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Environment Ministry Invites Comments on Draft Notification for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing) Rules, 2016
Jan 11,2017

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has invited comments on the draft notification of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules), 2016. The Ministry will be notifying the proposed draft Rules in the Gazette of India for public information. Any interested person can make any suggestion on the said draft rules in writing for consideration of the Central Government to the Deputy Secretary, Animal Welfare Division, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, New Delhi, within 30 days of such publication of the Rules.

Interacting with media-persons, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Anil Madhav Dave, said that till now there were no Rules in the country on the breeding, sale and purchase of dogs. The Minister expressed the hope that the shops and sale and purchase of dogs will be made online.

Objective of the Rules:

The objective of the Rules is to make dog breeders and their marketers accountable and to prevent infliction of any cruelty in this process. There were also no specific rules, or guidelines for mandatory registration of breeders and establishments and requirements to be met by such breeders. Dog breeding and their marketing trade also mushroomed all around. At times, some cruelty has been caused in breeding and marketing of dogs, with little or no accountability.

Process: The proposed Rules provide as under:-

(i) It will be mandatory for all dog breeders and the dog breeding establishments to register themselves with the State Animal Welfare Board of the respective State Governments.

(ii) It defines the breeding requirements/conditions for sale.

(iii) It defines the requirements to be met by the breeders and the establishments used for breeding, or housing dogs, such as health-related requirements, housing facilities, manner of housing dogs, conditions for sale, breeding, micro-chipping, vaccination etc.

(iv) An inspector authorised by the State Board can inspect the establishment.

(v) It is mandatory for dog breeders to maintain proper records of both male and female dogs, their breed, micro-chip number, number of litters, sale, purchase, death, rehabilitation etc.

(vi) Every dog breeder is required to submit yearly report to the State Board regarding animals sold, traded, bartered, brokered, given away, boarded or exhibited during previous year or any other information asked for by the State Board.

Violation of Rules: Non-compliance of the proposed Rules will lead to cancellation of the registration of the dog breeder.

The Ministry has implemented Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 to prevent infliction of unnecessary pain, or suffering on animals.

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Initiatives to Increase Non-Fare Revenue and To Promote Ease of Ticketing Through Digital Transactions Launched
Jan 10,2017

Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu inaugurated the following policy initiatives viz., Policy Initiatives of Increasing Non Fare Revenue like Out of Home Advertisement, Content on demand, Branding of Trains, Non-fare Revenue Policy, ATM Policy and Initiatives promoting ease of ticketing through digital transactions (for reserved as well as unreserved passengers) here today. He also released a documentary film on Jammu Kashmir Railway Network.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that various steps are being taken towards promoting digital transactions. He also said that new innovative ideas are brainstormed for increasing the non fare revenues of Indian Railways and many policy initiatives in Non Fare Revenue have now been taken.

Minister of State Shri Rajen Gohain said that Non Fare Revenue efforts of Indian Railways will bring in enough revenue. The cashless transaction initiatives will bring in more efficiency.

INITIATIVES TO INCREASE NON-FARE REVENUE

In pursuant of the Budget announcement, for increasing the Non Fare Revenue, Ministry of Railways has announced new policies on various initiatives within the Non-Fare Revenue space. These policies will look into different areas ranging from advertising in trains and other areas such as bridges and other assets, setting up of ATMs at platforms to digital content for passengers.

Salient Features of the Policies:

The policies are based on feedback from the key players in the industry. Some of the key inputs considered in the policies are:

Long Term Contracts-10 years

Single Point of Contact within Indian Railways - Non Fare Revenue Directorate

Credibility of Partner - including a technical and financial capability model

Transparent Process - E- Auction

Better media planning for Railway assets-Allowing zone/train/station wise packages

Key Policies:

1. Non-Fare Revenue Policy:

The objective of the policy is to allow Indian Railways to consider unsolicited proposals of earnings through Non-Fare sources

An NFR Evaluation Committee at Divisional/Zonal level shall examine need, operational and legal feasibility of the project and technical and financial capacity of the proponent

