Flying Abroad? No Departure Cards Required From July 1

New Delhi: Indians flying abroad will not be required to fill departure cards from next month. However, those going out of the country via rail, seaport and land immigration checkposts will have to fill the embarkation card. “It has been decided to discontinue the practice of filling up of the departure card by Indians at all international airports with effect from July 1, 2017,” an order issued by the Union home ministry said. The move is aimed at ensuring hassle-free movement of Indians going abroad.

At present, those going abroad need to fill in details such as name, date of birth, passport number, address in India, flight number and date of boarding in the departure card.

“The same information (about the passengers) is available in the system from other sources,” the home ministry order said, citing reasons behind its move.

The need for Indians to fill such cards on their arrival in India has already been done away with.

The decision will help reducing the time required to complete immigration related formalities by passengers and also enable airports and authorities concerned to cater to a larger number of people.

The need for Indians to fill such cards on their arrival in India has already been done away with.

Authorities here have been taking a number of steps to help both international and domestic passengers.

The customs department had last year done away with the need for Indian passengers to fill up a declaration form while coming to India if they were not carrying dutiable goods.

Those carrying prohibited and dutiable goods are required to fill up an ‘Indian Customs Declaration Form’, earlier mandatory for all passengers entering the country.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), mandated to secure civil airports in the country, has also started doing away with the practice of tagging and stamping domestic passengers’ hand baggage.

It has ended at Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad, some of the country’s busiest airports.

 

Government Sells Rs. 4,000 Crore Stake In Larsen & Toubro

Mumbai: India sold a 2.5 percent stake in engineering and construction group Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T) on Wednesday, raising more than Rs. 4,000 crore ($619.27 million) that will help the government meet its annual fiscal deficit target.

The stake, held by the state-owned Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI), was sold through block deals in stock markets, said Neeraj Gupta, the top bureaucrat looking after government stake sales, confirming earlier media reports.

SUUTI owned a 6.68 percent stake in L&T as of the end of March.

SUUTI owned a 6.68 percent stake in L&T as of the end of March.

India is aiming to raise Rs. 72,500 crore through the sale of partial government stakes in state-run and private firms during the year to March 2018, which will contribute to meeting the government’s fiscal deficit target of 3.2 percent of gross domestic product.

L&T shares were up 0.6 percent at 0800 GMT, outperforming a 0.4 percent fall in the broader NSE index.

($1 = Rs. 64.5925)

 

Government Notifies 18 Sections, 2 Rules For GST

New Delhi: Days ahead of the rollout of Goods and Service Tax), the government today notified sections in the GST Act dealing with mandatory registration of current indirect tax payers in the new regime.

As many as 18 sections relating to registration of current central excise, service tax and VAT payers with the GST-Network (GSTN) as well as transitional provisions were notified today.

As a precursor to GST, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has also notified two rules — registration and composition levy.

GST is to be rolled out from July 1.

All the notifications would be effective from June 22.

GST, which is to be rolled out from July 1, will unify over a dozen central and state levies into one and all those currently paying such taxes need to migrate to the new system.

Every business carrying out a taxable supply of goods or services with turnover exceeding the threshold limit of Rs. 20 lakh will be required to register.

GST registration would allow for seamless input tax credit.

The CBEC has also notified ‘www.gst.gov.in’ as the common ‘Goods and Services Tax Electronic Portal’.

As many as 65 lakh out of the 80 lakh taxpayers have already migrated from various platforms to GST.

All of these businesses will be assigned a unique Goods and Services Tax Identification Number.

The Sections in the Central GST (CGST) Act notified provide for all suppliers, anyone making any inter-sate taxable supply and every existing licence holder and business entity, to register for GST.

Input service distributor, e-commerce operator and person supplying online information and data base access or retrieval service are also required to register.

The provision exempts agriculturist from registration to “the extent of supply of produce out of cultivation of land”.

It also exempts “any person engaged exclusively in the business of supplying goods or services or both that are not liable to tax or wholly exempt from tax”.

The notified sections provide that a person who occasionally supplies goods and/or services in a territory where GST is applicable but he does not have a fixed place of business, would be treated as a casual taxable person.

A person with multiple business verticals in a state may obtain a separate registration for each business vertical.

PAN is mandatory for GST registration except for a non-resident person who can get GST registration on the basis of certain other documents.

 

NITI Aayog Clears Rs. 18,000 Crore Project To Increase Train Speeds

New Delhi: The ambitious Rs. 18,000 crore project for increasing train speeds on the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah rail corridors has got the Niti Aayog’s approval, paving the way for being put up for Cabinet clearance.

The mega project is meant to bring about a paradigm shift in rail operations enabling trains to run at 160 km per hour on the busiest routes on the Indian railway network.

