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NITI Ayog to roll out baseline data in about a month time: Amitabh Kant
Sep 26,2016

NITI Ayog (National Institution for Transforming India) to roll out baseline data for social indices in about a month time, said Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog at an ASSOCHAM event.

We have done this ease of doing business but the real challenge for India is to improve the socially indices and we have worked very hard on this. The key challenges are that the real time data is not available. So, we built base level data, the data being fixed by us for education, health and probably on months time we will roll this out, Mr. Kant while addressing an ASSOCHAM conference on 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

We have added lots of rules and regulations, procedures and acts and these have made things very difficult, many of them may have been done for good for you but India has made itself fully complex. This government has desired that India must become easy, simple, growth to take place and enabled wealth to take place. Therefore, we did lot of dismantling of rules and regulations. We have actually just dismantled close 1058 acts. But over the last two years we worked very closely among different departments to simplify processes, Kant said.

n++Political vigour and energy should be there in states for changes to happen. We have also initiated competition among states in Ease of Doing states. Many states have moved forward vigorouslyn++, said Mr. Amitabh Kant.

On the Ease of Doing business amongst the Indian state, I have seen a tremendous amount of competition among states. I have seen change rarely taking place and that evaluation is not being done by us that evaluation by World Bank. As per the World Bank evaluation, India jumped up 12th position but the competition among the Indian states and vast radical change is taking place and states are moving forward vigorouslyn++, said Mr. Kant.

n++We need to improve for our sake not for the World Bankn++, said Mr. Kant at the second day of ASSOCHAM 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

He further mentioned that the India is growing at 7.5% per annum but the challenge for India to grow at 9-10% per annum year after year for the next three decades. I think India needs to improve for itself thats the only way to India to grow at 9-10% per annum.

He further mentioned that India must become easiest and simplest state to do business. Over period of time, India must aim to become a very easy, simple to ways to do businesses.

n++If India has to grow at 9-10% then every institution...also the judicial system has to keep pace with changen++, said Kant.

He further said that the Judicial settlement takes about four and half years. The Commercial courts may improve things. Judiciary pandered to wishes of lawyers, said Mr. Kant.

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Textile ministry preparing plan to promote handicrafts & tribal communities: Smriti Irani
Sep 26,2016

The government through convergence of various ministries is working on a plan to promote tribal, handicrafts community and fill the various gaps, Union Textile Minister, Ms Smriti Irani said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++I had a meeting three days ago with the minister in-charge for tribal affairs and we are propagating a plan between two ministries so that there is convergence of effort to ensure things like uniqueness of their craft, the fact that they have challenge of not understanding the amount of opportunity the market has to offer to them, social challenges with regards to education, healthcare are met including housing,n++ said Ms Irani while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM Global Investors India Forum.

n++So we are preparing a plan to ensure, not only in the tribal community but in the handicrafts community per se, we have these interventions with convergence of various ministries and we reach out,n++ she added.

n++I think one of the biggest challenges in the handicrafts sector as I have said, is that those who were interested in their care between the central and state government or between state government and administration at the district level, the gaps arose in those areas which have not been filled for too long because it was nobodys baby, so now we are hoping that we bridge that gap,n++ further said the minister.

Sharing her experience in the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry, she said, n++I have personally seen how much success is met when there is direct communication between centre, state and district administration because we had that deadline by the Prime Minister to build toilets across all government schools across India in just one year which looked like a statistical and infrastructural impossibility.n++

n++I am proud to say that has been one of the landmark efforts of our government and I am hoping that we have a similar intervention in the handicraft, handloom sector as well because when you look at the north-east tribal community, you see them coming out with lovely handlooms as well but the challenge there has been that there needs to be a streamlined process of engagement across government in the federal structure so that it benefits the last mile individual, so thats what we are hoping to do,n++ said Ms Irani.

She also informed that government was conducting a study of all the reserves that India has.

n++We are in the process of digitising our land records in the country, so under the Digital India program, that is an emphatic push by the Government of India,n++ said the minister.

n++Also from the land and irrigation perspective, the Prime Minister has been very clear in his instructions that we need to map all that we have invested in our seven decades of democracy in irrigation systems of our country, how many of them are genuinely functional, how many need an intervention where they can be now propped up again and service the land around it, how many actually need new structures so those studies and mappings are underway currently,n++ she added.

