Neither the RBI nor the SEBI was interested in regulating deposits collected by jewellers. Now, new Rules under the Companies Act 2013, are forcing corporate jewellers to stop such schemes
Reliance Retail Ltd said it has decided to discontinue its 'Golden Steps Jewellery Purchase Scheme' and 'Diamond Dream Jewellery Purchase Scheme' with immediate effect. The company will not accept fresh or further subscription or instalments for these schemes, Reliance Retail said in an advertisement.
"Subscribers to the jewellery purchase schemes are requested to visit the Reliance Jewels store where they have opened their account, along with their ID proof, address proof and Scheme related documents in original, for redemption and closure of accounts with jewellery purchases before 31 October 2014," the advertisement reads.
Under Rule 3(6) of Companies (Acceptance of Deposits) Rules, 2014, no company can accept deposit, which carries a rate of interest more than what has been prescribed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for deposit accepting non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).
In other words, jewellers' gold savings schemes needs to be on par with public-deposit schemes. The Rules limit the return companies can offer to deposit holders to 12% and caps the total amount of deposits to 25% of their net-worth.
The way to comply with new Rules is to return the deposits to the public before 1 April 2015. If not, they will be penalised in accordance with the provisions of the Act. It means small or big jewellers will have to comply. But, will it cause trouble for small jewellers, especially if the size of deposits is huge when compared to its own net-worth? Have the jewellers kept the deposited money in safe instruments like bank fixed-deposits (FD) or in risky avenues? Moreover, have they really kept it aside or have they been using it for business operations, which can make the refunds to everyone virtually impossible?
Moneylife had written in mid February 2014 about jeweller gold savings scheme coming under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) scanner. But SEBI is yet to wake up to thousands of crores invested by consumers in gold savings schemes of jewellers which can easily qualify as collective investment schemes. SEBI and RBI had replied to an Right to Information (RTI) application stating that such schemes are not regulated by them at all.
Moneylife had done a survey last year for our cover story on gold. Almost half of the respondents were aware of jewellery gold savings schemes offered by jewellers such as Tanishq, but surprisingly only 15%would invest in such schemes and it was more for ease of payment rather than for better returns or tax savings.
The new Rules may not apply to 'Gold Deposit Schemes' (GDS). A gold savings scheme is the opposite of GDS, which is offered by banks like SBI and registered NBFC. GDS from jewellers is unregulated. Under GDS, you give your gold to get a higher quantity of gold at the end of one year, or get monthly payment as well as return of your gold at end of the term. The interest rate for SBI GDS three-year deposit is 0.75%, for four and five years it is 1%. It’s not great, but it is calculated in gold terms. Jewellers offer a high rate of interest of 7.5%, but there is absolutely no safety.
It would be far more realistic and practical, if contractors like Cairn have an automatic authorisation to increase output by upto 25% more than the "permitted" or "authorised" clearances
It is gratifying to note that the Ministry of Environment and Forests has given its approval to Cairn India to raise its oil output in the Barmer fields in Rajasthan, from its current (about) 200,000 barrels a day to 300,000 barrels. Now Cairn plans to spend some $3 billion on the oil recovery programme and also to double the natural gas output in the State. At the moment, Barmer fields reserves are said to hold 3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of oil.
The production sharing contract (PSC) for Cairn expires in May 2020 and is renewable by ten years.
The gestation period required for increasing the oil production by 100,000 barrels a day to reach 300,000 barrels would take about two years to achieve. The "in place" reserve of oil identified by the company is about 5.8 billion barrels and by March 2015, this may increase by 1.2 billion barrels to reach 7 billion barrels.
It is reported that Cairn is already working on the new gas plant at Raageshwari Gas Terminal to process 85 mscmd of gas. It may be noted that the Rajasthan Block output is 183,164 barrels of oil equivalent (oil and some gas). It may be recalled that the oil production started in 2009 but could be only commercialised in March 2013.
In so far as Cairn is concerned, between 2011-12 and 2014-15 (so far), there have been 40 discoveries, consisting of 18 oil and 22 gas, on land and offshore. But declaration of commerciality has been reviewed for four discoveries only (by block management).
