GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

India’s Foreign Exchange Reserves Hit A Life-Time High.

Background

  • India’s foreign exchange reserves hit a life-time high of 424.361 billion US dollars, after rising by 1.828 billion dollars in the week to March 30, 2018, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) confirmed.
  • Earlier, the reserves had touched a record high of 421.914 billion dollars on February 9.
  • It had crossed the 400-billion dollar mark for the first time in the week to September 8, 2017, but had been fluctuating, since then.
  • The gold reserves, however, remained unchanged at 21.614 billion US dollars, the apex bank said.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • In the reporting week, the foreign currency assets, a major component of the overall reserves, rose by USD 1.823 billion to USD 399.118 billion.
  • Expressed in the US dollar terms, the foreign currency assets include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of the non-US currencies such as the euro, the pound and the yen held in the reserves.
  • Gold reserves remained unchanged at USD 21.614 billion, the central bank said.
  • The special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund rose by USD 2.1 million to USD 1.544 billion.
  • The country’s reserve position with the IMF also increased by USD 2.8 million to USD 2.083 billion, the apex bank said.

Sources- DNA.

GS Paper II- Governance.

Health Ministry Bans Over-The-Counter Sale Of 14 Steroid Creams.

Background

  • To prevent indiscriminate sale of topical preparations containing steroids and antibiotics without prescription, the Health Ministry has banned over-the-counter sale of around 14 such creams.
  • In a March 23, 2018 notification, the Ministry has put 14 steroid-based creams and ointments under the Schedule H category by making amendments to certain Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
  • The decision was taken following consultation with the Drugs Technical Advisory Board which had recommended a ban on the sale of such creams without prescription and had also submitted their recommendations to the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The move comes after dermatologists complained that pharmaceutical companies were selling steroid-based creams and ointments to patients who use them without medical guidance.
  • The revised rules will apply to skin creams that contain steroids or other prescription drugs and not for ordinary face-cleansing and moisturisers.
  • The creams which have been banned are alclometasone, beclomethasone, desonide, desoximetasone and flucinonide among others.

Sources- The Hindu.

GS Paper III- Economic Development.

11 Public Sector Banks Placed Under RBI’s PCA Framework.

Background

  • With almost half the country’s state-owned banks placed under the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework by the Reserve Bank of India – thanks to mounting losses over the past several years – small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are reportedly finding it increasingly difficult to bag loans. It does not help that banking NPAs in the MSMEs segment exceeded 8 per cent as of March 2017.
  • Since the PCA framework restricts the amount of loans banks can extend, this will definitely put pressure on credit being made available to companies especially the MSMEs. Large companies have access to the corporate bond market so they may not be impacted immediately. In January this year, Allahabad bank was the most recent bank to make it to this naughty list, and the report added that three-four more banks are expected to join the ranks in the near future because of deteriorating performance.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The PCA framework – revised in April 2017 – is one of the RBI’s supervisory tools, which involves monitoring various bank performance indicators as an early warning exercise. It is initiated once certain thresholds relating to capital, asset quality etc., are breached. Its objective is to facilitate the banks to take corrective measures in a timely manner in order to restore their financial health. Depending on the risk threshold, corrective actions ranging from restrictions on dividend distribution to restriction on branch expansion and management compensation along with higher provisions for bad loans get set in motion.
  • Significantly, the RBI may also unleash discretionary capital and credit risk related corrective actions, including reduction in exposure to high risk sectors to conserve capital, restrictions on/ reduction in credit expansion for borrowers below certain rating grades and reduction in loan concentrations; in identified sectors, industries or borrowers, according to an RBI notification on the subject.
  • The apex bank has previously invoked PCA on banks like Indian Overseas Bank, IDBI Bank, Corporation Bank, Central Bank of India, United Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Bank of India, all of which have posted Net Non-performing advances (NNPA) ratios of over 9 per cent.
  • Last month (March, 2018) rating agency ICRA, too, had cautioned that five more PSBs – Punjab National Bank, Union Bank of India, Canara Bank, Andhra Bank and Punjab and Sind Bank – looked set to join the PCA list. These banks had all posted NNPA ratios in the range of 6.3-7.8 per cent, which as per the revised PCA framework falls under the Risk Threshold 1 category.
  • The experts predict non-banking finance companies (NBFC) to take on an increasingly larger share of the MSME credit pie over the next few years.

Sources- Business Today.