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E-Auction of the Second Batch of Private FM Radio Phase III Channels Commences
Oct 27,2016

E-Auction of the Second Batch of Private FM Radio Phase III Channels commenced today. During the day, four rounds of bidding took place. 266 FM Channels in 92 cities comprising 227 channels in 69 fresh cities and 39 unsold channels from 23 cities of batch I of Ph-III have been put on auction in the second batch. At the close of first day of bidding, 58 channels in 42 cities became Provisionally Winning Channels with cumulative provisional winning price of around Rs.182 Crore against their aggregate reserve price of about Rs.179.2 Crore.

The auction began today. Total 14 bidders were allowed to participate in the auction. The ongoing auction is a Simultaneous Multiple Round Ascending (SMRA) e-auction which is being conducted on line. States of Uttarakhand and Nagaland and Border Area Towns of Poonch Mokukchung, Leh, Kathua, Kargil, Bhaderwa to have Private FM Channels for the first time.

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Sub- Extension of Period for applying of renewal for GMDSS-GOC License
Oct 27,2016

The Ministry of Communication has extended the period for applying of Renewal of Global Management Distress Safety System General Operators Certificate (GMDSS-GOC) License from three months to six months prior to its expiry vide notification No. GSR 186 dated 4th October 2016. This will enable the officers to have adequate time required to renew their GMDSS-GOC license and they will be able to sail on ships without any delay in future.

The Standard of Training and Certification of watch keeping mandates all Nautical Grade Officers to hold a valid GMDSS-GOC license issued by Ministry of Communication to operate the Communication and GMDSS equipment on board Merchant Ships. The certificate is valid for ten years and subsequently renewed every five years.

As per the existing rules, Indian Merchant Navy Navigating officers could apply for renewal of their license only three months prior to expiry of license whereas the contract period of an officer/seafarer to work on board varies from 6-8 months. Therefore it was difficult for them to get their license renewed in time prior to sailing and had to delay their sailing. In view of the longer employment duration and to ensure validity of GMDSS-GOC during currency of service period, Ministry of Shipping had requested Ministry of Communication for increasing the period to apply for renewal six months prior to expiry of GMDSS-GOC, which has been agreed to.

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Safety of LPG consumers and the households is the prime concern while distributing new LPG connections
Oct 27,2016

Government of India is committed to provide LPG as a clean cooking fuel across India through Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). More than 90 Lakh new connections have been released to the women from BPL households in the last 6 months.

Safety of LPG consumers and the households is the prime concern of the Government as well as the Oil Marketing Companies(OMCs) while distributing new LPG connections - whether under PMUY or otherwise. While issuing new connections to the beneficiaries, Safety/Insurance handouts with pictorial depictions have been given to them. A Safety briefing is also being imparted to the beneficiaries at the time of installation of LPG connection. In addition, Safety melas/ Safety Clinics are being organized in the villages to make the new consumers aware of the safety procedures. These efforts are being further stepped up to avoid any unfortunate incidents related to the use of LPG.

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is also continuously monitoring the settlement of Insurance claims related to past LPG accidents and monthly meetings are being held with the Insurance Companies and OMCs on the subject. The pendency in this regard has come down from 51% in June 2016 to 33.76% in October 2016 and all efforts are being made to clear all pending cases in 3 months.

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Digital Media Broadcasting to Play a Critical Role in Bringing About Change in Sports Broadcasting in India Says Sports Minister
Oct 26,2016

The Minister of state (I/C) for Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Vijay Goel has said that digital media broadcasting will play a critical role in bringing about change in sports broadcasting in India. He said increasing penetration of internet, mobile devices and cheaper data services especially in rural areas will prove game changer in this direction. He said Broadcasters must focus on how sports are delivered to these audiences.

Shri Goel said, data suggests that more than 60% of the Digital Audiences in India is within the age group of 13-35 years. This is the base that Sports needs to capture to build up the overall Business of Sports. He said, there is a need for Brands and Advertisers to come forward and recognize the power of Sports delivered to young India with respect to both, a Return on Investment and Corporate Social Responsibility aspect.

The Minister said, the Government is committed to work towards building up a culture of sports and improving the business of sports. All stakeholders must work towards this common objective. He said it is his belief that Broadcasters focused on innovative ways to reach out to youth would be the real game-changers and will create a far greater impact on the overall business of Sports in India.

Outlining the importance of sports Shri Goel said, it is evident that more and more people are taking up sports. Sports in India has already taken its first step in the right direction in the last 3 years. A majority of Sports Leagues have been launched including Football, Kabaddi, Wrestling, Hockey, Tennis, Badminton and more. He said, this has been made possible by persistent efforts by various stakeholders. A large talent pool in sports such as Football, Kabaddi, Hockey, etc. has mass appeal. This has not only impacted Sports as entertainment but also the Tourism and Infrastructure sectors.

