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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Demonetisation has brought India 3 years ahead in digital payments

Jul 13, 2017 0

ew Delhi–Demonetisation has brought the nation at least three years ahead in digital payments, SBI Ecoflash stated in its latest issue published on Thursday.

“If demonetisation had not happened, it would have taken three years more for credit plus debit cards transactions on point of sales (PoS) terminals to reach the current level of Rs 700 billion (assuming a yearly growth rate of 25 per cent),” the report stated.

“We believe that increasing number of PoS terminals (post demonetisation Indian banks have been able to set up 11.8 lakh extra PoS terminals) and ease of doing digital transaction will increase this level further. Clearly, India has leapfrogged three years of digitization in just seven months!” it said.

The report stated similar trends are observed in the case of usage of pre-paid instruments (PPI) (like m-Wallet, PPI cards and paper vouchers) and mobile banking too.

It said PPI witnessed a sharp growth with transactions valued at Rs 107 billion in May 2017 compared to Rs 51 billion in November 2016.

The report stated that such digitalization will result in lower inflation.

“We estimated a simple regression model by taking headline CPI (consumer price-based index) inflation as dependent variable and credit plus debit cards transactions on PoS terminals in Rs billion as independent variable. The estimated model was statistically significant and the results indicate an increase in Rs 100 billion transaction by credit plus debit cards at PoS terminals will lead to around 1.1 per cent decline in CPI inflation,” the report said. (IANS)

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India Inc. calls for lending rate cut to boost industrial output

Jul 12, 2017 0

New Delhi– India Inc. on Wednesday called for an easing of the monetary policy to give a boost to the country’s industrial output.

Corporate India’s calls for a reduction of key lending rates comes after the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed that on a sequential basis, the output rose slower than the revised estimates for April 2017.

According to the data, the country’s factory output growth slowed to 1.7 per cent in May from 2.79 per cent in April.

Apex industry body Assocham pointed out that RBI’s (Reserve Bank of India) stance to maintain the status quo on key lending rates has hit the expectations of the industry “though there was a room for rate cut”.

Assocham’s President Sandeep Jajodia said risks to the Indian economy continue to stem out from uncertainties in the global environment due to geo-political situations, including rising protectionism.

Besides, the industry body said that private investment continues to face several impediments in the form of corporate debt overhang and stress in the financial sector.

Commenting on the IIP numbers, Ficci Secretary General A. Didar Singh said: “The subdued growth in manufacturing is worrying as some of the major sectors like capital goods, automobile and textiles have shown degrowth. This further underlines the need for major reforms to improve the investment climate further”.

“In view of the fall in consumer durable growth, reducing interest rates would help in stimulating demand and also reviving investments.” (IANS)

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Tata Steel UK inks pact with Liberty to sell pipe mills

Jul 11, 2017 0

Mumbai–Tata Steel UK on Tuesday said it has signed a definitive sale agreement with Liberty House Group to sell its 42 and 84-inch pipe mills in Hartlepool.

The sale agreement covers the Submerged Arc Weld (SAW) mills, where about 140 employees manufacture pipeline for gas and oil projects around the world.

The steel maker said both parties would be working to complete consultations with employees and trade unions, as well as the transfer of supplier and customer contracts. The transaction is expected to be completed within the next few months.

“As a responsible seller we have worked long and hard to find a sustainable future for the 42- and 84-inch pipe mills. With this sale, the company will complete its portfolio restructuring to focus on the strip products supply chain linked to Port Talbot. The sale is also an important step towards developing a more sustainable future for the rest of our UK business,” Tata Steel UK CEO Bimlendra Jha.

The two mills are fed with steel plate sourced from outside Tata Steel, so the mills are independent of the company’s strip products supply chain.

The steel maker, however, said it will retain its 20-inch tube mill at the same site, where a further 270 people work.

To further strengthen the 20-inch mill, Tata Steel will be making a 1 million pound investment to increase its capability to make high-strength steel tubes, it said.

