A costly waiver

Rs 30,500 crore

What is it? The amount Maharashtra government was set to waive off in farm loans, according to its chief minister last week.

Why is it important? The government has now said it would waive off all farm loans, in response to farmers’ unrest.  The final amount is yet to be confirmed, but the amount the government was willing to waive off represents over 98% of the state’s planned capital expenditure of Rs 31,006 crore. The promise of the waiver of all outstanding loan payments saw farmers end their strike of over a week.

Tell me more: The strike had seen destruction of farm and dairy produce, leading to a rise in prices in the state.

 

17.79 million-tonne

What is it? India’s fuel consumption in May, 2017.

Why is it important? The country’s fuel demand rose 5.4%, the most in the last six months. It had suffered a setback in January-March, when demand fell following demonetisation. The pickup began last month.

Tell me more: Diesel, which comprises 40% of the sales, rose 8% to 7.5 million-tonne, while petrol 15% to 2.4 million-tonne, in May, 2017 over last year.

 

4

What is it? The number of days of listing time for initial public offerings (IPOs), the markets regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is considering.

Why is it important? It would be less than the present norm of six days taken to list a company on the stock exchanges from the end of bidding in an IPO. The reduction aims to cut the time for which investors’ money is locked in, a move Sebi had been mulling for a few years.

Tell me more: In 2015, the applications supported by blocked amount (Asba), a mandatory service for retail investors, was introduced cutting down listing times. It made banks debit the investment only after the stock allotment. By January, 2016, the time gap came down to six days from the earlier 12 days.

 

66

What is it? The number of items for which GST (Goods and Services Tax) Council has reduced tax rates.

Why is it important? The council was facing demands to reduce tax rates for 133 goods and services, and it’s an indicator of intense pressure it is facing as the government prepares to roll out GST from 1st July. The council also relaxed rules for more number of small and medium businesses – by increasing the the upper limit for the ‘composition scheme’ to Rs 75 lakh. Composition scheme exempts small businesses with a certain turnover from GST, and lets some of them pay GST at a concessional rate.

Tell me more: The items with reduced rates include some cinema tickets, insulin, instant food mixes and printers. GST council will meet again to clear the remaining issues – including e-way bills and lotteries – on June 18th.

 

$2.68 million

What is it? The amount an anonymous bidder will donate to a San Francisco charity to have lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett.

Why is it important? The bid amount is down from $3.46 million in 2016, also from an anonymous donor. Auctioned on ebay, Power Lunch with Warren Buffett has been garnering over a million dollars every year in the last ten years. The annual auctions began in 2000.

Tell me more: Glide, the charity, helps the homeless, homeless women and drug users  in San Francisco. Buffett has raised over 25 million for Glide in the 18 auctions so far.

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The Art of the Deal

$7.8 billion

What is it? Estimated government IT spending in India in 2017, according to Gartner.

Why is it important? It represents a growth of 7.5% from 2016, but down from earlier estimation of 9.5%. The revision underlines the concern that India’s government spending is shrinking when it should be gearing up on the back of slowdown in economic growth. Credit Suisse in a report said the overall government spending might be revised down to meet fiscal deficit targets.

Tell me more: Gartner said the downward revision was due to “effects of demonetization and a drop in industrial production.” .

 

7

What is it? The number of Maharashtra districts witnessing farmer protests.

Why is it important? In these districts, farmers stopped vehicles carrying farm and dairy produce headed for cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Aurangabad. They are agitating to ensure higher prices for their produce and demand a farm loan waiver similar to that in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP government in Maharashtra will have to spend Rs 30,500 crore to do so.

Tell me more: Even though the Fadnavis government had said it would study UP’s move, the farmers’ association has complained they got no assurance on Tuesday, leading to the strike.

 

317

What is it? The number of seats Conservative Party is predicted to win in next week’s UK general elections.

Why is it important? If the prediction turns out to be right, the party will fall short of 9 seats for a majority, leading to a hung parliament. Only twice since 1926 did the elections yield such results in the UK – in 1974 and 2010. If Conservatives fail to get a majority, its dependence on smaller parties will go up diluting its stand on policies.

Tell me more: Conservatives, under Theresa May, called for snap election on June 8, to pave the way for smoother Brexit-related legislation, as it now has only a thin majority of 17.

 

$124.7 million

What is it? The revenue of driverless vehicle technology company, Mobileye, in the Jan-Mar quarter.

Why is it important? The Israeli company’s revenues increased by 66%, on the back of new partners such as major automakers and development of complex driver assistance systems. Mobileye is in the midst of being bought out by Intel.

Tell me more: While Intel has moved to acquire it, end users such as BMW, Nissan and Volkswagen have signed up for its camera-enabled self-driving car systems that avoid collisions. Ensuring safety is the priority in the driverless automobile engineering, even as collisions serve as grim reminders to their limits.

 

$4.2 billion

What is it? The amount Russian government will lend India towards the construction cost of two nuclear power reactors.

Why is it important? The credit line is a part of a much awaited deal to jointly build two nuclear power reactors at Kudankulam nuclear power station in Tamil Nadu. It was one among the five deals signed by India and Russia during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country. The agreement would lead to building of units 5 and 6 at Kudankulam, each with a capacity of 1000MW.

Tell me more: The two reactors will be built by India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Russia’s Atomstroyexport. India has 22 nuclear power reactors at present with an overall capacity of  6780 MW.

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