• Nirma is considering partnering either Apollo Global Management or Bain Capital to bid for the cement unit of Indian conglomerate Emami Group, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
  • Nuvoco Vistas Corporation, a cement unit of detergent maker of Nirma, has held separate discussions with the private equity firms for a potential offer for Emami Cement, said the people, who asked not to be identified.
  • Growth of eight core industries recovered to 1.3% in December 2019 after remaining in the negative zone in the previous four months helped by expansion in the production of coal, fertiliser and refinery products. The growth was, however, lower than 2.1% recorded in December 2018.
  • However, growth rate of steel and cement sectors slowed down to 1.9% and 5.5% respectively.
  • Affordable housing received a boost as the government extended the tax holiday for new projects by another year. This is likely to lead to more project launches in the segment.
  • The government has also extended the deadline for first time homebuyers’ to avail additional Rs 1.5 lakh interest deduction on home loans by a year till 31 March 2021. At present, home loan interest payment of up to Rs 2 lakh is allowed as deduction across segments, along with loan principal repayment up to Rs 1.5 lakh. The move is expected to boost demand from first-time homebuyers.
  • Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her second Budget in Parliament on February 1, 2020. Highlights of Budget 2020:
    • Fiscal deficit for 2019-20 higher at 3.8%
    • Customs duties on household appliances hiked
    • Customs duties on various household appliances such as ceiling and table fans, coffee makers, shavers, grinders and mixers, and hand dryers are to be increased from 10% to 20%.
    • Customs duties on electric vehicle kits now higher
    • Big increase in excise duty on cigarettes, chewing tobacco
    • Simplified Goods and Services Tax return from April 1
    • A simplified GST return will be implemented from April 1, 2020.
    • Crackdown on fraudulent claims of FTA benefits
    • Provisions for safeguard duties to be strengthened
    • Customs duty exemptions to be reviewed
    • Income tax rates reduced, more slabs now
    • Dividends to be taxed in the hands of recipients
    • Tax on ESOPs deferred by 5 years
    • A scheme to reduce litigation in direct taxes
    • Tax concession for sovereign wealth funds
    • A new Taxpayers’ Charter on the cards
    • Instant PAN through Aadhaar
  • The Indian Railways is reworking its strategy on freight loading as the transportation of coal, which comprises half of its freight, is on a decline because of the Centre’s thrust on clean energy.
  • According to Vinod Kumar Yadav, chairman of Railway Board, Freight loading by the Railways in 2019-20 (FY20) is 1,223 million tonnes (mt), of which 50% is coal and the rest other commodities.
  • The share of coal in railway freight is expected to come down to 40% in the FY21, target for which is 1,265 mt.
  • A National Logistics Policy, which will create a single window e-logistics market and focus on generation of employment, skills and making micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) competitive, will be announced soon, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.