India’s first MSE Sentiment Index

CriSidEx, India’s first sentiment index for micro and small enterprises (MSEs) developed jointly by CRISIL and SIDBI.

CriSidEx is a composite index based on a diffusion index of 8 parameters and measures MSE business sentiment on a scale of 0 (extremely negative) to 200 (extremely positive). The parametric feedback was captured through a survey of 1,100 MSEs in November-December.

The first reading of CriSidEx stood at 107, indicating mildly positive sentiment during October-December (or the ‘survey quarter’). For January-March 2018 (or the ‘next quarter’), the sentiment is expected to be more positive.

CriSidEx will have 2 indices – one for the ‘survey quarter’ and another for the ‘next quarter’ once a trend emerges after few rounds of the survey, providing independent time series data.

The crucial benefit of CriSidEx is that its readings will flag potential headwinds and changes in production cycles, and thus help improve market efficiencies. And by capturing the sentiment of exporters and importers, it will also offer actionable indicators on foreign trade.

More than half of the respondents expected an improvement in their business situation during the January-March quarter compared with a third in October-December.

Between manufacturing and services, the sentiment was more positive in manufacturing, with more than half of the MSEs expecting faster growth in orders and improved capacity utilisation in January-March compared with less than a third in October-December.

Exporters, too, were hopeful of business improving in January-March, with a third of them expecting an above-normal order book compared with less than a quarter in October-December. On the other hand, more than half of the domestic-focussed MSEs foresaw improved order book in January-March.

CRISIL also interacted with lenders for their views on the MSE sector. For the next quarter, lenders held a favorable view, expecting the overall business situation to improve.


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Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE)

The government has announced a new initiative called Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE).

The initiative aims to step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions, including health institutions. It will have a total investment of ₹1,00,000-crore in the next four years.

Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding this initiative. The manner in which investment in institutions is provided is likely to be the same as is practised in HEFA, but there may be different windows for different institutions.

The Union Cabinet had approved HEFA in September 2016 as a Special Purpose Vehicle with a public sector bank (Canara Bank). It would be jointly funded by the promoter/bank and the MHRD with an authorised capital of ₹2,000 crore. The government equity would be ₹1,000 crore.

HEFA will leverage the equity to raise up to ₹20,000 crore for the funding of world-class infrastructure at the IITs, IIMs, the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and such other institutions. The agency is also expected to mobilise Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds from public sector units (PSUs) and corporates. These would be released as grants to eligible institutions for promoting research and innovation.

Funding from HEFA is expected to boost infrastructure, especially state-of-the-art laboratories, in key institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs).

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List of Schemes and Initiatives in Union Budget 2018-19

Finance Minister, the Central government has finally announced the Union Budget 2018-19 on 1 February 2018. Subsequently, this budget is comprised of various scheme and initiatives of Modi govt. for the welfare of every section of society. Union budget includes provisions for agriculture, corporate, employees, rural women, railways, aviation, healthcare, defense, infrastructure, market, banking, and industries sector.

The primary objective is to build a strong and confident India. Indian Economy is now of Rs. 2.5 trillion dollars which are soon going to become world 5th largest economy.

This budget is important as this is the last budget of the Modi govt. before General Elections. So, the primary focus is to provide benefits to the masses. Accordingly, this is a Common Man’s Budget.

The important features and highlights of Union Budget 2018-19 are as follows:-

Agriculture –

Govt. will set up an agricultural market and infrastructure fund of Rs. 2000 crore to improve market connectivity.

Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Maha Abhiyan – Kusum Scheme for farmers: This scheme will provide subsidy on establishing solar power plants on their barren land and result in doubling farmers income by 2022. The total outlay of this scheme is Rs. 48,000 crore.

Subsequently to provide more price of the crops to farmers, govt. has now set the minimum support price (MSP) for Kharif crops at 1.5 times as their production cost.

Central Govt. has doubled the amount for the food processing sector to Rs. 1400 crore.

