Mutual Funds
LIC Nomura MF to launch RGESS on 11th February

LIC Nomura Mutual Fund would launch Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme on 11 February 2013

Mumbai: LIC Nomura Mutual Fund has received approval from the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to launch Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS) and will launch it on 11th February, reports PTI.


"We are launching the Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS) on 11th February and will be open till 25th February," its Chief Executive and Director Nilesh Sathe said in a release.


RGESS, announced in the last Budget, seeks to provide tax benefits to first-time investors in the stock market.


Under the scheme, an individual with an income of up to Rs10 lakh would get tax incentives for investing up to Rs50,000.


Loans to get cheaper; SBI, HDFC Bank and Federal Bank cut lending rates

While SBI has cut its lending rate by a marginal 0.05% (5 basis points), HDFC Bank and Federal Bank announced reduction in a few segments like auto loans to the tune of 0.25%-0.50%

Mumbai: Auto, home and corporate loans will become cheaper with banks, led by market leader State Bank of India (SBI), lowering the lending rates by up to 0.50% in response to the easy money policy of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), reports PTI.


While SBI has reduced the lending rate by a marginal 0.05% (5 basis points), private sector HDFC Bank and Federal Bank announced reduction in a few segments like auto loans to the tune of 0.25%-0.50%.


Public sector IDBI Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) had reduced lending rates by 0.25% and 0.75% respectively on Tuesday.


The lowering of the interest rates follows the decision of the RBI to cut key benchmark lending (repo) rate by 0.25% and deciding to inject additional liquidity of Rs18,000 crore by a similar cut in cash reserve ratio (CRR).


With the reduction, SBI's base rate or the minimum lending rate will now go down to 9.70% from 9.75% effective 4th February.


"Through this reduction, we are passing on a little more than what we gain through the rate cut by the RBI," a senior SBI official said after a meeting of the asset liability committee (ALCO) of the bank.


HDFC Bank has lowered interest rate on car and two-wheeler loans by 0.25% and 0.5% respectively.


On commercial vehicles, the interest rates would be reduced by 0.25%, an official said adding that the new rates would be effective from 1st February.


Mumbai-based HDFC Bank currently offers car loans between 10.75% and 11.75%. Post rate cut, the range would be 10.5%-11.5% for repayment period between 36 and 60 months.


Accordingly, interest rate on two-wheeler loans would be adjusted to between 19.25% to 22.25%.


With regard to commercial vehicles, the rate on heavy commercial vehicle will be down by 0.25% to 11% while rate for light commercial vehicle will get reduced to 13.75% from existing 14%.


The auto loan portfolio of the bank currently stands at about Rs33,000 crore. The auto loan advances of the bank have been witnessing a growth of 12%.


IDBI Bank has already lowered its base rate by 0.25% to 10.25% effective 1st February.


SBI, which has the most aggressive offering among the domestic banks, had last cut its base rate by 0.25% last September following the two CRR cuts by RBI earlier.


The largest bank, has however, not cut its deposits rates as the bank’s asset liability committee felt its offering is among the lowest in the market at present, the official said.


"We are gaining around Rs275 crore and passing around Rs350 crore...this will have a very negligible impact on our margins," the SBI official said, adding the outstanding loans under the old benchmark prime lending rate will also go down by a similar 0.05%.


A majority of bankers said they would transmit the benefits of the RBI rate cut.


Last month, HDFC Bank had reduced its base rate by 0.1% to 9.7%, the lowest in the market.


At the same time, the benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) of the bank was also slashed by a similar margin to 18.20%.


Obama’s flip-flops on money in politics: A brief history

Critics say the president's plan for a new nonprofit group to push his second-term agenda opens the door to influence by corporations and other big donors

When President Obama told supporters that he would morph his campaign into a new non-profit that would accept unlimited corporate donations, the announcement set off a familiar round of griping from campaign finance reformers.


The creation this month of Organizing for Action, which will promote the president’s second-term agenda, appears to be the fourth reversal by Obama on major money-in-politics issues since 2008.

“No big bank or corporation will donate million-dollar checks to OFA without the expectation that it will impact which issues they engage on, and that’s very troubling,” said Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.


The Washington Post noted that in reorganizing his campaign as a tax-exempt social welfare group, the president is embracing a structure that has been criticized for allowing anonymous money into politics.

