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Numerous Steps Taken by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways on Road Safety
Aug 08,2016

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways have drafted a Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2016 covering the entire gamut of issues related to motor vehicles and road safety including higher compensation for the road accident victims. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has taken a number of steps to prevent road accidents as per details mentioned under:

i. The Government has approved a National Road Safety Policy. This Policy outlines various policy measures such as promoting awareness, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport, enforcement of safety laws trauma care etc.

ii. The Government has constituted the National Road Safety Council as the apex body to take policy decisions in matters of road safety.

iii. The Ministry has requested all States/UTs for setting up of State Road Safety Council and District Road Safety Committees, and to hold their meetings regularly.

iv. The Ministry has formulated a multi-pronged strategy to address the issue of road safety based on 4 Es viz. Education, Engineering (both of roads and vehicles), Enforcement and Emergency Care. Based on this, a draft action plan has been shared with the states.

v. Road safety has been made an integral part of road design at planning stage.

vi. Road Safety Audit of selected stretches of National Highways has been taken up.

vii. High priority has been accorded to identification and rectification of black spots (accident prone spots) on national highways. Around 700 such black spots have been identified for improvement.

viii. The threshold for four Laning of national highway has been reduced from 15,000 Passenger Car Units (PCUs) to 10,000 PCUs. About 52,000 Km of stretches of State Highways has been identified for conversion to national highways.

ix. Setting up of model driving training institutes in States and refresher training to drivers of Heavy Motor Vehicle in the unorganized sector.

x. Advocacy/Publicity campaign on road safety through the electronic and print media. xi. Tightening of safety standards for vehicles like Seat Belts, Power-steering, anti-lock braking system etc.

xii. Providing cranes and ambulances to various State Governments under the National Highway Accident Relief Service Scheme for development on National Highways. National Highways Authority of India also provides ambulances at a distance of 50 Km. on each of its completed stretches of National Highways under its Operation & Maintenance contracts.

xiii. Launch of pilot projects for providing cashless treatment of road accident victims on Gurgaon - Jaipur, Vadodara - Mumbai stretch of National Highways No. 8 and Ranchi - Rargaon - Mahulia stretch of National Highway No. 33.

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FDI in petroleum sector permitted across the Hydrocarbon value chain
Aug 08,2016

The Government of India permits Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) across the hydrocarbon value chain covering the upstream, downstream and midstream sectors. The present FDI policy for petroleum & natural gas sector allows 100% automatic route for exploration and production, refining by the private companies (for public sector companies 49% on automatic route without any divestment or dilution of domestic equity in the existing PSUs), marketing of petroleum products, pipelines, storage and LNG regasification infrastructure and all related services, subject to existing sectoral policy and regulatory framework in the oil and gas sector.

Exploration and Production of oil and gas are capital intensive and high risk activities requiring use of expensive stat-of-the-art technologies and best management practices. Accordingly, the Government is encouraging participation of the private sector, including foreign companies in exploration, production and transportation network for petroleum and natural gas, in order to supplement the domestic investment as well as the efforts of the national oil companies in meeting the rising demand of oil and gas and reducing import dependence.

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No visible impact currently on Production of Crude Oil and gas due to slump in crude oil prices
Aug 08,2016

Currently, there is no visible impact on countrys oil & natural gas production due to slump in crude oil prices. Decline in Crude oil prices affect revenues and profits of E&P companies and extended declines may even adversely affect their ability to finance planned capital expenditures for major exploration, development and re-development projects resulting in adverse impact on production of oil and gas in the long run.