Moreover, to generate higher income, govt. will provide Rs. 10,000 crore to the animal husbandry for fishery and aquaculture.

In addition to this, govt. has also launched “Operation Greens” on the lines of Operation Flood to boost agricultural production. For this operation greens, govt. has allocated Rs. 500 crore under Market Assurance Scheme. This will promote various Food Processing Organizations (FPOs), agri-logistics and processing facilities. Under this scheme, govt. will give provide Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Tomato, Onion, and Potato and will give them TOP Priority. Here govt. will provide “Nyuntam Samarthan Mulya” for T – Tomato, O – Onion and P – Potato.

Increase in the agricultural credit target from Rs. 8.5 lakh crore to Rs. 11 lakh crore. In addition, govt. will extend the Kisan Credit Card to fisheries and animal husbandry.

Henceforth, govt. will also launch a Restructured Bamboo Mission with a total outlay of Rs. 1200 crore.

For every district, govt. will start “Krishi Cluster Scheme”.

Central Govt. will also introduce a special scheme to manage crop residue and tackle Air Pollution in Delhi NCR region.

In addition, govt. has also started Gobar Dhan Scheme For Farmers to improve their life and double their income by 2022.

Rural People / Economy

Extension of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to provide LPG Connections to women. Now, Central Govt. will provide these LPG connections to 8 crore rural families. Thus, this budget focuses on Women Empowerment.

Central Govt. will provide electricity connections to 4 crore people under Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Scheme –

Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana. For this, govt. will spend Rs. 16000 crore.

Central Govt. is going to construct 2 crore toilets under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Construction of 51 lakh more houses in rural areas under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

National Livelihood Mission gets a budgetary allocation of Rs. 5750 crore

Central Govt. will include all 16 crore Jan Dhan Accounts under Micro Insurance and Pension Schemes.


Central Govt. has allocated Rs. 1 lakh crore for upgradation of education sector under Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education – RISE Scheme.

Govt. will start Eklavya schools comprising more than 50% of ST candidates.

Subsequently, govt. will also transform blackboards to digital boards by 2022.

Central Govt. will identify 1000 candidates and enable them to do PhDs in IIT and IISc under Prime Minister Research Fellowship (PMRF) Scheme.

Health Care Facilities –

Central Govt. has launched National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) to provide Health Insurance of Rs. 5 Lakh to each poor family. Accordingly, this scheme will cover 10 crore families (50 crores) people.

Under Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Govt. will set up 1.5 lakh health and wellness centers with the total outlay of Rs. 1200 crore. This scheme will benefit deprived sections of the society.

This financial assistance is for secondary and tertiary hospitalization. Ayushman Bharat Scheme is the biggest Health Assurance Scheme of the world.

Central Govt. has allocated Rs. 600 crore for Tuberculosis patients. TB patients will get Rs. 500 per month during their treatment period.

Furthermore, Central Govt. will ensure that there is 1 medical college within 3 parliamentary constituencies. For now, govt. will open 24 new govt. medical colleges.

Diesel / Petrol Rates –

Central govt. has cut off excise on unbranded diesel by 2 rupees to Rs. 6.33 per litre.

In addition to this, govt. also reduced the excise on unbranded petrol by 2 rupees to Rs. 4.48 per litre.

Employee Centric Schemes –

Central Govt. will make a contribution of 12% of wages for new employees for the upcoming 3 years.

In addition to this, women’s contribution to EPF for the first 3 years is reduced to 8%.

However, the contribution from the employers remains the same.

Furthermore, govt. has allotted Rs. 4.6 lakh crore for PM Mudra Yojana to create employment opportunities.

Infrastructure Development –

Central Govt. has allocated Rs. 5.35 lakh crore to develop 35,000 km of roads under phase 1 of Bharatmala Project.

In addition to this, govt. will carry out developmental activities in 99 Smart Cities with an outlay of 2.04 lakh crore.

