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Assistance to cities to improve energy use efficiency to tap Rs.6,000 cr saving potential per year
Sep 28,2016

Ministry of Urban Development has embarked on a major programme to improve energy use efficiency in bulk water supply, public lighting, transportation and domestic consumption in cities and towns across the country. The Ministry today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Energy Efficiency Services, a public sector enterprise in this regard.

The MoU was signed in the presence of the Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Power, New and Renewable Energy Sources and Coal Shri Piyush Goyal and Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary (Urban Development).

Shri Naidu said that energy audit and improving energy use efficiency is one of the mandated reforms under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and this initiative would help the cities significantly. n++This will substantially reduce costs of operation of water supply schemes and public lighting and will benefit citizensn++ Shri Naidu said.

Shri Piyush Goyal said that n++EESL has done a great job over the last one year in promoting energy use efficiency programmes across the country and has done much better than private sector. EESL will ensure supply of latest technology for municipal programmesn++.

In the MoU, it has been stated that energy costs account for 40% to 60% of cost of water supply in urban areas and energy efficiency interventions can reduce this cost by 25% to 40%, depending on the type and age of machines being used for bulk water supply. Quoting Central Electricity Authority (CEA) it has been stated that urban local bodies can save about Rs.6,000 cr per year through such interventions in water supply and public lighting alone besides avoiding the need for 1,150 MW of power.

Savings in water supply is said to be Rs.3,200 cr and 600 MW of power while it would be Rs.2,800 cr and 550 MW in case of public lighting per year. Emission of Carbon Dioxide, a climate change agent is estimated to be reduced by over 7 million tonnes per year.

Necessary interventions would be undertaken by EESL without any financial burden on urban local bodies as cost of the proposed Municipal Energy Efficiency Programmes would be borne from out of the savings. MoU states that performance contracting offers a mechanism for urban local bodies to finance these projects without upfront investment.

As per the MoU, EESL will develop overall strategy for taking up Energy Efficient Projects in urban areas and to start with, will take up implementation of energy efficient pump sets in public water works and sewage systems to be followed by similar interventions for public lighting, public transport systems and buildings.

Cities selected under Smart City Mission would be targeted first to be followed by AMRUT cities and others in a phased manner.

Ministry of Urban Development would facilitate signing of agreements between the State Governments, urban local bodies and EESL for conducting Investment Grade Energy Audit, preparation of technical reports and for implementation after the reports are approved.

EESL will provide or arrange project funding for implementation as required and will procure latest technological equipment and materials in a transparent manner besides ensuring repair and maintenance services for the goods installed by it.

It has been proposed in the MoU that after selection of cities, Investment Grade Energy Audit will be prepared by EESL in six months and after approval, project will be implemented in nine months from the date of signing of tri-partite agreement.

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Govt. exploring opportunities to set up nuclear power plants in Ukhand, Punjab & Haryana: Dr Jitendra Singh
Sep 28,2016

The government is exploring possibilities of establishing nuclear power plants in northern states of Uttarakhand, Punjab and Haryana, union Minister for Atomic Energy, Dr Jitendra Singh said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++The present government can stake claim of having set up an atomic energy plant in Gorakhpur in Haryana, so we have brought atomic energy northwards which it had been waiting for 60-70 years and we made it to cross through Delhi because atomic energy never had the opportunity to see the capital of this country,n++ said Dr Singh while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM conference on nuclear power in India.

He said that atomic energy remained confined only to Maharashtra, the western coast, Tamil Nadu, parts of Andhra Pradesh. n++So now we are exploring the possibilities of having such establishments in other possible places for example, near Dehradun in Uttarakhand, in Punjab near Patiala and in Bhiwandi in Haryana are being explored as venues for atomic plants.n++

Highlighting the cost-effective aspect of nuclear energy, he said n++The nuclear power plant being set up in Haryana will become operational by about next year at the cost of just Rs 6 per unit.n++

n++Atomic energy had remained confined to certain parts of the country, in Tarapur for obvious reasons because Dr Bhabha had set up his first establishment in Mumbai then we had south but we hardly had any presence in north India,n++ he said.

He also said that the government had diversified nuclear energy and got it into a huge way in academics through Bhabha National Institute.

n++The Bhabha National Institute has got into an understanding with Tata Atomic Institute in Mumbai and we are now helping it to award degrees in cancer,n++ said the Minister.

He also said that within a period of next ten years India will have at least 25 per cent source of energy from nuclear sector. n++That is going to be a remarkable achievement because energy needs of the country are growing very fast and it is going to be cost-effective.n++

n++The challenge would be to how best to put it (nuclear energy) to use,n++ said Dr Singh.

