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CCI Penalty on Cement Players Credit Neutral
Sep 02,2016

The Competition Commission of Indias (CCI) penalty of INR67bn on 11 cement companies amounts to 20%-75% of the players FY16 operating profits, however the move is credit neutral on these players due to their low leverage levels, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Most of the companies (eight out of 11) maintain a low leverage and thus will be in a position to absorb the burden, in the event the penalty has to be paid. The penalty however will put pressure on the credit metrics for companies with relatively high levels of leverage.

The CCI in its order dated 31st August 2016, imposed a penalty of INR67bn on 11 cement companies. The companies named may consider approaching the Competition Appellate Tribunal against the order. The order pertains to the potential price collusion during the period May 2009 to March 2011. Maintaining high prices in the face of declining capacity utilisation has over the past few years allowed cement companies to contain decline in profits. In the event the penalty is to be paid, Ind-Ra believes it will not affect the credit rating Ind-Ra rated Ultratech Cement (UCL, IND AAA/Stable).

As per the CCI order, among the large cement companiesn++ACC Ltd (INR11.5bn), Ambuja Cements Ltd (INR11.6bn), UCL (INR11.8bn) and Jaiprakash Associates (JAL,INR13.2bn) contribute to bulk of the penalties. The amount of penalty to be paid by the companies is substantial in comparison to their EBITDA. In addition UCL has entered into an agreement with Jaiprakash Associates to acquire its cement assets (capacity of 21.2mt including 4.1mtpa grinding capacity under construction) for a consideration of INR162bn The amount of penalty for the companies named in the order as a percent of their EBITDA in FY16 works out in the range of 20%-75%. The amount of penalty as a percent of EBITDA for UCL is 24%. Ind-Ra notes that the penalty will be rating neutral for UCL, given their low leverage of 1.2x (total adjusted debt net of cash/EBITDA). UCL has cash and cash equivalents of INR42.9bn at the end of FY16. Of the remaining 10 companies most of them have low leverage (with the exception of three companies) and Ind-Ra believes that the penalty will not impact their credit profile.

The cement industry in India is unique, with around 60% of the industrys total capacity being controlled with the top eight players. The rest of the industry is highly fragmented, with small- to medium-sized companies, mostly with uneconomical size of operations. To the extent regulatory intervention limits coordinated supplier actions with respect to price and quantity, smaller firms (single or multiple plants with high geographic concentration) with uneconomic cost structures will become uncompetitive and face significant deterioration in their credit profiles. As such, the level of fragmentation in the industry is expected to reduce and larger and vertically integrated companies are likely to gain market share. Globally, most markets have witnessed significant consolidation and this move by CCI may in turn help the Indian cement industry in correcting the structural imbalances present.

Ind-Ra maintains a stable outlook for cement manufacturers for FY17 and expects the cement industry to grow in the range of 4%-6% during FY17. Ind-Ra expects capex in the sector to be muted which will lead to higher utilisation rates in the short term. The sector also currently faces headwinds on cost inflation - pet coke prices have moved up to USD75/ton from USD48/ton in March 2016. A favourable monsoon after two consecutive bad years, can give a leg up to rural demand, and governments initiatives (such as Housing for All and the thrust on infrastructure activities) are expected to improve overall cement demand with a lag and show signs after FY17.

CCI imposed a penalty of 0.5x of net profit of cement companies for 2009-10 (from May 20, 2009) and 2010-11 in case of 11 cement companies amounting to INR67 bn and INR7.3m on Cement Manufacturers Association.

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Fitch: India Discom Reforms - Promising Start, But Efficiency Gains Key
Sep 02,2016

Fitch Ratings says that the voluntary rehabilitation scheme of Indias central government - Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) - for financial and operational turnaround of distressed state distribution utilities (discoms) has already seen a large number of important states signing up for the programme. However, the immediate relief provided by interest-expense reduction, while beneficial to the cash flow positions of the discoms, is inadequate to turn these entities profitable; achieving this goal by March 2019 (FY19) as per the plan is highly predicated on the ambitious efficiency improvements, coupled with tariff increases that are politically sensitive in India.

