Three courier firms summoned in Hyderabad drug case

Jul 19, 2017 0

Hyderabad–The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing drug racket in Hyderabad has summoned three major courier companies in connection with the case.

Officials of DHL, Blue Dart and Fedex have been asked to appear before SIT, said a statement from the investigation team on Wednesday night.

As the role of postal department has also come under scanner, SIT has written a letter to Chief Post Master General seeking his support in the investigations.

SIT, comprising official from enforcement wing of Prohibition & Excise Department of Telangana, is is focusing on how the courier services and also postal department neglected identifying drugs supplied from abroad.

The accused arrested in the sensational case told SIT during the questioning that they received drugs from Netherlands, Germany, US1, Britain and other countries through couriers and post.

SIT will seek explanation from courier companies on the negligence.

The investigators served notices on the courier companies on a day when they grilled Telugu film director Puri Jagannadh for over 10 hours. They are probing the links of some Tollywood personalities with the drug racket.

SIT has served notices on 12 film personalities including some top actors and actresses for questioning in connection with the case.

The racket was busted earlier this month when the enforcement officials arrested Calvin Mascrenhas and other accused, who revealed that they have been supplying drugs to school and colleges students in the city and some Tollywood artists. (IANS)

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India not taken adequate steps to ensure firms obey anti-money laundering laws: US

Jul 19, 2017 0

Washington–The US has commented on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move, saying that while one of the purposes cited by him was to counter terrorist activity funded by counterfeit currency, India has yet to implement laws effectively on criminal convictions or take steps to ensure companies are adhering to anti-money laundering rules.

The US State Department, in its Country Reports on Terrorism, under the section Countering the Financing of Terrorism, says: “In November, Prime Minister Modi announced the demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee currency notes and asserted that one purpose of this initiative was to curb terrorist activity funded by counterfeit notes, black money, and stockpiled cash reserves.

“Although the Government of India aligned its domestic anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) laws with international standards by enacting amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in 2012, and in 2016 initiated a National Risk Assessment for anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism to assess the countrya¿s terrorist financing risk, it has yet to implement the legislation effectively, especially with regard to criminal convictions.”

It said law enforcement agencies in India acetypically open criminal investigations reactively and seldom initiate proactive analysis and longa’term investigations.

“While the Indian government has taken action against certain hawala financing activities, prosecutions have generally focused on non-financial businesses that conduct hawala transactions as a secondary activity. Additionally, the government has not taken adequate steps to ensure all relevant industries are complying with AML/CFT regulations.

“The reporting of terrorism-related Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) has shown an increasing trend in recent years, with India’s Financial Intelligence Unit receiving 112,527 STRs between July 2015 and May 2016.a

In another criticism, it said that the degree of training and expertise in financial investigations involving transnational crime or terrorism-affiliated groups varied widely among the federal, state, and local levels and depended on the financial resources and individual policies of various jurisdictions.

It said that US investigators “have had limited success in coordinating the seizure of illicit proceeds with Indian counterparts”.

“While, in the past, intelligence and investigative information supplied by US law enforcement authorities led to numerous seizures of terrorism-related funds, a lack of follow-through on investigative leads has prevented a more comprehensive approach.”

The report also said that India is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and two FATF-style regional bodies — the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering.

India’s Financial Intelligence Unit-India is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.

The government regulates the money services business (MSB) sector, requiring the collection of data for wire transfers and the filing of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) by non-profit organizations.

“While the Indian government supervised, regulated, and monitored these entities to prevent misuse and terrorist financing, a large unregulated and unlicensed MSB sector remained vulnerable to exploitation by illicit actors,” it noted. (IANS)

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Chinese firm nubia commits $100 million investment for manufacturing in India

Jul 18, 2017 0

By Sourabh Kulesh

New Delhi–Best known for its camera-centric smartphones, Chinese manufacturer nubia, which entered India last year, has earmarked $100 million investment in the country over the next few years, a top executive has said.

Since last October, the company has introduced seven smartphones in India that received rave reviews and a decent response from customers.

“We have established our presence in India as recently as 2016 and are aggressively looking to scale up our operations. A significant part of our $100 million investment will be towards developing a manufacturing facility and brand-building initiatives,” Eric Hu, India Country Manager, nubia, told IANS.

