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Target to raise tea exports by 22% in 3 yrs might be difficult: Here's why

Aug 18, 2017

While the official target is to raise tea exports by 22 per cent in the next three years, to 270 million kg (mkg), producers and exporters face two major challenges.
 
First, the production of orthodox tea variety, rising in demand, is stagnating. Second, Kenya and Sri Lanka have eaten into the primary markets India is targeting.
 
Industry sources said the Tea Board of India and exporters have identified seven countries or regions where exports can be raised to meet the target. These are Kazakhstan, Russia, USA, China, Iran, Egypt and Latin America — termed KRUCIEL. These currently account for 53 per cent of the annual tea trade, pegged at 222.5 mkg.
 
India majorly focuses on the crush, tear, curl (CTC) variant of tea, estimated to account for nearly 80 per cent of the export volume. However, the Tea Board, after realising that global tastes are changing in favour of the orthodox tea variety, has been asking producers to opt for more of this variant, providing a special subsidy.
 
This subsidy needs to be increased. The production cost of orthodox tea is much higher and the Rs 2 subsidy per kg needs to be made Rs 20 at least, to encourage tea estates to shift to orthodox production, says Azam Monem, chairman of the Indian Tea Association, the trade body of producers.
 
Estimates suggest orthodox tea production, on an average, is costlier by Rs 20 a kg than the CTC variant. "The small growers who now account for 45 per cent of the total volume of production, all produce CTC. So, the responsibility to produce orthodox tea will fall on the estates," an estate owner said.
 
Nevertheless, over the years, India has also lost its CTC market heavily to Kenya. And, Sri Lanka, which markets the Ceylon tea brand, has also been able to aggressively tap these markets.
 
During the ban on CTC in the mid-1980's, blenders changed the tea blend to Kenyan CTC and, thus, India lost out to Africa heavily. Once blenders change the blend, it is very tough to revert to an older blend, says a senior industry official.
 
During 2011-2017, Kenyan tea export surged 14 per cent to 480.3 mkg, while Indian export was up four per cent to 222.5 mkg in 2016.
 
While India focused on CTC, Sri Lanka, despite losing 25 per cent of its acreage from the past, was able to hold on to the orthodox consuming markets. Most of this tea directly competes with Indian Assam and Darjeeling orthodoxes in Russia, Iran, West Asia and Germany — all traditional Indian strongholds.
 
It is evident that Sri Lanka has been successful in not only eating into traditional Indian orthodox tea strongholds but have been able to hold their grasp on this sector, despite losing cultivable area, said S S Bagaria, former chairman of the Darjeeling Tea Association.
 
Industry officials say the success of Ceylon tea can be attributed to Sri Lanka's adequate budgetary allocation for promotion in export markets, while India has lagged. Tea Board sources say on an average, the body is left with Rs 20-25 crore for promotions in key export markets, severely short of what is required. Industry sources say even a short advertising campaign in Russia cannot be conducted with the allotted sum.
 
Industry associations are now keen to partner with the Tea Board for export promotion but want the orthodox subsidy to be hiked considerably for the push.
    
Source: Business Standard



Exports to Nepal: Refund of IGST permissible

Aug 18, 2017

I have an issue related to export of goods to Nepal. We purchase goods from Delhi and sell in India as well as in Nepal. Earlier when GST was not implemented, there was no VAT/other tax applicable when we used to sell our goods to Nepal. But after July 1 with the GST implementation, what is the applicability of taxes? Is IGST applicable on goods sold to Nepal? Is benefit of Para No. 2.52 (a) of FTP (2015-2020) available? If we charge IGST on goods sold in Nepal, is the refund for that IGST available? Can we claim ITC of GST (CGST + SGST) paid on purchase of goods? — ankit jain
The Central Board of Excise and Custom (Commercial Taxes Department) has issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with regard to export of goods. These were published in newspapers on August 2, 2017.  Question No. 3 of the said FAQ explains the procedure relating to export as under:-
The goods and services can be exported either on payment of IGST which can be claimed as refund after the goods have been exported, or under bond or Letter of Understanding (LUT) without payment of IGST.
In case of goods and services exported under bond or LUT, the exporter can claim refund of accumulated ITC on account of exports.
In case of goods, the shipping bill is the only document required to be filed with the Customs for making exports. Requirement of filing ARE 1/ARE 2 has been done away with.
 
