ECONOMY - 2015 MARCH

March 1

An International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) is set up at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
An International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) is set up at Gandhinagar, Gujarat as a part of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). To operationalise the IFSC, a Notification under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) shall be issued by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in March 2015, making regulations relating to financial institutions set up in the IFSC.
The key features of these regulations will be that any financial institution (or its branch) set up in the IFSC.
(a) Shall be treated as a non-resident Indian located outside India,
(b) Shall conduct business in such foreign currency and with such entities, whether resident or non-resident, as the Regulatory Authority may determine, and
(c) Subject to certain provisions, nothing contained in any other regulations shall apply to a unit located in IFSC.
Farm credit target increased to Rs. 8.5 lakh crore for 2015-16.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed to raise the agriculture credit target for 2015-16 by Rs. 50,000 crore to Rs. 8.5 lakh crore, allocated Rs. 5,300 crore for micro irrigation, and promised to create a unified national agricultural market to boost agricultural productivity and farmers' income.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that Farm credit underpins the efforts of our hard-working farmers. He have, therefore, set up an ambitious target of Rs. 8.5 lakh crore of credit during the year 2015-16.
Stressing on the importance of irrigation, the minister said that Agriculture productivity is essential for the welfare of rural population and we should commit to increase irrigation area. He is allocating Rs. 5,300 crore to support micro irrigation watershed programmes and PMGSY (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sichai Yojana)''.

March 3

Core sector growth of India declined to 13 month low in January 2015.
Core sector growth of India declined to 13-month low of 1.8 percent in January 2015 as compare to 3.7 percent in 2014. The data was released by the Union Commerce and Industry Ministry.
The growth of eight core sector industries (coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizer, steel, cement and electricity) in India slowed to 1.8 percent in January 2015.
The crude oil production declined 2.3 percent, and natural gas output dropped 6.6 percent in January 2015. 
eBay India ties up with SMEcorner.com.
eBay India has partnered with SMEcorner.com, an online platform for Small and Medium Enterprises.
SMEcorner.com offers accessibility to loans in six online steps, which helps combat challenges of follow–ups, documentation, unprofessional intermediaries and other such issues.
Further, SMEcorner.com offers tools such as Loan Eligibility Calculator and Loan EMI Calculator which helps entrepreneurs to manage their loans. SMEcorner.com does not charge borrowers for its services.

March 4

Spectrum auction begins; govt eyes over Rs. 80,000 crore revenue.
Auction for 2G and 3G spectrum pitting the country's biggest business houses led by Mukesh Ambani, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Anil Ambani and the Tata Group against each other in a sale which can net the govt a minimum Rs. 80,000 crore at reserve price.
The govt plans to sell 380.75 MHz of spectrum in three 2G bands - the premium 900 MHz band, 1800 MHz and 800 MHz - besides 5 Mhz in the 2100 Mhz band (3G) across 17 out of 22 telecom areas in the country. Experts expect fierce bidding for the cost efficient 900 Mhz band, which can also be used for 3G services. 
All of the spectrum being sold in that band is currently held by Airtel BSE -0.93%, Vodafone, Idea Cellular & a unit of Reliance Communications, whose permits are expiring in FY16.

March 5

Reliance Infra acquires Pipavav for up to Rs. 2,082 crore.
Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) has agreed to purchase 18% stake from the promoters of debt-laden Pipavav DefenceBSE -10.00% and Offshore Engineering (PDOE), Nikhil and Bhavesh Gandhi, at Rs. 63 per share, implying a valuation of Rs. 819 crore, marking the Anil Ambani helmed company's entry into the defence sector, which has emerged as the centerpiece of Prime Minister Narandra Modi's 'Make in India' programme. 
Reliance Infrastructure trumped Mahindra & Mahindra and the Hero group which were also in the running for Pipavav. 
Reliance Defence Systems, a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure, will also make an open offer to acquire another 26% for Rs. 66 per share, Reliance Infra said in a press statement. If the open offer is successful, the Reliance Group will have to fork out Rs. 1,263 crore for a 26% stake, taking the total acquisition cost to Rs. 2,082 crore.

March 7

Apple to join Dow Jones blue-chip index, replacing AT&T.
US tech giant Apple will join the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Index replacing telecom company AT&T, S&P Dow Jones Indices announced.
The inclusion of the iPhone and iPad maker in the elite list of 30 top companies comes long after Apple had become the biggest US company by market capitalisation, now with a value of more than $730 billion.
The change will take effect from March 19.
Jindal bids lowest again, Hindalco the highest.
The third day of bidding in the second phase of the coal block e-auction saw the highest, as well as the lowest bids.
Jindal Power beat those such as Adani and Lanco to grab a block for power at the lowest bid so far.
The lowest bid in the first phase of the auction, also by Jindal Power, is being re-examined by the coal ministry.
Quoting the highest bid in the second phase so far, the Aditya Birla Group-promoted Hindalco Industries won the Dumri coal block in Jharkhand for Rs. 2,127 a tonne; for this block, the end-use is the steel, iron and cement sectors.
In the first phase, Hindalco had won four rich coal mines through high bids, as much as Rs. 3,502 a tonne in one case.

