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Allocations for women by different Ministries/Departments has increased to Rs. 90,624.76 crores in 2016-17 under Gender Budgeting
Mar 10,2017

In order to mainstream gender across sectors and all levels of governance, Government of India, has adopted Gender Budgeting as a tool in 2004-05. Ministry of Women and Child Development has been consistently promoting gender budgeting across the country as a pathway to ensure gender mainstreaming at all levels and stages of the budgetary process. Gender Budget Statement was introduced as a part of the Union Budget in 2005-06. To facilitate integration of gender analysis in policies, programmes and schemes, the Ministry of Finance in consultation with the Ministry of Women and Child Development had issued a Gender Budget Charter on 8th March, 2007 outlining the composition and functions of the Gender Budgeting Cells (GBCs). The most important milestone in this regard has been the institutionalization of the progress through formation of GBCs in various Ministries and Departments. As of now, 57 Central Ministries /Departments have set up GBCs. Another important progress made in the Gender Budgeting system is inclusion of a column on gender impact in the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) document with effect from 1st April, 2014 for inclusion of womens concerns at the planning stage and inclusion of a gender perspective in the Outcome Budget Process. The magnitude of Gender Budget as reflected in the GB Statement shows allocations made for women by different Ministries/Departments has increased from Rs. 14,378.68 crores in 2005-06 to Rs. 90,624.76 crores in 2016-17.

Funds are released to Central/ State Govt./Autonomous institutions for carrying out the training programmes for enhancing gender sensitivity and gender expertise, training of the Gender Budgeting Cells for mainstreaming gender concerns across levels of governance. Government autonomous institutions both at the national level and state level have been supported by the Ministry to develop in-house GB expertise and have started imparting training to various other stakeholders. To support the training programmes in a structured and sustained way the Ministry is in the process of designating nodal centres at the state level. 20 states have already designated their nodal centre and at the Central level, National Institute of Financial Management Faridabad has been designated as the nodal centre by the Ministry for undertaking gender budgeting activities.

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Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 passed in the Parliament
Mar 10,2017

The Lok Sabha has passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Bill had already been passed by the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session. With this, the Bill stands passed in the Parliament.

The Bill seeks to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 to provide for the following:-

(i) Maternity leave available to the working women to be increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the first two children.

(ii) Maternity leave for children beyond the first two will continue to be 12 weeks.

(iii) Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to the n++commissioning mothersn++. The commissioning mother has been defined as biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.

(iv) Every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide for crn++che facilities for working mothers and such mothers will be permitted to make four visits during working hours to look after and feed the child in the crn++che.

(v) The employer may permit a woman to work from home if it is possible to do so.

(vi) Every establishment will be required to make these benefits available to the women from the time of her appointment.

The Minister of Women and Child Development, Smt. Maneka Gandhi thanked the Minister for Labour and Employment, Shri Bandaru Dattatreya for taking up the demand of lakhs of women across the country and for having steered the Bill through Rajya Sabha as well as the Lok Sabha. In her message to the working women, Smt. Gandhi congratulated the women who are planning to have a child and has stated that the Ministry of Women and Child Development will continue to work for the empowerment of women.

The amendments in the Bill were taken up following the request by the WCD Minister to the Honble Labour Minister to bring about these changes so that a working woman gets time to exclusively breast-feed her child for 6 months after the birth. This period also enables the working mother to recuperate herself before she goes to back to work. In her communication to the Labour Ministry, the WCD Minister had also highlighted the concerns of commissioning and adopting mothers who also require maternity leave.

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Electronic Tags for Toll Collection at National Highways
Mar 10,2017

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has incorporated Indian Highway Management Company Limited (IHMCL) to expedite the implementation of Electronic Fee Collection (EFC). National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has been engaged to work as Central Clearing House (CCH) to implement inter-operability so that several banks could participate in the EFC programme. As on 03.03.2017, the participating banks are SBI, KVB, ICICI, AXIS, IDFC and Equitas SF Bank. As on 03rd March 2017, total 3,47,200 electronic tags have been issued for fee collection on National Highways.

