Volvo V90 Cross Country: Should you consider it over other luxury sedans or SUVs
MMNN:15 July 2017
Volvo has found considerable success with its Cross Country models in India. First, there was the V40 Cross Country that continues to move decent numbers. Then, the company brought in the rugged S60 Cross Country sedan, which, it turns out, massively outsells its traditional sibling. The next luxury crossover from the Swedish carmaker will come in the form of the V90 Cross Country. Its a strongman-suit clad version of the V90, the estate sibling to the impressive S90 sedan. But should you consider it over typical luxury sedans or SUVs?
Youll find that the face, and much of the body up to the rear doors, is near-identical to the S90. From thereon, however, the V90s rear culminates in a sleek rear section, much unlike estates. Volvos signature tail-lamp cluster adds to the Cross Countrys handsome looks. For the luxury crossover, Volvo has toughened the design with some mild bumper cladding while standard 20-inch wheels fill out the large wheel arches nicely. Volvo has even raised the car by 60mm, giving it an SUV-rivalling 210mm of ground clearance. All-wheel drive is standard and, like the S90, there's adaptive air suspension at the rear. The estate shape has not done well in India so far, but the V90 Cross Country presents one of the prettiest ones to have hit our roads.
The cabin, based on the S90 sedan, features the same minimalist dashboard with a large 9.0inch touchscreen that controls most of the air con and infotainment settings. The V90 Cross Country, however, trades the veneer inserts on the dash and doors of the S90 for lovely aluminium panels.
The front seats are similar to the S90s heated and superbly supportive, and with electric adjust for the bolsters, lumbar support and extendable squabs. But the V90 takes it a step further with a cooling function and an enjoyable massage feature. Theres also a heated steering wheel. The rear seats in comparison are comfortable but on the firm side and come with none of the adjustability of the front. But, the new roofline means better headroom behind than the S90. Thigh support, however, is low and extendable squabs would have helped. Space at the back is good for two, but the large transmission tunnel eats into the middle passengers legroom.
What you will never complain about is storage space the wagon has an impressive 560 litres of wide and flat boot space. Should the need arise, the rear seats can be dropped to increase that number to 1,526 litres, enough for all your kitchen sinks. Recessed under the boot is a space saver spare tyre.
Theres just one fully loaded variant which comes with all the bells and every last whistle. The equipment list includes a panoramic sunroof, a sensational 19 speakers, 1,400W Bowers and Wilkins sound system, an electric tailgate, a heads-up display, four-zone climate control, full-LED headlights and paddle shifters for the automatic gearbox
Power comes from a 235hp, 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that is a significantly stronger unit than the 190hp motor found in the S90 sedan. It is smooth, refined, and dishes out power in a linear fashion. Power builds till just over 4,000rpm, after which the engine starts to get quite noisy.
This motor benefits from Volvos PowerPulse technology that helps keep the engine responsive even at low revs. The system works quite well, but put your foot down at low revs, especially on inclines, and you still feel the pause before the engine starts to pull convincingly.
The eight-speed gearbox offers smooth and near-seamless shifts in normal driving conditions, but is a bit slow to downshift when driven aggressively. There is no Sport mode either, so the best solution for spirited driving is to use manual mode through the paddle shifters. There are four driving modes - Eco, Comfort, Off-road and Dynamic. Eco dulls engine response a bit and slightly softens the steering. Comfort finds a middle ground while Dynamic offers heavier steering and sharper engine response. Dynamic also firms up the suspension a bit, but the overall differences between the modes are subtle.
The V90 Cross Country can even do a fair bit of off roading. Driving it up some broken muddy tracks through a coffee estate, the car impressed. Engaging Off-road mode sends more power to the rear wheels, and effects a small rise in ground clearance and engages hill-descent control.
Ground clearance is sufficient to deal with fairly deeply rutted tracks, and the all-wheel drive works quite nicely at pulling the car up steep tracks. In fact, the overall off-road ability is comparable with something like an Audi Q5.
The handling mannerism meets Volvos new relaxed confidence approach well. While rivals focus on a sportier experience, Volvo aims more at comfort, confidence and capability. Even in Dynamic mode, the V90 Cross Country wallows and sways a bit. However, the grip levels are quite impressive, thanks to the sticky Pirelli P Zero tyres that the car comes with. But given the large wheel and rather low profile, durability of the tyres on poor roads might be an issue.
In all, the car offers brisk and capable performance, but its not particularly sporty or engaging. However, ride quality is excellent and its only the deeper potholes that cause a thud if met with speed.
The V90 Cross Country will go on sale shortly and is expected to cost Rs 60-65 lakh (ex-showroom). What it has over the S90 sedan is a more powerful engine, additional equipment, and the ability to handle the worst that our roads can offer. Safety is given full priority, of course, with a raft of features which includes radar-assisted systems like Pilot Assist, Lane Keeping Aid (only works on clearly marked roads) and Front Collision Mitigation Support. Theres also a parking assist, adaptive cruise control, hillstart assist and hill-descent control.
The V90 Cross Country opens a new niche in the market and Volvo isnt sure if it will attract more sedan buyers or SUV buyers. It will more likely be the former as the V90 Cross Country doesn't offer the commanding presence that SUV buyers love. Either way, if you're considering a car or an SUV at this price point, this Volvo deserves your consideration.
Sensex breaches 32k-mark, Nifty at a fresh high too
MMNN:13 Jul 2017
Breaking boundaries, the benchmark Sensex breached the 32,000 mark for the first time and the NSE Nifty hit a new peak of 9,879 today on strong buzz that a policy rate cut may be on the anvil after inflation touched a record low.
A positive lead from Asia after US Federal Reserve chief indicated a gradual approach to raising US interest rates made investors here go in for fresh bets.
The 30-share index zoomed 215.60 points, or 0.67 %, to hit a new peak of 32,020.42, surpassing previous intra-day record of 31,885.11 reached on July 11.
The gauge had rallied 444.18 points in the previous three sessions.
The stock of the largest IT exporter TCS was trading 0.65 % higher ahead of its earnings today.
All the sectoral indices, led by FMCG, capital goods, power, metal, banking and auto, were trading in the positive zone, with gains of up to 1.06 %.
Shattering records, the 50-share NSE Nifty too rose 62.40 points, or 0.63 %, to hit a new life high of 9,878.50. It had touched an intra-day record high of 9,830.05 on July 11.
There are renewed hopes of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank at its policy meet next month after retail inflation hit a historically low level of 1.54 % in June and industrial output growth slumped to 1.7 % in May.
Prominent gainers in the Sensex kitty were ICICI Bank, ITC Ltd, L&T and Sun Pharma, gaining by up to 1.69 %.
Hong Kongs Hang Seng rose 1.15 % while Japans Nikkei was up 0.15 % in early session. Shanghai Composite was up 0.33 %.
The US Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 0.57 % to close at a record yesterday.
Amazon wins India's approval to invest in selling food and groceries
MMNN:11 Jul 2017
Amazon confirmed winning Indian government approval for its plan to sell food products, but it declined to provide further details
Online retail giant Amazon.com Inc has secured approval to stock and sell food and groceries in India, potentially expanding its business in the fast-growing economy where it is in a pitched battle with home-grown rival Flipkart.
Amazon confirmed winning government approval for its plan to sell food products, but it declined to provide further details.
Separately, a source familiar with the matter said Amazon planned to invest $500 million in the food segment, over and above the $5 billion it had already committed to investing in India.
Cheaper smartphones, increasing internet penetration and steep discounts have led to a surge in domestic online shopping for everything from gadgets to clothes and food items in India.
Still, mom-and-pop stores account for the biggest share of grocery sales, offering organised players huge growth potential.
Currently Amazon offers food products in India via Amazon Pantry, where retailers including joint venture Cloudtail sell various products. It also offers same-day grocery delivery on its Amazon Now app through a tie-up with Indian retailers Big Bazaar, Star Bazaar and Hypercity.
Amazon did not comment on whether its new investments would affect any of its existing tie-ups, or its Cloudtail joint venture.
Venture-funded Flipkart, whose backers include Tiger Global, Tencent Holdings and Microsoft, also plans to move into the groceries space, company executives have said.
Amazon last month announced plans to buy upscale U.S. grocer Whole Foods Market Inc for $13.7 billion.
Google search sammelan held
MMNN:10 July 2017
Google search sammelen for the online publishers was held at Hotel Noorus Sabha.Google team members enlightened the delegates about the Google search engine working and discussed Various useful points for the publishers Ms. Snigdha Bhardwaj welcomed the delegates and said that the number of internet users in india would rise to 65 crore by 2021.The number of indian language users have already overtaken the English users, she said.
Mr.Syed Malik and Abhash Tripathi explained to the delegates how to keep the web safe.They said we provide tools to help webmasters make the webpages mobile friendly.
Google provide many tools for the web masters.They also advised webmasters to access g.co/Search console that would provide all vital information about the website.
While exclusively talking to Metromirror.com Mr.Abhash Tripathi told "demand for the local language content is growing and online News is the top search category"
Ms.Sinha said by the year 2020 Adspend on the local language Ads would cross 9700 crore.
She also elaborated about the Google's Adsense program and how publishers are generating significant revenue allover the world.
Technical glitch hits NSE, F&O trading stopped
MMNN:10 Jul 2017
Trading was disrupted at the National Stock Exchange on Monday morning, after price quotations for individual stocks and indexes failed to update, but the exchanges interim chief executive said it was working to resolve the technical glitch. After resuming at 11:15am, trading was suspended again.
The technical problem on individual stocks affected traders from the start of Mondays session, preventing them from placing trades, multiple dealers said.
The exchanges stock indexes updated when trading opened but also stopped soon after. Futures and options began trading normally initially, but the NSE has stopped providing quotes, the dealers said.
The NSEs interim CEO J Ravichandran to CNBC-TV 18 was working to resolve the issue.
At this point our focus is to re-start the market and then we will have to analyse the cause.
NSEs rival, BSE Ltd, said its exchange was operating normally. The benchmark BSE index rose as much as 0.77 percent to a record high, surpassing its previous milestone hit on June 22.
It may be due to some technical glitch, said a dealer at a domestic brokerage.
Indian exchanges have previously suffered from occasional trading disruptions though they have tended to be quickly resolved.
The NSE is pursuing a listing that bankers say could raise up to $1 billion though it has yet to win approval from market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India, which is looking into a disclosure from the exchange that some brokers may have been provided unfair access to its servers.
Tax on Rosogolla, mishti doi: GST injects bitterness into popular Bengali sweets
MMNN:6 Jul 2017
Rosogolla and sandesh, misti doi and pantua - sweets that represent the soul of Bengal - have turned a tad bitter since July 1 with makers busy negotiating the maze of GST rates on the sweets, so far left out of the tax ambit.
Walk into any sweet shop in Kolkata and the dominant discussion between customers and cashier are the GST rates that have been levied on all the dozens of items that are on display.
Currently we are calculating 5% GST on all sorts of sweets, except the chocolate-flavoured ones, where the rate is fixed at 28%. We will continue to do so unless there is further notification from the government differentiating between ordinary sweets, packaged suits and dry fruit- flavoured sweets. But the apprehension of harassment possibilities are always there, said Sudip Mullick, the proprietor of the 132-year old Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick. One of the most prominent chains, it has a total of six outlets throughout Kolkata.
Sweet shops across Kolkata have turned into centres of chaos: Customers are unable to decide which sweets to buy given that the before and after tax prices vary and then they get into a long discussion with the cashier to figure the exact GST on their buy.
For example, if you buy a few pieces of rosogollas, they will attract 5% tax. But if you are taking a can for your friend who lives in another city, you will be taxed at 18%. If the sweetmaker adds pista, or kesar, the rosogolla will again be eligible for 18%. The logic: the GST rate fixed for food items made out of dry fruit is 18%.
The government has clarified that the GST rate on the main product, and not on the ingredients, will prevail. But shop owners complain of confusion.
We have about 200 products. There is one basic item with additives and condiments making a few value-added varieties out of the basic variant. So you can understand the complexity it can lead to, especially with the queue of customers in our stores where each customer has to wait for an average of 10 minutes to pay, said Dipak Kumar Mukherjee, executive director, operations of K C Das Private Limited. K C Das, which is famous all over the country for its sponge rosogolla, started its first outlet in 1930.
There are around one lakh sweet shops in Bengal. An overwhelming number of them work from hole-in-the-wall existence and cant think of buying computers and software to calculate and print bills.
These sweet traders of the state say that so far no official communication has reached them, or their association, and they are constantly in fear of inspectors turning up at their door.
But its not just the sweets but also the snacks accompanying them that have felt the GST pinch.
Popular snacks such as singara (a variant of samosa) and kachuri are confusing the maker and the consumers. The GST rate fixed for these two items is 12%, but the moment one adds dry fruits or nuts for taste, they are eligible for 18%. Again, if these items (plan, without additives such as nuts) are packed, they will be taxed at 18%.
Jiten Saha, the manager of Sri Gopal Sweets in Bondel Road pointed out problems in everyday life with retail customers. Suppose if a customer comes and buys eight pieces of singara, two cups of mishti doi, four rosogollas and two chocolate sweetmeats. There are different slabs for each. Imagine the herculean task of calculating, Saha said.
Alokesh Dholey, proprietor of Jagaddhatri Mishtanna Bhandar, said that this variety of GST slabs can create problems for both the sweetmeat retailers as for the government.
Business with annual turnover of Rs 20 lakhs are totally exempted from GST, while for those having the figure between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 75 lakh, the rate is flat at 1%. This will, on the one hand, discourage sweet retailers to expand their business. On the other, there will be tendency of under-reporting turnover. Those with Rs 25 lakh turnover will try to show it within Rs 20 lakhs, while those at Rs 80-90 lakhs will try to show it within Rs 75 lakh, he said.
Mullick also sniffs regional bias in fixing GST rates.
Lassi, a staple food among north Indians, has been totally exempted from GST. But, 18% tax has been imposed on mishti doi (sweet curd), a favourite in Bengal that carries the same ingredients as lassi, he told HT.
But whatever the confusion, one thing is for sure, GST will not be able dent the Bengali appetite for sweets.
Reliance Jio may launch 4G VoLTE feature phone worth Rs 500 soon: Report
MMNN:5 Jul 2017
Reliance Jio is likely to launch its much awaited 4G feature phone priced as low as Rs 500, a media report said, which would further stiffen competition in the telecom sector which Mukesh Ambanis venture has already disrupted.
The launch could be during RILs annual general meeting on July 21, The Economic Times reported on Wednesday.
Rumour are also rife that Reliance Jio may soon launch a new 4G-capable laptop with dedicated 4G SIM slot, besides more offers and deeper discounts.
As its Dhan Dhana Dhan offer comes to a close, telecom sector observers say that Jio will continue on its customer acquisition spree with aggressive tariffs plans. Jio already has 112.55 million subscribers as of April 2017.
