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Business & Economy

Horticulture crops production increases to record 300 million tonnes in 2016-17

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India's production of horticulture crops is estimated at a record 300 million tonnes in 2016-17, which is 4.8 percent higher than the estimates of production for the previous year.
 
The Third Advance Estimates of Area and Production of Horticulture Crops for 2016-17, released here yesterday by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, said the area under horticulture crops had increased from 24.5 million hectares (ha) in 2015-16 to 25.1 million ha in 2016-17, recording an increase of 2.6%.
 
Fruit production during 2016-17 is estimated at a record 93.7 million tonnes, which is about 3.9% higher than the previous year, an official press release said, quoting the data.
 
Production of vegetables is estimated to be at around 176 million tonnes, 4.2% higher than the previous year.
 
With 21.7 million tonnes ofar estimated onion production in the country, there is an increase of 3.8% over the previous year. The major onion producing States are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat.
 
Record potato production in the country has increased from 43.4 million tonnes to 48.2 million tonnes in the current year which is 11.1% higher than the previous year. Major potato growing States are Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
 
During 2016-17, tomato production is estimated to be around 19.5 million tonnes which is 4.3% higher than the previous year. The major tomato growing States are Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha and Gujarat.
 
Production of flowers is estimated to be around 2.3 million tonnes which is 4.3% higher than the previous year.
 
Production of aromatics and medicinal plants is estimated to be around 1.04 million tonnes which is 2% higher than the previous year.
 
During 2016-17, production of plantation crops (areca nut, cashew nut, cocoa and coconut) is estimated to be at a record level of around 18.3 million tonnes which is 10.2% higher than the previous year.
 
Record production of spices is estimated to be around 8.2 million tonnes which is 17.4% higher than the previous year, the release added.
 
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Joint proposal by India, China in WTO on Aggregate Measurement of Support

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India and China have jointly submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) calling for the elimination by developed countries of the most trade-distorting form of farm subsidies, known in WTO parlance as Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) or ‘Amber Box’ support as a prerequisite   for consideration of other reforms in domestic support negotiations.
 
This is an important proposal by India and submitted on July 18  in view of the ongoing negotiations for the upcoming 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO to be held in Buenos Aires in December 2017, an official press release said. 
 
It counters the efforts by some countries to target the subsidies of the developing countries while letting the developed countries retain their huge farm subsidies, the release said.
 
The joint paper reveals that developed countries, including the US, the EU and Canada, have been consistently providing trade-distorting subsidies to their farmers at levels much higher than the ceiling applicable to developing countries. Developed countries have more than 90% of global AMS entitlements amounting to nearly $ 160 billion. Most of the developing countries, including India and China, do not have AMS entitlements.
 
Listing the most heavily and frequently subsidised products by the US, the EU and Canada since 1995, the paper calls for the elimination of such subsidies. The numbers reveal that subsidies for many items provided by the developed world are over 50% and some even more than 100% of the value of production of the product concerned while developing countries are forced to contain it within 10% of the value of production.
 
In other words, while developed members have access to huge amount of AMS beyond their de minimis (these are the minimal amounts of domestic support that are allowed even though they distort trade — up to 5% of the value of production for developed countries, 10% for developing.) in contrast most developing members have access only to de minimis resulting in a major asymmetry in the rules on agricultural trade.
 
The paper illustrates the adverse effects of the concentration of AMS on a few products, which no other proposal in the WTO addresses.  Elimination of AMS, India and China believe, should be the starting point of reforms rather than seeking a reduction of subsidies by developing countries, some of which like India provide a subsistence amount of about US $ 260 per farmer per annum compared to over 100 times more in some developed countries.
 
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Common Food Processing Incubation Centre for Shallots at Perambalur

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Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal launched a Common Food Processing Incubation Centre for Shallots (small onions) in Chettikulam village in Perambalur district of Tamil Nadu through video conferencing from here yesterday.
 
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that it is a historic an auspicious occasion for Tamil Nadu and Chettikulam Village in particular. She also congratulated Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT), Thanjavur for their initiatives to help double farmers' income by 2022.
 
The farmers in Perambalur district are producing 70,000 tons of shallots per year in a cultivation area of 8,000 hectares, inspite of the increasing difficulty in cultivation due to increase in prices of inputs, unpredictable weather, disease outbreak and not getting adequate prices in the market.
 
The Central Processing Centre for Shallots in Perambalur will ensure that no shallots are wasted, increase farmers' income and also ensure availability of shallots to consumers, the Minister said.
 
This onion processing technology should be taken to all parts of India, she added.
 
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Report suggests gradual outsourcing of maintenance functions of CPWD

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A Report on Reorganisation of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has suggested gradual outsourcing of its maintenance functions for developing core competency.
 
This recommendation was among a set of measures suggested by Ernst & Young in its Report on ‘Working and Reorganisation of CPWD for Improved Efficiency and Effectiveness’ presented to the Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Narendra Singh Tomar here yesterday.
 
The report stressed the need to redefine the focus of CPWD so as to promote its competency in the core area of construction for which maintenance of residential properties needs to be outsourced. It was noted that more than 50% of the total strength of CPWD of 21,806 personnel are currently engaged in maintenance works which account for only 20 % of its turnover by value.
 
While suggesting that CPWD could continue as an attached office of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (HUA), the report advocated radical reorganization of business processes and decision making systems for ensuring completion of projects in time, transparency, accountability, ease of working, better coordination, and so on. In place of the present eight levels of processing and decision-making, two to three layers have been suggested by categorizing projects into small, medium and large.
 
As against present mode of selection of Director General of CPWD based on seniority, it has been recommended that DG be chosen from a panel of senior officers. Extensive use of technology in the form of integrated IT based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system has been recommended for effective monitoring and resource utilization.
 
Since a large component of projects undertaken by CPWD is commissioned by various ministries and other agencies of the Government, the report has suggested a clear definition of the obligation of such agencies like ensuring encumbrance free land, approvals, and so on.
 
Proper integration of different wings of CPWD like civil, electrical, horticultural and architecture cadres under common command is among the other recommendations.
 
Mr Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary (HUA) discussed the recommendations with Mr Tomar. It was decided that CPWD will initiate action to outsource maintenance functions in select areas of Delhi, to begin with, and a road map will be evolved to implement other recommendations after detailed examination.
 
These recommendations have been made in the context of over 50% of works being implemented by CPWD getting delayed, lower levels of satisfaction over maintenance services, 70% of projects being of less than Rs. 5 crore value each and 47% of total staff located in Delhi Region.
 
The Ministry had commissioned Ernst & Young in May this year to study the functioning of CPWD for suggesting measures for improvements.
 
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Ministry of Railways signs two MoUs with Switzerland

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Two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed here yesterday between the Ministry of Railways and Switzerland during Swiss Confederation President Doris Leuthard's visit to India.
 
