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The trade deficit for May 2017 was estimated at US$ 13841.72 million
Jun 16,2017

Exports have been exhibiting positive growth for the last eight months. In continuation withgrowth indicated by exports since September 2016, exports during May 2017have shown growth of 8.32per cent in dollar terms valued at US$ 24014.62million as compared to US$ 22170.62 million during May,2016. In Rupee terms, duringMay 2017 exports were valued at Rs. 154713.69crore as compared to Rs. 148336.31crore during May,2016, registering a positive growth of 4.30 per cent.

During May 2017, Major commodity groups of export having a share of 72.09% in total export basket which have shown positive growth over the corresponding month of last year are Engineering Goods (8.25%), Gems& Jewellery (6%), Petroleum Products (24.92%), RMG of all Textiles (8.06%), Organic & Inorganic Chemicals (15.34%),Rice (27.08%), Marine Products (44.58%) and Electronic Goods (8.57%).

Cumulative value of exports for the period April-May 2017-18 was US $48649.71 million (Rs 313627.48 crore) as against US $42739.47 million (Rs 285056.42 crore) registering a positive growth of 13.83 per cent in Dollar terms and 10.02 per cent in Rupee terms over the same period last year.

Non-petroleum and Non Gems & Jewellery exports in May 2017 were valued at US$ 17514.36million against US$ 16404.31million in May 2016, an increase of 6.77 %. Non-petroleum and Non Gems and Jewellery exports during April -May 2017-18 were valued at US$ 35233.23 million as compared to US$ 31540.72 million for the corresponding period in 2016-17, an increase of 11.71%.

IMPORTS

Imports during May 2017 were valued at US$ 37856.34 million (Rs. 243888.74 crore) which was 33.09per cent higher in Dollar terms and 28.16per cent higher in Rupee terms over the level of imports valued at US$ 28443.52 million (Rs. 190306.19crore) in May, 2016. Cumulative value of imports for the period April-May 2017-18 was US$ 75740.62 million (Rs. 488269.26 crore) as against US$ 53857.24 million (Rs. 359229.90 crore) registering a positive growth of 40.63 per cent in Dollar terms and 35.92 per cent in Rupee terms over the same period last year.

Major commodity group of imports showing high growth in May 2017 over the corresponding month of last yearare Petroleum, Crude &products (29.54%),Gold(236.69%), Electronic goods(34.16%), Pearls, precious & Semi-precious stones(37.61%) and Machinery, electrical & non-electrical(6.42%).

CRUDE OIL AND NON-OIL IMPORTS:

Oil imports during May, 2017 were valued at US$ 7692.71 million which was 29.54percent higher than oil imports valued at US$ 5938.59million in May 2016.Oil imports during April-May, 2017-18 were valued at US$ 15051.98 million which was 29.82 per cent higher than the oil imports of US$ 11594.51 million in the corresponding period last year.

In this connection it is mentioned that the global Brent prices ($/bbl) have increased by 7.94% in May 2017 vis-n++-vis May 2016 as per World Bank commodity price data (The pink sheet).

Non-oil imports during May, 2017 were estimated at US$ 30163.63 million which was 34.03per cent higher than non-oil imports of US$ 22504.93million in May, 2016. Non-oil imports during April-May 2017-18 were valued at US$ 60688.64 million which was 43.60 per cent higher than the level of such imports valued at US$ 42262.73 million in April-May, 2016-17.

II. TRADE IN SERVICES (for April, 2017, as per the RBI Press Release dated 15th June, 2017)

EXPORTS (Receipts)

Exports during April 2017 were valued at US$ 12904 Million (Rs. 83239.96Crore) registering a negative growth of 8.99 per cent in dollar terms as compared to positive growth of 8.57 per cent during March 2017 (as per RBIs Press Release for the respective months).

IMPORTS (Payments)

Imports during April 2017 were valued at US$ 7222 Million (Rs. 46587.03Crore) registering a negative growth of 12.64per cent in dollar terms as compared to positive growth of 14.26 per cent during March2017 (as per RBIs Press Release for the respective months).

