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ASSOCHAM advocates MAT exemption for sick companies under debt restructuring
Apr 27,2017

Apex Industry body ASSOCHAM has advocated continuation of the exemption from MAT (Minimum Alternative Tax) by the insertion of a suitable substitution of or addition to the Income Tax Act in respect of the restructuring under the insolvency & banking code 2016.

In a note submitted to the Chairman CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) Mr. Sushil Chandra, ASSOCHAM has stated that in the absence of a provision for exemption from MAT for such a company, any Resolution Plan for revival of the Company whether under IBC or (Section 230) of Companies Act shall become unworkable and unviable due to the huge and immediate cash flow required to meet the corporate tax liability payable immediately under MAT and the company would hardly be in a situation requiring debt restructuring.

The intent of the legislature in introducing the new Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, 2016 was clearly to provide an effective mechanism for time bound resolution of indebtedness issues for financially distressed companies which have been adequately highlighted when government taxes were given lower priority during liquidation waterfall mechanism.

Therefore, under the provisions of the IBC, 2016, a Company must obtain approval of its Resolution Plan from NCLT under Section 31 of the IBC within 180 days, extendable by further 90 days maximum, failing which the liquidation process shall be initiated.

ASSOCHAM feels, a resolution plan in most such cases shall always involve sacrifices from all stakeholders - promoters, creditors etc. The sacrifice from the creditors by way of waiver of certain loans and/or interest shall therefore result in notional profits appearing in the books of accounts of such distressed companies. Unless otherwise exempted, such distressed companies may fail in their Resolution Plan simply due to the high tax liability that shall accrue upon them on account of MAT while continuing to be under turnaround process and stressed for liquidity.

ASSOCHAM has suggested that addition of the amount of profits of a company with negative net-worth pertaining to the reduction in debt by its creditors for the Assessment Year commencing on and from be Assessment Year in which the Adjudicating Authority i.e. NCLT approves a Resolution Plan under section 31 of Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and ending with the Assessment Year during which the entire Net Worth of the Company becomes equal to or exceeds the accumulated losses.

The amount of profits of a Company with negative net-worth pertaining to the reduction in debt by its creditors for the Assessment Year commencing on and from the Assessment Year in which the Adjudicating Authority i.e. NCLT approves the Scheme for Compromise and/ or Rearrangement with the creditors is sanctioned by NCLT under section 230 of the Companies Act, and ending with the Assessment Year during which the entire Net Worth of the Company becomes equal to or exceeds the accumulated losses.

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Government revamps jobs on compassionate ground for Gramin Dak Sevaks
Apr 27,2017

Department of Posts has revamped the existing compassionate engagement scheme offered to the dependent family members of Gramin Dak Sevak. A GDS who dies in harness, the dependents of such GDS will benefit from a liberalized and time bound procedure for engagement on compassionate grounds. Henceforth, any death of a Gramin Dak Sevak while on engagement would be compensated by a compassionate engagement to a dependent family member irrespective of the circumstances or indigence. Upper age limit of the applicant could also be relaxed wherever found to be necessary. Thus the new scheme of compassionate engagement will provide greater relief to the members of the family of the deceased GDS who belong to weaker and poorer sections of the society and are thrown into penury and hardship.

The ambit of dependent family member has also been expanded to include:

n++Married son living with parents and dependent for livelihood on the GDS on the date of death of the GDS

n++Divorced daughter wholly dependent on the GDS at the time of death of the GDS

n++Daughter in law of the deceased GDS who is wholly dependent on the GDS, if the only son of the GDS is pre deceased.

This expansion of definition of family members aims to bring greater relief to women in our society who are subjected to difficult circumstances in the unfortunate event of demise of their spouse/parent.

The present system of relative merit points to ascertain the degree of indigence has been dispensed with. Keeping in view the unique and distinct service conditions, socio economic aspects and to relieve the family from financial destitution, the time consuming process of consideration by Circle Relaxation Committee has been done away with. Henceforth, a request received for compassionate engagement would be considered and decided within three months from the date of receipt of the application.

Further to ensure least displacement, it has been decided that to the extent possible, compassionate engagement would be offered to the dependent of the deceased GDS, to a GDS post near the place where the family of the deceased normally resides.

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Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to forge collaboration on skills and CSR
Apr 27,2017

Shri Manish Kumar, Managing Director & CEO, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), while on an invited visited to the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), mentioned the n++areas of synergyn++ and n++common groundsn++ that both the organisations can identify for working together. He further said that the two organisations can collaborate in areas including but not limited to MSME, Corporate Governance, CSR, Business Innovation, E Governance and Corporate Communication. He also gave a detailed account of NSDCs mandate as well as delivery mechanisms. The present visit was aimed at exploring synergy and partnership between the two institutions, which in turn, would lead to effective collaborative work.

Shri Sunil Arora, DG & CEO, IICA reiterated the possibility of both the organisations working together covering several domains. Highlighting the need for a close coordination and regular interaction, Shri Arora suggested that teams from both organisations should work towards closing a MoU within a specified period of time. He further articulated that areas of CSR, skill, entrepreneurship, innovation, MSMEs provided ample opportunity to both the organizations to bring together mutual synergies and contribute to policy priorities of the Government.

Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) is an autonomous organisation working under the aegis of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Set up as the premier organisation that aims at providing astute and credible intellectual leadership in corporate regulation, governance and running sustainable businesses, IICA is a capacity development and service delivery institute. The institute works through a network of Schools and Centres based in its campus at Manesar in Haryana.

The National Skill Development Corporation, (NSDC) is a unique Public Private Partnership in India, working under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship. It aims to promote skill development by catalysing creation of large, quality, for-profit vocational institutions. NSDC provides funding to build scalable, for-profit vocational training initiatives. Its mandate is also to enable support systems such as quality assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either directly or through partnerships.

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NCST Seeks Information on Fake ST Certificate
Apr 27,2017

National Commission for Schedule Tribes (NCST) has asked Uttar Pradesh Government to furnish information on fake certificates of Gond tribal community. The Secretary, NCST in his letter to Chief Secretary, UP has said that it has been brought to the notice of the Commission that many persons from Nayak Brahman and Brahman Ojha community in Gorakhpur, Devaria, Maharajganj, Basti, Aajamgarh, Mau and Balia districts have obtained fake certificates of Gond tribal community to get Govt Jobs.

The Chief Secretary, UP has been asked to furnish the information of total population of ST community and percentage along with population and percentage of Gond community in the State. He has also been asked to furnish the details of the persons from Nayak Brahman and Brahman Ojha community who have been issued the certificates of Gond tribal community. The Commission has also asked that weather any civil or criminal action been taken against persons having fake certificates of Gond tribal community. The Commission has taken the cognizance of the issue on the representation from an NGO.

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SEBI board takes various decisions regarding Mutual Funds, commodity derivatives, NBFCs
Apr 26,2017

The SEBI Board took the following decisions:

1. Instant Access Facility (IAF) in Mutual Funds and use of e-wallet for investment in Mutual Funds

With an objective to channelize households savings into capital market and to promote digitalization in mutual funds, SEBI Board after deliberation has decided the following:

a)Mutual Funds / Asset Management Companies (AMCs) can offer instant access facility (through online mode) of upto INR 50,000 or 90% of folio value, whichever is lower, to resident individual investors in liquid schemes by applying lower of Previous Day NAV or Prospective NAV. For providing such facility AMCs would not be allowed to borrow. Liquidity is to be provided out of the available funds from the scheme and AMCs to put in place a mechanism to meet the liquidity demands. This facility can also be used for investment in mutual funds through tie-ups with Payments Banks provided necessary approvals are taken from RBI. Presently, any scheme providing this facility would reduce the limit to INR 50,000, immediately and other than liquid schemes providing this facility would completely stop this facility within one month from the date of circular.

b)Investment of upto INR 50,000 per Mutual Fund per financial year can be made using e-wallets. However, redemptions of such investments can be made only to a bank account of the unit holder. E-wallet issuers must not offer any incentive such as cash back etc., directly or indirectly for investing in mutual fund scheme through them. E-wallets balance loaded through cash or debit card or net banking, can only be used for subscription to mutual funds schemes and balance loaded through credit card, cash back, promotional scheme etc. should not be allowed for subscription to MF schemes. Further, this limit of INR 50,000 would be an umbrella limit for investment by an investor through e-wallet and/or cash, per mutual fund per financial year.

2. Amendments to Securities Contracts (Regulation) (Stock Exchanges and Clearing Corporations) Regulations, 2012

While presenting the Union Budget for the FY 2016-2017, the Honble Union Finance Minister, made an announcement for permitting new derivative products in the commodity derivatives market. In pursuance thereof, SEBI vide circular dated September 28, 2016, permitted launch of options in commodity derivatives market. In this regard, to enable the Commodity Derivatives Exchanges to organize trading of options, the Board, after undertaking due public consultation process, has approved a proposal to amend the relevant provisions of Securities Contracts (Regulation) (Stock Exchanges and Clearing Corporations) Regulations, 2012. Detailed guidelines for trading in option on commodity derivatives exchanges will be issued by SEBI.

3. Inclusion of RBI registered systemically important NBFCs in the category of QIBs

Presently institutions such as banks and insurance companies are categorised as Qualified Institutional Buyers (QIBs) by SEBI. They are eligible for participation in IPOs with specifically earmarked allocations.

Honble Union Finance Minister in his Budget Speech for the FY 2017-18, proposed to allow systemically important NBFCs regulated by RBI and above a certain net worth, to be categorised as QIBs since it would strengthen the IPO market and channelize more investments.

Accordingly, the Board considered and approved the proposal for inclusion of systemically important NBFCs registered with RBI having a net worth of more than Rs. 500 crore in the category of QIBs. As NBFCs are well regulated entities, classifying such NBFCs under the definition of QIBs will give Issuers access to a larger pool of funds.

4. Exemption under SEBI (ICDR) Regulations, 2009, relating to preferential allotments, to be extended to Scheduled Banks and Financial Institutions

Presently, SEBI (ICDR) Regulations prohibit the issuer from making preferential issue to any person who has sold any equity shares of the issuer during the six months preceding the relevant date. It also provides that the entire pre-preferential allotment shareholding of the allottees, if any, shall be locked-in from the relevant date upto a period of six months from the date of trading approval. Mutual Funds and Insurance Companies are, however, exempted from both the said requirements.

