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that there was a need for a framework for economic partnership to achieve the set target of $1 billion by 2018. He added that Belarus was one of the leaders among the CIS countries according to the level of economic development and offered business opportunities in various sectors.

Rakesh Bakshi, Chairman and Managing Director, RRB Energy Limited, said that to achieve the target of $1 billion trade between the two countries by 2018, India and Belarus need to de create a roadmap with clearly defines tangibles and deliverables. He added that pharmaceuticals, clean energy, defence and heavy engineering, were some of the key sectors where both the countries could establish fruitful associations.

On the occasion, a numbers of agreements and Memorandum of Understanding were signed between the India and Belarusian companies.

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ADB, Partners Sign Collaboration Agreement to Strengthen Country Safeguards
May 17,2016

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and development partners have signed a collaboration agreement to help strengthen country safeguard systems in Asia and the Pacific. The use of a countrys own laws, regulations, and institutions for approval of projects funded by the development partners has been a long-term goal of all the institutions. The agreement reaffirms the partners joint commitment for working together to achieve this.

The Principles of Collaboration for Country Safeguard Systems was signed by ADB, fellow members of the Development Partners Safeguard Coordination Committee, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the World Bank during the International Association for Impact Assessment conference held in Nagoya, Japan on 12 May 2016.

n++Safeguards are integral to ADB and its partners goal of socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth,n++ said Herath Gunatilake, Director of the ADB Environment and Safeguards Division. n++As such, this agreement is a major step forward in reaching the goal of using country safeguard systems.n++

Mutual collaboration with more information sharing will prevent duplication of activities and foster synergy. Working together will also allow ADB and its partners to utilize their financial resources more effectively and to capitalize on each others comparative advantages.

As part of the agreement, ADB and its partners will meet as required to provide regular updates on the results of their country safeguards programs, and likely future strategies and areas of work.

The agreement builds on previous commitments by ADB and its partners to help developing member countries improve their legal and regulatory systems and to strengthen their capacity for implementing safeguards. In 2012 ADB, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australia, JICA, and the World Bank established the regional Joint Community of Practice on Safeguards, which has carried out activities including joint training, studies, and knowledge sharing. Two learning centers have been established in the Philippines and Viet Nam for undertaking capacity building on safeguards. Two more centers are planned for Indonesia and The Pacific.

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Retail prices of primary articles continue to benign in coming months due to the effect of delayed monsoon on agriculture which has brought in drought
May 17,2016

Apex industry body ASSOCHAM stated that upward movement in wholesale price index (WPI) was likely due to the commitment shown by the Centre to support industry together with the recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) policy stance to reduce interest rates to kick start investment and credit cycle.

n++Price of products of national interest including pulses, food articles, cereals, and wheat have been continuously rising, the policymakers should check and address this through supply side responses,n++ said Mr Sunil Kanoria, president of The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Going by sectoral composition, index of primary articles rose due to pulses, potato, non food articles, fibres, oil seeds and index of manufactured products rose due to food products, sugar, edible oils, beverages, tobacco and tobacco products.

n++Retail prices of primary articles continue to benign in coming months due to the effect of delayed monsoon on agriculture which has brought in drought condition in several states, but RBI needs to look at generalized deflationary pressures shown by WPI till March 2017 that the consumer price index (CPI) may not adequately capture,n++ said Mr Kanoria.

n++The April 2016 WPI figures may give some relief to manufacturers and producers which was limiting their potential to increase their pricing power and profitability,n++ he added.

n++While inflation represented by the CPI for monetary policy is within the target level of the union government and the RBI, therefore the focus of the policymakers should now shift to revive gross domestic product (GDP), investor sentiment, consumer sentiment and industrial growth, especially the poor performance of manufacturing sector, capital goods and consumer non-durable goods as seen in the recent index of industrial production (IIP) numbers needs to be looked into immediately,n++ further said the ASSOCHAM chief.

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Food Inflation Continues to Drive WPI Inflation
May 17,2016

Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation came in at 0.3% in April 2016 as against India Ratings and Researchs (Ind-Ra) expectation of negative 0.4%. WPI has turned positive following 17 consecutive months of negative growth. WPI based inflation entering into positive territory though was anticipated, it came a month or two earlier than Ind-Ras expectation.

