• For the amendments to the Companies Act 2013 treating CSR non-compliance as a
    criminal offence, the government is likely to go in for a change in position on this count.
  • The government had in the just concluded Budget session gone in for several
    amendments to the CSR provisions under the company law including the aspect of
    making CSR spend mandatory for Corporate India.
  • The High level committee on CSR recommendation of doing away with the penal
    provision of imprisonment for non-compliance may find favour with the government.
    The Committee report was submitted to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
  • One thing is for sure — CSR spend will continue to be mandatory in India, but may only
    be treated as civil offence in case of non-compliance.
  • Now all eyes are on the Corporate Affairs Ministry to see how it would provide legal
    relief to India Inc and make such non-compliance related offences as a civil offence.
  • Warehouse leasing by corporates rose a healthy 31% Y-o-Y to surpass 13 million sq ft
    during the first half of the 2019 calendar year, with Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore
    accounting for more than 60% of the activity. The demand during the period was mainly
    driven by third-party logistics (3PL) players, followed by e-commerce companies.
  • Except the Delhi-NCR and Bangalore, all other cities witnessed a marginal growth in
    leasing. In a few instances, tier II cities like Hosur (Tamil Nadu) and Vijayawada
    (Andhra Pradesh) saw rise in leasing with large e-commerce players taking up 0.64
    million sq ft and 0.15 million sq ft, respectively.
  • Jasmine Singh, executive director (advisory & transaction services) at CBRE India,
    said: “It is quite interesting to note that key demand drivers of leasing activity in H1
    2019 were 3PL (56%) and engineering & manufacturing (6%) firms. Domestic
    corporates drove demand with a share of about 85% of leasing as compared to about
    67% in H12018. We also witnessed new launches to the tune of about 15 million sq ft
    by major developers.”
  • 3PL firms are third-party logistics companies in the logistics and supply chain
    management, which use third-party players to outsource distribution, warehousing, and
    fulfillment services. The sharp rise in leasing activity by 3PL players like Delhivery,
    Flyjack Logistics, DHL, Future Supply Chain and Kerry Indev Logistics was due to their
    continued expansion across cities.
  • 3PL companies were followed by e-commerce (9%) and retail firms (8%). E-commerce
    players like BigBasket and Flipkart too leased space across cities. Corporates from
    sectors like retail, auto ancillary as well as electronics & electricals too contributed.
  • On the sector’s outlook, CBRE chairman & CEO (India, South East Asia, Middle East &
    Africa), Anshuman Magazine said, “We also expect logistics leasing activity to
    strengthen owing to consolidation/expansion by occupiers. In addition, as per our
    APAC Investor Intention Survey, 2019, India was among the top five investment
    destinations in APAC. Industrial and logistics was also one of the top segments
    expected to be targeted by investors in 2019.”
  • As per the annual report of Coal India Ltd (CIL), a total of 120 coal projects costing ₹20
    crore and above are in different stages of implementation. Out of which 66 projects are
    on schedule and 54 projects are delayed.
  • The major reasons for delay in implementation of these projects are delays in obtaining
    environment clearance, forest clearance, possessions of land and issues related to
    resettlement and rehabilitation, contractual issues and evacuation facilities among
    others.

The Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) is not inclined to accede to the
steel industry’s demand for re-imposition of safeguard duty on imports of various hot-
rolled coil (HRC) products and sheets, as it reckons the conditions for such a remedial
step don’t exist right now.

“The DGTR is not convinced with the industry data and is unlikely to reimpose
safeguard duty since the prevailing situation of the domestic industry is not as same as
in 2016, when the government had to initiate a series of measures to rein in rising
predatory imports,” said a source.

Safeguard duty is generally imposed in the event of a sudden surge in imports which
causes or threatens to cause serious injury to the domestic industry.

India became a net importer of steel in 2018-19 after a gap of three years. As imports
to India were surging, the government had imposed a series of tariff and non-tariff
measures to successfully arrest the trend. Most of the barriers imposed then like
minium import price (MIP), safeguard duty and anti-dumping duty have either expired or
become redundant in view of the prevailing high international prices.

Meanwhile, local prices have started showing a downward trend of late due to anaemic
demand from construction and auto industries, the two prime drivers of steel
consumption.

  • Naveen Jindal-promoted Jindal Steel & Power Limited (JSPL) has sold off one of its
    major international ventures, Botswana coal mine to Maatla Energy for $150 million.
    The sale is part of the company’s plan to monetise its global assets to pare debt at the
    group level.
  • Barely a week after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s assurance to corporate
    entities to review the jail-term provision in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) law,
    a high-level committee has recommended that non-compliance with CSR norms be
    made a civil offence and moved to a penalty regime.
  • This is a departure from the recent policy change which had provided for a three-year
    jail term for violating CSR norms.
  • The committee chaired by Injeti Srinivas, secretary, corporate affairs ministry,
    submitted its recommendations to Sitharaman, suggesting that CSR expenditure be
    made tax deductible, in order to incentivise CSR spending by companies. “There is a
    need to address the distortions in CSR spending arising from prevalent tax structure.
  • It has suggested a provision to carry forward unspent CSR balance for three to five
    years.
  • According to the new CSR norms under Section 135 of the Companies Act a company
    has to earmark a part of its profit for social activities and transfer all unspent amount to
    an escrow account if it is an ongoing project.
  • The CSR expenditure which remains unspent in three years would be transferred to
    any fund specified in Schedule VII of the Companies Act such as the Swachch Bharat
    Kosh, the Clean Ganga Fund, and the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
  • The committee has recommended that Schedule VII be aligned with the sustainable
    development goals to include sports promotion, senior citizens’ welfare, welfare of
    differently abled persons, disaster management, and heritage protection.
  • The idea behind this is to ensure that the CSR amount should be spent by the
    company — “it must not be lying with the company.”
  • It has also suggested third-party assessment of major CSR projects and bringing CSR
    under the purview of statutory financial audit. CSR spending will have to become part
    of the financial statements of the company. The committee has said that companies
    having CSR prescribed amount below ~50 lakh may be exempted from constituting a
    CSR committee.
  • Government may identify 5% of the CSR mandated companies on a random basis for
    third-party assessments.
  • The other recommendations of the committee include developing a CSR exchange
    portal to connect contributors, beneficiaries and agencies, allowing CSR in social
    benefit bonds and promoting social impact companies.