The indices are still possibly gathering energy for a short upmove, but will it last?
The benchmark indices in India moved Friday almost in the same narrow range as Thursday and managed to close marginally higher. The market opened with high optimism, following a rally in the US markets but soon lost steam. The BSE 30-share Sensex opened at 21,824 while the NSE 50-share Nifty opened at 6,515. Both the indices immediately hit their respective high at 21,870 and 6,523, respectively. Sensex hit a low of 21,730 and closed at 21,754 (up 14 points or 0.06%) while Nifty closed at hit a low of 6,486 and closed at 6,493 (up 10 points or 0.16%). The NSE recorded a higher volume of 73.19 crore shares.
A panel headed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor Urjit Patel recommended in January moving to an inflation target, with an aim to eventually bring down consumer-price based inflation to 4% with a 2% band on either side. However, the Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan said that the central bank has not yet moved to an inflation target, and was still exploring the suggestions on the subject drafted by a panel with the government.
US indices closed in the green on Thursday. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week. Initial claims for state unemployment aid increased 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 320,000 last week, the Labor Department said.
Fitch Ratings on Friday affirmed the United States' credit ratings at "AAA" with a stable outlook, removing the distant danger that it might downgrade the world's largest economy. The action resolves the negative watch that Fitch had placed on the United States back in October, when political wrangling over the debt ceiling had raised the risk of default. Fitch said the latest crisis over the debt limit had not adversely affected US Treasury yields or the appetite of foreign investors for the debt. "Therefore Fitch does not believe the role of the US dollar, sovereign financing flexibility or debt tolerance has been materially damaged," it said.
Except for NZSE 50 (down 0.69%) and Taiwan Weighted (down 0.23%) all the other trading Asian indices closed in the positive. Shanghai Composite (2.72%) was the top gainer.
European indices were trading in the green while US Futures were trading marginally higher.
Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings cut Russia’s credit outlook to negative after the US penalised officials and business leaders named as having ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Greece's credit rating was maintained at six steps below investment grade by Standard & Poor's, which said the country's debt remains large even as its government's fiscal performance improves. The country's long-term local currency debt was kept at B-, with a stable outlook, S&P said in a statement.
Are consumer courts your only option? Or do some issues have faster, alternative solution? Three experts, Adv Bapoo Malcolm, Indrani Malkani and Shirish Shanbhag say yes
Finding a solution or redress of your grievances requires you to make smart choices and act strategically. Most people are unaware of the alternative dispute resolution forums like Lok Adalat and Lokshahi Din to resolve their issues. Also if one decides to go for legal recourse, one must chose right lawyer or end up in deep trouble. These were the words of advice provided by three experts, Adv Bapoo Malcolm, Indrani Malkani and Shirish Shanbhag, at a panel discussion organised by Moneylife Foundation in Mumbai.
There are several other fora like tax, insurance and banking ombudsman, alternative dispute resolution fora like Lok Adalat, Lokshahi Din held in government offices, counselling offered by Council for Fair Business Practices and Disha Financial Counselling and consumer courts that help people to resolve grievances quickly.
According to Shirish Shanbhag, a retired professor, who provides guidance to people on several issues, grievance of citizens is best resolved in Lokshahi Din. There are four levels of Lokshahi Din and one can escalate her grievance from taluka level to the chief minister level as well.
If one follows the simple procedure, like submitting the application in prescribed format, well before the prescribed time limit, she can get quick and effective redressal. Raising public grievances through Lokshahi Din is less time consuming, and is an inexpensive solution. In addition, there is no need to hire a lawyer and one can represent herself, Mr Shanbhag said.
Social activist Indrani Malkani who is also a trustee of vCitizens Action Network (V-CAN), said Lok Adalat works on a system of reaching a compromise between the disputed parties. Lok Adalat is a non-adversarial system, whereby mock courts (called Lok Adalats) are held by the State Authority, District Authority, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, High Court Legal Services Committee, or Taluk Legal Services Committee.
The Lok Adalats can deal with all civil cases, matrimonial disputes, land disputes, partition/ property disputes, labour disputes, and compoundable criminal cases, Ms Malkani said.
