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Business & Economy

Modi defends Govt. on economic performance, says growth decline would be reversed

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday strongly defended the performance of his Government on the economic front and acknowledged the slowdown in growth to 5.7 percent in the previous quarter, asserting that it was committed to reversing this trend.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today strongly defended the performance of his Government on the economic front and acknowledged the slowdown in growth to 5.7 percent in the previous quarter, asserting that it was committed to reversing this trend.
 
Addressing the inaugural function of the Golden Jubilee Year of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) here, he said this was not the first time that economic growth had come down to such levels and said there were as many as eight instances during the ten-year rule of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government between 2004 and 2014.
 
He said the low growth rates on those occasions had been accompanied by higher Inflation, higher current account deficit and higher fiscal deficit.
 
In this context, Mr. Modi cautioned people against elements who only wish to spread a feeling of pessimism in the country.
 
At the outset, the Prime Minister said he was happy to be amongst Company  Secretaries, who are responsible for ensuring that companies follow the law, and maintain their accounts properly. He said their work helps establish the country's corporate culture. Their advice has a bearing on the country's corporate governance, he added.
 
He said there were a few people who attempt to weaken the honesty of the nation's social structures and lower the nation's dignity. He said that the Government is working towards cleansing the system of such elements.
 
Mr. Modi said that, as a result of the efforts of the Government, the economy is functioning with less cash. The cash to GDP ratio has come down to 9 per cent, from 12 per cent before demonetization, he said.
 
He said there was a time when India was considered to be part of the Fragile Five economies, which were dragging down global recovery. 
 
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He said the Government had taken several reform-related decisions and the process would continue. He asserted that the country's financial stability would be maintained.
 
He said the steps taken by the Government would take the country to a new league of development in the years to come. He said that a premium would be placed on honesty, and the interests of the honest would be protected.
 
Mr. Modi gave details of the massive increase in investment and outlays in key sectors over the past three years. He said 87 reform measures had been carried out in 21 sectors in this period. 
 
The Prime Minister said that in the policy and planning of the Government, care is being taken to ensure that savings accrue to the poor and the middle class and their lives change for the better.
 
The Prime Minister asserted that as he works to empower the people and the nation, even though he faces criticism on some occasions, he cannot mortgage the country's future, for his own present.
 
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Cabinet apprised of India-Swiss MoU on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector

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The Union Cabinet was today apprised of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Railways and the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications of Swiss Confederation on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector. 
 
The MoU, signed on August 31 this year, enable technical cooperation in the areas of  Traction Rolling stock; EMU and train sets; Traction Propulsion Equipments; Freight and Passenger Cars; Tilting Trains; Railway Electrification Equipments; Train scheduling and operation improvement; Railway Station modernization; Multimodal transport and Tunnelling technology, an official press release said.  
 
The Railway Ministry has signed MoUs for technical cooperation in the rail sector with various foreign Governments and National Railways.
 
The identified areas of cooperation include high-speed corridors, speed raising of existing routes, development of world-class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure.
 
The cooperation is achieved through the exchange of information on developments in areas of railways technology & operations, knowledge sharing, technical visits, training & seminars and workshops in areas of mutual interest.
 
The MoUs provide a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector.
 
They facilitate the exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing, the release added.
 
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RBI keeps key policy repo rate unchanged at 6.0 percent

The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday decided to keep its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility unchanged at 6.0 percent in keeping with its aim of keeping inflation under control while supporting growth.

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today decided to keep its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.0 percent in keeping with its aim of keeping inflation under control while supporting growth.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.25 per cent.
 
"The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth," the central bank said in its Fourth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2017-18 on the basis of the resolution of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
 
The resolution said the decision was taken on the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation at a meeting of the MPC here today.
 
The statement said that, among the MPC members, Dr. Chetan Ghate, Dr. Pami Dua, Dr. Michael Debabrata Patra, Dr. Viral V. Acharya and RBI Governor Urjit R. Patel were in favour of the monetary policy decision, while Dr. Ravindra H. Dholakia voted for a policy rate reduction of at least 25 basis points. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by October 18, 2017.
 
The MPC resolution noted that, in August, headline inflation was projected at 3 per cent in Q2 and 4.0-4.5 per cent in the second half of 2017-18. Actual inflation outcomes so far have been broadly in line with projections, though the extent of the rise in inflation excluding food and fuel has been somewhat higher than expected. 
 
"The inflation path for the rest of 2017-18 is expected to be shaped by several factors. First, the assessment of food prices going forward is largely favourable, though the first advance estimates of kharif production pose some uncertainty. Early indicators show that prices of pulses which had declined significantly to undershoot trend levels in recent months, have now begun to stabilise. Second, some price revisions pending the goods and services tax (GST) implementation have been taking place. Third, there has been a broad-based increase in CPI inflation excluding food and fuel. Finally, international crude prices, which had started rising from early July, have firmed up further in September. 
 
"Taking into account these factors, inflation is expected to rise from its current level and range between 4.2-4.6 per cent in the second half of this year, including the house rent allowance by the Centre," the statement said.
 
The resolution said that, as noted in the August policy, there are factors that continue to impart upside risks to this baseline inflation trajectory: (a) implementation of farm loan waivers by States may result in possible fiscal slippages and undermine the quality of public spending, thereby exerting pressure on prices; and (b) States’ implementation of the salary and allowances award is not yet considered in the baseline projection; an increase by States similar to that by the Centre could push up headline inflation by about 100 basis points above the baseline over 18-24 months, a statistical effect that could have potential second round effects. 
 
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"However, adequate food stocks and effective supply management by the Government may keep food inflation more benign than assumed in the baseline," it said.
 
Turning to growth projections, the statement said the loss of momentum in Q1 of 2017-18 and the first advance estimates of kharif foodgrains production are early setbacks that impart a downside to the outlook. 
 
"The implementation of the GST so far also appears to have had an adverse impact, rendering prospects for the manufacturing sector uncertain in the short term. This may further delay the revival of investment activity, which is already hampered by stressed balance sheets of banks and corporates. 
 
"Consumer confidence and overall business assessment of the manufacturing and services sectors surveyed by the Reserve Bank weakened in Q2 of 2017-18; on the positive side, firms expect a significant improvement in business sentiment in Q3. Taking into account the above factors, the projection of real GVA growth for 2017-18 has been revised down to 6.7 per cent from the August 2017 projection of 7.3 per cent, with risks evenly balanced," it said.
 
