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MARKET SCAN

Cleaner drive

Teslas Car | AP

According to the International Energy Agency, you could be seeing a lot more Teslas in the next two years. The agency, which advises countries on energy policy, recently released a report that said the global fleet of electric vehicles is likely to more than triple—from 3.7 million last year to about 13 million by the end of 2020. And, in the following decade, sales could increase by 24 per cent each year.

The report highlights the world's keenness to move on from petrol and diesel. Pollution control is also seen as a big driving force. Among the current breed, Tesla Inc. and Nissan Motor Co. have some of the most popular electric vehicles. However, major players, including Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co. and Audi AG have also announced dozens of battery-powered cars.

NERVOUS PHARMA

AFP

In a move to regulate drug prices, the government is apparently thinking of linking the permitted annual increase in prices of non-scheduled formulations to the Wholesale Price Index (WPI). If implemented, the move could be a big blow to the pharmaceutical industry.

The NITI Aayog, recommending an amendment to the Drug Price Control Order 2013, suggested that prices of non-scheduled drugs also be linked to WPI to regulate them like the prices of scheduled drugs. Among other recommendations, it also suggested that a separate index be developed for pharmaceutical products.

“The medicine prices may be linked to pharma commodities WPI rather than general WPI for both scheduled as well as non-scheduled drugs,” said the proposal.

Recently, NITI Aayog and the department of pharmaceuticals, under the chemicals and fertilisers ministry, met with the prime minister’s office to discuss the proposed changes. According to DPCO 2013, scheduled drug prices are revised in line with the WPI of the previous calendar year. And, if there is a decline in the annual WPI, drug companies have to cut prices in accordance.

DIGITAL PITFALLS

A new report by payments company FIS shows that Indians have embraced digital banking, but are also among those most susceptible to frauds. The survey, which covered multiple countries, found that 18 per cent of Indian customers reported a fraud in the past year. This was more than any other country surveyed.

The frauds happen across ages and are proportionate to the frequency of usage. Those between 27 and 37, who use digital banking the most, were also the most affected by frauds. One of every four people in this age group reported a fraud.

Only 6 per cent consumers in Germany and 8 per cent in the UK reported banking frauds. People in the US who were defrauded were twice as likely to switch their banks after a fraud compared with non-victims.

“This is higher than any other country included in this year’s PACE research. Fraud prevention and account security should be the top priority—yes, ahead of digital banking rollout—for banks in India. They must stem the tide of widespread security breaches and fraud, and protect their customers first and foremost,” the report said.

EXTERNAL PRESSURE

When it comes to foreign debt exposure and the level of reserves to cover that, India is the worst-hit Asian currency this year. Moody’s Investors Service’s external vulnerability index—which is the ratio of short-term debt, maturing long-term debt and non-resident deposits over one year calculated as a proportion of reserves—puts India at 74 per cent.

The exceptions in Asia are Malaysia and the Philippines. Though Malaysia is one of the most debt risky countries on the continent, the ringgit has gained this year. The Philippines, meanwhile, has low foreign exposure but a currency that is the second worst-performer in Asia, down almost 5 per cent against the dollar.

Global financial conditions have become tighter, making it costlier to refinance foreign debt and, thereby, adding pressure on currencies.

RELAX THE TAX

The Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IVCA) has requested the finance ministry to reduce the GST on management fee earned by onshore funds, from 18 per cent to 5 per cent.

On May 21, IVCA representatives made a formal representation, asking for a more benign tax regime for India-based alternative investment funds.

BLOCK, WITH BLOCKCHAIN

To curb unwanted calls and messages, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is planning to use blockchain technology. TRAI will work with telecom operators and other stakeholders, in a first of its kind initiative, to create a regulatory framework to address unsolicited commercial communication. The draft, called the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation, 2018, will be open for comment till June 11.

Reportedly, the blockchain will ensure that the information is secured cryptographically, and that it will be available only to registered telemarketers.

JIO'S ROUND TWO

Reuters

Repeating its aggressive pricing strategy for its wireless phone services, Reliance Jio Infocomm will offer internet access, videos and voice calls—as part of its wired broadband services—for less than Rs 1,000 a month later this year. The company is said to be testing its fibre-to-home services in some cities, including in Delhi and Mumbai.

SCREEN TEST

AFP

According to a recent report, Apple has decided to switch from LCD to OLED screens in all three iPhone models planned for next year. Soon after the news was published, the shares of Japan Display, a main supplier of iPhone LCD screens, tumbled by 10 per cent. The company has lagged its South Korean rivals and will only start mass-producing OLED screens for smartphones next year. The company, created by combining the display businesses of Hitachi, Toshiba and Sony, is now looking for new investors.

The shares of LG, meanwhile, surged.

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