Business & Economy

NHAI awards contract for four-laning of Hiran River-Sindoor River section of NH-12 in MP

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued a Letter of Award (LOA) for the four-laning of the Hiran River-Sindoor River section of national highway (NH)-12 in Madhya Pradesh,
The work in the 64-km section to be executed at a cost of Rs 866.39 crore will be executed by Krishna Constructions-Gawar Construction Limited (JV), an official press release said.
The project would be implemented in the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) mode with a construction period of 24 months.  The project includes upgrading of the highway from two-lane to four-lane with rigid pavement (cement concrete road).
It also involves the construction of four major bridges, 20 minor bridges, nine underpasses at the location of a minor junction and 29 minor junctions for the free and safe movement of road users.
The project road passes for 13 km through a wildlife sanctuary in which 39.750 hectares (ha) of forest land is required for diversion. The road also passes through reserve and protected forest for two km length of which 11.081 ha. forest land is required for diversion. 
In order to facilitate free and safe movement of wildlife, adequate mitigation measures have been included in the project with an additional span of 5m on either side of the major bridges, provision of structures of size 5X3.5M at 25 locations.
On completion of the project, the journey on this highway stretch will become safer, saving time, fuel and vehicle maintenance cost, the release added.
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Ministry sets zero scrap balance target for all Zonal Railways.

The Railways Ministry has advised all General Managers of Zonal Railways to strictly monitor the e-auction of scrap.
The total scrap sales till December 2017 of the current financial year has reached Rs 1837 crore which is 22% higher than the corresponding sales of Rs 1503 crore up to December in the financial year 2016-17.
Earnings from the sale of scrap not only augments Railways' revenue but also helps in keeping the track, stations, workshops, depots neat and tidy, an official press release said.
In this regard, the Ministry has directed all Zonal Railway & Production units to achieve zero scrap balance by end of March 2018.  General Managers of all the Zonal Railways/PUs have been advised to regularly monitor this activity and to intensify supervision at senior officers’ level so as to promptly identify scrap and offer it for e-auction.
Indian Railways have been selling its internally generated scrap entirely through online e-auction.  Majority of the scrap material comprises worn-out rails and track fittings released from track renewal/gauge conversion, steel scrap generated in course of overhaul /repairs of rolling stocks, other non-ferrous and miscellaneous scrap.
The e-auction module is part of the IREPS (Indian Railways E-Procurement System) which is a single portal of Indian Railways handling all procurement tenders and e-auctions digitally. All the Zonal Railways and Production Units use this single platform for online sales of scrap. 
Monthlym on an average, 200 e-auctions are conducted by Materials Managers in Divisions and Stores Depots spread all over Indian Railways.  Auction schedules and details of saleable materials are published regularly on IREPS website and updated online, the release added.
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Transport infrastructure in Varanasi undergoing major overhaul

Union Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways Mansukh L Mandaviya today reviewed the progress of national highways works in and around the city, visited the Multi-Modal Terminal Hub being constructed under the World Bank aided Jal Marg Vikas project on river Ganga and inaugurated a Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendra.
 Mr Mandaviya held a meeting with the officers of Project Implementation Unit (PIU) of Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and Regional Officers of NHAI.
At present, seven National Highways works worth Rs 5260 crore are being executed in  Varanasi city.  Two road projects with the estimated cost of Rs 5,764 crore are in the pipeline.
The Minister visited the Multi-Modal Terminal hub at Varanasi, being constructed at a cost of Rs. 169.70 crore under Jal Marg Vikas project. The terminal will have a capacity of 0.54 million tonnes per annum.
The construction work of the terminal is expected to be completed by November 2018. A proposal to establish a Freight Village and Logistic Hub in Varanasi -- the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- is also under consideration of the Government.
These would provide the required infrastructure with state of the art equipment and all modes of transport -- rail, road and waterways – resulting in reduced logistics cost and transportation time and facilitate ease of doing business, an official press release said.
In order to make available quality generic medicines at affordable prices, Mr Mandaviya also inaugurated a Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendra at Ramarepur Pahariya in the city.
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Suppliers should accept Unique Identity Number of foreign Missions, UN organizations: Govt.

The Finance Ministry today directed suppliers to accept the Unique Identity Number (UIN) of Foreign Diplomatic Missions and UN organizations while making sales.
In a press release, the Ministry said it had received complaints from these missions and organizations regarding the unwillingness of the vendors, suppliers and e-commerce websites to record the UIN.
It said supply to Foreign Diplomatic Missions and UN Organizations is like any other Business to Consumer (B2C) supply and will not have any additional impact on the supplier’s tax liability.
Recording of UIN while making such supplies will enable Foreign Diplomatic Missions / UN Organizations to claim a refund of the taxes paid by them in India. Therefore, it is advised that suppliers should not decline to record the UIN of the Embassies / Missions / Consulates or UN organizations on the tax invoice, the Ministry said.
The UIN is a 15-digit unique number allotted to any specialised agency of the United Nations Organisation or any Multilateral Financial Institution and Organisation notified under the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947, Consulate or Embassy of foreign countries. The first two digits of the UIN denotes State code where such entity is located.
Recording of the Unique Identity Number on the invoice is a necessary condition under Rule 46 of the CGST Rules, 2017. Contravention of the Rule may attract punitive action under the CGST Act, 2017, the release said.
Search functionality for UIN is available on the GST Common Portal in “Search Taxpayer” option. On entering UIN and captcha, details of the entity will be available, the release added.
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International Dam Safety Conference to be held in Thiruvananthapuram on January 23-24

India will be hosting the International Dam Safety Conference - 2018 here on January 23-24.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the conference and Mr Arjun Ram Meghwal, Union Minister of State for of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation will preside over the inaugural function.
The Central Water Commission is organizing the event in association with Kerala Water Resources Department (KWRD), Kerala State Electricity Board, National Institute of Technology Calicut and College of Engineering, Trivandrum.
Dam safety conferences are organized as an annual event under the Dam Safety Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) being run by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in the seven states of Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand.
Launched in 2012 with a financial outlay of Rs 2100 crore, the World Bank aided project aims at the rehabilitation of old dams in the country that may be experiencing distress and are in need of attention for ensuring their structural safety and operational efficiency.
The project also aims to strengthen the institutional capacity and project management in this area. As part of this exercise, DRIP has been engaged in bringing greater awareness on dam safety issues and finding novel solutions to address them by pooling the best technologies, knowledge and experience available around the world.
In this direction, Dam Safety Conferences are being organized as annual events in the different DRIP states. Dam professionals, academicians, scientists, as well as industries assemble to deliberate on the problems associated with the dam safety and share the concepts, techniques, instruments and materials available to address the design and construction of new dams, and also for monitoring, surveillance, operation, maintenance, rehabilitation along with disaster mitigation measures for existing dams.
The conference will see the participation of 550 delegates from over 20 countries.  Some of the international experts include Dr Anton J Schleiss, President of the International Commission on Large Dam EPFL Switzerland, Dr Nicholos Schofield, Chief Executive of Australian Water Partnership and  Mr Satoru Ueda, Lead Dam Specialist of the World Bank.
Dr Martin Wieland, global seismic expert from Switzerland, Dr Ignacio Escuder Bueno, President of Spanish Commission on Large Dams, Technical University of Valencia, Spain, Dr Desmond Harfort, leading dam safety expert, BC Hydro Canada, Mr Angus Swindon, National Director, Entura, Hydro Tasmania, Australia will also attend the conference.
More than 140 technical papers will be presented on several aspects of dam safety including case studies. About 30 national and international organizations are showcasing contemporary developments in technology, materials, instrumentation and their application in addressing dam safety issues during the exhibition being organized during the conference.
The themes for various sessions include Sustainable Dam Safety Initiatives; Uncertainties and Risk Management in Dams; Operation, Maintenance, Rehabilitation, and Upgrading of existing dams; Dam Safety Management Practices; and Integrated Flood Management for existing dams.
Seven dam safety guidelines and manuals developed under DRIP will also be released for implementation during the conference.
A software programme - Dam Health and Rehabilitation Monitoring Application (DHARMA) will also be launched during the conference. It is a web tool to digitize all dam-related data effectively. It will help to document authentic asset and health information pertaining to the large dams in the country, enabling appropriate actions to ensure need-based rehabilitation. It is a new stride in asset management aspect by India.
The key recommendations emerging from the deliberations of the conference will be circulated to stakeholders as well as policymakers for implementation. Select technical papers received for the conference will be published as a compendium to provide a permanent reference in the libraries of the State Agencies responsible for design, construction, operation and maintenance of dams.
For wider dissemination, the compendium will also be available on the DRIP website:
Dams have played a key role in fostering rapid and sustained agricultural and rural growth and development, which have been key priorities for the Government of India since independence.
Over the last 70 years, India has invested substantially in the critical infrastructure required to manage and store the limited surface water resources in reservoirs to ensure food, energy, and water securities.
Globally, India ranks third after China and the United States of America in terms of a number of large dams (5254 large dams in operation and 447 large dams under construction) with a total storage capacity of about 283 billion cubic meters.
About 80% of these large dams are more than twenty-five years old, and about 213 dams exceed the age of 100 years and were built in an era whose design practices and safety considerations do not match with the current design standards and the prevailing safety norms. This necessitates special efforts at rehabilitation of old dams and ensuring their long-term structural safety.
In the year 2017, the project was extended by two years, until June 2020, to finish all the programmed rehabilitation works on 223 dams with a proposed revised cost of Rs 3466 crore.
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World Bank to provide $ 120 million loan to improve access to water supply services in Uttarakhand

