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Business & Economy

2.24 lakh companies struck off for remaining inactive for two years or more: Govt.

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The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) today said that, based on a massive drive undertaken by it, around 2.24 lakh companies have been struck off till date for remaining inactive for a period of two years or more.
 
An official press release said that, following this action, restricts had been imposed on operation of their bank accounts in accordance with the law.
 
The release said that preliminary enquiry, on the basis of information received from 56 banks in respect of 35,000 companies involving 58,000 accounts, had revealed that an amount of Rs. 17,000 crore was deposited and withdrawn in the period after the November 8, 2016 demonetisation of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 bank notes.
 
In one case, a company which had a negative balance on November 8, 2016 deposited and withdrew Rs. 2,484 crore post-demonetisation, it said.
 
Apart from the restrictions on bank accounts, action has also been taken to restrict sale and transfer of moveable and immoveable properties of struck-off companies until they are restored. The State Governments have been advised to take necessary action in this regard by disallowing registration of such transactions, the release said.
 
One company was found to have as many as 2,134 accounts. The information with respect to such companies has been shared with enforcement authorities, including Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Department of Financial Services (DFS) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI), for further necessary action. Companies have also been identified for inquiry, inspection investigation under the Companies Act, 2013 and necessary action is underway, it said.
 
The release said that the Prime Minister's Office had constituted a Special Task Force (STF) under the Joint Chairmanship of Revenue Secretary and Secretary, Corporate Affairs, to oversee the drive against such defaulting companies with the help of various enforcement agencies. The Special Task Force has so far met five times and action has been initiated against several defaulting companies, which is expected to help in the drive against black money.
 
Separately, action has also been taken to disqualify Directors on the Board of Companies that have failed to file Financial Statements and/or Annual Returns for a continuous period of three financial years during 2013-14 to 2015-16. Around 3.09 lakh directors have been affected by this action. Preliminary enquiry has shown that over 3,000 disqualified directors are directors in more than 20 companies each, which is beyond the limit prescribed under the law.
 
Further, in the light of the evidence with respect to abuse of the corporate structure through multi-layering, not more than two layers are now permitted beyond the wholly-owned subsidiary. This is in addition to the existing restriction which prohibits a company to make investment through more than two layers of investment companies.
 
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In order to address the criminality angle, the Director, Additional Director or Assistant Director of SFIO have been recently authorized to arrest any person believed to be guilty of any fraud punishable under the Act. Under Section 447 of the Act, which defines fraud, stringent punishment including imprisonment up to 10 years is stipulated. Further, reference has been made to the Ministry of Finance to include it as a Scheduled Offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
 
 Action is also being initiated against professionals guilty of fraud and all complaints against them are being reviewed. A High Level Committee (HLC) has been constituted for suggesting revamp of the disciplinary systems of Chartered Accountants, Company Secretaries and Cost Accountants. Further, steps are underway for setting up National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), an independent body, to test check financial statements, prescribe accounting standards and take disciplinary action against errant professionals.
 
With a view to checking the problem of dummy directors, action is underway to seed DIN with PAN and Aadhaar at the stage of DIN application through biometric matching for new applications. The same may be extended to legacy data in due course.
 
Finally, a separate initiative is under way to develop a state-of-the-art software application to put in place an 'early warning system' (EWS), which will be housed in SFIO. The objective is to strengthen the regulatory mechanism, the release added.
 
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Financial assistance of Rs 2,302.05 crore for projects under Coastal Berth Scheme of Sagarmala

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The Ministry of Shipping has taken up projects worth Rs 2,302 crore for financial assistance under the Coastal Berth Scheme of the flagship Sagarmala Programme.
 
The Ministry, after due appraisal in consultation with NITI Aayog and Department of Expenditure, has extended the period of the scheme for three years, up to March 31, 2020 and expanded its scope to cover capital dredging at Major Ports and preparation of detailed project report (DPR) for coastal berth project, in October this year.
 
The projects under Coastal Berth Scheme of the flagship Sagarmala Programme are distributed over eight states with the highest number of projects in Maharashtra (12 projects), Andhra Pradesh & Goa (10 projects), Karnataka (6 projects), Kerala and Tamil Nadu (3 projects), Gujarat (2 projects) and West Bengal (1 project).
 
Out of the 47 projects, 23 projects worth Rs 1075.61 crore have been sanctioned for total financial assistance of Rs 390.42 crore and Rs 230.01 crore has been released to Major Ports, State Maritime Boards and State Governments. The remaining 24 projects are under various stages of development and process of approval.
 
The most recent beneficiaries of the scheme were Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Karnataka Government respectively for developing coastal infrastructure at Jawahar Lal Nehru Port, Karwar Port and Old Manglore Port.
 
A sum of Rs 25 crore was sanctioned for construction of coastal berth (270m x 30m) at JNPT. Karnataka government sanctioned Rs 114.4 crore for extension of the existing Southern breakwater by 145 metres, construction of a new North breakwater of 1160 metres, construction of coastal berths at Karwar port and construction of coastal berth an capital dredging at Old Manglore port .
 
The Coastal Berth Scheme aims to provide financial support to ports or state governments for creation of infrastructure for movement of cargo and passenger by sea or national waterways.
 
The admissible financial assistance from Central Government is 50% of the total cost of the project subject to: (i) a maximum of Rs 25 crore for projects relating to construction/up-gradation of coastal berths by Major/Non-Major Ports, (ii) a maximum of Rs 10 crore for construction of platforms/jetties for hovercrafts & seaplanes by Ports/State Governments & passenger jetties in National Waterways and islands by State Governments, (iii) a maximum of Rs 15 crore for mechanization of berths by Major/Non-Major Ports (iv) a maximum of Rs 50 crore for capital dredging of Major Ports/operational Non-Major Ports ; and (v) a maximum of Rs 50 crore for construction of breakwater for existing and Greenfield Ports.
 
The financial assistance will also be provided for the preparation of DPR for the projects to be considered under this scheme. The construction of passenger jetties also includes construction of the terminal building and allied infrastructure. The balance expenditure has to be incurred by the respective Ports/ concerned State Governments (including State Maritime Boards) from their own resources.
 
Once completed, the projects will help to promote coastal shipping and increase its share in domestic cargo movement in India. Better infrastructure for coastal shipping will decongest rail and road network besides ensuring cost competitive and effective multi-modal transportation solution. The country has high potential to use coastal shipping for its internal cargo movement given its 7500 km-long coastlines.
 
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Paytm launches Inbox, a messaging platform with in-chat payments

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Mobile payments platform Paytm has launched "Inbox", a messaging service that will allow consumers to chat with friends and family, and send and request money at the same time.
 
"The messaging platform is encrypted end-to-end, and users can initiate private conversations and create group chats. They can also send photos and videos instantly, share live location, capture and share moments with the built-in camera," a press release from Paytm said.
 
There is also a feature allowing users to recall their messages using "Delete for All". Paytm Inbox is live on Android and will be available to iOS users soon, the release said.
 
