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Govt. may accord infrastructure status to smaller tourism projects- Secretary Tourism, GoI
Jul 12,2017

The Government of Uttarakhand is working towards unveiling a new policy to give a fillip to the tourism sector in the state. The home to paanch dhams - Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, Gangotri along with Sri Hemkund Sahib - Uttarakhand is promoting spiritual tourism by developing circuits such as Devi Circuit and Shiv Circuit. This year the number of tourist arrivals in the state has already crossed the 17 lakh mark and this reflects the immense potential it has as a tourist destination, said Satpal Maharaj, Minister of Tourism, Irrigation, Minor Irrigation, Cultural, Watershed Management, Pilgrimage and Religious Fairs, Flood Control, Rain Water Harvesting, India-Nepal-Uttarakhand River Projects, Government of Uttarakhand.

Satpal Maharaj said that adventure tourism, medical and wellness tourism, and culinary tourism, were being developed. Besides, to make Uttarakhand a worldclass winter destination, the government was planning to set up skiing resorts and was undertaking other such initiatives. He added that homestays were also being promoted to allow tourists to spend time in the lap of nature.

Satpal Maharaj said that funds have been sanctioned by the Central government for construction of all-weather roads and laying down of railway tracks. He urged the industry to invest in the state as it offered immense opportunities and develop the varied tourism destinations.

Ms. Rashmi Varma, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said that the tourism sector suffers from a gap in terms of world-class infrastructure development in the countrys tourism destinations. There was a shortage of one lakh classified hotel rooms in the country and this gap can be bridged only by the states alone as they adopt investor-friendly policies. The government was looking into giving infrastructure status to smaller units and was making the ministrys website more dynamic and robust to make all relevant information available online.

Ms. Varma said that there was a need to develop experiential tourism for foreign tourists such as cruise tourism and textile tourism. The overseas offices were also being revamped to reach out to tourists across the globe. She added that for promotion and marketing of tourism products, social media was being leveraged to reach global tourists.

Dr. Jyotsna Suri, Past President FICCI & Chairperson, FICCI Tourism Committee and Chairperson & MD, Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, said that the challenge lies in creating world class infrastructure to significantly increase tourist arrivals and create a strong, unequivocal Brand India. The Government and industry need to join hands to jointly create a policy landscape that can spur the growth momentum. She urged the stakeholders to utilize the varied FICCI platforms which were promoting tourism to realize the true potential of this sector.

Mr. Hari Ranjan Rao, Managing Director, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation Ltd., said that tourism is private sector driven and action lies in the state for the development of tourism infrastructure as 80 per cent of the items related to it were in the State List. Speaking about the initiatives undertaken by the Madhya Pradesh government, he said that the new tourism policy which came into effect in 2016 in the state has made it easier for investors to acquire land by creating land banks for developing hotels. The process of lease, tenders and bids have been made transparent by making all the information available online. The Madhya Pradesh government was facilitating the investors in various segments such as water sports and cruise tourism with its policies in diverse sectors related to tourism.

Mr. Rana Kapoor, CEO & MD, YES BANK and Chairman, YES Global Institute, said, n++Indias Travel & Tourism industry is the seventh largest in the world and is also a major generator of employment and livelihood in India, accounting for 9.3% of total employment in 2016 and expected to generate nearly 50 million jobs by 2027. The FICCI- YES BANK Knowledge Report Investment in Tourism Infrastructure: Igniting Indias Growth Engine makes key recommendations towards unleashing the true potential of this vital sector through sustainable infrastructure development. I am confident that this publication will encourage productive dialogue amongst all stakeholders in the Travel & Tourism value-chain and contribute towards making tourism a key driver of Indias growth story.n++

Mr. Nikhil Sahni, Senior President and Country Head of Government Relationship Management & Strategic Government Advisory at Yes Bank, said that the way forward to develop tourism sector in India was by granting infrastructure status to smaller projects; improving ease of doing business; enhancing private sector participation; promoting medical and wellness tourism; developing MICE infrastructure; developing coastal area; promoting heritage destinations; converging government schemes with organizations such as NABARD, SIDBI; and having niche-based PPP interventions.

Mr. Rahul Chakravarty, Consultant - Tourism, FICCI, said that structured pre-fixed B2G meetings were going to be held during the two-day Meet, and FICCI was facilitating face to face business meetings with the prominent investors to encourage investments in tourism infrastructure.

