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President Ram Nath Kovind to address joint session of Parliament today
Jun 20, 2019
President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the joint session of parliament on Thursday -- the first after the Lok Sabha elections -- is expected to outline measures to realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inclusive growth agenda, in keeping with his slogan of sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas" as well as his stated mission of catapulting India into the $5 trillion bracket by 2024.
Kovind’s speech – seen as outlining the priorities and the roadmap for fulfilling those objectives – will be keenly watched for pointers as to which policies will mark continuity and which will mark change.
If the Bharatiya Janata Party’s poll manifesto and Modi’s first meeting with the NITI Aayog – the federal policy think tank – on 15 June are anything to go by, Kovind’s first speech to parliament would have a major focus on the rural-agri sector, besides employment – with some themes carrying on from Modi’s first term in office.
Minimum government, maximum governance, strengthening the manufacturing sector, steps to cut down on corruption, poverty, unemployment, drought and ways to bolster India’s national security are the themes that Kovind could speak on. Mint takes a look at some of the issues that could figure in Kovind's speech.
Piyush Goyal meets retailers and Kirana stores representatives to discuss e-commerce policy
Jun 20, 2019
If the series of marathon stakeholder meetings Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal is holding in the last three days is any indication, Modi government's national e-commerce policy is likely to take final shape soon. Two days after spending a long evening with the representatives of e-commerce and IT companies, Goyal on Wednesday (June 19) met the representatives of associations of Kirana stores, traders and retailers to discuss the same topic. While the industry representatives have been given 10 days to share their views on the draft e-commerce policy, traders and retailers have been asked to submit their feedback within the next five days.
The minister reiterated the government's stand that India will not allow multi-brand retail by foreign companies, including a backdoor entry on the pretext of business to business (B2B) channel. Responding to the concerns raised by the retailers over the adverse impact of anti-competitive practices such as predatory pricing and other discriminatory methods from multinational e-commerce platforms, Goyal said that predatory pricing will not be allowed and necessary action will be taken against defaulters. Stating that the government will give all support and assistance to small traders and retailers to grow their business, he wanted the small stores, traders and retailers to be part of the government's e-commerce (GeM) platform, which has already achieved a turnover of Rs 25,000 crore.
Union Budget 2019: Address liquidity, incentivise manufacturing to boost exports, says trade body
Jun 20, 2019
A string of measures, including adequate availability of liquidity and incentivising manufacturing, should be included in the forthcoming Budget to boost exports, Trade Promotion Council of India said on Thursday.
The government needs to address liquidity and manufacturing constraints by increasing the lending cap of the nationalised banks for credit financing and ensure adequate liquidity. Private players including NBFCs may also be allowed, TPCI Chairman Mohit Singla said in a statement.
Union Budget 2019: Address liquidity, incentivise manufacturing to boost exports, says trade bodyRepresentational image. Reuters.
He said focus on agri-exports and food processing can take India to the position it has been aspiring for long.
Singla said the forthcoming Budget must address supply constraints to make the export industry competitive.
Incentives may be given to lead firms in ancillary manufacturing to create an ecosystem from where domestic manufacturing can take place, he said adding tax holiday of at least five years may be given for investors in infra and logistics sectors.
The chairman also suggested that incentives be given to companies investing in organic farming including horticulture.
The corporate tax was announced to be reduced to 25 percent in 2015, today it is 30 percent (for companies with annual turnover of Rs 250 crore). The corporate tax reduction of 5 percent may be extended to all entities irrespective of the cap. This will also help attract FDI to India, he added.
The country's exports grew 9 percent to $331 billion in 2018-19. The Budget is scheduled to be presented on 5 July.
Russian deputy PM visits India, prepares ground for Modi's Vladivostok visit in Sept
Jun 20, 2019
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Yury Petrovich Trutnev visited India this week in order to help both the countries to prepare grounds for the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Vladivostok in early September to participate in the fifth edition of the Eastern Economic Forum as the Chief Guest.
Trutnev, who is also the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District of the Russian Federation, led a high-level delegation to India from June 15-19.