The Road users are being encouraged to use electronic means for payment of user fees for seamless travel through fee plazas. Government has also notified the use of pre-paid payment instruments vide Notification G.S.R 1114 (E) dated 02nd December, .2016 for collection of user fee from road users. This is to permit road users to opt for available cashless modes of payment. NHAI has facilitated the Concessionaire and Contractor to use POS machines for collection of user fees through credit & debit card. Since, FASTag is not mandatory for payment of user fees for use of National Highways; therefore, no target/deadline has been fixed.

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Total 6,604 KM National Highway Constructed till February, 2017
Mar 10,2017

The target of construction of National Highways is 15,000 km, of which 6,604 km have been completed till Feb in the current financial year 2016-17. The slow speed of construction of National Highways(NHs) are mainly due to land acquisition, utility shifting, non-availability of Soil/Aggregates, Poor performance of contractors, Environment/ Forest/Wildlife Clearance, ROB & RUB issue with Railways, Public agitation for additional facilities, Arbitration/contractual disputes with contractors etc.

There is a well-established mechanism for monitoring and testing of quality of construction and development of work of National Highways (NHs) by engaging a Consultancy firm of International and National repute for every project to ensure quality construction. They supervise, monitor and conduct tests as per procedures laid down in various codes published by Indian Road Congress, manuals & MoRT&H specifications for Road and Bridge works and National Highway Authority India Quality Manuals etc. Apart from this, field units and Quality Division of Ministry, NHAI and State PWD also conduct inspection at various project sites regularly to monitor the quality of work. Quality Auditors are also engaged from time to time for conducting Quality Audits of the project work. On observation of any violation, action against the defaulter is taken as per provision in the agreement.

The Ministry has empaneled National Level Project Monitors for monitoring of critical and languishing National Highways projects all over the country.

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India and Belgium sign Protocol amending the India-Belgium Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Protocol
Mar 09,2017

India and Belgium have signed a Protocol amending the existing Agreement and Protocol between the two countries for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income today in New Delhi. The Protocol was signed by Shri Sushil Chandra, Chairman Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on behalf of India and Mr. Jan Luykx, Ambassador of Belgium to India, on behalf of Belgium.

The Protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information. This in turn will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two countries and will also enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes.

Fighting the menace of Black Money stashed in offshore accounts has been a key priority area for the Government. To further this goal, India has either signed or amended international agreements, declarations or conventions for the Avoidance of Double Taxation & Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and for the Exchange of Information with Switzerland, Mauritius, Cyprus, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Singapore and Austria during the financial year 2016-17.

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Proposal Approved for Revival of 50 Underserved Airstrips and Airports
Mar 09,2017

The newly approved National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016, has a provision for promotion of regional connectivity by way of revival of un-served and under-served airports and airstrips. Revival of such airports is demand-driven, depending on firm demand from the airline operators and where the State Government agrees to provide various concessions envisaged in the Policy.

The Government has approved the proposal for revival of 50 un-served and under-served airports and airstrips of the State Governments, Airports Authority of India, Civil Enclaves and CPSUs in the three financial years from 2017-18 at an estimated cost of Rs. 4500 crores. 15 airports and airstrips would be revived during 2017-18 and 2018-19 each and 20 airports and airstrips would be revived during 2019-20.

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Air India Expecting Better Revenues in Current Financial Year
Mar 09,2017

Air India is expecting to report better revenues in Financial Year 2016-17 as compared to FY 2015-16. In fact, the company is expecting to have a total revenue of Rs. 22,521 crores as compared to the figure of Rs. 20,526.11 crores in FY 2015-16 which is an improvement of around 9.7% over the previous year.

The main reason for this increase in revenues is an improvement in capacity utilization in terms of Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPKMs) by 6.8% and an increase in Passenger Carriages by 6.2% when compared to the previous year 2015-16. The Passenger Load Factor is also expected to increase by 1.2% in absolute terms i.e. from 75.6% in FY 2015-16 to 76.4% in FY 2016-17.

