AIRTEL, VODAFONE & IDEA RACE AGAINST TIME TO READY CASE AGAINST IUC CUT
NEW DELHI: Top telecom operators are racing against time to build a strong case against the regulartor’s decision to lower the interconnect usage charge (IUC) by 57% to 6 paise. They plan to move court claiming ‘irreverisble damage’ to stall the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) plan, which comes into effect on October 1.
An industry executive said that the case or cases need to be filed by Friday latest to be heard on Monday, which is the earliest possible day to get a hearing, and carriers need to decide which of the high courts to approach. “They have to make a strong case as they will get just one shot at this”.
The top carriers have a small window – barely a week – before some courts take a break next week and resume much after the implementation date of Trai order.
“Telcos will go to the court keeping in mind that they have to get a stay and prove to the court that irreversible damage will happen if IUC of 6 paise is allowed in the way that it has been said in the regulation,” said Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents carriers in India.
Two senior industry executives further said that the companies were thoroughly scrutinising their strategies, especially the claims made by Trai around transparency, before moving court and will push to be heard before the next month begins.
“The strategy will be to oppose the regulation as one petition, seeking it to be struck down and the conjoined plea would be to grant an immediate stay on the regulation, which is going to financially impact the carriers,” one of the executives said.
IUC is a charge, also known as mobile termination charge, paid by a mobile operator originating a call to the network where it terminates.
GOVERNMENT EXTENDS LOW COST HOME SUBSIDY TO UNITS BUILT ON PRIVATE LAND
MUMBAI: The Centre on Thursday announced a new PPP (Private Public Partnership) policy to boost private investment in affordable housing that allows extending Central funds of up to Rs 2.50 lakh for each house to be built by private builders even on private land.
The policy, which also aims to open up immense potential for private investments in affordable housing projects on government landparcels in urban areas, gives eight PPP options for developers to invest in the segment, said the newly-appointed Union Urban Development and Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
“This policy seeks to assign risks among government, developers and financial institutions… besides leveraging underutilised and un-utilised private and public land parcels to meeting the Housing for All target by 2022,” Puri told an industry summit organised by real estate lobby Nardeco.
As per the new policy, the two PPP models for private investments in affordable housing on private landbanks include extending Central assistance of about Rs 2.50 lakh per unit as interest subsidy on bank loans as upfront payment under Credit Linked Subsidy Component of PM’s Awas Yojana in urban areas.
Under the second option, he said, Central assistance of Rs 1.50 lakh per each house built on private land would be provided, in case the beneficiaries do not take bank loans.
“The eight PPP options, including six for promoting affordable housing with private investments using government land have been evolved after extensive consultations with the states, promoter bodies and other stakeholders,” Puri said.
The other models include developing houses on design build and transfer model on government land, cross-subsidising this segment from revenues from high-end houses or commercial development, and annuity-based subsidised housing where builders will invest against deferred annuity payments by the government.
KHELPLAY EYES RS 1,000 CR REVENUE IN TWO YEARS
Mumbai, Sep 22 () Khelplay, an online card gaming company, said its volume stands at Rs 600 crore a year and with the launch of virtual games it may cross Rs 1,000 crore in the next two years.
“We have achieved market share of 10 per cent with 1 million people downloading our app. The current volumes of people playing card games on online platform stands at Rs 600 crore a year and we hope that with the virtual game of cricket to be launched soon, our revenues may cross Rs 1,000 crore in the next two-year period,” Khelplay director P K Jain said.
The online card playing market in India is growing at 20-25 per cent per annum. The company recently got a licence to launch poker on their platform, he said.
Khelplay is actively working on building fantasy games business in the near future. With this, Khelplay would emerge as a complete gaming company offering a wide variety of games in the industry, Jain said.
The company said earlier 75 per cent of the players used laptops and 25 per cent mobile phones. But now the ratio has exactly reversed to 75 per cent playing on mobiles and 25 per cent on laptops.
SAIL EYES HIGHER MARKET SHARE ON SURGING STEEL DEMAND:CHAIRMAN
New Delhi, Sep 22 () Armed with latest technologies and higher product mix, SAIL aims to tap big into the steel demand in India, which is projected to become “the fifth- largest economy” this year, its Chairman P K Singh said.
Addressing the 45th annual general meeting of the state- owned Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Singh said the steel demand in India will witness a significant growth in future, given the current stage of development in Indian economy.
The World Steel Association, in its short range outlook, has forecast 6.1 per cent growth in steel consumption for India in 2017, the SAIL chief added.
According to Singh, the domestic steel demand is improving on the back of government policies and developmental goals, and SAIL is expeditiously equipping itself to serve market requirements fully and claim a broader market share.
“SAIL with newer and better technologies at its disposal aims to leverage potential of growth in steel demand by operating at rated capacities, product differentiation and customer satisfaction,” Singh said.
The chairman also shared the company’s efforts towards product value addition.
“SAIL has done significant value addition in its product mix, with higher grades of steel… from Rourkela Steel Plant’s new plate mill for the oil and gas sector, SAIL HT-600 for the automotive sector and high strength LPG steel grade from Bokaro Steel Plant, etc,” Singh said.
