Intelsat 29e, the first of Intelsat EpicNG satellites launched into Orbit: Intelsat, the commercial satellite giant, on January 27, 2016 announced that Intelsat 29e, the first of the Intelsat EpicNG high throughput satellites, was successfully launched. The satellites were launched from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 vehicle. The high throughput platform should provide customers with superior connections at a lower cost. Designated Intelsat 29e will be placed into service at 310° east and replace Intelsat 1R.

Intelsat 29e is the first satellite of Intelsat’s next generation, all digital EpicNG satellite platforms, which combines wide beams and spot beams with frequency reuse technology and the sector’s most advanced digital payload. The digital payload will provide customers with unprecedented security and flexibility, enabling customers to seamlessly access and shift capacity to match their usage needs in a particular region or timeframe. Intelsat EpicNG is optimised to provide satellite connectivity for applications including the Internet of Things, enterprise, wireless infrastructure, aeronautic^ and maritime mobility, and government,

RBI keeps key rates unchanged in 6th bi-monthly monetary policy review : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) pn February 2, 2016 maintained status quo in key policy interest rate in its sixth bi-monthly monetary policy review for the year 2016. The key policy interest rates were kept unchanged on the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation in the country. The RBI has kept its stance on the credit policy accommodative. RBI Governor Mr. Raghuram Rajan kept the repo or short-term lending rate unchanged at 6.75 percent and the reverse repo rate at 7.75 percent. However, he hinted at accommodative stance saying that with inflation moving closer to the target, there would be more room for rate cut to support growth. The central bank will now eye the Government’s annual Budget statement at the end February to decide on whether to cut interest rates further. Mr. Rajan said announcing the 6th and final monetary policy for the current fiscal that structural reforms in the forthcoming Union Budget that boost growth while controlling spending would create more space for monetary policy to support growth, while also ensuring that inflation remain on the projected path of 5 percent by the end of 2016-17. The RBI had slashed the policy repo rate by 125 basis points in 2015. Keeping rates on hold at the last policy review in December, the RBI had reiterated that it remained on an “accommodative” path that would help give more momentum to economic growth.

. Mr. Rajan also said that the central bank had not factored in 7th Pay Panel recommendation in inflation target. He said how the Government implements a planned 24 percent pay hike in salaries and pensions for some 10 million current and former government employees will also be key in determining the path of inflation. Inflation has evolved closely along the trajectory set by the monetary policy stance. With unfavourable base effects on the ebb and benign prices of fruits and vegetables and crude oil, the January 2016 target of 6 percent should be met, Mr. Rajan added. The RBI Governor said the Indian economy was being viewed as a beacon of stability because of the steady disinflation, a modest current account deficit and commitment to fiscal rectitude. This needed to be maintained so that the foundations of a stable and sustainable growth were strengthened, he said. On the GDP, the RBI maintained that its growth were forecast at 7.4 percent with a downside bias. According to the RBI projections, in Financial Year (FY) 2016, growth will be at 7.4% with downward bias and FY17 growth at 7.6 % despite headwinds. Inflation will be around 5% for FY 2016-17 due to good monsoon projections that can pull the inflation down. The inflation rate has evolved closely along the trajectory set by the monetary policy stance of the RBI.

First revised estimates of macroeconomic indicators for 2014-15 released : The Central Statistics Office (CSO) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on January 29, 2016 released the first revised estimates of national income, consumption expenditure, saving and capital formation for 2014-15. Besides, the CSO also released second revised estimates of the years 2011-12 to 2013-14 with the base year

  • 12.

According to revised estimates for FYs 2014-15 and

  • 14, Nominal Gross Domestic Product or GDP at current prices for the year 2014-15 was estimated at Rs. 124.88 lakh crore while that for the year 2013-14 was estimated at Rs. 112.73 lakh crore, exhibiting a growth of 10.8 percent during
  • 15 as against 13.3 percent during 2013-14. Real GDP or GDP at constant (2011-12) prices for the years 2014-15 and
  • 14 stands at Rs. 105.52 lakh crore and Rs. 98.39 lakh crore, respectively, showing growth of 7.2 percent during
  • 15, and 6.6 percent during 2013-14. The previous Real GDP estimates for FY 2014-15 and 2013-14 was 7.3 and 6.9, respectively. Per capita net national income at current prices was estimated at Rs. 79,412 and Rs. 86,879, respectively for the years 2013-14 and 2014-15. Correspondingly, per capita private final consumption expenditure (PFCE) at current prices, for the years 2013-14 and 2014-15 was estimated at Rs. 52,022 and Rs. 56,772, respectively. Under Industry-wise analysis, percentage shares of different sectors of the economy in gross value addition (GVA) at current prices were—primary sector
  • , secondary (27.36) and tertiary (52.60). Percentage changes in GVA in 2014-15 at constant (2011-12) prices over the FY 2013-14 were—primary sector (1.3 percent), secondary
  • and tertiary (10.3). The growth in real GVA during 2014-15 has been higher than that in 2013-14 mainly due to higher growth in mining and quarrying (10.8 percent), hotels and restaurants (10.7), public administration and defence (9.8) and other services (11.4 percent).