March 8

Global food prices dip to 5-year low in February.
Global food prices fell to a nearly five-year low in February this year on increased supply of key food items and strong US dollar, according to the United Nations food agency FAO. 
Food prices averaged at 179.4 points in February, down from 181.2 points in January and 208.6 points in February 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organization's price index showed. 
FAO's Food Price Index is a trade-weighted index that tracks prices of five major food commodity groups on international markets. It aggregates price sub-indices of cereals, meat, dairy products, vegetable oils and sugar. 
Government decides to speed up Rs. 90,000 crore power projects.
While the government seeks to reform the land acquisition law this week, it has decided to fast-track 10 power projects worth Rs. 90,000 crore planned by state-owned companies led by NTPC, which have been held up by land-related issues, identified in the Economic Survey as the biggest hurdle for stalled public sector investments.
In a bid to jumpstart economic activity through public investments, the power ministry last week turned to the cabinet secretariat's project monitoring group to help bring back on track stalled investments involving over 15,600 MW of capacity and critical transmission lines for states such as Jammu & Kashmir. 
After factoring in the 10 projects taken up by the power ministry, 305 projects worth Rs. 18.85 lakh crore are now awaiting government intervention to get off the ground, including 97 public and private sector power projects with investments of Rs. 6.33 lakh crore.
SEBI to launch media campaigns to safeguard investors.
As it clamps down on fraudsters duping gullible investors of their hard EARNED MONEY, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is stepping up efforts to make the public aware about the grievance redressal mechanism available to them and safeguards against high-return claims.
The capital markets watchdog is looking to expand its investor education and awareness programmes through various platforms, including radio and TV advertisements, wherein its focus areas would include Investor Grievance Redressal Mechanism and Collective INVESTMENT Schemes.
Besides, SEBI plans to launch mass media campaigns on topics such as promotion of mutual FUNDS as an available INVESTMENT option for small investors.

March 9

India lowest among 16 Asia-Pacific countries in economic parity for women.
The socio-economic standing of women in India is the lowest among 16 Asia Pacific countries, according to Mastercard’s latest Index of Women’s Advancement.
Indian women stand even lower than their counterparts from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the survey said.
India (44.2), Bangladesh (44.6) and Sri Lanka (46.2) had scores below 50, indicating gender inequality in favour of men.
Across the region, New Zealand had the highest overall Index score of 77, followed by Australia (76), the Philippines (72.6) and Singapore (70.5).
TCS ranked as top employer in Europe.
Tata Consultancy Services has been named as the top employer in Europe for the third consecutive year by a top employer’s certification agency, citing the Indian IT major as an "exceptional performer" in nine core human resources areas. 
TCS, the leading IT services, consulting and business solutions organisation, has been certified as top employer in eight European countries - the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway by Top Employers Institute. 
The company has been recognised as an exceptional performer across nine core human resources areas -- talent strategy, workforce planning, onboarding, learning and development, performance management, leadership development, career and succession management, compensation and benefits, and organisational culture. 
Airbus confirms 55-plane deal with US leasing group.
US plane leasing firm ALC has confirmed an order for 55 of Airbus's newest, fuel-efficient planes worth at least $10.8 billion (9.9 billion euros), the European aviation giant said. 
Air Lease Corporation (ALC) will buy 25 wide-body A330-900neo aircraft and 30 A321 LR planes -- longer-range versions of its popular A320 aircraft that will able to make transatlantic flights. 
ALC will be the launch customer for the A330-900neo - The eagerly-awaited upgrade to Airbus's long-haul A330 passenger jet which boasts more fuel-efficient engines and is seen as a direct competitor to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. 

