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Nearly 10 lakh citizens get reward money over Rs.153.5 crore for embracing Digital Payments
Feb 21,2017

It has been 58 days since the launch of NITI Aayogs two incentive schemes - Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana to promote digital payments and the public response has been quite encouraging.

The initiative to make Digital Payments a mass movement in India through the two schemes has made a headway across the country with more and more people adopting digital transactions.

According to the latest figures released by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which has been executing the schemes, nearly 10 lakh consumers and merchants have been disbursed over Rs.153.5 crore as reward money till 20th February, 2017.

Highlights:

n++ Among the 9.8 lakh winners are more than 9.2 lakh consumers and 56,000 merchants.

n++ 120 consumers have won prize money worth Rs. 1 lakh each

n++ 4,000 merchants have won Rs. 50,000 prize money each

n++ Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi have emerged as the top five states/ Union Territory(s) with maximum number of winners

n++ Active participation was seen among females and males across regions

n++ Winners belong to diverse socio-economic backgrounds, from farmers, merchants, small entrepreneurs, professionals, housewives, students to retired persons.

n++ While majority of the winners are in the age group of 21 to 30, a significant number are also above 60 years of age.

n++ The diversity in age of winners is from 15 to 66 years, challenging the notion that the old find it difficult to embrace technology to adopt digital payments.

The winners have their own stories to tell it all as to how the switch over to digital payments has been le and how it has made the life easier for them. Sabir, a 22-year-old cab driver from Delhi won Rs. 1,00,000 under Lucky GrahakYojana for consumers. Digital payments are a blessing in disguise for him because he has to take care of his mother and differently-abled sister after the demise of his father and doesnt have time to stand in lines at the bank. Bhim Singh, a 29-year-old wheat farmer from Hissar in Haryana and winner under this initiative, now uses digital payments for buying supplies from wholesalers. Jayanthi SF, from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, a 29-year-old engineering student and mother to a six-year-old, is a proud winner of Rs. 1,00,000 under the scheme.

Among the merchants, Damodar Prasad Khandelwal, a 42-year-old grocery store owner from Alwar in Rajasthan, won Rs. 50,000 in the weekly prize under Digi-DhanVyaparYojana for merchants. Manju R Gowda, a 32-year-old fast-food restaurant owner in Mumbai is another winner of Rs. 50,000 under this scheme.

An analysis of the reward data also reveals winners as belonging to a wide geographical cross-section, including rural and urban areas spread across every State.

NITI Aayog has been organizing DigiDhanMelas at 110 cities across India, beginning December 25th, 2016.. It will go on every day until April 14, 2017. Till date, 59 DigiDhanMelas have been organized to take the digital payments movement to the masses across the country.

Background:

NITI Aayog launched two schemes on December 25, 2016 - Lucky GrahakYojna (LGY) for consumers and Digi-DhanVyaparYojna (DVY) for merchants to incentivize them and promote digital payments. The two schemes shall remain open till April 14, 2017. There are 15,000 daily winners qualifying for total prize money of Rs. 1.5 crore. In additional to this there are over 14,000 weekly winners qualifying for total prize money of over Rs. 8.3 crore every week.

Customers and merchants using RuPay Card, BHIM / UPI (Bharat Interface for Money / Unified Payments Interface), USSD based *99# service and Aadhaar Enabled Payment Service (AePS) are eligible for wining daily and weekly lucky draw prizes.

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M&A and InvITs in Infrastructure Sector to Account 12% of Total Equity Requirement
Feb 21,2017

Infrastructure deals particularly in road sector in the form of Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) is likely to gain traction in 2017, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The agency estimates INR0.4 trillion of funds to be raised by infrastructure sector from 25 major mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and InvITS in 2017. While this could support several cash strapped infrastructure developers, the high indebtedness and weak cash flow are likely to keep leverage at 7x-8x over FY18-FY20, marginally lower than the FY16 level of 8.5x. Ind-Ras analysis of 66 large borrowers in the infrastructure sector reflects that the deals would contribute only 12% of the total equity requirement of INR3 trillion-INR4 trillion to deleverage to a sustainable level of 4x-5x.

Road: Ind-Ra expects INR173 billion of funds to be raised by performing assets in the road sector through M&A deals and InvITs in 2017, due to monetisation of road projects (toll operate transfer) and tax efficiency. This contributes one-third of the total equity requirement to deleverage to a sustainable level. The sector is likely to benefit from the Union Budget 2017-18 budgetary allocation of INR0.9 trillion for road and highway segment, with an aim to stimulate private sector participation in the sector. This in Ind-Ras view would largely benefit the non-stressed players with a strong balance sheet. M&A activities in the stressed assets in the road sector are unlikely to witness a pick-up due to disagreements in valuations and the extent of debt hair-cuts required.

