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Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Device Shipments to Decline for Second Year in a Row
Oct 07,2016

Gartner, Inc. said worldwide combined shipments for devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) are expected to decline 3 percent in 2016 (See Table 1). This will mark the second consecutive year of decline. The global devices market fell by 0.75 percent in 2015.

The global devices market is not on pace to return to single-digit growth soon, said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. Growth is on pace to remain flat during the next five years. All segments are expected to decline in 2016, except for premium ultramobiles and utility mobile phones (entry level phones), which are expected to show single-digit growth this year.

We expect premium ultramobiles will start benefiting from the collective performance and integration of the latest Intel CPU platform and Windows 10, added Mr. Atwal.

Table 1. Worldwide Devices Shipments by Device Type, 2015-2018 (Millions of Units)

Device Type2015201620172018Traditional PCs (Desk-Based and Notebook)244216205199Ultramobiles (Premium)44496175PC Market288265266274Ultramobiles (Basic and Utility)196177173173Computing Devices Market484442439447Mobile Phones1,9171,8871,9101,933Total Devices Market2,4012,3292,3492,380

Note: The Ultramobile (Premium) category includes devices such as Microsofts Windows 10 Intel x86 products and Apples MacBook Air.

The Ultramobile (Basic and Utility Tablets) category includes devices such as, iPad, iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, Amazon Fire HD, Lenovo Yoga Tab 3, Acer Iconia One

Source: Gartner (October 2016)

PC Market to Bottom Out in 2016 and PC Prices in the UK to Increase Less Than 10 Percent in 2017

The PC market is expected to exhibit an 8 per cent decline in 2016, as the installed base bottoms out and replacement cycle extensions halt. The effect of currency depreciation on the market is diminishing, added Mr. Atwal. The second quarter of 2016 was the first since the second quarter of 2015 least impacted by currency depreciation. Regions such as Western Europe, where the Euro depreciated significantly in 2015 and PC prices increased, finally showed flat market growth (-0.9 percent) in the second quarter of 2016. This follows four consecutive quarters of decline.

If this situation prevails it means that PC sales will bottom out in 2016. However, the PC market in Western Europe remains difficult following the Brexit vote. Device vendors are mitigating the currency depreciation of the pound in two ways n++ first, they are taking advantage of the likelihood of a single-digit decline in PC component costs in 2016, said Mr. Atwal. Second, they will de-feature their PCs to keep prices down. With these changes, Gartner expects PC prices in the UK to increase by less than 10 percent in 2017.

For the PC market to stay on pace for flat growth in 2017, business spending needs to flourish. The inventory of Windows 8 PCs should have been cleared, and large businesses in mature markets are now looking to move to Windows 10 through 2018, added Mr. Atwal. In addition, more affordable hardware and increasingly available virtual reality content (such as games, stories and other entertainment) will enable consumer PC buyers to upgrade in order to experience immersive offerings.

Smartphone Growth to Continue Slowing Down in 2016

Total mobile phone shipments are on pace to decline 1.6 percent in 2016. The smartphone segment continues to grow, albeit more slowly than in previous years, and is expected to reach 1.5 billion units in 2016. This is no surprise; the smartphone market is maturing, and reaching global saturation with phones that are increasingly capable and remain good enough for longer, said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

In 2016, the Android market will continue to be bolstered by Chinese vendors offering more affordable premium devices. Despite the availability of the iPhone 7, Gartner expects a weaker year-over-year volume performance from Apple in 2016, as volumes stabilize after a very strong 2015. As a result, Gartner expects total smartphone market to only increase 4.5 percent with premium smartphones declining 1.1 percent in 2016.

We expect the market for premium smartphones to return to 3.5 per cent growth in 2017, as stronger replacement cycles kick in and in anticipation of a new iPhone next year, which is expected to offer a new design and new features that are attractive enough to convince more replacement buyers, said Ms. Cozza.

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Domestic Natural Gas Price Cut to Hurt Producers Realisation
Oct 07,2016

The 18% gas price reduction by the Government of India to lower revenues for domestic gas producers by around INR20bn during 2HFY17, estimates India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Domestic natural gas price is cut by around 18%, to USD2.50/mmbtu for the period of 01 October 2016-31 March 2017 from the previous price of USD3.06/mmbtu. The price cut by the government is in line with the fall in Henry Hub gas prices over the reference period (July 2015 to June 2016). Prior to this reduction the government had reduced domestic gas prices by 20% in April 2016.

This is the fourth consecutive domestic gas price reduction since the implementation of the domestic gas pricing formula in October 2014. The present gas prices are about 50% lower since the implementation of the gas pricing formula. The average Henry Hub gas prices declined by 15% to USD2.24/mmbtu for the current reference period of July 2015- June 2016 period compared to USD2.62/mmbtu for previous reference period of January 2015-December 2015.

