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National Highways Declared in Uttar Pradesh
Mar 21,2017

The total length of National Highways (NHs) in the country is about 1,13,298 km. State roads are declared as new NHs from time to time on the basis of well established principles; the criteria for State roads for declaration as new NHs include roads running through length / breadth of the country, connecting adjacent countries, National Capitals with State Capitals / mutually the State Capitals, major ports, non-major ports, large industrial centers or tourist centers, roads meeting very important strategic requirement in hilly and isolated area, arterial roads which enable sizeable reduction in travel distance and achieve substantial economic growth thereby, roads which help opening up large tracts of backward area and hilly regions (other than strategically important ones), achieving a National Highways grid of 100 km, etc.

The receipt of No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the State Government, regarding transfer of assets and liabilities of new NHs declared in State of Uttar Pradesh during 2014, 2015 and 2016, is an essential prerequisite for entrusting these to the agencies such as State Public Works Department (PWD), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), etc., for taking up maintenance and development works on such new NHs. The Ministry has received NOC from the State Government of Uttar Pradesh in respect of new NH No. 219, No. 227A, No. 334A, No. 334B and No. 731A only and these NHs have been entrusted to the State Government of Uttar Pradesh recently in December, 2016. The Ministry has allocated an amount of Rs. 19.05 crores during year 2016-17 under Ordinary Repair (OR) sub head under Maintenance & Repair head (M&R) to meet the contingency for keeping all the NHs including these newly entrusted NHs in traffic worthy condition. The further development of these newly entrusted NHs are taken up depending upon the availability of funds, inter se priority, traffic count and approved annual plan.

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National Highways Declared in Uttar Pradesh
Mar 21,2017

The total length of National Highways (NHs) in the country is about 1,13,298 km. State roads are declared as new NHs from time to time on the basis of well established principles; the criteria for State roads for declaration as new NHs include roads running through length / breadth of the country, connecting adjacent countries, National Capitals with State Capitals / mutually the State Capitals, major ports, non-major ports, large industrial centers or tourist centers, roads meeting very important strategic requirement in hilly and isolated area, arterial roads which enable sizeable reduction in travel distance and achieve substantial economic growth thereby, roads which help opening up large tracts of backward area and hilly regions (other than strategically important ones), achieving a National Highways grid of 100 km, etc.

The receipt of No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the State Government, regarding transfer of assets and liabilities of new NHs declared in State of Uttar Pradesh during 2014, 2015 and 2016, is an essential prerequisite for entrusting these to the agencies such as State Public Works Department (PWD), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), etc., for taking up maintenance and development works on such new NHs. The Ministry has received NOC from the State Government of Uttar Pradesh in respect of new NH No. 219, No. 227A, No. 334A, No. 334B and No. 731A only and these NHs have been entrusted to the State Government of Uttar Pradesh recently in December, 2016. The Ministry has allocated an amount of Rs. 19.05 crores during year 2016-17 under Ordinary Repair (OR) sub head under Maintenance & Repair head (M&R) to meet the contingency for keeping all the NHs including these newly entrusted NHs in traffic worthy condition. The further development of these newly entrusted NHs are taken up depending upon the availability of funds, inter se priority, traffic count and approved annual plan.

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Employees Enrolment Campaign launched by EPFO to extend social security benefits to all eligible workers
Mar 20,2017

An Employees Enrolment Campaign has been launched by Employees Provident Fund Organisation during the period 01 January 2017 to 31 March 2017, in order to extend social security benefits to all the eligible workers in the country. During the Campaign, various financial incentives are being offered to establishments to enroll their workers.

An employer, whether already covered or yet to be covered, can enroll employees who remained un-enrolled for any reason between 01 April 2009 and 31 December 2016 by making a declaration of such employees during the campaign period. Such declaration shall be valid only in respect of employees who are alive as on 1st January, 2017 and no proceedings under section 7A of the Employees Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions (EPF & MP) Act, 1952 or under paragraph 26B of the Employees Provident Funds (EPF) Scheme, 1952 or under paragraph 8 of the Employees Pension Scheme, 1995 have been initiated against their establishment or employer, as the case may be, to determine the eligibility for membership of such employees. For the declaration made under this campaign, the employer shall be responsible to remit the employers contribution, interest under section 7Q of the Act and damages. As an incentive, the following shall apply to the declarations made under the campaign: -

(i) The employees share of contribution if declared by the employer not to have been deducted shall not be required to be paid.

