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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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Optimism in Rate Markets to Continue
Sep 26,2016

As two critical hurdles (US Fed and Bank of Japan - BoJ - policy) have now passed, momentum in the domestic rate market will be focussed on The Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) policy, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The rupee will stay firm and could trade at 66.45/USD-67/USD (66.65/USD on 23 September) throughout the week, while the old 10-year G-sec yield trading range could be at 6.92%-6.98% (6.97% on 23 September).

BoJ Policy Potential for Carry Trade: The agency believes BoJ policy can actually propel carry-trade in the near future. The BoJ has announced a long-term 10 year financing window at a fixed rate, expanding from the existing facility of a 1-year window. As a consequence of eliminating refinancing and interest rate risks, the new facility could encourage Japanese institutions to run leverage investments in other economies offering higher rates. This has also come at a time when the Yen has strengthened 20% from record lows in recent times, leaving scope for potential weakening. Since India is a preferred destination for Japanese institutions and corporates, high interest rate differential could augment portfolio flows from Japan in the future. Similarly, investments in the US Treasury by Japanese institutions will auger well for the low US yield and be supportive for emerging economies.

Focus on Policy and Auction Calendar: With Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in place, the market can hope for an action on the rate front after April 2016. In the interest rate market, both the SWAP curve and G-Sec curve have fallen further in recent times, corroborating market expectations of an imminent rate cut. The agency believes scope for RBIs action on rate front appears skewed towards December policy review than October 2016. While the very short-term rates are aligned with policy rates, the underlying G-Sec curve is 40bps above the policy rate, providing further room for softening.

During this week, the RBI is scheduled to release the calendar for government borrowings through dated securities and short-term treasury bills, and an indicative calendar for the auction of State Development loans. The remaining borrowing through dated government securities will be INR2.45trn on a gross basis and INR1.8trn on a net basis, as per the Union budget. On the other hand, INR2trn of state development loans are likely to be issued in 2HFY17.

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Infrastructure, Preservation of Monuments and Budget Hotels to Drive Tourism: Finance Minister
Sep 26,2016

India must build tourist infrastructure, preserve and market monuments, and develop moderately-priced hotels, stated Honble Mr Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs.

Highlighting that India has natural beauty, pilgrim centers, and booming urban centers, the Minister said that business tourism and student tourism is being promoted. The shortage of connectivity has been addressed with 70 functional airports and 30-35 more airports to be added for regional connectivity, he added. India also has the fastest growing highway network, while the railways are focusing on quality, faster trains and station redevelopment.

The Finance Minister stated that industry should develop the right business models. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate would be higher if more exemptions were to be provided, he stressed. Facilitation by government in terms of electronic visas, marketing and tourism promotion and preservation of monuments would be provided and as Indias position in the global economy improves, tourism too will benefit, he noted.

Shri N Chandrababu Naidu, Honble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, observed that as a service sector, the tourism industry creates the highest employment, direct and indirect. n++India has all advantages,n++ he stressed, and it has emerged as a priority sector for the government. Creating the right ecosystem and marketing are important to boost the sector, he felt.

The Chief Minister emphasized that Andhra Pradesh achieved almost 11% growth rate the previous year, and his target is to raise this to 14-15% in the current year. The state is stressing creating the right ecosystem to make tourism a growth driver. He gave the example of Tirupati Temple as an ecosystem for generating jobs.

Mr Mahesh Sharma, Honble Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture, said that tourism has been identified as a priority sector by the Prime Minister. He added that the target is to raise the share of India in aggregate tourist arrivals to 1% by 2020 and further to 2% by 2025. While electronic visa facility has been provided to 150 countries, it will be offered for more countries shortly.

NITI Ayog to roll out baseline data in about a month time: Amitabh Kant
Sep 26,2016

NITI Ayog (National Institution for Transforming India) to roll out baseline data for social indices in about a month time, said Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog at an ASSOCHAM event.

We have done this ease of doing business but the real challenge for India is to improve the socially indices and we have worked very hard on this. The key challenges are that the real time data is not available. So, we built base level data, the data being fixed by us for education, health and probably on months time we will roll this out, Mr. Kant while addressing an ASSOCHAM conference on 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

We have added lots of rules and regulations, procedures and acts and these have made things very difficult, many of them may have been done for good for you but India has made itself fully complex. This government has desired that India must become easy, simple, growth to take place and enabled wealth to take place. Therefore, we did lot of dismantling of rules and regulations. We have actually just dismantled close 1058 acts. But over the last two years we worked very closely among different departments to simplify processes, Kant said.

n++Political vigour and energy should be there in states for changes to happen. We have also initiated competition among states in Ease of Doing states. Many states have moved forward vigorouslyn++, said Mr. Amitabh Kant.