The Minister said, packaging of the Sports League as Entertainment has been the game changer. This clearly reflects in more than 450 million viewers of Indian Super League. The most interesting revelation has been Pro Kabaddi League with a viewership of more than 500 million.

He said, what is even more interesting to note is, that some of these leagues have more than 40% female viewers on television. Innovative media campaigns around new sports have been the force behind the increasing Sponsorship Revenues. All Media platforms including TV, Radio, Print, Digital and off Air have played a crucial role in the success of the newer leagues. Advertisers and Investors must recognize that without a talent pool of sportspersons, this will be tough to sustain.

Shri Goel said, sports must become an integral part of our society and value system as it has the power to shape India as one of the most competitive nations in the world.

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NHAI Awards Contract for 4-Laning of Nerchowk - Pandoh including Pandoh bypass section in Himachal Pradesh
Oct 26,2016

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued Letter of Award (LOA) for development of National Highway section in Himachal Pradesh under phase IV B of National Highways Development Projects (NHDP).

The details of project are as follows:

Sl. No.NH No.SectionLength Total Capital Cost (Crore)Contractors name

1

21

4-Laning of Nerchowk - Pandoh section

26 Km

Rs. 1274 crore

M/s KMC Constructions Ltd.

The development of the crucial 26 km long Nerchowk - Pandoh including Pandoh bypass section of the NH-21 will improve the connectivity for travelers from Chandigarh to the valleys of Kullu and Manali. This will improve the transport of the horticulture produce like apples etc. to the markets and also provide better connectivity to local commuters.

The project will have two bypasses (about 8 km long Mandi Bypass and about 5 km long Pandoh Bypass), three Twin Tube 2-Lane Tunnels, 6 Major Bridges, 11 Minor Bridges and 3 Vehicular Under Passes. The project would be executed on EPC mode and scheduled time of completion of the project is 30 months from the date of commencement.

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Centre Constitutes Committee for monitoring Bird Flu
Oct 26,2016

The Centre has constituted a Committee headed by Joint Commissioner, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries (DADF) to maintain constant vigil on the situation arising out of avian influenza (H5N8). The Committee will have representatives from Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and Department of Agriculture Research and Extension (DARE) and representative of the Delhi Government. Besides, monitoring the situation, the Committee will assist the State Government in taking steps to contain the spread of Avian Influenza.

The National High Security lab for animal diseases - NIHSAD - the world body OIE recognised facility for disease diagnosis in South Asia and the Four Regional Laboratories, and the Central lab at IVRI have been instructed to give all assistance to the State Governments and get sample tested in an emergency response manner. In fact all 45 samples obtained from Delhi government at the Bhopal lab have been tested within the stipulated 72 hour time frame as per Bio-security level -4 requirements and 13 cases have tested positive for H5N8. Similarly test results have been given for other cases in Kerala, Punjab and MP. As per available reports from other states, the disease incidence is in control.

The Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries Department of the States have issued guidelines for maintaining cleanliness in the zoological parks housing wild birds, water bodies as well as meat / poultry market areas where meat is sold. Necessary precautions for human beings coming in the contact with poultry have also been reinforced although as per WHO observations, the transmission of H5N8 virus is very low. Also there will be no trade impact of the incidence as per global OIE criteria.

All bird sanctuaries and areas where there are lakes have been advised to keep a close watch on the situation and in case of any suspicious death of birds, the State Government and the Centre may be notified. No further test results are presently required by Delhi government to continue with its bio-security measures for implementing the National Action Plan for Control and Containment of the Avian Influenza, 2015 guidelines. Full support of the government of India health department, urban development department, environment department apart from animal husbandry department under the ministry of agriculture & farmers welfare is being provided and there is full communication with the Delhi government on the on-going steps to contain and control the disease incidence.

Daily meetings are being held at the Animal Husbandry Commissioner level in DADF to advise the State Governments in case of emergency.

It may recalled that on 17 October 2016 some birds had died in the Delhi Zoological Park and thereafter birds had died in six other areas. A sample was sent on 17.10.2016 to NIHSAD, and on the same day it was confirmed that the birds had died of H5NH8 virus. A close watch is being maintained and necessary advisories have been issued to all states to keep a vigil on areas frequented by birds both domestic and migratory. Secretary DADF, Shri Devendra Chaudhry is himself keeping close watch and is in constant touch with the chief secretaries of affected states including specially Delhi.

