ADVERTISEMENT

Mumbai

India's forex reserves rise by $ 63.7 million to $ 362.793 billion

ADVERTISEMENT
Reversing a two-week downtrend, India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 63.7 million to $ 362.793 billion in the week ended February 24, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had decreased by $ 56.8 million to $ 362.729 billion in 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 gone up by $ 63.4 million to $ 339.783 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 $ 19.248 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 0.1 million to $ 1.443 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 0.2 million to $ 2.317 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

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

ADVERTISEMENT
Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders valued at Rs. 2170 crore across its various business segments.
 
A press release from the company said these included orders worth Rs. 1169 crore secured by its Power Transmission & Distribution Business.
 
Consolidating its position in the sub-station segment of highest voltage level in Oman, the business has secured an order from Oman Electricity Transmission Company SAOC for turnkey construction of the 400/132 kV Qabel Grid Station and associated works, the release said.
 
The business has secured two more orders from customers for design, supply, construction and commissioning of five 132 kV sub-stations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
 
On the domestic front, the business has won a contract from West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. for strengthening the sub-transmission and distribution network in the urban area of Nadia district, West Bengal under the Integrated Power Development Scheme.
 
The release said Water & Effluent Treatment Business had won an order worth Rs. 360 crore. These include an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) order bagged from Rajasthan Urban Drinking Water Sewerage and Infrastructure Corporation Limited (RUDSICO), Government of Rajasthan, under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for the execution of a sewerage project with treatment facilities spread across three towns -- Bharatpur, Gangapur and Hindaun.
 
The scope includes constructing 354 km of sewerage network, providing more than 40,000 house connections and building eight sewage treatment plants of total capacity 24.75 million litres per day (MLD) using Sequential Batch Reactor (SBR) Technology.
 
The release said the company's Building & Factories Business had secured an order worth Rs. 320 crore from a client to construct commercial and residential towers in Mumbai. The scope of works include civil shell and core, and finishing works.
 
In addition to above, the business has secured additional orders worth Rs.  321 crore from existing clients across various business segments.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering wins Rs. 1100 crore contract from IOC

ADVERTISEMENT
L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering (LTHE), a wholly owned subsidiary of infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has bagged an onshore engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract from Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOC) worth around Rs. 1100 crores for setting up a 0.740 MMTPA Fluidised Cracking Unit (FCC) including LPG Treatment Facility at its Bongaigaon Refinery, Assam.
 
LTHE has won the contract through a competitive bidding process, in which reputed global EPC organisations also participated, a press release from the company said.
 
The scope of work under the contract covers extended basic engineering, detailed engineering, procurement, supply, transportation, storage, fabrication, inspection, construction, installation, testing, mechanical completion, pre-commissioning and commissioning of the unit, it said.
 
The process licensor for the Indmax unit is Lummus Technology Inc. For the LPG treatment unit, the process licensor is Merichem, USA. 
 
LTHE has the distinction of executing all Indmax FCC Units including IOC’s Guwahati and Paradip refineries, the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

INS Betwa on even keel, to be fully operational by April 2018

ADVERTISEMENT
INS Betwa, a P-16A Class frigate has been made upright by the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai and the salvage firm Resolve Marine, specially contracted for the operation. 
 
It may be recalled that the ship, which was undergoing major repairs, had keeled onto her side during her undocking on December 5, 2016.
 
An official press release said the salvage operations were progressed on a war footing and the initial stabilisation of the ship was achieved by December 29, 2016.
 
The complete salvage operation involving complex hydrodynamic calculations and rigging up of intricate measuring and monitoring systems was completed in less than two months, it said.
 
As the ship was undergoing major refit and mid-life up-gradation since April 2016, majority of the equipment/ machinery had already been removed for routine servicing/ replacement with upgraded equipment. 
 
"Indian Navy is confident that with in-house expertise and sustained efforts, the ship will be made fully operational by her scheduled date of refit completion i.e by April 2018," the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

OCare launches platform for dentists, insured patients

ADVERTISEMENT
Ocare, an independent Insurance Process as a Service (IPAAS) platform, has launched an integrated and improved website aiming to connect empanelled dentists and insured patients on a single digital platform.
“While insurance has been around for many years now, dental insurance is a new concept in India," Dr. NeerajSheth, founder & CEO, OCare, said.
 
"With low oral health in India and the growing costs of dental treatments, Dental Insurance is a must to maintain dental hygiene in the country. We aim to provide the best product coupled with a seamless engagement of a dentist with his patient," he said.
 
“Besides choosing OCare's wide list of empanelled dentists to take care of their dental needs, patients can access their dental history at any time they want. For dentists too, this is a boon as they will be able to better recommend a course of treatment based on their history,” added Ravi Kikan, COO, OCare.
 
A press release from OCare said the website had been designed to provide easy navigation and information flow for Ocare’s products and services for customers as well as dentists.
 
"Dental Insurance is a completely new concept and there are quite a few queries on what dental insurance is and how the entire process works right from when a patient enters the clinic, the dentist outlining their treatment plan to details of the claim reimbursement process. All these questions are answered in an easy 4-step process in the ‘How it Works section’ of the website," the release said.
 
Further questions about dentist empanelment, insurance coverage and turnaround time are answered in the Help/FAQ section to assist both prospective patients and dentists. The terms and condition section on the website clearly outlines the treatments covered, exclusions and costs.
 
Once a dentist registers with OCare, he can enter all the details related to his practice, treatment and costs. He can use the scheduler to manage his appointments and patients. Dentists will also use this platform to enter details related to the treatment plan, costs and sharing an OPG of the decayed tooth and the tooth post treatment. This also ensures all dental records are maintained digitally and can be accessed at any time, it said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Patients can use this platform to book appointments at a preferred dentist based on location and convenience. They can view their medical and treatment history and most importantly use it for their dental insurance claim process, it said.
 
According to the release, Ocare brings to patients dental insurance for the first time in India. It covers existing conditions, has no waiting period, offering a sum assured of Rs. 25,000 per annum covering dental treatments over a location independent dental network. 
 
"OCare offers a host of benefits for a nominal premium for Rs. 1699. OCare is currently offered as a group insurance to corporates, schools, colleges, and organizations with a member-strength of more than 50," it said.
 
Other product highlights include an oral hygiene kit, loyalty card with points redeemable for dental services and bi-annual dental check-ups.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Reliance Jio unveils Prime Membership programe for existing 100 million customers

Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL), a subidiary of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) on Tuesday announced the Jio Prime Membership programme for its existing 100 million-plus subscribers with a slew of benefits.

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani unveiling Reliance Jio's Prime Membership Programme in Mumbai on February 21, 2017.
Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani unveiling Reliance Jio's Prime Membership Programme in Mumbai on February 21, 2017.
Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL), a subidiary of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today announced the Jio Prime Membership programme for its existing 100 million-plus subscribers with a slew of benefits.
 
Announcing the programme, Mr. Ambani, the Chairman and Managing Director of RIL, said Jio Prime members would be able to enjoy the unlimited benefits of the existing Jio Happy New Year Offer for another full year , or till March 31, 2018, for a nominal one-time enrolment fee of Rs. 99 and an introductory price of Rs. 303 per month. This effectively works out to just Rs. 10 per day, he said.
 
He said the programme would enable Jio Prime members to enjoy the full bouquet of Jio's applications absolutely free till March 31, 2018, which translates to additional benefit worth over Rs. 10,000 for them.
 
In addition, there will be many other attractive deals and offers from both Jio and its partners that the Jio Prime Members will enjoy under this programme, he said.
 
Mr. Ambani said the programme will be available only for current Jio subscribers and those who sign up on or before March 31 this year. Enrolment will start from March 1 and remain open until March 31.
 
He said Jio would also offer other "Extreme Value Plans" to members, details of which they can see via the MyJio app and Jio.com.
 
"We are putting together a line-up of attractive deals and offers, from both Jio and its partners," he said.
 
