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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Real Estate Act comes into force from 01 May 2017
May 02,2017

Ending the nine year long wait, regulation of real estate sector involving over 76,000 companies across the county becomes a reality from 01 May 2017 with the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act,2016 coming into force.

With all the 92 Sections of the Act coming into effect from tomorrow, developers shall get all the ongoing projects that have not received Completion Certificate and the new projects registered with Regulatory Authorities within three months i.e by July end. This enables the buyers to enforce their rights and seek redressal of grievances after such registration.

Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu in his tweets on the occasion said today; n++Real Estate Act coming into force after a nine year wait marks the beginning of a new era making buyer the King while developers benefit from the confidence of the King in the regulated environment. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modis personal interest in the matter made the Act a reality now. The Act ushers in the much desired accountability, transparency and efficiency in the sector with the Act defining the rights and obligations of both the buyers and developers. This important legislation gained momentum under this Government and could see the light finallyn++.

Ahead of the Act coming into force, Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has formulated and circulated Model Real Estate Regulations for adoption by the Regulatory Authorities in the States/UTs. Under these Regulations, developers are required to display sanctioned plans and layout plans of at least 3 feet X 2 feet size at all marketing offices, other offices where properties are sold, all branch offices and head office of the promoters in addition to the site of project. Real Estate Regulatory Authorities may take decisions on all issues preferably through consensus failing which through voting with Chairman using Casting Vote in case of a tie. There shall be quorum for the meetings of the Regulatory Authorities and if a meeting is adjourned due to lack of such quorum, such meeting can take place without quorum. Members of Regulatory Authorities shall declare interest if any in the matters coming up for discussion and shall not participate there in.

Some of the major provisions of the Act, besides mandatory registration of projects and Real Estate Agents include:

1.Depositing 70% of the funds collected from buyers in a separate bank account in case of new projects and 70% of unused funds in case of ongoing projects;

2. Projects with plot size of minimum 500 sq.mt or 8 apartments shall be registered with Regulatory Authorities;

3.Both developers and buyers to pay the same penal interest of SBIs Marginal Cost of Lending Rate plus 2% in case of delays;

4.Liability of developers for structural defects for five years; and

5. Imprisonment of up to three years for developers and up to one year in case of agents and buyers for violation of orders of Appellate Tribunals and Regulatory Authorities.

Further to several rounds of consultations, the Ministry of HUPA has made several and substantial changes in the Real Estate Bill that was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2013 to make the final Act more effective towards promotion of the sector.

At the time of passing of the Bill in Rajya Sabha in March last year, there were 76,044 companies were operating in the real estate sector including 17,431 in Delhi, 17,010 in West Bengal, 11,160 in Maharashtra, 7,136 in Uttar Pradesh, 3,054 in Rajasthan, 3,004 in Tamil Nadu, 2,261 in Karnataka, 2,211 in Telangana, 2,121 in Haryana, 1,956 in Madhya Pradesh, 1,270 in Kerala, 1,202 in Punjab and I,006 in Odisha.

As per industry information, between 2011 and 2015, real estate projects in the range of 2,349 to 4,488 projects were launched every year amounting to a total of 17,526 projects with a total investment of Rs.13.70 lakh cr in 27 cities including 15 State capitals. About ten lakh buyers invest every year with the dream of owning a house.

Chronology of events leading to regulation of real estate sector including both residential and commercial segments from May 1, 2017:

1.May,2008: Ministry of HUPA first prepared a Concept Paper on regulation of real estate sector and a model law for legislation by States/UTs;

2. Conference of Ministers of Housing in 2011 suggested a central law for regulation of real estate sector;

3.July, 2011: Ministry of Law & Justice too suggested central legislation for regulation;

4. June,2013: Union Cabinet approved Real Estate Bill, 2013

5. August, 2013: Real Estate Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha and was referred to Standing Committee;

6. February, 2014: Report of Standing Committee was laid on the Tables of both Houses of Parliament;

7. February, 2014: Attorney General upheld validity of central law for regulation of the sector

8. April,2015: Union Cabinet approved official amendments based on recommendations of Standing Committee;

9. May, 2015: Matter referred to the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha

10. July, 2015: Report of Select Committee tabled in Rajya Sabha

11. December, 2015: Real Estate Bill, 2015 incorporating several modifications based on Select

Committee report and stakeholder consultations was approved by the Union Cabinet;

12. March 10, 2016: The Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Bill, 2016 passed by Rajya Sabha;

13. March 15, 2016: Lok Sabha passed the Bill as passed by Rajya Sabha;

14. March 25, 2016: President gives assent to the Bill;

15. April 26, 2016: 59 Sections of the Act were notified making them effective from May 1, 2016 enabling preparation of Real Estate Rules, setting up of Regulatory Authorities and other infrastructure;

16. April 19, 2017: Remaining 32 Sections of the Act notified making them effective from May 1st this year requiring registration of projects within three months from tomorrow.

