Consumer Issues
Telecom regulator issues consultation paper on free data
The Indian telecom watchdog on Thursday floated a consultation paper in an effort to explore transparent models that can achieve benefits of free data.
 
“This consultation paper is being issued to explore model(s) that could achieve the benefits of offering free data while avoiding the ingenuity that the Differential Tariff Regulation is meant to prevent,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) consultation paper on free data said here.
 
The model should facilitate the unconnected and under-connected consumer to become better connected and should not allow any telecom service provider (TSP) or large company playing a gatekeeper or biased role, the paper asserted.
 
“The model should use the principles of open, transparent and equal access to consumer services by all consumers and all businesses. TRAI believes that the proposed model should not hold back innovation and the opportunity to increase Internet penetration and usage,” it added.
 
In a move seen as an endorsement of net neutrality, TRAI on February 8 said no to discriminatory pricing of data content.
 
"No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content," TRAI had said in a much-awaited regulatory order.
 
"No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged to the consumer on the basis of content," the watchdog had said.
 
On Thursday the sector regulator said: "After issuing the regulation, certain organizations represented to TRAI that though the regulation was necessary to prevent gate keeping function either by TSP, but there is a need to have some TSP agnostic platform which can facilitate app developer to promote their website by providing some incentive to user for making their website popular."
 
"Therefore, there is a need to enable smaller entrepreneurs to flourish without permitting gate keeping function in the hands of the TSPs and also to give the consumers more choices for accessing the Internet," it added.
 
This consultation paper also delved into the matter of reimbursing the users.
 
It said: "The direct money transfer approach could be similar to the subsidy payment, for the domestic LPG connections, wherein the user pays for the connection like any other normal connection, and then the oil company or government pays the subsidy directly into his or her bank account."
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Nifty, Sensex headed lower – Thursday closing report
We had mentioned in Wednesday’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex were still trendless. The major indices of the Indian stock markets suffered a sharp correction and losses at Thursday’s closing of trading hours were around 1.20% over Wednesday’s close. The trends of the major indices in the course of Thursday’s trading are given in the table below:
 
 
Negative global cues, coupled with lower crude oil prices and a weak rupee, dragged the Indian equity markets lower on Thursday. This led the key indices to trade in the red during the mid-afternoon session, as heavy selling pressure was witnessed in the banking, capital goods and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) stocks. Initially, the key indices opened on Thursday on a flat note, in sync with their Asian peers. The Asian and domestic markets receded on the back of hawkish comments from the US Federal Reserve, which increased the chances of a future rate hike. The US Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) April minutes disclosed that the US central bank might raise key lending rates in June. A hike is expected to lead FPIs (Foreign Portfolio Investors) away from emerging markets such as India. Besides, lower crude oil prices and a weak rupee eroded investors' confidence. However, investors' sentiments turned slightly positive after the electoral victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam, which could potentially strengthen the central government's ability to push through economic reforms. On the BSE, there were 919 advances and 1,628 declines, while 165 were unchanged.
 
In a move towards ease of doing business in India, the government is consolidating 44 labour laws into just four and the draft bills will be tabled in the monsoon session of parliament beginning mid-July, the top official in the labour ministry has said. "We are realigning 44 labour laws into four. Out of that two are already ready -- Code on wages is already with the cabinet, Code on industrial relations is with the Ministry of Law," Shankar Aggarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, told IANS in an interview. Tripartite talks for the other two laws -- one on safety and working conditions of workers and the other for their social security and welfare -- will be held among the central and state governments, trade unions, and employers represented by the top industry chambers, he said. 
 
The Pakistani senate committee on National Food Security and Research has asked the government to stop the import of cotton lint from India. Committee chairman Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, chairing the meeting on Wednesday, said the country's agriculture economy would be ruined if the import of 0.5 million bales of cotton from India through the Wagah border checkpost was not stopped, Dawn online reported. It observed that the last season showed a 30% decline in cotton production, and added the figure could rise if immediate measures were not taken. 
 
