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Home sales decline 25% in July-September: Report

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New Delhi, Oct 17 : Housing sales across major cities declined 25 per cent during the July-September quarter to 65,799 units, according to a report by Proptiger.com.

During the corresponding period of financial year 2018-19 (FY19), about 88,078 units were sold, the report released on Thursday said.

The report also said that new project launches in the country declined 45 per cent in the July-September quarter of the financial year 2019-20 (FY20), when compared to the levels seen in the same quarter last year.

“Home sales reduced by 25 per cent as compared to the corresponding quarter last financial year. Quarter-on-quarter comparisons also showed decline in both sales and launches wherein new launches fell 32 per cent and home sales declined by 23 per cent,” it said.

A comparison of numbers between the first half of FY19 and FY20 also showed that home sales and new launches moved downwards. As compared to the sale of 1,70,715 units in the first half of FY19, only 1,51,764 units were sold in the same period in FY20, registering an 11 per cent fall.

Similarly, as against the launch of 1,37,146 fresh units in the first six months of FY19, only 83,662 units were launched in India’s nine cities in the first six months of FY20, a fall of 39 per cent, it added.

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Saudi Aramco flotation values oil giant at $1.7 trillion

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Riyadh, Nov 17 Saudi Arabia on Sunday placed a preliminary valuation on state oil company Aramco of between $1.6 trillion and $1.7 trillion.

The company has published an updated prospectus for its initial public offering (IPO), seeking more than $25 billion for the sale of 1.5 per cent of its shares, the BBC reported.

That would make it the world’s biggest IPO, coming from the world’s most profitable company

It is short of the $2 trillion valuation that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was reportedly keen to achieve.

“The base offer size will be 1.5% of the company’s outstanding shares,” the state-owned energy giant said in a statement on Sunday, adding that it set the price range at 30-32 Saudi riyals per share ($8-$8.5).

Individual retail investors, as well as big institutions, will have a chance to buy shares.

Aramco was initially expected to sell some 5 per cent of its shares on two exchanges, with a first listing of 2 per cent on the Kingdom’s stock exchange or Tadawul bourse, and then another 3 per cent on an overseas exchange.

The firm added that there were now no current plans for an international sale.

The Crown Prince is seeking to sell the shares to raise billions of dollars to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil by investing in non-energy industries, the BBC said.

In its prospectus released last week, the company lists a variety of investment risks ranging from terrorist attacks to geopolitical tensions in a region dominated by Saudi-Iran rivalry.

The 600-page prospectus also includes the government’s control over oil output as another potential risk.

After the flotation, Aramco will not list any more shares for six months.

The sale of the company, first mooted four years ago, has been overshadowed by delays and criticism of corporate transparency at Saudi Arabia’s crown jewel.

Aramco last year posted $111 billion in net profit. In the first nine months of this year, its net profit dropped 18 per cent to $68 billion.

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India may soon have personal data protection law

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New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) India may soon have a law on personal data protection as the government plans to take up the bill during the upcoming winter session of Parliament starting Monday.

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has already said that the government plans to soon introduce the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 in Parliament after public consultations.

The draft bill was released last year and was immediately opposed by several global technology companies. Their contention was that it would affect their business in the country apart from driving cost of operations. The proposals are mostly out of a report submitted by Justice B.N. Srikrishna in July 2018. The final draft of the bill is still not known.

But the draft bill which was made public last year for comments said businesses were required to seek explicit consent for the data they collect on consumers, mandatorily obtain consent from consumers to use their data sparingly and only for the purposes stated, apart from storing sensitive consumer data only within Indian borders. It did not mention what will be sensitive information in legal terms.

In recent times several cases of user privacy intrusion cases have come to light, including WhatsApp data-protection failure and privacy breach, creating a public outrage and debate over data security in the country.

The bill suggests a fine of up to Rs 15 crore or 4 per cent of the firm’s turnover in the case of a breach and setting up of a data protection authority.

Recently at the Commonwealth Law Ministers Conference in Colombo, Prasad said: “In India, we view privacy seriously and informational privacy is also integral to that. It means a person must have control over his data and its commercial usage.”

According to the minister, any data protection law should be technology agnostic, must be based upon the element of free consent, no abuse of consent beyond the permissible limits, requisite data protection authorities, and a fair mechanism for data processing.

In October WhatsApp confirmed that Indian human rights activists and journalists were among those targeted by an Israeli spyware and the government had asked the company to explain the breach that had targeted Indians amongst others.

Those targeted by the WhatsApp hacking in India included human rights activists who were arrested over their alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon Dalit riots near Pune in January last year and some journalists. Of 1,400 affected users, over 20 are academics, lawyers, Dalit activists and journalists from India.


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Weak governance in PSBs resulting in high NPAs: Shaktikanta Das

Das highlighted that the increase in NPAs was significantly higher in PSBs as compared to their private and foreign counterparts.

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Shaktikanta Das

Ahmedabad/New Delhi, Nov 16 : Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das on Saturday called for strong corporate governance culture and accountability in public sector banks (PSBs) to check ballooning non-performing assets (NPAs).

“Many of the problems that currently seem to affect the PSBs such as the elevated levels of NPA, capital shortfalls, frauds and inadequate risk management can mostly be attributed to the manifestation of underlying corporate governance issues,” the RBI Governor said at a conference in Ahmedabad.

Das further said that the role of independent boards in fostering a compliance culture by establishing the proper systems of control, audit and distinct reporting of business and risk management has been found wanting in some PSBs, leading to mounting of NPAs.

Besides, the RBI Governor noted that the understanding of risks from a business perspective by the boards in some banks has been inadequate due to skill gaps and competency issues.

Das highlighted that the increase in NPAs was significantly higher in PSBs as compared to their private and foreign counterparts.

PSBs, probably to fulfil the additional social objective of their mandate, took higher exposure in some of the critical sectors of the economy such as mining, iron and steel, and infrastructure.

“NPA levels in these sectors shot up as all these sectors suffered external shocks leading to the respective stress — mining and energy was hit by the cancellation of allocation of coal blocks, while iron and steel sector faced cost pressures due to dumping of cheaper steel from China,” Das added.

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