Business en Sat Mar 06 10:44:14 IST 2021 validation-of-guiding-principles-ratan-tata-responds-to-sc-verdict-mistry-case <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Elated by the Supreme Court judgement in favour of Tata Sons in the Cyrus Mistry case, group chairman Ratan Tata on Friday welcomed the apex court order that set aside an NCLAT order restoring Cyrus Mistry as the executive chairman of the conglomerate. "It is not an issue of winning or losing. After relentless attacks on my integrity and the ethical conduct of the group, the judgement upholding all the appeals of Tata Sons is a validation of the values and ethics that have always been the guiding principles of the group. It reinforces the fairness and justice displayed by our judiciary," Tata posted in a statement on Twitter.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In its judgement earlier in the day, the court said, "All the questions of law are liable to be answered in favour of the appellants Tata Group and the appeals filed by the Tata Group are liable to be allowed and those by Shapoorji Pallonji Group are liable to be dismissed."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On December 17 last year, Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) Group had told the top court that removal of Mistry as the chairman of Tata Sons in a board meeting held in October 2016 was akin to a blood sport and ambush and was in complete violation of principles of corporate governance and pervasive violation of Articles of Association in the process.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Tata Group had vehemently opposed the allegations and said there was no wrongdoing and the board was well within its right to remove Mistry as the chairman.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The apex court had on January 10 last year granted relief to the Tata group by staying the NCLAT order by which Mistry was restored as the executive chairman of the conglomerate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mistry had succeeded Ratan Tata as chairman of the Tata Sons in 2012 but was ousted four years later.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Mar 26 13:33:13 IST 2021 why-brands-like-h-m-and-adidas-are-facing-backlash-in-china <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Swedish brand H&amp;M came under fire on social media after it expressed concern over labour conditions in Xinjiang. China’s ruling Communist Party, retaliating for sanctions imposed over it by Western nations, is lashing out other brands like Nike and Adidas for joining H&amp;M in expressing concern over labour in Xinjiang.<br> <br> China has long been under the scanner, over allegations of human rights violations in camps where Uighur Muslims are being held in the Xinjiang province. The US has imposed sanctions on China for the same. The Chinese government has called on these brands to stop tainting China’s name over comments made with regards to Xinjiang. In the statement, H&amp;M said, it was “deeply concerned by reports from civil society organisations and media that include accusations of forced labour,” in Xinjiang, a cotton-producing region. Reuters reported that the statement was from last year. this led users of Weibo— China’s Twitter-like platform to lash out against the brand. The brand was also removed from the e-commerce site Alibaba. China has maintained that the detention camps are vocational centres.<br> <br> About 30 Chinese celebrities have cut ties with H&amp;M, Nike and Adidas over the brands expressing concerns over camps detaining Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, being forced to produce cotton. Brands like Burberry and New Balance have also voiced concern about forced labour in Xinjiang.<br> <br> European Union, Britain and Canada, too, have imposed sanctions on the officials. H&amp;M have been removed from store locator maps.<br> <br> The Better Cotton Initiative also faced backlash from the internet after the group said it was suspending its approval of cotton sourced from Xinjiang for the 2020-2021 season, citing human rights concerns.<br> <br> China's foreign ministry, spokeswoman Hua Chunying, when asked about H&amp;M, held up a photograph of Black Americans picking cotton.<br> <br> “This was in the US when Black slaves were forced to pick cotton in the fields,” she said.<br> <br> She then held up a second photograph of cotton fields in Xinjiang.<br> <br> The brands are facing setbacks at all levels. The logo of Nike, who sponsors Chinese Super League teams and their uniforms did not have Nike logo on them. Jackson Lee, the face of Adidas in China, announced on Thursday that he had cut all cooperation with the sportswear company.<br> <br> Fri Mar 26 12:36:05 IST 2021 sebi-eases-listing-rules-for-start-ups-makes-delisting-process-transparent <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Markets regulator Sebi relaxed listing rules for start-ups, revamped delisting rules, and eased norms for re-classification of a promoter as a public shareholder.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In its meeting, Sebi's board has approved measures for reporting of sustainability issues by companies and taken steps to strengthen corporate governance practices and disclosure requirements by listed firms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition, the board amended norms pertaining to alternative investment funds (AIFs) and made it mandatory for portfolio managers to obtain prior approval of the regulator for change in control, Sebi said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To address information asymmetry among shareholders, Sebi decided that listed firms should make available audio and video recordings of analyst and investor meet on their websites as well as stock exchanges within 24 hours or before the next trading day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, written transcripts of such conference calls should be made available on websites of listed companies and respective stock exchanges within five working days after such calls.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It approved several amendments to the Sebi (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Under the amendment, requirement for formulation of dividend distribution policy by the existing top-500 listed companies has been extended to the top-1,000 listed companies on the basis of market capitalisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the case of board meetings held for more than one day, Sebi said financial results must be disclosed by the listed entities within 30 minutes of end of the board meeting for the day on which the financial results are considered.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The requirement to constitute the risk management committee (RMC) has been extended to the top-1,000 listed entities by market capitalisation from the existing top-500 listed entities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To make the delisting process more transparent and efficient, Sebi said the committee of independent directors will be required to provide their "reasoned recommendations on the proposal for delisting".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Timelines for completion of various activities forming part of delisting process have been introduced or revised to make the process more efficient, Sebi said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Promoter or acquirer will be required to disclose their intention to delist the company by making an initial public announcement. Besides, promoter or acquirer will be permitted to specify an indicative price for delisting which should not be less than the floor price.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Further, promoter will be bound to accept the price discovered through reverse book building if the same is equal to the floor price or indicative price. They will be bound to accept.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition, role of merchant banker involved in the delisting process has been elaborated. With regard to reclassification of promoter, Sebi rationalised the existing framework pertaining to reclassification of promoter and promoter group entities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This includes exemption from the requirement of seeking approval of shareholders in cases where the promoter seeking reclassification holds shareholding of less than 1 per cent, subject to the promoter not being in control.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition, relaxation has been granted for few procedural requirements related to reclassification such as obtaining request from promoter, approval from the board and shareholders in case of open offer under Sebi Takeover Regulations and scheme of arrangement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It has also been decided to reduce the time gap between the date of board meeting and shareholders' meeting for consideration of reclassification request, to a minimum of one month and a maximum of three months from the existing requirement of minimum period of three months and maximum six months.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To make the Innovators Growth Platform (IGP) more accessible to companies in view of the evolving start-up ecosystem, Sebi decided relax various norms, including reducing holding period for pre-issue capital and allowing discretionary allotment to eligible investors in order to boost listing of such firms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other proposals approved include easing delisting requirements and relaxation in guidelines for migrating to main board. Sebi has decided to reduce the period of holding of 25 per cent of pre-issue capital of the issuer company by eligible investors to one year from the current requirement of two years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The regulator cleared proposals to provide a definition of 'start-up' as specified by the government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It also removed the list of restricted activities or sectors from the definition of venture capital undertaking to provide flexibility to venture capital funds registered under Category I Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) in making investments.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Further, it permitted AIFs, including funds of AIFs, to simultaneously invest in units of other AIFs and directly in the securities of investee companies subject to certain conditions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, Sebi decided a new format for business responsibility and sustainability reporting, covering environmental, social and governance perspectives, which will be applicable to the top-1,000 listed entities by market capitalisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The move is expected to bring in greater transparency and enable market participants to identify and assess sustainability-related risks and opportunities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This new report will be called the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) and will replace the existing Business Responsibility Report (BRR).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The BRSR will be applicable to the top 1,000 listed entities by market capitalization, for reporting on a voluntary basis for financial year 2021-22 and on a mandatory basis from financial year 2022-23.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Further, Sebi budget for the financial year 2021-22 was approved by its board.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Mar 26 12:19:56 IST 2021 sc-ruling-a-relief-for-tatas-but-heres-why-the-battle-is-far-from-over <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>December 18, 2019 was a day that sent shockwaves through the corridors of the Bombay House, the headquarters of Tata Group. The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) had just ruled that the action Tata Sons had taken against Cyrus Mistry in 2016 was illegal and he would have to be reinstated as the chairman of the salt to software conglomerate. March 26, 2021 will be a day that Ratan Tata and the top brass of Tata Group can heave a sigh of relief.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Supreme Court on Friday set aside that NCLAT order; all petitions of the Tatas were allowed while those of the Mistry camp dismissed by the three-judge bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde. "We find all the questions of law are liable to be answered in favour of the appellants, Tata Group and appeals by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group are liable to be dismissed," the court said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Mistrys have had a relationship with the Tatas since the 1960s. The Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) group currently holds 18.4 per cent stake in Tata Sons. In 2012, Cyrus Mistry was even appointed the chairman of Tata Sons. However, four years later in 2016, he was unceremoniously sacked and a bitter battle has followed between the two sides since.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2017, Mistry filed a case alleging oppression and mismanagement in Tata Sons. The petition was dismissed by the&nbsp; National Company Law Tribunal, after which Mistry appealed with the NCLAT, which overturned the NCLT judgement. Both the sides then went to the Supreme Court.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Friday’s judgement in favour of the Tatas should ideally bring to an end one of the biggest battles in the history of corporate India. It will also allow Tata Sons to go private, a move that was opposed by the SP Group.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Appearing for Tata Sons, Rajan Karanjawala, managing partner of Karanjawala &amp; Co, told a TV channel that it was a complete victory and “puts a long litigation to rest.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ratan Tata, too, said the verdict reinforced the fairness and justice displayed by the judiciary. “After relentless attacks on my integrity and the ethical conduct of the group, the judgement upholding all the appeals of Tata Sons is a validation of the values and ethics that have always been the guiding principles of the group,” said Tata.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The NCLAT, by reinstating Mistry as the chairman, had held the appointment of N. Chandrasekaran as the new chairman illegal, too. So, Friday’s Supreme Court verdict should be a big relief for Chandrasekaran as well, and should clear the clouds of uncertainty, if any.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By staying the NCLAT order, the Supreme Court has given Tata Group a big relief and dealt the SP Group a major blow, said Shriram Subramanian, the founder and MD of InGovern, a corporate governance firm. However, this judgement is not bringing the curtains down on the battle, he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“By allowing Tatas and Mistry to work out their separation terms, but not commenting on the valuation terms, the Supreme Court has again gone in favour of the Tatas as the biggest bone of contention will be the valuation,” he said.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Mistry family, which is the largest minority shareholder in Tata Sons, had already expressed interest of exiting the group by selling their 18.4 per cent shareholding. However, there are huge differences over the valuation of the stake.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In October 2020, the SP Group had submitted a plan in the Supreme Court, to exit Tata Sons, but sought shares in listed companies of Tata Group as a settlement. The SP group felt their shares were worth Rs 1.75 lakh crore, but the Tatas feel their valuation is around Rs 70,000-80,000 crore only.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the last few months, as the stock prices have surged, the valuation of the Mistry family stake would have also gone up. It is still not sure how the two sides will come to an agreement over this valuation, which will be key to SP Group, given its financial woes.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the SP Group is in talks with lenders for a debt recast. It is also, according to reports, looking to raise funds by selling stakes in some of its companies, including Sterling and Wilson Solar.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SP Group had last year tried to raise funds by pledging some of the shares it held in Tata Sons. However, that was objected to by the Tatas who had moved the Supreme Court seeking to block the SP Group’s plans.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This prompted the SP Group to formally seek to end their relationship. “A selective reduction of capital by extinguishing shares of Tata Sons held by minority shareholders by swapping them with shares of listed companies (say Tata Consultancy Services and others) would be a simple solution to provide liquidity to the Tata companies and fair value compensation for the SP Group,” the Mistrys told the court in October.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They have also sought a share of the Tata brand value. Getting the two sides to agree on the valuations and finding an amicable exit for the Mistrys from Tata Group is now a battle looming ahead.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri Mar 26 15:50:02 IST 2021 former-rbi-deputy-governor-kc-chakrabarty-passes-away <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Former Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank K.C. Chakrabarty passed away following a heart attack on Friday. He was 68.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chakrabarty, a commercial banker-turned-central banker, died at his home in suburban Chembur, banking industry sources said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After his stint at state-run lenders like Bank of Baroda, Indian Bank and Punjab National Bank, the outspoken Chakrabarty had joined the RBI as a DG in 2009 and resigned in 2014, three months before his term ended.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chakrabarty had taught at the Banaras Hindu University before entering commercial banking.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At RBI, he handled a variety of departments including banking regulation and supervision as the DG.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Following reports of an "RBI official" putting question marks over policy efficacy in tackling inflation, he was stripped of many responsibilities by the then Governor D. Subbarao, and was left with only the Rajbhasha Department. Subsequently, his responsibilities were restored.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At RBI, he had a reputation for sharp wit, humour and quick retorts. He frequently critiqued his former commercial banking colleagues for blaming rise in dud loans as 'system-generated NPAs', insisted on financial inclusion targets and had a very public spat with former SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri over interest on cash reserve ratio (CRR).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After his resignation, he had shifted base to London, where he was posted earlier in his career while working for Bank of Baroda.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2018, his name cropped up as a suspect in two cases investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), including one related to the Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher Airlines. He was also prevented from flying out to London because of a lookout circular against him.