QBiz: Govt May Hire Auditors Over AGR; GST Compensation to States

1. Govt May Hire Auditors to Settle AGR Dues Row

The government is exploring the possibility of roping in third-party audit firms to reconcile dues payable by telecom operators after differences emerged in individual calculations made by the government and telcos, said a person aware of the development.

The exercise, if successful, could result in the two parties reaching a middle ground on payment of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. A 24 October verdict of the Supreme Court upheld the department of telecommunications’ (DoT) definition of AGR and directed companies to pay licence fee and spectrum usage charge dues.

(Source: Livemint)

2. Even as Vodafone Idea Rating Remains Unsure, Fitch Takes Bharti Airtel off 'Watch Negative'

Rating agency Fitch removed Bharti Airtel from ‘watch negative’ and affirmed the telecom’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating at ‘BBB-’ with a stable outlook. Meanwhile another rating agency Crisil has downgraded its rating on Vodafone Idea's non-convertible debentures worth ₹3,500 crore to B+ from BB, the telecom major said a filing to the exchanges on Thursday.

The development comes after Supreme Court on Friday pulled up Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea as well as officials of DoT for delaying the payment of dues, in contravention of its 24 October verdict that upheld the government’s definition of AGR, after a 14-year long legal battle.

(Source: Livemint)

3. Centre Pays Rs 19,950 Crore GST Compensation to States

The central government has paid Rs19,950 crore on Monday to states as compensation for their revenue loss in the goods and services tax (GST) regime, said a government official.

Including this, the Narendra Modi administration has paid over Rs1.2 trillion towards GST compensation to states and union territories, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The compensation payment made is more than what has been collected so far this year by way of the cess on certain luxury goods and tobacco amounting to Rs78,874 crore. For the additional payments, the Centre has utilised the surplus cess collected in the previous years.

(Source: Livemint)

4. Sunil Mittal Meets Telecom Minister Amid AGR Turmoil

Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal has met Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday, a day after calling on Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, a person aware of the development said requesting anonymity.

Mint could not immediately ascertain the details of the meeting with Prasad.

The meeting comes at a time when companies in the sector has been dealt a body blow with the department of telecommunications seeking over ₹1 lakh crore in past dues after winning a court verdict on the definition of adjusted gross revenue.

(Source: Livemint)

5. Jet Airways Crisis: Third Round of EoIs Invited After Russian Interest, Deadline Till Sunday

The resolution professional (RP) of the grounded Jet Airways on Thursday invited expressions of interest (EoIs) for the third time since the airline went into insolvency in June 2019. The fresh round of EoIs comes after a Russian state-owned fund showed interest in the debt-laden airline.

The deadline for submission of EoIs is Sunday, subject to approval from Jet’s committee of creditors (CoC) and the adjudicating authority. A resolution plan has to be submitted by 9 March, a company notification said. The RP expects to now submit a final resolution plan, if any, before the National Company Law Tribunal on 15 March.

(Source: Financial Express)

6. Axis Bank, Max Life Eye Strategic Partnership, Pact Signed

Max Financial Services and Axis Bank disclosed to the exchanges on Thursday they had signed a confidentiality and exclusivity arrangement to explore the possibility of the bank entering into a long-term strategic partnership with Max Life.

Max Financial Services holds a 72.5% stake in Max Life while Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Axis Bank hold 25.5% and 2% respectively.

(Source: Financial Express)

7. Income Tax: Budget Does Not Sweeten the Deal for Homebuyers

Over the past few years, the government has been driving an objective of ‘Housing for All by 2022’, giving a push to affordable housing and encouraging first-time homebuyers under various schemes. This includes substantial expenditure by the government in the housing sector under the PM Awas Scheme, providing income tax and GST benefits to developers for promoting affordable housing projects and also providing tax incentive to first time homebuyers buying houses under affordable housing projects.

However, despite various measures the sector continues to be under much stress and demand for housing projects is still sluggish. A large number of private sector developers are struggling to stay afloat due to sluggish demand for housing units and low consumer sentiment for investing in real estate.

(Source: Financial Express)

8. Govt Plans GSTN-Like System to Improve Quality of Data From Discoms

To improve the quality of data received from the state-owned power distribution companies (discoms), the Union power ministry is planning to build a master data management system like the GST Network (GSTN).

The system, according to sources, will be a centralised backend architecture which states can access. Power secretary Sanjiv Nandan Sahai is understood to have advised the states to consider this solution to reduce costs to improve the health of the discoms. The Union power ministry has also directed discoms to have a separate IT cadre with adequate staff at appropriate levels to ensure proper upkeep and availability of IT systems.

(Source: Financial Express)

9. GMR Group to Sell 49% Stake in Airport Business to France's Groupe ADP

GMR Group has signed an agreement with Groupe ADP of France to sell a 49 percent stake in its airport-holding company. The group will raise Rs 10, 780 crore from the deal, which will help it pare debt. The deal values GMR Airports at Rs 22,000 crore.

GMR had in March 2019 signed a definitive agreement with a Tata group-led consortium to sell 44 percent in the company. In January this year, it decided to divest a 49 percent stake. But despite getting clearance from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the deal faced hurdles because it violated a clause that prevents airline groups from holding more than a 10 percent stake in Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL).

(Source: Business Standard)

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