below the line

| Updated on September 12, 2021

As good as it gets

The Centre’s decision to clear all tax refund dues of exporters under various schemes amounting to a whopping ₹56,027 crore was indeed a relief for the community that had been pursuing some of its claims for almost two years. However, many were puzzled by the sudden change in heart of the Finance Ministry.

Till just a few days back, officials in the Commerce Ministry were clueless about when the dues would be cleared. Even the optimists were of the view that while some pending amount might be disbursed this fiscal, most of it may not be given before next year.

Even the much touted Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme, that replaced the popular Merchandise Export from India Scheme, ended up disappointing many sectors as the tax reimbursement rates were low, mostly due to Finance Ministry’s unwillingness to part with funds. When Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal was asked at a press conference how the Finance Ministry suddenly got over its resource crunch and decide to come on board and approve such a big amount, he gave a neutral response, generally implying that the exporters deserved it.

For the sake of the exporting community, that took a severe battering last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, one can hope that this goodwill lasts for a while.

Catch-22 situation?

This week is going to be momentous with the deadline to submit financial bids for Air India set for September 15. Media speculation that SpiceJet owner (Chairman and Managing Director) Ajay Singh is eyeing control of the national carrier and is likely to put in a bid is expected to be tested this week.

What has complicated the situation is SpiceJet’s recent submission to the Delhi High Court that Singh was unable to infuse fresh funds into the low-cost airline.

Several eyebrows are bound to be raised if Singh indeed were to throw his hat in the Air India ring despite delicate financial condition at his own airline and proposed hiving off of SpiceXpress, the cargo vertical of SpiceJet, to part fund his bid for Air India, say economy watchers.

Powerful contradiction

Is Tamil Nadu a power surplus State? To the surprise of many, TN finance minister in his Budget speech said that the State was not power surplus as claimed by the earlier AIADMK government and it was buying electricity from the open market to meet its peak demand.

Bureaucrats selling the State as an ideal investment destination cringed in their seats. Last week, the Information Technology department, when discussing about TN's attractiveness for data centres, claimed that the State was power surplus.

Whom should the investors believe?

Going public?

A couple of days ago Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma hosted a Twitter spaces on the “innovation throttling” practices of Big Tech — specifically on Google Play Store not allowing other payment systems on Android apps. Several entrepreneurs and developers joined the audio chat and there was much banter with some inevitable IPO talk.

Sharma quipped: “Just like bachelors in India are always asked when are you getting married, entrepreneurs here are always asked when are you going public!”

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Published on September 12, 2021

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