In order to accelerate the pace of exploration and enhance production of natural gas in the country and to reduce import dependency, the Government has taken various policy initiatives which are as under:

n++ Government has approved a new Hydrocarbon and Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP) and same has been notified on 30th March 2016.

n++ Marketing and Pricing freedom for new gas production from Deepwater, Ultra Deepwater and High Pressure-High Temperature areas subject to certain conditions, to incentivize gas production from such areas.

n++ Policy for grant of extension to the Production Sharing Contracts of 28 Small and medium sized discovered blocks, so that investors can plan their investment.

n++ Policy Framework for relaxation, extensions and clarifications at the development and production stage under PSC regime for early monetization of hydrocarbon discoveries.

n++ New Domestic Natural Gas price Guidelines, 2014: Under these guidelines, gas price has been linked to the market/ important hub prices.

n++ Discovered Small Fields Policy- 67 oil & gas fields which have been held by ONGC and OIL for many years, but have not been exploited, has been approved for bidding under this policy. The bid has been launched on 25.05.2016.

n++ Appraisal of about 1.5 million sq. km un-appraised area of the Indian Sedimentary Basins has been initiated.

n++ Re-assessment of Hydrocarbon Resources.

n++ National Data Repository has been setup.

n++ Policy for exploration and exploitation of Shale Gas/Shale Oil resources by NOCs under the Nomination Regime.

n++ Policy for exploration in the Mining Lease (ML) areas after the expiry of exploration period.

n++ Policy on Non-exclusive Multi-client Speculative Survey for assessment of unexplored sedimentary basins has been operationalized.

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4497 New Projects Sanctioned for Rural Electrification under DDUGJY
Aug 08,2016

Under Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), 4497 new projects have been sanctioned in the country with the project cost of Rs. 42392.47 crore for various rural electrification works. In addition to the projects sanctioned under erstwhile Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana are also subsumed with DDUGJY as Rural Electrification (RE) component.

Government of India has this Scheme in December, 2014 for separation of agriculture and non-agriculture feeders, facilitating supply of power to agricultural & non- agricultural consumers in the rural areas, strengthening and augmentation of sub-transmission & distribution infrastructure in rural areas, including metering at distribution transformers/feeders/consumers.

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NSTFDC extends concessional financial assistance to individuals or group of STs for undertaking income generation/ business activities
Aug 08,2016

National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC), under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, extends concessional financial assistance to individuals or group of STs for undertaking income generation/ business activities for their economic empowerment. The financial assistance is extended through State Channelizing Agencies and certain PSU Banks/ RRBs and National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) having refinance agreements with NSTFDC for eligible STs upto Double the Poverty Line Income limit which is ₹98,000/- p.a. for rural areas and ₹1, 20,000/- p.a. for urban areas.

Some of the prominent schemes of NSTFDC are:

n++ Term Loan scheme: NSTFDC provides Term Loan for any income generation scheme costing upto₹25.00 lakhs per unit. Financial assistance is extended upto 90% of the cost of the scheme and the balance is met by way of subsidy/ promoters contribution/ margin money. Interest rate chargeable is 6% p.a. for loan upto₹ 5 lakhs, 8% p.a. for loans ranging between ₹ 5 lakhs to ₹ 10 lakhs and 10% p.a. for loan exceeding ₹10 lakhs on the entire amount of loan.

n++ Adivasi MahilaSashaktikaranYojana (AMSY): Under the scheme, Scheduled Tribes women can undertake any income generation activity. Loans upto 90% for scheme costing upto₹1 lakh are provided at a concessional rate of interest of 4% p.a.

n++ Micro Credit Scheme for Self Help Groups: The Corporation provides loans upto₹50,000/- per member and ₹ 5 Lakhs per Self Help Group (SHG). Interest rate chargeable is 6% p.a.

n++ Adivasi ShikshaRrinnYojana: Under this scheme, financial assistance upto₹5.00 lakh at concessional rate of interest of 6% per annum is provided to ST students for pursuing professional/ technical education including Ph.D. in India. Ministry of Human Resources Development, Govt. of India provides interest subsidy for this scheme, whereby, no interest is payable by a student during the course period and one year or six months after getting the job, as the case may be. There is also a provision for providing further concessional finance for undertaking any income generation activity after completion of studies.

