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FICCI sets up Online Travel and Technology Committee to give a fillip to net-based travel
Oct 26,2016

FICCI has instituted the Online Travel and Technology Committee under the aegis of its existing Tourism Committee to champion the cause of netizens and online travel companies. FICCIs Online Travel and Technology Committee owes its genesis to the rapid penetration of Internet and mobile which has transformed the way travel industry operates and how travellers book and consume travel related products.

The chamber recognizes the changing travel market dynamics and the significant role online travel and technology is playing towards shaping the future travel booking, consumption and distribution trends. It understands the drivers towards these trends in-terms of internet penetration, usage of smart phones and simplification of transactional supported payment mechanism.

The Committee will be led by Mr. Dhruv Shringi, Co founder & CEO, Yatra Online and comprise key stakeholders of online travel companies including MakeMyTrip, Clear Trip and various other stakeholders and knowledge partners from the online travel segment of the tourism industry.

Says Dr. A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, n++The Committee has been formed for outlining the roadmap for a robust regulatory policy for the online travel industry and also to encourage innovation in travel & tourism sectorn++.

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Indias absolute score improved from 53.93 to 55.27 in the previous year
Oct 26,2016

The World Banks annual Doing Business 2017 report released recognizes Indias achievements in implementing reforms in four of its ten indicators-Trading Across Borders, Getting Electricity, Enforcing Contracts and Paying Taxes. This is the first time in its history that India has been recognized for improvement in four indicators.

Improvement in Ranking and Distance to Frontier

The Doing Business report ranks countries on the basis of Distance to Frontier, an absolute score that measures the gap between India and the global best practice. Indias absolute score improved from 53.93 to 55.27 in the previous year. This is the first time in history that India has improved its absolute score in two consecutive years. Additionally, Indias Distance to Frontier score improved on 6 out of the 10 indicators, showing that India is increasingly progressing towards best practice.

TopicsDB 2015 DB 2015
DB 2016 DB 2016 (Revised)DB 2017 Overall rank142134130131130Distance to Frontier52.67-54.6853.9355.27

The change in ranking of India across the 10 indicators is as follows:

TopicsDB 2015 RankDB 2016 RankDB 2017 RankGetting Electricity n++n++ 1377026Enforcing Contracts n++n++ 186178172Starting a Business n++n++158155155Registering Property n++n++ 121138138Resolving Insolvency n++n++ 137136136Construction Permits n++n++ 184183185Getting Credit n++n++ 364244Protecting Minority Investors n++n++ 7813Paying Taxes n++n++ 156157172Trading Across Borders n++n++ 126133143

Reforms Recognized by World Bank

I. On Getting Electricity, the report recognized the efforts of Tata Power in Delhi to make it faster and cheaper to obtain an electricity connection. These efforts, combined with efforts in Mumbai last year, have allowed India to improve its rank on this indicator from 137 in Doing Business 2015 to 26 in this years report, a 111 rank improvement.

II. The report has also recognized the establishment of Commercial Divisions within the High Courts in Delhi and Mumbai to deal with commercial cases above Rs. 1 crore. This has allowed India to improve its rank by 14 places in 2 years.

III. In the area of Trading Across Borders, the report recognized the implementation of the Single Window Interface for Trade (ICEGATE), which integrates approvals and risk-based frameworks of customs and nine departments to provide traders with a single online interface for import clearances.

IV. On Paying Taxes, the report recognized online filing and payment of returns at the Employees Social Insurance Corporation.

Reforms Not Recognized by World Bank This Year

The World Bank acknowledges only such reforms which have been implemented in Mumbai and Delhi by 1st of June each year; if they are reported as implemented by business intermediaries. Following major reforms have not been accounted for in current years report:

I. Enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code has transformed Indias corporate insolvency landscape by replacing outdated laws with a new legal framework. Once implemented, it will improve our rank significantly in resolving insolvency index in next years ranking.

II. The constitutional amendment to enact a Goods and Services Tax, which will promote a common market across the country. On implementation, our rank on Starting a Business and Paying Taxes will improve significantly next year.

III. Introduction of online single window systems for building plan approval in Delhi and Mumbai, integrating permissions of various agencies. This has reduced time to process and issue building plan approvals from 231 days to 21.85 days on an average in Delhi, and from 147 days to 26.39 days in Mumbai. This will be reflected only in next years report after private sector respondents have used the system widely.

IV. Introduction and streamlining of INC-29 for company incorporation, which is currently used by 30% of new companies. This reform was not factored in this year because as per the World Banks methodology more than 50 per cent of users should have used the system in the period 2nd June, 2015 to 1st June, 2016.

V. The elimination of the requirement of a company seal while applying for government registrations and permissions at the time of setting up of a business. The Companies Act, 2013 was amended in 2015 to make provision for the same but has not been accounted for by the World Bank. The Bank has observed that, to open a bank account a company seal was required, which was not found to be the case.

VI. Online registration for ESIC and EPFO registration, which has expedited the time to register. This functionality has been made applicable from 1st December, 2015. The World Bank has not accepted the evidence provided in this regard.

