News in Numbers, Feb 23, 2017: Earth’s distant cousins 🌏

235

What is it? Total number of cases the Income Tax (IT) department registered till mid-February, since the Benami Transactions Act was enforced in November, 2016.

Why is it important? The IT department has picked up pace in booking people with unaccounted-for assets since the act’s enforcement. From 42 cases on January 31, cases registered in the following 15 days (193) jumped nearly five times. Section 24 of the acthas been invoked and as many as 124 cases have seen assets worth more than Rs 55 crore attached provisionally.

Tell me more: A total of 140 cases with questionable assets of Rs 200 crore have received show cause notices. The act applicable to both movable and immovable property allows the IT department to initiate criminal proceedings against those found depositing unaccounted old currency in someone else’s account, for example.

 

100%

What is it? The cut in salary of Snapdeal’s co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, announced by Bahl on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The founders were not only the highest paid among senior executives in all the nine unicorns from India but were also the seventh-highest paid in the country in the 2015 fiscal. But the austerity might have come a bit late for Snapdeal, as 600 layoffs loom large in a simultaneous news.

Tell me more: Valued at $6.5 billion, Bansal admitted to mistakes down the road and said a major rejig will follow to gain profitability. In FY16, it had run up losses worth $14.93 million.

 

~45%

What is it? The estimated percentage of Indians who illegally immigrated to the US and would now be subject to enforcement of stringent deportation guidelines, issued this week.

Why is it important? Indians are among the highest legal as well illegal immigrants (with 500,000 unauthorised immigrants in 2014) in the US. With a new enforcement memo from US’ Department of Homeland Security to find, arrest and deport any illegal immigrant, irrespective of a criminal record, will turn up the heat on 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Tell me more: The memo asks for more jails to be built to detain immigrants. This would be to replace the practice of releasing undocumented immigrants with an order to re-appear for court hearings.

 

7

What is it? The number of Earth-sized planets discovered by astronomers near solar system.

Why is it important? One or more of them may be warm enough to have water on its surface, increasing the possibility of finding life outside solar system. The planets revolve around Trappist-1 a dwarf star, 40 light years away.

Tell me more: The planets around Trappist-1 were discovered by NASA and its partners around the world. The star is smaller (it’s as big as a golf ball, if the Sun is as big as a basketball), its planets are closer, and revolve around it faster. Its nearest planet takes 1.5 days to revolve around it, and the farthest, 20 days.

 

6.6%

What is it? The projected GDP growth rate of India in 2016-17, according to International Monetary Fund.

Why is it important? It is 1 percentage point lower than 7.6% growth India saw in 2015-16, and higher than some estimates by observers who saw demonetisation impacting the economy more severely. Ambit Capital, for example, expected it to slow down to 5.8%.

Tell me more: The Washington DC-based international body sees GDP growth rate picking up to over 8% in the next few years, post adoption of Goods and Services Tax. In 2017-18, it expects India’s GDP to grow by 7.2% driven by private consumption.

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News in Numbers, Jan 31, 2017: Merger on the airwaves

Rs 78,000 crore

What is it? The estimated combined revenue of a proposed merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

Why is it important? The all-share merger will create India’s largest telecom company, larger than the Rs-50,008-crore-earning Bharti Airtel. Debt on both the companies’ books and likely losses incurred from the tariff-reduction race started by Reliance Jio are being seen as triggers for the move. It looks like a much needed consolidation boost in the 22-circle Indian telecom market, as seen from the stock gains of Indian telecom operators yesterday ranging 8-10% with Idea gaining a record 26%.

Tell me more: The merged entry would still have to address, in many markets, the telecom regulator’s anti-monopoly restrictions of owning no more than 50% of spectrum in a band and 25% of available spectrum in a circle (or geographic market).

 

1 day

What is it? Number of days to go before the RBI-mandated daily ATM withdrawal limit of Rs 10,000 is removed, from February 1.

Why is it important? The first sign of reverting to pre-demonetisation days of cash management was made with RBI’s circular removing the ATM limit. Two weeks ago, RBI signalled its ease in handling cash by expanding the limit to Rs 10,000 from Rs 4,500. The Rs 24,000-weekly limit on savings-bank withdrawal, however, stays put, but restrictions on  current account, cash credit and overdraft accounts will be removed.

Tell me more: RBI mentions the savings-bank limit is under consideration for withdrawal in the “near future”. Banks can use their discretion to set their own operating limits at ATMs as was the practice before old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were withdrawn.

 

42

What is it? The number of cases the Income Tax (IT) departmentregistered nationwide under the recently-enforced Benami Transactions Act.

Why is it important? Warnings in public advertisements by the IT department against depositing unaccounted old currency in someone else’s bank account anonymously are materialising now. The BenamiAct’s section 24 has been invoked for 87 notices, for attaching bank accounts with crores of rupees of such dubious deposits and an immovable property.

Tell me more: These cases, if proven true, would attract a heavy penalty and a rigorous jail-term of a maximum of seven years.

 

4

What is it? The number of new administrators appointed by the Supreme Court to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Why is it important? The neutral committee headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), and the current Chairman of Banks Board Bureau, Vinod Rai, will pave the path to reform the embattled BCCI, richest sporting body in India and the most profitable cricket board in the world. The team, with a mix of financial acumen, social perspective and cricketing enthusiasm, is tasked with bringing in accounting rigour and good governance to a body mired in controversies, the latest being its earlier president and secretary sacked on January 3. It would also finalise the Indian Premier League’s 10th edition besides reporting on the Lodha panel recommendations to the court.

Tell me more: The other members are Vikram Limaye, managing director and CEO of IDBI Bank; former Indian women’s cricket captain Diana Edulji; and historian and writer Ramchandra Guha. Limaye will represent BCCI in an ICC meeting in February. The committee has no term limit.

 

650

What is it? The number of branches of the India Post Payments Bank(IPPB) to be set up by September, 2017.

Why is it important? The IPPB will locate these branches in postal district headquarters which would enable all the post office branches under those head offices to be served by the payments bank. With India Post’s envious branch network of no less than 155,000 post offices, expanding its reach should be one of IPPB’s easiest tasks.  It would let enabled post offices accept limited deposits at a maximum interest of 5.5% and offer payment services but not offer loans, unlike commercial banks.

Tell me more: The IPPB joins Airtel Payments Bank, offering 7.25% on savings, in a new financial services category, with more players to come.

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