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Centre-states may discuss early inclusion of natural gas into GST fold

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With GST revenue collections making a rebound post the disruptions caused by the second wave of Covid pandemic, the Centre is likely to initiate dialogue with states for inclusion of petroleum products under the new indirect tax fold.

Sources privy to the development said that based on the Petroleum Ministry’s suggestion, the Centre may take up with GST Council the issue of bringing natural gas under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to begin with before the entire oil and gas sector is brought under it.

The 45th GST Council meeting is scheduled on September 17, 2021 at Lucknow. Though the council members will discuss several pending issues such as states compensation, revision of GST rates on Covid essentials, inverted duty structure, the Centre is also likely to take up the case for early inclusion of gas into the new taxation fold.

With revenue position remaining strained due to Covid-19 outbreak, states have been reluctant to consider bringing high revenue generating petroleum products under GST fold. But with GST collections improving substantially this year remaining above the Rs 1 lakh crore psychological-mark in most months of FY22, the Centre feels it is the right time to push for tax reforms in the oil and gas sector as well with the inclusion of gas helping in plan to develop a gas-based economy in the country.

Inclusion of gas would not pose a challenge for the GST Council as it is largely an industrial product where a switchover to the new taxation would not be difficult. The revenue implication for the states is also low in the case of this switchover.

“States are in a fairly better position now with GST revenue hitting over Rs 1 lakh crore-mark for the past few months and Centre has also improved their liquidity position through additional borrowing schemes. This should make phased inclusion of petroleum products under GST easier for the council,” said an official source in the oil ministry.

GST levy on natural gas would help state-run oil companies such as ONGC, IOCL, BPCL and HPCL to save tax burden to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore as they would get credit on taxes paid for inputs and services. Tax credits are not transferable between the two different taxation systems.

The Steering Committee for Advancing Local Value-Add and Exports (SCALE) chaired by Mahindra & Mahindra MD & CEO Pawan Goenka in its report to the commerce ministry has also batted for provision of input tax credit of natural gas to make its prices more competitive. This could happen once it is included in GST.

Sources said Council could consider a three-layered GST structure for gas where residential piped natural gas (PNG) is taxed at a lower rate of 5 per cent, commercial piped natural gas could be taxed at a median rate of 18 per cent, and car fuel CNG could be taxed at a maximum rate of 28 per cent. However, such a proposal has not yet been drafted and it could be put on table after consensus is arrived at inclusion of gas under GST.

Gas sales, including CNG and piped gas supplies, attract VAT ranging from 5-12 per cent.

As part of its efforts to build consensus with the states on GST launch, the government had decided to exclude five petroleum products — crude oil, petrol, diesel, ATF and natural gas — from the list of items placed under GST, but included products such as cooking gas, kerosene and naphtha in the new regime.

Business

Google Play introduces UPI Autopay payment in India

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Google announced on Tuesday that it is introducing UPI Autopay as a payment option for subscription-based purchases on Google Play in India.

Introduced under UPI 2.0 by NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India), UPI Autopay helps customers make recurring payments using any UPI application that supports the feature.

“With the introduction of UPI Autopay on the platform, we aim to extend the convenience of UPI to subscription-based purchases, helping many more people access helpful and delightful services – while enabling local developers to grow their subscription-based businesses on Google Play,” Saurabh Agarwal, Head of Google Play Retail & Payments Activation – India, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand said in a statement.

Moreover, UPI Autopay makes setting up subscriptions easy.

Users need to simply tap on the payment method in the cart, select “Pay with UPI,” and then approve the purchase in their supported UPI app after selecting a subscription plan to purchase.

Google Play helps consumers transact safely and seamlessly in more than 170 markets, according to the report.

Also, the platform supports over 300 local payment methods in over 60 countries, removing complexities associated with finding and integrating local payments.

UPI is one such payment option, introduced on the Play Store in India in 2019.

In India, UPI has transformed the mobile payment framework, and on Google Play as well, many people are enjoying and using apps that take advantage of UPI-based transactions, the statement added.

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Invest Karnataka 2022 paved way for Rs 9.82 lakh cr investment: CM Bommai

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Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced at the concluding ceremony of the 3-day Global Investors Meet (GIM) in Bengaluru that “investments totaling about Rs 9.82 lakh have been committed in diverse sectors in the state.” Bommai thanked the participants in the event and investors.

Addressing the gathering, the CM said, “This GIM is different from other such Investor Meets as this has been organised during challenging times and has succeeded in showing us the way forward. What Karnataka thinks today, India thinks tomorrow. We will work with the investors shoulder to shoulder to make all these investments fructify on the ground.”

Thanking all the investors and delegates who participated in the GIM 2022, Karnataka Large and Medium Industries Minister, Murugesh Nirani, said “Invest Karnataka has laid a strong foundation for the development of Karnataka in the next five years. I am happy that we have met the core objective of this GIM, which is to bring in investments in diverse sectors and create jobs, and take industries beyond Bengaluru.”

The valedictory session was also attended by Bhagwanth Khuba, Union Minister of State for New and Renewable Energy, Chemicals & Fertilizers.

Inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually on Wednesday, the event culminated on Friday with the valedictory session in which Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai re-assured investors from all across the world of sustained support by his government.

Among top industrialists, Chairman of Jindal Group, Sajjan Jindal; Vice Chairman of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd, Vikram S. Kirloskar; Chairman, Wipro, Rishad Premji; Vice Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, Rajan Bharti Mittal; CEO, Adani Ports and SEZ, Karan Adani and MD, Sterlite Power, Pratik Agarwal shared their experience in Karnataka and expressed continued interest in the state.

The Global Investors Meet witnessed 30+ immersive sessions spread across three days. These sessions were a mix of innovative formats such as panel discussions, fireside chats, and TED-style talks.

In addition to the speaker sessions, a number of networking events, cultural performances, business exhibitions (with 300+ exhibitors), and country sessions ran parallelly across the 3 days. The country sessions were hosted by partner countries — France, Germany, Netherlands, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

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Unfortunately, there is no choice: Musk on Twitter layoffs

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Elon Musk on Saturday said that there is no choice other than brutally firing half of Twitter’s workforce as the company is losing over $4 million a day.

After axing nearly 3,800 employees across the globe, including in India, the new Twitter CEO said that he has given three months of severance to everyone who has been asked to go.

“Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day,” Musk tweeted.

“Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50 per cent more than legally required,” he added.

Musk has laid off people across the departments at Twitter, eliminating several teams across the globe.

He also said that Twitter has seen a massive drop in revenue as activist groups are putting undue pressure on its advertisers.

“Again, to be crystal clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged. In fact, we have actually seen hateful speech at times this week decline below our prior norms, contrary to what you may read in the press,” he posted.

“Twitter will not censor accurate information about anything,” said Musk.

On charging $8 for the Blue subscription service, he said: “Trash me all day, but it’ll cost $8.”

The company lost $270 million in the April-June period after revenue slipped 1 per cent to $1.18 billion, reflecting advertising industry headwinds.

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