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NFL presents Dividend of Rs. 52.35 crores
Oct 26,2016

National Fertilizers (NFL) presented dividend of Rs. 52.35 crores to the Government of India for the year 2015-16 in respect of the shares held by it. Chairman and Managing Director of NFL Manoj Mishra paid dividend to Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers Ananth Kumar. This is the highest dividend paid by the company in the last 10 years. NFL achieved the best ever urea production of 38 lakh MT in 2015-16 and registered a profit after tax of Rs. 197 crore for the year.

Ananth Kumar said that the Fertilizer Sector is undergoing revolution and the various policy initiatives undertaken by the Government have resulted in the highest ever production of urea in the country. He said the performance is an outcome of the inspiring leadership of the Honble Prime Minister Sh. Narender Modi and his desire for the well being of the people. The Minister said the Government is working on reverse SEZs in the countries where there is good availability of gas. He said NFL is expanding and diversifying- it is reviving a urea plant in Ramagundam, putting up a MoP plant in Gujarat and a Sulphur plant in Haryana. On the issue of Direct Benefit Transfer(DBT) in Fertilizer Sector, he said the need for it was being felt for a long time but now a pilot project is going on in 16 districts. On the basis of the outcomes on this pilot project, DBT will be further expanded. He called for suggestions and cooperation from all the stakeholders in making DBT in Fertilizer a success.

Mansukh Lal Mandaviya congratulated NFL for good performance. He said the Prime Minister has called for doubling the income of farmers by 2022 and the Ministry is working in this direction by making available abundant and affordable fertilizers to the farmers. Domestic production of fertilizers is being increased and balanced use of fertilizers in the field is being promoted.

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New Revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Republic of Korea comes into force with effect from 12 September 2016
Oct 26,2016

A new revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Korea for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income was signed on 18th May 2015 during the visit of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Seoul .It has now come into force on 12 September 2016, on completion of procedural requirements by both countries. The earlier Double Taxation Avoidance Convention between India and Korea was signed on 19th July, 1985 and was notified on 26 September 1986.

Provisions of the new DTAA will have effect in India in respect of income derived in fiscal years beginning on or after 01 April 2017.

Some of the salient features of new DTAA are:

n++ The existing DTAA provided for residence based taxation of capital gains on shares. In line with Indias policy of taxation of capital gains on shares, the revised DTAA provides for source based taxation of capital gains arising from alienation of shares comprising more than 5% of share capital.

n++ In order to promote cross border flow of investments and technology, the revised DTAA provides for reduction in withholding tax rates from 15% to 10% on royalties or fees for technical services and from 15% to 10% on interest income.

n++ The revised DTAA expands the scope of dependent agent Permanent Establishment provisions in line with Indias policy of source based taxation.

n++ To facilitate movement of goods through shipping between two countries and in accordance with international principle of taxation of shipping income, the revised DTAA provides for exclusive residence based taxation of shipping income from international traffic under Article 8 of revised DTAA.

n++ The revised DTAA, with the introduction of Article 9(2), provides recourse to the taxpayers of both countries to apply for Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) in transfer pricing disputes as well as apply for bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APA). Further, as per understanding reached between the two sides, MAP requests in transfer pricing cases can be considered if the request is presented by the tax payer to its competent authority after entry into force of revised DTAA and within three years of the date of receipt of notice of action giving rise to taxation not in accordance with the DTAA.

It may be added that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on suspension of collection of taxes during the pendency of Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) has already been signed by Competent Authorities of India and Korea on 9th December 2015. The MoU provides for suspension of collection of outstanding taxes during the pendency of MAP proceedings for a period of two years (extendable for a further maximum period of three years) subject to providing on demand security / bank guarantee.

n++ The Article on Exchange of Information is updated to the latest international standard to provide for exchange of information to the widest possible extent. As per revised Article, the country from which information is requested cannot deny the information on the ground of domestic tax interest. Further, the revised DTAA contains express provisions to facilitate exchange of information held by banks. Information exchanged under the revised DTAA can now be used for other law enforcement purposes with authorization of information supplying country.

n++ The revised DTAA inserts new Article for assistance in collection of taxes between tax authorities.

n++ The revised DTAA inserts new Limitation of Benefits Article i.e. anti-abuse provisions to ensure that the benefits of the Agreement are availed only by the genuine residents of both the countries.

The revised DTAA aims to avoid the burden of double taxation for taxpayers of two countries in order to promote and thereby stimulate flow of investment, technology and services between India and Korea. The revised DTAA provides tax certainty to the residents of India and Korea.

