1. Centre Allows 100% Tax Rebate for Contributions to PM-CARES Fund
The central government allowed 100 percent tax deduction for donations made to newly instituted COVID-19 relief fund, PM-CARES Fund, through an ordinance issued on Tuesday, 31 March. Earlier, the government had announced 50 percent deduction.
This brings its tax treatment on a par with the Prime Minister National Relief Fund.
The ordinance, called Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020, also gave effect to a slew of tax compliance related relief measures announced by FM Nirmala Sitharaman on 24 March in response to the pandemic.
The relief includes extension of GST returns filing, direct tax dispute resolution scheme Vivad se Vishwas and Aadhar-PAN linkage till 30 June.
(Source: Business Standard)
2. New Direct Tax Regime Starts Today
Big changes in India’s direct tax regime will come into force on Wednesday, 1 April, covering a host of stakeholders, including non-resident Indians (NRIs), company shareholders, digital firms and individual income taxpayers, with provisions of the Finance Act taking effect on 1 April.
One of the key changes that take effect applies to non-residents. NRIs who have more than Rs 15 lakh income from Indian sources will be deemed as Indian residents for the purpose of taxation if they had spent 120 days in India in the previous year. Earlier, the time Indian citizens or persons of Indian origin needed to spend in India to qualify as Indian tax resident was 182.
One relief the government has granted is that only the Indian sourced income of NRIs will be taxed in India in such cases, not their global income.
3. Government To Borrow Rs 4.88 Lakh Crore In First Half Of FY 2021
The government will borrow Rs 4.88 lakh crore in the first half of fiscal 2020-21 starting 1 April to shore up resources amid a war it is waging to contain economic fallout of coronavirus pandemic, DEA Secretary Atanu Chakraborty said on Tuesday, 31 March.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had in her budget for 2020-21 pegged gross borrowing in the new financial year at Rs 7.8 lakh crore, higher than Rs 7.1 lakh crore estimated in the current fiscal.
Gross borrowing includes repayments of past loans.
Presenting Budget for 2020-21, Ms Sitharaman had said net market borrowing for the year 2019-20 would be Rs 4.99 lakh crore and for the year 2020-21, it would be Rs 5.36 lakh crore.
4. Fiscal Deficit Touches 135.2% Of Budget Estimate At February-End
The government's fiscal deficit touched 135.2 percent of the full-year target at February-end mainly due to slower pace of revenue collections, according to an official data released on Tuesday, 31 March.
In actual terms, the fiscal deficit or the gap between expenditure and revenue was Rs 10,36,485 crore, the data by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) showed. During February, there was hardly any impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy. However, it would be very much visible when CGA releases the numbers for the entire fiscal.
The government aims to restrict the fiscal deficit at 3.8 percent of the GDP or Rs 7.1 lakh crore in 2019-20. The deficit was 134.2 percent of 2018-19 Budget Estimate (BE) in the corresponding period.
5. PPF to Fetch 7.1%, NSC 6.8% as Govt Cuts Small Savings Interest Rates
Your money in small savings schemes, such as public provident fund (PPF), would fetch you much lower rates of return in the first quarter of 2020-21.
This is because the government went for one of the steepest cuts of up to 1.4 percentage points in these interest rates to facilitate banks to lower their rates.
The move came days after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced 75 basis-points cut in policy rate.
The popular public provident fund (PPF) scheme will now fetch 0.8 percentage points lower interest rate at 7.1 percent against the current 7.9 percent.
Similarly, national savings certificate will now yield 6.8 percent rate of return, down 1.1 percentage points from 7.9 percent.
(Source: Business Standard)
6. Pharma industry Suffers Blow as Lockdown Restricts Allied Services, Workers
Despite being part of essential services, production of pharmaceuticals in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial belt of Himachal Pradesh has suffered a blow following the lockdown with many units, especially MSMEs, suspending operations or running at sub-optimal capacity.
According to employees in the industry, disruptions in allied services such as supply of raw materials, transport, packaging and stringent lockdown conditions have led to a drastic decline in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
(Source: The Indian Express)
7. Bond Markets Rally On New Foreign Investment Category
Bond markets rallied on Tuesday after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced a new category for foreign investors, while hopes of a reduction in April's borrowing or cancellation ahead of the first-half borrowing plan aided sentiment. The RBI said on Monday it was introducing a new category called the "fully accessible route" for foreign investors, in line with the budget announcement earlier this year.
Investors can buy all fresh issuance of 5, 10 and 30-year bonds starting 1 April under this category, while five existing papers will also become eligible to be held under this, the RBI said.
8. Govt to Suffer Hefty Loss in Jet, Auto Fuel Taxes
The central government is set to suffer a hefty loss in excise duty collections on jet fuel and auto fuel in the three-week lockdown until 14 April, with aircraft grounded and most vehicles off roads.
The loss could be as high as ₹16,000 crore for petrol and diesel alone, going by the consumption trend and the current excise duty of ₹22.98 on a litre of petrol and ₹18.83 on a litre of diesel. India has consumed an average 3.4 billion litres of petrol and 8.3 billion litres of diesel in a month so far this fiscal year.
With air travel suspended, losses from excise duty on aviation turbine fuel levied at 11% of its price will add heavily to the burden.
9. March Sees India's Biggest Monthly Foreign Investor Rout Ever
The country's markets are set to witness the biggest sell-off by foreign investors in a single month in March, as a 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus raised fears of a devastating impact on an already-slowing economy.
Foreign institutional investors sold nearly $16 billion worth of equity and debt as of Monday, according to depository data, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government announced economic relief aimed at the poor and regulators relaxed compliance norms.
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