Business & Economy

India’s forex reserves fall by $ 22.2 million to $ 398.739 billion

Maintaining a downtrend for the third consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 22.2 million to $ 398.739 billion during the week ended November 3, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country’s forex reserves had fallen by $.1.159 billion to $ 398.761 billion during the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had risen by $ 547.8 million to $ 374.320 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 had fallen by $ 573.6 million to $ 20.667 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRS) increased by $ 1.4 million to $ 1.491 billion.
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 2.2 million to $ 2.261 billion during the week, the bulletin added.

GST Council recommends facilitative measures for taxpayers

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, at its 23rd meeting held here today, has recommended several facilitative measures for taxpayers.
An official press release said that the return filing process would be simplified further. 
All taxpayers would file return in Form GSTR-3B along with payment of tax by 20th of the succeeding month till March, 2018.
For filing of details in Form GSTR-1 till March 2018, taxpayers would be divided into two categories: 
(a) Taxpayers with annual aggregate turnover uptoRs. 1.5 crore need to file GSTR-1 on quarterly basis as per following frequency:
July-Sep -- 31st Dec 2017
Oct- Dec -- 15th Feb 2018
Jan- Mar -- 30th April 2018
(b)      Taxpayers with annual aggregate turnover more than Rs. 1.5 crore need to file GSTR-1 on monthly basis as per following frequency:
Jul- Oct -- 31st Dec 2017
Nov -- 10th Jan 2018
Dec -- 10th Feb 2018
Jan -- 10th Mar 2018
Feb -- 10th Apr 2018
Mar -- 10th May 2018
iii.            The time period for filing GSTR-2 and GSTR-3 for the months of July, 2017 to March 2018 would be worked out by a Committee of Officers. However, filing of GSTR-1 will continue for the entireperiod without requiring filing of GSTR-2 & GSTR-3 for the previous month / period.
A large number of taxpayers were unable to file their return in Form  GSTR-3B within due date for the months of July, August and September, 2017. Late fee was waived in all such cases. It has been decided that where such late fee was paid, it will be re-credited to their Electronic Cash Ledger under “Tax” head instead of “Fee” head so as to enable them to use that amount for discharge of their future tax liabilities. The software changes for this would be made and thereafter this decision will be implemented.
For subsequent months, i.e. October 2017 onwards, the amount of late fee payable by a taxpayer whose tax liability for that month was ‘NIL’ will be Rs. 20 per day (Rs. 10 per day each under CGST & SGST Acts) instead of Rs. 200 per day (Rs. 100 per day each under CGST & SGST Acts).
Manual Filing
A facility for manual filing of application for advance ruling is being introduced for the time being.
Further benefits for service providers
Exports of services to Nepal and Bhutan have already been exempted from GST. It has now been decided that such exporters will also be eligible for claiming Input Tax Credit in respect of goods or servicesused for effecting such exempt supply of services to Nepal and Bhutan.
In an earlier meeting of the GST Council, it was decided to exempt those service providers whose annual aggregate turnover is less than Rs. 20 lakhs (Rs. 10 lakhs in special category states except J & K) from obtaining registration even if they are making inter-State taxable supplies of services. As a further measure towards taxpayer facilitation, it has been decided to exempt such suppliers providing services through an e-commerce platform from obtaining compulsory registration provided their aggregate turnover does not exceed twenty lakh rupees. As a result, all service providers, whether supplying intra-State, inter-State or through e-commerce operator, will be exempt from obtaining GST registration, provided their aggregate turnover does not exceed Rs. 20 lakhs (Rs. 10 lakhs in special category States except J & K).
Extension of dates
Taking cognizance of the late availability or unavailability of some forms on the common portal, it has been decided that the due dates for furnishing the following forms shall be extended as under:
1  GST ITC-04 for the quarter July-September, 2017 from 25.10.2017 to 31.12.2017
2  GSTR-4 for the quarter July-September, 2017 from 18.10.2017 to 24.12.2017
3  GSTR-5 for July, 2017 from 20.08.2017 or 7 days from the last date of registration whichever is earlier, to 11.12.2017
4 GSTR-5A for July, 2017 from 20.08.2017 to 15.12.2017
5 GSTR-6 for July, 2017 from 13.08.2017 to 31.12.2017
6 TRAN-1 from 30.09.2017 to 31.12.2017 (One-time option of revision also to be given till this date)
Revised due dates for subsequent tax periods will be announced in due course.
Benefits for Diplomatic Missions/UN organizations
In order to lessen the compliance burden on Foreign Diplomatic Missions / UN Organizations, a centralized UIN will be issued to every Foreign Diplomatic Mission / UN Organization by the Central Government and all compliance for such agencies will be done by the Central Government in coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs.
Relevant notifications for all of the above decisions will be issued shorty, so as to be effective from 15.11.2017, the release added.

GST Council prunes headings in 28% bracket to 50, cuts tax for restaurants to 5%

In the biggest rejig of the GST regime since it was launched on July 1 this year, the GST Council on Friday decided to prune the 224 tariff headings in the 28% tax bracket to only 50 tariff headings and reduced the tax for restaurants to 5 percent without input tax credit.

Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley addressing a press conference after the 23rd GST Council meeting, at Guwahati on November 10, 2017.
Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley addressing a press conference after the 23rd GST Council meeting, at Guwahati on November 10, 2017.
In the biggest rejig of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime since it was launched on July 1 this year, the GST Council today decided to prune the 224 tariff headings in the 28% tax bracket to only  50 tariff headings, including four headings which have been partially reduced to 18%.
At its meeting held here today, the Council also decided that all stand-alone restaurants irrespective of air conditioned or otherwise, will attract 5% GST without input tax credit (ITC). Food parcels (or takeaways) will also attract 5% GST without ITC.
Restaurants in hotel premises having room tariff of less than Rs 7500 per unit per day will attract GST of 5% without ITC. 
Restaurants in hotel premises having room tariff of Rs 7500 and above per unit per day (even for a single room) will attract GST of 18% with full ITC. Outdoor catering will continue to be at 18% with full ITC.
The decisions were announced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who chaired the meeting, and Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia at a press conference here this evening.
Mr. Jaitley said the Council had recommended changes in GST rates on a number of goods, so as to rationalise the rate structure with a view to minimise classification disputes. It has also recommended issuance of certain clarifications to address the grievance of trade on issues relating to GST rates and taxability of certain goods and services.
On the services side also, the Council recommended changes in GST rates to provide relief to aviation & handicraft sectors, apart from restaurants.  
The changes, which will become effective on November 15, have come at a time when, on the one  hand, the opposition Congress has made demonetisation and the allegedly ill-planned implementation of GST as one of its major elections plans in the crucial Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and, on the other, there have been widespread demand for changes in the GST structure from the trade and industry.
According to an official press release, the following are the major recommendations of the Council:
(I)      Pruning of list of 28% rated goods: 
The Council has recommended reduction in GST rate from 28% to 18% on goods falling in 178 headings at 4-digit level (including 4 tariff heading that are partially pruned). After these changes, only 50 items will attract GST rate of 28%.
 a)        Goods on which the Council has recommended reduction in GST rate from 28% to 18% include:
-- Wire, cables, insulated conductors, electrical insulators, electrical plugs, switches, sockets, fuses, relays, electrical connectors
-- Electrical boards, panels, consoles, cabinets etc for electric control or distribution
-- Particle/fibre boards and ply wood. Article of wood, wooden frame, paving block
-- Furniture, mattress, bedding and similar furnishing
-- Trunk, suitcase, vanity cases, brief cases, travelling bags and other hand bags, cases
-- Detergents, washing and cleaning preparations
-- Liquid or cream for washing the skin
-- Shampoos; Hair cream, Hair dyes (natural, herbal or synthetic) and similar other goods; henna powder or paste, not mixed with any other ingredient;
-- Pre-shave, shaving or after-shave preparations, personal deodorants, bath preparations, perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations, room deodorisers
-- Perfumes and toilet waters
-- Beauty or make-up preparations
-- Fans, pumps, compressors
-- Lamp and light fitting
-- Primary cell and primary batteries
-- Sanitary ware and parts thereof of all kind
-- Articles of plastic, floor covering, baths, shower, sinks, washbasins, seats, sanitary ware of plastic
-- Slabs of marbles and granite
-- Goods of marble and granite such as tiles
-- Ceramic tiles of all kinds
-- Miscellaneous articles such as vacuum flasks, lighters,
-- Wrist watches, clocks, watch movement, watch cases, straps, parts
-- Article of apparel & clothing accessories of leather, guts, furskin, artificial fur and other articles such as saddlery and harness for any animal
-- Articles of cutlery, stoves, cookers and similar non electric domestic appliances
-- Razor and razor blades
-- Multi-functional printers, cartridges
-- Office or desk equipment
-- Door, windows and frames of aluminium.
-- Articles of plaster such as board, sheet,
-- Articles of cement or concrete or stone and artificial stone,
-- Articles of asphalt or slate,
-- Articles of mica
-- Ceramic flooring blocks, pipes, conduit, pipe fitting
-- Wall paper and wall covering
-- Glass of all kinds and articles thereof such as mirror, safety glass, sheets, glassware
-- Electrical, electronic weighing machinery
-- Fire extinguishers and fire extinguishing charge
-- Fork lifts, lifting and handling equipment,
-- Bull dozers, excavators, loaders, road rollers, 
-- Earth moving and levelling machinery,
-- Escalators,
-- Cooling towers, pressure vessels, reactors
-- Crankshaft for sewing machine, tailor’s dummies, bearing housings, gears and gearing; ball or roller screws; gaskets
-- Electrical apparatus for radio and television broadcasting
-- Sound recording or reproducing apparatus
-- Signalling, safety or traffic control equipment for transports
-- Physical exercise equipment, festival and carnival equipment, swings, shooting galleries, roundabouts, gymnastic and athletic equipment
-- All musical instruments and their parts
-- Artificial flowers, foliage and artificial fruits
-- Explosive, anti-knocking preparation, fireworks
-- Cocoa butter, fat, oil powder,
-- Extract, essence ad concentrates of coffee, miscellaneous food preparations
-- Chocolates, Chewing gum / bubble gum
-- Malt extract and food preparations of flour, groats, meal, starch or malt extract
-- Waffles and wafers coated with chocolate or containing chocolate
-- Rubber tubes and miscellaneous articles of rubber
-- Goggles, binoculars, telescope,
-- Cinematographic cameras and projectors, image projector,
--  Microscope, specified laboratory equipment, specified scientific equipment such as for meteorology, hydrology, oceanography, geology
-- Solvent, thinners, hydraulic fluids, anti-freezing preparation
b)       Goods on which the Council has recommended reduction in GST rate from 28% to 12% are:
-- Wet grinders consisting of stone as grinder
-- Tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles
(II)        Other changes/rationalisation of GST rates on goods:
a)        18% to 12%
i.         Condensed milk
ii.         Refined sugar and sugar cubes
iii.         Pasta
iv.         Curry paste, mayonnaise and salad dressings, mixed condiments and mixed seasoning
v.         Diabetic food
vi.         Medicinal grade oxygen
vii.         Printing ink
viii.         Hand bags and shopping bags of jute and cotton
ix.         Hats (knitted or crocheted)
x.         Parts of specified agricultural, horticultural, forestry, harvesting or threshing machinery
xi.         Specified parts of sewing machine
xii.         Spectacles frames
xiii.         Furniture wholly made of bamboo or cane
b)     18% to 5%
i.            Puffed rice chikki, peanut chikki, sesame chikki, revdi, tilrevdi, khaza, kazuali, groundnut sweets gatta, kuliya
ii.            Flour of potatoes put up in unit container bearing a brand name
iii.            Chutney powder
iv.            Fly ash
v.            Sulphur recovered in refining of crude
vi.            Fly ash aggregate with 90% or more fly ash content
c)     12% to 5%
i.            Desiccated coconut
ii.            Narrow woven fabric including cotton newar [with no refund of unutilised input tax credit]
iii.            Idli, dosa batter
iv.            Finished leather, chamois and composition leather
v.            Coir cordage and ropes, jute twine, coir products
vi.            Fishing net and fishing hooks
vii.            Worn clothing
viii.            Fly ash brick
d)      5% to nil
i.            Guar meal
ii.            Hop cone (other than grounded, powdered or in pellet form)
iii.            Certain dried vegetables such as sweet potatoes, maniac
iv.            Unworked coconut shell
v.            Fish frozen or dried (not put up in unit container bearing a brand name)
vi.            Khandsari sugar
e)                Miscellaneous
i.            GST rates on aircraft engines from 28%/18% to 5%, aircraft tyres from 28% to 5% and aircraft seats from 28% to 5%.
ii.            GST rate on bangles of lac/shellac from 3% GST rate to Nil.
III)Exemption from IGST/GST in certain specified cases:
i.            Exemption from IGST on imports of lifesaving medicine supplied free of cost by overseas supplier for patients, subject to certification by DGHS of Centre or State and certain other conditions
ii.            Exemption from IGST on imports of goods (other than motor vehicles) under a lease agreement if IGST is paid on the lease amount.
iii.            To extend IGST exemption presently applicable to skimmed milk powder or concentrated milk, when supplied to distinct person under section 25(4) for use in production of milk for distribution through dairy cooperatives to where such milk is distributed through companies registered under the Companies Act.
iv.            Exemption from IGST on imports of specified goods by a sports person of outstanding eminence, subject to specified conditions
v.            Exemption from GST on specified goods, such as scientific or technical instruments, software, prototype supplied to public funded research institution or a university or IISc, or IITs or NIT.
vi.            Coverage of more items, such as temporary import of professional equipment by accredited press persons visiting India to cover certain events, broadcasting equipments, sports items, testing equipment, under ATA carnet system. These goods are to be re-exported after the specified use is over.
(IV) Other changes for simplification and harmonisation or clarification of issues
i.            To clarify that inter-state movement of goods like rigs, tools, spares and goods on wheel like cranes, not being in the course of furtherance of supply of such goods, does not constitute a supply. This clarification gives major compliance relief to industry as there are frequent inter-state movement of such kind in the course of providing services to customers or for the purposes of getting such goods repaired or refurbished or for any self-use.  Service provided using such goods would in any case attract applicable tax.
ii.            To prescribe that GST on supply of raw cotton by agriculturist will be liable to be paid by the recipient of such supply under reverse charge.
iii.            Supply of e-waste attracts 5% GST rate. Concerned notification to be amended to make it amply clear that this rate applies only to e-waste discarded as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer.
 (V)             Changes relating to GST rates on certain services
 (A)        Exemptions / Changes in GST Rates / ITC Eligibility Criteria
i.            All stand-alone restaurants irrespective of air conditioned or otherwise, will attract 5% without ITC. Food parcels (or takeaways) will also attract 5% GST without ITC.
ii.            Restaurants in hotel premises having room tariff of less than Rs 7500 per unit per day will attract GST of 5% without ITC.
iii.            Restaurants in hotel premises having room tariff of Rs 7500 and above per unit per day (even for a single room) will attract GST of 18% with full ITC.
iv.            Outdoor catering will continue to be at 18% with full ITC.
v.            GST on services by way of admission to "protected monuments" to be exempted.
vi.            GST rate on job work services in relation to manufacture of those handicraft goods in respect of which the casual taxable person has been exempted from obtaining registration, to be reduced to 5% with full input tax credit. 
(B)    Rationalization of certain exemption entries
i.            The existing exemption entries with respect to services provided by Fair Price Shops to the Central Government, State Governments or Union Territories by way of sale of food grains, kerosene, sugar, edible oil, etc. under Public Distribution System (PDS) against consideration in the form of commission or margin, is being rationalized so as to remove ambiguity regarding list of items and the category of recipients to whom the exemption is available.
ii.            In order to maintain consistency, entry at item (vi) of Sr. No.3 of notification No. 11/2017-CT(R) will be aligned with the entries at items (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) of SI.No.3. [The word “services” in entry (vi) will be replaced with "Composite supply of Works contract as defined in clause 119 of Section 2 of CGST Act, 2017"].
iii.            In order to obviate dispute and litigation, it is proposed that irrespective of whether permanent transfer of Intellectual Property is a supply of goods or service:
               (i) permanent transfer of Intellectual Property other than Information Technology software attracts GST at the rate of 12%; and
               (ii) permanent transfer of Intellectual Property in respect of Information Technology software attracts GST at the rate of 18%.
(C)    Clarifications
i.            It is being clarified that credit of GST paid on aircraft engines, parts & accessories will be available for discharging GST on inter–state supply of such aircraft engines, parts & accessories by way of inter-state stock transfers between distinct persons as specified in section 25 of the CGST Act.
ii.            A circular will be issued clarifying that processed products such as tea (i.e. black tea, white tea etc.), processed coffee beans or powder, pulses (de-husked or split), jaggery, processed spices, processed dry fruits & cashew nuts etc. fall outside the definition of agricultural produce given in notification No. 11/2017-CT(R) and 12/2017-CT(R) and therefore the exemption from GST is not available to their loading, packing, warehousing etc.
iii.            A suitable clarification will be issued that (i) services provided to the Central Government, State Government, Union territory under any insurance scheme for which total premium is paid by the Central Government, State Government, Union territory are exempt from GST under Sl. No. 40 of notification No. 12/2017-Central Tax (Rate);  (ii) services provided by State Government by way of general insurance (managed by government) to employees of the State government/ Police personnel, employees of Electricity Department or students are exempt vide entry 6 of notification No. 12/2017-CT(R) which exempts Services by Central Government, State Government, Union territory or local authority to individuals.

