Business & Economy

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 55.51/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 $ 55.51 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 54.93 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3581.88 per bbl on 21.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3535.42 per bbl on 20.09.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 64.53 per US$ on 21.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.36 per US$ on 20.09.2017, it added.

Centre announces new PPP Policy to promote private investments in affordable housing

The Union Government yesterday announced a new Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Policy for Affordable Housing that allows extending central assistance of up to Rs. 2.50 lakh per house to be built by private builders even on private lands beside opening up the immense potential for private investments in affordable housing projects on government lands in urban areas.
Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri announced the policy that gives eight PPP (Public Private Partnership) options for the private sector to invest in affordable housing segment while addressing the Real Estate & Infrastructure Investors Summit-2017 organized by real estate body NAREDCO. 
Mr Puri explained that the policy seeks to assign risks among the government, developers and financial institutions, to those who can manage them the best besides leveraging under-utilized and unutilized private and public lands towards meeting the Housing for All target by 2022.
The two PPP models for private investments in affordable housing on private lands include extending central assistance of about Rs. 2.50 lakh per each house as interest subsidy on bank loans as upfront payment under the Credit-Linked Subsidy Component (CLSS) component of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). Under the second option, the central assistance of Rs. 1.50 lakh per each house to be built on private lands would be provided, in case the beneficiaries do not intend to take bank loans.
Mr Puri stated that eight PPP options, including six for promoting affordable housing with private investments using government lands, have been evolved after extensive consultations with States, promoter bodies, and other stakeholders.
The six models using government lands are the DBT Model under which private builders can design, build and transfer houses built on government lands to public authorities. Government land is to be allocated based on the least cost of construction. Payments to builders will be made by the public authority based on the progress of the project as per agreed upon milestones and buyers will pay to the Government.
Under the Mixed Development Cross-subsidized Housing, Government land will be allotted based on a number of affordable houses to be built on the plot offered to private builders,  cross-subsidizing this segment from revenues from high-end house building or commercial development.
Annuity Based Subsidized Housing envisages builders investing against deferred annuity payments by the Government. Land allocation to builders is based on the unit cost of construction.
Under the Annuity-cum-Capital Grant Based Affordable Housing, besides annuity payments, builders could be paid a share of the project cost as an upfront payment.
In Direct Relationship Ownership Housing, as against government mediated payments to builders and transfer of houses to beneficiaries in the other four models, promoters will directly deal with buyers and recover costs. Allocation of public land is based on the unit cost of construction.
The Direct Relationship Rental Housing will see the recovery of the costs by builders through rental income from the houses built on government lands.
Under all these six Government land-based PPP models, beneficiaries can avail of the central assistance of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2.50 lakh per house as provisioned under different components of PMAY (Urban). Beneficiaries will be identified as per PMAY (Urban) norms.
Mr Puri expressed concern over the private sector so far not entering the affordable housing segment despite huge scope for the same under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) and an enabling eco-system put in place through several concessions and incentives offered including the grant of infrastructure status for this segment.      
Referring to the ‘Way Forward’ for heralding a new era of growth in real estate sector suggested by KPMG and NAREDCO in a publication last month, Mr Puri said that the Government has already initiated action in respect of each of the suggestions made therein.
Elaborating, he said that only last week he had announced a time-bound review of FSI/FAR norms in 53 cities with a population of million and above each and State capitals to enable better utilization of scarce urban land parcels.
The Minister said that a view would soon be taken on allowing urban housing projects in peripheral villages and talks are going on this regard with the Ministry of Rural Development.
The online mechanism for time-bound approvals for building plans and construction permits has already been introduced in Mumbai and Delhi and the same would happen soon in 53 cities with a population of above one million each, he said. The Model Tenancy Act and National Rental Housing Policy would be announced soon.
Mr Puri exhorted private developers to seize the investment opportunities in affordable housing in the prevailing enabling environment saying ‘’It is time to stop debate and swing into action”.

