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India-Pak trade abysmally low; MFN or not: ASSOCHAM
Sep 27,2016

India-Pakistan trade relations are abysmally low accounting for less than half a per cent of Indias total global trade involving both exports and imports, apex industry body ASSOCHAM has said.

Out of Indias total merchandise trade of USD 641 billion in 2015-16, Pakistan accounted for a meagre USD 2.67 billion, of this Indias exports to the neighbouring country amounted to USD 2.17 billion, or 0.83 per cent of the total Indian outward shipments while imports were less than USD 500 million, or 0.13 per cent of total inward shipments.

n++In all, trade with Pakistan was equivalent to 0.41 per cent of Indias global merchandise commerce,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM.

n++Thus, the MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status or no MFN has not made much of a difference on the bilateral trade, while India has granted Pakistan the MFN status, Islamabad had not responded but even with the MFN status, Pakistans exports to India remained less than half a billion dollar,n++ said Mr Rawat.

He said that for political reasons, the businesses have not been cultivating interest in each others country.

n++Going forward, as things stand today, it is almost no movement seen in the immediate future. Even the symbolic presence of Pakistan exhibitors at the annual India International Trade Fair (IITF) in November in New Delhi is not expected whether or not formal ties are snapped or not, given the present state of affairs,n++ said Mr Rawat.

On its part, India Inc is fully and solidly behind Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi for steering Indias interest in the best possible directions. n++The strategic decisions are fully the domain of the government which enjoys the full backing of the nation,n++ the ASSOCHAM said.

Even as India was grappling with the global slowdown, its merchandise exports were USD 261 billion in 2015-16, while imports were USD 380 billion. Indias main exports markets are the European Union, the US, Africa and the South East Asia. n++There has been fair amount of activity in Latin America as well.n++

On the other hand, China along with countries of the Middle East, the EU and the US are major suppliers of goods to India having a major charge on the countrys imports bill.

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Ease of Doing business among Indian states improving rapidly: PHD Chamber
Sep 27,2016

At the socio economic front the states have taken effective measures towards the implementation of reforms in healthcare, education and basic physical and social infrastructure. The states are now on their way to rapid industrialization through coordinated development of Small, Medium and Large scale enterprises, according to the study conducted by PHD Research Bureau, research arm of PHD Chamber of Commerce and industry.

The study titled as Ease of Doing Business among Indian States: Suggestive Measures has been released by Shri Pradeep Kumar Sinha, Cabinet Secretary, Government of India in a programme Accelerating Ease Of Doing Business to the next orbit, on 17th September 2016.

As states play a pivotal role in the overall development of the Indian Economy, these are now dismantling barriers in production process such as land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship and contributing in a massive way towards infrastructure building and industrialisation, said the study.

The recent breakthrough in the implementation of GST is commendable which will reduce the barriers between states and will make the country a common market. A wider tax base and better compliance will boost overall economic growth of the country, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber at the release of the study.

According to the study, though predominantly some states are agrarian in nature, but the industrial sector in the states has also emerged as a significant contributor in their economic and social development. Now states offer favorable environment for attracting industrial investments through investor friendly policies and better infrastructural support, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta

The states have developed good infrastructure for promoting the thriving sectors like tourism and IT industry with various lucrative public-private partnerships (PPP), said Dr. Gupta

The states are focusing on strengthening their infrastructure base and making the business environment more conducive to industrial developments. Many states are known for their efforts in the area of skill development and good governance; also many states have shifted their focus towards disaster management techniques, he said

Going ahead, the role of states is expected to be increasingly more critical in sustaining the overall development of the country in coming times, said the study

Several challenges to their growth, such as easing the supply side constraints in the economy, upskilling the workforce and increasing manufacturing competitiveness are still the major areas of concern, said the study.

The state policies should be focusing on diversifying the beneficiaries of the socio economic development programmes to ensure an all inclusive growth in the country; the states should also focus on the comparative advantages of their respective strengths and specializations and should also adopt best practices of each others strengths, suggested the study.