In terms of an intervention for soldiers, how they can be better protected through clothing, she said, n++We have identified within the Ministry, our engagement with the Ministry of Defence as to what kind of support that we can give, the industry can have a huge intervention, not only from R&D (research and development) perspective but also from investment perspective, so that we self-support our systems, our army for their needs be it at Siachen or any other station. This includes our forces like BSF, CISF because they also have these technical textile needs.n++

The union minister also informed that Textile Ministry was in discussion with Road, Transport and Highways Ministry to ensure that logistical challenges are met and sought industrys support in this regard.

n++If we look at the logistical challenges that India has, as compared to Bangladesh, yes from placing the order onwards to processing that order takes longer in India than it takes in Bangladesh, so we are in conversation with Nitin Gadkari ji to ensure that our logistical challenges are met but after we have these facilitations we will need industry to step up and fill the gap from the perspective of investment envisaged,n++ said Ms Irani.

Highlighting the various challenges being faced by the power loom sector in India, she said, n++There are many complex issues ranging from subsidising for up-gradation of looms onwards to even providing money so that renewable energy can be used for looms, we are working out some kind of support for the entire sector but my biggest concern is for those who have one-two looms or less than eight looms because till now most of the money has gone to people who are organised better, not the individual power weaver, where everything is shutting down.n++

Talking about poor response from the industry to help build toilets in government schools across India while she was in the HRD Ministry, she said n++With a lot of hope I went out and pleaded with everybody in the industry to help me build toilets in the country, only five per cent stepped up, in fact Government of India funded it, we ensured that if a district collector said that I am not getting money in time, I would RTGS that fund straight from the centre so that my toilets are made in time.n++

She also said that the government was trying to push through administrative reform measures, that will make the engagements easier with institutions or individuals who want to bring about change on the ground. n++One has to recognise that government can only become that facilitator, that bridge and it is ultimately the industry and the people who have to walk the talk.n++

On the issue of caste inequalities, Ms Irani said, n++I think we have to be conscious of our challenges and address those challenges from a social and economic point of view, the challenge is that there are more people who divide compared to those who are there to fill those gaps.n++

She also said that there is a need to drive the children to pursue excellence and not to pursue a certificate as to promote innovation one needs to have an adventurous spirit that is engaged with at a very young age.

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Railways will spend 100% outlay this fiscal: Manoj Sinha, MoS, Railways
Sep 26,2016

The Railways will meet 100% expenditure target this fiscal, said Mr. Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Communications and Railways at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++The reforms will take time, Make India initiative will yield result in the coming yearn++, said Mr. Sinha while addressing an ASSOCHAM conference on 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

Mr. Sinha said that NPAs (Non Performing Assets) is the result of old legacy. There have been massive corruption infrastructure sector.

n++The Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFD) activities are going on as per the schedulen++, said Mr. Sinha while addressing the event.

n++The High speed golden quadrilateral on- to start in Mumbai- Ahemdabad sector work as per the plann++, said Mr. Sinha at the second day of ASSOCHAM 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

He further mentioned that 200 kmph trains will be seen in India too. Mr. Sinha said that Talgo has been advised to make changes to suit overnight journey.

The situation has improved since April 2014, said Mr. Sinha.

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86 MoUs Aggregating close to Rs 15,000 Crores Exchanged in IITIS-2016 & many more are in Pipeline
Sep 26,2016

Several announcements were made at the valedictory session of the Incredible India Tourism Investors Summit (IITIS)- 2016 organized by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry and the Tourism Finance Corporation of India to promote investments in Tourism sector in India. These announcements made by Secretary, M/o Tourism Shri Vinod Zutshi, included:

n++ Institutionalisation of IITIS to be held annually with the next Summit to be organized in September 2017;

n++ Setting up of a task force headed by Secretary, Tourism, with membership from relevant ministries, state governments, and industry associations to undertake strategic planning;

n++ Setting up of an investor facilitation desk to handhold investors and facilitate projects; and,

n++ Organising investor meets in States with the support of Ministry of Tourism.

