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Cabinet approves phasing out Foreign Investment Promotion Board
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the phasing out of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The proposal entails abolishing the FIPB and allowing administrative Ministries/Departments to process applications for FDI requiring government approval.

Henceforth, the work relating to processing of applications for FDI and approval of the Government thereon under the extant FDI Policy and FEMA, shall now be handled by the concerned Ministries/Departments in consultation with the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion(DIPP), Ministry of Commerce, which will also issue the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for processing of applications and decision of the Government under the extant FDI policy.

In addition, Foreign Investors will find India more attractive destination and this will result in more inflow of FDI. The move will provide ease of doing business and will help in promoting the principle of Maximum Governance and Minimum Government.

Background

The proposal for abolition of FIPB was approved by the Cabinet in its meeting on 24-05-2017. Presently, applications are considered by FIPB in Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance comprising of various Secretaries of Government of India for making recommendation on FDI applications. After the Cabinet decision, it would be handled independently by Administrative Ministries as per Sector.

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Cabinet approves Raising of Bonds of Rs. 2360 crores for Renewable Energy
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to Raising of Bonds of Rs. 2360 crores for Renewable Energy.

The Bonds will be raised by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) through the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) during the 2017-18. These funds will be used by MNRE in the approved programmes/schemes for solar park, green energy corridor, generation-based incentives for wind projects, CPSU and defence solar projects, viability gap funding for solar projects, roof-top solar, off-grid/grid-distributed and decentralized renewable power, investment in corporations and autonomous bodies etc. Such timely investment would boost infrastructure in renewable sector and facilitate achievement of ambitious targets for the renewable energy sector. The resources raised would be used for developing additional capacity in renewable energy sector which would result in generation of additional employment.

Background

The Government had declared additional finance mobilization of Rs. 31,300 crore bonds through NHAI, PFC, REC, IREDA and IWAI in the budget for FYT 2016-17. As a part of this, the Government had allocated Rs. 4000 crores to IREDA to raise n++GOI fully serviced taxable Bondsn++ on behalf of the MNRE during the FY 2016-17. Out of this allocation, IREDA had raised Rs. 1640 crores as per the requirement of MNRE. The MNRE subsequently approached the Cabinet, to approve raising of the balance Rs. 2360 crores in the year 2016-17.

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Cabinet apprised of MoU between India and Bangladesh on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bangladesh on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. The MoU was signed at New Delhi in April, 2017.

This MoU shall enable the areas of cooperation such as, space science, technology and applications including remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication and satellite based navigation; Space science and planetary exploration; use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system; and application of space technology.

The MoU would lead to set up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from Department of Space/ Indian Space Research Organisation (DOS/ISRO), and the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC), which will further work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementing this MoU.

It will provide impetus to explore newer research activities and application possibilities in the field of remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication; satellite navigation; space science and exploration of outer space.

Financing of works carried out under this MoU shall be provided by the respective executive organisation with due consideration of national norms and rules concerning budgetary regulations in force in their respective States and within the limits of available resources. Joint projects and works carried out under this MoU depending on the type and field of activity shall be on non-commercial or commercial basis and shall be executed either without mutual payments or on the basis of compensatory arrangements or contracts.

The MoU would lead to develop a joint activity in the field of application of space technologies for the benefit of humanity. Thus all sections and regions of the country will get benefited.

Background:

India and Bangladesh have expressed interest to cooperate with each other in the area of space. Accordingly, a template of framework MoU for space cooperation was provided to Indian High Commission to Bangladesh & MEA in August 2016 for further processing at Government level, for which Bangladesh side has given its concurrence in December 2016. Accordingly, an MoU between India and Bangladesh on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, signed at New Delhi on April 08, 2017.

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Cabinet approves policy for providing preference to Make in India in Government procurements
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a policy for providing preference to Make in India in government procurements. The new policy will give a substantial boost to domestic manufacturing and service provision, thereby creating employment. It will also stimulate the flow of capital and technology into domestic manufacturing and services. It will also provide a further thrust towards manufacture of parts, components, sub-components etc. of these items, in line with the vision of Make in India.

The new policy is the reflection of the Government of India to encourage Make in India and promote manufacturing and production of goods and services in India with a view to enhancing income and employment. Procurement by the Government is substantial in amount and can contribute towards this policy objective. Local content can be increased through partnerships, cooperation with local companies, establishing production units in India or Joint Ventures (JV) with Indian suppliers, increasing the participation of local employees in services and by training them.

