Govt seeks public views online on black money issue

The government has already constituted a committee headed by CBDT chairman Prakash Chandra to devise new strategies to deal with the issue. The committee is expected to submit its recommendations in the next six months

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday created an email id for public to send their ideas and inputs to tackle issues arising out of black money, reports PTI.

The email—[email protected]—has been created on the server of the National Informatics Centre and the public can send their responses on the subject with immediate effect, a senior finance ministry officer said.

“General public can send in their responses and inputs like imposing penalties and making penal provisions to tackle with the issue,” the officer said.

The government has already constituted a committee headed by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman Prakash Chandra to devise new strategies to deal with the issue. The committee is expected to submit its recommendations in the next six months.

The email account will be continuously monitored by finance ministry officials and they would place the messages before the committee headed by the CBDT chairman.

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Advance tax mop-up nails slowdown fears; SBI pays Rs1,100 crore

Companies from across the sectors paid up more in advance tax this quarter than the year-ago period, except cement companies which had a poor showing. SBI led the pack with Rs1,100 crore, followed by RIL with a tax bill of Rs900 crore and LIC with an advance tax payment of Rs580 crore

Mumbai: Advance tax paid by India Inc presents a rosy picture, despite a massive fall in April Index of Industrial Production (IIP) numbers and a likely fall in the remaining months of Q1; with the largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) leading the pack with Rs1,100 crore against Rs850 crore in the year-ago period, reports PTI.

The Income Tax (I-T) department sources said today that oil and gas major Reliance Industries (RIL) has paid Rs900 crore in the first quarter of this fiscal, up nearly 50% from Rs650 crore in the same quarter of the previous fiscal.

Companies from across the sectors paid up more in advance tax this quarter than the year-ago period, except cement companies which had a poor showing.

The third in the list is the insurance giant Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), which made an advance tax payment of Rs580 crore in the first quarter of this fiscal, against Rs530 crore last fiscal.

Largest software exporter TCS saw its tax bill nearly doubling to Rs240 crore in the reporting period from Rs128 crore in the year-ago quarter.

The fourth in the list is the state-run Deposit Insurance & Credit Guarantee Corporation which saw an outgo of Rs475 crore against Rs400 crore last time.

Banks too, barring a few state-run ones, have paid up more. Leading foreign bank Citi saw its advance tax outgo jumping 50% to Rs150 crore from Rs100 crore, state-run IDBI Bank saw the tax bill soaring over 125% to Rs180 crore against Rs81 crore in Q1 last year.

The second largest foreign bank, HSBC, too paid up more, with a tax outgo of Rs250 crore against Rs225 crore.

State-run lenders like Bank of India paid Rs165 crore (Rs158 crore), Bank of Baroda (Rs250 crore versus Rs225 crore), Dena Bank around Rs55 crore against Rs45 crore, while Central Bank of India saw its advance tax payout declining to Rs145 crore against Rs150 crore.

All the private sector lenders have paid up more in taxes this time. While the largest private sector lender ICICI Bank paid Rs390 crore (Rs350 crore), the immediate competition HDFC Bank coughed up Rs350 crore (Rs315 crore). Kotak Mahindra Bank’s advance tax outgo stood at Rs60 crore (Rs45 crore) and Yes Bank paid Rs60 crore (Rs50 crore).

Pure-play mortgage lender HDFC saw its tax bill rising to Rs250 crore from Rs215 crore in the reporting period and so did LIC Housing Finance which saw its tax bill rising to Rs47 crore in the reporting quarter from Rs38 crore.

Among auto companies, barring the largest player Tata Motors, which saw its tax bill dipping a tad to Rs62 crore (Rs65 crore) all reported higher numbers. Bajaj Auto paid Rs125 crore (Rs110 crore), Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) paid nearly 50% more at Rs90 crore (Rs63 crore).

Steel major Tata Steel also saw its tax bill shrinking during the reporting quarter to Rs280 crore from Rs300 crore, so did another group company Tata Chemicals, which paid up only Rs27 crore against Rs29 crore.