17. May 1, 2017: New era begins for development of real estate sector in an atmosphere of investor confidence.

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Tariff Notification in respect of Fixation of Tariff Value of Edible Oils, Brass Scrap, Poppy Seeds, Areca Nut, Gold and Sliver
Apr 28,2017

In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 14 of the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of 1962), the Central Board of Excise & Customs, being satisfied that it is necessary and expedient so to do, hereby makes the following amendment in the notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue), No. 36/2001-Customs (N.T.), dated the 3rd August, 2001, published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part-II, Section-3, Sub-section (ii), vide number S. O. 748 (E), dated the 3rd August, 2001, namely:-

In the said notification, for TABLE-1, TABLE-2, and TABLE-3 the following Tables shall be substituted namely:-

TABLE-1

Sl. No.

Chapter/ heading/ sub-heading/tariff item

Description of goods

Tariff value
(US $Per Metric Tonne)

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

1

1511 10 00

Crude Palm Oil

702

2

1511 90 10

RBD Palm Oil

722

3

1511 90 90

Others- Palm Oil

712

4

1511 10 00

Crude Palmolein

738

5

1511 90 20

RBD Palmolein

741

6

1511 90 90

Others Gô Palmolein

740

7

1507 10 00

Crude Soya bean Oil

780

8

7404 00 22

Brass Scrap (all grades)

3199

9

1207 91 00

Poppy seeds

2510

TABLE-2

Sl. No.

Chapter/ heading/ sub-heading/tariff item

 

Description of goods

Tariff value
(US $)

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

 

 

1

71 or 98

Gold, in any form, in respect of which the benefit of entries at serial number 321 and 323 of the Notification No. 12/2012-Customs dated 17.03.2012 is availed

410 per 10 grams

 

 

2

71 or 98

Silver, in any form, in respect of which the benefit of entries at serial number 322 and 324 of the Notification No. 12/2012-Customs dated 17.03.2012 is availed

568 per kilogram

TABLE-3

Sl. No.

Chapter/ heading/ sub-heading/tariff item

Description of goods

Tariff value
(US $ Per Metric Tonne )

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

1

080280

Areca nuts

2682

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Ind-Ra: Rupee Appreciation Credit Neutral for Borrowing Exporters
Apr 28,2017

Despite the Indian rupee appreciating over 5% this year against the dollar the credit profile of net borrowing exporters remains stable, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). This is because nearly 85% have a low to moderate sensitivity or benefit positively from such appreciation. Further, most of the exporters have low leverage levels and are thus able to mitigate any negative impact on their credit profiles.

Exporters also benefit from their low exposure to FX debt of INR2.8 trillion (total FX debt of 100 corporates INR8.1 trillion) and low FX trade exposure (imports plus exports) of INR2.6 trillion (total FX trade of 100 corporates INR11.4 trillion) as of FYE16. However, it is possible given the depreciating bias which was prevalent in December 2016, the hedging practices may have titled towards unhedged exposures and the recent appreciation could provide negative surprises, more than anticipated. Exporters had around 50% of their debt hedged and less than 20% of FX trade exposure hedged in FY16, this trend is estimated to remain unchanged even in FY17.

While operating profits of exporters are likely to be marginally (2% fall from a 5% rupee appreciation) impacted, Ind-Ra expects a pick-up in merchandise exports driven by the recovery in global commodity prices, better demand conditions in the United States and the EU reflected in the improving consumption will aid to overall export growth.

Ind-Ra believes exporting sectors namely, pharma, IT, textile, auto and gems and jewellery are unlikely to have a significant impact on the credit profiles from the rupee appreciation given the low FX exposure of INR2.2 trillion (11% of total INR19.5 trillion). However, these sectors have hedged FX debt of up to 25% (except auto which has 82% hedged FX debt) and hedged trade of up to 56%. Ind-Ra believes a sustained currency appreciation can negatively impact the operating profitability for these sectors due to the unhedged trade exposure of up to 44% . Amongst the importing sectors, oil and gas benefits from a natural hedge and holds maximum FX exposure (INR9.3 trillion), followed by metal and mining (FX exposure of INR2.6 trillion). For oil and gas and metals and mining sectors the debt hedged is 13% and 62%, while trade hedged is 43% and 26%, respectively.

