ECONOMY - 2018 FEBRUARY

February 1

Google has completed its acquisition of HTC's smartphone business, which cost more than $1 billion
Google has announced it completed the acquisition process of Taiwanese device maker HTC and its smartphone division.
The deal, valued at $1.1 billion (£785 million), will see some 2,000 HTC engineers join the ranks of the search giant. Google will also receive a non-exclusive license of the Taiwanese firm's intellectual properties (IPs).
HTC will keep operating independently with regard to its virtual reality (VR) operations inside the standalone Vive VR division, and will also bring to market a number of HTC-branded smartphones too.
In addition to a team that has already worked on the two Pixel smartphones (which were outsourced to HTC), Google is also gaining a big facility in Taipei, Taiwan, which marks its biggest new headquarters in South-East Asia and establishes a noteworthy presence in the area.

India’s Growth Fells To 7.1% In 2016-17 From 8.2% In 2015-16: CSO
In line with the earlier official estimate of the country's GDP growth in the last fiscal, demonetisation-hit India's gross domestic product during 2016-17 grew at 7.1 per cent, Central Statistics Office (CSO).
According to the CSO's first revised estimates of national income released on the eve of the Union Budget for the next fiscal, growth last year came in lower than the 8.2 per cent rate for 2015-16. This has been revised upwards from its provisional estimate of 8 per cent.
In terms of Gross Value Added (GVA), which excludes taxes while including subsidies, the revised estimates showed a lower growth at 7.1 per cent for 2016-17, also as compared to the 8.1 per cent real GVA growth registered for 2015-16.

E-way bill roll out: New system for transportation of goods
New e-way bill system will come into effect. Under the new system, every transporter will have to carry a system-generated bill to move goods from one place to another.
These bills can be generated from the GSTN portal. The e-way bill system was introduced to bring uniformity across the states for seamless inter-state movement of goods.
The system was to be implemented earlier, but couldn't be done as the required IT infrastructure wasn't in place. Last month, the GST Council decided to implement the e-way bill mechanism throughout the country from February 1.
In a notification, the GSTN informed the transporters that E-way bill would become mandatory for inter-state movements of goods from February 1, 2018.

February 2

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Presented The Union Budget 2018-19
Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley presented Union Budget 2018-19 in Parliament.
Union Budget of India is referred to as the Annual Financial Statement in the Article 112 of the Constitution of India.
To strengthen agriculture, rural development, health, education, employment, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and infrastructure sectors.
Agriculture
Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all unannounced kharif crops and majority of Rabi Crops will be at least 1.5 times of their production cost.
Volume of institutional credit for agriculture sector will be raised to Rs. 11 lakh crore for the year 2018-19 (as compared to Rs. 10 lakh crore in 2017-18).
Jaitley Jaitley announced setting up Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) for financing infrastructure requirement of animal husbandry sector and Fisheries and Aqua culture Infrastructure Development Fund (FAIDF) for fisheries sector. Total corpus for these two funds will be Rs.10000 crore.
“Operation Greens” will be launched to address the challenge of price volatility of perishable commodities like tomato, onion and potato. Financial outlay for this initiative will Rs 500 Crore.
Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund (with a corpus of Rs.2000 crore) will be setup for developing and upgrading agricultural marketing infrastructure in 22000 Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) and 585 APMCs.
Rural Economy & Livelihood:
In 2018-19, all Union Ministries will spend Rs. 14.34 lakh crore for creation of livelihood and infrastructure in rural areas.
This expenditure will create employment of 321 crore person days, 3.17 lakh km of rural roads, 51 lakh new rural houses, 1.88 crore toilets and will provide 1.75 crore new household electric connections
Loans to Self Help Groups of women will increase to Rs.75000 crore by March, 2019.
Allocation of National Rural Livelihood Mission has been increased to Rs 5750 crore in 2018-19.
Under Ujjwala Scheme, free LPG connections will be given to 8 crore poor women instead of the previous target of 5 crore women.
Education and Social Protection:
For 2018-19, estimated budgetary expenditure on health, education and social protection is Rs.1.38 lakh crore. For 2017-18, it was Rs.1.22 lakh crore.
Ekalavya Model Residential School (on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas) will be set up by 2022 to provide the best quality education to the tribal children in their own environment.
“Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022‟ with a total investment of Rs. 100000 crore (in next four years) has been announced. Objective of this initiative is to step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions, including health institutions. Higher Education financing Agency (HEFA) will be set up to look after the funding for this initiative.
“Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF)” Scheme will be launched, under which, 1000 best B.Tech students will be identified each year and will be provided facilities to undertake Ph.D in IITs and IISc.
Health & Social Protection:
Mr. Jaitley announced National Health Protection Scheme to provide health coverage upto 5 lakh rupees to 10 crore poor and vulnerable families. This is being termed as world’s largest government funded health care programme.
Rs 1200 crore has been committed for the National Health Policy, 2017, for bringing 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres closer to the homes of people.
600 crore has been allocated to provide nutritional support to all TB patients at the rate of Rs.500 per 10 month for the duration of their treatment.
24 new Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals will be set up by upgrading existing district hospitals in the country.
Under Namami Gange Programme, 187 projects (entailing Rs. 16713 crore cost) have been sanctioned for infrastructure development, rural sanitation, river surface cleaning and other interventions.
Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs):
Rs. 3794 crore has been allocated for giving credit support, capital and interest subsidy and for innovations in MSMEs.
For 2018-19, target of Rs. 3 lakh crore has been set for lending Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) loans.
Employment Generation:
Citing an independent study, Mr. Jaitley stated that 70 lakh formal jobs will be created in 2018-19.
Government will contribute 12% of the wages of the new employees in Employees Provident Fund (EPF) for all the sectors for next three years.
It has been proposed to make amendments in the EPF and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 to reduce women employees’ contribution to 8% for first three years of their employment against existing rate of 12% or 10% with no change in employers’ contribution.
Outlay for the textiles sector in 2018-19 will be Rs.7148 crore.
Infrastructure Development:
For 2018-19, budgetary allocation on infrastructure has been increased to Rs.5.97 lakh crore against estimated expenditure of Rs. 4.94 lakh crore in 2017-18.
In a bid to boost tourism, ten prominent tourist sites will be developed into Iconic Tourism destinations.
Approval for 35000 kms road construction under Phase-I Bharatmala Programme has been granted. Estimated cost will be Rs. 535000 crore.
Railways:
4000 kilometers of electrified railway network will be commissioned in near future.
During 2018-19, 12000 wagons, 5160 coaches and approximately 700 locomotives will be procured.
Total allocation on infrastructure Rs. 5.97 lakh
Railways Capital Expenditure Rs. 148528 crore
Air Transport:
Under a new initiative ‘NABH Nirman’, current airport capacity will be expanded by more than five times to handle a billion trips a year.
56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads would be connected under the Regional connectivity scheme of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik).
Digital Economy:
NITI Aayog will initiate a national program to direct efforts in artificial intelligence.
A Mission on Cyber Physical Systems to support establishment of centres of excellence for research, training and skilling in robotics, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, big data analysis, quantum communication and internet of things will be launched by Department of Science & Technology.
For 2018-19, allocation on Digital India programme has been doubled to Rs 3073 crore.
Five lakh wifi hotspots will be set up to provide net connectivity to five crore rural citizens.
For 2018-19, Rs. 10000 has been allocated for creation and augmentation of Telecom infrastructure.
Defence:
India’s defence budget has been hiked by 7.81% to Rs 295511 crore from Rs 274114 crore last year
Development of two defence industrial production corridors has been proposed.
Industry friendly Defence Production Policy 2018 will be brought out to promote domestic production by public sector, private sector and MSMEs.
Fiscal Management:
Revised Estimates for expenditure in 2017-18 are Rs. 21.57 lakh crore (net of GST compensation transfers to the States).
For 2018-19, Total Expenditure will be Rs. 17.25 lakh crore.Jaitley has projected a Fiscal Deficit of 3.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the year 2018-19.
Miscellaneous:
A unified authority for regulating all financial services will be established in International Finance Service Centre (IFSCs) in India.
Gold Trading: Policy will be formed to promote Gold as an asset class. Regulated Gold exchanges will be established. Gold Monetisation scheme will be revamped.
Disinvestment target for 2018-19 is Rs. 80000 crore.
Three Public Sector Insurance companies National Insurance Co. Ltd., United India Assurance Co. Ltd., and Oriental India insurance Co. Ltd., will be merged into a single insurance entity.
Monthly emoluments of President, Vice President and Governor have been revised to Rs. 5 lakh, Rs. 4 lakh and Rs. 3.5 lakh.