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To be an IAS officer remains among preferred choices for youth: ASSOCHAM survey
Jul 12,2017

To be a civil servant, more specifically, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, remains among the top most preferred choices for the youth, as is evident from a sharp rise in the number of the applicants for the coveted positions, an ASSOCHAM Paper has noted.

As many as 11,35,943 candidates took the civil services preliminary examination in 2016 as compared to 9,45,908 in the previous year, with number of aspirants increasing by almost two lakhs, as per the data sourced from the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

The Paper said the IAS remains the top most choice for the aspirants who are enamoured by the clout and powers, much improved salaries- perks and above all, the social status that goes with the civil servants in the drivers seats of administration. A field survey of over 650 appearing for the civil services examination by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) endorsed this view.

While traditionally, the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) has been the second best choice for the aspirants because of its cool and intellectual nature of the job, more and more youth are now falling for the Indian Police Service (IPS) if they cannot make it to the IAS.

Again the power, position and social status are the driving forces, though the job involves security risks especially in some of the troubled regions, requiring a different kind of personal commitment, the paper noted.

It also found that there has been an increase intake in the civil services from some of the economically backward states like Bihar, Odisha. This may also be possible because more and more boys and girls from the advanced states like Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra are opting for high end private sector jobs either in India or abroad; after completing engineering and MBAs again from global educational institutions, remarked the ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat.

As per the official data, in 2015, a total of 4,65,882 candidates took the civil services preliminary examination as compared to 4,51,602 in 2014.

However, it has also been noted that some of the students from high end business schools and engineering colleges are also opting for the civil services. Here, the driving force is the desire to make a difference to the society, more than anything else.

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NITI Aayog sorts out the pending issues of Punjab with various Ministries of Union Government
Jul 12,2017

NITI Aayog is closely working with the States to foster cooperative federalism through structured support and mechanisms. One of the mandates assigned to NITI Aayog is to offer a platform for resolution of pending issues with the Central Government to accelerate the implementation of developmental agenda of the States. In this regard, a meeting was held on 11th July, 2017 under the Chairmanship of Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog with the Senior Officers of Government of Punjab headed by Chief Secretary Sh. Karan Avtar Singh and officers of Central Ministries. The issues flagged by State Government covering Ministries of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare; Water Resources; and Departments of Revenue and Financial Services of Ministry of Finance were discussed.

On the issue relating to providing financial support to District Central Cooperative Banks of the States for their sustainable growth, it was agreed in principle to setup an Expert Group under the Chairmanship of Prof.Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog with members from NABARD, State Governments, RBI, Department of Financial Services and subject experts for evolving possible pathways for strengthening the cooperative banks in the country. It was decided that regulatory issues for cooperative banks would also be discussed by the Expert Group.

As regards issue of inclusion of livestock and dairy farming as a component in the Crop Diversification Plan under RKVY, the representative of Ministry of Agriculture indicated that there is flexibility under the scheme for states. It was indicated that under the CDP, the State can include green fodder as a crop for replacing area under paddy.

As regards issue pertaining to clearance of Project for Extension, Renovation and Modernisation of Canals being fed from river Sutlej, the Ministry of Water Resources indicated that the approval would be provided within a week of receipt of revised proposal from the state Government of Punjab. Shri Karan Avtar Singh, Chief Secretary, Punjab expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting and thanked Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog for taking this initiative.

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JNPT Records Improvement in Performance during First Quarter of 2017-18 Container traffic up by 5.11 per cent
Jul 11,2017

Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), countrys largest container port registered a 5.11 per cent growth in container traffic in the first quarter of the current financial year by handling 1.20 million TEUs as compared to 1.14 million TEUs in the corresponding quarter of the last financial year. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Container Terminal (JNPCT) handled 4.01 lakh TEUs during this period as against 3.99 lakh TEUs in the corresponding quarter of the last year, showing 0.5% growth. The APM terminal handled 4.99 lakh TEUs, up by 14.5 per cent and NSIGT handled 1.34lakh TEUs as compared to 1.17 lakh TEUs last year.

The port also registered a 2.8 % growth in the total volume of cargo handled in the first quarter of the current financial year. A total volume of 16.35 million tonnes of cargo was handled as compared to 15.90 million tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year.