NITI Aayog releases proposal for quick pilot on EV charging infrastructure in Delhi

NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar today released a proposal to develop electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in Delhi.
The proposal was drafted by AC2SG in collaboration with NITI Aayog. It could be used to provide a structure for EV infrastructure rollout in the Gurgaon-IGI-South Delhi-Noida corridor.
This planning will make the actual rollout easier and faster and also save cost on the deployment. The planning process is based on a five-step process; 1) project kick-off, 2) formation of "long list" of locations, 3) streamlining and timing, 4) documentation and 5) wrap-up.
This proposal for developing the pilot includes 55 locations with 135 charging stations of which 46 are DC quick charging stations and 89 are slower AC charging stations. This deployment would require co-operation with state governments, selected government authorities and companies as well as some private enterprises (e.g. DIAL at IGI, DLF Mall).
The plan includes a deployment timeline with first installations in November 2017.
The plan is implementable, it includes a large number of stations. Further expansion of this in Delhi NCR and other cities in India is something to be considered based on the experience from this "Quick pilot", an official press release added.

CCEA approves utilisation of pulses from the buffer stock to meet protein component in Central schemes

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved a proposal to utilize a part of the stock of pulses in the buffer maintained by the Department of Consumer Affairs for meeting the protein component under various schemes of Central Government providing nutrition to various target groups/beneficiaries. 
To give effect to the decision, the CCEA has empowered the concerned Departments/Ministries to carry out suitable amendments in their schemes/guidelines to enable them to take/provide pulses from the buffer in kind under their respective schemes. 
The disposal through the Central Government Schemes is in addition to the disposal of pulses from the buffer through open market sale and supply to States, an official press release said.
All the concerned Ministries/Departments will make necessary changes in their schemes and assess requirement of pulses within next three months of the approval. Supply of pulses from the Central buffer would commence based on such requirement indicated by these Ministries/Departments, it said.
The objective of the approval is to enable the concerned administrative Ministries/Departments to ensure that pulses from the buffer are utilized as in 'kind' component of the Centre's contribution in such schemes, in lieu of its financial contribution of equivalent amount. The concerned Departments may revert to the current system of making nutrition available only in case of non-availability of pulses in the buffer. Ministries/Departments or their agencies providing food/ catering/ hospitality services have also been enabled to make suitable provision in their commercial arrangement (tenders/contracts) to ensure that the requirements of pulses for such operations are met through the central buffer. 
The approval will also help ensure adequate supply of nutrients/pulses under the various schemes/programmes of Government including Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme, hospitals, etc. as well as Ministries/ Departments or their agencies providing food/catering/hospitality services. 
For a sustainable buffer operation, availability of regular and assured channels of disposal wherein a committed quantity is taken/lifted from the buffer at regular periodicity may be of critical importance. This would facilitate optimal utilization and efficient management of pulses in buffer through regular/planned rotation of pulses and replacement of stock through fresh crop on continual basis. 
The cost of pulses supplied to States would, in no case, be higher than the market price, protecting their interest as well. 
The buffer of up to 20 lakh MT has been created to enable effective market intervention by government, discourage market manipulation and provide cushion against price rise to consumers. It may incentivize farmers and encourage production of pulses as well. 
As the buffer of pulses serves the interests of both consumers and farmers, ensuring its attainability and efficient operation is importantfor the welfare of these stakeholders. For a sustainable buffer operation, availability of regular and assured channels of disposal wherein a committed quantity Is taken/lifted from the buffer at regular periodicity may be of critical importance. This would facilitate effective management of the buffer. Such assured channel for disposal of pulses may be provided by the Central GovernmentMinistries/Departments and their agencies that are operating Schemes under which food and nutrition is being provided to the beneficiaries, such as Mid Day Meals. This would also facilitate nutritional security, the release added.

Hydel plant in Biaras Drass is first project commissioned under PM's Ladakh Renewable Energy Initiative

The Biaras Small Hydro Power Project (SHP) of 1.5 MW capacity, in Biaras Drass, Kargil Jammu & Kashmir, commissioned on November 4, has become the first project to be commissioned under the Prime Minister's Ladakh Renewable Energy Initiative (LREI).
The total cost of the project, fully funded by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, is Rs. 17 crores, an official press release said.
The plant will power Drass town in Kargil, which is one of the coldest places in India. Power from Biaras SHP would be sufficient to meet normal power requirement of about 1000 families, which would make them comfortable in the extreme winter season. 
The project has been developed by Kargil Renewable Energy Development Agency (KREDA) under Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, the release added.

