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Over-dependence on China for key pharma raw material worrying: ASSOCHAM Paper
Oct 18,2016

India may have emerged as a key supplier of generic and affordable medicine for the world market, its overwhelming dependence on China for a crucial raw material , known as Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) to the extent of over 65 per cent of the requirement, has emerged as a main worrying area, an ASSOCHAM-RNCOS joint paper has noted.

This is all the more disconcerting in the face of louder narrative against reducing trade gap with China which is well over USD 51 billion, adds the ASSOCHAM study.

The API is the organ by which active pharmaceutical ingredients are manufactured from raw materials through both chemical and physical means. While rapid growth in new medical technologies is spurring the demand for APIs worldwide today with the increased import of raw pharma ingredients from the emerging markets, n++ Indias rising dependence on imports from China for many APIs that go into the making of a number of essential drugs has been cited as an area of concern for the policy makersn++.

Though the government has taken steps like withdrawal of exemption in customs duties , imports worth Rs 13,853 crore in 2015-16 or 65.29 per cent of the total imports of Rs 21,216 crore are not sustainable. n++Over-dependence on China for APIs is likely to affect the bulk drug manufacturing sector, and subsequently have an impact on our population in plausible scenarios of drug shortages brought down by interrupted imports from single source countryn++, ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said, adding over-dependence on such a crucial raw material on a single country is also not advisable from Indias overall strategic interests as well.

One of the main reasons for huge API imports from China is low cost of its manufacture and subsidy in China while India levies negligible import fee . n++The import fees should be increased in line with other counterpartsn++, the paper said.

The chamber said there is presence of multiple regulatory authorities for the industry. The API manufacturers have to approach different authorities for renewal of licences that become a tedious affair. n++Therefore a single committee of various government departments should be formed to regulate the industry through a single window and audit of plantsn++.Besides, the Centre can focus on development of mega parks for APIs across the country. These parks should be provided with common facilities such as effluent treatment plants, testing, power plants, IPR management and designing. These facilities should be maintained by special purpose vehicles.

Several other countries like China provide incentives and subsidies for promoting the manufacture of essential pharmaceutical raw material. This significantly reduces their cost of production and ability to supply API to the world market at a huge discount to the global prices. This discourages new domestic investment in the sector.

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Sports Authority of India collaborate with some identified universities across the country to improve standards of training
Oct 18,2016

Sports Authority of India (SAI) will collaborate with some identified universities across the country to improve standards of training with a view to achieving excellence in sports. For this purpose, each Regional Director of SAI will identify one or two universities with good sports infrastructure and sporting traditions. This decision was taken at a meeting of Heads of SAI Regional Centres, Academic Institutions, SAI Training Centres (STCs) and Special Area Games (SAG) Centres.

Collaboration between SAI and chosen universities is imperative in view of the fact that several universities across the country have excellent sports infrastructure which is not being optimally utilized. Such collaboration is also essential in view of the fact that in big sporting nations like the USA, international athletes mostly come from their universities.

At the meeting, ways were discussed to improve the effectiveness of sports promotion schemes of SAI and providing the best possible facilities to SAI trainees. It was decided to closely monitor the performance of SAI coaches, take steps to constantly upgrade their skills and also to incentivize them. Every SAI Centre has been asked to select sports disciplines for focused attention, keeping in view factors like infrastructure and local traditions. The issue of identification of talent by SAI was also discussed at length. It was decided that SAI would pro-actively hunt for talent by sending its teams to interior areas. Sports science experts will also be part of such teams. SAI will also collaborate with Defence forces to ensure that talented children get selected for nurturing in SAI Centres.

In his remarks at the meeting, Shri Vijay Goel emphasized the need for SAI Centres to closely work with the State Governments and involve local representatives of people so that concerted and coordinated efforts can be made for achieving sports excellence. He also stressed the need for seeking contribution of the corporate sector to upgrade facilities at the SAI Centres. He called for initiating steps to utilize every nook and corner of SAI complexes. He suggested that SAI facilities should be opened to public without disturbing their normal activities of training.