From November, 2015, in addition to Riyadh route, B777-200 LR was deployed on Delhi-London route (AI-161/162) and from December, 2015 on Bangalore-Delhi-San Francisco route (AI-173/174). This has helped in increasing operating utilization of B777-200 LR over 14 hours per day from November, 2015 onward.

The Government had approved a Turnaround Plan (TAP) and Financial Restructuring Plan (FRP) for operational and financial turnaround of Air India. The TAP and FRP provides equity infusion of Rs.30,231 crores upto year 2021 subject to achievement of certain milestones as laid down in the TAP and FRP. The Company has made substantial progress in both Operational as well as Financial Areas as per TAP Milestones. As a part of the Turnaround Strategy for Air India Ltd., the company, with the overall support of the govt., has initiated a number of steps in order to cut costs and losses. These steps, inter-alia, include the following: -

i. Route rationalization of erstwhile AI & IA route and elimination of route network involving parallel operations.

ii. Rationalization of certain loss making routes.

iii. Phasing out of old fleet and consequential reduction in maintenance cost.

iv. Joining of Star Alliance.

v. Enhanced utilization of new fleet resulting in production of higher Available Seat Kilometers (ASKMs).

vi. Closure of overseas offline offices at certain locations.

vii. Introduction of PSS (Passenger Service System) to have single code and SAP ERP based solutions throughout the organization in terms of increase in revenue and decrease in cost.

The following steps have also been taken by Air India to improve revenues:-

i Introduction of New Routes,

ii Preferred seat selection on domestic and international routes,

iii Flash Sale of seats to increase revenues and PLF,

iv To utilize unsold inventory by launching of airfare equivalent to Rajdhani II-AC fare on select sectors,

v Dynamic pricing and introduction of Advance Purchase fare,

vi Various sales and Marketing Initiatives.

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57 Inter Regional Power Transmission projects worth Rs.7,268 crores sanctioned under the Power System Development Fund (PSDF) scheme
Mar 09,2017

Inter Regional Transmission Corridors (IRTC) are planned and implemented for transfer of power from surplus states/regions to deficit states/regions on short term basis, subject to availability of margins in these lines. These lines, a part of the evacuation system from interstate generation stations, are mainly used for delivery of power from these generating stations to their beneficiaries in various states.

A number of inter-regional links have been planned which interconnect the five regional grids i.e. Northern, Western, Southern, Eastern and North Eastern regions. Presently, the total transmission capacity of such interregional links is 63650 MW (as on January, 2017), he said.

As of now, 57 projects have been sanctioned under the Power System Development Fund (PSDF) scheme, at the cost of Rs.7268 Crores. PSDF can beutilized, inter alia, for creating necessary transmission systems of strategic importance based on operational feedback by Load Dispatch Centres for relieving congestion in Inter-State Transmission Systems (ISTS) and intra-state system which are incidental to the ISTS. This fund can also be utilized for Renovation & Modernization of transmission and distribution systems for relieving congestion, Shri Goyal added.

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Centre to Launch Pilot Project on Ornamental Fisheries with total outlay of Rs. 61.89 crore
Mar 09,2017

Recognizing the potential and scope of ornamental fisheries, the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, has envisaged a program to unlock the countrys ornamental fisheries sector through a special drive by launching a pilot scheme for the development of ornamental fisheries with a total outlay of Rs. 61.89 crore. Implementation of the pilot-scale Ornamental Fisheries Project focuses mainly on creating an enabling environment for a sustainable and holistic development of Ornamental Fisheries for the socio-economic development of the people involved in this activity as well as for exports. The thrust areas have been identified for enhancing ornamental fisheries production through cluster-based farming and conservation of natural resources, both inland and marine, through habitat restoration and creating awareness amongst the stakeholders.

The major objectives of the pilot project are: (i) to promote ornamental fish culture with cluster-based approach, (ii) to augment ornamental fisheries trade and export earnings, (iii) to create employment opportunities for the rural & periurban population and (iv) use of modern technology and innovation to make ornamental fisheries a thriving activity.

