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Farm produce worth Rs 3.8K crore traded through e-NAM till 16 November: Radha Mohan Singh
Nov 25,2016

Farm produce worth Rs 3,841 crore has been traded through electronic-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) till 16 November in 250 wholesale markets connected to this platform, Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Mr Radha Mohan Singh said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++About 5.5 lakh farmers have sold their produce, while 54,000 traders have made purchases and 28,000 commission agents have registered themselves till about eight days before today,n++ said Mr Singh while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM conference on Linking farmers with market.

n++We had started it on a pilot project basis and have tried to remove all the anomalies related to both hardware and software and it is now moving very fast towards empowering farmers to allow them to sell their produce,n++ said the Union Minister.

He informed that the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry is working towards setting up hub centres for providing milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables, flowers and other such things near metros as part of the online trading platform.

n++Chinese capital has population twice as much that of Delhi but everything is available within a radius of 150 kilometres, while in Delhi milk comes from Andhra Pradesh and vegetables from Kolkata,n++ said Mr Singh.

n++As such we are going to make provision under the mandi laws and we have conducted 3-4 meetings in NCR (National Capital Region) to make Gurgaon a hub for flowers, while Sonepat and Panipat would be made hub for vegetables and Karnal for indigenous cows milk and we are also in talks with UP (Uttar Pradesh) in this regard,n++ he added.

He also informed that laboratories are also being set up in electronic wholesale markets to check quality of the farmers produce so that any trader or farmer can purchase or sell the same across India.

n++These facilities are already available within the states but now we are working towards making it feasible inter-state and the GST (goods and services tax) will play a significant role in this regard,n++ informed Mr Singh.

He said that the government will also work towards improving the mandi laws and try to establish them in private sector by improving marketing related laws.

n++We have made amendments in marketing related laws in about 22 states and licenses are being issued to set up mandis in the private sector,n++ said the Minister.

Talking about impact of demonetisation on agriculture sector, he said that the Centres move to ban 500 and 1,000 notes has not affected sowing of rabi crops.

n++It is such a huge decision that some inconvenience being caused is quite natural, opposition to demonetisation is equivalent to supporting black money, terrorism and fake currency as such people should refrain from taking political benefit of this issue,n++ said Mr Singh.

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Central Government takes various decisions relating to certain operational aspects of Scheme relating to cancellation of old Rs. 500 & Rs. 1000 notes
Nov 25,2016

The Central Government has been reviewing the issues related to the cancellation of legal tender character of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. The Government has also been receiving various suggestions in this regard. After due consideration of all relevant aspects, the following decisions relating to certain operational aspects of the Scheme have now been taken:

(i) It has been observed that over the counter exchange of the old currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 denomination has shown a declining trend. It has further been felt that people may be encouraged and facilitated to deposit their old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes in their bank accounts. This will encourage people who are still unbanked, to open new bank accounts. Consequently, there will be no over the counter exchange of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes after midnight of 24.11.2016.

(ii) Government had also permitted various exemptions for certain transactions and activities wherein payment could be made through old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. It has been decided that all these exemptions, with the additions and modifications as detailed below, may be continued for a further period from the midnight of 24 November 2016 up to and inclusive of 15 December 2016 :-

(a) Payments for the transactions under all the exempted categories will now be accepted only through old Rs. 500 notes;

(b) Payment of School fees up to Rs. 2000 per student in Central Government, State Government, Municipality and local body schools;

(c) Payment of fees in Central or State Government colleges;

(d) Payments towards pre paid mobile top-up to a limit of Rs. 500 per top-up;

(e) Purchase from Consumer Cooperative Stores will be limited to Rs. 5000 at a time;

(f) Payment of current and arrear dues to utilities will be limited to only water and electricity. This facility will continue to be available only for individuals and households;

(g) Considering that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways have continued the toll free arrangement at the toll plazas up to 2 December 2016, it has been decided that toll payment at these toll plazas may be made through old Rs. 500 notes from 3 December 2016 to 15 December 2016.

(h) Foreign citizens will be permitted to exchange foreign currency up to Rs. 5000 per week. Necessary entry to this effect will be made in their passports. (Necessary instructions in this regard will be issued by the RBI.)

