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Party time may come to end on auto fuel prices; Duty roll back may be answer: ASSOCHAM
Jun 14,2016

The party time on driving around on cheap fuel seems to be over, though there is no danger of hard times as yet even though the automobile fuel has witnessed about 20% increase in the recent past, an ASSOCHAM paper has said.

Sharp increase in the retail prices of automobile fuel, particularly diesel, the lifeline of the public transport, will have a cascading impact on the prices of a large number of consumer items, particularly food and beverages, further building the inflationary pressure and making the task of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) difficult in moderating the interest rates, according to the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

While the crude oil prices have shot up by about 20% in the last few months, the auto fuel prices at the filling stations have increased between 12 -18 % in different cities, depending on the level of state levies, adds the ASSOCHAM paper.

It said when the transportation costs go up, typically the entire food basket along with other materials, come under the cascading effect. In the present scenario, the big danger of the rising diesel prices is on the food and food a beverage which, as a group has weight of over 50 per cent in the retail inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The price of petrol in Delhi has touched Rs 63.2 per litre in June 2016 from Rs 56.61 in the month of March, 2016 with an increase of 11.3%. In Kolkata, it has risen to Rs 66.44 from Rs 62.32 in March 2016 (6.6%), Mumbai to Rs 66.12 from 62.75 (5.3%) and in Chennai Rs 62.47 from Rs 56.08 (11.3%), reveals the ASSOCHAM findings.

n++If the crude oil prices further go up, the government should seriously think of rolling back the duties which were imposed when the prices had touched rock bottom,n++ ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said while releasing the paper.

Similarly, the price of diesel in Delhi has also gone up to Rs 53.93 in June 2016 from Rs 46.43 in March, 2016 with an increase of about 16%. In Kolkata, increased to Rs 56.13 from Rs 49.57 in March 2016 (13%), Mumbai to Rs 59.21 from Rs 53.06 per litre (12%) and in Chennai to Rs 55.44 from Rs 47.13 in March 2016 (18%), adds the chamber.

The crude prices shot up from $25 per barrel to $50 per barrel in last six months on the back of pickup in demand from China, India and reduction in stock piles in US.

If the trends of rising prices continue, the profit margins could be hit since the corporate India is not in a position to pass on the rising raw material cost to the consumers even among the industrialized goods.

India currently consumes over four million barrels of oil a day and is on its way to overtake Japan to become the worlds third-largest guzzler, according to the IEA. An increase in the number of vehicles and growth in refining activities are pushing demand higher.

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Holistic credit assessment & monitoring imperative to rein in high levels of NPAs & restructured assets: ASSOCHAM-PwC study
Jun 14,2016

A holistic regulatory framework encompassing participation from all stakeholders in the credit rating ecosystem is imperative to improve the efficacy of credit rating agencies (CRAs) and effective credit risk assessment and monitoring in India, suggested an ASSOCHAM-PwC joint study.

n++Improving efficacy of CRAs needs to be looked from a holistic perspective where all participants in the ecosystem, the regulators, CRAs, corporate, investors (banks), borrowers and others need to work jointly towards a better system of credit risk assessment and monitoring,n++ noted the study titled Growing NPAs in banks: Efficacy of credit rating agencies, jointly conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

Banks credit risk assessment, administration and monitoring have increasingly come into focus owing to considerable increase in levels of non-performing assets (NPAs) and stressed assets (SAs) in past couple of years, the study added.

n++The banks, apart from putting up a strong regulatory framework, should also upgrade their skills for greater due diligence to effectively evaluate the ratings given by the CRAs,n++ it said.

n++Besides, banks need to move towards risk based pricing whereby they can use rating as more than just a mandatory exercise by identifying greater incentives for them to adopt ratings,n++ suggested the study.

n++Banks and CRAs should be able to contribute to developing an ecosystem where credit assessments become more effective,n++ it added.

Banks should treat the credit rating only as an opinion and not as the gospel truth and the information generated by their ratings should be used in conjunction of banks credit risk framework to decide on suitability of loan exposure, further noted the ASSOCHAM-PwC study.

Banks should also be encouraged to develop their internal rating models and validate these ratings by comparing them with publicly available ratings and also seek more information from the rating agencies, if necessary to be doubly sure of their credit assessment process, it said.