Hu added that the company is evaluating several measures to expand its reach by enhancing distribution channels and developing a company-owned e-store for showcasing products and accessories.

“This nubia exclusive store is expected to go live in India by the end of 2017,” Hu added.

nubia recently launched the N2 and M2. Nubia N2 is one of the sleekest in its rage with a massive 5,000mAh battery and carries forward nubia’s legacy of great cameras.

M2 is nubia’s second dual-camera product — after a successfull Z17 mini — with AMOLED display and 3,630mAh battery. At 7.9mm thickness, M2 is among the slimmest dual-camera devices available in India till date.

While talking about Z17 mini, Hu said the model was selected based on an understanding of the Indian users’ demand for high-quality imaging, sleek design and an exceptional user interface (UI).

“The response has affirmed that we have delivered on users’ expectations. We look set to surpass our target on this — something we are extremely pleased about,” he told IANS.

On a question what strategy nubia would adopt to counter other big Chinese players like Vivo, Oppo and Huawai, which lead the market with their camera technology and attractive price range, Hu said the company is looking to create a fan base among mobile photography enthusiasts.

“nubia is globally recognised as a leader in camera technology and in India too, we will deliver the best camera technology,” the executive added.

“We believe that the market is upwardly mobile as consumers are increasingly looking to graduate from entry to mid-range and from mid-range to premium category of handsets. This fits in well with our product and business case,” Hu noted.

While talking about the company’s future plans, Hu said the second half of 2017 promises to be eventful for nubia.

The company plans to launch four-five more handsets at various price points and would work to expand reach further into the tier II and tier III cities.

“We will also invest in after sales support to over 60 top cities in India. Besides, the company-owned e-tail channel will also be operational by the end of the year, giving customers more platforms to choose from,” Hu told IANS.

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Outlook for manufacturing improves slightly in Q1 2017-18: Survey

Jul 17, 2017 0

New Delhi– Industry lobby Ficci on Monday said that India’s manufacturing sector outlook improved slightly during the first quarter (Q1) of the current fiscal.

The latest quarterly survey of manufacturing sector showed that percentage of respondents “reporting higher production” in Q1 increased vis-à-vis previous quarter.

“Ficci survey suggests that the percentage of respondents reporting lower production has reduced considerably over the previous quarter, thereby indicating a more positive outlook in months to come,” the survey said.

“The proportion of respondents reporting higher output growth during the April-June 2017-18 quarter has risen slightly from 47 per cent in January-March 2016-17 to 49 per cent.”

The survey disclosed that percentage of respondents “reporting negative growth” came down to 17 per cent in April-June 2017-18 from 27 per cent as reported in the previous quarter.

“However, the cause for worry was the rising cost of production (for a little over two-thirds of the respondents),” the survey noted.

“The cost of production as a percentage of sales for product for manufacturers in the survey has risen significantly as 69 per cent respondents in Q1 2017-18, against 60 per cent respondents, reported cost escalation in last quarter. This is primarily due to rise in minimum wages and raw material cost.”

In terms of exports, the survey pointed out that Q1 outlook had marginally improved as percentage of respondents expecting a fall during the quarter under review came down from 22.8 per cent in Q4 (2016-17) to 18.5 per cent.

“Hiring outlook for the sector remains subdued in near future as 73 per cent of the sample participants in Q1 2017-18 said that they are unlikely to hire additional workforce in next three months,” the survey said.

“However, when compared on a sequential basis, this proportion reflects a mild improvement over the previous quarter when 77 per cent of the respondents were reportedly averse to hire additional workforce.”

In addition, the survey predicted moderate growth in metals, leather, footwear, machine tools and capital goods sector during the Q1 2017-18.

“Low growth is expected in sectors like chemicals, automotive, textiles and cement. Only in case of electronics and electricals high growth is expected for Q1 2017-18,” the survey said. (IANS)

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Equity markets at new peak, Nifty closes above 9,900-mark

Jul 17, 2017 0

Mumbai–Boosted by the onset of quarterly results and Parliament’s monsoon session, the key Indian equity indices — the Sensex and the Nifty — edged up to close at a fresh high on Monday.

