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Saturday, January 16, 2016
Railways to introduce online system for  tracking costs, Asset creation

Railways to introduce online system for tracking costs, Asset creation

The Railways is introducing an online system for tracking cost and output creation at divisional level for better Financial Management and Reporting that will usher in more transparency and efficiency in the system. To be called "Performance and Activity Based Unit Costing", the process is expected to produce an outcome budget for the railways where it will be able to analyse step wise costing of every asset created and services delivered.
Rules eased: auditors need to report to  Centre corporate frauds of over Rs. 1 crore

Rules eased: auditors need to report to Centre corporate frauds of over Rs. 1 crore

Statutory auditors will now have to mandatorily report to the Centre all corporate frauds amounting to 1 crore or above. By specifying a threshold of 1 crore, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has now done away with the requirement to report immaterial frauds to the Centre.

  • The auditor must first report the fraud to the company’s audit panel
  • The audit panel will have to give its views in 45 days
  • Within 15 days of that, the auditor will have to send his report to the Centre
  • Frauds amounting to less than Rs. 1 crore will need to be reported only to the company’s audit panel.
Tax disputes up to Rs. 20 lakh to be dismissed

Tax disputes up to Rs. 20 lakh to be dismissed

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) recently increased the monetary limit for filing appeals by the Income Tax (I-T) department at the Tribunal to Rs 10 lakh from Rs 4 lakh; and to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh at the high court. This means, the department cannot go for an appeal in cases where the disputed amount is below this threshold. Since it is with retrospective effect, it applies to existing appeals filed, but pending decision. This means, all such appeals will be immediately withdrawn. However, CBDT has maintained the limit for appeals to be filed at the Supreme Court at Rs 25 lakh.
15CA, 15CB rules eased for payments to NRIs

15CA, 15CB rules eased for payments to NRIs



  • The Income Tax department (I-T Department) has simplified the disclosure norms for payments to non-residents, with most of these up to Rs 5 lakh in a year no longer to be disclosed in forms 15CA and 15CB.
  • Beside, payment for imports do not require these two forms. Also, a certificate from a chartered accountant is only required for such payments which are taxable. The forms would have to be filled if the amount of payment in a year exceeds Rs 5 lakh.
  • No forms 15CA and 15CB will be required to be furnished by an individual for remittance not requiring Reserve Bank approval under its Liberalized Remittance Scheme.
Computer based Scrutiny by CBDT

Computer based Scrutiny by CBDT

The process of selecting tax cases for scrutiny on a random basis is being replaced by a system-
based centralized approach. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has devised a system-based method in a centralised manner through CASS (Computer Assisted Scrutiny Selection) whereby the selection is made on the basis of detailed analysis of risk parameters and 360 degree data profiling of taxpayers.
SEBI – registered FPIs get I-T filing relief

SEBI – registered FPIs get I-T filing relief

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) clarified that incomplete or deficient returns filed by Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) would not be treated as “defective” if the entities were registered with SEBI and do not have a permanent base in India. This would provide relief to over 500 FPIs.
Finance Ministry releases draft guidelines for  Place of Effective Management Control

Finance Ministry releases draft guidelines for Place of Effective Management Control

Place of Effective Management (POEM) means a place where key management and commercial decisions that are necessary for the conduct of the business of an entity as a whole are, in substance, made,” said the Central Board of Direct Taxes, adding that it would be determined based on whether the company is engaged in active business outside India. The CBDT, however, stressed that a foreign company would not be considered a resident taxpayer just because it is fully owned by an Indian firm, or some of its directors or local management is in India or existence of support functions in the country. A company’s head office is not necessarily the same as the place where the majority of its employees work or where its board typically meets,” it has clarified. Under earlier guidelines, a company was considered a resident in any previous year, if it was an Indian company or if during that year, the control and management of its affairs was situated wholly in India. Moreover, cases selected for limited scrutiny can be converted to complete scrutiny only with the approval of the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax or Commissioner of Income tax if the potential income escaping assessment exceeds a certain monetary limit.
IPO irregularities: SEBI to refund disgorged  funds to investors

IPO irregularities: SEBI to refund disgorged funds to investors

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will distribute among eligible investors the funds it has collected through disgorgement orders in cases of IPO irregularities - a move that will benefit as many as 463,000 investors. The total amount to be distributed is about Rs 18 crore, which includes Rs 7.35 crore recovered by Sebi through exercise of its newly conferred recovery powers. SEBI has already distributed Rs 23.28 crore to 1.3 million investors in April 2010, out of which 799,000 investors were paid the full eligible amounts.
Transfer of shareholding on basis of disputed  MOU was clear act of oppression by  respondent

Transfer of shareholding on basis of disputed MOU was clear act of oppression by respondent

The High Court of Bombay held that where respondent group on basis of a disputed MOU with appellant group had held board meeting, issued duplicate shares and transferred shareholding of appellant group in its favour at valuation which was not acceptable to appellant group, action of respondent group was a clear calculated act of grossest oppression.