The first MoU is between Ministry of Railways and Federal Department of the Environment, Transport and Communications of the Swiss Confederation for technical cooperation in the rail sector. This was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Leuthard by Ashwani Lohani, Chairman Railway Board and Dr. Andreas Baum, Swiss Ambassador to India.
 
The MoU is a follow up on bilateral cooperation in rail sector discussed in the meeting held between Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu and Swiss Ambassador in July 2016.
 
The MoU aims at cooperation in the areas of Traction Rolling stock, EMU and Train sets, Traction Propulsion Equipment, Freight and Passenger Cars, Tilting Trains, Railway Electrification Equipment, Train scheduling and operation improvement, Railway Station modernisation, Multimodal transport, Tunneling technology.
 
The second MoU is between Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. This was signed by Sanjay Gupta, CMD/KRCL and Prof. Sarah Springman, Rector, ETH Zurich.  
 
This will help Konkan Railway in establishing the George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology (GFITT) in Goa especially for assimilation and dissemination of knowledge in the field of tunneling. GFITT aims to not only train KRCL’s own manpower for its Tunneling Projects but also wishes to generate qualified and trained personnel for the benefit of other Government organisations, private sector and even foreign organisations to bridge the huge gap in levels of knowledge and qualified manpower required to meet the key segment of infrastructure development in India.
 
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India's eight core industries grow by 2.4% in July, 2017

A coal power station.
A coal power station.
India's eight core industries, which have a combined weight of 40.27 percent in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), grew by 2.4 percent in July, 2017 as compared to the same month of the previous year, an official statement said here today, quoting provisional data.
 
The base year of the Index of Eight Core Industries has been revised from the year 2004-05 to 2011-12 from April, 2017.
 
The statement said the combined Index of Eight Core Industries stood at 119.8 in July. Its cumulative growth during April-July, 2017-18 was 2.5 %.
 
According to the statement, coal production, which has a weight of 10.33% in the IIP, increased by 0.7% in July, 2017 over July, 2016. Its cumulative index declined by 3.3% during April-July, 2017-18 from the level in the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
Crude oil production (weight: 8.98 %) decreased by 0.5 % in July, 2017 from the corresponding month of the previous year. Its cumulative index increased by 0.05% during April-July, 2017-18 over the same period of the previous year.
 
Natural gas production (weight: 6.88 %) increased by 6.6 % in July, 2017 over July, 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 4.9 % during April-July, 2017-18 over the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
Petroleum refinery production (weight: 28.04%) declined by 2.7 % in July, 2017 from July, 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 0.7 % during April to July, 2017-18 over the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
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Fertilizer production (weight: 2.63 %) declined by 0.3 % in July, 2017 from July, 2016. Its cumulative index declined by 1.5 % during April to July, 2017-18 from the corresponding period of previous year.
 
Steel production (weight: 17.92 %) increased by 9.2 % in July, 2017 over July, 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 6.9 % during April to July, 2017-18 over the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
Cement production (weight: 5.37%) declined by 2.0 % in July, 2017 from July, 2016. Its cumulative index declined by 3.5 % during April to July, 2017-18 from the corresponding period of previous year.
 
Electricity generation (weight: 19.85%) increased by 5.4 % in July, 2017 over July, 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 5.4 % during April to July, 2017-18 over the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
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India's GDP growth slumps to three-year low of 5.7% in Q1

 
India's gross domestic product (GDP) growth slumped to a three-year low of 5.7 percent in the first quarter (Q1) (April-June) of 2017-18, as compared to 7.9 percent in the same period of the previous year, as the manufacturing sector slowed down ahead of the July 1 launch of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) amidst the effects of the November 8, 2016 demonetisation of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 bank notes.
 
The growth rate had dipped to 6.1 percent in the previous quarter -- the last quarter of 2016-17 -- and slowed down to 7.1 percent for 2016-17 as a whole as the effects of demonetisation took its toll on the economy.
 
The latest data also meant that India has lagged behind China for the second consecutive quarter. That country had registered a growth of 6.9% in both the January-March and April-June quarters.
 
The estimates of GDP for Q1 of 2017-18 released here today by the  Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of  Statistics and  Programme Implementation, showed that GDP at constant (2011-12) prices in the quarter was estimated at Rs. 31.10 lakh crore, as against Rs. 29.42 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17, showing a growth rate of 5.7 percent. 
 
Quarterly GVA at basic price at constant (2011-2012) prices for Q1 of 2017-18 is estimated at Rs. 29.04 lakh crore, as against Rs. 27.51 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17, showing a growth rate of 5.6 percent over the corresponding quarter of the previous year.
 
An official statement, quoting the data, said the economic activities which registered growth of over 7 percent in Q1 of 2017-18 over Q1 of 2016-17 are ‘trade, hotels, transport & communication and services related to broadcasting’, ‘public administration, defence and other services’ and ‘electricity, gas, water supply & other utility services’. The growth in ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’, ‘mining and quarrying’, ‘manufacturing’,  ‘construction’  and  financial, insurance, real estate and professional services  is estimated to be 2.3%, (-) 0.7%, 1.2%, 2.0% and 6.4%, respectively, during this period.
 
 The statement said quarterly GVA at basic prices for Q1 2017-18 from ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’ sector grew by 2.3% as compared to growth of 2.5% in Q1 2016-17. According  to  the  information furnished by  the  Department  of  Agriculture  and Cooperation  (DAC),  which  has been  used  in  compiling  the  estimate  of  GVA from agriculture in Q1 of 2017-18, the production of rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses registered growth rates of 5.8%, 6.6%, 10.7% and 25.0%, respectively, during  the  Rabi  season of  agriculture year 2016-17 (which ended in June 2017). Among the commercial crops, the production of oilseeds registered a growth of 13.1% during the Rabi season of 2016-17. The crops including fruits and vegetables account for about 56.9% of GDP in ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’ sector.  Around 43.1% of GVA of this sector is based on the livestock products, forestry and fisheries, which registered a combined growth of about 3.4% in Q1 of 2017-18.
 
Quarterly GVA at basic prices for Q1 2017-18 from ‘mining and quarrying’ sector grew by (-) 0.7% as compared to growth of (-) 0.9% in Q1 2016-17.  The key indicators of mining sector, namely, production of coal, crude oil and natural gas and IIP mining registered growth rates of (-) 4.4%, 0.2%, 4.0% and 1.2%, during Q1 of 2017-18 as compared to 5.3%, (-) 3.3%, (-) 6.0% and 7.5% during Q1 of 2016-17.   
 
Quarterly GVA at basic prices for Q1 2017-18 from ‘manufacturing’ sector grew by 1.2% as compared to growth of 10.7% in Q1 2016-17.   The private corporate sector growth (which has a share of over 75% in the manufacturing sector) as estimated from available data of listed companies with BSE and NSE is (-) 0.9% at current prices during Q1 of 2017-18 as against 10.2% in Q1 of 2016-17. The quasi corporate and unorganized segment (which has a share of over 20% in the manufacturing sector) has been estimated using IIP of manufacturing. IIP manufacturing registered growth rate of 1.8% during Q1 of 2017-18 as compared to 6.7% during Q1 of 2016-17.
 
