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Moodys Liquidity-Stress Index down again in April; liquidity checks defaults among spec-grade companies
May 03,2017

Moodys Liquidity-Stress Index (LSI) dipped to its lowest level since July 2015 last month, the rating agency says in its most recent edition of SGL Monitor Flash. The index declined to 4.9% in April from 5.3% in March, with liquidity conditions remaining fundamentally supportive for issuers across the speculative-grade rating spectrum.

Moodys Liquidity-Stress Index falls when corporate liquidity appears to improve and rises when it appears to weaken.

Speculative-grade liquidity continues to keep defaults in check, with a growing economy boosting profits and a lack of meaningful maturity and covenant concerns over the next year, said Senior Vice President John Puchalla. Speculative-grade bond and loan issuance slowed in April, but remained at levels healthy enough to give most companies the flexibility to resolve liquidity issues.

Last month, upgrades of Moodys speculative-grade liquidity (SGL) ratings continued to outnumber downgrades by nine to four, Puchalla says. SGL rating movements were dispersed across industries, with just one energy firm upgraded: Exploration and production company SM Energy Co.s liquidity rating was raised to SGL-1 following asset sales and a shift in spending that should lower its break-even costs.

Also in April, the SGL rating of Hospital operator Quorum Health Corp. was upgraded on the back of a covenant amendment and planned divestitures, while electronic component supplier KEMET Corp. saw its rating raised upon issuance of a new term loan and the refinancing of senior notes due 2018. Conversely, the SGL rating of apparel company Vince LLC was downgraded to SGL-4 on weak operating performance that will pressure its covenant compliance over the next 12 to 18 months.

Moodys forecasts that the US speculative-grade default rate will decline to 3.0% in March 2018 from a 4.7% level today that matches the long-term average.

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Banks Governance Standards to Strengthen on RBIs NPL Guidelines
May 03,2017

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to make disclosures pertaining to divergence in the asset classification and provisioning a step towards improving governance and smoothening transition to IFRS9 (IND AS 109) says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The additional disclosure requirements for banks would compel banks to tighten their internal non-performing loans (NPLs) recognition and provisioning norms, thereby improving the overall quality of disclosures and provide a platform for more uniform recognition of stressed assets as non-performing across different banks.

Ind-Ra believes the journey towards enhanced governance structure started last year with the clean-up exercise by the RBI in the form of the Asset Quality Review (AQR), where a significant proportion of the unrecognized stressed assets in the system got reclassified which led to a sharp jump in NPLs. Also, in some way, the quantum of divergence would highlight the level of banks proactive governance initiatives and effectively enhances the importance of RBIs assessment from being descriptive to prescriptive. The disclosure norms for divergences enhances the accountability on the banks part to be compliant with the norms. Any sharp divergence is likely to be questioned by the stakeholders.

The requirement for boards of banks to proactively assess risks across sectors and make provisions above the minimum regulatory standards, starting with the telecom sector are intended to strengthen the banks balance sheet for possible shocks on account of deterioration in asset quality. These provisions are also in-line with the migration to IFRS -9 (IND AS 109). This migration is slated to take place from the next year, but the proforma numbers will be released from June 2017 quarter onwards. The new accounting standards would require provisioning based on expected loss replacing the current incurred loss provision.

The blanket higher provisioning however generally seems to have been prescribed for meeting a larger objective and is not necessarily limited to credit risk. The RBI has prescribed higher risk weights for telecom, real estate lending, unhedged foreign exposure, capital market exposure among others. The provisioning enhancement on sectoral exposures in anticipation of credit losses may bring in subjectivity and may achieve the objective only partially. However, Ind-Ra notes that the notification is more in the nature of an advisory for the board and put the onus on them to be cautious and pro-active in terms of identifying the risk that could be building up in specific sectors, especially considering that there may be few large exposures residing and any slippage can impact the banks buffer materially.

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Department of Telecom (DoT) Launches Tarang Sanchar, a web Portal for Information sharing on Mobile Towers and EMF Emission Compliance
May 03,2017

The Minister of Communications Shri Manoj Sinha launched Tarang Sanchar, a web portal for Information sharing on Mobile Towers and EMF Emission Compliances and said that it will go a long way in clearing the myths and misconceptions of public on mobile towers and emissions from them. He expressed the hope that the portal will empower common man to know at the convenience of a mouse click, about towers working in a particular locality and whether they are compliant to the EMF emission norms defined by the Government.

