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Third meeting of G-20 framework working group to be held at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh (UP) on 28th and 29th March, 2017
Mar 27,2017

The 3rd G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG) Meeting under the G-20 German Presidency is being co-hosted by Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Varanasi on 28th and 29th of March, 2017. The first two G 20 FWG meetings under the G-20 German Presidency have already been held at Berlin in Dec 16 and at Riyadh in Feb 17.

Since the inception of the FWG in 2009, this is the fourth occasion that India is hosting this meeting. Previously, India had hosted the G-20 FWG Meetings in Neemrana, Rajasthan (2012 under Mexican Presidency), in Goa (in 2014 under G-20 Australian Presidency) and in Kerala (2015 under G-20 Turkish Presidency).

In the forthcoming meeting in Varanasi, the G-20 FWG will discuss the current global economic situation as well as deliberate on the policy options that countries can pursue to counter the important development challenges. One important focus of this meeting will be to deliberate on the inclusive growth agenda of G-20 and to formulate a framework that will enable countries to help frame country specific inclusive growth policies.

The G-20 is the group of 19 countries and European Union (EU) deliberating on global economic issues and other important development challenges. G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG) is one of the core working groups of G-20. The mandate of FWG is to deliberate on the challenges facing the global economy and the policy options that countries can use to address these challenges. India along with Canada has been co-chairing this group.

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FM approves the re-organisation of the field formations of the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) for the implementation of Goods & Services Tax
Mar 27,2017

Reorganisation of the field formations of the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) for the implementation of Goods & Services Tax (GST) has been approved by the Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley. The existing formations of Central Excise & Service Tax under the CBEC have been re-organised to implement and enforce the provisions of the proposed Goods & Services Tax Laws.

The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) is being renamed as the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC), after getting legislative approval. The proposed CBIC shall, inter alia, supervise the work of all its field formations and Directorates and assist the Government in policy making in relation to GST, continuing Central Excise levy & Customs functions.

The CBIC will have 21 Zones, 101 GST Tax payer Services Commissionerates comprising 15 sub-Commissionerates, 768 Divisions, 3969 Ranges, 49 Audit Commissionerates and 50 Appeals Commissionerates. This will ensure rendering of taxpayer services to all the taxpayers through an indirect tax administration structure, having pan-India presence.

For a robust IT Network, the Directorate General of Systems under CBEC is being strengthened. The Directorate General Tax Payer Services is being expanded for greater out- reach for facilitating smooth transition for the taxpayers to the GST environment. The existing training establishment, to be renamed as National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics will have an all India presence, to enable capacity building to the employees of the indirect tax administration of the Centre as well as of the State Governments and to members of Trade and Industry. The renamed Directorate General of Goods & Service Tax Intelligence is also being strengthened and expanded to become an important wing of the Government in its fight against Tax Evasion and Black Money.

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India Signs Financing Agreement with World Bank for Us$ 100 Million for Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project
Mar 27,2017

A financing agreement for IDA credit of US$ 100 (equivalent) for the Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project was signed here with the World Bank .

The Financing Agreement was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of Government of India and Mr. Hisham Abdo, Acting Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank. A Project Agreement was also signed by Dr. Neeraj Kharwal, Additional Secretary (Health), Government of Uttarakhand and Mr. Hisham Abdo, Acting Country Director, World Bank.

The objective of the project is to improve access to quality health services, particularly in the hilly districts of the State, and to expand health financial risk protection for residents of the State. The project will benefit the residents of hilly districts in particular. The project has two main components, (i) Innovations of engaging the private sector; and (ii) Stewardship and system improvement. Out of the total project size of USD 125 million, USD 25 million will be the counterpart contribution of the State Government.

The planned design of the Project consists of multiple self-contained clusters of clinical services managed by operators on a PPP basis, providing services for free or at nominal charges, backed up by a robust oversight and monitoring mechanism fully integrated with the expanded health insurance program in the State. This will be concurrent with strengthening the states capacity to implement the project.

The closing date of Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project is 30th September, 2023.