This was after a gap of several years that a Union Sports Minister took a meeting of field functionaries of SAI to understand the problems being faced at the grassroots level and take steps for improvement in future.

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Sagarmala funds flagship project of Ro Pax Ferry Service in Gulf of Cambay, Gujarat
Oct 17,2016

As part of promoting coastal shipping in the country under Sagarmala programme, the Ministry of Shipping has sanctioned the Capital Dredging Project for Ro Pax Ferry Services between Gogha & Dahej, in Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat. The Ministry released Rs 58.50 Crore as first installment of grant-in-aid to Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB). The total project cost is estimated to be Rs 234 Crore and of which 50% will be funded by Centre Government under the Sagarmala programme.

The project would result in reduction in motorable distance of 231 kms between Gogha & Dahej to mere 31 kms and reduce the travel time from 7 hours to 1 hour only by crossing the Gulf in Cambay in 17 Nautical Miles. The initiative would not only reduce the travel time but also result in savings in fuel, reduction in CO2 emission and reduction in road congestion.

The project is first of its kinds in India as it will be executed in the area of worlds 2nd highest tidal range. The project would open up new avenues in coastal shipping & tourism and help in socio-economic development of proximate areas. It would also help in utilisation of inland waterways through River Narmada for shipping goods from industries located upstream.

It is one of the flagship projects under Sagarmala which aims to increase share of waterways transportation in modal mix to 10 per cent from present level of 7 per cent by year 2025.

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Protocol for Undertaking Feasibility Study of Speed Raising of Nagpur-Secundrabad Railway Corridor Signed Between Indian Railways and Russian Railways
Oct 17,2016

In an important bilateral cooperation in railway sector, a Protocol for feasibility study of speed raising of Nagpur-Secundrabad Railway Corridor was signed between Indian Railways and Russian Railways on 15th Oct16 at Goa during the bilateral meeting of Shri Narender Modi, Prime Minister of India with Russian President Mr. Vladimir Putin. The Protocol covers technical and execution study for upgradation of the speed of passenger trains in Nagpur- Secundrabad section upto 200 kmph. This project will be jointly financed by Indian Railways and Russian Railways with 50% cost share of each party. The Protocol was signed by Mr. Naveen Kumar Shukla, Adviser/Mobility/Railway Board from Indian side and Mr. O V Belozerov, President, Russian Railways from Russian side.

Background

During December, 2015 an MoU was signed between Ministry of Railways and Russian Railways on Technical Cooperation in Railway Sector. The following cooperation areas were identified in the MoU:

(i) High Speed Rail (HSR) in India;

(ii) Modernization of existing lines of the Indian railways in order to raise train speeds up to 160-200 kmph;

(iii) Modern Control & Safety related Systems based on satellite navigation and digital communication means;

(iv) Satellite and geo-information technologies;

(v) Transportation safety and cyber security;

(vi) Rolling stock;

(vii) Heavy haul transportation;

(viii) Organization of Human Resources training for the Indian railways: secondary and higher vocational education of students and advanced training of staff members including managers;

(ix) Station redevelopment;

(x) Dedicated freight rail corridors;

(xi) Modernization, reconstruction and construction of track superstructure, civil engineering works, including bridges and tunnels; and

(xii) Slab tracks.

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FM: Leading institutions especially educational institutions can play important role in creating mass awareness about issues like financial inclusion
Oct 17,2016

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said leading institutions especially educational institutions can play an important role in creating mass awareness about issues like financial inclusion in the country. He said that the present Government has taken various steps in last two and a half years to link every household with a bank account. Under PMJDY, Shri Jaitley said that the Government has been able to open 240 million bank accounts and now except in certain remote and inaccessible areas, people who are in a position to connect with bank, have a bank account. The Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley was speaking after launching a Financial Inclusion initiative of Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) titled Vittshala. SRCC is a premier educational institution in the national capital in the field of commerce and economics education in the country.

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley further said that the Government had launched MUDRA Yojana so that small traders, businesses and new entrepreneurs can have access to banking finance without security. He said that during the last year i.e. in 2015-16, a provision of Rs.1,20,000 crore was made under this Yojana which has been increased to Rs. 1,80,000 crore in the current Financial Year 2016-17.He said that major beneficiaries under the Scheme were women and those from weaker sections of society.