"Imparting an upside to this baseline, household consumption demand may get a boost from upward salary and allowances revisions by states. Teething problems linked to the GST and bandwidth constraints may get resolved relatively soon, allowing growth to accelerate in H2. On the downside, a faster than expected rise in input costs and lack of pricing power may put further pressure on corporate margins, affecting value added by industry. Moreover, consumer confidence of households polled in the Reserve Bank’s survey has weakened in terms of the outlook on employment, income, prices faced and spending incurred," it said.
 
The MPC observed that CPI inflation has risen by around two percentage points since its last meeting. These price pressures have coincided with an escalation of global geopolitical uncertainty and heightened volatility in financial markets due to the US Fed’s plans of balance sheet unwinding and the risk of normalisation by the European Central Bank. 
 
"Such juxtaposition of risks to inflation needs to be carefully managed. Although the domestic food price outlook remains largely stable, generalised momentum is building in prices of items excluding food, especially emanating from crude oil. The possibility of fiscal slippages may add to this momentum in the future," the statement said.
 
The MPC also acknowledged the likelihood of the output gap widening, but requires more data to better ascertain the transient versus sustained headwinds in the recent growth prints. Accordingly, the MPC decided to keep the policy rate unchanged. The MPC also decided to keep the policy stance neutral and monitor incoming data closely.
 
"The MPC remains committed to keeping headline inflation close to 4 per cent on a durable basis.
 
"The MPC was of the view that various structural reforms introduced in the recent period will likely be growth augmenting over the medium- to long-term by improving the business environment, enhancing transparency and increasing formalisation of the economy.
 
"The Reserve Bank continues to work towards the resolution of stressed corporate exposures in bank balance sheets which should start yielding dividends for the economy over the medium term," it said.
 
The MPC reiterated that it is imperative to reinvigorate investment activity which, in turn, would revive the demand for bank credit by industry as existing capacities get utilised and the requirements of new capacity open up to be financed. 
 
"Recapitalising public sector banks adequately will ensure that credit flows to the productive sectors are not impeded and growth impulses not restrained. In addition, the following measures could be undertaken to support growth and achieve a faster closure of the output gap: a concerted drive to close the severe infrastructure gap; restarting stalled investment projects, particularly in the public sector; enhancing ease of doing business, including by further simplification of the GST; and ensuring faster rollout of the affordable housing program with time-bound single-window clearances and rationalisation of excessively high stamp duties by states," it said.
 
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Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 55.02/bbl

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The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, fell to $ 55.02 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 55.36 per bbl on the previous day.
 
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs. 3606.86 per bbl on 3.10.2017 as compared to Rs. 3617.76 per bbl on 2.10.2017, an official press release said.
 
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 65.55 per US$ on 3.10.2017 as compared to 65.36 per US$ on 2.10.2017, the release added.
 
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Naidu launches national highway, waterway projects in Andhra Pradesh

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Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated or laid the foundation stones  for several National Highway projects and a project for development of the Muktyala-Vijayawada stretch of Krishna River (National Waterway – 4) at a function here yesterday.
 
Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport & Highways and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari, Andhra Pradesh Governor E. S. L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
Seven national highway (NH) projects were dedicated to the nation and foundation stones were laid for six NH projects in Andhra Pradesh, the total cost of all the projects being Rs. 4,193 crore, an official press release said.
 
Foundation stone for the Phase-I for development of Krishna River (National Waterway -4) was also laid. In the first phase of the project, the stretch between Muktayala and Vijayawada will be developed for transportation. The total project cost is Rs. 7,015 crore and the length of the waterway 315 km.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Naidu said interlinkingof rivers and protection of rivers was the sacred duty of everyone in the country.
 
He said that, in Andhra Pradesh till 2014, the total length of national highways was 4193 km and 3720 km of new highways have been declared since then. Total investment of Rs. 1 lakh crore is planned for development of national highways under various schemes in Andhra Pradesh, he said.
 
He said the Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Scheme, which linked Krishna and Godavari rivers, saved Krishna delta from a drought-like situation arising from water scarcity in river Krishna. He said that more and more interlinking of rivers will be beneficial for farmers who feed the nation. Everyone should take active part in this noble cause, he said.
 
Mr. Naidu congratulated the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister for making Telugu language mandatory in schools. He advised the state government to make knowledge of Telugu compulsory to get jobs in Andhra Pradesh and also to make it a mandatory subject for all students, irrespective of the medium of instruction school adopts, in the state. He said he was not against learning other languages but only wanted people to be proficient in their own mother tongue before pursuing other languages.
 
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Mr. Gadkari said  that the Union Government would spend more than Rs. 1 lakh crore on improving national highways in Andhra Pradesh and it would give a tremendous boost to the development of the state. He said a six-lane access controlled greenfield Amaravathi Expressway will be built to connect the new capital city Amaravathi with Anantapur and also provide connectivity to Kurnool and Kadapa. The project has been approved  with a total length of 557 km and cost of about Rs. 25,000 crore. 
 
He added that the Andhra Pradesh Government is preparing the detailed project report (DPR) and it is in the process of acquiring land.
 
The Minister also said that under Sagaramala programme, several port-related projects would be taken up in the state. The capacity of the Visakhapatnam port would be expanded. Visakhapatnam-Chennai industrial corridor was another major project which would benefit the state enormously and it would be taken up expeditiously, he added.
 
Mr. Gadkari  gave assurance that the Polavaram irrigation project would  be completed before the next General Election in 2019 and the Union Government would render all necessary assistance to the State Government for the purpose.
 
The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister thanked the Union Minister and said he was confident that Polavaram project would be completed on time, with the Centre's assistance.
 
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Rajnath Singh distributes scholarship cheques to children of CAPF, AR personnel

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today distributed eleven scholarship cheques to school going children of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles (AR) personnel who sacrificed their lives in the service of the nation.
 
The remaining 172 scholarship funds were digitally transferred to the beneficiaries by the sponsors, Sarojini Damodaran Foundation (SDF), an official press release said.
 
The SDF initiated the provision of scholarship to children of CAPFs personnel in the year 2016. The Ministry of Home Affairs carried out an exercise and identified 295 children from different CAPFs and AR families and decided about scholarship in consultation with SDF of Rs. 6000 per child.
 
This year, 183 children have been identified from different CAPFs and MHA and SDF decided to provide the scholarship to these children for subsequent years.
 
In his brief address, the Minister noted that the SDF has been engaged in several philanthropic activities including care for the elderly and the weaker sections of society.
 
