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Thursday,29-July-2021

Business

Fiscal deficit of states to hit peak of Rs 8.7 lakh cr as tax collections slide

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Tax. (IANS Infographics)

The Covid pandemic-induced lockdown and consequent slump in economic activity will hit tax collections of states and result in a near four-fold expansion in their revenue deficits this fiscal, year-on-year, ratings agency Crisil said in a report.

With this, the states’ aggregate gross fiscal deficit (GFD) will not only get expanded to an all-time high of Rs 8.7 lakh crore, or 4.7 per cent of GSDP, but also skew its composition towards revenue deficit which is relatively less value-accretive towards future tax potential, the report said.

Though tax collections are expected to improve slowly with improving economic outlook, higher interest burden because of high debt funding of this year’s GFD, coupled with sticky revenue expenditures, may keep revenue deficits high for states and GFD composition skewed over the next 2-3 years. This will, in turn, increase the credit risk for states.

It may be noted that the Centre had already given extra leeway to states this year to borrow to meet all expenditure requirements. An additional borrowing limit of 2 per cent over and above 3 per cent of gross state domestic product (GSDP) already allowed had been provided to states. This has already pushed up debt burden on states.

A CRISIL Ratings study of 18 states, which account for 90 per cent of aggregate gross state domestic product (GSDP), indicates as much.

Says Manish Gupta, Senior Director, CRISIL Ratings Ltd, “Composition of GFD, apart from its level, is one of the critical indicators of credit quality of states. Higher contribution of capital expenditure (capex) in a state’s GFD composition is viewed positively as it supports capital formation, which improves the state’s tax potential. In this fiscal, revenue deficit of states would contribute 70 per cent of GFD, sharply higher than the average 15 per cent seen over the past five fiscals.”

That is because of 15 per cent year-on-year decline in revenue this fiscal. Revenue expenditures may also remain sticky as these are either committed (related to salaries, pension and interest costs), making it difficult to cut, or have been necessitated by the pandemic (such as grants-in-aid, medical and labour welfare related expenses). High revenue deficit will also compel states to moderate their capex to remain within fiscal borrowing limits, thereby aggravating the GFD skew.

To fund this expanded and skewed GFD, states are likely to borrow more this year. This will increase their indebtedness, but not contribute much towards future tax potential. We expect revenue collections to – at best – reach close to pre-pandemic levels next fiscal, factoring in unlocking that began in July 2020 and our forecast of real GDP growth of 10 per cent for India next fiscal, the report said.

Ankit Hakhu, Director, CRISIL Ratings Ltd, said “The rising interest obligations due to higher indebtedness coupled with modest revenue collections will weaken interest cover of the states to 5-6 times over the medium term from 7.7 times in fiscal 2020. Further, while states’ capex is expected to rise next year within the available fiscal space, its impact on tax potential will only be visible in subsequent years.”

Meanwhile, high and sticky revenue expenditures will continue to skew the GFD composition, with revenue deficit contributing to 30-40 per cent of GFD over next few years, higher that the average of fiscals 2016-20. This skewed GFD composition, along with weak interest cover, will constrain the credit outlook for the states.

A strong and sustained revival in tax collections going forward and ability of states to step up capex to rebalance the composition of GFD will remain key monitorables.

GFD is primarily composed of capex, net lending and revenue deficit.

Business

PUBG developer Krafton to raise $3.7 bn via IPO next month

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PUBG

Krafton, the video game developer behind global hit PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), will raise 4.3 trillion won ($3.7 billion) in its initial public offering (IPO), the company said in a regulatory filing on Thursday.

Krafton said it priced its shares at 498,000 won each at the upper end of the range announced earlier this month.

The listing, scheduled for August 10, is expected to be one of the largest ever on the local bourse. Samsung Life Insurance holds the record for its 4.89 trillion won IPO in 2010, reports Yonhap news agency.

While Krafton had initially sought to raise up to a record 5.6 trillion won, it lowered its pricing band after financial authorities requested revisions to its plan amid controversy of overvaluation.

Krafton has downplayed overvaluation concerns, with the company saying in an online press conference that it is among a few players in the local tech and entertainment industry to hold a significant presence in the global market.

The video game maker has sold over 75 million copies of PUBG for PCs and consoles globally since its launch in 2017.

The mobile version of the battle royale shooter, in which players fight each other until the last survivor, has reached 1 billion downloads globally, excluding China.

Krafton is eyeing active mergers and acquisitions after going public, with plans to spend 70 percent of the funds secured from the IPO in acquiring promising game developers.

The company is looking to expand its video game portfolio with the launch of new in-house mobile game “PUBG: New State” as early as September this year and horror game “Callisto Protocol” next year.

The company is also expanding big in the Indian market.

Developed by Krafton for the Indian audience, the Battlegrounds Mobile India game surpassed 34 million registered users within a week after its release.

Online storytelling platform Pratilipi announced on July 14 that it has raised $48 million in a funding round led by South Korean gaming company Krafton.

The next day, Krafton announced its first esports tournament — Battlegrounds Mobile India Series 2021 — that was kicked off from July 19 with a prize pool of Rs 1 crore.

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Bollywood

‘Toofan’ leads the race as Amazon Prime’s most watched Hindi film in 2021

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toofan

In a rare instance, OTT giant Amazon Prime Video has released data, revealing its highest streaming projects within their launch-weeks so far in this year. Actor Farhan Akhtar’s ‘Toofan’ is on top position as the most watched video within first week of its release globally.

According to the data released by the OTT platform, the Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directorial was watched by more customers on Prime Video India than any other Hindi film in its opening week. The film was viewed in over 3,900+ towns and cities in India and in 160+ countries and territories across the globe.

Besides this, in the local languages catagory, films ‘Narappa’ (Telugu), ‘Sarpatta Parambarai’ (Tamil) and ‘Malik’ (Malayalam), were each watched in over 3,200+ towns and cities in India and in over 150+ countries and territories globally.

In the catagory of web shows, Adarsh Gourav’s ‘Hostel Daze (S2)’ emerged as one of the most loved shows amongst young adults within just a week of its launch, with viewership from 3,600+ towns and cities in India and from over 100+ countries and territories around the world.

The data comes to light as Amazon marked July 26 and July 27 as Prime Days. Prime Day 2021 marked the most Small Medium Businesses (SMBs) selling on Amazon.in ever, as they saw an overwhelming response from Prime members.

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Business

Pandemic pushes digital payments, RBI index up 30%

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Online-payment

The Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions associated with it has pushed up digital transactions in the country.

An indicator to faster adoption of online payment medium is the Reserve Bank of India’s Digital Payment Index. After moving at moderate pace over the years, the index has jumped sharply 30 per cent between March 2020 and March 2021.

The pandemic is one of the reason while people are increasingly preferring digital payment mechanism over physical mode. But improvement in the digital payment infrastructure has also pushed up this adoption.

The RBI had earlier announced construction of a composite Reserve Bank of India – Digital Payments Index (RBI-DPI) with March 2018 as base to capture the extent of digitisation of payments across the country.

The index for March 2021 stands at 270.59 as against 207.84 for March 2020, announced while launching the index on January 1, 2021.

The RBI-DPI index has demonstrated significant growth in the index representing the rapid adoption and deepening of digital payments across the country in recent years, the apex bank said in a statement.

Starting from March 2018, the index stood at 153.47 in March 2019, 173.49 in September 2019. This improved to 207.84 in March 2020, 217.74 in September 2020 and further increased to 270.59 in March 2021.

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