&nbsp;</p> Fri Mar 26 11:19:25 IST 2021 income-loss-top-concern-for-rural-communities-post-covid-19-lock <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Loss of income and livelihood are among the top concerns for rural communities struggling to cope with the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, according to a new study conducted across 10 states.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study conducted by the Indian School of Development Management (ISDM) and IIMPACT, an NGO, is based on a survey conducted in over 4800 household in over 900 villages in Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Jharkhand.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the study titled &quot;Emerging Challenges in the post-COVID context&quot;, the loss of income and livelihoods, availability of food and drinking water, and impact on children's education have emerged as the top immediate concerns of communities in Rural India during the pandemic and lockdown phase of 2020.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;While only 17 per cent could retain their job or primary source of income during the lockdown, 96 per cent of households surveyed have not been able to build resilience for sustenance beyond 4 months. At least 15 per cent of the households identified reverse migration as one of the key issues that are likely to disrupt the socio-economic fabric,&quot; the study said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Out of every 10 households, four households were unable to sustain themselves even for a month without external support and almost every 3rd graduate from the rural communities in these states worked as domestic help, daily wage labour/migrant labour,&quot; it added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study has recommended policy instruments be designed that address challenges associated with increased informalisation and precarity of jobs across skill categories in rural India while pressing for the need to revisit the universal employment guarantee scheme to account for variable skill levels and capabilities of the rural population given the current context of education and skill development initiatives.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Aruna Pandey, Director- Research and Body of Knowledge, ISDM, said &quot;while the universal employment guarantee scheme and the Skill India initiatives have been game-changers in India's story of enabling employment opportunities for its young population, there is an immanent need to integrate such efforts with appropriate policy instruments that will bridge the deep schism and irregularities between the availability of appropriate employment opportunities and level of education of young people in rural India&quot;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Data from the report indicates that almost every third graduate from rural communities interviewed, worked as domestic help or daily wage labour, leading to under-utilisation of their skills and capabilities and exposing them to tangible vulnerabilities associated with the informality of such jobs,&quot; Pandey said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of coronavirus. Throwing economic activities out of gear, the lockdown rendered many homeless and out of money, beginning an exodus of migrants to their home states.</p> Fri Mar 26 11:27:25 IST 2021 sc-refuses-stay-on-sale-of-fresh-electoral-bonds-ahead-of-assembly-elections <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the sale of a fresh set of electoral bonds from April 1, ahead of state assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Union Territory of Puducherry. "...In light of the scheme introduced in 2018 and the fact they have been released in 2018, 2019, and 2020 without impediment, we do not see any reason to stay the issuance at this stage," a bench, headed by CJI S.A. Bobde and comprising justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, stated in the order.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The order was on an application filed by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking an interim direction to bar the sale of electoral bonds. The bench had, on Wednesday, reserved the order that sought to seek a direction to the Centre and others not to open any further window for sale of electoral bonds ahead of the upcoming assembly elections and also during the pendency of a PIL pertaining to funding of political parties and alleged lack of transparency in their accounts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the hearing, the top court said suppose a political party wants to encash electoral bonds and finance a protest, what is the government's control on how this fund is put to use.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On January 20 last year, the apex court had refused to grant interim stay on the 2018 Electoral Bonds Scheme and sought responses of the Centre and the Election Commission on an interim application by the NGO seeking stay on the scheme.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Mar 26 12:10:35 IST 2021 sc-sets-aside-nclat-order-on-mistrys-reinstatement-in-win-for-tata-sons <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Bringing clarity, and perhaps an end to the acrimony that rattled corporate India, the Supreme Court on Friday morning ordered in favour of Tata Sons in the Mistry case. Chief Justice S.A. Bobde ordered that all questions were to be answered in favour of Tata Sons, even while the plea of Pallonji Group will be dismissed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This essentially is a shot in the arm for Ratan Tata and business continuity at the Tata group, as it essentially indicates that the Supreme Court refused to adjudicate on the terms of the two groups and their desired separation (SP group had indicated their eagerness to give up their shares in the Tata empire).&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The appeal at the apex court had followed the sudden ouster of Cyrus Mistry as the executive chairman of the Tata Group back in 2016, just about four years after he took over from Ratan Tata as the head of the iconic steel-to-cars conglomerate. This immediately led to a protracted legal tussle between Tata Sons as well as the Pallonji Mistry, the two biggest shareholders. The National Company Law Appelate Tribunal ordered in 2019 that Cyrus Mistry be re-instated, leading to appeals in the Supreme Court by both parties.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Friday’s order, the SC set aside the NCLAT order of December 2019 which ordered the reinstatement of Cyrus Mistry as Chairman of Tata group. The hearings had concluded in December 2020 itself. “At this stage, we cannot adjudicate on fair compensation for Pallonji group for their shareholding,” the court said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We leave it open for parties to decide between themselves as under Article 75,” the court said. Tata stocks surged at the BSE as news of the SC decision trickled out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri Mar 26 12:01:24 IST 2021 rising-temperature-reduces-labour-productivity-says-study <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Too hot to work? Now we have research behind us for those days when we blame the summer heat for low work output. And we can blame climate change if our productivity has reduced, since that is causing hotter days every year.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A multi institute research, comprising University of Chicago, Indian Statistical Institute and Delhi School of Economics and University of North Carolina has argued that rising temperatures is hitting manufacturing in India, and thereby, Indian economy. Their research says that for every one degree Celsius rise on annual temperature, productivity of industrial plants drops by two per cent.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study, which analysed high frequency microdata sets of worker output from over 58,000 factories across India, indicated that workers are more likely to be absent from work when it gets very hot, and the aggregate of these effects are likely to have a significant effect on factory production.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are those who feel that air conditioning the workplace was that one gamechanger which increased output, specially in tropical countries. This study, however, said that temperature regulation in the workplace had its limitations, since it may improve productivity at work, but it doesn't reduce absenteeism, presumably because workers remain exposed to high temperatures at home and outside.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers have raised concern on how rising temperatures might lead to industries introducing further automation and shifting away from labour intensive sectors in hot parts of the world.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“These adaptive responses may negatively influence wage inequality,'' said E. Somanathan of Indian Statistical Institute.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Anant Sudarshan, co-author along with Somanathan, added that, “The trends that we see in our data makes us think that warm countries in the developing world may face a pervasive 'heat tax' that could damage the competitiveness of their manufacturing sectors and further hurt the waves of poor workers.'' He said that research into low cost technologies to protect workers form ambient temperatures might have significant social value.</p> Thu Mar 25 20:30:08 IST 2021 covid-19-surge-bond-yields-inflation-creating-unease-expect-higher-market-volatility <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Equity markets have been falling in the last few days. A resurgence of COVID-19 cases back home and a surge in bond yields in the US spooked investors. Even as the market has been falling in recent weeks, primary markets have been buoyant, with several companies going public. There have been several new mutual fund launches, too. Satish Ramanathan, MD and chief investment officer – equity at JM Financial Asset Management, shared his perspectives on the markets and mutual fund trends with THE WEEK. Excerpts:</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p><b>Equity markets have turned extremely volatile in the last month. Why? Is the street worried over the rising COVID cases?</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>We have barely corrected 5 per cent from the top, and hence it is too early to call an end to the bull market. We believe that the rising COVID cases may be a worry for India, but the fear of inflation is greater. The 10-year US bond yield surged briefly to cross 1.75 per cent from a low of 0.68 per cent. This unprecedented rise was disconcerting to markets. There was apprehension that the US Federal Reserve may be forced to move away from the easy money policy. Also, US is spending an unprecedented $1.9 trillion as support to people impacted by COVID. US consumers are in a better shape than before and US home prices are rising. This implies that inflation is round the corner.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, we have had a sharp surge in all commodity prices, pushing product prices up. Strong demand with limited supplies due to supply chain disruptions and trade barriers are playing their part. Recently, we saw that car manufacturers are running short of semi conductors and are not able to produce cars. In fact, some factories were shut down as well. These recent events are creating an unease in markets and hence, the volatility.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>After hitting a record above 52,500 (Sensex), we have seen markets slip below 49,000-level. How do you see markets panning out through 2021, given the uncertainty around COVID, rising bond yields and inflation?</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>There will be a higher degree of volatility. Markets are no longer cheap and earnings projections are ebullient. The street estimates are that the Sensex EPS (earnings per share) is likely to grow by 35-40 per cent next year to around 2,100 from the current 1,535 levels. This optimism comes on back of a pent up demand and government push on several fronts. However, failure to grow by this extent could disappoint markets, creating volatility.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p><b>From a retail investor perspective, what should be the strategy over next 6-12 months?</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>As a retail investor, the phase for lumpsum investing is over and they should opt for SIPs (systematic investment). While large caps have done well for an extended period of time, there are early signs that there is a recovery in earnings in that segment as well. Investors should also consider investing some of their capital into midcap equity schemes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Markets rose sharply from the March 2020 lows. At the same time, we have seen sustained outflows from equity mutual funds. Why? Do you think, things are settling down and we should see a rebound in flows this year?</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>This trend has been a universal phenomenon, as a lot of investors have chosen to enter the markets, and trade directly. Also, technology has enabled investors to invest in predetermined portfolios. One of the consequences of a narrow market rally is that investors decide to invest in a few names directly, and map the indices. There are tools now available to create personal portfolios. Mutual funds still offer superior tax adjusted returns and investors (not traders) would still choose to diversify across categories and fund houses.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Index funds/ETFs have continued to see inflows, albeit on a low base. Many fund houses are also cashing in on the trend with several new passive fund launches. Are index funds going to get the traction just like it did in the US a few decades ago? Would you recommend passive over active funds?</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>ETFs (exchange traded funds) have been proving attractive to investors who want to have asset allocations into equities at a low cost. Consequently, large institutional money has been moving into ETFs. India has also been seeing growth in ETFs as investors are now wanting to reduce fund management costs. Further, the shift in the business models of many fund intermediates from distributors to advisers is also moving money to ETFs. There will always be choice between active and passive fund management strategies and investors and their advisors are the best judge to choose and allocate funds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Another trend is ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing. Several new funds have launched in recent times. How do you see this panning out. Are Indian markets mature and deep enough for ESG investing to pick up?</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>ESG funds are a new concept and both companies and investors need to be aware of their requirements. Theoretically, ESG-compliant companies are a notch higher in investability and perhaps, offer sustainable companies in the future, but the dilemma is how do you rate companies and what is the importance you give to each of these factors. Will one invest in a good governance company, which has a high impact on environment? These are issues that we need to cross as the investor matures. There may be phases of underperformance in ESG investing and investors will need to be patient to withstand this underperformance.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p><b>Where are you seeing the investment opportunities now from a sectoral perspective? There have been several major announcements in recent times, be it PSU bank privatisation, setting up of a Development Finance Institution, etc.</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The government has committed to a lot of reforms across PSU banks, infrastructure, disinvestment, etc. These are positive drivers for unlocking value for the government and bridging the fiscal gap. However, they might not be positive for the market, in that a lot of surplus funds could be absorbed by this disinvestment process. We believe that there is value in some of the PSU companies and infrastructure companies. What is the restructuring that these companies will embark post disinvestment is another issue. Many PSU companies are in old economy sectors where technology obsolescence is rapid. Investing in them because they are merely cheap could lead to sustained poor performance. Hence, one needs to have a selective approach in building the portfolio with PSU stocks.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p><b>We have seen a huge IPO rush over the last several months and many of them have been lapped up by investors. What's driving this euphoria given that the overall economic environment remains uncertain and do you see the momentum over the next 6-12 months?</b></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Indian markets will continue to see new companies coming in for IPOs. We are seeing a number of midcap companies coming in chemicals, consumer sector and even new businesses such as gaming.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>We need to bear in mind that the IPO market has been constrained for several months due to COVID and hence, there is some bunching up. Reasonably valued quality businesses will continue to see interest, while market sentiments may change valuations. Retail interest is quite high and this may lead to some frothy valuations. There is a speculative element that could create some volatility.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The government has set a huge target from divestment of public sector companies. A lot is riding on companies like LIC and BPCL. How much is the market appetite for such large IPOs like LIC and what kind of effect can it have on liquidity in the market and valuations of existing listed peers?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is ample liquidity in the domestic market and interest rates are also benign implying money will continue to equities. As regards large IPO's such as LIC, we expect big institutional investors (both domestic and foreign) to participate and help improve liquidity. As regards some of the other divestments/disinvestments, they will be strategic in nature and will not impact the money flow in secondary markets.</p> <p><br> <br> <br> <br> </p> Thu Mar 25 16:38:08 IST 2021 congress-to-press-big-tech-ceos-over-speech-misinformation <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The CEOs of social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google face a new grilling by Congress on Thursday, one focused on their efforts to prevent their platforms from spreading falsehoods and inciting violence. That's been a familiar theme for lawmakers over the past few years. But the pressure is even higher following the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, the rise in COVID vaccine misinformation and united Democratic control of Congress and the White House.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The latter could make legislative action more likely, although it remains far from a sure thing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As malicious conspiracy theories continue to spread, lawmakers are pounding the social media companies over their market dominance, harvesting of user data and practices that some believe actually encourage the spread of engaging but potentially harmful misinformation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some Republicans have also alleged, without proof, censorship and political bias against conservatives as another reason to rein in the enormous firms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There''s increasing support in Congress for imposing new curbs on legal protections regarding speech posted on their platforms. Both Republicans and Democrats — including President Joe Biden as a candidate — have called for stripping away some of the protections under so-called Section 230 of a 25-year-old telecommunications law that shields internet companies from liability for what users post.