Vittshala is a Centre For Community Engagement (CCE) initiative, aimed at making communities equipped enough to manage financial resources effectively through community engagement, workshops, seminars, and discussions. Founded by a group of motivated teachers and students, the Cell wants to create an impact through its well-planned, community-oriented projects. Vittshala envisions a nation where every individual is financially literate and is empowered to act as a catalyst for economic growth.

Vittshala will act as a multi-faceted programme involving peer-counseling, developing interactive apps and events to promote financial literacy with respect to: Basics of Financial Planning, Channelisation of savings, Investments, Banking and Insurance services, Opening and operating of bank accounts and related Government schemes

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DRI makes seizure of about Rs 12.91 crore including 21 kg Gold worth Rs. 6.47 crore, and Indian Currency notes worth Rs 6.44 crore
Oct 17,2016

The Delhi Zonal Unit (DZU) of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Ministry of Finance seized 20.64 kilogram gold and Indian currency notes worth Rs 6.44 crore from a shop in the old Delhi area.

The gold is valued at about Rs. 6.47 crore, of which 20 bars are of 1 kg each with foreign markings and of 995 purity. Searches also resulted in recovery of Rs 6.44 crore of Indian currency notes, being the sale proceeds of smuggled gold. The total value of the seizure is about Rs 12.91 crore. Two persons have been arrested and remanded to judicial custody. Further investigation is in progress.

DRI continues with its drive against smuggling and black money and has achieved significant results in the recent past. Last month, the Delhi Zonal Unit of DRI had made a record detection of smuggling of gold of about 7,000 Kilograms, valued at about Rs 2,000 crore and had arrested two persons. The main kingpin has also been detained under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Act (COFEPOSA), 1974.

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Indias services exports decline 1.5% in August 2016
Oct 17,2016

As per the data released by the Reserve Bank of India, Indias services exports declined 1.5% to US$ 13.38 billion in August 2016 over August 2015. On the other hand, Indias services imports moved up 3.6% to US$ 8.05 billion in August 2016.

Indias services trade surplus narrowed 8.3% to US$ 5.33 billion in August 2016 from US$ 5.81 billion in August 2015.

Indias services trade surplus has declined 4.6% to US$ 26.89 billion in April-August 2016 over a year ago, with 6.9% surge in services imports to US$ 38.96 billion. Indias services exports rose mere 1.9% to US$ 65.85 billion in April-August 2016.

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Indias merchandise exports rises 4.6% in September 2016
Oct 17,2016

Indias merchandise exports rose 4.6% to US$ 22.88 billion in September 2016 over a year ago. Meanwhile, merchandise imports continued to decline at 2.5% to US$ 31.22 billion. The trade deficit narrowed 18.0% to US$ 8.34 billion in September 2016 from US$ 10.17 billion in September 2015.

Oil imports rose 3.1% to US$ 6.89 billion, while snapping consistent decline for last 23 sequential months. However, the non-oil imports dipped 4.0% to US$ 24.33 billion in September 2016 over September 2015. The share of oil imports in total imports was 22.1% in September 2016, compared with 20.8% in September 2015. Indias basket of crude oil declined 3.5% to US$ 44.48 per barrel in September 2016 over September 2015.

Among the non-oil imports, the major contributors to the overall decline in imports were fertilizers imports declining 54.3% to US$ 0.47 billion, iron & steel 27.5% to US$ 0.96 billion, transport equipment 24.8% to US$ 1.08 billion, silver 71.3% to US$ 0.14 billion, gold 10.3% to US$ 1.80 billion, electronic goods 4.9% to US$ 3.68 billion, organic & inorganic chemicals 11.8% to US$ 1.28 billion and metaliferrous ores & other minerals 11.7% to US$ 0.49 billion. The imports also declined for wood & wood products by 11.9% to US$ 0.42 billion, dyeing/tanning/colouring materials 22.3% to US$ 0.18 billion, project goods 22.2% to US$ 0.17 billion, non-ferrous metals 5.5% to US$ 0.84 billion and pulses 12.7% to US$ 0.22 billion.