Senior Officers of MHA and CAPFs, Ms Kumari Shibulal, Patron, SDF and family members of CAPF personnel attended the function.
 
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Govt. reduces basic excise duty on petrol, diesel by Rs. 2 per litre

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The Government of India today decided to reduce the basic excise duty rate on petrol and diesel, both branded and unbranded, by Rs. 2 per litre with effect from tomorrow.
 
A press release from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas said the decision was taken in order to cushion the impact of rising international prices of crude petroleum oil and petrol and diesel on the retail selling prices of petrol and diesel as well as to protect the interest of the common man.
 
The release said the revenue loss on account of these reductions in excise duty would be about Rs. 26,000 crore in a full year, and about Rs. 13,000 crore during the remaining part of the current financial year.
 
"Earlier due to the increase in the international prices of petrol and diesel, during the last few weeks, the retail selling prices (RSP) of petrol and diesel at Delhi have risen to Rs. 70.83/litre and Rs. 59.07/litre, respectively, as on 2nd October 2017. This rise in the prices of petrol and diesel is also reflected in WPI inflation, which has increased to 3.24% for the month of August 2017, as compared to 1.88% for the month of July 2017. This also prompted the Government to act swiftly in this regard," the release added.
 
Later, the Ministry of Finance said in a separate press release that the measure would help reduce the prices of petrol and diesel and give relief to consumers.
 
"As a result of reduction in excise duty, the decrease in prices of petrol and diesel will be Rs 2.50 per litre and Rs 2.25 per litre, respectively, at Delhi," it said.
 
"The Government is monitoring the developments in the prices of petrol and diesel in the international as well as domestic market. In view of coming agricultural season – harvesting of Kharif crops and sowing of Rabi crops; and in the interest of consumers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken the decision for giving relief to the farmers and consumers in general. The Government stands committed to take all necessary steps to protect the well-being of consumers in the country. 
 
"State Governments are also being requested to make reduction in VAT imposed by them on petrol and diesel so as to give more relief to consumers," the release added.
 
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India's eight core industries grow by 4.9% in August 2017

A coal power station.
A coal power station.
India's eight core industries, which have a combined weight of 40.27 percent in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), grew by 4.9 percent in August 2017 as compared to the same month of the previous year, an official statement said here today, quoting provisional data.
 
The base year of the Index of Eight Core Industries has been revised from the year 2004-05 to 2011-12 from April, 2017.
 
The statement said the combined Index of Eight Core Industries stood at 123.6 in August. Its cumulative growth during April-August, 2017-18 was 3.05 %, it said.
 
According to the statement, coal production, which has a weight of 10.33% in the IIP, increased by 15.3% in August, 2017 over August, 2016. Its cumulative index declined by 0.2% during April-August, 2017-18 from the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
Crude cil production (weight: 8.98 %) declined by 1.6 % in August, 2017 from August, 2016. Its cumulative index declined by 0.3% during April-August, 2017-18 from the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
Natural gas production (weight: 6.88 %) increased by 4.2 % in August, 2017 over August, 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 4.8 % during April-August, 2017-18 over the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
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Petroleum refinery production (weight: 28.04%) increased by 2.4 % in August, 2017 over August, 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 1.0 % during April- August, 2017-18 over the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
Fertilizer production (weight: 2.63 %) declined by 0.7 % in August, 2017 from August, 2016. Its cumulative index declined by 1.1 % during April-August, 2017-18 from the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
Steel production (weight: 17.92 %) increased by 3.0 % in August, 2017 over August, 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 6.0 % during April-August, 2017-18 over the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
Cement production (weight: 5.37%) declined by 1.3 % in August, 2017 from August, 2016. Its cumulative index declined by 3.3 % during April-August, 2017-18 from the corresponding period of previous year.
 
Electricity generation (weight: 19.85%) increased by 10.3 % in August, 2017 over August, 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 6.5 % during April-August, 2017-18 over the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
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Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 55.36/bbl

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The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, fell to $ 55.36 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 55.94 per bbl on the previous publishing day of September 29.
 
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs. 3617.76 per bbl on 2.10.2017 as compared to Rs. 3656.18 per bbl on 29.09.2017, an official press release said.
 
The rupee closed unchanged at Rs. 65.36 per US$ on 2.10.2017 as compared per US$ on 29.09.2017, it added.
 
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Nikkei India PMI stays at 51.2 in September, unchanged from August

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The Nikkei India Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), at 51.2 in September 2017, was unchanged from August, indicative of a modest improvement in manufacturing sector business conditions during the month, and one that was below the long-run trend of 54.1.
 
The PMI has now registered above 50.0 for two successive months, a press release from Nikkei said.
 
Growth in the consumer and intermediate goods categories offset a contraction in the investment goods sector. Inflows of new orders increased for the second month in succession during September. The rate of growth softened from the preceding month and was marginal overall. Where an increase was registered, firms cited stronger domestic demand conditions. the release said.
 
"Those panellists that recorded lower new business commented on the negative impact of Goods and Service Tax (GST). Meanwhile, new export orders decreased, thereby ending a three-month period of expansion as demand from international markets reduced. That said, the rate of contraction was fractional," the release said.
 
According to the release, September saw a sustained expansion in the Indian manufacturing sector, supported by increases in both output and new orders. However, the rates of expansion eased slightly in both cases. Reflecting greater inflows of new work, Indian manufacturers raised their staffing levels, and at the fastest pace since October 2012. Meanwhile, post-production inventories reduced during September at a survey record pace. Cost burdens increased further over the month. Consequently, firms raised their output charges to pass on higher input costs to customers, it said.
 
"Mirroring the trend for new orders, output increased for the second consecutive month as the manufacturing sector continued to rebound from July’s decline. That said, the rate of growth softened from the prior month, and was modest.
 
"Favourable economic conditions and strong underlying demand were linked by survey respondents to greater production. Reflecting improvements in new orders (and subsequent capacity pressures), manufacturing producers continued to increase their payroll numbers in September. In fact, the rate of employment growth quickened to the fastest since October 2012. Staffing levels have risen in three of the past four months. That said, the rate of employment was modest," the release said.
 
According to it, the introduction of GST, as well as greater prices for steel and petroleum products reportedly caused cost pressures to intensify during September. The rate of inflation was modest, and remained below the long-run series average. Firms raised their selling prices to protect margins amid higher inflationary pressures. Nonetheless, due to competitive conditions, firms were only able to increase output charges at a marginal pace.
 
