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Increases in wage rates significantly higher than Inflation rate: PHD Chamber
Sep 14,2016

Minimum wage for unskilled workforce has witnessed a significantly increasing trend as compared to increase in inflation rate (CPI Inflation) in majority of the states in India, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

At the all India level, the minimum wage rate increase for unskilled workforce during the years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 was at an average of 11.17%, while the average CPI Inflation rate was at 6.13% during the same period. Thereby the increase in wage rate was of 5.04 percentage points higher as compared to increase in CPI inflation.

The states of Kerala, Assam, Odisha and Maharashtra witnessed more than 20% higher increase in minimum wage rate for unskilled workforce as compared with CPI inflation.

In the state of Kerala the minimum wage rate increased from Rs. 85.20 per day in 2012-13 to Rs. 150 per day for the years 2013-14 and 2014-15 and further reaching to Rs. 275.46 per day for 2015-16, thus the average increase in wage rate for the three consecutive years was 53.23%. While the CPI inflation for the same period (2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16) was 9.01%, 5.98% and 3.84% with an average inflation rate of 6.28%. Thereby, the increase in wage rate was of 46.95 percentage points higher than the increase in CPI inflation.

Certain states like Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Gujarat witnessed a moderate increase in wage rate, varying in the range of 10.77 to 18 percentage points as compared to CPI inflation.

The state of Tamil Nadu had minimum wages for unskilled workforce constant at Rs. 85 per day for the years 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 while for the 2015-16 the minimum wages increased to Rs. 146 per day, the average wage rate for the three years stands at 23.92%. The CPI inflation rate in the state was 6.40% in 2013-14, 6.15% in 2014-15 and 5.22% in 2015-16 and the average for the three years stands at 5.92%. Thus, the increase in wage rate was of 18 percentage points higher as compared to increase in CPI inflation.

On the other hand states like West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana witnessed a marginal increase in wage rate with a more or less consistent increase CPI inflation rate ranging from 1.1 to 8.98 percentage points.

The state of West Bengal had minimum wages fixed at Rs. 112.50 per day for 2012-13, Rs. 131.40 per day for 2013-14, Rs. 150.24 per day in 2014-15 and Rs. 171 per day in 2015-16. The average wage rate increase for the three years stands at 14.99%. The CPI inflation rate in the state for the same years was 10.10% in 2013-14, 2.75% in 2014-15 and 5.19% in 2015-16 and the average for the three years stands at 6.01%. Thus the increase in wage rate was of 8.98 percentage points higher than the increase in CPI inflation.

In the state of Delhi the wage rate for 2012-13 was Rs. 279 per day, further being constant at Rs. 311 per day for the years 2013-14 and 2014-15, while for 2015-16 the minimum wages increased to Rs. 316 per day. The average increase in wage rate stands at 4.36% for the three years. The CPI inflation rate in the state for the same years was 8.28% in 2013-14, 4.91% in 2014-15 and 4.09% in 2015-16 and the average CPI inflation for the three years was 5.76%. Thus, the increase in wage rate was of (-) 1.40 percentage points lesser than the increase in CPI inflation.

The state of Rajasthan had a wage rate of Rs. 147 per day in 2012-13 reaching to a constant rate of Rs. 166 per day for 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, the average wage rate increase for the three years was at 4.31%. The CPI inflation rate in the state for the same years was 7.92% in 2013-14, 6.85% in 2014-15 and 4.61% in 2015-16 and the average for the three years stands at 6.46%. Thus, the increase in wage rate was of (-) 2.15 percentage points lesser than the increase in CPI inflation.

With the advent of Make in India policy we suggest a calibrated approach to be followed in order to set the wage rates for the workforce and to create an efficient and conducive economic environment to expand production possibility frontiers and to generate employment opportunities.

We believe a greater synchronisation of the policy environment would go a long way to provide fruitful outcomes of various dynamic reforms announced by the Government during the recent years.

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Moderating Retail Inflation Raises Monetary Easing Hopes; Poor IIP Reflects Sluggish Investment
Sep 14,2016

The sharp fall in retail inflation in August 2016 has accentuated the rate cut proposition in the next quarter itself. However, it should be taken with a pinch of salt as a large part of food inflation is structural in nature, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The retail inflation for August 2016 at 5.05%, came in lower than Ind-Ras expectation of 5.30%, primarily driven by a sharp decline in food prices.

