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Joint issue between Department of Posts and United Nations Postal Administration on UN Women HeForShe postage stamp
May 18,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, was apprised of the joint issue of UN Women HeForShe postage stamp. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Department of Posts and United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) in February, 2016 for this purpose.

In this Joint issue, the stamps were printed in the form of sheetlet of 20 se-tenants and Miniature Sheet of two stamps on the occasion of International Womens Day.

UN Women HeForShe campaign is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity for the benefit of all in social terms. This Joint issue is dedicated for the empowerment of women around the world. This would promote great cause of gender equality which the Indian government has been championing in the recent times. Thus, Department of Posts and UNPA have arrived an agreement to celebrate and to commemorate International Womens day on 8th of March, 2016 by releasing a joint stamp.

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Leasing out of AAI land measuring 1500 sqm. To M.P. Warehousing Logistics Corporation for establishing Centre for Perishable Cargo at Indore airport
May 18,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for leasing out of Airports Authority of India (AAI) land measuring 1500 sqm. to M/s. M.P. Warehousing Logistics Corporation (MPWLC) for establishing the Centre for Perishable Cargo (CPC) at Indore airport, Indore as per the resolution made by AAI Board.

This Centre will be a state of art facility exit point for perishables from the State of transit airports. It will provide a world class facility under one roof to cater to all requirements of the traders and maintain the quality of produce. This facility is to be created by MPWLC under PPP mode.

The creation of Centre for Perishable Cargo is expected to cater to the employment needs of the local population and has significant employment potential. A total number of 113 persons will be required to manage the CPC.

Background:

The State Government of Madhya Pradesh has brought out that the CPC is proposed to be set up at Devi Ahilya Bai Airport, Indore. The move comes in the backdrop of huge demand of export of pharmaceuticals, poultry products and horticulture products in Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh.

The leasing out of the land will enable State Government of Madhya Pradesh to promote its agriculture and Horticulture sector by establishment of Centre for Perishable Cargo at Indore airport.

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Improved voluntary retirement scheme package for employees of Hindustan Vegetable Oils Corporation
May 18,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the proposal for offering an improved Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) package based on 2007 notional pay scales for the employees of Hindustan Vegetable Oils Corporation (HVOC). The Government assistance will be in the form of non-plan grant of approximately Rs.27.56 crore to the company. HVOC is a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

The employees of HVOC have been adversely impacted due to sickness of the company. They are in very old pay scales of 1992. The improved VRS package will give fair amounts of compensation to the employees and help them in their post retirement rehabilitation.

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10.7% growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals in april 2016 over the same period
May 18,2016

10.7% growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in April 2016 over the same period in 2015. Bangladesh accounts for highest share of tourist arrivals followed by USA and UK in April 2016. Rs. 11, 637 crores Foreign Exchange earned through tourism in April 2016.

Ministry of Tourism compiles monthly estimates of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) on the basis of Nationality-wise, Port-wise data received from Bureau of Immigration (BOI) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism on the basis of data available from Reserve Bank of India. The following are the important highlights regarding FTAs and FEEs from tourism during the month of April, 2016.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs):

n++ FTAs during the Month of April, 2016 were 5.99 lakh as compared to FTAs of 5.42 lakh during the month of April, 2015 and 5.35 lakh in April, 2014. There has been a growth of 10.7% in April, 2016 over April, 2015.

n++ FTAs during the period January- April, 2016 were 31.08 lakh with a growth of 10.1% as compared to the FTAs of 28.23 lakh with a growth of 3.0% in January- April, 2015 over January- April, 2014.

n++ The Percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during April, 2016 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (18.09%) followed by USA (12.24%), UK (9.58%), Sri Lanka (3.71%), Malaysia (3.23%), China (3.14%), Australia (3.05%), Germany (3.02%), France (2.86%), Canada (2.83%), Russian Federation (2.81%), Japan (2.50%), Nepal (2.07%), Singapore (1.85%) and Thailand (1.61%).

n++ The Percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during April 2016 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (29.12%) followed by Mumbai Airport (16.85%), Haridaspur Land check post (9.77%),Chennai Airport (7.82%), Bengaluru Airport (6.66%), Kolkata Airport (4.16%), Cochin Airport (3.51%), Hyderabad Airport (3.07%), Goa Airport (2.84%), Gede Rail (2.31%), Trivendrum Airport (1.54%), Ahmadabad Airport (1.44%), Tiruchirapalli Airport (1.31%) Attari-Wagah (1.13%), and Ghojadanga land check post (0.96%).

