GST rate cut: Restaurant body to meet government over pricing

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) is likely to make a representation to the government over the next two days regarding the passing on of benefits of the lower goods and services tax (GST) rates to consumers.



NRAI has the country’s top fast-food chains, among others, as its members.



The government on November 10 had slashed the GST on AC and non-AC restaurants — excluding five-star hotels — to 5 percent from the earlier 18 percent and 12 percent, respectively.


But the input tax credit, a facility to set off tax paid on inputs with final tax, was withdrawn with the November 10 revision, prompting restaurant chains, including McDonald’s to withhold passing the full benefit of the tax cut. Their argument was that the non-availability of input tax credit pushed up costs by 10-12 percent, implying that the 13 percent GST cut was tax-neutral.

“While we welcome the move by the government to cut GST, it may have to relook the issue pertaining to input tax credit,” said NRAI President Riyaaz Amlani.

Amlani is also the chief executive officer and managing director of Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, which runs restaurants such as Smoke House Deli and Social.

“If the consumer has to benefit on the pricing front, the rate cut will have to be tax efficient (to restaurants). Currently, it is not,” he added.

Typically, input tax credit is given to rent, food and other items, and was available to restaurants before implementation of the GST as well.

In a statement, a McDonald’s India spokesperson said it had passed on the benefits of lower GST, wherever it could, to consumers: “We have substantially reduced the prices of some of our flagship products. We have been open about our prices and our menu board prices are inclusive of taxes.”

Chains such as Domino’s, KFC and Pizza Hut were not immediately available for comment.

But last week, McDonald’s had found itself in the line of fire after consumers complained about social media that the chain had not brought down prices despite a cut in the GST.

The issue had prompted the government and the Central Board of Excise and Customs to step in, asking McDonald’s and other restaurants to cut prices immediately or face action.

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‘A serious blow’ to India: Hafiz Saeed after Pak court orders his release

A Pakistan court on Wednesday ordered the release of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed, blamed for the horrific 2008 Mumbai terror attack, from house arrest that began in January this year.

A Judicial Review Board consisting of judges from the Lahore High Court rejected a plea from Punjab province to extend Saeed’s detention after a senior Finance Ministry official failed to convince the board that his release would lead to diplomatic and other problems for Pakistan.

The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief will be freed on the midnight of November 24 after the expiry of the house arrest order. Saeed and his four aides had been under house arrest since January under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Following the decision, Saeed told media that an end to his detention was tantamount to the victory of truth and called the decision “a serious blow” to India’s demands that he be kept in custody and punished for the 2008 massacre, Dawn online reported.

Following the decision, Saeed supporters chanted slogans and showered him with rose petals.

The court had warned the government last month that it would end Saeed’s house arrest if enough evidence was not submitted against him.

Saeed’s advocate AK Dogar earlier said the JuD leaders had been detained merely on the basis of allegations, without any substantial evidence against them, and called the call for extending the detention “illegal” and a “violation of basic rights”.

Dogar alleged that the government had placed Saeed under house arrest to oblige the US. Seeking an end to his detention, Saeed argued that his captivity without any legality amounted to a violation of the Constitution and his human rights.

In previous proceedings, the Punjab Home Department argued that if Saeed was freed, his activities would pose a serious threat to public safety and public order.

The department also said that his release may warrant international sanctions against Pakistan. However, the board rejected the plea to extend his detention on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Saeed is accused by India of masterminding the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008 which left 166 Indians and foreigners dead. New Delhi has repeatedly urged Islamabad to punish him for the killings. 

VIP treatment: Woman blasts minister as flight delay makes her miss funeral

Union minister K J Alphons was confronted by an enraged woman passenger at the Imphal airport over the delay in her Kolkata-bound flight she was taking to rush to Patna to attend a funeral of her relative.

Alphons on Wednesday said he was not responsible for the delay of the flight due to VVIP security protocol after a video footage of the passenger identified as a lady doctor arguing and directing her ire at him on seeing the minister at the Imphal airport went viral.

The video of the incident that happened on Tuesday showed the woman complaining to Alphons about the flight being delayed due to VIP movement. 