UDAY, launched in November 2015, is more comprehensive than previous packages which had focused primarily on debt restructuring. The merits of UDAY are its four-pronged carrot and stick-based strategy that targets not only a reduction in interest burden, but also operational efficiency improvement, reduced cost of power purchased, and financial discipline. There are also financial implications for states signing up for UDAY that do not meet the agreed targets under the programme.

Twenty Indian states and one union territory (UT) have given in-principle approval for UDAY; 16 have already signed up for the scheme. Participation by a number of states which are not ruled by the key ruling political party at the centre - the Bharatiya Janata Party - reflects the various merits and wider acceptance of the package. The committed states and UT accounted for almost 77% of the total FY14 net cash losses reported by discoms, and around 58% of the total debt outstanding at end-September 2015. These states house about 56% of Indias total installed capacity. Tamil Nadu stands out among those which have not opted for UDAY, and accounted for 25% of FY14 net cash losses of all discoms.

The debt-restructuring slated within the scheme will provide some immediate breathing space, following the transfer of 75% of outstanding debt to the states and capping the interest cost on the balance. However, discoms in as many as 12 of the 16 committed states/UTs reported cash losses in FY14. Most of these (based on FY14 numbers) would continue with cash losses even after accounting for the immediate interest savings, highlighting the need for higher efficiencies and cost-reflective tariffs for a sustainable improvement of discoms financial health.

The aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) loss in the Indian power sector is very high - ranging from 11% to 71%, with many of the states in excess of 20%. UDAY aims to get the discoms to cut these losses significantly (more than 50% in many cases) through FY19, which is a significant challenge; the savings benefits from lower AT&C losses alone account for around half of the total savings on average for the states that have committed. For the majority of states, tariff increases are required to reach break-even status even after the other savings to which they are committed.

A meaningful improvement in discoms economics will especially benefit power generation companies via higher utilisations and timely clearance of dues. The current low capacity utilisation of power plants is driven primarily by stressed discoms, which are unable to buy electricity because of weak financial positions. We believe financially stronger discoms will support Indias strong drive for renewables and financings of those projects, along with other power sector investments in the country.

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CII urges industry members to sign the Model Code of Conduct for Ethical Business Practices
Sep 02,2016

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) made a strong appeal to industry members to sign the Model Code of Conduct for Ethical Business Practices.

n++The Code contains the basic principles of doing business ethically. CII strongly believes ethical business practices is a journey in which voluntary adoption of this simplified code is an initial step,n++ said Mr Moloy Banerjee, Chairman, CII ER Governance Task Force, at the Seminar on Corporate Governance, Business Ethics & Competition Law: Emerging Trends, in Kolkata on 26 August.

n++Its a matter of choice - either we regulate ourselves, or we get regulated, Mr Banerjee said. n++Intent, strong leadership and self-motivation are critical to building an ethical and profitable corporation,n++ added the CII ER Governance Task Force Chairman.

Mr Banerjee, who is also the Managing Director of Linde India, cited a CII analysis to explain the business rationale, saying the companies which have demonstrated compliance as a core principle have seen their revenues go up by 17%, profits 14%, customer satisfaction 18%, higher customer retention 17%. And crucially, there is 50% less spend on compliance, he said. n++The Competition Act 2002 (as amended) follows the philosophy of modern competition laws and aims to foster competition and protect Indian markets against anti-competitive practices,n++ Mr Banerjee said.

Ms Jyoti Jindgar, Adviser, Competition Commission of India, Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs, explained why and how non-compliance of completion law may pose serious risks to businesses, boards of directors and those held guilty. Heavy penalties, high costs of litigation, damages payable to aggrieved parties are some of the prices an enterprise will end up paying by not complying, she said.

Sharing the Government perspectives, Ms Jindgar said a robust compliant environment will not only make enterprises a lot more efficient and competitive, but also will safeguard from the risk of contraventions. n++Consumers also stand to benefit in the process,n++ Ms Jindgar said.

Mr Bibekananda Mohanty, Registrar of Companies (Kolkata), Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs, stressed the need for self-regulation saying the Government brings in law after law, but India in its pursuit to become a global leader needs n++heroes and examplesn++ in the management of corporate bodies. In this era of globalization, corporates must follow best international practices to earn trust from stakeholders, which will in turn go a long way in boosting image and business, he said.