On the Ease of Doing business amongst the Indian state, I have seen a tremendous amount of competition among states. I have seen change rarely taking place and that evaluation is not being done by us that evaluation by World Bank. As per the World Bank evaluation, India jumped up 12th position but the competition among the Indian states and vast radical change is taking place and states are moving forward vigorouslyn++, said Mr. Kant.

n++We need to improve for our sake not for the World Bankn++, said Mr. Kant at the second day of ASSOCHAM 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

He further mentioned that the India is growing at 7.5% per annum but the challenge for India to grow at 9-10% per annum year after year for the next three decades. I think India needs to improve for itself thats the only way to India to grow at 9-10% per annum.

He further mentioned that India must become easiest and simplest state to do business. Over period of time, India must aim to become a very easy, simple to ways to do businesses.

n++If India has to grow at 9-10% then every institution...also the judicial system has to keep pace with changen++, said Kant.

He further said that the Judicial settlement takes about four and half years. The Commercial courts may improve things. Judiciary pandered to wishes of lawyers, said Mr. Kant.

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Textile ministry preparing plan to promote handicrafts & tribal communities: Smriti Irani
Sep 26,2016

The government through convergence of various ministries is working on a plan to promote tribal, handicrafts community and fill the various gaps, Union Textile Minister, Ms Smriti Irani said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++I had a meeting three days ago with the minister in-charge for tribal affairs and we are propagating a plan between two ministries so that there is convergence of effort to ensure things like uniqueness of their craft, the fact that they have challenge of not understanding the amount of opportunity the market has to offer to them, social challenges with regards to education, healthcare are met including housing,n++ said Ms Irani while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM Global Investors India Forum.

n++So we are preparing a plan to ensure, not only in the tribal community but in the handicrafts community per se, we have these interventions with convergence of various ministries and we reach out,n++ she added.

n++I think one of the biggest challenges in the handicrafts sector as I have said, is that those who were interested in their care between the central and state government or between state government and administration at the district level, the gaps arose in those areas which have not been filled for too long because it was nobodys baby, so now we are hoping that we bridge that gap,n++ further said the minister.

Sharing her experience in the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry, she said, n++I have personally seen how much success is met when there is direct communication between centre, state and district administration because we had that deadline by the Prime Minister to build toilets across all government schools across India in just one year which looked like a statistical and infrastructural impossibility.n++

n++I am proud to say that has been one of the landmark efforts of our government and I am hoping that we have a similar intervention in the handicraft, handloom sector as well because when you look at the north-east tribal community, you see them coming out with lovely handlooms as well but the challenge there has been that there needs to be a streamlined process of engagement across government in the federal structure so that it benefits the last mile individual, so thats what we are hoping to do,n++ said Ms Irani.

She also informed that government was conducting a study of all the reserves that India has.

n++We are in the process of digitising our land records in the country, so under the Digital India program, that is an emphatic push by the Government of India,n++ said the minister.

n++Also from the land and irrigation perspective, the Prime Minister has been very clear in his instructions that we need to map all that we have invested in our seven decades of democracy in irrigation systems of our country, how many of them are genuinely functional, how many need an intervention where they can be now propped up again and service the land around it, how many actually need new structures so those studies and mappings are underway currently,n++ she added.

In terms of an intervention for soldiers, how they can be better protected through clothing, she said, n++We have identified within the Ministry, our engagement with the Ministry of Defence as to what kind of support that we can give, the industry can have a huge intervention, not only from R&D (research and development) perspective but also from investment perspective, so that we self-support our systems, our army for their needs be it at Siachen or any other station. This includes our forces like BSF, CISF because they also have these technical textile needs.n++

The union minister also informed that Textile Ministry was in discussion with Road, Transport and Highways Ministry to ensure that logistical challenges are met and sought industrys support in this regard.

n++If we look at the logistical challenges that India has, as compared to Bangladesh, yes from placing the order onwards to processing that order takes longer in India than it takes in Bangladesh, so we are in conversation with Nitin Gadkari ji to ensure that our logistical challenges are met but after we have these facilitations we will need industry to step up and fill the gap from the perspective of investment envisaged,n++ said Ms Irani.