States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttarakhand,and Chattisgarh exchanged 86 MoUs during the session and many more are in the pipeline, aggregating close to Rs 15,000 crores. IITIS-2016 had met the desired objectives and highlighted tourism investment potential in the country. Gujarat exchanged MoUs close to 9000 crores, Karnataka with 2600 crores, Rajasthan with 1000 crores, Uttarakhand with 500 crores and Chhattisgarh with 12 crores. Also, B. R. Shetty Group is keen to invest 450 crores and Costa Cruise 750 crores and Triveni Singapore close to 800 crores in the country.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism and Culture assured the Investors that his ministry will assist and support investors for making India the tourist destination of choice and for promotion of investment projects in tourism sector. He referred to the tourist helpline in 12 languages and highlighted that a portal is being opened for inviting suggestions. n++Let us join hands to give tourists a memorable experience,n++ he added.

World Bank is supporting Indias Buddhist Circuit development and will provide support for sustainable tourism development including through funds, said Ms Cecile Fruman, Global Director, Trade and Competitiveness, World Bank.

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NDRF deployed in rain affected areas of Hyderabad, Karnataka and Telengana
Sep 26,2016

Continuous heavy rains lashed several districts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telengana where normal life has been thrown out of gear due to flood-like situation. Heavy downpour wreaked havoc in the low lying parts and stranded several people.

09 flood rescue teams of NDRF comprising of 309 rescuers, equipped with 32 Inflatable Rubber Boats (IRBs) and latest Communication equipment, have been pre-positioned at various rain-affected areas of Andhra Pradesh. 03 teams are pre-positioned at Peduguralu, Narsarapet and Amravati areas of district Guntur. 01 team each is pre-positioned at Hyderabad and Vizag. 02 teams each are pre-positioned at Srikakulam and Nellore districts.

05 flood rescue teams of NDRF comprising of 158 rescuers, equipped with 16 Inflatable Rubber Boats (IRBs) and latest Communication equipment, are pre-positioned at various flood prone areas of Telengana. 01 team each is pre-positioned at Medak and Nizamabad. 03 teams are pre-positioned at Hyderabad.

03 flood rescue teams of NDRF comprising of 84 rescuers, equipped with 10 Inflatable Rubber Boats (IRBs) and latest Communication equipment, are deployed at various flood prone areas of Karnataka. 01 team each is pre-positioned at Bidar, Kalaburagi and Banglore districts.

NDRF team deployed at Kalaburagi, Karnataka carried out flood rescue operation and evacuated 21 marooned persons to safer places.

In addition to above, 17 flood rescue teams of NDRF are also prepositioned across other States of the country for quick response to flood like situations.

NDRF teams are in touch with the local administration and monitoring the situation round the clock.

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Counterparty Delays Forcing Renewable Energy Projects to Run Out of Steam
Sep 23,2016

State power utilities (major power purchasers) insensitivity to projects debt service commitments and delays in making payments - problems specific to conventional energy developers - are now plaguing renewable energy projects, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The central governments initiative - Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana scheme - aims to lessen the cash flow strain on distribution companies through the transfer of debt loads to states. However, until the scheme gathers further momentum and meaningfully bears any fruits to the sector, renewable energy projects are compelled to tide over the elevated risk of liquidity strain.

In the backdrop of several developers embarking on capital market transactions, counterparty delays could not only jeopardise bond potential issuances, but also erase the confidence of stakeholders. This is especially in view of the growing interest of developers to tap the capital market and investors penchants for RE bonds. Also, at this time when the masala bond and dollar bond market is fledgeling, a default on a domestic bond may prove costly and could skew risk spreads. Counterparties timely payments are inevitable to nurture the nascent non-recourse capital market debt instruments. Any event of default on the capital market instruments or invocation of a security/credit enhancement would have an adverse impact on the governments effort in deepening infra bond markets.

The debt structure of RE bonds includes a debt service reserve, equivalent to the maximum or six months of debt service obligation to guard against unforeseen events. Despite robust structural features, the continued strained liquidity has dented the projects standalone credit quality.

