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Basic Minimum Wages for Central Sphere Workers Revised
Aug 30,2016

Shri Arun Jaitely, the Union Finance Minister, the Union Minister of State(IC) for Labour and Employment Shri Bandaru Dattatreya and Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy & Mines had a joint Press conference here today on charter of demands of the Central Trade Unions.

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment (I/C) has held meetings with Central Trade Union leaders wherein detailed discussions were held in regard to their charter of demands. Thereafter, the issues were discussed by the Inter- Ministerial Committee headed by the Finance Minister. The following decisions have been taken by the Government:

1. The Bonus Amendment Act will be implemented strictly. The Central Government will pay Bonus for the years 2014-15 and 2015-16 based on revised norms. A government notification in this regard is being issued immediately.

2. The Central Government will take necessary steps to resolve the cases pending in High Courts/Supreme Court with regard to payment of Bonus.

3. It has been decided that, based on the deliberations in the meeting of the Minimum Wage Advisory Board under the Chairmanship of Minister for State for Labour and Employment (I/C) for revising the basic minimum wages for central sphere, the Government has decided to fix the minimum wages at Rs.350/- per day for unskilled non-agricultural workers for C category areas keeping in view the modalities of fixing minimum wages.

4. The registration of the contract workers and their staffing agencies is mandatory as per law and states will be advised to strictly implement the same. Erring contractors will face appropriate action for any violation in this regard.

5. The issue of giving social security benefit to the unorganised sector (eg., Anganwadi, Mid-day meal, Asha volunteers etc.) will be examined by a committee which will give its report at the earliest.

6. Advisories will be issued to all the States Governments to ensure that registration of Trade Unions takes place within 45 days.

7. The Central government has reiterated its commitment towards tripartite consultation process.

8. Sector specific meetings will be held to resolve issues relating to respective industries.

Later interacting with media Shri Bandaru Dattatreya appealed to Trade Unions to reconsider their call for strike, in national interest.

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CBDT signs 20 Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements with Indian taxpayers
Aug 30,2016

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) entered into twenty (20) Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) on 29th August, 2016 and 30th August, 2016, with Indian taxpayers. Many of these agreements also have a n++Rollbackn++ provision in them.

The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the Rollback provisions were introduced in 2014. The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the arms length price of international transactions in advance for the maximum of five future years. Further, the taxpayer has the option to rollback the APA for four preceding years. Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest among Multi National Enterprises (MNEs) and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) having been filed in just four years.

The 20 APAs signed in these two days pertain to various sectors of the economy like Information Technology, Banking & Finance, Insurance, Human Resources, Pharmaceutical, Solar Energy, Oil & Gas, Foods & Beverages, Telecommunications and NGO. The international transactions covered in these agreements include Software Development Services, IT enabled services, Investment Advisory Services, KPO services, Contract manufacture, Contract R&D services, Import of components, Support services, Export of goods, Management services, Brand Royalty, Technical services, Engineering design services, Selling & Marketing services, Network operation & maintenance services, General & Administration services, HR consultancy services, etc.

With these signings, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 98. This includes 4 bilateral APAs and 94 unilateral APAs. A total of 33 unilateral APAs and 1 bilateral APA have already been concluded in five months of the current Financial Year as against 55 in Financial Year 2015-16. The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed in the near future.

The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Governments commitment to foster a non-adversarial tax regime. The approach and functioning of the officers in the APA teams have been appreciated and acknowledged by the industry in India and abroad.

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FM: Government to now focus on increasing the banks ability to support growth
Aug 30,2016

The Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley said that Indo-US trade will get a boost due to business to business, business to Government and Government to Government interaction between the two countries. The Finance Minister said that foreign investment is important for India in order to have larger investment in infrastructure sector. Shri Jaitley said that the Government will now focus on increasing the banks ability to support growth. The Finance Minister further said that enabling Constitution Amendment Bill relating to Goods and Service Tax (GST) has been recently approved unanimously by both the Houses of Parliament. Besides it, the Bankruptcy Code has also been approved. The Finance Minister said that all these legislations along with different structural reforms made by the Government in the last two years will help in boosting the growth and the overall development of the country.

