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NBCC signs MoU with AIIMS for redevelopment of residential quarters at West Ansari Nagar campus and Ayur Vigyan Nagar campus
Jan 18,2017

The NBCC (India), under the Ministry of Urban Development, signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), for redevelopment of residential quarters at West Ansari Nagar campus and Ayur Vigyan Nagar campus at a total cost of Rs. 4,698 crores.

The MoU was signed in the presence of Union Minister of Urban Development Shri Venkaiah Naidu and Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Shri J P Nadda.

During the occasion, Union Minister for Urban Development, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu said that the MoU between the NBCC and AIIMS will change the face of expansion of the institute, as well as the residential accommodation provided to the professor and other staff members of the institute. He said that health and education are two areas, which needs to be focused and thus, both the central and state Governments are increasing the budget allocation in these sectors. He said that India has inherent strength of knowledge and intelligence but at the same time, we need to upgrade it further and make it affordable to the people.

The Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Shri J P Nadda said that it is largest investment in tertiary health care which happened for first time in India. He thanked the Ministry of Urban Development for its proactive approach, thus enabling to translate dreams into reality.

Salient features of MoU between AIIMS & NBCC

n++ Tripling of the existing housing units from 1,444 to 3,928 units

n++ Self-revenue generating model.

n++ Sustainability and Smart City features like rain water harvesting, waste water recycling, use of solar energy, and smart electricity metering, intelligent building management system, etc

n++ Project to be completed in five years in phased manner.

n++ NBCC will be responsible for further maintenance of assets for a period of 30 years.

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AIIMS signs three MoU with NBCC (India), HSCC (India), and with HITES HLL Life Care
Jan 18,2017

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi signed MoUs with NBCC (India), HSCC (India) and with HITES HLL Life Care to expand infrastructure and other facilities. The signing ceremony was presided over by Shri J P Nadda, Honble Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Honble Union Minister for Urban Development, Urban Poverty Alleviation, and Information & Broadcasting. AIIMS signed an MOU worth ₹ 4441 crores with NBCC (India), ₹ 2500 crores with HSCC (India) and ₹ 729 crores with HITES HLL Life Care, a cumulative net worth of ₹ 7670.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri J P Nadda said that this is one of the most historic days for AIIMS as this is the largest ever health sector investment commitments made by Government in a public health project at one event. n++The past two years have witnessed a historic growth in the form of infrastructure & other facilities,n++ Shri Nadda said. The Health Minister assured that the Government is committed to ensuring that the new AIIMS will meet the same standards of service as AIIMS, New Delhi. No effort will be spared to make them the very best, he added. Shri Nadda stated that AIIMS has created a benchmark in the field of healthcare not only at the national level but internationally also. It has a great testimony and we must try to replicate it in the new AIIMS, he added. He noted that the new Institutes will be n++AIIMSn++ and not n++AIIMS-liken++. n++Innovation for cost effective and affordable healthcare is the need of the day. To take up all these challenge AIIMS needs strengthening and expansion of its facilities. Which we are committed to provide,n++ Shri Nadda said.

Speaking at the ceremony, Shri Venkaiah Naidu said that that in line with the vision of the Prime Minister, we should reform, perform and transform and this initiative reflects that. Shri Naidu further stated that this initiative is going to change the face of AIIMS. n++The profession of doctors is a very noble task and AIIMS has contributed significantly in providing quality healthcare. The expansion plans of the Government would not only improve medical education but will also provide greater access to world class facilities to the citizens,n++ Shri Naidu added. He further said that we should have such premier institute in every state of the country and India is well on its way to becoming a medical hub in the world.

The agreement with NBCC for redevelopment envisages construction of 3060 residential apartments at Ayur Vigyan Nagar campus and 868 apartments at West Ansari Nagar Campus by construction of 3060. The total augmentation of 3928 units would take the total available residential units of AIIMS to 4505. The detailed proposal identifying the housing requirements/type design/project rollout schedule has been firmed up after wide consultations and deliberations by a broad based committee of faculty and consensus was arrived at in a meeting Chaired by the Director, AIIMS in presence of Heads of Departments, Faculty Association, the Officers Union, the Nursing Union and the Karmachari Union .

