AirAsia India flew 4.4 mn passengers in 2017

Jan 26, 2018 0

Bengaluru– Budget passenger carrier AirAsia India flew 4.44 million passengers during the calendar year 2017, 81 per cent more passengers than during 2016, the company said on Friday.

“AirAsia India carried 4.44 million passengers from January to December 2017, recording an average load factor (measure of airline’s capacity utilisation) of 87 per cent for the year,” the company said in a statement announcing the quarterly results of AirAsia Berhad.

Headquartered in Bengaluru, AirAsia India is a joint venture between Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia Berhad and Tata Sons.

During the Q4 of the 2017 calendar year from October to December, the low-cost airline had carried 1.42 million passengers, an increase of 79 per cent compared to the same period in 2016, the company said.

“AirAsia India ended the Q4 with a fleet size of 14 aircraft after adding one aircraft during the quarter and six during the full year,” the statement added.

During the quarter, the airline had increased the frequency of its flights from Bengaluru to Hyderabad, and started operating on three new routes to Ranchi from Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar and Hyderabad. (IANS)


Read More

‘Indian software exports grew 3.8% in 2016-17’

Jan 25, 2018 0

Bengaluru– Indian software and IT services exports grew 3.8 per cent to $111 billion (Rs 7,04,500 crore) in fiscal 2016-17 from $107 billion in fiscal 2015-16, said the Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) on Thursday.

“The US remained top destination for India’s export of software and services, accounting for 57 per cent of exports in 2016-17. In value terms, it is $63.51 billion as against $61.51 billion in 2015-16,” said the ESC in its Statistical Year Book.

The year book was released at the two-day Indiasoft 2018 IT summit that concluded in the city on Thursday.

“Britain remains second destination with 18 per cent share. In value terms, it is $20 billion, followed by Singapore ($4.43 billion), the Netherlands ($2.49billion),” said the Chairman of Indiasoft organising committee Nalin Kohli, on the occasion.

The ESC aims to create alternative markets for software exports and services in the future, added D.K. Sareen, the executive director of ESC.

“Over a period of time, we have reduced the dependence on the US market from about 80 per cent to the current level of 57 per cent,” noted Sareen.

As India’s share of computer software and services in the world market would go up with time, the dependence on the US would come down over the years, he stated.

India currently exports software and services to over 145 countries, according to the ESC.

“We have made inroads into almost all markets. What we have to do in the future is to scout aggressively in these markets to increase our share,” asserted Sareen. (IANS)

Read More

Petrol, diesel prices continue to spiral

Jan 25, 2018 0

New Delhi– Petrol petrol and diesel prices rose to fresh levels in Delhi and other cities in the country on Thursday.

Petrol prices in the national capital were at Rs 72.49 per litre — the highest in over three years, data from the Indian Oil Corp showed. The previous record was Rs 72.51 in August 2014.

Petrol price in Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai was at Rs 75.19, Rs 80.39 and Rs 75.18 per litre respectively — all three-year highs.

Previous highs in the cities were Rs 75.46 (Kolkata, October 2014), Rs 80.60 (Mumbai, August 2014) and Rs 75.78 (Chennai, August 2014).

Similarly, diesel prices have been hitting record levels every day for almost a week now. The trend continued on Thursday.

In Delhi, diesel was sold at Rs 63.53 per litre. In Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, the fuel was priced at Rs 66.20, Rs 67.65 and Rs 67.00 per litre respectively.

Global and domestic factors have spiked the fuel prices. Production curbs by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and high demand have led to the surge. On Thursday, price of the Brent crude oil crossed the $70 (a barrel) mark and stood at $71.03. (IANS)

Read More

Budget 2018: The must-dos to boost infrastructure investments

Jan 24, 2018 0

By Taponeel Mukherjee

As India’s Finance Minister is days away from presenting Budget 2018, there are two key issues that he must address to boost investment and growth in the country. They are: Non-tax revenues from land bank monetisation of public institutions, and full tax-exempt status for income from debt instruments issued by Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) in India.

The budget must pay attention to non-tax sources of revenues especially with a view to partially monetising the land banks of large public institutions such as the Indian Railways and the Airport Authority of India (AAI).

Land bank monetisation solves two core problems for India — lack of available land for infrastructure and lack of financing for infrastructure. It also leads to productive use of an asset of great value that is lying idle. Land utilised for infrastructure will be land that will be used for productive purposes and therefore will create jobs, a much-needed requirement for a young and growing population.

While talk of land bank monetisation has been around for over a decade, little has been done by way of a fully structured policy and its consequent implementation. What the budget needs to outline is a strategy around land bank monetisation much beyond simply stating numbers.

