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Finance Ministry to ensure timely refund of GST dues to exporters

Sep 25, 2017

The Finance Ministry on Friday said it was working to ensure timely refund of taxes for exporters under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, even if it has to intervene manually.
 
The GST Network application for refund is getting ready. But in the meantime, we are also finding other ways of giving refund, if necessary through a manual procedure, it said in a statement.
 
The government is looking to find a way to give refunds by linking GSTR 1 with GSTR 3B forms. Exporters who have not yet filed form GSTR 1 for July 2017 may be advised to file it immediately and not wait till the deadline, it said.
 
But to give immediate relief to exporters, the government has also asked tax officials of the States and the Centre to expeditiously clear the pre-GST refund claims of Central excise and value-added tax.
 
Working capital woes
The Finance Ministry also refuted concerns that a large part of the working capital of exporters had been blocked under the GST due to delay in refunds.
 
For 66 per cent of the value of exports, exporters have preferred the duty drawback scheme instead of taking actual refund of input taxes in the pre-GST regime. There is no blockage of funds for these exports, said the Ministry.
 
It added that the remaining 33 per cent of exporters have always preferred a normal refund route for taxes paid on inputs for Central Excise value added tax, which was given only after the actual exports took place.
 
There was a normal blockage of funds for a period of five to six months at least — except for those using (the) facility of advance authorisation, it said.
 
The Ministry stressed that the Committee on Exports led by Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia met exporters from eight sectors earlier this week to discuss ways to address their problems under GST.
 
The meeting of the GST Council has also been advanced to October 6 to work out more measures for exporters.
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



Time to revive growth, investment, exports: CEA

Sep 25, 2017

Arvind Subramanian, whose term as Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) has been extended by a year, on Saturday said the economy was going through some transitional issues and the government was working towards reviving growth.
 
We do have some transitional issues that we are working through, we will have to see how the economy can overcome these challenges, Subramanian said.
 
We have to revive growth, investment, exports. As Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, in days ahead, you will know what the government is planning to do, he said.
 
Srubramanian, whose term was due to end on October 16, has been given an extension of one year, the government said on Saturday.
 
Delighted to take on the challenges. The government is working on multiple fronts, the CEA said after the extension was announced. 
 
The Finance Minister had on Friday said that the government was fully prepared for a "responsive action" to give a boost to the economy as the GDP numbers in the first quarter dipped to a low of 5.7 per cent. 
 
We have taken note of all the economic indicators that are available. This has been a proactive government on the reforms agenda. Over the last two days, I have had a series of discussions with ministerial colleagues and various secretaries. The government will take additional measures in the coming days after consulting the Prime Minister, he had said.
 
On September 19, Jaitley had chaired a high-level meeting to review the economic situation and discuss measures, including a possible stimulus package for the economy.
    
Source: SME Time



Agriculture profit can increase via planning, diversification: ICAR DG

Sep 25, 2017

Farmers should diversify, go in for crop planning and shift to newer and better produce to maximise profit in agriculture, ICAR Director General Trilochan Mohapatra has said. 
 
Mohapatra cited the case of farmers in Gujarat who had shown how better crop planning and diversification have led to increased profits. 
 
He was speaking at the release of a book authored by Bibhuti Bhushan Bareek, former director of Baikunth Mehta National Institute of Cooperative Management, here yesterday. 
 
The key to maximising profit in agriculture, according to Mohapatra, is crop planning, diversification and switch to newer and better produce. 
 
The Union government is keen to help double farmers' income by 2022. This is possible if farmers opt for diversity and crop planning in a scientific manner, he stressed. 
 
 
The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) director general (DG) said the survey in the book proved that the kisan credit card scheme has benefited farmers. Agriculture scientists should motivate cultivators to adopt better techniques, practices and link their activities with marketing networks and storage facilities available. 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Ahead of polls, Gujarat's Diwali gift to groundnut farmers

Sep 25, 2017

 
State to procure groundnut at Rs. 900/20kg against market price of Rs. 650
 
The Gujarat government on Sunday announced procurement of groundnut at a rate of Rs. 900 per 20 kg as against the prevailing market price of Rs. 600-650 per 20kg, as a bid to woo farmers ahead of the state assembly polls later this year.
 
The procurement will take place through centers by Nafed, Gujarat Cooperative Oilseeds Growers' Federation Ltd (Grofed) and Gujcomasol centers.
 
At a hurriedly convened press meet on Sunday, the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani made the announcement stating that the move will benefit farmers at a time, when the state is likely to have robust kharif groundnut crop. The procurement will begin from October 25, also marked as labh panchami (the auspicious fifth day after Diwali). The move is likely to put additional burden of Rs. 500 crore.
 
The state has witnessed 100 per cent rainfall this year. As a result, there was robust sowing of kharif crops such as groundnut, urad, tur and cotton. In the situation of higher crop, farmers don't have to incur loss due to lower prices. The state government has decided to procure groundnut at Rs. 900 per 20 kg from 106 centers after Diwali, said Rupani. The registration of farmers will happen online and farmers will be informed through an SMS to avoid middle-men involvement.
 