Furthermore, central govt. has approved AMRUT Scheme to provide water to each household with an outlay of 77,640 crores.

Railways / Rail Budget 2018-19 –

This year, Rail Budget is increased to Rs. 1.48 lakh crore from previous Rs. 1.31 lakh crore.

Subsequently, central govt. will eliminate 4267 unmanned railway crossing in upcoming 2 years.

Accordingly, all the railway stations which have more than 25000 footfalls will now have escalators.

Aviation / Airways Sector –

Central Govt. focuses on increasing the capacity of airports and to increase round trips to 5 times i.e 1 billion trips per annum.

For this purpose, central govt. has allocated Rs. 60 crore for its launch.

Furthermore, UDAN Scheme (Ude Desh ke Aam Nagrik Yojana) will connect 64 unconnected airports across the country.

Tax & Senior Citizens –

There is no change in the personal income tax slab rates.

Central Govt. has extended the existing limit of Rs. 7.5 lakh per senior citizen to Rs. 15 lakh under Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY). This scheme is extended until March 2020.

Moreover, there is a standard deduction of Rs. 40,000 for medical expenses to the salaried class.

In addition to this, govt. will exempt Rs. 50,000 for medical insurance to Senior Citizens.

Furthermore, Senior Citizens will get Rs. 10,000 exemption income from FDs.

Other Benefits – Defense / Technology / Market / Corporate Sector

Central Govt. has increased the budget for defense to Rs. 2.82 lakh crore from previous Rs. 2.67 lakh crore.

Central Govt. has increased the food subsidy to 1.69 lakh crore to 1.4 lakh crore in the previous FY.

Digital India Scheme has been allocated Rs. 3073 crore.

Central Govt. will set up 5 lakh Wi-Fi networks to benefit 5 crore rural citizens across the country.

Moreover, govt. has allocated Rs. 7,148 crore for textile industries.

Salaries of President is hiked to Rs. 5 lakh, Vice President to Rs. 4 lakh and Governors to Rs. 3.5 lakh.

Furthermore, there is a lower corporate tax on companies with less than Rs. 250 crore turnover in the previous fiscal year.

However, Central Govt. has hiked custom duties on Mobiles, Televisions and other electronic items which will result in higher prices.

Moreover, govt. has also increased import duties on LED / LCD / Crude sunflower seed oil or groundnut oil/ sunglasses/cigarette lighters/ toys/bus/truck tires/furniture / watches and footwear which will raise the prices of these items.

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Ayushman Bharat for a new India -2022

The Government has announced two major initiatives in the health sector, as part of Ayushman Bharat programme. These two health sector initiatives under Ayushman Bharat Programme will build a New India 2022 and ensure enhanced productivity, well being and avert wage loss and impoverishment. These Schemes will also generate lakhs of jobs, particularly for women.

The initiatives are as follows:

Health and Wellness Centre: The National Health Policy, 2017 has envisioned Health and Wellness Centres as the foundation of India’s health system. Under this 1.5 lakh centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.  These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. The Budget has allocated Rs.1200 crore for this flagship programme. The contribution of the private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres is also envisaged.

National Health Protection Scheme: The second flagship programme under Ayushman Bharat is National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. This will be the world’s largest government-funded health care programme. Adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of this programme.

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Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS)

The government has proposed to establish Ekalavya Residential School in each block of the country where tribal people constitute a majority of the population. It has been decided that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya Model Residential School.

Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS)?

Eklavya Model Residential School Scheme was started in 1998 and the first school was started in the year 2000 in Maharashtra. EMRSs have been functioning as institutions of excellence for tribal students.

As per existing EMRS Guidelines of 2010, at least one EMRS is to be set up in each Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) / Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) having 50% ST population in the area.

The capital cost for setting up the school complex, including hostels and staff quarters etc. has been earmarked at Rs. 12 crores with a provision to go up to Rs.16 crore in hill areas, deserts and islands. Recurring cost during the first year for these schools would be Rs. 42000/-per child, with a provision of raising it by 10% every second year to compensate for inflation etc.

