Below the line

| Updated on October 20, 2019

Finally, a bidder

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been auctioning the gifts he has received in various capacities. One such peculiar gift he got was a pair of mosquito killer machines from Leowin Solutions Pvt Ltd.

The pair carried a minimum bid price of ₹3,600. For a long time, there were no bids that came for this queer present, but sometime during the last week, one bid of ₹4,000 has been received. It would be interesting to see if there are any more bids for this unusual gift.

Meanwhile, as the auction deadline approaches (October 24), an official statement to bidders said that as per the Auction Inviting Authority, the bidding is closed for those gifts/mementos that fetched an offer four times and above its base price.

Feeling left out

The government may want NBFCs to be actively involved in the Grahak Mela (customer outreach) initiative, but most of them were missing in action at the ground level. Only those NBFCs (basically some big boys) who had co-origination agreements with banks were able to make it to the Grahak Melas in the first phase. NBFCs privately rue that both Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Indian Banks Association (IBA) are just paying lip service to the whole thing.

Everything was done so hurriedly and in a ‘hush hush’ manner that most NBFCs were left as mute spectators in the first phase of this important initiative, say industry insiders. In the absence of specific directions from the DFS, the IBA was also not keen to engage with NBFCs, it is learnt. Many NBFCs are hoping they will be co-opted at least during the second phase of the programme this week. It’s a classic example of Indian shadow banks receiving shoddy treatment from bureaucracy and big public sector banks.

Never keep the wife waiting

So what if Indian Railways had to cancel the Karva Chauth train? Railway Minister Piyush Goyal took the Mumbai local train to home on Karva Chauth in order to avoid road traffic rush. This prompted tongue-in-cheek comments like: “Wasn’t there a chartered flight?”, “A perfect husband!”, “Et Tu Brute”! For the uninitiated, Karva Chauth is a festival prevalent in North India where wives fast through the day, and eat only after a peek at the moon and the husband.

A businessman called Gadkari

Faced with lower budgetary support, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari is doing all he can to raise funds for expressways. Sample Gadkari speaking on a private money-making route that just went public: “Several times, officials and politicians ask me about the alignment of a road, so that they can buy land in advance along the route and make a killing. Now, we have decided to buy the land parcels in advance, then raise funds by leasing them to make highways.”

Play it like Anurag Thakur

You must give it to former Assocham President and NBFC honcho Sunil Kanoria for bringing cricket analogy to NBFC regulation and supervision at a recent event in the capital. Recognising that Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur, who was present at the event, had cricket close to his heart, Kanoria said that one needs to better understand the business models and purpose before framing rules (regulations) for that sector/industry, like in cricket.

Just as the game of cricket has different formats like Tests, ODIsand T20, with each having different rules and serving a different purpose, it should also be understood that banks and NBFCs in India — both part of the financial system — have different roles to play, Kanoria said. It is important to understand each model and provide regulation accordingly.

Kanoria is clearly in the camp which believes that Indian policymakers have failed to understand the business model of a ‘non-bank’. “So we have a situation where the assets side has converged with the bank, but on the liabilities side, we don’t have any avenuesopened up. This is creating a systemic challenge.”

He added: “NBFCs are like a caterpillar — if it has to evolve and grow very large it has to transform into a butterfly; and the butterfly is like a bank” . This remark made those assembled wonder if he was making a case for the RBI to be liberal in allowing NBFCs become a bank?

Our Delhi Bureau

Published on October 20, 2019

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