The Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) is eyeing to sell at least 500 MW power to Bangladesh. DVC is a three-way joint venture of the West Bengal, Jharkhand and Indian governments. Officials from the corporation have stated that at present selling power to Bangladesh is offering better returns than the Indian power market. A proposal has already been sent to the Government of Bangladesh by the corporation. DVC currently has a power surplus of 1200 MW and additionally its new unit in Bokaro, Madhya Pradesh is also going to get commissioned soon. Bangladesh first expressed interest in importing power from India in the year 2013. At that time DVC was not in the picture and the bidding was done by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and the West Bengal Power Development Corporation (WBPDC).
At present India is already supplying 500 MW of power to Bangladesh through the Berhampur-Bheramara grid link. DVC believes that another 500 MW can easily be supplied through the same link and this power will prove to be much cheaper as compared to other alternatives for Bangladesh as well. Bangladesh is deeply interested in importing power from India to meet the existing wide gap between the demand and supply of electricity. The country also wants to get rid of its expensive and highly polluting diesel-fueled power generation units and replace their output with the power obtained from India instead.DVC is currently facing a debt crisis which has halted its plans to become a 10,000 MW power company. The coming to fruition of DVC’s plans will be a win-win for both parties as the corporation will get an opportunity to earn some revenue while Bangladesh will be able to lessen its power deficit at a cheap price.
Bangladesh’s Central Bank received a big jolt when some hackers succeeded in using stolen bank credentials to steal
US $ 81 from its account at the New York Federal Reserve in February 2016. Hackers used the stolen information with hopes to try to steal US $ 1 billion by sending three dozen SWIFT messages. All of their attempts were not successful but they still succeeded in transferring US $ 81 million to four accounts at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. in Manila. Most of this money has already been laundered through the casinos located in Manila, Philippines. However, US $ 30 million out of this amount remains frozen at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.
This case was brought up in the Philippines’ Supreme Court and it has already been proved that the transferred amount of US $ 81 million belongs to Bangladesh Bank. A team from Bangladesh was to visit Philippines in October, 2016 in order to get the process of getting back the frozen US $ 30 million back but the tour was canceled due to some internal reasons. On November 11, 2016 Philippine authorities began the process of handing over $ 15.25 million to Bangladesh. The Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Mr. Abu Hena Mohammad Razee Hassan, who also heads the bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit has stated that he is hopeful in getting back the full US $ 30 million which was frozen before it could be laundered.
On November 12, 2016, India and Bhutan signed a new bilateral trade agreement which will help to enhance trade between the two countries. The agreement is aimed at making trade easier by making improvements in the existing procedures. An official statement issued by the Indian Commerce Ministry stated that this bilateral
agreement will focus on reducing the documentation required and also on adding more exit and entry points for Bhutan’s trade with other countries. It is expected that the signing of this agreement will not only provide a boost to trade but also further strengthen the already wonderfully cordial relations between the two countries.
The agreement was signed by India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister for
Economic Affairs, Bhutan Mr.Tengye Lyonpo Lekey Dorji. A bilateral meeting between Ms. Sitharaman and a high level
Bhutanese delegation led by Mr. Dorji also took place. In this meeting various issues related to bilateral trade, transit
and investment were discussed.The first agreement on trade and commerce between Bhutan and India was signed in 1972 and it has been renewed four times since then. The last agreement was renewed on July 28, 2006 and was valid till July 29, 2016. Its validity was later extended for a period of one year or till the date of coming into force of the new agreement, whichever is earlier.
The signing ceremony of the Exchange of Notes (E/N) for “The Project For Reconstruction Of Bridges On Primary National Highway Number 4” was heldin New Delhi, India on December 16, 2016. In this ceremony, the E/N was signed between the Ambassador of Japan to Bhutan, Mr. Kenji Hiramatsu and the Ambassador of Bhutan to Japan, Mr. Vetsop Namgyel. This project aims to reconstruct bridges on the primary national highway and has a total budget of 2,156 Million Yen.