China’s Alibaba invests $146 million in online grocer BigBasket
A unit of China’s Alibaba has invested $146 million in online grocer BigBasket, strengthening its position in the country’s online retail space.
Alibaba.com Singapore Ecommerce Pvt Ltd led the $196.7 million Series E funding round, which was approved by the BigBasket board in January.
Online grocery sales are fast becoming popular in India, with BigBasket, SoftBank-backed rival Grofers and Amazon’s India unit vying for a bigger piece of the market.
Sands Capital Pvt Growth Ltd, International Finance Corp and Abraaj Basket I Pvt Ltd also participated in the latest funding round.

DoT to set up 5G development centre in tie-up with IIT Chennai
The Finance Minister has announced that the Department of Telecom will set up a development centre to work on 5G technologies in partnership with IIT, Chennai.
5G technology is still being standardised globally and India has the opportunity to take the lead in the development of this technology. 5G will enable applications such as Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine internet.
Action has already begun in 5G technology in educational institutions with Ericsson and IIT Delhi signing an MoU to jointly roll out a ‘5G for India’ programme.
Ericsson will set up a Center of Excellence with a 5G test bed and incubation center at IIT Delhi and use this facility to drive development of the country’s 5G ecosystem.

Cochin Shipyard Limited signs MoU with Russian firm for development of vessels
Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) and Joint Stock Company United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), Russia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate and engage in Design, Development and Execution of contemporary, State-of-Art vessels for Inland and Coastal Waterways.
CSL and USC will collaborate for development of High-Speed Vessels, River-Sea Cargo Vessels, Passenger Vessels, Dredgers, and other watercrafts for inland waterways and coastal shipping.
The MoU will give a push to the Government’s Make-in-India programme, as also its plans to develop eco-friendly and economic transportation along India’s inland waterways and coastal shipping routes under SAGARMALA.
Once the infrastructure for water based transport is in place there will be a demand for different kinds of specialized vessels in the near and medium term. The MoU is an effort to get ready to cater to this demand.

February 3

Nepal gets a high Rs. 650 crore outlay
India’s annual financial allocation to Nepal for 2018-19 has nearly doubled under the Union Budget presented.
The External Affairs Ministry has been allocated a total Rs. 15,011 crore, which indicates a marginal increase of Rs. 1,321 crore over the previous year’s grant.
For India’s development and diplomatic engagement under the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, the Budget has allocated Rs. 5545 crore. Bhutan is traditionally the largest recipient of Ministry’s allocation.
It has maintained the same position even as the allocation increased by Rs. 71 crore to touch Rs. 2,650 crore.

February 4

Reliance Industries to invest Rs 2,500 crore in Assam, create 80,000 jobs
Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani announced an investment of Rs 2,500 crore in Assam in various sectors, including retail, petroleum, telecom, tourism and sports, creating jobs for at least 80,000 people over the next three years.
Under this programme, the company will enhance its retail division's outlet to 40 from existing two, while the number of petrol depots will be increased to 165 from the existing 27.
Assam has always been a low priority market for other telecom operators, but it is a 'Category A' market for Reliance.

GAIL places Rs. 440 crore order for pipeline to Urja Ganga
GAIL (India) Ltd has placed an order worth Rs. 440 crore for laying 350-km pipeline from Vijaipur in Madhya Pradesh to Auraiya in Uttar Pradesh. This is part of the spurline of 665 km from Vijaipur to Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh to the existing upgradation pipeline system.
The pipeline laying contracts for the 315-km stretch from Auraiya to Phulpur was awarded in November 2016.
The Vijaipur to Phulpur pipeline will provide the gas feed to the ongoing 2,655-km-long Jagdispur-Haldia-Bokaro-Dhamra pipeline (JHBDPL) project of GAIL, also known as the ‘Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga’ project.

February 5

Singtel to spend up to $413 million to nudge up stake in India's Bharti Telecom
Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) would spend up to $413 million on shares in India's Bharti Telecom, lifting its stake slightly in the holding company for Bharti Airtel to just under half.
India's telecommunications sector has been hit hard by a price war since the entry of carrier Reliance Jio, the telecoms arm of Reliance Industries, more than a year ago.
The purchase worth as much as 26.5 billion rupees could increase Singtel's stake in Bharti Telecom by up to 1.7 percentage points to 48.9 percent and its holding in Bharti Airtel, the country's biggest mobile carrier, by up to 0.9 percentage points to 39.5 percent. The deal will be done via a preferential share allotment.
Singtel has assembled a portfolio of stakes in regional mobile firms outside its small home market, and overseas businesses now account for about 75 percent of its core earnings.

