Budget 2017: Giving SMEs a stronger footing

SMEs play a crucial role in the economic development of India. They contribute to 45% of the industrial output, 40% of the exports and 42% of the employment in the country. Although these enterprises are highly significant to the economy, they are regularly challenged by policies, laws and processes In recognition of this, the Union Budget 2017 gave start-ups and SMEs a lot to cheer about.

Increasing Financial Viability with a Lower Tax Burden

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a reduction in corporate tax from 30% to 25% for SMEs with an annual turnover of less than ₹50 crores. Moreover, the presumptive tax rate for SMEs with an annual turnover of up to ₹2 crores has been lowered from 8% to 6%. Both these measures would increase the bottom-line of SMEs. These enterprises work on low profits, and their survival is often threatened by even minor fluctuations in the business. The enhanced financial viability would increase the survival rate of SMEs.

At the same time, Budget 2017 has tried to align with the broader objective of increased digitalization. The proposed reduction in presumptive tax is applicable only for a firm’s gross receipts that are received via digital transactions. Also, no cash transaction above ₹3 lakhs would be permitted going forward. Both these measures have been designed to increase transparency and widen the tax base through digitalization.

Much Needed Breaks

Start-ups need maximum support during their initial years. From the next fiscal year, start-ups would have to pay taxes for only three out of seven years, up from last year’s exemption limit of five years, if they recorded profits. This is a great opportunity for start-ups and the economy. While a huge percentage of start-ups fail, these enterprises are responsible for introducing the most innovative products and services. The tax break announced by the Finance Minister would give start-ups a better fighting chance of survival and encourage more innovative ideas to be executed well.

Loans, Financing & Funding

The Finance Minister doubled the lending target to ₹2.44 lakh crores for the next fiscal year, making more credit available to small businesses to finance their working capital needs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already announced, on December 31, an increase in government credit guarantees for SMEs from ₹1 crore to ₹2 crores.

The FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) is to be abolished in the upcoming fiscal year. This would significantly liberalize policy related to FDI (Foreign Direct Investment). This is expected to boost retail and ecommerce in the country. Mr. Jaitley mentioned that further FDI relaxations were under consideration.

Most traditional banks are unwilling to give loans to SMEs due to the fear of defaults. Tax concession on provisions for non-performing assets (NPAs) and capital infusion of ₹10,000 crores for state-owned lenders would make loans more accessible to SMEs.

To encourage more investments into start-ups, the condition of continuous holding of 51% voting rights has been relaxed for carrying forward of losses by start-ups, provided the founder remains invested in the business.

Building on Digital India

While saying the almost 125 lakh people had adopted the BHIM digital payment app, the Finance Minister announced two new schemes – cashback for merchants and referral bonus for individuals.

Aadhaar Pay, the merchant version of the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS), is to be launched shortly. This app would enable consumers to make payments without using cards, e-wallets or even mobile phones, since the merchant’s device would be linked to an Aadhaar biometric reader. More than a billion people in India already have Aadhaar cards, and this system would make most financial transactions simple, fast and traceable. It would be a boon for raising loans, enabling fintech lenders to link repayment to payments received by the SME.

The government would be targeting ₹2500 crore digital transactions in FY18 through BHIM, Aadhaar Pay, IMPS and debit cards. The Finance Minister indicated that banks would have to introduce 10 lakh new point-of-sale (PoS) terminals by March and 20 lakh Aadhaar-based PoS terminals by September, allowing more digital transactions, which would enhance financial inclusion and transparency.

Infrastructure

For the upcoming fiscal year, the Finance Minister announced a step-up in the total allocation for infrastructure development to an all-time high of ₹3.96 lakh crores, including increased allocations for railways, road and shipping. Infrastructural development eases a huge bottleneck faced by SMEs in transporting their goods to other regions in a timely and cost-effective manner. Better infrastructure would give confidence to SMEs to expand their markets farther and reduce wastage and spoilage during transportation.

Moreover, the roll out of GST (Goods and Services Tax), which the Finance Minister indicated was tracking as planned, would further increase the ease of doing business in other states.

An allocation of ₹10,000 crores towards the Bharat Net project was announced. This would increase access to high-speed broadband across India, facilitating communication and allowing SMEs to reach out to clients located in various corners of the country in a cost-efficient way. The geographic scale achieved will help SMEs to break physical boundaries and leverage bigger opportunities for growth.

The latest Union Budget comes as a respite for start-ups and SMEs. The strengthening of these businesses would play a critical role in India’s transition to becoming an economic superpower.

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What You Need to Know about the GST Impact on Pharma and Healthcare Industry?

The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is a significant sector for the Indian economy. In terms of the volume of generic medicines produced, India is the third largest producer in the world and its rank in terms of the industry’s value stands at fourteen. The healthcare segment is expected to reach a valuation of $150 billion by the end of 2017. Like every other industry of the economy, the impact of GST is bound to be felt on the pharma industry as well.

