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Timelines for Closure of financial accounts under Rule 114H (8) of the Income-tax Rules, 1962 under alternative procedure of FATCA
Apr 11,2017

The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with USA for implementation of FATCA entered into force on 31st August 2015. Under the alternative procedure provided in Rule 114H(8) of the Income-tax Rules, 1962, the financial institutions need to obtain self-certification and carry out due diligence in respect of all individual and entity accounts opened from 1st July 2014 to 31st August 2015. Such self-certification and documentation was required to be obtained by the financial institutions by 31st August 2016, otherwise they were required to close the accounts and report the same if found to be a reportable account as per the prescribed due diligence procedure for pre-existing account.

In view of the difficulties highlighted by stakeholders in following the provision for closure of financial accounts, it was informed vide Press Release dated 31st August 2016 that the financial institutions may not close the accounts by 31st August 2016 in respect of which self-certifications have not been obtained under the alternative procedure and a revised time line shall be notified in due course. The financial institutions were also advised to continue to work on completing the required due diligence, including obtaining self-certifications.

Queries are being received from the financial institutions regarding the revised time lines for completion of due diligence. The financial institutions are advised that all efforts should be made by the financial institutions to obtain the self-certification. The account holders may be informed that, in case self-certifications are not provided till 30 April 2017, the accounts would be blocked, which would mean that the financial institution would prohibit the account holder from effecting any transaction with respect to such accounts. The transactions by the account holder in such blocked accounts may, thereafter, be permitted once the self-certification is obtained and due diligence completed.

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CBDT issues PAN and TAN within 1 day to improve Ease of Doing Business
Apr 11,2017

In order to improve the Ease of Doing Business for newly incorporated corporates, CBDT has tied up with Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) to issue Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Tax Deduction Account Number (TAN) in 1 day.

Applicant companies submit a common application form SPICe (INC 32) on MCA portal and once the data of incorporation is sent to CBDT by MCA, the PAN and TAN are issued immediately without any further intervention of the applicant. The Certificate of Incorporation (COI) of newly incorporated companies includes the PAN in addition to the Corporate Identity Number (CIN). TAN is also allotted simultaneously and communicated to the Company.

Till 31st March 2017, 19,704 newly incorporated Companies were allotted PAN in this manner. During March, 2017, of the 10,894 newly incorporated companies, PAN was allotted within 4 hrs in 95.63% cases and within 1 day in all cases. Similarly, TAN was allotted to all such companies within 4 hrs in 94.7 % cases and within 1 day in 99.73% cases.

CBDTs initiative in starting of a business is expected to significantly improve the ranking of India in the Ease of Doing Business Study conducted by World Bank by reducing the number of processes of registration before various authorities under law, reducing the time taken for allotment of the registration number (CIN, PAN, TAN) and making the entire registration process for new companies much simpler.

CBDT has also introduced the Electronic PAN Card (E-PAN) which is sent by email, in addition to issue of the physical PAN Card, to all applicants including individuals where PAN is allotted. Applicant would be benefited by having a digitally signed E-PAN card which they can submit as proof of identity to other agency electronically directly or by storing in the Digital Locker

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Moodys: Collections on loans in Indian auto ABS rise in February
Apr 11,2017

Moodys Investors Service says that the collection of repayments on the loans in Indian auto asset-backed securities (ABS) improved in February, returning to levels that occurred prior to the governments decision to remove a high proportion of currency notes from circulation (demonetization) in November 2016.

At the same time, auto ABS delinquencies increased in February 2017 after a slight improvement in December 2016 and stabilization in January 2017, but will decline back to pre-demonetization levels by June if economic activity continues to pick up and oil prices remain in a range between $40 and $60 a barrel.

Delinquencies had increased in the wake of demonetization because the decline in economic activity triggered by the policy resulted in a loss of income for some commercial vehicle operators, causing them to miss auto loan repayments, says Vincent Tordo, a Moodys Analyst.

At end-February, over 30 days in arrears was at 12.7%, compared with 10.9% in December 2016.

However, measures of economic activity in India -- such as manufacturing, services and industrial production activity -- now appear to have bottomed post the governments action in November last year, adds Tordo.

Another reason for the rise in delinquencies in February was the increase in prepayment rates, which reduced outstanding balances in auto loans at a faster rate than the average rate.

This development contributed to the increase in delinquency rates, because arrears levels were higher relative to the smaller outstanding balances.

