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Cabinet approves of proposal to establish a Fund of Fund for Start-ups (FFS)
Mar 23,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the following proposals with regard to the Fund of Funds of Start-ups (FFS) which was established in June, last year with a corpus of Rs 1000 crore.

i. Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) supported by FFS shall invest at least twice the amount of contribution received from FFS in Start-ups qualifying as per the Gazette Notification G.S.R.180 (E) dt. 17/02/2016. Further, if the amount committed for a Start-up in whole has not been released before a Start-up ceases to be so, the balance funding can continue thereafter.

ii. It was also decided that operating expenses for carrying out due diligence, legal and technical appraisal, convening meeting of Venture Capital Investment Committee, etc. would be met out of the FFS to the extent of 0.50% of the commitments made to AIFs and outstanding. This will be debited to the fund at the beginning of each half year; i.e. April 1 and October 1.

The Union Cabinet in its meeting held on 22/06/2016 had approved the proposal to establish a Fund of Funds for Start-ups (FFS) with a total corpus of Rs 10000 crore, with contribution spread over the 14th & 15th Finance Commission cycles based on progress of implementation and availability of funds. It was decided that the FFS shall contribute to the corpus of Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) for investing in equity and equity linked instruments of various start-ups at early stage, seed stage and growth stages.

The FFS is being managed and operated by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). FFS contributes to SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) that may go up to a maximum of 35% of the corpus of the AIF concerned.

The Cabinet on 22.06.2016 had decided that the corpus of Fund of Funds along with counterpart funds raised by the AIFs in which FFS takes equity would be invested entirely in Start-ups. It has been pointed out to the Department during its interactions with various stakeholders that investors in the AIFs would prefer that the portfolio of AIFs is adequately diversified to manage the investment risks appropriately and if the entire pool of funds of the AIF is invested in Start-ups, it poses unacceptable risks to the investors of such AIFs.

The other issues raised by stakeholders were that the process of funding of Start-ups by AIFs is long drawn which starts from pitching by a Start-up, commitment by the AIF and then release of funds in tranches. Thus it is possible that before release of the final instalment the turnover of the Start-up crosses Rs 25 crore but it still needs funds to meet its growth requirements. Besides, Start-ups need access to funds through various stages of their life cycle, viz. early stage, seed stage and growth stage.

It was also pointed out to the Department by SIDBI that the present provisions dont provide for SIDBI to get compensated for activities done post sanction to AIFs.

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Cabinet approves proposal for Amendments to the NABARD Act 1981
Mar 23,2017

Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the following proposals:

(a) Amendments to National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981 as proposed in the draft Bill with such changes of drafting and of consequential nature, as may be considered necessary by Legislative Department. The Amendments, include provisions that enable Central Government to increase the authorized capital of NABARD from Rs 5000 crore to Rs 30000 crore and to increase it beyond Rs 30000 crore in consultation with RBI, as deemed necessary from time to time.

(b) Transfer of 0.4 per cent. equity of RBI in NABARD amounting to Rs. 20 crores to the Government of India.

The proposed amendments in NABARD Act, include, certain other amendments including changes in long title and certain Sections to bring Medium Enterprises and Handlooms in NABARDs mandate.

The proposed increase in the authorized capital would enable NABARD to respond to the commitments it has undertaken, particularly in respect of the Long Term Irrigation Fund and the recent Cabinet decision regarding on-lending to cooperative banks. Further, it will enable NABARD to augment its business and enhance its activities which would facilitate promotion of integrated rural development and securing prosperity of rural areas including generation of more employment.

The transfer of entire shareholding in NABARD held by RBI to the Central Government will remove the conflict in RBIs role as banking regulator and shareholder in NABARD.

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Cabinet approves Policy for the Grant of Extension to the Production Sharing Contracts signed by GOI awarding Pre-NELP Exploration Blocks
Mar 23,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a policy for grant of extension to the Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) signed by Government of India awarding Pre-NELP Exploration Blocks to enable and facilitate investment to extract the remaining reserves.

