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Banks, telcos may be allowed to use Aadhaar again via legislation: Jaitley

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi :Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Saturday said a Parliament approved legislation can restore mandatory linking of biometric ID Aadhaar with mobile phones and bank accounts, but did not say if the government will bring a new law for the same.
The Supreme Court had last month upheld the Constitutional validity of Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometric-based unique identity number, but restricted its use by private entities like telecom operators for verifying the identity of mobile phone users.
Jaitley said the verdict was a “very sound judgment” as the court accepted that there is legitimate state aim in Aadhaar.
“Aadhaar is not a citizenship card,” he said at the HT Leadership Summit in New Delhi. “Because after all, you have a system where you give a lot of government money in form of various support and subsidies to all kinds of people. That was the principle objective of Aadhaar.”
The Supreme Court, he said, upheld most of what Aadhaar does.
“What had not been upheld falls in two categories. One is the principle of proportionality that Aadhaar will help in these cases and then do it by an appropriate law.”
“So the whole argument which was given that private companies can’t use it, there is Section 57 which says you can authorise others either by law or contract. So what has been struck down is by contract,” he said.
Finance Minister said a legal provision through a legislation can restore linking of Aadhaar with mobile phones and bank accounts.
“By law, it can still be done, provided you do it under the adequate provision of law and do it on the basis of that in this field it is necessary,” he said.
He, however, did not say if the government plans to bring a law in Parliament for the purpose.
Jaitley said the Supreme Court has permitted Aadhaar linkage in several areas like income tax, based on “the principle of proportionality”.
“If you are able to show the kind of data that in mobile telephony it (Aadhaar linkage) will help, it can happen. So mobile and bank accounts are two critical areas,” he said.
The Supreme Court declared constitutional the government’s extraordinary attempt to give every resident a biometric ID. It, however, drew a clear line between two kinds of use for biometric authentication — its use for state-provided services like payment of subsidies and taxation records was declared acceptable but restricted its use as authentication tool by the private sector like telecom companies and banks.


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India one of world’s fastest growing large economies:IMF

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Washington: India has been one of the fastest growing large economies in the world, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said, asserting that the country has carried out several key reforms in the last five years, but more needs to be done.
Responding to a question on India’s economic development in the last five years at a fortnightly news conference here, IMF communications director Gerry Rice Thursday said, “India has of course been one of the world’s fastest growing large economies of late, with growth averaging about seven per cent over the past five years.”
“Important reforms have been implemented and we feel more reforms are needed to sustain this high growth, including to harness the demographic dividend opportunity, which India has,” he said.
Details about the Indian economy would be revealed in the upcoming World Economic Outlook (WEO) survey report to be released by the IMF ahead of the annual spring meeting with the World Bank next month, he said.
This report would be the first under Indian American economist Gita Gopinath, who is now IMF’s chief economist.
“The WEO will go into more details. But amongst the policy priorities, we would include accelerate the cleanup of banks and corporate balance sheets, continue fiscal consolidation, both at centre and state levels, and broadly maintain the reform momentum in terms of structural reforms in factor markets, labour, land reforms and further enhancing the business climate to achieve faster and more inclusive growth,” Rice said.

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Fitch cuts India GDP growth forecast for FY20 to 6.8 pc

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New Delhi: Fitch Ratings on Friday cut India’s economic growth forecast for the next financial year starting April 1, to 6.8 per cent from its previous estimate of 7 per cent, on weaker than expected momentum in the economy.
“While we have cut our growth forecasts for the next fiscal year (FY20, ending in March 2020) on weaker-than-expected momentum, we still see Indian GDP growth to hold up reasonably well, at 6.8 per cent, followed by 7.1 per cent in FY21,” Fitch said in its Global Economic Outlook. Fitch Ratings cut India’s FY19 GDP growth forecast to 7.2 per cent from 7.8 per cent on December 6.
The rating agency has also cut growth forecasts for FY20 and FY21 to 7 per cent from 7.3 per cent and 7.1 per cent from 7.3 per cent, respectively. According to Fitch, the RBI has adopted a more dovish monetary policy stance and cut interest rates by 0.25 percentage at its February 2019 meeting, a move supported by steadily decelerating headline inflation.
“We have changed our rate outlook and we now expect another 25 bp cut in 2019, amid protracted below target inflation and easier global monetary conditions than previously envisaged,” it said. “On the fiscal side, the budget for FY20 plans to increase cash transfers for farmers,” it added. Fitch said, it’s benign oil price outlook and expectations of accelerating food prices in the coming months should support rural households’ income and consumption.

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India’s total wireless subscribers grew to 1.18 bn in January 2019: TRAI

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New Delhi: India’s total wireless subscribers grew by 0.51 percent to 1,181.97 million (1.18 bn) in January 2019, as per a report by telecom regularor TRAI.
Total wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA & LTE) increased from 1,176.00 million at the end of December 2018 to 1,181.97 million at the end of January 2019, thereby registering a monthly growth rate of 0.51 percent, the TRAI report said.
As on January 31, 2019, the private access service providers held 89.95 percent market share of the wireless subscribers whereas BSNL and MTNL, the two PSU access service providers, had a market share of only 10.05%, the regulator said in its report.
The Wireless subscription in urban areas increased from 647.52 million at the end of December 2018 to 654.20 million at the end of January 2019, however wireless subscriptions in rural areas declined from 528.48 million to 527.77 million during the month.
The monthly growth rates of urban wireless subscription was1.03 percent and rural wireless subscription was 0.13%, the report said
The Wireless Tele-density in India increased from 89.78 at the end of December 2018 to 90.15 at the end of January 2019.
The Urban Wireless Tele-density increased from 155.48 at the end of December 2018 to 156.85 at the end of January 2019, however Rural Wireless Tele-density declined from 59.15 to 59.04 during the same period.
The share of urban and rural wireless subscribers in total number of wireless subscribers was 55.35 percent and 44.65 percent respectively at the end of January 2019.

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