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Asia Infrastructure Needs Exceed $1.7 Trillion Per Year, Double Previous Estimates
Feb 28,2017

Infrastructure needs in developing Asia and the Pacific will exceed $22.6 trillion through 2030, or $1.5 trillion per year, if the region is to maintain growth momentum, according to a new flagship report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The estimates rise to over $26 trillion, or $1.7 trillion per year, when climate change mitigation and adaptation costs are incorporated.

The report, Meeting Asias Infrastructure Needs, focuses on the regions power, transport, telecommunications, and water and sanitation infrastructure. It comprehensively examines current infrastructure stocks and investments, future investment needs, and financing mechanisms for developing Asia.

n++The demand for infrastructure across Asia and the Pacific far outstrips current supply,n++ said ADB President Takehiko Nakao. n++Asia needs new and upgraded infrastructure that will set the standard for quality, encourage economic growth, and respond to the pressing global challenge that is climate change.n++

Infrastructure development in the 45 countries covered in the report has grown dramatically in recent decades n++ spurring growth, reducing poverty, and improving peoples lives. But a substantial infrastructure gap remains, with over 400 million people still lacking electricity, 300 million without access to safe drinking water, and about 1.5 billion lacking access to basic sanitation. Many economies in the region lack adequate ports, railways, and roads that could connect them efficiently to larger domestic and global markets.

n++ADB pledges to work with member countries and use our 50 years of experience and expertise to meet infrastructure needs in the region. As the private sector is crucial to fill infrastructure gaps, ADB will promote investment friendly policies and regulatory and institutional reforms to develop bankable project pipelines for public-private partnerships,n++ said Mr. Nakao.

Report Highlights:

n++ Developing Asia will need to invest $26 trillion from 2016 to 2030, or $1.7 trillion per year, if the region is to maintain its growth momentum, eradicate poverty, and respond to climate change (climate-adjusted estimate). Without climate change mitigation and adaptation costs, $22.6 trillion will be needed, or $1.5 trillion per year (baseline estimate).

n++ Of the total climate-adjusted investment needs over 2016-2030, $14.7 trillion will be for power and $8.4 trillion for transport. Investments in telecommunications will reach $2.3 trillion, with water and sanitation costs at $800 billion over the period.

n++ East Asia will account for 61% of climate-adjusted investment needs through 2030. As a percentage of GDP, however, the Pacific leads all other sub-regions, requiring investments valued at 9.1% of GDP. This is followed by South Asia at 8.8%, Central Asia at 7.8%, Southeast Asia at 5.7%, and East Asia at 5.2% of GDP.

n++ The $1.7 trillion annual climate-adjusted estimate is more than double the $750 billion ADB estimated in 2009. The inclusion of climate-related investments is a major contributing factor. An even more important factor is the continued rapid growth forecasted for the region, which generates new infrastructure demand. The inclusion of all 45 ADB member countries in developing Asia, compared to 32 in the 2009 report, and the use of 2015 prices versus 2008 prices also explain the increase.

n++ Currently, the region annually invests an estimated $881 billion in infrastructure (for 25 economies with adequate data, comprising 96% of the regions population). The infrastructure investment gap n++ the difference between investment needs and current investment levels n++ equals 2.4% of projected GDP (climate-adjusted) for the 5-year period from 2016 to 2020.

n++ The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) has a gap of 1.2% of GDP in the climate-adjusted scenario. Without the PRC, the gap rises to a much higher 5% of the remaining 24 economies projected GDP. Public finance reforms could generate additional revenues estimated to bridge around 40% of the gap (or 2% of GDP) for these 24 economies. For the private sector to fill the remaining gap (3% of GDP), it would have to increase investments from about $63 billion today to as high as $250 billion a year over 2016-2020.

n++ Regulatory and institutional reforms are needed to make infrastructure more attractive to private investors and generate a pipeline of bankable projects for public-private partnerships (PPPs). Countries should implement PPP-related reforms such as enacting PPP laws, streamlining PPP procurement and bidding processes, introducing dispute resolution mechanisms, and establishing independent PPP government units. Deepening of capital markets is also needed to help channel the regions substantial savings into productive infrastructure investment.

n++ Multilateral development banks (MDB) have financed an estimated 2.5% of infrastructure investments in developing Asia. Excluding the PRC and India, MDB contributions rise above 10%. A growing proportion of ADB finance is now going to private sector infrastructure projects. Beyond finance, ADB is playing an important role in Asia by sharing expertise and knowledge to identify, design, and implement good projects. ADB is scaling up operations, integrating more advanced and cleaner technology into projects and streamlining procedures. ADB will also promote investment friendly policies and regulatory and institutional reforms.