III. TRADE BALANCE

MERCHANDISE: The trade deficit for May 2017 was estimated at US$ 13841.72 million as against the deficit of US$ 6272.90 million during May 2016.

SERVICES: As per RBIs Press Release dated 15th June2017, the trade balance in Services (i.e. net export of Services) for April, 2017 was estimated at US$ 5682 million.

OVERALL TRADE BALANCE: Taking merchandise and services together, overall trade deficit for April- May 2017-18 is estimated at US$ 21408.91 million as compared to US$ 5392.77 million during April-May 2016-17. (Services data pertains to April 2017 as April 2017 is the latest data available as per RBIs Press Release dated 15th June 2017)

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Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India), Order 2017 issued
Jun 16,2017

The Government has issued Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India), Order 2017 today as part of the policy of the Government of India to encourage Make in India and promote manufacturing and production of goods and services in India with a view to enhancing income and employment. Subject to the provisions of this Order and to any specific instructions issued by the Nodal Ministry or in pursuance of this Order, purchase preference shall be given to local suppliers in all procurements undertaken by procuring entities in the manner specified .As per the order the minimum local content shall ordinarily be 50%. The Nodal Ministry may prescribe a higher or lower percentage in respect of any particular item and may also prescribe the manner of calculation of local content. The margin of purchase preference shall be 20% . Ministries /Departments and the Boards of Directors of Government companies may issue such clarifications and instructions as may be necessary for the removal of any difficulties arising in the implementation of this Order.

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Reduced Liability of Tax on complex, building, flat etc. under GST
Jun 15,2017

The CBEC and States have received several complaints that in view of the works contract service tax rate under GST at 12% in respect of under construction flats, complex etc, the people who have booked flats and made part payment are being asked to make entire payment before 1st July 2017 or to face higher tax incidence for payment made after 1st July 2017. This is against the GST law. The issue is clarified as below:-

1. Construction of flats, complex, buildings will have a lower incidence of GST as compared to a plethora of central and state indirect taxes suffered by them under the existing regime.

2. Central Excise duty is payable on most construction material @12.5%. It is higher in case of cement. In addition, VAT is also payable on construction material @12.5% to 14.5% in most of the States. In addition, construction material also presently suffer Entry Tax levied by the States. Input Tax Credit of the above taxes is not currently allowed for payment of Service Tax. Credit of these taxes is also not available for payment of VAT on construction of flats etc. under composition scheme. Thus, there is cascading of input taxes on constructed flats, etc.

3. As a result, incidence of Central Excise duty, VAT, Entry Tax, etc. on construction material is also currently borne by the builders, which they pass on to the customers as part of the price charged from them. This is not visible to the customer as it forms a part of the cost of the flat.

4. The current headline rate of service tax on construction of flats, residences, offices etc. is 4.5%. Over and above this, VAT @1% under composition scheme is also charged. The buyer only looks at the headline rate of 5.5%. In other cities/states, where VAT is levied under the composition scheme @2% or above, the headline rate visible to the customer is above 6.5%. What the customer does not see is the embedded taxes on account of cascading and sticking of input taxes in the cost of the flat, etc.

5. This will change under GST. Under GST, full input credit would be available for offsetting the headline rate of 12%. As a result, the input taxes embedded in the flat will not (& should not) form a part of the cost of the flat. The input credits should take care of the headline rate of 12% and it is for this reason that refund of overflow of input tax credits to the builder has been disallowed.

6. The builders are expected to pass on the benefits of lower tax burden under the GST regime to the buyers of property by way of reduced prices/ installments. It is, therefore, advised to all builders / construction companies that in the flats under construction, they should not ask customers to pay higher tax rate on instalments to be received after imposition of GST.

7. Despite this clarity on law position, if any builder resorts to such practice, the same can be deemed to be profiteering under section 171 of GST law.

