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Taxing trouble for M&A special purpose vehicles

June 11, 2021 - 8:21am
Mumbai: A large number of recent merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, where the promoters created either separate companies or subsidiaries for the sole purpose of selling stakes, could invite tax scrutiny due to the new slump sales regulations. Almost all large deals in 2020 and 2021, where private equity or other strategic investors picked up stakes, were structured using a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to securitise assets in a separate company, say industry trackers. The new regulations by CBDT mandate that companies value the transferred assets at a “fair market value.”The new rules have also prescribed a methodology for that.Using the new regulations, the taxman is set to challenge the transferring of assets and will demand that additional taxes be paid.“All the transactions where assets were transferred from one entity to another before selling stake to private equity buyers are set to face complications on account of new slump sale regulations,” said Girish Vanvari, founder of tax advisory firm Transaction Square. “In many cases, the question is about a company valuing intangibles like technology and brands that are expensed out in the past, or leasehold real estate assets that are located in industrial zones.”In a slump sale, companies, entities or assets are sold lock, stock and barrel on a going-concern basis.In almost all transactions involving Indian groups where a new company has been carved, assets are valued taking into consideration old slump sale regulations that did not have a precise methodology to value assets.The rules announced recently say that if a company owns various assets such as shares, land, gold or painting, they can be valued individually and then sold. Under old rules, assets need not be valued separately. In several cases, say insiders, companies have reached out to tax lawyers and tax consultants to figure out the impact.
Categories: Business News

Govt dismisses reports on CoWIN being hacked

June 11, 2021 - 2:21am
The Centre on Thursday debunked media reports about CoWIN being hacked, stating that prima facie, these reports appear to be fake and that the portal stores all the vaccination data in a safe and secure digital environment. "There have been some unfounded media reports on the CoWIN platform being hacked. Prima facie, these reports appear to be fake," a statement issued by the Union health ministry said. However, the ministry and the Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration (EGVAC) are getting the matter investigated by the Computer Emergency Response Team of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MietY), the statement said. Dr R S Sharma, Chairman of the Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration (CoWIN), clarified that "our attention has been drawn towards the news circulating on social media about the alleged hacking of the CoWIN system. In this connection, we wish to state that CoWIN stores all the vaccination data in a safe and secure digital environment. No CoWIN data is shared with any entity outside the CoWIN environment. The data being claimed as having been leaked such as the geo-location of beneficiaries, is not even collected at CoWIN".
Categories: Business News

Spike in counterfeiting of PPE kit: Report

June 11, 2021 - 2:21am
The COVID-19 lockdown witnessed a sharp spike in counterfeiting incidents in pharmaceutical products, especially PPE kits and sanitisers, as per a report by industry body ASPA. Counterfeiting incidents in India have risen "rapidly" in the last few years, with a 20 per cent growth from January 2018 to December 2020, the Authentication Solution Providers' Association (ASPA) said. The top five sectors which have been most affected by counterfeiting are -- alcohol, tobacco, FMCG packaged goods, currency and pharmaceuticals. They together constitute more than 84 per cent of the total counterfeiting incidents reported. Within the last month, there have been a number of cases reported of fake COVID-19 medication. "Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the high demand for medicines, health supplements, safety products, hygiene products and other essentials created due to the COVID crisis and contaminating the market by selling fake and sub-standard products," said the report, titled 'The State of Counterfeiting in India - 2021'. The pandemic has also shown that criminals quickly adapt to the new trade environment and find ways to infiltrate legitimate supply chains with duplicate and often dangerous products. Professional fraudsters are now using the latest manufacturing and printing technologies to duplicate finishes, print boxes, labels, codes, and packaging that mimic genuine products perfectly, ASPA added. The increasing incidents of frauds such as diversion, counterfeiting and black marketing of medicines and others essential items are further adding challenges for healthcare professionals already exhausted due to shortage of manpower, it added. ASPA is a self-regulated industry body of anti-counterfeiting and traceability solutions providers. Its report studies and highlights the trends of counterfeiting incidents reported in India for the period January 2018 to December 2020. "According to the report, counterfeiting incidents have risen rapidly /steadily in the last few years. On an average the increase in counterfeiting incidents being reported in the last 3 years has been 20 per cent (from January 2018 to December 2020)," it said. Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Bihar, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Odisha are the top 10 states which need urgent attention in respect to counterfeit incidents, the report added. Tobacco products faced the highest jump in counterfeiting in 2020 over 2019 and 2018, it said. Now counterfeiting activities are not limited to high-end luxury items but also extend to day to day products like cumin seeds, mustard cooking oil, ghee, hair oil, soaps, baby care items and medicines. ASPA President Nakul Pasricha said counterfeit products and illicit trade would further slow down the Indian economy recovery. "A big challenge is that counterfeiters are becoming smarter, better funded, and organized. In this scenario, the onus on all impacted parties to stay ahead of them is even more critical," said Pasricha. Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the pandemic, he said, adding, "The trends we observe are alarming and call for immediate action."
Categories: Business News

Lockdown to continue in 11 districts: K'taka CM

June 10, 2021 - 11:21pm
COVID-19 induced lockdown measures will continue in 11 districts of Karnataka which have a high positivity rate till June 21, while some relaxations will be given in the rest of the state from June 14, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said on Thursday. He also said that the COVID curfew will be imposed from 7 PM to 5 AM and weekend curfew will be imposed from 7 PM on Friday to 5 AM on Monday, after the current lockdown in the state comes to end on June 14. "Current restrictions will continue in all eleven districts with high positivity rate till 6am on June 21, in the rest of the districts some of the restrictions have been relaxed. However, concerned Deputy Commissioners and District in-charge Ministers can take a call to impose more restrictions in their districts," Yediyurappa said. Speaking to reporters after meeting with senior Ministers and officials, he said the decision has been taken based on suggestions made by the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee, consisting of experts. "In districts with high positivity rate- Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, Davangere, Mysuru, Chamarajanagara, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Bengaluru Rural, Mandya, Belagavi and in Kodagu- there will be no changes in the current guidelines," he added. The relaxation in lockdown measures will be in place from 6 AM on June 14 to 6 AM on June 21. Noting that restrictions are being relaxed in the rest of the state other than 11 districts, the Chief Minister said, all industries have been permitted to operate with 50 per cent staff strength, but garment industries can operate with 30 per cent staff strength. Shops selling essential goods have been permitted to operate till 2 PM by extending their duration from 10 AM earlier; also all construction activities will be permitted, and shops needed for construction activities like cement, steel among others have also been allowed to open, he said. Parks will be opened from 5 AM to 10 AM for walkers, street vendors can do their business from 6 AM to 2 PM, and auto and taxis are allowed to ply with maximum two passengers, he added. If the situation comes under control as per the expectations it will help the government to announce further relaxations, Yediyurappa said as he sought the cooperation of everyone in this regard. Responding to a question on public transport buses and functioning of government officers, he said for now buses are not permitted to operate, while important departments of the government can operate with 50 per cent staff. Hotels and restaurants will continue to do parcel service and bars will be open for takeaways till 2 PM. The Karnataka government had initially announced 14 days 'close-down' from April 27, but subsequently imposed a complete lockdown from May 10 to May 24, as the COVID cases continued to spike. Citing lockdown yielding results and experts' advice, it was further extended till June 7 and then again till June 14.
Categories: Business News