The agreement with HLL Infra Tech Services (HITES) is for procurement of all types of Medical Equipment and Services including Medical Gas distribution system, CSSD, Modular Operation Theatres for National Cancer Institute, AIIMS, Jhajjar, Haryana. Similarly, HSCC has been selected as a project management consultant for the design, tendering, supervision of engineering components and for equipment procurement and allied infrastructure works for the proposed National Cardiovascular Institute, (NCVI) at the AIIMS second campus at Jhajjar.

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Note scrapping can do little to stop future generation of black money: ASSOCHAM study
Jan 18,2017

Demonetisation may wipe out the stock of black money held in cash but can do little about the ill-gotten wealth converted to assets like gold and real estate and the scrapping of high value notes does not prevent the future generation of unaccounted money, said an ASSOCHAM study on Currency Demonetisation.

n++Invalidating existing high denomination notes addresses the stock of black money but little to address future flows. Eliminating such flows will require further reforms like lowering stamp duty on property transactions, electronic registration of real estate etcn++, said the study.

It said high denomination currency withdrawal is not without some inherent problems. n++It is very difficult to separate black money from white money because distinction is not once-and-for-all. White money used to purchase something becomes black if the shop-keeper does not pay sales taxn++n++

Much of conspicuous consumption is paid for in unaccounted money, which, in the hand of the recipients can again become perfectly legal income. n++Benami deals in real estate and commodity markets make it difficult to trace the transactions to the ultimate buyer or seller. n++Even if the existing stock of illegal currency is wiped out by demonetization, it will be soon replaced as long as such points of contact exist between legitimate and illegitimate dealsn++, said the ASSOCHAM study quoting EPW journal.

It said ultimately, the problem of undisclosed incomes and wealth has to be tackled at the source. The government must reduce the opportunity and incentives for unaccounted transactions by narrowing the gap between the market value and the one fixed by the government agencies for different levies like stamp duty etc.

n++Indications that most of the scrapped currency has returned to the banking system through right or wrong means do suggest that demonetization may not even fully wipe out the existing stock of ill-gotten cash. To that extent, even our study may turn out to be ambitious if the tax authorities are not able to trace the money laundered through different accounts. Given the resource constraints with the tax authorities, carrying out such an exercise for identification of laundered money may be a herculean task,n++ said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat.

The chamber suggested several measures to check the menace of black money. These include reducing discretionary powers to officers, which is possible if the rules and laws are crystal clear and are not left to individuals interpretation.

n++Ironically, several of our laws are badly drafted and framed, leaving scope for official discretion. The problem in a way starts here,n++ said the chamber, adding a strong political will would be required to deal with this issue. Bureaucrats drafting the proposed legislations should be clearly instructed not to leave any grey areas.

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States cant dilute Real Estate Act- Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu
Jan 17,2017

Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu urged the States and Union Territories to rise to the occasion and implement the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act 2016 from the first of May this year, as proposed in the Act. He addressed a meeting of Chief Secretaries and senior officials of States and UTs convened by the Ministry of HUPA to discuss implementation of the Real Estate Act.

Shri Venkaiah Naidu said n++ Real Estate Act is one of the most consumer friendly laws passed by the Parliament and States have no power to dilute its provisions. This law, which was widely welcomed and appreciated benefits both the buyers and sellers of real estate properties besides enhancing the credibility of the sector. There is lot of hope and expectation from this act by all the stakeholders. There are some media reports that some States have diluted some provisions of the Act in the Rules notified by them. States dont have such powers and I hope such reports are not true. Today, I want to make it clear that any compromise with the spirit of the Act will have serious implications including public outcry. Whoever does so will have to face the public outcry. I expect the States and UTs to rise to the occasion and ensure implementation of the Act from May this year as proposed in the Act by taking necessary measures in timen++.

Later, various aspects of the Real Estate Act were discussed in detail. Responding to the views and suggestions made, Dr.Nandita Chatterjee, Secretary(HUPA) clarified that no amendments to the Act would be considered at this stage since full implementation of the Act would begin only in May this year when Real Estate Regulatory Authorities and Appellate Tribunals would become functional.

Dr. Chatterjee also clarified that the minimum plot size of 500 sq.mt proposed in the Act for registration of projects with Regulatory Authorities was arrived at after several rounds of discussions by the Parliamentary Committees and in the Parliament and it cant be altered now. She said that the cut off date for the ongoing projects that have not received completion certificates for including under the purview of the Real Estate Act would be May first this year, from when the full Act comes into effect.