Details:

The policy will be implemented through an Order pursuant to Rule 153(iii) of the General Financial Rules, 2017 to provide purchase preference (linked with local content) in Government procurements. Under the policy, preference in Government procurement will be given to local suppliers. Local suppliers are those whose goods or services meet prescribed minimum thresholds (ordinarily 50%) for local content. Local content is essentially domestic value addition.

In procurement of goods for Rs. 50 lakhs and less, and where the Nodal Ministry determines that there is sufficient local capacity and local competition, only local suppliers will be eligible.

For procurements valued at more than Rs. 50 lakhs (or where there is insufficient local capacity/ competition) if the lowest bid is not from a non-local supplier, the lowest-cost local supplier who is within a margin of 20% of the lowest bid, will be given the opportunity to match the lowest bid. If the procurement is of a type that the order can be divided and given to more than one supplier, the non-local supplier who is the lowest bidder will get half of the order and the local supplier will get the other half if it agrees to match the price of the lowest bid. If the procurement cannot be divided, then the lowest cost local supplier will be given the order if it agrees to match the lowest bid.

Small purchases of less than Rs.5 lakhs are exempted. The order also covers autonomous bodies, government companies/ entities under the governments control.

The policy also requires that specifications in tenders must not be restrictive e.g. should not require proof of supply in other countries or proof of exports in respect of previous experience. They must not result in unreasonable exclusion of local suppliers who would otherwise be eligible, beyond what is essential for ensuring quality or creditworthiness of the supplier.

The policy lays down a procedure for verification of local content relying primarily on self-certification. There will be penal consequences for false declarations. In some cases, verification by statutory / cost auditors etc. will be required.

A Standing Committee in Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion will oversee the implementation of this order and issues arising therefrom, and make recommendations to Nodal Ministries and procuring entities.

The policy has been developed keeping in view the core principles of procurement including competitiveness and adhering to sound procurement practices and execution of orders. The policy would continue to maintain the balance between promoting Make in India and ensuring timely, value-for-money products for the procuring entities.

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Boost to Metro Rail Connectivity Cabinet approves Noida - Greater Noida Metro Rail Project
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Noida - Greater Noida Metro Rail Project covering a length of 29.707 k.m. Total completion cost of the project is Rs.5,503 crore.

Metro rail connection between NOIDA and Greater NOIDA will result into people being assured about their mobility and thus more people will like to move to these satellite towns of Delhi, thus decongesting Delhi. As a result, more residential and commercial complexes will develop in this region. With metro rail in place, there will be less vehicular traffic on roads leading to less congestion, less time and cost of journey, less consumption of fossil fuel and less environmental pollution. People of Noida-Greater Noida, which has a population of approx. 7.50 Lakhs and people of surrounding areas will be benefitted with this metro link.

Project will be implemented by Noida Metro Rail Corporation Limited, which will be a 50:50 jointly owned company of Govt. of India and Govt. of Uttar Pradesh. The existing Noida Metro Rail Corporation Limited (NMRCL) which is a State owned Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be converted into a joint SPV of Government of India (Gol) and Government of Uttar Pradesh (GoUP), for implementation of the project.

The project would generate significant direct and indirect employment of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workforce. Substantial indirect employment will also be generated during construction and operation phases.

The project is scheduled to be completed by April, 2018 as per the Detailed Project Report (DPR). About 70% progress of civil work and 40% of overall financial progress of the project have been achieved.

Project will be covered under the legal framework of Central Metro Acts, Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978 and the Metro Railways (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002, as amended from time to time.

Background:

The Noida city, located in Gautam Buddha Nagar District of Uttar Pradesh State, was created under the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Area Development Act. It possesses all modern amenities and is considered to be one of the most modern suburbs of Delhi in the National Capital Region (NCR). The population of Noida and Greater Noida as per 2011 Census of India is about 7,50,000 and is projected to grow to 19,00,000 by the year 2021. People from Delhi and surrounding area are preferring NOIDA for settlement. Noida has a potential of about 10,000 industrial units and presently about 7,500 are developed and functional. Noida provides employment to over 2,00,000 in the region with these industrial units. Noida mainly has road linkages with Delhi and the adjoining areas of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana State. Noida does not have a railway station and the nearest railway station is Hazarat Nizamuddin, which is at a distance of about 15 km. The nearest airport Delhi is at about 30 km from Noida.

