Former RBI governor Y.V. Reddy has said the fiscal deficit is under stress and it could put pressure on the interest rates when a turnaround comes. He was however confident that the RBI would be able to deal with this problem. Referring to the Consumer Price Index he said one should keep in mind the fact that the underlying inflationary pressure in India is very high.
Moving on, the country’s largest maker of home and personal care products has been losing market share by value across key product categories. Mint reported that Hindustan Unilever’s market share fell, ranging from two to six percentage points in the last four quarters, mainly as price-sensitive consumers switched to cheaper products, while HUL has been hiking its prices in the last year and a half.
The overall market for soaps, detergents, shampoo and other products has grown in double digits over the last one year, But a DSP Merrill Lynch study shows HUL’s share has fallen in these categories. While the soap market grew 18%, HUL’s market share fell to 47.5% in the three months ended March from 53.4% in the January-March quarter of 2008. Similarly detergents grew 23.4% in 2008-09 but HUL’s share fell to 36.8% from 38.9%. The shampoos market grew 18% and again HUL’s share came down to 44.7% compared with 46.3% a year ago. While the trend may be worrisome for HUL, it’s still far ahead of all rivals and continues to be the market leader.
On to political news now, just before phase four of elections which was considered crucial for the Congress, Rahul Gandhi caused a flutter in political circles by openly wooing NDA allies JD(U) and AIADMK. The young Gandhi was all praise for JDU leader and Bihar Chief Minister Niteesh Kumar and declared at the same time that the NDA existed no more. Rahul’s open overture ruffled BJP feathers.
While targeting the BJP’s allies, Rahul made an attempt to cozy up to former Congress allies – the left parties. He went to the extent of saying that if the left parties did manage to get the numbers, he would be the first one to support them.
The Left rebuffed Rahul’s overture and called it a sign of desperation and repeated its refrain that it was working to bring a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative to power at the Centre.
With the world looking to save fuel and electric vehicles offering a viable option, countries in the west are supporting the idea. The US announced a 7500-dollar and the UK government a 5000-pound rebate. But for manufacturers in India, it’s been a different story. Manufacturers like Hero Electric, Electro therm India and Reva Electric Car Company have asked the government for a 25% subsidy and for Value Added Tax to be reduced to 4% from 12%. While there have been incentives at the state level, the center is yet to respond to the industry demand. However, sources at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy say a policy may be announced after the general elections.