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Arun Jaitley calls for Task Force to help set up arbitral centres in BRICS nations
Aug 30,2016

Mr. Arun Jaitley, Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Government of India, today underlined the need to constitute a Task Force of experts and officials to deliberate on the challenges in international arbitration in the BRICS countries and put in place institutional mechanisms to establish arbitral centres in these nations.

Delivering the valedictory address at the conference on International Arbitration in BRICS - Challenges, Opportunities and Road Ahead, jointly organized by Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, FICCI and Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA), Mr. Jaitley reminded the delegates that in the pursuit of free trade one must not lose the sight of the fact that free trade also means fair trade, which is not detached from local commitments. To strengthen the arbitration mechanism, the Finance Minister emphasised the need to have lawyers of credibility and said it was necessary to make enforcement of awards largely free from the interference by domestic courts. This, he said, was imperative as many countries fear that the arbitral awards are loaded against the emerging countries.

Mr. Jaitley said that the challenges posed by economic slowdown continue to haunt the global economy. The emerging economies, pre-dominantly the BRICS nations, would have to shoulder the responsibility of driving global growth. Therefore, he said, the BRICS nations would have to evolve and put forth a common agenda for growth and the key is to develop local capabilities to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.

Mr. Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, stressed the need for striking an optimal balance between public good and private commercial requirements in the context of investment agreements. For dispute settlement, the first recourse should be to reach out to local courts and if the local courts fail to deliver within five years, arbitration should be resorted to. He added that there was a need for early disposal of frivolous claims.

Mr. Suresh Chandra, Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India, said that there was a need for regional cooperation on arbitration. A positive debate on setting up a common framework for arbitration among BRICS nations would help in bringing down the cost of arbitration and develop trust among investors and jurisdictions.

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Intensive Swachhata awareness drive to be launched in 5 cities of NCR Region
Aug 30,2016

Ministry of Urban Development will soon launch an Asli Tarakki (Real development) campaign in the six cities of the National Capital Region with 450 select youth with communication skills and leadership qualities as lead motivators to promote awareness about the need for sanitation. The Ministry today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nehru Yuvak Kendra in the presence of Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu and Minister of State for Urban Development Shri Rao Inderjit Singh. The MoU was signed by Shri Praveen Prakash, Joint Secretary on behalf of the Ministry and Major General Dilawar Singh, Director General of Nehru Yuvak Kendra. Shri Rajiv Gupta, Secretary (Youth Affairs) was also present on the occasion.

As per the MoU, NYK will deploy 50 enthusiastic, experienced in public speaking, motivated and educated youth for 52 days each of the five municipal areas of Delhi (NDMC, NMCD, SMCD, EMCD and Delhi Cantonment), Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Noida for a mass awareness movement for successful implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission. The youth will be selected during a two day orientation workshop and will be given further training to undertake awareness and motivational campaigns through elocution, cultural performances, nukkad nataks etc.

The 450 youth will be engaged to spread the message of Asli Tarakki suggesting that having and using toilet to be a major priority, encouraging citizens to give feedback on different components of Swachh Survekshan-2017 launched earlier this month, encourage people to take Swachh Bharat Pledge for a clean India and to inform targeted beneficiaries about the government support for building individual, community and public toilets.

Four chariots will be deployed in each of the nine municipal areas with banners and posters on sanitation , public address system for addressing people on key issues with facilities for showing audio-visual films and for distribution of IEC material. The select youth would also use social media extensively.

Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu lauded the pilot youth engagement and asked the officials and NYK to ensure its success so that the same could be replicated in other parts.

The Ministry would enable a dedicated page on Swachh Bharat Urban portal for weekly uploading of activities and furnishing information on number of citizens reached out, activities etc.

Under the Rs.4.70 cr pilot youth engagement, a total of 23,400 man days would be spent promoting Swachh Bharat Mission objectives in urban areas.

This youth engagement will be launched after completion of preparatory work like organizing workshop, selection of youth, fabrication of chariots etc.