This policy will enable the contractors to extract not only the remaining reserves but also plan to extract additional reserves by implementing new technologies. In certain fields, additional recovery of hydrocarbons can be obtained through Enhanced Oil Recovery / Improved Oil Recovery (EOR/IOR) Projects and as such the production would extend beyond the current duration of PSC. In the year 2016-17 (upto Feb., 2017), the production from these oil & gas blocks, allotted in Pre- NELP regime, is around 55 million barrel of oil and 965 MMSCM of natural gas. The recoverable reserve from these blocks is estimated to be more than 426 million barrel of oil equivalent. During the extension period, contractors are expected to make an additional investment of more than USD 5430 million.

The policy will give boost to accelerate and supplement indigenous production of hydrocarbon from existing blocks and act as a progressive step towards achieving the target of 10% reduction in import of crude oil by 2022. Among others, it includes oil and gas blocks in the State of Rajasthan that account for about half of the countrys onland production of crude oil. Extension of these oil blocks will be major stepping stone in sustaining and enhancing onland production.

The Government share of Profit Petroleum during the extended period of contract would be 10% higher for these fields, thus bringing additional revenues to Government.

In addition, the policy brings out detailed guidelines regarding grant of extension, criterion for evaluation of request, time frame for consideration of request, duration of extension etc. The extension of these contracts is expected to bring extra investments in the fields and would generate both direct and indirect employment. The policy aims at bringing out clear terms of extension in fair and transparent manner so that the resources can be expeditiously exploited in the interest of energy security of the country besides improving the investment climate.

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Cabinet approves closure/winding up of CREDA HPCL Biofuel Ltd (CHBL) and IndianOil - CREDA Biofuels Ltd. (ICBL)
Mar 23,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved closure/winding up of CREDA HPCL Biofuel (CHBL) and IndianOil - Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) Biofuels (ICBL).

All Office assets of CHBL/ICBL have been disposed of. No manpower exits on the rolls of CHBL/ICBL. There is no financial outgo from Government of India and lands have been returned to CREDA. All liabilities have also been settled. Closure of CHBL and ICBL would result in saving unfruitful expenditure on statutory compliance.

Background:

Joint Ventures (JV) between CREDA HPCL Biofuel Ltd (CHBL) and IndianOil-CREDA Biofuels Limited (ICBL) were formed for carrying out energy crop (Jatropha) plantation and production of bio-diesel in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The CREDA, an arm of Chhattisgarh, had provided wasteland to CHBL and ICBL through Land Use Agreement for plantation of Jatropha. Due to various constraints such as very poor seed yield, limited availability of wasteland, high plantation maintenance cost etc. the project became unviable and Jatropha plantation activities were discontinued.

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Cabinet approves amendment to The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009
Mar 23,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the amendment to Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. This will ensure that all teachers, in position as on 31st March, 2015, acquire the minimum qualifications prescribed by the academic authority to extend the period for such training for four years up to 31st March, 2019.

This will enable the in-service untrained elementary teachers to complete their training and ensure that all teachers at the elementary level in the country have a certain minimum standard of qualifications. This would also ensure that all Teachers would attain minimum qualifications as considered necessary to maintain the standard of teaching quality. This would ultimately result in improvement in overall quality of teachers, teaching processes and consequently learning outcomes of children. This will reinforce the Governments emphasis on improvement of quality of elementary education.

Background:

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, is effective from 1st April, 2010. It envisages free and compulsory elementary education to every child in the age group of 6-14 years. The Proviso to Section 23(2) of the Act specifies that all teachers at elementary level who, at the commencement of this Act, did not possess the minimum qualifications as laid down under the RTE Act, need to acquire these within a period of five years i.e., 31st March, 2015. However, several State governments have reported that out of a total number of 66.41 lakh teachers at the elementary level, 11.00 lakh are still untrained (of this, 5.12 lakh are in Government and Aided Schools and 5.98 lakh are in private schools). In order to ensure that all teachers, in position as on 31st March, 2015, acquire the minimum qualifications prescribed by the academic authority, it is necessary to carry out appropriate amendment in the RTE Act, 2009 to extend the period for such training for four years up to 31st March, 2019.

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Cabinet approves North East Road Network Connectivity Project Phase I
Mar 23,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for development of 403 kms of National Highways in Meghalaya and Mizoram. Out of 403 km, approximately 52 kms will be in Meghalaya and 351 km in Mizoram. The project will be executed in EPC Mode.

