Category: Economic outlook

Corporate governance – challenges and way-forward

In June 2017, the Securities and Exchange Board of India [SEBI] had set up a committee under the chairmanship of Uday Kotak, Kotak Mahindra Bank to advise it on issues relating to corporate governance in Indian companies. In its report submitted on October 5, 2017, the committee has recommended (i) more active ‘role’ and greater ‘autonomy’ for independent directors; (ii) at least half of the board of a listed entity be constituted of independent directors and increase in their number in the board to a minimum of six in every listed entity, with at least one woman independent director; (iii) promote ‘transparency’ in their functioning via listing ‘competencies’ of every independent director and disclosure of the  detailed ‘reasons’ for their resignation; (iv)...
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KYC norms – soft on jewelers, harsh on economy

The 22nd meeting of the GST [Goods and Services Tax] Council on October 6, 2017 was held in the backdrop of decline in the GDP [gross domestic product] during the first quarter of current fiscal to 5.7%, several glitches in the implementation of GST and subdued business sentiment across various industries especially the small and medium enterprises [SMEs] and exporters. Even as the Council has sought to address the concerns of SMEs and exporters by substantially easing the compliance burden on the former and lessening the liquidity problems facing the latter under the GST dispensation, it has dropped a bombshell by doing a volte face on a path breaking decision it had taken only two months back in regard to...
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NPAs: is the axe going to fall on the common man?

Under the erstwhile UPA dispensation, particularly during its second term, 2009-2014, public sector banks [PSBs] gave loans recklessly to corporate houses without assessing the viability of projects and conducting due diligence. Tens of thousands of crores were pumped into power, steel, telecommunications, textiles and infrastructure. In many cases, the ability of the projects or businesses to generate cash to service the loans was in doubt from day one. There was an element of ‘inevitability’ in such loans becoming non-performing assets (NPA). Indeed, these did become NPAs but were not recognised in the balance sheet as such. In 2015, the Reserve Bank of India, under its former governor Raghuram Rajan, ordered an asset quality review (AQR) of all banks to identify...
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Demonetization – could banks have failed Modi?

Dwelling on the success of demonetization [announced on November 8, 2016], Prime Minister Modi informed the nation from the ramparts of historic Red Fort on August 15, 2017 that the government had cancelled the registration of over 200,000 shell companies [nick name for entities which are engaged in laundering black money]. He reiterated this on October 5, 2017 in his speech at the annual function of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India [ICSI] alluding to the axe falling on another about 100,000 such companies. The government has followed it up by freezing all their bank accounts [use of the accounts is permitted only for discharge of their liabilities] and initiating action against their directors by disqualifying them from being...
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RBI obsession with inflation – refuses to go!

In its 4th bi-monthly monetary policy review for current year [announced on October 4, 2017], the Reserve Bank of India [RBI] has kept the policy rate [rate at which apex bank lends money to commercial banks] unchanged at 6.0%. This has come as a rude shock to industries and businesses especially the small and medium enterprises [SMEs] which were anxiously looking forward to a cut for giving much needed fillip to growth. The SMEs are at the core of Prime Minister, Modi’s agenda for promoting growth, creating jobs and increasing income. Under MUDRA [Micro Units Development Refinance Agency] Yojna, the banks have so far disbursed loans worth Rs 320,000 crores to about 75 million persons. Lower interest rate could have...
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Excise duty bonanza – government may keep it for now

Modi – government has shown enormous fiscal rectitude by meticulously managing both its receipts and expenditure thereby sticking to the fiscal consolidation road-map during its tenure. Its efforts are all the more praiseworthy when one recognizes that it has achieved these results without compromising on much needed boost to capital expenditure and funding social welfare schemes. However, hidden behind this is the oil bonanza made available since mid – 2014 [a wonderful coincidence as Modi took charge around this time i.e. on May 26, 2014] which it has leveraged to its full advantage. India imports about 80% of its oil requirements and therefore, the international price of crude hugely impacts the pricing and resource mobilization from oil products. The price...
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India’s growth story is intact, under Modi

The deceleration in economic growth from an already low of 6.1% during the last quarter of financial year 2016-17 to 5.7% during the first quarter of current year 2017-18 has prompted critics [this time, including Yashwant Sinha, former union finance minister in erstwhile NDA government under Vajpayee] to say Modi’s economic policies are responsible for what they allege ‘as loss of 2% in the GDP [gross domestic product] growth. The growth during January-March 2017 at 6.1% was 1.8% lower than during January-March 2016 at 7.9%. Likewise, the growth during April-June, 2017 at 5.7% was 1.4% lower than during April-June 2016 at 7.1%. Thus, even on quarterly basis, the decline is lower than 2% mentioned by critics. Even so, to formulate...
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Telecomm – incumbent operators assaulted yet again

Ever since Reliance Jio entered the fray about an year ago, telecommunication industry has plunged into a state of turbulence that shows no sign of receding. The turmoil has been aggravated by a recent decision of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India [TRAI] to reduce interconnect usage charges [IUC] – termination charge paid to the network operator on whose network calls terminate by the network from which the call originates – from the current 14 paise per minute to 6 paise per minute. From January 2020, the IUC will be zero. Even as the decision is in sync with the demand of Reliance Jio [RJ] for bill and keep [BAK] model – a jargon for zero IUC – this has...
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SILENCING CRITICS OF DEMONETISATION

Perhaps critics of the Modi Government are taking a very myopic view of demonetisation. The fact remains that note ban was an extraordinary step that was never attempted before anywhere in the world and has had far reaching socio-economic ramifications The suspense is finally over with the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) annual report giving exact details on total value of high-denomination currency circulating in the system. It has given a clear picture about the notes that came back to the banking system and those which did not. As against Rs 1,544,000 crore  embodied in these notes as on November 8, 2016, Rs 1,528,000 crore came back, leaving a meager Rs 16,000 crore in the hands of the public. This is just about...
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