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India Ratings Affirms ONGC Petro Additions at IND A+/Positive
Apr 25,2017

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has affirmed ONGC Petro Additions Limiteds (OPAL) Long-Term Issuer Rating at IND A+. The Outlook is Positive. India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has affirmed ONGC Petro Additions Limiteds (OPAL) Long-Term Issuer Rating at IND A+. The Outlook is Positive.

Key rating drivers:

Plant Commissioning: Ind-Ra has maintained a Positive Outlook on OPAL to reflect the commissioning of OPALs greenfield petrochemicals complex in FY17 and the companys expectations that the operations will be stabilised in FY18. The performance guarantee test runs are underway. Commercial operations at the petrochemical plants polypropylene unit were started in June 2015.

Linkages with Sponsors: The affirmation reflects Ind-Ras expectation that Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) will continue to support OPAL, considering the strong strategic and operational linkages between the two entities. OPAL is a forward integration project for ONGC and is thus strategically important for the latter. ONGC, along with another sponsor GAIL (India) Ltd (IND AAA/Stable), has provided the necessary undertakings to support any cost overruns in the project.

Plant Size and Scale: OPALs petrochemical complex (1.1 million metric tonnes per annum capacity) is of a large size and scale. The barriers to entry into a petrochemical business are high, considering the complexity, capital, technical expertise and experience required to set up a project of this scale. The plant will primarily manufacture polypropylene, linear low-density polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, pygas, benzene etc. These products have a strong demand potential in India as well as in the other regions of Asia. OPAL is also focusing on producing higher grades of products which are being imported and are likely to command a higher premium. The company is also likely to benefit by selling its finished products within the special economic zones where it has a ready customer base.

Feedstock Linkages: OPAL has an assured supply of its key feedstock, namely ethane (C2), propane (C3), butane (C4) and naphtha (aromatic rich and low aromatic), from ONGC. Naptha is billed in Indian rupee and C2, C3, C4 in US dollars. C2, C3, C4 were to be billed on a cost-plus conversion cost basis under the initial agreements signed between ONGC and OPAL. Delays in the laying of a naptha pipeline from ONGCs Hazira plant has resulted in increased procurement cost for OPAL. The feedstock agreement is being revisited and the terms are likely to continue according to the initial agreement. OPAL is confident of being compensated by ONGC for the increased procurement cost. Also, OPALs dual feed cracker will enable it to substitute naphtha with ethane and thus help it earn better profitability than from the traditional naphtha cracker. Any significant changes to the feedstock agreement, detrimental to OPAL, are likely to impact its profitability.

Refinancing Pressure: OPAL has repayments of INR71,790 million due at FYE18. OPAL may refinance/ roll over the short-term loans and may service term loans from internal accruals or borrow additional loans. In July 2016, OPAL raised INR56,150 million CCDs with a credit enhancement. The CCD proceeds were used to fully repay the medium term loan, subordinate loan and partially repay the short-term loans. OPAL plans to raise INR16,710 million through another CCD issuance in 1QFY18.

OPAL had to maintain a debt-equity ratio at 1.41:1 post-December 2015, as stipulated under the lenders agreement. It has received an extension of the timeline to meet the covenant from some lenders. The debt-equity ratio was 1.91:1 on 31 December 2016. However, Ind-Ra draws comfort from ONGCs strong and ongoing sponsor support to OPAL.

Lower-than-estimated Equity Infusion: Lower-than-estimated equity infusions by OPALs existing sponsors as well as delays in getting strategic investors on board have led to additional debt for the company in form of subordinate debt and short-term loans to fund its capex. This has increased its leverage levels and interest costs during construction. OPAL in July 2016 issued INR56,150 million of 8.75% CCDs and will issue INR16,710 million CCDs in 1QFY18 for partially financing project expenditure and meet repayment obligations. OPALs profitability and timely debt servicing in its initial years of operations depend significantly on timely equity infusions and the consequent reduction in debt and interest burden.

Backstopping Arrangement from Sponsor for CCDs: The SO rating draws comfort from the unconditional and irrevocable mandatory put option on the sponsor, ONGC for a buy-out of the CCDs at the end of the 35th month from the deemed date of allotment, as well as the undertaking to fund the coupon payment. The sponsor would also have the right to buy-out the CCD at the end of the 24th, 30th and 35th month from the deemed date of allotment. As per the draft term sheet shared by OPAL with Ind-Ra, the CCDs would have a tenor of 36 months from the deemed date of allotment and will not have any conversion option for the period it is held by the investor. OPAL would use the proceeds for partially financing the project expenditures and repaying existing credit facilities availed from banks/financial institutions.

