HC rules against I-T dept again, this time in Shell transfer pricing case

Another blow to the I-T Dept in its endeavour to recover taxes on transfer of shares between Indian subsidiaries of foreign multi-nationals


In another blow to the Indian government and Income Tax (I-T) Department's hopes of recovering additional taxes from multi-national companies, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday ruled in favour of Shell India Markets Plc, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

The I-T Department had levied a tax amounting to Rs3,000 crore to the company's tax liabilities. Vodafone fought and won a similar case earlier.

Transfer pricing practices have been in focus all over the world, with multi-nationals transferring shares of international subsidiaries to parent companies and even sometimes into entities registered in tax havens. In India, the I-T Department's adversarial stance against multinationals like Vodafone and Shell has been blamed for flagging foreign investor confidence in the country.

Transfer pricing involves the transfer of shares of a company registered in India, in this case Shell India, to a foreign holding company or parent company, in this case, Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

The general principle is that the pricing of these shares should be in line with market prices of the shares. However, Shell had paid only Rs10 per share to the Indian subsidiary. This transfer of shares had taken place in 2009. Shell has argued, as had Vodafone, that such transfers of shares for channelling investments into subsidiary companies was a common practice and taxing the transfer would amount to taxing foreign investments into India.

The Bombay HC had read the law such that, the arm's length principle in transfer of shares should apply only when income, expense or interest is involved and not for other cases.

How the government and the I-T Department respond to the judgment will be crucial. If the I-T Department agrees to go by the Bombay HC order, some believe that it may help the case for higher inflows from foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and even foreign direct investment (FDI).

The Modi government has long pitched itself as business friendly and that it would not indulge in 'tax terrorism'. It remains to be seen how far this case goes, both, the Vodafone and Shell cases will have a bearing on the perception of the Tax regime in India.


Nifty, Sensex finding it tough to head higher– Tuesday closing report

A close below 8,400 in Nifty may trigger a short-term decline


After rising sharply on Monday to all-time highs, the Indian indices failed to gain momentum on Tuesday. The benchmark opened high, but was immediately pulled lower and struggled throughout the day to remain positive.

S&P BSE Sensex opened at 28,209 and hit a life time high of 28,283 from where it moved lower to hit a low of 28,120 and closed at 28,163 (down 15 points or 0.05%). The NSE’s CNX Nifty opened at 8,441 and moved lower to the level of 8,407 after hitting a high of 8,455. Nifty closed at 8,426 (down 5 points or 0.06%). NSE recorded a volume of 99.65 crore shares. India VIX fell 2.39% to close at 14.0650.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said most of the contentious issues on the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) have already been resolved. He said he would apprise the empowered committee of state finance ministers' about the draft Constitution Amendment Bill on GST before introducing it in the parliament.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed Monday between Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, Government of India and Department of Commerce, US on establishing an Infrastructure Collaboration Platform under which the two governments would coordinate with the goal of facilitating US industry participation in Indian infrastructure projects.

In a joint statement issued during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to Australia, stated that Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Modi agreed to expedite progress towards early conclusion of the administrative arrangements to implement the civil nuclear agreement signed between the two countries during Abbott's visit to India in September. Australian supply of uranium in coming years will enhance India's energy security, the joint statement stated.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad have reportedly agreed to work to resolve spectrum related issues. Based on various recommendations and agreements, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) expects Defence ministry to clear about 165 Mhz of spectrum across frequency bands. Out of all bands, there is immediate demand for 3G spectrum in frequency band 2100 Mhz.


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that spectrum in 2100 Mhz band, a part of which is with the Defence Ministry, should be put up for auction along with two sets of spectrum bands– 900Mhz and 1800Mhz in February next year, reports added.

Coming back to Indian stock markets, Reliance Communications (9.46%) was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE in spite of posting weak results on Friday.

Rasoya Proteins (19.89%) continued to be the top loser, after posting weak result last Friday, in ‘A’ group on the BSE and also hit its new 52-week low today.

Sesa Sterlite (4.09%) was the top gainer in Sensex 30 pack. There was news that it is planning to expand its copper smelter plant in Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu) with an investment of Rs2,500 crore. Under this expansion plan, the company reportedly plans to double the copper manufacturing capacity to 400,000 tonne per annum and set up a two power projects with 80 megawatts capacity.

Sun Pharma (1.94%) was the top loser in Sensex 30 stock. The company today clarified to BSE in regards to the news article appearing titled "Sun Pharma, Merck call off 3 year old JV" that "There is no termination of JV of Sun Pharma with Merck (MSD). So there is no information to be announced / furnished to the Exchanges under clause 36 of the Listing Agreement."

On Monday, US indices closed flat. Except for Shanghai Composite (0.71%), Hang Seng (1.13%) and Taiwan Weighted (0.28%) all the other Asian indices had closed in the green. Nikkei 225 (2.18%) was the top gainer.    

Deputy policy chief of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party reportedly said that the Japanese government will order the creation of an economic stimulus package.
European indices were trading strongly higher. US Futures were flat.


Jan Dhan Yojana: 74% accounts are with zero balance

According to a reply received under the RTI, as on 7 November 2014 a total of 7.1 crore bank accounts have been opened out of which 5.3 crore were accounts with 'Zero balance'


Around Rs5,400 crore have been deposited in over seven crore bank accounts opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana of which 74% accounts are with zero balance (no-frills account or Basic Savings Bank Deposit Account- BSBDA).


According to a reply received by Subhash Agrawal under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, as on 7 November 2014 a total of 7.1 crore bank accounts have been opened of which 5.3 crore were accounts with 'zero balance'. The data was provided by Department of Financial Services.


The reply provided to Agrawal says the total balance in these accounts was Rs5,482 crore. Majority of these accounts, over 4.2 crore, have been opened in rural areas, whereas in urban areas 2.9 crore have been opened.


The highest number of accounts, under the scheme, has been opened by State Bank of India (SBI), which started over 1.2 crore new accounts followed by Bank of Baroda which opened 38 lakh accounts and Canara Bank 37 lakh accounts, it said.


PMJDY is national mission for financial inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely, banking and savings and deposit accounts, remittance, credit, insurance, pension in an affordable manner.


It focuses on coverage of households as against the earlier plan, which focused on coverage of villages.


An overdraft facility up to Rs5,000 would be available to one account holder of PMJDY per household after six months of satisfactory conduct of the account.


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