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Rabi crops sowing crosses 554 lakh hectares
Dec 23,2016

As per preliminary reports received from the States, the total area sown under Rabi crops as on 23 December 2016 stands at 554.91 lakh hectares as compared to 523.40 lakh hectare this time in 2015.

Wheat has been sown/transplanted in 278.62 lakh hectares as on 23 December, showing increase from 259.37 lakh hectares last year. The area under rice crop has shown decline to 9.33 lakh hectares from 13.27 lakh hectares last year.

The pulses crop area was higher at 138.25 lakh hectares compared with 125.73 lakh hectares same time last year.

The area under coarse cereals crop was lower at 50.63 lakh hectares compared with 54.91 lakh hectares last year, while area sown under oilseeds moved up to 78.08 lakh hectares from 70.12 lakh hectares last year.

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RBI All-India House Price Index (HPI) up 8.1% yoy in Q2FY17
Dec 23,2016

The Reserve Bank of India today released the quarterly House Price Index (HPI) for Q2FY17 for All-India and 10 major cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Kanpur and Kochi).

All-India HPI (base 2010-11=100) has sequentially increased by 2.0% to 235.8 in Q2FY17 from 231.1 in Q1FY17.

Annual increase in All-India HPI stood at 8.1% in Q2FY17 which remained lower than 13.0% growth recorded a year ago. However, it recorded a slightly higher growth compared to Q1FY17.

On an annual basis, Chennai witnessed maximum increase of 18.0% in Q2FY17; whereas Jaipur witnessed maximum contraction (-6.3%).

On a sequential basis (i.e., Q2FY17 over Q1FY17), Delhi recorded highest HPI increase of 4.5%; whereas Kanpur recorded the maximum contraction of -4.6%.

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Foundation stone laying ceremony for first Second Generation Ethanol Bio-refinery on 25 Dec 2016
Dec 23,2016

The Foundation Stone laying ceremony for setting up the first Second Generation (2G) Ethanol Bio-refinery in India is being held on 25 December 2016 at village Tarkhanwala, Bathinda (Punjab), with an approximate investment of Rs 600 crore. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL), a Central Government Public Sector Undertaking, is setting up the project.Minister of Food Processing Industries, Harsimarat Kaur Badal, Minister of State (I/C) Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan, and Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal shall jointly lay the Foundation Stone.The Government of India is encouraging production of Second Generation (2G) Ethanol from agricultural residues to provide additional sources of remuneration to farmers, address the growing environmental concerns and support the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme for achieving 10% Ethanol Blending in Petrol.The Bathinda Bio-refinery will be utilizing agriculture residues for production of 100 KL per day or 3.20 crore litres per annum of ethanol which may be sufficient to meet the 26% of the ethanol blending requirement of the State. The proposed Bio-refinery will generate employment for about 1200 -1300 persons in the Biomass supply chain and generate an additional income of approximately Rs 20 crore per annum for the farmers through purchase of their agriculture residues. The project shall also help in reducing CO2 emissions from the paddy straw which currently is being burnt after harvesting.One of the major outputs of this Bio-refinery shall be Bio-fertilizer approximating 30,000 tonnes per annum which shall be incorporated into the soil for improving soil fertility and overall productivity of farms in Punjab. The Bio-refinery shall also produce more than 1.00 lakh Kg of Bio-CNG per annum which can cater to transport and clean cooking requirements.Oil PSUs, in line with vision laid down by Government of India, are planning to set up twelve (12) 2G Ethanol Bio-refineries across 11 States viz. Punjab, Haryana, U.P., M.P, Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and A.P. The estimated investment for the 12 Bio-refineries is Rs 10,000 crore. These Bio-refineries shall produce around 35- 40 crore litres of Ethanol annually, thus contributing significantly towards the EBP programme.Recently, in Petrotech-2016 on 07.12.2016, Oil PSUs also entered into 6 MoUs with Technology licensors and State Governments for setting up Bio-refineries in Dahej (Gujarat), Panipat (Haryana), Bina (MP), Bargarh (Odisha) and Bathinda (Punjab).The Bio-refinery at Bathinda is the first step towards achieving 10% blending of Ethanol in petrol. Similar 2G Bio-refineries at other places are expected to be started soon.

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World crude steel production up 5% to 132.4 million tonnes in November 2016
Dec 23,2016

World crude steel production for the 66 countries reporting to the World Steel Association (worldsteel) was 132.4 million tonnes (mt) in November 2016, 5.0% up on November 2015.

