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Aeronautical Services Tariffs and Airport Charges at Major Airports Reviewed and Revised From Time To Time
Nov 24,2016

The Government of India has established Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) in 2009 under an Act of Parliament viz. AERA Act, 2008 to determine the tariffs in respect of aeronautical services provided at major airports in the country. AERA determines the aeronautical tariff in respect of major airports based on stakeholder consultation. The tariffs are reviewed and revised by AERA every five years considering the investment and expenditure incurred by the airport operator, improving efficiency and viability of the airport with a view to rationalize the charges.

The airport charges are allowed to airports operators as mean to provide fair rate of return on the investment made by the airport developer. Since huge investments are made by the developers while construction of the airport, the charges are comparatively higher during the initial period of the airport commencement. However, the charges gets substantially reduced once the investment for the development is recovered.

The airport charges at Delhi airport is comparatively lower than several other similarly placed airports across the globe. Besides, AERA has already notified the airport charges for Delhi airport for 2nd Control Period wherein the charges have been substantially reduced.

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Development of National Waterways in North East Region and Three Multimodal Inland Water Transport (IWT) Terminals on National Waterway-1
Nov 24,2016

For the development of National Waterways in the North East Region (NER), an amount of Rs.100 crore has been provided in the Budget Estimates (BE)-2016-17. Expenditure for developmental works being taken up on the river Brahmaputra and Barak will be met out of this allocation.

Specified stretches of Rivers Brahmaputra and Barak have been declared as National Waterway-2 and 16 respectively by the National Waterways Act, 2016. River Brahmaputra has been developed substantially in terms of fairway, navigational aids and terminals with mechanized handling facilities. This waterway is operational and vessels are operating on it.

Development of river Barak for navigation is proposed in two stages. The stretch from Silchar to Bhanga (71 km) is proposed under Phase-I and the remaining stretch from Silchar to Lakhipur (50 km) is proposed to be taken up in Phase-II. Tender for award of work for development of fairway and providing navigational aids in Silchar-Bhanga stretch is in the final stage.

The Union Government has planned construction of three multimodal Inland Water Transport (IWT) terminals on National Waterway-1(Ganga) at Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia and one terminal on National Waterway-2 (Brahmaputra) at Pandu. The present status of these terminals is as follows:-

Varanasi (on NW-1)

The work order for construction of Phase-1(A), mainly offshore work has been awarded on 13.05.2016 and the work has already commenced. The cost of the project is Rs. 169.59 crore.

Sahibganj (on NW-1)

The work order for construction of Phase-I of the terminal has been issued on 27.10.2016 at the cost of Rs. 280.90 crore.

Haldia (on NW-1)

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has taken 61 acres of land on 30-year lease from the Kolkata Port Trust at Haldia Dock Complex. Tender process for award of work of Phase-I of the terminal is in advanced stage.

Pandu (on NW-2)

A high and low level Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) Jetty has been constructed at Pandu, Guwahati. This jetty is well connected with National Highway-31 and also with Kamakhya Railway Station through Broad gauge railway line. This jetty is in the final stage.

The time frame for completion of the above mentioned projects are as follows:

S.No.

Project

Expected Time frame

1.

Multi-model terminal at Varanasi

26 months from the date of award of work, i.e. 13th May, 2016.

2.

Multi-model terminal at Sahibganj

30 months from the date of award of work, i.e. 27th October, 2016.

3.

Multi-model terminal at Haldia

30 months from the date of award of work.

4.

Mutli-model terminal at Pandu

Already operational

5.

Development of fairway and terminal facilities in river Barak

15 months from the date of award of work.

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Cabinet approves setting up of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas in 62 uncovered districts of the country
Nov 24,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved opening of one Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) in each of the 62 uncovered districts with an outlay of Rs.2,871 crore.

The expenditure for this purpose during the 12th Plan will be Rs.109.53 crore with a spill over amount of Rs.2,761.56 crore from 2017-18 to 2024-25. These JNVs will provide good quality modern education to the talented children prominently from rural areas. It is expected that nearly 35,000 students will be benefitted from these JNVs.

A full fledged Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya provide employment to 47 persons and accordingly 62 JNVs will provide direct permanent employment to 2914 individuals.

