ECONOMY - 2019 March

March 2

Goods and Services Tax collection in February is Rs. 97,247 crore
GST collections decreased to Rs. 97,247 crore in February from Rs. 1.02 lakh crore in the January.
The total gross GST revenue collected in February 2019 is Rs 97,247 crore of which Central GST is Rs. 17,626 crore, State GST (SGST) is Rs. 24,192 crore, Integrated GST (IGST) is Rs. 46,953 crore and Cess is Rs. 8,476 crore
Goods and Services Tax collections in the current fiscal till February Rs. 10.70 lakh crore.
The government lowered the GST collection target for current fiscal to Rs. 11.47 lakh crore in the Revised Estimates.
For the next fiscal 2019-20, the GST collection target has been budgeted at Rs 13.71 lakh crore.
IFFCO Tokio General Insurance launched India’s first policy to protect bank locker
IFFCO Tokio General Insurance launched bank locker protector policy, it is the1stbank locker cover offered by any insurance company in India with a plan to protect the contents of a bank locker such as jewelry, title documents, and other valuables.
The policy offers a cover against various risks including fire, earthquake, burglary, and holdup, infidelity by a bank staff or any act of terrorism.
Important documents kept in a locker can also be insured under the policy as an add-on cover.
The policy can be sold both as retail and a group policy for banks.
It offers 7 options of sum insured ranging from Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 40 lakh and above and the premium rate is affordable with a cover of Rs. 3 lakh available at just Rs. 300, which is less than Rs. 1 per day.

March 4

Ayushman Bharat and Uber ink partnership to facilitate free healthcare for drivers
India's largest cashless health insurance scheme – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) popularly known as Ayushman Bharat and on-demand ride-sharing company Uber are partnering to facilitate free healthcare for tens of thousands of driver and delivery partners, who earn a livelihood by using the Uber platform.
As per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the National Health Authority (NHA), Uber, under its Uber CARE initiative for driver and delivery partners, will facilitate the setting up of Common Service Centres (CSCs) at Partners Seva Kendras across India.
CSC’s Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) at these centres will help verify eligibility and issue e-cards to driver and delivery partners for the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, which provides Rs. 500,000 of healthcare benefits for free secondary and tertiary treatment to each eligible family per year in government and empanelled private hospitals.
Eligible driver and delivery partners will pay only Rs. 30 to obtain an Ayushman Bharat card to provide access to the services under the scheme.

March 5

Seeking tomake it more cost-effective to trade in Indian stock markets, regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)'s board approved lowering of fees charged from brokers, stock exchanges and the companies seeking to get listed.
The board approved reduction in fees payable by brokers by 33.33% from Rs. 15 per crore of transactions to Rs. 10, while the same for agri-commodity derivative transactions would be reduced sharply by 93.33% from Rs. 15 to just Re 1.
Keeping this objective in mind and taking into consideration the projected income and expenditure of Sebi for the next three financial years, the board has decided to revise the fee structure with effect from April 1, 2019, in respect of certain market participants.
It was also decided to reduce the fees payable by the issuers for one refiling of offer documents by 50 per cent from the current levels, if the refiling is done within one year of validity of observation letter.

March 6

 China slashes its GDP target to 6-6.5% amid slowdown
China has slashed its official GDP target to 6 to 6.5 per cent this year as the world's second largest economy grapples with the ongoing trade war with the US and a continued economic slowdown.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has expressed concern that the country will face a graver and more complicated environment to development, amid an ongoing trade war with the US and continued economic slowdown.

LIC Housing Finance-IMGC tie up: Now repay home loans till 75 years of age.
LIC Housing Finance has partnered with India Mortgage Guarantee Corporation (IMGC) to offer special loan scheme, under which borrowers can repay the amount till the age of 75 years, increasing the loan quantum and reducing the burden of monthly EMIs for borrowers.
LICHFL will now be able to accommodate more home loan borrowers, increase market penetration, besides combating non-performing assets (NPAs).
IMGC will provide LICHFL mortgage guarantee, which is a financial product that compensates financial institutions for losses that may arise from a default on a mortgage loan.

March 7

The NGT (National Green Tribunal) slaps Rs. 500 crore penalty on Volkswagen.
For causing damage to the environment by programming its diesel engines with cheat devices.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the German global auto giant to deposit the amount within two months.
The tribunal enhanced the compensation amount of Rs. 171.34 crore, which was recommended by an NGT- appointed committee, as a means of “creating deterrence”.

OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation & Development) cuts global economic growth forecasts again.
The OECD cut forecasts again for the global economy in 2019 and 2020, following on from previous downgrades in November, as it warned that trade disputes and uncertainty over Brexit would hit world commerce and businesses.
The Organization for Economic Co-Operation & Development forecast in its interim outlook report that the world economy would grow 3.3% in 2019 and 3.4% in 2020.
Those forecasts represented cuts of 0.2% points for 2019 and 0.1 percentage points for 2020, compared to the OECD's last set of forecasts in November.

March 8

Import of Solid Plastic Waste banned by India
Import of plastic was earlier partly banned as it was prohibited in special economic zones (SEZ) but allowed by Export-Oriented units (EOUs) who would obtain it from other countries in the form of post-recycling resources
This complete prohibition has been done by amendment of Hazardous Waste (Management & Trans-boundary Movement) Rules on March 1.
The rule is a part of India’s aim to completely phase out single-use plastic by 2022.
White category industries are now required to give their polluting wastes to authorized users, waste collectors or disposal facilities.
White category industries are the ones that are either non or very less polluting ones and comprises of 36 industrial sectors like air-coolers, air-conditioners, biscuit making, metal caps, handloom and chalk-making etc.

Government to give Rs. 3,300 crores to help sugar mills boost ethanol Production capacity.
The diversion of sugarcane for ethanol production will help cut sugar output, which in turn, will improve the financial health of sugar mills that have been saddled with losses.
Indian sugar mills produced 21.9million tonnes of the sweetener between 1 October and 15 February, nearly 8% more than a year earlier, as a few mills started crushing earlier than usual.
Mills in the western state of Maharashtra produced 8.3 million tonnes sugar during the period, up 11% from a year ago, the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA).

March 9

Income tax exemption limit on gratuity doubled to Rs. 20 lakh: Labour Minister
The income tax exemption limit on gratuity has been doubled to Rs. 20 lakh from the existing Rs 10 lakh, a move that will benefit employees who are not covered by the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. 
Ministry of Finance has enhanced the income tax exemption for gratuity under Section 10 (10) (iii) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to Rs 20 lakhs.
The latest enhancement of tax exemption limit on gratuity follows a government notification issued on March 29, 2018, under which the ceiling was increased from Rs 10 lakh to 20 lakh effective March 29, 2018. 

March 10

India, ASEAN clock fastest growth for e-commerce, digital trade sectors: FICCI-KPMG
India and 10-member ASEAN are among the fastest growing economies in the world with even faster growth rates for e-commerce and digital trade sectors, according to a new report by industry body FICCI and consulting major KPMG.
By 2021, global e-commerce sales are expected to reach 4.5 trillion dollars, up from 1.3 trillion dollars in 2014.
China dominates the global e-commerce sector; India and ASEAN are among the fastest growing markets.
The e-commerce market in India is estimated to reach 165.5 billion dollars by 2025 while the ASEAN is estimated to reach a volume of 90 billion dollars, said the report titled 'India and ASEAN: Co-creating the Future.
By 2025, China's e-commerce market will expand to a whopping 672 billion dollars.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has signed a Cooperation Agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group (WBG).
The agreement will enable IFC to assist IBBI to further build the capacity of insolvency professionals, and insolvency professional agencies for the purposes of the Code.
The cooperation agreement provides a technical assistance by IFC to IBBI until 30th June; 2021.It will provide training of insolvency professionals and trainers by the IFC to IBBI.
IBBI provides a platform for re-organization and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, individuals and partnership firmsin a time bound manner for maximization of the value of assets.
IFC would help IBBI to effectively implement the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and its allied rules and regulations for the purpose of the bankruptcy code.

March 11

NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) clears Arcelor Mittal's Rs. 42,000 crore bid to take over Essar Steel.
A resolution plan of Rs. 42,000 crores submitted by Arcelor Mittal for acquisition of Essar Steel India Ltd (ESIL) was approved by the Ahmedabad bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
ArcelorMittal receives NCLT nod for taking over Essar Steel. The resolution proposal submitted by ArcelorMittal’s consists of providing additional capital to the company, worth Rs. 8,000 crore for improving operational efficiencies, increasing production and delivering higher profits.
ESIL owes over Rs. 49,000 crore to over two dozen banks led by the SBI and has been under the bankruptcy proceedings since June 2017.