In a press release issued by the Embassy of Japan, it was stated that the Government of Japan hopes that the Grant Aid will ensure efficient and stable transportation between the two countries which will help to further strengthen the relations of friendship and cooperation between Japan and Bhutan. These two countries are celebrating the 30th anniversary year of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.
India’s Union Railway Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhu laid the foundation of the longest safety rail tunnel in the country on the Jiribam-Tupul- Imphal rail project in Manipur on November 10, 2016.The 111-kmlong Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal new broad gauge railway project was taken up in 2008 and was declared a national project. Until now the longest safety tunnel in India is the
PirPanjal tunnel on the Banihal- Qazigund line which is 11.2 km
long.The safety tunnel of Tunnel Number 12 will be 11.55 km long
which will surpass the PirPanjal Tunnel. On this occasion Mr. Prabhu
also laid the foundation of a station building at Tupul and announced
commencement of work on the second portal of Tunnel Number 12.
The event was held on the parade ground of 1 Manipur Rifles located in Imphal city.
While speaking on the occasion, Mr. Prabhu stressed upon the
commitment of Central Government to provide rail connectivity to the North East. He further stated that North East India has great potential for tourism and the Government of India is making various provisions to improve the infrastructure in the region. Increase in tourism will provide various job opportunities to the people living in the region. The Governor of Manipur, Ms. Najma Heptulla was also present on the occasion and said that the Jiribam – Tupul – Imphal railway project is extremely important as it will provide an alternative means of transport in Manipur state which has a very difficult terrain. She believes that the ease of connectivity provided by the completion of this project will naturally result in the
improvement in the economic state as well. A 12.5-km section from
Jiribam to Dholakhal has already been completed and commissioned
for freight trains in March 2016.
While speaking in Mizoram on November 11, 2016 India’s Railway
Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu stated that the proper
development of railway network in the region will make North East
India a major “destination” instead of being just a transit point as it is
at the moment. This was said during an event held to celebrate the
laying of the foundation stone of the railway station building at Sairang which is located 20 km north of Mizoram’s Capital Aizawl. He said that North East is a resource rich region and railways will play a great part in the proper utilization of these resources that will lead to a lot of development. Mr. Prabhu further stated that railways will not only aid in economic development but it will also act as a catalyst to bring a lot of positive societal change.
A well connected railway network will bring the North Eastern region closer to the rest of India. This will eradicate all the problems related to both tapping of the resources in the region as well as supply of the needed goods. Bamboo is an abundant resource in Mizoram and Mr. Prabhu said that Indian Railways is planning to use more bamboo products made in the state and the North East region as a whole in the Indian railway system in order to give a boost to the potential industry. He also said that all the future railway stations in the country would from now on be constructed by including the local ethos in the design. Mizoram’s Minister of State for Railways Mr. Rajen Gohain was also present at the event and he said
that the new broad gauge line from Bairabi to Sairang was a part of the Indian Railway’s vision to connect all the capitals of North Eastern states through broad gauge line by 2020.
A motor sport event was organized in Meghalaya in November in an attempt to give a boost to adventure tourism in Meghalaya. The event was held in a town named Tura and it was successful in
attracting a lot of adventure sports lovers. This was an initiative of an organization named Tura Motor Sports with the twin objectives of promoting motor sports and tourism as well as highlighting the beauty of the region. The event also hoped to boost up and encourage the local motor drivers. Tura Motor Sports has earlier organized a similar event named ‘Bilgaro Challenge 2016’ and this motor sport event was its second edition. Organized under the initiative of Tura Motor Sports, the second edition of ‘Bilgaro Challenge 2016’, a motor sport event was held to promote motor sport and tourism, besides highlighting the beauty of the region. Many national drivers including the former national champion Mr. Amanpreet Ahluwalia also participated in this two-day event.Mr. Ahluwalia said that he missed the last year’s event but is very happy to participate this time. He praised the organizers for doing a great job and said that he is looking forward to participate next year as well.