Mr Sandip Kumar Kejriwal, Chairman, EIRC, Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI), said corporate governance is a tool to control the affairs of a company. n++The better the transparency of a company, the greater the faith it enjoys from its stakeholders,n++ he said.

According to Mr Rajesh Poddar, Co-Chairman, CII ER Governance Task Force & Deputy Company Secretary, ITC Ltd, corporate governance is all about ensuring that a firm runs on sound lines through adoption of fair and ethical practices, besides assuring investors of good returns.

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Revival Package For Construction Sector Will Address Liquidity Crisis And Issues Of NPAs: CII
Sep 02,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)s announcement of a revival package for the ailing construction sector has come at an opportune time as it seeks to distress the liquidity woes of construction companies and the infrastructure sector, said the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). n++Indian industry welcomes this positive and timely initiative taken by the government as this would unclog stressed assets and revive projects that have been stuck over years in litigation and courts,n++ said Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII.

Mr Banerjee added, n++The revival package for the construction sector by the government will translate into a huge liquidity boost for the system and would save many construction companies from being declared NPAs.n++ The package will also allow recovery of loans by banks and facilitate construction companies to speed up execution of ongoing projects. Further, it will increase the ability of construction companies to bid for new contracts and the resulting competition will be beneficial in containing the costs of public works, he said.

CII had engaged with key stakeholders across the government to make a case for this crucial sector, often described as the bottom end of the infrastructure chain, and is happy to see most of its recommendations reflected in the revival package

One of the major decisions by the CCEA includes a direction to PSUs to pay 75% of award amount to contractors against a margin fee in cases where the PSU has lost the Arbitration case and goes in for appeal in Courts. This amount will infuse liquidity and will be used by the contractors to repay bank loans or to meet commitments in ongoing projects.

Government Departments and PSUs have also been instructed to transfer cases under arbitration to the amended Arbitration Act which has an expedited procedure, with the consent of contractors. This will help disputes to be settled expeditiously, with minimum cost and time overruns and unlock stuck money to go back into circulation in the economy. It would be worth mentioning here that an estimated amount of around INR 70,000 crores is expected to be unlocked due to this measure.

Commenting on the decision Mr Atul Punj, chairman of CII National Committee on Construction and chairman of PunjLoyd, said that the broad spectrum measures announced by the government will help the construction sector that has the potential to generate jobs and boost investments in infrastructure projects, an imperative to revive economic growth.

In the long run, other measures are also under consideration, including changes to bid documents and model EPC contracts. Cabinet has also directed PSUs/ Government departments issuing public contracts to set up Conciliation Committees comprising of independent subject experts to ensure speedy disposal of pending or new cases. The Department of Financial Services, in consultation with RBI, will examine and evolve a suitable one-time scheme for addressing stressed bank loans in the construction sector.

Given the fact that the construction sector generates the highest level of direct and indirect jobs employing about 40 million people with a 2.7x multiplier effect on the economy and being the second largest contributing nearly 8% economic activities to the GDP, these initiatives are all set to trigger massive expansion of the infrastructure sector, industrialization, urbanization, rise in disposable incomes and success of various Government initiatives to improve Indias residential and transport infrastructure.

A few suggestions for possible additional amendments that will further streamline ease of doing business could include adoption of ICCs Uniform Rules for Demand Guarantees (URDG) which are being followed in most major countries. Also, revision of clauses in Public Contracts so that the interest of both the Client and the Contractor are taken care of, is essential for the full recovery of this crucial sector.

While the effect of the amendment may be visible after a few months, in the long run these initiatives would enable Construction Sector to attract foreign investments and help in reviving sectors crucial for rebooting Indias growth story.

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Exports to ASEAN stagnate while imports up 33%; question mark on FTA
Sep 02,2016

Indias exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have stagnated at USD 25 billion since start of the Free Trade Agreement with the 10-nation bloc from January, 2010 while imports rose by over 33 per cent to USD 40 billion, raising a big question mark over the utility of the trade-opening pact with the common market of south east Asia, according to an ASSOCHAM Paper.

