RBI fines ICICI Bank Rs 59 cr for securities’ sales violation

Mar 29, 2018 0

Mumbai– The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said on Thursday it has imposed a penalty of Rs 58.9 crore on ICICI Bank for non-compliance of its directions on direct sale of securities.

The bank clarified its position saying its held-to maturity (HTM) sales happened “due to a genuine misunderstanding on the timing of the applicability of RBI’s direction in this matter.”

An RBI statement said the penalty had been imposed in “exercise of powers vested in RBI under the provisions of Section 47A(1)(c) read with Section 46(4)(i) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, taking into account failure of the bank to adhere to the aforesaid directions/guidelines issued by the RBI.”

The apex bank said the action was based on the deficiencies in regulatory compliance and was not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers.

“RBI has imposed a penalty on the Bank for continued sale of government securities classified as HTM. ICICI Bank had continued with the sales from HTM category for a few weeks during the quarter ended March 31, 2017, due to a genuine misunderstanding on the timing of the applicability of RBI’s direction in this matter,” ICICI Bank said in a statement.

It further added: “As per RBI guidelines, the Bank had disclosed in its annual report for FY2017 that it had sold more than 5 per cent of investments categorised as HTM. However, the bank had not made the specified additional disclosure at that time. The Bank has subsequently been making the specified disclosure as directed by RBI in the audited financial results since the quarter ended June 30, 20″7.”

The RBI guidelines require banks to classify investments into three categories — Held For Trading (HFT), Available For Sale (AFS) and Held to Maturity (HTM).

The securities acquired by the banks with the intention to hold them till maturity can be classified under HTM. If the value of sales of securities from HTM category exceeds 5 per cent of the HTM investments, banks are required to disclose in the audited annual financial statements, the market value of the HTM investments and indicate the excess of book value over market value.

The ICICI Bank also clarified: “During the current year, that is, FY2018, the bank has sold less than 5 per cent of securities from its HTM portfolio. The Bank would like to re-iterate that it continues to give utmost importance to regulatory compliance and endeavors to meet supervisory expectations.” (IANS)

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India to export 65-70 lakh bales of cotton in 2017-18

Mar 29, 2018 0

By P.K. Jha

New Delhi– India will export 65-70 lakh bales of cotton in the ongoing cotton season 2017-18 (October-September) amid aggressive demands from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and China, said an official on Thursday.

Atul Ganatra, President, Cotton Association of India (CAI), said that apart from the neighbouring countries, India has also been receiving demands for cotton from several other countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia and Turkey.

According to the CAI, India had exported 63 lakh bales of cotton last year. Each bale has nearly 170 kg of cotton.

Foreign buyers are interested in sourcing cotton from India as they find it cost effective and less expensive in comparison to other countries, said Ganatra.

India has already shipped nearly 53-55 lakh bales in the current season and contracts have been signed for another 8-10 lakh bales scheduled for shipment in April-May.

According to him, Indian cotton exports would reach 65 lakh bales by May-end as Bangladesh, the world’s largest cotton importer, does not have much of its own production and its spinning mills largely depend on imports.

“In the early six months of this cotton production and marketing season 2017-18 (October-March), India has sold 55 lakh bales of cotton, of which 17 lakh bales have been shipped to Bangladesh followed by 11 lakh bales to Pakistan, 10 lakh to Vietnam, seven lakh to China, 7 lakh to Indonesia and Taiwan, and 3 lakh to other countries including Sri Lanka, Turkey and Thailand, among others,” the CAI chief told IANS.

In case China’s demand shifts from the US to India, its largest supplier, it will be a win-win situation for both cotton growers and suppliers as the prices of Indian cotton will move up, he said.

“But at present China has huge stocks in its government vault for current year’s consumption, therefore, it will not source much. However, by the end of season, India’s cotton exports to China may touch 10 lakh bales,” Ganatra added.

The CAI had pegged India’s cotton crop at 362 lakh bales for 2017-18 in its monthly report on March 9, 2018, down five lakh bales from the previous month as pink ball worms infestation and dry weather caused severe damage to the cotton crop this year in the Maharashtra and Telangana regions — the two key cotton producers in India.

As per the Association estimates, the consumption of local mills is 330 lakh bales. Taking into account the export figure of 65-70 lakh bales, the aggregate demand works out to nearly 400 lakh bales.

As for the supplies, it is pegged at 412 lakh bales, with 362 lakh bales of the current year’s production and 30 lakh carry-forward bales, while imports are expected to be around 20 lakh bales. Hence, the closing stocks would be around 12 lakh bales.

As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures, India is the largest producer of cotton in the world with 365 lakh bales this year, followed by China (353 lakh bales), the U.S. (273 lakh bales), Pakistan (105 lakh bales) and Brazil (103 lakh bales).

