QBiz: GST Council Likely to Announce Relief; Jio Subscribers Drop
A roundup of the top business stories of the day.
1. GST Bonanza for Firms, Consumers on the Anvil
The GST Council is likely to announce relief for consumers and big and small businesses at its meeting in Guwahati on Friday. Small businesses and eateries will also get major relief as the flat GST rate they can pay under a special window called the composition scheme is likely to be cut.
The GST Council, comprising the Union finance minister and state finance ministers, is the apex decision-making authority on the goods and services tax.
Not only is this a bold attempt to remove the creases in the new system, the GST Council, if it signs off on the proposals, will potentially serve a political bonanza for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—which is presently locked in electoral combat with the Congress in Gujarat.
2. Reliance Jio Subscriber Addition Drops to 4 Million in August
Reliance Jio, which disrupted the telecom market since its launch last year, has started to witness a slowdown in subscriber additions while it continues to gain market share. Data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) shows the Mukesh Ambani-owned company added 4.09 million customers in August. This is the second-lowest monthly incremental growth for the company since its launch.
Following the commercial roll-out of Jio in September 2016, it has added more than 4 million subscribers every month barring April when the number fell to 3.87 million as the firm started charging for its services.
Till January, Jio was adding more than 16 million subscribers every month. In February, subscriber addition dropped to 12 million and then it halved to 5.83 million by March, before touching an all-time low of 3.87 million in April. However, the numbers picked up in May after the company announced new offers.
(Source: Business Standard)
3. Flipkart to Launch Its Own Smartphone Under the Billion Brand
India’s largest online retail firm Flipkart will launch a new smartphone under its Billion brand, which is the first major initiative by co-founder and executive chairman Sachin Bansal since he stepped aside as chief executive in January 2016.
The new, so-called Made for India smartphone called Billion Capture+ will go on sale on Flipkart on 15 November.
The Flipkart smartphone, based on the Android operating system, will be priced at Rs10,999 for the 32GB model and at Rs12,999 for the 64GB model, Billion category head Hrishikesh Thite said.
The phone has been designed, engineered, manufactured and tested in India, he added.
4. Over 3,700 Money Laundering, FEMA Cases Under the Scanner Post Note Ban
The Enforcement Directorate is investigating over 3,700 money laundering and hawala transaction cases, involving tainted assets worth Rs 9,935 crore, as part of its action against black money generated post demonetisation, an official report today said.
The central probe agency also carried out a “risk assessment” of these cases, registered post the note ban on 8 November last year, and found that a majority of (43 percent) the financial crimes were carried out by perpetrating bank frauds and cheating financial institutions through a maze of shell firms.
The other category of post-note ban financial crimes being probed by the Enforcement Directorate include cases of corruption (31 percent), drugs and narcotics trade (6.5 percent), arms and explosives (4.5 percent) and others (8.5 percent).
5. HDFC Standard Life IPO Subscribed 4.9 Times on the Last Day
The initial public offering (IPO) of HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co Ltd was subscribed 4.9 times on Thursday, the final day of the IPO, on the back of an oversubscription in the institutional and high net-worth individuals (HNI) portions of the share sale, according to data from stock exchanges.
As of 8pm, the portion of shares reserved for institutional investors in the HDFC Standard Life IPO was subscribed 16.6 times, while those for HNIs and retail investors were subscribed 2.29 times and 92 percent, respectively.
Shares in the HDFC Standard Life IPO were issued in a price band of Rs 275-290.
The HDFC Standard Life IPO, a pure offer for sale, will see the two promoters of the life insurance firm—Housing Development Finance Corp. Ltd (HDFC) and Standard Life—sell 299.82 million shares, fetching Rs 8,695 crore.
6. India To See 10% Salary Hike In 2018, Highest In Asia Pacific
Salaries are projected to increase by 10 percent in India in 2018, the highest in the Asia Pacific region, according to a report. The highest projected salary rise is seen in the energy, FMCG and retail sectors.
“Salaries in India are projected to rise 10 percent in 2018, same as the actual increase in 2017,” according to the Q3 2017 Salary Budget Planning Report released by global advisory, broking and solutions company Willis Towers Watson.
The report covered a range of industries, including BPO, chemicals, construction and engineering, consumer products and retail, financial services, high tech, manufacturing, media, pharmaceutical and health sciences, business and technical consulting and transportation and logistics.
7. Airports Authority Considers Bonds To Fund Expansion
The Airports Authority of India may look at issuing bonds to raise funds to develop existing and non-operational airports as the government looks to boost air connectivity in the world’s third largest aviation market.
The state-run airport operator has lined up capex plans worth Rs 17,500 crore over the next five years and will need to raise funds from the market if not allotted any budgetary support, Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra said today. Funds will also be used to upgrade navigation and telecommunications infrastructure.
Mohapatra said the airports operator, like the National Highways Authority of India, has a good credit rating and raising funds by floating bonds is a viable option.
8. EPFO May Cut Interest Rate to 8.5% for FY18
Provident fund subscribers are likely to get a lower rate of interest on their retirement corpus this fiscal year, but a senior official said the total returns would be on a par with or more than last time as they stand to gain from the fund’s move to unitise its equity investment.
The central board of trustees of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation will meet on 23 November to consider an 8.5 per cent interest rate for fiscal 2017-18, the official said. Last year, the fund had paid 8.65 per cent .
At the meeting, the board will also give its go-ahead for unitisation of EPFO’s investment in equities, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
9. NTPC Drops Acquisition Plans
State-run India’s biggest electricity producer, has shelved plans of acquiring stressed power assets in the private sector, and will instead help lenders to these debt-ridden power plants run them for a fee.
“For assets that are still under implementation, NTPC intends to assist banks complete construction of these projects and achieve commercial operations,” K Biswal, director of finance at NTPC, told reporters at the 7th Asian Mining Congress here on Wednesday.
Industry executives who ET spoke to said the possibility that the valuation of these stressed assets may not be accurate may have shaped NTPC’s decision, as it does not want to be hauled up for an acquisition based on these numbers.
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