The Government of India, the Government of Uttarakhand and the World Bank Board signed here today a $120 million loan agreement which will help increase access to improved water supply services in peri-urban areas in the hilly state.
The agreement for the project was signed by Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; Mr. Arvind Singh Hyanki, Secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, on behalf of the Government of Uttarakhand; and Mr. Hisham Abdo, Acting Country Director, World Bank, India on behalf of the World Bank. 
An official press rellease said the Uttarakhand Water Supply Program for Peri-Urban Areas will help the State increase water supply coverage as well as ensure sustainable water supply service delivery in peri-urban areas. It will develop and implement a service-oriented and efficient water supply policy for peri-urban areas, strengthen the current monitoring and evaluation systems, and provide dedicated incentives for preparation and adoption of water supply ‘master-plans’ in peri-urban areas. 
The release said growth and urbanization has led to the rise of significant “peri-urban” areas (mostly in the plains) that, while classified as rural, are effectively urban in nature (in terms of density of population, the structure of the economy, and aspirations of the people).  The “disconnect” between the formal classification of these populated areas and their actual nature, including provision of water supply, along with unique governance, infrastructure, and service delivery challenges, it said.
From 2001 to 2011, the state’s urban population grew by nearly 42 percent, which is substantially higher than the national average of 32 percent. While the state has made significant strides in piloting and implementing innovative approaches in water supply and sanitation services, water supply services in peri-urban areas have not been a focus.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Khare said that over 700,000 people residing in peri-urban areas of the state are expected to benefit from the program. He said that with increasing urbanization, the demarcation between rural and urban is slowly diminishing. The rise of peri urban areas in Uttarakhand presents many challenges to development, he said.
Mr Khare said that through the project, the peri-urban population in the State, especially the women will have easy access to regular water supply services, thus freeing- up their time for other more socially and economically productive activities. 
The programme will focus on increasing coverage, quality and reliability of water supply services in all peri-urban areas of the State. Services would be provided through piped network and metered service connections with a focus on improving the operation and management (O&M) of it. 
Some of the efforts at improving services under the programme will include ensuring a minimum 16-hour water supply which meets the Government of India water quality standards, supplied at a minimum pressure of 12m, for no less than 300 days in a year; 100 percent customer metering and volumetric tariffs; and sustainable water supply systems which recover O&M costs through user charges with transparent subsidies, if any.
Ms Smita Misra, Lead Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist and the World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the program said that with rapid economic growth and urbanization, there is a strong demand for better public services, including water supply in peri-urban areas. She said that the programme is now a priority for the State as it moves towards achieving its goal of universal water supply coverage in urban areas by 2030 and in rural areas by 2022. She further said that we hope this program shows the way for others addressing service delivery issues in challenging `peri-urban’ areas that are increasingly part of the landscape of India and other countries in South Asia.
The $120 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 17 years, the release added.
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L&T launches second Offshore Patrol Vessel for Indian Coast Guard

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) launched the second in a series of seven Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) for the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) at the company’s greenfield defence shipyard at Kattupalli, near here, on Saturday.
The OPV was formally lowered into the waters of the Bay of Bengal at the hands of Mrs. Natarajan, wife of K Natarajan, Additional Director General (Western Seaboard) of the ICG. She named the OPV ‘CGS Vijaya’.
L&T is the first private Indian shipyard to construct and deliver OPVs for the ICG. L&T received the prestigious order valued at Rs. 1432 crore for design and construction of seven OPVs from the Ministry of Defence in March 2015. The first OPV was launched in October, 2017 and is presently undergoing trials. 
"The launch of the second OPV, within three months from the launch of the first vessel and with overall completion of 85%, bears testimony to L&T’s proven project planning and execution capabilities," it said.
These OPVs are long-range surface ships with helicopter operation capabilities, and their roles include coastal and offshore patrolling, policing maritime zones of India, control & surveillance, anti-smuggling & anti-piracy with limited wartime roles.
The OPVs are approximately 97m long, 15m wide, has 3.6m draught, 2140 T displacement with a range of 5000 NM and can attain sustained speeds of up to 26 knots. The entire design and construction processes have undergone dual certification from the American Bureau of Shipping and Indian Registrar of Shipping, and the project is being overseen by the ICG's resident team at Kattupalli shipyard.
In December, 2017, L&T completed the delivery of all 36 Interceptor Boats to the Indian Coast Guard contracted in March 2010, well ahead of contractual delivery schedule. The in-house designed and constructed Floating Dock-2 for the Indian Navy has been dispatched to Port Blair this month for final trials and handing over. This is the first time a Floating Dock has been designed and constructed indigenously.
Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, CEO & Managing Director, Larsen & Toubro, said: “It is heartening to see another ahead of schedule launch of a major defence vessel at the Kattupalli shipyard. Delivery of all 36 Interceptor Boats under the first contract from the Indian Coast Guard ahead of schedule, timely dispatch of the Floating Dock-2 and timely completion of various refit orders from the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard speak volumes about L&T’s stellar delivery performance. This stems from our deep-rooted ethos of nation-building and world-class ship design and fabrication capabilities. Today, we are amongst very few Indian shipyards that have the requisite capacity and financial strength to deliver complex defence vessels on time.”
Mr. J.D. Patil, Senior Executive Vice President & Whole-time Director (Defence), Larsen & Toubro said: “The launch of OPV-2 signifies the launch of the ninth defence vessel by L&T in the current financial year. L&T is achieving new benchmarks of execution excellence with the construction of more defence vessels. With in-house capabilities to undertake ship design, in-house manufacturing of critical marine equipment, world-class shipyard infrastructure and robust financial strength, L&T is uniquely placed to fulfil the ambitious fleet expansion plans of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard."
“L&T is also looking forward to participate in ‘Medium Refit and Life Extension Certification’ of EKM submarines of the Indian Navy. We will be deploying our rich expertise in the field of design engineering and construction of submarines for this project,” Mr. Patil added.
“It is indeed a remarkable achievement to surpass the construction timelines in a multi-project execution scenario,” said Vice Admiral B. Kannan (Retd.), MD & CEO, L&T Shipbuilding. “Large-scale deployment of digital technologies in most shipyard operations including design, planning, production, project management and QA/QC has immensely helped in prioritizing the tasks and optimal deployment of resources. Our rich pool of human resources is constantly innovating to enhance the productivity and has cut down cycle time,” he concluded.
In addition, L&T is also progressing well on the Medium Refit (MR) of a Naval survey vessel at the Kattupalli shipyard. L&T undertakes repairs and refits of Naval and Coast Guard ships regularly and has till date completed repair/refit of four Naval ships and two Coast Guard ships.
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NIIF, DP World create platform for investments in ports, transportation, logistics sector

India's National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Dubai-based DP World today announced the creation of an investment platform to invest in ports, terminals, transportation and logistics businesses in India. 
The platform will invest up to $ 3 billion of equity to acquire assets and develop projects in the sector, a press release from NIIF said.
The partnership follows the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in May 2017 and the visit to India of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and DP World Group Chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, in February 2016, it said.
The platform will also look at opportunities beyond sea ports such as river ports and transportation, freight corridors, port-led special economic zones, inland container terminals, and logistics infrastructure including cold storage, the release said.
Mr. Sultan Ahmed said, “DP World has been a part of India’s growth story for nearly two decades and we are delighted to continue our success by joining forces with a strong strategic partner, the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). We believe that our expertise in building best-in-class logistics infrastructure together with the NIIF’s local knowledge and government partnership is the right combination to take advantage of the significant growth opportunities in India.  We are proud to partner with NIIF and share our expertise and experience in these areas and the global supply chain to provide cost effective logistics and warehousing solutions to India's growing economy and trade.”
Mr. Sujoy Bose, CEO, NIIF, said: “Efficient logistics and cargo movement are critical components for the continued growth and development of the Indian economy, and particularly the manufacturing sector. We are delighted to partner with DP World to create a platform which will aim to reduce the cost of moving cargo between port and origin/destination.  This is NIIF’s first investment and is a good example of how NIIF can work with international capital and expertise to invest at scale to build critical infrastructure in India.” 
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Modi says emerging global challenges deserve serious attention of leaders

