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Trade Deficit widens, goods exports post 9.6% growth

The country’s trade deficit widened to $10.16 billion in October, compared with $9.69 billion in the same month a year earlier, as gold imports more than doubled.
●    Gold imports in October rose 108.43 per cent to $3.5 billion compared with the same month a year earlier.
●    Exports of goods grew 9.59 per cent to $23.51 billion compared with the same month a year earlier due to an increase in exports of gems & jewellery, engineering goods and readymade garments. 
●    Imports expanded 8.11 per cent to $33.67 billion.
●    If the positive growth continues in the coming months, India’s exports could touch $280 billion.
●    Oil imports grew by 3.98 per cent to $7.14 billion, while exports of petroleum products recorded a 7.24 per cent growth to $2.71 billion.
●    Non-petroleum exports in October grew 9.9 per cent to $20.79 billion. 
●    Non-oil imports grew 9.28 per cent to $26.53 billion in October.

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Government activates nearly 2 lakh micro-ATMs

About 2 lakh micro-ATMs will come to the rescue of people as the government has directed banks to activate nearly 1.1 lakh such ATMs in rural areas and nearly 90,000 in urban and semi-urban areas. 
●    Micro-ATMs are handheld devices enabled with GPRS and some have a fingerprint scanner attached to them, making them Aadhaar-compatible. 
●    All that a customer has to do is use the debit card as he would in an ATM, and the moment the card is swiped, the micro-ATM connects it to the core banking system and money is either debited or credited from the account. 
●    A large number of micro-ATMs will be deployed across the country to facilitate the disbursement of new currency. 
●    The government has also increased the cash holding limit of business correspondents to Rs 50,000. 
 

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Deposits over Rs. 2.5 lakh to face tax, penalty on mismatch

Cash above Rs. 2.5 lakh deposited in banks following the scrapping of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes could attract a tax and a 200 per cent penalty in case it is disproportionate to the account owner's income.
●    The banks have been asked to keep the details of PAN card of people depositing such large amounts over the 50-day window till December 30.  
●    Similarly, jewellers have been told to keep PAN details of people buying jewellery on cash. Action will be taken against them in case of non-compliance.
●    The government's move is the sequel to the scrapping of high denomination notes, meant to flush out black money and counterfeit currency.
●    In such a scenario, the tax amount plus a penalty of 200 per cent of the tax payable would be levied under the relevant sections of the Income Tax Act.
●    Deposits up to Rs. 1.5 or Rs. 2 lakh would be below taxable income. "There will be no harassment by the Income Tax Department for such small deposits made,".

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Rs. 500 and Rs.1000 notes scrapped

Here are the important points for scrapping the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes:

Here are the highlights:

  • Corruption and black money are diseases rooted in this country, they are obstacles to our success. It is due to these black money and money laundering that terrorism gets sponsored
  • Already schemes for retrieving back black money have been taken. A voluntary disclosure scheme for undeclared money saw a good response. A Special Investigating Team is making progress to identify who has sent money abroad. 
  • 1.25 lakh crores of black money has been recovered. 
  • A new step in this direction - From now on, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000  notes will not be used.
  • However, here are what people can do with your existing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes -
  1. The Rs. 500 and 1000 notes can be tendered at the RBI office or any branch and obtain value thereof by credit into your respective bank accounts. This will be available from November 10 to close of banking hours on December 30, 2016 without any limit.
  2. The value credited to your bank account can be freely used by issue of cheques or by remitting through various electronic modes of transfer like NEFT, RTGS, IMPS, mobile banking, internet banking etc
  3. Notes of value up to Rs 4,000 per person can be exchanged for cash over the counter of any bank branch, head post office or sub post office. Carry a valid proof of identity for availing this exchange facility.

  • Here’s what you can do till November 11 midnight:

  1. Government hospitals will continue to accept old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes for payment
  2. Railway ticket booking, ticket counters of government buses and airline ticket counters at airports will accept the old notes for purchase of tickets.
  3.  Old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will be accepted at:
  1.  Petrol, diesel and gas stations authorised by public sector oil companies
  2. Consumer co-operative stores authorised by State or Central government
  3. Milk booths authorised by State governments
  4. Crematoria and burial grounds
  • ATMs –
  1. All ATMs will stay closed on 9 November, few will stay closed on 10 November to facilitate recalibration
  2. All ATMs will open from 11 November to dispense bank notes of only Rs. 50 and Rs. 100 denominations
  3. Banks have been advised to provide all cash withdrawal transactions at their ATMs free of cost to their customers till December 30, 2016.
  4. Banks will fix a limit of Rs 2000/- per day per card withdrawal limit at ATMs, for all customers, till November 18, 2016.
  5. The limits shall be raised to Rs 4,000 per day per card from November 19, 2016.
  • When will banks reopen?
  1. All banks are closed on November 9.
  2. Till the end of November 24, 2016, all cash withdrawals from bank accounts, over the bank counters, will be restricted to a limited amount of Rs 10,000 per day subject to an overall limit of Rs 20,000 a week. These limits will be reviewed after that.
  • If you are not able to exchange the notes by December 30, you will be given an opportunity to do so at specified offices of the Reserve Bank or such other facility until a later date as may be specified by the Reserve Bank by March 31, 2017 by submitting a declaration form
  • The existing valid currencies are Notes of one hundred, fifty, twenty, ten, five, two and one rupee and all coins
  • From November 10 onwards, RBI will start issuing the new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes.
  • There is no restriction of any kind on non-cash payments by cheques, demand drafts, debit or credit cards and electronic fund transfer.
  • For tourists and international air travellers, arrangements will be made at international airports for arriving and departing passengers who have Rs 500 or Rs 1000 notes of not more than Rs 5,000, to exchange them for new notes or other legal tender. Foreign tourists will be able to exchange foreign currency or old notes of not more than Rs 5000 into legal tender.
  • RBI is all set to issue a new Rs 500 denomination banknotes in Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series with inset letter ‘E’. The central bank will also issue two sets of Rs 2000 notes, one with the inset letter ‘R’ and one without the inset letter. Both will be legal tender money.
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India rises to 2nd Spot in Global Biz Optimism Index