In a nutshell, the study said that the reforms undertaken by the state governments are expected to bring out strong outcomes which would pave the way for strong and sustainable economic growth of the country in the coming times. With the continuous increase in per capita income of the states, there exist a tremendous potential for expansion of consumer markets and enhanced employment opportunities with expanding production possibility frontiers

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Strong case to cut policy rates in India, top manufacturing countries placed far better in costs of credit: PHD Chamber
Sep 27,2016

Status quo maintained by US FED creates lot of scope for repo rate cut as our cost of borrowings are significantly high as compared with our manufacturing peers and other competitive economies, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

While welcoming the US Fed decision to keep policy rates unchanged, Dr. Mahesh Gupta said that though USA has significantly recovered from the recession, low policy rate regime should continue till the growth becomes strong and sustainable, he said.

At this juncture, Indias economy should be supported by lower interest rates to enhance the demand for durables and to boost up the manufacturing sector as domestic inflation for August has come down to 5.05 percent and IIP has dipped drastically to (-) 2.4 for the month of July 2016, said Dr. Gupta.

Cost of credit to businesses is high as compared with many competitive economies, impacting not only domestic competitiveness but also comparative advantage in the international markets, he said.

Indias repo rate at 6.5% is significantly higher as compared with the worlds 5 largest manufacturing countries including China (4.35%), United States of America (0.5%), Japan (-.1%), Germany (0) and Republic of Korea (1.25%).

Other competitive economies such as Thailand (1.5%), Hong Kong (0.75%), Malaysia (3%), Singapore (0.37%), Taiwan (1.38%) are significantly better than India in the costs of credit.

Going ahead, we expect a significant cut in repo rate to facilitate the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector to compete in the international market, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

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Trade in 2016 to grow at slowest pace since the financial crisis: WTO
Sep 27,2016

World trade will grow more slowly than expected in 2016, expanding by just 1.7%, well below the April forecast of 2.8%, according to the latest WTO estimates. The forecast for 2017 has also been revised, with trade now expected to grow between 1.8% and 3.1%, down from 3.6% previously. With expected global GDP growth of 2.2% in 2016, this year would mark the slowest pace of trade and output growth since the financial crisis of 2009.

The downgrade follows a sharper than expected decline in merchandise trade volumes in the first quarter (-1.1% quarter-on-quarter, as measured by the average of seasonally-adjusted exports and imports) and a smaller than anticipated rebound in the second quarter (+0.3%). The contraction was driven by slowing GDP and trade growth in developing economies such as China and Brazil but also in North America, which had the strongest import growth of any region in 2014-15 but has decelerated since then.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevn++do said: The dramatic slowing of trade growth is serious and should serve as a wake-up call. It is particularly concerning in the context of growing anti-globalization sentiment. We need to make sure that this does not translate into misguided policies that could make the situation much worse, not only from the perspective of trade but also for job creation and economic growth and development which are so closely linked to an open trading system.

While the benefits of trade are clear, it is also clear that they need to be shared more widely. We should seek to build a more inclusive trading system that goes further to support poorer countries to take part and benefit, as well as entrepreneurs, small companies, and marginalized groups in all economies. This is a moment to heed the lessons of history and re-commit to openness in trade, which can help to spur economic growth.

The latest figures are a disappointing development and underline a recent weakening in the relationship between trade and GDP growth. Over the long term trade has typically grown at 1.5 times faster than GDP, though in the 1990s world merchandise trade volume grew about twice as fast as world real GDP at market exchange rates. In recent years however, the ratio has slipped towards 1:1, below both the peak of the 1990s and the long-term average.

If the revised projection holds, 2016 will be the first time in 15 years that the ratio between trade growth and world GDP has fallen below 1:1. Historically strong trade growth has been a sign of strong economic growth, as trade has provided a way for developing and emerging economies to grow quickly, and strong import growth has been associated with faster growth in developed countries. However the increase of the number of systematically important trading countries and the shift in the ratio of trade and GDP growth makes it more difficult to forecast future trade growth. Therefore, the WTO is for the first time providing a range of scenarios for its 2017 trade forecast rather than giving specific figures. The current trend in the relationship between trade growth and world GDP is lower than observed over the last three decades.

Since the WTOs April 2016 forecast was issued, some important downside risks have materialized, most notably a period of financial turbulence that affected China and other developing market economies early in the year, but which has since eased.

