QBiz: India Marks 1 Yr Since Note Ban; Ola Partners With Microsoft

A roundup of the top business stories of the day.

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Business
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1. BJP, Congress Set Stage for a Face-Off

Ahead of the first anniversary of demonetisation on Wednesday, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition led by the Congress readied for a showdown, arguing their respective cases on the note ban. While opposition parties have decided to observe Wednesday as a “black day”, the BJP has dubbed it “anti-black money day”.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh argued against the opposition’s case, claiming that not only was demonetisation a flawed decision that had caused a needless disruption to the Indian economy, but it also risked unleashing harassment by tax sleuths probing illegal deposits. Finance minister Arun Jaitley defended the move, saying demonetisation was a watershed moment that had not only worked to curb illegal wealth creation, but also spurred the creation of a less-cash economy.

The impending face-off revives the debate on demonetisation, coincidentally in the middle of a campaign for assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and puts the spotlight afresh on corruption and black money.

(Source: Livemint)

2. Paradise Papers Cases to Be Considered on Individual Merit: Arun Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said the government will consider each case brought out by Paradise Papers on its “individual merit”.

The government probe into the leaked documents from a Bermuda-based global offshore law firm, detailing financial holdings abroad of over 714 Indian entities and individuals, will follow the process similar to the one undertaken in Panama Papers investigation, he told reporters.

“It will be found out that who are those people with totally illegal accounts and who have plausible defence.... Every case will be considered on its individual merit,” Jaitley said.

Responding to a question, the finance minister said he would not comment on individual cases as there was a legal process in place to find out if accounts were legal or not. A similar probe was undertaken by investigators into the Panama Papers, he said.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

3. Ola Teams up With Microsoft for Connected Vehicle Platform

Ride hailing app Ola today announced a global partnership with technology giant Microsoft to build a new-age ‘connected vehicle platform’ for car manufacturers worldwide.

Under the partnership, Ola will use Microsoft cloud, artificial intelligence and productivity tools to enhance rider experience as well as for predictive maintenance of the cars.

The offerings will also be taken by both the companies to car manufacturers globally for integration with vehicle systems.

There are synergies... The two companies working together can accelerate the future of mobility, especially in India and beyond.
Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-Founder And CEO, Ola

(Source: PTI)

4. Sensex Falls Most in Six Weeks on Surging Oil Prices

A sell-off spurred by rising crude oil prices caused the biggest single-day percentage fall in the BSE Sensex since 27 September on Tuesday.

The rupee fell the most in seven weeks, and government bond yields surged, as investors fretted that expensive oil may led to a fiscal slippage, increase inflationary pressures and lower the chances of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cutting interest rates in its December monetary policy review. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The Sensex closed down 360.43 points, or 1.07 percent, to 33,370.76. The National Stock Exchange’s Nifty too closed 101.65 points, or 0.97 percent, down at 10,350.15. Markets across the globe were strong with Japan’s Nikkei Index jumping to a 26 year-high.

(Source: Livemint)

5. Over 39 Percent PANs Linked With Aadhaar

Over 13.28 crore permanent account numbers have been linked with the Aadhaar till now, official sources said.

With this, 39.5 percent of PANs are now linked with Aadhaar numbers. There are about 33 crore PAN cards, while Aadhaar has been issued to about 115 crore people.

The government had made the PAN-Aadhaar linking mandatory for filing ITR (Income Tax Return) and obtaining a new Permanent Account Number (PAN) from July 1.

The Supreme Court had in June upheld the validity of an Income Tax Act provision making Aadhaar mandatory for allotment of PAN cards and ITR filling, but had put a partial stay on its implementation till a Constitution bench addressed the issue of right to privacy.

(Source: PTI)

6. Trai Plans to Remove 50% Limit on Telecom Spectrum Holdings

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is considering removal of the 50 percent limit on spectrum holdings within a particular band, said people familiar with the matter.

The move should help Vodafone and Idea retain all their airwaves once the merger of the two is complete, experts said.

The relaxation will also afford Reliance Jio Infocomm leeway to acquire more airwaves in 850 MHz band of Reliance Communications, which may otherwise breach limits in some circles, they said. The government is also likely to benefit as it should mean more bidders available for a band at the next auction, possibly boosting revenue.

7. Vodafone Offers New Postpaid Plans

Vodafone India today unveiled a spate of new postpaid plans with incentives such as free domestic calling, carrying forward unused data, and even Netflix subscription in some cases, as India’s second largest telecom operator looks to hold on to customers amid competition from Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

The new set of Vodafone RED postpaid plans, starting from Rs 499 and going up to Rs 2,999 a month, will offer unlimited calls in India including national roaming, the telecom operator said an emailed statement. The plans also allow users to roll over balance data up to 200 GB every month, the statement added.

The operator will also give customers free access to digital content and live television on its Vodafone Play platform across all plans. Besides, the plans includes a free subscription to digital newsstand Magzter, giving access to more than 4,000 magazine publications.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

8. GST Advisory Panel Receives 700 Representations on Industry Woes

The six-member advisory panel formed by the government for simplifying and rationalising the goods and services tax (GST) has received more than 700 representations on problems faced by industry over return filing, the e-way bill, input tax credit, and exports.

The committee will now meet for the first time on Wednesday to take up these issues, ahead of the crucial GST Council meeting on Thursday in Guwahati. Some of its recommendations may be taken up by the Council.

The panel includes representations from trade and industry. “The government is open to taking feedback from industry and rectifying the anomalies in the law. We are putting in efforts to make the GST industry-friendly and will be open to incorporating suggestions by the advisory panel,” said a government official.

9. Essar Steel Bid: Tata Steel Taps Adani's Hazira Port

Tata Steel Ltd, a contender for Essar Steel Ltd’s assets, has secured an informal commitment from the Adani group for use of its port in Hazira, Gujarat, if the Tata group company wins the bid for the bankrupt steel maker’s assets located in the vicinity, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Tata Steel’s move is part of a contingency plan it has drawn should the current port and power infrastructure being used by Essar Steel be unavailable to the new owner of the company, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

“Essar Steel currently uses the facilities of Essar Ports and Essar Power Ltd for raw materials and power supply,” said one of the two people. “There is concern among a section of the potential bidders whether Essar group will continue to provide port and power facilities on the same terms if the current promoters, the Ruia family, loses control of Essar Steel which is currently under bankruptcy proceedings”.

(Source: Livemint)

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