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7.4% growth in Foreign Tourist arrivals in July 2017 over July 2016
Aug 16,2017

The following are the important highlights regarding Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) & also FTAs on e-Tourist Visa from tourism during the month of July, 2017.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs):

n++ The number of FTAs in July, 2017 were 7.88 lakh as compared to FTAs of 7.34 lakh in July, 2016 and 6.28 lakh in July, 2015.

n++ The growth rate in FTAs in July, 2017 over July, 2016 is 7.4% compared to 16.8% in July, 2016 over July, 2015.

n++ FTAs during the period January- July 2017 were 56.74 lakh with a growth of 15.7%, as compared to the FTAs of 49.03 lakh with a growth of 9.6% in January- July 2016 over January- July 2015.

n++ The percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during July 2017 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (20.12%) followed by USA (16.26%), UK (10.88%), France (3.01%), Malaysia (2.81%), Canada (2.66%), Sri Lanka (2.56%), China (2.32%), Oman (2.27%), Germany (2.21%), Australia (2.17%), Japan (2.10%), Nepal (1.84%), UAE (1.82%) and Singapore (1.69%).

n++ The percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during July 2017 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (25.95%) followed by Mumbai Airport (16.63%), Haridaspur Land Check Post (10.92%), Chennai Airport (9.09%), Bengaluru Airport (6.78%), Cochin Airport (5.39%), Hyderabad Airport (5.07%),Kolkata Airport (4.23%),Gede Rail Land Check Post (2.78%), Trivandrum Airport (1.81%), Ahmedabad Airport (1.72%), Ghojadanga Land Check Post (1.54%), Tiruchirapalli Airport (1.37%), Amritsar Airport (0.97%) and Calicut Airport (0.73%).

Foreign Tourist Arrivals on e-Tourist Visa:

n++ During the month of July, 2017 total of 1.19 lakh tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 0.68 lakh during the month of July 2016 registering a growth of 73.3%.

n++ During January-July 2017, a total of 8.36 lakh tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 5.40 lakh during January-July 2016, registering a growth of 54.7%.

n++ The percentage shares of top 15 source countries availing e- Tourist Visa facilities during July, 2017 were as follows:

UK (12.9%), USA (12.0%), UAE (7.2%), France (6.4%), Oman (6.1%), China (5.4%), Spain (4.3%), Korea (Rep.of) (3.9%), Germany (3.1%), Australia (3.1%), Canada (3.1%), Italy (2.4%), Singapore (2.3%), Netherlands (2.2%) and Thailand (1.8%).

n++ The percentage shares of top 15 ports in tourist arrivals on e-Tourist Visa during July, 2017 were as follows:

New Delhi Airport (41.0%), Mumbai Airport (20.6%), Chennai Airport (9.5%), Bengaluru Airport (7.8%), Kochi Airport (6.6%), Hyderabad Airport (5.1%), Kolkata Airport (2.2%), Ahmadabad Airport (1.4%), Trivandrum Airport (1.4%), Calicut Airport (1.2%), Amritsar Airport (1.1%), Tirchy Airport (0.8%), Dabolim (Goa) Airport (0.4%), Jaipur Airport (0.3%) and Pune Airport(0.3%).

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Cabinet approves completion of balance works of North Koel Reservoir Project
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the proposal to complete the balance works of the North Koel Reservoir Project in Jharkhand and Bihar at an estimated expenditure of Rs.1622.27 crore to be incurred during three financial years from the start of the project.

The Cabinet also approved storage of water in dam restricted at lower level than envisaged earlier to reduce the submergence and to protect Betla National Park and Palamau Tiger Reserve.

The project is situated on North Koel river which is a tributary of Sone river finally joining the river Ganga. The North Koel Reservoir is located in the most backward tribal areas in Palamau and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand State. The construction was originally started in the year 1972 and continued till 1993 when it was stopped by the Forest Department, Govt. of Bihar. Since then, the work on dam is at a standstill. The major components of project are: 67.86 m high and 343.33 m long concrete dam called Mandal dam originally intended to store 1160 million cubic metre (MCM) water; 819.6 m long barrage at Mohammadganj, 96 km downstream of the dam; and two canals originating from left and right banks of Mohammadganj Barrage with distributaries system for irrigation. With the new lowered elevation level (EL) of 341 metre, the Mandal dam will now have storage of 190 MCM. The project aims to provide irrigation to 111,521 hectares of land annually in the most backward and drought prone areas of Palamu & Garhwa districts in Jharkhand and Aurangabad & Gaya districts in Bihar. The unfinished project as on date is providing irrigation to 71,720 hectares and completion of this project will provide additional irrigation benefit to the extent of 39,801 hectares. The irrigation potential through this Project in the two States would be as follows:

Total irrigation potential: 1,11, 521 hectares

Irrigation potential in Bihar: 91,917 hectares

Irrigation potential in Jharkhand: 19,604 hectares

The total cost of the project as assessed on date is Rs 2391.36 crore. An expenditure amounting to Rs. 769.09 crore has been incurred on the project till date. The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for completing the balance of the North-Koel reservoir project in Jharkhand & Bihar at an estimated cost of Rs 1622.27 crore during three financial years.

The common components amounting to Rs.1013.11 crore of balance works would be funded by the Central Government as a grant from PMKSY Fund. This would include cost of Net Present Value (NPV) and Compensatory Afforestation (CA) which comes to Rs.607 crore and Rs.43 crore respectively. The Central Government will also fund 60% of the cost of balance works amounting to Rs.365.5 crore (Bihar Rs.318.64 crore and Jharkhand Rs.46.86 crore) from Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) under PMKSY as grant from the States of Bihar and Jharkhand. The States of Bihar and Jharkhand will arrange 40% of remaining cost of balance works amounting to Rs.243.66 crore (Bihar 212.43 crore and Jharkhand 31.23 crore) as loan from LTIF through NABARD at the rate which is not subsidised and is related to market borrowing cost with no interest subvention.

The Cabinet also approved execution of balance works of the project on turnkey basis by M/S WAPCOS Ltd., a CPSU under MoWR, RD & GR as Project Management Consultant (PMC). The execution of the project will be monitored by an Empowered Committee of Government of India headed by CEO NITI Aayog.

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Cabinet approves raising Extra Budgetary Resources upto Rs. 9020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund during the year 2017-18
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for raising Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) of upto Rs. 9020 crore as per the requirement during 2017-18 by NABARD through issuance of Bonds for ensuring lending rate of 6% per annum (pa) in respect of borrowings for implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) works of 99 ongoing prioritized irrigation projects along with their command area development (CAD) works under PMKSY.

A large number of major and medium irrigation projects taken up under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) were languishing mainly due to inadequate provision of funds. During 2016-17, 99 ongoing projects under PMKSY- AIBP were identified for completion in phases by December-2019. To cater to the large fund requirement and ensure completion of these projects, the Union Finance Minister, during his Budget speech 2016-17, announced creation of dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) in NABARD with an initial corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore for funding of Central and State share for the identified ongoing projects under PMKSY (AIBP and CAD).

To make the loan from NABARD attractive for states, it was decided that the rate of interest may be kept around 6% by providing requisite cost free funds to NABARD every year during 2016-17 to 2019-20 on which interest cost would be borne by Govt. of India.

During the year 2016-17, NABARD disbursed aggregate amount of Rs. 9086.02 crore under LTIF, out of which Rs. 2414.16 crore was released for Polavaram project (without EBR component) and balance Rs. 6671.86 crore was released to identified projects using EBR. Further, an amount of Rs. 924.9 crore was disbursed as Central Assistance (CA) through budgetary provision. During 2016-17, overall an amount of Rs 2187 crore was raised by NABARD in the form of Government of India fully serviced bond as EBR.

During 2017-18, it is estimated that an amount of Rs 29,000 Crore may be required through LTIF, for which EBR of Rs 9020 cr would be required.

As per the status reported by the states and Central Water Commission during various review meeting, 18 projects have been completed/almost completed. Irrigation potential utilization is expected to be more than 14 lakh hectares during 2016-17 from all the 99 projects. During 2017-18, 33 more projects are likely to be completed. The completion of the identified irrigation projects will generate immediate wage and other employment opportunities in good measure during the construction phase. More importantly, on completion of the projects, the utilization of irrigation potential of about 76 lakh hectares will transform the agriculture scenario of the region resulting in generation of substantially more employment opportunities through increase in cropping intensity, change in cropping pattern, agro processing and other ancillary activities.