He also said that the government was using space technology to safeguard the thorium which will come to be utilised very soon in the years to come when India will have new sets of nuclear reactors.

n++While we will have this advantage of being the part of the Department of Atomic Energy which was perhaps not so visible earlier, we will also have the challenge and responsibility about how best to use this increasing availability of energy with wider application and how to safeguard the pilferage of the energy as well as the energy source by way of pilferage,n++ said the minister.

He also said that Dr Homi J. Bhabha had a vision to establish a nuclear centre and also to declare to the world that it would be devoted to the peaceful purposes at a time when peaceful purposes of nuclear energy were hardly known and it was only known as a creator of atomic bomb.

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BSNL should connect 1 lakh Gram Panchayats with broadband connectivity at the earliest-Manoj Sinha
Sep 28,2016

The Telecom Minister Shri Manoj Sinha today gave a stern message to BSNL that he will not tolerate any delay and the Telecom PSU should connect one lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) through Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) to set up a network infrastructure to serve the rural masses. He said, all are working with zeal to achieve the target of connecting 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats with Broadband Network within stipulated timeframe, which is the vision of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for Digital India. Speaking at an award ceremony function of BSNL here, Shri Sinha said, those who are working with zeal should be rewarded and those should take VRS from where reports of negative growth is coming on a continuous basis.

The Minister urged the BSNL to find new invention, new research and new technology and to give World Class products for achieving Prime Ministers vision of Transforming India through Digital Revolution. He said that there is need for innovation as India cannot afford to emulate the Developed Economies due to limited resources. He said, if India will lag in catching up with emerging technologies, the very existence of the country will be at stake. He exhorted the officials and other stakeholders to n++Walk the Talkn++ and underlined that it is our bounden duty to digitally empower the huge chunk of population particularly in rural areas who are still deprived of IT revolution.

Shri Sinha asked BSNL officers and employees to set an ambitious target of 15 percent Telecom penetration within a time frame from the existing 10.4 percent and asked the PSU to any competition head on and compete with other big Telecom Operators as BSNL is now equipped with new technology, dedicated work force, equipment and financial resources. He also expressed concern that despite the worldwide trend, the number of land line connections in India is decreasing every day and BSNL should think seriously about this issue.

He said, unless the BSNL will not improve its service quality, Plan-49 or Plan-II-49 will not succeed to have connection at Rs 49. BSNL through the above two plans have made call free on Sunday and from 9.00 pm to 7 am each day and the Telco PSU is also providing Broadband connectivity at cheaper rates. He also asked BSNL to resolve all the complaints promptly and any reluctance on this front will not be tolerated.

Shri Sinha said that the Country is on the verge of Data Revolution, and if India will lag behind on this front, history will not forgive us. He said, it is easy to befool through jugglery of data and facts, but ultimately work should be seen to have been done.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, Telecom Shri J.S.Deepak said that it is a matter of pride that since April, 2015, BSNL has come to operating profit it is gaining market share on a regular basis but it should work hard to become the global giant. Referring to connectivity initiatives in North East, Left Wing Extremist areas, where 2200 towers were installed for better connectivity for the security forces and for the rural masses living in the remotest areas, Shri Deepak said that in the 2nd phase 2,000 additional towers will be installed in the naxal-hit areas. He also called for performance audit of the PSU from time to time.

In his address, the CMD of BSNL Shri Anupam Srivastav said that the revenue of BSNL IN 2015-16 was Rs 28,450 crore, which is 4.4 percent more than the revenue in the year 2014-15. He assured the Minister that BSNL is ready to compete tariff to tariff with any Telecom Operator and also called for collaborative efforts where the countrys interest is involved.

Shri Srivastav said that due to paucity of instruments and equipment from 2006-2012, BSNL missed the voice bus, but in the last two years several initiatives were taken and BSNL is ready for any challenge. He informed that in the last two years 26,000 mobile towers were installed and in this financial year 20,000 additional towers will be installed.

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Proposed Multi-Modal Terminal at Haldia Holds Huge Cargo Potential
Sep 28,2016

Even before the construction of Multi-Modal terminal at Haldia in West Bengal kicks off, it has received a commitment of 5.92 million tons (MT) per annum of cargo volume by the year 2018 from the Industry, indicating huge cargo potential of the proposed terminal. Fly ash is expected to be the major cargo with a commitment of 3.8 MT followed by vegetable oil (0.63 MT), cement (0.36 MT), among others.

In a series of consultations with Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) held at Haldia last month, various industries, firms, shipping lines, cargo operators, shippers, and manufacturers committed transportation of cargo like Fly ash, Edible oil, Vegetable oil, Gypsum etc. by 2018, the year Haldia terminal is ready for operation.