VII. Online filing and payment of returns at the Employees Provident Fund Organization, where the majority of returns and payments are now filed and paid fully online. This reform has not been considered even though it was implemented by EPFO on 5th June, 2015. The World Bank has stated that this would be reflected in the rankings next year.

VIII. Streamlining of name reservation process at Ministry of Corporate Affairs, reducing the time taken to an average of 1.86 days.

IX. Registration under VAT and Profession Tax has been merged into a single process from 1st January, 2015 by Government of Maharashtra.

X. Registration for VAT in Delhi has been made online and is allotted real time and business can start operations immediately on receipt of TIN number.

34546 MT pulses procured from farmers during ongoing Kharif season
Oct 26,2016

The Government agencies have procured 34546.69 MT pulses- Moong and Urad as on 25 October 2016 during ongoing Kharif Marketing Season (KMS).

FCI, NAFED and SFAC are procuring Kharif pulses from the farmers to ensure MSP for their crops in pulses producing states.

So far, FCI has procured 8166.71 MT, NAFED 23510.13 MT and SFAC 2869.85 MT Moong and Urad since the arrival of Kharif crop during ongoing KMS 2016-17.

The Government has set up the procurement target of 50,000 MT Kharif pulses during current KMS for its buffer stock.

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Government of India and World Bank Sign $650 Million Agreement for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor Project
Oct 26,2016

The Government of India and the World Bank signed a $650 million agreement towards the third loan for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (a freight-only rail line) that will help faster and more efficient movement of raw materials and finished goods between the north and eastern parts of India. The project was approved by the World Bank Board on June 30, 2015.

The loan and guarantee agreement for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor Project was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; M.K. Mittal, Director, Finance, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation(DFCCIL) and Hisham Abdo, Operations Manager and Acting Country Director, World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank.

The Eastern Corridor is 1,840 km long and extends from Ludhiana to Kolkata. The World Bank is supporting the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) as a series of projects in which the three sections with a total route length of 1,193 km will be delivered sequentially, but with considerable overlap in their construction schedules. EDFC 3, approved by the Board on June 30, 2016, will build the 401 km Ludhiana-Khurja section which goes through Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The project will help increase the capacity of these freight-only lines by raising the axle-load limit from 22.9 to 25 ton axle-load (upgradable to 32.5 ton axle loads) and enable speeds of up to 100 km/hr. The DFC lines are being built to carry bulk freight trains of 6,000 to 12,000 gross tons. The project is also developing the institutional capacity of the DFCCIL to build and maintain the DFC infrastructure network.

n++The objective of the EDFC project is to augment railway freight carrying capacity along the Railway Corridor between Ludhiana and Kolkata. The project will benefit industries of Northern and Eastern India, which rely on railway network for transportation of material inputs and exports that would accelerate creation of jobs in the northern and eastern regions of the country,n++ said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.

The first loan of $975 million for the 343 km Khurja-Kanpur section in the EDFC program was approved by the World Bank Board in May 2011 and is already under implementation. The project has already awarded contracts worth Rs 5500 crore. The second loan of $1.1 billion for the 402 km Kanpur-Mughalsarai section was approved by the World Bank Board in April 2014 and is in the implementation phase. The major contracts for civil works and systems has been awarded with a total value of Rs, 6300 crore.

n++Implementing the Dedicated Freight Corridor program will provide India the opportunity to create one of the worlds largest freight operations. The corridor, which will pass through states like Uttar Pradesh, will benefit from the new rail infrastructure, bringing jobs and much-needed development to some of Indias poorest regions,n++ said Hisham Abdo, Operations Manager and Acting Country Director, World Bank India. n++Moving freight from road to rail will reduce the carbon footprint of freight,n++ he added.

The EDFC is part of Indias first Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) initiative - being built on two main routes - the Western and the Eastern Corridors. These corridors will help India make a quantum leap in increasing the railways transportation capacity by building high-capacity, higher-speed dedicated freight corridors along the Golden Quadrilateral. Currently, the rail routes that form a Golden Quadrilateral connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, account for 16 percent of the railway networks route length, but carry more than 60 percent of Indias total rail freight.

Augmenting its transport systems is a crucial element of Indias trillion-dollar infrastructure agenda. Since the 1990s, road transport has advanced more rapidly than the railways, and now accounts for about 65 percent of the freight market and 90 percent of the passenger market in India, and those shares are growing.

n++The Indian Railways urgently needs to add freight routes to meet the growing freight traffic in India, which is projected to increase more than 7 percent annually. These freight lines will wholly transform the capacity, productivity, and service performance of Indias busiest rail freight corridors. At completion, it will be able to more than double its capacity to carry freight, with faster transit times, being more reliable and at lower cost,n++ said Ben L. J. Eijbergen, Program Leader, Economic Integration and the Task Team Leader for the Project.