Greater Noida, also envisaged as a satellite town to control the migration to Delhi, is planned to have a population of 12,00,000 and employment potential of 4,50,000 by 2021. While settlements have started coming up in Greater Noida, it is still in the developing stage and needs greater connectivity with Noida and Delhi. Considering the relatively lower costs of housing at Greater Noida, people prefer staying in Greater Noida and commute to Noida / Delhi for employment. Greater Noida also mainly depends on road linkages for intra city traffic and connection with Noida and Delhi. Greater Noida does not have a railway station and the nearest railway station is Boraki, which is at 3 km from the proposed terminal metro station at Greater Noida. The nearest airport is Delhi at about 45 km from Greater Noida. The population is expected to grow exponentially in Noida -Greater Noida region in the coming years.

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Civil Aviation Ministry Seeks Flexibility in RCS to Promote Intra- Regional Air Connectivity
May 24,2017

The Minister for Civil Aviation Shri P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju announced that his Ministry would soon be launching the second round of bidding under RCS-UDAN. The Minister informed that Airline Operators have shown keen interest in undertaking operations under the scheme and on the basis of the experience of the first round of bidding his Ministry wanted to make the process more simpler and attractive. He also informed that a stakeholders consultation meeting is being organized on 7th June, 2017, to discuss the proposed amendments and key aspects of the scheme for the second round of bidding. Following this, the stakeholders will be expected to submit their inputs and observations by 9th June, 2017.

The Secretary for Civil Aviation, Shri R.N. Choubey highlighted the six aspects of the scheme for which suggestions have been invited from stakeholders.

Under Aspect No.1 proposes to consider routes between two airports which are neither under-served nor un-served. This is being proposed to further encourage intra-regional connectivity.

Aspect No.2 deals with whether fixed wing aircrafts should be allowed to operate below 150 km for specific areas/regions.

Under Aspect No.3, the exclusivity clause is sought to be made more flexible depending upon operators and certain rules.

Under Aspect No.4, the Ministry has sought suggestions with regard to minimum number of RCS seats. Also whether the minimum number and maximum number of RCS seats could be stretched over a period of a week instead of a particular flight. Opinion have also been sought whether seasonal flights should be permitted under RCS.

Aspect No.5 asks stakeholders to see whether non-RCS routes should be included as part of the network proposal.

Aspect No.6 seeks suggestions from stakeholders to incentivized helicopter operations under RCS.

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Fitch: Disruptive Trends May Roil the Global Auto Industry
May 24,2017

The global auto industry is ripe for disruption as a result of changing global demographics, increased urbanization, heightened environmental awareness, growing safety concerns and rapidly evolving technologies, according to Fitch Ratings. These changes are likely to create winners and losers and as technologies advance, there is an increased probability that they will play a potentially significant role in the ratings of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers.

Fitch is placing more emphasis on issuers long-term positioning relative to these developing trends as the global auto industry evolves. The shifting landscape is unlikely to directly influence most issuer ratings in the near term, but a rapid change in the competitive environment could alter Fitchs view of an issuers market position, which could affect its ratings.

As technology evolves, the car is being recognized as an under-utilized asset. New market entrants and business models pose an increasing threat to incumbent players. Pressure from startups and from technology companies outside the traditional auto industry is forcing OEMs and suppliers to work on new technologies, such as automated driving, and leading OEMs to consider transportation in addition to manufacturing vehicles. The success of these trends is not guaranteed as widespread adoption will require significant advances in technology, accommodating regulations, answers to thorny legal and ethical questions, and customer acceptance of new technologies.

Vehicle electrification, driven by tightening emissions regulations in most major global regions, is leading to significant changes in vehicle powertrains. Not all vehicles will be electric, but Fitch expects the number of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and fully electric vehicles (EVs) to increase significantly over the next decade.

Electrification will alter the playing field for OEMs, Fitch believes. EVs do not need to meet emissions requirements and their powertrains are relatively simple, which has helped prompt a large number of startup EV OEMs around the world. Most are likely to fail, and it remains unclear whether even Tesla will successfully evolve from a luxury vehicle maker into a mass-market OEM. However, a future automotive environment marked by high fuel costs or heavy regulation of internal combustion engines would support the EV startups, increasing their chances of competing with traditional OEMs.

