The Economic Times 31 March 2018

Know what will be cheaper or costlier for you from tomorrow

NEW DELHI: From tomorrow, a number of goods will become cheaper or costlier due to change in taxes. Though taxes on most of the goods are now decided by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, but imported goods come under custom duties which are part of the Budget and fixed by the finance minister. Budget 2018, which was presented on February 1, had made several proposals regarding custom duties. These changes will come in effect from April 1. Below is a list of imported items that will become costlier: * Mobile phones * Silver * Gold * Vegetable, fruit juices, including orange and cranberry * Sunglasses * Miscellaneous food preparations other than soya protein * Sunscreen, suntan, manicure, pedicure preparations * Preparations for oral dental hygiene, denture fixative pastes and powders; dental floss * Pre-shave, shaving or after-shave preparations, * Deodorants, bath preparations, depilatories, perfumery * Scent sprays and similar toilet sprays * Truck and Bus radial tyres * Silk Fabrics * Footwear * Coloured gemstones * Diamonds * Imitation jewellery * Smart watches/wearable devices * LCD/ LED TV panels * Furniture * Mattresses * Lamps * Wrist watches, pocket watches, clocks * Tricycles, scooters, pedal cars, wheeled toys, dolls' carriages, dolls, toys, puzzles of all kinds * Video game consoles * Articles and equipment for sports or outdoor games, swimming pools and paddling pools * Cigarette and other lighters, candles * Kites * Edible/vegetable oils such as olive oil, groundnut oil The following is the list of imported items that will become cheaper:* Raw cashew nuts * Solar-tempered glass * Raw materials, parts or accessories used in making cochlear implants * Select capital goods and electronics such as ball screws and linear motion guides

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How Modi government plans to make money out of scamsters' seized assets 

NEW DELHI: India has begun discussions on amending its anti-money laundering framework so that an agency can be mandated to commercially manage seized assets worth thousands of crores of rupees such as farm land, prime property and luxury cars. The assets will generate income for the government rather than lying unused and going to waste until cases are decided.The issue has gained urgency after law enforcement agencies confiscated the assets of jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi following the Rs 14,000-crore Punjab National Bank fraud they are embroiled in as well as those seized as part of the recent Rose Valley pyramid scheme.“Rules have to be amended under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA),” said a senior finance ministry official. “We are discussing with stakeholders.” ET had in its November 21edition reported on the thinking about roping in an agency to manage these assets. 63552767 These will be finalised after consultations, the official said. The department of revenue in the finance ministry is working on the details. New provisions may be inserted in the rules dealing with attachment, adjudication and confiscation under the laundering law.There have been discussions with NBCC, a state-run construction company, as a possible asset manager, the person said. The Enforcement Directorate administers PMLA and has powers to attach properties and assets under the law. Changes to rules can allow government to nominate any agency to commercially maintain these.Unproductive AssetsHowever, there is a view that provisions need to be amended to provide legal strength to such a mechanism. ED has such seized assets of more than Rs 30,000 crore. The government is keen that all such assets should be put to commercial use until their fate is decided by the judiciary. This would help the government earn revenue and preserve the value of assets.In the PNB case, ED has seized assets worth Rs 7,600 crore. The income tax department has seized 31 immovable properties in the names of Modi, his wife and various group concerns, 141 bank accounts/fixed deposits of the group with cumulative credit balance of Rs 145.74 crore and 173 paintings. In the case of the Mehul Choksi Group, the income tax department has attached seven immovable properties, land, buildings and fixed assets of Rs 1,278 crore and bank accounts having a balance of Rs 101.78 crore.In one of its biggest hauls, ED on March 29 attached assets worth Rs 2,300 crore, including two dozen hotels and resorts in the Rose Valley pyramid scam case under PMLA. One of the single-largest attachments of property under the law, it included 11 resorts, nine hotels, a plot of about 200 acres and 414 land parcels spread across West Bengal.