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Jobs gap closes but recovery remains uneven-OECD
Jun 15,2017

The job market continues to improve in the OECD area, with the employment rate finally returning to pre-crisis levels. But people on low and middle incomes have seen their wages stagnate and the share of middle-skilled jobs has fallen, contributing to rising inequality and concerns that top earners are getting a disproportionate share of the gains from economic growth, according to a new OECD report.

The OECD Employment Outlook 2017 finds that the employed share of the population aged 15 to 74 years rose for the third consecutive year. It is expected to reach 61.5% by the end of 2018, above its peak of 60.9% in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Growing occupational polarisation has also contributed to rising discontent with globalisation, as those with lower or declining wages feel that the benefits from openness and interconnection are being reaped by a few. But the Outlook reveals that more than trade integration, job polarisation has been driven by pervasive and skill-biased technological changes. Between 1995 and 2015, the middle-skill share of employment fell by 9.5 percentage points in the OECD area, while the shares of high- and low-skill occupations rose by 7.6 and 1.9 percentage points, respectively.

n++While the jobs gap is closing, many people do not feel the benefits as they are facing stagnant wages and no career prospects: we need an inclusive labour market that reconnects the benefits of our economic model with those who work in it,n++ said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurrn++a, launching the report in Berlin with the German Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Andrea Nahles. n++It is essential to ensure that the benefits of globalisation and growth are widely shared and that our policies are future-proofed to help workers grasp the new opportunities but also respond to the challenges of a rapidly changing world of work.n++

The Outlook projects that the labour market will continue to improve until at least the end of 2018, with nearly 47 million more people employed than at the end of 2007.

Unemployment in the OECD area has fallen by 12 million people since peaking in the first quarter of 2010 and youth unemployment is down by 3.8 million. The OECD average unemployment rate is projected to further inch downwards from 6.1% at the end of the first quarter of 2017 - 38 million unemployed - to 5.7% in at the end of 2018 - 36 million unemployed.

But significant challenges persist. The labour market recovery remains highly uneven. The employment rate is likely to be only 1% above its pre-crisis level by the end of 2018. Large jobs deficits will persist in some countries, notably in Southern Europe. Even in countries where employment has recovered, wage growth remains subdued.

About one-third of overall polarisation in the OECD labour market is due to shifts in jobs from manufacturing to services, with factory workers who have lost their jobs often being forced to take up lower-paid work in the services sector. The remaining two-thirds reflect rising polarisation within industries. These widespread shifts in employment are largely explained by the demand for labour concentrating in high-skilled jobs as well as low-skilled ones with a hollowing of the middle.

To address this, governments must help workers build the right skills, and give them the opportunities to upskill and reskill throughout their working lives. Countries should also better assess changing skill needs, adapt curricula and guide students towards choices that open up labour market opportunities. In all OECD countries, high skilled workers have two to three times as many opportunities to participate in on-the-job training as their low-skilled counterparts.

Social protection and labour market policies must also adapt to evolving forms of employment. More than one-half of independent workers in Europe are not covered by unemployment benefits. Providing social protection for all is key. Countries should take steps to ensure entitlements are portable from one job to the next, and make it easier to cumulate contributions from multiple jobs.

‌The Outlook includes a new scoreboard comparing the labour market performance of countries based on the quantity and quality of employment, as well as the inclusiveness of the job market. It shows that only a few OECD countries do well in all three areas, including Nordic countries, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

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States shortlisted by NITI for transformative change in Health and Education
Jun 15,2017

NITI Aayog has initiated a unique and novel initiative to catalyse transformational change in key Social Sectors. Under SATH (Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital), NITI Aayog and its knowledge partners will provide strategic, technical and implementation support to three states for each sector. A Committee comprising of Member, NITI Aayog , Sh Bibek Debroy, CEO, Amitabh Kant, Advisers of NITI Aayog and representatives of Health and Education Ministry spent two days assessing and vetting presentations by 14 States for each of the two social sectors. The States showcased the initiatives undertaken by them thus far, their willingness to accelerate improvement and justified why they should be selected for the institutional support being offered by NITI Aayog under the program.

