Business & Economy Current Affairs 2017

India ranks 40th in 2017 Global Competitiveness Index

India was placed at 40th spot among 137 countries in World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) 2017-18. India has slipped by one position compared to 39th spot in 2016 GCI.

Global Competitiveness Index

WEF’s GCI assesses competitiveness of countries to provide insight into drivers of their productivity and prosperity. GCI scores are calculated on basis of 12 categories called ‘pillars of competitiveness which covers both business and social indicators. It includes pillars such as institutions, infrastructure, health and primary education, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness and market size.

Key Highlights of 2017 GCI

Top 5 Countries: Switzerland (1st), United States (2nd), Singapore (3rd), Netherlands (4th) and Germany (5th).

BRICS Countries: China (27th), Russia (38th), India (40th), South Africa (61st) and Brazil (80th).

India related facts: India remains most competitive country in South Asia. It has improved across most pillars of competitiveness, particularly infrastructure (66th, up by 2), higher education and training (75th, up by 6), and technological readiness (107th, up by 3) reflecting recent public investments in these areas. The report has lauded India’s efforts in information and communications technology (ICT) sector as it can boost internet economy.

Global Challenges: According to 2017 GCI, there are risks from uncertain global economic conditions. Since 2008 global financial crisis, prospects for sustained economic recovery remain at risk due to widespread failure on part of leaders and policymakers to put in place reforms necessary to underpin competitiveness.

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RBI takes masala bonds out of corporate bond limit for FPIs

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has increased corporate bond investment limit for foreign investors by taking out Masala bonds (rupee-denominated bonds) from ambit of total debt investment limit. They will be considered as part of External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs) and will be monitored accordingly.

Key Facts

Currently, masala bonds are reckoned both under combined corporate debt limit (CCDL) for FPI (Foreign Portfolio Investments) and external commercial borrowings (ECBs). At present, limit for investment by FPIs in corporate bonds is Rs. 2,44,323 crore. It includes issuance of rupee-denominated bonds (RDBs) overseas by resident entities of Rs 44,001 crore (including pipeline). The amount of Rs 44,001 crore arising from shifting of Masala bonds will be released for FPI investment in corporate bonds over the next two quarters.

Background

With surge in inflows in Indian debt markets in current year, cumulative utilisation of FPI limit in corporate bonds stood at 99.07% as on September 2017, reflecting limited scope of further FPI investments. The revised limit is expected to allow FPIs to make additional investments of a similar amount in corporate bonds.

Masala bonds

The Masala bonds refer to rupee-denominated bonds through which Indian entities can raise money from foreign markets in rupee, and not in foreign currency. Basically, they are debt instruments used by corporates to raise money from investors. The issuance of rupee denominated bonds, protects Indian entity against risk of currency fluctuation, typically associated with borrowing in foreign currency. It also helps in internationalization of the rupee and in expansion of t Indian bond markets. These bonds are usually traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and not in India.

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