On the other hand, the imports have increased for petroleum products by 3.1% to US$ 6.89 billion, electrical & non-electrical machinery 7.0% to US$ 2.48 billion, pearls, precious & semi-precious stones 36.0% to US$ 2.07 billion, coal 10.0% to US$ 1.06 billion, vegetable oil 23.5% to US$ 1.04 billion, artificial resins, plastic materials, etc. 2.6% to US$ 1.02 billion, medicinal & pharmaceutical products 1.6% to US$ 0.44 billion and cotton 378.9% to US$ 0.26 billion in September 2016.

On exports front, the engineering goods recorded an increase in exports by 6.5% to US$ 5.16 billion, followed by gems & jewellery 22.4% to US$ 4.46 billion, RMG of all textiles 12.6% to US$ 1.28 billion, organic & inorganic chemicals 6.1% to US$ 1.17 billion, marine products 12.0% to US$ 0.59 billion, electronic goods 3.9% to US$ 0.50 billion, handicrafts excluding handmade carpet 23.7% to US$ 0.25 billion, and plastic & linoleum 3.1% to US$ 0.51 billion.

However, the exports declined for, petroleum products by 1.4% to US$ 2.55 billion, cotton yarn/fabrics/made-ups, handloom products etc 13.4% to US$ 0.79 billion, rice 25.1% to US$ 0.42 billion, leather & leather products 6.7% to US$ 0.41 billion, meat, dairy & poultry products 10.5% to US$ 0.40 billion, man-made yarn/fabrics/made-ups etc 15.6% to US$ 0.37 billion, coal & other ores, minerals including processed minerals 12.0% to US$ 0.25 billion in September 2016.

Merchandise exports in rupees increased 5.4% to Rs 152700 crore, while imports declined 1.8% to Rs 208356 crore in September 2016 over September 2015. The trade deficit narrowed to Rs 55656 crore in September 2016 compared with Rs 67317 crore in September 2015.

Indias merchandise exports declined 1.5% to US$ 131.40 billion, while merchandise imports fell 13.4% to US$ 174.41 billion in April-September 2016. The decline in imports was driven by a 18.5% plunge in oil imports to US$ 39.30 billion. Indias merchandise trade deficit declined to US$ 43.01 billion in April-September 2016 from US$ 67.88 billion in April-September 2015.

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Markets to Remain Circumspect
Oct 17,2016

Strengthening prospects of an imminent rate hike by the US Fed will keep investors risk appetite reined in and may result in domestic market sentiments staying cautious this week, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The 10-year G-sec yield could trade in the 6.71%-6.80% range (6.73% at close on 14 October 2016). The rupee is likely to trade at 66.45/USD-67.10/USD (66.73/USD at close on 14 October).

Global Conditions to Keep Momentum Reined In: Ind-Ra believes the sharp drop in retail inflation (4.3% in September 2016, 5.05% in August 2016 and 6.07% in July 2016) strengthens the prospects of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India. However, with risks emerging from the Fed rate hike probability and a potential surge in oil price, market is likely to stay cautious amid constructive domestic conditions.

Liquidity to Stay Neutral: Ind-Ra believes the RBIs liquidity management will alleviate most pressure on overnight rates apart from frictional volatilities. Ind-Ra believes proactive measures by the RBI such as open market operations, G-sec purchase could be resorted to, if liquidity shifts into a deficit. The impact on money market instruments, however, is unlikely to be major.

Testing Period for Rupee: Ind-Ra expects the rupee to undergo a period of volatility in the upcoming weeks on account of both domestic and global conditions. As redemptions of FCNR occupy the centre-stage of demand-supply dynamics domestically, investors risk aversion globally is likely to keep the environment for rupee challenging. Ind-Ra believes the rupee will be shielded from the sharp depreciation episodes witnessed earlier.