Maharashtra utilities are a new addition to the league of unreliable utilities, not only on the count of rising receivables but also due to their unwillingness to sign up for energy sale agreements. Although the receivable periods may vary, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan state utilities uneven payment records weigh heavily on projects risk profile. On the contrary, newly formed Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state utilities not only pay renewable energy project developers on time but also claim the rebate delineated in the power purchase agreements.

Although the direct impact of delayed payments will be apparent on projects liquidity, the ultimate impact could be on the lenders if the situation exacerbates. Increasingly, the historical payment record appears to be unreliable and elevates the need for a working capital line higher than the historical average receivable days of projects. However, the zeroing down on the size of the working capital line has become difficult. In many cases, the credit profile of RE projects is constrained by the weak financial health of the counterparties rather than operational and supply-related risks.

Given the reasonable historical payment record of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company, many sponsors failed to anticipate debtor days of over seven months and it was not the agencys base case as well. Notwithstanding projects operational strength, debt service could be impaired on prolonged payment delays by the state utility.

Although a majority of power purchase agreements mention a letter of credit as a backup for payment delays, it is rarely established by discoms. Uttar Pradesh utility in a few thermal power projects has entered into default escrow agreements wherein the revenues from a particular customer segment is escrowed to a default account, which is marked to the power generators escrow accounts. A similar structure has been proposed by Uttar Pradesh for renewable projects. While the federal government set ambitious targets in creating new capacities, projects remain hostage to rising receivables from state utilities, a continuance of which could impact investments in renewable projects and hurt the infra debt market. There is therefore a dire need to improve the liquidity of state utilities so that renewable projects do not become unviable.

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Moodys: Shift in US policies post elections could hit Asias high value manufacturing
Sep 23,2016

Moodys Investors Service says that the credit implications for Asia Pacific sovereigns of a potential shift in US (Aaa stable) policies after the election would materialize through changes in trade and investment if the next US administration adopts less proactive foreign engagement over time.

Moodys report points out that US policies under the next administration could range from a continuation of the status quo to a gradual retrenchment from trade and investment ties and curbs on immigration.

In general, the credit implications are likely to be limited. For instance, Asia Pacific sovereigns direct exposure to a potential slowdown in US imports is generally small. However, Asian economies whose exports to the US are focused on high value-added manufacturing products are more vulnerable to policies that disincentivized foreign sourcing of business services.

In this respect, Moodys says that Malaysia (A3 stable), Taiwan (Aa3 stable) and Korea (Aa2 stable) would be most vulnerable to efforts to repatriate high value-added manufacturing jobs. And, India (Baa3 positive) and the Philippines (Baa2 stable) would be exposed to any policies that discourage US businesses from foreign sourcing of services.

Moodys also says that over a longer period of time, a more insular climate in the US could crimp foreign direct investment flows, as expansion of production facilities refocus on domestic locations. However, the very small stock of US manufacturing Foreign Direct Investment in APAC implies negligible exposure in this respect.

Meanwhile remittances to Asia could weaken if the US tightened immigration rules. However, the Philippines (Baa2 stable) and Vietnam (B1 stable) whose remittances receipts from the US are largest in relation to the size of their economies also run current account surpluses that would provide buffers against any marked weakening in remittances inflows.

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Health Ministry to launch n++Mission Parivar Vikasn++ in 145 High Focus districts for improved family planning services
Sep 23,2016

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will soon launch n++Mission Parivar Vikasn++ in 145 high focus districts having the highest total fertility rates in the country. These 145 districts are in the seven high focus, high TFR states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam that constitute 44% of the countrys population. The main objective of Mission Parivas Vikas will be to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework.

These 145 districts have been identified based on total fertility rate and service delivery (PPIUCD and Sterilization performance) for immediate, special and accelerated efforts to reach the replacement level fertility goals of 2.1 by 2025. Recent data suggests that these 145 districts have TFR of more than/equal to 3.0 (56% of the 261 districts in the 7 HFS) and are home to 28% of Indias population (about 33 Crores). However, only 22% of Indias protected couples and 40% of Indias couples with unmet need reside in these districts. These districts also have a substantial impact on maternal and child health indicators as about 25-30% of maternal deaths and 50% of infant deaths occur in these districts Moreover, 115 of these districts (79%) have high percentage of adolescent mothers.