India's industrial output grows by 3.8% in September, 2017

India's industrial output grew by 3.8 percent in September 2017, as compared to the level in the same month of the previous year, an official statement said here today.
The Quick Estimates of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and Use-Based Index for September 2017 (Base 2011-12=100), released here today by the Central Statistics Office of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, said the General Index for the month stood at 122.7.
The cumulative growth for the period April-September 2017 over the corresponding period of the previous year stood at 2.5%, it said.
According to the statement, the Indices of Industrial Production for the Mining, Manufacturing and Electricity sectors for September 2017 stood at 94.6, 125.1 and 150.5, respectively, with corresponding growth rates of 7.9%, 3.4% and 3.4% as compared to September 2016.
The cumulative growth in these three sectors during April-September 2017 over the corresponding period of 2016 was 3.9%, 1.9% and 5.7%, respectively.
The statement said 11 of the 23 industry groups in the manufacturing sector had shown positive growth during September 2017 as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
The industry group ‘Manufacture of pharmaceuticals, medicinal chemical and botanical products’ showed the highest positive growth of 26.4%, followed by 13.2% in ‘Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products’ and 13.1% in ‘Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers’. 
The industry group ‘Other manufacturing’ has shown the highest negative growth of (-) 27.1% followed by (-) 23.1% in ‘Manufacture of tobacco products’ and (-) 19.2% in ‘Manufacture of electrical equipment’.
The statement said the Primary goods registered a growth rate of 6.6% in September 2017 over September 2016, Capital goods 7.4%, Intermediate goods 1.9% and Infrastructure/Construction goods 0.5%.
Consumer durables and Consumer non-durables recorded growth of (-) 4.8% and 10.0%, respectively, it said.
Items which showed high positive growth in September 2017 included ‘Separators including decanter centrifuge’ (117.4%), ‘Bodies of trucks, lorries and trailers’ (94.5%), ‘Steroids and hormonal preparations (including anti-fungal preparations)’ (66.7%), ‘Meters (electric and non-electric)’ (58.5%),  ‘Digestive enzymes and antacids (incl. PPI drugs)’ (51.2%), ‘Axle’ (50.6%), ‘Fragrances & Oil essentials’ (46.0%), ‘Anti-pyretic, analgesic/anti-inflammatory API & formulations’ (41.2%), ‘Vaccine for veterinary medicine’ (34.3%), ‘Telephones and mobile instruments’ (28.8%) and  ‘Films of polythene, polyester, PVC & other forms of plastic’ (25.3%).
Items which registered high negative growth included ‘Electric heaters’ [(-) 95.2%], ‘Anti-malarial drug’ [(-)76.9%], ‘Jewellery of gold (studded with stones or not)’ [(-) 67.7%], ‘Plastic jars, bottles and containers’ [(-) 61.9%], ‘API & formulations of hypo-lipidemic agents incl. anti-hyper-triglyceridemics (e.g. simvastatin, atorvastatin, etc); anti-hypertensive’ [(-) 44.6%], ‘Other tobacco products’ [(-) 36.1%], ‘Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits (e.g switchgear, circuit breakers/switches, control/ meter panel)’ [(-) 31.5%], ‘Cement Clinkers’ [(-) 30.7%], ‘Printing Machinery’ [(-) 30.2%], ‘Tooth Paste’ [(-) 26.9%], ‘Palm Oil refined (including Palmolein)’ [(-) 21.9%], ‘Tea’ [(-) 21.0%] and ‘Plastic components of packing/ closing/ bottling articles & of electrical fittings’ [(-) 20.7%].

Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 62.40/bbl

The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as compute and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, fell to $ 62.40 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 62.42 per bbl on the previous day.
An official press release said that, in rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs 4049.46 per bbl on 09.11.2017 as compared to Rs. 4060.91 per bbl on 08.11.2017. 
The rupee closed stronger at Rs. 64.90 per US$ on 09.11.2017 as compared to 65.06 per US$ on 08.11.2017, it added.

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 4023 crore

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 4023 crore across various business segments.
A press release from the company said its Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business had bagged orders cumulatively worth Rs. 1906 crore, including a major government order worth ? 1824 crores in a joint venture with an international partner - Seaport Dredging Private Limited - for the construction of various marine facilities.
In addition, L&T Geostructure, an arm of the Heavy Civil Infrastructure business, has bagged an order from the public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) for the execution of piling works for the Ennore SEZ Super Thermal Power Project in Chennai, it said.
The company said its Buildings & Factories Business had bagged an order worth Rs. 830 crore from a reputed client for the construction of a cancer hospital in Muscat, Oman, which will be equipped with high end facilities like ICUs, High Dependency Units, Chemotherapy bays, Medical Imaging units, Oncology Radiation units, and so on.
The release said the company's Water & Effluent Treatment Business had received engineering, procurement & construction orders worth Rs.  788 crore. An order has been secured from Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam for the construction of the Kanpur Water Carrier System. The scope includes survey, design, laying of water pipeline system, intake structures and other allied works for conveying raw water from Bidhnu canal to an upcoming thermal power plant at Kanpur.
Two orders have been received from Public Health Engineering Department of a major state to provide Rural Water and Fluorosis mitigation. The scope includes supply, laying & commissioning of distribution network, construction of clear water reservoirs, elevated storage reservoirs and house service connections.
The company said its Power Transmission & Distribution Business had  bagged orders worth Rs. 342 crore. An order has been bagged from Nepal Electricity Authority for the design, supply, installation and commissioning of the Kushma – New Butwal 220 kV Transmission Line which will help to meet the power demand of central Nepal and also enable cross-border power exchange. Advanced High Temperature Low Sag conductors are to be used in the project. This order has been secured under the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Power System Expansion Project amidst stiff international competition, it said.
Additional orders have been bagged from ongoing projects of the business. 
The Smart World Communication Business has has bagged an order worth Rs. 157 crore from Raipur Smart City Limited for the implementation of Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS), City Surveillance System and Integrated Command Control Centre in Raipur City. The scope of work also includes smart elements of Public Address, Emergency Call Box, Adaptive Traffic Control System, Smart Poles and Wi-Fi Access Points, the release added.

Price Stabilization Fund Management Committee decides to import onions through Govt. agency

The Price Stabilization Fund Management Committee, headed by Secretary, Consumer Affairs, Avinash K. Srivastava, has decided to import onions through a government agency to augment the availability of onions in the market to moderate prices.
At its meeting held here yesterday, the committee also decided that NAFED and SFAC should procure 10,000 MT and 2,000 MT onions, respectively, from producing areas including Delhi and supply it to consuming areas to enhance its availability and to help moderate prices, an official press release said.
The meeting was attended by senior officials from various Ministries, NAFED and MMTC.

