Advertisement
Advertisement

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that Polish business looks for markets and business opportunities beyond Europe, India is a natural destination. He was addressing the Business Summit at the Ministry of Economic Development, Poland, today. The Prime Minister of Poland, Ms. Beata Szydło, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development and Finance, Mr. Jerzy Kwiecinski, the Minister of State for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Shri Giriraj Singh and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

 

The Vice President said that India’s 29 states now offer a climate of both cooperative and competitive federalism, with quantum improvements in investment conditions in different Indian states. The new policy initiatives taken by the Union government, such as Make in India, Skill India and Digital India schemes, present new business opportunities for Polish companies in areas such as defence, food processing, coal and mining, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology and renewable energy.

 

Following is the text of Vice President's address:

 

"I am delighted to have this opportunity to address this business summit, which is aimed at furthering economic cooperation between India and Poland. India sees Poland as an important emerging economic partner, not just in Europe but in the world. Poland’s transformation over the last two decades has been remarkable; the growth of its economy impressive. This change is visible all around us.

 

Today, Poland is India’s largest economic partner in Central Europe with bilateral trade that has grown to US $ 2.8 billion in 2016. I understand that this marked a growth of nearly 25% over the level of trade in the previous year. Investments are growing rapidly in both directions. This strong economic interaction between India and Poland is an indicator of the growing economic strengths of our countries. As Polish business looks for markets and business opportunities beyond Europe, India is a natural destination.

 

With a growth rate of over 7%, despite the general global downturn, India today is not just the fastest growing major economy in the world, it is also one of the most open and welcoming destination for investments and technologies. A vibrant democracy of 1.3 billion people with a young, skilled workforce, India offers an aspirational middle class market of over 400 million people. The constant reforms in fiscal and investment facilitation policies are transforming the economic scenario in India. A landmark Goods and Services Tax reform, for instance, is aimed at making India a unified market, with all 29 states offering an identical and predictable tax environment. Increasing transparency and a liberalised investment climate now allows the smooth flow of FDI in sectors like defence, railways, civil aviation and pharmaceuticals. We have seen a strong global confidence in the India story, with a surge in Foreign Direct Investments, which reached over US $ 50 billion in 2016.

 

India’s 29 states now offer a climate of both cooperative and competitive federalism, with quantum improvements in investment conditions in different Indian states. Some Polish regions are already availing of the business opportunities that Indian states offer. The new policy initiatives taken by the Union government, such as Make in India, Skill India and Digital India schemes,  present new business opportunities for Polish companies in areas such as defence, food processing, coal and mining, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology and renewable energy.

 

Cooperation in the education sector can become an important area of cooperation for us. India’s young are eager to seek educational opportunities that Poland offers. We already have some 2500 Indian students in Poland. These students add to the resources of Poland’s distinguished universities and will act as bridgeheads for our future engagements.

 

I understand that the delegation led by the Deputy Prime Minister, His Excellency Prof. Piotr Glinski that visited India in January for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, had useful interactions with our political leadership and our business community. We have identified possible opportunities in sectors like food processing, mining, aerospace and defence. I am sure that the genius of our businessmen, on both sides, with their sense of adventure and innovation, will result in a many more mutually beneficial ventures. I wish this business summit all success.

 

Thank You."

***

KSD/BK

 

 

Read more: India is a natural destination for markets and...

Rs 50,000 Crore to be invested for revival of closed fertilizer plants; Setting up of gas pipeline network to connect Eastern India to National Gas Grid

 

Investments in Eastern India to give fillip to Second Green Revolution in the Region

 

Talcher Fertilizer Plant to be revived with an investment of Rs 8,000 Cr

 

Rs 20,000 Cr investment for revival of Fertilizer Plants in Gorakhpur; Barauni & Sindri

 

Rs 13,000 Cr investment for 2650 KM Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga Pipeline Project

 

LNG terminal at Dhamra with an investment of Rs 6,000 Cr

 

Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan attended a joint meeting in the Chairmanship of Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar on revival plans of closed fertilizers plants under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers today. The meeting was also attended by Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal and Shri, MoS for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Chemical & Fertilizer, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya.

 

Addressing the media during a press conference, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan emphasized on Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision for fast paced development of Eastern India which is a prerequisite for the overall development of India. He said that for fast pace development in Eastern India, massive infrastructure investment in an agri focused Eastern India will give a fillip to the Second Green Revolution in the region. Shri Pradhan said that massive investment to the tune of Rs 50,000 Crore is being undertaken for revival of closed fertilizer plants and setting up of gas pipeline network to connect Eastern India to the National Gas Grid.

 

Petroleum Minister informed that the key components of this infrastructure investment will be revival of Fertilizer Plants at Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Barauni (Bihar) and Sindri (Jharkhand), and Talcher (Odisha); Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga pipeline of 2650 Km and setting up of LNG terminal at Dhamra (Odisha).

 

Shri Pradhan elaborated that Rs 20,000 Cr would be invested to revive Fertilizer Plants at Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Barauni (Bihar) and Sindri (Jharkhand).

 

Petroleum Minister said that the Talcher Fertilizer Plant in Odisha is being revived with an investment of Rs 8000 Cr by a consortium comprising FCI, GAIL, Rashtriya Chemical and Fertilizer Limited and Coal India Limited. This would be the first time a Fertilizer plant in India will be operated based on Coal Gasification technology.  

 

Production from these four major Fertilizer plants will ensure enhanced domestic fertilizer production and availability which will give an impetus to the vital agricultural sector there by aiding the Second Green Revolution. The ground work for these Plants is scheduled to commence in FY 2017-18.

 

Shri Pradhan informed that 2,650 km Jagdishpur-Haldia & Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline (JHBDPL) Project, popularly known as ‘Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga’, at a total investment of about Rs. 13,000 Crore is being implemented by GAIL (India) Ltd. The Pipeline passes through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. Construction work of this Pipeline Project in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar has started.

 

            An LNG terminal is also being set up at Dhamra in Odisha with an investment of Rs 6,000 Crore, Shri Pradhan added.  

*****

RG

Read more: Joint Review Meeting held for revival of closed...

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that the countries that have invested in educating their populations, built strong consumer economies, and have democratic institutions that can deal with social change will benefit. He was delivering the Lecture at the Yerevan State University, Yerevan, Armenia today. The Minister of Education and Science, Armenia, Mr. Levon Mkrtchyan, the Vice-Rector of Yerevan State University, Mr. Gegham Gevorgyan and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Vice President said that some of the newer technologies that would impact on human progress relate to energy, cyber technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum mechanics, gene-editing and space exploration. All of these have geopolitical implications in the future, he added.

In recognition of his outstanding public and political achievements and his contribution to development of India-Armenia relations, the Vice President was awarded with a degree of Honorary Doctor of the Yerevan State University.

Following is the text of Vice President's Lecture:

" I am happy to be in this enchanting city and grateful to the Rector and the faculty of the Yerevan State University for inviting me today.
I have come to a land some distance from India but not far from the individual and collective memory of Indians. I myself was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), and spent many years in the city. Amongst its historic features are Armenian churches and other signs of its Armenian inhabitants.   Father Michael Chamich’s History of Armenia was translated and published in Calcutta in 1827. More recently, historians like Mesrovb Jacob Seth and George Bournoutian have recorded the Armenian contribution in India to trade and commerce as to various cultural and charitable activities.

Less known but nevertheless a part of spiritual history of my land is the personality of Armenian descent known in medieval chronicles as Sarmad, a mystic of who travelled from somewhere in this region to India, led an unconventional life and was executed for blasphemy in 1660 because he espoused a creed that distinguished between states of ‘negation and affirmation’. One of the leaders of our freedom movement and a close aide of Mahatma Gandhi, Abul Kalam Azad, was deeply influenced by Sarmad’s free thinking and humanitarianism.

It is thus evident that well before modern times; the flow of people, trade and ideas was not an unusual occurrence. My purpose today, however, is to talk about the future, not the past.