The public sector units, namely Oil India (OIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) which contribute around 75% of the total domestic gas production will be impacted the most. Despite the decline in sale price, lower costs in terms of rig and vessel rentals will provide some relief to margins in this segment. However, the expected fall in margins is likely to result in a lower investment surplus for future exploration. In the mid-stream segment, Gails (India) (IND AAA/Stable) marketing segment can witness around INR9bn-INR10bn lower trading revenue from the sale of domestic gas during 2HFY17 on account of lower per unit realisation. Given that the current price of domestic gas will be close to the marginal cost of production for most players, a further fall in natural gas prices can lead to losses for these players. Ind-Ra notes there is a possibility for a formula revision or setting up of a floor price by the government to protect the domestic producers.

On the positive side, the end-consumers of compressed natural gas (CNG) and piped natural gas (PNG domestic) can benefit from the downward price revision, provided the benefit of lower domestic gas prices are passed on to the consumers. The revised price will translate into City Gas Distribution (CGD) entities lower costs of around INR1.4-INR1.5 per Standard Cubic Metre (SCM) on gas procurement. The PNG prices have been reduced by INR1/scm and CNG by INR1.4/kg in Delhi, post this gas price revision.

During April 2016-September 2016, the price of alternate fuel - diesel - increased by 8%, thus increasing the fuel competitiveness of CNG. Considering that the pricing power lies with the CGD entities, the quantum of benefit passed on to the consumers can vary across CGD entities, depending on their capex plans and investments surplus targeted by them. Analysing the historical price trends, Ind-Ra expects CGD entities to pass on between 40%-70% of the benefit to the end consumers, which is a price cut of around INR0.5/scm-INR1.0/scm in PNG prices and around INR0.7/kg-INR1.4/kg in CNG prices across CGDs.

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Export of Oilmeals down by 44% during April - September 2016
Oct 07,2016

The Solvent Extractors Association of India has compiled the export data for export of oilmeals for the month of September 2016. The export of oilmeals during September 2016 is reported at 90,907 tons compared to 139,649 tons i.e. down by 35%. The overall export of oilmeals during April- September 2016 is reported at 421,741 tons compared to 749,397 tons during the same period of last year i.e. down by 44% due to lesser availability of oilseeds for crushing and continuous disparity in exporting oilmeals in International Market.

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Stringent law on misleading celeb endorsements: Ram Vilas Paswan
Oct 07,2016

For stricter law on celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements, a proposal to ban is being considered by consumer affairs Ministry, said Ram Vilas Paswan minister for Consumer Affairs at an ASSOCHAM event.

The government will soon bring in stringent laws to curb misleading advertisements and adulteration to guard the consumers interest. New Consumer Protection bill will be passed in coming session of the parliament which will strengthen the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and to check spurious products said Paswan at an ASSOCHAM National Summit & Awards on FMCG.

Paswan also expressed worry over cheap Chinese goods flooding the market and said measures would be taken to check their rampant flow in the country.

He further mentioned that BIS has taken various initiatives under Make in India for standard formulation which includes items which is substandard would be banned.

Chairing the ASSOCHAM meeting, the minister said BIS new Act is being amended comprehensively for the first ever after it being enacted in the year 1986. These amendments will empower the government to bring more products under mandatory certification and these products should have the ISI mark on it.

While addressing the meeting, Paswan said, n++Abroad, I have noticed even Indians do not wish to buy Made in India products. There is an opinion set in the minds that developing countries do not manufacture good quality products. To change this attitude, our industry should comply with quality standards, said Paswan.

Paswan further said that due to poor standards followed while making products; India is lagging behind in the international market despite availability of talented people and cheap labour.

He said, the new consumer protection bill will be passed in coming session of the parliament. He further said that the standing committee has already examined the provisions relating to punishment for endorsing misleading advertisements and those involved in adulteration.

n++Abroad and in the western world, people cannot imagine that there can be food adulteration. Here in India, we cannot imagine food without adulteration, Paswan said.

Industry should come forward and actively promote consumer awareness about food safety, Paswan said.

On the issue of safe drinking water, He said, nobody can drink tap water in Delhi. Delhis water is not safe for drinking, though there are quality standards in place.

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250 markets Connected to e-NAM Platform : Shri Radha Mohan Singh
Oct 07,2016

Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Radha Mohan Singh announced successful completion of e-NAM first phase and launched e-NAM Mobile App.