Currently, Jio offers smartphones under its Lyf brand, starting as low as Rs 3,000, in the economy 4G phones segment of the likes of Micromax and Intex. But a 4G phone worth Rs 500 would disrupt the Indian telecom sector that has been seen huge competition since the launch of Jio in 2016.
Mukesh Ambani has been capitalising on Indias growing internet users with big investment plans into his venture Jio. According to a recent Internet Trends 2017 report by Mary Meeker, Indias access to internet has growing exponentially from mobile phones, with 355 million users on phones in June 2016 and 277 million broadband users, as of March 2017. Only China has larger internet-using population of around 700 million.
Interestingly, 72% of Internet users in India are less than 35 years of age.
Reliance derives the bulk of its revenue from its core refining and petrochemicals operations, but the group has bet big on Reliance Jio Infocomm. When launched in September 2016, Jio offered a flurry of cheap phones, free voice and data plans, forcing some rivals to crumble and others to unite.
Mukesh Ambanis younger brother Anil Ambanis Reliance Communications merged with its smaller rival Aircel. In February, Indias biggest telco Bharti Airtel bought out the Indian operations of Norways Telenor. This was followed by Britains Vodafone announcing a merger with Aditya Birla Groups Idea Cellular, to together become the biggest telecom company in India.
Reliance Jio, however, controls the highest chunk of 4G airwaves across India.
Samsung to invest $19 billion in chip, display plants in South Korea
MMNN:4 Jul 2017
Global tech companies have been increasing servers and data centers to handle more data from mobile devices and auto vehicles and also on expectations that adoption of artificial intelligence would create even more demand for handling data.
Samsung Electronics said Tuesday it will invest 21.4 trillion won ($19 billion) in the next four years in its memory chip and display plants in South Korea.
The South Korean company's announcement comes as the global memory chip industry enjoys a massive boom thanks to a surge in demand for microchips. Global tech companies have been increasing servers and data centers to handle more data from mobile devices and auto vehicles and also on expectations that adoption of artificial intelligence would create even more demand for handling data.
Samsung said by 2021, it will spend an additional 14.4 trillion won ($12.5 billion) to increase the capacity in its memory chip factory in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, which began operating in the day. Samsung said the 15.6 trillion won ($13.6 billion) chip plant, which broke ground two years ago, is one of the largest semiconductor production lines in the world.
Samsung will spend 6 trillion won ($5.2 billion) in its memory chip cluster in Hwaseong as well.
Another 1 trillion won ($871 million) will be spent on its display factory in Asan, which produces OLED screens for mobile phones. Samsung uses OLED screens for its high-end Galaxy smartphones. The advanced displays have allowed Samsung to distinguish its Galaxy phones from rivals with curved forms. Samsung is the dominant supplier and OLED screens for mobile devices are a lucrative business for the company, along with memory chips.
Samsung added that it is considering adding more semiconductor production lines in its factory in Xi'an, China.
GST rollout to be very smooth, assures FM
MMNN:1 Jul 2017
We will be very liberal in the first two months. For two months we have given a lot of laxity since we are getting into a new order,Arun Jaitley/ Finance Minister.
New Delhi : Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday held out the assurance of a very smooth transition into the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, promising that the administration will be very liberal and not implement it very strictly in the first two months.
Acknowledging that there will be some minor problems when a massive change takes place, he said that things will smoothen out in the times to come
I think the roll-out will be very smooth, as smooth as possible. All systems are in place. When massive change takes place there is an element of uncertainty of the unknown and when there is unknown there is fear. The whole process will change. There will be some minor problems.I think that will be a matter of days, he said.
He was replying to a question at the Aaj Tak GST Conclave on how smooth he expected the transition into the new indirect tax regime. Asked if he would give a time-frame by when things will smoothen out, he said the process of registration is on. People will get attuned to the system, reports IANS.
We will be very liberal in the first two months. For two months we have given a lot of laxity since we are getting into a new order, he said.There may be glitches because of lack of awareness. In any technology, glitches are possible. But glitches are rectifiable almost immediately, Jaitley said. This is a formal launch, because the switch over will be from 12 midnight. Its an idea of the government, he said when asked why the midnight hour was chosen for the launch. Jaitley said that the July 1 roll-out date was not his decision. It was the GST Councils decision.
Last years constitutional amendment was valid till September 15. After September 15, we would have been a tax-less society. The Constitution does not allow this. There would be anarchy if we postponed it by six months, he said.
On the whole, he said, the new law will bring in the principle of equivalence and equity in the indirect tax regime.
Indirect tax is regressive. For a product, rich or poor has to pay same tax. To bring equity in indirect tax, the product being used by common man is being taxed at lesser rate. Single slab tax not possible in India. It may be possible in a developed country, he said.
There is a need to bring equity in indirect taxation, otherwise rich and poor will be paying the same tax. The Finance Minister said that the multiple tax slabs were chosen to keep a tab on inflation.
Multiple tax rates necessary to check inflation. To prevent inflationary impact, 12, 18 per cent tax rate was necessary. At some later stage, they may be converged into 15 per cent.
If you see the overall tax rate and the goods basket, the revenue will go up but the burden will come down, he said.
GST Launch 2017 Live: A milestone in cooperative federalism, says PM Modi in Parliament
MMNN:1 Jul 2017
New Delhi: The much-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rolled out from midnight tonight from the historic Central Hall of Parliament in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, finance minister Arun Jaitley and other Cabinet ministers, many chief ministers and senior government officials. The Congress and the Left parties have decided to skipped the launch though some opposition parties attended the event.
The GST has replaced more than a dozen central and state taxes or Value Added Tax (VAT) with an aim to create a seamless unified market for the $2 trillion Indian economy.
Here are the live updates to the GST launch:
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi press button to officially launch GST. (PTI)
President Pranab Mukherjee said the ambitious central tax is a tribute to the maturity and wisdom of Indias democracy.
The new era in taxation, which we are about to initiate in a few minutes, is the result of a broad consensus arrived at between the Centre and states, Mukherjee said minutes before the GST roll-out in his speech at a special function in the central hall of Parliament.
This consensus took not only time but also effort to build. The effort came from persons across the political spectrum who set aside narrow partisan considerations and put the nations interests first. It is a tribute to the maturity and wisdom of Indias democracy, he said.
The President termed the GST a disruptive change.
It is also a moment of some satisfaction for me because, as the Finance Minister, I had introduced the Constitution Amendment Bill on 22 March 2011 he said.
It is similar to the introduction of VAT when there was initial resistance. When a change of this magnitude is undertaken, however positive it may be, there are bound to be some teething troubles and difficulties in the initial stages, he said.
Mukherjee said these issues have to be solved with understanding and speed to ensure that they do not impact the growth momentum of the economy.
Success of such major changes always depends on their effective implementation. In the months to come, based on the experience of actual implementation, the GST Council and the Central and state governments should continuously review the design and make improvements, in the same constructive spirit as has been displayed till now, he said. (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today termed the GST as a good and simple tax which will end harassment of traders and small businesses while integrating India into one market with one tax rate.
In the historic Central Hall of Parliament, Modi said the indirect tax reform is a result of combined efforts of various political parties at different points of time.
GST, he said, is an example of cooperative federalism as the centre and states together thrashed out the new law with consensus.
Besides being a transparent and fair system that will end generation of black money and corruption, GST will promote new governance culture that will end harassment at the hand of tax officials.
Touching upon initial teething troubles that may be witnessed because of unification of more than a dozen central and state levies into one and switching over to a new online return filing system, Prime Minister said even eyes have to adjust for a couple of days when a sight corrective spectacles are worn.
Modi said GST will eliminate the compounding effects of multi-layered tax system. (PTI)
Finance minister Arun Jaitley today said rollout of the GST will ease inflation, make tax avoidance difficult and boost GDP growth.
Addressing the midnight launch event of the GST in the Central Hall of Parliament, Jaitley said the implementation of the landmark unified tax should be seen as the beginning of a new journey that will expand the countrys economic horizon.
He further said that 17 transaction taxes in states and centre and 23 cesses would be subsumed in GST. An assessee will have to file only one return.
Inflation will come down, tax avoidance will be difficult, Indias GDP will be benefited and extra resources will be used for welfare of poor and weaker section, Jaitley said.
India is making history with the launch of GST, which is the biggest and most ambitious tax and economic reform in its history, the finance minister said.
The old India was economically fragmented. New India will create one tax, one market, one nation. It will be in India where Centre and states work together towards the common goal of shared prosperity, Jaitley said.
Terming GST as an important achievement for the country, he said not only will India write a new destiny, the new tax regime would also strengthen federalism.
The Constitution says India is a union of states. The union is strong if both Centre and states are strong. That is the real meaning of cooperative federalism.While enacting the GST, neither the states nor Centre gave up their sovereignty. They have pooled their sovereignty to make joint decisions in indirect taxation, the finance minister said.
In a large and complex federal system of multi-party democracy with Centre and 29 states and 2 UTs, Jaitley said India has implemented a constitutional amendment and brought in a large tax reform.
We have done this at a time when world is facing a slow growth, isolationism and lack of structural reforms. With the GST, India has showed that these forces can be overcome through display of inclusion, openness and boldness, he said.
He appreciated the efforts of all members of parliament, state finance ministers and officials in making GST a reality when many had expressed doubts whether it could be implemented from 1 July.
Jaitley also recalled the initiatives taken by his predecessors, including the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. He recalled the contribution of former finance Yashwant Sinha and former economic affairs secretary Vijay Kelkar.
All decisions of GST Council were taken uninamously.We did not want to burden common man and weaker section, Jaitley said.
President Pranab Mukherjee, PM Narendra Modi, VP Hamid President Pranab Mukherjee, PM Narendra Modi, VP Hamid Ansari arrive in Central Hall of Parliament for launch of GST. (PTI)
Rollout of the Goods and Services Tax is historical as it will bring about a revolutionary change in the country, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said today, hours ahead of the high-profile event in Delhi to mark the transition to the new tax reform.
One nation, one tax, one market will come into effect with the rollout of GST. The taxation system will make trading easier. While Maharashtra will benefit from GST, other states too will benefit a lot and our economy will get a boost, Fadnavis said in a statement issued. (PTI)
With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) coming into effect from tomorrow, rail passengers will have to pay a little more to travel AC and first class. Service tax on AC ticket charges will be hiked from 4.5% to 5%, an increase of 0.5%, after the GST implementation. Similarly, GST on transport of goods by rail will be 5% in place of service tax of 4.5% levied earlier with exemption for essential goods like milk and agriculture produce. Service tax is levied only on AC and first class fares in the Railways. (PTI)
Retailers offered steep discounts before shutting shop for software updates before GST launch at midnight on Friday. Read more
Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu today said there would be some initial hiccups in rolling out the Goods and Services Tax (GST), but those can be addressed. (PTI)
Consumers will have to shell out more for banking services, insurance premium payments and credit card bills with GST rollout from Saturday. ATM withdrawals, debit card transactions, fund transfers too will cost more. read more
Restaurants will present diners with two bills in some places on Friday one before midnight, and one after that to reflect the tax change after GST launch. read more
Retailers on an overdrive to clear stocks before the GST launch at midnight kicked in, as they wanted to minimise their pre-tax regime inventory. Prices of branded garments would go up from Saturday in line with the 12% GST rate on garments priced above Rs1,000. Those that cost less than Rs1,000 will be taxed at 5% and could be priced lower.
What was driving the discounts was the fact that traders will get only 60% credit for taxes paid by them while sourcing their stocks for meeting the GST liability on the sales they make, if invoices for taxes paid previously are not available. If documents proving taxes paid previously are available, full tax credit will be granted under the GST regime.
Power Minister Piyush Goyal today said that GST rollout is a transformational move aimed at increasing revenues that will bring down the taxes in future. (PTI)
The Delhi BJP today said it will organise camps to help trader organisations and the common people on problems and misconceptions related to the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said finance minister Arun Jaitley will address a GST-related meeting at the Talkatora Stadium on 6 July.
Nokia appoints Samsung executive as head of technologies
MMNN:30 Jun 2017
The badge Nokia is eyeing a comeback in the smartphone industry led by Apple iPhone and an array of Chinese players.
Senior Samsung executive Gregory Lee has been appointed as the head of Nokia's technologies unit and member of the group leadership team, the telecoms network equipment maker said on Friday.
"Gregory's passion for innovation and operational excellence, along with his proven ability to build and lead global consumer technology businesses, make him well suited to advance Nokia's efforts in virtual reality, digital health and beyond," the Finnish company added.
The badge Nokia is eyeing a comeback in the smartphone industry led by Apple iPhone and an array of Chinese players. Recently, the company, promoted by a group of former Nokia employees called HMD Global, launched three new Android-based smartphone range -- Nokia 6, Nokia 5 and Nokia 3.
Like several others, Samsung rose as a smartphone maker on Google's open-source Android operating system, which Nokia refused to adopt, eventually led to its downfall and bankruptcy.
IndiGo airlines expresses interest in buying stake in Air India: Report
MMNN:29 Jun 2017
IndiGo airlines, owned by InterGlobe Aviation, has expressed an unsolicited interest in buying a stake in state-owned carrier Air India, television channel CNBC-TV18 reported on Thursday quoting the aviation ministry.
Cabinet on Wednesday gave approval to privatise debt-laden Air India, the first step of a process that could see the government offload an airline struggling to turn a profit in the face of growing competition from low-cost rivals.
Shares in InterGlobe Aviation were trading lower by 3.3 percent at 0841 GMT in a strong Mumbai market.
SpiceJet chief the man of the moment at Modi-Trump meet
MMNN:28 Jun 2017
Starting a week before Trump's inauguration in January, SpiceJet has placed orders for 225 planes with Boeing, which is worth more than $22 billion
He is the man you didn't see at the Rose Garden presser by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump, but heard about there. And his company's big deal with an American company has the whole town from the White House to US congress talking.
He is the man Vice-President Mike Pence sought out on Tuesday from a hall full of top business executives from India and the US at the annual summit of US India Business Council and met him backstage before taking the podium.
"He greeted me by my name and said, 'Look. I know about the company and I know about the order that's been placed by your company," Ajay Singh, the soft-spoken chairman and managing director of SpiceJet, who got a shout-out from Trump at the Rose Garden presser, said in an interview to Hindustan Times.
"I was pleased to learn about an Indian airline's recent order of 100 new American planes, one of the largest orders of its kind, which will support thousands and thousands of American jobs, the president had said, with the prime minister by his side, without naming either Singh or SpiceJet.
Starting a week before Trump's inauguration in January, SpiceJet has placed orders for 225 planes with Boeing, which is worth more than $22 billion and which will, according to a US government certification, create 132,000 jobs. The first planes will start arriving in 2018, with the last in 2024.
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In Singh's telling, it was Boeing's idea to let the US government know of the deal once work go under way on Modi's visit. It seemed like a good idea, and as it wound around the corridors of power in New Delhi and DC, it got even better, picked up backers and, finally, the PM's office asked for a note.