Significant Green Impact: In addition to the efficiency improvement and other operational benefits, the project is expected to bring in significant reductions in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

A Green House Gas Emission Analysis was conducted by DFCCIL for the Eastern DFC Project. The analysis shows that the Eastern corridor is expected to generate about 10.48 million tons of GHG emissions up to 2041-42, as against 23.29 million of GHG emissions in the absence of EDFC - a 55 percent reduction in GHG emissions.

Economic opportunities are also being explored along the freight corridor. The government is planning to set up integrated manufacturing clusters using EDFC as the backbone. These clusters will be set up with an investment of about $1 billion on either side of EDFC.

The loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 7-year grace period, and a maturity of 22 years.

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Expect Insolvency and Bankruptcy Law to become operational by end-December 16: Shanktikanta Das
Oct 26,2016

The Union Government expects the entire Insolvency and Bankruptcy Law to become operational by end-December 2016, Economic Affairs Secretary, Mr Shaktikanta Das said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++We have a definite roadmap to implement the Bankruptcy Law, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs is working on it, the Law Ministry, the Legislative Department have played a very significant role in finalising the legislation and they will continue to have a very significant role in also finalising the regulations,n++ said Mr Das.

Highlighting how a clear roadmap has been drawn up, he informed that Ministry of Corporate Affairs has already published certain draft regulations and have invited comments, other regulations and rules are under preparation and they will be put in the public domain for public consultation.

n++Now it is the responsibility of both government and industry bodies and every category of professionals to develop information utilities, to develop insolvency professionals and take the implementation of this law forward and see that it is fully implemented and the economy and country is able to get its full benefits,n++ said Mr Das.

The DEA (Department of Economic Affairs) secretary also said that Insolvency and Bankruptcy Law creates massive opportunities for new service sector professionals who can manage information utilities and it also opens up lot of opportunities for a new category of professionals, mainly the resolution professionals who have to play a very important role.

n++I think the most critical thing for success of Bankruptcy code will be our ability to create good quality insolvency professionals. This opens up opportunities for professionals from the field of banking, legal professionals, chartered accountants, other finance professionals, people who have experience in management of companies,n++ said Mr Das.

Talking about the Centres determination to implement goods and services tax (GST) from April 1, 2017, he said n++Administratively and whatever preparedness is required, all that is in place and the government is absolutely determined to introduce it (GST) from 1.4.2017, the state governments are also equally committed to introducing it from that date.n++

n++The GST will happen, Bankruptcy Law has happened and both these pieces of legislation together with amendments to the Arbitration Law, SARFESAI, DRT related laws and the Company Law, these have the potential of creating a very vibrant and dynamic economy in India,n++ he added.

n++Our expectation is that the Bankruptcy Law together with the GST will really bring in a lot of dynamism and efficiency in to the Indian economy,n++ he said further.

On the issues pertaining to GST rate structure on which there is lot of discussion going on at the moment, within the GST Council and also in the public domain, Mr Das said, n++We hope and we are quite confident that they will get resolved in the next meeting of GST Council in the 1st week of November. I think in may be one or two more sittings, it should come to a conclusion.n++

n++The rate structure has been prepared based on a very practical basis, the rate has to be necessarily revenue neutral, we cannot have a rate structure where the governments run into huge deficits and consequently both state and Central governments will have to go and borrow the money from market,n++ he elaborated.

n++With higher fiscal deficit if the governments borrow higher amounts from the market and suck out all the liquidity, there is nothing left for the private sector investment in the economy to take place,n++ added DEA secy.

He said therefore, the GST rate structure has been worked out in such a manner that the bulk of commodities are under the standard rate which is 18 per cent and the items which are very important and are used by large section of people i.e. common man have been kept at six per cent.

n++It is a very practically worked out formulation, there are couple of issues that are still under deliberation in the GST Council and I am sure it will be resolved,n++ said Mr Das.

Highlighting how GST will contribute in bringing down the rates, he said n++This whole discussion which some people tend to make that GST will lead to increase in prices is a completely misplaced discussion.n++

He elaborated that currently central excise is at 12.5 per cent, state VAT (value added tax) is about 14-14.5 per cent and together they are about 26-27 per cent and in certain goods it is at 30 per cent.

n++In GST the peak rate is much lower than the current rate and the peak rate is only for demerit goods and for certain luxury items, while bulk of items/goods are in the 18 per cent bracket,n++ said the DEA secy.

n++So the GST will bring down the prices, we are trying to make India a low-cost economy through the instrumentality of GST, it will facilitate logistics cost also to go down because the waiting time in the various check-posts by trucks on an average is as much as 48 hours, which makes costs of logistics higher,n++ he added

n++With the GST coming in, check-posts going, our logistics cost will come down, o we are looking at more moderate level of taxes,n++ further said Mr Das.

He also expressed hope of agriculture growth definitely going up to 4.5 per cent on back of good monsoon which will contribute substantially to this years overall economic growth.

n++So we are therefore looking at a growth which will be upwards of 7.6 per cent and hopefully, close to eight per cent, but that we will only know when the year ends,n++ he added.