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

n++ FEEs during the month of April, 2016 were Rs. 11,637 crore as compared to Rs. 10,091 crore in April, 2015 and Rs. 9,179 crore in April, 2014.

n++ The growth rate in FEEs in rupee terms during April, 2016 over April, 2015 was 15.3% as compared to the growth of 9.9% in April, 2015 over April, 2014.

n++ FEEs from tourism in rupee terms during January- April, 2016 were Rs. 52,048 crore with a growth of 15.7% as compared to the FEE of Rs. 44,966 crore with a growth of 5.0% during January- April, 2015 over January- April, 2014.

n++ FEEs in US$ terms during the month of April, 2016 were US$ 1.747 billion as compared to FEEs of US$ 1.609 billion during the month of April, 2015 and US$ 1.520 billion in April, 2014.

n++ The growth rate in FEEs in US$ terms in April, 2016 over April, 2015 was 8.6% compared to the growth of 5.9% in April, 2015 over April, 2014.

n++ FEE from tourism in US$ terms during January- April, 2016 were US$ 7.733 billion with a growth of 7.2% as compared to the US$ 7.214 billion with a growth 3.6% during January- April, 2015 over January- April, 2014.

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ASSOCHAM seeks government taking bank loan repayments of rural borrowers in drought hit areas
May 18,2016

As part of an immediate relief kit to the farmers and rural population suffering an oppressive drought, the government should take the load of their bank loan repayments upon itself, besides reaching food grains to the affected areas at highly subsidized rates, ASSOCHAM President, Mr Sunil Kanoria said today.

Expressing a grave concern over a widespread rural crisis, the ASSOCHAM President said, n++No meaningful gains can be accrued from over seven per cent GDP growth, if a large part of our population is pushed to live on the margins of distress and poverty. We in the ASSOCHAM believe in a holistic economic development which alone can help the trade, business and the industry. No one sector is isolated from the other. So, if one sector suffers, others must chip in.n++

He said the chamber is not making a demand outright on the banks to take the load of loan waiver or moratorium on agriculture loans since the banks themselves are going through an unprecedented challenging times in terms of the non-performing assets.

However, the government should commit the maximum resources to the rural sector, as the fiscal burden on it has been considerably reduced thanks to ultra low prices of crude oil for about 18 months now.

Mr Kanoria said, as estimated by the ASSOCHAM, the economy has taken a jolt of Rs 6.50 lakh crore because of drought in 265 districts in 11 states affecting 33 crore people.

Though the credit growth to the agriculture has been the maximum among all the sectors, the base for the agriculture loans has been low. n++We are not suggesting populist measures like loan waiver as election freebie, but in case of natural distress like the drought, the affected people have to be helped. So, in the given circumstances, there is absolutely no rationale that can point towards a bad economic in providing relief to the needy. In fact, helping the poor and feeding them in times of distress should make an excellent economic proposition. It is only then, that a broad based confidence can be brought back into the economy.n++

The ASSOCHAM President was hopeful that situation would surely improve with regular onset of the Monsoon. n++Hopefully, some relief would be forthcoming from the Rain Gods in the next few weeks, helping the agriculture and the entire allied sectors like milk production, meat and live stock.n++

He said while the overall economy has managed to withstand the pressure of two successive droughts, specific sectors have come under severe stress requiring effective intervention.

The ASSOCHAM President also called for long-term solutions and increased spending in building rural infrastructure like village and semi urban roads, water sheds, small irrigation projects.

n++The Centre and the states should form joint teams for implementation of the relief measures to reach the same in days and not in weeks or months,n++ Mr Kanoria added.

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Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer Scheme - 2016 to be Made Central Sector Scheme
May 18,2016

The Government is revising the rehabilitation of bonded labour scheme and increasing the quantum of financial assistance from Rs 20 thousand to one lakh rupees. The Scheme proposes to increase the budget provision from Rs 5 crores to about Rs 47 crores per annum. This was stated by Shri Bandaru Dattatreya ,the Minister of State (IC) labour and Employment here today while announcing the proposed scheme. While the most deprived and marginalised like the disabled, female and children rescued from trafficking, sexual exploitation and transgender will get Rs 3 lakhs, the next in order is the special category comprising of females and the minors who will now get Rs 2 lakhs. A normal adult male bonded labour will get Rs. 1 lakh, the Minister added.