As JNVs are residential and co-educational in nature, it is compulsory for all the staff and students to reside in the Vidyalaya campus. Due to its residential nature, each JNV will generate opportunities to the local vendors for supply of essential commodities such as food, consumables, furniture, teaching material etc. It will also create large opportunity for local service providers such as barber, tailor cobbler, manpower for housekeeping and security services etc.

Background:

As on date, there are 598 sanctioned JNVs in 576 districts spread across 35 States / Union Territories. Out of these, 591 are functional. Each JNV has classes from VI to XII with a sanctioned strength of 80 students per class and total strength of 560 students. Admissions to JNVs in class VI are done through an entrance examination. At least 75% of the seats in a district are filled by candidates selected from rural areas of the district.

Further, reservation of seats in favour of children belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is provided in proportion to their population in the concerned district subject to the condition that in no district such reservation is less than the national reservation percentage (15% for SC and 7.5% for ST). One third of the total seats are reserved for girls.

List of the 62 uncovered districts in the country where new JNVs will be opened

S.No.

STATE

NAME OF DISTRICT

1.

Andaman & Nicobar

1. South Andaman

2.

Arunachal Pradesh

2. Tirap

 

3. Capital Complex (Itanagar)

3.

Karnataka

4. Kolar

 

5. Ramanagara                 

 

6. Gulbarga

4.

Delhi

7. East Delhi

 

8.West Delhi

 

9. North Delhi

 

10. South Delhi

 

11. North East Delhi

 

12. Shahdara

 

13. South East Delhi

5.

Rajasthan

14. Pratapgarh

6.

Haryana

15. Palwal

7.

West Bengal

16. Malda

 

17. Jalpaiguri

8.

Jharkhand

18. Ramgarh

 

19. Khunti

9.

Vlaharashtra

20. Bhandara

10.

Gujarat

21.Surat

 

22. Dwarka

 

23. Junagarh

 

24. Botad

 

25. Mahisagar

 

26. Chota Udaipur

 

27. Morbi

 

28. Sabar Kantha

11.

Chattisgarh

29. Narayanpur (Bastar)

 

30. Bijapur (Dantewada)

 

31. Balodabazar

 

32. Gariyaband

 

33. 

Short Term Bills May Enable Liquidity Sterilisation as RBIs G-Sec Kitty Limited
Nov 24,2016

The amount of government securities (G-Sec) available with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to offer banks in exchange of the spurt in deposits is nearing a critical limit, which may force the central bank to look at alternative means to sterilise liquidity, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). In Ind-Ras assessment, sterilisation through the issuance of cash management bills (CMB) is likely to be preferred over other structural measures, namely a hike in the cash reserve ratio (CRR) or resorting to the use of the market stabilisation scheme (MSS), since the sustainability of such high deposits remains uncertain. The sterilisation will ensure stability in the money market in sync with the central banks key objective of ensuring financial market stability.

Banks have parked a record INR4.3trn with the RBI as of 22 November 2016, against which the banks receive government securities (G-Sec). However, RBIs G-sec holding currently stands at around INR7trn, which may compel the central bank to look for alternatives to sterilise the liquidity in the near-term.

A fortnight after the government notified the withdrawal of the legal tender status of high denomination currency notes, banks find themselves flooded with a gush of liquidity. As on 22 November 2016, on a net basis, banks have parked a record INR4.3trn with the RBI - earning in range of 6.21% to 6.24% as overnight interest. This is the highest liquidity absorption carried out by RBI (earlier record absorption was INR1.7trn in May 2009). In order to absorb that liquidity, the RBI tenders G-sec as collateral (under the liquidity adjustment facility window) by conducting reverse repo operations.

The average amount that banks have been parking with the RBI since 9 November 2016 is INR1.75trn compared to the last three months average pre-demonitisation of INR256bn. Ind-Ra believes, in the event that the liquidity surplus in the system increases beyond the level of G-secs held by RBI, several alternative and unconventional measures can be deployed. The issuance of CMB is likely to emerge as the preferred alternative for the RBI owing to benefits like (1) short duration of underlying security, less than 91 days (2) existing secondary market and qualification for a ready forward facility and investment in Statutory Liquidity Ratio (3) consistent with RBIs stance on liquidity and monetary policy. The issuance of CMB will limit the softening of yields, especially on the shorter end of the curve. Traditionally, CMB are issued to enable the government to tide over temporary liquidity mismatches. Ind-Ra, however, believes given the current scenario it can be an effective liquidity management tool for the RBI.

