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State finances show worrying trend: Report

Total taxes collected by 17 states grew 15.8 per cent YoY in Aug’19, marking their fastest growth in eight months, as per the report.

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New Delhi, Oct 17 : Reflecting slowdown in the economy, monthly finances of 17 state governments show worrying trend with total receipts growing only 4.1 per cent in the first five months of the current fiscal, compared to same period a year ago.

“For the first five months of FY20, while capital expenditure grew only 0.6 per cent year-on-year, core revenue spending (excluding interest payments) grew 7.6 per cent YoY. Thus, total spending of states grew at a nine-year low of 5.8 per cent in Apr-Aug’19,” brokerage firm Motilal Oswal said in a report.

Total taxes collected by 17 states grew 15.8 per cent YoY in Aug’19, marking their fastest growth in eight months, as per the report.

“In fact, states’ taxes have been volatile in FY20; taxes declined for the first time in 14 months in May’19 (-10.6 per cent), then grew slightly in Jun’19 (+3.6 per cent) before declining sharply again in Jul’19 (-12.1 per cent),” the brokerage said.

The cumulative data for the first five months of FY20, however, does not show encouraging signs. Tax receipts of 17 states grew only 1.4 per cent YoY in Apr-Aug’19. But as a result of faster growth in grants-in-aid from the Centre, states’ total receipts grew 4.1 per cent YoY during the period.

There are, however, striking divergences among the states. West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Haryana saw more than 20 per cent growth in total receipts, while Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh saw sharp declines in Apr-Aug’19.

“Although states’ receipts and spending were subdued in the first five months of FY20, higher growth in spending (in YoY terms) has led to higher fiscal deficit in FY20 year to date,” the brokerage said.

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PSUs may pick stake in merged PFC-REC entity to keep 51% govt holding

Another option may be to get the LIC and one of the power sector PSUs to pick up 5 per cent each in the merged entity.

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PFC Merger

New Delhi, Feb 19 : State-run financial institutions or public sector enterprises such as LIC, NTPC, NHPC may pick up a stake in the Power Finance Corporation (PFC) to prevent government shareholding in the power sector financier from falling below the threshold 51 per cent level post merger with the REC.

The PFC, which bought 52.63 per cent of government equity in REC last March, is looking to merge the entity with itself. However, the exercise has been delayed by a year for want of viable options.

As per current regulations, 51 per cent government holding is needed to maintain the PSU character of an organisation. Post the PFC-REC merger, the government shareholding in the merged entity is expected to fall to about 42-43 per cent taking the company outside the PSUs fold.

“Various options are being looked at by Deloitte which has been appointed as a consultant to see through the completion of the merger. The option before it is to extinguish or reduce the liability on any of its (government) shares in respect of capital not paid up or cancelling any paid up capital that is lost or unrepresented by available assets. But, equity dilution in favour of another PSU would also work well as it will keep direct and indirect holding of government above 51 per cent level in merged entity,” said a government official privy to the development.

Under the plan, power sector companies may be permitted to pick up to 10 per cent equity in the new entity created after REC merges with PFC. Companies such as NTPC, NHPC, or the PowerGrid Corporation may be the likely candidates for this investment.

Sources also said that government may also consider going in for investment by the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) in the merged entity to maintain the PSU character of PFC.

Another option may be to get the LIC and one of the power sector PSUs to pick up 5 per cent each in the merged entity.

In March 2019, the PFC acquired government’s 52.63 percent stake, or 104 crore shares, in another state-owned power financier REC at Rs 139.5 a piece, along with the transfer of management control. The cost of acquisition was Rs 14,500 crore.

PFC Chairman and Managing Director Rajeev Sharma had then said the PFC-REC merger would be next on the agenda and the process would be started in ongoing fiscal year. But with complications arising over government shareholding, the process has got delayed and merger may now be completed in the first quarter of next financial year (FY21).

The merger of two largest state-owned power sector financiers will create a common platform for lending to the sector. The PFC will benefit from the exercise as it would get access to the wide geographical reach of the REC and will also be able to leverage the expertise of REC in distribution and transmission.

The REC, on the other hand, will be able to leverage the expertise of PFC in the power generation space.

The merger will also facilitate resolution of stressed assets as the entity would be equipped with a wider pool of information.

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Wishful thinking to target $5 tn economy by 2025: Manmohan

Pathways can emerge only through solid dialogue and discussions on the challenges of taking the country forward, he added.

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Manmohan singh

New Delhi, Feb 19 : Lashing out at the government for its lack of focus, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday termed the Centre’s hopes of turning India into a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25 as “wishful thinking”.

“Today the government does not want to acknowledge the word slowdown. This is not a good sign,” he said after releasing “Backstage – The Story Behind India’s High Growth Years” by former Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

“In such a scenario, raising India to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25 is wishful thinking”, he said.

Pathways can emerge only through solid dialogue and discussions on the challenges of taking the country forward, he added.

At the same time, he expressed the hope that there will be a debate for carrying forward the economic reforms innitiated.

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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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