Import demand of developing economies fell 3.2% in Q1 before staging a partial recovery of 1.5% in Q2. Meanwhile, developed economies recorded positive import growth of 0.8% in Q1 and negative growth of -0.8% in Q2. Overall, world imports stagnated in the first half of 2016, falling 1.0% in Q1 and rising 0.2% in Q2. This translated into weak demand for exports of both developed and developing economies. For the year-to-date, world trade has been essentially flat, with the average of exports and imports in Q1 and Q2 declining 0.3% relative to last year.

These results are largely in line with the signals given by the WTOs World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI), a new tool launched in July to provide n++real timen++ information on trends in global trade. At that time the WTOI indicated that world merchandise trade might rebound in Q2 but would likely remain below trend.

The stagnation of world merchandise trade disguises strong shifts at the regional level. There is steep decline in imports of resource-exporting regions over the last two years, driven by falling commodity prices and declining export revenues. South America and Other regions (comprising Africa, the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States) arrested their declines in Q2 of 2016 while imports of North America and Europe both dipped in the latest quarter. Meanwhile, Asian imports declined by 3.4% in Q1 against a backdrop of concerns about slowing growth in China, before rebounding to 1.3% growth in Q2 as these concerns eased. The 3.3% decline in Asian exports in Q1 mirrored the drop in Asia on the import side, but this was mostly reversed by a 3.2% rise in exports in Q2.

There are some indications that trade may be picking up in the second half of 2016, although the pace of expansion is likely to remain subdued. Container port throughput has increased, export orders have risen in the United States, and nominal trade flows in US dollar terms have stabilized, but numerous risks remain.

The outlook for the remainder of this year and next year is affected by a number of uncertainties, including financial volatility stemming from changes in monetary policy in developed countries, the possibility that growing anti-trade rhetoric will increasingly be reflected in trade policy, and the potential effects of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, which has increased uncertainty about future trading arrangements in Europe, a region where trade growth has been relatively strong.

The UK referendum result did not produce an immediately observable downturn in economic activity as measured by industrial production or employment; the main impact was a 13% drop in the exchange rate of the pound against the US dollar and an 11% decline in its value against the euro. Effects over the longer term remain to be seen. Economic forecasts for the UK in 2017 range from fairly optimistic to quite pessimistic. The forecast assumes an intermediate case, with a growth slowdown next year but not an outright recession.

According to latest estimates, world merchandise trade volume will grow more slowly than world GDP at market exchange rates in 2016 (1.7% compared to 2.2%)

Exports of developed countries are expected to outpace those of developing economies this year, 2.1% compared to 1.2%. On the import side, developing countries are expected to register sluggish growth of 0.4% compared to 2.6% for developed countries.

The biggest downward revision to imports from April forecast for 2016 applies to South America (-8.3% compared to -4.5% previously) as the recession in Brazil intensified. This was followed by North America, where import growth was revised down from 4.1% to 1.9% as GDP growth came in below earlier projections. Asian import growth was also scaled back to 1.6% from 3.2%, while forecast for Europe was revised upward from 3.2% to 3.7%.

Export growth in 2016 was downgraded for most regions, with the strongest revisions applied to Asia (0.3% compared to 3.4% in April) and North America (0.7% compared to 3.1%). Meanwhile, South Americas export growth is expected to be stronger than previously forecast (4.4% compared 1.9%), benefitting from favourable exchange rate movements. Even with the downward revision to estimates, risks to the forecast remain mostly on the downside.

A range of estimates have been provided for 2017 to reflect the increasingly uncertain relationship between trade and output growth. World trade growth could be as high as 3.1% next year if it regains some of its earlier dynamism. However, it could also be as low

Ceiling prices of 464 formulation fixed after announcement of NLEM, 2015 and Revised Schedule-I, resulting in savings of Rs 2288 crore for consumers
Sep 27,2016

Ceiling prices of 464 formulation (amounting to nearly 7000 different stock keeping units) have been fixed by the government after the announcement of National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2015 and Revised Schedule-I. This has resulted in effective savings to the consumers of the country Rs. 2288 Crore by way of reduced prices.

A section of the media had recently published a news item, stating that prices of 100 drugs may increase by 10% as they are now out of essentials list. The news item is misleading and is not in tune with the factual position.