Apart from CMB issuances, the RBI could also look at other options to durably sterilise liquidity:

n++Utilisation of MSS limits to issue bonds - the ceiling for which is fixed at INR300bn for FY17.

n++Increasing reserve requirement by hike in CRR - a mode less preferred given its permanent nature and perverse impact on banks ability to ensure transmission

n++Intervene in the forex market - RBI has accumulated USD10.7bn through spot market in April-September 2016

n++Explore the option of uncollateralised window of liquidity absorption (standing deposit facility as proposed in the Report of Expert Committee to Revise and Strengthen Monetary Policy Framework)

n++Introduce reward based excess reserve maintenance as introduced by the Federal Reserve in 2009. This encourages commercial banks to park excess liquidity in the hands of central banks with nominal interest rate, creating an alternative tool for non-collateral sterilisation.

However, the agency believes each of the above measure comes with its own set of implication and limit the fluidity required for the central bank operation. The MSS bonds may pose a challenge with respect to eventual de-sequestration, while a hike in CRR may result in a negative shock to the banking system - limiting their ability to pass on easy rates. On the other hand, intervention in the foreign exchange market will necessitate RBI to utilise their forex reserves. Given the global risk aversion and elevated probability of a Fed rate hike, the ensuing currency volatility may compel RBI to preserve forex reserves and utilise it judiciously. Lastly, in order to operationalise the standing deposit facility (uncollateralised liquidity absorption facility, as proposed by Urjit Patel committee 2014), an amendment in the RBI Act is required- thus prohibiting its immediate utilisation.

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Cabinet approves introduction of revamped Merchant Shipping Bill 2016 in Parliament
Nov 24,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016 for introducing it in the Parliament.

The Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016 is a revamped version of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. The Bill provides for repealing of Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 as well as for the repealing of the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838.

The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 had become a bulky piece of legislation over the years as a result of various amendments carried out in the Act from time to time. It was amended 17 times between 1966 and 2014 resulting in an increase in the number of sections to more than 560 sections. These provisions have been meticulously shortened to 280 sections in the Bill.

The provisions of the Bill will simplify the law governing the merchant shipping in India. Further, certain redundant provisions will be dispensed with and remaining provisions will stand consolidated and simplified so as to promote case of doing business, transparency and effective delivery of services.

The significant reforms that will usher in, upon enactment of the Bill, are:

A. Augmentation of Indian tonnage promotion/development of coastal shipping in India by:-

a) allowing substantially-owned vessels and vessels on Bare Boat-cum-Demise (BBCD); charter by Indians to be registered as Indian flag vessels;

b) recognising Indian controlled tonnage as a separate category;

c) dispensing with the requirement for issuing of licences to Indian flag vessels for coastal operation and for port clearance by the Customs authorities; and

d) making separate rules for coastal vessels to develop & promote coastal shipping.

B. Introduction of welfare measures for seafarers, such as:-

a) seafarers held in hostage captivity of pirates will receive wages till they are released and reach home back safely;

b) owners of vessels to compulsorily take insurance of crew engaged on vessels including fishing, sailing without mechanical means of propulsion and whose net tonnage is less than 15; and

c) the requirement of signing of articles of agreement by the crew before the Shipping Master will no longer be necessary.

C. Registration of certain residuary category of vessels not covered under any statute and lo make provisions for security-related aspects.

D. Incorporation of all International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions/Protocols in the Indian laws up-to-date (an essential pre-requisite for compliance with the IMO Member-State Audit Scheme that is mandatory since 1/1/2016) by inserting provisions relating to seven different conventions, namely,

a) the Intervention Convention 1969,

b) the Search and Rescue Convention 1979

c) the Protocol for Prevention of Pollution from Ships Annex VI to Marine Pollution Convention,

d) the Convention for Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004,

e) the Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention, 2007,

f) the Salvage Convention 1989 and

g) the International Convention for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001.