Radha Mohan Singh announced that most of the implementation issues faced in pilot phase have been addressed and e-NAM platform is connected to 250 markets across 10 States as of now (Andhra Pradesh (12), Chhattisgarh (05), Gujarat (40), Haryana (36), Himachal Pradesh (07), Jharkhand (08), Madhya Pradesh (20), Rajasthan (11), Telangana (44), Uttar Pradesh (67). Union Minister informed that so far, Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for integrating 399 mandis with e-NAM has been received from 14 states and all of them have been approved.

Singh said that the active involvement of all stakeholders, and in particular mandi and marketing board officials; the NAM programme is a success and is going ahead of schedule. Minister is sure that e-NAM will significantly contribute towards enhancing the farmern++n++s income. Agriculture Minister informed that so far, 1,53,992.7 MT of agriculture produce worth Rs. 421 crore has been transacted on e-NAM platform and 1,60,229 Farmers, 46,688 Traders and 25,970 Commission Agents have been registered on the e-NAM platform.

Union Minister said that quality parameters for 69 agricultural and horticultural commodities including cereals, Pulses, Oil seeds, Spices, Fruits and Vegetables have been notified for trading on e-NAM platorm. States have been asked to set up the quality assaying facilities to ensure quality assessment of the farmern++n++s produce in a scientific and professional manner.

Singh said that provision of online payment of the sale proceeds to the farmers is made available in the e-NAM portal and States are requested to encourage direct transfer of sales proceeds to the farmern++n++s bank account. A total number of 585 markets are targeted to be integrated in first phase with e-NAM by March 2018, out of which 400 markets will be integrated by March 2017.

Agriculture Minister said that the issues in hardware and software during implementation of the project have been resolved and a new version of software has been released whereby trading is going on in a stable manner. He informed that the newer versions of software will be released in future as per actual requirements.

Radha Mohan Singh informed that the status of APMC Act reforms regarding e-NAM, carried out by various States/UTs is as under:

n++n++ 17 States and 1 UT have fully / partially modified their APMC Acts. Their names are : Andhra Pradesh, Gurajat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Punjab, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Haryana and Chandigarh (UT).

n++n++ 03 States and 1 UT have APMC Act and they have consented to bring changes in the act which is under process. Their names are: Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Assam and Puducherry.

n++n++ 06 States have APMC Act but no change has been made as yet. Their names are: Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir and Delhi. Out of them, West Bengal has demanded the e-NAM software for online trading.

n++n++ 01 state Sikkim does have APMC Act but is not implemented.

n++n++ 03 States and 04 UTs do not have any APMC Act. Their names are: Bihar, Kerala, Manipur, Andman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshwadeep Islands, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu. These states have been requested to frame Act/Regulations to enable trading through e-NAM. A meeting with Bihar and Kerala has been scheduled on 14/10/2016 in this regard.

Singh appealed to those states whose APMC Act require complete or partial changes, to join the scheme by reforming their Acts on priority. Union Minister also appealed to those states where APMC Act does not exist, to join the e-NAM scheme by framing necessary act/regulation so that farmers could benefit by way of enhanced income.

Agriculture Minister said that e-NAM will bring forth more profit to farmers, availability of trade at lesser cost to the buyers and development of permanent mandis. It will enable the farmers to have access to the National Market having wide choice.

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Varanasi to get Heritage Walk around Kabir Chaura; 86 sites to be developed under HRIDAY
Oct 07,2016

Ministry of Urban Development has approved projects worth Rs.114 cr under Heritage Infrastructure Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) for improving infrastructure facilities around core heritage sites in five cities of Varnasi, Amritsar, Dwaraka, Puri and Warangal.

Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu has directed the officials of the Ministry and concerned State Governments to ensure implementation of approved projects by March next year.An inter-ministerial HRIDAY National Empowered Committee chaired by Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary(UD) yesterday cleared Detailed Project Reports of these five cities.

An investment of Rs.13.25 cr has been approved for Varanasi for Developing a Heritage Walk around Kabir Chaura and Piplani Katra at a cost of Rs.2.50 cr and developing required infrastructure at 86 historical sites scattered across the city. Kabir Chaura is known as the home of renowned musicians like Kishan Maharaj, Gop Krishan, Samta Prasad and Rajan and Sajan Mishra brothers. Access roads and gallis leading to 86 heritage sites in the city will be improved at a cost of Rs.10.75 cr. Fan++ade improvement, provision of on route amenities and signages, site development etc., will be undertaken. These heritage sites include temples, residences of famous personalities, kunds, parks and palaces.