n++ Tribal Forest Dwellers Empowerment Scheme: Under the scheme, NSTFDC provides financial assistance to Scheduled Tribes given land rights under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Loan upto 90% of the scheme costing upto₹1 lakh can be provided at rate of interest of 6% p.a. This is a new scheme introduced and NSTFDC has requested the SCAs to implement the same.

n++ Scheme for NGOs/ EVAs: This is a newly launched scheme under which NSTFDC provides loans upto₹50,000/- per member and ₹ 5 Lakhs per Self Help Group (SHG) through NGOs/ EVAs. The interest rate chargeable is 12% p.a. from members of SHGs against which they will get an interest incentive of 4% on timely payment thus making the effective rate of interest to 8%.

State-wise funds disbursed by NSTFDC during 2013-14 to 2016-17 (upto 30.06.2016) and number of beneficiaries is given below:-

S.No.State2013-142014-152015-162016-17 (upto 30.06.2016)DisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of Beneficiaries1ANDHRA PRADESHn++----3313.141010691.301552ARUNACHAL PRADESH8.8434653.0023501863.6036546--3ASSAM203.24108746.0017010.0057172.3229824CHHATTISGARH1558.97115720.538933.5334453.37675GUJARAT3372.87268502343.19118852137.84121921000.00100006HIMACHAL PRADESH201.052219154.94286611.32238.5017JAMMU & KASHMIR0.5410.69n++-271.00169--8JHARKHAND616.32301841.6735204.50606n++--9KARNATAKA2500.0032672500.001010n++----10KERALA76.248895.1810983.929617.101911MANIPUR-n++-200.00

NSTFDCextends concessional financial assistance to individuals or group of STs for undertaking income generation/ business activities
Aug 08,2016

National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC), under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, extends concessional financial assistance to individuals or group of STs for undertaking income generation/ business activities for their economic empowerment. The financial assistance is extended through State Channelizing Agencies and certain PSU Banks/ RRBs and National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) having refinance agreements with NSTFDC for eligible STs upto Double the Poverty Line Income limit which is ₹98,000/- p.a. for rural areas and ₹1, 20,000/- p.a. for urban areas.

Some of the prominent schemes of NSTFDC are:

n++ Term Loan scheme: NSTFDC provides Term Loan for any income generation scheme costing upto₹25.00 lakhs per unit. Financial assistance is extended upto 90% of the cost of the scheme and the balance is met by way of subsidy/ promoters contribution/ margin money. Interest rate chargeable is 6% p.a. for loan upto₹ 5 lakhs, 8% p.a. for loans ranging between ₹ 5 lakhs to ₹ 10 lakhs and 10% p.a. for loan exceeding ₹10 lakhs on the entire amount of loan.

n++ Adivasi MahilaSashaktikaranYojana (AMSY): Under the scheme, Scheduled Tribes women can undertake any income generation activity. Loans upto 90% for scheme costing upto₹1 lakh are provided at a concessional rate of interest of 4% p.a.

n++ Micro Credit Scheme for Self Help Groups: The Corporation provides loans upto₹50,000/- per member and ₹ 5 Lakhs per Self Help Group (SHG). Interest rate chargeable is 6% p.a.

n++ Adivasi ShikshaRrinnYojana: Under this scheme, financial assistance upto₹5.00 lakh at concessional rate of interest of 6% per annum is provided to ST students for pursuing professional/ technical education including Ph.D. in India. Ministry of Human Resources Development, Govt. of India provides interest subsidy for this scheme, whereby, no interest is payable by a student during the course period and one year or six months after getting the job, as the case may be. There is also a provision for providing further concessional finance for undertaking any income generation activity after completion of studies.

n++ Tribal Forest Dwellers Empowerment Scheme: Under the scheme, NSTFDC provides financial assistance to Scheduled Tribes given land rights under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Loan upto 90% of the scheme costing upto₹1 lakh can be provided at rate of interest of 6% p.a. This is a new scheme introduced and NSTFDC has requested the SCAs to implement the same.

n++ Scheme for NGOs/ EVAs: This is a newly launched scheme under which NSTFDC provides loans upto₹50,000/- per member and ₹ 5 Lakhs per Self Help Group (SHG) through NGOs/ EVAs. The interest rate chargeable is 12% p.a. from members of SHGs against which they will get an interest incentive of 4% on timely payment thus making the effective rate of interest to 8%.