This has made the central banks target of bringing retail price inflation down to 5.0% by March 2017 achievable; however, it may be early to rejoice given the baffling behaviour of retail inflation in the past. The cyclical components either aggravate or soften it as is evident from the movement in wholesale prices. Wholesale food price inflation was 5.3% during FY96-FY05 but increased to 9.2% during FY06-FY16. Clearly, the fight on the inflation front, particularly food inflation, is far from over.

Ind-Ra further opines the industrial growth will not return to a sustained and high growth path so long as excess capacity in the manufacturing sector remains and private sector investment cycle does not revive. The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) contracted 2.4% in July 2016 as against the growth of 2.0%yoy in June and was much lower than Ind-Ras expectation of 1.2%.

The agency believes scope for the Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) action on rate front appears skewed towards December policy review than October 2016, although the sharp fall in inflation from 6.1% in July 2016 is likely to accentuate the expectation of rate cut in the October policy review itself. The maturity of large FCNR B (foreign currency non-resident) deposits worth USD26bn, which is coming due in the next two months, is likely to be the litmus test for the currency as well as for the RBI. Moreover, the RBI would have better clarity on the retail inflation trajectory for the last quarter of the fiscal, US electoral outcomes and Federal Reserve rate trajectory by December 2016.

The IIP data for July has further reinforced the volatility in factory output. The IIP growth had turned positive in February and March 2016 but turned negative in April 2016. IIP witnessed a broad-based weakness in July 2016 with sharp growth moderation in mining and electricity, while manufacturing output (75.5% weight in IIP) contracted 3.4% in July 2016 (June: 0.7% yoy). The disconnect between IIP and industrial gross value added (GVA) data is making it increasingly difficult to discern the sectoral as well as overall industrial and manufacturing output growth trend.

Manufacturing growth according to IIP data was negative 0.8% while GVA in manufacturing was 9.1% in 1QFY17. It is true that the two are strictly not comparable as the former measures output while the latter measures value added. Nevertheless, such a divergence is inexplicable and, increasingly, IIP is failing to measure the manufacturing or industrial growth in the economy. The base year used for IIP calculation is 2004-05, while industrial GVA is based on 2011-12 prices. The use of 2004-05 means a lot of data relating to industrial/manufacturing output is not captured by the IIP.

At the use-base level, capital goods output continued its negative trend. Capital goods output contracted 29.6% yoy in July 2016 against a contraction of 16.3% yoy in June 2016. This reinforces the lacklustre investment demand in the economy. Basic and intermediate goods continued with the positive trend but growth rates moderated to 2.0% (June: 5.8%) and 3.4% (June: 5.7%) in July 2016. Consumer durables maintained the positive growth trend. Consumer non-durables contracted 1.7% yoy in July 2016 after the modest growth of 0.9% in the previous month. The positive growth in June 2016 was a deviation from the seven months of consecutive negative growth in consumer non-durables. This is reflective of the volatility evident in the overall IIP.

Retail food price inflation moderated to 5.9% in August 2016 from 8.4% in July 2016 led by a sharp-to-moderate fall in the prices of vegetables and pulses. Food prices in the previous months (April-July 2016) had remained above 6% primarily due to high inflation in fruits, vegetables and pulses. Vegetable prices moderated to 1.0% in August from 14.0% in July 2016. Prices of pulses moderated to 22.0% in August 2016 from 27.5% in the previous month. Sugar and fruits prices, however, increased to 24.8% (July: 21.9%) and 4.5% (July: 3.5%). Services inflation showed a slight uptick to 4.2% from 4.0% in July 2016 led by higher inflation in the personal care category (August: 8.3%; July: 7.3%).

The agency believes that last weeks unidirectional rally appears to have priced in benign inflation data, thus limiting scope for an incremental rally. Moreover, the spread between policy rate and overall yield curves have narrowed down sharply to 25bp-75bp from 75bp-125bp, owing to the INR1trn open market operation purchase, thus limiting scope for a sharp fall in yield. On the other hand, an uptick in global bond yields will likely keep the domestic market more submissive.

Amid global volatility in capital markets, the domestic currency has been anchored strongly on the back of a surge in investment flows in recent months and a benign current account balance. The low inflation would further solidify the fundamental state of the rupee. So, on a fundamental basis, the rupee is poised to benefit from the improved macroeconomic condition, but transitory volatility will emanate from a potential action by central banks in the developed economies.

