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India Sets GST Rates, App for July 1 Rollout

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By Dezan Shira & Associates

India’s government is keen to roll out its Goods and Services Tax (GST) from July 1 and is speedily laying the groundwork for immediate implementation.

On March 4, two bills (federal GST law and integrated GST law) were finalized by federal and state finance ministers in the GST council, the federal agency regulating the GST. Two more bills now need to be approved by the 36 state and union territory legislatures by March 16 when the council meets again.

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India’s Digital Payments Push: Incentives on BHIM

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By Pritesh Samuel

In line with the government’s digital push, two cashback schemes – associated with the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app – are expected to be released in the coming month. The BHIM app is available on both android and iOS platforms, and has recorded over 17 million downloads.

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How did the 2017 Budget Affect Startups and MSMEs in India?

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By Dezan Shira & Associates

After November 2016’s surprise demonetization, businesses in India looked to the Union Budget 2017 to gauge the government’s economic outlook.

While this year’s budget retained a development-oriented focus, key tax and regulatory provisions declare the government’s intent to encourage business, create jobs, promote entrepreneurship in a digitally empowered economy, and spur GDP growth.

In this context, startups and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) should pay attention to the following provisions and amendments stated in the latest budget:

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Smartphones and India: Foreign Manufacturers Take a Bite

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By Pritesh Samuel 

This week, the domestic media reported that Apple is set to manufacture its iPhone SE model in India. Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp will manufacture the phone.

While the proposal will need to be approved by the prime minister’s office due to special incentives requested by Apple, things seem to be moving forward quickly as Apple is eyeing India’s Silicon Valley in the southern city of Bangalore as its ultimate destination.

India is a mobile-hungry market dominated by Samsung, followed by several Chinese manufacturers, such as OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Lenovo pushing out Indian smartphone manufacturers from the top five list; Apple is 10th . The budget smartphone market between the price range of US$149 to US$223 dominates India’s smartphone business.

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India’s Digital Payments Future – New Publication from Dezan Shira & Associates

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India’s Digital Payments Future, the latest publication from Dezan Shira & Associates, is out now and available to subscribers as a complimentary download in the Asia Briefing Bookstore

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ESI (Central) Amendment Rules, 2017 Expands Maternity Health Benefits

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By Melissa Cyrill 

The government recently published the Employees’ State Insurance (Central) Amendment Rules, 2017. The amendment rules improve the existing maternity welfare benefits for women who have insurance, expanding the ESI (Central) Amendment Rules, 2016.

Previously, the ESI (Central) Amendment Rules, 2016 – notified on December 22, 2016 – expanded the coverage of the ESI Act with effect from January 1, 2017. The ESI (Central) Amendment Rules, 2016 allowed employees earning Rs 21,000 (US$313.53) or less in a month to subscribe to this scheme. Prior to that, the wage limit for ESI subscribers was at Rs 15,000 (US$223.95) per month.

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GAAR to Take Effect in India from April 2017

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By Koushan Das 

India will adopt the General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) with effect from April 1, 2017. GAAR is an anti-avoidance regulation that allows tax authorities to deny tax benefits on transactions conducted with the purpose of avoiding taxes.

While tax avoidance regulation in India is currently governed by the Specific Anti-Avoidance Rules (SAAR), it was not considered comprehensive enough by the government, leading to the formulation of GAAR. However, SAAR regulations will continue to be applicable in addition to GAAR provisions: GAAR will cover those avoidance cases which fall short of SAAR regulations.

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Medical Devices Rules, 2017 Notified by India’s Health Ministry

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By Dezan Shira & Associates

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently notified the Medical Devices Rules, 2017. Many medical device businesses have welcomed the new regulations; the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 – designed for the pharmaceutical industry – had previously regulated the fast growing industry.

Industry experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of the medical devices in India are imported, a significant share of a market that is valued at over US$10 billion. While this market has grown from a US$6.3 billion value in 2013, the industry’s dependence on imports has gotten worse: India imported 70 percent of its medical devices in 2015. 

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