Government of India plans to develop terminals at major ports. The Ministry of Shipping in consultation with the state maritime boards and major port authorities will execute the contracts. Cruise tourism is expected to gain some traction as the Union government plans to develop terminals at major ports to facilitate tourism activity. A single entity will be entrusted with the job of executing the operation and maintenance contracts for the cruise terminals. Essentially, cruise terminals at 4-5 ports would be operated and maintained by one player. The Ministry of Shipping in consultation with the state maritime boards and major port authorities will execute the contracts. The first tender is expected to be executed by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the O&M tender would include JNPT, Kochi, Kandla and Mangalore Port. The Union Shipping Minister said these terminals would be built by the government and tendered on O&M contracts to mainly international players who have the expertise to maintain them for certain duration of time. One terminal at the Mumbai port is being built by the government at an investment of Rs 1.97 billion. This will be tendered for an O&M contract upon completion.
Government of India has imposed restriction on import of bio-fuels including ethyl alcohol and other denatured spirits, bio-diesel, petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals other than crude, through an amendment in import policy. The import of these items, which was free earlier, will now only be allowed for non-fuel purpose on actual user basis. “Import policy of bio-fuels revised from ‘free’ to ‘restricted’ and allowed for non-fuel purpose on actual user basis as per the National Bio-Fuel Policy,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification.
Responding to a long-standing demand from merchant exporters, Government of India has decided to make them eligible for its interest equalisation scheme for pre- and post-shipment export credit that will bring down borrowing costs considerably. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval for the proposal of the Department of Commerce to include merchant exporters under the scheme by allowing them interest equalisation rate of 3 percent on credit for export of 416 tariff lines identified under the scheme. This means that merchant exporters will now be eligible for credit from banks at 3 percent lower interest rates and the banks will, in turn, be compensated by the Centre for it. So far, only manufacturing exporters were eligible for the scheme. “The proposal will entail benefits of around ₹600 crore to exporters on interest equalisation for the remaining period of the scheme. Merchant exporters play an important role in finding overseas markets, getting export orders, and communicating to MSME manufacturers the current preferences, trends and demand for products in international export markets, the statement added. The products covered under the interest subvention scheme are largely in the MSME/labour intensive sectors such as agriculture, textiles, leather, handicraft and machinery. “Inclusion of merchant exporters in the scheme is expected to make them more competitive, encouraging them to export more products manufactured by MSMEs adding to the country’s exports. Additional exports by them will increase production by MSME giving a fillip to employment generation as MSME are generally in the employment intensive sectors.
The Union Cabinet approved the proposed amendments to the Trade Unions Act 1926, aimed at giving statutory backing to central and state-level trade unions. The proposed Bill, likely be introduced in the ongoing winter session of Parliament, has provisions for recognizing central trade unions by various government departments, at both the central and state levels. There are provisions empowering the Centre to frame rules for recognizing unions and resolving disputes involving them. The move will help the government have a say in cases such as those witnessed recently, where there were factions in the Congress backed Indian Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and Trade Unions Co-Ordination Centre. The government had, in 2016, barred INTUC from attending all consultation meetings after three leaders within the unit claimed to be leading the union. Unions are not recognized under the Trade Unions Act, originally enacted in 1926. The office of the chief central labour commissioner conducts a verification drive of the membership, based on which the labour and employment ministry gives them the status of central trade unions. However, there is no statutory provision for either the recognition of a trade union in industry, or the establishment or recognition of a union at the central and state level.
Iran will invest about 15 billion rupees to expand a refinery run by Chennai Petroleum Corporation. The state-run company is boosting capacity at its Nagapattinam facility by nine-fold to process 9 million tons per year and the investment is Naftiran Intertrade Co.’s share of the 275 billion rupees ($4 billion) expansion plan. Naftiran, an affiliate of state-run National Iranian Oil Co. holds 15.4 percent of Chennai Petroleum, while Indian Oil owns 51.9 percent. Apart from boosting capacity, Chennai Petroleum is building a petrochemicals plant of about 475,000 tons per annum capacity. The new plants will enable the refiner to process dirtier and cheaper crude, apart from making more value added products. The detailed feasibility report for the expansion project, that includes the petrochemicals plant, is expected to be ready by June 2019.
The Union Cabinet has approved the policy framework to encourage measures for increasing oil and gas production from ageing fields. The Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, said, “Oil and natural gas production worth Rs 50 lakh crore is expected to be unlocked from this policy. The EOR Policy offers a 50 percent discount on cess charged for crude oil production and 75 percent discount on royalty charged for gas production after implementing EOR projects on existing assets.” An official statement said, “An increase by 5 percent in recovery rate of original in-place volume in oil production is envisaged, producing 120 million tonne additional oil in the next 20 years. In case of gas, an increase of 3 percent recovery rate on original in- place volume is envisaged, leading to additional production of 52 BCM of gas in the next 20 years.” The policy, having a sunset clause, will be effective for 10 years from the date of its notification. However, the fiscal incentives will be available for a period of 120 months from the date of commencement of production in enhanced recovery projects, the statement added.
