1. BUSINESSES WITH “NIL” TAX LIABILITY MAY GET TO FILE GST RETURNS BI-ANNUALLY: Business entities having zero tax liability for 6 consecutive months under GST may get relief of filing “NIL” GST returns twice a year. The said proposal is being sanctioned by GST council and the same will be implemented soon. According to a recent data, nearly 40% of GST return files have “NIL” tax liability and henceforth these entities need not file monthly tax returns.


  1. GUARANTEES OFFERED BY BANKS OUTSIDE INDIA TOUCH 1.95 LAKH CRORE: The Non-Fund exposure (Guarantees, LOUs, and Foreign Exchange Contracts) of banks which fall under the category of Contingent liability has drawn ample attention after the Nirav Modi LOU Scam in PNB. As per the RBI data, out of the total contingent liabilities, Guarantees outside India by all scheduled commercial banks have grown at an annual growth rate of 21% since 2004-05. The total guarantees outside India stood at 1.95 lakh crore in 2016-17.


  1. IBC PANEL EASES INSOLVENCY RULES FOR MSMEs: The Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code (IBC) review panel has called for sweeping changes in the law aimed at easing insolvency rules for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The committee has proposed that the promoters of MSMEs who are not termed as wilful defaulters should be allowed to bid for the assets of their companies during insolvency process.


  1. WORRIED BY IDBI BANK’S POOR HEALTH, RBI WRITES TO FINANCE MINISTRY: The Reserve Bank of India has written to the Finance Ministry expressing concerns over the poor financial position of IDBI Bank and has called on the government to take remedial steps. The letter points out several shortcomings, including the recognition of non-performing assets. RBI says that it has found out during their inspection that the bank’s mechanism for identifying bad loans is also deficient. And having said that, RBI also adds that the Bank’s Non-performing assets could be higher than what has been reported so far.


  1. PNB APPROVES PAYMENT TO 7 BANKS OVER FRAUDULENT LOUs: Punjab National bank has announced that it will make payments of around Rs. 6,500 crore to 7 banks against the Letter of Undertaking (LOUs), and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs) it issued in the fraud allegedly committed by jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi and their companies. Around 350 such LOUs and FLCs are maturing on 31ST March 2018.


  1. ARUNDHATI BHATTACHARYA AMONG THE NAMES WHO COULD LEAD BBB: The government has initiated the process of selecting the next Chairman for the Banks Board Bureau (BBB). State Bank of India’s former Chairperson Mrs. Arundhati Bhattacharya, is considered to be one of the frontrunners for the post. But the government officials said they are open to get someone from the private sector also to head the advisory body. The government is not inclined to expand the role of the BBB and is of the opinion that the advisory body should continue to make holistic recommendations.


  1. IDBI BANK DISCLOSES Rs. 770 CRORE FRAUD: IDBI Bank has said that it has identified fraudulent loans of Rs.770 crore disbursed from 5 of its branches in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The loans were sanctioned and disbursed during fiscal years 2009-2013 for fish farming businesses. These loans were obtained against non-existent fish ponds and by inflating the value of collaterals. It has found major lapses in processing and disbursing the loans by two of its officials. The case has been handed over to CBI.


  1. SBI CLOSES 41.16 LAKH SAVINGS BANK ACCOUNTS: State Bank of India has closed as many as 41.16 lakh savings bank accounts from April 2017 to January 2018 for not maintaining the average monthly balance. In April’17 SBI had re-introduced penal charges on non-maintenance of average monthly balance. Later on in October’17 it had revised down the charges to some extent. SBI has 41 crore savings bank accounts of which 16 crores are under Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana, pensioners, minors and social security benefit holders which are exempted from the penalty for not maintaining minimum balance.


  1. NO DEADLINE FOR LINKING AADHAAR CARD TO SERVICES : Supreme court has extended the March 31ST  deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail various services and welfare schemes run by the government till its constitution bench delivers its verdict on the validity of the 12 digit biometric number.


  1. SAVINGS FROM DIRECT BENEFIT TRANSFER PEGGED AT Rs. 83,000 CRORE: The government has estimated that the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) has helped it to save around Rs. 82,985 crore overall. The scheme, which entails transfer of subsidies directly to the beneficiary’s account, has helped to save around Rs. 25,956 Crore in the 10 months up to January 2018 in this fiscal. The DBT scheme initially launched by UPA government in 2013 has been significantly extended by the present government, with the number of beneficiaries rising to 118.3 crore. The 45% jump in the savings is the result of pruning of fake or duplicate beneficiaries and plugging leakages which the present government has achieved by linking Aadhaar to the bank accounts.


