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Ministry of Labour & Employment provides housing subsidy of Rs. 1,50,000/- per worker for construction of house
Mar 27,2017

Ministry of Labour & Employment has formulated Revised Integrated Housing Scheme (RIHS), 2016, which is applicable to the workers engaged in Beedi/Iron Ore Mines, Manganese Ore & Chrome Ore Mines (IOMC)/Limestone Ore Mines, Dolomite Ore Mines (LSDM) /Mica Mines and Cine Industries, registered with the Labour Welfare Organisation (LWO) in the country.

In the Revised Integrated Housing Scheme (RIHS), 2016 the housing subsidy of Rs. 1,50,000/- will be released in three installments in 25:60:15 ratio. First installment (25%) of the subsidy i.e. Rs. 37,500/- per tenement will be released as advance after proposal received from the Welfare Commissioner concerned, the second installment (60%) of the subsidy i.e. Rs. 90,000/- would be released on reaching the lintel level and the third installment (15%) i.e. Rs. 22,500/- per tenement would be released after receipt of 100% inspection conducted by the Engineers/Officers of the Labour Welfare Organisation that the construction of houses has been completed in all respect.

Ministry of Labour & Employment provides housing subsidy of Rs. 1,50,000/- per worker for construction of house.

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Government of India signs Contracts awarded under Discovered Small Field Bid Round 2016
Mar 27,2017

The Government of India, today, signed the contracts of the fields awarded under the Discovered Small Field (DSF) Bid Round 2016 with the awardees at New Delhi. The event was presided by Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan. The delegation of Shri Pradhan included the Shri K D Tripathi, Secretary for Petroleum and Natural Gas and other senior officials of the Ministry.

The Minister also inaugurated a 2 way Interactive Portal for DSF in line with Ease of Doing Business (which is available at www.dghindia.gov.in/dsfportal) which has been developed by DGH to facilitate contract management and redressal of queries.

Addressing the gathering, the Minister said the DSF was introduced with an objective to take a strong step forward towards our Honble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modis vision of reducing Indias energy imports, by 10% by 2022. He said that the DSF bid round, which completed in a short span of time, helped us pilot several new initiatives such as the implementation of e-bidding system, an interactive mobile app, setup of virtual data center, facility of dedicated facilitation cell, conducting bidder facilitation workshops etc.

The Minister said that the cumulative peak production from the awarded fields is expected to be around 15000 BOPD of oil and 2 MMSCMD of gas over the economic life. The estimated total revenue would be approximately Rs. 46,400 crores, of which royalty collection and Governments revenue share is expected to be around Rs. 5,000 crores and Rs. 9,300 crores, respectively. It is also estimated that employment for ~37,500 persons would be generated through the awarded fields.

In the face of a global oil glut, and oil prices at half their level three years ago, we took a bet with this bidding round for hydrocarbon assets, thereby exemplifying the boldness that is now the face of business in India. Not just that, the overall response that we received from the bid round, even from bidders who could not succeed, has been nothing short of outstanding, the Minister added.

The Minister also mentioned that the Government is now working towards a second round of DSF Bidding, and shall also be rolling out the Hydrocarbons Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) through the Open Acreage Licensing (OAL) mechanism shortly, which shall provide good opportunity for more E&P investment.

Shri Pradhan congratulated the awardees and assured them of complete support and assistance from the Government. He also appreciated the efforts of the officials and partner organizations for the successful completion of the bid round.

Recently, the Petroleum Minister along with Minister of State (I/C) for Cpmmerce and Industry, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Shri Pon. Radhakrishnan met the delegation of representatives from Neduvasal Village of Tamil Nadu regarding their concerns on exploration in that area. The Ministers assured the delegation that the work on the field wills start when Government of Tamil Nadu addresses the local concerns in consultation with Central Government.

The Signing of Contract was attended by the successful awardees, E&P majors, Service Companies amongst others.

Details of the contracts signed under the Discovered Small Field Bid Round

S.No.

