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Germany to collaborate with India to improve rail connectivity of Indian ports
Oct 14,2016

The Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari has said that India and Germany are all set to collaborate on projects for improving rail connectivity of Indian ports. He said the two countries will work together on projects worth Rs one lakh crore being implemented by the Indian Port Rail Corporation (IPRCL). The Minister held detailed discussions with his German counterpart and Infrastructure Minister Mr Alexander Dobrindt and his delegation, regarding the modalities for such collaboration. The meeting comes under the backdrop of an MoU signed between Indian Port Rail Corporation (IPRCL) and the German Railways Deutsche Bahn (DB) for cooperation on modernization of rail port connectivity and port rail facilities of Indian ports, during the Maritime India Summit earlier this year . For efficient evacuation of cargo from the Ports and to reduce logistics cost, last mile rail connectivity of Ports is extremely important. Indian port Rail Corporation has been set up specifically to work in this area.

It was proposed to form groups with representatives of IPRCL and DB to identify areas of cooperation and potential projects, as also to identify cost effective new rail technologies that can be implemented. This would help bring in foreign investment and cost effective, environment friendly, innovative technology for the port rail connectivity projects.

Shri Gadkari further informed that Germany has also been invited to cooperate in the development of inland waterways, including manufacturing of barges.

In the transport sector, discussions were held on cooperation for developing vehicle scrapping capacity in India. India has invited Germany to share environment friendly technology for scrapping of old vehicles and also for processing of the waste thus generated.

In what may be a major step towards reducing pollution, Shri Gadkari informed the German Minister that India has put in place all required regulations for the use of Flex-fuel like ethanol mixed with petrol. He said that German automobile manufacturers can be called upon to produce cars that can run on flex-fuel for India, like the ones being produced in Canada and USA.

Shri Gadkari has expressed confidence and hope that the cooperation between the two countries will grow even further in the times to come.

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UIDAIS Challenge drive for Enrolment In 22 States/UTS
Oct 14,2016

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has launched Challenge drive to enroll leftover population for Aadhaar, in 22 States/UTs where Aadhaar saturation of adult population has crossed 100 per cent (as per projected population figure of 2015). These 22 States/UTs are Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Andaman & Nicobar Island, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Goa, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.

As on today, over 106.69 crore Aadhaar numbers have been generated across the country.

The Challenge drive enrolment scheme will be only for adult population. As part of the Challenge drive, the residents of these States/UTs who have not yet enrolled for Aadhaar are being asked to register themselves at https://www.wenrol.uidai.gov.in. On completing the simple registration formality, such people would be enrolled for the Aadhaar number on a priority basis.

n++The Challenge drive will ensure that nobody is left without an Aadhaar in these States/UTs which statistically have 100% Aadhaar saturation. The drive will start from 15th October to 15th November 2016. This is in furtherance of our enrolment exercise to achieve universal coverage for Aadhaar across the country. All the eight Regional Offices of UIDAI have been directed to take up necessary media campaign in prominent local media and coordinate with respective State/UTs/NSRs/EAs for facilitating the enrolment of the resident registered under the Challenge drive and enroll infirm and elderly residents at homen++ said Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, UIDAI.

In this drive, the enrolment request of only persons over the age of 18 years will be accepted on the portal mentioned above. Providing a mobile number as well as other demographic details is also mandatory as a mobile OTP based verification will be conducted once the person submits the enrolment request. The person will be then contacted and enrolled on a priority basis through special camps or at the enrolment stations located near him/her.

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Import of Vegetable Oil Up by 5% during November 2015 to September 2016
Oct 14,2016

The Solvent Extractors Association of India has compiled the Import data of Vegetable Oils (edible & non-edible) for the month of September 2016. Import of vegetable oils during September 2016, is reported at 1,399,993 tons compared to 1,216,546 tons in September 2015, consisting of 1,376,650 tons of edible oils and 23,343 tons of non-edible oils i.e. up by 15%. The overall import of vegetable oils during first eleven months of the current oil year 2015-16, November 2015 - September 2016 is reported at 13,565,548 tons compared to 12,941,611 tons i.e. up by 5%.