Tata Motors launches its lifestyle SUV, Tata Nexon

Tata Nexon
Tata Nexon
Tata Motors today announced its entry into the growing Compact SUV segment with the commercial launch of its new lifestyle sports utility vehicle (SUV), the Tata Nexon.
Targeted at the personal car buyers, the Nexon is the company's fourth product  based on the ‘Impact Design’ philosophy. 
"It brings together global and contemporary design with best-in- class technology and features for the ones who would like to express themselves with a unique style of their own. Keeping customers and their aspirations at the heart of the business, the Tata Nexon will deliver an emotional elevation through more individualized experiences in the passenger vehicles market," the release said.
The car is priced at an introductory price of Rs. 5,85,000, for the petrol variant and at Rs. 6,85,000 for the diesel variant, ex-showroom Delhi.
The release said the SUV, with "class-leading features", will be on sale from today across across 650 Tata Motors authorized sales outlets in India.
Speaking at the launch, Mr. Mayank Pareek, President- Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors, said, “Our focus is to introduce products that not only enhance the brand, but simultaneously align well with the rising aspirations of customer segments. As part of the aggressive turnaround strategy, we have renewed focus on filling in product gaps and tapping the white spaces that will emerge."
"Conceptualised as a lifestyle SUV for young progressive individuals, the Nexon is the culmination of this radical shift in thinking and will further expand Tata Motors’ addressable market," he said.
Mr. Vivek Srivatsa, Head - Marketing, Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors said, “We are redefining the SUV segment in India. Nexon will fulfill both aspirational and practical requirements of our new generation customers who want to experience the 'level nex' of SUVs. With its unique styling and the most appreciated feature set, the Nexon  is a winner and a perfect car for the urban, young customers. It is a sporty SUV with extremely contemporary styling engineered to deliver excellence with dynamic handling, sporty performance, smart connectivity and comfort along with advanced safety features. 
"Reinforcing the lineage of our path breaking offerings, Nexon highlights our positive outlook in expanding our market presence by attracting a self-motivated and younger base of customers. With the new turnaround strategy in place, we are working with renewed focus and energy to improve our market share and bring products faster to market," he said.
Available in four variants – XE, XM, XT, XZ+, the Tata Nexon will come in five colour options – Vermont Red, Moroccan Blue, Seattle Silver, Glasgow Grey and Calgary White.

President Kovind to visit Nagpur in Maharashtra on Friday

President Ram Nath Kovind will visit Nagpur in Maharashtra tomorrow in what will be his first trip to the state after assuming office.
Mr. Kovind will commence his engagements in Nagpur by paying tributes to Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar at Deeksha Bhoomi. Later, he will inaugurate a Vipassana Meditation Centre at Dragon Palace, Kamptee. 
He will also inaugurate the Suresh Bhat Natya Sabhagrah at Reshimbagh, on the same day, before returning to Delhi, an official press release added.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 54.93/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 $ 54.93 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 54.76 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3535.42 per bbl on 20.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3514.18 per bbl on 19.09.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 64.36 per US$ on 20.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.18 per US$ on 19.09.2017, the release added.

Cabinet approves extension of time period of Special Industry Initiative for J&K - Udaan

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved the proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs for extension of the time period of the Scheme "Special Industry Initiative for J&K" (Sll J&K) -- Udaan -- till December 31, 2018 without any modification and cost escalation. 
Initially the time period of Udaan was up to 2016-17, an official press release said.
Udaan provides exposure to the youth of J&K to the best of corporate India and corporate India. So far, 109 corporates have partnered with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under Udaan with a commitment to train youth from the state in sectors such as Organized Retail, Banking, Financial Services, IT, ITES, Infrastructure, Hospitality, and so on.
The release said that, so far, 34,587 candidates have been selected, of whom 31,903 candidates have joined, 22,237 candidates have completed the training, 7,649 are undergoing training and 14,694 have been offered jobs.
In spite of four months of unrest, the scheme has gained a good momentum and pace of implementation has been the best during FY 2016-17 since its inception. More than 12,000 candidates had joined training and nearly 10,000 candidates were offered jobs. As many as 140 mega selection drives were held so far covering all districts of the state, it said.
"Udaan is a national integration scheme with the goal to mainstream J&K youth with rest of the country. The scheme not only provides skill enhancement and job opportunity but also connects these bright youths from the J&K with the vibrant corporate sector of India," the release added.

Collective, coordinated action needed to strengthen eco-system for SC/ST entrepreneurs: Naidu