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter chief Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai — whose company owns YouTube — will testify in a virtual hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The session''s title leaves little doubt as to the majority Democrats'' stance: “Disinformation Nation: Social Media''s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These executives testified on the subject at several congressional hearings last year, sometimes under threat of subpoena.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This time they face tougher dynamics and may be called to account for earlier promises. In a Senate hearing shortly after the election in November, for instance, Zuckerberg and Dorsey gave lawmakers assurances of vigorous action against disinformation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Former President Donald Trump enjoyed special treatment on Facebook and Twitter until January, despite spreading misinformation, pushing false claims of voting fraud, and promulgating hate. Facebook banned Trump indefinitely a day after rioters egged on by Trump swarmed the Capitol. Twitter soon followed, permanently disabling Trump''s favored bullhorn.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Banning a sitting president from social media was an unprecedented step. Of course, so was Trump''s heavy use of Twitter to lambaste opponents, laud supporters and spread false claims to more than 80 million followers. He was also only the second president to have a social media presence while in office.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Facebook hasn''t yet decided whether it will banish the former president permanently. The company punted that decision to its quasi-independent Oversight Board — sort of a Supreme Court of Facebook enforcement — which is expected to rule on the matter next month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Republicans have stepped up their complaints of alleged censorship and anti-conservative bias at the social media platforms. Researchers say there''s no evidence that the social media giants are biased against conservative news, posts or other material, or that they favour one side of political debate over another.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Democrats, meanwhile, are largely focused on hate speech and incitement that can spawn real-world violence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>An outside report issued this week found that Facebook has allowed groups — many tied to QAnon, boogaloo and militia movements — to extol violence during the 2020 election and in the weeks leading up to the deadly riots on the Capitol.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report from Avaaz, a nonprofit advocacy group that says it seeks to protect democracies from misinformation, identified several hundred pages and groups on Facebook that it says spread violence-glorifying material to a combined following of 32 million users.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Facebook acknowledged that its policy enforcement “isn''t perfect,” but said the report distorts its work against violent extremism and misinformation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The tech CEOs plan a spirited defense of the liability shield under Section 230, saying it has helped make the internet the forum of free expression that it is today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zuckerberg, however, will also again urge Congress to update that law to ensure it''s working as intended. He''s adding a specific suggestion: Congress could require internet platforms to gain legal protection only by proving that their systems for identifying illegal content are up to snuff.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Instead of being granted immunity, platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it," Zuckerberg said in written testimony prepared for Thursday''s hearing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It''s not clear lawmakers will buy that argument. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, charged that Zuckerberg''s plan would entrench giant firms at the expense of smaller rivals.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Everyone working to address real issues online should be deeply wary about Mark Zuckerberg''s proposals for new regulations,” Wyden said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pichai and Dorsey have urged caution about any changes to Section 230. Regulation is important to protect the open web while curbing its harmful use, Pichai said in his written testimony.&nbsp;</p> Thu Mar 25 14:39:24 IST 2021 sebi-relaxes-norms-for-listing-of-start-ups-allows-discretionary-allotment-to-eligible-investors <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Seeking to boost listing of start-ups, markets watchdog Sebi on Thursday decided a slew of relaxations to norms, including reducing the holding period for pre-issue capital and allowing discretionary allotment to eligible investors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The changes have been approved to the framework for listing on the Innovators Growth Platform, Sebi said in a statement after the board meeting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other proposals approved include easing delisting requirements and relaxation in guidelines for migrating to the main board.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The board has approved the proposals with respect to framework of Innovators Growth Platform (IGP) under the Sebi (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2018, with an objective to make the platform more accessible to companies in view of the evolving start-up ecosystem," Sebi said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The regulator has decided to reduce the period of holding of 25 per cent of pre-issue capital of the issuer company by eligible investors to one year from the current requirement of two years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The term 'Accredited Investor' for the purpose of IGP is renamed as 'Innovators Growth Platform Investors'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Such investor's pre-issue shareholding should be considered for the entire 25 per cent of the pre-issue capital of the issuer company, against the current limit of only 10 per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the lines of provisions for listing of companies on the main board, Sebi has decided that the issuer company on the IGP should be allowed to allocate up to 60 per cent of the issue size on a discretionary basis, prior to issue opening for subscription to eligible investors with a lock-in of 30 days on such shares.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Currently, the&nbsp;issuer company is not permitted to make discretionary allotment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"In line with the provisions of main board IPO, issuer companies which have issued superior voting rights (SR) equity shares to promoters/ founders shall be allowed to do listing under IGP framework," Sebi said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The regulator has also decided that threshold trigger for open offer should be relaxed from the existing 25 per cent to 49 per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, irrespective of acquisition or holding of shares or voting rights in a target company, any change in control directly or indirectly over target company will trigger open offer, Sebi said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The delisting should be considered successful if the post offer acquirer or promoter shareholding, taken together with the shares tendered and accepted, reaches 75 per cent of the total issued shares of that class; and at least 50 per cent shares of the public shareholders are tendered and accepted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Further, for delisting, Sebi said the Reverse Book Building mechanism will not be applicable, and for computation of offer price, the floor price will be determined in terms of Takeover Regulations, along with delisting premium as justified by the acquirer/promoter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, it has decided to relax the framework for companies seeking to migrate to the main board.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Currently, for a company not satisfying the conditions of profitability, net assets and net worth, among others, for migration from IGP to main board requires a company to have 75 per cent of its capital held by QIBs (qualified institutional buyers) as on date of application for migration. This requirement has now been reduced to 50 per cent, Sebi said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2015, Sebi introduced the Institutional Trading Platform (ITP) with a view to facilitating listing of new-age start-ups. However, the ITP framework failed to evince interest. Last year, Sebi renamed it the Innovators Growth Platform.</p> Thu Mar 25 22:34:17 IST 2021 petrol-diesel-prices-cut-by-a-tad-for-second-day <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Falling international crude oil prices have given room for Indian oil marketing companies to cut petrol and diesel prices for the second consecutive day. While petrol has been priced 21 paise lower in Delhi, diesel has been brought down by 20 paise.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After this, the price of petrol in Delhi has reached Rs 90.78 per litre and the price of diesel has become Rs 81.1 per litre. On Wednesday, the fuel prices were cut for the first time in more than a year following a fall in international crude prices. Before that, prices were last cut on March 16, 2020.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After today's cut, petrol is retailing at Rs 97.19 in Mumbai, Rs 92.77 in Chennai and Rs 90.98 in Kolkata.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For diesel, the retail price for a litre in Delhi today is Rs 81.10, Rs 88.20 in Mumbai, Rs 86.10 in Chennai and Rs 83.98 in Kolkata.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The fuel price cuts have been effected as crude oil price has come down from a high of $71 per barrel to $64 per barrel. Earlier in February, petrol and diesel were hiked 16 times. However, the prices of petrol and diesel are still at a record high.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Mar 25 11:29:14 IST 2021 icici-videocon-case-bombay-hc-grants-bail-to-deepak-kochhar <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Bombay High Court on Thursday granted bail to Deepak Kochhar, husband of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, in a money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).</p> <p>Kocchar had approached the Bombay High Court after a special court in the city rejected his bail plea in December last year.</p> <p>Justice P.D. Naik of the High Court granted bail to him on merits on Thursday.</p> <p>Kocchar was arrested by the ED in September last year under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the alleged ICICI Bank-Videocon money laundering case.</p> <p>The ED registered the money laundering case following an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the Kochhar couple, Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot and others for allegedly causing loss to the ICICI Bank by sanctioning loans to the Videocon Group of companies in contravention to the policies of the ICICI Bank.</p> <p>Kochhar had argued that the ED had taken note of all the alleged proceeds of crime in the case, so there was no chance of him creating any third-party rights, or interfering with the probe if out on bail.</p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> Thu Mar 25 15:07:07 IST 2021 second-covid-wave-to-last-for-100-days-peak-by-april-second-half-sbi-report <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The second COVID wave in India is likely to last for up to 100 days, starting from February 15, and is all set to peak by the second half of April, stated a report released by SBI on Thursday. However, the report said India is better positioned this time to control the pandemic with vaccinations gaining pace.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the report from SBI's research team, authored by Soumya Kanti Ghosh, the bank's chief economic adviser, increasing the speed of vaccination is the only way to win the battle against COVID-19 pandemic, adding that localised lockdowns/restrictions have not resulted in controlling the spread of infection. "Lockdown ineffective, mass vaccination is the only hope. This is visible in case of many states including Maharashtra and Punjab," it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"India is witnessing a second wave of infection beginning February 2021, with daily new cases rising again. Pan-India total cases in the second wave are expected in the order of 25 lakhs (based on trends in data till 23-Mar). Considering the number of days from the current level of daily new cases to the peak level during the first wave, India might reach the peak in the second half of April," the report said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Though global COVID-19 experience shows second wave much higher in intensity than the first wave, the presence of vaccines makes the difference now. Thus India will be able to manage the situation better," the report noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India added over one lakh coronavirus infections in just two days with 53,476 new cases in a span of 24 hours, the highest single day rise so far this year, pushing the nationwide COVID-19 tally of cases to 1,17,87,534, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Thursday</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report noted that states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Haryana have vaccinated more than 20 per cent of their elderly population (above 60 years).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Several states with higher elderly population (&gt;60 years) including Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal have vaccinated less percentage of their elderly population and must increase their pace of inoculation</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If we assume more number of people are willing to take vaccines and the daily vaccine inoculation increases to 40-45 lakhs from the current maximum level of 34 lakhs, then with this capacity we can vaccinate our population above 45 years in 4 months from now</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Thu Mar 25 15:10:44 IST 2021 no-difference-of-opinion-between-rbi-centre-on-cryptocurrencies-das <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is in discussion with the government over the privatisation of public sector banks, governor Shaktikanta Das Gupta said on Thursday. The process "will go forward," the governor added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The RBI governor also said that the central bank has flagged major concerns on cryptocurrencies to the government. "It is still under examination; the government will come out with a decision on it. I do not think there is any difference of opinion between the RBI and the Central government on cryptocurrencies," Das said while delivering the inaugural address at the India Economic Conclave (IEC) 2021 underway in Delhi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>From the stability of the rupee to the probability of another lockdown, Das touched upon a wide range of topics during the event. "At this point of time, one does not foresee the kind of lockdown experienced last year," he reassured. "The renewed surge in COVID-19 cases in the country is a matter of concern, but we have additional insurances this time to tackle that."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said that there was no fight between the central bank and the bond market in India; the relationship need not be combative. He added that the RBI was doing everything to keep the rupee stable.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the economic front, he said that revival of economic activity should continue unabated. "I don't see downward revision in RBI’s 10.5 per cent growth estimate for FY22," Das said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The RBI is committed to using all policy tools to support recovery in the economy while preserving price stability, financial stability, Das said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The governor said there was a huge potential for the fintech segment in India. "Effective regulation is a priority for the RBI," Das said. However, he added that regulation should not constrain innovation in fintech space.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We processed 274 crore digital transactions last year to provide direct benefit transfer to people, Das said. He said RTGS has multi-currency capabilities and there is scope to explore if its footprint can be expanded beyond India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maintaining banking sector health with strong capital base, ethics-driven governance remains policy priority, he noted.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Mar 25 13:05:59 IST 2021 popeyes-fast-food-chain-coming-to-india <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds, KFC—if there’s an American fast food chain that hasn’t set up shop yet in India, it is Popeyes. That is set to change, however, as Jubilant FoodWorks, which franchises Domino’s and Dunkin’ Donuts in India, has announced it will be bringing the fried chicken fast food brand to India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.</p> <p>The company announced it would enter into an exclusive master franchise and development agreement with PLK APAC Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International Inc (RBI), said a joint statement.</p> <p>It added that the pact has been signed "to develop, establish, own and operate" hundreds of Popeyes restaurants in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan in the coming years, said a joint statement.</p> <p>JFL Chairman Shyam S. Bhartia and Co-Chairman Hari S Bhartia said, "We are happy to announce the signing of a multi-country agreement to acquire the exclusive rights to operate and sub-license the iconic Popeyes brand in India and neighbouring countries."</p> <p>He added that chicken is one of the largest and fastest-growing categories in India and is expected to grow rapidly in years to come.</p> <p>Popeyes has around 3,400 locations around the world, and saw a surge in sales after its chicken sandwich went viral in 2019. It launched in China in 2020 and is making ambitious plans to target chicken-eating markets, expanding in places like the Philippines and Spain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Mar 24 22:55:18 IST 2021 sc-ruling-on-loan-moratorium-unlikely-to-cause-big-jump-in-npas-say-nbfcs <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Supreme Court judgement&nbsp;<a href="">ruling out any further extension in loan moratorium</a>&nbsp;that was announced in the wake of the coronavirus-related lockdowns last year is unlikely to result in a huge jump in non-performing assets, feel non-banking finance companies (NBFCs).</p> <p>While banks and NBFCs could not change the asset classification of a loan during the moratorium period, lenders had made adequate provisions already for any likely NPAs, said officials at the Finance Industry Development Council.