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Economy Current Affairs
Economy Current Affairs March 1st Week 2016
Author : priya
Category : Economy Current Affairs
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Economy Current Affairs March 1st Week 2016

1) Indian Railways launched bar coding system for unreserved tickets.

  • After presenting the railway budget, Suresh Prabhu implemented two crucial promises as he launched bar-coding of unreserved tickets and rail auto hub in Chennai.
  • A railway spokesperson said that it was in keeping with Prabhu`s promise of improving passenger amenities. The inauguration of two services was done through Video-Conferencing from Rail Bhavan in the Capital in presence of minister of state Manoj Sinha and senior railway officials.
  • Bar-coding of unreserved tickets was launched at nominated counters in New Delhi, Delhi and Nizamuddin Railway Stations, Northern Railway and the Rail Auto Hub was inaugurated in Walajabad in Chennai Division of Southern Railway. Prabhu said focus was on improving passenger amenities and increasing freight revenue. For this, railways had adopted multiple strategies including reach to multi commodity cargo.
  • He said that in the direction to generate revenue through cargo, the Rail Auto Hub was the initial step.
  • About Bar Coding of Unreserved Tickets through Thermal Printer, Prabhu said that this would stop possible fraudulent activities which will help railways generate more revenue.
 
2) India Inks $3.1 Billion Deals For Apache And Chinook Helicopters With US.
  • India inked the $3.1 billion contracts for 22 Apache and 15 Chinook helicopters, taking the total worth of defence deals inked with the US well past $13 billion just since 2007.
  • The deliveries of the helicopters will begin in three years, said officials. The contract for the Apache attack helicopters was a "hybrid" case, with the defence ministry inking one part of it with Boeing for the choppers and the other with the US government for its weapons, radars and electronic warfare suites.
  • Ministry had totaling Rs. 22,000 crores, has been placed for the purchase of these choppers, which will strengthen the capabilities of country`s defence forces.
3) IFC launches Uridashi Masala Bonds.
  • International Finance Corporation (IFC) launched its first Uridashi Masala Bonds (Japanese bonds) to mobilize Rs. 30 crore from Japanese retail investors.
  • The proceeds will be used for promoting private sector development in India, IFC said in a statement from Tokyo.
  • The three-year bond builds on IFC`s pioneering Masala Bond programme, which has raised the equivalent of USD 1.7 billion from international investors so far, said the World Bank Group member.
  • The bonds will be settled in yen and each bond is denominated at Rs. 1,00,000, the IFC said, adding that the bonds will be issued and mature with an annual payout of 5.36 per cent.
  • Masala Bonds are rupee-denominated instruments sold only to offshore investors, while Uridashi bonds are sold to Japanese household investors.
  • IFC has played a prominent role in developing capital markets in the country, rolling out a USD 3 billion worth of rupee-denominated Masala Bonds over the past two years.
 
4) Union Budget 2016-17: Social Sector.
  • Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s budget speech focused on the social sector more than before, but it failed to reflect amply in fund allocation to key ministries such as education, health, poverty alleviation and women and child development.
  • The argument put forth was that Rs. 64,144 crore more was allocated to states for 2016-17 as compared to the previous budgetary estimate and the additional money would be spent on the welfare of people.
  • Another reason was that 31 of the 64 Centrally Sponsored Schemes were transferred to the states and, therefore, that money was reflected in the Central plan outlay.
  • The states will have to dole out more to seek Central funds under ‘core schemes’ such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Integrated Child Development Scheme - because in October 2015, the Centre reduced its share in these schemes and passed on the burden to the states.
  • The new funding mechanism that came into force last year showed that spending on vital sectors such as education and health had fallen. Only 4% of the funds earmarked for health, according to an analysis by Accountability Initiative. In the case of education, it was 34%.
  • In case of social security for poor senior citizens and widows, Rs. 2,426 crore was allocated, a dip from Rs. 3,385 crore for 2015-16, but the FM presented it as an increase by comparing it with a revised estimate for 2015-16 - which was Rs. 1,558 crore. The most deprived sections of society too got Rs. 1,375 crore less than in last year’s budget.

5) Reliance Entertainment, Neeraj Pandey join hands to form film production venture.