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The release said destocking continued at the end of the third quarter, with both pre- and post-production inventories reducing. The latter decreased at the most pronounced rate observed since the inception of the series. Survey respondents reported that orders had been fulfilled directly from existing stocks.
 
“September data painted an encouraging picture as the sector continued to recover from the disruptions caused by the introduction of the GST in July. This sustained amelioration reflected expansions in new work and output, supported by stronger domestic demand conditions. Subsequently, business confidence strengthened among manufacturers as they reportedly anticipate long-term benefits from recent government policies. This was confirmed as the sector experienced meaningful gains in employment. That said, output and new business growth remained weak in the context of historical survey data," Ms. Aashna Dodhia, Economist at IHS Markit and author of the report, said.
 
"The strengthening of the Indian rupee may put a strain on efforts to rejuvenate demand for Indian goods from export markets. Meanwhile, cost pressures intensified during September, but inflation remained weaker than the long-run trend. “The lingering effects of recent economic shocks continue to cast a shadow on economic growth as IHS Markit downgrades its real GDP growth forecast to 6.8% for fiscal year 2017/18. It will be interesting to see if India’s new economic advisory council will bolster its path to recovery," she added.
 
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Union Ministers, over 100 foreign delegates to participate in CyFy 2017

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Two Union ministers and over hundred scholars, experts and policy-makers from across the world will participate in the CyFy 2017, the two-day India Conference on Technology, Security and Society, beginning here tomorrow.
 
Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology and Law and Justice, and Mr Mark Field, UK’s Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, will speak in the Ministerial Panel on the first day tomorrow. 
 
The other speakers in this panel are Observer Research Foundation (ORF)Chairman Sunjoy Joshi and its Vice President and CyFy chair Samir Saran.
 
Ms. Smriti Irani, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Textiles, will address the conference in the valedictory conversation.
 
The two-day conference, organised by ORF, will see around 130 speakers, mostly from abroad, and cyber stakeholders address the fifth edition of the Cyfy, a prominent feature in India’s cyber discourse.
 
Former Prime Minister of Sweden and Special Representative, Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, Mr Carl Bildt, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, and Commissioner, Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, Mr Uri Rosenthal, Mr Sanjay Kumar Verma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Mr. Alex Stamos, chief security officer of Facebook, Mr. Colin Crowell, head of global public policy, Twitter, and Mr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Ayog, are some of the speakers at the sessions.
 
The keynote addresses will be delivered by Mr. Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology; Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament, and Mr Gulshan Rai, National Cybersecurity Coordinator, Prime Minister’s Office.
 
The conference will have sessions on ‘The big questions: Technology, security and society’; ‘No man’s LAN: The militarisation of cyberspace’; ‘War and peace in the digital age’; ‘Predatry data: Gender and tech’; ‘Harvesting the cloud’; ‘Blue, while and chrome: The future of work’; ‘Chasing Unicorns: The startup generation’; ‘Digital vulnerabilities: Capacity building for tracking cyber crime’; ‘The new code war’; ‘Command and CTRL: Emerging Regime on Lethal Autonomous Weapons’; ‘Encryption: The end of surveillance?’; ‘Unbundling ‘Convergence’; ‘Information operations’; ‘Security through identity’; ‘Dangerous disclosures: Cyber security incident reporting’; ‘Securing the digital economy’; ‘Hearts and minds: Countering extremism through media’ and ‘Radical narratives: Countering violence outline’.
 
This year’s edition of CyFy will wind off on October 4 with conversation with Information Minister Smriti Irani.
 
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IGL hikes selling prices of CNG, PNG in Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Rewari

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The public sector Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) today hiked the selling prices of compressed natural gas (CNG) and piped natural gas (PNG) in Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad and Rewari from midnight tonight following the recent notification of the Government of India increasing the prices of domestically produced natural gas.
 
This revision in prices would result in an increase of 95 paise per kg in the consumer price of CNG in Delhi and Rs 1.26 per kg in the consumer price of CNG in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad, a press release from IGL said.
 
The new consumer price of Rs. 39.71 per kg in Delhi and Rs 49.20 per kg in Noida, Greater Noida & Ghaziabad would be effective from midnight tonight.  The price of CNG being supplied in Rewari as a part of trial run is being increased by Re 1 per kg from Rs 49.67 per kg to Rs 50.67 per kg, it said.
 
The release said IGL would continue to offer a discount of Rs 1.50 per kg in the selling prices of CNG for filling between 12.30 am and 5.30 am at select outlets. Thus, the consumer price of CNG would be Rs. 38.21 per kg in Delhi and Rs 47.70 per kg in Noida, Greater Noida & Ghaziabad during 12.30 am to 5.30 am at the select CNG stations across the region.
 
 IGL has also announced increase in its domestic PNG prices from tomorrow. The consumer price of PNG to the households in Delhi has been increased by 80 paise per scm from Rs 25.19 per scm to Rs. 25.99 per scm. Due to differential tax structure in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the applicable price of domestic PNG to households in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad would be Rs 27.64 per scm, which has been increased by 91 paise per scm from existing Rs 26.73 per scm.
 
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In Rewari, the applicable price of domestic PNG would be Rs 27.63 per scm. IGL is supplying PNG to nearly 5.5 lakh households in Delhi and nearly 2.5 lakh households in Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad and Rewari.
 
"The revision in retail prices of CNG and domestic PNG has been effected after taking into account the overall impact on the cost as a result of the increase in prices of domestically produced natural gas notified by the government.
 
"However, this increase would have a marginal impact on the per km running cost of vehicles. For autos, the increase would be 2 paise per km, for taxi it would be 5 paise per km and in case of buses, the increase would be 27 paise per km," the release said.
 
"With the revised price, CNG would still offer over 59% savings towards the running cost when compared to petrol driven vehicles at the current level of prices. When compared to diesel driven vehicles, the economics in favour of CNG at revised price would be over 32%," it said.
 
IGL is meeting fuel requirements of over 9.75 lakh vehicles running on CNG in NCR through a network of 425 CNG stations. 
 
IGL is a joint venture of GAIL (India) Ltd., BPCL and Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
 
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Jaitley to pay two-day visit to Bangladesh from Tuesday

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will leave here tomorrow on a two-day official visit to Dhaka during  which he will hold a bilateral meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Abul Maal A Muhith and call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
 
An official press release said that Mr. Jaitley would deliver the inaugural address at the business meeting between Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FBCCI) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) tomorrow afternoon.
 