The supplies made for export are to be made under self-sealing and self-certification without any intervention of the departmental officer.
 
The shipping bill filed with the Customs is treated as an application for refund of IGST and shall be deemed to have been filed after submission of export general manifest and furnishing of a valid return in Form GSTR-3 by the applicant.
 
Further, reply to question No. 8 wherein the issue with regard to export of goods to Nepal or Bhutan has been explained.  The relevant reply reads as under:-
 
n Export of goods to Nepal or Bhutan fulfils the condition of GST Law regarding taking goods out of India.  Hence, export of goods to Nepal or Bhutan will be treated as zero rated and consequently will also qualify for all the benefits available to zero rated supplies under the GST regime. However, the definition of ‘export of services’ in the GST Law requires that the payment for such services should have been received by the supplier of services in convertible foreign exchange.
 
The replies given in the FAQ cover all the points which you have raised with regard to exports to Nepal. It may be added that it has been explained in the said FAQ that there is no difference with regard to treatment to be followed under GST regime for export by a manufacturer or a merchant exporter.
 
My daughter has taken a postal life insurance policy of Rs 5 lakh in her name.  Its tenure is 13 years and premium is Rs 2,975 per month. The agent gave us the receipt for Rs 3,068 (Premium: Rs 2,975 and service tax @3%: Rs 93) Is service tax @ 3% admissible?  If yes, for how much period we have to pay it?   — baldev raj
Service tax is chargeable on the insurance premium payable by an assessee. You have to therefore make payment of premium along with the amount of service tax thereon.  Service tax or GST as the case would be payable as and when the premium is paid. The entire premium, including service tax, is allowable as deduction under Section 80C of the Income-tax Act 1961, (The Act).
 
My mother is 63 years old. She is retired from government service. Her total annual income (1-4-17 to 31-3-18) from pension + FD interest is Rs 6,72,000  (approx). My sister, 32, is unmarried and unemployed. She has no source of income. She has a PPF account in post office. If my mother deposits Rs 1 lakh in her PPF account, will she get rebate under Section 80C or not? — harpreet singh
 
According to the provisions of Section 80C of the Act, an individual assessee is entitled to claim deduction against his total income of an amount not exceeding Rs 1,50,000 paid or deposited in various schemes 
specified in the aforesaid section.  Sub-section (2) of the aforesaid section specifies various schemes. Clause (v) of the said Sub-section read with Sub-section (4) of the said section covers contribution to any provident fund set up by the Central Government and notified by it in this behalf in the Official Gazette, where such contribution is made to an account standing in the name of the individual, 
 
the wife or husband and any child of such individual. Therefore, your mother can deposit Rs 1,00,000 in the PPF account of her daughter and she will be 
 
entitled to claim the deduction in respect of the said amount against her income.
    
Source: Tribune India



Agri-marketing should be in the Concurrent List: Dalwai panel

Aug 18, 2017

A high-level committee appointed by the government has called for placing agricultural marketing in the Concurrent list and recommended greater private sector participation in agri-marketing and logistics.
 
The one-India market concept may benefit from placing agricultural marketing under the Concurrent List (in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution). While cultivation is limited to the land and area of farming operations, marketing has no boundaries and needs to operate on a pan-India level to meet demand across the country, said the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income, in a draft report partially released here this week.
 
While GST is a step in the right direction, a lot more needs to be done at the State level. This includes creation of better physical infrastructure, improved price information dissemination campaigns, and reform regulations that force farmers to sell their produce to local monopolies, said the report of the committee, headed by Ashok Dalwai, CEO of National Rainfed Area Authority.
 
It suggested that farmer producer and village producer organisations (FPO/VPO) could play a critical role in integrating small and marginal farmers into the agricultural market system.
 
