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Pension, provident funds to get top priority in repayment from IL&FS: NCLAT

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Mumbai: The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) said pension and provident funds which had invested in Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) would have priority in payment from all categories of companies, whether classified as green, amber or red. While the companies classified under the green category by the new board of IL&FS have been allowed to service their debt to all secured and unsecured creditors, those under amber category had been allowed to service debts of only senior secured creditors.

During the last hearing on May 30, the NCLAT had said that if IL&FS companies under the amber category were not reclassified into the green category, the appellate tribunal will pass orders asking such companies to service 100 per cent debt obligations of the provident and pension funds.The new management of IL&FS said that of the 13 companies under the amber category, three had been reclassified as green. According to sources, these include Jharkhand Road Projects & Implementation Company (JRPIL), Moradabad Bareilly Expressway and West Gujarat Expressway (WGEL).

For Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund (MF) — which was one the fund houses affected by IL&FS entities’ suspending debt repayment — the move is a major relief.
“JRPIL was one of our major exposures in IL&FS, at around Rs 890 crore. The exposure was spread across our medium-term plan, credit risk fund and dynamic bond fund. ‘Green’ classification will make this a standard asset as the debt servicing will resume. JRPIL was a good asset as the money was coming into the special purpose vehicle’s escrow account,” said A Balasubramanian, chief executive officer of Birla Sun Life MF.

 

Among other creditors, L&T Finance also stands to gain from re-classification of these three entities. According to sources, the non-banking financial company (NBFC) had over Rs 1,500-crore exposure to the entities classified as ‘green’. The NBFC’s total exposure to IL&FS is around Rs 1,800 crore, according to people in the know.

Based on the procedure followed by the three IL&FS entities, the remaining companies would also be placed in the green category over time, the counsel for the new management informed the NCLAT. The matter will be next heard on August 8. The new board at IL&FS had classified IL&FS group companies into three categories — green, amber, and red — based on their financial health and ability to service debt obligations to secured and unsecured creditors.

Companies with no cash and not in a position to pay any creditor were classified as red, while those with enough to pay secured creditors but not unsecured ones were put under the amber category.

The firms which have enough money to service all their debts, to the secured as well as unsecured creditors, were classified as green. IL&FS defaulted on debt instruments including loans, bonds and commercial papers of more than Rs 4100 crore as of October 1. The outstanding loan of the IL&FS group is about Rs 60,000 crore, while the debt is over Rs 91,000 crore.


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India will achieve 8 pc plus growth from FY 2020-2021 onwards: Rajiv

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New York: NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar has voiced confidence that India will achieve economic growth of 8 per cent plus from fiscal year 2020-2021 onwards as structural reforms like the GST are set to produce the benefits.

The eminent economist was in the city for the High Level Political Forum Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations Headquarters.

During his visit, he delivered the keynote address at the ‘India Investment Seminar’ held at the Consulate General of India, New York.

 

Kumar stressed that in the next five, the Modi government is focussed on accelerating growth from the current about seven per cent to more than eight per cent that will propel the country to easily achieving the target of becoming a five trillion dollar economy.

“I personally think that in the fiscal year 2020-2021 onwards, we will achieve higher than 8 per cent growth, (continuing) then for the next many years. It is just a fact of (growth) taking off,” Kumar said.

“The foundation has been laid and the transformation has begun with the passing of structural reforms like the Goods and Services Tax, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. These have taken their time to settle down and now they’ll produce the benefits,” Kumar told PTI in an exclusive interview.

“We have the potential to grow at double digit growth rates,” he said.

On the issue of job creation, Kumar emphasised that a very large number of jobs have been generated in the country in the last five years.

“If it was always a jobless growth, then that would have shown up in social strife and social tensions and surely would have meant that this government would not have been re-elected,” he said, adding that the re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government shows that there is a level of satisfaction with the government’s performance.

He however acknowledged that the nature and quality of jobs is not meeting the aspirations of the country’s young people and they want better quality jobs that will engage them fully.

“That has to be ensured by us improving the investment climate for domestic investors as well as foreign direct investors.”

Kumar highlighted that the Union Budget, presented earlier this month, has taken big steps forward for facilitating and further improving ease of doing business by liberalising the inflows of FDI.

“This budget is a paradigm shift in saying that we will achieve accelerated growth and job generation but with the primacy of private investment. That is what our focus is – that will then generate the jobs.”

Underscoring the potential in the agriculture sector, which has 43 per cent of the workforce, Kumar said investment in the agro-processing sectors and improvement in agricultural yields will help exponentially in job creation.