Shri Sinha said that the portal will allow users to get a tower or base station checked for radiation emission, for a fee of Rs 4,000. He said that mobile phone today has become an essential requirement for all including the poor in the remotest corner of the country and no one will be allowed to spread misconception about the harmful radiation from the towers to impede the growth of the country. Shri Sinha reiterated that there are over 25,000 studies by WHO in the last 30 years on the subject and there is no proof that EMF radiation has any harmful effect on human health. Brushing aside growing concerns over the emanating electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiations from mobile towers, the Telecom Minister once again reminded that Indian norms had prescribed 10 times stricter limits for radiation emission in comparison to global standards. He said that more measures are being taken to penalise the erring entities.

Shri Sinha said that to realize the Prime Ministers vision of Digital India, it is necessary to have more and more mobile towers in every nook and corner of the country and the Ministry has already approved installation of towers over government buildings, 16 places in post offices and soon a decision will be taken to install the same in Cantonment Boards, which will not only help in spreading digital connectivity, but will also solve the problem of call drops significantly. Describing the launch of the portal a historic step, the Minister said that in future it will help in identifying the blind spots and added that it is also environment friendly as no paper work is required for this. He said that it has the complete collated technical details of over 14.5 lakh base stations (BTSs) spread across the country of all technologies (2G, 3G, 4G etc.) and of all Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, DoT Shri P K Pujari said that the portal will make information available to all concerned and he underlined that the focus of the government in the last three years has been transparency, disclosures and citizen-centric measures, which are the hall marks of good governance. He said, though there is no scientific evidence of any health concerns from low power mobile BTSs, a need was felt to educate the citizens about EMF emissions from mobile towers and status of their compliances. Shri Pujari said that the portal has three elements of providing information, EMF compliance process and interface between different departments, besides ease of doing business.

In his address, the Chairman, TRAI Shri R S Sharma said that the portal will be a mile stone for transparency, fair play, citizen empowerment and will finally lead to a knowledge economy. He said that digital empowerment in India is only possible when there is adequate digital infrastructure. Shri Sharma said that mobile phone in India today is not only a talking tool, but it has become an instrument for various transactions including cashless transaction and he lauded the collaborative effort between the government and the industry for this.

Shri G K Upadhyaya, Member (Technology) said that the EMF Portal is designed to provide a public interface where an easy map-based search feature has been provided for viewing the mobile towers in vicinity of any locality. He said the that any person can request for EMF emission measurement at a location by paying a nominal fee of Rs 4000/- online. The tests will be conducted by the local Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) filed unit of DoT and the test report will be provided to the requestor. The portal also has EMF Overview and Learn Sections, which provide numerous articles, booklets and videos, to further educate the citizens about EMF and coverage of telecom services. Shri R K Misra Member (Services) in Telecom Commission in his thanks giving address said that in addition to Government to Citizen (G2C) services, portal also facilitates Government to Business (G2B) service delivery in a transparent and eco-friendly manner.

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Nikkei India Manufacturing PMI rises for fourth straight month in April 2017
May 02,2017

Manufacturing conditions in India improved for the fourth straight month in April. The upturn was signalled by the headline Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers IndexTM (PMITM) - a diffusion index designed to measure the performance of the sector - matching Marchs reading of 52.5. Slower increases in output, stocks of purchases and employment were offset by stronger growth of new orders and lengthening delivery times.

Survey participants attributed new business wins to improving demand conditions and greater advertising. Overall, the upturn in order books was the most pronounced since last October. New export orders rose for the third month in a row, but the rate of expansion eased from March and was slight overall. Concurrently, output grew solidly, though growth softened slightly since the preceding survey period.

Manufacturing jobs rose for the second consecutive month in April, which panellists related to a combination of greater production needs and expectations of a pick up in demand. Nonetheless, the pace of employment growth remained slight overall.

Goods producers signalled a further accumulation of outstanding business, the eleventh in as many months. That said, the rate of expansion eased to the weakest in this sequence and was only slight. Where backlogs increased, survey members reported pending client payments.

Stocks of finished goods dropped for the twenty-second month running during April. However, the rate of depletion slowed to the weakest in the year-to-date. According to panel members, orders were sometimes met from stocks.

The amount of raw materials and semi-finished goods purchased by Indian manufacturers rose in April, in line with the trend recorded throughout the past four months. The rate of expansion was, however, modest and weakened from that seen in March. Stocks of purchases continued to rise, albeit growth eased from the preceding survey period.

Suppliers delivery times lengthened in April, amid reports of lorry strikes. The deterioration in vendor performance was only marginal, but reversed the improvement recorded in March.

Purchasing costs increased for the nineteenth consecutive month in April, with panellists reporting higher prices paid for metals, chemicals and plastics. The rate of cost inflation gathered pace since March and was above the average recorded over the current sequence of rises.