BookMyShow lays off 200 as Covid batters movie biz

June 10, 2021 - 11:21pm
BookMyShow, an online platform for booking movie tickets and entertainment events, has laid off 200 people, cofounder and chief executive Ashish Hemrajani tweeted on Thursday evening.This is the second major layoff at the company in the last one year as movie theatres largely remain shut and outdoor events have come to a standstill. In May last year, BookMyshow had to let go of 270 people as the first Covid-19 wave hit the country. Before the pandemic, the Mumbai-based company had around 1,500 people. Now the number has dipped to around 1,000.“Covid-19 has taught me many lessons & I learnt another one today. As we let go of 200 of the most incredibly talented & performance driven individuals, each & everyone has messaged, thanking me for the opportunity, the love for @bookmyshow, and asking me if they could help,” Hemrajani said in a tweet thread.COVID19 has taught me many lessons & I learnt another one today. As we let go of 200 of the most incredibility tale… https://t.co/bQhZnFVcgz— ashish hemrajani (@fafsters) 1623336521000He also sought leads for new opportunities for the impacted employees so that they can find new jobs. “They will contribute incredibly to the growth of your wonderful firms. I’m sure we will all come out stronger,” he added.BookMyShow used to get around 65% of its revenue from movie ticketing. Its pay-per-view movie streaming vertical is still nascent.“They (BookMyShow) had thought there would be a full recovery by now, but the second wave has changed all of that. The current layoffs would allow them to handle the impact of the pandemic for a year,” a person aware of the matter said.
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India's genome sequencing efforts get a boost

June 10, 2021 - 11:21pm
Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), a network that monitors mutants of Covid-19 virus has newly formed a consortium of four city clusters to ramp up India’s coronavirus genome sequencing work. American Rockefeller Foundation will fund the cluster initiative. Research institutes in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi and Pune form these four clusters. “The consortium will track the emergence of viral variants correlated to epidemiological and clinical outcomes,” the media statement from Bengaluru based National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), which is a part of the consortium, said.The coalition aims to develop strategies and capabilities to identify variants of concern before they spread widely and cause outbreaks. “This will help correlate with clinical symptoms and disease severity, potentially associated with emerging variants,” the team said. The initiative involves target sampling strategies based on granular epidemiological and clinical data. It will also include intense environmental surveillance and advanced computational techniques to get accurate data. It will also focus on building capabilities for real-time surveillance and epidemiology.CSIR-Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, will lead the consortium. Other partners include NCBS-TIFR, Institute for Stem Cell Science & Regenerative Medicine (InStem) and NIMHANS in Bengaluru, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in Delhi, Pune Knowledge Cluster, IISER and CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory in Pune. CCMB advisor Rakesh Mishra will lead the efforts. CCMB director Vinay Nandicoori said the much-needed collaboration will bring all strengths of all these institutes together in a structured fashion. Bengaluru partner NCBS director Satyajit Mayor said: "leveraging the capacity of each of the city clusters both in academic institutions and industry, is a much-needed effort at this time. This can help create a sustainable platform for genomic surveillance long after Covid, and for many other infectious diseases."
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Man gets 4-month sentence for slapping Macron

June 10, 2021 - 11:21pm
A 28-year-old Frenchman who described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right "patriot" was sentenced to four months in prison Thursday for slapping President Emmanuel Macron in the face. Damien Tarel was also banned from ever holding public office in France and from owning weapons for five years over the swipe Tuesday, which caught Macron's left cheek with an audible thwack as the French leader was greeting a crowd. During Thursday's trial, Tarel testified that the attack was impulsive and unplanned, and prompted by anger at France's "decline." He sat straight and showed no emotion as the court in the southeastern city of Valence convicted him on a charge of violence against a person invested with public authority. He was sentenced to four months in prison and handed an additional 14-month suspended sentence. His girlfriend broke down in tears. Tarel, who shouted a centuries-old royalist war cry as he hit the president, described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right "patriot" and member of the yellow vest economic protest movement that shook Macron's presidency in 2018 and 2019. Poised and calm, he firmly defended his action and his views on Macron, without providing details of what policies he wants France to change. Tarel acknowledged hitting the president with a "rather violent" slap. "When I saw his friendly, lying look, I felt disgust, and I had a violent reaction," he told the court. "It was an impulsive reaction... I was surprised myself by the violence." While he said he and his friends had considered bringing an egg or a cream pie to throw at the president, he said they dropped the idea - and insisted that the slap wasn't premeditated. "I think that Emmanuel Macron represents the decline of our country," he said, without explaining what he meant. He told investigators that he held right- or ultra-right political convictions without being a member of a party or group, according to the prosecutor's office. The slap called attention to an assortment of ultra-right groups bubbling beneath France's political landscape, which are considered increasingly dangerous despite their small following. Macron wouldn't comment Thursday on the trial, but insisted that "nothing justifies violence in a democratic society, ever." "It's not such a big deal to get a slap when you go toward a crowd to say hello to some people who were waiting for a long time," he said in an interview with broadcaster BFM-TV. "We must not make that stupid and violent act more important than it is." At the same time, the president added, "we must not make it banal, because anyone with public authority is entitled to respect." Another man arrested in the ruckus that followed the slap, identified by the prosecutor as Arthur C., will be judged at a later date, in 2022, for illegal possession of weapons. The prosecutor's office said as well as finding weapons, police who searched the home of Arthur C. also found books on the art of war, a copy of Adolf Hitler's manifesto "Mein Kampf," and two flags, one symbolising Communists and another of the Russian revolution. Neither Tarel nor Arthur C., also 28, had police records, the prosecutor said. Videos showed Macron's attacker slapping the French leader's left cheek and his bodyguards pushing the man away during a quick meet-and-greet with members of the public, who were kept back behind traffic barriers in the winemaking town of Tain-l'Hermitage. The attacker was heard to cry out "Montjoie! Saint Denis!" a centuries-old royalist war cry, before finishing with "A bas la Macronie," or "Down with Macron."
Categories: Business News

Will insurance stocks survive death claims & taxes?

