Banks' NPAs to Shrink to 8% by March 2020, RBI Union Wants A Collegium to Select New Governors & Other Top Business News Today

Hotstar, MXPlayer among most downloaded entertainment apps in the world. Tata & Dunzo likely to join Swiggy, Zomato & others to seek approval for drone delivery experiments. Government to enlist village-level entrepreneurs to provide clean drinking water to rural Indians. Finance Ministry mulling measures to boost housing sector through budget sops. The cashbacks you receive from payment apps can be taxed. NITI Aayog is eager for transition to electric vehicles, but the challenges ahead are numerous. Piyush Goyal keeps data localisation norms out of e-commerce policy draft. RBI union pitches collegium to select new governors to ensure institution’s autonomy. Banks’ NPAs to shrink to 8% by March 2020. DHFL defaults on INR225cr commercial paper. As US Federal Reserve hints at rate cut, bond yields could rise as Asian central banks expected to do the same. MEA Jaishankar says “natural to have trade issues” and that US and India will address them “effectively”.

 

Moving on to the top Business news today: 

 

 GROWTH 

Hotstar, MXPlayer among most downloaded entertainment apps in the world. Tata & Dunzo likely to join Swiggy, Zomato & others to seek approval for drone delivery experiments.

 

Sare Jahan Se Accha...: Even as desi content goes global and internet penetration expands in the country, Indian apps are taking over lists of most downloaded apps internationally.

 

According to data released by Sensor Tower, Hotstar, MXPlayer, JioTV and Sony-Liv were among the ten most downloaded entertainment apps in the world in the January-March time frame. (YouTube topped the chart, followed by Netflix.)

 

Overall, of the two billion entertainment apps downloads on Google Play and Apple Store, almost a fifth of all downloads were from India.

 

As for global footprint, while Hotstar and JioTV saw less than 1% of downloads from outside India, this number was higher for other apps, especially for MXPlayer which saw 22.4% of all downloads from outside India.

 

Drone Delivery: The Tata Group will reportedly join the queue to seek approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to conduct experiments using unmanned aerial vehicles – meaning, drones.

 

Tata would then join others like Dunzo, Swiggy, Zomato, Zipline, ShopX and Delhivery who are seeking similar certification to use drones for commercial purposes.

 

Delivery drones are already in use in many places around the world. For example, Zipline uses them to distribute medical products in Rwanda and American retailer Kroger uses them to deliver groceries in Scottsdale, Arizona.

  

 POLICY 

Government to enlist village-level entrepreneurs to provide clean drinking water to rural Indians. Finance Ministry mulling measures to boost housing sector through budget sops. 

 

Entrepreneuring for a Better Tomorrow: The government’s rural e-governance initiative, Common Service Centres (CSCs), will enlist village-level entrepreneurs to set up water filtration plants in one lakh villages across the country.

 

This will help towards the government’s target of ensuring clean drinking water to all citizens by 2024.

 

The pilot project, which will involve 50 villages, will likely take off next month. The water filtration facilities will be indigenously developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), with whom the government has signed an MoU.

 

Get Your House in Order: As a means to boost the economy and create more jobs, the government is reportedly planning to give an impetus to the housing sector through budget sops.

 

These sops could include tax benefits to encourage purchases, providing benefits for buying a second house, softer interest rates to encourage home-buying and higher tax deduction for interest on home loan.

 

More details are expected before the Budget is unveiled on 5 July.

 

These measures are aimed at reviving a slowing economy – GDP growth recently slowed to its lowest in five years. At 5.8%, India lost the tag of fastest growing major economy to China.

 

 RULES 

The cashbacks you receive from payment apps can be taxed. NITI Aayog is eager for transition to electric vehicles, but the challenges ahead are numerous. Piyush Goyal keeps data localisation norms out of e-commerce policy draft.

 

Here Comes the Taxman: We all know how common it is for e-commerce and payment companies to offer cashbacks to entice purchases on or payments through their platforms.

 

What we might not know is that these cash benefits can be taxable in the form of a gift tax. The Income Tax Act talks about taxing “money received without consideration” if the value of the “gifts” received in a financial year crosses INR50,000.

 

The Income Tax Department does consider cashbacks as taxable income – as one hapless online shopper rudely found out.  

 

So, be wary of your taxable income. (Or just don’t shop online so much that you get INR50,000 as cashback.)

