Infrastructure Needs 50 trillion Investment by 2022; Says CII

According to the analysis of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), proliferation of the infrastructure of India needs an investment of Rs. 50 trillion ($778 billion). In order to keep the growth momentum going and pacing, next four years are crucial for investment.

“The infrastructure sector, comprising core sectors like power, roads, highways and renewable energy, will require Rs 50-trillion investments over the next 4 years to have sustainable development in the country,” said Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)’s Karnataka unit Chairman N. Muthukumar at a day-long conference here.

Participating in the CII annual conference on infrastructure themed “Impact of Technology on Infrastructure Development & Changing Workplace”, Muthukumar said while core sectors would drive the investments in the years to come, with proper infrastructure, land use by industries could be reduced by 40 per cent.

“Infrastructure development influences the overall development of the economy. The private sector is emerging as a key player across various segments, from roads and communications to power and airports,” said Muthukumar, who is also President of Automotive Axles Ltd.

Noting that the infra sector is critical to propel growth, Volvo India Managing Director Kamal Bali said as good infrastructure and logistics are pre-requisites for a healthy economy, India has a long way to go.

“The cost of logistics in India is 14 per cent of the GDP as opposed to 8 per cent in the rest of the world, resulting in a wastage of $150 billion a year. With 62 per cent of logistic movement in the country by road, stress on surface infrastructure is huge, resulting in 75,000km per year per truck as against 450,000 km in China,” Bali said.

Though urabanisation is a sign of a developing economy, Sri City President Satish Kamat said, providing right infrastructure is critical, as mistakes in the sector could not be corrected easily.

“Infrastructure affects a nation’s social and economic fabric and when intertwined with technology, it becomes a force multiplier,” asserted Kamat.

He advocated the use of Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and deep learning in infra development to ensure longevity and effectiveness.

Highlighting the issues facing the infra sector, Kamat said lack of long-term finance, skill upgradation and technology solutions are holding up its growth pace.

“We need the right infrastructure, developed at the right speed and using the right technology to ensure the country is future ready,” asserted Kamat.

CII’s state infrastructure taskforce convener Syed Mohammed Beary lamented that a city like Bengaluru lacks the right infrastructure though it is suited to be one of the world’s best.

“In India, we build infrastructure after a city grows, while good infrastructure builds great countries and futuristic cities,” Beary pointed out.

Karnataka Industry Minister K.J. George, who was to inaugurate the conference, and state Urban Development Secretary Mahendra Jain, who was to deliver the special address, were conspicuous by their absence.

“There was no official representation from the state government at the conference,” a CII official asserted.

US Won’t Mind Pakistan’s Bailout from IMF: Says Fawad Chaudhry

Pakistan’s Information minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday informed that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured Pakistan last week that Washington would not try to block any request from Pakistan for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

In July, Pompeo’s warning against funds given by IMF to Pakistan jolted the whole nation but his recent assurance to Islamabad came as a big relief for a country in currency crisis.

Those comments rattled Islamabad, which is facing a currency crisis and may have no option but to turn again to the IMF for a rescue if staunch allies China and Saudi Arabia do not offer more loans to prop up its foreign currency reserves.

Chaudhry alleges that relations between the United States and Pakistan were “broken” before Pompeo’s trip to Islamabad but the visit had “set many things straight” and reinvigorated ties.

“He assured Pakistan that … if Pakistan opted to go to IMF for any financial help, the USA will not oppose it,” Chaudhry said in the capital, Islamabad.

Responding to request for comment on Chaudhry’s remarks, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department said Washington wanted to see “a prosperous Pakistan that contributes positively toward regional stability and security.”

The spokesman added: “We understand that Pakistan has not requested assistance from the IMF. If they do request assistance, as we do in all cases in evaluating any loan program, we will examine closely all aspects.”

The new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who took office in August, is trying to avert a currency crisis caused by a shortage of dollars in an economy hit by a ballooning current account deficit and dwindling foreign currency reserves.

Pakistani officials say they are discussing taking drastic measures to avert seeking a bailout from the IMF, which has come to Pakistan’s rescue 14 times since 1980, including most recently in 2013.

Pakistan’s relations with the United States have soured in recent years over the war in Afghanistan and Islamabad’s alleged support for Islamist militants. They reached a new low when President Donald Trump in January accused Pakistan of lies and deceit by playing a double game on fighting terrorism.

Islamabad denies aiding insurgents in Afghanistan and lashed out against Trump’s remarks, which were followed up by Washington suspending U.S. military aid.

At Washington’s urging, a group of Western countries in February convinced a global body to put Pakistan on a terrorism financing watch list, a move that triggered concerns the United States may also seek to block Islamabad in other forums.