  1. FRAUDS TO COST PNB NEARLY Rs. 14,500 CRORE THIS YEAR: The Punjab National bank (PNB) expects Rs. 14,500 crore loss this year on account of frauds (including contingent liabilities) following the scam by diamond traders. PNB has appraised that the total loss reported by it due to frauds was Rs. 341.03 crore in FY 2015-6, Rs. 2,633.39 crore in FY 2016-17 and Rs. 14,506.39 in FY 2017-18 (including contingent liability).


  1. 11,300 CRORE LYING UNCLAIMED WITH 64 BANKS: As per RBI’s latest report, an amount of Rs. 11,302 crore belonging to over 3 crore account holders is lying unclaimed with 64 Indian Banks. The largest amount – Rs. 1,262 crore is lying with SBI, Rs. 1,250 crore with PNB, while the remaining Rs. 7,040 crore with all other nationalised banks. However all this unclaimed money is just a fraction of the total deposits of over Rs. 100 lakh crore handled by these banks. Most of the unclaimed deposits would be cases of deceased account holders or people with multiple bank accounts.


  1. 25% OVERSEAS BRANCHES OF PUBLIC SECTOR BANKS REPORTED LOSSES IN FY 17: The Union government has said that 25% (one fourth of all foreign branches of PSBs) have reported losses last financial year. As per the data available out of the 159 branches of PSBs operating overseas, 41 branches have incurred losses.


  1. HOME BUYERS TO GET FINANCIAL CREDITOR TAG: A 14 member panel set up to review the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code (IBC) is likely to recommend an amendment by which all home buyers will get a status of “Creditor”. This means that the home buyer will get the status of a financial creditor like banks and accorded similar benefits, in case their builder goes through insolvency proceedings before giving rightful possession of the flats. Here Home buyers will be third in the preference of order to get the proceeds—after the clearance of the cost of resolution and workers’ dues.


  1. EFFECT OF PNB SCAM – IMF CALLS FOR REFORMS AT PSBs: With the recent Punjab National Bank LOUs fraud the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has commented on the status of Indian Banks. It said the Indian banking reforms like the insolvency code and recapitalization will be ineffective unless the governance standards are improved. IMFs Deputy Managing Director Mr. Tao Zhang has said that mere reforms are not enough and should be accompanied by governance reforms which improve the internal controls which in turn will be crucial for financial stability.


  1. PSU BANKS NEED GOVERNMENT APPROVAL FOR ISSUING AT1 BONDS: The government  has instructed Public Sector Banks to take its permission before floating Additional Tier-1 bonds (AT1 Bonds), which have turned out to be loss making for bankers and the government. AT1 bonds are perpetual bonds without fixed maturity. The decision was taken after the government had to step in for a troubled PSU bank that could not repay its AT1 bond investors because of a regulatory restriction. AT1 Bond has a clause that if a bank is loss making, it cannot pay AT1 coupon and then the bank would default on interest payments purely on regulatory reasons.


  1. PSBs PLAN TIGHTER LENDING NORMS FOR CORPORATE LOANS ABOVE Rs 250 CRORE: Public Sector Banks (PSBs) will discourage multiple banking arrangements for companies with exposure of more than 250 crore in the banking system and will move all such loans under the consortium of banks for better monitoring. Under consortium arrangement there will be more discipline and effective monitoring.


  1. IDBI BANK WITHDRAWS SANCTIONED LIMITS TO SEVERAL INDIAN COMPANIES: IDBI Bank has suddenly withdrawn and reduced the sanctioned credit limits to several of its corporate customers without stating any valid reasons. Since the bank has cut credit facilities like Cash credit, vendor financing etc., the affected companies are facing lot of problems in their working capital cycle. Corporates affected by this sudden and unexpected move have come together and approached the Finance Ministry seeking reprieve.


  1. RBI BARS BANKS FROM ISSUING LOUs: The Reserve Bank of India has discontinued issuance of Letters of Undertaking (LOUs) and Letters of Comfort (LOCs) with immediate effect. This is an attempt to prevent further fraudulent transactions. The immediate effect of this would be it will increase the import cost and the profitable business avenue of foreign Branches of Indian Banks would close down. And since the importers will now have to buy dollars from market, the rupee could come under pressure.


  1. PSBs TO LINK SWIFT WITH CORE BANKING SOULTION BY APRIL 30TH : As directed by Reserve Bank of India, all Public Sector banks (PSBs) will link their SWIFT Systems with their respective Core Banking Systems (CBS) by April 30Th as a measure to prevent  frauds like the recent one that happened in Punjab National Bank. Along with this, the State run banks also decided to speed up the process of taking out “Cyber Insurance” at the earliest.