The Minister said under this new package the money will remain in an annuity account, controlled by the District Magistrate and a monthly earning will flow to the beneficiary account for his/her comfortable living. The corpus remains untouched until decided by the DM.

One of the special features of the new scheme is that it aims to address new forms of bondage such as organised begging rings, forced prostitution and child labour for which females, disabled and trans-genders are mercilessly used by the powerful elements.

The Minister said that the rehabilitation work has been made simple for the DM/Collectors. A permanent and renewable district level rehabilitation fund of atleast Rs. 10 Lakh will be available with the DM/Collector which will be used as a stop-gap arrangement before reimbursement by Central Government through the DBT system. The DM/Collector is also empowered to provide several non-cash benefits such as land, house, ration and occupational support through State Programmes. The DMs/Collectors will also have the freedom to extend state care where bondage is not proved but the person is in distress. Minor children and women will remain in State care and educated & skilled as per their needs. Marriage of orphan girls will also be the responsibility of State Government.

Soon after revising the scheme, the 1976 Rules will be amended for effective implementation. The Government will ensure that Bonded Labour cases are tried and judgment pronounced on the same day like other summary trial cases as per Cr.PC. It will also be ensured that such cases are monitored by the Sessions Courts and the State High Courts by way of regular review as per their respective criminal manual apart from the State Home and Revenue Departments. Suitable provisions will be made in the Rules to facilitate institutional involvement of other stakeholders. With combined efforts this stigma from society will be eradicated and India be made a country of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas,he said.

Bonded Labour System is a social evil which though has declined over a period, however still exists in India despite constitutional provisions for its total eradication. The BLS(A) Act, 1976 for the last 40 years has not been able to eradicate Bonded Labour System completely. Even the Rehabilitation Scheme of 1978 have been able to free 2.82 lakh Bonded Labourers in 18 States across 172 districts in the country during the past 38 years. There is no correct estimation of the extent of bondage which has also transformed its form under the compulsions of transitional economy.

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The Empowered Institution (EI) approves VGF Support for two PPP Projects of Government of Rajasthan
May 18,2016

The Empowered Institution (EI), under the Government of Indias Scheme for Financial Support to Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Infrastructure, met here today for its Seventy-First meeting. The Meeting was chaired by the Additional Secretary (Investment), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and approved Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support to two projects of the Government of Rajasthan. One project, in the Road Sector for Development and Operation of Chomu Chandwaji - Highways Project, was granted in-Principle approval while the other project, in the Power Sector, granted final approval of the VGF support, was for the development of the 400 kV Bikaner-Sikar Transmission Line Project .

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Government constitutes a five Member Committee to comprehensively review and give recommendations on the FRBM roadmap for the future
May 18,2016

In pursuance of the Budget Announcement 2016-17, the Government has constituted a five Member Committee to comprehensively review and give recommendations on the FRBM roadmap for the future.

The composition of the FRBM Review Committee is as follows:

(i)Shri N.K. Singh, Former Revenue Secretary & Expenditure Secretary &Former Member of Parliament(Rajya Sabha) : Chairman

(ii)Shri Sumit Bose, Former Finance & Revenue Secretary: Member

(iii)Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Advised (CEA) : Member

(iv) Shri Urijit Patel,Deputy Governor,RBI: Member

(v) Shri Rathin Roy, Director, NIPFP: Member

The Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Committee are as under:

(i) To review the working of the FRBM Act over last 12 years and to suggest the way forward, keeping in view the broad objective of fiscal consolidation and prudence and the changes required in the context of the uncertainty and volatility in the global economy;

(ii) To look into various aspects, factors, considerations going into determining the FRBM targets

(iii) To examine the need and feasibility of having a fiscal deficit range as the target in place of the existing fixed numbers(percentage of GDP) as fiscal deficit target; if so, the specific recommendations of the Committee thereon; and

(iv) To examine the need and feasibility of aligning the fiscal expansion or contraction with credit contraction or expansion respectively in the economy.