The key strategic focus of this initiative will be on improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, dovetailing with new promotional schemes, ensuring commodity security, building capacity (service providers), creating an enabling environment along with close monitoring and implementation.

The Mission will be implemented in all the 145 districts at one go.

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Government decides to shift the issue date of the Sovereign Gold Bonds 2016-17 Series-II from September 23, 2016 to September 30, 2016
Sep 23,2016

The Government of India in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India(RBI), had notified the issuance of Sovereign Gold Bonds, 2016-17 Series II vide Notification F.No.4(7)-W&M/2016 dated August 29, 2016. The tranche was open for subscription from September 01, 2016 to September 09, 2016. The bonds were to be issued on September 23, 2016.

Large number of applications have been received by banks and post offices. To enable smooth uploading of applications into RBIs E- Kuber system, particularly by the post offices, it has since been decided to shift the issue date of the Sovereign Gold Bonds from 23rd September,2016 to 30th September, 2016.

All other terms and conditions of the above Notification remain unchanged.

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Assure that GST will be applicable from April 1, 2017 across India: Arjun Ram Meghwal
Sep 23,2016

The union government is abiding by the target date for implementing the goods and services tax (GST) to ensure that it is applicable from April 1, 2017 across India, Minister of State for Finance, Mr Arjun Ram Meghwal said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++I can assure you that 1st April, 2017 is the target date for implementing GST in India and we are abiding that particular target and I can assure that 1st April 2017, GST will be applicable in the country,n++ said Mr Meghwal while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM Global Investors India Forum.

He said that all the issues relating to the states - whether pertaining to the standard rate, area-based exemption, product-based exemption, slab in the GST rate all will be decided in the GST Council after detailed discussion with the states.

n++We will deliberate the issues and definitely decide in the interest of the nation,n++ said Mr Meghwal.

The Union Minister added that the GST is a major initiative that can take Indias GDP growth to double digit level i.e. up to 10 per cent from current level of over seven per cent.

Highlighting that the Government is slowly moving towards the goal of - one nation, one tax, he said, n++We will consider all aspects and to promote ease of doing business and ensure success of Make in India program, we can also consider slab related issues.n++

He also said that government was working on the process to curtail black money generation. n++We are in the planning stage to curtail the black money in the generation process as we do not want black money to be generated.n++

Conceding that India is grappling with challenge of low private investment, Mr Meghwal said, n++I think, this is the biggest challenge before the government.n++

On the success of Skill India initiative, he said that the initiative will not succeed if it is not able to go as per the industrys requirement. n++We will take the input from you, though we are running Skill India program along with states, but we will definitely take the initiative and input from the industry.n++

The Minister also emphasised that unless agriculture, housing and rural sectors are improved, Indias GDP will not grow as per governments desire.

n++From 1952 we have been fixing the target that we will grow agriculture sector at four per cent, now this present government has taken so many initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, simplification of KCC (Kisan Credit Card), Soil Health Card, increasing irrigation facilities, so I hope that the target of growth for agriculture growth will be achieved,n++ said Mr Meghwal.

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NHAI Awards Contract for 4-Laning of Panchkula-Yamunanagar Section of NH-73 (new NH-344) in Haryana.
Sep 23,2016

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued Letter of Award (LOA) for development of following section in the state of Haryana under NHDP Phase-III:

NH No.SectionLengthTotal Project CostConcessionaires NameNH-73 (new NH-344)4 Laning of Panchkula-Yamunanagar Section from km 157.192 to km 176.40019 kmRs. 249 croreM/s Gawar Construction Ltd.

Panchkula and twin cities of Jagadhari and Yamunanagar are important commercial and industrial centres of Haryana.  Development of Panchkula-Yamunanagar Section from km 157.192 to km 176.400will improve connectivity to various villages and towns and confer boost to the economy of the area by way of providing access to various places of business and tourist importance.

The existing 108 km long stretch of NH-73 (New NH 344) between Panchkula to Yamunanagar connects Haryana to state of Uttar Pradesh and passes through Barwala, Sahjadpur, Saha, Jagadhari cities. This highway passes through Khol-hi-raitan wild life sanctuary at two section from km 175.350 to km 176.00 & 177.090 to km 177.500 and leads to Saharanpur and Roorkee.