Transformative change in social sector is challenging as the pace is slow, as compared to the infrastructure sector. The issues are multi-layered and complex, involving both governance and building capacity of human capital. NITI Aayog has taken up this challenge and has decided to deep dive into handholding the States through a time bound and outcome oriented process. After final selection of the States, a Program Management Unit to push for efficiency and efficacy in governance structures and service delivery will be available at the State level for a period of 30 months. It is expected that these 36 months of focussed attention and support from the premier think tank will lead to a marked transformation and will also provide a model for other States to replicate and adapt.

In Health sector, five States have been shortlisted as run up to the final selection of three. These are, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Karnataka and Gujarat. Similarly in Education, the shortlisted States are Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. In both sectors, the States have to commit to a time-bound focus, governance reforms and delivery of outcomes for final selection for the partnership. The proposed partnership of NITI Aayog, States and a knowledge partner is challenging and ambitious as the baseline of various indicators and parameters of education and health in the States are in public domain. All stakeholders will be under pressure from the day of signing of the MOU to initiate reforms or processes which will show improvement in education and learning outcomes.

The initiative is interesting on another theoretical level too, as it defines a new dimension for cooperative federalism, where NITI Aayog and its knowledge partner will actively aid implementation of their recommendations, in addition to just policy inputs. Depending on the promptness of the response of governance commitments posed to them, the final selection of the three States in each of the sectors is expected to be completed in July 2017.

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CCI issues order against Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL) for anti-competitive conduct, imposes penalty of Rs. 87 crore
Jun 15,2017

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL) to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 3(4)(e) read with Section 3(1) of the Competition Act, 2002 for imposing arrangements upon its dealers which resulted into Resale Price Maintenance in sale of passenger cars manufactured by it. Such arrangements also included monitoring of the maximum permissible discount levels through a Discount Control Mechanism. Further, HMIL was found to have contravened the provisions of Section 3(4)(a) read with Section 3(1) of the Act for mandating its dealers to use recommended lubricants/ oils and penalising them for use of non-recommended lubricants and oils.

The final order has been passed today on informations filed by the dealers of HMIL viz. Fx Enterprise Solutions India Pvt. Ltd. and St. Antonys Cars Pvt. Ltd.

Apart from issuing a cease and desist order against HMIL, CCI has imposed a penalty of Rs. 87 crore upon HMIL for the anti-competitive conduct. The penalty has been levied @ 0.3% of the average relevant turnover of HMIL of preceding three years. CCI noted in its order that for the purposes of determining the relevant turnover for the impugned infringement, revenue from sale of motor vehicles alone have been taken into account.

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Import of Vegetable Oils Up by 35% in May 2017
Jun 14,2017

Import of vegetable oils during May 2017 is reported at 1,384,439 tons compared to 1,024,878 tons in May 2016 i.e. up by 35%, as per the data compiled by The Solvent Extractors Association of India. It consisted of 1,323,792 tons of edible oils and 60,647 tons of non-edible oils. The overall import of vegetable oils during first seven months of current oil year 2016-17, November 2016 to May 2017 is reported at 8,518,704 tons compared to 8,593,587 tons, more or less of the last year.

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WPI inflation dips to six month low of 2.2% in May 2017
Jun 14,2017

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation, base year 2011-12, dipped to a six-month low of 2.2% in May 2017, showing sharp moderation for third straight months from 3.9% in April, 5.1% in March 2017 and 33-month high of 5.5% in February 2017. The WPI inflation dipped driven by fall in inflation for all three major sub-groups - primary articles, fuel and power group as well as manufactured products group in May 2017.

Inflation of primary articles turned negative at (-) 1.8% in May 2017 from 1.8% in April 2017. The inflation for fuel items dipped to 11.7% in May 2017 from 18.5% in April 2017. The inflation for manufactured products also fell to 2.6% in May 2017 from 2.7% in April 2017.

