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RBI governor Shaktikanta Das sees positives for India economy

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Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das gave his first interview with media since taking office in December. Here’s an edited transcript of the topics he covered in the more than 50 minute interview.

On the economic slowdown and the RBI’s response:

‘The accommodative stance will depend on incoming data. How inflation numbers look how the growth numbers look. Primarily how inflation looks. With regard to the slowdown, I would not give a particular timeline and it’s not possible. But overall if you see the trend, I think the fourth quarter of last year was partly a base effect and partly due to investment slowdown and demand contraction, which I had articulated in the monetary policy committee minutes. For that, so far as monetary authority is concerned, the law gives us a certain role and mandate and we have tried our best to play that role. We have reduced the policy rates by 75 basis points and we have shifted to accommodative. And shifting of the stance to accommodative itself means a rate cut of 25 basis points at least. So therefore effectively, the rate cuts has been 100 basis points if you take into account the change in stance.’

On providing liquidity:

‘Parallel to that we have also ensured surplus liquidity in the system. Liquidity was in deficit but at the moment for the past 1 1/2 months, the system is in liquidity surplus by more than 1 trillion rupees.

“We will ensure the banks are provided adequate funds. While the system is in surplus mode, it is possible that one or two banks may have liquidity issues. Given the role the RBI is assigned, inflation is primary target, and given due weightage to the fact that growth momentum has slowed down. For the revival, various stakeholders have to play the role.’

On investment slowdown:

‘There have been sectoral problems, like in the auto sector. Our survey shows that additional insurance requirements has had an impact. So every sector has had its problem. But when the world is changing you also have to change. Then there was the credit squeeze; now availability is there. The banks were unable to lend significantly, burdened with NPAs and the focus of the banks was on recovery and consolidation and not on credit. The banks are now in a better position to lend. While banks were not lending, NBFC entered their space. But for a year or so, credit flow has been affected. Another thing I would like to address the crowding out effect. It’s a good thing that the fiscal deficit has been brought down and recapitalization has been announced. Every stakeholder, the government, the private sector and the RBI are playing their role and I think things are moving in the right direction. And things should improve now.’

On liquidity and NBFC problems:

‘We have to constantly monitor and remain alert as the regulator and as a monetary authority. We have to analyse and review the situation. Here at the RBI, we have broad medium and long-term goals. If some issue becomes critical, not a day passes without some internal high-level review. On NBFC, not a day passed in the last several months where we don’t have a discussion or a review internally. Either on the sector or individual NBFCs. And we are monitoring the top 50 NBFCs which we have identified in terms of balance sheet size, volume of operation and in terms of governance practices and credit behavior. Our supervision teams are closely monitoring them. We are in constant interaction with the banks and it’s our endeavor to ensure a collapse of another NBFC, especially a large one, doesn’t happen. Having said that, if NBFCs have undertaken certain governance practice and certain ways of function and they have to a price for it, they will have to pay a price for it.’

On banks being proactive:

‘We are in constant engagement with banks. After the June 7 circular, the banks are more enabled to resolve the crisis and stress in the individual NBFCs. Now inter-credit agreement is mandatory. Earlier it wasn’t. We have also given 30 days for review and another six months for restructuring and we are having constant engagement with the banks. So the banks, under the June 7 circular, have to play a proactive role. We are constantly in touch with large lenders to such NBFCs, including some housing finance, where we see some signs of fragility.’

Consolidation in NBFCs:

‘If somebody has diverted or there has been sort of ever-greening, there has been gold plating, if there has not been so diligent lending, so obviously they have to pay the price. Our effort is to segregate the way there have been lapses. Our focus is the overall system maintains stability. When I say system, it obviously includes all the major players. Therefore, our effort is to see that there is no repeat instances of systemically important large NBFC collapsing. And in the process some promoters have to make certain sacrifices, promoters have to accept haircut, the banks will have to deal with it appropriately within the parameters. One or two cases, the banks have signed inter-creditor agreements and they are resolving this crisis. The way I look at it, the responsibility is on the NBFCs themselves, to find market instruments to resolve their problems. Market instruments and the promoter has to bring in additional capital, he has to do a stake sale, he has to securitize his assets and mobilize liquidity, he has to meet debt obligations. And then the role of the lenders. We are in discussion with the lenders who have to protect their money also. They also have a parallel role to try and resolve this issue. That will also mean sacrifice on the part of the promoter also. The RBI will ensure adequate liquidity to banks.’

On refinancing:

‘This Refinance window or a liquidity window is a misnomer. We cannot lend money directly to one NBFC. Under the law, RBI is the lender of last resort, but we haven’t reached that situation where we invoke that particular legal provision. So RBI in today’s time cannot and would not be lending directly to NBFCs. We cannot give them clean money. It is up to the bank and depending on the collateral. We are backing up the banks. There is nothing called a liquidity window. Money is fungible, and when money is fungible having these windows, I think, is not relevant.’

When will the crisis be over?

‘Difficult to say when it finishes. It’s our effort to ensure there is no contagion. It is our endeavor to ensure there is no collapse of another systematically important NBFC.’

