RBI Monetary Policy Committee Members to Get Rs. 1.5 Lakhs plus other perks per meeting

Jul 23, 2017 0

Mumbai–The government nominees on the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) are to be paid Rs 1.5 lakh per meeting along with air travel and other reimbursements, according to a decision taken by the RBI.

The six-member MPC, constituted last year, has three persons appointed by the government while the others, including the Governor, are from the RBI.

The central government appointed members would “receive a remuneration of Rs 1,50,000 for devoting time and work for each meeting of the committee which they attend, and other expenses relating to air travel, local transportation and accommodation as may be decided by the central board from time to time,” according to the RBI’s latest regulations on the MPC’s functioning.

The regulations stipulated that all the MPC members will need to observe a “silent period” seven days before and after the monetary policy review meeting for “utmost confidentiality”.

“Members shall observe a silent or blackout period starting seven days before the voting/decision ray and ending seven days after the day policy is announced. During this period, they will avoid public comment on issues related to monetary policy other than through the MPCs communication framework,” the regulations said.

Moreover, members cannot reveal outside the committee any confidential information accessed during the monetary policy deliberations, the RBI said.

The three government nominees to the panel are Chetan Ghate, Professor at the Indian Statistical Institute, Pami Dua, Director at the Delhi School of Economics, and Ravindra H. Dholakia, Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

The RBI also asked MPC members to be mindful of any conflict between their personal and public interest while interacting with profit-making organisations or making personal financial transactions,

“While interacting with profit-making organisations or making personal financial decisions, they shall be mindful of, and weigh carefully, any scope for conflict between personal interest and public interest,” it said.

All members need to disclose their assets and liabilities and update this information once a year.

The RBI normally holds its monetary policy review once every two months and the latest regulations said the schedule of the MPC meetings for the entire financial year needs to be announced in advance.

Normally, at least 15 days of notice is required for convening a meeting, but an emergency meeting can be called with 24 hours notice for each member, while technology-enabled arrangements need to be made for meetings called at even shorter notice.

In this connection, the central bank has earlier said that the decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes was taken by the RBI board at 5.30 p.m. on November 8, which was less than three hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the measure to the nation.

Following the RBI’s latest policy review last month, Governor Urjit Patel told reporters here that the RBI Monetary Policy Committee had turned down the Finance Ministry’s invite for a discussion ahead of the panel’s policy review meeting.

The RBI maintained its key interest rate at 6.25 per cent for its fourth successive monetary policy review, dashing the government’s hopes of a reduction. (IANS)

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India launches first R&D facility for high-end fuels, gas

Jul 23, 2017 0

New Delhi– India has launched its first petroleum Research & Development (R&D) facility for testing high-end BS-VI quality fuel emissions, according to an official here.

Operated by state-run Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the R&D facility is designed to test all types of fuel including petrol, diesel, ethanol-blended petrol, bio-diesel, CNG, LNG, hydrogen-CNG and 2G-ethanol blends to ensure they meet the superior BS-VI norms that are to be implemented across the country by April 2020, a Petroleum Ministry statement said.

This “first-of-its kind” facility was inaugurated by Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in Faridabad in the National Capital Region (NCR) on Saturday.

“In addition to generating emission data, the facility will also evaluate the fuel blends for energy-efficiency and engine durability,” it said.

On the occasion, Pradhan complimented the IOC scientists for developing a “nano-additised battery for use in e-rickshaws, with better efficiency and longer life than commercially available batteries.”

“The minister also lauded the efforts of Indian Oil R&D in commercialising Indane Nanocut — the industrial version of LPG for the metal-cutting industry.”

Pradhan hoped IOC would take a “quantum leap” in alternative and renewable fuel research arenas in the next 3-4 years, the statement added. (IANS)

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Need data protection law soon: Nandan Nilekani

Jul 22, 2017 0

New Delhi–Former UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani on Saturday said that India needed a data protection law “as soon as possible” as it is a “fundamental thing” so that the users can demand from the domestic or foreign companies to share their data when needed.