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Bengaluru image among Fortune 500 firms sullied by Cauvery related agitation; losses up to Rs 25,000 cr-ASSOCHAM
Sep 14,2016

With widespread damage to the vital urban infrastructure, interruption in the transport including, roads, rail and air and inability of the workforce to safely move to and from offices and factories, Karnataka , particularly Bengaluru city, is estimated to have suffered a loss between Rs 22,000-25,000 crore due to Cauvery dispute related violence, apex industry body ASSOCHAM said today.

n++Violence in the state capital and other parts of Karnataka has severely dented the image of Bengaluru as Silicon Valley of India, home to almost all the Fortune 500 companies,n++ said ASSOCHAM while making a fervent appeal for peace in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

n++The way the violent incidents had spread is demoralizing the business and industrial community, particularly in the capital city of Karnataka. The image that India built around Bengaluru as its Silicon Valley is being sullied,n++ said ASSOCHAM secretary general, Mr D S Rawat.

n++The authorities in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu should not allow under any circumstances the law and order to be compromised. While the water is a basic requirement and an emotional issue, the situation is being exploited by miscreants, scaring away the peace loving workforce which has settled in both Bengaluru and Chennai from all over the country and even abroad,n++ said Mr Rawat.

According to ASSOCHAM, widespread loss would accrue to IT and ITES facilities due to poor attendance for the last several days. Besides, the inter-state tourism, particularly involving pilgrims, domestic travellers, has been affected. Cancellation of air tickets have also been reported to and from Bengaluru.

Likewise, industrial production, movement of cargo and retail trade including malls, cinema halls, restaurants, have been halted. n++All these losses would run between Rs 22,000 crore and Rs 25,000 crore, besides of course immense damage to the goodwill of the state as an attractive investment destination.n++

ASSOCHAM has also urged the Centre to effectively monitor the situation and ensure that peace is restored in the two states. n++A lot of damage has already been done to the trade and factory output with movement of the vehicles hit by the agitation which is taking violent shape. There is a huge stake for the countrys showpiece information technology in both Bengaluru and Chennai.n++

The strikes and bandhs should not be allowed to take violent shape and the law and order machinery should be geared up well in advance, with good amount of intelligence gathering, it said.

n++While we are selling ourselves to be the fastest growing economy of the world, we cannot afford the incidents which are taking place in the metropolitan cities. After all, the two states had built with a lot of hard work image of progressive areas, which should not be compromised at any cost.n++

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Dental doctors seek enhancement in the age of superannuation
Sep 14,2016

Senior Dental Doctors and Specialists working in Government of India approached the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh and sought his intervention against alleged discrimination towards them in the matter of age of superannuation.

A delegation led by Dr H. P. Singh, President, Central Government Dental Doctors Association handed over a memorandum to Dr Jitendra Singh in which it has been pointed out that whereas the Central Government, vide its order dated 31.05.2016, raised the superannuation age of Non-teaching Specialists sub-cadre, public health sub-cadre, GDMO sub-cadre of CHS to 65 years, the same rule somehow, did not become applicable to Dental Doctors working in Central Government. This has led to feeling of discrimination and grievance among the Central Government Dental Doctors, they said.

The memorandum also sought to note that out of 34 sanctioned posts of Dental Doctors all over India under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, at present only 24 posts are filled and occupied. In other words, this means that the grievance pertaining to the enhancement of retirement age to 65 years in order to make at par with the other doctors of Central Health Services is confined only to 24 doctors who happen to be from Dental Specialty working under the Central Government.

The delegation underlined that they had represented their grievance to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and were now approaching Dr Jitendra Singh.

Dr Jitendra Singh gave a patient hearing to the members of delegation and said that he would take up their grievance with the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

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CWC to draw up a new protocol of online collection of data
Sep 13,2016

The sixth meeting of Cauvery Supervisory Committee was held under the chairmanship of Secretary Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Shashi Shekhar. The committee took a detailed presentation from the Chief Secretaries of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry and the representative from Kerala. The committee tried to reach to a conclusion but Tamil Nadu and Karnataka did not agree to a particular figure of release of water which was based on scientific facts. In the meanwhile Supreme Court passed another interim order today while the meeting of committee was on. During the discussion it was found that certain information that were required were not available. Those information were related to unauthorized withdrawal of water at a time when it is not permitted. The committee did not wish to pass an order which is not backed by supportive data.

