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IMF cuts India’s FY20 growth forecast to 6%

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New Delhi, Oct 15 : The outlook for the Indian economy for the current fiscal seems to get bleaker by the day as major economic forums and institutions have of late revised the country’s GDP forecast downwards, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) being the latest in the fray.

The IMF in its World Economic Outlook released on Tuesday cut its forecast for GDP growth for financial year 2019-20 to 6 per cent, a sharp revision from its previous outlook of 7 per cent growth, released in July.

It also reduced the growth forecast for the next fiscal by 0.2 percentage points to 7 per cent.

“India’s economy is set to grow at 6.1 percent in 2019, picking up to 7 percent in 2020. The downward revision relative to the April 2019 WEO of 1.2 percentage points for 2019 and 0.5 percentage point for 2020 reflects a weaker-than-expected outlook for domestic demand,” it said.

The report, however, added that growth will be supported by the “lagged effects” of monetary policy easing, a reduction in corporate income tax rates and recent measures to address corporate and environmental regulations.

The IMF’s outlook comes days after a World Bank report pegged India’s growth rate in FY 2019-20 at 6 per cent, and the Reserve Bank of India’s latest downward revision to 6.1 per cent.

It further observed that monetary policy and broad-based structural reforms should be used to address cyclical weakness and strengthen confidence in India. A credible fiscal consolidation path is needed to bring down India’s elevated public debt over the medium term, it added.

“This should be supported by subsidy-spending rationalisation and tax base enhancing measures. Governance of public sector banks and the efficiency of their credit allocation needs strengthening, and the public sector’s role in the financial system needs to be reduced.”

Reforms to hiring and dismissal regulations would help incentivise job creation and absorb the country’s large demographic dividend, the IMF said, adding that land reforms should also be enhanced to encourage and expedite infrastructure development.

The IMF’s global outlook, also weakened as it projected the world economy to grow at 3.0 per cent in 2019, 0.2 percentage point lower than its previous estimate.

“The world economy is projected to grow at 3.0 percent in 2019 a significant drop from 2017-18 for emerging market and developing economies as well as advanced economies — before recovering to 3.4 percent in 2020,” the IMF’s outlook said.

It, however, projected a a slightly higher global growth rate for the period of 2021-24.

“This global growth pattern reflects a major downturn and projected recovery in a group of emerging market economies. By contrast, growth is expected to moderate into 2020 and beyond for a group of systemic economies comprising the United States, euro area, China, and Japan, which together account for close to half of global GDP.”

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Sensex adds 135 pts in early trade, PSU banks gain

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Mumbai, Nov 18 The benchmark Sensex advanced by 135 points during the early trade on Monday led by PSU bank stocks.

It opened higher at 40,431.08,from its Friday’s close of 40,356.69. The Nifty also added 35.80 pts to trade at 11,931.25.

“Indian markets showed some initial gains aided by continued momentum in telecom stocks over reports of the government considering a floor on tariffs,” said Deepak Jasani of HDFC Securities.

SBI, beneficiary of telecom sector respite and Essar steel resolution, and BPCL surged after FM’s statement of targeting completion of its divestment by March, Jasani added.

Bharti Airtel advanced over 3 per cent to claim the top gainer’s spot followed by State Bank of India, by nearly 2 per cent.

Foreign Portfolio Investors sold Rs 1,008.37 crore worth of stocks on Friday while the Domestic Investors bought scrips worth Rs 537.74 crore.

Yes Bank, Mahindra and Mahindra, ONGC were the top losers during the early trade.

The US markets closed higher as investors remained positive on progress seen in US-China trade talks.

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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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