March 10

US dollar hits 12-year peak, emerging markets spooked.
The US dollar climbed to multi-year peaks against the euro and yen in Asia amid starkly diverging outlooks for interest rates globally, while currencies from emerging markets came under mounting pressure from risk aversion.
The skittish mood spread to Asian stocks as MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.6 per cent.
Driving the dollar was speculation the Federal Reserve would start lifting interest rates from mid-year, while central banks in the European Union and Japan were busy easing policy by buying billions in government bonds.
India slips to second place in hiring outlook for April-June quarter.
India has slipped to the second place, after Taiwan, in terms of the companies' employment outlook for the next quarter, even as hiring intentions remain bullish on the back of robust business sentiments.
As per the latest quarterly Employment Outlook Survey of global giant ManpowerGroup, Taiwan has topped the charts in terms of hiring plans for the April-June 2015 quarter, followed by India and Japan.
Prior to this, Indian companies had topped the chart in terms of their hiring intentions for the four consecutive quarters.
The latest survey, which included over 5,000 employers across India, indicated that Indian employers remain bullish with their hiring plans, while companies in 40 out of 42 countries have shown positive hiring outlook.
Infosys opens new 250-seater BPO in Puerto Rico.
Country's second largest software services firm Infosys said its BPO arm has set up a 250-seater centre at Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, aimed at serving the aviation sector. 
The 12,000-square feet centre, developed in collaboration with the Commonwealth administration and state-owned PRIDCO, will initially deliver order-to-cash business processes for clients in the aviation sector, Infosys said in a statement. 
The centre in Aguadilla, which is an aviation hub, will provide services in English and Spanish and host about 250 employees serving worldwide clients, it added. 

March 11

Government to close down the Five sick Public Sector Undertakings.
The Union Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete said that Government has decided to close the 5 sick Public Sector Undertakings, that include HMT and its three units, and Hindustan Shipyard.
The Minister also announced that there are total 65 units in the list of sick PSUs as of March 31, 2014.
Government also has declared Air India and MTNL as sick PSU units as per the criteria after they have incurred losses worth 50 per cent or more of their average net worth during past four years.
According to the loss figures tabled in Lok Sabha:
Air India accumulated losses of Rs. 5,388 crore, Rs. 5,490 crore and Rs. 7,559 crore in years 2013-14, 2012-13 and 2011-12 respectively, according to the figures tabled in the House.
MTNL showed profit of Rs. 7,820 crore in 2013-14 but had incurred losses of Rs. 5,321 crore and Rs. 4,109 crore in the previous years.
Hindustan Shipyard posted losses of Rs. 859 crore, Rs. 551 crore and Rs. 462 crore in the three years.

March 12

Union Govt asks PSU banks increase lending to minorities.
The Central government has asked PSU banks to increase lending to minorities with a view to ensuring that they get loans in proportion to their population.
The decision to increase lending to the minorities was taken recently at a meeting called by Minority Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram with bankers.
PSU banks have opened 238 new branches in minority concentrated areas.
The cell is headed by an officer holding the rank of Deputy General Manager or Assistant General Manager (AGM) or any other similar rank who should function as a ‘Nodal Officer’.
LIC to invest Rs. 1.50 lakh crore in Railways from 2015-16.
The LIC will provide Rs. 1.50 lakh crore in the next five years to th railways for funding projects.
There would be a five-year moratorium on intrest and loan repayement, and the rest of the terms would be negotiated while signing the finance assistance agreement.
Work on GST rollout on track.
Union Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das said that Narendra Modi government is working on full throttle to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a key indirect tax reform, from April 1, 2016.
He also pointed out that several committees and sub-committees, comprising Centre and State finance and taxation officers were working on aspects such as business processes and reporting systems.
Mr. Das said all States and political formations were on board. He was hopeful that the bill on GST would go through in the current session of Parliament.
States were apprehensive about loss of revenue when the value added tax was implemented. However, the quantum of loss, which was compensated for VAT by the Centre across the country, was only Rs. 33, 000 crore.

March 13

Insurance bill is a historic move for the Indian insurance industry: Ajay Bimbhet.
The passing of insurance bill is a historic move for the Indian insurance industry. Universal health being one of the primary motives of the new government, we can expect a sizeable FDI inflow into the Indian insurance industry.
The investments would be channeled towards product innovations and to increase market penetration. With better economic conditions now, we can expect a double-digit growth for the entire industry. We remain optimistic on the development.

Cairn India gets Rs. 20,495 crore tax notice.
The Income Tax Department has slapped a Rs. 20,495 crore tax demand on Cairn India for failing to deduct withholding tax on alleged capital gains made by its erstwhile promoter, Cairn Energy.
Cairn India said it does not agree with the tax demand and will pursue all possible options to protect its interest.
The I-T Department had slapped a Rs. 10,247 crore tax demand on Cairn Energy for an alleged Rs. 24,500 crore worth capital gains it made in 2006 while transferring all its India assets to a new company, Cairn India, and getting it listed on the stock exchanges.

