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Budget 2018 Reactions: I think It Is A Populist Budget, Vijay Mehta

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On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the Union Budget?

Well, I need to go through the fine print of the budget to ascertain certain facts which are not known to me yet. It would not be right for me to comment before I go through it because the Finance Minister has introduced many measures in the budget where he has only announced what the Government is going to spend but, not how it is going to raise the money for the same. I do not think the fiscal deficit of 3.5 per cent will hold ground during the year as the Government might have to borrow more to fund its expenses. This deficit may be a little higher than 3.5 per cent because the Government needs money to fund the schemes it has announced.

Do you feel this is an election/ populist budget or a developmental budget considering the elections next year?

I think it is a populist budget, the Government has gone all out to woo the poor people and probably the electorate too, hence, we can expect the elections during this year only. Although, most of the benefits are announced keeping the poor populace in mind, the spend on infrastructure, smart cities and a lot of other measures will create employment opportunities which will benefit the industry indirectly as whatever will happen, the consumption pattern will continue.

Has the Government addressed the job/ employment issue adequately in this Budget?

If you really think, you create more jobs with every kind of expansion. Hence, whatever our Finance Minister has announced, such as the infrastructure growth, the growth of various other schemes, if it materialises, then it will create jobs indirectly, though not to the extent as has been promised by the Government, but it has made an attempt to make sure that the jobs are created.

Is the farm distress/agri crisis addressed well in this Budget?

There has always been a constraint for resources, but I think the Government has definitely tried to address the issue within the ambit of available resources. There are many provisions in the budget that will help farmers, with the main provision being that the Government will buy one and a half times of the farmers’ produce price. I think this announcement will go a long way as at least the base price has been determined, the rest is on market forces, but the farmers will get the dues they deserve for their produce.

Summarize the Union Budget in a few lines?

The Finance Minister has kept the popular support in view and has come up with the provisions which are developmental keeping an eye on the electorate.   

Three hashtag words/expressions to sum up the budget 2018?

Development with less incentives to people other than the poor class.

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Bitcoin slides further, headed for worst week since 2013

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LONDON (Reuters) – Bitcoin fell 9 percent on Friday, leaving the best-known cryptocurrency down more than 30 percent this week and headed for its worst weekly performance since April 2013.

The cryptocurrency dropped to as low as $8,155 at 0915 GMT on the Luxembourg-based bitstamp exchange amid a broader rout in the market. Other large cryptocurrencies have lost more than 20 percent of their value in the last 24 hours of trading, according to

A growing regulatory backlash against digital coins has sent investors scrambling to sell this week. Bitcoin is down more than half from a December peak of almost $20,000 after it notched up a more than 1,000 percent gain last year.

Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Peter Graff

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CEO’s Agenda In 2018 Is To Drive Growth Through Stakeholder Experience

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Brands are struggling to deliver world-class experiences. CEOs are shifting their focus to enable dramatic improvements within their organizations. Actionable insights from these contextual conversations have enabled dramatic improvements in stakeholder experience via, increase in satisfaction scores, levels of engagement, ROI on campaigns, revenue opportunities, amongst achieving other business goals.

Brands across the banking, retail, consumer durables, automotive, financial services and other industries who have used LitmusWorld’s platform have achieved over 10% improvements in CX scores within the first 3 months of initiating a touchpoint-level conversation with their customers. This has given program visibility across functions and this empowers the entire organisation to start working towards last-mile delivery of a superior experience. 70% of Indian users only use the mobile device to access the internet, they are constantly connected and are willing to express their emotions on a continuous basis. The opportunity for brands lies in the ability to initiate a contextual conversation with their digitally advanced stakeholders.

Industry leaders like, Reliance Digital, Tata Sky, Croma, Inox, Raymond, Kotak Bank, Reliance Brands and Apollo Munich Health Insurance amongst 100 other brands have initiated conversations to capture emotions across the stakeholder journey by leveraging the LitmusWorld platform. “Retail is all about taking new leaps of faith. Being iterative, constantly looking at new things that are out there and placing enough new bets, LitmusWorld is one great bet that we placed and its played of very well,” said Darshan Mehta, CEO, Reliance Brands.