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu today stressed the need for a collective, coordinated action to strengthen the eco-system for promoting Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) entrepreneurs in the country.
Addressing the National SC-ST Hub Confluence, Mr Naidu said the country will be developed when the downtrodden and under-privileged sections are uplifted. “We need to have an integrated, multi-dimensional developmental agenda for the development of the country,” he added.
Organized by the Union Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, the event was attended by Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram, Minister of State for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Giriraj Singh and Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla.
The Vice-President said the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector is the bulwark of the Indian economy and one of the largest employers after agriculture. It is also one of the major contributors to the country’s GDP. With Make in India envisaging to push contribution of the manufacturing sector to 25 per cent of the GDP by 2022, the MSME sector will be required to play a critical role in achieving the goal, he added.
He said skill upgradation is one area that requires top attention for the overall development of SC/ST entrepreneurs. He congratulated the National SC/ST Hub for signing MoUs with Sector Skill Councils to skill over 2,000 entrepreneurs and said that the associations and incubators have a huge role to play in supporting the objectives of National SC/ST Hub. Each association must extend support in building capacities and mentoring entrepreneurs in its respective sector, he added.
“I am happy to know that we have about 22 lakh small scale industries in our country and the number is increasing every year. In 2007 about 2 lakh small scale industries were set up in the country. This number went on increasing year after year and at present about 4 lakh small and medium industries are coming up in our country. Mainly small, micro industries are coming up. If we look at number of SC and STs in this, there is only about 4 lakh. This number has to be increased. It is important to encourage them and provide technical knowledge and market to sell the finished products. With this aim, the government has come up with SC/ST Hub,” he noted.
‘The government has made a policy that whatever the items they purchase, they should be at least 4 per cent should be from SC/ST units. But today, we have less than half per cent being procured from SC/ST units,” Mr Naidu said.
"The national discourse today has changed. We talk of Stand-up, Start-up, Incubation and Innovation. This focus on skills, entrepreneurial development should get further momentum. Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, Clean India – all these programmes should reach every section of our society and everybody must get their due. Only then will the development have meaning. If you do not reach certain sections of the people, then the development is incomplete. Capacity building is important; credit availability is important, technology up-gradation is also important.
"Empowering women is empowering entire humanity, because women constitute 50 per cent of the population. We cannot claim to be a developed country unless women are given equal opportunities. In the same way, we cannot claim our country is developed when there are sections which are deprived, and have been denied the opportunity to join the developmental stream. So this is the duty of any government to uplift those sections.
"This effort is for the overall development of India. All have to take part in this. This should be taken as a sacred responsibility. Only then will the development of SC/ST will take place.  The Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Sector (MSME) is the bulwark of the Indian economy and one of the largest employers after agriculture. It is also one of the major contributors to the country’s GDP.
"In spite of ups and downs, MSME sector showed resilience and maintained a good growth rate ranging from11.77 per cent in 2007-08 to 17 per cent in 2015. It showed an impressive growth of 18.74 per cent from April-September 2015," Mr Naidu said.
With Make in India envisaging to push contribution of the manufacturing sector to 25 per cent of the GDP by 2022, the MSME sector will be required to play a critical role in achieving the goal, he said.
This sector not only contributes to industrialization of backward and rural areas, but also helps in reducing regional imbalances. By its very nature, this sector acts as an equalizer and offers vast opportunities to people from all walks of life to become successful entrepreneurs and achieve their dreams, he said.
"As a result, there have been many entrepreneurs from the marginalized communities. But lack of proper guidance and resources is hampering their economic success and this led to policy intervention from the Government.
"As you are all aware, the Public Procurement Policy was introduced with a stipulation that 20 per cent of total procurement of goods and services by Central Ministries, Departments and Central Public Sector Enterprises must be made from MSEs and 20 per cent (four per cent of total) of such procurement from SC/ST owned MSEs," he added.

Cabinet nod for transfer of Hotel Jaipur Ashok, Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel to State Governments

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today gave its approval for the transfer of Hotel Jaipur Ashok, Jaipur and Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, Mysore, units of India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (ITDC), to the Government of Rajasthan and the Government of Karnataka, respectively, and disinvestment of ITDC's shares in Donyi Polo Ashok Hotel Corporation, Itanagar.
An official press release said that, as per the disinvestment policy of the Government of India, it had been decided to lease/sub-lease the ITDC hotels/ properties jointly with the States and where States have not agreed to the proposal of leasing/sub-leasing, the properties may be returned back to the States at their officially valued price. 
The policy has been formulated keeping in view that running and managing hotels on professional lines is not the job of Government or its entities, it said.
In pursuance of this policy, the Ministry of Tourism has to date transferred the properties/units of Hotel Lake View Ashok, Bhopal, Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok, Guwahati and Hotel Bharatpur Ashok, Bharatpur to the concerned State Governments. In addition, ‘in principle’ approval for transfer of Hotel Janpath, New Delhi to the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India has also been accorded by the CCEA.
The release said the transfer of the properties of Hotel Jaipur Ashok and Hotel Lalitha Mahal Palace was in continuation of the policy.
As far as Donyi Polo Ashok Hotel Corporation, the joint venture company running Hotel Donyi Polo Ashok, Itanagar, is concerned, the Cabinet decided that ITDC would disinvest its 51% equity in favour of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh, the release added.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 54.76/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 $ 54.76 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 54.69 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3514.18 per bbl on 19.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3502.08 per bbl on 18.09.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 64.18 per US$ on 19.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.04 per US$ on 18.09.2017, it added.

thyssenkrupp, Tata Steel sign MoU to combine European steel activities in 50:50 JV

