Reflecting the series of policy reforms taken by the Indian government as well as various state governments’, India has jumped 23 positions in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report 2019, reaching 77th position from its rank of 100 in 2017, among the 190 countries assessed by the World Bank. “With 13 reforms between them, China and India — two of the world’s largest economies — are among the 10 top improvers,” the World Bank had said in its report. The policy initiatives do reflect in the Global Competitiveness Index 4.0 2018 Rankings as well, where India is currently ranked at 58th, up 5 positions from last year. In its annual report, the World Economic Forum observed, “India has demonstrated sizeable improvements over the past year. Compared with the 2017 back cast edition, India is up five places, the largest gain by any of the G20 economies.”
(Inc42, Nov 08, 2018)
Foreign companies left out of the deliberations in the initial round of the e-commerce policy have approached the government to be consulted by the committee of secretaries. During the initial discussions on the draft e-commerce policy released in July, the government had invited e-commerce and internet companies with Indian-led promoters to be part of the task force that deliberated on the draft policy, leaving the foreign companies upset. This time, Industries bodies like US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) have sent formal representations to the ministry of commerce and industry to be included in the drafting of the e-commerce bill.
(The Indian Wire, Sep 22, 2018)
The commerce department has asserted that India requires a domestic ecommerce policy as there was pressure from developed countries on it to take part in WTO negotiations on online trade and also to counter China’s domination in the digital space. The commerce department’s draft ecommerce policy has come in for criticism from several quarters including government departments and ministers, as reported by ET on Wednesday. But a commerce department official said such a policy was needed by India to safeguard its interests and other ministries and departments were shying away from their responsibilities. The idea of the policy was to create a robust information base, facilitate an ecosystem for domestic economy, strengthen consumer protection in the ecommerce space, ensure safety of personal and community data in the country and become WTO compliant, said another official justifying the department’s initiative.
(ET, Aug 10, 2018)
The controversial draft policy on ecommerce, which proposes up to 49% foreign direct investment (FDI) in inventory-based ecommerce and pitches for data localisation, has irked various ministries and government departments, with many questioning the rationale behind key proposals.
Sources told ET that some ministries and departments feel the draft policy encroaches on their domain as it deals with many issues outside the remit of the commerce department, which is looking to issue a draft within the next 10 days after incorporating the views of stakeholders. These ministries have expressed their reservations during consultations and are expected to put their objections in writing, the people said.
The department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) did not favour an upfront FDI cap for inventory based models. The policy proposes up to 49% FDI in such Indian-controlled entities for 100% locally made goods.
(ET, Aug 09, 2018)
The second draft of e-commerce policy incorporating inputs from stake-holders is expected to be placed in public domain in a fortnight, a senior official said. “The Government wants the e-commerce policy to be in place as soon as possible,” the Joint Secretary. In the Commerce and Industry Ministry, Sudhanshu Pandey, said at a roundtable organized by traders’ body CAIT. The government has an open mind regarding e-commerce policy and based on suggestions and inputs received from the stakeholders, the second draft of the e-commerce policy would be placed in public domain likely in the next fortnight, the official said.
TOI, Aug 08, 2018)
The draft National E-Commerce policy, of which MediaNama has a copy (pdf), includes debatable requirements like data localisation, an audit of foreign companies’ source code, mandating RuPay on every e-commerce website, using Jan Dhan account transactions to create a creditworthiness profile of individual users, amongst others. The 19-page policy is representative of the interests of the government-constituted ecommerce think tank. It prioritizes e-commerce brands which have already been set up in India, and has clauses that discourage the free inflow of foreign capital in e-commerce. This could end up complicating things for the entire Indian e-commerce ecosystem, including consumers. The membership to the think tank excludes foreign-based brands like Amazon, Uber, Visa, MasterCard and others while accommodating companies started in India (though not necessarily incorporated here) like Flipkart, Jio, Ola, MakeMyTrip, Infosys, WIPRO, Paytm, and so on. Like the National Education and the National Telecom Policies which guide the government’s approach for over 10 years, the draft National Electronic Commerce Policy will steer the approach of the government towards e-retailers, digital service providers and anyone else who conducts e-commerce in India.
(Medianama, Aug 07, 2018)
The Digital India programme has transformed into a "mass movement" and the government will soon finalize a new electronics policy to build on the momentum, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said. It will also push ahead to meet the ambitious goal of increasing the size of India's digital economy to $1 trillion in the coming years. We are soon going to finalize the new electronics policy whose sub-segment will be export-oriented initiatives in the field of electronics. The idea is to make India a big hub of electronics manufacturing to serve domestic as well as outside markets," Prasad told PTI.
(TOI, May 27, 2018)
The government is drafting the upcoming National Electronics Policy (NEP) with an increased focus on exports as it looks to harness the local capacity in electronic goods, including smartphones built for the domestic market, a top official told ET. The idea is to ensure that there is no excess manufacturing capacity and instead utilize the same to build products for customers globally. India is producing close to 22.5 crore mobile phones and the total consumption is around 35 crore in India currently.
(ET, May 24, 2018)
TAIPA; The proposed telecom policy addresses issues of all players, but only its effective implementation will determine the growth of the sector, Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) today said.
"It (telecom policy) is the first right step but the most critical part will be the on-ground implementation and alignment of state governments with central government's rulings and guidelines," TAIPA Director General TR Dua told . He said the draft policy addresses issues with regards to all stakeholders but its implementation will be the most critical part to shape up the sector and prepare the country for the future.
Telecom infrastructure companies, mainly mobile tower firms, continue to face challenge while rolling out networks despite central government notifying 'Right of Way (RoW) rules, which refer to norms for rolling out telecom infrastructure.The draft National Digital Communications Policy, 2018 proposes to create a broadband readiness index for states and union territories that will help them attract investments and address RoW issues.
(TOI, May 08, 2018)
Moneycontrol reported that at the Annual General Meeting of US industry body Amcham, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan informed that the direction of the new policy, which is likely to be early as on May 1, will be reform-oriented.