The steel producer claimed that it will continue to be the largest steelmaker in Britain following the sale of the 42- and 84-inch pipe mills and it has invested more than 1.6 billion pounds in its business in the country since acquiring Corus in 2007. (IANS)

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Two Day Skyscrapers India Summit 2017 Set in September in Mumbai

Jul 10, 2017 0

DUBLIN–Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Skyscrapers India Summit 2017” conference to their offering. Government Officials, Indian Ministries and Project Developers gather this September to discuss practical solutions in optimizing skyscrapers sustainability, current & future skyscrapers construction and investment plans in India

Skyscrapers are increasingly being constructed across India’s modern landscape as the country grapples with the huge influx of people arriving in its major cities from rural areas. With 50% of India’s population expected to live in the urban areas by 2030, there is a great demand for tall buildings and high-rise structures in the residential as well as commercial space.

As cities, such as Mumbai actively incentivize the construction of tall buildings, developers and governments active within the Indian real-estate industry are now exploring vertical opportunities to overcome several challenges concerning regulatory guidelines and floor space index (FSI) norms that restrict the construction of high-rise structures in India.

India is set to be the next big home for the tallest skyscrapers in the world, with the Indian government beginning to focus on regulatory measures and specific building codes for high-rise structures. For instances, the upcoming projects, World one, the tallest residential tower in the world and The Imperial 3 which have revolutionized the growing trend of skyscrapers in India.

Following the success of the SKYSCRAPER SUMMIT SERIES, the event organiser is proud to announce the Skyscrapers India Summit 2017 is coming to Mumbai, taking place from 12-15 September 2017. The Skyscrapers India Summit will look to build on the industry insights and knowledge sharing from the experts in skyscraper industry will feature international case studies, local project updates and new developments in government regulations.

5 Key Benefits of Attending Skyscrapers India Summit 2017

– Find out the latest updates and practical information on skyscrapers projects in India across cities as well as the latest trends within the industry locally.

– Skyscraper Developers, Government Representatives & Project Owners across Indian Cities, will be present at the summit – Grab the opportunity to share and gain new perspectives in designing and constructing skyscrapers that are safe, sustainable and structurally feasible, and commercially viable.

– Hear from renowned industry experts with profound skyscrapers projects experience in India and globally to learn from distinguished experts on the latest trends and technologies in skyscrapers infrastructure and urban development.

– Gain Real-Life Insights from your Peers – Hear key trends, winning strategies and effective solutions in skyscrapers design, engineering, planning, and construction during Exclusive Panel Discussiosn among Skyscrapers Industry Experts

– Build Business Relationships & Gain First Mover Advantage! – Meet up with not just skyscraper industry leaders but also high-profile decision makers from the government authorities/ministries and industry leaders within India and globally to broaden your business network and discuss future skyscraper development plans.

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Market Outlook: Earnings season, macro data to drive equity markets

Jul 9, 2017 0

By Rohit Vaid

Mumbai–The upcoming quarterly results, along with macro-economic data points and global cues, are expected to determine the trajectory of equity indices next week, market observers feel.

According to analysts, investors’ risk-taking appetite might also strengthen on the back of the smooth rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and healthy progress of monsoon rains.

“After a smooth rollout of GST, market is expected to look forward to Q1FY18 earnings, IIP (Index of Industrial Production), CPI (Consumer Price Index) and WPI (Wholesale Price Index) data,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.

“In the near term, corporate earnings could be volatile due to de-stocking and could impact the margins. However, we can anticipate that consumer spending and business margins will increase due to lower pricing and taxation, increased sales volume and shift from unorganised to organised sector.”

IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is expected to be the first blue chip to come out with its first quarter results on July 13, followed by Infosys on July 14.

“Market is expected to see stock-specific movement as earnings season will start and with no domestic trigger except corporate results, the index is expected to trade in a range of 200 points,” pointed out Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer, Tradebulls.

Apart from the Q1 results, investors will also be looking forward to the upcoming macro-economic data points such as the IIP figures.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) will release the macro-economic data points of IIP and CPI on July 12, Wednesday.

The CPI data will be followed by the release of WPI data by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on July 14.

Besides macro data, the other major theme for the upcoming week can be the direction of foreign fund flows, observed D.K. Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director, SMC Investments and Advisors.