Nominal Net National Income (NNI) at current prices for the year 2014-15 stands at Rs. 110.08 lakh crore as against Rs. 99.34 lakh crore in 2013-14, showing an increase of

  • percent during 2014-15-as against an increase of
  • percent in the previous year. Gross National Disposable Income (GNDI) at current prices is estimated as Rs. 127.46 lakh crore for the year 2014-15, while the estimate for the year 2013-14 stands at Rs. 115.29 lakh crore, showing a growth of 10.6 percent as against 13.2 percent in the year 2013-14. Gross Saving during 2014-15 is estimated as Rs. 41.17 lakh crore as against Rs. 37.25 lakh crore during 2013-14. Rate of Gross Saving to GNDI for the year 2014-15 is estimated as
  • percent, the same as in 2013-14. The highest contributor to the Gross Saving is the household sector, with a share of
  • percent in the year 2014-15. The rate of gross capital formation (GCF) to GDP declined from 34.7 percent during 2013-14 to 34.2 percent in the year 2014-15.

CBDT signs bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements with UK-based companies : The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into two bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with United Kingdom on January 29,2016. With this signing, CBDT has concluded three bilateral APAs, the first one being a bilateral APA signed with Japan in December, 2014. The two bilateral APAs were signed with two Indian group entities of a UK-based Multi-National Company (MNC). The APAs have been entered into soon after the Competent Authorities of India and United Kingdom finalised the terms of the bilateral arrangement under the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) process contained in the India-UK DTAA.

The APAs cover the period 2013-14 to 2017-18 and also have a “Rollback” provision for two years (2011-12 and

  • 13). Transfer pricing disputes on the same transaction were recendy resolved under MAP for each of these two companies for the years 2006-07 to 2010-11. With the signing of the bilateral APAs, the two Indian companies have been provided with tax certainty for 12 years.each (5 years under MAP and 7 years under APA). This is a significant step towards providing a stable and predictable tax regime. The two APAs are also significant, because they address the issues of payment of management & service charges and payment of royalty. These transactions generally face prolonged and multi-layered transfer-pricing disputes. With this signing, CBDT has so far signed 41 APAs out of which 38 are unilateral and 3 are bilateral.

An APA, usually for multiple years, is signed between a taxpayer and the tax authority (Central Board of Direct Taxes in India) on an appropriate transfer-pricing methodology for determining the price and ensuing taxes on intra-group overseas transactions.

SEBI releases report of Narayana Murthy panel on Alternative Investment Policy : The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on January 20, 2016 released the first report of the Alternative Investment Policy Advisory Committee (AIPAC) for comments from the stakeholders. The 21-member committee was constituted by the SEBI in March 2015 under the chairmanship of Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, to suggest measures for development of the alternative investment funds (AlFs) and start-up eco-system in the country. The recommendations of the committee are founded on the following principles—Ease of doing business is important; Fund managers have the role of “Prudent Men”; Adopt global best practices, and where necessary, innovate the “next” (best) practice; Clarity, consistency, and certainty in tax policies; Harmonisation and consistency across different regulators; and AIFs should at least have parity with public market funds in tax policies.

For creating a favourable tax environment, the panel recommended that exempted income of AIFs should not suffer tax withholding of 10 percent. Overseas investors in India­centric fund vehicles should not be subject to the indirect transfer provisions of the IT Act when they transfer their investments in an India-centric vehicle to another investor. It recommended that Provisions relating to investor diversification, control or management of portfolio companies, tax residence, arm’s length remuneration of fund managers and annual reporting requirements under Section 9A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 should be amended. It suggested to make foreign direct investment in AIFs work efficiently by clarifying the rules for investment by non-resident Indian investors in AIFs on a non-repatriation basis. It said that security Transaction Tax (S’l’I) should be introduced for private equity and venture capital investments, including SEBI-registered AIFs and have parity with the taxation of investments in listed securities. In relation to reforms in the AIF regulatory regime, the panel suggested for the focus on regulation of fund managers instead of fund per se.

Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) is anything alternate to traditional form of investments that gets categorised as alternative investments. Generally, investments in stocks or bonds or fixed deposits or real’ estate are. considered as traditional investments’ and AIF refers to private equity and hedge funds. In India, AIFs are defined in Regulation 2(1) (b) of SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012. It refers to any privately pooled investment fund (whether from Indian or foreign sources), in the form of a trust or a company or a body corporate or a Limited liability Partnership (LLP). AIFs bring significant benefit^to the Indian economy. If the


regulatory issues are ‘streamlined, AIFs can attract large capital flows to potentially reach a size of as much as 2 percent of the GDP.

Draft report of R.V. Easwar Committee to simplify Income-tax Act, 1961 released : Union Ministry of Finance on January 18, 2016 released the draft report of Justice R.V. Easwar (Retd.) Committee to simplify the provisions of Income-tax Act, 1961. The draft recommendations of the 10-member committee contain 27 suggestions for amendments under the Income-tax Act, 1961 and 8 recommendations for reform through administrative instructions. The draft report recommends to facilitate speedier disposal of tax disputes. It recommends amendment to Section 255(3) to enhance the monetary limit for Single Member Bench (SMC) cases before the Tribunal to Rs. 1 crore from the present Rs. 15 lakhs; Amendment to Section 254(2) to reduce the time-limit for rectification of orders of the Tribunal from the present four years to 120 days; and deletion of Section 143(1D) — Avoiding undesirable delay in issue of refunds

According to the committee, the recommendations to promote ease of doing business and simplify procedures are— Tax deduction at source (TDS) rates for individuals and Hindu undivided families (HUFs) to be reduced to 5 percent as against the present 10 percent; Proposal for certain amendments in rule 30 and 31 in relation to time and mode of payment of TDS and filing of statement of TDS under the provisions of section 200; A presumptive income scheme for professionals should be launched. The presumptive tax is levied on an estimated income; Deferment of Income Computation and Disclosure Standards (ICDS) to make the process of refunds faster; Exemption to non-residents not having Permanent Account Number (PAN), but who furnish their Tax Identification Number (TIN) in their country of residence from the applicability of TDS at a higher rate under section 206AA; Amendment to section 23JjC to provide relief where a new business is started during the financial year; Grant of timely refund with interest and also providing for payment of higher interest in case of delayed refund; and Release of property attached under section 281B on submission of bank guarantee.

The R.V. Easwar Committee was constituted on October 27,’ 2015 to study and identify the provisions/phrases in the- Income-tax Act, 1961. The committee was also mandated to suggest measures to-improve the ease of doing business, reduce’ litigation and accelerate the resolution of tax disputes. The constitution of the committee is in tune with the Government’s intention to reform the taxation processes, both direct and indirect, that have been long overdue for decades. While the’ R.V Easwar Committee was focused on the indirect tax regime, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Constitution Amendment Bill, 2015, which is pending with the Rajya Sabha, is aimed at overhauling the indirect tax structure.

India saved $1 billion annually using Aadhaar: World Bank : Hailing India’s Aadhaar digital ID, the World Bank on January 14, 2016 announced that India saved $1 billion annually by using Aadhaar. It was revealed in the bank’s publication World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends’ that was

revenue of domestic airlines, and a 4% reduction in fuel cost adds around 2 percentage points to the operating margin of airlines. The year has been splendid for aviation industry and has been driven by lower fares on the back of cheap oil.

E-filings of ITR surge 27% during April-December : With the Income Tax Department taking a host of technology- based measures, e-filing of returns witnessed a jump of 27.22% in the nine months up to December of the current fiscal. A total of 3.09 crore returns were electronically filed during April to December period as against 2.43 crore in the comparable period last year, the latest figures available from the Income-tax Department showed. In the 2014-15 financial year, a total of 3.41 crore returns were filed electronically. The new e-filing system, operationalised last year, allows online verification of a person’s ITR (Income Tax Return), thereby ending the practice of sending paper acknowledgement to the Centralised Processing Centre (CPC) of the IT Department located in Bengaluru. The department recently included bank account and demat account details among the modes that can be used to generate code to e-verify ITRs. The ITR could also be e-verified by using Internet banking, email or an Aadhaar number-generated One Time Password. There were about 52.12 lakh ITRs which were e-verified, as per the latest available data. The Aadhaar database is also being used by the taxman to verify taxpayers’ credentials. As per the latest data, there were 40,34,880 Aadhaar-PAN-linked returns.