Notably, the announcement came right ahead of the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's three-day visit to Gujarat starting from Monday. Interestingly, Gandhi is scheduled to tour four districts of Saurashtra region - considered as the groundnut heartland.
 
The arrivals of kharif groundnut will only start around Diwali. The State has registered groundnut sowing on about 16.15 lakh hectares, which is about 16 per cent higher than the normal sowing of 13.87 lakh hectares.
 
The Chief Minister also informed that this year, groundnut output is expected to touch 32 lakh tonnes. For the year 2016-17, the state had procured 2.1 lakh tonnes of groundnut worth Rs. 889.29 crore thereby giving additional price benefit of Rs. 175.24 to the groundnut farmers.
 
Rupani added that State government will also procure other crops such as tur, urad and cotton in the event of higher production. Tur production is estimated at 3.21 lakh tonnes, moong (green gram) and urad (black gram) output is expected to be 64,000 tonnes and 83,000 tonnes respectively. While cotton production is estimated to be 73.60 lakh bales (each of 170 kg).
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



Paperless agri-commodity trading to be launched next week

Sep 25, 2017

 
Paperless trading of agricultural commodities will soon become a reality. Come Tuesday, the Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) will set in motion the process of issuing electronic negotiable warehousing receipts (eNWR).
 
Apart from launching its portal, which would help warehouses to register with it online, the WDRA will issue registration certificates to two entities that have been selected to run commodity repositories.
 
These two repositories will be responsible for maintaining the entire lifecycle of eNWR from creation to withdrawal, said WDRA member Petluri Srinivas.
 
Upon registration, these repositories — run by the NSE-backed National Commodity and Derivative Exchange (NCDEX) and BSE-promoted Central Depository Services (India) Limited (CDSL) — can commence enrolling WDRA-registered warehouses for issuing eNWRs.
 
WDRA would pass on the list of warehouses registered so far with it to these two bodies, who would get them to open an account so that they can issue the eNWRs to their customers, Srinivas said.
 
As on June 30, as many as 1,436 warehouses across the country had registered with WDRA.
 
Helping farmers
 
The eNWR is expected to go a long way in helping farmers not only get better prices for their produce by selling in any market in the country, but also aid them in raising cheaper finance to meet their requirements.
 
If any warehouse wants to issue eNWR, they have to register with any one of the repositories, said an official who works with a repository. These eNWRs are just like currency, farmers can sell them or pledge them to raise a loan, he said.
 
It would be a game-changer for farmers. Once their commodities are dematerialised, banks and other financial institutions will be very happy to give them loans. In other words, they would have easier access to institutional farm loans, at lower rates, the official said.
 
The eNWRs have distinct advantages over the paper-based receipts. They allow farmers or depositors to have access to a large number of buyers across the country and thus would increase their bargaining power. They can do multiple transfers without physical movement of goods.
 
Moreover, farmers don’t even have to cart their produce to the market for selling. Once sold, the buyer would be able to pick up the purchased commodity from where it has been stored.
 
Even consumers of these agricultural commodities such as industries, processors, wholesalers and retailers benefit as they will be able to procure graded produce with a seal of quality assurance, the official said.
 
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



Joint panel formed to boost India, S. Korea trade, investments

Sep 25, 2017

Seeking greater economic cooperation with South Korea, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu today said a joint panel has been set up to identify areas of high-end technological components to boost trade and investments between the two countries.
 
The Minister was in Korea for Asia-Europe (ASEM) Economic Ministers meeting. He also participated in the third Joint Ministerial Review of the India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
 
In a series of tweets, Prabhu said huge untapped potential exists in both the countries to strengthen strategic partnership.
 
Let us set ourselves quantitative targets for bilateral trade to drive the negotiations more purposefully. I invite a full business delegation from South Korea to India, he said.
 
Prabhu said a joint strategy group with a mission to identify areas of high-end technological components has been set up.
 
The bilateral trade in 2016-17 increased to $16.82 billion from $16.57 billion in the previous fiscal.
 
Both the countries are negotiating to review the existing free trade agreement, officially dubbed CEPA, to enhance trade and investments.
 
Unless businesses across both countries partner, full benefit of any bilateral agreement is not materialised. Let us build partnership on ‘leapfrog’ technologies, he added.
 
Prabhu added that India would be a $5 trillion economy in next 7-10 years and it would happen on strength of the country’s relationships with countries like South Korea.
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



India, Indonesia trade ministers to meet on Monday

Sep 25, 2017

 
A spurt in the import of gold from Indonesia and an increase in import duty on crude palm oil by India are likely to be the key topics of discussion when Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu meets his Indonesian counterpart Enggartiasto Lukita here on Monday.
 