June 10, 2021 - 11:21pm
The insurance industry is battling on multiple fronts. Life insurers have seen a spike in claims due to surging covid deaths. Introduction of optional tax regime and tax on high-value Ulips are also negatives. Health insurers are facing a barrage of claims while motor insurance premiums have been hit amid lockdowns. Can insurance stocks face the music?Life insurers paid out covid-related claims worth Rs 1,986 crore in 2020-21. In 2019-20—a normal year—aggregate death claims paid by life insurers stood at Rs 18,042 crore. The total death claims paid for in 2020-21 are not known yet, but numbers reported by individual insurers reveal a lot. ICICI Prudential Life saw death claims in 2020-21 jump to 1.89 lakh compared to 1.11 lakh the previous year. SBI Life received 67,000 death claims in 2020-21 relative to around 50,000 the previous year. The devastating second wave are likely to eclipse these numbers. “The claim experience is likely to stay adverse over the next couple of quarters, all the more due to delays in reporting claims. Claims in first half of current financial year may easily surpass the total claims seen in 2020-21,” say analysts at Motilal Oswal Financial Services.The irony of recommending a life insurer in the middle of a pandemic is not lost on analysts. Yet, they feel this doesn’t alter the sector’s growth runway. Analysts at Edelweiss Securities say the mortality spike is not material enough. At an aggregate level, life insurers are more savings than mortality businesses. The pure protection element remains a relatively minor proportion on a balance sheet basis.Besides, a large part of the mortality risk is transferred out to reinsurers. Under reinsurance, the company passes on some part of its own insurance liabilities to the other insurance company. It enables insurers to stay solvent by restricting losses due to excessive claims. ICICI Prudential Life Insurance received covid-related claims of Rs 459 crore in 2020-21 of which Rs 195 crore was reinsured. Of the Rs 231 crore gross claims paid by HDFC Life for covid deaths, claims totalling Rs 86 crore were reinsured. Even though reinsurers have hiked rates in response to the higher mortalities, this is expected to be short-lived. Moreover, life insurers have made higher provisions for covid-led mortality spikes. “Given the sharp rise in fatality rates, insurers would need to shore up provisioning buffers. However, this does not pose any material risk to the balance sheet, solvency ratios, in our view,” insist analysts at MOFSL.SBI Life has seen faster growth among life insurers 83257231The other perceived dampener for life insurers is on the taxation front. First, the introduction of the optional new tax regime—replacing any deductions under Section 80C with lower tax rates—threatened to rob Ulips of their tax advantage. A large part of Ulip sales happens in the fourth quarter. This portion of demand faced uncertainty, but has not been impacted much as individuals have shown preference for sticking to the old tax regime.The last Budget removed LTCG tax exemption for Ulips with annual premium greater than Rs 2.5 lakh. With 80C income tax benefits already restricted, forward demand scenario for Ulips appeared grim. But this has not played out nearly as badly. “Ulip volumes in the five quarters following the tax regime change seem to have vindicated our stance that demand destruction was likely to be limited in a narrow range,” reiterate analysts at Edelweiss.Analysts say recent negatives bear a disproportionate overhang on valuations of life insurance stocks, ignoring multiple levers of growth lying ahead for the sector. Edelweiss analysts say there has not been a period of better risk- reward for life insurance stocks in the last five years. “While the March quarter results of the Big 3 (HDFC Life, ICICI Prudential Life and SBI Life) and blockbuster monthly numbers at large have started attracting attention to the yawning valuation gap vis-à-vis fundamentals, the multiple re-rating has barely started,” they note. ICICI Prudential Life and SBI Life remain their top picks. Non-life insurers are more exposed to the pandemic. Industry wide Covid-related health claims which stood at Rs 14,561 crore by end of 31 March 2021 escalated to Rs 23,715 crore on 20 May. This is a rise of 63% in just 50 days. During 2019-20, non-life insurers received aggregate health claims amounting to Rs 45,783 crore. Industry losses are higher on covid-specific polices, where insurers failed to gauge extent of risk. Meanwhile, motor insurance is facing the brunt of curbs on mobility. Motor premiums moderated in 2020-21 owing to weakness in new vehicle sales and lower freight volumes.HDFC Securities says the road ahead is bumpy for ICICI Lombard, the only listed general insurer. Overall loss ratios are likely to go up given the resurgence in covid claims and increased motor traffic, resulting in higher combined operating ratios (a measure of general insurance underwriting profitability) . “Given the uncertainties, we rate ICICI Lombard a REDUCE,” it notes. Yes Securities has cut its premium growth estimates for ICICI Lombard. It slightly tweaked claim ratios to factor lower growth in the motor OD (own damage) segment and claim ratios in health and motor segment to inch higher.
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One in two Indian-Americans say they face bias

