New Delhi: Wholesale price-based inflation rose for the second consecutive month to 3.18 per cent in March on costlier food and fuel, government data released Monday showed.
The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) based inflation was at 2.93 per cent in February. It was 2.74 per cent in March 2018.
Inflation in food articles hardened with steep rise in prices of vegetables during March 2019.
Vegetables inflation was at 28.13 per cent in March, up from 6.82 per cent in the previous month. However, inflation in potato cooled substantially to 1.30 per cent, from 23.40 per cent in February.
Inflation in food articles basket was 5.68 per cent during March.
Inflation in ‘Fuel and power’ category also spiked to 5.41 per cent, from 2.23 per cent in February.
The Reserve Bank, which mainly factors in retail inflation for monetary policy decision, had earlier this month cut interest rates by 0.25 per cent.
Retail inflation accelerated to 2.86 per cent in March from 2.57 per cent a month ago, data released last week showed.
For April-September period, the RBI has projected retail inflation at 2.9-3 per cent, mainly due to lower food and fuel prices as well as expectation of a normal monsoon.
Ban cryptocurrencies, consider launching own digital money: Panel to govt
New Delhi: A panel tasked with examining virtual currencies has recommended that the government should ban private cryptocurrencies and could consider launching its own digital money. It has also recommended that to deter the use of private cryptocurrencies, anyone doing so could be punished with imprisonment of up to 10 years.
The committee on virtual currency is headed by Finance Secretary Subhash Garg. The other members are Ajay Prakash Sawhney, secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology; Ajay Tyagi, chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi); and B P Kanungo, deputy governor, Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The committee submitted its report — after a delay of a year. A piece of draft legislation, Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019, was also put in the public domain.
The Supreme Court is slated to hear a challenge to a ban on cryptocurrencies by the central government and the Reserve Bank of India.
In its report, the committee has recommended that distributed ledger technology (DLT), the most common use of which is blockchain, can be of great benefit to the country in several financial and non-financial areas, such lowering costs of the Know Your Customer process and improving access to credit.
Ban cryptocurrencies, consider launching own digital money: Panel to govt “There is no underlying intrinsic value of private cryptocurrencies. These… lack all the attributes of a currency. There is no fixed nominal value of these private cryptocurrencies. They neither act as any store of value nor they are a medium of exchange,” the panel said in its report, noting that since their inception, cryptocurrencies had demonstrated extreme fluctuations in their prices.
The draft Bill states: “Whoever directly or indirectly mines, generates, holds, sells, deals in, transfers, disposes of or issues cryptocurrency or any combination thereof… shall be punishable with fine or with imprisonment which shall not be less than one year but which may extend up to ten years, or both.”
The panel said policymakers and regulators should have an open mind regarding the introduction of an official digital currency in India. “It may be possible to visualise some models of future official digital currencies but as of date it is unclear whether there is clear advantage in the context of India to come up with an official digital currency.”
The panel also recommended if required, a group can be constituted by the finance ministry’s department of economic affairs, with participation of the representatives of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY), and the department of financial services for examination and development of an appropriate model of digital currency in India. If one is launched, the RBI should regulate it.Technology experts, however, were not very happy with the recommendations of the panel.
“The definition of cryptocurrency in the report is reasonably vague and may not cover something like Facebook’s libra or even bitcoin if one were to read it too technically. The drafting needs to be better,” said a lawyer who did not want to be named.Experts said it might be possible to develop a distributed ledger with nodes kept only in India.
“As a venture capitalist, I find… the suggestion of a ban quite disappointing because they did not engage with start-ups or domain experts,” said Nitin Sharma, technology investor and founder, Incrypt Blockchain.
Maruti, Hyundai skip rural slump, manage to increase sales in FY19
Chennai: The country’s largest two carmakers, Maruti and Hyundai, managed to increase their rural sales in 2018-19. This took place despite the rural economy being under pressure.
Both companies are optimistic about 2019-20, too, with the raising of rural allocations in the Union Budget and higher Minimum Support Prices. That means more of rural disposable income.
Maruti Suzuki’s (the country’s largest car maker) rural sales in 2018-19 rose to 205,000 units or 39 per cent of sales. A year before, it was around 165,000 units or 37 per cent of sales. This year’s outcome will depend on the monsoon, farm output and how rural sales pick up.
Hyundai’s rural sales were 17.3 per cent of its FY19 total, as against 15.6 per cent a year before. In FY20, the contribution is expected to be around 20 per cent.
Both companies — they address most of the spectrum — have said they are optimistic on the future, despite the overall industry having slowed. According to the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations, passenger vehicle sales dropped by 4.6 per cent in FY19, to 224,755 units.
Shashank Srivastava, executive director for marketing and sales at Maruti, estimates growth of 4-8 per cent for the current financial year. However, he adds, a good monsoon and a satisfactory (for sales) festival season would be important, he adds.
With car penetration of around 22 per 1,000 population, India continues to be a big opportunity to sell cars, especially in rural areas. Srivastava says the rate of growth in the rural market has invariably been higher in recent years.
“Today, with booming internet users and a strong millennial population, rural markets are emerging as growth engines for sales,” he says.
Further, rural infrastructure has improved significantly. Motorability has seen sharp improvement there, resulting in exponential increase of two-wheeler sales and offering similar potential for cars.
Vikas Jain, national sales head at Hyundai Motor India, says customers of urban and rural markets might have differing needs but similar aspirations. In the latter, owning a car is a big aspiration.
Urban markets are experimenting with mobility solutions such as subscription and leasing. Hyundai has a partnership with self-drive car rental firm Revv and another with mobility solutions firm ALD Automotive India.
The company believes there is huge aspiration among youth in tier-1 and tier-II cities to own a vehicle. Rising disposable income and the expanding presence of financial institutions in rural markets, to offer credit at attractive rates, will enable ownership of cars.
Rise in govt borrowing can weigh on corporate sector: RBI Dy Governor
Bengaluru: An increase in government borrowing runs the risk of flooding the debt market, while making it expensive for companies to borrow, according to outgoing Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Viral Acharya.
In a lecture shared by the RBI, Acharya said India`s borrowing relative to its output has ranged from 67% to 85% since 2000 and has outpaced many emerging markets including China.
“As more government debt floods markets, the relative safety and liquidity premium attached by investors to high-rated corporate bonds diminishes, raising the cost of borrowing especially for AAA-rated borrowers and making it relatively less sensitive to policy rate cuts,” Acharya said.
Acharya is leaving the central bank on Tuesday, six months before the scheduled end of his term in office, citing personal reasons.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut the repo rate to 5.75% on June 6, its third cut in 2019, while also changing its policy stance to “accommodative,” after data showed the economy growing at its slowest in over four years.
India should cut back on subsidies and programs that are not delivering long-term growth and divest more of its public sector holdings, Acharya said.
“The much-needed land, labour and agricultural reforms could be undertaken, all of which can help crowd-in private sector growth,” Acharya said.
There could be efficiency gains if there are more private investors playing an effective role in the governance of public sector enterprises, he added.
Aiming to attract investments, which are at its lowest level in years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
s government has proposed giving foreign investors a bigger role in Indias insurance and aviation sectors, which have been tightly controlled for decades.