Chinas crude steel production for November 2016 was 66.3 mt, an increase of 5.0% compared to November 2015. Elsewhere in Asia, Japan produced 8.6 mt of crude steel in November 2016, a decrease of -1.4% compared to November 2015.

In the EU, Germany produced 3.3 mt of crude steel in November 2016, a decrease of -4.2% compared to November 2015. Italy produced 2.1 mt of crude steel, up by 11.2% on November 2015. France produced 1.3 mt of crude steel in November 2016, up by 11.8% year-on-year.

Turkeys crude steel production for November 2016 was 2.9 mt, up by 10.4% on November 2015.

In November 2016, Russia produced 6.0 mt of crude steel, up by 5.0% on November 2015. Ukraine produced 2.0 mt of crude steel, up by 3.1% compared to the same month in 2015.

The United States produced 6.2 mt of crude steel in November 2016, an increase of 6.8% compared to November 2015.

Brazils crude steel production for November 2016 was 2.4 mt, down by 4.8% on November 2015.

The crude steel capacity utilisation ratio of the 66 countries in November 2016 was 69.6%. It was 67.1% in November 2015. The November 2016 capacity utilisation ratio is 0.1 percentage point lower than the October 2016 ratio.

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Income tax department identifies 67.54 lakh potential non-filers for FY 2014-15
Dec 23,2016

The Non-filers Monitoring System (NMS) was rolled out for identification of non-filers with potential tax liabilities. Data analytics carried out by the Systems Directorate of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) identifies non-filers about whom specific information is available in the AIR, CIB and TDS/TCS databases.

The Income Tax Department has conducted the fifth cycle of data matching which has identified an additional 67.54 lakh potential non-filers who have carried out high value transactions in the financial year 2014-15 but did not file return of income for the relevant assessment year (AY) 2015-16. The information relating to the identified non-filers has been made available in the Compliance Module on the e-filing portal of the Income Tax Department.

The information will be visible only to the specific PAN holder when they log into the e-filing portal at https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in. The PAN holder will be able to respond electronically and retain a copy of the submitted response for record purpose.

While the Government urges all tax payers to disclose their true income and pay taxes accordingly, the Department would continue to pursue the non-filers vigorously till all the high potential non-filers are covered.

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UNCTAD sees cause for concern in sluggish trade growth
Dec 23,2016

Unusual trends in international trade statistics, such as the falling value of world trade in goods and services even as the global economy grew in 2015, give cause for concern, said an UNCTAD report released on 22 December 2016. Last year, 2015, was the first time since 2001 that the value of trade has fallen during a period of economic expansion, according to the report - Key Indicators and Trends in International Trade 2016 - which noted that the volume of trade still grew about 1.5%.

In other words, while many exporters had to cope with lower prices, they saw no decline in export volumes, the report said. Although positive growth is consistent with the overall economic trends, there are still reasons to be concerned.

To start with, the growth of trade volume has been below the overall growth of the world economy, something that has seldom happened in the last few decades and only during economic downturns as in 2001 and 2009, the report said.

Second, trade volumes have been rather unstable, showing substantial volatility during 2015 across quarters and across countries. Trade volumes have increased for the world as a whole, but for many countries trade volumes have in fact decreased.

Finally, it is arguable whether the physical growth in international trade can continue in a deflationary economic environment, the report said. The concern is that many exporters may not be able to maintain their position in the markets for long when facing reduced financial returns.

The sharp decline in international trade results from several factors, both nominal and structural.

Falling commodity prices and the appreciating US Dollar contributed most to the nominal fall in world trade, with oil prices going from an average of more than $100 per barrel in 2014 to about $50 per barrel in 2015. The trade weighted US dollar index appreciated by almost 15% between 2014 and 2015.

But deflationary factors can explain only some of the trade collapse in 2015. In fact, falling commodity prices explain only half of the 2015 decline in world trade.

The sluggish growth of 2012-2014 and the magnitude of the decline in trade of goods and services in 2015 suggest a change in the dynamics behind the international integration process, the report said.

Indeed, the most commonly used index to gauge globalization trends - the ratio of the value of world trade over global GDP - indicate a decline in economic interdependence, it added.

Part of the reason for this is that global value chains are shortening. Many countries, including those in East Asia, are reshoring and consolidating manufacturing production processes.