Regarding other issues raised by the States, the Ministry officials stated that necessary clarity for the purpose of implementation of the Act can be given in the Rules to be notified by the States/UTs, without violating the spirit of the Act. These include stilt parking to be used as garage.

Responding to the issue of excluding balconies from the definition of carpet area, it was explained that it posed no problems as costing could be accordingly informed to the buyers. Interim Regulatory Authorities have been proposed in the Act so that they could put in place necessary institutional mechanisms for full fledged Regulatory Authorities could become functional from the first of May this year, it was explained.

The Ministry has agreed to come out with a template for Website to be made operational for disclosure of a range of information about the projects as mandated under the Act. Any expenditure incurred by the promoters on development of land could be included as part of the cost of land, States were told.

During the review, it revealed that Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry would notify the Real Estate Rules next month.

Punjab and Uttarakhand have informed that the needful would be done after the elections to the State Assemblies.

Real Estate Rules have so far been notified for Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chandigarh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nager Haveli, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep.

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13.6% Growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals in December 2016 Over the Same Period in 2015
Jan 17,2017

13.6% growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in December 2016 over the same period in 2015. USA accounts for highest share of tourist arrivals followed by Bangladesh and UK in December 2016. Rs.16,805 crore Foreign Exchange earned through tourism in December 2016.

The following are the important highlights regarding FTAs and FEEs from tourism during the month of December, 2016.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs): -

n++ FTAs during the Month of December, 2016 were 10.37 lakh as compared to FTAs of 9.13 lakh during the month of December, 2015 and 8.85 lakh in December, 2014. There has been a growth of 13.6% in December, 2016 over December, 2015.

n++ FTAs during the period January- December, 2016 were 88.90 lakh with a growth of 10.7% as compared to the FTAs of 80.27 lakh with a growth of 4.5% in January- December, 2015 over January- December, 2014.

n++ The Percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during December, 2016 among the top 15 source countries was highest from USA (18.33%) followed by , Bangladesh (13.02%), UK (11.71%), Australia (5.43%), Russian Fed (4.18%),Canada (4.13%), Malaysia (3.38%), Germany (2.80%), China (2.53%), Sri Lanka (2.25%), Singapore (2.12%), France (2.01%), Japan (1.79%), Afghanistan (1.38%) and Nepal (1.34%).

n++ The Percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during December 2016 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (27.77%) followed by Mumbai Airport (19.80%), Haridaspur Land check post (7.16%), Chennai Airport (7.13%), Goa Airport (5.64%), Bengaluru Airport (5.43%), Kolkata Airport (4.31%), Cochin Airport (4.17%), Hyderabad Airport (3.42%), Ahmadabad Airport (3.11%), Trivandrum Airport (1.81%), Gede Rail (1.59%), Trichy Airport (1.59%), Amritsar Airport (1.06%), and Gaya Airport (0.84%).

Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from Tourism in India in Rs. terms and in US$ terms

n++ FEEs during the month of December, 2016 were Rs.16,805 crore as compared to Rs. 14,152 crore in December, 2015 and Rs.12,988 crore in December, 2014.

n++ The growth rate in FEEs in rupee terms during December, 2016 over December, 2015 was 18.7% as compared to the growth of 9.0% in December, 2015 over December, 2014.

n++ FEEs from tourism in rupee terms during January- December, 2016 were Rs. 1,55,650 crore with a growth of 15.1% as compared to the FEE of Rs. 1,35,193 crore with a growth of 9.6% during January- December, 2015 over January- December, 2014.

n++ FEEs in US$ terms during the month of December, 2016 were US$ 2.475 billion as compared to FEEs of US$ 2.126 billion during the month of December, 2015 and US$ 2.069 billion in December, 2014.

n++ The growth rate in FEEs in US$ terms in December, 2016 over December, 2015 was 16.4% compared to the growth of 2.8% in December, 2015 over December, 2014.

n++ FEE from tourism in US$ terms during January- December, 2016 were US$ 23.146 billion with a growth of 9.8% as compared to the US$ 21.071 billion with a growth 4.1% during January- December, 2015 over January- December, 2014.