In the evening, a dinner will be hosted by the High Commissioner of India, Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla in honour of Mr. Jaitley.
 
On October 4, apart from the bilateral meeting with Mr. Muhith, a dollar credit line agreement is likely to be signed between the Bangladesh Government and the Export-Import Bank of India for the third line of credit.
 
Besides that, “Joint Interpretative Notes on the Agreement between India and Bangladesh for the Promotion and Protection of Investments” are also likely to be signed during the visit, the release said.
 
Later, Mr. Jaitley and Mr. Muhith will launch the Cashless Visa Services. After that, Mr. Jaitley will deliver a talk on the “Macro-economic Initiatives of the Government of India: Financial Inclusion, Demonetization and Cashless Economy”. 
 
His meeting with Sheikh Hasina is expected to take place in the afternoon that day, the release said.
 
In the evening of October 4, Mr. Muhith will host a dinner in honour of Mr. Jaitley.
 
Mr. Jaitley is expected to fly back home on October 5 morning, the release added.
 
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First crude oil cargo from United States received at Paradip Port


 
The first crude oil cargo of 1.6 million barrels bought by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) from the United States was received at Paradip Port in Odisha, on the east coast, today. 
 
A sample of the crude was symbolically presented to Mr. Sunjay Sudhir, Joint Secretary (International Cooperation) in the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas by Mr. Anish Aggarwal, Director (Pipelines), IndianOil. 
 
Ms. Katherine B Hadda, US Consul General in Hyderabad and senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs and IndianOil were also present at the ceremony, a press release from the company said.
 
Calling it as a new chapter in the history of Indo-US trade, particularly in the oil and gas sector, Mr. Sudhir said that the inclusion of the US as a source for crude oil imports by India's largest refiner will go a long way in mitigating the risks arising out of geo-political disruptions. He hoped that the new arrangement would also usher in price stability and energy security for India, which is witnessing robust growth in demand for petroleum products.
 
MT New Prosperity, a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), of capacity 2 million barrels of crude, left US Gulf Coast on August 19 and arrived at Paradip port today. IndianOil will process the crude at its East-Coast base refineries, located at Paradip, Haldia, Barauni and Bongaigaon, the release said.
 
IndianOil, which became the first Indian public sector refiner from India to source US crude, has placed a cumulative order of 3.9 million barrels from the US. Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, India's two other public sector refiners have also placed orders for about 2.95 million barrels and 1 million barrels, respectively, for their Kochi and Vizag refineries from the US. 
 
The total volume of the crude presently contracted by Indian public sector refineries is, therefore, 7.85 million barrels. The three refiners are sourcing sweet, sour and heavy crudes for their refineries which are equipped to handle complex mix of crude oils. 
 
Indian companies, both public and private, have made sizeable investments in US Shale assets with a total investment of approximate US $ 5 billion. Indian companies have also contracted supply of LNG from the US and the first shipment is expected to be delivered to India in January 2018.
 
"In the recent times, India-US bilateral relations have developed into a strategic partnership of global significance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the US in June 2017 had mentioned that India was looking to strengthen its hydrocarbon engagement with US. The deal to source crude from the US came through shortly after the visit of Prime Minister to the US. The sourcing of the crude from the US is, therefore, a step towards strengthening of India-US bilateral relations in the hydrocarbon sector. The US and India are the world's largest and third largest consumers of energy respectively. Rich in hydrocarbon assets, the US can be a significant supplier for Indian demand," the release added.
 
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Gadkari to perform "bhoomi poojan" for Wardha Dry Port on Monday

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Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari will perform the "bhoomi poojan" ceremony of the Wardha Dry  Port at Sindi in Wardha, Maharashtra tomorrow.
 
The dry port is being developed by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in a bid to provide effective logistics services to the industries in the Vidarbha region and improve cargo throughput at the port, an official press release said.
 
The release said the proposed dry port is to be constructed over an area of 350 acres in phased development with a total estimated investment of Rs 500 crore. The Phase-I would involve development of around 25 hectares (ha) of the total area, with an estimated cost of Rs.180 crore (including private investment of Rs. 79 crore).
 
The proposed dry port is estimated to generate traffic of almost 7,000-9,000 TEUs in next 5-7 years. The traffic is expected to ramp up gradually to around 30,000 TEUs in the medium term (by 2030), considering the geographical location advantage, upcoming road and railway connectivity, and increased focus on warehousing and other ancillary industries in the region. 
 
The project is expected to offer direct employment of at least 1000 persons. The project would have the necessary facilities as one-stop shop for export-import based industries such as customs clearance facilities, Container Freight Station, warehousing space, cold storage, liquid storage, truck terminals, and so on.
 
According to the release, the site is strategically located near the industrial belt of Nagpur and Wardha and is well connected to the other industrial regions in Vidarbha.
 
The dry port will benefit rice exporters, textile and garments industry, steel and minerals traders, scrap trade, plastics and paper pulp, electrical machinery, automotive parts manufacturers and others located in the region. 
 
Besides, domestic cargo movement is also expected to be routed through the dry port due to its logistical proximity to upcoming Nagpur-Mumbai super communication expressway, national highways and railway connectivity.  The dry port shall get connected to the Central Railways network through Nagpur-Wardha line, to Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication expressway and six lane national highways connecting major cities of Central, Southern and Northern India, the release added.
 
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Jaitley says GST slabs can be reduced only when it becomes revenue neutral plus

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said that there was room for improvement in the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime but there would be scope to think in terms of fewer slabs only when it became revenue neutral plus.
 
"To ensure this, we have to certainly ensure larger presence," he said while delivering the valedictory address at the NACIN Founding Day and Passing-out Ceremony of the 67th Batch of IRS (C&CE) at NACIN in Faridabad near here.
 
Mr. Jaitley said there are no grey areas in implementation of tax laws. Taxes which are payable have to be paid and which are not payable do not have to be paid, he said. 
 
He urged the officers to choose the path of working with dignity, self-respect and honesty from the very beginning of their careers. The peer group is the best to judge the performance of an officer, he said.
 
National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics (NACIN) celebrated its founding day today for the first time. It started as a Training School on this day in 1955.
 
On the occasion, the passing-out ceremony of Indian Revenue Service (C&CE) probationers of the 2015 batch was also held. The Finance Minister also inspected the passing-out parade and took the salute. Ms. Vanaja N. Sarna, Chairperson, CBEC, welcomed Mr. Jaitley on behalf of NACIN. 
 
