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Covid impact: Capex growth by Centre, states drops to 2%

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Growth chart. (File Photo: IANS)
Growth chart. (File Photo: IANS)

Call it the Covid-19 impact or rising bill for maintaining the government, the total capital spending of Centre and 14 Indian states (accounting for 63 per cent of total state budget) has fallen off the cliff in the April-June quarter, and has grown by a mere 2 per cent level over last year.

As per the monthly accounts available for 14 states, while their total spending in Q1 FY21 stood at 18.4 per cent of budget estimate (BE), similar to that in previous years, the spending growth was entirely led by a 9.7 per cent YoY increase in revenue spending.

On the other hand, states’ capital spending (including loans and advances) contracted a strong 43.5 per cent YoY last quarter, marking the fourth contraction in the past five quarters.

What this shows is that state governments spent more to maintain its size and clearing debt during pandemic rather than spending on capital activities that prop up economic activities, generates jobs and help propel the growth momentum.

“Somehow states have to get more proactive and focused in relation to their spending. If additional liquidity is available through various schemes being announced by the Centre to kick start economic activities and take the economy back on growth momentum, states need to see it is used more productively,” said an analyst tracking the state finances asking not to be named.

According to an analysis done by Motilal Oswal Institutional Equities, while states was their interest payments growing 24 per cent YoY in the first quarter period, growth in salary and costs (based on 12 states) was modest at 2.3 per cent, and pensions grew just 0.6 per cent YoY.

When we combine the finances of the central government and 14 states, the total receipt of the government declined 39.4 per cent YoY, while total spending grew by a modest 7.1 per cent YoY in 1QFY21 (after adjusting for grants from the Centre to the 14 states).

“Overall, we learn that while capital spending by the Centre (including loans & advances) grew 40 per cent YoY last quarter, the governments’ total capital spending (including 14 states) grew just 2 per cent YoY in 1QFY21,” the brokerage report said.

What is worse that despite Centre relaxing fiscal deficit limits for states by up to 2 percentage point of GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product) depending on numerous conditions, the excess liquidity would largely go into meeting their lower receipts. This could limit their ability to spend more in the coming months, raising doubts regarding the strength of recovery.

The states’ fiscal deficit has already reached 37 per cent of BE in 1QFY21 (more than double the average of 16 per cent in previous three years). The total receipts of the states declined 18.2 per cent YoY in 1QFY21.

Details related to the receipts suggest the states’ total tax receipts (including Centre’s devolution) fell 32.1 per cent YoY and non-tax revenue receipts fell 27 per cent YoY in the first quarter of FY21. Conversely, grants from the Centre grew by 56 per cent during the quarter.

Within the states’ own taxes, the collection of stamp duties and registration charges shrank 58 per cent in 1QFY21.

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Home sales in Delhi-NCR up 38% in Jul-Sep: JLL

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Noida The Supertech Capetown Group Housing sector 74 Noida that was sealed after one of the residents tested positive for COVID-19 infection
Noida The Supertech Capetown Group Housing sector 74 Noida that was sealed after one of the residents tested positive for COVID-19 infection

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) With the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions, housing demand in the July-September quarter improved and the sale of residential properties increased by around 38 per cent during the period in Delhi-National Capital Region, according to a JLL report.

A total of 3,112 housing units were sold during the period under review, compared to 2,250 units sold in the April-June quarter.

As per the report, most of this traction was witnessed in Noida, which contributed nearly 48 per cent to the overall sales, as it caters to all price segments. Noida was followed by Ghaziabad constituting 31 per cent of the sales and it mainly caters to the mid and affordable segments.

Gurugram accounted for nearly one-fifth of the overall sales during this quarter.

“The quarter saw a preference for ready-to-move-in projects by reputed developers. The affordable and mid segment projects garnered more interest from the homebuyers as compared to high-end and luxury projects,” it said.

