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FASTag not mandatory until December 15

The central government on Friday postponed mandatory implementation of electronic toll collection system of FASTag to December 15. Earlier, the government had set December 1 as the date to roll out FASTag across all national highways as well as select state highways.

"To facilitate sufficient lead time to citizens to obtain FASTag, it has now been decided that all lanes in the fee plazas shall be declared FASTag lane of Fee Plaza' by December 15, 2019," according to an official order.

As per the order, one lane in the toll plaza will be kept as 'hybrid lane', which will accept FASTag and other modes of payment.

FASTag is an electronic toll connection device which is affixed on a vehicles' windscreen. This is basically a sticker that comes with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology which is automatically read by the sensors placed at the toll plazas. This sticker is linked either to a prepaid account like Paytm or through a bank account. The amount is deducted automatically whenever your vehicle crosses any toll plaza which is RFID-enabled.

FASTags are being sold at over 28,500 point-of-sale locations across the country and around 70 lakh tags have been issued till Wednesday. On November 25 alone, 1.03 lakh tags were issued, while the average daily issuance of FASTag has risen to 35,000 in November from 8,000 in July.

The objective of FASTag implementation is to remove bottlenecks and ensure seamless movement of traffic and collection of user fee as per the notified rates, using passive RFID technology. This will also promote digital payments at toll plaza and decongest national highways. 

In October, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that FASTags will soon be mandatory for all vehicles from December this year. In line with the same, the Ministry of Highways and Roads has made it mandatory for all vehicles, private and commercial to immediately switch to electronic toll payment from December 1.

In order to ensure smooth implementation of this decision, the Ministry has asked NHAI to assess the overall requirement of FASTags across the country and make it available in requisite numbers.

RBI may go for another rate cut as GDP slows to more than 6-year low

India's gross domestic product (GDP) growth has declined further to 4.5 per cent in second quarter (Q2) of the current fiscal from 5 per cent in Q1 of FY20 due to persistent slowdown in consumption, automobile sales and slump in manufacturing output. Given the fragile condition of economy, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may announce another rate cut in its monetary policy announcement scheduled next week.

The six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) led by Governor Shaktikanta Das will meet between December 3 and December 5 to review the interest rates. Analysts expect the MPC slashing rates by 25 basis points (bps), along with a marginal cut in gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for FY20.

"For the fiscal year FY20, our real GDP forecast stands at to 5.2 per cent, with risks to further downside. After 135 basis rate cut delivered by the RBI since February 2019, we expect the RBI to cut rates by an additional 25 bps in December, taking the repo rate to 4.90 per cent," said analyst at Yes Securities.

According to analyst at Geojit Financial Services, the RBI will go for another rate cut in December.

"With the GDP growth slipping to 4.5 percent, it is expected that RBI will go for the next round of rate cut in December," said Deepthi Mary Mathew, Economist at Geojit Financial Services.

The central bank's decision to go for next round of rate cut could be in sync with the government's recent measures, including a reduction in the corporate tax and promotion of credit offtake to boost economic activity amid the ongoing slowdown.

In 2019, the RBI has reduced the repo rate for the fifth consecutive time, brining rate down to 5.15 per cent, the lowest since March 2010. In June, the apex bank reduced the repo rate by 25 bps, followed by 35 bps cut in August. In October, RBI brought it further down by another 25 bps to 5.15 per cent.

RBI Files Application To Begin Bankruptcy Proceedings Against Dewan Housing

The Reserve Bank of India has filed an application to begin bankruptcy proceedings against shadow lender Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL), it said Friday.

DHFL, once one of country's top shadow lenders, owes its creditors - which include mutual funds, banks, pension funds, insurance firms and retail investors - close to Rs 1 lakh crore ($13.93 billion).

The country's shadow banking sector, a key source of credit to millions, has been plagued by a credit crunch triggered by the collapse of lending major IL&FS last year.

Central bank said earlier this month it would begin bankruptcy proceedings against DHFL, and superseded the company's board, while appointing an administrator.

Swiss Firm To Develop India's Biggest Airport Near Delhi, Outbids Adani

The Zurich Airport International AG was on Friday selected as the concessionaire for developing the Jewar airport, billed to be the biggest airport in India upon completion, officials said.

The Switzerland-headquartered company made the highest per passenger bid for the airport, outbidding competitors like Delhi International Airport Limited, Adani Enterprises, and Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holdings Limited, the officials said.

Jewar Airport or the Noida International Greenfield Airport will come up in 5,000 hectare area when fully constructed and is estimated to cost Rs 29,560 crore, Nodal Officer for the Project, Shailendra Bhatia said.

"Zurich Airport International AG has made the highest bid for developing the Jewar airport and has been selected as the concessionaire for the airport," Mr Bhatia said.

A global tender was floated to hire a developer for the proposed airport on May 30 by the NIAL, an agency floated by the Uttar Pradesh government for managing the mega project in Gautam Buddh Nagar district.

The airport, the third in the national capital region after Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport and Ghaziabad's Hindon airport, is touted to have six to eight runways, the most in India, when fully built, according to officials.

The first phase of the airport would be spread over 1,334 hectare and cost Rs 4,588 crore as it is expected to be completed by 2023, the officials said.

Q2 GDP growth rate to be announced today; Modi govt's worst fear may come true

The GDP growth rate for Q2 FY20 will be announced today. After a downward slide in growth for six quarters straight, the Modi government that is on a damage control mode would want the GDP growth to stabilise for Q2 of FY20. However, as per analysts, the GDP growth is likely to hit yet another low.

Rating agencies India Ratings and ICRA expect the growth numbers to be 4.7 per cent. Kotak Economic Research that estimated GDP growth to be at 5.2 per cent earlier has slashed it to 4.7 per cent.

The last time India's growth rate fell below 5 per cent was in Q2 FY13. A further dip in GDP growth rate would mark a low of 26 quarters.

Weak domestic demand and sentiment, regulatory uncertainty and concerns about the health of the non-banking financial sector are some of the reasons fuelling this downward spiral.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in a written response to a question in Lok Sabha this month that despite the slowdown India is projected by the International Monetary Fund to be the fastest-growing G-20 nation in 2019-20.

However, India has already lost the tag of the world's fastest-growing economy to China. India posted a growth of 5.8 per cent in Q4 FY19, while China grew at over 6.4 per cent. In Q1 FY20, India grew at 5.01 per cent while China grew at 6.2 per cent. In Q2 FY20, China posted a growth rate of 6 per cent and India is expected to settle at 4.7 per cent.

While still ahead of the global growth rate of 3 per cent, India's recent GDP growth figures leave a lot to be desired.

India's swift growth is not only significant for the country but for the world economy too as India accounts for 7.7 per cent of the world GDP.

However, not all is lost. The IMF has estimated that India would regain the tag of the fastest growing economy by the end of 2020. India is expected to grow at double the pace of the world's growth rate, while China's growth is likely to be moderate.

As per IMF, while the world economy grows at 3.4 per cent in 2020, India is estimated to grow at 7 per cent and China at 5.8 per cent.

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