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Global economic landscape shifting in the second half of 2016
Jan 17,2017

An accumulation of recent data suggests that the global economic landscape started to shift in the second half of 2016, says IMF in its latest update to the World Economic Outlook. Developments since last summer indicate somewhat greater growth momentum coming into the new year in a number of important economies. International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier projection, that world growth will pick up from last years lackluster pace in 2017 and 2018, therefore looks increasingly likely to be realized. At the same time, we see a wider dispersion of risks to this short-term forecast, with those risks still tilted to the downside. Uncertainty has risen, says the report.

Our central projection is that global growth will rise to a rate of 3.4 percent in 2017 and 3.6 percent in 2018, from a 2016 rate of 3.1 percent. Much of the better growth performance we expect this year and next stems from improvements in some large emerging market and low income economies that in 2016 were exceptionally stressed. That being said, compared to our view in October, we now think that more of the lift will come from better prospects in the United States, China, Europe, and Japan.

A faster pace of expansion would be especially welcome this year: global growth in 2016 was the weakest since 2008-09, owing to a challenging first half marked initially by turmoil in world financial markets. General improvement got under way around mid-year. For example, broad indicators of manufacturing activity in emerging and advanced economies have been in expansionary territory and rising since early summer. In many countries, previous downward pressures on headline inflation weakened, in part owing to firming commodity prices.

A significant repricing of assets followed the U.S. presidential election. Its most notable elements were a sharp increase in U.S. longer-term interest rates, equity market appreciation and higher long-term inflation expectations in advanced economies, and sharp movements in opposite directions of the dollarn++upn++and the yenn++down. At the same time, emerging market equity markets broadly retreated as currencies weakened.

Of course, asset markets adjust not just to unexpected current events, but to shifting expectations of future events. Most commentators have interpreted the post-election moves as predicting that U.S. fiscal policy will turn more expansionary and require a swifter pace of interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve. Markets have noted that the White House and Congress are in the hands of the same party for the first time in six years, and that change points to lower tax rates and possibly higher infrastructure and defense spending.

In light of the U.S. economys momentum coming into 2017, and the likely shift in policy mix, we have moderately raised our two-year projections for U.S. growth. At this early stage, however, the specifics of future fiscal legislation remain unclear, as do the degree of net increase in government spending and the resulting impacts on aggregate demand, potential output, the Federal deficit, and the dollar.

There is thus a wider than usual range of upside and downside risks to this forecast. A sustained non-inflationary growth increase, marked by higher labor force participation and significant expansion of the U.S. capital stock and infrastructure, would allow a more moderate pace of interest rate increases in line with the Federal Reserves price stability mandate.

On the downside, if a fiscally-driven demand increase collides with more rigid capacity constraints, a steeper path for interest rates will be necessary to contain inflation, the dollar will appreciate sharply, real growth will be lower, budget pressure will increase, and the U.S. current account deficit will widen.

This last scenario, one with a widening of global imbalances, intensifies the risk of protectionist measures and retaliatory responses. It would also imply a faster than expected tightening of global financial conditions, with resulting possible stress on many emerging market and some low-income economies. Some emerging and especially low-income commodity exporters could benefit from higher export prices, but importers would then lose. The details of the U.S. policy mix matter; and as these become clearer, we will adjust our forecast and spillover assessment.

Among emerging economies, China remains a major driver of world economic developments. Our China growth upgrade for 2017 is a key factor underpinning the coming years expected faster global recovery. This change reflects an expectation of continuing policy support; but a sharp or disruptive slowdown in the future remains a risk given continuing rapid credit expansion, impaired corporate debts, and persistent government support for inefficient state-owned firms.

At the global level, other vulnerabilities include higher popular antipathy toward trade, immigration, and multilateral engagement in the United States and Europe; widespread high levels of public and private debt; ongoing climate changen++which especially affects low-income countries; and, in a number of advanced countries, continuing slow growth and deflationary pressures. In Europe, Britains terms of exit from the European Union remain unsettled and the upcoming national electoral calendar is crowded, with possibilities of adverse economic repercussions, in the short and longer terms.

We continue to recommend a three-pronged policy approach relying on fiscal and structural policies alongside monetary policy, but one that is tailored to country circumstances.

Some advanced economies are now operating at close to full capacity, for example, Germany and the United States. In these, fiscal policy should focus, not on short-term demand support, but on increasing potential output through investments in needed infrastructure and skills, as well as supply-friendly, equitable tax reform. Policymakers in these economies should also turn their attention to longer-term fiscal sustainability, while monetary policy can follow a data-dependent normalizing path.