The assumption takes into account the impact on corporates balance sheets due to rupee appreciation from INR66.3/USD as of March 2016. The agency notes that of the 100 FX corporate borrowers analysed, 61 provided disaggregated information regarding year-end (FY16) FX debt, receivables and payables. However, for the remaining 39 entities, the agency has made suitable assumptions on account of lack of availability of information. Lack of complete and reasonable information dissemination emerged as the major challenge of the study, reinforcing the need for superior reporting standards.

While the rupee has shown appreciation some correction from here on cannot be ruled out and thus Ind-Ra in its report Corporates Unprepared for Managing Foreign Exchange (FX) Risk; 64% of Exposure Unhedged analysed the impact on the credit profile of the top 100 listed and unlisted external commercial borrowers (ECB) on account of FX risk in the event of 10% rupee depreciation. Of these 100 FX borrowers, 69 are net importers while 31 are net exporters.

The credit profile of 60 of the 69 net importers could be negatively impacted, of which 36 have a high negative sensitivity to rupee depreciation. Most importers have high leverage levels and are likely to be negatively impacted due to their high FX debt of INR5.3 trillion and FX trade of INR8.8 trillion. The agency believes prohibitively expensive cost of hedging dollar liabilities compared to thin EBITDA margins could weaken the credit profiles of importers in a depreciating rupee environment. On an aggregate basis, importers have 30% of their debt hedged and 42% of trade hedged.

Ind-Ra believes that while the impact of a depreciating currency is likely to be much more negative than that of an appreciating currency, volatility of the currency could provide greater surprises on both sides. Given the macro fundamentals and the capital flows, Ind-Ra does not expect the volatility to be the order of the day.

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Fitch Upgrades Tata Motors to BB+; Outlook Stable
Apr 28,2017

Fitch Ratings has upgraded India-based Tata Motors Limiteds (TML) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to BB+ from BB. The Outlook is Stable.

The upgrade reflects the sustained improvement in TMLs Indian automotive business over the last two years, supported by growing commercial vehicle volumes, successful new product launches in the passenger vehicle segment, as well as the managements renewed focus on meeting medium-term capital needs in its Indian operations via internally generated funds. We expect TML will continue to grow its India business and capture more market share over the medium-term. TMLs rating also reflects its 100% subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover Automotive plcs (JLR, BB+/Stable) strong credit profile. JLRs EBITDA accounted for close to 85% of TMLs consolidated EBITDA in the fiscal year ended on 31 March 2016 (FY16).

KEY RATING DRIVERS

Recovering Indian Operation: TMLs renewed focus on passenger vehicles in the last two years has translated into successful launches in the segment. For example, the launch of the Tata Tiago in April 2016 drove double-digit volume growth in TMLs passenger-vehicle segment for 9MFY17. TMLs commercial-vehicle divisions reported more muted volume growth of about 1% over the same period (FY16: 3%) as the Indian governments demonetisation of large notes at the end of 2016 took a toll on demand. We expect demand for commercial vehicles to improve in the next 12-18 months supported by improving economic activity. TMLs Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicle business has historically been a strong performer, and boasts a domestic market share of more than 50%.

Strong Growth in JLR: JLR reported strong volume growth of 17% yoy in 9MFY17, underpinned by strong contribution from the new Jaguar F-PACE, which offset the decline in the Land Rover Discovery and discontinuation of the Land Rover Defender over the same period. We expect JLRs Land Rover products - mainly luxury SUVs - to continue to benefit from robust demand in both developed and developing markets. JLRs launch of the new Jaguar XE and F-PACE fill in important gaps in JLRs product portfolio. JLRs strategy to target high-end customers with premium products resulted in higher EBITDA margin than its rating peers, who have a higher mix of mass-market offerings.

High Capex, Strong Financials: We expect TML to invest around GBP3.2 billion in JLR in FY17 to fund capacity expansion, engine manufacturing, vehicle architecture and new technologies to meet carbon emission requirements. The investments include a new manufacturing facility for JLR in Slovakia with an initial capacity of 150,000 units that is targeted for completion by 2018. These are likely to contribute to negative FCF in FY17, despite improving cash flows from operations. TML will also have about INR40 billion of annual capex for its Indian business, mainly for new launches of passenger vehicles. We expect TMLs financial profile to remain strong over the medium term in spite of the high capex, supported by improving operating cash flows and the INR74.3 billion rights issue in FY16. We expect TMLs leverage (net adjusted debt/EBITDAR) to remain around 1.0x over the medium term (FY16: 0.5x; FY15: 0.8x).