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Government to bring an anti-trafficking legislation in Parliament soon: Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Oct 17,2016

The Minister of Women & Child Development, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi has said that the Government will soon bring an anti-trafficking legislation into the Parliament, the draft of which is ready. She was addressing the Regional Editors Conference organised by the Press Information Bureau of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in Chandigarh today. The Minister said that the Government will try to introduce the Bill in the winter session of the Parliament. It will cover rescue, relief and reintegration of trafficked persons, and for the first time will make a distinction between those trafficked and the traffickers, she explained.

Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi highlighted the steps being taken by the Government for the safety and protection of women and children of the country. Recently, the Ministry of Women and Child has launched POCSO e-Box which is a simple and easy facility for children or any adult to register complaints of child sexual abuse or harassment. 81 complaints have already been received on this e-Box, the Minister disclosed. In another important initiative to track missing children, the Minister said, the Khoya Paya portal has already reported nearly 6000 cases of missing/sighted children since its launch last year. Runaway/Missing children are also being helped under Special Operating Procedures developed in association with Railways. Smt Maneka Gandhi elaborated that 13000 children have already been helped under this initiative and posters are being pasted in all railway coaches to report children in distress.

Some of the other landmark initiatives taken by the Government include decision to install panic buttons on all cell phones for women in distress from 1st of January 2017, setting up of nearly 170 One Stop Centres for women affected by violence by March 2017, Flagship programme Beti bachao Beti Padhao to reverse the declining child sex ratio, 33% reservation for women in police force, and setting up a large Home for 1000 widows in Vrindavan, said Smt Maneka Gandhi. The Minister further elaborated that Guidelines for Matrimonial Websites are being implemented to prevent their misuse, an online portal Mahil e-Haat for women to sell their products has been set up on which business worth nearly six lakh rupess was transacted in the first six months itself, STEP programme of training women has been completely revamped, women sarpanches are being trained to empower them to administer the villages professionally , and scheme of Gender Champions has been launched in schools.

Last but not the least, the Government is now working full time to revamp the anganwadi system to change ways in which nutrition is being administered to children and pregnant women in them, the WCD Minister said. To ensure healthy children, the Government is now working for six months mandatory maternity leave for working women for which the Ministry of Labour and Employment has moved to introduce amendments in the Act.

Summing up, the Women and Child Development Minister, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi said the Government is moving fast on all fronts to change the status of women and children in the country.

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Indo-Pak Border to be completely sealed in two years
Oct 17,2016

The Government has decided to completely seal the International Border (IB) with Pakistan by physical/non-physical barriers by December, 2018. There is about 181.85 km stretch in which construction of physical barrier is not feasible due to geographic constraints like riverine, low-lying, creek, marshy etc. areas. In this stretch, advance technology solutions including cameras, sensors, radars, lasers, etc will be deployed. BSF is testing the available technologies through pilot projects in Jammu, Punjab and Gujarat. Announcing this during Regional Editors Conference in Chandigarh today, the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh said that Border Security is a very sensitive issue and India is engaging all the neighbours except Pakistan diplomatically to ensure peace on the borders. He added that because of development work, transgression incidents at China border have also come down drastically. Shri Rajnath Singh categorized our borders as friendly, active and strategic borders.

Referring recent surgical operations Shri Rajnath Singh said that it was pre-emptive action against Pakistan and India does not have any ill will against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan has adopted terrorism as its state policy and harbouring terrorists. That is the reason it has been isolated not only in South Asia, but also in the world. He said India is ready to help Pakistan in taking action against terrorists in Pakistan, including Pak Occupied Kashmir. Pakistan should close down factory of terrorism. This will open vistas of development and help in ensuring peace in South Asia.

Regarding incidents of insurgency in North East, the Home Minister said that the Government is continuing dialogue with all the groups and claim that such incidents have come down. Similarly, incidents of Left Wing Extremism have also come down drastically because of two-pronged approach of the Government- development alongwith a strict action by the security forces.

The Home Minister said that after Mumbai attacks, Coastal security has been given very high priority. Third phase of coastal security plan very soon will be put before the cabinet for the approval. This will help in securing our vast coastal border lines.

