FM reviews capex, asks DoT to expedite digital expansion

Source: Financial Express, 26 October 2021

Sitharaman reviewed the progress of the Centre’s budgetary capex, implementation of infrastructure projects and asset monetisation plans in a meeting with the ministry of civil aviation and the department of telecommunications, the finance ministry tweeted.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday nudged the department of telecom to expedite digital expansion plans in the north-eastern region and asked the ministry of civil aviation to raise its capital spending target substantially in the next fiscal.

Sitharaman reviewed the progress of the Centre’s budgetary capex, implementation of infrastructure projects and asset monetisation plans in a meeting with the ministry of civil aviation and the department of telecommunications, the finance ministry tweeted.

Importantly, the capex of the telecom department hit just 2% of its FY22 budgetary outlay of `25,934 crore until August. However, the civil aviation ministry has witnessed massive capex this year; against the budgetary allocation of only `41 crore, it has spent `1,884 crore until August. Sitharaman asked the civil aviation ministry “to ensure that more projects are grounded and capex spending in FY23 is substantially higher than the present estimated target”, according to one of the tweets. Both the DoT and the civil aviation ministry saw a change of guard after the Cabinet shuffle in July.

The Budget for FY22 raised the capex target by 30% from a year before, as the government pushed for public capex to reverse a Covid-induced slump in economic growth. The finance ministry has already asked various infrastructure ministries and departments to step up capex and create durable assets.

Since the presentation of the Budget, such expenditure via budget dropped in March, May and July from a year earlier. While the Centre’s capex still rose 28% until August, it was driven substantially by a conducive base. More importantly, for the budgeted goal of `5.54 lakh crore to be realised, the Centre now needs to raise capex sharply in the remaining months of this fiscal, that, too, on an unfavourable base (especially between October 2021 and February 2022). Until August, capex made up for 31% of the full-year target, against 32.6% a year earlier when a pan-India lockdown was in force for much of the first four months.

Chief economic adviser KV Subramanian had earlier said capex had a high multiplier of 4.5, against less than 1 in even well-directed revenue spending.

India on track to meet Paris Agreement goals, says FM Sitharaman

Source: Business Standards, 19 August 2021

India is among a few Group of Twenty (G20) countries on track towards United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Paris Agreement goals and has taken decisive actions to tackle climate change, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday.

The minister, in a meeting with Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) president-designate Alok Sharma, said the government is taking concrete steps and at appreciable speed to meet its commitments on the target of 450 gigawatt (Gw) of renewable energy by 2030.

She also said 100 Gw of this renewable energy had already been achieved.

Among other important initiatives, she mentioned the extensive work done on the Hydrogen Energy Mission.

Sharma became the second international leader, after US climate change envoy John Kerry, to laud India’s climate change commitments, including the progressive shift from coal to renewable energy.

“I met Prime Minister Modi the last time I was here and we discussed a range of issues from biodiversity to nature. He (Modi) cares deeply about climate change issues,” said Sharma, speaking to a small group of reporters at the end of his visit to New Delhi.

The British-Indian climate minister is leading preparations for the COP26 to be held in Glasgow in November, this year.

During this visit, he met Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, Power Minister R K Singh, and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal.

“I have visited most countries around the world, but India is the only country I have visited twice: simply because it is an incredibly important business economy,” he said.

Sharma conceded that the $100-billion mitigation fund for developed countries, promised in 2009 and yet to materialise, was a matter of concern. “I went to Germany and raised this matter in Berlin, as well as in Canada. This (fund) is a matter of trust,” he said.

Sharma especially emphasised the importance of private finance in developing technologies to mitigate the effects of climate change. The UK, he said, was the world’s biggest offshore wind power generator in the world. It had done so by auctioning wind power to the private sector.

“Every country has different strategies with a different energy mix. India is in the process of retiring coal, and the unit prices of renewables are coming down significantly,” he said.

The UK and India are already collaborating on developing technologies for renewable storage.

Sharma hoped the Glasgow meeting would lead to a consensus on limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, this is only possible if India commits to a net-zero target by 2050.

“We have no time to waste. The recent IPCC report represents a flashing red on the climate emergency dashboard. But, the report also said that the door is still open on keeping global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, but we need to act now. Minister Bhupender Yadav and I reviewed the issues that were raised at the July ministerial meeting and we agreed to continue to cooperate very closely together to ensure COP26 keeps 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach,” said Sharma.

But earlier this year, at the IEA-COP26 Net Zero Summit in March, Power Minister R K Singh described net-zero targets as a “pie in the sky”, questioning the actual levels of activity under way to achieve this.

At a recent climate change meeting of the G20 countries in Naples, India refused to endorse the communiqué issued after the meeting, recording its dissent in a footnote. The minister did not attend a subsequent meeting in London, but Sharma said the presence of the chief negotiator added to the “spirit of cooperation”.

There is international pressure on India – the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world – as developed nations set greater ambitious targets. The Biden administration has announced it will reduce emissions by 50-52 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This was followed by a raft of enhanced 2030-35 targets from the European Union, the UK, and Japan. With each more ambitious emissions reduction proposal, pressure ratchets up on those countries yet to announce targets, including India.

