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Govt to infuse Rs 83,000 cr in PSBs in next few months: Jaitley

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New Delhi: The government said it will enhance the capital infusion in public sector banks to Rs 83,000 crore, taking the total to Rs 1.06 lakh crore for the fiscal.

The capital will be pumped in over the next few months, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, adding that the move will increase the lending capacity of public sector banks (PSBs) as well as help some of them come out of RBI’s watchlist.

The government had earlier announced infusion of Rs 65,000 crore in PSBs in 2018-19, of which Rs 23,000 crore has already been disbursed, while Rs 42,000 crore is remaining.

 

The government Thursday sought Parliament’s approval for infusion of an additional Rs 41,000 crore.

This amount, sought to be infused in the banks through issue of government securities (recapitalisation bonds), is over and above the Rs 2.11 lakh crore recapitalisation plan announced in October 2017.

The recapitalisation, the finance minister said, will enhance the lending capacity of state-owned banks and help them come out of RBI’s Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework.

“Now this Rs 1.06 lakh crore this year and Rs 83,000 crore which is remaining is going to be utilised under four different heads. The first of course is to ensure that banks meet their regulatory capital norms.

“The second will be that the better performing banks under PCA are given capital to achieve a 9 per cent Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) and required capital conservation buffer and the 6 per cent net NPA requirements so that some of them are able to come out of the PCA itself,” he said.

The third category will be the non-PCA banks which are very close to the PCA red-line will be provided capital so that they do not come under the framework, he said.

Some capital will also be provided to banks which are going to be amalgamated to meet regulatory norms and growth capital, Jaitley added.

Earlier this year, the government had announced merger of Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda.

Jaitley also said the non-performing assets (NPAs) recognition, started in 2015, is almost complete, and the September quarter has shown decline in bad loans.

Gross NPAs of PSBs started declining after peaking in March 2018, registering a reduction of Rs 23,860 crore in the first half of the fiscal.

Speaking to reporters, Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar said three banks were on the verge of being included in the PCA, but with this infusion, they will be safe.

A total of 11 out of the 21 PSBs are under RBI’s PCA framework, which imposes lending restrictions on weak banks.

“India’s PCA framework for weaker banks has more onerous thresholds, that is higher capital thresholds and a net NPA threshold that further embeds capital requirement on account of provisioning of NPAs.

“Today’s proposal is an expression of government’s commitment that each PSB is an article of faith, and aims at securing compliance even for the higher regulatory norms,” Kumar said.

Asked if the Nirav Modi scam-hit Punjab National Bank (PNB) will get capital support, he said it could be a candidate for fund infusion.

Kumar said PSBs have recovered Rs 60,726 crore of bad loans in the first half of the current fiscal year, which is more than double the amount recovered in the corresponding period last year.

In October 2017, the government decided to infuse Rs 2.11 lakh crore in PSBs over the next two years-through budgetary provisions of Rs 18,139 crore, recapitalisation bonds of Rs 1.35 lakh crore, and the balance through raising of capital by banks from the market.

The government envisaged that PSBs would raise Rs 58,000 crore from the stock markets by March 2019 to meet Basel III norms.

Kumar said out of this, Rs 24,400 crore has been raised by banks so far.

The secretary also said four banks-SBI, Bank of Baroda, Indian Bank and Vijaya Bank-may not need capital. – PTI


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RBI’s vision document on payment systems to spur digital economy: Fintech firms

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New Delhi: The RBI’s ‘Payment Systems Vision 2021’ document would act as a catalyst for promoting digital economy and instill confidence among the general public, fintech companies say.

Aiming at a ‘cash-lite’ society, the Reserve Bank of India last week released the vision document for ensuring a safe, secure, convenient, quick and affordable e-payment system as it expects the number of digital transactions to increase more than four times to 8,707 crore in December 2021.

The RBI has said it will implement the approach outlined in the document during the period 2019 – 2021.

 

COO of Payworld Praveen Dhabhai said the vision document has a focus on empowering payment system providers and at the same time providing ease to consumers.

“We are confident with our vision as a payment system provider aligned with the regulators, we will be able to contribute in increasing the digital transactions penetrations especially in the assisted segment in smaller cities and rural Indian,” he said.

Navin Surya, Chairman Emeritus, Payments Council of India said: “Clarity in defining outcomes in terms of scale of digital and overall payments vis a vis GDP is a very good measurement to look forward to and also assess the impact of work done by all stakeholders.”

However, KYC simplicity, digital KYC and KYC bureau, as well as simplification of existing policies to enable NBFCs to issue credit cards is missing from the document, said Surya, who is also the chairman of Fintech Convergence Council.

Mandar Agashe, founder and vice chairman, Sarvatra Technologies, was of the opinion that the 24X7 helpline that the RBI plans to set will help in instilling confidence in customers regarding the digital payments system.

Other than this, geo-tagging of payment system touchpoints will help companies understand where and what type of transactions are taking place, which will also lead to curtailing frauds, he added.

The document said payment systems like UPI/IMPS are likely to register average annualised growth of over 100 per cent and NEFT at 40 per cent over the vision period (up to December 2021).

The ‘Payment and Settlement Systems in India: Vision 2019 – 2021’, with its core theme of ‘Empowering Exceptional (E)payment Experience’, envisages to achieve “a highly digital and cash-lite society” through the goal posts of competition, cost effectiveness, convenience and confidence (4Cs).