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Better access to G20 markets could boost exports from poorest countries by 15%: UNCTAD
Dec 23,2016

The worlds poorest countries are barely engaging in the global economy, but fully liberalising trade for these countries into G20 markets could boost their exports by about 15%, according to an UNCTAD report released on 22 December 2016. While least developed countries (LDCs) account for about 12% of the worlds population, their share in global exports stands at about 1%, the report - Key Indicators and Trends in Trade Policy 2016 - says.

Boosting exports from LDCs could help accelerate economic growth, generate jobs, and provide financial resources for sustainable and inclusive development. Recognising the importance of trade for LDCs, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) include Target 17.11 to Increase significantly the exports of developing countries, in particular with a view to doubling the least developing countries share of global exports by 2020.

Weve seen some progress in the last decade, but the participation of least developing countries in the global economy remains marginal, says Guillermo Valles, Director of UNCTADs Division on International Trade in goods and services and Commodities.

To double the LDC share of global exports - and achieve the SDG target - the trick will be not just to fix the issue of tariffs but to do the non-tariff measures too, he said.

The report finds that LDCs generally trade much less than the size of their economies would suggest. The export-to-GDP ratios of the 48 LDCs are on average about 25%, substantially less than the average for other developing countries of about 35%.

This indicator has been on a clear downward trend since 2011 and it shows the LDC struggle to integrate into the global economy, Valles said.

Generally speaking, G20 countries support LDCs through a range of mechanisms to facilitate trade, such as duty-free and quota-free access. But removing all tariffs could boost LDC exports to G20 countries by about $10 billion per year.

Similarly, reducing the distortionary effects of non-tariff measures (NTMs) could boost LDC exports by about $23 billion per year. But this requires a more complex approach. NTMs such as quality standards serve public policy objectives and cannot be removed without disrupting these objectives.

Therefore, the report says, reducing the distortionary effects of NTMs comes not from removing them, but from helping LDCs to comply.

Taken together, fully liberalising market access for LDCs and eliminating the negative trade effect of NTMs on LDCs would increase their exports by about 15%, the report says.

The textile and apparel sectors - as well as some agricultural categories - would benefit most, it says.

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Indias natural gas production declines 1.7% in November 2016
Dec 22,2016

Indias natural gas production declined -1.7% to 2.67 billion cubic meters (bcm) in November 2016 over a year ago. Natural gas output of ONGC rose 5.1% to 1.87 bcm, but that of private and JV companies dipped -18.4% to 0.56 bcm. Meanwhile, the natural gas production of Oil India also fell -4.2% to 0.24 bcm in November 2016.

Natural gas output declined -3.7% to 21.15 bcm in April-November 2016 over April-November 2015.

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Indias crude oil refinery output falls 0.6% in November 2016
Dec 22,2016

Indias crude oil refinery output declined 0.6% to 19.36 million tonnes (mt) in November 2016 over November 2015. The output of public sector refineries improved 8.2% to 10.96 mt, but the output of private refineries dipped 6.8% to 7.50 mt. Further, the refinery output of public-private JV refiners plunged 30.5% to 0.90 mt in November 2016.

Among public refineries, the output of Indian Oil Corporation increased 7.4% to 5.00 mt, while the output of Bharat Petroleum Corporation moved up 11.2% to 2.16 mt and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation 1.5% to 1.45 mt in November 2016 over November 2015. The output of Chennai Petroleum Corporation also inched up 17.0% to 0.79 mt, while that of Numaligarh Refineries moved up 22.4% to 0.27 mt, and Mangalore Refineries 7.2% to 1.30 mt in November 2016.

Among private refiners, the output of Reliance Petroleum fell 8.0% to 5.82 mt, while that of Essar Oil declined 2.7% to 1.68 mt in November 2016 over November 2015. Among JV refineries, the output of Bharat Oman dipped 70.7% to 0.13 mt, while the output of HPCL Mittal also fell 9.4% to 0.77 mt in November 2015.

The cumulative refinery output increased 6.9% to 157.86 mt in April-November 2016. The output of public refineries increased 10.9% to 85.06 mt, while that of private refineries moved up 3.7% to 62.42 mt. The refinery output of JV refineries declined 3.2% to 10.37 mt in April-November 2016. Among public refineries, the output of Indian Oil Corporation improved 13.0%, Bharat Petroleum Corporation 7.9%, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation 5.0%, Chennai Petroleum Corporation 19.0%, Numaligarh Refineries 5.9% and Mangalore Refineries 9.4%.