In July, Pompeo said there was “no rationale” for the IMF to bail out Pakistan if Islamabad uses the IMF money to pay off Chinese loans, echoing concerns by other U.S. officials that China is saddling many emerging-market countries with too much debt. Beijing staunchly denies such claims.

But during last week’s visit, Pompeo said he was hopeful of “a reset of relations” long strained over the war in Afghanistan.

Patanjali to Venture into Dairy Products; Announced Milk to be Rs.2 Cheaper

Yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali has tied up with around 56,000 retailers and vendors to supply milk across Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune and Rajasthan. Announcing its entry into dairy products like cow milk, curd, buttermilk and cheese, Baba Ramdev said that Patanjali milk will be 2 Rs cheaper than other brands.

The company said that it will begin selling dairy products in Tetra pack and will launch flavoured milk too. The milk, according to Patanjali, will be sold for Rs 40 per litre as opposed to Rs 42 a litre sold in the market at the moment.

The company’s statement claimed to have produced 4 lakh litres of cow milk on the very first day of its operation.

Apart from dairy products, the company has also made a foray into frozen vegetables like peas, sweet corn, mixed vegetables and french fries, urea free cattle feed, packaged drinking water Divya Jal and solar panel production.

According to Patanjali, the frozen vegetables will be priced at half the cost of its competition while the packaged drinking water will be available in pack size of 250 ml, 500 ml, 1 litre, 2 litres, 5 litres and 20 litres. The company has not yet disclosed the price of its products though.

Government Announced Incentives for Ethanol Production

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced incentives for ethanol production. The cabinet committee on Economic Affairs has decided to offer a higher rate to those who produce 100 per cent ethanol from sugarcane, without producing any sugar.

In order to curtail the mounting surplus of sugar, the cabinet has announced “three Progressive” rates for Ethanol.

For ethanol derived from B heavy or B grade molasses, the price has been raised from Rs 47.49 to Rs 52.43 for every litre. The ex-mill price for ethanol produced from 100 per cent sugarcane juice, so that no sugar is produced from it, is Rs. 59.19 per litre.

However, ethanol produced from C heavy or C grade molasses will be priced at Rs 43.46 per litre compared to Rs 43.70 earlier.

The rates will be effective for the 2018- 2019 sugar season and ethanol supply year from December 1, 2018, to November 30, 2019. In a statement released later the government said that the OMCs are advised to “prioritise ethanol from 1) 100 per cent sugarcane juice, 2) B heavy molasses / partial sugarcane juice, 3) C heavy molasses and 4) Damaged Food grains/other sources, in that order.” Apart from reducing excess sugar in the country and increasing liquidity with the sugar mills for settling cane farmer’s dues the incentives will also help in making higher ethanol available for Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme, the statement said.

Former India Captain Sardar Singh decided to Retire from International Games

Sardar Singh who was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna last year is likely to announce his retirement from internationals later this week after a disappointing performance at Asian Games 2018.

India bagged third position in the Asians after losing the semifinal to Malaysia which provoked harsh criticism from the officials targeted towards Singh, because of his being the senior most player in the team.

This constant questioning of Singh’s capabilities might have prompted his decision to quit Internationals.

Though nothing has been disclosed yet by Singh in this front but the National coach Harendra Singh confirmed he had spoken to Sardar about the decision.

Showing his disappointment over Singh’s decision, Harendra Singh said that he has been a legend of the game both at national and international level.

Sardar had been dropped for the Commonwealth Games earlier this year with Hockey India favouring youngsters but fought his way back into the side for the Champions Trophy, where India won a second successive silver, and the Asian Games.

With India hosting the World Cup at the end of this year and the road ahead to Tokyo Olympics long and winded with a complex qualification process, Sardar’s experience would have been handy for the team. As such, Indian hockey will now have to do without it.

Apple’s Launched Its Most Expensive Phones; A New Strategy to Seize the Market

Apple has launched the most expensive phones as part of a strategic approach towards the global market, at its annual fall product event, hosted at its headquarters in Cupertino, California on Wednesday. The record-setting price of the largest phone – starting at $1,099 (roughly Rs. 80,000).

The newest smartphones are called the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR. All have the same basic design as last year’s iPhone X, with fronts that are nearly all-screen – with the exception of a notch cut out from the top to house a front-facing camera – and lack a home button.

The iPhone XS Max, which has a 6.5-inch display, is now Apple’s priciest phone. The most expensive model will cost $1,449 (roughly Rs. 1.05 lakhs) – roughly $500 more than a MacBook Air laptop

The iPhone XS will be the same price ($999) and size as its predecessor, sporting a 5.8-inch screen.

