FM to meet chiefs of public sector banks on Saturday

New Delhi: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will meet chiefs of public sector banks here tomorrow, at a time when industrial growth has decelerated to a 13-month low of 7.1% and interest rates have moved northward, reports PTI.

The finance minister will also take stock of the financial performance of the banks and their projections for the current year, sources said.

At the same time, the meeting is expected to discuss the impact of rising benchmark prime lending rates (BPLRs), which will affect auto, home and education loan costs for existing borrowers.

Lenders like Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Corporation Bank and IDBI have hiked BPLRs following the RBI move to raise key short-term borrowing and lending rate by 50 and 25 basis points, respectively.

Since July, the system of BPLR has been replaced by a base rate, which is a floor for lending rates. However, existing customers are linked to BPLR unless they decide to switch over to the base rate system.

Mr Mukherjee will also dwell upon credit flow to productive sectors as well as to priority sector, sources said.

The meeting takes place at a time when most of state-owned banks have announced their first quarter results.

The agenda of the meeting also includes review of credit growth, including to the agriculture and infrastructure sectors, sources said.

Among others, capital adequacy over the medium-term and housing and education loans would also be taken up in the meeting, sources said, adding that even the capital infusion by the government to banks could be discussed.

One of the key points of discussion in the meeting would be financial inclusion to provide appropriate banking facilities to habitations having a population above 2,000 by March, 2012.

It is to be noted that the finance minister had a meeting with bankers and chief ministers of four regions. The fourth and last in the series of regional meetings held by Mr Mukherjee was on 20th July.


RCom posts consolidated net of Rs250.89 crore in June quarter

Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (AGAG)-led telecom services company Reliance Communications (RCom) has posted a consolidated net profit after adjustment of minority interest and associates of Rs250.89 crore in the quarter ended 30 June, 2010, as compared to Rs1,636.61 crore in the year-ago period, down a huge 84.67%.

Total consolidated income for the quarter in review was Rs5,109.20 crore, down from Rs6,145.18 crore, a fall of 16.85% year-on-year.

On a standalone basis, RCom posted a net loss of Rs490.81 crore in the reporting quarter against a net profit of Rs370 crore in the corresponding previous period. Total income stood at Rs3185.91 crore over Rs 3197.07 crore a year earlier, down 0.35% on a yearly basis.


US move to hike visa fee 'discriminatory': Nasscom

New Delhi: The National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) today said the US Border Security Bill, which has been passed by the Senate, has logical flaws and is discriminatory in nature, reports PTI.

"From India's perspective, I think it has been done ahead of November Congressional elections. It is based on flawed logic and is discriminatory in nature. But it did clarify that it is not targeting any particular nation...

"It (this Bill) shows the fact that Indian IT industry is posing significant competition to the US companies," Nasscom president Som Mittal said in a media conference call.

The Bill seeks to increase application fee for H-1B and L visas by at least $2,000 for the next five years. The move is aimed at raising funds for the $600 million spending plan to boost security at the porous US-Mexico border.

The US president, Barack Obama, will sign the bill into law today.

The fee hike would help in mopping up about $550 million of the total amount. Further, the increase would be applicable only for companies with more than 50 employees and for whom the majority of their workforce are visa-holding foreign workers.

"We are in talks with the US authorities to make separate visa categories for the services sector," Mr Mittal added.

Indian software firms, including IT biggies like TCS, Infosys, Wipro and others, avail H-1B and L-1 visas to fly their employees to the US for working at their clients' locations as on-site engineers.

The $50-billion Indian IT export industry earns over 50% of its revenue from the US market.

When asked about the immediate impact of the Bill on Indian IT companies, Mr Mittal said that these entities would have to change their business models.

"The US is our largest IT market and will remain our largest market. The US trade bodies are very supportive. In terms of revenues, there would be no huge impact," Mr Mittal noted.

IT companies from countries such as China and the Philippines would also be impacted by the Bill.

As per Nasscom's estimates, Indian companies (mostly IT) apply for 50,000 visas every year, including H-1B and L1 visas, besides renewal of old visas.


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