But soon after these announcements, former Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar pointed out that the country’s per capita carbon emissions remain among the lowest globally. India’s position is that on an emission-intensity basis – specifically emission reductions based on gross domestic product per capita – it is the only major economy on track to meet or even exceed the Paris targets. This is partly due to its rapid expansion of renewable power.

Besides, India’s concerns are different: employment, health care, and the expansion of basic services, such as electricity.

For Britain, a successful outcome of the COP26 will be a test of its diplomacy. India is a key element in realising that goal.

Sharma underlined this when he said: “When the UK took on the COP26 Presidency, less than 30 per cent of the global economy was covered by a net-zero target – we’re now at 70 per cent and will continue asking all countries to come forward. I’m encouraged by the progress that we’re making and I’m looking forward to working closely with India and other partners to achieve success at COP26.”

Indian smart cities can become lighthouses for world, says London School of Economics

Source : Economic Times 2 June 2017

NEW DELHI: The Centre’s flagship initiative Smart City Mission has got its first international affirmation, as a London School of Economics study has praised the government’s effort, saying Indian smart cities could become lighthouses for other cities around the world.

Two years after the Narendra Modi-led government launched the mission to smarten up 98 cities by promoting economic growth and improved governance, the study has commended the programme. The London School of Economics study was conducted after the first set of 20 cities were chosen in January 2016 through a competitive process to initiate the mission. The research examined the proposals of each city and conducted stakeholder interviews to gauge the selection process and the quality of the mission. The Smart Cities Challenge, which was the first time Indiaused an open national competitive framework to distribute funding to local governments for urban development, has been termed as “the most innovative aspect of the Mission”.

The study praises the innovative and transparent manner in which the challenge was conducted, stating the process encouraged new thinking amongst local leaders and encouraged them to “perform well under pressure” and “work across departments”.

Iran becomes India’s 3rd largest oil supplier

Source:, Feb 15, 2017

New Delhi: Iran has zipped past the likes of Venezuela and Nigeria to become India’s third largest oil supplier as easing western sanctions enabled Indian companies to increase purchases from that country.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq continue to be ahead of Iran, which was sixth biggest supplier of crude oil to India in 2015-16. It has overtaken Venezuela, Nigeria and UAE to become India’s third largest supplier in April-December period of 2016-17.

Iran sold 19.8 million tonne crude oil to India in the first nine months of the current fiscal, officials said. This is behind Saudi Arabia’s 30.3 MT and 29.1 MT sourced from Iraq. In full 2015-16 fiscal, Iran had supplied 12.7 MT crude oil to India. That year Saudi Arabia had sold 40.4 MT oil to India with Iraq chipping in 26.8 MT. Venezuela supplied 23.6 MT, Nigeria 23.4 MT and UAE 15.7 MT.

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Source: World Economic Forum


Core sector records highest growth since September

Production growth in the six core infrastructure industries during March 2009 stood at 2.9 per cent, the highest since September 2008, indicating some amount of recovery in the Indian economy during the month under consideration. However, compared to the same month in 2008, the core sector registered a flat expansion.

The better than expected core sector numbers this March are likely to cushion the fall in Index of Industrial Production, as it constitutes 27 per cent of the index. IIP had contracted 1.2 per cent in February 2009, the most in about two decades.

In the April-March period of 2008-09, the sector grew 2.7 per cent, compared to 5.9 per cent in the year-ago period.

“The IIP could see some low-positive growth in the month under consideration. But the pain in the economy is far from over,” said a Mumbai-based economist with a leading bank on condition of anonymity.

Compared to the previous months, core sector growth in March was better due to higher output of cement and electricity, which was supported by the coal and petroleum products sectors. However, crude and finished carbon steel output contracted, compared to the year-ago month, pulling down the overall growth rate of the core sector.

Core sector growth

(Growth %)

(Growth %)





































Economists maintain that monthly numbers are not sufficient to arrive at a conclusion on the health of the economy, but added that the next few months may see better times. “Recent numbers suggest that from here on, we may see some positive but tepid growth,” said Shubhada Rao, chief economist, YES Bank.

Index of six core infrastructure industries, March 2009

Weight in
IIP (%)





Crude oil






refinery products
























Finished steel












Source: Ministry of Commerce and Industry

Significantly, steel output has increased 10 per cent from the previous month. In fact, in absolute terms, steel output in the month under consideration was the highest in 12 months and stood at 4,837,000 tonnes. This indicates that the contraction in output of this key construction input was due to statistical reasons rather than a muted demand.

Cement output growth was at a 13-month high, indicating demand from infrastructure projects, as most housing construction activity remains muted. However, it remains to be seen if the economy is able to absorb the 50 million tonnes of additional cement capacity scheduled to be added in 2009-10.

