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Demonetisation, a double whammy for microfinance sector

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micro finance in india

Kolkata, November 13: The demonetisation of high-value currency notes has come as a double whammy for micro finance institutions (MFIs), which have temporarily stopped providing credit to their customers while loan repayments have also taken a major hit, industry sources said.

The institutions have deferred the repayment schedule of their borrowers for the next few days. In the last four-five days, repayment collections of about Rs 500 crore to Rs 600 crore ($74-89 million) has been deferred and with the lack of currency supply, the MFIs’ disbursement was also down by around Rs 600 crore.

“A lot of microfinance institutions put disbursement on hold because we need some clarity and it is currently quite ambiguous. We need clarity whether the institutions can collect Rs 500 or Rs 1000 notes from their borrowers as repayments of loans or not. We are not sure about it,” Gurugram-based Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN) CEO Ratna Viswanathan told IANS on the phone.

The microfinance industry is cash-intensive. Most of the borrowers take loans in cash and they repay loans in cash, particularly in Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes. Even many of the borrowers who have bank accounts do not know how to transact through them. Thus, cash transactions in the rural economy, where most of the MFIs operate, become inevitable.

“The MFIN asked institutions to consider putting collections on hold for the next five-seven days. They have deferred the repayment schedule. Repayment collections of about Rs 500-600 crore have been deferred. Disbursement was also down by around the same amount in the last few days as there is lack of currency supply to advance loans,” Viswanathan said.

MFIs record a repayment rate of 99 percent but it took a blow after demonetisation. The sector is worried about taking the business forward in view of the increasing risk of defaults.

“With the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the industry has been facing a challenge. We are neither able to disburse, nor taking repayments from borrowers with old notes. Our repayment rate fell to 60 percent on Wednesday after the demonetisation was announced on Tuesday night.

“We have started deferring repayments and on Friday, the repayment was down to 70 percent from nearly 100 percent,” Village Financial Services’ Managing Director and CEO Kuldip Maity told IANS.

“Fresh and repeat disbursements have completely been put on hold temporarily,” he added.

It is a double whammy for the industry as borrowers do not possess much cash in hand with new currency to repay loans in time and due to lack of liquidity in the system, MFIs are not able to disburse loans.

“The situation is not expected to be prolonged beyond November 14 or so as we are in discussions with the regulator (Reserve Bank of India) and the Finance Ministry. We need to review the industry’s stance of deferring repayments if the situation prolongs,” Grameen Koota Financial Services’ Managing Director Udaya Kumar told IANS.

The industry, meanwhile, has approached the RBI and the Union Finance Ministry seeking a clarification on how the MFIs should deal with repayments.

“The notification regarding the demonetisation of high currency notes primarily talked about retail customers and there is no clarity about institutional customers.

“We want to know whether it is applicable to institutional customers. As far as repayment is concerned, we want a clear idea on how we can deal with it because the institutions are also in the loan repayment business. Institutions share each and every client’s data with the credit bureau,” Viswanathan pointed out.

The industry is yet to receive any clarity from the RBI and the Finance Ministry, she added.

IANS

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Vodafone retrospective tax decision was erroneous: Jaitley

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Vodafone Tax Case

The decision taken by the previous UPA government to tax British telecom multinational Vodafone Group retrospectively was an “erroneous” one, the likes of which the ruling NDA would be loath to repeat, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.

He was responding to a question from the audience here on the issue at the ET Global Business Summit here.

“I always felt Vodafone tax decision was an erroneous decision. This government decided it will not be taking any retrospective decision,” Jaitley said.

It was precisely for this reason that the Long Term Capital Gains Tax reintroduced in the Budget earlier this month had been exempted for investments made up to January 31, 2018, he added.

The Budget 2018-19 has proposed to tax long-term capital gains on equities exceeding Rs 1 lakh at 10 per cent, which is expected to bring in revenue of Rs 20,000 crore.

However, capital gains made on shares until January 31, 2018, will be “grandfathered”, Jaitley said while presenting the budget, adding “we have protected all investments coming in before February 1”.

Vodafone is facing tax claims and interest totalling more than Rs 22,000 crore in India, which includes Rs 14,200 crore for acquiring Hutchison’s stake in 2007.

The UPA government had said that the Hutchison-Vodafone deal was liable for tax deduction at source (TDS) under the Income Tax (IT) Act. While the Supreme Court subsequently quashed the demand in January 2012, the government amended the IT Act retrospectively, putting the liability back on Vodafone Group.

The company last year said an international arbitration tribunal would begin trial on Vodafone’s challenge to India’s retrospective legislation to seek Rs 22,100 crore in taxes.

