Economy News- Daily Digest
1. Commerce Ministry starts work to further revise WPI base year to 2017-18
The commerce and industry ministry has started the exercise to revise base year to 2017-18 for computation of wholesale inflation with a view to present more realistic picture of the price situation. In May last year, the government revised the base year for WPI-based inflation to 2011-12 to give a better indication of changes in prices of commodities. The new index, with 2017-18, is expected to have new items, which would provide a more realistic picture of price rise and its impact on people. Most of the additions could be in the manufactured products category. A working group would be formed to identify the new products which could be added in the index. Currently, the index has a total of 697 items, including primary articles, fuel and power and manufactured products. It would take around 24 months to complete the process and come out with the new index with revised base year. Further, the ministry has decided to come out with a Producers Price Index (PPI) next month for 10 services, including telecom and railways on experimental basis.
The move will help track inflation in these services, which will also include ports, postal, insurance, banking, transportation and air travel. Two major indices are used currently for tracking price movement — Wholesale Price Index (WPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI).
While the wholesale price index (WPI) measures price movement of goods in wholesale markets, the CPI tracks inflation at retail level and also includes certain services. While the incidence of taxes are accounted for in WPI and CPI, the PPI would reflect the cost at producers point sans taxes. PPI measures the average change in the price a producer receives for his goods/services sold in the domestic market/exports.
2. UNDP To Set Up Skill Development Centre In Hyderabad
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will set up a skill development center at ‘Bharosa,’ an integrated support center for distressed women and children in Hyderabad. ‘Bharosa,’ an initiative of Hyderabad City Police, is a state-of-the-art center to support women and children who are victims of violence.
The centre aims to empower vulnerable and marginalized women by imparting skills training.
3. Army finalises 15,000cr plan to produce indigenous ammunition
After years of deliberations, the Army has finalised a mega Rs 15,000-crore project under which a range of ammunition for its critical weapons and tanks will be produced indigenously to overcome long delays in imports and address the problem of a dwindling stockpile.
11 private firms would be involved in the ambitious project, the implementation of which is being monitored by the top brass of the Army and the defence ministry.
The immediate aim of the closely guarded project — said to be the biggest ever initiative for the indigenisation of ammunition — is to create an inventory for all major weapons to enable the forces to fight a 30-day war while the long-term objective is to cut dependence on imports. Initially, ammunition for a range of rockets, air defence system, artillery guns, infantry combat vehicles, grenade launchers and various other field weapons would be produced under ‘strict timelines’, a source said. The production targets would be revised based on the result of the first phase of the implementation of the programme. The initiative is seen as the first serious attempt by the government to address growing concerns voiced over the last many years by defence forces over the fast dwindling stockpile of key ammunition when China has been significantly ramping up its military capability, an issue that has been discussed by successive governments. In July last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, in a report tabled in Parliament, said a stock of only 61 types of ammunition out of 152 varieties was available, and these would only last for 10 days in the event of a war.
According to laid down security protocol, the stockpile should be adequate for a month-long war. Last year, the government had empowered the Army to directly procure ammunition and spares for 10 types of weapon systems and equipment after an internal review found the optimum level of ‘war stores’ was not being maintained.
4. Centre to double credit guarantee to MSMEs
In a bid to tackle trade finance woes of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Union Government announced that it would double the credit guarantee up to Rs 50,000 crore for 2018-19 under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme set up by the MSME Ministry.
To ensure credit availability to MSMEs for inclusive growth, the Ministry is also holding discussions with all banks and NBFCs and is planning that 70,000 units giving employment generation to almost 5 lakh people be taken up this year itself.
5. Maharashtra signs MoU with Centre’s GRIHA council for green buildings
The Maharashtra government signed an MoU with the Centres Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) Council to train state PWD officials to rate government buildings. Maharashtra was the first state to sign such an MoU.
As per the agreement signed today, the GRIHA Council, a green rating body under the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, would train PWD’s civil and electrical engineers and architects to rate government buildings as per its parameters.
6. Govt set to expand Buddhist tourism circuit to 21 more states
Earlier envisaged by the government as mainly comprising seven major Buddhist pilgrimage sites, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the ‘Buddhist Circuit’ will now be expanded to 21 other states.
The Ministry of Tourism has identified stupas and viharas in these states, around which small intra-state Buddhist zones will be developed. These include the election-bound states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, as also Kerala, West Bengal, Goa, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir.
A total of Rs 362 crore has been sanctioned so far, of which Rs 75 crore has been cleared for Madhya Pradesh under the Ministry’s Swadesh Darshan scheme, for the development of Sanchi, Satna, Rewa, Mandsaur and Dhar.
The plan is to create a Buddhist theme park, light and sound show, interpretation centre, wayside amenities and sanitation facilities. Besides, Rs 36 crore and Rs 52 crore have been sanctioned for Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh respectively.
The PMO was behind the push for Buddhist tourism. Hence, the Buddhist circuit is being imagined as India’s first trans-national tourist circuit, with efforts to promote tourism starting from Lumbini in Nepal, where Buddha was born, to the sites in India he traversed, including Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Rajgir, Vaishali, Sravasti and Sankasia (in UP and Bihar). The ministry is also in talks with the World Bank and Japanese government for funding of infrastructure projects connected with these sites.
Under the plan, Sarnath would be made the hub of Buddhist tourism in India and connected to other sites through air, rail and road transport.
The ministry also plans to involve the private sector in building tourism infrastructure pertaining to the circuit, with Alphons pointing out that “huge money” is required.
7. GST digital payments: Panel for study of global experiences, data analysis
The Group of Ministers on incentivising digital payments under the goods and services tax (GST) in its first meeting emphasised on the need for a detailed data analysis of the revenue implications of the incentives as well as a study of the international experiences before taking a final view. Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, who is the convenor of the panel, said the ministers will again meet within next 10 days and then take a decision, after which the GST Council will take the final call on the matter.
8. Telangana govt launches Rythu Bandhu scheme-Rs 8,000/acre investment support scheme for farmers
As part of its electoral promise, the Telangana government has launched a first-of-its kind investment support scheme for all farmers who will get Rs 8,000 per acre every year as crop investment support. About 58 lakh farmers who till over 1.42 crore acres are expected to be benefitted from the initiative, called the Rythu Bandhu scheme. They will directly get the financial support twice every year to maximise agricultural production and productivity. The state government has already set aside Rs 12,000 crore in the 2018-19 budget exclusively for this scheme.
Telangana is the first state to implement a farmer investment support scheme.
Rs 8,000 per acre will be paid annually in two pay order cheques of Rs 4,000 per crop season. The state government has already implemented loan waiver of crop loans of Rs 16,124 crore benefitting 35.30 lakh farmers. It was followed by fresh loans at 25 paise interest.
9. PM Modi’s third Nepal visit starts off bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli jointly inaugurated a direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya – the two sacred cities for Hindus.
Modi flagged off the bus after visiting the famed 20th century Janaki temple, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Sita, where he offered special prayers.
The Indian government has identified 15 destinations in India for development under the Ramayana Circuit theme namely Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur & Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh), Sitamarhi, Buxar & Darbhanga (Bihar), Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh), Mahendragiri (Odisha), Jagdalpur (Chattisgarh), Nashik & Nagpur (Maharashtra), Bhadrachalam (Telangana), Hampi (Karnataka) and Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu).
Janakpur is known as the birth place of Sita, the wife of Lord Rama. Janaki temple was built in memory of Sita in 1910. The three-storied structure made entirely of stone and marble is 50-metre high and spread over 4860 sq feet.