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Middle East, North Africa Region Urged to Stay on Course with Reforms
Oct 26,2016

The slump in oil prices and ongoing conflicts continue to weigh on growth prospects of the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the IMF in its latest regional assessment.

With these challenges expected to persist, the IMF said that the countries in the region needed to continue the progress they have already made toward strengthening their fiscal balances, and instituting structural reforms, which would help to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth.

The IMFs Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia, projects that growth for the region this year will be a modest 3n++ percent, with little improvement expected in 2017. Sluggish economic growth is hurting progress in improving living standards. Structural transformations towards more dynamic private-sector driven economies, plans for which are being formulated in a number of countries, are needed to boost growth and create private sector jobs, the report said.

n++The countries of the Middle East and North Africa region are still facing two of the worlds most pressing economic and geopolitical issues: the slump in oil prices and the intensification of conflicts,n++ said IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department Director Masood Ahmed at the reports launch in Dubai. n++To their credit, these countries have made progress in dealing with these challenges.n++

Despite staging a recovery over recent months to reach more than $50 a barrel, oil pricesn++the key driver of growth for the regions oil exportersn++are projected to remain low over the coming years. The IMF projects prices to barely reach $60 a barrel by 2021, far removed from the highs of more than $100 a barrel just two years ago.

Conflicts, meanwhile, are continuing to cause a severe humanitarian crisis in several of the regions countriesn++with higher numbers of refugees than at any other time since World War IIn++as well as disruption to economic activity and confidence across the wider region.

Modest outlook for oil exporters and oil importers

In the oil-exporting Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the IMF projects non-oil growth to be 1.8 percent in 2016 and 3.1 percent in 2017, much lower than the 7 percent average between 2000 and 2014, owing to the dampening effect from fiscal consolidations and a broader weakening of private sector confidence in the face of lower oil prices.

Non-oil growth outside the GCC is likely to be almost non-existent this year due to the conflicts in Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. In Iran, oil production has picked up strongly yet a broader growth dividend from the easing of the sanctions is materializing only slowly as international companies remain cautious and domestic reforms are proceeding gradually.

For the regions oil importers, spillovers from slower growth in the GCC and conflictsn++as well as deep-rooted domestic structural impedimentsn++are weighing on growth. These economies are projected to expand by 3.6 percent in 2016 and 4.2 percent in 2017.

Over the medium term, growth will be too low to improve living standards significantly or cut into high unemployment, which stands above 10 percent for the general population, and as high as 25 percent for young people.

Adjusting to cheaper oil

The entrenched nature of low oil prices and conflicts underlined the need for the regions countries to continue several crucial policy adjustments, the report emphasized.

n++Oil exporters are facing the difficult task of growing their economies in a climate of lower budget revenues and spending cuts,n++ Ahmed said. n++Therefore, the challenge now and into the future will be to find alternative sources of revenues and economic growth to maintain the level of prosperity many of them have become accustomed to,n++ he emphasized.

And for the oil importers, the key challenge is boosting job creation via more dynamic private sectors, he added.

The report highlights the significant progress many countries had made over recent months in adjusting to this new economic environment, particularly in the area of spending and new revenues. For example, oil exporters and importers alike have started to rationalize government spending and have cut back on their expensive general subsidy programs, for petrol, electricity, gas, and water, which have tended to benefit mostly the rich.

Despite these improvements, prices for these utilities are still well below international standards, so policymakers could go further in reforming their energy pricing frameworks, the report noted.

Some countries have also started to find cost savings in their public wage bills. For example, Saudi Arabia recently announced a number of measures to trim its government wage bill, including by reducing allowances and limiting overtime. The GCC is also planning the introduction of a value-added tax.

n++These are all welcome moves and underline how committed these countries are to adjusting to the current difficult economic environment,n++ Ahmed said.

However, he added that over the next 12 months, and well into the future, more needs to be done.

A key challenge would be not only boosting growth while tightening budget expenditures, but also maximizing the returns from what room countries have available for public spending.

Investment in infrastructure, education, and health care would continue to be three key areas where public expenditures could be most effective in building sustainable, long-term growth, Ahmed said.

Diversifying drivers of growth

However, more broadly, the report recommends that given the environment of lower oil prices, countries need to make greater progress toward more diversified, dynamic, private-sector driven economies.

Many countries have announced such plans, including Saudi Arabia whose Vision 2030 emphasizes private sector development, commits to a balanced budget in five years, and envisages a partial privatization of ARAMCO, the worlds largest oil and gas company.

n++For oil exporters, this will include relying less on oil revenues while creating job opportunities for new labor market entrants in the private, rather than public, sector, while for oil importers, this will mean relying less on remittances. But, for both these groups of countries the goal must be an economic model that depends less on state spending and more on the private sector,n++ Ahmed said.

n++The economic transformations that are made now will have the potential to provide resilient and inclusive growth for generations to come,n++ he added.

