Economic Growth Set To Bounce Back As Slump Bottoms Out: Sanjeev Sanyal
The economic growth is poised to bounce back after slipping to a more than six-year low of 4.5 per cent in the July-September quarter as the government has taken measures to prop up investments and consumer demand, a top government adviser said.
"Corporate tax reductions, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and the banking sector reforms have helped and will help propel growth further," Sanjeev Sanyal, principal economic adviser at the finance ministry, told Reuters.
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, introduced in May 2016, has helped banks to recover billions of dollars stuck in outstanding corporate loans and offer loans to new borrowers.
Mr Sanyal said economic growth was set to accelerate to 6 per cent in the financial year beginning in April, compared with estimated growth of 5.0 per cent in the current one.
But many private economists are less optimistic, saying the current downturn may continue for the next few quarters due to a dip in private investments and tepid consumer demand.
Nomura said Asia's third-largest economy will see a sub-par recovery, and forecast 4.7 per cent GDP growth for the current fiscal year and 5.7 per cent for the next fiscal year.
Mr Sanyal dismissed the conservative estimates and said his numbers took into account early signs of recovery in manufacturing and a pick-up in consumer demand.
He said the government expected that average consumer price inflation would fall to 4 per cent in the next financial year beginning April, after a recent spike driven largely by food prices.
There is enough space for the central bank to further cut interest rates, however, as inflation was likely to ease following a fall in vegetable prices, he said.
"While there was a slowdown, this slowdown has by and large now bottomed out, and if anything from here on, growth is going to go up," Mr Sanyal said.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who tabled her annual budget earlier this month, told parliament on Tuesday that the signs of "green shoots were visible" and the economy was no longer in trouble.
The Reserve Bank of India last week kept it policy rates steady but downwardly revised the country's growth forecast for the first half of the next fiscal year to 5.5-6.0 per cent from an earlier projection of 5.9-6.3 per cent.
Mr Sanyal said the budget has offered a clutch of tax incentives for sovereign wealth and insurance funds, which would leave more banking funds for private companies despite higher state borrowings.
Other than the coronavirus outbreak in China, there is no "major other disruption," to India, he said adding it was difficult to quantify the impact as the situation was still evolving.
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Budget 2020: FM Nirmala Sitharaman should make taxpayer-friendly announcements like pre-filled ITR forms
Budget 2020: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech of 2019-20, quoted the introduction of pre-filled income tax return forms from AY2020-21 that was meant to help the small taxpayers file their yearly returns with just a few clicks.
Currently, if a taxpayer chooses to file ITR 1 or ITR 4 form then little information such as his/her personal details, bank account number, salary details (if form 16 was issued to him), TDS deductions and interest received on FDs are pre-filled, and therefore he/she is required to find information in respect of all other requisites that he/she needs to fill therein payment of premiums, capital gains arises on the sale of securities etc.
But, if pre-filled forms get introduced; it will help the majority of taxpayers as well as professionals but in order to use this option, certain precautions need to be taken. They are as follows:
- Verify personal details such as the mobile number and email id so that the taxpayer can get all communication like notices & intimations in respect of his/her returns on his/her own email id.
- Verify bank account number and IFSc Code: To receive income tax refund promptly, a person's bank account number and IFSC code need to be verified
- We expect that the income tax department will prefill the investment details of a taxpayer such as payment of premiums in respect of LLP or medical insurances; therefore before finalising the return form, the taxpayer should verify it from the policy documents as well as his/her bank statement.
- In case the taxpayer receives salary from more than one employer, then he/she should calculate the correct amount that should have been chargeable to tax under the head 'Salaries' without claiming the slab benefit twice.
- In case the taxpayer has any bank account where he/she hasn't quoted his/her PAN yet then the interest received from such bank account(s) could not be pre-filled, therefore the taxpayer then would need to add that interest income in his/her income tax computation.
- We also expect the income tax department to prefill the details of the gain made on account of sale and purchase of securities through DMAT account, if this happens then the taxpayer needs to verify the same as per his/her yearly/monthly statement provided by the broker.
- Where the taxpayer has derived income by way of commission/rent/business/capital gain on sale of assets/other interests/brokerage etc then these will not be prefilled by the Income-tax department therefore before filing the income tax return, it is advisable to consult a chartered accountant or any other recognised expert who can help a taxpayer to figure it out as per the provisions of the income tax act and rules made thereunder.
The Pre-filled Income tax forms will surely help the small taxpayers in file their Income tax returns within a few minutes and a few clicks. This will surely increase the number of tax returns from the past assessment years.
Government Moving Fast On Electric Vehicle Adoption
Even as the Budget 2020-21 disappointed over the lack of any new scheme for faster adoption of electric vehicles, the government is moving at a fast pace to complete the full-scale electrification of transportation in the country.
As per Department of Heavy Industry data, the government has already extended support to 8,500 electric vehicles (EVs) by way of demand incentives amounting to about Rs 20 crore under Phase-II of its FAME Scheme.