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Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Going to Initiate Integrated Farming on 100 KVKs
Oct 25,2016

The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) set up throughout the country play very important role to enhance the income of the farmers and promote agriculture. The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare appealed KVKs and state level agriculture officials that they should work with the farmers in very much closed affinity. They were called for to extend their contribution to the farmers for enhancing their income. Shri Radha Mohan Singh added that Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is going to initiate integrated farming on 100 KVKs very shortly. The farmers living in the district after having observed them can adopt to increase their income.

The Union Minister addressed the scientists of 12 Krishi Vigyan Kendras, State Level Agriculture Officer, Livestock, Fisheries, and Horticulture Officers as well as beneficiary farmers. This was for the first time that the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare had a direct dialogue with KVK Officers as well as beneficiary farmers through video conferencing.

The Minister addressed the experts of Krishi Vigyan Kendra situated in Andhra Pradesh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Goa, Karnataka, Karela, Lakshyadweep, Maharashtra, Orissa, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and the State and District level Agriculture Development Officers as well as progressive farmers. The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers in the first half of the hour put up his outlook to the farmers and thereafter in a span of half an hour responded their queries.

Shri Radha Mohan said to the KVKs officers that the farmers require quality seeds, planting materials as well as fertilizers to increase the productivity of their crops. Therefore, the officers must help them through and through. The Minister of Agriculture also mentioned on this eve about the diseases of the animals and their vaccination. Shri Singh added that officers must continue to check the diseases of the animals. The Minister further added that after having put a check on the diseases of the animals, the income of the farmers will increase. The Union Minister of Agriculture briefed farmers about agriculture projects and agriculture strategies of the government. Shri Singh said to the officers that they must be dedicated from the bottom of their heart for the fulfillment of these projects.

On this juncture the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare appealed the farmers to adopt fisheries so as to double their income. Shri reiterated the state and district level fisheries officers that they should take necessary steps to celebrate the World Fishery Day on 21st November and give support to the farmers in every walk of their agricultural need. The Union Minister further added that on 5th December the World Soil Health Day is celebrated. Therefore, the states are required to prepare themselves for the celebration. The Minister said that the farmers should get the Soil Health Card made and in this respect they should negotiate with the nearby agriculture officers.

The Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said to the farmers that they should not put the paddy harvesting after weeds but they should utilize this stuff to convert it into bio-fertilizer. Later on the farmers put up their queries before the Union Minister and called for the solution of their problems.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh briefed the farmers that for their welfare 645 Krishi Vigyan Kendras have been reconstituted throughout the country. The government is going to take the initiative for opening 106 new KVKs in all newly created and larger districts of the country. Shri Singh reiterated that now in every district of the country is comprised of KVK which will be dedicated for the benefit of the farmers and will sort out the problems.

The first phase of the video conferencing comprised of three phases completed on 19th October, 2016. The Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare addressed the Officers of Krishi Vigyan Kendras and as well as farmers of 12 states from Northern India. The third and final phase of video conferencing will be held on 28th October in which the KVK Officers of Hill States and farmers thereof will have a mutual dialogue with the Union Minister.

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MoU signed between MoUD and NBCC (India) & CPWD
Oct 25,2016

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and National Buildings Construction Corporation (India) and Central Public Works Department (CPWD) for redevelopment of seven General Pool Residential Accommodation (GPRA) colonies.

During the occasion, the Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Shri Rajiv Gauba said that it is a path breaking initiative and MoUD along with NBCC and CPWD will be redeveloping the seven GPRA colonies. He said that, earlier also, Motibagh and Kidwai Nagar (East) had been redeveloped on similar lines, but this initiative is much bigger and significant. It is self-sustainable project, he added.

The NBCC will redevelop Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Nauroji Nagar and CPWD will redevelop Kasturba Nagar, Thyagraj Nagar, Srinivaspuri and Mohammadpur. The Union Cabinet had approved the project on 05 July 2016.

The total estimated cost of the project is Rs. 32,835 crores including maintenance and operation costs for 30 years. The cost of works assigned to NBCC would be Rs. 24,682 crores and to CPWD would be Rs. 7,793 crores. The project shall be implemented on self-financing basis by sale of commercial Built up Area (BUA) of 8.07 lakh sqm. constructed in Nauroji Nagar and parts of Sarojini Nagar by NBCC as a part of the project.

Under the Project, the existing housing stock of 12,970, would be replaced by approx. 25,667 dwelling units, with supporting social infrastructure facilities. The construction of the project will be completed in five years, in a phased manner.

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Thrust on Increasing Productivity of Oilseeds and Pulses to meet the Nations requirement: Shri Radha Mohan Singh
Oct 25,2016

The Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Shri Radha Mohan Singh outlined the thrust of the Agriculture Ministry for increasing the productivity of oilseeds and pulses to achieve self sufficiency. Addressing the Members of the Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Agriculture this morning, Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare will jointly work on a two-pronged approach of productivity enhancement and increasing production through area expansion for meeting the shortage of pulses.