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India puts more feet on ground, ups vigil in Arunachal to keep China in check

India has deployed more troops and significantly increased patrolling in the mountainous terrains of Dibang, Dau-Delai and Lohit valleys along the borders with China in the Tibetan region in Arunachal sector following the Doklam face-off, the most tense military confrontations between the two countries in decades. Military officials said India is also strengthening its surveillance mechanism to keep an eye on Chinese activities along the borders in the strategically sensitive Tibetan region and has even been regularly deploying choppers to carry out recce. They said India has been focusing on dominating the treacherous terrains which include snow-clad mountains at an altitude of over 17,000 feet, and river passes, as part of a strategy to counter China's rising assertiveness along the border in Dibang, Dau-Delai and Lohit valleys. Post Doklam, we have increased our activities manifold. We are fully prepared to deal with any challenge, said an army officer posted in Kibithu, the eastern most village on India's border with China's Tibetan region. The official said the Army has been enhancing its Long Range Patrols (LRPs) where troops in small groups go for patrols for 15-30 days as part of an overall approach to maintain the sanctity of the Line of Actual Control, the de-facto border between India and China. Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day standoff in Doklam from June 16 last year after the Indian side stopped building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. The face-off ended on August 28. We have increased our deployment of troops while focusing on all the strategically important areas including a tri-junction among India, China and Myanmar, said the official who wished not to be quoted as he is not authorised to speak to the media. The official said China has been ramping up its infrastructure development along India's border, particularly in the Tibetan region and there was a need for India to enhance its road network for quick movements of troops. The Army uses a foot suspension bridge to carry its military supplies to its Kibithu post, considered very important from operational point of view, as the only road connecting the East bank of Lohit river with West bank remains closed due to landslides for most part of the year. However, a senior official of the Border Roads Organisation said a number of roads including one to connect the Dibang Valley with Lohit Valley has been finalised which will improve the inter-valley connectivity in Arunachal. China has been laying new roads and improving its overall infrastructure along the nearly 4,000 km long border with India. Earlier this month, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said China has undertaken construction of helipads, sentry posts and trenches for its army personnel near Doklam. Sources said China has been keeping its troops in north Doklam and significantly ramping up its infrastructure in the disputed area. In January, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat had said the time had come for India to shift its focus from borders with Pakistan to the frontier with China, indicating the seriousness of the situation.

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Meet the woman Paytm is banking on for banking

Let’s start with how a Payments Bank, technically a stripped down version of a normal commercial bank has the odds stacked against it: Firstly, it can’t lend. Secondly, it can’t collect deposits above Rs. 1 lakh.Now, let’s see how Renu Satti, managing director and CEO of Paytm Payments Bank, upended the ‘abnormal’ into ‘normal.’ Much like any other ‘normal’ bank, Paytm Bank can lend by tying up with partner banks. Secondly, while consumers can’t have deposits above `1 lakh by end of the day, “there’s no limit on the intra-day transaction,” grins Satti. Paytm Bank has partnered with Induslnd Bank to create a fixed deposit when a user’s balance exceeds a lakh, redeemable without pre-closure or miscellaneous charges.Every problem, reckons Satti, comes with a solution. The key is to hunt for it rather than get bogged down by hurdles. Paytm Bank in particular is geared around disruptive solutions says Satti. She defines it as not adding more features but a product that is very simple enough for customers to understand quickly and use. “For consumers, Paytm bank is a bank,” she says. They are not bothered with distinctions between commercial and payments banks if they get the services they expect.With no minimum balance requirement, zero charges on digital transactions, availability of virtual and physical debit card and 4% interest on savings accounts, Paytm Bank is making a valiant bid to prove that a payments bank can not only function but also make money like any other bank. Take, for instance, its innovation in rolling out partner outlets -- Paytm Ka ATM -- for opening bank accounts, and making cash deposits and withdrawals. While the first phase saw over 3,000 such points in cities including Delhi NCR, Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Aligarh, the target is to take it to one lakh.Paytm Payments Bank, reckon marketing experts, is uniquely positioned to make the most of the massive brand equity that Paytm as a wallet enjoys. From rolling out corporate food wallets, to opening salaried accounts to corporate banking, Paytm is trying to leverage its financial background across services.Ashita Aggarwal, head of marketing at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, believes Paytm is poised to ride the ‘dual trend’ wave. Like two televisions, two ACs and two cars, having two bank accounts is the new norm.“It’s easy for wallet users to make a seamless transition into a bank account,” she says. “The huge catchment area that a wallet provides will help Paytm churn out big numbers,” she adds. Another area where Paytm as a bank stands to gain is its focus on bottom of the pyramid. “They are not fighting for the attention of creamy layer,” she observes.The intention is to get unbanked into the mainstream. “Still there are crores who are either fed up with sarkari banks or are considered untouchables by pricey private ones,” Aggarwal contends, pointing out how Paytm Bank has been working in this area.In February, Paytm Bank tied up with Mumbai Dabbawala Association, wherein around 5,000 dabbawalas would get to collect instant payments using Paytm QR.“That’s the kind of opportunity Paytm has,” she adds.To fintech experts, the success of Paytm’s Bank will be closely tied to the success of the initial licensees. “Financial services are a business oftrust,” reckons Sanjay Swamy, managing partner at Prime Venture Partners. A payment bank will be key to establishing this, and could potentially result in greater success for other services, or even with international expansion.Apart from competition from traditional banks, the bigger challenge will be the ability to innovate on banking and offer a differentiated product. “That will require a strong technology platform combined with a willingness to grow but not at all cost,” he cautions.Satti, for her part, asserts that Paytm Bank is not a conventional bank. “It’s a technology company in a banking avatar,” she laughs, adding “That’s the biggest differentiator and disruptor.” The unrelentingfocus, claims Paytm, is roping in unserved and underserved Indians. The target: 500 million customers by 2020.But can this be achieved? Satti exudes confidence. “The biggest wallet tag didn’t come overnight. Biggest Payments Bank label too will also take time. But it will come for sure,” she signs off.

