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650 India Post Payments Bank branches to start by May: Sinha

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Bhopal: Union Minister of State for Communications Manoj Sinha said that as many as 650 branches of the India Post payments bank are likely to be operational across the country by next month.
He said that the work of system integration of the payments bank had been completed and processes mandated by the Reserve Bank of India would be completed within one week.
“It is likely that 650 branches of the India Post payments bank would start functioning from May,” he said at a press conference here.
The minister said that the launch of the postal department’s payments bank would enable more than 1.5 lakh post offices to become access points for people to avail banking services, adding that it would help the government’s plans of financial inclusion and direct transfer of benefits in remote areas.
India Post had received permission from the RBI to start a payments bank in January last year, following which it set up two branches, on a pilot basis, at Raipur and Ranchi.
He said that a new regional office of the postal department would be opened in Jabalpur in the state.
He said that India Post had been adopting new technology in a bid to provide services at a faster pace and, as part of it, postmen were being provided with smart phones and hand held devices.
“So far, 15,000 such devices have been distributed to postmen in the country. Soon 40,000 postal workers will have such devices. This would enable faster delivery of all kinds of services,” he said.
Admitting that India Post’s parcel services were lagging behind due to the presence of private players, he said that a Parcel Directorate had been formed in the postal department to give a boost to this segment.
He expressed hope that the postal department would soon be self-reliant as far as revenue was concerned.
Speaking about milestones achieved by his department in the past one year, Sinha said, “A total of 62,000 out of 1.29 lakh post offices were networked under the Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for a New India (DARPAN) project. New technology enabled services are being offered in rural areas through hand held devices,” he said.
He said that over seven lakh passport applications had been processed through 187 passport seva kendras (PSK) operating out of post offices.
The minister, who holds independent charge of the ministry of communications, was in the city to address a India Post conference being attended by senior officials including Postal Services Board members, the Director General (Posts) and Secretary (Posts).
The conference is to review the department’s performance in the past year.


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Cabinet clears setting up of centralised GST appellate authority

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New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved setting up of a centralised Appellate Authority for Advance Ruling (AAAR) under the goods and services tax that would decide on cases where there are divergent orders at the state level.

The setting up of a centralised AAAR would require amendments to the GST Acts. The centralised authority as an appellate body will only take up cases wherein the Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR) of two states have passed divergent orders.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and comprising state counterparts, in December decided to establish the centralised AAAR.

 

“The Cabinet has cleared the GST appellate authority,” a source said after the meeting of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In view of the confusion created by contradictory rulings given by different AARs on the same or similar issues, the industry had been demanding a centralised appellate authority that could reconcile the contradictory verdicts of different AARs.

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Urbanisation to be big driver of Indian economic growth: Kant

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Davos: Urbanisation will be a big driver of economic growth in India going forward, supported by favourable macroeconomic factors, accelerated infrastructure building and continuing reforms, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said.

Speaking here at an event on sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, he also said the Indian economy may even exceed the IMF growth forecast of 7.5 per cent for the country.

Kant said IMF has forecast 7.5 per cent growth for India despite a gloomy outlook for the global economy and this itself is good, though there are expectations that this estimate would be surpassed. He said India is giving a big push to urbanisation with more than 100 smart cities being developed.

 

The country is also using technology in a big way to change the way business and governance is done, he added. Besides a massive infrastructure building is happening, bank credit flow has rebounded and macroeconomic factors like inflation and fiscal deficit are also being supportive, Kant said.

DIPP Secretary Ramesh Abhishek noted that states are competing with each other to attract investments and all political parties have adopted the economic reform process. He listed various reform initiatives undertaken in India, including on areas like ease of doing business, FDI, manufacturing and taxation.

They were speaking at Institutional investors’ breakfast roundtable, organised by the industry chamber CII and Kotak Mahindra Bank. Other participants included CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee and leaders from Indian and foreign companies.

On questions about some persisting issues in doing business including on tax and insolvency related issues, Abhishek said a lot of efforts have been put in to remove all bottlenecks and starting a business doesn’t take more than a day. Besides, special provisions have been made for startups and angel investors, he added.

Kant said efforts are also being made to remove all physical intervention and digitise the entire process of inter-ministerial and inter-department consultations to fast-track the decisions.

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India will surpass China, says Raghuram Rajan

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Davos: India will eventually surpass China in economic size and will be in a better position to create the infrastructure being promised by the Chinese side in South Asian countries, former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said.

Addressing a session on Strategic Outlook for South Asia, Dr Rajan said that the Indian economy would continue to grow while growth rate is slowing down in China.

“Historically, India had a bigger role in the region but China has now grown much bigger than India and has presented itself as a counter-balance to India in the region,” Dr Rajan said at the WEF Annual Meeting 2019.

 

“India will become bigger than China eventually as China would slow down and India would continue to grow. So India will be in a better position to create the infrastructure in the region which China is promising today. But this competition is good for the region and it will benefit for sure,” he said.

The comments assume significance with China working on a lot of infrastructure projects across the region. In 2017, India became the sixth largest economy with a GDP of $2.59 trillion while China was the second large with a GDP of $12.23 trillion.

At the same session, Nepal PM K.P. Sharma Oli cited collaboration with China as well as India as reasons for the economic growth.

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