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Amit Mitra lashes out at GST roll-out, says provisions draconian

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Amit Mitra

Kolkata, June 30 : Alleging that the GST Council’s demand for a white paper on the country’s preparedness for a July 1 roll out of the new indirect tax regime has not been met, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Friday termed as “draconian” a clause on anti-profiteering in the new system that could land traders in big trouble.

“The GST Council said one and a half months back that it should have a white paper on the state of preparedness in the country with regard to the GST roll-out. That would have clearly marked out the areas of shortfall. But till today we have not received it,” Mitra said, launching a blistering attack on the Centre ahead of launching of the new tax system from Friday-Saturday midnight.

He said the GST Council was completely in the dark about the extent to which the country was ready for the new tax system.

“Does GST Council know the state of preparedness? No,” Mitra, chairman of the Empowered Committee on GST, said at a panel discussion on private television channel ABP Ananda.

Claiming that the introduction of GST from Friday-Saturday midnight would lead to “total chaos”, Mitra said the central government would have to take the total blame for the situation.

Referring to deliberations in the GST meetings, Mitra said in the final legislation there was a clause on “anti-profiteering” which was “draconian”.

“It related to areas where the tax rate may go down after GST comes into force. The clause says if the businessman does not pass on the reduction in taxes as a result of the GST to the consumers, he will be charged with anti-profiteering.

“In GST meetings I had asked for an independent body to monitor this aspect. But they have tasked the central government agency CBEC (Central Board of Excise and Customs) with this. Traders are very scared. They may land in a soup,” he said.

Mitra referred to the arrest clause, saying it can cause “major harassment to business leaders, particularly the small and medium, with some sections even being non-bailable”.

“You don’t know who will be arrested.”

“It seems, Inspector Raj is back. The traders have even been asked to maintain an account of their daily stock online. If they do not, the arrest clause can come into play,” he said.

Mitra also alleged that the traders have not been given time to prepare themselves for the GST system.

“The tax rates were fixed by the GST Council only on June 3. Do you think a small trader can engage an accountant and enter everything into the computer system within such a short time?

To buttress his point, Mitra referred to Japan and Germany. “When they went for tax reforms, they gave 12-18 months’ time to traders after fixing the tax slabs.”

Continuing his criticism, Mitra said the final rules were notified only on Wednesday.

“This untimely roll-out will lead to chaos. Small businesses provide for 80 per cent employment in the country. They account for 40 per cent of the GDP. Why didn’t they (the central government) push back the launch date? What is so sacred about July 1?” Mitra wondered.

Mitra said he was apprehensive and concerned.

Explaining the rationale for his party boycotting the midnight GST roll-out event at the central hall of Parliament, Mitra said “I am apprehensive, concerned. (State Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief) Mamata (Banerjee) has taken the correct step.

“We don’t want to be a part of their event management exercise and clap by suppressing the pain in our heart and going against our conscience.”

“This is not the GST which we had backed in principle in our party manifesto for (Lok Sabha polls in) 2009. When tomorrow people will suffer, things will be chaotic, then central government will have to take the responsibility.”

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Equities trade flat-to-positive; Yes Bank, RIL top gainers

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SENSEX-

Mumbai, April 24: Key Indian equity indices on Tuesday traded on a flat note with marginal gains as broadly positive global cues, along with healthy buying in oil and gas and healthcare stocks kept investors’ sentiments buoyed.

Yes Bank, Reliance Industries (RIL), Adani Ports, ICICI Bank and HDFC were the top gainers on the BSE during mid-afternoon trade session.

However, heavy selling pressure in metals, IT and consumer durables stocks trimmed gains of the benchmark indices, market observers said.

Around 1 p.m., the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) traded flat at 10,585.20 points — up 0.50 points.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 34,491.38 points, traded at 34,520.38 points — up 69.61 points or 0.20 per cent from its previous session’s close.

The Sensex has so far touched a high of 34,612.43 points and a low of 34,465.49 points during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth was bearish with 1,291 declines and 1,168 advances.

“Indian markets opened mixed, Sensex rose 147 points and Nifty reclaimed 10,600 mark in early trade on Tuesday on sustained buying by domestic institutional investors amid firm Asian cues,” said Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls.

On Monday, the equity indices closed a volatile trade session on a flat-to-positive note as healthy quarterly results drove investors’ sentiments.