In India, commercial vehicle loan originators often attempt to persuade borrowers to sell their vehicles and repay their loans if the vehicles are not being used intensively.

Such a development may have occurred in the aftermath of demonetization, thereby pushing up the prepayment rate. Given the circumstances that drive prepayments in India, prepayment rates can be volatile and do not necessarily reflect improving performance.

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Government makes compliance of Labour Laws and Rules easy
Apr 11,2017

The Government has undertaken an exercise to promote ease of compliance of Labour Laws and Rules by various establishments. The n++Rationalisation of Forms and Reports under Certain Labour Laws Rules, 2017n++ has reduced the number of forms and reports prescribed under 3 Acts and the Rules made thereunder from 36 to 12. The overall aim of the exercise is to make the forms and reports easy to understand for the users. This will save efforts, costs and lessen the compliance burden of various establishments. As per the sixth Economic Census of Central Statistical Office, conducted during 2013-2014,there are about 5.85 crore establishments in agriculture and non- agriculture sectors of the country.

While reviewing the requirement of filing forms under various Labour Laws it was observed that 36 forms prescribed under 3 Acts and the Rules made thereunder had several overlapping/redundant fields. Therefore, an exercise was undertaken by the Ministry of Labour and Employment to do away with overlapping fields and reduce the number of forms. An intention notification for reducing the number of forms and reports was placed in the public domain on 9th February, 2017 and objections and suggestions thereon were sought from all stake-holders.

The Labour Laws under which these forms are filed include:

(I) The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970

(II) The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979

(III) The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.

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Rs. 23,443 crores released for MGNREGS for Mission Water Conservation Rs. 23,443 crores released for MGNREGS for Mission Water Conservation
Apr 11,2017

The Ministry of Rural Development has released Rs. 23,443.09 crore to the States today as first tranche for Financial Year 2017-18 under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). The amount released includes all pending liabilities as on 31st March, 2017. It is also to ensure priority work on water conservation measures.

The Government is laying considerable emphasis on Water Conservation and Water Management works under MGNREGS. All States have been advised to ensure that such works are taken up wherever required with appropriate technical and scientific scrutiny. In collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources, Mission Water Conservation Guidelines have been developed and shared with the States. A list of 2264 water-stressed Blocks, as ascertained from the Ministry of Water Resources, has been prepared. These Blocks are located in 324 districts of 21 States. In a recent communication to the States, the Ministry has advised the States to ensure not less than 65% expenditure on Natural Resource Management (NRM) Activities. There are 155 kind of works permissible under MGNREGS. Of these, 100 works are NRM related.

In a communication to the Chief Secretaries, Secretary, Rural Development has requested them to accord top most priority to Water Conservation works under MGNREGS. Special thrust has to be ensured in drought prone regions and in districts/Blocks receiving inadequate rainfall.

Apart from focusing on execution of works related to Water Conservation and Water Management, States have been requested to ensure work availability to poor households in poor regions on priority. A campaign to ensure a Job Card for every household that reported deprivation in SECC has been going on. No poor household will be denied work in MGNREGS.

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Development of Coastal Areas as Beach Corridor
Apr 10,2017

For Integrated Development of Theme-Based Tourist Circuits in the country, the Ministry of Tourism has launched Swadesh Darshan Scheme in 2014-15. Under the scheme, thirteen thematic circuits have been identified for development including Coastal Circuit.

 The State/UT-wise details of the projects sanctioned under the Coastal circuit theme of Swadesh Darshan Scheme including Andhra Pradesh is as under:

 (Rs. in crore)

Sl. No.State/UTName of the Project/Year of SanctionAmount Sanctioned1.

Andhra Pradesh

Development of Coastal Circuit: Kakinada Beach Front- Hope Island- Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary- Vodalarevu- Adurru- Syanam- Chirra Yanam- Kotipally (2014-15)

69.83

2.

Andhra Pradesh

Development of Coastal Circuit: Pulicat Lake- Ubbalamadugu Water Falls- Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary- Nellore Tank/Lake- Kotha Koduru Beach- Mypadu Beach- Ramatheertham Temple & Beach- Iskapally Beach-  in Sri Potti Sriramalu Nellore under Swadesh Darshan Scheme in Andhra Pradesh. (2015-16)

60.38

3.

Puducherry

Development of Union Territory of Puducherry as Tourist Circuit under Swadesh Darshan Scheme. (2015-16)

85.28

4.