The report set a minimum target of 7,000 FPOs/VPOs, each of which could cover 1,000 farmers and/or 1,000 hectares. The committee also called for amending the Companies Act to facilitate private sector shareholding in FPOs up to 26 per cent and incentivising them by treating them at par with cooperative societies.
 
Big ask
The committee estimated that the country would need about 10,000 wholesale and nearly 20,000 rural retail markets to achieve the desired market density to build a pan-India system.
 
The current agricultural marketing system in the country comprised of 2,284 Agricultural Produce marketing Committees (APMCs), which operate 2,339 principal markets. These principal markets have extended their footprint further through sub-market yards, numbering 4,276.
 
It suggested that State Governments may convert these principal and sub-market yards into full-fledged and independent markets.
 
While this will take the total number of wholesale markets to more than 6,600, the remaining requirement of about 3,500 may be met by promoting private markets under the provisions of the proposed Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing, (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2017, it said.
 
APLM rollout sought
The committee also urged the Union Agriculture Ministry to roll out the Model APLM Rules so that States can make the act operational. States could upgrade existing facilities such as warehouses and silos as markets, it said. The demand for rural retail markets could be met by upgrading the existing over-20,000 rural periodical markets as Primary Rural Agricultural Markets, it suggested.
 
It also delineated the need for both the Centre as well as the States/UTs constituting special purpose vehicles to own and operate the National Agriculture Market. It suggested the Ministry could seek the help of an expert for specialist advice on the transactions involved.
 
Financial support imperative
The committee was of the opinion that small and marginal farmers, who constitute 80 per cent of Indian farmers, would benefit from an efficient marketing system, only if they have withholding capacity. This can be achieved by offering them pledge finance (post-harvest loan against produce as collateral).
 
To do this, storage godowns, including cold storages, should be upgraded per the standards laid down by the Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority so that they can issue Negotiable Warehouse Receipts. The Ministry has to develop comprehensive guidelines to promote warehouse-based post-harvest loans and eNWR based trading, it said.
 
There is also a need to popularise post-harvest loans against NWRs among farmers and orient financial institutions to participate in the pledge loan system, it added.
    
Source: The Hindu Businessline



GST relief for industrial units in Himalayan, N-E region

Aug 18, 2017

As many as 4,284 industrial units in the North East and Himalayan States will get GST relief in the form of refund of Central share of CGST and iGST.
 
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday gave its nod for a new scheme to refund the Central share of Central GST (CGST) and integratedGST (iGST) to these units in lieu of the excise exemption lost due to the onset of goods and services tax (GST) and scrapping of excise laws from July 1 this year.
 
A budgetary support of ?27,413 crore for this scheme has been approved for the period from July 1, 2017 till March 31, 2027, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters here after a Cabinet meeting. He said the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) will notify the scheme, including detailed operational guidelines for implementation within six weeks.
 
Industrial boost
The 4,284 eligible industrial units were granted excise duty exemption for the first 10 years after commencement of commercial production under the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion (NEIIPP) 2007 and package for special category States for Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to promote industrialisation.
 
Upon repeal of the Central excise duty laws, the government has decided to refund the Central share of CGST and iGST to the affected industrial units for the residual period in the States of North Eastern region and Himalayan States, Jaitley said.
 
Under the scheme, if the Centre collects, say, ?100 in the form of CGST and iGST, then the aggregate refund will only be ?58, that being the Centre’s share under the devolution formula approved by the Finance Commission, he said.
 
MS Mani, Partner-GST, Deloitte in India, welcomed the decision to refund GST to units in exempted zones enjoying excise exemption. It is now expected that the few States that have granted VAT exemption would also announce the manner and methodology for refund of the SGST component of the GST paid, he told BusinessLine.
 
For all FMCG manufacturers who enjoyed excise and VAT exemption in the past, GST introduction has led to multiple challenges in terms of product pricing, raw material sourcing, adherence to anti-profiteering requirements etc.
 