March 14

India's GDP growth will be 7.5 percent this year.
Noting that India is emerging as one of the fastest growing economies, finance minister Arun Jaitley has said that this year the GDP growth rate will be 7.5 percent and next year hopefully it would be higher.
Launching the Union Bank of India (UK), a subsidiary of the Union Bank of India, Jaitley said that since the new government came to power the economy has regained.
Government cuts import tariff on gold and silver.
The government has slashed import tariff value on gold to USD 375 per 10 grams and silver to USD 512 per kg following weak global price trends.
During the first fortnight of the month, the tariff value on imported gold was fixed at USD 393 per 10 grams and on silver at USD 549 per kg.
The import tariff value is the base price at which customs duty is determined to prevent under-invoicing. It is revised on a fortnightly basis taking into account global prices.
Facebook acquired shopping search engine The Find.
Social networking giant Facebook acquired the shopping search engine The Find. With the acquisition, Facebook has moved into the e-commerce.
Both Facebook and The Find cast the acquisition as a way to lift the digital advertising business of Facebook.
The deal aims to improve Facebook ads experience. The Find technology would be integrated into Facebook to make the ads more relevant and better for consumers.
The Find would be completely integrated into the Facebook. Facebook has been testing a buy button since July 2014 that lets users purchase goods directly. Now, with The Find, it would be able to add additional shopping tools to its service.

March 15

IMF supports tight stance of Reserve Bank.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), ahead of its chief Christine Lagarde’s two-day India visit, has supported the tight monetary stance of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and says 5-per cent inflation in the country was still high.
Lagarde’s itinerary includes meetings Prime Minister Narendra Modi and key leaders including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.
IMF has previously expected a 6 percent growth for India.
Overseas inflows at Rs. 72,000 crore so far this year.
Overseas investors have pumped in nearly Rs. 14,000 crore into the Indian capital markets within a fortnight of this month, taking the total inflow to around Rs. 72,000 crore since the beginning of the year.
The analysts expect the inflows to accelerate further going ahead following the passage of the Insurance Bill in Parliament and assurances in the Budget to revisit controversial issues such as the General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR).
Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) have bought shares worth a net Rs. 9,134 crore during March 2012-13, while in the debt segment, their net inflows stood at Rs. 4,567 crore, taking the total to Rs. 13,706 crore ($2.2 billion), according to data compiled by Central Depository Services Ltd.
The latest inflow takes the foreign investments in the country’s capital markets (equity and debt segments) to Rs. 71,958 crore ($11.63 billion) so far this year.
Chinese economy faces big downward pressures: Premier Li Keqiang.
China's economy is facing considerable pressure due to the slowdown but the government has a host of policies to halt the slide, Premier Li Keqiang said as he tried to allay fears about flagging growth in the world's second largest economy.
Addressing a press conference at the end of the 10-day meeting annual of the legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), Li said the new GDP target of around 7 per cent set for this year is not easy to meet.

March 16

Snapdeal buys stake in logistics firm GoJavas.
Online market place major Snapdeal picked up minority stake in logistics firm GoJavas as it looks to further strengthen its delivery operations in the country. The two have signed a strategic agreement for last-mile delivery.
Snapdeal co-founder Rohit Bansal said this is the first ever investment by Snapdeal in the logistics segment and that the company is looking to invest $150-200 million in logistics this year.
Snapdeal, which has more than 60,000 sellers on board and more than 40 million registered users, has been dependent on third party services such as Blue Dart, GoJavas, Ecom Express for handling deliveries in the country.

March 17

Mirach to file $400 million defamation suit against Sahara.
US-based Mirach Capital said it is initiating a $400 million defamation lawsuit against the Sahara group, while alleging that the failed financing deal with the Indian conglomerate has caused "irreparable harm" and "shaken investor confidence".
Accusing Mirach Capital of cheating and forgery in the failed $2.05 billion loan arrangement, Sahara had also said last month that it has initiated legal action against the US-based firm.
The crisis-hit group had alleged that Mirach and its CEO Saransh Sharma's criminal conduct and lack of financial capabilities to honour such huge commitments led to the breaking down of the deal, leading to the loss of precious time, resources and position of Sahara.
SEBI to take action against companies with no woman director: Govt.
Market regulator SEBI will take necessary action against listed firms which fail to appoint at least one woman director on their boards by the end of this month.
The capital markets watchdog had issued guidelines in February last year asking companies to appoint at least one woman director on their board by October 1, 2014, which was later relaxed to April 1, 2015.
According to an estimate, nearly one-third of the top-500 listed companies do not have any female representation on their respective boards. With just a fortnight left to meet the deadline, SEBI has written to more than 160 such companies to ensure compliance.
After SEBI’s direction in February last year, many companies had stepped up efforts to have women directors on their boards and nearly 500 female members were nominated to the boards till December 2014, although many of them happen to be family members of the promoters.

