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June 28, 2017

Current Affairs 2017 : Latest Economy and Finance updates

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  • Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership : India upset over slow progress on services talks : 
    • India, which is in talks for the proposed mega-regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA) along with 16 other Asia Pacific nations, has expressed disappointment over the inadequate progress in talks on services trade liberalisation especially for facilitafing easier movement of professionals for shortterm work in these countries. 
    • Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman led the Indian delegation to the 3rd RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting on 21-22 May 2017 in Hanoi in which Trade Ministers of 15 other RCEP countries participated. 
    • The negotiations for the FTA, officially known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), started in November 2012. 
    • It includes the 10 ASEAN member States and six nations that have existing FTAs with ASEAN — India, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. 
    • These nations have a combined GDP of around $24 trillion and a population of around 3.6 billion. 
  • Govt approves phasing out of 25-year-old Foreign Investment Promotion Board : 
    • The Union Cabinet approved phasing out of the 25-year-old Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
    • The FIPB is the inter-ministerial body - or a single window clearance mechanism for applications on foreign direct investment (FDI) in India in sectors under the government approval route. 
    • The move to phase out the FIPB is aimed at making India a more attractive FDI destination and increasing FDI inflows by providing greater ease of doing business and promoting the 'Maximum Governance and Minimum Government principle.
    • The proposal entails abolishing the FIPB and allowing administrative Ministries/ Departments to process applications for FDI requiring government approval, an official statement said. 
  • TRAI defends decision to impose penalty on 3 firms :
    • Incumbent operators were 'intentionally denying and delaying' providing adequate points of interconnection to the new entrant Reliance Jio, TRAI said, defending its recom-mendation to impose a penalty on Bharti Airtel, Idea and Vodafone. 
    • TRAI said it was within its powers to impose a penalty for violation of licence norms.
    •  TRAI had recommended a fine of Rs 1,050 crore each for Airtel and Vodafone and of As 950 crore for idea for violating their agreement and denial of interconnection to Reliance Jio. 
  • Google shortlists six start-ups for support : 
    • Google announced the names of six Indian start-ups which have been shortlisted for the fourth class of the company's Google Accelerator Program. 
    • The company said the six start-ups would be joining a group of young ventures from at over Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe at the Google Developers Launchpad Space In San Francisco. 
    • With this batch, a total of 26 Indian companies had so far joined the launchpad accelerator programme from India. 
  • Moody's cuts China's rating on debt concerns : 
    • Moody's ratings agency downgraded China's credit score, warning that econo-mywide debt is expected to rise as poten-tial economic growth slows over the coming years. 
    • The agency lowered China's long-term local currency and foreign currency issuer ratings to Al from Aa3, but said its outlook changed from "negative" to ''stable''. 
  • Govt. to widen coverage under UDAN : 
    • The Central government has proposed widening the scope of its UDAN scheme for regional connectivity by making more flight operations eligible for a host of concessions, including viability gap funding. Soon, an routes which do not have flight services at present may become part of the Scheme. 
  • Centre amends definition of a start-up 
    • The Centre has amended the definition of a start-up by broadening the term to include scalability of business model with a potential for employment generation or wealth creation, according to an official statement issued. 
    • The other significant changes include increasing the age of a start-up as well as doing away with the requirement of Letter of Recommendation from an incubator/industry association for recognition or tax benefits. 
    • Startup India initiative was unveiled in January 2016 to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and to help start-ups to drive economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. 
    • The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, the nodal agency for startups. The changes are also aimed at building a nation of job creators instead of job seekers, according to the statement. 
  • GST will help establish traceability of gold : WGC : 
    • The rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on July 1 will get gold out of the shadows of black money and establish traceability, Somasundaram P. R., managing director, India World Gold Council said.
  • CBT rejects proposal to reduce PF contribution to 10% : 
    • Trustees of retirement fund body EPFO rejected a proposal to reduce the mandatory contributions toward social security schemes run by it to 10 per cent for workers as wet as employers. 
    • Presently, employees and employers con-tribute 12 per cent of basic wages each towards Employees Provident Fund Scheme (EPF), Employee Pension Scheme (EPS) and Employee Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI). Indian Railways to set up Rs. 35,000 crore fund for projects 
    • The Railway Ministry will send a proposal for the Union Cabinet approval later this month to set up a Railways of India Development Fund with a corpus of Rs 35,000 crore to finance railway projects. 