As regards oilseeds the Minister said that the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is having research programmes for nine annual oilseeds crops at four commodity based research institutes. The Minister pointed out that there has been a technological breakthrough in oilseeds and a number of climate resilient high yielding varieties/hybrids of oilseeds has been notified for cultivation and increasing the productivity. He was confident that by adopting the already available technologies yield of nine oilseeds crops could be increased.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh informed the Members that India has a number of oil yielding species of plant origin which include the nine annuals, two perennials (oil palm and coconut) and some minor oil bearing species of forest and tree origin.

Among the nine annual oilseed crops, groundnut, rapeseed-mustard, soybean, sunflower, sesame, Niger and safflower are used for edible purpose and castor and linseed are the non-edible vegetable oil.

Soybean contributes largest (36%) to the total oilseed production followed by groundnut, rapeseed- mustard, castor, sesame, sunflower, linseed, safflower and Niger. India is the largest producer of castor and dominates in global castor oil trade. The growth rate of edible oil consumption has increased at 4.3% while the annual oilseeds production increased at about 2.2%, thus necessitating the import of edible oils. The country has to import more than 50% of edible oil. Last year edible oils to the tune of Rs 69,717 crores were imported to meet the domestic demand.

To meet the annual consumption of vegetable oil in the country by 2020 and 2025 (which is expected to reach 16.43 kg. and 16.98 kg per capita) it has been estimated that oilseed production to the tune of 86.84 and 93.32 Mts would be required by 2020 and 2025 respectively.

The Minister said that in order to make country self sufficient in vegetable oil, the productivity enhancement programme for oilseeds may also require institutional and policy support in a campaign mode besides technological support from ICAR.

As regards pulses the Minister said that ICAR is engaged in development of high yielding varieties/hybrids and associated crop production and protection technologies of various pulse crops through coordination with Indian Institute of Pulse Research, Kanpur and participation of the State Agricultural Universities, State Departments of Agriculture and other Institutes. Technological breakthrough in pulses in terms of notification of high yielding and pest/disease tolerant crop varieties/hybrids has been achieved.

At the farmers fields, the frontline demonstrations (FLDs) on pulses recorded productivity gap of 15% due to non-adoption of improved variety of pulses and up to 34% due to non-adoption of the whole package of technology. It is estimated that by bridging this whole package productivity gap of 34% at the farmers fields, the national pulses production can be increased from 17.62 mt (average of triennium ending 2015-16) to 23.61 mt without bringing any additional area under them and that would be enough to make the country self-sufficient in pulses for the time being. The Minister said that it is proposed to cover 500 kvks through field demonstration for increasing pulses cultivation from the earlier 400 Kvks. The Minister also said that 100 seed hubs have been sanctioned for breeder seeds.

The Minister said that in order to reach self-sufficiency by the year 2025 productivity per hectare needs to be enhanced to about 1000 kg per hectare. A road map to achieve production of 20 mt pulses in 2016-17, 21 mt in 2017-18 and 24 mt in 2020-21 as against 16.47 mt production in 2015-16 has been envisaged with a comprehensive action plan under centrally sponsored scheme of National Food Security Mission (NFSM).

It may be recalled that pulses production registered a remarkable increase from 14.76 million tons (mt) in 2007-08 to a record level of 19.25 mt in 2013-14. This could be possible due to a cumulative effect of scientific interventions in the form of development of new varieties & technologies, good weather conditions and policy support. However during the last two years, there was a decline in production, mainly due to climate adversities. In 2014-15, the production was recorded at 17.15 mt while during 2015-16 it was 16.47 million tons, well short of the current domestic requirement of about 22 mt., as a result, 5.80 mt of pulses worth Rs. 18000. crores were imported during 2015-16. Intervening in the discussion the Minister explained that the para-meters for drought relief under National Disaster Relief Fund have been changed but it is for the States to send a memorandum for seeking drought reliefs. The minister also emphasized the need for greater mechanization in harvesting of pulses and oilseeds to prevent harvest loss.

Members cutting across party lines complimented the Minister for the new thrust on farmers welfare and the steps being taken by the NDA government to increase agricultural production especially in pulses and oilseeds.

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Ind-AS: Credit Neutral for Corporates
Oct 25,2016

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) says that changes in accounting standards under Ind-AS are unlikely to have any impact on the credit quality of Ind-Ra rated large corporates (issuers).

The central government of India notified the Companies (Indian Accounting Standards) Rules, 2015 in February 2015, to achieve convergence of Indian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (IGAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards. With the implementation of Ind-AS, it has become mandatory for the specified companies to comply with Ind-AS over FY17-FY18. Ind-AS is based on substance over legal form, fair value and time value of money whereas IGAAP is based on legal form, conservatism, and historical value.

As an analytical practice, Ind-Ra focuses more on cash flow in its credit quality assessments than on accrual based numbers. However according to the agency, increased disclosure and transparency could provide early signs of potential pressure in corporates earnings or cash flow. Ind-AS would also make the financial statements of Indian corporates comparable across geographical markets. This would give a better understanding to global investors about the financial state of Indian corporates, and help Indian corporates raise capital abroad with minimal administrative costs. However, implementing it would be challenging in terms of different legal and regulatory requirements, depth of domestic markets to provide reliable fair values and preparedness of Indian corporates and accounting professionals.