She further said that it will be investor friendly and bring down the cost of compliances and that the proposed NTP 2018 will be placed for public comments for 15-20 days.
After the public comments, the Department of Telecom (DoT) will start inter-ministerial consultation on the policy and thereafter approach the Cabinet for final approval, she said.
The NTP 2018 is expected to present a growth road map of the Indian telecom sector, which is reeling under debt of around Rs. 7.8 lakh crore, for a period of next five years. Telecom operators have demanded that the government lower spectrum usage charges, licence fees and other levies on the sector to make business viable.
(Electronics B2B.com, Apr 27, 2018)
A think tank of key stakeholders headed by commerce minister Suresh Prabhu will finalize a framework for a national e-commerce policy in six months’ time that will settle India’s stand on key issues such as taxation, competition policy, foreign investment and server localization, among others.
India has been finding it difficult to arrive at a consensus on a domestic e-commerce policy to effectively respond to a proposal for multilateral discipline in e-commerce at the World Trade Organization (WTO) as various government departments have contradictory views on the matter, Mint first reported on 7 March, 2017.
For example, while the department of telecom wants server locations of global e-commerce companies operating in India to be based in the country, the ministry of electronics and information technology supports no such restriction.
(LiveMint, Apr 25, 2018)
The government has halved the basic custom duty on open cell displays used in the manufacturing of LED television panels whereby leading television makers like Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sony are now likely to roll back the price increase on television sets.
A notification issued by finance ministry on Friday evening said the government has reduced duties on open cell displays of 15.6-inch and above from 10% to 5%. This constitutes almost 95% of the television market. The government had imposed 10% duty on open cell panels in the last Budget as compared to nil which was earlier.
(E, Mar 23, 2018)
Union Minister Manoj Sinha on Tuesday said the new telecom policy is almost ready and will be brought in the next session of Parliament after a Cabinet nod.
“The new telecom policy is almost ready, and, this month, we will place it on the Department’s website for public comments. We will bring it in the next session of Parliament,” said Sinha on the sidelines of ‘Deendayal SPARSH Yojana’ award ceremony.
He said the recent Cabinet nod to the telecom relief package — that entails giving more time to companies to pay for the spectrum they bought as well as liberalized spectrum caps — will ensure that the historic success of the sector continues unabated.
(Business Line, Mar 21, 2018)
Responding to exporters’ complaints that field officers were arbitrarily demanding documents for processing Goods and Services Tax (GST) refund claims, which was leading to rejection of several applications, the Centre has decided to notify a standardized list of documents that all officers will have to stick to while processing claims.
“The Revenue Department has agreed to come up with a specific list of documents so that exporters know what papers to produce while claiming refunds and can't be harassed for more,” a government official told Business Line.
The standardized list will be circulated to all field offices and States and it would be made clear to all that no document beyond what is mentioned in the list could be demanded from exporters, the official added.
(Business Line, Mar 21, 2018)
Increasing import duty hikes on electronic goods has left the sector in limbo. The surge in rates in recent months, once in December last year and another in the Union Budget in February has put pressure on vendors, and traders fear it may affect margins. And with no new proposals on the cards to set up component manufacturing units, Chinese firms assembling locally in the country are expected to be at an advantage against their Indian counterparts
Since last December, import duty on electronic goods, including cellphones, smart watches and wearables, have gone up to 20 per cent from 10 per cent. For key components such as printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) for handsets and LCD, LED and OLED panels for televisions, the rate has been hiked to 15 per cent from almost zero.
(BS, Mar 12, 2018)
The government must be disruptive in its fiscal incentives and offer policy certainty to attract investment in the upstream sector to meet its ambition of cutting oil import by a tenth, the chief executive of Vedanta’s Oil and Gas business has said.
Vedanta has submitted 13 applications for exploration licenses and may bid for more in the first auction for exploration licenses and may bid for more in the first auction under the new licensing policy, which is under way, Sudhir Mathur, CEO of Vedanta’s Oil and Gas unit, told ET in an interview. But for the licencing rounds to succeed, the government must offer contacts for longer 30-year horizon so that companies can plan investments with certainty, and clearly defined, fiscal terms that can’t be overridden by new policy measures, he said.
(ET, Feb 13, 2018)
The country’s top angel networks are in active consultations with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on giving formal recognition to angel groups. “The DIPP is very receptive to the idea of giving legal recognition to angel groups and is looking at finding ways to resolve the issue,” said a person closely aware of the developments.
As per industry insiders, there are two suggested ways to certify or give a legal structure to angel networks which channel a large number of angel deals. One of them is the ‘angel fund’ structure wherein angel networks would be recognised by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) with their members continuing to invest in individual capacities as angel investors.
(ET, Feb 19, 2018)
The New Industrial Policy will focus on reducing regulations and promoting ease of doing business at the district level, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu has said.
Interacting with members of industry body CII the Miister said India will become a $5 trillion economy within the next 7-8 years and the manufacturing sector is expected to contribute $1 trillion to it.
(BusinessLine, Feb 07, 2018)
Increasing import duty on toys and artificial jewellery will do little to cut the country’s dependence on Chinese imports in these sectors, according to domestic players, who say the government should instead raise the local industry’s ability to compete better.
The Indian toy industry is worth about Rs.9,500 crore. Electric toys attract 18% GST against the earlier 12% value-added tax (VAT) while other toys attract 12% GST versus 5% VAT earlier.
(ET, Feb 06, 2018)
The Director General (Safeguards) has recommended imposing a 70% safeguard duty on imported solar cells, panels and modules for a minimum period of 200 days, likely dealing another blow for developers who bid for projects at progressively lower prices.
Responding to a complaint from domestic solar manufacturers, DG (Safeguards) Sandeep M Bhatnagar carried out a preliminary enquiry after which he agreed that “critical circumstances very much exist warranting the immediate imposition of safeguard measures.”