Virat Kohli launches his brand One8, in collaboration with Puma

India's cricket captain Virat Kohli yesterday unveiled his own brand One8 – a collection of athleisure wear reflective of his personal belief. 
The launch of the brand is backed by the movement Come Out and Play, which aims to bring about a groundswell invoking Indians to adopt an active lifestyle, where playing is an integral part, where playing is not adopted only to win or compete but for the sheer joy and benefits of it. 
One8 has been created in collaboration with Puma, the German sports lifestyle company, which is providing design, product, retail and communication channels for the brand.
One8’s message - Come Out And Play - is a multifaceted movement targeted at every Indian across the country. The movement aims to highlight the simple joys of playing and how it can be seamlessly integrated into everyday life – whether at work or at home.
To encourage everyone to find ways to lead an active lifestyle, One8 has been developed as an athletic leisure range, in collaboration with Puma, the fastest global sportswear brand in the world. 
Kohli and Puma launched the One8 brand at Select City Walk, Delhi. The name of the collection, One8, is derived from Kohli's jersey number, 18.
"Each piece of the One8 collection demonstrates his bold and dynamic personality while staying true to his passion of pursuing an active lifestyle. By incorporating subtle branding, look and feel, Puma has emphasized the simplicity of Virat’s personal style, while bold graphics are infused to connect with Virat’s on-field persona. Across the collection, Puma has used premium fabrics crafted with a contemporary style," a press release form the company said.
While the One8 line currently comprises athleisure apparel, performance apparel, footwear and accessories will be introduced in the upcoming season, it said.
“Sport holds a very important place in my life. It has helped me become who I am today. The fact that we generally view sports as a hindrance to success or as a distraction as we grow older, needs to change. I urge everyone to make time to pursue a more physically active lifestyle by making time to play. It’s fun, relieves stress and helps us stay healthy," Kohli said.
“The One8 range is very close to my heart. It is my way of calling out to Indians to Come Out and Play, because feeling fit and looking active is a simple step 1 towards leading a more active lifestyle. The collection is very versatile and is a mix of fashion and functionality. I have been deeply invested in the design and ideation behind the products, with Puma designers even browsing through my wardrobe for inspiration! Partnering with Puma to create One8 is also great because the brand is such a fit with my personality and will ensure that ‘brand One8’ is constantly evolving.”
Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director, Puma India said, “Virat Kohli is an inspiration and role model for the youth today. He has carved a niche for himself by pursuing his dreams and is the perfect example of how sport can make one a well-rounded individual. We believe collaborating with Virat is the right direction for both the brand and a movement as important as Come Out and Play.”
He further added, “The One8 collection is the perfect blend of style and sport– for every person looking to easily transition from work to play. It reflects Virat’s effortless style, while staying true to his philosophy of an active lifestyle. We are excited to collaborate with him to launch his new brand, and drive this movement with him. Through this collaboration, Puma will continue to create opportunities to inspire Indians to adopt fitness and sports in everyday life.”

NITI Aayog to hold Blockchain summit and hackathon from Nov 10 - 13

NITI Aayog will hold a Blockchain summit and hackathon from November 10-13 in the run-up to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), an official press release said today.
NITI Aayog will hold the event along with Proffer, a blockchain startup founded by graduates of MIT and Harvard, at IIT Delhi as part of the series of Road to GES events.
The objective is to explore how blockchain architectures can enable a new digital infrastructure for India, improving efficiency, transparency, privacy, and cost across all sectors.
More than 1,500 students from IITs, MIT, Universities of Harvard and Berkeley along with top engineering institutions around the world will be participating in the event, with 500 attending in person at the IIT campus.
Microsoft, IBM, Accel, Coinbase, and Amazon AWS are sponsoring $17,000+ in prizes to reward the top 5 blockchain-based applications addressing problems in government/enterprise infrastructure, finance, energy markets, supply chain, decentralized Aadhar identities, information exchange, and more.
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant will deliver the keynote address tomorrow, sharing his perspective on how blockchain technology can transform the Indian economy and presenting his vision for IndiaChain – a blockchain-enabled infrastructure for Indian enterprise and government.
Ms Aruna Sundararajan (Secretary, Telecom/IT), Dr Sriram Raghavan (CTO and Director of Research, IBM India), and Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey (CEO, Aadhar/UIDAI) will also be addressing the gathering in the evening and Saturday morning.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 62.42/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, fell to $ 62.42 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 62.83 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs 4060.91 per bbl on 08.11.2017 as compared to Rs. 4071.49 per bbl on 07.11.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 65.06 per US$ on 08.11.2017 as compared to 64.81 per US$ on 07.11.2017, the release added.

India's gold demand drops by 24% to 145.9 tonnes in Q3 2017: WGC

Demand for gold in India for the third quarter (Q3) of 2017 fell by 24% to 145.9 tonnes (t) from 192.8t in the same quarter of 2016 as the newly introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST) and tighter anti-money laundering regulations deterred buyers, the World Gold Council's latest Gold Demand Trends report said today.
The report said India's gold demand value in Q3, ended September, fell 30% to Rs. 38,540 crore from Rs. 55,390 crore in Q3 2016.
According to it, total jewellery demand in India for Q3 2017 was down by 25% at 114.9t as compared to 152.7t in the same quarter last year. The value of jewellery demand was Rs 30,340 crores, down by 31% from Q3 2016 (Rs. 43,880 crore).
Total investment demand for Q3 2017 was down by 23% at 31t in comparison to Q3 2016 (40.1t). In value terms, gold investment demand was Rs. 8,200 crores, down by 29% from Q3 2016 (Rs. 11,520 crores), it said.
Total gold recycled in India in Q3 2017 was 26.7t , as compared to 25.7t tonnes in Q3 2016.
The report said the full-year market expectations of gold demand in India was 650-750t.
"Tax and regulatory changes in India weighed on domestic gold demand. The new GST regime deterred consumers, as did new anti-money laundering regulations governing jewellery retail transactions.
"Inflows into gold-backed ETFs stalled: holdings grew by just 19t. Investors continued to favour gold’s risk-hedging properties, but the greater focus was on buoyant stock markets," the report said.
Mr. Somasundaram PR, Managing Director, India, World Gold Council said: "India’s gold demand was down 24% YoY to 146t in Q3 2017, as the newly introduced Goods & Services Tax (GST) and anti-money laundering legislation (AML) around jewellery retail transactions deterred gold buyers. After three consecutive quarters of growth, jewellery demand fell by 25% to 115t YoY in Q3; bar and coin demand also fell by 23% to 31t."
"The drop can be attributed partly to some advance buying in Q2 to pre-empt the introduction of GST in Q3. However, with the industry’s gradual transition to GST proceeding on expected lines, and the removal of AML legislation, demand during the festive season seems to show clear signs of recovery in Q4. This is also underpinned by the faster growth in imports ahead of demand, and price factors in the market.
"Headwinds for demand continue though, following various measures since early 2016 to boost transparency, and therefore we expect full year demand in 2017 to be well below the 5-year average, our estimate being between 650 to 750 tonnes, the lower end of the range being more likely," he added.
The council said overall global gold demand fell 9% to 915 tonnes in Q3 2017 from 1,001t in Q3 2016 due to a softer quarter in in the jewellery sector and significantly lower inflows into exchange traded funds (ETFs) from uprecedented highs in 2016.
Global jewellery demand was down 3% year-on- year in Q3. While ETFs had another quarter of positive inflows, these fell far short of the remarkable 144t influx into the sector in Q3 2016. By contrast, demand from other sectors consolidated: central bank demand was healthy in Q3, up 25% year-on- year to 111t, while bar and coin investment strengthened by 17% to 222t, albeit from a low base.
"Gold jewellery demand fell in Q3 2017. A weak quarter in India was the main reason for the year-on- year decline in global demand, down from 495t in Q3 2016 to 479t in Q3 2017. Jewellery volumes continue to languish below longer-term average levels," the report said.
Gold bar and coin demand growth was driven in large part by China. Global investment in bars and coins rose by 17%, from relatively weak year-earlier levels. Mainland investors in China bought on price dips, clocking up a fourth consecutive quarter of growth.
Central bank demand of 111t in Q3 was 25% higher year-on- year. Russia and Turkey together added nearly 95t of gold to global official reserves. Volumes of gold used in technology increased for the fourth consecutive quarter. Strong demand for LEDs and continued growth in the use of 3D sensors in new smartphones boosted demand by 2%.
Mr. Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence at the World Gold Council, commented: “It was a tough quarter for gold demand. India was coming to terms with GST and anti-money laundering regulations and, although we saw ETF inflows at 19t, they were significantly lower than last year. But there were some real bright spots: retail investment demand in China grew for the fourth consecutive quarter; the Turkish and Russian central banks added to gold reserves; and, after years of declines, we also saw increased use of gold in technology, supported by the demand for high-end smartphones.”
The report said total supply of gold fell 2% in Q3 2017. Mine production fell 1% year-on- year in Q3, which was also the fifth consecutive quarter of net de-hedging. Recycling activity continued to normalise after jumping in 2016.
Some of the other key findings included in the report are:
• Total consumer demand rose by 2% to 701t, from 686t in the same period last year
• Total investment demand fell 28% to 241t compared with 335t in Q3 2016
• Global jewellery demand dropped 3% to 479t, from 495t in the same period last year
• Central bank demand climbed 25% to 111t compared with 89t in Q3 2016
• Demand in the technology sector increased 2% to 84t compared with 83t in Q3 2016
• Total supply was down 2% to 1,146t, from 1,168t in the same period last year
• Recycling fell 6% to 315t compared with 335t in Q3 2016

