News in Numbers, Mar 30, 2017: Bills and losses

14 paise/minute

What is it? The least possible retail price for calls according to leading mobile players Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

Why is it important? Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has rejected the claim. This puts a spanner in the works of embattled telecom players. They had rallied around to protest call charges lower than the interconnect charge of 14 paise a minute. This is paid by the operator on whose network a call originates to the recipient network operator. At the centre of the storm is Reliance Jio, whose pricing is being termed as predatory as its ‘free’ consumer offers involves paying other networks the interconnect charge. It has ardently lobbied for dropping of even the interconnect charges to be able to price its products even lower. But it would hit the income of other networks for connecting Jio’s calls.

Tell me more: Trai will present its argument of rejecting interconnect charges as the minimum retail price to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal this week.

 

213 megawatts

What is it? India’s net exported power in April-February, 2017, turning it into a net exporter for the first time since exports began the mid-80s.

Why is it important? Even as states like Bihar continue to reel from scarce power supply, India turns net exporter, after commissioning new power lines through parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. It exported 5,798 megawatts to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and imported 5,585 megawatts from Bhutan.

Tell me more: India started exporting electricity in the mid-80s but remained a net importer so far. More cross-border linkages with higher voltage will raise the quantity.

 

4

What is it? The number of money bills, part the last GST-related statutes batch, passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, during the ongoing budget session of the Parliament.

Why is it important? The seminal tax reform, Goods and Services Tax, could now see the light of day as early as July 1, across India. GST will create a uniform indirect tax structure and making the states and Centre equal stakeholders in it through the GST council. With the last four bills — central GST bill, the integrated GST bill, the Union Territory GST bill, and the GST (compensation to states) bill — passed by the lower house, the Rajya Sabha has 14 days to make recommendations only on the laws (money bills).

Tell me more: Between April and May, the GST council will have to categorise goods and services in the four taxation slabs for GST — 5%, 12%, 28% and 28%.

 

5

What is it? The number of amendments with which the finance bill was passed in Rajya Sabha.

Why is it important? The amendments included those relating to additional powers to income tax officials and political funding by companies. These moves by the government were not only criticised for giving too much power to tax officials and reducing transparency, they were also criticised for using Finance Bill to pass far reaching reforms. Rajya Sabha has limited power over Money Bill, it can suggest changes, but Lok Sabha need not accept them. BJP has a majority in Lok Sabha.

Tell me more: Three amendments were moved by Digvijaya Singh of Congress and the remaining two by Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M)

 

Rs 12,000 crore

What is it? The projected loss to automobile sector, including manufacturers and dealers, if the sale of BS-III (those complying to Bharat Stage 3 emission norms) vehicles are stopped from April.

Why is it important? Supreme court banned the sales of all the BS-III vehicles effective April, saying emissions from these vehicles impact the health. Manufacturers still have 8.24 vehicles that comply to BS-III norms, and junking them would result in the losses. However, the Supreme Court said the deadline was set 6 years ago, and the industry was given enough time to prepare for the transition. The vehicles in stock include 96,724 commercial vehicles, 6,71,308 two-wheelers, 40,048 three-wheelers and 16,198 cars. They are now rushing to clear these inventories now.

Tell me more: BS III corresponds to Euro III norms. BS IV – corresponding to Euro IV – is slated to be imposed from April 1st 2017, and BS VI, with even higher standards is expected to come into force by 2020.

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News in Numbers, Mar 07, 2017: Landing in a small town ✈

Rs 4,500 crore

What is it? The amount the government plans to spend on developing or upgrading 50 airports which were either underserved or unserved.

Why is it important? The government is going ahead with its plans to equip small regional airports/airstrips to ferry traffic, even as only 13 out of 125 airports under the Airports Authority of India’s (AAI) are profitable. Besides the funding for developing the new airports, the authorities will also spend further on incentivising flight operators with gap-funding. Fifteen more regional airports have to be upgraded besides the 50, according to AAI’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (named UDAN).

Tell me more: Fifteen airports will be refurbished in FY18 and FY19, and 20 more in FY20.

 

2 paise

What is it? The rate for one megabyte (MB) of data over WiFi at local public hotspots, as proposed by Trai, the telecom regulator.

Why is it important? This would help increase the demand and setting up of local public hotspots. With one-sixth of the world’s population, India’s share in WiFi hotspots is less than one-thousandth. By reducing the price of wireless Internet access from the existing 10 paise an MB in mobile telecom services, Trai is looking provide 800,000 additional hotspots to equal the global average of one hotspot for every 150 people.

Tell me more: Trai’s proposed local hotspots could be maintained by small entities, from small businesses, communities, individuals, to application providers. Local players’ involvement would also reduce the load on strained spectrum of established mobile operators.