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Ind-Ra: State Finances to Remain Resilient in FY18
Feb 28,2017

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) expects the aggregate fiscal deficit of Indian states to increase marginally to 3.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) in FY18 from its forecast of 3.2% for FY17. The agency has maintained its forecast for FY17. The aggregate states debt/GDP ratio may increase marginally to 24.3% in FY18 from Ind-Ras forecast of 24% for FY17.

The central government is evaluating the report of the N. K. Singh panel on Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management, which allows the fiscal deficit of the central government to be increased by 0.5% of GDP. Ind-Ra believes once the report is accepted, states would also make suitable changes in the fiscal deficit targets specified under their Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management acts.

Ind-Ra estimates the net market borrowings of states will increase to INR3.7 trillion in FY18 from its forecast of INR3.5 trillion for FY17. However, as a percentage of GDP, states net market borrowings is likely to moderate to 2.2% in FY18 from its forecast of 2.3% for FY17.

Ind-Ra expects goods and services tax to be implemented from July 2017.Ind-Ra believes the proposed compensation of INR500 billion by the central government to state governments to cover revenue losses post tax implementation will be sufficient.

Ind-Ra expects demand for petroleum products in FY18 to increase 9.5% yoy and the prices of Indian crude basket to increase to INR4,015/bbl from INR3,122/bbl in FY17 (April-January). Ind-Ra expects states with a higher proportion of revenue from petroleum products in own tax revenue to benefit from the increase in crude oil prices.

On the expenditure side, Ind-Ra expects the aggregate capital expenditure/GDP ratio of states to remain stable at 3.4% in FY18, same as in FY16 and FY17 (FY15: 2.5%). Despite a salary revision, Ind-Ra expects select committed expenditure (in the form of salary, pension and interest payments)/current expenditure ratio to remain stable in FY18.

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India and ADB sign $375 million in loans and grants for first phase of 2,500-kilometer long East Coast Economic Corridor
Feb 28,2017

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed here $375 million in loans and grants to develop 800-kilometer Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor, which is the First Phase of a planned 2,500-kilometer long East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC). The Corridor is expected to spur development on Indias eastern coast in line with the Government of Indias Make in India policy to stimulate manufacturing, and Act East policy to integrate the Indian economy with Asias dynamic global production networks.

The signing event was held on 23 February 2017 followed the ADB approval of $631 million in loans and grants in September 2016 to develop the Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor. ADBs approved loans comprise a $500 million multi-tranche facility to build key infrastructure in the four main centers along the corridor - Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Amaravati, and Yerpedu-Srikalahasti in the State of Andhra Pradesh. The First Tranche of $245 million was signed today that will finance sub-projects to develop high-quality internal infrastructure in 2 of the 4 nodes of the corridor-Visakhapatnam and Yerpedu-Srikalahasti.

Another component of the approved ADB funds signed on 23.02.2017 was a $125 million policy-based loan that will be used for capacity development of institutions engaged in corridor management, provide support to enhance ease of doing business and for supporting industrial and sector policies to stimulate industrial development.

n++ADB is supporting an industrial corridor development approach that involves creation of efficient transport, and reliable water and power supplies in the industrial clusters along with a skilled workforce, to be backed by industry-friendly policies that improve ease of doing business for integration of local economy with global production networks,n++ said L. B. Sondjaja, Deputy Country Director of ADBs India Resident Mission who signed the loan agreement on behalf of ADB. n++We estimate that by 2025, annual industrial output along the corridor will increase fourfold to $64 billion from about $16 billion in 2015 if investment opportunities are maximized over the next few years.n++

The project is an important milestone in the process of developing the corridor and realizing the objectives of Make in India. We sincerely hope that the project will complement the ongoing efforts of the Government of Andhra Pradesh to enhance industrial growth and create high-quality jobs,n++ said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), in the Ministry of Finance, who signed the loan agreement for Government of India. The project agreement was signed by Hema Munivenkatappa, Special Secretary to Government (Finance) on behalf of the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

Along with the ADB loans, agreement was also signed for a $5 million grant from the multi-donor Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund that is managed by ADB to build climate change resilient infrastructure. The Government of India will provide extra funding of $215 million to the $846 million project.

