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Cabinet approves Agreement between the India and Croatia on Economic Cooperation
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing and ratification of an Agreement between India and Croatia on Economic Cooperation.

India and Croatia had earlier signed an Agreement on trade and economic cooperation in September, 1994 with an aim to promote and develop bilateral trade and economic relations. Signing of the new Agreement between India and Croatia would be a step in continuity as the existing Agreement expired in November, 2009.

Indias bilateral trade with Croatia during 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 were US$ 152.01million, US$ 148.86 million and US$ 205.04 million respectively. The average bilateral trade growth was 17.44% during the last three years.

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Cabinet approves The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendment of Section 64 and section 65 and consequential amendment of section 115 of the Factories Act, 1948 by introducing the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.

The approved amendments will give boost to the manufacturing sector and facilitate ease of doing business with an aim to enhance employment opportunities.

These amendments relate to increase in overtime hours from the existing 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours (Section 64) and existing 75 hours per quarter to 125 hours (Section 65).

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Amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament.

The maternity benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a maternity benefit - i.e. full paid absence from work - to take care for her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The amendments will help 1.8 million (approx.) women workforce in organised sector.

The amendments to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 are as follows:

n++ Increase Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children.

n++ 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a Commissioning mother and Adopting mother.

n++ Facilitate Work from home. n++ Mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.

Justification:

n++ Maternal care to the Child during early childhood - crucial for growth and development of the child.

n++ The 44th, 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommended enhancement of Maternity Benefits to 24 weeks.

n++ Ministry of Women & Child Development proposed to enhance Maternity Benefit to 8 months.

n++ In Tripartite consultations, all stake holders, in general supported the amendment proposal.

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Cabinet approves The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendments to Section 44 and consequential amendments of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 by introducing the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.

The approved amendments will address concerns and apprehensions expressed by different categories of public servants and addresses the difficulties being faced in implementing the provision of section 44 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. The amendments are in line with one of the recommendations of the Standing Committee.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and South Africa for cooperation in the field of Tourism
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and South Africa for cooperation in the field of Tourism. The MoU was signed on 08.07.2016.

The main objectives of the MoU are:

a) to expand bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector;

b) to exchange information and data related to tourism ;

c) to encourage cooperation between tourism stakeholders, including hotels and tour operators.

d) to establish exchange programmes for cooperation in Human Resource Development;

e) Investing in the tourism and hospitality sector;

f) to encourage visits of Tour Operators/Media/ Opinion Makers and tourists from both countries for promotion of two way tourism;

g) to exchange experiences in the areas of promotion, education, marketing, destination development and management;

h) to participate in travel fairs/exhibitions in each others country; and

i) to promote safe, honourable and sustainable tourism.

Background:

India and South Africa share and enjoy warm and friendly bilateral relations. South Africa is an emerging tourism source markets for India (India received approximately 51922 tourists from South Africa in 2015). India has extended the Electronic Tourist Visa (eTV) facility for the South African Nationals which elicited good response from travel trade of both. The MoU will be instrumental in increasing arrival from this emerging source market.

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Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs calls for Efficient Management of Resources
Aug 10,2016

The Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal emphasized that Government is committed to pursue the economic reforms by implementing GST and Indian Cost Accounts Service (ICoAS) Officers can also play proactive role in its effective implementation. Shri Meghwal also stated that presence of ICoAS officers is required to be there in all the Departments of the Government of India for cost effective execution of Projects, Schemes and Operations. He also suggested for SWOT analysis to be carried-out by ICoAS Officers for growth of the Service. In this regard, the Officers of this service with their vast experience in the field of costing and finance can play distinguished role in all the Ministries, he added.

The Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Meghwal was speaking after inaugurating the 2nd Indian Cost Accounts Service Day.

Later, the Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs also released a book on the overview of Indian Cost Accounts Service.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, Shri Ashok Lavasa, Finance Secretary & Secretary (Expenditure), Government of India emphasized the need to achieve fiscal consolidation by progressively reducing expenditure on subsidies through improved targeting of beneficiaries and making available scarce funds for investment in infrastructure and development programmes. He said India has a developing challenges that are so huge and so demanding and of course there are not enough resources to address them immediately, so the optimum resources is the key. In this regard ICoAS Officers can play important role.

