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RBI sees CPI inflation easing to 4.5 pc in 2024-25

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Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) The RBI has projected the country’s inflation rate, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), at 4.5 per cent for 2024-25 in the backdrop of an above-average monsoon expected this year and easing of supply chain pressures.

“Headline inflation moderated by 1.3 percentage points on an annual average basis to 5.4 per cent in 2023-24. The easing of supply chain pressures, broad-based softening in core inflation and early indications of an above normal southwest monsoon augur well for the inflation outlook in 2024-25,” the RBI said in its annual report released on Thursday.

However, the increasing incidence of climate shocks impart considerable uncertainty to the food inflation and overall inflation outlook. Low reservoir levels, especially in the southern states and the outlook of above-normal temperatures during the initial months of 2024-25 need close monitoring, according to the report.

“The volatility in international crude oil prices, the persisting geopolitical tensions and elevated global financial market volatility also pose upward risk to the inflation trajectory. Taking into account these factors, CPI inflation for 2024-25 is projected at 4.5 per cent with risks evenly balanced,” the report states.

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The RBI has also highlighted the need to continue with the existing monetary stance to keep inflation under control.

“As the path of disinflation needs to be sustained till inflation reaches the 4 per cent target on a durable basis, the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) in its April 2024 meeting, kept the policy repo rate unchanged at 6.50 per cent and noted that monetary policy must continue to be actively disinflationary to ensure anchoring of inflation expectations and fuller transmission. The MPC also decided to remain focused on withdrawal of accommodation to ensure that inflation progressively aligns to the target, while supporting growth,” the report observes.

The Reserve Bank said that it will remain “nimble and flexible” in its liquidity management through main and fine-tuning operations, both repo and reverse repo. It will deploy an appropriate mix of instruments to modulate frictional as well as durable liquidity to ensure that money market interest rates evolve in an orderly manner so that financial stability is preserved.

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–IANS

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Asset right growth strategy boosts Storii by ITC Hotels on a high growth trajectory

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New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) Strengthening the presence of Brand Storii, ITC’s Hotel Group has announced the signing of two Storii resorts in Rajasthan.

With these signings, the chain’s portfolio of managed properties continues its high growth trajectory through the asset right strategy.

Expected to open in early 2025, Storii by ITC Hotels, Jaipur, and Storii by ITC Hotels, Jawai, will exemplify the brand’s ethos to offer immersive experiences. Including the recently announced signing of Storii Jaisalmer, Brand Storii will now have a total of three properties in Rajasthan.

Speaking on the expansion of Brand Storii, Anil Chadha, Chief Executive, ITC Hotels, said, “Brand Storii is a diverse collection of properties that tell their own unique story. Staying true to the nature of the brand, Storii Jaipur and Storii Jawai are set to weave their own stories for our guests through their offerings. The location of the two resorts is perfect for travellers looking to experience the destination while also exploring culture reminiscent of a glorious heritage.”

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Thakur Mansingh Kanota, Owner, Castle Kanota, expressed his elation saying, “Built in 1872, Castle Kanota was the intended official family residence for the Kanota family. We have since hosted many a dignitary and are now in the process of expanding the property into a heritage resort. As the needs of the typical traveller change towards experiential, we trust ITC Hotels to bring its expertise and nuanced hospitality to this property with brand Storii.”

Vinita Rathore, Owner, Storii by ITC Hotels, Jawai, said, “Jawai has come into its own as a wildlife destination in recent years. We are confident that our premium product along with ITC Hotels’ hospitality expertise will enable Storii Jawai to position itself as a preferred destination for high-end leisure travelers and wildlife enthusiasts in years to come.”

–IANS

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Rs 3,500cr worth of illicit goods seized by DRI in FY23-24: Official

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New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) Mohan Kumar Singh, Principal Director General of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), said that illicit trade through smuggling and counterfeiting poses an immense threat and impacts legitimate economic activities resulting in government revenue losses and fuelling of organised crime.

“At DRI, we are acutely aware of the challenges of illicit trade and are dedicated to addressing them on a daily basis. In the financial year 2023-24, DRI detected 623 cases, averaging nearly 2 cases daily, resulting in contraband seizures valued at Rs 3,500 crore. A significant portion of these seizures involved narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as well as smuggled gold. Also, other items that DRI has kept a close watch on are cigarettes, red sanders, fake currency, wildlife products as well as areca nuts.