The Indian Solar Manufacturers Association had filed a petition on December 5, seeking the imposition of safeguard duty on imported solar equipment because their prospects were being hurt.
(ET, Jan 10, 2018)
The Centre may have doubled import duties on high-end televisions and microwaves to encourage domestic production of these goods but manufacturers are in no mood to make higher capital investments. Most players plan to bring in completely knocked down (CKD) components as these can be imported at zero duty.
MNCs like LG and Samsung and even domestic players like Mirc Electronics, Videocon, Intex and Godrej Appliances are not planning any additional capex as importing CKD kits from places like China and Taiwan will continue to be the norm for the industry. The ecosystem to support complete manufacturing of these durables in the country is yet to develop, say players.
“Unless the entire ecosystem develops for manufacturing components like glass, LED lights and diffusers for making panels for televisions, it is not possible to have ‘Made in India’ television sets. Companies, which were importing SKD (semi-knocked down) kits before import duties were doubled, will now have CKD kits for making television panels as they attract zero per cent import duty,’’ says Jayesh Parekh, Business Head - Consumer Durables, Intex.
(Business Line, Jan 03, 2018)
Carmakers have sought a number of incentives to push electric vehicles — a 5 per cent goods and services tax (GST), income tax (I-T) benefits, waiver on road tax and toll charges, free parking, and a 50 per cent reduction in power tariff for charging these vehicles.
The domestic automobile industry, which has slowly but surely started taking small steps towards electric mobility, has said it will take another thirty years to achieve hundred per cent electrification in new sales. In a white paper submitted to the government, industry body Siam said by 2047, it aims to convert all new vehicle sales to electric. The government had been talking of an ambitious deadline of 2030 for moving all new vehicle sales to electric.
(BS, Dec 21, 2017)
The recent hike in customs duty on electronic goods is expected to not only discourage imports and boost domestic manufacturing, but could also benefit the Exchequer in a year of muted revenue growth.
The duty increase may help in netting about an additional Rs.2,000 crore this fiscal, sources said, pointing out that electronic goods have become one of the major imports items. The Finance Ministry had last week increased the import duty on electronic goods such as television sets and microwaves to 20 per cent and that on mobile phones to 15 per cent.
“It will have the twin objective of boosting local manufacturing that will increase revenue from the Goods and Services Tax and also by making imports costlier,” noted an expert. Imports of electronics surged 24.97 per cent in November this year to $4,371.98 million from $3,498.44 a year ago.
This could provide some comfort to the government, which is faced with an uphill task in meeting the direct and indirect tax collections target for 2017-18. Revenue collection from GST is estimated to have declined significantly to Rs.83,346 crore in October compared with Rs.92,000 crore in September.
Similarly, customs duty receipts have also been subdued with net collection in October estimated at Rs.7,371 crore as against Rs.18,884 crore in the corresponding period a year ago. The Centre is also expected to lose Rs.13,000 crore from the excise duty cut of Rs.2 per litre on petrol and diesel.
(Business Line, Dec 20, 2017)
To encourage Information Technology, food processing, textiles, apparels and leather industries in Bihar, the state government would give 10 per cent interest grant on bank loans of those industries, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said.
He said the state government would also give grant on payments made to Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) and ESI (Employees' State Insurance) by those industries and would give of Rs 20,000 per person employed in such industry.
Addressing the inaugural session of "Yuva Udyami Sammelan" (young entrepreneurs' conference), he said loans totalling Rs 14,861 crore had been given by banks to service, trading and manufacturing sectors in 2016-17 while about Rs 17,000 crore would be given in the current financial year through various means.
He also said the government would solve the problem of land by providing floor space to non-polluting industrial units through multistoried industrial parks in the state.
(TOI, Dec 20, 2017)
Parrikar, who chaired the Cabinet meeting, also said the policy would come into force by the end of current financial year. According to PTI, The Goa Cabinet on Wednesday approved the much-awaited Solar Power Policy, under which the State expects to generate 150 MW of solar power by 2021, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said.
“It will take two-three months to have proper documentation for the policy and by the end of this financial year, it will become functional,” he said. The Chief Minister said the policy is divided into three categories, which includes even a unit producing up to 100 KV power.
Residential societies, which can generate less than 100 KV power would be compensated by the government under this policy as per the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission rates depending on the gross metering, he said. The units producing more than 100 KV power will be compensated on net metering as the unit operator would be participating in the reverse gridding of the power, he said. The policy also encourages power generation by individuals, who either have their own land where they can set up the unit or can procure NOC from the land owners for it, Parrikar said.
“The land owner would be spared from the process of conversion of his land or permission from local panchayat or civic body, if he is installing solar power generation plant under the policy,” he said. “In such circumstances, the power producer will have to show the documents of the land and bank guarantee of six months. But the unit operator would be penalised in case of non-supply of power to the government or delay in it,” he said. “Lot of people were anticipating the Solar Power Policy. We had extensive discussions before finalising it.”
“It will take two-three months to have proper documentation for the policy and by the end of this financial year, it will become functional,” he said. The Chief Minister said the policy is divided into three categories, which includes even a unit producing up to 100 KV power. Residential societies, which can generate less than 100 KV power would be compensated by the government under this policy as per the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission rates depending on the gross metering, he said.
The units producing more than 100 KV power will be compensated on net metering as the unit operator would be participating in the reverse gridding of the power, he said. The policy also encourages power generation by individuals, who either have their own land where they can set up the unit or can procure NOC from the land owners for it, Parrikar said. “The land owner would be spared from the process of conversion of his land or permission from local panchayat or civic body, if he is installing solar power generation plant under the policy,” he said. “In such circumstances, the power producer will have to show the documents of the land and bank guarantee of six months. But the unit operator would be penalised in case of non-supply of power to the government or delay in it,” he said.
The industry has welcomed the initiatives taken in the mid-term review of Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) – 2015-20, specifically the 2% increase in rates under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) and Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS), as well as the raising of validity period of duty credit scrips from 18 to 24 months.