Earlier, a workshop on issues pertaining to the opportunities and prospects of inland waterways-cargo potential for IWT terminal at Haldia was held in March, 2015 in which various shippers, freight forwarders, vessel operators etc. participated. The participants had indicated that the immediate demand for transportation was about 1.8 MT per annum for Fly Ash and 1.7 MT per annum for Edible oil, if Haldia Multi-Modal Terminal was constructed.

In June, 2016, M/s HPC & Uniconsult, Germany (Consultants engaged for IWT Sector development strategy and business development study for the Jal Marg Vikas Project) forecasted a cargo potential of 7.95 MT for the year 2020.

Haldia terminal is one of the three Multi-Modal terminals being constructed under the World Bank assisted Jal Marg Vikas Project, being implemented by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Ministry of Shipping, Government of India for the capacity augmentation of National Waterway-1 i.e. on River Ganga from Haldia-Varanasi for navigation.

Government is developing National Waterway-1 (NW-1) under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, with assistance from the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs. 4,200 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1500-2,000 DWT Tonnage.

Earlier tender for Phase-I of the terminal was published on 3rd March,2016. Six firms submitted their technical and financial proposals, and the evaluation is in progress.

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NHAI Awards Contract for 4-Laning of Lucknow-Sultanpur Section of NH-56 in Uttar Pradesh.
Sep 27,2016

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued Letter of Award (LOA) for development of the following section in the state of Uttar Pradesh under NHDP Phase-IV:

NH No.

Section

Length

Total Capital Cost

Concessionaires Name

NH-56

4-Laning of Lucknow Sultanpur Section from km 11.500 to km 134.700 of NH-56

127 km

Rs. 2,845 crore

M/s DilipBuildcon Ltd.

The project shall be executed on Hybrid Annuity mode and completed in 30 months from the date of commencement of the project.  Development of this section would reduce the travel time from Lucknow to Holy City of Varanasi and promote tourism in the region.The 127 km long stretch between Lucknow and Sultanpur transverses through important districts of Lucknow, Barabanki, Raebareli and Sultanpur.
 
The project will have construction of one Major Bridge, 13 Major Bridges, 1 Railway Over Bridge, 259 Culverts, 4 Vehicular Underpasses, 6 Cattle/Pedestrian Underpasses, 43 Bus Bays, 2 Truck Lay Byes and 32 km long Bypasses at Jagdishpur, Mushafirkhana, Aliganj and Shabaganj/Badaunkalan.

 

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NHAI Preparing DPR for Four Laning of Coastal Highway in Kerala and Karnataka
Sep 27,2016

Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari has directed NHAI and the State Government to identify important tourist spots on the route and facilitate to create wayside amenities on the lines of Ocean Highway in USA. This facility once built will add to the tourism value of whole area and shall be helpful in creating employment for the local people.

NHAI is preparing a DPR for 4-laning of coastal highway (Kerala Karnataka Border to Kannur from Km 17/200 to Km 148/000 of NH-17 (New No.NH-66) under NHDP Phase-III and 4 laning of Kannur to Vengalam from Km 148/000 to Km 230/000 of NH-17. Minister has also directed State Government to submit the proposal of 1200 crore under NHO and DPR of 200 km NH length so that same can be expedited and awarded in this financial year.

Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari, reviewed National Highway works with senior officers of PWD, NHAI and Ministry during his visit to Cochin. Contractors/Concessionaires, Independent Engineer and Consultants were also present in the review meeting. Minister reviewed the following three ongoing projects:

i) 6-laning of NH-66 (Old No.47) Vadakkanchery-Thrissur (Tunneling Both Side) under NHDP Phase -II.

ii) 4-laning of NH-66 (Old No.47) of Kazhakkotam-Mukkoila (km.0/000 to Km.26/500) under NHDP Phase-III; and

iii) Mukkola to KL/TN Border section (km 26.500 to Km 43.000) under NHDP Phase-III.

In regard to project of 6-laning of NH-66, the Minister reviewed progress of tunnel being built and has advised the concerned officers and contractors to expedite tunnelling work by putting additional resources, machineries and start the work from both ends of the tunnel. Minister has directed contractors and officers to complete the work by March, 2017.

Minister also reviewed the projects on Thalassery-Mahe Bypass (NH-66) and Kozhikode Bypass (NH-66). It has been informed by the Additional Chief Secretary, PWD, Government of Kerala that the land is available for taking up the work of Thalassery - Mahe Bypass and Kozhikode Bypass in the project stretch of 4 laning of Kerala- Karnataka Border to Kannur from Km 17/200 to Km 148/000 of NH-17 (New No.NH-66) under NHDP Phase-III and 4 laning of Kannur to Vengalam from Km 148/000 to Km 230/000 of NH-17 (New NH-66) under NHDP Phase-III. The Minister has directed that work on these works should be immediately awarded for construction.