The older generation in this audience knows and the younger ones have been told that the 20th century was a period of organized insanity characterized by metamyths and megadeaths. These led an eminent historian to conclude that ‘our world risks both explosion and implosion;’ hence ‘it must change’.

The expectation that the changes in the last decade of the century would bring forth a more harmonious world in which international cooperation in solving international problems would be addressed by peaceful means in conformity with the principles of justice and international law did not materialize. On the contrary, older patterns of thought and practice persisted and, aided by newer technologies, resulted in explosions as well as implosions in different parts of our world. The promise of globalization also showed its limitations; the financial crisis of 2008 demonstrated, in the words of one analyst, a ‘systemic vulnerability to unregulated greed.’ Both, in the final analysis, exhibited failures of governance at national and global levels.

Nor was the crisis limited to matters strategic and financial. Climatic catastrophes and pandemics demonstrated the vulnerability of human existence to forces beyond its control despite the immensity of scientific advances.

The conclusion is unavoidable that individuals, societies, and the global community as a collective, need to re-think the parameters of their future. In this endeavour, the first step necessarily is to identify the likely challenges; the next is to assess the impact that scientific and technological advancement would have in resolving them; and the third would be to assess their impact on our lives and patterns of behavior. Our focus has to be on the possible and the probable; however, the possibility cannot be excluded of delving into the preferable and the undesirable.

I hasten to add that there is nothing unique about such speculative ventures. All through recorded history, the human mind has sought to visualize both utopias and doomsday scenarios. I am nevertheless emboldened to venture down this path today in the presence of a youthful audience eager to dream of a better world.      
                                                   
A general categorization of challenges to our world of today is premised on a normal desire to live, live well, live in peace, live without human or natural threats. The devil, as always, is in details. The right to live, universally conceded as a basic human right, implies the right to breathe, to food and water, to health. These, together, necessitate sustainable development and the need to address the totality of challenges of climate change. Alongside are the problems of population, disease, energy and resources.

Supplementary to these, but inseparable from them, are all the requirements that humankind, by virtue of being both social and political creatures, need for living in society, be it local, national or global and the growing realization that these challenges transcend national boundaries and can only be addressed through global cooperation in which burden sharing is equitable. Consequently, the old doctrines and dogmas of national decision-making, and state sovereignty stand abridged in good measure.

These emerging imperatives have two-fold implications: technological and socio-political.

Today, more than ever before, there is a general realization in all societies that solutions have to be sought through science and technology. The prospects are fascinating in some respects, disturbing in others.

Some of the newer technologies that would impact on human progress relate to energy, cyber technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum mechanics, gene-editing and space exploration. All of these have geopolitical implications in the future.

Allow me to dilate on the implications of some of these.

Human civilization, as it has developed, is energy-centric and newer technologies would increase our demands of energy. The 20th century was the century of hydrocarbons. Towards the end of the century it was realized that hydrocarbon resources were finite and this had political implications in terms of global tussles.

The big shock to the energy industry came with ‘fracking’, a new set of techniques and technologies for extracting more hydrocarbons from the ground. Though there are concerns about environmental damage, these increased the outputs of oil and gas, caused the usurpation of old-line coal-fired power plants, and dramatically reduced dependence of some countries on foreign oil. 

Scientists also came forth with other sources, principally nuclear. It has its benefits and challenges.
The demand for clean energy is growing. Solar and wind are now advancing on an exponential curves. Every two years, for example, solar installation rates are doubling, and photovoltaic-module costs are falling by about 20 percent. Even without the subsidies that governments are phasing out, present costs of solar installations will, by 2022, halve, reducing returns on investments, to less than four years. By 2030, solar power will be able to provide 100 percent of today’s energy needs; by 2035, it will seem almost free — just as cell-phone calls are today.
A tantalizing prospect emerged when men of science looked beyond the planet Earth. Many years ago Soviet astronomer Nokolai Kardashev propounded the theory of stages of civilization in terms of sources of energy and categorized the present, based on fossil sources, as sub-zero type, to be followed by Type I that would harness power of an entire planet, Type II from a star and Type III from a galaxy.   
As futurist Ray Kurzweil says, when an exponential technology is at one percent, you are halfway to 100 percent, and that is where solar and wind energies are now. Another surge of growth would spell the imminent extinction of the fossil-fuel industry, and with it the geo-strategic significance that hydrocarbon rich states have enjoyed. This will have a cascading impact on the regional security architectures in many parts of the world as well as pan-global ramifications.
Cyber technology has overwhelmed us and its impact on every level of human organization is evident. It is not threatening in itself but most societies are already beginning to cope with threats emanating from it. The very benefits of its use in social, financial, industrial and military sectors have, as one strategic thinker has observed, ‘revolutionized vulnerabilities.’ 

Robotics and digital manufacturing are no longer on distant horizon and have implications for countries and economies. The outsourced world manufacturing to Asia, which fuelled the economic revival in Asia and created massive demands for energy and other material resources, will likely diminish as robotic factories and other disruptive manufacturing techniques like 3-D printing become cheaper and widely available.  Foxconn has already announced that it would replace most of its workers with robots. A newer generation of robots such as ABB’s Yumi and Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer are dexterous enough to thread a needle and cost as much as a car does. Robots are also uniformly productive irrespective of geography. As manufacturing centres will shift closer to consumption centres, the geostrategic significance of trade routes and demand for transportation will also diminish.

These changes can create long term downward wage pressure on the present day manufacturing led economies.  It will also drive down commodity and energy prices, and could result in destabilization of some economies. This can have a cascading effect, as strong, global deflationary force will impact all economies. Some governments may attempt to impose reactionary Protectionism. They may increase human wages which in the end may just increase the rate at which cheaper machines permanently replace human workers.

Technological developments will have a deep impact on the socio-economic structure of society. Greater automation can free a larger number of people from the drudgery of repetitive tasks, providing more leisure. Introduction of measures like universal basic income and taxation of machines may demand a very different fiscal mechanism from that what we have today. On a positive note, greater leisure time can open the possibility of a larger number of people taking to creative pursuits, searching for new knowledge and to the deepening of our understanding of the universe. On the other hand, more leisure can also lead to greater hedonism and pursuit of more selfish goals. To ensure that humanity treads the path of positive, we may require a universal set of values and belief system.
The geopolitical implications of these changes are far reaching. The US economy will reinvent itself just as does every 30-40 years; it is, after all, leading the technology boom. Yet, others are not far behind. The Economist magazine indicated last month that in the field of quantum computing and quantum cryptography, the list of patent pending applications is headed by China, not the United Sates. Economic historians have also drawn attention to the fact that in the span of world history, the distinction between industrialized and developing countries, or rich and poor countries, is relatively recent. It is not a constant and has been changing in recent decades.  
Technology and its applications is one aspect of the matter; the human response to it is another. This galloping new world has already demonstrated that traditional frontiers of thought and action are no longer sacrosanct. At the same time, it is evident that the impact of new techniques and technologies would not be uniform in all societies since they are at different levels of development and do not have equal capacities of absorption.

How then do these societies and their state structures respond to them?

It is evident that countries that have invested in educating their populations, built strong consumer economies, and have democratic institutions that can deal with social change will benefit — because their people will have had their basic needs met and can figure out how to take advantage of the advances in technology.

At the same time, domestic correctives would be most productive if they are accompanied by a genuinely reformed world that is global, structural and juridical, an order that transcends the perspective and requirements of any one region or nation. Only then would actions of countries be harmonized in the attainment of common ends.

It is a distant horizon towards which we must continue to walk. As young people, you have the will and capacity to do so, for your own good and for humanity at large.

Thank You."


***


KSD/BK

Read more: Countries that invest in education, build strong...

​FORTUM CORPORATION ONLINE NEWS 3 April 2017

Fortum has commissioned a 70-MW solar plant at Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan, India. The solar plant is Fortum's third and so far biggest commissioned solar energy project.

Fortum won a reverse auction for the project in January 2016 and the building of the solar plant was conducted on schedule. The power plant will operate based on a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), with a fixed tariff for 25 years. The Power Purchase Agreement has been made with National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC), India's largest power utility.