A forward-looking and market based credit rating mechanism as part of a move towards risk based pricing can also help the system to take proactive corrective steps to reduce the burden of stressed assets and potentially reduce NPAs systemically and avoid panic and kneejerk reactions, recommended the ASSOCHAM-PwC study.

Besides, early warning systems along with dynamic rating mechanism measuring all the risks of the market can help the banks and other lending institutions to effectively predict the credit risk associated with the borrower and take necessary actions to mitigate such risks.

Considering that financial education in India is still at a nascent stage, the ratings should be displayed on a common website for comparison, the study recommended.

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Work under progress for launching LNG Barges on Ganga
Jun 14,2016

The Ministry of Shipping reviewed the follow up action on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and Petronet LNG for providing an LNG based alternative, fuel efficient and environment-friendly mode of transport on National Waterways, last week. The MoU was signed at the Maritime India Summit in Mumbai in April, 2016 with the objective of promoting the usage of LNG Barges on National Waterway-1(Ganga). IWAI and Petronet LNG have been asked to plan and coordinate their work plans in a manner such that LNG Barges could commence navigation on NW1 by December 2018.

Both the options of switching over from the existing diesel to LNG barges and introduction of new LNG barges are being considered. Although the switching over from traditional fuel (diesel) to LNG will entail an initial capital expenditure, the investment is likely to be recovered in four to five years at current prices. Higher fuel efficiency and negligible pollution are major attendant benefits of the new fuel. As per the present pricing, operating LNG barges will be much cheaper than diesel as fuel. LNG Barges would be a step towards achieving the commitments made by the country at COP 21.

Petronet LNG Limited will design, construct and operate LNG unloading, storage, bunkering and reloading facilities on the National Waterways (NWs). Four of the top public sector companies in the hydrocarbon sector of the country, viz. ONGC, Indian Oil Corporation, BPCL and GAIL own 50% of the equity in Petronet LNG, while 10% is held by GDF SUEZ and the balance 40% is held by the public. Action has already been initiated for preparing Detailed Feasibility Report and it is expected to be completed by December, 2016. Petronet LNG Ltd plans to set up a base depot at Haldia and fuelling stations at Sahibganj (Jharkhand), Patna (Bihar) and Ghazipur (UP).

IWAI will facilitate the switchover of bunker fuel from diesel to LNG by persuading the barge owners and the operators about the benefits of LNG. IWAI will also provide land, wherever possible, for the setting up of LNG storage and will develop jetties to facilitate bunkering. It is pertinent to note that there is a potential for 17.5 MT of cargo on NW-1 by 2020. IWAI was requested to explore the feasibility of seeking funding for the introduction of LNG Barges under the Ganga Action Plan. As National Waterways in Goa offer immense opportunities in transportation of iron ore and are closer to LNG storage facilities, the introduction of LNG Barges is being considered for that region too. The agencies responsible for framing and enforcing regulations related to the navigation of LNG Barges have been asked to study best practices and regulations on the subject for implementation in India.

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CPI inflation rises to 21-months high of 5.8% in May 2016
Jun 13,2016

The all-India general CPI inflation increased to 21-months high of 5.76% in May 2016 (new base 2012=100), while recording rise for second straight month. The CPI inflation had stood at 5.47% in April 2016. The corresponding provisional inflation rate for rural area was 6.45% and urban area 4.89% in May 2016 as against 6.17% and 4.68% in April 2016. However, the core CPI inflation declined to 4.49% in May 2016 from 4.71% in April 2016.

The cumulative CPI inflation has increased to 5.61% in April-May 2016 compared with 4.94% in April-May 2015.

Among the CPI components, inflation of food and beverages surged to 7.20% in may 2016 from 6.29% in April 2016 contributing to the dip in CPI inflation. Within the food items, the inflation galloped for vegetables to 10.77%, sugar and confectionery 13.96%, fruits 2.64%, meat and fish 8.67%, egg 9.13% milk and products 3.53% and cereals and products 2.59% on the other hand, inflation declined for oils and fats to 4.83%, and pulses and products 31.57% in May 2016.

The inflation for housing was flat at 5.35%, while that for miscellaneous items declined to 3.96% in may 2016. Within the miscellaneous items, the inflation for transport and communication eased to 0.63%, and health 5.10%, while increased for education to 5.85% and personal care and effects 6.14% in May 2016.

