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Digital Payments increase by a whopping 55 per cent in 2016-17
Jul 10,2017

The RBI data shows that the volume of digital payments has recorded a CAGR of 28 per cent during the five year period ending 2015-16. In contrast, the increase has been a whopping 55 per cent in 2016-17, according to an analysis and evaluation of the current digital payments landscape in the country as captured by NITI Aayog. Further, the value of overall payments was around 13 to 14 times of GDP during the five-year period. In contrast, the outstanding stock of currency in circulation, which hovered around 12% of GDP during 2011-12 to 2015-16, declined to 8.8% during 2016-17, reflecting the impact of demonetisation partially offset by the ongoing re-monetisation process. This trend was shared by Mr. Ratan P Watal, Principal Advisor, NITI Aayog and Former Finance Secretary.

Mr. Watal said that the retail payments segment accounted for as much as 98 to 99% of total volumes. Of this, the share of paper clearing which formed over half the total volume in 2011-12, steadily dropped to 16% in 2015 -16 and further to 11% in 2016-17 with a corresponding increase in the combined share of electronic clearing and cards.

He said that these figures are truly reflective of the fact that India today stands at the cusp of a digital payments revolution through rapid penetration of digital payments infrastructure across the length and breadth of the country. Due to innovations in digital payment technologies and increasing consumer satisfaction, the growth trends in digital payments are positive and will continue to dominate the payments landscape in India. This dispels the doubts raised by some commentators regarding the growth of Digital Payments, subsequent to demonetization.

Mr. Watal said that for instance, in an article published in the Indian Express it was claimed that the surge in digital payments, post demonetization was temporary as cash was not readily available. Once cash was available, the surge in Digital Payments tapered off. RBI data was used to substantiate this hypothesis.

He said that it is to be noted that that this data was based on RBI figures capturing just a few select payment system indicators only and includes Card transactions of only 4 major banks and PPI transaction of only 8 major non-bank entities for goods and services only. The data therefore referred to a subset of the entire spectrum of Digital Payments. Hence the conclusion that was drawn may not have given the true picture.

Mr. Watal said that NITI Aayogs analysis based on a more comprehensive analysis of digital payments growth drivers, the growth in Digital payments in 2016-17 was 55% in volume terms and 24.2% in value terms. In April 2017, there has been again a significant growth in digital payments as compared to April 2016. These findings run counter to what was projected in the article that I referred to. The content of the handbook is about this viewpoint.

He said that NITI Aayogs analysis dispels all doubts in the mind of keen observers of Digital Payments that the growth trajectory of Digital payments in the country continues unabated. Demonetization helped to push the graph of Digital mode of transactions upwards. The substance of this initiative of the Government is that technology will ultimately drive consumer behavior in switching from n++cash to card.n++ And now the new GST code will add to this momentum too.

The handbook recommends that the digital payments data should be disseminated at a disaggregated level. Currently data on digital payments is available only at an aggregate level, thus making it difficult to analyze the growth and effectiveness of individual digital payment technologies. We have proposed a classification for disaggregation - according to service provider, payment instruments, payment destination, user, value, area, etc. The NITI Aayog is working with the RBI towards data dissemination is such a metric format. Going forward, this is indeed a challenge but this will be extremely useful in policy making and analysis, Mr. Watal added.

Speaking about the governments plan to reach 25 billion digital transactions by March 2018, Mr. A.P. Hota, Managing Director & CEO, National Payments Corporation of India, said that it was necessary that banks issue debit cards to their un-carded customers; enhancement of acceptance infrastructure i.e. deployment of POS, mPOS, Aadhaar Pay, QR code, Micro ATM; all customers to be enabled for internet banking; all customers to be enabled for mobile banking; Aadhaar seeding should be mandatory; dis-incentivize cash base transactions and incentivize electronic transactions and creating awareness about digital payments.

