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Lacklustre festival season awaits India Inc, projections gloomy

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New Delhi, July 28 A lacklustre festival season is set to greet India Inc. this year. The impact of a widespread slowdown in the economy is starting to show in the balance sheets of Indian corporates.

To make matters worse, projections for the coming quarters give no indications about a pick up in economic growth and sales.

From toothpaste makers to truck manufacturers, all are facing the pinch of the decline in private consumption. It is resulting in capacity reduction and job cuts.

Much of what has happened and what could be expected in the upcoming quarterly corporate earnings can be derived from the language of the company’s comments on the state of the Indian economy and their performance.

This is bad news for companies, especially in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), consumer durables, electronics and automobile sectors, as a substantial portion of their annual sales come during the festival months of September and October, stretching on to November.

JSW Steel, in a statement, said: “Weaker automotive sales volumes and consumer durables sales in recent months is a matter of concern.” Dropping clear signals about the impact of slowdown, the company said: “Indian economic activities during the quarter were underpinned by a general lack of credit availability, resulting in muted business sentiments across various consuming sectors”.

Describing the current market situation as “unprecedented”, Tata Motors said “with the budget announcement and upcoming festive season, we expect some tail winds for the remaining FY20”.

India’s largest commercial vehicle maker, Tata Motors has nearly double its loss in the June quarter over the same period last year, saying that “domestic auto industry has declined sharply and significantly”.

The country’s largest passenger car maker Maruti Suzuki said that the demand envi ronments is “uncertain”. The company saw a 27.3 per cent decline in its year-on-year (y-o-y) net profit.

Ambuja Cement too said that “pace of construction activities slowed down due to liquidity issues in the market and weak demand”. In its outlook, it said that the government’s current budgetary allocation i n infrastructure development, construction of concrete roads, interlinking of rivers, irrigation projects and affordable housing is expected to have a favourable impact on cement demand.

FMCG giant Hindustan Uniliver, which saw a significant decline in sales volumes during the June quarter said that “the near term demand will remain subdued given macroeconomic conditions.”

Rural sectors, which constitute one-third of Hindustan Uniliver’s market, was the key reason for the company’s tepid performance. The revival of the distressed sector would be a positive for the FMCG sector.

One of India’s largest automotive coating companies, Asian Paints said their automo tive coatings JV (PPG-AP) business was affected by the “severe slowdown” being witnessed in the automobile industry.

“Even the Industrial Coatings JV (AP-PPG) business was impacted by demand slowdown. Benign raw material prices, however, supported the margins for the entire coatings business,” it said.

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OYO announces bug bounty programme to strengthen security

OYO has accordingly developed an improved responsible disclosure policy to encourage honest and responsible reporting of any potential risks.

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Oyo Rooms

New Delhi, Feb 22 : Hospitality unicorn OYO has said that it will introduce a bug bounty programme towards ensuring that there is a credible and continuous flow of positive feedback from independent security groups and individual researchers to mitigate against any bug or shortfall in the company’s systems.

This is in line with the established practice of recognition and reward for ethical hackers who help responsibly investigate shortfalls within the tech architecture of several tech companies including the likes of Facebook, Google etc., OYO said in a statement this week.

OYO has accordingly developed an improved responsible disclosure policy to encourage honest and responsible reporting of any potential risks.

Additionally, OYO has partnered with a specialised cybersecurity startup, AppSecure/Hackerhive, that connects companies and ethical hackers to help the former discover and fix security vulnerabilities.

“In today’s digital world, a cyberattack is a real concern. Hence, in line with our efforts to continually improve, we are investing in ethical hacking programmes as well,” said Anil Goel, Group Chief Technology and Product Officer at OYO.

OYO said it has also joined hands with other technology companies to address the issue of increasing online frauds and save guests from cybercrimes.

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Fiscal deficit as GDP percentage touched 4.56% in Dec: Finance Ministry data

Out of total government expenditure of Rs 21.09 lakh crore, which is 76 per cent of the BE, revenue expenditure was Rs 18.54 lakh crore and capital expenditure Rs 2.55 lakh crore.

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National debt under Modi govt surges

New Delhi, Feb 21 : Fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP touched 4.56 per cent as of December 2019 with total receipts pegged at Rs 11.77 lakh crore against a higher expenditure of Rs 21.09 lakh crore, data of government accounts showed.

For the fiscal 2019-20 (till March 31, 2020), the fiscal deficit has been revised to 3.8 per cent now.

Gross tax collection was Rs 13.83 lakh crore (53 per cent of the Budget estimates). The net tax revenue of the Central government was at Rs 9.04 lakh crore which was 55 per cent of the BE, after deducting devolution to the states to the tune of Rs 4.76 lakh crore and Rs 2,480 crore towards NDRF.

The non-tax revenue accrued to the Centre was Rs 2.41 lakh crore whereas other receipts were pegged at Rs 31,000 crore. The government released Rs 54,621.14 crore to the states as their share in central taxes and duties as well as Rs 6,989.38 crore as recommended by the Finance Commission in January.

In December 2019, the states received Rs 7,499.89 crore as recommended by the Finance Commission and the government released Rs 2,714.03 crore towards various schemes. In January 2020, the states received much lower Rs 101.29 crore.

