Business & Economy

NITI Aayog invites Indian entrepreneurs for Global Entrepreneurship Summit, 2017

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.

EESL to procure 10,000 electric vehicles from Tata Motors

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.
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.”

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’. 

SpiceJet signs order for up to 50 Bombardier Q400s

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.

India's forex reserves dip by $ 262.3 million to $ 402.247 billion

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.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 56.50/bbl

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.

Jaitley reviews capital expenditure, dividend distribution of CPSEs

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. 
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. 

Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 56.75/bbl

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.

Cabinet nod for Inter-bank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement by Exim Bank under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the signing of the Interbank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement and the Cooperation Memorandum Relating to Credit Ratings by Exim Bank with participating member banks under the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism. 
As both the agreement and the MoU are umbrella pacts, and are non-binding in nature, the Board of Directors of Exim Bank has been authorized to negotiate and conclude any individual contracts and commitments within their framework.
An official press release said the agreements would promote multilateral interaction within the area of mutual interest which will deepen political and economic relations with BRICS nations.
The release said signing of the agreement would position Exim Bank in the international platform along with large development finance institutions, like CDS, VEB and BNDES. 
"At an appropriate time, Exim Bank, leveraging this umbrella agreement, could enter into bilateral agreement with any of these member institutions to raise resources for its business. As and when an opportunity arises for co-financing in commercial terms, by any two member institutions (say India and South Africa), lending in single currency by both the institutions would also be possible," it said.
Exim Bank finances, facilitates and promotes India's international trade. It provides competitive finance at various stages of the business cycle covering import of technology, export product development, export production and export credit at pre-shipment and post-shipment stages and investments overseas.
The initial Master Agreement on Extending Credit Facility in Local Currency under the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism had a validity of five years, which has expired in March 2017. It is understood that some of the member banks (like CDB and VEB; CDB and BNDES) have entered into bilateral agreements for local currency financing under the Master Agreement signed in 2012. 
Although the current conditions are not conducive to usage, it was useful to keep the same alive as an enabling feature in case a suitable opportunity materializes in future. Exim Bank raises resources in the off-shore market in diverse currencies and swaps to mitigate the risk. The umbrella agreement will serve as an enabler to enter into bilateral agreements with member banks subject to national laws, regulations and internal policies of the signatories.
"It would enable sharing of credit ratings amongst the BRICS member banks, based on the request received from another bank. This would be an ideal mechanism to mitigate the credit risks associated with cross-border financing. In future, such a mechanism could also serve as pre-cursor to the proposal of having an alternate rating agency by BRICS nations.
"The agreement and the MoU have also been highlighted in the BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration made in Xiamen, China on 4th September 2017," the release added.

Cabinet approves revision of policy for providing Defence land to communication operators

The Union Cabinet today approved a proposal for revision of the policy of the Ministry of Defence for providing Defence land to communication operators for construction of shared communication towers and allied infrastructure, based on experience in implementing the policy and guidelines issued by Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for issue of clearance for installation of mobile towers. 
An official press release said the revised policy would cover allotment of Defence land on lease and grant of permission in Defence areas and Cantonments to Access Service Licensees and companies registered with DoT as IP-I for setting up shared communication towers and allied infrastructure. 
This will improve the quality of communication services in the Cantonments and Military Stations, it added.

ADB earmarks up to $ 4 billion a year for new partnership with India in 2018-2022