Undertaking for Coupon Payment of CCDs: The rating also factors the payment mechanism for timely coupon servicing on the CCDs. The CCDs would have an annual coupon payment, which will be paid through a no-lien service account created by OPAL. OPAL/ONGC will fund the service account with the requisite amount of the coupon payment on or before the coupon payment date.


Positive: Stabilisation of operations and an improvement in the credit profile as envisaged by management could be positive for the ratings.

Negative: Inability to ramp up operations resulting in lower-than-expected improvement in the credit metrics in FY18 and/or any delay in support from the sponsors could be negative for the ratings.

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Government Printing Press to be upgraded at a cost of Rs.338 crore
Apr 24,2017

Modernisation and redevelopment of Government of India Printing Press at Minto Road in New Delhi will be taken up at a cost of Rs.338.56 cr.

Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu has accepted the recommendation of the Standing Finance Committee in this regard.

The present building of the Press will be redeveloped at a cost of Rs.238.56 cr into three blocks of Ground plus six floors suitable to locate the modern technology and equipment to be installed at a cost of Rs.100 cr.

At present, the machines and equipment being used are of 1980-2005 vintage and some of them installed as early as in 1968, resulting in high cost of production, demand for printing not being met in time besides non-availability of spare parts requiring their refabrication.

With redevelopment and modernisation, the production capacity of the Government of India Printing Press at Minto Road in the national capital will increase from the present 16 lakh pages per day (60 cr pages per year)of A-5 size to 45 lakh pages per day (164.96 cr pages per year) marking an increase of 177% in production capacity. Multi-colour printing, which is not available presently will be made available.

This Government Printing Press meets all printing needs of both the Houses of Parliament including day to day Parliamentary proceedings, Question Lists, Bills, Acts, Synopsis, Reports, Debates, Whos Who, Parliamentary Committee reports besides the needs of Cabinet Secretariat and various Ministries and Departments of central government. Due to lack of multi-colour printing facility at present, such work as in the case of printing of Annual Reports of various ministries and departments is being outsourced.

The entire redevelopment and modernisation work would be completed in 52 months from now.

From the available land of 22,017 sq.mtres, about 1.50 acres would be transferred to the Ministry of Finance for construction of building for Controller General of Accounts and Public Finance Management System (PFMS).

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Multilateral Banks to Deepen Collaboration with Private Sector to Boost Inclusive, Sustainable Infrastructure
Apr 24,2017

Leaders of the top multilateral development banks (MDBs) have agreed to deepen their collaboration to encourage private sector investment in vital infrastructure needed to support sustainable and inclusive economic growth throughout the world.

Basic infrastructure services n++ like roads, water and sewage lines, and electrical power n++ are scarce in many developing countries. Over one billion people live without electricity, more than 660 million people dont have access to clean drinking water, and one in three people lack access to flushing toilets and sewerage infrastructure. In addition, countries face the urgent need to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure and renewable, efficient energy sources.

With trillions of dollars in capital sitting on the sidelines earning low or even negative returns, deeper engagement with the private sector can create win-win scenarios where investors earn better returns on long-term investments and developing countries get much needed investment and expertise.

In order to fulfill commitments that countries throughout the world made to meet the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, the MDBs pledged not only to leverage their resources by joining forces to cofinance projects, but also to help generate interest among private sector investors in Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and the development of infrastructure as an asset class for institutional investors.

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Fitch: RBI Strengthens Tools to Intervene in Ailing Indian Banks
Apr 24,2017

The Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) updated prompt corrective action (PCA) framework could suggest a greater willingness to take regulatory action to address problems at struggling banks, but its implementation is only likely to be effective if it is matched by credible plans to address banks significant asset quality issues and capital shortages, says Fitch Ratings.

The RBI has tightened the thresholds - for capital ratios, NPLs, profitability and leverage - at which banks enter the PCA framework. This appears to be an acknowledgement of the significant asset quality stress in the system and that more banks are in need of regulatory intervention. PCA was previously viewed as an extraordinary step, which the RBI urged banks to make great efforts to avoid. That now looks likely to change. More than half of state-owned banks would breach at least one of the new thresholds, mainly owing to high NPLs, based on their latest financial reports. The new PCA framework will be invoked on the basis of the banks FY17 financials, which they are still reporting.

The RBI has also given itself greater discretion in terms of the measures it can use to intervene in banks once they fall under the PCA framework, which suggests it has recognised a need to take corrective action at an earlier stage when banks run into difficulties. The previous PCA, in contrast, explicitly reserved the most interventionist actions for banks that had breached more extreme thresholds. It is possible that intervention could involve forcing banks to conserve capital, if other actions do not address problems. The risk of non-performance on bank capital instruments may therefore have risen.