Fortum currently has an 85-MW solar capacity in India, with three solar power plants in the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradhesh. Fortum is currently building a 100-MW solar power plant in Karnataka, India. The 100-MW solar power plant also will get a fixed tariff for 25 years and is expected to be commissioned during the first half of 2017.

Fortum is targeting a gigawatt-scale solar and wind portfolio as part of securing its longer-term competitiveness. Fortum seeks to allocate its planned growth capital in the range of EUR 200–400 million in solar projects in India.

Fortum Corporation
Group Communications

Further information:
Tero Era, Head of Communications in Solar, Wind and New Ventures, +358 50 541 6337

Fortum
Fortum is a leading clean-energy company that provides its customers with electricity, heating and cooling as well as smart solutions to improve resource efficiency. We want to engage our customers and society to join the change for a cleaner world. We employ some 8,000 professionals in the Nordic and Baltic countries, Russia, Poland and India, and 62% of our electricity generation is CO2 free. In 2016, our sales were EUR 3.6 billion. Fortum's share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki. www.fortum.com

Read more: Fortum has commissioned a 70-MW solar project in...

The World Bank Board today approved US$100 million to help India increase its power generation capacity through cleaner, renewable energy sources. The Shared Infrastructure for Solar Parks Project will establish large scale solar parks in the country and support the Government of India’s plans to install 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power out of a total renewable-energy target of 175 GW by 2022.

The project will finance the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA), to provide sub-loans to select states to invest in various solar parks that are included in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) Solar Park Scheme.

The first two solar parks to be supported under the project are in the Rewa and Mandsaur districts of Madhya Pradesh, with targeted installed capacities of 750 MW and 250 MW, respectively. In addition, other states where potential solar parks could be supported under this project are in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Haryana.

IREDA will utilize the funding under this project to develop the common infrastructure such as power pooling substations, intra-park transmission infrastructure and provide access to roads, water supply and drainage, among others. While some states intend to provide a full range of infrastructure services to the selected private or public sector developers, others plan to provide only pooling stations to facilitate internal evacuation. This, in turn, is expected to facilitate solar power investment by the selected developers in support of the Government of India’s efforts to increase the share of electricity that comes from renewable energy.

With about 314 GW of installed capacity, India’s power system is among the largest in the world. Yet per capita electricity consumption is less than one-third of the global average. An estimated 300 million people are not connected to the national electrical grid. With a rapidly growing economy the need for reliable power is only going to grow. This project will facilitate increase in electricity generated in solar parks and add to India’s clean power generation capacity. 

“India’s goal of scaling up the provision of clean energy will require a vibrant market for solar investments,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “The challenge for this project is to go beyond investments; it is to deepen the solar market,” he added.

This project is one in a series of engagements requested by the Government of India from the World Bank in the solar power sector. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is actively supporting some of these selected solar parks in Madhya Pradesh and now in Odisha.

"IFC is pleased to participate in India’s ambitious solar power agenda to address the country's energy needs. To achieve this, large scale solar projects have to be bankable. By assisting the government in the REWA project, IFC has demonstrated that robust project design, innovative de-risking and contract structuring can help attract global investors to the project. With important outcomes of open access, large scale and grid parity, the REWA solar project paves the way for many more large-scale solar projects in the country," said Jun Zhang, IFC India Country Head.

 

To achieve India’s solar energy targets by 2022, another focus area would be in building the capacity of IREDA and the project implementing agencies of those states where the solar parks are to be located. Support under the project will be provided in human resource and business planning, project monitoring, procurement and contract management, environmental and social safeguards and financial management, among others.

 

“Through this engagement, it is expected that the investments will boost market confidence, enable demonstration of economies of scale in large-scale grid-connected solar generation, contribute towards pushing down equipment and transaction costs, increase efficiency while reducing unit costs of solar power, and catalyze further support from other investor groups to help India achieve its ambitious target of installing 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022,” said Surbhi Goyal, Senior Energy Specialist and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project.

 

The US$75 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 19 years. The US$23 million loan from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) has a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 40 years. The US$2 million is an interest-free CTF grant.  

FORTUM CORPORATION STOCK EXCHANGE RELEASE 4 APRIL 2017 AT 17.40 EEST

Fortum Corporation’s Annual General Meeting was held in Helsinki on 4 April
2017. The Annual General Meeting adopted the Financial Statements and the
Consolidated Financial Statements for the financial period 1 January-31
December 2016.

In accordance with the proposal of the Board of Directors, the Annual General
Meeting decided that a dividend of EUR 1.10 per share be paid based on the
adopted balance sheet for the financial year that ended on 31 December 2016,
which corresponds to EUR 977,203,749.50 in aggregate, and that the remaining
part of the distributable funds sheet shall be retained in the shareholders’
equity. The dividend will be paid to the shareholders who are recorded in the
company's shareholders' register, held by Euroclear Finland Ltd, on the record
date for dividend payment 6 April 2017. The dividend will be paid on 13 April
2017.

The Annual General Meeting discharged from liability the members of the Fortum
Board of Directors and the President and CEO for the year 2016.

Board of Directors, remunerations and auditor

The Annual General Meeting confirmed the remuneration for Board service to
remain unchanged for the upcoming term in accordance with the proposal by the
Shareholders' Nomination Board:

-- for the Chairman EUR 75,000 per year,
-- for the Deputy Chairman EUR 57,000 per year,
-- for a Member EUR 40,000 per year, and
-- for the Board member acting as the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee
EUR 57,000 per year if he or she is not at the same time acting as Chairman
or Deputy Chairman of the Board.

In addition, a fee of EUR 600 is paid for each Board meeting and Board
Committee meeting. For Board members living outside Finland in Europe, the
proposed fee for each meeting will be doubled, and for Board members living
outside Europe, the proposed fee for each meeting will be tripled. For Board
members living in Finland, the proposed fee for each Board and Board Committee
meeting will be doubled for meetings held outside Finland and tripled for
meetings held outside Europe. For Board and Committee meetings held as a
telephone conference, the proposed fee will be paid as single to all members.
No fee will be paid for decisions made without a separate meeting.

In accordance with the Shareholders’ Nomination Board’s proposal, the number of
members in the Board of Directors was confirmed to remain unchanged and to be
eight.

In accordance with the Shareholders' Nomination Board’s proposal, the Annual
General Meeting elected the following persons to the Board of Directors for a
term of office ending at the closing of the next Annual General Meeting: Ms
Sari Baldauf as Chairman, Mr Matti Lievonen as Deputy Chairman, and Mr
Heinz-Werner Binzel, Ms Eva Hamilton, Mr Kim Ignatius, Mr Tapio Kuula, Ms Anja
McAlister and Mr Veli-Matti Reinikkala as Members.

Further details of the members of the Board of Directors are available at the
company's website at www.fortum.com/governance.

The Annual General Meeting decided, in accordance with the proposal of the
Board of Directors, to pay to the auditor according to an invoice approved by
the company.

The Annual General Meeting decided, in accordance with the proposal of the
Board of Directors, to elect Deloitte & Touche Ltd, Authorised Public
Accountants, as the auditor. Deloitte & Touche Ltd has notified the company
that Authorised Public Accountant Ms Reeta Virolainen will act as the principal
auditor.

Repurchase and disposal of the company's own shares

The Annual General Meeting decided, in accordance with the proposal of the
Board of Directors, to authorise the Board of Directors to decide on the
repurchase of the company's own shares, and at the same time cancel the
repurchase authorisation resolved by the Annual General Meeting of 2016 as
follows:

-- The maximum number of own shares to be repurchased is 20,000,000 shares,
which corresponds to approximately 2.25 per cent of all the shares in the
company. Only the unrestricted equity of the company can be used to
repurchase own shares on the basis of the authorisation.
-- Own shares can be repurchased at a price formed in public trading on the
date of the repurchase or otherwise at a price formed on the market.
-- The Board of Directors will decide how own shares will be repurchased. Own
shares can be repurchased using, inter alia, derivatives. Own shares can be
repurchased otherwise than in proportion to the shareholdings of the
shareholders (directed repurchase).
-- Own shares can be repurchased to be used in connection with acquisitions,
investments or other business transactions, or to be retained or cancelled.
Own shares cannot be repurchased for the purposes of the company's
incentive and remuneration schemes.
-- The authorisation cancelled the authorisation resolved by the Annual
General Meeting of 2016 to decide on the repurchase of the company’s own
shares, and it will be effective until the next Annual General Meeting and
in any event no longer than for a period of 18 months.