The estimated cost is Rs 6,721 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and other pre-construction activities.

The projects will be taken up for implementation during the financial year 2017-18. The civil works are expected to be completed by 2021 and maintenance works are expected to be completed by 2025.

The projects will encourage sub-regional socio-economic development by improvement of infrastructure in Meghalaya and Mizoram. It will also enhance the connectivity with inter-state roads and International Borders.

The work for development to two lane standards are under scheme North East Road Network Connectivity Project Phase I with loan assistance of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Background:

The existing carriageway of all the stretches is varying between Single lane to Intermediate lane. The condition of the pavement is very poor and at some locations not in traffic worthy condition. In addition, the stretches are also in poor condition in the landslides areas / sinking zone. Updation and development of these stretches to the two lane with paved shoulders standard will be done.

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Cabinet approves in situ promotion to the officers of Indian Trade Service (ITS) to the Senior Administrative Grade (SAG)
Mar 23,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved in- situ promotion of officers of the Indian Trade Service (ITS), belonging to 1989 to 1991 batches, to the Senior Administrative Grade (SAG) level, on personal basis, as a onetime relaxation, with the condition that, as and when vacancies at SAG arise on the cadre post, these officers would be adjusted against the vacant cadre posts and the posts held by these officers at present, would be retained at the original level of Junior Administrative Grade (JAG), after their retirement or being covered against the original sanctioned strength of SAG.

This approval would enable the Government to retain and gainfully utilize these senior ITS officers, with significant domain knowledge, in various positions in the areas of trade promotion and trade defense to help in achieving the objective of accelerated growth of Indias export sector. Grant of promotion to SAG level will also enable these officers to be considered for empanelment under the Central Staffing Scheme and add to the pool of officers available for serving the Government of India under the said scheme in different Ministries/ Departments of the Government of India. Indian Trade Service was created as a Central Group A Service to cater to the growing need of an organized cadre to handle various aspects of Indias international trade and trade promotion.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and the USA on cooperation in the field of Cyber Security
Mar 23,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-ln) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the US Homeland Security Department on cooperation in the field of Cyber Security. The MOU was signed on 11th January 2017 in New Delhi.

The MoU intends to promote closer co-operation and exchange of information pertaining to the Cyber Security in accordance with the relevant laws, rules and regulations and on the basis of equality, reCciprocity and mutual benefit.

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Indias fuel product consumption slips 2.8% in February 2017
Mar 22,2017

Indias fuel product consumption or sales declined 2.8% to 15.89 mt in February 2017 over a year ago. Diesel sales dipped 3.9% to 6.16 mt, while kerosene sales fell 33.8% to 0.37 mt and bitumen 13.9% to 0.55 mt. Consumption of fuel oil also dipped 10.4% to 0.54 mt, petcoke 2.1% to 2.01 mt, and lubes/greases 12.9% to 0.29 mt. However, the consumption of light diesel oil (LDO) moved up 7.1% to 0.03 mt, others 1.8% to 0.54 mt, and naphtha 4.3% to 1.12 mt. Further, the consumption of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) improved 9.7% to 0.58 mt, petrol 3.1% to 1.90 mt, and LPG 3.5% to 1.81 mt in February 2017.

Consumption or sales of fuel product increased 6.0% to 177.24 mt in April-February 2017 over April-February 2016. Sales of petcoke increased 25.7%, LPG 10.7%, petrol 9.4%, and diesel 2.0%. Consumption of fuel oil also moved up 13.2%, ATF 12.2%, naphtha 1.4% and others 2.0%. Further, the consumption of LDO inched up 15.4% and bitumen 0.6%, but declined for lubes/greases 2.4% and kerosene 20.4% in April-February 2017.

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Indias natural gas production falls 1.7% in February 2017
Mar 22,2017

Indias natural gas production declined 1.7% to 2.52 billion cubic meters (bcm) in February 2017 over a year ago. Natural gas output of ONGC jumped 2.4% to 1.77 bcm, but that of private and JV companies dipped 14.8% to 0.52 bcm. Meanwhile, the natural gas production of Oil India moved up 3.1% to 0.23 bcm in February 2017. Natural gas output declined 1.9% to 29.15 bcm in April-February 2017 over April-February 2016.

