OPINION, P6 ECONOMY, P2 SAUGATA BHATTACHARYA Govt must increase spending to sustain recovery momentum COMPANIES, P4 SUNIL JAIN TARGET TALK RAPID GROWTH With over 40% of spectrum unsold since 2012 thanks to its irrational pricing, Trai needs a huge overhaul Retain current inflation tolerance band for 5 more years: Kumar Pandemic gave boost to digital payments: Vijay Shekhar Sharma HYDERABAD, THURSDAY, MARCH 4, 2021 FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & FACEBOOK. APP AVAILABLE ON APP STORE & PLAYSTORE WWW.FINANCIALEXPRESS.COM READ TO LEAD VOLUME XVII NO. 260, 12 PAGES, `6.00 P U B L I S H E D F R O M : A H M E D A B A D , B E N G A L U R U , C H A N D I G A R H , C H E N N A I , H Y D E R A B A D , K O C H I , K O L K ATA , L U C K N O W, M U M B A I , N E W D E L H I , P U N E SENSEX: 51,444.65 ▲ 1147.76 NIFTY: 15,245.60 ▲ 326.50 NIKKEI 225: 29,559.10 ▲ 150.93 HANG SENG: 29,880.42 ▲ 784.56 `/$: 72.72 ▲ 0.65 `/€: 88.00 ▲ 0.08 BRENT: $63.34 ▲ $0.64 GOLD: `44,970 ▼ `344 PHASE-3 TRIALS IN THE NEWS IRCON OFS over-subscribed on Day 1 Covaxin efficacy 81%, says Bharat Biotech Private gencos want TN to clear dues PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, March 3 THE OFFER for sale (OFS) of IRCON was over-subscribed on the first day of issue by institutional investors, reports PTI. The government is selling up to 16% stake at a floor price of `88 a share in railway PSU IRCON. The issue will open for retail investors on Thursday. ANUPAM CHATTERJEE New Delhi, March 3 BHARAT BIOTECH ON WednesdaysaiditsCovid-19vaccine Covaxin has demonstrated an interimvaccineefficacyof81% in Phase 3 clinical trials. The process involved 25,800 subjects,thelargest-everconducted inIndia,inpartnershipwiththe Indian Council of Medical Research,theHyderabad-based firm said in a statement. The Phase 3 study enrolled participantsbetween18and98 years of age, including 2,433 over 60 and 4,500 with comorbidities.The first interim analysisisbasedon43cases,ofwhich 36 cases of Covid-19 were observed in the placebo groupvs 7 observedintheCOVAXINgroup, resulting in a point estimate of vaccineefficacyof80.6%,itsaid. Insurance brokers now within ambit of ombudsman THE GOVERNMENT has amended insurance ombudsman rules, bringing insurance brokers within their ambit and also allowed policyholders to file online complaints, the finance ministry said on Wednesday, reports PTI. Shareholders’ nod to Yes Bank raising `10,000 cr Continued on Page 2 YES BANK shareholders have approved a proposal for raising `10,000 crore capital with the requisite majority, reports fe Bureau in Mumbai. The lender has disclosed in a regulatory filing that 98.78% votes were cast in favour of the resolution to raise capital. ON A HIGH ● RUN-UP TO POLLS Vaccines in India ■ Serum Institute (Oxford Univ/AstraZeneca) Name of Efficacy: 62% vaccine: Covishield Type: Viral vector ■ Bharat Biotech Name of Efficacy: 81% vaccine: Covaxin ■ Dr Reddy's (Gamaleya) Name of Efficacy: 91.4% vaccine: Sputnik V Type: Whole-Virion Inactivated Approval status: EUA under trial phase (Genetically modified virus) Approval status: EUA Type: Viral vector Approval status: Application submitted to SEC States with fastest growing Covid infections (number of times increase in daily cases India between February 17 and March 3) average: 3.5 3.0 2.6 times 3.2 2.9 2.5 1.9 1.9 2.0 2.1 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 AP Chandigarh Himachal Punjab Assam Haryana Maharashtra 1.3 People can now get vaccinated 24x7, says govt THEGOVERNMENThaslifted the time restriction on receiving the Covid-19 vaccine jabs so as to increase the pace of immunisation, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said onWednesday,reports PTI. Special Features Tapping the power of cloud to empower banks & FIs Infosys’ Finacle is investing in cloud native offerings to help banks, financial services firms and insurance companies meet-growing demand for digital financial services in the post-pandemic era ■ eFE, P9 Samsung Galaxy A12: Bang for your buck Samsung Galaxy A12 is an ultrafast phone sporting a 6.5-inch HD+Infinity-V display, 48MP Quad cameras and 5000mAh battery. For a phone that has a lot of high-end features, its affordability wins it all ■ Gadgets, P9 QuickPicks Amazon,Google,FB vie for piece of India’s digi payments market TECHNOLOGY GIANTS Facebook, Amazon and Google and credit-card providers Visa and Mastercard are among those vying for unprecedented access to India’s burgeoning digital retail payments market, reports Bloomberg. The companies are part of four consortia preparing to apply for licences to operate retail payments and settlement systems in the country, people familiar with the matter said. PAGE 4 SC ruling to force tax dept