Kalanamak rice exports get boost as Govt waives duty on 1,000 tonnes - Business Guardian
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Kalanamak rice exports get boost as Govt waives duty on 1,000 tonnes



The removal of the hefty 20% duty on overseas exports marks a significant shift in the government’s trade policy regarding Kalanamak rice.

In a significant move aimed at promoting trade of agricultural commodities, the government has lifted the duty on exports of the Kalanamak variety of rice. This exemption applies to shipments of up to 1,000 tonnes and is effective immediately from Wednesday, according to a notification issued by the Finance Ministry.

Previously subject to a hefty 20% duty on overseas exports, the removal of this tariff barrier marks a notable shift in the government’s trade policy concerning Kalanamak rice. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) paved the way for this initiative on Tuesday by authorizing exports of up to 1,000 tonnes of Kalanamak rice through six specified customs stations.

Kalanamak rice, a type of non-basmati rice renowned for its distinct aroma and taste, was previously prohibited for export. However, with this recent decision, it joins the ranks of exportable agricultural commodities, offering new avenues for Indian rice producers to tap into international markets.

Exporters can now utilize six designated customs stations for shipping Kalanamak rice abroad. These include Varanasi Air Cargo, JNCH (Jawaharlal Nehru Customs House) in Maharashtra, CH (Customs House) Kandla in Gujarat, LCS (Land Customs Station) Nepalgunj Road, LCS Sonauli, and LCS Barhni.

The government’s move to facilitate the export of Kalanamak rice underscores its commitment to boosting agricultural exports and diversifying the country’s trade portfolio. This decision is likely to open up new opportunities for farmers and exporters, while also enhancing India’s presence in the global rice market.

This strategic decision by the government comes amidst efforts to bolster India’s agricultural sector and enhance its competitiveness in the global market. Kalanamak rice, with its unique characteristics and cultural significance, holds immense potential for export growth. By lifting the duty on its overseas shipments, the government aims to capitalize on this potential and support the livelihoods of farmers involved in its cultivation.

Furthermore, the exemption of duty on Kalanamak rice exports aligns with the broader agenda of promoting agricultural trade and achieving the goals outlined in various government initiatives such as the Agricultural Export Policy and Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-Reliant India Mission). Encouraging exports of agricultural products not only contributes to economic growth but also fosters rural development and empowers farmers by providing them access to international markets.

As India strives to become a global powerhouse in agriculture, initiatives like these play a crucial role in strengthening the country’s position as a reliable supplier of high-quality agricultural commodities. Moreover, by tapping into niche markets with unique products like Kalanamak rice, India can carve out a niche for itself and establish a reputation for excellence in agricultural exports.

In conclusion, the removal of duty on Kalanamak rice exports signifies a significant step towards realizing the full export potential of India’s agricultural produce. It reflects the government’s commitment to fostering a conducive environment for agricultural trade and underscores its resolve to empower farmers and bolster rural economies. This move is poised to not only boost India’s export earnings but also enhance its stature as a key player in the global agricultural arena.

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Uttar Pradesh Boosts Industrial Land Bank to 25,000 Acres



UPSIDA, the state nodal agency, has acquired 25,000 acres of land across 75 districts, facilitating specialized industrial clusters like the recent allocation in Lalitpur for a bulk drug park, as part of Uttar Pradesh’s strategic industrial development agenda.

In a bid to accelerate economic growth and foster industrial development, the Uttar Pradesh government has embarked on an ambitious journey to transform the state into a trillion-dollar economy by 2027. Anchored by a strategic land acquisition drive and innovative policy interventions, Uttar Pradesh aims to emerge as a leading hub for industries, particularly focusing on pharmaceuticals, generic medicines, and medical devices in South Asia.

The state nodal agency, UP State Industrial Development Authority (UPSIDA), has spearheaded the acquisition of 25,000 acres of land across 75 districts, setting the stage for prompt allotment to industries. Recent allocations in Lalitpur district for a bulk drug park highlight the state’s commitment to fostering specialized industrial clusters. According to UPSIDA Chief Executive Officer Mayur Maheshwari, acquisitions have been strategically executed in various districts including Hathras, Hardoi, Prayagraj, and Lucknow, among others, with plans for further expansion.