For Amritsar, nine heritage infrastructure related projects have been approved for implementation with a total investment of Rs.57 cr. These include comprehensive road development and upgradation of 21 major roads leading to the Golden Temple to address congestion at a cost of Rs.21 cr, improving Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama with Rs.50 lakhs, revitalization of historical 40 Khoo (Wells) by providing necessary infrastructure at a cost of Rs.5.00 cr, improving connectivity, street and landscape at Gol Bagh with Rs.5.00 cr, providing a mobility corridor along outer and inner circular roads at a cost of Rs.5.00 cr, providing interpretative signages with censors with Rs.5.35 cr, refitting and upgradation of colonial era building i.e Deputy Commissioners Office that was damaged in a fire at a cost of Rs.2.00 cr, development of an Environmental Park at UBDC canal with Rs.1.00 cr and development of public plaza along southern edge of Rambagh Garden with Rs.1.00 cr.

In Puri, five projects with an investment of about Rs.17.00 cr will be undertaken for revitalization of different heritage zones. These include, landscape development of Shri Jagannath Ballabh Temple at a cost of about Rs.9.00 cr, retrofitting of building facades along Parikrama Marg of the temple with Rs.3.00 cr, improvements at Bada Odiya Matha and Ganga Mata Matha at a cost of Rs.2.00 cr, landscape development along the River Front of Athanarla with Rs.2.00 cr and revival of seven Jagagharas and Ponds at a cost of over Rs.1.00 cr. there are 60 Jagagharas and Akharas in Puri which are over 400 year old and were centres of learning music and martial arts.

The Fort of Warangal in Telangana State will be revived and developed with necessary interventions with Rs.15.30 cr under HRIDAY. Access routes, pathways and entry points will be developed at a cost of Rs.4.17 cr, revival of water bodies and setting up of a sewage treatment plant would be undertaken at a cost of Rs.10.00 cr, public amenities at North Gate and Srungarapu Bavi (well) with Rs.2.15 cr, landscaping along access routes with Rs 0.80 cr and illumination of North Gate, access routes and other areas at a cost of Rs.0.60 cr.

In Dwaraka, Gujarat, Dwarakadhish Temple Square will be developed at a cost of Rs.2.75 cr by providing pedestrian pathway, surface improvement of roads, adding green elements, street furniture, lighting, signages, dustbins, space for vendors etc. The main Processional Street (Darshan Path) will be improve with Rs.7.25 cr by providing parking spaces, pedestrian pathway, public amenities block, repairing o0f Iskcon gate, lighting and signages etc.

HRIDAY is a Central Scheme for which Central Assistance of Rs.500 cr has been provisioned till March,2017. Twelve cities have been included in this mission. Other cities being Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Badami (Karnataka), Kanchipuram and Vellankini (Tamil Naidu), Ajmer (Rajasthan), Mathura (UP) and Gaya (Bihar).

City Hriday Plans of all the 12 Mission cities have been approved and Detailed Project Reports based on these plans costing over Rs.350 cr have so far been sanctioned for implementation. Remaining will soon be cleared.

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India aggressively pursuing trade prospects with LAC
Oct 07,2016

Indias engagement with LAC (Latin American Countries) has gained further momentum with recent developments that have taken place. India signed an agreement on the expansion of India-Chile PTA in New Delhi on 6th September, 2016. The expanded PTA will have far greater trade coverage in comparison to the agreement signed earlier in March, 2006 as both sides have offered tariff concessions on a number of lines.

In recent years, Trade between India and Peru has been growing. Indias trade with Peru stood at US$ 1,523.35 million during 2015-16. Among the top ten commodities of Indias export to Peru are Motor Vehicle/Cars, Products of Iron and Steel, Cotton Yarn/ Manmade yarn/Fabrics. Drugs Formulations, Iron and Steel, Two and three wheelers, Auto Tyres and Tubes, Bulk Drugs and RMG Cotton including Accessories. The top ten commodities of Indias import from Peru are Bulk Minerals and Ores (under this copper ore is the top most import commodity), Gold (wrought gold), Fertilizers Crude (under this natural calcium phosphate is the topmost import commodity), Zinc and products made of Zinc, Fresh Fruits, Inorganic chemicals, Cocoa Products Finished Leather and Aluminum & Aluminum products.

In order to explore the possibility of a trade agreement with Peru, India has concluded a Joint Study Group report on the feasibility of such a trade agreement during the recent visit of a delegation to Lima, Peru on 26-28 September, 2016. Both sides have agreed to a time frame to carry forward the discussions for negotiating a trade agreement. With the finalization of the report, India will now seek internal approvals of the Government of India for going ahead with the negotiations on a trade agreement which would include trade in goods, trade in services and investment. There is keen interest on the part of Peru also for negotiating a trade agreement at the earliest.