The actual impact of the new PCA rules will depend on how the RBI uses them. Two circulars released on Tuesday, which pressure banks to make provisions above the regulatory minimum and require further disclosures on NPLs, point to the RBIs seriousness. These circulars might weigh on bank earnings in the next round of reports. Should the additional disclosures reveal weaknesses that are greater than expected there could be further pressure on the banks Viability Ratings.

The RBI primarily limited itself to restricting bank lending under the previous PCA framework. The scope for possible regulatory actions has been broadened under the amended framework, but it remains uncertain to what extent the RBI will use the tools it has just made available.

Moreover, the RBI will not be able to address problems in the banking sector on its own. Significant efforts to resolve bad loans, for example, would leave banks in need of recapitalisation, given that haircuts and increased provisions would be required. State banks are generally in a poor position to raise new capital, which makes them largely reliant on the government for recapitalisation.

The RBI may use the PCA framework to identify weak banks as candidates for mergers. State Bank of India took over five smaller lenders earlier this month, and further consolidation could be part of the overall strategy to clean up the banking system. However, mergers would also require the support of the government.

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India can Marry Age Dividend and Skill Development for Global Leadership in Services Exports: Commerce Secretary
Apr 24,2017

Indias demographics coupled with its strong push for skill development can impart it global leadership in services exports, said Smt Rita Teaotia, Commerce Secretary, at the close of the Global Exhibition on Services (GES). The GES was organised by the Department of Commerce in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Services Export Promotion Council.

Ms Teaotia said that India has submitted the framework document for trade facilitation of services trade with WTO. This would enable countries to plan and grow their services sectors, opening new avenues for trade beyond merchandise exports.

The Commerce Secretary emphasized that India offers both breadth and depth in its services exports, with high quality services at competitive costs. The GES has emerged as a powerful platform as one of the few exhibitions showcasing services sectors in the world.

Mr. Anup Wadhawan, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, noted that GES is growing from strength to strength with increasing domestic and international stakeholders.

Mr Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, observed that 24 Indian states participated in GES bringing international and domestic buyers of services to interact with State Governments and enter into MoUs.

He shared that Media & Entertainment and Tourism were key sectors with 35 MOUs signed.

Ms. Shobana Kamineni, President Designate, CII, said that 62% of Indian GDP is contributed by the services sector. A recent trend is that traditional manufacturing is becoming a hybrid, adding services into its core activity. While Indian software services are leading the outsourcing markets internationally, other sectors including Media and entertainment, healthcare, tourism sectors are also key sectors of interest.

Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII noted that GES has now become an internationally recognised platform, with more than 5,000 B2B meetings.

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Make in India gets metro boost; local procurement made mandatory
Apr 24,2017

With rapid expansion of metro rail projects in the country, Ministry of Urban Development has taken several far reaching decisions to promote Make in India campaign. These include stipulating certain mandatory conditions to be incorporated in Tender Documents of metro companies for procurement of metro cars and related critical equipment and sub-systems, procurement of only Made in India signaling equipment besides standardizing technical parameters for rolling stock (metro coaches) and signaling equipment.

The new mandatory Tender Conditions and standardized norms for a wide range of equipment, approved by the Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu have been circulated to all the metro companies on Friday this week making them effective immediately.

These initiatives will incentivize setting up manufacturing facilities in the country by increasing the volumes of procurement of rolling stock and all kinds of equipment by removing variations in the present technical norms for rolling stock and signaling equipment. This will in turn result in reduction of cost through economies of scale.

The Ministry has stipulated the following mandatory conditions to be incorporated in Tender Documents:

1.Minimum 75% of the tendered quantity of metro cars shall be manufactured indigenously with progressive indigenization of content, for which the contractor may either establish independent manufacturing facility in India or partner with Indian manufacturers, if the procurement is more than 100 cars;

2.To facilitate ease in maintenance through easy availability of spares beyond the warranty period, an identified list of critical equipment and sub-systems shall be included in the Tender Document for ensuring indigenous manufacturing of a minimum of 25% of such equipment, either by Original Equipment Manufacturers themselves by establishing a wholly owned subsidiary in India or through Indian manufacturers;

3. Requirement of metro cars at State level shall be clubbed to enable applicability of local procurement norms; and

4.To develop in-house expertise on long term basis, metro companies with large size fleet to undertake in-house maintenance.

A total number of 1,912 metro coaches are currently operational in the country with another 1,420 under procurement. Over the next three years more than 1,600 metro cars would be required. Each metro coach is estimated to cost about Rs.10 cr.