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Indias crude oil refinery output declines 2.3% in February 2017
Mar 22,2017

Indias crude oil refinery output declined 2.3% to 18.71 mt in February 2017 over February 2016. The output of public sector refineries fell 3.7% to 10.17 mt, while the output of private refineries dipped 3.1% to 7.26 mt. However, the refinery output of public-private JV refiners moved up 17.0% to 1.28 mt in February 2017.

Among public refineries, the output of Chennai Petroleum Corporation dipped 49.4% to 0.44 mt, while the output of Mangalore Refineries plunged 5.7% to 1.19 mt, and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation 1.8% to 1.38 mt in February 2017 over February 2016. However, the output of Numaligarh Refineries moved up 1.9% to 0.21 mt, Indian Oil Corporation 1.9% to 4.99 mt and Bharat Petroleum Corporation 2.0% to 1.95 mt in February 2017.

Among private refiners, the output of Reliance Petroleum declined 4.1% to 5.71 mt, while that of Essar Oil rose 0.7% to 1.55 mt in February 2017 over February 2016. Among JV refineries, the output of Bharat Oman fell 3.8% to 0.46 mt, while the output of HPCL Mittal moved up 33.3% to 0.82 mt in February 2016.

The cumulative refinery output increased 5.2% to 217.57 mt in April-February 2017. The output of public refineries increased 8.3% to 117.54 mt, while that of private refineries moved up 2.0% to 85.57 mt. The refinery output of JV refineries rose 0.5% to 14.46 mt in April-February 2017. Among public refineries, the output of Indian Oil Corporation improved 10.9%, Bharat Petroleum Corporation 7.3%, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation 3.7%, Chennai Petroleum Corporation 9.3%, Numaligarh Refineries 7.3% and Mangalore Refineries 4.3%.

The overall capacity utilization was lower at 107.9% in February 2017 compared with 114.5% in February 2016, while it was also lower at 106.4% in April-February 2017 compared with 107.4% in April-February 2016.

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Indias crude oil production declines 3.4% in February 2017
Mar 22,2017

Indias crude oil production declined 3.4% to 2.80 million tonnes (mt) in February 2017 over February 2016. Crude oil output of ONGC dipped 2.2% to 1.74 mt in February 2017. ONGCs offshore output declined 2.4% to 1.28 mt, while onshore production also fell 1.6% to 0.46 mt. The crude oil output of Oil India improved 5.7% to 0.26 mt, but that of private and joint venture (JV) companies dipped 8.5% to 0.80 mt in February 2017.

Crude oil output fell 2.8% to 32.92 mt in April-December period of the fiscal year ending March 2017 (April-February 2017), in addition to 1.0% fall recorded in the corresponding period of last year. Output of ONGC eased 1.0% to 20.29 mt, while that of Oil India rose 0.3% to 2.96 mt and private companies fell 7.3% to 9.67 mt in April-February 2017 over April-February 2016.

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India and ADB signs US$ 350 million loan for developing district roads in Madhya Pradesh
Mar 22,2017

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India have signed a US$ 350 million loan agreement for improving about 1500 kilometers of major district roads in Madhya Pradesh in line with the States Road Development Plan.

The project would complement the efforts of Government of Madhya Pradesh to bring about seamless road connectivity across the State by linking State Highways and Rural roads through District roads. It would provide an easier access to basic services and markets to people.

The Project will involve upgrading roads with concrete pavements, strengthening culverts and bridges, and maintaining the improved road assets for a period of five years after construction, on a performance based payment format. The Project will also develop and introduce a cashless accident victim treatment facility in the state, and improve the accident response system.

Madhya Pradesh is the second-largest State in the country, with an area of about 308,000 square kilometers and a population of about 73 million. Agriculture still underpins the States economy and about 70% of the people live in rural areas.

The State has also been undertaking a number of development initiatives to boost industrial activity, such as the Pithampur-Dhar-Mhow Region as a key node on the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, as well as many industrial areas and industrial growth centers. Because industrial development and agricultural production are dispersed, the road network is a vital element of the economic infrastructure.