West Bengal

Development of Beach Circuit - Udaipur - Digha - Shankarpur - Tajpur - Mandarmani - Fraserganj - Bakkhlai -Henry Island in West Bengal. (2015-16)

85.39

5.

Maharashtra

Development of Sindhudurg Coastal Circuit in Maharashtra under Swadesh Darshan Scheme. (2015-16) 

82.17

6.

Goa

Development of Coastal Circuit (Sinquerim-Baga, Anjuna-Vagator, Morjim-Keri, Aguada Fort and Aguada Jail) in Goa. (2016-17)

99.99

7.

Karnataka

Development of Coastal Circuit in Dakshin Kannada Dist, Uttar Kannada Dist & Udupi Dist in Karnataka.
(2016-17)

95.67

8.

Odisha

Development of Gopalpur, Barkul, Satapada and Tampara as Coastal circuit in Odisha. (2016-17)

76.49

9.

Andaman & Nicobar

Islands

Development of Coastal Circuit (Long Island-Ross Smith Island- Neil Island- Havelock Island- Baratang Island-Port Blair ) in Andaman & Nicobar under Coastal thematic circuit of Swadesh Darshan Scheme. (2016-17)

42.19

10.

Tamil Nadu

Development of Coastal Circuit (Chennai- Mamamallapuram - Rameshwaram - Manpadu - Kanyakumari) in Tamil Nadu under Swadesh Darshan Scheme.

(2016-17)

99.92

The work under the above projects is going on.

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Comprehensive Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India (STCI)
Apr 10,2017

The Comprehensive Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India (STCI) for Accommodation, Tour Operators and Beaches, Backwaters, Lakes & Rivers sectors were launched in August 2014 and has been accepted by the stakeholders. No issues/problem in this regard have surfaced.

Further, the Ministry has guidelines for approval of Hotel Projects at the implementation stage and also guidelines for classification/re-classification of operational hotels under various categories. As per these guidelines, hotels at the project stage itself are required to incorporate various eco-friendly measures like Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), Rain Water Harvesting System, waste management system, pollution control, introduction of non-Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) equipment for refrigeration and air conditioning, measures for energy and water conservation etc. Under the guidelines for project level & classification/re-classification of operational hotels, it has been prescribed that the architecture of the hotel buildings in hilly and ecologically fragile areas should be sustainable and energy efficient and as far as possible be in conformity with the local ethos and make use of local designs and material.

The tour operators approved by Ministry of Tourism have to sign a pledge for commitment towards Safe & Honourable Tourism and Sustainable Tourism to fully implement Sustainable Tourism practices, consistent with the best environment and heritage protection standards, such that the present tourism resource requirements optimize both local community benefit and future sustainable uses.

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Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) is developing online claims settlement process by receiving application online
Apr 10,2017

Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) is developing online claims settlement process by receiving application online. The application will be integrated with Unified Mobile App for New-age Governance (UMANG) App to receive the claims online. However, time frame to rollout the same has not been finalized. EPFO has engaged Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune as its technical consultant for upgradation of its technology.

Necessary hardware by way of the latest technology for servers, storages & Networking equipments have been installed at three data centers in Delhi, Gurugram & Secunderabad.

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National Manufacturing Competitiveness Programme to enhance the global competitiveness of manufacturing MSMEs
Apr 10,2017

The main objective of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Programme (NMCP) is to enhance the global competitiveness of manufacturing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by intervening through following components:


i)          Lean Manufacturing Competitiveness Scheme,

ii)        Design Clinic Scheme,

iii)     Technology & Quality Up-gradation support for MSMEs (TEQUP),

iv)      Promotion of ICT in manufacturing Sector,

v)        Building Awareness on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR),

vi)    Entrepreneurial & Management Development of SMEs through incubators,

vii)  Enabling Manufacturing Sector to be Competitive through Quality Management Standards (QMS) and Quality Technology Tools QTT (This component has been subsumed under ZED certification scheme).