His visit also provided an opportunity to explore bilateral cooperation in the sectors of diamond-processing, petroleum and natural gas, coal and mining, agro-processing and tourism which have been identified as the priority areas for the development in Russia's Far East region.
Russian Far East, located on the transport corridor between Asia and Europe, has unique geographical advantages and untapped energy potential.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his two-day visit to Bishkek last week to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, held a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and also accepted the latter's invitation to be the Chief Guest at the Eastern Economic Forum, scheduled to be held in Vladivostok in early September.
Farm sector likely to get Rs 25 lakh-crore budget boost
Jun 20, 2019
The central government has targeted spending Rs 25 lakh crore on the rural and farm economy over the next five years, which will reflect in allocations to be made in these sectors in the annual Budget on July 5, an official said, requesting anonymity.
Ahead of the Budget’s preparation, departments and ministries had been asked to present monthly, yearly and full five-year targets, following a similar exercise to draw up the agenda for the first 100 days of the new government, a second official said.
These agenda-setting exercises are going to inform the Budget-making exercise, the second official added, also requesting anonymity.
The Budget is expected to push farm and non-farm rural infrastructure and, within agriculture, it is likely to focus on removing bottlenecks in farm supply chains to enable freer trade in farm commodities so that farmers earn better prices.
We could see incentives for technology providers in the farm sector to bridge the gap between farmers and markets, the first official said.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who recently held a pre-budget consultation on the farm economy, told participants that concerns of the agriculture sector were a priority. Signalling the focus on agricultural markets, she also talked about going beyond traditional tools and promoting start-ups to remove fragmentation in agriculture markets so that farmers get profitable rates for their produce, a participant said, requesting anonymity. The pre-Budget meeting on agriculture last week was attended by nearly 50 top officials and invitees.
In the previous term of the Modi government, farmers’ earnings had been hit by low agricultural prices, leading to farm-loan waivers by several states.
Washington apples in soup as India imposes tariff
Jun 20, 2019
Washington state’s apple industry is a worried lot after India hiked duties on the fruit. They said that it is very hard to sell products to other markets when one loses a reliable and established market.
India announced a hike in customs duties on as many as 28 United States (US) products, including almond, apple, pulses and walnut, in response to higher tariffs imposed by Washington on Indian products like steel and aluminium.
India imported a record 7.8 million 40-pound boxes of the fine quality 2017 Washington state apple crop as of mid-June last year, media reports stated.
India would ultimately pass Canada as Washington’s No 2 export market, reaching eight million boxes by the season’s end, it said. Currently, Mexico is the No 1 export market.
However, India had imported far fewer boxes of the 2018 crop. As of June 15, Washington state had shipped about 2.6 million boxes to India.
It is expected to slow down even more with India slapping a 20 per cent retaliatory tariff on apples, bringing the total duty to 70 per cent, the report said.
Washington state usually exports about 30 per cent of its apple crop, it said.
The Hindu Businessline
Malda mango a hit at Delhi fair
Jun 20, 2019
The all delicious Malda mangoes are in high demand at the mango fest being organized by the state government in Delhi as the ‘Bengal Mango Mela 2019.’
Both popular and unconventional varieties of the fruit are being sold in the fest in good quantity. Mango growers said they have already sold the fruit worth more than Rs 60,000 in just two days. Officials are, meanwhile, hopeful to have Delhi as the next destination for Malda mango business, which so far is limited to around the northeastern part of the country.
According to Rahul Chakrabarty, the assistant director of the district Horticulture Department, who is in Delhi for the fest, a considerable crowd of buyers have been thronging at Malda mango stalls. Having tasted the fruit in the previous year also, people turned up this year too in good numbers, looking for the same, he said
Alongside the regular varieties like Himsagar, Langra and Lakkhanbhog, other nonrecognized varieties are also in demand, he added. Mangoes like Ashudaagi, Khirbhog, Altapeti, Mishrikant have also been brought here, which the people are tasting first and then buying. These varieties are being sold at Rs 120 per kg, while Himsagar and Lakkhanbhog are being sold at Rs 200. The fest is now looking to attract more people than the previous year, said Mr Chakrabarty.