The business potential of autonomous vehicles is tremendous, especially for taxi services. Some studies suggest removing the driver could reduce the cost of operating a taxi by more than 80%. As a result, driverless taxis could be cheaper and more convenient than owning a car, particularly in urban areas. This could reduce urban congestion and lessen the need to devote scarce urban property to parking lots. Autonomous vehicles also promise to open up personal transportation opportunities for people who are unable to drive themselves.

Fitch expects that it will likely be at least a decade before the general public will be able to purchase fully autonomous vehicles for personal use. In addition to the technological hurdles, cost will be a factor. While the significant additional cost of the technology might make sense in a taxi, private owners may find it harder to justify. Also, there are more than 250 million registered cars and trucks in the U.S. today, and even if all new vehicles had fully autonomous capabilities next year, it would likely be more than a decade before even the majority of vehicles on U.S. roads were autonomous.

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Indias total fisheries production could reach 16 MMT by 2019: ASSOCHAM study
May 24,2017

Urging the government to double the outlay of Rs 3,000 crore for development and management of fisheries sector, apex industry body ASSOCHAM said that India could achieve about 16 million metric tonnes (MMT) of inland and marine fisheries production by 2019-20 thereby adopting a target oriented approach to achieve eight per cent growth year-on-year.

n++Aided by governments efforts to bring systemic changes in processing sector, the domestic segment in raw and processed fisheries sector in value terms is expected to touch Rs 1.5 lakh crore by 2020 and total domestic retail market is forecast to cross Rs 61 lakh crore or almost triple in next 4-5 years,n++ noted a just-concluded ASSOCHAM study titled Fisheries in India: Potential & prospects; Reference state - West Bengal.

n++Thus coupled with exports, fisheries sector in India should aim at a target of Rs two lakh crore by 2020 in value terms,n++ added the study conducted by Agri & Food Processing Division of The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

n++Both direct and indirect employment in entire fisheries sector in India is likely to reach 15.25 million from an estimated 14 million in 2014-15,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, national secretary general of ASSOCHAM.

n++However, most of the incremental fish production will have to come from aquaculture and Blue Revolution will provide necessary impetus in this direction,n++ said Mr Rawat.

n++Achievement of ambitious targets in increasing fish production is possible only through harnessing potential in aquaculture,n++ he added.

The study further noted that since India is endowed with over 8,000 kilometres (kms) long coastline, exclusive economic zone of over two million square kms of continental shelf, there is scope to increase marine catch, which has turned sluggish lately.

Global fish production is likely to grow by about 1.5 per cent during 2015-2020 and reach a total of about 183 MT (million tonnes), while with value added/downstream products the trade in this sector could cross $200 billion by 2025, this despite the sluggish growth in exports, highlighted the ASSOCHAM study.

n++Marine/capture fisheries is set to hover around 93 MT and aquaculture production (89 MT) could overtake by 2021-22,n++ it said.

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Swachh Bharat App Launched in National Museum
May 24,2017

n++Swachh Bharat Appn++ has been launched in National Museum under Ministry of Culture by the Minister of State (I/C) for Culture & Tourism Dr. Mahesh Sharma yesterday. The main focus of this n++Swachh Bharat Appn++ is to basically involve people actively to become part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement).

At present, this App is available for Android Mobile phones which can be downloaded from Google Play Store. In this App the concept of Physical web is implemented. When you are in the monument or Museum it will deliver you the message about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and ask you to report the garbage around you. All you need is to enable the Bluetooth of your mobile device. Even if you did not have the App installed then also you will be delivered the message by Google about the Swachh Bharat Abiyan and which will give you the link to install the App. Once you start the App it will ask to take photograph of the garbage and write the comment and just submit. It will be reported to the authority on the backend.

The App will be monitored by the Ministry of Culture and will play an important role in cultivating the significance of cleanliness to the citizens.

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Hazardous wastes mounting at the rate of 2-5 % per year-ASSOCHAM-PwC
May 24,2017

In India, about 10 to 15% of wastes produced by industries are hazardous and the generation of hazardous wastes is increasing at the rate of 2 to 5% per year, according to the joint study brought out by ASSOCHAM and PwC.

As per the estimates, annually around 7.46 mn metric tonnes (MT) of hazardous waste is generated from 43,936 industries in the country, of which land fillable waste is 3.41 mn MT (46%), incinerable 0.69 mn MT (9%) and recyclable hazardous waste is 3.35 mn MT (45%), according to a study on Waste Management in India-Shiting Gears, jointly conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and PwC.

