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State finances show worrying trend: Report

Total taxes collected by 17 states grew 15.8 per cent YoY in Aug’19, marking their fastest growth in eight months, as per the report.

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New Delhi, Oct 17 : Reflecting slowdown in the economy, monthly finances of 17 state governments show worrying trend with total receipts growing only 4.1 per cent in the first five months of the current fiscal, compared to same period a year ago.

“For the first five months of FY20, while capital expenditure grew only 0.6 per cent year-on-year, core revenue spending (excluding interest payments) grew 7.6 per cent YoY. Thus, total spending of states grew at a nine-year low of 5.8 per cent in Apr-Aug’19,” brokerage firm Motilal Oswal said in a report.

Total taxes collected by 17 states grew 15.8 per cent YoY in Aug’19, marking their fastest growth in eight months, as per the report.

“In fact, states’ taxes have been volatile in FY20; taxes declined for the first time in 14 months in May’19 (-10.6 per cent), then grew slightly in Jun’19 (+3.6 per cent) before declining sharply again in Jul’19 (-12.1 per cent),” the brokerage said.

The cumulative data for the first five months of FY20, however, does not show encouraging signs. Tax receipts of 17 states grew only 1.4 per cent YoY in Apr-Aug’19. But as a result of faster growth in grants-in-aid from the Centre, states’ total receipts grew 4.1 per cent YoY during the period.

There are, however, striking divergences among the states. West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Haryana saw more than 20 per cent growth in total receipts, while Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh saw sharp declines in Apr-Aug’19.

“Although states’ receipts and spending were subdued in the first five months of FY20, higher growth in spending (in YoY terms) has led to higher fiscal deficit in FY20 year to date,” the brokerage said.

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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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