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Economy Current Affairs February 4th Week 2019

 1. Indian Oil signs first annual deal to buy up to 3 million tonnes US oil

Indian Oil Corp, the country`s top refiner, has signed its first annual deal to buy up to 3 million tonnes or 60,000 barrels per day of US oil.
State-run IOC had previously purchased US oil from spot markets and signed a mini-term deal in August to buy 6 million barrels of U.S. oil between November to January.
IOCL chairman Sanjiv Singh said the annual contract will begin from April.
He declined to give the name of the seller and pricing details citing confidentiality.
2. InfyTQ app 
The country`s second-largest IT services firm Infosys launched the `InfyTQ` app.
It is a digital platform to offer learning and engagement experiences to engineering students in the country.
InfyTQ is a free platform open to all engineering students in their third and fourth years across India.
The platform encourages holistic development by imparting technical as well as professional skills, helping them become industry-ready.
3. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will pay Rs 28,000 crore as interim dividend to the government
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will pay Rs 28,000 crore as interim dividend to the government.
This money will help the Centre meet its revised budget estimates that include an allocation for the first-ever income transfer to farmers.
With this interim transfer, the government will get a total Rs 68,000 crore from the central bank in the current fiscal.
The RBI had transferred Rs 40,000 crore to the government in August 2018.
This will be the highest receipt from RBI in a single financial year for the government, exceeding the Rs 65,896 crore it received in FY16 and Rs 40,659 crore in FY18.
4. EPFO moots hiking EPF interest rate to 8.65% for FY18-19 
The Central Board of Trustees of the Employees` Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has recommended increasing the interest rate on Employees` Provident Fund for 2018-19 to 8.65% as against 8.55% in the preceding year. 
The move, once approved by the finance ministry will benefit six crore EPFO subscribers.
Epfo will have a surplus of Rs 151 crore as on date after doling out higher interest rates. Finance ministry will have to give it`s go ahead to the interest rate declared by EPFO following which it will be notified by the labour ministry. 
The CBT is a tripartite body with representatives from the government, employers and trade unions headed by the labour minister. It is the apex decision-making body of the EPFO. The 8.65% rate is higher than that available on government small savings schemes, the return on which is benchmarked to market rates. 
EPFO has an active subscriber base of more than 60 million and manages retirement savings of over Rs 11 lakh crore. 
The EPFO provided a five-year-low rate of interest of 8.55% for FY18. It pegged the rate at 8.65% in FY17 and 8.8% in FY16. It provided 8.75% interest in FY14 and FY15. The rate of interest was 8.5% in FY13. 

Economy Current Affairs February 3rd Week 2019

1. Lok Sabha passes Interim Budget

Lok Sabha passed the Interim Budget with voice vote amidst the din. 
The House also passed the Appropriation (Vote on Account) Bill 2019, Appropriation Bill 2019 and  Finance Bill 2019.
Replying to debate on the Interim Budget earlier, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said that the country is going on the path of development ever since Narendra Modi came to power. 
He said the NDA government has worked tirelessly for every section of the society in the past five years and the Budget has taken care of all of them. 
Highlighting the economic achievements, the Minister said the NDA government has brought down the fiscal deficit to 3.4 per cent. He added that inflation has also come down to 2.19 per cent last December. Mr Goyal said the Budget has taken care of the middle class by giving them tax benefits.
He said Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi will provide food security to the farmers. He said people who are belittling this provision fail to realise the value which six thousand rupees hold for the poor farmers. 
The Minister alleged that in its ten years, the UPA government did not make any special provisions for the farmers in the general budget. 
He said the NDA government has brought several schemes for farmers during its tenure. He pointed out that the government increased the Minimum Support Price of 22 crops by 1.5 times.
Mr Goyal said that in the 2014-15 interim budget, tax on SUV cars was brought down which benefited the rich class while in this budget, the government has given several benefits to common man. 
Terming the budget as an honest one, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants honest budgets to become a habit in the country. He alleged that earlier, the UPA government made several promises in the Budget but did not fulfil them. 
He said NDA government will protect the honest and punish the dishonest. 
The Minister alleged that Congress is not able to digest the fact that the country’s economy has steadily become stronger in the past five years. Mr Goyal also rejected Opposition charge of terming the Budget as full-fledged. He emphasised that this is only an interim budget.
While Minister was replying, TDP and Congress members created noisy scenes in the House. TDP members were demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh while Congress pressed its demand for JPC probe in Rafale aircraft deal. 
2. NTPC signs pact with SBI for Rs 5K crore term loan
State-owned power NTPC has signed a term loan agreement for Rs 5,000 crore with State Bank of India.
This loan has a tenure of 15 years and will be utilised to part finance the capital expenditure of NTPC.
The loan facility is extended at an interest rate linked to 3-Month MCLR of the Bank. This loan has a door to door tenure of 15 years and will be utilised to part finance the capital expenditure of NTPC," a company statement said.
The loan agreement was signed by Masood A Ansari, General Manager (Finance), NTPC Ltd and Neelabh Sinha, Dy General Manager, SBI in the presence of Saptarshi Roy, Director (Finance), NTPC Ltd , Sudhir Arya, CFO, NTPC Ltd and Pradeep Kelshikar, General Manager, SBI.
3. e-Marketplace
Government e Marketplace (GeM) and Competition Commission of India (CCI) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to enable a fair and competitive environment in the e-Marketplace.
GeM is a state-of-the-art national public procurement platform of Ministry of Commerce and Industries, that has used technology to remove entry barriers for bonafide sellers and has created a vibrant e-marketplace with a wide range of goods and services.
GeM aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement.
It facilitates online procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various Government Departments / Organisations / PSUs. It provides the tools of e-bidding, reverse e-auction and demand aggregation to facilitate the government users, achieve the best value for their money.
4. International IP Index 2019
The International IP Index 2019 has been released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC).
Released by GIPC, the Index evaluates the IP infrastructure in each economy based on 45 unique indicators, which are critical to the growth of effective IP systems.
The indicators encompass 8 categories of IP protection: patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, commercialization of IP assets, enforcement, systemic efficiency, and membership and ratification of international treaties.
The 2019 Index demonstrates the close correlation between effective IP protection and economic growth, global competitiveness, and the creation of 21st century knowledge-based economies.
India is placed at rank 36th this year. In 2018, India was ranked 44 out of 50 countries. In the first edition of the report in 2014, India had ranked last in the ranking of 25 countries.
Among major global economies, most substantial movement can be seen from India, which has surged almost 20% and climbed eight places in the IP Index rankings from 44th to 36th.
The increase in India’s ranking is a result of specific reforms that better align India’s IP environment with the international IP system, including its accession to the WIPO Internet Treaties, the agreement to initiate a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) with Japan, a dedicated set of IP incentives for small business, and administrative reforms to address the patent backlog.