Singh says he never expected this kind of attention when he placed those orders turning around a company he had built and left and came back to rebuild, from near bankruptcy - "when I took over the company (in 2015) its stocks were at Rs 12 each, and they are now at Rs 125; (we have) done well".
Sure, well enough to be cited as an example of opportunities for American companies in the Indian growth story and find mention in the Fact Sheet issued by the White House after the meeting of the two leaders listing the highlights of the cooperation between the two countries.
In their short meeting backstage at the USIBC event, Singh said Pence expressed the desire to visit SpiceJet offices when he travels to India - on Prime Minister Modi's invitation, which he said he has accepted - at a date to be determined.
Later on Tuesday, Singh was on Capitol Hill to meet lawmakers.
So how does it feel? "It's great, fantastic," Singh said, leaning forward in his seat in the coffee shop of a hotel in downtown DC, "It's a great testament to what SpiceJet has achieved.and we are glad were a part of his whole .. important meeting."
Robots are coming: What jobs will still be around in 20 years?
MMNN:27 Jun 2017
A study by Oxford University examined 702 common occupations and found that some jobs - telemarketers, tax preparers and sports referees - are at more risk than others including recreational psychologists, dentists and physicians.
The robots are coming, the robots are coming!
Regular reports warn us that an automation apocalypse is nigh. In January, a McKinsey & Company study found that about 30% of tasks in 60% of occupations could be computerised and last year, the Bank of England's chief economist said that 80m US and 15m UK jobs might be taken over by robots .
Of course, not all jobs are created equally. In 2013, a highly cited study by Oxford University academics called The Future of Employment examined 702 common occupations and found that some jobs - telemarketers, tax preparers and sports referees - are at more risk than others including recreational psychologists, dentists and physicians.
In the past, reports of the death of human jobs have often been greatly exaggerated, and technology has created a lot more jobs than it has wiped out. It's called the "Luddite Fallacy", in reference to the 19th century group of textile workers who smashed the new weaving machinery that made their skills redundant. Further, in the last 60 years automation has only eliminated one occupation: elevator operators .
While there have been optimistic predictions that new technology would increase prosperity and lower drudgery, very few of us are working the 15-hour work week that, in 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted would be the norm for his grandkids. If anything, we're working 15-hour days.
Today's technological revolution is an entirely different beast from the industrial revolution. The pace of change is exponentially faster and far wider in scope. As Stanford University academic Jerry Kaplan writes in Humans Need Not Apply : today, automation is "blind to the colour of your collar". It doesn't matter whether you're a factory worker, a financial advisor or a professional flute-player: automation is coming for you.
Before we get too deep into deep into doom and gloom, it's worth stressing that automation isn't synonymous with job losses. Speaking to me over the phone, Frey was quick to point out that his work doesn't make any explicit predictions such as "47% of US jobs will disappear". It simply says that these jobs are exposed to automation.
In other words, the jobs themselves won't entirely vanish; rather, they will be redefined. Of course, as Frey concedes, "from the perspective of the worker there is not much of a difference" between work disappearing and being radically redefined. It's likely they'll lack the new skill sets required for the role and be out of a job anyway.
Professor Richard Susskind, author of The Future of the Professions and Tomorrow's Lawyers , echoes this distinction. "What you're going to see for a lot of jobs is a churn of different tasks," he explains. "So a lawyer today doesn't develop systems that offer advice, but the lawyer of 2025 will. They'll still be called lawyers but they'll be doing different things."
So which professions are at greatest risk?
Martin Ford, futurist and author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future , explains the jobs that are most at risk are those which "are on some level routine, repetitive and predictable".
Telemarketing, for example, which is highly routine, has a 99% probability of automation. according to The Future of Employment report; you may have already noticed an increase in irritating robocalls. Tax preparation, which involves systematically processing large amounts of predictable data, also faces a 99% chance of being automated. Indeed, technology has already started doing our taxes: H&R Block, one of America's largest tax preparation providers, is now using Watson , IBM's artificial intelligence platform.
Robots will also take over the more repetitive tasks in professions such as law, with paralegals and legal assistants facing a 94% probability of having their jobs computerized. According to a recent report by Deloitte, more than 100,000 jobs in the legal sector have a high chance of being automated in the next 20 years.
Fast food cooks also face an 81% probability of having their jobs replaced by robots like Flippy, an AI-powered kitchen assistant which is already flipping burgers in a number of CaliBurger restaurants.
Ford, the futurist, classifies resilient jobs in three areas.
The first is jobs that involve "genuine creativity, such as being an artist, being a scientist, developing a new business strategy". Ford notes: "For now, humans are still best at creativity but there's a caveat there. I can't guarantee you that in 20 years a computer won't be the most creative entity on the planet. There are already computers that can paint original works of art. So, in 20 years who knows how far it's going to go?"
The second area is occupations that involve building complex relationships with people: nurses, for example, or a business role that requires you to build close relationships with clients.
The third area is jobs that are highly unpredictable - for example, if you're a plumber who is called out to emergencies in different locations.
You can see these parameters at play in the jobs The Future of Employment identifies as least at risk of automation, which include recreational therapists, first-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, repairers, occupational therapists and healthcare social workers.
While being in a creative or people-focused industry may keep your job safe for the next 10 years or so, it's very hard to predict what will happen 20 years into the future. Indeed, Susskind stresses that we should be wary of downplaying just how much computers might change the working world.
She says she believes that the 2020s are going to be a decade not of unemployment, but of redeployment. Beyond that, however, the picture is far less clear: "I don't think anyone can do long-term career planning with any confidence." As Susskind notes, "we make assumptions about the indispensability of human beings", but machines are already doing things we thought only humans might be able to. They're composing original music , for example, and beating professional players at complex board games with creative moves.
They're even helping us with our relationships with God. While the clergy only has a 0.81% probability of automation, according to data from The Future of Jobs, Susskind believes even algorithms might one day replace the ordained. As he notes, there are already apps like Confession which offer "drop-down menus for tracking sin".
While we've been doing a lot of robot-bashing, it should be noted that automation isn't the only phenomenon having an impact on the job market. Saadia Zahidi , head of the education, gender and work system initiative at the World Economic Forum (WEF), says that we "shouldn't forget that there are other drivers of change".
A 2016 WEF report identified such drivers as climate change, the rise of the middle class in many emerging markets, aging populations in certain parts of Europe and East Asia, and the changing aspirations of women as factors that will have significant impacts on jobs. "It's really the coming together of these various drivers of change that then leads to disruptions in the labor market," Zahidi notes.
The report warns that we're going to see significant ramifications from automation very soon. Zahidi explains: "The next three years will be a period of flux and a period of relatively higher losses than gains. This is not meant to be alarmist in the sense that there will be heavy job losses. But if we do nothing then this will be where we end up."
Automation may also exacerbate gender inequality, Zahidi says. Women don't make up a large proportion of people who are going into science, technology, engineering and math (Stem) and IT fields, which are likely to be the areas in which jobs will grow. On the other hand, Zahidi notes, there do tend to be more women in care-related professions, such as healthcare and education, which are at a lower risk of automation.
In the long run, women may actually end up faring better from technological change. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report found that a higher proportion of male than female jobs are at risk of automation, especially those of men with lower levels of education.
Related: Why robots should be taxed if they take people's jobs | Robert Shiller
Justin Tobin, founder of the innovation consultancy DDG, says he believes: "More and more independent thinkers are realizing that when being an employee is the equivalent to putting all your money into one stock - a better strategy is to diversify your portfolio. So you're seeing a lot more people looking to diversify their career."
Faith Popcorn, a futurist, echoes the idea that we will all have to become as agile as possible and "have many forms of talent and work that you can provide the economy".
In the future, she says, we'll all have seven or eight jobs, with the average adult working for a number of companies simultaneously rather than working for one big corporation.
"We're in the midst of this huge sweeping change that is going to impact all levels of society," Popcorn warns.
Predicting the future is Popcorn's livelihood, and she's made herself a bit of a legend over the years doing so, but even she seems a little unsettled by the pace of change today. As she tells me with a world-weary sigh, it "just makes you want to have some more tequila".
RBI reconstituted Overseeing Committee
MMNN:23 Jun 2017
The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has reconstituted the Overseeing Committee (OC) to include five members from two earlier to expedite resolution of stressed assets in the banking system.
The three new members of the OC are: MBN Rao , YM Deosthalee and S Raman. Mr Raman will join the OC on September 7.
So far, the committee had only two members "Pradeep Kumar and Janki Ballabh. Kumar is the Chairman of the OC.
Are half-baked anti-profiteering rules a nightmare in the making?
MMNN:21 Jun 2017
Businesses are worried whether anti-profiteering rules under GST would lead to witch-hunting by taxmen
In the current format, the government's anti-profiteering rules on the goods and services tax (GST) raise more questions than answers. While the intent is to curtail inflation post-GST implementation, the notification suffers from a lamentable lack of clarity on many aspects, increasing uncertainty for businesses.
To begin with, the law would be applicable to all businesses irrespective of their nature or revenue. Since businesses are already struggling to brace for the 1 July deadline, tax experts say it would have been better if these provisions were restricted to those having oligopolistic markets or ones where a significant inflationary spiral is expected due to GST.
"The concern at this point in time is whether the sweeping provisions provided in the law can be effectively enforced without affecting business confidence. Also, every reduction in tax rates or increase in input tax credit may not lead to a corresponding reduction in prices as there could be simultaneous upward movement of costs of raw material or forex swings," said MS Mani, senior director (indirect tax) at advisory firm Deloitte India.
Retro tax on Cairn: I-T dept orders recovery of Rs 10K cr, to seize shares in Indian firm
MMNN:19 Jun 2017
The Income Tax Department has ordered coercive action against Cairn Energy Plc to recover Rs 10,247 crore of retrospective tax after the British oil firm lost a challenge to the move before an international arbitration panel.
The department ordered taking away $104 million dividend due to it from its remaining stake in the erstwhile subsidiary Cairn India (now called Vedanta Ltd) and another Rs 1,500 crore of tax refund due to it, a top source said.
This follows an international arbitration panel last week deciding not to entertain a plea by Cairn Energy seeking injunction against the coercive action to recover the tax.
The source said the tax department will now move to take over the 9.8% shareholding Cairn Energy had in Cairn India.
In an emailed statement, Cairn Energy confirmed the tax department's move.
"On June 16, 2017 the Indian Income Tax Department (IITD) issued an order to Vedanta India Ltd (VIL) directing it to pay over any sums due to Cairn. Sums due to Cairn from VIL now total USD 104 million, including historical dividends of $ 53 million and a further dividend of $ 51 million after the merger of CIL and VIL," it said.
The company said however that it will continue with the international arbitration proceedings against the retrospective tax demand.
"Cairn is seeking full restitution for (UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty) Treaty breaches resulting from the expropriation of its investments in India in 2014, the attempts to enforce retrospective tax measures and the failure to treat the Company and its investments fairly and equitably," it said.
The company said it has a high level of confidence in its case under the Treaty and, in addition to resolution of the retrospective tax dispute, its claim seeks damages equal to the value of the Group's residual shareholding in Cairn India at the time it was attached (approximately $1 billion).
US Fed raises key interest rate to 1.0-1.25%, unveils cuts to bond holdings
MMNN:15 Jun 2017
The decision lifted the Federal Reserve's benchmark lending rate by a quarter percentage point to a target range of 1.00% to 1.25%
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday for the second time in three months, citing continued US economic growth and job market strength, and announced it would begin cutting its holdings of bonds and other securities this year.
The decision lifted the US central bank's benchmark lending rate by a quarter percentage point to a target range of 1.00% to 1.25% as it proceeds with its first tightening cycle in more than a decade.
In its statement following a two-day meeting, the Fed's policy-setting committee indicated the economy had been expanding moderately, the labour market continued to strengthen and a recent softening in inflation was seen as transitory.
The Fed also gave a first clear outline on its plan to reduce its $4.2 trillion (3.28 trillion pounds) portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, most of which were purchased in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession.
"The committee currently expects to begin implementing a balance sheet normalisation programme this year, provided that the economy evolves broadly as anticipated," the Fed said in its statement.
The central bank said it would gradually ramp up the pace of its balance sheet reduction and anticipates the plan would feature halting reinvestments of ever-larger amounts of maturing securities.
The Fed said the initial cap for Treasuries would be set at $6 billion per month initially and increase by $6 billion increments every three months over a 12-month period until it reached $30 billion per month in reductions to its holdings.
For agency debt and mortgage-backed securities, the cap will be $4 billion per month initially, increasing by $4 billion at quarterly intervals over a year until it reached $20 billion per month.
US stocks rose after the Fed announcement, while the dollar reversed some of its earlier losses.
"The Fed announcing an update to their reinvestment principles leaves September open. The start of balance sheet runoff and the fact that they haven't slowed their projected path of rate hikes suggest they can do both balance sheet and rate hikes at the same time," said Gennady Goldberg, interest rate strategist at TD Securities.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen was holding a press conference at 2:30pm EDT (1830 GMT).
Eyes on inflation
The Fed has now raised rates four times as part of a normalization of monetary policy that began in December 2015. The central bank had pushed rates to near zero in response to the financial crisis.
Policymakers also released their latest set of quarterly economic forecasts which showed temporary concern about inflation and continued confidence about economic growth in the coming years.
They forecast US economic growth of 2.2% in 2017, an increase from the previous projection in March. Inflation was expected to be at 1.7% by the end of this year, down from the 1.9% previously forecast.
A retreat in inflation over the past two months has caused jitters among some Fed officials who fear that the shortfall, if sustained, could alter the pace of future rate hikes. Earlier on Wednesday, the Labor Department reported consumer prices unexpectedly fell in May, the second drop in three months.
The Fed's preferred measure of underlying inflation has retreated to 1.5%, from 1.8% earlier this year, and has run below the central bank's 2% target for more than five years.
Expectations of any fiscal stimulus in the near term from the Trump administration have also waned with campaign promises on tax cuts, regulation rollbacks and infrastructure spending either still on the drawing board or facing hurdles in Congress.
Interest rates are seen rising one more time by the end of this year, according to the median projection of the forecasts released with the Fed's policy statement, in keeping with the previous forecast.
Estimates for the unemployment rate by the end of this year moved down to 4.3%, the current level, and to 4.2% in 2018, indicating the Fed believes the labour market will continue to tighten.
The median estimate of the long-run neutral rate, which is seen as the level of monetary policy that neither boosts nor slows the economy, was unchanged at 3.0%.
Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari dissented in Wednesday's decision.
WPI inflation in May cools to 5-month low of 2.17%
MMNN:14 Jun 2017
Inflation based on the wholesale price index fell to a five-month low of 2.17% in May, mainly because of a sharp drop in prices of vegetables.
In December, the reading was 2.10%.
WPI inflation was 3.85% in April and (-)0.9% in May 2016.
Pulses and cereals saw a slower growth in prices.
The wholesale price index (WPI) for the month is based on the new base year 2011-12, which was revised last month from 2004-05, with an aim to reflect the macroeconomic picture more accurately.
