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Finance Ministry likely to stick to capital infusion programme for PSU banks






New Delhi: The Finance Ministry would not curtail its capital infusion plan for this financial year even as state-owned banks would be needing fewer funds following the RBI’s decision to defer the deadline to meet Basel III norms by a year, according to sources.

Under the new dispensation, the capital infusion by the government in public sector banks for meeting the capital buffer norms would come down to around Rs 15,000-20,000 crore, sources said.

However, there will not be any reduction in the capital funding plan as announced in October last year despite a lower requirement due to the extension of the deadline for meeting the CCB of 2.5 per cent until March 2020, sources said.


The capital infusion would help improve the financial health of banks, sources said, adding that some banks would get necessary regulatory capital while others would get it for fueling growth, they clarified.

Earlier this week, the RBI in the central board meeting decided to extend the implementation of the last tranche of 0.625 per cent of capital conservation buffer by a year to March 2020. However, the board decided to retain the capital adequacy ratio or CRAR at 9 per cent, against 8 per cent prescribed by Basel III norms.

The CCB currently stands at 1.875 per cent and the remaining 0.625 per cent was to be met by March 2019, as per the earlier deadline fixed by the RBI.

The extension of the timeline for the implementation of the last tranche of the CCB under Basel-III capital regulations could reduce the burden of public sector banks (PSBs) by Rs 35,000 crore this fiscal, according to rating agency Crisil.

Generally, there is a leverage of 10 times on the capital, sources said adding that the lending capacity would increase by Rs 3.5 lakh crore.

After assessing the requirement of each bank, the ministry is expected to finalise the capital infusion of about Rs 54,000 crore by this month-end or by the first half of the next month.

The ministry had earlier this year provided a capital infusion of Rs 11,336 crore to five PSBs to help them meet their interest payment commitments.

Punjab National Bank (PNB), hit by the Nirav Modi scam, got the highest amount of Rs 2,816 crore, while Allahabad Bank received Rs 1,790 crore. Andhra Bank got the capital support of Rs 2,019 crore, Indian Overseas Bank received Rs 2,157 crore and Corporation Bank got Rs 2,555 crore.

The infusion was part of the remaining Rs 65,000 crore out of Rs 2.11 lakh crore capital infusion over two financial years. The government announced the Rs 2.11 lakh crore capital infusion programme in October last year.

As per the plan, the PSBs were to get Rs 1.35 lakh crore through re-capitalisation bonds, and the balance Rs 58,000 crore through the raising of capital from the market.

Out of the Rs 1.35 lakh crore, the government has already infused about Rs 82,000 crore through recap bonds and the balance would be done during this fiscal.



‘We look forward to making India a USD 10 trillion economy’: PM Modi




New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday laid out his vision for making India a USD 10 trillion economy, and the third-largest in the world, saying he wants the nation to have countless startups, and be a global leader in electric vehicles.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his five-year tenure had laid a solid economic foundation in the country eradicating the complete policy paralysis that had set in during the last Congress-led UPA regime.

Addressing a business summit organised by a newspaper, PM Modi said, “Total policy paralysis was observed before during the previous Congress-led UPA government. Change is clearly visible today.”


He criticised the runaway inflation, rising Current Account Deficit (CAD) and complete policy paralysis in 2013-14.

BJP-led NDA rule witnessed the highest post-liberalisation growth rate of 7.4 per cent and the lowest inflation of less than 4.5 per cent, PM Modi said.

Reforms like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have laid a solid foundation for higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, he said.

He added: “We look forward to making India a $10 trillion economy and the world’s third-largest economy.”

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Niti Aayog calls for separate debt management agency




Mumbai/New Delhi: A separate Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) to manage the government’s market borrowings and public debt could soon be a reality. The government think-tank Niti Aayog’s Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar on Friday batted for setting up an independent debt management office outside the purview of Reserve Bank of India, saying it was “an idea whose time has come”.

“It is important for this particular office be separate, because then you can pay much more attention on public debt management. That will help the government bring down the cost of its debt,” Kumar said at an event in New Delhi.

According to economists, with a borrowing of Rs 6-7 lakh crore a year, the incremental saving to the government from the PDMA mechanism could be over Rs 4,000 crore to Rs 5,000 crore.


The idea of a public debt management agency, or PDMA, was proposed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his February 2015 Budget speech, though it has not yet been implemented.

At present, the government debt, including market borrowing, is totally managed by the central bank, for which the government has to decide how to segregate different functions in the RBI.

Kumar, however, said, “the government has been very courageous to give the central bank the statutory authority for the inflation targeting. Therefore, who then looks after growth, employment, debt and other legal things etc in the country? I think those are the things that need to be discussed.”

