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QBiz: New Reforms May Target Real Estate; Indigo-Qatar Pact Likely

1. Sitharaman Signals Next Dose of Reforms to Target Realty Sector

The government’s next round of reforms is likely to be focused on real estate, with finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying that the prevailing slowdown in the sector needs to be addressed soon.

The government is working closely with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to address issues faced by the sector, Sitharaman said at an event marking the silver jubilee celebration of the National Stock Exchange of India on Tuesday, 5 November.

“Real estate sector requires a lot more attention because the sluggishness which prevails there has got to be addressed," she said. “The government is very keen and is working very clearly together with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to see how best we can make necessary tweaks to the existing blocks to help the people who are affected in this one sector which I have not really completely addressed till now."

(Source: Livemint)

2. Indigo Likely to Announce Pact With Qatar Airways

Budget carrier IndiGo is likely to announce a codeshare partnership with Qatar Airways on 7 November.  This would allow the two carriers to sell seats on each others’ flights in order to provide passengers with a wider choice of destinations.

Shares of InterGlobe Aviation, which owns the airline, gained 1.77 percent to close at Rs 1,461.45 on BSE. The largest domestic carrier had signed its first codeshare pact in December 2018 with Turkish Airlines. IndiGo, in a statement on Tuesday, said the two airlines would make a strategic business announcement.

Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar al Baker in the past has shown interest in investing in IndiGo. On 29 October, IndiGo placed an order for 300 Airbus A320neo-family planes. The airline flies to 23 international destinations including Turkey, China, Vietnam and Myanmar.

(Source: Financial Express)

3. Spyware Row: Whatsapp Downloads in India Down by a Staggering 80%

If you use Signal or Telegram, you would have noticed a barrage of notifications informing you of yet another of your contacts joining either one or both the messaging platforms.

Between 26 October and 3 November, WhatsApp downloads fell by a staggering 80 percent in India from the previous nine-day period, according to data sourced from mobile analytics and intelligence firm Sensor Tower. The number between 17 October and 25, the week preceding the WhatsApp-NSO Group issue, was 8.9 million. Between 26 October and 3 November, it was 1.8 mn.

(Source: Business Standard)

4. India Open to Joining RCEP Trade Deal If All Demands Met: Piyush Goyal

India on Tuesday, 5 November, said it is open to joining the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal if all its concerns are met, while maintaining that its decision to stay out is final for the moment.

A day after rejecting the world’s biggest free trade pact, India also signalled its readiness to renew negotiations on a long-pending free trade agreement with the European Union.

“For the present, it is the final decision that we are not joining RCEP," trade minister Piyush Goyal told reporters.

“But if all our demands are met, that will open up opportunities for our goods, services and investments in this region and balance the trade deficit that India is suffering without allowing India to become the dumping ground for other countries, then every government is always open to discussions and negotiations."

(Source: Livemint)

5. Govt Working With RBI to Revive Real Estate Sector, Says Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the next set of measures would be announced for the real estate sector and that the government was working with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to help people affected in the sector.

Speaking at a function commemorating the silver jubilee of the National Stock Exchange in Mumbai on Tuesday, the finance minister said, “One particular sector which I have not touched and has an impact on the stock market is real estate, which requires a lot more attention,” she said.

In the past few months, the government has taken several steps to boost the economy and the minister indicated that more were on the anvil.

(Source: Financial Express)

6. HDIL Promoters Diverted Rs 160-Crore PMC Loans to 3 Delhi-Based Hotels: ED

Promoters of Housing Development Infrastructure (HDIL) have allegedly diverted Rs 160 crore of loan from Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank to three Delhi-based hotels, according to the probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The enforcement agency has identified three hotels belonging to Libra Hotels, in which Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan is both a director and a shareholder. Sources said Libra Hotels was a parent firm and had three hotels — Hotel Conclave Executive, Hotel Conclave, and Hotel Conclave Comfort. Libra Hotels is run by Rakesh Wadhawan’s daughter Romy Pawan Mehra and her husband Pawan Mehra. Both are directors of this firm.

“These hotels are in three star categories and not in the luxury segment. We are examining the mode of transaction in these firms. Prima facie evidence reveals that substantial portion of loan amount has gone to these hospitality firms,” said an official privy to the development.

(Source: Business Standard)

7. 52 Startups in India Are Potential Unicorns

The first eight months of the year saw the birth of seven unicorns in India’s startup ecosystem, software industry body Nasscom said in a report, even as 52 others which have received over USD 50 million investments wait to join the list.

The number of India’s potential unicorns, a term to describe startups valued at USD 1 billion, more than tripled from 15 last year to 52 in 2019, becoming the world’s largest pipeline of unicorns in the making, Nasscom said in its report ‘Indian Tech Start-up Ecosystem – Leading Tech in the 20s’.

India’s newest unicorns include Delhivery, a logistics startup; Icertis, which provides cloud-based enterprise contract management; Dream11, a gaming startup; Druva, which provides cloud data protection and management; Ola Electric, the electric vehicle arm of cab hailing firm Ola; and Rivigo, a logistics firm.

(Source: Livemint)

8. Google Pay Grows 3x in India in 12 Months

Google Pay has grown 3x in India in the last 12 months, Sajith Sivanandan, MD and business head of Google Pay and Next Billion Users, said on Tuesday, 5 November. He is optimistic about growth to continue in the country. India’s payment landscape is becoming interesting with more players entering the segment, he maintained.

Google Pay now has 67 million active users who use it at least once a month. The value of transactions has gone up to USD 110 billion on an annualised basis. “This is not just a metro phenomenon. The most gratifying part is that two-third of the transactions are happening outside the top seven metros,” Sivanandan said.

“We started two years ago and in these two years we have been on UPI · now larger than any other form of digital payments,” Sivanandan said.

(Source: Financial Express)

9. Govt Considering One-Time Settlement Option in Drug Overcharging Cases

The government is actively considering options, including a one-time settlement, to expedite the recovery of dues from drug companies that allegedly overcharged customers for medicines under price control. The outstanding dues now stand at Rs 5,476.9 crore, of which Rs 4,032.5 crore is stuck in litigation.

Recovery has been particularly dismal in the past three years. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), the country’s drug pricing regulator, sends to pharma companies notices specifying the recovery of overcharged amounts and penalties.

(Source: Business Standard)

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