The inflation for clothing and footwear declined to 5.37% in may 2016, while the CPI inflation of fuel and light also eased to 2.94% in May 2016.

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Govt constitutes Working Group to examine consequential issues arising of amendments to India-Mauritius Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement & issues
Jun 13,2016

With a view to examine the consequential issues arising out of amendments to India - Mauritius Double Taxation Avoidance Convention and related issues, a Working Group headed by Joint Secretary (FT&TR-II), CBDT and comprising of departmental officers and representatives of SEBI, custodians, brokerage firms and fund managers has been constituted.

The Working Group will submit its report to the CBDT within 3 months, after examining the relevant issues.

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Ind-Ra: Excess Capacity in Manufacturing Sector Impacting IIP Growth
Jun 13,2016

Excess capacity in the manufacturing sector is constraining capex leading to a contraction in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) growth, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). IIP contracted 0.8% yoy in April 2016 as against Ind-Ras forecast of 2.2%. The dismal performance of the manufacturing sector pulled the overall IIP growth down.

Factory output in April 2016 is a far cry from the 2.0% growth rate witnessed in February 2016. The eight core industries that comprise around 38% of IIP grew 8.5% in April 2016 compared to 6.4% in March 2016. This had raised hopes that IIP would show a further uptick from the marginally positive 0.3% growth in March 2016. Core sector growth has showed a clear uptrend since November 2015; however this has not found any resonance in IIP growth so far.

Electricity, which has a weight of 10.3% in IIP, continued its upward trend and grew at 14.6%yoy in April 2016. Mining growth has oscillated in the range 0.3% to 5.1% since July 2015. Though mining growth remains in positive territory, there is no indication of a clear trend emerging.

Manufacturing (75.5% weight in IIP) contracted further to negative 3.1% in April 2016 after slipping into negative territory in March 2016 (negative 1.0%) from a marginal uptick of 0.7% in February 2016. At the two-digit level industry grouping that registered sharp negative growth rates are food products and beverages (24.5%), electrical machinery (17.6%) and tobacco products (55.9%). Despite a sustained pickup in consumer durables, a sustained contraction in capital goods has taken a toll on the manufacturing sector. GDP data also showed that gross fixed capital formation registered negative growth of 1.9% yoy in 4QFY16, which is also the lowest in two years.

In a classical recovery cycle, the demand pulse is first felt in the consumer durables sector. Thereafter, it is transmitted to the basic and intermediary goods sectors and then it finally reaches the capital goods sector. Although the IIP data since November 2016 suggest that the demand pulse has begun to show up in the basic and intermediary goods sectors, Ind-Ra opines it is still too early to believe that a classical recovery cycle is underway. However, Ind-Ra is also of the view that if the demand pulse continues in the basic and intermediary goods sectors it will help several manufacturing sectors and subsectors that are still struggling with excess capacity and eventually support capex cycle revival.

Consumer durables maintained the upward momentum and grew 11.8% in April 2016 (March 2016: 9.9%) suggesting a pickup in private consumption demand. Ind-Ra believes this trend will get strengthened due to the impetus from rural demand in the wake of a better than normal monsoon this year. The basic and intermediate goods grew 4.8% and 3.7%, respectively, yoy in April 2016, but the production of consumer non-durables contracted 9.7%.

Finally, Ind-Ra believes there is an urgent need to change the base year of IIP to 2011-12 from the present 2004-05 to better reflect the manufacturing activity on the ground.

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Ind-Ra: Eyes on CPI before US Fed Policy
Jun 13,2016

US Feds policy outcome and communique is likely to signal an imminent rate hike in upcoming months, while holding rates have steadied ahead of the Brexit in this weeks meeting, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Consequently, both debt and currency markets are likely to note a week of volatility as the domestic retail inflation data as well as the Feds policy outcome will be in focus. The benchmark 10-year G-sec is likely to be in the 7.46%-7.56% range this week (7.49% at close on 10 June 2016), while the rupee might range between 66.40/USD-67.35/USD (66.76/USD at close on 10 June 2016).