The project has been divided into three packages.  Package-I and Package-II have already been awarded on EPC mode.  The balance length of 19 km has now been awarded on EPC mode which starts from km 160.356 near Barwala town and ends at km 179.249 at Panchkula.  The project would be completed  in 24 months from the date of commencement of the project. 

It will have 4 major Bridges, 3 major Junctions, 25 minor Junctions, 1 Flyover, 1 Vehicular Underpass, 1 Pedestrian Underpass, 2 Overhead Bridges for crossing, 10 Bus Bays and 9 km long service road on both sides.

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Uttarakhand one of the transparent states in doing business: Chief Minister, Uttarakhand
Sep 23,2016

Uttarakhand is one of the most transparent states in ease of doing business, provide conducive environment for industrial growth, said Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Mr Harish Rawat said at an ASSOCHAM event.

Uttarakhand has a lot of potential in infrastructure development and hospitality industry and there is an ample scope for expansion. The power generation is one the major thrust areas. We are focusing on the development of small hydro power plants. Some of the important projects are Tankul, Bhilangana-II and Painagad etc, said Mr. Rawat while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM conference on 2nd Global Investors India Forum (GIIF).

n++Uttarakhand is the policy driven state.n++ We are also providing the cheapest power in the country. He further said that Uttarakhand is one of the most transparent states to do business.

We have land availability and the climate for investment is very good in Uttarakhand. We are working on infrastructure development and there is an ample scope for expansion, said Mr. Rawat.

He further mentioned that the Uttarakhand has very attractive MSME policy linked with the Start-up policy. The Government has implemented a Start-up policy to provide a platform to the students emerging from the Educational Institutes of the state to help them grow as entrepreneurs.

To invite investment in Uttrakhand from pioneer IT industries of CMM I level V to provide firm platform for new entrepreneurs. The incentives under the policy are land/ space coast, capital subsidy, power subsidy, stamp duty etc.

Now, we are attracting a lot of people from small investors in the micro and small power projects and we are ahead to formulate our IT policy also.

We are also improving the connectivity. We are also coming out with new airport and I am hopeful that soon it will be connected with other major towns of the country and with new policy of government of India from regional connectivity, we have already three small airports and which will be develop further, said Mr. Rawat.

In hospitality sector, there are lot of prospects in our state and request you all to look into that area and which have lot of potential.

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Government targets doubling food processing levels to 20%
Sep 23,2016

The Government has set a target of doubling food processing levels in the country to 20% by 2019. Union Minister for Food Processing, Ms. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who was in Mumbai today, to inaugurate the Annapoorna : World of Food 2016 International Expo & Conference, said the n++food processing industry is a sunrise sector ready for exponential growthn++. She said despite all odds, the food processing sector has been able to register a 7.6 per cent growth, much higher than the agricultural and manufacturing sector growth.

The Minister however lamented that despite India being one of the largest food producing countries, the level of processing is a paltry 10%, while it is 70-80% in some of the South East Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. n++We have drawn up plans to double the level of processing from 10% to 20% by the time the 5 year term of the government is overn++, she said.

Ms. Badal said her ministry is facilitating ease of doing business and creating investor friendly policies and schemes to give a boost to the sector. She said the governments decision to permit 100 per cent FDI in trading, including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured or produced in India is expected to provide a major impetus to investments, employment and job creation in the food processing sector.

The Minister also informed that a Rs 2,000 crore corpus has been created to disperse cheap credit through NABARD for the food processing sector and several tax and duty concessions are being extended to food processing industries in 42 Mega Food Parks planned across the country.

Ms. Badal said that her recent trip to the UK has been successful and lot of international retail and food processing companies have evinced interest to enter India through joint venture with Indian companies.

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Record Production of Kharif Foodgrains estimated at 135.03 Million Tonnes
Sep 22,2016

Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh today released the 1st Advance Estimates of production of major Kharif crops for 2016-17. On the occasion Shri Singh said that as per 1st Advance Estimates for 2016-17, total production of Kharif Foodgrains is estimated at 135.03 million tonnes which is a new record. This year production is higher by 11.02 million tonnes as compared to last years Kharif foodgrains production of 124.01 million tonnes. Further, Kharif foodgrains production is also higher by 7.65 million tonnes than the last five years (2010-11 to 2014-15) average production of 127.38 million tonnes.

