Govt to start new infrastructure projects, including 8 new airports: PM

Ireo Skyon, Gurgaon

Ireo Skyon, Gurgaon

Government will kick-start a number of new infrastructure projects including 8 new airports and two new sea-ports in the coming months to boost sluggish economic growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday.

With economic growth slowing to a decade low of 5 per cent, the Congress-led UPA government has further opened the economy to foreign direct investment and now wants to use investments for returning to high growth tagetory.

“We will start work on a number of new infrastructure projects in the coming months. This includes 2 new ports, 8 new airports, new industrial corridors and rail projects,” Singh said in his address to the Nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the occasion of 67th Independence Day.

Listing out steps taken to boost infrastructure in the last nine years, he said about 2 lakh kilometer of new roads have been constructed for connecting villages under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna.

Read more: Financial Express

Economy

Will not allow free fall of Indian rupee, will check CAD: P. Chidambaram

Committing to preventing free fall of Indian rupee, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram today said that he would continue with fiscal consolidation and make efforts to contain Current Account Deficit (CAD) in a bid to strengthen the domestic currency.

“Given our fiscal deficit, given our Current Account Deficit, there will be some pressure on rupee and rupee will indeed depreciate. All that we are saying is that we cannot allow the rupee to go into a free fall. We are arguing for a stable rupee”, he said while replying to a discussion on the state of economy in the Rajya Sabha.

The Minister also made a strong case for promoting foreign investment to bridge the CAD, which had touched the historic high of 4.8 per cent of the GDP in 2012-13 and is responsible for declining rupee.

On the issue of rise in prices of essential commodities, he said although the wholesale price-based inflation has come down to below five per cent in five months till June, efforts would have to be made to address the supply side problems to bring down the retail inflation.

However, controlling inflation cannot be the only mandate of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), he said and advised the central bank to view it as “part of a larger mandate (of promoting) growth and employment.”

Read more: Financial Express

U.S. says proud of its ‘indispensable partnership’ with India

United States Secretary of State John Kerry has congratulated India and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the occasion of the country’s 67th Independence Day.

In a statement issued on behalf of President Barack Obama and the people of the United States, Kerry said that the United States “takes pride in our indispensable partnership with India, a friendship built on our shared democratic values, the entrepreneurial spirit of our people, and our rich people-to-people ties.”

Recalling his recent visit to India for the fourth U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, he said that he now looks forward to continuing critical efforts to lay the “foundations for peace, democracy, and prosperity in Asia and arond the world.”

He said that during his visit, he was privileged and honored to witness first hand the vibrancy of India’s culture, the energy of its youth, and the strength and resilience of its democratic institutions.

“Together, our governments held their fourth annual U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, allowing each side to build partnerships on issues such as regional security and defense, science and technology, climate change, and women’s empowerment,” he said.

He also made a mention of Mahatma Gandhi and the other heroes of India, who have proved that great change can be achieved through non-violent means.

Source: Business Standard

Energy

Govt plans Rs 43,000-cr green energy corridor

To facilitate flow of renewable energy into the national grid, the Government plans to roll out a Rs 43,000-crore ‘green energy corridor’ project.

The project will be implemented with the assistance of Germany, which has promised to provide development and technical assistance of €1 billion as soft credit,” said Ratan P. Watal, Secretary, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.

Speaking at the ‘National Consultation of Stakeholders regarding Development of Offshore Wind Energy in India’ here on Wednesday, he said the Government is committed to providing a conducive environment for harnessing offshore wind energy.

He said India’s onshore wind energy deployment had crossed 19.6 GW attracting $16.5 billion of investment in 2012 and it is estimated that by 2030 installed capacity will reach 191 GW.

He further said a National Offshore Wind Energy Authority, under the aegis of MNRE, will be constituted shortly. The authority will act as the nodal agency for offshore wind projects.

The authority will carry out resource assessment and surveys in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and simultaneously enter into contracts with project developers for offshore wind energy projects within the territorial waters (12 nautical miles).

Read more: Business Line

Government to consider tax incentive for wind sector

After reinstating generation-based incentive (GBI) for the wind sector, government is likely to enforce a tax benefit scheme as well for the wind farm developers. Ratan Watal, secretary, ministry of new and renewable energy told reporters, “GBI is for big independent players while accelerated depreciation (AD) or any such form of tax benefit would attract entrepreneurs in the wind sector.”

After a hiatus of one and a half year without any subsidy or incentive scheme, cabinet approved GBI with a retrospective effect for the wind sector. No decision was however taken on AD.

“We are looking at a different form of AD, tax regime or a new financial regime for small players who want to earn some tax benefit on their investments,” said Watal.

He said that historically AD has attracted new players in the wind market. “By next financial year, a new tax regime for the wind sector would be in place,” said Watal.

AD has been in force for the wind industry since 2003 till 2012 when its was withdrawn. 17,000 mw of wind power was added in the nation’s grid during this period.

Source: The Economic Times

Govt trying to push approvals to harness hydro power potential

The government is doing all it takes to harness the full potential of hydro power in the country, Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said today.

“I am trying to push through permissions for all our hydro projects to increase our potential, whether they lie with the Ministry of Water Resources or the Ministry of Environment and Forests or CEA (Central Electricity Authority) or the Arunachal government, so that we can get India’s hydro potential on stream,” he said here.

The Power Ministry is working with other allied ministries to bring up hydro power projects in a timely manner, Scindia said.

The minister denied media reports that he was unhappy with the lengthy procedures of the CEA for clearing hydel projects, which in turn delayed those plants.

“I don’t know where that report came from, there are no issues at all,” Scindia said.

The reports had said that A S Bakshi, who stepped down as chairman of CEA in July, had informed the Power Ministry that there were no delays on the part of CEA and the projects were not taken up for construction mainly for want of environment and forest clearances, non-signing of power purchase agreements and the absence of financial closure.

Of the total installed generation capacity of 2,11,766 MW in the country, hydro power accounts for 39,416 MW.

Read more: Business Standard

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