Thermal Power: Ind-Ra believes that domestic consolidation in the thermal sector will continue in 2017. The sector has been impacted by a sub-optimal plant load factor, weak cash flows and poor credit profile of distribution companies. An increase in the industrial electricity demand, an increasing pace of signing of new power purchase agreements and the successful implementation of Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana scheme would aid the ailing sector from a further distress. A potential equity of INR60 billion is likely to be unlocked from M&A deals in the thermal power sector. This in Ind-Ras view is negligible, since it accounts a mere 4% of the total equity requirement for deleveraging corporates to a sustainable level.

Renewable Energy (Wind and Solar): Ind-Ra expects INR69 billion of equity released from the renewable energy sector to contribute one-third of the sectors total equity requirement to deleverage to a sustainable level. The Union Budget thrust on the second phase of development of 20GW solar energy and solar tariffs approaching grid parity is likely to garner investors interest in to the sector. On the contrary, deal activities will be subdued in the wind energy sector due to halving of accelerated depreciation to 40% and lapse of generation-based incentives effective 1 April 2017.

Other Infrastructure: Ind-Ra believes M&A activities and InvITs in other sectors such as transmission, airport and ports are expected to unlock equity worth INR59 billion. Ind-Ras view M&A activities in these sectors to remain subdued in 2017 as majority of the consolidation in these sectors has already been taken.

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Pharma industry to reach USD 55 bn in 3 years; medical tourism major growth driver: ASSOCHAM-IITTM study
Feb 21,2017

Indian pharmaceuticals market is expected to touch US$ 55 billion by 2020 from the current level of US$ 36.7 billion in 2016 growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.92 per cent, according to ASSOCHAM-IITTM joint study.

Indian pharmaceuticals market increased at a CAGR of 17.46 per cent during 2005-16 with the market increasing from US$ 6 billion in 2005 to US$ 36.7 billion in 2016. By 2020, India is likely to be among the top three pharmaceutical markets by incremental growth and sixth largest market globally in absolute size, noted the study titled `Medical Value Travel (MVT),` jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and research firm Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM).

According to joint report, Indian Health Care is expected to rise at a rate of CAGR of 29% during 2015-20 to US $280 billion with rising income, greater health awareness, increased precedence of lifestyle diseases and improved access to insurance,

The year 2015 witnessed the growth of 140% of foreign tourist`s arrival on medical visa from the year 2013, where more than 50, 000 people visited India on medical visa. This number rose to approx 1,34,000 in 2015. In fact, the number of foreign tourist`s arrival on a medical attendant visa also doubled from 2013 to 2015, increasing from 42,000 odd in 2013 to more than 99,000 in 2015, adds the study.

The study reveals that in the first 6 months of 2016 alone, close to a lakh foreign tourists have arrived on a medical visa making it a very lucrative market. The top most countries availing medical visa were Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Republic of Korea and Nigeria.

The majority of the patients coming to India for treatment are from the Middle East, Africa, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Pakistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka for its expertise in cardiac and orthopaedic procedures, in addition to other specialised areas like neuro-surgeries, cancer treatment and organ transplantation. India is also attracting medical tourists looking for the traditional system of medicine available in India, noted the study.

The ability to offer holistic medical services such as Unani, Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda, and Homeopathic treatments (AYUSH) is also a huge attraction.

There are less numbers of accredited hospitals in India. Thailand being a smaller nation has 55 JCI accredited medical facilities. Lack of enough accredited medical facilities decreases the supply potentials of India as a medical tourism hub. Though the cost of treatment in India is less but there is high cost of accommodation which creates a barrier for low income group patients. There is also lack of proper regulatory and review framework related to medical tourism giving way to many legal and ethical issues.

Many problems arise due to lack of synergy between various stakeholders. Stringent medical visa rules also create a barrier as it makes the process of entering in the country difficult. This issue is high on radar due to the influx of medical tourist from ISIS hit countries which creates huge security issue for India, highlighted the joint study.

The government of India has recognized the potential of medical tourism and has come up with supporting policies. The Indian Ministry of Tourism is actively promoting medical tourism through overseas road shows where market development assistance (MDA) is provided to medical and wellness tourism service providers to encourage overseas promotion. The government has introduced medical visa to govern medical tourism. In order to further expand the healthcare system and enhance its quality, the government also actively provides incentives and giving special approvals to foreign firms for direct investments.

Indias cost of production is significantly lower than that of the US and almost half of that of Europe. It gives a competitive edge to India over others. Growing number of medical facilities are realizing the importance of accreditation and certification leading many labs and hospitals taking up accreditation and certification. This could increase the number of accredited facilities in India.