Alphons, who is Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism, had come to Imphal to attend the Northeast Development summit which was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday. President Kovind’s aircraft was due to land in Imphal around the time of departure of the Kolkata-bound aircraft. 

“I have to reach Patna. The body is waiting, otherwise, the body will decay. I am a doctor, I know that. The body is still at home,” the woman can be heard pleading with Alphons, who tries to soothe her anger. She was also heard asking Alphons to give in writing what time her flight would take off.

The woman was booked on an IndiGo flight from Imphal to Kolkata from where she had to take a connecting flight to Patna.

On her repeated insistence to give her in writing as to what time the flight would depart, the minister is heard saying he does not have the authority to do so.

When contacted, Imphal Airport Director S K Panigrahi told PTI over the phone at Kolkata that three flights were delayed due to the visit of President Kovind to the state on Tuesday. 

“The commercial flights were delayed since the President’s flight was scheduled to arrive,” he said, adding none of the flights were canceled.

The airport director said the three commercial flights were delayed between 90 minutes and two hours.

According to Alphons, he approached a woman crying at the airport and who could be seen in the video losing her cool.

“She was crying and I wanted to know what happened. She started saying that she had to go to Patna to attend a relative’s funeral which was scheduled for the afternoon. She was distraught because her flight was delayed and she feared the body will decay.

“As a representative of the government of India, she wanted me to intervene,” Alphons told PTI, amid allegations that he was the cause for the delay of the flight.

He was accompanied by some of his ministerial colleagues.

“I can understand her anguish but as I told her, the President’s flight was landing and as per protocol no other flight can land or take off at that time.

“This protocol is in place for the past 70 years and not made by this government. I tried to tell her that her flight will leave as soon as the President’s flight lands, but she was really in distress,” Alphons said.

The minister also said that he “was not in favor” of protocols that encourage VIP culture and that he has also informed officials that a pilot jeep should not be assigned to him. 

Vivo launches V7 with 24MP selfie camera in India at Rs 18,990

After a successful run of its selfie-focused flagship smartphone V7+ in India, Chinese smartphone maker Vivo on Monday launched V7 with the 24MP selfie and 16MP rear camera for Rs 18,990.

Available in Champagne Gold and Matte Black colors, Vivo V7 will reach retail stores from November 25. The device was available for pre-booking orders on Flipkart from Monday.

“With the launch of V7, we are offering consumers another compelling proposition featuring an excellent camera and powerful performance at a competitive price point,” said Kent Cheng, chief executive, Vivo India.

The device with 4GB RAM and 32GB ROM has 5.7 HD “FullView” display and houses 3000mAh battery. The device comes with “Moonlight Glow” and “Face Access” features.

Coming to India in late 2014, Vivo has established itself as one of the top smartphone brands in India.

According to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) latest “Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Q3 2017”, Vivo is at the fourth position in the country after registering a healthy 153 percent annual growth.

The company has a manufacturing unit in Greater Noida with a distribution network across the country, both online and offline.

Huawei bets big with a premium price

The phone takes dazzling photos and sports advanced artificial intelligence. Its display stretches gloriously from edge to edge. And at nearly $1,000, it pushes into eye-watering territory on price.

But the Mate 10 Pro isn’t the latest high-end offering from Samsung or Apple. It comes from China — a country that, for all its growing sophistication in technology, has yet to produce a name like Lexus, Canon or Samsung that consumers around the globe associate with premium quality at premium prices.

Huawei Technologies, the new smartphone’s creator, thinks the world is ready to pay top dollar for a Chinese product. It is rolling out the Mate 10 Pro — plus two sibling devices, one less expensive and lower spec, the other pricier and sleeker — in Europe, in the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia. And it is in talks with AT&T to offer the phones in the United States, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the discussions are not public.

In technology, China is no longer the land of knockoffs and copycats. Its labs are racing ahead in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and other frontier fields. Its internet companies are in the vanguard of devising ways to spend retail, finance, transport and other industries using mobile technology.

The trouble is getting the world to recognize all that. China wants to upgrade its economy by selling the world higher-value goods such as cars, jetliners, advanced electronics and more. Famous brand names can help open up new markets and convince global customers that Chinese products are as dependable as American, Japanese or South Korean ones.

