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Don’t want RBI money, but can’t let economy starve: Jaitley

“The main issue was not the economic capital framework. It’s an issue for a medium term. But the immediate issue is we can’t allow our economy to starve (on liquidity),” Jaitley said at a summit hosted by television channel Republic TV here.

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Arun Jaitley

Mumbai, Dec 18 : Admitting using Section 7 of the RBI Act to force a discussion with the central bank on liquidity and credit issues, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said he could not have let the economy starve for liquidity.

As for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s economic capital, he said it was never the main issue between the government and the RBI and that the government does not want any money from the bank’s reserves to fix its fiscal deficit.

“The main issue was not the economic capital framework. It’s an issue for a medium term. But the immediate issue is we can’t allow our economy to starve (on liquidity),” Jaitley said at a summit hosted by television channel Republic TV here.

Stating that his government had the best fiscal deficit track record, he declared that even in the current year, he will meet the announced fiscal deficit target within the available resources.

“I don’t want any money from the Reserve Bank’s reserves at the moment. The only question which was raised were really two…there were several questions around two important facts — first relating to liquidity in certain sectors of the economy and availability of credit,” he said.

In his tiff with the RBI, which ended with Governor Urjit Patel resigning last week, Jaitley said he always respects the bank’s autonomy, but as a sovereign and accountable government, he had to flag the liquidity issue for which he used all tools available.

“We used every instrument available to our advantage to force a discussion and whatever steps we took — informal plus formal and statutory — were really to flag the issue of liquidity and credit,” he said hinting at the Section 7 of the RBI Act, which was never used earlier.

The section empowers the government to give directions to the central bank on matters of public interest even if the RBI or its Governor holds a different view.

Stating that there was never a breakdown in his relationship with the central banker, Jaitley said he wanted the autonomous and independent RBI to hold stakeholder consultations and resolve the problem, which was related to monetary policy.

“I say I have read some books, some data, some research papers, some statistics and I am forming an opinion. The empirical evidence in the market would be entirely different… All these institutions must be autonomous but must never be isolationist. If they are isolationists, there is a fair chance they will go wrong,” he added.

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Markets open on positive note

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Sensex Nifty Equity

Mumbai, Feb 20: The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a positive note during the morning session of the trade.

The BSE Sensex opened at 35,564.93 before touching a high of 35,581.14 and a low of 35,520.21.

It was trading at 35,528.69 up by 176.08 points or 0.50 per cent from its Tuesday’s close at 35,352.61.

On the other hand, the broader 50-scrip Nifty at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 10,655.45 after closing at 10,604.35.

The Nifty is trading at 10,656.25 in the morning.

IANS

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PF funds’ investment in IL&FS bonds have no government guarantee: Finance Ministry

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IL&FS Financial Service

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The provident and pension fund trusts that invested in the IL&FS bonds now fear loss of money as the debt-ridden company’s bonds are unsecured debt, and the Finance Ministry says superannuated bonds do not carry any government guarantee and all such instruments have to face all market-related risks.

“Since these are investments in bonds, the government does not ensure any guarantee on them as such and if these are invested in stock markets, they carry the market risks as applicable. It is between the bond issuer and bond holders…,” the Finance Ministry said in response to IANS queries.

Thousands of crores of money of more than 15 lakh employees of both public and private sector companies have exposure to IL&FS bonds.

However, queries sent to the EPFO Commissioner and Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar remained unanswered.

Over 50 funds that manage retirement benefits of over 15 lakh employees have exposure to IL&FS. PF trusts of state electricity boards, public sector undertakings (PSUs) and banks are among them. The provident and pension fund trusts have filed intervening applications in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) stating that they stand to lose all the money since the bonds are under unsecured debt.

Usually, retirement funds have a low-risk appetite and invest in “AAA” rated bonds (which IL&FS bonds used to be once upon a time) and get assured returns with low interest rates.

The worries of pension and provident fund trusts come from the classification of IL&FS profiling its companies as to which can meet the dues obligations. Many important trust managing funds of PSUs like MMTC, IOC, Hudco, SBI and IDBI are among those filing petitions. From private sector, HUL and Asian Paints are among the petitioners.

IL&FS is currently under resolution process at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The process will decide under Section 53 of the IBC the order of priority for distribution of proceeds of the process.

The beleaguered company has informed the NCLT that of the 302 entities in the group, 169 are Indian companies, out of which only 22 are emerging as those which can meet all obligations (green), while 10 firms can pay to only secured creditors (Amber). There are 38 companies of IL&FS (red) which cannot meet any obligations of payment, and 120 entities are still being assessed.

These PF and provident funds trusts are worried that if payment is limited to secured creditors, then only financial creditors like banks will receive the dues while unsecured bond-holders will be get any payments.

IL&FS bonds attracted investments by PF trusts as it had the shareholding of SBI and LIC giving its bonds the comfort factor.

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Sachin Bansal invests Rs 650 crore in Ola

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Sachin-Bansal

Bengaluru, Feb 19 (IANS) Internet entrepreneur and Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal has invested Rs 650 crore, or about $92 million, in ride-hailing platform Ola in his personal capacity as investor, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

This investment is part of Ola’s larger Series J funding round. It is also the largest investment by an individual in Ola to date, it said.

“Ola is one of India’s most promising consumer businesses that is creating deep impact and lasting value for the ecosystem. On one hand, they have emerged as a global force in the mobility space and on the other, they continue to build deeper for various needs of a billion Indians through their platform, becoming a trusted household name today,” Bansal said.

He further said he has known Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal as entrepreneur and friend over the years and that he has great respect for what he and the team at Ola have built in 8 years.

“We are extremely thrilled to have Sachin onboard Ola as an investor. Sachin is an icon of entrepreneurship and his experience of building one of India’s most respected businesses ground up, is unparalleled,” Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said.

Ola integrates city transportation for customers and drivers onto a mobile technology platform ensuring convenient, transparent, safe and quick service fulfilment, the statement added.

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