Arun Jaitley chairs Pre-Budget meeting with Finance Ministers of all states and Union Territories

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday chaired the pre-budget meeting with finance ministers of all the states and Union Territories here.

In the pre-budget consultations, Jaitley will hear the state ministers expectations from the Union Budget.

The Union Budget, the last one during this tenure of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, will be presented on February 1.

The budget session will begin on January 29. The fifth budget comes just a year ahead of the 17th general election.

Sensex hits another peak of 35,476.70; Nifty at 10,887.10

Mumbai: The BSE Sensex continued its record-setting spree for a second day, scaling a new high of35,476.70 in opening trade today as banking stocks led rally on sustained foreign fund inflows. Also, the broader NSE Nifty zoomed to a new high of10,887.10. The 30-share index rallied by 394.88 points, or 1.12 percent, to hit the peak of 35,476.70, breaching its previous intra-day high of 35,118.61 hit yesterday.

Foreign investors put in Rs 625.13 crore in stocks on net basis yesterday, while domestic institutional investors bought shares worth Rs 168.61 crore, provisional data showed. All the sectoral indices, led by banking, FMCG and capital goods were trading in the positive zone with gains up to 1.92 percent. The 50-share NSE Nifty gained 98.55 points, or 0.91 percent, to trade at lifetime high of 10,887.10. The gauge had touched an intra-day high of 10,803 in yesterday’s trade. In the banking space, Yes Bank, IndusInd Bank, SBI, AxisBank, Kotak Bank, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank were prominent gainers.

Stocks of Hindustan Unilever were up by 0.81 percent toRs 1,382.95 after the company posted better-than-expected earnings yesterday. Hero MotoCorp, M&M, L&T, Dr Reddy’s, ITC Ltd, Bajaj Auto, ONGC and Sun Pharma were the other gainers during initial trade. Brokers said continued buying by foreign funds as well as retail investors after the government’s decision to slash its additional borrowing requirement for the current fiscal to Rs20,000 crore from Rs 50,000 crore, estimated earlier and encouraging Q3 earnings by some bluechip companies lifted the key indices to new highs.

Besides, a firm trend in the global markets also boosted sentiments, they said.  Among other Asian markets, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained0.41 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.46 percent in early trade today. Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.32 percent. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 1.25 percent higher in yesterday’s trade.

Government cuts borrowing target, says Rs 20,000 crore is enough

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday said it has cut the size of additional borrowing to Rs 20,000 crore of government securities during the current fiscal.  On December 27, the government had stated that it would raise additional market borrowing of Rs 50,000 crore through dated government securities in 2017-18.

“Upon a review of trends of revenue receipts and expenditure pattern, it has been assessed that additional borrowing of only Rs 20,000 crore of government securities would be adequate to meet financing needs,” an official statement from the Finance Ministry said.  “Government did not accept borrowings of Rs 15,000 crore in last three auctions. Remaining Rs 15,000 crore would be reduced from the notified borrowing programme of ensuing weeks,” it added.

Delhi government invites suggestions for excise policy for 2018-19

New Delhi: The Delhi government has sought suggestions from all stakeholders to formulate a new excise policy for the next financial year. The Excise Department has issued a public notice and asked stakeholders to submit their suggestions within 15 days. A government official said the suggestions can be submitted through email at or a hardcopy of the same can be given to the deputy commissioner’s office.

“The department has initiated the process for formulation of Excise Policy for the year 2018-19. Therefore, the stakeholders may submit their suggestions in respect of the ensuing Excise Policy to this office, within 15 days,” the department said in the notice.

Earlier this month, the Delhi Cabinet had approved excise policy for the ongoing financial year 2017-18 although it was supposed to be approved earlier. This excise policy will be effective from January next year. Under the recently introduced policy, the Aam Aadmi Party government had decided not to hike the excise duty on liquor. This was the third time the Arvind Kejriwal government did not increase the excise duty on liquor, resulting in no hike in the prices of alcohol.

RCom deal brings synergies for Jio’s biz: Morgan Stanley

New Delhi : The acquisition of wireless assets of Reliance Communications (RCom) will lower costs and bring synergies to Reliance Jio’s business but may potentially raise parent RIL’s net debt by 10-12 per cent in near term, Morgan Stanley said on Friday.

The two companies, last evening, announced a blockbuster deal under which Mukesh Ambani’s Jio said it will acquire debt-laden RCom’s wireless assets — including spectrum, tower and the optical fibre network — for a widely-estimated Rs 24,000 crore to Rs 25,000 crore.

The deal, for which a binding agreement has been signed by the two companies, is expected to be completed in a phased manner between January and March 2018. “Acquisition of RCom’s telecom infrastructure should bring synergies and lower costs while raising clarity on growth capex. The deal could potentially raise balance sheet leverage by 10-12 per cent near term,” global financial services major Morgan Stanley (MS) said in a note, reports the PTI.