June 10, 2021 - 11:21pm
WASHINGTON: They are the second-largest immigrant group in the United States and wildly successful academically, professionally, and financially. But that does not inure the 4 million-strong Indian-American community from discrimination and prejudice in the US even as many of them channel their religious and caste identities into America. A new 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey released on Wednesday reveals that one in two Indian Americans report being discriminated against in the past year (during the Trump term), with prejudice based on skin color identified as the most common form of bias. Somewhat surprisingly, the report adds, Indian Americans born in the US are much more likely to report being victims of discrimination than counterparts born outside.The survey, conducted jointly by Johns Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Endowment, with polling group YouGov, unspools data that suggests discrimination based on skin color is the most common form of bias, with 30 percent of respondents report feeling discriminated against due to the color of their skin. An equal percentage of respondents—18 per cent apiece—report that they have been discriminated against due to their gender or religion. Overall, 31 per cent of respondents reported that discrimination against people of Indian origin is a major problem, 53 percent believe it is a minor problem, and a small minority (17 per cent) believe it is not a problem at all. Placed in a comparative context though, the survey shows a majority of respondents -- 52 per cent -- believe that people in the United States discriminate more against all of the OTHER minority groups than they do against Indian Americans. Seventy three per cent of respondents believe Asian Americans who are not of Indian origin face more discrimination than Indian Americans, and much larger shares believe that other minority groups face greater discrimination than Indian Americans, including Latino Americans (90 per cent), LGBTQ Americans (89 per cent), African Americans (86 per cent), and women (86 per cent). The survey takes an unprecedented deep dive into the religious and caste orientation of Indian-Americans, revealing an ethnic cohort where 54 per cent of respondents report belonging to the Hindu faith, 13 per cent Muslim and 11 per cent Christian, with 16 per cent having no religious affiliation. While nearly three-quarters of Indian Americans state that religion plays an important role in their lives, religious practice is less pronounced, with 40 percent of respondents saying they pray at least once a day and 27 percent attending religious services at least once a week. The survey reveals that Indian-Americans of Muslims faith report the greatest degree of religious discrimination by far (39 percent), followed by Hindus (18 percent), Christians (15 percent), and believers of other faiths (9 percent). While both US- and foreign-born Indian Americans report significant discrimination based on skin color—35 percent and 27 percent respectively, respondents born in the US report twice as much discrimination along gender and religious lines than those born outside of US. Amid stray cases of caste bias and discrimination even among Indian-Americans, the survey reveals that roughly half of all Hindu Indian Americans identify with a caste, remarkable for a group with high academic attainment. Foreign-born respondents are significantly more likely than US-born respondents to espouse a caste identity. The overwhelming majority of Hindus with a caste identity—more than eight in ten—self-identify as belonging to the category of General or upper caste. The survey also found "several indications that polarization in India had successfully metastasized in the Indian American community in the United States." Religious differences in particular have emerged as a salient divide both in India and among members of the diaspora, the study says, with supporters of the Congress and the BJP showing growing hostility toward the opposite side. Thirty percent of Congress supporters are not comfortable having close friends who support the BJP; double the share of BJP supporters who are uncomfortable having close friends who are Congress supporters.
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BJP received Rs 785 cr contributions in 2019-20

June 10, 2021 - 8:21pm
The ruling BJP received over Rs 785 crore in contributions from individuals, electoral trusts and corporates in 2019-20 which is over five times more than what the Congress received during the same period. According to the BJP's latest contribution report submitted to the Election Commission in February and put out in the public domain by the poll panel this week, the party received over Rs 785 crore in contributions. Major contributors for the BJP included electoral trusts, corporates and leaders of the party itself among others. Among the leaders who contributed to the party funds included Piyush Goyal, Pema Khandu, Kirron Kher and Raman Singh. ITC, Kalyan Jewellers, Rare Enterprises, Ambuja Cement, Lodha Developers and Motilal Oswal were some of the corporate houses which contributed to the BJP's kitty. New Democratic Electoral Trust, Prudent Electoral Trust, Jankalyan Electoral Trust and Triumph Electoral Trust also contributed to the BJP's funds. According to the contribution report of the Congress, it received Rs 139 crore as contributions. The Trinamool Congress received Rs 8 crore, while CPI got Rs 1.3 crore. The CPI (M) received Rs 19.7 crore as contributions.The contribution report only lists donations only above Rs 20,000. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the EC has extended the deadline for submission of the annual audit reports for 2019-20 to June 30.
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Will Jitin get 'prasada' from BJP, asks Sibal

June 10, 2021 - 8:21pm
A day after Jitin Prasada quit the Congress, senior party leader Kapil Sibal asked if he would get "prasada" from the BJP or is he merely a "catch" for the Uttar Pradesh elections. Another party colleague Shashi Tharoor also asked if politics can be a career devoid of principles. "Jitin Prasada joins BJP. The question is will he get 'prasada' from BJP or is he just a 'catch' for UP elections," Sibal asked on Twitter. "In such deals if 'ideology' doesn't matter changeover is easy," the former union minister also said. In a tweet, Tharoor asked, "Can politics be a career devoid of principle? Politics has to be about ideas, or it's nothing. Can a person of conviction change political parties the way a cricketer changes IPL teams." In an article on the larger issues in Prasada's defection to the BJP, Tharoor said his decision a year after his "older brother" Jyotiraditya Scindia did the same thing, is "deeply dismaying". "I say this without any personal bitterness," he said. "Both Scindia and Prasada were amongst the most eloquent voices against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the dangers its communal bigotry posed to the India they cherished. Today, they are both happily sporting the colours of the party they once reviled more than any other. "The obvious question this provokes is: what do they really stand for? What beliefs and values animate their politics? Or are they in politics only for self-advancement and power? Can politics be a career devoid of principle," Tharoor asked in the article. "When you enter politics, then, you don't choose a party the way a graduate chooses the company that makes him the best placement offer. You choose a vehicle for your convictions. "Your party reflects not merely the institutional framework for your personal ambitions, but the set of principles, beliefs and ideas that you are pledged to promote and defend in the course of your political career," he wrote. Prasada, a member of the group of 23 Congress leaders who wrote to Sonia Gandhi seeking an organisational overhaul and elections at all levels last year, quit the Congress Wednesday to join the BJP ahead of next year's assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Both Sibal and Tharoor are also a part of the group of 23 who wrote to the Congress chief.
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Chinese mfgs jacking up solar module prices

