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Economy round-up: Railways to retain autonomy; govt sets up war room for GST rollout

20 September, 2016

Even as the government moves to merge the railway and the Union budgets, the railways will retain its autonomy when it comes to deciding on fares, tariffs and market borrowings, a report said.

The country’s largest transporter may, however, have to cede control over deciding on pension liabilities and dividends, Business Standard reported. The Union cabinet is likely to consider this week the issue of merging the two budgets as well as doing away with the classification of plan and non-plan expenditures in the general budget and move to an outcome-based exercise.

The railways seem to be going all out to modernise its infrastructure. A report in The Financial Express said that there has been no let-up in capex spends by the railways, which had seen a 52% jump during the last financial year. The report said that during the April-August period, the railways invested more than Rs 34,000 crore on capital equipment, an increase of 31% over the last year, with rail lines, rolling stock and passenger amenities getting the biggest chunks of the pie.

Another report in The Financial Express said the country’s exchequer has saved at least Rs 14,000 crore after more than 2.3 crore bogus ration cards were weeded out in the last three years. The report said all 24.3 crore ration cards in the country are now available on transparency portals of states and union territories. The report added that 65% of such cards have been seeded with the Aadhaar system.

Meanwhile, the finance ministry has set up a ‘war room’ to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST), The Times of India reported. This new setup will comprise officials from the revenue department and the Central Board of Excise and Customs who will monitor the process of implementing the GST on a day-to-day basis. The government aims to implement the new indirect tax code from 1 April next year.

Ratings firm S&P Global Ratings has said India is set to clock an annual growth rate of 8% over the next few years. S&P said that this growth will be “steroid-free” and will ride on a broadening domestic consumption base.

According to the Press Trust of India, S&P also said that inflation remains a risk, given the large weights on food, fuel, and other volatile items in the Reserve Bank of India’s target basket.

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Economy round-up: Railways to retain autonomy; govt sets up war room for GST rollout

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