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Over optimistic bankers, growth slowdown responsible for bad loans: Rajan

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi :Over optimistic bankers, slowdown in government decision making process and moderation in economic growth mainly contributed to the mounting bad loans, said former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan in a note to Parliamentary panel.
In a note to Chairman of Estimates Committee Murli Manohar Joshi, he said: “A variety of governance problems such as the suspect allocation of coal mines coupled with the fear of investigation slowed down government decision making in Delhi, both in the UPA and the subsequent NDA governments”.
Project cost overruns escalated for stalled projects and they became increasingly unable to service debt, he said, adding the continuing travails of the stranded power plants, even though India is short of power, suggests government decision making has not picked up sufficient pace to date.
He further said a larger number of bad loans were originated in the period 2006-2008 when economic growth was strong, and previous infrastructure projects such as power plants had been completed on time and within budget.
“It is at such times that banks make mistakes. They extrapolate past growth and performance to the future. So, they are willing to accept higher leverage in projects, and less promoter equity. Indeed, sometimes banks signed up to lend based on project reports by the promoter’s investment bank, without doing their own due diligence,” he said.
Citing an example, he said “one promoter told me about how he was pursued then by banks waving chequebooks, asking him to name the amount he wanted”.
This is the historic phenomenon of irrational exuberance, common across countries at such a phase in the cycle, he said.
Unfortunately, he said, that growth does not always take place as expected and the years of strong global growth before the global financial crisis were followed by a slowdown, which extended even to India, showing how much more integrated the country had become with the world.
Strong demand projections for various projects were shown to be increasingly unrealistic as domestic demand slowed down, he said.
He also pointed to loss of promoter and banker interest for rise in NPAs.
Over malfeasance and corruption in the NPA problem, he said, “Undoubtedly, there was some, but it is hard to tell banker exuberance, incompetence, and corruption apart”.
“Clearly, bankers were overconfident and probably did too little due diligence for some of these loans. Many did no independent analysis, and placed excessive reliance on SBI Caps and IDBI to do the necessary due diligence. Such outsourcing of analysis is a weakness in the system, and multiplies the possibilities for undue influence,” the note said.
On steps required to prevent recurrence rising non-performing assets (NPAs), Rajan suggested that there is need for improving governance of public sector banks and process of project evaluation and monitoring to lower the risk of project NPAs.
Besides, he also made a case for strengthening the recovery process and distance public sector banks from the government.
The Parliament’s Committee on Estimates had invited Rajan to brief it on the matter after former Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian praised him for identifying the NPA crisis and trying to resolve it.
Rajan, who was RBI governor for three years till September 2016, is currently the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at Chicago Booth School of Business.


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India second most optimistic globally about executive job market in 2019: Survey

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Mumbai: Senior management leaders in India are optimistic about growth of executive jobs in 2019, only second to Brazil. According to the 2019 BlueSteps Executive Career Outlook report, nearly 57 percent of India’s senior executives believe that there will be stellar growth in job market opportunities as compared with 2018 levels.

In Brazil, 72 percent leaders are positive of growth. India is followed by Africa at 54 percent and France at 40 percent. The results are based on a survey of over 1,400 senior executives worldwide.

Globally, optimism levels for executives about senior management jobs market dropped considerably as against their strong outlook at the beginning of 2018. “This indicates that while the decrease in optimism does reflect an overall concern in the marketplace, the change may be more of a reflection of how strong last year’s market was instead,” the report said.

 

Nearly a third of the respondents cite strong economic growth and business environment as a reason for their optimism. India topped the list with respect to economy forecast for 2019, where 57 percent respondents believed in the pace of the country’s growth.

Brazil trailed with 56 percent leaders expecting growth. Leaders of the eastern European countries, the UK and Ireland were pessimistic about their economy.

The technology sector is expected to have the strongest growth at the executive level in 2019, with 70 percent of all survey respondents believing there will be robust growth in the industry.

