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Explainer: Why is PTC India Financial Services under the scanner for corporate governance?

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The Securities and Exchange Board of India has pulled up PFS, barring the non-banking financial company from holding a board meeting until it addresses the corporate governance issues and submits a report on action taken within four weeksPTC India Financial Sinks 16% Over Corporate Governance Issues

PTC India Financial Services (PFS) has been taking heat for lapses in corporate governance and compliance after three of its independent directors quit last week.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has pulled up PFS, barring the non-banking financial company (NBFC) from holding a board meeting until it addresses the corporate governance issues and submits a report on action taken within four weeks.

Shares of PFS and parent PTC India have plummeted for three consecutive sessions. But what has caused all this?

The trigger

On January 19, Kamlesh Shivji Vikamsey, Thomas Mathew T and Santosh B Nayar resigned from the post of independent director of PFS on concerns over lapses in governance and compliance. They submitted similarly worded resignations and other supporting documents.

The three directors said that former bureaucrat Rakesh Kacker had also previously written to the management highlighting lapses in corporate governance before his tenure ended at PFS in end-December. Kacker was also on the board of the parent entity PTC; he resigned on January 21.

Why did the directors resign?

The independent directors have made six allegations--one pertains to the appointment of another director, while the other five pertain to operations and corporate governance issues.

  1. • PFS’s managing director and chief executive officer Pawan Singh did not allow “Mr Ratnesh” to join and function as director finance and chief financial officer despite board approvals for the appointment. The independent directors said that the company was in violation of the Companies Act, 2013 as Singh took the decision “unilaterally” and did seek board approval, nor gave an explanation.
  2. • The directors also alleged that the company did not disclose the forensic audit report (FAR) relating to a loan account of NSL Nagapatnam Power and Infratech for two years between November 2018 and December 2020. Due to ongoing stress in the project, insolvency proceedings were initiated in the project for which bridge loan was taken by NSL and the promoter company of NSL made a one-time settlement (OTS) offer to the company in March 2020. But when the FAR came to light, PFS’s audit committee recommended that the matter should be reported to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as suspected fraud and the board wanted to defer the decision on OTS till RBI responded.
  3. • The management took no action on corporate governance issues highlighted by former PTC head Deepak Amitabh in a board meeting held on August 5, 2021.
  4. • The management made changes in conditions of loans, without prior approval of the board. The independent directors cited two examples—both pertaining to highway projects—and expressed concerns that there may be more such instances.
  5. • The management blatantly ignored communications from the independent directors where they called for-- documentation pertaining to the appointment and joining of Ratnesh, request for professional help of legal counsel, meeting of nomination and remuneration committee to fill up the vacancy of a lady independent director, and action needed after the withdrawal of nomination of Renu Narang from the board of the company that rendered the nomination and remuneration committee dysfunctional.
  6. • The management did not provide the independent directors with the information sought by them.

What has the management done in response?

The management has refuted the allegations, questioned the intent of the independent directors and formed an internal committee for investigation. They have sent a status report to the RBI, SEBI and the two stock exchanges.

The management has started the process of appointing new independent directors and has sought SEBI approval to hold a board meeting in their absence.

The management also said that while the former chairman Deepak Amitabh raised concerns over the corporate governance practices of the company in a board meeting on August 5, 2021, the board provided a clean corporate governance report on the same day for the financial year ending March 31, 2021. They also pointed out that on September 24, 2021 the ex-chairman addressed the shareholders of the company at the 15th Annual General Meeting, appreciating the firm and mentioning no concern related to corporate governance.

What regulatory action has been taken?

SEBI has barred PFS from holding a board meeting until the company submits an action report within four weeks. This effectively means that the company is unlikely to get an exemption for a board meeting for the next one month.

The RBI and even the ministry of corporate affairs are soon expected to ask the company for an explanation.

What next?

All eyes would be on the action report PFS has to submit to SEBI in the next four weeks.

As a listed NBFC, the company falls under the purview of both RBI and SEBI. Authorities could direct the company to conduct an independent audit of the corporate governance issues.

The management has been in talks with key investors to assuage their concerns. They may have to take some more action soon to allay their concerns as the selloff in the shares of PFS and parent PTC continues.