Ind-AS provides for some significant changes in the financial reporting of corporates. Some of these changes are listed below:

a) Revenue recognition

b) Consolidation

c) Property, plant & equipment, intangibles

d) Business combination

e) Disclosure requirement

f) Financial instruments

g) Introduction of Other Comprehensive Income as part of financial statements

h) Employee cost

We have discussed these changes, their impact on financial statements, Ind-Ras treatment of these changes in credit assessments and the consequent impact, if any, on the credit profile of issuers in our report. Ind-Ra has also analysed Ind-AS compliant financial statements reported by some of the large entities in the following sectors - fast moving consumer goods, information technology, pharma, oil & gas, auto, construction, power and cement.

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Low Risk Appetite to Keep Markets Range-Bound
Oct 25,2016

Debt and currency markets will focus on global cues over the coming week and are likely to trade in a range-bound manner. The 10-year G-sec yield could trade in the 6.71%-6.81% range (6.76% at close on 21 October 2016). The rupee is likely to trade at 66.70/USD-67.30/USD (66.89/USD at close on 21 October 2016).

Bond Rally to be Slow: An incremental rally in the bond market is likely to be slow and protracted, even as underlying fundamentals continue showing improvement in the recent past. A meaningful containment of inflation and inflationary expectations has the potential to open up room for another rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the near term. However, RBI will increasingly focus on the transmission of previous rate cuts, in order to support growth impulses.

Rupee to Face Headwinds: The subdued risk appetite globally will pose headwinds for currency. With foreign investors wary amid tepid domestic corporate sector performance, investment flows are unlikely to revive in a major way in the near term. Additionally, the upcoming FCNR B (foreign currency non-resident) deposits redemptions and strengthened prospects of the Fed rate hike will keep the rupee bias marginally weak.

RBIs Liquidity Operations Pre-emptive: A shift in interbank liquidity to deficit from surplus led to the RBI announcing INR100bn worth of OMO purchases, in order to alleviate the liquidity crunch. Given the lumpy state borrowings along-with scheduled G-sec borrowings as the system moves towards the period of seasonal liquidity tightness, RBI may continue intervention in order to keep the system in a close to neutral mode.

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GST will make Madhya Pradesh logistical hub of India : Finance Minister
Oct 25,2016

Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister said that with the introduction of the GST regime, MP, the heart of India will transform into a supply hub for all the four corners of the country. He lauded the visionary leadership the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh that transformed the state from a BIMARU state to one posting a double-digit growth and one that is a favoured investment destination.

Shri Jaitley said the state governments focused efforts in the area of water, power and empowering the weaker sections of the society have contributed to its development. He said that the turning point for the state was the exceptional growth of near 20% that it posted in its agriculture sector for a couple of years, which increased rural purchasing power and prosperity.

Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh welcomed investors to Madhya Pradesh and said that the state which believes in the adage n++Vasudeva Kutumbakamn++, which means that entire world is one family. He said that GIS stood for Growth with Investment & Sustainabilityn++ and that the state of MP considers investor as their friend and partner in growth. The Chief Minister spoke about the huge strides made by the state in the area of power, water and infrastructure and urged investors to invest in Madhya Pradesh.

The Chief Minister said that the state moved from single window policy, to open door policy and further to single table policy today where he and his team work on investment facilitation. He said that the state has a land bank of 1,25,000 hectares also assured availability of skilled labour as per industry requirements. The Minister said that the commitment of his government is reflected in the fact that many businesses in the state have been set up in a period of 1-1.5 years and also commenced production.

Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Electronics & Information Technology Minister, Govt of India said that MP is an example of all-round development. He said that PM is the Captain of Team India and Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh is the opening batsman of the team and has succeeded in leading the state to prosperity.

Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister for Rural Development, Drinking Water & Sanitation, Govt of India appreciated efforts of the CM in the progress of the state of Madhya Pradesh. He said that the CM has targeted to achieve all-round and balanced development for the state with focus on with focus on villages, farmers and the poor.

Dr Naushad Forbes, President, CII & Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshal said that CII is privileged to partner with MP State Govt for GIS, the progressive convention series that showcases the remarkable progress made by the state of MP and the immense investment opportunity it offers. He said that Madhya Pradesh is not only fastest growing state in India but also fastest growing agri economy. This lays the foundation for rural prosperity and rural income which is favourable for overall economic development. Applauding the efforts of the State Government, Dr Forbes said that the state has laid the foundation for strong economic growth for the next 30 years.

Shri Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, said that the GIS exemplifies the spirit of teamwork under competitive and co-operative federalism. He thanked Chief Minister for the phenomenal leadership at the 5th GIS Summit.