  • Billionaire Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Entertainment announced a joint venture with film-maker producer duo Neeraj Pandey and Shital Bhatia’s Friday Film works for production of movies.
  • Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Rustom’ will be the first movie under the banner, Plan C Studios. Plan C Studios will be an equal partnership joint venture between the two.
  • Neeraj Pandey won acclaim with his very first film ‘A Wednesday’ in 2008, which went on to win the National Award.
  • Subsequently, he directed ‘Special 26’ in 2013, and ‘Baby’ in 2015.
  • Neeraj is currently on the floors with ‘MS Dhoni -The Untold Story’, one of the most anticipated films of the year.
  • ``The combination will benefit from the creative and production strength of Friday Film works, and leverage the global marketing and distribution capabilities of Reliance Entertainment``.
  • Other projects include Neeraj Pandey’s cinematic version of his novel, Ghalib Danger and films helmed by Shivam Nair, Chandra Prakash Dwivedi, Anurag Singh, Anvita Dutt and Shree Narayan Singh.
 
6) ZTE Soft inks pact with AP.
  • Chinese technology company ZTE has inked a pact with the Andhra Pradesh government to work on smart city projects in the state.
  • As a company associated with a number of smart city projects, the diversified telecom and technology major ZTE plans to engage itself with the state and work on the upcoming smart city projects in Andhra Pradesh.
  • A memorandum of understanding was inked between G.S. Phani Kumar, Special Secretary, Information and Technology, Andhra Pradesh and ZTE Soft MD S.H. Prasoon Sharma in the presence of State IT and Information Minister Palle Ragunath Reddy, here, according to a statement.
  • ZTE Soft has been engaged with more than 140 smart city projects globally and is keen to work on smart city projects in India.
  • With the Narendra Modi government seeking to lay special thrust on development of smart cities, ZTE has already begun to engage itself with smart city initiatives in Gujarat and plans to expand its presence.
  • Under the letter of intent inked by ZTE, it proposes to work with AP on not only smart cities, E-Pragathi project, Incubation Centre, smart technology projects among others which the State has initiated.
  • Two of AP cities –Visakhapatnam and Kakinada – have been chosen to be part of the smart city projects in the first phase announced recently.
 