Though the global slowdown also seems to have played a role in no growth in exports to the ASEAN, the same did not hold good for imports from the bloc. For the period between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the share of Indias total exports to the South East Asian region also dropped to 9.6 per cent from 10.3 per cent when the FTA came into force.

n++The impact on increased imports may be even more pronounced on conclusion of the current financial year since tariff is to be eliminated on as many more items as 800 under 1252 tariff lines. Tariff would have already been eliminated on 3,200 products under the Normal Track 1,n++ the paper highlighted.

The India-ASEAN overall FTA comprises two parts - goods and services. The agreement on goods was front-loaded, while services pact was back-loaded. The arrangement did not really help India. n++ Given that Indian tariff levels are generally higher than tariffs of ASEAN , India has relatively less to gain from this trade in goods agreement,n++ the chamber President Mr Sunil Kanoria said, pressing for effective access to market of services in ASEAN for India , an area of advantage to India.

In goods, Indias average rate in agriculture is more than 34 per cent against 13 per cent in ASEAN. Likewise, Indias average MFN tariffs for manufacturing goods are more than 10 per cent compared to 7.5 per cent for the opposite side.

The ASEAN-India Investment and Services Agreement came into force on July 1, 2015. Though a preferential deal on services trade with the region should bring significant gains to India, the services sector is protected through strict domestic regulations and various restrictive requirements.

n++Reaching a consensus on liberalizing domestic regulations for services licensing equivalence agreements are more time consuming and complex compared to tariff reduction modalitiesn++.

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Indian Postal Bank would be a game changer for the Banking & Financial system in the country: Secretary, DFS
Sep 02,2016

n++Launch of Indian Postal Bank is going to be a game changer for banking sector and the operationalisation of its 1.5 lakh branches would give a massive fillip to the Banking & Financial system in the country. Banks need to take advantage of such rapidly changing positive growth opportunities in the country and contribute further to development of nationn++ said Ms. Anjuli Chib Duggal ,Secretary, Department of Financial Services Government of India .. at the 69th AGM of Indian Bank Association ( IBA) in Mumbai.,

Speaking on the occasion she said that with so many additional Postal Bank branches on the ground and expansion of the network Bank Mitrase a significant boost would be given not only to the financial inclusion of the programmes of Government but also to the development of last mile Banking operations in the country. She said that other established Banking Institutions should take advantage of the same.

Ms Duggal said that Banks need to fore see technological changes and strengthen inter-institutional arrangement to take advantage of the growth and expansion opportunities being offered by the development of all the sectors. She exhorted the Banks to stream line the system of the recruitment of Bank Mitras and consider giving more functional autonomy to the Bank Branches in such matters.

Ms. Duggal appreciated the work done by the IBA in supporting the growth at social securities of government of India.

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Banking sector in India should focus on supporting Growth - Arun Jaitley
Sep 02,2016

n++Banks in India need to give top Priority to support the growth possibilities in the country . The sector has, no doubt. performed very well in the context of a non supportive global economic environment, but , it needs to show more progress in the coming yearn++ said Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley.

Speaking at the 69th AGM of Indian Bank Association ( IBA), Union Finance Minister said that the government was making all possible efforts to boost economic growth along with social security in an unprecedented manner through the enactments of various enabling legislations and institutional cum administrative reforms. The decision making process is being made more efficient and responsive . Shri Jaitley said that the world now looks at India a country with a hugely positive outlook .The banking sector should take it as an opportunity for not only its own growth but also make deeper impact on Indias growth story.

Shri Jaitley said that Jan Dhan Yojana , a tool of financial inclusion, is being hailed as a path breaking banking effort by not only in India but also by most credible experts at global forums and the launch of GST has demonstrated to the world ,the will of the Indian Government to continue with high impact economic reforms in the country. He said that the deeper participation of Banks is necessary to ensure that process of socio economic growth gets a bigger push in both public and private sector.

Shri Jaitley complimented IBA for in being a partner in Indias growth story since independence . The event was attended by heads of various banks and top executives of Bank of counties besides Ms. Anjuli Chib Duggal, Secretary, Department of Financial Services Government of India ..