India’s second Technology and Innovation Support Centre set up at Anna University in Chennai

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has signed an Institutional agreement with Anna University to establish India’s second Technology and Innovation Support Centre (TISC) at the Centre for Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR), Anna University in Chennai.
WIPO’s Technology and Innovation Support Centre (TISC) program provides innovators in developing countries with access to locally based, high-quality technology information and related services, helping them to exploit their innovative potential and to create, protect, and manage their Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
CIPR has an experience of filing more than 185 Patents, 29 Trademarks, 39 Copyrights, 25 Industrial Design and has also assisted in filing 12 International Patent applications. Anna University has been accredited with 6th rank among universities, 8th rank among engineering colleges and 13th rank in the overall category in India, by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
CIPR has also organized IPR awareness programs as well as six certificate courses on IPR-related subjects.
The objective of the TISC is to stimulate a dynamic, vibrant and balanced Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) system in India to foster creativity and innovation, thereby promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing social, economic and cultural development by establishing a network of TISCs in India.
Over 500 TISCs operate worldwide and establishing a TISC in India will give the host institutions access to the global network. The Centre will give an impetus to knowledge sharing, sharing of best practices among the TISCs, capacity building, generation and commercialization of Intellectual Properties, an official press release said.

BHEL wins Rs. 350 crore order for 765 kV sub-station in West Bengal

The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today  said it had bagged a major order for setting up two 765 kV sub-stations on EPC (engineering, procurement & construction) basis in West Bengal.
Valued at over Rs. 350 crore, this is the largest value 765kV sub-station project order for BHEL so far, a press release from the company said.
"With this, the company has maintained its undisputed leadership in the 765 kV Power Transmission segment," it said.
The order has been placed on BHEL by Powergrid Medinipur-Jeerat Transmission Limited (PMJTL), a 100% wholly owned subsidiary of Power Grid Corporation of India Limited.
BHEL’s scope of work in the contract envisages constructing two large sized greenfield 3,000 MVA, 765/400 kV sub-stations, at Medinipur and Jeerat (near Kolkata). These EHV substations will play a key role in strengthening the 765 kV system in the eastern region (ERSS-XVIII), for delivering power to important load centres in the state of West Bengal.
The sub-stations are slated to be commissioned within a schedule of 30 months. The project shall be engineered and delivered by BHEL on total turnkey basis.
"BHEL has been contributing significantly in making the 765 kV Ultra High Capacity inter-state transmission network a reality by undertaking the commissioning of 765 kV greenfield substations across the nation on turnkey basis. These include sub-stations at Raichur (3,000 MVA) in Karnataka, Fatehabad in Uttar Pradesh (3,000 MVA), Banaskantha (3,000 MVA) and Bhuj (4,000 MVA) in Gujarat and Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu (3,000 MVA)," the release added.

Third Protocol to Convention between India, New Zealand notified

The Third Protocol for amendment of the Convention between the Government of India and the Government of New Zealand for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income has been notified on November 2.
The protocol was signed by both countries on 26th October 2016 and entered into force in India on 7th September 2017, an official press release said.
The protocol updates the existing framework of exchange of tax related information to latest international standard which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two countries and will also enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes, the release added.

Grahak Sadak Koyla Vitaran app launched for customers lifting coal through road mode

Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal recently launched the Grahak Sadak Koyla Vitaran App which is expected to benefit customers lifting coal through the road mode.
The app was launched at the Coal India Foundation Day celebration in Kolkata on November 1, an official press release said today.
The release said the app had helped achieve transparency in despatch operations. It acts as a tool to monitor whether the fair principle of ‘First in First Out’ is maintained and keeps track of all the activities from issuance of Sale Order to physical delivery of coal by road.
The main benefits of the app for the customers, against the sale orders issued, include easy accessibility of the information at the click of the button, apart from transparency in the system of loading programme and despatch. The app also helps in logistics planning for lifting of coal in tune with the loading programmes. It further helps in improved planning of procurement, production and stock management by the customers, the release said.
The main features of the app are that it provides date-wise, truck-wise quantity of coal delivered against the sale orders and information related to scheme-wise, colliery-wise, grade-wise, customer-wise details of sale orders issued during a period.
In terms of loading, it provides allotment versus lifting status in details from different sources truck by truck and summary of the despatch.
CIL, in a move to rush more coal to power stations, coal supplies to plants located in shorter distances have been offering the road mode from available pithead stock. As a result, power plants located within 50 Km to 60 Km from the mines could take as much coal as they want from the nearest mines.
During 2016-17, despatch of coal through road mode had been about 140 Million Tonnes (MTs) out of the total despatch of 542 MTs by CIL accounting for 26%. The impetus given in the current fiscal has improved movement of coal through road considerably, it said.
As of October end, the movement of coal through road mode at a little over 93 MTs accounted for 29% of the total coal despatch of 317 MTs. The road despatch during the current fiscal till October 2017 went up by 12 MTs compared to same period last fiscal, the release added.

Major telecom cos. to provide rural broadband connectivity through BharatNet

The rolling out of services by major telecom service providers (TSPs) in the private sector utilizing BharatNet connectivity is expected to trigger the village level eco-system and give an impetus to increase broadband facilities in rural India, an official press release said today.
BharatNet, a flagship project of the Union Government of India to provide broadband services in rural and remote areas has entered in service provisioning phase, it said.
As on November 5, optical fibre cable (OFC) connectivity has been achieved in 1,03,275 gram panchayats (GPs) by laying fibre for 2,38,677 km. Due to several measures initiated to accelerate the end-to-end connectivity, GPON equipment has been installed in 85,506 GPs and 75,082 GPs are services ready, the release said.
Digital India, to provide Digital Services in rural and remote areas, is one of the priority areas of the Government. In order to provide affordable broadband services in rural India, a new attractive and affordable tariff structure has been decided on the principle of more you use, less you pay. This tariff structure is expected to be reflected in the tariffs to be charged from the consumers by the service providers, it said.
For asymmetrical bandwidth between block to GPs the charges per annum vary from Rs. 700 per Mbps for up to 10 Mbps and Rs. 200 per Mbps for 1 Gbps. However, for symmetrical bandwidth between block to GP, charges have been prescribed as Rs.1000 per Mbps up to 10 Mbps, and Rs. 500 per Mbps for 100 Mbps per annum. Tariff for any intermediate bandwidth shall be calculated on pro-rata basis.
Further, a discount of 5% to 25% has been offered for taking bandwidth in more than 1000 GPs to more than 25,000 GPs in a single application. To lower the entry barriers, port charges at block and GP have been waived. Tariffs for dark fibre are prescribed as Rs. 2250 per fibre per km per annum for service providers and Government agencies.
Following such initiatives, TSPs have come forward for utilizing the BharatNet connectivity. Airtel has shown interest in 10,000 GPs for taking 1 Gbps connectivity on lease while Reliance Jio, Vodafone and Idea are interested in taking 100 Mbps connectivity on lease in about 30,000, 2,000 and 1,000 GPs, respectively, the release added.