Agencies will selected on the basis of transparent tendering process via E-auction

Right of First Refusal to be offered to the proponent to match the highest bid

Indian Railways shall offer Non-Fare revenue contracts for a tenure of five years

The Non-Fare Revenue Policy shall enable private/public sector participation in conceptualization of an earning scheme

Entire exercise shall be cost-neutral to the Indian Railways

2. Out of Home Advertising Policy:

The objective of the policy is to allow monetisation of Railway Assets by means of advertising

Indian Railways had appointed RITES as consultant who appointed Ernst & Young as Professional Media Market Evaluation Agency (PMMEA)

In addition to the existing identified sites, Indian Railways shall allow advertising at areas hitherto unused, i.e., area along tracks, Road Over Bridges, Level Crossing Gates etc.

Static advertising will not be permitted in the station buildings, platforms, foot over bridges (leading to station area), etc., as it is covered in Rail Display Network

Indian Railways shall allow all forms of advertising, including digital to make the most use of advertising potential.

The advertising rights to be awarded for ten years

The advertising asset package sizes to be offered for bidding for zones/ clusters of zones, separately for Mumbai and Delhi area

The advertising assets to be offered via a transparent E-auction process

More than INR 6,000 Cr is expected to be generated by the end of the contract

3. Train Branding Policy:

The objective of this policy is to augment advertising revenue of Indian Railways by allowing internal and external advertisement

This policy will help in realizing economies of scale and give more marketing flexibility, thereby leading to higher realization of earnings for Indian Railways.

Indian Railways had appointed RITES as consultant who appointed Ernst & Young as Professional Media Market Evaluation Agency (PMMEA)

Advertisement through vinyl wrapping of train exterior (including windows of AC coaches) and inside the coaches shall be allowed

The tenure of the contract shall be 10 years.

The train branding packages sizes shall be offered for bidding in a phased manner (e.g.Rajdhani package, Shatabdi package etc.)

The advertising assets to be offered via a transparent E-auction process

More than INR 2,000 Cr is expected to be generated by the end of the contract

4. Content on Demand and Rail Radio Policy:

The objective of this policy is to allow monetization of entertainment based services on trains and stations

Entertainment services shall be provided through audio (P.A systems) and video systems (personal devices of the passengers)on trains and platforms

Provision of content such as movies, shows, educational programs shall be in both paid and unpaid formats

Indian Railways shall offer Content on Demand services contract for a tenure of ten years

The assets to be offered via a transparent E-auction process

More than INR 6,000 Cr is expected to be generated by the end of the contract

5. ATMs Policy:

The objective of this policy is to allow setting up ATMs at major stations of the Indian Railways

Indian Railways shall offer ATM on Stations contracts for a tenure of ten years

The location of the ATM shall be on end platforms or prominent space in the circulating area of the station

The assets to be offered via a transparent E-auction process

More than INR 2,500 Cr is expected to be generated by the end of the contract

INITIATIVES TO PROMOTE EASE OF TICKETING THROUGH DIGITAL TRANSACTION

Indian Railways carries about 22.3 million passengers every day segmented in reserved and unreserved (non-suburban and suburban) accommodation on trains. Daily revenue from Passenger segment is about Rs.130 crore of which Rs.80 crore is from reserved segment, Rs.42 crore from non-suburban segment and Rs.8 crore from suburban segment.

The percentage of cashless earning during the period April to November 2016 was 58% in the reserved segment, 7% in non-suburban and 4% in sub-urban. In order to promote cashless payment Indian Railways is providing Point Of Sale machines for facilitating payment by cards and promoting ticketing n++Cboth reserved and unreserved n++C through IVRS, Ticket Vending Machines installed at stations, internet and mobile applications and also providing additional cashless payment options through Wallets.

Till 9th January 2017, 2967 POS machines have been provided at around 2084 locations and it is proposed to progressively provide POS machines at all Reservation Centres (3300) starting with A1, A and B category stations (709 stations) and at suburban stations (483 stations). Important Non-suburban stations will also be provided with POS machines. The process is expected to be completed by 31st March 2017. The collection through POS machines at PRS centres is now around 3.5 - 4% of the total daily earnings at PRS.

