Indian millennials selling, buying maximum pre-owned mobile device: Study

May 25, 2017 0

New Delhi–Nearly 75 per cent of pre-owned mobile phone buyers and 55 per cent of pre-owned mobile phone sellers on leading consumer-to-consumer marketplace OLX are millennials in the age group of 19-29 years, a new study said on Wednesday.

According to the study by OLX, the desire to aupgrade is the primary reason for selling mobile phones for 68 per cent of the households in India.

This is followed by 27 per cent respondents who cited ‘boredom’ as the main reason for selling mobile phones, the study pointed out.

“With high penetration and frequent updates, consumers often upgrade to new models within months. This results in good-quality and fairly new pre-owned phones entering the market within months of their launch,” Amarjit Singh Batra, CEO of OLX India, said in a statement.

“Along with the consumers we are also seeing interest from leading mobile brands, leveraging our platform to reach out to users looking to upgrade. Mobile phone is our biggest category in terms of listings and is growing at 45 per cent year-on-year,” Batra added.

Nearly 10 million mobile phones and mobile accessories were listed on OLX in financial year 2016-17.

The study noted that people get 25 per cent higher value when they sell devices online as compared to offline selling and 47 per cent higher than that through exchange.

The last financial year also saw Chinese brands witnessing a spike in listings on OLX, with the listing share of market leaders as well as Indian manufactures declining.

“During financial year 2016-17, the listing share of Chinese brand Xiaomi climbed from 4.2 per cent to 12.8 per cent on OLX,” the report said.

Also, the average price of each mobile phone on OLX is Rs 9,000, as compared to Rs 10,000 that was the average selling price of new smartphones sold in India in the first quarter of 2017.

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Telecom department closely watching impact of 18 percent GST on the sector: Minister

May 25, 2017 0

New Delhi– The telecom department is closely watching the impact of the proposed 18 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the industry, Communications Minister Manoj Sinha said here on Thursday.

“The sector was already paying 15 per cent tax. So there will be a difference of 3 per cent. We are looking at it. The telecom operators are planning to meet the GST Council,” Sinha told reporters.

He was addressing media on the completion of the present National Democratic Alliance government’s three years and various achievements of the telecom department.

The government’s decision to put 18 per cent tax rates on the industry will impact the industry as well as the consumers, feel various industry stakeholders.

Listing the various achievements of the government in the last three years, Sinha said the telecom department’s image has improved considerably in the last three years and the department is getting various investment proposals.

Speaking about the call drop issue, Sinha said: “Call drop is a big issue, We are constantly monitoring it. 2.5 lakh BTS (base transceiver station) are put up in less than one year to address this issue.”

“The DoT has launched Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) in December 2017. The results obtained through the IVRS platform show that the call drops reported by subscribers have dropped from 64 per cent in December 2016 to 57 per cent at the end of March 2017, a drop of nearly 7 per cent in three months,” he added.

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Indian techies forming union to protect jobs amid layoffs

May 24, 2017 0

By Fakir Balaji

Bengaluru–Hundreds of Indian techies working as software engineers or providing back office services to global firms are setting up a pan-India trade union to protect their jobs amid layoffs by many IT firms, including Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and Cognizant, said a functionary of a employees forum on Tuesday.

“We have already filed an application with the Tamil Nadu Labour Department to register our Forum as an all-India trade union to protect our interests, especially jobs, as many IT firms are terminating employees at a short notice without adequate compensation,” Forum for IT Employees (FITE) Joint Secretary Aruna Giri told IANS from Chennai on phone.

Admitting that thousands of IT employees across the country benefitted from well-paid jobs and perks over the years when the going was good, Giri alleged that the IT firms were no longer what they were in the past, as they have started to fire more than hire.

“The need for a common platform is not just to protect our jobs, but guard our rights as citizens under the law of the land. For various reasons, including the nature of the industry, which provides more services than goods, even employees within a company could not come together to raise their voice or protest exploitation by profit-driven employers, promoters, founders and managements,” she said.

Expressing concern over the manner in which many IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS) firms were giving pink slips to even lateral employees owing to disruptive technologies and sluggish business growth, Giri said the employers should think twice before asking their employees to either resign or face termination at a short period.

“Unlike employees in other formal sectors, like manufacturing and labour workforce in commodity plantations, we do not have trade unions or outside support to address our grievances or concerns. Sudden loss of jobs leads to uncertainty and worry, as our families, including children and parents are dependent on us,” she said.

Without naming IT firms, their promoters or managements, Giri said contrary to the statutory labour laws, hundreds of techies, including those with 10-20 years of experience, were being sent home with 2-3 month salary compensation instead of 11 months and other benefits.