  1. GOVERNMENT ASKS ALL BANKS TO “NAME & SHAME” WILFUL DEFAULTERS: Tightening the noose around “WILFUL DEFAULTERS”, the government has asked all banks to “name & shame” such borrowers by publishing their photographs and other details in newspapers. The number of wilful defaulters rose to 9,063 at the end of December 2017. Now Banks will formulate a policy with the approval of their Board of Directors which clearly sets out the criteria for publication of photographs of wilful defaulters.


  1. GOVERNMENT TO REVIEW BAN ON SALE OF GUARANTOR’S PERSONAL ASSETS UNDER INSOLVENCY LAW: National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had recently ruled that the personal assets of guarantors cannot be seized during moratorium on the disposal of assets that is in place, while the insolvency process is underway in case of corporate debts. Now the government will review the issue of the bar on liquidating the assets of directors who have given their personal guarantees for corporate loans.


  1. GOVERNMENT INSTRUCTS PSB EMPLOYEES TO LEARN RISK MANAGEMENT: The Department of Financial Services (DFS) at the Finance Ministry has directed Public Sector Bank executives to attend a 3 day workshop at the SBI training Academy Gurgaon, to train and learn the latest topics on technology and risk management. The Ministry believes that it is important to have a session on the systems, controls and processes that are not being followed in banks.


  1. RBI SLAPS Rs. 5 CRORE PENALTY ON AIRTEL PAYMENTS BANK FOR VIOLATION OF NORMS: The Reserve Bank of India has imposed a penalty of Rs. 5 crore on Airtel Payments Bank for violating operating guidelines and Know Your Customer (KYC) norms. The fine was imposed by RBI after scrutinising bank’s documents relating to opening of bank accounts without any specific or clear consent from the customers.


  1. PUNJAB NATIONAL BANK SEEKS PROVISIONING RELIEF FROM RBI FOR Rs. 13,000 CRORE LOSSES: Punjab National Bank has requested RBI to allow it to provide for losses in the Rs. 13,000 crore Nirav Modi- Gitanjali Gems scam over four quarters instead of at one go as it expects to recover 40% of the defaulted loan amount. Further, bearing full provisioning loss of over Rs. 13,000 crore in March 2018 quarter alone could wipe out more than 25% of PNB’s net worth of Rs. 48,000 crore.


  1. RBI ASKS BANKS FOR DETAILS OF LOUs AS FAR BACK AS 2011: The Reserve Bank of India has asked all banks to provide details of LOUs (Letter of Undertaking) issued by them as far back from 2011 onwards including outstanding as on date and whether the banks had pre-approved credit limits or kept enough cash margins before issuing the LOUs. RBI has given a deadline of one week to respond.


  1. PSBs MAY BE TOLD TO TAKE PASSPORT DETAILS FOR LOANS ABOVE Rs. 50 CRORE: The Finance Ministry may ask Public Sector Banks to seek certified passport details of the borrowers with an exposure of Rs. 50 crore and above to help prevent them fleeing the country in case of default or wrong doing. The idea is under consideration and will be taken up for discussions.


  1. E-WAY BILL MAY NOT BE COMPULSORY FOR SMALL ORDERS: Small orders that are part of a large consignment out for multiple deliveries within the state may not require an electronic- way bill (E-way bill) in the Goods &Services Tax (GST) regime. The E-way bill requirement will be limited to items priced over Rs. 50,000 within the state.


  1. NBFCs’ SHARE IN CREDIT MARKET TO TOUCH 20% BY 2020: Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) have been steadily growing their share in the credit market and will consolidate their position further in a couple of years. As per a report from CRISIL, the NBFC share in credit market will touch to 20% by the year 2020.


  1. 70,000 HOUSING SOCIETIES IN MAHARASHTRA TO FALL IN GST NET: Around 70,000 Co-operative Housing Societies (CHS) in Maharashtra will have to register under Goods & Services Tax (GST) regime as their annual collections are likely to exceed the Rs 20 lakh mark. Out of the 70,000 of such societies, around 50,000 are in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).


  1. CABINET LIKELY TO DISCUSS TIGHTER NORMS: Perturbed over the recent spate of banking frauds, the Union Cabinet is likely to consider measures to strengthen the regulatory regime for auditors to prevent such fraudulent incidents in future. Cabinet may consider setting up of National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA). Last week, Finance Minister expressed his displeasure over laxity by auditors in the backdrop of the scam at Punjab National Bank.


  1. GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN 35 OVERSEAS BRANCHES OF PSU BANKS: The government has ordered shutting down 35 overseas branches of Indian Public Sector banks (PSBs) over viability and profitability. 69 more such international branches are being considered for closure. The Government is looking to consolidate PSBs overseas operations as it is planning to close all non-viable overseas operations for cost efficiency and synergy.


