Current Affairs October 2016 - Finance


News 1 - SBI launched its branch in Yangon


State Bank of India (SBI) launched its 54th foreign branch in Yangon, Myanmar. The launch of this Branch has extended the global presence of SBI in 37 countries through 198 offices. SBI is the first Indian Bank to open a branch in Myanmar.

Ghanshyam Srivastava has been appointed as the chief executive of SBI Yangon branch. The Myanmarese Central Bank earlier this year allowed SBI to open a branch with the primary objective of extending wholesale banking services to foreign corporates.

News 2 - RBI announces its 4th Bi-monthly Policy Statement

Bi-monthly Policy Statement

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its fourth bi-monthly monetary policy review for year 2016-17 has cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25%.

This monetary policy decision was taken by the newly constituted Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). All the six members of MPC unanimously decided to cut key policy rate with the aim of achieving a midterm inflation target of 4% within a band of plus or minus 2%.

News 3 - India's GDP growth to remain strong at 7.6% in 2016, 7.7% in 2017: World Bank

India's GDP Growth

The World Bank has said that India's GDP growth will remain strong at 7.6 percent in 2016 and 7.7 percent in 2017. In its latest report 'South Asia Economic Focus', it said India's economic growth remained robust, and is expected to support continued poverty reduction.

It further said that the current year is expected to see some convergence in rural and urban economies, supported by stimulating policies, such as passage of GST and civil service pay revisions.

News 4 - IMF revises India's economic growth upwards to 7.6% for FY17 and 18


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday raised projections for India’s economic growth by 0.2 percentage points to 7.6 percent for 2016-17 and 2017-18. India’s economy expanded 7.6 percent in 2015-16.

IMF also kept gross domestic product (GDP) expansion for China unchanged at 6.6 per cent in 2016, which would decelerate to 6.2 per cent in 2017. It retained global economic growth at 3.1 per cent for 2016 and 3.4 per cent for 2017.

News 5 - Finance Ministry sets up Public Debt Management Cell

Public Debt Management Cell

The Union Finance Ministry has set up a Public Debt Management Cell (PDMC) to streamline government borrowings and better cash management with the overall objective of deepening bond markets. The interim arrangement will allow separation of debt management functions from RBI to PDMA in a gradual and seamless manner, without causing market disruptions.

PDMC has been tasked to plan government borrowings, including market borrowings and other borrowings, like Sovereign Gold Bond issuance. It will also advise government on matters related to investment, capital market operations, administration of interest rates on small savings among others.

News 6 - RBI appointed Parvez Ahmed as the new Chairman and CEO of Jammu and Kashmir Bank

Parvez Ahmed

Parvez Ahmed was appointed by Reserve Bank of India as Chairman and CEO of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank for a period of three years replacing Mustaq Ahmad who completed his term on October 5. The appointment came after J&K Bank Board of Directors had forwarded a panel of three candidates topped by Parvez Ahmad for chairmanship to the RBI for approval.

Mr. Parvez Ahmed has vast experience in banking and financial services and is currently the senior most Executive President of the bank.

News 7 - RBI releases IWG report on Rationalisation of Branch Authorisation Policy

IWG Report

The Reserve Bank of India published the Report of the Internal Working Group (IWG) on Rationalisation of Branch Authorisation Policy. The Group is chaired by Lily Vadera, Chief General Manager, Department of Banking Regulation.

The thrust of the recommendations is to facilitate financial inclusion by ensuring availability of banking services in all centers through low cost delivery channels and mapping the footprints of various banking channels.

News 8 - Forex reserves touch record high of $372 billion

Forex Reserves

As per the RBI data, India’s foreign exchange reserves scaled a new high of $371.99 billion, up $1.223 billion for the week to September 30. The increase was primarily because a USD 1.468-billion surge in the foreign currency assets.

Gold reserves declined USD 236.4 million to USD 21.406 billion. The special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund decreased by USD 3.3 million to USD 1.487 billion, while the reserve position with the fund dipped by USD 5 million to USD 2.385 billion.

News 9 - India to clock 8% growth in next few years: S&P


Ratings agency Standard and Poor's has said, the passage of the indirect tax law GST, gives it additional conviction of India clocking 8 per cent growth in the next few years. In a report titled ‘Asia-Pacific steadies while China goes silent’, the rating agency has coined the passage of the GST as to be the most important structural reform to date by the Narendra Modi government.

The latest gross domestic production (GDP) figures showed that India's growth slowed to 7.1 percent in the April-June quarter, from 7.9 percent in January-March.

News 10 - India the 12th largest holder of US Government Bonds

US Government Bonds

India's holdings of US government bonds touched a high of US $123.7 billion in July making it the 12th largest holder of such securities.