Apple is also releasing the $749 iPhone XR, for those who balk at a four-digit price tag. The phone looks similar to the iPhone X, but it has a 6.1-inch display and uses a different type of screen that is less expensive for Apple to produce.

Most of the major updates to the smartphones were technical and incremental. These new phones will have exciting graphic display. It also has improved the cameras in the new phones and added a feature that allows people to refocus their pictures after they take them. Samsung has offered a similar feature on two of its Note devices.

Apple has a key challenge in the next 18 to 24 months: Apple has to build a more frequent, deeper, emotion-rich, digital lifestyle relationship with consumers.

The company has also been putting more investment into its software and services, such as the App Store and a growing entertainment streaming business. Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple has said he wants to double the revenue of its services business by 2020.

PM Modi to Hold an Economic Review to Check Fall in Indian Rupee

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may call for a review meeting this weekend to detect ways to stop the spiraling fall in the value of Indian rupee against US dollar. The Indian currency hit a fresh record low of 72.91 against the dollar on Wednesday, only to recover to Rs 72.35. The currency has fallen over 13 per cent against the dollar since January.

Stock Market saw an outflow of Rs 1,454 crore on Tuesday alone which is the highest daily outflow in over three months due to the sporadic fall in value of money. Concurrently the fall has made import of crude oil extremely expensive.

Soaring market conditions, free fall of currency, increasing diesel and petrol prices may take toll on Modi government in 2019 elections. Apparently the Modi government has refused to reduce excise duty on petrol and diesel which can a detrimental step for his party according to some Experts.

The Centre currently levies a total excise duty of Rs 19.48 per litre of petrol and Rs 15.33 per litre on diesel. VAT varies amongst states.

Meanwhile, the government may infuse fresh liquidity into the system and also issue NRI bonds to raise $30 billion. The RBI, which has not intervened to prevent the rupee fall so far, could also raise policy rates in its October meeting.

The rupee is the latest currency to be dragged down by fears that an escalating trade war could hurt global growth and severely affect Asian economies. The spillover from the emerging-market turmoil in the Argentina peso and Turkish lira is largely weighing on Asia currencies.

Vijay Mallya Blames Media For ‘Misrepresenting’ the Facts; Denied Meeting with Arun Jaitley

Vijay Mallya’s claim to have met Finance Minister before leaving the country, stirred a political storm. The Opposition parties blamed BJP for colluding with the corrupt businessman and asked for an explanation.

In a Facebook post, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said Mr. Mallya’s “statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth”.

“Since 2014, I have never given him (Vijay Mallya) any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise,” the post read.

The minister went on to describe the occasion where Mr Mallya met him in the Parliament corridor and “misused his privilege as a Rajya Sabha Member”.

Seeing the political rift in India, the Tycoon backtracked and denied any meeting with the minister, essentially confirming Minister’s version to be true. Mallya blamed media for misrepresenting facts.

Mallya who is wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering escaped India in 2014.

The Congress chief Rahul Gandhi appealed for an independent probe into the matter considering the allegations by Mallya as “extremely serious”. He asserted that Arun Jaitley should step down his post while the probe is underway.

Government’s Ban on 328 FDC Drugs likely to Affect Market Size of 2,000-2,500 crores

On Wednesday, 328 Fixed Combination Drugs (FDC) are banned by the Government in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The ban on FDC drugs is expected to affect around 6000 brands of Indian Pharmaceutical Industry leading to an estimated jolt to a market size of 2000 to 2500 crores.

FDCs medicines are the combination of two or more drugs, which according to The Drugs Technical Advisory Board do not support any therapeutic justification for the ingredients; concluding them as harmful for human body.

The board recommended that it is necessary to prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of these FDCs under section 26A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 in the larger public interest.

Based on these recommendations, the government banned the FDCs in a gazette notification dated September 7, 2018.

These FDCs include painkiller Saridon, skin cream Panderm, combination diabetes drug Gluconorm PG, antibiotic Lupidiclox and antibacterial Taxim AZ.

On March 10, 2016, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, or CDSCO as it commonly known, issued a notification prohibiting the manufacture, sale and distribution of 344 Fixed Dose Combinations of drugs. It later added five more FDCs.

In December 2016, the Delhi High Court set aside the orders banning the FDCs. Later, this judgement was appealed against by the central government and the Supreme Court overruled the High Court’s ruling, concluding that Section 26A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, does not require the Central government to consult the advisory board. It then ordered the Drugs Technical Advisory Board to examine these drugs and submit a report to the Centre.