The Ministry has concluded the long pending standaridisation of norms for rolling stock and signaling equipment applicable to over 90% of the present imports. Further, to promote indigenous manufacturing, the Ministry has stipulated procurement of 9 types of signaling equipment from within the country. Metro companies have also been directed to develop maximum possible local competence so that knowhow and technical support is available within the country. Indian companies have to be associated with production of a wide range of signaling and train control project equipment.

Indigenization of several metro functions has also been prescribed. These relate to communication systems, managing operational disturbances, time table preparation, fault reporting, control traction power, maintenance, infrastructure supervision, rolling stock management etc.

The new standardized norms prescribe that the rolling stock and related equipment and systems shall enable Unattended Train Operations, Driverless Train Operations, Standard rail gauge of 1,435 mm, Metro cars with body width of 2.90 meters for passenger capacity of up to 45,000 Peak Hour Peak Distance capacity, body width of 3.20 meters for capacity above 45,000 PHPD, only 3 car, 6 car or 9 car rail combination, operational speed of 80 kmph, minimum 67% motorization for all rolling stock etc. Norms have also been prescribed for Acceleration Rates, Energy Consumption, Noise and Vibration levels, Collision Standards etc.

Further to these initiatives, Ministry of Urban Development will soon evolve common eligible criteria for suppliers of rolling stock and other equipment doing away with the present variations across different metro companies.

Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary(UD) discussed with Managing Directors of metro companies on Friday the variations in the present eligibility criteria. Noting that such variations adversely impact competition, he directed that a broadly uniform criteria in respect of Net Worth, Financial and technical capacities and experience of supply of rolling stock and other equipment etc should be evolved in two weeks.

Presently, metros are operating in 7 cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Chennai with a total route length of 326 kms. Metro projects with a total route length of 546 kms are under construction in 11 cities and projects with a total route length of 903 kms in 13 cities are under consideration.

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Date for filing of declaration under PMGKY extended up
Apr 22,2017

The Taxation and Investment Regime for Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana,2016 (PMGKY) had commenced on 17th December, 2016 and was open for declarations up to 31st March, 2017.

Representations from stakeholders have been received stating that in some cases tax, surcharge and penalty have been paid on or before 31st March, 2017 but the corresponding deposit under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016 (Deposit Scheme) could not be made by the said date. Accordingly, DEA vide notification S.O.1218(E) dated 19th April, 2017 has extended the date of making deposit under the Deposit Scheme upto 30th April, 2017 in respect of cases where tax, surcharge and penalty under PMGKY has been paid on or before 31st March, 2017.

Subsequently, CBDT vide Circular No.14 of 2017 dated 21st April, 2017 has extended the date of filing of declaration under PMGKY to 10th May, 2017 in cases where tax, surcharge and penalty under PMGKY has been paid on or before the 31st March, 2017, and deposit under the Deposit Scheme has been made on or before the 30th April, 2017.

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One Crore MGNREGA assets geotagged
Apr 22,2017

Mahatma Gandhi NREGS has reached a new milestone today by geotagging one Crore assets and putting them in public domain.

The scale of rural assets created under MGNREGA is very large. Since the inception of the programme in financial year 2006-07, about 2.82 Crore assets have been created under the programme. On an average, about 30 Lakh Assets are created annually which includes a variety of works such as water harvesting structures, plantations, rural infrastructure, flood control measures, individual assets for sustainable livelihood, community infrastructure and so on. The process of geotagging is going on and all assets under MGNREGS will be geotagged. Special focus is being given to geotag Natural Resource Management works especially the water related works.

GeoMGNREGA is a unique endeavor of the Ministry of Rural Development in association with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), ISRO and National Informatics Centre. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Ministry of Rural Development with NRSC on 24th June 2016 for geo-tagging the assets created under MGNREGS in each gram panchayat. Strength of Space technology has been leveraged.

Pursuant to the signing of MoU, training manuals were developed in consultation with NRSC. Training was imparted to around 2.76 Lakh personnel across the country with the help of National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR). The training programme was conducted in the last week of August, 2016. The geotagging exercise started from 1st September, 2016. One Crore assets have been geotagged and put in public domain in the last seven months. It is expected that the exercise will lead to greater transparency and ensure accountability at field level.

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Quality Mark Award Scheme for Dairy Cooperatives initiated by NDDB
Apr 22,2017

As part of the innovative initiatives under the n++White Revolutionn++ umbrella Schemes, the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries has supported the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) developed initiative of n++Quality Markn++ Award Scheme for dairy Cooperatives to promote and encourage enhancement of safety, quality and hygiene of milk and milk products manufactured by dairy cooperatives. It is aimed at bringing about process improvement in the entire value chain from producer to the consumer to ensure availability of safe and quality of milk and products both for the domestic and foreign market. The Quality Markn++ Award Scheme for dairy Cooperatives in the country has been initiated to instill confidence in the consumers for the quality of milk being marketed by them by ensuring availability of safe and good quality milk and milk products. The quality mark scheme was rolled out on 6th January-2016 after deliberating on the process and award mechanism for over a year. The initiative does not propose any new/ additional system for Food Safety and Quality Management but lays down minimum standards against each link of the processes required for ensuring quality and safety.

