|The Indian government issued an executive order to make it easier for companies to buy land and eventually replace a law that has hindered manufacturing and constrained economic growth.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration on Dec. 28 promulgated the ordinance to spur infrastructure development in rural areas. It exempts at least five categories of land acquisition, including for industrial corridors, from rules that require the consent of at least 70 percent of potential sellers. The order needs approval in the next session of Parliament, which starts in February, if it’s to come into force permanently, according to PRS Legislative Research.
The measure is intended to boost growth in Asia’s third-largest economy from almost the slowest pace in a decade and accelerate Modi’s plan to urbanize the nation. Besides industrial corridors, categories exempted from existing land-acquisition rules include housing for the poor, rural infrastructure and defense.
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India’s land laws have bedeviled development for decades as consecutive governments courted votes from 800 million rural residents. Previous rules forced owners to sell land if doing so was deemed to be in the public interest.
Russian Banks Warm to Shariah Finance as Crisis Looms
Russian lenders are stepping up efforts to tap Islamic finance as international sanctions and a slump in oil prices push the world’s biggest energy exporter to the brink of a recession.
Vnesheconombank, Russia’s state development bank, is seeking advice from lenders in the Middle East on how to sell its first Islamic bonds, the RIA Novosti state-news service reported Dec. 16. Banks and companies are seeking Shariah financing after the nation’s currency weakened to an all-time low almost two weeks ago, according to the Russian Business Council in Dubai.
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The increased efforts underscore how the highest overnight lending rate since at least 2006 and U.S.-led sanctions linked to the conflict in Ukraine are putting a squeeze on banks including Gazprombank (OGZD) and VTB Bank OJSC. (VTBR) Lawmakers rushed through legislation on Dec. 23 allowing the Deposit Insurance Agency to buy stakes in banks before they face bankruptcy proceedings to keep the system stable.
The central bank is now considering legislation for Islamic finance following requests from lenders, Governor Elvira Nabiullina said on Nov. 26.
‘Loopholes’ in Military Rules Boost Borrower Costs, CFPB Says
A report of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau shows that loopholes in Military Lending Act rules are increasing costs for service members, the agency said in a statement.
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Gaps have allowed companies to offer high-cost loans to military families by skirting the 36 percent rate cap and other military-specific credit protections, according to the report.
The bureau said it included its findings in a comment the agency filed in support of a Defense Department proposal to broaden the scope of rules covering deposit advance products and other types of payday, auto title and installment loans.
Consumer Bureau Director Richard Cordray likened the current rules under the Military Lending Act to sending a soldier into battle with “a flak jacket but no helmet.”
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CSC to Pay $190 Million to Settle SEC Accounting Probe
Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC:US) reached a proposed settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over an accounting probe, agreeing to pay a penalty of $190 million and adjust its financial statements for three fiscal years.
CSC, as the company is known, said the “understanding” reached with SEC staff will result in a pretax charge of about $200 million this quarter, which ends Dec. 31. The company said it won’t admit or deny the allegations, and the SEC will file an administrative enforcement action alleging violations of securities laws provisions including anti-fraud and reporting.
The accounting probe, started in January 2011, initially involved the former managed-services division and focused on the Nordic region. While the SEC investigation was under way, CSC’s auditors expanded their own internal investigation to include operations in Australia and a contract with the U.K.’s National Health Service.
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CSC also said yesterday that it agreed to have an independent consultant review its compliance policies.
Rich Adamonis, a spokesman for CSC, said the company has reached an agreement in principle with the SEC and declined to comment beyond the filing. Judy Burns, a spokeswoman for the SEC, also declined to comment.
CSC runs data centers for the U.S. government and also has a separate commercial business for consumer, financial, defense and health-care clients.
Tanzania Capital Market Regulator Plans Commodity Exchange
Tanzania may start trading agricultural products through a commodity exchange planned for the first quarter of 2015, Capital Markets and Securities Authority Chief Executive Officer Nasama Masinda said in Dar es Salaam.
The regulator has already established a company for that purpose, the Tanzania Mercantile Exchange, and is working on amendments to regulations.