Less than 5% of manufacturers raised their output prices in April, while almost 93% signalled no change. Where selling prices were raised, there were reports of the passing on of higher cost burdens to clients. Firms that reduced charges mentioned attempts to win new customers.

Finally, goods producers were at their most optimistic since last November, with capacity expansion plans, new product developments, greater advertising and favourable market conditions expected to underpin output growth in the year ahead.

Commenting on the Indian Manufacturing PMI survey data, Pollyanna De Lima, Economist at IHS Markit and author of the report, said: Buoyant domestic demand coupled with sustained growth of new orders from abroad boosted the upturn in total new business received by Indian manufacturers in April. Having recovered at the beginning of the year from Decembers demonetisation-related contraction, growth of order books has gathered pace in each month since.

Job seekers in the sector were presented with further employment opportunities, while firms also continued to engage in purchasing activity and scaled up production again.

Scratching beneath the surface we can see that consumers were the key drivers of growth as consumer goods producers registered by far the steepest expansions in both production and new orders.

n++The outlook appears encouraging too, with output expected to remain on an upward trajectory amid reports of planned capacity expansions, new product launches, aggressive marketing campaigns and an improving economic scenario.

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Eight Core infrastructure sector output up 5% in March 2017
May 02,2017

The Eight core infrastructure industries, comprising nearly 38% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), showing healthy 5% increase in production for March 2017. Its production has moved up 4.5% in FY2017 over FY2016.

Coal production (weight: 4.38%) increased by 10.0% in March 2017 over March 2016. Its cumulative index during April to March 2016-17 increased 3.6% over corresponding period of previous year.

Crude Oil production (weight: 5.22%) increased by 0.9% in March 2017 over March 2016. Its cumulative index during April to March 2016-17 declined 2.5% over the corresponding period of previous year.

The Natural Gas production (weight: 1.71%) increased by 8.3% in March 2017 over March 2016. Its cumulative index during April to March 2016-17 declined 1.1% over the corresponding period of previous year.

Petroleum Refinery production (weight: 5.94%) declined by 0.3% in March 2017 over March 2016. Its cumulative index during April to March 2016-17 increased 5.4% over the corresponding period of previous year.

Fertilizer production (weight: 1.25%) declined by 0.8% in March 2017 over March 2016. Its cumulative index during April to March 2016-17 increased 1.8% over the corresponding period of previous year.

Steel production (weight: 6.68%) increased by 11.0% in March 2017 over March 2016. Its cumulative index during April to March 2016-17 increased 9.3% over the corresponding period of previous year.

Cement production (weight: 2.41%) declined by 6.8% in March 2017 over March 2016. Its cumulative index during April to March 2016-17 declined 1.3% over the corresponding period of previous year.

Electricity generation (weight: 10.32%) increased by 5.9% in March 2017 over March 2016. Its cumulative index during April to March 2016-17 increased 5.1% over the corresponding period of previous year.

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Maharajas Express , operated by Railways PSU, IRCTC, to begin its Two new tour circuits focussing especially on Domestic Travellers from June 2017
May 02,2017

The Indian Railway PSU, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) has decided to start two new circuits of their flagship luxury train Maharajas Express, this year. These two new trips have been named as n++Southern Sojournn++ and n++Southern Jewelsn++ which will cover prominent destinations in West and South India. The Southern Sojourn will cover Goa, Hampi, Mysore, Ernakulam, Kumarakom and Trivandrum. The Southern Jewels will cover Chettinad, Mahabalipuram, Mysore, Hampi and Goa.

Maharajas Express is known for recreating the royal journeys of yesteryears. Though the regular trip of these two new journeys will take place in September 2017 for this year, however two new tour circuits with a view to cater especially to domestic travellers are being planned during monsoon period of June/July 2017.

Tariff in Indian Rupees has been introduced for the Monsoon Special itineraries. Lucrative offers to attract domestic travellers have also been planned. On the booking of first adult on twin sharing at full cost, the second adult sharing the same cabin will be on Complimentary Basis. Moreover, a guest booking a Deluxe Cabin gets a chance to upgrade to a Junior Suite by paying only 50 % of the difference in tariff between Junior Suite and Deluxe Cabin.

For the very first time part journey has been introduced in the Monsoon Special itineraries of Maharajas Express. Passengers are allowed to avail part of the total journey on a fixed price of USD 500 / ₹ 33250.00 per day per person on twin sharing basis. On single occupancy basis the charges would be USD 800 / ₹ 53200.00. The prices are exclusive of taxes and limited to a maximum of 2 nights 3 days

The Southern Sojourn - Monsoon Special shall start from Mumbai on 24th June 2017 & stop at Goa, Hampi, Mysore, Cochin, Alleppey before terminating at Trivandrum. The Southern Jewels - Monsoon Special shall depart from Trivandrum on 1st July 2017 and terminate at Mumbai covering Chettinad, Mahabalipuram, Mysore, Hampi and Goa. Each journey shall be of 8 Days/7 Nights duration.