While reviewing the project of 4-laning of NH-66, the Minister has advised that as was requested by Chief Minister, Kerala, and was agreed by the Minister, a Vehicular Under Pass (VUP) shall be provided and revised design of the airport connectivity ramp shall be prepared by the NHAI and contractors. The Minister has also directed the State Government to provide all necessary support in terms of land acquisition and payment of long pending dues of tolls to Kerala State Road Transport Corporation. The Minister has also directed State Government Principal Secretary (PWD) to regularly review land acquisition process and expedite necessary approvals by the State Government.

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Farmers are getting better prices for pulses after intervention by government agencies
Sep 27,2016

An Inter-Ministerial meeting held under chairmanship of Secretary Department of Consumer Affairs, Shri Hem Pande reviewed prices and availability of pulses here today. In the meeting, it was informed that Government agencies- NAFED, FCI and SFAC have started aggressive procurement operations to ensure minimum support prices to farmers after the arrival of crop in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The meeting was informed that after the intervention of the Government agencies through direct procurement from the farmers at MSP, farmers are getting better prices for their crop in market also. So far, 200 centres have been set up in pulses producing states and more centres will be added after arrival of Tur crop in October- November. Shri Hem Pande directed the procurement agencies to ensure that farmers get minimum support prices for pulses and wide publicity should be given to the procurement operations in pulses procuring pockets.

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Gartner Says Organizations Need to Master Two Dimensions of Mobility
Sep 27,2016

With the convergence of devices, bots, things and people, organizations will need to master two dimensions of mobility, according to Gartner, Inc. CIOs and IT leaders will need to excel at mainstream mobility and to prepare for the post-app era.

The future of mobile will provide ubiquitous services delivered anywhere, by any person or thing, to any person or thing, said David Willis vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. While users are constantly looking for new and compelling app experiences, the importance of apps in delivering services will diminish and the emergence of virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and bots will replace some of the functions performed by apps today. Alternative approaches to interaction and service delivery will arise, and code will move from traditional mobile devices and apps to the cloud, said Mr. Willis.

Mobile Becomes Business As Usual

The mobile landscape has changed dramatically during the past few years; mobile is no longer a novel technology, but business as usual, for most organizations, said Mr. Willis. In 2016, Gartner forecasts the shipment of 2.37 billion devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones), and that 293 million wearables will be sold in the same year. In 2017, Gartner estimates that 2.38 billion devices will be shipped and 342 million wearables will be sold.

The proliferation of mobile devices means that phones, tablets, laptops and wearables are now omnipresent within the business environment, reinventing the way people interact and work, said Mr. Willis.

Todays tech users are smart and savvy, demanding better features and experiences. The traditional forms of bring your own (that is, devices and applications) will continue to grow, making bring your own device and bring your own application the norm for the majority of organizations. Moreover, the arrival of wearables and bring your own thing (such as smart kettles, smart power sockets or smart light bulbs) in the workplace will introduce new interaction techniques and new platforms, diluting the need for specific mobile app experiences, said Mr. Willis.

Much of the innovation in the mobile space isnt taking place inside the smartphones themselves, but in the things that communicate with them. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 25 percent of new mobile apps will talk to Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Most IoT devices that talk to smartphones do so via an app or the browser. Through 2018, the app will be the preferred mechanism, because it provides a better experience and allows more sophisticated interactions and data analysis, with low-level networking and background processing, said Mr. Willis.

However, the current dominance of apps is challenged by several trends that, together, Gartner labels the post-app era. As new technologies grow in importance as a way to control and interact with things, app interfaces will fade, added Mr. Willis.

Prepare for the Post-App Era Today

New ways to interact with things will deliver pervasive services, and emerging technologies n++ such as artificial intelligence, natural-language processing and bots integrated into messaging apps,open new opportunities to interact with users seamlessly.

A number of global players are enabling businesses and consumers to chat with users on their messaging platform evolving APIs and services so that developers can create their own bots. This concept allows users to chat with organizations to get information, answer questions and transact through messaging or VPAs.

This means that instead of going into a system and filling out complicated forms with checkboxes, users can ask a bot a question, and it will answer or negotiate on our behalf, based on rules and knowledge in the system, said Mr. Willis. It will then move to those systems that allow interactions with customers n++ from marketing to sales.

Apps are not going away and code isnt vanishing, added Mr. Willis. The post-app era means that there will be more data and code in the cloud and less on the device, thanks to the continuous improvement of cellular network performance.

The post-app era will be an evolving process through 2020 and beyond, concluded Mr. Willis. It has, however, already begun, and organizations should prepare for it by being agile and tactical, planning for new skills, assessing the new opportunities created by the post-app era, and developing a digital business strategy that integrates many different technologies.

