India's real GDP growth to average at 7.4% over 2017, 2018

India's growth momentum will get stronger with a revival in private investment cycles and real GDP growth is expected to average at about 7.4 per cent over 2017 and 2018, says a Deutsche Bank report.

It also termed as 'faulty' the argument that a 7.5-8 per cent real GDP growth in the next few years will still be lower than what was achieved in the boom period of 2006-2008.

It said the global economy post the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) has adjusted to a new-normal of low-growth low-inflation environment, and India's growth achievement should, therefore, be judged taking this structural shift into consideration.

"In the current new normal, an economy which delivers a steady 7.5-8.0 per cent growth in real terms should be comparable to 9-10 per cent growth in the pre-GFC period, in our view," it added.

According to the global financial services major, the country's growth momentum will only get stronger as private investment cycle starts reviving gradually, along with the continuation of strong private consumption.

The medium-term outlook for the country looks "exceedingly positive" driven by supportive population dynamics, steadily rising aspirational middle class and a reforms oriented government, it said.

"We are forecasting India's real GDP growth to average about 7.4 per cent over 2017 and 2018, which will mark about 200 bps improvement from the average outturn over 2012 and 2013, a period when India's macro came under severe pressure," Deutsche Bank said in its research note.

It termed India as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. India lost the tag of the fastest growing major economy to China in the March quarter with a GDP growth of 6.1 per cent, which pulled down the 2016-17 expansion to 7.1 per cent.

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GST rollout improves business efficiency by 30% : PM Modi

The abolition of inter-state check posts after the implementation of GST has reduced time for movement of goods by 30 per cent and saved thousands of crores of rupees, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today.

The Goods and Services Tax, which unified more than a dozen central and state levies, is a result of cooperative federalism and its smooth rollout from July 1 has increased efficiencies of business, he said.

Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of 71st Independence Day, Modi said technology has made the rollout smooth in a short span on time.

"Trucks (carrying goods) are saving 30 per cent (travel) time post GST as check posts have been removed. This has helped save thousands of crores of rupees and more importantly time," he said.

Business efficiency, he said, has increased. "Efficiency has increased in transport sector by 30 per cent and because of GST such a big change has happened," he said. The biggest tax reform since Independence, GST was rolled out from July 1. The new indirect tax regime has subsumed over a dozen state and central levies like excise duty, service tax and VAT, and has replaced them with four tier tax structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent for goods and services across the country.

GST has removed inter-state barriers to convert India into a single market where goods and services can flow seamlessly.

State border check posts scrutinised material and location-based tax compliance, resulting in delays in delivery of goods and cause environment pollution as trucks queue up for clearance.

Modi said crores of people are behind the success of GST and the implementation of the new indirect tax regime is an example of the benefits that can be reaped if there is cooperative federalism in place between the Centre and states.

"Technology is a miracle. Some find it astonishing that GST has been rolled out in such a vast country in such short span of time," he said.

He said in initiatives like GST, ease of doing business and cleanliness drive, the Centre and states have worked shoulder to shoulder to make them a success. He said the steps taken by the government will benefit the country and with GST the country will benefit.

Modi said there was a time when the Centre and states used to fight over allocation of urea and kerosene.

The Central government, he said, had a "big brother" approach towards the states. But all this is a thing of past with increased urea production in last three years and alternate LPG and natural gas usage cutting down kerosene demand, he said.

"Since I have myself been a Chief Minister for long, I know that states are important for the growth of a country. I understand the importance of chief ministers and state governments.

"And that is why we focused on cooperative federalism and now competitive cooperative federalism. And now we are taking all decision together," Modi said. JD ANZ SA

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Indian businesses operate in the most liberal ecosystem in the world: CII President

It has been a long and notable journey for Indian business, to start basically from scratch and go on to become one of the most influential countries in the world for business. Seventy years after Independence, we can be proud of our attainments in many areas. Many Indian companies are among the top five in the world in their product categories, and many more have successfully restructured to reach global benchmarks of quality and sustainability. Today, Indian businesses operate in an ecosystem that is among the most open, liberal and competitive in the world, and have leveraged opportunities like never before. They are reaching out to remote villages and empowering workers, communities and societies.

