Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India on Monday extended a 0.5% reduction in cash reserve ratio (CRR), the amount of cash that banks need to keep in reserve, to cooperative banks in a measure aimed at boosting the sagging economy.
“On a review of the current global and domestic macroeconomic situation...it has been decided to reduce the CRR for scheduled state cooperative banks and urban cooperative banks by 50 basis points from 5.5% to 5%,” RBI said in a notification.
The rate cut will be effective from the fortnight beginning 17 January, it added.
CSR optional in Gujarat’s new industrial policy
Ahmedabad: The government of Gujarat has, in its newly announced industrial policy, refrained from making corporate social responsibility (CSR) mandatory.
The new policy announced on Monday by minister of state for industries Saurabh Patel has rechristened CSR as “Wealth with Social Health”.
Earlier, the Gujarat government had made it mandatory for state-run public sector enterprises (PSEs) to contribute 30% of its profit before tax for social causes as part of their CSR.
Principal chief industrial advisor R .J. Shah said, “Corporate social responsibility has been made optional in the new industrial policy.”
The policy under the title, “Wealth with Social Health” said, “Business entities should synergize with the state to improve social health in surrounding areas, so we intend to develop a flexible and optional arrangement between the state and business.”
Stimulus measures for exporters introduced
New Delhi:The government on Monday started putting the stimulus package into operation for exporters by hiking the duty refund rates and restoring them to the level before 5 November, when the reimbursement was cut.
As promised in the second stimulus package, unveiled on 2 January, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has also notified extension of the popular Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB) scheme for refund of taxes to exporters, till December.
The government had cut the tax refund rates for exporters in November after rupee appreciated fast to give higher realizations. However, with the worsening of the global markets, mainly the US and Europe, exports have started contracting, putting lakhs of jobs at risk.
Concerned over the plight of exporters and the employment stakes in the sector, the government in the second stimulus package announced restoration of the the DEPB benefits taken away in November. In the first package, the exporters were given interest subsidy of 2%.
EC orders case to be filed against MK Stalin
New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Monday ordered registration of a criminal case against Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi’s son M.K. Stalin for allegedly distributing money to people in Thirumangalam, where a byelection is scheduled on 9 January.
EC sources said that poll authorities have been instructed to register a case against Stalin, who is also a minister in the Tamil Nadu government, on charges of bribery.
The poll authorities have also been instructed to issue a notice to the ruling DMK after television channels showed video clippings allegedly showing distribution of money by Stalin.
The sources said that the EC also instructed issue of notice to AIADMK and registration of a case against Dandapany, district joint secretary of MGR Mantram in Coimbatore on charges of distribution of money.
IGL allowed to sell gas to homes and automobiles
New Delhi: After months of a bitter row over legalities of Indraprastha Gas Ltd’s (IGL) operations in the National Capital Territory (NCT), the oil regulator has authorized the company to retail (compressed natural gas) CNG to automobiles and piped gas to households.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) on 1 January wrote to the IGL managing director saying the company was authorized to do city gas distribution operations in the NCT, sources said.
The regulator has given the BSE-listed company a three-year exclusive period do business in the NCT, and no other company would be allowed to operate in the city in the duration.
It has, however, not given IGL authorization for operation in Ghaziabad, a city for which the PNGRB will invite applications from private companies in a couple of months.
Ramadoss plans to target junk food next
Bangalore: After banning smoking in public places and on screen, the Union health and family welfare ministry is all set to make labelling of food products mandatory, informing consumers about ingredients, calories and saturated fat, in an apparent drive against junk food.
“In a month’s time, all food products in India will mandatorily have ingredients on one side (of the cover of food packets) and on the other side, nutritional value like calories and saturated fat”, Union minister for health and family welfare Anbumani Ramadoss said here on Monday.
“People will know what to eat and how much to eat”, he told reporters after attending the convocation function of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), a deemed university.
Pointing out that junk food was contributing to juvenile diabetes, childhood obesity and hypertension, he said more needs to be done to enhance awareness. His ministry has sent advisories to states to ban junk food in educational institutions, Ramadoss said.
His ministry was also bringing out a national alcoholic policy—which would be recommendatory in nature to states and not mandatory—listing among other things, fixed timings for alcohol consumption, quantity limitation, age limit and holidays (alcohol free days).
Ramadoss said he would introduce in the coming session of Parliament a clinical establishment act by which all hospitals and labs—big or small—would have to be registered.
All hospitals and labs would be regulated and these would have to follow Indian Public Health Standards in a bid to streamline quality.
SC admits PepsiCo’s plea seeking tax exemption
New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday admitted a petition filed by PepsiCo India Holding Ltd challenging the Kerala high court judgement that denied sales tax exemption to the soft drinks company.
A bench headed by justice S.B. Sinha while admitting the plea posted the matter for final hearing on 3 March. It also directed the state government not to take any coercive measure till then. Earlier, the court had ordered a status quo till Monday.