Among the outputs envisaged under the $245 million tranche 1 loan include strengthening and widening of a 29.6-kilometer section of state highway to four lanes to improve connectivity from Kakinada Port to National Highway 16, investments in smart water management in Visakhapatnam to reduce nonrevenue water and provide continuous water supply, upgrading 7 power substations to supply high-quality and reliable power supply to Visakhapatnam, Naidupeta, and Yerpedu-Srikalahasti industrial clusters, and effluent treatment facility in Atchutapuram and Naidupeta clusters.

The tranche 1 loan will have a 25-year term, including a grace period of 5 years, a 20-year straight line repayment method at an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADBs LIBOR-based lending facility.

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India signs Financing Agreement with World Bank for US$ 63 mln for Tejaswini: Socio-Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls C& Young Women Project
Feb 28,2017

A Financing Agreement for IDA credit of US$ 63 million (equivalent) for the n++Tejaswinin++ Socio-Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women Projectn++ was signed here with the World Bank on 23rd February, 2017. The Financing Agreement was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank. A Project Agreement was also signed by Mr. Mukhmeet Singh Bhatia, Principal Secretary, Department of Women, Child Development, Government of Jharkhand and Mr. Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank.

The project seeks to empower the adolescent girls with basic life skills and thereafter provide further opportunities to acquire market driven skill training or completion of secondary education, depending on the inclination of the beneficiary. The project will be delivered in 17 Districts of Jharkhand. The project has three main components, (i) Expanding social, educational and economic opportunities (ii) Intensive service delivery (iii) State capacity-building and implementation support. About 680,000 adolescent girls and young women in the project Districts are expected to benefit from the program.

The closing date for the project is 30th June, 2021.

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Ministry of UD to push dense urban growth along mass transit corridors for better living experience
Feb 28,2017

To effectively address the emerging urbanization challenges, the Ministry of Urban Development has come out with a multi-pronged policy framework to promote living close to mass urban transit corridors. This new initiatives seeks to promote Transit Oriented Development (TOD) which enables people to live within walking or cycling distance from transit corridors like the Metros, Monorail and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, currently being taken up on a large scale.

The Ministry has formulated a National Transit Oriented Development Policy which will be discussed with the States and Union Territories at a National Workshop on Urban Development to be held next week. This policy seeks to enhance the depth of understanding of States and UTs on TOD as a viable solution to many of the challenges like haphazard urban growth and sprawl, mobility, rapidly rising private vehicles on roads, pollution, housing choices etc.. This new urban design and planning in the form of TOD, is being incentivesed by the Ministry under two more initiatives viz., Metro Policy and Green Urban Mobility Scheme which also will be discussed with States and UTS for taking them on board.

Under TOD, city densification will be promoted along mass transit corridors through vertical construction by substantially enhancing FARs (Floor Area Ratio) backed by promotion of Non-motorised Transport Infrastructure for walking and cycling to transport stations, development of street networks in the influence zone of transit corridors, multi-modal integration, effective first and last mile connectivity through feeder services to enable people access public transit in 5 to 10 minutes from home and work places.

Dense living along transit corridors besides resulting in enhanced living and travel experience, will also improve ridership of mass transit systems. If properly executed, TOD could emerge as a means of financing mass transit project, for which the demand is growing.

TOD promotes integration of land use planning with transportation and infrastructure development to avoid long distance travel in cities through compact development as against the present pattern of unplanned and haphazard urban growth.

Under the new Metro Policy, TOD has been mandatory while under Green Urban Mobility Scheme, TOD has been made an essential reform and is given priority for receiving central assistance.

The Ministrys initiative comes in the context of over 300 km of Metro lines being operational in seven cities, another 600 kms of metro line projects under construction in 12 cities and over 500 km projects under consideration. The Ministry has supported BRTS projects in 12 cities which are under different stages of progress and eight more cities are set to take up BRT projects. Mass Rail Transit System of 380 km length is being taken up in Delhi.

