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India desperately needs investment: Jyotiraditya Scindia on Piyush Goyal's remarks

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Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia termed as "unfortunate" Union minister Piyush Goyal's 'Amazon not doing any favour' remarks, and said such statements would do no good to the country as it desperately needs investments to come out of the "worrisome" economic condition.

He also said that there was a need to attract foreign investment as Indian businessmen's capacity to invest has exhausted.

"An investor as well as the country where the money is invested, both get profited...I think any comment that brings down the investment is not appropriate. It is unfortunate for us," Scindia told reporters here.

"The country desperately needs investment. Countries across the globe give a red carpet reception to investors, but in our country if such a statement is made, then it won't encourage investment," he said in response to a query about Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal's statement regarding Amazon's investment into India.

"Indian businessmen's capacity to invest has exhausted. So there is a need to attract investment...Such statements won't do any good to the nation," the Congress general secretary added.

He also called for all-out efforts to accelerate the country's growth rate, to attract investment, to check inflation and to end unemployment.

"The country's condition is worrisome on these four counts right now. It seems this kind of situation did not exist in the last 25-30 years," Scindia, who was Minister of State for Commerce and Industry during the UPA-II, added.

Piyush Goyal had on Thursday said that e-commerce giant Amazon was not doing a favour to the country by investing a billion dollars and also questioned how the online retailing major could incur such "big" losses but for its predatory pricing.

He had also said that e-commerce companies have to follow Indian rules in letter and spirit and not find loopholes to make a back-door entry into multi-brand retail segment.

However, a day later, the minister had said in Ahmedabad that the country welcomes all kinds of investments that follow the "letter and spirit" of the law. He also said that some people had misconstrued his remarks by suggesting that he had said something negative about Amazon.

Petrol, diesel prices cut by around 15 paise on Jan 16

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Petrol and diesel prices across all major cities in India were cut by 15 paise and 14 paise respectively on January 16. This came after no change in fuel prices was seen on January 15.

In Delhi, petrol costs Rs 75.55 a litre while diesel is being sold at Rs 68.92 a litre. Meanwhile in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, petrol is pegged at Rs 81.14, Rs 78.49 and Rs 78.23 a litre today. Diesel in these three cities after the price cut today is at Rs 72.27, Rs 72.83 and Rs 71.29 a litre.

On January 13, the fuel prices across major Indian cities saw a drop for the second day in a row, with petrol and diesel prices being slashed by 10 paise and 5 paise respectively.

The relief comes after crude oil prices saw a drop following a further easing of the US-Iran conflict threat.

Earlier this month, the price of crude oil spiked over rising tension in the Middle East and the resultant geopolitical uncertainties.

However, Iran signalled on January 12 that it favoured de-escalation, following nearly 10 days of tension between the countries, which came after an Iranian military general was killed in an airstrike by the US.

Relief for customers as petrol, diesel prices drop for second day in a row

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Customers across major metros in India saw some respite as petrol and diesel prices fell by 10 paise and five paise, respectively, on January 13. This was the second consecutive day when fuel prices saw a drop on the back of slight easing of tensions between the United States and Iran.

Prices of petrol and diesel stood at Rs 75.80 and Rs 69.06 a litre, respectively, in Delhi. In Mumbai, the same stood at Rs 81.39 and Rs 72.42, respectively.

In Kolkata and Chennai, petrol prices fell to Rs 78.39 and Rs 78.76 a litre, respectively. Diesel prices in the two cities reduced to Rs 71.43 and Rs 72.98 a litre, respectively.

Crude oil prices saw a spike earlier this month as a result of rising tension in the Middle East, heightened geopolitical uncertainties and the recent decision to reduce oil production made by OPEC nations and their allies.

However, Iran on January 12 signalled that it favours de-escalation, following nearly 10 days of tension between the countries, which came after an Iranian military general was killed in an airstrike by the US.

Indian power ministry seeks more time for coal-fired plants to install emission cutting equipment

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India's federal power ministry has proposed a new deadline for coal-fired power plants around New Delhi to install emission cutting equipment, a government official said on Friday.

The ministry has said that the power plants - 10 out of 11 of which missed a December 2019 deadline - be given deadlines starting July 2020 and ending December 2021 to install the equipment, the government official, who did not want to be named, told Reuters.

The environment ministry will take the final call on the power ministry's proposal.

Investments in new projects jump 37% to Rs 4.26 lk cr in Dec qtr

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Investments in new projects during the December quarter have risen 37.4 percent year-on-year (YoY) to Rs 4.26 lakh crore.