For the purpose of implementation of the pilot project, a total of 8 potential States have been identified, viz., Assam, West Bengal , Odisha, Maharashtra , Gujarat , Karnataka , Tamil Nadu and Kerala. All the activities under the pilot project are classified in to four major groups, viz., (a) activities related to production of ornamental fish, e.g. setting up of backyard rearing units, medium scale units, integrated breeding-cum-rearing units, etc., (b) activities related to aquarium fabrication, trade and marketing; (c) activities for promotion of ornamental fisheries sector, and d: activities related to skill development and capacity building.

The pilot project on ornamental fisheries shall be implemented by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) through the Fisheries Departments of States/UTs. The broad funding patterns proposed under the pilot project on ornamental fisheries are in line with the funding patterns under CSS Blue Revolution: Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries. The financial resources required to meet the Central Govt. liability towards implementation of the proposed pilot project on development of ornamental fisheries shall also be mobilized through dovetailing of funds under other schemes implemented in the GoI, in a convergence mode, wherever feasible. The implementation of proposed pilot project on ornamental fisheries will require a minimum time frame of one year.

Ornamental fishery, on the other hand, is a sub-sector of the fisheries sector dealing with breeding and rearing of coloured fish of both freshwater and marine water. Though ornamental fisheries does not directly contribute to the food and nutritional security, it generates livelihood and income for the rural and periurban population, especially women and unemployed youth as part-time activities. The ornamental fish industry in India is small but vibrant, with potential for tremendous growth. The low production cost and high returns within a short span of time and the ever growing demand, both in domestic and international markets, etc. are the major attractions. About 400 species of marine ornamental fishes and 375 freshwater ornamental varieties are available in various parts of our country.

Fisheries and Aquaculture sector mainly focus on the production of table fish. Consequently, the major funding, both in the Government & private sector, is aimed at increasing the production and productivity of fish.

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World Bank Approves Support to Vocational Training Across India
Mar 09,2017

The World Bank Board has approved the US$ 125 million Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Operation (STRIVE) aimed at improving the quality of long-term vocational training provided in Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and apprenticeships.

STRIVE is a five-year government program which will help improve the performance of ITIs; increase the capacities of state governments to support them; improve teaching and learning; and broaden Apprenticeship Training. This Program will support vocational training in 300 ITIs and 100 industrial clusters and improve state systems in all ITIs across India.

Over 40 percent of those enrolled in ITIs and apprenticeships come from families that live below the poverty line. The STRIVE Program will help broaden the range of training options available to them and create a more conducive learning environment - important for attracting more young women and youth from vulnerable population groups.

n++Expanding and improving formal long-term skills is essential for India to create a globally competitive workforce,n++ said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. n++This Program will also focus on inclusion, by providing greater opportunities for Indias youth, particularly women and underserved communities.n++

Recent studies estimate the demand for skilled workers at 400 million by 2022, of which 150 million are required in the manufacturing and services sector alone. With over 13,000 institutions across India, ITIs represent the largest network of technical training providers in the country. However, they face a series of challenges in adapting to increasingly dynamic industry demands. The formal apprenticeship system is an important but under-used resource for workplace exposure and relevant on-the-job training.

A striking feature of Indias labor market is the extremely low (31 percent) female labor force participation. More than 50 million of Indias young women are neither studying nor working and they constitute less than 9 percent of the enrollment in most ITIs.

To realize the benefits of a skilled workforce, further efforts are required to harness the full potential of its large youthful population.

The Program will modernize formal apprenticeship training in India and strengthen the role of industry, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in improving and developing needs-based Apprenticeship Programs. It will also help increase quality and relevance as well as financial and administrative autonomy of ITIs; improve states regulatory and monitoring systems for skills development; reduce teachers vacancy rates; facilitate industry training for teachers in ITIs, among others. STRIVE will also invest in introducing state of the art technology-based teaching and learning resources in ITI training, developing online and distance learning modules for technical teachers training and upgrading technical teachers training institutions.

n++Research has shown that youth who undergo some form of formal training tend to earn nearly 18 percent more compared to those with only a grade 10 or a grade 12 education. Beyond the direct benefit for the trainee, the development of a globally competitive manufacturing sector requires a cadre of comprehensively skilled technicians, said Muna Salih Meky, Senior Education Specialist and World Banks Task Team Leader for the Program. n++The Program is also expected to contribute to increased diversity and reduced inequities in the workforce.n++

The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) - the World Banks concessionary lending arm with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5-year grace period.

