QBiz: Service Charge Now Optional; 2 L Inactive Firms Face Closure
Finance Ministry Arun Jaitley is the chairman of the GST council. (Photo: PTI)
Finance Ministry Arun Jaitley is the chairman of the GST council. (Photo: PTI)

QBiz: Service Charge Now Optional; 2 L Inactive Firms Face Closure

1. Service Charge at Restaurants Is Totally Voluntary, Says Paswan

Service charge on hotel and restaurant bills is "totally voluntary" and not mandatory, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said after the government approved guidelines on service charge.

Hotels and restaurants will not decide how much service charge will be levied but it will be at the customer's discretion, the minister said, adding that these guidelines will be sent to states for necessary action.

"The government has approved guidelines on service charge. As per the guidelines, service charge is totally voluntary and not mandatory," Paswan said in a tweet.

Read the full story on The Quint.

2. Date For Filing Returns Under PMGKY Extended to 10 May

The income-tax department on Friday extended the deadline for filing returns under the black money disclosure scheme, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), until 10 May.

The extra time for filing returns is only for those who have paid taxes and penalty by the 31 March deadline.

These people have time till 30 April to make the compulsory deposit of 25 percent of the previously undisclosed income in the PMGK Deposit Scheme. The original deadline of 31 March for making the compulsory deposit was extended on Wednesday.

The scheme launched on 17 December allowed those holding unaccounted wealth to come clean by paying 30 percent tax, a surcharge of 33 percent on the tax amount and a 10 percent penalty on the previously unaccounted income.

(Source: Livemint)

3. Cyrus Mistry’s Family Firms Challenge NCLT Order on Maintainability at NCLAT

Advancing the legal battle with Tata Sons Ltd, Cyrus Mistry’s investment firms have filed an appeal at the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), challenging the rejection of their petition alleging mismanagement and oppression of minority shareholders.

Cyrus Investments Pvt Ltd and Sterling Investments Pvt Ltd moved the NCLAT on Wednesday against the 6 March order by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) that the petition was non-maintainable, said two people aware of the development who requested anonymity.

The office of Mistry, who was ousted as Tata Sons chairman on 24 October, declined to comment.

(Source: Livemint)

4. GST to Boost GDP by 4.2% or Rs 6.5 Lakh Crore: Fed Paper

India’s changeover to the goods and services tax (GST) has resonated with the Fed: A research note at the US central bank reckons that the biggest indirect tax reforms since Independence could enhance the country’s gross domestic product by up to 4.2 percent, or Rs 6.5 lakh crore – a sum greater than the central government’s annual borrowing.

Apart of Federal Reserve System’s series of International Financial Discussion Papers (IFDP), the research note says that the potential gains to GDP – one of the most bullish growth estimates on the reform measure to date – will be underpinned by a surge in manufacturing output, something New Delhi has been trying to achieve for a while.

(Source: The Economic Times)

5. Remittances to India Dropped by Nearly 9% in 2016: World Bank

Notwithstanding a significant 8.9 percent drop in remittances to India in 2016, the country retained the top spot among remittances receiving nations, according to a World Bank report.

The World Bank, in its latest report, said that the remittances to developing countries fell for a second consecutive year in 2016, a trend not seen in three decades. This was attributable mainly to the drop in oil prices and fiscal tightening in the oil producing countries in the West Asia, which has a significant Indian migrant population accounting for a large chunk of remittances.

India, while retaining its top spot as the world’s largest remittance recipient, led the decline with remittance inflows amounting to 62.7 billion dollars last year, a decrease of 8.9 percent over 68.9 billion dollars in 2015.

(Source: Livemint)

6. Registration of Over Two Lakh Companies May be Revoked by Government

The government plans to cancel the registration of more than two lakh companies that have not been carrying out business for a considerable period of time, amid stepped up efforts to tackle the black money menace.

More than 2,00,000 companies, spread across various states, have been served with show cause notices as they have not been carrying out any operation or business activity for a prolonged time.

The corporate affairs ministry’s move also comes against the backdrop of overall efforts by the authorities to crack the whip on shell companies, suspected to be used for money laundering activities.

(Source: PTI)

7. HDFC Bank Headcount Falls For Second Quarter, Down by 6,100 in Q4

HDFC Bank, India’s most valued lender, has cut staff for the second straight quarter and slowed branch expansion as it exploits the developments in digital technology to reach out to customers.

The bank staff strength has fallen by 6,096 or 7 percent to 84,325 in the quarter ended March 2017 from 90,421 in December 2016. This reduction is the highest in a quarter and at least 33 percent more the 4,581 people the bank lost in the quarter ended December 2016.

“We have seen an increase in digital transactions which has given us certain efficiencies linked to the digital channel,’’ said Paresh Sukthankar, deputy managing director at HDFC Bank. "We have not replaced the staff which has moved out due to attrition and have rebalanced our capabilities due to the increase in digital transactions.”

(Source: The Economic Times)

8. NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya Bats for Pushing up India’s Global Trade Pie

India needs to focus on domestic policies to step up its share in global trade to 4-5 percent from the current 1.7 percent and not get perturbed by what is happening in the US, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya said. He offered a simple solution to bump up India’s share in global merchandise exports, saying “what matters more is what we do in India”.

The global merchandise export is 16-17 trillion US dollars. He suggested that the effort should be to raise India’s pie, irrespective of increase or decrease in global trade.

What happens to the size of global merchandise exports, whether it remains at 16 trillion US dollars or goes up to 18-19 trillion US dollars, is of less consequence. What share we are able to get into this pie is more important.
Arvind Panagariya

(Source: PTI)

9. Decline in Oil Prices; Euro Too Slumps Two Days Prior to French Polls

Oil prices fell on Friday as oversupply concerns resurfaced, while the euro and stocks slipped ahead of the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday.

Crude oil prices slid more than 2 percent on Friday, on track for the biggest weekly drop in a month, on renewed concerns that increasing US production and high inventories will thwart OPEC’s attempts to reduce the global crude glut.

US crude futures fell below 50 dollars a barrel for the first time in two weeks, with volumes higher than the daily average.

(Source: Reuters)