Transit Oriented Development will be financed by channelizing a part of increases in property values resulting from investments in transit corridors through Betterment Levies and Value Capture Financing tools. Increased private sector participation will result in economic development and employment generation.

TOD Policy also aims at inclusive development by ensuring mixed neighbourhood development in the form of a range of housing choices including affordable housing and ensuring spaces for street vendors.

States and UTs will be required to incorporate TOD in the Master Plans and Development Plans of cities besides identifying Influence Zones from transit corridors for tapping revenue streams.

TOD is being taken up Ahmedabad, Delhi(kakardooma), Naya Raipur, Nagpur and Navi Mumbai and the Ministry would like this to be expanded to other cities as well.

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Strong growth has raised Indias incomes and reduced poverty, but challenges remain: OECD
Feb 28,2017

The Indian economy is expanding at a fast pace, boosting living standards and reducing poverty nationwide. Further reforms are now necessary to maintain strong growth and ensure that all Indians benefit from it, according to a new report from the OECD.

The latest OECD Economic Survey of India finds that the acceleration of structural reforms and the move toward a rule-based macroeconomic policy framework are sustaining the countrys longstanding rapid economic expansion.

The Survey, presented in New Delhi by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurrn++a and Indias Secretary Economic Affairs Shaktikanta Das, hails Indias recent growth rates of more than 7% annually as the strongest among G20 countries. It identifies priority areas for future action, including continuing plans to maintain macroeconomic stability and further reduce poverty, additional comprehensive tax reforms and new efforts to boost productivity and reduce disparities between Indias various regions.

India provides a welcome counter-point to a global economy that has been under-performing for years, Angel Gurrn++a said. Reforms are historic and are bearing fruit, growth is strong and other macroeconomic indicators are improving. Maintaining the reform momentum will be critical to boosting investment and creating the quality jobs needed to ensure strong and inclusive growth for future generations, with all segments of society benefitting from it.

The implementation of the landmark GST reform will contribute to making India a more integrated market. By reducing tax cascading, it will boost competitiveness, investment and job creation. The GST reform - designed to be initially revenue-neutral - should be complemented by a reform of income and property taxes, the Survey said.

The Survey points out the need to make income and property taxes more growth-friendly and redistributive. A comprehensive tax reform could help raise revenue to finance much-needed social and physical infrastructure, promote corporate investment, enable more effective redistribution and strengthen the ability of states and municipalities to better respond to local needs, according to the Survey.

The OECD points out that achieving strong and balanced regional development will also be key to promoting inclusive growth. Inequality in income and in access to core public services between states and between rural and urban areas is currently large across India, while rural poverty is pervasive. Continuing efforts to improve universal access to core public services is essential.

Recent changes in Indias federalism model have given states more freedom and incentives to modernise regulations and tailor public policies to local circumstances. Ranking states on the ease of doing business is opening a new era of structural reforms at the state level and will help unleash Indias growth potential. Further benchmarking among states and strengthening the sharing of best practices, particularly on labour regulations and land laws, could add to the reform momentum.

Raising living standards in poorer states will require increasing productivity in the agricultural sector. With employment expected to gradually shift away from the agricultural sector, urbanisation will gather pace. Thus, better urban infrastructure will be needed to fully exploit cities potential for job creation, productivity gains and improving the quality of life.

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ASSOCHAM concerned over lukewarm response to year-old proposal for keeping shops open all 7 days
Feb 28,2017

Expressing concern over a lukewarm response on allowing small and medium scale shop-keepers to remain open for all seven days, the ASSOCHAM has impressed upon the Centre to ask the states to realise benefits of model Shops and Establishments Bill and adopt the same , for promoting retail trade which is the largest sector employer in the country.

Only Rajasthan has so far initiated an exercise for bringing in legislative provisions in sync with the model Bill proposed by the Centre over a year ago, in the Finance Minister`s Budget speech of 2016-17. The state has begun work on bringing amendments in the Rajasthan Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1958 to permit the small traders to keep their shops and retail outlets open throughout the week.

n++As per the Outcome Budget of 2016-17, while the Labour and Employment Minister and other senior officers in the Union ministry have written to the states for adoption of the model bill, the states too need to realise importance of the measure which can immediately bring good results and add to employment and consumer demandn++, ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

He said, it was rightly stressed by the Centre that if the large shopping malls can remain open all seven days of the week, why not the small and medium shops?.

