Reliance Jio, Indian telecom’s disruptive new entrant, has finally been forced by the industry regulator to halt a free service giveaway that was slammed by rivals as anticompetitive.
Jio launched public services in September with a three-month offer of free voice and data services, which it then extended to six months. Even after it started charging for services on April 1, it said that all customers who spent at least Rs303 ($5) before April 15 would enjoy free services for a further three months.
But on Thursday evening Jio said that it would abandon this “Summer Surprise” promotion, on instructions from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
“Jio is in the process of fully complying with the regulator’s advice, and will be withdrawing the 3 months complimentary benefits…as soon as operationally feasible, over the next few days,” the company said.
Competitors including market leader Bharti Airtel and second-place Vodafone had said the giveaway amounted to predatory behaviour by Jio’s parent, the oil products group Reliance Industries, which is the country’s second-most valuable listed company.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday urged U.S. President Donald Trump to insist on greater Chinese cooperation in the face of threats from North Korea, which tested yet another missile the previous day.
Japan requested the call, which lasted 35 minutes, just ahead of Trump’s scheduled summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida. Trump assured Abe that the North Korean issue would feature prominently on the agenda when he meets with Xi on Thursday and Friday, U.S. time, according to a Japanese government official.
Trump and Abe agreed that China has a key role to play in moderating Pyongyang’s behavior, and that a Beijing clampdown needs to go beyond the current suspension of coal imports from the North.
“All options” for dealing with the threat remain on the table, the U.S. president said.
In an earlier interview with the Financial Times, Trump had declared, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
But while Trump’s White House is taking a harder line — going so far as to hint at the possibility of military action — China is reluctant to crank up the pressure.
On 5 April, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told the state legislative assembly that his government was studying the “Uttar Pradesh model of farm loan waiver”. Fadnavis indicated his government may consider a similar sop, though in a different fashion.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister, this was a departure from his own narrative. The change in the narrative has not come from within. Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed Fadnavis, and possibly some other chief ministers too, onto this suicidal trajectory, when he announced in a campaign rally on 15 February that the BJP, if voted to power in Uttar Pradesh, would waive crop loans.
The opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra are down but they have not completely lost their reflexes for conventional politics. They quickly latched on to the Prime Minister’s promise, which the BJP soon formalised by including it in its UP manifesto, and revived their demand for loan waiver that Fadnavis had till then dismissed with ease. Ever eager to attack the BJP and Modi, the Shiv Sena joined in and Uddhav Thackeray sent in his ministers to meet Fadnavis and remind him that the BJP has been in power in the state since October 2014 and yet, no farm loan waiver had been announced.
To be sure, the BJP in Maharashtra did not promise farm loan waiver during the 2014 assembly elections. One BJP minister in Maharashtra, who did not wish to be identified, said that the Maharashtra government was unnecessarily being asked to honour a promise made by the UP BJP.
The Reserve Bank of India, in its first monetary policy review of financial year 2017-18, kept the repurchase (repo) rate unchanged at 6.25%, citing upward risks to inflation and global uncertainty.
The Monetary Policy Committee, however, raised the reverse repo rate by 0.25 basis points to 6%, and cut the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate to 6.5%.
“The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4% within a band of +/- 2%, while supporting growth,” said RBI in its policy statement.
“RBI hiked reverse repo rate by 25 bps to 6.00% thereby reducing the corridor between repo and reverse repo to 25 bps from the existing 50 bps. The essential aim seems to be ensuring a sharper focus on the keeping overnight rates (especially the overnight call money rate) aligned to the repo rate,” said Bekxy Kuriakose, Head – Fixed Income, Principal Mutual Fund.
Here are five key takeaways from the RBI’s policy statement:
Banks can invest in REITs
While reviewing the monetary policy, the central bank has proposed that banks be allowed to invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs). This follows an earlier proposal by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).
The RBI proposed to allow banks to participate in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) following a proposal by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Banks would be allowed to invest in these instruments within the stipulated limit of 20 percent of net-owned funds.
“One of the highlights of today’s policy was the decision to allow banks to invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (INVITs) within the 20% umbrella limit. It will allow banks to invest in an important asset class thereby providing much needed boost to this segment. Owing to better liquidity, the cost of capital for developers in the commercial segment will come down in the future,” said Surendra Hiranandani, chairman & managing director, House of Hiranandani in an emailed note.