Welcoming the FTP’s mid-term review, Ganesh Kumar Gupta, President, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said that the 2% increase in the MEIS rates for labour intensive sectors such as leather, carpets, handicrafts, tools, marine, medical & scientific products and services such as accountancy, architecture, legal, education, hotel and restaurant will provide much needed respite to these sectors which are facing huge competitiveness from other countries.
For more details, please visite: https://www.thedollarbusiness.com/news/ftp-review-industry-welcomes-meis-seis-incentives-hike-in-duty-credit-scrips-validity/51507
List of Electronic items on which GST reduced from 28% to 18% (As announced on 10th November 2017)
In order to strengthen the ongoing momentum in domestic production of electronic goods, the government is looking at drafting a new electronics manufacturing policy and as a first step, a consultation with the industry and other stakeholders is slotted for the last week of September.
According to a senior official of the ministry of electronics and IT (MEITY), work has already started on new draft.
The idea is that we have reached a certain level of momentum, now how do we take off from there,” Ajay Kumar, additional secretary, MEITY told ET. One of the big focus areas of the current government has been to develop India not only as a domestic manufacturing hub but also as a large-scale export destination.
Kumar added that due to continuous efforts of the last few years, India has already taken a lead in the areas such as mobile manufacturing, automotive, LED and consumer appliances.
(ET Sep 17, 2017)
The government will come out with a new electronics manufacturing policy better aligned to the present times and an overarching data protection and security policy, electronics and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Friday. He was speaking after a high-level meeting with tech industry captains including Rishad Premji of Wipro, Rajan Anandan of Google, Vanitha Narayanan of IBM and Kavin Bharti Mittal of Hike.
After a brainstorming session that lasted for over two hours and was meant to work out a road map for the $1-trillion digital economy, Prasad said some participants spoke about the need for developing startup clusters which will be like special innovation zones where startups can work together.
“We will look at developing a framework for a startup clusters policy,“ he said.
Prasad said there was “unanimity“ about the fact that $1 trillion is an understatement and the Digital India offered big opportunities in ecommerce, artificial intelligence and internet of things. He reiterated his earlier statement that job losses concerns in the IT industry are hyped and possibly “motivated.“
(ET, June 17, 2017)
Eighteen months after it cleared out of Tamil Nadu with its sole buyer the Nokia factory downing shutters, Taiwanese phone-maker Foxconn has now matched the peak job creation levels it had touched while it was operational near Chennai. Foxconn has 12,000 workers now putting smartphones together from inside five factory units of Foxconn in Andhra Pradesh's Sri City. It makes well over one lakh phones a day.
Foxconn was one of the large factories to close down in Tamil Nadu and re-emerge within two months across the border in Andhra Pradesh to make smartphones. It started off in a small way, not dissimilar to a trail unit, to make smartphones on contract. As it revved up production, the Centre rolled out a duty structure that made it cheaper to make phones in India than import from China.
Called the Phased Manufacturing Programme, the duty incentives restricted to phones were spread across to 14 components that included chargers, adaptors, battery packs, wired handsets. But now, a crucial tax tweak offered over the last two years that incentivised domestic manufacture of electronic items could go with the introduction of GST; an imminent development that is a cause for concern for manufacturers like Foxconn, component producers and other players in the electronics industry.
“Foxconn had recently recruited from 13 districts across Andhra Pradesh.Clients include Xiaomi, Oppo, and HMD Global (which is the licenced producer of Nokia-branded smartphones, feature phones and tablets). The company recruited 2,000 workers just in the last one month as client demand is such,“ said a company official aware of developments at Foxconn.
It is not just Foxconn revving ahead. Salcomp, which used to supply power set-ups to the former Nokia factory, has just restarted production at the factory inside the Nokia Telecom SEZ. The company's chief executive officer Markku Hangasjarvi told ET in a recent interaction that the company was planning to “significantly expand Indian operations.“ Sasikumar Gendham, the India head of the company, told ET: “We have all approvals for our third factory in India but from the state government in Tamil Nadu, which will be obtained soon.
Even as we expand operations, the whole supply chain should be aligned properly. For example, under GST, the mobile phones will attract 12% but the chargers 28%. Obviously, it cannot be so. The Centre knows about this anomaly and will act, I am sure.“
Pressure groups working for continuation of the duty structure under GST regime have been lobbying hard with the Central government. Fast Track Task Force (FTTF), set up with a target to create 15 lakh jobs by 2020 through a 3-lakh crore phone manufacturing industry. Pankaj Mohindroo, national president for FTTF, said: “The Centre is extreme ly aware and focused on perils of not continuing the duty differential regime under GST. A mechanism is being worked out. Nearly two lakh jobs are on the line. Only July 1, all that has been built for making phones in India will collapse.
If the incentives are not perpetuated under GST, it will be the largest reversal from a Make in India standpoint.“ Union commerce ministry representatives could not be reached for a comment.
Mobile phone operators plan to make a presentation to an inter-ministerial group to the effect that the government's decision to impose goods and services tax of 18% will aggravate the financial woes of the beleaguered telecom industry that is already saddled with nearly ` . 4.9 lakh crore of debt.
The government has set GST for telecom services higher than 15% that telcos currently pay towards service tax.
“Telcos will make a presentation to the IMG (inter-ministerial group) next month on the dismal financial health of the heavily debt-laden telecom industry and communicate their disappointment by stressing how a higher GST of 18% will further hurt the sector and undermine company earnings in coming quarters,“ said Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India.
The COAI represents India's top phone companies such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm, among others.
The inter-ministerial panel was recently constituted to examine the mounting financial stress levels of the telecom sector after the Reserve Bank of India last month alerted banks to review their exposure in phone companies and make higher provisions to firewall their future business.
Telcos, Mathews said, are likely to seek the panel's early intervention through suitable corrective measures since the higher GST rate could hurt bottom lines, increase balance sheet stress levels and undermine the overall ability of the telcos to repay their mammoth dues.
