FPIs infuses $1 billion in capital markets in September

Foreign investors have pumped in nearly Rs 6,800 crore (USD 1 billion) into the country’s capital markets so far this month, driven by global and domestic factors.

The latest infusion comes on top of a whopping inflow of Rs 25,904 in the preceding two months (July-August). Prior to that, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) had pulled out a total of Rs 4,373 crore from the capital markets (equity and debt) in June and July.

Experts attributed the latest flurry in inflow to factors including good and widespread monsoon, better corporate earnings, sound progress on rollout progress of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and positive data coming from the US economy.

Sentiments also rode high after domestic passenger vehicle sales grew for the 14th straight month in August, they added.

According to depositors’ data, net investment by FPIs stood at Rs 3,178 crore in equities during September 1-9, while the same for debt markets was at Rs 3,617 crore, taking the total inflow to Rs 6,795 crore (USD 1.02 billion).

So far this year, FPIs have invested Rs 44,028 crore in equities while withdrawing Rs 3,730 crore from the debt market. This resulted in a net flow of Rs 40,297 crore.

Source: http://www.financialexpress.com/economy/fpis-infuses-1-billion-in-capital-markets-in-september/373416/

GST bringing realty shake-up

Retailers, both of physical stores and e-commerce entities, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies and those in consumer durables have started rejigging their warehouse strategy.

This is in preparation for the national goods and services tax (GST), with the government working to an April 2017 deadline. All this could mean a shake-up in real estate, say analysts. A rough calculation suggests these businesses could look at reducing their warehouse count to half, while stepping up the total space acquisition in select destinations, once GST comes into play. In the next two to three years, businesses could see significant cost reduction due to the revised strategy.

Hindustan Unilever, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson and Shoppers Stop are among those to have begun work on consolidating their warehouses, according to a source. These companies will take up mega space, in millions of square feet, to set up ‘mother warehouses’, he said. In the online space, top companies such as Flipkart and Amazon have been on an expansion spree for warehouses and fulfillment centres in the past two years, primarily to suit the complex tax structure through the country. Now, however, they won’t feel the need to have warehouses in every state and can strategise accordingly, Vijaya Ganesh Thangavel, managing director, Land & Industrial (India), Cushman & Wakefield, told this newspaper.

For instance, Max Fashion, a prominent retailer, has eight warehouses totaling 400,000 sq ft. The number is likely to come down to four after GST, says chief executive Vasanth Kumar. “The number will get firmed up once we know the full GST details and the implications such as the reverse logistics needs,’’ he said. Post GST, their warehouse count will be down but the total space covered could go up to around 600,000 sq ft by 2018 “to meet future business needs, as well our rate of growth at a 30-plus per cent CAGR (compounded annual rate)”.

If a typical e-commerce company was taking 300,000 to 400,000 sq ft in metros and tier-1 cities for warehouses, 100,000 sq ft in tier-2 and 40,000 to 50,000 sq ft in tier-3, the plan now will be to go for million sq ft space and more, away from big cities and in fewer locations, primarily where real estate cost won’t be prohibitive, says Thangavel of Cushman. Distribution centres, smaller in size in the range of 40,000 to 50,000 sq ft, could be set up closer to cities.

The biggest trend now is that prominent developers are getting into the warehouse space, which has mostly been a domain of local land owners till recently, according to Thangavel. Along with realtors, a new breed of advisors are coming up, only for warehouse planning. Also, warehouse parks are being set up for large structures. While the exercise of restructuring the warehouses will take a couple of years, he projects a cost reduction of at least 10 to 15 per cent by 2019-2020. Estimates are that big companies which have on an average one warehouse in every state, totaling to anything from 20 to 25, might look at eight to 10, pan-India post-GST.

“We understand that a few of the larger companies have started consolidating their warehousing requirements in strategic locations, in anticipation of GST, with a view to bringing efficiency into their supply chain,’’ said Rami Kaushal, managing director, Consulting and Valuations, CBRE South Asia.

Besides retailers and FMCG companies, even pharmaceutical companies would look at rationalising the number of operational warehouses and swap these for better quality and larger format ones, he said.

