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GST Council meet today: Covid relief, bringing oil and gas indirect tax regime on agenda

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Finance Minister

 The GST Council will meet in Lucknow on Friday to take decisions on issues related to duty revision that were put on the back burner in earlier meetings to focus on the Covid relief measures amid rising cases during the second wave of the pandemic.

The meeting, however, is expected to announce a few more Covid relief measures particularly on compliance matters.

It will also announce a few measures to correct the inverted duty while discussing the compensation cess dues arising in 2021-22.

Two other important items, including lowering of GST rates for two-wheelers and bringing natural gas into the indirect tax fold may also be included in the agenda for discussion.

“Finance Minister Smt. @nsitharaman will chair the 45th GST Council meeting at 11 AM in Lucknow today. The meeting will be attended by MOS Shri @mppchaudhary besides Finance Ministers of States & UTs and Senior officers from Union Government & States,” the Ministry of Finance said in a tweet.

The GST Council has already met twice this year when the panel of finance ministers discussed GST compensation and the borrowing formula offered by the Centre towards compensating states for GST shortfall while also announcing a series of duty relief and easing of compliance measures towards Covid relief.

The 45th meeting of the council is expected to again discuss the compensation issue for the current year, but sources said it may also take a few steps to correct inverted duty structure without pursuing any increase in the GST rates or move towards converging GST to three rate structure.

Sources also said that the council at the meeting may also take up two other important items, including lowering of GST rates for two-wheelers and bringing natural gas into the indirect tax fold.

A top source in the finance ministry said that inverted duty correction, GST cut on two-wheelers and inclusion of natural gas into GST fold are on the agenda and hopefully the council will offer some solution that is in the best interest of all stakeholders.

Correction of inverted duty structure, especially in sectors such as fertilizer, steel utelsils, solar modules, tractors, tyres, electrical transformers, pharma, textile, fabric, railway locomotives among other goods is required.

Inverted duty refers to tax rates on inputs being higher than those levied on finished products. This results in higher input credit claims by goods besides several administrative and compliance issues.

Currently, while duty on imported tyres is 10 per cent, its inputs i.e. rubber attracts 20 per cent duty. Similarly, solar modules do not attract any duty while its components attract 5-10 per cent duty.

Similarly, the council may also consider lowering the GST rate of 28 per cent on two-wheelers to give a boost to its sales affected during the pandemic.

The Council has in principle agreed to include five petroleum products under GST, but has so far deferred its actual inclusion into the indirect as states fear a big loss of revenue. But now, the government is considering bringing natural gas under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to begin with as it would be difficult to bring the entire oil and gas sector immediately under it.

Sources said that natural gas may be included under a three-tier GST structure where rates would vary depending on the usage. So, while piped natural gas (PNG) for homes may be kept at a lower rate of 5 per cent, commercial piped gas may attract the median 18 per cent GST rate and automobile fuel CNG may be kept in the highest bracket of 28 per cent.

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In the Gulf, workers and diplomats join hands to celebrate India’s Independence Day

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Thousands of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) across the Gulf on Monday proudly celebrated India’s Independence Day, amid the unfurling of the tricolour and distribution of sweets.

The commemoration of Independence Day and flag hoisting is customary at Indian missions. However, the display of tricolour has assumed special significance this year as it has docked with the viral ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign.

Numerous patriotic Indian workers engaged at different work sites have celebrated the event by cutting cakes and distributing sweets. In early morning hours several NRIs thronged to Indian missions by leaving their work aside to commemorate Independence Day and singing to the tune of the national anthem.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where the largest number of Indian nationals live and work, Ambassador Sunjay Sudhir led the celebrations by hoisting the Indian tricolour at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. He paid floral tribute at the bust of Mahatma Gandhi.

Sudhir pointed out that under the visionary leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the tricolour has gained further respect globally. He added: “Today, wearing the tricolour, or flashing the Indian passport, evokes respect for Indians.”

Sudhir read out excerpts from the speech made by Indian President Droupadi Murmu.

The tricolour was also unfurled by the Consul General of India in Dubai by Aman Puri, at the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

The event marked with zeal as part of ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ with a variety of programmes in Dubai despite adverse weather conditions. In the Dubai ‘Marina a Yacht’ that displayed the tricolour was conspicuous. In Sharjah, blue collar workers participated in an exclusive event held by the Indian Association.

