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I-T dept attaches benami properties worth Rs 3,500 crore

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New Delhi: The Income Tax Department (ITD) said it has attached more than 900 benami properties including flats, shops, jewellery and vehicles worth over Rs 3,500 crore.
ITD said in a statement that it has stepped up action under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, which came into force from November 1, 2016.
The Act provides for provisional attachment and subsequent confiscation of benami properties, whether movable or immovable.
It also allows for prosecution of the beneficial owner, the benamidar and the abettor to benami transactions, which may result in rigorous imprisonment up to 7 years and a fine of up to 25 per cent of fair market value of the property.
The department had set up 24 dedicated Benami Prohibition Units (BPUs) under its Investigation Directorates all over India in May, 2017 to ensure swift action in respect of Benami properties.
“Due to intensive efforts undertaken by the Department, provisional attachment has been made in more than 900 cases of properties under the Act. These include plots of land, flats, shops, jewellery, vehicles, deposits in bank accounts, fixed deposits etc,” the statement said.
The value of properties under attachment is more than Rs 3,500 crore including immovable properties of more than Rs 2,900 crore, the department said.
Benami literally means ‘without a name’. An asset without a legal owner or a fictitious owner is called benami.
The original Benami Act was introduced in 1988 for prevention of black money and was amended in 2016 to prohibit benami transactions and provides for confiscating benami properties.
ITD said that in five cases, the provisional attachments of Benami properties, amounting to more than Rs 150 crore have been confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority.
In one such case, it was established that a real estate company had acquired about 50 acres of land, valued at more than Rs 110 crore, using the names of certain persons of no means as benamidars, it said without naming the firm.
This was corroborated from the sellers of the land as well as the brokers involved.
In another case, post demonetisation, two assessees were found depositing demonetised currency into multiple bank accounts in the names of their employees and associates to be ultimately remitted to their bank accounts. The total amount attempted to be remitted to the beneficial owners was about Rs 39 crore.
In another case, a cash amount of Rs 1.11 crore was intercepted from a vehicle with a person who denied the ownership of this cash. Subsequently, no one claimed ownership of this cash and it was held to be benami property by the Adjudicating Authority.
“The Department is committed to continue its concerted drive against black money and action against Benami transactions will continue to be intensified,” the statement added.
The Benami Act defines a benami transaction as a transaction where a property is held by or transferred to a person, but has been provided for or paid by another person.
The 2016 Bill amended this definition to add other transactions which qualify as benami. It includes properties where the transaction is made in a fictitious name, or the owner denies knowledge of the ownership of the property, or the person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable.


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India one of world’s fastest growing large economies:IMF

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Washington: India has been one of the fastest growing large economies in the world, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said, asserting that the country has carried out several key reforms in the last five years, but more needs to be done.
Responding to a question on India’s economic development in the last five years at a fortnightly news conference here, IMF communications director Gerry Rice Thursday said, “India has of course been one of the world’s fastest growing large economies of late, with growth averaging about seven per cent over the past five years.”
“Important reforms have been implemented and we feel more reforms are needed to sustain this high growth, including to harness the demographic dividend opportunity, which India has,” he said.
Details about the Indian economy would be revealed in the upcoming World Economic Outlook (WEO) survey report to be released by the IMF ahead of the annual spring meeting with the World Bank next month, he said.
This report would be the first under Indian American economist Gita Gopinath, who is now IMF’s chief economist.
“The WEO will go into more details. But amongst the policy priorities, we would include accelerate the cleanup of banks and corporate balance sheets, continue fiscal consolidation, both at centre and state levels, and broadly maintain the reform momentum in terms of structural reforms in factor markets, labour, land reforms and further enhancing the business climate to achieve faster and more inclusive growth,” Rice said.

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Fitch cuts India GDP growth forecast for FY20 to 6.8 pc

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New Delhi: Fitch Ratings on Friday cut India’s economic growth forecast for the next financial year starting April 1, to 6.8 per cent from its previous estimate of 7 per cent, on weaker than expected momentum in the economy.
“While we have cut our growth forecasts for the next fiscal year (FY20, ending in March 2020) on weaker-than-expected momentum, we still see Indian GDP growth to hold up reasonably well, at 6.8 per cent, followed by 7.1 per cent in FY21,” Fitch said in its Global Economic Outlook. Fitch Ratings cut India’s FY19 GDP growth forecast to 7.2 per cent from 7.8 per cent on December 6.
The rating agency has also cut growth forecasts for FY20 and FY21 to 7 per cent from 7.3 per cent and 7.1 per cent from 7.3 per cent, respectively. According to Fitch, the RBI has adopted a more dovish monetary policy stance and cut interest rates by 0.25 percentage at its February 2019 meeting, a move supported by steadily decelerating headline inflation.
“We have changed our rate outlook and we now expect another 25 bp cut in 2019, amid protracted below target inflation and easier global monetary conditions than previously envisaged,” it said. “On the fiscal side, the budget for FY20 plans to increase cash transfers for farmers,” it added. Fitch said, it’s benign oil price outlook and expectations of accelerating food prices in the coming months should support rural households’ income and consumption.

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India’s total wireless subscribers grew to 1.18 bn in January 2019: TRAI

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New Delhi: India’s total wireless subscribers grew by 0.51 percent to 1,181.97 million (1.18 bn) in January 2019, as per a report by telecom regularor TRAI.
Total wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA & LTE) increased from 1,176.00 million at the end of December 2018 to 1,181.97 million at the end of January 2019, thereby registering a monthly growth rate of 0.51 percent, the TRAI report said.
As on January 31, 2019, the private access service providers held 89.95 percent market share of the wireless subscribers whereas BSNL and MTNL, the two PSU access service providers, had a market share of only 10.05%, the regulator said in its report.
The Wireless subscription in urban areas increased from 647.52 million at the end of December 2018 to 654.20 million at the end of January 2019, however wireless subscriptions in rural areas declined from 528.48 million to 527.77 million during the month.
The monthly growth rates of urban wireless subscription was1.03 percent and rural wireless subscription was 0.13%, the report said
The Wireless Tele-density in India increased from 89.78 at the end of December 2018 to 90.15 at the end of January 2019.
The Urban Wireless Tele-density increased from 155.48 at the end of December 2018 to 156.85 at the end of January 2019, however Rural Wireless Tele-density declined from 59.15 to 59.04 during the same period.
The share of urban and rural wireless subscribers in total number of wireless subscribers was 55.35 percent and 44.65 percent respectively at the end of January 2019.

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