In addition, the Annual General Meeting decided, in accordance with the
proposal of the Board of Directors, to authorise the Board of Directors to
decide on the disposal of the Company's own shares, and at the same time cancel
the disposal authorisation resolved by the Annual General Meeting of 2016 as
follows:

-- The number of shares to be disposed based on the authorisation shall not
exceed 20,000,000 shares, which corresponds to approximately 2.25 per cent
of all the shares in the company.
-- Own shares can be disposed in connection with acquisitions, investments or
other business transactions. The disposals cannot be made for the purposes
of the company's incentive and remuneration schemes.
-- The Board of Directors will decide on all the other conditions of the
disposals, including to whom, at what price and in which manner the
company's shares are disposed. The disposals may also be made in deviation
from the shareholders’ pre-emptive rights for a weighty financial reason.
-- The authorisation cancelled the authorisation resolved by the Annual
General Meeting of 2016 to decide on the disposal of the company’s own
shares, and it will be effective until the next Annual General Meeting and
in any even no longer than for a period of 18 months.

Minutes of the meeting

The minutes of the Annual General Meeting will be available on the company’s
website as from 18 April 2017 at the latest.

Decisions by the Board of Directors

At the meeting held after the Annual General Meeting, Fortum’s Board of
Directors elected, from among its members, to the Nomination and Remuneration
Committee Matti Lievonen as Chairman and Sari Baldauf, Eva Hamilton, and Tapio
Kuula as members.

Furthermore, the Board elected to the Audit and Risk Committee Kim Ignatius as
Chairman and Heinz-Werner Binzel, Anja Mc Alister and Veli-Matti Reinikkala as
members.

Fortum Corporation

Sophie Jolly, Vice President, Investor Relations and Financial Communications,
tel. +358 10 45 32552

Additional information:

Sirpa-Helena Sormunen, General Counsel, tel. +358 10 452 5350

Distribution:

Nasdaq Helsinki
Key media
www.fortum.com

Fortum
Fortum is a leading clean-energy company that provides its customers with
electricity, heating and cooling as well as smart solutions to improve resource
efficiency. We want to engage our customers and society to join the change for
a cleaner world. We employ some 8,000 professionals in the Nordic and Baltic
countries, Russia, Poland and India, and 62% of our electricity generation is
CO² free. In 2016, our sales were EUR 3.6 billion. Fortum's share is listed on
Nasdaq Helsinki. www.fortum.com

Read more: Decisions by Fortum Corporation's Annual General...

The Union Minister of Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs of India, Shri Arun Jaitley participated in the Plenary Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) in Washington D.C. yesterday. The Development Committee (DC) is the ministerial-level forum of the World Bank Group and the IMF for inter-governmental consensus building on development issues. The meeting comprised of discussion sessions on the ‘Forward Look’ exercise carried-out by the World Bank focusing on ‘A Vision for the World Bank Group in 2030 - Progress and Challenges’, Progress Report on the Shareholding Review and a paper on ‘A Stronger World Bank Group for All’.

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley called for renewing the commitment to reach a decision on Selective Capital Increase (SCI) and General Capital Increase (GCI) by Annual Meetings 2017 in line with the 2015 Lima roadmap.  Addressing the debate between a bigger bank and a better bank, the Finance Minister Shri Jaitley said that the bank unequivocally needs to do more on both to achieve its goals. The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley further expressed hope that the implementation of the new safeguards and procurement policies would be characterized by adoption of country systems, a shorter processing time for all clients and hands on implementation support in fragile and low capacity countries.

The Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley is currently on an official tour to Washington D.C., USA to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and other associated meetings. He is accompanied by Dr. Urjit Patel, Governor RBI, Mr. Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), M/o Finance, Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) and other officials.

Following is the Text of the Statement made by the Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Defence of India Mr. Arun Jaitley, (representing the Constituency consisting of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka), at 95th Meeting of the Development Committee in Washington D.C. yesterday(22nd April, 2017):

 

“Let me begin by complimenting the World Bank Group for achievement of the historic IDA 18 Replenishment package. We are sure that IDA 18 would touch the lives of people in the world’s poorest countries by providing them resources to grow and by creating opportunities for their upliftment. India is happy to pledge to this replenishment and thereby contribute to the ambitious developmental impact IDA 18 envisages to create.

 

We have all gathered here to take a step forward in the direction of the mandate of Development Committee to advise the Boards of Governors of the Bank and the Fund on critical development issues and on the financial resources required to promote economic development in developing countries. Thus, our agenda of Forward Look and Shareholding Review are very pertinent and timely for discussing how to make the World Bank Group stronger for marshalling the financial resources required to promote economic development in developing countries.

 

Questions are raised today in certain quarters about the global compact, which we have developed over the years- multilateralism driving the rule-based flow of goods and services- to deliver growth, development and poverty reduction for all and achievement of global public good. The attempt to change the discourse from opening up and focusing on competitive advantage to increased protectionism will only hurt the global economy and welfare of people. We need to bond together and renew our compact to protect the World from falling into spiral of slow economic growth, rising inequality and irreversibly altered climate, conflict and fragility. I would thus like to call upon this august gathering today to reaffirm our full commitment to the mandate of the Development Committee and to deliver Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and our own twin goals.

 

The global economy is expected to grow by 3.5% in 2017 and slightly better at 3.6% in 2018.  Recent estimates confirm that, at least in the short term, the global growth is likely to be better than these estimates.  The South Asia region, especially the countries in our Constituency, continues to deliver on its promise. India’s growth is expected to be 7.1% in 2017 and 7.5% in 2018. Bangladesh is expected to grow at 6.8% and 6.5% respectively. Sri Lanka is expected to climb to an average of 5.1% growth in 2017-19 period. Bhutan is expected to grow at an average of 11% over the same period. We, in India, continue to undertake significant reforms and stay focused to promote investment to ensure that the region continues to grow at these rates in the near future.

 

India’s optimistic growth rates can be attributed to the committed political will, efficient governance and successful implementation of economic reforms. India has successfully implemented one of the largest currency reform initiatives ever implemented, which will move the Indian economy to a less cash trajectory, increase tax compliance and reduce the threats from counterfeit currency which acts as a source of terror funding. This initiative has also laid the foundation of a vibrant digital economy and a financial system based on universal unique identity and mobile platform. The government has also taken all steps to ensure an integrated Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country to make India a single common market and free the tax system from multiplicity of levies and controls. This is in continuation with the country’s reform agenda that allows private capital and entrepreneurial spirit to flourish. Successful design, building a national consensus, and a strong technical platform make GST in India a historic tax reform of global significance.

 

In terms of specific agenda items, we are considering three updates/ progress reports covering the Forward look, Shareholding Review, and need for a Stronger World Bank Group.

 

There is no doubt that the developing world needs large and growing resources for achieving SDGs and the twin goals of our institutions. This necessity is the underlying argument of the billions to trillions discourse. All the developing countries also know that mobilization of larger domestic resources and creating conditions for better flow of investment finance from both domestic and international private sector would be necessary for achieving their development ambitions. At the same time, it would be necessary for the multilateral system, especially the World Bank Group, to be stronger than ever to play a meaningful and decisive role in translating this development agenda into reality. I endorse the statement in the paper on -A Stronger World Bank Group for All- that a minimum 50% increase in historical average of $24 billion per annum in the case of the IBRD and a 100% increase in case of IFC would be quite necessary to make the World Bank deliver a commitment level of $100 billion a year to make the WBG play a meaningful and leadership role in global development landscape.