The percentage of cashless transaction in reserved segment has increased from an average of 58% in 2015-16 to 68% at present. In the unreserved segment it has increased from 6.5% to 8%.

IRCTC Connect App

Indian Railways E-ticketing System caters to over 10 lakhs passengers daily (comprising 58 percent of total reserved passengers) who can book Railways reserved tickets without leaving their

Plans for 24x7 Power For All in true spirit of Cooperative Federalism-Piyush Goyal
Jan 10,2017

The Ministry of Power, Government of India signed the MoU for Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) with Tamil Nadu in New Delhi, on 9th January, 2017. Also, with the signing of the 24x7 Power For All (PFA) roadmap document with the State, the roadmap for all the 28 States, except one, and all the 7 Union Territories in the country have now been finalized and is under implementation. It is the most significant milestone in this initiative founded on the principles of cooperative federalism.

Providing access to reliable and quality power supply to all citizens/ establishments by 2019 is at the core of the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modis vision for the nation and the Ministry of Powers 24x7 PFA

The Program has been instrumental in mainstreaming the Ministrys focus on energy efficiency and Demand Side Management interventions and has resulted in increased participation with speedy rollout of the UJALA/ DELP and other EESL led schemes. It is important to note that UJALA has emerged as the worlds largest and most successful LED bulbs program.

Increased role of central sector agencies, such as NTPC, in addressing sectors operational viability in the case of proposed acquisition of state owned generation assets in Rajasthan and in fast-tracking capacity addition in the case of Patratu project in Jharkhand are outcomes of the comprehensive approach adopted under 24x7 PFA Program to resolve state specific problems.

Besides development of segment wise coordinated physical rollout plans and rigorous analysis on financial viability of state utilities under the 24x7 PFA program in two States of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, the plans for which were made in first 100 days of coming of this Government, led to the formulation of the UDAY. Looking at the balance sheets of these states, it was found that unless the states are taken out of the debt trap in which they were in and made financially sustainable, all plans of 24x7 would remain unfulfilled.

The PFA Program has also benefited several states in addressing funding gap for the investments required to ensure 24x7 power access to all. The funding gap analysis conducted as part of the exercise enabled the Ministry to assist states through innovative means of financing including mechanisms such as additional funding under ongoing programs (like DDUGJY, IPDS), multilateral funding, additional support from FIs and PPPs etc.

Electricity being a concurrent subject and given the focus of the Government on pursuing cooperative federalism, the first task was to develop and agree on detailed roadmaps for each state. State specific roadmaps were prepared under the guidance of the Ministry of Power and Central Electricity Authority (CEA). 24x7 PFA initiative has provided the much needed platform for all-encompassing integrated planning. In addition to integrated planning at the level of vertically unbundled utilities and other state level agencies, the exercise also provided an opportunity for mainstreaming the efforts of all central level ministries and agencies, such as Ministry of Coal, MNRE, PGCIL, NTPC, BEE, EESL, REC, PFC etc., to ensure access to reliable and quality power to all households/ establishments in each and every state by 2019.

To further augment the effort of the states under the 24x7 PFA initiative, the Ministry is now formulating a scheme for funding of the investments required to ensure last mile connectivity to all households which are not already covered under DDUGJY and state schemes.

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Indias fuel product sales rise 4.4% in December 2016
Jan 10,2017

Indias fuel product consumption or sales increased 4.4% to 16.53 mt in December 2016 over a year ago. Petcoke sales increased 28.8% to 1.94 mt, while LPG sales moved up 8.2% to 1.94 mt and petrol 7.8% to 1.96 mt. Consumption of fuel oil also gained 14.2% to 0.60 mt, ATF 12.6% to 0.62 mt, and diesel 1.0% to 6.55 mt. Further, the consumption of lubes/greases increased 14.6% to 0.30 mt, and light diesel oil 10.1% to 0.04 mt. However, the consumption of bitumen declined 2.0% to 0.56 mt, others 4.8% to 0.55 mt, naphtha 5.5% to 1.08 mt, and kerosene 30.5% to 0.40 mt in December 2016.

