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Freelance CFOs, the unsung startup heroes


Behind every successful startup, there is an unsung hero — the chief financial officer (CFO) and his team of number crunchers, whose efforts make that million-dollar funding possible. If you scratch the surface, it is likely that these number crunchers have been sourced from a CFO service agency, a trend that is gaining popularity in India.

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BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS- 2015-16 FROM 'CFOFORALL'


To abolish Wealth Tax; Existing tax slabs and Income Tax exemption limits continue unchanged. For contribution to National Pension Scheme, exemption limit raised from Rs 100000 to Rs 150000.

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WEST BENGAL STATE BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS- 2015-16 FROM 'CFOFORALL'


This is with reference to the State Budget 2015-16 for West Bengal presented by Dr. Amit Mitra, MIC, Finance Department, on 27.02.2015.

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OPIC to support lending to SMEs across India: Obama


US President Barack Obama Monday said that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government’s development finance institution, will support lending to small and medium businesses (SMEs) across India.

“OPIC will support lending to small and medium businesses across India that we anticipate will ultimately result in more than USD 1 billion in loans in underserved rural and urban markets,” said US President in his address at the US-India Business Summit in New Delhi.

“And our U.S. Trade and Development Agency will aim to leverage nearly USD 2 billion in investments in renewable energy in India,” he added.

OPIC mobilizes private capital to help solve critical development challenges and, in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy. OPIC supports U.S. private investment in more than 160 developing and post-conflict countries around the world in products that produce important economic, environmental and developmental benefits.

OPIC catalyzes revenues, jobs and growth opportunities from Europe to the Middle East, as well as Africa to Asia and Latin America. Projects range from those in the renewable resources sector to food, health, tourism, infrastructure, microfinance, financial services and technology and communications.

“Today, I’m proud to announce additional steps — a series of U.S. initiatives that will generate more than USD 4 billion in trade and investment with India and support thousands of jobs in both of our countries,” Obama said earlier.

“Specifically, over the next two years, our Export-Import Bank will commit up to USD 1 billion in financing to support “Made-in-America” exports to India.” added US President.

Source: SME times


Push for 'Make in India': Government set to correct taxation anomalies

NEW DELHI: To make it more attractive to produce a range of products from diapers to LED lamps and boilers to textiles and electronics in India, the government is looking to correct anomalies in the taxation structure that make it cheaper to import such products than manufacture them locally.With an eye on boosting the Make In India programme, the finance ministry has asked the Tariff Commission to examine the industry’s submissions about inverted duty structures in a range of sectors such as textiles, capital goods, engineering products, aluminium, steel and copper products, and yes, diapers.

Inverted duties occur when the import duties on a finished product are lower than the import duties on its raw materials that local manufacturers need to rely on.

The basic customs duty on diapers, for instance, is 10.64% with a countervailing duty of 6.18%. However, the import duties on the raw materials for diapers — poly film, lycra thread, waist elastic and super-absorbent material — are far higher. Imports from the Asean countries, which enjoy a special customs duty of just 3% on diapers, become more competitive.

“Such a duty structure means the Indian manufacturer can’t compete with imported alternatives,” said an official, adding that there is a significant surge in imports in such sectors at the cost of idling domestic capacities.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley had recently said that the entire effort of the government was to lower the cost of manufacturing and improve quality. “Otherwise we will become a nation of traders rather than manufacturers,” he had warned.

With the manufacturing sector registering negative growth only for the third time since Independence last year, India Inc. has identified the high cost of raw materials and taxation hurdles as major challenges and is hoping for a rationalization of the tax structure as well as a critical look at free trade agreements or FTAs, according to PwC-Ficci’s Manufacturing Barometer report released last month.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) has submitted a list of around 100 products across sectors where the problem is acute and hurting domestic capacities. The incidence of inverted duty structures, in most of these cases, is due to concessions offered under FTAs.

Jyotsna Suri, president of Ficci, said that though India Inc. appreciates the country’s economic diplomacy efforts to integrate with the rest of the world, it is equally critical to spur domestic manufacturing and correct systemic anomalies that dent competitiveness. “Engaging with the world is important as well as fixing the problem at home so that more investments are viable and more jobs can be created,” she told ET.

While the finance minister fixed this problem for a few products in his maiden budget last July, industry has now pointed out that the problem hurting Indian manufacturers is more endemic.

Officials said that the specific products hit by inverted duty structures are now being examined by the Tariff Commission.

“The finance ministry has asked the commission to scrutinize the problem as the revenue authorities would like to ascertain how much of the raw material with higher import duties is used for a particular finished product,” said a senior official in the industry ministry aware of the issue.


Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka meets PM Modi; dedicates $250 million to innovate in India

BENGALURU: Infosys has pledged to invest $250 million (Rs 1,500 crore) in Indian startups in the first such commitment by a cash-rich software services company. Chief Executive Vishal Sikka, a founder of two startups himself, made the promise on Wednesday to Narendra Modi, thereby burnishing his company’s patriotic credentials when the ‘Make in India’ theme dear to the prime minister is all the rage.