Quarterly GVA at basic prices for  Q1 2017-18 from ‘Electricity, Gas, water supply and other utility services’  sector  grew by 7.0% as compared to growth of 10.3% in Q1 2016-17.  The key indicator of this sector, namely, IIP of electricity registered growth rate of  5.3% during Q1 of 2017-18 as compared to 10.0% in Q1 of 2016-17.
 
Quarterly GVA at basic prices for Q1 2017-18 from ‘Construction’ sector grew by 2.0% as compared to growth of 3.1% in Q1 2016-17.  Key indicators of construction sector, namely, production of cement, consumption of finished steel and IIP of non-metallic minerals registered growth rates of (-) 2.9%, 4.6% and (-) 3.2%, respectively, during Q1 of 2017-18 as compared to 5.8%, 1.3% and 5.7%, respectively, in Q1 of  2016-17.
 
Quarterly GVA at basic prices for Q1 2017-18 from trade, hotels, transport, communication and services related to broadcasting grew by 11.1% as compared to growth of 8.9% in Q1 2016-17. Key indicator used for estimating GVA from trade sector is the sales tax growth.  As per the available monthly data on State accounts available from CAG website, sales tax collection grew by 16.9% during Q1 of 2017-18. Among the other services sectors, the key indicators of railways, namely, the net tonne kilometers and passenger kilometers have shown growth rate of 3.3% and 1.5%, respectively, during Q1 of 2017-18.  In case of other transport sectors, passengers handled by civil aviation, cargo handled by civil aviation and cargo handled at major ports registered growth rates of 15.6%, 19.2% and 5.0%, respectively, during Q1 of 2017-18. Sales of commercial vehicles registered (-) 9.1% growth during Q1 of 2017-18.
 
Quarterly GVA at basic prices for Q1 2017-18 from the financial, insurance, real estate and professional services sector grew by 6.4% as compared to growth of 9.4% in Q1 2016-17.  Major component of this industry is the real estate and professional services which has a share of 73.1%. The key indicators of this sector are the quarterly growth of corporate sector for computer related activities which as estimated from available data from listed companies at current prices is 6.2% during Q1 of 2017-18. The other indicators of this sector, viz., aggregate bank deposits, and bank credits have shown growth rates of 13.3% and 8.6%, respectively as on June 2017.
 
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Quarterly GVA at basic prices for Q1 2017-18 from the public administration, defence and other services sector grew by 9.5% as compared to growth of 8.6% in Q1 2016-17. The key indicator of this sector namely, Union Government revenue expenditure net of interest payments excluding subsidies grew by 19.8% during Q1 of 2017-18 as compared to 20.8% in Q1 of 2016-17.
 
The statement said GDP at current prices in Q1 of 2017-18 is estimated at Rs. 38.84 lakh crore, as against Rs. 35.55 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17, showing a growth rate of 9.3%. GVA at basic price at current prices in Q1 of 2017-18, is estimated at Rs. 35.77 lakh crore, as against Rs. 33.17 lakh crore in Q1, 2016-17, showing an increase of 7.9%. Growth in collection of Union excise duties, customs duties and service tax was 7.3%, 15.0% and 20.4%, respectively, in Q1 of 2017-18 as against 60.5%, 17.8% and 28.5%, respectively, in Q1 of 2016-17.
 
The statement said the wholesale price index (WPI), in respect of the groups - food articles, minerals, manufactured products, electricity and all commodities, had risen by (-) 1.7%, 5.5%, 2.6%, 0.7% and 2.3%, respectively, during Q1 of 2017-18 over Q1 of 2016-17. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has shown a rise of 2.2% during Q1 of 2017-18 over Q1 of 2016-17.
 
Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE) at current prices is estimated at Rs. 22.27 lakh crore in Q1 of 2017-18 as against Rs. 20.42 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17.  At constant (2011-12) prices, the PFCE is estimated at Rs. 16.80 lakh crore in Q1 of 2017-18 as against Rs. 15.76 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17. 
 
In terms of GDP, the rates of PFCE at current and constant (2011-2012) prices during Q1 of 2017-18 are estimated at 57.3% and 54.0%, respectively, as against the corresponding rates of 57.4% and 53.6%, respectively, in Q1 of 2016-17.
 
Government Final Consumption Expenditure (GFCE) at current prices is estimated at Rs. 5.19 lakh crore in Q1 of 2017-18 as against Rs. 4.34 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17. At constant (2011-2012) prices, the GFCE is estimated at Rs. 3.91 lakh crore in Q1 of 2017-18 as against Rs. 3.34 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17. In terms of GDP, the rates of GFCE at current and constant (2011-2012) prices during Q1 of 2017-18 are estimated at 13.4% and 12.6%, respectively, as against the corresponding rate of 12.2% and 11.3%, respectively in Q1 of 2016-17.
 
Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) at current prices is estimated at Rs. 10.69 lakh crore in Q1 of 2017-18 as against Rs. 10.37 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17. At constant (2011-2012) prices, the GFCF is estimated at Rs. 9.28 lakh crore in Q1 of 2017-18 as against Rs. 9.13 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17. In terms of GDP, the rates of GFCF at current and constant (2011-2012) prices during Q1 of 2017-18 are estimated at 27.5% and 29.8%, respectively, as against the corresponding rates of 29.2% and 31.0%, respectively in Q1 of 2016-17.
 
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Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 50.52/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 $ 50.52 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 50.56 per bbl on the previous day.
 
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs. 3230.09 per bbl on 30.08.2017 as compared to Rs. 3236.45 per bbl on 29.08.2017, an official press release said.
 
The rupee closed stronger at Rs. 63.94 per US$ on 30.08.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.02 per US$ on 29.08.2017, it added.
 
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Cabinet approves MoU on India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund

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The Union Cabinet yesterday approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between India and Israel on the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F).
 
Under the terms of the MoU, concluded in July 2017, India and Israel will make a contribution of $ 4 million each for the fund, both equivalent amount, annually for five years. The Innovation Fund will be governed by a joint board which will consist of four members from each country, an official press release said.
 
The MoU envisages promotion of bilateral Industrial R&D and Innovation cooperation in the fields of science and technology by extending support to joint projects for innovative or technology-driven new or improved products, services or processes. 
 
Such projects will lead to affordable technological innovations in focus areas of mutual interest such as water, agriculture, energy and digital technologies. Institutional support in building up consortia including private industry, enterprises, and R&D institutions from India and Israel will be enabled through these collaborative projects, the release said.
 