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LED Bulbs procurement price drops to Rs 38 per unit
Nov 24,2016

The procurement price of LED Bulbs is reduced from Rs 310 per unit in February 2014 to Rs 38 per unit in August 2016 due to the aggregation of demand and bulk procurement. This amounts to reduction of about 88% in procurement prices.

17.89 crore bulbs have been distributed by Energy Efficiency Services Limited ( EESL)  under Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) and 14.45 lakh street lights have been replaced by LED bulbs under Street Light National Programme (SLNP) as on 21st November 2016.

Progress of Implementation of National LED Programme as on 21.11.2016 is given below :-

Parameters

DELP

SLNP

Total number of bulbs/street lights replaced

17.89 crores

14.45 lakhs

Avoided capacity generation

4649 MW

47.69 MW

Energy saved

23.2 billion kWh/year

512959 kWh/day

Reduction in carbon foot print

18.8 million tonnes CO2 / year

435 tonnes CO2  /day

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the National LED programme on 5th January, 2015. The programme is being implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture company of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) under the Ministry of Power. Two initiatives, viz., Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) and Street Light National Programme (SLNP), have been initiated under this programme, wherein household lighting and street lights respectively are replaced with LEDs. EESL has developed an innovative business model in which the entire investment in these programmes is made by it and the investment is paid back over a time from energy savings. This obviates a need for any Government funding for this programme.

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Use of Alternate Material for Construction of National Highway
Nov 24,2016

The Ministry of Road Transport and highways encourages the use of alternative materials like waste plastic, rubber/polymer modified bitumen for National Highways construction, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), fly ash and blast furnace slag etc. It is default mode to use waste plastic modified bitumen in periodical renewals on National Highways within 50 km periphery of urban areas having population more than five lakhs. Polymer/rubber modified bitumen is used for surfacing on National Highways subject to its availability and performance.

Solid waste is planned to be used on Delhi-Meerut Expressway after due processing and necessary clearances. Preliminary study was carried by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) through Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) at Ghazipur Dump Yard, East Delhi. The report submitted by CRRI found that suitable material from MSW can be processed for its use in construction of embankment..

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CSIR Laboratories Instructed to Avoid Filing of Patents Without Appropriate Techno-Commercial Evaluation
Nov 24,2016

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has sent out a message to all its laboratories to avoid filing of patents without appropriate techno-commercial evaluation.

In order to align the IP strategy of CSIR with the priorities of socio-economic development including escalating costs of patent filings, this message was sent to exercise utmost due diligence in filing of patents.

CSIR has taken following steps to put in place an appropriate system:

(i) Establishment of IP Directorate at CSIR to analyze IP (Intellectual Property) life cycle from generation to exploitation.

(ii) Preparation of standard operating procedures (SOP) and guidelines for evaluation of inventions in alignment with National IPR Policy.

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Requisite Technology Developed for Rice Fortification with Iron for addressing incidence of Anaemia
Nov 24,2016

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) through R&D support to IIT, Kharagpur has developed the requisite technology on the fortification with Iron for addressing the incidence of anaemia. This involves production of Iron fortified rice premix through extrusion process using broken rice kernels. This iron fortified rice kernel premix matches with the normal rice kernel in shape and size, and when mixed with normal rice in the ratio of 1:100 provides 50% of recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Iron. This technology can also be used to fortify rice with other micro nutrients, as well. The incremental cost of fortification has been estimated by IIT-Kharagpur to be upto 80 paise per kg of rice.

The steps taken by Government to take forward the rice fortification model to all parts of the country to deal with nutritional deficiency among the women and children is as follows:

A Pilot Scale Unit with a capacity of 100 kg/hr/shift has been commissioned at IIT-Kharagpur. The technology is ready for demonstration and transfer to prospective entrepreneurs. The same can be commercialized. However, for introduction in the Govt programmes such as Mid-day Meal Scheme and ICDS to address micro nutrient deficiencies in children, DBT would be willing to set up pilot scale production unit in States who would be interested. Accordingly, an MoU could be executed between DBT and the respective State Government Departments. This technology was also deliberated in the n++National Summit on Fortification of Foodn++ which was an Inter Ministerial meeting convened by FSSAI on 16th and 17th October, 2016, which was attended by State and Central Government officials, Industry representatives and academia. Further, DBTs proposal on the above issue has also been shortlisted in the Inter State Council Secretariat for the Eastern Zonal States - Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal under their social outreach programme.