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Indian Railways capex jumps 36% to USD 4.92 billion

The Indian Railways has achieved a robust 36% year-on-year growth in capital expenditure to Rs 32,000 crore during April-July 2017, entrenching its status of the last couple of years as a key driver of public capex. The transporter’s Q1FY18 capex jump comes on top of a 19% annual growth in its capital investments in 2016-17 and 59% in 2015-16. The railways has planned a capital expenditure of Rs 1,31,000 crore for the financial year 2017-18, of which Rs 69,000 needs to be raised through budgetary resources and Rs 62,000 crore through extra budgetary means. While expenditure from the budgetary resources till July 2017 was Rs 17,000 crore, some Rs 15,000 crore was raised from extra budgetary resources.

The Centre’s overall budgetary capex for April-June increased 39% y-o-y to Rs 68,328 crore, of which nearly 50% was defence-related. Roads, agriculture, urban development, and housing, apart from railways, were the beneficiaries due to front-loading of expenditure.

During April-July, the railways spent Rs 3,154 crore through institutional financing and Rs 6,627 crore through partnerships, a focus area since the carrier is financially constrained. These are up around 230% and 118%, respectively, compared with the same period a year ago.

The capex include investments in building tracks which saw a total spending of around Rs 8,500 crore, including construction of new lines, gauge conversion, doubling and track renewals.

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India to become first nation to use LED for all lighting needs by 2019

Power Minister Piyush Goyal today said India will probably be the first country in the world to use LEDs for all lighting needs by 2019, which would help the nation save over Rs 40,000 crore a year.

Centre-run Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) today inked pacts with oil marketing companies IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum for selling its LED bulbs, tubelights and fans at over 54,500 petrol pumps.

"This effort will help us ... India will probably be the first country in the world which will be 100 per cent using LED for its lighting needs by 2019. It will be message that India acts rather than making big promises," the minister said at a function to ink the MoUs.

The minister later clarified that all those consumer buying these products would not get EMI facility. The facility is being launched at petrol pumps in Delhi initially.

In the first phase, distribution of energy efficient equipment will commence from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The retailing of these products would eventually be done at all petrol pumps across the country.

On this occasion, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that petrol pumps would soon have common service centres (CSC) of the IT ministry. The CSC provides basic online services at one point including Aadhaar enrolment/updation and payment of power and telephone bills.

Pradhan said that since ATM, retail facilities are already available at petrol pumps, the CSCs would make the place one stop solution for day to day requirement of the commoners.

As part of the MoU with OMCs, EESL will make the entire upfront investment for ensuring availability of the products at the outlets and no upfront capital cost will be borne by the OMCs barring manpower and space. The consumer can purchase high quality 9W LED bulbs for Rs 70, 20W LED tubelight for Rs 220 and five-star rated ceiling fan for Rs 1,200.

Currently, over 25.5 crore LED bulbs, over 30.6 lakh LED tubelights and around 11.5 lakh energy efficient fans have been distributed in the country under the UJALA scheme. This is leading to an annual energy savings of over 3,340 crore kWh and resulting in avoidance of over 6,725 MW of peak demand.

Through the scheme the estimated cumulative cost reduction in bills of consumers annually, is over Rs 13,346 crore and is leading to reduction of approximately 2.7 crore tonnes of CO2 every year.

Later speaking about the Indian Bank's Association's plea seeking his intervention on the issue of cancellation of power purchase agreements (PPAs) and renegotiation of tariff, Goyal said, "These are concluded PPAs. We will respect the rule of law and every PPA would be respected."

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Canada India International Expo (CII EXPO) 2017 to take place in Sept

The CII EXPO 2017 is an extensive Expo on Trade and Export. It will provide Indian SMEs an opportunity to explore trade and business opportunities in Canada and North America. This is an incredible platform to enhance the business relationship between India and Canada. The Expo will take place in Surrey-Vancouver, BC, from 7-10 September 2017.