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ESIC & DGFASLI sign MoU for collaboration on occupational health and prevention of occupational injuries and diseases
Jul 11,2017

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between ESIC and Directorate General Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) for collaboration in the field of occupational health and prevention of occupational injuries and diseases. Speaking on this occasion, Shri Bandaru Dattatreya, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Labour & Employment, said that Ministry is committed to providing social security for the workers across the country. The MoU will help in spreading awareness for healthy working conditions, reduce the danger of diseases or injuries and provide good quality life for workers.

The MoU seeks to establish a mutual collaboration that will enhance Occupational Health of workers; reduce the occurrence of work related injuries and diseases. Special focus shall be paid to precarious working conditions in the formal and informal sectors. The main focus is occupational health by establishing DGFASLI-ESIC Occupational Health Training, Research & Development Centre (OHTRDC) at Regional Labour Institute, Faridabad followed by at other institutes located at Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Kanpur. The collaboration aims at improving the quality of life through joint scientific research following other activities:-

a. Assessment of OSH challenges in all the spheres of economic activity.

b. Special activities for prevention and control of Asbestosis, Silicosis and other occupational diseases.

c. Development of training modules for different target groups.

This Memorandum comes into force from today and will remain in force for a time period of three (03) years.

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Mission Parivar Vikas to focus on 146 districts in 7 states with high TFR
Jul 11,2017

n++Mission Parivar Vikas will focus on 146 high fertility districts in 7 states with high TFR. Under this, specific targeted initiatives shall be taken for population stabilisation through better services deliveryn++. This was stated by Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare.

Shri Nadda stated that Mission Parivar Vikas is a new initiative conceived by the Ministry with a strategic focus on improving access through provision of services, promotional schemes, commodity security, capacity building, enabling environment and intensive monitoring. Shri Nadda congratulated the team for undertaking micro-planning for these districts and developing need-based programmes to address TFR. The Health Minister also advised the officials to undertake half yearly review of the programme and correlate the achievements with time to gauge whether the programme is moving in the right direction or not. He stated that n++We have enhanced the basket of contraceptive choices to meet the changing needs of people and have taken steps to ensure quality assured services and commodities are delivered to the last-mile consumers in both rural and urban areas.n++

During the event, Shri J P Nadda introduced the new injectable in the public health system under the n++Antaran++ program and launched a new software - Family Planning Logistics Management Information System (FP-LMIS) - designed to provide robust information on the demand and distribution of contraceptives to health facilities and ASHAs to strengthen supply chain management.

As a part of the new communications campaign linked to the rollout, the Health Minister also launched a new consumer friendly website on family planning and a 52 week radio show for couples to discuss issues related to marriage and family planning, which will be aired across the country. The Health Minister further highlighted the life cycle approach of the Ministry and stated that a continuum of care approach has been adopted by the Ministry with the articulation of Strategic approach to Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent health (RMNCH+A), bringing focus on all the life stages.

Smt. Anupriya Patel, Minister of State (HFW), said that population dynamics have a significant influence on sustainable development. The changes in population growth rates and age structures are closely linked to national and global developmental challenges and their solutions. She further stated that the issue of population stabilization is so gigantic in its proportion that the government alone cannot address the issue and thus the collective involvement of NGOs, private sector and corporate sector shall play a pivotal role.

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No GST is applicable on free food supplied in anna kshetras run by religious institutions
Jul 11,2017

There are media reports suggesting that GST applies on free food supplied in anna kshetras run by religious institutions. This is completely untrue. No GST is applicable on such food supplied free.

Further, prasadam supplied by religious places like temples, mosques, churches, gurudwaras, dargahs, etc. attracts Nil CGST and SGST or IGST, as the case may be.

However, some of the inputs and input services required for making prasadam would be subject to GST. These include sugar, vegetable edible oils, ghee, butter, service for transportation of these goods etc. Most of these inputs or input services have multiple uses. Under GST regime, it is difficult to prescribe a separate rate of tax for sugar, etc. when supplied for a particular purpose.

Further, GST being a multi-stage tax, end use based exemptions or concessions are difficult to administer. Therefore, GST does not envisage end use based exemptions. It would, therefore, not be desirable to provide end use based exemption for inputs or input services for making prasadam or food for free distribution by religious institutions.