Gaurav Chopra, founder and CEO, IndiaLends, said, “With growing competition, industry players will be able to offer services at an optimal cost to their customers. RBI aims to bring innovation in technology and processes that will eventually save time of end consumers.”

CEO and co-founder of NiYO, Vinay Bagri said some of the measures proposed by RBI, such as self-regulatory organisation, strengthening offline payments and feature phone-based payment services, will go a long way in democratising the payments ecosystem.

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PE inflow in Indian retail real estate doubles to $1.2 bn in 2017, 2018: Anarock

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New Delhi: Indian retail real estate sector attracted private equity investment worth USD 1.2 billion during 2017-18 calendar years, double from the previous two years, according to property consultant Anarock.

The consultant attributed the sharp rise in private equity (PE) inflow to further liberalisation in FDI policies such as 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 percent FDI in single-brand retail under the automatic route.

From an investment of USD 600 million during 2015-2016 calendar years, private equity inflows in retail real estate jumped to over USD 1.2 billion between 2017 and 2018.

 

Of total USD 1.84 billion inflow in the last 4 years (2015-2018), tier II and tier III cities attracted nearly 48 percent funds (USD 880 million) against USD 960 million in tier 1 cities.

Top favoured tier II and tier III cities included Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Indore and Mohali.

US-based funds like Blackstone and Goldman Sachs have invested more than USD 1 billion between 2015-2018, while UAE, Singapore, Canada and Netherlands based funds were also active.

Shobhit Agarwal, MD & CEO – Anarock Capital says, “our report highlights the fact that unlike the commercial office sector, retail is to some extent geography-agnostic because its success depends on the spending power of its target audience.?

“As a result, shopping malls in tier II and tier III cities have performed as well as, if not better than, their tier 1 counterparts. This also led to increase in rentals and profitability and caused PE investors to start considering investment options outside their accustomed tier I geographies,? he added.

Anuj Kejriwal, MD & CEO – Anarock Retail said, “the opportunity that the Indian retail sector holds in store for PE investors is more than evident – as are the geographies they must focus on for optimum returns.?

Anarock data reveals that around 39 million sq ft of organised retail space is expected to enter the market between 2019-2022. Of this supply, around 71 percent is expected to come up in tier I cities, and the remaining 29 percent in tier II and tier III cities, Kejriwal added.

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Cash, goods worth Rs 3,400 crore seized during Lok Sabha elections 2019:EC

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New Delhi: After the completion of the seventh and final phase of polling , the Election Commission said cash, drugs, liquor and precious metals worth Rs 3,449.12 crore were seized by enforcement agencies since the Lok Sabha polls were announced on March 10.

This is thrice of what agencies seized during the 2014 Lok Sabha poll process. In 2014, law enforcement agencies made seizures worth Rs 1,206 crore, the EC’s director general (election expenditure) Dilip Sharma said.

Law enforcement agencies between March 10 and May 19 seized Rs 839.03 crore in cash, liquor worth Rs 294.41 crore, drugs worth Rs 1,270.37 crore, precious metals, including gold, worth Rs 986.76 crore and “freebies”, including sarees, wrist watches, aimed at inducing voters worth Rs 58.56 crore were seized.

 

EC officials said they directed social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, to remove several that were found to violate the EC’s code.They said social media platforms removed 909 posts. Facebook removed 650 posts, Twitter took down 220 posts, ShareChat removed 31, YouTube five and WhatsApp three.

Of the 650 posts taken down by Facebook, 482 were political messages posted during the “silence period”. The “silence period” starts 48 hours before the hour set for conclusion of polling in a particular phase. The seventh phase of polling came to a close at 6 pm on Sunday, so the “silence period” had begun at 6 pm on Friday for this phase.

As many as 73 social media posts were political advertisements in the “silence period”, two were in violation of the Model Code of Conduct, 43 were related to voter “misinformation”, 28 were dubbed as those crossing the limits of decency, 11 were related to exit polls and 11 were hate speeches, Ojha said.

There were also 647 confirmed cases of paid news, of which the maximum of 342 were reported in the first phase itself, he added. During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, 1,297 confirmed cases of paid news were reported, Ojha said.

The EC on Sunday continued to receive criticism from the Opposition while Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked it for granting him permission for his visit to Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath temple.

Modi visited Kedarnath on Saturday, spent the night in a cave and left for Badrinath on Sunday morning. “I did not ask for anything. I don’t believe in asking because God only wants us to give… all I want is ‘Baba’ Kedarnath bestows his blessings not just upon India but entire mankind,” he said at Kedarnath.

The PM thanked the EC for allowing him to undertake the visit, saying he got two days of “rest” there. The EC had given its nod to Modi’s visit while “reminding” the Prime Minister’s Office that the model code of conduct is still in force.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the Election Commission’s “capitulation” before the PM was obvious. “From electoral bonds and EVMs (electronic voting machines) to manipulating the election schedule, NaMo TV, ‘Modi’s Army’ & now the drama in Kedarnath; the Election Commission’s capitulation before Mr Modi & his gang is obvious to all Indians,” Gandhi tweeted. “The EC used to be feared and respected. Not anymore,” he said.

“Polling is over. Now, we can say that the ‘pilgrimage’ of the PM in the last two days is an unacceptable use of religion and religious symbols to influence the voting,” Congress leader P Chidambaram said.

Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu wrote to the EC stating that “continuous” telecast of the PM’s “private activities” at Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines were in violation of the poll code and should be stopped.

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