These are matters that have a significant bearing on their profitability and market share and, hence, such units would be expecting a comprehensive declaration of the policies governing exemptions – both Centre and State, Mani said.
    
Source: The Hindu Businessline



GST input tax credit form

Aug 18, 2017

The Finance Ministry on Thursday said that the form for claiming transitional input tax credit will be available on the GSTN website from August 21. The transitional credit is the carried forward input tax credit from the earlier central excise and service tax regime.
 
Taxpayers who wish to claim the credit under the new goods and services tax regime should calculate their tax liability and pay it by August 20. They will however, get additional time till August 28 to submit Form TRANS I and Form 3B with their GST return.
 
In case of shortfall in the amount already paid vis-à-vis the amount payable on submission of Form 3B, it will have to be paid with interest of 18 per cent for the period between August 21 till the time of payment of such differential amount.
    
Source: The Hindu Businessline



India's refined palm oil imports to fall as duty change makes crude palm cheaper

Aug 18, 2017

India's refined palm oil imports are likely to plunge in the next marketing year, industry officials said, as changes in trade tariffs make imports of crude palm oil cheaper, a boon for refiners previously hit by cheaper imports of rivals' goods.
 
Indonesian and Malaysian refiners, which ramped up capacity to cater to India's demand, are likely to come under pressure due to the decision by India, the world's biggest palm oil importer, to widen the import duty gap between refined, , bleached and deodorized (RBD) palm olein and crude palm oil (CPO).
 
In a move designed to protect domestic farmers, India last week doubled import duty on CPO to 15 percent, and raised the levy on RBD palm olein by 10 percent to 25 percent. The move widened the gap in duties between refined and crude palm oil to 10 percent from 7.5 percent previously.
 
We expect a significant shift from imports of RBD palm olein to CPO due to the hike in duty differential, said Dinesh Shahra, managing director of Ruchi Soya Industries a leading Indian refiner. Share of CPO in total palm imports is expected to rise to over 90 percent from 69 percent last year.
 
If the change is good news for Indian refiners, reactions among exporters suggest concern.
It's not going to be easy now, there will be an impact where refiners will be getting a lot of the blow, said an upstream manager with a Malaysian plantations company, speaking on condition of anonymity.
 
India's imports are traditionally dominated by crude oils which are then refined for the domestic market. But moves by Indonesia and Malaysia to put higher taxes on exports of crude palm oil than refined products - an effort to promote domestic refining industries - made imports of refined products cheaper for India.
 
The changes allowed refined palm oil to corner 31 percent of India's total palm oil imports in 2015/16 year ended in October, up from 17.4 percent a year ago in 2016/17 and just 3.6 percent in 2006/07.
 
We believe that (palm) prices are likely to be more biased towards the downside once...the increase in import duties in an important market like India work its way through,"said Sunny Verghese, chief executive of Olam International Ltd.
 
Since the duty change, some Indian importers have already begun requesting sellers to replace refined palm shipments with CPO, said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive of the Sunvin group, a Mumbai-based vegetable oil importer.
 
In the first nine months of the current marketing year started on Nov. 1, India has imported 6.74 million tonnes of palm oil, including 2.2 million tonnes of refined palm oil.
 
Palm oil's share in India's total edible oil imports has been falling consistently due to competition from rival soyoil and sunflower oil. In 2015/16 palm's share fell to 58 percent from 80 percent in 2012/13.
 
After the recent duty changes, crude soy oil now attracts 17.5 percent duty, lower than 25 percent for CPO, which could encourage imports of soyoil, dealers said.
 
Regular demand will always be there but because soyoil duty is less, buyers may switch to soy, said one Kuala Lumpur trader, who declined to be named.

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



Cabinet approves raising ?9,020 cr for Long Term Irrigation Fund

Aug 18, 2017

The Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval for raising Extra Budgetary Resources of up to ?9,020 crore during the financial year 2017-18.
 
An official statement said that the funds will be raised by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) through the issuance of Bonds at 6 per cent per annum as per requirement.
 