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Moodys: Asian Liquidity Stress Index weakens to 25.6% in June from 25.2% in May
Jul 11,2017

Moodys Investors Service says that its Asian Liquidity Stress Index (Asian LSI) weakened in June, rising to 25.6% from 25.2% in May 2017.

The Asian LSI measures the percentage of high-yield companies with SGL-4 scores as a proportion of high-yield corporate family ratings (CFRs) and decreases when speculative-grade liquidity improves.

The June figure ends six months of continuous improvement, and the reading now remains just above the long-term average of 22.9%, highlighting that weak liquidity is still a concern for many companies in Asia, says Brian Grieser, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Credit Officer.

The Moodys report points out that the liquidity stress sub-index for North Asian high-yield companies increased to 26.2% in June from 24.7% in May, and within this portfolio, the Chinese sub-index rose to 27% from 25.4%.

Meanwhile, the Chinese high-yield property sub-index remained at 7.5% in June, an all-time low. The Chinese high-yield industrials sub-index also increased to 50% from 48.4%.

The South and Southeast Asian liquidity stress sub-index also improved to 24.4% in June from 26.1% in May, and the Indonesian sub-index decreased to 19% from 22.7%, the lowest level since November 2015.

Moodys further notes that the strong momentum seen in high-yield issuance this year continued in June. Rated high-yield issuance totaled $5.4 billion in the month, driven by China Evergrande Groups (B2 stable) issuance of $3.8 billion of new notes.

Junes total also raised year-to-date issuance to $21.6 billion, which is near the $23.3 billion issued in 2013, the strongest level in the past five years.

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Dismantling check posts, post- GST save 24-36 hrs trucking time on trunk routes: ASSOCHAM
Jul 11,2017

Notwithstanding some teething troubles, the GST is saving trucking time on trunk routes, connecting top cities, between 24-36 hours besides saving the fleet owners Rs 5,000 -7,500 per trip by way of corruption at the octroi and sales tax/VAT check posts which have since been dismantled by most of the states, an ASSOCHAM quick check has noted.

n++Our quick check has shown that on an average a lorry/truck runs for 10-12 hours a day and should cover a distance of about 2200 KMs between, say Delhi - Chennai in 3 days. However, traversing through different states and braving the stoppages at several check posts of VAT, octroi, other local taxes was resulting in additional two-3 days , including those taken for no entry traffic restrictions for big cities during the day time . So, the consignment between Delhi-Chennai, for instance was taking 5-6 days. At least 24-36 hours would easily be saved for these trunk routes after dismantling of the check posts, by a conservative estimate, said the ASSOCHAM QC after interacting with the fleet owners and transport intermediaries.

Besides, the bigger nuisance of corruption at each of the check posts and through various states would have meant an additional expenditure of Rs 5,000-7500 per trip. Thankfully, that has also been done away and one hopes a new avatar is not found for the same. For now, it has come as a big relief for the transporters who say, the ultimate advantage is accruing to the customers and to the trade and manufacturing value supply chain.

The interaction with the fleet owners revealed that before start of a trip, the crew, comprising driver(s) and helpers was given out of pocket or petty cash of at least Rs 10,000 for the trunk routes of Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata, Mumbai-Jaipur, Ahmedabad-Delhi, Bengaluru- Delhi and so on.

On completion of the trip, the driver would give his account hissab that would include the expenses at each of the forced halt points.

What a relief, it is.... We hope, further improvement is done in this direction in terms of improving other infrastructure. For instance, the no entry traffic restrictions can be done away if high class dedicated bye-passes are constructed around the major cities so that the truckers can play seamlessly. , said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat.

Improvement in freight movement through road and rail would not only result in a huge cost saving for the trade and industry but would take India quite high on the global index of Ease of Doing Business.

One hopes that the GST is implemented in earnest by all the states in coordination with the Centre and comes out as a success story for the country, the chamber said.

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Ministry of Civil Aviation seeks to upgrade its AirSewa web portal; consults stakeholders for designing AirSewa 2.0
Jul 11,2017

The Ministry of Civil Aviation held a meeting of all stakeholders last week to invite suggestions for designing AirSewa 2.0, the upgraded version of the AirSewa web portal and mobile app that was launched in November last year to make air travel convenient and hassle-free. Nodal Officers of all stakeholders like Airlines, Airports, Immigration, Customs, DGCA, etc attended the meeting. Valuable suggestions for service improvement, enhancing user comfort and quick redressal of complaints were received and will be considered for incorporation in the design of AirSewa 2.0.