First and foremost, the budget will have to create an incentive mechanism based on the attractiveness of the land. Not all parcels of land can be sold to the investor for an upfront payment. Given the time involved with utilising land parcels to set up infrastructure projects, the government needs to create a mechanism that allows for a partial upfront payment of the land value followed by a revenue-share model to incentivise private investments.

In addition, the payment from the land monetisation needs to be specifically earmarked for use within the institution whose land bank is monetised. For instance, if Indian Railways’ land bank is monetised it should contribute towards reducing the dependency of the Railways on central budgetary allocations. This mechanism of specifically earmarking funds to be used leads to public institutions getting a cash inflow through the land monetisation and subsequent payments from the infrastructure created. Hence the public institution is partially weaned of central budgetary allocations with greater internal fund generation capacity.

We cannot overemphasise the need for accountability regarding fund utilisation. An effective policy of land bank monetisation in the budget and a thorough implementation of the policy will go a long way towards creating and financing much needed infrastructure in India.

The second key issue that the budget needs to address is regarding taxation of debt issued by Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs). From a policy perspective, it is important to realise that the REITs and InvITs aren’t merely investment vehicles but an alternative to the capital markets. A fully functional REITs and InvITs regime will allow real estate and infrastructure companies to utilise their assets to generate capital that they can reinvest in their businesses. A fully functional REITs and InvITs regime will also allow transparency and clarity around asset quality, thus allowing investors to separate the good investments from the rest of the pack.

What is needed to propel investments in this space is to give interest income from debt securities issues by InvITs and REITs fully tax-exempt status on the lines of municipal bonds in the US. It is important to not look at this tax-exemption as “lost revenues”, given the fact that not a single REIT has listed in India yet. On the contrary giving interest income from debt securities issued by REITs and InvITs fully tax-exempt status encourages institutional investors to provide capital to these investment vehicles and get compensated for risk.

A vibrant investment vehicle environment in India where asset recycling through REITs and InvITs can take place efficiently has significant multiplier effects such as bringing down the cost of credit, boosting new project creation, and creation of much needed infrastructure for the public.

In summary, the Finance Minister must view land bank monetisation and tax-exemption of debt securities issued by REITs and InvITs as aiding in the expansion of capital markets in India. These two strategies make public institutions a lot more self-sufficient than earlier and enable a better investment ecosystem around real estate and infrastructure investments. Budget 2018 must give infrastructure and real estate sectors the much-needed push to propel the India growth story forward. (IANS)

Read More

India’s growth slowdown substantially due to demonetisation: Raghuram Rajan

Jan 24, 2018 0

Davos– Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan feels a substantial part of the growth slowdown in India was because of the after effects of the demonetisation decision of November, 2016.

“I think the jury is still out. We have an argument that it will improve compliance till we see the last tax numbers in, I feel the jury is still out. That said, I would suspect that a substantial part of the growth slowdown was because of the effects (of demonetisation)…some of it was in the informal economy which weren’t immediately captured, which we are seeing now. Businesses that have shut down, because they couldn’t survive that episode,” Rajan told NDTV here.

He said to understand the positive impact of demonetisation “we have to wait and see”.

“I think it did give some fillip to the digital payments system. But that’s relatively smaller…compared to the other (aspects).”

Asked whether he would have taken up demonetisation during his tenure, Rajan said: “This is an easy sort of answer to give in hindsight. I think the government at that time asked us our views.. we gave them. But at the same time, I think its very hard. I didn’t think it would have the desired effect. And that it would have cost.”

He added: “Yes, any monetary economist would say that, better print the money before taking it away. But, that said I think the real sort of question is, should the RBI be a fifth column if the government wants to go ahead on something. In my guess, both legally and ethically you can’t stop the institution. You may refuse to along with it, but you cannot stop the institution.

Regarding the Goods and Services Tax regime, he said: “Now I think in the long term GST will have very positive effect. There are people who say we should have prepared better, we should have delayed it. My sense is many of the problems just come from doing it. So, if we solve those problems and go forward that will be very beneficial.” (IANS)

Read More

Petrol prices at 3-year high; diesel at record high

Jan 24, 2018 0

New Delhi– Petrol and diesel prices kept spiralling even on Wednesday, touching new highs in the national capital and other metros.

Petrol was sold at Rs 72.43 per litre in Delhi, the highest in three years. It cost Rs 72.51 on August 2014, according to data from Indian Oil Corp.

In Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, petrol was sold at Rs 75.13, Rs 80.30 and Rs 75.12 per litre respectively, also at over three-year high levels.