India is also aggressively engaged in the expansion of its Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with MERCOSUR (a Six Country trade bloc with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay as its original members). During the third meeting of the Joint Administrative Committee (JAC) on the expansion of the India-MERCOSUR PTA held on 29th September, 2016 in Brasilia, Brazil, there was expansive discussions on the wish lists which had been exchanged by both sides in July, 2016. Both sides are expected to hold the next round of negotiations early next year. The existing India MERCOSUR agreement was signed in New Delhi on January 25, 2004 which came into effect from 1st June, 2009. This agreement has a limited coverage and contains only 450 tariff lines. Both sides have now agreed to expand to cover up to 2500 tariff lines.

Indias bilateral trade with MERCOSUR was US$ 10081.42 million in 2015-16 as compared to US$ 14,240.46 million in 2014-15 which constitute 37.01% and 39.96% of LAC trade during 2014-15 & 2015-16 respectively. With the expansion of the existing PTA, the bilateral trade is expected to be doubled.

India has held bilateral discussions with Brazil under the institutional mechanism i.e India-Brazil Trade Monitoring mechanism, the 4th meeting of which was held in Brasilia on 30th September, 2016 after a hiatus of more than four years. Both sides have discussed an array of bilateral issues which impede trade between both the countries. During the meeting India highlighted its concerns on issues relating to market access in agriculture, textiles, pharma and services including high tax on import of services to Brazil. Brazil has responded favorably and has assured to address these issues. Collaboration in areas such as auto, food processing, leather and civil aviation were also discussed. Both sides have agreed for discussions on an agreement on social security.

Both sides discussed setting up of the India-Brazil Business Leaders Forum for facilitating interaction and cooperation amongst the private sector.

Brazil is currently the leading trading partner of India in Latin America region. Total Bilateral trade with Brazil stood at US$ 6,690.33 million during 2015-16 and both sides agreed endeavor is to meet a trade target of US$ 15 billion by 2020.

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Global air passenger growth slowed in August 2016: IATA
Oct 06,2016

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic data for August showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) climbed 4.6% compared to the year-ago period. This represented a slowing from the 6.4% increase recorded in July (revised). August capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 5.8%, and load factor slipped 0.9 percentage points to 83.8%.

Growth in passenger demand dipped to 4.6%. While thats disappointing compared to the previous months performance, it is still healthy growth. And although terrorist attacks in Europe have dampened demand, the impact is ebbing, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATAs Director General and CEO.

International Passenger Markets

August international passenger demand rose 4.7% compared to August 2015. All regions recorded increases, but growth was dominated by airlines in the Middle East. Capacity climbed 6.5%, causing load factor to slide 1.4 percentage points to 83.9%.

Asia-Pacific airlines August traffic climbed 5.6% compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose 6.8% and load factor slipped down 0.9 percentage points to 81.9%. There are signs of Asian travelers continuing to be put-off by recent terrorism in Europe. Traffic on Europe-Asia routes grew just 1.5% in July, the most recent month for which route-specific figures are available, while international traffic growth on routes within Asia accelerated to 9.9%.

European carriers saw August demand climb 3.3% year-on-year. European traffic continues to be affected by the impact of terrorism, however, there are indications this may be easing. Capacity rose 5.1%, which caused load factor to drop 1.6 percentage points to 86.6%--which still was the highest among regions.

Middle Eastern carriers posted a 10.3% traffic increase in August, while capacity climbed 13.7%, resulting in a 2.5 percentage point fall in load factor to 81.2%.

North American airlines international demand rose 1.8% compared to August a year ago. However, seasonally-adjusted traffic has risen at an annualized rate of 7% since March, supported by transpacific demand and leisure routes to Central America and the Caribbean. Capacity rose 3.8%, causing load factor to drop 1.7 percentage points to 85.3%.

Latin American airlines experienced a 6.7% demand rise compared to the same month last year, helped by strong demand on international routes within the region, spurred in part by the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. Capacity increased by 4.0% and load factor rose 2.1 percentage points to 84.0%. Carriers in this region were the only ones to see a rise in load factor compared to the year-ago period.

African airlines traffic climbed 1.8% in August. International growth has tracked sideways since the start of the year, reflecting challenges in the major economies. Capacity rose 3.1%, with the result that load factor slipped 1.0 percentage point to 75.6%, lowest among regions.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Demand for domestic travel climbed 4.3% in August compared to August 2015, which was slightly exceeded by a 4.4% increase in capacity. Load factor slid 0.1 percentage points to 83.6%. All markets reported demand increases with the exception of Brazil and Russia, with India and China reporting double-digit rises.

Russias domestic traffic fell 2.7% but the failure of Transaero last year has taken significant capacity out of the market, and load factor reached a record high for the month at 86.5%. It was also the highest among the domestic markets tracked by IATA.