</p> <p>“We don’t expect NPAs would rise substantially and people have made sufficient provisions for it, right from a small company to a large company. So, it is not likely to impact the industry because NPAs have been provided for at least as a provision,” said Ramesh Iyer, chairman of FIDC.</p> <p>Iyer, who is also the vice-chairman and MD of Mahindra Finance, said some of the customers that may have availed of the moratorium would have anyways started repaying as the market conditions have improved.</p> <p>In its ruling, the Supreme Court also waived off compound interest for all borrowers, and so any such amount already collected will have to be refunded. Earlier, the government had announced such a relief for borrowers having loans up to Rs 2 crore only. Whether the government will bear the additional expenses as well or the banks and NBFCs will have to issue the refunds from their pockets is not yet clear.</p> <p>Iyer said that not too many loans that NBFCs provide are above Rs 2 crore and therefore the impact of compound interest waiver would be minimal on the shadow banking sector.</p> <p>“We do believe that there would be a support that would come towards an NBFC if we will have to give up something,” he felt.&nbsp;</p> <p>The lockdowns announced last year had a huge impact across businesses. However, with the economy on the mend, the worst was behind the industry, say FIDC officials.</p> <p>“Real demand is coming back, especially in specific sectors like infrastructure and that will have a knock-on effect on various other sectors. If there is no big surge in COVID-19 numbers, which we have unfortunately seen in the last few days, if we do get on top of that then financial year 2022 should offer us a lot to cheer about,” said T.T. Srinivasaraghavan, FIDC director and MD of Sundaram Finance.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the FIDC wants the Reserve Bank of India to take another look at the proposal to raise the minimum capital requirement for small NBFCs to Rs 20 crore from Rs 2 crore. FIDC officials said that while it was necessary to raise the capital requirements, it should be done gradually. The industry body has also suggested that in line with the existing guidelines for housing finance companies, the minimum capital requirement should be kept at Rs 10 crore and companies should be given sufficient time to reach that level.</p> Wed Mar 24 20:28:16 IST 2021 gaming-sector-in-india-attracts-investments-as-pandemic-drives-g <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The gaming sector in India has had a very positive run as the sector attracted $544 million in investments during the August 2020-January 2021 period. Some of the big investments include $225 million investment in Dream11 (September 2020), $90 million in the Mobile Premier League (November 2020), and $68 million in Nazara Technologies (January 2021). The sector is also seeing investments from the private equities marking a significant shift from the VC-led environment and indicating some underlying sector maturity.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A new report, "Indian Gaming: At an Inflexion Point” by Maple Capital Advisors Private Limited suggests there has been an increased cross border interest in mergers and acquisitions and there are indications that multiple companies could achieve unicorn status in the next 1-2 years. It is also expected that investments in the sector are expected to double over the next 12-18 months.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report pointed out that India has 15 per cent of the global gaming traffic with the market expected to grow 10 times in the next 5 years. As per Maple Capital Advisors, investments in the sector have crossed $500 million in the last six months and are exceeding what was invested in the last five years and their projections. The report points out that gaming is now at an inflexion point in India with greater investment and consumer traction. With growth-oriented PE’s now participating and the first meaningful IPO of Nazara Technologies, gaming is poised to attract greater capital across stages.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report observes that healthy consumer traction, 15 per cent of global traffic, is on the back of greater awareness and engagement and it is likely to accelerate. Maple Capital also expects improved regulatory coverage or judicial clarity, especially in the real money gaming space. Interestingly, the report points out that consumer visits to online gaming websites and apps rose by 24 per cent last year and the user engagement grew three times. At the same time, a 30 per cent higher traffic in online mobile gaming was also observed in 2020. Mobile game downloads also peaked at 197 million last year and Ludo King became a COVID-era sensation.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some other prominent developments during the period were that the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh banned online fantasy gaming and Reliance Jio-Krikey launched the Yaatra AR game.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Additionally, the sector also saw its first cross-border merger and acquisition in Moonfrong from Stillfront of Sweden. The report also points out that early-stage investments have spanned actively on esports and casual gaming and are seeing good growth. Gaming giants like Entain, Scientific Games and Ubisoft have also set up backend technology hubs in India and the sector holds promise next to IT in making India a hub for global game development.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It has also been observed that only 10 per cent of Indian gamers play on consoles and several PC brands have reported up to three times increase in sales of gaming laptops in the last two to three months. It is also estimated that over 745 million users play online real money games in India, depending on access to the internet and ownership of mobile phones or other devices. The Maple Capital report also points out that NITI Aayog has drafted a proposal to set up uniform operating grounds for online fantasy gaming players across all states in India. This step, though limited in scope, as the fantasy market is 30 per cent of the total market, is still a step in the right direction.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Highlighting the issue of India’s gaming sector marred with inconsistent state laws the report notes that Andhra Pradesh had banned all real-money games and in an unprecedented move, Tamil Nadu declared rummy and poker as ‘gambling’ under its state law. Meghalaya is also considering licensing all gaming activities, while Karnataka may soon revise its law to regulate online gaming. The report states that keeping up with such diverse laws is a challenge for gaming companies, making it difficult for the sector to abide by uniform standards.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As per the report, India is strongly positioned as a gaming destination and increasingly of interest to global majors. Esports gaming ecosystems are likely to see greater traction, while some games may see a dip in traction as COVID ends and people head back. Additionally, technology-intensive casual gaming while in its infancy is likely to see greater investment traction. It also states that in India, consumer awareness and engagement of people towards gaming has been rising as over the last 6 months, 47 per cent of internet users spent time using gaming apps and 50 per cent of smartphone users played mobile games, spending one hour on it daily.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Mar 24 19:03:55 IST 2021 not-possible-to-bring-petrol-diesel-under-gst-for-next-8-10-years-sushil-modi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi on Wednesday said it is not possible to bring petrol and diesel under the GST regime for the next eight to 10 years as it would cause an annual revenue loss of Rs 2 lakh crore to all states. The Centre and states collectively collect over Rs 5 lakh crore tax on petroleum products, Modi told the Rajya Sabha while participating in a discussion on the Finance Bill 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The statement assumes significance in view of the rise in petrol price for the past over one year which even touched Rs 100 per litre in some states.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the first reduction in rates in over a year, petrol price on Wednesday was cut by 18 paise per litre and diesel by 17 paise a litre as international oil prices tumbled to the lowest since early February.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Petrol price was cut to Rs 90.99 a litre in Delhi from Rs 91.17 per litre. Diesel now comes for Rs 81.30 a litre in the national capital, down from Rs 81.47 previously.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rates have been reduced across the country and vary from state-to-state depending on the local incidence of taxation (VAT).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is the first reduction in fuel prices in over a year. The prices were last reduced on March 16, 2020.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"It is not possible to bring petrol and diesel under GST regime in the next eight to 10 years because states would not be ready for an annual revenue loss of Rs 2 lakh crore (collectively by all states)," Modi told the House.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"If petrol or diesel would be brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime then how would the loss of Rs 2 lakh crore revenue to states be recovered. The Centre and states together earn over Rs 5 lakh crore from tax on petroleum products," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He explained that if petroleum products are brought under the GST, 28 per cent tax would be collected on them as that is the highest slab in the tax regime.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Presently, 60 per cent tax is being collected on petroleum products. This would result in shortfall of Rs 2 lakh crore to 2.5 lakh crore (to both Centre and states)," he explained in the House.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"If we collect 28 per cent tax on petroleum products, then only Rs 14 would be collected (per litre) against Rs 60 at present," he pointed out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"If petrol or diesel price is Rs 100 (per litre) then the tax component is Rs 60 which includes Rs 35 for Centre and Rs 25 for respective states. Besides out of the Rs 35 tax per litre, 42 per cent goes to states," Modi added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also stated,"It is said that tax collected on petrol, diesel goes into the pocket of government. There is no separate pocket of government. From where the money will come for providing electricity and tap water to all households. The spending of tax collection on welfare of country is being challenged."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reacting to remarks against the GST regime, he said,"Some people also said that this is Gabbar Singh Tax. No state has opposed the tax structure of GST in any GST Council meeting. You can see the proceedings of the council (to verify that)," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He stressed that only the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had the guts to implement the GST regime in the country.&nbsp;</p> Wed Mar 24 15:39:46 IST 2021 you-can-now-buy-a-tesla-with-bitcoin-elon-musk <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It's official. Customers can now pay in bitcoins to purchase a Tesla car. Tesla chief and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk on Wednesday took to Twitter to confirm that the electric vehicle maker has started accepting the digital currency during transactions.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;You can now buy a Tesla with bitcoin. Tesla is using only internal and open source software and operates bitcoin nodes directly,&quot; the CEO said in a series of tweets. Nodes are computers on bitcoin’s network that work to verify transactions and avoid the cryptocurrency from being spent twice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Musk added that bitcoin paid to Tesla will be retained as bitcoin, not converted to fiat currency.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, customers outside the US will have to wait till the end of the year to pay by bitcoin. The company website has also set up a '<a href="">support' page for customers</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is to be noted that bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency Tesla accepts. The development comes only a month after Tesla said it had invested $1.5 billion in bitcoin in January. Last month, Tesla had announced that it was soon planning to start accepting the cryptocurrency as payment for its electric vehicles.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Mar 24 15:22:27 IST 2021 refunds-given-for-99-percent-tickets-of-flights-cancelled-during-lockdown-indigo <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Budget carrier IndiGo said on Wednesday it has processed 99.95 per cent of the total amount owed to passengers whose flights got cancelled during the two-month lockdown beginning March 25 last year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Supreme Court had last September instructed all the airlines to fully refund the passengers, whose flights were cancelled during the lockdown period (March 25, 2020 to May 24, 2020), by March 31, 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a statement, IndiGo said: "Since the resumption of operations in May 2020, IndiGo has been rapidly refunding amounts owed to customers whose flights had been cancelled during the lockdown. The airline has already processed close to Rs 1,030 crore of refunds, which amounts to about 99.95 per cent of the total amount owed to its customers."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The pending credit shells are mostly cash transactions wherein IndiGo is awaiting bank transfer details from the customers, it mentioned.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The two-month lockdown and pandemic-related travel restrictions have badly hit the Indian airlines. Revenues of major Indian scheduled carriers fell from Rs 46,711 crore during April-September 2019 to about Rs 11,810 crore during April-September 2020, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the Rajya Sabha last month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Wednesday, Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer, IndiGo explained the airline''s position.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"As our incoming cash flow through ticket sales got impacted (due to complete halt of operations due to lockdown), we were unable to immediately process refunds for cancelled flights and had to create credit shells for the refunds that were due to our customers," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, with the resumption of operations and a steady increase in demand for air travel, our priority has been to refund the credit shell amounts in an expedited manner, he noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We are pleased to share that we have disbursed 99.95 per cent credit shell payments and will complete the remaining payments as soon as we receive requisite details from the customers," Dutta mentioned.&nbsp;</p> Wed Mar 24 14:31:42 IST 2021 no-digital-tax-if-goods-services-sold-via-indian-arm-of-foreign-e-commerce-players <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In a bid to provide a level-playing field, the government has decided not to levy 2 per cent digital service tax if goods and services are sold through Indian arm of foreign e-commerce players.</p> <p>The amendment to Finance Bill 2021 clarifies that offshore e-commerce platforms don't have to pay 2 per cent equalisation levy if they have permanent establishment or they pay any income tax here.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, foreign companies who are not paying any tax will have to pay.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The digital tax introduced in April 2020, applies only to non-resident companies with annual revenues in excess of Rs 2 crore, and covers online sales of goods and services to Indians.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Through the government amendment... I intend to clarify that this equalisation levy is not applicable on consideration for goods which are owned by Indian residents," Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said why replying to a debate Finance Bill 2021 in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pointing out that this government is in favour of digital transactions, she said, "we will never do anything to undermine it. But yet, equalisation levy is a tax which has been imposed to give level playing field between Indian businesses who pay tax in India and foreign e-commerce companies who do business in India but do not pay any income tax here."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The equalisation levy became a contentious issue after the US termed it discriminatory against American firms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Defending its stand, India had said that the objective of the levy is to provide greater clarity, certainty and predictability in respect of characterisation of payments for digital services and consequent tax liabilities to all stakeholders, so as to minimise costs of compliance and administration as also tax disputes in these matters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The equalisation levy is seen as an additional safeguard against BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) and loss of revenue in India due to activities of the e-commerce operators operating in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The concept of equalisation levy in India emerged as a result of the deliberations of the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project, which crystallised in the BEPS Project report.</p> Wed Mar 24 14:19:26 IST 2021 india-buys-first-cargo-of-crude-from-worlds-newest-oil-producer <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India has diversified its oil import in order to reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern crudes after OPEC nations decided to stick to their production cuts through April.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first cargo of crude from Guyana, chartered by Trafigura, is on its way to reach India's Mundra port around April 8, according to a Reuters report. Refinitiv Eikon data says 1 million-barrel cargo of Guyana's Liza light sweet crude set sail on March 2 on Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Sea Garnet.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Following the cut in production, the OPEC's share in India's oil imports fell to a record lows between April 2020 and January 2021. India is the world's third-largest crude importer.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Oil prices jumped in March after OPEC and its oil-producing allies decided to extend production cut into April.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>OPEC+ had agreed to cut oil production by a record of 9.7 million barrels per day last year. However, the cut was reduced to 7.7 million and eventually 7.2 million from January. Saudi Arabia had announced voluntary cuts of 1 million from the beginning of February through March.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Crude from the world's newest oil producer Guyana is mainly exported to the United States, China, Panama and the Caribbean, according to tanker-tracking data. The south American nation began exporting crude in early 2020.