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The country’s economy stagnant, no investment coming in: Cong

It will take time for this message to reach people, for the false claims made by the government to be understood in totality.



New Delhi, Apr 15 : The Congress today sought to deflate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim of 7 per cent GDP growth, saying the country’s economy is stagnant with no investments coming in.

Quoting official figures, Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh said bank credit growth is lowest in 60 years and power plants are functioning at 60 per cent capacity – lowest in last 15 years, which shows that the Indian economy is not taking off and the government needs to take this challenge seriously.

“The prime minister may claim that GDP is growing at 7 per cent, but indicators show a stagnant economy. The rise in growth is not visible and resultantly investments coming into the country are stagnant.

“The condition of the economy is a matter of serious concern and the government must look into the challenges faced by the economy,” he said.

Ramesh said if there are no investments, the employment opportunities are not there. This, he said, is the biggest challenge before this government.

He, however, lamented that the prime minister and finance minister have no reply to offer on this, both outside and inside Parliament.

“Everything is not well and things are deteriorating and there is no improvement in the Indian economy,” he said.

Taking a dig at Modi, Ramesh said if the offtake is not there, the economy will take off. He also recalled how prime minister talked of “not cashless, but less-cash” while talking of promoting digital transactions.

“If offtake is not there, there will be no takeoff. There is no offtake of power and bank credit when the PM talks of takeoff,” he said.

The Congress leader said employment opportunities in the country stands at a new low, with only 4.4 lakh new jobs being generated in the organised sector during the first two years of the Modi government.

This, in comparison, is far less than 21 lakh jobs generated during the first two years of UPA-2 government, he said, adding “We created five times more jobs”.

Citing the RBI data for 2016-17, he said it shows that bank credit has grown at 5 per cent, the slowest rate in the last 60 years.

Similarly, he said, the Power Ministry data shows that in 2016-17 there is lowest plant load factor in 15 years and said they are on an average generating power at 60 per cent of their installed capacity.

“These two data shows that prime minister’s words that Indian economy is taking off is absolutely wrong,” he said.

“No point of the Prime Minister and Finance Minister taking refuge in figures of GDP of 7-7.5 per cent which is meaningless and frankly the world does not believe in India’s GDP numbers,” he said.

Ramesh said the Congress party will take this message to the people across the country that all is not well with the country’s economy under the present government despite the tall claims made by the prime minister and the finance minister.

Asked why this message is not going across to people as had been shown in repeated Congress defeats, the Congress spokesperson said it takes time for the public to realise that there is no pension, no food, no employment under MGNREGA.

He cited the example of Rajasthan where 30 per cent of those entitled for wheat rations are not getting wheat as aadhar card had been made mandatory there.

“It will take time for this message to reach people, for the false claims made by the government to be understood in totality.

“People are already beginning to feel that there is already no improvement and there is an atmosphere of enormous fear is prevailing in the country. People are not speaking as freely now as they were speaking 4-5 years ago,” he said.


Global sell-off drags Indian equities to 5-month lows




Mumbai, March 24 : A global sell-off triggered by trade protectionist measures imposed by major world economies unleashed the bears in the Indian equity markets during the week, pushing the key indices — NSE Nifty50 and BSE Sensex — to their 5-month lows.

Apart from the prospects of escalating trade wars, the risk-taking appetite of investors was marred by rising crude oil prices, the ongoing turmoil in the domestic banking system as well as the uncertainty on the political situation in the country.

On a weekly basis, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE shed 579.46 points or 1.75 per cent to close at 32,596.54 points — its lowest closing level since October 23, 2017.

On the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the wider Nifty50 ended below the psychologically important 10,000-mark and closed trade at 9,998.05 points — down 197.1 points or 1.93 per cent from its previous week’s close — its lowest closing level since October 11, 2017.

“Benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty fell 1.75 per cent and 1.93 per cent respectively during the week, posting their longest stretch of weekly losses in 16 months as the domestic market joined a global sell-off triggered by prospects of a trade war,” Arpit Jain, Assistant Vice President at Arihant Capital Markets, told IANS.

According to D.K. Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of SMC Investments and Advisors, the global stock market traded lower after US President Donald Trump announced sweeping tariffs on Chinese goods, a move that has heightened concerns that the global trade war will escalate.

“Back at home, dragged by escalating trade tensions among global economies, the Indian stock market too witnessed selling pressure amid other domestic factors. Since the beginning of the year domestic market witnessed some hiccups on the back of imposition of LTCG (long term capital gains) tax, liquidity issues, rising bond yields and volatile global markets,” Aggarwal told IANS.

“Also, a surge in crude oil prices impacted the market sentiment. The Indian rupee, too, witnessed a volatile move ahead of Fed rate-hike and global trade war concerns,” he added.

On the currency front, the rupee weakened by eight paise to close at 65.01 against the US dollar from its previous week’s close at 64.93.