The event included two exciting on track events hill climb and sprint in SUV, above and below 1300 cc diesel for both local and outsider drivers. The competition was really tough in the motor racing category but in the end former national champion Mr. Ahluwalia proved his mettle by baggingthe first position with total 50 points. Sandeep Sharma from Delhi bagged the second position with 40 points and Ewelson Lyngdoh from Shillong got the third position
with a total 28 points in SUV class.
The first prize in the diesel category was won by Rocky Sangma from Tura with 43 points won the first prize. Sajad Ahmed from Guwahati won the second prize with 40 points and the third position was won by was won by Thasin Ahmed, also from Guwahati, with 30 points.Sandeep Sharma with 50 points secured the first position
in above 1300cc category, second position by Thinku Marak with 30
points and the third position by Grahambell Sangma with 30 points.
In below 1300cc category Ewelson Lyngdohwon the first position with 43 points, Brandon Bazelely secured the second position with 43 points and Chiborlang Wallang got the third position with 30 points. All the winners were awarded a citation, cash and a trophy.
Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and Assam Tourism Development Corporation are going start a project from February 2017. This project will provide tourists an opportunity to enjoy the comfort of a semi-luxury train along with the thrill of safaris into the wilderness of Assam. This is a dream project for Assam tourism and as it begins, the Assam Safari Express would start its two trips, back to back, for the first time in the State. The project is in its final stages and the details regarding the cost-component and marketing are being worked out in order to make this package more appealing and cost effective for the tourists. Despite of Assam Safari Express being a semi luxury train, efforts are being made to bring the cost down as much as possible.
Three types of exotic safaris in Assam will be offered to tourists as a part of the package, which will include elephant safari in Kaziranga National Park, jeep safari in Kaziranga National Park and boat safari in Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. The itinerary has already been finalised by both the ATDC and IRCTC which includes a six-night package covering places like Guwahati, Kaziranga, Sivasagar, Tinsukia and Dibru-Saikhowa. After the lowest possible cost has been determined, IRCTC plans to market this package aggressively to both Indian and foreign tourists. The focus will be on highlighting the beauty of Assam along with showcasing this package as an irresistible blend of clubbing comfort and adventure.
Ever since the demonetization of the Rs. 500 and Rs.1000 notes was
announced a huge impact was felt in North East India just like the rest of the country. There are long queues in front of banks, ATM machines and people have to wait a long time to extract a little money (Rs. 2500 maximum and just Rs. 200 in some cases). The ATM’s running dry of Rs. 100 notes, Rs. 500 notes are scarce as of yet and often people get just one Rs. 2000 note that most
shop owners refuse to accept as they don’t have enough change to
give back. A large number of people travel from their villages to the
nearby towns and queue up for cash. Sometimes even after waiting for hours people have to go back empty handed because the ATM runs out of cash before their turn comes. These issues and the resulting problems are making many people question the government for “not having a plan” on how to go about properly
executing this bold decision without causing or at least minimizing
the inconvenience caused to the common people.
The Indian Government has stepped in and tried to ease up the situation in some cases. For example, in Assam demonetization affected the wages of about 10 lakh tea garden laborers working in over 900 tea gardens. These laborers depend on the wages they get every weekend for their survival and their employers were unable to pay them because of they were cash strapped due to demonetization. The BJP government in Assam took a step and through “the direct intervention of the prime minister’s office” it helped tea garden owners to immediately access cash worth
lakhs of rupees through the local deputy commissioners’ offices. This enabled them to pay their laborers their weekly dues. In Manipur the impact of this decision was felt in an unusual way as people are left with no newspapers. All newspaper offices have been shut from November 17, 2016 onwards. The All Manipur Newspaper Sales and Distribution Association, Newspaper
Publishers’ Association and the Editors’ Guildtook the decision to
stop the publication of newspapers in the state, since demonetization had dried up the availability of
lower-denomination notes with the hawkers and distributors.