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Cabinet approves creation of 7 posts of Principal Director and 36 posts of Director on regular basis in the Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for 7 posts of Principal Director and 36 posts of Director on regular basis in the Armed Forces Headquarters (AFHQ) Civil Service, Ministry of Defence as part of restructuring .

Creation of regular posts in the AFHQ Civil Service will alleviate stagnation the cadre. It will be in the interest of better cadre management and bring improvement in the efficiency of the service. This would be an innovative measure entailing no additional cost but would bring benefits from the perspective of cadre management and enable its better utilisation.

Creation of regular posts in the place of n++in situn++ promotions will ensure more transparency in cadre management. Assigning of higher responsibilities on regular posts will result in greater productivity and accountability with respect to AFHQ CS officers.

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Cabinet approves procedure and mechanism for Strategic Disinvestment
Aug 16,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal of Department of Investment and public Asset Management (DIPAM) for the strategic disinvestment of the following:

(i) For setting up an Alternative Mechanism (AM) consisting of the Finance Minister, Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Minister of Administrative Department, to decide on the matters relating to terms and conditions of the sale from the stage of inviting of Express of Interests (Eols) till inviting of financial bid; and

(ii) For empowering the Core Group of Secretaries (CGD) to take policy decisions with regard to procedural issues and to consider deviations as necessary from time to time for effective implementation of decisions of CCEA.

The approval will help in speedy completion of strategic disinvestment transactions.

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Union Cabinet approves new Metro Rail Policy; Focus on compact urban development, cost reduction and multi-modal integration
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved a new Metro Rail Policy that seeks to enable realization of growing metro rail aspirations of a large number of cities but in a responsible manner.

The policy opens a big window for private investments across a range of metro operations making PPP component mandatory for availing central assistance for new metro projects. Private investment and other innovative forms of financing of metro projects have been made compulsory to meet the huge resource demand for capital intensive high capacity metro projects.

n++Private participation either for complete provision of metro rail or for some unbundled components (like Automatic Fare Collection, Operation & Maintenance of services etc) will form an essential requirement for all metro ra il projects seeking central financial assistancen++ says the policy, to capitalize on private resources, expertise and entrepreneurship.

In view of inadequate availability and even absence of last mile connectivity at present, the new policy seeks to ensure it focusing on a catchment area of five kms. on either side of metro stations requiring States to commit in project reports to provide necessary last mile connectivity through feeder services, Non-Motorised Transport infrastructure like walking and cycling pathways and introduction of para-transport facilities. States, proposing new metro projects will be required to indicate in project report the proposals and investments that would be made for such services.

Seeking to ensure that least cost mass transit mode is selected for public transport, the new policy mandates Alternate Analysis, requiring evaluation of other modes of mass transit like BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System), Light Rail Transit, Tramways, Metro Rail and Regional Rail in terms of demand, capacity, cost and ease of implementation. Setting up of Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) has been made mandatory which is to prepare Comprehensive Mobility Plans for cities for ensuring complete multi-modal integration for optimal utilization of capacities.

The new Metro Rail Policy provides for rigorous assessment of new metro proposals and proposes an independent third party assessment by agencies to be identified by the Government like the Institute of Urban Transport and other such Centres of Excellence whose capacities would be augmented, as required in this regard.

Taking note of substantial social, economic and environmental gains of metro projects, the Policy stipulated a shift from the present Financial Internal Rate of Return of 8% to Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14% for approving metro projects, in line with global practices.

Noting that urban mass transit projects should not merely be seen as urban transport projects but more as urban transformation projects, the new policy mandates Transit Oriented Development (TOD) to promote compact and dense urban development along metro corridors since TOD reduces travel distances besides enabling efficient land use in urban areas. Under the policy, States need to adopt innovative mechanisms like Value Capture Financing tools to mobilize resources for financing metro projects by capturing a share of increase in the asset values through Betterment Levy. States would also be required to enable low cost debt capital through issuance of corporate bonds for metro projects.

Seeking to ensure financial viability of metro projects, the new Metro Rail Policy requires the States to clearly indicate in the project report the measures to be taken for commercial/property development at stations and on other urban land and for other means of maximum non-fare revenue generation through advertisements, lease of space etc., backed by statutory support. States are also required to commit to accord all required permissions and approvals.