The emerging corridors of suburban markets such as Noida-Greater Noida Expressway, Golf Course Extension Road and Dwarka Expressway in Gurugram continue to drive sales on the back of expected augmentation in physical and social infrastructure in these markets.

Given the current business environment, developers exercised restraint and caution in launching new projects, JLL said.

Three projects were launched during the third quarter in the region, two in Gurugram and one in Noida.

“While the launches were in high-end and upper mid segments in Gurugram, the project in Noida catered to the mid segment buyers,” the report said.

Real estate developers continue to focus on offloading the existing unsold inventory and completing the projects under construction. Prices remained range-bound across most of the submarkets within Delhi-NCR during the quarter.

Manish Aggarwal, Managing Director, Delhi NCR, JLL India, said: “With the upcoming festive season, sales are only expected to increase from the current levels. Also, attractive pricing and developers doling out lucrative schemes and freebies will further incentivise the fence sitters to buy homes.”

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FSCA issues norms for market access through ‘authorised persons’

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Bombay Stock Exchange. (File Photo IANS)
Bombay Stock Exchange. (File Photo IANS)

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has issued a regulatory framework for market access through “authorised persons”.

The development comes with a view to widen the investor base for exchange traded products in the International Financial Services Centre and to enhance the secondary market liquidity. The move would help in deepening the market, the IFSCA said in a statement.

An authorised person is any individual, partnership firm, LLP or body corporate who provides access to the trading platform of a stock exchange as an agent of the stock broker.

Under the framework, the stock brokers or trading members — registered with either IFSCA or SEBI or both — of the stock exchanges shall be permitted to provide market access to investors through authorised persons based in foreign jurisdictions.

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FM stresses on structural treatment of debt at G20 meet

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New Delhi Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference on Economic issues at the National Media Centre
New Delhi Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference on Economic issues at the National Media Centre

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that there is a need for more structural treatment of debt in the long term.

Addressing the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting, through video conference, she said that the process should primarily be guided by the objective of helping such countries overcome the fiscal stress caused by the pandemic, a Finance Ministry statement said.

Sitharaman underlined that it would be important to take into consideration the circumstances and concerns of both creditors and debtors and that in the process of debt restructuring, care must be taken to not saddle the debtor countries with overly burdensome conditionalities.

The ministers and Governors of G20 countries had gathered to discuss the current global economic outlook and G20’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, along with other G20 Finance Track priorities for the year 2020.

In the first session, the Finance Minister spoke on updates to the G20 Action Plan in response to Covid-19 which was endorsed by the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on April 15. Sitharaman emphasised that the updated commitments in the G20 Action Plan have to be kept relevant in the current policy context for the action points to remain effective as a policy response to Covid-19.

Explaining the core guiding principles for the updation of the G20 Action Plan commitments, she highlighted the need to balance the health and economic objectives in the recovery plans.

The Finance Minister also spoke about the need to consider heterogeneity of policy responses among member countries, international spillovers from domestic policy actions and reforms required in the global regulatory regimes particularly with respect to the pro-cyclicality of credit rating downgrades.

A key outcome of the G20 Action Plan has been the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) which provides time bound suspension of debt service payments for the low-income debtor countries that request forbearance. The initiative was initially in force till end of 2020.

During this meeting, in light of the continued liquidity pressures, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors agreed to extend the DSSI by 6 months, and to examine by the time of the 2021 IMF/WBG Spring Meetings if the economic and financial situation requires a further extension.

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Eicher Motors now offers customised Royal Enfield motorcycles

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Eicher logo
Eicher logo

Chennai, Oct 15 (IANS) Two-wheeler maker Eicher Motors Ltd on Thursday said customers can now choose to personalise and accessorise their Royal Enfield motorcycles at the time of purchase.

In a statement issued here, the company said it has rolled out the first of its kind motorcycle personalisation service – The Royal Enfield Make-It-Yours – MiY.