People living in the North Eastern region, besides facing the cash
crunch also faced severe shortage of fuel and other necessities of daily use from the start of November due to an economic blockade called by the United Naga Council (UNC). Many trucks carrying essential commodities were stuck on the highway. In Mizoram’s Khawbung village a unique strategy is being utilized to counter the situation. A shopkeeper from this village came up with the idea of handing over ‘I owe you’ chits quoting the amount with a person’s signature to be used for financial transactions to tackle the sudden cash crunch being faced by the villagers. In Assam, people
living in villages bordering Bhutan started using Bhutanese currency
for transactions. As a result, the value of these currency notes rose
by over 20% to match that of Indian rupees. The demonetization effects of demonetization in North East are similar as being faced by the rest of the country. Most of the ATMs are empty and the banks are running out of cash too often.
So, at present demonetization does appear to be a very problematic
decision which is causing huge inconvenience to people throughout
the nation. Economists are divided in their opinion about this move by the Indian Government. Some of them are welcoming it and think it is a good decision while some others are rejecting it as a very bad idea. While there is no question that the short term impact of this decision is going to cause problems but let’s compare that to what it will do in the long term.
MYANMAR – INDIA CONNECT – NORTH EAST-FINANCE
GDP growth to be negatively impacted by 0.5-1% due to drop in consumption
With a tax net widening after restriction on cash economy, GDP in the long-term likely to get a boost
Inflation likely to come down due to low demand owing to liquidity problem
Since effect of lower demand can have a lagging impact on inflation, prices may remain flat or fall in the long term
With Banks flush with cash, interest rates may come down in the short-term
If demonetisation boots formal banking and more cash continues to come in the system, interest rates may fall further
Yields likely to fall as liquidity in the banking system means interest rates are likely to fall
Likely to remain flat to positive depending on how inflation plays out and how’s the country’s fiscal situation
Unlikely to have much impact as most of the gains (RBI surplus, higher tax collections, penalties) will accrue after FY2017
With likely increase in the size of formal economy, tax collections would improve improving the country’s fiscal situation
We can summarize that in the long term the Indian Government’s plan to turn India into a cashless society is going to bene t us all. It will mean the end of cash hoarders and black money will signi cantly reduce.
The power sector in Assam is in a tough spot as the accumulated
loss of the three public sector power utilities of the State has
reached the huge amount of nearly Rs. 3,700 crore. This amount has
been calculated since the splitting of the Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) in 2004, when the power utilities started with a clean sheet. The splitting process of the ASEB was completed in 2007 with the aim to bring the turnaround in the fiscal health of the State’s power sector in 2008-09. It was hoped that these utilities would become selfsustaining but they still continue to incur loss. In the total loss amount of Rs. 3,700 crore, Assam Electricity Grid Corporation Ltd.’s (AEGCL) share in this amount is around Rs. 442 crore and Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd.’s (APGCL) share is nearlyRs. 173 crore. The reasons resulting in this grim situation are attributed to various factors including higher
transmission and distribution (T&D) losses, lack of transparency in
metering and billing activities of the APDCL, lack of accountability and wasteful expenditure.
In case of Assam State Electricity Regulatory Commission (AERC),
one of the reasons for incurring such heavy losses is that the tariff
awarded to the power utilities is nonremunerative. This means that they are granted a low tariff compared to the cost of power they supply to the consumers.The transmission and distribution loss in the State’s power sector is 26 per cent presently. An important fact here is that AERC has been fixing the T&D loss target to the APDCL and the AEGCL and only the loss approved by the AERC can
be passed on to the consumers.The rest of the loss must be absorbed
by the APDCL and the AEFCL themselves.The APDCL meter reading has a lot of flaws which is resulting in huge losses. So, this is one area which needs to be looked into and fixed as soon as possible. Tendency among officials working in the power sector to indulge in
wasteful expenditure also needs to be addressed and curbed.