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Govt simplifies transfer from SEZs to domestic markets

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In a recent move, the Indian government has eased restrictions on the movement of used IT hardware goods, including laptops, desktops, monitors, and printers, by companies operating in special economic zones (SEZs). SEZs are treated as foreign territories for customs laws, and bringing goods from these zones into the domestic tariff area (DTA) requires an import license.

According to a notification from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), companies are now allowed to shift used IT assets from SEZs to DTAs without the need for a license, but only for the purpose of further use in their DTA operations. However, certain conditions must be met for this relaxation to apply. The equipment, including laptops, desktops, monitors, and printers, should have been used in SEZ units for a minimum of two years and should not be older than five years from the date of manufacturing.

The import policy specifically addresses cases where a SEZ unit is closing down its operations and relocating to the DTA. In such instances, the import of these used IT items is permitted without a license, provided the products are not older than five years from the manufacturing date.

It’s important to note that if a SEZ unit has second-hand or used equipment that has been in operation for less than two years, it cannot be shifted to the DTA. Any import of used IT assets not meeting the specified criteria will be subject to licensing for restricted import.

The DGFT emphasized that these relaxations apply only if no exemption has been availed from regulatory requirements, including Compulsory Registration Order (CRO), Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), and WPC (Wireless Planning and Coordination) import license.

This development holds significance, especially considering the government’s previous adjustments to import restrictions on laptops and computers in October of the preceding year. The move aims to streamline the import management system, allowing importers to bring in shipments of IT hardware from overseas with a simple ‘authorization,’ detailing quantity and value. This initiative is designed to monitor the flow of laptops, tablets, and computers into the country without disrupting market supply or creating a cumbersome licensing regime.

This regulatory shift reflects the government’s ongoing efforts to facilitate business operations within special economic zones while maintaining necessary controls. By relaxing the import requirements for used IT assets, the authorities aim to boost efficiency for companies transitioning from SEZs to domestic markets. The specified timeframes for equipment usage and age restrictions are likely introduced to ensure that only relatively recent and well-maintained IT assets are integrated into the domestic tariff areas. This move not only simplifies administrative processes for businesses but also aligns with the broader strategy of promoting a conducive environment for economic growth and technological advancement.

Moreover, the government’s commitment to a streamlined import management system for IT hardware underscores its recognition of the sector’s pivotal role in India’s economic landscape. As technology continues to play a crucial role in various industries, these measures seek to strike a balance between facilitating the flow of essential equipment and maintaining regulatory oversight. The focus on transparency through a simplified ‘authorization’ process demonstrates a commitment to modernizing regulatory practices, ensuring that the nation remains competitive in the global IT market. This approach is poised to benefit businesses, consumers, and the overall economy by fostering innovation and adaptability in the rapidly evolving technology sector.

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Realme targets top spot in Rs 15-25k segment with P series launch

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Realme India aims to garner the highest share in the Rs 15,000-25,000 mobile phone segment this year with the launch of a new portfolio of devices under the P series, a senior company official said.

While sharing the plans on the P series, Realme India’s business strategy lead, Tarini Prasad Das, told reporters that in 2024, the company aims to achieve 50 million smartphone sales cumulatively under its partnership with Flipkart.

“We aim to lead the Rs 15,000-25,000 smartphone segment this year overall with the launch of the P series. The P series itself is expected to lead the segment,” Das said.

Realme is among the top five smartphone brands in terms of volume market share. The company had a 12 percent market share in 2023.

The company plans to launch the P series in the second week of April in the sub-Rs 20,000 price range.

Das said that both offline and online sales contribute equally to the overall business of Realme, and the company is looking to consolidate its leadership in the Rs 15,000-25,000 segment with the P series.

Without revealing the specifications of P series smartphones, Das said that it will focus on performance, design, better display, and charging facility in the target segment.

“We have exclusively partnered with Flipkart for the P series. We aim to achieve the 50 million sales milestone on Flipkart with the launch of the new P series this year,” Das said.

Realme captured the top spot on Flipkart in the price band of Rs 20,000-30,000 in February 2024 with a 29.2 percent share, as per the Counterpoint February 2024 trend report.

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Modest growth of 3.14 % in retail sales, PVs dip 6 %, 2W & 3Wsoar: FADA

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In FY24, auto retail sales saw sector-wide growth, leading to a 10 per cent yoy growth, with the 2W segment registering growth rate of 9 per cent, 3W segment growing by 49 per cent, PVs by 8.45 per cent, tractors by 8 per cent and commercial vehicles by 5 per cent respectively.