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Fifth tranche of Sovereign Gold Bonds subscription to open on Sept, 01
Aug 30,2016

The Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has decided to issue 5th Tranche of Sovereign Gold Bonds. Applications for the bonds will be accepted from September 01, 2016 to September 09, 2016. The Bonds will be issued on September 23, 2016. The Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange.

It may be recalled that the Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley had announced in his Budget Speech while presenting the Union Budget 2015-16 in Parliament about developing a financial asset, Sovereign Gold Bond, as an alternative to purchasing the metal gold.

Accordingly, four tranches of issuances have been undertaken during 2015-16 and 2016-17 (so far). The features of the Sovereign Gold Bond are given below:

Sl. No.ItemDetails1Product name

Sovereign Gold Bond 2016-17 - Series II

2Issuance

To be issued by Reserve Bank India on behalf of the Government of India.

3Eligibility

The Bonds will be restricted for sale to resident Indian entities including individuals, HUFs, Trusts, Universities and Charitable Institutions.

4Denomination

The Bonds will be denominated in multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram.

5Tenor

The tenor of the Bond will be for a period of 8 years with exit option from 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.

6Minimum size

Minimum permissible investment will be 1 gram of gold.

7Maximum limit

The maximum amount subscribed by an entity will not be more than 500 grams per person per fiscal year (April-March). A self-declaration to this effect will be obtained.

8Joint holder

In case of joint holding, the investment limit of 500 grams will be applied to the first applicant only.

9Issue price

Price of Bond will be fixed in Indian Rupees on the basis of simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity published by the India Bullion and Jewellers Association Limited for the week (Monday to Friday) preceding the subscription period.

10Payment option

Payment for the Bonds will be through cash payment (upto a maximum of Rs. 20,000) or demand draft or cheque or electronic banking.

11Issuance form

Government of India Stock under GS Act, 2006. The investors will be issued a Holding Certificate. The Bonds are eligible for conversion into demat form.

12Redemption price

The redemption price will be in Indian Rupees based on previous weeks (Monday-Friday) simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity published by IBJA.

13Sales channel

Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices (as may be notified) and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange, either directly or through agents.

14Interest rate

The investors will be compensated at a fixed rate of 2.75 per cent per annum payable semi-annually on the initial value of investment.

15Collateral

Bonds can be used as collateral for loans. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is to be set equal to ordinary gold loan mandated by the Reserve Bank from time to time.

16KYC Documentation

Know-your-customer (KYC) norms will be the same as that for purchase of physical gold. KYC documents such as Voter ID, Aadhaar card/PAN or TAN /Passport will be required.

17Tax treatment

The interest on Gold Bonds shall be taxable as per the provision of Income Tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961). The capital gains tax arising on redemption of SGB to an individual has been exempted. The indexation benefits will be provided to long term capital gains arising to any person on transfer of bond

18Tradability

Bonds will be tradable on stock exchanges/NDS-OM from a date to be notified by the RBI within 15 days of the issue date i.e. September 23, 2016.

19SLR eligibility

The Bonds will be eligible for Statutory Liquidity Ratio purposes.

20Commission

Commission for distribution of the bond shall be paid at the rate of 1% of the total subscription received  by  the  receiving offices and receiving offices shall sh

C-DOT should work hard to end Digital Divide in India-Manoj Sinha
Aug 30,2016

Minister of Communications Shri Manoj Sinha has urged C-DOT to find new invention, new research and new technology and to give World Class products for achieving Prime Ministers vision of Transforming India through Digital Revolution. Delivering the key-note address here at the C-DOT Foundation Day, Shri Sinha said, there is need for innovation as India cannot afford to emulate the Developed Economies due to limited resources. He said, if India will lag in catching up with emerging technologies in the coming 15 to 20 years, the very existence of the country will be at stake. He exhorted the officials and other stakeholders to n++Walk the Talkn++ and underlined that it is our bounden duty to digitally empower the huge chunk of population particularly in rural areas who are still deprived of IT revolution. He added that Digital divide should end as fast as possible.