As per major commodity group-wise, inflation declined for foodgrains, fruits, vegetables, egg, meat & fish, spices, tea, betel leaves, fibres, oilseeds, metallic minerals, crude petroleum, mineral oils, electricity, food products, textiles, wearing apparel, leather products, and furtniture in May 2017. On the other hand, inflation of milk, floriculture, coal, chemical products, rubber & plastic products, basic metals, fabricated metal products, other non-metallic products, motor vehicle increased in May 2017.

Inflation of food items (food articles and food products) dipped to 0.1% in May 2017 from 2.9% in April 2017 level. Meanwhile, inflation of non-food items (all commodities excluding food items) also eased to 3.1% in May 2017 from 4.3% in April 2017.

Core inflation (manufactured products excluding foods products) rose marginally to 2.1% in May 2017 from 2% in April 2017.

The contribution of primary articles to the overall inflation, at 2.17%, was negative at (-) 47 basis points (bps) in May 2017 compared with 48 bps to 3.85% in April 2017. The contribution of fuel product group dipped to 113 bps against 175 bps in April 2017, while that of manufactured products was lower at 163 bps compared with 171 bps.

The contribution of food items (food articles and food products) to inflation fell to mere 04 bps in 2.17% in May 2017 compared with 85 bps to 3.85% in April 2017. Meanwhile, the contribution of non-food items (all commodities excluding food items) was 221 bps in May 2017 compared with 307 bps in April 2017.

The WPI inflation stood at 1.7% in April-May FY2018 against (-) 1% in April-May FY2017. The primary articles inflation was at 0% in April-May FY2018 from 4% in April-May FY2017, while fuel products inflation increased to 15% from (-) 14.6%. The inflation for manufactured products bounced to 2.6% in April-May FY2018 from (-) 0.7% in April-May FY2017.

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Carry Forward of unavailed Cenvat Credit in respect of assignment of right to use any natural resource under GST
Jun 14,2017

Cenvat Credit Rules, 2004 provide that credit of Service Tax paid in a Financial Year, on the onetime charges payable in full upfront or in installments, for the service of assignment of the right to use any natural resource by the Government, local authority or any other person, shall be spread evenly over a period of three years.

Cenvat Credit Rules have been amended vide notification No. 15/2017-Central Excise (N.T.) dated 12.06.2017 so as to provide that Cenvat credit in respect of such services which remains unavailed on the day immediately preceding the appointed day may be availed of in full on that very day. Appointed day means the day when Central GST comes into effect. The Amendment would enable service recipients to carry forward such unavailed credit of Service Tax under the GST regime. As a result Telecom Service Providers, who have been allotted Spectrum in auction conducted in 2016 and have already availed one third credit in respect of Service Tax paid by them, during 2016-17, would be eligible to take the remaining two thirds credit pertaining to 2016-17 in the GST regime, scheduled to roll-out on 1st July, 2017.

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Cabinet approves Interest Subvention to banks on Short-Term crop loan to farmers
Jun 14,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Interest Subvention Scheme (ISS) for farmers for the year 2017-18. This will help farmers getting short term crop loan up to Rs. 3 lakh payable within one year at only 4% per annum. The Government has earmarked a sum of Rs. 20,339 crore for this purpose.

The interest subvention will be given to Public Sector Banks (PSBs), Private Sector Banks, Cooperative Banks and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) on use of own funds and to NABARD for refinance to RRBs and Cooperative Banks.

The Interest Subvention Scheme will continue for one year and it will be implemented by NABARD and RBI.

The objective of the scheme is to make available at ground level, agricultural credit for Short Term crop loans at an affordable rate to give a boost to agricultural productivity and production in the country.