The correct factual position is as under: -

Consequent to notification of National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Policy-2012 (NPPP-2012) on 7.12.2012 and notification of Drugs (Price Control) Order, 2013 (DPCO, 2013), all the medicines as specified in the NLEM-2011 were brought under price control. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare constituted a Core-Committee to revise the NLEM under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Department of Health Research and Dr. Y K Gupta, Professor and Head, Department of Pharmacology, AIIMS as the Vice Chairman. This Committee evaluated the medicines on the objective criteria for inclusion and deletion.

The criteria for deletion of medicines from National List of Essential Medicines is as follows:-

n++ The medicine has been banned in India.

n++ There are reports of concerns on the safety profile of a medicine.

n++ A medicine with better efficacy or favourable safety profiles and better cost-effective is now available.

n++ The disease burden for which a medicine is indicated is no longer a national health concern in India.

n++ In case of antimicrobials, if the resistance pattern has rendered a medicine ineffective in Indian context.

Based on the scientific criteria, Core Committee recommended inclusion of 106 medicines and deletion of 70 medicines from the earlier NLEM, 2011. The Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy entails the price control of only schedule-1 medicines which are included in the NLEM. The medicines, which ceased to be part of NLEM, 2015 and Schedule-1, will only be monitored as non-scheduled medicines. Non-scheduled medicines are allowed an increase of upto 10% in the prices every year, which is monitored by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

In the detailed analysis of the number of medicines deleted and added in the Schedule-1, therapeutic category-wise in the revised NLEM, 2015, (indicated in Annexures) shows that there are sufficient number of medicines in each of the categories. These scheduled medicines represent a wide range of medicines for different therapeutic groups and will help in promoting medicines with better efficiency and favourable safety profiles, which are now under price control due to their inclusion in NLEM, which is in the public interest.

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To facilitate declarants, counters for receiving declarations under Income Declaration Scheme 2016 to remain functional till 12:00 midnight on 30 Sep
Sep 27,2016

In order to facilitate the declarants who would like to file the declaration in paper form under the Income Declaration Scheme, 2016, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued instructions to all Principal Chief Commissioners of Income Tax across India to ensure that arrangements are made for receiving such declarations till midnight of 30-09-2016.

Declarations can also be made online as well as in printed copies of the prescribed form upto midnight on 30th September, 2016.

Accordingly, the counters for receiving declarations under the Income Declaration Scheme - 2016 shall be functional till 12:00 midnight on 30th September, 2016.

The Income Declaration Scheme, 2016 came into effect from 1st June, 2016. It provides an opportunity to persons who have not paid full taxes in the past to come forward and declare their undisclosed income and assets.

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Asia Can Reap Solid Returns From Low-Carbon Transition - ADB
Sep 27,2016

Developing Asia stands to gain far more than it will need to pay to shift to low-carbon growth, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.

Keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius, as agreed at the 2015 Paris climate summit, will require developing Asia to spend an additional net $300 billion per year on clean-energy infrastructure alone through 2050. The finding is set forth in a special theme chapter, n++Meeting the Low-Carbon Growth Challengen++ in an update to its flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook 2016.

n++This is a substantial sum but the economic returns from adopting low-carbon policies needed to mitigate the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change far outweigh the costs,n++ said Juzhong Zhuang, Deputy Chief Economist. n++ADB estimates that the region can generate more than $2 in gains for each $1 of cost it bears to reach the Paris goaln++if the right steps are taken.n++

Developing Asia has joined the global fight to contain climate change. Around 90% of the regions economies have made pledges to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris agreement. The consequence of inaction could be devastating. If left uncontrolled, the report estimates that climate change could cut the regions GDP by more than 10% by 2100, eating away its hard-won socioeconomic gains.

Climate mitigation not only helps avoid such GDP losses, it brings many other benefits. The report notes that actions to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius can lead to improved air quality that helps to avoid nearly 600,000 premature deaths a year in the region than under business-as-usual. Those same actions would preserve over 45 million more hectares of forest.

As the worlds fastest growing source of carbon emissions, Asias engagement is crucial for the world to have any chance of meeting the Paris temperature goal. The regions success will require a quantum shift in energy use since fossil fuels currently contribute over two thirds of Asias total emissions. The report estimates that half of the regions emissions reduction through 2050 can come from low-carbon energy production and another third from energy efficiency measures, with the rest achieved by curtailing emissions from forest deforestation, land degradation, and other non-energy sources.