In presentation to the panel, telcos are likely to stress that the telecom industry is among the heaviest taxed sectors and already pays about 30% of its earnings in taxes and levies, including spectrum usage charge and licence fees, and a higher payout towards GST from July will only make matter worse at a time when this hypercompetitive sector is in the midst of a brutal price war.
At present, telcos pay about 8% of revenue towards licence fees and another 3% as spectrum usage charge.
Another senior industry executive aware of the nuances did not rule out the possibility of a Big Four consulting firm preparing a detailed note on the debilitating impact of higher GST rates on an already severely stressed sector in the run-up to the presentation to the inter-ministerial group.
Mobile phone bills are set to get costlier and talk time for prepaid users will stand reduced with the government pegging GST for telecom services at 18%.
According to tax experts, unlike other sectors such as automobiles, the beneficial impact of increased tax credits will be negligible for telecom companies, which will make voice and data services more expensive for the consumer, and in turn, may hit consumption levels and telco earnings.
(ET, May 22, 2017)
While small and medium businesses are expected to face teething trouble in complying with the Goods and Services Tax regime, the new tax system will also open an opportunity for them to access credit as GST filings are set to become a significant data source for flow-based lending.
Both banks and digital lending players say GST filings can be the best trove of information to lend to small businesses and will also reduce risks and cut costs while scoring these businesses for credit worthiness.
“GST will help make invoicing and data analytics around businesses more credible. In the long term, it will be beneficial for both SMEs and lenders,” said Rajeev Ahuja, head of strategy, retail and financial inclusion at RBL Bank.
“For banks like us, it will help reduce costs of doing business. Today, assessing small business involves feet on street and operational work. With GST, there will be a significant opportunity for many service providers to leverage that data. There will be more authentic information on small businesses, which can also help reduce risks in lending,” he added.
GST, which is set to roll out from July 1, is expected to see eight million taxpayers come under the new tax regime, with more than 2 billion invoices expected to be filed every month.
The GST filings are expected to be one of the most significant data points for flow-based lending, given the authenticity and complete information of an SME’s financial health. Flow-based lending entails lending based on cash flows of a company as opposed to collateral or asset-based lending.
“GST data will become the largest repository of verifiable cash flows and transactions of business. Small businesses will be able to provide a secure, verifiable trail of transactions in their supply chain. This will complete the data footprint of an SME and will complete the picture of a SME’s financial health.
This will greatly help in flowbased underwriting for us,” said Sashank Rishyasringa, cofounder of digital lending startup Capital Float. Rishyasringa said GST data of SMEs can not only reduce costs but can also speed up the process of underwriting and lending.
“Potential SME borrowers can provide real time, secure and verifiable data of their GST filings. For us, we can instantly verify financial documents. It will save on the costs of verification and will also cut down delays in processing of loans,” he said.
(May 26, 2017, ET)
The public procurement policy that the Cabinet has approved offers a major push towards the government’s indigenisation drive, opening up a potentially $600 billion-plus market for Indian manufacturing and services companies.
The policy, which makes it mandatory to give first preference to domestic suppliers in all government purchases worth over Rs 5 lakh, also covers autonomous bodies and state-run companies and other entities.
This is in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ vision of promoting domestic production of goods and services to enhance local income and employment, it said in a news release. The policy won’t apply to purchases worth less than Rs 5 lakh. Beyond that, for procurement up to Rs 50 lakh, and where the nodal ministry determines that there is sufficient local capacity and competition, only Indian suppliers will be eligible to participate in the bid.
For procurements worth over Rs 50 lakh where there may not be enough local competition, special provisions will be built into favour the lowest-cost local supplier. When the lowest bid isn’t from an Indian supplier, the local supplier will be given the opportunity to match the lowest bid provided his original offer is within 20% of the lowest bid. If the procurement is of a type of product where the order can be divided and given to more than one supplier, the non-local supplier who is the lowest bidder will get half the order and the local supplier will get the other half, if it agrees to match the price.
Local suppliers will be defined as those whose goods or services meet the prescribed minimum thresholds — usually 50% — for local content. Local content is essentially domestic value addition
The policy requires that specifications in tenders must not be restrictive — there should not be a requirement for producing proof of supply in other countries or proof of exports in respect of previous experience.
They must also not result in unreasonable exclusion of local suppliers who would otherwise be eligible beyond what is essential for ensuring quality or credit-worthiness of the supplier.
(May 26, 2017, ET)
After a long wait of 10 years, the goods and services tax (GST) is now a reality. Most of the work required for implementation of GST from July 1 has been completed. Trade and industry outreach programmes are in full swing. It is time now to reflect on the possible benefits of this new tax regime to trade and industry, to consumers, to the government and to the entire economy.
The prime benefit of GST is that India will become a common market. One product or service will have a single tax rate in any part of the country. The multiplicity of taxes on the same commodity or service will now go.
No more taxes that are barriers to industry such as octroi or entry tax. This obviously means that trade and industry will have a much lesser compliance burden compared with the current regime in which they have to file different returns with different authorities for different taxes. The consumers also would better understand the total incidence of tax on the product or the service they are buying.
The total incidence of taxation on a product or service is likely to come down for most items. This will happen because of the removal of cascading of taxation, and availability of seamless flow of credit across the value chain. If goods are produced in which services are used, the input tax credit of taxes paid on services will be available and vice versa.
Also, there is a provision in the GST law that, by chance, if taxes paid on the inputs are more than the tax rate of the output liability, refunds will also be given except in certain items such as work contracts. Such a scientific system of taxation removes all hidden taxes and brings down the overall burden of taxes. This will benefit consumers immensely.
GST is going to be a big milestone for Make in India also. Today, when goods are imported, there is a levy of countervailing duty (CVD), which is equivalent to excise duty paid by the domestic manufacturers of the same product. In many cases, there are CVD exemptions even where local goods attracted excise duty. Under GST, all these exemptions will go away.