“Startups represent the vision, the hope and the persevering entrepreneurial spirit taking root in India,” Sikka was quoted as saying in a statement. “With the ‘Innovate in India’ fund, Infosys will invest in great Indian startups, help amplify their engineering and operations, as well as help bring their innovations to market at scale.”

Infosys’ announcement was greeted in the startup community with a mixture of excitement and scepticism — the former because such a pledge to acquire startups is unprecedented and the latter because India’s second-largest software company has done little with a $100-million ‘innovation fund’ announced by SD Shibulal in April 2013 when he was CEO.

Many former bosses of Infosys backing startups

Under Sikka, the big development so far has been a five-fold increase in the size of the fund. Half of this is now being set aside for investment in Indian startups.

Over the last few years, the vibrant startup sector in the country has seen a flood of money from investors across the globe. Last year alone, over $2 billion was invested in startups and companies such as Flipkart, Snapdeal and Olacabs have become posterboys of Indian entrepreneurship. About 800 new ventures are set up every year, estimates trade body Nasscom, which projects that by the year 2020 the country will be home to 11,500 startups, employing over 2.5 lakh people. “Let the party begin,” ..

“I believe the cake is large enough for everyone to have a piece of it.” Many former Infosys bosses are currently backing startups. Cofounders SD Shibulal and Kris Gopalakrishnan have a venture fund, Axilor Ventures, which aims to invest up to $1 million in early-stage funding. Founder and former chairman NR Narayana Murthy’s family office runs Catamaran Ventures which has backed companies such as Hector Beverages and Wellspring Healthcare.

Another company cofounder NS Raghavan has a technology investment firm Ojas Ventures which has backed startups like internet marketing company Vizury and interactive technology developer TELiBrahma. Infosys, set up by NR Narayana Murthy along with six friends in 1981, is considered by many as the country’s true entrepreneurial software company, and for this reason some believe Sikka’s desire to back technology-focused startups is a good move.

“I do believe this is a catalytic move for the industry and worth emulating by others,” said Sudhir Sethi, founder-chairman and managing director IDG Ventures India. Nonetheless, Sethi said that key to the success will be how Infosys executes this plan. “This is the second such attempt (by Infosys),” said Jens Butler of London-based IT research firm Ovum, referring to Infosys first setting up an innovation fund in 2013.

Since the company has not given any details, including a timeline by when it plans to make investments, Butler is unsure about how Infosys will walk the talk. Sikka too conceded that the company is still working out the details of the plan as it does not have a team to oversee the fund. “Over the next few weeks, we will establish how we will operate this,” Sikka told reporters last week.


Deceleration in growth rate has bottomed out: Arun Jaitley

PTI | 9 Jan, 2015
NEW DELHI: Decline in the growth rate has bottomed out and the economy will recover further because of falling inflation and favourable external environment, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.

“…emerging trends indicate the growth deceleration in India has bottomed-out,” he said at a pre-budget meeting with representative of social sector.

The Finance Minister will present the Union Budget for 2015-16 next month. The significant downward trend in inflation has also been recorded in the second and third quarters of 2014-15 and the external environment has also largely turned in India’s favour, said an official release. Against this backdrop, Jaitley said, “domestic policies to achieve macro-economic balance and the on-going process of economic reforms would lend further strength to the recovery of the economy”.

India’s GDP growth, which had fallen under 5 per cent, is expected to be between 5.4 per cent and 5.9 per cent this fiscal. Falling crude oil prices in the international market have come as a breather for the government which is faced with a daunting task of restricting fiscal deficit to 4.1 per cent of GDP in the current fiscal.

Jaitley also said that apart from on-going schemes and programmes for the marginalised and vulnerable sections of the society, the government has initiated various special social sector programmes. The government has given thrust to skills development as well as ‘Make in India’ programmes to improve employability and create more job avenues, especially for the youth, he added.


The year for SMEs

January 2, 2015 1:20 am- Financial Express
In 2014, India’s micro, small and medium enterprises got a fair share of attention from the government. In the Union budget for 2014-15, the government announced a R10,000-crore fund to act as a catalyst for the MSME sector. A sum of R200 crore was earmarked to set up a technology centre network to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and agro-industry. Although things are yet to fall in place, we can expect substantial momentum on these in the new year.
The success achieved by the recent start-ups show a promising future for the MSME sector. The government is taking various measures to increase the sector’s competitiveness in the international market.Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech gave an impetus to the sector’s aspirations. The “Make in India” campaign, inviting foreign manufacturers to pace up India’s industrial growth, opens myriad opportunities for the sector. So does the Digital India initiative. The youth of India has been given a playground to come and unleash their entrepreneurial skills.
States have joined the efforts in their own way. For instance, the government of Karnataka provides several facilities to the start-up community of the state. For providing global exposure and mentoring to the start-ups in the state, the UK Trade and Investment Board has recently come into a partnership with the Karnataka Information Technology Venture Capital Fund. The state is planning to set up two new venture funds and a network of incubators in small cities to pace up entrepreneurial activities.Similarly in Kerala, the government would invest 1% of the state’s budget in the new start-ups mushrooming in the state. The Start-up Village of Kochi was established through a public-private partnership to nurture around 1,000 start-ups over 10 years. The Maharashtra government gives many incentives for MSMEs, ranging from power tariff subsidy to tax refunds.
The Maharashtra Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, an autonomous body under the department of industries, offers entrepreneurship training programmes focused on banking, food processing, agritech and others across the state.West Bengal is one of the leading states in terms of credit flow to the MSME sector. The state government has set up myEnterprise.wb.gov.in as one common link for all applications. The Telangana government proposed a new industrial policy from December 1 which speaks about a separate empowered State-Level Bankers’ Committee exclusively for SMEs and creation of an Insurance Fund as well. Rajasthan has a huge potential of being developed as the SME hub of India. Power2SME is closely working with the SME segment in the region to provide it with a platform for easy credit and cheaper raw material.