March 12

SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) lifts foreign investment cap on corporate bonds.
Markets regulator Sebi withdrew the 20 per cent limit on investments by Foreign Portfolio Investors in corporate bonds of an entity.
The restriction is being withdrawn in accordance with a circular issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 
In June last year, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had mandated that no Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) shall have an exposure of more than 20% of its corporate bond portfolio to a single corporate. 

March 13

Young Global Leaders list, WEF (World Economic Forum)
Andhra Pradesh IT minister Nara Lokesh, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain are among the Indians featuring in the list of Young Global Leaders, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The list has 127 of the world's "most promising social activists, business leaders, public servants, artists and technologists under the age of 40".
Apart from Lokesh, Mahajan and Jain, Telangana government's Chief Innovation Officer Phanindra Sama, SaveLife Foundation's Piyush Tewari and Kaleidofin's co-Founder Sucharita Mukherjee are also in the list.
Poonam Mahajan is both president of the Youth Wing of one of India’s major political parties and the first female President of India’s Basketball Federation.
Manu Kumar Jain is one of the country’s youngest internet entrepreneurs, building bridges between China and India while managing a multi-billion dollar business

Infosys to open digital centre in Romania
Infosys would open a digital innovation centre at Bucharest in Romania to develop software for clients based on cloud, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
We will invest in training our current employees and new hires for competencies, including user experience, cloud, big data, digital offerings, core technology skills and computer science skills.
The $11 billion outsourcing firm also tied up with the University of Bucharest and the University Politehnica Bucharest for innovation and Romanian workforce development, including joint training courses, scholarships and research.

March 14

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das headed panel of regulators discuss issues concerning economy
Markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), insurance regulator Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI), and pension fund regulator Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), along with senior officials of the finance ministry, discussed the key issues facing the economy at the meeting of the sub-committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) chaired by RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das.
The sub-committee reviewed the major developments on the global and domestic fronts that impinge on the financial stability of the country.
The panel discussed ways to address challenges pertaining to the quality of credit ratings and inter-linkages between housing finance companies and housing developers.
It also deliberated on the interlinking of various regulatory databases and the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion.
India sets "aspirational" target for engineering exports at USD 200 billion by 2025.
India can achieve a three-fold "aspirational" increase in its engineering exports to reach USD 200 billion by 2025, if concerted efforts are made by the government and industry to develop a conducive ecosystem, and ensuring inputs at competitive prices, according to an EEPC India-Deloitte strategy paper.
It is decided on the basis of discussions with Ministry of Commerce and leadership of EEPC India.
India's engineering exports, which contribute 25 per cent to the overall merchandise shipments, are projected to touch about USD 80-82 billion in the current financial year ending March 31.
Strategy paper has identified areas where government and industry interventions are required which includes various aspects such as product-market optimization, eco-system development, promotion and branding, and competitive procurement of inputs.

March 15

Aviva Life Insurance has announced the launch of ‘Wings’, a specially designed mentorship program to empower the female workforce
The WINGS program is an initiative of the SHE division of Aviva Life Insurance for mentoring all the women employees in Aviva.
SHE division was conceptualized in 2016 by Aviva India’s Women Network, an active community of socially enabled women who take up the charge of addressing causes in the interest of women empowerment.
The new initiative has been aimed to empower the women in Aviva to fulfill their professional and personal goals.
Additionally, mentoring will also develop a leadership pipeline for the company thus ensuring that the practice is not just beneficial to the individual but to the organization at large.

Fresh NPAs in the banking sector are expected to moderate to 1.9 to 2.4 percent in FY'20.
According to ICRA (Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency of India Ltd), fresh NPAs in the banking sector are expected to come down 1.9-2.4% in FY’20 from 3.7% in FY 19, owing to a dedicated NPA recovery mechanism and write offs by banks. Public sector banks (PSBs) will earn profit after 4 continuous years of losses.
Gross NPAs for banks is expected to be 8.3 lakh crore (7.9%) for March 2020, against the estimated 9.2% of March 2019.
Losses pegged at Rs 93,100 crore in FY’19 are lesser than capital infusion amounting to Rs 1.22 lakh crore.
The credit loss provisioning being undertaken can potentially lead to 14 PSBs being but the overall return on assets and return on equity may continue to be weak.
The ratings outlook for 4 PSBs- Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Punjab National Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce has been revised from negative to stable.
Also, the rating for IDBI Bank has been revised from negative to ‘Rating watch with developing implications’ but the forecast for Punjab and Sind Bank was worsened from stable to negative.
About Non Performing Assets (NPA):
A NPA is a loan for advance where, interest or installment of principal remains overdue for a period of more than 90 days in respect of term loan.
The account remains out of order with respective to an overdraft/cash credit, if the outstanding balance remains continuously in excess of the sanctioned limit /drawing power.
The bill remains overdue for a period of more than 90days in the case of bills purchased and discounted.

