Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

IPL 10 begins, US strikes Syria and RBI holds rates

IPL 10 kicks off with Sunrisers vs RCB; US strikes Syria after gas attack; RBI maintains status quo

1. Tax collection up despite slowing growth

Tax revenues grew at a strong clip in fiscal year 2016-17 despite the cash crunch caused by demonetization. Tax revenue to the central government was up 18% to Rs17.1 trillion, led by a rise in direct taxes and a spike in excise and service tax receipts. While service taxes rose 20.2%, central excise duty collection rose 33.9%. 

2. ADB lowers growth forecast for India

In its 2017 Asia Development Outlook, the Asian Development Bank predicted India’s economy would grow at 7.4% in 2017-18, citing rising consumption demand and higher public investment. However, this is down from its previous forecast of 7.8%. The bank also cautioned that growth for 45 developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region would be the slowest in 16 years, putting the growth figure at 5.7%.

3. Jobs grow in euro area

Unemployment in the euro area fell to 9.5% in February, down from 9.6% in January, marking the lowest level of the jobless rate in eight years. The uptick in the job growth came as manufacturing grew in the region due to an improvement in global growth. At its peak, the jobless rate had crossed 12% in 2013. 

4. New railway regulatory body approved

The Union cabinet this week approved the setting up of the Rail Development Authority, which will function as a regulator and be responsible for determining tariffs, ensuring fair play and a level playing field for stakeholder investment; setting efficiency and performance standards; and dissemination of information. The new body will be headed by a chairman and will have three members.

5. Manufacturing PMI up in March

The Nikkei India manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for March 2017 was the fourth highest among Asian economies, rising from a value of 50.7 in February to 52.5 in March. The pick-up came on the back of new domestic and export orders. A value above 50 indicates expansion. The numbers show that manufacturing has recovered from the impact of demonetization.

6. IPL 10 begins

The 10th edition of the Indian Premier League began this week with the opening match being played between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). The former scored a 35-run win on the back of a strong performance by Yuvraj Singh. Sunrisers Hyderabad is the defending champion while RCB was the finalist last year.

7. Suspected chemical attack in Syria

Over 70 people were killed by a suspected gas attack this week in the rebel held province of Idlib in Syria. The dead included more than ten children under the age of eight. Two days after the attack, US President Donald Trump authorized a missile strike against a Syrian airbase from where he said the gas attack had been launched. Syrian military sources have denied their involvement, but Britain, France and the US presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council, blaming President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. It is believed that the chemical used was a deadly nerve gas called Sarin.

8. Sensex swings on anticipation of monetary policy

The BSE Sensex came close to touching highs of 30,000 when it closed 64 points up at 29,974 points on Wednesday. However these gains were reversed on Thursday as investors waited for RBI’s moves at the Monetary Policy Committee meeting. Markets fell across the world as minutes of the US Fed’s last meeting showed that most policymakers felt the central bank should begin trimming its balance sheet later this year, earlier than expected by most.

9. Farm loans waived

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath announced that his government would waive off farm loans, while the Madras high court directed Tamil Nadu to significantly expand its farm loan waiver scheme. Under pressure from the opposition, Maharastra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has sought time to study the Uttar Pradesh model.

10. RBI holds repo rate

At its meeting this week, the Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy committee (MPC) kept the repo rate unchanged at 6.25%. However, the committee was unanimous in their decision to raise the reverse repo rate by 25 basis points to 6%. It explained that its neutral stance emerged from its assessment that risks to inflation were evenly balanced at the moment. 

Graphics by Prajakta Patil/Mint.

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