Sharply scaling up new investments in renewable power, smart grids, energy efficiency measures, and carbon capture and storage technologies are all essential to developing Asias low-carbon transition. Resources freed up by eliminating costly fossil fuel subsidies can be redirected to clean energy investments.

Because developing Asias mitigation costs are lower than in other parts of the world, the region can benefit from the development of a market to buy and sell carbon credits. According to the report, such a carbon market can reduce the regions mitigation costs by 50%, compared with countries acting alone. Further, bringing ambitious actions to cut emissions forward by 10 years is found to increase benefit-cost ratios by more than 30% and lower long-run costs by more than a quarter.

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Growth in Developing Asia Steady, Despite Global Headwinds - ADB
Sep 27,2016

Developing Asia is expected to grow steadily despite external pressures and should meet earlier forecasts for 2016 and 2017, aided by resilience in the regions two largest economiesn++the Peoples Republic of China and India, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) study.

In an update of its flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2016, ADB kept its 2016 and 2017 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecasts unchanged from its March estimates of 5.7% for each year.

n++Strong growth in the PRC and India is helping the region maintain its growth momentum,n++ said Juzhong Zhuang, Deputy Chief Economist. n++Still, policymakers need to watch for downside risks including potential capital reversals that could be triggered by monetary policy changes in advanced economies, especially the US.n++

A delayed recovery continues to hamper major industrial economies (the US, the euro area, and Japan) and the ADO Update has trimmed the earlier 2016 growth forecast to 1.4%, rising slightly to 1.8% in 2017.

Fiscal and monetary stimulus measures supported stronger-than-expected growth in the PRC. The ADO Update raised the PRCs growth forecasts by 0.1 percentage points in 2016 and 2017, to 6.6% and 6.4% respectively, which is helping to offset sluggishness elsewhere in East Asia. The subregion is now expected to grow 5.8% in 2016, and 5.6% in 2017.

South Asia, driven by the Indian economy, will retain its rapid pace of growth with GDP seen expanding 6.9% in 2016, and 7.3% the following year, unchanged from the March forecasts. Indias growth forecast for fiscal year 2016 is kept at 7.4%, supported by strong private consumption, while the milestone tax reform passed this year and progress in restructuring bank balance sheets should help revive investment and propel growth of 7.8% in 2017.

Southeast Asian economies will see growth edge up to 4.5% in 2016 on the back of robust government infrastructure investment, supported by strong performances from the Philippines and Thailand. In 2017, the subregion is expected to benefit from a pickup in demand from advanced economies and higher prices for export commodities.

Central Asian economies will remain under pressure from still depressed oil and gas prices, low external demand, and lower remittances. Growth for the subregion is now revised down to 1.5% for 2016, from 2.1% seen in March, reflecting the pessimistic outlook for energy exporters, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. In 2017, growth should pick up to 2.6% on expected stronger external demand and commodity prices.

The Pacific subregion meanwhile will also post softer growth than previously forecast, with growth projected at 2.7% in 2016 compared to the earlier projection of 3.8%. The slowdown is due to the fiscal contraction in Papua New Guinea, the impacts of a severe cyclone in Fiji, and drought in the North Pacific. The impact will be partially offset by some improved performances from smaller economies, aided by a pickup in tourism. Growth in the subregion will spring back to 3.5% in 2017.

The ADO Update notes that risks to the regions outlook remain tilted to the downside, with the external environment still fragile and the possibility of a US Federal Reserve Rate hike leaving open the potential for disruptive capital flows that could complicate macroeconomic policy management in the region.

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Robust Demand, Milestone Reform Sustain Indias Growth Momentum - ADB
Sep 27,2016

Indias economy will remain on a strong growth path this fiscal year (FY) and next, aided by implementation of key structural reforms, robust consumer demand, and higher agricultural output driven by a good Summer monsoon, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) study.

