Morning
Brief: Modi To Review FDI Policy; SBI Cuts Fund Transfer Rates; Trump’s Paris
Accord U-Turn?Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (GettyImages)

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

Modi To Review FDI Policy: With an aim to remove bottlenecks to overseas inflows, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will review the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy today (Friday). The Commerce and Industry Ministry is scheduled to make a detailed presentation at the meeting on proposed changes to streamline the FDI in the country. The government is considering relaxing FDI norms in several sectors, including construction and retail. Proposal to ease rules in print media, construction, single brand and multi brand retail trading is also expected to be on the table.

Interest Rate Cuts On Cards? The Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex closed above the psychological 32,000-mark for the first time on Thursday as a fall in consumer inflation fuelled hopes of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India, which will meet next month for its monetary policy review. The 30-share Sensex rose 232.56 points to close at 32,037.38 with 26 constituents gaining ground. The broader 50-share Nifty of the National Stock Exchange closed at a new high of 9,891.70, up 75.60 points. “There is a case for a rate cut and bond markets have rallied on that basis. Especially after the June policy bond yields are down by 25 basis point,” said Axis Mutual Fund’s R Sivakumar.

SBI Slashes Electronic Funds Transfer Charges: The State Bank of India (SBI) will cut charges on electronic transfer of funds through national electronic funds transfer (NEFT) and real time gross settlement (RTGS) by up to 75 per cent from Saturday, benefiting nearly 5.27 crore customers. “The reduced charges will be applicable on the transactions done through internet banking and mobile banking services offered by the bank,” it said. According to the revised schedule, the NEFT charges on fund transfer of up to Rs 10,000 have been halved to Re 1, and to Rs 2 for up to Rs 1 lakh. The country’s largest lender has also waived charges for fund transfer of up to Rs 1,000 done through immediate payment service.

Education Related Services Would Be Exempt From GST: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified that services provided by an educational institution to its students, faculty and staff are fully exempt from GST. There would be no GST on annual subscription/fees charged as lodging/boarding charges by educational institutions from students for hostel, Jaitley tweeted. This put to rest rumours that 18 per cent GST will be levied on annual subscription/fees charged for lodging in hostels. Instead, there could be only reduction in tax rate on certain items of education, the government said.

Restarting Bofors Probe: The Bofors case is back to haunt the Congress again, after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was asked to put up the case regarding "systemic failure" in the Bofors contract as well as charges of bribe taking. India’s premier investigation agency will write to the government seeking an approval to restart probe into the Bofors payoffs on a direction from the Public Accounts Committee, which has been examining pending reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Bhartruhari Mahtab, who is heading a sub-committee examining the pending reports, on Thursday, asked CBI director Alok Verma whether the probe could be pursued afresh.

Siddaramaiah Orders Sasikala Bribery Probe: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah ordered a high-level inquiry into alleged irregularities at the central prison, including preferential treatment being given to All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) (Amma) leader V K Sasikala. This comes a day after Deputy Inspector General Prisons Administration D Roopa submitted a report to Director General of Police Prisons H N Sathyanarayana Rao, pointing at irregularities in the prison and rumours about exchange of Rs 2 crore with prison authorities to provide special services to Sasikala, a convict in a disproportionate assets case. Rao, however, termed her an “amateur and unaware of prison rules’’.

Saraswati – A Supercluster Of Galaxies Discovered: In a development, which could open up a new window for scientists to re-examine the theories of universe formation, Indian astrophysicists have discovered a massive supercluster of galaxies. Named Saraswati supercluster, it is located at a distance of four billion light years from the Earth. “Saraswati supercluster houses at least 40-42 galaxy-cluster and more than 10,000 galaxies. Existence of such large structures was not even thought of 10-15 years ago,” Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics director and leader of the team that made the discovery Somak Raychaudhury said.

Trump Hints At Changing Position On Paris Accord: US President Donald Trump has opened the door to a reversal of his decision on the Paris Agreement on climate change, saying that “something” could happen regarding the deal during his trip to France for Bastille Day. “If it happens that will be wonderful and if it doesn't that will be ok too,” Trump said at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. “We’ll see what happens,” he added. Trump withdrew the US from the global climate agreement which nearly 200 countries signed in December 2015 in an effort to combat global warming and help poorer countries adapt to an already-changed planet.

MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS

Vibrant Democracy, Dormant Parliament: India runs the danger of being the world’s most vibrant democracy with the world’s least effective, and perhaps most dormant, Parliament. Decades after the Indian republic’s founding, its Parliament, which should have been at its heart, has diminished in stature rather than evolving and maturing.

Rethinking Regulators And Regulatory Acts: Telecommunications is one sector where changes have been disruptive and innovative, covering a range of services removed from fixed-line telephones. It is of immediate concern to take a fresh look at prevailing regulatory Acts if regulators are to be effective in the markets of the future.

Time Is Ripe To Highlight The Reforms Needed On The Governance Of Public Sector Banks: Without a robust banking sector, double-digit economic growth will remain a chimera. So, reforming PSBs requires political courage. Hence the clarion call to this government to fix the governance problems in PSBs.

Transforming The Workforce For The Digital Era: Employees want to work from multiple locations using several devices including their personal ones. In order to stay ahead in this digital era, it is critical that organisations view workforce transformation as part of its overall digital transformation strategy.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

RBI Looks Clueless On Inflation After June’s 1.54 Per Cent; It Must Cut Rates Now: If you wait long enough for data to confirm your mistakes, they will surely do so. The RBI though, needs to stop waiting and should cut rates by at least 50 basis points immediately.

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

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