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Petrol, Diesel Prices At Record High, Petrol Crosses ₹ 100 Mark In Mumbai

NEW DELHI, May 29. In the national capital, petrol prices were raised by 26 paise from Rs 93.68 per litre to ₹ 93.94 per litre, while diesel prices were increased by 28 paise from ₹ 84.61 per litre to ₹ 84.89 per litre, according to Indian Oil Corporation.

This is the 15th increase in fuel prices since May 4, when state-run oil refiners ended an 18-day hiatus in rate revision observed during assembly elections in states such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal.

Petrol crossed the ₹ 100 mark in Mumbai and the new petrol prices in the financial capital stand at ₹ 100.19 per litre. Diesel is retailed at ₹ 92.17 per litre in Mumbai.

Moreover, the petrol rates had already crossed the ₹ 100-mark in several cities of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Fuel rates vary across the states in the country due to value-added tax or VAT.

The state-run oil marketing companies including Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum, and Hindustan Petroleum align the rates of domestic fuel with that of global crude oil prices by taking into account any changes in the foreign exchange rates. Any changes in fuel prices are implemented with effect from 6 am every day.

Meanwhile, on Friday, May 28, Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, advanced 0.30 per cent to $ 69.67 per barrel. The rupee continued its three-day winning streak to gain 15 paise at 72.45 against the US dollar on Friday.

Global trade soars in first quarter, but services still in doldrums

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, May 19: Global trade bounced back to a record high early this year, although service industries are still a shadow of their pre-pandemic selves, UN economists UNCTAD said on Tuesday.

According to new data from UNCTAD, the value of goods trade surpassed pre-pandemic levels during the first quarter of 2021, up 10 per cent year-on-year.

Exports from East Asian economies have driven this rebound – particularly China, but other developing regions and countries including Russia have seen trade recover more slowly.

This rebound is expected to continue into the second quarter of the year, with the combined value of goods and services reaching $6.6 trillion.

That’s about three per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels of 2019, said UNCTAD’s Global Trade Update, which also predicted that the economies of China and the United States of America will likely be the main drivers of global growth in coming months.

This should also have positive effects on countries which trade with the US and China, such as East Asian countries, Canada and Mexico, the UN body said, adding that the COVID-19 crisis is expected to continue disrupting trade in many developing countries “at least throughout 2021”.

UNCTAD cautioned that its positive outlook for 2021 was “largely dependent” on countries continuing to subsidise pandemic restrictions.

“Nevertheless, the fiscal stimulus packages, particularly in developed countries, are expected to strongly support the global trade recovery throughout 2021,” it said.

“Global trade has recorded a faster recovery from the recession caused by the pandemic than in the last two trade recessions”, said UNCTAD economist Alessandro Nicita, who worked on the report.

He said it took four quarters after the start of the pandemic-induced recession for world trade to return to pre-recession levels.

It took 13 quarters for global trade to recover from the 2015 recession, which resulted from structural changes in East Asian economies and declines in commodity prices, and nine quarters to bounce back from the 2009 recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Government extends FY21 ITR filing deadline for individuals till Sep 30

NEW DELHI, May 20: The government on Thursday extended the due date of filing income tax returns for 2020-21 for individuals by two months till September 30.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has also extended the ITR filing deadline for companies by a month till November 30.

As per the income tax law, for individuals whose accounts are not required to be audited and who usually file their income tax return using ITR-1 or ITR-4 forms the deadline to file ITR is July 31. The deadline for taxpayers, like companies or firms, whose accounts are required to be audited is October 31.

In a circular, the CBDT said an extension of time limits is being given for certain tax compliances “to provide relief to taxpayers in view of the severe pandemic”.

Also, the deadline for issuing Form 16 by employers to employees has been extended by a month till July 15, 2021, the CBDT said.

The due date for filing the tax audit report and transfer pricing certificate has been extended by a month till October 31 and November 30, respectively. For filing belated or revised return of income, the due date is now January 31, 2022.

Besides, the deadline for financial institutions to furnish the Statement of Financial Transaction (SFT) report has been extended till June 30, from May 31, 2021.

Nangia & Co LLP Partner Shailesh Kumar said the extension of due dates is likely to provide some relief to taxpayers on the tax compliance front.

“However, for taxpayers, whose entire income tax liability is not discharged by TDS and advance tax and such shortfall is more than Rs 1 lakhs, they should endeavour to file their ITR within respective original due date to avoid the charge of interest u/s 234A, which is charged on filing ITR beyond the original due date at the rate of 1 per cent per month for every month/ part thereof after the original due date of filing ITR,” Kumar added.