To begin with, as different indirect taxes will be subsumed in a single tax, it will simplify the taxation system. Going further, the GST will affect the pricing, working capital, contracts with vendors, the ERP systems and internal processes in the sector.

To understand the GST impact on pharma companies, we need to be aware of the entire range of the pharmaceutical supply chain. At one end are pharma product manufacturers, contract and API manufacturers and the organisations that market the products in different parts of India. At the other end is a chain of Carrying and Forwarding Agents (C&F), distributors/wholesalers and retailers.

Two key parameters have changed in the pharma industry on account of GST. One is the manufacturing price, because many raw materials for medicines have been shifted from the 5% VAT bracket to the 12% GST bracket. Secondly, many medicinal salts and compounds have been wholly moved from 5% VAT to 12% GST rate on pharma industry. Furthermore, a number of health supplements that were earlier in the 12.5% to 15% tax bracket are now in the 18% to 28% GST bracket. The net effect of all these changes will be a significant hike in the price of medicines.

For a deeper view of the GST impact on pharma industry, we also need to consider the margins at which the complete supply chain works. In this sector, the clearing and forwarding agent has a 4% to 6% margin on the maximum retail price (MRP) of medicines, the distributor works at 7% to 8% margin on the same and the retailer has a margin of 20% on a medicine’s MRP. With the imposition of GST, the pharma companies will need to pay extra for the manufacturing cost, because the cost of raw materials has increased. Eventually, the product’s MRP will be revised to absorb the total effect.

Meanwhile, the government has also taken some steps to control and cap the price of some critical medicines, salts & compounds. This will result in a loss of 2% to 3% for the pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing companies, who now have to bear higher costs.

From the viewpoint of wholesalers and retailers, the earning margins may not drop immediately, and supplies will be stabilised soon. The bigger concern will be the inventory held by them, on which the new GST rates will apply, although these goods were bought at the older VAT rates. In this case, the distributors and retailers will lose about 3% to 4% on their entire inventory.

Will the GST impact on healthcare industry also influence medical tourism?

By October 2015, the medical tourism sector of India was estimated to have a value of US $3 billion. It was projected to grow to $7-$8 billion by 2020. A number of studies have shown that the cost of healthcare services in India combined with the travelling and accommodation costs is around 30% to 40% lesser than similar medical procedures in first world countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and most Western European countries. The boom in India’s medical tourism has helped to generate more returns for the healthcare industry.

The overall impact of GST on healthcare and medical tourism industry will be a mix of positives and negatives. The diagnostic services have not been burdened by the tax. There is also no tax on medical devices like hearing aids. However, a 5% GST rate has been applied on vaccines, cardiac stents, diagnostic test kits and dialysis equipment. The rate of GST for X-ray tubes, radiotherapy apparatus and surgical instruments will be 12% and for high-end medical equipment, an 18% tax rate will be applied. While patients located in India may end up paying a higher cost for some products and services, the medical tourism industry is expected to grow, as the comparative costs in a few other countries still give an advantage to India.

Yoga, meditation centres and organic living practices in India also attract tourists from other parts of the world. The country is a home to a myriad of alternative practices like Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Siddha and Acupuncture, which are popular among medical tourists. These give an edge to India over Asian countries like UAE, Oman, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. However, the GST rate on Ayurvedic products has been raised to 12%. It attracted a levy of only about 5% in the pre-GST regime. This may impact the price of natural medicine products if the manufacturers decide to pass on the burden to customers. Visits to yoga classes will also be expensive, as it is yet another segment that has become taxable under GST.

Overall, the GST impact on healthcare and pharma industry is not fully established. The obvious benefit will be by way of reduced complexities and the consolidation of multiple taxes into a single rate. The negative impacts will be felt in the form of increased prices for customers and reduced margins for businesses in the supply chain. The GST Council is still deliberating over some reforms to alleviate the burden on the people affected.

Capital Float has been taking note of the changing conditions post the implementation of Goods and Services Tax on 01 July 2017. With the aim of promoting entrepreneurship in India, we maintain our convenient lending services to businesses in all the industries including the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector. We support the Make in India initiative and only happy to answer any query that you may have on the finance product that suits your business, loan interest rates and terms.

Oct 24, 2018

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WHAT DATES ARE CHANGED FOR ITR FILING THIS YEAR?

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unforeseen shock for the Indian economy. The country is expected to experience a lengthy economic recession with extended lockdowns in several states. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak,  the global economic crisis, and subsequent instability in production and supply chains is also likely to be perpetuated.

How are the people of India affected?

Coronavirus has disrupted the lives of millions of Indians. Incomes have reduced and several people are experiencing a financial crunch, and as a result, it has become challenging for households as well. Many people have lost their jobs; many others are struggling to run their businesses.

Has the Government extended dates for filing ITR?