“Sentiments were affected by rising crude oil prices, bond yields and a troubled domestic banking system. Uncertainty around the political situation in the country added to the woes, and collectively dragged the sentiment across the street,” Gaurav Jain, Director at Hem Securities, told IANS.

Provisional figures from the stock exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors purchased scrips worth Rs 2,524.13 crore and the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) scrips worth Rs 211.91 crore during the week.

Figures from the National Securities Depository (NSDL) revealed that foreign portfolio investors invested in equities worth Rs 2,060.04 crore, or $316.99 million, during March 19-23.

“The market breadth was negative in three out of the five trading sessions of the week. The top sectoral losers were realty, metal, Bank Nifty and pharma indices. There were no gainers,” said Deepak Jasani, Head – Retail Research, HDFC Securities.

The top weekly Sensex gainers were: NTPC (up 2.90 per cent at Rs 170.15); IndusInd Bank (up 1.36 per cent at Rs 1,750.20); Power Grid (up 1.04 per cent at Rs 194.25); Hindustan Unilever (up 0.05 per cent at Rs 1,299.75); and Larsen and Toubro (up 0.01 per cent at Rs 1,267.75).

The losers were: Yes Bank (down 8.37 per cent at Rs 286.70); ICICI Bank (down 7.48 per cent at Rs 275.80); State Bank India (down 7.13 per cent at Rs 234.60); Tata Steel (down 5.65 per cent at Rs 566.60); and Axis Bank (down 4.29 per cent at Rs 501).

(Porisma P. Gogoi can be contacted at [email protected])

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As projects pile up, Railways turn to DPRs for those worth over Rs 50 crore




New Delhi, March 24: Faced with massive cost-overruns and procedural wrangles over certain projects, Indian Railways has decided against approving any works above Rs 50 crore without a detailed project report (DPR).

All works costing above Rs 50 crore shall be approved only after preparation of DPRs that contain detailed estimates, except for new lines and gauge conversion, according to a directive issued by the Railway Board last week.

There are more than Rs 1 lakh crore worth of projects pending — some of them for years — across the country due to clearance hurdles and cost-escalations, adding to the financial burden of the cash-strapped Railways.

“Many projects have been pending for years without any substantial progress because these were taken up without any proper planning and detailed estimates,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Several projects are stuck with issues like forest clearances, land acquisition, coastal zone regulation and other local issues.

“All this has not only caused cost-escalations but has resulted in a heavy backlog and burden on the financial condition of the Railways,” he added.

As per norms, budgetary allocations have to be made for each of these projects every year. If the projects are dropped, then the money allotted for them can be diverted to profitable and viable projects. But these can’t be deleted by the Railways as they were part of the budget and passed in Parliament and withdrawal has to happen after approval of Parliament.

According to last week’s decision, all these issues would be taken into account in the DPR and the project would be sanctioned on the basis of the detailed estimate now.

If a DPR is prepared, only serious projects will come up and no frivolous or non-feasible ones will be taken up for consideration, the official said.

In order to strengthen its project execution and monitoring mechanism, the Railways has also launched a web-enabled remote eye monitoring system developed by Rail Vikash Nigam Ltd (RVNL).

The national transporter has asked the RVNL to monitor important projects with the use of drones and project management software.

RVNL, a special purpose vehicle created by the Railways for execution of engineering works, has also been asked to develop a special web-enabled project management software to monitor rail projects which can be integrated with monitoring of plans, remote eye monitoring system and images captured by drones.

(Arun Kumar Das is a senior Delhi-based freelance journalist. He can be contacted at [email protected])


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Nifty50 closes below 10k mark, Sensex sheds over 400 points




Mumbai, March 23: Escalating fears of trade war leading to a sell-off in the global markets spooked domestic investors and pulled the Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) below the 10,000-level on Friday while the BSE Sensex provisionally closed over 400 points lower.

According to market observers, selling pressure was observed across all sectors led by banking, metals, automobile, capital goods and healthcare stocks.

The NSE Nifty50 provisionally closed lower by 116.70 points or 1.15 per cent at 9,998.05 points (at 3.30 p.m.).

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 32,650.89 points, closed at 32,596.54 points — down 409.73 points or 1.24 per cent from the previous session’s close.

The Sensex fell over 500 points to touch a low of 32,483.84 points during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth was bearish with 2,093 declines and 603 advances.

Index heavyweights like Axis Bank, Yes Bank, ICICI Bank, State Bank of India and Bajaj Auto were amongst the top losers on the BSE.

On Thursday, negative cues on the back of global protectionist measures, higher interest rates in the US and a hike in crude oil prices, along with selling pressure in banking, auto and capital goods stocks depressed the key indices.

The Nifty50 fell by 40.50 points or 0.40 per cent to close at 10,114.75 points while the Sensex closed at 33,006.27 points — down 129.91 points or 0.39 per cent.


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