In Saudi Arabia, which houses the second highest number of Indians, Indians celebrated Independence Day with enthusiasm and joy, with DCM N. Ram Prasad hoisting the national flag and paying floral tributes to the father of the nation.

The Indian employees working in a key infrastructure project in Ras Al Khair, seashore town, among others celebrated Indian Independence Day by cutting a cake and distributing sweets.

“Though away from home, we took part in ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ ,” said Riyadh-based Ch. Shiva Reddy, hailing from Hyderabad.

In Jeddah, Consul General Md. Shahid Alam hoisted the national flag. Enthusiastic celebrations were also held in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

(Irfan Mohammed is a Jeddah-based journalist. Views expressed are personal and exclusive to India Narrative)

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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Equity AUM of mutual funds rises more than 10% on-month in July

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After declining for two consecutive months, equity assets under management (AUM) of domestic mutual funds rose 10.3 per cent month-on-month to Rs 15.2 lakh crore in July as market rebounded after three months of decline, according to a Motilal Oswal report.

The month saw a decline of sales of equity schemes by 14.3 per cent on-month to Rs 304 billion and the pace of redemptions picked up to Rs 148 billion, up 16 per cent on-month. Consequently, net inflows slowed to Rs 157 billion in the July from Rs 228 billion in the previous month.

The Nifty, after three consecutive months of decline, bounced back smartly in July with 8.7 per cent on-month gain, the highest since December 2020. The Nifty Midcap 100 outperformed the markets during the month. FIIs registered inflows of $0.8 billion in July after nine months of outflows totaling $33.3 billion; YTD’CY22 outflows stood at $25.4 billion.

Meanwhile, total AUM for the mutual fund industry increased to Rs 37.7 trillion, up 5.9 per cent on-month in July. This was because of a rise in AUM for equities worth Rs 1,412 billion, other ETFs worth Rs 380 billion, balanced worth Rs 210 billion, and income worth Rs 179 billion funds.

Contributions in systematic investment plans (SIPs) remained strong at Rs 121.4 billion in July, an eleventh consecutive month of Rs 100 billion plus investment in the category.

The month saw notable changes in the sector and stock allocation of funds.

On a month-on-month basis, the weights of NBFCs, Private Banks, Consumer, Retail, Automobiles, Capital Goods, PSU Banks, Metals, Cement, and Media increased, while the weights of Oil & Gas, Technology, Telecom, Healthcare, and Utilities moderated.

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Inflation to remain elevated with a return to sub-6% not likely before Feb 2023: Kotak report

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The inflation prints in the near term is expected to remain higher around 7 per cent, with a gradual move likely towards MPCs upper threshold of 6 per cent by end-FY2023.

“We expect inflation to remain elevated with a return to the sub-6 per cent level not likely before February 2023. We maintain our FY2023E average CPI inflation estimate at 6.5 per cent. We also maintain our call for additional 35-60 bps of repo rate hikes to 5.75-6 per cent by end-CY2022,” Kotak Economic Research report said.

The report also said that some early signs relief in inflation are visible in the near term due to easing commodity and crude oil prices, normal monsoons and improving reservoir levels, and easing global supply-chain pressures.

Kotak Research expect the CPI inflation trajectory to be lower than the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) estimates by 70 basis points in first half of calendar year 2023, and maintain our FY2023E CPI inflation estimate at 6.5 per cent.

To tame inflation and stabilise rupee, the central bank is likely to hike repo rate in the near term. However, the pace of rate hike will be lower due to global disinflationary pressures and pass-through impact of monetary tightening to demand side pressures.

“Accordingly, we maintain our call for further 35-60 basis points of repo rate hikes to 5.75-6 per cent by end-CY2022,” the report added.

In July, CPI inflation has moderated to 6.71 per cent, as against 7.01 per cent in June due to moderation in food inflation. The moderation in food prices was led by decline in prices of meat and fish, and oils and fats.

Whereas, June IIP growth moderated to 12.3 per cent, while growing sequentially by 0.1 per cent. On a sectoral basis, electricity production grew by 16.4 per cent, manufacturing by 12.5 per cent, and mining by 7.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, July core inflation (CPI excluding food, fuel, pan and tobacco) remained broadly sticky at 6.25 per cent, with a sequential pickup of 0.7 per cent. This was led mainly by rising costs of education, and clothing and footwear.

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