Hazardous wastes (HW) produced from various industries in India. The major HW generating industries in India include petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, paint and dye, petroleum, fertilisers, asbestos, caustic soda, inorganic chemicals and general engineering industries. HW from these industrial sectors contains heavy metals, cyanides, pesticides, complex aromatic compounds and other chemicals, which are toxic, flammable, reactive, and corrosive or have explosive properties, adds the study.

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) along with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) are the 2 nodal central ministries influencing the Waste to Energy Programme legislation and incentives. The Program on Recovery of Energy from Waste is a part of the National Master Plan for Development of Waste-to- Energy in India. The key objectives of the program are as follows are to accelerate the installation of energy recovery projects from industrial wastes with a view to harness the available potential by 2017. To assess and upgrade various conversion technologies; create a conducive environment for the development of the sector in the country.

The Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2016, have recently been notified by the Government of India considering the factors of Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) and Sustainability/Conservation of Environment. The rules recognise hazardous waste and other waste, categorising that other waste can be considered as resource and must be used for recycling and reuse, supplementing industrial processes and reducing the load on the virgin resources in the country.

Stringent management procedures but simplified procedures to be followed. Standard operating procedures pertinent to safe management and disposal, safeguarding health and environment has been prescribed that needs to be followed for stakeholders or applicable parties. Single window clearance for setting up of hazardous waste disposal facility and import of other wastes, highlighted the joint study.

The approval process for co-processing of hazardous waste to recover energy has been streamlined and put on emission norms basis rather than on trial basis. Revision of list of waste regulated for import/export. The import of metal scrap, paper waste and various categories of electrical and electronic equipment for re-use purpose has been exempted from the need of obtaining Ministrys permission. Responsibilities of State Government for environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes have been introduced.

The suggested methods to manage hazardous waste Collection and Transportation (C&T): Hazardous waste transporters are individuals or entities that move hazardous waste from one site to anothern++usually from the source of generation to its storage and disposal predominantly by road, rail, or water. Transporters accepting hazardous waste from a generator or another transporter may need to hold waste temporarily during the normal course of transportation; hence they require the necessary infrastructure to manage the waste. The C&T activity entails the generator to handover waste in a specified fashion having necessary authorisation, packaging, and labelling to transport waste.

Responsibility of transportation lies with waste generator, the coprocessor, who utilises the waste (in case of coprocessing) and transporter, who transport the waste from generator to coprocessor. The waste generator should ensure that waste is packaged avoiding handling related accident during transport. The waste and the transport vehicle needs to be adequately labelled with necessary clearances from the State Pollution Control Board during interstate transport.

A lot of effort is now being made to recover value out of the hazardous waste generated in the industries. While the conventional management method of land filling and incineration are still the preferred ones, methods by coprocessing of compatible hazardous waste in cement kilns is slowly picking pace. The method is being researched adequately by the Central Pollution Control Board and is recommended as one of the safest ways to manage the hazardous waste.

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Have new NPA norms for Wholesale Long Term Finance Bank: ASSOCHAM to RBI
May 24,2017

ASSOCHAM has approached the RBI with a plea that the provisioning criteria for the non-performing assets (NPAs) in the case of proposed Wholesale Long-Term Finance (WLTF) banks should be based on stress tests of each of the funded projects, unlike the present standard provisioning norms due to a different nature of the long term, big ticket industrial or infrastructure projects to be covered by WLTF lenders.

n++In the long gestation projects like infrastructure there may be various reasons for which the project may get delayed-- governmental policy changes, court orders, land or environmental issues... Monitoring and assessment of such projects would require a structured working; Therefore, provisioning must be based on a stress test for the specific project, the ASSOCHAM said, submitting its feedback to a discussion paper of the RBI on the proposed WLTF banks.

It said a stress test- based provisioning would be more prudent way of resolving the NPA issues, than the present standard provisioning norms for other loans. Therefore, the standard provisioning norms should not be applicable to WLTF banks

Describing the move to allow WLTF banks as timely and prudent, the chambers letter to RBI Governor Dr Urjit Patel said the minimum capital requirement be kept at Rs 500 crore and not Rs 1000 crore.

As the proposed banks would be focussed on infrastructure projects, their business would be less risky. Unlike a security-based lending methodology of universal banks, WLTF Bank will be lending against cash-flow of an infrastructure assets for long term, implying more visibility of cash-flow than normal manufacturing projects.