On the flip side, it may “raise RIL’s net debt by about 10-12 per cent and likely be EPS (Earnings per share) dilutive by 1-3 per cent” on its FY 2019-20 estimates. Morgan Stanley noted that Reliance Industries (RIL) will save on tower rentals, being one of the largest tenants for RCom’s towers and paying Rs 1,500-1,600 crore in annual rental, as per its estimates. “RCom, during its June 7, 2013 press release on tower sharing with RIL, had highlighted Rs 120 billion (Rs 12,000 crore) as the agreement value over the lifetime of the deal,” it pointed out. Investment banking firm Jefferies, however, felt that the upside from the deal could be limited unless Reliance pays “much less than” the estimated fair value of Rs 24,000-29,000 crore. “Timing is uncertain and the deal value unknown but unless Reliance pays much less than the Rs 240-290 billion we estimate as their fair value, upside may be limited, especially as it already has access to the towers/fibre at favourable terms,” Jefferies said, terming the risk-reward as being unfavourable. It cautioned that although RCom expects the deal to conclude in first quarter of calender 2018, “it has slipped on such timelines before”. “It could yet again, with the deal contingent, among others, on approvals from the government, regulators, lenders…It may be a complex process…,” it added.

The industry has also given the deal a thumbs-up, and the COAI DG, Rajan Mathews, speaking to the PTI, said: “It is good for the industry because the industry continues to consolidate around serious players who have deep pockets and financial wherewithal to play effectively and delivery value to customers in future.”

Data breaches forced govt and firms to focus on cyber security

New Delhi : Mega cyber attacks such as “WannaCrypt” and “Petya” this year forced governments and enterprises globally, including in India, to focus and invest more on bolstering their security networks. In the first major attack of the year, the world reeled under “WannaCrypt” that locked files on computers.

Hundreds of thousands of computers were infected with the malware in May. The primary reason for this attack being successful was not the software but human error. On March 14 this year, Microsoft released a security update which addressed the vulnerability in the 16-year-old Windows XP operating system.

Once the patch for the vulnerability was released, hacker group “Shadow Brokers” exploited this loophole and wreaked havoc in 150 countries. Those who installed the update were saved, while several who did not, fell prey to the attack.

Soon after the “WanaCrypt” attack, tens of thousands of computers globally were affected by the “Adylkuzz attack” that shut down SMB networking to prevent further infections with other malware (including the WannaCrypt worm). While Europe and major parts of the world struggled with another big ransomware attack called “Petya”, India also bore the brunt. Some Indian servers were down owing to the Petya attack.

The Shipping Ministry said operations at one of the container terminals at Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) was affected by Petya. Companies like Genesis BM, a public relations firm, had to shut down systems in India after their international servers were attacked.

The month of May saw another cyber attack when a malware called “Judy” hit over 36.5 million Android-based phones, making its way through Google Play Store. In August, the “Locky” ransomware, once considered almost defunct, sent over 23 million emails with the malware to the US workforce in just 24 hours. It scrambled the contents of millions of computers and demanded payment to unlock it.

A group of hackers leaked the “Game of Thrones” script, along with 1.5TB of HBO data that included other popular TV shows. The hacking group demanded approximately $6.5 million worth of Bitcoins from HBO. A group of hackers also penetrated Equifax — one of the largest credit bureaus in the world — and stole personal data of 145 million people. Accountancy firm Deloitte was also targeted by a sophisticated hack that compromised the confidential emails and plans of some of its blue-chip clients and the attack went unnoticed for months.

In November, Yahoo admitted that it was attacked in 2013 wherein criminals had information about all three billion accounts. In another massive attack, hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies. The breach was concealed for more than a year. Most companies fall victim to cyber attackers either because of unpatched software with known vulnerabilities or because of the human factor like people falling victim to phishing emails, Finland-based cyber security firm F-Secure said. Later in the year, the enterprise cyber security company FireEye said Chinese advanced persistent threat (APT) groups that have allegedly been creating cyber havoc internationally will shift their focus in 2018 to countries like India and Hong Kong and groups seen as a threat to Beijing’s influence over global markets.

Slowly becoming aware of emerging cyber threats, organisations worldwide will spend $96.3 billion on security in 2018 — an increase of eight per cent from 2017, according to a Gartner forecast. More than 60 per cent of organisations globally will invest in multiple data security tools by 2020 — up from 35 per cent today, it added. “Cyber attacks such as WannaCry and NotPetya, and most recently the Equifax breach, have a direct effect on security spend, because these types of attacks last up to three years,” the market research firm said.

To ward off future attacks, the Indian government set up NIC-CERT centre to monitor, detect and prevent cyber attacks on government networks. NIC-CERT will work in close coordination and collaboration with sectoral CERTs and CERT-In. Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the fifth edition of the Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) in New Delhi in November that witnessed top global security experts deliberating on ways to fight cybersecurity.