The main focus of the PDMA was to resolve issues relating to conflict of interest as the RBI decides on the key interest rates as well as undertakes buying and selling of government bonds.

According to G Ananth Narayan, Professor at SPJ Institute of Management and Research, “Liquidity management, regulations, intervention, monetary policy and acting as a merchant banker to the government are all different activities. While some people do make a case that there is a need for co-ordination among these activities, one could argue that a dedicated, independent merchant banker could manage the government borrowing programme to the better satisfaction of the government.”

Ajay Manglunia, Executive Vice-President and Head-Fixed Income Advisory at Edelweiss Financial Services, said, “PDMA is a very crucial function, looking at the current complexities with respect to timings, diversification of the investors and linkages the world over. It’s rather more important to have full attention and a dedicated resource for this activity. It is a further step to have a dedicated PDMA cell that would focus on merchant banking for the government.”

The idea of separating public debt management from the Reserve Bank of India was initiated in 1991, and since then, a plethora of reports culminating in the comprehensive Aziz Committee report in September 2008 had vouched for it.

Most OECD countries have already established dedicated debt management units. Several emerging economies like Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and South Africa have also restructured and consolidated debt management.

There are three primary reasons commonly cited in economic literature as to why debt and monetary management cannot go together. One, the possibility of keeping interest rates low by the central bank goes against inflation targeting. Second, the issue of financial repression/mandated statutory liquidity ratio for government bonds. Third, the central bank being an owner as well as operator of government securities creates conflict of interest.

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US-China extend trade talks, deadline likely to be pushed back




Washington: US President Donald Trump said a trade summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping was likely to occur next month, and hailed two days of “very good talks” by negotiators.

The talks were extended through Sunday as officials race to reach a deal ahead of a deadline next week when US duty rates are due to rise sharply. But Trump again said he was considering pushing back the deadline for raising tariffs on more than USD 200 billion in Chinese exports. “We expect to have a meeting sometime in a not too distant future,” he said of the meeting with Xi.

“Probably fairly soon in the month of March.” Details remained scant about any concrete progress in the seven-month-old trade war, which has rattled the global markets and prompted stark warnings about the risks to the world economy.


“I think there is a very, very good chance that a deal can be made,” Trump told reporters at the White House on a second day of trade negotiations with Chinese officials.

“If we are doing well, I could see extending that” deadline for the end of the three month tariff truce. And Trump said an agreement on currency manipulation will be included in the trade pact. Officials from Beijing also expressed optimism about a positive outcome.

“From China, we believe that it is very likely that it will happen,” Chinese trade envoy Liu He said, speaking through an interpreter. Global stock markets were higher on expectations the two sides would avoid further deterioration in their trade relations.

Analysts say the two sides are likely to trumpet mutual agreements to resolve the easier parts of the trade dispute — increasing purchases of American goods, more open investment in China and tougher protections for intellectual property and proprietary technology.

The harder parts covering issues like scaling back China’s ambitious industrial strategy for global preeminence, are another question. Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, again warned that the US-China trade tensions a “major risk” to world economic growth. Since July, the countries have hit out with tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade.

While the tariffs alone are having “minimal” effect on global trade, they are damaging business confidence and weighing on stock markets, Lagarde told the US radio program Marketplace on Thursday.

“I cross my fingers every morning and my toes every evening because I hope that it is going to end up with a way to fix the system, not break it,” she said.

The IMF has cut its forecast for global growth this year due to the combined impact of the trade war. Beijing reportedly has proposed an increase in its imports of US energy and agricultural exports significantly.

US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue tweeted that China has committed to buying “an additional” 10 million metric tons of soybeans as a “show of good faith,” but he did not give any details or specify the timeframe. Still, a broader deal could be difficult given the US demands for far-reaching structural changes.

Gary Clyde Hufbauer, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said China may have to remove its tariffs in order to increase purchases of US goods, but Trump may feel no pressure to roll back the duties he imposed last year.

“The big surprise would be a complete removal of tariffs by Trump but I’m expecting an asymmetrical removal of tariffs by China in order to get to some of these numbers,” he said.

China’s retaliation has hit US farm exports hard. The US Agriculture Department estimated this month that US soy exports would not turn to their pre-trade war levels for another six years.

William Reinsch, a former senior Treasury official for trade in the administration of President Bill Clinton, told AFP a risk for Trump is whether any agreement holds and the Chinese honor their commitments.

“If it unravels and we have a string of unmet commitments and then US retaliation right before the election, we’re kind of right back where we started,” he said.

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