Earlier in her welcome address, Smt Aruna Sethi, Additional Chief Adviser Cost and Head of Service said that in the ongoing global economic scenario, technological innovation, automation, change in business process and competition has changed the process and procedure adopted by the Governments and professionalism is required for prudent decision making.

Indian Cost Accounts Service is the only professional financial service in the complete set up of Government of India.The office has now emerged as a prime professional agency and deals with matters relating to costing and pricing, studies on cost reduction, cost efficiency, industry level studies for determining fair prices, studies on user charges, Cost Benefit Analysis of Projects, Commercial Financial Management Analysis, appraisal of Capital Intensive Projects, Profitability Analysis and application of Modern Management Tools involving Cost and Financial Accounting etc. for the Government Ministries and Departments in respect of the matters referred to them. She further said that ICoAS Officers are assisting different Central Government Ministries/Departments/Organizations in solving complex Price/Cost related issues, in fixing fair prices for various services/products and rendering advice to various Ministries/Departments in cost and financial matters. She also highlighted the proactive role the ICoAS officers can play in implementation of GST.

Chairman CBEC, Shri Najeeb Shah, Addl Secretary, Department of Revenue Shri B.N. Sharma and other experts from CBEC deliberated the nuances of GST during the panel discussion held at the event. Senior Officers from Ministry of Finance and other Departments were also present on the occasion.

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New forward looking Guidelines by Department of Expenditure to improve efficiency with which Public Funded Schemes & Projects are appraised & approved
Aug 10,2016

In order to build a growth friendly eco-system, financial processes and systems are as important as the fund allocations. The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance has issued comprehensive guidelines on 5th August, 2016 for appraisal and approval of public funded schemes and projects.

With the announcement in the Union Budget, 2016-17 of doing away with Plan Non-Plan distinction at the end of the 12th Five Year Plan, it has become necessary to put into place a Plan Non-Plan neutral appraisal and approval system. The Department of Expenditure has accordingly undertaken a comprehensive review of the instructions issued over the last three decades, and replaced them with a simpler framework which will greatly improve the efficiency with which schemes and projects are appraised and approved in our system. The new guidelines will help bring-in the concept of outcome evaluation to improve the delivery of public goods and services to the citizens. This will indeed be a part of the major Expenditure Reforms initiated by the present Government in the last two years.

The revised guidelines prescribe institutional arrangements and formats for appraisal and approval of schemes (program based costs centers for delivery of public goods and services) and projects (which involve one-time expenditure for creation of capital assets yielding financial/economic returns). The implementing Ministries have been delegated powers to appraise schemes and projects costing up to Rs. 500 crore through their Standing Finance Committee and Delegated Investment Boards respectively. Specific time frame for appraisal have been laid down for speedier decision making. The revised guidelines are forward looking and will help the Departments restructure their schemes in a framework that is independent of the Plan Non-Plan distinction.

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25 cities prepare Comprehensive Mobility Plans
Aug 10,2016

25 cities have prepared Comprehensive Mobility Plans (CMP) based on origin and destination flow of traffic , identifying major traffic corridors and feeder corridors, land use etc which in turn would assist in proper urban planning. CMPs are subsequently made part of City Master Plans.

25 cities from 8 States prepared CMPs with central assistance. Ministry of Urban Development assists up to 80% of cost of preparation of CMPs.

In Karnataka, 14 cities that came out with CMPs are: Tumkur, Davanagere, Shimoga, Mangalore, Mysuru, Belgaum, Ballary, Gulbarga, Hubli-Dharwar, Bidar, Chitradurga, Bijapur, Hospet and Raichur.

Five cities with CMPs in Punjab are : Amritsar, Bhatinda, Jalandhar, Pathankot and Patiala.

Other such cities are : Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Kalyan-Dombivili(Maharashtra), Gangtok (Sikkim), Shillong (Meghalaya), Agartala (Tripura) and Jaipur(Rajasthan).