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NDMA to conduct mock exercises on earthquake preparedness in Uttarakhand
Feb 21,2017

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) will conduct two mock exercises on earthquake preparedness in this week covering all districts of Uttarakhand. The exercises, to be conducted in collaboration with the State Government, will assess the readiness of various stakeholder departments in the event of a high-intensity earthquake.

The first exercise will be held today (21 February) and cover Dehradun, Tehri Garhwal, Haridwar, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Pauri Garhwal and Rudraprayag districts. In this connection, a coordination conference and a table-top exercise were held today through video-conferencing. Senior officials from all stakeholder departments such as NDRF, Health, Police, Education, Firefighting, Civil Defense, Public Relations, Transport, etc. attended these preparatory meetings.

Yet another round of a coordination conference and a table-top exercise will be held on Wednesday. This will be followed by the second mock exercise on Thursday covering Pithoragarh, Bageshwar, Champawat, Almora, Nainital and Udham Singh Nagar districts.

These exercises will deal with simulated scenarios of earthquakes wherein the participants will be trained on key aspects of Disaster Management such as the formation of Incident Response Teams and Emergency Operation Centres (EOC), coordination among various participating agencies, evacuation and medical preparedness.

Aimed at enhancing the preparedness and response mechanism of key stakeholders, these exercises will also help to highlight areas that need improvements. NDMA expert Major General V.K. Datta (Retd.), who will lead the exercises, said, Mock exercises help in filling gaps and ensuring better communication thus improving coordination among various agencies in real-life situations. He further emphasised on the need for regularly conducting such exercises in Uttarakhand as the entire hill State falls either in the Seismic Zone V or IV and has experienced many high-intensity earthquakes in the past.

After the drills, post-exercise analyses will also be carried out to discuss the shortcomings, challenges and ways to improve them.

NDMA regularly conducts such mock exercises across the country in its efforts to improve preparedness and response mechanisms for various disasters. NDMA has conducted more than 500 mock exercises in different States and Union Territories. Next month, it will conduct a mock exercise on flood and tsunami preparedness in Puducherry.

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Health Secretary launches SAATHIYA Resource Kit and SAATHIYA SALAH Mobile App for Adolescents
Feb 20,2017

Shri C K Mishra, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare launched the SAATHIYA Resource Kit including Saathiya Salah Mobile App for adolescents, here today, as part of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) program. One of the key interventions under the programme is introduction of the Peer Educators (Saathiyas) who act as a catalyst for generating demand for the adolescent health services and imparting age appropriate knowledge on key adolescent health issues to their peer groups. In order to equip the Saathiyas in doing so, the Health Ministry has launched the Saathiya Resource Kit (including Saathiya Salah Mobile App).

Introducing the Resource Kit and the Mobile App, Shri C K Mishra said that our country is home to 253 million adolescents which is largest in the world in terms of absolute numbers and when RMNCH programs were launched globally, India was the first country to add the +A i.e. adolescent component to the RMNCH, making it todays RMNCH+A program. He emphasized that adolescents are the critical mass of asset which in future would be the biggest dividends to the countrys economy; thereby their health and wellness are of utmost priority. To address and cater to the health and development needs of the countrys adolescents, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) in January 2014. RKSK identifies six strategic priorities for adolescents i.e. nutrition, sexual and reproductive health (SRH), non-communicable diseases (NCDs), substance misuse, injuries and violence (including gender-based violence) and mental health.

The most important component and driving force of RKSK program are its Peer Educators and this resource kit has been launched to enable them to communicate with the adolescents of their community, Shri Mishra stated. He specified that the kit is being launched to enable the 1.6 lakhs Peer Educators towards taking their job forward and answering all the queries in the minds of an adolescent in-spite of the plethora of media (Magazines, TV, internet etc.) available. The Peer Educators will be trained across the country in a phased manner, ensuring optimum use of the resource kit, which is a ready source of a range of communication material specially designed to help the Peer Educator to be recognized and respected as saathiya, a good friend for the adolescents.

This Resource Kit comprises i) Activity Book, ii) Bhranti-Kranti Game iii) Question-Answer Book and iv) Peer Educator Diary. In addition to the kit is the mobile app Saathiya Salah (downloadable from Google play-store) which acts as a ready information source for the adolescents in case they are unable to interact with the Peer Educators. The mobile app is also linked to another important piece of cost-effective information platform of a toll-free Saathiya Helpline (1800-233-1250) which will act as an e-counselor. While the short films will be played by the Peer Educators at their group meetings, the activity book and games will bring about discussion and resolve adolescent queries. Encashing on mobile technology, the shy adolescents or those unable to interact with the peer educators due to family reasons, can access the information through the free mobile app as well the toll free helpline.