Over 30 million conversations have delivered actionable insights not just in real-time, but also in a simple manner to manage data in large volumes. Initiating conversations across stakeholders, including customers, employees, vendors and communities have become an integral component of the CEOs agenda to drive business growth. On an average, over 8% of the customers and over 90% of the employees across industries respond to these conversations and that’s the voice most businesses are missing in their boardrooms today. “Contextual conversations, in workplaces, have the potential to transform the entire ecosystem and hence, can be a powerful mechanism for growth and development. In the hands of the right people and with the appropriate technology, contextual conversations have evolved into being the future of marketing,” said Ajay Row, Founder, LitmusWorld.

The real-time management dashboard backed by LitmusWorld Pulse, a robust mobile-app dashboard, empowers brands to capture insights through text analytics, respond to stakeholders, and address issues with minimum delay. The platform displays a unified overview of all the incoming stakeholder feeds, and tools to analyze it. Simplicity in the platform setup allows you to be agile, Simplicity of the conversation UI/UX make stakeholders respond, Simplicity in dashboard usage makes information accessible and helps maximize enterprise usage of the platform.

2017 has been a transformational year for brands that are constantly working towards dramatically improving stakeholder experiences. Over 87% of the customer feeds have been positive and that’s a clear testament of their intent to make businesses grow. Business leaders need to resolve issues in 2 hours and not 2 days because expectations have increased and the consumers cannot feel that ‘out of sight is out of mind’ which eventually leads to bad publicity. By reaching the consumer at the moment of experience, we capture the emotion while it’s still fresh, resulting in a conversation that is more authentic, more detailed and most importantly, actionable. “Whether it is Net Promoter Score or the LitmusWorld scale, these are only metrics. True change happens when it becomes a continuous improvement journey across the life-cycle of your customers and employees,” said Ramesh Natarajan, Founder, LitmusWorld.

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India's 'Modicare' to cost about $1.7 billion a year – source

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to provide health insurance for about half the country’s population would require an estimated 110 billion rupees ($1.72 billion) in central and state funding each year, an official told Reuters.

The National Health Protection Scheme, which the government dubs “Modicare”, was announced in Thursday’s budget for 2018/19 and would provide 100 million families, or about 500 million poor people, with a health cover of 500,000 rupees per year for free treatment of serious ailments.

In its budget, the government announced a federal allocation of 20 billion rupees for the scheme in 2018-19, but officials say more funds would be made available as the programme is rolled out over the year.

Currently, several state governments offer some form of health insurance but these are generally small and poorly implemented.

Under the new scheme, the government estimates the cost of insuring each family would be about 1,100 rupees ($17.15), said the government official, who had direct knowledge of the matter and did not want to be named.

Modi faces a national election next year and the health programme is seen as a signature initiative to woo voters in the countryside, many of whom struggle with high healthcare costs.

The government said the scheme would be “the world’s largest government funded health care programme” but critics have raised doubts whether 20 billion rupees in federal funding is enough to support the programme for 2018-19.

A child wears a face mask for protection from air pollution in Delhi, India November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton/Files

However, the government official said of the 110 billion rupees in premiums required to fund the programme, the central government would contribute about 70 billion rupees with the 29 states providing the rest.

The 50 billion rupees in federal funding on top of the 20 billion rupees allocated in the budget would be made available as the scheme details are worked out over the coming months, the official said.

FILE PHOTO: Patients and their attendants wait outside the Out Patient Department (OPD) at a government-run hospital in New Delhi, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Saumya Khandelwal/File photo

“Government health insurance companies have readily agreed to fund the programme (at this cost),” the official said.

The measure is the latest attempt by Modi to reform India’s public health system, which faces a shortage of hospitals and doctors. The government has also in recent years capped prices of critical drugs and medical devices and increased health funding.

