SEBI panel proposes stricter norms for RTAs

SEBI proposed that the board of RTA should have public interest directors when it becomes a QRTA.

A Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) panel on Friday proposed tighter ownership and governance norms for registrar and transfer agents (RTAs).

According to a discussion paper released by Sebi, the panel, headed by former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor R. Gandhi, felt that since RTAs manage sensitive investor-related data, there need to be stricter governance rules for them.

RTAs maintain detailed records of all investor transactions in mutual funds and shares. They also help investors complete their transactions and receive a record of their account statements.

This is the second discussion paper by the panel after some market participants suggested it should add credit rating agencies (CRAs), RTAs and debenture trustees (DTs) in the list of market infrastructure institutions (MIIs) and frame stricter norms for them, similar to those followed by MIIs such as exchanges, depositories and clearing corporations.

The panel, however, felt RTAs, CRAs and debenture trustees need not be categorized as MIIs but suggested that RTAs should have tighter norms.

In September 2017, Sebi had defined qualified RTAs (QRTAs) as “RTAs servicing more than 20 million folios”. The Sebi panel felt that once an RTA becomes a QRTA, enhanced ownership norms should be applied to them.

In India, there are only two RTAs (Karvy Computershare Pvt. Ltd. and Computer Age Management Services Pvt. Ltd.) which service 90% of the mutual fund folios. Karvy has around 40% market share in corporate folios.

The Sebi panel said QRTAs should either have a dispersed ownership or be owned by regulated entities or entities in the business of RTA.

While regulated entities can be allowed to hold 100% in RTAs, unregulated entities should not be allowed to hold more than 49% collectively and 15% individually in RTAs, the panel said. If the QRTA is an in-house entity or one that performs the function exclusively for one entity only, such ownership norms may not be required, the paper said. However, when an RTA becomes a QRTA, it may be given five years to achieve the proposed ownership structure, said the Sebi panel.

Sebi proposed that the board of RTA should have public interest directors (PIDs) when it becomes a QRTA.

“If the chairperson is a non-executive director, the QRTA shall have at least one-third of the board of directors as PIDs; and where the QRTA does not have a regular non-executive chairperson, it shall have at least half of the board of directors as PIDs,” according to the Sebi panel.

With regard to CRAs, the panel said since Sebi has already put in place tighter norms for CRAs, they need not be categorized as MIIs and be subjected to further stringency.

However, the panel proposed that the so-called “Appeal Committee” in CRAs should be renamed as ‘Review Committee’, as the word appeal has a legal connotation to it. Further, the review committee of CRAs should have independent members, the Sebi panel said.

On DTs, which act as intermediaries between the issuer of debentures and the holders of debentures, the Sebi panel said there are already quite a few challenges before them in performing their obligations and that the function of DTs is still evolving. “Therefore, the committee is of the view that the review of ownership and governance of DTs is not the immediate priority.”

Source: Live Mint

Indian Economy seems to be on way to recovering from Demonetisation Disruptions, says IMF

India’s economy has expanded strongly in recent years, said Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director of IMF.

IMF has underscored the significance of reforms in other key sectors like education, health and improving the efficiency of the banking and financial systems.

 

The Indian economy now seems to be on its way to recovering from disruptions caused by demonetisation and roll-out of goods and services tax, the IMF said today. At the same time, the IMF has underscored the significance of reforms in other key sectors like education, health and improving the efficiency of the banking and financial systems.

India’s economy has expanded strongly in recent years, thanks to macroeconomic policies that emphasise stability and efforts to tackle supply-side bottlenecks and structural reforms. Disruptions from demonetisation and the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) did slow growth,” Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director of IMF, told PTI in an interview.

“However, with the economy expanding by 7.2 per cent in the latest quarter, India has regained the title of the fastest-growing major economy, Zhang said.

Calling this development a “welcome change”, Zhang said the growth prospects remain positive.

“That said, the Indian economy would benefit from further reforms, such as enhancing health and education, encouraging private and public investment, and improving the efficiency of the banking and financial system. This would support durable and inclusive growth and enable India to move toward the income levels of wealthier countries, the top IMF official said ahead of his visit to India.

Given the dominance of cash in everyday transactions in the Indian economy it was inevitable that demonetization would temporarily affect economic activity, said Zhang who is travelling to India and Bhutan from March 12 until March 20.
The rollout of the GST last year was a landmark accomplishment that can be expected to enhance the efficiency of intra-Indian movement of goods and services, create a common national market, enhance tax buoyancy, and boost GDP growth and job creation, he said.

 

Yet the complexities and glitches in GST implementation also resulted in short-term disruptions. As I mentioned earlier, the economy now seems to be on its way to recovering from those disruptions, Zhang said in response to a question.

When asked about the latest Indian budget, which many critics say is protectionist in nature, Zhang said IMF research indicates that tariffs are broadly contractionary, reducing output, investment, and employment.

