QBiz: India 53rd in Budget Transparency; Prices of Rabi Crops Up

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India has uplifted 271 million people out of poverty, Nirmala Sitharaman said as she tabled Union Budget 2020 in the Parliament. 

1. India 53rd in Budget Transparency, Accountability in IBP Survey

India has been placed at 53rd position among 117 nations in terms of budget transparency and accountability, according to the Open Budget Survey released on Wednesday. The survey, conducted by International Budget Partnership (IBP), has provided India's Union Budget process a transparency score of 49 out of 100, which is higher than the global average of 45.

New Zealand tops the chart with a score 87.

Some of the other large developing countries, with the exception of China, have got much higher transparency scores compared to India.

(Source: The Economic Times)

2. Reverse Factoring Facility: Banks Can’t Act Against Firms Failing to Make Payments, Says Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court, in an interim order, restrained banks from taking any coercive action against a company for failing to make payments to avail reverse factoring facility—where an intermediary commits to pay a company’s invoices to suppliers.

An apex court bench headed by Justice Navin Chawla said in an order that it prima facie finds the Reserve Bank of India circulars dated March 27 and Apr and April 17 will include reverse factoring facility as loans and advances against which bank borrowers will be protected, giving relief to Eastman Auto & Power Ltd. The RBI, which is respondent number 1 in the case, had in its March 27 circular, allowed lending institutions to grant moratorium on all term loans between March and May 2020.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

3. India’s COVID-19 Recovery Rate has Improved to 24.56%: Niti Aayog CEO

India’s COVID-19 recovery rate has improved from 15 per cent on April 19 to 24.56 per cent as of Wednesday, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said. He also stressed on the need to keep working tirelessly on states and districts with high load of cases to further improve the recovery rate.

“Happy to note that with 7700 + recoveries, our COVID-19 recovery rate has improved. It was 15% on 19 April, 19.2% on 26 April and 24.56% today. We must keep working tirelessly on high case load states and districts to further improve our recovery rate,” Kant said in a tweet.

(Source: Financial Express)

4. Despite Low Arrivals, Mandi Prices of Rabi Crops up to 15% Below MSPs

Average prices of four out of five major rabi crops — wheat, chana, mustard and barley — were up to 15% below their minimum support prices (MSPs) in the past month. In states where the mandi arrivals are higher, the prices of these crops were lower than the all-India average rates.

The prices remained subdued even as gross market arrivals of these four crops are only about 25-30% of the year-ago levels. Many mandis across the country were opened for trading nearly a fortnight ago. The low demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic is believed to be the reason for the price slump. Also, sections of traders are still not operating.

(Source: Financial Express)

5. ADB Gives $ 346 Million Loan for Power Sector in Rural Maharashtra

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday said it has approved a USD 346 million (around Rs 2,616 crore) loan to Indian government to provide reliable power connection in rural areas of Maharashtra.

Maharashtra is the second-most populous state in India, and about half of the state’s labour force is engaged in agriculture and related activities in the rural areas, ADB said in a release.

Agriculture output, however, has been impacted by lack of irrigation, less-than-efficient use of electricity and water, as well as inadequate storage and connectivity to markets.

(Source: Financial Express)

6. LIC Sells Over 2.19 Crore Policies in FY20, Highest in Six Years

Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) ended the last fiscal with a growth of over 25% in first year premiums compared to private insurance players who saw the premium growth of 11.64%. In the just concluded FY20, state-owned LIC has achieved its highest number of policies for the last six years. The data from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irdai) showed that LIC has sold over 2.19 crore policies in last fiscal.

“In these difficult times of business distress caused by Covid-19, LIC, India’s largest life insurer, continues to better its performance. In the just concluded financial year 2019-20, LIC has achieved its highest number of policies for the last six years,” said LIC in its press release.

(Source: Financial Express)

7. Glaxo Plans Sale of $3.7 Billion Stake in Unilever India

GlaxoSmithKline Plc is preparing to start a sale of its $3.7 billion stake in Unilever’s listed India unit, according to people familiar with the matter.

Glaxo plans to offload part or all of its 5.7% holding in Hindustan Unilever Ltd. through a series of block trades, which could start as soon as the next few days, according to the people. The company is in discussions with advisers on when to launch the transactions, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

The drugmaker received the stake, valued at $3.7 billion as of Wednesday, as part of the payment for the sale of a portfolio of assets that was completed this month.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

8. Supreme Court Asks Income Tax Department to Refund Rs 733 Crore to Vodafone Idea

The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted marginal relief to Vodafone Idea as it directed the Income Tax department to refund Rs 733 crore out of the total amount of Rs 4,700 crore demanded by the company. While dismissing Vodafone Idea's appeal for refunding its full claim, the Supreme Court ordered the Income Tax department to refund the amount within four weeks.

"Insofar as AY 2014-15 is concerned, final assessment order passed under Section 143(3) of the (Income Tax) Act indicates that the appellant (telecom firm) is entitled to refund of Rs 733 crores; while for AY 2015-16 there is a demand of Rs.582 crores," a bench comprising Justices U U Lalit and Vineet Saran said in the judgement.

(Source: NDTV)

9. Housing Minister Says Special Advisory to Save Homebuyers’, Realty Stakeholders’ Interest Soon

The government will soon issue an advisory to all real estate regulatory authorities and states about the special measures that need to be taken to safeguard the interest of homebuyers and all other real estate industry stakeholders, said Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

In an urgent meeting of Central Advisory Council (CAC) constituted under the provisions of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA), held on Wednesday through a webinar, Puri discussed the impact of the pandemic Covid-19 and consequent nationwide lockdown on the real estate sector and to treat it as an event of ‘Force Majeure’ under the provisions of RERA.

(Source: The Economic Times)

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