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Shipping companies plan to replace old vessels with newer ones. But these moves may be affected due to the tonnage tax code and the additional tax on capital gains earned from such phased-out vessels
With the decline in asset prices for new ships, many shipping companies are planning to replace their fleet with newer vessels. However, the tonnage tax and the additional capital gains tax charged on earnings from phased-out or sold vessels could be a stumbling block, says a tax expert.
“As per the tonnage tax code, shipping companies have to pay tax as per their total tonnage and not on a profit or loss basis. When you sell a ship, you realise a certain amount and when you realise more than the depreciated value, it is a capital gain, which is not covered in the tonnage tax code. Thus, the company has to pay an additional tax on this capital gain,” said Samir Kanabar, partner for tax and regulatory services, Ernst and Young.
Talking about the likely effect of this tax on the balance sheets of shipping companies, he said, “For the phasing-out of single-hull vessels, a 9-12 month window is available. In this period, people will either be upgrading or selling (their fleet). This will thus start reflecting in the next two to three quarters in their books.”
Typically, companies which are actively buying new ships, also have a considerable number of vessels to be phased out. Shipping Corp of India (SCI) has recently placed an advertisement for two more new ships. Moneylife had earlier reported that SCI had 10 single-hull vessels to be phased out, out of which it has already sold five ships. It plans to sell the remaining five by 2010.
GE Shipping is planning to sell five single-hull ships for scrapping. “We may not necessarily phase out all the vessels by 2010. We will plan the phase-out as per the opportunities available and will consider fixing a fleet-age limit of 25 years,” said Anjali Kumar, head of corporate communications, GE Shipping.
Mercator Lines also plans to phase out three of its existing single-hull vessels ahead of the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) guidelines on phasing out of single-hull vessels.
Apart from the phase-out, the tax expert pointed out that shipping companies are buying new ships and selling old ones even if it is not mandatory, in order to have a younger fleet. “In terms of buying a new ship, the tax code does not matter, other than the added tonnage tax. However, you have to pay an added tax on the capital gains from the old ship sale,” Mr Kanabar said.
A 70-year-old non-resident Indian woman was lured into buying an insurance plan by paying a single premium of Rs10 lakh when she approached a bank to open an NRE account
Mis-selling by institutions like insurance companies is not new. However, with more and more financial institutions entering the insurance market, customers of a particular institution are being lured and sometimes even forced to buy co-branded products. One such incident highlights the need for stricter practices by insurance companies.
About a year ago, a 70-year-old non-resident Indian (NRI) woman went to one of the largest private sector banks in the country to open a non-resident external (NRE) account. While opening the account, an executive from the bank lured the lady into buying a co-branded insurance product under the pretext of ‘mandatory’ rules. He also told her that she will have to pay the amount of Rs10 lakh only once. With no option left for opening the account, the lady obliged and left for her overseas home.
“When that lady returned after 12 months, she was asked to pay one more premium for the insurance plan. Since the bank would not return the money which she had paid for the first premium, she was again forced to pay the second instalment for the insurance policy that was forced upon her,” revealed an independent financial advisor (IFA).
It was later found that the executive who had sold the lady the insurance policy was no longer working with the bank.
In another case, another executive from the same bank has allegedly duped a 60-year-old into paying a premium for an insurance plan for one year and later told him to forget about it.
These are only two examples of cheating by executives from financial institutions, who more than often try to sell a co-branded product to innocent customers.
To tackle such increasing fraudulent cases, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) introduced a banking ombudsman scheme under Section 35 (A) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. The Act is in effect from 1995. A customer can register a complaint with an ombudsman if no reply is received from the bank within one month, or if the bank rejects the complaint, or if the customer is not satisfied with the reply given by the bank. If a complaint is not settled within one month, the banking ombudsman may pass an award up to Rs10 lakh or to the extent of the losses suffered by the customer up to Rs10 lakh, whichever amount is lower. Between the years 2002-06, the banking ombudsman has settled around 36,000 complaints.
The Internet payment gateway says that its services to and from India will remain suspended for a few months due to revised licensing rules
Popular electronic payment gateway PayPal Inc has said that personal payments to and from India will be suspended for at least a few months until it fully resolves the questions from Indian regulators.
In a blog, Anuj Nayar, director for global communications at PayPal, said that it temporarily suspended local bank transfers and personal payments to and from India to respond to enquiries from Indian regulators, specifically questions on whether personal payments constitute remittances into the country.
"We’re working with the regulators and our bank-processing partners in India to get this resolved as quickly as we can. We realise that this is causing considerable inconvenience to our customers and I want to reassure you that this is a top priority for the leadership at PayPal," Mr Nayar said.
Officials from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), who previously told Moneylife that the central bank had no idea why this was happening and PayPal doesn't come under RBI's purview, were not immediately available for comments after PayPal admitted that there was some issue with Indian regulators.
Talking about the availability of local bank withdrawals in India, Mr Nayar said that customers should be able to transfer their funds to a local bank within the next few days. "In the meantime, we’re going to restore the money into the PayPal accounts of any customers in India who have initiated a recent withdrawal, so they know that the money is safe in their accounts. Customers will also be reimbursed for any withdrawal fee charges," he added.
In case of any PayPal reversal that has left many customers in India with negative balance, Mr Nayar has advised them to contact the senders and have them resend the payment for purchase of goods or services by clicking on the 'Send Money' tab and selecting 'Purchase'. However, in case of a personal payment, he said, "The sender will need to find another payment method until we restore the service.”
"If you can’t recover the funds from the sender, you can bring your PayPal balance current by logging into the PayPal account and clicking the 'Resolve Negative Balance' link on the ‘Account Overview’ page," Mr Nayar said.