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Budget Session 2018: Economic Survey predicts 7-7.5% GDP growth in FY19

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Arun Jaitley

New Delhi, Jan 29: The Economic Survey 2017-2018  tabled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Parliament predicts India’s GDP growth to be between 7-7.5% in FY 2018-2019.

The survey said that agriculture, education, and employment are likely to be the core areas in the medium term.

“A series of major reforms undertaken over the past year will allow real GDP growth to reach 6.75 per cent this fiscal and will rise to 7.0 to 7.5 percent in 2018-19, thereby re-instating India as the world’s fastest growing major economy,” the Survey stated.

It also revealed the reform measures undertaken in 2017-18 can be strengthened further in 2018-19.

The Survey underlined that the economy started to accelerate in the second half of the year and can clock 6.75 per cent growth this fiscal due to the roll out of transformational Goods and Services Tax reform on July 1, 2017 and resolution of the long-festering Twin Balance Sheet problem by sending the major stressed companies for resolution under the new Indian Bankruptcy Code.

Implementing a major recapitalisation package to strengthen the public sector banks, further liberalisation of foreign direct investment and the export uplift from the global recovery had played a major role in boosting the growth, It stated.

The Survey, however, highlighted that according to the quarterly estimates there was a reversal of the declining trend of GDP growth in the second quarter of 2017-18, led by the industry sector.

It said that India can be rated as among the best performing economies in the world as the average growth during past three years is around 4 percentage points higher than global growth and nearly 3 percentage points more than that of emerging market and developing economies.

“Inflation in the country continued to moderate during 2017-18. Consumer Price Index(CPI) based headline inflation averaged 3.3 per cent during the period which is the lowest in the last six financial years”, the survey said.

“A preliminary analysis of the GST data reveals that there has been a 50% increase in no. of indirect taxpayers, besides a large increase in voluntary registrations, especially by small enterprises”, it stated.

“Maharashtra, UP, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are the states with the greatest number of GST registrants. UP and West Bengal has been large increases in the number of tax registrants compared to the old tax regime”.

The survey claimed that for the very first time in India’s history that 5 states, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu&Telangana account for 70% of India’s exports. India’s internal trade in goods&services (excludes non-GST goods and services) is actually even higher and is about 60% of GDP.

Meanwhile, the survey warned about some of the factors could have a dampening impact on GDP growth in the upcoming year are like the possibility of a hike in crude oil prices in the global market.

The Finance Minister presented the Economic Survey 2017-2018 in both houses of the parliament on Monday following President Ram Nath Kovind’s address.

Jailtey laid a copy in Hindi and English of the Economy Survey 2017-18 (Volume 1 and Volume 2).

After tabling the survey, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day.

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India

North Eeast Border Row: Protesters block highway to Mizoram for 2nd day

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Assam Mizoram Border Row

Silchar/Aizawl: The Assam-Mizoram border trouble continued for the second day on Thursday as the agitators in southern Assam refused to withdraw their blockade of National Highway 306, the lifeline of Mizoram, demanding the withdrawal of its security personnel from Assam’s territory.

Assam’s Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Gyanendra Pratap Singh, who is camping in southern Assam since Wednesday, held a series of meetings to normalise the situation but despite his appeal, over a hundred people refused to withdraw their blockade at Lailapur, leaving more than 250 goods-laden vehicles stranded on the either side of the border.

Singh, after visiting the agitation site, told the media that the Assam government would approach the Centre to probe the October 22 bomb blasts in a school located at Khulicherra area near the Assam-Mizoram border.

“The blast at the school was possibly triggered by the miscreants to frighten the border residents. Senior police officials are closely watching the situation and the security along the inter-state borders was further tightened,” he said.

“The demarcated inter-state boundary should be respected by everyone. Necessary statutory provisions are being exploited and interactions with the Central government are being done on a regular basis,” he added.

The picketers were demanding withdrawal of Mizoram’s forces from Assam’s territory in Cachar and Karimganj districts.

“In the series of high-level meetings during the last two weeks, Mizoram officials had agreed to gradually withdraw their forces from the areas inside Assam territory. But, they are yet to withdraw,” a senior Cachar district police official said.

Mizoram ferries all its essentials, food grains, transport fuel and various other goods and machines through NH 306 which connects Vairengte in its Kolasib district to southern Assam.

Festering since October 9, the situation along the 164.6-km Assam-Mizoram border took an ugly turn with around 20 shops and houses being burnt and over 50 people injured in the attacks and counter-attacks by people on either side on October 17.