German multi-national conglomerate thyssenkrupp today said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India's Tata Steel to combine their European steel activities in a 50:50 joint venture. 
"Their aim is to create a leading European flat steel player to be positioned as quality and technology leader," a press release from thyssenkrupp said.
The new entity is set to have pro-forma sales of about €15 billion and a workforce of about 48,000, currently at 34 locations. Shipments are envisioned to be about 21 million tons a year, it said.
Dr. Heinrich Hiesinger, CEO of thyssenkrupp AG, said: “Under the planned joint venture, we are giving the European steel activities of thyssenkrupp and Tata a lasting future. We are tackling the structural challenges of the European steel industry and creating a strong No. 2. In Tata, we have found a partner with a very good strategic and cultural fit. Not only do we share a clear performance orientation, but also the same understanding of entrepreneurial responsibility toward workforce and society.”
Mr. Natarajan Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Steel, said, “The Tata Group and thyssenkrupp have a strong heritage in the global steel industry and share similar culture and values. This partnership is a momentous occasion for both partners, who will focus on building a strong European steel enterprise. The strategic logic of the proposed joint venture in Europe is based on very strong fundamentals and I am confident that thyssenkrupp Tata Steel will have a great future.”
The release said that the planned joint venture (JV), to be named thyssenkrupp Tata Steel, would be managed through a lean holding company based in the Netherlands. It is to have a two-tier management structure comprising a management board and a supervisory board. Both boards are to have equal representation from thyssenkrupp and Tata. The codetermination structures in Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain will be retained, it said.
"thyssenkrupp intends to contribute its Steel Europe business to the planned joint venture. There are also plans for the joint venture to include thyssenkrupp MillServices & Systems GmbH, a steel mill services provider that is part of the Materials Services business. Tata would add all of their flat steel activities in Europe," it said.
According to the release, the MoU signed today paves the way for thyssenkrupp to involve employee representatives at thyssenkrupp AG and in the Steel business in the process ahead on an ongoing basis. All employee participation rights will continue to be respected as before, it said.
"In the months ahead, due diligence will be conducted. In the process, the negotiating parties will give each other access to confidential business documents to the extent permissible between competitors. Based on this as well as on discussions with the entire Supervisory Board, it is envisaged to sign a contract in early 2018. Closing – the effective start of the joint venture – could take place in late 2018 following antitrust approval by the relevant authorities," it said.
The release said that, in the initial years – from closing onward – the joint venture partners plan to focus on establishing the joint venture and leveraging synergies. These are anticipated among other things from integrating sales, administration, research and development, joint optimization of procurement, logistics and service centers as well as improved capacity utilization in downstream processing. After the ramp-up phase, the joint venture partners expect annual synergies of €400 million to €600 million.
Additionally, the production network is to be reviewed starting in 2020 with the aim of integrating and optimizing the production strategy for the entire joint venture. 
"It is not yet possible to quantify the additional synergies from this integration in detail. The scope for optimization also depends on numerous external factors such as the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and the implications that follow. Other external parameters include the development of the regulatory environment in areas such as emission trading and nternational trade policy," it said.
The two joint venture partners expect that leveraging the cost synergies across the entire entity will require a reduction in workforce over the years ahead by up to 2,000 jobs in administration and potentially up to 2,000 jobs in production. This burden is expected to be shared roughly evenly between the two parties, which means a total of about 2,000 jobs at thyssenkrupp.
“We will not be putting any measures into effect in the joint venture that we would not have had to adopt on our own. On the contrary: By combining our steel activities, the burdens for each partner are lower than they would have been on a stand-alone basis,” said Dr. Hiesinger.
The release noted that the steel industry has faced massive challenges in Europe for many years.
"Steel demand is characterized by a lack of dynamic. There is structural overcapacity in supply and constantly high import pressure. This leads to the fact that various stages in the value chain are operating well below capacity. Consequently, all producers are under pressure to fill capacity and forced to pass on restructuring gains to the market time and again. The result is a downward spiral and a need for restructuring about every three to four years, with major steel assets coming under threat of closure in the medium term," the release said.
"There are five reasons why combining the European steel activities of thyssenkrupp and Tata is the best possible next consolidation move:
"Economies of scale: Economies of scale are a key success factor in a market caught up in ongoing consolidation. Combining the No. 2 and No. 3 in Europe results in a powerful new No. 2 for quality flat steel with a very competitive market position and promising growth prospects.
"Complementarity: The businesses of thyssenkrupp and Tata are a good complementary fit. thyssenkrupp is stronger in the OEM sector while Tata’s strength lies with industrial customers. The main operating locations in Duisburg, IJmuiden and Port Talbot have good logistics links and serve customers in different, economically powerful regions. That makes for significantly broader overall coverage of customer sectors throughout Europe.
"Performance orientation: The steelworks of thyssenkrupp and Tata rank among the most efficient facilities in Europe. Thanks to effective cost management, both producers operate at a profit. The two companies have paved the way for this over recent years, piece by piece and independently of each other: Tata, for instance, with the restructuring of Port Talbot and by selling long steel activities, and thyssenkrupp with the sale of CSA and capacity adjustment at HKM.
"Innovative strength: Both partners aspire to quality and technology leadership in the European steel industry and continually develop innovative products and solutions for customers. High-tech steels are frequently the basis of industrial value chains in Europe and a key competitive differentiator.
"Culture and capabilities: The two partners each have a highly capable and dedicated workforce who strongly identify with their company. thyssenkrupp and Tata have a cultural DNA equally characterized by the will to embrace change in order to secure their future. And both companies have the backing of strong shareholders through a trust structure that perpetuate the ideas and values of the original owners," the release added.

L&T wins Rs. 1700 crore contract to build crude oil pipeline in Kuwait

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its Hydrocarbon Division had bagged a major contract, valued at close to Rs. 1700 crore, to build a crude oil pipeline in Kuwait.
The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract has been won from the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) for a new 48" Crude Transit Line (TL-5) from North Kuwait to Ahmadi, a press release from the company said.
The project is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2020, the release said.
"The order was won against stiff international competitive bidding which reinforces L&T’s unique capability to deliver 'design to build' engineering and construction solutions across the hydrocarbon spectrum," it said.
L&T is currently executing Gathering Centre-30 (GC-30) project for KOC, the release added.