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Fitch: Indian Banks Risk Skipping Coupons, Despite Forbearance
Mar 09,2017

Some Indian banks remain at risk of skipping coupon payments on capital instruments over the next couple of years; despite measures by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to ease pressures, and injections of government capital into state banks, says Fitch Ratings. Mid-sized state banks are the most at risk of breaching capital triggers.

Distributable reserves at small- to mid-sized state banks were down by one third in 9M17 compared with financial year 2015 (FY15, to March 2015), reflecting persistent losses and weak internal capital generation. Five state-owned banks suffered losses that were equivalent to more than 30% of distributable reserves in 9M17 alone. The RBIs recent decision to allow banks to make additional Tier 1 (AT1) coupon payments from statutory reserves may have helped mitigate short-term coupon-deferral risks, but state banks reserves are likely to continue falling.

The RBI has made several regulatory adjustments in the last few years to avoid potential damage to sentiment in the domestic market for capital instruments. These changes have been applied to the sector as a whole and are not unique to India, but their timing suggests the RBI has felt pressure to provide headroom to state banks.

Some banks are also at risk of missing coupon payments on capital instruments as a result of breaching minimum capital requirements. Fitchs analysis indicates that the total capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of 12 banks was at or below the 11.5% minimum that will be a prerequisite for payment of coupons on both legacy and Basel III AT1 capital instruments by FYE19. There were also 11 banks with CET1 ratios at or below the 8% minimum that will be required to make coupon payments on AT1 instruments by FYE19.

We estimate that banks require around USD90bn in new capital by FYE19 to meet Basel III standards - state banks account for around 80% of that. State banks are constrained in raising new equity due to heavy discounts on valuations while limited market depth remains a hurdle to issuing capital instruments domestically. Banks which are capable of tapping overseas markets have been reluctant to do so due to pricing concerns. This leaves state banks largely reliant on the government for recapitalisation. The USD10.4bn that the government has earmarked for capital injections into state banks is unlikely to be enough to support balance-sheet growth.

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Secondary market liquidity needed to attract retail investor into corporate bond space: SEBI official
Mar 08,2017

Infusing some amount of secondary market liquidity can help attract retail investors to enter the corporate bonds space, a top Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) official said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++As retail investor, when I get into bonds I also think about liquidity. When I put money in the banks fixed deposits, it is not merely for the interest rate that I get but it is also for the liquidity it gives me, that gives me a tremendous amount of comfort in addition to the return, though the return is much less but I am satisfied because the liquidity is there,n++ said Mr G. Mahalingam, Whole Time Member, SEBI.

n++If same were to be the case with the bonds, I am sure that it is going to be an important, tempting factor for the retail investor to come into the bonds space and that is where perhaps some amount of secondary market liquidity is needed,n++ he added.

Mr Mahalingam however emphasised upon the need to create that liquidity.

n++Even with a much lesser liquidity we can afford to live within the corporate bond world,n++ he said.

The SEBI Whole Time Member also said that people should be allowed to move around freely from one segment to another segment with free connectivity as that would create and open up the entire market in a robust manner which could not be imagined.

n++If we can open up this connectivity, if the banks can play a role in the exchange traded platform segment, we are going to have a bond market where perhaps the liquidity will go unchallenged and perhaps match the liquidity levels in the US,n++ said Mr Mahalingam.

He also said that it must be seen whether regulators like IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority), PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority) have created that kind of a bandwidth for the insurance companies, for the pension funds, provident funds to invest in the bond market.

n++There is another question which we need to find out whether these regulators have to open up their space in a bigger way, as SEBI feels it has opened it up for mutual funds sufficiently,n++ further said Mr Mahalingam.

