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India’s growth momentum to continue in April-March quarter of 2024-25: FinMin report

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New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The Indian economy closed the financial year 2023-24 strongly despite strong external headwinds, and early indications suggest that the growth momentum will continue during the current April-June quarter of 2024-25, according to a Finance Ministry report released on Friday.

“The emerging robust trends in key high-frequency indicators of growth like GST collections, e-way bills, electronic toll collections, sale of vehicles, purchasing managers’ indices, and the value and number of digital transactions attest to the growing strength of the economy,” the Finance Ministry said in its monthly economic review for April.

The industrial and service sectors of the Indian economy are performing well, backed by brisk domestic demand and partially by tentative external demand. This can benefit India’s manufacturing firms as part of the China Plus One strategy.

The EXIM Bank of India has forecast that merchandise exports will post a double-digit growth in Q1 of FY25, the report pointed out.

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The report expects domestic manufacturing to receive stronger export orders due to improved economic activity and consumer sentiment in Europe and a steady US economy. It cites an uptick in India’s exports in April to support the point.

It admits that geopolitical tensions and volatility in global commodity prices, especially of petroleum products, present substantial challenges. “Nonetheless, the expectation is that the macro-economic buffers will help the Indian economy navigate these challenges reasonably smoothly,” the report added.

Factors like the ongoing recovery in the hotel and tourism industry, increased credit flow to transport and real estate segments, policy support, and robust investments in physical and digital infrastructure and logistics will help the services sector. The strong export growth in April 2024 indicates that the momentum in services trade has been carried forward into FY25, it said.

On the inflation front, the report cites the good rabi harvest of wheat and the prediction of a normal Southwest Monsoon as factors that will lead to higher food production and easing of price pressures during 2024-25. The RBI has forecast a 4.9 per cent retail inflation for FY25’s first quarter.

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According to the report, Government initiatives to stabilise the prices of essential food items, including their open market sale, stock monitoring and trade policy measures are helping to stabilise food prices.

“The positive indications in the farm sector should help India firewall against any adverse pressures that may arise from geopolitical tensions and global commodity prices. Likewise, the strong macro-economic buffers of India should help the real sectors of the economy navigate the external headwinds smoothly and continue the growth momentum of the previous year,” the report added.

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16.47 lakh new workers enrolled in ESI scheme as employment rises

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New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) The payroll data of the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) scheme released on Wednesday shows that 16.47 lakh new employees have been added in April this year out of which close to half are youngsters aged up to 25 years.

Around 18,490 new establishments have also been brought under the social security ambit of the ESI Scheme in April thus ensuring social security to more workers according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

“Through the data, it is noticeable that more jobs have been generated for the youth of the nation as out of the total 16.47 lakh employees added during the month, 7.84 lakh employees amounting to around 47.60 per cent of the total registrations belong to the age group of up to 25 years,” the Ministry statement points out.

The gender-wise analysis of the payroll data indicates that net enrollment of female members has been 3.38 lakh in April.

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Besides, a total of 53 transgender employees have also got registered under ESI Scheme during the month.

The ministry’s statement also said that the payroll data was provisional since data generation is a continuous exercise.

–IANS

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Cabinet gives nod to Rs 7,453 crore scheme for offshore wind energy projects

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New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday approved the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme for offshore wind energy projects at a total outlay of Rs 7,453 crore, according to an official statement issued after the meeting.

This includes Rs 6,853 crore for the installation and commissioning of 1 GW of offshore wind energy projects of 500 MW each off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, and a grant of Rs 600 crore for the upgradation of two ports to meet logistics requirements for offshore wind energy projects.

The VGF scheme is a major step towards implementation of the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy notified in 2015 with an aim to exploit the vast offshore wind energy potential that exists within the exclusive economic zone of India. The VGF support from the government will reduce the cost of power from offshore wind projects and make them viable for purchase by discoms.

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While the projects will be established by private developers selected through a transparent bidding process, the power excavation infrastructure, including the offshore substations, will be constructed by Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, as the nodal ministry, will coordinate with various ministries/departments to ensure the successful implementation of the scheme.

Construction of offshore wind energy projects and their operations also require specific port infrastructure, which can handle storage and movement of heavy and large dimension equipment. Under the scheme, two ports in the country will be supported by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways to meet the requirements of offshore wind development, the statement said.

Offshore wind is a source of renewable energy which offers several advantages over onshore wind and solar projects, such as higher adequacy & reliability, lower storage requirement and higher employment potential. Development of the offshore wind sector will lead to economy-wide benefits by attracting investments, development of indigenous manufacturing capabilities, creation of employment opportunities across the value chain and technology development for offshore wind in the country. This will also contribute towards achieving India’s energy transition targets.

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The successful commissioning of 1 GW offshore wind projects will produce renewable electricity of about 3.72 billion units annually, which will result in an annual reduction of 2.98 million tons of CO2 equivalent emission for a period of 25 years. Further, this scheme will not only kick start the offshore wind energy development in India but also lead to the creation of the required ecosystem in the country to supplement its ocean-based economic activities. This ecosystem will support the development of an initial 37 GW of offshore wind energy at an investment of about Rs 4,50,000 crore, the official statement added.

–IANS

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9 Indian ports make it to World Bank's Global Top 100 list

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New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) In a major achievement, as many as 9 Indian ports have made it to the Global Top 100 in the latest edition of the Container Port Performance Index (CPPI), 2023, prepared by the World Bank and S&P Global Marketing Intelligence.

