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FM Sitharaman may push for Rs 30K cr interim dividend from RBI to meet low revenue generation, slowdown

The government is fighting a six year low growth, subdued demand and consumption leading to projections of 5 per cent growth in current fiscal which is an 11 year drop.

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Nirmala Sitharaman
RBI governor Shaktikanta Das and FM Nirmala Sitharaman RBI governor Shaktikanta Das and FM Nirmala Sitharaman and at the post-Budget meeting (Picture Credit DNA)

The Finance Ministry is likely to push for Rs 25,000-30,000 crore interim dividend from RBI, for the third time in a row, to check slippages in the fiscal deficit of 3.3 per cent in 2019-20.

The central bank and government may touch upon the issue when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will meet RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das at post Budget Vision customary meeting.

Government has a Budget estimate of Rs 90,000 crore dividend from RBI in FY20. RBI follows a fiscal of July-June. The interim dividend of the RBI’s total dividend for 2019-20 (July-June) can help the government check 3.3 per cent fiscal deficit target slippage.

In the past RBI has paid a total Rs 38,000 crore as interim dividend (Rs 28,000 crore in FY19 and Rs 10,000 crore in FY18).

“If the RBI board recommends, then it will be the third time when interim payout will be given to the government,” said sources.

The central bank had paid Rs 28,000 crore as interim dividend from its 2018-19 fiscal accounts (July-June) in February, which helped the government contain deficit at 3.4 per cent in the last fiscal.

The Reserve Bank follows July-June financial year and usually distributes the dividend in August after annual accounts are finalised and interim dividends if any, they are given around February to the government.

Seeking interim dividends are not common. The Bimal Jalan-led committee on the RBI’s economic capital framework recommended in August that an interim dividend should be paid to the government only in “exceptional circumstances”.

The Finance Ministry’s contention is that this year has “exceptional circumstances” because of the slowdown, low revenue generation and outgo of Rs 1.45 lakh crore due to corporate tax cuts.

For 2018-19 (July-June), the RBI transferred a total of Rs 1.76 trillion to the central government, including a one-time transfer of Rs 52,637 crore which was deemed as excess reserves and comprising Rs 1,23,414 crore of surplus for the year 2018-19.

The government is fighting a six year low growth, subdued demand and consumption leading to projections of 5 per cent growth in current fiscal which is an 11 year drop.

On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) slashed India’s FY20 growth forecast to 4.8 per cent, besides trimming global outlook and said India’s slow growth is dragging down the world economy.

The Finance Ministry might seek the interim dividend from the RBI to meet some of the financial pressure due to the low revenue generation from taxes and disinvestment and slowdown, said the sources.

The RBI largely earns profits on its trading of currencies and government bonds. Part of these earnings are set aside by the RBI for its operational and contingency needs while the rest is transferred to the government in the form of dividends.

The Union Budget 2019-20 had pegged dividend or surplus of the RBI, nationalised banks and financial institutions at Rs 1.06 lakh crore up from Rs 74,140.37 crore realised in the previous fiscal.

(Anjana Das can be contacted at [email protected])

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Ground Zero: A dangerous mix of politics and police inaction?

Eyewitness say when the pro and anti-CAA protesters clashed, the police remained a mute spectator.

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Maujpur anti CAA Violence

New Delhi, Feb 24 : After all, the sudden quiet at Shaheen Bagh, on the boil for over two months, was deeply deceptive, if you look at the way how the protest — for and against the new citizenship law — spilled out to north-east of Delhi, with the police yet again failing to read the situation.

Many locals say the violence at Maujpur-Jafrabad in north-east Delhi erupted soon after BJP leader Kapil Mishra took out a march on Sunday in support of the Controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as well as against the anti-CAA women protesters who had blocked the road at Jafrabad metro station.

The police stepped in when Kapil Mishra addressed the crowd, sources said. He was flanked by the Deputy Commissioner of Police clad in full riot gear. Some people cite a video clip that shows the BJP leader giving an “ultimatum” to the police, saying “he will come back after the visiting US President leaves India”.

“But the DCP did not act,” said a local resident.

Stone-pelting soon started on the crowd protesting against CAA at Jafrabad.

But how does Kapil Mishra get into the picture? The Karawal Nagar (another north-east Delhi locality) politician was in the AAm AAdmi Party and had switched to the BJP just days before the Delhi polls. He contested from Karawal Nagar, but lost.

A few days back, scores of Jafrabad residents had let it be known that on Saturday (February 22), they would start a march to Rajghat. They were responding to an appeal by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad who had called for ‘Bharat bandh’ on Sunday. On saturday, the women protesters were stopped midway, but soon they were at Jafrabad Metro station, blocking the road and the metro station.

Eyewitness say when the pro and anti-CAA protesters clashed, the police remained a mute spectator.