Company / Consortium

No. of Contract Areas

Contract Area Names

1

BPRL

5

RJ/ONDSF/BAKHRI TIBBA/2016

RJ/ONDSF/SADEWALA/2016

CY/ONDSF/KARAIKAL/2016

MB/OSDSF/B127E/2016

MB/OSDSF/B15/2016

2

PFH Oil and Gas

3

CB/ONDSF/ELAO/2016

KG/ONDSF/ACHANTA/2016 KG/ONDSF/BHIMANAPALLI/2016

3

IOCL

3

VN/ONDSSF/NOHTA/2016

AA/ONDSF/JERAIPATHAR/2016 GK/OSDSF/KD/2016

4

Ramayana+ Duggar+ BND Energy + Mahindra Infratech

2

AA/ONDSF/BARSILLA/2016 AA/ONDSF/DIPLING/2016

5

Oil Max Energy

2

AA/ONDSF/CHARAIDEO/2016 AA/ONDSF/DUARMARA/2016

6

Nippon Power

2

CB/ONDSF/KAMBOI/2016

CB/ONDSF/WEST BECHRAJI/2016

7

Megha Engineering

2

AA/ONDSF/LAXMIJAN/2016 CB/ONDSF/KAMBEL/2016

8

KEI-RSOS

2

KG/ONDSF/KORAVAKA/2016 KG/OSDSF/GSKV1/2016

9

Prize Petroleum

2

AA/ONDSF/HILARA/2016 KG/ONDSF/SANARUDRAVARAM/2016

10

HOEC+Adbhoot

1

MB/OSDSF/B80/2016

11

HOEC+OIL+PRIZE

1

AA/ONDSF/KHEREM/2016

12

Adani Welspun

1

MB/OSDSF/B9/2016

13

Sun Petrochemicals

1

MB/OSDSF/B-37/2016

14

GEM Laboratories

1

CY/ONDSF/NEDUVASAL/2016

15

South Asia Consultancy FZE

Ratification of Kyoto Protocol
Mar 27,2017

n++The Government of India has decided to ratify the Second Commitment Period (2013- 2020) of the Kyoto Protocol. Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol enables developed countries to invest in n++Cleann++ projects in developing countries to gain emissions credits (Certified Emission Reduction-CER). Indian Industry has benefited from trading in CERs in the international market. Of late, due to lack of demand internationally, prices of CERs have been very low leading to low activities under this mechanism.n++

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Sanction of 101 New Integrated Cold Chain Projects
Mar 27,2017

India is one of the largest food producers in the world and is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables yet only 2.2% of our fruits and vegetables are processed. India requires affordable cold storages and cold chains at every food producing hub in the country. While existing cold storages are concentrated in few states and roughly 80 to 90% are used for potatoes, India has a long way to go. MoFPI is building National Cold Chain Grid in the country so that all food producing hubs are connected to cold storage and processing industries.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries has been constantly involved in setting up new cold chain infrastructure which has both cold storage and processing facilities. The Ministry had announced sanction of 30 Cold Chain Projects in May, 2015. Today Ministry announces sanction of 101 new integrated Cold Chain Projects spread across the country. These projects are for fruits and vegetables, dairy, fish, meat, marine, poultry, ready to eat/ready to cook sectors.

The Ministry is focusing on creating Cold Chain infrastructure by strategic planning which eventually builds Cold Chain Grid in the entire country. This will help in realizing the vision of Honble Prime Minister for doubling of farmers income. It will also reduce wastage in agri supply chain and will create huge employment opportunities.

The scheme of Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure provides financial assistance up to Rs. 10 crore for entrepreneurs.

These 101 new integrated cold chain projects will leverage total investment of Rs. 3100 crore for creation of modern infrastructure for the food processing sector. The total expected grant-in-aid to be released to these projects is Rs. 838 crore.

The 101 new Cold chain Projects will create additional capacity of 2.76 lakh MT of Cold Storage/Controlled Atmosphere/Frozen Storage, 115 MT per hour of Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) capacity, 56 lakh litres per day of Milk Processing, 210 MT per batch of Blast Freezing and 629 Refrigerated/Insulated vehicles.