(ii) The damages to be paid by the employer in respect of the employees for whom declaration has been made under this campaign shall be at the rate of Rupee 1(one) per annum.

(iii) No administrative charges shall be collected from the employer in respect of the contribution made under the declaration.

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EPFO takes various steps for speedy settlement of claims
Mar 20,2017

The Employees Provident Funds Organization (EPFO) has taken various steps for speedy settlement of claims which inter alia include:

n++ Composite Claim Form (Aadhaar) and Composite Claim Form (Non-Aadhaar) has been introduced by replacing the erstwhile Claim Forms No. 19, 10C and 31, with a view to simplify the submission of claims by the subscribers. The Composite Claim Form has been further simplified to include self-certification by EPF subscribers. The Composite Claim Form (Aadhaar) can be submitted to the EPFO without attestation of their employers.

n++ EPFO has mandated to settle claims within 20 days.

n++ Online Transfer Claim Portal (OTCP) has been introduced to facilitate seamless transfer of claims.

n++ An online payment facility has been developed for employers for payment of dues. The internet banking (INB) facility enhances efficiency and payment and ensures anytime, anywhere online access while usage of existing internet bank account to make payments online.

n++ National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) has been introduced for payments.

The Employees Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions (EPF & MP) Act, 1952 is applicable to every establishment employing 20 or more persons which is either a factory engaged in any industry specified in Schedule-I of the Act or an establishment to which the Act has been made applicable by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette.

There was a total of 17.14 crore Employees Provident Fund (EPF) accounts as on 31 March 2016. 12.21 lakh accounts were pending for updation. As per consolidated Annual Accounts of EPFO for the year 2015-16, the closing balance in Interest Account as on 31st March, 2016 is Rs. 45,135.25 crore.

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Four Sectoral Computer Emergency Response Teams to mitigate Cyber Security Threats in Power Systems
Mar 20,2017

Government of India, in line with National Cyber Security Policy 2013, has created sectoral Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) to mitigate cyber security threats in power systems.

Government of India through Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology(MeitY) and National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) has taken several steps to make power utilities and key stakeholders aware to take precautions against cyber threats.

For cyber security in power systems, four Sectoral CERTs, CERT (Transmission), CERT (Thermal), CERT (Hydro) and CERT (Distribution) have also been formed to coordinate with power utilities. The relevant stakeholders of Smart Grid have been advised to identify critical infrastructure and use end to end encryption for data security.

All utilities have been asked to identify a nodal senior executive as its Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to lead the process of strengthening organizational systems with respect to cyber security and implement an Information Security Management System as recommended by rules framed under the Information Technology (IT) Act 2008.

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Chinese investment undermake in India
Mar 20,2017

Chinese companies have shown significant interest to invest in India in a wide range of sectors since the launch of Make in India campaign. As per data maintained by DIPP/RBI, between April,2000 and December,2016, cumulative FDI inflows from China were INR 9,933.87 crores. Of the cumulative FDI equity inflows, 77.9% have been received since 2014 as detailed below :-

2014-2015: INR 3,066.24 Crores

2015-2016: INR 2,975.14 Crores

2016-2017(till December,2016): INR 1,696.96 Crores

An MoU between the Ministry of Commerce of the Peoples Republic of China and Ministry of Commerce & Industry of India has been signed on cooperation on Industrial Parks in India on 30th June,2014 in Beijing.

Pursuant thereto, Joint Working Group (JWG) of the Indian side was constituted on 16th July,2014 to act as the nodal point to identify and agree upon the detailed modalities for implementing cooperation under the said agreement, and to periodically review progress. Three JWG meetings have so far been held. The last meeting of JWG was held on 2 November 2016 at Beijing, China. It was decided during the meeting that both sides will encourage all stakeholders to expedite the implementation for which all necessary facilitation would be provided.