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Packaged food market reached $51 mn mark in 2015: Study
Sep 27,2016

Clocking a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 16 per cent, the packaged food market in India is expected to have crossed $51.5 million (mn) mark in 2015 as against $25 million in 2010, noted a recent ASSOCHAM-TechSci Research joint study.

n++In wake of the increasing disposable incomes and growing number of nuclear families, market share of packaged food in processed food market is expected to marginally increase to about 29 per cent in 2016 from about 28 per cent in 2015,n++ according to the study titled Dynamics involved in multi-layered food packaging, conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) jointly with TechSci Research.

Food and beverage packaging market in India was estimated at about $16 billion (bn) as of 2015 from about $12 bn in 2010 and registered a CAGR of over six per cent.

With a size of over $4 bn, the plastic food packaging market currently accounts for lions share of about 63 per cent in Indias total plastic packaging market which is currently valued at about $7 bn, highlighted the ASSOCHAM-TechSci Research study.

Market for multilayer plastic food packaging is currently estimated at about $1 bn which is about 22 per cent of Indias total plastic food packaging industry, however, in the total food and beverages packaging market, multilayer plastic food packaging accounts for over six per cent share in value terms.

n++Growing usage of packaging material in various food service outlets together with increasing demand for packaged beverage and expanding working class population has given impetus to food packaging industry in India,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings of the study.

In terms of share, metallic and other packaging material accounts for about half of Indias overall food and beverages packaging market followed by printed cartons and rigid packaging (28 per cent) and flexible packaging material like food packaging laminates and packaging foils (24 per cent), highlighted the ASSOCHAM-TechSci Research study.

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Robust Demand, Milestone Reform Sustain Indias Growth Momentum: ADB
Sep 27,2016

Indias economy will remain on a strong growth path this fiscal year (FY) and next, aided by implementation of key structural reforms, robust consumer demand, and higher agricultural output driven by a good Summer monsoon, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) study.

In an update of its flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook 2016, ADB forecasts FY2017 (year to March 2017) gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 7.4%, unchanged from its March projection. FY2018 growth is also seen unchanged at a faster clip of 7.8%.

With increasing investment over the coming year, India will remain the fastest growing major economy in the world, said Juzhong Zhuang, Deputy Chief Economist. Legislation to allow a national value-added tax is a milestone reform for India, while ongoing efforts to restructure bank balance sheets will help underpin faster growth moving forward.

Overall growth in the first quarter of FY2017 fell to 7.1% year-on-year as private consumption, investment, and construction moderated. Weak rains slowed agricultural output and credit growth remained subdued. At the same time, services grew by over 9% year-on-year, aided by a sharp rise in government spending, with government consumption posting its highest level of growth in almost 2 years.

Moving forward, the Update expects the economy to benefit from the flow through impacts of ongoing reforms, including the approval in August 2016 of legislation to allow the introduction of a long-awaited uniform goods and services tax. This landmark legislation is expected to boost GDP growth and revenue for the government. The effects of a healthier monsoon season, after 2 years of weak rains, will spur growth and government approval of a pay hike for public servants last August will continue to fuel buoyant consumption, which will remain a key growth driver. Construction, meanwhile, will benefit from the government announcement of measures to ease rules for quicker settlement of housing disputes, and to clear the way for fresh liquidity injections into stalled projects.

An uptick in demand from advanced economies, including oil producers supported by higher commodity prices, will boost exports, which after 2 years of contraction are seen expanding 4% in FY2017 and 7% in FY2018. A revival in public investment and some modest improvement in private investment will also underpin the economy in FY2018. Growth in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, though not as strong as in FY2016, will nevertheless remain at solid levels with the government liberalizing caps on FDI in some sectors and taking steps to improve the ease of doing business.

Inflation, meanwhile, is expected to average 5.4% in FY2017 with food prices benefiting from a stronger monsoon. Inflationary pressures, though, will move up in FY2018, with the rate seen at 5.8%, against a backdrop of higher global commodity prices and an expected rise in the prices of some services following the introduction of GST.

The updated assessment notes some risks of slippage in the governments target to reduce the fiscal deficit to 3.5% of GDP for FY2017 due to subdued non-tax revenue and higher current expenditure. However, measures to improve the targeting of subsidies and tax revenue growth should reduce the extent of slippage. A healthy external balance and strong capital inflows have helped the Indian rupee remain relatively stable against the US dollar in 2016.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members - 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.

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India-Pak trade abysmally low; MFN or not: ASSOCHAM
Sep 27,2016

India-Pakistan trade relations are abysmally low accounting for less than half a per cent of Indias total global trade involving both exports and imports, apex industry body ASSOCHAM has said.