Strategic Importance to TSOL: TMLs rating continues to benefit from a one notch uplift on account of the moderate linkages with its stronger shareholder Tata Sons Limited (TSOL), as defined in Fitchs Parent and Subsidiary Rating Linkage criteria. Fitch believes TSOL is likely to continue to extend support TML, if required, given the latters strategic importance to the Tata group, and the reputational risk arising from the shared Tata brand. For example, TSOL subscribed in full to its share of TMLs INR74.3 billion rights issue in FY16, and has provided financial support to TML in the past. Any weakening of linkages between the group and TML, or deterioration in the groups ability to provide support is likely to affect the ratings negatively.

DERIVATION SUMMARY

TMLs standalone rating of BB is well-positioned relative to peers in each major metric. TMLs standalone rating is one-notch lower than that of Peugeot S.A. (BB+/Stable). TML has a more premium product offering, through JLR, for which demand has generally been less cyclical compared with those of competitors offering mass-market products, such as Peugeot. This is counterbalanced by Peugeots considerably larger operating scale and its stronger financial profile. TMLs premium product offering versus that of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (BB-/Positive) counterbalances its smaller operating scale, resulting in a higher standalone rating for TML.

We assess TMLs linkages with its stronger shareholder TSOL to be moderate as defined in our criteria, driven by TMLs strategic importance to TSOL, which is evident in the tangible support that TSOL has extended through equity injections. Consequently, we apply a one notch uplift to TMLs standalone profile.

KEY ASSUMPTIONS

Fitchs key assumptions within our rating case for the issuer include:

- JLR continues to report volume growth of about 7%-8% over FY17-FY20 and EBITDA margin stabilises at around 14% due to increasing economies of scale as volumes grow, and a focus on in-house R&D and key components procurement.

-India operations to see sustained volume growth, but EBITDA margin to remain at around 3%-4% because of intense competition in passenger vehicles, and rising raw material and marketing costs.

- Capex / revenue of 12%-14% in FY17 and FY18

- Maximum annual dividend payment estimated at INR7.0 billion for FY17-FY20

RATING SENSITIVITIES

Future Developments That May, Individually or Collectively, Lead toPositive Rating Action

- We do not expect any positive rating action in the medium term as it takes time for the group to increase scale to a level that is similar with its global peers. Positive rating action may result if the TML group materially increases the volume and breadth of its products, while maintaining profitability and a strong financial profile.

Future Developments That May, Individually or Collectively, Lead to Negative Rating Action

-A weakening of linkages between the Tata Group and TML

-Consolidated net adjusted debt /EBITDAR (excluding TMLs auto financing subsidiary Tata Motors Finance Limited) exceeding 1.5x on a long-term basis due to weaker sales or profitability (either at TML or JLR ), or due to higher than expected debt-funded investments

Liquidity

Healthy Liquidity: TMLs readily available cash balance of INR505.2 billion at 31 March 2016 and undrawn committed banking facilities of INR339.4 billion were adequate to meet INR171.9 billion of debt maturing in FY17 and FY18. We expect available liquidity to comfortably cover projected negative FCF of around INR74 billion in FY17.

JLR had cash and financial deposits of GBP3.8 billion and undrawn committed bank lines of GBP1.9 billion at end-2016.

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Over 21 lakh LED Street Lights installed across India under Street Light National Programme
Apr 28,2017

Under the Government of Indias Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) over 21 lakh conventional street lights have been replaced with LED street lights across the country. The newly installed lights have led to brighter streets, feeling of enhanced safety and security among the residents and motorists. Energy Efficiency Services Limited, a Public Energy Services Company under the administration of Ministry of Power, Government of India (GoI) is the implementing agency for SLNP.

The installation of LED street lights has resulted in 295 million unit kWh, avoided capacity of over 73 MW and reduction of 2.3 lakh tonnes of CO2 annually. The project has been implemented across 23 states and union territories. The lighting level on roads have increased significantly after the replacement. The highest replacement of LED lights has happened in the followingstates:

State

Number of Street Lights

Energy Saved per year (kWh)

Rajasthan7,04,89199,054,808Andhra Pradesh5,86,03782,352,849Delhi2,64,18537,124,579Gujarat2,00,53628,180,321Goa94,85613,329,639

EESL is also implementing a special heritage lighting project, wherein 1000 LED street lights have been installed in Kashi region of Uttar Pradesh, and another 4000 lights are being installed.