These Integrated Cold Chain projects will not only provide a big boost to the growth of food processing infrastructure in the concerned states but also help in providing better prices to farmers and is a step towards doubling of farmers income. The infrastructure will also reduce wastage of perishables, add value to the agricultural produce and create huge employment opportunities especially in rural areas.

Creation of above Cold Chain Infrastructure and other necessary infrastructure would go a long way in further expanding and strengthening required food processing infrastructure in the country which shall create short, consistent and compressed supply chains from producers to processors, retailers and exporters and give major boost to fruits and vegetables processing, milk processing and non-horticulture food processing in the country.

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More than 2 dozen companies want collaboration with India Post Payments Bank
Mar 27,2017

Government has said that there are many companies who have approached the Department of Posts for collaboration with India Post Payments Bank. While the Department is in various stages of discussions with them, decision on formal partnerships will be taken after carefully evaluating the entire value proposition that they propose for the common man. The India Post Payments Bank had launched its two branches in Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and Ranchi (Jharkhand) on 30/01/2017 with basic products and banking services in partnership with Punjab National Bank.

Shri Sinha also said that the Payments Banks are different from regular Banks in the following fundamental ways as per RBI guidelines for Licensing of Payments Banks:

(i) Payment Banks are not allowed to undertake lending activities directly. It can accept demand deposits only that is savings and current accounts and will initially be restricted to holding a maximum balance of Rs. 100,000(Rupees one lakh only) per individual customer.

(ii) Payment Banks cannot accept Non Resident Indian (NRI) deposits.

(iii) The Payment Banks cannot set up subsidiaries to undertake non banking financial services activities.

A list of companies interested in partnering with India Post Payments Bank is:

List companies keen to partner with India Post Payments Bank.

1

YES Bank

2

Union Bank

3

Punjab National Bank

4

IDBI Bank (Industrial Developmentn++Bankn++of India)

5

SBI (State Bank of India)

6

Axis

7

Bank of Baroda

8

IDFC Bank (Industrial development finance company)

9

Deutshe Bank

10

Barclays Bank

11

Citibank

12

NABARD (National Bank For Agriculture & Rural Development)

13

HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation)

14

MICRO SAVE

15

Allahabad Bank

16

Indian Overseas Bank

17

Dena Bank

18

FIA (Financial Inclusion)

19

Kotak Mahindra Bank

20

United Bank of India

21

HDFC Life (Housing Development Finance Corporation)

22

Royal Sundaram

23

PNB Metlife (Punjab National Bank)

24

ICICI Lombard (n++Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India Bank)

25

ICICI Prudential (n++Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India Bank)

26

Bajaj Allianz Life

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ADB Steps Up Anticorruption Efforts to Enhance Asias Development
Mar 27,2017

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is stepping up its anticorruption and integrity efforts, and has approved an update to its Anticorruption Policy. This is on top of other reforms and policies to be implemented over the next 12 months to improve the institutions support to developing member countries (DMCs) to address issues such as tax integrity, according to ADBs Office of Anticorruption and Integritys (OAI) 2016 Annual Report.

n++ADB is not only about financing development projects for Asia and the Pacific. We are also about fighting corruption and making sure that our member countries and other development partners adhere to the same principle of integrity,n++ said Clare Wee, Head, OAI. n++We, at ADB, are committed to redoubling our anticorruption efforts to better assist the regions pursuit of a more sustainable and inclusive development.n++

The 2016 report discusses some of the efforts ADB n++ through OAI n++ is planning to implement this year including a $2 million technical assistance to DMCs to counter money laundering and financing of terrorism, as well as technical support not only to tackle tax integrity issues but also to promote domestic resource mobilization. OAI will also prepare new tax guidelines for ADBs non-sovereign operations.

ADB will ensure that it retains a respectful work environment through a newly established Respectful Workplace Unit, which will include mandatory anticorruption and respect at work training for all staff.