"We are committed to returning your trust in us… and you can count on us to give you manifold more surprises in the coming days. As they say in Mumbai, 'Unlimited Maza, continue hoynga'," he said.
 
Mr. Ambani said subscribers can enrol for the membership through the MyJio app, or the jio.com website or at any Jio or Jio partner store.
 
"This is a limited time opportunity that we are launching only for our existing customers, and I invite all of you to enroll at the earliest," he said.
 
"Customers will also enjoy a completely digital recharge and billing experience to provide further convenience and ease of usage," he added.
 
Mr. Ambani said RJIL had enrolled 100 million subscribers in just 170 days after launching its services on September 5, 2016. This meant that it added seven new members per second every single day for the last 170 days.
 
This is the fastest achieved by any start-up technology company in the world including the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype, he said.
 
He said a Jio SIM card today resides in the SIM slot of a majority of 4G smartphones in India. Further, Jio’s proprietory app ‘Jio4GVoice’ and its utilitarian Jiofy Wifi devices are enabling lakhs of 3G and 2G smartphone owners to enjoy a 4G voice and data environment without having to invest in a new handset. 
 
"A series of similarly thoughtful, customer-oriented solutions and applications have helped create a unique digital life experience for Indian consumers and added to the excitement for the Jio offering," he said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Mr. Ambani said Jio users today make more than 200 crore minutes of voice and video calls every day. They also consumed more than 100 crore GB of data on the Jio network, which worked out to more than 3.3 crore GB of data a day.
 
"Remember, before Jio, India was 150th in the world in broadband  netration...Today, India is the number one country in the world for mobile data usage. Jio users as much mobile data as the entire United States of America, and nearly 50% more mobile data than all of China," he said.
 
Mr. Ambani said a significant portion of this data is consumed as video, and Jio carries nearly 5.5 crore hours of video dail on its network, making it one of the largest mobile video networks in the world.
 
Speaking about the Jio infrastructure, he said it alread had more than twice the number of 4G base stations compared with all the other Indian operators put together. "In the coming months, we will more than double our data capacity… and this means even better quality for our customers. By the end of 2017, the Jio network will be present in nearly all the cities, towns and villages of India and cover 99% of our country’s population," he said.
 
He said lakhs of customers had moved to Jio fro other networks, using the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) facility and the trend is increasing every day.
 
"Data is the oxygen of Digital Life and it is our promise that Jio will provide world-class quality and quantity of data, at prices that are affordable to all Indians. It is our credo that while we are the best today… we will strive to be better tomorrow," he said.
 
Noting that the company's Happy New Year Offer was drawing to a close on March 31, he said Jio would start offering its traffic plans from April 1. "On all of Jio’s tariff plans, all domestic voice calls to any network will always remain free. Across India. To any network. Always. And no roaming charges, no blackout days and no hidden charges," he said.
 
"n the last few months, hundreds of offers have been launched by the industry. These plans have created a lot of confusion in the market… and customers are having what I call Data and Value Anxiety .. whether they are getting the best value for the price that they are paying. So, we have decided to do something that will remove this confusion once and for all.
 
"Jio is instituting a comprehensive process of monitoring all publicly announced plans from all operators… across the country… on a regular basis. And we will not only match the highest selling tariffs of each of the other leading Indian telecom operators… but we will provide 20% more data in each of these plans," he said.
 
Mr. Ambani described the company's 100 million initial customers as the "first believers in Jio".
 
"Today is the day for me to show my gratitude to you… to ensure that you always continue to get extreme value with Jio," he added, as he unveiled details of the Jio Membership programme.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Reliance Jio, Uber announce strategic partnership for digital push

ADVERTISEMENT
Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL), a subsidiary of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and ride sharing app Uber today announced a strategic partnership aimed at bringing the benefits of the Jio Digital Life ecosystem to their users.
 
As part of the partnership, Jio and Uber will work together and explore various opportunities to progressively enrich and enhance the Digital Life experience of their users through complementary programmes, a press release from Jio said.
 
"Today JioMoney, the PPI wallet offered by Reliance Payment Solutions Ltd, and Uber announced an agreement that will enable Uber riders to pay for their rides using JioMoney and thereby enhance the digital transaction ecosystem in India. Similarly, JioMoney users will soon be able to request and pay for Uber rides from within the JioMoney app. The partnership will give a major boost to cash-free payments in India and provide mobility options to millions of Jio users," it said.
 
According to the release, starting today, Uber will gradually roll out the JioMoney payment option for its users across the country. This integration provides a hassle-free payment experience to Uber riders and will be an added avenue for digital transactions for JioMoney’s rapidly growing user-base across India, it said.
 
Mr. Anirban S Mukherjee, Business Head, JioMoney said, “Jio aims to bring the benefits of evolving digital technologies to every Indian through an entire ecosystem that will allow Indians to live Digital Life to the fullest. JioMoney is an integral part of the Jio ecosystem and is fast emerging as a preferred option for digital transactions due to its ease of use, intuitive interface and growing acceptability. JioMoney’s integration with Uber will power the rapid migration of many more Uber transactions to the digital platform.”
 
Mr. Madhu Kannan, Chief Business Officer, India and Emerging Markets for Uber said: “We are delighted to partner with Reliance Jio to unlock synergies across two of the largest user bases in India. Digital payments have become part of our everyday lives and by integrating JioMoney as a payment option, our riders will have the ability to use a familiar and consistent payment experience. Through this strategic partnership we are looking to fast forward to digital solutions at scale for the Indian users.”
 
To mark the association, JioMoney and Uber will offer incentives to every user paying for Uber rides through JioMoney. The users of JioMoney will enjoy the hassle free payment experience of JioMoney at multiple avenues along with attractive offers and coupons available through JioMoney app, the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

India's forex reserves dip by $ 360.9 million to $ 362.786 billion

ADVERTISEMENT
Reversing a four-week uptrend, India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 360.9 million to $ 362.786 billion in the week ended February 10, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had soared by $ 1.589 billion to $ 363.147 billion in 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 gone up by $ 347.1 million to $ 339.779 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 $ 19.248 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down $ 5.3 million to $ 1.442 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 8.5 million to $ 2.316 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
NNN
 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Pop sensation Justin Bieber to bring Purpose tour to India in May

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber
Global pop sensation and Grammy award winner Justin Bieber will bring his Purpose world tour to India in May this year, the promoters of the event announced here today.
 
"The wait is finally over and Beliebers can rejoice! It is officially confirmed – Grammy award winner and global pop sensation Justin Bieber is making his way to the India sub-continent this summer," a press release from White Fox India said.
 
"This highly anticipated event will be the biggest live music act witnessed in recent times in India and will further strengthen India’s position on the global music map," it said.
 
White Fox, the sole promoters of the tour, confirmed that, after a week of speculation and uncertainty, they would bringing the 22-year-old Canadian megastar's Purpose World Tour to the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on May 10.
 
The tour is in support of Bieber's fourth album, the critically acclaimed Purpose, in which he has experimented with more exploratory electronic sounds. Apart from India, the Asia leg of the tour comprises Tel Aviv in Israel and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the release said.
 
Purpose, which is Bieber's fourth studio album, debuted at number 1 in over a hundred countries and has sold over eight million copies worldwide.
 
"Bieber is without a doubt one of the most successful pop stars in the world today with a recent world tour imbibing sold out dates across countries," the release said.
 
The release said concert goers can pre-register for tickets at Book My Show for the event. Tickets will go on sale on February 22 and will be priced at Rs. 4000 upwards, it said.
 
 "Concert goers can look forward to a set list that will surely comprise worldwide smash hits including Where Are Ü Now, Boyfriend, Love Yourself, Company, As Long As You Love Me, What Do You Mean?, Baby, Purpose, Encore: Sorry amongst others," it said.
 