It may be noted here that the annual fest is being organized by the state government since 2013 to promote mango varieties of the various districts of West Bengal among the people of North India, even though that region has its own varieties of mangoes.
Ujjwal Choudhury, the secretary of the mango growers’ association of Malda, who has also joined the fest, said he sees a new destination for Malda mangoes in New Delhi. We would like to ask growers to sell their fruit in this part also, though they have become used to sending their mangoes to Agartala of Tripura and other places of the northeastern sid, he said. Looking at the enthusiasm of the people who visited the Mela in the first two days, I am very much hopeful of a new destination for the mango business of Malda. The variety of mangoes brought here by different growers in a very good condition is been appreciated by the buyers. It seems that we should now concentrate more in this part of the country for the benefit of Malda mangoes, said Mr Choudhury.
34.06 million tonnes of wheat procured
Jun 20, 2019
The government so far has procured 34.06 million tonnes of wheat as against the target of 35.7 million tonnes for the season 2019-20. While there is excess procurement in Punjab and Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have shown procurement less than the target. The procurement season ends on June 30.
As per the latest figures of Food Corporation of India, the government has purchased only 3.64 million – down by 1.36 million tonnes. Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, the purchase is 6.72 million tonnes as against the target of 7.5 million tonnes.
In Uttar Pradesh, procurement is believed to have suffered due to elections. Besiders, the state government cites competitive prices in market to be another reason for lower than expected procurement. The government, however, has extended the procurement window for 10 days to June 25 to complete the target, said an FCI official.
In Rajasthan, where the government has been able to purchase 1.4 million tonnes as against the target of 1.7 million tonnes, the procurement window is till June 30.
We expect to complete the target. There are arrivals in the mandi and we hope to wind up the season by meeting our targets, said an FCI official in Rajasthan.
Govt may probe violation of import policy on kabuli chana
Jun 20, 2019
The Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) may begin a probe into complaints that some importers may be importing chickpeas (kabuli chana) and selling them locally instead of exporting them after a value add, as required by law.
The government imposes and relaxes restrictions on imports of pulses from time to time, depending on the demand and production situation in the country and to protect the interest of farmers.
On January 1, 2019, it lifted a ban on importing kabuli chana, with a clear condition that all imports into the country must be for the purpose of value addition – such as processing, polishing and packaging etc – and the final product must be exported within 90 days.
However, around a dozen players, mostly from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, have been accused of importing chana cheaply and selling them below prevailing domestic prices.
The kabuli chana imports take place at Rs 2,800-3,000 per quintal. The chana is then sold directly to besan factories, which significantly impacted demand for and prices of domestically produced chana,” a source told Moneycontrol.
Madhya Pradesh is a leading producer of pulses in the country, with Indore being a major trade hub.
Another source said that over the past few months, importers have sold chana lower than even the local minimum support price MSP. Not only were farmers not able the sell their full production, the importers were also able to evade tax.
Moneycontrol learns that a complaint in this regard has even been brought to the attention of the Commerce Ministry, and even the Prime Minister’s office.
State govt to hold event to promote indigenous food
Jun 20, 2019
The city will host a North East Food Show to depict the rich and indigenous delicacies of the Northeastern region in December.
The show will be organised by the state government and Inter Ads, New Delhi, with the support of Salon International de l’alimentation (SIAL), Paris, at NEHU campus from December 4 to 6.
This will be a first-of-its-kind event for SIAL in the North East as the state seeks to emerge as a food-processing hub for the entire region as well as other south-east Asian countries.
Speaking to media persons after the meeting of the Advisory Council on Wednesday with regard to the event, Adeline Vancauwelaert, Director of SIAL, Paris and India said that Meghalaya has a huge potential in indigenous food.
Informing that the show would talk about fast-food processing and hospitality apart from indigenous food, she said it would take Northeastern products before the entire country and the world.
Talking to media persons, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said the event will be a unique opportunity for the people of the state and the North East to reach out to the global community, create an international platform for food business and unlock overseas marketing opportunities for the farmers of the region.
He also informed that another meeting of the council will take place within two months to chalk out strategy for the mega event.
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