These efforts will ride on the back of a successful anticorruption and integrity drive from ADB through both enforcement and prevention strategies in 2016. According to OAIs 2016 Annual Report, 98 firms and 40 individuals were debarred for integrity violations on top of cross-debarment for 86 firms and 47 individuals last year. Nine firms and one individual, meanwhile, were conditionally non-debarred, 18 firms and 9 individuals reprimanded, and 16 firms and 13 individuals cautioned.

OAI conducted seven proactive reviews n++ or Project Procurement-Related Reviews (PPRR) n++ of ongoing ADB-financed projects in 2016 with a value of $1.8 billion. PPRRs identify noncompliance issues, irregularities and integrity concerns, with project procurement, disbursements, and delivery of project outputs.

The OAI 2016 Annual Report also includes a special feature on tax integrity and development, outlining ADBs leading role in responding to issues like tax secrecy, tax evasion, and aggressive tax planning. Among other steps, OAI will report on its tax integrity activities to ADBs Board of Directors in 2018, and every 3 years thereafter. This will ensure that ADB remains in line with international developments in this issue.

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730 million Internet users are anticipated in the country by 2020-NASSCOM
Mar 27,2017

Government has said that due to fast adoption of digital technology, it is expected that number of internet users will increase in the country. As per information received from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), there were 391.50 million Internet subscribers as on 31 December 2016.

The National Telecom Policy-2012 envisages 600 million broadband connections by the year 2020 at minimum 2 Mbps download speed. Further, as per National Association of Software & Services Companies (NASSCOM) -Akamai report launched on 17.08.2016 regarding n++The Future of Internet in Indian++, 730 million Internet users are anticipated in the country by 2020.

Government has allocated 965 Megahertz spectrum through auction in October 2016 to various telecom service providers for access services. This will enable the telecom service providers to roll-out 3G and 4G services which will facilitate proliferation of high speed internet facility.

Further, for provision of broadband facility in rural areas, BharatNet project is also being implemented to provide 100 Mbps broadband connectivity to all Gram Panchayats (approx. 2.5 lakh) in the country by using an optimal mix of underground fibre, fibre over power lines, radio and satellite media.

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Moodys: Global paper and forest products industry outlook to remain stable on steady operating income growth
Mar 27,2017

Higher prices and stronger wood product, paper packaging and market pulp demand offsetting rising input costs and lower paper demand will keep the outlook for the global paper and forest products industry stable, says Moodys Investors Service in a newly published global outlook for the sector. Consistent with the stable outlook, the rating agency expects consolidated operating income increases of 2-4% for its 46 globally-rated forest product companies over the next 12-18 months.

Moodys expects that the consolidated operating income of the 29 North American companies it rates will remain essentially flat, with 2-4% growth over the outlook period. Such growth is consistent with analysts expectations of modest operating income growth from North American paper packaging, wood products and timberland producers being partially offset by lower operating earnings from pulp and paper companies. Significantly, these same companies account for about 60% of the global rated industrys operating income.

Notably, despite flat operating incomes overall for the North American subset, US timberland and wood products companies including Weyerhaeuser Company, Rayonier Inc., and Potlatch Corporation stand to benefit as the demand for new US housing increases about 8% in 2017 and as lumber prices escalate with the implementation of duties on Canadian lumber exported to the US, said Moodys Senior Vice President Ed Sustar.

With respect to the rating agencys five rated Latin American pulp producers, Moodys says their operating income growth will increase by 2-4%, as local players benefit from the concurrent positive effects of their low cost base and price hikes implemented in the past six months. And with international pulp prices being priced in US dollars, local currency depreciation will be a continued benefit to producers. In Brazil, Moodys forecasts real GDP to increase about 0.9% in 2017 and 1.5% in 2018, which will support local paper and packaging demand growth.

For its part, of the 11 rated European producers, analysts expect consolidated operating income to increase 1-3% over the outlook period. These producers account for approximately 25% of the Moodys-rated operating income for the industry globally. Such an increase is consistent with expectations that stronger operating earnings regionally from rated packaging companies will outweigh those from paper producers, which continue to face secular declines. Nevertheless, in the report, Moodys analysts underscore expectations of an increase in operating income from European wood-based building producers, as larger investments in homebuilding and renovations bolster demand for lumber and panels. Packaging volume is similarly expected to grow as the European economy improves, and continuing weakness in the Euro should strengthen European exports in 2017. Moodys forecasts modest economic growth of about 1.4% for the Euro area in 2017 and 2018.