The procurement price of the LED Street Lights has been reduced from Rs. 135/watt to Rs. 80/watt due to mass procurement of the lights. EESL makes the entire upfront investment in installation of the Street Lights and no additional budget allocation from the Municipalities is required. Municipalities pay EESL from the savings in energy and maintenance cost over a 7 year period, making the LED lights affordable and accessible. EESL also undertakes social audits in all states post the completion of the project.

EESL procurements conform to BIS specification & carry a 7 year warranty against technical defects. EESL conducts appropriate quality checks right from the bidding stage to the field level. This has resulted in the LEDs overall technical fault being less than 1% in the 21 lakh lights installed by EESL in the country. EESL has maintained an uptime of 95% for all street lights across the country.

Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi launched 100 cities National Programme on 5th January 2015 to convert conventional street and domestic lights with energy efficient LED lights. Under Street Light National Programme (SLNP), Government aims to replace 1.34 crore conventional street lights with energy efficient LED lights.

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New campaign gives fillip to Tourism in Rajasthan
Apr 28,2017

In the year 2016 the arrival of the number of tourists to Rajasthan seems encouraging with around 18 percent increase in the domestic tourist arrivals and around 3 percent in the foreign tourist arrivals. This statistics was quoted by Mr. NC Goel, Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism, Government of Rajasthan in his inaugural address at Great Indian Travel Bazaar (GITB) in Jaipur recently. The current trends in this year already indicate a quantum jump in the arrival of the tourists to the State. The new campaign is being credited for giving a fillip to the arrival of tourists. This marketing campaign was necessitated once it was realized that the tourist flow was stagnating owing to economic downturn, lesser variety of destinations as well as the entertainment facility in these destinations. Furthermore, the tourist destinations had become crowded, there was stiff competition from the neighbouring States and weak infrastructure in certain pockets. It was also realized that the urban Indian middle class was willing to spend on experiences. The State Tourism Department also perceived that there were changing preferences in the modes of communication with the preferred mode being the digital. The Government was also alive to the fact that road, rail and air infrastructure will have to be geared up and on these factors was designed the current creative print, electronic, digital and social media campaign of the Rajasthan Tourism.

Rajasthan, despite its strong and appealing tourism products had slipped from the top 5 States - after having been among the top 5 for several decades. The visit of the foreign tourists to the State decreased. However, following a national trend the arrival of the domestic tourists kept increasing.

The planned manner in which Rajasthan is now being presented as a tourist destination can be gauged by a major change on overall strategy, focus, centre-state relationship, increase in number of destinations as well attractions, unconventional experiences, social media boost and targeted intervention. For instance, earlier, the strategy for marketing Rajasthan was destination specific while now it is pre-dominantly theme specific. Similarly, the focus from being on heritage and legacy has now changed to a variety of tourism offering with proper segments defined and new products introduced. There is now a well coordinated and concerted action between the State and Centre agencies.

While earlier, there were 149 tourist spots across 13 destinations; there are now 25 major destinations with 30 forts, 39 palaces, 16 museums, 13 wildlife sanctuaries, 25 fairs and festivals, 8 types of adventure tourism across 11 locations and as many as 128 religious locations.

The report further reveals that Rajasthan now has umpteen unconventional experiences while there were only a handful earlier. The social media was a big zilch for marketing tourism while now it is an aggressive and integral part of the marketing plan. There is now also a well defined plan with targeted intervention while earlier it relied too much on word of mouth.

The focus of promoting Rajasthan as a tourism destination is now through new concepts, identifying and developing new destinations, strengthening the infrastructure, encouraging private investment, increasing connectivity and an aggressive marketing campaign.

The State economy, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in excess of 12% for the period 2005-06 to 2015-16 has a considerable contribution from the tourism sector. The tertiary sector, of which tourism is a part, contributes approximately 48% to the State economy and is growing at a CAGR of 17.3% for the period under consideration, reveals the report.

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EPF members now required to submit self-declaration for advance in case of illness of members/ dependents
Apr 28,2017

EPF members will now only be required to submit a self-declaration for the advance in case of illness of members/ dependents. Differently abled members will also get advance on the basis of self-declaration. A member will no longer be required to submit any medical certificate or any other certificate or document or proforma whatsoever to avail advances under paragraph 68-J or under paragraph 68-N of EPF Scheme 1952.