State-wise funds disbursed by NSTFDC during 2013-14 to 2016-17 (upto 30.06.2016) and number of beneficiaries is given below:-

S.No.State2013-142014-152015-162016-17 (upto 30.06.2016)DisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of Beneficiaries1ANDHRA PRADESH ----3313.141010691.301552ARUNACHAL PRADESH8.8434653.0023501863.6036546--3ASSAM203.24108746.0017010.0057172.3229824CHHATTISGARH1558.97115720.538933.5334453.37675GUJARAT3372.87268502343.19118852137.84121921000.00100006HIMACHAL PRADESH201.052219154.94286611.32238.5017JAMMU & KASHMIR0.5410.69 -271.00169--8JHARKHAND616.32301841.6735204.50606 --9KARNATAKA2500.0032672500.001010 ----10KERALA76.248895.1810983.929617.101911MANIPUR- -

FICCI and EYEON Group join hands to provide industry assessment on Indias energy sector
Aug 08,2016

FICCI and EYEON are undertaking a joint exercise in the assessment and promotion of Indias energy sector under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The MoU provides the framework for FICCI and EYEONs cooperation on the production of valuable and innovative content covering Indias energy sector, and on the organization of key events providing relevant business information to local and international investors.

FICCI and EYEON will be conducting a new market survey from August through September to gather the industrys feedback on the attractiveness of the countrys energy sector, especially as it relates to investors sentiments on new sector regulations and initiatives. The results will be released by the end of the September, and will be used to inspire sector reforms.

n++Indias energy sector is seeing profound transformations since the past two years and key challenges remain to be overcome to ensure the development of a robust industry, including restructuring the distribution sector, developing domestic content, ensuring grid integration, securing financing for Indias expanding renewable energy sector, and revitalising the countrys wind and hydro sectors. It is now time to take a closer look at these challenges and opportunities and assess the industry sentiment on the same. In that regard, EYEON is honoured to have FICCI as an industry partner to jointly look at the evolutions of the industry,n++ Mickael Vogel, Regional Director at EYE ON, said.

FICCI is excited to partner with EYEON on this journey to track the opportunities and challenges in Indias energy sector taking Industrys feedback through targeted surveys and roundtables. Energy is the key to Indias growth ambitions and as the energy markets are moving forward, the sectors learning curve is incredible.

EYEONs Managing Director, Asli Konyali, called the MoU an exciting development that will allow EYE ON to support the local industry in its efforts of conveying the investment potential and strength of Indias energys industry worldwide.

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Fitch: India GST Bill a Positive Reform Signal
Aug 08,2016

Indias passage of a long-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill is an important reform which will remove barriers to trade, improve economic efficiency and lead to higher growth in the long run, says Fitch Ratings. In addition, parliamentary approval sends a further positive signal of the governments ability to enact major reforms following the passage of a national bankruptcy law in May.

The GST bill is a constitutional amendment which will allow for a single national indirect tax to replace a myriad of state and national taxes. This will result in a substantial simplification of the indirect tax system, leading to potentially significant productivity gains and boosting long-term growth.

It remains to be seen, though, whether the introduction of a national GST will lead to a higher intake of tax revenue. This will depend on a number of factors, such as the level at which the tax rate will be set. The rate still needs to be decided by the GST Council, which includes representatives from the Ministry of Finance and each state government.

The introduction of national GST, though positive from a longer-term economic perspective, should not have a substantive effect on the fiscal account in the short term. Indias fiscal balances are a weak point of the sovereigns credit profile, with both general government debt and the deficit well above its BBB peer medians. Fitch expects the debt to reach 69.4% of GDP and the deficit to fall to 6.8% in FY17.