Shri Sinha congratulated C-DOT for GPON technology and expressed the hope that by March, 2017, one lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) will be connected through Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) to set up a network infrastructure to serve the rural masses. He said, all are working with zeal to achieve the target of connecting 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats with Broadband Network within stipulated timeframe, which is the vision of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Shri Sinha praised C-DOT for launching 18 products and 56 technology transfers, which he said should be taken to Century and also lauded the role of C-DOT for its stellar role in providing security solutions including cyber related.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, Telecom Shri J.S.Deepak said as India is on the verge of Data Revolution, the future of C-DOT is very bright as it is involved in making multi-terabit router, providing smart city solutions and security solutions to the Defence and Civil sectors. He urged C-DOT to partner with PSUs and dream big to make India truly a Digital India.

The Minister also launched three new Products developed by C-DOT on the occasion- WDM PON (WDAN) and Samvad App.

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India and the United States Sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)
Aug 30,2016

India and the United States have signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Of Agreement (LEMOA) in Washington DC, USA on 29 August 2016.

LEMOA is a facilitating agreement that establishes basic terms, conditions, and procedures for reciprocal provision of Logistic Support, Supplies, and Services between the armed forces of India and the United States.

Logistic Support, Supplies, and Services include food, water, billeting, transportation, petroleum, oils, lubricants, clothing, communication services, medical services, storage services, training services, spare parts and components, repair and maintenance services, calibration services, and port services.

Reciprocal logistic support would be used exclusively during authorized port visits, joint exercises, joint training, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

Logistics support for any other cooperative efforts shall only be provided on a case-by-case basis through prior mutual consent of the Parties, consistent with their respective laws, regulations and policies.

Provision of Logistic Support, Supplies, and Services from one Party to the other would be in return for either cash payment or the reciprocal provision of Logistic Support, Supplies, and Services.

The Agreement does not create any obligations on either Party to carry out any joint activity. It does not provide for the establishment of any bases or basing arrangements.

The Agreement will significantly enhance the operational capacity of the Indian Armed Forces, including in their response to humanitarian crises or disaster relief.

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DebtFx: Week of Fresh Volatility
Aug 30,2016

Signalling confidence in the US economys recovery, Fed Chair Janet Yellen left room open for a rate hike in the September 2016 policy review. On cue from this, the bond market is likely to consolidate with a bias towards hardening of yields; additionally, the rupee could face headwinds. The 10-year yield is likely to trade at 7.10%-7.18% (7.13% at close on 22 August) and the rupees trading range could stay at 66.85/USD-67.45/USD (67.06/USD at close on 22 August) this week.

Bonds Steady: The domestic bond market has been consolidating in the absence of clarity. The agency believes market participants would await clarity to assess the scope and chances of a rate action in the foreseeable future. This would only be possible by way of communication from the new Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor. Until then, the market would be in wait and watch mode and more sensitive to the US markets. The agency believes muted buying appetite would keep hardening bias for yields.

Surplus Liquidity to Neutralise: Liquidity has remained in surplus, with net core liquidity absorption by RBI staying above 0.25% of net demand and time liabilities. The agency expects the liquidity condition to remain buoyant in the next week. However, the situation is likely to taper from the following week as redemptions of foreign currency non-resident (FCNR) deposits cue up, with net core liquidity coming back to the neutral zone from the current surplus zone. The agency does not expect any open market operation purchases prior to the middle of September.

Headwinds for Rupee: The agency believes the renewed probability of a Fed rate hike will pose minor headwinds for the rupees trajectory. Additionally, FCNR deposit redemption may aggravate pressure in the near term. While the RBI asserted readiness to meet any possible mismatches, short-term volatility may not augur positively for the rupee.

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India will be one of top 5 global pharma innovation hubs by 2020 through its PPP model: study
Aug 30,2016

To push India into top five pharmaceutical innovation hubs by 2020 and establish global presence by launching 1 out of every 5-10 drugs discovered in India at global level, the government is preparing for multi-billion dollar investment with 50% public funding through its public private partnership (PPP) model to enhance innovation capability, reveals the joint study.