Structural reform remains a priority everywhere in view of continuing tepid productivity growth, although in many cases appropriate fiscal support can raise the effectiveness of reforms without worsening governments fiscal positions.

Financial resilience is another universal priority and requires stronger financial regulatory frameworks, better focused on key problem areas. Countries can do much on their own to improve financial oversight and institutions, but not everything, and continuing multilateral financial regulatory cooperation is vital.

Social dislocation due to globalization and, even more, to technology change is a major challenge that will only intensify in the future. One result has been wider inequality and wage stagnation in many countries. Rolling back economic integration, however, would impose aggregate economic costs without reducing the need for government investment in well-trained, nimble workforces, along with policies to promote better matching of available jobs to skills.

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Fitch Rates State Bank of Indias Proposed Senior Debt BBB-(EXP)
Jan 17,2017

Fitch Ratings has assigned State Bank of Indias (SBI, BBB-/Stable) proposed senior unsecured debt an expected rating of BBB-(EXP).

The notes will constitute direct, unconditional, unsubordinated and unsecured obligations of the issuer. They will at all times rank pari passu among themselves and with all other unsubordinated and unsecured obligations of SBI.

The tenor of the issue is expected to be around five years and the notes are to be issued by SBIs London branch.

The final rating is subject to the receipt of final documentation conforming to information already received.

KEY RATING DRIVERS - SENIOR DEBT

The senior unsecured instruments are rated at the same level as the banks Issuer Default Rating (IDR), in accordance with Fitchs criteria.

SBIs IDR is driven by its Support Rating Floor (SRF) of BBB-, which is at the same level as its Viability Rating (VR) of bbb-, implying that the banks standalone credit strength also underpins the IDR. The SRF reflects Fitchs expectation of a high probability of extraordinary support from the government of India, if necessary, given the banks very high systemic importance and quasi-sovereign status.

SBIs core capitalisation is set to improve in the financial year ending 31 March 2017 (FY17) from a core equity Tier 1 ratio of 10.3% at end-September 2016. The bank is likely to receive around USD835 million in new capital from the government shortly (of the total USD1.1 billion earmarked for FY17; around 5% of FY16 equity) and has plans to raise an additional USD2.2 billion directly from the market, for which it has received shareholder approvals. The banks NPL ratio (7.1% at end-1HFY17) and stressed asset ratio (9.6%) have moderately picked up in 1HFY17, but they remain considerably lower than those of other large government banks.

RATING SENSITIVITIES - SENIOR DEBT

SBIs VR and SRF are at the same level as the IDR, which would only be downgraded if both the SRF and the VR were to be downgraded. A downgrade of Indias sovereign rating will also trigger a downgrade of the banks IDR as it is at the same level as the sovereign. Any change in the IDR will have a similar change on the proposed notes rating.

SBIs other ratings are unchanged and are as follows:

- Long-Term IDR at BBB-; Outlook Stable

- Short-Term IDR at F3

- Viability Rating at bbb-

- Support Rating at 2

- Support Rating Floor at BBB-

- USD10bn medium-term note programme at BBB-

- USD3.5bn senior unsecured notes at BBB-

- USD400m perpetual Tier 1 bonds at B

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Moodys: Global airline industry outlook remains stable; fuel costs and capacity to be key to upcoming earnings trend
Jan 17,2017

Moodys Investors Service is maintaining its stable outlook on the global airline industry, reflecting the rating agencys expectations of declining but still-strong operating margins relative to the sectors historical levels.

Moodys projects the aggregate operating margin of rated airlines to approach 9% in 2017 and about 8% in 2018, from a projected 10.8% in 2016. This trend reflects declines in operating profit of the rated airlines of about 11% in 2017 and about 12% in 2018, widening from a projected 1.2% contraction in 2016. These rates of change fall within Moodys -20% to 20% range for a stable outlook.

US carriers will still have the industrys highest operating margins, despite being on track to drop by about 20% over the next 12 to 18 months due to modestly higher fuel and increases in labor costs under new union contracts agreed to in 2016 at major airlines, says Moodys Vice President -- Senior Credit Officer Jonathan Root. A mature domestic market, a more rational industry structure and modest exposure to weaker foreign currencies will help US carriers maintain that position.