As per 1st Advance Estimates, the estimated production of major crops during Kharif 2016-17 is as under:

n++ Foodgrains - 135.03 million tonnes (record)

n++ Rice - 93.88 million tonnes (record)

n++ Coarse Cereals - 32.45 million tonnes

n++ Maize - 19.30 million tonnes (record)

n++ Pulses - 8.70 million tonnes (record)

n++ Tur - 4.29 million tonnes (record)

n++ Urad - 2.01 million tonnes (record)

n++ Oilseeds - 23.36 million tonnes

n++ Soyabean - 14.22 million tonnes

n++ Groundnut - 6.50 million tonnes

n++ Castorseed - 1.73 million tonnes

n++ Cotton - 32.12 million bales (of 170 kg each)

n++ Sugarcane - 305.25 million tonnes

The cumulative rainfall (1 June to 07 September, 2016) during the current monsoon season has been excess / normal in 29 and deficient in 07 out of 36 meteorological sub-divisions. As a result of favourable monsoon rainfall, area and yield of most of the Kharif crops is expected to be higher. Consequently, estimated production of most of the crops during current Kharif season is estimated to be higher as compared to their production as per 4th Advance Estimates for 2015-16. However, these are preliminary estimates and would undergo revision based on further feedback to be received from the States.

Total production of Kharif rice is estimated at 93.88 million tonnes which is a new record. This year rice production is higher by 1.1 million tonnes than previous record production of 92.78 million tonnes achieved during 2011-12. Production of Kharif rice is also higher by 4.16 million tonnes and 2.57 million tonnes over the average production of the last five years and the last years Kharif rice production respectively.

Total production of coarse cereals in the country is estimated at 32.45 million tonnes as compared to 27.17 million tonnes during 2015-16 (4th Advance Estimates). Production of Maize is estimated at record level of 19.30 million tonnes. This year production of Kharif maize is higher by 4.05 million tonnes than that the last years production.

As a result of significant increase in the area coverage and productivity of tur and urad, total production of Kharif pulses estimated at record level of 8.70 million tonnes which is higher by 3.16 million tonnes than the last years production of 5.54 million tonnes. The production of kharif pulses is also higher by 2.54 million tonnes than their last five years average production.

Total production of kharif oilseeds in the country is estimated at 23.36 million tonnes which is significantly higher than the production of 16.59 million tonnes during 2015-16. This year production of Kharif oilseed is also higher by 2.33 million tonnes than the average production of last five years.

Production of Sugarcane is estimated at 305.25 million tonnes which is lower by 46.92 million tonnes than the last years production of 352.16 million tonnes. Despite lower area coverage, higher productivity of Cotton has resulted in to higher production of 32.12 million bales (of 170 kg each) as compared to 30.15 million bales during 2015-16. Production of Jute & Mesta estimated at 10.41 million bales (of 180 kg each) is marginally lower than their production of 10.47 million bales during the last year.

The assessment of production of different crops is based on the feedback received from States and validated with information available from other sources.

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Ministry of Shipping Proposes New Model Concession Agreement for Port Sector
Sep 22,2016

The Ministry of Shipping has proposed a new Model Concession Agreement (MCA) for the Port Sector. The proposed MCA will replace the existing Model Concession Agreement which came into existence in January, 2008. The proposed MCA has taken into account the suggestions provided in various reports by Member Planning Commission (2010), Indian Ports Association (IPA-2015) and Kelkar Committee Report (2015).

The objectives of the revised Model Concession Agreement are following:

a) More equitable allocation of project risks.

b) Provisions to handle unforeseen circumstances.

c) Removing ambiguity in existing provisions.

d) To attract more private sector investment.