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Moodys: Spectrum wins stretch India telco operators balance sheets further, a credit negative
Oct 14,2016

Moodys Investors Service says that the resulting high costs for spectrum -- following an auction on October 7 -- is credit negative for Indias telecom operators, as the debt levels of their already stretched balance sheets will rise further.

At the same time, competition is intensifying, following the September launch of mobile services by new operator Reliance Jio Infocomm (unrated), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries (RIL, LC: Baa2 positive; FC: Baa2 stable), says Annalisa Di Chiara, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Credit Officer. The higher debt levels following the auction and lower profitability from pricing pressure will likely raise industry-wide leverage.

Bids for the four largest telecom operators aggregated 1157 MHz of spectrum, 31% of the spectrum available for sale across all bands. Not unexpectedly, the 700MHz band -- the most expensive category of airwaves -- went entirely unsold.

In our view, these spectrum wins will weigh on balance sheets and cash flows, as debt levels will rise materially for most operators, including incumbent Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Baa3 stable) and larger international groups, such as Vodafone Group Plc (Baa1 stable), says Di Chiara. The operators will experience a reduction in their ability to fund further expansion or to absorb the effects of weaker profitability as competition intensifies.

The auction did not attract any bids for the highly expensive 700 MHz band, implying that Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (unrated) and Reliance Communications Limited (Ba3, review for downgrade) -- which have a spectrum-and-infrastructure sharing agreement -- will remain the only players with access to pan-India spectrum in the sub 1 Ghz band. The latter is considered the best suited for 4G services in urban centers, given its better in-door coverage.

More intense competition, in part spurred by Jios launch, is likely to drive tariffs lower, causing average revenues per user (ARPU) to contract and industry revenue and profitability to fall over the next 12-18 months, meaning that leverage levels could rise. Growing demand for 3G/4G data services will continue to drive each companys spectrum cost recoveries.

The operators will likely opt to defer their spectrum payments, mitigating the effect on cash flows. This option requires them to make upfront payments of 25% or 50%, depending on the spectrum band, within 10 days of the auctions close, with the balance payable in 10 annual installments after a moratorium of two years.

Longer term, the spectrum which the operators secure will help them maintain their competitive positions, support their strategies on data growth and enhance cash flow generation. Their high debt burdens may also pave the way for recapitalization events and further industry consolidation, which will in turn ultimately benefit those incumbents well positioned in 4G.

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Infra-financing may be encouraged through BRICS cross-country tie-ups
Oct 14,2016

In the BRICS Business Forum session here today on Cooperation in Infrastructure and Infrastructure Financing, the panellists agreed that BRICS reflected the potential for the future. Infrastructure development is the need of the hour. There is vast opportunity for the member states and infra-financing may be encouraged through cross-country collaboration . The New Development Bank should work on financial instruments for funding the infrastructural requirements.

K Ramchand, Chairman, BRICS Business Council Working Group on Infrastructure and CEO, IL&FS, said, infrastructure development is one of the major requirement of the BRICS nations. There is an urgent need for cooperation in physical and IT infrastructure funding in innovative ways through different financial instruments, he said.

Raghav Chandra, Chairman NHAI, said that infrastructure is a key pillar of business competitiveness hence we should focus on infrastructure development. However, financing of infrastructural projects comes with several challenges. It needs considerable amount of capital, has long gestation period and the time for break-even too long. Often bank financing is not enough, there is asset liability mismatch and short initial deposit- financing of infrastructure has many hurdles. Moreover, in India the corporate debt market is not very developed. It is also not easy to raise capital through foreign debt. There is almost USD 100 trillion worth patient capital with institutional investors(such as pension funds and insurance) which should be channelised for infrastructure.

Chandra spoke about Indias goal of building 10,000 km highway project. He deliberated on the different modes of funding infrastructure like PPP and said that there is huge scope and potential for investment in the highways programme. The New Development Bank, he said, should have the scope for credit enhancement, anchor investors and directly finance the projects.