Ministry of Labour & Employment has amended Paragraph 68-J and Paragraph 68-N of Employees Provident Fund Scheme, 1952 and It will come into force from the date of its publication in the official Gazette. According to it, a member would only be required to submit a self-declaration, which has already been included in the composite claim form, to avail advance under the EPF Scheme in case of illness of members/ dependent and also in case of differently abled members.

This is in continuation of initiatives taken by EPFO as part of next phase of its e-governance reforms with a view to make the services of EPFO available to its stakeholder in an efficient and transparent manner. An administrative order was issued on 20.02.2017 in the matter of Introduction of Composite Claim Forms (Aadhar and Non-Aadhar ) to replace existing Claim Forms No. 19, 10C & 31 and Forms No. 19 (UAN), 10C(UAN) & 31 (UAN). EPFO has since implemented Universal Account Number (UAN) for its subscribers. It is now possible for subscribers, who have seeded their UAN with Aadhar Number and Bank account details, to submit claim forms directly to EPFO without the attestation of employers.

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Indian Industry needs to develop transformative solutions to meet the countrys development needs: President of India
Apr 28,2017

Honble President of India urged Indian Industry to leverage CSR to re-imagine interventions and transformative solutions to address the large development challenges across India.

The President of India observed that the CSR legislation enhances the scale and scope of social programmes by Industry. He highlighted that industry CSR programs are extensive, including education, healthcare, and rural development, among others. Special outreach is being made for gender empowerment, differently abled citizens, and childrens issues.

The President added that given the magnitude of the challenges before our country and the relatively short time available to address them, it was important to collaborate to achieve scale and deliver solutions to complex social problems.

Mr Rahul Bajaj has played a key role in increasing India Incs global footprint and has led Indian industry through turbulent times. This Award is the highest recognition Indian industry accords members, and bears testimony to the personal integrity and leadership qualities of the recipient.

Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice President, CII stated that the CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Program is a key initiative that promotes womens empowerment at the community level, by discovering, recognizing and supporting grassroot women who rose beyond their limitations, and positively impacted their community. He added that the program supports and strengthens the women leaders through capacity building and a year-long mentoring process to help them scale. The program aspires to create a national level network of grassroots change agents, inspire and create many more, and induce a bottom up approach of women empowerment.

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An additional annual production capacity of 75 LMT would be created making India self-reliant in meeting the annual domestic demand of fertilizer
Apr 27,2017

The revival of the fertilizer projects, Gorakhpur, Barauni, Sindri and Talcher, an additional annual production capacity of 75 LMT would be created making India self-reliant in meeting the annual domestic demand of around 320 LMT, from being a net importer currently. Financial allocations and the ground level work would start in 2017 and the five plants would become fully functional by 2020-21, said Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar. He presided over a Joint review meeting on revival plans for closed fertilizer projects under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

Shri Kumar said that for realising Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modis vision of Fertilizer Security for Food Security, the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, in coordination with Ministries of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Power & Coal, is following a two-pronged strategy. This strategy includes existing fertilizer capacity augmentation by increasing the efficiency of the plants and revival of closed fertilizer projects. Shri Kumar mentioned that there has been highest ever production of urea, 245 LMT, in the country in the previous year without incurring any additional cost and utilising the existing capacity. He further mentioned that the 100% Neem Coating Urea has increased the per granule efficiency of urea by decreasing demand by 10% and increasing the yield by 10%.

Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas in the revival plan, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan said that a massive investment to the tune of Rs. 50,000 crores is being undertaken for revival of closed fertilizer plants and setting up of gas pipeline network to connect Eastern India to the National Gas Grid. Production from these four major Fertilizer plants will ensure enhanced domestic fertilizer production and availability which will give an impetus to the vital agricultural sector there by aiding the Second Green Revolution, he added.

Shri Pradhan informed that the progress of the construction of the pipeline network in eastern India, including the 2,650 km Jagdishpur-Haldia & Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline, popularly known as Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga, and the 50 LMT Dhamra LNG terminal was reviewed in the meeting. A total investment of Rs. 13,000 crores for the pipeline and of Rs 6,000 crores for Dhamra LNG terminal is going to be undertaken, he added.

The Minister said that this pipeline network would provide uninterrupted feedstock linkage to the revived fertilizer plants, wherein Gorakhpur, Barauni and Sindri plants would be natural gas based and Talcher would be coal gasification technology based, for which coal linkages have already been provided. Shri Pradhan added that the foundation stones for the five fertilizer plants would be laid down post monsoon this year and would be completed by 2020-21.