Along with ADBs loan, the Government of Madhya Pradesh will provide counterpart support of $150 million. The project will run for almost four years with an expected completion date of March 2021.

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Credit Linked Interest Subsidy scheme for tax paying Middle Classes made effective from January 1 this year
Mar 22,2017

The window of fulfilling the aspiration of owning a pucca house for the tax paying large middle class population, announced by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his address to the Nation on December 31st last year has been made operational from the next day i.e January 1st this year. This interest subsidy scheme has been named as Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Groups - CLSS(MIG).

Operational Guidelines for CLSS(MIG) to this effect have been released by Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu.

Middle Income Groups (MIG) with annual incomes of above Rs.6.00 lakhs and up to Rs.18.00 lakhs per year are eligible for interest subsidy on housing loans under the new CLSS(MIG). Those who have been sanctioned housing loans and whose applications are under consideration since January first this year are also eligible for interest subsidy.

Shri Naidu said that Middle Income Groups make substantial contribution to the economic growth of the country besides paying taxes and deserved support to fulfill the dream of owning a house which is a basic and genuine aspiration. He further said that large scale incentivisation of affordable housing will boost real estate sector resulting in employment generation as well. He urged the banks and other lending institution to adopt a pro-active approach to reach the benefits to MIG people.

Minister of State for HUPA Rao Inderjit Singh said Housing for All Mission is the most important initiatives of the Government to ensure a decent house for all by 2022.

Since the middle income groups are better equipped to take advantage of the interest subsidy scheme in quick time and to enable meeting the Housing for All target by 2022, implementation of CLSS(MIG) is initially envisaged for one year.

Prime Minister has announced interest subsidy of 4% on housing loans of up to Rs.9.00 lakhs of those with an income of Rs.12.00 lakh per year and of 3% on housing loans of up to Rs.12.00 lakh of those earning Rs.18.00 lakh per year.

In the Guidelines for CLSS(MIG), the tenure of loan has been stipulated to be 20 years or that preferred by the beneficiary, whichever is lower. The total interest subsidy accruing on these loan amounts will be paid to the beneficiaries up front in one go there by reducing the burden of Equated Monthly Instalment (EMI). The total interest subsidy to be paid to MIG people on Rs.9.00 loan comes to Rs.2.35 lakh and on a loan of Rs.12.00 lakh, it comes to Rs.2.30 lakh per beneficiary.

While defining the beneficiary family as comprising of wife, husband and unmarried daughters and sons, the Guidelines, in an acknowledgement of the aspirations of the youth, have made even unmarried and earning young adults eligible for taking the benefit of interest subsidy under CLSS(MIG), for acquisition/construction of a new house including repurchase.

Interest subsidy will be provided on loans for construction/acquisition of house with carpet area of 90 sq.mtres by those earning Rs.12.00 lakh per annum and of 110 sq.mt by those earning Rs.18.00 lakh per year.

Under the Guidelines, preference is to be given to women with overriding preference towidows, single working women, persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, Differently abled and Transgender people.

Small Finance Banks and Non Banking Finance Company-Micro Finance Institutions also have been recognized to function as Primary Lending Institutions to widen the scope of implementation of CLSS(MIG) in addition to Scheduled Commercial Banks, Housing Finance Companies, Regional Rural Banks, State and Urban Cooperative Banks for accepting applications directly from beneficiaries and advancing loans under the scheme.

While the new CLSS(MIG) covers people with income of up to Rs.12 lakh and Rs.18 lakh per year, the CLSS component of PMAY(Urban) launched in June, 2015 and applicable to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Group (LIG) covers urban poor with income levels of Rs.3.00 lakh and Rs.6.00 lakh per year respectively. Under CLSS(EWS/LIG), interest subsidy of 6.50% is being provided on a loan of up to Rs.6.00 lakh. Tenure of this loan is now increased to 20 years from the earlier 15 years, to enable easy repayments. Total interest subsidy available to each beneficiary under this component is Rs.2.30 lakh.