The salient features of the scheme are as follows:

a) The Central Government will provide interest subvention of 5 per cent per annum to all prompt payee farmers for short term crop loan upto one year for loan upto Rs. 3 lakhs borrowed by them during the year 2017-18. Farmers will thus have to effectively pay only 4% as interest. In case farmers do not repay the short term crop loan in time they would be eligible for interest subvention of 2% as against 5% available above.

b) The Central Government will provide approximately Rs. 20,339 crore as interest subvention for 2017-18.

c) In order to give relief to small and marginal farmers who would have to borrow at 9% for the post harvest storage of their produce, the Central Government has approved an interest subvention of 2% i.e. an effective interest rate of 7% for loans upto 6 months.

d) To provide relief to the farmers affected by natural calamities, the interest subvention of 2% will be provided to Banks for the first year on the restructured amount.

e) In case farmers do not repay the short term crop loan in time they would be eligible for interest subvention of 2% as against available above.

Major Impact :

Credit is a critical input in achieving high productivity and overall production in the agricultural sector. The Cabinets approval of a sum of Rs.20,339 crore to meet various obligations arising from interest subvention being provided to the farmers on short term crop loans, as also loans on post harvest storages meets an important input requirement of the farmers in the country. This institutional credit will help in delinking the farmers from non-institutional sources of credit, where they are compelled to borrow at usurious rates of interest.

Since the crop insurance under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) is linked to availing of crop loans, the farmers would stand to benefit from both farmer oriented initiatives of the Government, by accessing the crop loans.

An important initiative of the government is market reforms, with a view to ensuring that the farmers benefit from remunerative prices for their produce in the market. The electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) that was launched by Government on April, 2016 aims at integrating the dispersed APMCs through an electronic platform and enable price discovery in a competitive manner, to the advantage of the farmers. While the farmers are advised to undertake on-line trade, it is also important that they avail themselves of post-harvest loans by storing their produce in the accredited warehouses. The loans are available to Kisan Credit Card (KCC) holding small and marginal farmers at interest subvention of 2 per cent on such storages for a period of upto six months. This will help the farmers to sell when they find the market is buoyant, and avoid distress sale. It is, therefore, needful for the small and marginal farmers to keep their KCCs alive.

The Government is keen in improving income of the farmers, for which it has launched several new initiatives that encompass activities from seed to marketing. The credit from institutional sources will complement all such government initiatives like Soil Health Card, Input Management, Per Drop More Crop in Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana (PMKSY), PMFBY, e-NAM, etc.

Background:

The scheme has been running since 2006-07. Under this, the farmers can avail concessional crop loans of upto Rs.3 lakh at 7% rate of interest. It also provides for an additional subvention of 3%. Prompt Repayment within a period of one year from the date of advance. As a measure to check distress sale, post-harvest loans for storage in accredited warehouses against Negotiable Warehouse Receipts (NWRs) are available for upto 6 months for KCC holding small & marginal farmers. During the year 2016-17, the volume of short term crop loan lent stood at Rs.6,22,685 crore, surpassing the target of Rs. 6,15,000 crore.

Attention: Brief for Electronic Media

Government provides Interest subvention to different banks and cooperatives for short term crop loan extended by them to farmers at concessional rate of 7% and in case of timely repayment, an additional subvention of 3%. In effect, crop loans are available to farmers at 4% rate of interest. The scheme also envisages other benefits including interest at concessional rate of 7% for storage in ware houses accredited by Warehousing Development Regulatory Authority (WDRA) for upto 6 months post harvest for avoiding distress sale. This provides institutional credit to the farmers and disengages them from non-institutional sources of credit, where they are prone to exploitation by private money lenders. All short term crop loan accounts will be Aadhaar linked from current year.

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Cabinet approves signing of Memorandum of Understanding between India and Armenia on cooperation on youth matters
Jun 14,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi was apprised about an Memorandum of Understanding which has already been signed between India and Armenia for cooperation on youth matters.