The 2015 batch consisted of 147 officer trainees, including 32 women officers. 
 
Mr. Jaitley awarded medals to the five officer trainees who have excelled in different areas of training for their exceptional achievement. Young officer Farah Zachariah was awarded with the Finance Minister’s gold medal for being the overall best officer trainee. 
 
He also unveiled the NACIN Coffee Table Book and Year Book on the occasion. The Coffee Table Book traces the history of the academy as well as of the IRS. 
 
During the ceremony, international capacity building partners of NACIN such as WCO, UNEP, UNODC, ADB and others were also felicitated by the Finance Minister. 
 
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Direct tax revenue grows 15.7% to Rs 3.7 lakh crore in current FY: Jaitley

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Stating that direct tax revenue recorded a growth of 15.7% in the current financial year 2017-18 to Rs. 3.7 lakh crore as per collections up to September 18, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the Income Tax Department had taken various initiatives in the last three years to bring about efficiency, transparency and fairness in tax administration.
 
Speaking at a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry, Mr. Jaitley said a Single Page ITR-1 (SAHAJ) form was introduced for tax payers having income up to Rs. 50 lakh.
 
He said the rate of tax for individuals having income of Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs.5 lakh was reduced from 10% to 5%, that made it among the lowest in the world.
 
The concept of ‘no scrutiny’ was introduced for the first time for non-business tax payers having income up to Rs. 5 lakh so that more and more people are encouraged to join the tax net, file their IT returns and pay the due amount of taxes, he said.
 
Mr. Jaitley said that, among other initiatives, corporate tax was reduced to 25% for companies with turnover up to Rs. 50 crore thereby covering almost 96% of the companies.
 
New manufacturing companies incorporated on or after March 1, 2016 were given an option to be taxed at 25% without any deduction, he said. The MAT credit was allowed to be carry forward up to 15 years instead of 10 years as part of procedural reforms, the Finance Minister added.
 
Highlighting the initiatives of the Department in the field of e-governance, Mr Jaitley said 97% of the income tax returns were filed electronically this year, out of which 92% returns were processed within 60 days and 90% refunds issued within 60 days.
 
The IT Department also introduced Grievance Redressal System ‘E-Nivaran’ which integrated all the online and paper grievances and tracks them till their resolution. Every grievance is acknowledged and resolution is intimated through email and SMS.
 
The Finance Minister said that 84% of 4.65 lakh E-Nivaran grievances have been resolved so far.
 
He said through E-Sahyog, all cases of information mismatch are handled in a non-intrusive manner to avoid full investigation. About 1.9 crore salaried taxpayers are being informed every quarter by the IT Department of the amount of TDS deposited by their employers.
 
All these E-governance initiatives have helped in having a minimum direct interface between the tax assessing authorities and the assesses which in turn helped in minimizing harassment, curbing the menace of corruption and time-saving among others, he added.
 
Mr Jaitley also highlighted the initiatives of the IT Department as far as Ease of Doing Business and promoting Financial Markets are concerned.
 
In this regard, he specifically mentioned about the introduction of Presumptive Taxation Scheme for Professionals having income up to Rs. 50 lakh.
 
Similarly, the threshold for Presumptive Taxation Scheme for business income raised from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 2 crore and companies located in International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) have been exempted from Dividend Distribution Tax and to pay MAT @ 9% only.
 
The Finance Minister informed the meeting that India has entered into a foreign collaboration with 148 countries as far as the exchange of information about tax matters is concerned and with 39 countries for criminal issues.
 
Changes in the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) with Mauritius and Singapore have been incorporated to allow for source-based taxation of capital gains on shares and interest income of banks, he added.
 
As far as the drive against black money is concerned, the  Department has taken various initiatives since the present Government came to power.
 
In this regard, the Finance Minister mentioned about the enactment of the Black Money Act, 2015, Comprehensive Amendments to the Benami Act 1988 and Operation Clean Money among others.
 
He said that after the intense follow-up of demonetization data from November 9, 2016, to January 10, 2017, about 1100 searches were made resulting in the seizure of Rs. 610 crore including cash of Rs. 513 crore.
 
Undisclosed income of Rs. 5400 crore was detected and about 400 cases have been referred to ED and CBI for appropriate action.
 
In order to promote less cash economy and digital transactions, Mr Jaitley said the IT Department took various initiatives including a penalty for cash receipt of Rs. 2 lakh or more, imposed a limit of a cash donation to charitable trusts reduced from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 2000 and no cash donations of Rs. 2000 or more to political parties.
 
Highlighting the impact of demonetization and the proactive initiatives of the Income Tax Department, the Finance Minister said the revenue collections in case of direct taxes rose to Rs. 8,49, 818 crore during the Financial Year 2016-17 at a growth rate of 14.5 percent.
 
Net collections up to 18th September 2017 in the Current Financial Year 2017-18 rose to Rs. 3.7 lakh crore with a growth of 15.7%.
 
The number of taxpayers increased significantly from Rs 4.72 crore in the financial year 2012-13 to Rs 6.26 crore during 2016-17.
 
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Earlier, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra made a presentation about the initiatives of the Income Tax Department before the Committee.
 
Participating in the discussions, members of the Consultative Committee gave various suggestions in order to improve both the revenue collections and the overall performance of the Department. 
 
The members congratulated the Finance Minister for making historical tax reforms both in case of direct and indirect taxes, an official press release said.
 
Some of the members suggested that some more incentives be given to the new tax papers so that more and more people are encouraged to file tax returns and pay due taxes which in turn would help in widening the tax base.
 
They appreciated the initiatives of the Department to reduce the tax rate from 10% to 5% in case of individual taxpayers having an income of Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh per annum.
 
Some members also suggested for reducing the tax slabs in order to give incentive to the people to pay their due taxes. They appreciated the initiatives of the Income Tax Department for issuing Appreciation Letters to the honest taxpayers.
 
Some of the members suggested reducing the banking or transaction charges in order to promote digital transactions. They said that only by reducing or waiving off these charges more and more people will be encouraged to go for digital transactions.
 
The members also suggested that more time be given to the people living in those areas where there is either frequent power failures or having no internet facilities to file their returns.
 
Some of the members also suggested that more searches may be conducted against the black money holders as still many people are transacting in black money.
 
The meeting was also attended among others by Minister of State for Finance S.P. Shukla, Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Secretary, DIPAM, Neeraj Kumar Gupta, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs(DEA), S.C. Garg, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Arvind Subramanian and other senior officers of the Ministry.
 
