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India to merge rail, general budgets; end non-plan, plan distinction

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New Delhi: India on Wednesday decided to do away with a 92-year-old legacy of separate general and railway budgets by unifying them and do away with differentiating plan and non-plan expenditure.

“From coming year, the railway and the general budget will be amalgamated. There will be only one budget. And secondly, distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure will be ended from next year,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said here after a Cabinet meeting.

The decision to merge the rail and general budgets was mooted by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and endorsed by NITI Aayog’s member Bibek Debroy, which also proposed the doing away of the distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure.

Both Jaitley and Prabhu clarified that the distinct identity of the Indian Railways will be maintained — including the freedom to raise resources via extra-budgetary means.

“Functional autonomy of the Railways will be maintained,” Jaitley said.

“This is a historic step, matching global benchmark and best. This will help raise capital expenditure in Railways which will enhance connectivity in the country and boost economic growth,” Prabhu said.

“Distinct identity of Railways will be maintained. Our effort to leverage extra budgetary resources will continue,” he added.

While clarifying on the new date of the budget, Jaitley said it will be advanced and the government in-principle wants the Finance Bill to be passed before March 31. But the date of the budget will be decided depending on various state elections dates.

The advancement of the date is to ensure the Finance Bill is passed in the first half of the Budget session than to spill over to the second half after recess.

Non-plan expenditure is what the government spends on the so-called non-productive areas, such as salaries, subsidies, loans and interest, while plan expenditure pertains to the money to be set aside for productive purposes, like the various projects of ministries.

Finance ministry officials said after the abolition of the Planning Commission, the relevance of plan and non-plan expenditure is lost — and a better indicator of productive and general expenditure will be a distinction under the heads of revenue and capital.

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APPLE HOMEPOD MINI LAUNCHED AT $99, IPHONE 12 STARTING $699, IPHONE 12 PRO FROM $999

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Apple Event 2020 LIVE Updates: Apple has finally removed the curtain from its iPhone 12 series. The company launched the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max at the ‘Hi Speed’ event at the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California. At the event, the company has also launched Smart HomePod Speaker.

The company says that the iPhone 12 Mini is also the world’s thinnest and lightest 5G smartphone. Let us tell that this event was once again started by Team Cook, CEO of the company.

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PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti released from detention after 14 months

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Jammu, 13 Oct : Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti was on Tuesday released from detention. “PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti is being released from detention,” said Jammu and Kashmir administration spokesperson Rohit Kansal.

A government order issued on Tuesday night said her detention was being revoked with immediate effect.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration in July had extended her detention by three months under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).

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India

Indian economy to contract by 10.3% in 2020; may show 8.8% growth in 2021: IMF

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New Delhi, 13 Oct. : The Indian economy, severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic, is projected to contract by a massive 10.3 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

However, India is likely to bounce back with an impressive 8.8 percent growth rate in 2021, thus regaining the position of the fastest growing emerging economy, surpassing China’s projected growth rate of 8.2 percent, the IMF said in its latest ‘World Economic Outlook’ report.

Released ahead of the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, the report said global growth would contract by 4.4 percent this year and bounce back to 5.2 percent in 2021.

America’s economy is projected to contract by 5.8 percent in 2020 and grow by 3.9 percent the next year, the IMF said.

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