Mr. Virat Bhatia, Chairman, FICCI Committee on ICT & Digital Economy and President-IEA, South Asia, AT&T Communication Services India Pvt Ltd., said that Indias digital payment system has been evolving robustly, spurred by developments in information and communication technology. There are three trends that are shaping the future of the digital payment space in India. First, is the rapid growth of the more nimble Fintech players that are working to deliver services in a manner never seen before. Second, the experience of customers in other industries be it e-commerce, healthcare, education or transportation is improving at such a fast pace that they are now expecting similar delivery and interface even in the payment industry. Third, is the push government is giving to digital economy in the country and which itself is inducing a change in consumer behaviour and making customers ask for more convenience for their payments.

Mr. Sudhakar Ramasubramanian, Co-Chairman, FICCI Committee on Fintech & MD and CEO, Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank Ltd., said that though people had bank accounts, they still engaged in cash transactions but demonetization accelerated the pace of digital payments. The government, industry and stakeholders for the first time had come together for the same cause. With some standardization in the systems, he added that technology and available solutions could help in creating the last mile connectivity and bringing customers on board digital payments.

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Moodys: Global investment banks exposure to legacy litigation has fallen; shock absorbers stronger
Jul 10,2017

Global investment banks (GIBs) have significantly reduced their exposure to the risk of legacy litigation over the last two years, Moodys Investors Service said in a report.

At the same time, the majority of these banks have increased their share of stable earnings from strong retail, corporate and wealth-management franchises, improving their capacity to absorb earnings shocks from any large, unexpected charges. Both of these developments are positive for the GIBs bondholders.

Most US and European GIBs have settled the bulk of their legacy issues, said Alessandro Roccati, a Moodys Senior Vice President and co-author of the report. The GIBs have significantly improved their shock-absorbing capacity and increased their capital bases, mitigating the financial risk of pending litigations.

Litigation costs for the rated GIBs have been on a two-year decline from their post crisis high. In 2016, the GIBs litigation provisions in aggregate were $19 billion, nearly half of the $33 billion recorded in 2015, bringing their total litigation provisions from 2008-16 to about $273 billion. Provisions related to residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) accounted for around half of the total, followed by mis-selling and misrepresentation, representing around one third.

Although US banks have settled most of their large-scale cases, several European GIBs remain exposed to a variety of legacy litigation that presents tail risk. The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, Barclays Plc, UBS AG and HSBC Holdings plc have not yet settled their large US RMBS litigations, although they have already made related provisions or accounted for them in their capital plans.

Settlements of US RMBS litigations in line with our estimated median costs for peers would be positive for those GIBs that have not yet settled because they would reduce uncertainty and tail risk, and would allow management to focus on executing restructuring plans, which if successful, would benefit bondholders.

Other large legacy risks are company-specific: Deutsche Bank AG remains under investigation for its Russian mirror trading, and Barclays Plc is under investigation on disclosures related to its 2008 rights issue.

Most GIBs have significantly improved their shock-absorbing capacity and increased their capital bases, mitigating the financial risk of pending litigations.

Capital has increased for most GIBs in the last five years. Moodys calculates that their average Basel III fully applied CET1 ratio stood at 12.5% at the end of 2016, up from 12.0% in 2015 and 10.6% in 2014.

Increasing levels of stable shock absorbers and the GIBs improved capital bases will help mitigate any negative impact from potential further litigation settlements and support these banks credit profiles.

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Moodys: Global shipping industry to see moderation in excess supply; EBITDA to fall slightly
Jul 10,2017

Moodys Japan K.K. says that the outlook for the global shipping industry is stable, underpinned by a moderation in the excess supply in vessels for the dry bulk and containership sectors, while EBITDA for the rated shipping companies generally will fall modestly this year on an organic basis excluding M&A.

Signs of recovery, although slow and choppy, in the dry bulk and containership segments drive the overall stable outlook, and although market conditions are still weak, they are unlikely to worsen from 2016 levels, says Mariko Semetko, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Credit Officer.

For these two segments, we expect supply growth will exceed demand growth by less than 2%, within our parameters for a stable view, but conditions in the tanker segment are negative due to high levels of deliveries of new ships that will keep freight rates low over the next 12 months, adds Semetko.