Despite election uncertainties, economic concerns and intense competition, the two wheeler and 3W segments showcased positive sentiment in March retail sales, especially in the premium and EV segments even as the Indian auto retail sector posted a modest growth of 3.14 per cent yoy in March 2024, with passenger vehicles sales showing a decline of 6 per cent, tractors showing a decline of 3 per cent and commercial vehicles facing a slump of 6 per cent respectively. However, in FY24, auto retail sales saw sector-wide growth, leading to a 10 per cent yoy growth, with the 2W segment registering growth rate of 9 per cent, 3W segment growing by 49 per cent, PVs by 8.45 per cent, tractors by 8 per cent and commercial vehicles by 5 per cent respectively, the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) said on Monday.

Heading into FY’25, FADA projects growth amidst a mix of optimism and challenges. The vehicle retail data of FADA for March’24 and FY’24 shows a surge in electric vehicle sales amidst expiration of the FAME 2 subsidy on 31 March with the 2W electric vehicles share jumping to 9.12 per cent for the first time. There was positive sentiment in 3W segment which demonstrated growth driven by the increasing acceptance of EVs, showing an optimistic trend despite potential challenges from election uncertainties and policy changes. Manish Raj Singhania, notes that the 2W segment demonstrated resilience and adaptability, with EV sales surging due to the expiration of the FAME 2 subsidy on March 31st. “This led to a notable boost in the 2W-EV market share to 9.12 per cent. “Positive market sentiment was supported by seasonal events, improved vehicle supply, and financial incentives. Despite facing market volatility and intense competition, the industry is strategically evolving, particularly in the premium and EV categories, signalling a bright future.” said Singhania.

In FY24, auto retail sales saw sector-wide growth, leading to a 10 per cent yoy growth, with the 2W segment registering growth rate of 9 per cent, 3W segment growing by 49 per cent, PVs by 8.45 per cent, tractors by 8 per cent and commercial vehicles by 5 per cent respectively. The 2W segment benefited by enhanced model availability, the introduction of new products and a positive market sentiment, alongside the burgeoning EV market and strategic premium segment launches. The growth in the 3W segment was driven by the introduction of cost-effective CNG fuel options, new EV models, expanding city landscapes, demand in last mile mobility in urban centres resulting in strong demand, marking a new industry benchmark. The PV segment’s growth was propelled by improved vehicle availability, a compelling model mix and significant contributions from the SUV segment, which now claims 50 per cent market share.

The auto is projecting an optimistic outlook in FY’25, focusing on new product launches, especially in EVs and leveraging economic growth, favourable government policies and expectation of good monsoon to fuel demand, despite facing challenges like competition and the need for strategic market engagement. The 3W segment showed an encouraging sales trend hitting an all-time high retail, driven by the growing acceptance of EVs. The introduction of EV autos and loaders positively impacted the retail environment. Although faced with election-related uncertainties and concerns over policy changes, such as free bus travel for women, the overall outlook for the sector remains upbeat, supported by the quality of vehicles and strong market demand.

The PV sector encountered challenges, with a m-o-m decrease of 2 per cent and a yoy fall of 6 per cent The downturn was influenced by heavy discounting and selective financing further affected by economic worries and the electoral climate. Nonetheless, positives such as improved vehicle availability, increased stock levels and new model launches did stimulate demand in certain areas. The impact of election activities and changes in festival dates also played a role in sales dynamics. The near-term outlook of FADA notes concern over decline in consumer sentiment among urban Indians and warns that the automotive sector faces a nuanced challenge. Given the continued inflationary trend without any relief in finance rates, these prospective buyers may continue to hesitate. Heading into FY’25, the auto industry is poised for growth amidst a mix of optimism and challenges.

The excitement around new product launches, particularly electric vehicles, sets a forward-looking tone. Manufacturers are gearing up with better supply chains and an array of models to meet diverse consumer demands. Economic growth, favourable government policies and an anticipated good monsoon are expected to fuel demand, especially in rural areas and the commercial vehicle sector, which is closely linked to infrastructure projects and economic activity.

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4 of top-10 valued firms add Rs 1.71 lakh crore to mcap; HDFC Bank, LIC lead gainers

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Four of the top 10 most valued firms witnessed a notable surge in their market capitalization, collectively adding Rs 1,71,309.28 crore. Leading this upward trend were HDFC Bank and the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), emerging as the top gainers in line with the overall positive sentiment in the equity market. Conversely, six companies within the top 10 pack experienced a combined decrease of Rs 78,127.48 crore in their market valuation, with Reliance Industries being the primary contributor to these losses.

During the week, the BSE benchmark index climbed by 596.87 points or 0.81 percent, reaching an all-time high of 74,501.73 on April 4. Among the gainers from the top 10 firms were Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), HDFC Bank, State Bank of India, and LIC. Meanwhile, Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank, Bharti Airtel, Infosys, ITC, and Hindustan Unilever faced declines in their market valuation.