Shri Sriram Kalyanaraman, MD and CEO of National Housing Bank informed that interest subsidy of 4% under CLSS(MIG) will bring down Equated Monthly Installment of beneficiaries by Rs.2,062 per month on a housing loan of Rs.9.00 lakhand interest subsidy of 3% will bring down EMI by Rs.2,019 on a loan of Rs.12.00 lakh, taking normal housing loan interest rate as 8.65%. He further said during 2015-16, against total new bookings of 28.90 lakh units with loans of up to Rs.10 lakhs each, Public Sector Banks and Housing Finance Banks advanced loans of Rs.9.50 lakh crore and accounted for 64% of total bookings.

70 lending institutions including 45 Housing Finance Companies, 15 scheduled banks, 2 Regional Rural Banks, 1 Cooperative Bank, 4 Small Finance Banks and 3 Non-Banking Finance Companies-Micro Finance Institutions today signed Memoranda of Understanding with National Housing Bank (NHB) today for implementation of CLSS(MIG) component of PMAY(Urban).

NHB and Housing and Urban Development Corporation(HUDCO) have been designated as Central Nodal Agencies (CAN) for implementation of CLSS for both MIG and EWS/LIG who would reimburse interest subsidy to Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) based on the loans advanced to beneficiaries by PLIs. PLIs include Scheduled Commercial Banks, Housing Finance Companies, Small Housing Banks, State and Urban Cooperative Banks, Regional Rural Banks and NBFC-MFI.

Beneficiaries eligible for interest subsidy under CLSS can directly apply to PLIs and PLIs after due verification of applications will sanction loans and there after claim subsidy from CNAs.

No processing fee will be charged by PLIs from the applicants under CLSS.

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FM: Government to focus on two important areas including building infrastructure on war footing and substantial expenditure on development of rural In
Mar 22,2017

The Union Minister of Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs Shri Arun Jaitley said that the Government would focus on two important areas including building infrastructure on war footing and substantial expenditure on development of rural India. The Finance Minister said that India is having the largest infrastructure creating programme in the world which include constructing 10,000 kms of road every year or 30 km a day, connecting every village with a regular road by 2019, to ensure that every village is electrified by 2018 and addition of 40-50 Regional Airports besides modernizing the Railway System among others.

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley highlighted the various schemes and programmes launched by the present Government for the development of rural areas, including construction of roads, electrification of villages, cleanliness campaign by providing every rural household with a toilet system, implementing scheme Housing for all in rural areas by 2022 and high expenditure on rural irrigation, animal husbandry and dairy farming among others.

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley said that the major challenges before the Government is uncertainty in international oil prices, slow pace of growth in the global economy, addressing the issue of increased private sector investment and tackling the problem of Non Performing Assets (NPAs) among others. The Finance Minister said that India will continue to be the fastest growing economy in the world and will continue to achieve the annual growth rate of 7-8 per cent and can further increase this growth rate provided the global economy also registers higher recovery.

The Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that micro and macro-economic indicators of the Indian economy are very strong and inflation, fiscal deficit and current account deficit etc. are very much in control. The Finance Minister also said that the major indirect tax reform in the history of the country since independence i.e. Goods and Services Tax Act is likely to be rolled-out from first of July this year which will simplify the most complicated indirect tax system in the country by subsuming various Central and State indirect taxes and introducing the concept of one tax one nation. The Finance Minister said that the GST will be a game changer and will help in curbing tax evasion, bringing transparency and efficiency in tax administration, reducing the prices of various items by avoiding tax on tax and ensuring seamless transfer of goods from one region to another among others.

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley also said that as far as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is concerned, India is most preferred destination in the world today as it has opened its economy for FDI in various sectors especially in the last 2-3 years. The Finance Minister also touched upon the issue of demonetization stating that by withdrawing the legal tender character of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes with effect from 8th November, 2016, the anonymity attached with the cash is over and informal sector has to a large extent integrated with the formal sector and thereby making the Indian economy more cleaner, transparent and efficient. He said that cash was incentivising crime, corruption, tax evasion and black money among others. Shri Jaitley said that demonetizing on the one hand helped in tackling all these problems while on the other hand, led to increased digitization of transactions and reducing the overall impact of shadow economy among others.

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