“This is not a technology problem, but a policy problem,” Nilekani said here at the Delhi Economics Conclave 2017.

Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had said earlier that the government was planning to come out with a data protection policy this year.

The need for the law was felt after online messaging service WhatsApp changed its policy of non-sharing of data for its users after acquisition by Facebook in 2016 to permit sharing of the attributes of its users for advertisement targeting. (IANS)

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Yes, Indian government helping develop homeopathy in Ghana

Jul 20, 2017 0

By Francis Kokutse

Accra– The Indian government is partnering with a Ghanaian company to build capacity of the country’s professionals in providing homeopathic education and treatment and recently sent two experts from the Ministry of Ayush to train doctors and staff at the company’s chain of C4C Hospitals.

“We would be ready to assist through capacity-building — be it in the form of visiting experts or through extra-curricular or sub-technical advice,” Indian High Commissioner Birender Singh Yadav said of the initiative, which could also see the hospital chain expand into other West African nations.

During their stay in Ghana, the two Indian homeopathic experts visited the Presidency where they met Minister of Health Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, who promised that the ministry was ready to collaborate with the Indian government and the C4C Hospitals to promote homeopathic healthcare and education in Ghana.

The team also met the heads of the various departments of the National Professional Board For Techinical Examinations (NABPTEX) to discuss how to incorporate homeopathic education into the curriculum of the Technical Universities in Ghana.

“Officials of NABPTEX expressed their readiness to collaborate so that homeopathy can be taught in all their institutions, starting with a pilot scheme at the Accra Technical University for the award the Higher National Diploma in Homeopathic Medicine for graduates of the C4C Homeopathic Medical College,” C4C Hospitals Director Michael Kojo Kyeremateng told IANS.

The C4C chain has 10 branches in all the 10 regional capitals of the nation and some districts to make homeopathy accessible to all Ghanaians.

Kyeremateng, an Indian-trained Ghanaian alternative medical practitioner, has been recognised by the Indian government and the Ministry of Ayush for his passion and zeal in promoting education and homeopathic treatment in Ghana.

He recently represented Africa at the International Convention On World Homeopathy Day in New Delhi organised by the Ministry of Ayush.

Under the terms of assistance to the C4C Hospitals, “Indian experts would provide training for a continuous professional development programme for C4C staffers to enhance their practice and to lecture to the students of the homeopathic medicine college,” Kyeremateng explained.

He said the C4C Hospitals has signed an signed academic MOUs with two Indian entities –Vadodara’s Parul University and Kolkata’s IBAM Academy — to promoting homeopathic education and alternative system of medicine for Ghanaians through the C4C Homeopathic Medical College.

In line with this, the C4C Homeopathic Medical College will send its students to india for one year after three years of studies in Ghana for academic and practical training, for a joint degree awarded by the Parul University. There is also a programme to provide distance education for those who want to study any alternative system of medicine with the IBAM Academy.

In addition, Kyeremateng said the company is also venturing into the West Africa region by establishing homeopathic hospitals and had taken the lead to introduce a Homeopathic Health Insurance Policy to make homeopathy affordable to all Ghanaians in the region. (IANS)

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Highways ministry approves 51,300 km state roads as highways

Jul 20, 2017 0

New Delhi–The road transport and highways ministry in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Thursday said that it has given “in-principle” approval to convert 51,300 km length of state roads as new highways.

The criteria for the conversion includes roads running through the length and breadth of the country, connecting adjacent countries, national capital with state capitals, mutually the state capitals, major ports, large industrial centres or tourist centres, roads meeting very important strategic requirement in hilly and isolated areas, a written reply by Minster of State for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Pon. Radhakrishnan stated.

The total length of highways in the country till March 31, 2014 was about 91,287 km, which has been enhanced to about 1,15,435 km at present.

The Ministry has also taken up a detailed review of the highways network with a view to develop road connectivity to border areas, development of coastal roads, improvement in the efficiency of National Corridors and development of Economic Corridors under the proposed Bharatmala Pariyojana.

On June 16 the Public Investment Board recommended the proposal for Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana for consideration of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for investment approval. (IANS)

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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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