Consumption or sales of fuel product increased 9.0% to 146.43 mt in April-December 2016 over April-December 2015. Sales of petcoke increased 42.4%, diesel 3.8%, petrol 11.2%, and LPG 11.1%. Consumption of fuel oil also moved up 17.1%, ATF 11.6%, bitumen 6.1% and lubes/greases 9.4%. Further, the consumption of naphtha inched up 1.4%, others 1.3% and light diesel oil 17.4%, but declined for kerosene 17.4% in April-December 2016.

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Moodys 2017 outlook for Asia Pacific sovereigns stable; reforms, external and political pressures will drive credit profiles
Jan 10,2017

Moodys Investors Service says that the 2017 outlook for the creditworthiness of sovereigns in Asia Pacific is stable overall, reflecting a mix of credit-supportive and credit-challenging factors.

Rising income levels and strengthening institutions will offer support to several sovereign credit profiles in the region. However, although GDP growth in the region remains relatively robust, lackluster growth in global trade and capital outflows may weigh on the credit profiles of those more dependent on external demand or financing. Given this context, credit outcomes in 2017 will be determined by the effectiveness of ongoing reform efforts and the evolution of political risks.

The report explains that most Moodys-rated sovereigns in Asia Pacific carry ratings with stable outlooks, but negatives outlooks outnumber positive ones. Specifically, in terms of the 24 sovereigns that Moodys rates in Asia Pacific, there were 18 stable outlooks as of 10 January 2017, four negative and two positive.

Moodys further points out that rating actions in 2016 were overwhelmingly negative, with 10 negative and only one positive over the course of the year. The sources of shock have varied, but in 2016, 38% of rated Asia Pacific sovereigns experienced a decline in their fiscal strength, while for 42%, Moodys sees a higher susceptibility to event risk when compared with the situation the year before.

Moodys GDP growth forecasts already take into account expectations of slow global trade, which are particularly relevant for export-reliant economies like Hong Kong (Aa1 negative), Korea (Aa2 stable), Singapore (Aaa stable) and Taiwan (Aa3 stable).

The report points out that in the context of downside risks to the global growth outlook and the possibility of faster increases in US interest rates than investors currently assume, capital inflows to emerging markets could taper abruptly.

Direct exposure to capital flows is highest when financing needs are large to cover current account or external debt payments. In Asia Pacific, Mongolia (Caa1 stable), and to a lesser extent, Sri Lanka (B1 negative), Malaysia (A3 stable) and Indonesia (Baa3 stable), are among the most vulnerable.

In China (Aa3 negative), large official reserves provide ample external liquidity. However, tighter external financing and potentially increasing capital outflows could limit the effectiveness of domestic financial policies.

In addition to external trade and financing pressures, a key driver of sovereign credit trends will be the policy efforts of governments themselves. Moodys points out that authorities are formulating policies that range from those that address acute near term challenges to those that set the stage for longer-term improvements in credit profiles. However, capacities to implement these policies differ across countries as evident in Moodys scores for Institutional Strength, which vary greatly across the region.

The capacity of governments to implement measures and the effectiveness of policies in achieving the respective governments objectives will shape the sovereigns credit profiles over the coming year. In particular, in India (Baa3 positive), Indonesia (Baa3 stable) and the Philippines (Baa2 stable), ongoing implementation of reforms is likely to boost medium-term growth.

Moodys notes political risk is unlikely to abate in 2017, pointing out that latent political risk that prevailed in parts of APAC has, in some cases, flared up. Were domestic or geopolitical tensions to escalate, they would exacerbate the negative credit drivers or derail credit-supportive factors in the region. For instance, political developments could interfere with the ability of governments to implement reforms and would exacerbate the negative growth impact of slower global trade and capital flow reversals.