The achievements under the programme are visible from the improvement in the demand offtake from the MSMEs which is showing an increasing trend. This is reflective of the realization of the benefits by MSMEs under the scheme after implementation of various NMCP components. The figures during the last three year are given below:

Year

Actual Utilization
(Rs. in crore)

2014-15

31.90

2015-16

36.37

2016-17

47.13 (upto Dec, 2016)

The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME)  implements various schemes and programmes for promotion of MSME in all the States of India, viz., Credit Guarantee Scheme, Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Programme (NMCP), Cluster Development Programme, Marketing Development Assistance, International Cooperation Scheme and Prime Ministers Employment Generation Programme, etc. The budgetary allocations and utilization in respect of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) for implementation of various schemes / programmes for promotion and development of MSMEs for last three years is as under:

(Rupees in crore)

YearsAllocation (BE)Utilization2014-153327.002389.902015-162612.512440.562016-173000.002015.33 (upto Dec, 2016)

As per the data compiled by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) from the Scheduled Commercial Banks, the position regarding number of sick Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country at the end of March, 2013, March, 2014, March, 2015 and March, 2016 is as under:

At the end ofNumber of sick MSMEsMarch, 20132,22,204March, 20144,68,399March, 20155,37,269March, 20164,86,291

The Government has organised 78 nos. of Awareness campaign on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) during the year 2016-17 under IPR scheme.

The Ministry of MSME has implemented Enabling Manufacturing Sector to be Competitive through Quality Management Standards (QMS) and Quality Technology Tools (QTT) to improve the Quality of the products in the MSME sector and inculcate the quality consciousness in enterprises in this sector. The QMS/QTT scheme has since been subsumed / merged with Zero Defect Zero Effect (ZED) Certification Scheme w.e.f. 18th October, 2016. Under the scheme 27,755 MSEs were assisted with an expenditure of Rs. 10.35 crore till date.

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New Mental Healthcare Bill 2016 awaiting Presidential assent
Apr 10,2017

The new Mental Healthcare Bill 2016, which has been approved Parliament and is awaiting the Presidents assent should be implemented in letter and spirit to ensure mental healthcare and services to persons with mental illness. This was stated by Mr. Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Mr. Aggarwal said that a multi-pronged approach was needed to identify and treat clinical depression and mental disorder as it required overall life course correction. There was a need to integrate mental health services with regular healthcare services as it would allow reduction in isolation of patients afflicted with such disorders. Furthermore, mass awareness campaigns were essential to remove the social stigma attached to it and community based approach should be adopted.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognised mental health as being a primary concern for well-being of individuals and instated depression as the theme for World Health Day this year. Depression has become an increasingly fatal disease accounting for the highest number of disabilities that occur after cardiac illnesses. The presence of an undiagnosed depression is known to be the cause of 90% suicides that happen across the world. Between 1990 and 2013 the number of people suffering from depression and anxiety disorders increased by nearly 50%. Mental illnesses affected 300 million of the global population in 2015. WHO statistics place the prevalence of depression in South East Asian countries at 86 million. Mr. Sumant Narain, Director, Health, NITI Aayog, said that today the ecosystem was far more conducive to recognizing depression and partnerships were needed between public and private sectors to deal with the illness. There has been a behavioral change in the society but sustained and systematic efforts were required to circumvent clinical depression. Although there were known and effective treatment for depression available but a very small proportion of the affected population in the world receive such treatment.

He said that in addition to limited availability of resources and trained health-care providers, the social stigma attached to mental disorders was a major challenge. Hence it was imperative for people to learn and understand depression. It will not only benefit the patient but also the caregivers and family members. With the passage of the revised Mental Health Bill 2016, it is now time to implement it with the support of all stakeholders.

Prof. Mathew Varghese, Professor of Psychiatry, NIMHANS, said awareness campaigns should clearly spell out that depression was an illness that can be treated and depression relating to physical illness was prevalent. Also, depression as a disorder could be responsible for disability, morbidity and mortality. He added that each available medium must focus on bringing to the fore these messages.

Prof. Varghese said that the way ahead should be to organize universal prevention programmes, targeted interventions for people at high risks and teaching and training general physicians and specialists to screen and identify patients with clinical depression at an early stage and treatment should be evidence-based. In his concluding remarks, Mr. Daljit Singh, President, Fortis Healthcare Ltd., said that capacity building wasrequired in treating mental disorders and technology could be of great assistance in this regard. Recognition of depression as a disease in India was a positive transformation in society and with the governments new Mental Health Bill was a step in the right direction.

Dr Samir Parikh, Consultant Psychiatrist & Director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, said that there was a need for a national policy on suicide prevention and creation of awareness about depression as a recent survey has shown that 60 per cent of the people consider it a rare disease while in reality it was one of the major causes for suicides.