Alexander Misharin, First Vice President of the JSC Russian Railways & CEO of the JSC High-Speed Rail Linessaid infrastructure is of primary importance and in 2016 we have to position to make a difference. Along with movement of people and goods, we need to have integrated solution for countries, for example, develop the silk route. He said we can use the combination of roads and sea transport so that there is greater economic collaboration. New corridors of national and multinational perspectives need to be encouraged. There are different bilateral initiatives between Russia and India and Russia and China. The countries must focus on identifying possibility for advanced transportation.

South Africa has the most advanced financial market, said George Sebulela, President and Chief Executive, Sebvest Holdings, spoke about the immense opportunities that exist in the African continent. He said that Africas major developmental challenge is its inadequate infrastructure. An estimated funding of USD 85 billion is required for infrastructure. South Africa is driving a flagship project n++North South Corridorn++ which encompasses development of road, rail, ports and ICT. There is a need to build a regular value chain. The New Development Bank is definitely an added platform for financing. It has to develop instruments of funding other than the conventional ways.

Dongwei Shi, Vice President, Alibaba Group discussed infrastructure development from an ICT perspective. He highlighted how that the emergence of the internet and digital is transforming the very fabric of an economy and ecommerce has found its place at the heart of this transformation. E-commerce is one of the fastest growing segments as global B2B and B2C business on e-commerce has seen exponential increase. He mentioned how Alibaba, over the last 17 years, has supported the development of global e-commerce infrastructure, enabling enhanced capabilities in logistics, digital payments, and cloud computing.

The digital economy, he said, has enormous potential and Alibaba is committed to working with local partners to explore more opportunities for global SMEs. Close cooperation and partnership among BRICS nations, is the key to envisage this potential, he affirmed. Mr. Drummond, Director of Institutional Relations, Queiroz Galvao, spoke about the infrastructure development initiatives in Brazil. The government has created partnership programs to coordinate with the government and public. The government is zeroing on 33 big infrastructure projects which includes highways, harbours, ports and airports to be completed by next year. Transparency and regulatory methods have been adopted. Joint ventures in the projects are also being encouraged, he said.

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NDB to emerge as South-South financial institution Bank to promote innovative mechanisms to become responsive and client-oriente
Oct 14,2016

The New Development Bank (NDB), which was established in July 2014, to extend loans initially to its five founding members n++ Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is set to offer long-term funding to other emerging economies that have a shared economic development philosophy. In time, NDB is expected to emerge as a SouthSouth financial institution, said Xian Zhu, Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, New Development Bank (NDB) at the BRICS Business Forum (BBF) organized by BRICS Business Council, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and CII.

Zhu said that the primary objective of the bank is to fund infrastructure and renewable energy projects and meet the aspirations of people through sustainable and green development. The focus of the bank is to address the increasingly huge demands being placed on infrastructural financing in view of the low growth rate in the BRICS member countries. He added that NDB was established to alleviate the problem of securing long-term development financing.

Speaking about Public Private Partnership (PPP), Zhu said that the bank was looking at initiating discussions with the private sector to develop PPP model at the global level for projects. The banks idea is to leverage financial resources and fund long term infrastructure projects. NDB aspires to bring about innovative funding mechanisms and wants to emerge as a business institution which is faster in its processes, more responsive, client-oriented and result-oriented.

Zhu said that NDB is open to finance non-BRICS member countries as well which are members in the United Nations. NDB is ready to welcome non-BRICS emerging economies to avail long term financing. The bank wants to play a constructive role in developing economies.

Besides green projects, Mr. Zhu said that NDB will finance other infrastructure projects as well. The bank will try and develop these projects as sustainable and green projects as far as possible to align with the global trend. Speaking on rating, he said that NDB requires an international rating agency.

He said that all the BRICS countries have made their first tranche of paid-in capital, on time and in full. To reduce exchange-rate risks on borrowings, the bank has started extending loans in domestic currencies. This is particularly important as developing countries struggle with high interest rates that are pegged to the dollar, leading to spiraling debt.