The introduction of e-auctioning of plots by UPSIDA has significantly enhanced transparency and efficiency in the allocation process, leading to a notable increase in plot allotments from 191 in 2017-18 to 693 in 2023-24. This surge in activity has also translated into substantial revenue growth, with operating revenue doubling from Rs 615 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 1,359 crore in 2023-24.

Moreover, the state government has prioritized inclusive industrial development by focusing on women-centric facilities under initiatives like the Atal Industrial Infrastructure Mission (AIIM) and Safe Industrial Area Projects. These efforts aim to bolster female participation and employment within industrial parks, thus fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

In parallel, Uttar Pradesh is set to establish mini-industrial clusters in rural areas, aiming to stimulate economic activities and generate employment opportunities. Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Minister Rakesh Sachan emphasized the utilization of Gram Sabha land for industrial purposes, with plans to set up 25,000 units in rural hinterlands. Incentives such as 100% stamp duty waivers and streamlined allotment processes underscore the government’s commitment to catalyzing rural industrialization and stemming youth migration.

Furthermore, the state’s focus on boosting MSME exports to Rs 3 trillion underscores the pivotal role of small and medium enterprises in driving economic growth. With MSMEs contributing 60% to UP’s annual industrial output, they form the backbone of the state’s ‘Make in UP’ agenda, complementing traditional industries such as Banarasi silk saris, carpets, leather goods, and wooden products, among others.

The concerted efforts by the Yogi Adityanath government reflect a holistic approach towards fostering industrial growth, employment generation, and economic prosperity. By leveraging its vast land bank, implementing transparent allocation processes, and prioritizing inclusive development, Uttar Pradesh is poised to emerge as a beacon of industrial excellence, propelling India towards its trillion-dollar economy aspirations.

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Hindi film industry sees 6% cinema growth in 2023



In 2023, India witnessed a modest increase in the number of movie screens, with Hindi-speaking regions leading the growth, followed by the east and south, as per the latest FICCI-EY media and entertainment industry report. Despite the pandemic-induced challenges, the country’s cinema landscape showed signs of recovery, with the total number of screens surpassing 2018 levels. However, the expansion remains heavily skewed towards certain regions like Delhi NCR, Maharashtra, and Bengaluru, leaving states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Odisha relatively underserved. High real estate costs and audience disconnect with contemporary movie themes contribute to this imbalance. Multiplex chains are eyeing expansion into untapped markets, awaiting infrastructure development for further growth.

India’s cinema industry, renowned globally for its diverse and vibrant film culture, has faced various challenges in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to the sector, forcing many theatres to shut down temporarily or permanently. The subsequent restrictions on movie releases and audience capacity further exacerbated the situation. Despite these setbacks, the gradual reopening of theatres and the resurgence of audience interest in cinematic experiences have injected a sense of optimism into the industry.

The increase in the number of movie screens in 2023, albeit modest, reflects a positive trend amidst adversity. The growth, particularly in Hindi-speaking markets, underscores the resilience of regional film industries and their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The rise in screens in the east and south also signifies the importance of these regions in the overall cinematic landscape of the country.

However, the disparity in screen distribution across different states remains a notable challenge. While states like Maharashtra and Karnataka boast a significant number of screens, others such as Bihar and Jharkhand lag behind. This imbalance not only limits access to cinema for residents of these regions but also hampers the growth potential of the industry as a whole.

One of the primary factors contributing to this imbalance is the high cost of real estate, especially in urban centers where multiplexes are typically located. The exorbitant prices make it economically unviable for cinema operators to establish new theatres in smaller towns and cities. As a result, the expansion of multiplex chains has been concentrated in areas with favorable infrastructure and consumer demand, leaving other regions underserved.

Moreover, audience preferences and viewing habits vary significantly across different parts of the country. While metropolitan cities may have a diverse audience that appreciates a wide range of film genres and languages, smaller towns and rural areas often have more limited tastes. This disparity in preferences influences the type of content that filmmakers produce and the distribution strategies adopted by distributors and exhibitors.