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Electronics ministry moots duties on key smartphone component: Sources

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: The government is exploring new duties on the import of a key smartphone component, according to two sources, the latest in a series of moves aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing in the world's second-biggest smartphone market.The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has mooted a proposal to levy a 10 percent duty on the import of populated printed circuit boards (PCBs), two government officials told Reuters this week, declining to be named as the matter is not public.A PCB is a bed for key components such as processors, memory and wireless chip sets that are the heart of an electronic device. Once populated with components, PCBs account for about half the cost of a smartphone. Currently, most manufacturers of smartphones import PCBs which are already loaded with components to India and then assemble them locally.If India's finance ministry clears the recommendation on new duties, these could be levied in a matter of days, say government and industry sources, thus making populated PCB imports more expensive and pushing players to locally mount components instead.India's finance, electronics and trade ministries did not respond to requests for comment.In the near-term, such actions could spur players like Apple Inc to widen their limited manufacturing and assembly capabilities in India and give an edge to those like Korea's Samsung Electronics and homegrown firm Lava, which already have machines to mount components onto PCBs.Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.China's OPPO is also putting up surface mounting machines in a new facility it is building in north India, a company executive told Reuters in a recent interview. The local unit of Foxconn, one of the biggest global contract manufacturers of electronics, also has the capability, according to two industry sources.Foxconn was not immediately reachable for comment."This will be a step in a good direction. This is how full-scale manufacturing happens," said S.N. Rai, co-founder of Lava, adding the move will gradually also boost local production of components such as smartphone cameras and screens.MANUFACTURING AMBITIONSThe move, if implemented, would be the latest step in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's phased manufacturing programme (PMP), a plan unveiled in 2016 to step up local value addition every year in the smartphone manufacturing space.About 134 million smartphones were sold in India last year, the world's second-biggest market after China.Modi's government has since raised duties on a range of low-value items such as batteries and chargers and on imported phones.Any move to impose duties on populated PCBs, however, could risk a backlash from several countries and heighten trade war concerns. China, Canada and the United States among others last week raised concerns at the World Trade Organization around India's imposition of duties on such devices.In its annual budget last month, India's government outlined higher duties on products including imported smartphones and a range of components.Modi hopes to turn India into a global manufacturing hub in a bid to boost growth and create tens of millions of new jobs.While his flagship 'Make in India' drive is still a long way from delivering on lofty job promises, Modi has had some success with the PMP. Over 100 local factories currently assemble mobile phones and accessories like chargers, batteries, powerbanks and earphones in India, says tech research firm Counterpoint.The PMP currently envisions local assembly of camera modules and printed circuit boards in the fiscal year beginning April 1, according to a public electronics ministry document."India has a plan to raise duties for all components bit by bit," said Tarun Pathak an associate director with Counterpoint, adding this will gradually force more domestic manufacturing.