This outlook reflects our expectations for the fundamental business conditions in the industry over the next 12 months. We had changed our outlook to stable from negative in May 2017.

For all rated shipping companies, aggregate EBITDA will be flat at best over the outlook period, and will more likely decline 0%-3% in 2017 from last year, on an organic basis, after excluding M&As. The industry continues to undergo restructuring, and M&As will skew gross EBITDA.

Nonetheless, cost cutting by companies and industry restructuring have arrested the double-digit decline in aggregate EBITDA seen last year. A fall in EBITDA of up to 3% would be within the parameters for a stable outlook. We would consider changing the outlook to negative if we come to expect a decline of more than 5%.

Moodys further concludes that the overall operating environment is stable at a low level, and while market conditions are still weak, they will not appreciably worsen from 2016 levels.

The industry came off of a very weak 2016 when freight rates bottomed for containerships and dry bulk. Recent restructurings, on-going cost cuts, and industry consolidation and alliances in the containership segment will stabilize the earnings of our rated universe as a whole.

The sectors average fuel price was higher in the first half of this year than in the first half of last year. Still, prices are relatively low and we do not expect a significant and rapid increase from current levels such that fuel will become a material negative credit driver.

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Moodys: Decentralized servicing means greater operational risks for Indian securitization deals
Jul 10,2017

Moodys Investors Service says that Indian securitization transactions that rely on decentralized servicing -- whereby repayments for the underlying loans are collected or paid in person -- are subject to greater levels of operational risk than where repayments are collected via centralized servicing through the countrys financial and payment system.

When servicing is decentralized, operation risks are higher because any failure on the part of the servicers to perform their duties would significantly disrupt the collection of loan payments.

The proportion of securitized portfolios requiring decentralized or centralized servicing generally varies between different asset classes in India. In the case of auto loan ABS, 40% to 70% of specific securitized portfolios may require decentralized servicing with repayments collected by servicers in person or paid in person by borrowers at local branch offices.

Furthermore, Moodys notes that the transfer of servicing duties from one provider to another would generally be more complex for securitization deals that rely on decentralized servicing, given the need to perform collections in person.

If a service provider is unable to perform its duties, the quick transfer of those duties to a new party is important to limit operational risk.

The presence of back-up servicer arrangements at the outset of Indian securitization transactions can reduce the operational risks faced by deals. If such arrangements are not in place from the outset and the servicer fails, it would be challenging to identify and to subsequently engage an effective replacement.

Nonetheless, although a back-up arrangement can reduce operational risks, it may not necessarily prevent losses from occurring if the replacement servicer fails to achieve the same level of loan collections as the original servicer.

At the same time, the current availability of effective third party servicers in India is limited, particularly in the case of decentralized servicing. For the alternate servicer to be effective, it should have a similar geographic reach and ability to service the portfolio requiring decentralized servicing.

In securitization transactions that rely on decentralized servicing, delinquencies can also increase significantly if there is a disruption in servicing, because borrowers may change their repayment behavior.

In such cases, very high levels of credit enhancement in securitization transactions that rely on decentralized servicing can provide significant coverage against the expected increase in losses upon servicing disruption.

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GST to boost MSMEs competitiveness, says study
Jul 10,2017

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) would boost the competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), noted a recent joint study by ASSOCHAM- Ashvin Parekh Advisory Services (APAS).

n++From an MSME perspective, GST will bring in many positives compared to the current systems such as easy process of availing input credit, single point tax, elimination of cascading tax system, and simpler taxation,n++ said the study titled Emerging Mantras for Bankers-Borrowers, jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and APAS.

The report also said that though there is no doubt that GST is aimed to increase the taxpayer base, and bring majorly MSMEs into its scope and that would put some burden of compliance and associated costs to them. But eventually, it will turn these MSMEs more competitive with a level playing field between large enterprises and them.

It also highlighted certain pros of GST on MSME sector viz., improved MSME market expansion, lower logistical overheads, boon for MSMEs dealing in sales and services, unified market and purchase of capital goods.