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Economic Corridor Development (ECD) now at the forefront in promoting Sustained Growth in the SASEC Sub-region
Mar 27,2017

India and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have been partnering on the economic corridor approach for some time now. Economic Corridor Development contributes to and stimulates economic development along the route. The economic corridor approach involves leveraging infrastructure connectivity and developing urban areas as growth centers and gateways, to unlock the full potential of markets.

Since late 2013, ADB has been supporting studies on how to transform transport corridors into dynamic economic corridors. These studies considered how to best link the existing and planned transport corridors in various modes (surface, maritime, and multimodal transport) with other economic corridors such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the Bangalore-Chennai Economic Corridor, Amritsar- Kolkata Industrial Corridor and the corridors in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

n++This India-ADB partnership has in fact yielded useful lessons on Economic Corridor Development (ECD), through their joint work on the East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC), Indias first coastal corridorn++ noted Mr. Ronald Antonio Butiong, Director of ADB South Asia Departments Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division. n++The ECEC, which runs along the entire east coast from Kolkata to Kanyakumari, is a multimodal, regional maritime corridor that can play a vital role in unifying the large domestic market, as well as integrating the Indian economy with the dynamic global value chains of Southeast and East Asia.n++ Aside from an ambitious infrastructure program, the ECEC involves developing skills, and creating an attractive regulatory environment, bringing in new investments, and nurturing existing businesses to grow and innovate, and create much needed jobs.

Phase 1 of the ECEC is the Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC) which covers 11 districts in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. ADB helped prepare the Conceptual Development Plan (CDP) and Regional Perspective Plan (RPP) for VCIC, which served as the bases for the Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor Development Program, which was approved by the ADB Board in September 2016. The Program comprises a multi-tranche financing facility (MFF), a grant, and a policy-based loan (PBL) for a total investment amount of $631 million. The MFF and grant will support priority infrastructure investments in the VCIC region and the PBL will support policy reforms and institutional development in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

ADBs indicative lending pipeline for 2017-2019 to support economic corridor development in South Asia includes: (i) the VCIC Development Program MFF Tranche 2 in India in 2018, with an ADB loan: $250 million; and (ii) Regional Urban Development Project in Nepal in 2017, with an ADB loan: $150 million.

Earlier, ADB has developed a SASEC Operational Plan (OP) 2016-2025 which identifies promoting economic corridor development (ECD) as of one its key strategic focus areas. The SASEC OP, adopted by the SASEC member countries in June 2016, is the SASEC programs first comprehensive long-term plan to promote greater economic cooperation among its member countries, bringing regional cooperation to a higher level with the aim of extending physical and economic linkages not only within SASEC but also with East and Southeast Asia.

Under the SASEC OP, the operational focus on economic corridors will involve promoting synergies between corridors across SASEC countries. n++Such approach adopted by the SASEC program should maximize the corridors development impacts through improved cross-border linkages between corridors, and better coordination of policies, plans and programs for multi-sector infrastructure interventions. This would result in stronger consistency between and among transport, urban and industrial development efforts within the sub-regionn++, stressed Mr. Dinesh Sharma, Special Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

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CCI issues order against CIL and its subsidiaries for abusing dominant position, imposes penalty
Mar 24,2017

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Competition Act, 2002 for imposing unfair/ discriminatory conditions in Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) with the power producers for supply of non-coking coal.

The Final Order has been passed on a batch of informations filed by Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd. and Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited against Coal India Ltd. and its subsidiaries (Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd., Western Coalfields Ltd., South Eastern Coalfields Ltd.).

The Order has been passed by CCI pursuant to the directions issued by Competition Appellate Tribunal remanding the matter back while setting aside the original order of CCI in which a penalty of Rs. 1773.05 crore had been imposed upon CIL. After hearing the parties afresh in terms of the directions issued by Competition Appellate Tribunal, CCI held that CIL through its subsidiaries operates independently of market forces and enjoys dominance in the relevant market of production and supply of non-coking coal in India. CCI noted in the order that CIL did not evolve/ draft/ finalize the terms and conditions of FSAs through a bilateral process and the same were imposed upon the buyers through a unilateral conduct. CCI found CIL and its subsidiaries to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Competition Act, 2002 for imposing unfair/ discriminatory conditions in FSAs with the power producers for supply of non-coking coal.