Huawei (pronounced HWA-way) is already well known at home. The company outsells all others in China, the world’s largest smartphone market. And it is nipping at Apple’s heels to be the No. 2 phone maker worldwide. According to the research firm Canalys, Huawei shipped 39 million phones in the latest quarter; Apple shipped 47 million. But those Huawei devices were mostly low or midrange.

“We see good signs that people have seen the brand change to a large degree,” to one that is “stylish and innovative,” said Glory Cheung, Huawei’s marketing chief for consumer devices. “I think that’s a very good sign for us.”

Still, Cheung said, Huawei would rather spend on developing smarter features and better technology than on marketing, even as she acknowledged the importance of building an emotional bond with users. The challenge for the company on that last front is significant: Compared with Apple or Samsung, Huawei has much further to go in forging that elusive something that leads someone to commit to a brand.

Even in China, many people still view Huawei devices as good value for the money and not much else.

Li Haoran, a 24-year-old accountant in Beijing, is a longtime Apple user. Would she switch to Huawei? “Not for myself,” she said. “But I’d consider buying Huawei phones for my family, because they are relatively cheap.” 

As for the Mate 10 series, Li Weitao, a 40-year-old marketer in Shanghai who is no relation to Li Haoran, said that for more than $600, “you should probably get an iPhone.”

Founded in Shenzhen three decades ago, Huawei was already one of the world’s largest suppliers of telecommunications equipment when it released its first Android smartphone in 2009. Its earliest handsets were run-of-the-mill in looks and performance. But Huawei has since invested more in design and technology, opening a design center in London and a research and development facility in Finland.

With the Mate 10 series, Huawei is debuting one of the fruits of its research: a processor dedicated to artificial-intelligence tasks such as identifying people in photos and translating text.

Christophe Coutelle, vice president of software marketing for Huawei, said the new processor let the phones perform such tasks more quickly, with less power and — as no data needs to be sent to a faraway server — with better privacy protection.

“Not everyone is willing to share all of their information, pictures and everything with cloud-based services,” he said. The emphasis on privacy could help Huawei crack its last big untapped market: the United States. The company’s experience there has been fraught.

Its network-equipment business has effectively been banned in the United States since a congressional report said in 2012 that Huawei gear could be used by Beijing to spy on Americans. The company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, was once an engineer in China’s military. 

Huawei has said its products pose no threat to security.

The company has also been in hot water in the United States over patent infringement and for failing to inform the authorities before acquiring American companies. The New York Times reported this year that United States officials were widening an investigation into whether the company broke trade controls on Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.

India’s Dalveer Bhandari wins second term at ICJ after UK pulls out of race

India’s nominee to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected to the last seat of the world court after Britain withdrew its candidate from the election.

Bhandari received 183-193 votes in the General Assembly and secured all the 15 votes in the Security Council after separate and simultaneous elections were held at the UN headquarters in New York.

The elections were held after the United Kingdom, in a dramatic turn of events, withdrew out of the race for the Hague-based ICJ, thus paving the way for Bhandari’s re-election to the prestigious world court.

Bhandari and Britain’s Christopher Greenwood were locked in a neck-and-neck fight for re-election to the ICJ.

The permanent members of the Security Council — the US, Russia, France, and China — were understood to have been throwing their weight behind Greenwood. Britain is the fifth permanent member of the Security Council.

In a dramatic turn of events, the British Permanent Representative to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, wrote identical letters to the presidents of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council, before the two chambers were scheduled to meet at 3 pm (local time) for the 12th round of voting.

Readout simultaneously by both the presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council, Rycroft said that UK’s candidate Judge Christopher Greenwood had decided to withdraw from the election to the 15-membered ICJ. He along with Bhandari were seeking re-election for the nine-year term. 

In the 11 rounds of voting, Bhandari had got nearly two-thirds of the votes in the General Assembly, and in the Security Council, Greenwood consistently received nine votes as against five for his opponent. This resulted in a stalemate.

As per the letter read out simultaneously in the General Assembly and the Security Council, Rycroft said the current deadlock is unlikely to be broken by further rounds of voting.