Conservatives who’ve been attacked by the Obama camp for their reliance on such “dark money” groups called out the president’s “brazen hypocrisy.” Neither the White House nor Organizing for America responded to requests for comment.


Here’s a brief history of Obama’s other shifts on money-in-politics issues going back to 2008:

  • Public financing

In November 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama pledged to take part in the presidential public financing system for the general election, calling himself “a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns.” Under the system, created in the wake of Watergate, a candidate receives taxpayer money ($84 million in 2008) and cannot accept most private donations or spend beyond the amount of the government grant.


Less than a year later, in June 2008, Obama reversed himself and announced he was opting out of the system. He maintained he still supported the system in principle but said it should be reformed.


Obama became the first candidate to decline general election public financing since the creation of the system and went on to raise a then-record $745 million for the cycle. He outspent John McCain, who did accept public money, by four-to-one. Obama’s 2008 decision generally takes at least some of the blame from campaign finance observers for killing the system.


Neither Obama nor Mitt Romney accepted public financing in the 2012 race. The Obama campaign raised $782 million for the cycle.


  • Super PACs

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 2010 Citizens United decision, opening the way for the creation of super PACs financed with unlimited corporate or individual money, Obama became the ruling’s biggest critic.

“Last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said in his State of the Union address a few days after the decision. “I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”


That criticism turned into a pledge not to use the new funding vehicles. In July 2011, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told the Washington Post: “Neither the president nor his campaign staff or aides will fundraise for super PACs. Our campaign will continue to lead the way when it comes to transparency and reform.”


Seven months later, the campaign reversed itself and embraced a super PAC founded by former White House aides called Priorities USA Action. “[O]ur campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands,” wrote campaign manager Jim Messina in a blog post.


With the blessing of the campaign, top Obama aides, such as then-Chief of Staff Jack Lew and confidantes like Rahm Emanuel, were dispatched to solicit super PAC donations from Democratic millionaires and billionaires. Priorities USA ultimately spent more than $60 million to help re-elect the president.


  • Inaugural festivities funding

After Obama’s victory in 2008, his inaugural committee abided by what it called “an unprecedented set of limitations on fundraising as part of President-elect Obama’s pledge to put the country on a new path.” That meant taking no corporate money and no individual contributions in excess of $50,000 to pay for the myriad parties and balls that end up costing tens of millions of dollars.


The second time around, Obama reversed the policy. The inaugural committee organizing this month’s inaugural festivities accepted corporate money and imposed no limits on giving. A spokesperson cited the need to “meet the fund-raising requirements for this civic event after the most expensive presidential campaign in history.”


  • Unlimited special interest spending

Just a few months ago, the Obama campaign sent me a memo on the president’s campaign finance record, highlighting his repeated denunciations of special interest money in politics.


“That’s one of the reasons I ran for President: because I believe so strongly that the voices of ordinary Americans were being drowned out by the clamor of a privileged few in Washington,” he said in May 2010, decrying the way Citizens United “gives corporations and other special interests the power to spend unlimited amounts of money — literally millions of dollars — to affect elections throughout our country.”


In 2012, the Obama campaign specifically called out social welfare, or 501(c)(4),  groups that spent hundreds of millions of dollars of anonymous money on political ads.


That’s why campaign finance reformers are so angry: Organizing for Action is a 501(c)(4) that will advocate for the president’s second-term agenda.

The group has said that despite its status, it will voluntarily disclose donors. But it’s not clear whether that will involve full, prompt disclosure of who is giving and how much, or simply providing a list of names at some point.

A spokeswoman for the new group told NBC this week the disclosure issue is “still being worked out.”

Unnamed Democratic officials have told media outlets that the group will take corporate money (though not donations from registered lobbyists). Indeed, at a meeting this month at the Newseum in Washington, Obama campaign aides pitched top Democratic donors, reported Politico, which obtained a ticket to the event.


The meeting was sponsored by a trade association founded by Fortune 100 companies, including UnitedHealthcare, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and Duke Energy.


Social welfare groups are formed to promote the common good and may be involved in politics. Under IRS rules, they are not supposed to be primarily engaged in campaigns.


It’s unclear whether Organizing for Action will get involved in electoral politics as other such nonprofits have in recent years. The group’s spokeswoman told NBC it will run “issue” ads to support Obama’s agenda — but that’s a category of political advocacy that has been open to wide interpretation.




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