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SC issues notice to RBI on pleas alleging violation

The Supreme Court Friday sought RBI’s response on two pleas seeking contempt proceedings against the central bank and its former Governor Urjit Patel for non-disclosure of information under RTI about some banks. A bench headed by Justice L N Rao issued a notice to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for not disclosing information about the list of banks on whom certain fines were imposed for violating some banking rules. The court has asked RBI to file reply within four weeks and listed the matter for hearing in March. The pleas, filed by Girish Mittal and Subhash Chandra Agrawal, claimed that RBI and Patel had “willfully and deliberately” disobeyed the top court’s judgement asking the central bank to disclose infirmation under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Agrawal had sought complete information including related documents from RBI on the imposition of fines on some banks for violating rules. He had also sought the list of banks and the default for which show cause notices was issued to them before the fine was imposed. Despite the apex court’s judgement for disclosure of such information, RBI had issued a “Disclosure Policy” under which it has listed certain information as being exempted from being disclosed of the RTI Act.

Fintech: a key driver for financial inclusion

India has been an underbanked country for many decades, in spite of an existing ecosystem of banks and financial institutions. A number of critical financial services like loans, insurance and wealth management continue to be the privilege of a few. The numbers validate the sad state of affairs— less than 10 percent of Indians have access to credit and insurance penetration is only about 3 percent of GDP. The reasons are aplenty including high costs of the traditional banking model, lack of relevant products, and limited financial literacy. The potential is immense but there is a need to leverage technology to disrupt the way financial services are distributed to ensure that it makes inroads into the real India and impacts lives of millions of Indians. Fintech has emerged as the problem solver as it has disrupted the financial services market. Fintech companies are working to transform the way the real India transacts financially. Armed with top-of-the-line technology driven models, fintech companies are delivering all financial services digitally. They are reaching out to millions of unexplored Indians and offering customised solutions, delivered instantly and seamlessly on a phone. The first and foremost is credit.

India ranks 6th in GDPR readiness index: CISCO

Around 65 percent of Indian businesses and organisations are better prepared for the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), making India the sixth best prepared nation to deal with the new data privacy regulation which all organisations operating within the EU and European Economic Area are mandated to comply with. The GDPR became enforceable in May 2018. The rankings were part of the ‘Data Privacy Benchmark Study’ for 2019 put out by technology giant Cisco on Friday. According to the report, organisations that invested in maturing their data privacy practices are realizing the benefits that these investments are resulting in. The study showed that 59 percent of organisations across the world reported meeting all or most of the requirements, 29 percent expect to do so within a year and 9 percent estimate compliance will take more than a year.

Early education takes wing on augmented & virtual reality platforms

Being a new age parent means you have many worries, not least of which is the increasing amount of time children spend glued to mobile phone screens or tablets. Some parents even use screen time as a sop to placate their kids, but many are increasingly aware that addiction to screens— from consuming cartoons on Youtube to playing animated games — can impact child development. But increasingly tech-savvy children and parents worried about the content they consume is offering a new segment of firms an opportunity to offer technology-enabled educational toys and solutions. Many of these make toys which help children during development and offer them intellectual challenges and activities to shape growth. While some are digital, others still believe in going the analog way. PlayShifu is one such firm which produces augmented reality (AR)-based toys to aid in early childhood education and help parents use and understand the importance of technology, while also making physical toys. According to the firm, they are trying to merge play with developmental activities for kids aged 2-10 years.

Indian overseas bank q3 loss comes down

Indian Overseas Bank said its net loss has come down in the third quarter of the financial year to Rs 346.02 crore, down 64 percent from the previous year, and also 29 percent lower than the previous quarter loss of Rs 487 crore. The bank’s total income during the quarter rose 12.39 percent to Rs 5,689 crore. The operating profit also was 114 percent higher at Rs 1,466.15 crore. Interest income too was up by 6.75 percent to Rs 4,542 crore YoY, and total deposits saw a rise of 1.72 percent to Rs 2,20,311 crore. “The bank has reduced the concentration of bulk deposits and high cost deposits and increased retail term deposits to have a stable and sustainable deposit profile and reduce the cost of funds,” IOB said.