“Our agriculture, when it is transformed and it begins to have much higher volume of agro-processing, growth rates can easily rise from the current two per cent to four per cent,” he said adding that similarly there is a lot of potential in other sectors such as manufacturing and services.

“There is a lot of potential, there were constrains which are now being removed,” he said, citing the example of Labour Codes introduced in Parliament that will simplify the whole labour compliance situation.

He said at the NITI Aayog, the most important focus is on improving private investment by improving the investment climate, accelerating growth, generating jobs, creating policies for that and at the same time ensuring through social programmes that benefits reach the bottom of the pyramid and to the last person standing in the queue.

“The reforms have been done, the network for taking the benefits of growth to the bottom of the pyramid, to the last of the queue has also been laid. The delivery mechanism has been hugely improved,” he said.

Kumar said that inclusionary aspects of social programmes such as Ayushman Bharat, JAM trinity of Jan Dhan bank account, Aadhaar unique identity number and mobile phone, have been put in place.

“When growth accelerates, you will see the benefits at the bottom of the pyramid.”

Kumar pointed out that efforts are also being made to promote private investment in the mine, mineral and coal sectors because otherwise the country’s import dependence is increasing both for oil and gas as well as for coal even though there are huge reserves in the country.

He noted that the SDG principle of ?Leaving No One Behind? finds resonance with the Government of India’s motto of? Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas [Collective Efforts Inclusive Growth]?, which guides all development initiatives.

“It is a proud moment to say that India has not only mainstreamed the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and Agenda 2030 but is on the way to achieving some of the targets ahead of time,” he said.

Kumar acknowledged that while a lot has been achieved through programmes such as Swachh Bharat Mission and Ayushman Bharat, challenges remain in a country of 1.3 billion people – from a water crisis, shortage of energy in parts of the country, pollution and need to increase female participant rates.

“In the last five years, we have laid the foundation for the benefits of growth to reach the bottom of the pyramid. In the next five years we are focussed on accelerating growth.”

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RBI’s change in stance as good as additional 25 bps rate cut: Das

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Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India`s change in monetary policy stance effectively equates to an additional 25-basis-point (bps) rate cut, Governor Shaktikanta Das was reported as saying.

The comments fuelled market speculation over whether the central bank is nearing an end to its current rate-cutting cycle, after three moves this year.Das also said future policy decisions will depend on incoming data, particularly inflation, in an interview with Bloomberg published.

“We have reduced policy rates by 75 bps and we have shifted to accommodative. And shifting of the stance to accommodative itself means a rate cut of 25 bps at least,” Das was quoted as saying.

 

A senior trader with a primary dealership said: “It looks like he is saying dont expect more than a 25 bps cut", adding that Das seemed more concerned about a lack of transmission of the RBIs rate cuts so far.

The benchmark 10-year bond yield rose 8 bps to 6.44% after the comments.

While the RBI has cut rates 75 bps since the start of 2019, banks have only eased their key rate by 15-20 bps.

“Given the role the RBI is assigned, inflation is primary target, and given due weightage to the fact that growth momentum has slowed down. For the revival, various stakeholders have to play the role,” Das said.

The RBI`s next policy meeting is on Aug. 7.

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GST cut on e-vehicles likely

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New Delhi: In a move to encourage domestic manufacturing of e-vehicles, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council is likely to decide on lowering tax rates for electric vehicles soon. Besides, the Council will decide the valuation of goods and services in solar power generating systems and wind turbine projects for levying the GST. The decision will come on its July 25 meeting.

Confirming the development, a source in the Finance Ministry said, “The GST Council will take two important decisions this week; the Council may cut tax rates for electric vehicles and evaluate the GST rates on solar power generating systems and wind turbine projects.”

The 36th meeting of the Council, to be chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, would be conducted through video conferencing with State Finance Ministers.

 

The Council had, in its June meeting, referred the issue relating to the GST concessions on electric vehicle, electric chargers and hiring of electric vehicles, to an officers’ panel. “The recommendations of the officers panel is likely to be placed before the Council on July 25,” the source said.

For electric vehicles’ promotion, the government has already proposed to the Council to slash GST rates to 5 per cent from 12 per cent. The GST rate for petrol and diesel cars and hybrid vehicles is already at the highest bracket of 28 per cent plus cess.

The Council will also consider tax structure for solar power projects. The Delhi High Court had in May asked the Council to take a re-look at the taxation structure following industry petition.

The government had earlier this year said that for the purpose of taxing solar power projects, 70 per cent of contract value would be treated as goods—taxable at 5 per cent—and the balance 30 per cent as services—taxable at 18 per cent.

The solar industry has been pitching for a different ratio for splitting goods and services for levying GST. Further, the Council may also look at taxation of lotteries.

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