Aiming at reducing travel time between the three metropolises, the project envisages fencing off the entire 3,000 kms on both routes, upgradation of signalling system, elimination of all level crossings and installing train protection warning system (TPWS), among other works to make trains run at an increased speed of 160 kmh.

Railways to submit proposal for cabinet clearance after getting it approved by expanded railway board.

“Any project more than Rs. 1,000 crore in worth will have to get the Niti Aayog clearance. So now after getting the Niti Aayog clearance yesterday, the proposal will now be examined by the expanded railway board,” said a senior railway ministry official involved with the project.

The expanded railway board is comprised of senior representatives from department of expenditure, department of programme implementation and Niti Aayog, besides the board members.

The Railways will submit the proposal for cabinet clearance after getting the proposal approved by the expanded railway board.

The 1,483-km long New Delhi-Mumbai rail route will also include the Baroda-Ahmedabad sector, and is estimated to cost Rs. 11,189 crore.

The 1,525-km long New Delhi-Howrah route, which also includes the Kanpur-Lucknow section, is estimated to cost Rs. 6,974 crore.

The work on both sections will be given to a single agency through global bidding for effective implementation of the project.

 

Infosys Veterans Launch New Age Solution For GST Regime

Bengaluru: Infosys veterans on Tuesday launched GSTSTAR, a comprehensive solution catering to Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime needs of businesses, professionals and large organisations.

“It caters to the GST needs of small and big enterprises. Minimum fee will be Rs. 500 per month for the standard on cloud version and the on-premise customisable deployment for larger enterprises may range from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 40 lakh of a one-time cost based on the size of the organisation,” GSTSTAR co-founder Shailesh Agrawal told reporters here.

“Further, professionals may avail it free of cost for a limited period,” Agrawal added.

Infosys Veterans Launch New Age Solution For GST Regime

Based out of Bengaluru and founded by Infosys veterans Agrawal and Balaji G.S. Rao, GSTSTAR offers products and services for GST compliance and will help business transition to GST era smoothly.

“The company is backed with seed funding of $1 million (Rs. 6.4 crore) by software industry leaders and ex-Infosys directors T.V. Mohandas Pai and V. Balakrishnan among others,” Agrawal said.

He said the major chunk of the Rs. 6.4 crore seed fund was received in the last few months.

“The major chunk of the investment is from Pai and Balakrishnan,” Agrawal said.

With the GST regime coming into effect from July 1, the existing 80 lakh tax payer entities that are under the tax umbrella are expected to grow to 3.5 crore.

“We expect to capture 10 per cent of Rs. 3,600 crore market in the country by next year,” he said.

The GSTSTAR solution is offered both as a standard cloud based self-subscription version and full-scale enterprise version.

“The GST is bound to grow the GDP alongside enhancing the ease of doing business in India and GSTSTAR is poised to help not only big companies but small and mid-size businesses steer into GST era seamlessly,” GSTSAT investor mentor V. Balakrishnan said.

Services and utilities of GSTSTAR are designed to provide businesses with Invoice management, tax calculator, harmonized system of nomenclature (HSN), service account code (SAC) lookup and goods and services taxpayer identification number (GSTIN) collector utility to ease the compliance processes of enterprises.

“This solution is one technology that various industries can rely upon as it is simple, reliable and provides services to help businesses of all sizes,” GSTSTAR co-founder Balaji G.S. Rao added.

 

Rajdhani, Shatabdi Trains Set For Makeover Under ‘Operation Swarn’

New Delhi: They are the premium trains in India. Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express were started to move people who could afford to pay more for a somewhat luxurious travel.

But after years of service, the trains have lost their sheen. The service has deteriorated, the cleanliness is missing, quality of food has suffered.

After years of complaints by the travelling public, the premium trains are now set for a makeover. The Railway Ministry is to launch “Operation Swarn” to improve services in Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express trains.

But after years of service, the premium trains Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express have lost their sheen.

In the first phase, the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express and Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express have been selected for upgradation. Work will start from September 26. More trains will be identified in a phased manner.

A senior Railway Ministry official, who did not wish to be named, told IANS: “The railways have decided to launch Operation Swarn (or ‘gold’) to refurbish its services after several complaints by passengers like delay in train arrival, sanitation and quality of food.”

Under the project, the Indian Railways will focus attention on 10 key areas — punctuality, cleanliness, linen, coach interiors, toilets, catering, staff behaviour, security, entertainment, housekeeping and regular feedback.

The Ministry official also said the plan will be upgraded in future with services like Wi-Fi, infotainment screens (that were first provided in Tejas Express) and coffee vending machines.

The modified trains will also have improved coach interiors, better furnishing and new comfortable seats.

The official said an amount of Rs. 50 lakh will be allotted to each Rajdhani and Shatabdi train on various routes for the revamp. To monitor the work, two committees will be formed.

In May, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu launched the first high-speed premium train Tejas Express between Mumbai and Karnali in Goa.