As such he announced withdrawal from the race. With Bhandari being the only candidate left in the race, the General Assembly and Security Council still went through the formal motion of voting to complete the formalities.

The voting in the General Assembly, which overwhelmingly favors India, is reflective of the new global order, which is not pleasant to the world powers.

India has been seeking that the democratic process needed to play out its full course in both the Security Council and the General Assembly and there should not be an intervention or adoption of a process that has never been used before or one that undermines the voice of the majority. 

Gujarat polls: Hardik, Congress to announce Patel quota deal today

The Gujarat Congress and the Hardik Patel led-Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) on Sunday said that they have reached an agreement over the issue of granting reservation to Patels if the Congress is voted to power in the state Assembly election.


Also Read:  Show result of 23-yr rule in Gujarat, not 23-yr-old’s CD: Hardik to BJP

The official announcement about the nitty-gritty of the reservation formula and the PAAS’ stand on supporting the Congress during the Gujarat polls will be announced by Hardik Patel at a public gathering in Rajkot on Monday, PAAS convener Dinesh Bambhania said after the crucial meeting on the issue.

Hardik Patel was not present at the meeting.

“Earlier, we had asked the Congress to clarify how they would grant Patidars a constitutionally valid reservation. On Sunday (Nov 19), we held a crucial meeting on that issue and finally reached a consensus on various options offered by the party to us. An official announcement of this agreement will be made by Hardik on Monday in Rajkot,” said Bambhania, a key aide of Hardik Patel.

“I can say that we are in agreement with the Congress about their formula of granting reservation. We have not talked anything about giving tickets to PAAS. Hardik would announce on Monday whether PAAS would support the Congress during the polls or not,” he told reporters after the meeting.

The meeting with PAAS leaders was attended by Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki and senior Congress leaders Siddharth Patel and Babubhai Mangukia.


Also Read: Gujarat polls: Angry over ticket distribution, Patidars may not back Cong

Solanki claimed the meeting yielded a “positive outcome”.

“The meeting was successful and yielded a positive outcome. We both agreed to implement this agreement in coming days,” he said.

A week ago PAAS leaders and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal held a meeting over the issue, following which, Hardik Patel had said he was satisfied with the three options submitted by the Congress on how the party would grant reservation to Patels if voted to power.

Hardik Patel had earlier set a condition that he would support the Congress in the Assembly polls, due next month, only if the party committed itself to allotting reservation in education and government jobs to his community.

The polling for the two-phase elections in Gujarat will take place on December 9 and 14 and votes will be counted on December 18.

Why Moody’s upgraded India after 14 years and what this means for economy

The upgrade, Moody’s first of India since January 2004, moves the rating to the second-lowest investment grade, one notch higher than Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, which have kept India just above “junk” status for a decade and more.The decision by Moody’s is a plaudit for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and the reforms it has pushed through and comes just weeks after the World Bank moved India up 30 places in its annual ease of doing business rankings. This author decodes what the rating upgrade means for the Indian economy.

International rating agency, Moody’s, upgraded India’s government debt rating from Baa3 to Baa2 on November 16  with a stable outlook. The last upgrade had happened way back in 2004 when Moody’s had upgraded the rating of India’s government debt from speculative grade to Baa3. The irony was that for a full 14 years the Indian government debt had been classified as just one notch above speculative grade. That did little justice to an economy that boasted of a GDP of $2.2 trillion and a market cap of $2.6 trillion. Indian economy is growing at a rate of above 7% which is on par or slightly better than China. The fact that India could sustain high growth at a time when the entire world was struggling is a testimony to the economy’s resilience. Remember, all this was done without letting the fiscal deficit out of control and adhering to the strictest standards of fiscal responsibility. To be fair, the one redeemable feature of this upgrade was that it was better late than never.

Why did Moody’s upgrade India from Baa3 to Baa2?

According to the note put out by Moody’s, there were 4 key triggers for the upgrade from Baa3 to Baa2

• Moody’s believes that the reforms consisting of fairly significant moves like GST implementation, digitization via demonetization and the frontal attack on bank NPAs will not only strengthen India’s institutional framework but also increase productivity and help sustainable growth.

