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Morning Scan: All the big stories to get you started for the day

A round-up of the biggest articles from newspapers

December 27, 2021 / 07:55 AM IST

India’s billionaire club has record 126 members

A strong rally on the stock market over the past one and a half years, and an unprecedented boom in initial public offerings have continued to swell the number of billionaire promoters in India. The number of promoters and businessmen with net worth of $1 billion (around Rs 75 billion) reached an all-time high of 126, up from 85 at the end of 2020. These billionaire promoters have a combined wealth of around $728 billion (around Rs 54.6 trillion), up from around $483 billion (around Rs 35.3 trillion) at the end of 2020.

Why it’s important: The combined wealth of the 126 billionaire promoters is equivalent to a quarter of India’s expected GDP of around $2,947 billion in 2021-22 at current prices. The ratio was 18.6 percent last financial year. It drives home the point that wealth inequality has increased dramatically in India during the pandemic.

 

Brace for another round of price hikes in 2022

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Fast-moving consumer goods companies may raise prices 4-10 percent over the next three months although it could dampen sales. Consumer electronic companies have already raised prices 3-5 percent in December on refrigerators, washing machines and air-conditioners, and have finalized another round of increases of 6-10 percent from next month.

Why it’s important: Consumer companies are trying to protect their margins in the face of high commodity prices. Persistent inflation is going to hurt household budgets as the Indian economy struggles to regain momentum after the coronavirus pandemic.

 

RBL Bank’s fundamentals are intact, executive says after changes at the top

Rajeev Ahuja, the bank's interim chief executive and managing director, said RBL Bank does not anticipate major capital needs in the short term, allaying fears of problems in top management.

Why it’s important: In recent months, some employees of the bank sought the finance ministry's support to oversee operations, as they believed regulatory frameworks were being ignored by the bank's top management.

 

Finance ministry turns tightfisted for fiscal year 2023

No government department should ask for additional spending in the guise of a budget proposal for the next fiscal year, the finance ministry has said. The restrictive order continues the tight fist in government finance of 2021-22 to the next financial year. The finance managers do not want the departments to offer any monetary outlay even for next fiscal year beyond what they spend on their existing projects and programs.

Why it’s important: In 2021-22, the government is almost sure to add another expenditure bill of Rs 3 trillion, close to 9 percent of the projected spending for the year. These are mostly subsidies, which will claw away the benefits of the expected higher tax revenues of close to Rs 2.5 trillion. From 2020-21 to 2021-22, government expenditure jumped 30.8 percent because of the pandemic. Considering the additional expenditure of Rs 3 trillion, the amount spent at the end of March 2022 will be more than a 40 percent jump in two years.

 

Every third informal worker registered on e-Shram portal, total enrollment crosses 140 million

Since its launch on 26 August, as many as 140,292,825 informal sector workers have registered on the e-Shram portal, the central government has said. The top five states in terms of number of registrations on e-Shram were Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand. Of these, 52.56 percent were female, while 47.44 percent were male.

Why it’s important: The national database being created on e-Shram will eventually help the government to provide various social security and other welfare benefits to unorganized workers in the country.

 

India’s electronics manufacturing to touch Rs 7 trillion in 2022-23

Buoyed by the government's Rs 2.3 trillion policy push for a self-reliant India, the domestic electronics manufacturing industry is expected to see 30 percent growth in the financial year starting April 2022 to be worth nearly Rs 7 trillion.

Why it’s important: The growth will help India’s efforts to move up the global electronics supply chain. But there are still challenges around components, particularly a shortage of electronic chips.

 

Air India's return flight to Tatas may get delayed due to pending approvals

The handover of Air India to Tata Sons is unlikely to be completed in December and may see some delay due to pending approvals and processes. A meeting to review the progress of Air India divestment will take place on Monday after which there will be clarity about the handover of Air India.

Why it’s important: The handover of the national carrier to the salt-to-software conglomerate also requires approvals from global competition regulators before closing the transaction. On December 20, India’s competition regulator approved the deal.

 

State-owned energy firms scout for partners to build green hydrogen plants

Government-run energy companies are hunting for partners to tie up and build green hydrogen facilities to run their refineries and sell the fuel commercially. Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum, NTPC and Gail, among others, plan to set up green hydrogen facilities over the next three years.

Why it’s important: The race to reach India’s emission goals is intensifying. The demand for green hydrogen in India for applications such as refineries, fertilizers and city gas grids will grow to 2 million tons every year by 2030, in line with the nation’s green hydrogen mission. This would call for investments of more than $60 billion.

 

Gold may lose its sheen in 2022 after a stellar run

Gold, a non-interest-bearing asset class, may lose its attractiveness as the US Federal Reserve has said it may hike interest rates three times in 2022. Gold prices surged to a record high in 2020 as global central banks reduced interest rates to historic lows coupled with ample stimulus in the backdrop of a raging coronavirus pandemic.

Why it’s important: The demand for gold as an investment option was robust amid the pandemic due to its safe-haven status. However, the expected moderation in prices could lead to increased retail buying among Indians, who have an insatiable demand for gold jewelry.

 

Bharat Biotech eyes 1 billion doses of nasal Covid vaccine in 2022

Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech is aiming to make one billion doses annually of its intranasal vaccine in 2022 that is under clinical trials now. The Hyderabad-based vaccine maker is looking for global partners to manufacture and distribute the vaccine overseas.

Why it’s important: Once the nasal vaccine gets regulatory approval, it is likely to add significantly to the revenues of Bharat Biotech, which is already supplying millions of doses of Covaxin in India, in addition to getting emergency approval from the World Health Organization (WHO).
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