India - Partner In Growth
Welcome to the August 18, 2016 bulletin of key policy decisions and high-impact news from India, presented by the Embassy of India, in Washington D.C.
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Parliament Clears Way for GST, Now Up to States to Pass 
Parliament has passed the constitution amendment bill to roll out the Goods & Services Tax (GST), shifting this historic reform to states, which now must pass it quickly for the Government to take the next steps. The GST is being hailed as a game-changing measure that will bring India's tax regime into the 21st century.
Govt. OKs Foreign Investment in Other Financial Services Sectors 

The Government approved foreign investment in Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs).  This will enable inflow of foreign investment in "Other Financial Services" via the automatic route, provided such services are regulated by financial sector bodies, including the Reserve Bank of India, SEBI and so on. Minimum capitalization rules have also been eliminated. 

Factories Act Amended to Ease Doing Business 

The Government approved amendment of the Factories Act to boost to the manufacturing sector and facilitate ease of doing business with an aim to enhance employment opportunities. These amendments will increase overtime hours from the existing 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours (Section 64) and existing 75 hours per quarter to 125 hours (Section 65).

Govt. Launches E-marketplace to Ensure Transparency 

Aiming to ensure greater transparency and revolutionize Government procurement, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has launched the Government e-Marketplace (GeM). It is an end-to-end procurement system for the purchase of goods and services of common use by Government buyers. 

Govt. Forms Body to Execute WTO's Trade Facilitation Pact 

The Government has constituted a body to oversee implementation of the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) ratified in April 2016.  The committee will develop a pan-India road map for trade facilitation and focus on an outreach program for sensitization of all stakeholders about TFA. 

PM Modi: India Ranked No. 1 for Investment by All Global Agencies 

Prime Minister Modi said every major agency has ranked in India the best investment destination, as the country's economy has continued to grow well despite the global gloom. Be it the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the World Economic Forum, they have all declared India to be the best destination for global capital, Modi said in his Independence Day address from the Red Fort.

India, U.S. Join for $30 Million Energy Storage Research

India and the U.S. have agreed on a $30 million public-private five-year research initiative for joint research on smart grid and energy storage technology. Under the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Research, the U.S. Energy Department and the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology will each commit $1.5 million per year for five years to the expanded research effort, subject to congressional appropriations.

Ministry of Shipping Plans 160 MW of Renewable Energy at Major Ports

The Ministry of Shipping is in the process of installing solar and wind based power systems at all the Major Ports across the country. The Ministry aims to set up 90 MW of solar energy capacity at 12 Major Ports and 70 MW of wind energy capacity at four Major Ports by 2017. The cost will be $61 million.

India Rises to Global 66th Rank in Innovation

Reversing a trend of declining rankings every year, India rose by 15 positions to become the 66th most innovative nation in the world, according to the Global Innovation Index. The index is based on 82 variables across seven areas, grouped into two divisions - inputs and outputs for innovation. India had been faring poorly over the years, largely related to poor infrastructure, performance in education, intellectual property and so on.

PM Modi: Govt. Plans to Electrify 18,000 Villages in 1,000 Days 

Prime Minister Modi said that his Government has set a target to provide electricity connection in 18,000 villages across the country in just 1,000 days. He said he was appalled to see that even after 70 years of independence, people are forced to lead the life of the 18th century in the 21st century.