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The much needed initiatives form the Indian Government to boost the economy during this time of global economic slowdown, the Finance Minister has held a press conference on Friday, the announcement was made about certain measures government will take to support the  economy. Some of the key measures that have been announced are as follows:

(i) Relief to the FPI (Foreign Portfolio Investment) from the enhanced surcharge

(ii) Decriminalization of CSR violations

(iii) Immunity to eligible start-ups and investors from angel tax.

(iv) Steps to be taken for Auto Industry.

The Finance Minister has also announced that two more sets of new announcements shall come up in upcoming days. The key announcement made by the Finance Minister are as under:

(i) Relief to the FPI (Foreign Portfolio Investment) from the enhanced surcharge

The enhanced surcharge on domestic investors and FPIs have been rolled back. The pre-budget position has been restored. The decision to revoke surcharge on domestic and foreign investors will be applicable from the current financial year.

After a clamor by the FPI on the increased surcharge, the Finance Minister has announced the withdrawal of provision to levy surcharge on the tax payable by the FPI and Domestic investors on short-term capital gains and long-term capital gains from the sale of equity shares, equity oriented funds and units of business trust. However, it appears that the foreign and domestic investors shall continue to be liable to pay the increased surcharge in respect of other income, i.e., interest, dividends, etc. In other words,  

(ii) No angel tax on recognized start-up

Finance Minister has announced that the provisions of Section 56(2)(viib) shall not be applicable to the recognized start-ups and investors. In Spite of various directions issued by the CBDT, start-ups were facing difficulties from getting relief from the revenue officers and they have been continuously pleading to the department to provide relief from angel tax in respect of all pending proceedings as well. It is not clear whether exemption from angel tax has been provided prospectively or retrospectively, which shall be clear when the Govt. issues the ordinance.

(iii) New dedicated division to address the problem of start-up

It has been decided to set-up a dedicated cell under the member of CBDT for addressing the problems of Start-ups. A start-up having issues related to Income-tax can approach the cell for quick resolution of the problem. 

(iv) Dispose of notices

With effect from 01-10-2019, all the Income-tax notices issued to the taxpayer shall be disposed of within three months from the date of reply by the taxpayer. All the old notices shall be decided by 01-10-2019. 

(v) Additional depreciation on vehicles purchased till March 2020.

It has been decided to allow additional depreciation of 15%, taking it to 30%, on all vehicles purchased till 31-03-2020. 

(vi) GST refunds shall be processed within 60 days

To address the concern raised by the exporters and MSMEs in respect of delayed payment of refund, the Finance Minister has announced that all pending GST refunds due to MSMEs shall be paid within a span of 30 days. Further, going forward all GST refunds payable to MSMEs shall be paid within 60 days of intimation. 

(vii) FM assures to remove the compliance difficulties

The Finance Minister has given assurance that Government shall take further measures to make GST compliance easier. The Finance Minister has announced to meet GSTN officials in order to remove glitches in GST filing process and make it taxpayers friendly. 

(viii) Aadhaar based KYC for NBFCs

The NBFCs shall be permitted to use Aadhaar authenticated bank KYC to avoid repeated procedure. The norms for KYC has proposed to be changed by enabling the use of Aadhaar number for KYC, with the consent of the Aadhaar Number holder. This will also enable banks for easier onboarding of customers by opening instant bank accounts using e-KYC based on Aadhaar authentication through the OTP mode. Simplified Aadhaar based KYC also been proposed for opening Demat account. 

(ix) CSR violations to be treated as civil matter

The provisions of the CSR as provided under section 135 (7) of the Companies Act, 2013 provides for penal provisions whereby a fine ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 25,00,000 can be imposed on company on failure to comply with CSR requirement. Further, every officer of the company who is in default shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years or a fine ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 5,00,000. The new CSR provisions are already in force w.e.f., 2-11-2018.

The Finance Minister in its press conference has clearly said that there is no intention of the Govt. to go on prosecution route for CSR violations and thus, the CSR violations shall be treated as a civil matter. This assurance from the FM would give much relief to the business in complying with the CSR requirement without fear of criminal prosecution and harassment. 

(x) Co- origination of loans by PSBs jointly with NBFCs:

The FM has said that in order to take advantage of liquidity with PSBs and last mile customer connect of NBFCs, PSBs to fast track collaboration for loans to MSMEs, small traders, Self-help groups and MFI clients borrowers in coordination with MSMEs.