 

In this direction, we have also taken note of the Progress Report of the Shareholding Review as part of the Lima Roadmap.  We appreciate the work done so far for Selective Capital Increase (SCI) in the case of IBRD.  We have always supported that to better reflect the increasing weight of the Developing and Transition Countries (DTC), their share and voice in the ownership and management of these institutions need to grow.  We support SCI to bring about voice reform to ensure higher representation to the under-represented and support the use of the dynamic formula based allocation.  We must fulfill our commitment to consider and reach a decision on Selective Capital Increase and General Capital Increase by Annual Meetings 2017 in line with the Lima Roadmap.

 

I am quite in agreement with the conclusions of the Forward Look and take note of actions taken so far and the progress made. While the Bank Group will need to stay engaged with all client groups, progressive building up of the IBRD portfolio for its low-income blend members and lower middle-income member countries without adversely affecting its AAA status would contribute to Bank Group serving its twin goals and SDGs. The countries in our Constituency are facing a large youth bulge requiring millions of jobs to be created every year. We take note of the commitment in the Forward Look that the World Bank Group would work to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, strengthen skills and education outcomes and strengthen employment service delivery. We would look forward to work with the WBG to make our demographic advantage translate into a real demographic dividend. I would also urge that the World Bank group does its best by allocating substantive resources, measuring and incentivizing South-South learning and cooperation.

 

While a bigger bank is the first condition for the WBG to play its leadership role in development, we must also work hard and be imaginative to make it a better Bank.  In this endeavor, there is a scope of aligning a wide range of activities to the best standards of efficiency. Considering the significant global responsibility that the Bank Group is entrusted with, the Bank should provide leadership in setting global standards in terms of financing, process efficiency, benchmarking, operations, monitoring and evaluation. We also sincerely hope that the implementation of the new safeguards and procurement policies is indeed characterized by adoption of country systems, a shorter processing time for all clients and hands on implementation support in Fragile and low capacity countries.

Further, the World Bank Group, as a global repository of development knowledge, is in a unique position to fill the knowledge gaps in the development landscape. Thus, the Bank with its large pool of skilled manpower and experts should take up this opportunity to emerge as a pioneer in knowledge management.

 

The enormity of the development challenges, its financing and the required knowledge support are continuously changing.  This calls for a development approach which is constantly evolving and is based on real partnership.  The sustainability of developmental reforms relating to infrastructure, energy, human capital, resource mobilization and knowledge development can be ensured in partnership mode on a long-term basis. Therefore, to achieve our development ambitions, we support a strong World Bank Group, which should be adequately resourced to contribute meaningfully and substantially in this task.  We look forward to the transformation of the Bank into an agile, nimble and a bigger bank group that will serve all the developmental needs of the member countries efficiently and help them achieve their Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

**************

DSM/VKS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more: The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley...

Metro companies to undertake in-house maintenance and develop local expertise

Rolling stock and signaling equipment norms standardized covering 90% of imports

Mandatory Tender Conditions to encourage  Make in India brought into immediate effect

Eligibility criteria for suppliers also to be standardized in two weeks

 

With rapid expansion of metro rail projects in the country, Ministry of Urban Development has taken several far reaching decisions to promote Make in India campaign. These include stipulating certain mandatory conditions to be incorporated in Tender Documents of metro companies for procurement of metro cars and related critical equipment and sub-systems, procurement of only Made in India signaling equipment besides standardizing technical parameters for rolling stock (metro coaches) and signaling equipment.

The new mandatory Tender Conditions and standardized norms for a wide range of equipment, approved by the Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu have been circulated to all the metro companies on Friday this week making them effective immediately.

These initiatives will incentivize  setting up manufacturing facilities in the country by increasing the volumes of procurement of rolling stock and all kinds of equipment by removing variations in the present technical norms for rolling stock and signaling equipment. This will in turn result in reduction of cost through economies of scale.

The Ministry has stipulated the following mandatory conditions to be incorporated in Tender Documents:

1.Minimum 75% of the tendered quantity of metro cars shall be manufactured indigenously with progressive indigenization of content, for which the contractor may either establish independent manufacturing facility in India or partner with Indian manufacturers, if the procurement is more than 100 cars;

2.To facilitate ease in maintenance through easy availability of spares beyond the warranty period, an identified list of critical equipment and sub-systems shall be included in the Tender Document for ensuring indigenous manufacturing of a minimum of 25% of such equipment, either by Original Equipment Manufacturers themselves by establishing a wholly owned subsidiary in India or through Indian manufacturers;

3.  Requirement of metro cars at State level shall be clubbed to enable applicability of local procurement norms; and

4.To develop in-house expertise on long term basis, metro companies with large size fleet to undertake in-house maintenance.

A total number of 1,912 metro coaches are currently operational in the country with another 1,420 under procurement. Over the next three years more than 1,600 metro cars would be required.  Each metro coach is estimated to cost about Rs.10 cr.

The Ministry has concluded the long pending standaridisation of norms for rolling stock and signaling equipment  applicable to over 90% of the present imports. Further, to promote indigenous manufacturing, the Ministry has stipulated procurement of 9 types of signaling equipment from within the country. Metro companies have also been directed to develop maximum possible local competence so that knowhow and technical support is available within the country. Indian companies have to be associated with production of a wide range of signaling and train control project equipment.

Indigenization of several metro functions has also been prescribed. These relate to communication systems, managing operational disturbances, time table preparation, fault reporting, control traction power, maintenance, infrastructure supervision, rolling stock management etc.

The new standardized norms prescribe that the rolling stock and related equipment and systems shall enable Unattended Train Operations, Driverless Train Operations, Standard rail gauge of 1,435 mm, Metro cars with body width of 2.90 meters for passenger capacity of up to 45,000 Peak Hour Peak Distance capacity, body width of 3.20 meters for capacity above 45,000 PHPD, only 3 car, 6 car or 9 car rail combination, operational speed of 80 kmph, minimum 67% motorization for all rolling stock etc. Norms have also been prescribed for Acceleration Rates, Energy Consumption, Noise and Vibration levels, Collision Standards etc.

Further to these initiatives, Ministry of Urban Development will soon evolve common eligible criteria for suppliers of rolling stock and other equipment doing away with  the present variations across different  metro companies.  

Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary(UD) discussed with Managing Directors of metro companies on Friday the variations in the present eligibility criteria. Noting that such variations adversely impact competition, he directed that a broadly uniform criteria in respect of Net Worth, Financial and technical capacities and experience of supply of rolling stock and other equipment etc should be evolved in two weeks.

Presently, metros are operating in 7 cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Chennai with a total route length of 326 kms. Metro projects with a total route length of 546 kms are under construction in 11 cities and projects with a total route length of 903 kms in 13 cities are under consideration.

 

AAR/KM

 

Read more: Make in India gets metro boost; local...

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, on Tuesday reviewed progress of key infrastructure sectors including roads, railways, airports, ports, digital, and coal. The review meeting, which lasted for about four and a half hours, was attended by top officials from PMO, NITI Aayog and all infrastructure Ministries of the Government of India.

In course of the presentation made by CEO NITI Aayog, it was noted that remarkable progress has been made in several areas and infrastructure sectors. In a broad overview of the progress in the roads and railways sectors, the Prime Minister called for a consolidated approach to existing projects, and working towards their completion within strict timelines.

The highest ever average daily construction rate of 130 km, has been achieved for rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. This has led to an addition of 47,400 km of PMGSY roads in 2016-17. 11,641 additional habitations have been connected with roads in the same period.

Over 4000 km of rural roads have been constructed using green technology in FY17. The use of non-conventional materials such as waste plastic, cold mix, geo-textiles, fly ash, iron and copper slag is being pushed aggressively.

The Prime Minister directed efficient and stringent monitoring of rural roads construction and their quality. For this, he emphasized on use of space technology in addition to the technologies already being used, such as the “Meri Sadak” App. He called for expeditious completion of vital links which will connect the remaining unconnected habitations at the earliest.