Still, India spends only about 1 percent of its GDP on public health, among the world’s lowest, and the health ministry estimates such funding leads to “catastrophic” expenses that push 7 percent of the population into poverty each year.

Modi’s government on Thursday also raised the central health budget by 11.5 percent to $8.3 billion for 2018-19.

($1 = 64.1200 rupees)

Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Sam Holmes

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Kolkata, Feb.(Feb) 02 (PTI) SILVER RDY 39,500.00 PER KG GOLD(24-carat) RDY 30,805.00 PER 10 GRAMS GOLD(22-carat) RDY 29,225.00 PER 10 GRAMS — PTI SAM

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by BW staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.

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India's new health insurance to cost govts $1.71 billion a year – source

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious plan to provide health insurance to 100 million poor families would require 110 billion rupees ($1.71 billion) in federal and state funding each year, a government official told Reuters.

The National Health Protection Scheme, dubbed “Modicare” and announced in Thursday’s budget, would provide 100 million families, or about 500 million poor people, with a health cover of 500,000 rupees ($7,850) for free treatment of serious ailments.

The government has estimated the premium for insuring each family would be about 1,100 rupees ($17.15), said the government official with direct knowledge of the matter.

($1 = 64.1575 rupees)

Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Malini Menon

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Netwex Launches Cryptocurrency Based on Waste-to-Energy Crypto

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Mine Concept

(Attn.editors: The following press release comes to you under an arrangement with PRNewswire. PTI takes no editorial responsibility for the same).

Netwex Launches Cryptocurrency Based on Waste-to-Energy Crypto Mine Concept

SINGAPORE, February 1, 2018/PRNewswire/ –Netwex ICO, an open source all-in-one decentralized crypto community, announced the launch of their first altcoin, NXE, on 1st February 2018 when the Crowd Sale began.

A Singapore-based ICO, Netwex Coin recently revealed its plan to launch their first cryptocurrency, NXE, in the market. The ICO Crowd Sale for NXE will commence on 1st February 2018 and continue until 2nd March 2018, after which it is expected to be listed on the exchanges at a value of $10. The current value of Netwex Coin is $.08 per NXE, and the Crowd Sale price ranges from $0.8 to $1.2.

(Logo: )

An open source all-in-one decentralized crypto community, Netwex has started accepting registration on the website and is even offering 10 NXE coins free at the time of sign-up to lure the customers. They also have a referral program, whereby if someone refers a friend then he/she gets 2 NXE coins for free. Netwex is supposedly the first ICO to allow users to utilize their NXE coins to buy air tickets at the Netwex website, that too at a discount of upto 25%.

Speaking about their new crypto venture, Jackson M., Marketing Head at Netwex stated, “We want to encourage the society to have a greener and cleaner solution for their energy needs and empowering them with cryptocurrency. Our contribution to the waste-to-energy crypto mine is a small step towards achieving that goal.”

“We’ll offer 100,00,000 NXE coins for early investors before it is traded in exchanges, and a total of 51,000,000 coins would be up for the offering. Netwex Coin gives you the power of lightning fast transactions with minimum fees,” he further added.

Based on AI-based algorithm, Netwex offers various alternatives for the investors to choose from, including Trading, CGP (Capital Gain Program), EPC (Earnings per Coin), and Mining. The distinguishing feature of their venture is that they will contribute the revenues to fund waste-to-energy crypto mine.

About Netwex

Netwex is an open source all-in-one decentralized peer-to-peer crypto community, based in Singapore. Incepted with the concept of waste-to-energy powered crypto mine, Netwex is working to provide lucrative investment opportunities to the users. Based on an AI-based trading algorithm, their state-of -the-art trading bot (SATB) can self-improvise exponentially as the transactions increase.

For more information, please visit:

Media Contact Jackson M. +65-8004922323

Source: Netwex PRNewswire OSS

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by BW staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.