The slowdown in wholesale inflation comes against the backdrop of retail inflation easing to a multi-year low of 2.18% in May.
Government data showed that prices of food articles shrank by 2.27% in May on an yearly basis.
The inflation print for vegetables read (-)18.51 %. While potato saw a deflation of 44.36 %, for onion, it came in at 12.86 %.
The rate of price increase was 4.15 % in cereals, down from 6.67 % in May last year. Protein-rich pulses turned cheaper in May as prices fell by 19.73 %.
Eggs, meat and fish saw a price decline of 1.02 % annually.
The index basket of the new series has a total of 697 items, including 117 for primary articles, 16 for fuel and power and 564 for manufactured products.
There was acceleration in prices of fuel and power (11.69 %) and manufactured products (2.55 %).
However, the price rise in sugar, which falls under the category of manufactured items, slowed to 12.83 % in May, from 23.12 % a year earlier.
Google's Gboard to now recognise hand-drawn emojis, suggest phrases as you type
MMNN:13 Jun 2017
Google rolled out the Gboard for more than 200 languages, besides expanding support for languages like Hawaiian, Maori and Belgian French.
Thanks to the latest update of Google's Android keyboard, you will now be able to draw the emoji you wish to send across. The update makes the Google keyboard, called Gboard, more user-oriented on Android devices.
To start with, you can draw emojis which you are struggling to find on the emoji keyboard.
"In the emoji search box, you can now tap the emoji handwriting icon to draw emoji directly onto the screen. Your drawing will automatically be recognised and show results for your favourite emoji," Google said in a blogpost on Tuesday.
In the latest update, Gboard has taken predictive typing to next level. It now suggests phrases that could follow, instead of words, as you type.
Google gave an example: Try typing "looking forward" and Gboard suggests "to seeing" or "to it" as you type. This is supported in English today and will be rolling out to more languages soon.
The Google Search on Android phones will now show multiple, more interactive result cards.
Google rolled out the Gboard for more than 200 languages, besides expanding support for languages like Hawaiian, Maori and Belgian French
India's plan to develop Iran's Chabahar port yet to see light as US weighs sanction
MMNN:10 Jun 2017
Western manufacturers are shying away from supplying equipment for an Iranian port that India is developing for fear the United States may reimpose sanctions on Tehran, Indian officials say, dealing a blow to New Delhi's strategic ambitions in the region.
Lying on the Gulf of Oman along the approaches to the Straits of Hormuz, the port of Chabahar is central to India's hopes to crack open a transport corridor to Central Asia and Afghanistan that bypasses arch-rival Pakistan.
India committed $500 million to speed development of the port after sanctions on Iran were lifted following a deal struck between major powers and Tehran to curb its nuclear program in 2015.
But the state-owned Indian firm that is developing Chabahar is yet to award a single tender for supplying equipment such as cranes and forklifts, according to two government sources tracking India's biggest overseas infrastructure push.
US President Donald Trump denounced the nuclear agreement on the campaign trail, and since taking office in January has accused Iran of being a threat to countries across the Middle East.
Swiss engineering group Liebherr and Finland's Konecranes and Cargotec have told India Ports Global Pvt Ltd, which is developing the deep water port, they were unable to take part in the bids as their banks were not ready to facilitate transactions involving Iran due to the uncertainty over US policy, the two officials said in separate conversations with Reuters.
These firms dominate the market for customised equipment to develop jetties and container terminals. One official said the first tender was floated in September, but attracted few bidders because of the fear of renewed sanctions. That fear has intensified since January.
"Now the situation is that we are running after suppliers," one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of matter.
A Konecranes spokeswoman declined to comment beyond confirming the company was not involved in the project.
Cargotec and Liebherr did not respond to requests for comment.
Some tenders have been floated three times since September because they failed to attract bidders. A Chinese firm, ZPMC, has since come forward to supply some equipment, the same Indian official said.
Banks can now lend more, cheaper home loans likely
MMNN:8 Jun 2017
The reduction in the amount banks have to set aside (also called a provision) also mean lower home loan rates.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday made it possible for banks to lend more to home-buyers, and at lower rates, in a move that should benefit customers as well as real estate developers.
The central bank did this by reducing the amount of money banks have to set aside (as security) on home loans. Previously, they had to set aside 0.4% or Rs 400 per lakh. This has now been reduced to 0.25%, or Rs 250 per lakh.
Combined with the cut in the statutory liquidity ratio (the portion of deposits which banks have to invest in government securities) by 50 basis points, or 0.5 percentage point, this means banks now have that much more capital to lend.
The reduction in the amount banks have to set aside (also called a provision) also mean lower home loan rates.
The central bank also reduced the so-called risk weightage on home loans of between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 75 lakh to 35% from 50%, and over Rs 75 lakh to 50% from 75%.
Risk weights are used to calculate the minimum amount of capital that must be held by banks to reduce the risk of insolvency.
This could make bigger home loans less expensive (typically loans above Rs 75 lakh were up to 0.5 percentage points more expensive, in terms of interest than other loans).
"When risk weightage drops it means the banks have that much more money to lend. If it has dropped by one third it means the cost of doing business comes down which makes it possible for banks to then cut interest rate and pass it on to the borrowers," said Rajeev Ahuja, chief operating officer, RBL Bank Ltd.
The reduction in rates will be higher for bigger ticket size loans which are already more expensive when compared to loans of lower value.
Currently, the interest rate on home loans above Rs 75 lakh is higher. For instance, SBI offer an interest rate of 8.35% for loan amount below Rs 30 lakh while for loan above Rs 75 lakh the interest rate is at 8.65%.
RBI's decision was prompted by an understanding of the multiplier effect of home loans, according to N.S. Vishwanathan, deputy governor of RBI. His reference is to the fact that an increase in home loans means more home sales, which will benefit real estate developers, and companies in the construction, cement and steel businesses at one end, and companies in the furniture and appliance businesses at another.
"Delinquencies (are) generally among the lowest in home loan segment....It has been decided to reduce risk weight on certain categories on home loans and also the standard asset provisioning," Vishwanathan added.
According to Vishwanathan, reduction of statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) by 50 basis points will help banks in achieving 100% liquidity coverage ratio by January 2019. These two factors together will bring buoyancy to the home loan segment.
Credit to the housing segment has increased by 13.4% year-on-year at the end of April.
Banks are focusing on affordable housing as demand from other sectors of the economy has dried up and to take advantage of incentives offered by the government to home buyers. Many banks have reduced their home loan rates. The government on 31 December announced the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Groups, where interest subsidy of 4% was granted on housing loans of up to Rs 9 lakh and 3% on housing loans of up to Rs 12 lakh.
According to a report by CLSA India Pvt., housing sales could rise from Rs7 trillion in financial year 2017 to Rs17 trillion by fiscal 2024 on the back of market growth and impetus to affordable housing.
"The decision to reduce the risk weights for home loans over Rs. 30 lakh category will release capital for the banking industry and is a positive move," said Arundhati Bhattacharya, chairman of State bank of India (SBI).
Banks have already been aggressively cutting rates in the home loan segment. SBI, the country's largest lender, for instance, has already cut its one-year marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR)--the rate linked to its home loans--to 8% currently from 9.20% in April 2016, when MCLR first came into effect.
15th meeting of GST Council in Delhi tomorrow
MMNN:2 Jun 2017
Union Minister for Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley, will chair the 15th meeting of the GST Council here tomorrow.
The meeting, to be held at Vigyan Bhavan, is important because it is likely to finalise the rates of tax and cess to be levied on the commodities remaining after the fitment exercise in the 14th GST Council Meeting, Ministry of Finance said in a statement today.
Besides, approval of amendments to the draft GST Rules and related Forms are also on the agenda of the one- day meeting. The meeting is likely to be attended by the Finance Ministers of different states/UTs besides senior officers.
Cabinet may decide on FIPB abolition today
MMNN:24 May 2017
The Union cabinet is expected to clear a proposal on Wednesday to allow direct approval to foreign investment proposals by ministries as part of the government's efforts to expand the ease of doing business.
In the latest push for ease of doing business, the Union cabinet is expected to allow direct approval to foreign investment proposals by ministries.
The likely clearance of the proposal on Wednesday can also speed up the much-needed investment process amid the Narendra Modi government's desperate push for job generation.
During this year's Union budget presentation, finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced that the decades-old Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), which clears proposals up to Rs 5000 crore, would be scrapped.
India has opened up most of the sectors to enable foreign companies to set up shop in the country. This in turn has reduced the utility of the FIPB.
"The Cabinet is likely to take up the proposal of abolishing FIPB at its meeting on Wednesday," official sources said.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, DIPP, will act as the nodal body for all foreign investment proposals, a source added.
The FIPB was initially constituted under the Prime Minister's Office in the wake of economic liberalisation in the early 1990s. It vets sectors such as defence and retail trading.
After the abolition of the FIPB, sources said, ministries concerned will clear FDI proposals.FDI inflows touched a record $60.1 billion in 2016-17, as the Narendra Modi government eased rules to lure global conglomerates to enter India.
In the last three years, the government has eased 87 FDI rules across 21 sectors to accelerate economic growth and boost jobs.
Tata Motors cuts up to 1,500 managerial jobs
MMNN:24 May 2017
Tata Motors says blue collar or worker jobs have not been impacted as part of the exercise.
Tata Motors said on Tuesday it has reduced its managerial workforce by up to 1,500 people domestically as part of an organisational restructuring exercise.
"The reference (total managers) on which we started (the exercise) was in the vicinity of 13,000...we do see as far as the white collar population is concerned, an overall reduction in the vicinity of 10-12% (up to 1,500)," managing director and chief executive Guenter Butschek told reporters here.
He was speaking after announcing the company's earnings for the fiscal 2016-17.
The company joins a growing number of organisations adopting such strategies for a variety of reasons, ranging from cutting the flab to automation. These job cuts, which have led to concerns on 'jobless economic growth' in various quarters, have been across multiple sectors, including capital goods, banking & finance, and information technology.
Engineering, procurement and construction major Larsen and Toubro had announced shedding of 14,000 jobs in the first half of FY17, HDFC Bank has also reduced its workforce by over 10,000 in the second half of FY17 alone.
In the IT segment, the country's largest private sector employer, some estimates have pegged the job losses at over 50,000.
The Tata Motors management, however, said blue collar or worker jobs have not been impacted as part of the exercise.
With the aim to reduce the number of managerial levels to 5 from the earlier 14, the top automaker undertook a review during the last financial year and identified the possibilities for restructuring.
"We underwent a very detailed exercise in terms of the roles, the requirements and the fitment of the roles etc. It was a very comprehensive exercise which we rolled out over a 6-9 month period which also factored in performance and leadership qualities," the company's group chief financial officer, C Ramakrishnan, told PTI.
Terming it as a "holistic fundamental review", he said the programme has been completed now and the company will be coming out with a new structure soon.
Officials said the exercise was carried out with a view to get ownership and accountability within the organisation and not to cut costs.
While some of the affected employees were given voluntary retirement option, some were transfered to a services arm -- Global Delivery Centre, the officials said.
However, they did not quantify the number of people moved to the services arm which is based out of Pune.
Enough is enough: SC orders sale of Sahara's Rs 34,000 crore Aamby Valley
MMNN:17 April 2017
The Supreme Court today asked Bombay High Court's official liquidator to sell the Rs 34,000 crore worth of properties of the Aamby Valley owned by the Sahara Group and directed its chief Subrata Roy to personally appear before it on April 28.
"Enough is enough. You cannot say something today and resile tomorrow," a bench, comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, said, taking strong note of non- submission of over Rs 5,000 crore by the Sahara group.
The bench also cautioned Roy from playing with the court's order and said non-compliance of its order would invite the wrath of the law and ultimately he will be at his own peril.
The bench asked the official liquidator, attached with the Bombay High Court, to auction the Aamby Valley properties, estimated to be worth Rs 34,000 crore, and directly report to it.
The bench also directed Roy and his group as well as SEBI to provide all necessary details relating to the properties to the official liquidator within 48 hours.
Meanwhile, the top court restrained one Prakash Swamy, who has filed an affidavit with regard to the sale of Sahara hotels in the USA, from leaving India and asked him to deposit Rs 10 crore as fine with the market regulator SEBI.
Swamy will also have to appear in person in the apex court on April 28.
The Supreme Court had on April 6 warned the Sahara Group that if it failed to deposit Rs 5092.6 crore in SEBI-Sahara refund account by April 17 in pursuance of its order, it will be "compelled" to auction its property at the Aamby Valley in Pune.
The top court had told the group that no extension of time would be granted for depositing the amount.
The observation had come when the lawyer mentioned an interim plea seeking extension of time for depositing the money in the SEBI-Sahara refund account.
The court had also observed that it had clearly told the group that a "substantial amount" must come in the refund account.
"Whatever you do, we had told you that a substantial amount must come. Otherwise we will be compelled to put up Aamby Valley for auction," the bench had said, noting "What matters is the money coming in the kitty." The apex court had on February 28 said "in case, the substantial amount is deposited, this court may think of extending the time, otherwise appropriate direction shall be issued".
The court had last month ordered an international real estate firm, which had shown willingness to buy Sahara's stake in New York-based Plaza Hotel for USD 550 million, to deposit Rs 750 crore in the SEBI-Sahara refund account, instead of the apex court registry to show its bonafide.
The top court had earlier directed attachment of Sahara Group's prime property for realisation of money to be paid to its investors.
It had also asked the group to provide it within two weeks the list of "unencumbered properties" which can be put up for public auction to realise the remaining over Rs 14,000 crore of the principal amount of around Rs 24,000 crore that has to be deposited in the SEBI-Sahara account for refunding the investors.
The court had on November 28 last year asked Subrata Roy to deposit Rs 600 crore more by February 6 in the refund account to remain out of jail and warned that failure to do so would result in his return to prison.
It had on May 6, 2016 granted a four-week parole to Roy to attend the funeral of his mother. His parole has been extended by the court ever since. Roy was sent to Tihar jail on March 4, 2014.
Besides Roy, two other directors -- Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary -- were arrested for failure of the group's two companies -- Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) -- to comply with the court's August 31, 2012 order to return Rs 24,000 crore to their investors.
However, director Vandana Bhargava was not taken into custody.
WPI inflation falls to 5.7% in March due to easing fuel prices
MMNN:17 April 2017
Inflation based on the wholesale price index slipped to 5.70 per cent in March due to easing fuel prices and cost decline of manufactured goods even as food prices hardened.
The WPI inflation, reflecting the annual rate of price rise, in February was 6.55 per cent. In March 2016, the print came in at (-)0.45 per cent.
According to official data released on Monday, food prices saw a sharp rise of 3.12 per cent in March compared to 2.69 per cent in the previous month.
This is primarily because of a steep price jump in vegetables where inflation stood at 5.70 per cent. As for fruits, the figure was also high at 7.62 per cent, while for egg, meat and fish, it was 3.12 per cent.