June 10, 2021 - 8:21pm
A Chinese solar manufacturing company has accused other Chinese manufacturers — some of whom export to India — of colluding together to restrict supply and artificially increasing prices of solar components Indian renewable energy developers, who import more than 80% of their raw materials from China, claim that they are also subjected to the same collusion and thus are forced to pay much more than the market price."Indian solar power developers have been pointing to price escalation after signing of firm contract and cartelisation by Chinese module manufacturers for quite some time now," said a spokesperson for Solar Power Developers Association (SPDA), an industry body representing some of India's top renewable power producers.Currently, prices for solar modules have risen to USD 22 cents, up from USD 18 cents in September 2020. Prices for future orders stand at USD 26 cents, which would mark a whopping 44% jump in costs over 9 months.Since the beginning of 2021, the price of polysilicon — the main raw material used to make solar modules — has risen by 149%.However, Chinese companies have denied any such claims, saying that the global rise in commodity prices has resulted in the increase of prices."These reports are completely unfounded. There has been a rise in global commodity prices for materials such as steel, copper, polysilicon, and even shipping. All of these have contributed to the price rise," said a spokesperson from Longi Solar, one of India's topmost suppliers for solar imports.Other top players such as Jinko and Trina Solar remained unresponsive at the time of the article being published.SPDA has called for the matter to be urgently looked into by Chinese authorities, as it continues to bear the brunt of high import prices and deadlines loom closer."The ‘sanctity of contracts” is seriously lacking and credibility of Chinese enterprises is becoming extremely low internationally. Govt. of China must investigate the matter fairly and stern action must be taken against guilty manufacturers," SPDA's spokesperson further added.ET in its April 26 front-page report had outlined how the aforementioned companies had reneged on supply deals to Indian developers in a similar manner. Chinese companies had then responded similarly, pointing towards commodity prices and working with developers to reach a "win-win" situation for both parties involved.The reportThe production of a solar panel starts with multicrystalline silicon, better known as polysilicon, which then gets converted into ingots and wafers. These are then made into solar cells, and the cells are assembled into modules.At present, India does not produce any ingots or wafers. Indian manufacturers import them to be made into cells, or import cells directly to be made into modules. Hence, most Indian developers choose to buy modules directly from Chinese suppliers.Shanghai-based Aiko Solar is similar to Indian manufacturers, and only procures wafers to make into cells. They said that in addition to the 149% hike in polysilicon, wafer prices have also increased by 56% since the start of the year.83402336The report alleges that global demand stands at 180 GW, while China's supply at present can go up to 190 GW. "The coordinated behaviour of some companies to drive up prices and substantially increase prices not only affects the achievement of the mid-year photovoltaic installation target and the solemn promise of carbon peak and carbon neutrality made by General Xi to the world," the report was quoted as saying. ET has seen a copy of the report, which was originally published in Mandarin.Aiko, which has a capacity of 15 GW, said that their business activities took a hit as they had to renegotiate with the wafer suppliers prior to the delivery of the goods."The “spirit of contract” among enterprises is seriously lacking, and international counterparts are dissatisfied with the credit of Chinese enterprises in performing contracts," Aiko said in its report.
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China passes law to counter foreign sanctions

June 10, 2021 - 8:21pm
China's Parliament on Thursday passed the Anti-foreign Sanctions Law, providing a comprehensive legal cover for blocking foreign sanctions against Chinese officials and entities and protecting them against the long-arm jurisdiction, especially from the US. The law was passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's national legislature. The law was passed in the backdrop of the US and EU countries slapping sanctions against a number of Chinese entities and officials over allegations of human rights violations against Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the imposition of China's national security law in Hong Kong. The sanctions were introduced as a coordinated effort by the European Union, UK, US and Canada. China responded with its own sanctions on European officials. For some time, out of political manipulation needs and ideological bias, some Western countries have used Xinjiang and Hong Kong-related issues as part of their pretexts to spread rumours on and smear, contain and suppress China, the office of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC said. Defending the law, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here on Thursday that to safeguard China's national sovereignty, dignity, and core interests and oppose western hegemonism and power politics, the Chinese government has announced counter measures against relevant individuals and entities of certain countries. "Meanwhile, we believe it is necessary for the country to have specific laws to counter foreign sanctions so that we have legal basis and guarantee for such countermeasures," he said, ruling out that the law will affect China's relations with other countries. China's legal experts say the Anti-foreign Sanctions Law, the first of its kind in China, will provide strong legal support and guarantees for the country against unilateral and discriminatory measures imposed by foreign countries. The US government has been imposing sanctions on a growing number of Chinese entities such as high-tech firms Huawei and ZTE over the so-called national security risks, and sanctioned a number of senior Chinese officials under the United States Xinjiang and Hong Kong bills last year. China has speeded up plans for an anti-sanctions law after US President Joe Biden dashed Beijing's hopes that he would adopt a softer policy stance towards Beijing in contrast to his predecessor Donald Trump's hardline push against the Communist giant, the Hong Kong based South Morning Post reported. The new law will provide a legal framework for retaliation and allow Chinese firms to seek compensation over foreign sanctions. "The idea was proposed last year and work on the anti-sanctions law started, but progress was not very quick because China was hopeful about Biden", the Post quoted a government official as saying. Those sanctioned included Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the region's party chief Chen Quanguo, as well as other senior mainland and Hong Kong officials and the 14 vice-chairmen of the NPC. Beijing has not yet provided details of the law, but the move will be seen as a signal that it will not shy away from further confrontation with Washington. Under the new law, "China can make reciprocal sanctions or take harsher countermeasures, for example, restricting entry, freezing bank assets, or imposing sanctions on relevant individuals or entities", Tian Feilong, a legal expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the state-run Global Times. China's Foreign Ministry also announced 11 rounds of countermeasures in retaliation over Western countries' sanctions by sanctioning a number of NGOs, anti-China politicians, arms producers and entities as well as lawmakers who helped spread lies about those matters. "Previous sanctions are fragmented and without sufficient legal basis, and may incur negative feedback due to lack of sufficient legal basis. Now, we have a complete legal basis, offering us the same position as the West in taking countermeasures," Tian said.
Categories: Business News