Economy Current Affairs February 2nd Week 2019

 1. FPIs pull out Rs 5,300 crore from capital markets in January

Foreign Portfolio Investors, FPIs, withdrew over 5,300 rupees crore from the Indian capital markets in January, indicating their `wait and watch` approach ahead of the general elections.
Prior to this, they had infused a net sum of over 17,000 rupees crore in the capital markets, in equity and debt, during November and December 2018. In October, they had pulled out a massive 38,900 crore rupees.
According to data available with the depositories, FPIs pulled out a net amount of 5,264 crore rupees from equities and 97 crore rupees from the debt markets last month, taking the total outflow to 5,361 crore rupees.  

Economy Current Affairs February 1st Week 2019

 1. Crisil report

Bihar and Andhra Pradesh led the pack among States in terms of GDP growth in financial year 2017-18.
Bihar registered 11.3% and Andhra Pradesh registered 11.2% growth, compared with the national GDP growth of 6.7% for the year.
12 of the 17 general category States grew faster than the national growth rate.
However, the report noted that this growth was not equitable, with the gap between the per capita incomes in low-income and high-income States widening over the last five years.
Jharkhand, Kerala, and Punjab are at the bottom.
2. World`s Busiest Airport in 2018
Dubai International Airport has retained its position as the world`s busiest airport for the fifth consecutive year in a row in 2018.
It overtook the crown of the world`s busiest hub for international travel from London`s Heathrow in 2014.
Indian travellers emerging as the largest source of traffic for the airport with a total of more than 12.2 million travellers.
3. 7.8 lakh more affordable houses
The government has approved construction of four lakh 78 thousand 670 more affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). 
In a press release, Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry said, the approval was given in the 42nd meeting of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee held in New Delhi. 
The Ministry said, out of total houses, over one lakh houses each have been sanctioned for Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. 
The number of houses sanctioned for Uttar Pradesh is over 91 thousand, for Tamil Nadu over 68 thousand, for Madhya Pradesh over 35 thousand and for Kerala over 25 thousand.
4. SBI Card and Etihad Guest launched premium card for international travel
SBI Card and Etihad Guest, have joined hands to launch a travel specific Visa credit card for members and Indian travellers.
This is the first international co-brand partnership of SBI Card, the country`s second largest credit card issuer.
The card will be available in two variants, Etihad Guest SBI Card and Etihad Guest SBI Premier Card.
The card will bring an unmatched value proposition to Etihad Guest members and international travellers from India.
5. India improves its global corruption ranking in 2018
India has improved its ranking on a global corruption index in 2018 by three points and moved to 78th position with a score of 41.
In the list of 180 countries, China and Pakistan lagged far behind at 87th and 117th position, respectively.
According to the rankings released by an anti-corruption watchdog, Denmark is the least corrupt country followed by New Zealand.
Somalia, Syria and South Sudan are the most corrupt countries in the world.
6. Manohar Parrikar presents annual budget in Goa Assembly
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who also holds Finance portfolio, today presented annual budget of 19,548.69 crore rupees for the year 2019-20 as against 17,123.28 crore rupees for the year 2018-19, representing an increase of 14.16 per cent over last year.
The total estimated expenditure on Revenue Account was  13,308.26 crore rupees while the expenditure on Capital Account was  4987.45 crore rupees.
There was an increase in the allocation for Capital Expenditure by 18.29 per cent, as compared to the budget estimate for the last year, which was 4216.25 crore rupees.
Overall the budget indicated a revenue surplus which was estimated to be 455.10 crore rupees. 
The Chief Minister said the government had laid stress and thrust on agriculture, education, health, information technology, employment, infrastructure and overall sustainable economic development of the state.
7. Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers
The Delhi government has decided to introduce Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers based on the report of the MS Swaminathan Commission.