The regular trip of Southern Sojourn will start from Mumbai on 9 Sep 2017 and Southern Jewels will start from Trivandrum on 16 Sep 2017.

In addition to visits to monuments and sight-seeing at each destination under these trips, the guests shall have an opportunity to enjoy traditional cultural performances at Cochin, visit a Coir Factory and enjoy a cruise with lunch at Alleppey, savour traditional Chettinad Cuisine demo and much more on these fabulous journeys.

For Guests booking online or directly through phone, a special facility is being offered free of cost in the form of redeemable voucher of USD 250 (approx Rs. 16000/-) for each individual guest. Although the vouchers cannot be encashed they can be redeemed against all off-board optionals, liquor bills, on-board boutique purchases and laundry bills.

Maharajas Express commenced its operations in 2010, and since then the train has become the Leading Luxury Train of the World with comparisons to the Royal Scotsman and the Eastern and Oriental Express. The train is the recipient of the coveted Leading Luxury Train of the World Award for the last five years in a row since 2012.

The 23 coach long Maharajas Express, with a capacity of 88 guests, is a cut above other luxury trains in each aspect - the cabin experience, onboard dining, the excursions and events organized for guests. The train has state of the art features with on-board water filtration plant, spacious cabin sizes with no bunk beds, two bars cum lounges, two restaurants and of course a well trained on-board team to cater to global expectations.

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Successful auction of one limestone block in Raipur District concludes; estimated cumulative revenue of Rs 11,894 Cr to State
May 02,2017

The State Government of Chattisgarh has successfully auctioned one block of Limestone (Kesla II) in Raipur District with reserves of 215 million tonnes as on today. The preferred bidder for this block is M/s Dalmia (Bharat) Cement. This block has an estimated value of mineral resource of Rs 10,367 crores. With a reserve price of 5%, the block received a highest bid of 96.15% which translates into estimated cumulative revenue of Rs 11,894 crores to State Government over the lease period. The additionality to States exchequer through auctions only, works out to be Rs.9,968 Crores over the lease period whereas Royalty, District Mineral Foundation (DMF) and National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) would contribute Rs 1,720 Crore, Rs 172 Crore and Rs 34.4 Crore respectively.

With this successful auction of one limestone block in Raipur District, a total of twenty two blocks with estimated value of resources over 1 lakh Crore has been disposed of in a transparent manner till date. The total estimated revenue accrued to the State Governments over the lease period stands at Rs 85,253 Crores with Rs 67,502 Crore as additionality to the States exchequer through auctions. Out of this the cumulative Royalty, District Mineral Fund (DMF) and National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) contributions work out to be Rs. 17,752 Crores (Rs. 15,850 Crores, Rs.1,590 Crores and Rs.317 Crores, respectively).

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Cyprus seeks Indian investments to enhance ties: Nicos Anastasiades
May 02,2017

H.E. Mr Nicos Anastasiades, Honble President of the Republic of Cyprus urged Indian industry to invest in the countrys key areas including banking and finance, shipping and transportation, education, science and technology, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy and tourism in order to stimulate trade and investments between the two countries said at `India -Cyprus Business Session` jointly organized by ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI.

He said, Cyprus`s shipping industry has been one of the most successful export services of our country, as Cyprus enjoys the privilege of being one of the most influential global hubs for ship owning and ship management services, and home to some of the world`s most prominent names in shipping; offering competitive ship registration costs and favourable tax regime for ship management and other international business enterprises.

The education sector also has the capacity of becoming another significant area of collaboration between Cyprus and India. The three state Universities, and the five highly esteemed private universities offer a wide range of courses and degree programmes, attracting foreign students from all over the world, rendering the island a major educational centre in the region.

Another field of great prospect relates to science and technology, on which India possesses much-needed and much-welcomed experience and expertise, which could greatly benefit Cyprus. Attracting talent is very important for boosting our entrepreneurial and start-up ecosystem. For this reason, we have very recently introduced an attractive n++Start-up Visa Schemen++, under which startups from India can easily locate in Cyprus and have easy access to the EU market.

Other areas of co-operation which could be actively explored are those of renewable energy on which Cyprus has a long-standing expertise, and Tourism, Mr Nicos Anastasiades added.

