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Consumption driven growth might become an unintended beneficiary of the government’s plans to raise a part of its gross borrowings from external markets. Presenting the Union Budget 2019-20 last Friday, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed to raise a part of the government’s gross borrowings from abroad.
The budget proposal is expected to free-up additional liquidity in the domestic market and lower interest rates. Consequently, it will provide consumers and industry with cheaper access to finance.
According to Edelweiss Securities Lead Economist Madhavi Arora, lower interest rates wil aid consumer driven sectors which have been bogged down due to subdued demand.
Currently, the economy suffers from rural distress, slow pace of private investment and high finance costs. These together have subdued consumer sentiment and further impacted everything from car sales to air passenger traffic. This in turn has impacted production levels and further stalled hiring and wage levels.
The slowdown has impacted the automobile sector the hardest. The off-take data for May showed that domestic passenger car sales were down 26.03 per cent to 147,546 units. “Issuance of sovereign bonds should ideally free up resources available for production needs at a reduced cost,” explained Grant Thornton India Partner Sridhar V.
“Government’s move to issue sovereign bonds by itself is an indication of its confidence in the macro fundamentals and could boost economic activity.” However, Kavan Mukhtyar, Partner and Leader – Automotive, PwC India cited the need for further liquidity infusion.
“Cheaper interest rates (as an impact of government’s external borrowings) will aid in lowering the ownership cost. However, the need of the hour is to increase the availability of liquidity through NBFCs (non-banking finance companies) and banks,” Mukhtyar said.
“Sales might turn positive in August as the liquidity situation is expected to improve.” Off-loading sovereign bonds is a mechanism available to governments for raising cheaper funds from international markets.
A sovereign bond is a debt security issued by a national government and is either denominated in foreign or domestic currency. “India’s sovereign external debt to GDP is among the lowest globally at less than 5 per cent,” Sitharaman said in her maiden Budget speech in Parliament.
“The government would start raising a part of its gross borrowing programme in external markets in external currencies. This will also have a beneficial impact on the demand situation for government securities in the domestic market,” she added.
This will be a first such bond issuance. In 2013, the government had considered the idea, but never implemented it. At that time, the country was faced with major fiscal and current account deficits.
Instead, the Reserve Bank of India at that time announced a scheme to incentivise foreign currency non-resident (FCNR) deposits, which brought in nearly $34 billion. As a result, most of India’s debt is rupee-denominated.
The government’s latest move is being seen as prudent in the face of limited options to raise funds as a slowing economy curtails tax revenue, while the borrowing target of a record Rs 7.1 trillion ($104 billion) this fiscal year remains a tough task.
“It will aid the sector to a limited extent. While the interest is low, transmission of cheap capital in the system is important, which takes time,” said Rahul Mishra, Principal, A.T. Kearney.
“Also, given the NBFC crisis, the overall availability of capital is very limited and whatever capital is available, it has strong checks and collateral requirement. A combination of low interest, eased out lending norms and better transmission of money will have a positive impact on consumption sectors over a 3-6 month period,” he added. (IANS)
By Nikhila Natarajan
In a continuing study on the effects of machine learning (ML) on public conversation, Twitter has confirmed that its algorithms amplify right-leaning political content. "In six out of seven countries - all but Germany - tweets posted by accounts from the political right receive more algorithmic amplification than the political left when studied as a group," Twitter blogged.
"Right-leaning news outlets, as defined by the independent organisations, see greater algorithmic amplification on Twitter compared to left-leaning news outlets." Since 2016, Twitter users are able to choose between viewing algorithmically ordered tweets first in their home timeline or viewing the most recent tweets in reverse chronological order.
"An algorithmic home timeline displays a stream of tweets from accounts we have chosen to follow on Twitter, as well as recommendations of other content Twitter thinks we might be interested in based on accounts we interact with frequently, tweets we engage with, and more. "As a result, what we see on our timeline is a function of how we interact with Twitter's algorithmic system, as well as how the system is designed."
The new research is based on tweets of elected officials of House of Commons members in Canada, the French National Assembly, the German Bundestag, House of Representatives in Japan, Congress of Deputies of Spain, House of Commons in the UK, and official and personal accounts of House of Representatives and Senate members in the US, as well as news outlets, from April 1 to August 15, 2020.
Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, do see algorithmic amplification when compared to political content on the reverse chronological timeline. | Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash
The study was conducted by Ferenc Huszar (Twitter, University of Cambridge), Sofia Ira Ktena (now at DeepMind Technologies), Conor O'Brien (Twitter), Luca Belli (Twitter), Andrew Schlaikjer (Twitter), and Moritz Hardt (UC Berkeley).
