Current Affairs February 2018 - Finance


1 - Axis Bank launched the fourth edition of ‘Evolve’

Axis Bank

Axis Bank has launched the fourth edition of ‘Evolve’ in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. It is an annual multi-city knowledge series for Bank’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) customers. The current edition of 'evolve' is titled as “Transform your Family Business into your dream company”.

This edition will span across 30 cities including Nagpur, Surat, Rajkot, Pune, Vishakhapatnam, Trichy, Kanpur, Ludhiana and Jamshedpur. The series aims to equip the participating SMEs with new-age strategies, live case studies etc.

2 - 6th Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement released by RBI


On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, Monetary Policy Committee maintained the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.0%.Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains at 5.75%, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.25%.

The MPC noted that the economy is on a recovery path, including early signs of a revival of investment activity. Global demand is improving, which should help strengthen domestic investment activity.

3 - RBI to link base rate with MCLR from 1 April


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will link the base rate for loans with the marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) from 1 April.

RBI had introduced MCLR system with effect from April 1, 2016 to facilitate greater passing on of the benefit of reduction in policy rates to lending rates. MCLR is calculated on the basis of incremental cost of funds while base rate is calculated by taking into account average cost of funds.

4 - RBI to set up Ombudsman for Non-Banking Finance Companies

Non-Banking Finance Companies

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced to set up an ombudsman for Non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) with an aim to strengthen the customer grievance redressal mechanism.

The Ombudsman Scheme is expected to be operationalized by the end of February 2018. Initially it would be started with deposit-taking NBFCs and later on cover NBFCs with asset size of Rs 100 crore or more. At present, there are around 20 banking ombudsmen with offices in major state capitals in the country.

5 - IndusInd Bank unveils new Sonic Identity

IndusInd Bank

IndusInd Bank launched its new Sonic Identity which is essentially a musical logo to build the Bank's brand imagery with the strategic use of music and sound for brand experiences and audience connection.

The musical logo is also referred to as the MOGO™ (short for musical LOGO). The sonic identity is derived from the Bank's persona and core values of innovation, courage and dynamism.

6 - Government proposed to allow premature closure of PPF account


Government has proposed to allow premature closure of Public Provident Fund (PPF) accounts and permit opening of small savings accounts in the name of minor. It will make amendments in Small Savings Act in this regard.

The government has also proposed merger of Government Savings Certificates Act, 1959 and Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 with the Government Savings Banks Act, 1873. The government has not make any change in interest rate or tax policy on small savings scheme through this amendment.

7 - RBI issued revised guidelines for expeditious resolution of bad loans

Bad Loans

Reserve Bank of India has issued a revised framework for expeditious resolution of bad loans, harmonising the existing guidelines with the norms specified in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). The new guidelines have specified framework for early identification and reporting of stressed assets.

RBI also announced to do away with the Joint Lenders' Forum (JLF) as an institutional mechanism for resolution of stressed accounts. The revised framework will govern all accounts, including those where any of the schemes have been invoked but not yet implemented.

8 - SBI wrote off bad loans worth ₹20,339 crore in 2016-17


State Bank of India wrote off bad loans worth ₹20,339 crore in 2016-17. The total amount of bad loans written off by all the public sector banks was ₹81,683 crore for 2016-17 with SBI leading the pack.

The PSBs wrote off ₹34,409 crore worth of bad loans in 2013-14, ₹49,018 crore in 2014-15 and ₹57,585 crore in 2015-16. For the quarter ending Sep-17 in the current Financial Year, PSBs have written off loans worth ₹53,625 crore. Also, September quearter, 9 PSBs (out of 21) had gross non-performing asset ratio of above 15% while 14 have GNPA Ratio of over 12%.

9 - Bank of Baroda to shut down its operations in South Africa by March-end

Bank of Baroda

Bank of Baroda has decided to exit its South Africa operations by March-end amid a probe into alleged compliance lapses by the bank there.

The branch will stop taking new/incremental deposits and disbursing loans with effect from March 1, 2018. The branch will cease to operate and conduct the business of a bank with effect from March 31, 2018. The bank had initiated operations in South Africa about 21 years ago. BoB has 107 overseas branches.

10 - RBI relaxed Priority Sector Lending Rule for Banks

Priority Sector

The Reserve Bank of India has relaxed the priority sector lending rule for banks. Henceforth, all loans to micro small and medium enterprises (MSME) will qualify as priority sector lending. Till date, loans up to Rs 10 crore per MSME borrower was considered for priority sector calculation.

The sub-target for bank lending to the micro enterprises has been 7.50 percent of adjusted net bank credit or credit equivalent amount of off-balance sheet exposure, whichever is higher.

11 - Yes Bank announced listing of its debut USD 600 mn MTN Bond on India INX

Yes Bank

Yes Bank has listed its debut USD 600 million bond issue under its maiden USD 1 billion MTN (medium term note) programme on Global Securities Market (“GSM”) of India INX.

India INX is the country’s first international exchange, located at International Financial Services Centre, GIFT City in Gujarat. The bank will use the proceeds to fund the bank’s IFSC Banking Unit (IBU) in Gift City.

12 - NPCI accords consent to roll out WhatsApp BHIM UPI Beta launch


The National Payments Corporation of India, NPCI, has accorded its consent to roll out WhatsApp BHIM UPI beta launch with limited user base of one million and low per transaction limit.