Dr. Parikh said that role models especially of youth should speak on the issue as it is bound to be more impactful. Everywhere people need to talk about mental health for recognizing it and treating it in time. He added that there was not adequate number of doctors to treat depression in the county and the majority of existing doctors were in the private sector. Therefore the need was to have accessible and affordable psychiatrists in the outskirts of the country. Technology should be leveraged to treat patients in the periphery.

Dr. Parikh said that the private sector needed to play a proactive role and with collaborative efforts from the industry, private and public healthcare providers, government and media, a program was needed to increase awareness and accessibility of expert help to incidence of depression in the country.

Dr Narottam Puri, Advisor - FICCI Health Services, Board Member & Former Chairman, NABH, said that in India one in every five person was suffering from depression and still it remained under-diagnosed, under-reported and under-treated. The stigma attached with depression has dissuaded people to talk about it openly and with lack of awareness it was often equated with madness.

Dr Puri said that suicides caused by depression were highest among medical professionals and the primary reason was that doctors were usually surrounded by patients with depression and there was easy access to mood elevating drugs. He added that India lacked medical practitioners in the field besides the medical curriculum did not give due weightage to identification and treatment of depression.

Dr Puri said that women suffer from depression more than men and while it was easier to treat a stroke, understanding the emotive brain functions still remained a mystery. Therefore, it was necessary to empower medical students through curriculum and train general physicians enabling them to recognize depression.

Ms. Shobha Mishra Ghosh, Assistant Secretary General, FICCI, said that such collaborative initiatives which bring together different stakeholders from the health fraternity and various facets of society can help initiate a concentrated and comprehensive approach to reduce the morbidity and disability due to depression in the country. She also announced the launch of a series of Webinars in association with Fortis on Depression and Well-being for corporate employees. These free of cost webinars will be conducted by experts from the mental health team of Fortis Healthcare.

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Committee recommendations to review Khadi Industries
Apr 10,2017

The Central Government had constituted the following Committees to review the existing structure, functioning and performance of Khadi Village and Industries Commission(KVIC) to study the regulatory framework and to recommend any other measures considered necessary to revamp the KVIC.

1. High Power Committee headed by late Prime Minister Shri PV Narasimha Rao

2. Arthur Andersen Study

3. Expert Committee under the Chairmanship of Shri. D.M. Sukthankar, former Chief Secretary Govt. of Maharashtra

High Power Committee (HPC) was constituted under the Chairmanship of late Prime Minister Mr. P. V. Narasimha Rao to review the performance, examine the issues and identify the problems faced by the KVI sector.

The Committee in its report submitted in 1994 made various recommendations. The key recommendations of the Committee were:

n++n++ All apex financing Institutions and commercial banks to be advised to increase the flow of institutional credit to the KVI sector.

n++n++ Rebate for Khadi may be replaced by n++n++Market Development Assistancen++n++ (MDA), calculated at 20% of production

n++n++ Necessary legislative measures to protect n++n++Khadin++n++ and its use by KVIC certified Institutions;

n++n++ Separate wing in KVIC to supervise the working of Sliver Plants; smaller economical sliver plants to be set up at the Institutional level

n++n++ Village industries under the purview of KVIC to be considered on par with Government level village and small industries category for planning and development purposes.

n++n++ Government to constitute a separate fund (Rs. 2000 crore) for rural industries to be administered by NABARD or a separate financial institution.

n++n++ Focus on select industries for development where KVIC has expertise and experience

n++n++ Development of the export capability of KVI Institutions; strengthening quality control, augmenting training (participatory funding scheme for KVIB and NGO run new training centres) and research facilities

n++n++ Creation of a special cell at the KVIC headquarters to oversee and monitor the KVI programmes

n++n++ Transition to Project Approach for financing (from Pattern Approach)

n++n++ Commission to delegate day to day functions to the CEO and Financial Advisor and focus on developmental rather than regulatory activity

n++n++ Measures for strengthening of KVIBs

Based on the recommendations of the High Power Committee the following changes were brought in the KVI Sector:

The REGP scheme was commissioned in 1995-96 with the objective of providing a formal channel for flow of funds from banking institutions to the KVI sector.

The Government of India framed a new scheme for KVIC to take online credit facility (Consortium of Bank Credit or n++n++CBCn++n++) of Rs. 1000 crore.

Arthur Andersen study was commissioned in the year 2000 with the objective of reorganizing the KVIC organization structure with respect to the changing business needs and overall objectives of the KVIC.