The new policy empowers States to make rules and regulations and set up permanent Fare Fixation Authority for timely revision of fares. States can take up metro projects exercising any of the three options for availing central assistance. These include; PPP with central assistance under the Viability Gap Funding scheme of the Ministry of Finance, Grant by Government of India under which 10% of the project cost will be given as lump sum central assistance and 50:50 Equity sharing model between central and state governments. Under all these options, private participation, however, is mandatory.

The policy envisages private sector participation in O & M of metro services in different ways. These include:

1.Cost plus fee contract: Private operator is paid a monthly/annual payment for O&M of system. This can have a fixed and variable component depending on the quality of service. Operational and revenue risk is borne by the owner.

2. Gross Cost Contract: Private operator is paid a fixed sum for the duration of the contract. Operator to bear the O&M risk while the owner bears the revenue risk.

3. Net Cost Contract: Operator collects the complete revenue generated for the services provided. If revenue generation is below the O&M cost, the owner may agree to compensate.

At present, metro projects with a total length of 370 kms are operational in 8 cities viz., Delhi (217 kms), Bengaluru (42.30 kms), Kolkata (27.39 kms), Chennai (27.36 kms), Kochi (13.30 kms), Mumbai (Metro Line 1-11.40 km, Mono Rail Phase 1-9.0 km), Jaipur-9.00 kms and Gurugram (Rapid Metro-1.60 km).

Metro Projects with a total length of 537 kms are in progress in 13 cities including the eight mentioned above. New cities acquiring metro services are; Hyderabad (71 kms), Nagpur (38 kms), Ahmedabad (36 kms), Pune (31.25 kms) and Lucknow (23 kms).

Metro projects with a total length of 595 kms in 13 cities including 10 new cities are at various stages of planning and appraisal. These are; Delhi Metro Phase IV- 103.93 km, Delhi & NCR-21.10 km, Vijayawada-26.03 km, Visakhapatnam-42.55 km, Bhopal-27.87 km, Indore-31.55 km, Kochi Metro Phase II-11.20 km, Greater Chandigarh Region Metro Project-37.56 km, Patna-27.88 km, Guwahati-61 km, Varanasi-29.24 km, Thiruvananthapuram & Kozhikode (Light Rail Transport)-35.12 km and Chennai Phase II-107.50 km.

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Ind-Ra: Low Tariffs Face Uncertainty; Capex Pressure and Robust Capacity Additions to Continue in Solar Power Sector
Aug 16,2017

Low solar bids, while causing disruption in the power sector, have little financial buffers to face challenges such as cost overrun, increased interest rate and counterparty delays, according to India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). An analysis, where specific project features have been assumed by Ind-Ra, shows that a tariff of INR2.44/kWh could have an equity internal rate of return of 10%.

Falling panel prices and increased competition have contributed to aggressive bids. In addition, an increase in panel conversion efficiency has contributed to a reduction in land required for panels and a fall in the balance of system cost. Falling panel prices have encouraged developers to have a high DC/AC capacity ratio to optimise supply.

Risk allocation in tenders has taken centre stage in bids. Tenders floated consciously address payment security and grid curtailment to attract low bids. The Rewa bid started this trend. Solar Energy Corporation of India and NTPC Limited (IND AAA/Stable) have witnessed low bids from developers, because of the comfort derived from their credit profiles.

Utility scale solar capacity additions are likely to be in line with the Ministry of Power targets. The pace of solar capacity auctions, along with an emphasis on compliance with renewable purchase obligations, is critical. On the other hand, rooftop solar capacity installation is lagging behind ground-mounted installation owing to no concerted efforts to achieve targets.

Payments days across counterparties, except Tamil Nadus distribution utility, have been observed at less than 90 days. Adverse financial conditions can derail renewable projects. Also, the grid curtailment risk, albeit likely to be temporary in nature, is a concern as renewable penetration increases. Against the backdrop of distribution utilities trying to reduce power purchase costs, the emerging threat of renegotiation and termination of power purchase agreements can derail developments in the sector.

Developers seem to be favouring USD bonds for financing because of ease of placing large issuances. Rupee bonds for renewable projects have taken a backseat owing investor perception of fast-changing dynamics and doubts about long-term sustainability.

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Gartner Says Worldwide Information Security Spending Will Grow 7 Percent to Reach $86.4 Billion in 2017
Aug 16,2017

Worldwide spending on information security products and services will reach $86.4 billion in 2017, an increase of 7 percent over 2016, with spending expected to grow to $93 billion in 2018, according to the latest forecast from Gartner, Inc.

