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Govt working on new industrial policy for NE: Nirmala

May 22, 2017

The Commerce and Industry Ministry is working on a new policy for the industrial development of the North East states, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today.
 
The North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), 2007 has ended this year.
 
In December 2016, the ministry had approved a package of fiscal incentives to promote industrialisation and investments in this region under this policy.
 
The term for this has come to an end. Something else will have to be worked out for the benefit of North East. Both Niti Aayog and DIPP are in consultation, she told reporters here.
 
The ministry is holding consultations with those states to understand their industrial priorities with an aim to firm up something which can help in promotion of industry and employment generation there, she added.
 
Additional Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Atul Chaturvedi said that a task force has been set up on this.
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



'Foodgrain output likely to touch new record in next crop year’

May 22, 2017

Foodgrain output is likely to touch a new record in the 2017-18 crop year to begin from July, on hopes of a normal monsoon for the second straight year, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said today.
 
Foodgrain production is estimated to be at an all-time high at 273.38 million tonnes (mt) in the current 2016-17 crop year (July-June) on account of good rains after two years of drought, as against 251.57 mt last year. The previous record was 265.04 mt in 2013-14.
 
The foodgrain basket comprises rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses.
 
The Met department has forecast a normal monsoon for this year. If the monsoon is good, I am confident that foodgrain output will be at a record again and boost the growth rate to more than the 4.4 per cent achieved in 2016-17, Singh said while sharing the government’s achievements in the farm sector in the last three years.
 
The Met department forecast was accurate last year and “we hope it will be accurate this year as well, he said.
 
The Southwest monsoon, vital for farm output and economic growth in India, hit the Andaman and Nicobar islands three days early on May 14 and it remains to be seen if it will reach Kerala ahead of schedule, he added.
 
The Agriculture Ministry has set the foodgrain output target at a record 273 mt for the 2017-18 crop year and expects to achieve 4 per cent farm sector growth following the prediction of a normal monsoon.
 
About 50 per cent of the foodgrain output comes from both kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) seasons. The sowing of kharif crops such as paddy and pulses will begin with the onset of the Soutwest monsoon.
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



Vizag port, the second cleanest one in India

May 22, 2017

Visakhapatnam port has been adjudged the second cleanest in the country by the Union Shipping Ministry, according to port chairman M.T Krishna Babu.
 
He told the media here on Sunday that the Quality Council of India, an independent agency set up by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (Ministry of Commerce) with the involvement of Assocham, CII and FICCI, was appointed to conduct the study under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. In the rankings Haldia Dock emerged as the No. 1 and Visakhapatnam Port No. 2 among the major ports in India in maintaining cleanliness. Haldia scored 30 marks more than Visakhapatnam Port.
 
Krishna Babu, who returned here after receiving the award in Panaji from Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday, said the employees of the port as well as the stevedores and other stakeholders had cooperated wholeheartedly in keeping the port clean.
 
Measures like cleaning the wharf, sold waste management, covered stacking area, recycling of sewage water, dust suppression, greenery, generating solar power and constructing high-rise wall to prevent spread of particles had helped Visakhapatnam Port score more marks than other major ports.
 
Mechanisation
He said the port had undertaken massive mechanisation for the past few years to reduce pollution. The port had undertaken projects worth Rs. 5,000 crore to make it world-class by increasing the capacity from 98 million tonne to 135 million tonne by 2019. Half of the sum had already been spent on the ongoing projects, he added.
 
He said the process was on to issue an Expression of Interest notification for appointment of an international consultant for better environmental management.
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



Exim Bank plans to raise over Rs 10,000 crore in FY18

May 22, 2017

Exim Bank (Export Import Bank of India) is planning to raise over Rs 10,000 crore in the current fiscal both from domestic and overseas markets. 
 
We are looking to borrow $3.5 billion from overseas markets and Rs 8,000 crore from domestic sources this financial year, Exim Bank's deputy managing director Debasish Mallick said. 
 
He said $3.5 billion will be the gross forex borrowing and the bank will raise funds from euro bond market, which is called Reg S issue, and also from the US bond market under Regulation 144. 
 
In the domestic market, Exim Bank raises funds mainly through private placements. 
 
Mallick said now Indian entities with their better execution capabilities have the ability to make inroads into the tough Asian markets despite intense competition from the Chinese. 
 
Exim Bank provides finances broadly in three segments - overseas investment finance scheme, project exports and lines of credit, which is government to government credit. 
 
Apart from supporting export oriented companies, the bank provides financial assistance to Indian companies going for overseas acquisition or implementing projects outside India. It also supports airports and ports facilitating exports. 
 