The situation turned uglier: On Monday the violence reached the lanes and by-lanes of some localities where passers-by were beaten up if they did not tell their names to aggressive groups of men.

Many pictures and videos of violence have gone viral where unidentified people have been seen brandishing guns as policemen look on. A head constable, Ratan Lal, lost his life on Monday after being hit by rioters.

The violence has spread to Chand Bagh, Khureji in east Delhi and Hauz Rani in south Delhi and fear stalks the roads. Yet no one knows how it all started and when and how it will end.

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Rajnath: I pray for early release of Abdullahs & Mehbooba from detention

Rajnath Singh drew accolades in Kashmir while he was the Home Minister in the previous government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for his uprightness and kindness.

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omar mehbooba

New Delhi, Feb 22 : Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said that he is praying for the early release of three former chief ministers of Jammu & Kashmir from their detention and hoping that they will contribute to normalizing situation in Kashmir.

Dozens of politicians, including three former chief ministers — Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah of National Conference (NC) and Mehbooba Mufti of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) — were placed under preventive detention soon after the Modi government reorganized and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union Territories on August 5 last year.

Though most of the politicians have been released since then, the three chief ministers and a dozen politicians remain detained. While Farooq Abdullah was booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) in September, Omar and Mehbooba were also recently detained under the same law. The government cited their provocative statements and threats issued before the nullification of Article 370 of the Indian constitution which granted special status to Jammu & Kashmir state.

In an exclusive interview to IANS on Saturday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Kashmir has been peaceful. The situation is improving rapidly. Along with the improvement, these decisions (release of politicians from detention) will also be finalized. The government has not tortured anyone.”

Defending the government’s decision, the Defence Minister said that certain steps had been taken in the interests of Kashmir. “Everybody should welcome it,” he said.

Singh said he will pray for the early release of the Abdullahs and Mufti from their detention. “I also pray that once they are out, they work and contribute towards improvement of the situation in Kashmir,” the Union Minister said.

Rajnath Singh drew accolades in Kashmir while he was the Home Minister in the previous government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for his uprightness and kindness.

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Research and development activity to get hit as WD benefit to cease from FY21

According to experts, R&D activity is a key proponent of the ‘Make in India’ strategy and to further expand the manufacturing sector in the country.

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Research and development activity

New Delhi, Feb 19 : India Inc’s R&D activity might get adversely impacted as weighted deduction (WD) benefits, including those on capital expenses, stand withdrawn from the next fiscal.

Till now, the Income Tax Act allowed for weighted deduction for all R&D activities.

However, four years back a sunset provision was introduced in the Budget on the availability of weighted deduction from April 1, 2020.

This deadline was expected to have been extended in this year’s Budget. However, that did not happen.

“The weighted deduction was a key reason for entities to invest in R&D infra. This withdrawal will impact future investments in this area,” said Amarjeet Singh, Senior Partner, International Tax and Regulatory, KPMG in India.

According to experts, R&D activity is a key proponent of the ‘Make in India’ strategy and to further expand the manufacturing sector in the country.

Besides, R&D investments into India have grown with many MNCs establishing their research bases here.

“The ‘Make in India’ programme has got the booster of a reduced tax rate. Similarly, had the government continued with the weighted deduction for R&D, it would have surely ensured that India marched ahead both in manufacturing and in the corresponding R&D,” said Gukul Chaudhri, Partner, Deloitte India.

“So, while India may not lose its tag as the R&D lab of the world, the availability of weighted deduction would have ensured that India continued as one of the most attractive destinations for R&D in the world,” Chaudhri added.

The Finance Act, 2016, restricted the availability of expenditure incurred on scientific research to 150 per cent from April 1, 2017, and no weighted deduction from April 1, 2020.

“Globally, most countries are encouraging R&D activity as it generates new ‘intellectual property’ (IP), which in turn creates sustainable revenues. Such IP or new product gives rise to a new industry and other supporting activities,” said Samir Kanabar, Partner, Tax and Regulatory Services, Ernst & Young.

“In India, several sectors like auto, pharma etc. have invested substantially in R&D facilities to develop new IPs, patents and hence, a new tax regime to boost R&D was a major expectation,” Kanabar added.

However, Suman Chowdhury, President, Ratings, Acuite Ratings and Research, said that the reduction in weighted tax deduction will not have any significant effect on India Inc’s R&D activity.

“India’s R&D activity has held steady at 0.7 per cent of GDP over 5 years and no visible signs of positive outcomes were seen emanating from private enterprises despite such benefits,” Chowdhury said.

“Nevertheless, corporates now enjoy a reduced effective corporate tax structure, which should more than compensate for the loss, at least for the manufacturing sector. Service oriented enterprises, whose business model thrives on innovation, do not require incentives to do R&D in our opinion,” Chowdhury added.

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])

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