Besides, the provisions for survey, inspection and certification of vessels which were scattered in various Parts of the existing Act are placed together to provide for a simplified regime for convenience of Indian shipping industry. The Coasting Vessels Act, 1838, which is an archaic legislation of the British era providing for registration of non-mechanically propelled vessels to a limited jurisdiction of Saurashtra and Kutch, is proposed to be repealed since in the Merchant Shipping Bill 2016 provisions have been introduced for registration of all vessels for the whole of India.

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Cabinet approves re-routing of State Highway passing through Naval Land at Kakinada
Nov 24,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for diversion of State Highway-149 passing through Naval Land at Kakinada. In this connection, the following decisions were also taken:-

a) Taking over of 11.25 acres of land of the Government of Andhra Pradesh underneath the existing Highway passing through Naval land at Kakinada.

b) Surrender of 5.23 acres of Naval land at Kakinada to the State Government of Andhra Pradesh.

c) Payment of Rs. 1882.775 Lakhs as compensation to the State Government of Andhra Pradesh to facilitate them for acquisition of land and for associated construction of alternate road.

The re-routing of state highway at Kakinada will provide hindrance free training by reducing accidents and improvement in security of the establishment. It will ensure safety and security of Amphibious Warfare Training Centre alongwith related infrastructure.

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India Inc. must formulate strong anti-fraud programme to reduce risk on account of corporate fraud: ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton study
Nov 24,2016

Companies across India must implement an anti-fraud framework to mitigate the risks evolving from illegal activities as pressure of uncertain markets, escalating input costs, high labour turnover, advent of technology and others provide significant opportunity and incentives for fraudsters to commit financial frauds, noted an ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton joint study.

n++There is an urgent need to equip our businesses against fraud risks and exposure through a systematic programme of fraud risk assessment, monitoring, incident response and remediation,n++ noted an ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton joint study titled Financial and Corporate Frauds.

n++A robust control environment is vital to reduce the risk on account of fraud and misconduct within companies and their dynamic business environment,n++ it said.

n++With any change in the environment of the businesses, the need to adapt to these changes is a prerequisite to attain sustainable growth,n++ the study further said.

The change in the current environment is the increased fraud exposure for organisations.

Considering that in any organisation, the board of directors are responsible for setting the tone at the top, which flows across the entire company and its various locations, management views on mitigating fraud, corruption and misconduct should be revealed to the employees.

Besides, disciplinary action and zero tolerance for violations should also be part of the message that the board sends out to employees.

Organisations willing to counter fraud should develop sound fraud prevention policies that must include extensive background checks on new-hires, promotion candidates, suppliers, customers and business partners (including international third parties); segregation of duties; position rotations; limitations of physical access to assets; removal of unauthorised and old system users and whistle blower mechanism.

Companies must develop their ethics code keeping in mind the size of the organisation, mix of employees, number of employees, and the key risk areas. The code must be formally documented and communicated to the employees, third parties, and other stakeholders and be uploaded on the official website of the organisation.

It should also describe the disciplinary actions that can be initiated against people and this function should be continuously monitored.

Highlighting the need for a whistleblower or complaint mechanism within an organisation, the ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton study said, n++Companies must maintain anonymity of the complaint mechanism by ensuring confidentiality of information reported through the whistle-blower mechanism.n++

There should also be a policy of non-retaliation against the whistle-blower, it added.

Companies must also effectively communicate and train their employees periodically about the policies and procedures that are developed. This process must include aspects like in-person and web-based training for people to recognise and report red flags to frauds; special training for finance professionals and others in high-risk positions (i.e. business developers, sales and marketing).

There should be enhanced focus on assessing the types of frauds that can impact business and identifying relevant types of fraud, such as fraudulent financial reporting, possible loss of assets and corruption methods through which fraud and misconduct can be done.

It also includes identifying areas where the company should focus its anti-fraud resources and periodically review the results of the fraud risk assessment with the audit committee. Such periodic assessment should be helpful in challenging certain key aspects such as management override of controls.

Highlighting how continuous monitoring using data analytics is imperative to improve efficiencies and integrate supply chains, as most organisations are now heavily reliant on IT systems to support business processes, the study suggested that companies should put adequate control on devices containing confidential data, encrypt devices and use reliable software tools with remote data wiping capabilities to safeguard against device theft or intrusions.

Besides, companies should be proactively monitoring key processes and run data analytics modules on internal/external communication, payroll and reimbursements, receivables and collections, sales and distribution, time and physical access controls and vendor payments.