Mr. Arjun Jain, Director, White Fox India said, "Justin Bieber is the biggest artiste of our time and attracts a universal fanbase across all ages. This tour is one of the most successful in the world at the moment and will further enhance India’s current cultural repertoire. Justin Bieber will be bringing an extraordinarily epic show propelled by state-of-the-art production and of a magnitude that the country has not witnessed in recent times. There are few artistes who warrant such a dedicated fan base as Justin Bieber. He enjoys a more than 80% dedicated fan following in India and we envisage one of the biggest live events of the year."
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"We are expecting a full house on May 10 with one of the biggest arena tours witnessed in recent times. This tour will place India on the global map and open up avenues for other artists of similar stature who may want to consider India as part of their touring roster," he said.
 
The Purpose World Tour has already mesmerized fans and critics alike across the United States, Canada and Japan last year and will tour throughout Europe before landing in Australia and New Zealand this year. 
 
"With more than 100 huge shows on the tour and close to a million ticket sales globally, there is no doubt that Bieber is at the top of his game with this tour," the release said.
 
Purpose is Justin Bieber's first album in two years. Right after its release, Purpose was the most streamed album on Spotify in one week with What Do You Mean as the most played song. The record sold more than 640,000 copies in less than a week.
 
Justin Bieber also holds the record for the highest most Twitter followers for any male user. He also has the highest number of YouTube subscribers for any male singer and became the first artiste to reach 10 billion views on YouTube in 2016. Bieber released his first album "My World 2.0" co-produced by the rapper Usher in 2009 at the age of 14. His single "Baby’" brought the star worldwide recognition and made him the most viewed artist with 4.1 billion views on YouTube. Earlier this fall, Bieber’s hit "Sorry" grabbed 10 million YouTube views in less than 24 hours. Apart from winning at the Grammy Awards, Justin Bieber also has eight new Guinness world records to his credit.
 
He won the Grammy for Best Dance Recording for Where Are You Now in 2016. He had also made headlines for the first ever singer to have seven songs from a debut album to feature on the Billboard Hot 100. Beiber also recently broke the Beatles' 1964 record by topping the American Billboard 17 times.
 
NNN
 
 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

L&T, MBDA establish joint venture for development of missile systems

ADVERTISEMENT
Infrastructure, engineering and defence major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said it had established a joint venture with MBDA, a world leader in missile systems, to develop and supply missiles and missile systems to meet the growing potential requirements of the Indian Armed Forces.
 
The joint venture is in recognition of the "path-breaking initiatives" of the Government of India to promote indigenisation of the defence sector under the Make in India campaign, a press release from the company said.
 
The joint venture company, named ‘L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd’, will operate from a dedicated work centre, which will include pyrotechnical integration and final checkout facilities. It is expected to be incorporated in the first half of 2017 after necessary approvals, the release said.
 
The release said L&T would own 51% of the company and MBDA, 49%, fully complying with India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) policy norms. The JV will be registered in India and conduct business as an Indian company, subject to Indian laws, it said.
 
The JV would focus on business opportunities in the Missiles and Missile Systems domain and target prospects under the Buy (Indian – IDDM), Buy (Indian) and Buy & Make (Indian) categories of Defence Procurement.
 
"The decision to formalise this partnership, a key milestone for both L&T and MBDA in their long term relationship, was made after extensive evaluation and identifying the strong synergy between the two organisations. L&T and MBDA have collaborated and partnered on co-development and production of major subsystems involving complex technologies and sophisticated weapon systems such as MICA missile launchers and airframe segments including control actuation units for Indian MoD orders," it said.
 
"Having developed a strong working relationship and built mutual trust, L&T and MBDA are convinced that it is the right time for the relationship to mature in to a JV, given the conducive policy environment in the defence sector in India. Both JV partners have a proven track record as trusted suppliers to the Indian Armed Forces - providing critical weapon systems and defence solutions across land, sea and air domains," it said.
 
The release said that, to begin with, the JV company will look to develop and supply fifth generation Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM5s), missiles for coastal batteries and high speed target drones.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
According to it, L&T has been delivering a range of launch systems, fire control systems and airframes / sub-systems for various indigenous weapon (Missile / Rockets / Torpedo) programmes as development partners and production agency to DRDO and DPSUs. 
 
"By combining our manufacturing and system integration capabilities and track record with MBDA’s technological excellence, we now look forward to delivering complete Missile Systems, hitherto imported, to meet the requirements of the Indian armed forces as required under DPP 2016," it said.
 
Mr. A M Naik, the Group Executive Chairman of L&T, said, “We have been trusted partners to DRDO and the Indian Navy, delivering complete weapon systems and platforms, command control and sensor systems, designed, developed and manufactured in India for over three decades. Over this period, we have worked closely with Ministry of Defence, and its different arms in jointly developing and delivering cutting-edge defence solutions."
 
Mr. Antoine Bouvier, Chief Executive Officer, MBDA, said: “Our business strategy in India has always focused on forming partnerships at the deepest level, not just with the armed forces but also with Indian industry. This has seen us involved in the transfer of technology and the production of products and components with the state-owned DPSUs (Defence Public Sector Undertakings) and also with the establishment of very close partnerships with the Indian private sector including large companies and SMEs. The setting up of this JV is a natural progression of our partnership strategy. With L&T, I am convinced that we have found the ideal Indian partner."
 
MBDA is jointly held by Airbus Group (37.5%), BAE Systems and Leonardo (25%).
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Second Gateway of India Geoeconomic Dialogue to be held in Mumbai on February 13-14

ADVERTISEMENT
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will co-host the Second Gateway of India Geoeconomic Dialogue with Gateway House on February 13-14 in Mumbai
 
The dialogue is India's premier geoeconomics conference on the theme "Where Geopolitics meets Business" focussed on building synergies between business and foreign policy. 
 
The conference will feature an inaugural dialogue where Minister of State for External Affairs M. J. Akbar will be in conversation with his Bangladesh counterpart Mohammed Shahriar Alam. 
 
There will also be keynote addresses by Mr. Yves Leterme, former Prime Minister of Belgium, and Secretary General, International IDEA; and, by Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology.
 
On February 14, Dr. S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary, will be in conversation with Dr. C. Rajamohan, Director, Carnegie India. Other highlights for that day include a Power Dialogue with Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of Power, and panel discussions covering topics like Sovereign Funds, Global Taxation, Digital Economy, Indo-Pacific, India’s Defence-Industrial Base, a press release from the MEA added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

India's forex reserves soar by $ 1.589 billion to $ 363.147 billion

ADVERTISEMENT
Continuing an uptrend for the fourth consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 1.589 billion to $ 363.147 billion in the week ended February 3, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had gone up by $ 782.7 million to $ 361.558 billion in 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 gone up by $ 914.7 million to $ 340.126 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 rose by $ 664.3 million to $ 19.248 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 3.8  million to $ 1.448 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 6 million to $ 2.324 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

RBI decides to remove cash withdrawal limits from savings bank accounts in two stages

ADVERTISEMENT
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today said the restrictions on cash withdrawals from savings bank accounts, including accounts opened under Pradhan Mantra Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) in a two-step process.
 
Effective February 20, 2017, the limits on cash withdrawals from the savings bank accounts will be enhanced to Rs. 50,000 per week (from the current limit of Rs. 24,000 per week, a notification sent by the RBI to all banks today said.
 
Effective March 13, 2017, there will be no limits on cash withdrawals from savings bank accounts, it added.
 
The RBI had placed some restrictions on cash withdrawals from ATMs and banks in the wake of the November 8, 2016 demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bank notes. The restrictions have been gradually eased in the past few weeks.
 
The notification said this decision was taken in line with the pace of remonetisation.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Full Text: RBI's Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2016-17

RBI logo
 
Following is the text of the Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2016-17 and Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued here today:
 
On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation at its meeting today, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to:
 
keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.25 per cent.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains unchanged at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.75 per cent.
 