Apart from the messaging service, Paytm Inbox also includes Notifications, Orders, and Games. Under Notifications, users can see all cashback offers available across all categories; under Orders, they can view their order and transaction updates; and Games will have cricket and trivia-based games.
 
"Paytm Inbox will further revolutionize the mobile payment ecosystem in the country by allowing millions of users to send and receive money through a simple chat interface. It will also give a boost to millions of merchants such as local retail stores and home-based entrepreneurs as they can now interact with their customers and initiate payments through the Paytm ecosystem," the release said.
 
Deepak Abbot, Sr. Vice President – Paytm said, “We have realized that besides making payments, our users and merchants also like to communicate with each other. There is a need of social messaging, commerce and payments seamlessly blending into one another. One step for us towards meeting this consumer need is Paytm Inbox where you can chat with friends/ merchants and send/ receive money effortlessly and securely. This will help us drive greater engagement on our platform and build a stronger bond with our customers.”
 
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Naidu to inaugurate Urban Transport Challenges & Solutions Conference in Hyderabad on Saturday

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Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu will inaugurate the ‘Urban Mobility India Conference and Expo’, which is aimed at  promoting dissemination of information and exchange of ideas on urban transport and mobility issues and the best practices being followed in the cities across the world, here tomorrow.
 
Telengana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao and Union Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri will also address the inaugural session, setting the tone for deliberations over the next three days.
 
Hyderabad was decided as the venue for the tenth UMI Conference and Expo by Mr Naidu last year when he was the Union Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. Hyderabad is hosting this conference for the first time since UMI Conference was introduced in 2008.
 
The conference is being organized jointly by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Telangana government and CODATU, a French Transport Institute.
 
Initiatives and experiences in respect of various aspects of urban transport of 86 cities including 36 foreign cities will be presented as case studies for detailed discussion at the conference.
 
Case studies of foreign cities to be discussed include Boudeau and Lyan (France), Lausanne (Switzerland), Lisbon (Portugal), Gaudalajara (Mexico), Curitiba (Barzil), Bangkok (Thailand), Santiago (Chile), Constantine (Algeria), Cape Town (South Africa), Rabat (Morocco) and Dhaka (Bangladesh).
 
Indian city case studies to be presented and discussed include three relating to Hyderabad on Road Safety Aspects, Transit Oriented Development and Introduction of Tram Services besides Parking Policy, Planning and Implementation in Vijayawada, initiatives and experiences of Mysuru, Bengaluru, Chennai, Trivendrum, Varanasi, Lucknow, transport planning for Maha Kumbh Mela to be held in Allahabad in 2019, Indore, Bhopal, Amritsar, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata, and so on.
 
A total of 60 Plenary, Special and Technical Sessions will be held over the next three days for a detailed discussion on Intelligent Transport Solutions, Inclusive Urban  Transport and Sustainable Urban Transport Planning.
 
The highlight of the Hyderabad Conference is two Special Sessions for Mayors and Municipal Councillors from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Inclusive and Sustainable Mobility and Intelligent Mobility.
 
Intelligent Transport Solutions (ITS) are advanced ICT based applications for enhancing the efficiency of use of different modes of transport in cities through better coordination and by informing the users to make safe, quick and smarter use of transport networks. ITS are used for effective management of traffic and mobility.
 
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Inclusive Urban Transport Planning seeks to ensure the right of access to public spaces and particularly, to public transport systems for all. In the present scenario, road spaces in Indian cities are being used more by the vehicle owning sections at the cost of the poor and the marginalized.
 
Sustainable Urban Transport and Mobility aims at integrating environmental concerns with transport planning so that urban residents are not deprived of quality air.
 
UMI Conferences are organized to further the objectives of the National Urban Transport Policy which lays stress on ‘moving the people rather than the cars’.
 
 The Hyderabad Conference will deliberate on various components of the chain of urban transport from conceptualization of urban transport projects, design, financing and execution.
 
The broad themes to be discussed include; Mobility for All, Multi-modal Integration, Inclusive Planning, New Paradigms of Mobility, Smart Cities and Mobility, Electric Mobility, Shared Mobility, Linking Urban Transport and Environment, Informal Transport Systems.
 
It will also take up issues including Using Urban Transport Planning as an Opportunity, Efficient and Sustainable City Bus Service Systems, t Financial Planning for Urban Transport Projects, Land Value Capture and Transit Oriented Development and Metro Rail Policy.
 
Nine leading transport technology and service providers will display the latest technologies for the benefit of city and State Governments.
 
The conclusions and recommendations of the Hyderabad Conference will be presented by Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary (Housing & Urban Affairs) during the valedictory session on November 6.
 
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Hallmarking for gold jewellery to be brought under new BIS Act 2016

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Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan today said hallmarking regulations for gold jewellery would soon be brought under the new Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act, 2016.
 
The Minister said the revision of the standards on gold jewellery would be placed in three categories, that is 14, 18 and 22 Karats/Carats under hallmarking. Inaugurating the seminar on “Standards Make Cities Smarter” Mr Paswan laid special emphasis on consumer protection that would get enhanced through new Consumer Protection and the BIS Act.
 
The seminar is organized by Bureau of Indian Standard on the occasion of 48th World Standards Day. Mr Paswan released a pre-standardization report regarding Unified, Secure & Resilient ICT Backbone for Smart Cities.
 
Building a smart city is a highly complex task with its own challenges and standards are the only common denominator that can simplify this task. National Standards make the smart cities work safely and smoothly. Besides, it provides important guidance for all aspects of city life, including energy-efficient buildings, intelligent transportation, and improved waste management, thereby builds sustainable communities, he added.
 
Mr C R Chaudhary, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution emphasised the importance of standards for international cooperation. Standards provide practical tools for tackling many of today’s global challenges, ranging from managing resources to improving the safety and quality of the life.
 
He expressed appreciation for the active involvement of BIS in regional standardization work for developing common standards to facilitate trade.
 
Earlier, Mr Avinash K Shrivastava, Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, in his keynote address stressed on the changing scenario and the role Bureau of Indian Standards is playing in the national and international arena.
 
The theme for this year’s World Standards Day “Standards Make Cities Smarter” was chosen collectively by International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
 
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Modi interacts with global CEOs from the food processing sector

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today interacted with CEOs representing the top companies engaged in the food processing and related sectors across the world as part of the three-day World Food India 2017 which he inaugurated earlier in the day.
 
Leading CEOs and officials from Amazon (India), Amway, Britannia Industries, Cargill Asia Pacific, Coca-Cola India, Danfoss, Future Group, GlaxoSmithKline, Ise Foods, ITC, Kikkoman, LuLu Group, McCain, Metro Cash & Carry, Mondelez International, Nestle, OSI Group, PepsiCo India, Sealed Air, Sharaf Group, Spar International, The Hain Celestial Group, The Hershey Company, Trent Ltd, and Walmart India were present at the meeting, an official press release said.
 
Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and senior officials were present on the occasion.
 