Following MoUs have so far been signed between Indian State Government Agencies and Chinese Investors for development of Industrial Parks in States :-

a. MoU between Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), Govt. of Maharashtra and Beiqi Foton Motors, China for Auto Industrial Park in Pune;

b. MoU between Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb), Govt. of Gujarat and China Development Bank Corporation (CDB), China for supporting the setting up of Industrial Parks in Gujarat;

c. MoU between Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb), Govt. of Gujarat and China Small and Medium Enterprises (Chengdu) Investment (CSME) to set up multi-purpose Chinese Industrial Park in Gujarat;

d. MoU between HSIIDC, Govt. of Haryana and Dalian Wanda Group for development of an integrated Entertainment Park-cum-Industrial township in Haryana;

e. MoU between HSIIDC, Govt. of Haryana and China Fortune Land Development (CFLD) for development of an Industrial Park in Haryana.

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The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approves the four Goods and Services Tax (GST) related bills
Mar 20,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved the following four Goods and Services Tax (GST) related bills:

1. The Central Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 (The CGST Bill)

2. The Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 (The IGST Bill)

3. The Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 (The UTGST Bill)

4. The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to the States) Bill 2017 (The Compensation Bill)

The passage of these four GST related bills will pave the way for the biggest reform in the area of Indirect Taxes in the history of independent India. The Union Government has taken up the implementation of GST with utmost priority and has passed the legislations on a fast track basis as it was pending for over a decade. With the Cabinet approval of these four bills, the GST regime in India is in the final stages of culmination and the GST law will most likely be implemented from 01st July, 2017. The above four Bills have been earlier approved by the GST Council after thorough, clause by clause, discussion over 12 meetings of the Council held in the last six months.

By amalgamating a large number of Central and State taxes into a single tax, it would mitigate cascading or double taxation in a major way and pave the way for a common national market. The Goods and Services Tax will thus help in the realization of the objective of n++One Nation, One Taxn++ and improve the Ease of Doing Business climate in the country. It will also indirectly benefit the common man by reducing the tax burden especially on the daily consumer items of the common man.

Introduction of GST would also make Indian products competitive in the domestic and international markets. Studies show that this would have a boosting impact on economic growth. It is expected that the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax law will lead to an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country by 1-2%. This in turn will lead to the creation of more employment and increase in productivity.

The GST regime will bring in more transparency and efficiency with the minimization of human interface in the tax administration in the country. The GST regime is also likely to lead to a reduction in tax evasion as a result of the computerization of the taxation process. This tax, because of its transparent and self-policing character, would be easier to administer. This will in turn lead to increase in revenue collection for the Centre and the States.

The CGST Bill makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods or services for both by the Central Government. On the other hand, IGST Bill makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on inter-state supply of goods or services or both by the Central Government. The UTGST Bill makes provisions for levy on collection of tax on intra-UT supply of goods and services in the Union Territories without legislature. Union Territory GST is akin to States Goods and Services Tax (SGST) which shall be levied and collected by the States/Union Territories on intra-state supply of goods or services or both. The Compensation Bill provides for compensation to the states for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the goods and services tax for a period of five years as per section 18 of the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016.

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Growth-oriented policy agenda needed to ensure stronger economic recovery with benefits for all workers and households
Mar 20,2017

Governments must deploy policy packages that take advantage of the synergies between labour, product and financial market reforms to escape the low-growth trap and ensure that benefits are broadly shared by the vast majority of citizens, according to the OECDs annual Going for Growth report.

Going for Growth 2017 offers a comprehensive assessment of policy reforms that can be packaged together to boost long-term growth, improve competitiveness and productivity, create jobs and ensure a more inclusive economy.

This years edition of Going for Growth reveals an uptick in policy-maker attention to reforms to lift employment, particularly measures aimed at helping women, young people and low-skilled workers enter and thrive in the labour market, and these have delivered results. However, a worrisome slowdown in reforms that influence labour productivity - such as those in education and innovation policy- is of particular concern in light of the persistent and widespread decline in productivity growth, which is the key to boost wages and living standards.

n++Reversing the prolonged period of stagnating living standards that is affecting a large share of people worldwide will require coherent structural reform strategies and the political will to deploy them,n++ OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurrn++a said. n++The vast array of growth and inclusiveness challenges facing advanced and emerging economies call out for a quicker pace and more comprehensive set of reforms. While efforts to promote employment and bring down inequalities are beginning to pay off, governments cannot afford to let up.n++

Going for Growth 2017 suggests governments should concentrate reform efforts around packages of policy measures designed to simultaneously target economic and social objectives. The framework for selecting policy priorities laid out in this years report considers for the first time inclusiveness as a prime objective, alongside productivity and employment, which are the principal drivers of average income growth.