The overall capacity utilization was lower at 105.3% in November 2016 compared with 110.8% in November 2015, while it was higher at 105.6% in April-November 2016 compared with 104.9% in April-November 2015.

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Indias crude oil production declines 5.4% in November 2016
Dec 22,2016

Indias crude oil production declined 5.4% to 2.88 million tonnes (mt) in November 2016 over November 2015, recording fall for ninth straight month. Crude oil output of ONGC fell 0.7% to 1.82 mt, while that of private and joint venture (JV) companies dipped 16.5% to 0.78 mt. However, the crude oil production of Oil India improved 1.7% to 0.27 mt in November 2016. ONGCs offshore output declined 1.9% to 1.33 mt, while onshore production rose 2.4% to 0.49 mt.

Crude oil output fell 3.5% to 23.99 mt in April-November period of the fiscal year ending March 2017 (April-November 2016), in addition to 0.4% fall recorded in the corresponding period of last year. Output of ONGC eased 1.7% to 14.72 mt, while that of Oil India declined 1.4% to 2.15 mt and private companies dipped 7.6% to 7.12 mt in April-November 2016 over April-November 2015.

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Cabinet approves doubling of Rajpura-Bhatinda railway line
Dec 21,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for doubling of Rajpura-Bhatinda railway line at an estimated cost of Rs 1251.25 crore and expected completion cost of Rs 1465.59 crore.

The 172.64 km long railway line is expected to be completed in five years.

The present utilization of this section is nearly 100%. Enhancement of capacity of power plants and planned freight terminals will generate additional freight traffic on this route. The doubling will ease the traffic bottlenecks and will bring more revenue to Indian Railways by capacity enhancement of the route. The districts of Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala and Bathinda would also be benefitted through this project.

The Rajpura-Bathinda section falls in Ambala Division of Northern Railway. At present traffic utilization of the section is nearing saturation. This line is strategically important as several military specials are routed on this line connecting the Western border. The main objective for doubling between Rajpura-Bathinda is to remove capacity constraint and to cater for future growth of traffic on the important route of Indian Railways.

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Cabinet approves creation of Indian Enterprise Development Service (IEDS)
Dec 21,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval to the Cadre review and formation of a new service in the name of n++ndian Enterprise Development Service (IEDS) in the Office of Development Commissioner (MSME), Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME). The creation of the new cadre and change in structure will not only strengthen the organization but will also help to achieve the vision of Startup India, Stand-up India and Make in India.

The measure will enhance the capacity and efficiency of the organization and also help in achieving growth in MSME sector through a focussed and dedicated cadre of technical officers.

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Cabinet approves sale of part of surplus and vacant land of Hindustan Anti-biotics
Dec 21,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the sale of part of surplus and vacant land at Pimpri in Pune, Maharashtra for meeting the liabilities of Hindustan Anti-biotics (HAL).

The proposal entails:

(i) Sale of surplus and vacant land of about 87.70 acres of HAL (actual area of land to be sold would depend upon the rates received in bids, as per guidelines of BIFR) to meet the net liabilities of Rs 821.17 crore after waiver and deferment, through an open competitive bid from Central /State Government Departments, Govt. Agencies, Central/State PSUs, Autonomous Bodies, Urban Development Authorities etc.

(ii) Waivers of Govt. of India loans and interest amounting to Rs 307.23 crore (principal amount of Rs 186.96 crore and interest approximately Rs 120.27 crore thereon calculated as on 30.9.2017) and deferment of various dues amounting to Rs 128.68 crore.

(iii) Sanction of an immediate loan of Rs 100 crore to meet the wages, salaries and other critical expenses of immediate nature. The loan will be repaid to the Government from sale proceeds of the HAL land.

The approval will help the Government in optimum utilization of the Companys assets and to take further decisions in respect of the Company for:

(i) Rehabilitation; (ii) Strategic Sale; or (iii) Closure

On implementation of the scheme/proposal, HAL will be lean with no liabilities and clean balance-sheet, so that the implementation of recommendations of the Ministers Committee is facilitated.

Sale of HAL land at Pimpri in Pune, Maharashtra will facilitate mitigation of sufferings and critical condition of the employees and if the liabilities are met and the balance sheet is cleaned, the implementation of recommendations of the Ministers Committee will be facilitated.