TRAI reduces mobile to mobile termination charges to 6 paise per minute from Oct 1

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today reduced the domestic termination charges for mobile to mobile from 14 paise per minute to 6 paise per minute with effect from October 1, 2017.
For other types of calls, such as wireline to mobile and wireline to wireline and mobile to wireline, the termination charge would continue to remain zero, a press release from TRAI said.
From January 1, 2020 onwards, the termination charges for all types of domestic calls shall be zero, it said.
Domestic termination charges are the charges payable by a telecom service provider (TSP) whose subscriber originates the call, to the TSP in whose network the call terminates.
The prevailing IUC Regulation was notified on 23rd February, 2015 and came into effect from 1st March, 2015. TRAI issued a Consultation Paper (CP) for Review of Interconnection Usage charges on 05.08.2016 to seek the views of stakeholders on various aspects of IUC. Stakeholders were asked to submit written comments by 05.09.2016 and counter-comments by 19.09.2016. On the request of some stakeholders, the dates for submission of comments and counter-comments were extended upto 17.10.2016 and 31.10.2016, respectively. The comments and the counter-comments received from the stakeholders were placed on TRAI's website.
The release said the Authority wanted to listen to the viewpoints of all the TSPs prior to the discussion in an open house. Therefore, a one-day workshop was also held on 18.07.2017 at Delhi to discuss the issues threadbare with the TSPs. Subsequently, an Open House Discussion was held on 20.07.2017 at Delhi to discuss the issues with other stakeholders. During the workshop, TSPs presented their preferred cost methodology before the Authority. TSPs were allowed to comment/ question on the method/ cost data presented by each other.
"On the basis of comments received from stakeholders, in writing or during the open house discussion or during the workshop, the Authority has prescribed revised domestic mobile termination charges through these Regulations," the release added.

Income Tax Department to create mechanism for self-reporting of income, advance tax liability

The Income Tax Department has proposed to create a mechanism for self-reporting of estimates of current income, tax payments and advance tax liability by certain taxpayers (companies and tax audit cases) on voluntary compliance basis.
An official press release said the proposed reporting mechanism is sought to be created by way of inserting a new Rule 39A and Form No. 28AA in the Income Tax Rules, 1962. 
The proposed draft notification has been placed in public domain on the website of Income Tax Department for inviting comments from stakeholders and general public.The comments and suggestions on the draft rule and form may be sent electronically at the email address by September 29, it said.
A taxpayer who is liable to discharge part of its tax liability by way of advance tax has to bear additional burden of interest for default of advance tax, in case total advance tax paid for the year falls short of the assessed tax by ten percent or more. This interest is levied as per the provisions of section 234B of the Income-tax Act, 1961. Such taxpayers are further liable to pay interest for deferment of advance tax, in case any quarterly instalment of advance tax paid falls short of the prescribed percentage of total advance tax paid. This interest is levied in accordance with the provisions of section 234C of the Act.
"It is of utmost importance for such taxpayers to arrive at a reasonably accurate estimate of their current income and advance tax liability, so that the additional burden on account of interest for default/deferment of advance tax can be avoided," the release said.
"Needless to say, a continuous flow of tax revenues throughout the year is critical for the Government so as to meet various budgetary allocations such as welfare schemes, infrastructure development, defence expenditure etc. A reliable and advance estimate of tax revenues for the year would also provide much needed perspective for planning and prioritizing the Government expenditure," it added.

Passengers carried by domestic airlines grow by 16.97% during January-August 2017

Passengers carried by India's domestic airlines during January-August, 2017 grew by 16.97% to 754.11 lakh as against 644.68 lakh during the corresponding period of the previous year.
During August 2017, the number of passengers carried increased by 15.63% to 96.90 lakh from 83.81 lakh in the same month of the previous year.
Low-cost carrier SpiceJet registered the highest passenger load factor at 94.5 in August, followed by Air Asia at 85.8, Go Air 85.4, IndiGo 83.6 Vistara 83.4, Truejet 83.2, JetLite 82.8, Jet Airways 80.7 and Air India 76.1.
An official press release said the passenger load factor in August 2017 had shown an increasing trend as compared to the previous month due to the beginning of the festive season.
The overall cancellation rate of scheduled domestic airlines for the month of August 2017 was 0.83%. Air Asia had 0.00% cancellation rate, followed by Vistara 0.11%, Go Air 0.31%, IndiGo 0.34%, Jet Airways 0.41%, SpiceJet 0.53%, JetLite 0.66%, Air India 1.74% and Truejet 2.48%.
According to the release, during August 2017, a total of 599 passenger related complaints had been received by the scheduled domestic airlines. The number of complaints per 10,000 passengers carried for the month was around 0.62.
The on-time performance (OTP) of scheduled domestic airlines, computed for the four metro airports of Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai was 86.6 for IndiGo, followed by SpiceJJet 78.7, Vistara 74.5, Go Air 74.2, Air India (domestic) 69.4 and Jet Airways and JetLite 65.8.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 54.69/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 $ 54.69 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 54.58 per bbl on the previous publishing day of September 15.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3502.08 per bbl on 18.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3497.29 per bbl on 15.09.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed stronger at Rs. 64.04 per US$ on 18.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.08 per US$ on 15.09.2017, it added.