PTC, formerly known as Power Trading Corporation of India, holds a 65 percent stake in PFS. State run-power sector companies NTPC, Power Grid Corporation of India, Power Finance Corporation and NHPC together own a 16.2 percent stake in PTC.

Sequence of events

August 5, 2021: Former PTC Chairman Deepak Amitabh raises concerns over the corporate governance practices of PFS in a board meeting.

October 13, 2021: Amitabh resigns from the post of chairman and managing director with effect from November 5, citing personal reason. He joined the company in 2003 and held the top position since 2012.

November 6, 2021: Rajib Kumar Mishra, who was director of marketing at PTC, was given the additional charge of CMD’s position till a regular appointment was done.

January 14, 2022: PFS directors were sent a notice informing them of a board meeting to be held on January 22. The independent directors claimed that the board meeting was invalid as the notice was not served to all the directors of the board and the agenda did not include the corporate governance issues raised by them earlier.

January 19, 2022: Vikamsey, Mathew and Nayar resign from the board of PFS, citing lapses in corporate governance.

January 20, 2022: PTC and PFS refute allegations made by the independent directors who resigned.

January 21, 2022: PTC and PFS hold press meet to announce they have formed an internal committee for investigation. They question the intent of the independent directors.

January 22, 2022: PFS has to call off the board meeting after SEBI pulls them up, barring them from holding a press meet until they submit an action report in four weeks.

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What should investors do with Reliance Industries post Q3 earnings: buy, sell or hold?

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Reliance Industries reported a net profit of Rs 20,539 crore in the third quarter of 2021-22, up 37.9% year-on-year as all business verticals saw strong growth, the oil-to-chemical (O2C).What Should Investors Do With Reliance Industries Post Q3 Earnings: Buy,  Sell Or Hold?

The share price of Reliance Industries (RIL), which reported a healthy set of numbers for the December quarter, slipped into the red after opening higher in the morning session on January 24 following weak market conditions.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries reported a net profit of Rs 20,539 crore in the third quarter of 2021-22, up 37.9 percent year-on-year as all business verticals saw strong growth, the oil-to-chemical (O2C), telecom and retail conglomerate said on January 21.

The net profit of the company was boosted by a one-time gain of Rs 2,836 crore from the sale of its upstream shale gas assets in Eagleford in Texas, USA, with which the company exited from the shale gas play in North America.

The consolidated revenue for the country’s most valuable company by market capitalisation rose 52.2 percent YoY to Rs 209,823 crore in the quarter. The company said that it clocked record earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBIDTA) led by its O2C, oil and gas, retail and digital services.

Also read: Reliance Retail Q3 result | Net profit jumps 23% to Rs 2,259 crore backed by festive sales

The Jio Platforms business reported gross revenue of Rs 24,176 crore in the December quarter, up 13.8 percent after adjusting for Interconnect Usage Charges (IUC).

RIL said that healthy subscriber addition of 34.6 million was to some extent offset by the churn due to SIM consolidation and repurposing of customer retention.

Catch all the market action on our live blog

At 10.39 am, the stock was trading at Rs 2,449.85, down Rs 28.25, or 1.14 percent, on the National Stock Exchange. It touched an intraday high of Rs 2,504.10 and an intraday low of Rs 2,443.20.

Here's what brokerages say about the stock post December quarter earnings:

Morgan Stanley 

The firm has maintained its overweight call on the stock with the target at Rs 2,925 per share. "The firm reported 5 percent beat on earnings driven by higher telecom ARPUs, upstream gas EBIDTA and retail margin. However, the telecom subscriber churn is a key negative. Overall earnings upgrade story is firmly in play," it said.

Jefferies 

The research firm has maintained its buy call on the stock with the target at Rs 2,950 per share. RIL's EBITDA growth of 6 percent was ahead of estimates on a large beat in retail. Strong network expansion, revenue beat and profitability improvement were the key highlights.

Jio's subscriber churn was a disappointment, but strong margin performance surprised positively. Refining remains firm, while petchem has hit a soft patch on weak Chinese demand. Forecast 22 percent adjusted EPS CAGR over FY22-24, it said.

CLSA

The research firm has maintained its outperform rating with the target at Rs 2,850 per share. Q3 standalone EBITDA, EBIT and profit of 3-6 percent was ahead of estimates. The big upstream beat is partly offset by a slight miss in O2C. Higher retail profit drove a 6-7 percent consolidated EBITDA/EBIT beat. The brokerage firm has raised EPS estimates by 3-7 percent.