Aluminium major Hindalco’s tax bill rose to Rs80 crore against Rs55 crore. So did the engineering behemoth Larsen & Toubro (L&T) which coughed up Rs175 crore in advance taxes, up from Rs130 crore. Similarly, consumer goods leader Hindustan Unilever (HUL) too saw its tax bill jumping to Rs100 crore from Rs75 crore.

Oil companies presented a mixed picture with Bharat Petroleum Corporation paying a little more than half of what it had paid last time at Rs77 crore, against Rs126 crore; while both Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and MRPL paid up more at Rs62 crore (Rs61 crore) and Rs100 crore (Rs67 crore), respectively.

Cement players saw their tax outgo shrinking. ACC saw its tax bill declining to Rs45 crore from Rs50 crore, Ambuja, too, paid up less at Rs50 crore (Rs65 crore), while UltraTech bucked the trend with a sharp spike in its tax bill at Rs37 crore against Rs22 crore.

Pharma major Lupin paid Rs18 crore (Rs16 crore), AC major Voltas paid more at Rs23 crore (Rs18 crore) and the tobacco leader Godfrey Philips saw its tax bill exactly doubling to Rs12 crore.

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Varun Industries aims to complete new steel, pig iron units by 2015

Kiran Mehta, chairman and managing director, says backward integration will give the company absolute control over quality and reasonably good control over cost

Varun Industries, the multi-dimensional conglomerate with investments in steelware, raw steel, oil & gas, wind energy, mining, gems and jewellery, is setting up two units in Jodhpur and Karnataka. The company, which earns the bulk of its revenues from the export of stainless steel kitchenware, registered a 65% growth in net profit at Rs39.34 crore last year from Rs23.81 crore in the previous year and is working to consolidate its position in the premium segment at home. In an interview to Moneylife, Kiran Mehta, chairman and managing director, discussed the company's growth and future prospects in India and abroad.

Moneylife (ML): When is the 60,000 tonnes per annum steel flat project in Jodhpur likely to be completed?
Kiran Mehta (KM):
This project is yet to be completed. We have a manufacturing unit at Jodhpur which manufactures steel sheets. These sheets are used for manufacturing our end product at the Vasai plant. The current capacity of this plant is 18,000 tonnes, which is now being increased to 30,000 tonnes. The expansion is almost over. Another plant is for further backward integration, which will produce steel flats. This project could be completed in another three-four years. The initial phase of land acquisition is over, we have acquired 150 acres. The investment is about Rs800 crore.

ML: The company has said that it will not make any capital expenditure towards the pig iron plant in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, though it has land approved for the project. When is the project expected to start? How much has the company invested in it?
KM: The land acquisition for the Karnataka project is still going on as it is a bigger area of around 500 acres. This happens in two ways-one way is to ask the government to allot the land, which could take up to four years; another is to identify the land and hand over with the consent of the owners to the government. We have taken the second route.

About capex, what we said was for 2012-13, as there would not be any capex other than land acquisition. The total investment would be Rs2,200 crore, in three phases.

The pig iron plant has two phases. First, to put up a plant; second is to get the required iron ore, that is allotment of mines. The Karnataka government has changed its mines policy and it is now allotting mines only for actual users. So we need to get the mines allotment and put up a unit. Both these processes have to synchronise. The Karnataka and the second Jodhpur project will start simultaneously. Both have a deadline of 2015.

ML: What is your current market share in the kitchenware sector? And what is your position vis-à-vis the competitors?
KM:
We were not in the domestic market till about two years. We have just started. So, we don't talk about our market share in India. We are a leading player in export of these items. In these two years, we have opened ten exclusives shops. We realised that the model chosen needs amendment, in the light of the fact that retailing is taking place in a different format. We have already created a brand name in the global market in the premium segment. We plan to foray into all segments. The domestic market is fragmented.

ML: What would be your positioning in terms of sales, expansion once the backward integration is completed? What growth rate are you expecting for FY12?
KM:
The idea of backward integration is to have absolute control over the quality and to have reasonably good control on the cost. Once we are able to do that we would be able to sustain in both the domestic and global markets. We would like to grow at 20%-25%. Last year our topline was Rs2,940 crore. We have a target of Rs3,350 crore for the current year.