It has also been decided that Central Water Commission will draw up a new protocol of online collection of data related to rainfall and flow of water on real time basis which may be shared simultaneously with all the concerned states. The next meeting of the supervisory committee will be held on 19th September 2016. All the three states and Union Territory of Puducherry have been requested the submitt the relevant information and data by 15th September 2016.

Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu Dr P Rama Mohana Rao, Chief Secretary of Karnataka Shri Arvind Jadhav, Chief Secretary of Puducherry Shri Manoj Parida and senior officials from Kerala, Central Water Commission and Union Water Resources Ministry attended the meeting.

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LNG soon to be the fuel for barges : Haldia Dock earmarks land for LNG storage facilities
Sep 13,2016

The Haldia Dock Complex under Kolkata Port Trust has recently earmarked about 10 acres of land in the vicinity of Haldia Oil Jetty No. 1 for a period of 30 years for setting up of LNG storage facilities, with permission to lay pipelines and install unloading arms through tender cum auction. The project will be undertaken on land lease model by granting lease of land by middle of December, 2016. LNG facilities are expected to be developed within 24 months from date of allotment of land.

This is an important development in context of the recent efforts of the Ministry of Shipping to reduce logistics cost and achieve the COP21 targets on cutting down pollution by introducing the use of LNG as fuel for barges. Use of LNG is expected to save around 20 percent on fuel. Carbon Dioxide emissions are likely to get reduced by 20-25 percent and nitrogen/sulphur oxide emissions by 90 per cent. The government is therefore taking measures to facilitate the movement of LNG and its storage at places situated along the inland waterways. Only a few advanced countries are using LNG powered barges at present. Therefore in that sense, the development at Haldia Dock Complex can be seen as a very positive one.

The efforts to introduce LNG as barge fuel is part of the overall efforts to promote transport on inland waterways and coastal shipping. Inland Water Transport (IWT) is a cost effective and environment friendly system and a lot of importance is being accorded to it since the last two years. Work is already on for construction of terminals and other activities to facilitate navigation on river Ganga under the Jal Marg Vikas.

The Ministry of Shipping has been regularly holding discussions with Petronet LNG (PLL) and Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI). PLL is in the process of preparing a Detailed Feasibility Report for setting up LNG facilities at Haldia, Sahibganj, Patna and Ghazipur on NW-I (Ganga) as per an MoU signed by them with IWAI during the Maritime India Summit in Mumbai in April this year. In the last follow up meeting earlier this month, IWAI was requested to share the details of projections on the cargo and pattern of traffic on NW-1 as per a study conducted for the Jal Marg Vikas Project so as to enable PLL to estimate the demand for LNG. As a long term market for transportation of coal on LNG barges from the Eastern Coal Fields to various thermal power houses on Ganga, IWAI agreed to share with PLL the information they had gathered. The construction of LNG barges at Indian shipyards would be entitled to the 20 per cent subsidy through the ship building subsidy scheme whose guidelines have already been released by the Shipping Ministry.

PLL was also requested to list out in detail the infrastructure support needed for moving to LNG as fuel for barges and specify the milestone for achieving the activities required to be accomplished. The LNG storage hubs may be built along the river Ganga which would facilitate potential gas consumers in the hinterland also as LNG has the potential to replace LPG, Naphtha, and HFO fuel. It would serve a variety of industries such as metal, ceramic and glass, food processing, refractorys etc. as well as heavy mining machineries. LNG could even fuel the road transport sector.

Goa and Maharashtra also have a tremendous potential for introduction of LNG barges on their waterways. PLL was requested to explore the introduction of LNG barges for that region also. Similarly the option of LNG based vessels on NH-5 was also discussed in the meeting this month.

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Postal complaints in the country will be solved within 24 hours- Sinha
Sep 13,2016

Ministry of Communications launched India Post Help Centre and a Toll Free Number 1924 to address the grievances of people in the Country related to Department of Posts. Inaugurating the Help Centre here, Minister of Communications, Shri Manoj Sinha said that the move comes in the wake of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modis PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation) review meetings, where he exhorts the Union Ministers to actively address the grievances of the common man by setting up and strengthening Public Redressal Grievances Mechanism.