In the same period in 2018, projects worth Rs 3.1 lakh crore were announced, according to data provided by project tracker Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

“This is not only the highest new investment announcements seen anytime in the past seven quarters it is also more than 50 percent higher than the average investment proposals seen over the same period,” CMIE said in a report.

CMI publishes capex data every quarter.

New projects worth Rs 1.36 lakh crore were completed during the December quarter, a slight drop from Rs 1.37 lakh crore during the same period in 2018. But, it is a sharp increase from the projects completed in the previous two quarters – 0.81 lakh crore in the June quarter and 0.79 lakh crore in the September quarter.

“The sudden spurt in completion of projects is welcome but, it does not imply a change in the overall slowdown in project completions during 2019-20,” CMIE said in the report.

CMIE estimates that 2019-20 may still see lower fresh investment proposals than the Rs 12 lakh crore reported in 2018-29.

Projects worth Rs 13,200 crore were stalled during the October-December quarter, which was the lowest in 11 years. The scenario of stalled projects being at a record low is unlikely to change soon though the estimate may be revised in future.

At the beginning of the December quarter, there were projects worth Rs 188.7 lakh crore in the pipeline, and the quarter ended with Rs 191.3 lakh crore projects in the execution and completion stages.

Coking coal import signals more slowdown in steel output

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A dip in country's steel output is set to become more prominent in the coming months with declining imports of coking coal, a key raw material for the metal production, industry analysts said.

Coking coal imports in November declined by 14.52 percent to 3.61 million tonnes (MT), against 4.22 MT in the same month last fiscal, Iman Resources said. The country's crude steel production in November was down by 2.8 percent to 8.9 MT, compared to the production figure of November 2018.

In October, India had reported a 3.4 percent fall in crude steel output at 9.089 MT as against 9.408 MT in the same month in the previous fiscal, according to a global body.

Till November, import of coking coal in the current fiscal was 44.09 MT, recording a dip of 5.11 percent over the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, when it recorded an import of 46.46 MT.

A dip in country's steel output is set to become more prominent in the coming months with declining imports of coking coal, a key raw material for the metal production, industry analysts said.

Coking coal imports in November declined by 14.52 percent to 3.61 million tonnes (MT), against 4.22 MT in the same month last fiscal, Iman Resources said. The country's crude steel production in November was down by 2.8 percent to 8.9 MT, compared to the production figure of November 2018.

In October, India had reported a 3.4 percent fall in crude steel output at 9.089 MT as against 9.408 MT in the same month in the previous fiscal, according to a global body.

Till November, import of coking coal in the current fiscal was 44.09 MT, recording a dip of 5.11 percent over the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, when it recorded an import of 46.46 MT.

245 Star Export Houses, 5,000 small exporters denied GST dues: Report

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More than 5,000 exporters and 245 Star Export Houses have not been given their Goods and Services Tax (GST) dues as a result of overreach by the taxman, the Financial Express.

This comes at a time when the country's exports have not performed all too well, with merchandise exports having contracted by 0.34 percent year-on-year (YoY) in November. In the past eight months, this was the fifth time that exports shrank.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.

According to the report, the newly-designed system aims to identify genuine claims as against those suspected to have made excessive input tax credit claims. However, the long verification process undertaken by tax officials for the same has its downsides, with some genuine refund requests being withheld.

Sources told the paper what worries the community of exporters is that trading houses, some of which even have the Star Exporter tag, have faced similar issues. This, they said, highlighted that the system of identification was not without faults.

The director general of analytics and risk management (DGARM) wrote to tax officials, the report noted, wherein he pointed out that the methods undertaken to check malpractices on the part of exporters had either been ‘blunt’ or ‘draconian’.

Star Export Houses are basically established Indian exporters that have been accorded the status based on their export performance in two out of the three preceding financial years. The status allows the exporter to enjoy certain benefits and exemptions aimed at facilitating business.

Labour ministry to build Rs 20,000cr social security fund for unorganised sector

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The labour ministry is in talks with the corporate affairs ministry to build a social security fund worth Rs 20,000 crore for unorganised workers.

The fund will be used to provide benefits to more than 80 percent of professionals from the unorganised industry that consists of around 500 million workers, the report stated. The benefits include pension, maternity, insurance and so on.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.

The central government will administer the works from the unorganised sector in the social security code, introduced earlier in the recent winter session of Parliament.

The corporate affairs ministry controls the corporate social responsibility (CSR) norms as the fund is planned to be constituted with corporate contributions. 

A government source told the newspaper that the labour ministry would press for CSR to include such contributions. 