Recently, many instances have been there where it has been observed that the Banking sector is exposed to the risk of significantly high Non-Performing Assets (NPA) and the Banks have been advised by the Reserve Bank of India to reduce the NPA and to initiate stringent actions to recover the dues from the borrowers.

As a result, it is expected that many Banks will go aggressively for recovering their dues and in order to achieve this objective, the Banks may opt for CDR / SDR or bilateral restructuring. In order to carry out actions for recovery from a borrower which may be a listed Company, Banks or Financial Institutions have sold equity shares of the issuer during the preceding six months of the relevant date. Such Banks/Financial Institutions may also be one of the allottees of the specified securities of the company pursuant to CDR approved scheme under preferential issue route.

The Board considered and approved the proposal for extending such relaxation to the Scheduled Banks and Public Financial Institutions as is already being extended to Mutual Funds and Insurance Companies.

5. Strengthening the Monitoring of Utilisation of Issue Proceeds

Presently, the SEBI (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2009, require mandatory appointment of Monitoring Agency if the issue size of specified securities exceeds Rs. 500 Cr. The purpose for the same is to ensure adequate supervision of the utilization of the funds raised.

SEBI Board considered and approved certain proposals to further strengthen the monitoring of issue proceeds raised in IPOs/FPOs/Rights Issues. Key proposals approved by Board are as under:

n++Mandatory appointment of Monitoring Agency where the issue size (excluding offer for sale component) is more than Rs. 100 crore.

n++Frequency of submission of Monitoring Agency Report has been enhanced from half-yearly to quarterly.

n++Introduction of maximum timeline of 45 days for submission of Monitoring Agency Report from the end of the quarter in conjunction with the submission of the quarterly results.

n++Mandating the disclosure of the Monitoring Agency Report on Companys website in addition to submitting it to Stock Exchange(s) for wider dissemination.

n++Introduction of new requirement, i.e., comments of Board of Directors and Management on the findings of Monitoring Agency.

6. Framework for consolidation and re-issuance of debt securities issued under the SEBI (Issue and Listing of Debt Securities) Regulations, 2008

The Board considered and approved the following proposals contained in the agenda for laying down a framework for consolidation and re-issuance of debt securities, one of the ways to increase liquidity in the secondary market.

a)Maximum of 12 ISINs maturing per financial year may be allowed for debt securities and within the bucket of these 12 ISINs, the issuer can issue both secured and unsecured Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs)/bonds and no separate category of ISINs may be provided to them. Additionally, the issuer may issue five ISINs per financial year for structured debt instruments of a particular category (say bonds with call option or bonds with both call and put option);

b)The above restrictions will not be applicable on debt instruments which are used for raising regulatory capital such as Tier I, Tier II bonds, bonds for affordable housing and the capital gains tax bonds issued under section 54EC of the Income Tax Act, 1961;

c)In order to resolve the issue of bunching of liabilities, the issuer can as a one-time exercise make a choice of having bullet maturity payment or the issuer can

Over Rs.one lakh cr investment approved for housing of urban poor
Apr 26,2017

Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has sanctioned 1,00,537 more houses for urban poor under Pradhan MantriAwas Yojana (Urban) with an investment of Rs.4,200 cr taking the total investment so far approved to Rs.1,00,466 cr. This is 307% more than the investment approved of Rs.32,713 cr during 2004-14 for affordable housing in urban areas.

            With the latest sanctions, the Ministry has so far approved construction of 18,75,389 houses for Economically Weaker Sections under PMAY(Urban) in 2,151 cities and towns in 34 States/UTs as against 13.80 lakh houses sanctioned during 2004-15 with an approved investment of Rs.32,009 cr.

            The total investment approved so far includes central assistance of Rs.29,409 cr, assistance from State Governments and beneficiary contribution.

            In the latest sanctions, Madhya Pradesh got 57,131 houses, Tamil Nadu-24,576, Manipur-6,231, Chattisgarh-4,898, Gujarat-4,261, Assam-2,389, Kerala-643, Jharkhand-331 and Daman & Diu-77.

            With total houses sanctioned of 2,66,842, Madhya Pradesh has emerged the leader for the first time  in approvals under PMAY(Urban) with a total investment of Rs.18,283 cr. Tamil Nadu is second with 2,52,532 houses with a total project cost of Rs.9,112 cr.

            Of the total houses so far sanctioned, 10,65,058 were under the Beneficiary Led Construction component of PMAY(Urban) wherein beneficiaries undertake new construction or enhancement of existing houses for which central assistance of Rs.1.50 lakh each is provided. 5,87,115 have been sanctioned under Affordable Housing in Partnership under which state governments provide land/financial assistance for housing projects for which central assistance of Rs.1.50 lakh each is given per beneficiary.       