The release said various CEOs complimented the Prime Minister on the improvement in India’s rank in the recent World Bank Doing Business Report. Many CEOs said that they were inspired by his vision of doubling farm incomes, and the pace and progress of economic reforms over the last three years under his leadership. They especially appreciated the structural reforms and bold initiatives such as Goods and Service Tax (GST) and the liberalization of the foreign direct investment (FDI) regime.
 
The participants stressed that the food processing sector is vital for raising farm productivity, food and nutrition security, creating jobs, and adding value to agricultural produce. The CEOs presented an overview of their engagement and initiatives for inclusive growth in India’s food processing, agriculture, logistics, and retail sectors. They showed keen interest in opportunities that exist, for strengthening the post-harvest infrastructure. They reaffirmed their commitment to be a part of India’s growth story, the release said.
 
Thanking the CEOs for sharing their views, the Prime Minister said that their observations indicate tremendous enthusiasm about India.  He  appreciated the suggestions made by them.
 
Mr. Modi welcomed the measures being taken by the participants in raising agricultural productivity and farmers’ incomes. In particular, he said that India's rising middle class, and the policy-driven initiatives of the Government, are opening up several win-win opportunities for all stakeholders in the food processing ecosystem. He underlined the Union Government's resolve to reduce input costs for the farmer, and eliminate losses due to wastage of farm produce. He invited the global CEOs for a deeper and more productive engagement with India.
 
Earlier, Ms. Badal spoke briefly about Government policies to promote investments in the food processing sector.
 
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India’s forex reserves dip by $ 1.159 billion to $ 398.761 billion

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Maintaining a downward trend for the second consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 1.159 billion to $ 398.761 billion during the week ended October 27, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had fallen by $ 375.8 million to $ 399.921 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone down by $ 1.135 billion to $373.772 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 $ 21.240 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) decreased by $ 9.6 million to $ 1.490 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fell by $ 14.4 million to $ 2.258 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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Modi opens World Food India, pitches for FDI in food processing sector

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday made a strong pitch for investment in India, especially in the food processing sector, saying that, with the Government undertaking a range of transformational initiatives, the country had become the most preferred investment destination in this area.

 
Indian food can help world discover health benefits: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made a strong pitch for investment in India, especially in the food processing sector, saying that, with the Government undertaking a range of transformational initiatives, the country had become the most preferred investment destination in this area.
 
Addressing the World Food India 2017 international conference, the Prime Minister said India has jumped 30 ranks this year in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings. This is the highest ever improvement for India, and the highest jump for any country this year. “From a rank of 142 in 2014, we have now reached the top 100,” he added.
 
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has eliminated the multiplicity of taxes. The country was also rapidly progressing on the Global Innovation Index, Global Logistics Index and Global Competitiveness Index, he said.
 
“Starting a new business in India is now easier than ever before. Procedures for obtaining clearances from various agencies have been simplified. Archaic laws have been repealed, and the burden of compliances has been reduced,” Mr Modi said.
 
Turning to food processing, he said it is a priority sector in the “Make in India” programme. While 100% FDI is now permitted for trading, including through e-commerce, of food products manufactured or produced in India, a single-window facilitation cell provides handholding for foreign investors.
 
There are attractive fiscal incentives from the Union and State Governments. Loans to food and agro-based processing units, and cold chains, are classified under priority sector lending, making them easier and cheaper to obtain, he pointed out.
 
“The unique portal – Nivesh Bandhu – or 'investor's friend' – that we have just launched, brings together information on central and state government policies, and incentives provided for the food-processing sector. It maps resources up to the local level, with processing requirements. It is also a platform for business networking, for farmers, processors, traders, and logistics operators,” Mr Modi said.
 
While private sector participation has been increasing in many segments, more investment is required in contract farming, raw material sourcing and creating agri-linkages. Many international companies in India have taken a lead in contract farming initiatives. This is a clear opportunity for global super-market chains considering India as a major outsourcing hub, he said.
 
“On the one hand, there are opportunities in post-harvest management, like primary processing and storage, preservation infrastructure, cold chain, and refrigerated transportation. On the other hand, there is immense potential for food processing and value addition, especially in niche areas such as organic and fortified foods,” he said.
 
“Increasing urbanization, and a growing middle class, are resulting in an ever-growing demand for wholesome, processed food. Let me share just one statistic. Over a million passengers have a meal on a train in India, every single day. Each one of them, is a potential customer for the food processing industry. Such is the scale of opportunity that is waiting to be tapped,” he added.
 
Lifestyle diseases are raising consciousness globally, about the nature and quality of food consumption. There is a growing aversion to the use of artificial colours, chemicals and preservatives. India can provide solutions, and offer a win-win partnership, he said.
 
The combination of traditional Indian food, with modern technology, processing and packaging, can help the world rediscover the health benefits, and refreshing taste of Indian food ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, and tulsi, to name just a few. The perfect blend of hygienic, nutritious and tasty processed food, with the added benefits of preventive healthcare, can be produced economically, here in India, the Prime Minister said.
 
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been engaged in ensuring that processed food made in India matches global quality standards. The harmonization of the food additives standards with Codex, and the building of robust testing and laboratory infrastructure, will go a long way in creating an enabling environment for food businesses, he added.
 
The Prime Minister said, “The farmers, whom we respectfully call our Annadaata or the providers of food, are central to our efforts in food processing. We have a stated target of doubling farm incomes within five years. Recently, we launched a national level programme, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana, to create world-class food processing infrastructure. This is expected to leverage investment of five billion US dollars, benefit two million farmers and generate more than half a million jobs over the next three years.
 
“The creation of Mega Food Parks is a key component of this scheme. Through these food parks, we aim to link agro-processing clusters with key production centres. This will offer immense value proposition in crops such as potato, pineapple, oranges and apples. Farmer groups are being encouraged to set up units in these parks, thereby reducing wastage and transportation costs, and creating new jobs. Nine such parks are already operational, and more than thirty others are in the process of coming up across the country,” he said.
 
“To improve last mile delivery, we are improving governance, by increasing access to digital technology. We plan to link our villages through broadband connectivity, within a clear timeframe. We are digitising land records, and providing various services to the people on mobile platforms. These steps are building momentum towards real-time transfer of information, knowledge and skills to farmers. The e-NAM, our national agricultural e-Market, is connecting our agricultural markets nationwide, thereby giving our farmers the benefit of competitive pricing, and freedom of choice,” he added.
 
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“In the true spirit of cooperative and competitive federalism, our State Governments have also aligned with the efforts of the Union Government to simplify processes and procedures. Many States have come up with attractive food processing policies to attract investment. I urge each State of India to identify at least one food product for specialisation.  Similarly, each district can also select some food items for production, and one item for specialisation,” he pointed out.
 
The three-day event, a congregation of global investors and business leaders of major food companies, has been organized by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. It is aimed at establishing India as a preferred investment destination and sourcing hub for the global food processing industry.
 
This is the first time that India is hosting such an event in the food processing sector and the Government is hoping that it will strengthen the country's position as a global food factory.
 