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on catering to the preferences of urban audiences, particularly those in metropolitan areas. Films targeting the multiplex-going demographic, featuring niche genres and unconventional storytelling, have gained prominence. However, this trend has also led to a neglect of audiences in non-metro regions, where traditional, mainstream cinema continues to dominate. To address these challenges and promote inclusive growth, industry stakeholders must adopt a holistic approach that takes into account the diverse needs and aspirations of audiences across the country.

This includes exploring innovative business models, leveraging technology to enhance the cinematic experience, and investing in infrastructure development in underserved regions. Additionally, government intervention and policy support are crucial in facilitating the expansion of the cinema industry and ensuring equitable access to entertainment opportunities. Incentives for multiplex operators to establish theatres in non-metro areas, subsidies for the development of cinema infrastructure, and initiatives to promote regional cinema can help bridge the gap and foster a more inclusive film ecosystem.

Ultimately, the growth of India’s cinema industry hinges on its ability to embrace diversity, adapt to evolving consumer preferences, and overcome geographical and socioeconomic barriers. By addressing these challenges collectively and collaboratively, stakeholders can unlock the full potential of the country’s rich cinematic heritage and drive sustainable growth for the future.

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RIL net profit falls1.8% to Rs 18,951 cr yoy, revenue up 10.8 % on O2C, consumer biz



Reliance Industries on Monday posted a net profit of Rs 18,951 crore in the March quarter (Q4) of FY24, a 1.8 per cent decrease in its net profit compared to the previous year but revenue at Rs 264,834 crore grew 10.8 per cent year-on-year, supported by double-digit growth in oil to chemical and consumer business. Furthermore, EBITDA saw a yoy growth of 16.1 per cent, reaching Rs 178,677 crore with positive contribution from all key operating segments. The conglomerate also announced an interim dividend Rs 10 per equity share for the financial year ended 31 March, 2024.

On an annual basis, RIL’s gross revenue at Rs 1,000,122 crore (USD 119.9 billion), was up 2.6 per cent yoy, supported by continued growth momentum in consumer businesses and upstream business. Revenue for JPL increased by 11.7 per cent yoy, led by robust subscriber growth of 42.4 million across mobility and homes and benefit of mix improvement in ARPU. Revenue for RRVL grew by 17.8 per cent yoy with strong growth across all consumption baskets, gross area addition of 15.6 million square feet and record footfalls of over a one billion.

Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, RIL, attributed “remarkable contribution” of initiatives across RIL’s businesses towards fostering growth of various sectors of the Indian economy with all segments posting robust financial and operating performance. “This has helped the company achieve multiple milestones. I am happy to share that this year, Reliance became the first Indian company to cross the Rs 100,000-crore threshold in pre-tax profits,” said Ambani.

The March quarter financial results on 22 April show that while JIO platforms (JPL) EBITDA increased 12.8 per cent with higher revenue and margin improvement, Reliance retail (RRVL) EBITDA increased sharply by 28.5 per cent with margin expansion of 60 bps to 8.4 per cent. Oil and gas EBITDA increased sharply by 48.6 per cent, led by higher gas and condensate production with the commissioning of the MJ field during the year. Revenue for O2C decreased by 5.0 per cent primarily on account of lower product price realization following a 13.5 per cent yoy decline in average Brent crude oil prices. This was partially offset by higher volumes. Revenue from oil and gas segment increased significantly by 48.0 per cent mainly on account of higher volumes from KG D6 block (which was up 56.8 per cent, despite lower gas price realization from KG D6 field.

Strong demand for fuels globally, and limited flexibility in refining system worldwide, supported margins and profitability of the O2C segment. Downstream chemical industry experienced increasingly challenging market conditions through the year but maintaining leading product positions and feedstock flexibility through the operating model that prioritizes cost management, we delivered a resilient performance. The KG-D6 block has achieved 30 MMSCMD of production and now accounts for 30 per cent of India’s domestic gas production.

Finance costs of RIL increased by 18.1 per cent yoy to ₹ 23,118 crore (USD 2.8 billion) due to higher liability balances and higher market interest rates. Tax Expenses increased by 26.2 per cent yoy to ₹ 25,707 crore on account of utilization of tax credits in the previous financial year. Profit after tax increased by 7.3 per cent yoy to ₹ 79,020 crore.