The MoU was signed in April, 2017. This MoU shall remain in force for a period of five years. Thereafter, the MoU will be automatically renewed for successive periods of five years, unless either Party notifies the other Party of its intention of not to renew the MoU, at least six months before its expiration. It can be terminated by either Party after giving six months prior notice in writing to the other Party.

The objective of the MoU is to strengthen and encourage cooperation between the two countries on youth matters through participation in events and activities organized by the parties, information and knowledge sharing, and youth exchanges between the two countries.

The areas of cooperation on Youth matters includes exchanges of youth, representatives of youth organizations, and government officials in-charge of youth policy-making. It will also be applicable for extension of invitations to international conferences and seminars on youth matters held in the two countries, exchange of printed materials, films and experiences. The cooperation will also be in areas of research and other information on youth matters, participation in youth camps, youth festivals and other youth events held in the two countries, etc.

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Cabinet approves signing of MoU between India and Bangladesh for promoting cooperation in field of Information Technology and Electronics
Jun 14,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi was apprised about an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which has already been signed between India and Bangladesh for promoting cooperation in the field of Information Technology and Electronics (IT&E).

The MoU was signed in April, 2017 between Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India and Information and Communication Technology Division of Bangladesh. It will remain in force for a period of five years. Thereafter, the MoU will be extended at any time within the period it remains in force by mutual written consent of the Parties. It can be terminated by either Party after giving six months prior notice in writing to the other Party.

The MoU in the field of IT&E is technical in nature and focused primarily on e-Governance, m-Governance, e-Public Services Delivery, Cyber Security, Capacity Building etc. The MoU aims to explore business opportunities, IT&E market in Bangladesh by Indian IT companies and attract investment in Indian electronics and IT sectors in India which would indirectly generate employment opportunities.

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Cabinet approves proposal to introduce the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill 2017
Jun 14,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal to introduce a Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017. The Bill would provide for a comprehensive resolution framework for specified financial sector entities to deal with bankruptcy situation in banks, insurance companies and financial sector entities.

The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance, Bill 2017 when enacted, will pave the way for setting up of the Resolution Corporation. It would lead to repeal or amendment of resolution-related provisions in sectoral Acts as listed in Schedules of the Bill. It will also result in the repealing of the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961 to transfer the deposit insurance powers and responsibilities to the Resolution Corporation.

The Resolution Corporation would protect the stability and resilience of the financial system; protecting the consumers of covered obligations up to a reasonable limit; and protecting public funds, to the extent possible.

The Government has recently enacted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code) for the insolvency resolution of non- financial entities. The proposed Bill complements the Code by providing a resolution framework for the financial sector. Once implemented, this Bill together with the Code will provide a comprehensive resolution framework for the economy.

The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017 seeks to give comfort to the consumers of financial service providers in financial distress. It also aims to inculcate discipline among financial service providers in the event of financial crises by limiting the use of public money to bail out distressed entities. It would help in maintaining financial stability in the economy by ensuring adequate preventive measures, while at the same time providing the necessary instruments for dealing with an event of crisis. The Bill aims to strengthen and streamline the current framework of deposit insurance for the benefit of a large number of retail depositors. Further, this Bill seeks to decrease the time and costs involved in resolving distressed financial entities.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Palestine on agriculture cooperation
Jun 14,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture in the State of Palestine on agriculture cooperation.

The MoU was signed in May 2017 during the visit of the Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs to India.

The MoU provides for cooperation in the fields of agricultural research; veterinary field including capacity enhancement of Palestinian Veterinary services and Animal Health; irrigation and climate change. It will also be extended to areas such as plant and soil nutrition; exchange of experiences in the field of sanitary and phytosanitary legislation and plant protection Animal husbandry, modern irrigation technology including exchange of experiences, and training and capacity building, etc. would also come in its purview.

Under the MoU, an Agricultural Steering Committee will be constituted to determine the programs and action plans to achieve the objectives provided in the MoU It will also set the agenda for cooperation.