Within the infrastructure protection segment, Gartner forecasts fast growth in the security testing market (albeit from a small base) due to continued data breaches and growing demands for application security testing as part of DevOps. Spending on emerging application security testing tools, particularly interactive application security testing (IAST), will contribute to the growth of this segment through 2021.

Security services will continue to be the fastest growing segment, especially IT outsourcing, consulting and implementation services. However, hardware support services will see growth slowing, due to the adoption of virtual appliances, public cloud and software as a service (SaaS) editions of security solutions, which reduces the need for attached hardware support overall.

Rising awareness among CEOs and boards of directors about the business impact of security incidents and an evolving regulatory landscape have led to continued spending on security products and services, said Sid Deshpande, principal research analyst at Gartner.

However, improving security is not just about spending on new technologies. As seen in the recent spate of global security incidents, doing the basics right has never been more important. Organizations can improve their security posture significantly just by addressing basic security and risk related hygiene elements like threat centric vulnerability management, centralized log management, internal network segmentation, backups and system hardening, said Mr. Deshpande.

Other assumptions behind Gartners latest information security market forecast include:

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has created renewed interest, and will drive 65 percent of data loss prevention buying decisions today through 2018.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has caused an overall panic and unease among organizations in Europe, but will also have a global effect since multinationals will also need to adhere to the new law. While organizations are working toward strengthening their knowledge of the regulation, those with some form of data loss prevention (DLP) already implemented are determining what additional capabilities they need to invest in (specifically, integrated DLP such as data classification, data masking and data discovery). In addition, organizations that do not already have strong DLP in place are looking to increase their capabilities.

By 2020, 40 percent of all managed security service (MSS) contracts will be bundled with other security services and broader IT outsourcing (ITO) projects, up from 20 percent today.

To deal with the complexity of designing, building and operating a mature security program in a short space of time, many large organizations are looking to security consulting and ITO providers that offer customizable delivery components that are sold with the MSS. As ITO providers and security consulting firms improve the maturity of the MSS they offer, customers will have a much broader range of bundling and service packaging options through which to consume MSS offerings. The large contract sizes associated with ITO and security outsourcing deals will drive significant growth for the MSS market through 2020.

By 2021, more than 80 percent of large businesses in China will deploy network security equipment from a local vendor.

Chinas recently approved cybersecurity law will contribute to further displacement of U.S.-manufactured network security products with local Chinese vendors. Despite an increase of 24 percent in 2016, Gartner expects end-user spending growth in Asia/Pacific to return to single-digit yearly growth from 2018 onward, as a result of a decline in average selling prices (ASPs), due to the more competitive pricing of Chinese solutions.

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States participating in UDAY take over targeted debt of Rs. 2.09 lakh crores of their DISCOMs
Aug 16,2017

Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) was launched in November, 2015 and has completed more than one year of operation. Participating States of UDAY have taken over the targeted debt of Rs. 2.09 lakh crores of their DISCOMs under borrowing exemption from the FRBM Act given in UDAY for the years 2015-16 and 2016-17.

The process of States taking over the targeted debts and issuing them as SDL Bonds has now been completed. As of now, the participating DISCOMs have to issue Bonds worth approximately Rs. 37,000 crores, which would be done in due course. Rest of the debt with DISCOMs is mostly in the nature of CAPEX debt, which pays for itself, or Scheme based debt, which converts into grants fully or partially. Thus, they are not required to be taken over by the States.

As a result of the debt addressed as above, and other operational interventions, the participating DISCOMs have achieved net savings of approximately Rs. 15,000 Crores till March, 2017. Further, in the participating States, the Average Cost of Supply (ACS) - Average Revenue Realized (ARR) gaps have come down by almost 14 paise per Unit and the AT&C losses have reduced by almost 1% in FY 17.

As per the provisions of UDAY Scheme, the States would start taking over losses of DISCOMs in a graded manner from now on, starting with taking over 5% of the losses of FY17 from the current financial year. Continued, concerted and coordinated efforts by the Centre, States and DISCOMs, in the spirit of cooperative and competitive federalism, would help turn around the Distribution Sector by FY19.