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Mining and construction equipment sector to grow by 13-17% in 2017

With the demand for mining and construction equipment (MCE) continuing to grow mainly due to the increase in infrastructure spends, the sector is likely to grow by 13-17 per cent during 2017, says ICRA.

According to the rating agency, the demand for MCE grew by over 35 per cent during CY2016, overcoming four consecutive years of weak demand, giving a boost to the sector which is likely to grow by 13-17 per cent in 2017. It, however, noted that the industry growth this year has been somewhat curtailed despite strong growth during January-February 2017 as the markets were temporarily hit by emission-related ambiguity and GST during April and July 2017, respectively.

It further expects the sector's growth to lower in 2018 with it growing by 8-10 per cent.

For 2019, ICRA said that industry growth may slow down to around 4 per cent due to Union elections and high base effects. "Infrastructure investments in roads, irrigation, railways and metro drove demand whereas coal and iron ore mining, power, oil and gas and real estate tampered demand," ICRA Senior Group Vice President, Corporate Sector ratings Subrata Ray said. He said the improvement in average per day execution of NHAI projects to 10.33 km in fourth quarter of financial year 2017 despite demonetisation and investments by Indian Railways helped in the growth in demand for MCE.

"The sector outlook is improving given the 20 per cent plus growth witnessed in the construction equipment industry during Q1CY2017 mainly due to higher infrastructure spend, particularly in roads, raised equipment utilisation and subsequently demand for new equipment which led to a sharp reduction in the delinquency data for CE financiers," Ray said.

On the flip side focus on renewable energy and high coal inventory impacted equipment demand both in power plants and mines, the outlook on the same continues to be negative.

Though iron ore production has grown at a healthy rate during FY2017, demand from the domestic steel industry has remained subdued. "This is expected to keep demand from the iron ore mining segment muted in CY2017. Demand from the real estate segment, however, continues to be weak," ICRA noted.

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Govt invites global bids for 10,000 electric cars

State-owned Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) has invited global bids for 10,000 electric sedans that will run up to 150 km on a single charge, for use by government departments, taking a big step to achieve power minister Piyush Goyal’s dream of having only electric cars on Indian streets by 2030.

EESL, which has led government efforts to popularise and dramatically reduce the price of energy-saving LED bulbs, plans to buy e-vehicles in two phases. It plans to acquire 1,000 vehicles in the first phase. The tender includes warranty.

Vital to the success of electric vehicles is adequate charging infrastructure in the area where they operate. EESL has also floated tenders for 3,000 alternating current (AC) charging points and 1,000 direct current (DC) ones.

“We are looking for four-door sedans, which will run 120-150 km on a single charge,” said Saurabh Kumar, the EESL managing director. “The 1,000 vehicles acquired in the first phase will be exclusively for use by government departments in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

Similarly, 400 chargers will be provided in the first phase at different locations in Delhi-NCR. They will be deployed by NTPC and PowerGrid depending on the demand.”

Use of electric cars has been incentivised under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, which has been in operation since April 2015.

Although electric vehicles, particularly Mahindra & Mahindra’s Reva, have been on sale in India for over two decades, they have never really caught on, mainly due to limited range of such vehicles on a single charge, the absence of sufficient charging points and the time taken for charging. Currently, Mahindra is the only company in the country manufacturing electrically powered sedans. The Mahindra Verito costs Rs 12-13 lakh and the vehicles sought by EESL are likely to be in the same price ..

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73.3% annual growth in e-Tourist Visa arrivals

During the month of July 2017, a total of 119,000 tourists arrived on an e-Tourist Visa as compared to 68,000 during the month of July 2016, registering a growth of 73.3%. During January-July 2017, a total of 836,000 tourists arrived on an e-Tourist Visa as compared to 540,000 during January-July 2016, registering a growth of 54.7%.

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Government mulls relaxing food retail norms

The government is weighing a proposal to relax foreign direct investment (FDI) guidelines in food retail to allow a certain percentage of locally-produced non-food items along with edible products. The liberalisation of the FDI regime is in sync with the government’s announcement in the Budget for 2017-18.

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