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Due to US sanctions on Venezuela, India has not been able to import oil from the South American nation since December. India had bought 371,300 barrels per day (bpd) of Venezuelan oil in February 2020. The import came to naught following Washington’s suspension of oil-for-fuel swaps between Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA and Reliance Industries Ltd since October.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Mar 24 13:56:09 IST 2021 prices-of-petrol-diesel-slashed-marginally-in-1st-rate-cuts-in-over-year <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the first reduction in rates in over a year, petrol price on Wednesday was cut by 18 paise per litre and diesel by 17 paise a litre as international oil prices tumbled to the lowest since early February.</p> <p>Petrol price was cut to Rs 90.99 a litre in Delhi from Rs 91.17 per litre, according to a price notification of state-owned fuel retailers.</p> <p>Diesel now comes for Rs 81.30 a litre in the national capital, down from Rs 81.47 previously.</p> <p>Rates have been reduced across the country and vary from state to state, depending on the local incidence of taxation (VAT).</p> <p>This is the first reduction in fuel prices in over a year. Prices were last reduced on March 16, 2020.</p> <p>Despite bouts of rate freeze, prices had gone up by a record Rs 21.58 per litre on petrol in the last one year. Diesel price had increased by Rs 19.18 a litre.</p> <p>Prices last month hit record highs including crossing Rs 100 mark in some places in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. They had been on freeze since February-end when elections to five states including West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala were announced.</p> <p>In Mumbai, the petrol price was cut to Rs 97.40 a litre on Wednesday from Rs 97.57 while diesel rates were reduced to Rs 88.42 from Rs 88.60, the price notification showed.</p> <p>The rate reduction followed international oil prices tumbling to the lowest since early February as the second wave of COVID-19 infection clouded the prospects for a speedy recovery in consumption.</p> <p>West Texas Intermediate for May delivery was down to $57.76 in New York on Tuesday, the lowest close since February 5 while Brent for the same month lost $3.83 to $60.79 a barrel, the lowest since February 8.</p> <p>The rise in coronavirus cases is threatening the economy's recovery from the recession.&nbsp;</p> Wed Mar 24 12:23:29 IST 2021 govt-hikes-pf-threshold-limit-to-rs-5-lakh-for-earning-tax-free-interest <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday raised the limit for tax exemption on interest earned on provident fund contribution by employees to Rs 5 lakh per annum in specified cases as against Rs 2.5 lakh proposed in the budget.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In her Budget for 2021-22, Sitharaman had capped the tax-free interest earned on provident fund contribution by employees and employers together to a maximum of Rs 2.5 lakh in a year in an attempt to dissuade high earners from parking their surplus in what is supposed to be common man's retirement fund.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Replying to a discussion on the Finance Bill 2021 in Lok Sabha, the minister said the tax-free limit is now being amended to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh per annum.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This exemption, however, is subject to condition that the up to Rs 5 lakh contribution does not include employer's contribution beyond the statutory limit of up to 12 per cent of the basic pay. "I intend to raise this limit to Rs 5 lakh only in those cases, where there is no contribution by the employer in that fund. So, most often, it is employee contribution and employer's contribution, but there are contributions which are only employee and no employer contribution is made, in such cases that amount is raised to Rs 5 lakh," she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The new provision would come into effect from April 1.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She clarified that the Rs 2.5 lakh limit is covering 92-93 per cent of the people who are subscribers and they are entitled for assured interest that is tax free under this scheme.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So, the limits have been kept keeping in mind that small and medium taxpayers are not impacted by the step, she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has over six crore subscribers. The Finance Bill was later passed by the Lower House with 127 official amendments by voice vote.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With the passage of the Finance Bill, which contains tax proposals for the next financial year, the Lok Sabha has completed the budgetary exercise for 2021-22.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With regard to disinvestment, Sitharaman expressed hope of meeting the target set for the next financial year as the market is buoyant.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I fully concede that in a year where your disinvestment was to be achieved, but when the markets were tepid, we couldn't move...I'm hopeful now, because even during corona we saw the way in which the market has been buoyant. So I'm hopeful that we'll be able to achieve that," she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government has budgeted Rs 1.75 lakh crore from stake sale in public sector companies and financial institutions, including two PSU banks and one general insurance company, in the next fiscal year beginning April 1.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The amount is lower than the record Rs 2.10 lakh crore which was budgeted to be raised from CPSE disinvestment in the current fiscal year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For fiscal year 2021-22, out of the total Rs 1.75 lakh crore, Rs 1 lakh crore is to come from selling government stake in public sector banks and financial institutions. Rs 75,000 crore would come as CPSE disinvestment receipts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She also criticised a member for talking about a report by Freedom House, saying the MP should take up the matter of showing incorrect map of India with the think-tank.</p> Wed Mar 24 11:11:22 IST 2021 growing-opportunities-for-tax-technology-solutions-as-businesses-seek-gst-compliance <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced, it was touted, with much fanfare, as a measure that would streamline the complicated tax processes that Indian businesses were subjected to.&nbsp;</p> <p>The result, however, has been mixed. The GST greatly simplified taxes by scrapping the various excise duties and VATs that were levied on businesses, which were partly responsible for widespread tax fraud, reduced tax collections and burdensome compliance procedures. Despite this, there are many compliance issues that businesses have to comply with under the GST regime, such as registration, invoicing and returns. Seeing the opportunity, tech companies are cashing in on offering ways to simplify these processes.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Invoicing and filing taxes while being compliant with the GST regime still involves some minor juggling. There are three categories for taxes to be paid, invoices must be in a GST compliant format with several formats introduced for various situations, E-Way bills have to be generated in case of goods being moved, and there are new provisions for claiming refunds which needs to be adhered as per the new compliance requirements,” remarked Krupesh Bhat, Founder and CEO of SignDesk.&nbsp;</p> <p>He says that the procedures under GST are clear and concise, and with the clarity in regulations comes the opportunity for innovators to step in and offer the needed assistance in managing GST compliance.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Since the introduction of GST, we have seen a lot of private players offer automated compliance management solutions. Streamlined regulations under the GST open up avenues for innovation to private players. Specifically, the instance of innovators helping ease GST compliance serves as proof that regulators and the private sector can indeed collaborate intentionally or otherwise to improve the quality of compliance for everyone involved,” added Bhat.</p> <p>Experts say that the government and tax authorities across the world are implementing technology-driven compliance. The main aim of introducing GST and e-invoicing in India is to reduce tax evasion, increase compliance and quickly implement policy changes. This would mean that the systems that businesses use must have GST compliance wrapped around their day-to-day tasks.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Regardless of where, and between whom the transactions take place, the compliance should be automatic with minimal intervention from the user, based on certain preset configurations. The only thing that is constant when it comes to tax rules and regulations is change. To address this, the internal business systems must be compliant by design. So that the systems not only help with today’s compliance needs but should also be future-oriented,” said Prashant Ganti, Head of Products-Tax, Accounting and Payroll, Zoho Corporation.</p> <p>Of late, the need for tax technology solutions that can help organisations solve compliance requirements is growing, more so during the new normal. The government has been pushing AI through initiatives such as Ayushman Bharat for a while. There has been a major focus on GST fraud detection. With every GST council meeting, laws are being better structured and reformed to become more accessible and easy to handle for the taxpayer. The introduction of GST, e-way bills, e-invoicing have highlighted the importance of seamless automation and integration for better compliance.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We need to keep investing in technology upgrades and solutions as GST complexities are likely to continue until there is better standardization and harmonization of processes. Setting up in house tax automation solutions can be cumbersome and expensive for businesses. In October 2020, the implementation of e-invoicing created a sense of urgency among businesses. Businesses are actively looking to conform with the new legislative reform and providers like us are working to address the new compliance needs. To comply with the government’s reform, we introduced Avalara India GST e-invoicing, an end to end solution that helps companies manage their e-invoicing requirements. It helps by validating, storing, and managing invoices, and in providing the option to automate GST returns and e-way bills." explained Manjula Muthukrishnan, Managing Director, Avalara Technologies Private Limited, Indian operations of Avalara, Inc.&nbsp;</p> <p>One key concern for businesses of all sizes has been to ensure that appropriate input tax credit (ITC) is being claimed. This is especially true for large businesses; where the loss due to delay in ITC could lead to a substantial impact on an enterprise's working capital requirements. ITC can only be claimed if suppliers of a business have done their compliance, uploaded invoices and filed their returns on a timely basis. Having non-compliant suppliers can lead to a loss of ITC and enterprises are wary of making payments to them.&nbsp;</p> <p>Players such as ClearTax have launched products that help an enterprise identify and plug ITC leakages and maximise input credit availability at the same time link vendor payments with vendor compliance; leading to savings of lakhs of rupees for them. Archit Gupta, CEO and Founder, Cleartax, says a key area of concern has been to ensure that the information between various GST return forms matches, so that the risk of receiving a notice from the department for a particular GSTIN is reduced. There is a new regulation according to which a business may receive a notice where information between various GSTRs does not match.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Our software can run super-fast analysis helping businesses do multi-way reconciliation between GSTR-3B, GSTR-2A, GSTR-2B and help them ensure that mismatches are captured, communicated (to suppliers) and corrected. We also have a ready solution for e-invoicing. This can be plugged into an enterprise's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and can be customised based on the size and requirements of an enterprise's business. Besides this, the several changes in the GST law can be quite confusing for businesses. We have noticed that businesses struggle to keep up with the multitude of changes that keep happening. We have also been running several webinars, training, certifications that help tax professionals and businesses stay up to date with relevant changes in the law." Gupta told THE WEEK.</p> Tue Mar 23 19:28:08 IST 2021 though-zooms-profits-went-up-4000-percent-in-2020-company-paid-dollar0-in-taxes-report <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Few industries benefited from the global COVID-19 pandemic and remote-work culture as much as the videoconferencing software sector, with Zoom leading the pack. While the company made $663.9 million in pre-tax profits in the US in 2020 (versus $16.3 million the previous year), it paid $0 in federal income taxes according to its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.</p> <p>The Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy pointed out Zoom’s gains in a <a href="">news release</a>, noting that the company made “lavish use of executive stock options” to cut its worldwide income taxes by $300 million.</p> <p>Noting that “virtually every tech giant in the last decade” has made use of this method, the ITEP report says companies compensate leadership with stock options allowing them to write off huge expenses for tax purposes.</p> <p>The ITEP also said that accelerated depreciation (where businesses write off the cost of investment in equipment faster than the equipment wears out) and research and development tax credits also helped Zoom reduce its tax liability.</p> <p>Reactions to Zoom’s tax revelation were critical.</p> <p>"If you paid $14.99 a month for a Zoom Pro membership, you paid more to Zoom than it paid in federal income taxes even as it made $660 million in profits last year - a 4,000 percent increase since 2019. Yes. It's time to end a rigged tax code that benefits the wealthy &amp; powerful,"&nbsp;tweeted Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday.&nbsp;</p> Tue Mar 23 18:12:05 IST 2021 will-omcs-slash-petrol-diesel-prices-in-india <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>With the international crude oil rate sliding more than 10 per cent in a fortnight, oil companies in India have now room to cut petrol and diesel prices. Crude oil has fallen to $64 a barrel from $71 a barrel earlier this month as a fresh wave of coronavirus infections across Europe dashed hopes of demand recovery in fuel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This means that oil marketing companies in India have now room to cut fuel prices from record-high rates in the country.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Domestic fuel prices have remained unchanged since February 27 across the country, with rates of petrol and diesel frozen at Rs 91.17 and 81.47 per litre, respectively, in Delhi. Petrol and diesel prices are up by Rs 7.5 per litre since the beginning of the year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With fuel prices in India linked to the international crude oil price, OMCs are expected to cut the rates as and when the prices go down globally. However, nothing it cannot be said for certain because OMCs did not pass on the benefit of falling rates to customers during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fuel prices in India are among the highest in emerging economies with the Centre refusing to cut taxes and duties account for roughly 60 per cent of the retail price of petrol and diesel in the country.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even as crude oil prices hit a low during the pandemic lockdown days of last year, it was not passed on to the consumers as the Narendra Modi government twice raised taxes on petrol and diesel to boost sagging tax revenues. However, with crude oil prices rising, the prices are now at a record high after the Centre refused to reverse the tax raise decision.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Central and state governments have together raised Rs 4.21 lakh crore, despite a significant decline in local fuel demand, from the petroleum sector in the nine months of this fiscal year (April-December 2020).</p> <p><br> <br> <br> <br> </p> Tue Mar 23 16:27:06 IST 2021 all-you-need-to-know-about-new-jaguar-i-pace-electric-suv-launched-in-india <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Electric car launches are gaining traction in India and luxury car markers are not behind. On Tuesday, Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover launched the much awaited I-Pace all electric sports utility vehicle in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The I-Pace is the first battery electric vehicle to be launched in India by JLR. It may be all electric, but it still packs in the adrenaline rush that sports SUV lovers seek, hitting 0 to 100 kilometers in just 4.8 seconds. It is powered by a 90kWh lithium ion battery, delivering 294 kW of power and 696 Nm torque.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The I-Pace comes with state of the art digital technology on board, including 3D surround camera and software over the air functionality. It is the first Jaguar in India to offer its Pivi Pro infotainment system; there is also a 12.3-inch HD instrument cluster, a new navigation system displaying things like charging stations; there is active suspension with adaptive dynamics, electronic air suspension, all wheel drive and much more. It also gets multiple safety features.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But, all this also comes at a price. The I-Pace will be available in India at prices starting about Rs 1.06 crore ex-showroom. For the price, you get a complimentary five years service package, five years roadside assistance, 7.4 kW AC wall mounted charger and eight years or 160,000 km battery warranty. A home charging cable will also come as standard. The 7.4 kW charger will be set up at the customer’s home by Tata Power.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>An 7.4 kW AC charger can charge the battery on the I-Pace from zero to 100 per cent in 14 hours, while a 25 kW DC fast charger will do it in four hours. JLR claims that a single full charge will provide a range of 470 km, under the WLTP (worldwide&nbsp; harmonised light vehicle test) cycle.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you are away from home, then you could charge it up at a Jaguar retailer. JLR said that 22 retail outlets across 19 cities have over 35 chargers installed and more are on the way. These chargers are a mix of 7.4 kW AC chargers and 25 kW DC fast chargers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Customers can also access Tata Power’s fast expanding EZ Charge network of around 200 I-PACE compatible charging points on a use and pay basis, added JLR.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Jaguar I-Pace is the first all electric SUV that we have launched in India and it marks the beginning of our electrification journey. With our electrified products we look forward to playing a significant role in India’s electrification drive into the future,” said Rohit Suri, president and MD of JLR India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The I-Pace will go head on with the Mercedes Benz EQC that was launched here earlier and the Audi e-tron, which is yet to make its debut in India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How does it compare then with the Mercedes EQC?