Among senior officials of the Ministry at the launch, also present were the representatives of Development Partners (UNFPA, PFI) who contributed to development of the Resource Kit. Mr. Diega Polacios, Country Director,UNFPA stated that the Resource Kit has being designed to present the Peer Educators with key information on adolescent health, which would then enable them to communicate the same and help the adolescents at the grass root/village level. Further at the launch, demo of the Mobile App was conducted wherein a mock call was made to the Saathiya Helpline by Secretary (HFW).

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MoU signed between NSFDC, M/O SJ&E & Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), M/O of Textiles
Feb 20,2017

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation NSFDC, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles.

The basic objective of the MoU is to help Scheduled Caste artisans and their families by promoting production and marketing of high value quality Handicrafts products at cluster level in the field of Handicrafts, Cane & Bamboo, Artificial jewellery, Textiles (Hand printed, Hand Embroidery), Dolls & Toys, Stone Carving, Footwear, etc.

Handicrafts Sector is the second largest economic activity after agriculture. There are around 12 lakh scheduled castes artisans in the country. Most of the Scheduled Caste Artisans are pursuing various Handicrafts such as Cane & Bamboo in Assam, Textiles (Hand printed) in Gujarat & Punjab, Metal wares in Uttar Pradesh, Dolls & Toys in Karnataka, Theatre Costumes & Puppets in Andhra Pradesh etc.

In this endeavor, both the MoU signing parties shall popularize the schemes of DC (Handicrafts) amongst the SC artisans through Awareness Programmes and advertisements in electronic/print media in artisan concentrated areas and collaborate for capacity building including skill upgradation and economic development of SC artisans and their families for achieving the desired outcome.

Exhibitions/Fairs shall be organized by both the parties for providing marketing assistance to SC artisans for enhancing their earnings. Both the parties shall also organize relevant skill development programmes for upgradation of skills of the Scheduled Caste Artisans in clusters and also for sharing knowledge and experience. These efforts will provide marketing linkage to SC artisans/entrepreneurs in the country.

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90,095 more affordable houses sanctioned for urban poor under PMAY(Urban)
Feb 20,2017

Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation approved construction of 90,095 more affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) with an investment of Rs.5,590 cr and central assistance of Rs.1,188 cr.

Madhya Pradesh has been sanctioned 82,262 houses in 49 cities and towns with an investment of Rs.5,260 cr with central assistance of Rs.1,071 cr. Jammu & Kashmir got 4,915 houses in 24 cities and towns with an investment of Rs.240 cr and central assistance of Rs.74 cr. Dadra & Nagar Havelis capital Silvassa has been sanctioned 803 affordable houses with an investment of Rs.26 cr and central assistance of Rs.12 cr.

The approval accorded today was for construction of 46,823 new houses under the Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) component of PMAY (Urban), enhancement of 773 houses in Jammu & Kashmir under BLC and building 42,499 new houses in Madhya Pradesh under Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) component.

In Madhya Pradesh, another 39,763 new houses will be built under BLC component under which an eligible beneficiary is assisted to build a house on the land owned by him/her.

City-wise approvals in Madhya Pradesh include: Indore-30,789 houses, Ratlam-6,419, Sagar-3,156, Ujjain-2,884, Katni-2,800, Shivpuri-2,625, Chindwara-2,508, Nagda-2,073, Jabalpur-2,012, Datia-1,726, Singrauli-1,716, Dabra-1,720, Vidisha-1,513, Damoh-1,480, Sehore-1,200, Sidhi-1,057, Astha-1,000 and Unchehara-1,000.

In Jammu & Kashmir, Srinagar has been approved 663 affordable houses, Handwara-602, Badgam-476, Baramulla-393, Doda-306, Pulwama-270, Kargil-261, Sopore-205, Ganderbal-185, Bhaderwah-176, Shopian-159, RS Pura-143, Samba-121, Kishtwar-113, Leh-99 and Poonch-96.

With this, total number of affordable houses approved for Madhya Pradesh under PMAY(Urban) has increased to 1,87,135 and for Jammu & Kashmir to 5,864.

With this approvals, construction of a total number of 16,51,687 affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor has been sanctioned so far under PMAY (Urban) with a total investment of Rs.89,072 cr with central assistance of Rs.25,819 cr.

Under BLC and AHP components of PMAY (Urban), central assistance of Rs.1.50 lakh is provided for each beneficiary.

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MoU signed for welfare of Handicraft Artisans belonging to Scheduled Castes
Feb 20,2017

Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment have come together to step up interventions for the economic development of an estimated 12 lakh scheduled caste artisans. An MoU was signed between Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles and National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSCFDC), a Central PSU under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, with the objective of working together to improve the earnings of artisans across the country, belonging to Scheduled Castes categories.