Most organisations use services of third parties to manage their business operations and other activities which can sometimes significantly increase the risk of frauds whereby due diligence can be a useful tool to understand ones vendors and business partners.

Due diligence on third parties should include knowledge business interests/ affiliations, conflict of interest; any adverse news in media about unethical business practices, involvement in tax evasion, money laundering, terrorist financing or any bribery/corruption incidents; any involvement in legal proceedings/convictions for malpractice/crime and others; any political affiliations, inappropriate political support and links to politically exposed persons/entities; credit defaults and bankruptcies together with other reputational concerns.

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Cabinet approves third Protocol to Convention between India & New Zealand
Nov 24,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the ratification and entry into force of the third Protocol to the Convention between India and New Zealand for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to (w.r.t) taxes on income (Convention). The Protocol was signed on 26th October, 2016.

The Protocol will stimulate the flow of exchange of information between India and New Zealand for tax purposes which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance. It will also enable assistance in collection of tax revenue claims between both countries.

Article 26 on Exchange of Information of the existing Convention has been replaced with a new Article in the Protocol which is in line with the international standard for exchange of information.

A new Article on Assistance on Collection of Taxes has been added in the Protocol.

The Protocol shall enter into force on the date of notification of completion of the procedures required by the respective laws of the two countries for entry into force of the Protocol.

Background:

The Central Government is authorized under section 90 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to enter into an Agreement with a foreign country or specified territory for exchange of information and recovery of income tax for the prevention of evasion or avoidance of income-tax chargeable under the Income-tax Act, 1961. The Convention came into force on 3rd December, 1986. The Convention was amended in 1997 through a First Protocol and in 2000 through a Second Protocol. Subsequently, India proposed to further amend the Convention through a Third Protocol to update the Exchange of Information Article as per the international standard and to insert an Article on Assistance in the Collection of taxes. Accordingly, negotiations were entered into with New Zealand and agreement was reached on both the Articles of the Third Protocol.

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Cabinet approves MoU among New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, Japan and Ministries of Finance, Health & Family Welfare and
Nov 24,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan and Ministries of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs), Health & Family Welfare and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) concerning the Demonstration Project for ICT based Green Hospital at AIIMS in Delhi.

The project shall encompass the following work:

a. Surveys required for engineering and design, construction and operation of the EQUIPMENT,

b. Basic planning and engineering and design of the EQUIPMENT,

c. Manufacture and transportation of the EQUIPMENT,

d. Civil work, construction and installation

e. Commissioning of the EQUIPMENT,

f. Demonstration of the EQUIPMENT, and

g. Dissemination of the TECHNOLOGY in India.

The MoU shall come into effect on the date of its signature and shall remain effective until March 31, 2020.

The objectives of the project are to contribute to the efficient use of energy and the protection of the environment in India by installing the energy efficient and IT related equipment in AIIMS Delhi and demonstrating the energy management system and IT system. Efforts will be made to widely disseminate the technology in India through demonstration of the equipment.

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Contract Signed with International Seabed Authority for Exploration of Polymetallic Sulphides in Indian Ocean in September this year
Nov 23,2016

A contract was signed with International Seabed Authority for Exploration of Polymetallic Sulphides in Indian Ocean on 26th September, 2016 in New Delhi. The contract provides India the exclusive rights of exploration in the area near the Rodridgues Tripple Junction in the southern part of Central India ridge and a part of South-West Indian ridge.

The plan for the survey and exploration along with the environmental baseline for the first five years includes the acquisition of multi-beam bathymetric data, seabed characterization, collection of sediment and rock samples, water column sampling followed by data processing, analysis and interpretation.

IMD Proposes to Bring Out a Cold Weather Outlook For the Period December 2016 to February 2017
Nov 23,2016

Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has already started issuing of the Hot Weather Season Outlooks from the summer season of 2016, i.e. starting from April 2016. It is also proposed to bring out a Cold Weather Outlook for the period from December 2016 to February 2017.