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Puducherry joins n++UDAYn++ scheme; would derive an overall net benefit of Rs 378 crore through n++UDAYn++
Aug 10,2016

The Government of India, and the Union Territory of Puducherry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under the Scheme UDAY - n++Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojanan++ for operational turnaround of the Union Territorys Electricity Department. The signing ceremony was held in the august presence of the Minister of State ( IC) for Power, Coal & New and Renewable Energy & Mines Shri Piyush Goyal.

Puducherry is the first Union Territory to sign MoU under UDAY. Along with the State of Madhya Pradesh which has also signed the MoU today, a total of 16 States/UT have joined the Scheme till date, with the combined DISCOM debt (including CPSU dues) of around Rs.2.51 lac crore that would be restructured as on 30th September, 2015.

The MoU paves way for improving operational efficiency of the Electricity Department of the Union Territory. Through compulsory Distribution Transformer metering, consumer indexing & GIS mapping of losses, upgrade/change transformers, meters etc., smart metering of high-end consumers, feeder audit etc. AT&C losses and transmission losses would be brought down, besides eliminating the gap between cost of supply of power and realisation. The reduction in AT&C losses and transmission losses to 12% and 0.95% respectively is likely to bring additional revenue of around Rs.165 crore during the period of turnaround.

While efforts will be made by the Electricity Department of the Union Territory to improve their operational efficiency, and thereby reduce the cost of supply of power, the Central Government would also provide incentives to the Govt of UT for improving Power infrastructure in the Union Territory and for further lowering the cost of power. The Central schemes such as DDUGJY, IPDS, Power Sector Development Fund or such other schemes of MOP and MNRE are already providing funds for improving Power Infrastructure in the Union Territory and additional/priority funding would be considered under these schemes, if the UT/Electricity Department meets the operational milestones outlined in the scheme. The UT shall also be supported through additional coal at notified prices and in case of availability, through higher capacity utilization, low cost power from NTPC and other CPSUs. Other benefits such as coal swapping, coal rationalization, correction in coal grade slippage, availability of 100% washed coal would help the state to further reduce the cost of Power. The UT would gain around Rs.135 crore due to these coal reforms.

Demand Side interventions in UDAY such as usage of energy-efficient LED bulbs, agricultural pumps, fans & air-conditioners and efficient industrial equipment through PAT (Perform, Achieve, Trade) would help in reducing peak load, flatten load curve and thus help in reducing energy consumption in the Union Territory of Puducherry. The gain is expected to be around Rs.72 crore. Further, with improved efficiency, the Electricity Department would be in a better position to borrow funds at cheaper rates for Power infrastructure development/improvement in the UT.

An overall net benefit of approximately Rs.378 crore would accrue to the UT by opting to participate in UDAY, by way of cheaper funds, reduction in AT&C and transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency, etc. during the period of turnaround.

The ultimate benefit of signing the MOU would go to the people of Puducherry. Reduced levels of transmission and AT&C losses would mean lesser cost per unit of electricity to consumers. Further, an operationally healthy Electricity Department would be in a position to supply more power. The scheme would allow speedy availability of power to around 7948 households in the UT that are still without electricity. Availability of cheaper, round the clock power would boost the economy, promote industries, thereby improving employment opportunities for the people of the Union Territory of Puducherry.

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Schemes for Retired Employees
Aug 10,2016

The pension of Central Civil Government servants appointed on or before 31.12.2003 is governed by the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules 1972 or the corresponding Pension Rules of other Services/Departments such as All India Services and Railways.

The Central Civil Government Servants appointed on or after 01.01.2004 are governed by the Defined Contribution-based Pension Scheme under the National Pension System.

The personnel belonging to the Defence Services continue to be eligible for pension under Defined Benefit Pension Rules applicable to defence personnel.

There is no proposal to introduce any new pension scheme for retired Central Government employees.