The Prime Minister directed the use of new technologies in road construction also. He asked NITI Aayog to examine global standards in the application of technology for infrastructure creation, and their feasibility in India.

In the highways sector, over 26,000 km of 4 or 6 lane national highways have been built in FY17, and the pace is improving.

In the railways sector, 953 km of new lines were laid in 2016-17, as against the target of 400 km. Track electrification of over 2000 km, and gauge conversion of over 1000 km was achieved in the same period. More than 1500 unmanned level crossings have been eliminated in 2016-17. Among measures to enhance customer experience, Wi-Fi access was enabled in 115 railway stations, and 34,000 bio-toilets added. The Prime Minister called for speeding up of work related to redevelopment of Railway Stations, and greater creativity in the generation of non-fare revenue.

Progress of important projects in the roads and railways sectors, such as the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, Char Dham Project, the Quazigund-Banihal Tunnel, the Chenab railway bridge, and the Jiribam-Imphal project was also reviewed. In the aviation sector, the Regional Connectivity Scheme will connect 43 destinations, including 31 unserved destinations. The passenger capacity in the aviation sector has reached 282 million passengers per annum.

In the ports sector, under the Sagarmala project, 415 projects have been identified with investment of Rs. 8 lakh crore, and projects worth 1.37 lakh crore rupees have been taken up for implementation. The Prime Minister stressed on better outcomes for turnaround time of ships and clearance for Exim cargo. The highest ever capacity addition of 100.4 MTPA in major ports has been recorded in 2016-17. All 193 lighthouses are now powered by solar energy. Digitization of land records has been completed in all major ports.

In the digital infrastructure sector, 2187 mobile towers have been installed in districts affected by Left Wing Extremists, in 2016-17. Progress of the National Optical Fibre Network was reviewed. The Prime Minister emphasized that the emerging digital connectivity network, which will connect thousands of Gram Panchayats within the next few months, should be backed up by appropriate governance steps, so that it can lead to better quality of life, and greater empowerment of people in the rural areas.

In the coal sector, rationalization of coal linkages and movement yielded an annual saving of over Rs 2500 crore in 2016-17. Noting the decline in coal imports in the last year, the Prime Minister asked for even more vigorous efforts towards coal import substitution, and application of new coal technologies including gasification technology.

***

AKT/HS

Read more: PM reviews performance of key infrastructure...

FM calls for the enhanced surveillance by the IMF to address the rising vulnerabilities in the global monetary and financial systems; FM stresses that commitments made in the IMFC Communiqué to increase the quotas of dynamic emerging economies should be adhered to, among others.

 The Union Minister of Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs of India, Shri Arun Jaitley participated in the Restricted Session of the International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC) and the Plenary Session of World Economic Leaders (IMFC Plenary) in Washington D.C. yesterday.  The event was attended by the select Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. The discussions centred on the global economic outlook, the resource base and governance framework of IMF and the importance of inclusiveness in terms of distribution of the benefits from global integration.

In the IMFC Plenary, the Finance Minister Shri Jaitley spoke about the Global Economy, Indian Economy and the role of IMF. He stressed that the emerging risks to the global economy, calls for the enhanced surveillance by the IMF to address the rising vulnerabilities in the global monetary and financial systems. 

Welcoming the emphasis on inclusiveness in the Global Policy Agenda (GPA) as a positive development, the Finance Minister Shri Jaitley said that India firmly believes that finding ways to simultaneously accelerate growth and make it more inclusive is the right note to strike. However, as the voices against integration become louder across a range of countries, he said that it is critical that the multilateral institutions stand firm in their commitment to helping member countries consolidate on the gains from integration, while finding ways to achieve more equitable distributions of those gains. He further added that the process of 15th General Review of Quotas should remain on track and that the commitments made in the IMFC Communiqué to increase the quotas of dynamic emerging economies should be adhered to. The Finance Minister said that it would indeed be ironic if an emphasis on inclusiveness on the policy front co-existed with a lack of it on the Governance front.

The Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley is currently on an official tour to Washington D.C., USA to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and other associated meetings. He is accompanied by Dr. Urjit Patel, Governor RBI, Mr. Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), M/o Finance, Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) and other officials.

Following is the Text of the Intervention made by the Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Defence of India Mr. Arun Jaitley, (representing the Constituency consisting of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka), at  the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) in Washington D.C. yesterday(22nd April, 2017):

Mr. Chairman,

  1. Since we met in October 2016, global economic outlook has changed for the better with some silver linings finally emerging. This momentum in global growth is expected to strengthen in 2017 based on gradual improvement in economic conditions in Advanced Economies (AEs), particularly the US, as well as due to the pick-up in growth in some large Emerging Markets (EMs).  However, the confidence in global recovery remains weak owing to the risks associated with the future course of economic policies and monetary policy stance of AEs; resurgence of commodity price pressures; and the increasing recourse to protectionism.
  2. In these circumstances, it is imperative to fortify efforts to support global recovery by committing ourselves to growth friendly policies and ensuring free and fair trade practices as called for by G-20 leaders at the Hangzhou Summit in September last year. Advanced economies have an important role in stimulating global demand with supportive fiscal and monetary policies and eschewing protectionism. 
  3. Emerging Market and Developing Economies (EMDEs) are vulnerable to external shocks and must take ample caution to safeguard ongoing economic recovery. Structural reforms and building buffers constitute the keystones of policy agenda in EMDEs that would ensure sustained growth. Improving the flexibility of labor markets and increasing competition in factor and product markets along with incentives for skill building and innovations are important structural efforts required for boosting productivity and potential growth.             

The Role of IMF – Architecture of Global Cooperation

  1. The emerging risks to the global economy call for enhanced surveillance by the IMF. The IMF needs to be sufficiently resourced to be able to fully discharge this responsibility. It also needs to function as a quota based institution. Given that there is broad agreement on maintaining the current overall lending capacity of the Fund and that the Fund’s existing resource pool is excessively tilted toward borrowed resources, there is a dire need for increasing quotas. Recent work by the Fund also points to the need for realigning quota shares to reflect the changed economic realities. All these must be achieved as part of the 15thGeneral Review of Quotas. We are disappointed that the deadline for completing the 15th GRQ has been pushed back to no later than the 2019 Annual Meetings. Any further delay in the 15th GRQ will erode Fund’s legitimacy and credibility, and will be against the spirit of the Articles of Agreement.  I do hope that the deadlines now set will be honored and adhered to.
  2. We look forward to further work on reforming IMF’s toolkit for improving its effectiveness. We fully support any reform of the IMF lending toolkit which better addresses the needs of the EMDEs. We also encourage the Fund to continue working on addressing gaps in the Global Financial Safety Net (GFSN), including improved integration of the different layers of the GFSN for the purpose of establishing a credible crisis prevention mechanism. The IMF should play proactive role by productive engagement with Regional Financing Arrangements (RFAs) by way of sharing information and joint mechanisms for surveillance and policy signaling to build confidence among creditors. Moreover, co-financing arrangements between the IMF and regional financing element(s) would help in mitigating stigma and delay in program financing. We also support IMF’s work on prequalified state-dependent lending tools for swift and reliable provision of liquidity provision for member countries for the full duration of external shocks faced by them.
  3. We welcome IMF’s role in fostering multilaterally consistent macroeconomic re-balancing and improving the analytical coverage of spillovers from domestic policies to the global economies.
  4. In view of the adverse implications of mounting protectionist pressures on global recovery, I call upon the IMF to lend strong and unambiguous voice in support of free trade and raise awareness about the benefits of rule based open multilateral trading frameworks.