Declaring that the Union Government is committed to peace and prosperity in Jammu & Kashmir, he expressed the hope that very soon normalcy will return in the state. Later, answering the media query Shri Rajnath said that the radicalization is not a major challenge in India as people have very sensible approach towards this issue.

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Organic relationships in the BIMSTEC region need revival: Nirmala Sitharaman
Oct 17,2016

Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Government of India called for greater buoyancy in the approach toward implementing projects in the BIMSTEC region. The Minister was speaking at the BIMSTEC Business Summit organized by the Ministry of External Affairs with the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Sitharaman elucidated how the complementarity of the region could be highlighted to close in on the agreements that are being discussed. She shared that with the BRICS Business meetings going on at present, it was apt to have invited the BIMSTEC countries to take part in the deliberations. She observed that the countries in this region have been connected since time immemorial and hence the organic nature of pre-existing relationships could be easily revived.

Romi Gauchan Thakali, Minister of Commerce, Government of Nepal, highlighted that for Nepal, BIMSTEC is a stepping stone for its industry to embark on the journey to integrated business transactions. Having achieved their political agenda in the recent past, Nepal is currently on the path of economic development and hence is ready to foster in regional integration and increased business linkages with its neighboring nations especially under the BIMSTEC umbrella. He also urged that the special treatment given to LDCs in the region be continued as it has definitely resulted in successful business exchanges.

Preeti Saran, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs said that countries in the BIMSTEC region have a shared heritage and is one of the most dynamic regions in the world. She pointed out that put together BIMSTEC countries comprises of $ 2.5 bn of the world economy. Hence it is important that the themes of free trade, physical connectivity, power and MSMEs get maximum focus. She further added that being the lead country for BIMSTEC on the sectors of transport, tourism and infrastructure; India will continue pushing agendas for greater collusion of thoughts.

Sumith Nakandala, Secretary General, BIMSTEC Secretariat, Bangladesh laid emphasis on the fact that that the Bay of Bengal us a conduit for the flow of ideas and innovative business models. BIMSTEC region is situated at the heart of history and it is only the reimagining of connections that will pave the way for the formation of an exemplary network. It is time that we rediscover our common heritage and create the roadmap to celebrate the 20th anniversary of BIMSTEC, he said.

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry, said that Indian industry has a key role to play in driving global trade and investment agenda. The Annual BIMSTEC Business Summit will provide opportunities of Country Mapping of the member countries. The engagement would facilitate as well as identify opportunities of Sectoral Collaboration and Policy Advocacy between member countries.

The Summit provided a platform to deliberate upon concerns with regard to the finalization of the FTA, connecting the dots with respect to physical connectivity, ways to power BIMSTEC countries and providing the right ecosystem for the growth of MSMEs. It brought together experts from Industry, Government and Institutions to build integrative strategies to facilitate an effective and integrated role with invaluable collaborative opportunities to ensure unhindered economic growth and human development in the BIMSTEC region.

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Marked growth in consumer confidence this festive season; Consumer to spend 40% more this Diwali: ASSOCHAM Survey
Oct 17,2016

Riding on the back of an uptick in the economy and improving perception for better job prospects, coupled with steady lowering of interest rates, the consumer demand is witnessing a marked growth of as much 40 per cent in the ongoing festival season this year, as compared to 2015, an ASSOCHAM survey has said.

Notably, rural demand is adding to the festive fervour, as good Monsoon has boosted confidence among the farmers and farm labour. Clear pick up is visible in the sale of two-wheelers, jewellery and even consumer durables in the rural and semi-rural areas in most parts of the country. However, as noted in earlier ASSOCHAM survey, the demand for real estate and housing remains very low key.

The uptick in demand is seen clearly in the sale of automobiles including passenger cars, two-wheelers, mobile handsets, consumer durables and fashion -wears. So far, the maximum push is seen in the eastern and western region while the northern region is expected to pick up in the run-up to Diwali, reveals the ASSOCHAM survey.

Kolkata and other major cities in the east have witnessed a splurge on Durga Puja shopping while the western cities of Maharashtra and Gujarat have seen good rush of shoppers during the Navratris. Delhi and other north Indian cities would pick up pace in the next few days in jewellery buying, apart from consumer durables.