As part of cons of GST on MSME sector, the study highlighted - burden of lower threshold, no tax differentiation for luxury items and services, increase in cost of product, selective tax levying, burden of higher tax rate for service provider, excess working capital requirement, realignment of purchase and supply chain, dual control, high compliance burden and tax on advances, taxation under reverse charge for un-registered purchases, taxation on stock transfers and deemed supplies, time limit for return of goods sent on sale or return basis, condition of payment and filing of return for availing input tax credit and power to arrest and prosecution.

The study said that these pros offset the cons, as such the way forward while hopes rests with GST to boost the GDP growth and reduce the fiscal deficit.

Considering that all compliance procedures under GST n++ registration, payments, refunds and returns will now be carried out through online portals only and thus MSMEs need not worry about interacting with department officers for carrying out these compliances, which was earlier a cumbersome task.

Furthermore, Indian MSMEs would be able to compete with foreign competition coming from cheap cost centers such as China, Philippines, and Bangladesh.

The GST regime will usher in lower taxes, seamless input tax credit, logistics savings and market share swings from unorganized to organized players.

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GST has special significance for States: Dr Jitendra Singh
Jul 10,2017

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh has said that GST has a special significance for Jammu & Kashmir and the eight States of the North-East Region. The same also applies to States like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, he said.

Dr Jitendra Singh said the GST promises to provide a level-playing field to all the States of the Indian Union. This equitable fair deal has been worked out to such an extent that several of the developed and manufacturing States will be contributing to the economy of the lesser developed or predominantly consumer States, he said.

During the process of GST rollout, Dr Jitendra Singh said, he realized that there were certain local products in Northeast which had apparently become taxable after GST implementation, though these were tax-free before GST rollout. However, he said, it was explained to the local household traders that earlier the price of these products also included certain embedded taxes on raw material, etc. which were not visible, but now the only difference was that GST was a visible tax, although the final cost of the product would almost be the same. A single decision of GST implementation has made a huge long-lasting impact of value addition to the self-esteem and participation of these States in the economic and social growth of India as a whole. He gave full credit to the Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley for working out an amicable formula wherein the manufacturing States would be compensated from the Central share of funds and thus, would not have the chance to hold any grudge against non-manufacturing States being brought at par with them.

Dr Jitendra Singh said that GST is important in the global world of today, no single country or State can hope to operate in isolation and yet progress economically.

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Prices of appliances under UJALA revised after GST comes into effect
Jul 10,2017

The prices of energy efficient appliances distributed under the Government of Indias Unnat Jeevan by Affordable LEDs and Appliances for All (UJALA) scheme have been revised, owing to the rollout of the Goods & Services Tax (GST). The 9W LED bulbs are priced Rs70/-, 20W LED tube light Rs 220/- and 5-star rated fans will be available at Rs1,200/- only.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under the administration of Ministry of Power, Government of India and the nodal agency for implementation of the UJALA programme has appealed all consumers not to pay any amount over and above the prices fixed by EESL for the UJALA appliances.

If consumers notice any discrepancy in prices, they should immediately report such cases at n++Register your complaintn++ section on UJALA dashboard, or on EESL social media handles - for Twitter @EESL_India and for Facebook @EESLIndia. They can also contact the All-India EESL Helpline number 1800 180 3580 or email at helpline@eesl.co.in. Consumers can also register their complaints at the EESL complaint logging portal - http://support.eeslindia.org/.

BEE 5-star rated energy efficient fans distributed by EESL are of 50 Watts, which are 30 percent more efficient than the fans available in market. The LED bulbs and LED tube lights provided under the UJALA scheme come with a three-year free replacement warranty while the energy efficient fans come with a 2.5 year technical warranty.

During the distribution, replacements can be done through any of the distribution counters that would be operating within the city.