India is worried about the sharp increase in gold imports from Indonesia over the past two-and-a-half months following the implementation of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) regime, and is considering possible curbs. Indonesia, however, would not want its free trade agreement (FTA) with India to be tampered with. A solution to the problem may be discussed by the two Ministers, a government official told BusinessLine.
 
Import of gold at nil customs duties from India’s FTA partner countries (a customs duty of 10 per cent is imposed on other countries), primarily South Korea and Indonesia, turned into a big problem for India from July, when the 12.5 per cent excise duty imposed on imports was replaced with a 3 per cent GST.
 
New Delhi was forced to impose import restrictions on South Korea despite the FTA as it could show that most of the gold coming in from that country was actually originating from Dubai, which is not allowed under an FTA.
 
However, curbing imports from Indonesia will be difficult, as the country mines its own gold. With a steep increase in gold import from Indonesia, there is an urgent need to take some action. The two countries could discuss the matter and reach an amicable solution, the official said.
 
Indonesia is also concerned about India’s decision to double the import duty on crude palm oil to 15 per cent from 7.5 per cent earlier this year. Crude palm oil is its primary export to India. Lukita had raised the matter last month with Union Minister for Processed Food, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, asking for a re-look.
 
We expect the Indonesian Minister to press for a lowering of duty on import of crude palm oil. However, it may be difficult to give him any definite assurance, the official said.
 
Other areas that may be touched upon by the two Ministers include the ongoing negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which is moving towards conclusion, and the WTO ministerial meet in Buenos Aires in December.
 
India and Indonesia have common interests at the WTO as both want to protect the interests of their vulnerable farming community by continuing to fund public procurement programmes, the official said.
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



Suresh Prabhu reiterates India's commitment to promote free, fair world trade

Sep 25, 2017

Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu has reiterated India's commitment to promoting free and fair world trade, while emphasising the challenges that lay ahead in ensuring it as embodied in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 
 
 
Prabhu is on a visit to South Korea from September 21-23 to participate in the seventh Asia-Europe Economic Ministers (ASEM) meeting and the third joint ministerial review of the India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). 
 
 
He commended ASEM for addressing global issues of common interest in the spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership and also underlined the emergence of India as one of the world's leading investment destination, a statement from the Commerce Ministry said on Saturday. 
 
On the sidelines of this meeting, the Commerce and Industry Minister had productive meetings with the Minister of State for Economy and Finance of France, Benjamin Griveaux; State Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries of Norway, Dilek Ayhan; State Secretary for Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Susanne Hyldelund, and the DG of the Ministry of Industry and Economy of Spain, Jose Louis Kaiser Moreiras. 
 
Prabhu also met the Chairman of Korea's ruling Democratic Party, Choo Mi-ae and discussed the rapid progress in bilateral ties. 
 
Choo highlighted the importance attached by South Korea President Moon Jae-in to the bilateral relationship with India and his commitment to elevate it to the next level. 
 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Jute bag prices: Kolkata High Court sets aside Tariff Commission’s interim report

Sep 25, 2017

 
The beleaguered jute industry can heave a sigh of relief with the Kolkata High Court striking down the interim report of Tariff Commission on jute bag prices.
 
The commission’s interim report suggested bringing down jute bag prices by nearly Rs.3,000 a tonne. The current government price is around Rs.67,000.
 
The jute industry supplies nearly 9-lakh tonnes (lt) of ‘580 gm 50 kg’ capacity jute bags, valued at approximately Rs.6,500 crore, to the government for packaging foodgrains, in a year.
 
According to Manish Poddar, Chairman, Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA), the High Court had to strike down the report as it was an incomplete one.
 
The report was incomplete as it was based on the data collected for four months. Moreover, the procedure adopted in formulation of the report has not taken into consideration the actual performance of mills, Poddar told BusinessLine.
 
The commission has been given an additional six months’ time to study one year data from April 2016 to March 2017, before arriving at its pricing formula, he said. The data required for the study will have to be submitted by the Jute Commissioner within six weeks.
 
The Jute Commissioner has also been directed to declare the provisional price of jute textiles for a period of six months from September 2017 onwards by following the methodology of fixation of price of 580 gms B-Twill jute bags on the basis of recommendation of price adopted for September last year.
 
According to industry sources, the procedure adopted in formulation of the productivity norms for Type ‘A’ and Type ‘B’. B-Twill bags were based on the average of the top quartile individual parameters. However, in practice, it is difficult to find a single mill achieving all the individual parameters.
 
So the industry was of the view that the pricing of bags should not be based on such benchmark values and actual performance of mills and their norms should be considered while arriving at the correct price.
 
Lighter bags
Between 2013 and 2016 the government set up two pricing committees. During this period, jute bag specifications were also changed from heavy bags of 665 grams to light bags of 580 grams.
 
This was done so that the government could get a price advantage due to lighter bags, while also benefiting the industry due to lower requirement of raw jute for manufacturing the bags.
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



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