FM relaxes regulatory deadlines, hints at stimulus; key highlights from the presser

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With an aim to give relief to people in the light of disruption caused by COVID-19, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 24 announced changes on the regulatory front and extended deadlines for many compliances.The FM announced a relaxation on compliance related to I-T, GST, customs & central excise, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)-related…

At a glance:

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With an aim to give relief to people in the light of disruption caused by COVID-19, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 24 announced changes on the regulatory front and extended deadlines for many compliances.

The FM announced a relaxation on compliance related to I-T, GST, customs & central excise, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)-related matters, bank-related compliances, fisheries and MCA provisions, among other things.

Today, we eased the burden of compliance on citizens, she said.

Here are the key takeaways from the FM’s presser:

Economic package coming soon: The FM said economic package is coming sooner rather than later.

She said the PM is closely monitoring the situation. The multi-layered composition of the economic task force is working. The economic package is being worked out and we will announce it soon.

I-T Return deadline extended: “The last date for filing Income Tax Returns for the financial year 2018-19 has been extended to June 30, 2020. For the delayed payments, the interest rate has been reduced from 12 percent to 9 percent,” FM announced.

Various other dates for income tax notices and filing have been extended to June 30, 2020. Aadhaar-PAN linking date, too, has been extended to June 30, 2020, from March 31, 2020.

“Vivaad Se Vishwas scheme extended to June 30, 2020. No 10 percent additional charge till June 30 on ‘Vivaad Se Vishwas’ scheme, FM said.

Relief on GST: Giving relief on the front of GST, FM said the last date for filing March, April, May 2020 GST returns had been extended to June 30 and announced no Interest, late fee and the penalty for the companies having Rs 5 crore turnover.

For the bigger companies, they have to pay only interest but no late fee and no penalty will be imposed on them.

FM also extended the payment date under the ‘Sabka Vishwas’ scheme, which was for settling disputes in the indirect tax regime, till June 30, 2020.

No financial emergency: The FM denied any possibility of imposing a financial emergency. She said the government and its agencies are closely monitoring the economy and no financial emergency is to be imposed as of now.

“No move to impose ‘financial emergency’ as was claimed by some reports,” FM said.

Relief to companies: For the companies, the FM relaxed holding of board meetings for a period of 60 days till the next two quarters.

Applicability of The Companies Auditors’ Report Order 2020, which was supposed to have come into force in 2019-20, has been shifted to 2020-21.

“If there is a company director who does not comply with the minimum residency requirement, it shall not be treated as a violation,” FM said.

New companies will get an additional 6 months to file the declaration with respect to business commencement.

Changes in IBC rules: On the front of IBC rules, the threshold for default under IBC was raised to Rs 1 crore from Rs 1 lakh earlier.

“We are raising the default threshold to prevent triggering of IBC for MSMEs. If the situation does not improve until April 30, we can suspend Section 7,9 and10 for 6 months,” FM said.

Monitoring stock market closely: “All the regulators and RBI and MoF are working together to monitor the development of the market, FM said.

SEBI has come up with certain guidelines to ensure stability in the stock market. We are consciously monitoring the stock market almost thrice in a day. A lot of inputs have come, the task force is also looking into them, the FM added.

No charges on ATM withdrawals: Till June 30, 2020, there will be no charge if one withdraws money from the ATM of other banks. Besides, one need not maintain the minimum balance in one’s bank account, be it a public or private bank.

What experts say

Analysts and experts welcomed the announcements made by the FM.

“Amid the lockdown, an extension of deadlines and relaxation of norms brings in great relief to the taxpayers and businesses in the country. The relaxation on bank charges is also a welcome step. The waiver of charges on cash withdrawal from ATMs will be helpful for citizens. Removal of minimum balance on bank accounts will be helpful, particularly for the poor sections. Raising the threshold for IBC to Rs 1 crore is a succour for the struggling MSMEs”,” said Dr. V K Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist at Geojit financial services.

Deepthi Mary Mathew, Economist at Geojit Financial Services said the extension of deadlines and relaxation of norms brings in great relief to the taxpayers and businesses in the country. The relaxation on bank charges is also a welcome step. More measures including cash transfers are expected in the coming days. The focus should be on the low-income earners, as they are the worst hit from the lockdown.

While the announcements have been welcomed by experts and analysts, they are of the view that it might not give a fillip to the market sentiment unless an economic stimulus is announced.

“FM made some announcements regarding relaxation on compliance-related issues which will be beneficial for public as well as for the companies but it won’t have any meaningful impact on the market while announcement regarding any economic package will have a significant impact on the market,” said Santosh Meena, Senior Analyst, TradingBells.

“The need of the hour is a well-defined finance package which has been already promised by the Finance minister. We believe the market to stay focused on fiscal action from the government rather than these regulatory actions in the near-term,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

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