The previous highs were Rs 75.46 (Kolkata, October 2014), Rs 80.60 (Mumbai, August 2014) and Rs 75.78 per litre (Chennai, August 2014).

Similarly, diesel prices, which have been touching new levels, shot up further on Wednesday across all major cities.

In Delhi, diesel was sold Rs 63.38 per litre. In Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, it cost Rs 66.04, Rs 67.50 and Rs 66.84 a litre respectively.

Diesel is widely used to transport goods including food products. Experts say this will push up inflation.

Several factors like production curbs by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and high demand have led to a surge in crude oil prices. As on January 24, price of the Brent crude oil hovered around $70 a barrel.

Also, daily price revision in India allows for a rise in domestic fuel prices in accordance with international trends. The earlier system of price determination of petrol had a waiting period of 15 days.

On the other hand, imposition of state taxes and levies generally hikes prices. Currently, the two fuels do not come under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax. (IANS)

Read More

SBI Caps to evaluate monetisation of Railways’ transmission assets

Jan 24, 2018 0

By Arun Kumar Das

New Delhi– SBI Capital Markets will evaluate Indian Railways’ overhead equipment (OHE) network for electrical traction as the state-run transporter is exploring the monetisation of its transmission assets.

Expecting to raise about Rs 25,000 crore from monetistion of these assets, the Railways has asked SBI Caps to study its transmission and distribution network for valuation and submit a report next month.

Railways has about 25,000 km of electrified routes involving OHE through which electric locomotives draw power for running trains and an action plan finalised by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has envisaged the complete electrification of the network by 2020-21.

The plan entails drastic reduction on the expenditure on fossil fuels by shifting to complete electrification of the rail routes across the country.

Accordingly, the electrification of about 24,400 km of railway tracks by 2020-21 at an estimated cost of Rs 35,000 crore is expected to reflect on the forthcoming budget.

“The decision to monetise the transmission assets has been taken with the aim of raising resources from within and depending less on gross budgetary support (GBS),” a senior Railways official said.

As per the plan, the Railways is discussing with the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL), a Power Ministry subsidiary, to form a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for this purpose.

The SPV will raise funds from the market for the Railways and the public transporter will pay a fixed price as lease amount to the SPV. However, the operation and maintenance of the electric lines will be with the Railways.

The state-run transporter is expecting that the funds from transmission assets will give a boost to its capacity expansion plans without depending on the GBS.

The valuation of OHE infrastructure, the amount of lease and other related issues will be dealt with in the SBI Caps report, the official said.

The plan outlay of the Railways in the Budget 2018-19 is likely to go up from Rs 1.31 lakh crore to 1.46 lakh crore for the next fiscal.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the budget on February 1, the last full budget of the present govermnent ahead of the general elections in 2019 amid rising global crude oil prices and dipping Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is likely to stick to its fiscal consolidation commitments though there are expectations that the budget would lighten the tax burden of the middle class.

The Railways component of the main budget is expected to boost infrastructure investments in order to step up the growth momentum. (IANS)

Read More

Markets open on a negative note on Wednesday

Jan 24, 2018 0

Mumbai– The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a negative note during the morning session of the trade.

Later the Sensex move to a positive region.

The Sensex of the BSE after opening at 36,161.62 points touched a high of 36,163.68 and a low of 36,085.68 points.

On Tuesday the Sensex closed at 36,139.98 points.

The Sensex is trading at 36,165.75 points up by 25.77 points or 0.07 per cent.

On the other hand, the broader 51-scrip Nifty at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 11,069.65 points after closing at 11,083.70 points.

The Nifty is trading at 11,076.25 points in the morning. (IANS)


Read More

Delhi markets shut to protest sealing, traders demand amnesty ordinance

Jan 23, 2018 0

New Delhi– More than seven lakh traders across Delhi on Tuesday observed a shutdown to protest the sealing drive in the city and demanded the government bring out an amnesty ordinance to protect traders. The strike is expected to cause a loss of business worth Rs 1,500 crore.

According to the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), more than seven lakh traders belonging to more than 2,000 trade associations across the city joined in the “Delhi Trade Bandh” against the sealing in the city, which they said is in violation of statutory provisions of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act.

“The traders are demanding the government to protect traders from sealing by bringing an ordinance, an ‘Amnesty Scheme’ on building and commercial activities on ‘as is where is basis’ as on December 31, 2017, notifying 351 roads as commercial or mix land use and increase in FAR (floor area ratio) to protect additional construction,” said Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

“The protesting traders are demanding immediate intervention of the government in the matter of sealing as the basic fundamentals of MCD (Delhi Municipal Corporation) Act, 1957 have been snatched away from the traders and sealing is being conducted in a dictatorial manner under the guise of Supreme Court order,” he added.