The Committee in its report made various recommendations. The key recommendations of the Committee were:

n++n++ Redefinition of n++n++Commissionn++n++ under the KVIC act, 1956 in line with change from an operational body to policy formulation body.

n++n++ At the Commission level, the KVIC to not only comprise representatives of the KVI sector but the officers of the KVIC to also participate in its policy making and, therefore, the CEO, FA and the heads of Khadi and VI departments to be appointed as voting members of the Commission.

n++n++ At the operational level, KVIC to structure itself into separate business units to meet the distinct requirements of Khadi and Village Industries.

n++n++ The roles and responsibilities of internal functions, such as Capacity Building, Marketing & Sales, Research & Development, Human Resources, Finance, etc, which are integral to the organizationn++n++s performance, to be defined and communicated clearly.

n++n++ KVIC should set up industrial clusters catering to a groups of skilled artisans at the district/block level

Based on the recommendations of the Arthur Andersen study the CEO and FA were made ex-officio members of the Commission and voting rights were also conferred.

Ministry constituted Expert Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. D.M. Sukthankar, former Chief Secretary Govt. of Maharashtra, in 2005 to review the existing structure, functioning and performance of KVIC to study the regulatory framework and to recommend any other measures considered necessary to revamp the KVIC.

The Committee in its report submitted in March, 2005 made various recommendations. The key recommendations of the Committee were:

n++n++ Need for identification of select traditional and sunrise industries as focus areas; a cluster-based approach to revival of traditional industries;

n++n++ Recognize technological up-gradation and modernization as a priority area for transforming the sector; suggested mobilization of existing technical and scientific Institutions, such as, ITIs, Engineering Colleges, IITs, CSIR as resource/contact Institutions for rural industrialization and creation of venture capital fund within KVI;

n++n++ Recommended brand building, standardization and quality control for products of KVI Sector;

n++n++ Address the organizational and training issues preventing the growth of the KVI sector and suggested setting up of Zonal Committees and Zonal offices under a Deputy CEO, and restructuring of training programme aimed towards entrepreneurial development;

n++n++ Commented on issues related to Khadi Institutions, namely, dues on account of Rebate, stock pile-up and state of implements; Suggested alternatives to Rebate

n++n++ direct subsidization of spinners

n++n++ encouraging entrepreneurship among spinners/weavers through formation of Self Help Groups

n++n++ Governance related recommendations

Based on the recommendations of the Expert Committee the following changes were brought in the KVI Sector:

n++n++ Introduced Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) to organize the traditional industries and artisans into clusters to make them competitive and provide support for their long term sustainability and economy of scale.

n++n++ KVIC took up several projects under an interface with reputed Technological institutions viz. IITs and NITs for developing new technologies and their subsequent dissemination among institutions and entrepreneurs of KVI Sector.

KVIC have introduced n++n++Khadi Markn++n++ to ensure genuineness of Khadi to the customers.

Zonal Committees have been constituted for each of six geographical zones to monitor timely implementation of KVI programmes/schemes for the development of Khadi and Village Industries in the zone.

The Ministry of MSME has revised the negative list and brought in a large number of new industries/projects like spinning and weaving, solar charkhas hand loom/power looms under the ambit of Prime Ministern++n++s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP).

Government of India introduced the scheme of Market Development Assistance (MDA) on Production in place of rebate after experimenting with several pilot schemes. The scheme has been given effect from 1st April 2010, to help Khadi institutions to reorient their activities extending adequate emphasis towards increasing artisans earnings as well as ensuring quality of Khadi to customers. Under MDA scheme 25% of assistance is earmarked for payment among spinners and weavers as additional incentive through their bank/post office account.

An online application system has been made operational for disbursement of Market Development Assistance (MDA) and Interest Subsidy under ISEC scheme to KIs and artisans as ap

Indian Railways posts 8.7% revenue growth for March 2017
Apr 10,2017

The Indian Railway (IR) has posted healthy 8.7% growth in its revenues to Rs 15884.58 crore in March 2017 over March 2016. The IR revenues had declined 5.3% to Rs 14607.85 crore in March 2016. The passenger earnings increased 10.1% to Rs 4205.29 crore in March 2017, against 10.3% growth recorded in March 2016. The revenues from freight traffic, accounting for 64.7% of the total revenue, improved 4.1% to Rs 10273.20 crore in March 2017. The other coaching revenue declined 2.5% to Rs 382.01 crore, but the revenue from sundry activities zoomed 94.1% to Rs 1024.08 crore in March 2017.

