In a move that will attract more overseas inflows and
improve the ease of doing business in India, the government on Thursday
simplified foreign investment rules by bringing together different
The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired
by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, introduced a composite cap for all kinds of
overseas inflows, including foreign direct investment (FDI), foreign
portfolio investment (FPI) and investments by non-resident Indians (NRIs).
The decision, which was first announced by finance
minister Arun Jaitley in the Budget, boosted stocks of banks, which will now
find it easier to attract foreign capital up to 74%. Banks are already
reeling under the pressure of rising bad loans and need billions of dollars
to meet capital requirements.
Besides banks, credit information firms, commodity and
power exchanges, and defence and other retail companies among others, will
also benefit from the policy.
India’s maiden bullet train corridor between Mumbai and
Ahmedabad will cost nearly Rs one lakh crore and the first train can run in
2024 if work begins in 2017, according to a final feasibility report on the
project prepared by the Japanese governmental agency.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency(JICA) in its
report submitted to the Railway Ministy today envisages a reduction in the
travel time on the 505-km long corridor between the two western cities to
two hours from the existing over seven hours.
The report estimates that the project where the bullet
train will run at a speed of over 300 km per hour will cost Rs 98,805 crore.
It also suggested that the train fare could be higher than that charged for
First AC of Rajdhani Express, a senior rail ministry official involved with
the project said.
Railways will examine the report and decide the future
course of action, the official said.
As a follow-up action, a Cabinet note seeking approval
for the project with an outline of the project feasibility and timelines is
likely to be prepared next month.
If work begins in 2017, the line can be completed in 2023
and made operational in 2024, it is projected.
After the study of the financial feasibility of the line,
the final report suggests the fare of the bullet train between Mumbai and
Ahmedabad may be somewhere around one and half times more than the fare of
the first AC of Rajdhani Express and it would be around Rs 2,800.
It is estimated that by 2023 around 40,000 passengers are
expected to avail this service everyday and accordingly it would be a
financially viable service.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor is expected to enable
trains to run at a top speed of 350kmph.
From the initial estimated cost of Rs 65,000 crore, it
has gone up after taking into account various factors like price escalation
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has
named Vodafone, Idea, Reliance and Airtel among the cell phone service
providers failing to meet the quality of service norms in Delhi or Mumbai,
especially on mobile call drops.
The audit, done by an independent agency in the two
metros, on behalf of the regulator, found that Tata (CDMA) in Delhi and
Bharti Airtel in Mumbai are the only service providers meeting the benchmark
of less than 2 per cent call drops.
In Delhi, the highest call drop rate was that of Reliance
(17.29 per cent), followed by Airtel (8.04 per cent), Aircel (5.18 per
cent), Vodafone (4.28 per cent) and Idea (2.84 per cent). The call drop rate
for Tata (CDMA) stood at 0.84 per cent.
The situation is no better in Mumbai with Idea
registering the highest call drop rate of 5.56 per cent, followed by Tata (GSM)
(5.51 per cent), Vodafone (4.83 per cent), Aircel (3.19 per cent) and
Reliance (2.29 per cent). For Airtel, this was 0.97 per cent.
The TRAI said the drive was conducted in view of
complaints on call drops and other network issues on June 23 and June 24 in
Mumbai and July 9 to 11 in Delhi.
As per the audit report, barring Tata (CDMA) in Delhi,
none of the service providers in Delhi and Mumbai, meets the benchmark for
Rx Quality, which measures voice quality during calls.
The number of call drop complaints by mobile phone
subscribers has been on the rise, especially in metros. However, operators,
on their part, have cited lack of spectrum and delay in its allocation as
one of the reasons for network-related issues along with hurdles in
installing mobile towers due to radiation issues.
The TRAI report points out that during the last six
months around 801 sites in Mumbai and 523 sites in Delhi were shut down due
to reasons such as sealing of sites by municipal authorities and
radiation-related issues. The closure of each site impacts three to four
neighbouring sites and this may lead to increased call drops.
Oil prices slipped, on Wednesday, after the American
Petroleum Institute (API), the largest U.S trade association for gas and
oil, published that oil inventories increased by 2.3 million barrels in
West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the most prominent U.S
benchmark for crude oil, fell by 58 cents to $50.28 a barrel for September
deliveries. Brent North Crude for September, the benchmark for European,
African and Middle Eastern crude oil prices, fell 35 cents and was trading
in London at $56.69 a barrel at mid-day.
Oil spot prices in July last year were close to $105 per
barrel, and prices have fallen more than 10 per cent this month alone.
Crude oil prices have fallen in the last year because of
protracted over-supply and weak demand, which is being exacerbated by the
Greek crisis and the Chinese stock market fall as well as an expectation
that the U. S will raise interest rates this year.
Excess supply is expected to persist with the Iran
nuclear deal, which will bring Iran’s oil onto the market in a few months.
The Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC), the
cartel of oil producing nations that includes Iran but is led by rival Saudi
Arabia, announced that it would not cut back on output. The group said that
the oil price dip was likely to be temporary and that demand was likely to
OPEC’s oil output faces challenges and competition from
other energy sources, including U.S shale, as well as internal differences
in opinion, with Iran and other smaller oil producing members requesting a
cut back in supply in light of falling prices.