The department initiated these new technology-based measures in order to fully automate the e-filing system and also to end taxpayers’ grievances with regard to their ITR-V not reaching by post which led to their returns getting rejected. E-filing offers convenience of time and place to tax payers. This facility is available round the clock and returns can be filed from any place in the world.

Government approves 5 projects with grant of Rs. 175 crore : The Union Government on February 1, 2016 approved five projects leading to further enhancement in the competitiveness of the Indian Capital Goods Sector and giving impetus to the Make in India campaign of the Prime Minister. The Government support in form of grant of about Rs. 175 crore will be given from a scheme of the Department of Heavy Industry titled “Enhancement of Global Competitiveness of Indian Capital Goods Sector”. Launched in November, 2014, the scheme has an ouday of Rs. 975 crore including grant component of Rs. 580 crore. The first project relates to a joint venture between the Government of India and the Government of Karnataka. Under this, 500 acres of land has been earmarked for the first of its kind Integrated Machine Tools Park to be set up near the Japanese Park in NM3Z, Tumkur. The project cost of Rs. 421 crore will be partially met from the Government of India grant support of Rs. 125 crore. The Government support will enable raising quality of industrial infrastructure to global levels. The park mil house 117 machine tools units. When implemented fully, the park is expected to double Indian turnover of machine tools to Rs. 9,000 crore, with matching saving in imports/ forex. More than one lakh jobs in primary and secondary manufacturing sectors as well as in commercial/ administrative arena will be created. The uniqueness of the park is the global class of industrial infrastructure in plug and play model. A number of MSMEs as well as start-ups will also come up in the space reserved for them. The initiative is expected to serve as an example and role model for global-level industrial facilities amidst the Centre-State cooperation. A major constraint faced by the industry relating to low-quality industrial infrastructure, will thus be over.

The second project relates to setting up of a welding technology Centre of Excellence in PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore. In order to give fillip to the quality and numbers of welding professionals required for ‘Make in India’, PSG has proposed to set up a modern welding technology centre of excellence in collaboration with major stakeholders like Welding Research Institute, Manufacturers of welding equipment/ products and FICCI, etc. The Centre of Excellence will support Indian manufacturers by providing latest technologies developed by the Centre for home-made welding machine tools, consumables and locally trained manpower particularly in high-end welding jobs required by strategic sectors. The total budget excluding land and building (to be provided by PSG) is estimated to be Rs. 26.7 crore. Out of this, the government will provide Rs. 21.10 crore and the rest will be provided by the industry and the institute.

The third approval has been given to HMT Machine Tools Limited, a PSU, which pioneered setting up and growth of machine tool industry in India. HMT is modernising its product portfolio through this proposal by manufacturing latest lathe and turning mill centre. For this, they are collaborating with M/s Fraunhofer of Germany, the leading industrial technology development institute of the world. As a result, HMT will be in a position to supply most modern and latest range of machines to Railways, Defence, Shipping, Aviation and Aerospace etc. A grant of Rs. 1.54 crores will be given to the company. This will be the first step by the company towards technology modernisation. n

The fourth proposal is from HEC, Ranchi—a Central PSU in the area of manufacture of heavy engineering equipment. Set up with the erstwhile USSR collaboration, HEC remains the premier PSU making heavy engineering equipment, with few parallels in the world. Under the present approval, HEC has collaborated with Messrs CNIITMASH—a Russian government Industrial Technology Research Institute. The importance of the collaboration is in the fact that after several decades, closely held and strategically significant technologies will again flow to the public sector in India. The proposal is for imparting training to 1,350 engineers in three years in the latest technologies relating to electro slag re-melting, welding, gear box manufacturing and non-destructive testing. The project size is envisaged at Rs. 50 crores, out of which the Government component will be Rs. 30 crores, which will be given to the Russian institute for their knowledge support in creating the four training centres. HEC will sign MoU with other stake­holders’ units and run nine courses for the benefit of Indian manufacturing sector. Once implemented, the trained persons will be involved in manufacturing steel, welding, gear box anc NDT saving crores of precious foreign exchange. H32

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