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Kotak Mahindra Bank buys BSS Microfinance

Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB) has decided to acquire 99.49% of BSS Microfinance (BSS) for an aggregate all-cash consideration of Rs 139.2 crore. 

●    As of June 30, 2016, BSS has a networth of approximately Rs 73 crore and microfinance loans of Rs 483 crore in its books. 
●    It will be a subsidiary of Kotak after receiving regulatory and other approvals. BSS has a commercially established model in the microfinance segment. 
●    This acquisition gives Kotak access to BSS’s growing customer base, which currently stands at over 2,17,000 and network of 78 branches (as of June 30, 2016), the Mumbai-based bank said.
●    This acquisition offers Kotak a deeper reach in the low income segment.
●    Kotak Mahindra Bank is an Indian private sector banking headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. In February 2003, Reserve Bank of India gave the licence to Kotak Mahindra Finance Ltd., the group's flagship company, to carry on banking business.
●    It offers a wide range of banking products and financial services for corporate and retail customers through a variety of delivery channels and specialized subsidiaries in the areas of personal finance, investment banking, life insurance, and wealth management.

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Series of Economic Decisions - Stake Sale of Bharat Pumps, CBEC'S GST Integration, Saksham

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 28 September 2016 approved ‘Project SAKSHAM’. It is a New Indirect Tax Network (Systems Integration) of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
●    It will help in integrating system of Central Board of Excise and Customs with the GST network before the roll out in April 2017. 
●    The total project cost involved is 2256 crore rupees which will be incurred over a period of seven years.
●    The project SAKSHAM will help in
●    Implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST)
●    Extension of the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT)
●    Other taxpayer-friendly initiatives under Digital India and Ease of Doing Business of Central Board of Excise and Customs
●    The implementation strategy for the project will be to ensure readiness of CBEC's IT systems by 1 April 2017, when GST is to be introduced. 
●    The upgrade of the IT systems will be carried out while keeping the existing Tax-payer services running.

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OPEC Agrees Modest Output Curbs in First Deal since '08

After two and a half years, OPEC reached consensus to manage the market
●    He and other ministers said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would reduce output to a range of 32.5-33.0 million barrels per day. 
●    OPEC estimates its current output at 33.24 million bpd.
●    "We have decided to decrease the production around 700,000 bpd," Zanganeh said. 
●    The move would effectively re-establish OPEC production ceilings abandoned a year ago.
●    However, how much each country will produce is to be decided at the next formal OPEC meeting in November, when an invitation to join cuts could also be extended to non-OPEC countries such as Russia. 
●    Oil prices LCOc1 jumped more than 5% to trade above $48 per barrel as of 2015 GMT. 
●    Many traders said they were impressed OPEC had managed to reach a compromise after years of wrangling but others said they wanted to see the details.

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SEBI allows Options Contracts in Commodity Training

Exactly a year after strengthening regulation of the 13-year-old commodity derivatives market, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has taken the first steps towards its growth by allowing exchanges like MCX and NCDEX to launch options in commodities. 

●    Also, it has expanded the list of notified commodities that exchanges can launch by adding to it eggs, diamonds, skimmed milk powder, tea, cocoa, pig iron, biofuels and brass. 
●    Sebi will spell out the details of the type of options and the products on which they can be launched in due course. 
●    An advisory committee constituted by Sebi after erstwhile commodity regulator FMC was merged with it on September 29 last year had recommended launch of gold and refined soya oil options initially. 
●    Other important regulations are allowing equity exchanges like NSE and BSE to launch commodity futures segment and commexes like MCX and NCDEX to launch equities and currency segments. 

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India 39th in Global Competitiveness : WEF

World Economic Forum (WEF) on 27 September 2015 released the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2016-2017. India 39th in Global Competitiveness.
The report assesses the competitiveness landscape of 138 economies.
•    Switzerland, Singapore and the US remain as the world's most competitive economies.
•    China ranks 28 in the index.
•    Among the other BRICS nations, Russia is ranked 43rd, South Africa is at 47 and Brazil at 81.
•    There were no newcomers to its 2016-2017 top 10, though the order of some of the leading countries shifted in its Global Competitiveness Report.
•    Top 10 countries in ranking are Switzerland, Singapore, United States, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong (SAR), and Finland.