An official press release said India is expected to attract an investment of $ 10 billion in food processing sector and generate one million jobs in the next three years. 
 
WFI 2017 is expected to host more than 2000 participants and more than 200 companies from 30 countries. There will be 18 ministerial and business delegations, nearly 50 global CEOs and CEOs of leading domestic food processing companies, and representatives of 28 states in India.
 
Germany, Japan and Denmark are Partner Countries to World Food India. Italy and the Netherlands are the Focus Countries. 
 
One of the attractions at the event is an experiential platform "Food Street", specially curated by well-known chef Sanjeev Kapoor. It will showcase Indian and foreign cuisines, using Indian ingredients, flavours and fragrances to celebrate India's rich cultural heritage, the diverse uniqueness of its produce to create contemporary renditions and fusion food. 
  
Exclusive CEOs roundtables have also been scheduled with Mr. Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu during WFI.
 
Some of the industry captains scheduled to attend the event include Mr Paul Bulcke , Chairman of the Board of Directors, Nestle; Mr Pieter Boone, Chief Operating Officer & CEO, Metro Cash and Carry; Mr Brian J McNamara, CEO, GSK Consumer Healthcare; Ms. Amanda Sourry, President, Food Unilever; Mr.Sharafuddin Sharaf, Al – Sharaf Group; Mr.Yusuff Ali, Managing Director, LuLu Group; Mr Kishore Biyani, CEO, Future Group; Mr Krish Iyer, CEO, Walmart India; and Mr Amit Agrawal, CEO, Amazon India.
 
More than 1000 B2B meetings are expected to take place over the three days at WFI 2017.
 
There will be eight sectoral conferences and two plenary sessions on "India the preferred destination” with Mr. Jaitley as the Guest of Honour and one on “One Nation, one food law- an enabling regulatory environment for investment in the food sector” in association with the Food Standards and Safety Authority of India. In addition, there will be 20 State sessions and 6 country sessions. Seven sectoral publications would be released at the event.
 
A massive exhibition spread over 40,000 sq mtrs in the verdant C- Hexagon lawns of India Gate is expected to attract significant footfalls. More than 800 global companies representing 22 countries and domestic companies will exhibit their products and services at the exhibition.
 
Ministry of Food Processing Industries’ Theme Pavilion will provide an exciting view of India’s offering to the world in terms of products, a geo mapping of produce availability and mega food parks. The event is supported by Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Development of North East Region, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation.
 
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HCC-Al Fara'a JV awarded Rs. 497 crore contract for Pune Metro

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Infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company Ltd. (HCC), as a lead partner in the joint venture (JV) with Al Fara'a, has been awarded a Rs.  497.09 crore contract by the Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Ltd for the Pune Metro Rail Project. 
 
HCC’s share in the JV is 51% (Rs 253.5 crore). The project is to be completed in 110 weeks, a press release from the company said here today
 
The contract is for construction of nine elevated metro stations -- Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, Tukaram Nagar, Bhosari, Kasarwadi, Phugewadi, Dapoli, Bopodi, Khadki and Range Hill. The work involves general and structural civil works of the station buildings and architectural and site development, it said.
 
The total length of Pune Metro – Phase I is 32 km. It is divided between Line I of 16.59 km and Line II of 14.66 km. The Line I is partly elevated and partly underground starting from Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation to Swargate. All elevated stations on the Line I are being constructed by the HCC-Al Fara'a JV, the release said.
 
“We are honored to be a part of this prestigious project with MMRCL, which is the testimony to our proven execution excellence and capabilities across Mumbai Metro, Delhi Metro and Kolkata Metro. The project will bring relief to millions of commuters and will assist in easing the severe traffic congestion in the city,” said Mr. Arun Karambelkar, President & CEO - E&C, HCC Ltd.
 
HCC has been associated with six packages of Delhi Metro totaling 18.14 km of tunnels and 13 underground stations. In Kolkata Metro, HCC has constructed 6.47 km tunnels in six packages that include four underground stations. In Mumbai Metro I, the company has built eight elevated stations. 
 
Currently, HCC is executing a section of Mumbai Metro Line III, involving 3,115 m long twin bored tunnels including four underground stations and a section of Bangalore Metro Rail Project involving 6,340 m long elevated corridor including a road-cum-rail flyover and five metro stations, the release added.
 
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Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 59.07/bbl

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The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, fell to $ 59.07 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 60.00 per bbl on the previous day.
 
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs. 3815.80 per bbl on 02.11.2017 as compared to Rs. 3817.34 per bbl on 01.11.2017, an  official press release said.
 
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 64.59 per US$ on 02.11.2017 as compared to 64.53 per US$ on 01.11.2017, the release added.
 
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EESL launches $454 million project for ‘Creating and Sustaining Markets for Energy Efficiency’ in partnership with the GEF

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Recognizing India’s efforts towards a low emission-economy and focusing on energy efficiency programmes, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has now partnered with Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under Ministry of Power, for the project ‘Creating and Sustaining Markets for Energy Efficiency’.
 
The project will receive a composite funding of $ 454 million comprising the GEF grant of $20 million and co-financing of $ 434 million in the form of loans and equity, including a $ 200 million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
 
EESL further proposes Energy Efficiency Revolving Fund (EERF) for sustainable funding mechanism of energy efficiency projects in the country, an official press release said.
 
The EERF mechanism will support the ‘proof of concept’ investments for the new technologies of super-efficient ceiling fans, tri-generation technologies & smart grid-applications and ultimately scaling up energy efficiency financing and programme development to help cover initial investment costs of identified energy efficiency programmes like street lighting, domestic lighting, five-star rated ceiling fans and agricultural pumps, in the country, the release said.
 
"This unique model will help in addressing the upfront risks of new technologies. Further, the accrued savings from these technologies can then be used to finance additional projects, which would allow capital to revolve as a sustainable funding mechanism," it said.
 
The GEF project brings together many technical and financing partners including United Nations Environment (UN Environment), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) which aims to mitigate 60 million tonnes of CO2 eq (carbon dioxide equivalent), that will enable a total direct energy savings of 38.3 million GJ by 2022 and 137.5 million GJ by 2032. (1 GJ = 277.778 kWh)
 
Addressing the gathering here yesterday, Secretary, Power, Ajay Kumar Bhalla, said around two-thirds of total power generation capacity in India is based on fossil fuels. By 2030, India is committed to achieve 40% of the installed capacity based on clean energy sources. To achieve this target, it is imperative to create awareness in the citizens, especially among youth, to encourage energy efficiency measures like use of electric vehicles, energy efficient building codes etc., he added.
 
Mr Anil Kumar Jain, Additional Secretary Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, said the overall size of energy efficiency market in India is estimated to be $23 billion. Initiatives like these seek to tap that market by implementing an innovative business model that is scalable, flexible, embraces different and emerging technologies and has incentives for all stakeholders.
 
Ms Naoko Ishii, Chairperson and CEO, GEF said that with the strong leadership of EESL and the Government, the penetration of these clean energy technologies will help India leapfrog to a more sustainable future while helping reduce local and global emissions.
 