Fuel inflation declined to 18.16 per cent, from 21.02 per cent in February.
The manufactured items witnessed some softening in price rise, with inflation at 2.99 per cent in March, as against 3.66 per cent in the previous month.
The government also revised upwards January inflation to 5.53 per cent from the provisional estimate of 5.25 per cent.
Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank had left key policy rate unchanged at 6.25 per cent for the third review in a row citing upside risks to inflation. It had, however, increased the reverse repo rate -- which it pays to banks for parking funds with it -- by 0.25 per cent to 6 per cent, narrowing the policy rate corridor.
For 2017-18, it projected retail inflation to average 4.5 per cent in the first half and 5 per cent in the second half.
Data released last week showed that retail inflation touched a five-month high of 3.81 per cent in March on costlier food items and non-food products like fuel and light. RBI frames its monetary policy stance on the basis of retail inflation.
Flipkart raising $1.4 bn from Microsoft, Tencent, eBay shows Indian e-commerce is going strong
MMNN:10 April 2017
India's first and largest home-grown e-commerce player has moved to the centrestage with a funding of $1.4 billion from Tencent, eBay and Microsoft.
The transaction values Flipkart at $11.6 billion. This comes at a time when investors, concerned over the profitability and rising competition, are marking down the company's valuation. In February, Morgan Stanley mutual fund had marked down the valuation of the company for the fifth time to around $5.37 billion. Compare this with the $15 billion value the company commanded in 2015.
The latest round of funding has been viewed with much positivity by the trade primarily because many expect this to help the company get wings to soar and take on deep-pocketed Amazon.
The funding only shows that the ecommerce story in India is going strong and that there is market growth in the sector, said Paula Mariwala, partner, Seedfund and co-founder, Stanford Angels. "What did not work was the economics of acquiring customers and customer services. This development shows that the fundamentals of the growth story is intact and ecommerce continues to be a solution for products, consumers and marketers who want to reach out to consumers," said Mariwala. The funding only goes on to prove that the promise held out by the sector still holds true, she added.
The sector is ripe for correction and funding of this kind will buoy the sagging sector which is seeing many players bleeding on account of intense competition and the discounts game to attract customers. "The sector is right for course correction be it in furniture, food delivery or digital wallets. There are too many players across segments in the e-commerce space and it is time for the stronger players to consolidate their position with mergers and then becoming a stronger contender," says Arvind Singhal, chairman and managing director of Technopak Advisors, a retail industry consulting firm.
When one player dominates the market and the others are struggling to survive, it does not bode well for the industry per se and also the consumers, says an analyst.
The government has given a fillip to digital payments post-demonetisation which has further helped the ecommerce sector. People are adopting the digital medium faster than ever. The India story has got stronger with a large number of people using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform developed by the National Payments Corporation of India. All this will only help ecommerce players to penetrate deeper into the market.
Under these circumstances, when a home-grown player like Flipkart gets a helping hand, it is a win-win situation for the company and its investors. "I don't think Flipkart qualifies to be called a home-grown player any more," said an analyst, pointing out to the fact that not just Flipkart but most ecommerce players are no longer run by the promoters but the investors who are keen on growth and not in a hurry to exit the market.
By the end of this year, more consolidations in the e-commerce sector is expected. "Consolidation is one solution to growth. It is happening all across the country," said Anil Talreja ,Partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells. He said, in the ecommerce sector, there is always an issue with regard to startups and sustainability. If you are not in a position to sustain yourself and get a helping hand and subsume into that, it is a way to growth, he said.
According to another analyst, the biggest asset in the space is connect with customers. In this case, Flipkart is a company with this asset already. "The funders are willing to pump in money so as to enlarge the customer base and get loyal ones on board," the analyst said.
However, Singhal points out the development proves the sector has enough space for more than large players. "People have been speculating on the demise of Flipkart or its merger with partners not of its liking. This funding only goes to show that there is space for more players in the market," said Singhal.
What is curious about the Flipkart deal is its buying out eBay's India operation while the latter makes an investment in Flipkart. eBay, a first mover in the category, had lost much of its sheen and was not in the race at all for some years now. "It has had a face-saver with its buy-out by Flipkart and also by making an investment in Flipkart," said Mariwala.
With demands not yet met, petrol pumps threatens to take off every Sunday
MMNN:10 April 2017
With the government yet to decide on their demand for higher commission, the petrol pump owners have threatened to take off every Sunday. As per the report 'The Times of India' the petrol pump owners have also threatened to observe May 10 as 'No Purchase Day'.
In January, amid tussle between banks and petrol pumps, the central government had declared that the pump dealers and customers would not have to pay transaction cost after owners of petrol pump owners threatened to stop taking cards. A day before, the associations had threatened of not accepting debit or credit cards, even though there was no such notifications from the Reserve Bank of India on the matter.
Speaking to reporters, one of the petrol pump owners had said that for each payment on credit cards, the banks charged 1 percent. Speaking to reporters, Delhi Petrol Dealers Association president Anurag Narain had said that banks had levied a fee of 1 percent, due to which petrol pumps have an option but to stop EDC machines from operating.
The pump owners, who were not willing to pay such a huge amount, had voiced their concern in public and had promised to retaliate in kind against these banks. Some banks like ICICI Bank had however late on Sunday announced they had not issued any such orders and were not imposing any such charge.
Coming in their support, the Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers Association had also said it received a notice from banks saying that a Merchant Discount Rate of one percent will be taxed on all transactions done at the retail fuel outlets.
In a response to this, the associations had announced to stop digital payment for fuel on the day. Later in the night, the announcement was taken back, following intervention by authorities.
Fake rent receipt won't help you lower tax burden anymore
MMNN:5 April 2017
For as long as anyone can remember, producing fake property rent receipt, often from parents and relatives, has been an easy way to lower tax burden.
Such cavalier disregard for tax rule was overlooked by most employers as well as taxman, who possibly felt it was a minor transgression. Perhaps, not anymore.
The income tax department now has good reason to insist on proof from the tax payer showing that he is indeed a genuine tenant, staying in the property in question.
A salaried employee receiving 'house rent allowance' from the employer could escape paying tax on at least 60% of this amount by generating sham rent receipt.
However, according to a recent tribunal ruling, the assessing officer can now demand proof - such as leave and licence agreement, letter to the housing co-operative society informing about the tenancy, electricity bill, water bill etc. - in allowing a lower taxable income as computed by a salaried employee.
"The ITAT (Income Tax Appellate Tribunal) ruling has now laid down the criteria for the assessing officer to consider the claim of a salaried employee and if necessary question its justification. This will put the onus on the salaried class to follow the rules in availing the tax rebate," said Dilip Lakhani, senior tax advisor, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP.
Understandably, none of the required documents are available with salaried employees submitting fake rent receipts. There may not be any actual rent outflow from the person as he may be staying in his family home and collecting a receipt signed by his father. Even if a person is a genuine tenant, the amount mentioned in the receipt may be more than what's paid. This will not pose a problem if the person receiving the rent is outside the tax net. There are several instances where a person may be staying separately but claiming to pay rent to a relative owning another property in the same city; or, one of member of the family claiming a loan repayment deduction while another submitting a false rent receipt to evade tax.
Given the widespread practice of paying tax on only a small slice of HRA, it's unclear how far tax officials would go in questioning such claims and pinning down salaried employees.
However, ITAT Mumbai's decision to strike down the HRA exemption claim of a salaried individual for rent paid to her mother could set a precedent.
"Technology and stricter reporting system may make it easier for the (income tax) department. For instance, there was a time when many never bothered to pay tax on interest earned from bank fixed deposits. Today, it's almost impossible. In case of HRA exemption, the assessing officer may crosscheck whether the address mentioned in the ITR form is the same as the property on which rent is paid," said a tax officer.
The Tribunal ruling comes a few months after the government's decision to cap the loss on property bought with borrowed money. Till now, a person paying an interest of, say, Rs 3 lakh on a loan (he took to buy the property) and earning Rs 1.2 lakh as rent could show the difference of Rs 1.8 lakh as 'loss' and set it off against salary income to pay lower tax.
In the last Union budget it was laid down that such losses for an individual tax payer cannot exceed Rs 2 lakh.
SBI hikes transaction charges; customers decide to boycott bank on April 6
MUMBAI: MMNN:5 April 2017
After five years, the country's largest lender State Bank of India has decided to raise charges on various transactions through ATMs.
Some SBI customers have taken to social media to protest the hikes and called for a "no transaction day" on April 6.
They are also sharing the a text message calling for the boycott on April 6 and subsequent protests on April 24- April 26, if the bank does not remove the charges.
SBI has implemented a new list of rules for millions of its customers across India. Right from the introduction of an increased minimum balance to various new transaction charges. The new changes have been implemented from April 1.
Even customers of the six new banks that merged with SBI will have to follow this new list of rules. With the central bank introducing these new charges, there is a high probablity that other private sector banks will follow the suit and increase their banking charges.
The move came after private banks like ICICI, HDFC and Axis bank announced similar changes.
Banks including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank began charging a minimum amount of Rs 150 per transaction for cash deposits and withdrawals beyond four free transactions in a month.
The charges would apply to savings as well as salary accounts effective from last month.
Not in talks with Paytm, Flipkart for sale: Snapdeal
MMNN:22 March 2017
E-commerce marketplace Snapdeal on Wednesday firmly denied that it was in talks to sell the firm, after Mint newspaper reported the company was in talks with domestic rivals for a potential sale.
Mint had reported Snapdeal was in talks with Paytm and Flipkart for a potential sale, quoting sources.
"Snapdeal categorically denies having had any such discussion. The information is incorrect and without basis. We are making decisive progress in our journey towards profitability and all our efforts are aligned in this direction," a spokeswoman said in a written statement.
China, India led slowdown in coal power development, says report
MUMBAI: MMNN:22 March 2017
China's clampdown on new coal projects and a reluctance by backers to provide further funds in India are mainly responsible for last year's drop in the amount of coal-powered generation capacity under development, environmental groups said in a report.
Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and CoalSwarm found global pre-construction planning fell 48% and new construction starts dropped 62% last year compared with 2015, according to the report, titled "Boom and Bust 2017: Tracking The Global Coal Plant Pipeline."
China last year imposed restrictions on further expansion of coal-power capacity amid increasingly low utilization rates at existing plants, according to the report. In India, the ministry of power said in June that the country had enough coal-fired plants to meet demand through 2019, while a draft National Energy Plan, released in December, said no further coal power capacity beyond that currently under construction will be needed until at least 2027.
In China and India, 68 gigawatts of construction is frozen at more than 100 project sites, according to the report. The research also found that coal plant retirements are taking place at an unprecedented pace, with 64 gigawatts of retirements in the past two years, mainly in the European Union and the US.
Meanwhile, the report identified 10 "hot spot" countries including Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan, that have failed to develop their renewable-energy sectors in step with their peers while continuing to build and plan new coal plants.
SBI Justifies Penalty For Not Keeping Minimum Balance
MMNN:8 March 2017
Facing a backlash for levying penalty on non-maintenance of minimum balance in accounts, State Bank of India, the country's largest lender, on Wednesday justified its move saying the bank needs to impose some charges to balance the "burden" of managing a large number of no-frills Jan Dhan accounts.
The bank also said it has not received any "formal communication" from the government for re-considering the penalty and it will take a call "if something comes". It also clarified the penalty would not apply to Jan Dhan accounts.
Last week, the country's largest bank decided to reintroduce penalty on non-maintenance of minimum balance in accounts and also revised charges on other banking services.
The new charges would be applicable from April 1. The move by the state-run banking major has faced a lot of criticism, including from the opposition parties.
"Today, we have lot of burden such as we have 11 crore financial inclusion or Jan Dhan accounts. To manage such a large number of Jan Dhan accounts, we need some charges. We have considered many factors and after analysing carefully, we have taken this step," State Bank of India chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya told reporters here on the sidelines of a national convention of women entrepreneurs.
As per the list of revised charges of SBI, failure to maintain monthly average balance (MAB) in accounts will attract a penalty of up to Rs. 100 plus service tax.
In metropolitan areas, there will be a charge of Rs. 100 plus service tax, if the balance falls below 75 per cent of the monthly average balance of Rs. 5,000. If the shortfall is 50 per cent or less of the MAB, then the bank will charge Rs. 50 plus service tax.
The charges and monthly average balance varies according to the location of bank. It is minimum in case of rural branches.
Ms Bhattacharya said that all the banks have minimum balance requirement for account holders and SBI as such has the lowest minimum balance requirement.
She said the penalty was there earlier also and State Bank of India was the only bank to withdraw it in 2012.
"Our analysis have shown that most of the account holders maintain more than Rs. 5,000 on a monthly basis and so they do not have to worry about any penalty," Ms Bhattacharya said.
She clarified that the penalty on non-maintenance of minimum balance will not be applicable on Jan Dhan accounts.
Asked about the government's direction to the bank to reconsider the decision, SBI managing director (national banking) Rajnish Kumar said the bank has not received any communication on this issue.
"There is no formal communication. We will see if something comes," Mr Kumar said.
Under the revised charges, withdrawal of cash from ATMs will attract a charge of up to Rs. 20 if the number of transactions exceeds three from other bank's ATMs in a month and Rs. 10 for more than five withdrawals from State Bank of India ATMs.
However, SBI will not levy any charge on withdrawals from its own ATMs if the balance exceeds Rs. 25,000. In case of withdrawal by its customers from ATMs of other banks, there will be no charge if the balance exceeds Rs. 1 lakh.
"We are charging as people go to ATMs, withdraw cash and give it to somebody who in turns deposit it into the bank. This type of transaction involves a cost which is not known to public as bankers do not levy any charge on the customers."
"There is some cost involved in printing cash, in transportation, counting and providing security to cash. The cost is borne by the tax payers. There is a cost in installing an ATM and so we feel the charges are very reasonable," Ms Bhattacharya said.
She said the customers must use alternate channels like mobile, internet to do their transactions.
"We do not see there is a requirement for an household person to withdraw cash through ATMs for more than four times. Daily cash requirement is more for people doing businesses and we want them to use mobile and internet banking to do transactions," she said.
While addressing the convention, Ms Bhattacharya said the bank so far has given loan worth to Rs. 1,60,000 crore to the MSME sector.
"This year alone we have done more than Rs. 10,000 crore. We wish to do around Rs. 16,000 crore of Mudra loans by the end of this financial year," she said.
At present, nearly 55 per cent of the bank's balance sheet comprises retail segment and balance is to large segment.
"I have no problem at all if I am able to tilt that more in favour of retail. I would love to do that. Of course large segment needs support because of that you would have the airports ... the roads you have today, for defence you are going to set up an SME and for that you need steel, cement.
"So, the large sector also needs support from the bank. But that does not mean that we (banks) are not there for you (retail segment)," she said.