GST Council to discuss vax tax exemption

June 10, 2021 - 8:21pm
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council will meet on June 12 to decide on extension of compensation cess beyond 2022 and tax exemption or reduction in rate on various Covid-related items including vaccines.The last Council, which met on May 28, decided to set up a group of ministers (GoM) to look into demands for tax relief on Covid-19 essentials, including PPE kits, masks and vaccines.“It (GST Council) will take up compensation to states as also discuss the group of minister’s report on Covid-19 medication and essentials,” a government official privy to the development said.GST compensation of Rs 1.58 lakh crore was planned to be financed through back-to-back loans to be raised by the Centre while Rs 1 lakh crore was expected to be met through the GST compensation cess over FY22. States also want cess to be extended further.Ratings agency ICRA estimated that GST compensation of another Rs 61,000 crore remained pending for the 10-month period of April 2020-January 2021, for which funding options were uncertain.The GoM, headed by Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma, had submitted its report on June 7.ET reported that the eight-member group had recommended that the GST on vaccines be determined by the GST Council and had referred the matter back to the Council.For Covid relief material such as medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters and Covid testing kits, the GoM suggested a 5% rate.While the central government decided to procure vaccines for the states, opposition-ruled states are expected to maintain their demand of zero rating GST of Covid-19 vaccines.The government on Monday announced that it would procure 75% of the manufacturers’ capacity and provide them free of cost to all states for vaccinating people aged 18 and above from June 21, while private sector hospitals can procure the remaining 25%.
Categories: Business News

G7 global tax plan may hit corporate titans

June 10, 2021 - 8:21pm
An agreement by wealthy nations aimed at squeezing more tax out of large multinational companies could hit some firms hard while leaving others - including some of the most frequent targets of lawmakers' ire - relatively unscathed, according to a Reuters analysis. Finance ministers from the Group of Seven leading nations on Saturday agreed on proposals aimed at ensuring that companies pay tax in each country in which they operate rather than shifting profits to low-tax havens elsewhere. One proposed measure would allow countries where customers are based to tax a greater share of a multinational company's profits above a certain threshold. The ministers also agreed to a second proposal, which would levy a minimum tax rate of 15% of profits in each overseas country where companies operate, regardless of profit margin. The Reuters review of corporate filings by Google-owner Alphabet Inc suggests the company could see its taxes increase by less than $600 million, or about 7% more than its $7.8 billion global tax bill in 2020, if both proposed measures were applied. Google is among the companies that some lawmakers have criticized as paying too little tax. Meanwhile, medical group Johnson & Johnson, which is also U.S.-based, could see its tax bill jump by $1 billion, a more than 50% rise over its $1.78 billion global tax expense last year, according to Reuters' calculations. Both Google and J&J declined to comment on the calculations. In a statement Saturday following the G7's agreement, Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said: "We strongly support the work being done to update international tax rules. We hope countries continue to work together to ensure a balanced and durable agreement will be finalized soon." Determining the exact impact the new rules will have on companies is difficult, in part because companies don't typically disclose their revenues and tax payments by country. And key details about how the rules would be implemented are still pending, tax specialists say, including to which countries profits would be reallocated and to what degree taxes generated by the new measures would offset taxes owed under the current system. The proposed rules themselves also face hurdles. In the United States, several top Republican politicians have voiced opposition to the deal. Details of the agreement are also due to be discussed by the wider Group of 20 countries next month. Four tax specialists concurred with Reuters' methodology but noted that there is still uncertainty about how the measures would be applied, including which tax breaks are included in the 15% minimum overseas tax. The G7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. "The deal makes sure that the system is fair, so that the right companies pay the right tax in the right places," said a spokesperson for the UK Treasury, which hosted the G7 meeting. "The final design details and parameters of the rules still need to be worked through." SHARING PROFITS The first proposed measure focuses on large global firms that report at least a 10% profit margin globally. Countries in which the companies operate would have the right to tax 20% of global profits above that threshold in an effort to stop companies reporting profits in tax havens where they do little business. Applying that formula to Google could result in as much as $540 million in additional taxes, according to the Reuters analysis. Based on Google's 2020 global profits of $48 billion, Reuters calculated what portion of that income could be reallocated based on the G7's proposed formula. Reuters then calculated how much more the company would pay if tax was levied on that portion of income at the rate of 23% - which is the average tax rate for developed nations as identified by Paris-based research body the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - rather than the average overseas tax rate of 14% that Google said it paid last year. Applying the same methodology to J&J, and its 2020 global profits of $16.5 billion, the healthcare company would see its global tax bill rise by about $270 million as a result of the first measure. The exact impact on each company's tax bill would depend on how much income is actually reallocated. Also at issue is which country the profit is moved from and to - and therefore what the increase in tax rate is. If all the reallocated profit comes out of zero-tax jurisdictions, the impact could be greater. MINIMUM TAX OVERSEAS U.S. and UK officials say the other measure, involving a 15% global minimum tax, will have a bigger total impact on how much in taxes governments collect. But its effect on companies will vary widely. In recent years, Google-parent Alphabet, like some other targets of tax campaigners, has reorganized its international tax structures and last year reported over three-quarters of its global income in the United States compared to less than half in each of the previous three years, according to its corporate filings. Google reported $10.5 billion of dollars of earnings from outside the United States last year and an average overseas tax rate of 14%, which is one percentage point below the G7's proposed minimum tax. If Google's overseas earnings were all taxed at 15%, the additional tax due would be $100 million. The impact could be higher if a large proportion of the money is earned in zero-tax jurisdictions like Bermuda, where Google used to report over $10 billion a year in income. Conversely, the impact of the minimum tax would be reduced if the first measure prompted Google to reallocate some of its non-U.S. earnings out of tax havens. Excluding the impact of the first proposed measure, increasing the tax rate on overseas income to 15% would mean $45 million of additional tax. The situation for J&J would be very different. It earned 76% of its 2020 income outside of the United States and paid 7% tax on average on that overseas profit. Applying a 15% tax rate to that overseas income figure would result in $990 million in additional taxes, according to Reuters' calculations. While the reallocation of profit under the first measure would reduce this impact, the combined result of the two measures would be more than $1 billion. Academics say businesses are adept at mitigating the impact of measures that are designed to reduce tax avoidance and therefore could re-organize in order to limit the impact of the proposed measures. And, in reality, tax incentives offered by governments mean companies may end up paying less in practice.
Categories: Business News

Organisations align hiring to scale up for operational roles amid pandemic: Survey

