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Government of Canada Launches Consultations on a new Innovation Agenda

Recognizing that Canada needs to "up its game" in innovation to successfully play in a global knowledge economy, the Government of Canada has launched consultation to develop a new Innovation Agenda for the country. The Government has announced that the following six areas will form the basis of its consultations and of the new agenda:

  • promoting an entrepreneurial and creative society
  • supporting global science excellence
  • building world-leading clusters and partnerships
  • growing companies and accelerating clean growth
  • competing in a digital world
  • improving ease of doing business

There will be consultations taking place through the summer. For more information, please see here: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1084439.


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PM Justin Trudeau to Visit India

On April 1, 2016 during the 2016 Nuclear Security summit in Washington DC, PM Justin Trudeau has his first formal meeting with India's PM Narendra Modi, where he was invited to visit India. The prime minister accepted. The two Prime Ministers hope to discuss deepening the bilateral economic ties and securing a stronger future between the two countries. Details on the specific dates have not yet been released. 

Canada's Federal Budget 2016

On March 22, 2016, Canada's government under PM Justin Trudeau released its first budget.  The budget proposes $120 billion of investment in infrastructure and job creation over the next ten years, including significant investments in public transit, clean technology, and First Nations, Inuit Peoples and the Metis Nation.

A new investment of $2 billion was announced beginning this year for a Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. The fund covers 50% of eligible infrastructure projects. The tri-council funding was also increased by an additional $95 million/year beginning this year, in addition to the previously committed $46 million/year announced by the previous government, for a total $141 million/year.

Additional investments in basic research include:

  • Mitacs- $14 million over 2 years
  • Genome Canada- $237.2 million over 4 years
  • CDRD- $32M over 2 years (beginning next year)
  • Stem Cell Network-$12 million over 2 years
  • Perimeter Institute- $50 million over 5 years (beginning next year)
  • Brain Canada Foundation- $20 million over 3 years

The budget commits up to $800 million over four years (starting in 2017) for innovative networks and clusters. And the NRC-IRAP program was provided with an additional $50 million investment for the 2016-17 year. 

The budget projects deficits of $29.4 billion this year, $29 billion in 2017-18, $22.8 billion in 2018-19, $17.7billion in 2019-20 and $14.3 billion in 2020-21.

More information, please click here.

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India Introduces New Hydrocarbon Policies

On March 10, 2016, India announced new hydrocarbon policies in attempt to reduce India’s import dependency. The hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP) will shift from production/profit sharing contracts to government revenue sharing contracts, which will eliminate the overlaps and confusion on different types of hydrocarbons and profit determination. It calls for a uniform licensing system covering all hydrocarbons including oil, gas, coal bed methane etc. under one structured framework. Secondly, HELP will facilitate price and marketing freedom for gas produced from deep water areas which will protect user industries from market imperfections. This will not only benefit the user industry by lowering average prices but also benefit the overall economy by increasing employment and GDP, and reducing imports.


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India's Solar Power Policy in the Works

Based on ministerial recommendations by the Department of Industrial Policy and Planning (DIPP), the Niti Aayog announced on April 13, 2016, that India will soon be releasing a new solar power policy. The policy will be aligned with PM Modi's governments solar energy plan to establish a generation capacity of 100 GW by 2022. This policy aims to promote domestic manufacturing of equipment and also, expand India's current solar generation capacity. The policy may include provisions like off-take guarantees, 100 percent payment guarantees, an institutional hedging mechanism for foreign investment, and a stringent offset. 

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India's Defence Procurement Policy 2016 (DPP)

On March 28, 2016, India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP). This policy was effective as of April 1, 2016 and will replace the existing DPP 2013. This policy will be geared towards a theme of partnership with Indian defence companies as oppose to the purchase of defence weapons. By strengthening its indigenous capabilities and potential through the Make in India project, this policy aims to facilitate a reduction on India’s dependence of armed imports.


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India Launches E-Trading Platform for Farmers

On April 14, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the electronic trading platform for farmers. This initiative was created as a means of improving transparency in wholesale markets and help farmers secure better prices for their produce. Not only will the scheme be designed to benefit farmers, but will also benefit stakeholders and consumers. Initially 25 commodities (including rice, corn, wheat, oilseeds some spices and vegetables) will be traded on the platform with approximately 365 wholesale markets however, its' aim will be to expand its markets to 585 by March 2018. Approximately 21 states have agreed to venture their markets to the e-platform including agriculture based Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Gujarat.

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India's Budget 2016-2017

On February 29, 2016, Narendra Modi’s government released their third budget. The main sectors targeted in this budget will be social, farm and rural sectors. While in the first two budget’s the government focused its’ spending on developing India’s infrastructure sector and attracting greater foreign direct investment, this year’s budget depicts a change in strategy. Allocating more towards welfare programs for farmers, vulnerable populations, and the rural economy.

Agriculture + Rural Sector: The budget increased the allocation towards the agriculture sector by nearly 40 percent. The objective is to double farmers income over the next five years (by the year 2022). Additionally, funding will be allocated to building a long term irrigation system, resilience against extreme weather (including monsoon and drought), creating a unified agriculture market e-platform organic farming, accessible soil testing and enhanced production of pulses. The government also plans on continuing the facilitation of credits for and interest subsidies for farmers

Energy: A key energy deliverable within this budget is to achieve 100 percent rural electrification in all villages, by May 1, 2018. Funding will be also allocated towards nuclear power generation, exploiting further nuclear energy, and oil & gas opportunities and deep water gas exploration. Renewable energy will also be promoted in this budget, with a focus on providing liquefied gas connection to poor households in efforts to reduce health and environmental hazards from cooking with open fires.

Infrastructure: The government will continue working towards the goal of physical infrastructure with particular focus on highway, road construction and port developments.

Education, skills, job creation: To further enhance the opportunities to India’s skilled workforce, this years budget will focus also on improving infrastructure at higher education institutions and entrepreneurship training. Funding will be attributed to creating and further developing multi-skill learning institutes and online courses. These projects tie into the existing Skill India initiatives under the government.

Health: The government announces efforts to start a new National Dialysis Services Programme and enhance the services provided across district hospitals. Additionally, a new health protection scheme to enhance health coverage particularly amongst the vulnerable populations will be developed.

Financial sector and investment: The budget announced that 100% FDI will be permitted in marketing of food products produced and manufactured in India, and in asset reconstruction companies. Additionally, the government proposes to introduces a Centre State Investment Agreement to ensure effective implementation of Bilateral Investment Treaties for countries signing with India. This will ensure monitoring and delivering on obligations of State governments under these treaties. The government also planes to introduce a Public Utility bill to streamline concession agreements. Additionally, the budget announced allocation towards recapitalization of public sector banks and further strengthening of monetary policy frameworks. Last the budget calls for general insurance companies to be listed on stock exchanges.

Implications on Canada

India’s budget presents some opportunities for Canada to benefit from, particularly the measures in place for ease of doing business in India. This includes the 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in marketing of food products, the revision of guidelines and renegotiation concession agreements and public private partnerships and the introduction of the Centre State Investment Agreement ensuring the effective implementation of all bilateral investment treaties.