In April-March FY2017, the revenue earnings of IR declined 0.5% to Rs 164119.32 crore, while snapping 4.6% growth recorded in April-March FY2016. Further, the IR revenues have been below the budget target of Rs 169268.07 crore for FY2017. The goods revenue dipped 4.6% to Rs 105562.17 crore, while the passenger revenue rose at moderated pace of 4.6% to Rs 47449.75 crore. The other coaching revenue declined 2.1% to Rs 4391.09 crore, while the sundry earnings surged 51.3% to Rs 6716.31 crore in April-March FY2017.

Passenger traffic

The passenger traffic of IR moved up 2.3% to 694.66 million in March 2017. Passenger traffic rose 0.8% to 8219.38 million in April-March FY2017. The passenger traffic is above the budget estimate of 8182 million for April-March FY2017.

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The Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri Venkaiah Naidu launches 352 housing projects in 53 cities
Apr 10,2017

The Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu launched 352 housing projects in 53 cities in 17 States across the country with an investment of over Rs.38,000 cr to build over two lakh (2)  houses.

These housing projects to be taken up by the members of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (CREDAI) across the country is the first major private investments initiative into affordable housing.  As per the details furnished by CREDAI, the cost of construction of these affordable houses will be in the range of Rs.15 lakh to Rs.30 lakh with average cost of construction coming to Rs.18 lakh per house.

The event was held in the backdrop of several initiatives by the Government of India to promote affordable housing for Economically Weaker Sections, Low and Middle Income Groups including sanction of infrastructure status for the housing sector.

           Shri Venkaiah Naidu complimented CREDAI and its members for coming forward to invest in affordable housing projects and assured them that his Ministry and Central Nodal Agencies like the National Housing Bank and HUDCO will extend full cooperation in reaching the benefits prescribed under PMAY (Urban) to the beneficiaries who join the projects launched today.

Details of affordable housing projects launched today for implementation are:

State/citiesNo of affordable houses to be builtInvestment (Cr)Maharashtra (Mumbai,Nagpur, Ahmednagar,Jalna, Banm,Nashik, Malegaon,Pune, Satara, Solapur)1,03,71915,576Gujarat (Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar,Rajkot, Mehsana, Bharuch, Bhavnagar,Navsari, Modasa,Palanpur, Swarnakantha,Vadodara, Vapi,Surat)    28,465  9,525National Capital Region of Delhi    41,921  6,211Karnataka (Bengaluru, Gulbarga, Hubli)      7,037  1,679Uttar Pradesh (Agra, Allahabad,Bareily, Jhansi, Kanpur and Varanasi)      6,055  1,108Rajasthan(Ajmer, Jaipur,Jodhpur)      4,406      389West Bengal (Kolkata)      2,955      663Goa       1,932      464Telangana (Hyderabad)      1,784      663Madhya Pradesh (Indore, Ujjain)      1,517       284Kerala (Trivendrum, Calicut, Kochi, Ernakulam)      1,372      186Assam (Guwahati)         860      145Tamil Nadu (Chennai, Coimattore, Tiruchirapalli)         834      145Odisha (Bhubaneswar)         520        53Chattisgarh (Raipur)         244        26Andhra Pradesh (Tirupati)           50        10

            Shri Naidu said while Mahatma ensured political freedom for our country, Sardar Patel ensured its unification, Shri Modi is now working on giving content and real meaning to these accomplishments through building a New India.

The Minister said such a New India has no meaning if we dont ensure houses for all and that too in a specific time frame. He said that the Prime Minister Shri Modi has set the year 2022 as the deadline for roofing all Indians.

Shri Naidu said that within a short span of just 21 months since the launch of PMAY(Urban) in June, 2015, his  Ministry has earlier approved construction of 17.73 lakh affordable houses for urban poor with an investment of Rs.95,660 cr in 30 States and Union Territories.. For building these houses, central assistance of Rs.27,879 cr has also been approved, he said.

These approved projects are to be executed with assistance from central and state governments and beneficiary contribution under the four components of PMAY (Urban). Under this urban housing mission, central assistance in the range of Rs.1.00 lakh to Rs.2.35 lakh will be provided to each beneficiary. PMAY (Urban) was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on June 25, 2015.

