• According to India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra), the Union government’s focus on
    the build-own-operate model of road construction may “adversely” impact the revenue
    visibility of construction players operating in the road segment in the medium term.
  • Coupled with the NHAI’s plan to return to privatisation of roads by reverting to the BOT
    model can adversely impact bidding participation from private players, given their
    limited appetite and lenders’ risk averse approach, the ratings agency said in its latest
    report. BOT would reduce dependence on the NHAI’s own funding, thereby reducing
    stress on its balance sheet.
  • Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Mr Nitin Gadkari at the 100-day press
    conference in Mumbai on Monday said NHAI was in a comfortable position and it would
    go ahead with its fund-raising plans. The minister also said the officer who posted
    PMO’s letter on social media has been suspended. PMO had circulated the letter to
    nine departments and we also received that report. One of our ministry officials posted
    it on social media, we have suspended him, Gadkari told reporters.
  • The road ministry has suggested that part of the planned funding could be invested in
    the SPV being set up by NHAI and NIIF and funds could be utilised for construction of
    expressways under the Bharatmala scheme.
  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has sought bids for a new bundle of
    highway projects on the Toll-Operate-Transfer (ToT) model as India’s highway
    development agency press ahead with an aggressive asset monetization plan to fund
    road projects. NHAI is looking to raise ₹84,800 crore by offering 6,165 km of highways
    under ToT by 2024, each involving a ticket price of about $1 billion with a 30-year
    concession period.
  • The third bundle of ToT involves 566 km of highways spread across Uttar Pradesh,
    Tamil Nadu and Bihar for which NHAI has set a reserve price of ₹4,994 crore. Potential
    investors have time until September 30 to offer price quotations. The reserve price for
    the third bundle is lower than the first round where the projects offered had a higher toll
    revenue.
  • Mr Ashish Sharma, Member (Finance), NHAI, during a road show in Mumbai on
    Monday said that we are planning two bundles this year; every year and will roll out the
    bundles in a staggered manner to reach 6,165 km of highways under ToT. The total
    money which we are expecting from this exercise is ₹84,800 crore which is part of the
    overall financing plans for Bharatmala.
  • Besides, 43% of the highway bundle in the third round is under annuity, so the
    maintenance obligation is already on the annuity concessionaire. Four projects in the
    third bundle are on annuity while five are on EPC.

 

  • The government is contemplating a revamp of the Department of Commerce and
    certain incentive schemes that fall under it, as it aims at administrative easing to boost
    exports and domestic manufacturing.
  • The commerce and industry ministry and finance ministry are discussing the idea of
    bringing the new exports incentives scheme Rebate of State and Central Taxes and
    Levies (RoSCTL) as well as the existing Advance Authorisation Scheme, within the
    remit of the drawback committee under the revenue department, said people aware of
    the matter.
  • An official said that there is a feeling that making the revenue department solely
    responsible for these schemes will help in ease of doing business and reduce
    transaction time for exporters. The restructuring plan comes in the wake of 0.37%
    decline in outward shipments in April-July to $107.41 billion, while imports contracted
    3.63% to $166.8 billion. Separately, the government has also discussed putting the
    external affairs ministry in charge of India’s trade negotiations, which at present is the
    core function of the commerce department.
  • The government has made it compulsory for importers to register themselves with Steel
    Import Monitoring System (SIMS) to be able to import two hundred odd iron and steel
    products including certain flat-rolled products; some stranded wire, ropes, cables;
    certain items of springs and leaves for springs of iron and steel; tubes, pipes and
    hollow profiles; diesel-electric locomotives; and some parts of railways.
  • The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), under the commerce and industry
    ministry has said that “import policy” for these 215 items “has been revised from ‘free’
    to ‘free’ subject to compulsory registration under SIMS”. The importer will have to enter
    the registration number and expiry date of registration in the bill of entry to enable
    customs to clear consignment. The online registration will be available from September
    16 this year.
  • SIMS, which collects and publishes data of steel mill product imports, will require
    importers to submit advance information in an online system for import of these items
    and obtain an automatic registration number by paying specified amount of fee. It will
    also protect the domestic industry and help in taking anti-dumping actions,” the official
    added. ..
  • The Centre has got into a mission rethink mode to speed up the implementation of
    projects under the Smart City Mission.
  • In the fifth and final year of ‘Smart City Mission’, the Centre has set a new target
    Mission Rs 2 lakh crore. With the current trajectory of project tendering and completion,
    the government would have awarded contracts till 2022.
  • As the mission would complete five years on June 25, 2020, the Rs 2 -lakh-crore target
    would involve completely turning around the mission. A senior official said, this batch
    has got the maximum time under the mission about 3.6 years. Now, keeping a close
    track of how these cities are faring.
  • The ministry has created a live dashboard, housed in the National Urban Observatory
    in Nirman Bhawan. This would help keep track of live updates from the smart cities’
    progress. The ministry has also decided to hold regional conferences to involve
    startups and use their innovation.
  • The government is in the process of rolling out a new tariff policy and UDAY 2.0 to
    address the issue of losses of discoms, which is the “only difficulty” in ensuring round
    the clock electricity supply for all, Power Minister R K Singh said.
  • According to the PRAAPTI portal, the total outstanding of the  discoms  to gencos as of July this year stood at Rs 73,425 crore, including the overdue amount of Rs 55,276
    crore. The dues to  discoms  become overdue after 60 days of non-payment of the bill,
    allowing gencos charge penal interest on that.
  • “There is a capacity to transfer (supply) any quantum (of power). No reason why 24X7
    power cannot be given. The only difficulty in this (24X7 power for All) is losses to some
    distribution utilities. They don’t have money to pay for power,” Singh said.