Inflation to Aggravate Bond Markets Vulnerability: Ind-Ra believes an increase in retail inflation, aggravated by rising food prices and a sharp recovery in global commodity prices, will keep the Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) stance guarded as it strives to steer the economy towards its 5% inflation target by March 2017. Any number higher than 5.4% will cause a shift towards cautiousness in market sentiment. Consequently, the yield may inch up to 7.55% with low expectations of a rate cut in the near term.

Liquidity Conditions Tight on Tax Outflows: Ahead of FY17s first tranche of advance tax outflows this week, Ind-Ra believes liquidity conditions are likely to note frictional tightness without a shift in core liquidity. The agency expects core liquidity to shift to 0.5% of net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) from 0.25% of NDTL currently. Overall liquidity is estimated to move towards 0.75%-1% of NDTL from 0.5% currently.

Rupee Braces For a Volatile Week: While Ind-Ra believes the Fed is unlikely to raise rates this week, a signal about the imminent rate hike in upcoming policy meetings will keep the rupee swinging in a large range. With the low probability of a Fed rate hike, communication from the Fed will be critical and is likely to be positive for the rupee. Clarity in the form of communication as well as the future trajectory of the Fed funds rate is likely to augur well for the rupee in the upcoming week.

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The FAO Food Price Index continues to firm
Jun 13,2016

The FAO Food Price Index* (FFPI) averaged 155.8 points in May 2016, 3.2 points (2.1 percent) higher than in April, but still 7 percent below the corresponding period last year. The May increase marked the fourth consecutive month of rise in the value of the FFPI. The values of all sub-indices moved up in May except for the vegetable oils, which dropped for the first time in four months. Sugar prices surged while meat, cereals and dairy registered some increase.

The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 152.3 points in May, up 2.5 points (1.6 percent) from April but down 5.3 percent from May 2015. Among the major cereals, maize prices increased sharply for the second consecutive month, mainly on tight export supplies until the harvesting of new crops in the northern hemisphere later this year. Rice quotations also strengthened, especially for Indica varieties, on rising concerns about availabilities in some major trade sources and firming import demand. Dampened by ample global supplies and good production prospects, the increase in international wheat prices was more modest.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 163.3 points in May, down 3.1 points (1.8 percent) from April. The decline was mainly caused by palm oil, the price of which fell after three months of sharp gains. Weaker than anticipated import demand for palm oil, notably in China, India and the EU, combined with growing export availabilities in Malaysia have weighed on palm oil international quotations, despite negative prospects for global production.

The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged nearly 128.0 points in May, up just 0.4 percent from April, but 24 percent below its May 2015 level. During the second-half of May, improved internal prices within the EU and sustained international import demand caused quotations for whole milk powder and butter to rise - cheese from Oceania also rose. Conversely, international quotations for skimmed milk powder remained close to the EU intervention price.

The FAO Meat Price Index* averaged 151.8 points in May, some 3.0 points (2.0 percent) higher than in April. Prices of all categories of meat rose, particularly those of pigmeat and ovine meat, while smaller increases were registered for bovine and poultry meat. Pigmeat quotations from the EU moved up strongly, due to gains in internal prices and continued brisk import demand from Asia. In Oceania, limited supplies of bovine and ovine meat caused export quotations to rise. Meanwhile, poultry meat prices recorded a third month of moderate growth.

The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 240.4 points in May, up as much as 25.1 points (11.7 percent) from April. The sharp rebound in May sugar prices was driven mostly by deteriorating production prospects in India, the worlds second largest sugar producer, as well as lower output in China which raised the expectation of tighter domestic supplies and, hence, higher imports by the country. The latest data showing large export availabilities in Brazil, the worlds largest sugar producer and exporter, supported by a bumper crop (second highest on record), kept prices from rising further.

* Unlike for other commodity groups, most prices utilized in the calculation of the FAO Meat Price Index are not available when the FAO Food Price Index is computed and published; therefore, the value of the Meat Price Index for the most recent months is derived from a mixture of projected and observed prices. This can, at times, require significant revisions in the final value of the FAO Meat Price Index which could in turn influence the value of the FAO Food Price Index.

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ADB Loan to Help Tackle Water Stress, Climate Threats in Indias Cauvery Delta
Jun 13,2016

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $100 million loan to strengthen a key irrigation system and improve water management in the Vennar subbasin of the Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadun++one of Indias most water-stressed states.