The premium train was loaded with features like LCD screen on every seat, improved interiors, coffee vending machines, automatic doors, fire repression system, bio-vacuum toilets, attendant call buttons, reading LED lights, and others. Tejas Express also offers free Wi-FI connectivity.

The train was designed to travel at 200 kmph but keeping in view the track conditions in the Konkan region, the speed was limited to 130 kmph.

Earlier this year, the railways launched a new series of fully air-conditioned express trains like Humsafar, Mahamana and Gatimaan for overnight travel.

Humsafar Express is equipped with features like CCTV cameras, coffee vending machines, fire and smoke detection systems, new interiors with comfortable seats.

The Mahamana Express has ergonomically designed ladders for climbing to upper berths, snack tables for side berths, windows with powered venetian blinds and roller blinds, LED lights as berth indicators, LED reading lights, fire extinguishers in all coaches and an electrically operated chimney in the pantry car.

 

GST To Lower Overall Tax Burden Over Time, Says RBI Governor

Mumbai: Reserve Bank governor Urjit Patel today said the soon-to-be implemented goods and services tax (GST) will not only create a national market but will also broaden the tax base which in turn will lower the overall taxes in the long-term.

“The prudent point is that GST itself is part of the digitisation revolution, which along with the reforms on the information tax side in terms of the processes and operations, have the potential to broaden the tax base considerably,” Patel told an event organised by industry lobby IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry here today.

The governor also said GST is a precursor to a low tax regime in the country at a later stage.

Urjit Patel said GST will also reduce many inefficiencies within the states while moving goods.

With a four-rate structure, GST will come into force from the midnight of June 30. Except J&K, all the states have passed enabling laws for its implementation.

He said the broadening of tax base is an important outcome of the new uniform taxation regime and other initiatives on e-payments and digitisation.

Besides creation of a national market, GST will also reduce many inefficiencies within the states while moving goods from within a state and also across the country, the governor said.

Talking about fintech, he said with the emergence of technology-enabled innovation in financial services there will both opportunities and risks to financial sector stability which need to be addressed by policy makers, regulators and supervisors, as many innovations have not been tested through a full financial cycle.

“You really come to know what works and what doesn’t when you go through a full cycle. The decision taken at an early stage can set important precedence on what is the right time and the wrong time. Therefore, caution in this respect is not unwarranted especially when you consider that the world is yet to recover even from the 2008 global financial crisis,” he said.

Patel said even the country’s fintech industry has almost tripled its size since 2013 and the value of transactions has touched USD 30 billion already.

Patel said the central bank has taken several steps such as the licencing payment banks, Bharat Bill Payment System and launch of UPI, IMPS, among others to facilitate innovations, payment systems and digital banking.

The RBI has also issued a discussion paper on peer-to-peer lending and will be soon issuing guidelines on it.

“We had to wait for one or two clearances in this area before we move forward and we have those clearances now,” Patel said.

He also said enough focus or publicity has not been given to IndiaStack, which is a set of APIs that allows governments, businesses, start-ups and developers to utilise a unique digital infrastructure to resolve problems towards presence-less, paperless, and cashless services delivery.

The APIs which are part of IndiaStack are the UPI, the Aadhaar authentication, Aadhaar e-kyc, digital locker, digital user.

“IndiaStack is a game-changer in our macro fundamentals as financialisation of our savings continues. The most important and durable implication of this is going to be an
increase in financial savings compared to where we are now,” he said.

Patel said IndiaStack can also help improve growth rates in the future and its full implication will come in short to medium-term.

 

RBI Move On Insolvency Proceedings Credit Positive: Moody’s

New Delhi: Moody’s Investors Service on Monday said the initiation of insolvency proceedings on 12 large loan defaulters is credit positive for Indian banks as it will improve their overall asset quality.

The Reserve Bank last week said it has identified 12 large loan defaulters who account for 25 per cent of the total NPAs or bad loans in the banking sector and will be referred to the banks concerned for filing insolvency proceedings.

These cases will be accorded priority by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

RBI Move On Insolvency Proceedings Credit Positive: Moody's

“This is credit positive for India’s banks because any meaningful resolution under this plan can help improve their overall asset quality. Additionally, it also will set a precedent for resolving non-performing loans from smaller borrowers,” Moody’s said in a report.

The directive will negatively affect banks’ profitability over the next year if they need to take large write-downs relative to their existing loan-loss reserves for those assets, it said.

“This also will accentuate the capital needs of weaker public sector banks, which may require a large capital infusion from the Indian government,” it said.

Moody’s estimated that state-owned banks will need up to Rs. 95,000 crore of equity capital through 2019.

The capital requirement is much higher than Rs. 20,000 crore budgeted by the government towards capital infusion until March 2019. Under the Indradhanush plan for bank recapitalisation, government is infusing Rs. 70,000 crore in PSU banks beginning 2015.