In this respect, the Protocol on Air Services Agreement to be signed on Friday in New Delhi can pave the way for establishing direct connectivity between our two countries; thus increasing the so far very modest number of tourism exchanges if one considers the potential that this sector holds. A new strategy recently completed aims to diversify and enrich the tourist product. With the first luxury casino resort, the marinas and other major projects this is a space to watch out for new investments, said the Cyprus President.

n++Cyprus is now emerging stronger than ever from an unprecedented crisis and our journey along the road to recovery has been faster than anyone could predict, enjoying one of the fastest growing economies of the EU; currently just short of 3% of the GDPn++.

n++We recognise the importance of maintaining sound public finances. We are committed to maintain a stable and competitive tax regime. We shall continue to invest in our human capital, supporting higher education and researchn++.

In particular, the Government has developed a new legal framework, which establishes the procedure of direct licensing of large investments, and it applies on pilot cases a fast track licensing mechanism for investment projects. I would encourage foreign investors, including Indian investors, to invest in projects in Cyprus, which the Presidency can promote through its fast track mechanism for receiving the relevant licenses within short and specific timeframes.

Mr Sandeep Jajodia, President, ASSOCHAM said, n++Cyprus is not only an attractive investment destination but could be used as a gateway to EU for Indian businesses. The other area where India can contribute is imparting and providing host of digital skills and services. Besides, India can provide world class healthcare facilities which will complement your booming tourism sectorn++.

Mr. Deep Kapuria, Chairman, CII Central Europe Committee, and Chairman, Hi-Tech Group said that Cyprus location in the Eastern Mediterranean at the crossroads of three continents gives it easy access to the markets of West Asia, North Africa, Russia and Southern Europe. It can act as a gateway to these regions for Indian companies, particularly the EU of which it is a member state.

Mr. Rakesh Bakshi, Sr. FICCI Executive Committee Member and Chairman & Managing Director, RRB Energy Ltd added, enriching and broad-basing our economic relations would hold us good and role of tourism and hospitality sector can play an integral role in catapulting our relations to next level. Information technology & information technology enabled services, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and R&D, to mention a few will certainly and needed verve to our economic engagements.

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Centre to consider legal aspects & hold discussions with judiciary on Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code: Arjun Ram Meghwal
May 02,2017

The Union Government will implement the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code after considering all the legal aspects, inputs and hold discussions with the judicial authorities to ascertain their thoughts, Minister of State for Finance, Mr Arjun Ram Meghwal said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++You should be rest assured that the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is going to be implemented,n++ said Mr Meghwal.

Terming it not simple but a very important subject, he said that Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is going to be a game changer as it will change the entire system.

n++It is a cultural shift whereby at times we forget the mandate and objective and look for other sources of recovery but it is not the case,n++ said Mr Meghwal.

n++The implementation process of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code began only in 2017 and it is such a huge cultural shift that we will have to be extremely careful,n++ he added.

Elaborating a significant issue in this regard, Mr Meghwal said, n++An individual cannot be an entrepreneur by birth but he has to acquire the entrepreneurial skill. Since he has to acquire it, he has to go through recovery process along with Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code related process and if he gets failed due to various reasons he again has to go through the entire process.n++

He said that it is imperative to see that the individuals entrepreneurial skill does not get wasted due to this process.

n++You who have to take care that his entrepreneurial skill does not get wasted owing to this process because if we are able to do so, he can be revived again to significantly contribute in making India a great economic power,n++ further said the Minister.

He said that 2017 is going to be reckoned as a year of economic reforms - be it the presentation of Union Budget on February 1st, merger of Railway and Union Budget, Finance Bill coming into effect from April 1st and GST (goods and services tax) to be implemented from July 1st.

n++We have uploaded certain rules on our website, you should go through them and give us feedback on the same,n++ said Mr Meghwal seeking industrys suggestions vis-n++-vis GST.

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Devise back up minimum income schemes for those losing jobs due to automation: ASSOCHAM-PwC Paper
May 02,2017

With the Indian IT and other industries facing some of the daunting challenges from protectionism in the US and Artificial Intelligence (AI), an ASSOCHAM-PwC study has made out a strong case for government -industry schemes which ensure a minimum income to those displaced , along with basic health facilities for the families in stress.

It said there are concerns in a number of industries related to loss of jobs, arising out AI and robotics and the solution lies in facing the issue upfront and skilling up the country`s human resource.

n++In light of technology advances, certain sectors are expected to experience shrinkage of employment demand as robotic systems and algorithms take up several tasks. It can be expected that IT, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry etc will experience such a demand shift,n++ the study noted.

Quoting Oxford University researchers Carl Frety and Michael Osborne, based on 702 occupational groupings, workers in tele-marketing, hand sewers, mathematical technicians, insurance underwriters, watch repairers, cargo agents, tax preparers have a very high probability of being replaced by automation.