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) will infuse Rs 1,200 crore over the next 6-7 years to create infrastructure of laying LPG pipeline and installing CNG stations in the two Burdwan districts of West Bengal. City piped gas can be a reality in the district in the next two years along with compressed natural gas (CNG) stations. IOC will build 80 CNG stations for automotive fuel and offer a minimum of 2.5 lakh of piped gas connections in the next 8 years. In the first phase, 12 CNG stations and connection target is 12,000 in 2020 and the joint venture proposes to add similar numbers each year thereon. IOC had partnered Adani Gas Private Ltd for both east and west Burdwan districts in the ninth round of bidding for city gas distribution project. The Indian Oil-Adani Gas Private Ltd joint venture is banking on CNG supply from the proposed GAIL Jagdishpur-Haldia gas pipeline which is expected in 2020, according to the IOC officials.
JSW Steel plans to pump in over Rs 5,000 crore to strengthen its downstream manufacturing capacity and is also keen to pursue stressed downstream assets that will come up for bidding in the next round. JSW Steel, which announced a capex investment programme of nearly Rs 45,000 crore to expand its capacities in Karnataka and Maharastra, is planning to invest over Rs 5,000 crore to strengthen its downstream manufacturing capabilities. This will enable the company to re-orient its product mix and focus on high value special steel products and customisation. The investment in downstream capabilities by JSW Steel is aimed at capitalising the incremental demand expected to be generated across sectors for specialised steel. While 300 million tonnes (MT) of steel consumption is expected to come in, the steel intensity across applications is coming down. As part of its long-term play, the company is deprioritising its focus on commodity steel space.
Bharti Realty, the real estate arm of Bharti Enterprises, is looking to expand its presence in Delhi and Gurugram markets and is in talks with land owners as well as other developers for joint ventures to build new projects worth over Rs 1,000 crore each, a top company official said. Bharti Realty currently has around 15 completed projects, having nearly 5 million sq ft of fully leased Grade-A commercial space, in Delhi-NCR and some other cities. It has almost completed a 7 lakh sq ft office building at Gurugram and will soon start the leasing process. The company has got all regulatory approvals from the central as well as the state government to start this project, comprising 2,300 units and around Rs 2,000 crore of investment. They expect to soon get approvals from the NGT and the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) to develop this project. The Bharti Group has presence in telecom, agri-business, financial services, retail and real estate among others.
SB Energy, a domestic arm of the Japanese investment powerhouse Softbank Group, has signed up with the Essel group to jointly develop a 500-mw solar park in the country. The agreement will enable the Masayoshi Son-run Softbank Group to expand its portfolio further in country and is part of aggressive growth strategy adopted here. Essel Infraprojects, which is part of the Essel group, is into developing large infrastructure projects across multiple sectors and has been focusing on development of solar assets and enabling infrastructure and has planned multiple similar solar assets across the country. With this announcement the Essel group has further committed itself to development of renewable sector. SB Energy has already won bids for setting up 1400 mw of projects in the country, including 300 mw in the Bhadla III Solar Park being developed by Saurya Urja Company of Rajasthan, a joint venture of IL&FS Energy and Rajasthan. Reportedly, SoftBank intends to invest USD 1 trillion by 2030 in renewable energy sector in the country.
Ramco Cements said that it has embarked on a major expansion across its plants with an estimated investment of Rs. 1,930 crores to be spent over a period of time. The company is expanding the capacity of its Kolaghat grinding unit from 9 lakh tonne per annum to 2 million tonne per annum. Similarly, it is also expanding its Vizag grinding unit from 9 lakh tonne per annum to 2 million tonne per annum. The company also announced that it is setting up a new grinding unit with an annual capacity of 9 lakh tonne in Odisha and expanding clinkering capacity at Jayanthipuram by 1.50 million tonne per annum with 27 MW of waste water heat recovery system. The aggregate estimated capital expenditure for all these expansions is estimated at `1,930 crore and the same is proposed to be funded mostly through internal accruals.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) plans to create an industry body to draw up best practices for portfolio managers and introduce a template to bring uniformity in the way they market their schemes. At present, portfolio management service (PMS) providers file offer documents with the capital markets regulator and release quarterly statements to existing clients. However, there is no standardised document for marketing various funds to potential customers and detail investment objectives, past performance, and fund strategies. Performance could be depicted by weighted average returns, rolling returns or back-tested returns for newer schemes. Non-discretionary and advisory performance is often clubbed with the performance of discretionary portfolios, not reflecting true returns. PMS assets have nearly doubled in the past five years to nearly Rs 15 trillion. SEBI is doing its bit to ensure that PMS providers adhere to data sanctity. However, unlike mutual funds, the marketing material for PMS schemes is not in a standard format and most providers use ad hoc data for representational purposes. Mutual funds, on the other hand, detail scheme returns and features by way of an offer document consisting of scheme information document (SID) and statement of additional information. MFs also provide a key information document that comes with application forms and are a concise version of SIDs.
The insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has notified the mechanism to be followed for issuing regulations under the insolvency law. A set of procedures would be followed for making or amending regulations under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). Under the mechanism, a draft of regulations would be put out for public consultations as well as a statement of the problem that the proposed regulation seeks to address. Among others, there would be an economic analysis of the proposed regulations and a statement carrying relevant norms advocated by international standard setting agencies and the international best practices. “The IBBI shall allow at least twenty-one days for public to submit their comments. If the governing board (of the IBBI) decides to approve regulations in a form substantially different from the proposed regulations, it shall repeat the process under the issuing regulations,” the release said. In case, there is an urgent need for issuing or amending regulations, then the consultation process could be done away with.
Government of India is considering easing the mandatory 80% land acquisition condition before highways construction can start to speed up road building and start more projects before the next elections. A top government official said that this condition could be relaxed to 50% mandatory land acquisition. The road transport and highways minister is likely to take the final call on the proposal soon. The land acquisition process for any project currently takes around one and a half year on an average. The land acquisition process doesn’t face too many problems in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Gujarat. Whereas, in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal it takes time. Reducing the threshold will not necessarily mean projects will get stalled later as in last four years farmers have been more than willing to give their land because of increased and timely compensation. The government currently offers four times the market price for farm land. The government has also decided not to acquire land before the harvest season as it unnecessarily leads to creation of hurdles for farmers, therefore, delaying the handover of land. The road transport and highways ministry is hoping to deliver 300 national highways across country ranging close to 11,000 km and award 25,000 Kms by the end of the current fiscal.
Government of India has imposed standard conditions for as many as 25 sectors seeking environment clearance (EC) for expansion of existing projects or new projects. The government-constituted green panel, called the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) assesses the projects and makes recommendations, based on which the environment ministry grants the final EC. In order to bring uniformity on the stipulated terms and conditions across the projects, sectors, and as a general guide to EAC as well as project proponents, the ministry has prepared standard conditions for 25 sectors, the ministry said. The sectors include iron, steel, cement, coal, petroleum refineries industry, paper and pulp, hydro-electric projects, and industrial estates, among others.
The Ministry of Finance has imposed anti-dumping duties ranging from $44.89 to $185.51 per tonne for five years on certain Chinese steel products. The levies have been introduced to guard domestic players from cheap imports of straight length bars and rods of alloy steel. The Department of Revenue has imposed these duties on the recommendations of the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR). After its investigation, the Directorate-General of Allied Duties has concluded that straight length bars and rods of alloy steel have been exported to India from China below the normal value. The domestic industry has suffered material injury on account of subject (straight length bars and rods of alloy steel) imports from the subject country (China). The injury has been caused by the dumped import of the subject goods and from the subject country. These Chinese imports have increased in absolute terms during the period of probe (2016-17). The products are used in forging, automobiles, auto components, crank shaft, springs, gears, fasteners, cement plants, power plants, turbines, ship-building, and railways, among others.
The central government laid down guidelines for facilitating the entry of private sector in the healthcare space at the district-level, through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) models . Niti Aayog, along with technical assistance from the World Bank, has charted out guidelines for PPP that states can choose to opt for, as health is a state subject. Four PPP models—Management of Contract, Purchasing of Services, Build, Operate and Transfer Model or a Co-location Model—have been proposed. In the Management of Contract model, the state government will bring in a private partner for a period of 10-15 years of investing in equipping the government facility, hiring human resources and managing the facility, while government will reimburse the private partner. In the Purchasing of Services model, the state government will identify medical and surgical procedures that a private partner, whom they empanel, will carry out and the government will pay or co-pay the costs. This will be for a period of one to three years. In the Build, Operate and Transfer Model, the private partner will have the vacant land offered by the government for thirty years or more and will finance the project.