June 10, 2021 - 8:21pm
Notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations aligned their hiring to scale up for the operational roles, and sectors like healthcare, e-commerce and financial services led the recruitment activity in January-March 2021, a survey said on Thursday. According to Indeed's India Hiring Tracker Q4 FY21, as many as two-thirds (64 per cent) of all employers surveyed hired talent during the fourth quarter of 2020-21. Also, 61 per cent of all jobseekers surveyed looked for a job (or change of job) during this period. Although overall hiring activity for the quarter remained robust, the monthly hiring trend did observe a progressive decline (38 per cent in January as against 31 per cent in February compared with 26 per cent in March) with the effects of the second wave of the pandemic. This survey was conducted by Valuevox on behalf of Indeed among 500 employees and 350 businesses across nine cities in March 2021. Indeed India Head (Sales) Sashi Kumar said, "We saw that consumption continues to be a key driver of economic growth in India in the sectors responsible for driving hiring. Tech skills are absolutely critical in driving India's inclusive recovery, and will continue to be a job market priority." Kumar further noted that the concept of remote work has led to re-ordering of employee priorities where workforce wellbeing is a necessity, not a prerogative. "Above all, this report signifies that India's job market is resilient and agile, and that talent demand and supply will bounce back as the country fights back and the economy opens up," he said. Moreover, large proportions of job seekers surveyed said they were still looking for their desired job - 53 per cent male and 60 per cent female, 50 per cent entry level, 44 per cent mid level and 40 per cent senior level. As essential business activities were prioritised during the pandemic, organisations aligned their hiring to scale up for the operational roles. The top roles that employers hired for were operational and support roles like team lead, business analyst, content head and service engineer, which contributed to 25 per cent. Technical roles like mobile app developer, CAD/CAM engineer contributed to 18 per cent of the total hiring; and blue collar roles like delivery personnel, electrician, ITI trainee contributed to 15 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020-21. Healthcare (82 per cent), e-commerce (69 per cent), and financial services (68 per cent) sectors led the activity. The survey further noted that 90 per cent of the large organisations stepped up their hiring due to elevated consumer demand during this period. Similarly, 70 per cent medium-sized and 78 per cent small businesses hired due to early positive market sentiment. "That said, almost 63 per cent of medium-sized and all small-sized organisations surveyed exhibited a lack of confidence in hiring during the next quarter. "It indicates that hiring for Q1 FY22 will primarily hinge on 60 per cent of large organisations who expressed medium to high levels of confidence," the survey said. DRR HRS hrs
Categories: Business News

Skoda Auto launches new version of Octavia, price starts at Rs 25.99 lakh

June 10, 2021 - 8:21pm
Skoda Auto India on Thursday launched the new version of its premium sedan Octavia with price starting at Rs 25.99 lakh. The fourth-generation Octavia is powered by a 2-litre petrol engine delivering power of 190 PS and returning fuel efficiency of 15.81 km/litre, Skoda Auto India said in a statement. It is available in two variants -- Style priced at Rs 25.99 lakh and Laurin & Klement tagged at Rs 28.99 lakh (ex-showroom India). Skoda Auto India Brand Director Zac Hollis said when Octavia was introduced 20 years ago, it changed the dynamics of the executive sedan segment - "one that continues to offer significant growth potential, catering to a burgeoning class of discerning buyers with a penchant for luxury, as well as the right value proposition". "Having retained its characteristics of design, safety, technology, performance, space and comfort, the all-new Octavia is a compelling combination and will continue to drive Skoda Auto's success in the Indian market," he added. The sedan has a wide range of safety features such as eight airbags, fatigue alert and AFS (Adaptive Front-lighting System) along with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution) and tyre pressure monitoring system, among others. It is also equipped with 'MySKODA Connect', which has inbuilt technology that helps owners in case of an emergency with features such as roadside assistance and SOS. It also helps keep the car secure in the owner's absence with features like Geo fence and Time fence, the company said.
Categories: Business News

India's agri exports jump to $ 41 billion

June 10, 2021 - 5:20pm
India's agriculture exports (including marine and plantation products) have beaten the pandemic registering a growth of 17.34 per cent to $ 41.25 billion in 2020-21, a top commerce ministry official said on Thursday.Speaking to the media, commerce secretary Anup Wadhawan said that excellent growth of Agri exports in FY21 has come after it remained stagnant for the past three years (USD 38.43 billion in 2017-18, USD 38.74 billion in 2018-19 and USD 35.16 billion 2019-20).In rupee terms, the increase is 22.62 per cent with exports during 2020-21 amounting to Rs 3.05 lakh crore as compared to Rs 2.49 lakh crore during 2019-20.India's agricultural and allied imports during 2019-20 were USD 20.64 billion, and the corresponding figures for 2020-21 are USD 20.67 billion. Despite COVID-19, the balance of trade in agriculture has improved by 42.16% from USD 14.51 billion to USD 20.58 billion.For agriculture products (excluding marine and plantation products), the growth is 28.36% with exports of USD 29.81 billion in 2020-21 as compared to USD 23.23 billion in 2019-20. India has been able to take advantage of the increased demand for staples during the COVID-19 period.Huge growth has been seen in export of cereals with export of non-basmati rice growing by 136.04% to USD 4794.54 million; wheat by 774.17% to USD 549.16 million; and other cereals (millets, maize and other coarse gains) by 238.28% to USD 694.14 million.Other agricultural products, which registered a significant increase in exports as compared to 2019-20, were oil meals (USD 1575.34 million -growth of 90.28%), sugar (USD 2789.97 million - growth 41.88%), raw cotton (USD 1897.20 million - growth 79.43%), fresh vegetables (USD 721.47 million - growth 10.71%) and vegetable oils (USD 602.77 million- growth 254.39%) etc.The largest markets for India's agriculture products are the USA, China, Bangladesh, UAE, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran and Malaysia. Exports to most of these destinations have registered growth, with the highest growth being recorded for Indonesia (102.42%), Bangladesh (95.93%) and Nepal (50.49%).Export of spices like ginger, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, saffron etc., which have known therapeutic qualities, has also grown substantially. During 2020-21, export of pepper increased by 28.72% to USD 1269.38 million; cinnamon by 64.47% to USD 11.25 million; nutmeg, mace and cardamom by 132.03% (USD 189.34 million vs USD 81.60 million); and ginger, saffron, turmeric, thyme, bay leaves etc. by 35.44% to USD 570.63 million. Export of spices touched the highest ever level of around USD 4 billion during 2020-21.The organic exports during 2020-21 were USD 1040 million as against USD 689 million in 2019-20, registering a growth of 50.94%. Organic exports include oil cake/meals, oil seeds, cereals and millets, spices and condiments, tea, medicinal plant products, dry fruits, sugar, pulses, coffee etc.Exports have also taken place from several clusters for the first time. For instance, export of fresh vegetables and mangoes from Varanasi and black rice from Chandauli has taken place for the first time, directly benefitting farmers of the area. Exports have also taken place from other clusters viz. oranges from Nagpur, bananas from Theni and Ananthpur, mangoes from Lucknow etc. Despite the pandemic, export of fresh horticulture produce took place by multimodal mode and consignments were shipped by air and sea to Dubai, London and other destinations from these areas. Handholding by the Department for market linkages, post-harvest value chain development and the institutional structure such as FPOs, enabled North East farmers to send their value-added products beyond the Indian borders.Cereal exports have done well during 2020-21. The country has been able to export to several countries for the first time. For example rice has been exported to countries like Timor-Leste, Puerto Rico, Brazil, for the first time. Similarly wheat has been exported to countries like Yemen, Indonesia, Bhutan and other cereals have been exported to Sudan, Poland Bolivia.
Categories: Business News