Highlighting the various challenges being faced by the power loom sector in India, she said, n++There are many complex issues ranging from subsidising for up-gradation of looms onwards to even providing money so that renewable energy can be used for looms, we are working out some kind of support for the entire sector but my biggest concern is for those who have one-two looms or less than eight looms because till now most of the money has gone to people who are organised better, not the individual power weaver, where everything is shutting down.n++

Talking about poor response from the industry to help build toilets in government schools across India while she was in the HRD Ministry, she said n++With a lot of hope I went out and pleaded with everybody in the industry to help me build toilets in the country, only five per cent stepped up, in fact Government of India funded it, we ensured that if a district collector said that I am not getting money in time, I would RTGS that fund straight from the centre so that my toilets are made in time.n++

She also said that the government was trying to push through administrative reform measures, that will make the engagements easier with institutions or individuals who want to bring about change on the ground. n++One has to recognise that government can only become that facilitator, that bridge and it is ultimately the industry and the people who have to walk the talk.n++

On the issue of caste inequalities, Ms Irani said, n++I think we have to be conscious of our challenges and address those challenges from a social and economic point of view, the challenge is that there are more people who divide compared to those who are there to fill those gaps.n++

She also said that there is a need to drive the children to pursue excellence and not to pursue a certificate as to promote innovation one needs to have an adventurous spirit that is engaged with at a very young age.

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Railways will spend 100% outlay this fiscal: Manoj Sinha, MoS, Railways
Sep 26,2016

The Railways will meet 100% expenditure target this fiscal, said Mr. Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Communications and Railways at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++The reforms will take time, Make India initiative will yield result in the coming yearn++, said Mr. Sinha while addressing an ASSOCHAM conference on 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

Mr. Sinha said that NPAs (Non Performing Assets) is the result of old legacy. There have been massive corruption infrastructure sector.

n++The Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFD) activities are going on as per the schedulen++, said Mr. Sinha while addressing the event.

n++The High speed golden quadrilateral on- to start in Mumbai- Ahemdabad sector work as per the plann++, said Mr. Sinha at the second day of ASSOCHAM 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

He further mentioned that 200 kmph trains will be seen in India too. Mr. Sinha said that Talgo has been advised to make changes to suit overnight journey.

The situation has improved since April 2014, said Mr. Sinha.

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86 MoUs Aggregating close to Rs 15,000 Crores Exchanged in IITIS-2016 & many more are in Pipeline
Sep 26,2016

Several announcements were made at the valedictory session of the Incredible India Tourism Investors Summit (IITIS)- 2016 organized by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry and the Tourism Finance Corporation of India to promote investments in Tourism sector in India. These announcements made by Secretary, M/o Tourism Shri Vinod Zutshi, included:

n++ Institutionalisation of IITIS to be held annually with the next Summit to be organized in September 2017;

n++ Setting up of a task force headed by Secretary, Tourism, with membership from relevant ministries, state governments, and industry associations to undertake strategic planning;

n++ Setting up of an investor facilitation desk to handhold investors and facilitate projects; and,

n++ Organising investor meets in States with the support of Ministry of Tourism.

States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttarakhand,and Chattisgarh exchanged 86 MoUs during the session and many more are in the pipeline, aggregating close to Rs 15,000 crores. IITIS-2016 had met the desired objectives and highlighted tourism investment potential in the country. Gujarat exchanged MoUs close to 9000 crores, Karnataka with 2600 crores, Rajasthan with 1000 crores, Uttarakhand with 500 crores and Chhattisgarh with 12 crores. Also, B. R. Shetty Group is keen to invest 450 crores and Costa Cruise 750 crores and Triveni Singapore close to 800 crores in the country.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism and Culture assured the Investors that his ministry will assist and support investors for making India the tourist destination of choice and for promotion of investment projects in tourism sector. He referred to the tourist helpline in 12 languages and highlighted that a portal is being opened for inviting suggestions. n++Let us join hands to give tourists a memorable experience,n++ he added.

World Bank is supporting Indias Buddhist Circuit development and will provide support for sustainable tourism development including through funds, said Ms Cecile Fruman, Global Director, Trade and Competitiveness, World Bank.

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