The NDDB is in the process of registering the quality mark logo under Trademarks Act, 1998. The Dairy units which meet the criteria for award of quality mark will be allowed to use the logo on the package containing milk and milk products and the award of the quality mark shall be specific for location of the dairy unit as well as for the process for a particular product. The mark may be applied to the packaging or printed on a label affixed to the package. The logo/symbol of quality mark on milk and milk product packages indicates that the dairy unit has adopted and implemented all the processes required as per the food safety and quality management system for manufacture of milk and milk products as per the set quality parameters.

The assessment is a two-step process involving pre-assessment and a final assessment. The pre-assessment largely covers the village level procurement and processing infrastructure availability, training manpower and the retail sales. Only those dairy units that score over 70% in the preliminary assessment are considered for final assessment which is done by a team of three experts of which one is an external expert. The final assessment is made for the evaluation of 45 critical and 97 major parameters that influence the quality of the processed milk and milk products. The award of Quality Mark shall be valid for three years subject to maintenance of quality, food safety standards and compliance with terms and conditions of the agreement.

The guideline document for award of quality mark was finalized based on the discussions of the working group in the meetings at Anand and Delhi in November, 2014 and August 11, 2015. Thereafter, comments were sought from the members which were discussed during the roll out meeting at Anand, on 6th January, 2016 by incorporating the feedback from different stakeholders. After the finalization of quality mark documents, it was circulated to the State Milk Federations & District Milk Unions. The interested State Milk Federations /Cooperative Dairies /Educational Institutions / Govt. Dairy Units are required to apply for the award of Quality Mark Management (QM) document. The document has been finalized after a series of deliberations which began in November, 2014 and was rolled out in January 2016.

An eleven member Management Committee has been envisaged to oversee the activities of the Quality Mark. The Management Committee has members including the representatives of DADF, FSSAI and Managing Directors of four State Milk Federations representing the regions and two Experts in Dairying. The first meeting of the Management Committee of the Quality Mark was held at Anand on March 15, 2017. Representative of the Food Safety and Standards Authority & DADF also attended the meeting. In the meeting the formal nationwide launch of the Quality Mark was discussed and it was recommended to have a formal launch of the Quality Mark after the current Parliament Session by the Honble Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.

Since roll out of quality mark initiative by NDDB, on 6th January, 2016, NDDB has so far received 53 applications (comprising Karnataka-13, Mother Dairy-8, Punjab-4, Tamil Nadu-5, Haryana-4, Bihar-11, Maharashtra-4, MP-4) for award of the Quality Mark. Out of 53, 30 applications have been assessed and 13 Dairy Units have been found eligible for award of Quality Mark logo by NDDB.

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India and Republic of Korea sign Inter-Governmental MOU for Defence Industry Co-Operation in Shipbuilding
Apr 21,2017

India and the Republic of Korea (RoK) signed an Inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Defence Industry Co-operation in Shipbuilding here today. The MoU was signed by Secretary (Defence Production), Shri Ashok Kumar Gupta from the Indian side and Minister of Defence Acquisition and Programme Administration (DAPA), Mr. Chang Myoung-Jin from the RoK side. The MoU will help the Make in India initiative of the Government of India.

The salient points of the MoU are as follows:-

n++ Develop and strengthen defence industry co-operation between Republic of India and the Republic of Korea.

n++ The two sides will recommend the organisations for collaborating in the implementation of specific projects.

n++ The organisations recommended for co-operative projects may conclude separate agreements (contracts) between them to implement the specific projects.

n++ The MoU will come into effect from the date of signature by both sides and will be initially valid for a period of five years and would be automatically extendable for further successive five year at a time.

The Inter-Governmental MoU, was conceived under the overall umbrella of the Special Strategic Partnership between both sides as declared in the Joint Statement of the Prime Minister of India and the President of RoK in May 2015.

To substantiate the Special Strategic Partnership, the two sides had inter-alia agreed to encourage greater co-operation between their shipyards in the defence sector. Accordingly, it was decided to sign an inter-governmental MoU on Defence Industry Co-operation in Shipbuilding. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has accorded its approval for signing the above MoU with RoK and also for nominating Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam from the Indian side for the collaboration. RoK will indicate the name of its recommended organisation for the collaboration in due course of time.