Moodys outlook for the global forest and paper products sector reflects expectations for the fundamental business conditions in the industry over the next 12 to 18 months.

The outlook could shift to positive if consolidated operating income increased by more than 4% over the next 12 to 18 months, most likely as a result of higher prices across several grades and regions due to a tight demand-supply balance or stronger demand from higher than expected GDP growth. Conversely, the outlook could be changed to negative if consolidated global operating income declined over the next 12 to 18 months, stemming from increased input costs that cannot be passed on to customers, for example, or reduced pricing driven by operating capacity exceeding demand for several grades and regions.

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Fitch Assigns Indian Renewable Energy Development Agencys upcoming MTN Programme BBB-(EXP)
Mar 27,2017

Fitch Ratings has assigned Indian Renewable Energy Development Agencys (IREDA; BBB-/F3/Stable) upcoming USD300m MTN programme expected ratings of BBB- (EXP) and a short-term expected rating of F3(EXP).

The assignment of the final ratings on the programme is contingent upon the receipt of final documents conforming to information already received and details regarding the amount, coupon rate and maturity.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

The programme is rated in line with IREDAs Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) as issues under the programme will constitute direct, unconditional, unsubordinated and unsecured obligations of the IREDA. The MTN programme will be used for general corporate purposes.

IREDAs ratings are equalised with those of the sovereign (BBB-/F3/Stable) IDR. This reflects the 100% state ownership of the company, the entitys public-sector legal status and the strong operational and strategic ties with the government, resulting in a high likelihood of extraordinary government support if needed. IREDA is therefore classified as a credit-linked entity under Fitchs public-sector entity (PSE) criteria.

IREDA was incorporated under the 1956 Companies Act, and is instrumental for the governments core policy of fostering the renewable energy sector. It remains crucial in light of the countrys sizeable projected growth. IREDA is the only public entity devoted to renewable energy funding. It does not have a majority market share, but IREDA is viewed as a benchmark investor for its sector expertise. It is recognised as a systemically important non-banking financial company by the Reserve Bank of India, so IREDA complies with specific prudential regulations.

RATING SENSITIVITIESAny rating action on the issuer would be mirrored on the ratings of the programme or issues under the programme.

IREDAs ratings are credit-linked to those of the sovereign, so a positive or negative rating action on the sovereign would result in similar rating action on the issuer. Changes to IREDAs legal status, weakening potential support from the state could lead to a downgrade.

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Credit Rating of Urban Local Bodies gain Momentum
Mar 27,2017

With the exercise of Credit Rating of cities and towns gaining momentum, 94 of the 500 cities included in Smart City Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) have obtained such ratings which are necessary for issuing Municipal Bonds for mobilization of resources.

During the review of progress of Credit Rating exercise taken by Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu, it was revealed that 55 of these cities have got Investment Grade ratings. Shri Naidu noted that 59% of cities assessedn++ getting Investment Grade rating was better than what was thought of about the financial situation of Urban Local Bodies in the country.

The 94 cities that have so far been assigned Credit Ratings are spread across 14 States. Ministry of Urban Development is promoting Credit Rating of cities as one of the five Transformational Reforms under which about 500 cities and towns that account for about 65% of total urban population were to be given Credit Ratings during this year.

Of the total 20 ratings ranging from AAA ton++ D, BBB- is the GÿInvestment Grade ratings and cities rated below BBB- need to undertake necessary interventions to improve their ratings for obtaining positive response to the Municipal Bonds to be issued.

Credit Ratings are assigned based on assets and liabilities of Urban Local Bodies, revenue streams, resources available for capital investments, Double Entry Accounting practice and other governance practices. Besides the Credit Rating of Urban Local Bodies, ratings for individual projects for which resources are to bemobilised through Municipal Bonds would have a bearing on the response to such bonds.

