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Resolution of more than 100 cases under MAP and Agreement on terms and conditions of First ever Bilateral APA involving India and USA
Nov 17,2016

The Bilateral Competent Authority Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) / Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) meeting between India and USA was held in Washington DC, USA during the last week of October, 2016. The discussions in the meeting were focussed on resolving MAP cases pending for a long time and to achieve significant developments in Bilateral APA Process.

During the meeting, 66 MAP cases relating to Transfer Pricing issues and 42 MAP cases relating to Treaty Interpretation issues were agreed to be resolved successfully. The total amount that was locked-up in dispute in these cases is approximately Rs.5,000 crore and these cases were related to Assessment Years ranging from AY 1999-2000 to AY 2011-12. The resolved cases pertain to various issues like transfer pricing adjustments made to the international transactions in the nature of Payment of Royalty, Payment of Management Fees, Cost Contribution Arrangements, Engineering Design Services, Contract R&D Services, Investment Advisory Services, Marketing Support Services, Software Development Services, IT enabled Services (both BPO and KPO services) etc. and treaty interpretative issues in the nature of Presence of Permanent Establishment (PE) in India and Profit Attribution to such PEs, disputes pertaining to royalty income v/s business income of foreign companies, etc.

Further, during the meeting, the two Competent Authorities reached an agreement on the terms and conditions of the first ever Bilateral APA involving India and USA. Though India started its Bilateral APA process with the USA by accepting applications from the Indian taxpayers from FY 2012-13, the USA started its Bilateral Process with India only in February 2016 by way of accepting applications from US taxpayers. Within a short span of 8 months, the Agreement has been reached upon in the first ever Bilateral APA involving India and USA.

The speedy resolution of cases and agreement on Bilateral APA due to effective mechanism of development of mutual trust and cooperation between the Competent Authorities of two countries would really be a positive factor in creating a conducive atmosphere for investments and business by US Companies in India.

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Moodys Affirms Indias Baa3 Rating; Maintains Positive Outlook
Nov 17,2016

Moodys Investors Service (Moodys) has affirmed the Government of Indias Baa3 issuer and senior unsecured ratings and maintained the positive outlook on the rating. Moodys has also affirmed Indias P-3 short-term local currency rating.

The decision to maintain a positive outlook on the Baa3 rating rather than assigning a stable outlook to the rating at either Baa3 or Baa2 reflects two drivers:

- Economic and institutional reforms introduced since the positive outlook was assigned, and potentially forthcoming, continue to offer a reasonable expectation that Indias growth will outperform that of its peers over the medium term and that further improvements in its macro-economic and institutional profile will be achieved.

- However, the reform effort to date has not yet achieved the conditions that would support an upgrade to Baa2, in particular in accelerating private investment to support high, stable growth, without which the governments debt burden -- a key constraint on the rating -- is likely to remain high for a sustained period.

RATINGS RATIONALE

Moodys assigned a positive outlook to Indias Baa3 rating in April 2015 to reflect our view that Indias policymakers were establishing a framework that would likely allow the countrys growth to continue to outperform that of its peers over the medium term, and improve its macro-economic, infrastructure and institutional profile to levels commensurate with a higher rating.

Having assessed progress made since then, Moodys conclusion is that important steps have been taken to strengthen Indias institutions. However, thus far, the policy effort has not delivered a sufficiently clear prospect of the reform dividends -- sustained, high growth and the promise of a reduction in the countrys debt burden -- to support an upgrade.

Moodys still expects that the measures taken to date, together with further reforms, will in time achieve those objectives and support an upgrade to Baa2. However, a further period is needed to assess how the reform program will evolve and the likely impact of recent and potential future reforms on growth and, over time, on Indias debt burden.

RATIONALE FOR MAINTAINING THE POSITIVE OUTLOOK

The positive outlook denotes Moodys expectation that, over time, Indias credit metrics will likely shift to levels consistent with a Baa2 rating. In particular, the outlook reflects our expectation that continued policy reform implementation will allow balanced growth to support a reduction in the government debt burden, currently a constraint on Indias rating.

A broad range of policies have been implemented that are conducive to moderate inflation and limited current account deficits. In addition, a number of policy reforms, if effective, would lead to higher investment and more efficient savings.