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Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of India Resident Mission of ADB, said that ADB will partner EESL to implement energy efficiency projects in India to facilitate sustainable growth by addressing climate change issues, boosting the economy and generating greater employment in the country.
 
Mr Geordie Codville of the UN Environment said that the project is aimed at scaling up energy efficiency efforts to achieve India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) goals and ultimately the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
 
EESL also has its sights set on district cooling systems which can reduce energy demand for cooling by up to 50%. EESL has partnered with UN Environment’s District Energy in Cities Initiative, which has already identified $600 million of projects across five cities in India.
 
GEF is an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector that addresses global environmental issues. The funding announcement was made at the launch of the GEF-6 fund which supports two projects – ‘Creating Markets for Energy Efficiency’ and ‘District Energy in Cities’.
 
Other dignitaries present on the occasion were Mr. Raj Pal, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Power, Shri Saurabh Kumar, MD, EESL and other senior officers of the Ministry and PSUs under it.
 
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Maximum age of joining National Pension System increased to 65 under NPS-Private Sector

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The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has increased the maximum age of joining the National Pension System (NPS) under NPS-Private Sector (All Citizen and Corporate Model) from the existing 60 years to 65 years of age.
 
Henceforth, any Indian citizen, resident or non-resident, between the age of 60- 65 years, could join NPS and continue up to the age of 70 years. With this increase of joining age, the subscribers who join NPS at the later stage of life will be able to avail of its benefits.
 
NPS provides a very robust platform to the subscriber to save for his/her old age income security. Due to the better healthcare facilities and increased fitness, along with the opportunities and avenues available in the private sector as well as in the capacity of self-employment, more and more people in their late 50s or 60s are now living an active life allowing them to be employed productively.
 
The subscriber joining NPS beyond the age of 60 years will have the same choice of the Pension Fund as well as the investment choice as is available under the NPS for existing subscribers.
 
Those joining NPS after the age of 60 years will have an option of normal exit after completion of 3 years in NPS. In this case, the subscriber will be required to utilize at least 40% of the corpus for the purchase of an annuity and the remaining amount can be withdrawn in lump-sum.
 
In case of such subscriber wants to exit from NPS before completion of 3 years in the NPS, he/she will be allowed to do so, but in such case, the subscriber will have to utilize at least 80% of the corpus for purchase of annuity and the remaining can be withdrawn in lump sum.
 
In case of unfortunate death of the subscriber during his stay in NPS, the entire corpus will be paid to the nominee of the subscriber.
 
The increase in joining age will provide the options to the subscribers who are at the fag-end of the employment and expecting lump-sum amount at the time of retirement, but willing to defer their retirement planning for future, to open the NPS account and contribute the lump-sum corpus to NPS for better fund management by Professional Fund Manager to fetch better returns and plan for the regular income after some time. The Annuity rates available in the older age fetch better annuities than that at the age of 60 or less age.
 
This initiative will allow a larger segment of the society particularly senior citizens to reap the benefits of NPS and plan for their regular income.
 
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Gadkari flags off steel cargo consignment from Vizag through coastal shipping route

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Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari yesterday digitally flagged off a consignment of 230,000 tonnes of steel cargo from Visakhapatnam port to Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Kochi through the coastal shipping route.
 
Speaking on the occasion here, the Minister said the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) was till now transporting its products to 22 stockyards through road and rail mode. Coastal transportation of these products will now help save 380 million tonne-km of rail transportation per annum and bring down logistics costs.
 
This is especially significant since RINL has doubled its production capacity to 6.3 million tonnes per annum, and to cater to the increased volumes it is important to economize on transportation costs to be globally competitive. He urged all other manufacturers to make use of coastal shipping for transporting goods as this can be a key enabler for reduction of logistics cost for domestic and EXIM trade of India.
 
The coastal movement has been on RINL’s radar for a long time because of its proximity to the ports and to ease the pressure from the over optimized road and rail systems.  
 
RINL recently finalised a one-year Multi-Modal Transportation contract covering end to end logistics from the plant at Visakhapatnam to its stockyards at Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Kochi, an official press release said.
 
The Rs 75 crore annual contract has been awarded to the consortium led by Shreyas Shipping & Logistics Ltd, Mumbai, a member of Transworld Group, Dubai. The contract involves taking delivery of material from the plant, shifting by road to Visakhapatnam or Gopalpur ports, shipping the material by sea to a port near the stockyard and finally delivering the material to RINL Stockyard.
 
The quantities expected to be transported are 90,000 T, 75,000 T and 60,000 T to Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Kochi stockyards, respectively.
 
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All four-wheel motor vehicles sold after December 1 to be fitted with FASTags

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The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has issued a Gazette Notification today according to which all four-wheel motor vehicles sold on or after December 1, 2017 will have FASTags fitted on them by the manufacturer of the vehicle or its authorized dealer to enable them to cruise through dedicated lanes without stopping at toll plazas on national highways.
 
In case of vehicles that are sold as drive-away chassis without wind screen, FASTag will have to be fitted by the vehicle owner before it is registered. 
 
Necessary amendments have been made to the relevant sections of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 in this regard, an official press release said.
 
The National Highways Authority  of India (NHAI) achieved a major milestone in electronic toll collection with one dedicated FASTag lane becoming operational at all toll plazas from September 1.
 
The FASTag is a RFID tag available both online and offline through banks and Common Service Centres. 
 
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Powergrid completes project extending grid connectivity to Leh-Ladakh region of J&K

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The public sector Power Grid Corporation of India Limited today said it had successfully completed and charged the 220 kV S/c  Leh - Khalsti Line section of 220 KV S/c Alusteng (Srinagar) - Leh Transmission line, along with 220/66 kV GIS sub-stations at Leh and Khalsti on October 31.
 
This is the first time in the country that any 220kV voltage level substation is built at such a high altitude of over 11500 feet, a press release from the company.
 
The release said this is a prestigious project of the Government of India for extending grid connectivity to the difficult geographical areas of Leh-Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir.
 
The foundation of this strategically important project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 12, 2014. The implementation of the Srinagar-Leh Transmission System has as been entrusted to Powergrid.
 
"Commissioning of these elements will facilitate delivery of power from the Nimmo Bazgo (3x15MW) Hydro-electric power stations in Leh/Ladhakh Region, with reliability," the release said.
 
The remaining sections of the project -- Khalsti-Kargil-Drass-Alusteng(Srinagar) section -- is under progress, which upon completion, will facilitate transfer of power to Ladakh region, directly from Northern Grid, in all seasons, with reliability, the release added.
 
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Modi to inaugurate World Food India 2017 on Friday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate World Food India (WFI) -- a three-day congregation of global investors and business leaders of major food companies -- here tomorrow.
 
Organized by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, WFI is aimed at establishing India as a preferred investment destination and sourcing hub for the global food processing industry.
 
This is the first time that India is hosting such an event in the food processing sector and the Government is hoping that it will strengthen the country's position as a global food factory.
 
