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The Indian economy is growing strongly and remains a bright spot in the global landscape despite temporary setback due to demonetisation, a senior IMF official has said.


In its annual country report on India, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday said growth is expected at 6.6 percent in this fiscal year and at 7.2 percent in the following year.


"The Indian economy is growing strongly and remains a bright spot in the global landscape," the IMF mission chief for India, Paul Cashin said.


Cashin said the halving of global oil prices that began in late 2014 boosted economic activity in India, further improved the external current account and fiscal positions, and helped lower inflation.


In addition, continued fiscal consolidation, by reducing government deficits and debt accumulation, and an anti-inflationary monetary policy stance have helped cement macroeconomic stability, he added.


Noting that the government has made significant progress on important economic reforms, which will support strong and sustainable growth going forward, Cashin said the upcoming implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) will help raise India's medium-term growth to above 8 percent.


GST will enhance the efficiency of production and movement of goods and services across Indian states, he said.


However, there is little scope for complacency.


"A key concern for us is the health of the banking system, which is still dealing with a large amount of bad loans, and also heightened corporate vulnerabilities in several key sectors of the economy," he said.


Responding to a question on demonetisation, he said the strong shortage of cash has disrupted economic activities.


However, he said the Indian Government appears to have that taken measures to alleviate payment disruptions, such as temporarily allowing use of old banknotes for purchases of fuel and agricultural inputs, have helped mitigate the negative impact.


"So we expect the slowdown to be limited and relatively short-lived and the financial system to come through unscathed. Of course, potential loan repayment risks should be monitored carefully, particularly given an already elevated level of non-performing loans," Cashin said.


Source:Money Control

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed the agreements ahead of ministerial meetings in Sydney on Thursday.


Both leaders said they were keen for their countries to expand their business and trade ties.


Mr Turnbull said the agreement on technological innovation and research would provide a framework for Australian scientists and businesses to create industries of the future with the help of Israel's well-established hi-tech community.


The air services agreement, which compliments a separate deal signed between Qantas and Israeli carrier El Al, would help foster business ties by making travel easier.


"There are a number of Australian businessmen and women who are investing in innovative technology-based industries between Israel and Australia," Mr Turnbull said at the start of the ministerial meetings, which included Treasurer Scott Morrison, Defence Minister Marise Payne, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.


"We want to deepen that.


"The air services agreement is part of that. There's no substitute for people getting together.


"We should be doing a lot more together. We shouldn't allow the tyranny of distance in the 21st century (to prevent that).


"There's so much scope for co-operation."


Two-way trade between Israel and Australia is worth about $1.2 billion each year.


Mr Netanyahu said he would like to see that double or tripled, and he believed Australia could act as a gateway for Israeli businesses wanting to expand into Asia.


"If I can schlep here, they can too," he told the ministerial roundtable meeting.


"I can testify it ain't bad."


Mr Netanyahu said it was vital countries like Israel and Australia co-operated to develop technology to "fight the barbarians" in the Middle East.Countries like Israel and Australia needed to "repel danger and seize opportunities", he said.


"We are working ... with other like-minded states to prevent terrorist attacks.


"This half century will be dominated by progress and freedom, not renegade barbarism."


In a joint statement the leaders said they were concerned about security challenges in the Middle East and emphasised the need for strengthening international co-operation to tackle terrorism.


In a joint statement, both Mr Turnbull and Mr Netanyahu expressed concern about recent ballistic missile tests by Iran and called on the country to implement its obligations under a UN Security Council resolution.


The leaders were also worried about Iran's support for Islamist militant group Hezbollah.


The comments on Iran come after Australia recently restored relations between Canberra and Tehran and began to explore trade opportunities with each other.


Security and terrorism as well as ways Australia and Israel could work together on cyber security have featured heavily in talks between the two leaders during the past two days.


The prime ministers also committed to explore opportunities for future collaboration in the areas of agriculture, water, energy and environmental protection.


Source:Aus News

Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecoms network operator, on Thursday said it would buy Telenor (India) Communications Pvt Ltd, in a deal that will bolster Airtel’s footprint with additional spectrum in the 1800 MHz band


Airtel will buy Telenor’s India operations in seven circles - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West) and Assam, the compan


In a separate statement, Telenor said that the transaction will not trigger any impairment. As of fourth quarter 2016, the remaining value of tangible and intangible assets in Telenor India amounted to NOK 0.3 billion. The transaction is expected to close within 12 months,” Telenor said


Airtel is India’s largest wireless operator with over 269 million subscribers and a revenue market share of over 33 per cent. As the new owner, Airtel will take over Telenor India’s spectrum, licenses and operations, including its employees and customer base of 44 million


“The proposed acquisition will include transfer of all of Telenor India’s assets and customers, further augmenting Airtel’s overall customer base and network. It will also enable Airtel to further bolster its strong spectrum footprint in these seven circles, with the addition of 43.4 MHz spectrum in the 1,800 MHz band,” Airtel said


Telenor India’s operations and services will continue as normal until the completion of the transaction


“On completion, the proposed acquisition will undergo seamless integration, both on the customer as well as the network side, and further strengthen our market position in several key circles. The customers of Telenor India will now be able to enjoy ...a range of Airtel’s world-class products and services,” Gopal Vittal, Managing Director and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said


The acquisition of additional spectrum through this transaction, which made an attractive business proposition, has further enhanced Airtel’s spectrum portfolio, Vitthal said


“Finding a long term solution to our India business has been a priority for us, and we are pleased with our agreement with Airtel. The decision to exit India has not been taken lightly. After thorough consideration, it is our view that the significant investments needed to secure Telenor India’s future business on a standalone basis will not give an acceptable level of return,” Sigve Brekke, chief executive officer of Telenor Group, said


With effect from the first quarter of 2017, Telenor India will be treated as an asset held for sale and discontinued operations in Telenor Group’s financial reporting


Telenor announced its entry into India in 2008. In 2016, Telenor India’s revenues were NOK 6.0 billion and the operating cash flow was NOK -0.4 billion.



Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella reaffirmed the company's commitment to India by unveiling a slew of India focused product rollouts, including a lighter version of Skype, on Wednesday in Mumbai


Skype Lite, a lighter version of the video and voice calling software, has been especially designed for use in India's patchy telecom networks. With just a 13 MB footprint, the app allows communication and collaboration over low bandwidth networks including 2G connections and has features specifically designed for India including managing SMS by removing clutter, mobile data and WiFi usage monitoring, India-focussed Skype bots and power saving functionality


The app will also have Aadhaar based verification feature built-in, with Microsoft partnering with India stack for this feature. “Aadhaar gives India the opportunity to own control over data. It also makes us as an MNC to operate in India responsibly by making sure that our services support the India stack and that’s what we are doing with Skype,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft, who is on the last leg of his three day visit to India. The integration of Aadhaar to the Android app will be complete by June 2017 and will help users verify unknown callers for transactions like job interviews, sale of good and property transactions


“We see job interviews as being the core use case for Skype. We hope to further expand that to government and technology consumer scenarios. I could imagine Skype Lite being used for application of new licences, permits or a number of different government processes,” Eugene Ho, Director of Products at Skype told ET. Skype Lite will be available in 7 local languages and English


Project Sangam is another India-first rollout that the company announced. A joint initiative from Microsoft and LinkedIn, Project Sangam allow users to register using Aadhaar to register on LinkedIn and enroll for skill development programs. Once the skills training programs are completed, their LinkedIn profiles will be updated and shortlisted for potential employers


“Linkedin has a global white collar network globally, and we are now establishing the same at lower levels through Project Sangam. We are backing it up with Aadhaar so that verification of profiles can be done and at the same time, ensure that governments have all the capabilities to understand who’s getting trained and who’s not,” Anil Bhansali, MD – R&D at Microsoft India told ET


Microsoft has also joined hands with India’s largest lender State Bank of India to bring on board the bank on its Office 365 cloud platform. “It is phenomenal to see the digital transformation where some of the largest banks are now deciding that they want to be able to take advantage of what the cloud gives them so that they can be more of a technology company,” said Nadella. The partnership with SBI follows Microsoft’s strategic cloud partnership with Flipkart which will see the Indian ecommerce giant adopt Microsoft Azure as its exclusive public cloud computing platform


In keeping with the Indian government’s ambition of enabling smart cities, Microsoft is also looking to leverage its cloud technologies to work with the Maharashtra government on the ‘Smart Villages’ program. With the pilot having begun in the village of Harisal in Maharashtra, Nadella outlined that Microsoft’s vision was to take the program to over 100 villages in the state.



The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today approved the enhancement of capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW of the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects. The enhanced capacity would ensure setting up of at least 50 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW and above in various parts of the country. Smaller parks in Himalayan and other hilly States where contiguous land may be difficult to acquire in view of the difficult terrain, will also be considered under the scheme. The capacity of the solar park scheme has been enhanced after considering the demand for additional solar parks from the States.


The Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects will be set up by 2019-20 with Central Government financial support of Rs.8100 crore. The total capacity when operational will generate 64 billion units of electricity per year which will lead to abatement of around 55 million tonnes of CO2 per year over its life cycle.


It would also contribute to long term energy security of the country and promote ecologically sustainable growth by reduction in carbon emissions and carbon footprint, as well as generate large direct & indirect employment opportunities in solar and allied industries like glass, metals, heavy industrial equipment etc. The solar parks will also provide productive use of abundant uncultivable lands which in turn facilitate development of the surrounding areas


All the States and UTs are eligible for benefits under the scheme. The State Government will first nominate the Solar Power Park Developer (SPPD) and also identify the land for the proposed solar park. It will then send a proposal to MNRE for approval along with the name of the SPPD. The SPPD will then be sanctioned a grant of upto Rs.25 Lakh for preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Solar Park. Thereafter, Central Financial Assistance (CFA) of up to Rs. 20 lakhs/MW or 30 percent of the project cost including Grid-connectivity cost, whichever is lower, will be released as per the milestones prescribed in the scheme. Solar Energy Corporation India (SECI) will administer the scheme under the direction of MNRE. The approved grant will be released by SECI


The solar parks will be developed in collaboration with State Governments/UTs. The State Governments/UTs are required to select the SPPD for developing and maintaining the solar parks


Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is already implementing a scheme for development of at least 25 solar parks with an aggregate capacity of 20,000 MW, which was launched in December 2014. As on date, 34 solar parks of aggregate capacity 20,000 MW have been approved which are at various stages of development.