US airlines domestic traffic climbed just 1% year-on-year in August and traffic has trended sideways in seasonally-adjusted terms since late 2015.

Lower airfares are a major factor sustaining demand for air travel. And airline profitability is stronger than ever as a result of a better industry structure and efficiency gains. But the lingering impact of terrorist attacks in Europe earlier in the year reminds us that the aviation industry is vulnerable to many external factors beyond its control. The risks - including the normal ups and downs of the business cycle - wont go away. The industry has improved resilience along with its profitability. That will be critical to responding quickly should the business environment change, said de Juniac.

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Ferry Vessels Operations In River Yamuna Likely From December 2016: IWAI
Oct 06,2016

Ferry vessels operations into the 16 km length of river Yamuna from Delhi could be a reality from December 2016 as Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has submitted all necessary details to National Green Tribunal (NGT) for obtaining its green signal for the job, disclosed its Chairman, Mr. Amitabh Verma.

Speaking at Infrastructure Conclave-2016-Accelerating Growth with Inclusion & Equity organized by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Verma also announced that tenders for seven waterways would be floated in next 3-4 months.

The government, according to Mr. Verma has already notified 106 inland waterways out of which 30 are highly doable among which tender for one such inland waterways has already been floated and the tender for remaining 22 waterways would follow in due course.

Mr. Verma also announced that new Inland Vessel Act is likely to be passed in the forthcoming winter session of the Parliament, replacing it with the prototype Vessel Act of 1917 as also a new legislation relating to dredging would come about in the same session.

Ferry vessels operations in river Yamuna are likely by December 2016 as the IWAI have cleared off the misgivings of NGT and a fresh report to this effect has already been submitted to the tribunal which is likely to be cleared off before the IWAI resumes the ferry vessels operations in December 2016.

Chairman, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Mr. Raghav Chandra who was also present on the occasion said that in the current fiscal the NHAI would tender out roads and highways projects measuring 7,000 km at various part of the country.

According to him, the approach of the government towards improving the road and highways connectivity is to bring about efficiency and competitiveness in the Indian economy for which all out efforts are being made with awards of new projects, the focus of which is not to broaden the existing road infrastructure but to develop it in the green field sector also.

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All ASI Protected Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites Declared Polythene Free Zones
Oct 06,2016

All ASI Protected Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites have been declared Polythene Free Zones. Advisory has been issued to all State Governments/UTs to support ASI in keeping Monuments Polythene Free up to 300 meters from the protected boundaries of the Monuments. This information was given by Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Culture and Tourism while briefing the media persons on the various initiatives of Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism during Swachhata Pakhwada 16th - 30th September, 2016. He was addressing a Joint Press Conference on n++Swachh Bharat Missionn++ along with Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister for Rural Development and Drinking Water & Sanitation.

He informed that Ministry of Culture has sanctioned Rs.350 crores to provide facilities like Protected Boundaries, Toilets and Disabled Friendly Access in all ASI Protected Monuments. Work has been awarded to PSUs like WAPCOS and TCIL. They have been directed to complete the work in the current financial year 2016-17.

The Minister said that ASI has ranked top 25 Adarsh Monuments on the basis of Cleanliness parameters such as amenities like toilets, green lawns, Polythene Free Zone, signage for awareness, disabilities access, drinking water and provision for garbage bins etc. n++Rani ki Vav (Gujarat)n++ a World Heritage Site has been declared as the cleanest iconic place in the country.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma further informed that 75 more Adarsh Monuments protected by ASI have been identified to be included in the Swachh Paryatan Mobile App launched by the Ministry of Tourism. With this a total of 100 Adarsh Monuments protected by ASI will be included in the Swachh Paryatan Mobile App. This App was launched in February 2016 and is monitored by the Project Monitoring Unit of Swachh Bharat Mission in Ministry of Tourism.

The Minister said that since the general public and the tourists are the largest stakeholders in keeping the monuments clean, the Ministry of Tourism has decided to facilitate the general public to communicate their complaints about any unclean area/garbage piles in and around tourist destinations. This useful mobile App enables a citizen to take photograph of garbage at the monument and upload the same along with his/her remarks. The application then sends an SMS to the ASI Nodal Officer concerned with the monument upon receipt of which the Nodal Officer gets the garbage cleared/removed. The Nodal Officer thereafter sends confirmation about the redressal of the complaint through an SMS to the complainant. This Mobile App is available on Google Search Engine as Swachh Paryatan.