In an update of its flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook 2016, ADB forecasts FY2016 (year to March 2017) gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 7.4%, unchanged from its March projection. FY2017 growth is also seen unchanged at a faster clip of 7.8%.

n++With increasing investment over the coming year, India will remain the fastest growing major economy in the world,n++ said Juzhong Zhuang, Deputy Chief Economist. n++Legislation to allow a national value-added tax is a milestone reform for India, while ongoing efforts to restructure bank balance sheets will help underpin faster growth moving forward.n++

Overall growth in the first quarter of FY2016 fell to 7.1% year-on-year as private consumption, investment, and construction moderated. Weak rains slowed agricultural output and credit growth remained subdued. At the same time, services grew by over 9% year-on-year, aided by a sharp rise in government spending, with government consumption posting its highest level of growth in almost 2 years.

Moving forward, the Update expects the economy to benefit from the flow through impacts of ongoing reforms, including the approval in August 2016 of legislation to allow the introduction of a long-awaited uniform goods and services tax. This landmark legislation is expected to boost GDP growth and revenue for the government. The effects of a healthier monsoon season, after 2 years of weak rains, will spur growth and government approval of a pay hike for public servants last August will continue to fuel buoyant consumption, which will remain a key growth driver. Construction, meanwhile, will benefit from the government announcement of measures to ease rules for quicker settlement of housing disputes, and to clear the way for fresh liquidity injections into stalled projects.

An uptick in demand from advanced economies, including oil producers supported by higher commodity prices, will boost exports, which after 2 years of contraction are seen expanding 4% in FY2016 and 7% in FY2017. A revival in public investment and some modest improvement in private investment will also underpin the economy in FY2017. Growth in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, though not as strong as in FY2015, will nevertheless remain at solid levels with the government liberalizing caps on FDI in some sectors and taking steps to improve the ease of doing business.

Inflation, meanwhile, is expected to average 5.4% in FY2016 with food prices benefiting from a stronger monsoon. Inflationary pressures, though, will move up in FY2017, with the rate seen at 5.8%, against a backdrop of higher global commodity prices and an expected rise in the prices of some services following the introduction of GST.

The updated assessment notes some risks of slippage in the governments target to reduce the fiscal deficit to 3.5% of GDP for FY2016 due to subdued non-tax revenue and higher current expenditure. However, measures to improve the targeting of subsidies and tax revenue growth should reduce the extent of slippage. A healthy external balance and strong capital inflows have helped the Indian rupee remain relatively stable against the US dollar in 2016.

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Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Signed MOU with National Safai Karmachari Finance and Development Corporation
Sep 27,2016

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment signed MOU with National Safai Karmachari Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) stipulating the targets for the Corporation for the year 2016-17.

NSKFDC is targeting to disburse loans to the tune of approx Rs 175 crores for the persons of Safai Karmachari, Manual Scavenges and their dependent living below double the poverty line through State Channelizing Agencies, Public Sector Banks, Regional Rural Banks and other channel partners. Further more than 110000 beneficiaries are also to be imparted skill development training.

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Committee on Greenfield Airports Clears Four Projects
Sep 27,2016

The Steering Committee on Greenfield airports headed by Secretary, Civil Aviation (MoCA), Government of India met today and considered 4 new airport projects. The Committee recommended in principle approval to 3 projects in Andhra Pradesh viz., Bhogapuram, Dagadarthi (Nellore) and Orvakallu (Kurnool). The Committee also recommended for site clearance to the project of Kothagudem in Telengana.

The new International airport at Bhogapuram will be developed by the State Government under PPP mode at an estimated cost of Rs.2200 Crore to cater to 6.3 million passengers per annum (mppa) in the initial phase.

The other two airports in Andhra Pradesh will be developed as domestic No-Frills airports with an estimated cost of Rs.88 crores each. Dagadarthi will be developed under PPP mode whereas project at Orvakallu will be developed by State Government itself.

The Steering Committee has also recommended site clearance for the new Greenfield airport project at Kothagudem in Telangana. With this, Telangana is getting a second Greenfield airport besides Hyderabad International airport.

These clearances are expected to enhance the aviation infrastructure facilities in newly created states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and will also boost the Regional Connectivity Scheme announced recently by Government of India.

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Six Member Countries of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) releases its Operational Plan 2016-2025
Sep 26,2016

The six (6) member countries of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programn++Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lankan++ released this week, the SASEC Operational Plan (OP) 2016-2025. The SASEC OP is the programs first comprehensive long-term plan to promote greater economic cooperation among the member countries.