“Given the nature of illicit trade one major way forward to tackle the menace is the need for emphasis on global cooperation among relevant international organizations. We have actively pursued this cooperation through various bilateral and multilateral agreements. Our experience shows that infiltration of global supply chains has emerged as a significant threat,” Singh said.

Singh was delivering the inaugural address at a seminar organised by FICCI Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) in Delhi.

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FICCI CASCADE has intensified its campaign to combat illicit trade by organising the seminar titled, Global Challenges of Illicit Trade and the Way Forward.

The seminar focussed on addressing the complex issues surrounding illicit trade on a global scale and aimed to pave the way for collaborative solutions and proactive measures against this pervasive threat to economies worldwide.

Applauding FICCI CASCADE’s work in countering illicit trade, Singh said: “Global meetings and conferences have also played a crucial role in tackling the widespread nature and network of illicit trade operatives. Combating such networks requires a network of multiple stakeholders of government bodies as well as non-state actors. The dynamic nature of these threats necessitates forums such as this seminar to contribute effectively to the fight against illicit trade. I commend FICCI CASCADE for organising this seminar, which I am sure will contribute meaningfully to the global efforts of combating illegal trade.”

Anil Rajput, Chairman of FICCI CASCADE delivering the welcome address at the seminar said: “In India, DRI and other enforcement agencies have been playing an increasingly significant role in combating illicit trade through a substantial increase in seizures of illicit products like gold, cigarettes, currency, cosmetics and much more on a routine basis at the Indian airports, sea ports and border points. Today, illicit trade operatives exploit technology like AI to automate smuggling processes, from route planning to risk assessment and evasion tactics. Illicit traders are also employing AI algorithms to analyse border control data, law enforcement activities and surveillance patterns to exploit weaknesses and optimise their illegal operations, therefore, development of effective deterrence against this misuse of technology requires our unabated focus.

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“I must emphasise that despite the increase in seizures, these represent only the tip of the iceberg and the magnitude of the problem is significantly higher and continues to grow exponentially year on year. Hence it is imperative that we act swiftly to enhance global cooperation in combating illicit trade. One proposed solution is establishing a ‘Global Forum’ comprising enforcement agencies from across the world, supported by a dedicated secretariat. FICCI CASCADE stands ready to collaborate with the government and enforcement agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy to bring alive such an initiative,” Rajput added.

Brigadier Girish Upadhya, Assam Rifles, during the seminar said: “Infrastructure in border areas is a challenge but we try our level best to stop contraband and the movement of illegal drugs. In 2023, Rs 1,125 crore worth of drugs and contrabands were caught and this year until now, Rs 1,109 crore worth of drugs and contrabands have been seized. We keep having monthly and quarterly meetings with other agencies to check smuggling and I believe movement in border areas needs to be electronically mapped to rein in these illicit activities.”

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B. Shanker Jaiswal, Joint Commissioner of Police (Tech, Cyber & Licensing), Delhi Police, said: “Technology is an enabler and is a force multiplier. But no technology can be effective until and unless there are trained personnel to use it. Criminals use the dark web for transactions and this has become very challenging. We have to train our officers in such technologies to tackle the threat. Illicit trade can be drastically reduced if we are able to harness technology effectively. For example, we should be able to harness the massive databases that the government has created and take the help of AI in data mining to be one step ahead of smugglers and illicit trade operatives. I strongly believe data-driven policing is the future.”

–IANS

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IndiGo ties up with Garuda to train fresh pilots

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Leading low-cost carrier IndiGo has partnered with Garuda Aviation Academy to train fresh pilots as future junior first officers, under the airline’s Cadet Pilot Program.

This is the eighth partnership for cadet pilot program by IndiGo in the last 13 years, the airline said on Thursday.

The 21-month course also includes three-month ground schooling at Garuda Aviation Academy training centre in Gurugram, followed by 12-months of training at 43 Air School in South Africa, which has a track record of training 6,000 plus ab-initio pilots over the years, according to an IndiGo statement.

Over the past 13 years, IndiGo has inducted over 1,000 pilots through these full training programmes, which include commercial pilot license and A320 type rating, the statement added.

Captain Ashim Mittra, IndiGo’s senior vice president-flight operations, said: “This initiative also aligns with the Government of India’s UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) mission, fortifying our commitment to connecting with smaller and medium-sized towns and cities. At IndiGo, we focus on the personal and professional growth of our pilots.”