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India & Portugal to work out a co-production agreement in Films Sector
Jan 10,2017

India and Portugal have agreed to work out modalities for a co-production agreement in the Film Sector. The agreement would be framed in a time-bound manner keeping in mind the legal aspects of such an agreement. A possibility of an MoU between the Public Broadcasters of both the Countries to share best practices and seek cooperation in Technical and Content related matters was also discussed. The discussions took place during a meeting between Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore and Portugal Minister of Culture, Mr. Luis Filipe Castro Mendes.

During the deliberations, Col. Rathore apprised the Portuguese Minister on the initiatives taken by Ministry of I&B to provide Single Window clearances for Foreign Film Producers in the country through the Film Facilitation Office. He also highlighted the prestigious National Film Heritage Mission of the Government to Digitise, Restore, Preserve the rich filmic heritage of the Country.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister also apprised the Portuguese Minister about the IIMC and FTII as the premier educational institutes in the field of Journalism and Film Production respectively in the country. The Ministers also discussed the possibility of Student Exchange programmes between educational institutions of both the countries. Ministers also expressed interest for possible co-operation in the areas of Renewable energy, information and communication technology and Start-ups.

The Ministers also expressed interest in sharing of experiences and best practices in Social Media to enhance the outreach.

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Ind-Ra: US Bill on Visa Rule to Add Pressure to IT Companies Margins
Jan 10,2017

The margins of IT sector companies will come under further pressure, in the event the new US bill titled Protect and Grow American Jobs Act gets passed, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The key proposal in the bill is to increase the salary of H1B visa holder to USD100,000 (INR6.6 million) from USD60,000 per annum and the cessation of an exemption of having a masters degree. The cash cushion and low debt levels that IT companies enjoy however will mean the squeeze on margins will be credit neutral.

The salary level that has been proposed is significantly higher than the average employee cost of Indian IT companies of under INR1 million (ranges between INR300000 to INR5 million). Further the removal of the exemption of possessing a masters degree to qualify for a H1B visa if implemented will reduce the talent pool qualifying for such visas and in turn result in either increased employee cost for hiring employees with higher qualification or subcontract work, both of which would increase the cost of operations and pressurise margins. The US starts accepting the visa application under H1B typically from 1 April every year and issues around 65,000 visas to highly skilled professionals. A bulk of these visas are issued to technology companies belonging to various nationalities. Indian IT companies incur visa related costs in the first quarter of the financial year.

Ind-Ra notes, that the employee cost of IT companies has increased over the past eight quarters and has impacted margins negatively. The passage of the bill would impact IT companies operations and might lead to further increase in the onshore efforts and subcontracting expenses. Indian IT companies generate around 55%-60% of the revenue from the USA. The onsite proportion of revenue exceeds the offshore portion and the subcontracting expenses as a percentage of revenue has increased by around 50bp - 100bp over the last eight quarters for the top IT companies.

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Over 69 million consumers shopped online in 2016: ASSOCHAM-Resurgent study
Jan 10,2017

In 2016, about 69 million consumers purchased online and the number is expected to cross 100 million by 2017 with the rise of digital natives, better infrastructure in terms of logistics, broadband and Internet-ready devices to fuel the demand in e-Commerce, according to an ASSOCHAM-Resurgent India study.

As per the findings of the joint study, Bangalore has left behind all other cities in India shopping online in the year 2016. While Mumbai ranks second, Delhi ranks third in their preference for online shopping.

In other cities like Bangalore, 69% of its population chose to buy daily routine products through e-shopping in 2015-16, which will go to 75% this year for apparel, gift articles, magazines, home tools, toys, jewellery, beauty products & sporting goods categories.

Likewise, Mumbai share was 65% in the last year, which might go up another 70% in this year for electronic gadgets, accessories, apparel, gifts, computer peripherals, movies, hotel booking, home appliances, movie tickets, health & fitness products and apparel gift certificates etc whereas, Delhi, 61% of its population chose to buy daily routine products through e-shopping in 2015-16, which will go to 65-68% by the year end.