Union Home Ministry’s Joint Secretary (North East), Satyendra Kumar Garg had held a meeting with the Home Secretaries of Assam and Mizoram last week where it was agreed that both sides will maintain the status quo and hold regular talks to prevent any untoward incident.

After these meetings, over 300 stranded Mizoram-bound essential goods laden vehicles went to the neighbouring state.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Mizoram CM Zoramthanga several times last week to defuse the crisis. Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla held a meeting, through video conference, with the Chief Secretaries of Assam and Mizoram.

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Rs 1,752 cr disbursed to 3 MCDs till Oct 26: Sisodia

Sisodia said the Delhi government paid MCDs their due share of taxes, but it has also paid a large sum over and above as loan.

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Manish Sisodia

New Delhi: Amid war of words over unpaid dues of healthcare workers in the hospitals run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday wrote a scathing letter to three Mayors of MCDs alleging petty politics by them over the issue of delayed salaries to healthcare workers.

Sisodia claimed that it’s the MCD which owes money to the Delhi government.

The three Mayors had earlier protested in front of the CM’s residence claiming a large amount of balance payment from Delhi government to the MCDs.

Countering the claims made by the Mayors, Sisodia presented facts showing that not only had Delhi government paid all the funds due to the MCDs as per the Fifth Delhi Finance Commission, it has paid over and above the required amount resulting in a huge outstanding loans.

“As for the amount owed by the government of Delhi to the MCDs for the current financial (2020-21), as per the Fifth Delhi Finance Commission calculations, a total of Rs 1965.91 crore was due until October 26, 2020, of which Rs 1752.61 crore has already been paid,” Sisodia wrote in the letter.

“MCDs have outstanding loans from Delhi government to the tune of Rs 6008 crore, they also have arrears of Rs 2596 crore to the Delhi Jal Board. Hence, in all, they owe over Rs 8600 crore to the Delhi government,” said the letter.

Sisodia urged the three Mayors to rise above petty politics and focus on the real issue of corruption and financial mismanagement in each of the three MCDs. He urged the Mayors to demand the unpaid amount of Rs 12,000 crore from the Central government.

“I am writing this letter with much anguish and disappointment over your actions as the three Mayors of Delhi (NDMC, EDMC, SDMC) with regard to the unpaid salaries of doctors and healthcare workers in MCD hospitals.

“From your actions, it is clear that rather than finding a viable solution to the matter using all administrative options available to the MCDs, you are only interested in peddling lies and indulging in shameful politics over this issue.

“In the process, you have caused unprecedented pain to the families of thousands of healthcare workers and lowered the prestige of the national capital at a time when the entire country has united in the fight against Corona,” the letter said.

Sisodia said the Delhi government paid MCDs their due share of taxes, but it has also paid a large sum over and above as loan.

As on April 1, 2020, a total of Rs 6,008 crore loan is outstanding from the three MCDs, as per the records of the Urban Development Department. This includes Rs 1,977 crore outstanding loan from EDMC, Rs 3,243 crore from NDMC and Rs 788 crore from SDMC.

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India

PDP’s Srinagar Office Sealed After Protests Against Land Laws

Under the new land law, no domicile or permanent resident certificate is required to purchase non-agricultural land in Jammu and Kashmir.

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Mehbooba Mufti

Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir Thursday foiled a protest march by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the new land law and detained several leaders from the party.

The party had organized a protest rally from the party headquarters in Srinagar to the Press Enclave. However, soon after the leaders reached the party headquarters, they were detained by the police force that was already deployed there. The police detained party members including Khurshid Aalam, Waheed Parra, Suhail Bukhari, Mohit Bhan.

The party had lodged a similar protest in Jammu on Wednesday.

The PDP president and former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti in a tweet stated that the party office in Srinagar has been sealed by the administration and workers have been arrested for organizing a peaceful protest.

“PDP office in Srinagar sealed by J&K admin & workers arrested for organising a peaceful protest. A similar protest was allowed in Jammu so why was it thwarted here? Is this your definition of ‘normalcy’ that’s being showcased in the world?” Mehbooba tweeted.

“PDP’s @parawahid, Khurshid Alam, Rouf Bhat, @MohsinQayoom_& @buttkout were arrested by J&K police for protesting against the settler colonial land laws thrusted upon people of J&K. We will continue to raise our voice collectively & wont tolerate attempts to change demographics,” she tweeted.

Under the new land law, notified on October 27 by the Union Government, no domicile or permanent resident certificate is required to purchase non-agricultural land in the UT. Earlier, Article 35-A of J&K Constitution which was revoked on August 5, placed prohibitions on the sale of land to those who were not state subjects.

The central government has even empowered an Army Commander to declare any area in J&K as strategic for operational and training requirement of the armed forces.

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