The Swachh Bharat programme has also opened up a host of opportunities for start-ups, especially for those in the health, hygiene and sanitation segments.
Apart from government initiatives, funding by local and foreign investors, introduction of advanced technologies in the market and online platforms like retail and trade portals have aided the growth of SMEs in 2014. For instance, free online financing platforms like SMEcorner.com were launched to make borrowing easy for SMEs, while the buzz around Flipkart and Snapdeal helped several SMEs to opt for online marketing.

With the forward looking policies of the central and state governments, the MSME sector has high hopes from 2015. The central government has already announced its plan to expand the scope of the ‘Make in India’ programme by including five more sectors, including gems & jewellery and SMEs in it. I strongly feel 2015 is the year for the SME sector and the coming decade will prove as a golden decade for the SME segment in India.


Modi government pushing ministries to ensure mechanism for faster clearances

By Deepshikha Sikarwar & Vinay Pandey, ET Bureau | 26 Dec, 2014, 08.22AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Modi regime is pushing ministries to put in place a vast array of changes in the next three months as it looks to improve ease of doing business in India, a measure on which the World Bank has ranked the country at an abysmal 142 out of 189, two down from 140 in the previous year. By the end of current fiscal, the regime wants to make it possible for businesses to be registered in a day, green clearances to be available online and construction outside airport zones to go ahead without government nod.Applications for setting up new businesses and director identification number (DIN) through the eBiz Portal will automatically also register for permanent account number (PAN), cutting one permission. Also coming up by March 31: trading across borders will need fewer papers, goods will be cleared in less than 12 hours and there will be fast-track courts to deal with contract-related disputes.

With the prime minister keen on improving India’s image as an investment destination, the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) has drawn up a schedule between now and March 31 to reduce the regulatory, bureaucratic and compliance burden on companies. Just a few measures, included in the bigger ‘Ease of Doing Business and Integration with eBiz Portal’ plan, have a later deadline of April 30.

The Prime Minister’s Office has shot off letters to the ministries and departments concerned, asking them to expedite implementation of tasks identified as being their responsibility. The communique from Nripendra Misra, principal secretary to the PM, has emphasised the importance of the country bettering its rank on the global index, said a government official aware of the development. Former Planning Commission member Arun Maira cautioned against over-centralisation and micromanagement of the initiative.
“It is a large programme with a lot of smaller sub-programmes. If you can energise the smaller programmes, then it can be achieved,” he said, adding much of the measures being suggested should be easy to implement. Misra’s missive was sent after a review meeting by the PMO in which many departments were found to be lagging. The government is keen the measures undertaken should reflect in an improvement when the World Bank undertakes its next review.

“A number of things have been done and a large number are being attempted,” a senior DIPP official told ET. “While we may not break into the top 50 in a year, we can definitely get there in two years… There are areas like insolvency where we need urgent action.”

The DIPP schedule clearly fixes responsibility for each measure, the progress made, what’s pending and by when the various steps need to be completed. “The focus is on business-process reengineering, converging and integrating departments and putting all approvals online,” the official said. DIPP is also meeting with states to take this forward. India does even worse when it comes to enforcing contracts — at 186, better than only Angola, Bangladesh and Timor-Leste.

It indicates a poor dispute-resolution system that has undermined faith in contracts, a crucial consideration for those looking to invest in India. To fix this, DIPP has recommended to the law ministry setting up of specialised fast-track courts, tribunals, besides ways of encouraging arbitration to resolve contractual disputes and putting up a timebound decision-making process. The district courts are overburdened as they have to deal with a broad range of civil, criminal and commercial cases, DIPP pointed.


GST Constitutional Amendment Bill approved by Cabinet


Dec 18, 2014: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Constitutional Amendment Bill on Goods & Services Tax (GST), getting closer to the rollout of an ambitious indirect tax reform expected to raise revenues and boost growth

The government aims to implement GST by April 1, 2016 and has been working rigorously to get states on board.

Sources said the government hopes to introduce the bill in the current session of Parliament. It may be introduced in the Rajya Sabha this week.. The tax reform measure has already missed several rollout dates in the past due to lack of consensus between the Centre and states on some of the issues and the government is keen to get the bill approved in the current session.

 

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