Morning Brief: Boost For Modi’s Black Money Clamp; Record Bad Loan; IOC To Double Refining Capacity

by Swarajya Staff - Aug 7, 2017 06:00 AM +05:30 IST
Morning
Brief: Boost For Modi’s Black Money Clamp; Record Bad Loan; IOC To Double
Refining CapacityPrime Minister Narendra Modi. (GettyImages)

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

Big Boost For Modi’s Black Money Drive: In a major boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his fight against black money that is stashed away in overseas tax havens, Switzerland has found India’s data security and confidentiality laws “adequate” for entering into an automatic exchange of information pact. This move will open a continuous access to details about alleged black money hoarders in once-all-secret Swiss banks. In a detailed notification and fact sheet published in its official gazette, the Swiss government has also cited decisions by other financial centres like Liechtenstein and Bahamas to enter into similar pacts.

Chabahar Port A Gateway To Golden Opportunities, Says Gadkari: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that once Chabahar Port in Iran becomes operational, it will be a gateway to golden opportunities. Deputed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Road Transport and Shipping Minister Gadkari is in Tehran to attend the oath taking ceremony of President Hassan Rouhani for the second term. "Talks are on for building railways and roads through Chabahar till Afghanistan and then we have access to Russia. Once Chabahar is operationalised, which we are hopeful to be in 12 to 18 months time, it will prove to be a gateway to golden opportunities to boost trade and business," Gadkari said. The pact envisages establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs.

India Will Eliminate Illiteracy In Five Years: Union Human Resources and Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said that India would eliminate illiteracy in the next five years. “There was a literacy rate of 18 per cent in the post Independence era. Today, it has gone up to 80 per cent and I guarantee that within the next five years, it will be 100 per cent. There will be no illiteracy in the country,” he said. Javadekar was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the ‘Festival of Education’ that was jointly organised by the Rajasthan government and Gems Education India. He spoke about roping in youngsters and emphasised on making learning more enjoyable in order to keep a check on dropouts.

Bad Loan: Public Sector Banks Write Off Record Rs 81,683 Crore: According to data released by the Finance Ministry, public sector banks (PSBs) wrote off a record Rs 81,683 crore worth of bad loans in the financial year that ended in March 2017, a jump of more than 41 per cent over the previous year’s write-off amount of Rs 57,586 crore despite a series of steps to contain non-performing assets (NPAs). In the past couple of years, PSBs incurred combined net losses of over Rs 19,529 crore, even as the government capital infusion during these two years, at Rs 47,915 crore, was the highest in the last decade. The gross NPA of banks has risen to 9.6 per cent (of total advances) in March 2017, from 9.2 per cent in September 2016, the Reserve Bank of India data showed.

IOC Planning To Double Refining Capacity: In a move aimed at becoming the refining destination, state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is planning to nearly double oil refining capacity to 150 million tonnes (MT) by 2030. "In line with India's aspirations to become a refining hub, IOC plans to raise its refining capacity from the current 80.7 million tonnes per annum to around 150 million tonnes per annum by 2030, through both brownfield expansions and greenfield capacity creation," chairman Sanjiv Singh said in the company's latest annual report. "As part of its quest to become an integrated energy major, IOC is expanding its upstream portfolio of domestic and overseas oil and gas blocks to be able to source at least 10 per cent of its crude oil requirements from its own assets in the medium term," Singh said.

400 Executives Accept Cognizant’s Voluntary Separation Package: Nasdaq-listed technology firm Cognizant has said that about 400 senior executives have accepted the company’s voluntary separation package (VSP). With this move, the US-based company is expected to save about $60 million annually. Cognizant has a significant chunk of its total 2.56 lakh workforce in India and it is estimated that of the 400 people who opted for the separation, a large number could be from India. Cognizant president Rajeev Mehta, however, said the company is investing “tens of millions of dollars” this year to continuously deepen and broaden skills in areas like analytics, artificial intelligence, data science and digital security.

Israel Set To Ban Al Jazeera: After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Arab satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera of inciting violence, Israel said on Sunday it plans to ban Qatari channel from operating in the country. Netanyahu had said on 27 July that he wanted Al Jazeera expelled amid tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site. Communications Minister Ayoob Kara said he plans to revoke the press credentials of Al Jazeera journalists. Kara has also asked cable and satellite networks to block Al Jazeera transmissions and is seeking legislation to ban them altogether. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have recently closed Al Jazeera’s local offices, while the channel and its affiliate sites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.

Pence Denies Presidential Ambitions, Says NYT Report ‘Fake News’: US Vice-President Mike Pence on Sunday denied a New York Times report suggesting he is eyeing a 2020 run for president, calling it “disgraceful and offensive.” Pence called the article “fake news” and said his entire team was focused on advancing Trump’s agenda and seeing him re-elected in 2020. “Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd.” The New York Times story said some Republicans were moving to form a “shadow campaign” for 2020 as though President Donald Trump were not involved. It said multiple advisers to Pence “have already intimated to party donors that he would plan to run if Mr Trump did not.”

MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS

Why A Shakeout In India’s Venture Capital Industry Is Long Overdue: Snapdeal sale to Flipkart would have given investor SoftBank a significant stake in India’s largest e-commerce firm. A shakeout in the venture capital industry is overdue, as the responsibility for the downturn in start-up ecosystem lies as much with investors as start-ups.

Transformation Of Financial Reporting — An Ind AS Era: The transition to Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS) has entailed significant changes in the reporting framework. The transition to Ind AS intends to narrow the gap between global reporting frameworks and that of entities in India.

Fairness And Dignity In Livelihoods: While ensuring employers have the flexibility they need, Indian laws ensuring fair treatment of all workers must be more effective than they are. The government must focus on policies that will generate more dignified and sustainable livelihoods than the Indian economy is producing at present.

America’s Dangerous Anti-Iran Posturing: Iran is on the same side as the US in opposing the Islamic State and is a democracy. The caricature of Iran as the ‘tip of the spear’ of global terrorism is dangerous. It could lead to another Middle East war.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

SC’s Refusal To Order Probe Into Ethnic Cleansing Of Kashmiri Pandits Is Very, Very Disturbing: The Supreme Court’s verdict that the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits cannot be taken up for criminal investigation is worrying on many counts.

We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!

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