Macquarie

The firm has retained its underperform call with the target at Rs 2,850 per share. Retail revenue momentum, improved E&P profit are the positives. Refining margin improvement and lower-cost debt refinancing were the key positives. Jio subscriber churn, low tax rate, one-off disposal gain were the negatives. It raised FY22-24 EPS estimates by 1-2 percent on a higher energy division margin.

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Current economic landscape may not allow government to go for fiscal consolidation immediately: YES Bank chief economist

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"Expenditure needs are clearly cut-out and the government should not shy away from them to attain its objective of fiscal consolidation. The good thing is that resource generation might not be the biggest problem in FY23 as, with sticky inflation, nominal growth for the economy is likely to be close to 14 percent in FY23 on top of the 17.6 percent estimated for FY22.

It is that time of the year when markets await the Union Budget. From the time COVID-19 hit, the government has agreed to take a large GFD/GDP ratio (gross fiscal deficit/gross domestic product) in its stride, allowed for a sharp increase in its borrowing programme, leading to a significant increase in the public debt/GDP ratio. Expectedly, there are some calls for a fiscal consolidation, lest the debt becomes overly burdensome for future generations to pay or financial stability becomes an issue.

Can the government go for a fiscal consolidation immediately? The current economic landscape may not allow them to do so. The economy was anyways slowing over many quarters before COVID-19, implying structural impediments. With COVID-19, these impediments have probably only strengthened and thus the economy would need to be on policy crutches for full recovery to take shape.

Also Read:- As economies limp out of pandemic, here’s how CII wants policymakers to steer post-COVID recovery


A look at the data will make this clear. Advance GDP estimates (AE) published recently indicate that India is likely to grow at a real rate of 9.2 percent in FY22. The worry is weak private consumption demand and the still-frail consumer sentiment. The AE indicates that the private consumption expenditure will still be lower than the pre-COVID-19 level in FY22 by 2.9 percent. And, even more important is the fact that per capita GDP in FY22 at constant prices is at Rs 1,07,801 and this continues to be lower than the level of Rs 1,08,645 in FY20.

Government's policy focus has principally been on reforms strategies that boost the production sector. However, the missing link here is consumption demand and thus getting private investment demand back on track merely through the enablers of PLI (production linked incentive), etc, may not work as underutilisation of capacity remains high. Even the low interest rates of the central bank and negative real rates have not enthused credit flows for investment purposes.

Also read - Budget 2022: India set for modest fiscal consolidation amid slow economic recovery

With the onset of Omicron, the challenges of Budget-making have probably increased. The economy continues to remain multi-speed: both on the production side as also on the demand side. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has already removed the liquidity comfort from the system and some banks have gone ahead and increased the deposit rates. Sooner than later, the harsh tightening that the US Fed is launching itself into could mean that RBI would have to raise the repo rate.

With the economy still tender, the fiscal cannot contract when RBI is tightening. The role of the fiscal should continue to remain redistributive, try and push up job growth in the economy and continue its resource support for schemes such as the MNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme). While the government has been leading investments, there could be some worries with the implementation part, evident in the slow pace of capital expenditure in the current financial year. Thus, to provide a push to the economy, the government will have to better strategise the implementation of projects that will also enable job growth and help stabilise consumption demand.

eas that cry for attention are healthcare and education sectors. COVID-19 has exposed the need for large investments in both these areas. In the last budget, the healthcare sector allocations were raised by 137 percent, but this included the cost of vaccines as also water and sanitation. The need of the hour is to improve the healthcare and education infrastructure (access to education for poor in backward areas has been impacted). Health and education remain important as they can have implications for the future productivity of the workforce. Private-public participation could be the way forward here.

Expenditure needs are clearly cut out and the government should not shy away from them to attain its objective of fiscal consolidation. The good thing is that resource generation might not be the biggest problem in FY23 as, with sticky inflation, nominal growth for the economy is likely to be close to 14 percent in FY23 on top of the 17.6 percent estimated for FY22. This is likely to be beneficial for tax collection. Our calculations indicate that the government may target for a GFD/GDP of 5.8 percent for FY23, but with the GFD remaining large at Rs 15.4 trillion, entailing a borrowing programme of close to Rs 13 trillion.