Performance of the digital services segment has been boosted by accelerated expansion of the subscriber base, supported by both mobility and fixed wireless services. With over 108 million True 5G customers, Jio truly leads the 5G transformation in India.

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India Sees Decline in New Formal Job Creation, Hits Three-Month Low in February



The rural unemployment rate increased sharply to 7.8% in February from 5.8% in January, while urban unemployment rate fell from 8.9% to 8.5% during the same period.

The country’s formal labour market witnessed a slowdown in February, with fewer fresh jobs being created, the latest payroll data released by the Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) showed on Saturday. The number of new monthly subscribers to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) declined nearly 3.7 per cent in February to 777,717 from 807,865 the previous month. This is crucial, as only the formal workforce enjoys social security benefits and is protected by labour laws. By comparison, 764,106 subscribers had joined the EPF in February 2023.

In what suggests some robustness, 516,619 of the total new EPF subscribers in February (nearly 67 per cent) belong to the 18-28 age group, a cohort mostly comprised of new entrants to the labour market. The share of women in total new subscribers increased slightly to 26.4 per cent (205,386), compared with 25.32 per cent (204,569) the previous month.

Meanwhile, net payroll additions — calculated by considering the number of new subscribers, those that exited, and the old subscribers who returned to the social-security organisation — also declined by 3.4 per cent to 1.54 million in February from 1.60 million in January. Net monthly payroll numbers, however, are provisional in nature and are often revised sharply the next month. So, the new EPF subscriber figure is considered more reliable than net additions.

“The payroll data highlights that about 1.8 million members exited and subsequently rejoined EPFO. These members switched their jobs and rejoined the establishments covered under the EPFO and opted to transfer their accumulations instead of applying for final settlement, thus safeguarding their long-term financial well-being and extending their social security protection,” the labour ministry said in a statement.

According to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a private agency that conducts its own Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS), the labour markets deteriorated in February as the unemployment rate increased to 8 per cent from 6.8 per cent the previous month on the back of an increase in unemployment in rural areas. The rural unemployment rate increased sharply to 7.8 per cent in February from 5.8 per cent in January, while urban unemployment rate fell from 8.9 per cent to 8.5 per cent during the same period. The labour force participation rate (LFPR) climbed to 41.4 per cent in February, from 40.6 per cent the previous month. The monthly EPF subscription data released by the labour ministry is part of the government’s effort to track formal job creation in the country by using payrolls as a measure.

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FPIs Sell Rs 5,254 crore in Indian equities amid rising US bond yields, become net sellers in debt mkts



Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) have shifted their stance in the Indian markets, transitioning from net buyers to net sellers as the momentum of their buying diminished with the onset of the new fiscal year 2024-25 (FY25). This shift follows a period of robust inflows reported during the previous fiscal. However, experts express skepticism regarding the continuity of these inflows in the near term, citing concerns related to the India-Mauritius tax treaty and prevailing weak global cues.

According to data from the National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL), FPIs have divested ₹5,254 crore worth of Indian equities, contributing to a total outflow of ₹8,982 crore as of April 19. This outflow encompasses various asset classes including debt, hybrid instruments, debt-VRR (Voluntary Retention Route), and equities. The data further reveals that the total debt outflows have amounted to ₹6,174 crore thus far in the month.

The shift in FPI sentiment underscores a cautious approach adopted by foreign investors amidst evolving market dynamics and regulatory developments. The onset of the new fiscal year appears to have prompted a reassessment of investment strategies, leading to a reduction in buying momentum and subsequent divestment activities.

Analysts point to several factors contributing to the cautious stance adopted by FPIs. The ongoing uncertainty surrounding the India-Mauritius tax treaty has raised concerns among investors regarding the tax implications of their investments in Indian markets. The impending changes in tax regulations and potential impact on investment returns have prompted foreign investors to adopt a wait-and-see approach, refraining from aggressive buying.

