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Gadkari advocates bringing fuel under GST

The money that was saved from removing subsidy on fuel allowed the government to give free Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) connections to eight crore families across India.

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Nitin Gadkari

New Delhi, May 25 : With petrol and diesel rates skyrocketing on a daily basis, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday advocated bringing fuel under the GST to curb the price hike.

“Petrol and diesel should have been brought under the Goods and Services Tax. I asked officials during a presentation if we bring fuel prices under GST will it benefit the states or not.

“They said ‘yes’, they will benefit,” Gadkari said at a news conclave here on the four years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

He said, however, the states were wary of losing revenue on account of taxes they collect from fuel prices and liquor.

“It will be good if fuel prices are brought under GST. This will not only reduce the fuel prices but will also increase the government’s revenue.”

He, however, said it was his personal opinion, and the ultimate decision regarding this remained with the Petroleum Ministry.

The Minister said fuel prices were surging because of international crude oil rate.

“Earlier, we were giving subsidy on the import (of fuels). When the rates came down, the subsidy was removed. We are part of a global economy…The price of petrol and diesel are increasing due to rise of their price in international rates.”

He said the money that was saved from removing subsidy on fuel allowed the government to give free Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) connections to eight crore families across India.

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Finance Ministry to provide capital support from Rs 20k cr fund to some PSBs in Q3

The fund infusion would be for meeting regulatory capital requirements if the need arises in October-December quarter, sources said

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The Finance Ministry is likely to provide capital support from the Rs 20,000 crore fund approved by Parliament in recently concluded session to some Public Sector Banks (PSBs) in the third quarter itself.

Parliament approved Rs 20,000 crore for PSB capital infusion as part of the first batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2020-21 which sought additional spending of a record Rs 2.35 trillion primarily to meet expenses for combating the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fund infusion would be for meeting regulatory capital requirements if the need arises in October-December quarter, sources said.

The second quarter result will give an idea as to which bank may require regulatory capital and accordingly recapitalisation bonds would be issued to them, sources said.

Besides, state-owned banks already have shareholders’ approval for raising capital through a mix of equity and bonds during the current fiscal.

It is to be noted that the government refrained from committing any capital in the Budget 2020-21 for PSBs, hoping that lenders will raise funds from the market depending on the requirement.

In 2019-20, the government infused Rs 70,000 crore into PSBs to boost credit for a strong impetus to the economy.

In the last financial year, Punjab National Bank got Rs 16,091 crore, Union Bank of India received Rs 11,768 crore while Canara Bank and Indian Bank got Rs 6,571 crore and Rs 2,534 crore, respectively.

Allahabad Bank received Rs 2,153 crore, United Bank of India got Rs 1,666 crore and Andhra Bank received Rs 200 crore. These three lenders have been merged with various PSBs.

Besides, Bank of Baroda got a capital infusion of Rs 7,000 crore, Indian Overseas Bank received Rs 4,360 crore and UCO Bank got Rs 2,142 crore. Punjab & Sind Bank received Rs 787 crore and Central Bank of India got Rs 3,353 crore.

In addition, LIC-controlled IDBI Bank received additional capital of Rs 4,557 crore.

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RBI’s role in Dhanlaxmi Bank Board should be reviewed: AIBEA

Earlier the bank closed down many of its branches in north Indian States owing to inadequate controls which landed the bank into problems.

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Dhanlaxmi Bank

Chennai, Sep 27 : The role of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the Board of Directors of Dhanlaxmi Bank (originally Dhanalakshmi Bank) should be reviewed, said a top official of the largest union in the banking sector.

Stating that the small private sector bank Dhanlaxmi Bank which had turned around is back to old ways C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) said: “We strongly believe that RBI’s role in the Board of Directors of the Bank should be reviewed as otherwise RBI would become answerable if things go bad.”

In a letter to Shaktikanta Das, Governor, RBI on Saturday Venkatachalam said: “If Reserve Bank of India does not effectively intervene in the affairs of this Bank now, once again the Bank will run into problems. Slowly, the people and the customers of the Bank have regained their confidence about the Bank and any reversal of the same would be suicidal for the Bank.”

“We strongly believe that RBI’s role in the Board of Directors of the Bank should be reviewed as otherwise RBI would become answerable if things go bad,” Venkatachalam said and sought Das’ personal and urgent intervention.

Venkatachalam said the 93-year old small sized Kerala based Dhanlaxmi Bank around 2008-2012 was making losses.

The bank made a loss of over Rs 850 crore during that period as the top management brought it to serious problems and in the name of modernising it, Venkatachalam recalled.

