QBiz: Union Budget on 1 Feb; Cyrus Mistry’s Contempt Plea Rejected

The Quint brings you the top business news from dailies across the country.

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The Finance Minister will present the Union Budget 2017-18 on 1 February. (Photo: Reuters)

1. Union Budget On 1 February, No Announcements For Poll-Bound States

Sweeping aside objections raised by Opposition parties, the government will present the Union Budget 2017-18 on 1 February but will refrain from making any announcements pertaining to poll-bound states, a top government official said on the condition of anonymity.

The government before the Election Commission vehemently defended its move to advance Budget presentation by a month saying it had made clear its intention on this way back in September 2016 so as to help begin the investment cycle right from the first day of the new fiscal, 1 April.

Opposition parties, including the Congress and the TMC, had approached the Election Commission against presentation of the Budget just hours before the first of the five states goes to poll on 4 February.

But the government stoutly defended the move.

(Source: Bloomberg Quint)

2. Tribunal Dismisses Cyrus Mistry’s Contempt Plea Against Tata Sons

The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has dismissed a contempt petition filed by Cyrus Mistry’s two family firms against Tata Sons.

The petition had contended that Tata Sons’ decision to call an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 6 February to remove Mistry as a director from its board was willful disobedience of the tribunal’s 22 December order and amounted to contempt.

Judicial member Prakash Kumar, who read out the operative part of the order in a packed courtroom, allowed the Mistry companies to file an affidavit regarding the EGM within three days.

If the Mistry firms do file the affidavit, Tata Sons will have three days to file a rejoinder. The matter will be then be taken up along with the original company petition, which is scheduled for a full-and-final hearing on 31 January and 1 February.

(Source: Bloomberg Quint)

3. Govt Approves Listing of State-Owned General Insurance Companies

The cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved the public listing of five state-owned non-life insurance companies and reducing the government’s stake in them to 75% from 100%.

Oriental Insurance Company, National Insurance Company, New India Assurance, United India Insurance and national reinsurer General Insurance Corporation of India, or GIC Re, are the five companies that will be listed on stock exchanges.

The dilution of the government’s stake will take place either through issue of fresh equity or an offer for sale or through a combination of both, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at a press conference.

The government’s stake will be brought down to 75% in tranches as per regulations of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA).

(Source: Livemint)

4. WEF 2017: Universal Basic Income Only as Repayable Loan, Says NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant

With some sections in the global economy pushing for universal basic income concept, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Wednesday said any such payout should be given only as a repayable loan.

While some countries have positively reacted to this concept, there have been talks that India can also consider such a move though there has been no official word on this.

Speaking at a session at the WEF Annual Meeting at Davos, Kant said, “Provide universal basic income, but as a repayable loan for productive purposes.” He was part of a panel discussing whether universal basic income was a dream or delusion.

The panel discussed that fundamental shifts in the world of work are eroding traditional social safety nets and whether a universal basic income could be the solution.

5. Note Ban Will Hurt Growth: Urjit Patel to Panel

RBI Governor Urjit Patel told the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance that the central bank’s decision to lower the growth forecast at least by half a percentage point was due to the possible impact on demonetisation.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is also a member of the panel, had earlier warned that there could be a two-percentage-point decrease in GDP growth due to demonetisation.

“He (Patel) said it may not be 2 per cent, but agreed that at least half a per cent decrease can be expected due to demonetisation. He told us that was the reason why the RBI lowered the growth forecast to 7.1 per cent from 7.6 per cent for the current fiscal,” a panel member told BusinessLine.

6. Reliance Jio Users Can Continue to Party After 31 March, Almost Free

After a six-month free run which ends on 31 March, Reliance Jio Infocomm subscribers may continue to enjoy data services at a nominal rate, combined with free voice calls, for another three months.

The Mukesh Ambani-owned operator is working out a new tariff plan, which will be valid till 30 June, said people familiar with the developments in Jio as well as analysts. Unlike the earlier free offers that incumbent telcos have termed predatory, the latest introductory offer will charge a fee of about Rs 100 for data, while voice will be free. “We have to start making revenue,” one of the persons mentioned above said. Jio did not respond to emailed queries sent by ET.

The company’s free voice and data offers have attracted over 72 million subscribers in four months after its commercial services were launched on 5 September last year.

7. RBI Not Verifying All Withdrawn Notes in Currency Chests

The demonetisation exercise, which has caused hardship to people for over two months now, is unlikely to provide a clear picture of the fake currency situation in the country.

This is because the ongoing verification process of withdrawn ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes by the RBI is not being conducted in a foolproof manner, according to reliable sources.

“The verification of demonetised notes, which are now being called specified bank notes (SBNs), is being conducted only on a random basis and not entirely,” a source told BusinessLine.

During the inspection, only a small number of notes are being checked, leaving almost entire consignments unchecked, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

8. Deposited Rs 10 Lakh or More in Bank a/C After 8 Nov? Be Ready to Reveal Source of Money in next 15 Days

Over the next fortnight, the tax office will ask everyone who deposited more than Rs 10 lakh in their bank accounts after 8 November to spell out the source of money. There are about 1.5 lakh bank accounts, in which Rs 10 lakh or above has come in since announcement of demonetisation, according to information compiled by the department.

A new e-platform put in place by the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the apex tax authority, will be used to reach out to these account holders who will have to file their response online. “If the assessing officer requires more information, the assessee would be asked to submit them. The additional information will also be uploaded online. This is with the objective to bring about transparency,” said a city-based tax officer.

9. RBI Replaces 60% of Demonetised Notes

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has infused around 60 per cent of the total banned currency notes after demonetisation.

RBI Governor Urjit Patel told a parliamentary standing committee on finance on Wednesday that the central bank had infused new currency notes worth around Rs 9.2 lakh crore into the system. Currency notes estimated around Rs 15.4 lakh crore were withdrawn when the Centre announced demonetisation on 8 November 2016.

Most members in the finance committee, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and panel chairman M Veerappa Moily, spoke in favour of protecting the autonomy of the RBI as an institution but said that accountability from its governor must be sought as the note ban had impacted a large of number of people.

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