Category Archives: Business

'Increase income tax exemption limit to Rs 3 lakh'

NEW DELHI: With rise in personal disposable income post 7th Pay Commission, the income tax exemption limit needs to be raised by Rs 50,000 to Rs 3 lakh, a SBI report said on Monday.
The move will benefit around 75 lakh people, it said.

The SBI’s Ecowrap report further said that if the exemption limit of interest payments under housing loan is increased to Rs 2.5 lakhs for existing home loan buyers, from Rs 2 lakhs now, it will benefit 75 lakh home loan buyers and cost the government just about Rs 7,500 crore.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is set to present the fifth and final full budget of the current government on February 1. The government has periodically increased the income tax slabs from Rs 22,000 in 1990-91 to Rs 2.5 lakh in 2014-15.

“Due to 7th pay commission, the personal disposable income has been increased, so we believe there is a need to raise the exemption limit to Rs 3 lakh. Due to such increase in limit, around 75 lakh tax payers will be exempted from income tax,” said the report — ‘Union Budget: If wishes were horses!’.

It has also pitched for incentivising savings through bank deposits. In an effort to incentivise savings, it said, the government can exempt interest of savings bank deposits.

The exemption limit on TDS on interest on term deposits with banks may be raised from the present limit of Rs 10,000 per annum, it said.

Also, the lock-in period for tax savings term deposits needs to be reduced to 3 years from the present 5 years and these deposits should be brought under EEE (exempt, exempt, exempt) tax regime.

The SBI report said that SBI’s expectations regarding the forthcoming budget are based upon principle of inclusive growth and meeting the medium and long term objectives set by the government.

“As per our reading of the things, budget should give priority to agriculture, MSME, infrastructure and affordable housing,” it said.

Agriculture reforms should aim at re-examination of legally created structures whose provisions are restrictive and create barriers to free trade, it said.

Centre in conjunction with states should emulate the price support schemes like in Madhya Pradesh and Haryana say ‘Bhavantar Krishi Yojana’ for major crops (including vegetables).

“This scheme will help farmers in situations (when wholesale price of the crop is less than the MSP) and the cost of which is only 10 per cent of farm loan waiver programme as per our estimates. Provision of A2 milk in Mid-day meals for children will create adequate additional income for 16 million farmer per year,” the report said.

Regarding investment revival, the report said capital subsidy in case of delayed projects equal to cost overrun may be provided. Cost overrun may be funded at concessional interest rate by the government in such cases.

Also, there is a “dire need” to publish monthly payroll report in India for formal sector as job creation is “grossly underreported”.

Other measures like providing support infrastructure and skilling and certifying workers need to be adopted, it added.

All 11,000 trains, 8,500 stations to have CCTV 

NEW DELHI: In its endeavour to provide a safe and secure travel experience to passengers, Indian Railways is pitching for the procurement of about 12 lakh CCTV cameras to ensure state-of-the-art surveillance systems in all trains and stations across the country.
The Railways will make a provision of around Rs 3,000 crore in its budget for 2018-19 to install CCTV systems in all 11,000 trains — including premier and suburban services — and all the 8,500 stations in the Indian rail network, to provide safety and security at rail premises.

As per the plan, while each coach will have eight CCTV cameras covering the entry gates, aisle and vestibules, all crucial points at stations will have the systems.

Currently, there are about 395 stations and about 50 trains that are equipped with CCTV systems.

“All mail/express and premier trains, including Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto and local passenger services, will be equipped with the modern surveillance systems in the next two years,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Railways is exploring various options to fund the installation of the CCTV surveillance systems — and may even raise resources from the market if needed.

Given the increased number of derailments last year, the Rail Budget this time is slated to give top priority to safety and prevention of accidents — followed by improving passenger amenities to make the journey pleasant.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would roll out the details of provision for strengthening safety mechanism in train operations in his Budget 2018-19.

Elimination of 4,943 unmanned level-crossings, replacement of all old tracks and strengthening of the remaining tracks are among other safety-related proposals that will be highlighted in the budget.