The Members of the Consultative Committee who participated in the meeting included Anirudhan Sampath,  Jayanta Jai Panda, J. Jayasingh Thyagraj Natterjee,  Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, Pratapsinh Chauhan, Ram Charitra Nishad, S.P.Y. Reddy, Sharad Kumar Maruti Bansode, Subhash Chandra Baheria, Dr. Udit Raj and  Yerram Venkata Subba reddy (all Members of Lok Sabha);  Anil Desai, N. Gokulakrishnan, Rajeev Chandrasekhar,  Sanjay Seth and Kumari Selja (all Members of Rajya Sabha).
 
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NITI Aayog invites Indian entrepreneurs for Global Entrepreneurship Summit, 2017

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NITI Aayog has invited Indian entrepreneurs for the 8th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, 2017 that will be held in Hyderabad from November 28-30.
  
The event, organised in partnership with the United States Government, will be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The US delegation will be led by Ms Ivanka Trump, Adviser to President Donald Trump.
 
This is the first time the Global Entrepreneurship Summit is being held in South Asia. GES 2017 in Hyderabad is expected to encourage Indian entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas, build partnerships, secure funding, and create innovative products and services.
 
It will not only bring global best practices to India but will create an irreplaceable place for India in the global entrepreneurial ecosystem, an official release said.
 
The theme for this year’s Summit - Women First, Prosperity for All - will celebrate entrepreneurship in all its strength, diversity and entirety.
 
The four primary focus areas of GES 2017 are Health Care and Life Sciences, Digital Economy and Financial Technology, Energy and Infrastructure, and Media and Entertainment.
 
Entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem supporters in these sectors will come together for two and a half days to participate in dynamic panel discussions, high-impact networking, mentoring and investment matchmaking.
 
The summit will deliberate on the four key sectors, focus on critical aspects of entrepreneurship and host interactive sessions between panellists and the audience.
 
Applications are being invited from entrepreneurs across India to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, 2017.  The applications close on October 7. Details will be available here.
 
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EESL to procure 10,000 electric vehicles from Tata Motors

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Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under the administration of Ministry of Power, Government of India (GoI), will procure 10,000 electric vehicles from Tata Motors Limited, an official press release said here today.
 
The company was selected through an international competitive bidding aimed at increased participation, it said.
 
Tata Motors won the tender and will now supply the electric vehicles (EVs) in two phases – first 500 e-cars will be supplied to EESL in November 2017 and the remaining 9,500 EVs will be delivered in the second phase. 
 
The tender floated by EESL is the world’s largest single electric vehicle procurement. Three leading manufacturers – Tata Motors Limited, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Nissan participated in the tender and the bids for Tata Motors Limited and Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) were opened. 
 
The release said EESL is driven by the objective of facilitating faster adoption of disruptive technology solutions while balancing economic development and environmental sustainability. 
 
"With this specific initiative EESL seeks to create the market for electric vehicles, a technology which is poised to boost e-mobility in the country; through its unique business model of aggregation of demand and bulk procurement. EESL is seeking to leverage the immense potential of replacement of existing vehicles in the government departments for initial demand aggregation," it said.
 
According to the release, Tata Motors quoted the lowest price of Rs. 10.16 lakh exclusive of Goods and Service Tax (GST) in the competitive bidding. The vehicle will be provided to EESL for Rs. 11.2 Lakh which will be inclusive of GST and comprehensive 5-year warranty which is 25 % below the current retail price of a similar e-car with 3-year warranty. 
 
EESL’s EV programme is a comprehensive solution to facilitate adoption of the disruptive technology in the country. Along with procurement of 10,000 EVs through international competitive bidding, EESL will also identify a service provider agency. This agency, also appointed through competitive bidding, will carry out end-to-end fleet management of the procured vehicles for the concerned government customer.
 
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Apart from continuing to aggregate demand, EESL will also be responsible for activities such as co-ordination between appointed agencies, monitoring and supervision, reporting, complaint redressal and payments. These cars will be used to replace the petrol and diesel cars used by Government and its agencies over a 3-4 year period. The total number of vehicles used by the Government and its agencies  is estimated to be 5 lakh.
 
As per a report published in May 2017 by Niti Aayog, making India’s passenger mobility shared, electric, and connected can cut its energy demand by 64% and carbon emissions by 37% in 2030. This would result in a reduction of 156 Mtoe in diesel and petrol consumption for that year and at USD 52/bbl of crude, this would imply a net savings of roughly Rs 3.9 lakh crore in 2030. 
 
"The shift to EVs through this programme will reduce dependence on oil imports and promote power capacity addition in India thereby enhancing energy security of the country and will also lead to reduction in GHG emissions from the transport sector," the release added.
 
Welcoming the initiative of EESL, Mr. Guenter Butschek, CEO & MD, Tata Motors said, “Tata Motors is extremely proud to partner with the Government of India in its journey to facilitate faster adoption of electric vehicles and to build a sustainable India. Tata Motors has been collaboratively working to develop electric powertrain technology for its selected products. EESL tender provided us the opportunity to participate in boosting e-mobility in the country, at the same time accelerate our efforts to offer full range of electric vehicles to the Indian consumers.”
 
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Shashi Shanker to take charge as ONGC CMD on October 1

Shashi Shanker, Chairman & Managing Director, ONGC
Shashi Shanker, Chairman & Managing Director, ONGC
Mr. Shashi Shanker, Director (Technology & Field Services) of the public sector Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), will take over as the Chairman and Managing Director of the company on October 1.
 
Mr. Shanker will succeed Mr. Dinesh K Sarraf, who will superannuate from service tomorrow, a press release from the company said here today.
 
Mr. Shanker is an industry veteran with over 30 years of experience in diverse exploration and production (E&P) activities. He is a Petroleum Engineer from Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad. He also holds an MBA degree with specialisation in Finance. He has also received executive education from prestigious Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow and Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad.
 
Prior to his appointment as Director (T&FS) in 2012, he progressed through senior management roles in various work-centres including Institute of Drilling Technology, Dehradun; West Bengal Project; Assam Project and Deep Water group at Mumbai. He was acclaimed for his performance in spearheading the deep/ultra-deep water campaign of ONGC which was christened ‘Sagar Samriddhhi’. 
 