ADB logo
The Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) plans to raise its annual lending to India to a maximum of $ 4 billion to support the country to accelerate inclusive economic transformation toward upper middle-income status, as laid out in a new ADB Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2018-2022 endorsed today.
A press release from ADB said the programme in India would focus on three main pillars of activity during the five-year period—boosting economic competitiveness to create more and well-paid jobs, improved access to infrastructure and services, and addressing climate change and improving climate resilience. 
About 85% of lending will be focused on transport, energy, and urban infrastructure and services. Other finance will be aimed at public sector management, agriculture, natural resources and rural development, as well as skills development and urban health, it said.
The release said the planned lending level, which includes private sector operations, compared with an average of $2.65 billion a year in loans extended in the period 2012-2016.
It will be complemented by technical assistance to help undertake strategic studies, build capacities, and prepare projects, increasing from the current average of $6.6 million in 2013-2016. ADB will also explore cofinancing opportunities, including climate funds for relevant projects.
“ADB’s new 5-year partnership with India supports the government’s goal of inclusive and sustainable growth grounded by economic structural transformation and job creation, with an increased focus on low-income states,” said Kenichi Yokoyama, ADB Country Director in India. “We aim to assist transformative investments, deliver holistic solutions removing sectoral boundaries, and demonstrate high value addition of our assistance in terms of innovation, timeliness, efficiency, and quality.”
The release noted that India had growing at an average rate of more than 7% since FY2012, putting it among the world’s fastest growing large economies. The country has also more than halved its poverty rate since FY2004 to 21.9% and has achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals.
"To accelerate such positive trends requires that the country create more high quality jobs, since half of India’s workforce is based around agriculture, which is still marked by low productivity and incomes. Infrastructure continues to be a major bottleneck, in which ADB has identified an investment shortfall of $230 billion a year. Other critical challenges include how to close the persistent gap between advanced and lagging regions where most of the poor are concentrated, environmental degradation exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, and building capacity within the country’s institutions.
"For its first pillar, ADB will help expand infrastructure networks for transport, energy, and urban centers along economic corridors, enhance corridor business environment, and address skills shortages to support industrialization. The second pillar will tackle infrastructure bottlenecks in lagging regions, improving municipal services for the urban poor, and supporting rural investments to close the income gap with cities. This will be supported by more efficient public sector management. The third pillar of operation will promote sustainable natural resource use, higher renewable energy consumption, green corridors on high-voltage transmission lines, and ensure climate proofing in infrastructure projects.
"Under the CPS, ADB will continue to prioritize private sector development and support the government in reviving private financing of infrastructure projects, including through public-private partnerships. ADB’s private sector operations will consider support for transport, power, urban infrastructure (including sewerage and solid waste management), affordable housing, manufacturing, health, and education, among other sectors.
"ADB’s regional cooperation and integration operations will be substantially enhanced, building on the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Vision launched by its Finance Ministers in New Delhi in April 2017. Assistance will focus on transport connectivity, energy trade, trade and investment facilitation for intra-SASEC and global value chain integration, and building synergies between economic corridors," the release added.