In particular, the passage and ongoing implementation of a range of economic reform measures, including the Goods and Services Tax and reform of the bankruptcy code, points to improvements in government effectiveness. This assessment is also supported by higher rankings in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index and World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators.

Thus far, private investment has not picked-up in response to the governments measures, denoting limited policy effectiveness. Investment has been constrained by high leverage in some sectors, a relatively unfavorable global environment and, in some cases, limited access to finance. Businesses are also likely to have opted to wait for more certainty about the tangible implications of reforms on their operating environment.

Policy reforms are still relatively recent with material uncertainty about the effectiveness of measures already implemented and whether momentum will sustain. The coordination and alignment of objectives between different parts of the government and the private sector poses implementation challenges.

RATIONALE FOR AFFIRMING THE Baa3 RATING

Indias core credit strengths are its size and growth potential, which are amongst the highest of Moodys-rated sovereigns and provide key support to its Baa3 rating.

Low incomes constrain Indias sovereign credit profile by limiting the governments revenue base and adding to its social and development spending requirements. However, incomes are growing. GDP per capita in India was 11% of the US levels on a Purchasing Power Parity basis in 2015 -- still well below the level in other Baa-rated sovereigns. But this level marks an increase from 6.6% of US levels in 2005 and 9.2% in 2010.

In an environment of lackluster global trade which we expect to continue, Indias very large domestic markets provide a relative competitive advantage compared to other, smaller and more trade-reliant economies.

As the economy shifts towards higher value-added and higher productivity growth, incomes will continue to rise faster than in most other economies. Combined with the very large size of the economy which prevents high concentration and hence vulnerability to sector-specific shocks, higher incomes will bolster economic resilience.

Indias significantly reduced and now very low external vulnerability also contributes to resilience by sheltering the economy from abrupt changes in financing conditions. The marked narrowing of current account deficits, to around 0.5-1.5% of GDP, from as high as nearly 5% of GDP in 2013 is partly accounted for by the lower cost of energy imports and policy measures that have dis-incentivized gold imports, which would outlast fluctuations in commodity prices.

Together with marked increases in Foreign Direct Investment, which now provides full financing of the current account deficit, this indicates limited external vulnerability.

However, India continues to display a number of features which constrain the credit rating.

First, year to year, incomes and consumption remain more vulnerable to negative shocks than in other Baa-rated sovereigns. With low per capita incomes at around $6,000 on a PPP basis limit, households have very limited capacity to absorb negative income shocks, whether domestic, external or weather related.

For instance, monsoon rains are critical for Indias agricultural sector given that almost half of the countrys farm land is not irrigated. Half of Indias overall consumption comes from rural sector and a major portion of rural incomes is dependent on agriculture.

In addition, the governments debt burden is high and is likely to remain so for some time. Room to reduce the deficit quickly is limited. Wages and salaries account for about 50% of total expenditure with a large, once in 10 years, increase in central government compensation just implemented. The shift towards cash-based benefit transfers, if effective, will help reduce some of the current inefficiencies of current spending. However, more rapid cuts in spending for instance through reductions in public investment outlays compared to current plans would have a negative economic impact.

Meanwhile, on the revenue side, Indias large low-income population limits the governments tax revenue base. At 20.9% of GDP in 2015, general government revenues were markedly lower than the 27.1% median for Baa-rated sovereigns. Although the implementation of GST and other measures aimed at enhancing income declarations and tax collection will help widen and boost revenues, the effects will only materialize over time and their magnitude is uncertain so far.

As a result, the general government deficits will remain sizeable and any reduction in Indias government debt burden will largely rely on robust nominal GDP growth. We expect that the debt-to-GDP ratio will hover around the current levels, at 68.6% in 2015, before falling gradually as nominal GDP growth is sustained and revenue-broadening and expenditure efficiency-enhancing measures take effect.

The banking sector also continues to pose material contingent liability risks to the soverei

Borrower Overleverage Warrants Course Correction from MFIs
Nov 17,2016

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) says that if money flow does not fully normalise by 4QFY17, Tier 1 capital of few microfinance institutions (MFIs) could near regulatory minimum levels. Ind-Ras analysis indicates that a section of joint liability group (JLG) borrowers could be overleveraged. Moreover, overcrowding of MFIs in some highly penetrated states may adversely affect MFIs asset quality, especially with low growth in new-to-microfinance borrowers.