 

$2.3 billion

What is it? The value of the sale of General Motors’ Opel/Vauxhall unit and its European financial arm to Peugeot-maker PSA Group.

Why is it important? It shows one of the largest car manufacturers in the world is changing lanes from a widespread but unprofitable presence to a less-global, but profitable one. A few years ago, the top three — Volkswagen, Toyota and GM — would eye the world-leader crown every year with units of cars sold. Selling its Europe unit would increase the gap between GM and the other two, but it would also free it of an arm that has incurred losses since 1999.

Tell me more: The Opel/Vauxhall brand contributed 11% of GM’s total revenue in 2016. After bankruptcy in 2009, GM’s home market in North America has done well.

 

Rs 259.8 per hour

What is it? The median gross hourly salary of women in India in 2016, according to the Monster Salary Index.

Why is it important? That is about 25% less than what men earned at Rs 345.8 per hour. While the gap has come down marginally compared to a year before, it highlights the ground that needs to be covered before India has fair and non-discriminatory workplace.

Tell me more: The gender gap is just one of the many indicators of gender inequality in the country. Infant mortality rate for female is higher, the expected years of schooling is lower, unemployment rates are higher, access to finance in terms of loans and deposits are lower.

 

$2.46 billion

What is it? Value of investments in Indian startups by private equity and venture capital firms in 2016, according to Grant Thornton.

Why is it important? This is down by about half from $4.97 billion in 2015, and indicates that investors are more cautious about the expectations of growth in the market. It also reflects the valuation markdowns that unicorns such as Flipkart faced in the recent months.

Tell me more: Overall investments by PE and VC investors dropped in 2016, with $14 billion invested across in 971 deals in 2016, from $16 billion invested in 1,045 deals a year before.

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News in Numbers, Feb 20, 2017: The cost of a Tirupathi Laddu

Rs 2,500 crore

What is it? The estimated cost of re-verification of existing mobile subscribers through Aadhaar-based electronic know-your-customer process.

Why is it important? The attempt to weed out fake or forged identities used to secure telecom connections, especially wireless ones, will be a costly one. In January, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) proposed the e-KYC for Aadhaar-based ratification of users, and suggested incentives to help it.

Tell me more: In a letter to the Telecom Department, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) estimates that not just the cost, but the process would also require resources to rope in about 1,000 million subscribers.

 

26

What is it? The number of army personnel that died in the first 50 days of 2017.

Why is it important? The unrest in Kashmir from summer last year continues this year, triggering more counter-insurgency measures that claimed six soldiers in 2017. The rest of the security forces were killed in avalanches in the valley, a result of global warming. These deadly 50 days follow a year with the highest death count of 82 among the J&K forces since 2008.

Tell me more: But the counter-insurgency operations led to the death of 22 militants, the highest since 2010.

 

-$1,020 million

What is it? The difference in income of terror group, Islamic State, between 2014 and 2016.

Why is it important? The effects of political moves against ISIS, such as Operation Tidal Wave II, reduction in cross-border smuggling in Turkish and Kurdish-controlled areas in Iraq etc. and military opposition to its expansion are starting to show. Unlike other terror groups, donors play a negligible part in ISIS’ finances. Its territories yield natural resources, and properties, businesses and people to pillage and tax, for its to extract revenue from. But a shrinking territorial grasp has hit its coffers too.

Tell me more: Its biggest source of money — looting, confiscations and fines — have declined from 52% of its income of $970-1,890 million in 2014 to 22% of its  $520-870 million income in 2016, according to a report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence .

 

Rs 140 crore

What is it? The annual loss to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, the trust that manages the famous Tirumala temple in Andhra Pradesh, on account of laddus, an offering made to the deity of the temple, and sold at subsidised rates or given away free to the pilgrims.

Why is it important?  It costs Rs 32.50 to make a laddu and it’s sold for Rs 25 for the pilgrims in general, at Rs 10 for those who opt for free entry into the temple, and for free to those who walk up the hill. About 70 lakh people reach the temple every year by foot. About 4 crore to 5 crore people visit the temple annually.

 

Tell me more: TTD earns over Rs 2000 every year, primarily from hundi collection.

 

~ 50%

What is it? The share of coal in total exports of North Korea to China.

Why is it important? China has banned coal imports from North Korea following the country’s claim that it has successfully tested ballistic missiles recently. China also accounts for over two thirds of North Korea’s exports. The move is expected to cause a shock to the struggling North Korean economy under Kim Jong-un and aimed to increase pressure on the country to stop its nuclear programme.

Tell me more: North Korea tested a medium long range ballistic missile on February 12, which landed in the Sea of Japan. China has been reducing trade with North Korea partly due to local economic compulsions and partly because of international pressure to impose trade sanctions on the country.