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The EQC is also powered by two electric motors with a combined output of 408 hp and 700 Nm of torque, which helps accelerate from zero to 100 km in 5.1 seconds. Its range as per WLTP is stated at 450 km. Apart from home charging, Mercedes also has charging facilities at more than 100 locations across 48 cities. Mercedes network across the country also supports charging and service-related requirements.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Mercedes Benz EQC was launched in India in October 2020 at prices starting Rs 99.30 lakh ex-showroom.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Automobile companies worldwide are doubling down on electric vehicles. In India, the charging ecosystem is still at an early stage, although it is expected to grow every year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Under the leadership of new CEO Thierry Bollore, JLR announced last month that by the end of the decade, all Jaguar and Land Rover nameplates will be available in electric variants. The first all-electric Land Rover is expected to be launched in 2024. The Jaguar car brand is expected to go fully electric by 2025.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The company plans to spend around £2.5 billion a year, including investments in electrification technologies and development of connected services.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Mar 23 15:26:45 IST 2021 sc-waiver-on-compound-interest-for-all-borrowers-availing-moratorium-may-cost-around-rs-7500-cr <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Supreme Court judgement in the loan moratorium case has come as a mixed bag for lenders. On the one hand, the decision not to extend the moratorium on loans will come as a huge relief and will pave the way for non-performing assets recognition of banks to resume. At the same time, the apex court also ruled that there will be a waiver of interest and all borrowers, irrespective of the amount of loan availed, will be eligible for the same. While this could mean relief for more borrowers, it will also mean additional burden on banks, and who foots this bill will be an area of concern, till some clarity emerges.</p> <p>In the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that was implemented a year ago, the Reserve Bank of India had announced a moratorium on loan repayments between March to August 2020. As per a standstill clause, banks could also not change the asset classification of a loan during the moratorium period.</p> <p>With the Supreme Court ruling out any further extension in moratorium, banks can again initiate steps to recover bad loans, say analysts.</p> <p>“Standstill on recognition of NPAs had tied the hand of lenders and consequently impacted the credit discipline of borrowers. Withdrawal of the same will enable lenders to enforce various legal measures and support their recovery efforts,” said Krishnan Sitaraman, senior director at CRISIL Ratings.</p> <p>It also clears the way for lenders to recognize NPAs as per the delinquency record of borrowers, which they had not been able to since the end of the moratorium period in August 2020, he added.</p> <p>Veena Sivaramakrishnan, partner at law firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co, says the judgement upholds basic principles that there are no free lunches. “Banks and financial institutions can finally heave a sigh of relief as the sword of a complete waiver of interest has now been taken away. The difference between concessions (needed in the time of COVID-19) and complete waiver (which would have meant a bizarre free ride in a commercial and financial world) has been recognised and put to rest by the Supreme Court,” said Sivaramakrishnan.</p> <p>However, with the top court waiving compound interest for all borrowers, whether the government or the banks have to bear the additional burden will have to be watched out for.</p> <p>Analysts estimate this additional amount to be around Rs 7,500 crore.</p> <p>“As per our estimates, the compounded interest for six-month of moratorium across all lenders is estimated at Rs 13,500-14,000 crore. The Government of India had already announced relief for borrowers having borrowings upto Rs 2 crore, which was estimated to cost Rs 6,500 crore to the exchequer. With the announcement of waiver for all borrowers, the additional relief of Rs 7,000-7,500 crore will need to be provided to borrowers.” said Anil Gupta, vice-president, financial sector ratings, at ICRA.</p> <p>Will this put a pressure on bank’s earnings?</p> <p>The reported Gross NPA as on December 31, 2020 stood at Rs 7.4 lakh crore, or 7.1 per cent. Ratings agency ICRA estimates that in the absence of a standstill by the Supreme Court, the Gross NPAs of banks would have been higher by Rs 1.3 lakh crore (1.2 per cent) and Net NPAs would have been higher by Rs 1 lakh crore (1 per cent).</p> <p>However, what must also be noted is that while lenders were not able to recognise NPAs, most did disclose proforma NPAs and also made provisions against the same, and this may limit the immediate impact on profitability, said CRISIL’s Sitaraman.</p> <p>Investors largely welcomed the Supreme Court verdict and lapped up banking stocks, particularly the state-owned lenders. Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and Bank of Maharashtra, closed up 10 per cent. Others, like Bank of Baroda, Union Bank, Central Bank, Canara Bank and Indian Bank gained 2 per cent to 5 per cent.</p> <p>Private lenders such as ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Bandhan Bank, IDFC First Bank and IndusInd Bank also rose 2-3 per cent.</p> Tue Mar 23 20:39:41 IST 2021 biden-admin-proposes-18-month-delay-in-calculating-prevailing-wages-of-h-1b-other-visas <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Biden administration has proposed an 18-month delay in the effective date of a final rule on calculating the prevailing wages of certain immigrants and non-immigrant workers, including those on the popular H-1B visas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The proposed delay will provide the Department of Labour with sufficient time to consider the rule’s legal and policy issues thoroughly and issue an upcoming Request for Information and gather public comments on the sources and methods for determining prevailing wage levels, an official release said following the announcement on Monday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This proposed rule follows an initial 60-day delay announced earlier this month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The department based that action on a January 20, 2021, White House memo, the media release said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Department of Labour in its federal notification published earlier this month said that it is considering whether to propose a further delay of the final rule''s effective date and accompanying implementation periods.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Department proposed to delay is in accordance with the Presidential directive as expressed in the memorandum of January 20, 2021, from the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, entitled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Department invited written comments from the public for 15 days on the proposed delay of effective date. All comments had to be received by February 16, 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Published in January 2021, the final rule affects employers seeking to employ foreign workers on a permanent or temporary basis through certain immigrant visas or through H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 non-immigrant visas, the Department of Labour said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the E3 visa is one for which only citizens of Australia are eligible, the H-1B1 visa is for the people from Singapore and Chile.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The proposed delay will also give agency officials sufficient time to compute and validate prevailing wage data covering specific occupations and geographic areas, complete necessary system modifications and conduct public outreach.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The rule is a carry-over from the Trump administration, which had proposed revisions mandatory salaries after losing a court battle to organisations including the Bay Area Council over an initial version.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If imposed, workers on the H-1B at the lowest wage level would have to receive at least the 35th percentile of the prevailing wage for their job type and location, compared to the 45th percentile in the initial version. Workers at the highest wage level would have to receive the 90th percentile, compared to the 95th percentile.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the Department of Labour, the proposed rule’s delay in effective date will result in the reduction of transfer payments in the form of higher wages from employers to H-1B employees.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Additionally, the proposed rule would delay the potential for deadweight losses to occur in the event that requiring employers to pay a wage above what H-1B workers are willing to accept results in H-1B caps not to be met, it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Department has observed that the annual H-1B cap was reached within the first five business days each year from fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2020.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“While the Department expects that the increase in wages may incentivise some employers to substitute domestic workers for H-1B employees, provided that domestic workers are available for the jobs, it is likely that the same number of H-1B visas will be allotted within the annual caps in the future,” it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To calculate the reduction of transfer payments the Department considered the transfer payments of the Final Rule as the baseline and shifted them according to the proposed rule’s new transition effective dates, it said.&nbsp;</p> Tue Mar 23 12:11:55 IST 2021 goair-managing-director-jeh-wadia-steps-down-ben-baldanz-takes-over-as-vice-chairman <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Wadia group-owned no-frills airline GoAir on Monday said that its managing director Jeh Wadia has stepped down from the position.<br> </p> <p>The airline, however, said that Wadia will continue as a promoter.<br> </p> <p>The airline also announced the appointment of aviation industry veteran Ben Baldanz as the vice chairman at a time when the company is reportedly looking to raise capital from public investors.<br> </p> <p>Baldanz has been an advisor to the company since 2018 and director since 2019.<br> </p> <p>"With the goal of taking GoAir to its next phase of growth, the promoters of the company and its board came together to formulate a long-term plan.<br> </p> <p>"Amongst other initiatives, a key element of this plan, forged over weeks of discussions and consultation, was to further strengthen the management of the company by bringing on-board proven industry professionals, a strategy that has worked well for the group in its other ventures including Britannia," GoAir said.</p> <p>Implementation of this plan commenced with the appointment ofBaldanza as vice chairman while Jeh Wadia, part of the promoter family, has stepped down from his position of managing director, it said.</p> <p>Baldanza as vice chairman will now work directly with the management team, comprising Kaushik Khona, chief executive officer, and Pankaj Chaturvedi, chief financial officer, in the next growth phase of GoAir into making it India's first ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC), the airline said.</p> <p>"We are happy that Ben has accepted the position of vice-chairman. His experience in creating the first ULCC in the US, turning it profitable and successfully leading its IPO are of great value, as GoAir embarks on the next phase of its growth journey, said Nusli Wadia, Chairman, GoAir.</p> <p>Baldanza is an airline industry veteran of several decades, having worked in American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Continental Airlines among others, before becoming the CEO of Spirit Airlines in 2006.</p> <p>He successfully repositioned Spirit Airlines into the first ULCC in the North Americas and increased its fleet from 32 to 100, Go Air said in the statement, adding as a result of his efforts, Spirit Airline achieved the highest profitability among all Airlines in the US between 2008 and2015.</p> <p>He also took the company public by successfully leading its IPO in 2011, it said.<br> </p> <p>"I am excited to be part of GoAir's next stage of journey. This gives me the opportunity to apply my years of airline experience in the vibrant and fast-growing market of India to create enduring value for all stakeholders," Baldanza said on his appointment to the new position in GoAir.<br> </p> Mon Mar 22 22:43:23 IST 2021 jack-dorseys-first-tweet-gets-25-million-bid-in-nft-auction <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The hype has yet to settle on the excitement around non-fungible tokens (NFTs), unique pieces of data that are stored on a blockchain that can range from a song to a picture to even a tweet. Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey has now concluded the auction for his first-ever tweet—“just setting up my twttr”—which was made 15 years ago on March 22, 2006.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The platform the tweet was sold on, “Valuables”, allows users to buy and sell tweets that have been digitally autographed by their creators. <a href="">Dorsey’s tweet</a> was bid for $2.5 million by Sino Estavi, CEO of Tron-based blockchain network Bridge.</p> <p>Estavi had also bid for <a href="">Elon Musk's techno song</a>, which the eccentric billionaire entrepreneur had also put up for sale as an NFT. Estavi bid $1.1 million, alongside his bid for Dorsey's tweet, but Musk went on to turn down the offer saying it did not feel right.</p> <p>Other bids for Dorsey's first tweet ranged from $2 million to $1 (the first bid). Dorsey had said that he would convert the proceeds to bitcoin and donate it to Give Directly, an organisation delivering COVID-19 relief to several African countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Liberia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Togo.</p> <p>Edward Snowden’s 2015 tweet was also bid for, which was just the question “Can you hear me now”. The highest bid for that tweet was $600.</p> <p>Earlier, NFT artist Beeple <a href="">raised a record $69 million</a> from listing a single-piece compilation of his EVERYDAY series of artwork as an NFT.&nbsp;</p> Mon Mar 22 22:05:03 IST 2021 apple-fined-2-million-in-brazil-for-shipping-iphone-12-without-charger-misleading-advertising <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>After sparking controversy for shipping the iPhone 12 without a charger, Apple has been fined $2 million by Brazil’s consumer protection agency for non-compliance with the country’s Consumer Defense Code.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Procon-SP organisation said Apple’s advertising claiming the iPhone models were water-resistant was misleading, and also said it had unfair warranty terms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In December, 2020, the agency said Apple had to provide a charger along with the iPhone 12 and asked the company to explain why it was not doing so. While Apple went on to argue the environmental benefits of skipping including the power adapter, saying many users already had a spare charger, Procon-SP said the adapter was an “essential part” of the use of the product and shipping it would be against the Brazilian Consumer Defense Code.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The agency said Apple had not produced sufficient evidence of the environmental benefits of removing the charger and that Apple had not made it clear in marketing materials that one would not be included.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Apple needs to understand that in Brazil there are solid consumer protection laws and institutions. It needs to respect these laws and these institutions," Procon-SP Executive Director Fernando Capez was quoted as saying.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apple may still appeal the fine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The agency had also gone after Apple rival Samsung, which after initially mocking the decision to exclude the charger, went on to ship its Galaxy S21 without one. After pressure, Samsung opted to bundle a “gift” charger with the Galaxy S21 in pre-orders in Brazil.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Mon Mar 22 18:01:11 IST 2021 loan-moratorium-waiver-of-complete-interest-not-possible-rules-sc <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to interfere with the government and the RBI's loan moratorium policy, and declined to extend the six-month loan moratorium period. The apex court said the waiver of complete interest was not possible because they had to pay interest to depositors like account holders and pensioners.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a relief to borrowers, the Supreme Court Tuesday directed that no compound or penal interest be charged during the six-month loan moratorium period announced last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the amount already charged shall be refunded, credited or adjusted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bench said it cannot strike down a policy decision merely at the behest of petitioners on grounds that the other view is possible and the other decision could be more beneficial.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While refusing to go into the financial policy decision taken by the government, the bench said it is not open for the court to embark upon judicial review of policy decision merely at the behest of petitioners.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It said that complete waiver of interest is not possible as it will have huge financial implications.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, M.R. Shah and Sanjiv Khanna pronounced the judgment on a batch of pleas filed by various trade associations, including from real estate and power sectors, seeking extension of loan moratorium and other reliefs in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan had reserved its verdict on the batch of pleas on December 17, last year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Centre had earlier submitted before the top court that if it were to consider waiving interest on all the loans and advances to all categories of borrowers for the six-month moratorium period announced by RBI in view of COVID-19 pandemic, then the amount foregone would be more than Rs 6 lakh crore.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If the banks were to bear this burden, then it would necessarily wipe out a substantial and a major part of their net worth, rendering most of the lenders unviable and raising a very serious question mark over their very survival, it had said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government said this was a main reason as to why waiver of interest was not even contemplated and only payment of instalments was deferred.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Giving an illustration, it had said that in case of State Bank of India alone (which is the largest bank in the country), waiver of six months' interest would completely wipe out over half of the bank's net worth which has accumulated over nearly 65 years of its existence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It had pointed out the sector-specific relief measures taken by the government for the small and mid-sized business/MSMEs including from sectors such as restaurants and hotels.