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ADB Sells $1.3 Billion in Global Green Bonds to Spur Climate Financing
Aug 10,2016

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has raised $1.3 billion to help finance climate change mitigation and adaptation projects with the issue of dual-tranche 3-year and 10-year green bonds, following its inaugural green bond issue in 2015.

n++Scaling up climate financing is essential for the region to keep its commitments to the Paris Agreement, adopted at last years climate change summit,n++ said ADB Treasurer Pierre Van Peteghem. n++Through robust climate finance to both the public and private sectors, ADB has demonstrated its commitment to a low-carbon future. Todays green bond issue also shows ADBs responsiveness to investors, who increasingly see the importance of green investment and sustainable development for Asia and the Pacific.n++

Last year, ADB announced that it will double its annual climate financing to $6 billion by 2020, up from $3 billion in 2015. ADBs spending on tackling climate change will rise to around 30% of its overall financing by the end of this decade. Out of the $6 billion, $4 billion will be dedicated to mitigation through scaling up support for renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, and building smart cities, while $2 billion will be for adaptation through more resilient infrastructure, climate-smart agriculture, and better preparation for climate-related disasters.

Proceeds of the green bonds will support low-carbon and climate resilient projects funded through ADBs ordinary capital resources and used in its non-concessional operations.

The 3-year bond has an issue size of $800 million, a coupon rate of 1% per annum payable semi-annually and a maturity date of 16 August 2019. It was priced at 99.779% to yield 22.75 basis points over the 0.75% US Treasury notes due July 2019. The 10-year bond has an issue size of $500 million, a coupon rate of 1.75% per annum payable semi-annually and a maturity date of 14 August 2026. It was priced at 99.745% to yield 21.9 basis points over the 1.625% US Treasury notes due May 2026.

The transaction was lead-managed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Agricole CIB, and J.P. Morgan. Co-lead managers were Daiwa Securities, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, SEB, and TD Securities.

The bonds were sold to about 70 investors including AGI, Banque Syz & Co SA, Black Rock, Calsters, Calvert Investments, Compass AM, Mirova, and State Street Global Advisors.

The issues achieved wide primary market distribution. For the 3-year bond, 58% of the bonds were placed in the Americas, 37% in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and 5% in Asia. By investor type, 44% of the bonds went to fund managers, 32% to central banks and official institutions, 16% to banks, and 8% to insurance, pension and other types of investors. For the 10-year bond, 49% of the bonds were placed in Asia, 32% in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and 19% in the Americas. By investor type, 46% of the bonds went to insurance, pension and other types of investors, 30% to fund managers, 13% to banks, and 11% to central banks and official institutions.

ADB plans to raise around $20 billion from the capital markets in 2016.

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PHO Commences Functioning in New Mangalore Port Trust
Aug 10,2016

As a part of ease of doing business, a full-fledged PHO office started functioning at New Mangalore Port Trust from 8-8-2016. With the persuasion of NMPT, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has sanctioned the above office inside the Port. With the establishment of this office, the port is in a position to give clearance to all foreign going vessels smoothly. This will also help the embarkation/disembarkation of cruise tourists at the port, thereby encouraging cruise tourism in Mangalore.

The Port Health Officer and supporting staff has been provided by the PHO, Cochin which was established to ensure prevention of entry of Quarantinable diseases (Diseases subjected to International Health Regulations) into the country under Indian Port Health Rules 1955. PHO, is designated for issue of Ship Sanitation Control Exemption Certificate, Ship Sanitation Control Certificate and Ship Sanitation Extension Certificate to Ships.

The Port Chairman has expressed thanks to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for extending this facility to NMPT which will immensely benefit the shipping fraternity.

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NHAI Signs MOU with IIT- Kharagpur for Research Project on Paneled Cement Concrete Pavements for Highways
Aug 10,2016

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with IIT-Kharagpur for research project on Laboratory and Field investigations on Paneled Cement Concrete Pavements for Highways. The duration of the research project is 3 years and NHAI have paid Rs. 1.25 crore for the project, excluding cost of construction of trial pavement section on NH.

In India, the highways are generally paved with Bituminous (Asphaltic Concrete) material produced from refineries. However, it has been experienced that these highways are prone to damage and need frequent maintenance due to adverse climatic conditions such as rain and hot weather prevailing in the country. Therefore, to overcome this problem, the Government of India has recently announced a policy for the construction of concrete pavements for all major highways due to their longevity and maintenance free life.