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Aeronautical Services Tariffs and Airport Charges at Major Airports Reviewed and Revised From Time To Time
Nov 24,2016

The Government of India has established Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) in 2009 under an Act of Parliament viz. AERA Act, 2008 to determine the tariffs in respect of aeronautical services provided at major airports in the country. AERA determines the aeronautical tariff in respect of major airports based on stakeholder consultation. The tariffs are reviewed and revised by AERA every five years considering the investment and expenditure incurred by the airport operator, improving efficiency and viability of the airport with a view to rationalize the charges.

The airport charges are allowed to airports operators as mean to provide fair rate of return on the investment made by the airport developer. Since huge investments are made by the developers while construction of the airport, the charges are comparatively higher during the initial period of the airport commencement. However, the charges gets substantially reduced once the investment for the development is recovered.

The airport charges at Delhi airport is comparatively lower than several other similarly placed airports across the globe. Besides, AERA has already notified the airport charges for Delhi airport for 2nd Control Period wherein the charges have been substantially reduced.

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Development of National Waterways in North East Region and Three Multimodal Inland Water Transport (IWT) Terminals on National Waterway-1
Nov 24,2016

For the development of National Waterways in the North East Region (NER), an amount of Rs.100 crore has been provided in the Budget Estimates (BE)-2016-17. Expenditure for developmental works being taken up on the river Brahmaputra and Barak will be met out of this allocation.

Specified stretches of Rivers Brahmaputra and Barak have been declared as National Waterway-2 and 16 respectively by the National Waterways Act, 2016. River Brahmaputra has been developed substantially in terms of fairway, navigational aids and terminals with mechanized handling facilities. This waterway is operational and vessels are operating on it.

Development of river Barak for navigation is proposed in two stages. The stretch from Silchar to Bhanga (71 km) is proposed under Phase-I and the remaining stretch from Silchar to Lakhipur (50 km) is proposed to be taken up in Phase-II. Tender for award of work for development of fairway and providing navigational aids in Silchar-Bhanga stretch is in the final stage.

The Union Government has planned construction of three multimodal Inland Water Transport (IWT) terminals on National Waterway-1(Ganga) at Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia and one terminal on National Waterway-2 (Brahmaputra) at Pandu. The present status of these terminals is as follows:-

Varanasi (on NW-1)

The work order for construction of Phase-1(A), mainly offshore work has been awarded on 13.05.2016 and the work has already commenced. The cost of the project is Rs. 169.59 crore.

Sahibganj (on NW-1)

The work order for construction of Phase-I of the terminal has been issued on 27.10.2016 at the cost of Rs. 280.90 crore.

Haldia (on NW-1)

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has taken 61 acres of land on 30-year lease from the Kolkata Port Trust at Haldia Dock Complex. Tender process for award of work of Phase-I of the terminal is in advanced stage.

Pandu (on NW-2)

A high and low level Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) Jetty has been constructed at Pandu, Guwahati. This jetty is well connected with National Highway-31 and also with Kamakhya Railway Station through Broad gauge railway line. This jetty is in the final stage.

The time frame for completion of the above mentioned projects are as follows:

S.No.

Project

Expected Time frame

1.

Multi-model terminal at Varanasi

26 months from the date of award of work, i.e. 13th May, 2016.

2.

Multi-model terminal at Sahibganj

30 months from the date of award of work, i.e. 27th October, 2016.

3.

Multi-model terminal at Haldia

30 months from the date of award of work.

4.

Mutli-model terminal at Pandu

Already operational

5.

Development of fairway and terminal facilities in river Barak

15 months from the date of award of work.