“With the intervention of RBI, change in top management, and strengthening its capital base, etc. and inducting some reputed people on the Board of Directors of the Bank, the Bank has been making a turnaround and now the Bank has come into profit,” the letter notes.

Venkatachalam said for the past two years, Dhanlaxmi Bank is making profits with the profit for last fiscal being Rs 65 crore-the highest since the bank’s inception.

“In the beginning of this year, the top management has changed and in the recent months we are concerned to observe that perhaps the Bank once again is heading in the wrong direction,” Venkatachalam said.

Earlier the bank closed down many of its branches in north Indian States owing to inadequate controls which landed the bank into problems.

“But we learn that attempts are again being made to open more Branches in northern States while the Bank has inadequate infrastructure to manage the business in those areas,” Venkatachalam sounded the warning bugle.

Expressing concern at the plans to appoint a large number of sales executives and senior executives on contractual and cost to company basis at much higher remuneration Venkatachalam said the move would land the bank in a catastrophe as the already the cost to income ratio is high.

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Column: Helping Indian SMEs to achieve scale – Behind Infra Lines

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As the Indian economy deals with the economic impact of the Corona induced slowdown, an opportunity to make constructive changes to the economic policies has arisen.

India needs a long hard look at ways to deregulate the economy and businesses. Deregulation pertains to not just the legal frameworks at play but the overarching tax, law and business frameworks that drive business decisions and policies. Changes that can help reduce the regulatory burdens and hindrances to business will help businesses in India achieve the elixir of “creating scale” to help them take advantage of economies of scale.

In a recent article, Paula Mariwala refers to the fact that if Adam Smith or Napoleon who referred to England as “a nation of shopkeepers” were to stereotype India, they would arguably refer to us as “a nation of entrepreneurs”. The article further goes on to state that 80 per cent of Indians find livelihoods in the informal sector. The two biggest takeaways from the article are both the importance of small businesses to the Indian economy and the need to help support small businesses.

While a lot is written and said about helping SMEs and MSMEs, the critical point that needs attention is how to assist businesses in India to scale to a larger size. Taking advantage of the concept of ‘economies of scale’ is probably the most significant need for companies across the spectrum in India. While lack of access to credit has been a large contributing factor to the hindrances faced by small businesses in India, a more effective and less complicated regulatory regime is equally important, if not more.

A closer look at the issue will show that a lack of access to credit and complex regulatory ecosystem that hampers the growth of small businesses are closely interlinked. As has been oft-repeated, Indian businesses suffer from the vicious cycle of not being able to formalise due to the complexity of the regulatory regime and, therefore, lacking access to credit and thereby remaining small are unable to achieve economies of scale.

Essentially, the inability to achieve scale today inhibits the ability to achieve scale in the future. Therefore, the critical question is how does the government turn this vicious cycle to a virtuous one in which small businesses are incentivised to formalise, access credit more easily, achieve scale and generate returns and get the ever-important tax revenue that is needed? Essentially, when making policy changes, one question that policymakers must keep in mind is whether the policy change will assist small businesses to achieve scale. While achieving ‘economies of scale’ cannot be the only determinant of policy decisions, it must surely be a major one.

For instance, for smaller businesses the concept of ‘job work’ whereby a larger business outsources some of its work to a smaller unit or a small unit outsources parts of the product creation to another small unit sounds routine but is of prime importance. Job work allows for economies of scale through specialisation. As India moves ahead, especially intending to boost manufacturing, the ability of small businesses to achieve scale will be driven through their ability to specialise that will allow them to scale and add technology. In this case, compliances around concepts such as ‘job work’ must get more attention in terms of ease and compliance burdens on businesses.

While the concept of jobwork and related regulation at the surface seems standard, a searching look on how Indian small businesses will grow will reveal the importance of rules around concepts such as jobwork. As mentioned earlier, scale is needed for businesses to thrive as the classic economic theory dictates. It is only after a threshold of scale is achieved that businesses can start enjoying the fruits of lower costs, greater profits, formalisation and access to credit, thereby further boosting growth. Indian SMEs have historically struggled for scale and the concomitant advantages that scale brings.

Therefore, as India emerges from the economic slowdown, significant attention must be paid towards the need of businesses to achieve scale. Capital flows, job creation and demand creation are all factors that revolve around the success and scalability of millions of businesses in India. Policy creation and changes that keep a close eye on assisting Indian businesses to scale amongst other factors will have a significant contribution to putting the wheels back on India’s growth story.

(The author heads Development Tracks, an advisory firm. You can contact him at [email protected] The views expressed in this article are personal and that of the author)

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