Besides track defects, unmanned level-crossings are among the reasons for a maximum number train accidents.

It has been decided to eliminate all unmanned level crossings by 2020, the official said.

Budget: Govt may hike agri-credit target to Rs 11 lakh crore

NEW DELHI: The farm credit target is likely to be raised by a whopping Rs 1 lakh crore to a record Rs 11 lakh crore in the Budget 2018-19 to improve credit flow in the agriculture sector, according to sources.
In the current fiscal, the government has kept a credit target of Rs 10 lakh crore. Of which, Rs 6.25 lakh crore has already been disbursed in the first six months till September 2017, the government data showed.

“The government’s priority is agriculture. There is a possibility that the credit disbursal target for the agriculture sector will further be increased to Rs 11 lakh crore for the next fiscal,” sources said.

Since credit is a critical input in achieving higher farm output, the institutional credit will help delink farmers from non-institutional sources of credit where they are compelled to borrow at usurious rates of interest, they said.

Normally, farm loan attracts an interest rate of 9 per cent. But the government has been providing interest subvention to make available short-term farm credit at an affordable rate and help boost farm output.

The government is providing 2 per cent interest subsidy to ensure farmers get short-term farm loan of up to Rs 3 lakh at an effective rate of 7 per cent per annum.

An additional incentive of 3 per cent is being given to farmers for prompt repayment of loans within due date, making an effective interest rate for them at 4 per cent.

The interest subvention is given to public sector banks (PSBs), private lenders, cooperative banks and regional rural banks (RRBs) on use of own funds and to Nabard for refinance for RRBs and cooperative banks.

It may be noted that all short-term crop loan accounts are being Aadhaar-linked from the current year. Even the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) is linked to availing of crop loans.

Pressure on Bharti, other telecom companies could partly ease: Fitch

NEW DELHI: India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel‘s weak earnings may have marked a low point for Indian telcos but some bit of pressure could lift this year as Jio-triggered market competition starts to ease, according to Fitch Ratings.
The statement comes after Airtel last week posted over 39 per cent fall in consolidated net profit to about Rs 306 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2017.

Fitch termed the current low industry tariffs as “unsustainable” and said it expects them to rise in 2018, as Jio switches gear from gaining customers to making reasonable returns on its investments in the sector.

“Bharti Airtel’s rating headroom will narrow due to lower cash generation and high capex requirements in the financial year ending March 2018 (FY18),” Fitch Ratings said in a statement.

That said, Fitch pointed out that pressure on Bharti and other incumbent Indian telcos “should begin to fade this year” as the competition triggered by Reliance Jio‘s 2016 market entry begins to ease.

It noted that Bharti is committed to maintaining an investment-grade rating and intends to sell a larger stake in its tower arm, Bharti Infratel, in FY19. In the last one year, it has sold 18.5 per cent in Infratel for about $1.9 billion.

“We forecast annual negative free cash flow $600 million-800 million during FY18-19, as Bharti’s cash flow from operations will be insufficient to fund large capex requirements,” Fitch said.

Stating that the company has raised its capex guidance to bolster its 4G network, Fitch said that the proposal to allow telcos more time to pay for the spectrum they bought in auctions would “only partially ease cash flow pressures”.

Fitch predicts that Bharti’s revenue and Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) will “rebound” in FY19 driven by a likely improvement in the blended average revenue per user (ARPU) in the Indian mobile sector as data usage and tariffs rise.

Fitch said that the outlook for the Indian telco sector is “improving” and that the results in just-concluded quarter could have been the a low point for Bharti and other established players.

“We revised the sector outlook to stable in 2018 from negative in 2017, as we expect competition to ease now that industry consolidation is all but completed,” it said.

The industry revenue growth is likely to be in the mid- single-digits, after a decline in 2017.

Sensex soars 286 points, Nifty knocks on 11,000-mark

NEW DELHI: On Monday, Sensex and Nifty extended its bull run to finish on closing highs again as Nifty came within striking distance of 11,000-mark.