Disclaimer: The views and investment tips expressed by investment experts on Moneycontrol.com are their own and not those of the website or its management. Moneycontrol.com advises users to check with certified experts before taking any investment decisions.

As economies limp out of pandemic, here’s how CII wants policymakers to steer post-COVID recovery

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Confederation of Indian Industries urges policymakers to tackle two-speed recovery among other things Growth appears to be limping back after COVID battered economies around the world, thanks to policy support from governments as well as vaccination drives.

The Rise of the 'Gig Economy': A Case Study of Uber - Studying EconomicsHowever, to ensure that the recovery is even and sustained, policymakers need to tackle seven key issues going by a blog post from the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).

Here’s a detailed look at them:

Tackle two-speed recovery

Recovery is two-speed with widespread differences, both inter-country and intra-country. The developed world, with much higher fiscal support and access to vaccines, has recovered much faster than developing and low-income countries. Within countries, contact-based sectors have been slower to pick up. The more vulnerable sections of society bore greater brunt of loss of jobs and livelihoods. Economic realities of a two-speed recovery have exacerbated inequalities making them stark and intense as never before. To address this, inclusion will have to be a key component of all policymaking.

Institutionalise pandemic preparedness

COVID is not over yet. Concerns caused by the recent mutation show how fragile the recovery is. Also, COVID is not the last pandemic that the world will have to deal with. Given the severity of the health and economic crisis and the scale of loss of lives that pandemics can cause, countries should institutionalise pandemic preparedness.

Gradual easing of monetary policy

Led by the United States, governments and central banks across the world have been literally printing money leading to a surfeit of liquidity. However, this cannot continue forever, and the hope is that the withdrawal of this policy would be gradual. The process will place the dynamics of inflation, monetary policy, fiscal deficits and interest rates centre stage in the global economic thinking, and countries should start preparing for this beginning 2022.

Bring down emissions

The challenge of climate change requires urgent and substantive action by all. The earth’s carbon dioxide levels are the highest in the last three million years. Therefore, it is crucial to bring down emissions substantially within this decade itself to be able to achieve the goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees.

Address disruption from tech adoption

The pandemic has fast-tracked technology adoption, which brings with it the issues of disruptions, dislocations, and friction. Policymaking needs to address these challenges.

Supply chains must prepare for black swans

The pandemic has caused unprecedented supply chain shocks leading to global shortages such as that of semiconductors. These shortages have affected businesses across the globe, due to their dependence on the complex just in time global supply chains. The shortages led to lower capacity use in user industries, in spite of demand being there. This in turn impacted investment and capacity expansion decisions. Economies need to deal with these shortages and plan for mitigating the impact of any such future global events on supply chains.

Implementing Universal Basic Income

In a two-speed world, economic policy should re-visit the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a social protection tool and a demand stabiliser. While the implementation would be easier for the developed world with resources available at its disposal, developing countries like India also need to start deliberating on some form of UBI.

Share Market Closing Note

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Sensex, Nifty recover smartly to end off days low; PSU banks fall, FMCG outperforms

Share Market Closing Bell! Sensex, Nifty end on a positive note – IT stocks  and Reliance Industries lead the surge | Zee Business

Sensex, Nifty recover smartly to end off days low; PSU banks fall, FMCG outperforms

CLOSING BELL Updates: All sectoral indices barring FMCG ended in the red with the midcap and smallcap indices shedding 2 percent each

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Topic :- Time:3.00 PM

Huge sell off happened in the market in last trading hour. Nifty spot if manages to close above 17600 level then expect some pull back in coming sessions and close below above mentioned level will result in some further fall. Avoid open positions for Monday. Though Nifty and Banknifty are showing some recovery now still its better to avoid.


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Topic :- Time:2.30 PM

CRUDOIL Trading View:

CRUDEOIL is trading at 6270.If it breaks and trade below 6260 level then expect some decline in it and if it manages to trade and sustain above 6285 level then some upmove can follow in it.

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Topic :- Time:1.30 PM

GOLD Trading View:

GOLD is trading at 48256.If it breaks and trade below 48220 level then expect some decline in it and if it manages to trade and sustain above 48300 level then some upmove can follow in GOLD.