Legacy carriers in Europe and in increasingly competitive developing markets, on the other hand, face greater challenges to grow their operating margins.

Low-cost, low-fare carriers will advance their expansion across Europe and in long-haul, sustaining pressure on legacy operators, explains Root. It will be much the same across Asia as well.

Passenger demand will continue to trend upwards, albeit slowly, supported by modest but steady global economic growth and increasing air travel in the developing world. Aggregate capacity growth, however, will outstrip growth in aggregate demand by about half a percentage point due to the still relatively low cost of fuel, availability of older aircraft coming off leases and growth of low-cost carriers.

Capacity growth across geographic regions will vary, with the US growing in the low single digits, Europe in the mid-single digits, and, according to IATA, developing markets like Asia and the Middle East growing about 7.5% and 10.0%, respectively. Unrated airlines will lead capacity growth in Latin America in 2017, while rated carriers, LATAM Airlines Group S.A. (B1 stable) and Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes S.A. (Caa3 negative), will slow capacity growth in 2017 as they continue to restructure operationally.

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New approach needed to tackle rising drug prices-OECD
Jan 17,2017

The proliferation of high-cost medicines and rising drug prices are increasing pressures on public health spending and calling into question the pharmaceutical industrys pricing strategies. Governments need to work with the industry and regulators to define a new approach to the development and use of new health technologies that encourages innovation while also delivering more affordable and value for money treatments, according to a new OECD report.

New Health Technologies: Managing Access, Value and Sustainability says that pharmaceutical spending is increasingly skewed towards high-cost products. The launch prices of drugs for cancer and rare diseases are rising, sometimes without a commensurate increase in health benefits for patients. For instance in the United States, the launch price of oncology drugs per life-year gained has been multiplied by four in less than 20 years - in constant terms - and now exceeds USD 200 000.

Payers, such as insurers or public health providers, are also increasingly struggling to pay for high-cost medicines targeting very small populations, which are expected to proliferate with the development of precision medicine. On the other side of spectrum, new treatments for hepatitis which are very effective and cost-effective in the long-term but target a wide population, are unaffordable to many who would benefit in almost all OECD countries because of their high budget impact.

The prices paid for technologies must reflect their real-world health benefits compared to alternatives, and be adjusted based on evidence about their actual impact. Payers must be equipped with the necessary powers to adjust prices and withdraw payment for ineffective technologies.

A rebalancing of the negotiating powers of payers and manufacturers is needed, says the report. This could be through increased transparency and co-operation between payers and international joint procurement initiatives, as tested in Europe and Latin America. Pricing agreements, which link the final price paid to the actual performance of the drug, as used in Italy and England, may also be effective if management and administration costs are controlled and the clinical data and evidence collected made widely available to the scientific community.

The report highlights other challenges facing the adoption of new technologies. Investment in R&D to treat neglected diseases, such as HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis, fight antimicrobial resistance and address dementia has also become less attractive as their profitability is lower. The incentives for private investment in these areas should be strengthened.

Many biomedical technologies are today approved and adopted based on limited evidence of their safety and effectiveness. Assessment of their performance in real world conditions is rare. This compromises safety, is wasteful and no longer sustainable.

More efforts are also needed to harness the potential of health data more effectively. Use of personal health data creates major opportunities for health system improvement, research and disease surveillance, but requires the right governance frameworks to realise these benefits while managing the privacy risks.

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OECD unemployment rate stable at 6.2% in November 2016
Jan 17,2017

The OECD unemployment rate was stable at 6.2% in November 2016. Across the OECD area, 38.5 million people were unemployed, 5.9 million more than in April 2008, before the crisis. Youth (people aged 15 to 24) unemployment remained high, especially in Southern Europe. A total of 9.3 million young people were counted as unemployed in OECD countries.

The November 2016 unemployment rate in the euro area was also stable at 9.8%. The largest falls in unemployment were recorded in France (down 0.2 percentage point, to 9.5%), Ireland (down 0.2 percentage point, to 7.3%) and the Slovak Republic (down 0.2 percentage point, to 9.0%). The unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage point in Finland (to 8.8%) and Italy (to 11.9%).

Unemployment declined by 0.2 percentage point in Canada (to 6.8%) and the United States (to 4.6%) in November but more recent data show that it subsequently increased by 0.1 percentage point in both countries in December (to 4.7% in the United States and to 6.9% in Canada). The November unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage point in Japan (to 3.1%) and Mexico (to 3.7%).