Demonetisation to Inculcate Banking Habits Once Short-Term Liquidity Pressure Eases: The agency expects MFI borrowers to reprioritise their expenses on account of a cash flow mismatch in the next few weeks. This would lead to an increase in one-month overdues of many MFIs. If money flow does not fully normalise by 4QFY17, Tier 1 capital of few MFIs could near regulatory minimum levels. Ind-Ras analysis indicates that most MFIs have liquidity in the form of unencumbered cash and unavailed bank lines to meet debt obligations for 30-60 days in the event of business disruption. The agency expects banking habits to improve in the long term, as currency flow resumes.

Borrowers Leverage Approaching Serviceability Limits: In Ind-Ras opinion, a typical two-income JLG borrower household could service INR50,000-INR60,000 of debt in over two years. The peak leverage of a section of JLG borrowers is approaching these levels. In 1HFY17, the level of the real income growth of rural borrowers was almost the same as the rural consumer price index, indicating that the ticket size growth rate of existing borrowers should moderate to contain the impact of borrowers rising leverage.

The growth in the gross loan portfolio (GLP) of MFIs in nine of top 10 states was driven more by an increase in ticket size than by a rise in penetration (clients serviced per branch). This indicates an uptrend in leverage in these states. Wage rate-based annual income to annual EMI ratio stands at 1.8x-2.0x for the highest leveraged states such as Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha and at 5x for the lowest leveraged states such as Kerala.

Rising Risk of Unreported Multiple Borrowings in Some States: Ind-Ra believes that the continued focus of MFIs on some of the highest penetrated states such as West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka has increased the risk of unreported multiple borrowings in such states. Hence, the chance of a surge in delinquencies is high in these states. The agencys analysis of penetration indicates that West Bengal is the highest penetrated state, followed by Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Steady Rise in Delinquency Indicates Stress in Some Regions: Ind-Ra believes that the percentage of one-month overdue loans (portfolio at risk greater than 30 days (PAR >30)), as reported by MFIs, underestimate the actual default rate of borrowers because of the base effect. The currently reported PAR > 30 numbers have become artificially low because of the accelerated growth registered by MFIs last year. Ind-Ras estimate of PAR > 30 for end-1QFY17, based on the base of the disbursement in 1QFY16 and 2QFY16, indicates that PAR > 30 crossed 1% in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, and is in fact close to 2% for Gujarat.

Nine of Top 12 MFIs Need Higher Capital to Account for Low-Quality Geographical Mix: Five of the top 12 MFIs analysed by Ind-Ra have low geographical diversification and are exposed to regions with high default expectations. These five MFIs had a GLP of INR96bn at end-1QFY17. Four MFIs, with a GLP of INR181bn, have granular geographical distribution and are present in regions with low default expectations. Based on the geographical diversification and riskiness of the covered geographies, the current capital levels of nine MFIs may be inadequate to cover extreme portfolio stress, a requirement for higher rating levels.

Idiosyncratic Risk Keeps Spreads Commanded by MFIs Wider Compared With Similar-Rated NBFCs: The weighted average credit rating of MFIs improved to A- in FY16 from BBB- in FY14; however, the spreads commanded by similarly rated NBFCs over 10-year government securities are tighter than those commanded by MFIs. In Ind-Ras assessment, the key reason for the non-convergence of spreads is the high idiosyncratic risk faced by MFIs due to the socio-political importance of their borrowers.

Credit Assessment and Operational Practices Need to be Tightened: The agency believes that interpretations of the two MFI lender norms, low correlation between borrower cycle and ticket size, among other practices, could result in adverse borrower selection. The key examples of operational lacunae are non-verification of Aadhaar, involvement of agents due to portfolio build-up pressure and prepayments leading to faster introduction of borrowers to higher ticket size.

JLG Loans to Remain Mainstay; Product Development Key to Growth: The microfinance portfolio of all MFIs stood at INR670bn in FY16 compared with INR227bn in FY11, with penetration (non-unique borrowers) increasing to 32.5m from 17.6m. The sector receives regulatory support and preference for financial inclusion (8 of the 10 SFBs approved were MFIs). Ind-Ra opines that MFIs are likely to play a pivotal role in providing the large informal income segment, with estimated credit demand of INR 10trn, access to formal financing, and this may, in turn, provide MFIs new avenues for future growth by designing new products for this segment.