  1. FINANCE MINISTRY ORDERS PUBLIC SECTOR BANKS TO SCAN NPAs OVER Rs. 50 CRORE FOR FRAUD: Stung by the recent Punjab National Bank fraud, the Finance Ministry on 27th February has directed all Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to scan their Non-Performing Asset (NPA) accounts worth more than Rs. 50 crore for possible fraud and refer any such fraud cases to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The ministry has given 15 days deadline to take “pre-emptive action” to identify the gaps and brace up for increasing operational and technical risks.


  1. PEER-2-PEEAR (P2P) LENDING PLATFORMS ARE GAINING POPULARITY IN SMALL CITIES: According to a social impact report by Faircent, the tech driven approach of P2P lending has been empowering Indian Businesses in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. In October last year RBI published guidelines to regularise P2P lending platforms as Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC). These P2P firms either operate as NBFC, intermediaries for banks/NBFCs or operate as P2P direct lenders to small businesses and these are becoming more popular in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities as they use a wide variety of non-traditional data to evaluate credit risk.


  1. BANKS TOLD TO LINK CBS WITH SWIFT SYSTEM: Considering the recent PNB fraud case where the SWIFT mode was mis-used, the Reserve Bank of India has set an April 30th deadline for all banks to link the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) with their respective Core banking Solutions (CBS). The Indian Banks Association (IBA) Chairperson Mrs. Usha Ananthsubramanian said there is urgency to fast track SWIFT-CBS linkage.


  1. LOW-COST HOUSING LOANS FACE HIGHER RISK OF DEFAULTS: Recent report on low-cost Housing loans has revealed that there are elevated risks in the low-cost housing loan segment because of the higher propensity among the borrowers to default. As against the overall 1.96 % of home loans which have become NPA, the contribution of loans under Rs. 25 lakhs was 2.33% and in case of home loans under Rs. 10 lakhs it is 4%.


  1. IDEA PAYMENTS BANK BEGINS OPERATIONS: Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank became the fourth such entity to begin its operations since issuance of licenses to 11 firms by Reserve Bank of India to form payment banks. Telecom major Airtel was the first to begin payments bank operations in November 2016 followed by Paytm. Department of Posts has started the payments bank operations on a pilot basis and has plans to start operations pan India by April 2018.


  1. NIRAV MODI FRAUD CASE MAY TRIGGER PCA ON PUNJAB NATIONAL BANK: The Rs. 11,400 crore Nirav Modi scam detected by Punjab National Bank may trigger Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) by RBI, which may lead to stoppage of lending by it for some time. The bank may consider selling some stake in some of its subsidiaries and joint ventures to raise money but since they are contractual agreements it may take some time.


  • CAs (AUDITORS) CANNOT GET AWAY JUST BY CITING RED FLAGS: Auditors may not be able to get away by citing “Red Flags” raised by them in fraud hit companies as the government is set to crack down on errant entities. Report says that Companies Act puts enough responsibility on auditors to ensure that corporate accounts are in order, while the auditors have full option not to sign the accounts if the management does not address their concern.


  1. PUBLIC SECTOR BANKS TO TRANSFER OFFICERS COMPLETING 3 YEARS: In the wake of Punjab National Bank fraud case, the Central Vigilance Commission has issued an advisory to all the public sector banks ordering them to transfer all officers who have completed 3 years term in their present respective posts as on December 31 2017. The advisory also says that all the clerical staff who have completed 5 years term as on December 31 2017 also should be transferred immediately. However, as per the Bank’s transfer policy for officers, this rule (no officer shall be retained in the same post for 3 years and in the same station {same municipal limits} for a period in excess of 5 years) is already prevailing in banks but not strictly followed in all cases.


  1. DEADLINE FOR FILING REVISED OR BELATED INCOME TAX RETURNS FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS IS MARCH 31st: The last date for filing revised and belated Income Tax returns (ITR) for assessment years 2016-17 and 2017-18 is March 31, 2018. And there will be interest on late filing. The dead line for filing ITR for the current year (AY 2018-19) is July 31, 2018.


  1. KYC MANDATE WILL SHAVE OFF A BIG CHUNK OF MOBILE WALLET USERS BY MARCH 2018: As per the directions issued by RBI under the master direction on issuance and operation of Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI), all the wallet users must submit their KYC (Know Your Customer) documents. Since less than half of wallet users have opted for KYC process, the mobile wallet issuers (service providers) may lose over half of their customer base once the February 28, 2018 deadline for completing KYC norms for all wallet users expires.


  1. PNB APPOINTS PwC TO PROBE Rs. 11,400 CRORE FRAUD: Punjab National Bank has appointed Price waterhouse Coopers (PwC), one of the big 4 accounting firms to conduct an investigation into the alleged Rs. 11,400 crore fraud case involving jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi and their companies. PwC has been asked by PNB to identify how the mechanism was misused and track down the money and its end use so that it can be used as evidence in the court of law.