The activities supported by the joint fund would increase the techno-economic collaboration between the two countries by investing in jointly developed technology projects and collaborations based on technological innovation, it said.
 
It would leverage the complementary strengths of Israel and India to encourage Israel-Indian joint projects that capitalize on both the national and global marketplace. It would provide a comprehensive set of support tools to encourage joint projects that convert "know-how" into "show-how".
 
It is expected to foster and strengthen the ecosystem of innovation and techno-entrepreneurship in India and contribute directly to the Start-up India programme, the release added.
 
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Jaitley says objective of demonetisation was not confiscation of black money

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today asserted that confiscation of black money was never the objective of the November 8, 2016 demonetisation of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 bank notes and accused people who had not acted against such evils when they were in power of now trying to create confusion by stating that the success of the exercise depended on the amount of illicit money that stayed out of the system.
 
Speaking to journalists on the Reserve Bank of India’s annual report for 2016-17, which said that nearly 99% of the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes worth Rs 15.44 lakh crore had returned to it, Mr. Jaitley said the very fact that all the money had come into the formal banking system was an indication of the success of the move.
 
He also said that the exercise had succeeded in meeting other major objectives such as reducing the reliance on cash in the system, boosting digital transactions and expanding the tax base.
 
He said the increase in the number of taxpayers and personal income tax returns filed as well as the Goods and Service Tax (GST) collections in the first month after its roll-out pointed to a larger tax base, higher degree of digitisation, less cash in the system and the integration of the informal and formal economy.
 
He also said the impact of demonetisation could be seen in the decrease in the number of incidents in troubled states such as Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir.
 
In a statement, the Finance Ministry said the demonetisation had several objectives: (i) flushing out black money, (ii) eliminate Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN), (iii) to strike at the root of financing of terrorism and left wing extremism, (iv) to convert non-formal economy into a formal economy to expand tax base and employment and (v) to give a big boost to digitalization of payments to make India a less cash economy.
 
"The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reported in their Annual Accounts that Specified Bank Notes (SBNs) of estimated value of Rs. 15.28 lakh crore have been deposited back as on 30.6.2017.  The outstanding SBNs as on 8th November, 2016 were of Rs. 15.44 crore value. The total currency in circulation of all denominations as on 8th November, 2016 was 17.77 lakh crore whereas total currency in circulation as on 4th August, 2017 was 14.75 lakh crore. The Government had expected all the SBNs to come back to the Banking system to become effectively usable currency.  The fact that bulk of SBNs have come back to the banking system shows that the banking system and the RBI were able to effectively respond to the challenge of collecting such a large number of SBNs in a limited time.  At the same time, the effective currency in circulation today is only 83% with full remonetisation having taken place," it said.
 
The statement said a significant portion of SBNs deposited could possibly be representing unexplained or black money.  Accordingly, ‘Operation Clean Money’ was launched on 31st January 2017. 
 
"Scrutiny of about 18 lakh accounts, prima facie, did not appear to be in line with their tax profile.  These were identified and have been approached through email/sms. More than 9.27 lakh responses were received giving information on 13.33 lakh accounts involving cash deposits of around Rs.2.89 lakh crore. Advance data analytics tools were deployed which further identified 5.56 lakhs new cases and about 1 lakh of those cases in which either partial or no response was received in the earlier phase. Besides, about 200 high risk clusters of persons were identified for appropriate action.  The Income Tax Department (ITD) conducted searches on various entities, leading to seizure of cash and admission of undisclosed income. Since November 2016 and until the end of May 2017, a total of Rs. 17526 crore has been found as undisclosed income and Rs. 1003 crore has been seized.  The investigation/scrutiny is going on," it said.
 
"As a result of demonetization drive, there is a substantial increase in the number of Income Tax Returns (ITRs) filed. The number of Returns filed as on 05.08.2017 registered an increase of 24.7% compared to a growth rate of 9.9% in the previous year. Advance tax collections of Personal Income Tax (i.e. other than Corporate Tax) as on 05.08.2017 showed a growth of about 41.79% over the corresponding period in F.Y. 2016-2017. Personal Income Tax under Self Assessment Tax (SAT) grew at 34.25% over the corresponding period in F.Y. 2016-2017.
 
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"Transactions of more than 3 lakh registered companies are under the radar of suspicion while one lakh companies were struck off the list. The government has already identified more than 37000 shell companies which were engaged in hiding black money and hawala transactions. Around 163 companies which were listed on the exchange platforms were suspended from trading, pending submission of proof documents. The Income-tax Directorates of Investigation have identified more than 400 benami transactions up to 23 May, 2017 and the market value of properties under attachment is more than Rs. 600 crore.
 
"As a result of demonetization of SBNs, terrorist and naxalite financing stopped almost entirely.  No high quality FICN was found / seized by intelligence operations, including at the Indo-Bangladesh Border since demonetisation.  Further, it also adversely affected the hawala operators and dabba trading venues.
 
"Demonetization drive led to significant change of saving habits and formalization of assets market.  Considerably more funds came into the organized financial markets, whereas earlier households were parking much of their savings in unproductive physical assets. The savings in the form of investment in equity mutual funds, life insurance premia etc., increased.  The total assets under management (AUM) of Mutual funds (MFs) rose by 54% by the end of June 2017 from March 2016.  As on 16 August 2017, the number of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts stands at 29.52 crore with rural accounts comprising 60% of it. Thanks to demonetization led efforts, zero balance accounts under PMJDY declined from 76.81 % in September 2014 to 21.41% in August 2017.
 
"The impressive revenue collection under GST is also partially attributable to demonetization drive.  The total revenue of GST remitted upto 29 August, 2017   is Rs. 92,283 crore that too with only 64.42% of assesses having completed the payments. The number of new taxpayers who have registered with the GSTN upto 29 August, 2017 is 18.83 lakhs.
 
"As part of fillip to digitalization, about 52.4 crore unique Aadhaar numbers have been linked to 73.62 crore accounts in India. As a result, every month now, about 7 crore successful payments are made by the poor using their Aadhaar identification. The government now makes direct transfer of Rs. 74,000 crore to the financial accounts of 35 crore beneficiaries annually, at more than Rs. 6,000 crore per month. Now with the BHIM App and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a secure and seamless digital payments infrastructure has been created so that all Indians, especially the poor can become part of the digital mainstream. Digital payments have increased by 56% from 71.27 crore transactions in October 2016 to 111.45 crore transaction till the end of May, 2017. Within reach of the country is what might be called the 1 billion-1 billion-1 billion vision i.e. 1 billion unique Aadhaar numbers linked to 1 billion bank accounts and 1 billion mobile phones. Once that happens and it would happen quite soon, all of India will become part of financial and digital mainstream," it said.
 
The statement said some people had expected a very large shock to economic growth on account of demonetization.  
 