Like Consumer Price Index, once again the key driver of WPI inflation for the month of April was food inflation. Pulses continue to be the sore point so far as food inflation is concerned. At 36.4% in April 2016, pulses inflation has remained in excess of 30% now for 11 consecutive months. Another disturbing feature of April WPI data is the double-digit inflation in potato and sugar. Inflation in both these items was in a moderate single-digit a month ago. In fact, potato was witnessing deflation till February 2016 and sugar till January 2016. A spurt in potato and sugar prices in April 2016 shows that the aberration in the prices of select agricultural commodities from time to time due to supply shocks can be quite destabilising for inflation and inflationary expectation in India, making management of food inflation a much more challenging job than previously believed. Food inflation rose to 4.2% in April 2016 from 3.7% in March 2016. Deflation in fruit and vegetable prices moderated to 0.5% from 2.2% in the previous month. Vegetable prices rose to 2.2% in April 2016 from negative 2.3% in March 2016. Manufactured food products inflation increased to 8% in April 2016 from 4.5% in March 2016.

Ind-Ra, therefore, believes a rate cut in the Reserve Bank of Indias June 2016 policy review is ruled out. Although the agency still expects at least one more rate cut this fiscal, this will be contingent upon the monsoon and how it plays out.

Manufactured products inflation increased to 0.7% in April from negative 0.1% in March 2016, after 13 months of consecutive contraction. So far as the return of manufacturing inflation to positive territory is concerned, it is still early to believe that this is indicative of the return of pricing power for the manufacturing sector. We may have to wait for a trend to emerge on this account. However, core inflation (non-food manufactured products) came in negative at 0.8% as against negative 1.1% in the previous month. Some of the major manufactured items/groups that posted positive price growth in April 2016 are machinery and machine tools (0.1% in April from negative 0.1% in March 2016). Deflation in basic metals, alloys, and metal products moderated to 4.6% in April 2016 from 5.4% March 2016.

Deflation in fuel and power component of WPI continued for the 18th consecutive month. However, deflation in fuel and power prices moderated to 4.8% in April 2016 from 8.3% in March 2016. The contraction in petrol prices moderated to 4.2% in April 2016 as against a contraction of 9.9% in the previous month.

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DebtFX: Growth-Inflation Conundrum Intensifies
May 17,2016

Sentiments in both debt and currency markets are expected to turn cautious because of the recent release of inflation data, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). This week, the 10-year benchmark yield is likely to be in the range of 7.44%-7.50% (7.44% at previous weeks close) while the rupee might range between 66.40-67.10/USD range (66.77/USD at previous weeks close).

Bond Market Range to Inch Up: The data on Consumer Price Index inflation and Wholesale Price Index inflation for April 2016 show a considerable uptick in overall inflation, mostly driven by food components. The Consumer Price Index for April 2016 came at 5.39% (March 2016: 4.83%). Wholesale Price Index for April 2016 entered into positive territory at 0.34% after 17 months. This higher-than-expected inflation number practically rules out scope for rate cut in the next policy in June 2016, although the near-term expectation for a rate cut was anyway low. On the other hand, the Index of Industrial Production came in lower at 0.1% yoy for March 2016.

The higher inflation number and forecasted delay in monsoon arrival at southern part of the country by the meteorological authority do not augur well for sentiments in the capital market. However, Ind-Ra expects an open market operation (OMO) purchase in the coming fortnight could check the spike in yield, with the benchmark yield staying in the 7.42%-7.50% range.

Scope for OMO Purchases: As highlighted in the last week, overall systemic liquidity deficit has inched up caused by an increase in the currency in circulation (CIC), building up government cash balances to around INR300bn due to monthly tax flows. With the increase in leakages due to higher CIC, the core liquidity infusion by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) increased to 0.85% of net demand and time liabilities compared to the last weeks average of 0.65%. Ind-Ra expects the systemic liquidity requirement to increase further in the coming fortnight due to a further increase in CIC, which may necessitate another OMO purchase.

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13 more cities asked to ensure Online sanction of building permits this year
May 17,2016

To enhance the ease of doing business in construction sector, Ministry of Urban Development has asked 13 more cities with airports to enable integrated Online approval of Building Plans during the current financial year. These 13 cities are among the 15 cities for which the Airports Authority of India has evolved Colour Coded Zoning Maps for according No Objection Certificates in respect of height of construction projects. The other two cities viz., Delhi and Mumbai have already enabled Online approvals based on a Common Application Form.

Shri Durga Shankar Misra, Additional Secretary(UD) reviewed the status of these 13 cities in this regard with Municipal Commissioners of most of these cities and urged them to facilitate integrated Online approvals during this financial year.