Flipkart Now Said to Be Looking to Raise Up to $1 Billion
MUMBAI: MMNN:8 March 2017
India's top e-commerce company Flipkart is holding talks with investors to raise up to $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,671 crores) in one of its biggest funding rounds so far, a source familiar with developments said on Wednesday.
The source declined to name the potential investors and the exact valuation Flipkart was looking for, but said it hoped the valuation would be in the "double digits", referring to a valuation of $10 billion or more.
Earlier on Wednesday, Financial Express newspaper, citing unidentified sources, said the expected fundraising could value Flipkart at up to $8 billion, far lower than the roughly $15 billion in its last funding round.
A Flipkart spokesman said the company would not comment on market speculation.
Flipkart's latest fundraising comes amid intensifying competition in the e-commerce space from the likes of US Internet giant Amazon.com Inc and domestic rival Snapdeal, which is backed by Japan's Softbank Group.
The ensuing heavy losses have hit valuations among India's e-commerce players. Some funds that have invested in Flipkart have recently slashed the value of their holdings, media reports have said, citing securities filings.
Launched by two former Amazon employees in 2007, Flipkart's biggest investor is US hedge fund Tiger Global. Others include Accel Partners, DST Global and Baillie Gifford.
The company has so far raised more than $3 billion in funding, mostly from international investors.
Geet & Devashish Bag First Prize For CII Young Indians Dream Start Up Challenge Competition
MMNN:27 Feb. 2017
Geet Soni and Devashish Saxena bagged the first prize worth Rs.2 lakh in the prestigious Dream Start Up Challenge 2017 competition for their healthcare start up Medicloud365. The second prize of Rs.1 lakh was given away to Rahul Dixit of Pooja Path Solutions- a start up providing religious services for all the occasions whereas Pramod Maithali won consolation prize for his primary school learning kit Tinkering Lab.
This national level competition that received 213 entries from across India, was organised by CII Young Indians in association with AISECT University and Netlink Limited. The finale of the competition held here on Saturday in which 8 finalists presented their business ideas before the jury. These shortlisted finalists were mentored for last six months by CII Young Indians Enterpreneurship & Innovation vertical head Siddharth Chaturvedi and co chair Nikhil Kaushik.
The jury included Dr Sandeep Kadwe, Managing Director & CEO, Madhya Pradesh Venture Finance Limited; Mr Anurag Shrivastava, Chairman, Netlink Private Limited, Mr Abhishek Sanghvi, Co-Founder, Swan Angel Network; and Mr. Sandro Stephen, Head Of Operations, North & South India, Indian Angel Network.
Jury member Anurag Shrivastava in his address gave useful tips on how to take their businesses forward.
In his welcome address CII Young Indians, Bhopal chairman Mr. Rakesh Sukhramani said the objective of the competition was to bring together young entrepreneurs, angel investors, mentors and government and private bodies working in the field of start ups.
Dr. Sandeep Kadve, managing director, Madhya Pradesh Venture Finance Limited said the State government has allocate aed Rs.100 crore worth fund for upcoming entrepreneurs. He said start ups seeking investment may approach him for the necessary support.
Paytm E-Commerce Launches Online Marketplace App - Paytm Mall
MUMBAI: MMNN:27 Feb. 2017
Paytm E-commerce today announced the launch of its new Paytm Mall application on Android.
Paytm Mall aims to offer a combination of the Mall and Bazaar concepts to Indian consumers.
"Only trusted sellers passing strict quality guidelines and qualification criteria will be allowed on the 'Mall'," Paytm said in a statement here.
All products listed on the mall will also go through Paytm certified warehouse and shipping channels ensuring guaranteed consumer trust, it said.
"We have defined quality criteria for sellers and are building strict controls over warehousing and shipping for products sold on Paytm Mall. Consumers would continue to get the largest assortment of domestic and international products through Paytm Bazaar, which will also be featured on the new app," said Saurabh Vashishtha, Vice President - Paytm.
The Bazaar is an unstructured shopping channel on Paytm that will also be featured on a new application, it added.
Paytm Mall has over 17 fulfilment centres across the country to offer consumers an efficient online shopping experience.
The platform would also offer sellers the widest reach through its vast network of over 40 courier partners, it said.
The Paytm Mall would also launch an ungraded version of the Paytm Seller app, available in 7 regional languages allowing anyone with a smartphone to set up an online shop on Paytm Mall.
Paytm Mall is available on Android, and lists over 68 million products sold by 1.4 lakh sellers spread over 1000 cities and towns across the country. The iOS app is expected soon.
RBI exempts KYC-compliant accounts from interrogation, single-deposit rule
NEW DELHI: MMNN:21 Dec. 2016
Rattled after huge protests against banks interrogating people who deposited more than Rs 5,000 rupees in demonetised currency notes, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) amended its December 19 notification today and exempted fully KYC-compliant accounts.
Now people will be asked no questions on deposit of more than Rs 5,000 in scrapped currency in KYC-compliant accounts. Also, now more than one deposit, even if above Rs 5,000, can be made in KYC-compliant accounts till December 30.
Its RBI's 60th notification since November 8-and one of many U-turns on deposit and withdrawal norms.
KYC (know your customer) is a process through which banks obtain information about the identity and address of the customers while opening accounts and periodically update the customers' KYC details.
Two days ago, the RBI had notified that deposit of demonetised notes in excess of Rs 5,000 into a bank account would be received for credit only once during the remaining period till December 30, 2016. The credit in such cases, it said, would be allowed only after questioning the depositor, on record, in the presence of at least two officials of the bank, as to why this could not be deposited earlier and receiving a satisfactory explanation. The explanation was to be kept on record to facilitate an audit trail at a later stage.
The notification had also said that deposit of demonetised notes up to Rs 5,000 in value received across the counter would be allowed to be credited to bank accounts in the normal course until December 30, but when several deposits smaller than Rs 5,000 taken together exceeded Rs 5,000 they might be subject to the procedure to be followed in case of deposit of above Rs 5,000.
Both these parts of the December 19 notification will not apply to the KYC-compliant accounts after today's modification in norms.
On December 19, after the RBI notification, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had contradicted it, saying no questions would be asked if any amount of demonetised currency was deposited at one go but repeated deposits might raise queries. Even after Jaitley's assurance, some banks questioned those who wanted to deposit more than Rs 5,000, and made them fill in a form. This created a huge uproar, with many terming the process as an unnecessary interrogation of small customers while a lot of big fish escaped scrutiny.
Cash crunch should be over by February, but RBI may not replace all notes
MUMBAI: MMNN:17 Dec. 2016
India's crippling cash shortage should start easing by mid-January and be completely resolved by March assuming the Reserve Bank of India wants to replace all the notes withdrawn from circulation.
Discussions with bankers and former RBI officials reveal that just over 50% of the withdrawn notes would have come back into circulation by mid-January thanks to presses working round the clock. The smaller size of notes mean that 40 pieces can be printed per sheet instead of 36 earlier. The fact that presses are working seven days a week across three shifts could result in a nearly 50% increase in capacity, they added.
"As per this calculation, the issue should be largely addressed by January and be taken care of by February," said a retired central bank official, who did not want to come on record.
RBI officials did not reply to an official query on the issue. The RBI Annual Report for 2015-16 showed that there were around 15.7 billion Rs 500 denomination notes and 6.3 billion of Rs 1,000 currency notes in circulation.
If RBI wanted to reintroduce the entire amount back into the system, the printing requirement would be 22 billion pieces. But only half of the 6.3 billion Rs 1,000 notes need to be printed since the denomination has been increased to Rs 2,000. This brings down the total printing requirement to about 18 billion pieces.
RBI usually prints around 20-23 billion pieces per year, and a 50% increase in capacity could mean that all the four presses have a capacity to print 30-35 billion pieces. The central bank started printing these new notes in October.
So more than six billion pieces would have been printed so far assuming a monthly run of about 2.5-3 billion.
Total replacement of all the withdrawn notes would happen by March but the cash shortage could start easing by January as nearly 10 billion pieces would have come back into the system. But RBI officials have been signalling that they don't intend to replace all the withdrawn notes. Bankers who have been discussing the issue with the central bank report that there is a very high chance of all the notes not coming back into the system as cash.
Bankers say that RBI is focused on reducing the cash-to-GDP ratio now at 12% of GDP to somewhere between 8-10% of GDP. They say that the public should be prepared for reduced circulation of cash in the economy. In such a situation, one may not have to wait till March for the situation to stabilise, bankers say. It should come back to normalcy by January or end-February though it will be a new normal and not at all comparable to the situation prevailing before November 8.
Wholesale inflation dips to 3.15% in November as food prices cool
New Delhi: MMNN:14 Dec. 2016
Wholesale inflation eased for the third straight month as it fell to 3.15 per cent in November after subdued demand due to demonetisation led to softening of prices of vegetables and other kitchen staples.
The wholesale price index-based inflation, reflecting the annual rate of price rise, in October stood at 3.39 per cent. In November 2015, the print was (-)2.04 per cent.
WPI inflation in vegetables, at (-)24.10 per cent in November, saw deflationary pressure for the third consecutive month. This was helped by a substantial price fall in onions, which stood at (-)51.51 per cent.
Pulse inflation continued to rule high at 21.73 per cent in November, according to commerce ministry data.
Potato recorded maximum inflationary pressure at 36.97 per cent. Inflation in fruits rose to 2.45 per cent during the month.
Overall, the food inflation basket showed moderation with inflation at 1.54 per cent in November as against 4.34 per cent in October.
The reading for manufactured articles was 3.20 per cent compared with 2.67 per cent in the previous month. The corresponding figure for sugar came in at 31.76 per cent and that of petrol 5.54 per cent.
The WPI inflation for September has been revised upwards at 3.8 per cent against the provisional estimate of 3.57 per cent.
The decline in wholesale inflation coincides with a fall in retail inflation, which hit a two-year low of 3.63 per cent in November.
The monetary policy committee headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel had earlier this month held interest rates steady and said demonetisation of high value currency notes could lower prices of perishables and reduce CPI inflation by 10-15 basis points by December.
Even as RBI maintained 5 per cent inflation target for March 2017, it trimmed GDP growth forecast to 7.1 per cent, from 7.6 per cent, for the current fiscal.
No bank officials will be spared if found involved in wrongdoings: FinMin
New Delhi: MMNN:10 Dec. 2016
The Finance Ministry has sent a strong message to banks, saying that no official will be spared if found involved in wrongdoing.
Sources said, the ministry is seriously looking into the matter.
In a major crackdown on bank employees involved in irregularities post the demonetisation move, as many as 27 senior officials of various public sector banks were suspended on December 2 and six others were transferred to check corrupt practices.
The Axis Bank earlier on Tuesday suspended its 19 officials allegedly involved in illegal activity post demonetisation.
The employees of state-run and private sector banks have come under the scanner of the Finance Ministry over alleged irregularities in converting old currency into new notes post the demonetisation drive.
The move comes after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) cracked down on bank officials since note ban to curb black money conversions into new notes.
Last week, the ED had arrested two managers of Axis Bank's Kashmiri Gate branch in New Delhi and recovered gold bars weighing more than three kg.
Both were sent to ED custody till December 12.
3 reasons why RBI went against the wind and kept repo rate unchanged
New Delhi: MMNN:7 Dec. 2016
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday surprised financial markets by keeping the policy rate unchanged at 6.25 per cent at its fifth bimonthly policy review. This was against a consensus forecast of a 25 basis points rate cut.
Analysts on Dalal Street attributed RBI's decision to maintain status quo on money policy to three major reasons:
Inflation: The central bank noted that prices of wheat, gram and sugar have been firming up and showed concerns over the recent decision by the Opec bloc to cut crude oil output from January. RBI said due to base effect, inflation rate may reverse and turn unfavourable in December and February.
"If the usual winter moderation in food prices does not materialise due to the disruptions, food inflation pressures could re-emerge. Furthermore, CPI inflation excluding food and fuel has been resistant to downward impulses and could set a floor to headline inflation. With the Opec agreement to cut production, crude prices may firm up in the coming months," it said.
Keki Mistry, VC & CEO, HDFC, said any central bank would consider rate cut either if it believes the move is going to push consumption forward because people will borrow more money and then use that for consumption, or if it believes a rate cut will facilitate investment.
"The way I see it, capacity utilisation in India still has not gone to the levels one would like to see before you see a big thrust on investments. In that sense, cutting rates now may not have helped," Mistry said
Wait and watch: RBI said it was on a wait and watch mode as impact of the cash ban was still playing out. The central bank expects short-run disruptions in economic activity in cash-intensive sectors such as retail trade, hotels & restaurants and transportation.
However, it was confident of a progressive increase in the circulation of new currency notes and believes the usage of non-cash-based payment instruments would surge.
"It is appropriate to look through the transitory but unclear effects of the withdrawal of SBNs while setting the monetary policy stance. On balance, therefore, it is prudent to wait and watch how these factors play out and impinge upon the outlook," the central bank said.
CEA Arvind Subramanian said that the RBI decision was important in containing liquidity in the system.
Global uncertainty: RBI felt rising turbulence in financial markets globally and volatility in crude oil prices going forward could put the inflation target for Q4 of FY17 at risk.
World trade is beginning to emerge out of a trough that bottomed out in July-August and is showing signs of stabilising, RBI said.
"Inflation has ticked up in some advanced economies, though well below target, and is easing in several emerging market economies. Expectations of reflationary fiscal policies in the US, Japan and China, and the waning of downward pressures on emerging market economies in recession are tempered by still-prevalent political risks in the euro area and the UK, emerging geopolitical risks and the spectre of financial market volatility," the central bank said.
RBI, meanwhile, took heart from the fact that global growth picked up modestly in the second half of 2016, after weakening in the first half.
"The only plausible explanation seems to be global factors. Maybe RBI wants to look at the Fed rate behaviour. Post that, it may want to take a call. We will have to actually see and listen to what RBI has to say about this contradicting factors between lower growth, lower inflation through consumption destruction vis-a-vis higher inflation expectation," said Nilesh Shah, MD at Kotak AMC.
Murthy Nagarajan, Head of Fixed Income at Quantum Mutual Fund, said by February, RBI will have greater clarity on the global situation such as the Fed rate hike and Donald Trump's policies and on India's fiscal deficit for FY2017-18. "That will allow it to take a more balanced view," Nagarajan said.
RBI May Cut Interest Rate By 0.5% In Next Policy Meet: HDFC CEO
New Delhi: MMNN:3 Dec. 2016
At a time when the country is undergoing a demonetisation drive, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in its next policy meeting on December 7, may cut the main interest rate by 50 basis points, feels Keki Mistry, Vice Chairman and CEO of HDFC.
In an interview to BTVi, Mr Mistry said: "My sense is that in the RBI policy, I would expect to see an interest rate reduction. I would have said 25 basis points cut is normally what is warranted. However, to give a further impetus to growth and the economy and taking into account relatively low inflation that we are seeing, it could be possible that RBI could look at a 50 basis points cut."