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Topic :- Time:1.00 PM

Nifty recovered from its day lows however it is still trading in red zone. Nifty spot if manages to trade and sustain above 17680 level then some can be seen in the market and if it breaks and trade below 17640 level then some decline can follow in the market.

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Topic :- Time:12.30 PM

COPPER Trading View:

COPPER is trading at 758.60.If it manages to trade and sustain above 759.20 level then some upmove can follow in it and if it breaks and trade below 757.80 level then some decline can be seen in the Nifty.

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Topic :- Time:12.00 PM

Yet another day yet another fall. Nifty is falling continuously. All recovery hopes are on Reliance number now. Nifty spot if manages to trade and sustain above 17660 level then expect some further upmove and if it breaks and trade below 17620 level then some decline can be seen in the market.

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Topic :- Time:11.55 AM

Just In:

Paytm shares hit record low of Rs 980, discount to issue price at 54%.


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Topic :- Time:11.30 AM

News Wrap Up:

1. Sensex down 500 points, Nifty near 17,600; MidCap index slips 1%

2. AIIB to invest $150 mn in development of data centers serving Asia

3. FPIs look to Budget for clarity on REIT, InvIT taxation rate

4. Seeking foreign investment, India to open $1 trn govt bond market

5. Reliance Industries may post strong growth in net profit, sales for Q3

6. Zomato slips 5%, nears record low; market cap falls below Rs 1-trn mark

7. Shoppers Stop surges 18%, hits 52-week high on strong Q3 earnings

8. Adani Wilmar to hit capital mkt with Rs 3,600 crore-IPO on January 27


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Topic :- Nifty Opening Note

Indian Stock Market Trading View For 21 Jan,2022

Global cues will dictate trend. Reliance result will have deep impact on the further market movement.

Nifty spot if manages to trade and sustain above 17780 level then expect some further upmove and if it breaks and trade below 17700 level then some decline can follow in the market. Please note this is just opening view and should not be considered as the view for the whole day.


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Fuel prices on January 21: Petrol, diesel prices today in Mumbai, Delhi, other cities

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Delhi reduced the VAT on petrol from 30 to 19.4 percent from December 1 midnight, bringing down the price by around Rs 8 to Rs 95.41 a litre

In Mumbai, a November 4 cut reduced the price of petrol to Rs 109.98 a litre, which remains unchanged. Diesel is at Rs 94.14 a litre (Representative image)

In Mumbai, a November 4 cut reduced the price of petrol to Rs 109.98 a litre, which remains unchanged. Diesel is at Rs 94.14 a litre (Representative image)

Petrol and diesel prices remain unchanged on January 21 - a notification issued by state-owned fuel retailers showed.

This comes after the Central government cut excise duty on November 4, 2021 to give relief from prices that had touched an all-time high.

The Central government cut the duty on petrol by Rs 5 per litre and that on diesel by Rs 10 a litre resulting in an equivalent reduction in retail pump rates. Following this, many states and Union Territories cut local sales tax or value-added tax (VAT) to give further relief to consumers.

In Delhi, fuel is relatively cheaper than the rest of the metros because the state government had earlier decided to reduce the VAT on petrol. Delhi reduced the VAT on petrol from 30 to 19.4 percent from December 1 midnight, bringing down the price by around Rs 8 to Rs 95.41 a litre. Diesel price also remains unchanged in the national capital at Rs 86.67 a litre.

In Mumbai, a November 4 cut reduced the price of petrol to Rs 109.98 a litre, which remains unchanged. Diesel is at Rs 94.14 a litre.

In Kolkata, petrol and diesel prices remained at Rs 104.67 and Rs 89.79. Petrol was at Rs 101.40 and diesel at Rs 91.43 in Chennai. In Hyderabad, petrol and diesel prices remained at Rs 108.20 per litre and Rs 94.62 per litre.

The states and union territories that had gone for VAT reduction after the excise duty cut by the Centre include Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Sikkim, Mizoram, Daman and Diu, Karnataka and Puducherry. Others include Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Gujarat, Nagaland, Punjab, Goa, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Andaman and Nicobar, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

States that have so far not lowered VAT include are largely opposition ruled states including Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu. TMC-governed West Bengal, Left-ruled Kerala, TRS-led Telangana and YSR Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh have also not cut VAT.

