Retail loan customers will receive balance statement once in a year
 
If the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has its way, then retail loan customers of banks will soon be quoted a single, all-inclusive interest rate with no hidden charges or fees. This will allow them to work out their exact cost of borrowing and also allows for easy comparison across offerings by other banks and institutions. This is part of RBI Deputy Governor Dr K C Chakrabarty’s effort to bring transparency to the working of commercial banks. 
 
“Customers should get statements once in a year with all inclusive cost or annual effective rate (AER) which will cover interest rate comprising various elements of costing such as cost of funds, legal fees, inspection charges, switch-over fee, etc,” said Dr Chakrabarty, speaking to bankers recently. He wants to make the rules stringent and transparent for most of the services delivered by banks.
 
RBI has been receiving complaints about the unfairness of home loan rates, wherein most banks are reluctant to reduce interest rates for existing borrowers while new customers are offered lower rates. Dr Chakrabarty wants all existing customers to enjoy the current rate of interest and has asked RBI nodal officers to take up the issue with the head offices of various financial institutions. At the same Bhopal conference, he said, “When the cost of fund at a point of time reflects the floating rate offered at that time, how can it be different for different for two sets of borrowers?”
 
Speaking to Moneylife, Dr Chakrabarty said that many issues relating to retail lending happen because bankers are confused about who is the retail borrower. He says, “Ask 10 bank chairmen and each will define the retail borrower differently.” His own definition is very precise; he says, “banking for the individual, that is, for non-entrepreneurial activity is retail lending,” it has nothing to do with size. For instance a farmer is a small borrower, but he should not be confused with a retail borrower, because he is an entrepreneur. On the other hand credit cards, mortgage, auto loans are all retail loans and in all these cases, the recovery will not be from the asset that is created but from some other source of income. Once the definition is clear the next step is to ensure that pricing is transparent and non-discriminatory. Unfortunately this has not happened as yet.
 
Another area of concern for Dr Chakrabarty is to take banking to the masses. He points out that even today, 60% of the population does not have access to a bank account and he is more concerned about extending the reach of banking to these segments.
 
Speaking on the issue, a financial sector source told Moneylife, “We mostly receive complaints from existing customers since they cannot enjoy the benefit of the current reduced interest rate. But we also cannot pass on the benefit to the customers free of cost. That is because the interest on floating rates depends on the rate at which the institution is borrowing from the market. If the institution is borrowing at a lower rate, it will pass the benefit to the customers, if not, customers get angry. RBI is looking into the issue and trying to find a solution.”
 
Banks have also been asked to hasten the process of re-crediting customer accounts in case of a wrong debit. There are times when faulty ATMs do not allow customers to withdraw cash although it is debited from their accounts. Banks take as much as 12 days to re-credit the money when it ought to take only three working days now that most banks now have adopted core banking solutions (CBS) that allow money to be transferred within minutes from one account to another. 
 
 

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Future Brand plans big FMCG thrust
Future Brands, the fully owned subsidiary of the Pantaloon group, is looking at a growth of 60% in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector in FY 09-FY 10 by adding private brands to its portfolio.
 
“We will be looking at expanding our private label category by partly extending existing brands or coming up with new brands. Every year we at least add two-four brands of significant size and even this year we have similar plans,” said Santosh Desai, CEO, Future Brands. 
 
Future Brands has approximately 18 labels, such as  John Miller (apparel), Bare jeans, Buffalo (denim brands), Tasty Treat(snacks), Premium Harvest, Fresh & Pure, Care Mate and Clean Mate (food and home care segment), Dreamline (home segment) and Koryo (consumer durables), which contribute about 10%-15% of the group’s retail sales.
 
“We already have 18 brands across various categories which are our own brands that we manage under the Future Group,” said Desai.
 
He also informed that Future Brands is looking at the FMCG sector in a serious way for expansion. Besides FMCG, the company will also come up with private products in sports and sportswear and the home segment.

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Restructuring to drive growth in Indian logistics says CRISIL
The proposed implementation of the Goods and Services tax (GST) and development of logistics parks, coupled with strong economic growth are expected to restructure the industry, bringing in greater efficiency and drive growth for the logistics business, said ratings agency CRISIL.
 
"The Indian logistics industry, valued at Rs3.6 trillion, is poised for strong growth in the next five years with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 11%. A well-developed and networked logistics industry is imperative for the success and overall growth of the economy. Strong growth in economic fundamentals, favourable regulatory environment and greater thrust on logistics infrastructure development would be the key factors driving logistics growth," said Manoj Mohta, Head, CRISIL Research.
 
According to a report, CRISIL Research estimates total logistics spend covering both primary and secondary movement to be around 10.7% of the GDP in 2008-09, significantly higher than the 5% to 7% across developed nations. The higher spend is largely due to inefficient logistics operations, multiple tax structures, inadequate logistics infrastructure and unorganised nature of the industry, the report said.
 
CRISIL said the proposed implementation of GST and development of logistics parks and free trade warehousing zones (FTWZs) will accelerate formation of regional hub-based infrastructure and an environment conducive for rationalising the logistics network and this would help reduce intermediaries and streamline supply chain operations.
 
The government's investment-linked tax incentives for setting up cold storages and agriculture warehousing facilities too will provide an impetus to the logistics sector, it added.
 
The Indian unit of S&P said with strong growth in organised retailing and food processing sector, there is a dire need to upgrade infrastructure in the country to ensure optimal distribution and storage of perishables.
 
It said it believes that agriculture wastages can be reduced to around 25% from current levels of 30%-40% through an efficient supply chain mechanism as lower wastages would ensure lower prices to end consumers and higher income for farmers.
 
"Efficiency in logistics operations can be achieved by outsourcing it to a third party logistics (3PL) service provider. 3PL players can integrate operations by providing multimodal transport services and create better logistics infrastructure. The supply chain management needs to transform from an activity-based function to a service-oriented function," Mr Mohta added.
 
CRISIL Research said it expects revenues of the 3PL segment to grow strongly at around 27% CAGR over the next 5 years, to around Rs162 billion in 2013-14 from an estimated Rs48 billion in 2008-09.
-Yogesh Sapkale with Amritha Pillay [email protected]
 

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