February 6

India FY2019 fiscal deficit to come in at 3.5% of GDP: Report
India’s fiscal deficit is expected to come in at 3.5 per cent of GDP in financial year 2018-19, as policymakers seek to promote economic growth by reducing the pace of fiscal consolidation.
According to the report by BMI Research, a unit of Fitch Group, there is room for fiscal slippage as the government seeks to achieve its 7.5 per cent growth target.
Therefore revising our forecast for the financial year 2018-19 fiscal deficit to come in at 3.5 per cent of GDP, from 3.3 per cent previously.
The government outlined a fiscal deficit target of 3.3 per cent of GDP in 2018-19 as against a revised estimate of 3.5 per cent in 2017-18, indicating some fiscal consolidation, albeit at a slower pace than that recommended under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) framework.

Ola to pilot river taxi service in Guwahati, signs MoU with Assam govt
Bengaluru-based cab aggregator Ola has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Assam to pilot an app-based river taxi service in Guwahati, which is the financial hub of Northeast.
The river taxis will be a machine-operated boat, which is faster than the ones in use and will help bring down the commute time down to 2-5 minutes from 45 minutes by road. These high-speed taxis that Ola will pilot will be high-speed taxis and will be operated on the Lachit Ghat, Machkhowa to North Guwahati route.
Ola is looking to enable advance bookings and cashless payments to make bookings more convenient and streamlined by making them app-based. It is aimed at boosting and strengthening the transportation ecosystem.

Capgemini acquires LiquidHub for 400 million euros, aims to boost India presence
The French IT services and consulting major Capgemini agreed to acquire LiquidHub, a digital technology services company. The cost of the acquisition is understood to be twice the revenues of LiquidHub, which is estimated to be around 400 million euros, going by its 2017 revenue.
Chrys Capital backed LiquidHub employs around 2,500 employees globally, of which around 1,500 are located in India, including Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Gurgaon.

February 7

Maharashtra becomes first state to clear policy to promote use of technology in financial services
With an eye to promote cashless economy, reduce carbon footprints, boost indigenous production of defence equipment and create jobs in small and medium units, the Maharashtra cabinet announced a raft of incentives.
To make Mumbai and its adjoining areas as “fintech (the financial technology) capital of the world”, the cabinet cleared a policy to help start-ups in the sector a first in the country. Fintech refers to use of technology in financial and banking services (eg. e-wallets, retail banking etc).
Under the fintech policy, the state government plans to create an environment where start-ups would be nurtured and allowed to grow as it has announced a slew of incentives for the first three years. The state government will support 300 fintech start-ups in the next three years.

Google, NCERT partner for internet safety training in schools
Google and NCERT signed a pact to integrate a course on ‘Digital Citizenship and Safety’ in information and communication technology curriculum.
The safety awareness programme with Google can be scaled by training teachers on latest development that takes place in internet space.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has curriculum on IT and communication technologies embedded in teachers training programme.
The curriculum developed by NCERT in collaboration with Google will be used to train students from class I to class XII across 1.4 million schools in India where they will learn how to become good and responsible digital citizens.

Uber, transport ministry partner to push road safety awareness
As part of its ongoing efforts to encourage road safety awareness, on demand ride-sharing company Uber joined hands with Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to push for the cause in the country which witnesses around five lakh accidents every year.
Uber will jointly promote road safety messaging on its mobile application and the social media through co-branded materials and mediums.
Ensuring road safety is key priority for the government as India witnesses around five lakh accidents and 1.5 lakh deaths every year.
This effort to make our roads safer has to be a collaborative multi-pronged initiative that needs joint action from policymakers, civic authorities, automobile industry, civil society and commuters in general.

February 8

Google, Tata Trusts promote IT adoption among TN rural women
Adding another chapter to its digital literacy initiative to empower women in rural India, Google India and Tata Trusts expanded their Internet Saathi programme to over 4,000 villages across six districts of Tamil Nadu.
The global IT giant and the Tamil Nadu government also announced their plan to facilitate the provision of Google Cloud credits and access through its affiliate for eligible startups engaged with the Tamil Nadu government’s startup initiative.
Google India will also, through its developer relations team, provide technical mentorship and advisory support to various startups.

Digital transactions rise to 1.11 billion in January
Digital transactions reached a new peak in January in terms of volume after crossing the 1 billion mark last month. They rose 4.73% to 1.11 billion in January from 1.06 billion
The impact of the government’s decision to bear merchant discount rate (MDR) for a period of two years, applicable on transactions made through debit cards, BHIM UPI and Aadhaar-enabled payments system (AEPS), which was implemented from 1 January, is clear, with a significant increase in the volume of transactions made through these modes during the month.
Transactions across UPI reached a new peak in January. The transaction volume was 151.7 million, up around 4% from 145.5 million in the previous month. The value of transactions rose around 18% to Rs 155.4 billion in January from Rs. 131.4 billion in the previous month. Out of this, Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) accounts for 9.57 million transactions, amounting to Rs 3.65 billion.

Google to buy Chelsea Market building for over $2 billion – report
Alphabet Inc’s Google has agreed to pay more than $2 billion for New York City’s Chelsea Market building.
Google, already the largest tenant with about 400,000 square feet in the building, is buying the property from Atlanta-based real estate investment firm Jamestown LP.
Google's plans for the building were unclear but it is expected to maintain the status quo at the property's retail component.
The 1.2 million-square-foot office-and-retail property at 75 Ninth Avenue houses a popular food hall and such tenants as Major League Baseball, the New York 1 news channel and the Food Network.

February 9

CCI slaps Rs 136 crore fine on Google for unfair business practices
The Competition Commission imposed a fine of Rs 136 crore on search engine major Google for unfair business practices in the Indian market for online search. Passing the order on complaints that were filed back in 2012. The penalty is being imposed on Google for "infringing anti-trust conduct".
Globally, this is one of the rare cases where Google has been penalised for unfair business ways. It was alleged that Google is indulging in abuse of dominant position in the market for online search through practices leading to search bias and search manipulation, among others.
The penalty amount of Rs 135.86 crore translates to 5 per cent of the companys average total revenue generated from India operations from its different business segments for the financial years 2013, 2014 and 2015, according to the CCI order.