Sensex creates a record at 34,087, oil stocks jump

Mumbai: The benchmark Sensex today achieved yet another record by scaling 34,087 on the back of a rally in healthcare, power and oil stocks. Oil prices surged to the highest level since mid-2015, breaching above the USD 60 a barrel, after a pipeline blast in Libya restricted Opec production. The 30-share Sensex was up 76.71 points, or 0.22 per cent, to scale a new high of 34,087.32, breaching its previous intra-day record of 34,061.88 hit yesterday.

The gauge had gained 254.33 points in the previous two sessions. The broader Nifty was however flat, up 1.75 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 10,533.25. Major movers were Sun Pharma, NTPC, ONGC and Tata Motors, gaining up to 2.88 per cent. Buying by domestic institutional investors continued ahead of December expiry tomorrow.

Asian stocks were mixed today in a holiday-shortened week. Domestic institutional investors (DIIs) purchased equities worth a net Rs 544.50 crore yesterday while foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth a net Rs 44.07 crore, provisional data showed.

Maddhyanha project’s application deadline extended to Feb 2018

New Delhi : The last date of receipt of the completed application form with requisite documents, for the Maddhyanha housing project has been extended up to 16 February 2018.

The Project is only 500 meters from the Ruby Crossing at East Kolkata Township area, Kolkata’s high profile growth centre. To consider the high demand of residences in Kolkata, KMDA has decided to allot the ready to move flats through lottery.

Priority was given on good ambience, privacy, security and quality of construction. The Project complex is situated near Rash Behari Connector. The Township is about 2 km. from Gariahat and adjacent to Ruby hospital at EM By-Pass.

Howrah Station, Esplanade, Park Street and Sealdah are about 15 to 20 minutes away from the project area and also have easy accessibility to the Airport. Super-specialty Hospital, Market, happening shopping malls, Gitanjali Stadium, reputed schools and colleges, Police Station, Fire Station are within close proximity. The site is a very serene residential area, surrounded by boundary wall with all necessary amenities available within a walking distance. The Complex has easy access to the buildings through pathways. It has facilities for 24X7 water supply, surface drains, well planned sewerage and drainage network.

GST collections declined in Nov

New Delhi : Goods and services tax (GST) collections slipped for a second straight month in November, to Rs 80,808 crore, down from over Rs 83,000 crore in the previous month, reports PTI. The total GST collection stood at Rs 80,808 crore for November and 53.06 lakh returns have been filed for the month, a finance ministry statement said.

 Of the Rs 80,808 crore collected, Rs 7,798 crore has been garnered as compensation cess in November – the fifth month of the GST roll out. Besides, Rs 13,089 crore has been collected as Central GST (CGST), Rs 18,650 crore as State GST (SGST), and Rs 41,270 crore as Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST). Furthmore, Rs 10,348 crore is being transferred from the IGST to the CGST account and Rs 14,488 crore is being transferred from the IGST to the SGST account by way of a settlement of funds on account of cross utilisation of the IGST credit for payment of CGST and SGST, respectively or due to inter-state business to consumer transactions. Thus, a total amount of Rs 24,836 crore is being transferred from the IGST to the CGST/SGST account by way of the settlement, the statement added. GST collections in July were over Rs 95,000 crore, while in August the figure was over Rs 91,000 crore. In September, it was over Rs 92,150 crore and in October it was over Rs 83,000 crore.

Rising NPA in education loan propelling banks’ stress

New Delhi: Amid the ongoing crisis caused by increasing Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) in the banking sector, default payment in education loans is adding on to this, the data released by the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) revealed.

In the educational loans segment, the default in repayment has risen to 7.67 percent of the outstanding amount at March-end, 2017 from 5.7 percent two years ago. Further, the total outstanding education loan at end of the fiscal 2016-17 was Rs 67,678.5 crore, of which Rs 5,191.72 crore could be categorised as NPA.

The data further revealed that the NPA in the aforementioned segment compared to the percentage of total loan has been constantly increasing. In 2014-15, the figures reported were 5.7 percent in 2014-15, 7.3 percent in the following fiscal and 7.67 percent in the last financial year. However, the government had earlier modified the IBA’s Model Education Loan Scheme to reduce the incidence of NPAs in the segment.

A key change made was the extension of repayment period to 15 years and the launch of credit guarantee fund scheme for education loan (CGFEL) for up to 7.5 lakh Rupees. As per the IBA data, state-owned Indian Bank accounted for the maximum education sector bad loan, amounting to Rs 671.37 crore as on March 2017, followed by the State Bank of India (SBI) (Rs 538.17 crore) and Punjab National Bank (Rs 478.03 crores).

In a bid to reduce the stress on the financial sector due to rising NPA, the government had, in October, announced an unprecedented PSU banks recapitalisation program of Rs. 2.11 lakh crore, out of which Rs. 1.35 lakh crore will come from recap bonds, and rest from markets and budgetary support.

“To improve the lending capacity of the banks, we have announced the recapitalisation programme, which is essential to increase public spending on infrastructure, and that expenditure on infrastructure,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at a press conference in the national capital. Adding to this, he said there is a need to increase public investment, for which, bold steps will be taken by the government to recapitalise banks in the country.

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