The co-operation with the recommended Korean Shipyard would enable HSL to upgrade and modernise its facilities and execute naval shipbuilding projects in a timely and cost effective manner. HSL would be able to imbibe best practices in shipbuilding leading to effective project management.

As a result of the proposed partnership, the production of HSL is expected to grow substantially, leading to creation of more employment avenues. Further, in consultation with the recommended Korean partner, it is planned to identify and develop indigenous sources/vendors for the supply of majority of the material and equipment that would be needed in co-operative naval projects, thus paving the way for the development of ancillary industry /maritime cluster in the region.

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World Bank Approves $ 375 Million Loan for Developing National Waterway-1
Apr 21,2017

In a major boost towards realising countrys ambitious inland waterways project, the World Bank has approved a $375 million loan for capacity augmentation of National Waterway-1(River Ganga) under Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP).

The government is developing NW-1 (River Ganga) under JMVP from Haldia to Varanasi (1390 Km) with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs 5369 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1500-2,000 DWT.

Under the project, there are going to be three multi-modal terminals--one each at Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Sahibganj (Jharkhand), and Haldia (West Bengal), two inter-modal terminals- at Kalughat and Ghazipur, a new Navigation Lock at Farakka, five Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) terminals, development of Ferry services at Varanasi, Patna, Bhagalpur, Munger, Kolkata and Haldia and Vessel repair and maintenance facilities.

While the contracts for construction of multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Sahibganj, and a new Navigation Lock at Farakka have been awarded, and the work at respective sites has commenced, the construction of multi-modal terminal at Haldia will begin soon. The foundation stone for the multi-modal terminal at Sahibganj was laid by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 6th April, 2017. In August 2016, the Minister for Road Transport, Highways & Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stone for multi-modal terminal at Varanasi.

Jal Marg Vikas Project also includes proposal for Performance Based Maintenance Dredging Contract for Provision of Least Assured Depth (LAD) of 3 metres between Farakka to Kahalgaon, and Sultanganj to Barh; LAD of 2.5 metres between Barh to Doriganj, and Doriganj to Ghazipur; and LAD of 2.2 metres between Ghazipur to Varanasi.

In addition, the project will enable IWAI setting up of River Information Service System on NW -1 for the first time in India. River Information System (RIS) are equipment, hardware and software information technology (IT) related services designed to optimize traffic and transport processes in inland navigation.

JMVP will also support the design and development of low draft vessels capable of carrying up to 2000 tonnes of cargo in shallower depths.

NW-1 is a waterway of national significance passing through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, serving the major cities of Allahabad, Varanasi, Ghazipur, Bhagalpur, Patna, Howrah, Haldia and Kolkata, and their industrial hinterland including several industries located in the Ganga basin. The Rail and Road corridors in this region are heavily saturated. Hence, the development of NW-1 would provide an alternative, viable, economical, efficient and eco-friendly mode of transport. The waterway will act as a catalyst in the socio-economic development of the regions by creating new business and employment opportunities.

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Patanjali to go global says Acharya Balkrishna
Apr 21,2017

Shri Acharya Balkrishna, co-founder and CEO of Patanjali Ayurveda announced Patanjalis plans of going global in the near future.

He urged players of food processing sector to come together and promote heathy food products.

n++This initiative taken by FICCI is an example of industry players taking a step towards making Indian food industry an international brand accepted by all. Patanjali Ayurveda is committed to go global and fight adulteration in Food industry,n++ said Shri Acharya Balakrishna, CEO, Patanjali Ayurveda.

Patanjali already has its presence in many countries thereby giving a push to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modis drive of Make in India.

The Food Buyer Seller Meet is an unique initiative taken by FICCI to promote Indian Food Industries and showcase brand India as global suppliers of various food products. Buyers from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Iran, Egypt, European and African countries are participating in the food buyer seller meet. More than 1500 buyer seller meetings are expected to take place at this event. The estimated worth of business to be generated from this event is one hundred crores rupees.

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Ind-Ra: Manufacturing Exporters to Exhibit Improvements in Credit Profiles in FY18
Apr 21,2017

The double-digit growth in merchandise exports in the last two months was driven by the recovery in global commodity prices rather than higher volumes, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The agency expects the inflationary impact of higher commodity prices to result in better demand conditions for manufacturing exporters. The broad based increase in commodity prices will also benefit the nominal EBITDA generation and consequently the credit profiles of exporting corporates in commodity-linked sectors. Better demand conditions in western economies and the knock-on effect of higher commodity prices on emerging economies will result in higher export volumes over FY18 for sectors such as textiles, auto and auto components, chemicals and gems and jewellery.