 

Electric City: NITI Aayog is eager for India to transition to electric mobility ASAP. Zero-emission transportation could not only make our cities cleaner and lives healthier, it would also mean less revenue lost on importing oil every year.

 

But India’s adoption of EV technology depends on industry readiness and infrastructural considerations as much as on government eagerness (if not more).

 

As things stand, India has a lot of ground to cover. Limited EV charging points, lack of local lithium-ion battery manufacturing, electricity deficit between urban and rural areas, and traditional reliance on coal to produce electricity are some of the many challenges that India faces – not to mention the fact that other countries like China, Germany and Norway have a massive head-start in EV technology.

 

Data Norms: In a major shift in stance, commerce minister Piyush Goyal has announced that the e-commerce policy draft will not have norms regarding data localisation.

 

In a meeting with 25 major e-commerce companies, Goyal announced that provisions regarding data protection would be handled by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, which is already working on a data protection bill.

 

Data localisation has been a contentious issue not only between the government and e-commerce players but also a thorn on India-US relations in recent weeks. Previously, Goyal’s draft had placed restrictions on cross-border data flow and required all data to be stored locally, even by foreign companies.

 

 BANKING 

RBI union pitches collegium to select new governors to ensure institution’s autonomy. Banks’ NPAs to shrink to 8% by March 2020. DHFL defaults on INR225cr commercial paper.

 

Fall-out: A day after the resignation of deputy governor Viral Acharya six months before the end of his term, the RBI’s employees association has called for the creation of a “collegium of experts” to select governors and deputy governors of the RBI in the future.

 

Such a collegium, which would comprise “comprising former governors, other prominent central bankers and economists”, will ensure the central bank’s autonomy, the All India Reserve Bank Employees Association said in a statement.

 

Presently, governors and deputy governors of the central bank are appointed by the government as per the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

 

Vision 2020: In what will be welcome news to the banking sector, Crisil reported that banks’ gross NPAs should decrease 350bp to 8% by March 2020.

 

Fewer fresh accretions of NPAs, higher recoverirs from stressed assets under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, and a pick-up in credit growth would help.

 

Gross NPAs in the system peaked at 11.5% in March 2018. Public sector banks, which account for four-fifths of all NPAs, could see NPAs climb down to 10.6% from their March 2018 peak of 14.6%.

 

Meeting Debt Obligations: Embattled mortgage lender Dewan Housing Finance Ltd. (DHFL) failed again to meet payment obligations, this time towards commercial papers worth INR 375cr.

 

DHFL only repaid 40% of the amount – INR225cr – and said it will make the remaining payment in the “next couple of days”.

 

Earlier this month, DHFL had failed to pay interest due on bonds sold last year, reflecting the crisis faced by the company, which is selling assets to repay debt.

 

 ECONOMY 

As US Federal Reserve hints at rate cut, bond yields could rise as Asian central banks expected to do the sameMEA Jaishankar says “natural to have trade issues” and that US and India will address them “effectively”.

 

Interest in Cuts: The Federal Reserve hinted recently that it would adopt a more lenient monetary policy in the near future and that a rate cut was around the corner.

 

This has been met with enthusiasm in investors in Asian bond markets, who expect central banks in the region to follow the Fed’s lead and cut rates too, thereby invigorating bond yields.

 

Asian securities are generally attractive investment options given their attractive yields, an exception in a global environment where $13 trillion of bonds have negative yields.

 

Of particular focus are high-yield markets like India, Indonesia and the Philippines. India in particular is a very viable option, given how the RBI has been easing monetary policy gradually – interest rates have been cut by 25bp three times this year.

 

Special Relationship?: US Secretary State Mike Pompeo began his three-day visit to India with meetings with PM Modi, NSA Ajit Doval and MEA S Jaishankar.

 

In a joint press briefing with his American counterpart, Jaishankar said it was natural for two countries to have differences over trade. Adding that the US was India’s biggest trade partner, he said these differences would be addressed mutually and effectively.

 

Trade tensions between the US and India have affected an otherwise strengthening relationship, aided by similar security interests and wariness over China’s growing influence. 

 

Pompeo and Indian officials will deliberate over the next two days to diffuse tensions, reach a compromise and set the stage for the Modi-Trump meet along the sidelines of G20 meet later this week.

 

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