Commerce ministry sets up panel to make SEZ policy compatible with WTO rules

download (6)Source: LiveMint.com, Jun 07, 2018

New Delhi: The commerce ministry has set up a committee headed by Bharat Forge chairman Baba Kalyani to make its special economic zone (SEZ) policy compatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules after the US challenged India’s export subsidy programme at the multilateral trade body.

“The group will evaluate the SEZ policy, suggest measures to cater to the needs of exporters in the present economic scenario and make the SEZ policy WTO compatible, suggest course correction in SEZ policy, make comparative analysis of the SEZ scheme and dovetail the SEZ policy with other similar schemes. The Group is required to submit its recommendation in 3 months’ time,” commerce ministry said in a statement.

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Government clears revised norms for time-bound closure of sick PSUs

Source: The Economic Times, Jun 06, 2018

The government today approved revised guidelines for time-bound closure of sick and loss making central public sector enterprises and the disposal of their movable and immovable assets.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here. The guidelines accord first priority to utilisation of land of central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) under closure for affordable housing as per the relevant guidelines of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

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Relief for related-party diamond trade

Source: The Economic Times, Jun 06, 2018

MUMBAI: The customs department has relaxed a rule that required compulsory scrutinising of imports and exports of diamonds between related parties, a regulation that was followed strictly after the Nirav Modi scam.

In the past one week, customs commissioners have issued facilitation notices allowing diamond traders to forego the process even when they are dealing with related parties. The notices cited difficulty in valuing diamonds as the reason for this decision.

During their probes into frauds in the gems and jewellery sector — there had been several such cases in recent years — investigators discovered that international trade with related parties were at times overvalued This was mainly done by a few exporters to spruce up the balance sheets and borrow additional money from banks. According to regulations, the customs department gets a fair value of imports and exports through scrutiny conducted by a special valuation branch (SVB). The valuation is done only when an Indian company is exporting to or importing from a related party.

Legal experts said the waiver may reintroduce a loophole often used by jewellers. “Missing out on scrutiny of related-party transactions in imports and exports could create problems in future, especially when there are apprehensions that a few diamond traders may have manipulated valuation. While this (easing of the rule) could be a relief for the sector, the customs department must still investigate related-party imports in the diamond industry when there are doubts,” said Abhishek A Rastogi, partner, Khaitan & Co.

According to the notices issued by the customs department, getting the valuation of diamonds is extremely difficult as there are no comparables. “Referring the matter to SVB in case of related-party transaction does not serve any fruitful purpose. The practice of referring the matter to SVB is hereby discontinued in respect of rough diamonds, cut and polished diamonds, precious and semi-precious stones,” a facilitation notice issued to a prominent diamond jeweller read.

ET has seen a copy of the notice, which also says valuation may still be done in “exceptional cases”.

“Related-party import of rough, cut and polished diamonds, precious and semi-precious stones has been covered under the waiver,” said Suresh Nair, partner, EY India.

Industry experts said the decision would be a relief for diamond traders. Another person in the know of the matter but speaking on the condition of anonymity said: “Many jewellers were already reeling under pressure due to ad hoc fair valuation being conducted by the customs department. This relaxation in regulation would go along way in ease of doing business.”

 

New policy on electronics likely in two months: IT secretary

Source: The Economic Times, May 31, 2018

NEW DELHI: The government expects to finalise new National Policy on Electronics in next couple of months, which will aim to boost design and innovation along with domestic production, Electronics and IT secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney said today.

“Hopefully in couple of months we will be coming out with new National National Policy on electronics,” Sawhney said at an Assocham event. He said there is huge opportunity in India for emergence of next generation devices which don’t exist at the moment and the new policy will look at encouraging design and innovation for development of innovative products.

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Centre mulls new regulator to bring crowdfunding platforms under the law

Source: Business Standard, May 22, 2018

Mumbai: With alternative capital-raising facilitators like crowdfunding gaining popularity, the Centre is mulling setting up a new regulator or authority to regulate them. Currently, most crowdfunding platforms neither operate with proper authorisation nor are governed under any law.

Following a finance ministry meeting with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) last month, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) is considering a flexible regulatory regime to recognise crowdfunding platforms as a “marketplace”. The ministry has also proposed an option of a separate regulator other than Sebi and the Reserve Bank of India for governing these entities. Read the rest of this entry »

Centre unveils eSIM norms

Source: The Hindu Business Line, May 17, 2018

New Delhi: The Centre has eased norms for users who want to change a mobile service provider or buy a new connection without replacing a SIM card.

According to the Department of Telecom (DoT)’s new guidelines, embedded SIMs (eSIMs) can be installed in a device, and the details of service providers can be updated in it if the customer buys a new connection, changes operators, or wants to buy a standalone service from a telecom operator,, such as data calling.

“To cater to the needs of modern technological developments in machine to machine (M2M)/ Internet of Things (IoT), it has been decided to permit the use of eSIM, with both single and multiple profile configurations…” the DoT said. It said operators may carry out their KYC while providing eSIMs.

The DoT has also issued instructions for SIMs that will be used for M2M communications, such as alerts sent from cars to mobiles over low fuel, faulty parts, car theft etc.

The norms come shortly after Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio started selling the Apple Watch Series 3, which has an eSIM.

Cabinet approves National Biofuel Policy to reduce Green House Gas emission

Source: Business Standard, May 17, 2018

New Delhi: The Cabinet approved the National Policy on Biofuels which allows doping of ethanol produced from damaged foodgrains, rotten potatoes, corn and sugar beet with petrol to cut oil imports by Rs 4,000 crore this year alone.

Till now only ethanol produced from sugarcane was allowed to be mixed in petrol.

A meeting of the Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the new policy which categorises biofuels as First Generation (1G), which produce bio-ethanol from molasses and bio-diesel from non-edible oilseeds.Second Generation (2G) ethanol can be produced from municipal solid waste and Third Generation (3G) fuels like bio-CNG.

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