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Brexit deal delayed as MPs seek deferment of decision : Live Updates

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Boris Johnson in Parliament

London, Oct 19 : The Brexit deal agreed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the European Union was delayed on Saturday after the parliamentarians voted for an amendment to defer a decision on the PM’s deal.

The MPs voted through the Letwin amendment to delay Brexit until necessary UK legislation is passed, the BBC reported.

There were loud cheers at the People’s Vote rally in Parliament Square as the Letwin was amendment passed in the House of Commons.

The Tory MPs left the Commons chamber en masse, following the government’s loss over the Letwin amendment. According to a BBC report, just a few of them were left.

Johnson, however, insisted that he will not negotiate a delay with the EU even as the move by the MPs has forced him to ask the EU for another Brexit delay.

The development now implies that Parliament will not vote on Johnson’s deal until next week.

The Letwin amendment was proposed by Oliver Letwin, an MP who was booted by Johnson out of the Conservative parliamentary party in September after he supported an anti-no-deal legislation known as the Benn Act.

The amendment, supported by the MPs on Saturday, calls for the House to “withhold support” from the UK PM’s Brexit deal with the EU until all legislations needed to implement the bill are passed by Parliament as well.

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US govt grants export licenses for some Huawei’s suppliers

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business Network late on Tuesday that the department has “had 290-something requests for specific licences.”

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Huawei US Suppliers

Washington, Nov 21 : The US government has started to issue licenses to some US suppliers, allowing them to resume shipping to China’s telecom giant Huawei, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The US Department of Commerce in May put Huawei on its Entity List over the so-called “national security concerns.” The sale or transfer of American technology to a company or person on the Entity List requires a license issued by the department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, Xinhua news agency reported.

Reuters cited two industry sources as saying that companies began receiving notices of approval and “intent to deny” notices from the Commerce Department on Wednesday.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business Network late on Tuesday that the department has “had 290-something requests for specific licences.”

“We now have been starting to send out the 20-day intent to deny letters and some approvals,” said Ross.

The Commerce Department announced Monday to extend, for the third time, a temporary license loosening restrictions on business deals with Huawei for another 90 days.

Huawei said in a statement on May 20 that the US export control decision is in no one’s interest and will do significant economic harm to the American companies with which Huawei does business.

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Mega disinvestment: BPCL, SCI, CONCOR to be privatised

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Centre proposes Disinvestment

New Delhi, Nov 20 : Brining an end to months of anticipation over the government lowering its stake in major public sector undertakings (PSU), the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved strategic disinvestment in five PSUs.

Addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Centre would strategically disinvest Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), THDC India Ltd and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO).

The government will also give up the management control in these companies, Sitharaman said.

The strategic sale of BPCL, however, would exclude the oil refiner’s 61 per cent stake in Numaligarh Refinery Ltd in Assam, Sitharaman told reports.

“Numaligarh will be carved out from BPCL before its disinvestment and would retain its PSU character. The company can be taken over by other CPSE in the oil and gas sector under consolidation,” she said.

At current share price, government’s 53.29 per cent stake in BPCL is worth around Rs 60,000 crore. This is likely to help the government meet its higher disinvestment target of Rs 1,05,000 crore for the financial year 2019-2020.

Two of the PSUs under the strategic disinvestment plan, THDC and NEEPCO, will be taken over by another state-run power major, NTPC.

In another decision, the Finance Minister said the government would lower its stake below 51 per cent in select PSUs while retaining their management control. The decision to bring down Centre’s stake will be taken on a case-to-case basis, she said.

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Hoarding unaccounted cash high in Rs 2000 notes: FM

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India Rupee

New Delhi, Nov 20 : The Rs 2000 notes, released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) post November 2016 demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes, has now emerged as the favourite currency for hoarders who have used the high denomination notes to stash unaccounted cash.

In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that 43.22 per cent of unaccounted cash seized in current fiscal year so far is in the form of Rs 2,000 notes.

The level of unaccounted cash has been higher at 60 per cent in previous fiscals FY18 and FY19, indicating a declining preference for the note, the Finance Minister told the Upper House.

In the first full financial year after demonetisation (FY18), 67.91 per cent of unaccounted cash was made up of Rs 2000 notes. It was a bit lower at 65.93 per cent in FY19.

Though the trend indicates that the percentage of Rs 2,000 notes found by the Income Tax Department in cash seizures has been on the decline, it has raised questions again whether high value currency promotes hoarding and gives a fillip to black economy.

The data given by the Finance Minister in Parliament has been provided by the Income Tax Department on the basis of an analysis of cases of cash seizures of over Rs 5 crore during the past three fiscals.

“To bring transparency in the source of funding to political parties, the provisions of section 13A of the Act have been amended to inter alia provide that no donations of Rs 2,000 or more shall be received otherwise than by an account payee cheque drawn on a bank or an account payee bank draft or use of electronic clearing system through a bank account or through electoral bonds,” the Finance Minister said.

While the Finance Minister did not outline any plan with respect of future course of action for the high value currency, several Finance Ministry officials have said in person that some action is needed to prevent misuse of the Rs 2000 note.

Former Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg had earlier said that Rs 2,000 notes can be demonetised without causing any disruption. He also said that majority of these notes are not in circulation since they are being hoarded.

As of March 31, 2019, 329.1 crore pieces of Rs 2,000 currency note were in circulation with a value of Rs 6.582 lakh crore.

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