“Implementation of GST is expected to lead to rationalisation of warehousing demand, leading to lower logistics cost and reduced delivery time of manufactured goods,’’ Kaushal explained. The current complicated tax structure meant that choice in setting up inventory and distribution centres were based on the tax regime, rather than on operational efficiency, he said.

GST, when implemented, will free the decisions on warehousing and distribution from these tax considerations, according to Kaushal. ”This would enable occupiers to create larger hubs, servicing two or more states from a single location, which would help optimise inventory costs and increase efficiency.’’ This shift in operational planning would ultimately result in a hub and spoke model being adopted by many of the occupiers, he added.

Industrial warehousing space is estimated at approximately 800 million sq ft across the country and is expected to grow by nine to 10 per cent annually. A few sectors such as e-commerce, modern retailing and FMCG are expected to grow at about 20 per cent annually in the short term, according to CBRE.

A recent JLL report listed the National Capital Region, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad as top warehouse hubs. These eight city hubs together had a cumulative supply of organised Grade-A and Grade-B warehousing space of around 97 mn sq ft in 2015; this is expected to grow to around 116 mn sq ft by the end of 2016. It added that GST will result in emergence of new hubs such as Belgaum, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, Goa, Guwahati, Indore, Jaipur, Kolhapur, Lucknow/ Kanpur, Ludhiana, Nagpur, Patna, Raipur, Ranchi, Vapi and Vijayawada.

 

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/gst-bringing-realty-shake-up-116090801173_1.html

Workflow boost for accountants, advisory firms

Plans are afoot to train 20,000 chartered accountants by March 2017 in different aspects of the GST
Corporate India is just about getting started to get their businesses ready for the goods and services tax ( GST) regime. This has opened up a sizable business opportunity for tax experts, advisory firms, and law firms. What has come as a shot in the arm for chartered accountants and cost accountants is the mandatory need for tax audits for certain companies under the GST regime.
Under Section 42 ( 4) of the draft Model GST Law, businesses with to- be- prescribed turnover have to get their accounts audited by a chartered accountant or a cost accountant. Accordingly, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India ( ICAI) is preparing to boost training for its members to enable them to make the most out of the opportunity. “ Plans are afoot to train 20,000 chartered accountants by March 2017 in different aspects of the GST for conducting impact studies and filing of GST returns,” says Madhukar N Hiregange, senior partner, Hiregange & Associates, and chairman of indirect tax committee at the ICAI. To start with, over the next two months, around 500 trainers will go through the GST programme.
In the coming months, some key areas of work for accountancy professionals would relate to conducting impact studies for clients, taking companies through GST registration and the transition process, filing taxes and getting tax refunds, ensuring there are no mismatches in the tax input- output chain. Even though the new indirect tax system will come into effect from April 2017, tax experts expect the transition opportunity to last for the next two years.
“Compliance will become a major area of practice for accountants,” says Hiregange. He expects many companies to outsource their tax compliance work to tax consultancies and chartered accountancy firms.
In the coming months, businesses would have to re- jig their IT systems and also make businesses of their suppliers, distributors and sellers GSTcompliant.
The challenge for small and mid- sized companies would be to come up to speed with technology requirements under the GST regime. “ Many companies would need hand- holding while interacting with the GST Network, the IT backbone, in filing tax returns and in claiming returns,” says Hiregange. That may spawn small firms specialising in GST- related compliance issues. The ICAI is also looking at revising its syllabus by November this year in keeping with the latest changes in the indirect tax system.
Sensing the business opportunity that is up for grabs, most corporate law firms are ramping up their indirect tax practice. For instance, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan, a law firm that has been advising the GST Network, has put in place a special team of 20- odd tax experts to tackle GST- related issues. “ In addition, there are 150- 200 tax lawyers across the country taking up sector- specific indirect tax related issues,” says a spokesperson from the law firm.
Similarly, accounting and advisory firms, especially the ‘big four’, are betting big on the opportunity. EY, for instance, has a team of 800- odd tax and advisory professionals working on GST. “ This year, we anticipate an increase of 25 per cent in our current headcount for GST,” said a company spokesperson. Many of these professionals come with expertise in supply chain, analytics, technology and processes.
According to Nitin Atroley, partner and head of sales & markets at KPMG, the firm set up a special team with members from different countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Australia that have earlier gone through the process of adopting GST.
Prashant Raizada, partner, indirect tax, BDO India, feels the challenge to transition to the new tax regime would be most felt by small and mediumsized enterprises. “ In Tier2and – 3 cities, businesses may not be that well versed in use of technology,” said Raizada. It will be busy days ahead for tax experts, accountants and consultants, as well as their clients as they get up to speed with the GST regime.

