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A Deluge At South Block

Sebi Wields The Stick On Defaults, Making Sense of the GST, Flying Taxis at price of a cab and more

July has been a busy month for the Ministry of External Affairs, what with the visit of the foreign minister of Iraq beginning 24 July, followed by the foreign minister of Somalia beginning 31 July. August will keep the mandarins of South Block on their feet as well, as delegates from Nepal and Australia come calling towards the end of the month. Nepal’s Prime Minister, Bahadur Deuba, will arrive in India for a five-day visit beginning 23 August. This is Deuba’s first visit to India post his re-election in June, earlier this year. Deuba’s visit will focus on implementing the past accords that were signed during his previous visits to India as Prime Minister in 1996, 2002 and 2004.

The month of rains and festivals will also usher in the second Australia Business Week in India from 28 August to 1 September. Steven Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, is expected to lead the mission along with high officials. India is Australia’s fifth-largest export market.   — Taniya Tikoo

Sebi Wields The Stick On Defaults
India’s market watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has taken a laudatory step. It has mandated listed companies to inform stock exchanges within a day or two, of loan and interest defaults to banks or financial institutions at their end. The move will apprise investors of the financial solvency of the companies. In the books of the banks the defaults show up as non-performing assets at the end of 90 days.A similar action by the Company Law Board and the Union labour ministry, compelling registered companies to inform them of defaults on salaries bills and tax dues, could have proved even more revolutionary.  
—  C. H. Unnikrishnan

Making Sense of the GST
The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is making efforts to make the recently rolled out Goods and Services Tax (GST) comprehensible for businesses. At the request of the Union ministry of textiles, the corporation is trying to figure out the on-ground difficulties. “We are also trying to understand how we could create a curriculum,” said NSDC chairman, Manish Kumar.

To ensure a proper roll out of the GST, the NSDC has identified training centres and recreated the course content and course curriculum that would help businesses and individuals get into sync with the regime.

“We found that there is a lot of demand as people with various backgrounds want to come and learn. It’s more like we are trying to make different businesses ready for GST,” he said.

The textile industry has in particular, roiled against the new tax regime. Since 8 July, Surat, the economic capital of Gujarat, has been a scene of massive protests against the new tax regime. Over the last 22 days of strikes, traders have incurred losses amounting to over Rs 5,000 crore.
— Himani Saxena

Flying Taxis At Price Of A Cab
If all goes well, Bengaluru,  the quietest of the five metropolises in India, may become the first city to launch a helicopter taxi service from its international airport to the Electronics City.

The service should not only bring down the commuting time, but also ensure a flight at the cost of travelling in a cab! A helicopter ride would compress the average commuting time of a Bangalore resident to 15 minutes from anything between 120 minutes to 130 minutes at present.  

As per the current plan, Thumby Aviation will begin operations with one helicopter. Thereafter, the plan includes connecting the Bengaluru International Airport to other strategically suitable points in the city like the HAL airport, Whitefield and perhaps, some of the high-rise buildings that have provisions for helipads.

Once the service takes off, other cities will also be encouraged to adopt Heli-Taxis, a concept very common around the world in cities with a high-density of traffic.

According to Union minister of state for civil aviation, Jayant Sinha, the government will soon push for helicopters to connect small towns in the second round of Udaan, India’s regional connectivity scheme. Sounds unbelievable? But obviously,  for Sinha, the sky is now the limit.  
– Ashish Sinha

Alto readies Gen-Next

Maruti Suzuki continues to lord over 45 per cent of the country’s passenger vehicle market, but its share in the A segment has dropped because of competition from Renault Kwid, redi-Go, etc.

This segment is very critical in India,  with a  car penetration that is still less than 35/1,000. In the next decade, we may see a rush of buyers looking to upgrade from two- wheelers to the  A&B segments. This trend in small cities, along with better dealer reach, will certainly fuel sales of minicar segments.

To combat this fierce competition from global players in the small car segment, Maruti Suzuki is developing a next generation Alto, which will also be available with a 660cc variant. Expected to be rolled out by end 2019, the A1 segment car will be priced at approximately Rs 2.5 lakh, on a par with the current BS-IV compliant (800cc) variant. It will be based on an all-new, lightweight platform, which will also be spawning variants like Alto 800. It is widely believed that the all-new Alto will be lighter and more fuel-efficient than the prevailing models and will comply with all the safety and emission regulations.

The company’s focus has largely been on premium and utility vehicle segments over the past few years, evident in models like Baleno, Brezza, Ignis, S-Cross, etc.  The new Alto will take it back to its bread-and-butter model.
— Avishek Banerjee


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