Passage of the bill is an important indicator of Indias ability to push through transformative structural reforms. This is especially the case, as it required a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament and cross-party consensus for passage as a constitutional amendment. The bill will now go back to the lower house for final approval, and will then require ratification by more than 50% of state legislatures.

More broadly, the GST bill is part of an ambitious policy drive which includes a series of reforms. In addition to the GST and aforementioned bankruptcy law, the agenda includes liberalisation of the FDI regime, financial and agriculture sector reforms, and changes to cut red tape and improve the efficiency of administration.

Fitch affirmed Indias BBB- rating with a stable outlook last month.

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Fitch: Masala Bonds to Facilitate Indian Funding Diversification
Aug 08,2016

The recent issuance of the first offshore masala bonds by Indian companies could pave the way for a broader opening and development of the market, says Fitch Ratings. This will be positive for the better-quality issuers that are able to take advantage of offshore capital markets to diversify their funding sources without assuming currency risk.

The inaugural offshore masala bonds issued by HDFC on 14 July and NTPC on 4 August mark the first time Indian firms issued rupee-denominated debt overseas. HDFC raised INR30bn (USD449m) through its three-year bonds, while NTPC raised INR20bn by selling five-year green bonds, which Fitch rated BBB-(emr), to support renewable power projects. Both issues were over-subscribed, attracting 40 and 60 international investors for HDFC and NTPC, respectively.

The masala bond market is in its infancy, but the two recent issues should mitigate initial market concerns about liquidity. That Indias first corporate masala bonds were issued by better-quality firms probably helped support investor demand and with their relatively attractive pricing. The bond pricing was surprisingly competitive relative to onshore funding considering uncertainty over liquidity and currency risks. We believe this could encourage other Indian issuers to go to the market.

Indias forecast high growth relative to other emerging markets over the next several years should help to bolster global-investor interest in the masala bond market. The next test will be for issuers further down the credit curve to try tapping into this market. We believe it is likely only the large, well-known and better-quality issuers will tap that market in the near-term.

Foreign investors take currency risk when buying masala bonds; the limited offshore liquidity in rupee, cost and availability of hedging, and investors view of exchange rate movements will affect pricing. As such, the markets development will remain especially subject to international liquidity, foreign investor sentiment, and global and domestic macroeconomic conditions.

Fitch maintains that non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) could particularly benefit from offshore rupee financing. NBFIs currently rely heavily on domestic banks for funding and are likely to be incentivized to issue bonds, even for slightly higher costs, to diversify funding sources. Electricity utilities in India with assets operating under a regulated return-on-invested capital model, such as NTPC and transmission utilities, are also likely candidates.

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327 Villages Electrified Last Week; 9,653 Villages Electrified till date under DDUGJY
Aug 08,2016

327 villages have been electrified across the country during last week (from 1st to 7th August 2016) under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY). Out of these electrified villages, 7 villages belong to Arunachal Pradesh, 12 to Assam, 10 to Bihar, 4 to Chattisgarh, 68 to Jharkhand, , 4 to Madhya Pradesh, 11 to Manipur, 136 to Meghalaya, 8 to Nagaland, 24 to Odisha, 6 to Rajasthan, 2 to Tripura, 31 to Uttar Pradesh and 1 each to Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka and Mizoram.

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Passage of the GST Bill signifies a Landmark Reform on Indirect Taxes for Indian Economy
Aug 08,2016

CII welcomes the passing of the Constitution (One Hundred Twenty Second Amendment) Bill 2014 related to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by the Rajya Sabha on 3 August 2016.

n++GST is Indias most significant tax reform in decades. GST, when implemented, is expected to usher in a harmonised national market of goods and services and shall lead to a simplified, assesse-friendly tax administration system. Once implemented, it will subsume all of the countrys central and state level duties and taxes, thus making the country a national market and contribute significantly to the growth of the economyn++, said Dr Naushad Forbes, President, CII.