Out of Indias total merchandise trade of USD 641 billion in 2015-16, Pakistan accounted for a meagre USD 2.67 billion, of this Indias exports to the neighbouring country amounted to USD 2.17 billion, or 0.83 per cent of the total Indian outward shipments while imports were less than USD 500 million, or 0.13 per cent of total inward shipments.

n++In all, trade with Pakistan was equivalent to 0.41 per cent of Indias global merchandise commerce,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM.

n++Thus, the MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status or no MFN has not made much of a difference on the bilateral trade, while India has granted Pakistan the MFN status, Islamabad had not responded but even with the MFN status, Pakistans exports to India remained less than half a billion dollar,n++ said Mr Rawat.

He said that for political reasons, the businesses have not been cultivating interest in each others country.

n++Going forward, as things stand today, it is almost no movement seen in the immediate future. Even the symbolic presence of Pakistan exhibitors at the annual India International Trade Fair (IITF) in November in New Delhi is not expected whether or not formal ties are snapped or not, given the present state of affairs,n++ said Mr Rawat.

On its part, India Inc is fully and solidly behind Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi for steering Indias interest in the best possible directions. n++The strategic decisions are fully the domain of the government which enjoys the full backing of the nation,n++ the ASSOCHAM said.

Even as India was grappling with the global slowdown, its merchandise exports were USD 261 billion in 2015-16, while imports were USD 380 billion. Indias main exports markets are the European Union, the US, Africa and the South East Asia. n++There has been fair amount of activity in Latin America as well.n++

On the other hand, China along with countries of the Middle East, the EU and the US are major suppliers of goods to India having a major charge on the countrys imports bill.

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Ease of Doing business among Indian states improving rapidly: PHD Chamber
Sep 27,2016

At the socio economic front the states have taken effective measures towards the implementation of reforms in healthcare, education and basic physical and social infrastructure. The states are now on their way to rapid industrialization through coordinated development of Small, Medium and Large scale enterprises, according to the study conducted by PHD Research Bureau, research arm of PHD Chamber of Commerce and industry.

The study titled as Ease of Doing Business among Indian States: Suggestive Measures has been released by Shri Pradeep Kumar Sinha, Cabinet Secretary, Government of India in a programme Accelerating Ease Of Doing Business to the next orbit, on 17th September 2016.

As states play a pivotal role in the overall development of the Indian Economy, these are now dismantling barriers in production process such as land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship and contributing in a massive way towards infrastructure building and industrialisation, said the study.

The recent breakthrough in the implementation of GST is commendable which will reduce the barriers between states and will make the country a common market. A wider tax base and better compliance will boost overall economic growth of the country, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber at the release of the study.

According to the study, though predominantly some states are agrarian in nature, but the industrial sector in the states has also emerged as a significant contributor in their economic and social development. Now states offer favorable environment for attracting industrial investments through investor friendly policies and better infrastructural support, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta

The states have developed good infrastructure for promoting the thriving sectors like tourism and IT industry with various lucrative public-private partnerships (PPP), said Dr. Gupta

The states are focusing on strengthening their infrastructure base and making the business environment more conducive to industrial developments. Many states are known for their efforts in the area of skill development and good governance; also many states have shifted their focus towards disaster management techniques, he said

Going ahead, the role of states is expected to be increasingly more critical in sustaining the overall development of the country in coming times, said the study

Several challenges to their growth, such as easing the supply side constraints in the economy, upskilling the workforce and increasing manufacturing competitiveness are still the major areas of concern, said the study.

The state policies should be focusing on diversifying the beneficiaries of the socio economic development programmes to ensure an all inclusive growth in the country; the states should also focus on the comparative advantages of their respective strengths and specializations and should also adopt best practices of each others strengths, suggested the study.

In a nutshell, the study said that the reforms undertaken by the state governments are expected to bring out strong outcomes which would pave the way for strong and sustainable economic growth of the country in the coming times. With the continuous increase in per capita income of the states, there exist a tremendous potential for expansion of consumer markets and enhanced employment opportunities with expanding production possibility frontiers

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Strong case to cut policy rates in India, top manufacturing countries placed far better in costs of credit: PHD Chamber
Sep 27,2016

Status quo maintained by US FED creates lot of scope for repo rate cut as our cost of borrowings are significantly high as compared with our manufacturing peers and other competitive economies, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

While welcoming the US Fed decision to keep policy rates unchanged, Dr. Mahesh Gupta said that though USA has significantly recovered from the recession, low policy rate regime should continue till the growth becomes strong and sustainable, he said.

At this juncture, Indias economy should be supported by lower interest rates to enhance the demand for durables and to boost up the manufacturing sector as domestic inflation for August has come down to 5.05 percent and IIP has dipped drastically to (-) 2.4 for the month of July 2016, said Dr. Gupta.