Apart from issuing a cease and desist order against CIL and its subsidiaries, CCI has directed modification of FSAs in light of the findings and observations recorded in the order. The impugned clauses related to sampling and testing procedure, charging transportation and other expenses for supply of ungraded coal from the buyers, capping compensation for supply of stones etc. For effecting the modifications in FSAs, CIL has been ordered to consult all the stakeholders. CIL has also been directed to ensure uniformity between old and new power producers as well as between private and PSU power producers.

Further, CCI has imposed a penalty of Rs. 591.01 crore upon CIL for the abusive conduct. While reducing penalty, CCI noted the steps taken by CIL to improve the sampling procedure even post-passing of the original order by CCI. However, while holding the extant sampling procedure as unfair, CIL has been directed to incorporate suitable modifications in fuel supply agreements to provide for a fair and equitable sampling and testing procedure besides considering the feasibility of sampling at the unloading-end in consultation with power producers and adopting international best practices.

The common Order of the Commission has been passed in Case Nos. 03, 11 and 59 of 2012 and a copy thereof has been uploaded on the website of CCI at www.cci.gov.in.

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Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 amended through the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016
Mar 24,2017

Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016 Though the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 has been on the statute book since more than 28 years, the same could not be made operational because of certain inherent defects. With a view to providing effective regime for prohibition of benami transactions, the said Act was amended through the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016. The amended law empowers the specified authorities to provisionally attach benami properties which can eventually be confiscated. Besides, if a person is found guilty of offence of benami transaction by the competent court, he shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than one year but which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to 25% of the fair market value of the property.

The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 came into effect from1st November, 2016. Several benami transactions have been identified since the coming into effect of the amended law. Show cause notices for provisional attachment of benami properties have been issued in 140 cases involving properties of the value of about Rs. 200 crore. Out of these, provisional attachment has already been effected in 124 cases. The benami properties attached include deposits in bank accounts and immovable properties.

The Government has put in place empowered institutions for efficient implementation of the amended law. In exercise of powers conferred under sub-section (2) of section 28 read with section 59 of the amended Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, vide Notification No. SO 3290E, dated 25.10.2016 the Central Government has notified specified Income-tax authorities to act as Initiating Officer, Approving Authority and Administrator in respect of benami transactions. Further, vide Notification No. SO 3288E, dated 25.10.2016, the Adjudicating Authority has been notified

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CCRAS has undertaken several projects to develop medicines for chronic and lifestyle diseases
Mar 24,2017

The technology related to the drug developed by Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), namely, AYUSH-82 has been given to eight manufacturing firms through National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), Dept. of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India. The scientific study on AYUSH-82 carried out by CCRAS has shown encouraging results.

CCRAS has developed medicine for other Chronic diseases like arthritis and cancer. CCRAS has developed AYUSH-SG (Sunthi Guggulu) for Arthritis and the technology has been transferred to five firms through NRDC and is available in the market.

Projects on AYUSH -QOL2C for improving quality of life in cancer patients and AYUSH-Manas in Mental Retardation have been recently concluded. Further, CCRAS has undertaken work for developing AYUSH-SL for Lymphatic Filariasis, AYUSH-D for Diabetes Mellitus, Carctol-S for Ovarian Cancer and AYUSH M-3 for Migrane.

The Ministry of AYUSH through its research organizations. namely, Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM), and Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH) have launched a pilot programme to integrate Ayurveda, Homoeopathy and Unani with National Programme for prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS). Initially the pilot study has been started in six districts.

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ITD conducted searches in about 2534 groups of persons led to admission of undisclosed income of about Rs. 45,622 crore
Mar 24,2017

As part of enforcement measures and based upon credible evidence of tax evasion and other serious violations of provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the Act), Income Tax Department (ITD) conducts searches in cases of various persons including companies and individuals. During the last three Financial Years (2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16) and the current Financial Year [2016-17 (up to January, 2017)], the ITD conducted searches in about 2534 groups of persons which led to admission of undisclosed income of about Rs. 45,622 crore apart from seizure of undisclosed assets (cash, jewellery etc) worth about Rs. 3,625 crore.