Developments in the Constituency

Bangladesh

  1. Bangladesh has demonstrated resilience amidst global headwinds and domestic challenges. The preliminary estimate of real GDP growth is 7.1 percent in FY16 (ending in June 2016) and 7.2 percent in FY17. Headline inflation eased further in FY16, with annual average CPI inflation reaching 5.9 percent in June 2016, compared to 6.4 percent in June 2015. In FY17 so far, inflation has further moderated to 5.4 percent in February 2017 – a five-year low and well within the FY17 ceiling of 5.8 percent.
  2. Monetary policy stance will continue to remain prudent, and the authorities remain vigilant against upside risks to inflation. Excess liquidity in the banking system has been declining in recent months, as credit growth has picked up. Both food and non-food CPI inflation has moderated, aided by favorable agricultural production, modest rise in global commodity prices, and growth-focused yet cautious monetary policy stance. Projected rise in global commodity prices in 2017, however, may exert some upward pressure on domestic prices.
  3. On the external front, the current account balance recorded a small deficit of US$ 1.12 billion during July-February FY17 as against a surplus of US$ 2.3 billion during the corresponding period in FY16 on account of strong import growth (10.15 percent) coupled with a moderate growth in exports (3.31 percent during July-February) and a slowdown in remittance inflows. The recent decline in remittance reflects a combination of global and local factors, but mainly driven by weaker economic activity in the Middle East, which is expected to recover as oil prices stabilize and manpower exports from Bangladesh increase. Besides, Bangladesh Bank has taken some measures to reduce costs of sending remittance through the formal channels. Bangladesh Bank projects the FY17 overall balance surplus at US$ 2.9 billion, which would help the coverage to remain around 7-8 months of prospective imports of goods and services in FY17. Despite some moderation, garment exports growth has held up well relative to peers.
  1. Fiscal deficit (excluding grants) in FY17 is expected to remain broadly unchanged at around 5.0 percent. The increase reflects mainly the increase in public sector wages. Budget financing was mainly done through National Savings Certificates (NSCs). Gross investment as percent of GDP has risen in FY16 to 29.7 percent but is expected to be around0 percent in FY17. Subsidies as a share of GDP have come down, helped in part by a lower fuel subsidy. With the rolling out of VAT from July 1, 2017, the scope to increase revenue will increase along with improvement in compliance and reduction in tax evasion across the board, and serve as a key building block for future tax policy reforms.
  2. In the banking sector, financial stability continues to receive a high priority with intensive monitoring of banks remaining within the statutory limits on their capital market exposures. To improve corporate governance, Bangladesh Bank is further strengthening its supervisory scrutiny, including by IT-based online supervision tools and placement of observers in banks with governance challenges.
  3. The Government's reform initiatives to improve the business climate and ease infrastructure bottlenecks, including by developing special economic zones, should help crowd in both private domestic and foreign direct investments that can create more jobs, raise productivity, and potential growth. To undertake the increases in public investment and social spending, so as to boost growth and poverty reduction, while keeping fiscal policy sustainable, the Government is committed to boosting revenue and fully implement the VAT by FY18.

Bhutan

  1. The year 2015/16 saw an acceleration in growth to 6.2 percent from 6.1 percent in 2014/15 and 4 percent in 2013/2014. As in the previous year, the acceleration of growth was mainly driven by a pick-up in services, mining and hydropower-related construction. The medium-term outlook is also promising, with the commissioning of new hydropower projects expected to provide further impetus to output and exports, as well as to fiscal revenues.
  2. Consumer price inflation fell further to 3.3 percent in 2015/2016 from 5.2 percent in 2014/15. On account of a gradual pick-up in capital spending, the 2015/2016 fiscal deficit was 1.3 percent of GDP, in contrast to the fiscal surplus of 1.5 percent of GDP in 2014/2015. In 2016/17, because of further acceleration in capital expenditures toward the end of the 11thFive Year Plan, the deficit is projected to reach 5 percent of GDP.
  3. The 2015/16 current account deficit increased by about one percent of GDP to 29.1 percent of GDP. The large deficit in 2015/16 and previous years is a result of the imports for the construction of hydropower projects.  It is expected to decline after 2017/18 with the commissioning of new power plants and the resultant export of power. In the longer run, the current account balance is likely to return a surplus.
  4. Credit growth picked up to 14 percent in 2015 and has approached 17.4 percent by the end of 2016.

India

  1. India continues to be the fastest growing major economy in the world. As per provisional estimates, real GDP grew by 7.9 percent in 2015-16 compared with 7.2 per cent in 2014-15. The   second advance estimate for GDP growth for 2016-17 is placed at 7.1 percent. The currency reform initiative will move the Indian economy to a less cash trajectory, increase tax compliance and reduce the threats from counterfeit currency which acts as a source of terror funding. Growth is expected to gain strength in the following years due to externalities derived from deep structural reforms implemented by our Government and robust aggregate demand.   
  2. CPI inflation which has been easing since August 2016 increased modestly to 3.65 percent in February2017 against 3.17 percent in January 2017.Though it has marginally risen to 3.81% in March, 2017,it is well within the medium term CPI inflation target of 4%.
  3. At the system level, our banks are adequately capitalized. At the same time, we are deeply aware of the problem of non-performing loans (NPLs) which are in the process of being effectively resolved. Policies for resolution of NPLs including optimal structuring of credit facilities, change in ownership/management, deep restructuring of stressed assets and facilitation of speedy exit from unviable accounts have been put in place. Additionally, the amendments to debt recovery laws as well as the enactment of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 would provide enabling infrastructure to deal effectively with the recovery of non-performing assets (NPAs) in a time bound manner.
  4. The Government is infusing capital in Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to meet their capital requirements in line with global risk norms and to spur credit growth. Recent announcements made by our Prime Minister for the provision of cost effective credit to farmers and housing loans to the poor including enhanced access of credit for MSMEs would enlarge the scope of institutional credit delivery to the hitherto under-banked segments of the economy.
  5. The progress of our financial inclusion efforts has been remarkable with 282 million accounts opened by banks under the no-frills PMJDY so far. The objective of the scheme is to provide all households in the country with financial services, with special focus on empowering the weaker sections of society, including women, small and marginal farmers and laborers, both rural and urban. Attractive low cost life and health insurance and pension plans introduced by the Government have expanded the social safety net for weaker sections of the society. Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) is active in facilitating structured microcredit deliveries to small scale entrepreneurs for productive activities. Supported by AADHAR, the biometric based unique identity system for individuals, the ongoing rapid expansion of digital payment mechanisms will provide large push to our financial inclusion efforts.
  6. The wide ranging liberalisation of the FDI policy in recent years is expected to provide major impetus to employment and job creation. Most of the sectors, except a small negative list, are now under the automatic approval route. India is now the most open economy in the world for FDI.  Net FDI inflows during April-December 2016-17 increased to US $ 31.18 billion from US $ 27.22 billion during the same period in the previous year. The increasing strength of economic fundamentals have made India the most sought after destination for investments.
  7. India’s foreign exchange reserves were placed at US $ 367.93 billion as of 24 March 2017.The current account deficit (CAD) was very much at sustainable level of 1.3 percent and 1.1 percent in 2014-15 and 2015-16, respectively. The CA deficit for the three quarters of 2016-17 improved further to 0.7 percent of GDP.
  8. As envisaged, the Gross Fiscal Deficit (GFD) was contained at 3.5 percent in 2016-17 following a steady path of fiscal consolidation without compromising on the public investment requirements of the economy and spending on programs for poverty alleviation. The quality of fiscal adjustment is reflected in the improvement in revenue deficit to 2.1 percent in the revised budgetary estimate vis-à-vis 2.5 percent in 2015-16. Next year the revenue deficit will be reduced further to 1.9 percent to below that of 2 percent mandated by the FRBM Act. The GFD for the year 2017-18 is pegged at 3.2 percent with a commitment to achieve 3 percent in the following year. The steady approach towards fiscal consolidation is being judiciously adopted to avoid excessive curtailment of public investment- in view of the need for higher public expenditure in the context of sluggish private sector investment and subdued global growth. 
  9. For the current financial year, the Union Budget 2017-18 has significantly increased resource allocation for infrastructure as well as rural, agricultural and allied sectors. The allocation for the rural employment guarantee scheme has also been increased substantially. The government would continue to increase fiscal resilience through greater focus on the quality of expenditure and higher tax realizations including those that would accrue from large cash deposits made in banks due to demonetization. The Budget for 2017-18 shows our firm resolve to boost investment in agriculture, social sector, infrastructure and employment generation on the one hand and simultaneously pursue the path of fiscal consolidation on the other. The delivery of AADHAR based direct benefit transfers (DBT) has succeeded in plugging unwarranted leakages resulting in substantial savings to the Government. We are also fully on course to implement the Goods & Service Tax (GST) by 01 July 2017. The GST will deliver significant externalities by way of improved taxation efficiency and the ease of doing business and will convert India into one common market.
  10. Since 2014, we have taken efforts to implement deep structural reforms to unlock the full potential of our economy. Widely encompassing reforms have been put in place which, inter alia, include the Goods and Services Tax Act, AADHAAR (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016, rationalization of subsidies, enactment of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 and operationalization of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) for new corporate insolvency framework. Other policy initiatives include implementation of the hybrid annuity model for PPP, passage of Mines and Mineral Amendment Act, announcement of National Capital Goods Policy, directions to PSEs for expediting arbitration in construction sector, roadmap for rapid adoption of digital payments system, extensive liberalization of the FDI regime and improvements in governance processes in the infrastructure delivery. Alongside steady progress in India’s ranking in Ease of Doing Business, the Government’s flagship program ‘Make in India’ encourages new processes, new infrastructure, new sectors and new mindset to boost entrepreneurial energy. Affirmative policies to arrest declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and empowerment of women over the life-cycle continuum and those for enhancing female employment are being vigorously pursued.  