The Nifty50 closed higher by 20.65 points or 0.20 per cent at 10,584.70 points, while the Sensex closed at 34,450.77 points — up 35.19 points or 0.10 per cent.

IANS

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Xiaomi, Jio top India market

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New Delhi, April 24: Xiaomi continued to lead the Indian smartphone market with 31.1 percent market share while Reliance Jio topped the feature phone market with a massive 35.8 percent share in the first quarter of 2018, a new report has said.

Xiaomi was the leader with 25 per cent market share in Q4 of 2017.

According to Counterpoint’s “Market Monitor” service, Samsung with 26.2 per cent share was second, followed by Vivo at 5.8 per cent share in the smartphone segment.

Driven by the feature phone segment which doubled owing to strong shipments of Reliance JioPhone, India’s overall mobile phone shipments grew 48 per cent (YoY) in Q1 2018.

Honor (Huawei) entered top five smartphone brands for the first time. Honor (146 per cent), Xiaomi (134 per cent) and OnePlus (112 per cent) were the fastest growing smartphone brands.

“Q1 2018 started off with some brands sitting on inventory post the festive season in Q4 2017, which continued throughout the quarter as industry moves to a Full View display portfolio,” Karn Chauhan, Research Analyst, said in a statement.

Furthermore, the quarter was also marked with less than normal smartphone launches as very few brands refreshed their portfolio, except for Xiaomi and Samsung which benefitted from the new launches.

“However, we expect the demand to start picking up from early Q2 2018 onwards, driven by faster replacement rate of existing 2G and 3G smartphone users upgrading to 4G mobile phones,” Chauhan added.

This is the first time that the top five smartphone brands accounted for more than 70 per cent market share in a single quarter.

“Xiaomi and Samsung alone captured 58 per cent of the total smartphone market. Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 and 5 Pro were the most popular models for the Chinese brand, whereas Samsung Galaxy J7 NXT and J2 (2017) drove volumes for the Korean vendor,” said Anshika Jain, Research Analyst.

The performance of Chinese brands remained strong, accounting for 57 per cent of the total smartphone market in Q1 2018, up from 53 per cent during Q1 2017.

“The demand for JioPhone continued through Q1 2018 as Reliance Jio’s feature phone market share raced from 0 per cent last year to 36 per cent in Q1 2018. This demand was catalysed by the introduction of a cheaper data plan,” said Tarun Pathak, Associate Director.

China based Transsion Group (the holding group of Tecno, Itel and Infinix) has become the fifth largest player with four per cent market share in Q1 2018 (combined for all three brands).

The race for the fifth position is quite close between Lava, Micromax, Honor, Nokia (HMD) and Lenovo (+Moto) brands.

Itel is the third largest player in the feature phone segment with 17 per cent growth (YoY).

IANS

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Key equity indices provisionally end in green

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Mumbai, April 23: The key Indian equity indices provisionally closed in the green on Monday on the back of healthy buying in consumer durables, healthcare and IT stocks.

However, selling pressure on metal and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) stocks trimmed gains in the market.

At 3.30 p.m., the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) provisionally closed higher by 20.65 points or 0.20 per cent at 10,584.70 points.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 34,493.69 points, closed at 34,450.77 points (3.30 p.m.) — up 35.19 points or 0.10 per cent — from its previous session’s close.

The Sensex touched a high of 34,663.95 points and a low of 34,259.27 during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth was bullish with 1,399 advances and 1,284 declines.

On Monday, the major gainers on the BSE were IndusInd Bank, Mahindra and Mahindra, Sun Pharma, Asian Paints and Yes Bank while HDFC Bank, Tata Motors (DVR), Coal India, Hero MotoCorp and ICICI Bank were among the major losers.

On NSE, the top gainers were IndusInd Bank, Mahindra and Mahindra and BPCL. The major losers were Hindalco Industries, Indiabulls Housing Finance and UPL.

On Friday, negative global cues such as high crude oil prices, along with a weak rupee and heavy selling pressure in banking stocks subdued the key Indian equity markets.

The Nifty50 closed at 10,564.05 points on Friday, down 1.25 points or 0.01 per cent from its previous close and the Sensex closed at 34,415.58 points, down 11.71 points or 0.03 per cent.

IANS

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