The Committee will make its assessment and provide its views on the expected impact of its recommendations on the General Government deficit and other FRBM parameters. The Committee will also examine and give recommendations on any other aspect considered relevant in relation to the determination and implementation of the FRBM roadmap. The Committee may be entrusted with additional ToR, if considered necessary. In this context, the Committee may consult Departments/Agencies of Government, experts and institutions, as considered necessary, and determine its own procedures.

The Budget Division of Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance will provide necessary secretarial and logistics support to the Committee.

The Committee shall submit its Report to Government by the 31st October, 2016.

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States asked to convert 3,784 urban areas into statutory Urban Local Bodies
May 17,2016

Ministry of Urban Development has asked 28 States to take immediate and necessary action to convert 3,784 Census Towns into statutory Urban Local Bodies to promote planned urban development.

Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary (Urban Development) in a letter to the Chief Secretaries of these States has highlighted the need for statutory Urban Local Bodies for planned and coordinated infrastructure development, enhancement of revenues and efficient delivery of services to citizens leading to overall growth of economic activities. He stressed that n++The opportunity of planned urban development might get lost if unplanned construction and ad hoc provisioning of infrastructure is allowed to take place over a long timen++.

A Census Town is an area with urban characteristics like a minimum population of 5,000, at least 75% of the male main working force engaged in non-agricultural activities and population density of at least 400 persons per sq.km. As per 2011 Census, there are 3,784 Census Towns as against 1,362 in 2001.

A Statutory Town is one with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee. As per 2011 Census, there are 4,041 such towns as against 3,799 in 2001.

Shri Gauba also informed the States that conversion of Census towns into statutory ULBs entitle them to Central assistance as per the guidelines of 14th Finance Commission. Under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), 50& weightage is given to the number of statutory towns in any State/UT in allocation of funds among States/UTs.

State-wise distribution of Census Towns : West Bengal-780, Kerala-461, Tamil Nadu-376, Maharashtra-279, Uttar Pradesh-267, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana-228, Jharkhand-188, Gujarat-153, Karnataka-127, Assam-126, Odisha-116, Madhya Pradesh-112, Rajasthan-112, Punjab-74, Haryana-14, Bihar-60, Goa-56, Uttarakhand-42, Jammu & Kashmir-36, Tripura-26, Manipur-23, Chattisgarh-14, Meghlaya-12, Nagaland-7, Himachal Pradesh-3, Arunachal Pradesh-1 and Mizoram-0.

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Sports Minister issues directions to ensure timely supplements & consistently high quality food to Athletes during their preparations for Rio Olympics
May 17,2016

Government has issued directions to ensure that athletes get timely supplements and consistently high quality food during their preparations for Rio Olympics, 2016. The directions were given by the Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal after his surprise visit to the Sports authority of Indias Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports (NSNIS), Patiala to take stock of the facilities being provided to the athletes preparing for the Rio Olympics 2016. The Minister directed that the Athletics Federation of India be contacted and food supplements be provided to Track and Field athletes within the next 2 days, keeping in view the international practice and after ensuring that the supplements are free of dope.

During his day-long visit, the Minister went to the hostels, training arenas, mess, recovery centre and various departments of sports sciences to have a firsthand knowledge of the facilities being provided to the campers. He interacted with the campers, coaches and sports scientists etc. to receive their feedback on the facilities being provided and further improvement, if needed.

The Minister also met junior campers as well in the context of the Ministrys policy to prepare for Tokyo Olympics, 2020 from now itself. He directed that an indoor track at the Institute be laid at the earliest to provide better training facilities to campers, keeping in mind the challenges posed by extreme cold and hot weather conditions. Secretary (Sports), Shri Rajiv Yadav accompanied him on the visit.

It may be recalled that the Government is closely monitoring the preparations for Rio Olympics, 2016 and is providing all possible assistance to athletes to ensure that their training progresses smoothly. Prime Minister himself has been taking keen interest in the preparations for Rio Olympics, 2016 to ensure that the Countrys athletes give their best possible performance and achieve maximum number of medals.

The Government has been supporting preparations for Rio and Tokyo Olympics under its scheme of Assistance to National Sports Federations and the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme under the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF).

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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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