RBI policy: Bankers say home, auto loans to cost more

Most say banks may not touch rates for now and that any revision will take place only in the new financial year

Home, auto and corporate loans are likely to become more expensive in the next fiscal, following the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) decision to raise key policy rates by 25 basis points, bankers said today.

"The rate hike is on expected lines and the direction which the policy gives is towards more hardening," Bank of Baroda chairman and managing director MD Mallya told PTI.

Indian Overseas Bank chairman and managing director M Narendra said the RBI monetary tightening action would not translate into interest rate revision immediately. "I think rates would remain stable during this month. Beyond March it would depend on various factors like the call money rates," Mr Narendra said.

The RBI today hiked its key short-term lending and borrowing rates by 25 basis points (0.25%) each, with immediate effect, to tackle inflation. This is the eighth time that the bank has raised rates since March 2010 with an aim to tame inflation. The short-term lending (repo) rate now stands at 6.75% and the borrowing (reverse repo) rate at 5.75%.

Reacting to the policy decision, United Bank of India chairman and managing director Bhaskar Sen said, "There is a possibility (of a hike in interest rates) definitely. It will increase our funding costs also."

HDFC Bank, head treasurer Ashish Parthasarthy said there was "almost a consensus" about such an action and the market had factored in the hike.
Union Bank of India executive director SC Kalia also said the hike was along expected lines, but that this might not result in a hike in loan rates before the end of the month.

Punjab & Sind Bank executive director PK Anand also felt that banks were unlikely to tinker with rates before 31st March, and that any revision would happen only in April, after the beginning of the new financial year.

Yes Bank chief financial officer Rajat Monga said that bank deposit rates, which react first, were already very high and should not see a spike in the near future. However, there is "pent-up" pressure on lending rates and banks would revise this upwards starting April, he said.

Bank of Baroda chief economist Rupa Rege-Nitsure felt the central bank has taken a "hawkish" stance and believed that there would be more tightening in the next financial year. She said that there is a lot in the phrase 'calibrated rate hikes' that the RBI used in its policy statement.


NPPA revises prices of drugs: 62 medicines to cost more, 14 will be cheaper

Drugs for diabetes costlier by 5%-18%, some bulk drugs to cost more too, those for TB only marginally costlier, but medicines for asthma and hypertension will be cheaper

New Delhi: Prices of 62 drugs, mainly used for treating diabetes and tuberculosis, have been raised, while the rates of 14 other medicines have been reduced by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA). But the drug pricing regulator has left the prices of 21 drugs unchanged after a fresh review of the pricing of key medicines at its meeting last week.

PTI reports that the NPPA, which considered the rates of 19 drugs for the first time, reviewed the prices of drugs used in the treatment of diabetes, allergy, malaria, diarrhoea, asthma and hypertension as well as some antiseptics.

"We have to do a balancing act and provide a level playing field to the indigenous manufacturers who account for nearly 10% of the total domestic market for insulin," NPPA chairman SM Jharwal said.

He said that despite the increase in prices of insulin-based medicines, drugs for treatment of diabetes manufactured by two domestic firms, Biocon and Wockhardt, would still remain affordable. "Although the prices of indigenously manufactured insulin-based formulations have been increased in the range of 5%- 18%, they would still be lower by nearly 15% than the formulations based on the imported bulk insulin drug," Mr Jharwal said.

On the decision to increase prices, NPPA said raw material cost and revision in the norms of conversion cost, packing charges and pricing of packaging materials as notified on 16 December 2010 necessitated the move. Among the companies that would be affected by the price revision are Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Novartis, Sanofi Aventis, GSK, Biocon, Wockhardt, Lupin and Cipla.

The NPPA also revised the prices of four bulk drugs, following which diuretic spironolactone and salbutamol sulphate will be cheaper by 2.5% and 18.87%, respectively. According to it, the bulk drug pyrantel pamoate (used in formulations of de-worming medicines) and anti-allergic pheniramine maleate will be costlier by 8.12% and 13.87%, respectively.

The reduction in prices of formulation drugs has been in the range of 2.47% to 35.04% from the prices claimed by the respective companies.

There is no significant increase in the price of 25 anti-tuberculosis drugs, while sulphadoxine plus pyrimethamine tablets will cost more due to an upward revision in the import price of bulk drugs used for malaria. The prices of certain drugs used for asthma and hypertension have been reduced.

The NPPA was established on 29 August 1997 as an independent body of experts to fix and revise drug prices, both for bulk drugs and formulations, and to ensure their availability.


IDBI Mutual Fund floats Short Term Bond Fund

IDBI Mutual Fund new issue closes on 22nd March

IDBI Mutual Fund has launched IDBI Short Term Bond Fund, an open-ended income scheme.

The objective of the scheme will be to provide investors with regular income for their investment. The scheme will endeavour to achieve this objective through an allocation of the investment corpus in a diversified portfolio of debt and money market instruments.

The new issue closes on 22nd March. The minimum investment amount is Rs5,000.

CRISIL Short Term Bond Fund Index is the benchmark index. Gautam Kaul is the fund manager.


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