Episode 375

Weekly Business Roundup at 10:00 am on 4th February 2023

In the weekly round-up of news related to business, finance, and the economy, we talk about Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget speech, proposal of new tax regime, Mukesh Ambani reclaiming India and Asia richest spot, Railway infrastructure. We also talk about Vodafone Idea’s approval of proposal to settle dues with ATC Telecom.

Here’s Weekly Business Roundup at 10:00 am on 4th February 2023.

[Disclaimer: This transcript is auto-generated]

Let us begin with the Budget news that was presented this week. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said growth was the predominant focus from Day 1 when she and her team sat down to prepare the last full-year Budget ahead of Lok Sabha elections. Nirmala Sitharaman said, quote, “The Prime Minister was also on board with it. He said we need to keep the growth momentum. If anything, we need to speed it up, oil it better and run it better, and that is why this number of Rs 10 trillion for capital expenditure came up,’ unquote. The finance minister said given that there was no let-up in the pandemic, and the hit the private sector took due to this, the government remained consistent with its capex plan over the last three years. The minister added quote, “We weren’t really looking if they were investing or not. We went about investing. Simultaneously, of course, the private sector has come out, the twin balance sheet problem has been addressed, they have deleveraged themselves considerably,” unquote.

In some more budget news, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed to reduce the number of tax slabs under the clutter-free New Tax Regime from six to five. The new rates under the new regime will be applicable for Assessment Year 2024-25 or for the income made in finan cial year 2023-24. For income in financial year 2022-23, a person will have to file Income Tax Return as per the old tax rates. As per the latest tax slabs under the New Regime, individuals having an annual income of Rs 5-6 lakh will have to pay 5% tax while those earning Rs 6-9 lakh will have to pay 10% of their income as tax. Further, individuals earning Rs 9-12 lakh per year will pay 15% tax while those earning Rs 12-15 lakh annually will pay 20% tax. The tax rate for individuals earning more than Rs 15 lakh will pay 30% tax. Interestingly, the Finance Minister has made annual income up to Rs 7 lakh tax-free by increasing the rebate limit.

Next to Industry, Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries, once again reclaimed India and Asia’s richest spot with a net worth of $81 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Ambani’s rise to the top once more comes as billions were shaved off Gautam Adani’s net worth after a US-based short seller Hindenburg Research released a report alleging Adani of fraud and stock manipulation. With a net worth of $72.1 billion, Adani is now ranked 13th on the index, one spot behind Mukesh Ambani who is the 12th richest person in the world. On 17 January, a day before Hindenburg came out with its report, Adani’s net worth was $124 billion, making him the world’s third richest person at the time. Since then, his net worth has gone down by nearly $52 billion. From being the biggest wealth gainer in 2022, the Indian billionaire has become the biggest loser on Bloomberg’s rich list this year. Adani has lost $48.5 billion year-to-date, according to Bloomberg data. Since short-seller Hindenburg released its report, Adani companies lost $90 billion in market value, which wiped billions off Adani”s fortune. The Hindenburg report alleged stock manipulation and accounting fraud by Adani. It also accused Adani’s brother of shady dealings.

Let us have talk on infrastructure, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw this week announced that India will have its first hydrogen train ready by December this year. Keeping in line with this year’s budget for green growth, Vaishnaw said that the Indian Railway will contribute to this mission via the country’s first hydrogen train which will be designed and manufactured in India by December. The hydrogen train, once ready, will initially run on heritage circuits like Kalka to Shimla. The train route will later be expanded to other places as well. Vaishnaw said that the motive of the train is to show India’s cultural heritage through trains which will also be updated by adding new circuits like the Guru Kripa circuit to the list. This means that these heritage routes will completely go green. Hydrogen trains, as the name suggests run on hydrogen fuel cells. These are much more environmentally friendly than traditional diesel engines. Hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen which then produces the electricity that is used to power the train’s motors.

Lastly, the Vodafone Idea board this week for the second time, approved a proposal to settle Rs 1,600-crore dues with telecom tower firm ATC Telecom Infrastructure through the issuance of equity convertible debt bonds. However, this time the board has not said the optionally convertible debentures would be subject to the government having converted the interest from deferment of adjusted gross revenue and spectrum dues owed by the company.

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Weekly Business Roundup at 10:00 am on 4th February 2023