State Bank of India (SBI)
A webinar organised by State Bank of India, Israel-Asia & Israel-India Chambers of Commerce and the Indian mission in Tel Aviv on Monday evening to decipher the Indian budget announced last month has evoked favourable response from business leaders in Israel.
Setting the tone of the interactive webinar, India's Ambassador to Israel, Sanjeev Singla, said, "We have had a landmark budget that marks a directional change and leverages far-reaching reforms that the government is effecting to make our economy more resilient and competitive."
"It's, therefore, important to apprise our Israeli business partners about our economy and the new opportunities. And that’s what this webinar seeks to do," Singla added.
SBI's Chief Economic Advisor, Soumya Kanti Ghosh, in a detailed presentation on the Indian budget highlighted that the government's intent can be described as "under promising and delivering more".
Ghosh in an hour-long presentation to 100 participants, including officials and Israeli businesses, emphasised that the Government of India (GOI) has used the COVID-19 pandemic to make the economy more resilient and more competitive through various reforms.
He said the government ensured that the Indian economy has had one of the sharpest V shaped rebounds among all the major global economies, the GDP growth has beaten market predictions for the second quarter and now for the third quarter it has turned positive, and provided a demand stimulus with major focus on increased government spending with special focus on infrastructure and health.
Ghosh also drew attention to the fact that the IMF in its forecast for India has predicted a growth of 11.5 percent for the next fiscal year which is perhaps among the highest in the major economies of the world.
SBI's Chief Economic Adviser also applauded measures taken by the government in tackling the pandemic in such a large population while also giving credit to the "great resilience" of the Indian people in dealing with such a crisis.
The economist pointed out that SBI's financial health is the barometer of the Indian economy. Given that the bank's key trends in Q3 of FY 2021 has shown remarkable progress, it can be assumed that the economy is in good health.
SBI's retail credit growth is back to pre-COVID levels, asset quality outcomes are well within guidance, PCR is at 90.21 percent and the bank has seen an increase in digital customer onboarding, he highlighted.
C Venkat Nageswar, Deputy Managing Director, International Banking Group of SBI, in his presentation stressed that despite the "pandemic induced uncertainties", "the outlook on growth in Indian economy has improved significantly, with positive growth impulses becoming more broad-based, and the rollout of the vaccination programme in the country auguring well for the end of the pandemic".
Asserting that "inflation in India has returned within the tolerance band", Nageswar mentioned that India is now one of the major economies to post growth in the last quarter of calendar year 2020, with improvement in the economy’s performance inversely tied to drop in COVID -19 infections.
"Consumer confidence is reviving, and business expectations of manufacturing, services and infrastructure remain upbeat. The movement of goods and people and domestic trading activity are growing at a robust pace", the SBI executive emphasised.
In the wake of the pandemic, the RBI has stepped forward and has so far announced various liquidity, monetary, regulatory and supervisory measures in the form of interest rate cuts, higher structural and durable liquidity, moratorium on debt servicing, asset classification standstill and recently a special resolution window within our Prudential Framework for Resolution of Stressed Assets, he also noted.
The presentation evoked positive response from Israeli participants who sounded upbeat on furthering Indo-Israel bilateral trade ties.
"The optimist outlook for the Indian economy is very encouraging. The Israeli business community also wants to enjoy the growth of 11 percent and the incentives presented by the government of India in the recent budget," Anat Bernstein-Reich, Chairperson of the Israel-India Chambers of Commerce (CoC) and Vice President of the Israel-Asia CoC, told PTI.
Bernstein-Reich, who also moderated the Webinar, also pointed out the long association between Israel-India Chamber of Commerce and SBI's Tel Aviv branch, and the contribution of the bank in enabling Israeli companies to deal with their India-centric business requirements.
"I read the highlights of the budget and I think Israeli companies have a lot to offer to the self reliant philosophy of India," Grossman added.
Dan Catarivas, Director of the Foreign Trade Division of the Manufacturers' Association of Israel, said that "the world is changing and India is becoming a rising star that we want to be linked to".
"Relations with India is a strategic relation and we are backing all the activities of the Chambers. India and Israel are complementing each other and we encourage all our members to look into India", Catarivas said.
Raviv Byron, President of Israel-India Chamber of Commerce, closed the session with a vote of thanks to Ambassador Sanjeev Singla, and particularly to the organisers and instigators of the session, SBI, with special reference to the Keynote speaker Soumya Ghosh, Venkat Nageswar, B V Ramana, CEO of the Israel branch of SBI.
"SBI has been present in Israel for many years now and gives excellent banking services to those businesses who work with India, and it is highly recommended," he told PTI.
SBI's Tel Aviv branch had offered a package of trade finance solutions to Israeli corporates, leveraging on its wide global infrastructure, a few months back in a move that was welcomed by the bilateral Chamber of Commerce given the "comfort" and "natural partnership".
SBI has 233 touch points in 32 countries and correspondent banking relationships with 225 banks across 56 countries.