Zhu said that NDBs vision is not restricted to funding infrastructure requirements but envisages building a knowledge sharing platform among the developing countries and promote sustainable development. He added that NDB will also allow the BRICS economies to integrate and facilitate trade and investment by creating opportunities for development of the BRICS countries.

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Issue of Disability Pension for Defence Forces Personnel referred to 7th CPC Anomaly Committee
Oct 14,2016

The 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) recommended a slab based system for determining the disability pension for Defence Forces Personnel, which was accepted by the Government. Percentage based system was followed in the 6th CPC regime for calculating disability pension for Defence Forces Personnel as well as Civilians.

Service Headquarters have represented that the percentage based system should be continued under the 7th CPC for calculating disability pension for Defence Services at par with their Civilian counterparts.

The Ministry has referred the representation of the Service Headquarters to the Anomaly Committee of 7th CPC for consideration.

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PetroFed signs MoU with TERI to undertake a study on Climate Change Risks
Oct 14,2016

PetroFed, an apex society of entities in the Hydrocarbon sector, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with TERI to undertake study on n++Climate Change Risks: Preparedness for Oil and Gas Sectorn++.

Lauding the initiative, Sh. Pradhan said that it will provide a missing link between the policy and the practice in the Hydrocarbon sector. He said Cop 21 will come into effect soon and it is important for the country to know the effects of greenhouse gases and ways to control them.

Cop21-The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 was held in Paris, France, from 30 November to 12 December 2015. It was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

The conference negotiated the Paris Agreement, a global agreement on the reduction of climate change, the text of which represented a consensus of the representatives of the 196 parties attending it. The agreement will enter into force when joined by at least 55 countries which together represent at least 55 percent of global greenhouse emissions. On 22 April 2016 (Earth Day), 174 countries signed the agreement in New York, and began adopting it within their own legal systems (through ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession).

The Minister said that India is a low per capita energy consumer but as the country is moving towards double-digit growth rate, its energy consumption is bound to increase. The Government is focusing on gas, renewable energy and bio-energy to meet its requirements. It is important to understand the implications of various energy sources and to develop an Indian model for the nations energy sector.

Sh. Pradhan emphasised on scientific research, appropriate business models and creation of awareness among the people. He said that this study will provide important inputs for future strategy on oil and gas infrastructure development. He stated that the study will also provide a comprehensive analysis of threats posed by Climate change to Oil & Gas sector and shall provide a way forward to tackle the challenges posed by climate change. The study will suggest suitable measures for the Oil & Gas sector to achieve Indias INDC target of reducing emission intensity of GDP by 33 - 35 per cent below the levels in 2005 by 2030. The study would further highlight how the global market and technological options are likely to change as a result of global climate policy measures; and how the 1.5 degree and 2 degree scenarios of global warming are likely to affect the infrastructure and operations in different climatic zones of India.

The Minister said the share of gas in the Indian energy basket is 6.5 to 7 per cent while the world average is 24 per cent. India aspires to take the share of gas to 15 per cent in the next 3 to 5 years so as to have a new gas based economy. He said 80 lakh connections have been provided under the Prime Minister Ujjwala Yojana to BPL women and target of 1.5 crore will be achieved this year. The Minister said the country will zoom from BS IV to BS VI by 2020 so as to have clean fuel. He said there is a large scope of energy efficiency in Indian Refineries. On the issue of 2G Ethanol, Sh. Pradhan said Public Sector Companies are setting up 11 plants to manufacture 2G Ethanol. He said the Government wants to promote the LNG as a fuel for vehicles. Efforts are being made to have LNG driven bus in Kerala very soon. Long haul driven vehicles and trains would also adopt LNG as fuel. The LNG handling capacity is being enhanced from 21 MMT to 50 MMT. In Eastern India, the Government is laying 2500km long pipeline which will provide gas to industry and help in gas distribution in 7 cities of Eastern India.