30-share BSE Sensex gained 286.43 points to close on 35,798.01. The BSE index however had pared slightly from the intra-day high of 35,827.70. Nifty too touched all-time high of 10,975.10 before closing on 10,966.20.

All sectoral sub-indices apart from metal and PSU bank finished in the green, with the IT sub-index rallying the most to gain more than 2 per cent during the day.

The Street has been experiencing an impressive run for the last couple of weeks with investor sentiments riding high on improving macroeconomic indicators and strong global cues.

TCS, Reliance, Axis Bank and IndiaBulls gained the most while Hindustan Petroleum, GAIL and Bharti Airtel dragged.

WEF ranks India below Pakistan and China in Inclusive Development Index

DAVOS: India was on Friday ranked at the 62nd place among emerging economies on an Inclusive Development Index, much below China’s 26th position and Pakistan‘s 47th.
Norway remains the world’s most inclusive advanced economy, while Lithuania again tops the list of emerging economies, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said while releasing the yearly index here before the start of its annual meeting, to be attended by several world leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump.

The index takes into account the “living standards, environmental sustainability and protection of future generations from further indebtedness”, the WEF said. It urged the leaders to urgently move to a new model of inclusive growth and development, saying reliance on GDP as a measure of economic achievement is fuelling short-termism and inequality.

India was ranked 60th among 79 developing economies last year, as against China’s 15th and Pakistan’s 52nd position.

The 2018 index, which measures progress of 103 economies on three individual pillars — growth and development; inclusion; and inter-generational equity — has been divided into two parts. The first part covers 29 advanced economies and the second 74 emerging economies.

The index has also classified the countries into five sub-categories in terms of the five-year trend of their overall Inclusive Development Growth score — receding, slowly receding, stable, slowly advancing and advancing.

Despite its low overall score, India is among the ten emerging economies with ‘advancing’ trend. Only two advanced economies have shown ‘advancing’ trend.

Among advanced economies, Norway is followed by Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Denmark in the top five.

Small European economies dominate the top of the index, with Australia (9) the only non-European economy in the top 10. Of the G7 economies, Germany (12) ranks the highest. It is followed by Canada (17), France (18), the UK (21), the US (23), Japan (24) and Italy (27).

The top-five most inclusive emerging economies are Lithuania, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Latvia and Poland.

Performance is mixed among BRICS economies, with the Russian Federation ranking 19th, followed by China (26), Brazil (37), India (62) and South Africa (69).

Of the three pillars that make up the index, India ranks 72nd for inclusion, 66th for growth and development and 44th for inter-generational equity.

The neighbouring countries ranked above India include Sri Lanka (40), Bangladesh (34) and Nepal (22). The countries ranked better than India also include Mali, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ghana, Ukraine, Serbia, Philippines, Indonesia, Iran, Macedonia, Mexico, Thailand and Malaysia.

Although China ranks first among emerging economies in GDP per capita growth (6.8 per cent) and labour productivity growth (6.7 per cent) since 2012, its overall score is brought down by lacklustre performance on inclusion, the WEF said.

It found that decades of prioritising economic growth over social equity has led to historically high levels of wealth and income inequality and caused governments to miss out on a virtuous circle in which growth is strengthened by being shared more widely and generated without unduly straining the environment or burdening future generations.

Excessive reliance by economists and policy-makers on Gross Domestic Product as the primary metric of national economic performance is part of the problem, the WEF said.

The GDP measures current production of goods and services rather than the extent to which it contributes to broad socio-economic progress as manifested in median household income, employment opportunity, economic security and quality of life, it added.

The WEF also said that rich and poor countries alike are struggling to protect future generations, as it cautioned political and business leaders against expecting higher growth to be a panacea for the social frustrations, including those of younger generations who have shaken the politics of many countries in recent years.

SpiceJet launches Republic Day sale, tickets start from Rs 769

MUMBAI: Low cost airline SpiceJet has announced a four-day Republic Day sale that will open till midnight January 25 for travel period till December 12, 2018. The sale offers an all inclusive one-way fare starting as low as Rs 769 and Rs 2469 for travel to select destinations on its domestic and international network respectively, said a press release issued by SpiceJet.