Based upon material recovered during searches, investigation is conducted by the investigating officers and findings of such investigations are shared with the Assessing Officers concerned. Such Assessing Officers initiate and complete assessment proceedings (a quasi-judicial proceeding) as per provisions of the Act with a view to assess the total income (including undisclosed income) and take other actions such as raising of tax demand, levy of applicable penalties, recovery of such demands, filing of prosecution complaints, (wherever applicable) etc. This is an on-going process.

The Government has taken various effective measures to tackle breach of law and tax evasion. These steps include focused enforcement actions and putting in place appropriate legislative & administrative frame works & processes. Due attention has been given to capacity building and integration of information and its mining through enhanced use of information technology. Serious violations of provisions of the Act by persons including individuals, companies etc lead to civil as well as criminal consequences. The civil consequences include levy of taxes (including interest) and penalties and criminal consequences include prosecutions before criminal courts for offences under the Act. Besides levy of taxes on the total income of those persons whose assessments were completed during last three years and current Financial Year (up to Jan, 2017), the ITD filed prosecution complaints in 2432 cases. During the same period, 4264 compounding applications were also received from persons who had committed offences under the Act, as offences committed under the Act are compoundable. Out of the cases disposed of by the criminal courts during this period, 116 persons were convicted of the offences committed under the Act. Besides, in 3218 cases offences were compounded by the competent Income-tax authorities. Person-wise details are not maintained centrally. Further, disclosure of information in respect of specific assessees is prohibited except as provided under section 138 of the Act.

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Centre approves construction of 10 Million MT capacity Silos by the end of year 2019-20
Mar 24,2017

Food Corporation of India (FCI) has awarded contracts for creation of 1.6 Million MT silos and State Governments have completed/awarded contracts for 2.15 Million MT silos. Thus, contracts for silos of 3.75 Million MT have been awarded.

Government has approved an action plan of FCI for construction of steel silos of capacity 10 Million MT by FCI as well as State Governments in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode in a phase-wise manner (3 phases) by the end of year 2019-20. FCI handles about 60 Million MT of wheat and rice annually.

The Silos are being constructed through Private Sector participation in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. FCI will be benefited as it will not incur any capital investment for any of the projects. The responsibility of designing, building, financing and operating the silos will be of private parties. Further, there will be benefits from creation of silos as it is a safer and modern means of storage. Foodgrains can be stored for a longer period, with reduced losses and less handling and labour costs.

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Government has divested a part of its stake in ITC to Life Insurance Corporation of India
Mar 24,2017

Government through Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India (SUUTI) has divested 2% shares of the total shares of ITC to LIC through block trade on 7th March, 2017. Government has received an amount of Rs. 6,682 crore from this transaction.

Disinvestment of Government of India equity is under taken as per the Disinvestment policy of the GoI keeping in view the resource requirement of the Government and the prevailing market condition.

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Powergrid Commissions n++800kV HVDC Champa - Kurukshetra Pole-I
Mar 24,2017

Trial operations of 1500MW, Pole-I of n++800kV HVDC Champa - Kurukshetra transmission System has been successfully completed and the Pole has been put to commercial operations, starting today. The above system is part of n++n++800kV, 3000MW WR-NR HVDC Interconnector Transmission System for IPP Projects in Chhattisgarhn++. With commercial operation of Pole-I, HVDC Terminal at Champa (in Western Region) & Kurukshetra (in Northern Region) alongwith 2576 Ckm Champa - Kurukshetra HVDC Transmission line have been commissioned, at a total cost of about ₹6,300Crore. Further, Pole-II of 1500MW capacity, is also expected to be commissioned by June17. This project will enable transfer of power from IPP generation projects coming up in Raigarh, Champa, and Raipur generation complex in Chhattisgarh to demand centres of Northern region viz. Haryana, Punjab, UP, Rajasthan and adjoining areas.

This transmission system is further being upgraded to 6000 MW capacity with addition of 2nd HVDC Bipole (CK-2) of 3000MW, n++800kV HVDC Terminals under n++Transmission System Strengthening in WR-NR Transmission corridor for IPP Projects in Chhattisgarhn++ at an additional cost of about ₹5200 Crore, which is expected to be completed by December 2018.