According to the survey, about 20 per cent increase in spend on groceries; a 52 per cent increase in budget apparels, about 32 percent spend on lifestyle and fashion accessories in the next three months would mark the festive season, the survey noted.

Green shoots in the economy are giving a lot of confidence to consumer demand, which hopefully would lead to an appetite for fresh investment after a brief lag, said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat .

The survey covered consumers in age groups 24-34 and 35-45 in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Lucknow and Indore.

The survey reveals that women are likely to spend more on apparel than men, while men tend to spend more on lifestyle accessories than women.

The average amount spend on mobiles during the festive season is expected to range from Rs 15,000- 35,500, up from Rs 10,000 - 15,000 for the last six months. In case of mobile phones and other electronics, consumers will re-look into various brands and their offerings especially, in terms of the value proposition before making the purchase decision.

The average ticket size for home appliances and electronics during the festive season is expected to be Rs 15,000-25,000/- six months ago.

The middle and upper middle class spend around Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 in the festive season. Mostly they buy electronic items like mobiles, laptops or LED TVs.

Metro consumers are increasing taking to online shopping as top e-commerce companies discounts, freebies and offers to boost sales. Online retailers such as Amazon, Paytm, Jabong, ShopClues, Snapdeal, Flipkart and Quikr are doling out hefty discounts apart from cash-back offers and loyalty points.

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Monetary Stance and Inflation Easing Provide Scope for Further Monetary Accommodation
Oct 15,2016

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) expects one more 25bp rate cut in FY17 on account of the tweak in monetary policy stance and easing of retail and wholesale inflation. The change in the Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) policy stance with respect to the reduction in real interest to 1.25% from the 1.5%-2.0% range coupled with extending the time to achieve 4% inflation by three years (to March 2021 from March 2018) has provided RBI additional space for monetary easing in the near-term.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) came in at 4.3% in September 2016 as against Ind-Ras forecast of 4.6%. Wholesale Price Index (WPI) moderated to 3.6% in September from 3.7% in the previous month. Both CPI and WPI moderated in September primarily led by softening food price inflation. The trend is along expected lines and Ind-Ra believes it is likely to continue in the next month.

Retail food inflation (excluding non-alcoholic beverages and prepared meals) moderated to 3.88%yoy in September 2016 from 5.91% in the previous month. This was because of a sharp decline in the prices of vegetables and pulses. Pulses inflation moderated to 14.3% in September 2016 (August 2016: 21.9%) while vegetable prices contracted 7.2% (1%). Prices of cereals, eggs, sugar and fruits, with a weightage of 14.35% in CPI, however increased in September 2016.

Lower retail inflation is indeed a reason for cheer, particularly when the festival season is round the corner; however, there are few pressure points that need attention such as i) rising trend in cereal prices, ii) rise in the prices of transport and communication services and iii) the likely impact of house rent allowance as and when announcement on allowance is made by the government. The other area of concern with respect to retail inflation is a sustained higher inflation in rural areas than urban areas. Rural CPI came in at 5% as against 3.6% urban CPI in September 2016.

On the WPI front, food inflation moderated to 5.75% yoy in September 2016 from 8.23% in the previous month. While wholesale inflation has remained benign, pressure is emerging from fuel, power, light and lubricants group (September 2016: 5.6%, August 2016: 1.6%). Inflation of mineral oils group jumped to 10% in September from 3.4% in August 2016. Core (non-food) inflation after remaining in negative territory from March 2015 to June 2016 has turned positive since July 2016. Positive core inflation suggests some improvement in demand and pricing power; however, it is too early to term this as a demand turnaround.

Lower inflation cements market expectation of a rate cut and is, therefore, likely to keep bond market sentiment buoyed - with risks emerging from the Fed rate hike probability and a potential surge in oil price. While government bonds are likely to remain in focus, the preference could shift to highly rated corporate bonds and state development loans as investors rush to capture yields. This opens up the possibility of narrowing of credit and duration spread over the coming months.