Besides, the proposed lender should be exempt from requirements like SLR, CRR and rural branches and other priority sector norms, the chamber added.

In addition to following the existing rules of on-tap licensing of universal banks, converting existing NBFCs or NBFC held by another NBFC be allowed to be converted into WLTF Bank. This would allow seamless transition of an existing NBFC into a WLTF Bank.

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ASSOCHAM moots plan for comprehensive industrial policy for SMEs
May 24,2017

Apex industry body ASSOCHAM has mooted a proposal to the newly elected government of Punjab for announcement of comprehensive industrial policy to bring back the glory of Sher-E-Punjab hub for small medium enterprise (SMEs) and value addition to agriproducts.

The policy should focus on activities relating top reservation, farm products, horticulture, livestock products like milk and other dairy items, cotton and textiles etc. which have strong backward and forward linkages in the states economy.

According to the paper, Punjab needs to promote less-water guzzling crops like pulses, oilseeds, cotton, maize, millet, vegetables and fruits - by providing improved seeds and ensuring that farmers get a fair price for these crops through a market support mechanism. The area under paddy cultivation should be reduced and high value crops like cotton, fruits, vegetables, canola, menthe, turmeric etc. should be grown to raise their share of cropping area from 3.4%.

Ad-hoc policies like ban on export of food grains, limits on private stocking and tax on purchase of food grains (14.4%) should be revisited and withdrawn wherever possible. The fertilizer subsidy policy needs to be revisited to achieve balanced use of nutrients and subsidy should be transferred directly to the farmers.

Incentivise technology like direct seeding of paddy and drip irrigation which saves 30-50% of water. More investment needed in production and promotion of organic manure, bio-pesticides to cut down use of chemical pesticides linked to the spread of cancer. Also, Implement National Policy for Crop Residue 2014 which suggests suitable legislation, adoption of technical measures and training on crop residue management to eliminate crop residue burning.

To reduce farmers indebtedness, private moneylenders should be registered and regulated and instead of debt waiver schemes, state should find ways to expand institutional credit facilities; APMC Act should be amended to allow farmers to sell directly to food processing industry while ensuring that no hoarding of essential items take place. Punjab should join National Agriculture Market which provides e-mandis across the country to ensure better price realisation and soil testing facilities

The financial incentives - like exemption or concessions in stamp duty, property tax etc. - should be extended to existing units which are fighting for survival. Also bring parity in tax structure and match financial incentives offered by rival states like Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh to become more competitive, adds paper.

Develop labour intensive technologies suitable for growth of MSMEs and support with adequate infrastructure to overcome problems of poor labour productivity and obsolete technologies. The state needs to take advantage of natural resources to promote farm products, horticulture, livestock products, manufacturing of textiles, machinery, motor vehicle, food processing etc. since these have strong linkages with the states economy, noted the ASSOCHAM study.

The power policy should be reviewed. Octroi and cow cess should be withdrawn and cheaper power available to new industries should be extended to the existing ones. IT and ITeS industries should be developed in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana as proposed and fast-tracked.

A petrochemical hub around Bhatindas refinery and bio-technology parks and incubators in and outside Mohali should be developed as new growth drivers. Single-window and IT-enabled mechanism should be set up for administrative clearances, extending various services and availing various incentives, adds the joint study.

Fiscal Incentives for Industrial Promotion 2013 should be amended to provide incentives to proposed ITeS hub in Jalandhar which has necessary infrastructure. There is a huge potential for financial services -capital market services, private banking to HNIs, brokerage and insurance etc. The state should take help of financial institutions to spread financial literacy.

The state has no clear and defined health policy despite the alarming level of cancer and drug addiction and high cost of hospitalisation etc. The health expenditure needs to go up to Rs 5,000 per capita by 2030 from current level of Rs 1,015 (2014-15). The public health infrastructure needs drastic restructuring at sub-centre, PHC and CHC levels to ensure adequate healthcare coverage, including treatment for cancer and drug addiction.

IT solutions should be developed to check rampant absenteeism of medical personnel and to record and report health transactions. The curriculum and vocational training programme for tourism should be developed at school level particularly targeting high dropouts in districts of Pathankot, Muktsar Sahib, Fatehgarh, Mansa and Sangrur.