She said, in Lok Adalat, disputing parties plead their case themselves. No advocate or pleader is allowed, even witnesses are not examined. No court fee is levied. Speedy justice is given to the people of all classes of society and the award has the same effect as of a Civil Court decree.
According to Ms Malkani, disputes can be brought before the Lok Adalat directly instead of going to a regular court, which provides speedy justice.
How to choose the right lawyer?
Advocate Bapoo Malcolm, who practises civil and criminal law as well as documentation and arbitration, said before looking for a lawyer, one must think about the outcome she wants and what branch of law applies to her specific problem. Since legal cases may drag on for years, one must also consider if the battle is worth the time and cost, he said. According to Adv Malcolm, it is always better to hire a lawyer who is highly recommended from people in one's inner circle who have dealt with legal issues. While credentials are important, knowledge of the lawyer about penal provisions is equally important, he said.
He said, well-established and reputed lawyers charge higher fees than the upcoming ones. At the same time, well-established lawyers don’t always charge fees for consultation or first visit, Adv Malcolm added.
One must have a frank and open discussion with the lawyer and should not hide facts. She must also ask for a realistic estimate of cost and duration to resolve the particular issue. "If you do not understand what your lawyer is saying, seek an explanation. Don't get intimidated," he said.
Bombay HC had asked IRDA to have insurers issue guidelines to TPA on claims recommendation within four weeks. They should also see if the insurers can declare pre-packaged rates for 42 ailments in the same guidelines. Are TPAs still settling claims?
The Bombay High Court (HC) had asked Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) to make the insurers comply with its August 2013 circular asking insurance companies to issue guidelines to third party administrators (TPA) on claims recommendation within four weeks. Even though General Insurance Council (GIC), a statutory body representing all non-life insurers, has expressed inability to comply with the HC order of declared pre-packaged rates for 42 ailments, HC has asked IRDA to see if insurers can conform to it.
On the 28 November 2013 hearing, Bombay HC judge questioned IRDA about not including it in health insurance regulations to mandate transparency for 42 standard ailments pricing. IRDA replied that insurance companies cannot comply and hence, GIC has intervened to be made party to the public interest litigation (PIL). In short, IRDA put the ball in health insurer’s court instead of mandating transparency from insurance companies.
In the following hearings, GIC agreed that there should be uniformity in packages offered in insurance policies. GIC kept expressing inability to comply with the HC order citing lack of hospital regulator in India as one of the reasons. Mr Damani had argued that there was a provision in the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act to appoint a regulator to regulate the hospitals. Unfortunately, IRDA has not appointed such an authority.
Finally, in today’s (21 March 2014) hearing, GIC said that they will need IRDA to mandate pre-packaged rates in the health insurance guidelines. It means the ball is back in IRDA’s court. It is now up to IRDA to mandate pre-packaged declared rates rather than putting blame on insurer unwillingness. The buck certainly stops at IRDA.
According to Mr Damani, “If mediclaim policies indicated the amount an insured was eligible for specific ailments, it will ensure that they have clarity on which hospitals to go; the hospitals too would know how much they would get.” Packaged rate for standard procedures specified in the policy will force the insurance companies and TPAs to become more transparent about what they are willing to pay, avoiding nasty surprises for the policyholder later.
Today, the average claim payment for cashless is Rs25,000, but it is only Rs13,000 for reimbursement. It means there is a large chunk of claims that are only partially settled; it is not in consumer interest. There are cases of TPA still writing cheques, which is not in compliance with health insurance regulations effective from October 2013. Moreover, TPAs are not supposed to have any target for claims settlement. But, one TPA internal emails show that employees are given a target for daily claims payment. They cannot pay an amount more than the daily target.
According to Mr Damani, “The good old cashless mediclaim days are no longer available with government insurers, who realised it was more expensive than reimbursement claims. There is no financial incentive to restart cashless facility. Information on package rates for 42 standard procedures will help policyholders know what they are entitled to. Today, there is a lack of transparency and third party administrators (TPAs) have huge discretionary powers. Bills for same procedure undergone in the same hospital are settled with different amounts.”