"Their expectations have been belied.  India has continued to be on path of one of the strongest growths in the world. The two big measures of demonetization and introduction of GST were humongous measures which had changed structural and ethical foundations of Indian economy.  Government has been able to manage the transition extremely, effectively and with the least pain.  With demonetization’s short term effects having played out completely, it is the long term positive impacts which will be still working its way to contribute beneficially to India’s economy and well-being of its people," the statement added.
 
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RBI says 99% of scrapped Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 bank notes have returned to it

The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday revealed in its annual report for 2016-17 that Rs. 15.28 lakh crore or nearly 99% of the Rs. 15.44 lakh crore of the scrapped Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bank notes had returned to it between November 8, 2016, when the demonetisation was announced, and June 30 2017.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today revealed in its annual report for 2016-17 that Rs. 15.28 lakh crore or nearly 99 percent of the Rs. 15.44 lakh crore of the scrapped Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bank notes had returned to it between November 8, 2016, when the demonetisation was announced, and June 30 2017.
 
The RBI also said that only 89 million units of the demonetised Rs. 1000 notes, worth Rs. 8,900 crore, had not come back into the banking system.
 
The report said the RBI had spent Rs. 7,965 crore on printing new currency notes in 2016-17 as compared to Rs. 3,420 crore in the previous year.
 
According to the report, the value of banknotes in circulation declined by 20.2 per cent over the year to Rs. 13,102 billion as at end-March 2017. The volume of banknotes, however, increased by 11.1 per cent, mainly due to higher infusion of banknotes of lower denomination in circulation following the demonetisation. 
 
In value terms, the share of Rs. 500 and above banknotes, which had together accounted for 86.4 per cent of the total value of banknotes in circulation at end-March 2016, stood at 73.4 per cent at end-March 2017. 
 
The share of newly introduced Rs. 2000 banknotes in the total value of banknotes in circulation was 50.2 per cent at end-March 2017. In volume terms, Rs. 10 and Rs. 100 banknotes constituted 62.0 per cent of total banknotes in circulation at end-March 2017 as compared with 53.0 per cent at end-March 2016 
 
The report said that, during 2016-17, as many as 762,072 pieces of counterfeit notes were detected in the banking system, of which 95.7 per cent were detected by commercial banks. Detection of counterfeit notes was 20.4 per cent higher than the previous year. Barring Rs. 100, the detection of counterfeit notes increased across denominations – notably, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 - during 2016-17.
 
The report said that, based on a quick survey, covering 25 percent of currency chests (CCs) (1051 CCs for Rs. 500 and 1,018 CCs for Rs. 1000) and 9.2 percent (2.2 billion pieces) of the specified bank notes (SBNs, the rate of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) detected per million pieces of notes processed at the CC level was 7.1 pieces for Rs. 500 denomination and 19.1 pieces for Rs. 1000 denomination. These were higher than the rate of detection at the RBI (5.5 pieces for Rs. 500 and 12.4 pieces for Rs. 1000).
 
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.
 
As compared to 2015-16, 12 clusters for Rs. 500 denomination and 14 clusters for Rs. 1000 denomination showed statistically significant higher rate of FICN detection during the post-demonetisation period. This implies a significant pick-up in the rate of FICN detection at the Reserve Bank level in the post-demonetisation period as compared to a year ago, it said.
 
The report said the trail of deposits of SBNs into bank accounts may provide valuable information to the revenue authorities in tracing unaccounted money. During 2016-17, the number of suspicious transaction reports filed by banks and other financial intermediaries with the Financial Intelligence Unit, Government of India, witnessed a quantum jump to 361,214 by banks, 94,836 by financial institutions and 16,953 by intermediaries. The corresponding numbers were 61,361; 40,333; and 4,579 for 2015-16.
 
The report said that, until June 30, 2017, SBNs were received by the RBI either directly or from bank branches/post offices through the currency chest mechanism. 
 
"Some of these SBNs are still lying in the currency chests. The value of the SBNs received by the currency chests has been credited to the banks’ account on 'said to contain basis'. Till such time these notes are processed by the Reserve Bank for their numerical accuracy and authenticity, only an estimation of SBNs received back is possible. Subject to future corrections based on verification process when completed, the estimated value of SBNs received as on June 30, 2017 is Rs. 15.28 trillion. 
 
"Moreover, vide notification no G.S.R. 611 (E) dated June 20, 2017,  Government of India allowed District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) to deposit SBNs accepted by them from their customers within the period of 10th November to 14th November, 2016. Further, in terms of AP (DIR series) circular no. 45/2015-16 dated February 04, 2016, rules governing import and export of Indian currency notes to, inter alia, Nepal are different vis-à-vis other countries. As such, Reserve Bank is in discussion with Government of India with regard to the acceptance or otherwise of SBNs held by citizens/ Financial Institutions in Nepal.
 
"Therefore, the value of notes in circulation is subject to adjustments to be made after the completion of the verification process of the SBNs received as also for the notes to be received from DCCBs and Nepalese citizens/ Financial Institutions," the report added.
 
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the decision on demonetisation in a televised address to the nation on November 8, 2016.
 
"To break the grip of corruption and black money, we have decided that the five hundred rupee and thousand rupee currency notes presently in use will no longer be legal tender from midnight tonight, that is 8th November 2016. This means that these notes will not be acceptable for transactions from midnight onwards. The five hundred and thousand rupee notes hoarded by anti-national and anti-social elements will become just worthless pieces of paper. The rights and the interests of honest, hard-working people will be fully protected," he had said on that ay.
 
"This step will strengthen the hands of the common man in the fight against corruption, black money and fake currency," he had said.
 
Mr. Modi had spoken on that day about the growth of the spectre of corruption and black money as well as about terrorism and terror funding.
 
"There comes a time in the history of a country’s development when a need is felt for a strong and decisive step. For years, this country has felt that corruption, black money and terrorism are festering sores, holding us back in the race towards development. Terrorism is a frightening threat. So many have lost their lives because of it. But have you ever thought about how these terrorists get their money? Enemies from across the border run their operations using fake currency notes. This has been going on for years. Many times, those using fake five hundred and thousand rupee notes have been caught and many such notes have been seized," he said.
 
He listed the steps already taken by the government on these fronts. "Honest citizens want this fight against corruption, black money, benami property, terrorism and counterfeiting to continue. Which honest citizen would not be pained by reports of crores worth of currency notes stashed under the beds of government officers? Or by reports of cash found in gunny bags? The magnitude of cash in circulation is directly linked to the level of corruption. Inflation becomes worse through the deployment of cash earned in corrupt ways. The poor have to bear the brunt of this. It has a direct effect on the purchasing power of the poor and the middle class. You may yourself have experienced when buying land or a house, that apart from the amount paid by cheque, a large amount is demanded in cash. This creates problems for an honest person in buying property. The misuse of cash has led to artificial increase in the cost of goods and services like houses, land, higher education, health care and so on. 
 