The CBDT had on April 1 notified forms for filing I-T returns for 2020-21 fiscal, and said that keeping in view the ongoing crisis due to COVID pandemic and to facilitate the taxpayers, no significant change has been made in comparison to the last year’s ITR Forms. The new ITR forms ask taxpayers if they are opting for a new tax regime.

For the 2020-21 fiscal, the government had given taxpayers the option to choose a new tax regime under section 115BAC of the I-T Act.

The new I-T slabs would be for individuals not availing or foregoing certain specified deductions or exemptions while computing total income for tax purpose.

Under this, annual income up to Rs 2.5 lakh is exempt from tax. Those individuals earning between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh will pay 5 per cent tax. Income between Rs 5 and 7.5 lakh will be taxed at 10 per cent, while those between Rs 7.5 and 10 lakh at 15 per cent.

Those earning between Rs 10 and 12.5 lakh will pay tax at the rate of 20 per cent, while those between Rs 12.5 and Rs 15 lakh will pay at the rate of 25 per cent. Income above Rs 15 lakh will be taxed at 30 per cent.

Fertiliser Subsidy Hiked by 140 per cent

NEW DELHI, May 19: The Centre will offer a whopping 140 per cent increase in subsidy on fertiliser to offset the price rise in international market, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office said today.

The government will spend an additional ₹ 14,775 crore towards this subsidy, pushing the total to around ₹ 95,000 crore.

"Prime Minster Narendra Modi has said farmers should get fertilisers at old rates despite the international price rise… The welfare of farmers is at the core of government's efforts," the PM's office said in a statement.

The government said the farmers will get a subsidy of ₹ 1,200 per bag of fertiliser instead of the current ₹ 500. With the hike in global process, the cost of a bag of DAP or Di-Ammonium Phosphate, is working out at ₹ 2,400. But the farmers will continue to get a bag of fertiliser at last year's prices, which is ₹ 1,200.

The Prime Minister's Office said it was the second major decision in farmers' interest, after the direct transfer of ₹ 20,667 crore in their account under PM-KISAN last month, on the day of Akshay Tritiya.

Earlier today, Congress's Rahul Gandhi had slammed the Prime Minister over the treatment to farmers, who have been sitting in protest at the borders of Delhi for seven months. The government has made it clear that their demand -- that the Centre's new farm laws be rolled back -- is unlikely to be met.

In a Hindi tweet, Mr Gandhi said:

"What did Modi government increase?
- GST and petrol diesel fertilizer prices
- Income of Modi's friends
- Annadata's torture even during a pandemic.
What is deductible?
- Agricultural subsidy
- Farmer's Income
- Dignity of the Central Government"

The decision on hiking the fertiliser subsidy came at a high-level meeting chaired by the Prime Minister this evening.

It was said the price of fertilisers is going up due to the rising prices of phosphoric acid, ammonia and other items internationally. The Prime Minister stressed that farmers "should get fertilisers at old rates" despite the international rise in prices, the statement read.

Calling it a "historic decision", the PM's Office said, "The amount of subsidy per bag has never been increased so much at once".

"Last year, the actual price of DAP was ₹ 1,700 per bag. In which the Central Government was giving a subsidy of ₹ 500 per bag. So the companies were selling fertilizer to farmers for ₹ 1200 per bag," the statement read.

"Recently, the international prices of phosphoric acid, ammonia etc. used in DAP have gone up by 60% to 70%. So the actual price of a DAP bag is now ₹ 2400, which could be sold by Fertilizer companies at ₹ 1900 after considering a subsidy of ₹ 500. With today's decision, farmers will continue to get a DAP bag for ₹ 1200," the statement added.

Modi remarked that his government is committed to the welfare of farmers and will take all efforts to ensure that they do not have to face the brunt of price-rise.

On 'Saturday Night Live', Elon Musk Reveals He Has Asperger's Syndrome

LOS ANGELES, May 9: Elon Musk kicked off his "Saturday Night Live" debut by declaring himself to be the first person with Asperger's syndrome to host the US comedy sketch show.

"Or at least, the first person to admit it," he said.

In his opening monologue, the eccentric tech entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX offered an explanation for some of his past eyebrow-raising behavior.

"Look, I know I say or post strange things but that's just how my brain works. To anyone I've offended I just want to say, I reinvented electric cars and I'm sending people to Mars in a rocket ship," he said. "Did you think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?"