The MoU provides for continuous and extensive collaboration between Office of DC (Handicrafts) and NSCDFC, aiming at the following:

Need assessment and gap identification through popularising various schemes by holding awareness camps

Extensive need-based skill upgradation in the identified clusters having dominant presence of Scheduled Caste artisans, in the field of innovative and market-friendly designs, and adoption of modern tools and techniques

Enhanced participation of Scheduled Caste artisans and their producer groups in domestic and international marketing events

Working capital credit for Scheduled Caste artisans at concessional rates, by combining the benefits provided by Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

It has also been agreed in the MoU that the Office of the DC(Handicrafts) through its various schemes, will support NSCDFC in formulation of project reports, undertaking field studies for identifying felt needs of Scheduled Caste artisans, in addition to extending assistance of six Regional Offices and 52 Marketing & Service Extension Centres of the Office of the DC(Handicrafts).

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Fitch: Samsung Arrest Negative for Image but Credit Stays Intact
Feb 20,2017

The arrest of the heir apparent to the Samsung conglomerate, Lee Jae-yong, is unlikely to disrupt the companys day-to-day operations or significantly undermine its strong financial performance, which is underpinned by Samsungs market dominance and technology leadership, says Fitch Ratings. However, the arrest is likely to delay strategic investment and weigh on investor sentiment, at least in the short term. It also poses another potential risk to the brands reputation.

The arrest is likely to put on hold strategic decisions - including those over plans for global acquisitions - which were outlined by Mr Lee. However, each of Samsungs business segments is run by its own professional management team. Day-to-day operations are therefore likely to be unaffected by Mr Lees absence - as has also been the case when heads of chaebols have been arrested or prosecuted in the past.

Mr Lee - whose official position is vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. (SEC, A+/Stable) - faces charges of perjury, embezzlement and bribery over claims that Samsung gave funds to President Park Geun-hyes adviser in exchange for political favours. His arrest has received considerable international attention and could have a negative impact on Samsungs image, particularly if the trial process becomes lengthy. The negative publicity also comes fresh on the heels of the recall and production suspension of the Galaxy Note 7 phone, which Fitch viewed as a potential threat to Samsungs brand.

There is no immediate impact on SECs credit rating, which is supported by its technological leadership, its dominant position in its core markets, and strong financial metrics. SEC operates in sectors such as the handset business, where market share can shift quickly. However, SECs long-term market leadership is likely to hinge on its ability to continue delivering innovative products, and we would expect the recent damage to the companys image to be overcome by future strong product offerings.

In that respect, SECs financial position supports its ability to fund the substantial capital expenditure that keeps it among the worlds leading technology companies. It appears to be taking particular care with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8, which has been delayed to allow for extra quality control and safety tests to ensure there is no repeat of the Note 7 fiasco.

Mr Lees arrest highlights corporate governance weaknesses at Samsung, but it may also increase pressure on the company to address these problems. The Samsung conglomerate had previously announced it will disband its future and strategy office - used to make the groups key decisions - which was under public scrutiny for favouring the Lee family over the interests of other stakeholders. This office could now remain in place until Mr Lees case is resolved. However, the increased scrutiny on Samsung, and the rising clamour for a more general change in Koreas corporate culture, means that we expect Samsung to make further changes to its structure in favour of shareholder interests, greater transparency and improved governance.

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Fitch: House Price Growth to Slow Sharply in Hottest APAC Markets
Feb 20,2017

House price growth is likely to decelerate sharply in several Asia-Pacific (APAC) markets in 2017, as affordability constraints, increasing supply and tighter lending and regulatory standards dampen price dynamics, Fitch Ratings says in its latest Global Housing and Mortgage Outlook.

Australia, New Zealand and China, the markets with the regions biggest recent price rises, will experience a pronounced and overdue slowdown. We expect them to record single-digit house price growth, rather than the double-digit growth experienced last year. However, stable or improving economic growth and employment, coupled with low interest rates, limited supply and continued population growth, will support price increases in all but one of the six APAC economies covered in Fitchs report, even though prices are now out of line with incomes in several markets. Only Singapore is expected to see house prices fall, with Fitch forecasting prices to drop by a further 4% after three consecutive years of decline.

Fitch forecasts Australian nominal house-price gains to slow across the countrys eight capital cities to 3% in 2017, from 10.9% in 2016, although population growth will support prices in Sydney and Melbourne despite stretched affordability. Falling rental yields, increasing supply and fewer prospects for capital growth will weigh on the market, particularly in regional areas. Tighter lending standards, including growth limits on banks investment loan portfolios, should dampen demand.

Demand for housing in New Zealand remains strong, particularly in Auckland and surrounding areas, but we expect nominal house-price growth to slow to 5% nationally on affordability pressure and tighter regulation. Measures of relative home price expensiveness have deteriorated more in New Zealand since 2010 than in any other country covered by our report. New Zealand also had the largest regional price-growth disparity over the last four years, with a difference of over 80 percentage points between Auckland, where prices increased by some 76.3%, and those on the West Coast, which saw prices fall by 5.1% over the same period.