to cough up a tidy sum: Experts THE REVENUE-STARVED government will have to cough up tens of thousands of crores over the next few months towards honouring the claims of refunds of the 10% 'royalty tax' to scores of non-resident software suppliers to Indian companies, following Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling, tax experts said, reports Prasanta Sahu in New Delhi. Firms importing software for sale have since 1998 have been required to deduct the tax payable by the foreign software provider. PAGE 2 Netflix to premiere over 40 India originals this year NETFLIX ON Wednesday unveiled a slate of over 40 India originals that will premiere on the service this year, reports Asmita Dey in New Delhi. The bouquet of originals that includes a mix of movies, series across genres and documentaries underlines the overthe-top (OTT) firm’s attempt to deepen its reach in the country. Monika Shergill, vice-president, content at Netflix India, claims the 2021 content slate is nearly three times that curated by the platform in previous years. PAGE 4 People can now get vaccinated round-the-clock according to their convenience,he said in a tweet. “The government has lifted the time restriction to increase the speed ofvaccina- tion.Peoplecannowgetvaccinated24x7accordingtotheir convenience. Prime Minister Narendra Modi understands the value of health as well as the time of citizens,” he tweeted in Hindi. ■ Page 3 Sensex soars, bond yields steady, rupee posts gains PRESS TRUST OF INDIA Mumbai, March 3 CONTINUING THEIR WINNING run for the third session in a row, Sensex surged nearly 1,148 points to breach the 51,000-level and Nifty recaptured the 15,200-mark on Wednesday, propped up by intensebuyinginfinancialand energystocks. At the closing bell, the 30share Sensex was up 1,147.76 pointsor2.28%at51,444.65— thebiggestsingle-dayrisesince February 2.Intra-day,the index swung 1,243 points. Likewise, the NSE Nifty climbed 326.50 points or 2.19% to end at 15,245.60with 43 of its constituents closingin the green. The rupee,too,surged by 65 51,400 paise — its biggest single day spike since September 2020 — to end at 72.72 against the dollar on the back of weakness in the greenback and rise in risk appetite inthe global markets. The 10-year bond yield was steadyat 6.233%. Over the last three sessions, theSensexhasrisenby2,344.66 pointsor4.77%whiletheNifty has added 716.45 points or 4.93%.TheSensexrallywasdriven by Bajaj FinServ, Reliance Industries, Bajaj Finance, ICICI Bank,HDFC andAxis Bank. 10-yr bond yield (%) `/$ Brent ($/bbl) 6.25 INDEPENDENT POWER PRODUCERS have asked pollboundTamil Nadu’s state-run electricity distribution company (discom) to clear their dues to ensure uninterrupted supplies. At the end of January, Tamil Nadu owed `19,325 crore to power producers, 40% of which was payable to private thermal power firms such as Vedanta, GMR, DB Power, ILFS Energy and Jindal Steel and Power. Using the `11,091-crore loan, Tamil Nadu received through the Centre’s liquidity infusion scheme, the state’s payment trend to power generators had improved between October and December 2020. However, since the scheme is designedtodisburseloans in two tranches, private power producers want the state to avail the second tranche of the loan at the earliest so that the balance dues can be cleared as soon as possible. Sensex 72.60 Intra-day, March 3 6.233 6.24 51,100 51,444.65 50,738.21 50,800 50,500 50,200 Previous close: 50,296.89 Open Close Intra-day, March 3 Inverted scale 72.72 72.75 6.23 6.225 73.05 6.21 73.20 6.20 Previous close: 6.233 Open Close 73.35 Continued on Page 2 Intra-day, March 3 64.5 64.0 63.5 72.90 6.22 Continued on Page 2 Intra-day, March 3 51,700 63.65 63.0 62.5 73.26 Previous close: 73.37 Open Close 62.0 61.5 62.38 Open Previous close: 62.70 @ IST : 17:53 PM ● PIL DISMISSED Cryptocurrency ban to be made explicit Plea against Farooq: Can’t call dissent sedition, says SC FE BUREAU New Delhi, March 3 PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, March 3 THE GOVERNMENT WILL soon introduce a Bill in Parliamentthatwillexplicitlybanprivate cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, as it concurs with the central bank that enabling private parties to toywith currenciescanpotentiallythreatenthe stabilityof the financial sector. But the Cryptocurrency andRegulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, will facilitate the launch of any official digital currency and bolsteranecosystemaroundit. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is close to rolling out such a currency. While senior government officials and RBI have always made their opposition to privatecryptocurrenciesclear,the OBSERVING THAT EXPRESSION of views that are different from the opinion of the government cannot be termed seditious, the Supreme Court onWednesday dismissed a PIL seeking action against National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah over his comments on abrogation of Article 370 of the ConstituFarooq tion. Abdullah A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta rejected the plea and also imposed a fine of `50,000 on the petitioners for making such claims. “Expression ofviewswhich are different from the opinion of the government cannot be termed seditious,” the bench observed. The top courtwas hearing a plea which referred to his statement on restoring Article 370,which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and contended it clearly amounts to a seditious act and therefore he is liable to be punished undersection124-AoftheIPC. BILL SOON TIGHTENING THE NOOSE ■ A Bill will give the ban on private cryptocurrencies a solid legal backing and remove ambiguities ■ It will also have a framework to facilitate launch of official digital currency Bill will be brought in to provide a solid legal backing to the ban and is expected to remove any ambiguities around it, a source told FE. Continued on Page 2 HDFC cuts home loan rates THE SPREE ofmortgagerate cutscontinueswithHousing Development Finance Corporation(HDFC)onWednesday reducing its retail prime lending rate (RPLR) by five basis points (bps) to 6.75% irrespective of the loan amount, reports fe Bureau in Mumbai. The move follows similar rate cuts on home loans by SBI to 6.7% and Kotak Mahindra Bank to 6.65%. HDFCsaiditsadjustable rate home loans (ARHL) are benchmarked to the RPLR and the revised rates will comeintoeffectfromMarch 4.“Thechangewillbenefitall existing HDFC retail home loan customers,” the mortgage lender said. ■ Full report on Page 10 IN REMEMBRANCE Ratan Tata pays homage to Tata Group founder Jamsetji Tata on his 182nd birth anniversary, as N Chandrasekaran and others look on, in Jamshedpur on Wednesday Recovery mode Feb services PMI hits 1-year high FE BUREAU 70 60 50 Services activity hit its peak in one year in February on robust domestic orders as Covid-induced disruptions eased. Services PMI touched 55.3 in the month against 52.3 in January. However, employment fell further and input cost inflation hit its highest in eight years. 57.5 57.5 Manufacturing PMI 55.3 54.5 Services PMI 40 30 20 27.4 10 0 5.4 Feb 2020 Apr ‘20 Feb 2021 Note: Reading below 50 suggests contraction and above it indicates expansion Source: IHS Markit Continued on Page 2 PLAYING IT SAFE Japan may ban overseas spectators at Tokyo Olympics KIYOSHI TAKENAKA Tokyo, March 3 JAPAN’S GOVERNMENTWILL decide whether to let overseas spectators attend the Summer Olympics in Tokyo by the end of March, Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa said on Wednesday. Hercommentswereechoed by the head of the organising committee for the Games, Seiko Hashimoto,who said she would like to reach the decision by March 25. ■ The Tokyo Olympic Games were rescheduled last year to take place this year from July 23 ■ Several polls also showed most Japanese oppose holding the Games amid pandemic ■ Apoll showed 91% of people in Japan want spectators kept to a minimum or not allowed at all Polls show most Japanese oppose holding the Games during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Mainichi newspaper earlier reported that the government was planning to ban overseasspectatorsduetoworries they would spread the coronavirus, citing multiple ■ Tokyo metropolitan area remains in a state of emergency over Covid-19 unnamed sources. “On the matter of overseas spectators...I personally want to have it decided by the 25th of this month, when the Olympic torch relay will be kicked off,” Hashimoto told reporters after a virtual meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and others. “It is true that the situation is tough both in and outside Japan...It would not be good if their entry stirred worry among the Japanese people.” A Yomiuri newspaper poll showed on Wednesday that, if the Games are to go ahead as scheduled, 91% of people in Japanwant spectators kept to a minimum ornot allowed at all. The poll — conducted between January 18 and February 25 — showed 70% of respondents said they were “interested in the Olympics”, but58%saidtheydidnotwant them to be held this year becauseoffearsoverCovid-19. The 58% in opposition was, however, about 20 percentage points lowerthan earlier opinion polls. Continued on Page 2 HYDERABAD
The Financial Express (FE) is a business paper that’s closest to the people who are in the business of business. From business policies to market trends to new developments, The Financial Express comes packed with incisive news on every relevant issue.