            The Government of India on December 31, 2017 extended the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme component of PMAY (Urban) to Middle Income Groups with annual incomes in the range of Rs.12 lakh to Rs.18 lakh under which interest subsidy of 4% and 3% on housing loans will be provided. With this, beneficiaries belonging to EWS, LIG and MIG with annual incomes up to Rs.18 lakh have been brought under the ambit of PMAY (Urban) opening up substantial investment opportunities for developers both at the bottom and middle of the pyramid.

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CII Business Confidence Index scores an all-time high in the January-March Quarter
Apr 10,2017

Amidst expectations that economic activity would gather pace in the current year, there is optimism among companies that green shoots of recovery, which have started becoming evident, would be sustained. This finds a reflection in the CII Business Confidence (BCI) which has gone up to an all-time high of 64.1 during the fourth quarter of 2016-17 as against 56.5 recorded in the previous quarter. There has been a sharp rise in the CII-BCI after it remained subdued in the last few quarters.

Commenting on the recent rebound in Business Confidence, Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII stated that the turnaround in business expectations, as indicated in the survey, gives credence to the belief that a new growth narrative is being scripted for the country based on improved business sentiment and investor confidence. A sharp uptick in business outlook, at the onset of 2017, underpins the hope that the reform initiatives of the government would unravel a host of investment opportunities for firms, going forward.

These findings are a part of CIIs 98th edition of quarterly Business Outlook Survey, which was based on around 200 responses from large, medium, small and micro firms, covering all regions of the country.

The significant rise in the index this quarter could be attributed to the distinct improvement in the Expectations Index even as there is a marginal uptick in the Current Situation Index, indicating that business sentiment is strong and firms are particularly upbeat about activity in their sectors in the future.

Business conditions are expected to improve as over 63% of the firms expect an increase in sales in January-March 2017, as compared to only 39% who experienced the same in October-December 2016.

On similar lines, 60 per cent of the respondents anticipate an increase in new orders during January-March 2017 as compared to 41.0 per cent who witnessed the same in the preceding quarter. Much of the recovery in business conditions is expected to be domestically driven as a large proportion of firms (61.8%) expect to maintain status quo on their export orders in January-March 2017.

In an indication that the turn of the investment cycle is now imminent, firms expect an improvement in capacity utilization in the fourth quarter of FY17. This is borne out from the fact that around 65 percent of respondents expect capacity utilization levels to be above 75% while only 36 percent of respondents experienced the same in the Oct-Dec 2016 quarter.

Despite the rise in capacity utilization, majority of firms expect no change in their domestic and international investment plans in January-March 2017. More than half of the firms expect to maintain status quo on their plans about investing in the domestic economy in the January-March 2017 quarter. Firms are keeping investment plans on hold despite the expectation of an improvement in sales and new orders in the January-March 2017 quarter owing to the existing excess capacity in the economy.

Firms, when asked to rank their concerns in the coming six months, have stated low domestic demand followed by fragile global economic recovery and rise in commodity prices as their key concerns.

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Indias fuel product consumption declines 0.6% in March 2017
Apr 10,2017

Indias fuel product consumption or sales declined 0.6% to 17.36 mt in March 2017 over March 2016. Fuel oil sales dipped 23.3% to 0.57 mt mainly contributing to the overall decline in fuel product sales, while kerosene sales also fell 26.8% to 0.41 mt and bitumen 12.2% to 0.69 mt. Consumption of lubes/greases dipped 16.3% to 0.34 mt, naphtha 1.8% to 1.15 mt, and light diesel oil (LDO) 29.8% to 0.03 mt.

However, the consumption of petcoke moved up 6.4% to 2.09 mt, other products 20.1% to 0.63 mt and ATF 10.4% to 0.64 mt. Further, the consumption of petrol improved 2.9% to 2.11 mt, LPG 1.9% to 1.89 mt and diesel 0.3% to 6.81 mt in March 2017.

Consumption or sales of fuel products increased 5.2% to 194.21 mt in April-March 2017, showing moderation in growth from 11.6% surge recorded in April-March FY2016. Sales of petcoke increased 22.2%, LPG 9.8%, petrol 8.8% and diesel 1.8% . Consumption of ATF also moved up 12.1%, fuel oil 8.4%, others 5.4% and LDO 10.1%. However, the consumption of kerosene declined 21.0%, lubes/greases 4.4%, bitumen 0.8% and naphtha 0.1% in April-March FY2017.

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