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FICCI sets up Online Travel and Technology Committee to give a fillip to net-based travel
Oct 26,2016

FICCI has instituted the Online Travel and Technology Committee under the aegis of its existing Tourism Committee to champion the cause of netizens and online travel companies. FICCIs Online Travel and Technology Committee owes its genesis to the rapid penetration of Internet and mobile which has transformed the way travel industry operates and how travellers book and consume travel related products.

The chamber recognizes the changing travel market dynamics and the significant role online travel and technology is playing towards shaping the future travel booking, consumption and distribution trends. It understands the drivers towards these trends in-terms of internet penetration, usage of smart phones and simplification of transactional supported payment mechanism.

The Committee will be led by Mr. Dhruv Shringi, Co founder & CEO, Yatra Online and comprise key stakeholders of online travel companies including MakeMyTrip, Clear Trip and various other stakeholders and knowledge partners from the online travel segment of the tourism industry.

Says Dr. A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, n++The Committee has been formed for outlining the roadmap for a robust regulatory policy for the online travel industry and also to encourage innovation in travel & tourism sectorn++.

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Indias absolute score improved from 53.93 to 55.27 in the previous year
Oct 26,2016

The World Banks annual Doing Business 2017 report released recognizes Indias achievements in implementing reforms in four of its ten indicators-Trading Across Borders, Getting Electricity, Enforcing Contracts and Paying Taxes. This is the first time in its history that India has been recognized for improvement in four indicators.

Improvement in Ranking and Distance to Frontier

The Doing Business report ranks countries on the basis of Distance to Frontier, an absolute score that measures the gap between India and the global best practice. Indias absolute score improved from 53.93 to 55.27 in the previous year. This is the first time in history that India has improved its absolute score in two consecutive years. Additionally, Indias Distance to Frontier score improved on 6 out of the 10 indicators, showing that India is increasingly progressing towards best practice.

TopicsDB 2015 DB 2015
(Revised)
DB 2016 DB 2016 (Revised)DB 2017 Overall rank142134130131130Distance to Frontier52.67-54.6853.9355.27

The change in ranking of India across the 10 indicators is as follows:

TopicsDB 2015 RankDB 2016 RankDB 2017 RankGetting Electricity n++n++ 1377026Enforcing Contracts n++n++ 186178172Starting a Business n++n++158155155Registering Property n++n++ 121138138Resolving Insolvency n++n++ 137136136Construction Permits n++n++ 184183185Getting Credit n++n++ 364244Protecting Minority Investors n++n++ 7813Paying Taxes n++n++ 156157172Trading Across Borders n++n++ 126133143

Reforms Recognized by World Bank

I. On Getting Electricity, the report recognized the efforts of Tata Power in Delhi to make it faster and cheaper to obtain an electricity connection. These efforts, combined with efforts in Mumbai last year, have allowed India to improve its rank on this indicator from 137 in Doing Business 2015 to 26 in this years report, a 111 rank improvement.

II. The report has also recognized the establishment of Commercial Divisions within the High Courts in Delhi and Mumbai to deal with commercial cases above Rs. 1 crore. This has allowed India to improve its rank by 14 places in 2 years.

III. In the area of Trading Across Borders, the report recognized the implementation of the Single Window Interface for Trade (ICEGATE), which integrates approvals and risk-based frameworks of customs and nine departments to provide traders with a single online interface for import clearances.

IV. On Paying Taxes, the report recognized online filing and payment of returns at the Employees Social Insurance Corporation.

Reforms Not Recognized by World Bank This Year

The World Bank acknowledges only such reforms which have been implemented in Mumbai and Delhi by 1st of June each year; if they are reported as implemented by business intermediaries. Following major reforms have not been accounted for in current years report:

I. Enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code has transformed Indias corporate insolvency landscape by replacing outdated laws with a new legal framework. Once implemented, it will improve our rank significantly in resolving insolvency index in next years ranking.

II. The constitutional amendment to enact a Goods and Services Tax, which will promote a common market across the country. On implementation, our rank on Starting a Business and Paying Taxes will improve significantly next year.

III. Introduction of online single window systems for building plan approval in Delhi and Mumbai, integrating permissions of various agencies. This has reduced time to process and issue building plan approvals from 231 days to 21.85 days on an average in Delhi, and from 147 days to 26.39 days in Mumbai. This will be reflected only in next years report after private sector respondents have used the system widely.