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Govt. willing to provide protection to domestic pipe manufacturers against unfair trade practices provided industry acts responsibly: Official
Jun 14,2017

The Union Government has categorically stated that though it is willing to provide protection to the domestic pipe manufacturers against unfair trade practices, the industry must also act responsibly, a top Steel Ministry official said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++While we are willing to give protection, it comes with a sense of responsibility so please be very-very responsible, charges of cartelisation then become very-very difficult to fend off as prices start rising dramatically,n++ said Mr Syedain Abbasi, joint secretary, Ministry of Steel.

Stating that it is not in governments interest to buy steel at prices which are very-very high, Mr Abbasi said, n++Then if people gather and say that look these controls have to go then ultimately it will be the pipe industry which will be the loser.n++

He urged the pipe industry to look at it very hard and very carefully. n++We want to provide you the protection so that you can survive, beyond that if you want to do then you will have to compete in the open market without any protections.n++

Noting how efforts have been renewed after the new US president took over to limit the import of steel and steel products to a significant extent in to the US, Mr Abbasi said, n++In such a situation, when stronger economies in the world are looking at protecting their industry, we have to be very clear that our domestic markets also require to be protected against unfair trade practices. That is something, at least in the steel industry, we are very clear about.n++

He said that after the policy on Domestically Manufactured Iron & Steel Products (DMI&SP) had come there were concerns expressed by the press and by organisations like GAIL, IOC as well as the Petroleum Ministry about a significant hike in prices.

n++My request would be that while we are willing to provide protection, it would become very-very untenable to us to continue if you suddenly find that the prices in the next tender for GAIL pipeline have gone up by 30 per cent,n++ said Mr Abbasi.

Terming the impact of goods and services tax (GST) on steel industry, marginally beneficial, he said that in raw material - duty will come down by 1-1.5 per cent.

n++Even in steel products while it is 18 per cent but a lot of double taxation has been moved out then again there will be an impact of 1-1.15 per cent,n++ said Mr Abbasi.

On resolution of non-performing assets (NPAs) in steel sector, he said that it depends not only on GST and DMI&SP but also on pickup in steel demand, prices and other related factors.

Mr Abbasi informed that after the intervention of Prime Ministers Office (PMO) the problems created by the railways in giving way leave agreement, to cross the slurry pipeline either underground or over-head across railway land have abated.

n++This is again a huge market for pipe manufacturers to exploit and I would request the pipe manufacturers to promote with ministries and state governments as in terms of transportation and logistics this is a far cheaper, environmentally safer and better option,n++ said Mr Abbasi.

n++This is something which needs to be promoted all across and pipe manufacturers would be doing themselves a disservice if they do not have a strong promotional arm to promote these issues,n++ he added.

He further said that even the Steel Ministry is also working in terms of promotion of steel by looking at replacement of a lot of cement and concrete with steel because it is quicker to implement and in terms of life-cycle costs it is cheaper.

He also highlighted that there has been a constant refrain in the pipe manufacturing industry that capabilities do not exist in the country to manufacture API grade steel or that they are too costly, especially which require X-65 and above.

n++I would like to assure the pipe manufacturers that there are enough capabilities within the country to manufacture those grades of steel whether it is plates, coils or sheets and we would encourage you to buy from domestic producers,n++ he said.

n++I assure you that they would be competitive because they also have to compete with global players and though we have ensured that we have given protection under anti-dumping to HR coil and CR coil and others, we have given it at basic grade prices there is easily $100 cushion in terms of what our basic grade are imported at and what is actually the prevailing international price for your API grade, so you would find them receptive to being competitive,n++ added Mr Abbasi.

On the slurry pipelines, he said that if you look at what is going to happen in the steel industry, India is poised for enormous growth. n++Across the globe, the only country which is showing significant growth in terms of market is India.n++

He added that Pipe industry in India has a great future as it has exported enormous quantities of pipes all over the world and the quality of manufacturing is well-known internationally and with renewed stress on infrastructure and Make in India, the best days of pipe industry are ahead of them.

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