“There may be a need to relook at the sectoral caps (especially in insurance) and restrictions on FDI flows (especially in multi-brand retail),” RBI said in a study
New Delhi: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said there is a case for hiking foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in insurance and some other sectors in view of India's growing integration with the global economy, if local economic and political scenario permits, reports PTI.
“... as the economy integrates further with the global economy and domestic economic and political conditions permit, there may be a need to relook at the sectoral caps (especially in insurance) and restrictions on FDI flows (especially in multi-brand retail),” RBI has said in a study, released earlier this month, on FDI flows to India.
The study said there are certain sectors, including agriculture, where FDI is not allowed, while sectoral caps in some sectors such as insurance and media are relatively low compared to the global patterns.
“In this context, it may be noted that the caps and restrictions are based on domestic considerations and there is no uniform standards that fits all countries,” it added.
RBI said the demands for raising the present FDI limits of 26% in the insurance sector may be reviewed taking into account the changing demographic patterns as well as the role of insurance companies in supplying the required long term finance in the economy.
Commenting on the need for a higher FDI limit in the insurance sector, Monish Shah, senior director of consultancy giant Deloitte in India, told PTI that insurance is a high gestation, capital intensive business and the sector needs fresh capital to fund its existing businesses and expansion.
“Increased capital will benefit the industry as a whole by increasing the insurance access and penetration in the country. Increase in FDI in insurance from a strategic minority to a dominant minority is one of the reforms which are being eagerly awaited by several industry players; as despite the slowdown, Indian insurance sector remains attractive in the long term,” he added.
Noting that life insurance industry is long-term in nature and requires years of capital infusion, MetLife India’s managing director and country manager Rajesh Relan said: “Capital infusion through FDI will help grow the industry by increasing customer coverage with a range of innovate products that are clearly focused on today’s uninsured.”
He further said that growth of insurance sector would also help in developing other sectors and providing capital to the government for long-term infrastructure projects.
The RBI study found that sectoral cap was higher than India even in China for insurance and a few other sectors, while countries like Brazil and Russia have higher sectoral caps than India across most of the sectors.
A Moneylife research compares three banks and finds out that HDFC Bank has come out at the top while Axis Bank has more work to do to get ahead of its key rivals
A comparison between Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank shows that Axis Bank leaves a lot to be desired while HDFC Bank has trumped both Axis Bank and ICICI Bank. The table below shows the comparison of the three banks, using key parameters. The green bars indicate the best in that category, while red indicates the opposite.
Axis Bank’s loan growth was slower than HDFC Bank, at 19% growth (Rs1,69,760 crore). ICICI Bank recorded the slowest credit growth, clocking only an increase of 17% (total advances at Rs2,53,728 crore) partly because it has the largest advances portfolio. From the table above we see that HDFC Bank is the healthiest of the lot, topping in three out of five categories, while Axis Bank was worse in four out of five categories.
HDFC on the other hand recorded the highest Current Account-Savings Account (CASA) ratio (48.4%) indicating that it continues to find ways to access low cost funds to ramp up its growth. Due to higher CASA ratio and a robust 22% increase in advances, it had consolidated net profit of Rs5247, which is higher by 31.4% over last year. It also had a higher net interest margin (for the March 2012 quarter) of 4.2%, compared with 3.55% and 3.01% for Axis Bank and ICICI Bank, respectively. Net interest margin is the difference between interest earned and interest expended and is considered a key measure of a bank’s profitability. Only ICICI had highest net profit (Rs7,643 crore) than the other two, but it came at an expense of higher bad debts.
ICICI Bank had the highest Net Non-Performing Assets (NNPA) of 0.62% compared with just 0.25% and 0.20% for Axis Bank and HDFC Bank, respectively. Despite this, its Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) was a healthy 18.52%, compared to a measly 13.66% for Axis Bank and 16.5% for HDFC Bank.
It is interesting to note that Axis Bank’s bottomline was boosted by a 153% rise in trading profits, signifying increased risk taken to earn profits. Indeed, despite this, Axis’ profits would have stagnated but for a 10% decline in provisions, from Rs1,280 crore to Rs1,143 crore which helped the bank’s bottomline. However, fees—the jam for a bank—has increased by 25% year-on-year, to Rs4,727 crore. On the other hand, ICICI Bank’s fee income had declined from Rs6,707 crore in FY10-11 to Rs6,419 crore in FY12, a decline of over 4%. While HDFC Bank’s fees are not known from the latest filings, its “non-interest” (or “other income”) income stood at Rs5,243 crore, up 21% year-on-year.
Axis Bank restructured loans on its books stood at Rs3,060 crore, much of it from large and mid-sized companies (79% of restructured assets). It also provided for higher provision coverage ratio of 80.91%, higher than ICICI (80.4%), but lower than HDFC Bank (82.4%). ICICI Bank’s net restructured assets stood at Rs4,256 crore which is higher than Axis Bank thanks to its larger base. In HDFC Bank’s case, the quantum of restructured assets stood at 0.4% of the gross advances.
The banking industry is perceived to be going through difficult times due to low credit off-take in face of high interest rates and inflation. However, this perception could be incorrect given the extremely robust performance of HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank. The message from Axis’ performance is less clear since it is undergoing a transformation under the current CEO.
The mutual agreement will enable India to get information even if they have only limited details regarding the person having bank accounts in Switzerland
New Delhi: In a development that will boost the fight against black money menace, Switzerland has agreed to provide details of secret bank accounts of individuals sought by India even on the basis of limited information, reports PTI.
Under a mutual agreement reached on 20th April between the two countries, Switzerland has agreed to give liberal interpretation to the provisions concerning identities of Indian citizens.
"... it is sufficient if the requesting state identifies the person by other means than by indicating the name and address of the person concerned, and indicates to the extent known, the name and address of any person believed to be in possession of the requested information," a Finance Ministry release said on Monday.
Under the existing bilateral treaty, the requesting country has to compulsorily provide the name of the person under examination and the name of the foreign holder of the information. These are part of the identity requirements without which the information would not be shared by the other country.
"This was a restrictive provision and not in line with the international standards," the release said.
The agreement was signed under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between the two countries.
"This agreement is beneficial to India because it gives liberal interpretation to the identity requirements for exchange of information which India will be seeking from Switzerland and is in line with international standards," the release said.
The pact would allow liberal interpretation of Article 26, concerning exchange of information.
"The conditions as clarified by Switzerland, will enable India to get information even if we have only limited details regarding the person having bank accounts in Switzerland," the release said.
India had inked the pact with Switzerland to revise their bilateral taxation treaty in August 2010. The revised treaty was approved by Swiss Parliament on 17th June last year.
The new agreement was signed by Sanjay Kumar Mishra Joint Secretary (Foreign Tax & Tax Research division), Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Juerg Giraudi, Head of Division of International Tax Affairs, Swiss Federal Department of Finance.
The Cabinet had earlier approved the mutual pact on 23rd March. "... this mutual agreement will apply from the date on which the amending Protocol which was signed on 30 August 2010, has come into effect 1 April 2011," the release said.
As per data from the Swiss National Bank, the total deposits of Indian individuals and companies in Swiss banks stood at about $2.5 billion at the end of 2010.