The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving consumer price index (CPI) inflation at 5 per cent by Q4 of 2016-17 and the medium-term target of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth. The main considerations underlying the decision are set out in the statement below.
 
Assessment
 
2. Global growth is projected to pick up modestly in 2017, after slowing down in the year gone by. Advanced economies (AEs) are expected to build upon the slow gathering of momentum that started in the second half of 2016, led by the US and Japan. However, uncertainty surrounds the direction of US macroeconomic policies with potential global spillovers. Growth prospects for emerging market economies (EMEs) are also expected to improve moderately, with recessionary conditions ebbing in Russia and Brazil, and China stabilising on policy stimulus. Inflation is edging up on the back of rising energy prices and a mild firming up of demand. However, global trade remains subdued due to an increasing tendency towards protectionist policies and heightened political tensions. Furthermore, financial conditions are likely to tighten as central banks in AEs normalise exceptional accommodation in monetary policy.
 
3. International financial markets turned volatile from mid-January on concerns regarding the ‘Brexit’ roadmap and materialisation of expectations about economic policies of the new US administration. Within the rising profile of international commodity prices, crude oil prices firmed up with the OPEC’s agreement to curtail production. Prices of base metals have also increased on expectations of fiscal stimulus in the US, strong infrastructure spending in China, and supply reductions. Geopolitical concerns have also hardened commodity prices. More recently, the appetite for risk has returned in AEs, buoying equity markets and hardening bond yields as a response to the growing likelihood of further increases in the Federal Funds rate during the year. Coupled with expectations of fiscal expansion in the US, this has propelled the US dollar to a multi-year high.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
4. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) released its advance estimates for 2016-17 on January 6, placing India’s real GVA growth at 7.0 per cent for the year, down from 7.8 per cent (first revised estimates released on January 31) a year ago. Agriculture and allied activities posted a strong pick-up, benefiting from the normal south-west monsoon, robust expansion in rabi acreage (higher by 5.7 per cent over the preceding year) and favourable base effects as well as the continuing resilience of allied activities. In contrast, the industrial sector experienced a sharp deceleration, mainly due to a slowdown in manufacturing and in mining and quarrying. Service sector activity also lost pace, concentrated in trade, hotels, transport and communication services, and construction, cushioned to some extent by public administration and defence.
 
5. Industrial output measured by the index of industrial production (IIP) finally shrugged off the debilitating drag from insulated rubber cables from November and was also pushed up by a favourable base effect. In December, the output of core industries accelerated on a year-on-year as well as on a sequentially seasonally adjusted basis. The drivers of the upturn were steel production and petroleum refinery throughput, the former, inter alia, supported by import tariff safeguards and the latter buoyed by external demand. The acceleration in coal production and thermal electricity generation since November after three consecutive months of contraction augur well for the outlook for power. Reflecting these developments, the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) returned to expansion mode in January on the back of growth of new orders and output, and the future output index has risen strongly. On the other hand, the 76th round of the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey suggests that financing conditions facing the manufacturing sector have worsened in Q3 of 2016-17 and are expected to remain tight in Q4. This is corroborated by the sharp slowdown in bank credit to industry and continuing sluggishness in the investment climate in some sectors.
 
6. High frequency indicators point to subdued activity in the services sector, particularly automobile sales across all segments, domestic air cargo, railway freight traffic, and cement production. Nevertheless, some areas stand out as bright spots, having weathered the transient effects of demonetisation – steel consumption; port traffic; international air freight; foreign tourist arrivals; tractor sales; and, cellular telephone subscribers. The services PMI for January 2017 remained in retrenchment, but the fall in output was the least in the current phase of three consecutive months of contraction.
 
7. Marking the fifth consecutive month of softening, retail inflation measured by the headline consumer price index (CPI) turned down sharper than expected in December and reached its lowest reading since November 2014. This outcome was driven by deflation in the prices of vegetables and pulses. Some moderation in the rate of increase in prices of protein-rich items – eggs, meat and fish – also aided the downturn in food inflation.
 
8. Excluding food and fuel, inflation has been unyielding at 4.9 per cent since September. While some part of this inertial behaviour is attributable to the turnaround in international crude prices since October – which fed into prices of petrol and diesel embedded in transport and communication – a broad-based stickiness is discernible in inflation, particularly in housing, health, education, personal care and effects (excluding gold and silver) as well as miscellaneous goods and services consumed by households.
 
9. The large overhang of liquidity consequent upon demonetisation weighed on money markets in December, but from mid-January rebalancing has been underway with expansion of currency in circulation and new bank notes being injected into the system at an accelerated pace. Throughout this period, the Reserve Bank’s market operations have been in liquidity absorption mode. With the abolition of the incremental cash reserve ratio from December 10, liquidity management operations have consisted of variable rate reverse repos under the LAF of tenors ranging from overnight to 91 days and auctions of cash management bills under the market stabilisation scheme (MSS) of tenors ranging from 14 to 63 days. The average daily net absorption under the LAF was Rs. 1.6 trillion in December, Rs. 2.0 trillion in January and Rs. 3.7 trillion in February (up to February 7) while under the MSS, it was Rs. 3.8 trillion, Rs. 5.0 trillion and Rs.  2.9 trillion, respectively. Money market rates remained aligned with the policy repo rate albeit with a soft bias, with the weighted average call money rate (WACR) averaging 18 basis points below the policy rate during December and January.
 
10. Turning to the external sector, export growth remained in the positive zone for the fourth month in succession in December. Imports other than petroleum oil and lubricants (POL) came out of the spike in November and moderated in December. In contrast, there was an increase of over 10 per cent in POL imports, in part reflecting the rise in international crude oil prices. Overall, the trade deficit shrank both sequentially and on a year-on-year basis, being lower for the period April-December by US$ 23.5 billion than its level a year ago. On the whole, the current account deficit is likely to remain muted and below 1 per cent of GDP in 2016-17. While the buoyancy in net foreign direct investment was sustained, there have been portfolio outflows beginning October on uncertainty relating to the direction of US macroeconomic policies and expectations of faster normalisation of US monetary policy in the year ahead. Foreign exchange reserves were at US$ 363.1 billion on February 3, 2017.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Outlook
 
11. In the fifth bi-monthly statement of December, headline inflation was projected at 5 per cent in Q4 of 2016-17 with risks lower than before but still tilted to the upside. The decline in headline CPI inflation in November and December has been larger than expected, but almost exclusively on the back of deflation in vegetables and pulses. While the seasonal ebb in the prices of vegetables that usually occurs with the onset of winter as well as some demand compression may have contributed to this outcome, anecdotal evidence points to some distress sales of perishables having accentuated the decline in vegetable prices, with spillovers into January as well. Looking beyond, prices of pulses are likely to remain soft with comfortable supply conditions, while vegetable prices may potentially rebound as the effects of demonetisation wear off.
 
12. The Committee is of the view that the persistence of inflation excluding food and fuel could set a floor on further downward movements in headline inflation and trigger second-order effects. Nevertheless, headline CPI inflation in Q4 of 2016-17 is likely to be below 5 per cent. Favourable base effects and lagged effects of demand compression may mute headline inflation in Q1 of 2017-18. Thereafter, it is expected to pick up momentum, especially as growth picks up and the output gap narrows. Moreover, base effects will reverse and turn adverse during Q3 and Q4 of 2017-18. Accordingly, inflation is projected in the range of 4.0 to 4.5 per cent in the first half of the financial year and in the range of 4.5 to 5.0 per cent in the second half with risks evenly balanced around this projected path. In this context, it is important to note three significant upside risks that impart some uncertainty to the baseline inflation path – the hardening profile of international crude prices; volatility in the exchange rate on account of global financial market developments, which could impart upside pressures to domestic inflation; and the fuller effects of the house rent allowances under the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) award which have not been factored in the baseline inflation path. The focus of the Union budget on growth revival without compromising on fiscal prudence should bode well for limiting upside risks to inflation.
 