In the medium term, the rupee will continue to be supported by fundamental drivers; while short-term movement will be guided by corporate earnings and global risk appetite. The flows position has favoured the equity segment over the debt market for most of 2016. These flows will be impacted as the Fed moves closer to hiking rates while the concern over foreign currency non-resident (FCNR B) deposits redemption will pose volatility risks. Pertinently, a sudden shift in global financial conditions could pose risks for the currency as spreads between global yields and domestic yields have narrowed.

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Centre to establish logistic hubs near sea ports to promote exports: Nirmala Sitharaman
Oct 15,2016

The government is establishing logistic hubs near sea ports with private sector participation to relieve the issue of receiving stocks on the airport, seaport and movement of goods inland, Union Commerce Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++We are establishing logistic hubs nearer the sea ports, as many of them, I may not be able to give a final picture, I think this would address immediate concerns that would be sustainable in the long term,n++ said Sitharaman.

Highlighting the priority of the government to cut down on logistic challenges, she said that the Centre was trying to make electronic data interchanges at major ports that are completely under the control of Central Government.

n++In 36 landing areas, the regional authorities representing the DGFT (Director General of Foreign Trade) office have just initiated a two-day intensive workshop with them to see how best to reach out to exporters, how best to engage with exporters and CBEC (Central Board of Excise and Customs) is also part of this exercise,n++ said the Minister.

On the issue of 24x7 presence of DGFT and Customs authorities she said, n++We shall ensure that there shall not be a day wasted for import or export for some reason when there is a need for an authority to come in to certify or to question or to give clarification, for want of the presence of officers, trade shall not suffer, we shall attend to it.n++

Highlighting that a complete, comprehensive picture is being handled on the logistics front, she said that her ministry was engaging with railways to cut down costs.

She also informed that the review of Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) is underway. n++As of 2015 when FTP was brought out I remember making a clear statement so that there is a sense of stability in the minds of exporters that I shall not review the policy unless we reach the mid-term, the review has commenced. We are doing the FTP review.n++

Conceding that taxation was a key issue hampering exports growth, Sitharaman said, n++You cannot be paying tax over tax and exporters cannot be taxed for exporting, we recognize that difficulty and I know GST (Goods and Services Tax) alone cannot give us the solution, in fact the GST would raise the industrys ambition saying why taxation cannot be simplified and subsume many of tax into GST so that we handle only one.n++

Emphasizing that simplification of taxation was the governments top agenda, she said, n++We are trying to simplify, since it involves many states, we are also making sure that we take them on board.n++

On ease of doing business, she said that government was identifying more and more hurdles each year without which exporters, manufacturers would be better off.

n++We are working on it, it is something which is not going to be that easily brought to a closure, these are long term sustained efforts, which are not the glamorous side of big ticket reforms but the sustainable actions that we need to take in order to bring systemic reforms and we are at it,n++ said Ms Sitharaman.

She said that the Commerce Ministry was also working on sorting out currency related issues being faced by exporters. n++We are not leaving any one area, we are constantly in search of newer markets so that our exporters can benefit, I know the risks involved in some of the countries, these are issues we are working out.n++

On the issue of trade imbalance with China, the Minister said, n++Yesterday I have raised this issue with Chinese minister and not for the first time, we have had this dialogue since 2014 but I found yesterday, the minister was very forthcoming.n++

n++We have highlighted that the imbalance is not because of our industrys lack of competitiveness, they are competitive enough but access is not being made available to us,n++ said Ms Sitharaman.

She also informed about raising the issue of Indias information technology (IT) sector facing experience related issues in every region. n++You enter a country and not each region and that has been held against us, so we have highlighted the point. We have highlighted the fact that they could give us some pilot projects through which we can prove our capability.n++

However, she said that more time cannot be wasted. n++We have waited for two years, even after this new government has come in, China has been requested that they have to be a lot more open to receive Indian institutions which go there to do business.n++

She said that pharmaceuticals is one of the important areas, where China wants more services to be available. n++They want our drugs but unfortunately many of the permissions, certifications are not happening as quickly as they should.n++

The Union Minister also invited the industry to use the Dashboard of the Commerce Ministry for export and import related data more and more as that would also be influencing its policy making.

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