SBI ties up with Google on UPI-based payments app, Tez

State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest commercial bank, has tied up with Google for its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) based payment app Tez that was launched today. 
SBI  is now gearing up to enable UPI across various services including  e-commerce and m-commerce merchants, toll payment, fuel stations, petrol pumps, malls, metro stations, railways and so on, a press release from the bank said.
The release said the app would provide all functionalities available in UPI as a bundled option for customers and merchants on Android and iOS platform for doing commercial (P2M) as well as personal (P2P) transactions through mobile authenticated with a secured UPI PIN. Customer has to onboard through a Google login and mobile number linked to any bank account.
Tez UPI platform will be guided by guidelines of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and will incorporate all new version updates like scheduled payments, and so on, it said.
Mr. Rajnish Kumar, MD (NBG), SBI said, "While we are already enabling UPI across a multitude of services including e-commerce and m-commerce, collaboration with Google will help us in giving a further push to our digital initiatives. By working with Tez, we will help drive adoption of UPI and bring simple and secure digital payments to more Indians."
Ms. Diana Layfield, Vice President, Head of Finance & Commerce Products, Next Billion Users said, “We look forward to have India’s largest bank, the State Bank of India, as a launch partner with us to integrate UPI into Tez. This will help offer simple and secure payment options for online and offline payments to even more Indian users and merchants. This is only the start of our partnership as we strive to digitize payments."

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 54.58/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 $ 54.58 per barrel (bbl) on September 15 from $ 54.56 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3497.29 per bbl on 15.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3495.38 per bbl on 14.09.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 64.08 per US$ on 15.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.07 per US$ on 14.09.2017, it added.

India signs $ 76 million loan deal with JICA to upgrade Alang-Sosiya ship recycling yards

The Government signed a loan deal with $ 76 million with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) yesterday for a project to upgrade the environment management plan at Alang-Sosiya ship recycling yards. 
The total cost of the project will be $ 111 million, out of which $ 76 million will be provided as soft loan from JICA. 
Out of the remaining amount, $25 million as taxes and fees will be borne by Government of Gujarat and the balance $ 10 million will be shared by Ministry of Shipping and the Government of Gujarat, an official press release said. 
The project will be executed by Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and is likely to be completed by 2022, it said.
The release said the project would help Alang-Sosia ship-recycling yards to comply with international safety and environmental regulations. This will attract more business at the recycling facilities at Alang, thereby further consolidating India’s share in the global ship-recycling industry, it said.
"This project will also help in safeguarding the marine and coastal environment. The use of advanced decontamination technology will rule out the possibility of fire accidents in oil and chemical tankers, thereby ensuring workers safety. 
"The project is expected to result in increase in direct employment from 50,000 to 92,000 people and indirect employment from 1.5 lakhs to 3 lakh people," the release added.

India's external debt stock decreases by 2.7% to $ 471.9 billion at end-March 2017

India's external debt stock stood at $ 471.9 billion at end-March 2017, decreasing by $ 13.1 billion or 2.7% from the level at end-March 2016, official data released here yesterday said.
The 23rd issue of the Annual Publication ‘India’s External Debt: A Status Report 2016-17’, prepared by the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, said the decline in external debt was due to the decrease in long-term debt particularly non-resident Indian (NRI) deposits and commercial borrowings.
The report said that, at end-March 2017, long-term external debt was $ 383.9 billion, showing a decrease of 4.4% from the level at end-March 2016. Long-term external debt accounted for 81.4% of total external debt at end-March 2017 as compared to 82.8% at end-March 2016.
Short-term external debt increased by 5.5% to $ 88.0 billion at end-March 2017. This is mainly due to the increase in trade related credits, a major component of short-term debt with a share of 98.3%, it said.
Government (sovereign) external debt increased from $ 93.4 billion at end-March 2016 to $ 95.8 billion at end-March 2017, and constituted 20.3% of the total external debt, as compared to 19.3% in the previous year.
The report said India’s external debt had remained within manageable limits and the external debt situation had improved in 2016-17 over 2015-16 as indicated by the increase in foreign exchange reserves cover to debt to 78.4% from 74.3%, and fall in the external debt-GDP ratio to20.2% from 23.5%.
The external debt of the country continues to be dominated by the long-term borrowings, it said.
A cross country comparison based on “International Debt Statistics 2017” of the World Bank which presents the debt data for 2015, shows thatIndia continues to be among the less vulnerable countries with its external debt indicators comparing well with other indebted developing countries. 
The ratio of India’s external debt stock to gross national income (GNI) at 23.4% was the fifth lowest and in terms of the cover provided by foreign exchange reserves to external debt, India’s position was sixth highest at 69.7% in 2015, the  release added.