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Ashgabat agreement

India has been admitted to Agreement on the Establishment of an International Transport and Transit Corridor” between Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan signed on April 25, 2011, known as the Ashgabat Agreement. All the four founding members have consented to the accession of India and India’s accession to the Agreement will enter into force on February 3, 2018.

Accession to the Agreement would diversify India’s connectivity options with Central Asia and have a positive influence on India’s trade and commercial ties with the region. It also assumes significance given Beijing’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative of which the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), that leads to Gwadar port in Pakistan passing through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, is a major part. India’s stand has been that while it is all for connectivity, such initiatives should respect the territorial integrity of other countries.

The Ashgabat Agreement aims to develop the shortest trade route between Central Asian countries and Iranian and Omani ports. The Ashgabat Agreement has Oman, Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as founding members. Kazakhstan has also joined this arrangement subsequently. In October 2016, Pakistan also formally joined the Ashgabat Agreement.

The Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan (ITK) railway line will be the major route according to the Ashgabat Agreement, which became operational in December 2014 and was also included as part of India-funded North-South international transport corridor (NSITC).

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Gift City gets unified regulator

The International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) at Gift City, Gujarat has received a major boost with the Finance Minister proposing a unified regulator for the special finance zone along with tax benefits for non-residents and non-corporate entities operating there.

This assumes significance as various government agencies and regulators, including the Reserve Bank of India and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), have oversight on entities that operate in the zone.

The announcement of setting up of unified regulator for IFSC in India would help India achieve its full potential in the global financial markets. Globally, most of the financial centres host unified regulator in the same centre. This decision would help in establishing GIFT IFSC as a global financial hub.

An IFSC caters to customers outside the jurisdiction of the domestic economy. Such centres deal with flows of finance, financial products, and services across borders. London, New York and Singapore can be counted as global financial centres. Many emerging IFSCs around the world, such as Shanghai and Dubai, are aspiring to play a global role in the years to come.

What are the services an IFSC can provide?

1. Fund-raising services for individuals, corporations and governments.

2. Asset management and global portfolio diversification undertaken by pension funds, insurance companies, and mutual funds.

3. Wealth management.

4. Global tax management and cross-border tax liability optimization, which provides a business opportunity for financial intermediaries, accountants, and law firms.

5. Global and regional corporate treasury management operations that involve fund-raising, liquidity investment and management and asset-liability matching.

6. Risk management operations such as insurance and reinsurance.

7. Merger and acquisition activities among trans-national corporations.

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BharatNet Project

To further promote the Centre’s BharatNet project for providing broadband services in 2.5 lakh gram panchayats of the country, the finance ministry has proposed an allocation of Rs 8,175 crore, which will be used towards completing the second phase of the programme under which 1.5 lakh gram panchayats will be covered.

Bharat Net sought to connect all of India’s households, particularly in rural areas, through broadband, forming the backbone of the government’s ambitious Digital India programme. It proposes broadband connectivity to households under village panchayats and even to government institutions at the district level. The project is being funded through the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

In its first phase, the BharatNet project saw over one lakh gram panchayats being connected across the country with high-speed optical fibre network as of December 31, 2017. Under the first phase, the project saw 2,54,895 km of optical fibre cable being laid covering 1,09,926 gram panchayats out of which 1,01,370 gram panchayats have been provided active connectivity.

Universal Service Obligation Fund:

USOF, established in 2002, provides effective subsidies to ensure telegraph services are provided to everyone across India, especially in the rural and remote areas. It is headed by the USOF Administrator who reports to the Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Funds come from the Universal Service Levy (USL) of 5% charged from all the telecom operators on their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) which are then deposited into the Consolidated Fund of India and require prior parliamentary approval to be dispatched.

The USOF works through a bidding process, where funds are given to the enterprise quoting the lowest bid. However, the funds for NOFN were made an exception to this process since BBNL was the sole party involved in the implementation having been specifically created for it.