The Talcher Unit is being revived by a consortium of PSUs namely Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers (RCF), Gas Authority of India (GAIL), Coal India Ltd. (CIL) and FCIL by investing Rs. 8,000 crores. Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL), CIL & National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) have registered a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) by name Hindustan Urvarak & Rasayan Limited (HURL) for revival of closed urea plants of FCIL at Gorakhpur and Sindri and of Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation of India Ltd. (HFCL) at Barauni, by an investment of Rs. 20,000 crores. An Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) has also been constituted to oversee the revival process.

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Moodys: Low interest rates pose risks to global insurance industrys profitability despite recent rise
Apr 27,2017

Low global interest rates will continue to pressure insurers profitability and potentially solvency, especially in Taiwan, as well as in Germany and Norway, says Moodys Investors Service in a report. This is despite a rise in rates since the third quarter of 2016 and a less likely global low for long scenario.

We expect the investment income of the global life insurance industry to decline by USD20-40 billion in 2017, says Benjamin Serra, Vice President and Senior Credit Officer at Moodys. The impact on life insurers profits will be more limited though, as this decline will be largely shared with policyholders.

Global non-life insurers investment income will also likely decline in 2017, with Moodys estimating a drop of around USD5-15 billion. In contrast to life insurers, non-life insurers cannot share this decline with policyholders. The drop in investment income will directly reduce the global non-life industrys net result by 5%-10%.

A global prolonged low rates scenario is now less likely but it nevertheless remains a key risk for life insurers. Moodys believes that Taiwan is one of the most exposed markets, as is Germany and Norway.

The rating agency now also considers China to be at higher risk, moving it from the low risk category to the moderate risk category. This reflects a strong growth of products with higher guarantees in the last two years, notably following the pricing liberalization of participating products in October 2015.

Chinese insurers are also generally running a large duration gap of around seven to ten years, and therefore Chinese insurers have become more vulnerable to interest rate risk. Nonetheless, Moodys considers that Chinese insurers still have a high ability to reduce credited rates.

A sudden increase in interest rates, though not Moodys central scenario, could also hurt life insurers by triggering a sudden increase in surrenders and forcing insurers to realise investment losses. This is the case in some Asian countries.

Despite increasing sales of protection products in recent years, savings products constitute a large part of insurers balance sheets in countries such as China, Taiwan and South Korea, and some of these products offer little protection features, explains Mr. Serra. Should there be a sharp increase in rates, we view the surrender risk as relatively high in China, notably because of the rapid growth in savings products, which include only limited surrender penalties for policies older than three to five years.

In South Korea, surrender penalties and relatively high guaranteed rates reduce the surrender risk, although there are no surrender penalties after seven years.

In Japan, on the other hand, as in the US, high product diversification would mitigate the increase in surrenders, says Moodys. Many insurers in Japan, for example, include higher surrender penalties for products that include limited protection features or that are sold through non-proprietary banking channels.

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Micro and Small Enterprise Facilitation Council (MSEFC) Portal and MyMSME Mobile App launched
Apr 27,2017

M. Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting launched two important initiatives of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Ministry of MSME), viz. Micro and Small Enterprises Facilitation Council (MSEFC) portal and MyMSME Mobile App.

Kalraj Mishra, speaking on the occasion, said that Micro and Small Enterprises Facilitation Council (MSEFC) portal on http://msefc.msme.gov.in, would facilitate implementation of the delayed payment provisions of the MSMED Act 2006 and also assist in monitoring of delayed payment cases. This online platform is expected to be a significant step in the direction of Digital India from the perspective of the MSME Sector in the country. With the access to this platform, micro and small enterprises would be able to file their delayed payment related grievances online. The grievance filed would be communicated through email and SMS to the parties involved. It would also help officers of the Ministry of MSME as well as the State Government concerned in monitoring the progress of cases both at the State and National levels. He also informed that most of the States have already uploaded the information regarding delayed payment cases on MSEFC portal. As on 31 March 2017, 3690 cases involving an amount of Rs.1660 crore are being considered by various MSEFCs. In fact, the online portal would be of great help to start-ups since delayed payment is probably the single biggest problem for start-ups.

In addition, the MyMSME mobile app on http://my.msme.gov.in, also launched by M. Venkaiah Naidu, provides information on all schemes implemented by the Ministry of MSME at one place. The MSME units have had always been complaining that information on all schemes were not available at a single place. Such a compilation is certainly the need of the hour so as to ensure that entrepreneurs need not be searching multiple windows for help or information. With the help of MyMSME mobile app Ministry of MSME would be providing one single window to MSMEs to access information on all schemes implemented by the Ministry and as well as apply for any of them. And MSMEs can also lodge grievances pertaining to Ministry of MSME through this app.