In the context of COVID-19 and to provide the people with immediate relief, the Government, in a press conference on May 13, 2020, has announced that the Income Tax Return (ITR) filing deadline has been extended to November 30, 2020 for the financial year 2019-20. Earlier, it was decided that the deadline would be 31st July 2020. But, looking at the condition of the economy, the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman decided to extend the date of the deadline for filing of ITR even further to November 30.

The Government has not only extended the date for ITR filing but has also extended the tax audit from September 30, 2020 to October 31, 2020. The TDS and TCS rates were reduced by 25% to provide more funds to the taxpayers for the period between 14 May to 31 March. Furthermore, in April 2020, they announced that the pending income tax refunds up to INR five lakhs would be released to the taxpayers to benefit them in these times of crisis.

The Government has authorized certain financial measures to increase the liquidity of tax paying individuals in India. Prudent decision-making and personal financial management will be key to ensuring that funds are available to run households for the foreseeable future and in case of contingencies.

Oct 24, 2018

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Impact of GST on Working Capital for Businesses

The Goods and Services Tax or GST is ready for a rollout on July 1, 2017. Various rules, procedures and action items have already been outlined for the transition to the new, unified system of indirect taxation. Businesses and taxpayers alike are expected to embrace these changes and get ready for the new normal—the era of standardized taxation. GST is expected to impact businesses significantly, especially those with cross-location presence, with operations across states. Both large and established goods and service providers, as well as SMEs, will be significantly impacted, both in terms of financial and operational sustainability.

What is GST?

GST will enable standardization of the indirect taxation under four slabs—5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. The change in tax rules will have a direct impact on cash flows and working capital loans for businesses. From the line of credit to taxation levels and timelines, businesses will have to reassess and realign themselves. On the one hand, local and Central taxes such as VAT, Service Tax, Excise Tax and others will be subsumed; on the other hand, tax slabs may increase; for example, from 15% under Service Charge to 18% under the third GST slab. As a result, immediate available working capital finance levels will change.

GST and working capital

Working capital is a key factor in the health of a business. Businesses should focus on periodically assessing their working capital needs. The impending GST rollout makes this even more imperative. This is because the tax bucket your business falls under will change depending on various factors such as the nature of business, locational spread and more. Not just this, the rules and timelines for availing a line of credit will also be revamped under the new GST regime. This means that cash flow will be impacted, and you may need to look for new sources of working capital finance. After all, sustaining day-to-day business operations is essential to growing your business, especially if you are an SME with low financial reserves. Working capital is, in a way, a reflection of the financial health of your company.

Here are some of the key changes GST is expected to usher in:

  1. Input tax credits will open up: According to the current tax system, input tax credit is available only on inputs that are related to taxable output. For expenses that are not related to taxable sales, input credit cannot be availed. However, under GST, a feature called the “Furtherance of Business” has been introduced. Under this, credit is allowed for any kind of business input, irrespective of whether it is directly used for “taxable sales”. This is a positive development and increases the scope for business to avail an additional line of credit. As a result, the immediate cash requirements will reduce, and working capital flow will get better. Businesses must closely study the GST clauses to understand how to benefit from input credit across newly added areas.
  2. Timeline of tax payment: Under the new GST rules, the tax is levied when the stock is transferred. As a result, businesses will not be able to claim tax credits till the time of sale, which may result in a huge time lag. Working capital levels might experience a drop during this time. Evaluating working capital finance specialists such as Capital Float is recommended, to ensure that business operations remain unaffected.
  3. Moving goods will be easier: Under the current tax regime, a lot of time and effort is spent by companies who have multiple presence across states (warehouses, offices, factories etc.)—they need to adhere to multiple laws such as octroi, CST and so on while moving goods across state borders. This complexity adds to the cost of doing business across states. With GST, this movement of goods across the country will be simplified and more cost-friendly.
  4. Imports will be costlier: If your company is in the business of procuring raw materials from outside, you may experience escalated costs soon. The current import duty rate of 14% will be replaced by a standard GST rate of 18%, making imports expensive.
  5. Reprimands for suppliers’ non-compliance: The input tax credit levels will depend on whether your suppliers comply with taxation and financial norms. This will make it imperative for your suppliers to declare their outward supplies along with their tax payment.  You will also be held accountable if your supplier fails to furnish valid returns. This is an unfavourable practice for your business since in the event of their non-compliance, your input credit tax claims can be reversed and you may have to pay interest. It is, therefore, important that you assess your vendor base from a compliance perspective to avoid impacting your working capital

These are some of the direct ways GST will impact the working capital of your business. Should you need to augment your working capital to ensure a healthy cash flow under GST, you can turn to new age fintech lenders like Capital Float who are creating innovative and customised financial products. Our term finance offering, for example, is tailored to ease your working capital crunch with features such as zero collateral requirements, 3-day loan disbursal and customized credit criteria. Click here for more GST Blogs.

Oct 24, 2018