7) CBI sets up group to deal with financial frauds.
  • The CBI today vowed not to spare scamsters however mighty or rich they may be and announced formation of a working group that will coordinate with various financial institutions to help curb financial frauds.
  • "We will have a working group set up. The group will be meeting regularly and go into various aspects relating to the early detection of these kinds of defaults and frauds.
  • "Our focus is on the recovery of the stolen assets, particularly repartition of the assets which have been stolen and stashed away. Our Endeavour is to bring that money back``.
  • He was speaking after day-long deliberations with bankers, financial institutions and regulators to figure out ways to tackle the rising menace of bank frauds, loan defaults and cyber crime.
  • Mr. Sinha called for free-flow and exchange of information between various institutions so that CBI can actually have a very effective mechanism to proceed against people who are swindling public of their money and also who are causing severe losses to banks.
  • The CBI will now be engaging with financial bodies like banks, insurance firms and regulatory authorities, for capacity building programme.
8) Union Government signed Agreement to provide a loan of 1000 crore rupees to FACT.
  • The government today provided a Rs. 1,000 crore package to the state-run fertilizer firm FACT for its revival and expansion of production capacity to one million tonnes during the next fiscal.
  • The loan assistance of Rs. 1,000 crore to the Kochi-based Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT) would help boost fertilizer supply in Kerala and entire South India.
  • FACT, which is facing liquidity crunch, currently produces about 6 lakh tonnes of NPK fertilizers such as aluminium sulphate with an annual turnover of about Rs. 2,000 crore.
  • An agreement to release Rs. 1,000 crore to the FACT for its revival was signed between the Department of Fertilizer and FACT in the presence of Fertilizer Minister Ananth Kumar.
  • The loan amount along with interest has to be repaid in five years, with a moratorium of one year.
  • ``FACT`s annual production is 6 lakh tonnes. Within one year, because of this loan assistance, the total production will become one million tonnes of fertilizers``, the minister said, adding that the company`s turnover would increase to Rs. 3,000 crore from the current Rs. 2,000 crore.
9) Flipkart launches Commerce Advertising Platform.
  • Leading e-commerce company Flipkart launched its own advertisement platform, Brand Story Ads, with over 50 leading brands on board.
  • Brands including Yes Bank, L`Oreal, Micromax, Intel, Gillette, Datsun and Sony have signed up with Flipkart to launch their ad campaigns on the platform.
  • "With Brand Story Ads, we are offering a platform where the brands can target and engage with largest qualified commerce audience in the country at the right time for the right intent".
  • Flipkart ventured into the online advertising space last year with the introduction of product listing ads to enable sellers on the platform gain more visibility and reach a larger customer base.
  • The new platform, Brand Story Ads, will appear on all properties of Flipkart. The e-commerce firm has access to data of customer’s preference on its platform which it will use brands to reach their target customers.
  • "The magnitude of consumer traffic and intelligent data insights on online shopping behavior gives Flipkart the edge to provide larger reach, impact and measurability``.
  • Along with the brands that retail on Flipkart, this service will also be available to other non-retailing brands in sectors like real estate, FMCG, BFSI, auto, and telecom etc.
10) Vijay Mallya’s exit from United Spirits evokes buy call from analysts.
  • Analysts predict a big jump in the stock price of United Spirits following Vijay Mallya’s exit as chairman and non-executive director in of the company and from the boards of other group companies Royal Challengers Sports and Four Seasons Wines.
Respite from legal tangle:
  1. The average target price of four brokerages, namely, J.P. Morgan, Motilal Oswal, Edelweiss Securities and IIFL works out to Rs. 3,659.
  2. This implies an upside potential of 50 per cent from the current market price of Rs. 2,432.95.
  3. Edelweiss has a sector outperformer rating on USL. ``The deal will provide USL shareholders respite from any legal battle; it will also help the board focus on (its) core business. USL’s prestige and above segment clocked five quarter high volume growth of 15 per cent year-on-year in Q3FY16 reflecting premiumisation focus``.
  4. J.P. Morgan is overweight on USL. “This agreement brings closure to the concerns and uncertainty related to USL’s governance as well as ambiguity related to certain historical transactions.
  5. The relationship with banks will be strengthened as USL gets disassociated with Mallya who has been declared a wilful defaulter by certain banks. Besides, USL is a structural play on the Indian liquor space and has attractive long-term growth prospects led by favourable demographics, low per capita consumption and significant benefits from premiumisation.
  6. The company enjoys a strong portfolio of brands (supported further by Diageo’s brands), and a focused strategy toward profitability by the new management could lead to meaningful gains on the margin front (from current depressed levels), it added.
11) Sinha to discuss future road map with market participants.
  • UK Sinha, who has received a one-year extension as SEBI chief, has called a series of meetings with key capital market participants to discuss regulatory improvements in the coming year.
  • According to sources, equity brokers, commodity brokers, investment bankers, mutual fund houses and foreign institutional investors will meet the regulator individually in the coming weeks.
  • The government extended UK Sinha’s tenure as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India for a year, after five years at the helm. Based on these meetings, the sources added, SEBI will set the agenda for these markets in the coming year. SEBI’s own board meeting is scheduled in New Delhi.
  • On SEBI’s plate for the coming year is building a regulatory framework for index service providers, such as S&P Dow Jones Index Services and giving greater clarity for mergers and acquisition (M&A) deals. For stock market traders, SEBI is keen on making algo and high-frequency trading rules more transparent and might even possibly relax rules of co-location facilities.
  • Last year, Sinha also spoke about progressively opening the commodity markets to banks and financial institutions, including foreign investors.
 

12) Samsonite to buy US bag maker Tumi for $1.8 billion.