"One point is that the US rates are rising. We are expecting that the US Fed will increase rates in December. So in a situation where US is increasing rates, we will be reducing rates and, therefore, the gap between the two interest rates (in the US and India) will fall.
The only issue, he said, for the RBI is to keep the Indian currency rate in check. "As the gap keeps falling, it will put some pressure on the currency. So that is something the RBI may want to watch out for, because if the currency weakens a lot then that puts inflationary pressure on the economy... particularly in the context of the fact that all prices have started going up," he added.
Talking about the demonestisation drive of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 bank notes that started on November 8, he said it would be difficult to gauge how much currency would be deposited by the end of December.
"We don't know how much money is likely to come in. It is all conjecture at the moment. If people say some Rs. 11 lakh crore has come in, we have to see. The official figure, I understand, is Rs. 8.4 lakh crore," he said.
"What we have to understand is that when something like demonetisation is announced, everybody who had any amount of currency notes with them of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000, including people like you and me, would have gone to the bank and deposited the money," Mr Mistry said
"So, therefore, the collections that we would get in the first two-three weeks was obviously going to be abnormally high than what you will see in the latter part of the period. So my sense is let's wait till December 31, only then we will know how much money actually comes back into the system. There is no point making an assumption now," he added.
Withdrawal From Jan Dhan Accounts Capped At Rs. 10,000 Per Month
Mumbai:MMNN:30 Nov. 2016
To check the misuse of Jan Dhan accounts by black money hoarders, Reserve Bank has restricted the withdrawal from such accounts to Rs. 10,000 per month.
"With a view to protect the innocent farmers and rural account holders of PMJDY from activities of money launders and legal consequences under the Benami Property Transaction & Money Laundering laws, it has been decided to place certain limits, as a matter of precaution, on the operations in such accounts funded through deposits of Specified Bank Notes after November 9, 2016," the RBI today said in a notification, terming it as temporary measures.
According to it, fully KYC-complaint Jan Dhan account holders will be allowed to withdraw Rs. 10,000 per month from their account, while limited or Non KYC compliant account holders can withdraw Rs. 5,000 per month.
It, however, said branch managers may allow further withdrawals beyond Rs. 10,000 a month within the current applicable limits only after ascertaining the genuineness of such withdrawals and duly documenting the same on bank's record.
With regard to deposits, Jan Dhan account holders have a limit of Rs. 50,000.
In the wake of the Centre's demonetisation drive, Jan Dhan accounts have seen a massive rise in deposits, in many cases to the extent of Rs. 49,000. There have been reports that the bank accounts of people, mainly in rural areas, who had zero balance till the announcement of scrapping of high value currency notes, have been witnessing sudden surge in deposits.
The government suspects that black money hoarders are using the farmers and other people's Jan Dhan accounts to deposit their ill-gotten money so that they can safely convert that money into white.
Deposits in Jan Dhan accounts soared sharply by around Rs. 27,200 crore in just 14 days after the announcement of ban on old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes. Total deposits in 25.68 crore Jan Dhan accounts crossed Rs. 70,000 crore mark and were at Rs. 72,834.72 crore on November 23.
As of November 9, total deposits in these accounts were Rs. 45,636.61 crore.
After the surprise demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, deposits in Jan Dhan accounts have increased sharply to 27,198 crore.
However, 22.94 per cent of 25.68 crore accounts still have zero balance.
Government Asks NABARD To Disburse Rs. 21,000 Crore To Farmers
New Delhi:MMNN:23 Nov. 2016
Government has allowed NABARD to disburse Rs. 21,000 crore to cash-starved farmers, helping them sow winter crops like wheat ahead of the sowing season, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said today.
The government's demonetisation move, which swept away 86 per cent of currency in circulation, has badly hit farmers leaving them without cash just ahead of the sowing season.
Mr Das said the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) will disburse the money to farm cooperatives for onward payments to farmers.
"NABARD, for the facility of agricultural operations in the current rabi season and especially for the benefit of farmers, has sanctioned a special limit of Rs. 21,000 crore to district central cooperative banks," he told reporters in New Delhi.
More than 40 per cent small and marginal farmers get crop loans from cooperative institutions, he said.
The move is aimed at easing liquidity crisis facing farmers who were left with very little cash to buy seeds and fertilizers for winter crops due to restrictions placed on bank withdrawals post demonetisation.
This has threatened crop production in a year that came after two successive years of drought.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had yesterday relaxed rules on loans to farmers, allowing NABARD to disburse up to Rs. 23,000 crore to district cooperative banks for crop loans.
Mr Das said that out of the total agriculture credit, institutional credit meets more than 40 per cent of the requirement of small and marginal farmers.
"So the sanction of Rs. 21,000 crore to the district central cooperative banks (DCCBs) will enable them to pass on or grant funds to the primary agriculture cooperatives. This will then help in meeting crop loan requirements of farmers in Rabi season," he said.
This, he said, will help in smooth flow of credit for farmers to enable them to undertake rabi requirements.
"Over and above this Rs. 21,000 limit, as and when the additional limits are required, they will also be sanctioned by NABARD," he said.
To ensure farmers get credit in cash, the government has advised NABARD, RBI and banks to make the required cash available.
Banks have been asked to ensure the district cooperative banks and regional rural banks, which provide loans to several farmers' cooperatives, get sufficient cash.
"DCCBs will get their cash from currency chests of banks and state cooperatives. NABARD has created list of DCCBs and their list of requirements have been given to banks," he said.
Exchange of old notes over bank counters only up to Rs 2,000, just once till December 30
New Delhi:MMNN:19 Nov. 2016
The noose is getting tighter on those who are trying all possible means available to convert black money into white. The Reserve Bank of India on Friday announced that it will limit exchange of old notes into new ones at bank counters only once till December 30. The norm comes into effect starting Friday, November 18.
"On a review it has been decided that the limit of exchange of SBNs(Specified Bank Notes) in cash, across the counter of the banks shall be 2000 with effect from November 18, 2016. This facility will be available only once per person", said the RBI in a note to the Chairman, Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer of all public, private banks, Regional Rural Banks, Urban and State Cooperative Banks.
However, there is no limit on making bank deposits.
In another development, Indian Bank Association said on Friday that banks will exchange the notes only for their own customers tomorrow( Saturday), i.e. people who have bank accounts with them. So, individuals will have to the banks where they have accounts to change the notes.
However, the banks will exempt senior citizens from this and exchange demonetised notes for them regardless of whether they have accounts with the banks or not.
Meanwhile, banks across the country will remain close on Sunday after they remained opened last weekend despite being holiday then.
The lending institutions will make use of Saturday to clear off the pending work.
Also, government has cautioned Jan Dhan account holders, housewives and artisans that they will be prosecuted under the I-T Act for allowing misuse of their bank accounts through deposit of black money in Rs 500/1,000 notes during the 50-day window till December 30.
The directive comes against the backdrop of reports that some are using other persons' bank accounts to convert their black money into new denomination notes. In some cases, even rewards are being given to account holders for allowing such misuse.
SBI reportedly writes off bad loans of Rs 7,016 cr; Cong rakes up issue in Parliament
New Delhi:MMNN:16 Nov. 2016
The State Bank of India has cleaned up non-performing assets worth Rs 7,016 crore from its books by writing off loans given to 63 wilful defaulters, Daily News & Analysis reported on Wednesday. Of the 63 accounts, 31 have been partially written off and six shown as NPAs.
The clean-up drive saw the bank forgoing almost Rs 1,201 crore in dues to Vijay Mallya's defunct Kingfisher Airlines, which is at the top of the list of wilful defaulters. In other words, loans given to Kinfsiher Airlines will no longer be shown in the bank's balance sheet, though the airline has outstanding dues of almost Rs 1,201 crore. Some of the other prominent defaulters who feature in the write-off list are KS Oil (Rs 596 crore), Surya Pharmaceuticals (Rs 526 crore), GET Power (Rs 400 crore) and SAI Info System (Rs 376 crore).
The Congress party immediately reacted to the article and linked it to the government's demonetisation drive. "As Modiji's blue-eyed boy Mallya gets a Rs 1,200-cr write-off, fighting black money is political hypocrisy at its worst," said Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Even Congress leader Anand Sharma expressed apprehensions that the money received from people migth be used to recapitalise the banks and wipe out Rs 6 lakh crore of non-performing assets of big industrialists.
"The Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) are to the tune of Rs 6 lakh crore. Do they want to utilise the money deposited by people in banks to wipe out the NPAs (on account) of industrialists who have played fraud on the country?" party spokesman Kapil Sibal said at a briefing by the All-India Congress Committee.
He claimed that the Reserve Bank of India RBI would transfer the money to the government, which would recapitalise banks and clear their balance sheets, and the "whole thing has nothing to do with black money; it is a compromise on black money and with NPAs".
Even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called demonetisation the biggest scam.
"This is what we feared. The hard-earned money of people will be put into banks to write off the loans of crorepatis. They have already started doing it," he said on Twitter."
Banks say note exchange facility being misused
New Delhi:MMNN:12 Nov. 2016
Confusion over the facility for exchanging old high-denomination notes, subject to a limit of Rs 4,000, at banks and post offices by providing valid identity cards has led to some people misusing the system to legalise their unaccounted wealth.
At present, the exchange facility is a one-time window and the limit will be reviewed after November 24. Several bank officials told ET that the exchange of demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes over the counter for Rs 4,000 is being misused and banks are taking steps to address the issue.
A senior official with the State Bank of India said the Reserve Bank of India has sent an email to banks stating that the exchange facility for Rs 4,000 is a one-time window. "But we have no way to track whether an individual has already availed of this benefit at another bank," he said.
"The intention is to support people to meet exigencies. The ATMs are now functional and people can withdraw money as per the existing limits," said a senior official with Punjab National Bank, adding that some individuals are misusing this window by going to different branches of a bank or other banks.
People can also use multiple IDs at the same branch or post office as systems are not in place to verify transactions.
State-run Central Bank of India has developed software to keep track of the Aadhaar number and PAN card of beneficiaries, which is shared across all its branches, an official said.
"It is taking time to update, given the huge flow of people, but we are ensuring that the facility is made available only once and is not misused," he said.
A senior official with Corporation Bank said that individual branches are maintaining a similar database and no person can exchange currency for more than Rs 4,000 at the same branch.
"We are educating people on the guidelines - some of them don't know about it and are not coming with any mala fide intention," he added.
A finance ministry official said all such data will be collated and tracked. "If there is any unusual pattern of withdrawals from any Aadhaar number and PAN account, we will be investigating such cases," he said.
Specified bank notes of aggregate value of Rs 4,000 or below may be exchanged for any denomination of bank notes with a requisition slip in the format specified by the Reserve Bank and proof of identity, the RBI said in a circular dated November 8.
"The limit of Rs 4,000 for exchanging specified bank notes shall be reviewed after fifteen days from the date of commencement of this notification and appropriate orders may be issued, where necessary," the RBI said.
Cash withdrawal from a bank account over the counter is restricted to Rs 10,000 a day, subject to a limit of Rs 20,000 a week, until November 24.
Withdrawal from ATMs is restricted to Rs 2,000 per day per card up to November 18.
Rs. 500, Rs. 1000 notes no longer legal tender
New Delhi:MMNN:9 Nov. 2016
Currency of Rs. 500 and Rs.1,000 ceased to be legal tender from midnight on Tuesday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this in a surprise address to the nation on Tuesday night. He said the decision was taken to root out the menace of black money and corruption.
Notes of Rs. 100, Rs. 50, Rs. 20, 10, Rs. 5, Rs. 2 and Re. 1 remain legal tender and will be unaffected by the decision, the Prime Minister said, adding that all banks and ATMs will be closed on Wednesday and ATMs in some places on Thursday as well.
Mr. Modi announced that the existing Rs. 500 or Rs. 1,000 notes can be deposited in an individual's bank or post office accounts between November 10 and December 30. Currency value of up to Rs. 4,000 can be exchanged from any bank or post office a day till November 24 by showing a government identity card.
However, for 72 hours, government hospitals, railway, air and government bus ticket booking counters will continue to accept the old notes. Old notes will also be accepted till November 11 at petrol, diesel and gas stations authorised by public sector oil companies, consumer co-operative stores authorised by State or Central government, milk booths authorised by States as well as crematoriums.
The Reserve Bank of India will issue new Rs. 500 and Rs. 2,000 notes starting from November 10. The new Rs. 500 note will feature the Red Fort and the new Rs. 2,000 note will feature Mangalyaan, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said at a media briefing late on Tuesday night. These notes will become available from November 10.
Once the ATMs start functioning, there will be a withdrawal limit of Rs. 2,000 per debit card, which will be increased to Rs. 4,000 later, Mr. Modi said in the 40-minute televised address to the nation. There will, however, be an overall limit on withdrawal from banks of Rs. 10,000 a day and Rs. 20,000 a week, which will be increased in the coming days.
Mr. Modi said there will be no restriction of any kind on non-cash payments by cheques, demand drafts, debit or credit cards and electronic fund transfer.
Without naming Pakistan, the Prime Minister made a pointed reference to cross-border terror that was being funded by forged currency notes. "In the country's history of development, there comes a moment where powerful and decisive decisions are needed," he said.
"Your money will be your money. You don't have to worry about this. We have made arrangements to ensure that citizens suffer the least possible difficulty," he said.
A government official said that the move was necessary to stop terrorists and drug cartels "in their tracks." "An element of surprise is essential, or else they would have made necessary arrangements." The official described the action as a "surgery since the tumour had to be removed to prevent recurrence."
He claimed that this will result in a reduction of inflation as conspicuous consumption will come down. According to him, the "tumour of corruption could not be fought through tried, tested and failed methods" and it was time to employ new methods to defeat the enemies of India. Till March 2016, Rs. 14 lakh crore out of Rs. 16 lakh crore worth currency issued by the RBI were in the denominations of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000, as per the central bank's official data.
Currency values circulated by Reserve Bank of India till March 2016
||in Rs. Billion
|Rs. 2 and 5
Punjab National Bank Q2 Net Profit Dips 11.5% To Rs. 549 Crore
New Delhi:MMNN:5 Nov. 2016
State-owned Punjab National Bank today reported a 11.5 per cent fall in net profit at Rs. 549.36 crore for the second quarter ended September 30 on rise in provisions for bad loans.
The bank had reported a net profit at Rs. 621.03 crore during the July-September quarter last fiscal.
"Total income increased to Rs. 14,218.27 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2016 from Rs. 13,701.93 crore for the same quarter a year earlier," the bank said in a regulatory filing.
Total interest, however, earned by the bank in the three-month period fell by 4.16 per cent to Rs. 11,830.36 crore from Rs. 12,345.03 crore a year earlier.
During the quarter, provisions for bad loans increased 34.6 per cent to Rs. 2,533.76 crore from Rs. 1,882.08 crore in the year-ago period.
Gross NPAs as a proportion of total advances moved up 13.63 per cent during the second quarter as against 6.36 per cent in the corresponding period last fiscal. Net NPAs also rose 9.10 per cent as against 3.99 per cent in the quarter under review.