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Low Probability of Rate Cut Despite Easing Inflation
Nov 17,2016

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) expects the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to maintain status quo in its upcoming monetary policy review in December 2016, despite the downward trend in retail inflation witnessed over the past four consecutive months. Ind-Ra believes the RBI cut the policy rate in the October 2016 review in anticipation of retail inflation easing in the ensuing months. In other words, as the RBI front-loaded the rate cut, it may now like to wait and watch how the retail price inflation trajectory evolves before taking any further decision on the policy rate. Also, the RBI may watch closely the impact of demonetisation which has led to a surge in the bank deposits. The RBI would now expect banks to pass on the decline in their MCLR to borrowers/customer. Ind-Ra believes the latest print of inflation data in combination with demonetisation will aid the ongoing positive momentum in the domestic bond market.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) moderated to 4.20% in October from 4.39% in September 2016. Wholesale Price Index (WPI) moderated to 3.4% in October 2016 from 3.6% in the previous month. Both CPI and WPI moderated in October 2016, primarily led by further softening in food price inflation, which is along the expected lines. Retail food inflation moderated to 3.3% yoy in October 2016 from 3.96% in the previous month. This was because of a sharp decline in the prices of pulses together with a moderation in the prices of vegetables and fruits. Retail pulses inflation declined to 4.1% in October from 14.3% in September 2016 with the kharif crop harvest gradually coming into the market. Wholesale inflation in pulses moderated to 4.7% in October from 5.06% in the previous month. The more pronounced decline in retail pulses inflation is because wholesale prices had already reacted to the new arrival, as evidenced by the sharp decline in September pulses inflation over August 2016. Wholesale pulses inflation had dropped to 24% in September 2016 from 34.2% in the previous month.

Food items such as sugar, eggs, meat and fish still remain areas of concern, notwithstanding the declining trend in the overall food component in both wholesale and retail inflation. Cereals prices are another potential area of worry. Cereals inflation in the wholesale market softened to 6.13% in October from 9.51% in August 2016; however, it has increased to 4.4% in the retail market from 4.1% for the same months.

Ind-Ra believes that food inflation will remain soft in the coming months in the wake of a good kharif harvest and setting in of winter. However, the disruption caused by demonetisation of INR500 and INR1,000 notes could lead to some temporary spike in food inflation. Wholesale fuel inflation further increased to 6.2% in October 2016 from 5.6% in the previous month. This is a big jump from the 1.6% fuel inflation in August 2016. Wholesale manufactured food products inflation came in at 10.5% in October 2016, which is the fourth consecutive month of double-digit inflation since July 2016. This suggests although the moderation in cyclical components of food inflation such as fruits, vegetables and pulses has positively impacted food inflation, upside risks to inflation cannot be altogether ruled out.

The impact of governments measures is likely to be disinflationary as economic activity witnesses a downward bias. This may open up room for further monetary accommodation later, once the full impact of demonetisation of currency manifests. As a result, despite the recent surge in global bond yields, domestic bond yields have softened sharply (30bp-50bp) across the curve this week. The shorter end of bond curve is poised to benefit as banks prefer investing in short tenor assets while the system transitions to new currency notes. The longer end of the curve, while continuing to exhibit a softening bias, will be more reflective of global risk preferences and outlook on the US Fed rate trajectory.

Global volatilities and shift in risk preference have kept the rupee trading range wide - as investors internalise both global and domestic developments. The recent retail inflation reading does not significantly alter the domestic outlook. However, with increased probabilities of a Fed rate hike in the December 2016 policy - the dollar index has surged to 100.23 from 97.5 since 1 November 2016. This will keep the rupee trading with a weakening bias in the near term. Ind-Ra, however, believes that the better placed domestic fundamentals will aid resilience of rupee, compared to other emerging market currencies.

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Present pricing mechanism for domestically produced natural gas is formula based
Nov 17,2016

The selling price of domestically produced natural gas is determined as per the New Domestic Gas Price Guidelines 2014 issued vide notification dated 25 October 2014. The gas prices presently are USD 2.50 /MMBTU on Gross Calorific Value (GCV) basis for the period 01 October 2016 to 31 March 2017. The production costs of companies vary from field to field depending upon the area, logistics, complexity, onland or offshore etc. ONGC and OIL have not incurred any losses. They have posted profits in their accounts for last several years. Profit after Tax of OIL and ONGC are Rs. 2330.11 crore and Rs. 16003.6 crore respectively for 2015-16.