The UJALA scheme was launched by the Government of India on January 5, 2015 with a target of replacing 77 crore inefficient bulbs with Energy Efficient LED Bulbs. Currently, over 24.8 crore LED bulbs, 27.6 lakh tube lights and 10 lakh fans have already been distributed across 28 states. This has led to annual energy savings of more than 3,244 crore kWh and resulting in avoidance of over 6,525 MW of peak demand. The estimated cumulative cost reduction in bills of consumers, per year is INR 12,963 crores and has also helped in reduction of 2.62 crore tonnes of CO2 per annum.

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Flood forecast for Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim and North Bengal
Jul 10,2017

In view of heavy to very heavy rainfall with isolated extremely heavy rainfall occurring in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, North Bengal, Sikkim and parts of Bhutan in association with active to vigorous south west monsoon conditions and heavy to very heavy rainfall forecast in these states for the next two to three days, river Brahmaputra and its tributaries flowing in the States of Assam and North Bengal are rising very rapidly.

Due to this, river Brahmaputra is likely to flow in Moderate to High flood situation in the districts of Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Sonitpur (9th to 12th July 2017), Morigaon, Kamrup, Goalpara and Dhubri during the next five days (i.e. from 9th to 13th July 2017).River Ranganadi and River Jia-Bharali at NT Road crossing are likely to flow in High to Unprecedented Flood situation in North Lakhimpur and Sonitpur districts respectively during the period 9th to 11th July 2017.River Dikhow at Sibsagar in Sibsagar district is likely to flow in Moderate to High Flood situation during the period 9th to 11th July 2017.River Beki at Beki Road Bridge in Barpeta district is likely to flow in Moderate to High Flood situation during 9th to 11th July 2017. River Gaurang at Kokrajhar in Kokrajhar district is likely to flow in Low to Moderate Flood situation during the period 9th to 11th July 2017.Rivers in districts of Chirang and Bongaigaon are also likely to flow in Low to Moderate Flood situation during the same period.

River Siang at Passighat in East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh is likely to flow in Moderate flood situation during the period 9th to 11th July 2017.River Kameng in West and East Kameng districts of the state is likely to flow in moderate to High Flood situation during 9th to 11th July 2017.

River Sankosh at Sankosh LRP in Alipurduar district of West Bengal is flowing in Unprecedented Flood situation at 1600 hrs today with rising trend and is likely to flow in Moderate to High Flood Situation during 9th to 11th July 2017. The same river at Golokganj in Dhubri district of Assam is also likely to flow in Moderate to High Flood situation during the same period.River Torsa at Ghugumari in Coochbehar district is likely to flow in moderate flood situation during the period 9th to 11th July 2017.

Rivers in South Sikkim are also likely to flow in Moderate Flood situation during the period 9th to 11th July 2017.

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Kharif Crop Sowing Crosses 404 Lakh Hectare Area
Jul 07,2017

 

The total sown area as on 7th July 2017, as per reports received from States, stands at 404.27 lakh hectare as compared to 371.39 lakh hectare at this time last year. 

It is reported that rice has been sown/transplanted in 79.81 lakh ha, pulses in 44.11 lakh ha, coarse cereals in 80.78 lakh ha, sugarcane in 47.93 lakh hectare and cotton in 71.82 lakh ha.

 The details of the area covered so far and that covered during this time last year are given below:

 Lakh hectare 

CropArea sown in 2017-18Area sown in 2016-17Rice79.8175.28Pulses44.1135.88Coarse Cereals80.7870.11Oilseeds72.8769.74Sugarcane47.9345.22Jute & Mesta6.957.27Cotton71.8267.89Total404.27371.39

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The Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2017-18 - Series II will be opened for subscription for the period from July 10, 2017 to July 14, 2017
Jul 07,2017

The Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2017-18 - Series II will be opened for subscription for the period from July 10, 2017 to July 14, 2017. The nominal value of the bond based on the simple average closing price [published by the India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA)] for gold of 999 purity of the week preceding the subscription period, i.e. July 03-07, 2017 works out to ₹ 2830/- per gram. Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has decided to offer a discount of ₹ 50 per gram on the nominal value of the Sovereign Gold Bond. Hence, the issue price of Gold Bond for this tranche has been fixed at ₹ 2780 /- (Rupees Two Thousand Seven Hundred Eighty only) per gram of gold.