“We (FITE office bearers) are getting 50-100 calls daily from our colleagues in the industry working in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune that they were being asked to leave or look out for another job, as they were no longer required due to technology shift, lack of required skills and slow growth,” she said.

As a trade union can be formed even with 100 members, the Forum has submitted about 120 names to the Labour Department to register it as a formal trade body and mediate with employers in the overall interests of the $150-billion IT industry, its eco-system and related sectors.

“Once our union is registered in the next two months and allowed to take up issues with the employers of IT firms, we are confident of getting thousands of techies as members to fight for our rights and others, affected by cost-cutting measures of profit-motive companies,” added Giri.

The Forum has about 1,200 online members and 120 active members, with chapters in nine cities, where majority of IT and ITeS firms are located.

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Tax burden likely to increase on medical device in GST regime

May 24, 2017 0

Kolkata–The medical device industry expects the tax load in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to increase, which will result in a higher cost burden on patients, an official said on Wednesday.

“The medical device sector can expect a higher tax burden due to the proposed GST rates, subsequently resulting in a higher cost burden to the patients,” said Medical Technology Association of India’s (MTaI) Board Member Sanjay Bhutani.

He said at the existing indirect tax regime, the embedded tax rate approximately comes to 7.5 per cent and 10.7 per cent after considering countervailing duty, central sales tax, value added tax (VAT), Octroi, entry tax etc.

In the GST regime, the rate was pegged at 12 per cent.

“The medical devices including surgical instruments, therefore, will roughly have an additional tax burden of 4.5 per cent to 1.3 per cent,” he said.

Countervailing duty is levied at the first point that is at the import price while central sales tax is imposed on the billing price from the company to the distributor. VAT is levied at the value at which the goods are finally sold to customers.

According to Bhutani, it was earlier expected that the tax burden would ease with the introduction of GST as the uniform indirect tax regime would subsume all the taxes. (IANS)

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India’s energy shift from fossils gaining momentum

May 24, 2017 0

New Delhi–India’s decision to cancel nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations coupled with a record low solar tariff are the strongest indications that the country’s energy transformation is gaining rapid momentum, a global institute said on Wednesday.

“For the first time, solar is cheaper than coal in India and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets are profound,” Tim Buckley, Director at the Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), has said.

In a statement, he said 13.7 GW of planned coal power projects in India have been cancelled this month.

Buckley cited admissions by Adani Power Management that close to $9 billion worth of existing imported coal power plants at Mundra in Gujarat were “no longer viable because of the prohibitively high cost of imported coal relative to the long-term electricity supply contracts signed”.

This, he said, was a further indication of the “rise of stranded assets across the Indian power generation sector”.

Indian solar power tariff hit a new low of Rs 2.62 per unit earlier this month — 12 per cent below the previous record just three months ago. A few days later, it plunged to a low of Rs 2.44 per unit.

Experts say India’s rapid shift towards low-carbon economy is a step towards the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that aims to cut greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

“Measures taken by the Indian government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable,” he said.

“India’s solar tariffs have literally been free falling in recent months. The record low solar auction rate of Rs 2.44 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) is significantly lower than the average rate of Rs 3.20 per kWh which NTPC Ltd, India’s biggest coal power utility, wholesales its electricity for.”

Buckley, who is with IEEFA’s Energy Finance Studies, said hydro electricity and wind farm capacity in India also remain firmly on target.

“The relatively low cost of hydro at Rs 1-4 per kWh makes plans for accelerating long-stalled investment in this sector a clear government priority. The phenomenal success of India’s SECI holding its first 1GW reverse auction for wind in February 2017 saw a Rs 3.46 per kWh result, down 20 to 30 percent on previous wind auction results across India,” he added.

“India Solar Handbook 2017” by Bridge to India, a consultant in the clean technology market, in its report this month said India is set to become the third-biggest solar market globally and will overtake Japan this year. (IANS)

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RInfra InvIT Fund’s IPO gets SEBI approval

May 24, 2017 0

Mumbai–Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) on Wednesday said that RInfra InvIT has received the final approval from securities market regulator SEBI to float its Rs 2,500 crore plus Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Sources told IANS that the proposed IPO is expected to be launched in two weeks’ time.

“RInfra InvIT has received the final observation letter from SEBI for its proposed IPO of units representing an undivided beneficial interest in the Trust. The proposed issue size is Rs 25,000 million with an option to retain over subscription up to 25 per cent of the issue size,” the company said in a statement here.

Reliance Nippon Life Asset Management Limited is the investment manager to the InvIT. Axis Capital, DSP Merrill Lynch and UBS Securities are acting as global coordinators and book running lead managers.