March 18

Swiss prosecutors probe HSBC subsidiary for money laundering.
Swiss police searched HSBC offices as part of its probe into “suspected money laundering” by the global banking giant, which has been in news for a leaked list of its account holders that included 1,195 Indian names.
The banking major has come under the scanner after a global expose earlier this month by a grouping of investigative journalists disclosed details of over one lakh account holders in HSBC Geneva branch.
This included 1,195 Indian names, including those of big corporates and political leaders.
The Swiss prosecutors are probing HSBC Private Bank as well as unknown persons for “suspected aggravated money laundering” activities.
Govt foregoes Rs. 28,000 cr revenue to boost exports from SEZs.
The government has foregone Rs. 27,956 crore revenues during the last three financial years to boost exports from special economic zones (SEZs), Parliament was informed.
The tax foregone - customs duty and central excise duty including rebate - under the SEZ scheme was Rs. 10,440 crore in 2013-14.
It was Rs. 9,363 crore in 2012-13 and Rs. 8,153 crore in 2011-12, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
TCS sets up 1000-seater unit in Singapore to focus on banking and financial services space.
Country's largest software services firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said it has set up a new 1,000-seater centre in Singapore to focus on clients in banking and financial services space.
TCS Singapore Banking and Financial Services (BFS) Centre will provide a range of application development, digital and IT services to global banks in the Asia Pacific region, TCS said in a statement.
Globally, over 40 per cent of TCS' revenue comes from the BFS sector.
TCS' BFS business has grown substantially in Singapore and the new centre replaces a 500-seater centre opened in 2011. The centre will now offer a broader range of services, with a major focus on digital offerings.

March 19

LIC, SBI lead advance tax-payers list.
Reflecting the strain in the economy, advance tax paid by top companies headquartered in Mumbai has increased by less than one per cent in the March quarter to Rs. 20,970 crore against Rs. 20,890 crore in the same period last year.
High interest rate and slowing demand hit most corporates leading to lower payout during the quarter. Corporate houses pay advance tax based on their capital spend and future earning prospects. A lower remittance reflects their weak sentiment.
For the financial year ending March, tax payout by these 100 companies was up 11 per cent at Rs. 85,470 crore against Rs. 76,980 crore.
CII plans excellence centre in Bengaluru.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will be setting up a Centre of Excellence on Entrepreneurship in Bengaluru.
Presently, CII has nine centres of excellence located in different parts of the country. They cater to quality, green building, sustainable development, competitiveness, manufacturing, leadership, water, food and agriculture and logistics.
For the new centre, CII plans to raise Rs.10 crore from the private sector.

March 20

PAN mandatory for service tax registration.
Permanent Accounts Number (PAN) is now mandatory for private firms for getting service tax registration besides email and mobile number.
According to an order issued by the Finance Ministry that applicants, who are not government departments shall not be granted registration in the absence of PAN.
It said that the registration shall mandatorily require that the PAN number of the proprietor or the legal entity being registered should be quoted in the application except for government departments.
Maharashtra Govt scraps controversial Local Body Tax.
The Devendra Fadnavis Government in Maharashtra has scrapped the controversial Local Body Tax (LBT) in the State.
Making the announcement in his Budget speech, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said the Value Added Tax will be raised to compensate municipalities for the loss of revenue of Rs. 6,875 crore.
The LBT(Local Body Tax) was introduced in April 2013, replacing Octroi in all municipal corporations except Mumbai.

March 21

To help 'Smart Cities' plan, Sebi approves norms for issuance and listing of municipal bonds.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India has cleared the framework to set up international financial services centres (IFSC), approved rules for municipalities to issue and list bonds and made it easier for banks to take control of listed companies in financial distress by converting loans into equity.
The board of the market regulator also approved a roadmap for the new fiscal year, when it is expected to unveil rules to help startups raise funds through crowd funding and institutional trading platform, as well as measures such as e-IPO and e-KYC to make it easier to invest in the market. It has also decided to tighten disclosure rules.
Foreign stock exchanges, clearing corporations and depositories can set up operations in IFSCs, which will be developed on the lines of global financial centres of Singapore and Dubai. The guidelines permit issue of depositary receipts and debt securities in IFSCs by domestic as well as foreign companies, subject to foreign currency depository regulations.