In case of Buragohain Tea Co. Ltd., the High Court of Delhi held that where Court in principle agreed to sanction scheme of amalgamation whereby entire undertaking of transferor company was proposed to be transferred to transferee company but found exchange ratio to be unfair and unjust and not based on market realities, Registrar of Companies was to be directed to examine matter through experts and determine a fair and just exchange ratio.
Family accord prevails over law suits

Family accord prevails over law suits

The Supreme Court last week gave thumbs up to settlement of disputes against litigation among business family members when it ended three-decade row in the case, Rajni Sanghi vs Western Indian State Motors Ltd. The court ruled that if the parties settled their differences amicably, their agreement shall prevail though there were other proceedings like arbitration. Even if there is an arbitration award, which has not been made into a decree of the court, the family arrangement will override it.
Cheque Bounce Cases now to be filed where  presented

Cheque Bounce Cases now to be filed where presented

Parliament has passed a law allowing cheque bounce cases to be filed at the place where the cheque is presented for clearance and not the place of issue, a change that is expected to go a long way in improving legal recourse in such cases.
Private Placement Amnesty

Private Placement Amnesty

In respect of cases prior to April 01, 2014 involving issuance of securities to more than 49 persons but up to 200 persons in a financial year, the companies may avoid penal action if they provide the investors with an option to surrender the securities and get the refund amount at a price not less than the amount of subscription money paid along with 15% interest p.a. thereon or such higher return as promised to investors.
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Enforcement Directorate probes PACL


  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated an inquiry against PACL for alleged money laundering under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
  • SEBI had found that the company had raised about Rs 49,100 crore from 50 million investors through a collective investment scheme, which is illegal.
  • The mobilization of funds by PACL dates back to 1990s.
  • The ED’s decision comes on the heels of a SEBI order, issued a fortnight ago, to attach all the assets of the company and its directors.
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IRDAI proposes changes in trade credit insurance norms

Trade credit insurance is an insurance policy offered by private insurance companies and governmental export credit agencies to business entities wishing to protect their accounts receivable from loss due to credit risks such as protracted default, insolvency or bankruptcy. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) said it proposes to allow issuance of trade credit insurance policy to RBI registered entities, for conducting factoring business in line with The Factoring Act, 2011. “This cover shall be restricted to short-term financing against receivables, representing supply of goods, materials and services,” said the exposure draft.
Friday, January 15, 2016
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Universal Health Insurance Plan- A better cover

After providing life cover and accident cover, the government is now working on a universal health insurance plan. To begin with, it will provide a seamless solution to the existing cashless health schemes in states by integrating those with the Centre’s direct benefits transfer (DBT) platform. Later, these would be scaled up.
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Central bank plans to monitor peer-to-peer lending

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will soon release a discussion paper on unregulated peer-to-peer lending (P2PL) arrangements, which is lending money to unrelated individuals without assistance from any financial intermediary. Several online portals have sprung up in India to facilitate such lending, some even getting private funding from investors, but it is still at a nascent stage.
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SC raises serious issues against RBI

The Supreme Court held that RBI should take rigid action against those banks and financial institutions which have been indulging in “disreputable business practices” and said it cannot withhold information on defaulters and other issues covered under the RTI Act. “We have surmised that many financial institutions have resorted to such acts which are neither clean nor transparent. The RBI in association with them has been trying to cover up their acts from public scrutiny. It is the responsibility of the RBI to take rigid action against those banks which have been practicing disreputable business practices,” a bench comprising justices M Y Eqbal and C Nagappan said. RBI and the Banks have sidestepped the general public’s demand to give the requisite information on the pretext of ‘Fiduciary relationship’ and ‘Economic Interest’. This attitude of the RBI will only attract more suspicion and disbelief in them. RBI as a regulatory authority should work to make the Banks accountable to their actions.
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Reserve Bank revises norms for ‘when issued’ security to boost trading

To encourage trading in ‘When Issued’ transactions in government securities, the Reserve Bank allowed banks to take short positions in this segment of trading, while mutual funds, insurance and pension funds, NBFCs and others are permitted to take long positions.
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RBI issues norms for pricing banks’ advances