SBI Capital Markets and Yes Securities are acting as book running lead managers. (IANS)

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China Light and Power offers to invest Rs 500 crore in Haryana

May 24, 2017 0

Chandigarh– China Light & Power has offered to join hands with the Haryana government in setting up a Rs 500-crore renewable energy project in the state’s Jhajjar district.

The offer was made during Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s meeting with the senior management of the company in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Khattar, who is leading a nine-member delegation to project Haryana as a preferred investment destination, had meetings with the captains of industry and leading investors in Hong Kong.

Khattar and his delegation arrived in Hong Kong after having similar meetings in Singapore.

A state government spokesman said here that global biggies, including United Technologies, Carrier, Everstone Logistics and CISCO have evinced keen interest in making investments in such fields as logistics, development of smart cities and sustainable solutions and setting up skill development centres in Haryana.

China Light & Power officials who met Khattar included CEO Richard Lancaster, Chief Financial Officer Geert Peters and Managing Director India Rajiv Mishra.

“They discussed a proposal for setting up a renewable energy project at Jhajjar with an investment of Rs 500 crore. They were told that a very good opportunity awaited them to utilize non-arable land in the state for setting up projects,” the spokesman said.

A team from United Technologies also met the Chief Minister and discussed a proposal for developing smart city sustainability solutions relating to building security and controls.

Carrier made a proposal to set up a skill development centre in Haryana jointly with the state government for providing skill training to the youth.

The key sectors for which the investment scope is being explored include skill development, healthcare, infrastructure, transport, smart cities and renewable energy. (IANS)

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3 years into BJP government, unemployment rate slightly up

May 23, 2017 0

By Shreya Shah

Indias unemployment rate has registered a slight increase since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government began its term in May 2014, despite the governments professed emphasis on job-creation, according to an analysis of government data.

The unemployment rate in 2015-16 was five per cent of the labour force, up from 4.9 per cent in 2013-14, the year before the BJP assumed power.

“The country has been dragged through 10 years of jobless growth by the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government,” the BJP had said in its manifesto for the 2014 general election. “Under the broader economic revival, BJP will accord high priority to job-creation and opportunities for entrepreneurship.”

At a rally in Agra in 2013, Narendra Modi, then campaigning for the position of Prime Minister, had said the BJP would create 10 million jobs: “If BJP comes to power, it will provide one crore jobs which the UPA government could not do despite announcing it before the last Lok Sabha polls,” Modi was quoted as saying in news reports.

Yet, the 2016-17 Economic Survey, based on data from the Labour Ministry, stated: “Employment growth has been sluggish.”

Based on the “Usual Principal Status” — according to which those who have spent a major part (183 days or more) of the preceding 365 days before a survey on economic activity are counted as having been part of the labour force — the Labour Ministry’s report on the Fifth Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey (2015-16) said unemployment was five per cent.

The figure for 2013-14 was marginally lower, at 4.9 per cent, according to the ministry’s data.

The survey includes workers in both the formal and informal parts of the economy, as well as those working as casual workers in public works programmes.

Between July 2014 and December 2016, the eight major sectors of manufacturing, trade, construction, education, health, information technology, transport, and accommodation and restaurants, created 641,000 jobs, data show, not including jobs created between January 2016 and March 2016, for which data are unavailable. In comparison, these sectors had added 1.28 million jobs between July 2011 and December 2013, according to Labour Ministry data.

This is based on data collected by the government from non-farm industrial units that have 10 or more workers in these eight sectors. “These surveys are being conducted in selected sectors of the economy which are sensitive to the global factors and employment intensive,” a 2016 Labour Ministry report said.

Further, the Economic Survey pointed to a shift in the pattern of employment from permanent jobs to casual and contract employment. The increasingly “temporary” nature of work, it said, has an “adverse effect” on the level of wages, stability of employment, and employees’ social security. “It also indicates preference by employers away from regular/formal employment to circumvent labour laws,” it stated.

These employment surveys, conducted both before and after the BJP government began its term in 2014, do not account for a considerable portion of India’s workforce — those working in units employing less than 10 people, and those employed in the informal sector. The informal sector is estimated to have provided 90 per cent of jobs through the period 2004-05 to 2011-12, according to Economic Survey 2015-16.

The number of beneficiaries of one government assistance programme, the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) — which aims to generate employment in rural and urban areas by starting new micro-enterprises and small projects — has fallen 24.4 per cent from 428,000 in 2012-13 to 323,362 in 2015-16, according to government data. Until October 2016, the programme had created an additional 187,252 jobs, according to the latest data available.

A further 15,768 people opened micro-enterprises under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission in 2016-17, which “seeks to enhance the employment opportunities and incomes of the urban poor.” The programme was launched by the previous government in 2013 but has been continued by the BJP government. It is not clear how many jobs these micro-enterprises might have created.