Shri Sinha said that the Help Centre has been launched in three languages -Hindi, English and Malayalam and gradually all regional languages will be included which are mentioned in the Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

He said, the Help Centre will be functioning from 8 A.M to 8 P.M on all working days except holidays. Shri Sinha said that soon, in every circle a nodal officer will be appointed to bring efficiency in redressal mechanism.

The Minister stressed that except in the case of policy decisions, all complaints related to postal services will be addressed within 24 Hours. Shri Sinha recalled that last month he had launched n++Twitter Sewan++ for addressing the complaints and concerns of common man and other stake-holders in the telecom and postal sectors, where on an average 100 complaints are received daily related to postal services. He said, the Department of Posts is one of the 8th largest Department/Ministry in terms of numbers of complaints received. A toll free helpline number 1924 would be available for customers from all over India from landline/mobile phone of service providers namely AirTel, Idea, Vodaphone, Telenor, Aircel, MTS, Reliance etc.

The complaints received from the complainant on toll free number 1924 would be registered in Computerized Customer Centre (CCC) Portal by the operators at the Dak Bhawan and the 11 digits ticket number would be provided to the complainants. If the complaint already registered, the complainant would be informed the status as viewed in CCC Portal. As soon as the complaint is generated on CCC Portal, the concerned post office will take immediate necessary action to resolve it and would upload the status.

All the Postal Circles will have a Control Room for monitoring and redressal of complaints. The Nodal Officer in each Circle will open the CCC Portal every day and check all the complaints beginning with n++100030 - n++n++ the Toll Free Complaintsn++ and will examine for quick disposal. The Circle Heads would direct to all the Post Offices concerned to ensure that they log in CCC Portal at the beginning of day and at the end of the day compulsorily.

The case disposal time is one working day subject to policy matters. The complainant would be informed, if it involves policy matter. A reasonable reply should be uploaded in the CCC Portal. The Circle will update the status of each such cases every 24 hrs. through email on adgpg@indiapost.gov.in. The name of Officers with email address and mobile number in each Circle who will be Nodal Officer, should be sent on email adgpg@indiapost.gov.in .CPMG should review the 1924 pending cases every day and in case of pendency going beyond 24 hours would give full details and convey his/her observation to PG Cell of Directorate which will provide weekly report to the Office of Secretary (Posts). The Circles would provide utmost priority and quick disposal of the complaints received through Toll Free Centre. All the Circles would propagate and give wide publicity of n++Toll Free Number 1924n++ within their jurisdiction through appropriate medium within budgetary limit.

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Enhancing Buffer Stock of Pulses to 20 LMT
Sep 13,2016

Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution today here brief the media about the initiatives taken by the Government to check the price rise of pulses.

The Minister said that the main reason for unprecedented price rise in pulses has been two years of deficit rainfall and consequently drought-like situation in the entire country. Due to this, the production of pulses was less as compared to that in previous years, as a result of which there was huge demand-supply gap. This provided an opportunity for middlemen and hoarders to stock and speculate the price of pulses.

Highlighting the statistics, the Minister said that the production of pulses sharply declined from 192.5 LMT in the year 2013-14 to 171.4 LMT in 2014-15 and to around 165 LMT in 2015-16. Though the import figures increased to 45 LMT in 2014-15 and 58 LMT in 2015-16, there was a net deficit in supplies.

Shri Paswan said that fortunately, this year, there has been good rainfall and the acreage of pulses has gone up. It is expected that the production of pulses will exceed 200 LMT in the year 2016-17.

The Minister said that Government took various steps to check rising prices of pulses by banning export and allowing import of pulses at zero duty. In the last two years MSP of pulses has been increased considerably by providing bonus. The MSP for Arhar was increased from Rs. 4350 per qtl. in the year 2014-15 to Rs. 4625 per qtl. in the year 2015-16. This year, the MSP of Arhar has been increased by Rs. 425 per qtl. and now it is Rs. 5050 per qtl. Similarly, in case of Urad the MSP now is Rs. 5000 per qtl., an increase of Rs. 650 per qtl. in two years. The MSP for Moong is Rs. 5225 per qtl., an increase of Rs. 625 per qtl. in the last two years.

