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GST rates may be cut on cement, ACs, TVs with rise in revenue: Jaitley

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New Delhi:The continuous revision of Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates with reduction for 384 commodities and no tax hike on any product has been the largest mass tax reduction since independence, Union minister Arun Jaitley wrote in a Facebook post.
“If the entire category of all the slabs is taken, the past one year has seen reduction of tax in 384 commodities with no increase on a single product. India has never witnessed such mass tax reduction since Independence. Lesser rates and higher collection is the result,” wrote Jaitley.
He exuded confidence that GST rates on cement, air conditioners and televisions will be cut as tax revenues increase, and only luxury and sin goods will attract the highest slab of 28%. He mentioned that tax rates had also been cut on 68 different categories of services.
Criticising the pre-GST indirect tax regime with multiple central and state levies often with a cascading effect, Jaitley called it that ‘Congress Legacy Tax’. “Hopefully, with further expansion of revenues, these few items may also witness a change of category. Thus within a record period of 13 months, the GST council has almost phased out the 28% category. It is only a matter of time that the final obituary of the ‘Congress Legacy Tax’ is written. Only the luxury-sin tax would remain,” he said.
When the GST rates were first fixed, uncertainty about revenue collection led to higher taxes being fixed, said former chief statistician of India Pronab Sen.
“But the rollout showed the need to reduce these taxes since they were indeed high, so is that not a goof-up? What this government can rightly take credit for is in the successful implementation of GST, which was pending for years,” he added.
GST, which subsumed 17 local taxes, was rolled out on July 1, 2017 and Jaitley added that this reduction of tax rates and its impact on revenue collection will be entirely borne by the central government.
“The net revenue loss which Government have suffered on account of the reduction of tax on goods and services is about Rs 70,000 crore. Since State Governments have been guaranteed a 14% increase over their pre-GST revenues for the first five years, this burden has entirely been borne from the share of the Central Government,” Jaitley said.
Hailing the GST reduction on 15 items on July 21 as a significant economic reform, Jaitley said that this will spur consumption as it reduces the cost to consumers. Jaitley referred to the amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act as the second economic reform in the last week, saying that will it ensure that honest officers will not be harassed by investigative agencies in the process of booking the corrupt.
The minister said that the 30-year old anti-corruption law, which was enacted in pre-liberalisation regime, had not anticipated the kind of risk which could be faced by honest decision makers.
“Thus a loan given by an honest bank management in accordance with the rules, would get subsequently questioned if the recipient of the loan defaulted and the entire process of the banker-lender relationship was referred to an investigative agency,” he said.
Jaitley said the only group which is unhappy with the amendment are the NGOs, who are not aware of the needs of governance, quick decision-making and growth.
The Congress retorted by saying the amendments had been pending since 2013.
“Mr. Jaitley is shedding crocodile tears for bureaucrats as the amendments were pending since 2013. He has become an expert on giving opinions through Facebook and he has been forced to write this blog to deviate attention from the mega bank scam that surfaced recently in Pune,” Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill said.


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India should aspire for double digit growth: EAC member Shamika Ravi

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New Delhi: India needs to make all efforts to reach ‘double digit’ growth and should not treat 7 per cent expansion as the ‘new normal’, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) member Shamika Ravi said.
Ravi also refuted the contention of her EAC-PM colleague Rathin Roy that India could fall into the middle income trap — a term used by the World Bank to refer to nations that get stuck at a middle level of economic development as they attempt to grow rich.
“But emphasis now needs to be on how do we get back with the vision to that double digit growth,” Ravi said at event organised by Brookings India.
“The new normal of 7 per cent or perhaps weakening further because of the global trends cannot be the new normal for a country with per capita income that we do have,” she added
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) had in February revised downwards the growth estimate for 2018-19 fiscal from 7.2 per cent to 7 per cent — the lowest in five years.
Ravi also asserted that there needs to be reinforcement of mechanisms through which India can continue to aspire for double digit growth.
She maintained that India is unlikely to fall into the middle income trap.
“I don’t think India can afford that (middle income trap). I don’t think India is going to fall into the middle income trap like Brazil or South Africa,” the EAC-PM member opined.
Recently, EAC-PM member Rathin Roy had said the Indian economy is heading for a structural slowdown.
“The economy since 1991 has been growing not on the basis of exports… but on the basis of what the top 100 million of the Indian population wants to consume. Those 100 million or 10 crore Indian consumers who were powering India’s growth story have started to plateau out.
“It means in short we will not be South Korea. We will not be China. We will be Brazil. We will be South Africa. We will be a middle-income country with large numbers of people in poverty seeing rising crimes,” Roy had said.
The concept of the middle income trap was first put forward by the World Bank in a 2006 report on the development of East Asian economies.
The theory states that in many middle-income economies, growth slows and nations are unable to generate further economic momentum and grow rich.
Ravi also noted that India should not lose fiscal discipline which it maintained during the last five years of the Narendra Modi government.
The eminent economist also pointed out that states which are ranked high in ease of doing business have low unemployment rate compared to the all-India average.
“It’s important to realise that the recipe for job creation will also eventually come through entrepreneurship. Government cannot be final provider of jobs,” she said.
Shamika Ravi also stressed on the need to improve improve fundamental quality of India’s data systems.