Details of cities and towns and respective Credit Ratings are as below:

Credit
Rating

Cities/Towns

AA+ (3)

New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Navi Mumbai and Pune

AA (3)

Ahmedabad, Visakhapatnam and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation

AA- (4)

Surat, Nashik, Thane and Pimpri-Chindwad

A+ (5)

Indore, Kishanganj(Rajasthan), Kolkata, Vadodara(Gujarat) and Warangal(Telangana)

A (1)

Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan)

A-(8)

Alwar, Bhiwadi, Beawar, Jaipur(Raj), Bhopal,Jabalpur(MP), Mira Bhayandar(Maha) and New Town Rajarhat(W.Bengal)n++

BBB+ (5)

Ajmer , Kota and Udaipur(Rajasthan), Ludhiana(Punjab) and Jamnagar(Guj)

BBB (14)

Kakinada, Anantapur, Kurnool and Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Davanagere and Hubbali-Dharwar(Karnataka), Kochi and Trivendrum (Kerala), Panaji (Goa), Kolhapur and Nagpur(Maharashtra), Jodhpur, Nagaur and Tonk(Rajasthan)

BBB- (12)

Amaravati (Maharashtra), Belgavi (Karnataka), Bharuch and Bhavnagar (Gujarat), Bharatpur, Bhilwara, Bikaner and Hanumangarh(Rajasthan), Chittor and Cuddapah (Andhra Pradesh), Cuttack (Odisha), Ranchi (Jharkhand).n++n++

BB+ (14)

Proddatur, Nandyaln++ and Nellore (Andhra Pradesh), Kollam and Kozhikode (Kerala), Kalol, Nadiad and Navsarai (Gujarat), Nanded and Solapur (Maharashtra), Gangapur City, Dhaulpur, Pali and SawaiMadhopur (Rajasthan)n++n++

BB (14)

Adoni and Tadipatri (Andhra Pradesh), Dwaraka (Gujarat), Aizawal (Mizoram), Thrisur (Kerala), Berhampur, Rourkela and Sambhalpur (Odisha), Bundi, Churu, Chittorgarh, Hindaun, Jodhpur and Sujangarh (Rajasthan)

BB- (7)

Adityapur, Chas,n++Deogarh and Giridh (Jharkhand), Mori (Gujarat), Baran and Jhalawar (Raj)

B+ (3)

Baripada and Puri (Odisha) and Hazaribagh (Jharkhand)

B (1)

Bhadrak (Odisha)

As per the reforms timelines suggested by the Ministry of Urban Development, 39 cities that have got Credit Ratings below the investment grade (BBB-) have to undertake necessary interventions for improving the ratings in one year.

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Third meeting of G-20 framework working group to be held at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh (UP) on 28th and 29th March, 2017
Mar 27,2017

The 3rd G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG) Meeting under the G-20 German Presidency is being co-hosted by Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Varanasi on 28th and 29th of March, 2017. The first two G 20 FWG meetings under the G-20 German Presidency have already been held at Berlin in Dec 16 and at Riyadh in Feb 17.

Since the inception of the FWG in 2009, this is the fourth occasion that India is hosting this meeting. Previously, India had hosted the G-20 FWG Meetings in Neemrana, Rajasthan (2012 under Mexican Presidency), in Goa (in 2014 under G-20 Australian Presidency) and in Kerala (2015 under G-20 Turkish Presidency).

In the forthcoming meeting in Varanasi, the G-20 FWG will discuss the current global economic situation as well as deliberate on the policy options that countries can pursue to counter the important development challenges. One important focus of this meeting will be to deliberate on the inclusive growth agenda of G-20 and to formulate a framework that will enable countries to help frame country specific inclusive growth policies.

The G-20 is the group of 19 countries and European Union (EU) deliberating on global economic issues and other important development challenges. G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG) is one of the core working groups of G-20. The mandate of FWG is to deliberate on the challenges facing the global economy and the policy options that countries can use to address these challenges. India along with Canada has been co-chairing this group.