Congress-ruled Punjab, which is due for election by March, has seen the biggest drop in petrol prices after it slashed VAT the most. The union territory of Ladakh saw the biggest fall in diesel rates.

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Budget 2022 | Support to real estate sector will positively impact entire economy

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While the government has continued to boost the real estate sector, it needs to be recognised as an industry. This will accelerate its growth, and make the sector more organised 

Budget 2022 | Support To Real Estate Sector Will Positively Impact Entire  Economy

The year 2022 is dubbed as a year of opportunity for the real estate industry. As per estimates, the economy is expected to grow steadily at 8-9 percent, stimulating demand for better infrastructure, and larger homes. Since the real estate sector is expected to contribute 13 percent to India’s GDP by 2025, the upcoming Union Budget is quintessential to discern the sector’s growth trajectory, and determine its larger impact on the national economy.

Amid the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant(s), the housing market remains bullish. We expect to see growing demand, especially for ready-to-move-in homes across the affordable and luxury segments. We are also confident that the strong focus on infrastructure will act as an impetus for the sector’s progress.

In last year’s budget, we witnessed landmark initiatives such as the boost to affordable housing through rate tax deduction on home loans, among other measures such as debt financing for REITs and InvITs, and infrastructure upgrades. The impact of these implementations has provided the sector with a strong foundation that led to the stimulation of affordable housing and the rental housing market. With the government aiming to build 20 million affordable homes in urban areas, we anticipate more sops such as extending rate tax deductions on home loans for another year more.

In addition, new regulations to encourage rental housing, single-window permits, and infrastructure status for the sector are some long-standing requests made by developers across India. We are also hopeful to see more states waive off property taxes, as seen in Maharashtra, for affordable projects under a certain size specification. The industry is also looking forward to revising the definition of affordable housing.

Another important expectation from the government is a reduction in the GST and input tax rates of construction raw materials to 5 percent (from the current 28 percent for cement, 18 percent for iron and steel, and 12 percent for kiln) or an input tax credit. These measures will give the sector a much-required breather without developers increasing property prices to sustain the rising input costs.

We also expect to see a GST waiver for under-construction projects, and are hopeful that the tax rebate on home loan interests can be extended to Rs 5 lakh (instead of the present Rs 2 lakh). The latter would ensure a stronger demand from the housing market, especially in the affordable segment.

The introduction of 5G will boost connectivity and reinvigorate the Smart Cities Mission. It will also lead to the introduction of newer businesses and services such as automated factories, smoother and faster supply chain solutions, and deeper penetration of education technology, impacting the lives of children and adults equally. This will also result in the increased demand for real estate space to set up data centres to support more digitisation. As per a Savills India report, the demand for such areas will touch 15-18 million square feet by 2025. A mechanism could be devised to ensure these services come at nominal costs so that the benefits can be accessed by a larger demographic.

This year has been declared as the International Year of Basic sciences for Sustainable Development by the United Nations. Being a sector that is heavily reliant on raw materials and resources for project completion, government-led incentives could encourage developers to invest in green projects that minimise the use of natural resources such as river sand, and encourage and subsidise the costs of alternatives such as robo sand. The government could also consider concessions for homebuyers to invest in green buildings akin to their policies while introducing electric vehicles.

In conclusion, while the government has continued to boost the real estate sector, we believe it needs to recognise real estate as an industry. This will accelerate its growth, make the sector more organised, and enable developers to avail loans at lower rates from banks and enter the priority sector.

We firmly believe the upcoming budget will give realty and its allied sectors much-needed support and encouragement. It will have a positive trickle-down effect on the entire economy — further paving the way for sustainable development across sectors, and boosting end-user consumption.

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UK consumer prices rise at fastest pace in almost 30 years

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Inflation measured by the consumer price index accelerated to 5.4% in the 12 months through December, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday.UK consumer prices rise at fastest pace in almost 30 years | Business  Standard News

Consumer prices in the United Kingdom have risen at the fastest pace in almost 30 years as higher costs for energy, transportation, food and furniture squeezed household incomes.

Inflation measured by the consumer price index accelerated to 5.4% in the 12 months through December, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday. That is the highest rate since March 1992, when inflation stood at 7.1%, and above the 5.1% seen a month earlier.

