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QBiz: Govt to Lift Ban on Onion Exports; Voda-Idea Seeks Relief

1. Govt to Lift Ban on Onion Exports as Prices Likely to Fall Sharply

The government on Wednesday, 26 February, decided to lift the nearly six-month-old ban on export of onions in a bid to protect the interests of farmers as prices are likely to fall sharply due to bumper rabi crop.

Sources said the decision was taken at a meeting of a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Home Minister Amit Shah.

The lifting of ban would be effective once the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) issues a notification in this regard. The GoM on Wednesday also deliberated on whether to reduce or scrap the Minimum Export Price (MEP) on onion to facilitate outbound shipments, the sources said.

(Source: Business Standard)

2. Vodafone Idea Looks for Relief From Telecom Panel Meet on Friday

Vodafone Idea Ltd has asked the government to help set a floor price for mobile services and lower licence fee and spectrum usage charges for auctions to alleviate stress in the industry, a person aware of the matter said.

The company’s request comes two days before the Digital Communications Commission, the highest decision- making authority in the telecom department, meets to discuss relief measures for telecom companies hit by the Supreme Court verdict on telecom dues.

Telecom operators have been left scrambling to pay dues after the Supreme Court on 14 February pulled them up for failing to comply with its October verdict.

(Source: Livemint)

Also Read: Vodafone Backs Out From Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency Project

3. No Uncertainty About Bank Merger; It Is Going as per the Schedule: Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, 26 February, said that there is no uncertainty on the proposed merger of public sector banks (PSBs), which is underway and will meet the implementation date of 1 April.

“We are going as per schedule on that. There is no uncertainty," she said, adding that there is no need for any speculation pertaining to the same.

Last year, the finance ministry announced the consolidation of 10 public sector lenders into four bigger and stronger banks. Punjab National Bank (PNB), Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) and United Bank will be brought together to form the second largest public sector bank in the country, after State Bank of India (SBI).

(Source: Livemint)

Also Read: No Uncertainty on Merger; It’s Going as per Schedule: Finance Min

4. Auditors to Now Check If Firms Can Repay Debt

Auditors in India will now be required to record their findings related to potential frauds in companies, their ability to service debt and whistle-blower complaints after the government widened the scope of statutory audits amid a surge in fraud cases.

The Companies (Auditor’s Report) Order, 2020, released on Wednesday, 26 February by the corporate affairs ministry, mandates enhanced disclosures by auditors and is aimed at detecting frauds in companies before it is too late.

Auditors will now have to weigh in on whistle-blower complaints received by the company as well as concerns raised by outgoing auditors before forming their opinion.

(Source: Livemint)

Also Read: Ministry asks NCLT to freeze assets of IFIN auditors

5. SEBI Gives Direct Access to Stock Exchanges for Mutual Fund Investments

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has asked stock exchanges to allow investors to buy and sell mutual funds directly on their platforms.

With this move, the regulator has now ensured a level-playing field with the mutual fund industry's own official platform, Mutual Funds Utility, which was launched by mutual funds through the Association of Mutual Funds of India (AMFI) in 2015.

As a result, investors who wish to invest in mutual funds on their own through direct plans, can make use of MFU directly. The stock exchange platforms – BSE STAR MF (BSE Ltd) and NMF II – also offered direct plans. But there was a small limitation – direct plans on stock exchanges were available only to those investors who invest in mutual funds through SEBI-registered RIAs.

(Source: Moneycontrol)

Also Read: Auto, Metal Stocks Drag Markets Down, Sensex Slips Under 41,000

6. iQOO Debuts a 5G Smartphone Powered by Snapdragon 865

iQOO 3 is powered by the latest Snapdragon 865, which is a 7nm chipset and is equipped with the A77 architecture which can handle the most demanding tasks with great ease.

The super-hot Indian smartphone market has seen the birth of a new player, iQOO (pronounced i-koo) that is vying to carve a niche for itself in, what the company’s director of marketing, Gagan Arora, calls, “premium smartphone segment.”

The company’s first flagship, iQOO 3, is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor boasting of 5G capabilities. It goes on sale next week and comes in three variants – `36,990 (8+128GB 4G), `39,990 (8+256GB 4G) and `44,990 (12+256GB 5G). It will be available in three attractive colour options – Quantum Silver, Tornado Black and Volcano Orange.

(Source: Financial Express)

Also Read: Shaping The Future Of Smartphones & Challenges That Lie Ahead

7. Tax Thorns Haunt Walmart-Flipkart Deal, Foreign Shareholders Want Clarity

Tax-related issues are cropping up in the Walmart-Flipkart deal even almost two years after the transaction was done. A clutch of foreign firms that were shareholders in Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal-founded Flipkart have moved the Authority of Advance Rulings (AAR) to seek clarity on the taxability of the capital gains arising out of the $16-billion deal struck in May 2018.

American retail major Walmart reportedly deducted taxes from Flipkart’s foreign shareholders, including SoftBank, Naspers and Accel Partners, to pay withholding tax to the government for capital gains made by these entities.

(Source: Business Standard)

8. Petrol, Diesel May Get Cheaper Soon

Petrol and diesel prices in India may significantly fall in the coming days as the oil demand in the international market has touched a decade-low. The likelihood of petrol and diesel getting cheaper is even higher as the International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that the global crude oil demand may fall further.

In the latest report of the IEA released on 25 February, it has said that the agency sees demand rising by 825,000 bpd in 2020, although suffering an outright contraction of 435,000 bpd in the first quarter. “We certainly see the lowest oil demand growth in the last 10 years and we may need to revise it downwards,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol told Reuters at an energy conference in London.

(Source: Financial Express)

9. Damanis up Stake in India Cements to 12%

Radhakishan S Damani, Gopikishan S Damani and Shrikantadevi R Damani, along with their investment firm Derive Investments, have picked up a further 7.27% stake in Chennai-headquartered India Cements, upping their shareholding in the company to 11.98%. Reacting to the development, the India Cement’s scrip climbed 19.95% from the previous close of Rs 87.20 and closed at Rs 104.60 on the BSE on Wednesday, 26 February.

The Damani’s acquired 2.25 crore shares, aggregating to 7.27%, through an open market purchase through bulk deal on BSE and NSE on 25 and 26 February. They had 4.71% stake in India Cements, prior to the fresh stake buy, said a disclosure filed by the South-based cement company.

(Source: Financial Express)

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