13. GVA growth for 2016-17 is projected at 6.9 per cent with risks evenly balanced around it. Growth is expected to recover sharply in 2017-18 on account of several factors. First, discretionary consumer demand held back by demonetisation is expected to bounce back beginning in the closing months of 2016-17. Second, economic activity in cash-intensive sectors such as retail trade, hotels and restaurants, and transportation, as well as in the unorganised sector, is expected to be rapidly restored. Third, demonetisation-induced ease in bank funding conditions has led to a sharp improvement in transmission of past policy rate reductions into marginal cost-based lending rates (MCLRs), and in turn, to lending rates for healthy borrowers, which should spur a pick-up in both consumption and investment demand. Fourth, the emphasis in the Union Budget for 2017-18 on stepping up capital expenditure, and boosting the rural economy and affordable housing should contribute to growth. Accordingly, GVA growth for 2017-18 is projected at 7.4 per cent, with risks evenly balanced.
 
14. The Committee remains committed to bringing headline inflation closer to 4.0 per cent on a durable basis and in a calibrated manner. This requires further significant decline in inflation expectations, especially since the services component of inflation that is sensitive to wage movements has been sticky. The committee decided to change the stance from accommodative to neutral while keeping the policy rate on hold to assess how the transitory effects of demonetisation on inflation and the output gap play out.
 
15. The Reserve Bank has conducted market liquidity operations consistent with the liquidity management framework put in place in April 2016, progressively moving the system level ex ante liquidity conditions to close to neutrality. This stance will continue. Surplus liquidity should decline with progressive remonetisation. Nonetheless, the currently abundant liquidity with banks is likely to persist into the early months of 2017-18. The Reserve Bank is committed to ensuring efficient and appropriate liquidity management with all the instruments at its command to ensure close alignment of the WACR with the policy rate, improved transmission of policy impulses to lending rates, and adequate flow of credit to productive sectors of the economy.
 
16. The Committee believes that the environment for timely transmission of policy rates to banks lending rates will be considerably improved if (i) the banking sector’s non-performing assets (NPAs) are resolved more quickly and efficiently; (ii) recapitalisation of the banking sector is hastened; and, (iii) the formula for adjustments in the interest rates on small savings schemes to changes in yields on government securities of corresponding maturity is fully implemented.
 
17. Six members voted in favour of the monetary policy decision. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by February 22, 2017.
 
18. The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled on April 5 and 6, 2017.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.25%, says committed to bringing inflation closer to 4%

 
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today decided to keep the key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment (LAF) unchanged at 6.25 percent.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains unchanged at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.75 per cent, a resolution adopted by the MPC at its meeting here today.
 
In its Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2016-17, the RBI said the decision of the MPC was consistent with a neutral stance of monetary  policy in consonance with the objective of achieving consumer price index (CPI) inflation at 5 per cent by Q4 of 2016-17 and the medium-term target of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth.
 
The resolution said the committee remained committed to bringing headline inflation closer to 4.0 per cent on a durable basis and in a calibrated manner. 
 
"This requires further significant decline in inflation expectations, especially since the services component of inflation that is sensitive to wage movements has been sticky. The committee decided to change the stance from accommodative to neutral while keeping the policy rate on hold to assess how the transitory effects of demonetisation on inflation and the output gap play out," it said.
 
The statement said the RBI had conducted market liquidity operations consistent with the liquidity management framework put in place in April 2016, progressively moving the system level ex ante liquidity conditions to close to neutrality. 
 
"This stance will continue. Surplus liquidity should decline with progressive remonetisation. Nonetheless, the currently abundant liquidity with banks is likely to persist into the early months of 2017-18. The Reserve Bank is committed to ensuring efficient and appropriate liquidity management with all the instruments at its command to ensure close alignment of the WACR with the policy rate, improved transmission of policy impulses to lending rates, and adequate flow of credit to productive sectors of the economy.
 
"The Committee believes that the environment for timely transmission of policy rates to banks lending rates will be considerably improved if (i) the banking sector’s non-performing assets (NPAs) are resolved more quickly and efficiently; (ii) recapitalisation of the banking sector is hastened; and, (iii) the formula for adjustments in the interest rates on small savings schemes to changes in yields on government securities of corresponding maturity is fully implemented," it said.
 
According to the statement, six members voted in favour of the monetary policy decision. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by February 22, it said.
 
Setting out the main considerations underlying the decision, the statement said global growth was projected to pick up modestly in 2017, after slowing down in the year gone by. 
 
"Advanced economies (AEs) are expected to build upon the slow gathering of momentum that started in the second half of 2016, led by the US and Japan. However, uncertainty surrounds the direction of US macroeconomic policies with potential global spillovers. Growth prospects for emerging market economies (EMEs) are also expected to improve moderately, with recessionary conditions ebbing in Russia and Brazil, and China stabilising on policy stimulus," it said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
The statement said inflation was edging up on the back of rising energy prices and a mild firming up of demand. However, global trade remains subdued due to an increasing tendency towards protectionist policies and heightened political tensions. Furthermore, financial conditions are likely to tighten as central banks in AEs normalise exceptional accommodation in monetary policy.
 
The MPC noted that the Central Statistics Office (CSO), in its advance estimates for 2016-17, placed India’s real GVA growth at 7.0% for the year, down from 7.8% a year ago.
 
"Agriculture and allied activities posted a strong pick-up, benefiting from the normal south-west monsoon, robust expansion in rabi acreage (higher by 5.7% over the preceding year) and favourable base effects as well as the continuing resilience of allied activities. In contrast, the industrial sector experienced a sharp deceleration, mainly due to a slowdown in manufacturing and in mining and quarrying. Service sector activity also lost pace, concentrated in trade, hotels, transport and communication services, and construction, cushioned to some extent by public administration and defence," it said.
 
The statement said that, marking the fifth consecutive month of softening, retail inflation measured by the headline consumer price index (CPI) turned down sharper than expected in December and reached its lowest reading since November 2014. 
 
Excluding food and fuel, inflation has been unyielding at 4.9 per cent since September, it said.
 
"While some part of this inertial behaviour is attributable to the turnaround in international crude prices since October – which fed into prices of petrol and diesel embedded in transport and communication – a broad-based stickiness is discernible in inflation, particularly in housing, health, education, personal care and effects (excluding gold and silver) as well as miscellaneous goods and services consumed by households.
 
"The large overhang of liquidity consequent upon demonetisation weighed on money markets in December, but from mid-January rebalancing has been underway with expansion of currency in circulation and new bank notes being injected into the system at an accelerated pace. Throughout this period, the Reserve Bank’s market operations have been in liquidity absorption mode. With the abolition of the incremental cash reserve ratio from December 10, liquidity management operations have consisted of variable rate reverse repos under the LAF of tenors ranging from overnight to 91 days and auctions of cash management bills under the market stabilisation scheme (MSS) of tenors ranging from 14 to 63 days. 
 
"The average daily net absorption under the LAF was ? 1.6 trillion in December, ? 2.0 trillion in January and ? 3.7 trillion in February (up to February 7) while under the MSS, it was ? 3.8 trillion, ? 5.0 trillion and ? 2.9 trillion, respectively. Money market rates remained aligned with the policy repo rate albeit with a soft bias, with the weighted average call money rate (WACR) averaging 18 basis points below the policy rate during December and January," it said.
 
The resolution said export growth remained in the positive zone for the fourth month in succession in December. Imports other than petroleum oil and lubricants (POL) came out of the spike in November and moderated in December. In contrast, there was an increase of over 10 per cent in POL imports, in part reflecting the rise in international crude oil prices. Overall, the trade deficit shrank both sequentially and on a year-on-year basis, being lower for the period April-December by US$ 23.5 billion than its level a year ago.
 