In this connection, the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) has said thatb predictability and clarity regarding retrospective taxation would help British companies to invest more in India.

“I think that if there was more clarity, certainty, predictability around retrospective taxation and (resolving) the Vodafone issue that would help the UK companies make their investment decisions in India,” UKIBC Managing Director Richard McCallum told IANS over a telephonic interaction on Friday.

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Equities recoup on value buying after 3 weeks of losses

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Mumbai, Feb 24: After three weeks of consecutive losses, the key Indian equity indices bounced back from their lows to close this week with humble gains on value buying by investors.

Market observers said futures and options (F&O) expiry infused volatility in the domestic markets, amid global cues and a slew of domestic developments like the $1.8 billion fraud reported by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and a weakening rupee due to the continuous outflow of foreign funds.

However, losses were trimmed as bargain-hunting by investors on the last trading day of the week lifted the benchmark indices.

On a weekly basis, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) edged higher by 131.39 points or 0.39 per cent to close at 34,142.15 points.

The wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed trade at 10,491.05 points — up 38.75 points or 0.37 per cent from its previous week’s close.

“The week gone by saw the Nifty bouncing back from a low of 10,302 to finally end with a modest gain. This week’s gains came after three weeks of losses,” Deepak Jasani, Head, Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

According to D.K. Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of SMC Investments and Advisors, markets across the globe fluctuated wildly — highlighting the market’s fragility — as investors continued to assess the quickening pace of economic growth and the prospects of the US Federal Reserve’s tightening efforts.

“Back home, the sentiment of market participants have been dented by factors such as surging US bond yields, a multi-crore fraud in India’s second-largest public sector lender PNB and the return of long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax on equities, which put a break on the record-setting market rally,” he added.

During the eight trading sessions following the detection of a $1.8 billion fraud in one of the branches of the PNB, the bank’s shares on the BSE have plunged almost 30 per cent to Rs 113.40 per share.

Gitanjali Gems, the other listed entity involved in the fraud case, also witnessed an eight-day fall in its shares, nosediving 60.54 per cent to Rs 24.80 per share.

“The consolidation in the domestic market continued due to the NPA (non-performing assets) issue in public-sector banks, trade deficit, conflict between NSE and SGX, rise in bond yield and depreciation in rupee due to selling by FIIs (foreign institutional investors),” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.

On the currency front, the rupee weakened by 51-52 paise to close at 64.73 against the US dollar from last week’s close of 64.21-22.

Provisional figures from the stock exchanges showed that FIIs sold-off scrips worth Rs 5,781.98 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) purchased scrips worth Rs 5,972.69 crore during the week.

Figures from the National Securities Depository (NSDL) revealed that foreign portfolio investors off-loaded equities worth Rs 3,054.94 crore, or $468.06 million, during February 20-23.

Sectorwise, Jasani said: “The top sectoral gainers were IT, metal and Bank Nifty indices. The top losers were auto, realty and pharma indices.”

The top weekly Sensex gainers were: Tata Consultancy Services (up 4.76 per cent at Rs 3,076.90); Yes Bank (up 3.75 per cent at Rs 323.60); Infosys (up 2.74 per cent at Rs 1,155.65); Kotak Bank (up 2.67 per cent at Rs 1,079.85); and Coal India (up 2.49 per cent at Rs 310.55).

The losers were: Bajaj Auto (down 3.70 per cent at Rs 2,988); Asian Paints (down 3.65 per cent at Rs 1,101.90); Mahindra and Mahindra (down 3.29 per cent at Rs 719.30); Tata Motors (down 2.73 per cent at Rs 360.45); and Tata Motors (DVR) (down 2.32 per cent at Rs 203.85).

IANS

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In the Indian system politicians are accountable but regulators are not: FM Jaitely on Banking frauds

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitely at Global Business Summit (Photo-ANI)

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday told that cases of periodical willful default are much more dangerous than business failure and bank frauds.

Speaking at Global Business Summit the leader pointed out that these kinds of incidents not only harm the economic atmosphere like the ease of doing business but also scars the economy.

The finance minister Jaitley also said, “If a fraud is taking place in multiple branches of banking system & no one raised the red flag, doesn’t that become worrisome for a country. Similarly, top management who were indifferent, multiple layers of auditing system which chose to look another way, it creates a worrisome situation.”

The leader also referred that Regulators plays important roles and decide the rules of the game and they have to have a third eye which perpetually is open.

“Unfortunately, in the Indian system we politicians are accountable but regulators are not,” he added.

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