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ADB President Proposes $10 Billion Support for Indias Low-Income States and East Coast Economic Corridor
Jul 07,2017

Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao today explained to Indias leaders that ADBs new country strategy for India (2018-2022) will focus on improving economic performance of low-income states and enhancing its support for developing economic corridors under the Make-in-India initiative.

President Nakao was on the last day of a 3-day visit to India. He met with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, and other senior officials.

Mr. Nakao applauded the government for its effective macroeconomic management, and appreciated the reforms introduced to improve the investment climate and incentivize economic activities over the last 3 years. In particular, he commended the government for its efforts to implement the uniform Goods and Services Tax, effective 1 July, that would create a single national market and spur economic growth by removing tax distortions.

ADB expects India to grow by 7.4% in the current financial year (FY) ending 31 March 2018, and 7.6% in FY2018.

n++Several reform measures introduced by the government for rationalizing tax structure, boosting competitiveness, and easing foreign direct investment norms in crucial sectors like infrastructure will contribute to its objective of achieving high and inclusive economic growth,n++ Mr. Nakao said. n++Further reforms both at central and state levels for improving efficiency in the land and labor markets and strengthening the banking sector will boost growth.n++

Mr. Nakao told the Indian leadership ADB stands ready to meet immediate development needs of up to $5 billion over the 5-year period for less developed states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh, addressing critical infrastructure and capacity deficits.

Mr. Nakao also confirmed that with ADB assistance, strategic planning for economic corridors is rapidly progressing. ADB is prepared to invest up to $5 billion during 2018-2022 for infrastructure building to develop the East Coast Economic Corridor. He praised progress on attracting investments in manufacturing industries in the Corridor. Building on an ongoing $631 million project in the Vizag-Chennai section approved by the ADB Board in 2016, Mr. Nakao conveyed ADBs readiness to expand the Corridor further south in Tamil Nadu.

This combined total of $10 billion in major investments would be part of ADBs new country strategy, which proposes annual lending over the 5-year period of $3 billion-$4 billion from sovereign and nonsovereign operations. The final amounts will depend on the implementation readiness of projects under preparation and the borrowing policies of the central and state governments.

The new country strategy aims at (i) boosting competitiveness and job creation; (ii) providing inclusive infrastructure and services; and (iii) addressing climate change and environmental challenges. Development of core infrastructure in the transport, energy, and urban sectors would remain the focus of ADBs India operations, along with continuing support to skills development, irrigation and agricultural value chains, and urban health.

Earlier on his visit, Mr. Nakao travelled to Lucknow to meet with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and discussed ADBs possible investment in the coming years in smart cities, water supply and sanitation, state and district roads, rapid rail transport, electricity distribution, and heritage restoration. A $300 million loan approved last year to upgrade major district roads in the state was signed in the presence of Mr. Nakao and the Chief Minister.

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ADB Issues Rs14 Billion Indian Rupee Linked Bond
Jul 07,2017

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has raised Rs14 billion, about $217 million, from a new issue of offshore Indian rupee-linked 5 year bonds. This represents ADBs third bond issue in the offshore rupee-linked market for 2017.

n++Todays fundraising represents ADBs largest single offshore Indian rupee bond issue to date,n++ said ADB Treasurer Pierre Van Peteghem. n++We have been working hard with banks and investors to promote demand for ADBs local currency bond issues, and the traction we received on this occasion bears testament to our progress in this respect.n++

The bond issue was launched in London as an Rs5 billion transaction, increased to Rs10 billion in New York and closed at Rs14 billion after accommodating Asian investors. The notes carry a semi-annual coupon of 5.90% and mature in December 2022.

The bonds, which are denominated in Indian rupees but settled in US dollars, were underwritten by HSBC and TD Securities. The final order book was almost three times the size envisaged at launch, with 84% of the bonds placed with fund managers and 16% with banks. Investors participated from all time zones, with Asia accounting for 4%, Americas 55%, and Europe 41%.