India server market revenue up 60% to $ 304.6 million in Q2: IDC report

The overall server market in India witnessed a year-over-year (Yo) increase of 60 percent in terms of revenue to reach $304.6 million in the second quarter (Q2) of 2017 versus $190.4 million in Q2 2016, according to the latest IDC Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) Quarterly Server Tracker, Q2 2017. 
The x86 server market accounted for 91.1 percent of the overall server revenue during Q2 2017, with growth being majorly driven by spending from captive and outsourced data centres and public cloud service providers, a press release from IDC said.
During Q2 2017, the market witnessed a growth in non-x86 market, after continuous revenue decline for two quarters, it said.
"However, it's interesting to see the reciprocation from the non-x86 platform providers towards increasing x86 market, which is gaining traction from end-users for deploying applications and workloads on x86 platforms. The x86 server market in terms of revenue witnessed a YoY growth of 67.6 percent to reach $277.5 million in Q2 2017 up from $165.6 million during Q2 2016," the release said.
The release said that the major demand of third party data centres came from the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sector. Apart from these traditional sectors, third party data centers are also witnessing demands from Government projects and their digitalization efforts. 
Rack and density optimized servers that are mostly preferred for running IT and digital transformation workloads, gained traction, accounting together for YoY growth of 70.1 percent, in terms of revenue for Q2 2017 compared to Q2 2016.
The non x86 server market grew by 9.3 percent YoY in terms of revenue to reach $27.1 million in Q2 2017. 
In terms of revenue, HPE leads the market, accounting for 38.9 percent of market share, followed closely by IBM with its share of 36.7 percent during Q2 2017. In non x86 server market, banking industry continues to dominate and contributes for 65.1 percent of the revenue, followed by utility, manufacturing, telecommunication and professional services verticals.
"Professional services, telecommunication and manufacturing contributed for more than 75 percent of the overall server shipped during Q2 2017. Digital initiatives, datacenter expansion and ODMs penetration, continue to impact the server market in India," Rishu Sharma , Associate Manager, Enterprise Infrastructure, IDC India, said.
In India x86 market, HPE leads the India server market with 30.8 percent in Q2 2017, as revenue increased by 48.9 percent YOY to $85.5 million. The major deals for HPE came from telecommunications and professional services verticals. Dell successfully increased its market share to 21.4 percent during Q2 2017, while Cisco accounted for 8.0 percent of market share winning deals across various verticals. ODMs direct continue their accelerated growth, addressing the demand of underserved Indian data centre market.
"ODMs growth continues for the second consecutive quarter of the year, owing to the fact supporting the expansion of outsourced DC service providers. Many captive data centres are already planned up for the coming year and we expect to see strong competition between ODMs, supporting the public cloud growth of Indian market," Harshal Udatewar, Server Market Analyst, IDC India, said.
In its forecast, IDC India said third platform technologies have made many end-users rethink their data centre strategies and is the major driver behind the infrastructure demand in India. Digitalization is reaching the mainstream in banking, professional services and Government verticals whereas telcos' spending is focussed towards improving customer experience management and the launch of VoLTE across India.
"The India server market looks favourable from compute point of view as we see major users of data centres such as BFSI, telecom, IT and ITeS, and Government showing remarkable growth opportunities in India," the release added.

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 2170 crore across various segments

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders valued at Rs. 2170 crore across various business segments.
These include an order worth Rs. 1547 crore bagged by its Water & Effluent Treatment Business for a major reservoir which involves formation of an earth bund of length 4.3 km with a height of 55 m at its maximum with all associated works, a press release from the company said.
According to the release, the company's Power Transmission & Distribution Business bagged orders worth Rs. 623 crore, including one from Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. for the supply and execution of +320kV Pugalur – Trichur HVDC line. This transmission line is a crucial element of the Pugalur Trichur 2 x 1000MW VSC based HVDC system forming a part of the HVDC link between western and southern regions of India.
A turnkey order has been bagged from Eastern Power Distribution Company of A.P. Limited (APEPDCL) for providing underground cable works in Visakhapatnam city in Andhra Pradesh. This package is meant for modernizing the power system network connecting seven 33/11kV substations in the zone – 1 division of Visakhapatnam by replacing the HT and LT overhead lines with underground power cables, it said.
Overseas, an order has been secured by the business, together with its consortium partners, from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) for the supply and construction of a 500kV transmission line from Bang Saphan 2 to Surat Thani 2 substations, the release added.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 57.18/bbl

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, rose to $ 57.18 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 56.42 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3735.95 per bbl on 26.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3657.92 per bbl on 25.09.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 65.34 per US$ on 26.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.84 per US$ on 25.09.2017, it added.

Fiji, Niger, Tuvalu deposit instruments of ratification of Framework Agreement of ISA