A three-member committee was formed in December to study the MS Swaminathan Commission’s report. The committee has submitted its report. The report will be put before experts for suggestions. Once the MSP is finalised, the government will hold meetings with farmers, seeking their views and thereafter it will be sent to the Cabinet.
The National Commission on Farmers (NCF), with MS Swaminathan as its chairman, was formed in 2004.
To come up with a system for sustainability in farming system and make it more profitable and cost competitive in farm commodities. To also recommend measures for credit and other marketing steps.
The commission submitted five reports between December 2004 and October 2006. The fifth and final report is considered the most crucial as it contains suggestions for the agriculture sector as a whole.
Key recommendations of the Commission:
Distribute ceiling-surplus and wasteland among farmers, prevent the non-agricultural use of farmland, secure grazing rights and seasonal forest access to forest tribals.
Establish a National Land Use Advisory Service, which would link land use decisions with ecological and marketing factors of season and geography-specific basis.
Reform irrigation resources and its distribution among farmers. Use rainwater harvesting, water level recharging to increase water supply.
Spread outreach of institutional credit by reducing crop loan interest rates, provide a moratorium on debt recovery, agricultural risk fund and a separate Kisan Credit Card for women farmers.
To address the growing farmer suicides, provide affordable health insurance at primary health centres in rural areas. The recommendations included an extension of national rural health mission to suicide-prone areas. Restructuring of microfinance policies, covering all crops by insurance and social security net for support were also sought.
Give farmers a minimum support price at 50% profit above the cost of production classified as C2 by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
8. India replaces Japan to be world’s second largest steel producer
India has replaced Japan as the world’s second-largest steel producing country, only behind China, which is the largest producer of crude steel accounting for more than 51 per cent of production, as per the latest report by World Steel Association.
The global steel body, in its latest report said, China’s crude steel output jumped 6.6 percent to 928.3 million tonnes in 2018 from 870.9 MT in 2017. China’s share increased from 50.3 percent in 2017 to 51.3 percent in 2018.
“India’s crude steel production in 2018 was at 106.5 MT, up 4.9 percent from 101.5 MT in 2017, meaning India has replaced Japan as the world’s second-largest steel producing country. Japan produced 104.3 MT in 2018, down 0.3 percent compared to 2017,” Worldsteel said.
Global crude steel production reached 1,808.6 MT in 2018 from 1,729.8 MT in 2017, a rise of 4.6 percent.
Others in the top 10 steel producing countries include the U.S., at the fourth position as the country produced 86.7 MT of crude steel in 2018, South Korea (72.5 MT, fifth place), Russia (71.7 MT, sixth), Germany (42.4 MT, seventh), Turkey (37.3 MT, eight), Brazil (34.7 MT, ninth) and Iran (25 MT, tenth). 
The World Steel Association is one of the largest industry associations in the world. Its members represent around 85 percent of the world’s steel production, including over 160 steel producers with nine of the 10 largest steel companies, national and regional steel industry associations, and steel research institutes.
9. RBI to inject Rs 37,500 crore through OMO
The Reserve Bank of India said that it will inject Rs 37,500 crore into the system through purchase of government securities in February to increase liquidity.
The RBI said it has been monitoring the evolving liquidity conditions and durable liquidity requirements of the system.
In a release issued from Mumbai RBI stated that it has decided to conduct purchase of government securities under Open Market Operations (OMOs) for an aggregate amount of Rs 375 billion in the month of February 2019 through three auctions of Rs 125 billion each during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th week.
The release stated that there will be no auction during the first week due to the scheduled MPC meeting.
The apex bank said that it would inform about the auction dates in the due course.
10. Tata enters list of top 100 valuable brands
The ‘Tata’ brand has entered the list of Top 100 most valuable global brands, according to the Brand Finance Global 500, 2019 report.
The report has been released at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Climbing from the 104th to the 86th position this year,  Tata  is the lone Indian brand in the Top 100.
The total value of Brand Tata increased 37 per cent to $19.5 billion in 2019 from $14.2 billion a year ago.