Jaitley says demonetization will be remembered as "watershed moment"

Jaitley says demonetization watershed moment of Indian economy
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today strongly defended the Government's November 8, 2016 decision to demonetise Rs. 1000 an Rs. 500 bank notes, saying that it would be remembered as a "watershed moment" in the history of the Indian economy.
"When demonetization was implemented, one of the intended objectives was to put identity on the cash holdings in the economy.  With the return of Rs.15.28 lakh crore in the formal banking system, almost entire cash holding of the economy now has an address.  It is no more anonymous.  
"From this inflow, the amount involving suspicious transactions based on various estimates ranges from Rs. 1.6 lakh crore to Rs. 1.7 lakh crore.  Now it is with the tax administration and other enforcement agencies to use big data analytics and crack down on suspicious transactions," Mr. Jaitley said in a post on his Facebook page, on the eve of the first anniversary of the decision.
"November 8, 2016 would be remembered as a watershed moment in the history of Indian economy.  This day signifies the resolve of this Government to cure the country from 'dreaded disease of black money'," he said.
Mr. Jaitley said Indians were until then forced to live with the attitude of “chalta hai” with respect to corruption and black money and the brunt of this was faced particularly by the middle class and lower strata of society. 
"It was a hidden urge of the larger section of our society for a long period to root out the curse of corruption and black money; and it was this urge which manifested in the verdict of people in May 2014.
"Immediately after taking up responsibility in May 2014, this Government decided to fulfil the wish of the people in tackling the menace of black money by constituting SIT on black money.  Our country is aware that how even a direction from the Supreme Court on this issue was ignored by the then Government for number of years.  Another example of lack of will to fight against black money was the delay of 28 years in implementation of Benami Property Act," he said.
Mr. Jaitley said the Government took decisions and implemented the earlier provisions of law in a well-considered and planned manner over three years to meet the objective of fight against black money.  These decisions span from setting up of Special Investigation Team (SIT) to passing of necessary laws for foreign assets to demonetisation and to implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST), he said.
"When the country is participating in Anti-Black Money Da, a debate was started that whether the entire exercise of demonetisation has served any intended purpose.  This narrative attempts to bring out positive outcomes of demonetization in short-term and medium-term with respect to stated objectives," he said about his Facebook post.
He said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had reported in their Annual Accounts that Specified Bank Notes (SBNs) of estimated value of Rs.15.28 lakh crore had been deposited back as on 30.6.2017.  The outstanding SBNs as on 8th November, 2016 were of Rs.15.44 lakh crore value.  The total currency in circulation of all denominations as on 8th November, 2016 was 17.77 lakh crore.
Mr. Jaitley said one of the important objective of demonetisation was to make India a less cash economy and thereby reduce the flow of black money in the system.  
"The reduction in currency in circulation from the base scenario reflects that this intended objective has been met.  The published figure of 'currency in circulation' for half year ending September, 2017 is Rs. 15.89 lakh crore.  This shows year on year variation of (-) Rs. 1.39 lakh crore; whereas year on year variation for the same period during last year was (+) Rs. 2.50 lakh crore.  This means that reduction in currency in circulation is of the order of Rs. 3.89 lakh crore," he said.
"Why should we remove excess currency from the system?  Why should we curtail cash transactions?  It is common knowledge that cash is anonymous.  When demonetization was implemented, one of the intended objectives was to put identity on the cash holdings in the economy," he said.
Mr. Jaitley said the tax administration and other enforcement agencies had also started taking steps to crack down on suspicious transactions.
"Number of Suspicious Transaction Reports filed by banks during 2016-17 has gone up from 61,361 in 2015-16 to 3,61,214; the increase during the same period for Financial Institutions is from 40,333 to 94,836 and for intermediaries registered with SEBI the increase is from 4,579 to 16,953.
"Based on big data analytics, cash seizure by Income Tax Department has more than doubled in 2016-17 when compared to 2015-16; during search and seizure by the Department Rs.15,497 crore of undisclosed income has been admitted which is 38% higher than the undisclosed amount admitted during 2015-16; and undisclosed income detected during surveys in 2016-17 is Rs.13,716 crore which is 41% higher than the detection made in 2015-16.
"Undisclosed income admitted and undisclosed income detected taken together amounts to Rs.29,213 crore; which is close to 18% of the amount involved in suspicious transactions.  This process will gain momentum under Operation Clean Money launched on January 31, 2017," he said.
"The exercise to remove the anonymity with currency has further yielded results in the form of:
56 lakh new individual tax payers filing their returns till August 5, 2017 which was the last date for filing return for this category; last year this number was about 22 lakh;
Self-Assessment Tax (voluntary payment by tax payers at the time of filing return) paid by non-corporate tax payers increasing by 34.25% during April 1 to August 5 in 2017 when compared to the same period in 2016," he said.
Mr. Jaitley said that, with increase in tax base and bringing back undisclosed income into the formal economy, the amount of Advance Tax paid by non-corporate tax payers during the current year had also increased by about 42% during 1st April to 5th August. 
He said the leads gathered due to data collected during demonetisation period had led to identification of 2.97 lakh suspect shell companies.  After issuance of statutory notices to these companies and following due process under the law, 2.24 lakh companies have been de-registered from the books of Registrar of Companies.
"Further actions were taken under the law to stop operation of bank accounts of these struck off companies.  Actions are also being taken for freezing their bank accounts and debarring their directors from being on board of any company.  In the initial analysis of bank accounts of such companies following information has come out which are worth mentioning:
Of 2.97 lakh struck off companies, information pertaining to 28,088 companies involving 49,910 bank accounts show that these companies have deposited and withdrawn Rs.10,200 crore from 9th November 2016 till the date of strike off from RoC;
Many of these companies are found to have more than 100 bank accounts – one company even reaching a figure of 2,134 accounts;
Simultaneously, Income Tax Department has taken action against more than 1150 shell companies which were used as conduits by over 22,000 beneficiaries to launder more than Rs.13,300 crore," he said.
Mr. Jaitley said that, post demonetization, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had introduced a Graded Surveillance Measure in stock exchanges.  This measure has been introduced in over 800 securities by the exchanges.  
"Inactive and suspended companies many a time are used as harbours of manipulative minds.  In order to ensure that such suspicious companies do not languish in the exchanges, over 450 such companies have been delisted and demat accounts of their promoters have been frozen; they have also been barred to be directors of listed companies.  Around 800 companies listed on erstwhile regional exchanges are not traceable and a process has been initiated to declare them as vanishing companies," he said.
Mr. Jaitley said demonetization appeared to have led to an acceleration in the financialisation of savings. 
"In parallel, there is a shift towards greater formalisation of the economy in the near term aided by the introduction of Good and Services Tax (GST).  Some of the parameters indicating such shift are given below:
Corporate bond market has started reaping the benefits of additional financial savings and transmission of interest rate reduction.  The corporate Bond market issuance grew to Rs. 1.78 lakh crore in 2016-17, the year on year increase was Rs.78,000 crore. With other sources of issuance in capital market the incremental variation is almost Rs.2 lakh crore in 2016-17 while that was Rs.1 lakh crore in 2015-16."
He said this trend was further substantiated by the surge in primary market raising through public and rights issues.  There were 87 issues of public and rights for raising equity involving amount of Rs. 24,054 crore during FY 2015-16; in the first six months of 2017-18 itself there are 99 such issues amounting to Rs. 28,319 crore.
He said net inflow into Mutual Funds during 2016-17 increased by 155% during 2016-17 over 2015-16 reaching 3.43 lakh crore; net inflows in mutual funds during November 2016 to June 2017 was about Rs. 1.7 lakh crore as against Rs. 9,160 crore during the same period in the year before; premia collected by life insurance companies more than doubled in November 2016; the cumulative collections during November 2016 to January 2017 increased by 46 per cent over the same period of the previous year.  The premium collections witnessed 21% growth for year ending September 2017 over the corresponding period of previous year.
"With a shift to less cash economy, India has taken a big leap in digital payment during 2016-17.  Some of the trends are given below:
110 crore transactions, valued at around Rs.3.3 lakh crore and another 240 crore transactions, valued at Rs.3.3 lakh crore were carried out through credit cards and debit cards, respectively.  The value of transaction for debit and credit card was Rs.1.6 lakh crore and Rs.2.4 lakh crore respectively during 2015-16.
Total value of transaction with Pre-Paid instruments (PPIs) have increased from Rs.48,800 crore in 2015-16 to Rs.83,800 crore in 2016-17.  Total volume of transactions through PPIs have increased from about 75 crore to 196 crore," he said.
Mr. Jaitley said that, during 2016-17, National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) handled 160 crore transactions valued at Rs.120 lakh crore, up from around 130 crore transactions for Rs. 83 lakh crore in the previous year.
"With higher level of formalisation, it has brought out related benefits to workers who were denied of social security benefits in the form of EPF contribution, subscription to ESIC facilities and payments of wages in their bank accounts.  Large increase in opening of bank accounts for workers, enrolment in EPF and ESIC are added benefits of demonetisation.  More than 1 crore workers were added to EPF and ESIC system post-demonetisation which was almost 30% of existing beneficiaries.  Bank accounts were opened for about 50 lakh workers to get their wages credited in their accounts.  Necessary amendment in Payment of Wages Act was done to facilitate this," he said.
Mr. Jaitley said the reduction in incidents of stone pelting and protests in Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite activities in Left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected districts were also attributed to the impact of demonetisation as these miscreants had run out of cash.  
"Their access to Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) was also restricted.  During 2016-17, the detection of FICN for Rs.1000 denomination increased from 1.43 lakh pieces to 2.56 lakh pieces.  At the Reserve Bank’s currency verification and processing system, during 2015-16, there were 2.4 pieces of FICNs of Rs. 500 denomination and 5.8 pieces of FICNs of Rs. 1000 denomination for every million pieces notes processed; which rose to 5.5 pieces and 12.4 pieces, respectively, during the post-demonetisation period.  This shows almost doubling of such detection.
"In an overall analysis, it would not be wrong to say that country has moved on to a much cleaner, transparent and honest financial system.  Benefits of these may not yet be visible to some people.  The next generation will view post November, 2016 national economic development with a great sense of pride as it has provided them a fair and honest system to live in," he added.