The state needs to set up skill development/training institutes either on its own or with private participation since the current skilling programme has been taken over by industries for in house training and is not benefitting general labour force. A strategic road-map needed for skill development in districts with low penetration of vocational education-Gurdaspur, Sangrur, Barnala, Muktsar, Jalandhar and Mohali.

More funds should be mobilised to set up commercial dairy farms, poultry farms etc. and provide marketing infrastructure to help such farms garner maximum benefits rather than middlemen. Proposed district haatcentres in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Ferozpur and Mohali should be completed on a priority basis.

The state should focus on building a dedicated rail freight corridor and add more dry ports for a double-digit growth; Need to step up efforts to induct IT into agriculture and agri-processing. Policy should be changed to provide free power to only small and marginal farmers, while power to middle and big farmers could be charged at market rates (or slightly subsidized). In addition to renewable energy like solar power, plans should be worked out for harvesting bio-energy to use bio-mass generated.

Total number of housing shortage is 7,46,798 units which includes shortage of urban housing of 2,80,050 units. A perspective plan for housing should be made at the state and city levels to address the shortfall in housing; about 20-25% of developed land in urban areas should be reserved for urban poor. To prevent slum formation, industries and builders should be persuaded to provide reasonable accommodation equipped with basic services to their workers.

The states growth is driven by the services sector which has grown disproportionately. Interestingly, however, analysis of sub-sectoral data shows that the only sub-sector which has been growing is banking and financial services. The rest are slowing down, including trade and hotel which contributes the most (23.5%) to the services sector. The banking penetration is high but there is a potential for expanding financial services like capital market services, private banking to HNIs, brokerage and insurance services etc. The state would do well to focus on financial literacy with the help of banks and other financial institutions.

Tourism is another area which has huge potential but remains neglected. Health services too have been neglected which is strange given the high incidence of drug addiction and cancer and high cost of hospitalisation. The health infrastructures like PHCs and CHCs, availability of doctors etc. have witnessed sharp decline. There is a need to substantially increase public investment in health but the new government should better form a comprehensive health policy for the state first.

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GST to be biggest achievement of Modi Govt; fin inclusion, digital other big milestones: ASSOCHAM
May 24,2017

As the Narendra Modi government is about to complete three years in office, its biggest achievement on economic front would be the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which is near a roll-out, while financial inclusion, digitisation and public investment on infrastructure like railways and power distribution are perceived as other credible steps for structural changes in the economy, the ASSOCHAM has said.

Based on a perception among its members, the ASSOCHAM has noted that benign inflation both at the retail and wholesale levels is among the other positives for the government. Of course, the fall in inflation was supported by a sharp correction in international commodity prices and good monsoon in the last season. As the price rise remained within the target of four per cent, set by the Reserve Bank of India, the central bank has also been able to keep the interest rates low, though the credit off-take in the private sector still remains a challenge.

Prices of pulses, onion and other essential commodities which used to hit the headlines, have come down significantly in the last 12-18 months.

The implementation of GST in the next few weeks would cap other major initiatives of the government. The focus on improving ease of doing business through measures like GST and other taxation reforms has also been noted as one of the major achievements of the NDA Government, said the chamber President Mr Sandeep Jajodia.

Clean-up of the subsidy disbursal which had reached the proportion of bottomless pit, is yet another big plus of the government which is pursuing linkages of Aadhar ID with every bank account holder. Helped by favourable crash in the crude oil prices, elimination of subsidy on petrol and diesel and significant reduction in other fuels ,including cooking gas, have brought a great improvement in the balance sheets of the oil marketing companies.

Taking a look at other macros, it goes to the credit of the government that Indias foreign exchange reserves have touched an impressive high of USD 372 billion, giving a muscle to rupee. While exporters have shown some concern, strong rupee is helping tame inflation further.

Thanks to several measures to open up the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime in key areas like defence, insurance, infrastructure, the country has received record net FDI of USD 100 billion in the last three years, while foreign funds are pumping in huge liquidity in the stock market.

Riding on ample liquidity and confidence of the global fund managers, Indias market capitalisation has crossed a massive USD two trillion, so much so that some kind of caution is needed to handle such inflows.

While, a high level of non-performing remains an area of concern, the government has taken some decisive measures like empowering RBI to set up Oversight Committees and refer the toxic assets for insolvency and all these should help resolution of the nagging problem.