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News in Numbers, Oct 24, 2016: The power of Five

Ink_marking_after_Vote_(India)

This February is likely to see a lot of action: the Union Budget is expected to be announced and five states likely to go for polls. The situation in each of the five states seems interesting: in Punjab, the ruling BJP-SAD alliance is looking to retain power even as Congress and new entrant AAP are looking to dethrone the alliance after two successive terms. Goa has a similar situation: BJP wanting to be back in power and up against the same two parties. In Uttarakhand, the Congress, which reclaimed power after a brief President’s rule, is all set to battle it out with the BJP. In Manipur, BJP is looking to strengthen its northeastern presence while the Congress is trying to hold on to its authority. The battle in Uttar Pradesh is getting more and more interesting by the day: the BJP is trying to re-create the magic it weaved during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections (it won 71 of the 80 seats), SP is dealing with its own set of problems while BSP is trying to get the better of both. Here’s to interesting times ahead.

 

 

5

What is it? The number of states – Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Punjab – likely to go on polls simultaneously in February-March.

Why is it important? The results in the five states would be an indicator of BJP’s popularity (which swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections) and how people perceive its performance at the Centre whereas for the Congress, it would be a way to gauge if the party can see a revival as just 6% of India’s population live in Congress-ruled states – the lowest since Independence. For Aam Aadmi Party, it would indicate the progress it has made outside Delhi even as it nurtures ambitions to grow into a national party.

Tell me more: The Indian government has reportedly approached the Election Commission to seek its permission to present the General Budget in the Lok Sabha on February 1 in order to avoid violating themodel code of conduct that would kick in from the day the election schedule is announced until the results are declared.

 

Rs 1.25-1.5 lakh crore

What is it? The quantum of stressed assets Indian banks are reportedly looking to recover in the next few months.

Why is it important? After having identified the extent of bad loans and having provided capital for them, banks are now progressing to the next step of recovery. Last week, Essar Group sold 98% stake in its oil unit and other assets (largest debt reduction exercise by an Indian business) and three banks – ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and StanChart – got back an estimated $2.5 billion (around Rs 16,750 crore) as part of the first payment for their loans to the group. This is expected to give a boost to the recovery process initiated by the banks.

Tell me more: The lenders are hoping to recover the loans through resolution methods such as sale of assets, transfer to asset reconstruction companies and strategic debt restructuring (allows creditors to convert debt into equity and take over the management of defaulting companies).

 

Rs 3,050 crore

What is it? The penalty recommended to be imposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular for not providing sufficient interconnect points to Reliance Jio.

Why is it important? This brings an end to the three-month long dispute between the three incumbents and the new entrant Reliance Jio. The telecom regulator ruled that the three firms deliberately blocked the calls made from Reliance Jio’s network, a move considered to have been done with the intention of stifling competition. This was in response to Reliance Jio’s complaint that 75% of the calls made on its network were failing as the incumbents were not providing it with adequate points of interconnection necessary to complete the calls.

Tell me more: For Airtel and Vodafone, the regulator has recommended a penalty of Rs 50 crore per circle for 21 service areas while for Idea Cellular, it is Rs 50 crore for 19 service areas. The regulator has floated a consultation paper that aims to review the existing provisions for interconnection. Interconnection is thearrangement under which telecom firms connect their networks, equipment and services to enable their subscribers to get access to the subscribers, services and networks of other telecom firms

 

$85.4 billion

What is it? The deal size of US telecom giant AT&T buying out entertainment group Time Warner.

Why is it important? If approved by the regulators, this would be the biggest deal in the world this year. The deal would help the third largest cable TV provider in the US (owns mobile phone, broadband and cable TV networks) to transform itself into a full service media provider – owning content would help provide a competitive advantage over the others. This is likely to spark industry consolidation and bring in changes in the way people consume content.

Tell me more: However, it remains to be seen if the deal is allowed to happen as US lawmakers and both the presidential candidates have raised questions about it – the acquisition is considered to be anti-competitive by some. A Senate sub-committee, which is responsible for competition, will hold a hearing in November.

 

$1.7 billion

What is it? The amount Chinese consumers spent on Apple-sanctioned apps in the July-September quarter this year, according to a report.

Why is it important? With this, they have exceeded the spend by Americans (nearly $1.45 billion) by 15% in this period. Chinese consumers spent five times more on Apple apps in the third quarter of 2016 than what they spent two years ago. The report noted that China is likely to drive the largest absolute revenue growth for any country by 2020. Apple recently announced the opening of its research and development centre in China even as it saw its year-on-year revenues fall by 33% in Greater China in its fiscal third quarter.

Tell me more: In terms of market share, domestic firms – Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi – command a 56% market share in China, pushing Apple to the fifth position (8% market share), according to research firm IDC.

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