Also, while local manufacturers of goods pay full value added tax (VAT) in addition to excise, imported goods attract only 4 per cent special additional duty. This also gave negative protection to domestic manufacturers of goods.
Under the GST regime, all goods that are imported will pay the full rate of central+state GST in the form of integrated or IGST. That will provide a complete level playing field to domestic manufacturers vis-à-vis imported goods. Of course, importers can use this IGST credit to discharge their liability for CGST and SGST when the same goods are sold within the country.
Also, GST is likely to promote exports from India. When goods are exported, the taxes paid on those products within the country are supposed to be fully refunded. While there is a system of duty drawback today by which central taxes paid on exported items are refunded, the same is not true of VAT paid on the inputs of exported items
There are many states that either do not refund VAT paid on exports or give such refunds after one or two years. Under the new GST regime, the entire refund of CGST or SGST paid on inputs of exported items will be fully paid by a single authority--either the state government or the central government.
It is also decided that 90 per cent of refunds will be given provisionally within seven days of receiving the complete application for online refunds. Also, for special economic zones (SEZs), there is a provision to bring goods from abroad or from domestic tariff area without payment of IGST. This means that as far as SEZs are oncerned, there will be no blockage of working capital. With exports being boosted, Make in India will also get a big lift.
GST, being an end-to-end IT-enabled tax system, is expected to bring buoyancy to government revenue. This will happen because of the attraction of taking input tax credit by purchasing goods from registered dealers, which will incentivize everyone to come into the tax net. Also, there will be a reduction in refund frauds or input tax frauds because of invoice-wise matching of B2B transactions.
A question is raised by many--'How is it possible that consumers will pay less under GST and the government will also gain?' They say that if the government is gaining, obviously the consumers will pay more! Let me explain this properly. Today there are dealers who try to remain outside the tax chain and pocket the benefits of taxes not paid while keeping the consumer price the same as tax-paid goods.
These traders are pocketing the benefits of tax evasion while the government is deprived of revenue and consumers are also not benefited.
When this activity of tax theft will go away under GST, both consumers as well as the government will gain. So basically, the extra revenue of the government will not come from the consumers' pocket but from reduction of tax theft.
(May 26, 2017, ET)
GST will simplify setting up of SMEs and MSMEs as procedural fees and costs of compliance with the overall indirect taxation framework are set to shrink significantly. A unified tax system across states will ensure appropriate transfer of tax credits irrespective of the buyer and the seller’s physical locations.
Elimination of entry tax at state borders will lead to increased efficiency of inter-state logistics. Newer supply chain algorithms will emerge to map the new framework and minimize landed cost.
SMEs with annual turnover of less than Rs 50 lakh need to pay only a flat tax rate capped at 2.5% of turnover rather than on the entire value of supplied goods and services.
GST has also done away with the unclear distinction between goods and services. This will go a long way in reducing litigation and tax-evasion opportunities. GST requires every tax-paying entity to self-assess tax and file its returns on a monthly and an annual basis. Returns are to be filed electronically which will reduce errors and lapses.
An evaluation system for tax-paying entities has been proposed, under which every such entity will receive a GST-compliance score. As per the proposal, these scores will be updated periodically and be made available in the public domain. This will allow GST-compliant SMEs to establish credibility with potential clients and other stakeholders.
However, certain hurdles remain for SMEs. Currently, no excise duty is payable by manufacturers with gross turnover under INR 1.5 Cr. But under GST, any entity that supplies goods and services and whose turnover exceeds Rs 20 lakh will have to register in every state where it conducts business.
For special category states, the turnover threshold is Rs 10 lakh. Another concern for SMEs is that under the new regime, buyers of goods and services are totally dependent on sellers for input tax credits.
SMEs have limited resources and influence to follow up with their vendors and suppliers for the purpose of ensuring tax payment and compliance.
Unlike the current excise regime, GST will make ‘stock transfers’ to own branches taxable. With GST being paid on the date of the transfer but credit becoming available only when the stock is liquidated by the receiving branch, cash flows could be impacted. GST heralds a turning point in India’s taxation norms and policies.
Its key objective is to unify India into a single market by eliminating tax-driven geographical fragmentation.
Successful implementation of GST will reduce the complexity resulting from multiple state and central indirect taxes, various levies and exemptions and sub-optimal application of input credits across goods and services. While a change of such magnitude may run into some teething issues, it is undoubtedly an extremely significantly move that is set to alter how business is conducted in the world’s largest democracy.
(May 24, 2017, ET)
In a bid to give a big push to the ‘Startup India’ campaign, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) will launch a dedicated portal, website and mobile application for start-ups next month.“ The Startup India hub will help in creating conducive environment for start-ups. It will also facilitate exchange of information between all stakeholders… It will be a LinkedIn kind of platform where you can connect with incubators, mentors and investors directly”, a senior government official said.
The portal, built by Invest India, will provide all the information about incubation facilities and tax benefits that the government will offer to the start-ups. Through this portal the start-ups can get themselves registered within 24 hours and be validated as eligible start-up entities. Invest India is the official investment promotion and facilitation agency of the government and is mandated to facilitate investments into India. It is envisaged to be the first point of reference for potential investors.
The start-ups can also use this portal as a single point of contact for applying to various schemes under the government’s ‘Startup India’ plan while getting information about various kinds of clearances, approvals, and registrations. It will also show information on eligible funds and scheme based on the industry and state.
The portal would also help in bringing together a lot of start-up- related entities ranging from incubators, accelerators, venture capital, seed capital and angel investment funds and various government functionaries.
It would also give free legal consultation, for which DIPP has tied up with several legal start-ups to offer consultation.
The portal would also have a chat box, which would also answer all queries. “There has already been a soft launch of this portal with around 150 members. We are expecting over 2,000 members in the next two months and by the end of 2017 we are expecting around 90,000 users,” an official with Invest India said.
The government had launched the ‘Startup India’ campaign in January last year and had announced an action plan to encourage the start-ups in the country, which included various incentives for start-ups such as greater access to capital, incubation and appropriate talent for these entities.
