Regulations
Panel set up to recommend PPP model revision
The government on Tuesday set up a committee to recommend measures to "revisit and revitalise" the public-private partnership (PPP) mode of infrastructure development as union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his budget speech, a statement said.
 
The committee will be headed by National Institute of Public Finance and Policy chairman and former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar and will comprise of members from banks, transport authorities, economists, lawyers and others.
 
The Infrastructure Development Finance Company will be providing secretarial assistance to the committee, which will analyse the risks involved in PPP projects in different sectors to suggest optimal risk sharing mechanism and propose any modifications to the contractual arrangements in place.
 
Its functions will also include recommending measures to improve capacity building in the government for effective implementation of PPP projects and review the experience of the policy.
 
The minister, in his budget 2015-16 speech to the parliament said the major issue involved in the revision of the PPP model is rebalancing of risk.
 
The government has given the power to the committee to consult various stake holders in the private sector, government sector, legal experts, banking and financial institutions and academia while firming up its recommendations. It has to submit its report within three months of being st up.
 

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A dormitory for ladies at Bengaluru railway station
The South Western Railway (SWR) here on Tuesday opened a dormitory exclusively for transit halt of lady passengers at the city's main station.
 
Touted to be the country's first such amenity for women passengers, the dormitory with 16 cubicles on the first floor of the station's city building has been carved out of the 30-bed dormitory common for men and families.
 
"We have decided to provide a separate dormitory at the city station for lady passengers in response to such a demand from them online and offline," SWR general manager P.S. Saxena told IANS here on the occasion.
 
The dormitory will be manned by women staff and housekeeping by women attendants.
 
"Besides a bed, a small table, a chair and a locker, the dormitory has a common washroom and an attendant for help or service," the official said.
 
To ensure safety and security of women passengers, a sentry will be on duty in two shifts and a closed circuit TV camera in and around the dormitory will monitor movement of commuters and others.
 
A cubicle will be charged Rs.125 for 12 hours and Rs.200 for 24 hours. Accommodation will be available on first-come, first-served basis and stay can be extended by 12 or 24 hours subject to availability.
 
The cubicle can be taken on arrival at the station or booked in advance online system after making train reservation to the city station.
 
"We will assess response for 90 days and decide to continue the all-women dormitory. We will expand capacity if demand is high and reduce cubicles if not many takers for it," Saxena noted.
 
Being among the 200 A-1 class stations in 68 divisions across the country, the Bengaluru main station in the city centre is one of the busiest, operating about 70 trains to ferry over a lakh passengers daily.
 
"Several women passengers from other parts of Karnataka and outside the state travel in train to the city on short visits for various reasons, ranging from work, studies, tourism or transit halt to changing trains. 
 
"As the station is centrally located and much safer, a dormitory is a secure place for them to stay," Saxena added.

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Growth not picked up as expected: Arvind Subramanian
India's economic growth did not pick up as much as people expected as a result of government action, the government's Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian said on Tuesday.
 
Reeling out facts and figures on the performance of the NDA government during its first year, Subramanian told reporters here that people were judging the rulers by outcome and not effort.
 
"Going forward, people will judge us on economic growth, which will be the focus of our next course of action," he said.
 
Admitting that the controversy over the Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT) had hurt the government's image, the adviser said it would not be imposed again as the government has learnt from its mistake.
 
Observing that the government could have done much more in its first year, Subramanian said the number of stuck projects was coming down but there was not much pick-up in new projects.
 
"In one year, more could have been done but I think structural reforms agenda has been substantial.Reduction in corruption is visible, as evident from a clean and transparent auction of coal and spectrum; liberalisation of gold import regime, and reducing rents intrinsic to quantitative restrictions," he said.
 
Achievements during the year gone by included cooperative and competitive federalism by adopting the 14th Finance Commission's recommendations and creating Niti Aayog in place of Planning Commission, he said.
 
"The government is close to securing political agreement to launch the game-changing Goods and Services Taxes (GST) regime from next fiscal," he said.
 
Referring to the creation of 150 million Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan accounts since August 2014 for financial inclusion, he said similarly initiating a comprehensive social security through pension, life insurance and accident schemes reflected the government's commitment to growth with equity.
 
"As the macro-economic situation has seen a massive turnaround, more can be done in the next 18 months, while 'Make in India' will be a long-term strategy to make the country's economy competitive," he said.
 
Noting that structural reforms would take time to influence growth, the former IMF economist said that policy support was crucial over short run, especially for consumption and public and private investments.
 
On the flip side, private investment continued to be weak as a legacy of the boom period, while declining exports was a cause for concern, as merchandise trade was yet to recover.
 
"We also need to find ways of relieving the distress in rural incomes. MNREGA, crop insurance, minimum support price will help improve farmers' income," Subramanian noted.
 
He cautioned that interest rate cuts in China and elsewhere would make Indian exports and manufacturing uncompetitive.

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