            Details of houses sanctioned and project investments approved in major States are:

StateNo of affordable houses sanctionerdInvestment approved
(Rs. cr)Madhya Pradesh2,66,84218,283Tamil Nadu2,52,532  9,112Andhra Pradesh1,95,04710,697Gujarat1,48,948  9,772Karnataka 1,46,548  6,288West Bengal1,44,369  5,870Maharashtra1,26,08113,458Bihar   88,293  3,909Telangana   82,985  4,998Jharkhand  64,898  2,423Odisha  48,855  2,108Tripura  45,908  1,264Punjab   42,681  1,199 Rajasthan  37,856  2,646Chattisgarh  34,973  2,962Kerala  28,918     963Assam  26,742     801 Uttar Pradesh  20,682  1,056Manipur  15,979     414Nagaland  13,560     335Mizoram  10,459     219Uttarakhand    7,904     510Jammu & Kashmir    6,243     292Himachal Pradesh    4,890     222Haryana    4,299    338

Of the total houses sanctioned, construction has begun in respect of 6,89,829 and construction of 1,00,395 houses have been completed.

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Government takes pro-active step towards improving the Quality of Mobile Services
Apr 26,2017

In order to obtain direct feedback from subscribers about Quality of Mobile Services, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) launched an Integrated Voice Response System (IVRS) in a phased manner between December 2016 and March 2017 covering all states in the country, through which, subscribers received an IVRS call from short code 1955 and were asked a few questions on the Quality of Mobile Services including problem of call drop, if any. The subscribers have been facilitated by the system to send a toll-free SMS to the same short code 1955, containing the name of city/town/village, where they face frequent call drops.

Since its launch, the IVRS system has made 26.97 lakh calls to subscribers of all Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) across the country, out of which 3.56 lakh subscribers (about 13%) participated in the survey. Remaining 87% subscribers, who did not participate, were either not willing or did not have problem of frequent call drops. Among those who participated, 2.15 lakh (about 60%) subscribers have reported experiencing frequent call drops. From the feedback it has been observed that the complaint is mostly indoors. The feedback is shared with the TSPs to take corrective action in a time bound manner and submit the action taken report (ATR) to DoT Task Force every fortnight. TSPs contact each subscriber, who has reported frequent call drops, through telephonic calls and SMS in English and local languages to collect further details required for resolution of the complaint.

On cumulative basis, since launch of IVRS, TSPs have resolved 13,631 cases related to call drop problem and also resolved another 7975 cases which were reported as frequent call drop problem but were found to be having other issues related to data, roaming, billing, MNP, mobile device etc. Out of these,1406 cases were resolved through optimization, rectifying hardware/power problems, through field visits etc. during the fortnight 15-31March 2017.

The results obtained through the IVRS platform and follow up efforts of DoT & TSPs are quite encouraging. The call drops reported by subscribers have dropped from 64% in Dec-2016 to 57% at the end of Mar-2017, a drop of nearly 7% in 3 months. In addition, the said initiatives of the Government have facilitated TSPs to identify black spots and plan new sites/ infrastructure to improve their services. TSPs have planned 987 new sites/boosters out of which 109 have been already installed and commissioned (Airtel-11, Idea-29, Reliance Jio - 69).

The Ministry of Communications regularly reviews the efficacy of the system and suggests further areas of improvements. This system has provided a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

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Centre giving priority to agriculture sector by allocating maximum funds for the farmers welfare: Agriculture Minister
Apr 26,2017

The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that the central government is giving priority to agriculture sector by allocating maximum funds for the farmers welfare. Shri Singh said that the government aims at increasing the agriculture production, determining productivity and boosting dairy/livestock/fisheries while promoting agriculture education, research and extension organisation.

Shri Singh said that to achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modis target of doubling farmers income by 2022, Agriculture Ministry has written letters to the state governments urging them to strategise and work on it. Agriculture Minister said that while strategising, the state governments will have to closely monitor agricultural production and agricultural products processing activities.

Shri Singh said that the government has launched various schemes for the farmers. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Soil Health Management, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, E-Nam, Agroforestry (Medh Par Ped) and Neem coated Urea to name a few. To increase milk production, National Dairy Mission was initiated. Blue Revolution is emphasising on inland fisheries and deep sea fishing. The schemes aim to increase the agricultural productivity and improve farmers income.

Union Minister said that for the success of schemes, we will have to work together with dedication and sincerity. Shri Singh further informed that this years growth rate for the agriculture and allied sectors was about 4 percent.

For the welfare of agriculture sector, the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry has converted all its schemes into special missions, schemes and programmes. With joint efforts of all stakeholders, the 2nd advance estimates predict about 271.98 MT production of food grain, which is 8.11 percent higher as compared to the year 2015-16. Shri Singh also said that the production of the foodgrains is 5.82 percent more than the last five years average production. There was a record foodgrains production in 2013-14, however, this years yield was 2.61 percent higher as compared to 2013-14.

Agriculture Minister said that the farmers have started reaping the benefit of the schemes initiated by the department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers Welfare. The schemes include National Food Security Mission (NFSM), National Horticulture Mission (NHM), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), and Total Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).

Shri Singh said that the National Food Security Mission (NFSM), one of the most important schemes of the agriculture ministry covers rice, wheat, pulses, cereals and other main crops. Before the current government came to the power, NFSM was being implemented in 482 districts of 19 states. When the NDA government came to the power, the implementation of NFSM was extended to 638 districts of 29 states. Apart from that, 2.70 lakh hectare area is being used for organic farming. While ensuring the overall growth of agriculture and allied sectors, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana or RKVYs aims at achieving annual growth and maintaining the same during the 12th Plan.