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LiFi Technology

In a recent pilot project, the ministry of electronics and IT successfully tested a technology called LiFi (Light Fidelity), which uses LED bulbs and light spectrum to transmit data at speeds as high as 10 GB per second over a 1-km radius. Indications are strong that it will be soon launched in India on a commercial basis.

The idea is to connect difficult terrains of the country that can’t be reached by fiber but have access to electricity. The technology can be used to connect hospitals where regular internet signals interfere with certain equipment as well as to provide underwater connectivity.

Li-Fi, or light fidelity, invented by German physicist and professor Harald Haas, is a wireless technology that makes use of visible light in place of radio waves to transmit data at terabits per second speeds—more than 100 times the speed of Wi-Fi.

Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system. This means that it accommodates a photo-detector to receive light signals and a signal processing element to convert the data into ‘stream-able’ content. Unlike Wi-Fi, which uses radio waves, Li-Fi runs on visible light.

Here, data is fed into an LED light bulb (with signal processing technology), it then sends data (embedded in its beam) at rapid speeds to the photo-detector (photodiode). The tiny changes in the rapid dimming of LED bulbs are then converted by the ‘receiver’ into an electrical signal. The signal is then converted back into a binary data stream that the user would recognise as web, video and audio applications that run on internet enables devices.

An LED light bulb is a semiconductor light source meaning that the constant current of electricity supplied to an LED light bulb can be dipped and dimmed, up and down at extremely high speeds, without being visible to the human eye.

Li-Fi could make a huge impact on the internet of things too, with data transferred at much higher levels with even more devices able to connect to one another.

Li-Fi offers great promise to overcome the existing limitations of Wi-Fi by providing for data-heavy communication in short ranges.

Due to its shorter range, Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi.

Since it does not pollute, it can be called a green technology for device-to-device communication in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Li-Fi systems consume less power.

Limitations of Li-Fi:

As visual light can’t pass through opaque objects and needs line of sight for communication, its range will remain very restricted to start with. In order to enjoy full connectivity, more capable LED bulbs will need to be placed at various places.

Li-Fi requires the lightbulb is on at all times to provide connectivity, meaning that the lights will need to be on during the day.

Li-Fi is likely to face interference from external light sources, such as sunlight and bulbs, and obstructions in the path of transmission, and hence may cause interruptions in communication.

Also, initially, there will be high installation costs of visual light communication systems as an add-on to lighting systems.

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Government e-Marketplace

Public procurement forms a very important part of Government activity and reform in Public Procurement is one of the top priorities of the present Government. Government e-Marketplace (GeM) is a very bold step of the Government with the aim to transform the way in which procurement of goods and services is done by the Government Ministries/Departments, PSUs, autonomous bodies etc.

GeM owes its genesis to the recommendations of two Groups of Secretaries made to the Hon’ble PM in January 2016. They recommended setting up of a dedicated e-market for different goods & services procured/sold by Government/PSUs besides reforming DGS&D. Subsequently, the Hon’ble FM in his Budget speech for FY 2016-17, announced setting up of a technology-driven platform to facilitate procurement of goods and services by various Ministries and agencies of the Government.

DGS&D with technical support of NeGD (MeitY) has developed GeM portal for procurement of both Products & Services. The portal was launched on 9th August 2016 by the Hon’ble Commerce & Industry Minister. Procurement on GeM has been authorized by GFR by adding Rule 141A (DoE OM dated 3rd May 2016). Presently more than 7400 products in about 150 product categories and hiring of transport service are available on GeM POC portal. Transactions for more than Rs 140 Crore have already been processed through GeM.

GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven e-marketplace that enables procurement of common use goods and services with the minimal human interface.