"High circulation of cash also strengthens the hawala trade which is directly connected to black money and illegal trade in weapons. Debate on the role of black money in elections has been going on for years," he had said in his address.
 
The opposition Congress hit out at the government, saying that the RBI figures clearly showed that the stated goals of unearthing black money and fake notes and fighting terrorism had not been achieved. They also recalled the enormous amount of suffering for people who had to stand in long queues to get the new currency notes and the number of deaths that occurred during that period.
 
"Rs 16000 cr out of demonetised notes of Rs 1544,000 cr did not come back to RBI. That is 1%. Shame on RBI which 'recommended' demonetisation," former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said on Twitter.
 
"RBI 'gained' Rs 16000 crore, but 'lost' Rs 21000 crore in printing new notes! The economists deserve Nobel Prize," he said.
 
"99% notes legally exchanged! Was demonetisation a scheme designed to convert black money into white?" he added.
 
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Cabinet okays promulgation of Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Ordinance, 2017

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the proposal of the Finance Ministry to promulgate an ordinance to amend the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act, 2017.
 
An official press release said the approval would allow to increase the maximum rate at which the Compensation Cess can be levied from 15% to 25% on motor vehicles for transport of not more than thirteen persons, including the driver [falling under sub-headings 870210, 8702 20, 8702 30 or 8702 90]; and motor vehicles falling under headings 8703.
 
The GST Council, in its meeting held in August 2017, taking into consideration the fact that post introduction of GST, the total incidence on motor vehicles [GST+ Compensation Cess] has come down vis-a-vis pre-GST total tax, incidence, and had recommended increase in the maximum rate at which Compensation Cess can be levied on motor vehicles falling under headings 8702 and 8703 from 15% to 25%.
 
The issue regarding the increase in effective rate of Compensation Cess on motor vehicles will be examined by the GST Council in due course, the release added.
 
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Centre imposes stock holding limits on sugar producers for September, October

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The Central Government today imposed stock holding limits on sugar producers for September and October, 2017 and directed that no producer shall hold any stock of sugar in excess of prescribed quantities at the end of the month.
 
The directive has been issued in exercise of the powers conferred by section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (10 of 1955)  read with the clause 5 of the Sugar (Control) Order, 1966, an official press release said.
 
The release said the limit for September 2017 was 21% of the total sugar available with them during 2016-17 sugar season. For October, 2017, it is 8% of the total sugar available with them during 2016-17 sugar season.
 
The total availability of sugar of individual producer shall be calculated as under:
“Opening stock of sugar as on 1st October, 2016 + sugar produced during 2016-17 sugar season – sugar exported during 2016-17 sugar season + sugar imported during 2016-17 sugar season."
 
Further, in exercise of powers conferred by clause 15 of the Sugar (Control) Order, 1966, the Central Government has authorised State Governments and Union Territory administrations to enforce this order, the release added.
 
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Stakeholders in insolvency cases can approach appropriate authority/court instead of DRTs

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Stakeholders who intend to pursue their insolvency cases may approach appropriate authority/court under the existing enactments, instead of approaching the Debt Recovery Tribunals, the Finance Ministry said today.
 
The Ministry, in a press release, said, “It has come to notice of Ministry that Writ Petitions are being filed before some High Courts stating that ‘The Presidency Towns Insolvency Act, 1909’ and ‘The Provincial Insolvency Act, 1920’ (enactments) have been repealed in view of enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code).
 
“On this basis, the litigants are claiming that matters related to individual insolvency and bankruptcy should now be dealt under provisions of the Code.
 
“In this regard, it is hereby clarified that Section 243 of the Code which provides for the repeal of said enactments has not been notified till date and further, provisions related to insolvency resolution and bankruptcy for individuals and partnerships as contained in Part III of the Code are yet to be notified.
 
“Hence, it is advised that stakeholders who intend to pursue their insolvency cases may approach appropriate authority/court under the existing enactments, instead of approaching the Debt Recovery Tribunals,” the Ministry added.
 
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States, UTs allowed to take control measures to ensure onion availability

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As part of its efforts to ensure that the prices of essential commodities are kept under control, the Union Government has allowed the States and Union Territories (UTs) to impose control measures on traders and dealers of onion to ensure adequate availability of the essential commodity at reasonable prices.
 
On August 25, the Government notified this decision through Order SO No. 2785 (E). States may now impose stock limits on onions and undertake various measures like de-hoarding operations, action against speculators and profiteers, an official press release said.
 
The release said this had been necessitated due to the abnormal rise in prices of onions in recent weeks, particularly from July end onwards, though the production and supply of onions in the market are better than last year during the same period.
 
As per all India average retail price, the prices have increased from Rs 15 per kg to Rs 28.94 per kg. In the Metros, the rise has been even steeper, Rs 31 per kg in Chennai, Rs 38 per kg in Delhi, Rs 40 per kg in Kolkata and Rs 33 per kg in Mumbai.
 
After examination of all the circumstances, the Government has inferred that there are some other reasons than a shortage of onions, contributing to the abnormal price rise, like hoarding, speculation and so on.
 
"Therefore the States/UTs were required to be enabled to take action against those traders who are engaged in speculative trading, hoarding and profiteering in onions. The measure is expected to bring the prices of onions down to a reasonable level to give an immediate relief to the consumers," the release added.
 
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Modi launches major highway projects at Udaipur, visits Pratap Gaurav Kendra

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration and laying of foundation stone of various major highway projects, at Udaipur, in Rajasthan on August 29, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration and laying of foundation stone of various major highway projects, at Udaipur, in Rajasthan on August 29, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of several major highway projects worth Rs 15,100 crore during a day[s visit to Udaipur in Rajasthan.
 
Altogether, Mr Modi inaugurated 12 National Highways projects worth Rs 5610 crore and performed "bhoomi poojan" for 11 projects worth Rs 9490 crore.
 
Among the projects was a 6-lane cable stayed bridge across river Chambal at Kota. Built at a cost of Rs 278 crore, the bridge marks the completion of the East-West corridor, an official press release said.
 
The construction of the bridge was stuck since 2006.  This bridge will now enable heavy vehicles to bypass Kota city, thus bringing down pollution and traffic congestion. The bridge design is also friendly for wildlife, ensuring minimum noise pollution for them, it said.
 
The other projects that were  inaugurated include 4-laning of Gomati Chauraha - Udaipur section of NH-8 at a cost of  Rs 1129 crore,  4-laning of Rajsamand-Bhilwara section of NH-758 at Rs 1360 crore, Nagaur Bypass to Netra village on NH-65 at a cost of  Rs 301 crore and 48 road safety projects at a cost of  Rs 381 crore.
 
Mr Modi said projects worth over Rs 15,000 crore were either being Inaugurated or initiated today in a single function.
 
He said India can no longer afford a delay in infrastructure projects, especially connectivity projects.
 