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Indias services export declines 1.7% in October 2016
Dec 16,2016

As per the data released by the Reserve Bank of India, Indias services exports declined 1.7% to US$ 13.11 billion in October 2016 over October 2015. Meanwhile, Indias services imports moved up 9.5% to US$ 7.68 billion in October 2016. Indias services trade surplus narrowed 14.2% to US$ 5.43 billion in October 2016 from US$ 6.33 billion in October 2015.

Indias services trade surplus fell 6.4% to US$ 37.79 billion in April-October 2016 over a year ago, with 7.9% rise in services imports to US$ 54.94 billion. Indias services exports rose mere 1.6% to US$ 92.73 billion in April-October 2016.

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Indias trade deficit widens to 16-months high in November 2016
Dec 16,2016

Indias merchandise exports increased 2.3% to US$ 20.01 billion in November 2016 over a year ago. Meanwhile, merchandise imports surged 10.4% to US$ 33.02 billion. The trade deficit jumped 25.9% to 16-months high of US$ 13.01 billion in November 2016 from US$ 10.34 billion in November 2015.

Oil imports rose 5.9% to US$ 6.84 billion, while the non-oil imports gained 11.7% to US$ 26.18 billion in November 2016 over November 2015. The share of oil imports in total imports was 20.7% in November 2016, compared with 21.6% in November 2015. Indias basket of crude oil increased 4.6% to US$ 44.46 per barrel in November 2016 over November 2015.

Among the non-oil imports, the major contributors to the overall rise in imports were gold imports rising 23.2% to US$ 4.36 billion, pearls, precious & semi-precious stones 60.9% to US$ 1.57 billion, crude petroleum & products 5.9% to US$ 6.84 billion, coal 32.5% to US$ 1.28 billion, pulses 53.6% to US$ 0.61 billion, electronic goods 5.4% to US$ 3.54 billion, electrical & non-electrical machinery 8.3% to US$ 2.23 billion and chemical material & products 23.6% to US$ 0.46 billion. The imports also improved for vegetable oil by 9.6% to US$ 0.91 billion, metaliferrous ores & minerals 10.9% to US$ 0.54 billion, project goods 30.8% to US$ 0.21 billion, wood & products 12.4% to US$ 0.44 billion and artificial resins 4.9% to US$ 0.98 billion.

On the other hand, the imports have declined for transport equipment 37.9% to US$ 1.19 billion, iron & steel 16.2% to US$ 0.93 billion, silver 36.3% to US$ 0.18 billion, medicinal & pharmaceutical products 8.4% to US$ 0.39 billion, organic & inorganic chemicals 2.5% to US$ 1.21 billion, fruits & vegetables 9.8% to US$ 0.16 billion, pulp and waste paper 16.4% to US$ 0.06 billion and textile yarn fabric, made-up articles 9.3% to US$ 0.12 billion in November 2016.

On exports front, the engineering goods recorded an increase in exports by 11.6% to US$ 4.96 billion, followed by iron ore 1012.8% to US$ 0.19 billion, marine products 27.9% to US$ 0.57 billion, petroleum products 3.4% to US$ 2.41 billion, fruits & vegetables 43.6% to US$ 0.25 billion, drugs & pharmaceuticals 5.8% to US$ 1.27 billion, organic & inorganic chemicals 5.9% to US$ 1.07 billion, and leather & leather products 6.4% to US$ 0.42 billion.

However, the exports declined for, gems & jewellery 12.8% to US$ 2.53 billion, rice 18.2% to US$ 0.35 billion, man-made yarn/fabrics/made-ups 11.0% to US$ 0.30 billion, RMG of all textiles 2.9% to US$ 1.15 billion, coal & other ores, minerals 8.1% to US$ 0.24 billion, plastic & linoleum 2.2% to US$ 0.43 billion, tea 6.9% to US$ 0.06 billion, in November 2016.

Merchandise exports in rupees increased 4.6% to Rs 135316 crore, while imports moved up 13.0% to Rs 223290 crore in November 2016 over November 2015. The trade deficit widened to Rs 87973 crore in November 2016 compared with Rs 68335 crore in November 2015.

Indias merchandise exports rose 0.3% to US$ 174.92 billion, while merchandise imports fell 8.1% to US$ 241.10 billion in April-November 2016. The decline in imports was driven by a 13.4% plunge in oil imports to US$ 53.28 billion. Indias merchandise trade deficit declined to US$ 66.18 billion in April-November 2016 from US$ 87.91 billion in April-November 2015.

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