An official press release said India is expected to attract an investment of $ 10 billion in food processing sector and generate one million jobs in the next three years. 
 
WFI 2017 is expected to host more than 2000 participants and more than 200 companies from 30 countries. There will be 18 ministerial and business delegations, nearly 50 global CEOs and CEOs of leading domestic food processing companies, and representatives of 28 states in India.
 
Germany, Japan and Denmark are Partner Countries to World Food India. Italy and the Netherlands are the Focus Countries. 
 
One of the attractions at the event is an experiential platform "Food Street", specially curated by well-known chef Sanjeev Kapoor. It will showcase Indian and foreign cuisines, using Indian ingredients, flavours and fragrances to celebrate India's rich cultural heritage, the diverse uniqueness of its produce to create contemporary renditions and fusion food. After the inauguration from Vigyan Bhavan, the Prime Minister will visit the Food Street at India Gate Lawns opposite National Stadium.
 
At the inaugural function, host Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti will be joined by the Chief Ministers of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. 
 
Exclusive CEOs roundtables have also been scheduled with Mr. Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu during WFI.
 
Some of the industry captains scheduled to attend the event include Mr Paul Bulcke , Chairman of the Board of Directors, Nestle; Mr Pieter Boone, Chief Operating Officer & CEO, Metro Cash and Carry; Mr Brian J McNamara, CEO, GSK Consumer Healthcare; Ms. Amanda Sourry, President, Food Unilever; Mr.Sharafuddin Sharaf, Al – Sharaf Group; Mr.Yusuff Ali, Managing Director, LuLu Group; Mr Kishore Biyani, CEO, Future Group; Mr Krish Iyer, CEO, Walmart India; and Mr Amit Agrawal, CEO, Amazon India.
 
More than 1000 B2B meetings are expected to take place over the three days at WFI 2017.
 
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There will be eight sectoral conferences and two plenary sessions on "India the preferred destination” with Mr. Jaitley as the Guest of Honour and one on “One Nation, one food law- an enabling regulatory environment for investment in the food sector” in association with the Food Standards and Safety Authority of India. In addition, there will be 20 State sessions and 6 country sessions. Seven sectoral publications would be released at the event.
 
A massive exhibition spread over 40,000 sq mtrs in the verdant C- Hexagon lawns of India Gate is expected to attract significant footfalls. More than 800 global companies representing 22 countries and domestic companies will exhibit their products and services at the exhibition.
 
Special focus on Farmer Producer Organizations & Women Entrepreneurs will connect them to corporates -- international and Indian -- increasing opportunities for sourcing and business.
 
Ministry of Food Processing Industries’ Theme Pavilion will provide an exciting view of India’s offering to the world in terms of products, a geo mapping of produce availability and mega food parks. The event is supported by Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Development of North East Region, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation.
 
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Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 60.00/bbl

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The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, rose to $ 60.00 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 59.03 per bbl on the previous day.
 
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3871.34 per bbl on 01.11.2017 as compared to Rs. 3823.41 per bbl on 31.10.2017, an official press release said.
 
The rupee closed stronger at Rs. 64.53 per US$ on 01.11.2017 as compared to 64.77 per US$ on 31.10.2017, the release added.
 
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SBI reduces home and auto loan interest rates by 5 bps

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State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, has reduced home loan and auto loan interest rates by 5 basis points.
 
A press release from the bank said it had reduced home loan rates from 8.35% to 8.30% per annum. Auto loans will now be offered at a starting interest rate of 8.70% per annum as compared to 8.75% earlier.
 
"With this reduction, SBI's offering in home loan is the lowest in the market. The new rates will be effective from November 1, 2017," the release said.
 
Mr. P. K. Gupta, Managing Director, Retail and Digital Banking, SBI said, “SBI has always been at the forefront in the passing the benefit to the customers. With this reduction in rates, we are offering lowest rates for most of our product offering in the retail loans. Lower rates along with wide distribution network and use of digital technology to enhance customer experience is a perfect package for any retail loan customer.”
 
The release said the effective interest rate for all eligible salaried customers will be 8.30% per annum for loans upto Rs. 30 lakh. Rates have been reduced by 5 bps in all the brackets. Over and above of 8.30% rate, an eligible home loan customer can also avail of an interest subsidy of Rs. 2.67 lakh under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana scheme.  
 
For car loan customer, the loan amount ranges from 8.70% per annum to 9.20% per annum compared to earlier range of 8.75% to 9.25% per annum. The exact rate depends on the amount of loan and the credit score of the individual, the release added.
 
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CCEA okays revised price of ethanol under EBP for public sector OMCs

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved the revision in the price of ethanol under Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme for supply to public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs). 
 
An official press release said the revised price of ethanol would be fixed at Rs.40.85 per litre under EBP and will be applicable for the coming sugar season 2017-18. GST and transportation charges will also be payable additionally. 
 
The revised price will be applicable during ethanol supply period from 1st December 2017 to 30th November, 2018, it said.
 
The approval will facilitate the continued policy of the Government in providing price stability and remunerative prices for ethanol suppliers. It will also help in reducing dependency on crude oil imports, saving in foreign exchange and benefits to the environment, the release said.
 
In order to augment the supply of ethanol, the Government in December, 2014, decided to administer the price of ethanol under EBP Programme. The Government fixed the delivered price of ethanol during ethanol supply year 2014-15 and 2015-16 in the range of Rs. 48.50 to Rs. 49.50 per litre including Central/State Government taxes and transportation charges. It improved significantly the supply of ethanol from 38 crore litres during ethanol supply year 2013-14 to 111 crore litres during 2015-16.
 
This price was re-examined for ethanol supply year 2016-17 in the context of firming of sugar prices and falling crude prices and consequent under-recoveries of OMCs. The ex-mill price was revised to Rs.39 per litre. Additionally, Central/State Government taxes and transportation charges were payable. It is estimated that for ethanol supply year 2016-17, about 65 crore litres of ethanol will be procured.
 
The EBP Programme was launched by the Government in 2003 which has been extended to the notified 21 States and 4 Union Territories to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels. This intervention also sought to reduce import dependency for energy requirements.
 
However, since 2006, OMCs were not able to receive offers for the required quantity of ethanol against the tenders floated by them due to various constraints like State specific issues, supplier related issues including pricing issues of ethanol.
 
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Govt. sets up Alternative Mechanism for consolidation of public sector banks

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The Government has constituted an Alternative Mechanism for consolidation of the public sector banks (PSBs) under the chairmanship of Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley. 
 
The other members of the Alternative Mechanism are Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, an official press release said.
 
The proposals received from banks for in-principle approval to formulate schemes of amalgamation will be placed before the Alternative Mechanism. A report on the proposals cleared by Alternative Mechanism will be sent to the Cabinet every three months, it said.
 
"Alternative Mechanism may also direct banks to examine proposals for amalgamation. Alternative Mechanism will receive inputs from Reserve Bank of India (RBI) before according in-principle approval," it said.
 