Buffer Stock

Shri Ram Vilas Paswan said that Government took a decision to create buffer stock of 1.5 LMT pulses. However, looking at the trend of prices and demand-supply gap, it was increased to 5 LMT and then to 8 LMT. Now as per the decision of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today, the buffer stock has been increased to 20 LMT. The salient features of buffer stock are as follows:

10 LMT will be created through domestic procurement operations to be undertaken by FCI, NAFED and SFAC.

10 LMT will be created through import of pulses which will be through G2G contract and/or spot purchase from the global market.

The stock position of buffer stock at present is 3 LMT, out of which 1.81 LMT is imported pulses and 1.19 LMT is domestic procurement.

The allocation of pulses from buffer stock would be made to States and Central Agencies.

Pulses would be released through Open Market Sales as well.

Professional agency for management of buffer stock may be engaged.

Shri Paswan said that all this has been possible due to personal intervention of Prime Minister who took the issue of price rise on high priority and formed a High Level Committee under the Chairmanship of Finance Minister. Enhancing the buffer stock to 20 LMT was one of the recommendations of this Committee, which the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved.

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Direct Tax Collections rises by 15.03% upto August 2016 over corresponding period last year
Sep 12,2016

The figures for Direct Tax Collections up to August, 2016 show that net revenue collections are at Rs. 1.89 lakh crore which is 15.03% more than the net collections for the corresponding period last year. Till August 2016, 22.30% of the Budget Estimates of direct taxes for Financial Year 2016-17 has been achieved.

As regards the growth rates for Corporate Income Tax (CIT) and Personal Income Tax (PIT), in terms of gross revenue collections, the growth rate under CIT is 11.55% while that under PIT (including STT etc.) is 24.06%. However, after adjusting for refunds, the net growth in CIT collections is (-)1.89% while that in PIT collections is 31.76%. Refunds amounting to Rs. 77,080 crore have been issued during April-August, 2016, which is 22.18% higher than the refunds issued during the corresponding period last year.

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Cabinet approves enhancing the buffer stock of pulses up to 20 lakh tonnes
Sep 12,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal of Department of Consumer Affairs on enhancing the buffer stock for pulses up to 20 lakh tonnes. The buffer stock will be built through domestic procurement and imports of 10 lakh tonnes each.

The specific variety of pulses and their respective quantities for the buffer stock, their phasing/procurement will be decided based on price and availability position, both domestic and global, and changes, if any, in the procurement plan for the current and subsequent seasons will be with due approvals. Releases from the stock and procurement in subsequent year would be based on the prevailing pulse scenario as well as buffer stock position. Requisite funds for this operation would be provided to the Price Stabilisation Fund Scheme of the Department.

For creating the buffer stock, the domestic procurement operations will be undertaken by the Central Agencies namely FCI, NAFED and SFAC or any other agency as decided by PSFMC at the prevailing market prices if the prevailing market prices are above Minimum Support Prices (MSP), and at MSP, if otherwise. In addition, State Governments may also be authorized, wherever possible, to undertake the procurement in a manner similar to decentralized procurement of food-grains.

Import of pulses under PSF to meet the buffer stock requirements would be undertaken through G2G contract and/or spot purchase from the global market through designated Public Sector Enterprise of Department of Commerce or any other agency designated by PSFMC.

The allocation/release of the pulses from the buffer stock would be made to States/ UTs and Central Agencies. Pulses would also be released through strategic open market sale. For managing the buffer, professional pulses buffer management entity may also be engaged. The exercise will ensure a stable price regime for pulses and will also encourage domestic farmers to increase production of pulses.

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Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and South Africa in the field of Information and Communication Technologies
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the MoU signed on July 08, 2016 between India and South Africa for promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

The MoU will help to establish inter-institutional cooperan++tion and relations between the two Parties in order to promote cooperation in the field of ICT.

It will also result in active cooperation and exchanges between the private entities, capacity building institutions, Governments and other public organizations of the two countries in the field of ICT.

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Cabinet approves initiation of the Third Phase of Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP)
Sep 12,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal for initiation of the Third Phase of Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP).

The Project will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme with total project outlay of Rs. 3600 crore. However, the project would be initiated with a cost of Rs. 2660 crore, with the possibility of additional financing of Rs. 940 crore at later stage. Out of the Rs.2660 crore, the Central share will be Rs.1330 crore and external assistance from the World Bank through International Development Association (IDA) Credit of Rs. 1330 crore ($ 201.50 million as first tranche).