We expect a sharp drop in Chinas tier 1 city house-price growth to 2.5%, from a 25% rise in 2016 and several years of rapid price increases, partly in response to tougher rules on home purchases and minimum loan deposits. The market should also cool in other tiers, although at varying rates. However, we do not anticipate a major correction, as the Chinese authorities directly control many aspects of the housing and mortgage markets. Ongoing urbanisation, low interest rates and strong income growth will also support prices.

House price gains in Japan and South Korea are forecast to slow marginally. Ageing demographics are a long-term constraint in both markets, although the 2020 Olympic games will drive Tokyo prices higher in the near-term. Oversupply and high household indebtedness in South Korea will gradually soften the market.

Singapore is the only APAC market for which we have a stable/negative outlook. An influx of new supply, slowing immigration, a soft economy and ongoing measures to cool the property market are likely to continue to dampen sentiment. However, mortgage delinquencies for the major banks should remain low - in line with the healthy labour market and strong household balance sheets, even as short-term rates rise over the next two years.

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Moodys: World Banks financial position remains robust due to strong capital base
Feb 20,2017

The financial position of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD or World Bank, Aaa stable) remains robust reflecting a strong capital base and liquidity position and substantial protection from large callable capital, says Moodys Investors Service in a report.

The IBRDs strict lending limitations, combined with its diversified portfolio composition and stable asset quality, ensure that it has sufficient capital to cope with its business risk. The bank uses various safeguards, including statutory lending limits, to protect its capital adequacy.

Under the lenders preferred creditor status, members of the World Bank Group, who are also the borrowers, pledge to prioritize debt service to the IBRD over other obligations, such as payments to market or bilateral creditors.

The IBRDs strong capital base should allow it to withstand crises in developing countries without impairing its ability to service its obligations, said William Foster, a Vice President and Senior Credit Officer at Moodys.

The IBRDs assets continue to perform very well, with only one country, Zimbabwe (unrated), in so-called nonaccrual status as of the end of the fiscal year (FY) 2016. Unlike some other multilaterals, the IBRD does not reschedule or write off its problem loans. Instead, it continues to seek full recovery of all arrears.

Problem loans at the bank have steadily decreased since FY 2005 when the ratio of non-performing loans to total loans outstanding reached 3.4%.

As a result of its development mandate and global scope, the bank lends to riskier sovereigns, some of which have no, or very limited access, to capital markets. The potential challenges arising from its lending activity partially offset its strengths.

There is a low probability that the IBRD could experience a material rise in non-performing loans should there be simultaneous financial crises that impact several large borrowers at once, or a regional crisis in one of its largest borrowing regions.

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Food processing sector to generate 9 million jobs by 2024: study
Feb 20,2017

Indian food processing sector has potential to attract US$ 33 billion of investment and generate employment of 9 million persons days by FY 2024, said an ASSOCHAM-Grant Thorton Research paper.

The food processing is a key contributor to employment generation in India. The policymakers have identified food processing as a key sector in encouraging labour movement from agriculture to manufacturing. By 2024, food processing sector is expected to employ 9 million people in India and expected to generate about 8,000 direct and 80,000 indirect jobs in the state, the ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton joint study on Food Retail: Investment: Infrastructure noted.

According to the study, Indian food processing industry is pegged close to US$ 121 billion to US$ 130 billion. With the second largest arable land in the world, it is the largest producer of milk, pulses, sugarcane and tea in the world and the second largest producer of wheat, rice, fruits and vegetables.

Despite the massive production, the degree of processing is low and ranges between 2 to 35 percent for different produce. India is one of the top rankers in the production of bananas, guavas, ginger, papaya etc., although processing levels in the country remain limited. This indicates an extensive opportunity in the food processing sector, adds the paper.

According to the joint study, Indian food and retail market is projected to touch US$ 482 billion by FY 2020 from the current level of US$ 258 billion in 2015, adds the paper.

With globalisation and increasing trade across the borders approximately about 460 million tons of food valued at US$ 3 billion is traded annually. India has thus, a great potential for global trade in agricultural and processed food products. The share of food processing exports in total exports was around 12 percent in the last few years. During FY 2011-15, Indias exports of processed food related products have been growing at a CAGR of 23.3 percent.

The unorganised sector accounts for 42 percent of Indias food processing industry. The sizeable presence of small-scale industries points to the sectors role in employment generation. As per the study, though the market falls under the unorganised sector in the country, the organised sector has a larger share in the secondary processing segment than the primary one.