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday the existing and emerging challenges to the contemporary international system and global governance architecture deserved serious attention of leaders, governments, policy makers, corporates and civil societies around the world.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the existing and emerging challenges to the contemporary international system and global governance architecture deserved serious attention of leaders, governments, policy makers, corporates and civil societies around the world.  
"In recent years, India’s engagement with the outside world has become truly and effectively multi-dimensional covering the political, economic, people to people, security and other spheres," he said in a statement prior to his two-day visit to Davos from tomorrow to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF).
“I look forward to my first visit to the World Economic Forum at Davos, at the invitation of India’s good friend and Founder of the WEF, Prof Klaus Schwab. The theme of the Forum, 'Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World' is both thoughtful and apt," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, at Davos, he looked forward to sharing his vision for India’s future engagement with the international community.  
"Apart from the events for the World Economic Forum, I look forward to my separate bilateral meetings with the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Alain Berset and Prime Minister of Sweden, Mr. Stefan Lofven.  
"I am confident that these bilateral meetings would be fruitful and give a boost to our relations with these countries and further strengthen economic engagement," he added.
Mr. Modi is slated to deliver the keynote address at the plenary session of the WEF on January 23. The plenary session will be moderated by Prof. Schwab.
This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the WEF since the 1997 visit by Mr. H. D. Deve Gowda.
Mr. Vijay Gokhale, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs, told journalists here yesterday that the visit would be a signal that India would engage with the rest of the world in a very multi-dimensional way.
"This is occurring at a time when India’s attractiveness as an economy has grown, where there is a quantum jump in our rankings in multiple indices and in the context of the recent reforms that the government has announced particularly in the last one year. I think the focus therefore is for our Prime Minister to articulate his vision of how he sees the Indian economy is contributing not only the domestic improvement for the benefit of the people of India but also on a global scale," he said.
Mr. Ramesh Vinayak, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy  and Promotion (DIPP), said Mr. Modi would attend a round table dinner with global CEOs, including Indian CEOs.
"We are looking forward to Prime Minister’s interaction with the CEOs of such scale and stature because of the opportunities that India provides today in terms of various sectors, ease of doing business and so on as Secretary (ER) has mentioned, we would like to showcase all these," he said.
Mr. Vinayak also said that Mr. Modi would interact with 120 members of the International Business Council, which is a part of the WEF, on January 23.
"So these two interactions with 60 and 120 CEO will provide a direct opportunity for the CEOs to not only interact with the Prime Minister but also get comfort and information about transformative changes happening in India which presents huge opportunities to them," he said.
On Monday evening, the Government of India is hosting a reception in the Congress Centre which is the main venue of the WEF. About 1500 delegates are expected to participate in the event, where India will showcase the various achievements that India has made in the last few years in terms of ease of doing business, the investment opportunities and so on. "We are also going to give them a taste of Indian exquisite cuisine to the participants and also some taste of our culture and heritage," he said.
Mr. Modi will have an interaction with the Indian CEOs will be attending the forum, he added.
Some Union Ministers are also slated to attend the forum.
Invest India, the official investment promotion and facilitation agency of the Government of India, has also organized several round tables on finance, financial inclusion for promoting digital payments, clean energy solutions for a better future, development of railway industry in India, developing skills in a digital world and promoting design in India. Ministers will also participate in the discussions.
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Income Tax TDS defaulter arrested, sent to judicial custody in Delhi

The Tis Hazari Court here has sent the director of a Delhi-based real estate and IT services company to judicial custody in a case related to Income Tax TDS default.
A press release from the Ministry of Finance said that it was found during investigations that the company had made tax deductions at sources (TDS) but had not deposited in the Government's account though it had a statutory obligation to do so under the Income Tax Act.
This also led to harassment of many innocent persons whose TDS amounts had been deducted but the TDS returns had not been filed by the company. It was found that during FY 2013-14, FY 2014-15 and FY 2015-16, amounts of Rs. 45,68,990, Rs. 35,45,290 and Rs. 33,36,970 were deducted by the assessee company. The assessee company was found to be defaulting on filing of TDS return statements, the release said.
Taking into account all defaults, show cause notices were served upon the director to explain why sanction for prosecution should not be granted under section 278B, read with 276B, of Income Tax Act for not complying with the provisions of the law in respect of non -deposit of the Income Tax deducted at source. 
"However, during the proceedings, the assessee asked for repeated adjournments, instead of giving reasonable explanations for the defaults during the proceedings. Hence, it was concluded that there is no justifiable reason for the delay in depositing the TDS. This clearly showed the non-serious behaviour of the assessee towards the provisions of deduction and depositions of tax at source. Therefore, TDS Wing in exercise of powers under Section 279(1) of Income Tax Act sanctioned the filing of criminal complaint against the company as well as the Director under Section 276B read with 278B, 278E and 279 of the Act for FY 2013-14, FY 2014-15 and FY 2015-16 in 2017," it said.
Non-bailable warrant was issued against the director in December 2017 for non-compliance with the case proceedings. The non-bailable warrants returned to the court unexecuted with the report that accused is avoiding execution of the warrants. Hence, on January 19, the accused was taken into custody and was remanded to judicial custody. The accused has been sent to Tihar Jail for the same, the release said.
Mr. S. S. Rathore, the Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax - Delhi, stated that the Department is very serious about timely depositing of the TDS deducted by the employers. 
"It is reiterated that the TDS is Government money which has to be deposited in Treasury on timely basis. Failure to deposit the tax deducted will lead to criminal prosecution with imprisonment from 3 months to 7 years. 
"This year the Principal Chief Commissionerate - New Delhi has sanctioned prosecution in approximately 240 cases which clearly shows the strict attitude of Income Tax Department towards the defaulters.  The Principal Chief Commissioner - Income Tax - New Delhi has given a strong message to non-compliant tax payers that tax defaulters will find it difficult to escape from penalties and prosecutions from vigilant and proactive Income Tax Department and at the same time ensuring Best Taxpayer Friendly Services for the honest and compliant taxpayers," the release added.
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ONGC acquires entire 51.11% stake of Government in HPCL

The public sector ONGC said on Saturday that it had decided to acquire the entire 51.1 percent shareholding of the Government of India in HPCL at a cash purchase consideration of Rs. 473.97 per share with a total acquisition cost of Rs. 36,915 crore.