Economists warned that inflation is likely to rise further in coming months as the full impact of a recent surge in energy prices hits consumers. Gas and electricity bills for millions of households are expected to rise by 50% or more in April when a semi-annual adjustment in the energy price cap takes effect.

The government is under pressure to mitigate the jump in energy prices, with inflation now rising faster than wages. Soaring energy prices, supply chain backups and other issues led the Bank of England to raise interest rates last month for the first time in more than three years, increasing costs for borrowers, despite concern about the economic fallout from a surge in COVID-19 infections driven by the omicron variant.

What is of particular concern is that the change from November has come mainly from an increase in the price of food, said Kitty Ussher, chief economist for the Institute of Directors. Not only does this provide additional evidence that inflation is becoming endemic rather than transitory, it also bodes ill for households facing multiple rises in the cost of living this spring.

Also Read Like:- What do rising bond yields to signal to the markets?

The Bank of England, which tries to keep inflation below 2%, in December raised its benchmark interest rate to 0.25% from a record low 0.1%.

Shafiq Shabir, head of electronic trading at the broker Intertrader, said interest rates may climb to 1% by the end of this year following the eye-watering inflation figures.

Wage growth is expected to sit at 4.5% for 2022, meaning many will see their real-term incomes fall behind the increasingly tight cost of living.


What do rising bond yields to signal to the markets?

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A combination of factors including firming up of crude oil prices, risks to inflation and swifter-than-expected interest rate increases signalled by the US Federal Reserve have contributed to the hardening of bond yields.

What Do Rising Bond Yields To Signal To The Markets?

 India’s benchmark 10-year government bond yields surged to a high of 6.66 percent before easing to 6.60 percent on Wednesday, January 19.

 What has led to this spike? Factors including rising crude oil prices, risks to inflation and earlier-than-foreseen interest rate hikes signalled by the US Federal Reserve had set the stage for hardening bond yields. Logically, rising bond yields have triggered speculation that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may finally exit from its accommodative stance and start tightening interest rates.

Bond yields move in the opposite direction to prices.

Interest rates are inching up 

“G-Sec yields have firmed up and deposit rates too are slowly climbing,” said D K Joshi, chief economist at the rating agency Crisil Ltd. Joshi added that a change in rate stance is imminent, “if the Omicron (a variant of COVID-19) turns out to be a transitory affair

Remember, RBI’s monetary policy committee (MPC) has adopted a prolonged accommodative stance in view of the slow recovery of the economy from the pandemic’s impact.  It has so far ignored near-term inflationary pressures in a bid to support growth.

Yet, rising bond yields indicate interest rates will have to eventually harden, said Harihar Krishnamurthy, a market expert.

“Rate hikes may follow the market. And market rates have actually edged up anyway following global cues and the inevitable fallout of Indian inflation,” said Krishnamurthy.

A rate reversal is also possible due to the fact that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and tax collections “look very good” and the impact of Omicron seems to be mild.

“So a change in stance followed by a reverse repo rate hike and then a repo rate hike is likely,” said Krishnamurthy. The repo rate is the rate at which RBI infuses liquidity into the banking system. The reverse repo is the rate at which RBI drains liquidity.

 Inflation threat looming

Data shows inflation with an upward bias. A consistently high inflation rate can force the MPC to reverse the rate path. Already, there is a debate within the MPC on the future course of the inflation fight. One of the MPC members, Jayanth Varma, has long argued against the continuation of an accommodative stance, saying the efficacy of monetary policy in fighting the Omicron variant is limited.

India's headline retail inflation jumped to 5.59 percent in December, thanks to an unfavourable base effect. The MPC has the mandate to keep inflation within a broader target band of 2-6 percent.

The latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation print in December was 68 basis points higher than the November level of 4.91 percent, data released on January 12 by the National Statistical Office showed. It is the highest inflation has been since July 2021, when it had also come in at 5.59 percent.

Despite the sharp increase in inflation in December, the average for the last quarter of 2021, at 5.0 percent, is marginally lower than expected. RBI had forecast CPI inflation would average 5.1 percent in October-December.

What next?

The next meeting of MPC will take place in February. The MPC may not yet hike the rates, but many expect a change in the policy stance, rating agency ICRA Ltd wrote in a note.

“Following the fresh uncertainty triggered by Omicron and the associated restrictions, the rating agency expects a status quo on the stance of the Monetary Policy as well as the reverse repo rate in the upcoming meeting of the MPC to be held in February 2022, in spite of the rise in the retail inflation in December 2021,” said the note.