As of March 15, the government has received 2,405 applications for seeking recognition under the ‘Startup India’ programme, and out of this, 742 have been recognized.
(FE, Apr 25, 2017)
Indian economy may grow at 10% over the next three years, says confederation of Indian Industry (CII) President Shobana Kamineni. “The growth band that we are looking at is 7.5 to 8%. This is based on a normal monsoon, somewhat improved global climate, and India’s own strong macroeconomic fundamentals” she said, adding that the reforms have picked up, and over the last three years, substantive policies have been announced.
(TOI, May 05, 2017)
How will our exports be treated under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime? Exports will be treated as zero-rated supplies. No tax will be payable on exports of goods or services. However, you can take input tax credit (ITC). You will have the option t pay tax on the export goods/services and claim refund of Integrated GST (IGST) or export under Bond without payment of IGST and claim refund of ITC. However, no refund of unutilized ITC will be allowed in cases where the goods exported out of India are subjected to export duty or when you avail of drawback in respect of Central GST (CGST) or claim refund of the IGST paid on such supplies. The principle of unjust enrichment would not be applicable to zero-rated supplies. In case of refund on account of export of goods, the refund rules do not prescribe Bank Realization Certificate (BRC) as a necessary document for filing of refund claim. However, for export of services, details of BRC are required to be submitted along with the application for refund. There may be no provision similar to the present dispensation of procuring inputs required for export production from domestic manufacturers without excise duty payment or under rebate claim. On export promotion schemes such as advance authorization scheme or Export Promotion Capital Goods scheme, there is, as yet, no clarity on how these will be dealt with.
We are thinking of converting our manufacturing unit in the domestic tariff area (DTA) into an Export Oriented Unit (EOU). We are told that CBEC Circular No.77/99-Cus dated November 18, 1999 does not allow us to carry over our Cenvat Credit to an EOU. Is there any change in that instruction? Yes. CBEC Circular No.41/2016-Cus dated August 30, 2016 withdraws Circular No.77/99-Cus dated November 18, 1999 and clarifies that on conversion from a DTA unit to an EOU, the transfer of unutilized Cenvat credit lying in the books of the DTA unit on the date of conversion into EOU unit is admissible.
Section 46(3) of the Customs Act, 1962 has been amended to provide for levy of charges for late presentation of bill of entry. Will these charges attract service tax on the ground that these are not fines or penalties but consideration for tolerating the act of not presenting the bill of entry within the specified time? In my opinion, the essential nature of the levy is that of penalty/fine for delay although Section 46(3) calls it “charges” and hence,, no need to pay service tax.
As manufacturers, we have opted to authenticate invoices with a digital signature. Some customers demand manually authenticated invoices. Can we authenticate invoices by manual signature also? Yes. You may print a copy of the invoice, sign it manually and forward the same to the customer. Such an invoice in effect would be authenticated by two signatures, digital as well as manual. Such an invoice would also be a valid document to avail of Cenvat Credit.
India is set to revamp its manufacturing framework to reboot the sector with an eye on job creation and technology up-gradation, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman told ET in an interview. She has ordered a comprehensive review of the six-year-old National Manufacturing Policy launched by the previous government as its no longer relevant given the reforms implemented by the Narendra Modi administration.
Also on the agenda is a study of the readiness of Indian companies for the so called Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The government plans to scrap the multiple clearances needed by overseas investors in sectors that are on the approval route with the dis banding of Foreign Investment Promotion Board. She said the cabinet could take up the proposal soon. “The policy is 2011 vintage and if that is what will guide us after we have launched `Make in India’, FDI and ease of doing business reforms, we would not be able to achieve targets,“ she said
The National Manufacturing Policy , launched with much fanfare, sought to raise the share of manufacturing in GDP to 25% by 2025. It was announced after manufacturing growth had plunged to less than 1%.
The government is betting big on manufacturing through `Make in India’ to create millions of jobs that the country needs as it looks to speed up growth, raise incomes and lift people out of poverty.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) will review the policy to ensure the revised manufacturing policy takes into account the changing economic scenario in the country and overseas, with rapid technological changes and digitisation in the backdrop of domestic initiatives such as Digital India and Skill India. A big focus of the recast will be small and medium enterprises, which are seen as major employment generators and badly need tech upgradation.
“Policy has to be drafted in a way that it is adaptable for all this. This has to be shaken up,“ Sitharaman said.
Sitharaman has also asked DIPP to hold consultations and a day-long workshop with the top 150 industries of the country with sectoral representation to assess preparedness for the next phase.
“We want them to tell us what are they planning for the Industrial Revolution 4.0 to bring a sync between skilling, manpower, demographic dividend on one hand and digitisation, automation, 4.0 on the other,“ she said. The Fourth Industrial Revolution refers to the confluence of new technologies in having an impact across businesses and economy.
The government will take stock of the readiness of private sector for the challenges posed by digitisation, automation and the impact it will have on manpower.
“On the one hand we are doing so much of skilling there is an industrial revolution taking place and we want to know if we will be able to get the returns on our demographic dividend and if the industries will be able to absorb the new trained manpower,“ Sitharaman added.
The government is also likely to revisit the National Investment and Manufacturing Zones to assess their viability. Zones created without adequate trunk infrastructure such as roads, electricity and water connections would no longer be the focus of the manufacturing policy. Many of these centres are located far from ports and other modes of transport, driving up the cost of exports relative to neighbouring countries. For instance, India’s cost to export, according to a World Bank Report, is around $1,332 per container, compared with $572 in Indonesia and $525 in Malaysia.
Upender Gupta, GST Commissioner, CBEC, Government of India, talks about the approach and philosophy of GST regime and why it will be a fillip for the nation’s economy.
GST as a system has been devised in such a way that everything gets automatically populated since we operate in a digital environment. We have also keep in mind that when the taxes are being paid let us say in Delhi while the buyer is in say Kerala, the tax is paid here, the credit is available to a dealer in Kerala. This is true not for IGST credits, but CGST and SGST credits are also allowed to be cross-utilized.