It was informed that Hyderabad would be ready with Online platform by the end of this month and would soon enable integration with other agencies like Airports Authority of India, National Monuments Authority etc, thereafter.

Under Smart Raj programme of Rajasthan, Online platforms for Jaipur and all other cities would be ready within two months and the same would be operationalized after trials in the next two months.

Kolkata has introduced Online system from April this year and integration with other agencies to enable Common Application Form will be taken up.

Nagpur would adopt the Online model introduced by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai at the earliest.

Amritsar has already developed Online system which is under trial for operationalization next month and integration with other agencies will be taken up soon.

Other cities being encouraged to go Online are : Bengaluru, Patna, Aurangabad, Chennai, Kochi, Guwahati, Ahmedabad and Lucknow.

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Dairy provides livelihood to 60 million farmers in India Shri Radha Mohan Singh
May 17,2016

Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister has mentioned that livelihood of 60 million rural households depend upon dairy sector. Out of this, two third are small, marginal and landless labourers.

Agriculture and farmers Welfare Minister mentioned that India is a global leader amongst dairying nations and produced 160.35 million tonnes of milk during 2015-16. The dairy cooperatives of the country have the singular distinction of providing seventy five percent of their sales, on an average, to the farmers.

Shri Singh informed that as many as 75 million women are engaged in the sector as against 15 million men. There is an increasing trend towards participation of women in livestock development activities. This has led to empowerment of women-headed households in the rural communities.

Agriculture and farmers Welfare Minister has mentioned that India with 30 crore bovines has 18% of the worlds bovine population. Cattle Genetic Resources have been evolved by the farmers/cattle rearers/breeders using traditional and scientific knowledge, and today we have 39 breeds of cattle.

Shri Singh informed that indigenous breeds are robust and resilient and are particularly suited to the climate and environment of their respective breeding tracts. They are endowed with qualities of heat tolerance, resistance to diseases and the ability to thrive under extreme climates and low plane of nutrition.

Agriculture and farmers Welfare Minister stated that studies of impact of Climate Change and effect of temperature rise on milk production of dairy animals indicates that temperature rise due to global warming will negatively impact milk production. The decline in milk production and reproductive efficiency will be highest in exotic and crossbred cattle followed by buffaloes. Indigenous breeds will be least effected by global warming. In order to develop heat tolerant and disease resistant stock countries including United States of America, Brazil and Australia have imported our indigenous breeds.

Shri Singh also stated that the indigenous breeds of cows are known to produce A2 type protein rich milk which protects us from various chronic health problems such as Cardio Vascular Diseases, Diabetes and neurological disorders besides providing several other health benefits. Earlier Honble Minister has spoken with scientists and people engaged in marketing of Milk were of opinion the A2A2 rich milk should be separately marketed in the country. Honble Minister informed the house that Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries has sanctioned Rs. 2 cr each to Odisha and Karnataka for marketing of A2A2 rich Milk of our indigenous breeds.

Agriculture and farmers Welfare Minister informed that the potential to enhance the productivity of the indigenous bovine breeds of India through professional farm management and superior nutrition is immense. For the first time in the country, Rastriya Gokul Mission has been initiated under National Programme for Bovine Breeding and Dairy Development to take up development and conservation of indigenous breeds in a focused and scientific manner. Under the Scheme 35 projects with an allocation of Rs. 582.09 cr has been sanctioned.

Shri Singh informed the august gathering that funds have been sanctioned for establishment of 14 Gokul Grams under Rastriya Gokul Mission. For this first instalment has already been released to the States. Minister further informed that funds have been sanctioned for strengthening of 35 bull mother farms of indigenous breeds including Yak and Mithun. First instalment for strengthening Bull Mother Farms has already been disbursed to the States.

Agriculture and farmers Welfare Minister further informed the House that funds have been sanctioned for field performance recording of 1,50,000 animals of indigenous bovine breeds and first instalment has also been disbursed to the States. Honble Minister informed for pure breeding in the breeding tracts. For upgrading, the non-descript cattle population, 3,629 bulls have been inducted for natural service. Honble Minister informed that for production of frozen semen, 65 high genetic merit disease free bulls have been inducted at semen stations. Bull production programme of indigenous breeds for natural service have been inducted by the States of Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat.

Shri Singh further added that most of the countries have National Breeding Centre at the National level. For the first time in the country to take up holistic and scientific development and conservation of indigenous breeds two National Kamadhenu Breeding Centres are being established: one in southern region- in Andhra Pradesh and second one in northern region in Madhya Pradesh. Nucleus herd of all 39 indigenous breeds of cattle and 13 breeds of buffaloes is being established at National Kamadhenu Breeding Centre with the aim of development and conversation of these breeds.

