QBiz: RBI Proposes Wholesale Banks; Flipkart to Foray Into Grocery

The Quint’s compilation of business news from dailies across India.

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Flipkart is mulling a fresh foray into the online grocery segment. (Photo: Reuters)

1.RBI Proposes Wholesale, Long-Term Finance Banks

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday proposed to float wholesale and long-term finance (WLTF) banks that would fund long-term high-value projects – something similar to the development finance institutions (DFIs) of the past.

“Going forward, considering the existing landscape of banking and non-banking services in the country, it is felt that there is a need to explore the possibilities of permitting other types of differentiated banks to facilitate progression to a more mature and deeper financial sector,” the central bank said in a draft discussion paper on WLTF banks.

The minimum capital required for the bank would be Rs 1,000 crore, considering these banks would be “very large institutions ab initio to take on large exposure to industrial, commercial and infrastructure sector”.

2. Flipkart Plans Foray Into Grocery Segment

Following the footsteps of Amazon, home-grown e-commerce major Flipkart is mulling a fresh foray into the online grocery segment.

“Yes we will get into grocery... with 80% of the units which are bought are grocery items, we will eventually enter the business. Also, the size of the grocery market is $400-$600 million [so] we have to get into the business,” Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy said.

Flipkart rolled out a ‘Nearby’ application for home delivery of fruits, vegetables, and other household products in October 2015. However, it was closed almost five months later.

Amazon introduced its grocery ordering app, Amazon Now, last year. Flipkart will also compete with other players in the segment such as BigBasket and Grofers.

(Source: The Hindu)

3. No More Grace Period To Exchange Banned Currency Notes, Centre Tells Apex Court

The Centre on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it has taken a "conscious decision" to not extend the period beyond 30 December 2016 for exchanging the demonetised currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500. For non-resident Indians (NRIs) the deadline ended on 31 March.

The government said it was not legally bound to issue a fresh notification to grant grace period or window for depositing scrapped currency notes. “The petitioner has no legal right to claim grace period”, it said.

It also gave details about the raids and recoveries made by law-enforcing agencies during and after the demonetisation period claiming that undisclosed income of more than Rs 5,400 crore was detected.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

4. Supreme Court Green Panel Recommends Sale Of Only BS-VI Vehicles From April 2020

A Supreme Court-appointed environment panel recommended on Friday that only vehicles compliant with Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms should be allowed to be sold from 1 April 2020.

The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) told the court during a hearing that the deadline for BS-VI implementation will apply to sale and not manufacture of vehicles. The EPCA and automakers were engaged in a similar debate last month over the deadline for ban on BS-III vehicles.

The panel also sought a tax on diesel vehicles to disincentivise sales.

A two-judge bench of Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta was hearing a batch of petitions on controlling air pollution in the National Capital Region. The next hearing has been scheduled for 1 May.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

5. Ola to Launch First Electric Cab in Nagpur, Expected to Put 1 Million E-Cabs on Road in 5 Years

Soft-Bank backed cab service Ola is expected to launch a pilot for the testing of electric vehicles in the country. Ola is reported to be launching its pilot electronic car in Nagpur in the next few months to come. CEO and co-founder of Ola, Bhavesh Aggarwal told reporters that electronic vehicles could transform transportation completely in India by the methods of lowering the cost of operation and ownership.

Earlier in December, Siftbank Group chairman Masayoshi Son had told reporters that Ola might be introducing as many as 1 million electric cars in India in the next 5 years to come.

6. Mallya Moves SAT Against Sebi's Ban for Diverting Funds Worth Rs 1,880 Cr

Beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya has moved the Securities and Appellate Tribunal (SAT) challenging the markets regulator’s order barring him from the securities market for allegedly diverting Rs 1,880 crore from United Spirits (USL).

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had on 25 January passed an order against Mallya and six other entities for violating Sebi’s (Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices) regulations.

SAT adjourned the hearing on Friday. This is the second time Mallya’s case has been adjourned by the appellate tribunal.

The regulator had given 21 days for USL to provide information on the steps taken by the company to recover the money from Mallya and the companies to which the amount was diverted.

7. Tax Evasion: Rs 1.37 Lakh Cr Detected in Last 3 Years, Says Finance Ministry

Warning tax-evaders of stringent action, the Finance Ministry on Friday said over Rs 1.37 lakh crore of evaded tax has been detected in the past three years by tax authorities, who conducted 23,064 searches and surveys.

The evasion detected includes Rs 69,434 crore in income tax, Rs 11,405 in Customs duties, Rs 13,952 crore in excise duty, and Rs 42,727 crore in service tax.

“Simultaneously, criminal prosecutions were launched in 2,814 cases,” said the Finance Ministry, adding that the Enforcement Directorate has also registered 519 cases of money-laundering.

The Finance Ministry is working to further improve tax compliance through reforms such as the goods and services tax and Operation Clean Money.

(Source: The Hindu, Business Line)

8. L&T Names SN Subrahmanyan as New CEO Replacing AM Naik

Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) on Friday appointed current deputy managing director and president SN Subrahmanyan as managing director and chief executive officer, heralding the first change of guard in 18 years at the top of India’s largest engineering and construction firm.

Subrahmanyan, 55, will take on the top job at the complex and diverse conglomerate effective 1 July, the firm said in a statement.

AM Naik, 74, the firm’s long-serving leader, has been appointed non-executive chairman for three years from 1 October for seamless transition of leadership and to provide guidance and mentorship to the management, said L&T.

Naik’s current term as group executive chairman ends on 30 September.

(Source: Livemint)

9. USCIS Sees H-1B Applications Cap Reached in Five Days

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that handles Lawful immigration to the US, has reached the mandated 65,000 H-1B visa application cap for fiscal year 2018.

USCIS has also received a "sufficient number" of H-1B visa petitions to meet the 20,000 US advanced degree exemption, it said in a statement.

The application process opened on Monday.

The visa programme has been under intense discussion and scrutiny since the Donald Trump administration in the US took over, with critics arguing that it is being misused to send IT professionals to the US.

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