Bhatt takes on RBI, says it never understood SBI teaser loans

Reiterating the RBI's stance that SBI's special home loans are similar to the sub-prime loans lent in the US in the run-up to the 2008 global financial meltdown, SBI chief OP Bhatt said this view is beyond logic

Mumbai: Outgoing State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Om Prakash Bhatt continued his defiance of the central bank on the teaser loan front saying "the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) never understood our special home loan product," reports PTI.

"Obviously, they (RBI) have not understood our product (the special home loan product)," Mr Bhatt, who is superannuating tomorrow from SBI after a five-year stint as chairman and a four-decade-old association, told reporters at the bank headquarters here today.

Reiterating the RBI's stance that SBI's special home loans are similar to the sub-prime loans lent in the US in the run-up to the 2008 global financial meltdown, Mr Bhatt said this view is beyond logic as his offering is sold to those who are "absolutely credit-worthy."

However, he was quick to add that this is not a defiant stance with regard to the regulator but this is the view-point of a bank that is the industry leader with a quarter of the entire banking business under its fold.

"Being the industry thought-leader and market leader, it is the duty of SBI to articulate our views to the regulator.

This has to be done in the interest of intellectual honesty and public discourse," he said.

However, Mr Bhatt was quick to add that "but if they still insist that this cannot be continued and is against its norms, then we will comply... That does not mean that we don't have a view-point on this? Also, I would like to place it on record that so far, all through the five years of my tenure as the chairman, SBI has been 100% compliant with all the RBI regulations."

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ASSOCHAM forecast of wine industry growth exaggerated, says wine expert

The industry body has estimated a growth of 35% by 2012 which has been contested as based on conflicting and unrealistic figures

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has forecast that the wine industry is likely to grow at around 35% by 2012, but industry experts think this expectation is exaggerated and is based on wrong figures for the past couple of years.

Subhash Arora, a wine expert who also runs the Indian Wine Academy, told Moneylife, "The ASSOCHAM report is nothing but a conflicting, confusing and confounding report." He said, "The figures are conflicting with unrealistic and unlikely growth rate projection with a very pessimistic estimate for 2008."

The ASSOCHAM report, titled "Emerging Industry trends in Indian Wine Market", states that the Indian wine market (in value terms) stood at Rs800 crore as of 2008 and is likely to touch the Rs2,700 crore mark by the end of 2012. It also says that wine consumption in India is likely to reach around 14.7 million litres (in volume terms) by the end of 2012, from around 4.6 million litres in 2008, thus registering a growth of 35%.

Mr Arora, writes on his website Delwine: "There seems to be a basic lacuna in the figures. Whatever the figures for 2008 that have been assumed, 2009 was a disaster and 2010 barely reached the level of 2009. The current year has shown buoyancy and 30-35% annual increase is most likely in 2011 and 2012. But if the figures of 2010 are assumed to be close to 2008, it would be far-fetched to expect an almost three and a half times growth during the next two years."

"The report on sales value also does not clarify whether the figures are first point sales by the producers and importers and whether they include customs duty, excise duty, VAT and other government taxes, or (whether) they are estimates based simply on the MRP of wine sold, or are ex-factory prices," Mr Arora explains.

According to the ASSOCHAM report, "around 65% of the total volume of wine consumed in India is produced locally in states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and the Punjab, as these regions are booming with a number of wineries." But Mr Arora points out that "the study fails to name Goa, which produces over 200,000 cases (1.8 million litres) of low-end fortified wine, a majority of which is consumed within Goa."

DS Rawal, general secretary of ASSOCHAM, while releasing the report said, "Favourable government policies, suitable tax structures, rising disposable income and a growth in the tourism sector are certain reasons for the burgeoning Indian wine market. Besides, the rapidly changing lifestyle and drinking habits of people (many from the middle and higher middle classes no longer prefer hard drinks) especially the younger lot, are paving the way for growth of the wine industry.

Mr Arora, who only prefers wine over anything else, jokingly says, "It is the most profound statement that people from the middle and higher middle classes no longer prefer hard drinks. If that is the case, we would be consuming over 50 million cases, not litres, annually. Such a category of people is very minuscule, though it has added to the growth of the wine industry. But to say such a thing is a purely wishful statement and a distant dream."

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TRAI to float paper on mobile value-added services in April

In January this year, the telecom regulator had sought views of mobile operators on growth opportunities in value-added services, including policy framework and support infrastructure to usher in inclusive growth

New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today said it will bring out a consultation paper on mobile value-added services (MVAS) next month and will give its recommendations by the end of June, reports PTI.

“TRAI will come out with a consultation paper on MVAS in April and by the end of June, TRAI will give recommendations on value-added services,” TRAI chairman JS Sarma said at a FICCI event here.

In January this year, the telecom regulator had sought views of mobile operators on growth opportunities in value-added services, including policy framework and support infrastructure to usher in inclusive growth.

TRAI, in association with industry body Assocham, had also released a study paper, titled ‘Mobile Value-Added Services (MVAS)—A vehicle to usher in inclusive growth and bridge the digital divide’ on which TRAI had sought comments from various service operators in February this year.

Besides, Mr Sarma said the recommendations on equipment manufacturing policy will be out by the end of this week.

TRAI had in January this year floated a consultation paper on the telecom infrastructure policy, and which after taking in stakeholders’ views, closed on 21st February.

The authority had started the process for coming up with recommendations on encouraging telecom equipment manufacturing in the country from 6 May 2010.

Mr Sarma added that the recommendations on ‘green telecom’ will come out next week. The recommendations will deliberate on ways to check carbon emissions, promote energy-efficient technologies and manage e-waste in view of rapid growth in the sector.
 

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