To be sure, not everyone shares this view. According to Moragn Stanley Research, the MPC may increase the reverse repo in February to mark the start of policy normalization.

“We expect the February policy to mark the start of policy normalization with a reverse repo rate hike to normalise the policy rate corridor,” said the Morgan Stanley note.

Omicron concerns

The impact of Omicron will be key. In the last policy, the rate-setting panel had clearly spelt out its concerns on the spread of the variant.

“India is being lashed by global spillovers. The main conduit has been financial markets so far but the channels themselves are diversifying. The biggest risk of contagion is now from the new variant. Unless a clearer picture emerges on the near-term outlook, we must take guard and resume battle readiness again,” RBI Deputy Governor Micheal Patra said, according to the Minutes of the meeting.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das too voiced concerns on the Omicron factor. “There is growing uncertainty regarding the evolving global macroeconomic outlook,” Das said.

"The emergence of the Omicron variant may cast some shadow on the momentum of contact-intensive services that were just showing signs of recovery in recent months. The threat of Omicron is also imparting additional volatility to the financial markets," Das said.

With 2,82,970 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,79,01,241, which includes 8,961 cases of the Omicron variant, according to health ministry data updated on Wednesday. Active cases have increased to 18,31,000, the highest in 232 days.

Omicron poses limited downside to Indian economy, say economists: Poll

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Asia’s third-largest economy is in the midst of a resurgence in coronavirus cases driven by the new variant that has forced most states to impose localised restrictions.

Omicron Poses Limited Downside To Indian Economy, Say Economists: Poll

There is scant downside risk to the Indian economy in the last months of this financial year from the Omicron coronavirus variant, according to economists polled by Reuters who said New Delhi should focus on fiscal prudence in its February budget.

Asia’s third-largest economy is in the midst of a resurgence in coronavirus cases driven by the new variant that has forced most states to impose localised restrictions.

The January 11-18 poll of over 45 economists forecast 5.0% economic growth this quarter, a sharp downgrade from the 6.0% given in December, finishing the year at 9.2% compared with 9.5% in the previous month’s poll.

But nearly two-thirds of those responding to an additional question, 21 of 32, said there was limited downside to the outlook for the rest of this fiscal year which ends in March.

Nine said it was at risk of downgrades, and two said it was prone to upgrades. The median growth projection for the next fiscal year was upgraded to 8.0% from 7.5% a month ago.

The current phase of restrictions is not as harsh as it was during the previous waves. So, I think Omicron and the economic damage it inflicts is a Jan-March story and will only be limited to this fiscal year," said Madhavi Arora, lead economist at Emkay Global Financial Services.

Arora reckons the first quarter of the next financial year starting in April will get an extra boost once the third wave passes, assuming it does.

The latest poll also estimated economic growth at 14.7% for the same quarter.

Inflation was expected to peak at 5.8% this quarter and then fall, remaining under the Reserve Bank of India’s 6.0% upper threshold until at least the end of fiscal 2023-24, taking pressure off the Bank for future interest rate rises.

India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the country’s 2022/2023 federal budget on February 1, providing new targets for government spending, tax receipts, economic growth and fiscal deficits.

When asked what the government should focus on, 16 of 23 respondents said fiscal prudence rather than expansion, despite pandemic-related risks.

"India and other emerging markets will have to start thinking about consolidating their COVID-19 year budget deficits in a global monetary environment where the U.S. Fed is starting to normalise policy," said Miguel Chanco, senior Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

"We are expecting quite aggressive tightening from the Fed this year and that is going to raise borrowing costs not just for India but for most EMs."

The country’s federal fiscal deficit surged to 135.1% in the April-November period of the last financial year but in the current year it narrowed to 46.2% for the same period, helped by a rise in tax collections.

The fiscal deficit target for next financial year was predicted to be 6.0%, and 5.5% for FY 2023/2024, both lower than this year’s 6.8%.

"They will be pretty conservative with spending and revenue projections," said Robert Carnell, head of Asia Pacific research at ING.

"It is really more of a revenue worry from Omicron, so I do not think you should be spending on the off-chance that Omicron is bad. Because that sort of bakes in the fact that the targets get missed at that point."

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