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) will be investing about Rs.7,112 crore in infrastructure facilities in Tamil Nadu over the next three years. At the IOC group level — IOC and group company Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd — will be investing about Rs.37,112 crore in Tamil Nadu. The investments will be in pipeline expansion, construction of captive jetty, additional facilities for petrol and diesel handling, POL (petroleum, oils and lubricants) terminals at an outlay of Rs,7,112 crore in the next three years. Group company Chennai Petroleum will be expanding its refinery capacity at Narimanam to nine million ton per annum at an outlay of about Rs. 30,000 crore. These apart, the company will be investing in the city gas distribution network in Coimbatore and Salem where it has won the distribution bids recently.
Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilizers (MCFL) has received green clearance for Rs 1,547-crore expansion-cum-modernisation of its fertiliser plants in Karnataka. The company’s proposal is for energy improvement of ammonia and urea plants, expansion of DAP/NPK plant and Poly Carboxyl Ether (PCE) plant at the existing premises in Panambur in Mangalore. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 1,547 crore. The MCFL complex is spread in an area of 192 acre. The proposed developments/facilities are planned within the existing premises. The company’s proposal is to increase production capacity of ammonia from 2,47,500 tonnes per annum (TPA) to 3,28,500 TPA, urea from 4,29,000 to 5,69,400 TPA, DAP and NPK fertilisers from 4,01,500 to 14,01,500 TPA and Sulphonated Napthalene Formaldehyde (SNF)/poly carboxylate Ether (PCE) from 85,000 to 1,03,000 TPA. Poly Carboxyl Ether (PCE) acts as super plasticizers and is currently being imported in the country. The proposed new facility within the MCFL plant would be contributing in our country’s ‘Make in India’ program. Since the fertiliser subsidy are paid by the government taking into account energy consumption, the MCFL’s proposed project aims to bring energy norms to best achievable industry levels to continue profitable operation.
IKEA India, the Swedish home furnishings retailer laid foundation stone for its third store in Nagasandra, Bengaluru. The 500,000 sq. ft. store, planned to open in summer 2020, is connected to the Nagasandra Metro Station. The store, besides offering a wide range of home furnishing solutions, will also have a 1,000 seater restaurant serving Swedish and Indian delicacies. It will house a supervised children’s play area called “Smaland”. Around 7500 products will be on offer with solution to create a better and brighter everyday life at home. The Bengaluru store will employ 800-1000 direct co-workers and another 1500 indirectly providing services such as assembly, delivery etc. IKEA stores will have solar panels, LED lights, rain water harvesting, water treatment plants and modern waste management systems. IKEA will use EV for deliveries and even co-worker transportation in the future.
The Centre proposes new financial model for building greenfield airports aimed at making air travel more affordable and addressing disputes related to tariff. Under the new financial model, the concession fee given by the airport operator to the concessioning authority will be based on a “per passenger aeronautical model”. The passenger-based model will also be the base of the bidding process. The new model will encourage increased private investment. Currently, the transaction structure for airports, run under joint venture route, is based on revenue sharing model.
The Environment Ministry has firmed up guidelines that will require every corporate seeking green clearance to set aside up to 2% of its capital investment for Corporate Environment Responsibility (CER). The guidelines make it mandatory for companies to set aside funds for CER over and above what is required for executing the environment management plan in a project affected area. While brownfield (expansion) projects would be required to earmark 0.125% to 1% of additional capital investment for CER purposes, the slab for greenfield projects ranges from 0.25% to 2% of the capital investment. The exact quantum will be decided for every project by the Expert Appraisal Committee when it comes up for green clearance. The subject has been in discussion for a while now with the ministry repeatedly insisting on creating a separate category for CER funds and projects, rather than assuming it to be part of the implementation of the environment impact assessment plan.
The US has announced hefty preliminary anti-dumping duties on metal pipes imported from India, China and four other countries, in an aggressive tactic by the Trump administration to protect the American industry and lower the trade deficit. Six US pipe manufacturers had filed the antidumping complaint with the Commerce Department in January. Announcing the preliminary determinations in anti-dumping duty investigations of imports of the pipes, the US Department of Commerce said the six countries were selling the large diameter-welded pipe — used to transport oil, gas and other fluids — far below the fair price, and that dumping harms the US industry. India has been slapped with an anti-dumping duty of 50.55 percent. US imports of the pipe from India last year totalled USD 294.7 million. The other countries being hit with duties are China (132.63 percent), Greece (22.51 percent), Canada (24.38 percent), South Korea (14.97 to 22.21 percent) and Turkey (3.45 to 5.29 percent). Dumping occurs when a foreign company sells an imported product at an artificially low price. The US Customs and Border Protection will collect cash deposits from India and the five other importers, according to a statement by the US Commerce Department. The Commerce Department said it will make a final ruling in November on whether the pipe from India and China is dumped into the US market. If the independent International Trade Commission finds that US industry was not harmed from the imports, the duties will be refunded.