The Indian Government has been very active in boosting growth and investment in Indian pharmaceutical industry. It allows 100 per cent FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) under automatic route (without prior permission) in the pharmaceuticals sector. FDI favourably impacts the Indian pharma industry by providing access to more capital/funds for investing in R&D, which in turn, leads to creation of more IPR, highlighted the study titled IPR in pharmaceuticals: Balancing, innovation and access, jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and TechSci Research.

The Government has been actively undertaking policy initiatives for growth of the pharmaceutical industry. One such initiative is tax-breaks in the pharmaceutical sector. There is also a weighted tax deduction at a rate of 150% for the research and development expenditure incurred. Steps to streamline methods for development of a new drug molecule, or clinical research, etc., have also been considered. Indian Government also launched two schemes including New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative in 2003, and the Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Research Programme in 1994-95, specially targeted at pharmaceutical research, adds the study.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) data suggests that the drugs and pharmaceuticals sector in India has attracted FDI worth USD 1,523 million during April 2014-March 2015.

Additionally, industrial licenses are not essential in India for most of the pharmaceutical products. Hence, drug manufacturers are free to develop any drug upon approval by the Drug Control Authority.

The act of protecting ones innovation through a patent has initiated investments from many multinational pharmaceutical companies in India. These MNCs are looking at India for its strength in contract manufacturing and as an attractive base for research and development (R&D), particularly for conducting clinical trials and other services.

Indian and foreign pharmaceutical companies are progressing with rising patented drug launches in India. The Indian Patent Office granted 2008 patents between 2010 and 2013.

The Department of Pharmaceuticals has drafted Pharma Vision 2020 document, with an aim to establish India as a leading county for end-to-end drug manufacturing and innovation. This initiative by the government aims at providing support to Indian pharmaceutical sector through state of- the-art infrastructure, internationally competitive scientific research personnel for pharmaceutical R&D, and funding for research in the public and private sectors.

The Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), which falls under the scope of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is the main pharma regulatory body in India. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) presides over the CDSCO at both the central and state levels.

Sun Pharmaceuticals acquired Ranbaxy Laboratories in 2015, in order to achieve full compliance with regulatory framework for drug manufacturing in India, meet expectations of Indian regulatory authorities, and increase R&D for launch of innovative products, thereby generating high revenues across India.

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Shri Ananth Kumar Stresses Upon The Need For Affordable Medicines; Launches Pharma Sahi Daam Mobile App
Aug 30,2016

The Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs Shri Ananth Kumar has appealed to the industry leaders, State Governments, other departments and civil society in pooling efforts to make available medicines at affordable prices to the common man. Speaking at a function in New Delhi on the occasion of NPPA Foundation Day today, he said that in the last two and a half years, almost 900 formulations have been brought under the price control, providing a saving of about 5000 crores to the consumers. He said that National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has already come out with ceiling price of 368 new drugs within 6 months of the issue of New National List of Essential Medicines-2015.

The Minister launched a mobile App. developed by NPPA which shows the MRP fixed by NPPA for various scheduled drugs on real time basis. Sh. Ananth Kumar said that application will be called n++Pharma Sahi Daamn++. He also unveiled the logo of NPPA which will be displayed on packing of all scheduled medicines. The Minister said that amendments will be made soon to empower NPPA in gathering data and taking appropriate decisions for the drugs included in the NLEM but market data is not available. Sh. Ananth Kumar said that he is pursuing the case for making an independent Ministry for Pharmaceuticals so that all decisions regarding the industry could be taken under a single roof.

The Minister advocated a 3A approach to achieve health security for every citizen of India. He stressed that Universal Healthcare can be achieved only by ensuring the Availability, Affordability and Accessibility (3A) of medicines to the common man. Shri Ananth Kumar highlighted the need of transparent and efficient discovery of drug prices and regulation of the pharma sector.

Sh. Ananth Kumar said that the pharmaceutical industry has risen to almost US$37 billion and Indian medicines are being exported to over 200 countries. Pharmaceutical is a sunrise industry and the Government is keen to provide support to it through various means like pharmaceutical parks, medical devices parks, pharmaceutical clusters and promotion of innovation through Atal Innovation Scheme.