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Traders’ body slams Rahul’s statement on abolishing GST

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New Delhi: Traders’ body CAIT criticised Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s statement of abolishing GST if voted to power, saying he does not have a blueprint of any alternative tax structure.

The attempt of Gandhi for seeking political mileage making traders a scapegoat is deeply regretted and vehemently opposed by CAIT, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said.

He said Rahul Gandhi should not do any politics using shoulders of the traders else traders are capable to give a fitting reply in forthcoming elections.

 

CAIT secretary general said Gandhi is opposing the GST “whereas he does not have a blueprint of any alternate tax structure”.

Khandelwal demanded Gandhi should speak out the plans and programmes thought by the Congress party for traders and added that there must be a blueprint of alternative tax structure before abolishing GST.

While addressing a traders’ conference in New Delhi, he said the Congress has ruled the country for a long time and in such a long tenure, the trading community was never on a priority of the government or for the Congress party.

In reference to forthcoming elections, Khandelwal claimed almost 7 crore traders across the country have now converted into a vote bank due to a two-month national campaign of the CAIT under the slogan “One Nation-One Trader-Ten Votes”.

The CAIT would shortly release a National Charter of Traders carrying core issues of the trading community and whoever political party gives a logical road map of solutions, the traders will vote for that party as one unit across the country, Khandelwal said.

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NSE eyes 350-375 tonnes of domestically refined gold market for derivatives

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Mumbai: With over 350-375 tonnes of the domestically refined gold market still away from the organised trading platforms in India, the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) has decided to accept it as good delivery on its derivatives platform. So far, only London Bullion Market Association recognised bullion is accepted as good delivery on the exchange platform.

NSE has initiated a move to decide India good delivery norms for gold including sourcing norms for gold refined and unrefined (dore). The process of finalizing new norms and implementing is expected to take two months.

These are significant as in last few years Indian bullion refineries’ business has increased and in 2018 domestically refined gold contributed from dore and recycled gold to half (350-375 tonnes) of the domestic gold demand. However, on gold futures exchanges this gold cannot be delivered. This means domestic refineries have limited access to hedge their future production on exchange platform as they can’t deliver gold the refine on exchange platform.

 

India’s domestic physical gold demand is 600 tonnes for jewellery and 160-175 tonnes of investment demand, according to the World Gold Council 2018 data. 275 tonnes of gold was supplied by Indian gold refineries and 87 tonnes of gold was derived from scrap or recycled gold. Indian metal companies also derive gold from ores of other metals during the process of refining them. This was 8.6 tonnes. All these can now be deliverable on the futures market once India goods delivery norms are in place.

At present, only MMTC-Pamps refines gold, which is LBMA standard and eligible to be delivered on Indian exchanges.

NSE’s move will help this domestically refined gold deliverable on its futures exchange where gold is already traded. At present, MCX and BSE accept gold to be delivered in futures, which is as per LBMA good gold delivery standards. NSE spokesperson said that “we are developing India good delivery standards and they will be largely in sync with LBMA and BIS norms.” 20 plus Indian bullion refineries that are registered with Bureau of India Standards have applied to NSE and six have been approved. International agency Alex Stewart, which provides inspection and analytical laboratory services, is studying the processes of these refineries and giving their score.

Even a domestic laboratory is also looking at the same and expected to give its report on processes of refineries that it has studied.

Sourcing of dore or unrefined gold is a big controversy globally and there was always a question on mines which are producing it whether the mine is using the funds for illegitimate activities or not. Globally OECD has developed norms to avoid such gold and Indian industry has been working for the same. However, NSE spokesperson said that “the exchange’s India good delivery norms for gold will accommodate norms to verify legitimate sourcing of gold dore by Indian refineries.”

The sourcing norms will also include norms for sourcing domestic gold for recycling where the gold provider will have to give an undertaking that no money laundering etc involved for the gold he is giving for recycling.

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