Food and grocery constitute a substantial part of Indias consumption basket accounting for around 31 percent share in the total. In contrast, consumers in other countries spend a much lower proportion of their income on food and groceryn++9 percent in the United States (US), 17 percent in Brazil and 25 percent in China. Food and grocery is the largest segment in Indias retail sector, with a share of more than 60 percent in Indias total retail market in 2014.

India is the worlds second largest producer of food after China. The arable land area of 159.7 mn hectares (394.6 mn acres) is the second largest in the world (after the US). India has a strong raw material base for the food processing industry. India is one of the largest producers of certain fruits, vegetables, pulses, cereals and dairy products such as mangoes, papaya, potatoes, onions, ginger, check peas, rice, wheat, groundnuts, milk and eggs among others.

Strong demand growth

n++ Demand for food processed food rising with growing disposable income, urbanisation, young population and nuclear families

n++ Household consumption set to double by 2020

n++ Changing lifestyle and increasing expenditure on health and nutritional foods

Food processing hub

n++ Indian benefits from large agriculture sector, abundant livestock and cost competitiveness

n++ Investment opportunities arise in agriculture, food infrastructure and contract farming

n++ Diverse agro-climatic conditions encourage cultivation of different crop

Increasing investment

n++ Govt. expect US$ 21.9 bn of investment in food processing infrastructure by 2015

n++ Investment including FDI would rise with strengthening demand and supply fundamentals

n++ Launch of infrastructure development schemes to increase investment in food processing infrastructure

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Gartner Says Worldwide Business Intelligence and Analytics Market to Reach $18.3 Billion in 2017
Feb 18,2017

Global revenue in the business intelligence (BI) and analytics software market is forecast to reach $18.3 billion in 2017, an increase of 7.3 percent from 2016, according to the latest forecast from Gartner, Inc. By the end of 2020, the market is forecast to grow to $22.8 billion.

According to Gartner, modern BI and analytics continues to expand more rapidly than the overall market, which is offsetting declines in traditional BI spending. The modern BI and analytics platform emerged in the last few years to meet new organizational requirements for accessibility, agility and deeper analytical insight, shifting the market from IT-led, system-of-record reporting to business-led, agile analytics including self-service.

The modern BI and analytics market is expected to decelerate, however, from 63.6 percent growth in 2015 to a projected 19 percent by 2020. Gartner believes this reflects data and analytics becoming mainstream. The market is growing in terms of seat expansion, but revenue will be dampened by pricing pressure.

Purchasing decisions continue to be influenced heavily by business executives and users who want more agility and the option for small personal and departmental deployments to prove success, said Rita Sallam, research vice president at Gartner. Enterprise-friendly buying models have become more critical to successful deployments.

Gartner believes the rapidly evolving modern BI and analytics market is being influenced by the following seven dynamics:

1. Modern BI at scale will dominate new buying n++ While business users initially flocked to new modern tools because they could be used without IT assistance, the increased need for governance will serve as the catalyst for renewed IT engagement. Modern BI tools that support greater accessibility, agility and analytical insight at the enterprise level will dominate new purchases.

2. New innovative and established vendors will drive the next wave of market disruption n++ The emergence of smart data discovery capabilities, machine learning and automation of the entire analytics workflow will drive a new flurry of buying because of its potential value to reduce time to insights from advanced analytics and deliver them to a broader set of people across the enterprise. While this smart wave is being driven by new innovative startups, traditional BI vendors that were slow to adjust to the current modern wave are driving it in some cases.

3. Need for complex datasets drives investments in data preparation n++ Business users want to analyze a diverse, often large and more complex combinations of data sources and data models, faster than ever before. The ability to rapidly prepare, clean, enrich and find trusted datasets in a more automated way becomes an important enabler of expanded use.

4. Extensibility and embeddability will be key drivers of expanded use and value n++ Both internal users and customers will either use more automated tools or will embed analytics in the applications they use in their context, or a combination of both. The ability to embed and extend analytics content will be a key enabler of more pervasive adoption and value from analytics.

5. Support for real-time events and streaming data will expand use n++ Organizations will increasingly leverage streaming data generated by devices, sensors and people to make faster decisions. Vendors need to invest in similar capabilities to offer buyers a single platform that combines real-time events and streaming data with other types of source data.

6. Interest in cloud deployments will continue to grow n++ Cloud deployments of BI and analytics platforms have the potential to reduce cost of ownership and speed time to deployment. However, data gravity that still tilts to the majority of enterprise data residing on-premises continues to be a major inhibitor to adoption. That reticence is abating and Gartner expects the majority of new licensing buying likely to be for cloud deployments by 2020.

7. Marketplaces will create new opportunities for organizations to buy and sell analytic capabilities and speed time to insight n++ The availability of an active marketplace where buyers and sellers converge to exchange analytic applications, aggregated data sources, custom visualizations and algorithms is likely to generate increased interest in the BI and analytics space and fuel its future growth.