Dr. Sharma said that on completion of 2 years of Swachhata Abhiyan, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism have taken up various initiatives namely: -(i) Creating permanent mechanism of cleanliness for all organisations under Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism; (ii) to spread awareness through various cultural activities by involving all their organisations; and (iii) spread of swachhata awareness through Music, Dance and Drama by their Academies/Institutions and maintaining cleanliness at all ASI Protected Monuments etc.

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Ministry of Minority Affairs has taken over the work of Haj Division of MEA with effect from 1st October, 2016
Oct 06,2016

The work related to management of Haj pilgrimage, including administration of the Haj Committee Act, 2002 and rules made thereunder has been transferred from Ministry of External Affairs to Ministry of Minority Affairs. Ministry of Minority Affairs has taken over the work of Haj Division of MEA with effect from 1st October, 2016.

Hajj is one of the most complex organizational tasks undertaken by Government of India outside Indian borders. Indian pilgrims constitute the third largest national group performing the Hajj. Since the year 2013 about 136,000 pilgrims visit Saudi Arabia every year for performing Haj. Given its complexity and geographical spread, Haj Management requires meticulous planning and close coordination with various ministries and agencies. Thus it is a year long managerial exercise.

Haj management involves concerted efforts of Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, M/o Health, Consulate General of India, Jeddah (CGI), Haj Committee of India (HCoI) and State/UT Haj Committees. All aspects of the arrangements for the HCOI pilgrims in Saudi Arabia are coordinated by the Consulate General of India (CGI), Jeddah under the overall supervision of the Ambassador of India in Riyadh. In India, the Haj Committee of India established under the Hajj Committee Act, 2002 is responsible for making the arrangements for matters connected with Hajj.

With the transfer of Haj related works from MEA, M/o Minority Affairs will be the nodal Ministry for all matters related to Haj pilgrimage.

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Heritage Infrastructure projects worth Rs. 350 cr approved, says Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu
Oct 06,2016

Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development inaugurated a two day conference on Heritage Cities here today. The conference is being jointly organised by Ministry of Urban Development and Indian Heritage Cities Network (IHCN).

In his inaugural address, Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu said that India is blessed with tangible and intangible heritage assets and it consists of 32 World Heritage Sites, both cultural and natural, recognized by UNESCO. He said that India ranks 5th in the world and 2nd in Asia, in terms of number of World Heritage Sites. The Minister highlighted the importance of heritage sites for tourism. He said that India attracts millions of tourist every year and in 2013, India received 69 lakh foreign tourists and 114 crore domestic tourist visits, generating revenue of Rs. 2 lakh crore. i.e. 6.6 % of GDP. Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu pointed out that the heritage management has often been carried out in isolation, with no linkages to the urban planning process.

The Minister further said that HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana) scheme was launched by the Government in 2014 for heritage/ tourism oriented urban development. He said that, the scheme is 100% centrally sponsored with an outlay of Rs 500 crores and in the pilot phase, 12 cities have been selected. He highlighted that there is need for convergence of schemes like Smart City, AMRUT and other state Government schemes to reinforce the cultural and Heritage India. Projects worth about Rs. 350 cr have so far been approved for implementation.

Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu said that France had expressed interest to intervene on the subject of heritage and urban renewal heritage around waterfronts and accordingly two cities, namely Puri and Varanasi, have identified the projects relating to waterfront development.

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ADB to Provide India $500 Million for Solar Rooftop Systems
Oct 06,2016

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is set to provide $500 million in financing for rooftop solar systems that will help the Indian government expand energy access using renewable energy.

ADB will provide the financing to Punjab National Bank - one of Indias largest commercial banks - which will use the ADB funds to make loans to various developers and end users throughout India to install rooftop solar systems.

There is huge potential for India to expand its use of solar rooftop technologies because of the sharp drop in the price of solar panels, Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission to increase its overall solar energy generation to 100 gigawatts by the same date.

Indias Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or the carbon emission reduction target under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, is to lower the emissions intensity of the Indian economy by 33% from 2005 levels and to increase the share of non-fossil-fuel-based power generation capacity to 40% of installed power capacity by 2030. India formally ratified the Paris climate agreement yesterday.

To support efforts by India and other Asian developing member countries to meet their targets, ADB has also committed to doubling its annual financing for climate mitigation and adaptation to $6 billion by 2020.