"On the whole, the current account deficit is likely to remain muted and below 1 per cent of GDP in 2016-17. While the buoyancy in net foreign direct investment was sustained, there have been portfolio outflows beginning October on uncertainty relating to the direction of US macroeconomic policies and expectations of faster normalisation of US monetary policy in the year ahead. Foreign exchange reserves were at US$ 363.1 billion on February 3, 2017," it said.
 
The MPC noted that, in the fifth bi-monthly statement of December, headline inflation was projected at 5% in Q4 of 2016-17 with risks lower than before but still tilted to the upside. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"The decline in headline CPI inflation in November and December has been larger than expected, but almost exclusively on the back of deflation in vegetables and pulses. While the seasonal ebb in the prices of vegetables that usually occurs with the onset of winter as well as some demand compression may have contributed to this outcome, anecdotal evidence points to some distress sales of perishables having accentuated the decline in vegetable prices, with spillovers into January as well. Looking beyond, prices of pulses are likely to remain soft with comfortable supply conditions, while vegetable prices may potentially rebound as the effects of demonetisation wear off.
 
"The Committee is of the view that the persistence of inflation excluding food and fuel could set a floor on further downward movements in headline inflation and trigger second-order effects. Nevertheless, headline CPI inflation in Q4 of 2016-17 is likely to be below 5 per cent. Favourable base effects and lagged effects of demand compression may mute headline inflation in Q1 of 2017-18. Thereafter, it is expected to pick up momentum, especially as growth picks up and the output gap narrows. Moreover, base effects will reverse and turn adverse during Q3 and Q4 of 2017-18. 
 
"Accordingly, inflation is projected in the range of 4.0 to 4.5 per cent in the first half of the financial year and in the range of 4.5 to 5.0 per cent in the second half with risks evenly balanced around this projected path. 
 
"In this context, it is important to note three significant upside risks that impart some uncertainty to the baseline inflation path – the hardening profile of international crude prices; volatility in the exchange rate on account of global financial market developments, which could impart upside pressures to domestic inflation; and the fuller effects of the house rent allowances under the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) award which have not been factored in the baseline inflation path. The focus of the Union budget on growth revival without compromising on fiscal prudence should bode well for limiting upside risks to inflation," it said.
 
The statement said GVA growth for 2016-17 was projected at 6.9% with risks evenly balanced around it. 
 
"Growth is expected to recover sharply in 2017-18 on account of several factors. First, discretionary consumer demand held back by demonetisation is expected to bounce back beginning in the closing months of 2016-17. Second, economic activity in cash-intensive sectors such as retail trade, hotels and restaurants, and transportation, as well as in the unorganised sector, is expected to be rapidly restored. Third, demonetisation-induced ease in bank funding conditions has led to a sharp improvement in transmission of past policy rate reductions into marginal cost-based lending rates (MCLRs), and in turn, to lending rates for healthy borrowers, which should spur a pick-up in both consumption and investment demand. Fourth, the emphasis in the Union Budget for 2017-18 on stepping up capital expenditure, and boosting the rural economy and affordable housing should contribute to growth. Accordingly, GVA growth for 2017-18 is projected at 7.4 per cent, with risks evenly balanced," it added.
 
The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled on April 5 and 6, 2017.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Reliance Jio says Airtel statement on provisioning of POI capacity "misleading"

ADVERTISEMENT
Newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL) today described as "malicious and misleading" a statement by telecom services provider Bharti Airtel in which it had said that had provisioned adequate points of interconnect (PoI) capacity to RJIL.
 
"This latest statement is a continuation of Airtel’s ongoing mischievous and motivated campaign to divert attention from its anti-competitive and anti-consumer actions and violations of license conditions which are being investigated by the authorities," a statement from RJIL said.
 
The Mukesh Ambani-led RJIL said more than 2.6 crore NLD calls were still failing daily, amounting to 53.4% call failure (as on January 31) as against the TRAI norm of 0.5%. 
 
Earlier in the day, Airtel said it had provided a total of over 35,000 PoIs to RJIL in a record time of just five months. Of these,  27,719 PoIs - 79% of the total - had been dedicated for incoming calls from Jio customers, which is the highest amongst all operators, the Sunil Bharti Mittal-led company said.
 
Airtel also said the PoIs had been provided well above the customer growth projection provided to it by Jio. "The capacity provided is ideal for serving over 190 million customers on the Jio network and is more than double of the 72.5 million total customers currently claimed by Jio," it said.
 
"More importantly, the above mentioned capacity has been released at a staggering pace, something not seen before in the Indian telecom industry and is much more than comparable capacity provided by Airtel to other operators," it said.
 
Citing its own figures, RJIL, however, said the high NLD call failure rate of 53.4% was inspite of intervention by the authorities and censure proceedings against Airtel.
 
"There has always been a lag in POIs required and POIs provided by Airtel resulting in severe service issues for Indian customers," it said.
 
"There are no technical issues in the RJIL network as evident from the fact that call failures on access network have reduced from 59.1% to 0.6% (as on 31-Jan-2017) after Airtel was compelled to provide POIs post intervention by the authorities. Further, there are no call failures in Jio-to-Jio calls," it said.
 
"Airtel’s claim of having provided 35,000 POIs to Jio is misleading given that, in reality, it has not even done port allocation (first step of implementation) for over 1,100 of these PoIs. Airtel continues to issue demand notes for these PoIs to slow down the process, whereas no payment is due under the Interconnection Agreement. As has been repeatedly pointed out to Airtel, there has been no delay whatsoever in activating PoIs by RJIL. The reasons range from long delay in allocation of PoIs by Airtel, lack of media readiness of Airtel, use of electrical interfaces etc. There has been no delay from RJIL in activating the PoIs," the RJIL statement said.
 
The statement said Airtel had indulged in a "completely arbitrary comparison" of PoIs allocated to other operators as against those allocated to RJIL. 
 
"Traffic from no two operators will be alike and operators must not try to control the traffic from their customers. RJIL has passed on the benefits of a more efficient technology to its customers in the form of free voice services. Airtel did not invest in new technologies and is now trying to prevent customers from enjoying benefits of superior service offered by a new operator, while misleading customers and causing reputational damage to RJIL by claiming that there are technical issues in RJIL network. India’s telecom sector has tended to progress due to disruptive innovation brought in by newcomers, but unfortunately, Airtel is trying to block such initiatives," it said.
 
RJIL said Airtel’s insinuation that RJIL had not complied with TRAI’s tariff orders was "bizarre and defamatory considering that TRAI has already responded to its complaints by stating categorically that RJIL’s tariffs are compliant with the tariff orders of TRAI and other applicable regulations."
 
"Airtel’s statement that IUC regime assumes symmetric traffic is funny to say the least. If the traffic is symmetric, the earnings and payments towards IUC cancel out each other and there need not be any IUC charges. This is what has happened in most of the other markets. Further, Airtel’s cry for higher IUC stems from the inability to retain customers by providing telecom services at cheaper cost. Seemingly, Airtel wants other operators to subsidize its operations," it said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"Airtel is once again trying to portray that it has done a favour by providing PoIs to RJIL, whereas it may be noted that all operators have a mandatory and unconditional obligation under the license to provide adequate PoIs to all the other operators. This is irrespective of the traffic pattern and is not a favour to any operator," the RJIL statement added.
 
On its part, Airtel said that, ever since the commercial launch of services by Jio in September 2016, it had honoured its regulatory obligations and ensured that there were no capacity constraints from its end and customers were not inconvenienced. In fact, Airtel has been providing PoIs to Jio, well ahead of the commencement of its commercial operations, it said.
 
"It, therefore, appears that the constant rhetoric by Jio with regard to PoIs is aimed at covering up technical issues in their own network or their inability to activate the PoIs given," Airtel said.
 