This follows the success of AirSewa1.0 which has been received well, with around 19,000 app downloads so far and over 65,000 web portal hits since its launch. More than 92% of grievances have been resolved and most of them within the stipulated time limits.

The Ministry is committed to providing a safe, and comfortable air travel experience to users. Flight delays, problem in refunds, long queues, inadequate facilities at airports and complaints of lost baggage are the most common problems that air travelers face. n++There was a need to respond to these problems in a systematic manner rather than on ad-hoc basis. n++The Ministry had launched AirSewa web portal and mobile app on 26.11.2016 to address this need.

AirSewa is operated through an interactive web portal and a mobile app for both Android and iOS platforms. n++e-portal includes a mechanism for grievance redressal, back office operations for grievance handling, flight status/schedule information, airport Information and FAQs.

Users can now check live flight status for all inbound and outbound flights in a single click. Information regarding weather conditions and services for some selected airports is also available on this portal. Flights can be searched by flight number or for all flights to or from a particular airport. Information such as airport services like wheel chair, transport/parking, rest and relax, Wifi services etc. can also be easily accessed.

Timely and satisfactory grievance redressal was an important priority as users had to approach several stakeholders to get their grievances redressed. AirSewa is a one-stop solution for grievance redressal as passengers can now register any grievance on the mobile app or web portal. Thn++ey can also upload voice or video along with an elaborate description of their issues.

Thn++e portal has helped make the grievance redressal system responsive, transparent, accountable and efficient by using technology. Users can now track the status and response through reference number provided. n++There are stipulated timelines in place to address the issue. n++The portal is closely monitored by control room to ensure timely and effective redressal. A message is sent to the concerned nodal officer if any grievance remains unattended or unresolved. To improve the user experience an option to provide feedback and rate the overall experience and satisfaction has been provided.

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Residential real estate prices increase in half of the cities and declined in other half of cities surveyed
Jul 11,2017

The revamped and expanded official online user friendly NHB RESIDEX that captures movements in the prices of residential real estate prices released today revealed that prices during January-March, 2017 have increased over that of October-December, 2016, in about half of the cities covered under the survey while the other half have either registered a decline or remained the same.

Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu today released the new version of NHB RESIDEX on the occasion of the National Housing Bank entering its 30th year.

Speaking on the RESIDEX, Shri Naidu said the price indices for the last quarter of last financial year i.e 2016-17 proved wrong the critics of demonetization who said that economy will take a hit. He also said that the National Housing Bank also collected data on land prices which showed that a correction in land prices is taking place which again reflects the declining trend in transactions of unaccounted money.

NHB RESIDEX for January-March,2017 revealed that price indices for residential properties based on actual market prices for ongoing construction prices have increased over the previous quarter in 24 of the 47 cities covered in the Index including in Jaipur, Chennai, Lucknow, Guwahati, Howrah, Hyderabad, Bidhannagar etc. In Delhi, Faridabad, Chandigarh, Patna and Nashik etc, prices have come down. This component of RESIDEX, called Housing Price Index@Market Prices is based on actual market information.

The other component of RESIDEX called as HPI@Assessment Prices based on the information furnished by banks and other lending agencies showed that prices have increased in 27 of the 50 cities surveyed. These include; Gurgaon, Mumbai, Vadodara, Raipur, Kanpur, Chandigarh, Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam and Coimbattore. Prices, however, have declined in Ranchi, Gandhinagar, Surat, Ludhiana, Kolkata etc.

The RESIDEX has been computed for three categories of houses with carpet of below 60 sq.mtre, 61-110 sq.mtres and 111 sq.mtres and above.

RESIDEX, the countrys first official housing price index (HPI) was launched in 2007 covering 26 cities and was published till March, 2015 on a quarterly basis. The revamped RESIDEX has been expanded to 50 cities spread over 18 States and UTs. These include 38 smart cities, of which 18 are state capitals.

Base year for the new RESIDEX has been moved from 2007 to 2012-13 to capture the changing structure of the economy besides capturing the latest information to accurately reflect the current economic situation, as per the internationally accepted practices.