Needless to say the interests of the workers employed in the shops and small outlets should be protected and they should not be made to work in double shifts without additional benefits. Besides, safety and security of the staff working late hours, particularly for women should be ensured.

n++The states need to work closely with Centre and create an eco system for making our urban landscape more safe and vibrant. The security of citizens should remain the key area of priority. Thus, the blueprint must be made in a perfect coordination of all the civic agencies like those in-charge of street lights, city transport including metro rail and the citizens societiesn++ the chamber said.

But, surely the measure would boost the traditional bazaars helping them modernize in their systems of stocking and sale. Moreover, getting them into the formal sector, would be a great booster to the economy. Besides, the sector provides a low hanging fruit for employment creation.

n++Cities with large population and those attracting domestic and foreign tourists could benefit a lot if the markets become more productive the chamber added.

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Doubling of SIDBI Fund of Funds Operations Focusing MSME and Startups
Feb 28,2017

In its 7th meeting on the February 11, 2017 VCIC examined requests from 11 fund managers and cleared for sanction requests from 9 Funds aggregating Rs. 300 crores. It is evident that there is a significant upsurge in the fund of funds operations if seen from the number of funds supported by SIDBI during the current FY. During FY 15 and 16 sanctions were made to 11 funds (Rs. 314 crores) and 16 funds (Rs. 607 crores) respectively while the number during the current FY has already crossed Rs. 1112 crores to 30 funds.

It may be recalled that the government had announced establishment of Rs. 10,000 crore fund of funds to support AIFs who invest in Startups. This money will be released spread over two finance commission cycles (14th and 15th viz. till 2025) based on progress under the Scheme. An amount of Rs. 500 crore has been released so far to SIDBI which is managing the programme. It may added that SIDBI is also operating various other fund of fund programmes invsting in MSMEs and Startups viz. India Aspiration Fund [IAF] launched formally by Honble Finance Minister in August 2015, ASPIRE Fund focused on agri and rural enterprises launched by Honble Minister for MSME last year and Rs. 200 crore on behalf of LIC. SIDBI as manager of these Funds has constituted with the consent of the Government, a Venture Capital Investment Committee [VCIC] which includes external experts viz. Mohandas Pai, Sanjeev Bikchandani, Saurabh Srivastava, H.K.Mittal, Prof. Vaidyanathan, Kiran Karnik.

Out of the those cleared earlier by VCIC, SIDBI has so far accorded formal sanction, for an aggregate contribution of Rs. 1619.25 crores after undertaking detailed appraisal and due diligence (including Rs. 1580 crore under IAF/FFS and Rs. 39.50 crores under ASPIRE). Operations under IAF and FFS are complimentary as both target startups and the exact coverage depends on the status of compliance to the guidelines under these funds at the time of signing of the contribution agreements. FFS initially focussed on motivating AIFs to float schemes which will invest in startups alone. With difficulties expressed by the industry in this regard, the government is re-examining the issue. With the modification proposed, coverage under FFS is expected to stand at around Rs. 600 crore in respect of 15 AIFs by March 31, 2016.

These programmes are serving the objectives with which these funds were formed. For example under IAF based on the drawals of Rs. 177 crores made, the investments by the supported funds are reported to be in 124 MSMEs/Startups for an aggregate support of Rs. 452 crores. Thanks to the rise in AIFs supported under the above programmes, there is significant investment happening in startups as well, with current year expected to close with around 150 startups receiving Rs. 588 crore. This is expected to grow fast in the next year as investments by AIFs supported pickup. The investment in startups by the 15 funds as aforesaid is likely to investment approximately Rs. 187 crores in startups by March end.

The story of IAF and FFS is in line with the industry trend. AIFs have a long investment / divestment cycle of 7-10 years with investments beginning a good 6-9 months (or longer) after an AIF gets its approval from SIDBI and scales gradually thereafter. It is expected that the investment in startups by the Funds supported under FFS may cross Rs. 1200 crores over next twelve months as they raise the balance contribution from other investors and pick up the pace of investing.

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Three Forest Research Institutes Develop High-Yielding Varieties of Plant Species
Feb 28,2017

Three institutes of Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun, have developed 20 high-yielding varieties of plant species. The Variety Releasing Committee (VRC) of ICFRE, granted approval for the release of these varieties of plant species.

Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, has worked, for more than a decade, on ten improved varieties of Melia dubia and three clones of Eucalyptus tereticornis, the timber of which is in high demand in the industry. The released cultivars of Melia, popularly known as Dreake, or Malabar Neem, not only have a high productivity per unit area, with an average of 34.57 cubic metre per hectare per annum, but also have an excellent bole form, which is a desirable characteristic for plywood industry. Similarly, the average productivity of the released varieties of Eucalyptus has been recorded as 19.44 cubic meter per hectare per annum, against the present productivity level of 5-7 cubic meter per hectare per annum. These clones have also been found to be resistant to pink disease and wall gasp. Research at Institute of Forest Genetic and Tree Breeding, Coimbatore, has resulted in the development of five inter-specific hybrids of Casuarina equisetifolia X Casuarina junghuhniana for use as timber. Similarly, Tropical Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur, developed two varieties of medicinal plant Rauvolfia serpentina.

The developed varieties have to go through stringent long field trials and testing before release.

Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun established as an autonomous organisation under Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, carries out the holistic research on forestry species. The nine Institutes under ICFRE are actively engaged in improvement of plantation tree species to improve yield, quality and productivity to meet the demand for domestic consumption by industries.

In its earlier efforts, ICFRE released 27 high-yielding clones in 2010, 2011 and 2014 of Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus Hybrid, Casuarina equisetifolia, Casuarina junghuhniana and Dalbergia sissoo and are in commercial production now. Of these, 27 varieties have been released in the past. Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding, Coimbatore, developed 25 varieties and remaining two varieties of Dalbergia sissoo and Eucalyptus Hybrid were developed by Forest Research Institute, Dehradun.

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For India, Strong Growth Persists Despite New Challenges
Feb 24,2017

Indias overall outlook remains positive, although growth will slow temporarily as a result of disruptions to consumption and business activity from the recent withdrawal of high-denomination banknotes from circulation.

But the nations expansion will pick up again as economic reforms kick in, said the IMF in its latest assessment. Growth is expected at 6.6 percent in this fiscal year and at 7.2 percent in the following year.

IMF mission chief for India Paul Cashin said, The Indian economy is growing strongly and remains a bright spot in the global landscape. The halving of global oil prices that began in late 2014 boosted economic activity in India, further improved the external current account and fiscal positions, and helped lower inflation. In addition, continued fiscal consolidation, by reducing government deficits and debt accumulation, and an anti-inflationary monetary policy stance have helped cement macroeconomic stability.

The government has made significant progress on important economic reforms, which will support strong and sustainable growth going forward. In particular, the upcoming implementation of the goods and services tax, which has been in the making for over a decade, will help raise Indias medium-term growth to above 8 percent, as it will enhance the efficiency of production and movement of goods and services across Indian states.

Challenges remain, however, and there is little scope for complacency. A key concern for us is the health of the banking system, which is still dealing with a large amount of bad loans, and also heightened corporate vulnerabilities in several key sectors of the economy.

And, over the past few months, the economy has been hit by cash shortages, and accordingly we reduced our growth forecasts to 6.6 percent for fiscal year 2016/17 and to 7.2 percent in 2017/18.

Paul further said,The initiative affected notes with a total value of about 15 trillion rupees, which amounted to 86 percent of all cash in circulation. Because payment transactions in India are primarily cash-based and electronic payments infrastructure is limited, the shortage of cash has disrupted economic activity, with smaller businesses and rural regions being particularly badly affected.

Fortunately, these effects are expected to gradually dissipate by March 2017 as cash shortages ease. It also appears that measures taken to alleviate payment disruptions, such as temporarily allowing use of old banknotes for purchases of fuel and agricultural inputs, have helped mitigate the negative impact. So we expect the slowdown to be limited and relatively short-lived and the financial system to come through unscathed. Of course, potential loan repayment risks should be monitored carefully, particularly given an already elevated level of non-performing loans.

The demonetization initiative presents an opportunity to increase the size of the formal economy and broaden financial intermediation in the longer term. It can also support a widening of the tax base, help reduce the fiscal deficit, enhance bank liquidity, and give a fillip to the governments efforts to promote greater financial inclusion.