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Blackstone sees data, not desktop products, as future of Thomson Reuters F&R unit

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Blackstone Group LP President Tony James said on Thursday the future of the Thomson Reuters Financial and Risk business is in selling data, not in selling terminal desktop products to traders, bankers and investors.

“We’re big believers in data and that’s certainly a driver behind the Thomson Reuters business,” James said in a call with analysts after Blackstone’s fourth-quarter earnings, when asked how the firm was looking at opportunities in data technology and how it might expand its expertise in that area.

“The most valuable part of that business by far is the data part. The terminals are the legacy business for which people think of them but that’s not where the future of that company is,” said James, without giving any further details.

Blackstone this week agreed to buy a majority stake in Thomson Reuters Corp’s F&R division, putting the U.S. private equity firm at the heart of Wall Street’s financial information industry, where Thomson Reuters competes against privately-held Bloomberg in providing bankers and investors with news, data and analytics.

In an interview after Reuters published James’ comments, Martin Brand, the Blackstone executive who led the acquisition of the Thomson Reuters F&R unit, said that Blackstone wanted to improve all parts of that business, including the Eikon platform, F&R’s flagship desktop product.

“The data feeds are faster growing. At the same time, we’re fully committed to investing significantly behind Eikon and view it as a business we’re excited about,” he said.

Reuters News will remain a unit of Thomson Reuters Corp.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Bill Rigby

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Budget seeks to balance economic, political imperatives: DBS

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By Gurdip Singh

Singapore, Feb 2 (PTI) India’s Union Budget for 2018-19 mixed prudence with populism and sought to balance economic and political imperatives, Singapore’s banking group DBS said today.

While there was an emphasis on social sector and rural sector schemes, these were balanced with plans to raise revenues, the bank said about the budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Lok Sabha yesterday.

Adopting a more modest consolidation path, the deficit targets for Fiscal 2018 and 2018-19 were raised, but kept below FY17’s 3.5 per cent threshold. 

The overall contractionary stance will see fiscal policy play a smaller role in supporting growth, though well- implemented reforms towards the farm and rural sector might help the consumption turnaround, DBS said.

“Along our expectations, the outgoing year marked a fiscal slippage, with the government revising up the FY18 fiscal deficit target to 3.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – vs targeted 3.2 per cent,” the bank said.

The FY19 target has been set at 3.3 per cent (the medium-term fiscal roadmap had envisaged a deficit of 3 per cent of the GDP).

The government remains optimistic on revenue collections in FY19, after a shortfall this year due to slower Goods and Services Tax (GST)-related and non-tax receipts, according to DBS. 

As a percentage of the GDP, gross tax revenues are forecasted to improve by 0.5 per cent in FY19, while non-tax revenues and non-debt receipts (divestments) moderate. 

After consistently falling short of targets in recent years, divestment receipts were surprisingly strong this year, noted DBS in its comments on the budget. 

Notwithstanding this positive surprise, the government pegged the FY19 target at a conservative Rs 800 billion, hinging on a busy pipeline of stake sales and bullish momentum in the capital markets. 

Expenditure on the other hand is projected to moderate into FY19. 

Ahead of upcoming elections, however, plans to slow revenue spending (10 per cent YoY in FY19 vs FY18’s 15 per cent) and raising capital expenditure from a decline this year might be a challenge, according to the bank. 

The moderation in revenue expenses is likely due to lower compensation pay outs, as interest payments (under threat of the recent rise in borrowing costs) and subsidies (on higher food and fertiliser allocations) are projected to increase.    The primary deficit (excluding one-off revenues) is budgeted to narrow by 0.3-0.4 per cent of GDP in FY19, suggesting a mildly contractionary budget, which may be hard to attain given the political calendar. 

This is especially the case since the government aims to increase tax collection by an ambitious 0.5 per cent of GDP and cut total spending by 0.2 per cent of GDP, said DBS. PTI GS CHT

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by BW staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.