Established in 2001, the SASEC program is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries, and strengthening regional economic cooperation. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the secretariat and lead financier of the SASEC program. To date, ADB has approved 40 SASEC projects worth almost $7.7 billion in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and information and communications technology.

The SASEC OP brings regional cooperation to a higher level. The plan in the next ten years is to extend physical linkages not only within SASEC, but also with East and Southeast Asia.

ADB India Resident Mission Country Director M. Teresa Kho and ADB South Asia Departments Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division Director Ronald Antonio Q. Butiong presented today copies of the SASEC OP to Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Multilateral Institutions Division, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance,Government of India.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs said that India fully supports the SASEC OP as an important milestone in the SASEC program. He further said that the Indian Governments Act East Policy resonates well with the objectives of the OP and we will work closely with our SASEC neighbors to develop the infrastructure needed to make our regions enterprises more competitive.n++

The SASEC OP identifies regional road and rail links aligned closely with trade routes toward the east. Planned measures to streamline and harmonize trade procedures will cover both land-based and sea-based routes. This will open opportunities for the SASEC countries to participate more actively in regional value chains that are more advanced in Southeast Asia. The SASEC OP also promotes the development of economic corridors within and between the member countries.

The energy strategy under the SASEC OP aims to diversify the energy mix in the SASEC countries to cope with the projected increase in demand. The immediate priority is to improve energy infrastructure that will allow countries to access commercial sources of energy and diversify their fuel mix.

The SASEC OP identified over 200 potential transport, trade facilitation and energy projects, which will require over $120 billion in investments for the next five years, out of which 74 projects have been identified in India with an estimated project cost of over $60 billion. Majority of these projects are located in North East or Eastern part of the country.

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India signs Contract for Exploration of Polymetallic Sulphides with International Seabed Authority
Sep 26,2016

Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India, signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), for exploration of Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS) in Indian Ocean, here today. The contract was signed by Dr. M Rajeevan, Secretary, MoES and Mr. Nii Allotey Odunton, Secretary General, ISA. The ISA is an institution set up under the Convention on Law of the Sea to which India is a Party.

The ISA earlier approved an application submitted by the Ministry of Earth Sciences for allotment of 10,000 sq. km. area along with 15-year plan of work for exploration of PMS along Central Indian Ridge (CIR) and Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR) region of the Indian Ocean. The Union Cabinet approved signing of this 15-year contract by the Ministry with the ISA in its meeting held on June 15, 2016.

PMS, containing iron, copper, zinc, silver, gold, platinum in variable constitutions, are precipitates of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from deep interior of the oceanic crust, discharged through mineralized chimneys. PMS in the Ocean Ridges have attracted worldwide attention for their long term commercial as well as strategic values.

By signing the 15-year contract, Indias exclusive rights for exploration of PMS in the allotted area in the Indian Ocean will be formalized. Further, it will enhance Indias presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like China, Korea and Germany are active.

The program will be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences with the participation from various national institutes and research laboratories/ organizations.

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PMs National Insurance Scheme on the Anvil: Minister of State for Health
Sep 26,2016

Hon. Mr. Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, has called for continuous dialogue with all stakeholders, including health and insurance industry for successful implementation of Prime Ministers National Health Insurance Scheme currently being considered.

The Minister said that the PMs insurance scheme would be a game changer in coverage and enhanced benefits.

Mr. Kulaste stated that the present scheme for people below poverty line (BPL) operated under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) has expanded the national health insurance scheme with more than 75% coverage. The new scheme would entail larger financial commitment from the government. The private health and insurance industry could partner in creating more facilities for treatment of patients, such as leveraging idle beds in private hospitals.

The minister also said that the new national insurance scheme would dovetail fragmented schemes to make the project more homogeneous and impact-oriented. The primary objective of the government is to make health services universal and accessible. He added that the government would monitor implementation of the scheme through data and share it with industry.

Mr. P J Joseph, Member (Non-Life), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), said that number of people covered under health insurance has touched 36 crore now, mostly under government schemes. New IRDA guidelines, such as provision for pilot products, which allow insurance companies to withdraw a project if it fails to click in the market, allowing wellness and preventive packages, permitting offer of discounts etc. have been introduced to expand coverage. Insurance companies could bring down premium if the number of people covered under the scheme increases.