The questions probed were:
How much algorithmic amplification does political content from elected officials receive in Twitter's algorithmically ranked Home timeline versus in the reverse chronological timeline? Does this amplification vary across political parties or within a political party?
Are some types of political groups algorithmically amplified more than others? Are these trends consistent across countries?
Are some news outlets amplified more by algorithms than others? Does news media algorithmic amplification favour one side of the political spectrum more than the other?
Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, do see algorithmic amplification when compared to political content on the reverse chronological timeline. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: algorithmically, timeline, algorithmic, tweets, political, survey
Even as India celebrates reaching a milestone of 100 crore Covid vaccine doses, Snapdeal co-founder and COO Rohit Bansal on Friday lauded a man who facilitated 64 registrations for the vaccine on the CoWin portal. In a video shared on his Facebook and Twitter page, Bansal hailed Sonu Kumar as a "citizen celebrity".
Bansal said that Kumar not only helped "just co-workers and family but complete strangers too. With patience, empathy and uncanny jugaad". He added that Kumar joined him "many moons ago" and completed his open school from a parking lot.
"Education has helped this wonderful man enable others to get India back on track. Bravo! The CoWin portal on Thursday mentioned that a total of 100 crore vaccine doses has been administered so far to the eligible population under the vaccination drive in India, nine months after the nationwide inoculation programme was started to protect the people against Covid-19.
"It's a cause of significant celebration and happiness," Bansal said in the video. He said that while people just help a few around them, Kumar "bridged the digital gap" for 64 people, who were finding it difficult to register themselves online on the vaccine portal. Kumar said he doesn't feel that he has contributed much towards the 100 crore vaccine dose count. "I have been able to help only 64 people, if I was able to help more I would have been happier." (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: cowin, covid, india, people, Rohit bansal, Sonu kumar, vaccine
KAMPALA, UGANDA — Uganda has kickstarted a trial for the injectable HIV drugs cabotegravir and rilpivirine. Researchers and those living with HIV say the trial will likely end pill fatigue, fight stigma, improve adherence and ensure patients get the right dosage.
The two drugs have been in use as tablets. The World Health Organization last year licensed their use as injectables.
While the two injectables already went through trials in Europe and North America, this will be the first time they are tested in an African population for efficacy and safety in an African health care system.
Uganda is one of three African countries, along with Kenya and South Africa, which got approval from the WHO to carry out the trials. However, Kenya and South Africa have yet to acquire approvals to start their trials, expected by the end of the year.
Uganda and Kenya will both have three trial sites and there will be two in South Africa, with a total of 512 participants -- 202 from Uganda, 160 from Kenya and 150 from South Africa.
Dr. Ivan Mambule, the lead project researcher at the Joint Clinical Research Center, says participants will need one injection every two months.
"We are going to choose participants who are already on ART [anti-retroviral treatment] and are stable on ART. And we will randomize them to either continue on their normal treatment, which is the pill that they've been taking, or to switch them to this injectable. The injection is on the buttock," he expressed.
In this photo taken in Nov. 15, 2012 a patient, right, is attended to, at the US sponsored Themba Lethu, HIV/AIDS Clinic at the Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa Image credit: VOA
Uganda has 1.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Barbara Kemigisa who is living with HIV and founded the Pill Power Foundation working with rural women, says the injectable drugs will increase adherence to treatment and ensure people get the right dosage.
"One of the things that affects adherence is the fact that people have to hide medicine. In the village, people are hiding medicine in the kitchen roof, in trees, in bushes, in a baby's shoe…If someone is wrapping the medicine in like five plastic bags and digs a hole in the garden and keeps the medicine there, by the time someone is taking that medicine, it's no longer medicine, it's poison," Kemigisa points out.
Nicholas Niwagaba, who has worked with young people living with HIV welcomes the trial, saying it will reduce the pill burden and fight stigma.
"Young people feel like, this is a lot of pills to take. Those who are on the first line, they will have to take one tablet a day. There are those who are on second line and they have to take more than one pill and they have to take it in the morning and in the evening. And of course, this requires you to have actually a balanced diet which is really a challenge for most of young people especially those from vulnerable communities," he says.
According to the WHO, there are 25.7 million people living with HIV in Africa. With only the pill currently available to manage the scourge, this injectable may come as a relief for people living with HIV/AIDS. (VOA/RN)
(This article is originally by Halima Athumani)
Keywords: HIV, WHO, Africa, Research, Uganda