Are Adani Group stocks good only for traders?

June 10, 2021 - 5:20pm
Adani Group stocks for great opportunities for traders and technical analysts but the valuations are not justified, says Dipan Mehta, Director, Elixir Equities. Edited excerpts:Adani Group stocks have been the biggest wealth creators in the pandemic era. What has changed for the Adani Group of companies that they are being chased by buyers and no one wants to sell them?Adani Group stocks are an enigma at this point of time. It is really very perplexing to see the stock prices going up this way. There is a momentum and aggressive buying. I am sure that growth and profits for the group companies will come through but none of it has justified these kind of valuations. My assessment is that the free-float in Adani Group companies is low and that certainly benefits momentum buying.Anybody entering these stocks at these levels is doing so at their own risk. There is not much of a fundamental basis to enter at these levels. There is hardly any margin of safety. Typically, these businesses are very capital intensive and give low returns on investments, not only in India but globally as well. They have a poor track record in terms of wealth creation and yet we are seeing such super valuations. Maybe, I am missing something but I would not want to play the Adani Group stocks and not advice anybody else to do as well.These are real market caps. Now we can argue that whether these market caps will sustain at these levels or not but for someone who has a timeframe of 3-6 months, there is absolute madness in these stocks.These are great stocks for traders and technical analysts. They trend beautifully. They provide great entry-exit opportunities. There are huge volumes in them. So these are great trading stocks. People who have that kind of trading strategy are the ones playing them at this point of time.But when I look at the fundamentals, price-to-earnings multiple, price-to-book multiple, profitability, assets, the quality of balance sheet and the quality of investors who have invested in other than the promoter group, one does tend to step back. This is a huge market and there are a lot of options for investors. It does not mean that you have to buy just Adani Group stocks to get alpha in the stock market. There are many stocks, many ideas, many investment themes playing out very well at this point of time. Adani Group is something which we do not understand. I do not understand the valuations and so I am avoiding it. Which stocks have caught your attention in the broader market?I think that after many years we are seeing that there is hardly any pocket of underperformance. Even lagging sectors like sugar, fertilisers, steel, metals and mining stocks have given good returns. The prospects for the next couple of years look fantastic because of an overall surge in commodity prices. Sectoral rotation is taking place from time to time. It is just that we need to be a bit careful about valuations and do not over pay for a business which is pretty ordinary.
Categories: Business News

Pak spies ring illegal Indian telephone exchanges

June 10, 2021 - 5:20pm
A call from a Pakistani spy agency to an Army installation in eastern India has led to the unravelling of an illegal telephone exchange in Bengaluru, raising questions whether similar systems were operational in other parts of the country, officials said on Thursday.The entire racket was busted by the Military Intelligence wing of the Army's Southern Command which had intercepted the call received at the Army installation in eastern India a few weeks back.During the call, a spy from Pakistan was asking about general details while posing as a senior officer.On further investigation, the intelligence sleuths found that some other offices located in various formations such as the Movement Control Office (MCO) as well as the Principal Comptroller of Defence Account (PCDA) were also receiving such calls seeking details from them.A deeper probe led to uncovering of the scam in which Pakistan-based intelligence operatives exploited such illegal exchanges to route their calls to connect with Indian citizens and obtain information of military installations.The officials said Pakistani intelligence operatives have adopted the modus operandi of investing in illegal call exchanges that switch Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls to normal Indian mobile calls.To execute this illegal operation, SIM boxes are used which run a parallel illegal telephone exchange.The officials explained that a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) box, also known as a SIM bank, is a hardware-based device used in the telecom sector for termination of direct Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) communication.An operator uses a technology called 'migration' of the SIM cards, wherein the registration of the SIM cards jumps on different GSM modules with a specific frequency, leading to multiple GSM gateways located throughout a city or a town, and the system creates an illusion of a real user's movement by showing the call being conducted from different gateways.This helps in prevention of a SIM card from being blocked by service providers or detected by government agencies.Operation of these illegal exchanges not only incurs losses to the cellular networks but also to the government as it is an un-registered operation, and the money generated is un-accounted and non-taxable which can further be utilised to support anti-national activities without leaving any money trail.The officials said the "adversary nation" has been found using these illegal SIM boxes often to obtain sensitive information and maintain contact with their agents who have penetrated into the country.The racket came to light after the anti-terror cell of the Bengaluru Police, with the help of Military Intelligence of the Southern Command, arrested two men who ran an illegal phone exchange, converting international calls to local ones, causing a huge revenue loss and posing a threat to national security.Thirty-two SIM box devices, which can use 960 SIM cards at a time, were seized from them, they said.Ibrahim Mullatti Bin Mohammed Kutty, hailing from Malappuram in Kerala, and Gautham B Vishwanathan from Tirupur in Tamil Nadu had placed the 32 devices at six areas of the city to carry out their illegal activities.After termination of a VoIP call, the same call is further generated to the destination phone with the number appearing as that of an Indian number.The Indian Army has issued many advisories and drafted SOPs to prevent leaks through such means. However, a lot of civilian staff still fall prey to the con.
Categories: Business News

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