India's CAD widens to $ 14.3 billion or 2.4% of GDP in Q1 on higher trade deficit

India's current account deficit (CAD) widened sharply to $ 14.3 billion or 2.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter (Q1) of 2017-18 from $ 0.4 billion (0.1% of GDP) in Q1 of 2016 -17 and $ 3.4 billion (0.6% of GDP) in Q4 of 2016-17.
The widening of the CAD on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis was primarily on account of a higher trade deficit (US$ 41.2 billion) brought about by a larger increase in merchandise imports relative to exports, a press release from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here yesterday.
Net services receipts increased by 15.7 per cent on a y-o-y basis mainly on the back of a rise in net earnings from travel, construction and other business services, it said.
Private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, at $ 16.1 billion increased by 5.3% over the corresponding quarter of the previous year.
In the financial account, net foreign direct investment at $ 7.2 billion in Q1 of 2017-18 almost doubled from its level in Q1 of 2016-17.
Net portfolio investment recorded substantial inflow of $ 12.5 billion in Q1 of 2017-18, primarily in the debt segment, as compared with $ 2.1 billion in Q1 of last year.
Net receipts on account of non-resident deposits amounted to $ 1.2 billion in Q1 of 2017-18; this was lower than $ 1.4 billion a year ago.
In Q1 of 2017-18, there was an accretion of $ 11.4 billion to the foreign exchange reserves (on BoP basis) as compared with $ 7.0 billion in Q1 of 2016-17 and $ 7.3 billion in the preceding quarter, the release added.

Govt. for market borrowing to incentivize speedy execution of new urban missions

The Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs is considering market borrowings to incentivize speedy execution of urban infrastructure projects under various new urban missions launched over the past two years.
This was stated by Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri while addressing the Public Affairs Forum of India on challenges and opportunities of rapid urbanization here today.
“To overcome the severe infrastructure deficit accumulated over long years, huge order of investments is required. To meet various contingencies and to ensure fund availability to meet the targets under new urban missions, we are thinking of mobilizing resources from the market,” he said.
“We have undertaken an assessment of requirement of funds till 2022 and likely flow of funds. To ensure assured fund flow, setting up of a Special Purpose Vehicle to tap the market is under examination. Once this idea is firmed up, we will take it forward in an appropriate manner,” he said.
The Minister said the Government would spare no efforts to realize a new Urban India and will work shoulder to shoulder with the State and city governments in the true spirit of Team India.
“These are happening times in India and Urban India is an integral part of this exciting and challenging journey. I am confident that success will be with the people of India,” he added.
Elaborating on the ongoing efforts to further improve urban governance, planning and execution, Mr Puri announced that a comprehensive evaluation of implementation and outcomes of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) will be undertaken which will serve several purposes, it being the first concerted effort to make a difference in the urban sector.
“The terms of evaluation will cover the extent of realization of stated goals of JNNURM, an assessment of improvement in urban governance further to implementation of reforms, identification of lacunae and reasons for shortfall in physical and financial progress.
“This evaluation will provide useful guidance to city and State Governments in the context of current thrust on urban rejuvenation,” he added.
JNNURM was implemented during the period 2005-14, before it was wound up by the previous government. This government, however, continued to finance some of the incomplete projects based on certain criteria, to enable their completion.
Referring to the impact on the ground of new urban missions, Mr Puri said though the new Missions like Smart City Mission, AMRUT and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) were launched only a little over two years ago, substantial work is being executed on the ground with hundreds of projects under implementation.
He asserted that visible impact will be visible in the next few months and expressed confidence that targeted outcomes will be achieved within given time frames.
To prove his point, the Minister gave an account of performance during 2014-17 and the earlier ten years.
Elaborating on the paradigm shift in urban development approach of this Government, the Minister said, “The city level action plans for improving urban infrastructure under different new missions have not been drafted in Delhi.
“They all emanated from the ground level and are collective expression of the aspirations of the citizens and city governments. Ownership of these plans is with them and not with Delhi. So, they have the obligation of ensuring their timely implementation,” he added.
Mr Puri announced that a National Conclave of States and Union Territories will be organized for a high level mid-tem review with Ministers of the progress of various urban missions, for sharing of experiences for mutual benefit and a structured discussion on speeding up of implementation to meet time bound targets.

India's forex reserves soar by $ 2.604 billion to record $ 400.726 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 2.604 billion to a new high of $ 400.726 billion during the week ended September 8,  the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had gone up by $ 3.572 billion to $ 398.122 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 increased by $ 2.568 billion to $ 376.210 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 up by $ 14.2 million to $ 1.520 billion.
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 21.4 million to $ 2.304 billion during the week, the bulletin added.