February 10

Paisabazaar.com collaborates with Microsoft to build 'industry first' technologies
Online lending marketplace Paisabazaar.com has entered into a partnership with Microsoft to drive an 'industry first' technology innovation on its platform using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
As part of the overall partnership, Paisabazaar.com will move its entire infrastructure to Microsoft Azure.
Paisabazaar.com receives customers from varied segments from more than 750 cities and towns across India every month. By building cutting-edge technology on Microsoft cloud, Paisabazaar.com intends to offer customized, tailor-made and secure solutions for each consumer coming to its platform.

February 11

Direct tax collections rise 19.3% in April- Jan
Direct tax collections grew by nearly 20 per cent between April and January this year with strong growth in both corporate and personal income tax receipts. Net direct tax collections grew by 19.3 per cent up to January 2018 to 6.95 lakh crore.
This amounts to 69.2 per cent of the Revised Estimates of Direct Taxes for 2017-18 of 10.05 lakh crore.
While net corporate income tax grew by 19.2 per cent, personal income tax receipts rose by 18.6 per cent in January this year. Gross tax collections also grew at a robust 13.3 per cent to 8.21-lakh crore between April 2017 and January 2018.
Refunds worth 1.26-lakh crore were issued between April 2017 and January 2018.

February 12

India signs first concessional agreement with UAE in oil sector
India signed the first concessional agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the oil sector.
The single most important agreement that was signed and which reflects a change in our energy relationship with the UAE was the one signed between a consortium of the Indian oil companies and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) for the acquisition of 10% participating interest in the offshore Lower Zakum Concession.
It is the first concessional agreement which has been signed between ADNOC and India which will be for 40 years from 2018 to 2057.

Data centre infra provider CtrlS to invest Rs. 500 crore in Bengaluru
Data centre infrastructure provider CtrlS will invest Rs. 500 crore in creating a 1.8 lakh sq ft facility in Bengaluru.
the data centre infrastructure provider wants to expand capacity at a time when it sees significant pent up demand in the city, which is home to many Indian and multinational technology companies, as well as government organisations.
The company is setting up this data centre, largely to service National Securities Depository Ltd. till date, the company, which has received private equity investment from New York, has invested around Rs. 700 crore in setting data centres in Hyderabad and Mumbai.

February 13

Wipro arm launches Internet of Lighting solutions with Cisco
Wipro Lighting has collaborated with leading global technology companies such as Cisco and pureLi-Fi, Scotland, to come up with Internet of Lighting (IoL) solutions for smart and connected indoor and outdoor lighting.
The company showcased a range of digital lighting solutions using IoT and Big Data at ‘LightShow’, in Bengaluru, its signature event to showcase its design, innovation and product capabilities.
With these solutions, the company is looking to tap an addressable market opportunity of Rs. 7,000-8,000 crore, which is the market size for commercial indoor (offices) and outdoor (smart cities) lighting.
The company has collaborated with Cisco for Power on Ethernet (PoE) based lighting solutions and human-centric lighting solutions. It has partnered with pureLi-Fi of Scotland to deliver high speed and secure data transmission through LED luminaires.

Idea Cellular raises Rs. 3,250 crore via preferential allotment
Idea Cellular, the country’s third-largest wireless operator by subscribers, has raised Rs. 3,250 crore through preferential allotment of shares to promoter Aditya Birla Group entities.
Following the allotment, the shareholding of the promoter group in Idea increased to 47.2 per cent from 42.4 per cent earlier. The telecom operator has allotted 32.66 crore equity shares at Rs. 99.50 a share.
This equity infusion reiterates the group’s commitment towards the telecom business and confidence in its growth prospects.
Idea is in the process of bringing a world-class 4G network to villages, towns and cities across India that will contribute to the transition of the Indian populace towards a digital lifestyle.

February 14

NTPC bags order to supply 300 MW electricity to Bangladesh
NTPC, India's biggest electricity producer has won a tender to supply 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity to Bangladesh for 15 years.
Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) had invited tenders for supply of 500 MW power from India for short term (June 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019) and long term (January 1, 2020 to May 31, 2033).
NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), Adani Group, PTC and Singapore-bases Sembcorp submitted bids by the scheduled date of January 11.Financial bid was opened on February 11.
NVVN, wholly-owned subsidiary of NTPC Limited, emerged as successful bidder (L1), both in short term and long term for 300 MW power.

Government of India makes Amendments in Small Savings Act
Proposes merger of Government Savings Certificates Act, 1959 and Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 with the Government Savings Banks Act, 1873.
All existing protections have been retained while consolidating PPF Act under the proposed Government Savings Promotion Act.
The Government gives highest priority to the interest of small savers, especially savings for the benefit of girl child, the senior citizens and the regular savers who form the backbone of our country’s savings architecture.
In order to remove existing ambiguities due to multiple Acts and rules for Small Saving Schemes and further strengthen the objective of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”, Government of India has proposed merger of Government Savings Certificates Act, 1959 and Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 with the Government Savings Banks Act, 1873.

Defence Ministry fast-tracks purchase of Light Machine Guns and sniper rifles for soldiers
Responding to a long-pending demand for equipping soldiers deployed on the borders with modern personal weapons, Defence Ministry cleared the procurement of sniper rifles and Light Machine Guns (LMGs) for the armed forces on a fast-track basis.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by the defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman accorded approval to Capital Acquisition Proposals of approximately Rs 15,935 crore. Essential quantity of LMGs will be procured for the armed forces through the Fast Track Procedure at an estimated cost of over Rs 1819 crore.
This procurement will meet the operational requirement of the troops deployed on the borders, while the proposal for balance quantity of LMGs will be undertaken under the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ categorisation.

February 15

BHEL bags Rs 560 crore order from NTPC to install emission control equipment in Dadri power station
Power equipment maker BHEL has bagged an order worth Rs 560 crore for supply and installation of the flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) system from NTPC for 2x490 MW National Capital Power Station (NCPS) at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh.
The notification calls for installation of equipment to control various harmful emissions, both in existing as well as new thermal power plants. The order has been secured by BHEL against stiff competition from Indian and multinational companies.
Earlier, BHEL has executed the FGD system at Tata Power's Trombay Unit 8 in 2008 and is currently installing FGD systems at NTPC's 3x250 MW Bongaigaon project.
The company has also recently received orders for installation of FGD system at 5x800 MW Yadadri project of TSGENCO and 2x660 MW Maitree project in Bangladesh. With the ordering of Dadri, BHEL has contracted FGD orders for 13 units till date.