Although the overall demand for gas has been rising in the country, actual gas production has been 129 million standard cubic metres per day in 2014-15. This was stated by Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in the Parliament recently. He also mentioned under the production sharing contract regime, discoveries made are required to be developed in accordance within the specified time frame. His ministry would be following up this matter regularly with all concerned.
Dharmendra Pradhan reiterated that the Government has "the right to conduct oil and gas block audit" under Section 1.9 of the Accounting Procedure of the Production sharing contract and to audit all fields, both pre-NELP and NELP blocks.
What is important, however, is that an "audit" happens after an "event" is actually over! What we need to do is to ensure that the government has a watch-dog committee of technically qualified personnel to make surprise inspections of the fields from time to time. Also, there is a need to oversee that the mutually agreed regime is in place and that the work is progressing accordingly.
Digressing for a moment, if the past is any criterion, government officials charged, at least in the case of Reliance Industries Ltd, that they (contractor) did not drill sufficient wells to tap gas resources in KG-D6. For example, if "x" number of wells are planned to be drilled to explore gas/oil resources, this watch-dog committee must be on their toes to ensure that this job is actually done. A day lost in not doing the assigned job is lost for ever!
Now, as we can see in the case of Cairn, it will take anything upto two years more before they could increase the oil production to 300,000 barrels a day to have all the needed equipment in place and do all the spade work that is needed to get on with the job. It would be far more realistic and practical, if contractors like Cairn have an automatic authorisation to increase the output upto 25% more than the "permitted" or "authorised" clearances. We do not know how long it took Cairn to get the MOEF clearance to move from 200,000 to 300,000 barrels a day. But we do know now that it would take something like two years before this can be reached! Why not have automatic authorisations for increasing the production capacity of "x" percentage? Why should the process of "obtaining" clearance be enforced?
In the meantime, the Fertiliser Ministry is setting up a task force to draft a policy - in the next two-three weeks - to work out a new Policy. It seems the new fertiliser policy will be focusing on bio-fertilizers, organic products and micro-nutrients. It may be remembered that the Fertiliser Ministry has been demanding an increase in the domestic gas allocation to urea plants so as to replace the costly imported LNG, which is currently being used as feed stock by some. Such a move may save the government about Rs15,000 crore in subsidy. We need to increase the gas production from contractors like Cairn, Reliance, ONGC and GSPC.
The point that we make on this issue is all the gas and oil producers are already operating in their assigned territories after getting the needed MOEF clearances. Therefore, in order to increase their production, if possible, they should not be made to go through the regime of getting additional "clearances" for all those departments once again, as this means loss of time.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
Over 70% feel satisfied with free e-filing facilitiy probided by the Income Tax department. However, only half are using tax calculators to verify
Our online survey on “Do you e-file of your tax returns” received 688 responses. At first glance, the survey shows that an overwhelming 65% are doing their own e-filing, while 26% are using the services of a tax advisor or a chartered accountant (CA). Only 13% are using paid e-filing sites when compared to nearly 80% using I-T department’s free e-filing website.
Over 70% of the respondents, who have used free e-filing feel that it is easy or somewhat easy. It means I-T department e-filing services have come a long way and still dominate, even though paid e-filing services claim to provide easy filing and better support. Six out of 10 respondents who have used paid e-filing are also satisfied and hence e-filing services are providing value for the charges. Those who file by visiting the I-T office to submit should consider e-filing for convenience and ease.
A good 87% claim to understand the calculations in tax returns. But, only one in two respondents have used online or offline tax calculator to verify tax computation. Tax calculators do help to catch any error in your tax returns preparation before it is e-filed.
Two out of 10 respondents have not looked at Form 26AS before filing tax returns. This is a matter of concern as you are overlooking the critical information that can even help to reduce taxes. For example, you may have missed the credits for TDS. On the other hand, the I-T department will catch you, if you failed to report the bank interest for which TDS was deducted.
Over 78% have easily got Form 16/16A from employer and banks, which means the process is now smooth. Only 44% out of those who were eligible for refund have received it within six months of tax filing. It means the majority of consumers are still struggling to get their tax refund even after six months delay. Nearly eight out of 10 respondents who were required to pay taxes found e-tax payment easy. It means you don’t have to visit banks to pay taxes. Tax payers are doing it online.