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–IANS

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Coal Ministry going for major reforms to ensure responsible mining

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) The Ministry of Coal on Thursday announced that it has revised the framework of preparation of the Mining Plan, a pivotal step to regulate and advance India’s coal mining sector, and issued draft guidelines for consultation.

These guidelines serve as a strategic blueprint for coal mining companies, facilitating effective planning, execution, and monitoring of mining activities while upholding stringent environmental, social, and safety standards.

The primary objective is to optimise coal resource extraction through sustainable practices that minimise waste and enhance operational efficiency. This strategic approach includes advanced technological integration to streamline operations, thereby achieving environmental and economic sustainability, according to a Ministry statement.

Safety and health measures constitute a cornerstone of the revised guidelines, ensuring the protection of mining personnel and local communities. Robust safety protocols and infrastructure are imperative to safeguard all stakeholders involved in coal mining operations.

The revised draft guidelines also focus on responsible mining practices that bolster the coal industry while prioritising ecosystem preservation.

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This involves mandatory inclusion of restoration, remediation, and regeneration measures in mining plans to ensure sustainable natural resource management.

By minimising environmental impacts, addressing community concerns, and promoting continuous improvement in water quality monitoring, the guidelines aim to foster a more sustainable and ethical approach to coal mining.

Key reforms introduced in the revised draft Mining Plan & Mine Closure Guidelines include:

* Enhanced flexibility for minor modifications in Mining Plans, with major changes requiring approval from the Coal Controller Organisation (CCO).

* Preference for blast-free and continuous coal-cutting technologies in mining methods.

* Implementation of comprehensive Safety Management Plans as per Coal Mines Regulations, 2017, including mandatory safety audits.

* Integration of fly ash filling protocols into mining plans to address related environmental concerns.

* Requirement for drone surveys and processed outputs for comprehensive five-year compliance reports of Mining Plans.

* Inclusion of sand for stowing in mines within revised guidelines.

* Facilitation of mine amalgamation for safer and more efficient operations, including the use of decoaled voids for overburden dumping.

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* Mandatory adoption of conveyor belts or railway transport for coal evacuation, promoting environmental sustainability.

* Requirement for mechanised loading to optimise coal movement from siding to end-users, enhancing operational efficiency and environmental protection.

* Mandatory preparation of Temporary and Final Mine Closure Plans for abandoned or discontinued mines post-2009.

–IANS

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EPFO adds record 18.92 lakh members in April reflecting rise in jobs

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has added 18.92 lakh net members during April this year which is the highest since the first payroll data was published in April 2018, according to figures released by the Ministry of Labour and Employment on Thursday.

The number of net members added shot up by 31.29 per cent over the corresponding figure for March 2024, the provisional payroll data shows.

The year-on-year analysis reveals a growth of 10 per cent in net member additions compared to April 2023.

This surge in membership can be attributed to increased employment opportunities, a growing awareness of employee benefits, and the effectiveness of EPFO’s outreach programmes, the Ministry said.

The data indicates that around 8.87 lakh new members have enrolled during April 2024.

A noticeable aspect of the data is the dominance of the 18-25 age group, constituting a significant 55.5 per cent of the total new members added in April 2024.

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This is in consonance with the earlier trend which indicates that most individuals joining the organised workforce are youth, primarily first-time job seekers.

According to the payroll data, approximately 14.53 lakh members exited and subsequently rejoined EPFO.

This figure represents a 23.15 per cent increase compared to the previous month of March 2024.

These members switched their jobs and re-joined the establishments covered under the ambit of EPFO and opted to transfer their accumulations instead of applying for final settlement, thus, safeguarding long-term financial well-being and extending their social security protection.

Gender-wise analysis of payroll data unveils that out of 8.87 lakh new members, around 2.49 lakh are new female members.

Also, the net female member addition during the month stood at around 3.91 lakh reflecting an increase of approximately 35.06 per cent compared to the previous month of March 2024.

The surge in female member additions is indicative of a broader shift towards a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

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State-wise analysis of payroll data denotes that net member addition is highest in the five states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Haryana.

These states constitute around 58.3 per cent of net member addition, adding a total of 11.03 lakh net members during the month.

Of all the states, Maharashtra is leading by adding 20.42 per cent of net members during the month.

Besides, out of the total net membership, around 41.41 per cent addition is from expert services (consisting of manpower suppliers, normal contractors, security services, miscellaneous activities etc.)

The payroll data is provisional since the data generation is a continuous exercise, as updating employee record is a continuous process.

–IANS

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