Traditionally and as per the current practices, the construction of these highways requires a monolithic (in-situ) layer of cement concrete normally 300 mm thick laid continuously over the prepared surface, therefore, an innovation is required to optimize the design of concrete pavement in its traditional form which can facilitate faster construction at much cheaper cost, thus, consuming less natural resources and promote Green Highways in the country. Any saving in design and construction with the help of new technology will not only entail huge investment but also save consumption of substantial quantity of natural resources used for production of cement and stone aggregates.

NHAI in collaboration with IIT Kharagpur shall promote to develop a technology to construct Panelled Cement Concrete (Pre-fabricated in a small panel size) which can replace the design of construction of existing cement concrete road.

The Paneled concrete pavement laid on a lean concrete base can fulfil the Government of Indias dream of providing long lasting maintenance free pavement at a cost on par with those of asphalt pavements. Such pavements laid at a few places in India have given good service when used as an overlay over a bituminous layer commonly termed as White Topping (WT) but an extensive study is required to formulate the design practices for its use in wider perspective.

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Indirect Tax Collections up to July, 2016 indicate net revenue collections of Rs.2,71,719 crore
Aug 10,2016

The figures for indirect tax revenue (provisional) collections upto July, 2016 show that the net revenue collections are at Rs. 2,71,719 crore as compared to Rs. 2,09,217 crore for the corresponding period last year and thereby registering a growth of 29.9% in the net collections.

Till July, 2016, 34.9 % of the Budget Estimates of indirect taxes for FY 2016-17 has been achieved.

Tax collections on account of Central Excise stood at Rs. 31,782 crore in month of July 2016 as compared to Rs. 20,658 crore during the same period in last year (July 2015) and there by registering a growth of 53.8% in this period.Total collections on account of Central Excise during the first four months of current FY 2016-17(April 2016-July 2016) stood at Rs.1,23,273 crore as compared to Rs. 81,748 crore during the same period in last Financial Year and thereby registering the growth of 50.8%.

Tax collections on account of Service Tax stood at Rs. 19,600 crore in month of July 2016 as compared to Rs. 15,685 crore during the same period in last year (July 2015) and there by registering a growth of 25% in this period. Total collections on account of Service Tax during the first four months of current FY 2016-17(April 2016-July 2016) stood at Rs.7,66,79 crore as compared to Rs. 60,974 crore during the same period in last Financial Year and thereby registering the growth of 25.8%.

Tax collections on account of Customs stood at Rs. 16,959 crore in month of July 2016 as compared to Rs. 19,045 crore during the same period in last year (July 2015) and showing a decline of 11% in this period. Total collections on account of Customs during the first four months of current FY 2016-17 (April 2016-July 2016) stood at Rs. 71,767 crore as compared to Rs. 66,495 crore during the same period in last Financial Year and thereby registering the growth of 7.9%.

Full details of Indirect Tax revenue (provisional) collections, along with growth rate compared to the corresponding period in the previous year are as given below in the tabulated form:

For the month July 2016

(Rs. in crores)

Tax HeadFor JulyUpto July% of BE achievementB.E.
2016-17
2015-162016-17% Growth2015-162016-17% GrowthCustoms2300001904516959(-) 1166495717677.931.2Central Excise*317000206583178253.88174812327350.838.9Service Tax231000156851960025.0609747667925.833.2Total778000553886834123.420921727171929.934.9

*Exclusive of cess administered by other departments.

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Direct Tax Collections upto July, 2016 indicate net revenue collections of Rs.1.59 lakh crore
Aug 10,2016

The figures for direct tax collections upto July, 2016 show that net revenue collections are at Rs.1.59 lakh crore which is 24.01% more than the net collections for the corresponding period last year. Till July, 2016, 18.82%of the Budget Estimates of direct taxes for FY 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 11.65% while that under PIT (including STT etc.) is 31.47%. However, after adjusting for refunds, the net growth in CIT collections is 2.84% while that in PIT collections is 46.55%. Refunds amounting to Rs.64,181 crore have been issued during April-July, 2016, which is 10.43% higher than the refunds issued during the corresponding period last year.

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