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IHCL, GIC strike Rs 4,000-crore deal to acquire premium hotels in India

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Mumbai :One of India’s largest hotel chains, Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), has tied up with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC to jointly acquire premium hotels in the country. The initial outlay of deal is pegged at Rs 4,000 crore for a period of three years with GIC contributing 70 per cent and IHCL pitching in with the rest.
Each acquisition will be housed under a separate special purpose vehicle (SPV) and will be branded and managed by IHCL. The SPVs will acquire fully operational hotels which will also include distressed or underperforming hotels that can be turned around.
Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO of IHCL, said: “The investment platform will acquire strategic and marquee assets that need new ownership branding and positioning.”
The new partnership is in line with IHCL’s asset light business model with about 40 per cent of the current rooms it operates falling under this model. The company has been increasing the management contract pie consistently over the past few years.
For GIC, the investment offers an opportunity to create a hospitality portfolio in major destinations across India. Kok Sun Lee, chief investment officer of GIC Real Estate, is confident of the outlook for India’s hospitality sector. “The partnership will offer GIC attractive opportunities and capture the sector’s growth potential,” he said.
chart Analysts believe the partnership is a win-win for both, especially given the long gestation period for the sector. “An investor with deep pockets such as GIC will help share the investment risk and will add to IHCL’s revenues both from management fees as well as branding,” says an analyst at a domestic brokerage. Given the increasing delays in execution for greenfield projects and poor returns from the same, major hotel chains, including IHCL, are now preferring to acquire or run hotels under the management contract model.
The total inventory in the premium category (luxury, upper upscale and upscale segments which will be acquired under this partnership) is pegged at 118,000 rooms and the segment is growing at 3-4 per cent a year. While there are opportunities, analysts believe that the initial capital may not suffice, as 500 rooms in this category would cost upwards of Rs 1,500 crore, considering that the cost per room of Rs 3-4 crore. The positive for the partnership, however, is that conditions are conducive given the uptick in the demand cycle and muted supply.

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Aircel lenders agree to take 99% haircut on dues worth Rs 20,000 crore

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Mumbai : In an unprecedented move, lenders to bankrupt telecom operator Aircel have agreed to take a massive 99 per cent haircut on their outstanding dues worth Rs 20,000 crore by agreeing to a Rs 150-crore upfront offer by UV Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC).


The move may lead to litigation as some of the operational creditors are planning to challenge the committee of creditors’ (CoC’s) decision in both local and US courts.


A source said the resolution plan was approved by 73.88 per cent (in voting share) of lenders and was rejected by Canara Bank and China Development Bank. State Bank of India, Syndicate Bank, Bank of Baroda, L&T Finance, Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Punjab National Bank, Exim Bank, and Nordic Bank voted for the offer.

 


Aircel admitted itself to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in February 2018 even as all its directors resigned just before the bankruptcy filing.


According to the plan, the ARC will try to sell fibre, spectrum and telecom assets of the company to recover the bank dues. Aircel had shut its wireless services long ago and forfeited its customer base.


The company is currently conducting only part of its enterprise business and its employee strength stands reduced to just 200.


Like several telcos, Aircel lost its India business after the Supreme Court cancelled its pan-India wireless telephony licence in 2012.


A spokesperson of UV ARC declined to comment. The insolvency professional Vijay Iyer was not available for comment. In a related development, creditors who haven’t been paid are contemplating action in US courts against its earlier promoter Maxis, which has given indemnities to local operational creditors.


GTL Infrastructure, which has made a claim of Rs 13,000 crore over the termination of its contract, is also likely to take appropriate legal action if this plan gets implemented, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

GTL Infrastructure has already moved the NCLT as an operational creditor.
Aircel’s fibre business of around 15,000 km is not that sizeable, though it has presence in Jammu & Kashmir and the North East. Aircel also has under 2,000 towers (current valuations are at Rs 25 lakh a tower) and a total of around 85 MHz of spectrum, most of which is in the 2,100 band.

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