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CIL & ICFRE Signs MoU for Environment Related Issues in Coal Mining Projects
Sep 01,2016

Coal India (CIL) and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) today signed an MoU for effectively monitoring of environment related issues in the coal mining projects. The MoU will also help in improving the rehabilitation and reclamation of the mined out areas. This arrangement would help CIL in proper compliance and monitoring of the conditions that are laid down by the MoEF&CC while according environment and forest clearances.

The MoU covers assessment and monitoring of plantation and eco restoration activities, preparation of wild life management plans, preparation of environmental impact assessment and environmental management plans, capacity building for the executives of CIL on environment and forestry issues etc.

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LIC declares special Diamond Jubilee bonus on all eligible policies
Sep 01,2016

On the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee celebration LIC of India declared a special Diamond Jubilee bonus on all eligible life insurance policies. It also launched the new LIC Diamond Bima policy on the occasion.

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Incorporation of Sagarmala Development Company
Sep 01,2016

As part of the efforts to promote port-led development in the country, the Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) has been incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013. The company will have an initial Authorized Share Capital of Rs. 1,000 Crore and a subscribed share capital of Rs. 90 Crore, the Ministry of Shipping announced today.

The main objective of the company is to identify port-led development projects under the Sagarmala Programme and provide equity support for the project Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) set up by the Ports / State / Central Ministries and funding window and /or implement only those residual projects which cannot be funded by any other means / mode.

The Cabinet in July had approved the formation of the SDC under the administrative control of the Ministry of Shipping. The company would help in structuring activities, bidding out projects for private sector participation, identifying suitable risk management measures for strategic projects across multiple states / regions and obtaining requisite approvals and clearances.

The implementation of the identified projects would be taken up by the relevant ports, state governments/Maritime Boards, central ministries, through private or PPP mode. The Company would act as the nodal agency for coordination and monitoring of all the currently identified projects under Sagarmala as well as other projects emerging from the master plans or other sources.

It would undertake the preparation of the detailed master plans for the Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) identified as part of the National Perspective Plan (NPP) and provide a framework for ensuring the integrated development of Indian maritime sector. It would also manage the funding of coastal community development projects identified under Sagarmala. This will include projects related to value addition in fisheries, aquaculture, cold chain development, skill development, livelihood generation, local tourism and recreational facilities etc. which would be beneficial to the livelihoods of the coastal communities. The projects considered would be specific time-bound local interventions, innovative in nature and not covered under other existing Central / State Government schemes.

SDC would be raising funds as debt/equity (as long term capital), as per the project requirements, by leveraging resources provided by the Government of India and from multi-lateral and bilateral funding agencies. It would also aim to increase the scope of private sector participation in project development.

The incorporation of SDC is part of the ambitious Sagarmala Programme by the Government of India which aims to harness Indias 7,500 km long coastline, 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes. The concept of the Sagarmala Programme was approved by the Cabinet in March 2015.

As part of the programme, a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for the comprehensive development of the coastline and maritime sector has been prepared. The NPP has identified more than 150 projects across the areas of Port Modernization & New Port Development, Port Connectivity Enhancement, Port-led Industrialization and Coastal Community Development.

The CIN number of the Sagarmala Development Company is U74999DL2016GOI305194.

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Demand for trained nurses will increase every year: FICCI-EY report
Sep 01,2016

The demand for trained nurses is expected to increase in the coming years, buoyed by the rising demand for tertiary and quaternary care in the country, highlights FICCI - EY report titled Nursing reforms: Paradigm shift for a bright future, released today at FICCI flagship annual healthcare conference - FICCI HEAL 2016.

India ranks 75th amongst 133 developing countries with regards to the number of nurses, with only 0.7 doctors and 1.7 nurses available per thousand people. The country needs an additional 2.4 million nurses to meet the growing demand. Despite being a major supplier of the health workforce, the health care industry in India is suffering a wide gap.