The ASSOCHAM-PwC Paper suggested that even though the churn arising out of automation would throw new opportunities, certain basic cushion must be given to those who may get affected by the AI and robotics and other automation technologies.

The paper made a strong case for universal benefits outside employment structures. n++If a large number of people end up unemployed for extended periods of time, there needs to be a way to provide healthcare, disability and pension benefits outside employmentn++.

It also sought a minimum income to sustain households. n++In the event of continuous unemployment or under-employment, government schemes to provide a minimum level of income to each citizen to guarantee basic needs are necessary to keep them out of destitution. Proposals must be structured in a way so as to maintain a balance between benefits and incentives for engagement - for example by involving the unemployed in social and community initiativesn++.

The ASSOCHAM-PwC Paper said the traditional academic curriculum is not well equipped to cater to technological advancements. n++The sequential system of education and work is outdated in an economic environment that is heavy on automation and deskilling of jobs and where skills gain and lose value within a few years. What is required is a continuous skill improvement system that does not depend on the sequence of the skills imparted to young mindsn++.

It sought creation of separate funds by the companies for skill re-training of employees. n++Companies can contribute a set amount to an individual`s fund which can then be transferred as the individual switches jobs. The goal of such an initiative will be o incentivize lifelong education and up-skillingn++.

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EESL collaborates with NITI Aayog for energy efficiency
May 02,2017

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) collaborated with NITI Aayog to retrofit LED lights, energy efficient ACs, Ceiling fans, Energy saver ACs, energy efficient Water Pumps and also installed chiller system in the NITI Aayog premises. This has resulted in an annual energy savings of 11.4 lakh kVAh, an annual monetary savings of Rs 1.02 crore and led to an annual CO2 reduction of 966 tons.

The total cost of the project is Rs 2.67 crore. EESL has retrofitted 3061 LED lighting, 591 energy efficient fans, 415 energy efficient air conditioners and installed 2 energy efficient chillers. Additionally, other energy efficient appliances such as energy efficient water pumps, APFC control and CEMS (Central Energy Management Systems), which tracks the buildings energy consumption has also been installed. With these interventions, BEE has certified NITI Aayog building with 5-star rating with Energy Performance Index of 72 (kWh/Sqm/annum).

NITI Aayog initiated the energy efficiency interventions in March 2014 in consultation with EESL. EESL analysed the connected load of NITI Aayog building and based on the highest components of energy utilization, target areas for interventions were identified. Additionally, monitoring and verification of the interventions was also carried out through physical verification of the replaced energy systems with wattage and operating hours by EESL.

The retrofitting and installation is executed in two phases with different models of implementation process.

Phase-I was done through PMC (Project Management Consultancy) mode in which entire capital cost was paid upfront by NITI Aayog and entire savings arising out of lower electricity bills accrue to NITI Aayog.

The chiller systems which is already installed in NITI Aayog under Phase-II, where EESL has implemented the project in ESCO shared saving model through collaboration with CPWD (Central Public Works Department). Under ESCO model, the upfront capital cost is borne by EESL and the resultant savings from projects are been used to repay for EESL investments on deemed basis.

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18 lakh Sample Survey reveals cities turned much cleaner in last one year
May 02,2017

The largest ever Sample Survey of over 18 lakh citizens has revealed that sanitation in cities and towns of the country has substantially improved during the last one year, confirming that the Swachh Bharat buzz is making a difference on ground with people clearly perceiving a change for the better.

Results of the Swachh Survekshan-2017 have confirmed that the efforts being made under Swachh Bharat Mission have made a positive impact on cleanliness situation in urban areas.

In the Survey commissioned by the Ministry of Urban Development during January - February this year, over 18 lakh citizens responded to a set of six questions giving their perception of sanitation situation in cities and towns. Besides, 421 assessors of Quality Council of India have physically inspected 17,500 locations in 434 cities and towns. 2,680 residential locations, 2,680 commercial locations and 2,582 commercial and public toilets were inspected in these cities and towns for on the spot third party assessment of ground level assessment of sanitation.

Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu who discussed the findings of the Survey with the ministry officials and the surveyors in detail tweeted today saying : n++Survey results are very encouraging. Revealed major improvement in cleanliness in last one year. Swachh Bharat buzz is reflecting on ground. Swachh Rankings of 434 cities and towns will be announced on Thursday this week. More than rankings, citizens perception and field reports are more exciting.n++

A total of over 37 lakh citizens responded with their feedback under the two month long Survey. After a careful verification of the responses and deletion of multiple responses, Quality Council of India that conducted the Survey have taken in to consideration over 18 lakh responses. The findings of the Swachh Survekshan-2017 are:

-Over 83% of respondents reported their areas much cleaner than last year;

-82% reported improvement in sanitation infrastructure and services like increased availability of litter bins and door-to-door collection of solid waste;

-80% respondents proclaimed much better access to community and public toilets;

-75% residential areas in 404 cities and towns found substantially clean;

-Railway Station surroundings entirely clean in 185 cities;

-75% of Community and Public Toilets found ventilated, well lit and had water supply;

-Door-to-Door collection of waste being done in 80% of wards in 297 cities and towns;

-Sweeping being done twice in 75% of notified commercial areas in 226 cities and towns;

-GPS and RFID based tracking of vehicles transporting solid waste is being done in 166 cities and towns;

-Sanitation staff vacancy reduced to less than 10% in 227 cities and towns; and

-ICT based monitoring of attendance is being done in 158 cities.

The Survey brought out the need for making the Community and Public Toilets more gender, child and differently abled friendly.

The Questionnaire used for citizen feedback had the following components:

1. Are you aware of Swachh Survekshan-2017 and would like to respond on sanitation in your city/town?

Options: Yes/No

2.Do you find your area cleaner than last year ?

Options: Yes, very clean; Better than last year; Status quo; Worse than last year

3. Has the availability of dust/litter bins in market places improved?

Options: Yes, very much; Slightly improved; Not much change; Worse than last year.

4. How is the door-to-door collection of solid waste from your house?

Options: Much better; Slightly better; No change; Worse than last year

5. Has the number of toilets/urinals increased ?

Options: Yes, very much; Slightly improved; Not much change; Not at all available

6. Has the maintenance of Community and Public Toilets improved?

Options: Yes, much better; Slightly better; Not much improvement; No change; Worse than last Year

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Uma Bharti launches Water Conservation Programme for Bundelkhand
May 02,2017

Union Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Minister Sushri Uma Bharti launched Bundelkhand water conservation programme at Bandri in Sagar District of MP. Speaking on the occasion the Minister said this programme will benefit drought prone areas of Bundelkhand region. She said that her Ministry has prepared a master plan for artificial recharge of ground water in Bundelkhand region. In UP region of Bundelkhand, around 1100 percolation tanks, 14000 small check dams/Nala bunds and 7200 Recharge pits/shafts have been identified. In MP region of Bundelkhand, around 2000 percolation tanks, 55000 small check dams/Nala bunds and 17000 Recharge shafts have been identified. The Minister said as a part of ground water exploration, 234 wells in UP are proposed to be constructed in five districts of Bundelkhand i.e., Banda, Hamirpur, Jalaun, Chitrakoot and Mahoba. Similarly 259 wells in MP are proposed to be constructed in the districts of Datia, Sagar, Damoh, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur and Panna in the Bundelkhand region of the State.

Sushri Bharti said her Ministry has taken up new initiatives under National Ground Water Management Improvement Schemes (NGMIS) with an objective to effectively improve ground water conditions in stressed blocks, ensure sustainability of resource both quantitatively and qualitatively, participatory approach in ground water management and institutional strengthening. In Bundelkhand region of UP, six districts covering an area of 11851 sq km have been considered under this initiative. In Bundelkhand region of MP, five districts covering an area of 8319 sq km have been considered under this initiative.

The Minister informed that Incentivization Scheme for Bridging Irrigation Gap (ISBIG) scheme is being prepared by the Ministry with an objective to complete CADWM works along with correction of system deficiencies in canal network for bridging the gap between Irrigation Potential Created (IPC) and Irrigation Potential Utilised (IPU), improving the water use efficiency in irrigation and providing assured supply of water to every farm field and transfer of control and management of irrigation system to the Water Users Associations (WUAs). In Bundelkhand region of UP, Betwa and Gursarai canal, Rajghat canal, Ken canal system, Gunta Nala dam and Upper Rajghat canal with target to bridge 17,1030 hact under this scheme is being proposed. The scheme will benefit Jhansi, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Lalitpur and Banda districts in Bundelkhand region. In Bundelkhand region of MP Rajghat Canal Project with target to bridge 68007 ha under this scheme is being proposed. The scheme will benefit Tikamgarh and Datia districts.

Sushri Bharti said in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh, aquifer mapping for 14,350 sq.km has already been completed in the districts of Lalitpur (5058), Jhansi (5077) and Hamirpur (4500). Similarly in Bundelkhand region of MP, aquifer mapping of 22104 sq. km covering the districts of Chhattarpur (7594), Sagar (9270) and Tikamgarh (4880) has been completed. This would be utilized in preparation of sustainable ground water management plan of these areas.