Grant Thornton released its International Business Report 2016. 
●    The report ranks India at the second position on the global business optimism index during the third quarter (July-September 2016).
●    During the April-June 2016 period, India was ranked at the third position after being on top for two consecutive quarters.
●    Indonesia took the top spot, with the Philippines coming in third.
●    It says that the ranking rides on the recent policy reforms and Goods and Services tax (GST), which is expected to become reality soon.
●    The ranking was also complimented by the rise of employment expectations.
●    About 59 per cent of the respondents have voted in favour  of the growth prospects.

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Rs. 50 Crore OIL Start-up fund in oil and gas sector

Oil India Limited (OIL) has set up an OIL Start-Up fund of Rs 50 crore to encourage new "out of the box" ideas related to the oil and gas sector, particularly in the Northeast. 
●    The oil exploration major's chairman-cum-managing director Utpal Bora today said in a press conference that the initiative was in line with the Centre's 'Start-up India' initiative. 
●    The initiative was to create an ecosystem that was conducive for growth of start-ups in the oil and gas sector, which has a huge scope for application of technology-enabled ideas.
●    The government-run company also plans to create a dedicated website for its Start-Up initiative, inviting applications with project ideas, besides inviting through newspaper advertisements in the region with special attention given to ideas from students in technical institutions and universities.

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Anti-dumping duty imposed on imports of steel wire rods from China

The Union Government has imposed anti-dumping duty on imports of steel wire rods from China to protect domestic manufacturers from cheap in-bound shipments. 
●    In this regard, the Department of Revenue (DoR) has issued a notification mentioning that dumping duty has been imposed for six months. 
●    The protectionist measures against cheap Chinese imports were taken based on the recommendation of Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD). 
●    Anti-dumping duty is an import duty imposed by government on imported products which have prices less than their normal values or domestic price. 
●    Thus, it is protectionist and counter import measure used by a country under the multilateral World Trade Organisation (WTO) regime to protect its domestic producers and market from below-cost/cheap imports. 

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GST Slabs fixed by Council

The GST council on 3 November 2016 approved four tier tax structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent under the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST).
●    There will be two standard tax rates- 12 percent and 18 percent under the GST. 
●    Under the tax structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent, the lower rates will be applicable for essential items and the highest for luxury and de-merits goods that will also attract an additional cess.
●    The lowest rate of 5 percent will be for common use items while there will be two standard rates of 12 and 18 percent under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.
●    Most white goods like washing machines, air conditioners, refrigerators, shampoo, shaving stuff and soap will be taxed at 28 percent (with riders).
●    The highest tax slab will be applicable to items which are currently taxed at 30-31 percent (excise duty plus VAT).
●    There has been no consensus yet on tax rate for gold.
●    The cess will be lapsable after five years.

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RBI allows banks to issue Masala Bonds

Indian banks can raise Tier I, Tier II and funds for lending to the infrastructure sector by issuing rupee denominated masala bonds within the Rs 2.44 lakh crore foreign investment ceiling for corporate bonds, Reserve Bank of India said in a notification on Thursday. 
●    Banks can raise perpetual debt which qualifies as Tier I capital through rupee denominated bonds overseas. 
●    They can also raise long term funds to finance infrastructure and affordable housing projects in India, the central bank said. 
●    Tier I capital is the core capital of the bank is used to gauge a bank’s capability of absorbing losses. 
●    On Thursday, RBI just notified the measures announced for the bond market in August which included allowing banks to issue masala bonds. 
●    Until now these bonds could only be issued by companies and NBFCs. 
●    These bonds are different from other overseas instruments because the currency risk is borne by the investor. 

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RBI asks banks to ensure 10% of ATMs dispense Rs. 100 notes

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 2 November 2016 directed all the banks to dispense more 100 rupees notes through ATMs within the next 15 days.
●    The decision came after a review of steps taken by banks for installing ATMs dispensing lower denomination banknotes was conducted. 
●    After the review, it was found that very few banks had taken initiatives in setting up ATMs dispensing lower denomination notes including 100 rupees banknotes.
●    Moreover, RBI also decided to conduct a pilot project wherein 10 percent of the ATMs in the country will be calibrated to dispense 100 rupees banknotes exclusively. 
●    For this purpose, banks are free to select the branches with the sample covering relatively large number of centres or states. 
●    Once it is completed, the banks will further share their feedback on the pilot project after a lapse of two months.

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