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Sonalika crosses the 1 lakh milestone in annual sales in FY18

Sonalika International Tractors Limited (ITl) grew by 22% to sell 100,001 tractors in the current financial year. The company recorded a robust growth of 56% in the last quarter FY’18, surpassing the overall growth registered in the industry. In March, the company increased sales by a whopping 80% to sell a total of 12,791 tractors. Raman Mittal, Executive Director Sonalika ITL stated, “In FY’13, when we sold 50,853 tractors, we set a vision for ourselves to achieve the 1 lakh milestone by FY’18....We started making customized products best suited for every state, every type of soil conditions and multiple applications like puddling, orchard farming, potato farming, rotavator, cultivator and many more. It was a simple objective but required very complex solution, it meant having more than 1000+ variants with most advanced technology at a competitive price which has resulted in widest product range from 20-120HP.”The company is looking forward for a favorable weather in 2018. Favorable monsoons, combined with the government’s pro-agriculture allocation should enable the industry to grow at a steady pace, Mittal said. “With the growth trend seen in Q4, we are confident to continue this growth momentum, surpassing industry growth.”

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Don’t fear this volatility; use it as an opportunity to invest: Kedia

In an interview, with Rahul Oberoi of ETMarkets.com, on the sidelines of ETMGS, ace-investor Vijay Kedia shares his market mantra, the outlook for the Indian market and the theme he is bullish on. Edited excerpts:ETMarkets.com: Can you throw some light on your investment philosophy?Vijay Kedia: My investment philosophy is very simple. You find a good, honest management and see the product in which the management is going to grow and outperform its peers and economy. You invest in those companies for the next 10 to 15 years and you cannot go wrong. This philosophy is very simple. And as they say, investing is also very simple but not easy because implementing simple processes is actually difficult.ETMarkets.com: Besides your stock strategies, our investors would also like to know more about your lifestyle. You sing and do yoga is what we know. What else is it that you do?Vijay Kedia: I have a very simple lifestyle and there are four pillars in my life. There are four Ms you can say. One M stands for music. I am very fond of music. You can even say that music is in my blood. The second M stands for meditation, which is part of the yoga that I do. Third M is for market. Of course, I cannot live without market. It does not mean that I am trading on a daily or hourly basis but market is in my vein. The fourth M stands for my wife, Manju.ETMarkets.com: As an investor, can you suggest some stocks and sectors you are bullish on right now?Vijay Kedia: If you ask me, I think India in itself is a sector. India is a theme I am bullish on. I have invested in many sectors, so I am not looking at the theme as a sector. It is a bottom-up approach and you would certainly like to extract few names from me, so these are my old investments– Sudarshan Chemical and Vaibhav Global. I had also invested in Karnataka Bank, although I did sell a part of my investment. But I think the stock has become cheap. These are my old investments and are not recommendations. It is just where I have invested.ETMarkets.com: Markets has seen some correction in the recent past. In the light of this, what is your outlook for the Indian equity markets for next three to five years?Vijay Kedia: Undoubtedly, the outlook for the next three to five years is very bullish. Leave three, four, five or ten, I am bullish on the Indian equity markets for the next twenty years. As long as I will live, I will hold stocks in my portfolio. The companies may change but I am not going to part my money from stock market. Forget about the reaction; forget about quarterly numbers and quarterly performance. I was expecting this reaction to come in 2017. I was expecting the market to react for the last six months or more. Now it has started reacting. It is a good thing for the stability of the market. One should not worry about this volatility rather make it an opportunity to invest.