n++Governments in most countries need reforms to escape the low-growth trap and prepare for coming technological changes, but they must pay better attention to addressing the concerns of those who bear the costs of the reform agenda,n++ Mr Gurrn++a said. n++Putting inclusiveness at the heart of the policy equation is the only appropriate response to the growing political headwinds that have slowed reform.n++

Presenting Going for Growth with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schn++uble ahead of the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors taking place in Baden Baden, Mr Gurrn++a said that implementing the reports reform recommendations would help to achieve the G-20 objectives for stronger and more inclusive growth.

The Going for Growth analysis forms the basis of the OECDs wider contribution to the G20 Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth. The OECD works with G20 countries to quantify their efforts to boost GDP and to achieve national growth strategy objectives.

The recipe for reform varies by country, but the ingredients include measures to promote business dynamism and the diffusion of innovation, to help workers to cope with the rapid turnover of firms and jobs, and to better prepare youth for the labour market of the future. These will require improving outcomes and equity in basic education and adult training programmes, exposing businesses to stronger product market competition, including through greater openness to cross-border trade and investment, and beefing-up job search assistance and other active labour market policies to facilitate the return to work in quality jobs of laid-off workers.

Going for Growth 2017 notes that the pace of reforms continues to vary across both countries and policy areas. It points out that governments have tended to concentrate reform efforts in specific policy areas, running the risk of missing potential gains from policy synergies and reform complementarities. Improved packaging of reforms would make them easier to implement, maximise the impact on growth and job creation and help reduce income inequality.

Among the highlights in this years report:

n++The pace of reform has slowed in countries which have been particularly active in the previous two-year period, such as Mexico, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Poland and Spain, as well as in a number of countries where reform activity was not so intense, including Australia, Indonesia and Slovenia.

n++Reform intensity has increased noticeably in some countries which had not been among the most active reformers, such as Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Israel, Italy and Sweden, as well as in Austria, Brazil and France.

n++The slowdown in the pace of reform is principally driven by a decline in reforms tin productivity-related areas. Given the importance of productivity gains for long-term living standards, this years report puts more emphasis on reform priorities in the areas of education, product market competition and public investment.

n++Many countries have heeded OECD recommendations to boost job creation by lowering labour tax wedges on low-wage workers. Individualised job search support and wage subsidies have been stepped up to facilitate the return to work of the long-term unemployed. Similarly, the number of reforms aimed at reducing barriers to women working, including increased access to child care and early childhood education, are increasing. These are both areas where pro-growth reforms also promote greater inclusiveness.

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Cabinet approves four GST Bills
Mar 20,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the following four GST related bills:

1. The Central Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 (The CGST Bill)

2. The Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 (The IGST Bill)

3. The Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 (The UTGST Bill)

4. The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to the States) Bill 2017 (The Compensation Bill)

The above four Bills have been earlier approved by the GST Council after thorough, clause by clause, discussion over 12 meetings of the Council held in the last six months.

The CGST Bill makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods or services for both by the Central Government. On the other hand, IGST Bill makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on inter-state supply of goods or services or both by the Central Government.

The UTGST Bill makes provisions for levy on collection of tax on intra-UT supply of goods and services in the Union Territories without legislature. Union Territory GST is akin to States Goods and Services Tax (SGST) which shall be levied and collected by the States/Union Territories on intra-state supply of goods or services or both.

The Compensation Bill provides for compensation to the states for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the goods and services tax for a period of five years as per section 18 of the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016.

Background:

The Government is committed to early introduction of GST, one of the biggest reforms, in the country as early as possible. GST Council has decided 1st July as the date of commencement of GST. The Finance Minister in his Budget Speech has mentioned that country-wide outreach efforts will be made to explain the provisions of GST to Trade and Industry.

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Moodys: IFRS 9 adoption to result in modest capital impact for most banks
Mar 20,2017

Most Moodys-rated banks reporting under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) anticipate a decrease of up to 50 basis points (bps) in their core capital ratios when the new expected credit loss rules under IFRS 9 come into effect next year, according to a survey conducted by the rating agency. The accounting change, on its own, will not affect Moodys credit assessment of most banks. However, unexpected large capital reductions may cause a reassessment of bank capital adequacy.