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Tech solutions in place; mind set of staff manning customer services need massive change: ASSOCHAM
Aug 16,2017

Be it a post office, not in some remote area but in big cities of Mumbai and Delhi, or a public sector bank, state-owned MTNL, BSNL or several other government owned and run organisations, the ease of doing business, especially for a small entrepreneur is missing despite a well-meaning digital drive of the government, an ASSOCHAM paper has noted with concern.

n++Experience of hundreds of small entrepreneurs trying to open a current account with a public sector bank throws a discouraging picture. For opening a current account even for a service -oriented activity of say, accounting, content -writing or giving advisory like cookery, the branch manager in several banks would still insist on registration with some state government department, even when the person does not want any incentive, favour, or even loan from any lending institution. There are bizarre cases where the branch manager would tell the person seeking current account to get a registration from the directorate of industries, when there is no intention to open any industry,n++ the paper found sharing experience of hundreds of budding entrepreneurs.

It said, the concept of n++Start-Upsn++ should not confine itself to the IIT or IIM pass outs with venture capitalists funding the ventures and making headlines in the media.

n++There are lakhs and lakhs of literate and semi-literate individuals wanting to get into the financial system, but are denied the entryn++. Despite so much stress on the financial inclusion programme of the government, opening a current account in a public sector bank is a nightmare for those who are beginners in the business. Despite all the core banking and digital solutions, the voluminous paper work remains intact.

The experience of dealing with transport authorities in different states by those seeking commercial driving licences for starting up an Uber or Ola service is equally bitter while the official cost itself is on the higher side. The skill development needs support and a friendly hand holding.

The scenario is similar in institutions like post offices. The post offices in most of the metro cities have implemented the core banking solution which enables faster and efficient service tools. But the mindset of the staff posted in these post offices remains that of a file pusher. n++ For every other transaction, they want a photo copy of some ID, even though the KYC formalities have been done; now this is no ease of doing business. n++

The ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said, the well-intentioned programme of the government can trickle down only when the staff manning the counters and their immediate supervisors are given new kind of orientation. n++For a RuPay card PIN, the post office staff would tell you to come after 10 days, 15 days and offer no online help,n++. In some of the private sector banks, the PIN can be generated automatically within minutes.

The MTNL/BSNL experience is equally bad with the consumers. n++Want to get any changes done in the plan or say from post paid to pre-paid or address change. For each of the procedures, they would insist on separate verification on a toll free number where , the staff picking up the phone is difficult to get. For each of these activities, the staff at the Sanchar Haat would insist on a separate set of Aadhar Card /PAN cardn++, with no inhouse facility for the customers. Fortunately, there are more than adequate number of alternatives available, resulting in a loss of market for the state-owned telecom operators.

The ASSOCHAM feeback at the ground level suggests that both the Centre and the states are investing heavily into technology build up; but the staff needs to be given a fresh approach.

n++Ideally, youngsters with a strong technology bent of mind should be hired and deployed in the public interface desks while the older staff finding it hard to get adapted to technology solutions can be shuffled within or outside different departments.

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85 lakh milk producing animals identified and their data uploaded on INAPH data base
Aug 16,2017

Pashu Sanjivni component under National Mission on Bovine Productivity scheme was initiated by the Government in November 2016. 88 million milk producing animals out of 300 million cattle and buffaloes are being identified using polyurethane tags with 12 digit unique identification (UID) number. Data of the identified animals is being uploaded on Information Network on Animal Health and Productivity (INAPH) data base. As on date 85 lakh milk producing animals have been identified and their data has been uploaded on INAPH data base.

The Pashu Sanjivni is crucial for control and spread of animal diseases, scientific management of animals, enhanced production and productivity, improvement in quality of livestock & livestock products, increase in trade of livestock and livestock products by meeting out sanitary and phtyosanitory issues.

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CPI inflation rises to 2.36% in July 2017
Aug 14,2017

The all-India general CPI inflation rebounded 2.36% in July 2017 (new base 2012=100), compared with 1.46% in June 2017. The corresponding provisional inflation rate for rural area was 2.41% and urban area 2.17% in July 2017 as against 1.52% and 1.41% in June 2017. The core CPI inflation was nearly flat at 3.81% in July 2017 compared with 3.75% in June 2017. The cumulative CPI inflation was lower at 2.20% in April-July FY2018 compared with 5.67% in April-July FY2017.