    • "This fund we not be set up for Indian Railways alone but for the railway sector as a whole in the country. All the companies, including private players and railway station developers, working in the rail sector of India are also eligible to draw on that fund," 
    • The Fund intends to raise Rs 35,000 crore to be invested over seven years in the rail sector. The fund may be set up through contribution from domestic and international pension funds along with domestic and multilateral borrowings agencies. 
  • Bangladesh SEZs Indian suitors to be named on May 29 : 
    • The Government will finalise the list of Indian companies interested in developing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Bangladesh. 
    • The development comes nearly two years after India and Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in June 2015 for "cooperation on establishing Indian Economic Zone (IEZ) in Bangladesh." 
  • London courts 20 Indian start-ups to compete globally
    • Twenty Indian tech stall-ups have been named as the winners of the India Emerging 20 (1E20) programme.
    • The initiative was introduced by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's business and promotional agency, London & Partners and is also supported by British bank Santander U.K., accounting firm BDO and immigration specialist Newland Chase. It is on a mission to uncover some of India's most promising com-panies looking to expand on the international stage. 
    • The 20 selected companies have been invited to London to help facilitate international partnerships, alliances and business opportu-nities. 
    • They would also get insights about how to take advantage of London's unique position as a global business centre.
    • Among these startups is Transcell which is aiming to become a leading enterprise for the discovery and development of targeted anti-cancer treatments. 
    • Its objective is to improve survival rates, neurological ailments and autoimmune disorders. 
  • Natural gas no longer profitable: ONGC 
    • State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp., (ONGC) has said that producing natural gas is no longer a profitable business for the company as the government-mandated gas price is significantly below the cost of production. 
    • The BJP.led government had in October 2014 evolved a new pricing formula using rates prevalent in gas surplus nations like the U.S., Canada and Russia to determine rates in a net importing country. 
    • Prices have halved to $2.48 per million British thermal unit since the formula was implemented. 
    • ONGC chairman and managing director Dinesh K Sarraf said the company lost Rs5.010 crore in revenue on natural gas business, and about Rs 3,000 crore in profit in just last one year because of cuts in gas prices. 
  • Adani has to pay coal royalties in full, says Queensland  
    • Adani Enterprises will get no exemption or discounted rates on royalties it has to pay to 3 develop its Carmichael coal mine project in Australia, Queensland state Premier  Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
    • Ministers from the centre-left state govern-ment made the decision, putting an end to speculation that the Indian company would be offered concessions on royalties during the early years of coal production. 
    • Under this new policy, the Adani Carmichael 4111 mine will pay every cent of royalties in full, Ms. Paiaszczuk said in a statement. 
  • Centre's expenditure rises after new Feb. 1 Budget date
    • The advancement of the Budget date to February 1 had a positive effect on the pat-tern of government expenditure, which increased 'substantially' in April and May compared to previous years, according to a Finance Ministry official. 
    • The Budget for the financial year 2017-18 was presented on February 1 instead of at the end of the month in order to facilitate a timely disbursal of funds for various sectors.
    • "The advancement of the Budget date to February 1 has already seen the disbursement of planned expenditure increasing in the months of April and May, instead of having to wait till the monsoon got over, as was happening earlier," a senior official in the 3 Ministry of Finance told 
    • "The exact increase is still being calculated, but it is definitely substantial and we will make the report public soon. 
    • It should have increased by about 10-15% of 3 what was happening last year." 
    • According to the Government, the February 28 date for the presentation of the Budget meant that the actual disbursal of funds got delayed tit the very end of the monsoon. 
  • CEO, NITI Aayog Inaugurates National Conference of Micro Missions of National Police Mission being organised by the BPR&D
    • Shri Amtabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NITI Aayog (National institution for Transforming India), has advocated conducting a survey on the status of Policing in various States. 
    • Inaugurating the 1st National Conference of Micro Missions of National Police Mission (NPM), Shri Kant said the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D) should 3 come out with the survey of State Police, including at district-level, based on various parameters including outcomes, to bring about change in policing. Stating that economic development and internal security have a symbiotic relationship, he said the poke will also have to act as an instrument 3 of social change. 
Shared by Shravan Varma Gadhiraju
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