The OECD unemployment rate for youth declined by 0.1 percentage point to 12.8% in November. However, it increased further in the euro area (by 0.3 percentage point, to 21.2%), with rises in Italy (by 1.8 percentage point, to 39.4%) and in Portugal and Spain (by 0.6 percentage point, to 28.4% and 44.4%, respectively). The OECD unemployment rate for women (unchanged at 6.3%) remained slightly above that for men (which fell by 0.1 percentage point, to 6.1%).

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India & Mauritius Sign MoU for Cooperation in the field of Cooperatives
Jan 17,2017

The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh and Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Govt. of Mauritius, Shri Soomilduth Bholah signed on MoU for Cooperation in the field of Cooperatives & related areas here today. The MoU will enable the two countries to collaborate in this vital sector and can significantly benefit thousands of Mauritians. India offered to exchange its expertise and technology with Mauritius in agro industry, fisheries and dairy sector.

The two ministers expressed satisfaction at the historic, time-tested relationship between India and Mauritius which is anchored in linkages of culture and ancestry has grown from strength to strength over the years, adding that frequent high level visits have added significant momentum to the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

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Ministry of Earth Sciences Commissions Higher Resolution Weather Prediction Model
Jan 16,2017

The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has commissioned a very high resolution (12 km) global deterministic weather prediction model for generating operational weather forecasts. The model has been on trial since September 2016. It has shown significant improvements in skill of daily weather forecasts. This model has been made operational from January 16, 2017.

The present model replaces the earlier version which had a horizontal resolution of 25 km. It was very helpful, especially in predicting the track and the intensity of the recent Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Vardah and the cold wave over the northern parts of India.

MoESs operational Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) will also be upgraded to 12 km. For this the High Performance Computing (HPC) system resources available with MoES is to be augmented to 10 Peta Flops from the current 1.2 Peta Flops. The operational EPS currently has a horizontal resolution of about 25 km.

The EPS is adopted to overcome the problem of uncertainties in the forecasts. It involves the generation of multiple forecasts using slightly varying initial conditions. The EPS also help generate probabilistic forecasts and quantify the uncertainties.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) provides Weather, Climate and Hydrological Services to various users round the year and 24/7. Both operational and research aspects for these services are implemented through its constituent units India Meteorological Department (IMD), National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS).

In general, during the last five years, the skill of weather and climate forecasts in India has improved. The improvement is noted especially in general public weather forecasts, monsoon forecasts, heavy rainfall warnings and tropical cyclone warnings and alerts. The successes in predicting the Tropical Cyclones Phailin/Hudhud, heavy rainfall event in Chennai during December 2015, deficient rainfall during monsoon season of 2015 are the best examples for the improvement in prediction capability during the recent years.

Focused research and development activities have been carried out at IITM, NCMRWF and IMD on weather prediction model development and data assimilation methods. Data from the International and Indian satellites are being assimilated in the weather prediction models.

The communication of forecasts to the stake holders on time and in proper language is very important in the effective use of weather and climate forecasts and minimizing the loss and damages due to severe weather. IMD has established an effective mechanism for dissemination of weather and climate forecasts to different stake holders using different communication channels.

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India Signs Financing Agreement with World Bank for US$ 48 Million for n++Nagaland Health Projectn++
Jan 16,2017

A financing agreement for IDA credit of US$ 48 million (equivalent) for the Nagaland Health Project was signed with the World Bank here today. The Financing Agreement was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of Government of India and Mrs. Genevieve Connors, Acting Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank. A Project Agreement was also signed by Dr. L. Watikala, Principal Director, Directorate of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Nagaland and Ms. Genevieve Connors, Acting Country Director, World Bank.

The Objectives of the project are to improve health services and increase their utilization by communities in targeted locations in Nagaland. Communities in targeted locations will benefit from project activities at the community and health facility levels while the population of the state as a whole will benefit from improvements in higher-level facilities as well as system-wide investments. The project will directly benefit about 600,000 people. It will support and complement existing systems and mechanisms involving communities under the National Health Mission.

The closing date of Nagaland health Project is 31st March, 2023.