The report notes that the nursing sector in India continues to experience challenges in terms of availability, distribution and retention, with the lack of a rewarding career progression, individual welfare, and income parity being cited as key reasons, amongst others. Additionally, alternative careers with better pay-outs and less stressful work environments and opportunities to migrate overseas tend to better attract nurses. Vineet Chhatwal, Partner, EY India says, n++Nurses have a direct influence and role in determining the quality of care that is rendered to a patient. We need to make a concerted effort to ensure that this capability is recognized and rewarded in order to attract and retain qualified nursing professionals. A special emphasis has to be given to their continuous training and development for them to be able to leverage investments in initiatives such as digital health.n++

n++A crucial segment of human resources in the health sector, there needs to be a focus on improving the participation of these professionals in the policy and decision making process, and special emphasis placed on their training and development in line with evolving technologies in healthcare. This will ensure a build-up of well qualified and skilled talent pool to meet the rising demand of nurses in the country.n++

There is an urgent need for nursing transformation at the national and state levels in both the government and private sectors that can change the practice of nurses, expand current nursing roles while continuing to create new ones, and open up opportunities for nurses to participate in shaping the future health care delivery system. The report carves out 30 key suggestions to strengthen the nursing sector, which primarily deal with policy reforms, human resource development, strengthening the nursing practice, and education.

The report also highlights the need to revise the nursing curriculum - still governed by the Indian Nursing Act framed in 1947 and revised in 1948 - to make it relevant to the current health care industry requirements. Additionally, there exists a manpower skew and uneven opportunity of nursing studies across the country, with almost 52% of the nursing institutions concentrated in the south.

Nursing education needs to advance itself so that it remains competitive and relevant for the current technological environment, and rising customer centricity. This will also include opportunities for higher and specialized education, continuing nursing education and research and development, notes the report. Weblink

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Benefits under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana extended to people of all Hilly States including North-East States by treating them as Priority States
Sep 01,2016

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has decided to extend the benefits under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to the people of all Hilly States including North-East States by treating them as Priority States and release LPG connections to the eligible beneficiaries.

This step of the Ministry will effectively address the difficulty faced by poor people residing in the States of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura in accessing LPG for cooking purposes.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is being implemented with an objective to provide deposit free LPG connections to BPL households as a clean fuel solution. So far, more than 50 lakh connections have been released to the beneficiaries.

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Ministry of Railways Signs Joint Venture Agreement with the Govt. of Kerala
Sep 01,2016

In the august presence of Minister of Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu a Joint Venture Agreement was signed today i.e. 1st September, 2016 between Ministry of Railways and Government of Kerala for developing railway infrastructure in the State. Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Ashok Kumar Mital, Member Engineering, Shri Aditya Kumar Mittal and other Board Members, and other senior officials were also present on the occasion. The JV Agreement was signed by Shri S.C. Jain, Executive Director(Works) on behalf of Railways whereas it was signed by Shri K.R. Jyothilal, Secretary, Department of Transport & Revenue (Devaswom) on behalf of Govt. of Kerala.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that the signing of JV Agreements with the State Governments is a farsighted step of Ministry of Railways by which Railways want to work hand in glove with the State Governments for the development of railway infrastructure in the State. He said that these kinds of JV Agreement is the best example of cooperative federalism for development of the nation as envisioned by our Prime Minister. Shri Suresh Prabhu pointed out that Kerala has been neglected for too long and now concerted efforts are needed to develop its railway infrstrucutre. He said that Railway Ministry has given maximum allocation to Kerala during 2014-15 to 2016-17. He further said that Railways is also working on the re-development of Kochi and Ernakulam Stations of Kerala State.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman, Railway Board said that todays JV Agreement will certainly fulfill the rail transport needs of the people of Kerala. He said that Railways want to extend railway network all over particularly in the States where demand is more and rail density is less. He said that railways has very limited resources and thus working in collaboration with the State Governments through JV Agreement can bring fruitful results for the people of the country.