Prime Minister has recently spoken about the need for moving forward to M-Governance (Mobile Governance) from e-Governance, on the occasion of the Civil Services Day celebrations. This mobile app has enabled the MSME Sector to usher in the era of M-Governance.

Union Minister of State for MSME Haribhai Choudhary stated that the Ministry has embarked on the journey to make every scheme online. He stated that MSME Internet grievance monitoring system has already resolved the grievances of more than 3000 persons.

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PEs/VCs backed firms to offer exit options to promoter funds, via IPO, M&As: ASSOCHAM-Deloitte
Apr 27,2017

Many private - equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) backed companies are expected to tap into the capital market this year, even as mergers and acquisitions (M&As) have emerged as another favourable exit route for the PEs and VCs in India, according to an ASSOCHAM-Deloitte Study.

The PE-backed companies are expected to tap into the capital markets in 2017, giving opportunities for the exit of the private equity funds from the ventures funded earlier. Examples include a planned USD 600 million IPO by a non-renewable energy firm which has been financed by a global private equity major. Likewise, a major stock exchange is proposing a USD 600 million IPO offering full or partial exits to more than six private equity investors.

There are many other large and mid-sized listings of PE-backed companies that are planned in 2017, said the ASSOCHAM-Deloitte joint paper.

Also the rising trend of M&As as a favourable exit option is likely to continue in the near future, it said, adding consolidation, restructuring and asset sales are expected from Indian companies which are highly leveraged. n++This is expected to influence the rise of M&A activity in India. Moreover, M&A activity in India is also expected to be fuelled by foreign players looking at a foothold in the Indian market and an increasing preference for inorganic entry. Private equity funds will closely eye this opportunity to use M&As to exit their investmentsn++.

Historically, IPOs have not been amongst the most favoured exit routes for private equity funds in India. Compared to China, where historical and academic research30 has proven that IPOs are the more prevalent exit channel, M&As have been more dominant in India.

This is despite the fact traditionally, it has been easier for Indian companies to get listed in India than in China (including Hong Kong). At present, there are about 1,800 companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and there are just over 1,000 listings on the Shanghai Stock Exchange compared to over 4,000 active listed companies on the Bombay Stock Exchange in India.

The year 2016 marked a slowdown in the private equity and venture capital investment activity in India, but trends towards the end of 2016 and early 2017 indicate a strong growth outlook. n++With the underlying India growth story intact, deal activity is expected to continue on an upward journey. Private equity and venture capital firms are also raising funds and gearing up to invest in India,n++ said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat.

Private equity exits, on the other hand, have witnessed a steady growth in exits in value terms. With M&A activity reaching a five-year high of USD 61 billion in 2016 courtesy a bagful of multi-billion dollar deals, M&As have emerged as the most favourable route for PE exits.

Continued global interest in India, and consolidation and debt-reduction by Indian companies, is expected to offer M&A exit opportunities to PE/VC funds in the future, too. Equity capital markets, particularly IPO listings, have also seen robust activity, lending a bullish outlook to IPOs as an exit route for existing private equity investors.

Secondary sales and open market exits would also continue to be amongst the key exit routes for private equity and venture capital investors. If trends in the first three months of 2017 are an indication, open market exits will continue to account for a lions share of private equity exits.

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PM launches UDAN - Regional Connectivity Scheme for Civil Aviation - from Shimla
Apr 27,2017

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, launched UDAN - the Regional Connectivity Scheme for civil aviation, from Shimla Airport. Under this scheme, flights have begun today from Shimla, Nanded and Kadapa Airports.

The Prime Minister also unveiled an e-plaque to mark the laying of Foundation Stone of a Hydro Engineering College at Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh.

The Prime Minister addressed the gathering at Shimla Airport, and also at Nanded and Kadapa via video link.

He said the lives of the middle class are being transformed, and their aspirations are rising. He said that given the right chance, they can do wonders. He added that the aviation sector in India is filled with opportunity. Mentioning the scheme name - UDAN - Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik - he said that aviation was once considered the domain of a select few, but that has changed now. He said the new civil aviation policy marks an opportunity to cater to the aspirations of the people of India. He said Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities are becoming growth engines, and enhanced aviation connectivity between them will be beneficial. He said the UDAN scheme will help the tourism sector in Himachal Pradesh.

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