RBI MAY REVISE DOWN GVA GROWTH FORECAST, KEEP RATES ON HOLD
New Delhi, The Reserve Bank is expected to revise down its GVA growth projection for this financial year at its upcoming meet on October 4, but policy rates are likely to stay unchanged, says a Nomura report.
According to the Japanese financial services major, further easing in policy rates is unlikely as momentum of core inflation has been much higher than expected and because the growth slowdown is due to non-monetary factors.
“Risks to the RBI’s GVA growth forecast of 7.3 per cent this fiscal are clearly tilted to the downside, and we expect this to be revised down at the upcoming policy meeting,” Nomura said in a research note.
According to Nomura, though investment and industrial sector activities have improved, they are still fairly subdued.
STIMULUS PACKAGE SHOULD FOCUS ON RAISING CAPEX: RANGARAJAN
New Delhi, Sep 22 () Former RBI Governor C Rangarajan said the stimulus package being contemplated by the government to boost economy should focus on raising capital expenditure to catalyse private investment.
He also made a case for recapitalisation of public sector banks (PSBs) so that they could provide more funding to the private sector.
Speaking on the sidelines of an Assocham conference, he said that India would need to grow by at least 7 per cent in the remaining three quarters of the current fiscal to achieve a growth rate of 6.5 per cent in the current fiscal.
On demonetisation, he said adequate preparation by the central bank could have reduced the pain which people had to undergo on account of ban on high value notes last November.
“To me it looks like it (growth) has bottomed out, now it will pick up. But even to get 6.5 per cent (growth) for the year as a whole, the economy needs to grow at 7 per cent in the next three quarters.
“So my own estimate is that for the year as a whole, probably the rate of growth will be 6.5 per cent,” he said.
Responding to questions on the stimulus package, he said it should focus on increasing public expenditure with the aim to reinvigorate private investments.
LOOKING AT WAYS TO ENSURE TIMELY REFUND OF TAXES: FINMIN
New Delhi, Sep 22 () The committee on exports set up by the GST Council is looking at ways to ensure timely refund of taxes, if necessary through manual procedure, the finance ministry said.
It has also asked states as well as central government authorities to expeditiously clear the pre-GST refund claims of central excise and VAT, “so that the exporters will get immediate relief”.
Regarding the refund under the Goods and Services Tax regime, the ministry said in a statement that the committee is trying to find a way of giving refund by linking GSTR 1 with GSTR 3B forms.
While GSTR-3B is the initial simplified return which businesses have to file, GSTR-1 is the final sales return to be filed every month.
For July, where GSTR 1 form has been already filed by businesses, it said the authorities would be in a position to process the refund applications.
“Therefore, the exporters, who have not yet filed form GSTR 1 for July, may be advised to file it immediately and not to wait till the deadline,” the ministry said, adding that GSTN application for refund is also getting ready.
It said the committee is also finding other ways of giving refunds, “if necessary through a manual procedure”.
It said lot of people are speculating that refund for inputs in case of exports under GST will be available only when regular form GSTR 3 is filed for every month, but “this is not the case”.
The committee have discussed various methods of resolving the issue of blockage of funds for the exporters.
Earlier this week, it had interacted with the exporters of eight sectors who made detailed presentations on the problems being faced by them.
The committee, it said, would present the solution to the problems before the GST Council as soon as possible.
It also allayed the apprehensions expressed in the media about the problem of blockage of working capital for exporters post-GST.
NEW AGE INSURERS ACKO, DIGIT GET FINAL NOD
MUMBAI: Two new-age non-life insurers – Acko and Digit Insurance have received the final approval from the insurance regulator to do business in India. Both companies are relying on their technology platforms to differentiate themselves and plan to replicate the e-commerce service experience that customers are used to.
Acko is digital-only non-life company promoted by Varun Dua, founder of online insurance brokerage Coverfox and backed by Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures. Digit Insurance is started by Kamesh Goyal, former head of Bajaj Allianz in India and is backed by Fairfax Group.
Speaking to ToI, Dua said that Acko will adopt a risk-based pricing for retail covers such as motor and health insurance as against the flat pricing strategy followed by incumbents. He said that the company’s digital distribution platform would enable it to cut down costs and pass on benefits to customers with a better risk profile. Acko will mine and analyse data to draw a more accurate risk profile and in future would also use telematics, which involves using a device or mobile app to track driving patterns for vehicle insurance.
Digit has already raised Rs 350cr which is one of the highest capital that any insurance company commenced its operations with, in the country. Acko is starting with a paid up capital of Rs 200 crore with 48% coming from foreign investors. “Some strategic investors, which include global insurance players, have shown interest,” Dua said.
Acko plans to start selling insurance by December 2017 with 100 employees most of who will be on the claim servicing end. The company will adopt a straight-through process for distribution, underwriting and issuance of policies with minimum manual intervention. Distribution and servicing partners will also be digitally integrated with the company’s platform. “We will be starting with auto and travel insurance with health in 2018. Personal accident insurance cover will be integrated with other products,” said Dua.