• Moody’s also believes that the government debt at 68% of GDP will remain stable once reforms are undertaken in a big way and growth comes back to the economy. This is critical because Baa median debt/GDP ratio is 44%.

• Thirdly, some changes in the macro-institutional framework are also likely to be positive for India. The commitment of the FRBM, institutionalization of monetary policy through the MPC and the GST Council will promote transparency and fairness.

• The big trigger for Moody’s was the massive boost to resolving banking NPAs via the deployment of Recapitalization Bonds. This is likely to help banks grow their loan books, at the same time preparing for the post Basel-IV scenario.


Also Read: Raghuram Rajan’s note against demonetization should be made public: Montek

But there are some words of caution too from Moody’s

Moody’s has also cautioned about some real risks to this upgrade. Factors like a low level of per-capita Nominal GDP, a threat of inflation, exposure to oil imports, current account deficit and the social inequalities could make the Indian economy vulnerable. That is something to be cautious about.

What does this rating upgrade mean for India?

In terms of the implications of these ratings, there are 5 key takeaways for now

• India is already the largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) at over $60 billion per annum and this upgrade could expedite the flows of FDI into India.

• Foreign portfolio Investors are likely to increase their allocation to India as Indian becomes more attractive in risk-adjusted terms.

• External commercial borrowings (ECBs) could get cheaper as the rate of interest is calculated as a spread over the LIBOR and this spread is inversely related to the risk perception.


Also Read: Moody’s milder on India than S&P, Fitch

• If the reaction of the Nifty and the Sensex was any indication, equities have received this announcement positively. That is hardly surprising because a rating upgrade results in lower risk perception leading to lower cost of capital and therefore higher valuations for equities.

• Bond yields are likely to come down further as the spread with other country yields will now narrow due to the upgrade

Above all, this upgrade is a stamp of trust in India’s reforms process. That could be the key takeaway!

5G network to generate $27 bn revenue potential for telcos by 2026: Report

5G network is estimated to create a $27 billion worth revenue opportunity for Indian telecom operators by 2026, as per Ericsson 5G Business Potential Report.

The largest opportunity will be seen in sectors like manufacturing, energy, and utilities followed by public safety and health sectors. This will be over and above the revenue generated from traditional services which are expected to grow up to $63 billion by 2026, the report noted.

“5G is expected to play a major role in digitalization of industries. 5G will bring a new level of performance and characteristics to the telecom networks enabling new services and creating new ecosystems. New revenue streams will open for operators as they go beyond being Connectivity and Infrastructure providers to become service enablers and service creators,” said Nitin Bansal, managing director, Ericsson India.

Further, the report stated that agriculture will open-up revenue opportunities up to $400 million for telecom operators. The application of 5G will be in areas like field monitoring and mapping, livestock routing and monitoring, on-field applications, and related services.


Also Read: Ericsson partners with Airtel for 5G trials

It added that the retail sector in India will offer potential 5G-enabled revenue of up to $1.15 billion by 2026, the report observed.

Meanwhile, Ericsson on Friday showcased the first live 5G end-to-end demonstration in India using its 5G test bed and 5G NR Radio, demonstrating extremely high throughput and ultra-low latency.

The technology exhibit at Ericsson Connect 2017 also featured 5G use cases and live demonstration of essential technologies on the road to 5G like Gigabit LTE (1 GBPS download speeds) with License Assisted Access (LAA) technology.

The LAA live demo highlights how this technology can leverage wireless network resources using higher frequency bands on small cell architecture. Other technology innovations presented in the showcase included advancements in Radio Network Evolution, 5G Ready Transport, and Network Slicing.

“The 5G technology showcase has been organized in the direction of creating a robust 5G ecosystem in the country even as the Government plans to have 5G network rollouts by 2020. 5G research and development is natural for Ericsson thanks to our innovation, R&D focus, technology leadership and thought leadership,” said Nunzio Mirtillo, Head of Market Area – SE Asia, Oceania, and India, Ericsson.

Ericsson’s new 5G platform comprises the 5G core, radio and transport portfolios, together with digital support systems, transformation services, and security.

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