"On the contrary, due to continued non-compliance of TRAI’s tariff orders by Jio by providing free services for the past 5-6 months, there is a tsunami of incoming voice traffic on the Airtel network, thereby, impacting the service experience of our customers. The huge asymmetry in traffic due to Jio’s free offers has also resulted complete failure of the present IUC regime, which assumes nearly symmetric traffic while fixing the below cost termination charge. The present termination charge of 14 paise is less than half of the actual cost of terminating calls on the network, resulting in huge loss to the company," the statement added.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Maharashtra to become Open Defecation Free by March 2018: State official

ADVERTISEMENT
Maharashtra will be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) by March 2018, State Chief Secretary Swadhin Kshatriya said today.
 
At a meeting with Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation Parameswaran Iyer, Mr Kshatriya stated that Maharashtra is on track to achieve this goal.
 
The State Government has set up a strong third party-verification system for ODF declarations, Maharashtra was not only aiming for ODF achievement, but also at including hand washing, menstrual hygiene and community toilets as part of Swachh Bharat implementation, he added.
 
Multiple cleanliness campaigns such as Clean Offices, Clean GPs, Clean Schools, are also underway in the State, he said.
 
Mr Iyer assured the State of full support from the Ministry in its efforts. Under the Zilla Swachh Bharat Prerak initiative, a Prerak will be provided at district-level in the State to support SBM(G) activities by the Ministry, in association with the Tata Trusts.
 
The Secretary made a presentation to Managing Directors of all Western Region PSUs in presence of Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises, to encourage them to contribute to the Swachh Bharat Mission.
 
The presentation was well-received, with many PSUs mentioning initiatives currently undertaken by them, including school sanitation, toilets along highways etc., an official press release said.
 
The Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises, stressed at the meeting that the PSUs must train their workers and management trainees as sanitation champions and agents of change.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba reviews Tropex 2017

ADVERTISEMENT
Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), has, over the past two days, reviewed the ongoing annual Theatre level Readiness and Operational Exercise (TROPEX) 2017.
 
The exercise has been underway since January 24. The CNS was accompanied by General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Army Staff and Vice- Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command.
 
The Navy chief, who embarked ships of the Indian Fleet (both Western & Eastern) during the review, witnessed a host of exercises including gunnery shoots, surface-to-air missile engagements, Brahmos firing and operations of the combined fleet in a complex multi-threat environment including sub-surface and air threats.
 
The high-point of the exercise was Large Force Engagement (LFE) by the fleet units against threast simulated by air element from Indian Air Force comprising AWACS, SU 30s, Jaguars and IL 78 (AAR).
 
These threats emanated from different directions and were neutralised by using Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile capabilities of MiG 29Ks, the integral air arm of the Indian Navy, operating from INS Vikramaditya in coordination with other fleet units.
 
All these exercises validated the combat effectiveness of IN platforms, an official press release said.
 
The Navy Chief, in his address to the fleet, congratulated the men for keeping the fleet combat ready at all times and executing all assigned tasks in a most professional manner. He also mentioned that training during peacetime has to be at par with how the Navy would perform during the war. He stressed the importance of taking bold decisions with due cognisance to risks involved and ensuring safety of men and material.
 
TROPEX 2017 is a month long exercise/ war drill, encompassing all dimensions of maritime warfare. It is witnessing participation of over 60 ships, five submarines and more than 70 naval aircraft.
 
It also includes participation of a large number of assets from the Indian Air Force, such as Su-30 and Jaguar fighters, AWACS, C 130J Hercules and in-flight refuelling aircraft, Infantry amphibious elements from Indian Army and ships/ aircraft from the Indian Coast Guard.
 
The area of operations for TROPEX 2017 exercise spans across the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea and North Central Indian Ocean and serves as an opportunity to validate the Indian Navy’s Concepts of Operation, the release said.
 
As a part of the exercise, niche capabilities of the Marine Commandoes (MARCOs) and Army Special Forces, including Airborne Assault and Combat Free Fall were undertaken from IAF C-130 aircraft.
 
The Naval forces, while enforcing sea and airspace control all around the affected islands, undertook beaching and heli-borne operations for landing of follow-on forces.
 
The exercise culminated with restoration of sovereign control over the affected islands, by the Armed Forces. During debrief of the exercise, CNS and COAS discussed various options to further enhance the effectiveness of the joint exercise.
 
TROPEX 17 assumes special significance in the backdrop of the current security scenario, being aimed at testing combat readiness of the combined fleets of the Indian Navy, and the assets of the Indian Air Force, Indian Army and the Indian Coast Guard.
 
It will also strengthen inter-operability and joint operations in a complex environment, the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

India's forex reserves rise by $ 782.7 million to $ 361.558 billion

ADVERTISEMENT
Maintaining an uptrend for the third consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 782.7 million to $ 361.558 billion in the weeek ended January 27, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had soared by $ 932.4 million to $ 360.775 billion in 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 gone up by $ 776.9 million to $ 339.211 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 $ 18.584 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 2.2  million to $ 1.444 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 3.6 million to $ 2.318 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 

India experiences 21% drop in consumer gold buying in 2016: WGC

 
Even as global gold demand rose 2% in 2016 to reach 4309 tonnes (t), the highest level since 2013, and inspite of resilient consumer demand in the fourth quarter, India and China, the two leading gold markets, experienced a drop in consumer buying in the year, faling 21% and 7%, respectively.
 
According to the World Gold Council’s (WGC) latest Gold Demand Trends report, Indian demand also faced a raft of challenges throughout the year, including regulatory changes, culminating in the surprise demonetisation policy, which severely hampered demand in both the jewellery and retail investment sectors.
 
“The Indian market faces a challenging time in 2017. We anticipate many of the headwinds that affected demand in 2016 to continue into this year, but we are confident that the Government's move towards a more transparent gold market will ensure that gold remains an important asset class for millions of people in India," Mr. Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence at the World Gold Council, said.
 
In China, jewellery demand was dampened due to a high gold price throughout much of the year, coupled with constrained levels of supply in Q4, owing to a tightening of currency controls in the country, the report said.
 
The report said global gold demand was largely driven by inflows into gold-backed Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) of 532t, the second-highest year on record, as investors responded to concerns over future monetary policy, geopolitical uncertainty and negative interest rates.
 
Continued global economic and political uncertainty, most notably Brexit, the US election and currency weakness in China, helped to boost overall investment demand by 70%, to a four-year high of 1,561t.   The price dip in November led to a strong recovery in the bar and coin market in the final quarter of 2016, although this did not offset weak demand in the first three quarters; annual demand reached 1,029t, down 2% year-on-year.
 
Mr. Hewitt said: “2016 saw an unprecedented degree of political upheaval, which underpinned huge institutional investor flows into gold. Retail investors – having been subdued for most of the year - responded quickly to the price fall in Q4, a fact reflected by a surge in demand in the physical market. With an equally uncertain political and economic environment likely in 2017, we expect investment demand to remain buoyant.”
 
While overall investment demand rose sharply, it was counterbalanced by declines in both jewellery, a 15% fall in 2016 to 2,042t, and central bank purchases. Central banks faced a challenging backdrop, with increased pressure on foreign exchange reserves resulting in demand falling by 33% to 384t for the year. Despite this, 2016 was the seventh consecutive year of net purchases by central banks.
 
The report said total supply reached 4,571t in 2016, an increase of 5% compared with 2015. 
 
Growth in the sector was supported by net producer hedging, which doubled in 2016, as gold producers saw an opportunity to secure cashflow at higher prices. It was also supported by high levels of recycling in Europe and the Middle East, driven by weak currencies and a high gold price. 
 
Mine production remained virtually unchanged from 2015 as a result of industry cost-cutting schemes, however, higher gold prices and lower costs have seen a renewed interest in exploration and increased project development is likely in the years ahead.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
The report said overall demand for FY 2016 went up by 2% from 4216t in 2015 to 4309t.  Total consumer demand for FY 2016 fell by 11% to 3,071t, from 3,436t in 2015.  Total investment demand grew by 70% to 1,561t in FY 2016 from 919t in 2015. Global jewellery demand was down 15% at 2,042t, compared with 2,389t in 2015.
 
