QBiz: New Big iPad Aims at Business, Railways to Invest $140 bn

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. (Photo: PTI) 

1. Tax Exemptions for India Inc to be Phased Out, Says FM

While the implementation of a goods and services tax (GST) faced uncertainty on Wednesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reaffirmed the government’s commitment to economic reforms, saying corporation tax exemptions would be phased out and weaker banks consolidated with strong ones.

In line with the Budget announcement of reducing corporation tax by five percentage points to 25 per cent in four years, Jaitley said the government would release a list of tax exemptions to be withdrawn in a phased manner. The aim is to align taxation levels in India with global standards and with those in competing countries.

Read more here.

2. Apple TV Comes With ‘Apps’; Big iPad Aimed at Business

Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook unveiled a new version of its Apple TV product with an app store and a voice-controlled remote control, part of a trio of announcements aimed at revamping its product line.

Cook described the new Apple TV, a product which the company long called a ‘hobby’, as the future of television, offering personalization and ease of use. It starts at $149.

The announcement came after Cook showed off a big new iPad aimed at business customers, which has an optional “Pencil” stylus and keyboard. He also began describing an updated pair of iPhones that feature a so-called ‘3D touch’ interface and other upgrades.

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3. Capital Gains Tax Relief on Gold Bonds Likely

Indians looking to invest in gold bonds may be able to enjoy exemption from capital gains tax as the proposal is expected to be taken up in the next Budget, the government said after it unveiled the details of the proposed gold bond and gold monetisation schemes.

“The department of revenue has said that they will consider indexation benefit if bond is transferred before maturity and complete capital gains tax exemption at the time of redemption,” Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das told reporters, after the Cabinet approved the twin schemes that seek to reduce the country’s massive gold imports.

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4. S&P Puts Vedanta on CreditWatch List With Negative Implications

Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services on Wednesday said it is placing the ratings on Vedanta Resources PLC’s ‘BB-’ foreign currency long-term corporate credit rating and the ‘BB-‘ long term issue ratings on the firm’s guaranteed notes and loans on CreditWatch with negative implications.

The placement reflects S&P’s view that Vedanta’s move to merge two of its Indian units – Vedanta and Cairn India – “is critical for the company to withstand a weakness in commodity prices,” credit analyst Mehul Sukkawala wrote in his note on Wednesday. “However the completion of the merger is uncertain in our view.”

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5. Quick Approvals, Infra Development Key to Attracting Investments

“It is speed that matters,” YC Deveshwar, Chairman, ITC Group said when asked what drives investment decisions.

Deveshwar’s comment on timely project approvals was a point that was echoed by others at the meet. Time-bound approvals and physical infrastructure development that can cope with growth are decisive factors to attract investments, industrialists said.

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6. Indian Railways to Invest $140 bn, Japan to Modernise Stations

Japan has agreed to modernise railway stations across the country while participating in Indian Railways’ $140-billion investment over the next five years. A Japanese delegation will soon visit India to study the opportunities for industries in the railway station development plan of railways as the public transporter has identified 400 stations to be upgraded in private investment, an official release said.

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7. Paytm to Spend Rs 2,500 Crore in 18 Months on Expansion

Mobile wallet cum e-retailer Paytm is planning to spend about Rs 2,500 crore over the next 18 months on customer acquisition, technology, human resources and logistics. The proposed expenditure is aimed at adding 500 million users by 2020.

Providing the break-up of the investment, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm said that around 60% of the overall investment of Rs 1,500 crore will be used for customer acquisition and activation through promos, discount and offers.

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8. This Season, Amazon is the ‘Apple’ of Investor’s Eyes

Last year, failing to own Apple was the most painful mistake a US equity fund manager could have made. This year, that distinction goes to Amazon.com. Up 67 per cent in 2015, the online retailer has contributed the most to mitigating losses in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index this year.

Amazon’s ascent has been aided not just by Apple’s misfortunes, but by its perceived safe haven status at a time when investors want nothing to do with emerging markets. The company, which gets 57 per cent of its revenue from North America, is less exposed to global growth than its peers.

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9. Politics Threatens GST Schedule

It is almost certain that the April 1, 2016 deadline to roll out the goods and services tax (GST) will be missed. The government on Wednesday abandoned plans to hold an extended monsoon session of Parliament and recommended the President prorogue it or officially call the session to an end.

The winter session, scheduled for the end of November, is the next window. However, that session seems set to be as fractious as the monsoon session amid what promises to be a bitterly contested election campaign in Bihar. This will inevitably affect the mood in Parliament and further derail the law-making schedule and, along with it, the GST Bill.

Read more here.

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