The capital impact on adoption of IFRS 9 for most of our rated banks should be modest, with their capital buffers likely able to absorb the effect; only 13% of responding banks believe that their CET1 ratio could fall by more than 50 basis points, says Upaasna Laungani, CPA, Vice President -- Senior Accounting Analyst at Moodys.

About 39% of banks surveyed expect a decrease of less than 10 bps in their Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratios on adoption, while 48% expect a decrease of 10-50 bps. Reflecting this, the survey revealed that banks do not expect to significantly adjust their business profiles, although many stated that they plan to adjust loan pricing to reflect the upfront reduction in capital.

Regional differences in capital impact were revealed by the survey, with some banks in the Middle East & Africa forecasting that the impact could be over 100 basis points -- a full percentage point -- on their CET1 ratios.

This was the only region, however, in which Moodys heard that the effect could be this large. While more than half of banks in Europe (58%) believe a decrease of 10 to 50 basis points is more likely, more than half of banks in the Asia-Pacific region (53%) and responding banks in Canada and Lating America believe the impact will be less than 10 basis points.

In terms of loan types, banks believe that residential mortgage and consumer loans will see the greatest increase in loan-loss reserves on adoption of IFRS 9. For most other types, though, reserves on the balance sheet will increase by about 10%, according to the survey.

While almost 70% of banks believe provision expenses will be more volatile from period to period under IFRS 9, most banks (62%) believe that the application of the IFRS 9 impairment model will result in better credit risk management.

With the effective date less than a year away, about half of banks are still in the early stages of implementation, with 8% of banks yet to start implementation.

Moodys surveyed all of its rated banks that report under IFRS, receiving responses from 185.

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Biggest challenge is to bring unorganized sector under the ambit of pension society: Chairman, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority
Mar 20,2017

The biggest challenge in providing income security in old age was to bring the unorganized sector, which accounts for 85 per cent of the countrys labor force, under the ambit of pension. Pension schemes offered must therefore be well-regulated and supported by the government as this segment lacks awareness about pensionary benefits. Given the heterogeneous nature of the unorganized sector and the labor force which is constantly on the move in search of work, it was necessary to provide a pension system with portability. Also, it was essential to raise the financial literacy of the people to encourage them to join pension schemes. This was stated by Mr. Hemant G. Contractor, Chairman, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), at FICCIs second annual conference on the pensions sector on the theme India: Moving Towards a Pensioned Society.

Mr. Contractor said that Indias organized sector, which comprised 15 per cent of the working population, was well covered under varied pension schemes. However, he pointed out that because of instances in the past of people being cheated by Ponzi schemes there was lack of trust and confidence which was keeping organized sector workers away from pension schemes. Hence, it was essential to bring about awareness about pension schemes and make the policies transparent and easy to manage.

He said that there was a segment, people below the poverty line aged over 60 years, which was unable to make any savings during their lifetime. In order to support them the government was providing people below the poverty line with a small amount as pension, this needed to be stepped up. The Chairman said that PFRDA and FICCI were closely involved in organizing seminars across the country to spread awareness and propagate pension schemes such as NPS among corporates.

Highlighting several challenges in augmenting participation in the pension society, Mr. Amitabh Chaudhry, Chairman, FICCIs Insurance and Pensions Committee and Managing Director and CEO, HDFC Life Insurance Company, said that the presence of multiple regulators in the sector, withdrawal before retirement leading to wasteful expenditure, lack of clarity on portability, high disparity in tax treatment of different pension products and non-alignment of pension funds with inflation were some of the deterrents, which needed to be addressed.

Mr. Chaudhary said that initiatives were being undertaken to promote enrolment in pension schemes. Awareness campaigns were being run and efforts were being made to reach out to people with transparent policies and communication. He added that technology integration was needed across the value chain and pension fund managers needed more autonomy to reach out to larger number of prospective consumers.

Prof. Mukul Asher, Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, said that there was a need for policy coherence and organizational coordination. Besides, policy reforms had become more urgent, including extending retirement age. Also, there was a need to set up National Pension Research Centre both by the government and industry to assimilate data and other information to help in increasing the pension coverage in the country.