The delta river basin is a critical source of water for agriculture, both within Tamil Nadu and neighboring states, but a lack of investment over many years has left irrigation systems unable to meet user demand and increasingly vulnerable to floods and droughts. Much of India is currently reeling from its worst drought in decades, sparked by an extreme El Nin++o weather pattern, and this is forecast to give way to a La Nin++a system that could potentially bring above average monsoon rains in 2016, heightening flood risks.

n++The Vennar irrigation network is no longer able to meet the needs of many of its poorest farmers particularly in coastal areas, and the climate extremes that have been battering the country and are expected to worsen mean there is a pressing need to upgrade it,n++ said Manjula Amerasinghe, Project Management Specialist in ADBs South Asia Department. n++This project will support both physical improvements and stronger water management, giving a significant boost to the lives of coastal communities who often go without sufficient irrigation water.n++

The project will strengthen the embankments of six major irrigation water channels in the Vennar system to make them more resilient to floods and upgrade water regulators, sluices and pump stations. To boost management, more community members will be tapped to take part in planning and delivery of water services, training will given to state water resource department officers, and flood forecasting and warning systems and flood risks maps will also be drawn up to help communities respond more proactively and effectively to extreme events. A feasibility study will also be carried out to examine the potential for similar improvements elsewhere in the Cauvery delta in a follow up project.

The work is expected to be completed in December 2020.

The Cauvery delta, on the east coast of Tamil Nadu, is known as the n++rice bowln++ of the state, with over 70% of the delta population engaged in farming and fishing, but access to water is unreliable and flooding common during the monsoon season. This is expected to worsen as climate change intensifies with projections that storm rainfall could increase by 19%, the sea level could rise by up to 0.87 meters by 2100, and maximum temperatures could increase by as much as 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. The Cauvery River flows through the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and part of the Union Territory of Puducherry, with over half the catchment area in Tamil Nadu.

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Gelatin Capsules have technical advantage over HPMC Capsules: PHD Chamber to DCGI
Jun 13,2016

The PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry has made a representation to the Drug Controller General of India detailing the benefits of using Gelatine capsules over HPMC capsules in medicines.

According to Mr Vivek Seigell, Director, Health Committee, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gelatine capsules have technical advantage over HPMC capsules. Gelatin is a natural and safe product with Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in pharmaceutical and food applications by USA and other regulators. It is Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) free, completely natural, sustainable and non-allergic.

The safety aspect of capsule shells is very well defined by various Food and Drug Authorities, as well as different Pharmacopoeias. Gelatine capsules manufacturers and the Pharmaceutical companies rigorously test the shells on account of compliances to these norms only after which are the shells used in formulations said Mr. Vivek Seigell, Director of the Health Committee at PHD Chamber while commenting on the proposed ban on the gelatin capsules.

Technology of gelatin capsules manufacturing is an old age technology, standardized over the period of the last century and has presence all across the globe, with standard specification, defined by all approving authorities.

As gelatin capsules have robust and approved technology, the manufacturing cost of making these shells is low. In contrast the investment cost of the HPMC technology is very high and there are many complexities involved. Further, the investments required to be made for manufacturing HPMC capsules are also substantial and will require planning and time which may also impact accessibility of medicines.

Further, the cost required for the raw material is approximately four times that of Gelatin and the manufacturing cost is approximately three times the cost of Gelatin, considering the outputs from the current available technology. As the cost for HPMC is this high, its acceptance by the Pharmaceutical industry will be challenging esp in light of the price controls being implemented by the Govt.

Gelatine capsules are being used world over for the past 100 years without any health issues being reported by the virtue of capsule shell.

In highly regulated markets like USA, UK, Japan, Australia etc, gelatin based capsules are widely accepted in oral formulations for different ailments.

Gelatin as described in the Indian Pharmacopeia (IP 2014) n++is a purified proteinn++ obtained by partial hydrolysis of animal collagen and is translucent, colorless, brittle (when dry) and flavorless. It is an easily digestible pure protein providing its consumers with eight of the nine essential amino acids needed by the human body whereas HPMC Capsules (Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose) do not contain components of animal origin and has a synthetic base.

