The Economic Times, Business Standard , 13 May 2019
According to FICCI’s quarterly survey, overall capacity utilisation of the manufacturing sector, which was hovering at 75% for last many quarters, rose to 80% in the fourth quarter. This was due to higher output growth (around 54%) during the third and fourth quarter of 2018-19.
Hiring scenario will improve further from 37.5% in Q4 of 2018-19.
FICCI’s survey assessed manufacturers in 12 major sectors namely automotive, capital goods, cement and ceramics, chemicals, textiles, leather and footwear, metal and metal products, fertilisers and pharmaceuticals, and others.
The survey assessed 300 manufacturing units from both large and SME segments with a combined annual turnover of over Rs 3.56 lakh crore.
Survey indicates that the cost of production as a percentage of sales has risen – primarily on account of increased cost of raw materials, wages, power cost, rising crude oil prices, increase in finance cost and rupee depreciation. It also reported plans for capacity additions for the next six months
• Visakhapatnam port is all set to increase its present capacity 127 MMTPA to 145 MMTPA in the next two years after the completion of ongoing projects.
• The port handled 65.30 million tonnes of cargo in 2018-19 as against 63.54 million tonnes during 2017-18. For the past three years, the port’s cargo has been growing by 5% in spite of competition from neighbouring private ports.
• A cruise terminal was also sanctioned for the port and the infrastructure in and around the port was being developed under the Sagarmala project and other projects. A bright future lies ahead of Visakhapatnam port
• Visakhapatnam was now adjudged the third cleanest port in the country. It is the only port running entirely on solar energy and have got the green port award.
On Thursday (May 9, 2019), the Indian rupee depreciated by 23 paise to settle at 69.94 against US dollar on account of the following factors:
• subdued global cues;
• rise in crude oil prices;
• unabated foreign fund outflows; and
• simmering US-China trade tensions.
According to the GST Council, Real estate developers will have 10 more days to decide on whether or not to migrate to the new lower tax regime. The date has been extended to May 20 from May 10.
The developers have been given a one-time option to continue with the existing slabs (effective rate of 12% for regular and 5% for affordable housing) or switch to the new slabs (5% for non-affordable and 1% for affordable housing) for under-construction or ongoing projects. If the option is not exercised, by default the new rate will be applicable, but without input tax credit.
The mining sector has pitched for freeing unused mineral land reserved for government-owned PSUs where no mining activity has commenced. In 1988, an amendment was effected in Mines and Minerals- Development & Regulation (MMDR) Act which allowed reservations for PSUs but not without the prior approval of the central government.
As per Rule 58 of Mineral Concession Rules 1960, a certain track of mineral bearing land was reserved for exclusive use of the state governments. By virtue of a notification, the governments could reserve lands for PSUs. However, where there is no trace of mining activity in the reserved land has evoked resentment from the mining sector.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), an industry body, in its recent submission to NITI Aayog has asked for a 60 day notification to be released by the centre declaring de-reservation of such area and made it open for auction by the state.
FICCI feels that for reservations in the future, the Government of India should hold public consultations before granting approvals. Such reservations, should be valid for five years to enable mining extraction to start, else the notification can be cancelled with the land standing de-reserved.