HDFC Bank witnessed a significant increase of Rs 76,880.74 crore, reaching a valuation of Rs 11,77,065.34 crore, while LIC added Rs 49,208.48 crore, bringing its valuation to Rs 6,27,692.77 crore. TCS observed a rise of Rs 34,733.64 crore, reaching Rs 14,39,836.02 crore in market capitalization, and State Bank of India’s valuation increased by Rs 10,486.42 crore, reaching Rs 6,82,152.71 crore.

On the other hand, Reliance Industries experienced a decline of Rs 38,462.95 crore, reaching Rs 19,75,547.68 crore in valuation. Bharti Airtel saw a decrease of Rs 21,206.58 crore, reaching Rs 6,73,831.90 crore, and ICICI Bank’s valuation dropped by Rs 9,458.25 crore, reaching Rs 7,60,084.40 crore. Infosys’ market valuation declined by Rs 7,996.54 crore to Rs 6,14,120.84 crore, ITC’s valuation dipped by Rs 873.93 crore to Rs 5,34,158.81 crore, and Hindustan Unilever’s mcap decreased by Rs 129.23 crore to Rs 5,32,816.81 crore.

Reliance Industries maintained its position as the most valued domestic firm by market valuation, followed by TCS, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, State Bank of India, Bharti Airtel, LIC, Infosys, ITC, and Hindustan Unilever.

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Adani Group to invest Rs 2.3 Lakh Crore in renewable energy

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The Adani Group is set to inject approximately Rs 2.3 trillion into India’s most ambitious renewable energy expansion and manufacturing capacity for solar and wind energy by 2030. This investment surge comes despite a recent short-seller attack, showcasing the group’s steadfast commitment to its rapid growth objectives.

Adani Green Energy Ltd, the country’s largest renewable energy firm, will channel around Rs 1.5 trillion to ramp up its solar and wind power generation capacity at Khavda in Gujarat’s Kutch region from the current 2 GW to an impressive 30 GW. An additional Rs 50,000 crore will be allocated to replicate similar projects across the country. Meanwhile, Adani New Industries Ltd (ANIL), a unit within Adani Enterprises Ltd, will contribute nearly Rs 30,000 crore towards expanding solar cell and wind turbine manufacturing capacities at Mundra in Gujarat.

AGEL, which currently has an operating portfolio of 10,934 megawatts (10.93 GW), is targeting 45 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. 30 GW of this will come up at just one location at Khavda – the world’s largest renewable energy project. “We have just now commissioned 2,000 MW (2 GW) of capacity at Khavda and plan to add 4 GW in the current fiscal (financial year ending March 2025) and 5 GW every year thereafter,” said Vneet S Jaain, Managing Director, AGEL.

To support these plans as well as meet requirements of other domestic renewable players and the export market, ANIL plans to expand its cell and module manufacturing facility at Mundra to 10 GW by 2026-27 from the current 4 GW. Jaain, who is also a director on the board of ANIL, said crystalline silicon is turned into cells capable of converting sun rays into electric current and mounted on modules before being placed in high radiation areas such as Khavda. Electricity thus generated is wired to the transmission grid for onward movement to customers. Besides solar manufacturing, ANIL is also doubling capacity to make windmills that generate electricity from wind, to 5 GW in three-and-a-half years, he said.

The Adani Group, which spans from seaports to electricity generation and transmission, natural gas distribution, mining, copper production, airports, data centers, and commodities business, has a capital expenditure outlay of Rs 1.2 trillion for the 2024-25 fiscal year (April 2024 to March 2025). The group’s renewable energy plans are the most ambitious by any corporate in the country, which is targeting to generate 500 GW of electricity from non-fossil sources by 2030 as part of a broader plan of achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.

Khavda, spread over 538 square kilometers which is the equivalent of five times the area that the city of Paris does, will at peak generate 81 billion units that can power entire nations such as Belgium, Chile, and Switzerland. AGEL’s other project sites are in Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. The massive clean power generation park is located in barren land close to the border with Pakistan.

Jaain said the 30 GW planned at Khavda would comprise 26 GW of solar and 4 GW of wind capacity. AGEL’s existing operational portfolio comprises 7,393 MW solar, 1,401 MW wind, and 2,140 MW wind-solar hybrid capacity. Its current portfolio of 10,934 MW, which will power more than 5.8 million homes and avoid about 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, represents around 11 percent of India’s installed utility-scale solar and wind capacity, contributing over 15 percent of the nation’s utility-scale solar installations.

The renewable energy push comes as the conglomerate shrugs off the impact of Hindenburg Research that in January last year published allegations that Adani companies had engaged in share price manipulation and accounting fraud. The group has refuted all allegations, which caused the combined market capitalization of its listed companies to fall by USD 150 billion at their worst point. Its chairman Gautam Adani has in recent months stated that the group’s balance sheet was “healthier than ever before”.