Temperature Outlook is issued for hot and cold weather season temperatures over the country based on predictions using the ocean-atmosphere coupled climate model developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) Pune, Ministry of Earth Sciences. Climate Services Division of IMD issues a seasonal outlook prior to the starting of the season, specifying whether temperature of the season as a whole is likely to be above normal (Long term climatological average) or below normal. This would be supplemented by the subsequent weekly updates of extended range forecasts, based on dynamical models on both day maximum and night minimum temperatures. IMD maintains a close watch on the local temperature changes. It issues warnings wherever any places is threatened by cold or very hot weather, to alert members of the public to the danger of low body temperature in cold weather or the risk of heat stroke and sunburn in very hot weather.

IITM, IMD, various state governments, TV channels and Newspapers are involved in this programme. Upon prediction of the heat wave conditions by the IMD, various state governments have a system of giving wide publicity of Dos and Donts through advertisements in TV channels, Newspapers and opening drinking water camps at identified places in rural and urban areas to mitigate the impact of heat waves. The heat action plan is being implemented in cities across central India, since 2016 including Ahmedabad, Surat, Nagpur, Akola, Gondia, Chandrapur, Nanded, Jalgaon, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The schedule of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme workers is adjusted to avoid exposure to extreme hot weather duration periods. Advisories include precautionary measures to avoid heat stroke include - drinking plenty of water, avoiding going out in open heat during 10am - 4 pm; wearing light coloured clothes; covering head/ using umbrella while going out; monitoring symptoms of heat stroke etc.

User Interaction workshops are also planned at every State and Regional Meteorological Centres to create awareness of the products and their utility. Such programmes will be conducted with the involvement of targeted users in the heat/cold wave prone regions of the country.

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Government has ensured more than adequate availability of Fertilizers for the present Rabi Season
Nov 23,2016

Government of India, Department of Fertilizers is making all out efforts to ensure that the Fertilizers are readily made available to the farmers as per their demand without any problem.

Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Shri Ananth Kumar informed that Modi Government has ensured more than adequate availability of Fertilizers for the present Rabi Season. The total availability of urea in the country as on 1 November 2016 was 34.24 Lakh MT. Further, against a requirement of 32.76 Lakh MT of urea for the month of November, 41.05 Lakh MT of urea has already been made available in the field. He informed that similarly in the case of DAP, there is huge opening stock of 19.55 Lakh MT in the country against the overall demand of 12.44 Lakh MT for the month of November 2016. Minister (C&F) stated that similarly in case of MoP & NPK fertilizers, against a requirement of 4.08 & 11.16 Lakh MT, for the month of November, the opening stock itself as on 01 November 2016 was 5.25 & 15.05 lakh MT respectively.

Shri Ananth Kumar said that all the Chief Secretaries of the States and Commissioners of Agriculture have been directed to ensure that the farmers do not face any kind of difficulty in getting fertilizers. They have been directed to ensure that all the Cooperative Societies, Private Retailers/ Wholesalers of fertilizers provide fertilizers to farmers through all modes of payments like on Credit as well as through Credit Card, Debit Card, Cheque etc. He informed that strict instructions have been given to all the fertilizer manufacturers and importers of fertilizers that it would be their primary responsibility to ensure that farmers do not face any problem under any condition in getting fertilizers and for this they have to ensure that all modes of payments are accepted by all concerned dealers/wholesalers/ retailers. He further informed that Fertilizers Companies have been directed to see that in case any kind of problem is noticed anywhere in the country due to non-availability of cash/banking services, farmers should be provided fertilizers on credit basis and for that all necessary arrangements be made by them.

Minister said that senior officials of Department of Fertilizers, through video conference monitored the situation yesterday with all the State Governments and have issued necessary instructions to them to ensure that the sale of fertilizers remain smooth throughout the country.

Shri Ananth Kumar expressed confidence that due to abundant availability of fertilizers and the steps taken by the Government, farmers will get their required fertilizers for the present Rabi season without any difficulty. He also said that he is monitoring the situation regularly himself and has directed the officials of the Department of Fertilizers to continuously talk to the State Governments and Fertilizer Companies to ensure that in no case, farmers face any kind of difficulty in getting fertilizers for the present Rabi Season.