March 22

SEBI bars three companies from mobilising public money.
Clamping down on illegal money pooling activities,capital markets regulator Sebi has barred three companies from raising funds from the public.
Besides, the companies and their respective directors have been restrained from the securities market.
Securities and Exchange Board of India said these companies collectively garnered over Rs. 29 crore from close to 12,000 investors through issuance of securities and prima facie violated various provisions of the Companies Act.
The firms Everlight Realcon Infrastructure Ltd, Tresty Securities Ltd and Real Vision International Ltd issued securities to over 50 persons each, which under the rules made it a public issue.
Infosys, Accenture in last lap for Rs. 900 crore deal in Australia.
Infosys and Accenture have entered the final lap to clinch a Rs. 900 crore ($150 million) IT outsourcing contract from Australia-based financial services provider Macquarie Group.
The five-year contract will include application development, testing and infrastructure management services (IMS), said sources privy to the development.
About:
Macquarie provides banking, financial, advisory, investment and funds management services.
It employs more than 13,900 people in 28 countries.
Macquarie had 295 billion euro worth of assets under management.
Accenture has assisted Macquarie in its core banking implementation, while Infosys had won a $25 million procurement and account payable BPO deal in 2012.

March 23

India GDP growth to be 8% in FY16, 8.3% the next year: Fitch.
Rating agency Fitch has forecast India’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at 8 per cent in 2015-16 and 8.3 per cent in 2016-17, based on the new data series.
The forecasts according to the earlier series were 6.5 per cent and 6.8 per cent, respectively.
But the agency cautioned that the cuts in government expenditure for meeting the 2014-15 fiscal deficit target around Rs. 1 lakh crore lower than the Budget estimates, according to revised estimates might temporarily have somewhat dampened the broader trend of a pick-up.
While Fitch commended the Central Statistics Office for constructing a GDP data series more in line with international standards, it argued it was difficult to reconcile the revised estimates with other key economic indicators and anecdotal evidence that showed low investment levels, weak corporate balance sheets and a rise in banks’ non-performing assets.
Govt. to borrow Rs. 3.6 lakh crore in first half of 2015-16.
The Union government will borrow Rs. 3.6 lakh crore from markets in the first half of the next financial year, which is over 50 per cent of the annual target of Rs. 6 lakh crore.
The government borrows money from the markets through T-bills and other instruments to fund its fiscal deficit. Giving details of borrowing program for 2015-16,
The Central Government would be borrowing about Rs. 17,000-18,000 crore through bonds every week.

March 24

SEBI sets norms for International financial centres.
Union Government has approved 17 mega food parks for food processing across the country. It was announced by Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
Out of these 17 food parks, 7 parks have been allotted to state agencies whereas 10 to private players in 11 states.
Key facts:
These food parks will attract more investment in the concerned states and generate employment opportunities.
It will also benefit five lakh farmers who are suffering due to lack of storage and proper transport system.
SEBI moots new norms for issue of municipal bonds.
To help in the Government’s ‘smart cities’ programme, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), proposed a new set of norms for listing and trading of municipal bonds on stock exchanges, while channelising household investments for urban infrastructure development.
Issuing draft regulations for such municipal bonds, also known as ‘muni bonds’, SEBI that issuing authorities would need to contribute at least 20 per cent of the total project cost for which they wish to raise funds.
Besides, these municipal authorities would need to have a strong financial track record and such bonds should have a minimum tenure of three years.

March 25

RBI signs $400 million currency swap pact with Sri Lanka.
The RBI signed a $400 million currency swap agreement with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka for three years that will allow the island nation to draw the amount in dollars or euros in multiple tranches.
The agreement, which will be valid for three years, is expected to further economic co-operation between the two countries.
The swap arrangement is intended to provide a backstop line of funding for SAARC member countries to meet any balance of payments and liquidity crises till long-term arrangements are made.