Visakhapatnam Port has showcased strong performance with 27.5 moves per crane hour, a turnaround time (TRT) of 21.4 hours, and minimal berth idle time. These metrics highlight the port’s efficiency in handling container ships and significantly influence customer preference.

Seven other Indian ports, which secured ranks in the top 100, are Pipavav (41), Kamarajar (47), Cochin (63), Hazira (68), Krishnapatnam (71), Chennai (80) and Jawaharlal Nehru (96).

Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal credited the achievement to the ambitious Sagarmala programme, envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has led to the modernisation of the country’s ports and improving their efficiency.

“This is a tremendous achievement for Indian ports and is a testament to the efforts taken by the PM Narendra Modi-led government to modernise and mechanise the ports to improve their performance in the handling of ships and cargo.

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“Path-breaking initiatives like Sagarmala have helped incorporate new technology, and green infrastructure to ensure stability and sustainability of India’s maritime industry. With sustained effort in this regard, we are confident that the Indian maritime sector will further improve the resilience and efficiency of maritime gateways and boost port-led economic development,” Sarbananda Sonowal said.

–IANS

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RBI sees India's economy shifting from 7 to 8 per cent

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Mumbai, June 19 (IANS) There is an increasing evidence of a trend upshift taking shape, which is shifting India’s growth trajectory from the 2003-19 average of 7 per cent to the 2021-24 average of 8 per cent or even more, powered by domestic drivers, according to the RBI’s June bulletin released on Wednesday.

More recent indicators suggest that private consumption is resuming its role as the main driver of demand and is getting broad-based to include rural consumers. The fast moving consumer goods sector is gearing up for a strong turnaround on expectations of pick-up in public welfare spending, the bulletin states.

A drop in the walk-in clientele is being compensated for by e-commerce platforms, especially in heatwave conditions. Investment has maintained steady growth; some moderation in the more recent period could be on account of transitory uncertainty weighing on investment decisions but this too shall pass, it adds.

The RBI bulletin also states that a strong revival in private investment has to become the most important factor driving growth in the years to come, especially as public finances consolidate.

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Government consumption spending picked up modestly towards the close of 2023-24, reflecting the sustained focus on capital expenditure which is a positive for the medium-term prospects of the economy and investor sentiment.

“In a pleasant surprise, net exports have improved their contribution to GDP, especially high-end manufacturing. The services sector is also witnessing a compositional change. GVC participation in services has shown a gradual maturing from low value-added business process outsourcing services to high value-added services such as those provided by global capability centres (GCCs) that have evolved from cost-saving entities to hubs for innovation and high-value activities and are spreading to tier-II cities,” the bulletin observes.

It also states that increasingly, the focus is likely to shift to export of services and the leveraging of skilled workforces.

India’s hospitality industry is seeking to expand the frontiers of tourism in the country. India has the largest tourism and travel sector in south Asia. An ambitious target of adding $1 trillion to GDP through tourism has been set for 2047 by making India a major tourist destination.

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The RBI bulletin also points out that on the production side, manufacturing has led the expansion in gross value added (GVA), with construction keeping pace.

For both, the near-term prospects look bright.

In fact, in the case of the latter, India’s commercial realty landscape in satellite and tier-II cities is undergoing a significant transformation fueled by infrastructure development in the form of road networks and metro connectivity, strategic urban planning and relatively lower cost of living.

The services sector has maintained expansion at pre-pandemic trend rates, and was led by finance, insurance, real estate and business services.

Although agriculture and allied activities remained muted, there is considerable optimism about a better performance in 2024-25.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) got it right — the southwest monsoon set in over Kerala two days ahead of its normal arrival.

The timely arrival of monsoon rains bodes well for kharif sowing and for the replenishment of reservoirs, which makes the foodgrains target of 340 million tonnes for the 2024-25 crop year (July-June) appear achievable, the bulletin added.

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–IANS

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4 Adani ports make it to World Bank's global 'Container Port Performance Index'

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Ahmedabad, June 19 (IANS) Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ) on Wednesday said four of its ports have been featured in the prestigious ‘Container Port Performance (CPP) Index 2023’, developed by the World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence.

While Mundra port was ranked 27th, Kattupalli came in at number 57th, Hazira at 68th, and Krishnapatnam at 71th in the Top 100 list.

“It reaffirms our position as a key player in the global container port industry. This accomplishment is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team as well as our ongoing commitment to deliver exceptional service to our customers,” said Ashwani Gupta, CEO and Whole Time Director of APSEZ.

The global index is a highly-regarded benchmark that assesses the performance of ports on parameters such as productivity, efficiency and reliability. It serves as a reference point for key stakeholders, including national governments, port authorities, development agencies, supra-national organisations and private operators, of trade, logistics and supply chain services.

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Nine ports from India made it to the top 100 list, including four from the Adani portfolio, underscoring the APSEZ’s commitment to operational efficiency and world-class service standards.

Last week, Adani Ports was recognised by CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) for its exceptional efforts in tackling climate change and implementing best Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices across its supply chain through a robust engagement programme. The global non-profit organisation assigned APSEZ a leadership band “A-” in both climate change and supplier engagement.

Adani Ports has seven strategically located ports and terminals on the western coast and eight ports and terminals on the eastern coast, representing 27 per cent of the country’s total port volumes.

–IANS

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