Under his leadership, ONGC drilled the deepest deep-water well covering a water depth of 3174m, a world record. He also led the team to one of the finest drilling performance in FY’17 when ONGC set a new record of drilling over 500 wells in 2016-17. It was the first time in 23 years that ONGC had crossed the 500-well mark. 
 
Under his guidance, the company has led the delivery of cutting-edge IT solutions that drive growth, streamline performance and promote efficiency. He has provided much needed support for effective use of ERP and SCADA platform for real time information. During his tenure, ONGC has conceptualized an ambitious companywide project called “Disha” for creation of a paperless office platform, the implementation of which is now underway. 
 
Mr. Shanker is also the Director (In-charge) for ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) and North East Transmission Company Ltd (NETC) besides being on the Board of ONGC Videsh Limited. He is also the Director (In-charge) and Member of the High Powered Steering Committee for Government’s flagship initiative ’Make-in-India’. 
 
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SpiceJet signs order for up to 50 Bombardier Q400s

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today said it had concluded a firm purchase agreement with Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, for up to 50 Q400 turboprop airliners, making it the largest single order ever for the Q400 turboprop aircraft programme. 
 
Upon delivery, the airline will become the first in the world to operate a 90-seat turboprop, pending certification by regulatory authorities, a press release from SpiceJet said.
 
The purchase agreement includes 25 Q400 turboprops and purchase rights on an additional 25 aircraft. Based on list prices, the order is valued at up to $ 1.7 billion. This purchase agreement confirms the Paris MoU, the release said.
 
Mr. Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet said, “I am pleased to confirm SpiceJet’s latest order for up to 50 Bombardier Q400 planes that was announced in the Paris Airshow. I am sure this fresh order will further enhance connectivity to smaller towns and cities and help realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ensuring that every Indian can fly.”
 
“SpiceJet operates India’s largest regional fleet and has always been a firm believer in the growth story of India’s smaller towns and cities. We have worked hard over the years to put these smaller towns on the country’s aviation map and will strive do the same in the times to come," he said.
 
“We are very proud to firm up this agreement with SpiceJet as it is another demonstration of the Q400’s unique versatility. This repeat order will not only increase the Q400 aircraft fleet in the fast-growing regional market in India and in the Asia-Pacific region but will also launch the high-density 90-passenger model,” said Mr. Fred Cromer, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.
 
“This order confirms the airlines’ increased capacity needs on regional routes with high passenger demand and demonstrates the increased profitability potential that this unique turboprop configuration has to offer.”
 
“We have been witnessing growth in the number of passengers per departure in the turboprop market, and especially in India. Today, Bombardier offers the largest turboprop aircraft available on the market and SpiceJet will be the first airline to take advantage of the profitable and efficient operations that the 90-passenger high-density Q400 will offer them,” said Mr. François Cognard, Vice President, Sales, South-Asia and Australasia.
 
Since 2010, SpiceJet has taken delivery of 15 Q400 aircraft. The airline currently operates 20 Q400 aircraft in a 78-seat configuration to domestic and international destinations. When concluded, this fleet expansion will provide SpiceJet the ability to grow profitably and leverage the robust demand forecast in the world’s fastest growing regional aviation market.
 
The airline had earlier this year placed an order for up to 225 narrow and wide-body jets with Boeing.
 
SpiceJet, a key participant in the government’s UDAN or the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), was awarded six proposals and eleven routes under the first phase of the RCS and is the only airline which has not ought subsidy or viability gap funding under this scheme, the release added.
 
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India's forex reserves dip by $ 262.3 million to $ 402.247 billion

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India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 262.3 million to $ 402.247 billion during the week ended September 22, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had risen by $ 1.782 billion to a new high of $ 402.509 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that  foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had fallen by $ 259.3 million to $ 377,751 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  $ 20.692 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down by $ 1.2 million to $ 1.512 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 1.8 million to $ 2.2916 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 56.50/bbl

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The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, fell to $ 56.50 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 56.75 per bbl on the previous day.
 
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs. 3715.68 per bbl on 28.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3728.25 per bbl on 27.09.2017, an official press release said.
 
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 65.76 per US$ on 28.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 65.69 per US$ on 27.09.2017, the release added.
 
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Jaitley reviews capital expenditure, dividend distribution of CPSEs

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today reviewed the capital expenditure programme and status of dividend distribution of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and authorities.
 
The meeting was attended by Secretaries of concerned Ministries and Departments and Chairmen and Managing Directors of major CPSEs, including Petroleum, Defence, Power, Road Transport, Railways, Coal, Mines, Steel and Atomic Energy.
 
Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa and Secretary, Economic Affairs, Subhash Chandra Garg were present in the meeting. 
 
Mr. Jaitley told the meeting that CPSEs may not only complete their budgeted capital expenditure but should also look to aggressively push capital expenditure in the interest of boosting investment in Indian economy. 
 
Secretaries/senior officers from the 10 Ministries and the CMDs/Directors (Finance) of the CPSUs apprised the Finance Minister that their capital expenditure programme for the current year are completely on track for achieving the capital expenditure of Rs. 3.85 lakh crore budgeted in 2017-18. 
 
Some CPSEs said they were planning to increase their capital expenditure programme which, in the aggregate, might be of the order of an additional Rs. 25,000 crore. 
 
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Mr. Jaitley, while appreciating the commitments of the Ministries and CPSEs, assured them that the Government would make available adequate resources but no slackness under any circumstances would be acceptable. He indicated that the capital expenditure programme would again be reviewed at the end of November or in early December. 
 
In the discussions for raising capital investments, it also came to attention that most PSEs have very low or no debt on their balance sheet which is reflected in their low debt to equity ratios. CPSEs were, therefore, asked to raise more debt and not to rely entirely on cash and free reserves for finding new investments and capital expenditure. The CPSEs which have free reserves and surplus cash were asked to consider declaring liberal dividends so as to promote more productive use of such resources for financing much needed physical and social infrastructure.
 
The Finance Secretary advised the CPSEs to release outstanding payments expeditiously to help improve the liquidity in the market. The Secretary, Economic Affairs advised the CPSEs to consider raising more resources through innovative financing arrangements like InvITs, ToT, monetization of assets, to undertake more projects of capital nature. 
 
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Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 56.75/bbl

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The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, fell to $ 56.75 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 57.18 per bbl on the previous day.
 
An official press release said that, in rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs. 3728.25 per bbl on 27.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3735.95 per bbl on 26.09.2017.
 
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 65.69 per US$ on 27.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 65.34 per US$ on 26.09.2017, it added.
 
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