Fiji, Niger and Tuvalu deposited the instrument of ratification of the Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in the 5th meeting of the International Steering Committee (ISC) of the ISA that was held here on Monday.
Representatives of 121 prospective member countries, who either completely or partially lie between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, participated in the meeting.
The meeting was chaired by Mr. Anand Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and co-chaired by Ms Ségoléné  Royale, Ambassador for Arctic and Antarctic Poles and Special Envoy for the Implementation  of the  International Solar Alliance, Government of France.
Till date, 40 countries have signed and 11 countries have ratified the Framework Agreement of the ISA. With ratifications by 15 countries, the ISA will become a treaty based inter-governmental international organization.
Mr. Kumar thanked the prospective ISA member countries for their continued support. He stated that the ISA is a reflection of their common desire to significantly augment solar power generation in their countries, and make joint efforts towards technology development and mobilization of the required investment to promote energy security and universal energy access. 
He   urged the prospective member countries of the ISA to expedite the ratification process.   
Mr. Kumar said the second edition of the Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet & Expo, Re-Invest 2017, will be held from December 7-9 at the India Expo Centre, Greater Noida, near here.
He said the aim of the event is to develop partnerships with  relevant stakeholders including international bilateral and multilateral financing institutions, equipment manufacturers, technology providers, developers, public sector enterprises, Central and State governments, research institutions and academia.  
Re-Invest 2017 will deliberate upon and evolve strategies for financing renewable energy and also showcase the Government of India's commitment to the development and scaling up of renewable energy to meet the national energy requirement in a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable manner, he said.
Mr. Kumar also said that the Founding Conference of ISA and Solar Summit will  be held on the margins of Re-Invest 2017 on December 8-9. The Prime Minister of India, the President of France and the Secretary-General of the United Nations are likely to attend the event, he said.
Ms. Royale detailed the actions taken by her government for supporting solar energy projects in ISA countries. She stated that concerted actions undertaken in the context of the Alliance should focus on realizing the objectives enshrined in the Paris Declaration, which included: bringing their efforts together to reduce the cost of finance for solar energy and mobilize up to $ 1000 billion investments by 2030, and: developing new, cost efficient and reliable solar technologies and applications. 
On her suggestion, the committee agreed to include a programme on solar supported e-mobility.
Mr. Upendra Tripathy, interim Director General of the ISA, briefed the meeting about the progress in implementation of various activities under ISA. 
The International Steering Committee was establishment under the mandate of the Paris Declaration of ISA to provide the guidance and direction to establish the ISA.  India has offered a contribution of Rs 175 crore for creating ISA corpus fund and for meeting the cost of ISA secretariat for the initial five years.
The ISA is an Indian initiative jointly launched by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France on November 30, 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21. It aims at addressing obstacles to deployment at scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

Kandla Port in Gujarat renamed as Deendayal Port

The Ministry of Shipping has issued a notification renaming Kandla Port Trust as Deendayal Port Trust with effect from September 25, 2017.
Located on the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, Kandla is one of the twelve major ports in the country. 
As per the Ministry’s notification, the Central Government, in exercise of powers conferred on it under Indian Ports Act, 1908, made the amendment to replace “Kandla” with “Deendayal”.
While inaugurating various projects at Kandla Port in May this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given the suggestion for renaming of Kandla Port after Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, one of the prominent leaders of teh Jana Sangh, the precursor to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who stood for the uplift of the poor and weaker sections of society. 
The Ministry of Shipping issued the required notification on the occasion of the closing of the year long centenary celebrations of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, an official press release added.

HUA Minister Hardeep Singh Puri assures J&K of support in urban sector

Union Housing & Urban Affairs (HUA) Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has assured the Government and the people of Jammu and Kashmir of priority consideration and all possible assistance in all matters of urban development. 
This assurance was given when Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh met him here yesterday and discussed various projects relating to the state. 
They discussed progress and implementation of urban sector projects in the state, an official press release said.
Dr. Nirmal Singh sought help in River Front Development along a 4.50 km stretch of Tawi River along the lines of Sabarmati River Front Development, completion of Sewerage Project of Greater Jammu sanctioned under JNNURM earlier, inclusion of Katra and  Udhamput under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for basic infrastructure development, and other such projects.
 The Deputy Chief Minister informed Mr Puri that the Sewerage Project of Srinagar, sanctioned under JNNURM, is progressing with additional central assistance released by this Government.
Mr Puri directed the concerned officials in the Ministry to have the River Front Development proposal under the Smart City Plan of Jammu. After further consultations with the State Government on the mobilization of resources for the sewerage project in Jammu including its financing under the ongoing urban missions, NBCC will be directed to resume the project works, he added.
On the inclusion of two more cities under AMRUT, he said 500 cities have been included in this mission based on certain criteria and he will have the possibility in this regard considered, he informed Dr. Singh.
Referring to details of various projects sanctioned and investments approved for J & K under various new urban missions, Mr Puri urged the Deputy Chief Minister to speed up their implementation so that the intended outcomes were realized within the specified timeframes. He referred to providing new water supply connections to 1.08 lakh households in the State under Atal Mission.