The public sector Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) today said it had decided to acquire the entire 51.1 percent shareholding (778,845,375 equity shares) of the Government of India in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) at a cash purchase consideration of Rs. 473.97 per share with a total acquisition cost of Rs. 36,915 crore.
A press release from ONGC said its Board had considered the proposal and approved the acquisition at its meeting here on January 19.
The release said ONGC and the Government had been engaged in discussions for some time on a potential transaction in pursuance of the Budget announcement by the Government for creating an "oil major" which would be able to match the performance of international and domestic private sector oil and gas companies.
ONGC entered into a share purchase agreement with the Government for acquiring the 778,845,375 equity shares of HPCL today, it said.
The parties expect to complete the transaction before end of January 2018, the release said.
"As the Government of India (GOI) through President of India, being the promoter of ONGC (holding 67.72%) and HPCL (holding 51.11%) is the seller, the transaction is a related party transaction between the Government and a government company within the meaning of the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulation 2015 (LODR) and the Companies Act 2013 (Act). The SEBI has been pleased to grant an exemption from the application of Regulation 23 of the LODR to ONGC for this transaction vide its letter dated 30 November 2017. 
"Requisite approval from the shareholders of ONGC for the related party transaction will be sought by ONGC after the execution of the share purchase agreement in accordance with provisions of Section 188(3) of the Act. The acquisition has been made on an arm’s length basis. The transaction is exempt from the requirement to make an open offer under the provisions of Regulation 10(1)(a)(iii) of the SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations 2011," the release said.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has notified an exemption for Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) in the oil and gas sector from the applicability of provisions of Sections 5 and 6 of the Competition Act 2002 on 22 November 2017, which exemption is applicable to this transaction. 
"The CCEA has provided its in-principle approval for the transaction on 19 July 2017 and the alternate mechanism set up for the finalizing the price, terms and conditions of the transaction has accorded its final approval on 20th January 2018. No other regulatory approvals are required for the transaction," it said.
"The acquisition has been undertaken in furtherance of the Government’s objective to combine the various central public sector enterprises to give them capacity to bear higher risks, avail economies of scale, take higher investment decisions and create more value for the stakeholders and create an ‘oil major’ which will be able to match the performance of international and domestic private sector oil and gas companies. 
"ONGC expects that as an integrated oil conglomerate, its performance will be less affected by the volatility of crude prices due to diversification of its cash flows to midstream and downstream presence through HPCL, lower earnings volatility, diversified cash flows and lower business risk resulting in better valuation and higher shareholder value. 
"HPCL and ONGC have a complimentary asset portfolio and through this acquisition, ONGC is gaining a midstream and downstream presence and access to a marketing network. ONGC will also gain access to marketing network of HPCL which could be synergistically utilised for projects such as MRPL, OPaL," it said.
Standard Refining Company of India Limited was incorporated in 1952, and its name was changed to ESSO Standard Refining Company of India Limited (ESSO) in 1962. HPCL was formed in 1974 pursuant to the acquisition of shares in ESSO by Government of India and subsequent merger of ESSO and Lube India Limited. Thereafter, Government of India acquired shares of Caltex Oil Refining (India) Limited in 1976 and merged it with HPCL in 1978. Kosana’s Company was merged with HPCL in 1979. 
HPCL is currently a CPSE with majority shareholding (51.11%) by President of India. Its equity shares are listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange.
With a turnover of Rs 2,13,489 crore and profit after tax of Rs 6502 crore during 2016-17 HPCL ranks at 384th in Fortune Global 500 and 48th in Platts 250 Global Energy Companies, HPCL, a CPSE with Navratna Status, has business portfolio spanning across the hydrocarbon value chain and has a strong presence in Refining and Marketing of petroleum products in the country.
HPCL markets around 35.2 MMT of petroleum products with a market share of about 21% and is number one lube marketer in the country. HPCL has its refineries at Mumbai and Visakhapatnam and a joint venture refinery at Bhatinda. HPCL owns the biggest lube refinery in India and the second largest cross country product pipeline network of about 3500 km.
HPCL has a vast marketing network spread across the length and breadth of the country with terminals, depots, LPG bottling plants, Lube blending plants, aviation fuel stations and around 15,000 retail outlets. 
HPCL owns and operates LPG cavern at Visakhapatnam in joint venture with Total and has 16.96% equity stake in Mangalore Refining and Petrochemicals Ltd. HPCL also has other joint ventures in the areas of City Gas distribution, cross country pipelines, production and marketing of bitumen emulsions and bio fuels. 
HPCL is also setting up a state-of-the-art greenfield Refinery cum Petrochemical Complex of 9MMTPA capacity in Barmer district of Rajasthan and is expanding its existing refinery.
SBI Capital Markets Ltd., and Citi Global acted as the Transaction Advisors and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas acted as the Legal Advisor to ONGC.
ONGC is the largest producer of crude oil and natural gas in India, contributing around 70% of Indian domestic production. ONGC's market capitalization as on 19th January, 2018, was Rs. 24,8451 crore. During the financial year ended 31st March 2017, ONGC Group had produced 61.60 million tonnes of oil and oil equivalent gas (mmtoe); the consolidated gross turnover was Rs. 142149 crore, consolidated net profit was Rs. 20,498 crore for the year 2016-17 and total oil and gas reserves were 2,142 mmtoe as on 31st March 2017.
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Jaitley launches National CSR Data Portal & Corporate Data Portal

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley yesterday launched the National CSR Data Portal & Corporate Data Portal, which he said were significant steps towards accountability and transparency for corporate India.
By making the portals accessible to the general public, high level of compliance will be ensured, besides institutionalising and consolidating CSR activities, he said.
Minister of State for Corporate Affairs and Law & Justice PP Chaudhary said both the portals reflect the government’s commitment to leveraging technology towards smart governance. He suggested that CSR project should be geo-tagged.
Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Managing Trustee, National Foundation for Corporate Governance (NFCG) and DG, CII, spoke about the importance of the legislation on CSR and how Indian industry has responded spontaneously to it.
The Corporate Data Portal would help in becoming a potent enabler for greater transparency and creation of tools for stronger corporate governance. He expressed the hope that the portals would also become platforms for learning and sharing of ideas and information.
Mr Injeti Srinivas, Secretary, Corporate Affairs, termed it a landmark initiative in bringing about 100% transparency in corporate governance by making public over 4 crore filings by nearly 1.2 million companies.
The two portals would promote corporate transparency and accountability to the public at large and also facilitate a social audit of CSR projects, besides bringing together CSR contributors, implementers and beneficiaries and aligning CSR activities with national development goals, an official press release said.
The CSR Data Portal will capture information on CSR activities carried out by eligible companies, filed on the MCA21 registry in their financial statements. The filed information provides a snapshot of CSR activities carried out by companies.
The portal contains all filed information, which can generate pre-defined reports with respect to expenditure across states, districts, development sectors, and so on. It also provides for feedback on projects to be given by registered users, the release said.
The open access to data is expected to help researchers, improve quality of data filed by companies, as well as involve intended beneficiaries in giving valuable feedback to companies.
The Corporate Data Portal aims at making all the financial and non-financial information of the companies available in a user-friendly format to the general public. It also has the facility to generate pre-defined reports and also customised reports.
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‘Cyber Surakshit Bharat’ to strengthen cyber security

Recognizing the need to strengthen the cyber security ecosystem in India, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) yesterday announced the Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative in association with National e-Governance Division (NeGD) and industry partners.
Inaugurating the initiative, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Tourism K J Alphons said, “Securing the nation’s cyberspace is vital for achieving the Prime Minister’s vision of a Digital India. The fruits of development must reach the last man out there. The Digital India has led to a rapid transformation in the governance system. To ensure good governance, the private corporate sector must come forward."
“Today, India is home to over 118 crore Aadhaar accounts, providing people with a unique identity. We have opened 30 crore bank accounts for the poor and underprivileged section of the society and linked those with Aadhaar,” he added.
 So far the Government has transferred subsidies worth Rs. 2.40 lakh crore to the Jan Dhan accounts linked with Aaddaar, thereby saving over 60,000 crore, which would earlier go to middlemen, the Minister pointed out.
“As we are moving towards that ecosystem, we also must ensure that our systems are protected and our data is secured. Keeping this concern in mind, the government has launched the Cyber Surakshit Bharat, with a primary objective to keep our data safe and protected.
“The best brains in both the government and corporate sector must come together to ensure a safe a secure cyberspace. I am happy that today we have CISOs in many institutions, we have them in as many as 60 ministries and departments of the government of India; 230 banks and 45 other financial institutions have CISOs to protect their data and systems.
 “We must not forget that there is a bunch of smart individuals out there who are trying to steal our data, and to outsmart them we all have to work together towards building a robust cyber security system that keeps all these confidential information protected,” he added.
Conceptualized as a mission to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT staff across all government departments, Cyber Surakshit Bharat will be operated on the three principles of Awareness, Education and Enablement.
It will include an awareness program on the importance of cybersecurity; a series of workshops on best practices and enablement of the officials with cybersecurity health toolkits to manage and mitigate cyber threats. 
Cyber Surakshit Bharat is the first public-private partnership of its kind and will leverage the expertise of the IT industry in cybersecurity. The founding partners of the consortium are leading IT companies Microsoft, Intel, WIPRO, Redhat and Dimension Data. Additionally, knowledge partners include Cert-In, NIC, NASSCOM and the FIDO Alliance and premier consultancy firms Deloitte and EY.
Mr Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Mr Suresh Chandra, Secretary, Ministry of Law & Justice, Mr Sanjeev Gupta, President & CEO, Digital India Corporation, Mr Anant Maheshwari, President – Microsoft India, Ms Debjani Ghosh, President Designate, NASSCOM, Mr Rakesh Maheshwari, Group Coordinator (Cyber Security), MeitY, Mr Jayesh Warrier, India Practice Head (CRS), Wipro and Mr Raghuvir HR, Sales Director, Dimension Data, India were present at the event.
The inaugural ceremony was followed by the first national workshop for Central and State government CISOs. Conducted by security experts of the consortium partners, the daylong orientation provided comprehensive guidance on topics ranging from the fundamental building blocks of a secure critical infrastructure to the role of a CISO in IT risk management to analyzing a department’s cyberhealth. The sessions also covered management of identity, devices and apps; OS (operating system) level security practices as well as attack methods and vulnerabilities.
Cyber Surakshit Bharat aims to conduct a series of training programmes in the next six months across Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.
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RIL reports 25.1% rise in net profit to Rs. 9,423 crore in Q3