Proceeds from the bonds will be mobilized to support ADB lending in India. ADBs increased activity in the rupee capital markets is proving catalytic to the institutions local currency lending program, which has been identified as a strategic growth area in partnership with the Government of India.

ADB is a regular borrower in the mainstream international bond markets but has also led issuance in developing Asian countries as part of efforts to promote domestic bond markets as an alternative to bank lending. ADB plans to raise around $30 billion from the capital markets in 2017.

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Scheme for IPR Awareness - Creative India; Innovative India launched
Jul 07,2017

Taking forward the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy 2016, a Scheme for IPR Awareness - Creative India; Innovative India has been launched by Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) under the aegis of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.

The Scheme aims at raising IPR awareness amongst students, youth, authors, artists, budding inventors and professionals to inspire them to create, innovate and protect their creations and inventions across India including Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 cities as well as rural areas in the next 3 years.

The Scheme for IPR Awareness aims to conduct over 4000 IPR awareness workshops/seminars in academic institutions (schools and colleges) and the industry ,including MSMEs and Startups, as also IP training and sensitization programmes for enforcement agencies and the judiciary.

Workshops will cover all vital IP topics including international filing procedures, promotion of Geographical Indications and highlighting the ill effects of piracy and counterfeiting.

The Scheme for IPR Awareness would be implemented through partner organizations to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

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There is no change made in any subject relating to education in the GST era, except to reduce tax rate on certain items of education such as school ba
Jul 07,2017

The Central Government denies all such reports that education will become expensive under GST. It states that such reports are completely unsubstantiated. In fact, there is no change made in any subject relating to education in the GST era, except to reduce tax rate on certain items of education such as school bags etc.

It may be mentioned that services provided by an educational institution to students, faculty and staff are exempt:

(i) pre-school education and education up to higher secondary school or equivalent;

(ii) education as a part of a curriculum for obtaining a qualification recognised by any law for the time being in force;

(iii) education as a part of an approved vocational education course.

Transportation of students, faculty and staff services provided to an educational institution (providing pre-school education and education up to higher secondary school or equivalent) are exempt from GST. Similarly, catering, including any mid-day meals scheme sponsored by the Central Government, State Government or Union territory, to an educational institution providing education upto higher secondary school or equivalent, are also exempt from GST. Further, security or cleaning or housekeeping services performed in such educational institutions are also exempt from GST. Finally, services relating to admission to, or conducting of examination by, such institutions, upto higher secondary, too are exempt from GST.

Thus, education up to Higher Secondary School level does not suffer GST on output services and also on most of the important input services. Some of the input services like transport, canteen etc. provided by private players to educational institutions were subject to service tax in pre-GST era and the same is continued in GST regime.

Furthermore, services by an entity registered under section 12AA of the Income-tax Act by way of charitable activities relating to advancement of educational programmes or skill development for

(a) abandoned, orphaned or homeless children

(b) physically or mentally abused and traumatized persons

(c) prisoners

(d) persons over the age of 65 years residing in a rural area are also exempt from GST.

Hence, there has been no change in taxability of educational and other services on account of GST.

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Ministry of Railways reforms recruitment process through induction of digital technology
Jul 07,2017

Ministry of Railways reformed its recruitment process through induction of digital technology in a big way. This has brought transparency & efficiency.

Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) have conducted the worlds largest computer based test for about 92 lakh candidates. This examination was conducted in 351 cities across India, including remote areas like North East, Kashmir Valley, Lakshadweep & Andaman Islands.

Pursuing PMs vision of Digital India, 2nd stage written test and 3rd stage Aptitude (Psycho) test for Assistant Station Masters and Typing Skill Test for Ministerial posts have also been conducted in Computer based manner for 45,989 candidates across India.

Computer based Test for Aptitude (Psycho) Test and Typing Skill Test is another major initiative as it has been attempted for the first time in history. Due to this land mark digital transformation, both these tests could be completed in one day each, whereas in conventional mode these would have taken about 2 months time. This has resulted in substantial saving of time and resources.

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