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QBiz: Bezos to Invest $1 Billion in India; Exports Fall in Dec

1. Jeff Bezos Pledges $1 Billion, Pulls out All Stops in India Charm Offensive founder Jeff Bezos pledged $1 billion in new investments to help take small Indian businesses online, as the world’s richest man pulled out all the stops to woo merchants and the government amid regulatory scrutiny and protests by traders.

The investments, said Bezos in a chat with Amazon India country head Amit Agarwal, will touch as many as 10 million small and medium businesses, including manufacturers, resellers, local offline shops and brands.

“This initiative will use Amazon’s global footprint to create $10 billion in Indian exports by 2025," Bezos told a hall packed with Amazon executives and businessmen, who sell on its marketplace, and industry stalwarts at the company’s first Smbhav summit for small businesses.

(Source: Livemint)

2. Bank Unions Call for Two-Day Strike From 31 January

Bank unions on Wednesday called for a two-day nationwide strike on 31 January and 1 February after talks over wage revision failed to make headway with the Indian Banks' Association (IBA).

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), which represents nine trade unions, said they will also hold a three-day strike from 11-13 March.

"From 1 April, we have decided to go on an indefinite strike," UFBU state convenor Siddartha Khan told PTI. UFBU is seeking at least a 15-per cent hike, but the IBA has capped the raise at 12.25 per cent, he said.

(Source: The Economic Times)

Also Read: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Says The 21st Century is Going to Be India’s

3. Over 1,200 Exporters Untraceable; Govt Saves Rs 350 Cr Fake IGST Refund

Revenue Department using its data analytics has discovered a fraud in GST refunds with as many as 1,200 exporters, who have have claimed Rs 350 crore refunds, are now untraceable.

The department has reasons to consider that nefarious elements among the customs broker community may be connected with these frauds, involving fictitious entities, existing only in virtual space through identity thefts with fake and morphed documents, according to sources.

The detection of fraud has resulted in saving the exchequer over Rs 350 crore of refunds, they added. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has obligated customs brokers under their licensing conditions to independently verifying the KYC of exporters, the sources noted.

(Source: Financial Express)

4. India's Exports Fall for Fifth Straight Month in December

India's goods exports declined for the fifth straight month in December 2019 by 1.8 per cent (year-on-year) to $27.36 bn as key items such as petroleum, engineering goods and gems and jewellery continued to suffer due to low global demand.

Imports were down 8.83 per cent in December at $38.61 billion as all major items, including gold, witnessed a decline, as per figures released by the Commerce & Industry Ministry on Wednesday, 15 January.

The sharper decline in imports helped bridge the trade deficit to $11.25 billion, compared to $14.49 billion in December 2018.

(Source: The Hindu Business Line)

Also Read: Bank Strike on 31 Jan & 1 Feb as Wage Revision Talks With IBA Fail

5. Synergy, Prudent Left in the Fray as Hinduja Refuses to Board Jet Airways

London-based Hinduja group pulled out of the race for Jet Airways (India) Ltd, leaving only two contenders—South America’s Synergy Group and New Delhi-based Prudent ARC Ltd—in the fray to acquire the airline that shut operations in April last year, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Synergy submitted its expression of interest (EoI) on 6 January and Prudent, an asset restructuring company, submitted its initial bid on Wednesday, 15 January, the final day of submitting bids, the people said. With only two parties left in the fray, the revival of what was once India’s largest private airline appears to be an uphill task.

(Source: Livemint)

6. Offer Contactless Card Payments Only If Opted for: RBI to Banks

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday, 15 January, directed banks to offer the facility to carry out contactless card transactions only to those users who specifically choose to avail it. In a notification on its website, the central bank said the directive is aimed at improving user convenience and increasing the security of card transactions.

At the time of issue or reissue, all physical and virtual cards shall be enabled for use only at contact-based points of usage, that is, ATMs and point of sale (PoS) devices within India. Issuers shall provide cardholders a facility for enabling card-not-present domestic and international transactions, card-present international transactions and contactless transactions, as per a process detailed by the RBI.

(Source: Financial Express)

Also Read: PMC Bank Scam: Bombay HC Sets up Panel for Sale of HDIL Assets

7. Indian Bank Likely to Retain Its Name After Merger With Allahabad Bank

Indian Bank is likely to retain its name after the merger with Allahabad Bank, and the merger team is working on a new logo and tagline to capture the identity of both the partners, two people familiar with the development said.

“Our name has a pan-India appeal,” Indian Bank managing director Padmaja Chunduru told ET. Chennai-based Indian Bank is anchoring the merger with Allahabad Bank.

“A series of discussions took place. Both banks engaged consultants to examine how the branding and logo can be made after the merger,” she told ET in an interview.

(Source: The Economic Times)

8. Letter From NPR a Valid Document for KYC Process, Says RBI

Even as protests rage over the National Population Registry (NPR), a letter from the registry with your name and address on it has been made a valid document for banks’ Know Your Customer (KYC) drive.

As per RBI’s directive to banks, a letter from the NPR containing details of name and address is now among the list of Officially Valid Documents (OVDs) to be accepted by banks for opening an account or for meeting any other KYC norms.

The others among the OVD list are Permanent Account Number (PAN) card, driving licence, NREGA job card and the Aadhaar card.

(Source: The Hindu Business Line)

Also Read: Trump Signs Trade Deal With China; Refuses to Roll Back Tariff

9. Govt Plans to Impose Restrictions on Imports of Products Categorised as 'Others'

Imports of uncategorized items may soon require special licences, with the commerce ministry seeking to curb such imports by shifting them to a restricted list in a month, trade minister Piyush Goyal said.

“We have a big problem in our imports of a category called ‘others’. In that category, all sorts of stuff are being put in and imported into the country. The last analysis I got done, I found one out of four products being imported in the ‘others’ category," Goyal said at the National Standards Conclave on Wednesday, 15 January.

“I appeal to everybody, who is importing any product or service into the country, please categorize your product into the respective HSN (harmonised system of nomenclature) code where it falls. If your product is imported in sufficient measure, it requires a separate HSN code."

(Source: Livemint)

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