Musk has previously drawn criticism for moves like publicly mocking the US Securities and Exchange Commission and calling a cave diver who rescued boys trapped in Thailand a "pedo guy".

But on SNL, the billionaire took swipes at his own expense. He joked about his tweets, his son's unusual name -- X Æ A-12 -- and that time he smoked weed on Joe Rogan's podcast.

And of course, as a big booster of cryptocurrencies, he once again enumerated the benefits of dogecoin.

Pressed on what exactly dogecoin is, Musk called the cryptocurrency -- which now has a market value of around $72 billion -- "an unstoppable vehicle that's going to take over the world".

But then he agreed that actually "it's a hustle".

For the second time in a week, the world's second-richest person seemed to drive the value of the digital asset. Not long after its recent surge after Musk's Twitter endorsement, it was sent on a brief tailspin during his SNL performance.

It dropped to as low as 49 cents during the broadcast after a pre-show high of about 74 cents, according to CoinDesk.

During the show, cast members wondered aloud why exactly the tech billionaire would want to join their set.

With a segment of a Chinese rocket re-entering Earth's atmosphere around the time of the live broadcast, they concluded that the spaceman "needed an alibi."

Indian pharma cos welcome patent waivers on COVID vaccines, says tech transfer needed to scale up

NEW DELHI, May 6: The Indian pharma industry welcomed the decision by the US government to support the temporary waiver of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on Covid-19 vaccines.

The industry said along with patent waivers, it is important to push for more licensing and tech transfer arrangements to expand production of COVID-19 vaccines.

The European Union (EU) too on Thursday said it is willing to discuss a proposal to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines.

"This is positive development, equitable distribution of vaccines around the world is very important to end the pandemic," said Sudarshan Jain, Secretary General of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA).

IPA represents large domestic pharmaceutical companies.

Jain cautioned that while temporary patent waivers will help to get the best out of manufacturing capabilities available around the world, only patent waivers may not be sufficient.

"We also need the technology to make it, patent waivers along with technology transfer would boost vaccine manufacturing," Jain added.

AstraZeneca-Serum Institute of India, Johnson & Johnson - Biological E, RDIF-Dr Reddy’s are some of the examples of collaboration between innovators and Indian vaccine makers.

Experts say India has a considerable knowledge base on vaccine platforms such as whole virion vaccines (inactivated or live virus), viral vectors and recombinant proteins. Here the patent waiver may not be of much help.

"The patent waiver may be useful for mRNA vaccines, the technology that is something new for Indian developers.

There are certain things that are not able to do now with mRNA vaccines will be possible," said Dr KV Balasubramaniam, a vaccine industry veteran and life science industry consultant.

Balasubramaniam says companies like Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals that's developing messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine may possibly benefit by patent waivers.

But Balasubramaniam warns that things won't be that easy as patent holders try to fence their vaccine manufacturing know-how by broad patent claims.

"For Indian companies to understand the specifics, break the barrier of knowledge, experiment - it would take 2-3 years," Balasubramaniam

Dr Sanjay Singh, CEO of Gennova Biopharmaceuticals hasn't responded to calls and messages.

"We still don't know the broad contours, but if the waiver is extended to manufacturing of adjuvants (the component that boost vaccine efficacy), some of the other key raw ingredients like certain enzymes, reagents, would definitely help," the executive said.

PhRMA, which represents America's leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies, opposed the US government decision to support patent waivers for COVID-19 vaccines.

"(The) decision will sow confusion between public and private partners, further weaken already strained supply chains and foster the proliferation of counterfeit vaccines," PhRMA said.

PhRMA companies are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested nearly 1 trillion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated USD83 billion in 2019 alone.

75 lakh people lose jobs in April as lockdowns sprout; unemployment at a 4-month high: CMIE chief

NEW DELHI, May 4: The second wave of COVID-19 and the resultant localised lockdowns have impacted over 75 lakh jobs, taking the unemployment rate to a four-month high of 8 per cent, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) said on May 3.

The situation on the employment front is expected to continue to remain challenging going forward as well, CMIE's managing director and chief executive Mahesh Vyas said.

“In the month of April, compared to March, we have lost 75 lakh jobs. That is what has caused the jump in the unemployment rate,” he said.

The national unemployment rate touched 7.97 percent as per the centre's proprietary data, with urban areas witnessing higher stress at 9.78 per cent and rural joblessness at 7.13 percent.