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Rs. 1032.23 crore have been spent under Indian Leather Development Programme (ILDP) during XIIth Five Year Plan till date
Nov 23,2016

Rs. 1032.23 crore have been spent under Indian Leather Development Programme (ILDP) during XIIth Five Year Plan till date. ILDP aims at augmenting raw material base through modernization and technology up-gradation of leather units, addressing environmental concerns, human resource development, supporting traditional leather artisans, addressing infrastructure constraints and establishing institutional facilities. The breakup of expenditure incurred under ILDP during XIIth five year plan till date is as follows:

(i) Rs.593.98 crore for Human Resource Development for placement linked skill development training and skill upgradation training

(ii) Rs.159.77 crore for Integrated Development of Leather Sector for upgrading/modernizing and / or expansion and setting up a new unit

(iii) Rs. 15.37 crore for providing support for upgradation of two Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) and one project of Solid waste management

(iv) Rs. 63.08 crore for providing support to artisans for design and product development and market linkages

(v) Rs. 200.00 crore for establishment of two new branches of Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) at Ankleshwar (Gujarat) and Banur (Punjab)

(vi) Rs.0.03 crore for the purpose of engagement of Project Management Consultant (PMC) under Mega Leather Cluster (MLC) sub-scheme under which one MLC at Nellore Andhra Pradesh has been approved.

In addition to assistance under ILDP as mentioned in part (a) and (b) of the answer, the following steps have also been taken up by government to promote Leather Sector in the country.

(i) Rs. 495 Crore has been sanctioned by Department of Commerce for construction of new branches at Guna, Patna, Hyderabad, up-gradation of Chhindwara Branch and Computer Networking Centre of FDDI.

(ii) Rs. 765 Lakh has been sanctioned by Department of Commerce under Market Access Initiative (MAI) scheme and Rs. 297.93 Lakh under Marketing Development Assistance (MDA) scheme for marketing programmes and activities during 2016-17.

(iii) Rs. 57.11 Crores has been sanctioned by Department of Commerce under Assistance to State for Infrastructure Development of Exports (ASIDE) scheme for creation of common infrastructure facilities.

(iv) Various other measures implemented for leather sector include no import duty on hides & skins, semi-processed as well as finished leather, raw and tanned furskins; duty free import of Machinery under Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) scheme; duty free import of notified inputs to the extent of 3% of Free on Board (FOB) value of export in previous year under Duty Free Import Scheme(DFIS); No excise duty on footwear of MRP upto Rs. 500/-, 6% excise on footwear of MRP over Rs. 500 and upto Rs. 1000 and for leather footwear of MRP over Rs. 1000 along with 30% abatement

(v) Permission for 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) under automatic route in leather sector

(vi) MSME units in leather sector are eligible for reduction in interest rates on rupee export credit to the extent of 3% under Interest Equalization Scheme

(vii) Leather products and footwear components are also entitled to 3% scrip under Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS).

(viii) The export of finished leather and leather products get All Industry Rates of duty drawback.

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Ministry of Urban Development finalizes Real Estate Rules for Delhi
Nov 23,2016

Ministry of Urban Development has finalized the Real Estate General Rules and Rules for Agreement for Sale for the National Capital Territory of Delhi as required under the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016. Minister Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu approved these Rules, which have been formulated after consultations with the Delhi Government, New Delhi Municipal Council, three Municipal Corporations of Delhi, Delhi Development Authority and other stakeholders. These Rules will be notified by the 27th of this month, the extended date in this regard.

The Real Estate Rules applicable to Delhi are the same as notified on October 31 this year by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation for the five Union Territories without Legislatures. They, however, provide clarity on some aspects like litigation details to be published on website, provision for quality audit of projects and flexibility in agreement for sale.

Regarding publication of litigation details pertaining to the promoter on website, it has been specified such details in respect of litigations disposed of by the concerned court in the past five years in respect of projects developed or being developed may be published on website. This has been considered since a promoter may not have complete information about various cases filed, at the time of providing such information to Regulatory Authorities.

Delhi Rules also provide for Regulatory Authorities to undertake third party quality audit of real estate projects registered with them, to ensure quality of construction, services etc., of the project in the interest of buyers.

With regard to the Rules for Agreement for Sale between the buyer and the promoter, flexibility has been proposed so as to include other elements or features besides the apartment, plot, garage, parking, if required. This has been provided to address special contingencies relating to the nature of projects to be taken up or the needs of buyers.