"Alternative Mechanism shall devise its own procedure for appraisal of amalgamation proposals by banks, and be guided overall by the objectives of the Nationalisation Acts {Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Acts, 1970 and 1980}.
 
"The Final Schemes formulated will be approved by the Central Government, and laid in both the Houses of Parliament," the release said.
 
Alternative Mechanism will be serviced by the Department of Financial Services for this purpose, it added.
 
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Nikkei India PMI falls to 50.3 in October, pointing to stagnation of business conditions

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The Nikkei India Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 50.3 in October, from 51.2 in the previous month, indicating a broad stagnation in the health of the manufacturing sector.
 
A press release from Nikkei said that, at the sector level, improvements in consumer goods negated deteriorations in investment and intermediate goods.
 
"Growth in India’s manufacturing sector lost momentum in October. Output rose only fractionally and new orders stagnated over the month. In response to subdued demand conditions, both purchasing activity and pre-production inventories decreased. Encouragingly, firms added to their payroll numbers at a similar pace to September’s 59-month high in response to greater volumes of outstanding business," it said.
 
The PMI is a seasonally adjusted composite single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance in the country. It is based on data compiled from monthly replies to questionnaires sent to purchasing executives in over 400 industrial companies. An index reading above 50 indicates an overall increase in that variable, below 50 an overall decrease.
 
The release said that, on the price front, input cost pressures rose to the fastest since May. Subsequently, firms reportedly raised their output prices to pass on greater cost burdens to clients and to protect profit margins. Meanwhile, the level of business confidence eased to the weakest since February.
 
According to it, the downward movement in the headline index was partly driven by a stagnation in new business. Panellists linked subdued demand conditions to negative impacts of the Goods and Service Tax (GST), which was introduced on July 1, 2017.
 
Meanwhile, new export orders for Indian goods reduced in October. Moreover, the rate of contraction was the fastest since September 2013.
 
"Output growth eased to a fractional pace, and one that was the slowest in the current three-month period of rising production. Where an increase in output was registered, firms associated this with stronger demand. Where a decrease in output was observed, firms blamed the negative effects of GST," it said.
 
The release said employment increased for the third consecutive month in October. The rate of payroll growth was modest and broadly  unchanged from September’s recent high. Firms associated a rise in employment with greater outstanding business.
 
"On the price front, manufacturing companies continued to face higher input costs, which rose at the fastest pace since May. Firms raised their output charges to pass on higher cost burdens to clients. That said, their ability to fully pass on higher input costs was restricted due to competitive conditions. Reflecting subdued demand conditions, firms were discouraged from engaging in input buying. Purchasing activity fell for the first time in three months, albeit marginally. Meanwhile, pre-production stocks reduced in October," it said.
 
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"Delivery times lengthened for the seventh month running. That said, the rate of deterioration in vendor performance was only marginal. A lack of raw materials disrupted supply chains across the manufacturing sector, according to anecdotal evidence. Finally, the level of positive sentiment among manufacturers towards output growth eased to the weakest since February. Optimism was rooted in projected benefits of GST materialising over the next 12 months. However, some firms expressed concerns over negative GST effects," it said.
 
“India’s manufacturing companies struggled somewhat as the recent recovery enjoyed by the sector lost impetus in October. Disappointingly, manufacturing production rose at the weakest pace in the current sequence of growth. Inflows of new orders stagnated as the negative effects arising from the implementation of GST continued to dampen demand levels. Furthermore, overseas demand for Indian goods dipped to the greatest extent since September 2013," Ms. Aashna Dodhia, Economist at IHS Markit and author of the report, said.
 
“On the bright side, the labour market continued to improve, with manufacturers further increasing their staffing levels, and at a pace similar to September’s 59-month high. Business confidence eased to the weakest since February as some firms expressed concerns over negative GST effects. However, those manufacturers that were optimistic forecasted benefits of GST materialising over the next 12 months," she added.
 
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Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 59.03/bbl

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The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, rose to $ 59.03 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 58.92 per bbl on the previous day.
 
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs. 3823.41 per bbl on 31.10.2017 as compared to Rs. 3826.21 per bbl on 30.10.2017, an official press release said.
 
The rupee closed stronger at Rs. 64.77 per US$ on 31.10.2017 as compared to 64.93 per US$ on 30.10.2017, it added.
 
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Goyal holds discussion on rail safety with Japanese delegation

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Stressing the need for "total safety management", Railways Minister Piyush Goel today chaired a round-table discussion on “Cooperation for Safety in Rail Operations” with a Japanese delegation.
 
The visitors, on their part, assured full cooperation in this area based on the expertise available in Japanese Railways and industry, an official press release said.
 
The Japanese Railways is one of the oldest rail systems in the world. The country is also a pioneer in the high-speed rail ‘Shinkansen’. Japanese Railways has an impeccable record with safety.
 
India’s Railways Ministry had requested Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) for technical cooperation in rail safety.
 
Responding to the Railways Ministry’s request, MLIT had deputed a team of Japanese Railway experts to India to assess incidents of rail breakage and suggest measures to improve safety in train operations. The memorandum of cooperation (MoC) on railway safety was signed on February 17, 2017, between the Railways Ministry and MLIT, Japan.
 
The MoC envisages cooperation in rail safety in areas such as maintenance of track (welding, rail inspection, track circuit etc.) and rolling stock maintenance. Capacity development has been taken up as a Technical Cooperation project under the MoC to develop Indian Railways’ capacity in respect of the identified areas. These areas have been incorporated in the terms of reference of cooperation.
 
A mission from Japan comprising representatives of Japan’s MLIT, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and railway operators are at present on a visit to India from October 30 to November 2.
 
Mr Goyal, along with Railway Board chairman and other Board members has met with the Japanese delegation comprising members of ToR mission and members from the rail-related industries.  The Japanese delegation was headed by its Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu.
 
While the Minister stated that the Railways were striving for ‘zero accident regime,’ Mr Hiramatsu assured full cooperation based on the expertise available in Japanese Railways and industry.
 
The agenda for the roundtable discussion covered accident investigation, track, railway safety management and locomotives.
 
Presentations were made by Japanese Industries on their capability in the field. In addition, issues of station development, security systems and modal shift from truck to rail in transporting new cars and trucks were also discussed.
 
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Modi hails India's jump in Ease of Doing Business rankings

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hailed India's jump of 30 ranks in the World Bank's Doing Business Report, 2018, released in Washington today.
 
India’s rank has risen to 100 in the latest report compared to 130 in the Doing Business Report, 2017.
 
Terming the improvement in the rankings as historic, the Prime Minister, in a series of posts on micro-blogging site Twitter, said that the jump is the outcome of the all-round and multi-sectoral reform push of Team India. 
 
“Historic jump in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rankings is the outcome of the all-round & multi-sectoral reform push of Team India. Easier business environment is leading to historic opportunities for our entrepreneurs, particularly MSME sector & bringing more prosperity," he said.
 
"Over the last 3 years we have seen a spirit of positive competition among states towards making business easier. This has been beneficial. 
 