Benefits of GeM to the Government, Sellers and the Indian industry and economy:

GeM eliminates human interface in vendor registration, order placement, and payment processing, to a great extent. Being an open platform, GeM offers no entry barriers to bonafide suppliers who wish to do business with the Government. At every step, SMS and e-mail notifications are sent to both buyers, his/her head of an organization, paying authorities as well as sellers. Online, cashless and time-bound payment on GeM is facilitated through integration with PFMS and State Bank Multi Option System (SBMOPS); web-services integration is being extended to payment systems of Railways, Defence, major PSUs and State Governments. Seamless processes and online time-bound payment, which is also mandated by the OM issued by Department of Expenditure, has given confidence to the vendors and reduced their ‘administrative’ cost involved in pursuing officers for timely payment.

Direct purchase on GeM can be done in a matter of minutes and the entire process in online, end to end integrated and with online tools for assessing price reasonability. For procurements of higher value, the bidding/RA facility on GeM is among the most transparent and efficient, in comparison to e-procurement systems in vogue within the Government sector. For creating a bid/RA, the buyer does not need to create his/her own technical specifications as they have been standardized on GeM. The bid/RA can be created in a matter of minutes and finalized within a minimum of 7 days. The bid/RA is notified via e-mail and SMS to all the eligible suppliers; new suppliers are also notified once they get themselves registered online on GeM and are determined as ‘eligible’ by the system. GeM bidding/RA, therefore, ensures competition, fair play, speed & efficiency and leads to proper price discovery. The reasonableness of the rates can also be confirmed through online comparison with market price on leading e-Commerce portals. Very soon, GeM will also start getting feeds from various other public procurement portals in order to ensure that the same item has not been procured at a lesser rate by any other Government agency, from the same or a different vendor. The reasonability of price would be further strengthened by way of integration with GSTN and ICEGATE that will enable the buyer to ascertain the price of an item when it exited the factory gate or when it got imported into the country.   These would make GeM an extremely powerful tool in the hands of Government organizations to plan and procure.

GeM is a completely secure platform and all the documents on GeM are e-Signed at various stages by the buyers and sellers. The antecedents of the suppliers are verified online and automatically through MCA21, Aadhar and PAN databases. In addition, SEBI empaneled credit rating agencies are also being used for conducting a third-party assessment of suppliers. This would further strengthen due diligence about the veracity of suppliers wanting to do business on GeM. For high-value bids/RA on GeM, an e-Bank Guarantee is also being introduced.

GeM is a far better system than the existing one which relies more on financial instruments (EMD in case of tenders for large procurements only) to guarantee good conduct by the suppliers. In the existing system, there is zero check on the antecedents of the suppliers for small value procurements (uptoRs 1 lakh) whose cumulative value is huge across the Government organizations. GeM does a 100% online verification of all vendors irrespective of the value of procurement.

On GeM, the filters for selecting goods which are Preferential Market Access (PMA) compliant and those manufactured by Small Scale Industries(SSI), enables the Government buyers to procure Make in India and SSI goods very easily. Easily accessible MIS also enables the administrators and policy makers to easily and effectively enforce the Government regulations on PMA and SSI sourcing. After the launch of GeM, it has been noticed that several leading computer manufacturers have placed PMA compliant products on GeM.

The transparency, efficiency, and ease of use of the GeM portal have resulted in a substantial reduction in prices on GeM, in comparison to the tender, Rate Contract and direct purchase rates. The average prices on GeM are lower by at least 15-20%, and in some cases even up to 56%. GeM is also doing Demand Aggregation for items that are to be procured by various Central/State Government Departments. Demand Aggregation is expected to further drive the prices south, by way of standardization of specifications and economy of scale. Demand aggregation for most of the common use of goods and services is estimated to result in annual savings to the tune of Rs 40,000 Crore per annum. If pursued to its logical conclusion, GeM would eventually emerge as the National Public Procurement Portal, keeping in tune with the Global best practices; most of the OECD countries, like USA, South Korea, UK, Singapore etc, have a single NPPP and as a result annual savings of billions of dollars are made in public procurement, besides giving a fillip to the domestic industry.

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