The wider Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) settled above the 9,900-mark to close at a new high of 9,915.95 points — up 29.60 points or 0.30 per cent from the previous session’s close — after touching a record high of 9,928.20 points intra-day.

The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE also closed at a new high of 32,074.78 points — up 54.03 points or 0.17 per cent, from its previous close at 32,020.75 points. It scaled a fresh intra-day high of 32,131.92 points.

Market observers opined that investors’ sentiments were uplifted by positive global cues and inflow of foreign funds. In another development, the market capitalisation (m-cap) of industrialist Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries (RIL) crossed the Rs 500,000 crore-mark for the first time.

However, some gains were capped as heavy selling pressure was witnessed in FMCG and capital goods stocks.

In terms of the broader markets, the BSE mid-cap index inched up 0.07 per cent and the BSE small-cap index by 0.01 per cent.

“Markets ended with modest gains on Monday, driven by BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), technology stocks and Reliance Industries. The Nifty made new life highs in the process although it traded in a range for most of the trading session,” Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

“Positive Asian equity market cues boosted investor sentiments. Bluechips outperformed small and mid-caps. European indices like CAC 40 and FTSE 100 traded higher,” Jasani added.

On the currency front, the rupee strengthened by 10 paise to 64.35 to a US dollar from its previous close at 64.45.

“Nifty ended above 9,900-mark for the first time. Indian shares climbed, with key equity benchmarks touching record highs for the sixth straight day,” said Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls.

“Foreign investors are continuously buying into selected index heavyweight stocks, resulting in the upmove in the market. Reliance Industries’ market cap crossed Rs 5 lakh crore, with the stock rising 13 per cent in 11 days.”

In investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchased scrip worth Rs 328.61 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) divested stocks worth Rs 447.14 crore.

Sector-wise, the S&P BSE metal index rose by 116.43 points, the IT index by 95.55 points and the banking index by 89.81 points.

On the other hand, the S&P BSE FMCG index declined by 166.21 points and the capital goods index by 12.27 points.

Major Sensex gainers on Monday were: Wipro, up 3.12 per cent at Rs 267.60; Adani Ports, up 1.81 per cent at Rs 381.60; ICICI Bank, up 1.69 per cent at Rs 303.05; Cipla, up 1.56 per cent at Rs 555.90; and Infosys, up 1.37 per cent at Rs 985.35.

Major Sensex losers were: ITC, down 3.40 per cent at Rs 325.75; Coal India, down 1.34 per cent at Rs 247.20; Dr. Reddy’s Lab, down 0.72 per cent at Rs 2,685; Axis Bank, down 0.42 per cent at Rs 510.95; and Maruti Suzuki, down 0.41 per cent at Rs 7,525.55. (IANS)

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India will become self-sufficient in oilseeds and pulses soon: Minister

Jul 16, 2017 0

New Delhi–Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Sunday said India will be in position to become self-sufficient in pulses and oilseeds in next few years thanks to introduction of seeds of better quality and various steps of the Narendra Modi government.

Addressing the 89th foundation day of Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), he said the government had implemented various schemes including soil health card, agro-forestry, integrated farming, irrigation, which will not just help it in achieving the self-sufficiency in pulses and oilseeds but doubling farmers’ income as well.

“When we came to power, the nation witnessed drought for subsequent four seasons (two years), which happened for the first time since Independence. However, we have seen record production of food grains this year. We have introduced seeds of better quality, improves irrigation facilities.

“If we get same production yield in consistent manner, we will be self-sufficient in pulses and oil-seeds in next two-three years,” he said.

India’s edible oil imports have reached to the level of 63 per cent of the total consumption in 2015-16.

The government estimates show the total amount of edible oil available for consumption in 2015-16 (Oil year from November to October) was 23.45 million tonnes, of which 14.82 million tonnes was imported.

Similarly, about 5.88 million tonnes of pulses were imported in 2015-16 after the annual production slumped to 16.35 million tonnes.

As per the latest estimates by government, total oilseeds production in the country is estimated at record level of 32.52 million tonnes this year and the figure for pulses is estimated at 22.40 million tonnes.

Noting agriculture scientists played a significant role in the development of agriculture in the country by bringing Green Revolution and, subsequently, by development of research and technology, he said that there has been five times increase in foodgrain production in the country since 1951 while 14.3 times in fish production, 9.6 times in milk production, and 47.5 times increase in egg production.