Also, so far 5,595 e-buses in 64 cities have been sanctioned for inter and intra-city operations across 26 states and union territories. A demand incentive of Rs 2,500 crore has been given under this category. For charging infrastructure, the government scheme has spent Rs 500 crore and sanctioned 2,636 charging stations in 62 cities.
The Fame-II scheme commenced from April 1, 2019. It follows the success of its earlier version that created the ground for initial roll-out of electric mobility products in the country.
The main objective of the scheme is to encourage faster adoption of electric vehicles by way of offering upfront incentives on purchase of EVs and creation of necessary charging stations.
Under the scheme, 12 models of electric motors of 2W, seven models of electric 3W motors and 11 models of 4W motors have been registered. The first wave of these registrations could be seen from the number of launches of electric two-wheelers in the country.
India is committed to its goal of becoming a 100 per cent EV market; the timeline may shift ahead by a few years, but the commitment is demonstrated in the slew of announcements made in the previous Budget.
It has already moved the GST council to lower the GST rate on EVs from 12 per cent to 5 per cent. It has also made EVs affordable for consumers by extending additional income tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on the interest paid on loans taken to purchase EVs.
Exemption in customs duty on lithium-ion cells to zero per cent was also announced with the intention to reduce the cost of lithium-ion batteries in India since they are not yet manufactured locally.
Through demand creation measures, government is hoping that investor interest also picks up in indigenisation of EV technology that will give a push to 'Make in India'.
Andhra Pradesh to announce new industrial policy in March
Andhra Pradesh's special chief secretary, industries and commerce, Rajat Bhargava, has said the state will announce new industrial policy in March. Bhargava told Business Today the new policy will replace the current policy which will end in March.
Bulk of the work in relation to the new policy has been completed "with almost 80 per cent of the policy draft already in place", Bhargava said. He added the government was in touch with various stakeholders to give the new industrial policy finishing touch.
Industry in the region has been keen on a stable policy following the change of government. Many contracts entered into by the previous government had come under review after the new government took over last year. Bhargava also dismissed a media report that claimed carmaker Kia was planning to shift its facility in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu.
He said Kia Motors and Andhra Pradesh government were in strong partnership and the company was, in fact, planning to ramp up its production capacity from 2 lakh units per annum to about 3 lakh units this year. He also referred to Kia's statement that the company had no plans to shift out of Andhra Pradesh. He further revealed Tamil Nadu government's principal secretary in the industries department had conveyed to the Andhra government that they were not in talks with Kia Motors.
Earlier, Andhra Pradesh's Finance Minister Buggana Rajendernath also denied that Kia may be considering moving out of Andhra.
Kia Motors' unit in Anantapur started operations in 2019 with an estimated investment of around Rs 14,000 crore. The state government claims chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who visited the Kia plant for inauguration, had accepted Kia's demand for an under-bridge on the road near the plant. The Chief Minister has also extended full cooperation to the plant to meet their requirements, the finance minister said.
Indian Oil Signs Annual Deal On Option To Buy Crude From Russia's Rosneft
State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has signed a deal with Russian oil major Rosneft giving it an option to buy up to 2 million tonnes, or 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude in 2020, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Wednesday.
India has been diversifying its sources of crude oil imports, in order to hedge political risks that threaten to choke off supplies from a particular region or country.
"This is just the beginning," Mr Pradhan said after meeting Igor Sechin, chairman of Rosneft, in New Delhi.
India's top refiner will exercise its option to buy Urals crude under this first annual deal with Rosneft whenever the price is low enough to compensate for freight costs, an IOC source said.
The contract gives IOC has the option to take as much as 40,000 bpd of oil this year, said the source, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
State refiners typically buy Russian oil via the spot market rather than under contract. The nation's crude imports from Russia have typically been low since the freight costs tend to exceed those for Middle East supplies.
India is the world's third-biggest oil consumer and importer. It ships in more than 80 per cent of its crude needs, usually relying on the Middle East for most of its supply.
Last year, however, the Middle East's share of India's crude imports shrank to 60 per cent, down from 65 per cent in 2018 and its lowest since 2015, as record output from the United States and countries like Russia offered alternatives for importers to tap.
Sechin indicated his readiness to work with Indian oil and gas companies to further strengthen the country's energy security, Mr Pradhan said on Twitter after their meeting.
The two sides also discussed Indian investments in the Eastern Cluster projects of Russia, especially in the Arctic, he said.
Mr Pradhan also told Rosneft of the federal government's plan to sell its stake in state refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp, said two sources who sought anonymity.
Rosneft said it would look at the offer without committing to place a bid for BPCL, the sources said.
In November, Mr Pradhan had said international energy firms would be invited to participate in privatisation of state-owned oil companies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met chief executives of firms including Exxon Mobil Corp, BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell, Rosneft Oil Co, Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) in Houston.