Total revenue under GST is Rs. 90,669 crore for August 2017

The total revenue of Goods and Service Tax (GST) paid under different heads for August 2017 (upto September 25) was Rs. 90,669 crore as compared to Rs. 92.283 crore paid in July, an official press release said here today.
Of this, the total Central GST (CGST) revenue is Rs. 14,402 crore, State GST (SGST) revenue is Rs. 21,067 crore, Integrated GST (IGST) revenue is Rs. 47,377 crore (of which IGST from imports in August 2017 is Rs. 23,180 crore) and Compensation Cess is Rs.7,823 crore (of which Rs. 547 crore is Compensation Cess from imports in August 2017), it said.
"The above figures obviously do not include the GST to be paid by 10.24 lakh assessees who have opted for the composition scheme. Additionally, there are still a number of assessees who have not filed their return either for July or August, 2017. The increase in the above stated figures will be informed in due course," the release said.
The Goods and Services Tax was introduced on July 1, 2017. Of the Rs. 92,283 crore paid under different heads for July (upto August 29), total CGST revenue was Rs. 14,894 crore, SGST revenue was Rs. 22,722 crore, IGST revenue was Rs. 47,469 crore (of which IGST from imports was Rs. 20,964 crore) and Compensation Cess was Rs. 7,198 crore (of which Rs. 599 crore is Compensation Cess from imports).
"Many assessees have been filing the returns for July 2017 belatedly and till 31st August, 2017 and the total GST paid for July is Rs. 94,063 crore," the release added.
The last date for payment of GST as well as filing of GSTR 3B return for the month of August 2017 was 20th September, 2017. The total number of tax payers who were required to file monthly returns for August 2017 is 68.20 lakhs, of which, as on 25th September, 2017, 37.63 lakh GSTR 3B returns have been filed.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 56.42/bbl

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, rose to $ 56.42 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 55.77 per bbl on the previous publishing day of September 22.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3657.92 per bbl on 25.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3622.85 per bbl on 22.09.2017. 
The rupee closed stronger at Rs. 64.84 per US$ on 25.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.96 per US$ on 22.09.2017, the release added.

