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Govt may consider halving cess on domestic crude

The changes would also provide a level playing field to domestic companies as imported crude does not attract cess.

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New Delhi: The government may give a ‘Make in India’ push to oil and gas explorers, as it is considering a proposal to halve cess on domestic crude oil to encourage exploration activity and allow Covid-hit oil producers to protect their margins at a time when a glut in the market and suppressed demand is pushing down prices.

Cess on domestic crude is currently levied at the rate of 20 per cent of the value of oil. Official sources said that this may come to 10 per cent if a proposal given by the industry and the Oil Ministry is accepted by the Finance Ministry.

A top Oil Ministry official said that they are looking at extending tax concessions, along with reduction in oil cess and the Finance Ministry has been apprised of the matter for action.

Though the larger view is in favour of halving the cess, the exact quantum would be worked out later. The reduction in the levy has huge revenue implications as ONGC alone pays cess in excess of Rs 10,000 crore annually.

The changes would also provide a level playing field to domestic companies as imported crude does not attract cess.

“Cess is levied only on crude oil produced domestically. Thus, it places domestic crude oil production vis-a-vis imported crude oil at a significant disadvantage as imported crude does not attract such duty. This levy is against the spirit of ‘Make in India’,” industry chamber FICCI had said in its memorandum given to the Finance Ministry earlier.

The Finance Ministry had revised oil cess in the FY17 Union Budget, shifting it from specific charge of Rs 4,500 per tonne of crude to an ad valorem rate of 20 per cent. This was done to help the exploration firms from higher cess burden at a time when crude oil prices were falling.

Though oil prices are moving at over $40 a barrel for some time now, fluctuations in pricing always puts domestic crude producers at a disadvantage.

The problem is magnified as cess incurred by producers is not recoverable from refineries and forms part of cost of production of crude oil. The Oil Industry (Development) Act, 1974, provides for collection of cess as a duty of excise on indigenous crude oil. This adds to loss of revenue for exploration companies.

The government is looking to reduce tax burden on oil companies to push up domestic production that has stagnated for past several years at around 30-34 million tonne.

The reduction in oil cess would benefit upstream companies such as ONGC and Cairn India whose production is subjected to the oil industry development cess levied on an ad valorem basis.

But under the new open acreage licensing policy (OALP), which provides pricing and marketing freedom to operators along with the power to select the block for exploration, does not attract oil cess. This puts the older oil and gas blocks at a disadvantage to any new hydrocarbon finds.

Currently, state-owned ONGC and OIL pay a cess on crude oil they produce from their allotted fields on a nomination basis. Cairn India has to pay the same cess for oil from the Rajasthan block.

Most of crude oil produced in India comes from pre-NELP and nomination blocks and is liable for payment of cess. NELP blocks like Reliance Industries’ KG-D6 are exempt from payment of cess while pre-NELP discovered blocks like Panna/Mukta and Tapti and Ravva pay a fixed rate of cess of Rs 900 per tonne.

The cess was levied at Rs 60 per tonne in July 1974 and subsequently revised from time to time. In 2005-06, when the crude oil prices had increased from an average of $40 per barrel to $60, the OID cess was raised from Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,500 per tonne from March 1, 2006. Again, when the crude prices climbed to over $100, the rate of cess went up to Rs 4,500 ($12 per barrel) with effect from March 17, 2012.

–IANS

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“How To Destroy An Economy”: Rahul Gandhi’s Latest Swipe At Government

Kaushik Basu, who served as Chief Economic Adviser to the Finance Ministry, tweeted a warning to the centre: “Don’t be in data denial… take corrective action…”

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New Delhi: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi this afternoon cited figures collated by renowned economist Kaushik Basu – which project India’s GDP as contracting the most among a selection of 11 Asian nations, including China – to take yet another swipe at the government.

“How to completely destroy an economy and infect the maximum number of people really quickly,” Mr Gandhi tweeted, with a data table showing projected GDP growth (for 2020) for 11 Asian countries and the number of coronavirus-related deaths (per million) for each.