The five largest exporters of cotton are the U.S. (186 lakh bales), Australia (56 lakh bales), Brazil (54 lakh bales), India (54 lakh bales) and Uzbekistan (15 lakh bales).

As per the US agency, five major consumers of cotton are China (513 lakh bales), India (314 lakh bales), Pakistan (134 lakh bales), Bangladesh, (92 lakh bales) and Turkey (90 lakh bales).

The five major importers are Bangladesh (93 lakh bales), China (64 lakh bales), Vietnam (54 lakh bales), Indonesia (45 lakh bales) and Turkey (45 lakh bales). (IANS)

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Government committed to data protection: Minister

Mar 29, 2018 0

New Delhi– The government is committed to data protection and is taking steps in the reported data leak through Facebook, Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shakar Prasad said on Thursday.

“We have given notices to both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. We will wait for their response before initiating action,” Prasad told the media.

“We have said it earlier too that we are fully committed to data protection and will take any breach very seriously,” he added.

Cambridge Analytica is a British firm that harvests voters’ data to be used to its clients’ advantage in elections. The firm had harvested data of 50 million Facebook users and influenced several elections across the globe, including the 2016 US presidential polls. (IANS)

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India denies permission for Google’s ‘Street View’ service

Mar 27, 2018 0

New Delhi– The government has refused Google’s proposal to launch its “Street View” service in India, Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said on Tuesday.

Ahir told the Lok Sabha that Google had submitted a proposal on Street View for the government’s permission in July 2015, which allows users to explore places around the world through 360-degree panoramic street level imagery and view public areas.

“The government did not agree to the proposal,” the Minister said.

Ahir was replying to a written question asked by Balasubramaniam Senguttuvan, a member from Vellore in Tamil Nadu.(IANS)

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‘India needs relaxed cabotage laws, free port for better maritime connectivity’

Mar 27, 2018 0

Kolkata– India needs to develop its internal logistics, relax cabotage laws (right to operate transport services) with its neighbours along the Bay of Bengal and create a free port in the Andaman and Nicobar islands to improve its connectivity with other littoral countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, says researchers.

“India must develop its internal logistics performance index to better understand the country’s actual situation in trade logistics and focus on the development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to its true economic and strategic potential,” said a report released by Observer Research Foundation here on the importance of the Bay of Bengal in India’s maritime connectivity.

India should also sign coastal shipping agreements with the Bay littoral countries to relax cabotage laws and focus on developing a free port in the Andamans for better trade opportunities, it said.

The report also recommends increasing imports from Bangladesh, owning a container terminal in Sri Lanka and operationalisation of the Sittwe port in Myanmar’s Kaladan river to speed up India’s connectivity with these countries.

It said sub regional organisations should create a shared security infrastructure with collaborative Humanitarian Assistance and form a Disaster Management brigade under the umbrella of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). (IANS)

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GST collection falls for second straight month to Rs 85,174 crore

Mar 27, 2018 0

New Delhi– Revenue collection under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) fell for the second consecutive month in February by Rs 1,144 crore to Rs 85,174 crore.

The collection had marginally slipped in January to Rs 86,318 crore from Rs 86,703 crore in December.

“The total revenue received under GST for February 2018 (received upto March 26) has been Rs 85,174 crore,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

It added that 59.51 lakh GST returns were filed for February till March 25.

“This is 69 percent of total taxpayers which are required to file monthly returns,” it said.

Of the Rs 85,174 crore, Rs 14,945 crore has been collected as Central GST (CGST), Rs 20,456 crore as State GST (SGST), Rs 42,456 crore as Integrated GST (IGST) and Rs 7,317 crore compensation cess, the Finance Ministry said.

It added that Rs 12,140 crore was being transferred from IGST to CGST account and Rs 13,424 crores from IGST to SGST account by way of settlement of funds on account of cross utilisation of IGST credit.

“Thus, a total amount of Rs 25,564 crores is being transferred from IGST to CGST and SGST account by way of settlement,” the Ministry said.

Before picking up in December to touch Rs 86,703 crore, the revenue collection had fallen for two consecutive months from over Rs 92,000 crore in September to Rs 83,346 crore in October and Rs 80,808 crore in November.

The GST collection for July was over Rs 95,000 crore while for August it was more than Rs 91,000 crore. (IANS)

 

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BHEL wins its largest solar PV plant order for 75 MW in Gujarat

Mar 26, 2018 0

New Delhi– State-run equipments major Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) on Monday said it has won its largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power project for setting up a 75 MW power plant in Gujarat.

In a stock exchange filing, BHEL said the order has been placed by Gujarat Industries Power Company for setting up a plant at the Gujarat Solar Park in Charanka.