ML: According to the Indian Stainless Steel Authority, the industry may have a 1.3 million tonne surplus by the end of next year. How would you position yourself in this situation?
KM:
There are two segments; one is steel manufacturers and the other is steel users. This includes steel used for construction. We are primarily talking about the value added product, stainless steel, used for kitchenware and tableware items. Going by our past performance, we did well despite the recession, we don't envisage any problem. So we would like to position ourselves as consumers of steel within that segment, and we don't foresee any shrinkage in the market share.

ML: Indian companies have big capacity expansion plans. For instance, Jindal Stainless is doubling its capacity at Hisar. The Salem Steel Plant of SAIL, Panchmahal Steel, Viraj Steel and Mukand are also expanding capacity. Is it getting too crowded?
KM:
If you are manufacturing stainless steel, whether it is sheet, coil and so on, and using it for your end-product, then there is no reason to worry, unlike steel makers who do not have the capability to make end-use items. We have no reason to worry. For instance, if the sale of end-products far exceeds our raw material production, we will be comfortable as there is a distinctive possibility of outsourcing the material at a much cheaper rate. Industry is always in a cycle; sometimes it is crowded, then it evens out on demand. Basic steel is a concern with a lot of capacity build-up going on. The concern is not overcrowding, but it's about sustainability of growth.

ML: There is strong competition for Indian kitchenware manufacturers from Chinese imports as these products are 20%-25% cheaper. Also, they have better access to nickel and pig iron. Will this Chinese edge sustain, given that India lacks access to developed technology to produce nickel and pig iron?
KM:
The quality of these items is very bad. The situation is more or less the same in India, as stainless steel kitchenware items are cheaper due to the competition. It's not only because of technology. For instance, a lot of people started units for non-stick ware items, then they found that importing from China was cheaper. But this was for a very short period, as they realised that the quality was hopelessly bad. The Chinese goods story is in the lower-end products, so those in the lower-end category have to worry. Chinese items are not in the premium segment.

ML: The company was focusing on setting up franchisees in shopping malls to expand its reach and sell its branded steelware products? How far has that happened?
KM:
The franchisee model has not been chosen as yet, it is in the pipeline. For the domestic market we have several plans, such as tapping the wholesale market, supplies to the army, police, port trust. We have already started selling our products through shopping malls instead of exclusive shops.

ML: Varun Industries has also invested in sectors such as mining and oil & gas? What is the status of these businesses?
KM:
We have diversified into the oil sector in India. We have an oil rig in the North-East which we lease out to companies such as ONGC. The revenue generated is in dollars terms on an import substitution basis. Our revenues are to the extent of $3.6 million a year. The process is on to acquire 3-4 rigs. We have also diversified into the power sector. We have windmills of 4.9MW in Rajasthan and about 4MW in Tamil Nadu. We want to expand it to another 5MW in the current year. These businesses have helped us as a revenue-earning and tax-planning device. In terms of revenues, Rajasthan offers Rs4.4 per unit and Tamil Nadu is about Rs3.4 per unit. This is our Indian operations.

We also have some interest in Madagascar, where we have been operating for 10-12 years. We have certain 100% owned subsidiaries based in Mauritius and they in turn hold a majority stake in some of the companies in Madagascar. These companies hold oil and gas assets. For gold and precious stones we have tied up with Australian mining company Cluff Resources. In terms of the expenditure arrangement, 75% has to be met by them and 25% by us, whereas in revenue sharing, 65% comes to us and 35% goes to them. The initial test reports are also very positive. In a nutshell, the entire exercise in Madagascar is to ensure that from what we own there, the value is brought to the Indian company's balance sheet.

ML: Are you planning any tie-ups with foreign companies?
KM:
As far as other assets are concerned, we are trying to tie up with global players who have requisite expertise and financial capability, to ensure that we don't get into huge capex.

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