The manufacturing sector in particular is expected to be a big beneficiary of GST as the economic system becomes more competitive. As GST will be aligned with an information technology platform, the tax payment system would also be streamlined.

Consequently, the supply chain would become faster, seamless and more efficient by allowing for uninterrupted movement of goods across the country. CII anticipates that implementation of GST from 1 April 2017 would reduce transaction costs and boost GDP by 1.5 - 2% points.

While government has left no stone unturned to seek a consensus, the willingness and maturity of the key opposition party in terms of understanding the issues and straightening out the differences is indeed praiseworthy. Industry can now think of One India, which was truly pursued by almost all political parties in true letter and spirit. Both the ruling and opposition parties have set aside political bargaining and have joined hands at the moment to create history by ushering in a unified tax regime.

The amendments to the Bill by the government seek to accommodate some of the demands of the opposition as well as address the concerns of states, particularly with respect to revenue losses. CII welcomes the key amendments proposed by the government including deletion of the clause relating to levy of an additional 1% tax on supply of goods, full compensation for five years for any revenue losses arising from a transition to GST and setting up of Dispute Resolution Authority to be set up by GST Council among others.

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Ukhand emerges numero uno clocking highest growth in industry & services sectors across India: ASSOCHAM study
Aug 08,2016

Uttarakhand has emerged on top by clocking highest compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.5 per cent and 12.3 per cent in industry and services sectors respectively during the decadal period between 2004-05 and 2014-15 among states across India and also much better than national average growth of about seven per cent, noted a just-concluded ASSOCHAM study.

n++Uttarakhand has registered remarkable economic growth and industrial development as the state has recorded CAGR of over 12 per cent during the aforementioned period, which is highest among major states in India,n++ highlighted the ASSOCHAM study titled Uttarakhand on expressway to growth.

Interestingly, Uttarakhands contribution to Indias economy has also marginally increased from just about 0.8 per cent in 2004-05 to 1.2 per cent 2013-14, noted the study prepared by the ASSOCHAM Economic Research Bureau (AERB).

The chambers study was released at a press conference in Dehradun by Mr Babu Lal Jain, chairman, ASSOCHAM Uttarakhand Development Task Force and national secretary general, Mr D.S. Rawat.

Services sector which includes hospitality & tourism, hotels & restaurants, transport, storage, communication, banking and finance and other such activities accounted for 51 per cent share in gross state domestic product (GSDP) in 2014-15 thereby increasing from 49.5 per cent in 2004-05.

n++Uttarakhand holds significant potential for growth and expansion of services sector which can generate additional economic activity and employment in the state,n++ suggested the ASSOCHAM study.

n++Tourism and hospitality being a major segment under services sector in Uttarakhand and also being mainstay of its economy, it is heartening to note that domestic and foreign tourists arrival in the state has picked up after it was hit by massive floods and landslides in June 2013, mostly due to swift action by the state government,n++ said Mr Jain.

While industrial sector accounted for about 39 per cent share in the GSDP in 2014-15 thereby increasing from 27 per cent a decade ago.

However it is noted that Uttarakhands performance on agriculture and allied activities paints a grim picture as its share in the GSDP has declined sharply from over 22 per cent in 2004-05 to just over nine per cent in 2014-15.

Besides, the agriculture sector in Uttarakhand has recorded a poor CAGR of just about three per cent between 2004-05 and 2014-15 largely due to sandy soils that do not retain water for long which hits crop productivity.

Though it is important to note that states agriculture and allied sector has registered a growth rate of over five per cent which is better than negative growth of 2.5 per cent recorded in the previous year.

It is mainly due to priority given to developing irrigation infrastructure in the state including the canal network and also lift canals, tube well, pump sets and others.

n++Considering that over 51 per cent of states total workforce and about 67 per cent of total rural workers depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihood, Uttarakhand government should promote a separate policy for hill farming,n++ suggested the ASSOCHAM study.

n++Apart from promotion of local and traditional hill crops, farmers need to be given adequate cover in terms of welfare schemes and adequate technical and financial support for water conservation should also be extended by the state administration,n++ it said.