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FM approves the re-organisation of the field formations of the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) for the implementation of Goods & Services Tax
Mar 27,2017

Reorganisation of the field formations of the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) for the implementation of Goods & Services Tax (GST) has been approved by the Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley. The existing formations of Central Excise & Service Tax under the CBEC have been re-organised to implement and enforce the provisions of the proposed Goods & Services Tax Laws.

The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) is being renamed as the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC), after getting legislative approval. The proposed CBIC shall, inter alia, supervise the work of all its field formations and Directorates and assist the Government in policy making in relation to GST, continuing Central Excise levy & Customs functions.

The CBIC will have 21 Zones, 101 GST Tax payer Services Commissionerates comprising 15 sub-Commissionerates, 768 Divisions, 3969 Ranges, 49 Audit Commissionerates and 50 Appeals Commissionerates. This will ensure rendering of taxpayer services to all the taxpayers through an indirect tax administration structure, having pan-India presence.

For a robust IT Network, the Directorate General of Systems under CBEC is being strengthened. The Directorate General Tax Payer Services is being expanded for greater out- reach for facilitating smooth transition for the taxpayers to the GST environment. The existing training establishment, to be renamed as National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics will have an all India presence, to enable capacity building to the employees of the indirect tax administration of the Centre as well as of the State Governments and to members of Trade and Industry. The renamed Directorate General of Goods & Service Tax Intelligence is also being strengthened and expanded to become an important wing of the Government in its fight against Tax Evasion and Black Money.

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India Signs Financing Agreement with World Bank for Us$ 100 Million for Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project
Mar 27,2017

A financing agreement for IDA credit of US$ 100 (equivalent) for the Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project was signed here with the World Bank .

The Financing Agreement was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of Government of India and Mr. Hisham Abdo, Acting Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank. A Project Agreement was also signed by Dr. Neeraj Kharwal, Additional Secretary (Health), Government of Uttarakhand and Mr. Hisham Abdo, Acting Country Director, World Bank.

The objective of the project is to improve access to quality health services, particularly in the hilly districts of the State, and to expand health financial risk protection for residents of the State. The project will benefit the residents of hilly districts in particular. The project has two main components, (i) Innovations of engaging the private sector; and (ii) Stewardship and system improvement. Out of the total project size of USD 125 million, USD 25 million will be the counterpart contribution of the State Government.

The planned design of the Project consists of multiple self-contained clusters of clinical services managed by operators on a PPP basis, providing services for free or at nominal charges, backed up by a robust oversight and monitoring mechanism fully integrated with the expanded health insurance program in the State. This will be concurrent with strengthening the states capacity to implement the project.

The closing date of Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project is 30th September, 2023.

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Economic Corridor Development (ECD) now at the forefront in promoting Sustained Growth in the SASEC Sub-region
Mar 27,2017

India and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have been partnering on the economic corridor approach for some time now. Economic Corridor Development contributes to and stimulates economic development along the route. The economic corridor approach involves leveraging infrastructure connectivity and developing urban areas as growth centers and gateways, to unlock the full potential of markets.

Since late 2013, ADB has been supporting studies on how to transform transport corridors into dynamic economic corridors. These studies considered how to best link the existing and planned transport corridors in various modes (surface, maritime, and multimodal transport) with other economic corridors such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the Bangalore-Chennai Economic Corridor, Amritsar- Kolkata Industrial Corridor and the corridors in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

n++This India-ADB partnership has in fact yielded useful lessons on Economic Corridor Development (ECD), through their joint work on the East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC), Indias first coastal corridorn++ noted Mr. Ronald Antonio Butiong, Director of ADB South Asia Departments Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division. n++The ECEC, which runs along the entire east coast from Kolkata to Kanyakumari, is a multimodal, regional maritime corridor that can play a vital role in unifying the large domestic market, as well as integrating the Indian economy with the dynamic global value chains of Southeast and East Asia.n++ Aside from an ambitious infrastructure program, the ECEC involves developing skills, and creating an attractive regulatory environment, bringing in new investments, and nurturing existing businesses to grow and innovate, and create much needed jobs.