“The starting offer of Rs 769 (all inclusive) is valid on popular domestic routes like Jammu – Srinagar, Silchar – Guwahati, Dehradun – Delhi, Delhi – Jaipur, Agartala – Guwahati, Coimbatore – Bengaluru, Kochi – Bengaluru and Delhi – Dehradun whereas on the airline’s international network the starting offer of Rs 2469 (all inclusive) can be availed on the Chennai – Colombo route,” the release said

The airline is also offering exclusive benefits to the customers who will directly book on spicejet.com. Tickets for this sale can be booked on www.spicejet.com, on online travel portals, SpiceJet mobile app and through travel agents. Tickets under this offer are refundable (only statutory taxes refundable), though changeable with a change fee and fare difference.

“There is limited inventory under the offer, and seats will be available on First-Come-First-Served basis. Blackout dates would be applicable. Sales fares are not applicable on group bookings and cannot be combined with any other offer. The offer is applicable only on non-stop flights and fares vary from sector to sector depending on the travel distance,” it said adding that flight schedules and timings are subject to regulatory approvals and change(s).

SpiceJet launches Republic Day sale, tickets start from Rs 769

MUMBAI: Low cost airline SpiceJet has announced a four-day Republic Day sale that will open till midnight January 25 for travel period till December 12, 2018. The sale offers an all inclusive one-way fare starting as low as Rs 769 and Rs 2469 for travel to select destinations on its domestic and international network respectively, said a press release issued by SpiceJet.

“The starting offer of Rs 769 (all inclusive) is valid on popular domestic routes like Jammu – Srinagar, Silchar – Guwahati, Dehradun – Delhi, Delhi – Jaipur, Agartala – Guwahati, Coimbatore – Bengaluru, Kochi – Bengaluru and Delhi – Dehradun whereas on the airline’s international network the starting offer of Rs 2469 (all inclusive) can be availed on the Chennai – Colombo route,” the release said

The airline is also offering exclusive benefits to the customers who will directly book on spicejet.com. Tickets for this sale can be booked on www.spicejet.com, on online travel portals, SpiceJet mobile app and through travel agents. Tickets under this offer are refundable (only statutory taxes refundable), though changeable with a change fee and fare difference.

“There is limited inventory under the offer, and seats will be available on First-Come-First-Served basis. Blackout dates would be applicable. Sales fares are not applicable on group bookings and cannot be combined with any other offer. The offer is applicable only on non-stop flights and fares vary from sector to sector depending on the travel distance,” it said adding that flight schedules and timings are subject to regulatory approvals and change(s).

Axis Bank Q3 profit rises 25%, but misses estimates

Axis Bank Ltd posted a 25 per cent rise in quarterly net profit, helped by higher interest and fee incomes as well as a drop in provisions for bad loans, although results fell slightly short of a consensus estimate.
Net profit rose to Rs 726 crore ($113.86 million) for the quarter ended December, from Rs 580 crore a year ago, the country’s third-largest private sector lender by assets said on Monday.

That was below the average estimate of Rs 798 crore from 21 analysts, Thomson Reuters data shows.

Gross bad loans as a per centage of total loans stood at 5.28 per cent at end-December, compared with 5.90 per cent in the previous quarter and 5.22 per cent a year earlier.

Axis Bank Q3 profit rises 25%, but misses estimates

Axis Bank Ltd posted a 25 per cent rise in quarterly net profit, helped by higher interest and fee incomes as well as a drop in provisions for bad loans, although results fell slightly short of a consensus estimate.
Net profit rose to Rs 726 crore ($113.86 million) for the quarter ended December, from Rs 580 crore a year ago, the country’s third-largest private sector lender by assets said on Monday.

That was below the average estimate of Rs 798 crore from 21 analysts, Thomson Reuters data shows.

Gross bad loans as a per centage of total loans stood at 5.28 per cent at end-December, compared with 5.90 per cent in the previous quarter and 5.22 per cent a year earlier.


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