Indian merchandise exports (in USD terms) rose for the seventh consecutive month in March (27.6% yoy), resulting in a cumulative growth of 4.7% in FY17 (FY16: -15.5%). The growth in March 2017 was led by both oil (69.1% yoy) as well as non-oil (23.2% yoy) exports and reflected the second consecutive month of double digit growth (February: 17.5% yoy). While, merchandise exports have grown substantially over the last couple of months, a closer look at manufacturing data suggests that volume growth across exporting corporates may not have been broad-based. In February 2017, the manufacturing component of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) contracted by 2% (April 2016- February 2017: negative 0.3%). Similarly, cargo shipment volumes at major ports in the month of February 2017 grew by a mere 0.3% yoy (April 2016- February 2017: 6.5%). The growth in Indian merchandise exports also coincides with export growth demonstrated by other Asian peers, which have also benefitted from rising commodity prices. At the end of March 2017, the World Banks non-energy price index, energy price index and base metal price index were up 9.3% yoy, 38% yoy and 22.4% yoy respectively.

As per the Ministry of Commerce data, merchandise exports (in USD) to the United States and the EU in March 2017 increased 8.99% yoy and 9.27% yoy respectively, reflecting the improving consumption scenario in both regions. Indian passenger vehicle and MHCV exports which are largely shipped to the US and EU registered a volume growth of 16.2% and 24.2% respectively (Source: SIAM) in FY17, reflecting the supportive demand conditions. Furthermore, retail sales in western economies continue to grow at a healthy pace which bodes well for corporates exporting textile products. However, Ind-Ra believes that textile exporters credit profile will not benefit significantly due to their limited ability to control prices, owing to stiff competition from other Asian exporters. Gems and jewellery companies will benefit from the sustained improvement in demand conditions which is expected to lead to higher discretionary spending.

Globally, demand from developed economies remained healthy over FY17, however merchandise exports to Asian countries (about 50% share in exports) continued to be modest over FY17. Deliveries to Africa and Latin America remained muted, as was reflected in de-growth in the value of shipments. Reflecting the subdued demand conditions, two wheeler exports de-grew by 5.8% in FY17 (Source: SIAM). Nonetheless, Ind-Ra believes that continued growth in developed markets, coupled with the recovery in commodity prices will translate to moderate improvement in export volumes to Asia and Africa as well over FY18.

While, the agency expects the gradual recovery in demand conditions to continue, Indian exporters will continue to face down-side risks from protectionist policies in the US, a further slowdown in Chinese growth and will remain exposed to the effects of changes in commodity prices. Protectionist policies are expected to have a varied impact on exporting corporates with the service sector expected to be impacted to a greater degree. Software service export growth remained muted recently (3QFY17: -1.2%, 2QFY17: -0.1%, 1QFY17: 0.3%), as incremental IT spending by global corporates have remained muted. Lower revenue growth of Indian IT exporters will get exacerbated by declining margins due to adverse immigration policies which will lead to higher employee costs.

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C-DOT develops CCSP (C-DOT Common Service Platform) to make smart cities more efficient, economical and future proof
Apr 21,2017

Government of Indias announcement of Smart Cities project in mission mode has generated a lot of interest. The concept of smart cities is incomplete without intervention of communication and Information Technology.

A network of wireless sensors, a reliable public communication infrastructure and innovative applications working on big data and analytics will help us realise smart cities. Innovative local solutions will have to be found for local problems. Though this offers great opportunities to industry, including, MSMEs and start-ups. But adoption of standards will ensure that solution developers do not reinvent the wheel but devote their energies to the actual building of product and on innovations. Further, the interoperability will be another dividend of a standards based approach.

Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India (TSDSI), the Indian telecom Standards Development Organisation (SDO) and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), an established and highly respected, 29 years old telecom SDO have joined hands to unroll a collaboration project on ICT Standardisation in an endeavour of creating awareness about telecom standards and promoting their wider adoption that Recognising C-DOTs R&D strengths, an India - European Union project called India-EU Cooperation on ICT-Related Standardisation, Policy and Legislation is organising a workshop on n++Future proof smart cities with a common service layer: a standards driven approachn++ at C-DOT campus. Some of the global smart cities will be sharing the standards driven approach they have adopted for building smart cities in their countries.

The workshop aims to provide a platform where foreign and Indian experts from IoT and M2M forums, academia, R&D, industry and senior officials from Ministries of Communications, Urban Development and Electronics and Information Technology and cities named in Indian Smart Cities project can interact to share knowledge and experiences. It is also planned to enrich the interaction by inviting City Councillors from Europe and Korea who have actually implemented smart city projects in their respective cities.