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CPI inflation dips to 13-month low of 4.3% in September 2016
Oct 13,2016

The all-India general CPI inflation dipped to 13-months low of 4.31% in September 2016 (new base 2012=100), compared with 5.05% in August 2016. The corresponding provisional inflation rate for rural area was 4.96% and urban area 3.64% in September 2016 as against 5.87% and 4.22% in August 2016. The core CPI inflation moved up to 4.77% in September 2016 from 4.59% in August 2016. The cumulative CPI inflation rose to 5.40% in April-September 2016 compared with 4.51% in April-September 2015.

Among the CPI components, inflation of food and beverages declined to 4.12% in September 2016 from 5.83% in August 2016 contributing to the fall in CPI inflation. Within the food items, the inflation eased for vegetables to (-) 7.21%, pulses and products 14.33%, spices 8.10%, meat and fish 5.83%, oils and fats 4.65% and milk and products 4.27%. On the other hand, inflation moved up for fruits to 6.07%, prepared meals, snacks, sweets etc. 5.81%, sugar and confectionery 25.77% and cereals and products 4.17% in September 2016.

The inflation for housing eased to 5.18%, while that for miscellaneous items inched up to 4.51% in September 2016. Within the miscellaneous items, the inflation for transport and communication rose to 2.70% and Health 4.67%, while eased for personal care and effects to 7.67%, household goods and services 4.32% and recreation and amusement 3.97% in September 2016.

The inflation for clothing and footwear was flat at 5.19% in September 2016, while the CPI inflation of fuel and light increased 3.07% in September 2016.

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Plunging Capital Goods Output Dragged IIP
Oct 13,2016

A persistent contraction in capital goods output, which reflects a lacklustre investment demand, led to a contraction in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) growth, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). IIP contracted 0.7% yoy in August 2016, as against Ind-Ras forecast of negative 0.2% .

Ind-Ra further opines the industrial growth is unlikely to return to a sustained positive growth path so long as the private sector investment cycle does not revive. The sustained large contraction in capital goods output for 10 consecutive months since November 2015 is a clear pointer that investment demand is down and out and its recovery is nowhere in sight.

IIP witnessed a broad-based weakness in August 2016 with a sharp contraction in mining, negligible growth in electricity, and a 0.3% decline in manufacturing output (75.5% weight in IIP; July: negative 3.5%yoy). Although mining has not been doing well now for more than five years, but a contraction in growth in August 2016 was witnessed after a gap of 13 months. It appears that despite the legal hurdles plaguing this sector subsiding over the past one year, the pain is still not over. Surprisingly, electricity which had been one of the better performing sectors at the broad classification level is also showing fatigue. This was the second consecutive month in which electricity growth remained in the low single-digit level.

At the use based level, capital goods output continued its negative trend. Capital goods output contracted 22.2%yoy in August 2016 against a contraction of 29.5% yoy in the previous month. Basic, intermediate and consumer goods growth though remained in the positive territory, they were not encouraging and came in at low single-digit levels. Consumer durables growth moderated to 2.3% in August from around 6% in the previous three months.

Usually, consumer durables show better growth during August and September, led by the creation of inventory for the festival season. Part of the moderation in consumer durables growth could be attributed to a high base effect, as the sector grew 17% yoy in August 2015. Nevertheless, the sustained positive growth witnessed in consumer durables sector since June 2015 bodes well for the overall health of the manufacturing sector, notwithstanding the dismal performance of the capital goods sector. In the classical case of manufacturing/industrial revival, the demand impulses are first felt by the consumer sector before they are transmitted to the basic/intermediates goods sector. The capital goods sector responds to the demand impulse towards the end. Given the existence of excess capacity in several manufacturing sectors, the capital goods sector is unlikely to do well which is reflected in the overall IIP data. However, Ind-Ra believes that in case the consumer goods sector shows sustained growth in the near-term, it may lead to a classical manufacturing/industrial revival as described above.

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116.9% Growth in Foreign Tourists Arrival on E-Tourist Visa in September-2016 Over The Same Period in 2015
Oct 13,2016

A total of 68,809 foreign tourists arrived in September 2016 on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 31,729 during the month of September 2015 registering a growth of 116.9%. UK (15.5%) continues to occupy top slot followed by USA (12.4%) and China (9.0%) amongst countries availing e-tourist visa facility During September 2016.