IV. Introduction and streamlining of INC-29 for company incorporation, which is currently used by 30% of new companies. This reform was not factored in this year because as per the World Banks methodology more than 50 per cent of users should have used the system in the period 2nd June, 2015 to 1st June, 2016.

V. The elimination of the requirement of a company seal while applying for government registrations and permissions at the time of setting up of a business. The Companies Act, 2013 was amended in 2015 to make provision for the same but has not been accounted for by the World Bank. The Bank has observed that, to open a bank account a company seal was required, which was not found to be the case.

VI. Online registration for ESIC and EPFO registration, which has expedited the time to register. This functionality has been made applicable from 1st December, 2015. The World Bank has not accepted the evidence provided in this regard.

VII. Online filing and payment of returns at the Employees Provident Fund Organization, where the majority of returns and payments are now filed and paid fully online. This reform has not been considered even though it was implemented by EPFO on 5th June, 2015. The World Bank has stated that this would be reflected in the rankings next year.

VIII. Streamlining of name reservation process at Ministry of Corporate Affairs, reducing the time taken to an average of 1.86 days.

IX. Registration under VAT and Profession Tax has been merged into a single process from 1st January, 2015 by Government of Maharashtra.

X. Registration for VAT in Delhi has been made online and is allotted real time and business can start operations immediately on receipt of TIN number.

34546 MT pulses procured from farmers during ongoing Kharif season
Oct 26,2016

The Government agencies have procured 34546.69 MT pulses- Moong and Urad as on 25 October 2016 during ongoing Kharif Marketing Season (KMS).

FCI, NAFED and SFAC are procuring Kharif pulses from the farmers to ensure MSP for their crops in pulses producing states.

So far, FCI has procured 8166.71 MT, NAFED 23510.13 MT and SFAC 2869.85 MT Moong and Urad since the arrival of Kharif crop during ongoing KMS 2016-17.

The Government has set up the procurement target of 50,000 MT Kharif pulses during current KMS for its buffer stock.

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Government of India and World Bank Sign $650 Million Agreement for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor Project
Oct 26,2016

The Government of India and the World Bank signed a $650 million agreement towards the third loan for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (a freight-only rail line) that will help faster and more efficient movement of raw materials and finished goods between the north and eastern parts of India. The project was approved by the World Bank Board on June 30, 2015.

The loan and guarantee agreement for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor Project was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; M.K. Mittal, Director, Finance, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation(DFCCIL) and Hisham Abdo, Operations Manager and Acting Country Director, World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank.

The Eastern Corridor is 1,840 km long and extends from Ludhiana to Kolkata. The World Bank is supporting the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) as a series of projects in which the three sections with a total route length of 1,193 km will be delivered sequentially, but with considerable overlap in their construction schedules. EDFC 3, approved by the Board on June 30, 2016, will build the 401 km Ludhiana-Khurja section which goes through Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The project will help increase the capacity of these freight-only lines by raising the axle-load limit from 22.9 to 25 ton axle-load (upgradable to 32.5 ton axle loads) and enable speeds of up to 100 km/hr. The DFC lines are being built to carry bulk freight trains of 6,000 to 12,000 gross tons. The project is also developing the institutional capacity of the DFCCIL to build and maintain the DFC infrastructure network.

n++The objective of the EDFC project is to augment railway freight carrying capacity along the Railway Corridor between Ludhiana and Kolkata. The project will benefit industries of Northern and Eastern India, which rely on railway network for transportation of material inputs and exports that would accelerate creation of jobs in the northern and eastern regions of the country,n++ said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.

The first loan of $975 million for the 343 km Khurja-Kanpur section in the EDFC program was approved by the World Bank Board in May 2011 and is already under implementation. The project has already awarded contracts worth Rs 5500 crore. The second loan of $1.1 billion for the 402 km Kanpur-Mughalsarai section was approved by the World Bank Board in April 2014 and is in the implementation phase. The major contracts for civil works and systems has been awarded with a total value of Rs, 6300 crore.

n++Implementing the Dedicated Freight Corridor program will provide India the opportunity to create one of the worlds largest freight operations. The corridor, which will pass through states like Uttar Pradesh, will benefit from the new rail infrastructure, bringing jobs and much-needed development to some of Indias poorest regions,n++ said Hisham Abdo, Operations Manager and Acting Country Director, World Bank India. n++Moving freight from road to rail will reduce the carbon footprint of freight,n++ he added.