Reliance logo
Energy, petrochemicals, telecom and retail major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today reported a 25.1 percent increase in its consolidated net profit to a record Rs. 9,423 crore in the third quarter (Q3) of 2017-18 as compared to Rs. 7,533 crore in the same quarter of the previous financial year.
On a quarter-on-quarter (Q-o-Q) basis, the company’s net profit rose by 16.2% as compared to Rs. 8,109 crore in Q2 of this year, the company said while reporting its financial performance for the quarter and the nine-month period ended December 31, 2017.
A press release from RIL said that, on a consolidated basis, its revenue increased by 30.5% to Rs. 109,905 crore as compared to Rs. 84,189 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year. Its PBDIT rose 39.4% to Rs. 19,845 crore during the quarter. Cash profit increased by 42.6% to Rs. 15,116 crore.
“The increase in revenue is primarily on account of volume increase with start-up of petrochemicals projects and increase in prices in refining and petrochemical businesses. The increase in consolidated revenues reflect robust growth of 116% in Retail business and continued enhancement in Jio’s wireless operations,” the release said.
On a standalone basis, RIL’s net profit increased by 5.4% to Rs. 8,454 crore during the quarter. Its revenue increased by 18.4% to Rs. 78,864 crore, exports by 21.3% to Rs, 46,151 crore, PBDIT by 12.8% to Rs. 15,368 crore and cash profit by 14.9% to Rs. 11,918 crore. 
The company reported a gross refining margin of $ 11.6/bbl for the quarter, as compared to $ 12 for the previous quarter and $ 10.8 in the same quarter of the previous year.
The company’s Digital Services business, Jio, reported a standalone net profit of Rs. 504 crore in what was the second quarter of its commercial operation, as against a loss of Rs. 271 crore in the previous quarter. It reported a standalone revenue from operations of Rs. 6,879 crore (11.9% over trailing quarter), standalone PBDIT of Rs. 2,628 crore (82.1% over trailing quarter) and PBDIT margin of 38.2% (trailing quarter at 23.5%).
Jio had a subscriber base of 160.1 million at the end of December 31, 2017, with a gross subscriber addition of 27.8 million and net subscriber addition of 21.5 million. Jio had an ArPU of Rs. 154 per subscriber per month.
“I am happy to share record-setting consolidated quarterly earnings to mark the 40th anniversary of Reliance’s listing in January 1978.  Fittingly, this quarter marks the culmination of our petrochemical expansion projects and the first positive net profit contribution from our newest business line – Digital Services,” RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh D. Ambani said.
“Our refining business has delivered 12 consecutive quarters of double-digit refining margins, demonstrating operating excellence and healthy industry fundamentals. Benefits of the large investments in petrochemical business are beginning to show with the segment reporting its highest ever earnings,” he said.
On Jio’s performance, Mr. Ambani said, “I would like to thank all our customers for partnering with us in this revolution which has made India a global digital powerhouse. I congratulate all our employees and partners for the strong performance. Our commitment is to keep pushing newer innovative products which would radically transform customer lives and generate huge societal value. 
“Jio’s strong financial result reflects the fundamental strength of the business, significant efficiencies and right strategic initiatives. Jio has demonstrated that it can sustain its strong financial performance,” he said.
“We are excited about the prospects of both our energy and consumer businesses due to strong growth in Indian markets and constructive macro environment,” Mr. Ambani added.
The company’s outstanding debt as on December 31, 2017 was Rs. 213,206 crore ($ 33.4 billion) compared to Rs. 196,601 crore as on March 31, 2017.
Cash and cash equivalents as on December 31, 2017 were Rs. 78,617 crore ($ 12.3 billion) compared to Rs. 77,226 crore as on 31st March 2017. These were in bank deposits, mutual funds, CDs, Government Bonds and other marketable securities, the release said.
The capital expenditure for the quarter ended December 31, 2017 was Rs. 17,336 crore ($ 2.7 billion) including exchange rate difference capitalization. Capital expenditure was principally on account of Digital Services business, balance of expenditure for projects in the petrochemicals and refining business at Jamnagar and in Organized Retail business.  
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India’s forex reserves soar by $ 2.7 billion to new high of $ 413.825 billion

Continuing their uptrend for the fifth consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 2.7 billion to a new high of $ 413.825 billion during the week ended January 12, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country’s forex reserves had risen by $ 1.758 billion to $ 411.124 billion during the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 2.685 billion to $ 389.834 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 20.421 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 6.2 million to $ 1.521 billion.
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 9.3 million to $ 2.048 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
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GST Council recommends major rejig, including cuts in rates of 29 goods and 53 services