Cost of credit to businesses is high as compared with many competitive economies, impacting not only domestic competitiveness but also comparative advantage in the international markets, he said.

Indias repo rate at 6.5% is significantly higher as compared with the worlds 5 largest manufacturing countries including China (4.35%), United States of America (0.5%), Japan (-.1%), Germany (0) and Republic of Korea (1.25%).

Other competitive economies such as Thailand (1.5%), Hong Kong (0.75%), Malaysia (3%), Singapore (0.37%), Taiwan (1.38%) are significantly better than India in the costs of credit.

Going ahead, we expect a significant cut in repo rate to facilitate the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector to compete in the international market, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

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Trade in 2016 to grow at slowest pace since the financial crisis: WTO
Sep 27,2016

World trade will grow more slowly than expected in 2016, expanding by just 1.7%, well below the April forecast of 2.8%, according to the latest WTO estimates. The forecast for 2017 has also been revised, with trade now expected to grow between 1.8% and 3.1%, down from 3.6% previously. With expected global GDP growth of 2.2% in 2016, this year would mark the slowest pace of trade and output growth since the financial crisis of 2009.

The downgrade follows a sharper than expected decline in merchandise trade volumes in the first quarter (-1.1% quarter-on-quarter, as measured by the average of seasonally-adjusted exports and imports) and a smaller than anticipated rebound in the second quarter (+0.3%). The contraction was driven by slowing GDP and trade growth in developing economies such as China and Brazil but also in North America, which had the strongest import growth of any region in 2014-15 but has decelerated since then.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevn++do said: The dramatic slowing of trade growth is serious and should serve as a wake-up call. It is particularly concerning in the context of growing anti-globalization sentiment. We need to make sure that this does not translate into misguided policies that could make the situation much worse, not only from the perspective of trade but also for job creation and economic growth and development which are so closely linked to an open trading system.

While the benefits of trade are clear, it is also clear that they need to be shared more widely. We should seek to build a more inclusive trading system that goes further to support poorer countries to take part and benefit, as well as entrepreneurs, small companies, and marginalized groups in all economies. This is a moment to heed the lessons of history and re-commit to openness in trade, which can help to spur economic growth.

The latest figures are a disappointing development and underline a recent weakening in the relationship between trade and GDP growth. Over the long term trade has typically grown at 1.5 times faster than GDP, though in the 1990s world merchandise trade volume grew about twice as fast as world real GDP at market exchange rates. In recent years however, the ratio has slipped towards 1:1, below both the peak of the 1990s and the long-term average.

If the revised projection holds, 2016 will be the first time in 15 years that the ratio between trade growth and world GDP has fallen below 1:1. Historically strong trade growth has been a sign of strong economic growth, as trade has provided a way for developing and emerging economies to grow quickly, and strong import growth has been associated with faster growth in developed countries. However the increase of the number of systematically important trading countries and the shift in the ratio of trade and GDP growth makes it more difficult to forecast future trade growth. Therefore, the WTO is for the first time providing a range of scenarios for its 2017 trade forecast rather than giving specific figures. The current trend in the relationship between trade growth and world GDP is lower than observed over the last three decades.

Since the WTOs April 2016 forecast was issued, some important downside risks have materialized, most notably a period of financial turbulence that affected China and other developing market economies early in the year, but which has since eased.

Import demand of developing economies fell 3.2% in Q1 before staging a partial recovery of 1.5% in Q2. Meanwhile, developed economies recorded positive import growth of 0.8% in Q1 and negative growth of -0.8% in Q2. Overall, world imports stagnated in the first half of 2016, falling 1.0% in Q1 and rising 0.2% in Q2. This translated into weak demand for exports of both developed and developing economies. For the year-to-date, world trade has been essentially flat, with the average of exports and imports in Q1 and Q2 declining 0.3% relative to last year.

These results are largely in line with the signals given by the WTOs World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI), a new tool launched in July to provide n++real timen++ information on trends in global trade. At that time the WTOI indicated that world merchandise trade might rebound in Q2 but would likely remain below trend.

The stagnation of world merchandise trade disguises strong shifts at the regional level. There is steep decline in imports of resource-exporting regions over the last two years, driven by falling commodity prices and declining export revenues. South America and Other regions (comprising Africa, the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States) arrested their declines in Q2 of 2016 while imports of North America and Europe both dipped in the latest quarter. Meanwhile, Asian imports declined by 3.4% in Q1 against a backdrop of concerns about slowing growth in China, before rebounding to 1.3% growth in Q2 as these concerns eased. The 3.3% decline in Asian exports in Q1 mirrored the drop in Asia on the import side, but this was mostly reversed by a 3.2% rise in exports in Q2.

