New Delhi: The government collected Rs 1,492 crore worth equalisation levy between April 1, 2020 and January 30, 2021, Parliament was informed on Friday. In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, minister of state for commerce and industry Hardeep Singh Puri said the equalisation levy collection stood at Rs 338.6 crore in 2016-17, Rs 589.4 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 938.9 crore in 2018-19. The collection was Rs 1,136.5 crore in 2019-20 and Rs 1,492.7 crore in 2020-21 (up to January 30).
He also said the US has put out investigation reports on Digital Services Tax (DST) against three countries — India, Italy and Turkey — on January 6. The findings are that the DST in these countries discriminates against US companies and burdens or restricts US commerce.
FTA WITH US
India is currently not negotiating any free trade agreement with the US, but was engaged with the US to arrive at a ‘shared understanding’ on some of the market access issues faced by exporters on both sides, Rajya Sabha was informed.
In this regard, there were two engagements held between India’s commerce and industry minister and his counterpart, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), on September 23, 2019 and November 13, 2019, apart from multiple tele-conversations held in 2019 and 2020, minister of state for commerce and industry Puri said.
“No, sir,” Puri said in a written reply to a question on whether it is a fact that the US was pushing for a deal before the presidential elections in the US.
The government told Parliament that the enforcement directorate or RBI have not initiated any investigation on the allegation of violation of FDI policy and FEMA in the deal between Flipkart and Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail.
“No such investigation has been initiated by RBI or Enforcement Directorate on the matter,” Som Parkash, minister of state for commerce and industry told Rajya Sabha.
He said the government is in receipt of the representations submitted by Confederation of All India Traders against ecommerce companies. Under the Foreign Exchange Management Act , 1999, the investigative powers are vested with ED, and therein representations were duly forwarded to ED, which has taken up the matter for investigation.
“Further, complaints received from CAIT, alleging biased practice adopted by banks in providing cash backs and discounts for purchases made through ecommerce websites, such as Amazon and Flipkart, is being examined by Competition Commission of India, as well,” he said.
NEW TEXTILE POLICY
The government informed Parliament that a new textile policy is in the draft stage.
“The new textile policy is being formulated by holding widespread consultations with various associations, industry bodies, state governments and other stakeholders representing subsectors viz. cotton, silk, jute wool, handloom, handicrafts, powerloom, etc.,” textiles minister Smriti Zubin Irani said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.
She said the formulation of Focus Product Incentive Scheme (FPIS) under the ambit of Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme is in process.
A proposal is under consideration to close down two PSUs, namely The British India Corporation and the Handicrafts and Handloom Exports Corporation of India, the textiles ministry informed Parliament.
“Yes Sir. British India Corporation Ltd. (BICL) has been incurring losses since its nationalisation in the year 1981. Owing to continuance losses, BIC was referred to Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) in 1991 and was declared sick in 1992. The government-approved revival schemes in November 2001, 2005 and 2011 also failed,” Irani said.