The EDFC is part of Indias first Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) initiative - being built on two main routes - the Western and the Eastern Corridors. These corridors will help India make a quantum leap in increasing the railways transportation capacity by building high-capacity, higher-speed dedicated freight corridors along the Golden Quadrilateral. Currently, the rail routes that form a Golden Quadrilateral connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, account for 16 percent of the railway networks route length, but carry more than 60 percent of Indias total rail freight.

Augmenting its transport systems is a crucial element of Indias trillion-dollar infrastructure agenda. Since the 1990s, road transport has advanced more rapidly than the railways, and now accounts for about 65 percent of the freight market and 90 percent of the passenger market in India, and those shares are growing.

n++The Indian Railways urgently needs to add freight routes to meet the growing freight traffic in India, which is projected to increase more than 7 percent annually. These freight lines will wholly transform the capacity, productivity, and service performance of Indias busiest rail freight corridors. At completion, it will be able to more than double its capacity to carry freight, with faster transit times, being more reliable and at lower cost,n++ said Ben L. J. Eijbergen, Program Leader, Economic Integration and the Task Team Leader for the Project.

Significant Green Impact: In addition to the efficiency improvement and other operational benefits, the project is expected to bring in significant reductions in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

A Green House Gas Emission Analysis was conducted by DFCCIL for the Eastern DFC Project. The analysis shows that the Eastern corridor is expected to generate about 10.48 million tons of GHG emissions up to 2041-42, as against 23.29 million of GHG emissions in the absence of EDFC - a 55 percent reduction in GHG emissions.

Economic opportunities are also being explored along the freight corridor. The government is planning to set up integrated manufacturing clusters using EDFC as the backbone. These clusters will be set up with an investment of about $1 billion on either side of EDFC.

The loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 7-year grace period, and a maturity of 22 years.

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Expect Insolvency and Bankruptcy Law to become operational by end-December 16: Shanktikanta Das
Oct 26,2016

The Union Government expects the entire Insolvency and Bankruptcy Law to become operational by end-December 2016, Economic Affairs Secretary, Mr Shaktikanta Das said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++We have a definite roadmap to implement the Bankruptcy Law, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs is working on it, the Law Ministry, the Legislative Department have played a very significant role in finalising the legislation and they will continue to have a very significant role in also finalising the regulations,n++ said Mr Das.

Highlighting how a clear roadmap has been drawn up, he informed that Ministry of Corporate Affairs has already published certain draft regulations and have invited comments, other regulations and rules are under preparation and they will be put in the public domain for public consultation.

n++Now it is the responsibility of both government and industry bodies and every category of professionals to develop information utilities, to develop insolvency professionals and take the implementation of this law forward and see that it is fully implemented and the economy and country is able to get its full benefits,n++ said Mr Das.

The DEA (Department of Economic Affairs) secretary also said that Insolvency and Bankruptcy Law creates massive opportunities for new service sector professionals who can manage information utilities and it also opens up lot of opportunities for a new category of professionals, mainly the resolution professionals who have to play a very important role.

n++I think the most critical thing for success of Bankruptcy code will be our ability to create good quality insolvency professionals. This opens up opportunities for professionals from the field of banking, legal professionals, chartered accountants, other finance professionals, people who have experience in management of companies,n++ said Mr Das.

Talking about the Centres determination to implement goods and services tax (GST) from April 1, 2017, he said n++Administratively and whatever preparedness is required, all that is in place and the government is absolutely determined to introduce it (GST) from 1.4.2017, the state governments are also equally committed to introducing it from that date.n++

n++The GST will happen, Bankruptcy Law has happened and both these pieces of legislation together with amendments to the Arbitration Law, SARFESAI, DRT related laws and the Company Law, these have the potential of creating a very vibrant and dynamic economy in India,n++ he added.

n++Our expectation is that the Bankruptcy Law together with the GST will really bring in a lot of dynamism and efficiency in to the Indian economy,n++ he said further.

On the issues pertaining to GST rate structure on which there is lot of discussion going on at the moment, within the GST Council and also in the public domain, Mr Das said, n++We hope and we are quite confident that they will get resolved in the next meeting of GST Council in the 1st week of November. I think in may be one or two more sittings, it should come to a conclusion.n++

n++The rate structure has been prepared based on a very practical basis, the rate has to be necessarily revenue neutral, we cannot have a rate structure where the governments run into huge deficits and consequently both state and Central governments will have to go and borrow the money from market,n++ he elaborated.

n++With higher fiscal deficit if the governments borrow higher amounts from the market and suck out all the liquidity, there is nothing left for the private sector investment in the economy to take place,n++ added DEA secy.