March 26

Union Government announced 430 crore rupees project for production of Geo-textile in NE region.
The Union Minister of State for Textile Santosh Kumar Gangwar announced a 430 crore rupees project for production of the Geo-textiles in the North Eastern region.
The announcement was during the laying of foundation stone for first ever modern Apparel and Garment Manufacturing Centre in Gangtok, Sikkim.
The Geo-textile will be very helpful in protecting the infrastructure like roads, especially in the regions like the North East which receive excessive rain.
Beside this, the Chief Minister of Sikkim Pawan Chamling stressed on the need for imparting training to the local youth for creating a locally available manpower for the textile industry and also for ensuring usage of locally available material like bamboo in textile production.
Centre approves 10 FDI proposals worth Rs. 2,858 crore.
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has cleared 10 FDI proposals worth Rs. 2,858 crore, and referred the Holcim-Ambuja deal to the CCEA.
The proposal of Ambuja Cements for acquisition of 24 per cent shares in its holding company Holcim (India) Ltd for a share swap worth Rs. 3,500 crore has been referred to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
FIPB has deferred 18 proposals including that of Sharekhan Ltd for transfer of compulsory convertible debentures (CCDs) and compulsory convertible preference shares (CCPs), held by IDFC Ltd to Baring Private Equity.
The inter-governmental panel, chaired by Economic Affairs Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, also cleared the pharma firm IPCA Laboratories' proposal to hike foreign institutional investment (FII) to 35 per cent entailing an investment of Rs. 900 crore.
Amazon sets up Logistics Company in India to deliver products directly to clients.
Amazon has set up a logistics company in India to deliver products directly to consumers, opening a new front in the battle for top honours in the country's fast-growing online retail industry.
Amazon Transportation Services Private Limited, a subsidiary of US-based Amazon, will ship goods from sellers who transact on the company's online marketplace in India. Such a service is already on offer from Flipkart through logistics company eKart, and Snapdeal, which bought a stake in delivery firm Gojavas.
The company's Indian marketplace expects to sell goods worth over Rs 12,000 crore ($2 billion) this fiscal. The company will continue to work with other partners including India Post and courier companies like Gati, Blue Dart and DHL.
Accel Launches $305 Million Indian Startup Fund.
Accel Partners, the venture capital firm that has backed the likes of Facebook and Flipkart, is launching a $305 million (roughly Rs. 1,903 crores) India-focused fund to capitalise on the country's favourable conditions for startups.
The investment is almost double the size of Accel's last such fund - launched in 2011 - and will target technology businesses in the consumer, enterprise software, mobile and healthcare sectors, the Silicon Valley-based firm.
A rising number of smartphone users, cheaper Internet and a vast middle class have turned India into one of the hottest markets for investors such as Accel, Singaporean wealth fund Temasek Holdings and Japan's SoftBank Corp, fuelling growth of technology startups including Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola.

March 27

Reliance Communications acquires spectrum in 11 circles.
Reliance Communications, part of the Anil Ambani-led group, has acquired new and top-up 800/850 MHz spectrum in 11 circles.
The acquisition of the new spectrum intends to achieve a contiguous five MHz spectrum holding nationwide in the recently concluded telecom airwaves auction.
The company stated that with this acquisition, it has become India’s first and only operator with nationwide footprint of contiguous 800/850 MHz spectrum.
Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said Reliance Communications has put a bid worth Rs. 4,299 crore in the latest round of auctions. It would do an upfront payment of Rs. 1,106 crore.
ADB sanctioned 300 million US dollars under SCRIP for road construction in NBNE region.
The abbreviation SCRIP (SASEC Road Connectivity Investment Program) was in news as a loan agreement of 300 million US dollars under the programme was signed between the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Union Ministry of Finance.
Under this multi-tranche programme, about 500 km of roads will be constructed in the North Bengal-North East (NBNE) region. ADB is providing 500 million US dollars for the execution of the programme.
SRCIP is a strategic initiative that aims to achieve regional integration among the members of the South Asia Sub regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) group by improving road connectivity within the North Bengal-North Eastern Region in India. The members of this group are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal.

March 28

India contributes USD 260,000 for memorial at UN.
India has contributed USD 260,000 for a permanent memorial unveiled at the UN headquarters here to honor the victims of slavery and transatlantic slave trade.
The 'Ark of Return' was unveiled yesterday by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa.
The memorial was unveiled on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade commemorated, with the theme this year being 'Women and Slavery'.
India's forex reserves up by $4.26 billion.
India’s foreign exchange reserves increased by $4.26 billion to $339.99 billion for the week ended, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data showed.
According to analysts, the Indian reserves are being build-up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to absorb any future global financial shock that was witnessed in June 2013. “The RBI is building up the reserves to counter any future financial shocks like the one which was witnessed at the time of the tapering announcements were made.
The RBI said the foreign currency assets, expressed in US dollar terms, include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the pound sterling, euro and yen held in reserve. India’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the week ended decreased by $295.8 million and stood at $1.28 billion.