World Bank to provide $ 119 million for Odisha Higher Education Programme

India and the World Bank today signed a financing agreement for IBRD loan of $ 119 million (equivalent) for the Odisha Higher Education Programme for Excellence & Equity (OHEPEE) Project was signed with the World Bank here today.
The agreement was signed by Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare (Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs) on behalf of Government of India and Mr. Hisham A. Abdo Kahin, Acting Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank. 
A project agreement was also signed by Mr. G.V.V. Sarma, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Government of Odisha and Mr. Kahin, an official press release said.
The release said the objective of the project was to improve the quality of students’ equitable access to selected institutions and enhance governance of the higher education system in Odisha.
The closing date for the project is 30th November, 2022, the release added.

Direct tax collections up 15.2% at Rs. 4.39 lakh crore up to October 2017

The Government today said that direct tax collections up to October in financial year 2017-18 were up 15.2 percent at Rs. 4.39 lakh crore as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.
An official press release said net direct tax collections represented 44.8% of the total Budget Estimates of Direct Taxes for FY 2017-18 (Rs. 9.8 lakh crore). 
Gross collections (before adjusting for refunds) have increased by 10.7% to Rs. 5.28 lakh crore during April-October, 2017. Refunds amounting to Rs. 89,507 crore have been issued during April-October, 2017, the release added.

Delegation from Pacific Pension and Investment Institute calls on Modi

A delegation from the Pacific Pension and Investment (PPI) Institute, led by its President, Mr. Lionel C. Johnson, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi here yesterday.
An official press release said the delegation members praised the pace of economic reforms in India, and emphasized the growth potential that exists in the country. 
Various aspects of the economy such as foreign direct investment (FDI) and Goods and Service Tax (FDI) came up for discussion, it said.
Mr. Modi highlighted various possibilities for investment in India. He spoke of the recent reforms and steps taken for ease of doing business. He said the rising aspirations of India's people, along with robust economic fundamentals, represent a significant opportunity for investment. He emphasized the potential of investment in the renewable energy and organic farming sectors. 
He appreciated the fact that the PPI Institute holds the funds that it is investing as a trustee, and added that this concept of trusteeship is well understood in India, and was even articulated by Mahatma Gandhi. 

Conference of States Power Ministers to be held in Rajgir on November 10-11

A two-day conference of Ministers for Power and New & Renewable Energy of States & Union Territories will be held in Rajgir, Bihar, on November 10-11.
The conference will be inaugurated by Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy Raj Kumar Singh, an official press release said here today.
The release said the conference would review the implementation of various ongoing schemes/programmes and deliberate on a host of issues pertaining to Power and Renewable Energy sectors.
Ministers and Secretaries of the States and Union territories and senior officials of the two sectors and public sector undertakings under them will meet to discuss various issues. These include Saubhagya (Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana) for achieving 100% household electrification by December 2018; DDUGJY for completion of feeder separation; system strengthening projects; Prepaid/Smart Meters;          expediting IPDS works in Urban areas and reduction of AT&C losses to less than 10%; Promotion of Digital Payments; Strategy towards 24x7 Power for All.
The reforms include compliance of RPO targets and REC mechanism by the States/UTs. RPO trajectory for the year 2022 and incentives to DISCOMs for achievements of these RPO targets; Mandating Cross Subsidy Charges within the specified limit prescribed in Tariff Policy; ISTS: Transmission charges; PPAs: Signing and honouring.
In the thermal sector, Ash Management System: Launch of Mobile Application will be taken up. In hydropower sector, operating hydropower projects at designed maximum peaking capacity will be taken up along with a discussion on Infrastructure Funding of Hydro Power Projects.
The Right of Way (RoW) issues in Transmission Projects will be taken up. In Energy Conservation,  potential opportunities and action plan for making Buildings Energy Efficient: Review of progress of adoption of Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) by States; Demand Side Management through use of energy efficient appliances and Promoting E-Mobility (Electrical vehicles) in India: Standards, Charging Infrastructure and Market Transformation will be covered.
Renewable Energy Sources will cover issues including Scheduling & Forecasting for Renewable Energy Integration. A review of Implementation of Solar programme challenges being faced in implementation of Solar Rooftop programme and presentation on new Decentralized ground mounted Grid-connected solar energy/KUSUM Programme will be taken up.
RE-INVEST 2017 will have a review of Wind Power, SHP and Biomass programme along with LWE Districts. The concluding session of the conference would have comments and feedback by States/UTs and adoption of Conference Resolution by the delegates.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 59.61/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 $ 59.61 per barrel (bbl) on November 3 from $ 59.07 per bbl on the previous day.
An official press release said the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3849.43 per bbl on 03.11.2017 as compared to Rs. 3815.80 per bbl on 02.11.2017. 
The rupee closed stronger at Rs. 64.58 per US$ on 03.11.2017 as compared to 64.59 per US$ on 02.11.2017, the release added.
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