We have central and state levies, and the world over this system is not there of allowing cross-credits. It is only on revers charge basis that a tax is paid in the recipient state and then credit is given. So in this example, the dealer in Delhi will have to claim refunds. There is also a GST compliance rating, which will not be immediately available, but it will be available over a period of time. Putting compliance ratings in the public domain will allow dealers to choose their trade partners better.
So one must see the overall philosophy of the GST regime and then appreciate why it has been made. This to be done keeping in mind that everything will be digitalized and credits would be allowed throughout the country in addition to much more. It is our belief that over a period of time, this system will be hugely beneficial for the nation.
GST (to avoid complexity, govt. looking to keep single rate for each product group): After having opted for multiple rates under the upcoming goods and services tax (GST) regime, India is now looking to keep variations in rates on the same types of products at a minimum to ensure that the tax structure does not get any more complicated.
For example, all types of footwear or mobile phones could attract the same rate.
“Single rate for one product group will bring simplicity in the structure and make implementation easier,“ said a government official, adding that differing rate structures within one segment could lead to unnecessary disputes and litigation. GST is expected to be rolled out on July 1.
Globally, most regimes have a single rate. India has adopted a four-tier tax structure of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. The rate applicable on most products will be 18%. The highest rate has been pegged in the GST law at 40%. Many experts have said this structure will undermine the basic tenet of GST -a simple structure with at most two rates. The GST Council now has to decide which goods and services go into which slabs. The highly anticipated tax reform is expected to lift economic growth by 1-2 percentage points by removing inter-state barriers thus slashing cost and boosting efficiency.
ONE GOOD, MULTIPLE RATES
Currently, both the value-added tax structure in states as also the central excise structure is laden with divergences in rates within a particular category.
In some cases, the divergence exists in terms of value even within the same harmonised system of nomenclature (HSN) code.
For example, footwear, biscuits, electric lamps, spectacles have differential rates within one HSN code under central excise. Mobiles above a certain price are liable to a higher rate in some states.
The government has been bombarded with petitions, in some cases backed by lawmakers, seeking exemptions for one segment in the same product group.
While the final call rests with the GST Council, the apex decision-making body for the proposed tax regime, key stakeholders are veering round to the view that multiple rates within single product groups need to be avoided.
Experts said uniformity in structure will help keep litigation at bay.
“Uniformity in rates of various products in a commodity group will keep the structure neat and free from classification disputes,“ said Bi pin Sapra, partner, EY.
“Tax based on value or MRP (maximum retail price) of the product would unnecessarily complicate the system and the value itself would need to be revised year after year,“ said Pratik Jain, leader, indirect taxes, PwC. “Having a uniform rate for a particular HSN classification is definitely a good idea... It will be simple, uniform and less litigation prone.“
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has done well to clear a Bill that guarantees to fully compensate states for five years for any revenue loss during transition to the new tax regime. A legal backing provides comfort, but there should be ways to prevent states from slacking off on revenue collections. GST subsumes all indirect levies and avoids cascading of taxes, leading to potential revenue loss for states, but they will gain from being able to tax services. A precise estimate of gain or loss is not possible at this stage. Sensibly, states will be compensated on the basis of revenue projections from 2015-16 -when growth and revenue collections were buoyant.
A protracted slowdown due to demonetization would hurt their revenues next year. In any case, the Centre will have to bear an extra fiscal burden if states have to be compensated for revenue shortfall. So, the need is to change the approach to sharing taxes with states. There is a compelling case to take the central goods and services tax (CGST) out of the divisible pool of taxes, leaving collections from income tax, corporate tax and customs du ties to be shared with states. Such a change in approach will, at least partially, safeguard the Centre's revenues.
The tough part -of fixing the tax rates for different commodities under the four-tier GST structure, deciding the legalities in the Central GST Act, the Integrated GST Act and the State GST Act, decoding how to settle disputes and prevent taxpayers from having to face multiple levels of the administration to comply with the tax -is reportedly still to be settled. Economic Times in a leading article, has suggested that the GST Council should drop the anti-profiteering mechanism to ostensibly keep a check on the pricing policy of producers. It goes against the grain of a non-adversarial tax regime.
The Centre is hopeful of rolling out GST on July 1. ET says, we reiterate that it makes sense to fix the launch date three months after the final state and central GST laws are passed and rules notified in order to enable companies to be ready with their accounting systems to meet the requirements of the new tax.
(ET, Feb 20, 2017)
India has not accepted 'most of the demands' on tax incentives that Apple Inc. had sought for establishing a manufacturing base in the South Asian nation, a senior official said, shifting focus to the rejection's fallout on the iPhone-maker's local assembly plans.
Sources aware of the Cupertino, California-based company's proposals, however, said the first plant being set up by contract manufacturer Wistron, which will assemble iPhones in Bengaluru, will not get affected as the concession demands do not pertain to this plant. "Apple India has sought concessions, including duty exemptions on manufacturing and repair units, components, capital equipment including parts and consumables for smartphone manufacturing and service repair for a period of 15 years," Commerce and Industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a reply to a question in Parliament. On whether the government has accepted most of the demands, Sitharaman said "No". Apple declined to comment on this development.
India has earlier said that it is not possible to give exemptions to individual companies, especially as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) takes effect later this year, replacing a complex and tiered indirect-taxation structure.
"There is no way we can give individual exemptions under the GST regime," Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia had told ET. Apple's vice president of operations Priya Balasubramanium met Adhia, to discuss Apple's plans in India, a person aware of the meeting said.
Apple had sought the concessions from the government to incentivize the high-end component manufacturers of iPhones to move to India as without their presence, it will be difficult for the iPhone maker to start full-fledged manufacturing operations locally. Apple sought a series of exemptions pertaining to import duties on components and equipment besides exemption from the mandatory 30% sourcing norm.
(ET, Mar 23, 2017)