Agriculture Minister said that the Ministry is focusing on the production and productivity of oilseeds and equal attention is also being given to the fruits, vegetables and horticulture. The government is also focusing on quality and availability of seeds. Apart from that national seed mission has been initiated under the scheme grants will be given for seed processing, seed storage, improving the quality of seeds and storing of seeds for the emergency.

Shri Singh said that the government is trying to safeguard farmers interest by announcing a minimum support price for main agricultural commodities. The thrust of the policy is to create a balanced and integrated structure to meet the overall needs of the economy. To support the prices, central nodal agencies such as FCI, CCI, JCI, NAFED, SFAC etc. start procurement process to ensure that the market price doesnt slip below the MSP fixed by the government. In case the market price of the commodity falls below the announced minimum price, govt agencies intervenes under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) and procures the entire quantity offered by the farmers at the announced minimum price. During the period of 2014-15 to 2016-17, Indian government procured chilli, apple, ginger, potato, oil palm, grapes, onion betelnut, etc from the farmers of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. Any sharp rise or fall in prices not only causes harm to consumers but farmers too. To mitigate volatility in the prices of agricultural produce, a Price Stabilisation Fund of Rs.500 Crore for agricultural commodities was announced, which has been now increased to Rs.1500 crore. To control the rising pulses price, 40,000 metric tonne pulses have been distributed to the states at their behest and meanwhile, the government is creating a buffer stock of 20 lakh metric tonne pulses. Simultaneously government is procuring 20,000 metric tonne onion for buffer stock.

Shri Singh also said that the Kharif season is around the corner, therefore, it is imperative for the state governments to make plans to procure high-quality seeds of several types of crops and fertilisers for the farmers. The state governments should ensure that there is no scarcity of inputs during the cropping season.

To ensure that the farmers avail the benefits of Fasal Bima Yojana, the government launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana from 2016 Kharif season after improvising the earlier insurance scheme. The insurance is vast and covers the pre-sowing to post-harvest losses. For soil health, the government has started Soil Health Card scheme. To promote organic farming, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana has been launched. To increase farmers income, the government is also focusing on agroforestry and bee-keeping.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh has urged all the ministers to make efforts for the smooth and timely implementation of all the schemes so that the farmers get the funds on time to start their work. Shri Singh also stressed on transparency in governance.

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Establishment of Spices Farmers Producer Companies (SFPCs) in Arunachal Pradesh
Apr 26,2017

The Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is setting up spices farmers producer companies (SFPCs) on pilot basis in Arunachal Pradesh to help small and marginal farmers get better prices for produce.

The objective of the programme is to operationalize SFPC on pilot basis in 3 districts viz. Ziro in Lower Subansiri District for large cardamom and Namsai in Namsai District for ginger in Arunachal Pradesh & West District in Sikkim for large cardamom for empowering the farmers, especially women farmers in the identified spices growing districts, for better price realization through post harvest management, primary processing, value addition, packing, aggregation, organic certification etc.

Each SFPC will have 500 farmers as members in a sub-division or district. The farmers will be identified on cluster basis in a village, taluk or district by forming Farmer Interest Group(FIGs), each consisting of 20 farmers. 25 such FIGs will be formed to establish a SFPC.

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FM : The Central Government has no plan to impose any tax on agriculture income
Apr 26,2017

The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Central Government has no plan to impose any tax on agriculture income. As per the Constitutional Allocation of Powers, the Central Government has no jurisdiction to impose tax on agricultural income.

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Gartner Survey Finds Government CIOs Spend 21 Percent of Their IT Budget on Digital Initiatives
Apr 26,2017

Top-performing organizations in the private and public sectors, on average, spend a greater proportion of their IT budgets on digital initiatives (33 percent) than government organizations (21 percent), according to a global survey of CIOs by Gartner, Inc. Looking forward to 2018, top-performing organizations anticipate spending 43 percent of their IT budgets on digitalization, compared with 28 percent for government CIOs.

Gartners 2017 CIO Agenda survey includes the views of 2,598 CIOs from 93 countries, representing US$9.4 trillion in revenue or public sector budgets and $292 billion in IT spending, including 377 government CIOs in 38 countries. Government respondents are segmented into national or federal, state or province (regional) and local jurisdictions, to identify trends specific to each tier. For the purposes of the survey, respondents were also categorized as top, typical and trailing performers in digitalization.

Rick Howard, research vice president at Gartner, said that 2016 proved to be a watershed year in which frustration with the status quo of government was widely expressed by citizens at the voting booth and in the streets, accompanied by low levels of confidence and trust about the performance of public institutions.

This has to be addressed head on, said Mr. Howard. Government CIOs in 2017 have an urgent obligation to look beyond their own organizations and benchmark themselves against top-performing peers within the public sector and from other service industries. They must commit to pursuing actions that result in immediate and measurable improvements that citizens recognize and appreciate.

Top Performers Secure Greater Budget Increases

Government CIOs as a group anticipate a 1.4 percent average increase in their IT budgets, compared with an average 2.2 percent increase across all industries. Local government CIOs fare better, averaging 3.5 percent growth, which is still more than 1 percent less on average than IT budget growth among top-performing organizations overall (4.6 percent).