Source: The Business Standard 30/04/09

Bangalore emerges as the best city for expatriates

Bangalore has emerged as the best Indian city among New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai in terms of better quality of living for expatriates, according to a latest worldwide survey of cities by global HR consultancy Mercer.

According to Mercer survey , ‘2009 quality of living global city rankings’ for 215 cities, Bangalore has topped the list among Indian cities, while the country’s financial hub Mumbai has witnessed a drop in rankings this year mainly due to a decline in stability and security conditions.

Unfortunately, Indian cities do not fare well as compared to their global peers as the list is topped by Vienna in Austria followed by Switzerland’s Zurich (2nd), Geneva (3rd), Canadian city Vancouver and New Zealand’s Auckland have been ranked at the 4th place.

Among Indian cities, Bangalore has been ranked at the 142nd place this year, down two notches from last year, while Mumbai has been dropped to the 148th place from 142 position last year, the survey revealed.

However, New Delhi has managed to maintain the same rank this year at the 145th place in the global list, while Chennai has been ranked at the 152nd place, the survey revealed.

Mercer’s worldwide 215-city quality of living survey, is primarily conducted to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments.

Meanwhile, Singapore has emerged as the best Asian city in terms of quality of living, ranked at 26th position in the global list followed by Tokyo at 35. Further, Baghdad is at the bottom of the rankings at the 215th place.

“When you relocate executives from one country to another you need clear and objective information establishing quality of living differences between cities. Some are perceived to be safer, while others provide entertainment activities or more comprehensive medical services,” Mercer’s information product solutions India business leader Gangapriya Chakraverti said.

The Mercer quality of living report aims to provide tangible values for such qualitative perceptions, in order to establish an effective and objective assessment of the quality of living throughout the world, Chakraverti added.
Interestingly, this year’s rankings also identify cities with best infrastructure based on electricity supply, water availability, telephone and mail services, traffic congestion and the range of international flights from local airports.

“As a result of current financial crisis, multinational companies are looking to review their international assignment policies with a view to cutting costs,” Mercer consulting India global mobility leader Rupam Mishra said.

Source: The Economic Times 29/04/09


India emerges as the third biggest equity market in emerging Asia

According to the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) ‘Asia Capital Markets Monitor’ report, the Indian equity market has emerged as the third biggest after China and Hong Kong in the emerging Asian region, with a market capitalisation of nearly US$ 600 billion.

As per the report, the combined market capitalisation of all the equity markets in the emerging Asia region stood at US$ 5,770 billion at end of March 2009.

The Indian equity market’s capitalisation at the end of March 2009 stood at US$ 598.3 billion, which accounts for about one-tenth of the combined valuation of the entire emerging Asia region.

Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of China has topped the chart with a marketcap of US$ 2,347.4 billion, followed by Hong Kong with US$1,293.7 billion, reveals the data compiled in the ADB report.

Source: IBEF 23/04/09


UNIDO finds India among top 12 manufacturers

United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) found that the share of developing countries in the world’s manufacturing value-added output has almost doubled in the last 18 years due to the shift of production units and outsourcing of services from developed nations.

Unido in the International Yearbook of Industrial Statistics 2009 stated that developing countries produced almost 30% of world manufacturing value added (MVA) at the end of 2008 as compared to 16% in 1990. The per capita MVA doubled as early as 2006, while the industrialised world achieved merely 30% increase, it added.

Among developing countries, those in Asia account for nearly ¾ of the total MVA. China alone produces 42% of MVA among all developing countries.

For India, the growth rate of MVA output rose from 6.9% in 2000-2005 to 12.3% in 2005-2007. The MVA per capita grew 10.6 % in 2005-2007 compared to 5.2% in 2000-2005. The share of MVA in India’s gross domestic product (GDP) stood at 14.8% in 2006 compared to 13.8% in 2001, Unido stated in the yearbook. Manufacturing still contributes around 15% of GDP of the country.

According to Unido analysis based on 2007 figures, India ranks among the top 12 producers of MVA. In textiles, the country is ranked fourth, after China, USA and Italy; while in electrical machinery and apparatus it is ranked fifth. It holds sixth position in the basic metals category; seventh in chemicals and chemical products; 10th in leather, leather products, refined petroleum products and nuclear fuel; twelfth in machinery and equipment and motor vehicles.

Among industrialised countries, Japan accounts for most MVA per capita, followed by Switzerland, Singapore, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, USA, Germany and Austria. Luxemburg, Republic of Korea, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Belgium, United Kingdom, Norway, Netherlands, Italy and France come lower down the list.

“Although in most industrialised countries, the share of manufacturing is decreasing due to the increasing role of service sectors and outsourcing of production activities abroad mainly to developing countries, manufacturing still accounts for more than 20% of the GDP of Japan, compared to the 17 % average for all industrialised countries,” Unido said in the 15th publication of the yearbook.

The organisation said production of information and communication technology products has strengthened the performance of relatively smaller economies like Singapore, Ireland and Finland. “As a result, they have outperformed relatively larger economies such as the USA, Germany, Canada and France,” the yearbook stated.

Source: The Financial Express 08/04/09