QBiz: RBI’s Annual Report; Decision on Aadhaar-PAN Linkage

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1. RBI Annual Report: 99% Of Demonetised Currency Returned

Indian citizens deposited almost all the currency that was scrapped during demonetisation, shows data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as part of its annual report.

The government’s abrupt decision to withdraw legal tender status for Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, announced on 8 November 2016, was intended to extinguish so-called black money from the economy and curtail the problem of counterfeit notes. The fact that almost all the scrapped currency has been returned puts paid to both those arguments.

According to the report, specified bank notes (SBNs), or notes that were demonetised, worth Rs 15.28 lakh crore had been received as of 30 June 2017. When demonetisation was announced, the currency in circulation stood at Rs 17.97 lakh crore. 86 percent of this, or Rs 15.45 lakh crore, was rendered invalid by demonetisation.

Source: BloombergQuint

2. GST Cess on Luxury Cars, SUVs Set to Rise as Govt Approves Ordinance

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance enabling the government to raise the goods and services tax (GST) cess on medium-to-large cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to 25 percent from 15 percent.

The ordinance is expected to precede a 9 September meeting in Hyderabad of the GST Council, the federal body that decides on all indirect tax matters. At the meeting, the council may decide where to finally fix the cess, which is now at 15 percent.

Prices of most SUVs were cut by Rs 1.1 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh after the GST rollout on 1 July. As a result, car market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s domestic sales rose 22.4 percent in July from a year ago. Sales at Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd and Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd grew 21 percent and 43 percent, respectively in July. Any upward revision in cess will lead to an increase in prices of bigger vehicles.

Source: Livemint

3. Government Notifies E-Way Bill, Exempts Vegetables, Fruits out of Its Ambit

The government has notified the e-way bill keeping some items of mass consumption such as vegetables, fruits, food grains, meat, bread, curd, books and jewellery out of its ambit.

These will provide the framework for the transport of goods under the goods and services tax (GST) regime.

An e-way bill is required to transport any item worth more than Rs 50,000 within the country. It is proposed as a permit of sorts in electronic format that will have details of the goods being transported. E-way bill can be generated by registered supplier or recipient or the transporter. Generation and cancellation of e-way bill may be permitted through SMS as well.

4. McDonald's Refuses to Settle Franchise Dispute With CRPL out of Court

McDonald’s India Pvt Ltd (MIPL), the Indian subsidiary of the American fast food chain, has told the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) that it does not want an out-of-court settlement with estranged franchise partner Vikram Bakshi.

MIPL’s stand was taken on record by NCLAT, which had on 25 August asked both parties to try and settle the disputes that had led to the estrangement and keep the 169 McDonald’s outlets they operate in north and east India open and running while the talks are on.

“We informed NCLAT today that we wish to proceed with the appeal,” said Barry Sum, director, corporate relations, Asia Foundational Markets, McDonald’s Corp.

Source: Livemint

5. Finance Ministry To Decide On Last Date For Aadhaar-PAN Linkage

The finance ministry is likely to decide on Thursday whether to extend till year-end the deadline for linking PAN with biometric identifier Aadhaar, as the cut-off period ends then, a source said.

The Aadhaar matter is pending before the Supreme Court with next date of hearing posted for November, and the deadline for Aadhaar linking for availing social sector schemes has been extended till December-end.

Section 139 AA (2) of the Income Tax Act says every person with PAN as on 1 July 2017, and is eligible to obtain Aadhaar must intimate his Aadhaar number to tax authorities.

However, those categorised as non-resident Indians as per income tax laws, people who are not citizens of India, those above 80 years of age and residents of Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir had been exempt from the requirement.

6. Bharti Airtel, Idea Indicate JioPhone Could Be Violating Net Neutrality

India’s top telcos Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular Tuesday indicated that Reliance Industries’ 4G featurephone - JioPhone - violated the principles of net neutrality, saying that any telco providing SIM-locked handsets which offer limited apps under a tariff plan was as good as a ‘walled garden’.

The views – without naming JioPhone – came during the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) discussions around net neutrality and could spark another round of hostilities between the new entrant and incumbent operators.

“It’s locking customer, because he would come to know that he cannot delete or add an application. This should be a free choice for the customer who can use the device wherever he wants to, otherwise it is equivalent to blocking, which is a more serious issue than throttling,” said Ravi Gandhi, head of regulatory affairs at Bharti Airtel.

7. Bird Group Mulls Bid for Air India’s Ground Handling Subsidiary

Gurugram-based travel firm Bird Group has expressed interest in bidding for Air India Ltd’s ground handling subsidiary as part of the state-owned airline’s proposed privatisation.

Interglobe Aviation Ltd, which runs IndiGo, earlier showed interest in Air India, mainly its international operations.

While Bird Group is keen on Air India’s ground handling services, an acquisition will depend on how the government structures the sale that will define the road ahead for the group, said Ankur Bhatia, executive director of Bird Group.

Source: Livemint

8. Here Is How Indians Are Minting a Fortune in Bitcoins

When 32-year-old Harshad Gawde first invested in bitcoins in 2013, he couldn't have expected the returns from it to sponsor an all-India tour, beginning with a six-month trip through Roopkund hills in Uttarakhand. He will be living off $15 daily payouts from that investment.

"I invested in bitcoin when one coin was worth Rs 28,000, one-tenth of what it is today," the Mumbai-based Gawde said. On 30 August, one bitcoin was worth Rs 2,91,822 – its value skyrocketing since Donald Trump's election as the US president in November and spawning an industry of auxiliary services for people rushing in to find gold in the virtual currency.

Bitcoin is a decentralised, paperless cryptocurrency invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, an alias for an anonymous programmer in 2009.

9. RBI Data Shows Amount Of Fake Currency Insignificant

There has been a significant increase in the rate of fake currency note detection and number of suspicious transactions filed, reveals the Reserve Bank of India’s Annual Report for fiscal 2016-17.

RBI details what it calls a “nation-wide exercise to estimate the density of fake Indian currency notes (FICNs) detected during the counting and verification of notes”. And finds that detection of counterfeit notes was 20.4 percent higher in FY17 than the previous year. Despite the rise the total value of counterfeit notes amounted to an insignificant Rs 42 crore.

Data suggests the increase is in notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination. Interestingly, even the new Rs 2,000 notes, issued after demonetisation, are already being counterfeited. The report says 638 fakes of this denomenation were detected.

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