Significant developments in terms of infrastructure development be it increase in road density, fall in power deficit which has almost halved from about three per cent in 2012-13 to 1.7 per cent in 2015-16 and high literacy rate of about 80 per cent are certain other positives for Uttarakhand.

However Uttarakhand government needs to perk up infrastructure in the health sector to facilitate state inhabitants access to health centres across the state.

Investment scenario in Ukhand:

Uttarakhands robust economic growth has encouraged investors to invest in the state as outstanding investments have increased to Rs 1.45 lakh crore as of 2015-16 registering year-on-year growth of about 24 per cent.

n++Electricity, infrastructure, construction and real estate are top three priority sectors for investors to invest in 2015-16 with a combined share of almost 97 per cent,n++ noted the ASSOCHAM study.

Uttarakhand has also figured as the second best performing state in terms of project implementation. n++Projects with investment share of about 39 per cent were under implementation in various stages as of 2015-16 which shows faster implementation of projects and ease of doing business in the state.n++

State should provide investment facilitation policies like providing single window facilitation, ensuring long-term finance availability to investors especially in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to promote tourism, agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, textiles and forest-based industries.

In its study, ASSOCHAM has suggested the Uttarakhand government to give special thrust on improving road network to propel industrial, economic and social development across the state.

Apart from this, the state should work on improving health infrastructure facilities through steps like standardising diagnostic procedures, building rural clinics, developing streamlined health systems, improving efficiency of state hospitals and clinics.

Promotion of food processing industries, bolstering sector-specific infrastructure like warehouses, cold storages and others to avoid spoilage of perishable products are other key suggestions by ASSOCHAM that are aimed at further improving industrial scenario in Uttarakhand.

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Standard GST rate should not exceed 20%; mass level services be in Merit list: ASSOCHAM
Aug 08,2016

A large section of India Inc would like the standard Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate to stay well below 20 per cent along with services of mass consumption being included in the Merit list to ensure that prices of critical services like telecom, banking, healthcare, railways, do not lead to inflation, an ASSOCHAM internal assessment on the GST roadmap has noted.

An interaction with a large number of ASSOCHAM constituents felt that the focus should be to get the maximum tax buoyancy through more and more trade and industry channels in the small scale and unorganized sectors joining the mainstream value chain, rather than keeping the standard GST rate high.

n++No tax reform can succeed unless adequate revenue generation is assured both to the Centre and the states. Likewise, in the case of GST, the Revenue Neutral Rate (RNR) should be worked out, taking into account the tax buoyancy and all out efforts must be made in this direction. With the kind of IT backbone being readied, the taxation stream should be able to detect any single link seeking to break the chain of value. On their parts, the trade and industry would also like to fall in place if seamless input credit is available and adjusted with the net result that the overall tax incidence, especially on goods is brought down,n++ the ASSOCHAM paper said.

Besides, doing away of Octroi and Entry tax at the inter-state borders would bring in a huge amount of operational efficiencies that in turn should have a positive implication for the transaction cost. n++Our assessment shows that the industry can live with GST benchmark rate of a band of 17-20 per cent. Anything above that will be counterproductive and lead to inflation, especially on the side of services. Besides, the most important stakeholders in the entire process of reforms are the people of India, who should savour the pudding (as its proof) and then will surely support the entire gamut of economic reforms,n++ ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D.S. Rawat said.

While it is true that the states have concerns over the possible revenue loss, but once tax buoyancy takes place due to GDP growth, operational efficiency and more people getting into the mainstream, it is going to be a win-win situation even for the states.

n++After all, it is only the states which can make India a single and common market. This is why; work needs to be done on a war footing in the next seven months to fix each and every problem that may crop up. As far as possible, no sector of the economy should be made to feel GST as a problem, instead it should be welcomed as a major solution to the complexities in the Indian economy paradigm,n++ the ASSOCHAM said.