Thomson Reuters and MCX launch India Commodity Indices

News and information provider Thomson Reuters and the Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) today announced the launch of their co-branded commodity index series, Thomson Reuters-MCX India Commodity Indices (iCOMDEX), that will track the performance of commodities listed on MCX. 
With the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) beginning to open up commodities derivatives to institutional investors, relevant investors will be able to leverage these indices not only to benchmark performance but to also build products, a press release from the two companies said.
Commodity index-based products would allow market participants to trade and invest in commodities on a short and long term basis, it said.
The Thomson Reuters-MCX iCOMDEX series utilize a similar methodology to other established commodity indices used by international investors, such as the popular Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB index, the release said.
MCX has worked with the Indian investors to ensure the new indices correctly represent Indian commodity markets, with Thomson Reuters validating this approach and ensuring the indices meet international standards such as the IOSCO principles for financial benchmarks, it said.
The release said the series includes a composite index consisting of 11 commodities; sector indices for bullion and base metals, and individual commodity indices for gold, copper and crude oil. 
These indices have been designed to be tracked by derivatives and exchange traded funds, to allow investors to monetize views and manage investment risk. As a part of the arrangement, Thomson Reuters will calculate and administer the indices, which would track the commodity futures prices traded on MCX, with MCX advising Thomson Reuters on index methodology and ensuring that it best meets the needs of Indian investors looking to increase their exposure to this asset class.
Mr. Pradeep Menon, Managing Director, Global Head of Investing and Advisory, Thomson Reuters said, “Thomson Reuters is delighted to further strengthen its commitment to the region with the launch of this co-branded commodity index series with MCX. These indices will help investors effectively benchmark commodities across categories in real-time to make efficient investment decisions when index-based products are available in Indian commodity markets.”
Mr. Mrugank Paranjape, Managing Director and CEO, MCX, said “The co-branded indices are an important addition to MCX’s portfolio and we are delighted to join hands with Thomson Reuters in developing and publishing them. The index series combines MCX price data and the exchange’s expertise of Indian Commodity markets with TR’s global benchmarking practices, distribution and compliant governance structures. Subject to regulatory approval, we would want to offer derivative products based on these indices, at an opportune time.”
Mr. Stephan Flagel, Global head of Benchmarks and Indices, Thomson Reuters said, “With our unparalleled expertise and decades of experience in providing benchmarks and indices for listed and OTC markets, we are excited about the many opportunities that this change in regulation has opened up for the Indian investor community.”
Dr. V. Shunmugam, Head, Research, MCX said, “We are happy to launch the Thomson Reuters–MCX iCOMDEX series, which would be the first co-branded indices for the exchange. The index methodology, choice of underlying, their relative weightage and history of price movements have been kept as the cornerstones in developing these indices, so as to make them the benchmarks in their respective index classes."
Thomson Reuters is a global provider of indices and index services, calculating over 10,000 different equity, fixed income, and commodity indices.
Having commenced operations on November 10, 2003, Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX) is India’s first listed, national-level, electronic, commodity futures exchange with permanent recognition from the Government of India. In the financial year 2016–17, the market share of MCX was 90.37%. 

Modi constitutes Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has constituted a five-member Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) consisting of reputed economists.
NITI Aayog Member Bibek Debroy will be the Chairman of the EAC-PM while NITI Aayog Principal Adviser Ratan Watal will be its Member-Secretary.
Economists Surjit Bhalla, Rathin Roy and Ashima Goyal will be part-time Members of the council, an official press release said.
According to the release, the terms of reference of the EAC-PM are:
(i) To analyze any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by the Prime Minister and advising him thereon; 
(ii) To address issues of macroeconomic importance and presenting views thereon to the Prime Minister. This could be either suo-motu or on reference from the Prime Minister or anyone else; 
(iii) To attend to any other task as maybe desired by the Prime Minister from time to time. 
"The EAC-PM is an independent body to give advice on economic and related issues to the Government of India, specifically to the Prime Minister," the release added.