GST Bill passed: India gets tax regime that’s globally competitive, economically gainful

Time was when an importer had to fork out as much as 220% customs duty and individuals were made to pay up to 97% income tax. The Indian tax system has undergone a sea change since then and the passage of the GST Bill by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday capped the struggle of successive governments for a tax regime that is globally competitive and economically gainful.

From an abysmal level of less than 5% in 1960s, the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio rose to an all-time high of 11.89% in 2007-08 and stood at 10.7% in the last fiscal. While it’s still less than the 18-19% in some developed nations, the proposed GST regime promises to change it for the better. And as India gears up to embrace this regime, a look at the evolution of its tax system over the years suggests there are plenty that can be looked at with optimism.

One of the country’s most important indirect tax reforms started in one of its darkest hours, by one of its most eminent economist-finance ministers. In 1991, when the country was on the cusp of a balance of payment crisis, Manmohan Singh presented his “epochal budget”, drastically cutting the peak customs duty from 220% to 150%. He offered tax concessions for software exports and set up a commission under Raja Chelliah to suggest tax reforms.

He announced: “The time has come to expose Indian industry to competition from abroad… As a first step in this direction, the government has introduced changes in import-export policy, aimed at a reduction of import licensing, vigorous export promotion and optimal import compression.” The country’s peak customs duty now stands at 13.5%; for non-agricultural goods, the peak customs duty is even lower, at 10%.

While the steady reduction in the customs duties since 1991-92 forced the domestic industry to improve their competitiveness, the tax concessions announced by Singh led to the emergence of global IT giants like TCS, Infosys and Wipro. Even Chelliah, who later suggested broadening the tax base and levying lower and less differentiated rates, came to be called by some “the father of India’s tax reforms”.

In 1994, Singh also introduced a service tax (5%) on three services—telephone bills, non-life insurance and tax brokerage—seeking to cash in on the fast-growing services segment, which was making up for some 40% of the country’s economy. The service tax base and rates were steadily raised over the years. It’s no wonder that the service tax collection rose from a paltry R400 crore in 1994-95 to R2,10,000 crore in the last fiscal.

In 2000, the then finance minister Yashwant Sinha effected major rationalisation in the excise duty structure to introduce a single Cenvat rate of 16%. In 2004, with the integration of service tax with the Cenvat chain government sought to reduce the cascading effect of indirect taxes on ultimate consumer of goods and services. In 2005, the value-added tax regime kicked in, as the government decided to rationalise the sales tax system.

Continued

India jumps 19 places in World Bank’s logistics performance index

India’s logistics performance at its key international gateways has improved in the last two years, according to a World Bank report released on Tuesday.

In the World Bank’s biennial measure of international supply chain efficiency, called Logistics Performance Index, India’s ranking has jumped from 54 in 2014 to 35 in 2016.

While Germany tops the 2016 rankings, India is ahead of comparatively advanced economies like Portugal and New Zealand. In 2016, India’s international supply chain efficiency was at 75% of top-ranked Germany, said the report titled Connecting to Compete: 2016 Trade Logistics in the Global Economy. This is an improvement over the 66% efficiency when compared to the leader (again Germany) in 2014.

Better performance in logistics will not only boost programmes, such as Make in India, by enabling India to become part of the global supply chain, it can also help increase trade. In 2015-16, India’s foreign trade shrank by around 15%.