The Minister informed that under fast track implementation of water conservation schemes in Bundelkhand of region of MP 100 new water bodies with estimated cost of about Rs. 100 crores with tentative potential creation of 5000 ha would be taken up. Similarly, 60 new water bodies/bandis with estimated cost of about Rs. 70 crores with tentative potential creation/restoration of 2000 ha would be taken up in Bundelkhand region of UP.

Similar programme for Marathwada region of Maharashtra is also being launched. Seven schemes with target to bridge 53365 ha gap between IPC and IPU are being proposed. The scheme will benefit Aurangabad, Latur, Nanded, Prabhani, Nanded, Solapur and Osmanabad districts and involve an expenditure of Rs. 250 crore. An area of 3727 sq.km in Marathwada is proposed to be covered under National Ground Water Management Improvement Schemes involving an expenditure approximate of Rs. 380 crore. Aquifer mapping of 9101 sq. km. of area in Marathwada has been completed. Management Plan of 7775 sq. km has been submitted to Maharashtra government. Under Fast track implementation of water conservation schemes 50 new water bodies with estimated cost of about Rs. 60 crores with tentative potential creation of 5000 ha would be taken up.

Under Water conservation programme for Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput (KBK) region of Odisha, nine projects with target to cover 0.68 lakh ha of potential under the scheme to bridge the gap between PIC and IPU is being proposed. The scheme will benefit Malkangiri, Bolangir, Nuapada, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Bargarh districts of KBK region and will involve an expenditure of Rs.400 crore. 305 wells have been constructed in the region. 89 water bodies from KBK region with estimated cost of Rs. 32 crore and targeted revival of irrigation potential of 5739 ha have been included for providing central assistance under PMKSY. These water bodies are part of cluster of 760 WBs in Odisha in which central assistance of Rs. 107 crore has been released including those in KBK region. Out of the 99 ongoing major medium irrigation projects to be completed in phased manner by March, 2019 under AIBP, four projects namely Lower Indra (KBK), Upper Indravati (KBK), RET irrigation and Telengiri shall benefit KBK region. Ultimate irrigation potential of these schemes is 1.44 lakh ha. During 2016-17, an amount of Rs. 233 crore was released for these schemes under AIBP and CAD Schemes. Under Fast track implementation of water conservation schemes 75 new water bodies with estimated cost of about Rs. 50 crores with tentative potential creation of 2500 ha would be taken up.

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Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs two Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers
May 02,2017

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into two Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers, strengthening the Governments commitment to foster a non-adversarial tax regime. Both the agreements also have a n++Rollbackn++ provision in them.

The 2 APAs signed yesterday pertain to Information Technology and Banking & Finance sectors of the economy. The international transactions covered in these agreements include Software Development services, IT enabled services and KPO services.

With these, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 154, which includes 11 bilateral APAs and 143 unilateral APAs. The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed in the near future. The approach and functioning of the officers in the APA teams have been appreciated and acknowledged by the industry in India and abroad.

The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the Rollback provisions were introduced in 2014. The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the arms length price of international transactions in advance for the maximum of five future years. Further, the taxpayer has the option to rollback the APA for four preceding years. Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest among Multi National Enterprises (MNEs) and that has resulted in more than 800 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) having been filed in just five years.

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All Petrol Stations in Uttar Pradesh to be re- assessed by a Team of State STF, W&M Department, Civil Supplies Department and OMCs
May 02,2017

Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, congratulated the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force for unearthing the racket involved in short delivery of fuel at petrol stations in Lucknow. These raids were carried at 11 petrol pumps out on specific information regarding tampering with fuel calibration by use of electronic chips. Of these, electronic chips were found at 9 fuel stations, 3 of which belong to IOCL and the other 6 belong to BPCL.

The Minister said that he held talks with the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Chief Secretary and DGP of Uttar Pradesh on this issue. The Central and State Governments have decided to hold a meeting in Lucknow in light of the raids, which would be chaired by the Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh and will be attended by representatives of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Oil Marketing Companies.

The Minister said that all fuel stations in Uttar Pradesh will be re-assessed by a team comprising of representatives from State Governments Weight and Measures Department, Civil Supplies Department, Special Task Force and the Oil Marketing Company. At the same time, random surprise checks will be conducted all across the country at fuel stations. The instructions to this effect have been given to all concerned. Shri Pradhan said that the Central Government hopes for full cooperation from the States as Weights and Measures is a State subject and the annual supervision cum certification of fuel delivery units at fuel stations is carried out by the Weights and Measures Departments of the concerned State.

Shri Pradhan said consumer interest is paramount and that strict action will be taken against those found guilty of tampering with fuel calibration. He said that those dealers violating the Marketing Discipline Guidelines (MDG) will also face strict action mounting to even termination of licences.

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