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EPFO disbursed Rs. 47,630 crore as member benefits and Rs. 8,200 crore as monthly pensions in 2015-16
May 16,2016

In 2015-16, EPFO disbursed approximately Rs. 47,630 crore as member benefits and Rs. 8,200 crore as monthly pensions.

To monitor the status of enrolment of contractual employees especially in municipalities, EPFO has taken steps towards putting in place a system where principal employers including government bodies who enroll workers directly or through contractors can view details of contractors including the amount paid towards PF dues on real time basis. Now, EPFO will be in a position to compare the PF dues reimbursed to contractors and the PF dues actually remitted by contractors. Mismatch in the amounts would indicate possible specific evasion that can be followed up towards seeking compliance. A facility already exists in public domain wherein all principal employers can check the amounts remitted by contactors establishments. Any person through this report can also check if her / his name appears in the list of employees submitted by contractor to EPFO on a monthly basis. EPFO is also in the process of digitizing compliance reporting system. It is expected that reporting in Compliance area shall be online and real time by the second quarter of this financial year.

The process of seeding EPS pensioners data with Aadhaar is underway in EPFO. While seeding the data, it has been noticed that in certain cases there is data mismatch between EPF data and Aadhaar data in respect of date of birth and name of pensioner. To rectify it, pensioners / members are being advised to correct either their details provided to EPFO offices or to correct the details given in Aadhaar, whichever is correct.

It is also seen that a number of online transfer applications by members are pending with the employers for attestation and verification of member details by the employers Field offices of EPFO have been directed to take up the matter with employers to clear this on priority.

On the occasion of International Labour Day, EPFO launched a special mission consolidation drive n++One -Employee-One - EPF Accountn++. The drive is to consolidate multiple accounts of members so that they are able to access variety of IT enabled services such as e-mail / SMS alerts, access to e-passbook at their leisure. Shri Bandaru Dattatreya, Union Minister of State for Labour & Employment (Independent Charge) while presiding over the function marking International Labour Day stated that this drive would result in EPF members having lifelong one EPF account and multiple conveniences. The Universal Account Number (UAN) that is Aadhaar seeded will consolidate multiple past service accounts, across various spells of employment of an EPF member.

The month of April also saw withdrawal of notification dated 10th February 2016 on amendment in Paragraph 68 NN, 68-O and 69 and insertion of new Para 68 -NNNN in the EPF Scheme, 1952. The interest rate of 8.8% to be credited to members accounts for the financial year 2015-16 was also finalized by the Government as recommended by the Central Board of Trustees, EPF.

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Reforms to Promote Coastal Shipping: Dollar Linked Coastal Tariff Put in Abeyance by Ministry of Shipping
May 16,2016

Promotion of Coastal Shipping has been one of the major endeavors of Ministry of Shipping. In this regard, the Ministry of Shipping amended the 2005 scheme of coastal concessions on coastal vessels and cargo/ container related charges in September 2015.

The amended instructions provide that restatement of rates for coastal vessel should take into account the exchange rate fluctuation of Indian Rupee vs the US dollar, so that vessels related charges for all coastal charges should not exceed sixty percent (60%) of corresponding charges for other vessel. This was notified to Traffic Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) by a notification in October, 2015.

However, the TAMP has pointed out that in the context of general revision proposals of a few Ports in restatement of Coastal rates has resulted in step increase in rates of coastal vessel /container as compared to pre-revised rates with the linking of Indian Rupee to US dollar.

Since, this would seriously hamper the Ministry of Shippings endeavor to promote coastal shipping as the transaction in coastal shipping/operations are entirely domestic and the tariff is collected in Indian Rupee, the need to link the tariff to US Dollar and exchange rate fluctuations needs to be reviewed at length so that there is no adverse impact on the promotion of coastal shipping.

The Ministry of Shipping has decided that till the time these issues are not addressed the instructions issued by Ministry in its letter dated 17th September, 2015 be put in abeyance. TAMP has been directed to appropriately prescribe the coastal cargo/container related charges at all Major Port Trusts and Private Operators.