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) notified guidelines for banks for pricing their advances with reference to the Marginal Cost of funds based Lending Rate (MCLR). Currently the base rate, the minimum lending rate, is priced with reference to the average cost of funds. Banks may specify interest reset dates on their floating rate loans and they will have the option to offer loans with reset dates linked either to the date of sanction of the loan/credit limits or to the date of review of MCLR.
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Solar Power : Cost cut imminent

Indicating a continued downward slide in solar photovoltaic (PV) power project tariffs, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has proposed nearly 20% cut in the benchmark capital cost of such projects for FY17 compared to the current financial year. While the average tariff for the bids invited by states this year has hovered around Rs. 6 per unit, the recently concluded bid under the national solar mission saw the solar tariff plummeting to a historic low of Rs. 4.63 per unit.
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Steel ministry for removing duty exemption categories


  • After anti-dumping and safeguard duties, the Union ministry of steel wants to plug another trade route to prevent cheaper imports. It has recommended that Rule 11(1)(c) for imposition of countervailing duty (CVD) be amended, so that a duty can be imposed on exempted categories of steel imports.
  • Domestic industry has been complaining about below-cost import from China and Korea. Increased import has pushed domestic companies into losses.
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Roads – a big opportunity

Road projects worth Rs. 50,000 crore to be offered under PPP in FY17

  • This will be the largest chunk of projects to be awarded by ministry under PPP mode in a single financial year.
  • 5000 km roads to be awarded to private players for construction
  • Bids for religious tourism circuit programme including Char Dham connectivity and the Bharat Mala project will also be invited.
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Line of credit – streamlined

The government has approved the new Indian Development Assistance Scheme (IDEAS) to streamline Lines of Credit (LOC) offered to various countries in South Asia, SE Asia, Africa and Central America emphasizing on timely completion of projects. The initiative includes provisions to provide better terms of credit. Several changes have been made in the operational guidelines such as making Detailed Project Report, strengthening of monitoring system, pre- qualification of competent companies and requirement of regular reports by the borrowing governments.
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UDAY – Target linked MoU designed, no benefits if discoms default


  • The Centre is hopeful of getting at least 21 states on board for Ujjawal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) reforms
  • For the states that sign up for UDAY, one of the first steps is to take over 75 per cent of DISCOM debt as on September 30, 2015 over two years - 50 per cent in 2015-16 and 25 per cent in 2016-17.
  • The state borrowing would be issued as Non-SLR State Development Loans.
  • With loans being part of the capital expenditure in the state’s Budget, the Centre is hopeful of bringing down interest rates further.
The Bait

  • Waiving unpaid overdue interest payment of discoms
  • Additional grant under Centre-sponsored schemes
  • Increased supply of domestic coal
  • Faster completion of intrastate transmission lines
The Switch
  • No future lending by PSU banks and FIs
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RBI- In need to act efficiently, effectively and pragmatically


RBI has been among the best regulators in the world, managing the financial markets and various other important aspects of the Indian economy with a visionary, practical, positive and dynamic approach during more than last 5 decades. In recent past, it has been observed that the basic values and virtues built by RBI are being pierced, one after another. A recent informal directive (advisory) to all the public sector and private sector banks, to downgrade, more than 150 top borrowers as Non-Performing Assets and to make retrospective provisioning is one such example. The NPA provisioning norms have been one of the tightest regulations in the world. In terms of the latest directive, exposure of the banks in three categories is proposed to be downgraded, based on asset quality review. The exposure of Indian banking sector to such accounts is estimated in the range of Rs 1.5 lakh crore to about Rs 2 lakh crore, which will be about 3% of the total credit exposure of the banking sector.The real concern of RBI about asset quality has to be addressed in stages. The impact will be more than serious on fund based and non-fund based exposures as well as working of the industry.
Regulations are to ensure fair play and cannot be a burden. No regulation should hurt or kill the genuine business activity.

Backdrop

The global economy including China, Europe and all major economies have been facing steep challenges. The Indian Economy has passed through a fairly tough time during about last 5 years and more specifically in last 3 years. Almost all the major borrowing sectors had been suffering due to policy bottleneck. The credit off take has reduced very sharply. The fresh investments have not been forth coming except in limited sectors like e-commerce. IIP index is showing a negative growth. Some of the prominent sectors impacted by slow down, for example:

Power Sector- no further disbursement in spite of financial closure for many years. No additional sanctions or disbursements for new projects. Recent initiatives of government are in right direction.

Roads and Highway Sector- NHAI has recently come out with suitable solutions for recommencement of construction, in most of the projects which were standstill for more than 3 years.

Real-estate and Infrastructure are creating new records of downfall in prices and substantial negative growth. Housing sector has specially suffered.