India's exports grow by 10.29% to $ 23.819 billion in August 2017

Continuing an uptrend for the 12th consecutive month, India's merchandise exports grew by 10.29 per cent to $ 23.819 billion in August 2017 from $ 21.597 billion during the same month of the previous year, an official statement said here today.
In rupee terms, the exports went up by 5.39% to Rs. 152365.23 crore in August 2017 from Rs. 144570.03 crore during the corresponding month of 2016, it said.
The statement said that, major commodity groups of export which showed positive growth in August 2017 over the corresponding month of last year were Engineering Goods (19.53%), Petroleum Products (36.56%), Organic & Inorganic Chemicals (32.41%), Drugs & Pharmaceuticals (4.21%), and RMG of all Textiles (0.56%).
The cumulative value of exports for the period April-August 2017-18 was $ 118.575 billion (Rs 763145.37 crore) as against $ 109.215 billion (Rs 731420.12crore), registering a growth of 8.57% in dollar terms and 4.34% in rupee terms over the same period last year.
The statement said non-petroleum and non-gems & jewellery exports in August 2017 were valued at $ 17.743 billion against $ 15.501 billion in August 2016, an increase of 14.47%. Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports during April -August 2017-18 were valued at $ 87.438 billion as compared to US $ 79.623 billion for the corresponding period in 2016-17, an increase of 9.82%.
Imports during August 2017 were valued at $ 35.463 billion (Rs 226849.74 crore) which was 21.02% higher in dollar terms and 15.65% higher in rupee terms over the level of imports valued at $ 29.303 billion (Rs. 196154.44 crore) in August, 2016. The cumulative value of imports for the period April-August 2017-18 was $ 181.719 billion (Rs. 1169589.74 crore) as against $ 143.501 billion (Rs. 961178.43 crore), registering a growth of 26.63% in dollar terms and 21.68% in rupee terms over the same period last year.
Major commodity group of imports which showed high growth in August 2017 over the corresponding month of last year were Petroleum, Crude & products (14.22%), Electronic goods (27.44%), Machinery, electrical & non-electrical (18.35%), Gold (68.90%) and Pearls, precious & semi-precious stones (30.88%).
Oil imports during August, 2017 were valued at $ 7.755 billion which was 14.22% higher than oil imports valued at $ 6.789 billion in August 2016. Oil imports during April-August, 2017-18 were valued at $ 38.777 billion which was 18.89% higher than the oil imports of $ 32.616 billion in the corresponding period last year.
The  statement  noted that global Brent prices ($/bbl) had increased by 11.34 % in August 2017 vis-à-vis August 2016 as per World Bank commodity price data.
Non-oil imports during August, 2017 were estimated at $ 27.708.04 million which was 23.07% higher than non-oil imports of $ 22.514 billion in August, 2016. Non-oil imports during April-August 2017-18 were valued at $ 142.942 billion which was 28.91% higher than the level of such imports valued at $ 110.885 billion in April-August, 2016-17.
As far as trade in services was concerned, exports during July 2017, the latest month for which data is available, were valued at $ 13.178 billion (Rs. 84939.99 crore), registering a decline 1.57% in dollar terms as compared to negative growth of 0.31% during June 2017.
Imports of services during July 2017 were valued at$ 7.334 billion (Rs. 47271.96 crore) registering a decline of 1.65% in dollar terms as compared to decline of 2.07% during June 2017.
As regards merchandise, the trade deficit for August 2017 was estimated at $ 11.644 billion as against the deficit of $ 7.706 billion during August 2016. The trade balance in services for July 2017 was estimated at $ 5.844 billion.
Taking merchandise and services together, overall trade deficit for April-August 2017-18 is estimated at $ 39.872 billion as compared to $ 12.723 billion during April-August 2016-17, the statement added.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 54.56/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 $ 54.56 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 53.83 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3495.38 per bbl on 14.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3443.89 per bbl on 13.09.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 64.07 per US$ on 14.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 63.98 per US$ on 13.09.2017, it added.

MOU between MCA, CBDT for Automatic Exchange of Information

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) have concluded a formal memorandum of understanding (MoU) for data exchange.
The MoU, signed on September 6, was in continuation of the initiative launched by the Government to curb the menace of shell companies, money laundering and black money in the country, an official press release said.
It would also prevent misuse of corporate structure by shell companies for various illegal purposes, the release said.
According to it, the MoU will facilitate the sharing of data and information between CBDT and MCA on an automatic and regular basis. It will enable sharing of specific information such as Permanent Account Number (PAN) data in respect of corporates, Income Tax returns (ITRs), financial statements filed with the Registrar, returns of allotment of shares, audit reports and statements of financial transactions (SFT) received from banks relating to corporates.
The MoU will ensure that both MCA and CBDT have seamless PAN-CIN (Corporate Identity Number) and PAN-DIN (Director Identity Number) linkage for regulatory purposes.
The information shared will pertain to both Indian corporates as well as foreign entities operating in India. In addition to a regular exchange of data, CBDT and MCA will also exchange with each other, on request, any information available in their respective databases, for the purpose of carrying out scrutiny, inspection, investigation and prosecution.
The MoU comes into force from the date it was signed and is an ongoing initiative of MCA and CBDT, which are already collaborating for near real time allotment of PAN and TAN also at the time of incorporation of companies itself.
A Data Exchange Steering Group also has been constituted for the initiative, which will meet periodically to review the data exchange status and take steps to further improve the effectiveness of the two agencies.
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