Shri Shriram Kalyanaraman, CMD of National Housing Bank informed that RESIDEX will soon cover 100 cities and also will be further widened to include Land Price Indices, Building Materials Price Indices and Housing Rental Index.

NHB RESIDEX helps buyers and sellers to check and compare prices before entering a transaction. They can also analyse the price trends across different cities both at composite level and product category level. It helps lenders in credit evaluation. It provides promoters with a standardized tool to assess the housing demand. Government agencies can monitor trends in macro and micro markets and predict future behavior of the housing market.

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Extension of NPS Fortnight from 11th July, 2017 to 21st July, 2017
Jul 11,2017

With a view to promote and create awareness about the National Pension System (NPS) and improve the quality of services provided to the subscribers, PFRDA is observing NPS fortnight from 27th June, 2017 to 11th July, 2017 successfully. Keeping in view the demand raised by Government Nodal Offices and also benefits to the NPS subscribers, PFRDA has decided to extend the NPS Service Fortnight from 11th July, 2017 to 21st July 2017. During this extended period also all the nodal offices, Pay and Account Offices and DDOs under the Central and State Governments, Points of Presence/ banks/ aggregators/ banking correspondents etc. will be involved with the acquisition, servicing of NPS subscribers and creating awareness about the National Pension System, in a proactive manner.

NSDL has also developed an exclusive web link i.e. https://npscra.nsdl.co.in/nps.php ,which encapsulates all the information and functionalities related to NPS subscriber, including NPS Mobile App, which may be instrumental for effective & efficient use of NPS Service Fortnight.

Benefits of downloading mobile app:

The NPS Mobile APP gives details of Subscribers account online without approaching their respective nodal offices. The Subscriber can access latest account details as is available on the CRA web site using user ID (PRAN) and password. The APP gives better user experience and provides additional functionalities such as

(i) View of current Holdings viz Percentage of Asset allocation among PFMs (Unit , NAV & Amount) & total value of holdings etc.

(ii) Request for Transaction Statement for the year on your email ID.

(iii) Change of contact details like Telephone, Mobile no. and email ID.

(iv) Change of Password / Secret Question

(v) View of Accounts detail viz name, address, associated nodal office and registration no. etc.

(vi) Regeneration of password using secret question.

(vii) View of last 5 contribution transactions carried out

(viii) Processing of voluntary contributions for Tier I as well as Tier II

(ix) Modification of address using Aadhaar authentication

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JICA ODA loan assistance proposal for Dairying through Cooperatives-National Dairy Infrastructure Plan Project
Jul 11,2017

India ranks first among the worlds milk producing Nations since 1998 and has the largest bovine population in the World. Milk production in India during the period 1950-51 to 2014-15, has increased from 17 million tonnes to 146.31 million tonnes. The milk production during 2015-16 is 155.49 million tonnes. About 54% of the milk produced in the country is surplus for marketing in the domestic market, of which only 20.5% is procured/processed by the organised sector being equally, shared by Cooperatives and Private dairy organizations.

To meet the growing demand which is estimated to be in the range of 200 - 210 million MT by 2021-22, the country needs to upgrade its infrastructure at the village level particularly for milk procurement and production of high valued milk products. Government is mandated to double milk producers income at farm level by providing rural milk producers with greater access to the organised milk processing sector. Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries has formulated a Draft National Action Plan for Dairy Development which includes creation of milk chilling facilities including bulk milk cooling, processing infrastructure, Value added products (VAP), organisation of milk collection centres/dairy cooperative societies, milk transportation facility and marketing infrastructure to meet the requirement of increased milk handling.

Government has therefore submitted a proposal for availing loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency for Dairying through Cooperatives-National Dairy Infrastructure Plan in line with the mandate of Government to double farmers income in next five years. The total outlay of the proposal is Rs 20,057 crores. The proposal primarily aims to cover additional 1.28 lakh villages, 121.83 lakh additional milk producers, setting up of 1.05 Lakh bulk milk coolers at village level creating 524.20 lakh Kg milk per day capacity of milk chilling and creation of milk & milk product processing infrastructure of 76.5 lakh Kg per day capacity. Besides, the programme will modify/expand old milk and milk product plants created 20-30 years ago under Operation Flood and also create milk & milk products plants for value added products which will benefit 160 lakh existing farmers. The fund will be routed through National Dairy Development Board for the development of dairy sector. The proposal has been forwarded by Department of Economic Affairs to Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

JICA mission visited India during 27th February to 3rd March, 2017. A meeting with the delegation lead by Mr. Tatumi Kunitake was held on 26th May, 2017 to deliberate on the observations of JICA mission. As per the observations of the mission; NDDB is working on modifying the proposal with a focus on poverty alleviation. The schedule of procedures involved in the programme was discussed with JICA delegation and activity-time chart has been finalized for JICA is to initiate the appraisal process at the earliest.