The above transmission system has been designed using State-of-the-art HVDC Technology and shall facilitate in meeting controlled power flow requirement, flexibility of operation as well as maintaining system parameters within limits through its control mechanism. The link augments the inter-regional capacity of Northern Region with Western Region, thereby facilitating economic dispatch of power and exchange of surplus power between Northern Region and Western Region, depending on the availability of generation and load demand in each region.

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NTPC Plans to Achieve 32 GW Installed Capacity via Renewable Sources by 2032
Mar 24,2017

NTPC Ltd. has raised Rs. 2,000 crore through issuance of green masala bonds in overseas market under its USD 4 billion medium term note programme. The proceeds of these bonds will be used for financing renewable energy projects in accordance with applicable guidelines and regulations of Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The details of the green masala bonds are given under:

Size of the Issue

INR 2,000 crore

Date of Issue

10.08.2016

Coupon

7.375% per annum, payable annually

Security

Unsecured

Listing

At Singapore Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange

Repayment Period

Bullet repayment after 5 years

Maturity date

10.08.2021

National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited has  drafted/prepared its long-term Corporate Plan and has planned to achieve 32 GW installed capacity through   renewable energy resources by 2032, the minister added. 

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Rs. 503.28 Crores spent during 2013-14 to 2015-16 under Early Childhood Care and Education Policy
Mar 24,2017

The aim of Early Childhood Care and Education policy is to achieve holistic development and active learning capacity of all children below 6 years of age by promoting free, universal, inclusive, equitable, joyful and contextualised opportunities for laying foundation and attaining full potential. A total of 3.4 Crores children of 3-6 year age group are availing benefits of Pre-School education including 1.7 Crore boys and 1.7 Crore girls. A total amount of Rs. 503.28 Crores has been spent during the year 2013-14 to year 2015-16.

Year wise details of amount spent under Early Childhood Care and Education Policy:

2013-14: Rs 145.32 crore

2014-15: Rs 231.95 crore

2015-16: Rs 126.01 crore

The key areas of the Policy are as below:

i. Access with equity and inclusion in programmes and interventions across service providers;

ii. Improving quality, Strengthening Capacity, Monitoring and Supervision

iii. Research and Documentation

iv. Advocacy and awareness generation

v. Convergence and Coordination among policies and programmes

vi. Institutional and Implementation Arrangements

vii. Partnerships, Periodic Review and Increased investment towards ECCE

Under the National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy the States/UTs are required to introduce Annual Contextualized Curriculum along with Pre-School Education (PSE) kit by aligning to the curriculum, activity books and celebrate ECCE day on monthly basis.

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Steps taken for revival of Ratnagiri Gas and Power Limited
Mar 24,2017

Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt. Limited (RGPPL) has started generation of power under the scheme of Utilization of gas based power generation capacity for the year 2015-16 and 2016-17. Total Debt of RGPPL is approximately Rs. 8906 Crs. Railways have agreed to continue to purchase 500 MW power from RGPPL power plant w.e.f 01.04.2017 for a period of five years. Govt. of Maharashtra has agreed, in principle, for granting waiver of State transmission charges and transmission losses and also waiver of VAT on gas purchase by the RGPPL.

Government has taken following steps for revival of RGPPL:

(i) Decided to demerge the Power Block and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal into two separate entities.

(ii) Banks/Financial Institutions have agreed to restructure the debt.

(iii) Gas supply to RGPPL at a firm price for the five year period has been agreed by GAIL.

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Centralised Digital Online Platform VAHAN and SARATHI to Curb Corruption
Mar 23,2017

The Provisions regarding issue of learners licence and driving licence are contained in Chapter II of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988(MV Act) and Chapter II of Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989(CMVRs). The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has introduced online based citizen centric application VAHAN 4.0 and SARATHI 4.0 under digitization to ease out the processes and curb corruption. 85 Road Transport offices under VAHAN4.0 and 235 Road Transport offices under SARATHI 4.0 have been brought to the centralised platform. Implementation of provisions of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act) and Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (CMVRs) comes under the purview of State Governments. Further, Ministry has issued notification GSR 1096(E) dated 28.11.2016 vide which fitness certificate for renewal of a motor vehicle can be obtained from a State/Union territory other than the State/Union territory where the vehicle is registered.

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