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Paradip Port Sets New Coal Handling Record
May 16,2016

The mechanized coal handling plant of Paradip Port has loaded a Panamax Vessel M.V Paola Bottiglieri on the 09 May 16 at a record time of 20:00 hrs. from berthing to de-berthing, for a quantity of 84,656 MT. This is an all time best Gross Productivity Rate of 4233 TPH(1,01,587 TPD) and Net Productivity Rate of 5084 TPH. The performance is at par with the International Coal Loading Ports of Australia & South Africa. The vessel was chartered by M/s. Bothra Shipping Services on account of M/s. Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation for coastal shipment of thermal coal to their plant located at Vijayawada. Paradip Port is an all weather port capable of handling such vessels on sustainable basis. The record is especially significant as Indian ports are trying to achieve faster turn around times

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15 day Swachh Office drive launched across the country
May 16,2016

A 15-day special Swachh Office Drive for ensuring cleanliness at all Government offices across the country has been launched today as a intensive thematic campaign under Swachh Bharat Mission. Launching the drive here today, Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu planted a Neem sapling at Nirman Bhawan and inspected the building for about an hour for an on the spot assessment of sanitation.

The Minister visited different corridors of the building, individual rooms, toilets, storage places, water tanks and solar panels on the terrace of the building etc., and verified maintenance registers.

In a meeting with senior officials later, Shri Naidu has noted that there has been considerable improvement towards ensuring cleanliness and there is still scope for improvement. He has directed senior officials of the Ministry and CPWD to ensure regular inspection by senior officials to ensure total sanitation.

The Minister directed action to be taken for dumping waste material in one of the Electricity Distribution Boards.

Ahead of todays launch of Swachh Office Drive, the Ministry of Urban Development issued a Swachh Office Manual suggesting Standard Office Procedures to all the central ministries and State Governments to ensure sanitation. Norms suggested therein include ensuring water supply @ 45 litres per head per day, one toilet for every 25 persons, urinals to be provided based on employee strength, removal of stains every week, checking electrical fittings twice a week, acid cleaning and scrubbing of toilets daily, schedule of inspections etc.

The Manual enables self-assessment framework for improving Swachh Office Ratings, identification of gaps in sanitation infrastructure for correctional interventions.

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Fitch: India Insolvency Code Helps Creditors, Implementation Key
May 16,2016

Fitch Ratings expects Indias new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to improve the environment for creditors over the medium to long term, although effective implementation will be key. The bill - once it becomes law - will replace the multiple laws applicable for insolvency and bankruptcy, and allow speedier and harder deadlines for resolving corporate insolvency, which should help in strengthening creditor and investor confidence in the long term.

The bill, which was cleared by both houses of Parliament within one week, reflects the governments sense of urgency in improving the resolution process. The codes proposed 180-day time frame for recovering bad debts (and extendable by 90 days) is ambitious but nonetheless a critical step if India wants to improve investors confidence in the insolvency regime, given its poor record of bad debt resolution. This stands at around 4.3 years on average, with a loss-given-default of around 85 cents to the dollar based on data from a recent World Bank report.

Banks, in particular the state-owned entities, are likely to gain the most from this initiative, as timely recoveries would strengthen asset quality and improve their ability to provide credit - which is important as the banks share in credit intermediation is more than 60%. We expect this to ultimately reduce the time and costs related to litigation, and to result in a widening of funding options and the investor base for Indian corporates - especially the SMEs and corporates with weaker credit profiles.

Fitch believes, however, that the effective implementation of the law will remain key and will take time - given the need to develop the ecosystem for implementing the process. Setting up a new regulator for a new category of insolvency professionals, and building robust information utilities/repositories, will be time consuming. At the same time, the use of available infrastructure (of National Company Law Tribunals and debt-recovery tribunals) may not be optimal, with over 70,000 liquidation cases already pending as per a recent press report.

Ultimately, political will is key to effective implementation which will require concerted efforts from interested parties and reforms in the judicial system. We expect the benefits of the code to be visible only over the medium to long term. But the imperative of the growing capital requirements and the governments increasing keenness to link capital allocation to bank performance (mainly on recoveries) could also mean that effective implementation may be sooner than envisaged.

The new code covers all debtor categories - including individuals, partnerships, limited liability partnerships and companies - and in theory empowers creditors in deciding the fate of an insolvent borrower. It also prevents continuation of management in an insolvent firm, and bars bankrupt individuals from either holding public office or contesting elections.

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Fitch: FinTech to Bring Big Opportunities, Risks for Asia BanksFin
May 16,2016

Technology firms will play an increasingly important role in Asia-Pacifics financial services industry, says Fitch Ratings. Large unbanked populations in countries such as India, and the emergence of tech-savvy middle classes in countries such as China, Indonesia and the Philippines, will offer significant growth opportunities for FinTech companies.