The data is directionally consistent with Gartners benchmark analytics, which indicate that average IT spending for state and local governments in 2016 represented 4 percent of operating expenses, up from 3.6 percent in 2015. For national and international government organizations, average IT spending as a percentage of operating expenses in 2016 was 9.4 percent, up from 8.6 percent in 2015.

Whatever the financial outlook may be, government CIOs who aspire to join the group of top performers must justify growth in the IT budget by clearly connecting all investments to lowering the business costs of government and improving the performance of government programs, Mr. Howard said.

Top Technology Investment Priorities in Government

Looking beyond 2017, Gartner asked respondents to identify technologies with the most potential to change their organizations over the next five years.

Advanced analytics takes the top spot across all levels of government (79 percent). Digital security remains a critical investment for all levels of government (57 percent), particularly in defense and intelligence (74 percent).

The Internet of Things will clearly drive transformative change for local governments (68 percent), whereas interest in business algorithms is highest among national governments (41 percent). All levels of government presently see less opportunity in machine learning or blockchain than top performers do. Local governments are slightly more bullish than the rest of government and top performers when it comes to autonomous vehicles (9 percent) and smart robots (6 percent).

Biggest Barriers for Government CIOs

The top three barriers that government CIOs report they must overcome to achieve their objectives are skills or resources (26 percent), funding or budgets (19 percent), and culture or structure of the organization (12 percent).

Drilling down into the areas in which workforce skills are lacking, the government sector is vulnerable in the domain of data analytics (30 percent), which includes information, analytics, data science and business intelligence. Security and risk is ranked second for government overall (23 percent).

Bridge the skills gap by extending your networks of experts outside the agency, Mr. Howard said. Compared with CIOs in other industries, government CIOs tend not to partner with startups and midsize companies, missing out on new ideas, skills and technologies.

Seize the Digital Ecosystem Opportunity

The concept of a digital ecosystem is not new to government CIOs. Government organizations participate in digital ecosystems at rates higher than other industries, but they do so as a matter of necessity and without planned design, according to Gartner. Overall, 58 percent of government CIOs report that they participate in digital ecosystems, compared with 49 percent across all industries.

As digitalization gains momentum across all industries, the need for government to join digital ecosystems n++ interdependent, scalable networks of enterprises, people and things n++ also increases. The digital ecosystem becomes the means by which government can truly become more effective and efficient in the delivery of public services, Mr. Howard said.

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Gartner Survey Shows 85 Percent of Enterprises Will Have Started Windows 10 Deployments by End of 2017
Apr 26,2017

Migration to Windows 10 is expected to be faster than previous operating system (OS) adoption, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. The survey showed that 85 percent of enterprises will have started Windows 10 deployments by the end of 2017.

Between September and December of 2016, Gartner conducted a survey in six countries (the U.S., the U.K., France, China, India and Brazil) of 1,014 respondents who were involved in decisions for Windows 10 migration.

Organizations recognize the need to move to Windows 10, and the total time to both evaluate and deploy Windows 10 has shortened from 23 months to 21 months between surveys that Gartner did during 2015 and 2016, said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. Large businesses are either already engaged in Windows 10 upgrades or have delayed upgrading until 2018. This likely reflects the transition of legacy applications to Windows 10 or replacing those legacy applications before Windows 10 migration takes place.

When asked what reasons are driving their migration to Windows 10, 49 percent of respondents said that security improvements were the main reason for the migration. The second most-often-named reason for Windows 10 deployment was cloud integration capabilities (38 percent). However, budgetary approval is not straightforward.

Windows 10 is not perceived as an immediate business-critical project; it is not surprising that one in four respondents expect issues with budgeting, said Mr. Atwal.

Respondents device buying intentions have significantly increased as organizations saw third- and fourth-generation products optimized for Windows 10 with longer battery life, touchscreens and other Windows 10 features. The intention to purchase convertible notebooks increased as organizations shifted from the testing and pilot phases into the buying and deployment phases, said Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner.

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Gartner Says India Smartphone Business has Growth Potential, but Market Conditions are More Competitive
Apr 26,2017

Current Scenario: As the Indian cellular market goes through consolidation and aggressive 4G roll out, demand for smartphones will continue to grow. With smartphone penetration maturing in many developed markets (see Table 1), continued growth in the worlds third largest smartphone market makes India an attractive market to device manufacturers. Smartphones in India are expected to account for 62 percent of all mobile phones sales in India in 2018. 

Analyst Take: With the slowdown in sales in major markets, including the U.S., China and mature Western Europe, India represents the largest opportunity because it is the second-largest mobile phone market after China, said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

In addition, demonetization in India through the elimination of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes caused an increased push from the government for digital currency, as well as people becoming more open to using digital payment methods. The rise of digital currency is bringing a new use case for smartphones, which, in turn, is set to trigger higher demands for smartphones. This opens the opportunity for service providers to launch mobile wallet solution or even vendors to launch their exclusive mobile payment solutions like Android Pay or Apple Pay to build an ecosystem.