Out of total government expenditure of Rs 21.09 lakh crore, which is 76 per cent of the BE, revenue expenditure was Rs 18.54 lakh crore and capital expenditure Rs 2.55 lakh crore.

Fiscal deficit was pegged at Rs 8.07 lakh crore, which was 11 per cent of BE.

“As a percentage of the GDP, fiscal deficit is 4.56 per cent. The revenue receipts are sufficient to cover only 56 per cent of the expenditure,” the Accounts Review Report of the Finance Ministry said.

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Mumbai BJP leader’s ‘jumla’ with flat buyers in Trump Jr.’s name!

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Donald Trump MSNBC

Mumbai, Feb 21 : Hundreds of high-net-worth flat buyers in Mumbai have accused a realty major — founded by Mumbai Bharatiya Janata Party President Mangal Prabhat Lodha — of taking them ‘for a ride after they booked posh homes at his prestigious project ‘The Park in Lower Parel, which also houses the ultra-exclusive Trump Tower.

Several complaints — copies accessed by IANS — have been filed with the Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA), alleging various discrepancies and delays in the project, ostensibly in connivance with officials of the Shiv Sena-controlled Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).

Despite repeated attempts by IANS, Lodha Group’s top officials including CEO-cum-Managing Director Abhishek Lodha and the official spokesperson, did not respond for comments.

Interestingly, the matter has emerged barely three days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to roll out the red carpet for US President Donald Trump on his visit to India from Monday.

The complainants have accused Lodha Developers — also known as “Macrotech Developers Ltd” — of luring the gullible buyers in the name of the world-renowned ‘Trump’ brand, with an unbelievable offer of a ‘private jet aircraft service’, but later ‘cheated’ them though they have paid up 95 percent of the amounts.

The agitated buyers said they were promised delivery/possession of their flats in the project in Dec. 2017, but now the builder is not giving them a completed property, as committed.

“We have sunk in crores of rupees of our hard-earned monies, but have not got possession of our flats yet. The builder has obtained a ‘Part Occupation Certificate’ by making fraudulent claims to the MCGM, and on the basis of that, he is now forcing us to take possession of those ‘incomplete flats’ after taking the full payment,” one of the aggrieved buyers, who is a prominent Mumbai businessman, told IANS.

Among other things, the interiors of the posh flats in Wing No. 1 to 4 are incomplete, finishing works not given to the staircases, lifts, lobby and the common areas, which now the buyers “are expected to do it themselves”.

Irked by all this, the buyers demanded: “How the MCGM has issued the �Part OC’ without verifying the actual ground realities? This blatant illegality must be independently probed”.

It maybe recalled that in February 2018, US President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. had made a high-profile visit to Mumbai and cut a ribbon marking completion of construction of Mumbai’s first and only 78-storied ultra-luxury’Trump Tower’.

The 800-feet tall Trump Tower offers a magnificent view of the city and the Arabian Sea, and was touted as India’s first to offer the residents the facility of a ‘private jet’ aircraft service, attracting many wide-eyed wealthy buyers. (IANS report, 22-02-2018).

The builder said that world-famous interior designer Hirsch Bedner Associates would do the interiors for the flats in Trump Tower under the �Lodha Luxury Collection’.

“We are proud to announce that Trump Tower Mumbai has reached its highest level of construction. Mumbai has emerged as one of the most preferable destinations for luxury real estate and we are honoured to have a place within the city,” said a beaming Donald Trump Jr., Executive Vice-President of Trump Organisation at the ceremony.

Despite the initial big buzz among the rich and big daddies of corporate world over the super-exclusive Rs 7 crore (3 BHK flats) and Rs 10-crore (4 BHK flats), construction of which started in 2014, the buyers are left high and dry with their monies sunk in the project.

Among other things, the flat buyers were promised — besides the ‘private jet’ — white-gloved services, a spa, a private pool, a lounge, gym, central air-conditioning, penthouses on the upper floors, Trump Card Privilege Programme, a seven-tier security system, etc.

“Not only these, we were promised many other amenities inside and outside the homes, but now the builder is going back on all this and forcing us to accept the possession of the incomplete venture based on the MCGM’s Part-OC,” claimed another flat buyer.

According to the complaints with Maha-RERA, there are many other irregularities and violations of the MCGM regulations, pertaining to the actual carpet areas, toilets, plans amended without permission of the flat buyers, and though many safety measures are not fully implemented, the customers are being compelled to take up possession based on the Part OC.

“Mumbai has witnessed many fires in high-rise buildings in recent times, resulting in many casualties and fatalities’ Who will be responsible if something happens here? Will the Trumps or Lodha compensate our losses if we take possession and live in this building under extremely hazardous conditions,” demanded one more agitated buyer.

The complainants rue that despite laws like RERA, developers merrily continue to arm-twist the home-buyers, and Lodha Developers is unilaterally claiming waiver of rights to any claims of the buyer if the buyers decides to pay up as per his demands.

This means that the buyer who has already paid up upto 95 per cent of the money is left with no options but to pay the balance out of fear of losing his entire money or the flat, given the builder’s political clout and money-power.

Incidentally, Mangal Prabhat Lodha and Abhishek Lodha are the son and grandson, respectively, of the late legal luminary and three-time BJP MP from Pali, Justice G. M. Lodha — the former Chief Justice of Guwahati High Court – who passed away 11 years ago.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])

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