The present pricing mechanism is formula based and has been worked out considering the volumes and prices prevailing at major international markets such as Henry Hub, National Balancing Point, Alberta and Russia. The formula has been finalized considering the requirements of producing and consuming sectors. The Government has provided marketing and pricing freedom with a cap on gas production from difficult areas. In respect of natural gas production, the operating cost for ONGC and OIL for 2015-16 (including statutory levies) is US$ 2.02/mmbtu and US$ 1.53/mmbtu respectively.

Royalty and other statutory levies applicable to Exploration and Production companies including ONGC and OIL are as per the rates specified by the notifications issued by Union Government from time to time.

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Insurance Cover For Railway Passengers
Nov 17,2016

An Optional Travel Insurance Scheme on a pilot basis for one year has been launched w.e.f 01 September 2016 for the railway passengers who book e-ticket through official website of Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). Under the scheme reserved passengers who expire or are disabled permanently or partially due to train accident and untoward incidents during train journey will be entitled to sum assured as per the details given below. The objective behind the scheme is to maximize compensation to the passengers for the loss caused to them by train accident and untoward incidents.

IRCTC which is a wholly owned undertaking of Ministry of Railways has entered into an agreement with three Insurance Companies through Limited Tender, namely

(i) Shriram General Insurance Company,

(ii) ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company, &

(iii) Royal Sundaram General Insurance

The amount of compensation to be given to passengers are as follows

(i) In case of Death- ₹ 10 lakh

(ii) Permanent Total Disability - ₹ 10 Lakh

(iii) Permanent Partial Disability - ₹ 7.5 Lakh

(iv) Hospitalization Expenses for Injury - ₹ 2 Lakh &

(v) Transportation of mortal remains - ₹ 10 Thousand.

The insurance cover will cover all reserved classes (SL, 1AC, 2AC, 3AC) and trains except passenger trains & Sub-Urban trains for tickets booked online on the IRCTC website. Personal belongings are not covered under the said scheme.

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Assistance to Tamil Nadu for Purchase of Turmeric Boilers
Nov 17,2016

Government through the Spices Board provides assistance to the turmeric growers for installing turmeric polishers under the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH). As per the scheme, 35% of the actual cost of the turmeric polisher subject to a maximum of Rs. 87,500/- is provided as subsidy to SC, ST, small, marginal & Women farmers and Rs.62500/- as subsidy to other farmers in the major turmeric growing states including Tamil Nadu. During 2016-17, out of Rs.10.80 lakhs allotted for Turmeric Polisher under MIDH to Spices Board, an amount of Rs.2.62 lakhs has been allotted to Tamil Nadu.

Government through Spices Board also implements the scheme n++Export Oriented Production, Export Development & Promotion of Spicesn++, under which inter alia assistance is provided to the turmeric growers for installing turmeric boilers at the rate of 50% of the actual cost of the turmeric boilers, subject to a maximum of Rs.1.50 lakhs. During 2016-17, no financial assistance has been provided to the farmers in the turmeric growing areas of Tamil Nadu as of now.

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Revamped Aadhaar Toll-Free Helpline No. 1947 Launched
Nov 17,2016

With the growing use of Aadhaar in transactions related to services like Banking, Government Welfare Schemes, etc., the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), launched a revamped version of its Toll-free helpline number: 1947, to help residents get quick access to information about Aadhaar. The free of cost helpline 1947 will be available 24x7 throughout the year on IVRS mode, while Call-Centre agents will be available from 7 am to 11 pm (Monday to Saturday). On Sundays, agents will answer calls from 8 am to 5 pm. On an average the helpline number handles about 1.5 lakh calls per day. n++Our toll-free helpline 1947, which has been revamped to handle more incoming calls, brings Aadhaar closer to everyone. It can be accessed through mobile or landline and will be especially beneficial in these times when the Aadhaar number is being increasingly used in the banking sector to identify individuals,n++ said Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Chief Executive Officer, UIDAI. The Aadhaar toll-free helpline 1947 will among other things, enable residents to locate an Aadhaar Enrolment Centre, know generation status of an Aadhaar number (after enrolment) and help retrieve Aadhaar details of any person who has lost his/her Aadhaar or hasnt received it through post. As Aadhaar is being used widely by people in the wake of the de-monetization exercise, UIDAI cautioned the public to clearly indicate purpose of providing photocopies of their Aadhaar letter to prevent misuse of the same. n++Photocopies of the Aadhaar letter are being submitted by the general public to banks. We urge them to clearly indicate the purpose for which they are submitting the same along with the date and time. This actually is a good practice whenever they submit photocopies of documents,n++ said Dr. Pandey.

n++However, as Aadhaar is a digitally verifiable identity and can be authenticated anytime, anywhere, the chances of its misuse are limited,n++ added Dr. Pandey.

