Covid-19 lockdown: No coercion on taxpayers to pay up, clarifies FinMin

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The on Tuesday defended the guidelines issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to field officers working from home, after tax officer and staff associations described the directives laid out therein as tactics to pressurise assessees to cough up dues.


The Income-Tax department had asked field formations to contact over phone or email to follow up on pending collections.



sources said describing the directives as coercive tactics “is nothing but just an imagination.”


“The directives of are given to the officers to be and to act as facilitators to and to help them arrange their I-T related solutions through phone calls and/or other online methods. However, some quarters have mistakenly portrayed the directives of the as if directing its field officers to use coercion for collection of taxes in this time of adversity,” one of the sources said.


The sources clarified that during the ongoing nationwide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all I-T officers including field officers, staff have been given guidelines to work from home by and are advised to make daily reports to

Govt may slash borrowing from market in April amid lockdown: Report

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India may slash or even cancel its planned borrowings from the market for April, looking at its options amid a nationwide prompted by the outbreak, two finance ministry sources told Reuters.


The travel curbs have disrupted routine bond market trading and volumes and prompted primary dealers, underwriters to bond issuances, to seek finance ministry intervention.



“We are looking at various options. Market borrowing is challenging in the current environment,” a senior finance ministry official said.

 



“So we are considering options of selling these bonds to LIC (Life Insurance Corp of India) or RBI (Reserve Bank of India). We might still look at a small borrowing from the market, but all options are on the table,” he said, adding that the government could also use the central bank’s ways-and-means facility – an overdraft facility the RBI offers to the state – to address any immediate cash needs.


Private placement of bonds would ensure the government gets the money it needs for its expenditure while there is no impact on the market.


He also said the government would likely take a month-on-month view

Discoms’ outstanding dues to power gencos rise nearly 32% in January

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Power producers’ total outstanding dues owed by distribution firms rose nearly 32 per cent to Rs 88,311 crore in January 2020 over the same month previous year, reflecting stress in the sector.


Distribution companies (discoms) owed a total of Rs 67,012 crore to power generation companies in January 2019, according to portal PRAAPTI (Payment Ratification And Analysis in Power procurement for bringing Transparency in Invoicing of generators).




The portal was launched in May 2018 to bring in transparency in power purchase transactions between the generators and discoms.




In January 2020, the total overdue amount, which was not cleared even after 60 days of grace period offered by generators, stood at Rs 76,192 crore as against Rs 51,453 crore in the same month of the preceding year.




According to the latest data on the portal, outstanding dues in January has decreased over the preceding month. In December 2019, the total dues of discoms stood at Rs 86,948 crore.




However, the overdue amount in January increased over the preceding month, from Rs 75,930 crore in December 2019.


Power producers give 60 days to discoms for

Govt forms ministerial-level committee to resolve supply-chain issues

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The government has formed a ministerial level committee to mitigate problems as India undergoes one of the longest curfews in history.


Headed by Defence Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah, the committee has been tasked with ensuring unhindered supply of essential items during the lockdown. Seven secretaries from the ministries of consumer affairs, road transport, civil aviation, shipping, textile, health and Chairman of the Railway Board are part of the committee which will meet daily at 11 AM through video conferencing


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 announced a 21-day lockdown- the most far reaching measure by any government to curb the spread of the pandemic.




The move, which experts believe is essential, but hastily drawn has thrown the country’s logistics system into disarray as local administrations are confused the over interpretation of the government orders.


“The biggest need is now that all administration work in tandem and implement the orders in unison. Hence the committee has been formed which will collect daily inputs and ensure coordination to solve the issues,” said an official, who is part of the committee.

PMO asks ministers to file daily report on steps taken to curb virus impact

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The Prime Minister’s Office has directed Union ministers to file a daily report on various measures being taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 such as quarantine and healthcare facilities, as also steps taken to tackle the impact of the lockdown, including availability of essential items.


All Union ministers have been assigned a state with the direction to maintain daily contact with district magistrates and superintendents of police on steps being taken to check the spread of coronavirus, which has infected over 700 people in the country and claimed at least 17 lives.


The ministers have also been asked to send their feedback to the “on a daily basis so that loopholes and red tape” in implementing decisions to check the spread of the virus can be done away with.


There are two major aspects on which these ministers have to submit their reports — steps taken to contain the spread of the virus, and action taken to tackle the impact of the imposed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, sources said.


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Apart

Centre asks states to allow manufacture, distribution of packaged foods

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The food processing ministry on Thursday sent an advisory to states under a nationwide lockdown to allow manufacturing, transport, distribution and retail of packaged foods and beverages amongst others—a move that’s expected to help companies like PepsiCo, Coke, and Nestle.


Many packaged foods and beverage companies have had to suspend production and distribution of their products due to the lockdown and confusion in what constitutes essential food items.


Pushpa Subrahmanyam, the food processing secretary, said in a communication that in understanding food, the definition of “food” would be as per the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 under which any packaged or loose food article would be defined as a food product. As a result, manufacturing, transportation, distribution and retail of packaged foods and beverages, milk and milk products which include bakery and dairy, animal feed, pet food, infant and baby food, tea and coffee, health supplements, nutraceuticals, food for special medical purposes amongst others are all listed for permission.


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It of course also includes the other essential products which include fruits and

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