Four banks will join the multi-bank BHIM UPI model. Bharat Interface for Money BHIM-Unified Payments Interface (BHIM UPI) was set up in 2009 as the central infrastructure for various retail payment systems in the country and envisaged by the Reserve Bank of India as a payment utility.

13 - NABARD signs pact to solarize its premises


National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) today entered into a memorandum with Solar Energy Corporation of INDIA (SECI) to install rooftop solar systems on its premises across the country.

The initiative is expected to generate about 4 MW solar power for the institution’s own consumption. Surplus power, if produced, will be supplied to discoms. The move is in line with NABARD and the Union government’s ongoing effort to promote clean energy.

14 - NABARD launched Rs 1,918 cr area development plan for Punjab


The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) announced area development plans worth Rs 1,918 crore for Punjab to supplement farmers' income.

Under this plan, the activities like dairy, vegetable cultivation, bee keeping, mushroom growing will be promoted in order to provide income to farmers at sustainable basis. The investment credit growth in Punjab went down from 37 percent in 2013-14 to 18% in 2016-17 while the overall investment credit growth in India has gone up from 25% to 35%.

15 - Flipkart-owned PhonePe collaborated with Indian Oil to deploy PoS devices


Flipkart-owned PhonePe has collaborated with Indian Oil Corporation to deploy its own point-of-sales (PoS) payment terminals across all IOCL retail outlets. IOCL customers can pay using UPI, credit and debit cards, PhonePe wallet, or other external wallets.

PhonePe is currently live across more than 60K online and offline merchants including MakeMyTrip, PVR, Cleartrip etc. Flipkart acquired PhonePe in April 2016. Flipkart is planning to invest USD 500 million to expand PhonePe’s operations.

16 - PNB Housing Finance Ltd tied up with IFC for affordable housing


PNB Housing Finance Ltd has tied up with International Finance Corporation (IFC) to raise $800 million for green and affordable housing in India. IFC is a part of the World Bank Group.

According to the terms of the agreement, IFC and PNB Housing both will put up $400 million each. IFC will provide $150 million from its own money while the rest will be raised through masala bonds issued by PNB Housing. Masala bonds are rupee-denominated bonds issued in offshore capital markets.

17 - First sale of Electoral Bonds to commence from 1st March

Electoral Bonds

The first sale of Electoral Bonds will commence from the 1st of March for a period of ten days. The Government has authorized four branches of the State Bank of India to issue and encash Electoral Bonds initially.

Electoral Bond will be valid for 15 days from the date of issue and no payment shall be made to any payee Political Party if the Bond is deposited after the expiry of the validity period. The Bond deposited by any eligible political party to its account shall be credited on the same day.

18 - EPFO fixed interest rate at 8.55 % for 2017-18


The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, EPFO has declared 8.55% interest rate for 2017-18 for its about 5 crore members. This was decided during the meeting of Central Board of Trustees of EPFO in New Delhi. For 2016-17 the rate was 8.65% and in 2015-16 the rate was 8.8%.

EPFO has liquidated portion of its investments in the exchange traded funds (ETFs) to bridge the gap to provide 8.55% interest this fiscal.

19 - Fitch put PNB ratings under review for downgrade

PNB Ratings

Fitch Ratings has placed Punjab National Bank's (PNB) Viability Rating on Rating Watch Negative (RWN). Currently, the viability rating stands at “BB”. The possible downgrade of rating is due to the detection of a large fraud in one of the bank’s branches amounting to Rs 11,500 crore.

Moody’s too has placed the bank under review for downgrade. The agency has a Baa3/P-3 rating while it has a Baa3 rating on its foreign currency issuer rating. The bank overall has a Baa2 rating with a stable outlook now from Moody’s.

20 - RBI sets up panel to monitor bad loans and frauds in banks

Monitor Bad Loans

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up an expert committee to look into the issues related to classification of banks' NPAs, rising incidents of frauds and effectiveness of audits. The panel will be headed by former RBI board member Y H Malegam.

The other members of the committee are Bharat Doshi, S. Raman and Nandkumar Saravade. A.K. Misra, Executive Director, RBI, will be the Member-Secretary of the committee.

21 - Capital First given permission to merge with IDFC Bank


National Housing Bank approved merger of Capital First and IDFC Bank. The merger is result of IDFC Bank's stated strategy of "retailing" its business to complete their transformation from a dedicated infrastructure financier to a well-diversified universal bank, and in line with Capital First’s stated intention and strategy to convert to a universal bank.

Capital First brings with it a retail lending franchise with a loan book of Rs 22,974 crores, customer base of 3 million customers; and a distribution network in 228 locations. Post-merger, the combined entity of IDFC Bank and Capital First will have 194 branches.

22 - RBI introduced Ombudsman scheme for NBFCs


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched the Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC) for redressal of complaints against NBFCs registered with RBI under Section 45-IA of the RBI Act, 1934.

The Scheme will provide a cost-free and expeditious complaint redressal mechanism relating to deficiency in the services by NBFCs covered under the Scheme. The offices of the NBFC Ombudsmen will function at four metro centres viz. Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi and will handle complaints of customers in the respective zones.

23 - RBI instructs banks to link SWIFT with CBS by 30th April


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has instructed all banks to integrate SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) with core banking solutions (CBS) within 30 April, 2018.

The SWIFT system promoted in 1973 by banks globally is used to transmit messages relating to cross border financial transactions. Globally over 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries use the services of SWIFT which is viewed as secure.