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IMF-World Bank ends meetings with call to brace for risks

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Indonesia: Global financial leaders wrapped up an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Saturday by urging countries to brace for potential risks from trade disputes and other tensions.

The meetings in Bali, Indonesia, this week were overshadowed by a spate of financial market turmoil and by the threat to global growth from the trade clash between the U.S. and China over Beijing’s technology policies.

The International Monetary and Financial Committee, which advises the IMF’s board of governors, issued a communique on Saturday urging countries to keep debt under control, engineer policies ensure credit is available in line with their levels of inflation and ensure sustained economic growth “for the benefit of all.”

 

IMF members also pledged to avoid devaluing currencies to seek a trade advantage by making a country’s exports relatively cheaper.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that while global growth is still strong, it has leveled off. The IMF started the meetings in Bali by downgrading its 2018 estimate for global growth to a still robust 3.7 percent from an earlier forecast of 3.9 percent.

 

“I think it’s not inconsistent to have a plateaued growth and downside risks that are the clouds on the horizon, some of which have begun to open up,” Lagard said. Adding that given the level of debt around the world, “we’ve given strong recommendations and in terms of trade: de-escalate and please dialogue.”

 

Countries should seek to ensure their levels of debt are manageable and that policies foster growth for all, she said. “Sail together and we will be stronger. Focus on your policies. Don’t drift and let’s cooperate as much as we can because we will be better off together.”

 

China’s central bank governor, Yi Gang, joined the chorus of consternation over the trade standoff, which has resulted in Washington imposing penalty tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of imports of Chinese products and Beijing responding in kind. Protectionism and trade tensions are “major risks” for the world economy, he said in a statement to fellow financial leaders.

 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin downplayed the level of alarm, saying he doesn’t lose sleep over the possibility that China might step up its sales of U.S. treasuries in retaliation for pressure from Washington to alter national economic strategies aimed at nurturing Chinese leaders in many advanced technologies.

 

Mnuchin said it was still not certain if President Donald Trump would meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a Group of 20 summit late next month in Buenos Aires. Reports that such a meeting was likely raised hopes for progress on the impasse between the world’s two largest economies, stilling disquiet on financial markets Friday.

 

“I don’t think any decision has been made in regards to a meeting,” he said, saying he favored one. “The president will decide.”

 

It’s unclear if the two sides can make enough progress before then given the limited room for maneuvering. Apart from chronic U.S. trade deficits, the policies Washington objects to are central to Beijing’s strategy for guiding the economy for decades to come.

 

Stepping up Chinese imports of U.S. goods and commodities such as liquefied natural gas won’t cut it, Mnuchin said.

 

It’s “about structural issues,” he said. “This is not about buying more soybeans and buying more LNG.”

 

“There have to be meaningful commitments to create a rebalanced trading relationship,” he said.

 

Yi, the head of China’s central bank, said China “stands ready” to cooperate with everyone to support freer trade and investment.

 

“Countries should jointly take measures against trade protectionism and strive to make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all,” he said.


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Income Tax return processing time to reduce from 63 days to just 1 day

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Mumbai:The Union Cabinet approved an integrated income-tax e-filing and centralised processing centre (CPC) portal, which will reduce the return processing time from 63 days to just one day. The new portal is also expected to process the refunds within one day of filing of tax returns, in huge relief for taxpayers. However, one will have to wait for 18 months to see its launch.

“Earlier, taxpayers would face troubles because of delay in refund processing and the CBDT used to spend a lot of money every year as interest on pending refunds, which will be history now,” Union minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here.

Last month, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra had said a simplified return form and process would be put in place soon in which the department would process the self-declaration made by the taxpayer. The new Rs 4,241-crore project will incorporate these changes.

 

“This is a laudable initiative and will go a long way to ease tax compliance, and enhanced experience for taxpayers. However, the real success of this will be measured when it brings ease to a common man and is accompanied by changes in the culture of the tax authorities at the operational level,” said Neeru Ahuja, partner, Deloitte India.

Currently, the e-filing portal and the CPC work separately. While e-filing is being managed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the CPC is run by Infosys.

In the bids invited by the government, Infosys emerged as the lowest bidder and it would develop the ITR-CPC 2.0 project in 18 months from now, Goyal said.

Under the new system, Infosys will handle end-to-end solution — from e-filing to return assessment to refund processing. The CBDT and Infosys would work in a revenue-sharing model, sources in the know said.

Goyal said ramping up scrutiny was not the mandate of the new portal. Currently, about 0.3 per cent of the I-T returns are scrutinised, he said. The system intends to resolve taxpayer grievances as well as tax demands from the CBDT faster and equitably, he said.

“The decision will ensure horizontal equity by processing returns filed by all categories of taxpayers across the country in a consistent, uniform, rule driven, identity blind manner. This will assure fairness in tax treatment to every taxpayer irrespective of their status,” a government release said.

But even under the new ecosystem, only those applications which are clean would have the chance of getting processed in a day, sources said.

About 23 crore I-T returns have been processed, along with Rs 2.62 trillion worth of refunds, till September 2018 cumulatively. Of this, refunds worth Rs 1.83 trillion have been processed in 2018-19, said Goyal.

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Lenders considering resolution plan for Jet Airways: SBI

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Mumbai: State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday said lenders are considering a resolution plan for Jet Airways to ensure long-term viability of the debt-laden company.

The SBI statement comes a day after the crisis-hit airline said discussions were “progressing well” with stakeholders on a comprehensive resolution plan that also contemplates equity infusion and consequent changes in its board of directors.

There are rising concerns over financial health of Jet Airways, whose shares have also taken a beating at stock exchanges.

 

“We would like to state that lenders are considering a restructuring plan under the RBI framework for resolution of stressed assets that would ensure a long-term viability of the company,” SBI said in a statement.

It said the restructuring plan for the cash-strapped airline would need approval from boards of lenders.

“Any such plan would be subject to approval of boards of the lenders and subject to adherence and clearance, if required, from the RBI and/or Sebi (takeover code, ICDR regulations.) and Ministry of Civil Aviation and in compliance with all regulatory prescriptions,” the statement said.

Shares of the airline are trading 4.24 per cent lower at Rs 259.50 apiece on BSE.

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NGT slams Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore as per its 2018 order

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New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) slammed German auto major Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore in accordance with its November 16, 2018 order and directed it to submit the amount within 24 hours.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel took strong exception to the non-compliance of its order by the automobile giant and asked it to give an undertaking that it will submit the amount by 5 PM Friday.

“Why have you not complied with our order when there is no stay. We will not give you any further time,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said while asking Volkswagen to submit an affidavit of compliance after deposit.

 

The tribunal deferred the matter for hearing after it was informed that the Supreme Court is also seized of the issue.

On November 16 last year, the tribunal had said that the use of ”cheat device” by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India leads to inference of environmental damage and had asked the German auto major to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

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