He said that on an average, the portfolio return cannot be more than 200-300 basis points in corporate bonds.

n++If we understand this reality, then we will say that bonds are really-really good investments, if we do not look at this reality and if we continue to live in utopia that I am going to earn a return which is going to be double-triple of the bank deposits, we do not touch the bonds at all, this is the problem,n++ he said.

He lamented that most people do not realise that bond markets are growing. n++One stark fact now is that bond markets growth this year has out-stripped the bank credit growth, which is surprising, it has never possibly happened in the past at all.n++

He informed that bank deposit growth this year is almost close to about 10 per cent, the bank deposits are standing at Rs 105 lakh crores. While the bank credit has grown by an abysmal 4.8 per cent this year and it is at around Rs 73 lakh crores. n++If you look at correspondingly the bond market, it has really grown by leaps and bounds.n++

Talking about the initiatives taken by the government with a view to boost the corporate bond markets in India, Mr Mahalingam informed that the insolvency regime is finally in place, besides the enablers have also been put in place so today there is no reason why people should feel sceptical about investments in bonds.

Further he said that governments borrowing budget in the current year has come down by almost Rs two lakh crore which is going to be a great enabler for the corporate bonds to come into the picture.

n++There is a Rs two lakh crore space which is left vacant, which has to be absorbed possibly by corporate bonds, some of it is already in the coming form of commercial paper, certificate of deposits is coming down obviously for the reason that banks are no longer in need of deposits which have poured into the banks ever since November 9,n++ said Mr Mahalingam.

n++Given that background, the government is actually vacating space, there is a huge amount of space which is developing so automatically the corporate bond scenario is going to grow in a very robust way,n++ he added.

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Indian demand will recover from 2016 lows-World Gold Council
Mar 08,2017

After a challenging 2016, Indias gold market faces headwinds. As well as the lingering effect of the policies implemented last year, the industry has more to contend with in 2017. The ban on cash transactions over Rs300,000 could hurt rural Indian demand while GST could adversely affect the industry in the short-term, said the latest report of World Gold Council.

But after falling so sharply last year, demand is unlikely to fall further. Headwinds will be off-set by strong tailwinds. A banking system flush with liquidity, the bumper crop after a good monsoon, and central government employees and pensioners inflation-busting wage hike will all support economic growth. GST will streamline Indias byzantine tax structure which, as well as boosting the economy, promises to make golds value chain more transparent. Further ahead, the economy will benefit from the groundswell of young Indians entering the workforce - a demographic dividend similar to that which underpinned the stellar growth of the Asian Tiger economies of the 1980s and 1990s. All these factors will boost Indias economic growth and support gold demand.

It is likely that the impact of demonetisation will have a behavioural impact too. The shock initiative will have tested some peoples faith in fiat currencies and reinforced their faith in gold. We conducted a large-scale piece of consumer research in Q1 2016 in which 63% of respondents in India agreed with the statement n++I trust gold more than the currencies of countriesn++. And 73% of respondents in India agreed with the statement n++gold makes me feel secure for the long-termn++. The demonetisation programme will underpin these beliefs.

Demonetisation is also boosting large jewellery retailers, and they will continue to grab a larger share of the market. Over time, consumers will move away from cash towards digital payments, and organised players should benefit from this trend. This change in market dynamics will result in more transparency and a better deal for consumers, protecting them from shady practices such as undercarating.

Indias gold demand has fallen sharply in the past, but has then recovered. Previous attempts by the authorities to clamp down on gold have failed: gold is too intimately ingrained in Indian society.

On balance, while demand is likely to improve, our view for 2017 is cautious: we expect consumers to buy between 650t and 750t. Over time, we anticipate that economic growth and greater transparency within Indias gold market will push demand higher: by 2020 we see Indian consumers buying between 850t and 950t.

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Environment Minister launches Web Portal for obtaining CRZ Clearances
Mar 08,2017

The Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Anil Madhav Dave, launched the web portal for obtaining Coastal Regulation Zone clearances, here today. The Minister termed the launch of the portal as a good example of Ease of Doing Business.