Phase 1 of the ECEC is the Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC) which covers 11 districts in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. ADB helped prepare the Conceptual Development Plan (CDP) and Regional Perspective Plan (RPP) for VCIC, which served as the bases for the Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor Development Program, which was approved by the ADB Board in September 2016. The Program comprises a multi-tranche financing facility (MFF), a grant, and a policy-based loan (PBL) for a total investment amount of $631 million. The MFF and grant will support priority infrastructure investments in the VCIC region and the PBL will support policy reforms and institutional development in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

ADBs indicative lending pipeline for 2017-2019 to support economic corridor development in South Asia includes: (i) the VCIC Development Program MFF Tranche 2 in India in 2018, with an ADB loan: $250 million; and (ii) Regional Urban Development Project in Nepal in 2017, with an ADB loan: $150 million.

Earlier, ADB has developed a SASEC Operational Plan (OP) 2016-2025 which identifies promoting economic corridor development (ECD) as of one its key strategic focus areas. The SASEC OP, adopted by the SASEC member countries in June 2016, is the SASEC programs first comprehensive long-term plan to promote greater economic cooperation among its member countries, bringing regional cooperation to a higher level with the aim of extending physical and economic linkages not only within SASEC but also with East and Southeast Asia.

Under the SASEC OP, the operational focus on economic corridors will involve promoting synergies between corridors across SASEC countries. n++Such approach adopted by the SASEC program should maximize the corridors development impacts through improved cross-border linkages between corridors, and better coordination of policies, plans and programs for multi-sector infrastructure interventions. This would result in stronger consistency between and among transport, urban and industrial development efforts within the sub-regionn++, stressed Mr. Dinesh Sharma, Special Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

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CCI issues order against CIL and its subsidiaries for abusing dominant position, imposes penalty
Mar 24,2017

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Competition Act, 2002 for imposing unfair/ discriminatory conditions in Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) with the power producers for supply of non-coking coal.

The Final Order has been passed on a batch of informations filed by Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd. and Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited against Coal India Ltd. and its subsidiaries (Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd., Western Coalfields Ltd., South Eastern Coalfields Ltd.).

The Order has been passed by CCI pursuant to the directions issued by Competition Appellate Tribunal remanding the matter back while setting aside the original order of CCI in which a penalty of Rs. 1773.05 crore had been imposed upon CIL. After hearing the parties afresh in terms of the directions issued by Competition Appellate Tribunal, CCI held that CIL through its subsidiaries operates independently of market forces and enjoys dominance in the relevant market of production and supply of non-coking coal in India. CCI noted in the order that CIL did not evolve/ draft/ finalize the terms and conditions of FSAs through a bilateral process and the same were imposed upon the buyers through a unilateral conduct. CCI found CIL and its subsidiaries to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Competition Act, 2002 for imposing unfair/ discriminatory conditions in FSAs with the power producers for supply of non-coking coal.

Apart from issuing a cease and desist order against CIL and its subsidiaries, CCI has directed modification of FSAs in light of the findings and observations recorded in the order. The impugned clauses related to sampling and testing procedure, charging transportation and other expenses for supply of ungraded coal from the buyers, capping compensation for supply of stones etc. For effecting the modifications in FSAs, CIL has been ordered to consult all the stakeholders. CIL has also been directed to ensure uniformity between old and new power producers as well as between private and PSU power producers.

Further, CCI has imposed a penalty of Rs. 591.01 crore upon CIL for the abusive conduct. While reducing penalty, CCI noted the steps taken by CIL to improve the sampling procedure even post-passing of the original order by CCI. However, while holding the extant sampling procedure as unfair, CIL has been directed to incorporate suitable modifications in fuel supply agreements to provide for a fair and equitable sampling and testing procedure besides considering the feasibility of sampling at the unloading-end in consultation with power producers and adopting international best practices.

The common Order of the Commission has been passed in Case Nos. 03, 11 and 59 of 2012 and a copy thereof has been uploaded on the website of CCI at www.cci.gov.in.

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