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



Modi is quietly pushing for a counter to China's OBOR with Russia, Iran's help

May 22, 2017

Inching closer to making the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) a reality — connecting India with Russia and Europe via Iran — a dry run of container movement via the green corridor (smooth customs facilitation) will be conducted during the next fortnight, marking the 70th anniversary of Indo-Russian diplomatic ties. 
 
INSTC will substantially reduce time taken and cost for transport of goods between India and Eurasia once fully functional and increase economic activities between India and the resource-rich Russia as well as markets of Europe. 
 
The INSTC has moved closer to implementation after India decided to join international customs convention TIR following cabinet approval. The modalities of making INSTC functional was a discussed at a multi-stakeholder meeting on Monday, people familiar with the developments told ET. INSTC is one of corridors that Delhi is working on as part of connectivity initiatives parallel to China's One Belt One Road strategy. 
 
PM Narendra Modi might visit Astrakhan entry point of INSTC in Russia during his June trip to St Petersburg for International Economic Forum. India and Russia celebrates 70 years of diplomatic ties on April 13 and a series of events and visits are planned through the year. 
 
INSTC is a land-and sea-based 7,200-km long network comprising rail, road and water routes that are aimed at reducing costs and travel time for freight transport in a bid to boost trade between Russia, Iran, Central Asia, India and Europe. 
 
A study, conducted by the Federation of Freight Forwarders' Associations in India, showed that INSTC will be 30% cheaper and 40% shorter than the existing trade routes.
 

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



Rajasthan has a sweet deal for orange processing units

May 22, 2017

Rajasthan, which is now the country’s fourth-largest producer of oranges, has drawn up plans to woo entrepreneurs to set up processing units in State.
 
We plan to give 50 per cent up subsidy — of up to ?20 lakh — to those who are willing to establish post-harvest processing units here,” Rajasthan Minister for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Prabhu Lal Saini, said last week. These units should engage in grading, waxing and packaging as well as pulp extraction at the farm gate, he said.
 
We would like to market them under a newly-coined brand name Raj Santara, the Minister told a group of journalists here.
 
Rajasthan’s Kota division, which accounts for 98 per cent of the 2.67-lakh tonne of oranges produced in the State, already has a Centre of Excellence for Citrus, which is developing newer varieties suitable for its farmers.
 
The centre has developed 16 varieties of oranges and eight varieties of lemons so far. Some are being currently tested on an experimental basis, said Rashid Khan, in-charge of the centre.
 
Set up with help from Mashav, Israel’s internation aid agency, under the National Horticultural Mission, the centre is also training farmers on modern agricultural practices such as mulch-, drip- and ridge-bed system for irrigation.
 
Among the varieties of oranges being grafted at the centre include globally popular varieties such as Jaffa, Valencia, Daisy and Clementine. Currently, the centre has facilities to graft as many as 50,000 plants annually and each plant will be priced at a subsidised rate of ?50, said Khan.
 
Adopting new cultivation practices may cost them 15 per cent more, but the yield will leap 35 per cent or more, said Khan.
 
Atuljeet Singh Jhala, a farmer who has an orange orchard in Jhalawar district, said he was impressed with the work being done at the centre and was willing to set aside a small area in his farm for trying out newer varieties, if they can convince him about the benefits.
 
Farmers like me normally sell oranges at prices as low as ?8 per kg, whereas the same is sold for ?80 in city markets, said Jhala, adding that the coming up of processing units might help the farmers get a better price.
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



GST Council yet to respond to exemption demand for MSME exporters

May 22, 2017

Exporters from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector are yet to get an assurance from the Goods & Services Tax Council on whether they would be exempted from paying input taxes on the final export products instead of having to seek refunds, Commerce & Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said.
 
There is, however, clarity now on the term "submission of complete application'' for exporters seeking refund of input taxes and the maximum time for getting refunds on 90 per cent of taxes paid stands at ten days.
 
On the refund issue, our request to the GST Council was that for MSMEs, if they can still think of giving an alternative, rather than asking them to pay first and then get a refund. We are yet to hear from them, Sitharaman said addressing a press conference on Saturday.
 
The GST, which seeks to subsume multiple taxes applied at the Central and State level into a single tax, is likely to be implemented from July 1.
 
While a decision needs to be taken on exemption for MSMEs, there is clarity now on the refund of input taxes paid by exporters.
 
The GST Council had earlier agreed that 90 per cent of the refund due to an exporter would be paid within seven days of submission of complete application failing which an interest of 6 per cent would be paid on the amount.
 
The Commerce Ministry had asked the GST Council to explain what the term `complete application’ meant.
 