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Gartner Says More Than 40 Percent of Data Science Tasks Will Be Automated by 2020
Jan 16,2017

More than 40 percent of data science tasks will be automated by 2020, resulting in increased productivity and broader usage of data and analytics by citizen data scientists, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner defines a citizen data scientist as a person who creates or generates models that use advanced diagnostic analytics or predictive and prescriptive capabilities, but whose primary job function is outside the field of statistics and analytics.

According to Gartner, citizen data scientists can bridge the gap between mainstream self-service analytics by business users and the advanced analytics techniques of data scientists. They are now able to perform sophisticated analysis that would previously have required more expertise, enabling them to deliver advanced analytics without having the skills that characterize data scientists.

With data science continuing to emerge as a powerful differentiator across industries, almost every data and analytics software platform vendor is now focused on making simplification a top goal through the automation of various tasks, such as data integration and model building.

Making data science products easier for citizen data scientists to use will increase vendors reach across the enterprise as well as help overcome the skills gap, said Alexander Linden, research vice president at Gartner. The key to simplicity is the automation of tasks that are repetitive, manual intensive and dont require deep data science expertise.

Mr. Linden said the increase in automation will also lead to significant productivity improvements for data scientists. Fewer data scientists will be needed to do the same amount of work, but every advanced data science project will still require at least one or two data scientists.

Gartner also predicts that citizen data scientists will surpass data scientists in the amount of advanced analysis produced by 2019. A vast amount of analysis produced by citizen data scientists will feed and impact the business, creating a more pervasive analytics-driven environment, while at the same time supporting the data scientists who can shift their focus onto more complex analysis.

Most organizations dont have enough data scientists consistently available throughout the business, but they do have plenty of skilled information analysts that could become citizen data scientists, said Joao Tapadinhas, research director at Gartner. Equipped with the proper tools, they can perform intricate diagnostic analysis and create models that leverage predictive or prescriptive analytics. This enables them to go beyond the analytics reach of regular business users into analytics processes with greater depth and breadth.

According to Gartner, the result will be access to more data sources, including more complex data types; a broader and more sophisticated range of analytics capabilities; and the empowering of a large audience of analysts throughout the organization, with a simplified form of data science.

Access to data science is currently uneven, due to lack of resources and complexity not all organizations will be able leverage it, said Mr. Tapadinhas. For some organizations, citizen data science will therefore be a simpler and quicker solution their best path to advanced analytics.

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WPI inflation rises to 3.4% in December 2016
Jan 16,2017

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation rose to 3.4% in December 2016 from 3.2% in November 2016, while snapping decline for last three straight months. An increase in WPI inflation was mainly driven by higher inflation for fuel and basic metals items, while inflation for food items declined sharply in December 2016.

Inflation of primary articles dipped to 0.3% in December 2016 from 1.3% in November 2016. However, the inflation for manufactured products rose to 3.7% in December 2016. Further, the inflation for fuel items accelerated further to 8.7% in December 2016 from 7.1% in November 2016.

As per major commodity group-wise, inflation eased for food grains, fruits, vegetables, fish marine, poultry chicken, spices, fibres, flowers, sugar, tea & coffee products, textiles, wood products and leather products in December 2016. On the other hand, inflation of oilseeds, raw rubber, metallic minerals, crude petroleum, mineral oils, grain mill products, edible oils, beverages and tobacco products, rubber products, chemical products, basic metals, machinery and tools, and transport equipment rose in December 2016.

Inflation of food items (food articles and food products) eased to 2.8% in December 2016 from 4.4% in November 2016. Meanwhile, inflation of non-food items (all commodities excluding food items) moved up to 3.7% in December 2016 from 2.6% in November 2016.

Core inflation (manufactured products excluding foods products) accelerated to 2.1% in December 2016 from 1.5% in November 2016.

The contribution of primary articles to the overall inflation, at 3.15%, was 08 basis points (bps) in December 2016 compared with 36 bps in November 2016. The contribution of manufactured products was 206 bps compared with 179 bps, while that of fuel product group was 129 bps against 106 bps in November 2016.

The contribution of food items (food articles and food products) to inflation fell to 91 bps in 3.39% in December 2016 compared with 140 bps to 3.15% in November 2016. Meanwhile, the contribution of non-food items (all commodities excluding food items) was 250 bps in December 2016 compared with 179 bps in November 2016.

As per the revised data, the inflation figure for October 2016 was revised up to 3.8% compared with 3.4% reported provisionally.

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