Among the CPI components, inflation of food and beverages rebounded to 0.43% in July 2017 from (-) 1.17% in June 2017 mainly contributing to the increase in CPI inflation. Within the food items, the inflation increased for vegetables to (-) 3.57%, fruits 2.83%, prepared meals, snacks, sweets etc 5.04% and non-alcoholic beverages 2.80%. However, the inflation dipped for pulses and products (-) 24.75%, cereals and products to 3.97%, oils and fats 1.55%, spices (-) 1.67% and milk and products 3.82%. The inflation also declined for meat and fish to 3.19%, egg (-) 2.04% and sugar and confectionery 8.27% in July 2017.

The inflation for housing increased to 4.98%, while that for miscellaneous items was flat at 3.28% in July 2017. Within the miscellaneous items, the inflation for personal care and effects eased to 2.57%, transport and communication 1.76%, recreation and amusement 3.43%, while it rose for household goods and services to 3.94% and health 4.02% in July 2017.

The inflation for clothing and footwear was steady at 4.22% in July 2017, while the CPI inflation of fuel and light increased to 4.86% in July 2017.

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Import of Vegetable Oils July 2017 - Up by 34%
Aug 14,2017

As per the data complied by Solvent Extractors Association of India import of vegetable oils during July 2017 is reported at 1,524,724 tons compared to 1,140,685 tons in July 2016 i.e. up by 34%, consisting of 1,489,137 tons of edible oils and 35,587 tons of non-edible oils. The overall import of vegetable oils during first nine months of current oil year 2016-17, Nov.16 to July 17 is reported at 11,388,296 tons compared to 10,903,728 tons last year i.e. up by 4%.

Current Situation : Currently, Soybean, Rapeseed & Groundnut being sold below MSP and prices have dropped between 20% to 30% below last year level. The current prices is the lowest in the last five years and farmers are totally discouraged to sow the oilseeds and reflected in switching over from oilseeds cultivation to other crops. The area under oilseeds reduced by over 17.0 lakh hectre in current kharif season and reported at 154.29 lakh hectre against 171.15 lakh hectre last year. With a view to ensure farmers do not loose interest in oilseeds cultivation and receive remunerative price for his produce during harvesting, Indian Government raised the import duty on Crude Palm Oil to 15% from 7.5%, Degummed Soybean Oil to 17.5% from 12.5% and RBD Palmolein to 25% from 15% w.e.f. 11th August, 2017.

Stock Position at Port & in Pipeline :- The stock of edible oils as on 1st August, 2017 at various ports is estimated at 883,000 tons (CPO 270,000 tons, RBD Palmolein 140,000 tons, Degummed Soybean Oil 300,000 tons, Crude Sunflower Oil 170,000 tons and 3,000 tons of Rapeseed (Canola) Oil) and about 1,590,000 tons in pipelines. Total stock at ports and in pipelines increased to 2,473,000 tons from 2,278,000 tons in July, 2017. Indias monthly requirement is about 17.50 lakh tons and operate at 30 days stock against which currently holding stock over 24.73 lakh tons equal to 42 days requirements.

Import of Refined & Crude Oil Ratio:- During Nov.16 - July 17, Import of refined oil (RBD Palmolein) has sharply increased to 2,197,455 tons from 1,984,069 tons in the same period of last year, Also Import of crude oil increased to 8,903,640 tons from 8,803,813 tons during the same period of last year.

Import of Palm & Soft Oil Ratio:- During Nov.16 - July 17, Palm Oil import has increased to 6,741,678 tons from 6,175,524 tons during the same period of last year, overall share of palm oil products increased to 61% from 57%, thanks to larger import of RBD Palmolein. Soft Oils import reduced to 4,359,417 tons from 4,612,358 tons last year, however, within soft oils, import of sunflower oil has sharply increased at the cost of soybean oil.

Average Prices and Rupee depreciation :- Since April16 and onwards landed price of RBD Palmolein has remained same or lower than CPO, encouraging larger import of RBD Palmolein at the cost of CPO. The spread between palm oil and soft oil reduced encouraging larger import of soft oils. Importers continues to make larger import purchases of Sunflower oil, taking advantage of attractive price vis-n++-vis Soya oil. Also, strengthening of rupee in the last 6 months supported the import of vegetable oils.