Table 1. Smartphone Unit Sales as a Percent of Overall Mobile Sales in Selected Markets, 4Q16

CountrySmartphone Penetration of Overall Mobile Phone Sales (%)China96India50US96Indonesia68Brazil92

Source: Gartner (March 2017)

Leading global vendors, Samsung and Apple, have made exclusive plans to grow their shares in the market. Major Chinese manufacturers, such as Gionee, Huawei, Oppo, BBK (Vivo), Xiaomi, Lenovo etc., have committed big investments to exploit the growth opportunity.

Ever rising competition from Chinese manufacturers has not only troubled top local brands such as Micromax, Intex, Lava and Karbon mobile but also resulted in a decrease in smartphone market share for Samsung in India (see Table 2).

With an exclusive focus on the market from the device manufacturers, we expect more customized smartphones to come to market and remain key to win in this highly competitive market, said Mr. Gupta.

Table 2: Top smartphone vendor share by unit sales to end users in India

Smartphone Vendor201420152016Samsung24.4%21.2%17.3%Micromax18.3%16.7%11.9%Lenovo1.6%7.3%8.1%Intex Technologies2.9%10.1%6.9%Karbonn Mobiles11.6%3.4%5.2%

Source: Gartner (March 2017)

As opposed to earlier falling mobile phone average selling price (ASP) trends led by the rush to low cost mobile phone, Gartner has noted a change in consumer spending. Our recently concluded consumer survey showed, users are willing to spend more to get a smartphone with better features than simply rushing for lowest price smartphones.

The growing ASP trend will be maintained in the coming years with the increasing middle class population and rising per capita income leading to more disposable income to be spent on electronic goods, Mr. Gupta said.

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Agriculture: Doubling Farmers Incomes by 2022-NITI Aayog
Apr 26,2017

In May 2016, the Prime Ministers Office advised the NITI Aayog, its premier, independent think tank, to prepare a Fifteen Year Vision, Seven Year Strategy and Three Year Action Agenda. The Fifteen Year Vision and Seven Year Strategy document spanning 2017-18 to 2031-32 is in progress. The Action Agenda covers the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20, the last years of the Fourteenth Finance Commission.

How does the Vision, Strategy and Action Agenda exercise differ from the Five Year Plan process?

The 12th Five Year Plan was the last of the Five Year Plans. With an increasingly open and liberalized economy and given the new realities of the global economy, we needed to rethink the tools and approaches to conceptualizing the development process. The Vision, Strategy and Action Agenda framework will allow us to better align the development strategy with the changed reality of India.

An Overview of the Three Year Action Agenda

In preparing the Agenda, the NITI Aayog sought and received inputs from State Governments, Union Territories and Ministries of the Central Government. Extensive consultations were held with groups of scientists, economists, journalists, voluntary organizations, industry associations and experts in education, health, culture, transport and other fields. Numerous experts and institutions provided useful written inputs.

The Draft Agenda was circulated to NITI Aayogs Governing Council Members on April 23, 2016. It contains ambitious yet achievable proposals to achieve far-reaching changes in Indias economy. Where relevant, we have included possible actions by the states to complement the Centres efforts. The document has 7 parts with 24 chapters.

Selected Key Action Agenda Items

Three Year Revenue and Expenditure Framework:

n++ A tentative medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) for the Centre is proposed. Based on forecasts of revenue, it proposes sector-wise expenditure allocation for three years.

n++ Proposes reduction of the fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2018-19, and the revenue deficit to 0.9% of the GDP by 2019-20.

n++ The roadmap consisting of shifting additional revenues towards high priority sectors: health, education, agriculture, rural development, defence, railways, roads and other categories of capital expenditure.

Agriculture: Doubling Farmers Incomes by 2022

n++ Reform the Agricultural Produce Marketing to ensure that farmers receive remunerative prices.

n++ Raise productivity through enhanced irrigation, faster seed replacement and precision agriculture.

n++ Shift to high value commodities: horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries.

n++ A separate detailed roadmap issued by Member, Professor Ramesh Chand

Industry and Services: Job Creation n++ Overarching Action Points

n++ Create Coastal Employment Zones to boost exports and generate high-productivity jobs.

n++ Enhance labour-market flexibility through reforming key laws

n++ Address the high and rising share of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) in Indias banks through supporting the auction of larger assets to private asset reconstruction companies (ARCs), and strengthening the State Bank of India-led ARC.

n++ Action points for specific sectors

n++ Apparel

n++ Leather and footwear

n++ Electronics

n++ Food processing

n++ Gems and jewelry

n++ Tourism

n++ Finance

n++ Real estate.

Urban Development

n++ Need to bring down land prices to make housing affordable through increased supply of urban land

1. More flexible conversion rules from one use to another

2. Release of land held by sick units

3. Release of other urban land potentially available

4. More generous Floor Space Index.

n++ Reform the Rent Control Act along the lines of Model Tenancy Act;

n++ Initiate titles of urban property

n++ Promote dormitory housing

n++ Address issues related to city transportation infrastructure and waste management.

Regional strategies

n++ Actions targeted aimed at improving development outcomes in the (i) North Eastern Region, (ii) Coastal Areas & Islands, (iii) North Himalayan states and (iv) Desert and Drought prone states.

