News digest:
$102 trillion package and more

Business Standard
28th December

  • India’s automobile industry reported that sales had declined in December, indicating a recovery is unlikely soon. Goods and services tax collection in December crossed the Rs 1 trillion mark for the second straight month, giving the government comfort about its finances. Fallen auto industry titan Carlos Ghosn fled to Lebanon, months before he was to go on trial in Japan while on bail. Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant under fire across the globe, was allowed to join India’s trial runs for 5G spectrum. Here is more on what made news this week.
  • Goods and services tax (GST) collection crossed the Rs 1 trillion mark for the second straight month in December, but fell short of the Rs 1.1 trillion target set for the last four months of 2019-20. The latest numbers, however, indicated the stabilisation of revenue collection owing to anti-evasion measures introduced by the government. The mop-up stood at Rs 1.031 trillion in December, slightly lower than the seven-month high of Rs 1.034 trillion collected in November.
  • Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a plan to invest ₹102 trillion over five years to develop social and economic infrastructure to boost economic growth. The program will include existing projects in the energy, road and railway sectors in the pipeline, she said. Private companies will account for 22 per cent-25 per cent of the investments, with the central government and states contributing the rest.
  • Automobile sales continued to slip in December despite an uptick in the two preceding months, worrying industry that a recovery in the Indian car market is not yet in sight. Maruti Suzuki India, the country’s biggest carmaker, ended 2019 with a drop of 12.3 per cent in its annual sales. The fall in Maruti’s numbers was the steepest in almost a decade, and it came on the back of poor economic growth and a slowdown in overall consumption.
  • State Bank of India (SBI) is considering floating a distressed asset fund in 2020, roping in a global partner to raise money from international investors. SBICAP Ventures is creating capabilities to manage the fund, said Rajnish Kumar, chairman of the state-owned bank. The fund could be up to $2 billion in size and it’s expected to be on the lines of the government’s alternative investment fund for distressed housing projects.
  • Ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn confirmed he fled to Lebanon, saying he wouldn't be "held hostage" by a "rigged" system. Ghosn's abrupt departure marks the latest dramatic twist in a year-old saga that has shaken the global auto industry, jeopardised the alliance of Nissan Motor Co Ltd and top shareholder Renault SA and cast a harsh light on Japan's judicial system.
  • The government said all telecom equipment manufacturers will be allowed to join 5G trials in the country, giving a chance to China’s Huawei, which has been facing global scrutiny over network security concerns. Approval for 5G trials doesn’t, however, mean that Huawei’s equipment will be cleared for a commercial rollout in the country.
  • Banks need not fear government investigators for “genuine, bonafide decisions", said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, reiterating her government’s commitment that businesses will need not be harassed. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), like the Income Tax department, would ensure that its notices to bankers carried a director identification number. This would remove the possibility of unauthorised communication and harassment, she said.

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A few links for further reading

Hard path to growth

The signals for the economy are not positive: overall demand is yet to pick up; the share of total exports in India’s GDP is declining, and industrial output pattern remains worrying.

Small savings scheme

Investors breathed a sigh of relief when the government announced that interest rates on these instruments would not be revised for the fourth quarter of the calendar year.

Invest and emigrate

The great Indian dream of settling abroad is achievable if one has a few crores to invest. Rich nations offer a variety of investment options in a quid pro quo arrangement: immigrants get a better quality of life and revenue from them helps these countries’ finances. Wealthy Indians, troubled by polluted cities and the red tape holding up entrepreneurship, may want a quick ticket out of the country. Sanjay Kumar Singh lists a range of options: from a Canadian province’s investor programme to America’s US EB-5 plan.

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