In the immediate aftermath of the short-seller report, Adani reassured investors and bondholders by slowing some investment plans, paying down share-backed debt, and selling stakes to outside backers, including Florida-based investment firm GQG Partners. But now it is back to its breakneck speed expansion, switching back-to-back deals, including one with Reliance Industries Ltd of rival billionaire Mukesh Ambani.

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USD 16 million to support women-led businesses in Afghanistan, says World Bank

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According to the World Bank, the initiative will be centred in 15 provinces in Afghanistan: Kabul, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar, Herat, Dykundi, Faryab, and Jawzjan, reported Khaama Press.

The World Bank’s recent allocation of USD 16 million to support small businesses in Afghanistan, particularly those led by women, signals a significant step towards fostering economic resilience in the nation, as reported by Khaama Press. This financial boost, directed through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and administered by the Aga Khan Foundation in the United States, underscores a strategic effort to bolster the country’s financial infrastructure.

Melinda Good, the World Bank’s country director for Afghanistan, emphasized the critical role of supporting small financial providers in the country, citing it as one of the few actionable strategies available to improve access to financial resources, especially for women. Good highlighted the project’s core objective: to fortify Afghanistan’s small financial sector, enabling small business owners and women-led enterprises to secure essential financial credit. The overarching aim is to facilitate the reconstruction of businesses, livelihoods, and ultimately, contribute to the revitalization of the private sector within the nation.

The World Bank’s initiative aligns with broader efforts to enhance access to financial resources for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Afghanistan. This commitment coincides with an upsurge in support from international organizations for women’s participation in the private sector, particularly in trade and investment. The targeted geographical focus of the initiative spans across 15 provinces in Afghanistan, including Kabul, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar, Herat, Dykundi, Faryab, and Jawzjan, as detailed by Khaama Press. Moreover, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has announced the alignment of multiple projects aimed at generating employment opportunities for women. This concerted effort not only bolsters Afghanistan’s economy but also empowers women entrepreneurs to manage and expand their enterprises.

In a country where women face significant barriers to education and formal employment, there has been a notable increase in their engagement in trade and business activities. The infusion of USD 16 million into Afghanistan’s small business sector holds immense promise for catalyzing economic growth and fostering gender equality. By prioritizing support for women-led enterprises, the initiative not only addresses immediate financial needs but also serves as a catalyst for long-term socio-economic development.

As Afghanistan navigates its path towards recovery and reconstruction, investments in small businesses, particularly those led by women, emerge as a pivotal strategy for building a resilient and inclusive economy. The World Bank’s commitment reflects a broader recognition of the importance of empowering women as drivers of economic growth and stability. By investing in women’s entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, stakeholders aim to unlock the untapped potential of half the population, thereby creating a more prosperous and equitable society. As Afghanistan transitions towards a more sustainable future, initiatives like these will play a crucial role in shaping its economic landscape and fostering social progress.

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AirIndia pilots unite with Vistara Crew: fatigue and pay concerns

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Pilots at another Tata Group-owned airline joined crew at Vistara in voicing concerns about being overworked and underpaid.

The concerns expressed by the Vistara pilots are not isolated incidents but rather indicative of systemic issues across Tata’s aviation business, the Indian Pilots’ Guild, which represents crew at Air India Ltd., wrote in a letter to Tata Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran. The letter was also addressed to the chief executive officers of Vistara, Air India, and low-cost unit Air India Express.

The pilots said they’re made to rack up maximum flying hours, face difficulties in having leave approved, and deal with unstable rosters, according to the letter dated April 4. The work culture at Tata’s airlines is “hostile and intimidating,” and some crew reported feeling threatened, which poses a significant safety risk, it said.

The group asked Tata’s top management to open a dialog with pilots and address their grievances. Representatives for Air India and Tata didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg News’ requests for comment on the letter.

Until now, Vistara has been the focus after the airline, co-owned by Tata and Singapore Airlines Ltd., canceled more than 140 flights since Monday as pilots called out sick en masse over pay cuts and fatigue concerns. While Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan addressed concerns on Wednesday, the revelation that crew at India’s flag carrier share the same complaints is a major blow to Tata’s five-year plan to transform Air India into a world-class airline.

The complaints also signal the challenges that lie ahead for the merger of Air India and Vistara, which is expected to be completed by year-end. One of the major concerns of Vistara’s pilots was that their guaranteed pay will be cut to 40 flying hours from 70 hours a month to align its salary structure with Air India.

Vistara’s flight cancellations continued, with another 13 scrapped so far Friday. At the meeting with pilots earlier this week, Kannan assured crew that the carrier will improve its roster to give adequate rest time.

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