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Reduce corporate tax to 25%, ASSOCHAM to Govt.
Nov 17,2016

In its pre-Budget presentation with the Finance Ministry, the ASSOCHAM has sought immediate reduction in the corporate tax to 25% to attract more investment in the country while for driving the consumption led demand, income tax for individuals should also be reduced along with upward revision in the exemption limit upto Rs 5 Lakhs.

The Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in its Pre-budget meeting with the Revenue Secretary Dr. Hasmukh Adhia made some important suggestions. The proposed multiple Good Service Tax (GST) rate structure could increase classification disputes. Therefore, the categorisation of products under each duty slab should be carefully done.

Corporate tax needs to be reduced to 25% to attract more investment in the country. The income tax rate for individuals to be reduced and threshold limit should be increased in view of the current situation prevailing in the country at the pre-budget meeting with the Revenue Secretary.

The Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in its Pre-budget meeting with the Revenue Secretary today made some important suggestions. The proposed multiple Good Service Tax (GST) rate structure could increase classification disputes. Therefore, the categorisation of products under each duty slab should be carefully done.

It said the committed investment link tax incentive for specifies period should be grant fathered under GST for the un-expired period of committed incentives.

During the initial period of two year after implementation of the GST penal provision should not be made applicable unless there are frauds cases, the chamber.

The tax administrative provision under the draft GST law are quite harsh and may leave to Inspector Raj and this need to modify in the final GST law.

The valuations of stop transfers and inter branch transaction need certainty in the GST law.

Inverted Duty structure under excise on pharmaceutical products needs to be corrected. The basic custom duty rate on some of the products like aluminium, copper, steel and polymer need to be reduced in the current scenario.

ASSOCHAM further suggested that corporate tax needs to be reduced to 25% to attract more investment in the country. The income tax rate for individuals to be reduced and threshold limit should be increased in view of the current situation prevailing in the country.

Demonetisation of currency notes of Rs. 500/1000 will have a short term adverse impact on demand on items for mass consumption hence duty rates for such products should be reduced in the next budget to revive the demand.

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Setting up of Industry Driven SRTMI
Nov 17,2016

Ministry of Steel is facilitating an Industry driven institutional mechanism namely Steel Research & Technology Mission of India (SRTMI), to facilitate joint collaborative research projects in the iron & steel sector in India. The salient features of SRTMI are as under:

n++ SRTMI is an industry driven initiative which has been setup as a Registered Society wherein Ministry of Steel is a facilitator.

n++ SRTMI will be governed and administered by a Governing Body comprising the steel CEOs, Domain Experts and a representative of Ministry of Steel.

n++ The executive functioning of SRTMI will be carried out by the Director, SRTMI, who will be assisted by a suitable/appropriate supporting structure.

n++ Initial corpus for setting up of SRTMI is Rs. 200 crore of which 50% is to be provided by Ministry of Steel and the balance by the participating steel companies.

n++ Thereafter, the centre will run on yearly contributions from the steel companies based on their turnover of the previous year.

The R&D investment of the leading steel companies in India in terms of percentage of their turnover ranges from 0.05 to 0.5% vis-n++-vis upto 1% in leading steel companies internationally. Some of the steel companies have also formulated their R&D masterplans to increase their R&D expenditure to 1% of their turnover. SRTMI is likely to enhance the R&D investments in the industry to international levels.

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Cabinet approves Status-cum-Progress Report and constitution of n++Special Committee for Inter-Linking of Riversn++
Nov 16,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the Status-cum-Progress Report and constitution of n++Special Committee for Inter-Linking of Riversn++ in compliance of Supreme Court judgment dated 27 February 2012 in the matter of Writ Petition (Civil) 512 of 2002: Networking of Rivers along with Writ Petition No. 668 of 2002.