The ASSOCHAM- Resurgent India joint study reveals, Indian e-Retail looks even more promising which is Up from $3.59 billion in 2013 to $5.30 billion in 2014 (a phenomenal increase of 48%), by the end of 2018, it is expected to touch $17.52 billion (with growth of 65%). The e-retail sale continues to register an unprecedented growth and increase by leaps and bounds over the 2013-2018 period.

In 2017, mobile commerce will become more important as most of the companies are shifting to m-commerce. Mobile already accounts for 30-35% of e-commerce sales, and its share will jump to 45-50% by 2017, adds the report.

E-commerce is big business and getting bigger every day. Online shopping has been embraced by Indians with close to 25-30 million adults making a purchase via the internet in the last year. The paper said, online shoppers and buyers starting with a base age of 18 are become more involved with ecommerce in their early teens, adds the paper.

In 2016, it showed that a higher amount was being spent on average for popular categories such as apparel by 85 per cent, mobile phones by 68 per cent and cosmetics by 25 per cent, when it comes to online shopping. There was also a significant increase in spending on categories such as watches by 75 per cent and artificial jewellery by 65 per cent. Computer and consumer electronics, along with apparel and accessories, account for the bulk of Indias retail e-commerce sales.

There is a surge in the number of people shopping on mobile across India with tier II and III cities displaying increased dominance. In fact, 50% of our traffic is coming from mobile and a majority of them are first time customers, adds the paper.

The year 2017 will see large scale growth in the Indian e-commerce sector with increased participation from people across the country. This industry will continue to drive more employment opportunities and contribute towards creating more entrepreneurs through the e-commerce marketplace model, noted the study.

As per the joint study, the total retail sales in India will likely to increase from the $717.73 billion during CY 2014 to touch $1,244.58 billion by 2018. The total retail sales is growing at an impressive rate of 15%, registering a double digit growth figure year after year.

Challenges for the e-Commerce

The phenomenal growth of the e-Commerce sector is accompanied by certain challenges:

Absence of e-Commerce laws

Low entry barriers leading to reduced competitive advantages

Rapidly changing business models

Urban phenomenon

Shortage of manpower

Customer loyalty

Opportunities for the e-commerce:

Reduction of money transactions in all sectors.

Improvement of Net banking facilities across the country.

Implementation of demonetization policy.

Government policies on banking and financial sectors.

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Bilateral Meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister and H.E. Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan
Jan 10,2017

Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman welcomed the Japanese delegation led by H.E. Hiroshige Seko, Minister, Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI), Japan and recalled that the recent visit of Honble Prime Minister of India to Japan in November, 2016 was very successful in further strengthening the partnership between the two countries. She hoped to look forward for a meaningful discussion with the Japanese delegation in the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Summit. She stated that the pace of implementation of India- Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) has been rather steady and needed to be enhanced with faster pace to tap the huge potential of India- Japan bilateral trade.

H.E. Hiroshige Seko, Minister, Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, Japan, while welcoming various steps taken by the Govt. of India for Make in India and other initiatives for Indias Growth, said that there is a huge potential for Indo- Japanese Cooperation. He mentioned that 25 Japanese companies are participating in Vibrant Gujarat Summit with great enthusiasm. The Japanese side requested that the issue of Transfer Pricing assessment and other ones as raised by Japan Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India (JCCII)from time to time need to be resolved for attracting greater Japanese Investments in India. The Japanese business delegates briefed about their business presence in India and intimated that they wanted to diversify their business in India in Sectors such as Agriculture, Power, Electronics, Railways, Logistics Sectors, manufacturing of ATMs etc. and wanted to contribute to the development of India.

The Japanese side expressed interest in enhancing co-operation in the area of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) between India and Japan and intended to train Indian IPR examiners in Japan. They expressed the need for a high level meeting between India and Japan on IPR cooperation. Minister of METI, Japan also extended an invitation to 100 IPR Examiners for training in Japan.

Smt. Sitharaman requested the Japanese side to take steps to increase Indian Exports to Japan in Sesame seeds, Surimi fish and Indian generic drugs. She said that the Japanese Industrial Townships (JITs) in India would be transformational and will bring in significant Japanese investments and further strengthen India- Japan Economic Cooperation. On the Logistics front she mentioned that India plans to build Logistics University wherein the cooperation from Japan would be needed.

