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Strict scrutiny of Chinese imports affects industries

“There was refusal to clear, followed by delays. And now, about 100 per cent examination. The logistics of seamless movement is in total disarray,” ICEA Chairman Pankaj Mohindroo wrote to the Finance Minister.

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New Delhi, June 28 : With the Centre taking a tough stand on imports from China amid the border tensions, several industries that depended on inputs from that country are facing delay in getting their supplies as the goods are held up at ports and airports and are being subjected to stricter Customs scrutiny.

Several industry bodies, from apparel to electronics, have written to the government urging faster Customs clearance as delays might affect the manufacturing process.

Citing the gravity of situation, in a letter to Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) Chairman M. Ajit Kumar, the Apparel Exporters Promotion Councils said the delay in clearances of goods was adding to the crisis for the industry that was gearing up to get back to the normal after easing of lockdown in India and other countries.

The delay was impacting operations and might cause further financial losses, it said.

“Lately, Customs authorities at several ports are doing 100 per cent examination of goods originating from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It has created undue delay in clearance of imported inputs meant for production of garments for exports,” AEPC Chairman A. Sakthivel wrote.

In a letter dated June 23, the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) said the ”adverse” action by the Customs would impact over 200 mobile and electronic manufacturing units, set up following the ”Make in India”, ”Digital India” and ”Phased Manufacturing Programme” initiatives.

“There was refusal to clear, followed by delays. And now, about 100 per cent examination. The logistics of seamless movement is in total disarray,” ICEA Chairman Pankaj Mohindroo wrote to the Finance Minister.

Mohindroo said companies had received word from Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi airports about the new examination procedure for all China-origin consignment. The 100 per cent examination of only China-origin goods be stopped to help supply chain move without hurdles, he urged the Finance Minister.

MAIT, industry body representing the information and communications technology sector, feels importers with ”authorized economic operator” (AEO) status should be excluded from such rigorous scrutiny.

“We understand the step of thorough inspection of containers was being taken to safeguard India”s interests. In such a case, as an industry we suggest importers with AEO status, also called Green Chanel Importers, be excluded from it as they are GOI-validated entities. As citizens of India, we will stand by decisions the government may deem fit to take,” said George Paul, CEO, MAIT.

As the call grows for lowering dependence on Chinese imports and becoming self-reliant, experts and industry players have cautioned against knee-jerk reaction and sought building of adequate infrastructure and supply chain in the country.

The impact of such action at the moment might be severe as industries were reeling under financial crisis post-lockdown, experts said.

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WhatsApp rolls out first-ever global brand campaign in India

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New Delhi, July 4 : WhatsApp on Saturday launched its first brand campaign in India that narrates real stories about how Indians communicate daily on WhatsApp with their closest relationships.

The campaign called ”It”s Between You” gives thrust on WhatsApp”s commitment to privacy, the company said in a statement.

“With WhatsApp”s end-to-end encryption, we come closest to replicating real-life interactions and that”s when we can truly be ourselves. The conversations you have, the jokes you tell and the memories you relive belong to you and deserve to stay between you,” said Avinash Pant, Director, Marketing at Facebook India.

WhatsApp collaborated with Gauri Shinde, a celebrated Indian Bollywood director along with BBDO India to create two 60-seconds ads, each highlighting how WhatsApp”s features like texts, video calls or even a voice message, help replicate in-person conversations and bring people closer.

One ad is based on a true story about an elderly woman and her caregiver, who are now separated from each other.

“From how to bring together the cast and crew that were right for the part and happened to be living together, and directing over a WhatsApp video call, to doing all the post production work without being physically present, it”s been really rewarding,” said Shinde.

The second story is at the other end of the spectrum of emotion, which is a light and fun film about a younger sister giving joyful courage to her elder one through a WhatsApp video call, when the latter feels vulnerable and hesitant to give her a haircut at home.

“WhatsApp is designed to help friends and family communicate as well as help users connect with a business that is important to them,” said the company.

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Govt to levy interest on late payment to MSMEs for GeM purchase

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Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi, July 3 : Government departments and agencies will have to pay interest on late payment to vendors, largely MSMEs, for products procured through the Government e-Martketplace (GeM), starting October 1.

Through an office memorandum, the Department of Expenditure of the Ministry of Finance on Friday said that if the payment is not made within 10 days of the Consignee Receipt and Acceptance Certificate (CRAC) being auto generated or issued by the buyer, the concerned department will have to pay interest at the rate of one per cent per month for the delayed payment.

However, this very interest will not go to the MSMEs concerned and instead, will deposited in an account maintained by the GeM, which will be used only for the education of buyers and sellers or public procurement with the prior approval of the Department of Expenditure, said the office memorandum.

“ln order to promote greater discipline and timeliness in payment to vendors, especially #MSMEs, the government has issued an order to levy interest on late payment to vendors on the government e-marketplace. #AatmaNirbharBharat,” said a tweet by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman”s office.

The order will be effective on orders made from October 1, 2020.

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Tomato prices skyrocket to Rs 70/kg in Delhi-NCR

He attributed the hike in the prices of all vegetables and fruits, not only tomatoes, due to the increase in diesel prices, which led to an increase in the transportation cost of vegetables.

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New Delhi, July 3 : With the onset of the monsoon tomato prices soared to Rs 70 per kg in New Delhi and its surrounding areas on Friday.

Crop failure in the rainy season and the late arrival of tomatoes in the mandis (wholesale markets) have led to the price hike. However, the prices are expected to fall after the arrival of the new crop from Himachal Pradesh next week.

A month ago, the price of tomatoes in Delhi’s Azadpur mandi was between Rs 1.25 and Rs 4.75 per kg, while the wholesale price on Friday was Rs 6.44 per kg.

The model rate of tomato was Rs 3 per kg in Azadpur mandi on June 3, which has increased by 10 times to Rs 29 per kg. On July 2, the wholesale price of tomatoes rose to Rs 52 per kg in the mandi, which means there has been an increase of about 995% in the last one month. Due to the rise in wholesale prices, tomatoes were sold at Rs 80 per kg on Thursday in Delhi-NCR and Rs 50.70 per kg in Greater Noida.

Azadpur Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) chairman Adil Ahmad Khan said prices have gone up due to late arrival of tomatoes. The quantity of tomatoes received at Azadpur mandi was 528.2 tonne on June 3 while on July 3 it was 281.6 tonne. The quantity has thus been reduced by nearly 50 per cent in a month. Only 241.9 tonne were received on July 2 due to which the wholesale price was Rs 6.52 per kg while the model rate was Rs 32 per kg, Khan added.

He attributed the hike in the prices of all vegetables and fruits, not only tomatoes, due to the increase in diesel prices, which led to an increase in the transportation cost of vegetables.

From next week, the arrival of the new crop from Himachal Pradesh will lead to a decline in the prices of tomatoes. He said at present 90 per cent of the tomatoes in Delhi arrive from Himachal Pradesh while only 10 per cent are received from Haryana and Karnataka.

The consumption of all green vegetables, tomatoes and onions has declined during the past few months because of the shutdown of hotels, restaurants, canteens and dhabas following the nationwide lockdown in the wake of the corona pandemic. This led to a marked fall in prices. The wholesale price of tomatoes had come down to less than one rupee per kg.

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