GST Council meets in New Delhi
The Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council met here yesterday under the chairmanship of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recommended a major rejig of the GST framework, including cuts in the rates of 29 goods and 53 services.
The items on which the rates have been reduced include 20-litre packaged drinking water, diamonds and precious stones, biodiesel, sugar candies, tailoring services and low-cost construction services.
The revenue loss on account of these adjustments in the rates, which will come into effect on January 25, is expected to be between Rs. 1,000 crore and Rs. 1,200 crore.
According to an official press release, oods on which the GST rate has been cut from 28% to 18% include old and user motor vehicles (medium and large cars and SUVs) and buses, for use in public transport, which exclusively run on biofuels.
Goods on which the GST rate will be reduced from 28% to 12% include all types of old and used motor vehicles (other than medium and large cars and SUVs).
Goods on which the GST rate will be reduced from 18% to 12% include sugar boiled confectionery; drinking water in 20 litre bottles; fertilizer grade phosphoric acid; biodiesel; specified biopesticides; bamboo wood building joinery; drip irrigation system including laterals, sprinklers; and mechanical sprayers.
Items on which the GST rate will be reduced from 18% to 5% include: Tamarind Kernel Powder; Mehendi paste in cones; LPG supplied for supply to household domestic consumers by private LPG distributors;  and Scientific and technical instruments, apparatus, equipment, accessories, parts, components, spares, tools, mock ups and modules, raw material and consumables required for launch vehicles and satellites and payloads.
Items on which  the Council recommended a reduction in the GST rate from 12% to 5% include articles of straw, of esparto or of other plaiting materials; basketware and wickerwork.
The Council recommended an increase from 12% to 18% in the GST rate on cigarette filter rods. In the  case of velvet fabric, it recommended a reduction from 12% to 5%, with no refund of unutilised input tax credit. In the case of diamonds and precious stones, the rate will be brought down from 3% to 0.25%.
There will be Nil GST rate on Vibhuti, parts and accessories for manufacture of hearing aids and de-oiled rice bran. The rate will go up from Nil to 5% in the case of rice bran (other than de-oiled rice bran).
The compensation cess will be Nil in the case of motor vehicles cleared as ambulances, duly fitted with all fitments, furniture and accessories necessary for an ambulance from the factory manufacturing such vehicles; 10-13 seater buses and ambulances, subject to specified conditions; old and used motor vehicles [medium and large cars and SUVs]; all types of old and used motors vehicles [other than medium and large cars and SUVs].
The IGST has been reduced from 18% to 5% in the case of satellites and payloads and scientific and technical instruments, apparatus, equipment, accessories, parts, components, spares, tools, mock ups and modules, raw material and consumables required for launch vehicles and satellites and payloads.
The following are some of the other major recommendations of the Council:
(A) Exemptions / Changes in GST Rates / ITC Eligibility Criteria
-- To extend GST exemption on Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for a period of 3 years from the date of commencement of RCS airport from the present period of one year.
-- To exempt supply of services by way of providing information under RTI Act, 2005 from GST.
 -- To exempt legal services provided to Government, Local Authority, Governmental Authority and Government Entity.
-- To reduce GST rate on construction of metro and monorail projects (construction, erection, commissioning or installation of original works) from 18% to 12%.
-- To levy GST on the small housekeeping service providers, notified under section 9 (5) of GST Act, who provide housekeeping service through ECO, @ 5% without ITC.
-- To reduce GST rate on tailoring service from 18% to 5%.
-- To reduce GST rate on services by way of admission to theme parks, water parks, joy rides, merry-go-rounds, go-carting and ballet, from 28% to 18%.
-- To grant following exemptions:
(i) To exempt service by way of  transportation of goods from India to a place outside India by air;
(ii) To exempt service by way of transportation of goods from India to a place outside India by sea and provide that value of such service may be excluded from the value of exempted services for the purpose of reversal of ITC.
The above exemptions may be granted with a sunset clause upto 30th September, 2018.
 -- To exempt services provided by  the Naval Insurance Group Fund by way of  Life Insurance to personnel of Coast Guard under the  Group Insurance Scheme of the Central Government retrospectively w.e.f. 1.7.2017.
-- To exempt IGST payable under section 5(1) of the IGST Act, 2017 on supply of services covered by item 5(c) of Schedule II of the CGST Act, 2017 to the extent of  aggregate of the duties and taxes leviable  under section 3(7) of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 read with sections 5 & 7 of IGST Act, 2017 on part of consideration declared under section 14(1) of the Customs Act, 1962 towards royalty and license fee includible in transaction value as specified under Rule 10 (c) of the Customs Valuation (Determination of Value of Imported Goods) Rules, 2007.
-- To allow ITC of input services in the same line of business at the GST rate of 5% in case of tour operator service.
-- To reduce GST rate (from 18% to 12%) on the Works Contract Services (WCS) provided by sub-contractor to the main contractor providing WCS to Central Government, State Government, Union territory, a local authority, a Governmental Authority or a Government Entity, which attract GST of 12%. Likewise, WCS attracting 5% GST, their sub-contractor would also be liable @ 5%.
 -- To enhance the exemption limit of Rs 5000/- per month per member to Rs 7500/- in respect of services provided by Resident Welfare Association (unincorporated or nonprofit entity) to its members against their individual contribution.
-- To reduce GST rate on transportation of petroleum crude and petroleum products (MS, HSD, ATF) from 18% to 5% without ITC and 12% with ITC.
-- To exempt dollar denominated services provided by financial intermediaries located in IFSC SEZ, which have been deemed to be outside India under the various regulations by RBI, IRDAI, SEBI or any financial regulatory authority, to a person outside India.
-- To  exempt  (a) services by government or local authority to governmental authority or government entity, by way of lease of land, and (b) supply of land or undivided share of land by way of lease or sub lease where such supply is a part of  specified composite supply of construction of flats etc. and   to carry out suitable amendment in the provision relating to valuation of construction service involving transfer of land or undivided share of land, so as to ensure that buyers pay the  same effective  rate of GST on property built on leasehold and freehold land.
-- To amend entry 3 of notification No. 12/2017-CT(R) so as to exempt pure services provided to Govt. entity.
-- To expand pure services exemption under S. No. 3 of 12/2017-C.T. (Rate) so as to include composite supply involving predominantly supply of services i.e. upto 25% of supply of goods.
-- To reduce job work services rate for manufacture of leather goods (Chapter 42) and footwear (Chapter 64) to 5%.
-- To exempt services relating to admission to, or conduct of examination provided to all educational institutions, as defined in the notification.
-- To exempt services by educational institution by way of conduct of entrance examination against consideration in the form of entrance fee.
-- To enhance the limit to Rs 2 lakh against Sl. No. 36 of exemption notification No. 12/2017-C.T. (Rate) which exempts services of life insurance business provided under life micro insurance product approved by IRDAI upto maximum amount of cover of Rs. 50,000.
-- To exempt reinsurance services in respect of insurance schemes exempted under S.Nos. 35 and 36 of notification No. 12/2017-CT (Rate).
[It is expected that the premium amount charged from the government/insured in respect of future insurance services is reduced.]
 -- To increase threshold limit for exemption under entry No. 80 of Notification No. 12/2017-C.T. (Rate) for all the theatrical performances like Music, Dance, Drama, Orchestra, Folk or Classical Arts and all other such activities in any Indian language in theatre GST from Rs.250 to Rs. 500 per person and to also extend the threshold exemption to services by way of admission to a planetarium.
-- To reduce GST on Common Effluent Treatment Plants services of treatment of effluents, from 18% to 12%.
-- To exempt services by way of fumigation in a warehouse of agricultural produce.
-- To reduce GST to 12% in respect of mining or exploration services of petroleum crude and natural gas and for drilling services in respect of the said goods.
--  To exempt subscription of online educational journals/periodicals by educational institutions who provide degree recognized by any law from GST.
 -- To exempt the service provided by way of renting of transport vehicles provided to a person providing services of transportation of students, faculty and staff to an educational institution providing education upto higher secondary or equivalent.
-- To extend the concessional rate of GST on houses constructed/ acquired under the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) / Lower Income Group (LIG) / Middle Income Group-1 (MlG-1) / Middle Income Group-2 (MlG-2) under the Housing for All (Urban) Mission/Pradhan MantriAwasYojana (Urban) and low-cost houses up to a carpet area of 60 square metres per house in a housing project which has been given infrastructure status, as proposed by Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, under the same concessional rate. 
 -- To tax time charter services at GST rate of 5%, that is at the same rate as applicable to voyage charter or bare boat charter, with the same conditions.
-- To levy concessional GST @12% on the services provided by way of construction, erection, commissioning, installation, completion, fitting out, repair, maintenance, renovation, or alteration of building used for providing (for instance, centralized cooking or distributing) mid-day meal scheme by an entity registered under section 12AA of IT Act.
-- To exempt services provided by and to FédérationInternationale de Football Association (FIFA) and its subsidiaries directly or indirectly related to any of the events under FIFA U-20 World Cup in case the said event is hosted by India.
-- To exempt government’s share of profit petroleum from GST and to clarify that cost petroleum is not taxable per se.
(B) Rationalization of certain exemption entries
-- To provide in CGST rules that value of exempt supply under sub-section (2) of section 17, shall not include the value of deposits, loans or advances on which interest or discount is earned (This will not apply to a banking company and a financial institution including a non-banking financial company engaged in providing services by way of extending deposits, loans or advances).
 -- To defer the liability to pay GST in case of TDR against consideration in the form of construction service and on construction service against consideration in the form of TDR to the time when the possession or right in the property is transferred to the land owner by entering into a conveyance deed or similar instrument (eg. allotment letter). No deferment in point of taxation in respect of cash component.
-- To tax renting of immovable property  by government or local authority to a registered person under reverse Charge while renting of immovable property by government or local authority to un-registered person shall continue under forward charge
-- To define insurance agent in the reverse charge notification to have the same meaning as assigned to it in clause (10) of section 2 of the Insurance Act, 1938, so that corporate agents get excluded from reverse charge.
-- To insert a provision in GST Rules under section 15 of GST Act that the value of lottery shall be 100/112 or 100/128 of the price of lottery ticket notified in the Gazette (the same is currently notified in the rate notification).
 -- To add, in the GST rate schedule for goods at 28%, actionable claim in the form of chance to win in betting and gambling including horse racing.
-- To insert in GST rules under section 15 of GST Act,-
Notwithstanding anything contained in this chapter, value of supply of Betting & Gambling shall be 100 % of the face value of the bet or the amount paid into the totalizator.
(C) Clarifications
 -- To clarify that exemption of Rs 1000/- per day or equivalent (declared tariff) is available in respect of accommodation service in hostels.
 -- To clarify that fee paid by litigants in the Consumer Disputes Commissions and any penalty imposed by these Commissions, will not attract GST.
-- To clarify that elephant/ camel joy rides are not classified as transportation services and attract GST @ 18% with threshold exemption to small services providers.
-- To clarify that leasing or rental service, with or without operator, of goods, attracts same GST as supply of like goods involving transfer of title in the said goods. Therefore, the GST rate for the rental services of self-Propelled Access Equipment (Boom. Scissors/Telehandlers) is 28%.
-- To clarify that, 
1) Services provided by senior doctors/consultants/technicians hired by the hospitals, whether employees or not, are healthcare services which is exempt.  
2) Hospitals also provide healthcare services. The entire amount charged by them from the patients including the retention money and the fee/payments made to the doctors etc., is towards the healthcare services provided by the hospitals to the patients and is exempt.
3) Food supplied to the in-patients as advised by the doctor/nutritionists is a part of composite supply of healthcare and not separately taxable. Other supplies of food by a hospital to patients (not admitted) or their attendants or visitors is taxable.
 -- To clarify that  services by way of,-
1. admission to entertainment events or access to amusement facilities including casinos, race-course
2. ancillary services provided by casinos and race-course in relation to such admission.
3. services given by race-course by way of totalisator (if given through some other person or charged separately as fees for using totalisator for purpose of betting,
are taxable at 28%. Services given by race-course by way of license to bookmaker which is not a service by way of betting and gambling, is taxable at 18%.
The Council also recommended the following policy changes:
-- The late fee payable by any registered person for failure to furnish FORM GSTR-1 (supply details), FORM GSTR-5 (Non-resident taxable person) or FORM GSTR-5A (OIDAR) is being reduced to fifty rupees per day and shall be twenty rupees per day for NIL filers. The late fee payable for failure to furnish FORM GSTR-6 (Input Service Distributor) shall be fifty rupees per day.
-- Taxable persons who have obtained voluntary registration will now be permitted to apply for cancellation of registration even before the expiry of one year from the effective date of registration.
-- For migrated taxpayers, the last date for filing FORM GST REG-29 for cancellation of registration is being extended by further three months till 31st March, 2018.
-- The facility for generation, modification and cancellation of e-way bills is being provided on trial basis on the portal Once fully operational, the e-way bill system will start functioning on the portal
-- Certain modifications are being made to the e-way bill rules which are to be notified nationwide for inter-State movement with effect from 01.02.2018 and for intra-State movement with effect from a date to be announced separately by each State but not later than 01.06.2018.
The report and recommendations submitted by the Committee on Handicrafts were also accepted by the GST Council, the release added.
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India to set up $ 350 million solar development fund for financing projects