Sri Lanka

  1. The Sri Lankan economy grew by 4.4 per cent in 2016 compared to the 4.8 per cent growth in 2015. During the year, the highest growth of 6.7 per cent was recorded in the industrial sector supported by the increase in construction related activities. Meanwhile, the services sector grew by 4.2 per cent with the expansion of financial services, insurance, and telecommunications. However, agriculture related activities contracted by 4.2 per cent impacted by supply side disruptions due to floods in the second quarter and drought conditions during the final quarter of 2016. GDP is projected to grow by around 5.5 per cent in 2017.
  2. Inflation as measured by National Consumer Price Index remained at 4.2 per cent at end 2016. However, it showed an upward trend recording 8.2 per cent in February 2017 which was largely due to the impact of prevailing drought conditions and adjustments to the tax structure. Despite the monetary policy tightening in 2016, the decline in monetary and credit aggregates was slower than expected.  The Central Bank having considered these developments, its policy interest rates were further increased by 25 basis points in March 2017, to contain the buildup of adverse inflation expectations and the possible acceleration of demand side inflationary pressures through excessive monetary and credit expansion. The Fiscal Deficit of the Government was reduced to 5.4 per cent of GDP in 2016, from a deficit of 7 per cent in 2015 through a bolstering of tax revenues and containing recurrent and capital expending. Accordingly, the fiscal sector performance was largely on track of the IMF’s 3-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of USD 1.5 billion which was entered in to in 2016. 
  3. On the external front, the deficit in the trade account of the balance of payments (BOP) increased with expenditure on imports increasing and earnings from exports declining in 2016. The declines in export commodity prices, particularly tea and rubber prices as well as low external demand for export commodities lowered the earnings from exports. Earnings from tourism and workers’ remittances continued to cushion the adverse impact of trade deficit on the BOP. In the meantime, outflows of foreign investments from the government securities market which was observed late 2016 and early 2017 appear to have subsided by March 2017. In fact, marginal inflows have been experienced despite the increase in policy interest rates in the United States.   The government could raise USD 2,150 million through issuance of international sovereign bonds during the year.   Nevertheless, the overall Balance of Payments is estimated to have recorded a deficit of US dollars 500 million in 2016.  Meanwhile, gross official reserves were estimated at US dollars 6.0 billion by end December 2016, which is equivalent to 3.7 months of imports. The rupee, which depreciated against the US dollar by 3.8 per cent in 2016, recorded a further depreciation of 1.1 per cent by end March 2017. The financial sector stability and soundness improved, supported by adequate capital and liquidity levels and contained non-performing loan ratios.

                           **************

DSM/VKS

Read more: The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley...

Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal and H.E. Mr. Ignasius Jonan, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Republic of Indonesia met on 20th April, 2017 for the 1st ‘India Indonesia Energy Forum’, held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Energy Forum was preceded by 2nd Joint Working Group (JWG) on Oil and Gas, 4th Joint Working Group on Coal and 1st Joint Working Group on New and Renewable Energy. The reports of three Joint Working Groups were presented to two Ministers during the Energy Forum.

The 2nd JWG on Oil and Gas discussed policy framework of India and Indonesia, oil and gas infrastructure development, cooperation opportunities in capacity building and business opportunities in oil and gas sector in both countries. Representatives of major Indian companies in oil and gas sector such as ONCG Videsh Limited, Petronet LNG Limited, Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) participated in the JWG. Indonesian companies such as PT Pertamina, PT Triputra, PT Nusantara Regas, Medco Energy and PT PGN were also represented.

The 4th JWG on Coal has five sessions dedicated to policy framework, coal resources development, capacity building, research and development and issues and concerns of private sector. Indian companies such as Coal India Limited, Adani Enterprises, Tata Power Company, PT Adani Global, PT Core Mineral Indonesia, PT BaramultiSuksessarana, PT Barasentosa Lestari and PT Jindal Overseas also participated in the JWG.

The 1st JWG on New and Renewable Energy was held through video-conferencing. The two sides discussed policy framework and investment opportunities in India and Indonesia. Both sides agreed to focus on Capacity building, Exchange of Scientific and Technological information and data, Transfer of Technology on Non-commercial basis in bio fuel and geothermal area, Development on Joint Research or Technical Projects on subject of Mutual interest, Encouragement and promotion of investment and Encouragement of policy Dialogue in solar park.

In his remarks, Shri Piyush Goyal appreciated the warm hospitality extended by his host and said that his interaction with Minister Ignasius Jonan was one of the most fruitful one. He said that the visit of President Joko Widodo to India in December 2016 has been instrumental in fast forwarding of Energy Forum. He said that two sides have agreed to explore cooperation in number of areas such as upgrading of refineries in Indonesia, relocation of gas-based plants from India to Indonesia, sharing of experience in use of LEDs and renewable energy in India, sharing the expertise of Indonesia in gasification of fuel oil, exploration of oil, gas and coal fields. Shri Goyal requested Minister Jonan to consider joining International Solar Alliance as Indonesia is solar-rich country. He also requested Minister Jonan to revisit changes in policy in coal sector and work visa.

In his remarks, Mr. Jonan said that Indonesia is important destination for investing especially in energy and infrastructure sector. Minister Jonan said that a team of 19 officials from oil and gas, coal and power sectors will be visiting India to look into several issues discussed during Energy Forum such as relocation of gas-based plants, large scale use of LEDs for energy conservation, visit to sophisticated oil refineries and to Indian Institute of Mines.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Indonesia on cooperation in the field of Oil and Gas was signed on the occasion. The MOU seeks to establish a cooperative institutional framework to facilitate and to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of oil and gas sectors on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

Apart from meeting, Shri Goyal and Mr. Jonan met H.E. Mr. Budi Karya Sumadi, Minister for Transport of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Mr. Arcandra Tahar, Deputy Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Indonesia and Mr. Thomas Trikasih Lembong, Chairman of Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM). Shri Goyal also interacted with investors from Indonesia and attended an event organized in his honour where he met with the Indian community.

India is third largest importer of coal from Indonesia. India’s imports of coal from Indonesia amounted to US$ 3.5 billion in 2016. Several Indian companies have invested in coal mines in Indonesia. The bilateral trade between two countries stood at US$ 15.90 billion in 2015-16 with Indonesia’s export to India amounting to US$ 13.06 billion and India’s exports to Indonesia amounting to US$ 2.84 billion. There is an agreed understanding on both sides to increase the exports from India to Indonesia to improve the trade balance.

*****

RM/VM

Read more: 1st ‘India Indonesia Energy Forum’ held in Jakarta

More Articles ...

Advertisement
Advertisement