SEBI looking at I-T relief for RGESS investors in failed NFOs

SEBI is looking to find a process which guarantees that tax savers who invested under the RGESS are not affected by matters completely beyond their control, like an NFO failure

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said it is looking at how the interests of investors in the Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS) can be safeguarded with regard to income tax (I-T) relief in case the fund houses return their money for failing to raise the targeted amount.
SEBI chairman UK Sinha told reporters that “We are looking into it and will soon come out with an approach paper on this. We do not want the people, who have legitimately applied in the hope of getting tax relief, to suffer. I am not saying there will be relaxations; I am just saying we are looking into it.” 
As per SEBI regulations, if a new fund offer (NFO) is not able to garner the minimum amount, the fund house has to return the money to investors within a certain period, failing which it has to pay penal interest of 15% to the investor.
However, in that case, the investors would miss income tax relief to which they were otherwise entitled.
“We have to find a process where the tax-savers are not left with disadvantages for reasons beyond their control,” Sinha said.
With some fund houses not being able to mop up the minimum subscription for the RGESS, they would be required to return the money to all those who had invested in the scheme.


Mumbai commuters fuming over another hike in auto and taxi fares from 1st May

Not that BEST and the railways have spared Mumbai commuters, but auto and taxi fares will go up on 1st May, leaving many fuming

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA), which is scheduled to meet this month, is reportedly pondering a hike in auto and taxi fare from 1st May. This has left several commuters fuming as they are already burdened with the recent fare hikes from BEST and the railways.


According to media reports, the unions of auto and taxi drivers believe that the fare would go up by at least Re1 due to increase in cost of living index from October 2012 to March 2013.


"The increase in fares has already been steep, to the extent that, where possible, commuters are avoiding autos. The deal is very unfair for passengers. Mumbai commuters' woes have multiplied manifold after the clamp down by the RTO on 'meter tampering' by auto and taxi drivers. Seeing refusals to ply and the callous attitude of the drivers, even the thought of such demands is most disturbing," said MS Mirchandani in an email.


Last year, the state government accepted the recommendation of one-man Hakim Committee, which, among other things, said that auto and taxi fares should be revised every May based on various factors, including cost of living index.


"As far as the date on which fare revisions are to be effected, it should preferably be on the first of May (since the impact of different taxes and levies imposed by the Central and state budgets will be known by then). The revision should be made on 1 May 2013, and on every 1st May thereafter," the Hakim Committee had said.


Mr Mirchandani said, "If the demands, as spelt out, are acceded to, auto and taxi drivers will be better off than most people in the organised sector. Bear in mind that though the drivers have bargaining power, they are not in the organised sector per se that they can demand long term benefits. And India is not a welfare state."


Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, a consumer organisation, had already challenged the Hakim Committee report and the matter is in court.


According to Mr Mirchandani, the demand (of auto and taxi driver unions) covers many items repeatedly. "Rightly, the Committee has dropped the demand for including 'fines' paid to the police and other authorities for violations of law. Future demands can also cover and provide for cost of idle running; LTA; inflation adjusted accounting; contribution to PF, Gratuity, NPS, ESIC and compensation for not driving an auto when ill (some kind of 'loss of profit' policy). Many other heads can be added to further boost the figures and the 'inflated' claims," he added.


S&P places Vedanta Resources on negative watch due to delay in debt refinancing

Vedanta's ability to tie-up funding to refinance its sizable maturities will continue to be tested in the next 18 months, even if the company can refinance its April and June 2013 maturities, according to the ratings agency

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) said it placed its 'BB' foreign currency long-term corporate credit rating on Vedanta Resources PLC on CreditWatch with Negative Implications, due to the delay by the company in refinancing its large maturing debt obligations.


“Vedanta's ability to tie-up sizable funding to refinance its maturities will continue to be tested in the next 18 months, even if the company can refinance its April and June 2013 maturities,” S&P said.


It said Vedanta is expected to eventually garner funding for the debt maturities. “However, Vedanta's inability to plan and execute a strategy to diversify funding sources, lengthen maturities, and improve its less than adequate liquidity could pressurize the rating further,” the ratings agency added.


The company has, however, tied up the majority of the funds for its $809-million debt maturing on 29 April 2013 and is tying up the rest. Vedanta is also in the process of securing funding for its $1,350 million debt due 6 June 2013.


Since acquiring India-based oil company Cairn India Ltd in December 2011, dividends received by Vedanta has formed only a small part of its large debt servicing needs. The holding company does not maintain any credit lines and, therefore, needs to rely on external sources of funding for refinancing, adds S&P.


S&P also placed its 'BB' rating on Vedanta's outstanding issuances on CreditWatch with Negative Implications.


S&P said it could even lower the rating for Vedanta (a) in the unlikely event that it does not tie up all the funding for its April 2013 maturities by 12 April 2013; (b) if Vedanta fails to finalise funding for its June 2013 maturity at least one month before the maturity date; or (c) if Vedanta's refinancing framework and financial management strategy are not conducive to lengthen the maturities, diversify funding sources, strengthen liquidity at the holding company, and improve access to cash at the subsidiaries.


Vedanta has been in the news often over the past one year and its difficulties have been covered in the following Moneylife articles:


Vedanta gave ‘illegal’ political donations in India?


Vedanta’s Millions: Which political party benefited from it? By Sucheta Dalal


Vedanta’s ‘happiness’ backfires; celebrities pull out of PR campaign


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