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Saturday,19-June-2021

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Big relief to jewellers on mandatory hallmarking

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Jewellery

The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court passed an interim order on May 7 which stops Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) from taking any coercive action on jewellers across India or impose penalty on those who may not comply with BIA (BIS Act, 2016) regulations, Section 29(2) on mandatory hallmarking due to the lack of adequate infrastructure in terms of assaying and hallmarking centres.

The Court ruled: “The contention is that the new regulation making it compulsory to hallmark gold jewellery before it is stored or sold, which has to come into force w.e.f. 1st June 2021, is likely to result in great hardships to lakhs of jewellers in India and their number is stated to be 5 lakhs.”

The writ petition was filed by All India Gem & Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC), which is the industry’s apex domestic Council that ensures promotion, protection and progress of jewellers. GJC was represented in court by counsel, Rohan Shah.

Ashish Pethe, Chairman, All India Gem & Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) stated, “Courts have seen the hardship of the jewellers. The order stated that further contention is that in proportion to such multitude of jewellers in India – the percentage of hallmarking centres available in India, is just about 34% of the 733 districts in the country and that there are at least 488 districts in the country, which do not have any hallmarking centres. It is further submitted that there are about 6,000 crore pieces of jewellery, which still need to be hallmarked.”

Nitin Khandelwal, Past Chairman, GJC, said, “Courts have been reasonable and strict with BIS as further contention is that if there is any breach of the said mandate of law as provided under Sections 14 and 15 of the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016 (BIS Act), there is a penalty in offence as provided under Section 29 of the BIS Act, 2016 punishable with maximum imprisonment of one year. It is also submitted that within the time available, it could not be possible for all the jewellers and for every piece of jewellery presently available to be hallmarked before these provisions of law come into force.”

Saiyam Mehra, Vice Chairman, GJC, commented, “It is further submitted that there are also other problems arising out of the present COVID restrictions, which prevent a person to travel from one district to another district and that there are several districts, which do not have any hallmarking centres yet. And the court has in the meanwhile, directed that no coercive action shall be taken against the jewellers under Section 29(2) of the BIS Act, 2016, till next date of hearing on 14th June 2021. This is a big relief to the jewellers who shall now be fully protected from any actions from BIS even though they may wish to still go ahead with mandatory hallmarking.”

Dinesh Jain, Director, GJC who represented GJC in the writ petition filed, commented, “The writ has been admitted on merit and notice has been issued to BIS and all respondents. BIS is wise enough to know what to do in such a situation and we are sure that BIS shall not proceed with mandatory hallmarking without doing their homework properly. GJC is fully supporting Hallmarking and pray in the writ petition that a ‘High Level Committee’ be constituted by Honourable court to streamline and resolve all issues for the benefit of Consumers, Jewellers and core objective of BIS.”

All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) represents over 5,00,000 players comprising manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, laboratories, gemmologists, designers, and allied services to the domestic Gems & Jewellery industry.

Business

India’s forex reserves rise by over $3 bn

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Reserve-Bank-of-India

India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $3.074 billion during the week ended June 11.

According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) weekly statistical supplement, the reserves increased to $608.081 billion from $605.008 billion reported for the week ended June 4.

India’s forex reserves comprise foreign currency assets (FCAs), gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs), and the country’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

On a weekly basis, FCAs, the largest component of the forex reserves, edged higher by $2.567 billion to $563.457 billion.

Similarly, the value of the country’s gold reserves rose by $496 million to $38.101 billion.

However, the SDR value slipped by $1 million at $1.512 billion.

But, the country’s reserve position with the IMF inched higher by $11 million to $5.011 billion.

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Business

BharatPe in talks to raise $250M led by Tiger Capital: Report

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BharatPe

Fintech major BharatPe, that hit a new high with 106 million monthly transactions in UPI in March this year, is reportedly raising nearly $250 million in its next funding round led by Tiger Global.

TechCrunch on Friday reported, citing sources, that the fresh funding will take the company’s valuation to about $2.5 billion.

When reached, the company declined to comment at the moment.

The financial services company last month raised Rs 50 crore in debt from Northern Arc Capital, one of the leading digital debt finance platforms. This was the sixth round of debt financing in 2021.

In January, the company had raised Rs 200 crore from three top debt companies in the country — Alteria Capital, InnoVen Capital and Trifecta Capital, having later raised additional capital from ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.

“We have considerably ramped up our lending business in the last year and have set an ambitious target of facilitating disbursals to the tune of $1 billion to more than 10 lakh merchants by the end of current fiscal (FY22),” Suhail Sameer, Group President, BharatPe, had said.

The fintech company has already facilitated disbursals of over Rs 1,600 crore to more than 2 lakh merchants since the launch of the lending vertical.

As per a recent report by ACI Worldwide and Global Data, India has outpaced the US and China to become the world’s biggest real-time digital payments market, driven by P2P as well as merchant payments.

BharatPe said it is committed to help small merchants and kirana store owners grow their business with a range of fintech products for them.

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Business

Finance Ministry refutes reports of alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland

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Finance-Ministry

The Union Finance Ministry on Saturday said that increase in deposits of Indians in Swiss Banks could be on account of increase in business of Swiss bank branches located in India and raised Inter-bank transactions, rather than due to an increase in alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland.

It, however said that Swiss Authorities have been requested to provide the relevant facts along with their view on possible reasons for increase or decrease in deposits so that facts could be presented in correct perspective.

Certain reports suggested that that funds of Indians in Swiss Banks have risen to over Rs 20,700 crore (CHF 2.55 billion) at the end of 2020 from Rs 6,625 crore (CHF 899 million) at the end of 2019, reversing a 2 year declining trend. It has also been stated that this is also the highest figure of deposits in the last 13 years.

“Reports allude to the fact that the figures reported are official figures reported by banks to Swiss National Bank (SNB) and do not indicate the quantum of much debated alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland. Further, these statistics do not include the money that Indians, NRIs or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of third-country entities,” the Ministry statement said.

The statement added that the customer deposits have actually fallen from the end of 2019 in a Swiss Banks. The funds held through fiduciaries has also more than halved from end of 2019. The biggest increase is in “Other amounts due from customers”. These are in form of bonds, securities and various other financial instruments, the finance min statement said.

The ministry also ascribed various other reasons for increase in deposits and not possibly on account of the increase of deposits in the Swiss banks out of undeclared incomes of Indian residents. It said that that increase in deposits may be on account if increase in deposits owing to the business of Swiss Bank branches located in India or Increase in Inter- bank transactions between Swiss and Indian Banks. Also, it could be due to capital increase for a subsidiary of a Swiss Company in India or increase in the liabilities connected with the outstanding derivative financial instruments.

The government has issued clarifications in wake of widely held position that it has curbed generation of black money in the economy or unaccounted funds of Indians stashed abroad. The fresh tax agreements reached between India and certain perceived tax havens has introduced certain instruments to prevent round tripping of funds and generation of black money.

It is pertinent to point out that India and Switzerland are signatories to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAAC) and both countries have also signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) pursuant to which, the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) is activated between the two countries for sharing of financial account information annually for calendar year 2018 onwards.

Exchanges of Financial Account information in respect of residents of each country have taken place between both countries in 2019 as well as 2020. In view of the existing legal arrangement for exchange of information of financial accounts (which has a significant deterrent effect on tax evasion through undisclosed assets abroad), there does not appear to be any significant possibility of the increase of deposits in the Swiss banks which is out of undeclared incomes of Indian residents, the finance ministry said.

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