India, with a projected GDP contraction of 10.3 per cent (according to a IMF report released ealier last week) and 83 Covid-related deaths per million, is at the bottom of a list that includes China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in a report released last Tuesday, said it expected India’s economy to shrink by 10.3 per cent – a huge downward revision from its June prediction for a government under pressure over its handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout.

Kaushik Basu, who served as Chief Economic Adviser to the Finance Ministry, tweeted another warning today: “Don’t be in data denial. Mistakes happen-admit & take corrective action…”

In August the government said India’s GDP had contracted by 23.9 per cent – much worse than expected – in April-June, as the pandemic brought key industries to a halt and left millions jobless.

Mr Gandhi tore into that revelation, accusing the government of ignoring repeated warnings from experts on the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic had affected the economy

The government has since claimed a recovery of sorts – on both fronts.

Earlier this month the Finance Ministry said “demand resurgence is palpable in many sectors” and yesterday a government-appointed committee said the country had crossed the coronavirus peak.

One of the points claimed by the committee was that the early lockdown, which triggered the economic problems – had significantly helped reduce the number of deaths due to the virus.

Meanwhile, apart from highlighting a potentially difficult 2020 for India’s GDP (something several economists and reports have already flagged), the IMF report triggered another row when it suggested that India’s per capita GDP is set to drop below that of Bangladesh.

Rahul Gandhi pounced on that as well, tweeting: “Solid achievement of 6 years of BJP’s hate-filled cultural nationalism. Bangladesh set to overtake India”.

Shortly after that government sources issued a clarification, claiming that in terms of purchasing power parity – a measure of GDP that accounts for relative differences between countries – India’s per capita GDP in 2019 was actually 11 times higher than that of Bangladesh.

China, which according to the data sheet shared first by Mr Basu and then Mr Gandhi, is projected to record positive GDP growth – 1.9 per cent – this year.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, is to record an impressive 3.8 per cent GDP growth for 2020.

This afternoon China released its July-September GDP figures and said its economy had grown by 4.9 per cent – the same as last year and only marginally below the expected 5.2 per cent.

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Adani, Piramal among bidders for bankrupt DHFL

In November last year, the Reserve Bank of India referred DHFL for bankruptcy under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

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Mumbai, Oct 18 : Adani Group, Piramal Enterprises, US-based Oaktree and Hong Kong-headquartered SC Lowy have submitted their bids for the insolvent Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL), sources said.

The deadline to submit bids for DHFL ended on Saturday.

According to sources, Adani Group has bid for the wholesale and slum rehabilitation authority portfolio. Piramal Enterprises, on the other hand, has bid for its retail business.

Further, Oaktree has submitted a resolution proposal for the entire company with a bid value of Rs 20,000 crore.

The admitted debt of the insolvent NBFC is over Rs 90,000 crore.

In November last year, the Reserve Bank of India referred DHFL for bankruptcy under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). Its resolution is now underway at the Mumbai bench of NCLT.

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Weak institutional participation leading to consolidation of equity markets

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Mumbai, Oct 18 : Weak institutional investment from domestic institutional investors (DII) and foreign portfolio investors (FPI) since September have led the Indian equity markets into a consolidation phase, according to a report by ICICI Securities.

The report noted that the sharp bounce back by the market after the lows in March was in anticipation of normalising economic activity, which has shown up in terms of high frequency data in September including PMI, GST collection, electricity demand, improving exports, wholesale auto sales.

“Institutional flows both from DIIs and FPI’s have turned weak since Sep as sharp upside in stocks since March lows turns equity valuations expensive. Weak institutional participation is resulting in a consolidation phase for equity markets currently,” it said.

It noted that current market behaviour of muted flows by institutional investors and the resultant consolidation in stock prices imply economic activity may plateau going forward after normalising to pre-Covid levels.

Expecting economic activity to rise beyond pre-Covid level without large fiscal and monetary stimulus would be erroneous as aggregate demand in the economy was already weak before the impact of the pandemic, it said.

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