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Cabinet approves setting up of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas in 62 uncovered districts of the country
Nov 24,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved opening of one Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) in each of the 62 uncovered districts with an outlay of Rs.2,871 crore.

The expenditure for this purpose during the 12th Plan will be Rs.109.53 crore with a spill over amount of Rs.2,761.56 crore from 2017-18 to 2024-25. These JNVs will provide good quality modern education to the talented children prominently from rural areas. It is expected that nearly 35,000 students will be benefitted from these JNVs.

A full fledged Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya provide employment to 47 persons and accordingly 62 JNVs will provide direct permanent employment to 2914 individuals.

As JNVs are residential and co-educational in nature, it is compulsory for all the staff and students to reside in the Vidyalaya campus. Due to its residential nature, each JNV will generate opportunities to the local vendors for supply of essential commodities such as food, consumables, furniture, teaching material etc. It will also create large opportunity for local service providers such as barber, tailor cobbler, manpower for housekeeping and security services etc.

Background:

As on date, there are 598 sanctioned JNVs in 576 districts spread across 35 States / Union Territories. Out of these, 591 are functional. Each JNV has classes from VI to XII with a sanctioned strength of 80 students per class and total strength of 560 students. Admissions to JNVs in class VI are done through an entrance examination. At least 75% of the seats in a district are filled by candidates selected from rural areas of the district.

Further, reservation of seats in favour of children belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is provided in proportion to their population in the concerned district subject to the condition that in no district such reservation is less than the national reservation percentage (15% for SC and 7.5% for ST). One third of the total seats are reserved for girls.

List of the 62 uncovered districts in the country where new JNVs will be opened

S.No.

STATE

NAME OF DISTRICT

1.

Andaman & Nicobar

1. South Andaman

2.

Arunachal Pradesh

2. Tirap

 

3. Capital Complex (Itanagar)

3.

Karnataka

4. Kolar

 

5. Ramanagara                 

 

6. Gulbarga

4.

Delhi

7. East Delhi

 

8.West Delhi

 

9. North Delhi

 

10. South Delhi

 

11. North East Delhi

 

12. Shahdara

 

13. South East Delhi

5.

Rajasthan

14. Pratapgarh

6.

Haryana

15. Palwal

7.

West Bengal

16. Malda

 

17. Jalpaiguri

8.

Jharkhand

18. Ramgarh

 

19. Khunti

9.

Vlaharashtra

20. Bhandara

10.

Gujarat

21.Surat

 

22. Dwarka

 

23. Junagarh

 

24. Botad

 

25. Mahisagar

 

26. Chota Udaipur

 

27. Morbi

 

28. Sabar Kantha

11.

Chattisgarh

29. Narayanpur (Bastar)

 

30. Bijapur (Dantewada)

 

31. Balodabazar

 

32. Gariyaband

 

33. 

Short Term Bills May Enable Liquidity Sterilisation as RBIs G-Sec Kitty Limited
Nov 24,2016

The amount of government securities (G-Sec) available with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to offer banks in exchange of the spurt in deposits is nearing a critical limit, which may force the central bank to look at alternative means to sterilise liquidity, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). In Ind-Ras assessment, sterilisation through the issuance of cash management bills (CMB) is likely to be preferred over other structural measures, namely a hike in the cash reserve ratio (CRR) or resorting to the use of the market stabilisation scheme (MSS), since the sustainability of such high deposits remains uncertain. The sterilisation will ensure stability in the money market in sync with the central banks key objective of ensuring financial market stability.

Banks have parked a record INR4.3trn with the RBI as of 22 November 2016, against which the banks receive government securities (G-Sec). However, RBIs G-sec holding currently stands at around INR7trn, which may compel the central bank to look for alternatives to sterilise the liquidity in the near-term.

A fortnight after the government notified the withdrawal of the legal tender status of high denomination currency notes, banks find themselves flooded with a gush of liquidity. As on 22 November 2016, on a net basis, banks have parked a record INR4.3trn with the RBI - earning in range of 6.21% to 6.24% as overnight interest. This is the highest liquidity absorption carried out by RBI (earlier record absorption was INR1.7trn in May 2009). In order to absorb that liquidity, the RBI tenders G-sec as collateral (under the liquidity adjustment facility window) by conducting reverse repo operations.