February 16

Flipkart-owned PhonePe ties up with Indian Oil to deploy PoS devices
Flipkart-backed PhonePe has partnered with Indian Oil Corporation to deploy its own point-of-sales (PoS) payment terminals across all IOCL retail outlets nationally.
As part of the pilot program, PhonePe PoS devices have already been installed at 30 IOCL outlets.
The device will allow IOCL customers to pay using UPI, credit and debit cards, PhonePe wallet, or other external wallets including JIO money and Freecharge.
It's interesting to note that PhonePe rivals - Softbank-backed Paytm and Sequoia Capital-backed Mobikwik have also directly tied up with various oil and gas distribution outlets in India.

India’s First Artificial Intelligence Centre to come up in Mumbai
In a first, India will be getting an institute for artificial intelligence (AI) in Mumbai. Maharashtra state government will be setting up an institute AI in India’s financial capital.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will unveil the plan for the institute during the Magnetic Maharashtra Summit, and at the Global Economic Conference in Canada next month.
This AI institute will give a fresh impetus to the fourth industrial revolution and promote Mumbai as an investment destination in innovation and data analysis.

Centre to change base year for GDP, IIP to 2017-18, for CPI it will be 2018
The government will change the base year to 2017-18 for the calculation of GDP and IIP numbers while for retail inflation the year will be revised to 2018.
During 2018-19, the ministry is proposing to initiate steps to revise the base years of gross domestic product (GDP), Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) to accommodate and factor the changes that take place in the economic scenario of the country.
The statistics ministry has proposed the new base year for GDP and IIP as 2017-18 while for CPI it will be 2018.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) has been allocated Rs 48.59 billion in the Union Budget 2018-19.

February 17

WhatsApp payment service to launch with full UPI features after beta test: NPCI
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella organisation for all retail payments in India announced that WhatsApp’s payment service with full-fledged features will be launched after the beta test of the service in India.
NPCI had consented to Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s beta launch of the service in India with a limited number of users.
NPCI has given its consent to roll out WhatsApp BHIM UPI beta launch with limited user base of 1 million and low per transaction limit. Four banks will join the multi-bank BHIM UPI model in phases and full feature product shall be released after the beta test is successful.
A multi-bank model offer advantage such as transaction load distribution between banks and helps to integrate popular apps easily with BHIM UPI.

ONGC to introduce Asia’s first large scale CO2 injection technique at Gandhar field
Moving beyond conventional techniques, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) plans to introduce carbon dioxide injection in its Gandhar field to recover an extra 20 million barrels of crude oil under the enhanced oil recovery (EOR) programme which is being undertaken to improve India’s energy security.
While the technology is a proven concept in the West specially the US and Canada, ONGC’s project would be the first large scale CO2-injected project in Asia.
ONGC plans to invest $75 million in CO2 capture and another $200 million in injector producer network to recover an extra 15 per cent of residual oil currently valued at $1.36 billion. It will be operational in 20 months.
Gandhar, one of ONGC’s major brownfields, was discovered in 1983. The field produces approximately 30,000 barrels of oil per day and is on the decline. ONGC is in talks with NTPC for utilising nearly 5 million tonnes of emitted gas from the latter’s Gandhar plant.

February 18

349 infrastructure projects show cost overrun of Rs 2 lakh crore.
As many as 349 infrastructure projects, each worth Rs 150 crore and above, have shown cost overruns to the tune of Rs 2 lakh crore owing to delays and other reasons.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation monitors infrastructure projects worth Rs 150 crore and above.
Total original cost of implementation of the 1,283 projects was Rs 15,58,352.33 crore and their anticipated completion cost is likely to be Rs 17,59,443.87 crore, which reflects overall cost overruns of Rs 2,01,091.54 crore (12.90% of original cost).
According to the report, the expenditure incurred on these projects till October 2017 was Rs 6,59,009.46 crore, which is 37.46 per cent of the anticipated cost.

Gadkari writes for ET: What turned around US & China is now set to give India an edge
The most tangible evidence of a nation’s progress is its infrastructure and that’s essentially what India lacked, which eventually hampered our growth rate and made us uncompetitive in terms of logistics cost.
Infrastructure sector is a key driver of the Indian economy. We have already seen how highways turned around the US economy and how port and shipping sector gave a much-needed impetus to China.
Barring the tenure of NDA I, roads, highways, shipping, water resources and river development never got importance in the government’s scheme of things.
The government’s mission of ease of doing business has now been expanded to ease of living, as announced in the recent Union budget. Infrastructure is key to both.
There has been an unprecedented three-fold hike in infrastructure lending since 2014. For the next financial year, the estimated budgetary and extra-budgetary expenditure on infrastructure has been increased to Rs 5.97 lakh crore.
India will require investments of over $4.5 trillion by 2040 for the development of its infrastructure, according to the Economic Survey 2017-18.

February 19

Amazon becomes first foreign ecommerce firm to enter food retail venture in India.
Amazon has rolled out its own food retailing business in India with a pilot in Pune, becoming the first foreign ecommerce firm to stock and sell food items directly to consumers.
Amazon is now a vendor on Amazon.in, The products are sold by Amazon Retail India Pvt. Ltd.
Amazon had last year secured the government’s permission to invest $500 millio in a wholly-owned venture to retail locally produced and packaged food products through offline and online channels.
Amazon is continue to be on track to launch our food retail business in India. The development comes at a time when Amazon’s global rival Walmart is in talks to purchase a stake in India’s homegrown ecommerce company Flipkart.

CBI investigating Rotomac promoter for Rs. 3,700 crore loan default.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against Vikram Kothari, promoter of Rotomac Pens, for allegedly siphoning off Rs. 3,695 crore in bank loan funds.
The agency also conducted raids at residential and office premises of the accused at Kanpur. The case has been registered on the basis of a complaint filed by the Bank of Baroda.
It is alleged that the company, through its Directors, in a criminal conspiracy among themselves and other bank officials, cheated Bank of Baroda to the tune of Rs. 616.69 crore.
The total outstanding amount of the members of consortium of seven banks i.e. Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank, Union Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Bank of Maharashtra & Oriental Bank of Commerce - has come to Rs. 3,695 crore (approx), including unapplied interest, by siphoning off bank loans disbursed.
The loan exposure of the banks is as follows - Bank of India: Rs. 754.77 crore; Bank of Baroda: Rs. 456.63 crore; Indian Overseas Bank: Rs. 771.07 crore; Union Bank of India: Rs. 458.95 crore; Allahabad Bank: Rs. 330.68 crore; Bank of Maharashtra: Rs. 49.82 crore; Oriental Bank of Commerce: Rs. 97.47 crore.