On cases of adventurism:

‘There have been instances where it has happened. Some of the NBFCs have diverted. It hasn’t happened in a large scale. That is not the case. In some cases, we have noticed this has happened. A large number have encountered business failures, encountered external factors, which has impacted business models. We are coming up with a new regulatory framework. We are a work in progress. Risk management guidelines are also there for NBFCs. Now HFCs are coming under RBI, we are constantly reviewing it internally. The RBI’s endeavor is a well functioning NBFC sector and a robust regulatory framework which prevent the kind of situation we have encountered in the past year.’

On the U.S.-China trade war and what it means for India:

‘India is not part of the global value chain. So, U.S.-China trade tension does not impact India as much as several other economies which are part of the global value chain. Second thing is about trade tensions, it has a lowering of global growth and contraction of demand and that would in a way have a role on oil prices. Oil prices should remain low. These are the positives. In the long run, we cannot ignore lingering and prolonged tensions. It will definitely affect countries all over the world and definitely India, which is the sixth-largest economy. In the medium term also it will affect India. If it lingers, a contraction of global demand will have impact on our exports sector. We have large exports to Europe.’

On RBI policy options:

“We have to only see our domestic demand continues to be robust and ensure that there is a domestic demand revival and that remains strong. We have to ensure that these opportunities arising out of the trade war, relocation of investment, India should utilize it. Irrespective of the trade war, India should become competitive both in the services and the manufacturing sector.’

On the risk of dollar depreciation:

‘If they depreciate their currencies, it means greater inflows. When the reversal happens we have to manage spillover effect. If excess inflow comes in, it becomes a problem to absorb excess liquidity. It’s an evolving challenge. We will continue to deal with it. We have to keep in mind, in several advanced economies, bonds yields are negative, inflation is zero. In fact in my interaction with other central bankers, they are concerned about zero or low inflation. They would like to have a slightly higher inflation. Zero interest rates prevailing for far too long, it becomes unsustainable and undermines investor sentiment. In the overall context, India is much better than most other economies.’

On structural reforms:

‘I don’t think the fiscal space is really the answer. If you have fiscal space any government can use. Long-term growth can be sustained by structural reforms, enhancing competitiveness, and focusing on an enabling business environment. So therefore, GST, IBC and the Niti Aayog’s committee on agriculture reforms, which will allow private investment in the farm sector and which will ensure better price to farmers for their produce, are crucial. The supply chain in the agricultural sector has to be addressed. The focus will have to be on structural reforms and improving competitiveness. Focus will have to be on continued ease of business and availability of credit at a reasonable price.’

On improving growth prospects:

The RBI’s ‘essential role is to maintain price stability, which is defined in terms of inflation. Along with the objective of growth. Price stability is prime. It will depend on inflation, on incoming GDP. This year we have projected 7%. There was a lot of uncertainty, but now the monsoon is catching up in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The western part had good rains and the monsoon outlook has improved compared to what it looked about three weeks ago and oil prices are remaining in the $65 range, but then you have extraneous factors like the trade tensions, sanctions on Iran, and then you have Brexit which creates uncertain sentiments and India has a lot presence in Britain in terms of investment and exports. I would not like to specify how long it (economic slowdown) will last. India is today in a far better place than most of the major economies and India has certain inherent resilience and the signs are looking good.’

On core inflation:

‘Core inflation coming down, at one level, can be seen as a positive development but at another level it is reflective of a slowdown in the demand, so therefore I don’t want to make a qualitative judgement on good or bad. Based on hard numbers, we will have to take a call.’

On global bond issuance:

‘RBI is the debt manager. There is a process of consulting between RBI and the government.’

On recapitalization funds:

‘The 700 billion rupees is adequate for capital requirement but also for growth. The true test of efficiency of a public sector bank is whether they are able to access capital markets to raise additional capital. Otherwise just continuous and prolonged dependence on government capital infusion — it can breed inefficiency. Banks need to access capital markets. There has to be competition in the banking sector. How many competitors are there in the field that the market will decide.’

On interest-rate transmission:

‘There is a case for banks to show better monetary policy transmission. We have to keep in mind that banks have gone through a period of crisis and they are just recovering, they are just about recovering, so that aspect has also to be kept in mind. So if you drive and ask them to fix interest rates administratively, we cannot lose sight of the fact that banks will also have to recover and comeback to a level where they are out of the woods. If we see the PCA banks have fulfilled the conditions to come, they will come.’

On payments banks:

‘Some are doing well. It’s a new model. It’s about two years. We are studying. We should wait a little longer how they play out.’

On financial stability:

‘I would like to say our primary focus — apart from price stability and keeping the objective of growth — it is also to ensure the stability of the financial sector, which includes banks and NBFC. And in the long run, if India has to grow and show improved growth rates, it will need a well-functioning financial sector.’

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Swiggy Instamart figures, Mumbaikars ordered 570 times more condoms in the last one year

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Customers are also ordering medical-related things through online shopping platforms. In metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Bangalore, people are buying goods online in large numbers. People living in metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai ordered an average of 6 million eggs in the last year.