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Opportunities galore for Japanese investments in Indias tourism infradevelopment: Tourism Minister
Oct 25,2016

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, is determined to make tourism the backbone of the Indian economy as the sector has a multiplier effect on employment generation and foreign exchange earnings. Besides it encourages cultural and people to people exchange, said Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, here today while inaugurating the first-ever IndiaJapan Tourism Meet organized by FICCI in partnership with the Embassy of Japan. The Minister said that the historical ties between India and Japan can be traced back to the sixth century when Buddhism was introduced in Japan. Since then the Japanese have cherished their sentiments towards India. And now India is striving to make the travel to various destinations in the country a truly magnificent experience for Japanese tourists with a strong focus on infrastructure, experience and information.

Dr. Sharma said in India the Buddhist circuit has been set up, which are a set of important locations where Lord Buddha had settled in his lifetime. This circuit should find favor with the Japanese as they are keen followers of Buddhism. He added that medical, wellness and Ayurveda were other areas which Japanese tourists would find endearing.

The Minister said that India lacked 290000 hotel rooms and there was immense scope of investment in infrastructure development for tourism. He urged Japanese business community to explore this area for investment and assured them of Indian governments unstinted support. Dr. Sharma added that the Indian government was working towards creating appropriate tourism infrastructure, maintaining cleanliness of tourism destinations and making the environment safe and secure for foreign tourists.

Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan to India, said that with the framework of Indo-Japan Tourism Council and Indo-Japan Tourism Summit that are set up and organized for the first time in India today, the participants should pursue n++action-orientedn++ outcomes to improve travel and tourism relationship between Japan and India in a visible way. This is a great opportunity for both governments and tourism industry to get together under one roof and to discuss the expansion of bilateral travel and tourism relations. The new networks that will be built among the participants today will create new opportunities, he added.

Hiramatsu said that travel and tourism between Japan and India was not as robust as we would expect, if we take into account the important relationship between the two countries. Japan welcomed about 100,000 visitors from India in 2015, and about 40,000 tourists among them. But 1.13 million Indians visited the United States during the same period. Therefore there is a tremendous potential of expanding travel and tourism between Japan and India.

In his keynote address, Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said that given Indian and Japans economic ties, the share of tourism between the two nations is miniscule and there is scope to improve the numbers. A marginal rise in the number of tourists visiting the Buddha circuit alone could enable Indian to earn USD 6-8 billion every year. He added that with significant steps tourism could increase five-fold between India and Japan from its current level.

Billa said that Indian tourists avoid Japan as there is a perception that traveling to the country is expensive. Such notions needed to be corrected with improved aviation services and easier visa norms. He added that language was a barrier for Japanese tourists as in India there are not many guides speaking Japanese. Hence there was need to have guides speaking Japanese top attract tourists from Japan.

Kuniharu Ebina, Senior Vice Commissioner, Japan Tourism Agency, said that the Japan National Tourism Organization will open an office in Delhi by the end of fiscal 2016 to promote the attractions of Japan, so that more Indians will be interested in traveling to Japan. Besides, at the Indo-Japan Tourism Council, a bilateral meeting to be held tomorrow, the stakeholders plan to discuss current undertakings and issues of inbound and outbound tourism of both countries, and measures to improve and expand tourism exchanges. The expansion of bidirectional tourism exchanges cannot be achieved without the understanding and assistance of the tourism industry, he added.

Dr. Jyotsna Suri, Immediate Past President-FICCI, Chairperson -FICCI Tourism Committee & CMD - The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, said that India has a very high potential to be one of the favored destinations amongst the Japanese tourists, given the large number of destinations important from Buddhist interest as well as the burgeoning number of business tourists coming to India. Japan is the 10th largest source market for India in terms of inbound tourist arrivals. There were about 2.07 lakh tourists from Japan who visited India in 2015. Welcoming the delegates who have come all the way from Japan to get a first-hand experience of the wonderful culture of India, Dr. Suri added that with the B2Bs and conference a growth agenda and road map would emerge to further the synergies between India and Japan through tourism

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e-Postal Ballot System for Service Voters
Oct 25,2016


The Government has issued Notification on 21st October, 2016 amending rule 23 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 enabling service voters, including armed forces personnel, to cast their vote in elections through e-postal ballot. Under this system a blank postal ballot paper would be transmitted to them electronically. This would cut short the delay experienced in the present system in two-way transmission of ballot paper by the postal services. The armed forces personnel serving in remote and border areas would be greatly benefitted since the present system of two-way transmission of ballot paper by the postal services has not been able to meet the expectations of the service voters.


The difficulties and hardships encountered by the service voters, especially by the armed forces personnel serving the border and remote areas of the country, have been receiving the attention of the Government in recent times. The issue was also agitated before the Honble Supreme Court, in the matter of Neela Gokhale vs. Union of India & Anr. (Writ Petition No. 1005 of 2013) pleading for creating effective mechanism for the Armed Forces Personnel (AFP) and their families to exercise their right to vote easily and effectively.