Indian companies that have a net profit of at least Rs 5 crore, or a turnover of at least Rs 1,000 crore, or a net worth of at least Rs 500 crore, have to spend two percent of their average net profit of the preceding three years on CSR activities, as per the Companies Act.

Under CSR activities in the last four years until June, more than Rs 52,533 crore have been spent on causes like environmental sustainability, sanitation, healthcare and education. Indian companies spent the maximum amount on education (Rs 15,742 crore) followed by healthcare (more than Rs 9,093 crore).

Merry Christmas 2019

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Sharetipsinfo team wishes everyone a Merry Christmas 2019. May god bring happiness in the life of all.




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IMF says India in midst of significant economic slowdown, calls for urgent policy actions

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India is now in the midst of a significant economic slowdown, the International Monetary Fund has said, urging the government to take urgent policy actions to address the current prolonged downturn.

In its report released Monday, the IMF Directors noted that India's rapid economic expansion in recent years has lifted millions of people out of poverty. However, in the first half of 2019, a combination of factors led to subdued economic growth in India.

"The issue in India currently is the growth slowdown. We still believe it is mostly cyclical, not structural... because of the financial sector issues, we think, the recovery will be not as quickly quick as we thought earlier. That's the main issue," Ranil Salgado, Mission Chief for India in the IMF Asia and Pacific Department told PTI in an interview as it released its annual staff report on India.

With risks to the outlook tilted to the downside, the IMF Directors called for continued sound macroeconomic management. They saw an opportunity with the strong mandate of the new government to reinvigorate the reform agenda to boost inclusive and sustainable growth, the report said. The staff report was done in August when the IMF was not fully aware of India's current economic slowdown.

"India is now in the midst of a significant economic slowdown," Salgado told reporters over phone.

Growth in the second quarter of FY 2019/20 came in at a six-year low of 4.5 per cent (y/y), and the composition of growth indicates that private domestic demand expanded by only 1 per cent in the quarter. Most high-frequency indicators suggest that weak economic activity has continued into December, he said.

Salgado attributed this to the abrupt reduction in non-bank financial companies' (NBFC) credit expansion and the associated broad-based tightening of credit conditions appears to be an important factor and weak income growth, especially rural, has been affecting private consumption.

Private investment has been hindered by the financial sector difficulties (including in the public sector banks (PSBs)) and insufficient business confidence, he said. Some implementation issues with important and appropriate structural reforms, such as the nation-wide goods and services tax (GST), may also have played a role, he added.

Responding to a question, Salgado said that the new growth projections for India, which will come out in January, would be significantly lower than the previous ones.

"By other measures, India still is doing well. Reserves have risen to record level. The current account deficit has narrowed. Inflation, although we have a little jump right now because of vegetable prices, we think (it) has been under control for the last few years. So, by other measures, India is doing quite well. The issue is primarily how to address the growth slowdown," Salgado said.

Responding to a question, he said that the IMF has been surprised on India's slowdown. But he responded in negative if this slowdown can be described as an economic crisis.

"I think that would be going too far to say that. What we have seen is a growth slowdown. It may be longer than we had originally anticipated. But other elements like on the external side, on inflation, those are under controlled," he told PTI.

In the short term, he said, the most critical thing is carrying out reforms in the financial sector.

"We have, what we used to call a twin balance sheet problem being in the commercial banks and corporate sector. Now we may add additional balance sheet issue, which is on the NDFs. I'm including housing finance companies in that sector that as well.

"So the most immediate thing would be to try to have some policies related to restoring the health of this sector," he said.

Some steps have already been meaning the improvements that should be soon in place in terms of regulation of the sector, there is more information related to the sector; the steps to have a process to its resolution by including them, at least initially in the IBC process.

"On that though, we think a more comprehensive financial sector resolution plan or act as needed. There were earlier thoughts in this area by the government and we think those should be pursued again, because there are certain complications related to financial sector that don't necessarily work well in a simple kind of insolvency and bankruptcy code. It would be important to have a more comprehensive framework specifically for financial sector," the IMF official said.

Observing that early in the term is the time to push for structural reform, he said the current government in its first term carried out majority of its reforms early in the term.

"It is also true globally that it is easier to pursue structural reforms in the first half of the term," Salgado said.

From the IMF perspective, these areas are labour, land, different product market reform, continuing to enhance competition and also pursuing some of the more medium to long term reforms such as in education and health, he said.

Noting that the IMF believes that India has fiscal base at-risk, Salgado said that as a result New Delhi's ability to use a fiscal policy for stimulus is very limited.

"India already has a relatively high general government deficits and general government debt," he added.

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