These days people are doing online shopping fiercely in the country. Through Grocery Service Platforms, the goods of need are easily reaching people’s homes. From vegetables to medicines, just a few clicks on the smartphone are reaching people’s doorsteps. According to a survey, Swiggy Instamart has provided service to more than 9 million users between June 2021 and June 2022. In metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Bangalore, people are buying goods online in large numbers.

Healthcare products orders

Customers are also ordering medical-related things through online shopping platforms. According to a survey, Mumbaikars have ordered 570 times more condoms in the last 12 months. At the same time, in 2021, Instamart received orders for about two million sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, and tampons. Apart from this, a lot of orders have also been received for grocery items.

56 lakh packets of noodles ordered

According to the survey, between April and June last year, there was a 42 percent increase in the demand for ice cream in these metro cities. It was also learned that most of the orders were placed after 10 pm. In metro cities, people have ordered 5.6 million packets of instant noodles. In Hyderabad, users ordered around 27,000 bottles of fresh juice during the summer months.

60 lakh eggs ordered

The demand for eggs has increased manifold in the last two years. People living in metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai ordered an average of 6 million eggs in the last year. According to the report, customers from Bangalore and Hyderabad ordered the maximum number of eggs for breakfast. At the same time, people of Mumbai, Jaipur, and Coimbatore have ordered the maximum number of eggs online at the time of dinner.

Demand for dairy products

There has been a huge jump in orders for both tea and coffee. According to the report, there has been an increase of 2,000 percent in its demand. At the same time, 3 crore orders of milk have come for milk. People from Bangalore and Mumbai have placed more orders in the morning. Regular milk, full cream milk and toned milk are the most ordered dairy products.

Ordering fruits and vegetables

Orders for 62,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables have been received in the last year. With 12,000 orders, Bengaluru tops the list of organic product buyers. At the same time, Hyderabad and Bangalore together have ordered more than 290 tonnes of green chilies in 12 months. Over 2 lakh orders have been received for bathroom cleaners, scrub pads, drain cleaners, and more in the last year.

Source: Aajtak

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Zepto, 10-minute grocery delivery app, raises $100 million

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Only five months subsequent to dispatching, 10-minute basic food item conveyance application Zepto on Tuesday reported it has raised $100 million driven by Y Combinator, taking its valuation to $570 million.

Other than the raise money, Zepto has been developing staggeringly rapidly and is significantly increasing its client base consistently.

In the course of recent months, Zepto has extended past Mumbai by dispatching in Bengaluru, Delhi, Gurgaon, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Pune (Kolkata to follow), the organization said in an assertion.

“Financial backers are reliably deciding to back Zepto due to our top tier execution. This is giving us extraordinary energy – we’re developing at an amazing rate, clients are adoring the item experience, our center unit financial matters are solid, and we have one of the most outstanding startup groups in India today,” said Aadit Palicha, Co-Founder and CEO.

The Series C raising money round saw support from new and existing financial backers, including Glade Brook, Nexus, Breyer Capital, Lachy Groom, Global Founders Capital, Contrary Capital, and that’s just the beginning.

The round came 45 days later the organization reported its $60 million raise money in November.

Conveying food in a short time is a game-changing encounter for clients in the nation, and a few players are presently joining the race.

“We are eager to twofold down and lead this round in Zepto. They initially dispatched with an alternate model, quickly turned to speedy trade in August 2021, and are presently adding 100,000 new clients consistently, 60% of the ladies,” said Anu Hariharan from Y Combinator.

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Business

One stuck box of fertilizer shows the global supply chain crisis

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Somewhere in the world’s busiest port of Shanghai, a container of fertilizer sits among tens of thousands of boxes, waiting for a ride to the U.S. It’s been on the dock for months, trapped by typhoons and Covid outbreaks that have worsened major congestion in the global supply-chain network.

While the fertilizer has been stranded there since May, the port is just one stop on the long journey from central China to the U.S. Midwest. Delays have stretched a delivery that ordinarily would take weeks to more than half a year. And that time frame will keep expanding, as the goods have barely started the roughly 15,000 kilometer (9,300 mile) trek.

This is the tale of one humble shipment and its arduous journey across the world. While some of the barriers keeping it from its final destination may be specific to this particular case, the journey is emblematic of the inertia that has gripped global trade during the pandemic.

From the U.S. to Sudan to China, container boxes have been lying at ports, railyards and in warehouses as the pandemic rages on. In an industry with 25 million containers and some 6,000 ships hauling them, it’s easy to see disruptions as one big headache confined to the shipping world. But each container that’s delayed is economic activity that’s restrained, heaping costs one box at a time on consumers and making it more challenging to put corn on consumers’ tables or deliver presents for the holidays.

It’s also a lesson in the ripple effects across global supply chains, showing the limits of diversification as all networks are still closely connected with China.

“All roads lead back to China, and that has a major effect across the entire supply chain,” said Dawn Tiura, head of U.S.-based Sourcing Industry Group. “Congestion at one port or factory has far-reaching implications for neighboring facilities, which trickles out across the world.”

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