He said therefore, the GST rate structure has been worked out in such a manner that the bulk of commodities are under the standard rate which is 18 per cent and the items which are very important and are used by large section of people i.e. common man have been kept at six per cent.

n++It is a very practically worked out formulation, there are couple of issues that are still under deliberation in the GST Council and I am sure it will be resolved,n++ said Mr Das.

Highlighting how GST will contribute in bringing down the rates, he said n++This whole discussion which some people tend to make that GST will lead to increase in prices is a completely misplaced discussion.n++

He elaborated that currently central excise is at 12.5 per cent, state VAT (value added tax) is about 14-14.5 per cent and together they are about 26-27 per cent and in certain goods it is at 30 per cent.

n++In GST the peak rate is much lower than the current rate and the peak rate is only for demerit goods and for certain luxury items, while bulk of items/goods are in the 18 per cent bracket,n++ said the DEA secy.

n++So the GST will bring down the prices, we are trying to make India a low-cost economy through the instrumentality of GST, it will facilitate logistics cost also to go down because the waiting time in the various check-posts by trucks on an average is as much as 48 hours, which makes costs of logistics higher,n++ he added

n++With the GST coming in, check-posts going, our logistics cost will come down, o we are looking at more moderate level of taxes,n++ further said Mr Das.

He also expressed hope of agriculture growth definitely going up to 4.5 per cent on back of good monsoon which will contribute substantially to this years overall economic growth.

n++So we are therefore looking at a growth which will be upwards of 7.6 per cent and hopefully, close to eight per cent, but that we will only know when the year ends,n++ he added.

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Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Going to Initiate Integrated Farming on 100 KVKs
Oct 25,2016

The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) set up throughout the country play very important role to enhance the income of the farmers and promote agriculture. The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare appealed KVKs and state level agriculture officials that they should work with the farmers in very much closed affinity. They were called for to extend their contribution to the farmers for enhancing their income. Shri Radha Mohan Singh added that Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is going to initiate integrated farming on 100 KVKs very shortly. The farmers living in the district after having observed them can adopt to increase their income.

The Union Minister addressed the scientists of 12 Krishi Vigyan Kendras, State Level Agriculture Officer, Livestock, Fisheries, and Horticulture Officers as well as beneficiary farmers. This was for the first time that the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare had a direct dialogue with KVK Officers as well as beneficiary farmers through video conferencing.

The Minister addressed the experts of Krishi Vigyan Kendra situated in Andhra Pradesh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Goa, Karnataka, Karela, Lakshyadweep, Maharashtra, Orissa, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and the State and District level Agriculture Development Officers as well as progressive farmers. The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers in the first half of the hour put up his outlook to the farmers and thereafter in a span of half an hour responded their queries.

Shri Radha Mohan said to the KVKs officers that the farmers require quality seeds, planting materials as well as fertilizers to increase the productivity of their crops. Therefore, the officers must help them through and through. The Minister of Agriculture also mentioned on this eve about the diseases of the animals and their vaccination. Shri Singh added that officers must continue to check the diseases of the animals. The Minister further added that after having put a check on the diseases of the animals, the income of the farmers will increase. The Union Minister of Agriculture briefed farmers about agriculture projects and agriculture strategies of the government. Shri Singh said to the officers that they must be dedicated from the bottom of their heart for the fulfillment of these projects.

On this juncture the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare appealed the farmers to adopt fisheries so as to double their income. Shri reiterated the state and district level fisheries officers that they should take necessary steps to celebrate the World Fishery Day on 21st November and give support to the farmers in every walk of their agricultural need. The Union Minister further added that on 5th December the World Soil Health Day is celebrated. Therefore, the states are required to prepare themselves for the celebration. The Minister said that the farmers should get the Soil Health Card made and in this respect they should negotiate with the nearby agriculture officers.

The Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said to the farmers that they should not put the paddy harvesting after weeds but they should utilize this stuff to convert it into bio-fertilizer. Later on the farmers put up their queries before the Union Minister and called for the solution of their problems.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh briefed the farmers that for their welfare 645 Krishi Vigyan Kendras have been reconstituted throughout the country. The government is going to take the initiative for opening 106 new KVKs in all newly created and larger districts of the country. Shri Singh reiterated that now in every district of the country is comprised of KVK which will be dedicated for the benefit of the farmers and will sort out the problems.

The first phase of the video conferencing comprised of three phases completed on 19th October, 2016. The Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare addressed the Officers of Krishi Vigyan Kendras and as well as farmers of 12 states from Northern India. The third and final phase of video conferencing will be held on 28th October in which the KVK Officers of Hill States and farmers thereof will have a mutual dialogue with the Union Minister.

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