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To ensure implementation of GST by 1 April 2017, CBEC has initiated process of migration of its existing Central Excise/Service Tax assesses to GST
Jan 09,2017

Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) has initiated the process of migration of its existing Central Excise/Service Tax assesses to GST with effect from 9th January, 2017.

As part of its efforts to ensure implementation of GST by 1st April, 2017, CBEC has taken steps to ensure that its existing taxpayers are migrated to GST in a simple, user-friendly and smooth manner. Once the existing registered Taxpayers (both Central Excise as well as Service Tax) login to CBECs Web Portal www.aces.gov.in, a facility will be given in a secure manner to access the provisional login ID and password given by Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN). Thereafter, using the same, they can log in to GST Portal (www.gst.gov.in) to fill the required fields and submit scanned documents.

However, if they have already initiated the process of migration to GST as a VAT assesse under STATE COMMERCIAL TAX department, no further action is necessary. PAN is mandatory for migration to GST. Hence, if the existing Central Excise/Service Tax Registration Code does not have PAN, then PAN has to be obtained from Income Tax Department and the Registration details have to be updated in the ACES Portal www.aces.gov.in

CBEC has made available a 24x7 HELPDESK (TOLL-FREE NO 1800-1200-232, EMAIL: cbecmitra.helpdesk@icegate.gov.in) for the purpose of assisting existing Central Excise/Service Tax assesses. GSTN also has a Help Desk number: 0124-4688999 and GSTN email address is: help@gst.gov.in A Step-by-Step Taxpayers User guide for Migration is available at www.aces.gov.in and at www.cbec.gov.in

CBEC is also sending Emails/recorded telephonic messages to all registered Central Excise/Service Tax assesses requesting them to migrate to GST. Outreach programmes such as Awareness Workshops/ Training for Central Excise/Service Tax assesses are being organized all over India at the Commissionerates and Divisional offices of CBEC.

All existing Central Excise/Service Tax assesses are requested to migrate as early as possible, latest by 31st January, 2017.

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Tamil Nadu becomes 21st State to join UDAY
Jan 09,2017

Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal presided over the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) Scheme with the Government of Tamil Nadu and its Discom TANGEDCO, for operational and financial turnaround of the DISCOM. The signing ceremony was held in the august presence of the Shri P. Thangamani, Minister for Electricity, Prohibition & Excise, Government of Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu would derive an overall net benefit of approximately Rs. 11,000 crores through UDAY, by way of savings in interest cost, reduction in AT&C and transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency, coal reforms etc. The state also signed 24X7 Power For All document on the occasion. With Tamil Nadu joining the cause, 92% of countrys Discom debt has been covered under UDAY

By signing the MOU under UDAY, the State Government is taking over 75% of debt of Rs. 30,420 crores of TANGEDCO. The scheme also provides for the balance debt to be re-priced or issued as State guaranteed Discom bonds, at coupon rates around 3-4% less than the average existing interest rate. The State would have savings of about Rs.950 cr. in annual interest cost through reduction of debt and through reduced interest rates on the balance debt.

UDAY lays stress on improving operational efficiencies of the DISCOMs. Tamil Nadu and TANGEDCO have committed to bring about operational efficiency through compulsory feeder and distribution transformer metering, consumer indexing & GIS mapping of losses, upgrade/change transformers, meters etc., smart metering of high-end consumers, reduction in transmission losses and increased power supplies in areas with reduced AT&C losses. The reduction in AT&C losses and transmission losses to 13.5% and 3.7% respectively is likely to bring additional revenue of around Rs. 1,601 crores to TANGEDCO.

Demand Side interventions in UDAY such as usage of energy-efficient LED bulbs, agricultural pumps, fans & air-conditioners and efficient industrial equipment through PAT (Perform, Achieve and Trade) would help in reducing peak load, flatten load curve and thus help in reducing energy consumption in Tamil Nadu. The gain is expected to be around Rs. 2,304 crores.