Referring to the Golden Quadrilateral initiated by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he said it benefited farmers by connecting them to markets.
 
Rajasthan could benefit a lot from tourism, through better infrastructure connectivity, which would bring in employment, he added.
 
He also referred to the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, under which LPG connections are being given to rural households, which will especially benefit women.
 
The Prime Minister said GST had hugely benefited the nation's economy, by eliminating long waiting time at inter-state borders.
 
He later visited the Pratap Gaurav Kendra, which celebrates the life, valour, and achievements of Maharana Pratap, the great king of the erstwhile kingdom of Mewar.
 
The 11 projects for which Prime Minister did the bhoomi poojan include 4-laning of Bar-Bilara-Jodhpur section of NH-112 at Rs 1249 crore, 6-laning of Kishangarh-Gulabpura section of NH-79A  and 79 at Rs 1184 crore. 
 
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari announced that the Centre proposed to spend Rs 2 lakh crore in the next five years for building national highways in Rajasthan.
 
The state had just 7498 km of national highways till June 2014. This length has nearly doubled to 14465 km in the last three years under the present Government. The number of national highways in the state has gone up from just 35 in June 2014 to 85.  
 
National highways construction work worth Rs 10,430 crore was completed in Rajasthan since 2014.  This includes 44 large projects totaling 1938 km length.
 
The prominent projects  include 4-laning of 244 km Beawar- Pali-Pindwara section of NH 14, 4-laning of 88 km Deoli- Kota section of  NH 12, 4-laning of Gomti- Udaipur section of NH 8 , 4-laning of Rajsamand - Bhilwara section of NH 758 and 6-laning of Kishangarh- Ajmer- Beawar section of NH 8.
 
Mr Gadkari announced that further work worth Rs 50,000 crore would be completed soon. This includes the 132 km Jaisalmer - Barmer section of NH 15  by November  2017,  the 107 km Barmer-Sachaur section on the same highway by February 2018 and the 204 km Uniyara- Gulabpur section of NH 148 (D) and 160 km Bikaner-Falaudi section of NH 15 by April 2018.
 
The DPR for the highway from  Swarupganj- Dungarpur- Banswara to MP border on NH 927( A) was ready. The work on six lane Delhi-Jaipur highway was 90% complete and work on  Falaudi- Jaisalmer section on NH 15 was proceeding fast.
 
A 195 km greenfield expressway will also come up between Delhi and Jaipur. This will start from Kherki Daula in Gurgaon, connect with Dwarka Expressway, then, going via Pataudi, it will connect with NH 8 at Chandwaji near Jaipur. Feasibility study for this project was being done.
 
The Prime Minister was earlier welcomed by Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
 
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MakeMyTrip launches MyBusiness to tap into corporate segment'

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Online travel company MakeMyTrip Limited has launched MyBusiness to tap into the growing corporate travel segment in India.
 
As part of this new solution, MyBusiness will provide a convenient, transparent and efficient self-booking tool that employees can use from the same MakeMyTrip app for their business travel," a press release form the company said.
 
"Giving the power of choice in the hands of the traveler, the tool will help keep control in the hands of the company while providing corporate travel benefits and savings for all," it said.
 
The release said MyBusiness would not only help businesses of any size avail of the best corporate travel deals but also bring down friction in the expense process.
 
"By introducing the new corporate wallet on MyBusiness, the companies will be able to reduce payment inefficiencies, liabilities and potential corporate card abuse – in turn providing employees and companies greater flexibility. This would be supported via dedicated corporate helpdesks which will be operational 24x7," it said.
 
Mr. Rajesh Magow, co-founder and CEO-India, MakeMyTrip said, “MakeMyTrip has always been an enabler of change in the way Indians travel. Our focus and investment in MyBusiness underlines our sense of purpose in changing the way corporate India moves. We have an aggressive plan in place to tap into this fast-growing business travel market by moving complex offline processes to a convenient and efficient online booking experience for employees and employers alike.”
 
Mr. Ranjeet Oak, Chief Business Officer, MakeMyTrip said, “For most organizations, business travel spending is the 2nd largest expense, and the entire process allows certain amount of discrepancies and reimbursement issues later on. SME corporates are contributing to 70% of the flourishing Indian corporate travel business and with MyBusiness, we are empowering the entire ecosystem, by establishing the ‘Choice’ with the traveller, ‘Control’ with the company and ‘Benefits and Savings’ for all.”
 
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As per Global Business Travel Association, with an annual growth of more than 11%, India is the fastest growing business travel market in the world. Driven by factors like growing expansion of organizations, rising income levels, policy and regulatory support by the government authorities, and so on, business travel has emerged as one of India’s fastest growing travel sectors.
 
"With growing need of organisations to enable business travel, MyBusiness will be particularly helpful for SMEs that cannot afford to set up a travel desk in office. The self-booking online tool makes it easy to move complex offline processes - approval metrices, travel policies, payment options – online; making travel booking efficient and experience seamless.
 
"In addition to the existing benefits, companies stand to claim GST Credit and save upto 18% of total travel transaction in a clear and transparent manner, making this offering a win-win for all," the release added.
 
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BHEL commissions 30 MW hydel power project in Mizoram

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned the first unit of the 2x30 MW Tuirial Hydro Electric Project (HEP) in Mizoram. 
 
This is the first large-rating hydro power project in the state of Mizoram, a press release from the company said.
 
Located in Kolasib district of Mizoram, the greenfield project is being set up by the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO) on the river Tuirial. The second unit of the project is also in advanced stages of execution. Power generation from Tuirial HEP will result in reduction of green house gas emissions and will contribute towards achieving a low carbon development path for the nation, it said.
 
The order for the Electrical & Mechanical (E&M) package of two units of 30 MW each, placed on BHEL by NEEPCO, envisaged design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of the complete E&M package including vertical shaft Francis Turbines & matching Generators. The equipment has been supplied by BHEL units at Bhopal, Jhansi, Rudrapur and Bengaluru and the execution of work on site has been carried out by the company’s Power Sector Eastern Region.
 
The release said the entire installed hydro capacity of NEEPCO of 755 MW has been supplied and commissioned by BHEL. The other hydro project of NEEPCO currently under execution by BHEL is the 4x150 MW Kameng HEP in Arunachal Pradesh. Some of the major hydro projects commissioned for NEEPCO by BHEL are the 3x135 MW Rangandi HEP in Arunachal Pradesh  and 4x50 MW  Kopili HEP in Assam. 
 
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MNRE, GIZ sign agreement on Improving Framework Conditions for Grid Integration of Renewable Energies

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The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH India signed an agreement on technical cooperation under the “Indo-German Energy Programme – Green Energy Corridors (IGEN-GEC)” here yesterday.
 
The main objective of this programme component is to improve the sector framework and conditions for grid integration of renewable energies, an official press release said.
 