India's Kharif foodgrains production estimated at 134.67 MT during 2017-18

A rice field in Kerala. NetIndian Photo/Vinita Abraham
A rice field in Kerala. NetIndian Photo/Vinita Abraham
India's production of Kharif foodgrains during 2017-18 is estimated at 134.67 million tonnes (MT), which is 3.86 MT lower than last year's record production of 138.52 million tonnes, official data released here yesterday said.
However, Kharif foodgrain production is 6.43 MT more than the average production of five years (2011-12 to 2015-16) of 128.24 million tonnes, an official press release, quoting the data said.
The First Advance Estimates of production of major Kharif crops for 2017-18, released by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, said total production of Kharif rice is estimated at 94.48 MT. This is lower by 1.91 MT than last year’s record production of 96.39 million tonnes. 
However, it is higher by 2.59 MT  over the average production of Kharif rice during the last five years, the release said.
The total production of coarse cereals in the country has decreased to 31.49 MT as compared to 32.71 MT during 2016-17 (4th Advance Estimates). Production of maize is expected to be 18.73 MT, which is marginally lower by 0.52 MT than last year’s record production. But it is higher by 2.15 MT tonnes than the average production of maize during the last five years.
The total production of Kharif pulses is estimated at 8.71 MT, which is lower by 0.72 MT than last year’s record production of 9.42 MT. However, kharif pulses estimated production is 2.86 MT more than the last five years average production.
The total production of Kharif oilseeds in the country is estimated at 20.68 MT as compared to 22.40 MT during 2016-17, a decrease of 1.72 MT. However, it is higher by 0.69 MT than the average production of last five years.
Production of sugarcane is estimated at 337.69 MT, which is higher by 30.97 MT than last year’s production of 306.72 MT. Despite higher area coverage, lower productivity of cotton has resulted in reduced estimated production of 32.27 million bales (of 170 kg each) as compared to 33.09 million bales during 2016-17. Production of jute & mesta, estimated at 10.33 million bales (of 180 kg each), is marginally lower than its production of 10.60 million bales during the previous year.
The release said the assessment of production of different crops is based on the feedback received from States and validated with information available from other sources. 
The release pointed out that the cumulative rainfall in the country during the monsoon season, 1st June to 6th September, 2017, had been 5% lower than the Long Period Average (LPA). 
"Thus, monsoon rainfall conditions have been normal in the country. The estimated production of most of the crops during current Kharif season is estimated to be higher as compared to their normal production of last five years. However, these are preliminary estimates and would undergo revision based on further feedback from the States," the release added.

Rapid growth in India to continue despite transitory challenges: ADB

ADB logo
The Asian Development  Bank (ADB) has said  that rapid growth in India will continue despite the transitory challenges and forecast that growth  will reach 7% for fiscal year (FY) 2017, a 0.4 percentage point decline from the April estimates.
In an update to its flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2017, the bank said that the outlook for FY 2018 is now at 7.4% from the previous 7.6% projection. India's fiscal year ends in March.
The update noted that Indian growth moderated in the first quarter of FY 2017 due to lingering effects from demonetization and transitory challenges related to the new goods and services tax (GST) regime. 
"Weakness in private consumption, manufacturing output, and business investment has resulted in lowering the short-term growth outlook for the country for FY2017 and FY2018,", the report said.
“India’s ambitious reform agenda will lead to higher long-run growth for its economy,” said Yasuyuki Sawada, ADB Chief Economist. “Despite the short-term hiccups as firms adapt to the national GST, we believe that continued reform progress will help India remain one of the world’s most dynamic emerging economies.”
The report noted that growth in the first quarter of FY2017 slowed down to 5.7%, as growth in private consumption and industry declined compared to previous quarters. Fixed capital formation grew by a sluggish 1.6%, indicating a sharp slowdown in private investment. Government consumption and services, however, continued to buoy economic activity.
Moving forward, the update said that forecasts for the rest of FY2017 will be more bullish as private consumption is expected to pick up on the back of low inflation and anticipated wage hikes. Manufacturing is also likely to bounce back as the sector adjusts to the new tax regime, while services will remain robust as trade and transport services revive with the easing of cash constraints. 
"Investment growth, however, is likely to remain muted in FY2017 as budgetary constraints limit government expenditure. Growth will further pickup in FY2018 as the new tax regime improves domestic competitiveness and government efforts to improve the health of the banking sector aid private investment yield results.
"Inflation, on the other hand, is expected to average 4% in FY2017 and 4.6% in FY2018, significantly lower than the previous estimates of 5.2% and 5.4%, respectively," the report said.
The report underlines the commitment by Indian policymakers to meet the fiscal deficit target in FY2017, despite the presence of some risks in the form of lower nontax revenue and a slow start to the disinvestment of public sector enterprises. Tax collections are likely to pick up as firms adjust to the new tax regime.
"Strong global growth and an improved business climate will help India’s exports grow at a faster pace in FY2017 and FY2018. Efforts to improve domestic demand will also spur import growth as private investment picks up, thereby widening the current account deficit compared to the past couple of years. Government efforts to liberalize foreign ownership caps across sectors and to foster a friendly investment climate will help attract stable foreign direct investment flows and comfortably finance the current account deficit," the report added.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