Other priority areas , going forward, should be focus on some of the stressed sectors like metals, construction and real estate, telecom and power generation while allocations for health and education needs to be lifted. Also , increased focus on agriculture must continue with enough allocations for rural and agri infrastructure like irrigation. However, a lot of work of work has been done in revival of the domestic fertiliser units.

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Domestic market can make up job losses for overseas biz for IT: ASSOCHAM
May 24,2017

Indias USD 155 billion IT and Business process management (BPM) industry which is facing heat from the unfolding disruptions in the key markets of the US and Europe and is forced to rationalise its workforce, can create more jobs on net basis if it seriously gets involved in fast expanding domestic market , riding on governments financial inclusion programmes like Jan Dhan Yojana and Aadhar based service delivery models, said ASSOCHAM.

n++It is time our IT and BPM industry bellwethers looked a bit inward now. It is also time to redraw strategy that gives a good look at the home market, which can more than make up , at least in the short to medium term, for the possible dent on jobs in the disruptive overseas markets,n++ a chamber note said, after an interactive brain -storming .

It was brought out of the interactive consultations that there is no point being reactive to what is happening in the main global consuming centres for the IT and BPM industry, which employs about four million young work force in India in over 16,000 small or big companies.

n++A close look at the profile of our exports suggest that close to 60 per cent of the exports are accounted for by the banking-finance-insurance . Now , the kind of data base that is being generated by the Prime Ministers Jan Dhan Yojana and its linkages with the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) , can be a delight for different set of analytics , which then can be shaped into products for a whole lot of industries like fast moving consumer goods, automobile, telecom, insurance, agri-inputs and agri products, health and so on,n++ the ASSOCHAM note pointed out.

It said, there was a very strong case for a high level Task Force between the Government and the IT and BPM industry which can put their heads together. n++It would be a win: win for both. For the government, the Prime Ministers flagship progammes , including Digital India, would get expanded manifold , touching the lives of common citizens , delayering corrupt levels of intermediaries. For the IT industry, here is an opportunity , for converting raw data about new entrants into the financial system into value-added analytics. Further expanding on, industries across different verticals would then reach and penetrate into the untapped pyramids.n++

Mapping the potential, ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said, if all these steps are taken in a well-coordinated manner, lakhs of new jobs would be created which would far more than make up the possible losses on account of upheavals in the global markets, following emergence of new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning along with the changing political landscape in the US and Europe, by far the largest markets for the Indian IT and BPM industry.

After all, with close to 400 million internet users and India being the largest users of the internet, the market is only going to grow for the digital and financial products. For now, the government would be the biggest user of technology while the domestic industry which has won laurels in the rest of the world should start feeding the Indian market, as if they are dealing with global clients. The short to medium term bright outlook is at home, the paper added.

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Software Procurement Policy-Digital India
May 24,2017

The Digital India foot print is expanding day by day. It has been the consistent focus of Shri Narendra Modi Government, to improve Digital Governance as it is critical for faster delivery and effective monitoring of services.

The transformation happening under the overall Digital India initiative is creating huge opportunities for involvement of industry/private sector, mainly providers of IT/IT enabled systems and services. However, various concerns have been raised from time to time by the industry relating to their engagements (and contracts) with government funded projects. These issues include terms of payments, acceptance criteria, service level agreement and change management etc.

It is the consistent representation of NASSCOM, as also the major System Integrators like TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, IBM etc, for the need of a model RFP to guide all the organizations across governments, so that all variations, vagaries and uncertainties may be avoided. Based on intensive deliberations with the industry and other stakeholders, this model RFP has been formulated.

The major features of Model RFP provides for,

1. Level playing field, to all stakeholders by defining appropriate pre-qualification and technical evaluation criterion.

2. Aligning legal terms and conditions with the requirements of the IT Industry

n++ Template for scope of work and service level agreements

n++ Change request mechanisms

n++ Dispute resolution

n++ Standard contractual terms & conditions

n++ Standardization of Intellectual property rights

n++ Capping the liability, penalty and liquidated damages

3. Making payment terms, objective and easier, for industry and Government Department

n++ Guidance on simplifying payment related conditions

n++ Incorporating the Exchange rate variations

4. Converging Government schemes like Make in India / Preference for Domestically Manufactured Electronic Goods (PMA), provisions for Start-ups and MSMEs

5. Leveraging latest technologies like cloud, mobiles, etc.

6. Aligned with the General Financial Rule 2017

7. Adherence to the latest standards

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