Commodities- International and National commodity prices, in most of the cases, are ruling at their last 10 year low thereby impacting steel industry, construction, and other commodity based sectors. The Chinese, European and American markets are leading the commodity prices free fall.

Implications

The Government of India has taken major steps and policy initiatives to revive the economy, in spite of, international economic challenges. The Finance Minister has committed to the nation that no retrospective amendments or regulations are brought in. In case the advisory of RBI is accepted, including retrospective provisioning, without taking corrective action, including special dispensation for certain specific ailing sectors, the following implications may arise out of retrospective provisioning at such a large magnitude:


  • Declared financials of these banks for earlier years will be proven wrong.
  • Given the magnitude, the very credibility of the Indian banking sector, Statutory auditors and RBI itself will be questionable, having serious economic ramifications, including all sovereign credit rating of India.
  • Capital adequacy and share prices including valuations thereof will be negatively impacted. The Indian public as well as investors will feel cheated and will lose confidence even in the financial markets impeding future investments in debt- equity of the banks.
  • International branches of the banks will face closure or substantial reduction in their business due to lack of necessary capital adequacy, negative outlook and further potential asset quality risk. In fact, RBI itself is responsible for the current changing scenario:
  • RBI permitted, in spite of repeated opposition by ICAI, appointments of branch auditors as well as central statutory auditors of the banks to be made by banks management itself. The number of branches subject to audit reduced dramatically, thereby reducing financial discipline and control by independently appointed auditors.
  • Strategically sidelining Chartered Accountant directors by a series of negative initiatives including restricting their numbers, maximum 6 year limit on Board removing experienced Directors from banking system, restricting their number and role in credit monitoring.
  • Permitting banks to continue to charge extremely high interest rates, including gross spread of 4% to 6%, as compared to international practice of 0.25% to 0.75%.
  • Very stiff norms on international investments over regulations in P Note, External Commercial Borrowing and restricting M3 and availability of credit at reasonable terms and basis.
  • Direct interference into day to day management of banks, especially public sector banks, including appointment of CMDs (resulting in very poor selection) and substantial delay,
  • Appointment of consultants to select CMD, having no understanding of Indian financial markets.
  • Recent interference in the setting up of proposed Banks Board Bureau (BBB)  RBI has made Open-disclosure of confidential, vulnerable issues now public ally in a series of structured disclosures rather than confidential and effectively managing the problems of Indian borrowers. This has embarrassed Industry as well  as current Indian Government.  The Indian businesses are competing with international companies borrowing at the rate of 3% to 4 % (LIBOR of US $ is 0.13%), while bearing 12% - 18% interest payment to the banking sector and 15% - 36% interest to Non Banking Finance Companies and unorganized financial market.
Certain Solutions to be examined

  • Special nursing programmes for each suffering economic sector.
  • A special debt restructuring scheme for various sectors which need nursing, rather than trying to kill the industry and businesses by downgrades. The schemes could be positively planned similar to UDAY brought out for power sector (DISCOM) by the Government.
  • The government may empower banks to take over all major economic powers from the existing management, in carefully selected cases.The day to day management can continue as it is, while CFO and other observers are to be appointed by banks to ensure financial discipline.
  • A part of the debt of the industry can be converted into equity or optionally / mandatory fully convertible bonds (with a sell back option) to have the upside of the well performing units.
  • The interest burden of the industry, business, services sector as well as real estate and infrastructure need to be curtailed down substantially with ease of credit off take.
  • The penal interest, interest on interest and interest charged over and above the base rate can be waived partly or fully in a judicious manner.
  • The Government may consider to permit one time settlement scheme with payment of principal and simple interest within 3 months by the industry from any source, without any tax implication and complete immunity from PMLRA and similar other legal provisions.
  • SME sector will need special scheme for their revival. The credit availability has to improve and too much dependence on collateral is impacting reasonable growth.
  • The interest rate spread for the banking sector to be brought down in the range of 1% to 2% with effective interest rate between 7% to 10 % to industry and businesses.
  • Professionalize the management with detailed internal and statutory audit and independent auditors. The aforesaid analysis may look highly critical to certain quarters for which an open debate is needed to address all issues on a war-footing basis.

We cannot allow certain hidden hands to forge a conspiracy against our Great Nation and specially banking sector being the backbone of our economy.
Monday, January 11, 2016
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Banks can now pay higher rates for Deposits without Premature Withdrawal Option

While all term deposits of individuals (held singly or jointly) of `15 Lakh and below should necessarily have premature withdrawal facility. All term deposits above this amount banks can now offer 'the without premature withdrawal' option with differential rates.