Silent Feature of The Agreement

n++ Indian Railways has been playing a major role in national integration by connecting the remotest places and bringing people closer to each other. Railways receive a large number of demands for network expansion as a Railway line acts as an engine of growth for the area it serves.

n++ Railways have a large shelf of ongoing New Line, Gauge Conversion and Doubling projects needing about Rs 3.86 lakh crores to complete. We have been trying to meet the aspirations of public within limited availability of funds.

n++ To expedite the projects, Railways have been trying to mobilize resources through other than Gross Budgetary Support. Towards this mission, 10 State Governments have till now agreed to share the cost of 41 ongoing projects ranging from 25% to 67% of the project cost. Some States are providing land free of cost in addition to sharing of construction cost.

n++ In view of the growing demands for Railway Lines in various States and huge requirement of funds to execute them, Honble Minister for Railways has taken an initiative for setting up of Joint Ventures with States for focused project development, resource mobilization, land acquisition, project implementation and monitoring of critical rail projects.

n++ Setting up of JVs will go a long way in identifying requirement of states keeping in line with other plans, finding avenues for funding of projects etc. Governments of Odisha, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat have already signed JV agreement with Ministry of Railways for the same.

n++ The present railway network density in Kerala is 2.70 Km per 100 square Km which is above national average 2.01 Km per 100 square Km. However, it is an established fact that the railway network density in the country as a whole needs to be improved and the States coming forward in this regard is a welcome step.

n++ Signing of these JVs will go a long way in developing infrastructure in the State of Kerala.

n++ The average outlay to Kerala in Railway Budget was Rs.821.0 crore during 2014-15 to 2016-17 which is an increase of 121% over the average outlay of 371.9 crore during 2009-10 to 2013-14.

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Duty Inversion Impacts Domestic Manufacturing: FICCI Survey
Sep 01,2016

According to recent FICCI Survey on Inverted Duty Structure in Indian Manufacturing Sector, a number of manufacturing sub-sectors continue to face inverted customs duty structure that is eroding their competitiveness against lower-duty finished product imports and discouraging domestic value addition.

In its report, FICCI said that various products spread across six manufacturing sectors have reported duty inversion, i.e. the import duty applicable on the finished product is lower than the import duty on the raw material or intermediate product. These sectors include capital goods (like boilers, pressure vessels, etc.), cement, electronics and electricals, rubber products (including tyres), minerals and textiles.

The Report, has been submitted to the concerned authorities, including Tariff Commission and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) for necessary action, said FICCI. FICCI delegation of industry members has had several meetings with Tariff Commission and submitted detailed data required for carrying out valuation studies for different sectors.

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Swedish firms urged to cash in on early bird gains from Indias liberalised Defence Business Environment
Sep 01,2016

In a bid to deepen Indo-Swedish defence and aerospace cooperation, the Government of India has urged Swedish companies to forge large scale partnerships with Indian manufacturers and reap the early bird advantages from the amended defence procurement rules. The policy gives priority to indigenously designed, developed and manufactured defence equipment.

Mr. Sanjay Garg, Joint Secretary (DIP), Ministry of Defence, Government of India, the policy focus was not just on pure manufacturing. He said that the Government of India, on its part, in the last two years has approved 85% of the capital acquisition proposals under the new category called Buy Indian - Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) and Buy and Make (I). He said that the time was ripe for Swedish companies to find the right partner from the Indian defence manufacturing industry.

Ms. Josa Karre, Charge dAffaires, Embassy of Sweden, in her remarks, pointed out that both Sweden and India have a strong industry base and India had now become an attractive place for investors, adding that n++We have the expertise and know-how in the defence and aerospace sector to support your success.n++

Ambassador Anders Bengtcen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sweden, said that there was tremendous scope for collaboration between Swedish and Indian companies in aviation, maritime security and combat training and simulation for army personnel. n++Swedish companies are here for a long haul and this was possible because of the trust and reliability that they enjoy,n++ he added.

Mr. Jayant D Patil, Chairman, FICCI Defence & Aerospace Committee and Senior Vice President and Member of the Board, L&T Heavy Engineering & L&T Shipbuilding; Mr. Sudhakar Gande, Vice Chairman, AXISCADES Aerospace & Technologies and Chairman, FICCI Taskforce on Aerospace and Dr. A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, shared their perspectives on Indo-Swedish cooperation in defence and aerospace sectors, stating that the policy framework had been streamlined and was extremely supportive of building strong partnerships between Swedish and Indian companies.

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