Trade tariffs may give limited relief to industries and workers that directly compete with affected imports. However, they can raise costs to consumers and other businesses that use the protected products. Tariffs also would reduce incentives for businesses to compete and improve efficiency, he cautioned.

Since the opening of the economy starting in the early-1990s, India has benefitted from trade liberalization, he observed.

Further supply-side reforms aimed at improving the business climate could enhance these benefits, the top IMF official asserted.

Noting that the IMF and India have close relations, and the two have always been good partners, Zhang said his visit is a reflection of this partnership, as is the newest regional capacity development center, SARTTAC, based in New Delhi.

The center partners with India and its South Asian neighbors to build strong institutions and implement policies that promote growth and poverty reduction in the region, he said.

My visit is an opportunity to exchange views with the Indian authorities, senior RBI officials, and representatives from the Indian business community, civil society, and others, he said.

Zhang will also have a presentation on financial technology that will take place on Monday at the National Stock Exchange of India.

We will go over the latest trends in financial technology and their effects on the global economy and India, said the top IMF official.

Source: NDTV

Forex reserves jump by $168 million to $421 billion

The country’s foreign exchange reserves rose by USD 167.8 million to USD 420.758 billion in the week to March 2 on an increase in core currency assets, the Reserve Bank of India said today.

In the previous reporting week, the reserves had declined by USD 1.13 billion to USD 420.591 billion. The reserves had touched a life-time high of USD 421.914 billion on February 9.

 

It had crossed the USD 400-billion mark for the first time in the week to September 8 last year, but has been fluctuating since then. In the week to March 2, the foreign currency assets, a major component of the overall reserves, rose by USD 177.2 million to USD 395.642 billion, the apex bank said.

 

Expressed in the US dollar terms, the foreign currency assets include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of the non-US currencies such as the euro, the pound and the yen held in the reserves.

 

The value of gold reserves increased by USD 8.1 million to USD 21.522 billion, the central bank said.

 

The special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund declined by USD 7.4 million to USD 1.529 billion. The country’s reserve position with IMF also declined by USD 10.1 million to USD 2.064 billion, the RBI said.

 

Source: Business Standard

 

PNB fraud fallout: RBI tells banks to link SWIFT with CBS by 30 April

The PNB fraud, which happened via SWIFT, went undetected since it was not linked to core banking solutions (CBS) and because checks failed at several levels
RBI has announced the setting up of a panel under the chairmanship of Y.H. Malegam to study rising cases of bank fraud and set out a blueprint to curb them.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set 30 April as the deadline for banks to integrate SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) with core banking solutions (CBS) as it looks to strengthen internal controls in banks following the Rs11,400 crore PNB fraud.

“That (30 April) could be a deadline but it is an outer limit. Today, the urgency is such that everyone wants this project to be on fast track,” Usha Ananthasubramanian, managing director and chief executive officer of Allahabad Bank, and chairman of the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), said on the sidelines of an IBA event on Friday.

“There is already a mandate from RBI that you need to comply with this straight through processing and combining SWIFT with CBS… Everybody has started…” she added.

The PNB fraud revolves around SWIFT. Branch officials of the lender fraudulently issued letters of undertaking, basically guarantees, to jeweller Nirav Modi-linked companies without getting proper approvals and without making entries in CBS, the software used to support a bank’s most common transactions.

The scam that happened via SWIFT went undetected since it was not linked to CBS and because checks failed at several levels, say experts.

RBI announced the setting up of a panel under the chairmanship of Y.H. Malegam, a former member of its central board of directors, to study rising cases of bank fraud and set out a blueprint to curb them.

In a letter to banks, RBI also reiterated that they must strictly comply with the principle of “four eyes”—that each SWIFT message must be processed by four bank officials: a maker, a checker, a verifier and an authorizer—two people who have seen the letter said on condition of anonymity.

“Apart from talking about maker-checker concept, RBI has asked banks to maintain a Chinese wall between officials dealing with SWIFT and CBS,” said a senior official at Mumbai-based bank, one of the two people cited above.

Source:  The Economic Times

IGST payout: Govt refunds Rs 4,000 crore to exporters; asks them to clear mismatch issues

Even as the government grapples with incomplete details and mismatch errors in refund claims by exporters, it has refunded Rs 4,000 crore out of verified claims of Rs 5,000-6,000 crore on account of payment of Integrated GST (IGST) on exports under the goods and services tax (GST) regime. Incomplete details in refund claims and mismatch errors by exporters are creating a hurdle in processing the remaining refund amount, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) Chairman Vanaja N Sarna said, adding that the exporters should come forward to rectify the errors as officials are working overtime to ensure a smooth payout of the refunds. “There are mismatch issues for which exporters should come forward and sort out. They are being requested to come forward through SMS/emails to sort out issues which are remaining. We are working 24×7 to allow refunds to exporters. They have to come and rectify their mistakes to get the refund,” Sarna told The Indian Express.