India will set up a $ 350 million Solar Development Fund for financing solar projects, Minister of State (for Power and New & Renewable Energy Raj Kumar Singh announced here yesterday.
Delivering the keynote address in the two-day ‘International Solar Alliance Forum’ at the Future World Energy Summit (WFES) 2018 here yesterday, Mr Singh said India has one of the fastest growing renewable energy programmes in the world and would achieve 175 GW target of installed renewable energy capacity well before 2020.
Congratulating the ISA for organising the ISA Forum as its first overseas outreach activity, he said, over the years,  renewable energy had become cheaper and was set to replace conventional energy, a healthy development.
On receipt of 15 ratifications, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework Agreement entered into force on the 6th December, 2017 thereby making ISA a de jure treaty-based international inter-governmental organisation. So far, 19 countries have ratified and 48 have signed the ISA Framework Agreement.
In one of its first outreach programmes post-ratification, the ISA hosted a two-day event ‘International Solar Alliance Forum’ on January 17-18 at the Future World Energy Summit (WFES) 2018. WFES is a signature event of a global initiative, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, hosted by Masdar scheduled from January 15-18. During the ISA event, an ISA Pavilion was also set up for dissemination of information about ISA and its activities and programmes.
On the first day of the ISA Forum, the Ministerial Plenary of ISA Energy Ministers was held. The ISA Ministerial was attended by seven Energy Ministers of ISA Member countries. They presented their views on benefits of collaboration, synergies, and knowledge sharing at the international level to scale up solar energy for universal energy access and investing in Innovations, Technology and R&D for solar projects followed by breakout sessions.
While formally opening the Ministerial session and welcoming the participants, Mr Upendra Tripathy, Interim Director General of ISA informed about exchange of LoIs/MoUs of nine solar related projects which various company and bankers signed early in the day.
He said more than 100 projects shall be signed by April 2018 under ISA umbrella. He also thanked member countries and various stakeholders making ISA a reality in a short time. He also extended an invitation for the 2nd RE-INVEST meet to be held in partnership with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, from April 19-21.
The Ministerial Plenary was followed by three technical panel discussions:  ISA a Trillion Dollar Opportunity; Networking of R&D Institutions in ISA Countries for Solar Innovation, Incubation & Start-Ups; and Best Practices for Solar Capacity Building in ISA Countries.
These sessions were attended by Energy Ministers, policymakers, Multilateral Banks & Finance Institutions, R&D Institutions & Innovators, solar project developers and manufacturers, investors and other stakeholders.
At the end of the ISA Ministerial session, the YES Bank committed financing solar projects of over $5 billion. CLP and NTPC Limited announced forging partnership deal with ISA and committed to make voluntary contribution of $1 million each to ISA fund corpus. IEA and GCF also announced entering into partnership with ISA.
Being an action-oriented organisation, ISA promotes actual on ground rolling out of solar projects. Therefore, during first half of the day nine companies exchanged LoIs/MoUs for solar related projects in the ISA Pavilion. The companies are: Vyonarc Development Ltd., Greenko Solar, Gensol Group and SOLARIG from Spain, Shakti Pump, Refex Energy, Amplus Solar, TATA Power, Jackson Solar and Zodiac Energy.
The Paris Declaration established ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries. Its major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.
The ISA brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate global demand, thereby reducing prices through bulk purchase, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity building.
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Jaitley holds pre-Budget consultations with Finance Ministers of States/UTs

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley held pre-Budget consultations with the Finance Ministers of all the States and Union Territories (with Legislature) here today.
Both the Ministers of State for Finance were present at the meeting. It was attended, among others, by the Chief Ministers of Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry, the Deputy Chief Ministers of Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Manipur and Tamil Nadu, 14 Finance Ministers/Ministers representing their States and senior officers from the States.
Representatives from the State Governments presented their views and offered a number of suggestions on various fiscal policy and budgetary measures that the Union Government may consider.
Mr. Jaitley stated that the suggestions made by the States/ UTs in the meeting and the memorandum submitted by them would be duly examined and suitably considered while formulating the Budget proposals of 2018-19, keeping in with the spirit of cooperative federalism.
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L&T Technology Services wins $50 million avionics contract from aerospace electronic systems manufacturer

L&T Technology Services Limited (LTTS), a pure-play engineering R&D services company, today said it had won a project worth $50 million spanning over five years from a leading aerospace electronic systems manufacturer. 
"The transformational deal significantly extends the engagement between the companies," a press release from the company said.
According to it, the award of the contract followed a rigorous validation process, with LTTS, a subsidiary of infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T), emerging as the winner to be the strategic supplier for the client's  ER&D pursuits.
Amit Chadha, President, Sales & Business Development and Whole-Time Director, L&T Technology Services commented on the deal, “The need for compelling user experience is of utmost importance like never before and aerospace customers are looking for end to end engineering partners for their new age aviation initiatives. This partnership with LTTS will help bring in our proven expertise in advanced data analytics and avionic simulations to drive product improvements across their product lines.”
The project with LTTS will result in transformation of the customer’s operations into a managed services model. This model will encapsulate support to both existing products and also for work related to next generation in-flight system, the release said.
"LTTS’ strategy of focusing on its top 30 customers and large deals pursuits are paying rich dividends. The latest deal also complements the momentum achieved by the company in the areas of autonomous cars, electric vehicles, infotainment & embedded devices to name a select few," it added.
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Piramal Finance Limited forays into hospitality sector

Piramal Finance Limited (PFL), a subsidiary of Piramal Enterprises Limited, has forayed into the hospitality sector with multiple transactions done in quick succession. 
The platform has committed Rs. 650 crore towards two marquee hotel assets in North India, followed by another Rs. 550 crore across another two assets in Bangalore and Pune, respectively, a press release from the company said.
The release said PFL deplloyed Rs. 650 crore in Vatika Hotels Pvt Ltd, thereby providing a comprehensive financing solution to the Vatika Group to consolidate their existing lenders and increase their stake in the company by providing an exit to existing equity investors. The investment was made against two established hotel assets being operated by Marriott. The Westin Gurgaon is a 313-room key hotel strategically located in Gurgaon’s central business district near IFFCO Chowk.
The hotel has been operational since 2010 and is a highly successful business-cum-leisure destination with consistently high occupancy rates and an established F&B and banqueting business. 
The Westin Resort Sohna is an established destination property developed as a weekend getaway located an hour away from IFFCO Chowk, it said.
Similarly, in one of the largest fund raising deals within the hospitality sector in Bangalore, PFL has sanctioned about Rs. 550 crore of structured debt towards the Advantage Raheja Group (promoted by Mr Deepak Raheja) to support their growth plans and enable a refinance of existing lenders across two hospitality projects – The JW Marriott in Bangalore and the Crowne Plaza in Pune. 
"Both the properties enjoy the advantage of being in prime locations and expect excellent growth in terms of Occupancy and Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR)," the release said.
"Hospitality is an evergreen sector and quality assets at good locations have thrived across business cycles. Hotels are long gestation projects and require long term financing partners who can provide tailor made solutions which can help the asset ride successfully across business cycles. PFL has always followed a partnership approach and will follow similar approach with respect to investments in hospitality with the ability to participate across the entire capital stack – be it senior debt opportunities, mezzanine funding, last mile funding towards completion and acquisition financing opportunities in the sector," the release said. 
Khushru Jijina, Managing Director, Piramal Finance Limited, said “Identifying a niche in the market and creating uniquely customized funding solutions has always been our forte and we have been fortunate in being able to apply the same across sectors in the past. The hospitality sector is uniquely positioned at the intersection of being both a real estate and a service oriented business in our opinion and through the combination of our Wholesale RE Funding platform, the Corporate Finance Group and our Capital Markets Group, we are able to service the needs of this industry across the entire capital stack, on behalf of both hotel owners as well as operators, on a holistic basis. I look forward to many more such transactions as we commit more resources towards the sector.”
Gaurav Bhalla, Director, Vatika Group, said “We are extremely pleased to have extended our partnership with the Piramal Group beyond residential and concluded a transaction against our hotel assets. We believe they bring a unique perspective along with an ability to  understand the business extremely well and have provided us with unique insights as well as creative and customized solutions time and again to meet our growth capital needs.“
Deepak Raheja, Promoter, Advantage Raheja Group, said “The team from Piramal was able to understand the industry dynamics and create a tailored solution that would not have otherwise been possible from a standard / typical lender. I am extremely pleased with our association which transcends beyond the provision of capital towards engagement on the growth and revenue optimization strategy for both the hotel assets and we look forward to scaling this relationship further.”
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myGate raises Rs. 16 crore to digitize security at gated premises