Gelatin is a protein which is essential component for human consumption and development and also the technology required in making of this is standardized over the last century and is safe for human consumption. This has been audited & approved by Pharmaceutical Industry & the controlling authorities like FDA & WHO whereas the technology used in the manufacturing of HPMC capsules is a very new concept to the industry and has not been thoroughly established & standardized in the industry.

In the aspect of availability of raw material , gelatin is readily available in the market to meet the demands of Pharmaceutical and Food Industries of India whereas there are only few manufacturers engaged in HPMC base material in India. The current annual installed capacity of HPMC is around 2.0 billion whereas for gelatin its is about 120 billion which is huge as compared to HPMC. Also for HPMC there is only one established manufacturer in India giving no choice to manufacturers to choose their vendor whereas for gelatin capsules there are number of established manufacturers giving a whole array of choices for pharma manufacturers to choose from.

As the gelatin capsule manufacturers are large in nos. and so is the turnover (in thousands of crores) it also plays a vital role in drug delivery to a large range of formulations, these Industries also generate large amount of employment opportunities.

HPMC Capsules are basically of Synthetic origin and the base in Chemical. This ecosystem of capsules made from gelatin had been existing for over 100 years now and has proved its technical importance hence every possible step must be taken to nurture and fortify this ecosystem of gelatin capsules.

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FICCI welcomes the initiation of preparatory work on six nuclear reactors, expected to unleash a $150 billion nuclear industry in India
Jun 13,2016

FICCI welcomes the announcement of the initiation of preparatory work on six nuclear reactors in India between NPCIL and Westinghouse, which is expected to unleash a $ 150 billion nuclear industry in India thereby creating jobs and ensuring access to clean energy and ensuring our energy security. This step further cements the strategic relationship between the two nations reaffirming the n++trusted partnern++ status that has been accorded to India in Defence & Aerospace.

FICCI feels these positive developments in Civil Nuclear Energy sector will send the right signals for the reoperationalisation of the domestic nuclear program which has been stalled for last two years on the nuclear liability issue. The finalization of the Indian Nuclear Insurance Pool (INIP) policy for the operator augers well in this positive environment, FICCI now hopes that the Indian Nuclear Insurance Pool (INIP) for the supplier gets IRDA approval at the earliest, so the domestic program can be reinitiated.

FICCI has through its Civil Nuclear Energy working group has worked over the past few months, in evolving a consensus amongst all major suppliers of NPCIL including foreign technology players to agree on a draft suppliers policy with the aim to put life into the domestic programme which is currently in coma.

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147 villages electrified last week ; 8,242 villages electrified till date under DDUGJY
Jun 13,2016

147 villages have been electrified across the country during last week (from 6th to 12 th June 2016) under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY). Out of these electrified villages, 4 villages belong to Arunachal Pradesh , 76 in Assam, 28 in Jharkhand, 2 in Rajasthan ,9 in Madhya Pradesh , 6 in Odisha, 2 in Manipur, 1 in Uttar Pradesh , 10 in Bihar, 3 in Chhattisgarh, and 6 in Meghalaya.

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FICCI welcomes Indias entry to the MTCR regime and hopes US will push for Indias membership at the NSG
Jun 13,2016

FICCI welcomes the historic meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Obama in Washington DC and the operationalization of the India US Civil Nuclear Deal. Indian industry welcomes Indias entry to the MTCR regime and hopes US will do the heavy lifting to push for Indias membership at the NSG to be decided later this month. Already India looks set for membership at the MTCR regime and now looks for support for membership at Wassenaar Agreement and Australia Group. It will help the India-US collaboration in high technology in critical areas and will enable high value technology embedded trade for Make in India projects. This also opens up opportunities for similar cooperation with countries like US and France.

In this direction, it is commendable to get support for Indias NSG entry Switzerland and Mexico too. Irrespective of the end-result in terms of NSG membership, Indias bilateral relations with these countries are bound to achieve greater heights.

FICCI Secretary General Dr. Didar Singh stated, n++Indian industry is ready to meet international obligations and licensing norms to ensure that technology acquisition, manufacture and trade of dual use items that will not be diverted or re-exported for unauthorized use. Indian industry is ready to work on Internal Compliance Programs and international best practices to ensure Indias non-proliferation recordsn++.