The facility of e-Tourist Visa has been made available by the Government of India to the citizens of 150 countries, arriving at 16 International Airports in India. The number of e-Tourist Visa availed by foreign tourists visiting India during the month of September, 2016 has registered a substantial growth rate over the corresponding month of 2015. The salient highlights of e-Tourist Visa for and up to the month of September during 2016 are as follows:-

During the month of September, 2016 a total of 68,809 foreign tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 31,729 during the month of September, 2015 registering a growth of 116.9%.

During January- September 2016, a total of 6,75,302 tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 2,01,705 during January-September 2015, registering a growth of 234.8%.

This high growth may be attributed to introduction of e-Tourist Visa for 150 countries as against the earlier coverage of 113 countries.

The percentage shares of top 10 source countries availing e-Tourist Visa facilities during September, 2016 were as follows:

UK (15.5%), USA (12.4%), China (9.0%), Australia (6.0%), Germany (4.8%), France (4.3%), Spain (3.6%), Canada (3.1%), UAE (2.6%) and Malaysia (2.6%).

The percentage shares of top 10 ports in tourist arrivals on e-Tourist Visa during September, 2016 were as follows:-

New Delhi Airport (51.71%), Mumbai Airport (21.06%), Bengaluru Airport (6.44%), Chennai Airport (6.27%), Kochi Airport (3.50%), Hyderabad Airport (2.45%), Kolkata Airport (2.34%),Trivandrum Airport (1.35%) , Amritsar Airport (1.18%) and Dabolim (Goa) Airport (1.11%) .

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Fitch: Reputation Risk Bigger Than Cost Impact of Samsung Recall
Oct 13,2016

Potential long-term brand damage from the recall and production suspension of Samsungs Galaxy Note 7 phone is a greater threat to its credit profile than the direct financial impact, which will be buffered by ample liquidity and a strong balance sheet, says Fitch Ratings.

The immediate impact of the Note 7 incident is unlikely to be significant enough, in itself, to affect Samsung Electronics (SEC) A+/Stable credit rating, which is supported by strong financial metrics that are in line with a higher rating. Fitch believes that the benefits of SECs diversified product portfolio have reduced its vulnerability to this shock. Its other divisions, such as semiconductors, displays and consumer electronics, continue to record robust operating performance.

However, the problems with the Note 7 have raised long-term uncertainty about SECs handset operations, as the issues with the flagship model have highlighted weaknesses both in R&D capabilities and the companys capacity to efficiently remedy serious hardware defects. Note 7 and other potential SEC handset customers may now chose Apple - SECs principal competitor in premium handsets - or mid-tier companies, if damage to the Samsung and Galaxy brands is sustained.

Industry experience, such as the decline of Nokia and BlackBerry, shows how successful manufacturers can lose market share particularly quickly in the handset business. This is due to the fast pace of technological change and the frequency with which many consumers change their handsets.

SEC revised down its preliminary 3Q16 results on 12 October 2016 from the previously announced figures. Operating profit decreased by one-third to KRW5.2trn (USD4.7bn), which is now 30% lower than the same quarter last year. The revision is to reflect the cost of the decision to scrap the Note 7, which is estimated to reach around KRW2.6trn (USD2.3bn). We expect SECs profit for the next few quarters to be affected by a loss of smartphone sales and additional expenses related to the Note 7, such as legal claims. Nevertheless, SECs balance sheet will remain healthy, underpinned by strong liquidity and relatively low debt. SEC had KRW73.2trn of cash and equivalents as of end-June 2016, sufficient to cover KRW12.3trn of total debt - which is mostly a trade-finance facility.

Samsung recalled 2.5 million Note 7 smartphones in September 2016 after a number of the units spontaneously burst into flame. Faulty batteries were blamed at first, and Samsung issued replacement phones that it claimed were safe. However, the new phones suffered the same problem, and Samsung asked consumers to switch off Note 7s on 11 October. All production and sales of Note 7 handsets have been stopped, and the model has been withdrawn.