The national unemployment rate had stood at 6.50 per cent in March, and the number on both rural and urban front was lower.

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a slew of pockets going under lockdown-like situation with only essential activities being allowed, which result in a chill in a bulk of economic activities and a resultant impact on jobs.

“I do not know about the peaking of the COVID wave, but I can see stress on the employment front,” Vyas said.

What is likely to happen is that unemployment can remain at high levels, he said, adding that the labour force participation rate can also fall. “In worst situation, both can happen,” Vyas added.

He, however, said that the situation right now is not as dire as the one witnessed in the first lockdown, when the unemployment rate had touched up to 24 per cent levels.

The country is reporting around 4 lakh new infections a day and over 3,000 deaths. In an address to the nation last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had advised states to look at lockdowns as a last resort, because of its impact on economic activity.

Reserve Bank of India imposes Rs 3 crore penalty on ICICI Bank over rule violations

NEW DELHI, May 3: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on May 3 imposed a monetary penalty of Rs 3 crore on ICICI Bank for certain rule violations.

The penalty has been imposed for contravention of certain directions issued by the RBI on ‘Prudential Norms for Classification, Valuation and Operation of Investment Portfolio by Banks’, the central bank said in a release.

"This penalty has been imposed in exercise of powers vested in RBI under the provisions of section 47 A (1) (c) read with section 46 (4) (i) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 (the Act)," the RBI said.

This action is based on the deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers, the RBI said.

Explaining the action, the RBI said an examination revealed contravention of the aforesaid directions issued by the apex bank.

In furtherance to the same, a notice was issued to the bank advising it to show cause as to why penalty should not be imposed on it for failure to comply with the directions issued by the RBI.

After considering the bank’s reply to the notice, oral submissions made in the personal hearing and examination of additional submissions made by it, the RBI came to the conclusion that the aforesaid charge of non-compliance with RBI directions was substantiated and warranted imposition of monetary penalty, the central bank said.

In an update to stock exchanges, ICICI Bank said the penalty has been imposed for shifting certain investments from HTM (held to maturity) category to AFS (available for sale) category in May 2017.

The bank had transferred two separate categories of securities on two different dates from HTM to AFS in April and May of 2017, which it believed was permissible as per Master Circular on Prudential Norms for Classification, Valuation and Operation of Investment Portfolio by Banks' dated July 1, 2015, the bank said in the exchange note.

"The RBI has held that the shifting of securities the second time in May 2017 without explicit permission was in contravention of RBI directions," ICICI Bank said.

GST revenue hits all-time high of Rs 1.41 lakh crore in April

NEW DELHI, May 1: The gross GST revenue collected in the month of April is at a record high of Rs. 1,41,384 crore of which CGST is Rs. 27,837 crore, SGST is Rs. 35,621, IGST is ₹68,481 crore (including Rs. 29,599 crore collected on import of goods) and Cess is Rs. 9,445 crore (including Rs. 981 crore collected on import of goods).

"Despite the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic affecting several parts of the country, Indian businesses have once again shown remarkable resilience by not only complying with the return filing requirements but also paying their GST dues in a timely manner during the month," according to a statement by Ministry of Finance.

The GST revenues during April 2021 are the highest since the introduction of GST even surpassing collections in the last month (March’2021). In line with the trend of recovery in the GST revenues over past six months, the revenues for the month of April 2021 are 14% higher than the GST revenues in the last month of March’2021. During the month, the revenues from domestic transaction (including import of services) are 21% higher than the revenues from these sources during the last month.

GST revenues have not only crossed the Rs. 1 lakh crore mark during successively for the last seven months but have also shown a steady increase. These are clear indicators of sustained economic recovery during this period. Closer monitoring against fake-billing, deep data analytics using data from multiple sources including GST, Income-tax and Customs IT systems and effective tax administration have also contributed to the steady increase in tax revenue. Quarterly return and monthly payment scheme has been successfully implemented bringing relief to the small taxpayers as they now file only one return every three months. Providing IT support to taxpayers in the form of pre-filled GSTR 2A and 3B returns and ramped up System capacity have also eased the return filing process.

During this month the government has settled Rs. 29,185 crore to CGST and Rs. 22,756 crore to SGST from IGST as regular settlement. The total revenue of Centre and the States after regular and ad-hoc settlements in the month of April’ 2021 is Rs. 57,022 crore for CGST and Rs. 58,377 crore for the SGST.





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