Organizations will benefit from the many new and innovative vendors continuing to emerge, as well as significant investment in innovation from large vendors and venture capital-funded startups, said Ms. Sallam. They do, however, need to be careful to limit their technical debt that can occur when multiple stand-alone solutions that demonstrate business value quickly, turn into production deployments without adequate attention being paid to design, implementation and support.

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India Ratings Rates Indias First State Government Revenue Supported Bond Backed by RBI
Feb 18,2017

India Ratings and Research (India Ratings) on 16 February 2017 assigned U.P. Power Corporations (UPPCL) proposed INR100 billion bonds a Provisional IND AA(SO) rating with a stable outlook. This is Indias first state government revenue supported bond. India Ratings notes that while state/central government supported bonds, in the form of an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee are common, what makes this particular bond issue different from the bonds issued in the past is that in this case the entire state revenue is available for bond servicing. As the quarterly debt servicing of the proposed bond is only a fraction of the Uttar Pradesh state government revenue, India Ratings believes this structure will provide confidence to investors and timely servicing of the debt.

The rating action commentary: India Ratings Assigns U.P. Power Corporations Proposed Bonds Provisional IND AA(SO); Outlook Stable.

Another first for this transaction, is the structured debt servicing mechanism that is backed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Under this mechanism, in case the specially created bond servicing account falls short of the amount required to service the debt and later if the state government is unable to fund it by a specified date then RBI will debit the requisite amount from the government of UPs account with the RBI and credit it to the UPPCL bond servicing account one day prior to the due date of bond servicing. This structure is similar to the power bonds issued by the state governments in 2003. As part of the one-time settlement of the dues owed by state electricity boards to public sector undertakings namely, NTPC Limited (IND AAA/Stable), NHPC Limited (IND AAA/Stable), Power Grid Corporation of India Limited and coal public sector units. An agreement was thus reached between 27 state governments, Union Ministry of Power and RBI in 2003, to release these bonds for the state-owned firms.

The UPPCL bond also has other regular security features such as state guarantee and debt-service reserve account. India Ratings believes the innovative structure put in place to service the bonds has the potential to open a new and alternative funding line for state governments in India, besides also imposing fiscal discipline on the state governments.

Based on bond market yields and banks lending rates, India Ratings expects UPPCL to save interest cost of around INR2-2.5 billion annually. Similar to UPPCL many other state power distribution companies under financial strain could rely on such structures for funding.

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Constant improvement in ease of doing biz & robust infrastructure development imperative for Indias all round economic growth: Report
Feb 18,2017

The government needs to continuously invest in improving the ease of doing business environment, develop sound infrastructure, and ensure availability of trained workforce as India is set on a growth trajectory that promises all-round development, economic welfare and strong macro-economic indicators, noted a recent ASSOCHAM-EY report.

n++Improved governance, favourable conditions to conduct business, transparency in government procedures and responsive policy making with an immediate focus on effective implementation of government reforms will continue to evolve India into a preferred destination for foreign investment,n++ highlighted the report titled India: Transforming through radical reforms, jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and global advisory firm Ernst & Young (EY).

It also termed demonetisation as a major step aimed at strengthening Indias proposition of becoming a transparent economy by curbing black money, terror financing and fake currency circulating in the economy.

n++Combining demonetisation with Digital India and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna will ensure transparency in financial transactions. Transfer of subsidies through bank accounts opened under the scheme has removed the middlemen, thus eliminating one of the biggest contributors to corruption,n++ said the ASSOCHAM-EY report.

It also said that the GST (goods and services tax) which is expected to be rolled out by July 2017, will further boost the economy by simplifying the indirect tax structure, and eliminating the cascading effect of taxes on customers and make doing business easier in the country.

Hailing the Centres ambitious Make in India initiative, the report said that it has provided robust support to Indias manufacturing sector, backed by domestic demand and many regulatory reforms. It has helped India become the sixth largest manufacturing economy in the world in 2016.

Reforms like Power for All, Smart Cities, Skill India and Startup India are expected to work in tandem with Make in India to help the country achieve the goal of becoming a manufacturing hub, it added.

n++All these radical reforms are acting as enablers for boosting the domestic environment which in turn is improving the countrys stature globally,n++ further said the report. n++The major reforms from the Government will continue to boost investor sentiment and Indias outlook across the world.n++

It also complemented the Governments view of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship through reforms like Startup India and Skill India, to equip the young workforce to face the changing global economic environment and technological disruption.

While the pace of Indias radical reforms may vary, the direction is firmly set toward higher growth. The economy will continue to benefit from significant progress in trade, proactive policy actions and robust external buffers.

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