February 20

RIL to pay $48 million for 5% stake in Eros International
Reliance Industries Ltd will acquire a 5 per cent equity stake in the NYSE-listed Eros International Plc for $48.77 million. RIL has picked the equity at a price of $15 per share, which represents an 18 per cent premium to the last closing price.
RIL and Eros International Media Ltd also would partner in India to jointly produce and consolidate content across India. The two parties will together invest up to 1,000 crore to produce and acquire Indian films and digital originals across all languages.
The move is part of get access to content as it builds a digital business on the Reliance Jio platform. It has inked several deals in the media space, including the recent one to acquire a 65 per cent stake in Indian Film Combine for 1,105 crore.

Koinex to launch global crypto-assets in India
Koinex, a digital assets exchange, will list two global crypto-assets - OmiseGO (OMG) and Request (REQ) - on its exchange and enabling trading in them from February 23.
This would be the first time Request would be available for trading in India, while OMG has been in the Indian market for the past few months.
Both these tokens are sought-after assets in the global markets due to their efficient and future-ready technology, which promises to bring a disruptive innovation in the areas of online payments, banking and e-commerce.

February 21

Commercial coal mining opened for private sector
Opening up commercial coal mining for Indian and foreign companies in the private sector, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved.
The government described the move as the most ambitious reform of the sector since its nationalisation in 1973.
Coal accounts for around 70% of the country’s power generation. The company accounts for 84% of India’s coal output.
As the entire revenue from the auction of coal mines for sale of coal would accrue to the coal bearing States, this methodology shall incentivise them with increased revenues which can be utilised for the growth and development of backward areas and their inhabitants including tribals.

UP government signs pact with Amazon India for khadi products sale
Uttar Pradesh’s Khadi and Village Industries Board signed a pact with Amazon India to facilitate online selling of Khadi products.
As part of an MoU, Amazon India will educate, train and enable rural khadi artisans to directly sell their products to Amazon.in customers across the country under the brand of UP Khadi.
Khadi-India’s signature fabric has seen a new wave of acceptance from customers in the last few years.
This venture into the online commerce space truly supports government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative and we look forward to providing our support to Amazon in this journey. While Khadi and Village Industries Board CEO Avinash Krishna Singh signed the MoU on behalf of the Uttar Pradesh Government, Seller Services Director and GM Gopal Pillai signed on behalf of Amazon India.

Cabinet Committee on Economic approves six rail projects in 4 states.
The government approved six projects at a cost of Rs 11,661 crore for new lines as well as doubling and electrification of tracks, which would generate more than 200 lakh person days of employment in Uttar Pradesh and three other states.
The projects would cover 881 km of lines in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved doubling and electrification projects of the 425 km-long Jhansi-Manikpur and Bhimsen-Khairar lines at a completion cost of Rs 4955.72 crore.
The projects are likely to be completed by 2022-23. Railways provides employment opportunities to lakhs of people. Doubling of railway lines, electrification, development and modernisation of the railways will generate employment of 211 lakh man days.

February 22

EPFO cuts interest rate to 8.55% for 2017-18 from 8.65%
The Central Board of Trustees of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) recommended slashing the interest rate for its 5-crore subscribers to a five-year low of 8.55 per cent for the current financial year of 2017-18 from 8.65 per cent last year.
The EPFO will have a surplus of Rs 586 crore. Hopefully, the Finance Ministry will give its nod.
As per the estimates of EPFO’s Finance, Audit and Investment Committee (FAIC) shared at the meeting, retaining the previous year’s interest rate of 8.65 per cent would have resulted in a surplus of Rs 48 crore.
At 8.70 per cent interest on principal amount of Rs 5.38 lakh crore, the EPFO would have faced a deficit of around Rs 220 crore, while at 8.60 per cent interest rate, EPFO would have earned a surplus of Rs 318 crore, as per the FAIC calculations.

Jio to invest Rs 10,000 crore more in UP over 3 years
Reliance Jio Infocomm will invest a fresh Rs 10,000 crore in Uttar Pradesh over the next three years, and will make available 20 million JioPhones in the next two months in the state, Reliance Industries BSE -0.77 % .
RIL had already invested Rs 20,000 crore to build digital infrastructure, and created 40,000 direct and indirect jobs, and along with its other businesses such as retail, polyester and petroleum, will create over one lakh job opportunities in the state in the coming years.
Jio will establish a centre for the fourth industrial revolution within the campus of Areputed University in Uttar Pradesh. Talking about the JioPhone, virtually made the device free - considering a Rs 1,500 upfront deposit refundable after three years - because it wants even the poorest Indian to become digitally empowered.

Saudi to spend big on entertainment
Saudi Arabia announced plans to spend billion on building new venues and flying in Western acts. $64 billion reform plan includes lifting ban on cinemas, opening amusement parks.
Long known for its ultra-conservative mores, the kingdom has embarked on a wide-ranging programme of social and economic reforms driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Women can open their own businesses without the consent of a husband or male relative. The reforms are part of Prince Mohammed’s ambitious “Vision 2030” programme.
Saudis splurge billions annually on movies and visits to amusement parks in neighboring Dubai and Bahrain, which is accessible by a land causeway. Mr. Khhatib vowed to turn around that trend.

February 23

Mahindra Aerospace, Viking Air tie up for small aircraft biz
Mahindra Aerospace has inked an initial pact with Viking Air of Canada to support each other's non-competing aircraft business amid growing opportunities in the regional air connectivity space in India.
The pact is aimed at boosting market penetration in identified territories, and provides potential customers with multiple options based on specific operational requirements.
The Victoria (Canada)-based Viking Air is the global leader in utility aircraft services, and the manufacturer of the 19-seater passenger twin-engine utility turboprop aircraft, Series 400 Twin Otter, which is capable of operating from multiple surfaces including water.
Mahindra Aerospace and Viking Air have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a strategic alliance, which was signed during the on-going visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India.