C-DOTs offering:

C-DOT has developed CCSP(C-DOT Common Service Platform), the oneM2M standards compliant common service platform which can be deployed on any off-the-shelf generic server platforms or cloud infrastructure. The business application providers can deploy their oneM2M compliant applications in either co-located infrastructure or on any public or private cloud.

Using the CCSP platform from C-DOT, the smart cities can reap all the benefits of using a standards compliant horizontal service layer and thus be more efficient, economical and future proof.

Along with the CCSP C-DOT has also developed various oneM2M indigenously designed hardware nodes like AND (Application Dedicated Node), ASN (Application Service Node) and MN(Middle node).

To effectively showcase the strength of the platform, C-DOT has also developed various applications like Smart Living, Smart Street Light, Carbon Footprint Monitoring Application and Power Monitoring which are fully oneM2M compliant.

C-DOT has also participated in two international interoperability events where the CCSP and the ADN were tested for interoperability with many other oneM2M compliant nodes from various international organisations like Interdigital, Herit, Huawei, HPE, NTT, KETI, LAAS-CNRS etc. C-DOT also participated in the conformance testing with ETSI.

Brief on P.D.O. (Public Data Office)

C-DOT PDO is ready to bring yet another revolution by taking internet connectivity to every nook and corner of the country like it did in the 1980s when PCOs changed the Indian telecom scene in by taking telephones to rural India. C-DOT hopes that PDOs would bring next telecom revolution by taking internet connectivity to the masses. Like PCOs, the PDOs would enable small shop owners increase their income by selling data vouchers. This will also encourage village-level entrepreneurship and provide strong employment opportunities, especially in rural and semi urban areas.

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Government of India to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds 2017-18- Series I
Apr 21,2017

Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds 2017-18- Series I. Applications for the bond will be accepted from April 24, 2017 to April 28, 2017. The Bonds will be issued on May 12, 2017.

The Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange.

The features of the Bond are given below:

Sl. No.ItemDetails1Product nameSovereign Gold Bond 2017-18 Gô Series I2IssuanceTo be issued by Reserve Bank India on behalf of the Government of India.3EligibilityThe Bonds will be restricted for sale to resident Indian entities including individuals, HUFs, Trusts, Universities and Charitable Institutions. 4DenominationThe Bonds will ben++denominated in multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram.5TenorThe tenor of the Bond will be for a period of 8 years with exit option from 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.6Minimum sizeMinimum permissible investment will be 1 gram of gold.7Maximum limitThe maximum amount subscribed by an entity will not be more than 500 grams per person per fiscal year (April-March). A self-declaration to this effect will be obtained.8Joint holderIn case of joint holding, the investment limit of 500 grams will be applied to the first applicant only.9Issue pricePrice of Bond will be fixed in Indian Rupees on the basis of simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity published by the India Bullion and Jewellers Association Limited for the week (Monday to Friday) preceding the subscription period. The issue price of the Gold Bonds will be Rs. 50 per gram less than the nominal value.10Payment optionPayment for the Bonds will be through cash payment (upto a maximum of Rs. 20,000) or demand draft or cheque or electronic banking.11Issuance formThe Gold Bonds will be issued as Government of India Stocks under GS Act, 2006. The investors will be issued a Holding Certificate for the same. The Bonds are eligible for conversion into demat form.12Redemption priceThe redemption price will be in Indian Rupees based on previous weeks (Monday-Friday) simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity published by IBJA.13Sales channelBonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices as may be notified and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange, either directly or through agents. 14Interest rateThe investors will be compensated at a fixed rate of 2.50 per cent per annum payable semi-annually on the nominal value.15CollateralBonds can be used as collateral for loans. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is to be set equal to ordinary gold loan mandated by the Reserve Bank from time to time.16KYC DocumentationKnow-your-customer (KYC) norms will be the same as that for purchase of physical gold. KYC documents such asn++Voter ID, Aadhaar card/PAN or TAN /Passport will be required.17Tax treatmentThe interest on Gold Bonds shall be taxable as per the provision of Income Tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961). The capital gains tax arising on redemption of SGB to an individual has been exempted. The indexation benefits will be provided to long term capital gains arising to any person on transfer of bond18TradabilityBonds will be tradable on stock exchanges within a fortnight of the issuance on a date as notified by the RBI. 19SLR eligibilityThe Bonds will be eligible for Statutory Liquidity Ratio purposes.20CommissionCommission for distribution of the bond shall be paid at the rate of 1% of the total subscription receivedn++ byn++ then++ receiving offices and receiving offices shall share at least 50% of the commission so received with the agents or sub agents for the business procured through them.

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