QBiz: LS Clears Finance Bill 2017; Rupee Falls After 17-Month High

A roundup of important business news.

1. Lok Sabha Passes Finance Bill 2017

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday signed off on Finance Bill 2017, ratifying the government’s tax proposals announced in the budget and also a small but significant package of reform initiatives directed at improving the ease of doing business and boosting anti-corruption initiatives undertaken by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Accordingly, the government has made Aadhaar mandatory for filing of income-tax returns and for obtaining and retaining the permanent account number (PAN) from 1 July and capped legal cash transactions at Rs 2 lakh, ensuring a paper trail for all high-value transactions.

To improve the ease of doing business and ensuring faster disposal of cases by various tribunals, the government will also reduce the number of tribunals and bring parity in pay and service conditions of the officials. The merger of eight tribunals with existing ones and pay parity for judges will ensure that these quasi-judicial bodies are adequately staffed, ensuring faster disposal of cases.

(Source: Livemint)

2. Rupee Down 14 Paise to 65.44 After 17-Month High

The rupee came under a renewed selling pressure and retreated from a nearly 17-month high to end at 65.44, falling by 14 paise against the American unit on fresh dollar demand from importers.

Overall forex market sentiment turned sour after fresh bouts of global jitters took the centre-stage in the midst of mounting uncertainty over possible delay of Donald Trump's proposed economic growth agenda.

Domestic bourses endured a miserable day after recent record breaking rally and plunged more than 1 percent, spooked by a massive sell-off on Wall Street overnight.

Forex dealers attributed the fall in the home currency to increased demand for the dollar from importers and corporates. However, dollar’s self weakness limited rupee’s decline.

(Source: Times of India)

3. India Likely to Sell Axis Bank, ITC, L&T Shares Through ETF

India’s government is likely to sell part of the stakes it holds in Axis Bank Ltd, ITC Ltd and Larsen & Toubro Ltd through an exchange-traded fund (ETF) this year, people familiar with the matter said.

The new ETF would be larger than the Central Public Sector Enterprises ETF, a fund unveiled in 2014 that’s made up of the government’s shares in state-owned companies, the people said, asking not to be identified as a final decision regarding size and timing of the latest sales hasn’t been made yet.

While it’s the fourth occasion India will be using an ETF to sell shares it holds to maintain public spending without increasing the fiscal deficit, it’s the first time that a fund will house equity in private-sector companies, rather than state-controlled enterprises.

(Source: Livemint)

4. Aadhaar May Become the Only Card in Future, Says Jaitley

Aadhaar may become the only card in future, replacing all types of other identity cards like voter ID card, PAN card etc, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday.

He was replying to a question from the opposition in the Lok Sabha as why there are so many ID cards despite Aadhaar's introduction.

On why Aadhaar being made mandatory for I-T returns, Jaitley said that many persons have been found with multiple PAN cards and that's why the government felt the need to introduce the system.

(Source: Economic Times)

5. Apple Officials Take Up Duty Wishlist With Finance Ministry

Senior executives of iPhone maker Apple on Wednesday held detailed deliberations on their demands related to duty concessions with finance ministry officials. The meeting assumes significance as the revenue department has rejected the demands of the US-based technology major. The duty wishlist was discussed in a meeting attended by key executives of the company, people privy to the matter said.

Apple India has sought concessions, including duty exemption on manufacturing repair units, components, and capital equipment. It also sought relaxations for consumables for smartphone manufacturing and service or repair for 15 years as it plans to set up a manufacturing unit in India.

These concessions would help the company get component makers to set up units in the country as it cannot source inputs locally.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

6. EMIs of Houses to Come Down If Brought Under PM Awas Yojna

Your monthly home loan instalment or EMI for a new property will come down by around Rs 2,000 if you are buying your first home in a city or town under the PM Awas Yojna (PMAY) and if your annual household income is in the range of Rs 12-18 lakh.

The government is offering an interest subsidy of 3-4 percent on borrowings of Rs 9 lakh to Rs 12 lakh even if the overall loan is higher. Loans availed from January are entitled for the subsidy announced by PM Narendra Modi as part of the post-demonetisation package.

On Wednesday, 70 lending institutions including 45 housing finance companies, 15 scheduled banks, regional rural and cooperative banks signed MoUs with National Housing Bank for implementation of the scheme for the middle class in urban areas.

(Source: Times of India)

7. HZL’s Dividend Highest Ever by Indian Company

Hindustan Zinc has set new Indian benchmarks in sharing wealth with ordinary investors and the state, rewarding stockholders with a record dividend of more than $4 billion exactly 15 years after the government sold the company.

On Wednesday, Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) added a third tranche to its dividend bounty for 2016-17 – a special one-time interim payout of Rs 13,985 crore, translating into 1375 percent, or Rs 27.50 on every equity share having a face value of Rs 2. Together with the Golden Jubilee dividend of 1200 percent paid in April 2016 and an interim dividend in October 2016, the total payout in FY 16-17 amounted to Rs 27,157 crore, the highest by a listed Indian entity in a financial year, the company said.

“A special dividend reflects the company’s confidence in its continued robust performance and demonstrates our commitment toward delivering value for our shareholders.” said Agnivesh Agarwal, Chairman of HZL.

(Source: Economic Times)

8. UK Car Exports to India Grew 11-Fold in 7 Yrs

Export of cars from Britain to India grew almost 11-fold in the past seven years with Tata Motors-owned JLR’s Land Rover and Jaguar models topping the best selling list, according to UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

On the other hand, Indian-built models accounted for 31,535 new car registrations in the UK last year, a growth of 12.6 percent from 2015.

“In 2016, Indian motorists bought 3,372 British-built cars, up from 309 in 2009,” said the automotive industry body SMMT. Last year, demand rose 15.8 percent compared with 2015, lifting India from 10th to 8th place in the UK’s Asia export markets, it added.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

9. Govt Infuses Rs 1,100 Cr Capital Into Indian Overseas Bank

Chennai-based Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) is all set to get Rs 1,100 crore from the Government of India, the major shareholder.

This comes after the bank achieved the parameters set by the government as part of a turnaround-linked capital infusion plan; the ministry of finance has sent the communication, said IOB sources. The bank was expecting Rs 1,550 crore from the Centre but the amount got reduced after some of the capital was redistributed to IDBI.

The government has acknowledged that the bank is taking the right steps, having put in place the right strategies to turn around the institution. That is why they have allocated the additional capital, said an official.

(Source: Business Standard)