The project will be implemented with the facility of Direct Funds Transfer to the accounts of beneficiary institutes. The project will be initiated in the current year and will be co-terminus with Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) i.e. 2019-20,

The major outcomes of the project are:

(i) Better academic standards, through accreditation, filling up faculty positions, training faculty in better teaching methods, improved research outputs in institution in Focus States/UTs.

(ii) Better administration of the institutions with improved financial/academic autonomy.

(iii) Better systems for assessment of Student Learning, higher transition rates.

(iv) Transparent and expeditious release of funds to institutes by way of Direct Funds Transfer (DFT) System.

An estimated 200 Government / Government aided engineering institutes and Affiliating Technical Universities (ATUs) including the Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs) will be selected.

The project will cover all Government / Government aided engineering institutes, ATUs and CFTIs from Focus States/UT. High-performing TEQIP-I/ TEQIP-II Government / Government aided institutes/ATUs across the country would be eligible to participate in twinning arrangements for knowledge transfer, exchange of experience, optimizing the use of resources and developing long-term strategic partnerships.

The Focus States are 7 Low Income States (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh), 3 Hill States (Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand), 8 North-Eastern States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura) and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Background:

The Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP) commenced in 2003 with World Bank assistance as a long term programme to be implemented in three phases. The first phase of TEQIP commenced in 2003 and ended on March 31st, 2009. It covered 127 institutes across 13 States including 18 Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs). TEQIP-II commenced in August 2010, covering 23 States/Union Territories (UTs) and 191 Institutes (including 26 CFTIs). TEQIP-II is scheduled to conclude in October, 2016. Both projects have had a positive impact on the infrastructure and educational standards in the technical institutions where they were taken up. Institutions in the central, eastern and north-eastern region and hill States are at present in need of similar and specific interventions. The initiation and implementation of the project TEQIP-III will bridge this gap.

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Cabinet approves creation of GST Council and its Secretariat
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved setting up of GST Council and setting up its Secretariat as per the following details:

(a) Creation of the GST Council as per Article 279A of the amended Constitution;

(b) Creation of the GST Council Secretariat, with its office at New Delhi;

(c) Appointment of the Secretary (Revenue) as the Ex-officio Secretary to the GST Council;

(d) Inclusion of the Chairperson, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), as a permanent invitee (non-voting) to all proceedings of the GST Council;

(e) Create one post of Additional Secretary to the GST Council in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of Additional Secretary to the Government of India), and four posts of Commissioner in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of Joint Secretary to the Government of India).

The Cabinet also decided to provide for adequate funds for meeting the recurring and non-recurring expenses of the GST Council Secretariat, the entire cost for which shall be borne by the Central Government. The GST Council Secretariat shall be manned by officers taken on deputation from both the Central and State Governments.

The steps required in the direction of implementation of GST are being taken ahead of the schedule so far.

The Finance Minister has also decided to call the first meeting of the GST Council on 22nd and 23rd September 2016 in New Delhi.

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Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and Mozambique on cooperation in the field of Youth Affairs
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the MoU signed on July 07, 2016 between India and Mozambique on cooperation in the field of Youth Affairs and Sports during the visit of Prime Minister of India to Mozambique.

This MoU will help in promotion of sports in the two countries and will promote exchange of ideas, values and culture amongst Youth and in developing friendly relations.

It will also help in developing international perspective among the Youth and expanding their knowledge and expertise in the areas of Youth Affairs and Sports.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Kenya on cooperation in the field of National Housing Policy Development and Management
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its expost-facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Kenya on cooperation in the field of National Housing Policy Development and Management (NHPDM). The MoU was signed on 11th July, 2016 at Nairobi during the visit of the Prime Minister of India.

Under the MoU, both the sides will collaborate on all matters relating to housing and human settlements through various strategies including training of personnel, exchange visits, expos/exhibitions, conferences and workshops.

The cooperation between the two countries will focus on upscaling slum upgradation and prevention initiatives based on the experience and implementation process of each country. They will collaborate on development and sharing of information on housing and real estate data base including market trends, best practices and investment opportunities.

It will encourage technical cooperation in facilitating access to affordable housing from locally available building materials. It will also encourage technical cooperation in development of Government/Public employee facilitated housing. This would be useful to explore ways of a delivery model towards Government employees housing scheme, including creating an enabling environment for participation in the delivery of such intended scheme by private sector players.

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