We were told that complete application means getting an acknowledgement from the government stating this. It has been decided an exporter’s application for refund will be responded to within three days of its submission stating whether it is completed or some queries remain. The seven-day period for getting refunds will begin after the application is acknowledged as complete, pointed out Ajay Bhalla, Director General of Foreign Trade.
 
This is a substantial concession for exporters as the normal time for responding to applications is 15 days. Subsequent to the GST Council meeting, the rules have been uploaded today, Bhalla said.
 
The Commerce Ministry had sought exemption for the MSME sector from paying input taxes as small units in India are mostly cash-starved and further locking of funds could affect their operations.
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



Exporters to get tax refund under GST within 7 days: Nirmala Sitharaman

May 22, 2017

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today assured exporters that they would get their refund tax claims within seven days under the new goods and services tax (GST) regime. 
 
She also said that the GST Council has been fairly seized of the tax refund issue under the new indirect tax regime, to be rolled out from July 1. 
 
On the refund, we are very very clear that 90 per cent of the advanced payed money (by exporters in the GST regime) will be refunded within 6 to 10 days, post which an interest of about 6 per cent will be given for any delay by the government to exporters, she told reporters here. 
 
She said this while speaking about the initiatives and achievements of the ministry in the last three years. 
 
However, Sitharaman added that the ministry has asked the GST Council to consider to formulate an alternative mechanism for small and medium exporters on the issue pf payment of taxes. 
 
Exporters have been demanding ab-initio exemption from payment of taxes under the GST regime arguing that delay in refunds often takes months. 
 
Further, she said GST will help in improving exports as inputs are going to cost lesser for manufacturing exporters, as it would result in improving the product competitiveness in the global markets. 
 
When asked about exporters' concern on rupee fluctuations, she said traders are fairly seized of this as it is not a sudden fluctuation. Currency fluctuation has become a new normal. 
 
But, if there are extreme fluctuations, it is for the RBI to look at intervening just that much, so that, any extreme fluctuations are taken care of, she added. 
 
 
On job creation, the minister informed that any proposal which goes to the Union Cabinet, its (proposal's) implication on jobs, is something which the Prime Minister is very keen and we all are providing expected impact on direct and indirect employment of every such proposals which goes to the Cabinet. 
 

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



No GST on most edible items; Confectionery, aerated drinks in 28% slab

May 22, 2017

The Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council has decided the rates for goods at its meeting held in Srinagar recently. While there will be no tax on most edible items, processed foods were largely kept in the 12 per cent category, while some products, including confectionery products and  aerated drinks with added sugar were put in the highest slab of 28 per cent.
 
The initial reactions of the food processing industry was not welcoming. According to industry insiders, most of the proposed rates were in contradiction of the rates recommended by the ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI). They added, It is a bad treatment of the food processing industry and MoFPI, whose recommendations have been ignored.
 
Fresh and pasteurised milk, eggs, curd, lassi, butter milk, chenna or paneer and natural honey were kept under nil tax, while ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk, milk cream, skimmed milk powder, yoghurt and other fermented acidified milk and cream, whey, packaged chenna or paneer and packaged honey were kept in the five per cent slab.
 
Butter and other fats, including ghee, butter oil and oil derived from milk, dairy spreads and cheese were kept in the 12 per cent slab, while condensed milk was kept in the 18 per cent slab.
 
Edible vegetables, roots and tubers, including fresh vegetables, other than those in frozen or preserved state, were kept in the nil category. Some dry fruits, including Brazil nuts, cashewnuts and almonds, were kept in the 12 per cent rate slab. Amongst edible fruit and nuts, fresh fruits, other than those in the frozen state, were kept in the nil category. Others were kept in the five per cent category.
 
In the tea, coffee and spice categories, unroasted coffee beans, unprocessed green tea leaves fresh ginger and turmeric were kept in the nil category, while tea, coffee and spices were kept in the five per cent slab. All kinds of cereals were kept in the nil category.
 
Amongst products of the milling industry, flours are kept in the nil category, cereals bearing a registered brand name and hulled, rolled, flaked, pearled, sliced or kibbled cereal grains, except rice and wheat gluten were kept in the five per cent slab, while starches and inulin were kept in the 12 per cent slab and malt was kept in the 18 per cent slab.
 
Vegetable saps and extracts like agar agar, mucilages and thickeners were kept in the 18 per cent slab. Amongst preparations of meat and aquatic vertebrates, products such as sausages, extracts and juices of meat, fish, etc. were kept in the 12 per cent slab.
 