The total number of jobs created, calculated by adding data from the eight major sectors included in the Labour Ministry’s quarterly employment surveys and data on the PMEGP until October 2016 would be 1.51 million — which is nearly 39 per cent less than the 2.47 million created during the three previous years, based on the same data sources.

However, since data from the eight major sectors for January to March 2016 as well as PMEGP data between October and March 2016 are not available, the employment figures during BJP rule might be somewhat underestimated.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform, with whom Shreya Shah is a reporter/editor. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at respond@indiaspend.org)

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GST will lower tax burden on medical devices, smartphones in India

May 23, 2017 0

New Delhi– The Goods and Services Tax (GST) will lead to lower tax burden in several commodities, including packaged cement, medicaments, smartphones and medical devices, the Finance Ministry said on Tuesday.

“Packaged cement attracts central excise duty of 12.5 per cent plus Rs 125 PMT (per metric tonne) and standard VAT (value-added tax) rate of 14.5 per cent. At these rates, the present total tax incidence works out to more than 29 per cent.

“If we include tax incidence on account of central sales tax (CST), octroi, entry tax, etc., the present total tax incidence would work out to more than 31 per cent. As against this, the proposed GST rate for cement is 28 per cent,” the ministry said here in a statement.

There will be lesser tax burden in case of medicaments, including Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathic or Bio-chemic systems also.

Medicaments, in general, attract six per cent central excise duty and five per cent VAT. Further, CST, octroi, entry tax, etc. are also applicable in general. At these rates, the present total tax incidence works out to more than 13 per cent.

As against this, the proposed GST rate on medicines, including ayurvedic medicines, is 12 per cent.

Smartphone attracts two per cent central excise duty (one per cent excise duty + one per cent NCCD (national contingency and calamity duty). VAT rates vary from state to state from five to 15 per cent.

“Weighted average VAT rate on smartphones works out to about 12 per cent. Thus, the present total tax incidence on smart phones works out to more than 13.5 per cent. As against this, the proposed GST rate for smartphones is 12 per cent,” the statement said.

Similarly, medical devices, including surgical instruments, in general attract six per cent central excise duty and five per cent VAT. Along with CST, octroi, entry tax, etc., the present total tax incidence on them works out to more than 13 per cent. As against this, the proposed rate under GST is 12 per cent, it said.

Worship materials including that required for ‘havan’ will be under the nil category. However, exact formulation for the same is yet to be finalised. (IANS)

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Paytm unveils payments bank, targets 500 million customers by 2020

May 23, 2017 0

New Delhi– Fintech company Paytm on Tuesday unveiled its payments bank becoming the first one to offer cashback on deposits. It aims to become the preferred bank for 500 million Indians by 2020.

Customers will also be offered zero charge on all online transactions and there would be no minimum balance requirement, the firm said in a statement here.

“This account has been designed to help achieve financial inclusion in our country, in line with Paytm’s mission of bringing half a billion Indians into the mainstream economy.”

The company aims to get people to move their money from cash to digital ecosystem, it said.

Paytm Payments Bank accounts would initially be available on an invite-only basis.

In the first phase, the company would roll out its beta banking app for its employees and associates. Paytm customers could request an invite by going to www.PaytmPaymentsBank.com or on the Paytm iOS app.

The company is setting up KYC centres across India to complete the know your customer operation for customers and make them eligible for a Payments Bank account.

This would be a mobile-first product with first-of-its-kind feature of cashback on deposits.

Every customer to open a Payments Bank account would get a cashback of Rs 250 as soon they bring deposits of a total of Rs 25,000 in their bank account.

The accounts would have zero balance requirement and every online transaction (such as IMPS, NEFT, RTGS — emergency fund transfers) would be free of charge.

For savings accounts, the company would also offer an interest of four per cent per annum. Paytm would also offer current accounts to its millions of merchants.

Speaking at the launch, Paytm Payments Bank Chairman Vijay Shekhar Sharma said: “The RBI has given us an opportunity to create a new kind of banking model in the world. We are proud that our customer deposits will be safely invested in government bonds, and be used for nation-building. None of our deposits will be converted into risky assets.”

Paytm Payments Bank CEO Renu Satti said: “We are very excited to launch Paytm Payments Bank and bring financial services to the unbanked segment of Indians. Our ambition is to become India’s most trusted and consumer-friendly bank. Leveraging power of technology, we aim to become the preferred bank for 500 million Indians by 2020.”

Paytm is aiming to replicate its success in the banking sector and further drive cashless transactions with the Paytm Payments Bank.

“The current Paytm wallet will move to the Paytm Payments Bank in the same capacity, i.e. KYC wallet… Users will continue to be able to use their Paytm Wallet in the same manner as before,” it said.

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