• Manufacturers of rail equipment have welcomed the GST Council’s decision to raise GST on rail equipment such as wagons, coaches and rolling stock to 12% from 5%. Metro rail coach-makers are also set to get a similar push.
  • The move will increase the competitiveness of the products made in India, said Alstom, Bombardier, Wabtec, and other rail-equipment makers.
  • “The announcement to increase GST rate from 5 to 12% on rail goods reinstates the government’s intention to bring the (Indian rail) industry back on track,” said Anand Chidambaram, Chairman, Rail Transportation and Equipment Division, Confederation of Indian Industry.
  • The reduction in corporate tax announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman could help the top 1,000 listed companies in the country save at least ₹37,000 crore this fiscal year.
  • Segments linked to the consumer will benefit the most given higher effective tax rates of over 30%. Export-linked sectors such as IT and pharma, on the other hand, will benefit the least, accounting for only 5-6% of potential savings.
  • India’s coal import declined by 3.7% to 18.93 million tonnes in July 2019 from 19.67 million tonnes in July 2018.
  • During the period April-July 2019, the import of thermal coal was up by 13.4% to 60.97 million tonnes, against 53.76 million tonnes in the corresponding period of last year. The import of coking coal during April-July 2019 was 17.73 million tonnes,  slightly higher than 17.25 million tonnes imported during the corresponding period of last year.
  • The Indian cement sector continues to see slow demand growth. Overall capacity utilisation touched 70% in FY19, though the key regions of south/north are still below 50%/60%.
  • Overall demand growth is likely to be weak as following drivers seem to be losing momentum:
    • Weak rural income growth and peaking of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) scheme;
    • Slow growth in infrastructure spend; 
    • Urban housing is still in inventory correction mode, and
    • Industrial investment has again lost momentum.
  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will try out project-based funding for building highways under the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) route as India’s highway development agency looks at newer ways to take debt off its balance sheet.
  • Project based funding refers to long-term financing of infrastructure projects based on its projected cash flows rather than the balance sheet of its sponsor. The financing is typically secured by all of the project assets, including the revenue streams.
  • Aiming to boost India’s mineral output by 200% in the next seven years, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi said about Rs 1,500 crore lying in exploration trust, could be used for accelerating this work. 
  • He said the mining industry is undergoing reforms through transformative investor friendly interventions like the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act 2015 that introduced transparent and competitive auction process for grant of mineral concessions besides setting up of National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) to accelerate mineral exploration activity. 
  • “Mining sector has a pivotal role to play in the ‘Make in India’ vision of the Prime Minister. Growth of economy is dependent on uninterrupted supply of minerals, which form the basic raw materials for industry. The Government aims to increase mineral production (in value terms) by 200% in 7 years,” the Minister said.