The Kerala government had issued a notification in 1993 giving sales tax exemption to new small-, medium- and large-scale industrial units for seven years from the date of starting commercial production.
However, the state government withdrew the exemption except for those that had taken steps to set up industrial units prior to 1 January 2000, or which had commenced commercial production on, or before 31 December 2001.
According to PepsiCo, the high court had upheld the order of the deputy commissioner of commercial tax though it started production much before the scheduled date.
It further contended that the high court failed to appreciate its genuine exemption claim.
The company said that sales tax exemption is given as an incentive for promoting industrialization and economic growth and development, and that any subsequent notification should further the objective.
The soft drinks company said it had acquired at least 50 acres on lease for 90 years for Rs2.77 crore from the government for setting up a plant for manufacturing aerated and non-aerated beverages and other food products, and their packaging material.
Sterlite’s plea in excise duty case dismissed
New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday dismissed Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd’s plea seeking a stay on the Madras high court judgement that asked the company to deposit an additional excise duty of Rs15 crore.
A bench headed by justice D.K. Jain dismissed Sterlite’s plea. However, it gave the company four weeks’ time to deposit the money.
According to the company, the orders of the high court and the sectoral tribunal suffer from a “non-application of mind” with respect to the prima facie case and undue hardship.
The Madras high court, while refusing to waive the pre-deposit duty of Rs15 crore, had remanded the matter for reassessing the duty payable in accordance with the finance ministry’s circular dated 13 February 2003.
Matters where calculation or recalculation is to be made for assessing the value of the goods captively consumed, irrespective of the year of assessment, must be done “in the appropriate manner as per the circular”, the high court had held.
According to the Central Board of Excise and Customs circular, valuing goods captively consumed irrespective of the year of assessment is to be done through the Cost Accounting Standard 4.
The excise department had issued 17 showcause notices to Sterlite for recovery of differential duty of nearly Rs86 crore on account of the alleged undervaluation of copper anode between May 1997 and June 2000.
SC notice to Centre on Jayalalithaa’s petition
New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday asked the Centre to respond to a petition filed by the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) chief J. Jayalalithaa, challenging the agreements between India and Sri Lanka that led to the country ceding Kachatheevu island to Sri Lanka.
Two agreements of 1974 and 1976 led to India surrendering possession of Kachatheevu island, located off the Rameswaram coast, to Sri Lanka.
The petition, filed in August last year, stated that India ceding the island, which was part of its sovereign territory prior to 1974, was “unilateral” and “arbitrary”. Moreover, it highlighted that numerous Indian fisherman were killed or arrested by Sri Lankan officials when they strayed into waters close to the island.
Admitting the petition, a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan issued a notice to the Centre on Monday seeking its reply to the petition.
Incentive package to boost low-cost housing
New Delhi: In a bid to encourage construction of houses for economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society, the government is planning to introduce an incentive package for stakeholders of the “Affordable Housing for All” project.
“We have taken several measures, including interest subsidy scheme for housing the urban poor and the recent stimulus package announced by the Prime Minister for the housing sector and more such fiscal measures are being worked out,” housing and urban poverty alleviation minister Kumari Selja said on Monday.
There was a shortage of 24.7 million housing units in urban areas at the beginning of the 11th Plan (2007-12).
Admitting that planning flaws led to the huge gap between demand and supply, Selja said unfortunately the private sector only focuses on high-end housing and ignores low-cost units.
Highlighting the need for the involvement of the private sector, she said there is a definite potential in the large scale construction of low-cost housing units in the country.
“We have sanctioned more than 1 million houses for urban poor under the JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission). While about 54,000 houses are being completed, construction of 3.1 lakh houses is in progress,” she said.
Mentioning the Deepak Parekh task force, set up to look into a strategy for affordable houses, she said the committee has submitted its report.
“I have called a meeting of all state housing ministers on 20 January in order to discuss the issues and strategies for taking up large construction projects to reach the goal of Affordable Houses for All,” the minister added.
RCom claims new GSM users top 100,000
Mumbai:Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) on Monday said it has logged in more than 100,000 subscribers for its GSM services in Mumbai on the first day of its launch here. The company launched its GSM services in the city on Sunday.
“This is a record sale of connections on the very first day of commercial launch of a telecom service. The Day 1 sales are expected to further go up by the time the day ends,” RCom said in a statement.
An RCom spokesperson said, “The high volume sales can be attributed to the company’s aggressive strategy.”
The company launched a plan that offers up to 100% savings to sub-Rs300 ARPU (average revenue per user) mobile customers in Mumbai at a one-time subscription charge (including GSM SIM) of Rs25 only.
RCom’s plan offers Rs900 minutes of free talktime on local calls and SMSs to any network that can be accrued by Reliance Mobile GSM customers in daily tranches of Rs10 spread over 90 days.