Sound economic policymaking underpinned by strong institutions is critical for sustainable growth. A recent example of a positive change in India is the implementation of flexible inflation targeting and creation of the Monetary Policy Committee, which have strengthened the credibility of monetary policy and helped maintain price stability in an increasingly complex economy.

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NDMA prepares States to deal with Heat Wave 2017
Feb 24,2017

The two-day national workshop on Preparation of Heat Wave Action Plan in Hyderabad ended on a high note today with all stakeholders resolving to work towards mitigating the adverse impact of the imminent heat wave this year. The workshop was organised by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with the Government of Telangana.

Addressing the workshop, Shri R.K. Jain, Member, NDMA said the focus of all our efforts should be on reducing the number of deaths. We should work towards translating available data and research into specific actions to reduce the impact of heat waves, he added.

At the technical session on Effective Governance Tools for Increased Resilience to Heat Wave, the need to bring about some fundamental changes in our built environment to augment heat wave preparedness was underlined.

The session on Monitoring, Review and Updation of Heat Action Plan was chaired by Shri Kamal Kishore, Member, NDMA. The session discussed the importance of coordination amongst all agencies and regular monitoring of the heat wave situation. It highlighted the significance of reviewing and updating Heat Action Plans to suit the changes in an environment.

Discussing the need for spreading awareness on heat wave, its ill effects, symptoms and simple mitigation measures, Shri Jain emphasised on the need to extensively use IEC (Information, Education and Communication) campaigns to reach out to the masses, especially to weaker sections of society as they form the most vulnerable segment of population. He reiterated that efforts towards heat wave preparedness would mean something only if our collaborative efforts are able to save lives.

Dr. D.N. Sharma, Member, NDMA, underlined the need to fine-tune Heat Action Plans right up to the village level so that traditional knowledge and indigenous practices are integrated in their plans to enhance the efficacy of their mitigation measures.

Heat waves often lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, stress and even a fatal heat stroke. With advance planning and preparedness, heat wave induced deaths and illnesses can be brought down. In 2016, with NDMAs Guidelines for Preparation of Action Plan - Prevention and Management of Heat-Wave and the pro-active approach of some of the most vulnerable States, the number of deaths in the country came down significantly.

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BEL Issue got over-subscribed by 367 % in Retail Category and 234% in Non-retail Category
Feb 23,2017

The Government of India proposed to disinvest 5% of paid-up equity capital-out of its shareholding of 74.41% in BEL through Offer for Sale (OFS) mechanism. BEL is a Navratna Company under the administrative control of Ministry of Defence and is engaged in manufacturing of the state of the art equipments in the field such as communication, radars, naval systems etc.

The floor price was fixed at Rs 1,498 per shares for the OFS Issue. Issue was opened at the BSE and NSE Stock Exchanges for two days i.e. on 22nd February, 2017 for Institutional Investors and 23rd February, 2017 for Retail Investors.

On 22nd February, 2017, the Issue opened for non-retail investors against the offer size of 89.34 lakh shares. The OFS got an enthusiastic participation from the non-retail investors, which included domestic institutional investors, foreign institutional investors and the Issue was over-subscribed 234% as per data given below (at cut-off price of Rs 1499):-

Client CategoryQuantityValue (in crore)Percentage to Qty. on Offer


Insurance*n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++n++ 1,08,63,6131,628.10122%Banks18,22,275273.1020%Mutual Funds34,14,773513.4938%FII32,80,622492.4337%Others (Clients)15,18,905174.0717%Total2,09,00,1883,081.18234%



(In crore)

%Private147.8810.86PublicLIC1435111GIC11.23New India Insurance16.98Agriculture Insurance9.50

Today, i.e. 23rd February, 2017, the Issue was opened for retail investors for 20% of the overall offer size, i.e. 22.34 lakh shares with a discount of 5% on the cut-off price. There has been overwhelming response from the retail investors as well, with the Issue being subscribed 367% in the Retail category.

Likely Clearing Price of Retail Investor will be at more than Rs 1565. On this price retail investors shall be entitled to discount of 5% on the cut off price (Rs 1499 which is more than the Institutional Floor Price).

This is one of the highest instances of interest and participation shown by the investors including domestic institutional investors, foreign institutional investors and retail investors in any Issue. The Issue has been over-subscribed by 260%.

The likely receipt to the Government of India from BEL OFS is Rs. 1670 crore (approx.).