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CORRECTED – Amazon posts largest profit in its history on sales, tax boost

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(Reuters) – Inc (AMZN.O) on Thursday reported a profit near $2 billion, the largest in its history, as the online retailer drew millions of new customers to its Prime fast-shipping club for the holiday season and as changes to U.S. tax law added to its bottom line.

Shares rose more than 6 percent in extended trading, after previously closing down 4 percent on the Nasdaq.

Seattle-based Amazon is using fast shipping, television shows exclusive to its website and forays into new technology, such as its voice-controlled Alexa devices, to attract high-spending Prime members. Amazon said price cuts at Whole Foods Market, which it acquired for $13.7 billion last year, are helping it win grocery sales, too.

The world’s largest online retailer said net income more than doubled to $1.86 billion, or $3.75 per share in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Its profit received a provisional $789 million boost from the U.S. Republican tax bill passed in December. Analysts on average were expecting just $1.85 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (

“This was another blow-out quarter for Amazon,” said GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives. “The retail strength was eye-popping as the company had a banner holiday season and looked to capture roughly 50 percent of all e-commerce holiday season sales.”

As expected, the period running from before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday through New Years was Amazon’s biggest-ever by revenue. Sales rose 38 percent to $60.5 billion in the quarter, beating estimates.

The company’s fast delivery, like its two-hour Prime Now service, has helped win over holiday shoppers eager to avoid the crowds of big box retailers. Prime saw more than 4 million sign-ups in one week alone last quarter, and revenue from subscription fees grew 49 percent to $3.2 billion, Amazon said.

That figure is expected to rise this quarter in part because the company recently raised the fee for month-to-month Prime plans, affecting some 30 percent of subscribers, according to analysts at Cowen & Co. Some 60 million, or close to half of all U.S. households, are estimated to have Prime subscriptions.

Advertising and other revenue rose 62 percent to $1.74 billion.

Perhaps the surprise star of the past quarter was Amazon’s voice aide Alexa, embedded in the company’s Echo speakers and Fire TV players, as well as some cars and house gadgets. Millions of Amazon customers ordered goods by voice with Alexa in the past year, said Brian Olsavsky, Amazon’s chief financial officer, on a call with reporters.

“Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them,” added Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, in a statement. “We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often — expect us to double down.”


Amazon’s stock has outperformed the S&P 500 .SPX, rising almost 50 percent since the start of the fourth quarter, compared with the S&P’s 12 percent rise.

Its shares trade at a premium to those of many peers. The stock’s price-to-earnings ratio is nearly 12 times that of cloud computing rival Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), for instance.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is dueling with Microsoft to handle data and computing for large enterprises, saw its profit margin expand from the third quarter.

This was a “sign of platform strength despite increasing competition,” said Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian in a research note.

AWS posted a 45 percent rise in sales to $5.1 billion.

Amazon said it expects operating profit in the current quarter of between $300 million and $1 billion. Analysts were expecting $1.5 billion, according to analytics firm FactSet.

Olsavsky, Amazon’s CFO, told reporters, “We’re still in heavy investment mode.”

The company has become notorious for running on a low profit margin. Yet its big bets on new services and entry into new industries have reaped shareholders rewards over the past decade, including its founder Bezos, now the richest man in the world.

Amazon continues to spend on a wide array of areas. It is expanding its retail footprint outside the United States, particularly in India, and almost doubled its international operating loss to $919 million in the fourth quarter. Amazon’s global headcount is up 66 percent from a year ago at 566,000 full-time and part-time employees, thanks to a hiring spree and an influx of workers from Whole Foods Market.

And earlier this week, it announced a partnership with JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) to determine how to cut health costs for hundreds of thousands of their employees. [nL2N1PP1TW]

The company said it plans to spend more on video content this year as well, with a prequel television series to “The Lord of the Rings” in the works. Analysts estimate Amazon spent $4.5 billion or more in 2017.

“Revenue and margins vastly exceeded expectations, and cost control was impressive, so that’s what people are focused on,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, adding, “It’s clear that they will spend a lot more in 2018.”

(Corrects paragraph 20 to reflect that some workers are part-time)

Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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