In the above backdrop, the Government approached the Election Commission with a view to mitigating the difficulties faced by service voters in the matter of exercising their franchise. The technical team of the Election Commission has developed a system whereby blank postal ballot could be electronically transmitted to the voter, namely, e-postal ballot system. Voters entitled to postal ballot such as service voters, can download the postal ballot and print the blank postal ballot. After marking his vote in the blank postal ballot, the same would be returned to the concerned Returning Officer by post as in the present system of postal ballot. The Election Commission proposed that the categories of voters mentioned at rule 18 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 may be made eligible for e-postal ballot system. However, on a pilot basis, e-postal ballot system has been introduced by Notification dated 21st October, 2016 for service voters consisting of (a) armed police forces of the Union; (b) other forces subject to the provisions of the Army Act, 1950; (c) armed forces of a State serving outside that State; and (d) those employed under the Government of India in a post outside India.

Two-way electronic transmission has not been recommended by the Election Commission for security and secrecy reasons.

Major Impact:

One-way electronic transmission of blank postal ballot would considerably cut short the delay in receipt of the marked postal ballot by the Returning Officers on or before the date fixed for the counting of votes. Major beneficiaries would be the entire category of service voters as stated above, especially the armed forces personnel posted in border and remote areas of the country. With the issue of the aforesaid notification, a long-pending and near-unanimous demand of the service voters, including the armed forces personnel, has been fulfilled.

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Cash, gift vouchers most preferred Diwali festival gift by employees: Survey
Oct 25,2016

While a box of traditional sweets is the least desirable gift for office workers, cash and gift coupons/vouchers, prepaid cards are most desired this Diwali festival, noted a just-concluded survey by apex industry body ASSOCHAM.

The ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation conducted an online survey to gauge 1,000 full-time office workers opinions and about 500 human resource professionals on Diwali festival bonuses given by companies and their desired gifts between October 1 - October 15 in 10 cities of - Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Mumbai.

The ASSOCHAM survey showed that 45 per cent of office workers wanted cash or gift coupons/vouchers, 35 per cent wanted gadgets/electronic item/home appliances/utensils and other such things for personal use or for use in their households, 15 per cent gift-boxes of sweets or cookies and the remaining preferred various other things.

However over half of the HR professionals that ASSOCHAM interacted with said that cash rewards have the lowest impact and do little to improve employee satisfaction and performance, many of these opined that non-financial rewards have a greater and longer-lasting effect on employee.

Most of the HR professionals said their companies have identified staff members who have consistently performed better and deserve to be recognised with something tangible.

Further elaborating on this aspect, many said their companies adhere to the policy of meritocracy and would reward only the best staff thereby making it performance-based and not across the board.

n++Most of the companies in private sector have gradually moved away from a fixed Diwali bonus and instead provide benefits considering employees individual performance for past few years, so hardly any change is expected on this front,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing findings of the chambers survey.

n++Though companies are not getting very generous, but considering that Diwali being one of Indias widely celebrated annual festival, corporate gifting has become a tradition to express gratitude, appreciation, develop relationships and generate goodwill amid peers and employees,n++ said Mr Rawat.

Many HR representatives also said that though they have earmarked a certain amount towards corporate gifting, but they have not increased their budget compared to last year.

Many of these said they plan to give gift hampers including assorted chocolates, imported liquor, genuine leather bags and even personalised gifts like gym/club membership to their deserving employees and clients this year.

Crockery, sweets, dry fruits, bed sheets, gold coins, home dn++cor, tableware, luxury watches, designer apparel, expensive writing instruments, free holiday packages, movie tickets, dinner coupons, spa vouchers and hampers with a mix of festive essentials like torans, diyas, aromatic candles remain certain other popular gift options this year too.

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FM: Launches SMS Alert Service for about 2.5 crore private and Government salaried employees to directly inform deposit of tax deducted at qtr end
Oct 25,2016

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that better facilities and services to the taxpayers are the central to Direct Tax Reforms. He said that the tax payers have a right to know the deductions made from their salary/income on regular basis. He said that more and more tax payer services have to be provided in order to make the people tax complaint. He stressed on the Governments commitment towards continuously upgrading tax payer services. The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley was speaking after launching the SMS Alert Service for direct taxes for about 2.5 crore private and Government salaried employees.

The new step is an effort by the Income Tax Department to directly communicate deposit of tax deducted, through SMS alerts to salaried taxpayers, at the end of every quarter. In case of a mismatch, they can contact their deductor for necessary correction. Simultaneously, SMS alerts will also be sent to deductors who have either failed to deposit taxes deducted or to e-file their TDS returns by the due date.

This initiative will initially benefit approximately 2.5 crore salaried cases. The CBDT will soon extend this facility to another 4.4 crore non-salaried taxpayers. The frequency of SMS alerts will be increased, once the process for filing TDS returns is streamlined to receive such information on a real-time basis.

All taxpayers who wish to receive such SMS alerts are advised to update their mobile numbers in their e-filing account.

The CBDT constantly endeavours to provide better taxpayer services and reduce taxpayer grievances. New schemes and e-initiatives to redress and reduce complaints of mismatches in tax deducted at source are key to this effort.

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