News In Numbers: August 4
The median forecast of the repo rate—the rate at which the central bank lends money to banks—for 2015-16 by 27 professional forecasters surveyed by it in June 2015. The repo rate currently stands at 7.25%, and the Reserve Bank of India, as part of its monetary policy review today, is unlikely to cut this key indicator of interest rates. In calendar 2015, the RBI has cut the repo rate thrice, each time by 0.25 percentage points. Even if it pauses, lower interest rates remain the expectation for the next 18 months: in the same RBI survey, the 27 forecasters predicted a median repo rate of 6.75% in 2016-17.
Of the total funds committed by members of Parliament (MPs) in the last 14 years towards rehabilitation after major natural disasters, less than 40% has been utilised. Under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme scheme, MPs can recommend up to Rs 1 crore for disaster rehabilitation. They had committed a total of Rs 250 crore since the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, of which, only Rs 99 crore has been used. As many as 21,975 people have died in India between 2001-02 and 2010-11 in major natural disasters.
Prices of crude oil, as represented by Brent futures, fell below the $50 a barrel mark on Monday, the first time since January. On the one hand, there is lower demand from China, which has been powering growth in the world economy. On the other, the expectation is that oil-rich Iran, following the removing of western sanctions, will increase supply in the market. Lower crude prices are good for India, which imported $116 billion worth of this commodity in 2014-15, or 25% of its overall imports. In 2015-16, for April and May, India’s import bill under this head was $13 billion.
The average capacity utilisation of thermal power plants in 2015-16 (till June), continuing a consistent decline. In 2009-10, this was as high as 77.5%. The largest decline in plant usage has been in plants run by private players, followed by those run by state governments and Central governments, respectively. In its first-quarter results yesterday, central government company National Thermal Power Corporation announced a 7% drop in power generation and 6% drop in revenues due to lower demand from cash-strapped state distributors of electricity.
Of the 353 million Internet users in India as of June 2015, 127 million are local language Internet users, according to a survey by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and IMRB International. The total digital advertising spend in India is estimated to be Rs 3,575 crore by December 2015, of which digital ad spends in local languages are projected to have a share of 5%. In India, 122 languages are spoken. Of this, Hindi has the maximum share (41% of total population), followed by Bengali (8.1%) and Telugu (7.9%).
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