The average amount that banks have been parking with the RBI since 9 November 2016 is INR1.75trn compared to the last three months average pre-demonitisation of INR256bn. Ind-Ra believes, in the event that the liquidity surplus in the system increases beyond the level of G-secs held by RBI, several alternative and unconventional measures can be deployed. The issuance of CMB is likely to emerge as the preferred alternative for the RBI owing to benefits like (1) short duration of underlying security, less than 91 days (2) existing secondary market and qualification for a ready forward facility and investment in Statutory Liquidity Ratio (3) consistent with RBIs stance on liquidity and monetary policy. The issuance of CMB will limit the softening of yields, especially on the shorter end of the curve. Traditionally, CMB are issued to enable the government to tide over temporary liquidity mismatches. Ind-Ra, however, believes given the current scenario it can be an effective liquidity management tool for the RBI.

Apart from CMB issuances, the RBI could also look at other options to durably sterilise liquidity:

n++Utilisation of MSS limits to issue bonds - the ceiling for which is fixed at INR300bn for FY17.

n++Increasing reserve requirement by hike in CRR - a mode less preferred given its permanent nature and perverse impact on banks ability to ensure transmission

n++Intervene in the forex market - RBI has accumulated USD10.7bn through spot market in April-September 2016

n++Explore the option of uncollateralised window of liquidity absorption (standing deposit facility as proposed in the Report of Expert Committee to Revise and Strengthen Monetary Policy Framework)

n++Introduce reward based excess reserve maintenance as introduced by the Federal Reserve in 2009. This encourages commercial banks to park excess liquidity in the hands of central banks with nominal interest rate, creating an alternative tool for non-collateral sterilisation.

However, the agency believes each of the above measure comes with its own set of implication and limit the fluidity required for the central bank operation. The MSS bonds may pose a challenge with respect to eventual de-sequestration, while a hike in CRR may result in a negative shock to the banking system - limiting their ability to pass on easy rates. On the other hand, intervention in the foreign exchange market will necessitate RBI to utilise their forex reserves. Given the global risk aversion and elevated probability of a Fed rate hike, the ensuing currency volatility may compel RBI to preserve forex reserves and utilise it judiciously. Lastly, in order to operationalise the standing deposit facility (uncollateralised liquidity absorption facility, as proposed by Urjit Patel committee 2014), an amendment in the RBI Act is required- thus prohibiting its immediate utilisation.

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Cabinet approves introduction of revamped Merchant Shipping Bill 2016 in Parliament
Nov 24,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016 for introducing it in the Parliament.

The Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016 is a revamped version of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. The Bill provides for repealing of Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 as well as for the repealing of the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838.

The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 had become a bulky piece of legislation over the years as a result of various amendments carried out in the Act from time to time. It was amended 17 times between 1966 and 2014 resulting in an increase in the number of sections to more than 560 sections. These provisions have been meticulously shortened to 280 sections in the Bill.

The provisions of the Bill will simplify the law governing the merchant shipping in India. Further, certain redundant provisions will be dispensed with and remaining provisions will stand consolidated and simplified so as to promote case of doing business, transparency and effective delivery of services.

The significant reforms that will usher in, upon enactment of the Bill, are:

A. Augmentation of Indian tonnage promotion/development of coastal shipping in India by:-

a) allowing substantially-owned vessels and vessels on Bare Boat-cum-Demise (BBCD); charter by Indians to be registered as Indian flag vessels;

b) recognising Indian controlled tonnage as a separate category;

c) dispensing with the requirement for issuing of licences to Indian flag vessels for coastal operation and for port clearance by the Customs authorities; and

d) making separate rules for coastal vessels to develop & promote coastal shipping.

B. Introduction of welfare measures for seafarers, such as:-

a) seafarers held in hostage captivity of pirates will receive wages till they are released and reach home back safely;

b) owners of vessels to compulsorily take insurance of crew engaged on vessels including fishing, sailing without mechanical means of propulsion and whose net tonnage is less than 15; and

c) the requirement of signing of articles of agreement by the crew before the Shipping Master will no longer be necessary.