The Central government would also provide incentives to the State Government and the Discom for improving the power infrastructure in the State and for lowering the cost of power. The State would get additional/priority funding through the Central schemes such as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), Power Sector Development Fund (PSDF) or such other schemes of the Ministries of Power and New & Renewable Energy, if they meet the operational milestones outlined in the scheme.

The State shall also be supported through additional coal at notified prices and in case of availability through higher capacity utilization, low cost power from NTPC and other CPSUs. Other benefits such as coal swapping, coal rationalization, correction in coal grade slippage, availability of 100% washed coal would help the state to further reduce the cost of power.

The State would gain around Rs. 4,320 crores due to these coal reforms. With the financial turnaround through financial and operational efficiencies, TANGEDCOs rating would improve, which would help in raising cheaper funds for its future capital investment requirement. This is expected to provide interest cost saving of around Rs. 60 crores for TANGEDCO in 3 years.

The ultimate benefit of signing the MOU would go to the people of Tamil Nadu. Higher demand for power from DISCOMs would mean higher Plant Load Factor (PLF) of generating units and therefore, lesser cost per unit of electricity thereby benefitting consumers. Availability of 24x7 power for all would increase the economic activity and improve employment opportunities in the State.

UDAY was launched by the Government of India on 20th November, 2015 to ensure a permanent and sustainable solution to the debt-ridden Distribution utilities to achieve financial stability and growth, now has 21 States in the Club after Tamil Nadu coming on board.

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Cold wave spell over plains of northwest India
Jan 09,2017

With the eastward movement of the current Western Disturbance as an upper air cyclonic circulation lying over north Pakistan & neighbourhood, dry northwesterly cold winds at lower & middle levels very likely to prevail over plains of northwest India from 10th night to 13th January morning.

Under these circumstances, the prevailing minimum temperatures over plains of northwest India are very likely to fall further by 2-4n++C till 13th morning.

Cold Wave Warning:

n++ Cold wave at a few places with severe cold wave conditions at isolated places are most likely to prevail over Punjab, Haryana and northern parts of Rajasthan from tomorrow, the 10th night to 13th morning.

n++ Cold wave conditions at isolated places are also most likely to prevail over West Uttar Pradesh from 11th morning to 13th morning.

Ground Frost Warning:

n++ Considering the trends in minimum temperatures from 10th morning to 13th morning, ground frost conditions are also very likely to occur at isolated pockets over Punjab, Haryana and north Rajasthan during the same period.

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No additional levy on use of cards at petrol stations says Petroleum Minister
Jan 09,2017

MoS (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan said neither the customers nor petrol pump dealers will bear additional charges on digital transactions at petrol stations. He said that the Government had issued guidelines in February 2016 stating that the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) charge will not be passed on to the consumers and that the stakeholders will take appropriate steps to absorb the MDR charges.

The Government has stepped in after the issue on levy on digital transaction at petrol stations was raised by association of petrol pump dealers. Shri Pradhan said that there will be no additional levy on digital transaction at petrol stations even after 13 January, 2017. He also said that the Petrol pump transaction fee is a business model between the banks & oil marketing companies which they will resolve.

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Export of Oilmeals more than doubled in December 2016 ; down by 13% in April to December 2016
Jan 09,2017

The export of oilmeals during December 2016 has jumped; more than doubled due to large demand of Non-GMO Soybean Meal from France and reported at 194,309 tons compared to 84,218 tons. This was stated by The Solvent Extractors Association of India.

The overall export of oilmeals during April to December 2016 is reported at 856,798 tons compared to 987,842 tons during the same period of last year i.e. down by 13% .

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Over 10 million downloads of BHIM App in 10 days
Jan 09,2017

In a span of 10 days there have been over 10 million downloads of the BHIM App.

BHIM App has made transactions faster & easier, thus making it popular among the youth. The App is also beneficial for traders.

The BHIM App is a fine example of Make in India & how technology is being effectively used to end the menace of corruption & black money, the Prime Minister said.

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