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NSE equipped to move beyond Indian shores: NSE Chair

The NSE is optimistic of its much-awaited IPO at the earliest. Chairman Ashok Chawla, in an interview with ETMarkets.com, revealed as much. For investors, he has a simple piece of advice -- rush in only with real understanding. He spoke at the recent ETMarkets Global Summit 2018.Here are the edited excerpts:Can one expect to see NSE IPO in the new financial year?Ashok Chawla: Well, we hope to be doing it as soon as we can. But as you are aware, the old matter which is being investigated is not yet settled. Once that is settled, we are geared up to for the IPO.Will Nifty futures go out of the SGX completely or will there be some proxy to replace it?Ashok Chawla: These are discussions which are taking place between our management and the Singapore authorities. Let us see how it works. Premature to give any final indication at this stage.Recently, the NSE made a bid for stake in an overseas exchange. So, can you tell us some bit about the overseas strategy?Ashok Chawla: Well, as you would know, we have done well in the Indian market. We feel that we are fully competent and equipped to move into other markets and provide the services that we have given to the Indian community. With that objective, the exchange looks at viable propositions elsewhere. Generally, all those come through transparent bidding processes. Wherever we feel it is appropriate, we will take that route and then see how it works for us.The primary market is a buzz again. What would be your one piece advice to investors going by the past experience?Ashok Chawla: Well, the advice is always the same. Good opportunities, but be cautious. Do not rush in without real understanding. Can one expect an early end to the co-location matter? Sebi has returned the consent settlement application.Ashok Chawla: Yes. I said that matter is not yet complete. We hope they do it in the near future. We are giving them all the information they need. We are talking to them and beyond that it is difficult to judge when this will come to an end.

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OnePlus to expand offline presence in 10 Indian cities

NEW DELHI: China-based smartphone manufacturer OnePlus, which entered India three years back, has become one of the biggest premium Android smartphone brands in the country and is now planning to expand its offline operations in 10 cities by the end of this year.The Shenzhen-headquartered company started its operations in India in December 2014 and has primarily been an online-only brand.The company captured 47.3 per cent of the premium smartphone market share and shipped 287,000 devices in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the International Data Corporation's (IDC) "Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker".OnePlus would continue with its online sales partner Amazon India and its own portal to sell its devices in the country."We will continue to focus on these two portals as our primary sales channels, but, going forward, we will be going offline in the top 10 cities where we are looking forward to opening our own stores," Vikas Agarwal, General Manager, OnePlus India, told IANS in an interview."We are not going through a traditional offline channel. We will be opening our own stores and focusing on providing experience which should help us increase awareness in those cities," Agarwal added.The handset maker debuted its first "experience store" in India in Bengaluru last year and contemplates expanding them to metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and other major cities by the end of 2018."We are almost as big as Apple in India now, which is currently the market leader in the premium segment," Agarwal added.During 2017, OnePlus grew by a staggering 1,116 per cent in the premium smartphone segment as it further strengthened its robust performance in the Indian online market.Another focus, said Agarwal, would be to increase the presence at e-retailer Croma stores."We recently partnered with Croma and are present in over 20 Croma stores. This year, we are going to expand our presence in the entire 100 stores that Croma has across different cities," the company executive said.The handset maker said its "OnePlus community" has helped it develop quality products."When we launched OnePlus One, we took feedback from our customers. It was taken into consideration when we developed our next product. Since then, we have maintained that level of engagement with our users," Agarwal noted.OnePlus also has a Beta testing group which tests software updates before the company releases it in the market."We organise offline meet-ups with this community," said Agarwal.OnePlus is yet to introduce its first device of 2018 which could sport a "notch" above the display, the company tweeted on Friday."This year, we are expecting OnePlus to continue to grow at a faster pace than the industry and the premium market. We expect OnePlus to outperform the market," Agarwal reiterated."If we talk about last year, OnePlus growth was more than 1,000 per cent compared to the previous year (2017 vs 2016), according to Counterpoint Research," he added.The handset maker believes the next big trend in the smartphone market would be enterprise-grade security and said it has already started working towards that."We have a 'files safety' feature which makes the files in your device secure and this is something which, I feel, would gain traction," Agarwal said.The company has introduced a feature called "LockBox" which secures files so that no one can use them without getting access from the device owner."Going forward, we will focus more on providing security in our devices," Agarwal added.OnePlus has its own customised Android software called "OxygenOS" which is one of fastest operating systems currently available.The company is currently setting up its own exclusive service centre network in the country. "We currently have 10 service centres operational and we are looking to open more this year," the executive said.

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