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Centre has promulgated emergency credit-linked guarantee scheme (ECLGS) of Rs 3 lakh crore providing additional credit at lower rate of interest, with 100 per cent government guarantee and no fresh collateral, it had said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The scheme has been extended with higher financial limits to twenty seven COVID-19 impacted sectors including restaurant and hotel sectors, it had said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On November 27 last year, the top court had asked the Centre to ensure that all steps be taken to implement its decision to forego interest on eight specified categories of loans paid up to Rs 2 crore in view of the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The apex court had noted that the moratorium period as granted by the Reserve Bank of India continued from March 3 to August 31, six months.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It had said the COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused serious threat to the health of the people but has also cast its shadow on the economic growth of the country as well as other countries in the entire world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The eight categories of loans are MSME (Micro, Small &amp; Medium Enterprises), Education, Housing, Consumer durable, Credit card, Automobile, Personal and Consumption.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The RBI had on March 27 issued the circular which allowed lending institutions to grant a moratorium on payment of instalments of term loans falling due between March 1 and May 31, 2020, due to the pandemic. Later, the moratorium was extended till August 31, 2020.</p> <p>(With PTI inputs)</p> Tue Mar 23 14:02:52 IST 2021 bill-to-increase-fdi-in-insurance-sector-gets-parliaments-nod <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A bill to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance sector from 49 per cent to 74 per cent was approved by Parliament with the Lok Sabha giving green signal to the legislation by a voice vote on Monday. Piloting the Bill, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said hiking the FDI limit in the insurance sector will help insurers to raise additional funds and tide over financial problems.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was earlier passed by the Rajya Sabha last week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The minister said the government will provide funds to the public sector insurance companies but the private players will have to raise capital on their own.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Observing that insurance companies are facing solvency related issues, she said, "if growth capital is hard to come by, there will be a stress situation. In order that the stress situation is not left unattended, we need to raise the FDI limit."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The COVID-19 pandemic, Sitharaman said, has further added to the woes of the insurance companies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The minister further said the FDI limit was being raised on the recommendations of the regulator IRDAI which had extensive consultations with stakeholders.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The FDI inflow in the insurance sector, the minister said, had increased significantly after the government decided to raise the cap from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in 2015.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As much as Rs 26,000 crore has come as FDI in the insurance sector since 2015, she said, adding the asset under management (AUM) in this sector has grown by 76 per cent during the last five years.&nbsp;</p> Mon Mar 22 16:07:00 IST 2021 four-states-seek-rs-16467-cr-special-financial-package-from-centre <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Four states, including Andhra Pradesh and Goa, have sought Rs 16,467 crore as special financial package from the government of India, Lok Sabha was informed on Monday. The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, has received requests from Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Nagaland for the special financial packages, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur said in a written reply.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Andhra Pradesh has sought release of Rs 700 crore under the Special Development Package for backward areas of the state, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The state government of Goa has sought a diamond jubilee year package amounting to Rs 500 crore for celebration of liberation from Portuguese rule. The state government of Manipur has sought a special economic package amounting to Rs 14,567 crore including various sectors of economy," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nagaland has sought a special assistance package amounting to Rs 700 crore covering various sectors of economy, he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Following the scheme guidelines, he said, the union government examines requests of the state governments and transfers resources to States as grants-in-aid subject to availability resources within gross budgetary support.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The release of funds to the state of Andhra Pradesh under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 is based on recommendations of the NITI Aayog subject to availability of resources with the union government within gross budgetary support, he said.</p> Mon Mar 22 15:44:50 IST 2021 oil-giant-saudi-aramco-sees-2020-profits-drop-to-dollar49-bn <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Saudi Arabia's state-backed oil giant Aramco announced Sunday that its profits nearly halved in 2020 to $49 billion, a big drop that came as the coronavirus pandemic roiled global energy markets. Saudi Arabian Oil Co released its annual financial results a year after the pandemic sent the price of oil crashing to all-time lows as people stopped moving around the world to stem the spread of the virus.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In recent weeks, however, the price has edged up as movement restrictions ease, commerce increases and more people get vaccinated against COVID-19. Still, analysts caution that a peak in demand may still be far off.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the 44 per cent drop in net income, Aramco said it would stick to its promise of paying quarterly dividends of $18.75 billion—$75 billion a year—due to commitments the company made to shareholders in the run-up to its initial public offering.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nearly all of the dividend money goes to the Saudi government, which owns more than 98 per cent of the company. Aramco's policy to pay dividends significantly higher than its 2020 free cash flow of $49 billion stands in sharp contrast to other oil giants that have cut payouts. Seeking a cash infusion to pay the billions of dollars in the face of dwindling revenue, Aramco recently has issued international bonds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The public figures, obligatory ever since the mostly state-owned company listed a sliver of its worth on Riyadh's Tadawul stock exchange in 2019, offer valuable insight into the health of the region's largest economy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's efforts to diversify the economy away from oil, the kingdom remains heavily dependent on oil exports to fuel government spending.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Saudi Aramco profit of $49 billion in 2020 is down from $88.2 billion in 2019 and $111.1 billion in 2018. Still, Aramco remains one of the world's most valuable companies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“In one of the most challenging years in recent history, Aramco demonstrated its unique value proposition through its considerable financial and operational agility,” President and CEO Amin H. Nasser said in a statement. “As a result, our financial position remained robust.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The company produced the equivalent of 9.2 million barrels per day of crude oil over the course of the year, its annual results said. Capital expenditure was down in 2020 to $27 billion compared to $32.8 billion the year before. Aramco expects to spend $35 billion this year, some $5-10 billion lower than previous estimates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Aramco facilities have come under increasing attack as Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels across the southern border target the kingdom's oil refineries and export terminals. In an interview with Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV on Sunday, Nasser said an Aramco facility in the capital of Riyadh struck by drones days before “has started to return to service,” adding that the company “has contingency plans to deal with any assault”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In recent months, oil prices have made a major comeback from April 2020, when the price of international benchmark Brent crude dipped below $20 a barrel. For the first time in a year, the price of Brent surpassed $60 a barrel last month and traded over $64 a barrel Sunday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The price increase has come as Saudi Arabia seems determined to curb output and support crude markets even as demand rises, with nations lifting lockdowns and accelerating vaccination campaigns.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nasser struck an optimistic note about the year ahead, saying that Aramco is “seeing a pick-up in demand in Asia and also positive signs elsewhere.” “We remain confident that we will emerge on the other side of this pandemic in a position of strength,” he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier this month, the kingdom said it would extend its voluntary production cut of 1 million barrels a day through to April. Most OPEC oil cartel and allied countries likewise left their production cuts in place — in stark contrast to March of last year when a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia prompted the two oil giants to unleash an onslaught of crude on the market as demand dipped.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Saudi officials have urged caution, arguing that global economic recovery may still be undermined by new coronavirus restrictions and fast-spreading virus variants.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Before December of 2019, when Aramco floated 1.5% of its shares on the stock exchange, the firm was owned directly by the Al Saud ruling family and didn't need to announce results.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Initially, Aramco listed at 32 riyals ($8.53) a share, becoming the world's most valuable listed company, with a market valuation of $1.7 trillion. Since then, however, Aramco lost its stock exchange crown to Apple as its value declined. On Sunday it traded around 35 riyals ($9.30) a share.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As oil prices fell and the virus coursed across the world, the Saudi economy has shown signs of strain. It shrank more than 4% last year, according to the government statistics agency. Despite spending cuts and efforts to ramp up non-oil revenue — including by tripling the value-added tax to 15 per cent—the government deficit widened. Last year, Saudi Arabia needed an oil price of more than $76 a barrel to balance its budget.&nbsp;</p> Mon Mar 22 11:43:21 IST 2021 from-security-guard-to-software-engineer-zoho-employees-story-goes-viral <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A Zoho employee’s heartening story has gone viral, after he made a LinkedIn post describing his journey from leaving his home with barely Rs 200 to spare, becoming a security guard at the software as a service firm (SAAS) and then learning enough coding to become a member of the technical team.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Abdul Alim shared his story in a long written post on LinkedIn, which accrued over 2.38 lakh likes and reactions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“In 2013, With just 1000 rupees, I left my home, spent 800 on a train ticket. After roaming for 2 months on the streets, finally found a job at a security desk,” Alim wrote.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“One day, one of the senior employees of the company, asked my name and said - Alim, I can see something in your eyes (sounds filmy I know). He asked me about my studies and my computer knowledge.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“In school I learned a little bit of HTML. Then he asked me If I want to learn more, and this is how My learning began. Since every day after completing my 12 hours security shift, I went to the senior and learned.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“About after eight months, I created a small app. An app that takes the user input and visualizes it. The senior employee showed the app to his manager and he liked it. He asked if it is possible to interview me.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I thought I will not be interviewed ever because I did not go to any college and studied only will 10th. He told that in Zoho You don't need a college degree, What matters here is you and your skills.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“And the day came, gave the interview and ..passed it. Today it is my 8th year in Zoho Corporation. I want to thank Shibu Alexis (the senior employee) for all the knowledge and lessons and Zoho Corporation for allowing me to prove myself. And on the final note, It is never too late to start learning,” he wrote.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Alim’s story has been shared before, usually in reference to Zoho’s “Zoho Schools” program that pays high school graduates to study and develop software and corporate skills.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Alim has also developed a COVID-19 tracker,</p> Sun Mar 21 19:01:55 IST 2021 20-states-complete-ease-of-doing-biz-reforms <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As many as 20 states have successfully completed 'ease of doing business' reforms, the Finance Ministry said on Saturday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>States completing the reforms are eligible for additional borrowing of 0.25 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The number of States who have successfully completed the 'ease of doing business' reforms has reached to 20. Five more states namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Meghalaya and Tripura have completed the 'Ease of Doing Business reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, the Ministry said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Department of Expenditure has granted permission to these 20 States to raise additional financial resources of Rs 39,521 crore through Open Market Borrowings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ease of doing business is an important indicator of the investment friendly business climate in the country. Improvements in the ease of doing business will enable faster future growth of the state economy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Therefore, the government of India had in May 2020, decided to link grant of additional borrowing permissions to States who undertake the reforms to facilitate ease of doing business, the Ministry added.&nbsp;</p> Sat Mar 20 22:21:21 IST 2021 taxpayers-can-use-itc-to-discharge-gst-dues-for-march <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Finance Ministry on Saturday said GST taxpayers can utilise the Input Tax Credit available in their credit ledger to discharge their GST dues for the month of March.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Taxpayers are free to utilise the Input Tax Credit available in their credit ledger, as permissible in law, to discharge their GST dues for the month of March, 2021&nbsp; the last month of this financial year, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) said in a statement.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections crossed the Rs 1 lakh crore mark for the fifth month in a row in February. The mop up in February was Rs 1.13 lakh crore.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Mar 20 22:18:59 IST 2021 a-karnataka-startup-helps-bcci-ensure-secure-bio-bubble-for-india-england-tour <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Ever wondered how the BCCI ensures a secure bio-bubble for players from India and England during the ongoing tour? SenseGiz, a Belgaum, Karnataka-based start-up, that specialises in IoT (Internet of Things) solutions, is the answer.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The startup's unique contact-tracing sports technology solution 'SenseGiz Sentinel Platform' is a virtual bio-bubble solution that can be deployed at any sporting event. It keeps all players, support staff, match officials and others involved safe within a dedicated zone. The IoT-based solution has unique features such as historic contact-tracing, geo-fencing, overcrowding, and real-time alerts on social distancing violations.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The recently concluded India-England Test Series used this solution. It was deployed at Chennai for the first two Tests and then at Ahmedabad for the remainder of the series. The solution has also been deployed at the Road Safety World Series (RSWS), a six-nation international T20 Cricket tournament in Raipur.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The solution was developed keeping certain challenges in mind. “There is always a challenge of cancellation of cricket matches due to bio-bubble failure owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are also chances of recurring Covid-19 outbreaks, inaccurate data or false alerts from bio-bubble and absence of restricted zones for players, support staff and hotel staff leading to violations.,” explained Abhishek Latthe, founder and CEO of SenseGiz Technologies.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All the players have to first register themselves and then each player or support staff is&nbsp; assigned a unique ‘FIND’ device. These devices are connected to the cloud and give real-time alerts on all violations and share reports on contact-tracing in case any player is detected for Covid-19. The solution operates like a hub-and-spoke architecture to create a biosecure environment. FIND device, used as a wristband, is a bluetooth-enabled IoT device that is tagged to each player within the bio-bubble and can enforce social-distancing between its users. A combination of other hardware devices communicate and push this critical data retrieved from the FIND devices to the cloud, and helps enforce social distancing and historical contact-tracing in real-time so that only the infected users and their immediate contacts can be isolated or quarantined.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A technology-driven bio-bubble includes the accommodation of all the players in the same hotel or resort. Under the bio-bubble, players are not allowed outside the bubble, except the resort or hotel, team buses and the stadium, so that they are kept isolated from the general public. The bio-bubble solution involved getting real-time data on violations and involves detailed historical contact-tracing.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It also helps in the creation of restricted zones based on their profiles and prevents overcrowding at key areas.