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Gadkari to launch National Highway projects worth Rs 4468 crore in Andhra Pradesh

Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari will inaugurate National Highway (NH) projects worth Rs 1928.46 crore and lay the foundation stone for projects worth Rs 2539.08 crore in Andhra Pradesh on October 3.
In addition to this, Mr Gadkari will also lay the foundation stone for the development of the Muktyala-Vijayawada stretch of Krishna River (National Waterway – 4).
An official press release said approximately 415 km of national highways would be inaugurated by the Minister and he would lay the foundation stone for another 250 km.
The projects include rehabilitation and upgradation of existing national highways, besides construction of a four-lane bypass to Vijayanagaram Town on NH 43 (new NH 26).
The release said that, as per a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Andhra Pradesh on April 14, 2016, NW-4 is proposed to be developed in three phases. In the first phase, it will be from Muktyala to Vijayawada (Krishna River), a distance of 82 Km, Vijayawada to Kakinada (Eluru canal & Kakinada canal) and Rajahmundry to Polavaram stretch of Godavari (233 Km) in the second phase and Commamur Canal, Buckingham canal and balance stretches of Krishna & Godavari Rivers (573km) in the third phase.
Mr Gadkari will lay the foundation stone for Phase- I on October 3. Work on this phase, development of the 82 km from Muktiyala to Vijayawada stretch has already commenced. Dredging began in the shallow areas in May this year, and the work is expected to be complete by June 2019. 
Permission for work on Temporary Terminal Facilities was awarded in August this year and is expected to be completed by June 2018. For the Permanent Terminal Facilities, the work is expected to be awarded by March 2018 and completed by June 2019. Night Navigational aids will be taken up in 2018.
The project will provide an efficient logistics solution to boost the economic growth of the region and facilitate the development of the capital city Amravati during its early development stage as substantial construction material is expected to be transported on this stretch of NW-4.
A proposal for Phase-II has been recommended by IWAI board for PIB/Cabinet. Also, a proposal for the formation of Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for implementation of the project is under consideration for the approval of Cabinet. The SPV is expected to be formed by November 2017.
National Waterway 4 was declared in November 2008 for a total length of 1078 km. This length was extended to 2890 km by NW Act-2016.

L&T Technology Services sets up development centre to support wind energy leader Vestas

L&T Technology Services Limited, a pure-play engineering R&D services company, today said it had set up an engineering solutions delivery centre here focused on supporting a key customer, Danish wind energy leader Vestas.
The centre will strengthen the company's collaboration with Vestas, the world leader in the development, manufacturing, sale and maintenance of wind power plants, a press release from L&T Technology said.
The dedicated development centre will facilitate cost-effective engineering solutions and focus on solutions in areas like Energy Storage, Hybrid Energy and Smart products, it said.
“Vestas works with long-term partners like L&T Technology to help develop solutions that lower the cost of energy, ensure flexibility in product development and shorten the amount of time needed to bring new products and solutions to market,” said Mr Andreas Bürger, Senior Vice President, Power Solutions, Industrialization at Vestas.
Mr Bhupendra Bhate, Chief Digital Officer, L&T Technology Services Limited said, “We have helped to create global success stories in energy management and storage solutions as well as services for the solar and wind power segments. We are excited to strengthen our partnership with Vestas by leveraging our expertise in automation, engineering analytics and the IoT for the wind energy industry.”
L&T Technology Services has been associated with Vestas for over a decade as a strategic engineering partner, the release added.
L&T Technology Services Limited is a publicly listed subsidiary of infrastructure giant Larsen & Toubro Limited focused on engineering and R&D services, addressing global customers. 
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