On its part, the chamber would reach out to its members and be useful link between the industry and the government, both at the Centre and the states, to thrash out any issue that may surface as n++we move towards implementation of the most important reformn++.

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Focus on Crop Diversification and Allied Activities
Aug 06,2016

Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) is implementing Crop Diversification Programme in Original Green Revolution States of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh as a sub scheme of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) since 2013-14 to divert the area of water guzzling paddy to alternate crops like pulses, oilseeds, maize, cotton and agro forestry system. The programme has been extended to tobacco growing states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal to encourage tobacco growing farmers to shift to alternate crops/cropping system w.e.f. 2015-16. Under Crop Diversification Programme, assistance is being provided for four major components / interventions viz. (i) alternate crop demonstrations (ii) farm mechanization and value addition (iii) site specific activities and (iv) contingency for awareness, training, implementation, monitoring, etc. Under RKVY, State Government can undertake agriculture including allied sector activities depending on state specific needs/priorities with the approval by State Level Sanctioning Committee (SLSC) headed by Chief Secretary of the State.

Crop production technology of various agricultural and horticultural crops grown in different regions and ecologies are also promoted through other ongoing schemes of DAC&FW like National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI), National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP), National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), National Mission on Agricultural Extension & Technology (NMAET), Soil Health Card Scheme, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH). The technology support to farmers helps in achieving higher productivity, better management for increasing their income.

Government also support allied sector activities like dairy & poultry through Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries (DAHD&F) for the benefit of farmers under various programmes viz., National Programme for Bovine Breeding & Dairy Development (NPBBDD), National Dairy Plan, Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme (DEDS) and National Livestock Mission (NLM).

For boosting income of farmers, promotion and development of food processing sector in the country, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing a number of schemes, namely Scheme for Mega Food Parks, Scheme for Modern Abattoirs, Scheme for Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure, Scheme for Creation/Expansion of Food Processing and Preservation, Scheme for Quality Assurance and Scheme for Human Resources and Institutions.

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Lok Sabha to consider the Constitutional Amendment bill relating to GST next week
Aug 06,2016

The passing of the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Second Amendment) Bill, 2014 relating to Goods & Services Tax (GST) by huge consensus in the Rajya Sabha was the hallmark of the third week of Monsoon Session of Parliament. The amendments made by Rajya Sabha in the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Second Amendment) Bill, 2016 as passed by Lok Sabha and as reported by the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha, have been now laid on the Table of the Lok Sabha and will be taken up by the House next week.

The Rajya Sabha passed five more Bills during the last week which included Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016; Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2016; Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016; Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2016. All these Bills have already been passed by the Lok Sabha. The Upper House, during the week, also held discussions on developments in States of Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh leading to change in the Governments there and role of Governors in respective States, and also on alleged diversion of money from Employees Provident Fund to Stock Market.

The Lok Sabha, during the third week of the session, passed the Enforcement of Security, Interest and Recovery of Debts, Loss and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016. It also voted in full the Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) 2016 - 17 and passed the relevant Appropriation (No 3) Bill, 2016. The House also held discussions on Sustainable Development Goals, and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

During the forthcoming week of the Session, Lok Sabha will take up the Central Agricultural University (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the Employees Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and the High Courts (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016. It will also consider the amendments made by Rajya Sabha in the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, as passed by Lok Sabha, after it is passed by Rajya Sabha. The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013, after it is passed by Rajya Sabha, may also be taken up by the House.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Mental Health Care Bill 2013 and the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will be taken up. The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, as passed by Lok Sabha and as reported by Select Committee will be taken up by the Rajya Sabha. Time has also been allotted for the following Bills which are likely to be taken up by the House after passing in the Lok Sabha - the Central Agricultural University (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Employees Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016; and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the High Courts (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016. Consideration and return of the Appropriation(No. 3) Bill, 2016 relating to Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) for 2016-17, as passed by Lok Sabha, will also come up before the House.

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