QBiz: Telcos to Decide on Dues; New Demat Accounts at 10-Yr High

1. Telcos to Take a Call on Paying AGR Dues Today

Vodafone Idea Ltd, the worst hit by the top court’s order on telecom dues, will await the hearing of its modification plea seeking easier payment terms before clearing dues to the government, a person aware of the development said.

While Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, the least affected by the court order, indicated that it will pay dues before the 23 January deadline set by the court, Bharti Airtel chose not to reveal its exact plan, although the company has raised USD 3 billion earlier this month to repay dues, according to three people aware of the development, who requested anonymity.

(Source: Mint)

2. Govt Mulls Mediation to Solve I-T Issues With Cos

The government may adopt a mediation mechanism that will help companies determine their future tax liabilities and even settle disputes, said a person familiar with the development. The concept, which is widely prevalent overseas, is being discussed amid preparations for the 1 February budget, the person said.

Mediation will allow taxpayers to get a fix on how much they need to pay and avoid disputes. “This will bring down litigation substantially,” the person said.

The mediation process involves examining tax legislation and all relevant facts in detail. Neutral mediators, chosen from a panel, will negotiate and arrive at a settlement. The decision is binding on both sides.

The government could also look at expanding the Dispute Resolution Panel mechanism, which handles transfer pricing disputes, as an alternative, the person said.

(Source: The Economic Times)

3. 15th Finance Commission May Hike Grants, Cut Devolution to States

The Fifteenth Finance Commission (15th FC), in its report for 2020-21, is believed to have reduced the devolution to states from the existing 42 percent of the divisible tax pool, giving the revenue-strapped Centre some breathing space.

However, the Commission has increased the tied funds, such as grants related to revenue deficit and disaster relief, and is bringing back performance-based incentives, Business Standard has learnt. Any reduction in devolution could aggravate the strained relations between the Centre and some opposition-ruled states on a number of issues.

(Source: Business Standard)

4. Govt Staggers GSTR Filing Deadline to Ease System Load

After taxpayers complained of technical glitch in filing the monthly summary GST returns (GSTR3B), the government on Wednesday said it would allow staggered filing on the basis of turnover and location to ease the load on the system which is witnessed closer to the filing deadline on 20th of every month.

For about 8 lakh taxpayers with turnover over Rs 5 crore, the last date of filing would remain the same. For those below the turnover threshold, they have been further divided into two groups of 46 and 49 lakh taxpayers belonging to two sets of states and UTs whose deadline will now be 22nd and 24th of every month, respectively.

(Source: Financial Express)

5. Vadilal Ice Cream Eyes a Rs 1,000 Crore PE Flavour

The feuding promoters of Vadilal Industries Ltd are in advanced talks to sell their entire stake in the ice cream maker and its domestic distribution business to a combine of Arpwood Partners and PAG, two people aware of the development said.

“It will be an all-cash deal that would involve Vadilal’s promoters exiting both their companies completely. The transaction is likely to value the business at around Rs 1,000 crore," one of the two people said, requesting anonymity. Investment bank Lincoln International is advising Vadilal on the transaction, the person added.

Rajesh Gandhi, Virendra Gandhi and Devanshu Gandhi, along with other family members, form the promoter group.

(Source: Mint)

6. Budget 2020: Prakash Javadekar Hints at 'Action Plan' for Economic Revival

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday, 22 January, said the government would unveil its “plan of action” in the Budget to boost the economy, which is grappling with a slowdown. The Budget is scheduled to be presented on 1 February.

The economy is on the path of revival and nobody should have a pessimistic view about it, said Javadekar said in response to a query about the downward revision of India’s growth rate by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He was speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday after a Union Cabinet meeting. He said: “From the Union Budget, you will get the government’s plan of action. Our fundamentals are very strong.” “Therefore, nobody should create a pessimistic view about Indian economy,” he added.

(Source: Business Standard)

7. Piramal Group to Invest Rs 500 Crore in Telangana

The Piramal Group has agreed to invest Rs 500 crore in Telangana over the next three years. The investment is expected to be made for new manufacturing units, warehouses and utility expansion. The Telangana delegation, headed by industries minister KT Rama Rao, clinched the deal with Piramal Group at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

“After a series of deliberations at the Telangana pavilion in Davos, the Piramal Group has agreed to invest Rs 500 crore over the next three years in the state. The proposed investment is expected to increase production capacities with creation of new manufacturing blocks, warehouse expansion, and utility augmentation, etc,’’ a statement from the government said.

(Source: Financial Express)

8. New Demat Accounts Climb to 10-Year High as Retail Investors Pile Into Equities

Retail investors piled into the Indian stock market in a year that saw soaring equities and a slowing economy, driving the number of new dematerialised accounts opened in 2019 to a 10-year high.

According to data from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), both new demat accounts, and the total number of such accounts hit a 10-year high in 2019. While new demat account openings rose 12.5 percent from the previous year to touch 4.5 million, total demat accounts at the end of 2019 stood at 39.3 million, up from 34.8 million in 2018.

A demat account is opened by an investor with a depository participant to invest in securities such as stocks and bonds. The securities are held in digital format.

(Source: Mint)

9. Business Leaders Come Together, Set up Body for Climate Change Action

At a time when global business captains in Davos are debating how to deal with climate-change risks, top Indian philanthropists have launched India Climate Collaborative (ICC), aimed at connecting and strengthening the Indian climate community.

This marks the first-ever collective response by Indian industry leaders, such as Ratan N Tata, Anand Mahindra, Rohini Nilekani, Nadir Godrej, Aditi and Rishad Premji, Vidya Shah, and Hemendra Kothari, for an effective action “towards a shared climate goal”.

Among ICC’s tasks would be to build a compelling, India-focused climate narrative and drive solutions that help people and nature thrive, said a statement from the institution.

(Source: Business Standard)

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