C. Registration of certain residuary category of vessels not covered under any statute and lo make provisions for security-related aspects.

D. Incorporation of all International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions/Protocols in the Indian laws up-to-date (an essential pre-requisite for compliance with the IMO Member-State Audit Scheme that is mandatory since 1/1/2016) by inserting provisions relating to seven different conventions, namely,

a) the Intervention Convention 1969,

b) the Search and Rescue Convention 1979

c) the Protocol for Prevention of Pollution from Ships Annex VI to Marine Pollution Convention,

d) the Convention for Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004,

e) the Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention, 2007,

f) the Salvage Convention 1989 and

g) the International Convention for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001.

Besides, the provisions for survey, inspection and certification of vessels which were scattered in various Parts of the existing Act are placed together to provide for a simplified regime for convenience of Indian shipping industry. The Coasting Vessels Act, 1838, which is an archaic legislation of the British era providing for registration of non-mechanically propelled vessels to a limited jurisdiction of Saurashtra and Kutch, is proposed to be repealed since in the Merchant Shipping Bill 2016 provisions have been introduced for registration of all vessels for the whole of India.

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Cabinet approves re-routing of State Highway passing through Naval Land at Kakinada
Nov 24,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for diversion of State Highway-149 passing through Naval Land at Kakinada. In this connection, the following decisions were also taken:-

a) Taking over of 11.25 acres of land of the Government of Andhra Pradesh underneath the existing Highway passing through Naval land at Kakinada.

b) Surrender of 5.23 acres of Naval land at Kakinada to the State Government of Andhra Pradesh.

c) Payment of Rs. 1882.775 Lakhs as compensation to the State Government of Andhra Pradesh to facilitate them for acquisition of land and for associated construction of alternate road.

The re-routing of state highway at Kakinada will provide hindrance free training by reducing accidents and improvement in security of the establishment. It will ensure safety and security of Amphibious Warfare Training Centre alongwith related infrastructure.

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India Inc. must formulate strong anti-fraud programme to reduce risk on account of corporate fraud: ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton study
Nov 24,2016

Companies across India must implement an anti-fraud framework to mitigate the risks evolving from illegal activities as pressure of uncertain markets, escalating input costs, high labour turnover, advent of technology and others provide significant opportunity and incentives for fraudsters to commit financial frauds, noted an ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton joint study.

n++There is an urgent need to equip our businesses against fraud risks and exposure through a systematic programme of fraud risk assessment, monitoring, incident response and remediation,n++ noted an ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton joint study titled Financial and Corporate Frauds.

n++A robust control environment is vital to reduce the risk on account of fraud and misconduct within companies and their dynamic business environment,n++ it said.

n++With any change in the environment of the businesses, the need to adapt to these changes is a prerequisite to attain sustainable growth,n++ the study further said.

The change in the current environment is the increased fraud exposure for organisations.

Considering that in any organisation, the board of directors are responsible for setting the tone at the top, which flows across the entire company and its various locations, management views on mitigating fraud, corruption and misconduct should be revealed to the employees.

Besides, disciplinary action and zero tolerance for violations should also be part of the message that the board sends out to employees.

Organisations willing to counter fraud should develop sound fraud prevention policies that must include extensive background checks on new-hires, promotion candidates, suppliers, customers and business partners (including international third parties); segregation of duties; position rotations; limitations of physical access to assets; removal of unauthorised and old system users and whistle blower mechanism.

Companies must develop their ethics code keeping in mind the size of the organisation, mix of employees, number of employees, and the key risk areas. The code must be formally documented and communicated to the employees, third parties, and other stakeholders and be uploaded on the official website of the organisation.

It should also describe the disciplinary actions that can be initiated against people and this function should be continuously monitored.

Highlighting the need for a whistleblower or complaint mechanism within an organisation, the ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton study said, n++Companies must maintain anonymity of the complaint mechanism by ensuring confidentiality of information reported through the whistle-blower mechanism.n++

There should also be a policy of non-retaliation against the whistle-blower, it added.