Government officials said that the total refund claims received by GST Network (GSTN) are approximately of Rs 13,000 crore, out of which claims worth only Rs 5,000-6,000 crore have been verified so far and forwarded to CBEC for facilitating disbursement of refunds. Separately, the government has also refunded Rs 2,000 crore as input tax credit to exporters, Sarna said.

Under GST, exporters are required to pay IGST on exports and then claim refunds. The second type of refunds to exporters under GST involve refund of GST paid on purchase of inputs.

For refund of IGST paid on exports, the exporters are required to file GSTR 3 B and table 6A of GSTR 1 on the GSTN portal and shipping bills on the customs EDI (electronic data interchange) system. For refund of the unutilised input tax credit on inputs used in making exports, the exporters are required to file Form GST RFD- 01A on the GST portal. In instructions issued to Customs authorities by CBEC on October 9, the CBEC had said that filing of correct EGM is a must for treating shipping bill or bill of export as a refund claim.

Explaining the errors filed in the refund claims, Sarna said that in some instances, exporters have filled metric tonne (weight) of exported goods instead of the refund amount. Or, in some cases, the shipping bill has a number in place of an alphabet. “Some things are missing, there are some blank spaces, the system won’t accept until that gets corrected. That rectification has to be done by the exporters,” she said.

Similarly, there are EGM (Export General Manifest) mismatches or invoice mismatches in the refund claims by exporters. “I have been asking CBEC officials to reach out to exporters. I recently visited Hyderabad, there we have started sending e-mails to exporters that this is the flaw, please come forward and repair it, so that we can give the refund. CBEC officials are calling people and asking them to come and rectify their mistake,” Sarna said.

As per a CBEC release dated November 29, the quantum of IGST refund claims as filed through shipping bills during July to October 2017, was approximately Rs 6,500 crore and the quantum of refund of unutilised credit on inputs or input services filed on GSTN portal, was about Rs 30 crore. The refund claims have subsequently been revised upwards to around Rs 13,000 crore, but only about half of them have complete details to facilitate complete verification, officials said.

A study as part of RBI’s Mint Street Memos series had earlier this month had stated that the implementation and refund delays under the new indirect tax regime of GST seem to have led to working capital constraints for firms, which in turn might have hurt their exports in October 2017. However, the subsequent initiatives taken by the government since then appear to have significantly alleviated exporters’ concerns which got reflected in the exports growth pick up in November and December 2017, it had said.

The study had indicated that a short-term liquidity shock impacted firms in the export sector, with the firms with high working capital/sales ratio such as such as, petroleum and gems and jewellery sectors hit the most due to the liquidity constraints.

Source: Indian Express

Forex reserves rise to $421.72 bn

India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $1.96 billion to $421.72 billion on February 16, compared to the previous week. Foreign currency assets (FCAs), which form a key component of reserves, rose by $1.925 billion from the previous week to $396.572 billion.

India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $1.96 billion to $421.72 billion on February 16, compared to the previous week.

Foreign currency assets (FCAs), which form a key component of reserves, rose by $1.925 billion from the previous week to $396.572 billion.

FCAs are maintained in major currencies like US dollar, euro, pound sterling and Japanese yen.

Movement in the FCAs occur mainly on account of purchase and sale of foreign exchange by the RBI, income arising out of the deployment of foreign exchange reserves, external aid receipts of the government and revaluation of assets.

Gold reserves remained stable at $21.514 billion.

Special drawing rights (SDR) from the International Monetary Fund rose by $13 million from the previous week to $1.546 billion.

SDR is an international reserve asset created by the IMF and allocated to its members in proportion of their quota at the IMF.

The Reserve Position in the IMF rose by $21.7 million to $2.087 billion.

 

Source: Financial Express

Forex reserves surge by $4.1 bn to a new high of $421 bn

India’s foreign exchange reserves swelled by USD 4.12 billion to a new high of USD 421.914 billion on a healthy increase in the core currency assets and uptick in the gold stock, the Reserve Bank said today.

 

The total reserves had risen by USD 3 billion to USD 417.89 billion in the previous reporting week.

 

The reserves had crossed the USD 400-billion mark for the first time in the week to September 8, 2017 but have been fluctuating since then.

 

However, there has been a continuous surge since the start of this year for the fifth straight week. In reporting week to February 2, foreign currency assets, a major component of the overall reserves, rose by USD 3.025 billion to USD 396.769 billion, the RBI said.

 

Expressed in US dollar terms, the foreign currency assets include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of the non-US currencies such as the euro, the pound and the yen held in the reserves.

 

The value of gold reserves rose USD 1.092 billion to USD 21.514 billion during the week, the central bank said.

 

The country’s special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund rose by USD 3.2 million to USD 1.547 billion, while the country’s reserve position with the Fund jumped by USD 4.3 million to USD 2.084 billion during the reporting week, the central bank said.

 

Source: Business Standard