  • The decision of luggage giant Samsonite International to acquire rival US luxury bag maker Tumi in a deal estimated at $1.8 billion is set to provide a major fillip to its India operations.
  • While the all-cash transaction is expected to give Samsonite access to the premium end of the luggage market, the deal is expected to bring in huge cost savings in terms of logistics, sourcing, sales and marketing.
  • Over 40 per cent of all Samsonite hard luggages are manufactured at its plant in Nashik, Maharashtra.
  • Some of its brands include Samsonite, American Tourister, High Sierra, Hartmann, Lipault and Speck.
  • The deal would incorporate a ``distribution and product development pact" between the two companies, whereby Samsonite could utilize its distribution network to expand Tumi’s global footprint.
  • At present, Samsonite`s products are sold at 46,000 points of sale in wholesale and retail channels, and across 100 countries.
  • The deal provided a huge opportunity for Samsonite to leverage Tumi’s best-in-class products, some of which are already available in India.
  • Some of Tumi’s brands include the Alpha collection, Arrive, Tegra-Lite, Dror, Vapor and Beacon Hill.
  • Tumi opened its third store in India, at New Delhi`s premier luxury mall DLF Emporio.
  • Tumi also has stores at retail outlets like the Palladium in Mumbai, and UB City in Bengaluru.
13) Fitch maintains India’s growth forecast at 7.5%.
  • Global rating agency Fitch has maintained its growth forecast for India at 7.5 per cent this fiscal and sees higher growth over the next two financial years. However, 8 per cent growth will remain elusive in the short term.
  • ``Fitch has maintained its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for India for the fiscal year ending 2016 at 7.5 per cent. Growth is expected to gradually accelerate to 7.7 per cent in 2016-17 and 7.9 per cent in 2017-18``.
FinMin estimates:
  • The forecast is largely in line with the Finance Ministry’s growth estimates.
  • The Economic Survey had also said achieving 8 per cent growth may not be possible in the short run.
  • Higher real disposable income, a normal monsoon and a substantial wage increase for central government employees will support economic recovery in the next two financial years, while underlining the need for structural reforms.
  • ``The gradual implementation of the structural reform agenda is expected to contribute to higher growth, though progress is lacking so far on big-ticket reforms such as the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill and the Goods and Services Tax``.
  • While noting that efforts at legislative reforms may be constrained due to limited support in the Rajya Sabha.
14) 10 bidders eye IFCI’s 26% stake in Stock Holding Corp.
  • As many as 10 bidders have evinced interest in picking up stake in Stock Holding Corporation of India Ltd (SHCIL) following IFCI’s decision to sell up to 26 per cent in India’s largest custodian of securities.
  • IFCI had acquired IDBI Bank’s 18.95 per cent stake in SHCIL at Rs. 851 per share to take the total holding to 52.86 per cent. IFCI could get up to 30-40 per cent premium now.
  • Ernst & Young LLP is the consultant to IFCI for advising and managing the disinvestment process. Bidders were required to have a net worth or assets under management of Rs. 100 crore or more for being shortlisted and considered for the subsequent process for the transaction.
  • The IFCI board had given its go-ahead for the stake sale.
The process:
  1. Shortlisted bidders will be allowed to do a due diligence on SHCIL after signing a confidentiality agreement. After that, a binding bid would be submitted by each bidder through a competitive bidding process and the sale of SHCIL’s shares would be completed thereafter.
  2. The likelihood of SHCIL coming out with its initial public offering in the next 15-18 months is also high, with SBI Caps doing pre-IPO advisory to the custodian.
  3. Merchant bankers for the IPO are yet to be appointed and the manner in which the IPO would be structured is yet to be firmed up.
  4. A debt-free company, SHCIL is also weighing its options of inducting a strategic investor, preferably a multilateral agency, sovereign wealth fund or entities interested in investing a financial market infrastructure company, before finally deciding to launch its IPO.
15) Union Government announced to withdraw tax proposal on Employee Provident Fund.
  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the withdrawal of the budget proposal on taxing Employees Provident Fund, following a backlash in and outside Parliament.
  • The proposal had sought to make up to 60 per cent of savers’ corpus withdrawn from the EPF tax-free if invested in annuity, according to the statement Mr. Jaitley made in the Lok Sabha. The period return on the annuity was to be taxable.
  • The withdrawal decision, however, was taken after MPs pointed out that the tax would ``force people to invest in annuity product even if they are not willing to do so``.
  • The main argument was that the employees should have the choice of where to invest; the objective of encouraging people to join the pension scheme could be achieved through other ways on which the government has received suggestions.
  • ``A number of representations have been received from various sections, including Members of Parliament, suggesting that this change [EPF tax] will force people to invest in annuity even if they are not willing to do so``, ``The government would like to do a comprehensive review... and therefore I withdraw the proposal``.
  • The 40 per cent exemption given to subscribers of the National Pension Scheme (NPS) at the time of withdrawal remains. This would make the NPS, which gives returns of over 11 per cent, more attractive to pension savers than other options.
  • The objective of the reform was ``not to get more revenue but to encourage more private sector employees to go for pension security after retirement instead of withdrawing the entire money from the Provident Fund account``.
  • Towards this objective, it was announced that 40 per cent of the total corpus withdrawn at the time of retirement will be tax-exempt under both provident fund and the NPS.
 