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Rs. 20 Lakh - GST Council'ss Exemption Threshold for Tax

The first meeting of Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council has decided to exempt businesses with annual turnover below Rs.20 lakh out of the GST net. 
•    The meeting was presided by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi and was attended by Finance ministers of states. 
•    Threshold for exemption for businesses in Northeastern and hill states will be for annual turnover below Rs.10 lakh and rest of India it will below Rs.20 lakh. 
•    Consensus was reached on the contentious issue of administrative control over indirect tax assesses.
•    The existing 11 lakh service tax assesses will continue to be under the jurisdiction of the Centre. 
•    The compensation that Central Government will pay to states for losses of revenue because of the transition to GST regime will be routinely, quarterly or bi-monthly.
•    The GST Council also agreed to settle 2015-16 as the base year for calculating the compensation.

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Sun Pharma ICGEB Deal to Develop India's first Dengue Vaccine

India’s largest pharmaceutical company Sun Pharma has signed deal with International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) for clinical development Cissampelos pariera (Cipa).
•    It is India’s first vaccine (drug) for the treatment of dengue. 
•    The partnership between Sun Pharma and ICGEB aims to develop` safe, effective and affordable botanical drug Cipa. 
•    Under the deal, Sun Pharma will get access to all the intellectual properties (IP) rights of the drug across 17 countries. 
•    ICGEB will establish assay systems for the development of Cipa for the treatment of dengue infection. 
•    India is dengue-endemic resource-poor country representing 50% of the global population estimated to be at risk of dengue virus. 
•    This will be for the first time a vaccine developed entirely in India for a vector-borne disease that has been advanced for clinical development in the country. 


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SEBI eases norms for Real Estate, Infrastructure Investment Trusts

Markets regulator Sebi on Friday decided to further relax in norms for REITs and InvITs in a bid to make these instruments more attractive for raising capital.
•    Sebi had notified the REIT and InvIT Regulations in 2014, allowing setting up and listing of such Trusts, which are very popular in some advanced markets.
•    No single Trust has been set up as yet as investors wanted further measures, including tax breaks, to make these instruments more attractive.
•    Sebi has granted approval to three companies - IRB Infrastructure, GMR and MEP Infrastructure - to launch InvITs.
•    While the government provided for certain tax benefits in the Budget this year, Sebi board has now decided to amend REITs and InvIT regulations.
•    It allowed REITs and InvIT to invest in two-level (special purpose vehicle) structure through holding company.

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Raising Extra Budgetary Resources Approved by Cabinet

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for raising a total of Rs. 31,300 crore in the financial year 2016-17 and to service the principal and interest against the Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) of Rs. 16,300 crore by Government of India to augment infrastructure spending.
•    Out of the EBR of Rs.31,300 crore, it is proposed to finance the funds to be raised by Power Finance Corporation (PFC), Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) by Government of India. 
•    This implies that the principal and the interest in respect of the EBR of Rs.16,300 crore to be raised by PFC, IREDA, IWAI, and NABARD shall be financed by Government of India by making suitable budget provisions in the Demand of respective Ministries/Departments.
•    The move is intended to supplement the efforts of the Government to improve infrastructure spending and to improve the revenue-capital mix of the expenditure for a more sustainable growth.
•    Infrastructure spending is one of the key parameters to judge the sustainability of growth in a country. 
•    The proportion of Capital expenditure to the total expenditure is the yardstick to measure this. In line with this approach, an announcement was made in the Budget Speech 2016-17 that in order to augment infrastructure spending further, Government will permit mobilisation of additional finances to the extent of 31,300 crore by NHAI, PFC, REC, IREDA, NABARD and Inland Water Authority through raising of Bonds during 2016-17.

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First GST Council Meet : 1 April Rollout Agreed

The goods and services tax (GST) will be rolled out on 1 April, members at the first meeting of the GST council decided by consensus on Thursday.
•    They also charted the steps to be taken over the next few months to meet the deadline.
•    Some key issues like sharing of administrative control between the centre and states and the mechanism for deciding on the compensation mechanism, law and formula for states will be taken up in the meeting.
•    The GST council agreed on a compounding scheme for small traders with revenues of up to Rs50 lakh wherein they can pay a flat tax to be decided at a future date. 
•    The meeting also finalized the rules of business and conduct of the GST council. In the absence of a state finance minister, state government officials will be able to represent the state but won’t be able to vote. 
•    Issues like tax rates, the threshold level and selection of a vice-chairman have been put off for later.

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