Furthermore, weak global cues, including geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties, have added to the apprehensions surrounding investment prospects in emerging markets like India. The prevailing volatility in global financial markets, exacerbated by factors such as inflationary pressures and monetary policy tightening measures in major economies, has led investors to exercise caution and reevaluate their risk exposure. The outflow of FPI investments across various asset classes reflects a broader trend of risk aversion and portfolio realignment among foreign investors. While Indian equities have witnessed significant divestment, the debt segment has also experienced notable outflows, signaling a repositioning of investment portfolios in response to changing market conditions.

Amidst the prevailing uncertainties, market participants remain vigilant about the potential implications of FPI activity on Indian markets and the broader economy. The evolving investment landscape underscores the importance of policy measures aimed at fostering investor confidence and promoting stability in the financial markets.

Looking ahead, the trajectory of FPI flows will likely hinge on a multitude of factors, including developments related to the India-Mauritius tax treaty, global economic trends, and domestic policy initiatives. While near-term uncertainties may dampen investor sentiment, the long-term fundamentals of the Indian economy remain resilient, presenting opportunities for investors to capitalize on the growth potential of the market.

In conclusion, the recent shift in FPI sentiment and the resultant outflow of investments underscore the dynamic nature of global capital markets and the need for adaptive investment strategies in response to changing market dynamics. As India continues on its path of economic recovery and structural reforms, maintaining a conducive investment environment will be crucial in attracting foreign capital and supporting sustainable growth in the years to come.

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India diversifies trade, exports to China, UAE, Russia, Singapore surge



India’s export landscape for the financial year 2023-24 witnessed notable strides, particularly in markets like China, Russia, Iraq, UAE, and Singapore. According to data from the commerce ministry, India’s overall exports, encompassing both merchandise and services, stood at an estimated USD 776.68 billion for the fiscal year, maintaining stability compared to the previous period. However, the breakdown reveals a nuanced picture, with merchandise exports experiencing a marginal decline of 3.1 percent to USD 437.06 billion, while services exports recorded a 4.4 percent growth, reaching USD 339.62 billion.

In March 2024, despite a slight dip, the figures remained substantial, with merchandise exports totaling USD 41.68 billion, down by 0.7 percent, and services exports at USD 28.54 billion, marking a 6.3 percent decrease. Comparatively, the preceding financial year (2022-23) showcased robust growth, witnessing a remarkable surge of over 14 percent, amounting to nearly USD 100 billion annually.

Moreover, imports for the financial year 2023-24 witnessed a decline of 4.8 percent, settling at USD 854.80 billion. In March 2024 alone, both merchandise and services imports experienced a downturn, declining by 5.41 percent and 2.46 percent, respectively.

The surge in exports can be attributed to several factors, including enhanced trade relations with key partners and strategic initiatives implemented by the Indian government. Notably, India’s exports to countries like China, Russia, Iraq, UAE, and Singapore have seen substantial growth, albeit from a comparatively low base. These nations, along with others like the UK, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, and South Africa, constitute the top 10 export destinations for India.

The Indian government’s proactive measures, such as the implementation of the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme across various sectors, have played a pivotal role in driving export growth. The PLI scheme aims to bolster India’s manufacturing capabilities, foster global competitiveness among domestic producers, attract foreign investments, stimulate export growth, integrate India into the global supply chain, and reduce dependency on imports. By incentivizing production in sectors like electronic goods and others, the PLI scheme has encouraged manufacturers to enhance their productivity and efficiency, thereby boosting exports. This strategic approach aligns with India’s broader economic agenda of promoting self-reliance, fostering innovation, and positioning the country as a global manufacturing hub.

Despite the challenges posed by global economic uncertainties and fluctuations in trade dynamics, India’s export performance has remained resilient. The consistent growth in exports, particularly in services, underscores the country’s growing prowess in sectors like IT, software services, business process outsourcing (BPO), and others.

Looking ahead, India aims to sustain and further enhance its export momentum by continuing to implement strategic policies, fostering innovation and technological advancements, diversifying its export basket, and strengthening trade partnerships with both traditional and emerging markets.

In a nutshell, India’s export trajectory for the fiscal year 2023-24 reflects a blend of resilience, strategic foresight, and proactive policy interventions. With concerted efforts from both the government and industry stakeholders, India is poised to consolidate its position as a key player in the global trade landscape and drive sustainable economic growth in the years to come.

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