Minister of State for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal and the German Ambassador to India Martin Ney were present at the signing ceremony.
 
The agreement was signed by Dr Wolfgang Hannig, Country Director, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH India and Mr A.N. Sharan, Joint Secretary in the MNRE.
 
Mr Goyal said, “I am delighted that this relationship between GIZ and India will result in improved market mechanisms and regulations, help us train manpower to ensure grid stability & integration of renewables into the grid and ensure safer & secure grid and make it capable of tackling  cyber challenges.”
 
Germany is a very reliable partner country and has been supporting India in achieving its goal for sustainable development through bilateral cooperation for almost six decades now, he added.
 
Dr Ney said, “When in July 2012, the Power Grid Corporation of India submitted a comprehensive and well elaborated Transmission Plan for Envisaged Renewable Capacity to MNRE, it paved the way for India’s ambitious goals to transform its power system by significantly increasing the share of renewable energies in the energy mix."
 
Also in Germany’s “Energiewende” the evacuation and grid integration of renewable energy plays a pivotal role with major technological and fiscal challenges. Both the countries have a very constructive dialogue under the Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF), he added.
 
Being committed to this objective, GIZ and MNRE will work on improving market mechanisms and regulations for integration of Renewable Energies; advancing technical and institutional conditions in specified target states, regions and on a national level, the release said.
 
It will also add human capacities to handle systemic (strategic, managerial, financial, technical) renewable energies integration in an efficient and effective manner.
 
The IGEN-GEC programme is commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and jointly implemented by Ministry of New and Renewable Resources (MNRE), and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
 
This programme component supports the implementation of the Renewable Energy Management Centre (REMCs), Green Energy Corridors scheme of the Union Government which is a prerequisite for large scale grid integration of renewable energy thus contributing to achieving the 175 GW target for renewable energy generation capacity by 2022, the release added.
 
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Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 51.04/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 $ 51.04 per barrel (bbl) on August 25 from $ 50.94 per bbl on the previous day.
 
An official press release said that, in rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3270.01 per bbl on 25.08.2017 as compared to Rs. 3263.84 per bbl on 24.08.2017.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 1975 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 1975 crore across various business segment, including contracts worth Rs. 1331 crore bagged by its Power Transmission & Distribution Business in the domestic and international markets.
 
A press release from the company said these included orders secured across the Middle East for turnkey construction of various 132/11kV & 33/11kV sub-stations and 132kV cable feeders. These primary electrical power sub-stations and associated HV cable feeders are crucial elements in providing integrated infrastructure for spurring industrial growth.
 
In the domestic market, a rural electrification contract has been won from Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited (JBVNL) under the Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY). The scope involves design, engineering, supply, erection and commissioning of 33/11kV substations, 33kV, 11kV and LT lines, BPL connections, and so on for the the electrification of Deogarh district in Jharkhand, the release said.
 
Other business segments of L&T construction have won orders worth Rs. 644 crores. An order has been secured from a prestigious government client to construct a Convention Center in Ranchi, Jharkhand. Another engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) order has been bagged from Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company Ltd. for design, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of track works for the Ahmedabad Metro Rail Project Phase-1, it added.
 
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Kharif crops sowing crosses 1013 lakh hectares: Govt.

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Sowing of Kharif crops in the country has crossed 1013.83 lakh hectres (ha) as on August 25, as compared to 1019.60 lakh ha at this time of the season last year, an official statement said here, quoting reports from the States.
 
The statement said rice had been sown/transplanted in 358.28 lakh ha (as compared to 361.24 lakh ha at this time last year), pulses in 135.96 lakh ha (141.35 lakh ha) and coarse cereals in 178.85 lakh ha (182.61 lakh ha).
 
According to it, oilseeds have been sown in 164.24 lakh ha (178.66 lakh ha), sugarcane in 49.78 lakh ha (45.64 lakh ha), jute & mesta in 7.05 lakh ha (7.56 lakh ha) and cotton in 119.67 lakh  ha (102.54 lakh ha).
 
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Govt. sets up Task Force on Artificial Intelligence

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Commerce and Industry Minister  Nirmala Sitharaman  has constituted a Task Force on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for India’s Economic Transformation.
 
The Minister said that, with rapid development in the fields of information technology and hardware, the world is about to witness a fourth industrial revolution.
 
Driven by the power of big data, high computing capacity, artificial intelligence, and analytics, Industry 4.0 aims to digitise the manufacturing sector, she added.
 
The panel will comprise experts, academics, researchers and industry leaders and will explore possibilities to leverage AI for development across various fields, an official press release said.
 
The task force will submit concrete and implementable recommendations for government, industry and research institutions, it said.
 
The 18-member task force will have Dr. V. Kamakoti of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras as Chairperson and Joint Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, as Convener.
 
The other members of the task force are: Mr. Anuj Kapuria, High Tech RoboticSystemz Ltd.; Dr. Anurag Agarwal, Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology, CSIR; Dr. Ashish Dutta, IIT Kanpur; Ms. Ashwini Asokan, Mad Street Den, Chennai; Mr. Gautam Shroff, Vice President & Chief Scientist, TCS Innovation Labs, Tata Consultancy Services, Gurgaon; Mr. G. H. Rao, HCL Technology; Mr. G. Madhusudan, IIT Madras; Mr. G. V. N. Apparao, Ex-Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Cognizant; Ms. Komal Sharma Talwar, Founder, XLPAT; Mr. Kunal Nandwani, Founder & CEO, uTrade Solutions; Dr. Shantanu Chaudhary, IIT Delhi, Department of Electrical Engineering; Mr. Vijay Kumar Sankarapu, Founder & CEO, Arya.in; Mr. Ajay Kumar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & IT; Mr. Amandeep Gill, Ambassador/PR to CD, Geneva; Mr. K. Nagaraj Naidu, Joint Secretary (ITPO), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance; Dr. Aloke Mukherjee, DRDO; and Mr. Ravinder, Joint Secretary, DIPP, Ministry of Commerce & Industry
 
In addition to regular members, official participation from NITI Aayog, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Department of Science & Technology, UIDAI and DRDO will be requested, an official press release added.
 
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India's forex reserves dip by $ 211.1 million to $ 393.401 billion

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India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 211.1 million to $ 393.401 billion during the week ended August 18,, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had gone up by $ 163.8 million to $ 393.612 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that  foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had decreased by $ 208.1 million to $ 369.691 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 $ 19.943 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down by $1.2 million to $ 1.4975 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 1.8 million to $ 2.2696 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 50.94/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 $ 50.94 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 50.51 per bbl on the previous day.
 
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3263.84 per bbl on 24.08.2017 as compared to Rs. 3238.93 per bbl on 23.08.2017. 
 
The rupee closed stronger at Rs. 64.07 per US$ on 24.08.2017 as compared to Rs. 64.13 per US$ on 23.08.2017, it added.
 
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