Prof. Asher said that rapid ageing required coordination between pension and healthcare systems and organizations as well. He suggested shifting of ESIC from the Labor Ministry to the Health Ministry. Prof. Asher added that PHI which was Purpose of the organization, Habit of the stakeholders and Incentive structure for the organization and members should be taken into account for enlarging pension coverage.

Mr. Naveen Aggarwal, Partner, COO- Tax, KPMG in India, said that with increasing industrialization and urbanization, the joint family structure was being replaced by nuclear families. The combination of these factors makes it imperative for the policy makers to pay urgent attention to the enormous challenge of providing income security after retirement. A pension system thus would provide protection against the risk of poverty in old age and help in building pension savings during working life to finance retirement. The journey towards a pensioned society would require greater emphasis on implementing pension reforms.

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More emphasis needs to be given towards employeesn++n++ retirement planning: FICCI-KPMG white paper
Mar 20,2017

In order to embark upon the ambitious journey towards a pensioned society, India would require a systemic approach for designing a coherent pension system. As a measure of the enormity of the challenge that India faces, the 2011 Census showed that only 12 per cent of the Indian working population (i.e. approximately 58 million) were covered under any pension plan. The pension savings of the covered population are also not adequate.

This translates into the challenge of only a very small portion of the Indian working population being protected against old-age income insecurity. Further, the population projections suggest that the elderly residents (people aged 60 and above) will triple from 2010 to 2050 and the number of elderly will reach 331 million in India by 2050. A combination of aging population, weakening of the joint family support system and low pension penetration makes it imperative for policymakers to pay urgent attention to the enormous challenge of providing income security after retirement.

The aspiration of a pensioned society would need greater emphasis on implementing pension reforms. A lot of effort and planning is needed for building sufficient capacity, scalability and support for implementation of such reforms.

For the white paper, KPMG in India again conducted an Employer Pension Plans Survey this year similar to the survey conducted in the year 2015, to have an overview of the pension plans from company representatives from diverse sectors (industrial markets, IT/BPO, automotive, healthcare, financial services, consumer markets, etc.). In all, 167 business entities responded to the survey.

The survey highlights that a majority of the employers are of the view that more emphasis needs to be given towards employeesn++n++ retirement planning. The survey responses indicate that tax benefits are considered as the primary reason to opt for NPS similar to the results of Employer Pension Plans Survey of 2015. A majority of respondents felt that the contribution towards retirement savings should be in the range of 20-30 percent of onen++n++s salary.

n++n++Social security for the old age is an important issue in the public policy discourse of any country. In India, this has been high on the priority list of the government that has taken a series of measures to extend the reach of social security net. FICCI has also identified pensions as a key area for its work and is engaged with all the stakeholders to evolve policies that can help the growth of this sector. The FICCI-KPMG knowledge paper released on the occasion of our Pensions Conference is a good reference tool that provides information on the priorities of the Indian corporate sector with regard to pension planning for employees. We hope that this paper will prove to be a key input in policy discussions in this important arean++n++, said Dr. A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI.

n++n++Given the large gap in pension coverage, both the regulators, EPFO and PFRDA, along with the government and industry need to collaborate and build a comprehensive and sustainable pension system in India. Significant efforts are required for building sufficient institutional capacity for implementing pension reforms in Indian++n++, said Ms. Parizad Sirwalla, Partner and Head, Global Mobility Services, Tax, KPMG in India.

Some of the other important findings of the Employer Pension Plan Survey, 2017 are as follows: n++h

The system of automatic enrolment of employees under the EPF regime is largely prevalent. Around 84 per cent of the respondent companies mandatorily enroll their employees for EPFO membership, irrespective of the salary level n++h

Nearly 55 per cent of the survey respondents confirmed that employees in their organisations are exercising the option of contributing to Voluntary Provident Fund (VPF) n++h

Around 82 per cent of the respondent companies are contributing towards PF on full basic salary of the employees while 13 per cent restrict the same on statutory monthly limit of INR 15,000 n++h

Thirty six per cent of the respondent companies have registered for National Pension System (NPS). Further, almost 33 per cent of organisations that currently do not have NPS, are considering to register for NPS n++h

Tax benefits for employees continue to be the primary motivator (52 per cent of the respondents) for employers to opt or consider NPS in this yearn++n++s survey as well. A large number of respondents (42 per cent) view employee empowerment for pension planning as one of the motivating factors for opting/considering NPS n++h

Further, almost 57 per cent of the respondents stated that there has been an increase in NPS enrolment due to Finance Act, 2016 announcement regarding tax benefits on withdrawal of NPS contributions

Only 29 per cent of the respondents have set up superannuation fund (SAF) for their employees. Of the 94 respondents, which do not have SAF, only 10 organisations have plans to set up an SAF n++h

A large majority of the respondents (around 92 per cent) agree on the importance of tax savings as an important consideration for voluntary contributions to retirement plans.