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Declaration of Historic City of Ahmadabad as a UNESCOs World Heritage Property
Jul 11,2017

It is under the dynamic and visionary leadership of the Prime Minister of India that India has been successful in securing the nomination of the n++Historic City of Ahmadabadn++ on UNESCOs World Heritage list on 8th July, 2017 during the 41st Session of World Heritage Committee. This makes the walled city of Ahmedabad the first city in India and the third in Asia to be inscribed to the World Heritage List. In the past 3 years alone, India has managed to put five built heritage sites on the world heritage list of UNESCO.

India now has overall 36 World Heritage Inscriptions with 28 Cultural, 07 Natural and 01 Mixed site. While India stands second largest in number after China in terms of number of world heritage properties in ASPAC (Asia and Pacific) region, it is overall seventh in the world.

Founded in 15th century, the walled city of Ahmadabad, on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati river, presents a rich architectural heritage. Within this complex are 28 ASI Centrally Protected Monuments. The urban structures of the historic city of Ahmedabad are distinctive due to their puras (neighbourhoods), pols (residential streets), and khadki (inner entrances to pols) largely made of timber. The historic architecture reflects symbols and myths connected with its inhabitants. The urban fabric is made up of densely-packed traditional houses (pols) in gated traditional streets (puras) with characteristic features such as bird feeders, public wells and religious institutions. It is a unique example of multi-religious and multicultural coexistence.

The inscription has been done under Criteria (ii) and (v) as defined in the UNESCOs Operational Guidelines, 2016. Criterion (ii) refers to the important interchange of human values, over a span of time on development of architecture, monumental arts, town planning and landscape while Criterion (v) refers to being an outstanding example of human settlement and land use. Thus, the acceptance of the proposal highlights historic city of Ahmedabads exemplary settlement architecture and town planning. This achievement is especially remarkable in the view of the fact that the proposal had earlier been deferred. The Culture Minister Dr. Mahesh Sharma has congratulated the residents of Ahmedabad and indeed the entire country on this landmark achievement.

The international recognition to the city is a matter of pride. It will boost the local economy in a number of ways. It is expected to give a tremendous fillip to domestic and international tourism leading to increased employment generation, creation of world-class infrastructure and augmentation of sale of local handicrafts, handlooms and heritage memorabilia.

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Gifts up to a value of Rs 50,000/- per year by an employer to his employee are outside the ambit of GST
Jul 10,2017

It is being reported that gifts and perquisites supplied by companies to their employees will be taxed under GST. Gifts upto a value of Rs 50,000/- per year by an employer to his employee are outside the ambit of GST. However, gifts of value more than Rs 50,000/- made without consideration are subject to GST, when made in the course or furtherance of business.

The question arises as to what constitutes a gift. Gift has not been defined in the GST law. In common parlance, gift is made without consideration, is voluntary in nature and is made occasionally. It cannot be demanded as a matter of right by the employee and the employee cannot move a court of law for obtaining a gift. Another issue is the taxation of perquisites. It is pertinent to point out here that the services by an employee to the employer in the course of or in relation to his employment is outside the scope of GST (neither supply of goods or supply of services). It follows therefrom that supply by the employer to the employee in terms of contractual agreement entered into between the employer and the employee, will not be subjected to GST. Further, the Input Tax Credit (ITC) Scheme under GST does not allow ITC of membership of a club, health and fitness centre [section 17 (5) (b) (ii)]. It follows, therefore, that if such services are provided free of charge to all the employees by the employer then the same will not be subjected to GST, provided appropriate GST was paid when procured by the employer. The same would hold true for free housing to the employees, when the same is provided in terms of the contract between the employer and employee and is part and parcel of the cost-to-company (C2C).

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