16) Indian Railways Signs Agreement With Bajaj Power.
  • Bajaj Power Generation Company has signed an agreement with the Railways for electrification of the Lalitpur-Udaipura rail section under the public private partnership (PPP).
  • The Railways would complete the electrification work in a year`s time under its customer funding scheme, which would cost nearly Rs. 47 crore.
  • The electrified rail section is expected to facilitate uninterrupted coal supply to its plant and also help running of fast passenger trains in the area.
  • BPGC is setting up a 1,980 megawatt (mw) thermal power plant in Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • While, two units of 660 mw each had already been commissioned in 2015, the third unit of 660 mw is scheduled to start generating later this month. The total investment in the plant is pegged at Rs. 16,000 crore.
  • BPGC President (commercial) Dwarikesh Sharma and North Central Railway (NCR) Additional Divisional Railway Manager (ADRM) Jhansi Vinit Singh signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations.
  • BPGC is owned by Kushagra Bajaj-led Bajaj Group, which has business interests in personal care products, real estate, sugar and ethanol.
17) CBDT sets up dedicated structure for monitoring taxpayer services.
  • Grievance redressal is a major aspect of citizen centric governance and is an important feature of the activities of the Income Tax Department. The Income-tax Department is addressing grievances through a multi-layered grievance redressal machinery including Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS), Aayakar Seva Kendras (ASK), online grievance redressal through Central Processing Centre (CPC) etc.
  • Taking another step in this direction, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued an Order setting-up a dedicated structure for delivery and monitoring of tax payer services in the Income Tax Department. Member (Revenue and Tax Payer Services) will oversee the delivery and monitoring of taxpayer services in CBDT.
  • Two separate Directorates, called Directorate of Tax Payer Services-I and Directorate of Tax Payer Services-II have been set up. Together, these Directorates will be responsible for delivery and monitoring of taxpayers services in the field offices and e-services deliverable through various electronic platforms of the Department.
  • They will oversee and co-ordinate all matters relating to grievances of taxpayers and ensure their timely redressal. These Directorates will report to the Member (R and TPS), CBDT through the Principal Director General of Income Tax (Administration).
  • The responsibility for delivery of tax payer services has also been specifically assigned at every level in the field offices. This will ensure accountability of officials in redressing grievances in a time bound manner.
  • The Tax Administration Reforms Commission’s (TARC) Report has also accorded considerable importance to redressal of grievances and a customer focussed approach in the Department through creation of a tax payer services vertical. The creation of this structure will fulfill some of the most significant recommendations of the TARC.
  • With this initiative, the CBDT expects a noteworthy reduction in taxpayer grievances and enhanced taxpayer satisfaction.
18) India’s leading Integrated Travel Thomas Cook Signs Strategic Alliance With Western Union Business Solutions And DCB Bank.
  • Travel solutions provider Thomas Cook India has inked a pact with Western Union Business Solutions and DCB Bank to facilitate international trade payments by small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • This alliance is a pioneering move by Thomas Cook India, to penetrate the high-growth Indian small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) segment for its international trade payment requirements.
  • Western Union Business Solutions is a business segment of the Western Union Company.
  • Thomas Cook India would reach out to its set of SME base and the larger market to essentially refer trade remittance transactions to DCB Bank through the Western Union technology platform.
  • Thomas Cook India aims to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in India with their trade payments across borders.
  • The business alliance with DCB Bank, Thomas Cook (India) and Western Union Business Solutions has the vision to empower micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and SMEs by providing smooth and convenient trade remittance facility.

 

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