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V.O.Chidambaranar Port Handles Record Traffic of 36.91 Million Tonnes
Mar 20,2017

V. O. Chidambaranar Port, has crossed the previous financial years traffic of 36.85 million tonnes on 17 March 2017, 14 days ahead of the completion of the current financial year.

The Port has handled a record traffic of 36.91 Million tonnes till 17 March 2017, with an impressive cargo growth at 4.77% as compared with the same period of last financial year. The cargoe that contributed to this record performance includes, Coal to NTPL (64.11 %), Wheat (433.61%), Lime Stone(8.37%), Phosphoric Acid(106.42%), Fertilizers(16.07%), Fertilizer Raw Materials(7.18%), Construction Materials(28.75%), and Containerised cargo(5.02%).

The Port has also created an achievement in container traffic by handling 613,617 TEUs upto 17.03.2017 and crossed the previous financial years record traffic of 611,714 TEUs.

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Food inflation in India comparatively lower in the last six months as compared to the global food inflation based on the Food Price Index of FAO
Mar 18,2017

Food inflation as measured by the Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) in India was comparatively lower in the last six months as compared to the global food inflation based on the Food Price Index of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (Table 1). Table 1: Food inflation based on FAO Food Price Index and CFPI (in per cent)Sep-16Oct-16Nov-16Dec-16Jan-17Feb-17FAO Food Price Index10.18.810.811.016.917.2CFPI4.03.32.01.40.62.0Source: Food and Agriculture Organization and Central Statistics Office.

Overall supply of food items has been comfortable. As per the second advance estimates (2nd AE) of production of food grains 2016-17 released by Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, the production of total food grains is estimated to increase to 271.98 Million Tonnes in 2016-17 as compared to 253.16 Million Tonnes in 2015-16 (2nd AE). Pulses production is estimated to increase to 22.14 Million Tonnes in 2016-17 as compared to 17.33 Million Tonnes in 2015-16 (2nd AE).

As per the Macroeconomic Impact of Demonetisation- A Preliminary Assessment of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the impact of demonetisation on inflation in the near-term stemmed mainly from moderation in food inflation, especially perishables, as inflation excluding food and fuel remained broadly unaffected. The Government has taken a number of measures to control inflation, especially food inflation. The steps taken, inter alia, include, (i) increased budgetary allocation for Price Stabilization Fund in the budget 2017-18 to check volatility of prices of essential commodities, in particular, of pulses; (ii) created buffer stock of pulses through domestic procurement and imports; (iii) announced higher Minimum Support Prices so as to incentivize production; (iv) issued advisory to States/UTs to take strict action against hoarding and black marketing under the Essential Commodities Act 1955 and the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980; (v) imposed 20 per cent duty on export of sugar; and (vi) reduced import duty on potatoes, wheat and palm oil.

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GOI signatory of CbC MCAA pertaining to tax coopertion
Mar 18,2017

The Government is a signatory of Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement for automatic exchange of Country-by-Country Reporting (CbC MCAA) pertaining to tax cooperation to enable automatic sharing of Country-by-Country information

The Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) for automatic exchange of Country-by-Country (CbC) Reports has been developed by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to facilitate amongst countries the automatic exchange of CbC Reports filed by Multinational Enterprises (MNEs). The MCAA has been developed to take forward the commitment of G-20 and OECD member countries, under the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project, to usher in a completely new Transfer Pricing documentation regime. The CbC Report is expected to provide countries with vital information to help them assess transfer pricing risks and select cases for audit. Detailed audit of such high-risk cases would help prevent profit shifting by MNEs through the transfer pricing mechanism. India signed the MCAA for CbC on 12/05/2016 and shall exchange CbC Reports from 2018.

As per the information available, 57 countries have signed the MCAA for CbC till date. Some of the recent signatories are Russian Federation, Mauritius, Indonesia and Gabon.

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