The Portal is a web-based system for obtaining clearances required from the Ministry under the n++Coastal Regulation Zonen++ (CRZ) by the Project proponents. The system will enable the Project proponents and the concerned State/Union Territory bodies like the State Coastal Zone Management Authorities (SCZMAs) and Municipal/Town Planning agencies in tracking the status of their proposals. The system is based on web architecture, similar to the existing systems in place for according environmental and forest clearances.

The Portal is a very user-friendly initiative, which enables submission of applications for CRZ clearance in a single-window interface and facilitates quick flow of information related to CRZ clearances. The portal allocates a unique identity for each proposal for all future references. It is accessible from any computer with internet facility.

The objectives of the web portal include - enhancing efficiency, transparency and accountability in the process of CRZ clearances; enhance responsiveness through workflows and availability of real-time information on the status of CRZ clearance proposals; ease of business and convenience of citizens in accessing information and services; standardised procedures and processes across Central and State levels.

There are other initiatives underway, like the notification of High Tide Line/Low Tide Line (HTL/LTL), ecologically sensitive areas falling under CRZ-1, hazard line etc. All these steps are aimed at minimising discretions and enhancing accountability at all levels.

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Last date of submission of Digital Life Certificate through Jeevan Pramaan Patra extended upto 31st March 2017
Mar 08,2017

Noticing that many pensioners are yet to submit Aadhaar authenticated Jeevan Pramaan as life certificate for continuation of drawal of pension, the EPFO has further extended the last date of submission of Digital Life Certificate through Jeevan Pramaan Patra upto 31st March 2017. Earlier the last date was 28th February 2017.

Members and pensioners of the Employees Pension Scheme, 1995 are required to furnish Aadhaar number by 31st March 2017. In case a member has not been allotted Aadhaar Number, a copy of Aadhaar Enrolment ID slip is required to be attached for settlement of claim under EPS, 1995, namely for pension processing and monthly pension payments. Aadhaar number however is not required in case a member of pension scheme having less than 10 years of service chooses to withdraw by making an application in Form 10-C.

An Employee Enrolment Campaign-2017, started by EPFO on January 1st 2017 to cover left out workers, continues upto 31st March 2017. Under the scheme:-

n++ The employees share of contributions if not deducted by the employer is waived.

n++ Nominal damages to be paid by the employer, in respect of the employees for whom declaration has been made under this campaign, is at the rate of Rupee One per annum.

n++ Administrative charges have been waived.

Even though the EPF & MP Act, 1952 does not differentiate between casual, contractual and regular employees, it was noted that a large number of contractual employees hired by principal employer including those by the government departments, PSU and autonomous Organizations have remained out of coverage under EPFO. It is the duty of the principal employer to ensure compliance of their outsourced / regular / contract / casual / daily wager to the schemes under EPF Act.

To ensure coverage of workers, principal employers have been advised to ensure that their contractors are registered with EPFO before award of any contract or making any payments. EPFO provides relevant information in this regard to principal employers online.

A health care scheme called ECHS was formulated by Ministry of Defence for its ex-servicemen. The contractual workers of ECHS till now were deprived of the social security benefits under EPFO. The ECHS now has been brought under the ambit of the EPF Act. Ministry of Defence has issued necessary directions to the ECHS for enrolling their contractual staff. Similarly, all eligible workers engaged by contractors working with Military Engineering Services (MES) and Indian Railways have also being requested to ensure coverage of contractual employees under EPFO.

Towards continuous strive to bring increased conveniences and efficiency, a single page Composite Claim Form (Aadhar) replaces Forms No. 19 (UAN), 10C (UAN) & 31(UAN) for subscribers seeding their Aadhar number with UAN. This can be submitted without the attestation of employers. For subscribers who are yet to seed Aadhaar and Bank details with their UAN, a new Composite Claim Form (Non-Aadhar) replaces the existing Forms No. 19, 10C & 31.

In addition, a Composite Claim Form in death cases replaces the existing Forms No, 20, 5-IF and 10-D. The claimants can apply for claim of Provident Fund, Insurance Fund and monthly pension through this single page composite claim form in case of death of a member.

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