These funds will be for the implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) works of 99 ongoing prioritised irrigation projects along with their command area development (CAD) works under the Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
 
An official statement said that a large number of major and medium irrigation projects taken up under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) were languishing mainly due to inadequate provision of funds.
 
Reservoir project
The Cabinet also approved the completion of remaining work at the North Koel Reservoir Project. The project in Jharkhand and Bihar will be completed at an estimated expenditure of ?1,622.27 crore that will be incurred during three financial years from the start of the project.
 
An official statement said the construction was originally started in 1972 and continued till 1993 when it was stopped by the Forest Department of Bihar. Since then, there has been no work on the dam. The total cost of the project is ?2,391.36 crore.
 
An expenditure of ?769.09 crore has been incurred on the project till date. The balance amount has been approved for disbursal after the Cabinet’s nod. The execution of the project will be monitored by an Empowered Committee headed by the CEO of NITI Aayog.
 
The Cabinet also approved the creation of seven posts of Principal Director and 36 posts of Director on regular basis in the Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service.
 
An MoU between India and Sweden on Intellectual Property Rights also got the Cabinet’s assent.
 
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the closure of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited (ANIFPDCL).
    
Source: The Hindu Businessline



Exports need to grow at 26.5 % annually for India to grab 5% share of the world trade

Aug 18, 2017

Exports need to grow at 26.5 per cent annually for the next five years for India to reach a “respectable’’ 5 per cent share in world trade from the existing 1.7 per cent it has been stuck at since 2011, according to the second part of the Economic Survey for 2016-17.
 
This could be achieved only through reforms in trade policy by diversifying exports, rationalising tariffs and developing world class export infrastructure, it added.
 
Making a case for lowering average applied tariffs, the Survey stated that there is scope for reduction by selectively bringing down tariffs across many lines, while retaining higher tariffs for sensitive and important items.
 
On a bold note, it further proposed that bound tariffs (ceilings) committed to at the World Trade Organisation could be reduced which can help India to take a more pro-active role in multilateral and bilateral negotiations.
 
India’s negotiating team at the WTO, at present, is focussed on getting a fair deal in the area of agriculture subsidies and protecting sensitive items against import surges and has not shown any interest in negotiating tariff reduction.
 
Trade policy
Highlighting the importance of the forthcoming review of the country’s Foreign Trade Policy next month, the Survey said that the review exercise is particularly important in the light of recent international developments and special efforts are needed to not only review but accelerate India’s exports.
 
India’s exports grew 4.7 per cent in 2016-17 after two years of continuous decline.
 
In a suggestion that the exporters might not treat with enthusiasm, the Survey proposed that some export promotion schemes could be phased out if tariffs are reduced to realised or near realised levels, while others could be streamlined as many duties have been subsumed under GST.
 
The duty drawback rates (refunds given to exports in lieu of input duties paid) can also be revised downwards and the revenue saved could be used for export marketing efforts.
 
To increase exports, the Survey made a case for a demand based export basket diversification rather than a mere supply based strategy. It also stressed that world class export infrastructure and logistics, especially port-related, need to be developed on a war-footing.
 
For greater States’ participation in exports, devolution of funds to States need to be linked with their export effort, it suggested.
 
Green shoots
On a positive note, the Survey said that some green shoots have started to appear on the trade horizon with world trade growth projected at 3.8 per cent and 3.9 per cent in 2017 and 2018, India’s exports continuing to be in positive territory for the fourth consecutive month in May and in double digits in April-May 2017. All external sector indicators like reserves cover for imports, external debt to GDP ratio, foreign exchange reserve cover for external debt and debt servicing ratio, too, are in the comfort zone.
 
It, however, cautioned that rising trade deficits on the domestic front and rising protectionist tendencies on the global front are things to watch in the short term.
 
On currency fluctuation, the Survey pointed out that while the rupee has been one of the most stable currencies among EMEs, the appreciation of the real effective exchange rate (REER) indicates that India’s exports have become slightly less competitive.
 