Khandelwal added that the local shopping centres were given on commercial rates and now conversion charge was being demanded and sealing conducted without giving any notice, which cannot be justified.

“The entire sealing proceedings are being run in a dictatorial manner keeping aside the MCD Act, 1957,” Khandelwal said, adding that the move “deprived the traders from taking advantage of the provisions of the Act.”

The traders body said political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, supported the “trade bandh”.

Citing various sections of the Act, Khandelwal said in case of misuse of building, the Commissioner is required to lodge a complaint against owner/occupier with the Municipal Magistrate.

He added that although mushrooming growth of commercial shops was a matter of common knowledge but no action was taken by the MCD to check commercial activity.

“Over and above the Commissioner never declared any area as prohibited for conducting commercial activity… Therefore ongoing sealing done by MCD is completely illegal as it has violated statutory provisions and even the apex court was never informed about such mandatory provision”,” Khandelwal said.

“The fundamental rights of the traders have been snatched and principle of natural justice has been flouted. The traders demands a thorough probe on the issue,” he added.

The CAIT pointed out that the day-long “Bandh” will cause a loss of revenue to the tune of about Rs 125 crore to the government and drain out the working hours of about 20 lakh people.

The statement said traders in various market across Delhi are taking out protest marches in their respective markets and would later join “protest dharnas” being held at various places like Chowk Hauz Qazi, Kamla Nagar, South Extension, Rajouri Garden and Krishna Nagar to raise their voice strongly demanding justice.

All major wholesale and retail markets of Delhi including Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Chawri Bazar, Kamla Nagar, Karol Bagh, Kashmiri Gate, Khari Baoil, Naya Bazar, Bhagirath Palace, Paharganj, Rajouri Garden, Jail Road, Rohini, Ashok Vihar and Pitampura remained completely closed and wore a deserted look as no commercial activity took place, the statement added.

Other markets which observed the “bandh” include Lajpat Nagar, South Extension, Defence Colony, Greater Kailash,Green Park, Khan Market, Kirti Nagar, Patel Nagar, Naraina, Uttam Nagar, Vikaspuri, Kalkaji, Tughlaqabad, Yusuf Sarai, Vikas Marg, Mandawali, Gandhi Nagar, Shahdara, Bhajanpura, Jagatpuri, Mayur Vihar, Preet Vihar and Shradhanand Marg.

The sealing drive is being carried out against business establishments which are using residential properties for commercial purposes without paying the conversion charges.

It is being carried out by a Monitoring Committee set up by the Supreme Court in 2006. In 2012, the apex court asked the committee to stop the drive. But in December 2017 it ordered its resumption. (IANS)

Read More

Petrol prices in Delhi at 3-year high; diesel at record level

Jan 23, 2018 0

New Delhi– A rally in global crude oil prices pushed petrol prices in the national capital to an over three-year high level on Tuesday.

Petrol prices rose to the over three-year high level of Rs 72.23 per litre on Tuesday from Monday’s Rs 72.08 per litre.

According to data from IndianOil, the previous high for petrol prices in Delhi was Rs 72.51 a litre reported on July 1, 2014.

In the other key metro cities of Mumbai and Kolkata and Chennai, petrol was priced at Rs 80.10 per litre, Rs 74.94 and Rs 74.91 respectively.

The previous highs in Mumbai and Kolkata and Chennai were Rs 80.60 (August 2014), Rs 75.46 (October 2014) and Rs 74.91 (August 2014) respectively.

Similarly, there was an appreciation in diesel prices throughout metro cities. On Tuesday, prices of diesel in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai touched record highs of Rs 63.01 per litre, 65.67 and Rs 66.44 respectively.

In Mumbai, diesel was sold at Rs 67.10 per litre — the highest level since August 2014 when it was priced at Rs 67.26 a litre.

The rise in diesel prices across several metros assumes significance as the fuel is the mainstay of the transportation sector and will have a consequent upward effect on inflation.

Several factors like production curbs by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and high demand have led to a surge in crude oil prices to a three-year high. As on January 23, Brent crude oil prices hovered around $70 a barrel.

Besides global factors, daily price revision allows for a sudden rise in domestic fuel prices which reflects international trends. The earlier system of price determination of petrol had a waiting period of 15 days.

On the other hand, imposition of various state taxes and levies generally hikes prices. Currently, the two transportation fuels do not come under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. (IANS)

Read More