FICCI is working with DGFT and the DISA Division of MEA on various industry programs for better propagation of knowledge on risk of diversion of advanced technology products for weapon uses, and take appropriate counter-measures to ensure security of supply chains.

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The Central Port Authorities Act 2016 to replace the Major Port Trust Act, 1963
Jun 13,2016

The Ministry of Shipping has prepared a draft bill The Central Port Authorities Act 2016 to replace the Major Port Trust Act, 1963. This step is being taken keeping in view the need to give more autonomy and flexibility to the Major Ports and to bring in a professional approach in their governance.

Salient Feature of the The Central Port Authorities Act 2016

The salient features of the new Bill are:

a) Composition of board has been simplified. The board will consist of 9 members including 3 to 4 independent members instead of 17-19 under the Port Trust Model. Provisions has been made for inclusion of 3 functional heads of Major Port as Members in the Board apart from a Government Nominee Member and a Labour Nominee Member. (Section 3(2)).

b) The disqualification of the appointment of the Members of the Board, duties of the Members and provision of the meetings of the Board through video conferencing and other visual means have been introduced on the lines of Companies Act, 2013. (section 5,10 & 12)

c) Port related and non-port related use of land has been defined. A distinction has been made between these two usages in terms of approval of leases. The Port Authorities are empowered to lease land for Port related use for upto 40 years and for non-port related use upto 20 years beyond which the approval of the Central Government is required. (Section 21)

d) The need for Government approvals for raising loans, appointment of consultants , execution of contracts and creation of service posts have been dispensed with. The Board of Port Authority have been delegated power to raise loans and issue security for the purpose of capital expenditure and working capital requirement. (Section 30)

e) The provision for maintenance of books of account and financial statements in accordance with the accounting standards notified under the Companies Act, 2013 or as prescribed by Central Government has been provided. (Section 44)

f) Concept of internal audit of the functions and activities of the Central Ports has been introduced on the lines of Companies Act, 2015 (Section 25)

g) The Board of the Port Authority has been delegated the power to fix the scale of rates for service and assets. The regulation to tariff by TAMP has been removed. (Section 25)

h) An independent Review Board has been proposed to be created to carry out the residual function of the erstwhile TAMP for Major Ports, to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaries, to review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures to review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures to revive such projects and to look into complaints regarding services rendered by the ports/private operators operating within the ports would be constituted. At present, there is no independent body to look into the above aspects and the Review Board will reduce the extent of litigation between PPP Operators and Ports. (Section 59)

i) Power of Central Govt. to take over the control of the Port Authority is limited to the event of grave emergency or in case of persistent default by Port Authority in performance of their duties. (Section 53)

j) Provisions of CSR & development of infrastructure by Port Authority have been introduced. (Section 65)

k) The status of Port Authority will be deemed as local authority under the provisions of the General Clauses Act, 1887 & other applicable Statutes so that it could prepare appropriate regulations in respect of the area within the port limits to the exclusion of any Central, State of local laws. (Section 66).

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Distribution of LPG connections to Women from BPL households under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana at Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh
Jun 13,2016

Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana at Faizabad (UP) and distributed 25 LPG connections to Women from BPL families .

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) on May 1, 2016 at Balia, to provide 5 crore LPG connections to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families during the next 3 financial years. PMUY has been subsequently launched in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan & Uttrakhand, marking another step in the direction of providing LPG connections to over 5 crore Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.

The dignitaries while addressing the gathering remarked on the major change that PMUY would bring to the lifestyle of women from the BPL families They praised the visionary leadership of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, in recognising and addressing the problems faced by the country and introducing various schemes for the upliftment of the poor and development of the country.

Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas had earlier successfully implemented PAHAL, the Direct Transfer of subsidy on LPG, to the bank accounts of consumers. Over 15.5 crore customers benefited from the scheme, which resulted in prevention of subsidy leakages to the unintended. Also, the voluntary surrendering of subsidy by over 1 crore customers under GiveItUp on the appeal from the Honble Prime Minister, has helped the Government provide free LPG connections to poor households under PMUY.

With 2016 being declared as the Year of Consumers, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has ensured that Oil Marketing Companies offer customer centric offerings like Sahaj - the online booking and release of new connections, Online booking and payment for LPG refills, 1906- 24x7 LPG leakage Emergency telephone helpline, to name a few.

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