“Against stiff competitive bidding, BHEL has won an order for setting up a 75 MW solar PV power plant on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis, in Gujarat. This will be BHEL’s largest solar PV project till date,” the statement said.

With this order, BHEL’s solar portfolio has risen to 545 MW, it said.

The company is currently executing over 150 MW of ground-mounted and rooftop solar PV projects across the country.

“BHEL has enhanced its state-of-the-art manufacturinglines of solar cells to 105 MW and solar modules to 226 MW per annum,” it said.

“In addition, space-grade solar panels using high efficiency cells and space-grade
battery panels are being manufactured at its Electronic Systems Division, Bengaluru.”

The company said it offers EPC solutions both for off-grid as well as grid-interactive solar plants. (IANS)

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India ranks 67 in fixed broadband speed in February: Ookla

Mar 26, 2018 0

New Delhi– India ranked 67th in terms of fixed broadband speeds and 109th for mobile internet speeds globally in February, internet testing and analysis platform Ookla said on Monday.

The company’s updated Speedtest Global Index revealed that in absolute terms, India’s performance in fixed broadband download speeds have gone up from average speeds of 18.82 mbps in November 2017 to 20.72 mbps in February 2018, marking significant improvement since last quarter.

“India has also shown significant improvement in terms of its fixed broadband download speed rank, where it is now placed 67th vis-a-vis 76th last year,” Ookla said in a statement.

“While India’s rank in terms of mobile internet download speed remains same at 109th but average download speeds have risen to 9.01 mbps in February from 8.80 mbps in November last year,” it said.

According to the statement, the February Speedtest Global Index showed Norway at pole position in the world for mobile internet with an average download speed of 62.07 Mbps.

“Singapore takes the top spot for fixed broadband with a 161.53 mbps average download,” it added.

The Speedtest Global Index compares internet speed data from around the world monthly. It has 7,021 servers globally, out of which 439 speedtest servers are present in India, said the statement. (IANS)

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Will borrow Rs 2.88 lakh cr in FY19’s first half: Government

Mar 26, 2018 0

New Delhi– Expressing its intent to borrow less compared to the budgeted amount, the Central government on Monday said it will borrow only Rs 2.88 lakh crore through its benchmark bond scheme in the first half (H1) of FY19.

“This makes 47.5 per cent of the total budgeted amount as against 60-65 per cent share in this period in previous years,” Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg told the media.

The Central government uses its benchmark bond scheme, government securities or G-secs to raise funds from the open markets.

Garg said that during the first half of 2017-18, the government had borrowed Rs 3.72 lakh crore through G-Secs.

“This represents a substantial reduction compared to last year,” he said.

He added this would lead to lower overall borrowings compared to the budgeted amount. The government has budgeted gross G-sec borrowing of about Rs 605,539 crore for FY19.

“Certainly, this is no indication that we are pushing more towards the second half of the year. If you factor in additional loans, our second half would not be crowded. So there is no shift to the second half. It means that overall borrowings will be lesser,” Garg said.

He added that the government instead intends to use larger inflows from small savings schemes to fund its fiscal deficit during the year.

“We will borrow Rs one lakh crore from NSSF (National Social Security Fund) as against the budgeted amount of Rs 75,000 crore,” Garg said.

“The government has also decided to reduce buyback by Rs 25,000 crore.”

The government is also planning to issue more Floating Rate Bonds (FRBs) and introduce CPI-linked bonds.

“Both put together would amount to the extent of 10 per cent of issuances during the year,” he said.

The government will also introduce two benchmarks during this half year — 2-year and 5-year — to meet the market demand, he added.

“More issuance will be planned in short and long-term maturity bucket, reducing the issuance in medium term segments of 10-14 years to around 29 per cent, as against more than 50 per cent issuances in previous years,” Garg said. (IANS)

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India to become $5tn economy by 2025: Economic Affairs Secretary

Mar 26, 2018 0

New Delhi– India is set to become a $5 trillion economy by 2025, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said on Monday.

“We expect to grow at about 7 to 8 per cent in real terms and 9 to 10 per cent in nominal terms.

“I think it’s very reasonable to expect that we can achieve the five trillion economy mark. It’s a reasonably set goal,” Garg said during a panel discussion on ‘Shifting role of associations for attaining $5 trillion GDP by 2025’.

He said that India was enjoying macroeconomic stability and exports, after declining for the last couple of years, had started to pick up.

He added the government was also on the path to keep inflation within two per cent range of its four per cent target.

Garg said that in order to capitalise on this macroeconomic environment and achieve the $5 trillion goal, India needed to improve its share in the global trade pie.

“As the global trade grows, we have to have a good part of it,” Garg said.

He added that apart from a robust growth in the traditional sectors like textiles, India also needed to concentrate on services sector in an increasingly competitive global economy. (IANS)

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