The Royal Enfield is the two-wheeler division of Eicher Motors rolling out bikes like Bullet, Interceptor 650, Continental GT 650 and others.

According to the company, the MiY is enabled via an app based 3-D configurator will allow buyers to access to various possible combinations in personalistion options at the time of booking the motorcycle.

Once the order is placed through the app, the buyers will also know the probable delivery time.

According to Vinod K. Dasari, CEO, Royal Enfield, with MiY, customers will have a “little bit of them” built into the motorcycle, and depending on the level of personalisation, motorcycles will be custom-made as per consumer specifications, within 24 to 48 hours, at the Chennai plant.

“We will be rolling out MiY for all our motorcycles, across all our stores in the country in a phased manner. All new motorcycle models from Royal Enfield, from here on, will come with the MiY feature,” he said.

Initially the MiY will be available for models like Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650.

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Construction picks up in unlock, cement prices rise

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Cement city Nimbhahera emerges as new hotspot in Rajasthan
Cement city Nimbhahera emerges as new hotspot in Rajasthan

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) Fading monsoons, easing of lockdown restrictions and recovery in non-trade demand have revived the construction activities in the country resulting in pan-India 2 per cent month-on-month increase in cement prices in October after four consecutive months correction.

The rising demand and prices for construction materials is a good barometer to gauge revival of economic activities in the country.

The cement price rise in October is also an aberration to historic trends when price normally corrects 2-3 per cent due to seasonality.

“A strong demand recovery in September 2020 (10-12 per cent yoy) and continued demand tailwinds in early October 2020 underpin the price strength. Cost headwinds should hit from end of 3QFY21 and price hikes, if sustained, would offset the impact on margins and drive earnings upgrades,” Kotak Institutional Equities said in a report.

The distribution of rise in cement prices indicates that consumers revival has happened across the country. Prices in North and Central markets increased 5 per cent m-o-m on a sharp uptick in demand led by easing of lockdown restrictions and return of migrant labour to metro cities supporting non-trade demand.

Prices remained stable m-o-m in East and West India while prices in South increased 2 pet cent mom after strong demand recovery in September 2020.

Historically, cement prices correct by 2-3 per cent qoq in 3Q due to seasonality. However, in 3QFY21E prices are up 1 per cent qoq led by higher prices in North and Central markets, the brokerage report said.

While government estimate suggests that demand declined 15 per cent yoy in August 2020 in the country and declined by 29 per cent yoy YTD FY2021. However, channel checks by the brokerage suggests that strong demand in September 2020 (+10-12 per cent yoy) more than offset the weakness in early 2QFY21.

South, where demand was worst-hit in April-August 2020, too witnessed 3-5 per cent yoy demand growth in September 2020 led by Andhra-Telangana.

Initial feedback suggests that demand tailwinds have continued in October 2020. We expect industry volumes to decline by 12.5 per cent yoy in FY2021E. We see grinding and clinker capacity addition at 4 per cent/3 per cent CAGR over FY2020-23E versus demand at 3 per cent CAGR.

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CMS launches AI-automated ATM security software ‘Algo’

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SBI ATM. (File Photo IANS)
SBI ATM. (File Photo IANS)

Mumbai, Oct 14 (IANS) CMS Info Systems (CMS) has announced the launch of fully automated, Artificial Intelligence-powered ATM security software application ‘Algo’.

CMS Algo is an end-to-end security encrypted a fool-proof solution to prevent ATM frauds at the time of cash replenishment or maintenance, the company said in a statement.

The application is machine-agnostic and can operate on any ATM manufactured by any OEM.

Rajiv Kaul, Executive Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Whole-time Director of CMS Info Systems, said: “This application can run on any ATM across the world and helps in fraud prevention. The solution is cost-effective in the back-end and low cost in the front-end.”

“The biggest saving is the reduction of fraud, no requirement of a call centre, and restricted access to data and premises,” he said.

He noted that the company has deployed Algo on 52,000 ATMs in India.

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