myGate, a mobile-based security management solution for gated premises, today announced that it has raised Rs. 16 crore (approximately $2.5 million) in its first round of funding, led by  Prime Venture Partners. 
Since its launch in Bengaluru in 2016, myGate has validated 24 million visits through their mobile app across 100,000 homes. The company will use the funds to invest in technology and scale to 2 million homes across the top seven cities within the next two years, a press release from the company said.
"As a testament to its popularity amongst gated communities, 5000 guards are already using myGate in Bengaluru," it said.
The release said the security services market in India is a $6 billion industry, according to a Grant Thornton report, of which the gated-premise security market, comprising manual guards and security equipment, is estimated at $2 billion. In the top seven cities in India, myGate estimates show that there are more than 100,000 gated communities with 35 million residents. 
"The company is focussed on tapping into this unaddressed market and redefining security at the gates," it said.
According to the release, security at gated communities has long followed conventional “man-guarding”, paper and pen system. The process is inefficient and error prone, making the life of security guards difficult. In addition, authentication of residents, visitors, and support staff is a huge challenge. Despite significant investments in physical infrastructure like access cards, boom barriers, biometrics, landline intercom, and others, residential premises are unable to keep track of domestic helps, visitors, delivery trucks, taxicabs and other vehicle movements. In addition, authentication of residents, visitors, and support staff is a huge challenge.
"myGate is a mobile-app-based system and offers a simple yet comprehensive solution by digitizing and often automating manual tasks. The solution comprises of Android app for security guards and an Android or iOS app for residents, with a fallback to a regular voice call for non-smartphone users. With this system all visitor entries and exits are logged digitally, with complete visibility and control of the resident. myGate also offers several advanced capabilities such as e-intercom (automatic visitor authentication), kids safety alerts, staff attendance, infrastructure-free vehicle management, touchless resident identification, clubhouse access management, management reporting, and visitor overstay alerts. 
"myGate’s two-day onboarding process combined with a pay-as-you-go (SaaS) commercial model has enabled it to be rapidly deployed at several hundred gated communities within one year of its launch," the release said.
Some of these include properties by builders like Sobha, Prestige, Purvankara, Rohan, Lodha, Salarpuria, Mantri, Adarsh Palm Retreat Villas, Purva Riviera, Prestige St. Johns Woods, Mantri Tranquil and many more. While the myGate’s primary focus is on residential communities, the technology and the solution are already being piloted at other gated premises, notably office buildings, schools and factories, it said.
Vijay Arisetty, CEO & Co-founder, myGate, said, “Security for gated-premises is a multi-billion market that is fundamentally underserved by often obsolete legacy providers and solutions. myGate provides an outstanding experience for people living in gated communities, allowing them to keep track of their visitors and all the relevant developments in the community with the help of an app. In Prime, we found a hands-on investment partner with a long-term vision and practical execution expertise; we are excited to have them join us as our extended team.”
Sanjay Swamy, Managing Partner, Prime Venture Partners, said, “I’m delighted to welcome MyGate to the Prime portfolio and feel privileged to be part of this journey. We first experienced MyGate as consumers and loved the product experience; when we met the team, we were very excited by their incredible vision to transform the physical security experience as well as their focus and relentless pursuit of excellence. MyGate is addressing a huge market opportunity and is already the undisputed leader in this space - this funding will help them further expand their thought-leadership and market-leadership!”
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Foreign exchange earnings through tourism up 17.9% to Rs. 19,514 crore in December, 2017

Foreign tourists in Kerala.
Foreign tourists in Kerala.
India's foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) through tourism increased by 17.9 percent to Rs. 19,514 crore in December, 2017 as compared to Rs. 16,558 crore in the same month of the previous year, an official statement said here today.
FEEs through tourism went up by 17% to Rs. 1,80,379 crore in calendar year 2017 from Rs.1,54,146  crore in 2016, it said.
In dollar terms, the FEES through tourism went up by 24.6% to $ 3.038 billion in December, 2017 as compared to $ 2.439 billion during the corresponding month of the previous year.
FEEs during 2017 were $ 27.693 billion with a growth of 20.8% over $ 22.923 billion in 2016, the release said.
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Defence Industry Development Meet in Chennai on Thursday

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will inaugurate a two-day ‘Defence Industry Development Meet’ here tomorrow.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami will be present on the occasion. Senior officials from the Ministry of Defence, State Governments, Services, Chairman OFB, CMDs of Defence PSUs, senior executives of DPSUs/OFB and private industries will also attend the event, an official press release said.
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre will attend the valedictory function on January 19.
The release said the objective of the meet is to forge new partnerships with private industry with the aim to achieve self-reliance in defence production under the overarching ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government.
The meet will focus on indigenization, import substitution and technology infusion. The event is part of the Ministry’s initiative to encourage and facilitate the participation of private industries especially MSMEs in defence manufacturing.
The event will provide private firms, especially vendors from Tamil Nadu region, an overview of the existing defence procurement policy, indigenization and outsourcing procedures of DPSUs/OFB and update them on the recent Government policy initiatives to promote indigenization and outsourcing and the opportunities thereon.
 More than 700 vendors are likely to participate in the meeting. Presentations/theme based Breakout sessions are scheduled to address the concerns of the private industry and to provide an opportunity to interact with DPSUs/MoD officials to clarify their individual queries. Breakout sessions on aerospace, land systems and naval equipment are also planned.
Defence exhibition stalls by DPSUs/OFB will be set up at the venue, showcasing items to be indigenized by private industry/MSMEs. A dedicated stall will also be earmarked for MSMEs from Tamil Nadu to showcase their products/capabilities.
Indian Army, Navy and Air Force will project their requirements, especially related to MSMEs for indigenization.
"This meet will provide an opportunity to vendors to interact with the DPSUs/OFB and understand their requirements and their procurement procedures/processes etc. At the same time, DPSUs / OFB will get an insight into the capabilities of the private industries in the market to enhance their outsourcing avenues.
"This event is expected to bring all Tamil Nadu defence related vendors and suppliers under one roof and facilitate the creation of an aerospace and defence ecosystem in the region," the release added.
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Hotel classification guidelines streamlined to make them simple, transparent

Hotel classification guidelines have been streamlined to make them simple, transparent and time-bound, an official press release said here today.
The application for classification and payments of fees have been made through digital platform only and the prevalent options of the application by post and payment of fees by demand draft have been done away with. 
This has ensured the eradication of possibility of delay/manipulation caused by human interference, the release said.
Similarly, the time limit for ensuring compliances on deficiencies of a hotel, the prevalent system had an open-ended scope without any prescribed time limit. The recent amendments have included a time limit of three months, thus removing any discretion in the matter. This will ensure a time-bound compliance and speedy disposal of cases, it said.
The amendments have made it clear that liquor shops/liquor stores in the premises of the hotel other than bars will not be considered for classification under star hotels "with alcohol" category, to remove any ambiguity.
It has been made mandatory for all the hotels classified under all categories to display their classification status prominently at the reception and on their websites under a separate icon on the opening page, which will display the order of classification issued by the Ministry of Tourism.
The amendments have included a detailed timeline within which the classification has to be completed. In every case where the required documents and procedures are fulfilled, the classification will be completed within 90 days.
Event-wise time limits (like inspection, uploading inspection report, submission of compliance in case of deficiencies, approval of Competent Authority and uploading of classification letter etc.) have been fixed to ensure that all the cases with no deficiency /compliance issues can be classified within 90 days of the date of application, the release added.
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Direct Tax collections for 2017-2018 show growth of 18.7% up to January 15

Direct Tax collections in financial year 2017-18 up to January 15, 2018 grew by 18.7% to Rs. 6.89 lakh crore over the net collections in the corresponding period of the previous year.
An official press release quoting the provisional figures said that the net  Direct Tax collections represented 70.3% of the total Budget Estimates of Direct Taxes for F.Y. 2017-18 (Rs. 9.8 lakh crore). Gross collections (before adjusting for refunds) have increased by 13.5% to Rs. 8.11 lakh crore during April, 2017 to 15th January, 2018. 
Refunds amounting to Rs.1.22 lakh crore have been issued during April, 2017 to 15th January, 2018, it said.
"There has been consistent and significant improvement in the position of Direct Tax collections during the current fiscal across all parameters. The growth rate of Total Gross DT Collections has improved from 10.0% in Q1, to 10.3% in Q2, to 12.6% in Q3 and to 13.5% as on 15th January, 2018. Similarly, the growth rate of Total Net DT Collections has climbed up from 14.8% in Q1, to 15.8% in Q2, to 18.2% in Q3 and to 18.7% as on 15th January, 2018.
"The growth has been particularly good in the collections under Corporate Income Tax (CIT). Gross CIT Collections, which were growing at the rate of 4.8% in Q1, attained a growth rate of 5.1% in Q2, 10.1% in Q3 and 11.4% as on 15th January, 2018. Similarly, the growth rate of Net CIT Collections increased from 10.8% in Q2, to 17.4% in Q3 and to 18.2% as on 15th January, 2018," the release added.
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