Under Section 2(g) of the Real Estate Act, Ministry of Urban Development has been mandated with the responsibility of making Rules for the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

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Central Government takes various decisions for the benefit of farmers in the current Rabi Season and to promote digital payments in the economy
Nov 23,2016

Following the cancellation of legal tender character of old Rs. 500 and Rs.1000 notes, a number of measures have been announced by the Union Government, taking into consideration the requirements of various sections of society. Special measures like higher cash drawal limits for farmers and registered traders in APMC markets/Mandis, extension of time limit for payment of crop insurance premium, purchase of seeds with old high denomination bank notes of Rs. 500 from certain select Government Centres etc., have already been announced for the benefit of the farmers. Steps have been taken to ensure availability of cash in rural branches of Banks and 1.55 lakh Post Offices. Network of Banking Correspondents has also been activated with higher cash holding limits to meet the requirements of people in the rural areas.

On further review of the matter, the Government has taken certain decisions for the benefit of farmers in the current Rabi season and to promote digital payments in the economy. These are in the nature of operational measures and are as follows :

(i) NABARD has made available Rs.21,000 crores limit to the District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) through State Cooperative Banks for Rabi agricultural operations. This will enable the DCCBs to sanction and disburse crop loans to the farmers through the network of Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS). This will benefit more than 40% of the small and marginal farmers who avail institutional credit/crop loans. Further, additional limits will be provided by NABARD as per requirement.

(ii) RBI and the Banks have been advised to make the required cash available to the DCCBs. This will ensure quick and unhindered flow of credit and required cash to the farmers, especially for sowing and other agricultural operations during the current Rabi season.

(iii) As a relief to small borrowers (i.e., loans upto Rs. 1 crore), RBI has already decided to provide additional 60 days time for repayment of dues. This will be applicable to personal and crop loans including housing and agricultural loans, taken from banks, NBFCs, DCCBs, PACS or NBFC- MFIs.

(iv) There are 30 crore RuPay Debit Cards which have been issued, including those issued to Jan Dhan Account holders. There is a growth of nearly 300% in use of RuPay cards in the last 12 days. To facilitate the use of this debit card, the Banks have decided to waive transaction charges (MDR) up to 31 December 2016. National Payments Council of India (NPCI) has already waived switching charges for RuPay Cards. Together, these steps will improve the acceptance of debit cards at different establishments.

(v) To promote greater use of Debit Cards, Public Sector Banks and some of the private sector Banks have decided to waive the MDR charges till 31 December 2016. Other private sector Banks are expected to do likewise. Consequently, the transaction charges - including the charges for switching services - stand waived till 31 December 2016.

(vi) To promote greater usage of payments through e-wallets, RBI has decided to increase the monthly transaction limit for individuals from Rs.10,000 to Rs.20,000. Similar enhancements have also been announced by RBI for merchants.

(vii) For convenience of passengers, Indian Railways have decided not to levy service charges of Rs.20 for second class and Rs.40 for upper classes on purchase of reserved E-tickets upto 31st December, 2016. This would facilitate and encourage the passengers to buy E-tickets instead of across the counter purchase through cash.

Daily average number of passengers buying E-tickets online is 58% and across the counter in cash is 42% of the total purchase of tickets. The effort now is to increase the purchase of E-tickets. It is expected that the above measure will encourage people to migrate to cashless transactions.

(viii) TRAI has decided to reduce the USSD charges from the current Rs.1.50 per session to Rs.0.50 per session for transactions relating to Banking and payments. They have also increased the stages from current five to eight. The Telecom Companies have also agreed to waive the above 50 paisa USSD charge per session for the period upto 31.12.2016. Consequently, USSD charges up to 31.12.2016 will be NIL. This will provide a very cost effective method of digital financial transaction, especially to the poor people with feature phones (which are currently 65% of the total phones in the country).

(ix) A lot of time is spent by vehicles at the check posts and toll plazas. While GST will address the problem at the check posts, certain measures are necessary for ease of payment at the toll plazas on the National Highways. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is therefore advising the automobile manufacturers to provide ETC compliant RFID in all new vehicles.

(x) All Government organizations, public sector undertakings and other Government authorities have been advised to use only digital payment methods such as internet banking, unified payment interface, cards, Aadhar enabled payment system etc. to make payments to all stakeholders and employees. At the point of disbursing the payments, it will be necessary for the authorities to provide the option of payments through cards, internet banking, unified payment interface, cards, Aadhar enabled payment system etc.

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