Amrita Technology Business Incubator to invest $200,000 in three startups
Three startups - Yellow Messenger, Linksmart DNA and Bookmydiamond.com - have emerged as winners of PitchFest 2018 organised by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s Technology Business Incubator. The university intends to invest $200,000 in these three ventures as seed investment.
Yellow Messenger is a conversational artificial intelligence platform for enterprises to automate and orchestrate intelligent conversations with customers across channels: web, app, Alexa, Google Assistant, IVR, email, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter.
Linksmart DNA is an IP-oriented mass market vertical startup that secures products and packages from counterfeiting, tampering, refill and warranty fraud.
Bookmydiamond.com is a technology platform that helps jewellery retailers to search a live inventory of loose and certified diamonds and buy them.
Amrita TBI is supported by the Government of India and is recognised under the Startup India programme. Amrita TBI has incubated 83 startups and mentored 216 startup ideas and is among the few to see close to 100% success rate with its startup investments.

February 24

ArcelorMittal’s Rs. 50,000 crore Essar Steel bid lands it pole
L.N. Mittal’s ArcelorMittal has put in a bid exceeding Rs. 50,000 crore to acquire debt-laden Essar Steel, making it the highest offer at the sale of the steelmaker under the provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
ArcelorMittal’s bid is to be much higher than that of the Mauritius-based Numetal, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) in which Rewant Ruia - son of Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia - holds a stake, a source in the know of the development.
However, both bids need the interim resolution professional (IRP)’s nod on eligibility, especially Section 29A of the IBC that aims to bar defaulting promoters from bidding.
ArcelorMittal owned a 29% stake and was a co-promoter of Uttam Galva, a company which had featured in the Reserve Bank of India’s list of defaulting companies. However, the global steel major exited Uttam Galva earlier this month by transferring its stake to Sainath Trading Company, a co-promoter group entity.

Oil, lower than expected GST revenue, risks
There is a need to restore macroeconomic stability considering inflation has been rising, as have crude oil prices, with both the current account deficit and fiscal deficit coming under pressure.
The last three years have been a story of macro improvements. This has been confirmed by Moody’s upgrade of Indian government bonds to Baa2 from Baa3, while changing the outlook to stable from positive. However, it seems that apart from a cyclical recovery in GDP, all other macro parameters would either be static or would deteriorate. A GVA growth of 7.1% in FY2019 is expected, rising from 6.5% in FY2018.
Economic growth is likely to recover as the negative effects of demonetisation and GST recede. Government expenditure on the rural economy and the investment cycle will pick up from the second half of calender 2018.

February 25

70% IGST refund stuck due to flawed claims filed by exporters: CBEC
70 per cent of GST refunds stuck due to flawed information, the CBEC has asked exporters to amend the details in the final returns of subsequent month to enable the department to process the refund claims by March.
The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has sanctioned Rs 4,000 crore worth refunds to exporters in 4 months since October.
Still about Rs 10,000 crore worth claims are stuck due to discrepancies in the information furnished by exporters to GST Network (GSTN) in filing GSTR 1 or Table 6A or GSTR 3B and shipping bill filed with Customs.
The apex indirect tax authority where exporters have already filed information through Table 9 of GSTR-1, the information is being validated by GSTN. "The validated information is expected to be forwarded by GSTN to Customs by mid-March 2018 for further processing".

Taxmen asked to step up collections to meet Rs 10.05 lakh cr target
Faced with a daunting target of Rs 10.05 lakh crore, the apex decision making body for direct taxes CBDT has asked its field officers to step up efforts and put more focus on better performing zones.
In the 2018-19 Budget, the government has hiked the direct tax, which includes personal income tax and corporate tax, collection target to Rs 10.05 lakh crore, from Rs 9.80 lakh crore budgeted initially.
In a review meeting earlier this month, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has set higher target for zones which are performing well.
The focus areas of the department for stepping up tax collection will be to follow up with entities which are currently giving taxes on the basis of self-assessment.
In the April-January period, the government has collected Rs 6.95 lakh crore from direct taxes, which was 69.2 per cent of the revised estimate of Rs 10.05 lakh crore for full 2017-18 fiscal.

JSW Steel to buy Italy-based Aferpi for Rs. 600 crore
JSW Steel is close to acquiring Italy-based Aferpi, a steel firm, for Rs. 600 crore. The deal is almost finalised. Most probably, by the end of March or the beginning of April, it will be final.
Aferpi makes speciality long products for railways, bars for auto industry parts and earth-moving vehicles among others and is the second-largest steel maker in Italy.
The plan, for JSW, is to cater to the automobile customers of Europe. HR coils would be sent from India and further finished products would be sold to the customers.
JSW Energy plans to invest about Rs. 4,000 crore to produce e-vehicles in Gujarat and is scouting for a joint venture partner. It plans to roll out the first electric vehicle by 2020.

Reliance to invest Rs. 50,000 crore in AP
The Reliance Group will be investing Rs. 50,000 crore in Andhra Pradesh in the electronics, the IT and the petroleum sectors in a phased manner. The MoUs were signed.
Reliance Jio is investing Rs. 15,000 crore in setting up electronics park at Tirupati and the new capital city of Amaravati.
The unit in Tirupati will have the capacity to manufacture one million cell phones.
This will revolutionise the IT and the ITES industry and will be a huge step forward in making AP a hardware hub. The institute will be the best in India and on par with global standards.
The Reliance also proposed to invest Rs. 35,000 crore in the oil and gas sector in phases. These will generate 25,000 jobs in the years to come.

February 26

AP inks 734 MoUs for investments of Rs 4.39 lakh crore at CII partnership summit
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, that his government has signed 734 MoUs with business houses and individuals worth Rs 4.39 lakh crore for setting up of industries and launch start-ups.
Prominent among the big industrial houses that entered into agreements with the Andhra Pradesh government are Reliance, Adani Group, Lulu Group and Google.
The Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) inked projects worth Rs 55,000 crore in solar energy, electronics and innovation hubs in the state while the United Arab Emirates-based Lulu Group signed a MoU to build a convention centre, hotel and shopping mall in Visakhapatnam.
The Adani Group would invest Rs 9,000 crore including the development of a port at Bhavanapadu.

Indian GDP Growth In October-December Likely 6.9%, Best In 2017
India's economy grew at its fastest pace in a year in the October-December quarter as consumers, businesses and the government stepped up spending.
This suggests that disruptions from a shock ban on high-value currency notes in November 2016 and the chaotic launch of a goods and services tax (GST) in July are fading.
Gross domestic product grew 6.9 percent in the October-December quarter from a year earlier. In July-September, the economy grew 6.3 percent annually, a return to a faster growth trajectory after five consecutive quarters of slowdown.
What has also weighed on the economy is exports, which took a hit last year from an appreciating rupee, which strengthened 6.5 percent against the dollar in 2017.