March 29

Reliance Power’s Sasan UMPP fully operational.
Anil Ambani controlled Reliance Power Ltd has announced the commissioning of the sixth and last 660 MW unit of the 3,960 MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP).
With this, all the six units of Sasan UMPP have been commissioned 12 months ahead of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) schedule.
The Sasan UMPP is the largest integrated power plant cum coal mining project at a single location involving investment of over Rs. 27,000 crore. With this unit, Reliance Power’s generation capacity has increased to 5,945 MW which includes 5,760 MW of thermal and 185 MW of renewable energy based capacity.
SBI set to buy residential properties of Air India in south Mumbai.
The country’s largest lender State Bank of India has received all necessary approvals to buy residential properties of cash-starved national carrier Air India in south Mumbai for Rs. 90 crore. “The bank has got all the required approvals and it has conveyed its willingness to buy the properties from Air India.
SBI is now waiting for the airline to complete its side of approvals,” sources close to development.
The state-owned bank is planning to allocate these flats to its top executives of the rank of Deputy Managing Directors and General Managers.
The airline had been looking for buyers who can purchase its four flats at up-market Peddar road in south Mumbai since last two years.
Air India has some working capital borrowings from SBI, besides long-term loans. The funds raised from the sale proceeds would help reduce this working capital loan besides reducing the interest outgo.
GST spooks big taxpayers of country’s first LTU in Bengaluru.
High-net worth entities of country’s first Large Taxpayer Unit (LTU) here are unnerved at the protocols that would follow proposed roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) next year even as they seek more facilities from government to improve the ease of doing business in India.
The LTU in the Karnataka capital was the first, among the five such facilities in the country, to be created in 2006 by the central government to act as a ‘single window’ facilitation centre for all large entities who have to pay various taxes like excise, corporate/income tax and service tax, under one roof.

March 30

Australia's IAG to raise stake in SBI General Insurance to 49 percent.
Insurance Australia Group Ltd will raise its stake to the maximum allowed 49% in a general insurance joint venture with State Bank of India, following rule changes earlier this month.
IAG currently owns 26% of SBI General Insurance, with SBI, India's largest lender, holding 74%. After the deal, SBI's stake in the venture will fall to 51%.
This follows a long-awaited legal change earlier this month, which lifted limits on foreign investment in the insurance sector to 49%, from 26%. Analysts estimate deals following that move could lead to foreign inflows of about $4 billion.
Union Ministry of Finance approved 1500 crore rupees for AP Capital construction.
The Central Government has approved Rs. 1,500 crore Budgetary Support to Andhra Pradesh for developing new capital city and infrastructure.
In consonance with Section 94(3) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, the Government of India has agreed to provide Special Financial Support for essential facilities for the new Capital of Andhra Pradesh including construction of Raj Bhavan, State Secretariat, State Assembly and High Court, among others.
Accordingly, the Union Ministry of Finance has approved Rs. 1,500 crore budgetary support to new Capital of Andhra Pradesh. This would include Rs. 1,000 crore for support to essential amenities for the new Capital of Andhra Pradesh for which necessary approval has been given to Ministry of Urban Development.
Another Rs. 500 crore has been approved which would be spent exclusively for construction of Raj Bhavan, State Secretariat, State Assembly and High Court in the new Capital.

March 31

Flipkart in talks to raise around $600 million.
Flipkart is believed to be in talks to raise around $600 million (about Rs. 3,750 crore) from a group of investors. The eCommerce firm, currently being valued at around $11.5-12 billion (about Rs. 71,000-75,000 crore) is also looking at a higher valuation.
It said that Flipkart at present is in talks with a clutch of investors to raise somewhere in the range of $600 million. It is also looking at a higher valuation than its present $11.5-12 billion.
In December last, Flipkart raised $700 million and in July 2014 it raised $1 billion, the largest by any eCommerce firm in the country. So far it has raised over $2 billion.
Its investors include Qatar Investment Authority, Baillie Gifford, Greenoaks Capital, Steadview Capital, T Rowe Price Associates, DST Global, GIC, ICONIQ Capital and Tiger Global.
Tiger Global is Flipkart's largest shareholder followed by Accel Partners. Co-founders Sachin and Binny Bansal hold a little over 8 per cent stake in the company.
Cotton exports to tank 41 per cent as China curbs buying.
Textile Commissioner Kiran Soni Gupta said that the cotton exports from India, the world's second-biggest producer and seller, are expected to fall 41 percent to 7 million bales this crop year ending on Sept 30 as top buyer China curbs purchases.
India also lowered the production estimate to 39 million bales from the previous forecast of 40 million bales made in October. The prior export forecast was 9 million bales for this season.
China, the world's largest cotton importer, accounts for more than 60 percent of total raw cotton exports from India. The rest goes to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam.
IBM to invest $3 billion on 'Internet of Things'.
Technology giant IBM said that it will invest $3 billion (about Rs. 18,770 crore) over the next four years to establish a new Internet of Things (IoT) unit to help its enterprise customers make better business decisions.
IoT helps in harnessing relevant information from massive amounts of data collected by smartphones, tablets, connected vehicles and appliances. This insight helps companies manage their businesses in a better and efficient manner.
IBM is building a cloud-based open platform designed to help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions, the company said in a statement.
IBM is gradually shifting its focus from its traditional hardware and consulting business to cloud. It is targeting $40 billion in annual revenue from cloud, big data, security and other growth areas by 2018.

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