March 16

Microsoft’s Project ‘Sangam’ accelerates India’s Swachh Bharat Mission
Microsoft India partnered with The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to deploy Microsoft’s Project Sangam (cloud-hosted, mobile-first community learning platform) to train functionaries and officers across India on Swachh Bharat e-Learning Portal.
Through this partnership, MoHUA has successfully trained 110,000+ municipal functionaries on best sanitation practices across 4000 plus cities in India.
Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is a nation-wide campaign in India that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India’s cities, towns, and rural areas.
Project Sangam empowered the Municipal functionaries by enabling MoHUA to run custom community training courses and track their process, manage content, users and analytics across the program in one place.
It also provided video-based learning for users who have low-bandwidth supporting offline learning for the Swachh Bharat e-Learning Portal users.

March 17

ICICI Lombard, Mobikwik To Offer Online Fraud Protection Policy
ICICI Lombard and Mobikwik announced a strategic partnership to provide cyber-insurance cover. The relationship aims to provide protection against unauthorized and fraudulent transactions online, across bank accounts, debit and credit cards and mobile wallets.
Mobikwik users can avail the commercial cyber-insurance policy underwritten by ICICI Lombard and enjoy the benefit of stress-free and secured transactions.
It can be availed at Rs. 99 per month and with a sum insured of Rs. 50,000.

March 18

WhatsApp and NASSCOM Foundation collaborated to tackle misinformation
The aim of the partnership is to train 100,000 Indians to spot false information and provide tips and tricks to stay safe on WhatsApp.
With this partnership, WhatsApp aims to reach approximately 100,000 Indians with training to spot false information and provide tips and tricks to stay safe on WhatsApp.
The company said that the co-created curriculum encourages people to be mindful about forwarding rumors. The training will include real-world anecdotes, tools which can be used to verify a forward and actions users can take like reporting problematic content to fact checkers and law enforcement also the curriculum will be disseminated in multiple regional languages.
On March 27, the first training will start in Delhi and will be followed by more planned interventions like hosting training workshops for representatives from rural and urban areas along with road shows across numerous colleges.

IBBI (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India) and SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) signed an MoU for effective implementation of IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016)
Its allied rules and regulations, which have redefined the debt-equity relationship and aims to promote entrepreneurship and debt market.
Under the MoU, they agreed to assist and cooperate with each other for the effective implementation of the Code, subject to limitations imposed by the applicable laws.
The MoU provides for: Sharing of information between the two parties, subject to the limitations imposed by the applicable laws.
Sharing of resources available with each other to the extent feasible and legally permissible.
Periodic meetings to discuss matters that the parties believe would be of interest to each other in fulfilling their respective statutory obligations.
Cross-training of staff in order to enhance each party’s understanding of the other’s mission for effective utilization of collective resources.

Joint efforts towards enhancing the level of awareness among financial creditors about the importance and necessity of swift insolvency resolution process of various types of borrowers in distress under the provisions of the Code, etc.

March 19

Hyundai & Kia invest $300 million in Ola, develop cars for ride hailing market
The agreement, the three companies will collaborate extensively in developing unique fleet and mobility solutions, building India-specific electric vehicles and infrastructure.
India is the centrepiece of Hyundai Motor Group’s strategy to gain leadership in the global mobility market and our partnership with OLA will certainly accelerate our efforts to transform into a Smart Mobility Solutions Provider.
As part of the strategic collaboration, the companies have agreed to co-create solutions to operate and manage fleet vehicles. This is the first time that the Hyundai Motor Group is expanding operations from automobile manufacturing and sales to total fleet solutions. 
Hyundai, Kia and OLA will also co-ordinate to develop vehicles and specifications which will reflect the needs of both drivers and users in the ride-hailing market.