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The Government simplifies maintenance of registers under various Labour Laws
Feb 23,2017

The Government has simplified the maintenance of Labour registers of about 5.85 crore establishments in agriculture and non- agriculture sectors. These registers are related to details of employees, their salaries, loans/recoveries, attendance etc. This exercise will drastically reduce the number of registers being maintained by these establishments from 56 to only 5 by doing away with overlapping/redundant fields. This will help these establishments to save cost and efforts and ensure better compliance of Labour Laws.

Under various Central Labour Acts, there is a requirement of maintenance of registers depending upon the threshold of the number of employees by the establishments in agriculture and non-agriculture sectors. As per the Sixth Economic Census of Central Statistical Office conducted during 2013-2014, India has about 5.85 Crore establishments in agricultural and non-agricultural sectors combined. Out of this, 4.54 Crore establishments are in non-agricultural sector. While reviewing the requirement of filing various returns / registers/forms provided under 9 Central Acts, there were several overlapping/ redundant fields that could be rationalized.

An intention notification was issued on 4th November, 2016 for reducing the number of registers/data fields and the same was widely circulated to concerned Ministries / Departments, State Govts., other stakeholders besides placing the same in public domain. In effect, all previous registers envisaged under various Acts / Rules have been omitted and replaced with only 5 common Registers. Such an exercise has reduced number of data fields in 5 registers to only 144 from the then existing 933 fields in 56 registers.

Ministry of Labour & Employment has also simultaneously undertaken to develop a software for these 5 common Registers. After development of the software, the same will be put on the Shram Suvidha Portal of the Ministry of Labour and Employment for free download with an aim to facilitate maintenance of those registers in a digitized form.

The Labour Laws under which these registers are maintained include:

(i) The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996

(ii) The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970

(iii) The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

(iv) The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979

(v) The Mines Act, 1952

(vi) The Minimum Wages Act, 1948

(vii) The Payment of Wages Act, 1936

(viii) The Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976

(ix) The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1955

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CBEC launches a Mobile Application for GST to inform the taxpayers of the latest updates on GST among others
Feb 23,2017

In step with the Governments Digital India initiative, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has launched a mobile application for Goods and Services Tax.

Taxpayers can readily access a host of GST information such as:

n++ Migration to GST-Approach and guidelines for migration

n++ Draft Law-Model GST Law, IGST Law and GST Compensation Law

n++ Draft Rules-Rules related to Registration, Returns, Payment, Refund and Invoice

n++ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on GST

n++ Various resources on GST such a videos, articles etc.

n++ Related Website Links

n++ Helpdesk/Email Contact

The Mobile Application enables taxpayers to be well informed of the latest updates on GST. Taxpayers can also provide feedback and contact CBECs 24x7 helpdesk n++CBEC Mitran++ through a toll-free number or email, at the touch of a button.

The mobile application can be downloaded free of cost on Android platforms. The iOS version will be made available shortly.

With its elegant and easy-to-use interface, the GST Mobile Application is a yet another initiative by CBEC towards improving ease of doing business and providing outstanding taxpayer services.

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6 km long Bet Dwarka Darshan Circuit in Gujarat to be developed at a cost of Rs.16.27 cr under HRIDAY
Feb 23,2017

Ministry of Urban Development today approved development of 6 km long Bet Dwarka Darshan Circuit in Gujarat at a cost of Rs.16.27 cr under the Central Scheme Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY).

HRIDAY National Empowered Committee chaired by Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary (UD) has approved the circuit connecting the famous Dwarkadish Haveli and Hanuman Dandi, the only temple housing Hanumanji and his son Makardhwaj, in Dwarka district of Gujarat. There are two important water bodies along the circuit viz., Ranchod Talav and Shankhudhar Lake.

Darshan Circuit works to be taken up include development of streets and pedestrian pathways, laying of cycle tracks along beach side, plantation, provision of benches, resting spaces, changing rooms, drinking water and toilet facilities, craft and food bazar, signages, LED lighting, plazas for vending spaces etc.

Under HRIDAY launched on January 21, 2015, heritage related infrastructure development is being taken up in 12 identified cities including Dwarka-Bet Dwarka at a total cost of Rs.500 cr. so far, projects with an investment of Rs.420 cr have been approved for all 12 mission cities.

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