The salient changes proposed in the Revised Model Concession Agreements are:

1. Change in equity holding to provide exit route: The revised MCA has proposed that the Concessionaire shall hold 51 per cent equity until 3 years after Commercial Operation Date (COD) and 26 per cent thereafter for another 3 years. Hence, the private party would be free to exist after 6 years from COD. The Concessionaire may approach the Concessioning Authority to waive the equity holding requirement during the second 3 year term if performance parameters have been achieved during the first three year period.

2. Providing for refinancing provision in MCA: This amendment is aimed at facilitating availability of low cost long term funds to Concessionaire so as to improve the financial viability of the projects and is based on the Model Triartite Agreement approved by Department of Economic Affairs. Under this, the Concessionaire can issue Bonds on completion of one year of operation for refinancing of debt, this will in result in optimization of the finance cost of the projects.

3. Amendment in Definition of n++Change of Lawn++: As per the current MCA, change in law excludes

(i) Imposition of standards and condition arising out of TAMP guidelines, Environmental Law & Labor laws, and

(ii) Increase and imposition of taxes, duties, etc. for compensating the Concessionaire. As these can materially affect the viability of the project the proposed MCA states that the Concessionaire shall be compensated for all changes in law except imposition of n++New Direct Taxn++. This will help the Concessionaire to get compensation for all material changes in law.

4. Provision for mid-term review of concession: It is proposed that concessions may be reviewed by a Review Board (or any such competent authority) under applicable laws at the end of 15 years from COD to arrive at required mitigation measures. The triggers and nature and quantum of mitigation measures will be as per guidelines issued by the Government in this regard.

5. Approval of Discounts on Ceiling Rates for the Purpose of Recovery of Revenue share: Presently, revenue share is payable on Gross Revenue, calculated as per tariff ceilings even if Concessionaire has to allow discount to keep the charges competitive. With a view to have a balanced risk allocation, it is proposed that Concessionaire shall be entitled to approach Port to consider and approve discounts on ceiling traffic and revenue share shall be paid on the approved discounted tariff of the approved revenue share. Cargo storage charges will be excluded while computing Gross Revenue for the purpose of Revenue Sharing.

6. Provision for Commercial Operations before COD: It is proposed to permit operations before COD on project specific terms and conditions about level of operations and payment to the port; this will lead to better utilization of assets provided by the Port in many projects.

7. Improved Utilization of Project Assets and Higher Productivity: Presently, Concessionaire is required to operate the Project as least as per scope of work. In order to avoid any ambiguity, its now been specified that the Concessionaire is free to deploy higher capacity equipment/facilities for higher productivity and improved utilization of Project assets.

8. Grievance Redressal System: The proposed MCA will have a Grievance Redressal System where the Concessionaire shall create a Grievance Redressal Portal in their website with adequate monitoring system and timelines for redressal.

9. Applicable Tariff Guidelines: This provision is to give an option to Concessionaire to adopt changed/revised Tariff guidelines as and when issued by the Government. It is proposed that private party will have option to adopt new or revised guidelines within 90 days of publication in official gazette.

10. Provision for Additional Land, Utilities & Services: Presently the charges payable by the Concessionaire for additional land, utilities and services are equal to 200 per cent of the scale of rates, as per the proposed MCA provisions have been made for providing additional land, utilities and services during operation period and required for Project Operations on payment of 120 percent of the applicable scale of rates.

11. Replacement of n++Actual project Costn++ with n++Approved Project Costn++: Presently, if the Actual Project cost, certified by statutory auditors, is higher than the earlier estimates, Concessioning Authority may increase the project cost. However, the procedure for the same is not prescribed. It is proposed to replace the Actual Project Cost with Approved Project Cost and prescribe procedure for approval. The Concessionaire shall summit statement of actual capital cost incurred on the project as certified by statutory auditors within a period of 90 days of issue of completion certificate. If the cost is more that the Estimated Project Cost or cost incorporated in Financing Plan, it shall be referred to the Independent Engineer for his comments on (i) reasonability of expenditure and (ii) need of expenditure to provide project facilities and services as per Scope of Work. The Concessioning Authority will take a decision on approving the enhanced cost taking into account the Report of the Independent Engineer.

The proposed changes in the Model Concession Agreement have been uploaded on the official website (www.shipping.nic.in) of the Ministry of Shipping for seeking comments of the stakeholders.

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