The size of these markets will provide FinTech firms the opportunity to gain substantial scale and potentially change the banking status quo. This disruption to the financial sector will come with risks, especially where banks and regulators have limited experience in managing new technologies. How regulators balance the need to allow for the use of new technology to provide better services while controlling new operational risks and preventing the aggressive growth of unregulated financial services, will be a key challenge in the next few years.

FinTech remains a nascent sector despite rapid growth in large markets like China and India. Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, online payment systems and digital wallets focused on retail consumers and SMEs represent by far the largest markets.

We expect regulation to play a key role in determining how the sector evolves. Clear and transparent policies will be important for successful development. There is likely to be a fine line between the development of regulation to ensure orderly growth and the establishment of significant barriers to entry to protect the incumbents.

India has been proactive, and recently unveiled a consultation paper for P2P lending which seems to favour continued growth and development of the sector under a regulatory framework. The Reserve Bank of India noted the potential positive contribution that P2P lenders could have, especially in bringing formal financial services to the almost-50% of the population that is unbanked.

However, there are major challenges for new entrants. The lack of credit history for some new markets makes it difficult to assess creditworthiness to ensure appropriate credit-underwriting standards.

Importantly, the rise of FinTech could raise risks to traditional banks which fail to transform over the long term. The rapid adoption of disruptive tech could raise security and operational vulnerabilities for banks if systems and resources to manage the new technologies are not enhanced. New technologies could also alter banks business and operating models in the long term by eroding a previously lucrative business line or reliable funding source, and thus indirectly affect credit profiles as well.

Fitch believes the barriers to entry for FinTech firms are greatest where banking markets are more concentrated. For emerging markets, financial systems with fragmented banking systems that have seen limited innovation will be the most exposed.

Relatively high banking penetration - by emerging market standards - means there is an opportunity for digital FinTech firms in China to tap into the increasing levels of wealth being generated by a substantial middle class. Chinas large tech companies have already built viable payment systems outside the banking sector that compete for deposits and transaction fees. These companies could leverage these systems to market loans and investments to retail customers. Banks have under-served the household sector, given their focus on other parts of the economy, and traditional banks are playing catch-up. But this is not likely to represent a serious credit threat to banks at this stage, even with rapid growth.

In China, regulatory and policy uncertainty will be important. Growth, at least in the P2P lending space, may be checked by the authorities to protect incumbents and to ensure they are able to get up to speed with market developments. This is especially as there have been several high-profile reports of fraud in the still-unregulated P2P sector - a sector that has grown rapidly in recent years.

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Ind-Ra: Cable Companies Lure Local Operators with Higher Revenue Share
May 16,2016

Cable companies have started investing significantly in technology to enable efficient billing and collections from local cable operators (LCOs) and are incentivising the LCOs to adopt this shift, by offering them a higher revenue share, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra. Ind-Ra notes that most multiple-system operators (MSOs) with pan-India presence have commenced a shift in their business model to the fixed billing B2B model as an attempt to improve collections.

Ind-Ra had highlighted that Fixed B2B Billing the Way Forward for Cable Companies on 04 March 2016 indicating that the a way forward for MSOs will be to agree on a certain fixed amount with the LCO (B2B billing) so that cash collections are delinked from actual collections by LCOs from their respective subscribers. Further, this also enables billing on a pre-paid basis as the revenue share is pre-decided.

One of the large cable companies, has invested in an online portal for the LCOs, which improves transparency levels and also helps in the activation and managing of packages. The way the collection mechanism works, is that the customer pays the gross amount to the LCO and the LCO maintains a pre-paid balance in his account with the MSO. Once the package is activated/ renewed in the system; the MSOs share would be directly debited from the pre-paid balance of the LCO. This online platform follows an automated dunning process, where each pack has an expiry date and if not recharged before the due date the system will automatically disconnect the signal. In case LCOs want to provide credit to certain customers, the LCO will need to make the payment on behalf of them before the expiry date and collect the same from the subscriber later.

The above concept is well formulated in-principal; however the acceptance from the LCOs may need incentives, namely higher revenue share and some basic level of training on day-to-day operations.

Ind-Ra notes that the acceptance by LCOs will vary, based on the local dynamics, given the different degrees of resistance to change, and transparency. In the long run Ind-Ra believes the business profile of MSOs will benefit from a transparent and more effective collection system.

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