Shares of the bank closed at Rs. 131.60 apiece on the BSE on Friday.
SBI Cuts Home Loan Rate To Lowest In 6 Years In Bonanza For Buyers
New Delhi:MMNN:2 Nov. 2016
In cheer for home buyers, State Bank of India (SBI) has cut interest rate by 0.15 per cent to a six-year low. The revised rates for new borrowers are effective from November 1, 2016, for loans up to Rs. 75 lakh.
For woman borrowers, SBI has brought down the interest rate to 9.10 per cent per annum from 9.25 per cent while for others to 9.15 per cent from 9.30 per cent.
This means that on a home loan of Rs. 50 lakh of 30 years, a home buyer can save Rs. 542 per month on EMIs.
This limited period festival offer is valid from November 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016, SBI said.
The rate cut comes in the wake of the SBI lowering its deposit rates last month.
SBI in a statement said its home loans are the "cheapest in the market" and provides an opportunity for both, new home buyers as well as those who wish to switch over their home loan to SBI to save on EMIs.
Analysts say that the SBI's rate cut could increase the competitive pressure on other lenders to bring down their interest rates.
Under a new lending rate regime effective from April 1 this year, banks price their lending rates based on marginal cost of lending rate (MCLR), which is closely linked to the actual deposit rates. For new borrowers, the MCLR is revised every month. In SBI's case, a customer is locked into the MCLR for a year if he/she avails the loan.
SBI's managing director Rajnish Kumar told NDTV Profit that the move will benefit a lot of people who are looking for affordable homes. The bank is seeing a lot of demand for housing loan below Rs. 1 crore, he added.
As part of the festive season offer, SBI has also waived processing fee on its approved projects and balance transfer of home loans.
India Ranks 13th In Protection Of Minority Investors
New Delhi:MMNN:26 Oct. 2016
India's global ranking in terms of protection of minority investors has slipped three notches to 13th, but remains much higher than the country's overall 130th rank for ease of doing business.
The sub-ranking for protection of minority investors is topped jointly by New Zealand and Singapore.
Others that ranked higher than India are Hong Kong, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, the UK, Georgia, Canada, Norway, the UAE, Slovenia and Israel.
In the World Bank's latest 'Doing Business' report, India's place remained unchanged from last year's original ranking of 130 among the 190 economies that were assessed on various parameters. However, the last year's ranking has been now revised to 131 from which the country has improved its place by one spot.
The list of countries in the Doing Business 2017 is topped by New Zealand while Singapore is ranked second.
The report said protection of minority investors indicator measures the protection of shareholders against directors' misuse of corporate assets for personal gain and the rights and role of shareholders in corporate governance.
According to the report, India carried out an ambitious, multi-year overhaul of its Companies Act, bringing Indian firms in line with global standards, particularly in respect of accountability and corporate governance practices while ensuring businesses contribute more to shared prosperity through a quantified and legislated corporate social responsibility requirement.
Company regulation is an ongoing process. Since the enactment of the Companies Act, 2013, the corporate affairs ministry issued notifications on a regular basis to address ambiguities in the law. Most notably, two sets of amendments were released in August 2014 and May 2015, highlighting the government's ongoing commitment to reform.
Further, in June last year, it set up a committee tasked with identifying further amendments to the Act and centralising recommendations and concerns from private sector stakeholders and regulatory agencies.
"Despite this piecemeal introduction, it has paid off both in economic terms and in India's performance in Doing Business. India's score increased in 3 of 6 indices of the protecting minority investors indicator set," the report said.
To simplify administrative requirements, the minimum paid-in capital was abolished. To instil greater transparency, the Act increased disclosure requirements, particularly regarding related-party transactions.
To bring Indian firms in line with global standards, the Act added requirements to disclose managerial compensation and have one-third independent directors and at least one woman on the board. Besides, India became the first economy in the world with a quantified and legislated corporate social responsibility (CSR) requirement.
"The case of India serves as a reminder of the time it takes and the challenges inherent to a holistic legislative overhaul. Piecemeal fixes can be a time and cost-effective approach, but only a full-fledged legislative reform gives policymakers the opportunity to innovate and sends a strong signal to the business community," the report noted.
MP Global Investor Summit kicks off, 150 CEOs may participate
Indore:MMNN:22 Oct. 2016
A 2-day Global Investor Summit organised by the state government of Madhya Pradesh at its commercial capital Indore kick-started today. the state expects to host about 150 CEOs and over 3,000 delegates including the Union Finance Minister at the event.
While the state itself plans to invest Rs 75,000 crore over the next 4 years in infrastructure development, the Summit aims to garner as much investments from the business community across the world as possible in some key areas like food and food processing, and automobiles among others.
Some of the key speakers at the event, Baba Ramdev of Patanjali, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of Aditya Birla Group, Anil Ambani, Chairman of ADAG and Alok Sharma, UK's Minister for Asia among others listed out their investment plans in the state.
Located in the centre of the country, Madhya Pradesh will become a supply hub for companies transporting goods once the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is implemented making the country one big marketplace, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.
Addressing the 5th Madhya Pradesh Investment Summit in Indore, Jaitley said the GST will hopefully be implemented by next year which will make the country one big marketplace.
"Once the GST rolls out, hopefully by next year, India will become one big market. Companies transporting goods from north to south and east to west will need a hub at the centre," Jaitley said on the first day of the two-day summit that aims to attract global investment.
"Madhya Pradesh is suitable located to become a supply hub," he added.
At the summit, the state government will present a report card on the status of investment commitments made at the four previous such investor gatherings.
In the 2007 summit, MP signed investment agreements worth $18.3 billion and the investment commitment doubled to $36 billion at the next summit in 2010 and further to $44 billion in 2012. The last meeting in 2014 saw signing of agreements worth $66.1 billion.
Madhya Pradesh has been one of the fastest growing states in India, recording an average annual growth of 9.5 per cent in its gross state domestic product (GSDP) from 2013 to 2015. The growth rate in 2015-16, was 10.5 per cent against the national growth of 7.3 per cent.
Over 3,000 delegates including 500 from five partner countries-the UK, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and United Arab Emirates-are attending this year's summit.
Rooftop solar power capacity crosses 1 GW mark
New Delhi:MMNN:19 Oct. 2016
India's rooftop solar energy capacity has crossed 1 gigawatt (GW) mark this year with 513 MW generation capacity added over the past 12 months, says Bridge to India report.
"As per the report, titled 'India Solar Rooftop Map', India's rooftop solar capacity has crossed 1 GW mark this year," said consultancy services provider Bridge to India.
India has added 513 MW of rooftop solar capacity over the past 12 months, growing at 113 per cent over previous 12 months, reaching total installed capacity of 1,020 MW, according to the report released today at Intersolar Mumbai.
Last year's capacity addition is more than the addition of all previous years put together. 22 per cent of capacity added through PPA (power purchase agreements) based projects.
CleanMax, Amplus Solar, Cleantech Solar, Azure Power, Rays Expert and Hero Future Energies are some of the leading companies offering PPAs.
The rooftop solar market growth is directly linked to improving economics of rooftop solar. Most commercial and industrial consumers can reduce their power bills by 20-30 per cent with rooftop solar power.
It said this growth is expected to continue in the years to come and the market is expected to reach a total capacity of 12.7 GW by 2021.
The report also highlights that commercial and industrial consumers dominate the market with 63 per cent of installed capacity. Grid parity for these consumers has now been achieved in 17 out of the 19 largest states in India.
In states such as Maharashtra and Haryana, tariff differential between grid power and rooftop solar power can be as high as 30 per cent, it said.
This has been much steeper than what most analysts had earlier predicted and has helped in achieving the existing growth rate, it added.
Bridge to India MD Vinay Rustagi said, "Rooftop solar has been a side-story in the Indian solar sector so far but that is beginning to change now. The sector is growing rapidly and beginning to realise its potential, thanks largely to increasing cost competitiveness of rooftop solar power vs grid power."
Rustagi further said,"We expect rooftop solar to outpace growth in the utility solar market in the coming years. The government has announced attractive policies such as net metering, subsidies for select customers and cheaper debt financing for the sector although there is huge scope for improvement on every front."
There is also substantial rooftop capacity being created in the government sector itself, he added.
Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat are leading in terms of total installed capacity. The government rooftop solar segment has grown to over 10 per cent in total installed capacity.
Watch out Ola, Uber's battle for market share in India is getting aggressive
MMNN:12 Oct. 2016
Ever since the taxi hailing application company Uber gave up on the Chinese market a few months back following intense competition from the local player Didi Chuxing, it became more or less clear that the focus for the US-based firm will now shift to the Indian market.
But here too, the world's largest startup company boasting a valuation of $69 billion, realises the growing competition from the domestic player Ola.
In China, Uber couldn't stand up to the growing onslaught from the deep-pocketed Didi, prompting the former to eventually merge its business in the Dragon nation.
With Uber exiting China, the company has got enough room now to focus on India.
As a recent Bloomberg report says, "India will be crucial in terms of both demonstrating success in large international markets and long-term growth potential".
Unlike Didi Chuxing, Ola, Uber's rival here, doesn't have deep pockets. Backed by venture capitalist, Ola has a war-chest of $1.2 billion, while Uber will divert a big portion of $10 billion it raised from Didi into the Indian market.
With the battle lines clearly drawn, Uber has been fast expanding in India and now has presence in 28 cities and handled 5.5 million rides per week in August, says the Bloomberg report.
While India's market is poised to grow at $10 billion, Uber has been making a strong pitch to enter other transport areas besides the traditional cab service via its mobile app.
According to a report in Mint, Uber plans to introduce buses and mini-vans for people through its ride-hailing app, and the service would be called Uber Everything.
"The next big innovation that the company plans to introduce is Uber Pool in buses and mini-vans," Mint report said.
The new initiative would be similar to its UberHop service, which functions more like a scheduled bus service, the report says.
Uber also looks to increase employee base at its Bengaluru engineering centre and also plans to recruit a million drivers over the next two years.
Last month, Uber also said it is betting big on its enterprise offering -- Uber for Business (U4B) -- to drive its growth in the country. In the nine months of operations, Uber for Business has seen a 50 percent month-on-month growth and the company is looking at scaling the offering further.
'Uber for Business' also allows corporates to automate uploading of employee lists and information that ensures only authorised employees have access to the company's U4B account.
"U4B was developed to provide an enhanced experience to companies, and employees, wanting to use Uber's global network for work travel. The U4B platform also includes a versatile and powerful travel dashboard that business administrators can use to manage budgets, enforce ride policies, and monitor usage and spends," Uber Asia Pacific Head (Uber for Business) Arjun Nohwar said.
Further, the US tech heavyweight is also making an aggressive drive into meal delivery backed by a wave of staff recruitment with plans to enter at least 22 new countries and take on local rivals.
India's forex reserves rise to $371.99 bn last week; overseas currency assets at $346.71 bn
Chennai: MMNN:8 Oct. 2016
India's foreign exchange reserves went up to $371.99 billion as on 30 September, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced.
According to data released by the RBI on Friday, the reserves stood at around $371.99 billion as on 30 September as against $370.76 billion as on 23 September.
On 30 September, the foreign currency assets stood at $346.71 billion, gold at $21.40 billion, special drawing rights at $1.48 billion and the reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at $2.38 billion.
The reserves as on 23 September comprised of foreign currency assets at $345.24 billion, gold at $21.64 billion, special drawing rights at $1.49 billion and the reserve position in IMF at $2.39 billion.
Automation threatens 69% jobs in India: World Bank
Washington: MMNN:5 Oct. 2016
Automation threatens 69% of the jobs in India, while 77% in China, according to a World Bank research which has said that technology could fundamentally disrupt the pattern of traditional economic path in developing countries.
"As we continue to encourage more investment in infrastructure to promote growth, we also have to think about the kinds of infrastructure that countries will need in the economy of the future. We all know that technology has and will continue to fundamentally reshape the world," World Bank president Jim Kim said.
"But the traditional economic path from increasing productivity of agriculture to light manufacturing and then to full-scale industrialisation may not be possible for all developing countries," Kim said in response to a question at the Brookings Institute during a discussion on extreme poverty on Tuesday. "In large parts of Africa, it is likely that technology could fundamentally disrupt this pattern.
Research based on World Bank data has predicted that the proportion of jobs threatened in India by automation is 69%, in China it is 77% and in Ethiopia, the percentage of jobs threatened by automation is 85%," he said.
"Now, if this is true, and if these countries are going to lose these many jobs, we then have to understand what paths to economic growth will be available for these countries and then adapt our approach to infrastructure accordingly," Kim said.
He said one child policy could have been reason of sharp decline in child stunting and malnutrition, which is now at 10%.
"The one child policy could have been part of it, but anyway the point is, that if you look at educational outcomes and things like child stunting, India is at 38.7% child stunting, they are literally walking into the future with 40% of their workforce probably being unable to compete in the global digital economy, whereas China over the years has brought it down very, very low," Kim said.
"In India, it is probably partly because of sanitation that children are often in a just constant diarrheal stage, because of open defecation. There is a lot of different pieces of it. But I have been saying to the leaders of these countries that have these high stunting rates, there is like an emergency for you, you have got to tackle it," Kim said.
Better Targeting Of Kerosene Subsidy Is Government's Next Agenda: Arun Jaitley
NEW DELHI: MMNN:1 Oct. 2016
After the initial experiment in food and fertiliser, better targeting of kerosene subsidy is next on government agenda to plug diversion and black marketing of the fuel, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
"Kerosene in some parts of the country is used as fuel, and in many parts... is misused. There is a huge amount of diversion... So, states are making efforts to become kerosene free because of a lot of diversion taking place," he said at an event of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi today.
He specifically made a mention of Union Territory of Chandigarh and Haryana trying to become kerosene free.
"That's one of the next items which is on the agenda as far as rationalisation is concerned, but there is still a section of society which uses kerosene as a fuel and therefore, you have to find a mechanism (as to) how to deal with the kerosene problem," he said.
With an aim to take PDS kerosene to the targeted beneficiary, it has been decided to implement the direct benefit transfer in kerosene (DBTK) in 39 districts in 2016-17. The districts spread across nine states have been identified in consultation with local governments, including Punjab, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Giving examples of on-boarding of various government schemes on DBT, he said the government is now experimenting in various areas.
"Somewhere fertiliser is being experimented, somewhere food... One of the the great advantages would be to plug leakages, eliminate corruption and duplicacy and better targeting of subsidy," Mr Jaitley added.
It helps the government reach the targeted section more effectively and save money in the process that can be used for social programmes or alternatively, other developmental activities, he said.
"We are in the initial stages of various areas of implementation and I think the apprehensions which existed a couple of years ago have been to a large extent adequately addressed. Direct payment through this whole process of identification is slowly going to become the rule and not resorting to it would be an exception," he said.
"The whole idea is that in reaching the weakest section, the leakages takes place and only a small fraction reaches the targeted entity, and I think we will be able to get over that curse."