Approval of the Union Cabinet will help in monitoring of the precious Inter-linking of River Projects to be carried out under National Perspective Plan 1980 of Government of India. The Status-cum-Progress Report of Special Committee for Inter-linking of Rivers will be submitted bi-annually for information of Cabinet, which will facilitate faster and appropriate decisions in the interest of the country as expeditiously as possible.

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Milk availability Per Capita with the Existing Level of 337 Gram is Likely to Go Up 500 Gram Per day by the Year 2021-22
Nov 15,2016

The Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that the hard labour extended by the people engaged in diary sector and unabated efforts of Central Government, India has achieved 4.2% average growth in milk production and has left behind the world average of 2.2%. During 2015-16 the growth in milk production in India has been 6.7%. The Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said it in the conference of stake holders related to dairy industry in National Dairy Development Board, here, today. Speaking on the occasion the Union Minister informed that owing to the enhancement in milk production the availability of milk statistics based on daily basis per capita with the existing level of 337 gram is likely to go up 500 gram daily by the year 2021-22. A sum of Rs. 2242 crore will be incurred on this scheme. Shri Singh said that it is also very much imperative to create awareness and to improve veterinary services.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that India ranks first in milk production in the world for last fifteen years and credit for this goes to the small milk producers. Agriculture Minister added that demand of milk and milk made products is increasing and it is likely to go up by 24 crore tonnes by the year 2025.

The Minister said that it is extremely necessary to utilize scientific outputs and sophisticated technique in dairy because there is no enhancement of milk productivity in spite of the availability of best species of bovines in India.

Shri Singh said that Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has taken a number of steps to increase the production of milk in which Gokul Mission is very much prominent. Under this mission for the year 2014-15 to 2016-17 a provision of Rs. 500 crore has been made. NDDB with the assistance of World Bank and Central Government has taken several measures under National Dairy Scheme Phase - I, a centrally sponsored scheme. It includes a genetic improvement among bovines, betterment of rural infrastructure in dairy and to provide better opportunities for milk vendors. The initiation of NDDB -I had been made in 14 states and at present it is being carried out in 18 states along with Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Telangana.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh further added that an enhancement of more than 6% in milk production sector is necessary for a true development meant for this sector. In order to achieve this object, improved technologies, capacity building, marketing, scientific livestock management, knowhow related to milk production and better arrangement of loans is necessary so as to operate a dairy systematically and in a balanced way. Agriculture Minister opined that the youth and females are enjoying handsome employment opportunities in dairy sector. Shri Singh also said that by the year 2022 the income of the farmers is to be made as double and to achieve this target the dairy sector is to play a very important role.

Thereafter, the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare participated in the programme organized by the Society of Pesticides Science India at National Agricultural Science Complex, Pusa, New Delhi. Speaking on this occasion, Shri Singh added that various disorders prevalent on crops and pests have cast a very serious adverse impact on food grains production. Owing to these pests and maladies the crop production on global level is reducing by 15 to 25% every year. It is estimated that on various stages of agricultural production and their storage 35% chunk of total crop production is damaged due to pests, diseases, weeds, rats, birds as well as nematodes etc. India ranks on 10th place in the world with regard to the consumption of pesticides. This is the country that consumes lowest degree of chemicals (pesticides). Earlier the use of pesticides rate was 2 to 5 kg per hectare which has been reduced from 100 to 200 grams per hectare. For a few last years on account of the remains of pesticides in the crops, an adverse impact has affected the export of agricultural products. Therefore, it is also very necessary to have this scenario monitored.

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CPI Inflation eases to 4.2% in October 2016
Nov 15,2016

The all-India general CPI inflation dipped to 4.20% in October 2016 (new base 2012=100), compared with 4.39% in September 2016. The corresponding provisional inflation rate for rural area was 4.78% and urban area 3.54% in October 2016, as against 5.04% and 3.64% in September 2016. The core CPI inflation was nearly flat 4.81% in October 2016 from 4.77% in September 2016. The cumulative CPI inflation rose to 5.24% in April-October 2016 compared with 4.58% in April-October 2015.

Among the CPI components, inflation of food and beverages declined to 3.71% in October 2016 from 4.12% in September 2016 contributing to the fall in CPI inflation. Within the food items, the inflation eased for pulses and products to 4.11%, fruits 4.42%, oils and fats 3.80%, sugar and confectionery 23.62% and spices 7.40%. On the other hand, inflation moved up for vegetables (-) 5.74%, prepared meals, snacks, sweets etc to 6.17%, cereals and products 4.40%, meat and fish 6.16% and milk and products 4.42% in October 2016.