The IRDA Member called for a strong regulatory mechanism and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) for insurance products. He said that there should be concerted efforts to prevent frauds and unethical practices.

Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman, CII Healthcare Council and CMD, Medanta-The Medicity, stressed addressing issues such as steep administrative charges levied by the insurance companies, transparent hospital billing, wrong and high pitched claims etc. With the launch of the Prime Ministers national insurance scheme, business opportunities would go up considerably. n++We have to earn peoples faith in the system to expand our business horizons,n++ he added. Stress should be on managing care through preventive and wellness measures, he said.

Mr Neelesh Garg, Co-Chair, CII Sub -Committee on Accessibility-Health Insurance & CEO & MD TATA AIG, underscored the need for evolution of an ideal sustainable universal health insurance architecture which should include OPD, post hospitalization coverage, wellness package etc. The integrated package should be for the entire lifecycle of a person and cover all possible eventualities relating to health and wellness.

Mr. A Vaidheesh, Chairman, CII Sub-Committee on Accessibility -Health Insurance & Vice President South Asia & Managing Director, India GSK, observed that an ideal health insurance ecosystem for India should have more private players. Only six crore people are covered under private insurance schemes, which should go up substantially.

Mr. Segar Sampathkumar, Mentor & Co-Chairman CII Sub-Committee on Accessibility-Health Insurance & General Manager, New India Assurance Co., highlighted customer satisfaction and sustainability as the key drivers of growth of health insurance sector in India.

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Ludhiana Mega Food Park Foundation Stone laid
Sep 26,2016

The Union Minister Food Processing Industries Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal laid the Foundation Stone of the Ludhiana Mega Food Park being promoted by Punjab Agro. n++Ludhiana Food Park is the gift of the Prime Minister to Punjab and will give benefit to farmers and processors of Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Rupnagar, S.B.S. Nagar, Jalandhar, Moga, Sangrur and Barnala district of Punjabn++ said Smt. Badal to mediapersons.

In order to give an impetus to the growth of the Food Processing Sector in Punjab, Ministry has approved three Mega Food Park in the State of Punjab. Out of these three Mega Food Park First Mega Food Park located at Fazilka has already become operational. The foundation stone laying of a second Mega Food Park in the state promoted by M/s Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Ltd. (PAIC) was done today by Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Minister of Food Processing Industries at Ludhiana. A 3rd Mega Food Park (M/s Sukhjit Mega Food Park) has been approved by the Ministry in Kapurthala District of Punjab.

Under the visionary guidance of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Ministry of Food Processing Industries is focusing on boosting the Food Processing Industry so that agriculture sector grows exponentially and becomes the engine of growth to drive the n++Make in Indian++ initiative of Prime Minister. Ministry of Food Processing Industries has identified creation of modern infrastructure for food processing as a focus area and is encouraging private investment. As a step in this direction, Ministry of Food Processing Industries has been implementing the Mega Food Park Scheme in the country to give a major boost to the Food Processing Sector along the value chain from the farm to the market with strong forward and backward linkages through a cluster based approach.

This Mega Food park has a Central Processing Centre (CPC) at Ludhiana and four Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) are being set up at Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Fazilka and Bathinda to provide strong backward linkages. The Mega Food Park is expected to provide direct and indirect employment to about 6000 people and benefit about 25,000 - 30,000 farmers in its catchment area.

Speaking on the occasion, Smt. Badal informed that this Mega Food Park will be set up with the project cost of Rs. 117.61 crore in an area of 100.20 acres. The park will have facilities of 500 kg/Spiral Freezer, 1000 MT Cold Store of Onion & Garlic, 1000 MT Frozen cold store of Vegetable produce, 10000 MT Dry warehouse, 10000 MT Silos, 100 MT Ripening Chamber (ECRC), 1 MT/Hr Dehydration Line (Air dried), 400 MT Cold storage, Reefer vans, Food incubation center (ICRESAT) and Testing Laboratory. The Minister expressed confidence that this Mega Food Park project will create a modern infrastructure for arresting post-harvest losses of horticultural and non-horticultural produce and provide impetus to the growth of food processing sector in Punjab. This Mega Food Park project will help in providing better prices to farmer, reduce wastage of perishables, add value to agricultural produce and create huge opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment for the youth of the state.

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