He added in the horticulture sector, three times increase in fruits and vegetables production was recorded as compared to that in 1991-92.

About the ICAR, he said the council had started Green Revolution, which did not only help the country to come out of a food deficit but to achieve self-sufficiency in foodgrains.

He also said 15 October will be celebrated as Mahila Kisan Diwas (Woman Farmers Day). (IANS)

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New consumer protection law to be tabled in Parliament

Jul 16, 2017 0

New Delhi–The Consumer Protection Bill, 2017, which aims at strengthening the consumer protection mechanism, is set to be introduced during the monsoon session of Parliament.

The new law, which will replace current Consumer Protection Act, 1986, once it is passed in Parliament, enforces consumer rights and provides a mechanism for redressal of complaints regarding defect in goods and deficiency in services.

According to an official, the draft Bill is pending with the Standing Committee on Food and Consumer Affairs.

“Once the committee approves the draft Bill, it will go to the Cabinet. Subsequently, the government can introduce it in Parliament,” said the official, who did not want to be identified.

The official added that the main objective of the Bill remains establishment of mechanism for consumer protection. However, details about the quantum of punishment are not clear yet.

It proposes to have Consumer Dispute Redressal Commissions, which will be set up at the district, state and national levels. Also, it seeks formation of Consumer Protection Authority to investigate consumer complaints.

A few months ago, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had approved guidelines in accordance with the current Act in order to make service charge in restaurants “voluntary”. (IANS)

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Food prices pull India’s wholesale price index inflation lower

Jul 14, 2017 0

New Delhi–A massive contraction in food prices dragged down India’s annual rate of inflation based on wholesale prices to extremely low levels in June, official data showed on Friday adding to the clamour for an RBI rate cut.

According to data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the wholesale price index (WPI), with the revised base year of 2011-12, decelerated further in June to 0.90 per cent from 2.17 per cent in May as food prices eased.

“The annual rate of inflation, based on monthly WPI, stood at 0.90 per cent (provisional) for June 2017 (over June 2016) as compared to 2.17 per cent (provisional) for the previous month and (-)0.09 per cent during the corresponding month of the previous year,” the Ministry said.

“Build up inflation rate in the financial year so far was (-)0.44 per cent compared to a build up rate of 3.71 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year.”

The wholesale prices had decelerated in May to 2.17 per cent from 3.85 per cent reported for April. However, the WPI in June 2016 declined to (-)0.09 per cent.

The base year of the current WPI, which was revised in June from 2004-05 to 2011-12, does not include indirect taxes, thus decreasing volatility in inflation at wholesale level.

On a year-on-year (YoY) basis, expenses on primary articles, which constitute 22.62 per cent of the WPI’s total weightage, declined by (-)3.86 per cent as compared to a rise of 5.68 per cent during the same month a year ago.

The prices of food articles slipped by (-)3.47 per cent during the month under review.

The wholesale inflation rate for onion was lower year-on-year by (-)9.47 per cent, while that for potatoes plunged by (-)47.32 per cent.

Overall, vegetable prices in June declined by (-)21.16 per cent, against a rise of 18.62 per cent in the same month a year ago.

As per the data, on YoY basis, wheat became cheaper by 0.29 per cent, while protein-based food items such as eggs, meat and fish became dearer by 1.92 per cent.

Prices of manufactured products, which comprise nearly 64.23 per cent of the index, rose by 2.27 per cent. The sub-category of manufactured food products registered a rise of 3.09 per cent.

The fuel and power price sub-index inflation accelerated by 5.28 per cent. Segment-wise, the price of high-speed diesel rose by 7.07 per cent during June, while that for petrol climbed by 6.49 per cent, and for LPG by 0.70 per cent.

Official data on Wednesday showed that retail — or consumer price indexed (CPI) — inflation in India during June fell to 1.54 per cent from a higher rate of 2.18 per cent in May.

The retail inflation was dragged lower by a sharp fall in prices of food items like pulses, vegetables and other perishables. The current inflation rate is the lowest since the series began in 2012.

On a year-on-year (YoY) basis, the country’s June retail inflation was lower from 5.77 per cent CPI rate reported for the corresponding month of last year.