“Besides IIP number, the flow of foreign money, movement of crude oil prices and Indian currency will depict the trend of the market going forward,” Aggarwal told IANS.

Investment-wise, provisional figures from the stock exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors (FIIs) sold stocks worth Rs 1,948.83 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) purchased scrips worth Rs 2,361.61 crore last week.

On the currency front, the Indian rupee closed on a flat note last week at 64.59 against the US dollar.

On technical levels, the NSE Nifty is expected to touch new highs after crossing the immediate resistance level of 9,707 points.

“Technically, with the markets resuming their intermediate uptrend, the coming week could see the Nifty attempting to move to new life highs,” Deepak Jasani, Head – Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

“Further upsides are likely in the coming week once the immediate resistance of 9,707 (points) is taken out. Crucial supports to watch for any weakness are at 9,543 (points).”

In terms of global cues, the US Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday-Thursday, which could have a possible impact on international markets.

Last week, key equity indices gained around 1.5 per cent on the back of GST launch on July 1 and a healthy monsoon.

Consequently, the 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE closed at 31,360.63 points — up 439.02 points or 1.42 per cent from its previous week’s close.

Similarly, the NSE Nifty rose by 144.9 points or 1.52 per cent to close the week’s trade at 9,665.80 points. (IANS)

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One nation, one law’ becomes reality after GST begins in Kashmir

Jul 7, 2017 0

Srinagar– The GST became applicable across India after the pan-India indirect tax regime commenced in Jammu and Kashmir from Saturday, hours after its assembly on Friday passed the state Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill on receiving President Pranab Mukherjee’s order “safeguarding” Kashmir’s special constitutional status and its exclusive taxation powers.

Jammu and Kashmir, the only state that enjoys a special status under Article 370 and has its own Constitution, became the last in the country to adopt the new taxation law, making “one nation, one tax” a reality.

The legislation — the Jammu and Kashmir Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 — was passed by a voice vote amid protests and boycott by the opposition that accused the government of compromising the special status by seeking a presidential order for extending the new tax regime in the state.

However, Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, who moved the bill in the assembly, said the government had sought the presidential order to assure Kashmir’s special status was safeguarded and that there was no impingement in the Article 370 or the state’s constitutions.

“Although there is no tradition of tabling a presidential order in the assembly, we are starting a new tradition in the democracy of the state by tabling this order in the House,” he said.

Drabu said the new tax regime would roll out in Jammu and Kashmir at midnight.

The state government on Wednesday passed a resolution in the assembly seeking a presidential order on a constitutional amendment. The state cabinet under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti then cleared a draft order for concurrence of President Mukherjee.

The government received on Friday morning the order relating to the application of provisions of the Constitution of India through an order of the President issued under Article 370 that gives special status to the state.

“Notwithstanding anything contained in this order, the powers of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as per Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, shall remain intact.

“Nothing in this article shall affect in any manner whatsoever the legislative competence of the state as guaranteed by virtue of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir,” the order read, adding that the state legislature “shall have the powers to make laws with respect to Goods and Services Tax”.

It said the concurrence of the representatives of the state in the Goods and Service Tax Council shall be mandatory and the procedure provided under Article 370 shall be followed for the purpose of any decision impinging on the constitutional provisions relating to the state.

Chief Minister Mufti said it was for the first time in the history since 1947 that “such a reassuring language about the special status and the powers of the state legislature has been used” while extending any central law in Jammu and Kashmir.

She also complimented her ally BJP — which has been demanding revocation of the Article 370 — for its support in securing the constitutional status of the state.

The entire opposition boycotted the session even as the Congress also walked out on the last day of the four-day special session.

Immediately after the passage of the bill, Speaker Kavinder Gupta announced adjourned the House sine-die.

Drabu at the end of the session made two “unusual requests” to the Speaker, seeking “a salute” from National Conference leader Devender Rana and resignation of Congress MLA G.M. Saroori.

Earlier, Rana had said he would salute Drabu if adequate constitutional safeguards were included in the preamble of the Presidential order on GST, while Saroori had said if the safeguards were included in the presidential order he would put in his papers. (IANS)

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