RBI has also asked banks to also review other NPAs and finalise a resolution plan over the next six months.

“Given the strict timelines to resolve a case under the IBC within a maximum period of 270 days, after which a company will be automatically liquidated, we expect that this directive will significantly expedite the resolution process and will help in loan recoveries,” Moody’s said.

The US-based credit rating agency estimates that some of these 12 accounts relate to borrowers in the steel, power and other infrastructure sectors such as engineering, procurement and construction contractors.

“Indian banks’ asset quality has significantly deteriorated over the years, although the pace of deterioration has somewhat moderated in recent quarters,” Moody’s said.

 

RBI Governor Cited ‘High Uncertainty’ On Inflation For June 7 Policy Review

Mumbai: Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel cited “high uncertainty” on inflation while holding the key interest rate for a fourth successive policy review, according to minutes of the June 7 meeting of Monetary Policy Committee released on Wednesday. It was the first time that a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member had voted against the majority decision. At its second bi-monthly monetary policy review of the fiscal year on June 7, the RBI maintained status quo on its repo rate, or short-term rate for lending to commercial banks, at 6.25 per cent. In doing so, the policy statement said the six-member MPC was guided by the risks to inflation.

“As the year progresses, underlying inflation pressures, especially input costs, wages and imported inflation, will have to be closely and continuously monitored,” Mr Patel said, as per minutes of the the MPC meeting.

“The risk of fiscal slippages, which, by and large, can entail inflationary spillovers, has risen with the announcements of large farm loan waivers,” he said.
“At the current juncture, global political and financial risks materialising into imported inflation and the disbursement of allowances under the 7th central pay commission’s award are upside risks,” he added.

RBI Governor Urjit Patel argued for avoiding premature policy action

The RBI governor argued for avoiding premature policy action.

“Considering the high uncertainty clouding the near-term inflation outlook, there is a need to avoid premature policy action at this stage. I, therefore, vote for holding the policy repo rate at the current level of 6.25 per cent and maintaining the neutral stance of monetary policy,” Mr Patel said.

“Premature action at this stage risks disruptive policy reversals later and the loss of credibility.”

“The current state of the economy underscores the need to revive private investment, restore banking sector health and remove infrastructural bottlenecks. Monetary policy can play a more effective role only when these factors are in place,” he added.

Instead, the sole dissenting external member and IIM-Ahmedabad faculty Ravindra Dholakia voted for a minimum a 50 basis point cut in the repo rate.

According to the minutes, Mr Dholakia said there were several noteworthy recent developments on the prices and output fronts that warrant a decisive policy action by the MPC.

“In my opinion, this is the most opportune time for the MPC to effect a major cut of 50 basis points in the policy rate to bring it down from 6.25 per cent to 5.75 per cent,” he said.

“All in all, the prevailing inflation and output conditions and prospects are such that there is enough space for a substantial rate cut of 50 basis points if not more,” he added.

Meanwhile, India’s annual retail inflation eased to a record low of 2.18 per cent in May on lower food prices. The wholesale price index (WPI), with the revised base year of 2011-12, also decelerated further in May 2017 to 2.17 per cent from 3.85 per cent in April as food prices eased.

 

Mutual Fund Managers Continue To Snap Up Banking Shares

New Delhi: Mutual fund managers continued to be bullish on bank shares, with their allocation to the sector reaching an all time-high of over Rs. 1.44 lakh crore at the end of May, mainly due to cheaper valuations. In comparison, the figure was Rs. 90,014 crore at the end of May 2016.

Banking continues to be the most preferred sector with the fund managers as they cannot afford to take a bearish call on banking stocks, given the high weightage attached to the index.

“MFs have been adding exposure to the financial sector, especially banking stocks because of lower valuations due to price corrections and growth in corporate lending. Besides, bank’s NPA (non-performing asset) problem is getting sorted out,” said Kaustubh Belapurkar, Director Manager Research, Morningstar Investment Adviser.

Banking continues to be the most preferred sector with the fund managers

Further, experts expect that bank stocks would continue to be in focus in coming months as markets regulator Sebi yesterday eased its takeover norms for restructuring listed companies with stressed assets.

The relaxation, which will exempt investors from making a mandatory open offer subject to shareholders’ nod and some other conditions.

Sebi’s decision on restructuring in stressed firms comes against the backdrop of the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stepping up efforts to tackle the menace of bad loans, amounting to more than Rs. 8 lakh crore. Overall, the deployment of equity funds in bank stocks stood at Rs. 1,43,704 crore at the end of May 2017, compared to previous high of Rs. 1,34,596 crore in the preceding month, latest data available with Sebi showed.

Mutual funds are investment vehicles made up of a pool of funds collected from a large number of investors. They invest in stocks, bonds, money market instruments and similar assets.