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Undeterred by Covid-19, govt goes ahead with PSU banks merger

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New Delhi, March 28 : The government is going ahead with the plan to consolidate public sector banks, undeterred by the spread of Covid-19 that has disrupted business across the country, including banking operations.

Accordingly, the amalgamation of the Oriental Bank of Commerce and the United Bank of India with the Punjab National Bank; the Syndicate Bank into the Canara Bank; the Andhra Bank and the Corporation Bank into the Union Bank of India; and of the Allahabad Bank into the Indian Bank is being completed on schedule and will be effective from April 1.

In a press release on Saturday, the Reserve Bank of India said that branches of Allahabad Bank will operate as branches of Indian Bank from April 1, 2020. Similarly, branches of Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank will operate as branches of Union Bank of India from the appointed date.

All customers, including depositors of amalgamating banks, will automatically be transferred to the principal bank under the merger process, the RBI said.

The Narendra Modi-led government had announced the mega merger in August last year. Earlier this month the cabinet gave its approval for the mergers that will consolidate operations of 10 public sector banks (PSBs) into four ‘mega banks’.

Though the other two merger schemes involving the amalgamation of the Oriental Bank of Commerce and the United Bank of India with the Punjab National Bank and that of the Syndicate Bank into the Canara Bank are getting implemented from next month, the RBI did not offer information on its progress.

It was widely expected that the government may defer the consolidation exercise for some time due to the Covid-19 related disruptions. But as all banks involved in the process are government entities and there is no immediate plan to restructure branches or move employees, it was felt the process could go ahead unhindered. There would only be a change of name for a few banks but all will remain under the PSU tag.

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ABVP man clones currency with Godse image

In the same post, Shukla has addressed Nathuram Godse as Mahatma and Pujya Pandit Nathuram Godse Amar Rahein (Long Live Nathuram Godse).

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Nathuram Vinayak Godse

Bhopal, May 25 : A man from Sidhi district, claiming to be a member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) – student outfit of the BJP – has cloned a Rs 10 currency note replacing Mahatma Gandhi’s image with that of his assassin Nathuram Godse.

The activist who identified himself as Shivam Shukla while uploading the post on Facebook hailed his hero: “Long Live Nathuram Godse” to mark his 111th birth anniversary on May 19.

Police have sought to track him down with the help of cyber experts to take action into the matter.

The shocking incident was revealed two days after the saffron outfit Hindu Mahasabha celebrated the 111th birth anniversary of Godse by garlanding his portrait and lighting up diyas around the portrait at the Mahasabha’s office in Gwalior.

Congress’ student wing, National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), has filed a complaint against Shukla on the incident.

ABVP also filed a complaint against the NSUI for “falsely dragging the name of ABVP” into the issue.

Shukla has even changed Mahatma Gandhi’s famous couplet to praise Gandhi’s assassin. Shukla wrote, “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, desh bacha gaye Nathuram (Nathuram saved the country).

In the same post, Shukla has addressed Nathuram Godse as Mahatma and Pujya Pandit Nathuram Godse Amar Rahein (Long Live Nathuram Godse).

Sidhi district police superintendent RS Belvanshi said, “A complaint was submitted to Sidhi Kotwali. The cyber cell of district police has been tasked with investigating the matter. Action will be taken in the matter once the inquiry is completed. “

“Our teams went to Shivam Shukla’s house on Friday, but he remains untraceable,” Belvanshi said.

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ITC to acquire spice manufacturer Sunrise Foods Pvt Ltd

It also noted that ITC’s Aashirvaad range of spices is already a market leader in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

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Sunrise Foods ITC Ltd

New Delhi, May 24 : ITC Ltd has entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire 100 per cent of the equity share capital of Sunrise Foods Private Ltd (SFPL), a company primarily engaged in the business of spices.

In a regulatory filing, ITC said that the proposed acquisition will augment its product portfolio and is aligned to the company’s aspiration to significantly scale up its spices business and expand its footprint across the country.

“ITC Ltd has entered into a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) on May 23, 2020 to acquire 100 per cent of the equity share capital of Sunrise Foods Private Limited (SFPL), a company primarily engaged in the business of spices under the trademark ‘Sunrise’, subject to fulfilment of various terms and conditions as specified in the SPA,” it said.

It also noted that ITC’s Aashirvaad range of spices is already a market leader in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

The deep consumer connect and distribution strength of SFPL in the focus markets, together with synergies arising out of the sourcing and supply chain capabilities of ITC’s agri business and its pan-India distribution network, will provide significant value creation opportunities for the company, it said.

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No GST exemption to help businesses fight Covid-19 disruptions

The issue for GST exemption has surfaced particularly with respect to items needed in the fight against the pandemic: Ventilators, personal protection equipment (PPE), Covid-19 test kits, sanitisers, etc.

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GST Collection Down

New Delhi, May 23 : The Finance Ministry has ruled out GST waiver or deference to businesses as part of the economic relief package to help them cope with the situation arising in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant nationwide lockdown.

In discussions within the ministry, it has been said that Goods and Sales Tax exemption or deferral is not required as it would not given any benefit to industry but seriously impact the revenues of both the states and the Centre.

With the Centre announcing a mega relief package of Rs 20 lakh crore as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, there have been oft-repeated demands for the GST wavier, this time for a period of six months. The argument given is that GST exemption would lead to revival of demand due to reduction in prices and hence benefit in the fight against Covid-19.

The government has provided exemption and moratorium on payment of various taxes and debt as part of the package.

Contrary to what is being suggested, government sources said on the condition of anonymity that GST exemption would seriously jeopardise the industry’s interests and not result in any significant gains to consumers.

Therefore, there is no point to exempt businesses from this tax that would lead to blocked input tax credit (ITC), resulting in increase in manufacturing cost and a higher price for consumers.

“Hopefully, the Centre is not considering the demand. Exemption of GST on the final product is never a good idea. It distorts the value chain. It does not necessary lead to reduction in prices. In fact, it adversely impacts domestic industry,” Najib Shah, former chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), told IANS.

The issue for GST exemption has surfaced particularly with respect to items needed in the fight against the pandemic: Ventilators, personal protection equipment (PPE), Covid-19 test kits, sanitisers, etc.

At present, the liability of the inputs “be it 5% or 12% or 18%” is more than offset when discharging the 5% or 12% GST liability on PPE or ventilator, the entire liability being ‘paid’ by the credit of taxes accumulated at the earlier stages of manufacture.

If GST is exempted, this credit facility will be unavailable, leading to higher final price of the equipment.

In the past also, when the GST exemption on sanitary napkin was allowed, it led to similar hardship for domestic manufacturers of sanitary napkins. Later, domestic industry complained of adversity.

It is also equally important to keep in mind that GST waiver provides much larger incentive for imports because imports do not come with any baggage of input side taxes compared with the domestic supply.

GST provides a level playing field to domestic industry vis-a-vis the imports.

Illustratively, waiver of tax on a mobile would mean that domestically produced mobile phone has suffered the taxes on its inputs, while the imported mobile phone does not. Hence, imported mobile would be cheaper, making the domestic one non-competitive.

“Any decision to review the GST rates cannot be taken unilaterally by the central government. It is the recommendation of the GST Council that prevails in respect of GST rates. With the situation of dire economic crises and states requiring resources more than ever to deal with the post Covid-19 pandemic situation, the Council may not have comfort of this option. It is an option that causes hardship to the businesses and the state finances, while providing virtually no relief to customer in the first place.”

States GST revenue may see steep fall of 80-90 per cent in April, the first full month of lockdown that saw business and economic activity coming to a standstill.

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