The Logistics Performance Index analyses countries across six components: efficiency of customs and border management clearance, quality of trade and transport infrastructure, ease of arranging competitively priced shipments, competence and quality of logistics services, ability to track and trace consignments, and the frequency with which shipments reach consignees within scheduled or expected delivery times.

It is computed from the survey responses of about 1,051 logistics industry professionals.

Programmes, such as Make in India, and improvements in infrastructure have helped India improve its logistical performance, said Arvind Mahajan, partner and national head (energy, infrastructure and government) at KPMG India, a consultancy. He also said that the emergence of skilled professionals and technological improvements that have enabled services such as track-and-tracing have helped India close the gap with leaders.

That said, Logistics Performance Index does not address how easy or difficult it is to move goods to the hinterland. For that, World Bank has another measure—a domestic LPI which analyzes a country’s performance over four factors: infrastructure, services, border procedures and supply chain reliability.

While not all yardsticks are comparable across countries, there are some which show that India still has some way to go.

For instance, only 69% of shipments from India meet the quality criteria, compared to 72% for China and 77% for Kenya. On the other hand, it takes two and three days to clear shipments, without and with inspection, respectively—numbers comparable to China but longer than what it takes in top-ranked Germany.

Similarly, India has an average of 5 forms required for import or export, compared to 4.5 for China and 2 for Germany.

In this regard, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has the potential to revolutionize the transport industry in India, said Capt. Uday Palsule, former managing director of Spear Logistics Pvt. Ltd. “Inter-state travel time will be drastically reduced if the hurdle of checking documents at every state border is done away with,” he said. It will also help boost the returns of the trucking industry and feed into better performance of the logistics sector, added Palsule.

Source: http://www.livemint.com/Politics/aqBXOSWqMObUMUAffuGH6I/India-jumps-19-places-in-World-Banks-logistics-performance.html

India must activate ‘stalled engines’ to sustain 7.6% growth: World Bank

India will maintain its growth rate of 7.6 per cent GDP growth in 2016-17, which would accelerate to 7.7 per cent in 2017-18 and 7.8 per cent in 2018-19, the World Bank said on Monday.

 

But for this, India will need to “activate the stalled engines”, including agricultural growth and rural demand, trade and private investment, while ensuring demand from urban households and public investments.

 

In its report ‘India Development Update- Financing Double Digit Growth’, the World Bank said the economy’s potential growth rate is about 7.4 per cent to 7.5 per cent.

 

“The outlook for the coming year is favourable and robust,” said Frederico Gil Sander, Senior Country Economist, World Bank, and main author of the report.

 

The report, also prescribed means for India to attain the elusive double-digit growth. This would depend on various factors, including higher participation of women in the labour force, productivity growth such as business environment reform agenda and GST as well as a pick-up in private investment.

 

The World Bank’s forecast is however, not as optimistic as the Finance Ministry that is eyeing 8 per cent growth this fiscal after 7.6 per cent growth last fiscal.

 

However, Onno Ruhl, Country Director, World Bank (India), said improved global prospects would also be necessary for double-digit growth in the domestic economy.

 

The report also warned that near-and medium-term risks stem from the banking sector and “its ability to finance private investment which continues to face several impediments in the form of excess global capacity, regulatory and policy challenges, in addition to corporate debt overhang”.

 

It has also suggested two key reforms in the financial sector — accelerating the ongoing transformation of banks to become more market oriented and competitive; and also to address the problem of non-performing assets (NPAs).

 

“India’s financial sector has performed well on many dimensions and can be a reliable pillar of future economic growth,” said Sander.

 

RBI top-level changes

 

While urging for more reforms in the banking sector such as giving fresh capital to banks for governance reforms or giving them tools to manage stress in their balance sheets, the World Bank declined to comment on the impact the top-level change at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will have on these measures.

 

“We respect the RBI Governor’s decision to return to academia. India has a long history of sound macro-economic policy making and effective and conservative supervisor. There is no reason to expect that it will change,” said Ruhl when asked whether the decision by RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan to not seek a second term would impact banking reforms.

 

Source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-news/india-must-activate-stalled-engines-to-sustain-76-growth-world-bank/article8753219.ece