Companies must also effectively communicate and train their employees periodically about the policies and procedures that are developed. This process must include aspects like in-person and web-based training for people to recognise and report red flags to frauds; special training for finance professionals and others in high-risk positions (i.e. business developers, sales and marketing).

There should be enhanced focus on assessing the types of frauds that can impact business and identifying relevant types of fraud, such as fraudulent financial reporting, possible loss of assets and corruption methods through which fraud and misconduct can be done.

It also includes identifying areas where the company should focus its anti-fraud resources and periodically review the results of the fraud risk assessment with the audit committee. Such periodic assessment should be helpful in challenging certain key aspects such as management override of controls.

Highlighting how continuous monitoring using data analytics is imperative to improve efficiencies and integrate supply chains, as most organisations are now heavily reliant on IT systems to support business processes, the study suggested that companies should put adequate control on devices containing confidential data, encrypt devices and use reliable software tools with remote data wiping capabilities to safeguard against device theft or intrusions.

Besides, companies should be proactively monitoring key processes and run data analytics modules on internal/external communication, payroll and reimbursements, receivables and collections, sales and distribution, time and physical access controls and vendor payments.

Most organisations use services of third parties to manage their business operations and other activities which can sometimes significantly increase the risk of frauds whereby due diligence can be a useful tool to understand ones vendors and business partners.

Due diligence on third parties should include knowledge business interests/ affiliations, conflict of interest; any adverse news in media about unethical business practices, involvement in tax evasion, money laundering, terrorist financing or any bribery/corruption incidents; any involvement in legal proceedings/convictions for malpractice/crime and others; any political affiliations, inappropriate political support and links to politically exposed persons/entities; credit defaults and bankruptcies together with other reputational concerns.

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Cabinet approves third Protocol to Convention between India & New Zealand
Nov 24,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the ratification and entry into force of the third Protocol to the Convention between India and New Zealand for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to (w.r.t) taxes on income (Convention). The Protocol was signed on 26th October, 2016.

The Protocol will stimulate the flow of exchange of information between India and New Zealand for tax purposes which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance. It will also enable assistance in collection of tax revenue claims between both countries.

Article 26 on Exchange of Information of the existing Convention has been replaced with a new Article in the Protocol which is in line with the international standard for exchange of information.

A new Article on Assistance on Collection of Taxes has been added in the Protocol.

The Protocol shall enter into force on the date of notification of completion of the procedures required by the respective laws of the two countries for entry into force of the Protocol.

Background:

The Central Government is authorized under section 90 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to enter into an Agreement with a foreign country or specified territory for exchange of information and recovery of income tax for the prevention of evasion or avoidance of income-tax chargeable under the Income-tax Act, 1961. The Convention came into force on 3rd December, 1986. The Convention was amended in 1997 through a First Protocol and in 2000 through a Second Protocol. Subsequently, India proposed to further amend the Convention through a Third Protocol to update the Exchange of Information Article as per the international standard and to insert an Article on Assistance in the Collection of taxes. Accordingly, negotiations were entered into with New Zealand and agreement was reached on both the Articles of the Third Protocol.

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Cabinet approves MoU among New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, Japan and Ministries of Finance, Health & Family Welfare and
Nov 24,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan and Ministries of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs), Health & Family Welfare and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) concerning the Demonstration Project for ICT based Green Hospital at AIIMS in Delhi.

The project shall encompass the following work:

a. Surveys required for engineering and design, construction and operation of the EQUIPMENT,

b. Basic planning and engineering and design of the EQUIPMENT,

c. Manufacture and transportation of the EQUIPMENT,

d. Civil work, construction and installation

e. Commissioning of the EQUIPMENT,

f. Demonstration of the EQUIPMENT, and

g. Dissemination of the TECHNOLOGY in India.

The MoU shall come into effect on the date of its signature and shall remain effective until March 31, 2020.

The objectives of the project are to contribute to the efficient use of energy and the protection of the environment in India by installing the energy efficient and IT related equipment in AIIMS Delhi and demonstrating the energy management system and IT system. Efforts will be made to widely disseminate the technology in India through demonstration of the equipment.

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