Under the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the Minister said that two pronged strategy is being adopted to provide cheap medicines to the common man- one is through regulating the prices by NPPA and another is opening of PM Jan Aushadhi Stores. He said that within one year, 3000 PM Jan Aushadhi Stores will be opened in the country covering all districts and tehsils. Sh. Ananth Kumar said that most of the medicines in Jan Aushadhi Stores cost 30 to 40 per cent as compared to the market cost and no medicine in Jan Aushadhi Store is more than 50 per cent of the market cost.

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NHAI awards contract for two highways development projects in the state of Jharkhand
Aug 29,2016

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued Letter of Award (LOA) for development of following national highway sections in the state of Jharkhand on EPC mode:

NH No.

Section

Length

Total Capital Cost

Contractors Name

32

2/4 laning of Govindpur (Rajgunj)-Chas-JH/WB Border under NHDP Phase-IV

57 km

Rs. 946 crore

M/s Ashoka Buildcon Ltd.

33

4 laning of Barhi-Hazaribagh section under NHDP phase-III

41 km

Rs. 700 crore

M/s Ramky Infrastructure Ltd.

Development of 57 km long Govindpur - Chas- Jharkhand/ West Bengal Border section involves 4-laning of 38 km and 2-laning with paved shoulder of 19 km of national highway.   The scheduled time of completion is two years.  The project will have 4 Railway-Over-Bridges, 1 Railway-under-bridge and 5 km long bypass for Maheshpur town.  

The project corridor passes through two important industrial districts i.e. coal mining hub of Dhanbad and steel city of Bokaro.  This is a crucial link for inter-state connectivity between Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and other parts of the country.    Development of the section would facilitate transportation of coal and steel,   thus contributing to industrial development in the country.

The 41 km long Barhi-Hazaribagh section would improve connectivity of important   cities of Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Jamshedpur to Delhi -Kolkata corridor through NH-2. The project will have construction of 5 major bridges, 3 elephant crossings, 2 vehicular underpasses and a 11 km long bypass for Hazaribagh city.  The schedule time of completion is 21 months.

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India and Myanmar sign an MoU in the field of Traditional Medicine
Aug 29,2016

The Ministry of AYUSH signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of Traditional Medicine with the Ministry of Health & Sports of Government of Myanmar in New Delhi today.

The MoU was signed by Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH, Shri Ajit Mohan Sharan and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Myanmar, Mr. U Kyaw Tin in the presence of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and President of Myanmar, His Excellency Mr. U Htin Kyaw at New Delhi.

Both countries share a heritage of religious, linguistic and ethnic ties. Myanmar has a substantial population of Indian origin. Further, Myanmar is our gateway to South East Asia and ASEAN with which India has been seeking greater economic integration through Indias Look East and Act East Policy. In recent years, the relationship of the two countries has been marked by close contacts at the highest political level including cooperation in the field of health and medicine. The MoU will enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the areas of traditional medicine.

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Promoting coastal shipping in India under Sagarmala: Ministry enlarges the scope of Central Sector Scheme
Aug 29,2016

The Ministry of Shipping has formulated a revised Central Sector Scheme to provide financial support to Major/ Non-Major Ports/ State Governments for creation of infrastructure for movement of cargo/ passenger by sea or National Waterways. This is in line with the Ministrys port-led- development programme-Sagarmala for creating better infrastructure and promoting costal shipping for saving logistic costs.

Under the Scheme, projects for construction/ up-gradation of exclusive coastal berths for coastal cargo and berths/jetties for passenger ferries; mechanization of coastal berths; capital dredging for operating non-major ports; construction of breakwaters for existing & Greenfield Non-major ports; construction of berths/ jetties in National Waterways and islands by State Governments/UT; and construction of platforms/ jetties for hovercrafts/seaplanes will be considered for assistance.