In line with the theme of FII and FDI investments in India, United States businesses will sign deals worth $27 billion with India over the next two years, a top US official said in New Delhi on Wednesday. “Over the last two years, US businesses invested over $15 billion in India, and will reportedly sign deals worth another $27 billion over the next two years,” Arun M. Kumar, assistant secretary for global markets and director general for the US and foreign commercial service, said. Talking about increasing US investment in the Indian market, he said, “American companies are responding. Last year, US companies invested more in Indian equities than in China,” he added. In particular, US companies’ unique capabilities can help India address its priority needs and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic development goals, Kumar said. He also acknowledged India's e-commerce market as the fastest growing in the world, and said that US companies are contributing to the sector.
 
The top gainers and top losers of the major indices are given in the table below:
 
 
The closing values of the major Asian indices are given in the table below:
 

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The missing gap in RBI guidelines on lending limit for large borrowers
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 12 May 2016 released a discussion paper on a proposed ‘Framework for enhancing Credit Supply for Large Borrowers through the Market Mechanism’. The report says that the absence of an overarching ceiling on total bank borrowing by a corporate entity has resulted in banks collectively having very high exposures to some of the large corporates in India. The framework tries to mitigate risk posed by large borrowers to banks. However, there still is a missing gap and lingering concerns about these guidelines.
 
State Bank of India (SBI) in its Ecowrap report says, "A back of the envelope calculation suggests that the normally permitted lending limit (NPLL) of 50% will entail an annual inflow of Rs403 billion in the long term debt markets and Rs194 billion in the commercial paper (CP) market for FY2018."
 
 
The calculations have two important limitations. First, the RBI data is aggregate. Hence, the distribution of the companies is not accounted for. Second, the threshold for a ‘specified borrower’ is reducing over the next two years. This implies that the population under consideration is non-stationary. The combined effect of these is that the estimated flows are at a lower limit and actuals may be higher. This move by RBI may thus increase the size of the Indian corporate bond market by, say, only 1% of GDP from the current 17.8% of GDP and will not achieve the desired objective.
 
"We, thus, believe that this may not be the right way to develop the corporate market in India (there is no comparable rule in other countries restricting bank lending), which is at a nascent stage due to a number of issues and there may be a big funding gap for the infrastructure sector going forward," SBI added.
 
If one, now, looks at the framework for enhancing credit supply to large borrowers to mitigate the single-large borrower risk, the basic premise is to encourage such large borrowers to tap alternative funding. At present, there is no ceiling on total amount that a corporate entity can borrow from banks. Due to this, banks have high exposure to leveraged corporates in the country in sectors like infrastructure, power and steel.
 
According to the report, there are currently 57 rated entities whose total fund based rated limits aggregate Rs41.49 lakh crore. It says, "For the sake of curiosity, though not comparable, if we draw a parallel with total advances of all scheduled commercial banks (ASCBs) of Rs73.24 lakh crore (as on March 2016), these large borrowers account for 57% of total advances. Of the 57 entities, there are 22 entities that are unlisted. These entities are likely to continue to borrow into FY18 and beyond."
 
A standard asset provision of 3% is suggested on incremental exposures of banks in case it exceeds the NPLL. This will be distributed in proportion to each bank’s funded exposure. Banks can subscribe to bonds issued by specified borrowers above NPLL in the first year of framework coming into existence. However, banks will have to reduce its bonds exposure to specified borrowers during the course of next three years. Highly leveraged companies will look to tap money from the market, or may be forced to raise money overseas. If the leveraged corporates are offering bonds to banks, their ratings will take a hit. 
 
But for a meaningful deepening of the corporate bond markets, SBI feels that numerous facilitators will be required to improve the appetite of domestic institutional investors. Under the proposed norms, banks will be penalised for taking any exposure beyond 50%of the incremental requirements of specified borrowers who have significant aggregate fund-based credit limits sanctioned by banks.
 
 
The Ecowrap report says, "In a similar vein, the total requirement of debt financing for infrastructure during the 12th Plan is estimated at Rs22.6 lakh crore. Our estimates show that after funding by private and public sector banks there is already an existing gap of around Rs11 lakh crore. The question is how are we going to fund the infrastructure sector? Alternatively, does the corporate bond market have the requisite appetite? These are unresolved questions as of now, even as we debate the draft guidelines".
 
"The objective of the draft guidelines by RBI is laudable, as there is help to the banking industry in terms of reducing concentration risk. Going forward, this will help the banks to reduce their NPA levels but the issue of increased capital requirement due to higher provision and risk weights would be a big concern for the banking industry as a whole," the report concluded.

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