Even as the government announced a few measures to deal with the aftermath of the announcement of the withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, the opposition parties have upped their decibel levels against this move. And, the Winter Session of the Parliament commences today. After a highly productive Monsoon Session, which also saw the passing of the GST Bill, it remains to be seen how the current session is going to pan out. Let’s hope some sense prevails amidst all the noise.
What is it? The number of new bills that are in line to be listed, considered and passed during the Winter Session of the Parliament, which begins today.
Why is it important? With opposition parties uniting against the government on its recent demonetisation move, this session could be a disruptive one, impeding productivity. The opposition is likely to demand a discussion on the decision to scrap old currency notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations and seek a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the allegation that some, notably officials of the ruling BJP, knew about the move beforehand.
Tell me more: The nine new bills include three related to the Goods and Services Tax, one that declares the Indian Institutes of Management to be institutions of national importance and another for surrogacy regulation. This session’s agenda also lists 10 bills that have already been introduced, but are yet to be considered and passed.
What is it? Retail inflation rate in October, down from 4.39% in September.
Why is it important? The rate has eased for the third straight month, to a 14-month low in October, mainly due to smaller increases in food prices. Wholesale price inflation too eased to a four-month low of 3.39% in October, compared to 3.57% in September. This easing increases the chances of the central bank’s monetary policy committee cutting interest rates again next month. The government’s recent demonetisation move is likely to reduce cash transactions, easing inflation further.
Tell me more: Last month, the monetary policy committee cut the repo rate (the rate at which the central bank lends to banks) by 25 basis points to 6.25%, which was near a six-year low.
What is it? The debt-equity ratio of the smallest firms (by market capitalisation) among 305 non-financial BSE-500 companies in 2015-16.
Why is it important? The debt-equity ratio is a measure of a company’s financial leverage. This study, which divided the 305 companies into four quartiles, showed this ratio was the highest (2.41) for the bottom quartile (77 firms with the smallest market cap) and lowest (0.83) for the top quartile (76 firms with the highest market cap). This goes against the popular perception that debt problems plague larger firms only. In another indicator that points to this, the average debt of the least-valuable firms is 2.3 times their market cap, against 0.32 for the most-valuable ones.
Tell me more: For both sets, their ability to meet interest expenses hit a 10-year low in 2015-16. For the least-valuable firms, the interest coverage ratio fell below 1, indicating their operating income was insufficient to meet interest costs.
What is it? The projected salary hike to be offered by Indian companies to employees in 2017, according to Willis Towers Watson, an advisory, broking and business solutions company.
Why is it important? This is the highest among key emerging and developed markets in Asia. However, the expected rise in 2017 is marginally lower than the projected salary growth of 10.8% each in 2015 and 2016. Also, in the last two years, the actual salary growth has been below the projected figures: 10.45% in 2015 and 10% in 2016.
Tell me more: The Willis Towers Watson report says about 38% of the budget earmarked for salary increases is for top performers, against 34% for above-average and 28% for average performers.
Why is it important? The initiative, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP21, Paris Climate Summit last year, has taken its first major step forward. More countries are expected to join the ISA in the coming weeks and the agreement will come into force when at least 15 nations ratify it. The ISA seeks to boost global demand for solar energy to reduce solar energy deployment prices, standardise processes and equipment for solar generation to lower hardware costs, and promote research and development.
Tell me more: The ISA would be headquartered in India, which has promised to contribute $27 million towards creating infrastructure and recurring expenditure over five years.