The solar rooftop market is still at an early stage of development in India and awareness of the latest technologies and the financial benefits is low. Banks see lending to such projects as risky, in part because they have limited past experiences. In this context, an additional $5 million technical assistance from the multi-donor Clean Technology Fund, administered by ADB, will be used to provide training, promote market development, and raise market awareness. meaning the cost of producing solar energy is at or close to that from fossil fuels, said Anqian Huang, finance specialist in ADBs South Asia Department. Sourcing more solar energy will also help India meet the carbon emissions reduction target that it has committed to as part of the recent global climate change agreement.The financing comprises $330 million from ADB and $170 million from the multi-donor Clean Technology Fund administered by ADB. This funding should mean that 11 million fewer tons of greenhouse gases are emitted over the typical 25-year lifetime of solar rooftop systems.Combined with an additional $300 million in subproject equity investment and $200 million in loans from commercial banks and other financiers, the entire cost of the Solar Rooftop Investment Program is $1 billion. The Government of India aims to increase the amount of energy sourced from solar rooftop systems to 40 gigawatts by 2022. This is part of a wider goal under the

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Three agreements between India and Switzerland
Oct 06,2016

The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh met the visiting Minister for Justice and Police of Swiss Confederation, Ms. Simonetta Sommaruga. Shri Rajnath Singh stated that the two countries have made significant contributions to strengthen peace and prosperity based on their shared vision of a peaceful and progressive future.

The Union Home Minister proposed training facilities for Indian Police Officers in Switzerland Police Academies/other Training Institutes in the fields of Anti-Hijacking and Cyber Forensic etc. Shri Rajnath Singh said India looks forward for cooperation with Switzerland on the issue of exchange of tax information since the black money issue is the main corruption issue which needs to be tackled.

On the occasion, the two sides signed three agreements including Mutual Visa Exemption Agreement for Holders of Diplomatic Passports, Technical Arrangements on Identification and Return of Illegal Migrants and Arrangement for Dependent Person of Diplomatic, Consular, Technical and Administrative Staff of Diplomatic and Consular Mission to Perform Gainful Employment.

Shri Rajnath Singh also sought a more liberal visa regime for Indian business people since India has been offering multi-year multiple entry visas to Swiss businesses in a bid to enhance bilateral trade and investment.

Other subjects of interest to the two countries were also discussed. These included cooperation in transfer of sentenced persons and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal matters that would help in combating terrorism, transnational organized crimes and corruption including money laundering.

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Loan Against Property- Rising Stress, Shrinking Spreads
Oct 06,2016

Delinquencies in Indias non-banking financiers loan against property (LAP) portfolio could significantly increase in the next four quarters and may even exceed 5% on a static basis for a few players, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The signs of early stress are visible in the LAP business loan pools assessed by Ind-Ra, including a sharp rise in 90 days past due delinquencies for some of the large players. A combination of stagnant property prices especially in metros and large cities, which are the primary markets for large and medium ticket LAP, and squeeze on refinancing due to risk aversion building up in some financiers is bringing stress to the fore.

Ind-Ra analysed data from the LAP portfolios generated over the last five years and observed that all loans, irrespective of their years of origination, are experiencing a concurrent rise in delinquencies in 2016. Ind-Ra believes that the LAP market has now entered into a delicate phase with rising delinquencies accompanied by shrinking yields, thereby leaving limited buffers to absorb unexpected shocks. The average lending rate in the urban high-ticket LAP segment has shrunk to close to 300bp from 500bp over State Bank of Indias (IND AAA/Stable) base rate, which in Ind-Ras opinion may not be adequate to absorb any spike in credit costs. Ind-Ra also believes the eventual losses through the liquidation route could be higher than what is being priced in by non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs). Ind-Ras rated transaction pool data for the housing loan mortgage portfolio acquired by asset reconstruction companies since 2006 show a recovery rate of over 100% of principal outstanding, but when adjusted for the time value it drops to 70%. Furthermore, this recovery ratio drops sharply to 25% for SME loans where collaterals include either industrial or commercial properties.

Ind-Ra believes that over the last few quarters, portfolio churn, through balance transfer among NBFIs, has been the significant driver of incremental loan growth. Additionally, a large segment of the market utilised third-party intermediaries to expand its loan portfolio. Ind-Ra believes that it has led to less than optimum credit assessment rigour. Furthermore, elevated balance transfer has led to inadequate seasoning for a part of the portfolio.

Ind-Ra observes that small ticket LAP portfolio has shown a better performance than large ticket loans, though the portfolio is less seasoned. Newer geographies are facilitating volume growth and due to limited competitive intensity, are allowing lenders to price in the risk. Also, the recent applicability of SARFAESI Act (to systemically important NBFIs and on a loan amount higher than INR10m) may improve portfolio performance as it could reduce slippages and improve recovery.

Ind-Ra believes that credit appraisal systems based on borrower cash-flow assessment and standardised valuation practices would be critical risk mitigants. Ind-Ra expects players with largely residential mortgage collaterals to fare well on asset quality metrics. Finally, strong equity and liquidity buffers and matched asset liability profile would continue to differentiate players in this segment.

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