&nbsp; It also helps in the frequent screening and testing during the event.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Devices are installed across all locations within the hotel, which helps the company identify social-distancing violations. The unique 'FIND' devices are allocated and handed over to all players, officials and support staff upon arrival. Geo-fencing and overcrowding is set for specific locations and social distancing violations are monitored from a central command center.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“If any player tests positive for Covid-19, we can access a detailed historical contact-tracing report and identify contacts that need to be quarantined as precaution helping in complete safety of players. A bio-bubble is created at the stadium dressing rooms, match officials room, commentators area, etc.&nbsp; Devices are installed at the stadium to help us identify social distancing violations. The bio-bubble is also created within moving buses which takes the players from the hotel to the stadium and back. Gateways are installed inside the bus to relay real time data to the command center," added Latthe.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Mar 20 16:52:34 IST 2021 cutting-across-party-lines-parliamentary-panel-urges-govt-to-implement-one-of-the-farm-laws <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A parliamentary panel has asked the government to implement in "letter and spirit" the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act—one of the laws against which farmers are protesting at Delhi borders for more than 100 days now. This panel also has members from opposition parties, including Congress, TMC and AAP. These parties have been demanding repeal of all three farm laws enacted by the Centre recently.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In its report tabled in the Lok Sabha on March 19, the Standing Committee on Food chaired by TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay recommended the government to "implement the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 in letter and spirit, and without let or hindrances so that the farmers and other stakeholders of farming sector in this country receive the benefits intended under the said Act".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It said although the country has become surplus in most agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export as entrepreneurs get discouraged by the regulatory mechanisms in the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"This has resulted in farmers suffering huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities, much of which could have been reduced with adequate processing facilities," the panel said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The panel also noted that even the High Powered Committee for Transformation of Indian Agriculture had suggested that there was a need to create an environment based on ease of doing business and for removing the fear of frequent statutory controls under the Essential Commodities Act in order to boost immediate investment in agriculture sector, increase competition and enhance farmers' income.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The Committee hope(s) and expect(s) that the recently enacted 'Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020', which was aimed at addressing the issue, will become a catalyst for unlocking vast untapped resources in the agriculture sector by creating an environment for enhanced investments in agriculture sector, fair and productive competition in agricultural marketing and increase farmers' income," the report added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Further, the panel asked the government to keep a close watch on prices of essential commodities and take remedial steps because commodities such as potato, onions and pulses are part of a common man's daily diet and that lakhs of people who do not get the benefits of Public Distribution System (PDS) and may suffer adversely in the aftermath of the implementation of the new Act.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides, the committee also asked the government to consider inclusion of more consumables in the list of essential commodities, particularly those which directly affect the health of all consumers and are useful for village and town dwellers, and subsidise these products.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are camping at Delhi borders seeking repeal of the three farm laws for last 114 days.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So far, 11 rounds of talks between the government and protesting farm unions have failed to yield any result although the government has offered to suspend implementation of these laws for 18 months.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, a Supreme Court appointed panel is examining the matter and expected to submit a report in this regard anytime soon.&nbsp;</p> Sat Mar 20 13:46:23 IST 2021 farmers-struggle-to-recover-costs-as-potato-prices-crash-50-to-rs-5-6-per-kg <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Potato prices in both producing and consuming areas across India have crashed 50 per cent to Rs 5-6 per kg this year on account of good rabi (winter) crop, as per the government data.</p> <p>While consumers are getting potato, the key kitchen staple, at very low prices at present but farmers are struggling to even recover their production costs. As per the analysis of data on potato prices maintained by the Food Processing Ministry, the wholesale rates in 25 out of 60-odd key producing areas spread over Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar were ruling 50 per cent lower on March 20 when compared to the year-ago period.</p> <p>In fact, wholesale prices of potato on March 20 were ruling below three years' average at Rs 6 per kg in Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh as well as in Deesha, Gujarat.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>In the year-ago period, wholesale potato prices were at Rs 8-9 per kg on a lower side, only in some districts of Uttar Pradesh alone. Whereas in other states, the prices were above Rs 10 per kg and were quoting Rs up to 23 per kg in wholesale mandis.<br> </p> <p>Similarly, in consuming areas, wholesale prices of potato on March 20 were ruling 50 per cent lower than the year-ago period in as many as 12 out of 16 consuming centres including Delhi tracked by the ministry.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>For instance, wholesale prices of potato were ruling as low as Rs 5 per kg in Amritsar (Punjab) and Delhi on March 20. The maximum price quoted for potato was Rs 17 per kg in Chennai, the data showed.<br> </p> <p>A similar trend was seen in retail markets.<br> </p> <p>The data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry showed modal retail prices ruling as low as Rs 10 per kg on March 20 as against Rs 20 per kg in the year-ago period.&nbsp;</p> <p>For example in Delhi, retail price of potato quoted Rs 15 per kg on March 20 this year as against Rs 30 per kg a year ago, the data showed.&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking to PTI, Consumer Affairs Secretary Leena Nandan said, "We track prices from the consumer side. There is a very good potato harvest in line with what's been anticipated this time. There is good arrival in the mandi and retail prices are very good for consumers."<br> </p> <p>Asked about farmers not getting good rates for potato produce, the Secretary said this issue is handled by the agriculture ministry, which might be working on some proposal.<br> </p> <p>The current crop being harvested was grown during the rabi season of the 2020-21 (July-June), she added.&nbsp;</p> <p>Potato is mainly a winter crop and rabi season accounts for approximately 85-90 per cent of total production in India. Out of total rabi production harvested during March-April, 60-70 per cent goes into cold stores. This is consumed the rest of the year till fresh crop starts from Punjab during November.</p> <p>Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab and Gujarat are the major producing states in India. Annual domestic table consumption varies between 32-35 million tonnes, depending upon prices and availability.</p> <p>India produces around 50 million tonnes of potato annually from an average area of 21 lakh hectares with average yield of 22-24 tonnes per hectare, as per the agriculture ministry data.&nbsp;</p> <p>India ranks third in potato production area and second in production in the world after China.&nbsp;<br> </p> Sun Mar 21 22:04:12 IST 2021 delhi-hc-stays-order-restraining-future-group-to-go-ahead-with-reliance-deal <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Delhi High Court on Monday stayed its last week’s order upholding an emergency arbitrator award restraining Future Retail Limited (FRL) from going ahead with its assets sale deal with Reliance Retail.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A Division Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh stayed the March 18 order of Justice J.R. Midha ordering attachment of the assets of Future Coupons Private Limited (FCPL), FRL, Kishore Biyani and 10 others promoters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Senior Advocate Harish Salve appeared for Future Retail Ltd and sought for stay of the single bench order, which had also imposed a cost of Rs 20 lakhs on Future Group and its promoters including Kishore Biyani.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to a LiveLaw report, Salve submitted that the matter was under consideration before the Supreme Court in the SLP filed by Amazon against an earlier stay order passed by the division bench with respect to the status-quo order passed by the single bench on the Future-Reliance deal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After hearing the parties, the court decided to stay the single judge order. The matter would be heard next on April 30.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The single judge's order had come on Amazon's plea seeking direction to order enforcement of the award by Singapore's Emergency Arbitrator's on October 25, 2020, restraining Future Retail from going ahead with its Rs 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Mar 22 13:02:18 IST 2021 whatsapp-instagram-messenger-and-facebook-reported-down <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Many of the major social networks and messaging apps owned by social media giant Facebook were reported down on Friday night, according to users. While Facebook has not released a statement on the issue, numerous users experienced problems with apps like <a href="">Instagram</a>, <a href="">WhatsApp</a>, <a href="">Facebook Messenger</a> and <a href="">Facebook</a> itself.</p> <p>Website, which compiles user reports of outages, showed all four apps were having issues, with a spike in the number of outages from approximately 10.38pm IST.</p> <p>Downdetector's official account tweeted saying, &quot;User reports indicate Facebook Messenger is having problems since 1:35 PM EDT.&quot;</p> <p>Facebook's own tool, '<a href="">Platform status</a>', said the Facebook platform was healthy and not experiencing any issues.</p> <p>As happened when WhatsApp announced its new privacy policy earlier, Signal started to trend on social media as reports of WhatsApp being down increased.</p> <p>As of 11.47pm IST, Instagram and WhatsApp were reported to be coming back online.</p> Fri Mar 19 23:48:20 IST 2021 serum-institute-to-delay-vaccine-shipments-to-saudi-arabia-brazil-and-morocco-report <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Days after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was receiving fewer vaccines than planned for due to a delay in shipment from the Serum Institute of India and other factors, the world’s largest vaccine maker is now reported to be delaying shipments to Brazil, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.</p> <p><br> A <a href="">Reuters</a> report, citing sources with knowledge of the matter, said SII had informed Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Moroccoa that further supplies of its AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine would be delayed due to the surging demand in India, and amid the company’s own capacity expansion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to a Times of India report, SII noted that the company had signed “additional agreements with governments outside the scope of its original sublicense agreement with AstraZeneca” and to meet the addition requirements, the company worked on expanding its manufacturing facilities. However, the fire at a manufacturing facility in Pune in January has “caused obstacles” to the company’s expansion of monthly manufacturing output.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the report, SII is working on expanding its monthly production to 100 million doses by April-May, up from the 60-70 million doses being made now. SII has partnered with AstraZeneca, the Gates Foundation and the Gavi vaccine alliance to make up to a billion doses for poorer countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India has already sent 40 lakh doses to Brazil, 70 lakh doses to Morocca and 30 lakh doses to Saudi Arabia (out of two crore doses that were ordered), according to the <a href="">Ministry of External Affairs</a>. Brazil and Saudi Arabia have both ordered two crore doses each.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides needing to fulfil its obligations to other countries, SII is also faced with India’s growing domestic urgency for vaccines. A surging second wave of cases has highlighted the need to speed up the pace of vaccinations in the country, a point that was recently noted by the RBI Deputy Governor M.D. Patra.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun Mar 21 17:23:14 IST 2021 george-floyd-case-judge-oks-some-evidence-from-2019-arrest-in-chauvins-trial <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The judge overseeing the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd said Friday that he'll allow the jury to hear <a href="" style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); font-size: 0.8125rem;">some evidence about a prior arrest in which Floyd was found with drugs</a><span style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">.</span><br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill partially granted a defense motion to allow evidence of Floyd's arrest in Minneapolis in May 2019, just over a year before his death.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;A lawyer defending former officer Derek Chauvin argued this week that he should be allowed to bring up the arrest in an effort to show jurors that Floyd was partly to blame for his own death.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;He said there were similarities between both incidents and that the evidence is relevant to the cause of Floyd's death, which is in dispute.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;But a prosecutor argued the 2019 arrest is irrelevant and that the defense was simply trying to smear Floyd to excuse the actions of Chauvin, who is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Just two more jurors were needed for the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd's death, as the judge prepared to rule Friday on two major motions including whether to allow evidence from Floyd's earlier 2019 arrest.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;The 12 jurors seated through Thursday are evenly split by race, with six white jurors, four Black and two multiracial, according to the court. The last two jurors chosen will be alternates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Opening statements are March 29 if the jury is complete. That process was on track to finish nearly a week early despite news that the city would pay a USD 27 million settlement to Floyd's family.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Former officer Derek Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of Floyd, a Black man who was declared dead after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against his neck for about nine minutes. Floyd's death, captured on bystander video, set off weeks of sometimes-violent protests across the country and led to a national reckoning on racial justice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill was to rule Friday on Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson 's motion to halt or move the trial due to concerns that the settlement had tainted the jury pool.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;But Cahill denied similar motions last year, and though some potential jurors were dismissed because they said news of the settlement would influence them, others were seated after saying either they hadn't heard of it or could set it aside.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;A likely bigger issue was Floyd's 2019 arrest, just a year before his fatal encounter with Chauvin.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Cahill also previously denied the defense's attempt to allow the year-old arrest at trial. But he heard fresh arguments this week because of drugs found in January in a second search of the police SUV in which the four officers attempted to put Floyd in 2020.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Nelson argued that similarities between the encounters are relevant, with Floyd calling out for his mother, claiming he had been shot before, crying and putting what appeared to be pills in his mouth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Prosecutor Matthew Frank said the defense was simply looking for a backdoor way to portray Floyd as a bad person, and the only relevant issue in Floyd's death is how he was treated by police.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Jurors added Thursday include a white registered nurse in her 50s who assured the court that she wouldn't draw on her medical knowledge at Chauvin's trial, and a Black woman in her 60s who said she didn't watch the entire bystander video of Floyd's arrest and didn't know enough to form a firm opinion of Chauvin or Floyd.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;The 12th juror seated, a white woman in her 40s who works in commercial insurance, said she has experience with someone who struggled with alcohol, and might view someone who uses drugs cautiously, saying they could act violently or aggressively when under the influence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;But she said she doesn't believe someone who uses drugs or doesn't cooperate with police should be treated poorly. If someone uses drugs, I don't think there should be ramifications of violence for that, she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;Three other former officers face an August trial in Floyd's death on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.</p> Fri Mar 19 22:41:22 IST 2021 marc-llistosella-not-to-take-over-as-tata-motors-ceo <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A month after announcing that Daimler India MD and CEO Mark Llistosella would be taking over operations at Tata Motors, the Ratan Tata-led company has announced that he will not be doing so. Guenter Butschek will continue in his current role as CEO and MD till June 30, 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a regulatory filing, the company announced that Marc Llistosella Bischoff would no longer be joining Tata Motors as its CEO and managing director. Llistosella was to join the company from July 1, 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tata Motors now has less than three months to find a successor for Butschek, who had reportedly expressed his desire to shift to Germany at the end of his contract due to personal reasons.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Mar 19 22:26:49 IST 2021