The inflation for housing was steady at 5.15%, while that for miscellaneous items inched up to 4.58% in October 2016. Within the miscellaneous items, the inflation for transport and communication rose to 3.41%, education 5.16%, health 4.73%, and household goods and services 4.39%, while eased for personal care and effects to 7.20% in October 2016.

The inflation for clothing and footwear was flat at 5.24% in October 2016, while the CPI inflation of fuel and light eased to 2.81% in October 2016.

The CPI inflation figure for September 2016 has been revised upwards to 4.39% from 4.31% reported earlier.

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NHAI initiates DPRS for Logistic Efficiency Enhancement Programme (LEEP) under Bharatmala Pariyojna
Nov 15,2016

Under a programme entitled Logistic Efficiency Enhancement Programme (LEEP) aimed to enhance the freight transportation in India through improving cost, time, tracking and transferability of consignments through infrastructure, procedural and Information Technology (IT) interventions, Consultants are being tasked to carry out critical examination of existing logistic infrastructure and destination of freight movement in the country, and 44 freight corridors (Economic Corridors), Inter corridors and feeder routes to reduce cost and time of freight movement. These are proposed to be developed by taking an end-to-end corridor view, rather than stretch-by-stretch road construction view to ensure consistent infrastructure along the corridor, as per discussion between NHAI and Government.

As a first step towards this task, preparation of Detailed Project Reports is being undertaken by NHAI. In the first phase, DPRs of identified 15000 km is proposed to be prepared. In LOT1, NHAI has invited bids for preparation of DPRs for 15,000 km of length in the country. Bids have been invited in 45 packages of about 300 Km length each.

In order to drastically reduce the time taken for conducting surveys, it has been decided to use latest technologies such as LiDAR, Satellite mapping and Ground Penetration Radar (GPR) in preparation of DPRs. This will also help to make data collection comprehensive with accurate measure points and increase the safety for project personnel.

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WPI inflation declines to 3.39% in October 2016
Nov 15,2016

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation eased for the second straight month to 3.39% in October 2016 from 3.6% in September 2016 and 3.9% in August 2016. The decline in WPI inflation was mainly driven by dip in inflation for primary articles, while inflation for fuel & power and manufactured products group moved up in October 2016. Further, the unfavourable base effect restricted sharp decline in inflation in October 2016.

Inflation of primary articles dipped to 3.3% in October 2016 from 4.8% in September 2016. The inflation for manufactured products rose to 2.7% in October 2016. Further, the inflation for fuel items accelerated further to 6.2% in October 2016 from 5.6% in September 2016.

As per major commodity group-wise, inflation eased for foodgrains, fruits, fish, mutton, spices, fibres, oilseeds, raw rubber, flowers, grain mill products, sugar, oil cakes, edible oils, textiles, wood and products, and paper & products in October 2016. On the other hand, inflation rose for vegetables, milk, iron ore, copper ore, crude petroleum, mineral oils, dairy products, tea & coffee products, cashew kernel, leather products, rubber and plastic products, chemical products, non-metallic mineral products, and basic metals in October 2016.

Inflation of food items (food articles and food products) eased to 6.3% in October 2016 from 7.5% in September 2016. Meanwhile, inflation of non-food items (all commodities excluding food items) moved up to 2.1% in October 2016 from 1.8% in September 2016.

Core inflation (manufactured products excluding foods products) rose to 1.1% in October 2016 from 0.6% in September 2016.

The contribution of primary articles to the overall inflation, at 3.39%, was 96 basis points (bps) in October 2016 compared with 137 bps in September 2016. The contribution of manufactured products was 151 bps compared with 140 bps, while that of fuel product group was 92 bps against 83 bps in September 2016.

The contribution of food items (food articles and food products) to inflation fell to 1.97 bps in 3.39% in October 2016 compared with 233 bps to 3.57% in September 2016. Meanwhile, the contribution of non-food items (all commodities excluding food items) was 144 bps in October 2016 compared with 126 bps in September 2016.

As per the revised data, the inflation figure for August 2016 was revised up to 3.9% compared with 3.7% reported provisionally.

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