Govt to bring amendments to Competition law for greater regulation of etailers: FM

Source: ETRetail.com, Mar 17, 2020

New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday said that it has proposed certain amendments to the Competition law for greater regulation of e-commerce platforms and ensure that presence of etailers has no severe impact on local jobs.

Responding to a series of queries on this issue during the Question Hour, Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Rajya Sabha that the cabinet has already looked into the amendments.

“The Competition Act Regulation Amendments will now bring in greater regulation….The cabinet has looked into it. Thisis one of the ways we are trying to regulate (e-commerce platforms),” she said in the Upper House. The amendments to the law have been proposed as per the recommendation of the Competition Law Reviewing Committee,under the chairmanship of Corporate Affairs Ministry, she said. On job loss, the Minister said such kind of impacts have been assessed by the committee and “action is being taken through various amendments suggested to the Act so that impact is not as serious.” Prior to setting up of the committee, Sitharaman said anti-trust watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) had made efforts to promote self-regulation through advocacy from January this year after looking into a complaint it had received in April last year.

However, a court order from Karnataka stopped the CCI from taking further steps on self-regulation, she said. In its report on the complaint, the CCI had identified several practices which were not true to the ideals of free and fair market practices, she added.

Cabinet nod for foreign listing of firms, decriminalising offences

Source: Business Standard, Mar 05, 2020

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved 72 changes to the Companies Act 2013, with a thrust on decriminalising compoundable offences and allowing direct foreign listing for domestic companies to boost “Brand India”.

The nod for the Companies amendment Bill, likely to be tabled in the ongoing Parliament session, has been given to ease compliance burden related to corporate social responsibility (CSR) by exempting companies with obligation to spend Rs 50 lakh or less. Such companies will not be required to have a CSR committee. Read the rest of this entry »

Now that crypto trade is legal in India, here’s what happens next

Source: The Economic Times, Mar 05, 2020

MUMBAI | BENGALURU: Crypto currency companies are expected to revive plans to invest and expand their business in India following a Supreme Court verdict overturning a Reserve Bank of India notification that had restricted banking access for virtual currency trading. ZPX will consider ramping up operations in India, said Ramani Ramachandran, CEO of the Singapore-based crypto firm. WazirX will start investing in the Indian market this year, said Nischal Shetty, cofounder of the crypto-exchange firm.

India’s virtual currency industry had come to a standstill following the April 2018 notification that prohibited use of banking channels for transactions of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Several exchanges shifted overseas or closed their business altogether in the last two years. “When a regulator like RBI bans, the market closes down. Six months back, we pivoted from crypto to blockchain, as we had to sustain. No investor was ready to back us amid the uncertainty of regulations,” said Wilson Bright, CEO of BlockSurvey. Read the rest of this entry »

Companies can’t evade tax on profit from overseas office after ITAT ruling

Source: The Economic Times, Mar 03, 2020

Mumbai: For years, many companies, including some public sector banks, have interpreted India’s treaty provisions with other countries in a way to escape tax on profits from foreign offices. A ruling this month by the Mumbai bench of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) will put an end to this.

The practice continued even after 2008 when the tax law was amended to clarify that India may tax earnings of overseas branches. Several companies still avoided tax by citing earlier court decisions that seemed to favour their interpretation.

“This will change. The recent decision by the ITAT, Mumbai may impact the valuation of some of the nationalised banks which are undergoing merger. Till now, these banks have been disputing the position in the law and not paying tax on earnings of overseas branches,” said senior chartered accountant Dilip Lakhani. Read the rest of this entry »

Modi unveils 10,000 Farmers Producer Organisations to boost farm income

Source: Business Standard, Feb 29, 2020

Lucknow: Aiming to augment agricultural income by helping farmers trade in their produce, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched 10,000 Farmers Producer Organisations (FPO) all over the country.

Addressing the launch ceremony at Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh, Modi said the government would spend Rs 5,000 crore in the next five years to strengthen FPOs for the benefit of farmers.

“The farmers have always been producers, but with the help of FPOs, they can now trade in farm produce. They will sow crop and also act as skillful traders to get the right prices,” he observed.

On the occasion, he also laid the foundation of UP’s mega infrastructure project, the 296-km Bundelkhand Expressway, which is estimated to cost Rs 15,000 crore.

The PM said the Central Government had integrated farm policies with the farmers’ income to maximise the benefits even as he referred to the increase in the minimum support price (MSP), soil health card, neem coated urea and reenergising irrigation schemes to buttress his point.

“More than 85 million farmers’ families have been provided with over Rs 50,000 crore under PM Kisan, of which more than 20 million farmers belong to UP, who have been paid Rs 12,000 crore,’ he said adding payments were being made directly into their bank accounts.

Modi said the PM Kisan and other farmers’ schemes were targetted to save farmers from the clutches of the money lenders and to provide them each penny intended for them.

Meanwhile, he announced plans were also afoot to integrate all PM Kisan beneficiaries with the flagship Kisan Credit Card (KCC), so that such farmers could borrow loans from banks.

Under the Fasal Bima Yojana, the Indian farmers had been paid total claims worth Rs 56,000 crore against the total premium collection of Rs 13,000 crore, he informed.

The PM said the Centre was working on a mega plan to upgrade the rural mandis into modern agri retail markets and to further integrate them with the state agro marketing boards and the government e-marketplace e-NAM.

“We are working on a plan so that the farmers need not travel long distances to sell their produce,” he said adding transactions worth Rs one trillion had been done on mandis integrated with e-NAM so far.

He said at least one FPO should be formed at each block level for deeper percolation of the scheme. Nearly 86 per cent of Indian farmers are small and marginal with average land holdings being less than 1.1 hectares. These together with the landless farmers face challenges in accessing technology, quality seeds, fertilisers and pesticides apart from finance, in addition to marketing their produce. The FPOs would provide a platform for ‘collectivisation’ of small, marginal and landless farmers and give them collective strength to deal with such issues.

Govt approves 32 projects under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana

Source: Business Standard, Feb 27, 2020

A total of 32 projects have been sanctioned under ‘unit’ scheme of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) in meetings of Inter-Ministerial Approval Committee (IMAC) presided over by Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

The projects spread across almost 17 states would leverage an investment of Rs 406 crore, an official release said.

It said the projects envisage the creation of direct and indirect employment for about 15,000 persons and focus will be employment opportunities in rural areas.

The release said that the introduction of modern processing techniques for food results in improved shelf-life of the agricultural produce and ensures steady revenue to farmers.

It said the food sector has emerged as a high-growth and high-profit sector due to its immense potential for value addition. The PMKSY has seven component schemes — mega food parks, integrated cold chain and value addition infrastructure, creation of backward and forward linkages, creation/expansion of food processing and preservation capacities, infrastructure for agro-processing clusters, food safety, and quality assurance infrastructure and human resources and institutions.

Govt nod to Technical Textile Mission with Rs 1,480-crore outlay

Source: Business Standard, Feb 26, 2020

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Rs 1,480-crore National Technical Textiles Mission set to run for the next four years. Technical textiles are a futuristic segment of textiles used for a vast array of applications such as agriculture, roads, railway tracks, bullet and fire-proof jackets and high altitude combat gear etc.

Indian technical textiles segment is estimated at $ 16 billion or 6 per cent of the $ 250-billion global market. According to the government, the penetrat-ion level of technical textiles is low in India, varying between 5 and 10 per cent against the level of 30-70 per cent in developed countries. The mission targets an average growth rate of 15-20 per cent annually and domestic market size of $ 40-50 billion by 2024.