China's exposure stood at US $1.22 trillion, followed by Japan with holdings to the tune of US $1.15 trillion. The other countries in the top ten are Ireland (3), Cayman Islands (4), Brazil (5), Switzerland (6), Luxembourg (7), the UK (8), Taiwan (9) and Hong Kong (10).

News 11 - Standard Chartered Bank enters a tie-up with Uber

Standard Chartered Bank

Standard Chartered Bank announced a tie-up with Uber under which its credit cardholders, across six countries, will get a cash-back of up to 25 percent for hailing cabs from the app.

In India, the cardholders will get a 20 per cent cash-back on all Uber rides, subject to a cash—back cap of Rs. 600 per month. Additionally, first-time Uber users will get a discount of Rs. 50 for the first three rides. The offer has been activated in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam apart from India and will be launched in UAE.

News 12 - Accenture to help AU Financiers offer digital banking


Au FINANCIERS, who received In-principle approval from Reserve Bank of India to set up as a Small Finance Bank, has appointed Accenture Services Pvt. Ltd. (“Accenture”) to customise, integrate and support Au Financiers' new core banking platform and enterprise resource planning software (ERP).

The core banking platform, with online and mobile banking digital capabilities, will enable Au Financiers customers to operate their accounts from anywhere in the country. Accenture will also implement an analytics-rich customer resource management (CRM) solution to help Au Financiers manage customer records and relationships.

News 13 - ICICI Bank executes India’s first banking transactions on blockchain


ICICI Bank has successfully executed transactions in international trade finance and remittance using blockchain technology in partnership with Emirates NBD, a leading banking group in the Middle East.

ICICI Bank is the first bank in the country and among the first few globally to exchange and authenticate remittance transaction messages as well as original international trade documents electronically on blockchain in real time. The usage of blockchain technology simplifies the process and makes it almost instant. The system was co-created with EdgeVerve Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Infosys.

News 14 - Cabinet approves Exim Bank's MoU with New Development Bank

Exim Bank's MoU

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to Export Import Bank of India for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on General Cooperation with New Development Bank (NDB) through the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.

The proposal will enhance trade and economic relations among the BRICS countries. There is no financial implication involved with signing of the MoU. The MoU is aimed at establishing a cooperation framework in accordance with the national laws and regulations, besides skills transfer and knowledge sharing amongst the signatories.

News 15 - Essar pays back $2.5 billion of loans to ICICI, Axis and StanChart


Essar Group has paid back $2.5 billion of loans to ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and Standard Chartered Bank. ICICI Bank and Axis Bank together got about $450 million while Standard Chartered Bank was paid $2.1 billion.

Standard Chartered has decided to write off nearly $850 million of its exposure. ICICI Bank and Axis Bank had a combined exposure of about $1.5 billion. Essar Oil completed a deal to sell 98 percent stake to a consortium led by Russia's Rosneft for $12.9 billion.

News 16 - NABARD sanctions Rs. 19,702 crore loan to National Water Development Agency


National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development has sanctioned Rs. 19,702 crore loan to National Water Development Agency (NWDA) for 50 irrigation projects.

The loan is sanctioned under Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF), announced by Finance Minister ArunJaitley during the Budget 2016-17. This would help create additional irrigation potential of 39.14 lakh hectares under these projects in 11 states. The total fund requirement of all the irrigation projects under Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) is expected to be of the order of Rs. 78,535 crores in the next four years.

News 17 - RBI relaxed norms for foreign investment in startups


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reviewed and amended the extant regulatory provisions to further liberalise and rationalise the investment regime forForeign Venture Capital Investors (FVCIs)and to give a fillip to foreign investment in the startups.

FVCIs can invest in Indian startups irrespective of the sector in which the startup is engaged without prior permission of the apex bank. SEBI-registered FVCIs have also been permitted to invest in unlisted firms in sectors like biotechnology, nanotechnology and dairy. Further FVCIs can also open a foreign currency account and/or a rupee account for the purpose of making transactions.

News 18 - Bank of America unveiled their Artificial Intelligence Chatbot

Bank of America

Bank of America has unveiled Erica, an AI chatbot that will be available to answer queries and help the bank's million of mobile app users make smarter spending and saving decisions.

"Erica" will be available inside the bank's mobile app staring next year. Customers can chat with Erica via voice or text message. Erica will use artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and cognitive messaging to help customers do things like make payments, check balances, save money and pay down debt.

News 19 - RBI allows start-ups to raise USD 3 million via external commercial borrowings


Start-ups will be permitted to raise the overseas funds in rupees as well as in foreign currency. RBI allowed start-ups to raise external commercial borrowings up to USD 3 million in a financial year with a minimum maturity of 3 years. It further said that final guidelines on Interest Rate Options will be revealed by end-October 2016. Guidelines will be issued in this regard by month-end.

According to RBI, guidelines for issuance and operations of Pre-Paid Payment Instruments will also be released soon.