Financial assistance under the revised scheme would be given up to 50% of the total cost of the project, subject to following, while the balance cost will have to be borne by respective ports/concerned State Govt. from their internal/own resources.

a) a maximum of ₹25 Crore in case of construction/ up-gradation of exclusive coastal berths for coastal cargo and passengers in ports water

b) a maximum of ₹10 Crore for construction of platforms / jetties, National Waterways and islands

c) a maximum of ₹15 Crore in case of Mechanisation of coastal berth

d) a maximum of ₹50 Crore in case of capital dredging for operating non-major ports

e) a maximum of ₹50 Crore in case of construction of breakwater for existing and Greenfield Non-Major Ports.

The main objective of the revised scheme is to promote coastal shipping and increase its share in domestic cargo movement, which is currently only as low as 7%, compared to other developed countries in Europe and Asia. Better infrastructure for coastal shipping in terms of handling facilities will decongest rail and road network as well as ensure cost competitive and effective multi-modal transportation solution. The country has high potential to use coastal shipping for its internal cargo movement given its 7500 kms long coastline. The National Perspective Plan of Sagarmala envisions the potential to save around INR 21000-27000 Crore through coastal shipping of 230-280 MMTPA of key commodities like coal, cement, fertilizers, iron & steel, food grains and POL by 2025.

Under the scheme, the creation of exclusive berths for coastal shipping and its mechanization will reduce waiting time for coastal vessels resulting in reduced cost. The capital dredging and construction of breakwaters shall help in smoother navigation of large vessels into the ports and thus facilitate development of existing and Greenfield ports. With coastal shipping being more environment friendly mode of transport compared to rail and road, it would also help in reducing pollution.

The revised scheme brings appropriate synergy & convergence with the Sagarmala Programme which too aims at promoting coastal shipping along with port modernization and new port development, port connectivity enhancement, port-led industrial development and coastal community development. The revised scheme is also in conformity with Plan Priorities and National objectives of the Government as in the 12th Five Year Plan which emphasises on the need for incentivizing coastal shipping.

The financial assistance (grant-in-aid) given under the Scheme will be subject to audit by the CAG of India. The revised scheme has been released on the website of Ministry of Shipping

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Notification of Protocol for amendment of Convention for avoidance of double taxation & prevention of fiscal evasion
Aug 29,2016

The Protocol for amendment of the Convention for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and capital gains between India and Mauritius was signed by both countries on 10th May, 2016. After completion of internal procedures by both countries, the Protocol entered into force in India on 19th July, 2016 and has been notified in the Official Gazette on 11th August, 2016.

The Protocol provides for source-based taxation of capital gains arising from alienation of shares acquired on or after 1st April, 2017 in a company resident in India with effect from financial year 2017-18. Simultaneously, investments made before 1st April, 2017 have been grandfathered and will not be subject to capital gains taxation in India. Where such capital gains arise during the transition period from 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2019, the tax rate will be limited to 50% of the domestic tax rate of India. Taxation in India at full domestic tax rate will take place from financial year 2019-20 onwards.

The benefit of 50% reduction in tax rate during the transition period shall be subject to the Limitation of Benefits Article, whereby a resident of Mauritius (including a shell / conduit company) will not be entitled to benefit of 50% reduction in tax rate, if it fails the main purpose test and bonafide business test. A resident is deemed to be a shell / conduit company, if its total expenditure on operations in Mauritius is less than Rs. 2,700,000 (Mauritian Rupees 1,500,000) in the immediately preceding 12 months.

The Protocol further provides for source-based taxation of interest income of banks, whereby interest arising in India to Mauritian resident banks will be subject to withholding tax in India at the rate of 7.5% in respect of debt claims or loans made after 31st March, 2017. However, interest income of Mauritian resident banks in respect of debt-claims existing on or before 31st March, 2017 shall be exempt from tax in India as per existing provisions in the Convention.

The Protocol also provides for updating of the Exchange of Information Article as per the international standard, provision for assistance in collection of taxes, source-based taxation of other income, amongst other changes.

The Protocol will tackle treaty abuse and round tripping of funds attributed to the India-Mauritius treaty, curb revenue loss, prevent double non-taxation, streamline the flow of investment and stimulate the flow of exchange of information between the two Contracting Parties. It will improve transparency in tax matters and will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance.

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