There are some indications that trade may be picking up in the second half of 2016, although the pace of expansion is likely to remain subdued. Container port throughput has increased, export orders have risen in the United States, and nominal trade flows in US dollar terms have stabilized, but numerous risks remain.

The outlook for the remainder of this year and next year is affected by a number of uncertainties, including financial volatility stemming from changes in monetary policy in developed countries, the possibility that growing anti-trade rhetoric will increasingly be reflected in trade policy, and the potential effects of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, which has increased uncertainty about future trading arrangements in Europe, a region where trade growth has been relatively strong.

The UK referendum result did not produce an immediately observable downturn in economic activity as measured by industrial production or employment; the main impact was a 13% drop in the exchange rate of the pound against the US dollar and an 11% decline in its value against the euro. Effects over the longer term remain to be seen. Economic forecasts for the UK in 2017 range from fairly optimistic to quite pessimistic. The forecast assumes an intermediate case, with a growth slowdown next year but not an outright recession.

According to latest estimates, world merchandise trade volume will grow more slowly than world GDP at market exchange rates in 2016 (1.7% compared to 2.2%)

Exports of developed countries are expected to outpace those of developing economies this year, 2.1% compared to 1.2%. On the import side, developing countries are expected to register sluggish growth of 0.4% compared to 2.6% for developed countries.

The biggest downward revision to imports from April forecast for 2016 applies to South America (-8.3% compared to -4.5% previously) as the recession in Brazil intensified. This was followed by North America, where import growth was revised down from 4.1% to 1.9% as GDP growth came in below earlier projections. Asian import growth was also scaled back to 1.6% from 3.2%, while forecast for Europe was revised upward from 3.2% to 3.7%.

Export growth in 2016 was downgraded for most regions, with the strongest revisions applied to Asia (0.3% compared to 3.4% in April) and North America (0.7% compared to 3.1%). Meanwhile, South Americas export growth is expected to be stronger than previously forecast (4.4% compared 1.9%), benefitting from favourable exchange rate movements. Even with the downward revision to estimates, risks to the forecast remain mostly on the downside.

A range of estimates have been provided for 2017 to reflect the increasingly uncertain relationship between trade and output growth. World trade growth could be as high as 3.1% next year if it regains some of its earlier dynamism. However, it could also be as low

Ceiling prices of 464 formulation fixed after announcement of NLEM, 2015 and Revised Schedule-I, resulting in savings of Rs 2288 crore for consumers
Sep 27,2016

Ceiling prices of 464 formulation (amounting to nearly 7000 different stock keeping units) have been fixed by the government after the announcement of National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2015 and Revised Schedule-I. This has resulted in effective savings to the consumers of the country Rs. 2288 Crore by way of reduced prices.

A section of the media had recently published a news item, stating that prices of 100 drugs may increase by 10% as they are now out of essentials list. The news item is misleading and is not in tune with the factual position.

The correct factual position is as under: -

Consequent to notification of National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Policy-2012 (NPPP-2012) on 7.12.2012 and notification of Drugs (Price Control) Order, 2013 (DPCO, 2013), all the medicines as specified in the NLEM-2011 were brought under price control. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare constituted a Core-Committee to revise the NLEM under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Department of Health Research and Dr. Y K Gupta, Professor and Head, Department of Pharmacology, AIIMS as the Vice Chairman. This Committee evaluated the medicines on the objective criteria for inclusion and deletion.

The criteria for deletion of medicines from National List of Essential Medicines is as follows:-

n++ The medicine has been banned in India.

n++ There are reports of concerns on the safety profile of a medicine.

n++ A medicine with better efficacy or favourable safety profiles and better cost-effective is now available.

n++ The disease burden for which a medicine is indicated is no longer a national health concern in India.

n++ In case of antimicrobials, if the resistance pattern has rendered a medicine ineffective in Indian context.

Based on the scientific criteria, Core Committee recommended inclusion of 106 medicines and deletion of 70 medicines from the earlier NLEM, 2011. The Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy entails the price control of only schedule-1 medicines which are included in the NLEM. The medicines, which ceased to be part of NLEM, 2015 and Schedule-1, will only be monitored as non-scheduled medicines. Non-scheduled medicines are allowed an increase of upto 10% in the prices every year, which is monitored by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

In the detailed analysis of the number of medicines deleted and added in the Schedule-1, therapeutic category-wise in the revised NLEM, 2015, (indicated in Annexures) shows that there are sufficient number of medicines in each of the categories. These scheduled medicines represent a wide range of medicines for different therapeutic groups and will help in promoting medicines with better efficiency and favourable safety profiles, which are now under price control due to their inclusion in NLEM, which is in the public interest.

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