Central bank demand was 384t, down 33% compared with 577t in 2015.        Demand in the technology sector decreased by 3% to 322t from 332t in 2015. 
 
Total supply grew by 5% to 4,571t this year from 4,363t during 2015. This was largely driven by recycling, which increased 17% to 1,309t from 1,117t in 2015.
 
During the fourth quarter of 2016, overall demand was 994t, a fall of 11% compared with 1,123t in Q4 2015. Total consumer demand increased by 5% to 989t from 940t in Q4 2015. Total investment demand fell 21% to 174t this quarter compared with 220t last year. Global jewellery demand was down 5% at 622t, compared with 653t in Q4 2015.
 
Central bank demand reached 114t this quarter, a fall of 32% from 169t in Q4 2015. Demand in the technology sector increased by 3% year-on-year, up to 84t compared with 82t during Q4 2015.
 
Total supply fell by 4% to 1,036t this quarter from 1,081t during Q4 2015.  Recycling increased by 5% to 250t during the fourth quarter, from 239t during Q4 last year, the report added.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Arjun Dhawan appointed Whole Time Director & Group CEO of HCC

ADVERTISEMENT
Infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) today appointed Mr. Arjun Dhawan as its Whole Time Director & Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from April 1, 2017.
 
He will succeed Mr. Rajgopal Nogja, who has decided to step down from the Group CEO’s post to pursue his own interests, a press release from the company said.
 
Mr. Nogja will continue in his present role till March 31, 2017. He will, however, continue to be a Delegate of the Board of Steiner AG, Switzerland, a HCC Group Company on a 20% time commitment basis, it said.
 
“Rajgopal’s leadership has made significant contribution to HCC’s success as the country’s premier infrastructure company during a difficult economic period. We understand and support his decision to step down and wish him well. Rajgopal will remain associated with the HCC Group by continuing to oversee Steiner AG, Switzerland,” said Mr. Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director, HCC.
 
Mr. Dhawan will oversee the HCC Group businesses including HCC Limited, HCC Concessions Limited, Lavasa Corporation Limited, Steiner India and Charosa Wineries Limited. Prior to being appointed to this position, Mr. Dhawan has been the President & CEO of the Infrastructure business since November, 2009.
 
“Arjun is deeply familiar with the company's strategy and leadership team. HCC’s growing order backlog and the receipt of over Rs. 2000 crores of arbitration monies post the cabinet decision has poised HCC for success. We are confident the company will grow and deliver robust performance under his stewardship," Mr. Gulabchand said.
 
Mr. Dhawan holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a BA in Mathematics and Economics from Middlebury College. Prior to starting his career at HCC, Mr. Dhawan acquired global expertise in the area of investment management across various businesses and industries. As Managing Director with Arya Capital Management (Mumbai) and formerly with Trellus Management Company (New York), Mr. Dhawan oversaw material portfolios comprising equity investments and real estate assets. During an earlier stint with Banc of America Securities, he helped build a proprietary investment group focused on distressed strategic assets. As a former investment banker in New York with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Credit Suisse First Boston, Mr. Dhawan has executed large leveraged buyout, high yield, M&A and equity transactions across multiple industries and geographies.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

RBI lifts restrictions on ATM withdrawals, retains weekly limit of Rs. 24,000 for savings bank accounts

ADVERTISEMENT
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today lifted the restrictions on daily withdrawal of cash from ATMs and on current accounts but retained the weekly limit of Rs. 24,000 on savings banks accounts.
 
The central bank had placed these and other restrictions following the November 8, 2016 decision of the Government to demonetise Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 notes as part of its efforts to fight the evils of black money, corruption, money laundering and terror financing. Some of the restrictions were gradually eased in the weeks that followed.
 
In a circular to all banks today, the RBI said that it had been decided to partially restore status quo ante following a review of the pace of remonetisation.
 
"Limits placed vide the circulars cited above on cash withdrawals from Current accounts/ Cash credit accounts/ Overdraft accounts stand withdrawn with immediate effect.
 
"The limits on Savings Bank accounts will continue for the present and are under consideration for withdrawal in the near future," the circular said.
 
"Limits ... placed on cash withdrawals from ATMs stand withdrawn from February 01, 2017. However, banks may, at their discretion, have their own operating limits as was the case before November 8, 2016, subject to 2 (ii) above.
 
"Further, banks are urged to encourage their constituents to sustain the movement towards digitisation of payments and switching over of payments from cash mode to non-cash mode," the circular added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Infosys engineer found dead near her workstation in Pune

 
25-year-old Infosys engineer found dead in her office
A 25-year-old software engineer working for IT services major Infosys was found dead near her workstation on the ninth floor of the company's office in the Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park in Hinjewadi here last night, police said.
 
Police officials said the woman, K. Rasila Raju, who hailed from Kerala and had come to the office on Sunday afternoon on her day off to work on a project, appeared to have been strangulated with a computer cable in an apparent case of murder.
 
A security guard posted in the building was arrested this morning from Mumbai in connection with the case, and the police will produce him in court where they are expected to seek his remand.
 
Sources said the police zeroed in on the suspect after finding that he was the only one who had accessed the floor during the period she was there.
 
Police officials said Rasila was working on a project along with two of her colleagues in Infosys' Bangalore office. She was in touch with them till around 5 pm after which they did not hear from her.
 
According to them, her manager had tried to call her repeatedly but did not get any response. The manager then contacted the security personnel and requested them to check if Rasila was at her desk.
 
Security guards who went to check on her around 8 pm found her lying on the floor near her workstation, the police said.
 
According to the sources, police think the murder took place  between 5 pm and 6.30 pm, when the guard left the office at the end of his duty hours. He later left for Mumbai, but his movement was tracked through his mobile telephone and he was nabbed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in the metropolis, from where he was apparently planning to board a train to his home state, they added.
 
The police have informed Rasila's family in Kerala and they are expected to reach the city later today.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

India’s forex reserves soar by $ 932.4 million to $ 360.775 billion

ADVERTISEMENT
Rising for the second consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 932.4 million to $ 360.775 billion in the week ended January 20, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had increased by $ 687.9 million to $ 359.843 billion in 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 gone up by $ 926.4 million to $ 338.434 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 $ 18.584 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 2.3  million to $ 1.442 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 3.7 million to $ 2.315 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 1286 crore

ADVERTISEMENT
Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 1286 crore across its various business segments.
 
A breakthrough from the company said its Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business had bagged contracts worth Rs. 1071 crore, including a major breakthrough order in the underground metro space secured from Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company Ltd for the design and construction of underground stations and associated tunnels for Package 2 in East-West corridor of the Ahmedabad metro project.
 
The prestigious engineering, procurement and construction contract comprises two underground stations at Gheekanta and Shahpur  with associated bored tunnels from Kalupur to Shahpur (3.3 km) and Ramp for Package 2.
 
“This is a significant win in the infrastructure space and we hope that this is a sign for many such projects involving vital  infrastructure that are in the offing,” said Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, Deputy Managing Director and President, L&T. “This mandate is truly representative of our expertise in building metro systems as we are already building some major metro projects in India and abroad. We are confident of delivering as per the requirements of our clients,” he added.
 
Another order has been bagged from a client for the construction of an iron ore berth at Paradip, Odisha. The scope of work includes 30m deep sheet pile driving, wagon tippler construction using coffer dam technology and ground improvement for stacker reclaimer, the release said.
 
An order has also been won for the construction of a technology-driven intake well structure using diaphragm wall technology at Purushotapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
 
The company said its Building & Factories Business had received an order worth Rs. 215 crore from a renowned client for the construction of a paint manufacturing facility at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. The scope of works includes civil and allied structural works for the facility, it added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
Syndicate content
© Copyright 2012 NetIndian. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of NetIndian content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of NetIndian Media Corporation. Write to info[AT]netindian[DOT]in for permission to use content. Read detailed Terms of Use.