"It has never been easier to do business in India. India welcomes the world to explore economic opportunities our nation has to offer!" he said.
 
"Guided by the Mantra of ‘Reform, Perform & Transform’ we are determined to further improve our rankings & scale greater economic growth," Mr. Modi added.
 
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India moves up to 100th spot in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings

India for the first time has moved into the top 100 in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business global rankings on the back of sustained business reforms over the past several years.

 
Jaitley lauds India's 30-point jump in World Bank's rankings
India for the first time has moved into the top 100 in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business global rankings on the back of sustained business reforms over the past several years.
 
This was announced by the World Bank Group’s latest Doing Business 2018: Reforming to Create Jobs report released in Washington today. Last year the report had ranked India at 130, from which it has moved up 30 places to 100.
 
The report also recognized India as one of the top 10 improvers in this year’s assessment, having implemented reforms in 8 out of 10 Doing Business indicators. India is the only large country this year to have achieved such a significant shift. 
 
On the “distance to frontier metric,” one of the key indicators in the survey, India’s score went from 56.05 in Doing Business 2017 to 60.76 in Doing Business 2018. This means last year India improved its business regulations in absolute terms – indicating that the country is continuing its steady shift towards best practice in business regulation, the bank said.
 
Marking its 15th anniversary, the report notes that India has adopted 37 reforms since 2003. Nearly half of these reforms have been implemented in the last four years. The report captures reforms implemented in 190 countries in the period June 2, 2016 to June 1, 2017. 
 
“Having embarked on a strong reform agenda to improve the business environment, the significant jump this year is a result of the Indian government’s consistent efforts over the past few years. It indicates India’s endeavor to further strengthen its position as a preferred place to do business globally,” said Annette Dixon, Vice President, South Asia region. 
 
This year, the eight indicators on which reforms were implemented in Delhi and Mumbai, the two cities covered by the report, are: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. 
 
Last year the Doing Business report recognized India for reforms in the areas of getting electricity, paying taxes, trading across borders and enforcing contracts. 
 
India performs well in the areas of Protecting Minority Investors, Getting Credit, and Getting Electricity. The country’s corporate law and securities regulations have been recognized as highly advanced, placing India in 4th place in the global ranking on Protecting Minority Investors. And the time to obtain an electricity connection in Delhi has dropped from 138 days four years ago to 45 days now, almost 20 days less than the 78 days average in OECD high-income economies. India places in 29th place in the global ranking on the Getting Electricity indicator. 
 
The report said that, while there has been substantial progress, India still lags in areas such as Starting a Business, Enforcing Contracts, and Dealing with Construction Permits. In fact, the time taken to enforce a contract is longer today, at 1,445 days, than it was 15 years ago (1,420 days), placing the country in 164th place in the global ranking on the Enforcing Contracts indicator.  In Starting a Business, India has reduced the time needed to register a new business to 30 days now, from 127 days 15 years ago. However, the number of procedures is still cumbersome for local entrepreneurs who still need to go through 12 procedures to start a business in Mumbai, which is considerably more than in OECD high-income economies, where it takes five procedures on average.   
 
“Tackling these challenging reforms will be key to India sustaining the momentum towards a higher ranking. To secure changes in the remaining areas will require not just new laws and online systems but deepening the ongoing investment in the capacity of states and their institutions to implement change and transform the framework of incentives and regulation facing the private sector. India’s focus on ‘doing business’ at the state level may well be the platform that sustains the country’s reform trajectory for the future” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank's Country Director India.
 
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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the rise in India's rankings in the Doing Business (DB) Report to 100 among 190 countries assessed by the DB team at a press conference here.
 
The DB Report is an assessment of 190 economies and covers 10 indicators which span the lifecycle of a business.
 
Mr. Jaitley said India had improved its rank in 6 out of 10 indicators and moved closer to international best practices (Distance to Frontier score). 
 
The credit for this significant improvement is credited to the mantra of “Reform, Perform, Transform” given by the Prime Minister, wherein a strong leadership has provided the political will to carry out comprehensive and complex reforms, supported by a bureaucracy committed to perform, he said, adding that India was now aiming to get into the top 50 soon.
 
Mr. Jaitley said the Government had undertaken an extensive exercise of stakeholder consultations, identification of user needs, government process re-engineering to match Government rules and procedures with user expectations and streamlined them to create a more conducive business environment. An extensive exercise is also undertaken to increase awareness among users about reforms to ensure extensive use of newly created systems, he said.
 
Mr. Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), in a presentation, said India had recorded the highest jump in rank of any country in the DB Report 2018. India is the only country in South Asia and BRICS economies to feature among most improved economies of the DB Report this year.
 
An official press release said the highlights of India's performance are:
 
1.      Resolving Insolvency 
 
a.       Rank improved from 136 to 103
b.      Distance to Frontier (DTF) score improved from 32.75 to 40.75
c.       Strength of insolvency framework index increased from 6 to 8.5
d.      Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code created for efficient handling of restructuring & insolvency proceedings
e.       Professional institutes set up for handling restructuring & insolvency proceedings
 
2.      Paying Taxes
 
a.       Rank improved from 172 to 119
b.      DTF score improved from 46.58 to 66.06
c.       Payments reduced from 25 to 13 in a year
d.      Time reduced from 241 to 214 hours
e.       Total tax rate reduced from 60.6% to 55.3% (% of profit)
f.       Post filing index improved from 4.3 to 49.31
g.      Enabled electronic registration, return & payment of ESI & EPF contributions
 
3.      Getting Credit
 
a.       Rank improved from 44 to 29
b.      DTF score improved from 65 to 75
c.       Strength of legal rights index improved from 6 to 8
d.      Credit bureau coverage increased from 21.4% to 43.5% (% of adults)
e.       Increased coverage of security interest registration under SARFAESI Act
f.       Secured creditors prioritized over Government dues for purposes of recovery
 
4.      Enforcing Contracts 
 
a.       Rank improved from 172 to 164
b.      DTF score improved from 35.19 to 40.76
c.       Cost reduced from 39.6% to 31% (% of claim)
d.      Quality of judicial process index improved from 9 to 10.3
e.       Dedicated commercial courts established
f.       National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) to monitor and manage court cases
 
5.      Protecting Minority Investors 
 
a.       Rank improved from 13 to 4
b.      DTF score improved from 73.33 to 80
c.       Strength of minority investor protection index increased from 7.3 to 8
d.      Extent of conflict of interest regulation index increased from 6.7 to 7.3
e.       Extent of shareholder governance index increased from 8 to 8.7
f.       Greater transparency requirements for interested parties transactions
g.      Greater shareholder protection through action against directors & claims for damages
 
6.      Construction Permits
 
a.       Rank improved from 185 to 181
b.      DTF score improved from 32.83 to 38.80
c.       Procedures to obtain construction permits reduced from 35.1 to 30.1
d.      Time reduced from 190.0 to 143.9 days
e.       Cost reduced from 25.9 per cent to 23.2 per cent of warehouse value
 
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