Sugar and sugar confectionery and cane jaggery were kept in the nil category, while kandsari sugar and palmyra sugar were kept in the five per cent slab, and refined sugar, containing added flavour, all goods falling under it other than palmyra sugar (lactose, maple syrup, glucose, dextrose, fructose, invert sugar, artificial honey, etc.) were kept in the 18 per cent slab, and molasses, chewing gum, bubble gum and white chocolate not containing cocoa were kept in the 28 per cent slab.
 
Cocoa beans were kept in the five per cent slab, while cocoa butter, fat, oil powder, etc. were kept in the 28 per cent slab.
 
Puffed rice, papad and bread were kept in the nil category, while mixes and doughs for preparations of bread, pastry, pizza bread, rusks, etc. will attract five per cent tax. Pastas, corn flakes, waffles, wafers, pastries and cakes will attract 18 per cent tax, while malt extracts, wafers and waffles coated with chocolate will attract 28 per cent tax.
 
Fruit juices (including grape must) and vegetable juices, unfermented and not containing added spirits, whether or not containing added sugar or other sweetening matter, were placed in the 12 per cent slab, while jams, fruit jellies, marmalades, fruit or nut purée and fruit or nut paste were placed in the 18 per cent slab.
 
Prasadam was kept in the nil category, while namkeens, bhujia, mixture, chabena and similar edible preparations in the ready-to-eat form were kept in the 12 per cent category. Sauces, ice cream, food mixes (including instant food mixes), soft drink mixes, sharbats and diabetic foods were kept in the 18 per cent slab.
 
Amongst beverages, plain water, non-alcoholic toddy and tender coconut water were kept in the nil category, while soy milk drinks, fruit pulp, etc. were kept in the 12 per cent slab. 
 
Water, including mineral water and aerated water not containing added sugar or vinegar, will attract 18 per cent tax, while aerated water with added sugar and other sweetening matter or flavour, will attract 28 per cent tax.
    
Source: FNB News



FM to open India-Africa Cooperation sessions at AfDB meet on Monday

May 22, 2017

As part of the annual meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) that begins here from Monday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will open the India-Africa Cooperation sessions to discuss ways of boosting mutual cooperation, industry chamber CII said in a statement in Gandhinagar.
 
The session will cover areas such as trade and investment, agriculture, renewable energy and manufacturing, IT and ITeS, among others, it said. 
 
This is the first time the AfDB is holding its annual meeting outside the African continent. The five-day meeting will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 23.
 
During the meetings, India is also eyeing cooperation with Africa on the International Solar Alliance (ISA) initiative, of which France and India are the co-chairs. 
 
Total trade between India and Africa increased almost five-fold between 2005-06 and 2015-16, and stood at $52 billion at the end of the fiscal 2016-17.
 
India's exports'to Africa increased from $14 billion in 2007-08 to $23 billion in 2016-17, at a compound annual growth rate of 5.6 per cent.
 
Indian imports from Africa increased from $20 billion in 2007-08 to $28 billion in 2016-17, accounting for 7.5 per cent of total Indian imports.
 
Heads of states from Benin and Rwanda and other African countries as well as Vice-Presidents from Comoros and Cote d'Ivoire, and AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina are expected to address the sessions. 
 
The government is also planning an exhibition to showcase the capabilities of Indian companies in terms of technology, innovation, and start-ups, which could be relevant to African countries. 
 
During the India-Africa Forum Summit 2015, the announcement of $10 billion Line of Credit marked a new beginning in India's approach to engage with African countries in a more constructive manner. 
 
India joined the African Development Fund in 1982 and the AfDB in 1983, initiating a long history of cooperation spanning over 30 years. 
    
Source: SME Time



Australia, US new markets for Karnataka mangoes

May 22, 2017

After West Asia and Europe, Australia and USA have been emerging as the new market for mangoes grown in the state, Karnataka Mango Development and Marketing Corporation managing director Kadire Gowda said today. 
 
Interacting with reporters at the venue of the mango-jackfruit festival which began here, Gowda said importers in Australia had sought 200 tonnes of mangoes from the state for the first time this year, while the demand for Karnataka mangoes had risen from 100 tonnes last year to 200 tonnes now. 
 
He said the Corporation would export 200 to 300 tonnes of mangoes this year to the US which was turning out to be a good market with potential. 
 
Three schemes had been introduced by the Corporation to promote mango marketing, he said. 
 
Online trading, marketing mangoes on wheels in residential areas in Bengaluru and mango picking tourism were the schemes conceived, he added. 
 
Mango picking tourism was a scheme in which consumers would be taken to mango orchards in Bengaluru in a KSRTC bus for picking ripened mangoes of their choice and paying the farmers on the spot. 
 

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



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