Sterlite Tech to manage Navy’s communication network in Rs. 3,500 crore deal
Sterlite Technologies has won a Rs. 3,500 crore advance purchase order to design, build and manage the Indian Navy’s communications network.
Following the deal, the company’s share price rose as much as 10.36 per cent to Rs. 378.85.
The deal requires Sterlite to design, build and manage the communications network for over a decade. This is the first time an integrated naval communications network of such a scale is being built in India.
This will give Indian Navy digital defence supremacy that is at par with the best naval forces globally, adding, once completed; it will link multiple Indian naval sites and India-administered islands.

February 27

GST revenue slips in January to Rs. 86,318 crore from December
The Centre collected Rs. 86,318 crore in revenue from the Goods and Services Tax in January. About 1.03 crore taxpayers have been registered under GST so far till February 25, 2018.
The government had collected Rs. 86,703 crore in December from GST.
The government added that while 17.65 lakh dealers have so far been registered under the Composition Scheme, 1.23 lakh of these have opted out of the Scheme and have become regular taxpayers.
Till February 25, 16.42 lakh Composition Dealers that are required to file returns every quarter and the rest are required to file monthly returns.

HUL to offer tranche of Jan. GST benefits
Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) will offer another tranche of GST benefits to the government it could not pass on to customers for the month of January.
The fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) major has so far offered Rs. 60 crore for the month of November and another Rs. 59 crore for the month of December to be deposited into the Consumer Welfare Fund.
The DG Safeguards had asked HUL to explain the methodology behind the ₹119 crore profiteered sum, after the government referred its case to the agency.

Comcast challenges Murdoch and Disney with $31 bn offer for pay-TV provider Sky
U.S. cable giant Comcast offered to buy Sky for $31 billion in an unsolicited approach, taking on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and Bob Iger’s Walt Disney in the battle for Europe’s biggest pay-TV group.
The world’s biggest entertainment company, which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, it proposed to offer £12.50 per share, higher than the £10.75 Fox had agreed to pay for the British company.
Comcast bid $60 billion last year to clinch a deal with Murdoch’s Fox before losing out to Disney.
Shares in Sky soared 21% indicating that a bidding war was expected for a firm that provides sports programming, films and broadband to 23 million homes across Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Austria.
Fox agreed to buy the 61% of Sky it did not already own in December 2016 but the takeover has been held up by regulatory concerns that Mr. Murdoch wields too much influence in Britain.

EPFO fiat on withdrawals over Rs. 10 lakh
Retirement fund body EPFO has made it mandatory to file online claims for provident fund withdrawals above Rs. 10 lakh, taking another step towards becoming a paperless organization.
The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has also made it mandatory to file online claims for withdrawals of above ₹5 lakh under the Employees Pension Scheme 1995.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Central Provident Fund Commissioner on January 17.

Cement demand to see 4.5% growth in FY’19
Cement demand in India is likely to grow about 4.5 per cent in 2018-19 on the back of a pick-up in the housing segment, and a higher infrastructure spends.
Domestic cement production during April-December 2017-18 stood at 216.5 million tones (mt), higher by 2.7 per cent compared to 210.8 mt during the same period of the previous financial year.
For the ongoing fiscal demand is expected to grow around 3 per cent based on current trends as in December 2017, production increased 8.4 per cent month-on-month to 26.3 mt.
“This demand growth is bolstered by a pick-up in the housing segment - primarily affordable housing, rural housing and higher infrastructure spend.

February 28

Economy to grow at 7.6% in calendar year 2018: Moody’s
Moody’s Investors Service today estimated that India will grow 7.6 per cent in calendar year 2018 and 7.5 per cent in 2019, amid signs of economic recovery from the impact of demonetisation and GST.
There are some signs that the Indian economy is starting to recover from the soft growth patch attributed to the negative impact of demonetisation undertaken in 2016 and disruption related to last year’s roll-out of the Goods and Service Tax.
The Budget for 2018-19 includes some measures that could stabilise the rural economy that was disproportionately hit by the demonetisation policy and is yet to recover.

Core sector growth accelerates to 6.7% in January
Growth in the country’s core sector accelerated to 6.7% in January, 2018 from 3.4% a year ago.
The growth in eight core sectors, which comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), was 4.2% in December and 7.4% in November, 2017.
Cement output surged to 20.7% in January against 13.3% contraction in the same month a year ago, while refinery products jumped 11% in January against a flat output in January 2017.

Manufacturing sector growth falls to 4-month low in Feb.: PMI
India’s manufacturing sector activity fell to a four-month low in February, as factory output and new business orders rose at a slower pace, according to a monthly survey.
The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) fell to 52.1 in February from 52.4 in January, indicating a modest improvement in operating conditions.
This is for the seventh consecutive month that the index remained above the 50-point-mark that separates expansion from contraction.
According to Japanese financial services major Nomura, India’s manufacturing PMI remained in the expansion zone, but suggested some consolidation after the rapid ramp up of activity in December.

Fiscal deficit overshoots full-year revised estimate in Jan
India’s fiscal deficit touched Rs 6.77 lakh crore at the end of January, 113.7 per cent of the target for the entire fiscal, on account of higher expenditure.
The fiscal deficit, reflection of government borrowings to meet revenue-expenditure gap, was 113.7% in the 10-month period of 2017-18 as compared to 105.7 per cent in the year-ago period.
Fiscal deficit had been pegged at Rs 5.33 lakh crore, or 3.5% of the GDP, for the current fiscal ending March 31.
The figure was revised to Rs 5.95 lakh crore in the Union Budget 2018-19, presented in Parliament earlier on February 1.
As per data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), the revenue deficit during the April-January period of 2017-18, at Rs 4.80 lakh crore works out to 109.2% of the revised budget estimate.

Luxury market on course to touch $30 billion by December
International luxury brands market is expected to grow 30% to touch USD 30 billion by December. The country’s luxury market is currently pegged at USD 23.8 billion.
The market is set to touch USD 30 billion by year-end. Increasing retail presence of luxury players and higher numbers of luxury brands entering the country has resulted in strong performance of luxury goods.
The report also estimated that the market will see a five-fold growth in the next three years, with the number of millionaires expected to multiply three times in another five years.
Assocham believes high Internet penetration across small towns along with high disposable income will lead to about 100 million transactions on the Internet by 2020, resulting in manifold increase in luxury consumption.


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