Electronics industry pitches for higher taxes on imports

With barely a week left for the Budget, the fast-moving consumer goods and appliances industry have high hopes pinned on it. The Budget will most likely be an interim one, considering that it would centre around the common man’s needs, consumers, consumption and measures including rekindling of investments ahead of the general elections. “It is very obvious for an FMCG player like us — the Budget needs to mean higher purchasing power for the consumers. Also, a reduction in income tax slabs will bolster the FMCG sector. The rural FMCG sector is also expected to witness a boost due to increased government spending. More money in consumer’s pockets reinforces the FMCG sector,” said Sahil Gilani, director (sales and marketing), Gits Foods. Industry players also highlighted that there is still some stress in the rural market. “The very fact that the governments in many states had to waive off farm loans is certainly indicative of the stress in the rural markets. Wage rates have also not moved up. We believe rural boost to drive growth,” said Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, adding, “Directionally, I would believe that in some tranches, the corporate tax rate should move towards 25 percent.”

Over 18 mn jobs created in 15 months till nov 2018

More than 18 million jobs were generated by the country’s formal sector in a 15-month period starting September 2017 and ending November 2018, suggests a study based on payroll data of retirement fund body EPFO, PFRDA and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). As many as 1,84,38,748 new members joined the ESI scheme run by ESIC during the 15 months until November 2018, showed the Central Statistics Office (CSO) study based on payroll data of different social security schemes. The CSO study released on Friday showed that as many as 1,79,34,300 new members joined the social security schemes run by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) from September 2017 to November 2018. However, the study stated that 1,39,31,607 members exited the EPFO schemes during the 15-month period and 33,48,093 members rejoined the subscription again during the period. Thus the net addition was 73,50,786 during the period under review.

 

Consolidate all main firms along with 14 subsidiaries as single financial entity

In a first since the bankruptcy law was enacted, the lenders and resolution professionals for Videocon Industries and Videocon Telecommunications Friday approached the NCLT seeking a direction to consolidate all the 14 group subsidiaries under one financial entity. The RP urged a single bench of the Mumbai National Company Law Tribunal, MK Shrawat to direct a consolidation which will recognise all the companies into a single entity saying as all these entities have common lenders and are engaged in common businesses. He also cited global precedents in this regard saying there are four kinds of consolidations globally-procedural, consequential, partial and sub-standard-and that various courts have allowed such measures. Seeking a procedural consolidation for the Videocon group and its over a dozen subsidiaries, the RP and the lenders said if accepted the will maximise the value of assets and all stakeholders will benefit from it.

Subhash says empire in a financial mess

Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra Friday said his company is in a financial mess and has blamed the same for the aggressive bets on infra, which has gone out of control since the IL&FS crisis and also the acquisition of Videocon’s D2H business. Apologising to lenders, Chandra also alleged that some negative forces are out to sabotage his efforts to raise money through a strategic sale in the flagship company Zee Entertainment Enterprises. The admission incidentally came after Zee shares tanked a whopping 26.43 percent on the BSE to Rs 319.35 Friday, while other group company shares like Dish TV plunged 32.74 percent to Rs 22.60. In an open letter, Chandra did not disclose the exact quantum of debt, limiting himself to say that rolling over debt has been difficult since the IL&FS crisis and the group has been able to honour its loan commitments till December.

India on way to becoming 5th largest economy globally: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that India is on the way to becoming the fifth largest economy in the world and the government is taking reform measures on a “daily basis” to further improve the investment climate in the country. Speaking at the India-South Africa Business Summit, he said India is the world’s fastest-growing major economy and the government is committed to building a ‘New India’ with next-generation infrastructure. At USD 2.6 trillion, the Indian economy is currently ranked sixth in the world behind the US, China, Japan, Germany and the UK. The prime minister listed out some of the government flagship initiatives like boosting domestic manufacturing through Make in India and digitizing the economy through Digital India. “We are on our way to becoming the fifth largest economy globally. We are one of the top FDI destinations listed by UNCTAD. But, we are not satisfied. On a daily basis, we are making necessary changes and reforms in important sectors of the economy,” he said.

DLF shares crash 11.5 pc amid CBI searching official premises

Shares of DLF crashed 11.5 percent Friday after its official premises were searched during an operation in the morning. The stock cracked 11.50 percent to settle at Rs 157.05 on the BSE. Intra-day, it plummeted 18.45 percent to Rs 144.70. At the National Stock Exchange (NSE), shares of the company dived 10.26 percent to close at Rs 159.50 apiece. In terms of equity volume, 19.94 lakh shares of the company were traded on the BSE and over 2 crore shares changed hands at the NSE during the day. The company’s market valuation also fell by Rs 3,639.82 crore to Rs 28,025.18 crore on the BSE.

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