“Both wholesale and retail prices data released this week report a broad based moderation in prices. Food inflation has softened considerably over the past couple of months and the outlook for prices is also benign,” said Ficci President Pankaj R. Patel.

“The continuous moderation in prices bodes well for the economy and Ficci feels that there is a clear case for the central bank to consider moving to an accommodative stance and introducing a rate cut by at least 50 basis points in the upcoming policy review or even earlier.” (IANS)

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Supreme Court defers hearing on quantum of punishment for Mallya

Jul 14, 2017 0

New Delhi– The Supreme Court on Friday deferred hearing on the quantum of punishment to be awarded to liquor baron Vijay Mallya till the government produces him before it.

Mallya has been held guilty of contempt of the top court for not appearing before it and not making full disclosure of assets held by him and his family as ordered earlier.

Noting the steps being taken by the central government for Mallya’s extradition, a bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said: “The matter may be put up (before the court) on his (Mallya) production before the court.”

Vijay Mallya

Following a brief hearing, the bench in its order said: “The contemnor (Mallya) failed to appear despite he being represented by counsel.

“The government of India has taken steps to secure his presence but Mallya is yet to be produced. Extradition proceedings are on and all steps are being taken by the government to produce him before the court.”

At the outset of the hearing, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the court about the steps taken by the government for the extradition of Mallya, now in Britain.

The court was informed that the final hearing in the British court for the extradition of Mallya would start from December 4 and conclude by the month-end.

As Venugopal was giving the details of the steps taken by the government to bring Mallya to India to face law, Justice Goel said they would hear the matter when he was produced before the court.

The top court had on May 9 held Mallya guilty of contempt for not appearing before it, as directed in the first hearing, and not making full disclosure of his assets and that of his family in a case wherein a consortium of 13 banks, led by the State Bank of India, is seeking recovery of over Rs 9,000 crore given to his now grounded Kingfisher Airlines.

It had sought his response on the quantum of punishment.

The top court had on July 25, 2016, issued notice to Mallya on a contempt plea by the consortium of banks led by the SBI for not making full disclosure of assets held by him his wife and children, both in India and abroad.

This has followed its April 7, 2016 order asking Mallya to disclose all assets — movable and immovable and tangible and intangible — and other shareholdings and beneficial interests in India and abroad held by him, his wife and children.

By this order, the court had also asked Mallya to indicate the date when he could appear before it in person.

Mallya, in a hearing on April 26, 2016, had through his counsel said: “If I come, I will be taken to Tihar Jail. When my liberty is at stake, how can you expect me to come back?”

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Online recruitment activities register 11 percent increase in India in June

Jul 13, 2017 0

New Delhi– Online recruitment activities in the month of June registered 11 per cent year-on-year growth, led by banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector, according to a report.

“India is on the brink of a major transformation owing to several economic reforms and digital disruption over the last few months. The Monster Employment Index for June has captured this sentiment reporting 11 per cent year-on-year growth.

“It was majorly driven by BFSI sector, making Mumbai (up 15 per cent) the only metro to have exhibited a double-digit annual growth,” Sanjay Modi, Managing Director, Monster.com, Asia Pacific and Middle-East, said.

The implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST) was a progressive step and was likely to have an encouraging impact on the job market nudging the overall growth, he said.

“Among top growth sectors, BFSI-led long-term growth chart with a 44 per cent year-on-year growth, followed by home appliances (up 34 per cent). The consumer goods/ fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), food and packaged food industry witnessed a surge of 33 per cent in June 2017 from 27 per cent in May 2017,” Monster.com’s employment index, a monthly gauge of the country’s online job demand, noted.

City-wise data shows that among metros, Kolkata (up 40 per cent) continued to lead the long-term growth even in June 2017.

Mumbai (up 15 per cent) was the only city to exhibit double-digit annual growth, Hyderabad at 5 per cent, Bangalore was up by 3 per cent, while annual growth trend in Chennai (down 12 per cent) exhibited the steepest decline.

“Online hiring activity in Delhi-NCR matched the year-ago level. Baroda (up 36 per cent) followed by Ahmedabad (up 20 per cent) recorded the steepest year-on-year growth,” the report said. (IANS)

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