Transport and Digital Connectivity

n++ Strengthen infrastructure in roadways, railways, shipping & ports, inland waterways and civil aviation.

n++ Ensure last-mile digital connectivity, particularly for e-governance and financial inclusion, through developing infrastructure, simplifying the payments structure and improving literacy.

n++ Facilitate Public-Private Partnerships.by reorienting the role of the India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd. (IIFCL), introducing low cost debt instruments and operationalizing the National Investment Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).

Energy

n++ Adopt consumer friendly measures such as provision of electricity to all households by 2022, LPG connection to all BPL households, elimination of black carbon by 2022, and extension of the city gas distribution programme to 100 smart cities.

n++ Reduce the cross-subsidy in the power sector to ensure competitive supply of electricity to industry.

n++ Reform the coal sector by setting up a regulator, encouraging commercial mining and improving labour productivity.

Science & Technology

n++ Create comprehensive database of all government schemes and evaluate them for desirable changes

n++ Develop guidelines for PPPs in S&T to improve education and industry-academia linkages for demand-driven research

n++ Channel S&T to address development challenges such as access to education, improving agricultural productivity and wastewater management.

n++ Create a n++National Science, Technology & Innovation Foundationn++ to identify and deliberate national issues, recommend priority interventions in S&T and prepare frameworks for their implementation

n++ Streamline the administration of the patent regime

Governance

n++ Re-calibrate the role of the government by shrinking its involvement in activities that do not serve a public purpose and expanding its role in areas that necessarily require public provision

n++ Implement the roadmap on closing select loss-making PSEs and strategic disinvestment of 20 identified CPSEs.

n++ Expand the governments role in public health and quality education.

n++ Strengthen the civil services through better human resource management, e-governance, addressing anomalies in tenures of secretaries and increasing specialization and lateral entry.

Taxation and Regulation

n++ Tackle tax evasion, expand the tax base and simplify the tax system through reforms. For example, consolidate existing custom duty rates to a unified rate.

n++ Create an institutional mechanism for promoting competition through comprehensive review and reform of government regulations across all sectors.

n++ Strengthen public procurement

The Rule of Law

n++ Undertake significant judicial system reforms including increased ICT use, structured performance evaluation and reduced judicial workload.

n++ Legislative, administrative and operational reforms of police are suggested to the states.

Education and Skill Development

n++ Shift the emphasis on the quality of school education paying particular attention to foundational learning

n++ Move away from input-based to outcome-based assessments

n++ Rank outcomes across jurisdictions

n++ Use ICT judiciously to align teaching to the students level and pace

n++ Revisit the policy of automatic promotion up to eighth grade

n++

Online Statement Of Transaction (e-SOT) and the e-PRAN card launched for Atal Pension Yojana (APY) subscribers
Apr 26,2017

With a view to digitally empower the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) subscribers and improve the quality of service, the facility of online viewing of the statement of transaction(e-SOT) and also the e-PRAN card have been launched. More than 45 lacs APY subscribers are likely to be benefitted. The APY subscribers can visit the website: www.npscra.nsdl.co.in or www.npstrust.org.in under the Atal Pension Yojana Section to avail these value added facilities. By providing the APY/PRAN Acct details and Savings Bank Account number details, the APY subscriber can view ones APY Account Statement. Even for the APY subscriber who does not have his APY PRAN number readily available can also avail these facilities by providing ones Date of Birth and Savings Bank Account number details. This online tool enables the Subscribers to view his complete details of APY account like transaction details, pension amount, pension commencement date, nominee name, associated bank name etc. Even though the feature is a self-servicing tool but the service providers can also access the feature on behalf of their customer to improve the quality of customer service. APY Subscribers can print their e PRAN card and get it laminated for their future reference if needed. In case of any changes in the demographic details in the APY account, the subscribers can re-print their e-PRAN which shows the updated subscriber records.

The Atal Pension Yojana (APY) Scheme is being implemented through 235 APY-Service Providers all over the country consisting of 27 Public Sector Banks (PSBs), 19 private banks, 1 foreign bank, 56 Regional Rural Banks (RRBs), 109 District Cooperative Banks (DCBs), 16 State Cooperative Banks(SCBs), 6 Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) and the Department of Posts. All the APY-SPs are partners in achieving the APY outreach through-out the length and breadth of the country. Presently, there are more than 45 lacs subscribers registered in the Scheme. About 10000-15000 APY subscribers are getting enrolled into the Scheme every day.

The Atal Pension Yojana (APY) was launched by the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi on 09th May, 2015 and became operational from 1st June, 2015. APY is available for all citizens of India in the age group of 18-40 years. Under the APY, the subscribers would receive a minimum guaranteed pension of Rs. 1000 to Rs. 5000 per month from the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which depends on the age of the subscriber at the time of joining the APY. The Same amount of pension is paid to the spouse in case of subscribers demise. After the demise of both i.e. Subscriber & Spouse, the nominee would be paid with the pension corpus. There is option for Spouse to continue to contribute for balance period on premature death of subscriber before 60 years, so as to avail pension by Spouse. There are tax benefits at entry, accumulation and pension payment phases. If the actual returns on the pension contributions during the accumulation phase are higher than the assumed returns for the minimum guaranteed pension, such excess returns are passed on to the subscriber, resulting in enhanced scheme benefits.

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