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Cabinet approves new link between Sahibganj bypass in Jharkhand to Manihari bypass in Bihar including four lane bridge on river Ganga
Oct 13,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the construction of new link between Sahibganj bypass in Jharkhand to Manihari bypass in Bihar including four lane bridge on river Ganga.

The cost is estimated to be Rs.1954.77 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road to be developed is approximately 22 kms.

This work will be done under the National Highways (Others) on Hybrid Annuity Mode. The concession period of the Project is 19 years including a construction period of four years.

The new link road will be approximately 16 km long starting (km.200.87 of Sahibganj Pass in Jharkhand) to another six km long near Narenpur (junction of NH-133B and NH-131A on Manihari bypass in Bihar). This stretch also includes a four-lane Bridge on Ganga river.

The project will help in expediting the improvement of infrastructure in Bihar and Jharkhand and also in reducing the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying in the area in these States. The development of this stretch will also help in uplifting the socio-economic condition of this region in the State.

It would also increase employment potential for local labourers for project activities. It has been estimated that a total number of 4,076 mandays are required for construction of one kilometer of highway. As such, employment potential of 89,000 (approx.) mandays will be generated locally during the construction period of this stretch.

Background:

The new project highway is a new formation of the missing link at NH-131A to NH-133B connecting Sahibganj in Jharkhand and Manihari in Bihar. At present, there is a missing link between Jharkhand to Bihar as there is no Bridge on the river Ganga at this location. The vehicular traffic uses Vikramshila Setu at Bhagalpur on Farakka barrage thus travelling a long distance to reach their destinations in North Bihar.

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Cabinet approves revision of ethanol price for supply to Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies
Oct 13,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the mechanism for revision of ethanol price for supply to Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to carry out the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme in the following manner:

i. For the next sugar season 2016-17 during ethanol supply period from 1st December, 2016 to 30th November, 2017, the administered price of ethanol for the EBP Programme will be Rs.39/- per litre.

ii. Additionally, charges will be paid to the ethanol suppliers as per actuals in case of Excise Duty and VAT/GST and transportation charges as decided by OMCs.

iii. If the need arises to increase/reduce the retail selling price of Petrol by Public Sector OMCs, then such increase/reduction would proportionately factor in the requirement of maintaining the fixed cost of purchase of ethanol during the ethanol supply year.

iv. The prices of ethanol will be reviewed and suitably revised by Government at any time during the ethanol supply period that is from 1st December, 2016 to 30th November, 2017 depending upon the prevailing economic situation and other relevant factors.

The revision in ethanol prices will facilitate the continued policy of the Government in providing price stability and remunerative prices for ethanol suppliers.

Background: Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme was launched by the Government in 2003 which has been extended to the Notified 21 States and 4 Union Territories to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels. This intervention also sought to reduce import dependency for energy requirements.

However, since 2006, OMCs were not able to receive offers for the required quantity of ethanol against the tenders floated by them due to various constraints like State Specific issues, Supplier related issues including Pricing issues of ethanol.

In order to augment the supply of ethanol, a need was felt to put in place a new mechanism for pricing of ethanol. Accordingly, the Government on 10th December, 2014 decided that the delivered price of ethanol at OMC depots would be fixed in the range of Rs. 48.50 per litre to 49.50 per litre including Central/State Government taxes and transportation charges.

The decision has helped in significantly improving the supply of ethanol. Ethanol supplies increased to 67.4 crore litres in 2014-15 and the projected supplies for ethanol supply year 2015-16 are around 120 crore litres. The objective to fix the delivered price of ethanol has been achieved to a large extent. In view of firming of sugar prices, falling crude prices and consequent under-recoveries of OMCs on this account, a need to re-examine the pricing of ethanol under EBP Programme has been felt.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and the Russian Federation on Expansion of Bilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation
Oct 13,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the Russian Federation on Expansion of Bilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation.

The MoU would expand more Bilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation between India and Russian Federation.

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