Import of Non-edible Oils - Sharp rise in RBD Palm Stearin :- Import of Non-edible oils during Nov..16 - July 17 is reported at 287,201 tons compared to 115,846 tons during the same period last year. P.F.A.D., P.K.F.A.D., C.P.S. & RBD Palm Stearin are the major import of non-edible oils.

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Launch of GeMSamvad: The GeM -Industry forum
Aug 14,2017

An MoU was signed today between Government eMarketplace (GeM) SPV and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Smt S Radha Chauhan, CEO GeM and Sh Chandrajit Banerjee, DG, CII singed the MoU on behalf of GeM SPV and CII respectively.

This MoU between GeM and CII is aimed at establishing GeM Samvaad- a participative and collaborative approach with the industry for promoting Indian industry and entrepreneurship. As part of this initiative GeM & the Indian industry shall work together to:

n++ Create GeM related awareness and onboard industry members from across the country.

n++ Create a GeM-Industry Forum for collaboration with the Indian Industry for, seeking inputs on the technical specifications of products and SLAs of services to be procured by the Government agencies, improving the quality of products/services procured especially from the MSMEs, organize annual Public Procurement Convention of all stakeholders and set up GeM Resource Centres at CII Regional Offices

The Honble Minister congratulated GeM and CII for having taken this path-breaking initiative, that will go a long way in promoting the Indian industry and entrepreneurs from across the country.

MoUs on similar lines shall also be signed in the future with other Industry associations.

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ECGC pays dividend of Rs. 72.50 Cr.
Aug 14,2017

Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman acknowledged on behalf of Government of India a dividend of Rs. 72.50 Cr from ECGC Limited for the year 2016-17. ECGC has a made a profit before tax of Rs. 407 Cr after settling claims to exporter and banks for Rs. 865 Cr. Gross premium income declined by 4% despite the introduction of average discount of 17% to exporters with effect from April 2017. The net worth of the company rose to Rs. 3619 Cr and the investment amount were Rs. 8025 Cr.

ECGC offers 20 products and services 12,000 covers to exporters and offers 11 products to Banks covering 23,600 accounts. The total risk value underwritten by ECGC during the year was Rs. 2,65,000 Cr. which is around 15% of total merchandise exports in 2016-17. It is noteworthy to observe that the customer base of ECGC consists of 85% of MSMEs. ECGC also has a database of around 4,00,000 overseas buyers of which 1,20,000 buyers are active with overall limit of Rs. 1,25,000 Cr.

The Minister observed that ECGC, the Export Credit Agency (ECA) has been ground breaker in the field of export credit insurance in India and in its diamond jubilee year, the role of the institution has become more relevant in the times of heightened volatility and instability with global risks hampering severely the international trade and financial system. ECGCs coverage to Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals exports and Agricultural commodities increased by 15% while the actual exports grew by around 4% to 5%. In support of the diversification of exports destinations by way of Focus schemes, it is observed that ECGCs cover to Africa grew by 15% even though the exports did not reflect a similar trend. Thus, it may be inferred that exporters do shy away from risky markets and with the support of ECGC could expand their business in the very same market.

ECGC has been a pioneer in providing cover to banks who lend to exporters. This ensures that export opportunities are not lost for want of adequate and timely finance. This systemic role of ECGC over 60 years was followed by ECAs in other countries including the West, post financial meltdown in 2007/08. This portfolio was responsible for ECGC bagging the Excellence Award 2017 as BEST ECA (Export Credit Agency) amongst 15 nominations from various countries and finally out of a shortlist consisting of also Euler Hermes, Germany and UKEF, UK. Trade & Forfaiting Review (TFR) mentioned that ECGC also headed the popular vote in the hotly contested category of ECAs in the award initiative which has been in vogue for last two decades.

As regards, Medium and long Term export sector, ECGC manages the National Export Insurance Account (NEIA) trust of GOI, which provides insurance support to overseas projects and other contracts. In all 76 contracts with a value of Rs. 35000 Cr was being executed in 29 countries under this scheme during last year.

ECGC also contributes in the international stage as a member of management committee of Berne Union, an association of over 70 ECAs from various countries. ECGC represents India in the BRICS ECAs forum and in the G-12 meetings. Discussions in the International Working Group (IWG) forum are also supported by the relevant inputs from ECGC, gained from other international fora on export credit, insurance and guarantee.

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