Lauding the government’s move to bring FDI in most sectors under automatic approval route, except a small negative list, the Survey said that it resulted in FDI equity inflow of $43.4 billion in 2016-17, which is not only an increase of 8 per cent over the previous year, but also the highest ever equity inflow.
    
Source: The Hindu Businessline



FSSAI orders vigilance on contaminated Vietnamese pepper imports to India

Aug 18, 2017

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked its offices on important ports to keep a check on the pepper imported from Vietnam. According to the country’s apex food regulator, the imported pepper was contaminated.
 
Giving details, a senior FSSAI official said, We have received information from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) that the pepper imported from Vietnam is contaminated with large quantities of pesticide residue, and is being diverted via Sri Lanka. Therefore, we have asked the officials to keep strict vigilance and surveillance on such imports.
 
According to Spice Board India, India is the largest consumer of black pepper. Around 70 per cent of the pepper is consumed in India. 
 
The pepper which is imported is of a cheaper quality and a lower price (almost half that of the Indian pepper), it added. 
 
According to various reports, the Vietnamese pepper is contaminated with large amounts of pesticide residue. However, in order to sell the commodity, the traders are importing and sending it via Sri Lanka, as India has signed a free trade agreement with that country, Spice Board India said.
 
R Sanjith, joint director, United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI), and a leading pepper planter, said, While production had stagnated, the domestic demand was growing.
 
The domestic demand has been growing at four per cent annually, with the current demand estimated to be 70,000 tonne per annum, he added.
 
Due to the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), import upto 2,500 tonne from Sri Lanka is duty-free. Above that it attracts just eight per cent, whereas the import of pepper, in general, attracts a duty of 70 per cent. Thus, cheaper and inferior-quality pepper is being reportedly being sold as Indian pepper in the country, Sanjith said.
    
Source: FNB News



PM asks startup entrepreneurs to join build 'New India'

Aug 18, 2017

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday interacted with startup entrepreneurs at the "Champions of Change" initiative organised by NITI Aayog in New Delhi.
 
In his address PM encouraged the entrepreneurs to work towards promoting the social welfare schemes of the Government among their employees. 
 
He emphasized that New India could only be built through the efforts of crores of ordinary citizens. He invited the entrepreneurs to join in this effort.
 
Six groups of Young Entrepreneurs made presentations before the PM on themes such as - Soft Power: Incredible India 2.0; Education and Skill Development; Health and Nutrition; Energizing a sustainable tomorrow; and Digital India; New India by 2022.
 
Appreciating the new ideas and innovations envisaged in the presentations made by the entrepreneurs, the Prime Minister said, that in times past, social initiatives had catered to the requirements of people at large, and these movements were spearheaded by eminent people in society.
 
The Prime Minister described the "Champions of Change" initiative as one effort to bring together diverse strengths for the benefit of the nation and society.
 
The Prime Minister said this initiative would be taken forward and institutionalised in the best possible way. One possibility could be to associate the groups that made presentations today, with the respective departments and Ministries in the Union Government.
 
He gave the example of Padma Awards to say how processes can be transformed to recognise hitherto unknown heroes of society.
 
The Prime Minister said the team of senior officers in Union Government are keen to explore new avenues and ways for the betterment of people. He encouraged the entrepreneurs to continue their ideation in their respective groups.  He said that if they did so, they could go a long way in furthering the cause of governance.
 
The Prime Minister said a lot of small changes have been brought in by the Union Government, which have brought significant results. He said trusting the common man, through self attestation of documents is one such initiative. He also mentioned the abolition of interviews for Group C and D positions in the Union Government.
 
Narendra Modi said that today there is an "app" for filling every gap. He said technology and innovation should be harnessed to transform governance. He said decentralised structures are important to nurture the rural economy. In this context, he mentioned the role of startups in catalysing transformation.
 
The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of good teachers in society. He said technology can provide a big boost to the quality of education.
 
Several Union Ministers, Vice Chairman NITI Aayog Shri Arvind Panagariya, and senior Union Government officers were present on the occasion. The event was coordinated by CEO NITI Aayog, Shri Amitabh Kant. 
    
Source: SME Times



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