By TJEF Editor Kriti Kanchan Sinha
Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley presented the much-awaited Union Budget on 1st February, 2018. The budget was focused on rural India with agriculture, insurance, housing and MSMEs being the biggest gainers. There were no big announcements regarding the banking sector apart from a reiteration of the bank recapitalization plan. Some of the key aspects of the Union Budget that will impact the banking, insurance and financial services industry are listed as below:
- Long-Term Capital Gains Tax – Long-term capital gains exceeding 1 lakh will be taxed at the rate of 10%. However, all gains up to 31st January, 2018 will be grandfathered which means all gains made up till 31st January, 2018 will not be taxed. Distributed income by equity oriented mutual fund will also be taxed at the rate of 10%. This may introduce some investor churn in the short-term however as major capital gains are accrued to corporates and LLPs, a long-term impact on equity markets is unlikely.
- Bank recapitalization – This recapitalization will help the public-sector banks in lending additional credit of 5 lakh crore.
- Uncollateralized Deposit Facility – The RBI Act will be amended to institutionalize Uncollateralized Deposit Facility which will act as an instrument to manage excess liquidity without offering any securities as collateral. The funds parked with the RBI through this facility by the banks could earn interest.
- Better Financing for MSMEs – Online loan sanctioning facility for MSMEs will help in prompt and larger financing of MSMEs and also considerably ease cash flow challenges faced by them. Tax rate reduced to 25% for companies who have reported turnover up to 250 crore in the financial year 2016-17. This will benefit the entire class of micro, small and medium enterprises which accounts for almost 99% of companies filing their tax returns.
- Rural Regional Banks – Strong Regional Rural Banks will be allowed to raise capital from the market to enable them to increase their credit to the rural economy.
- Tax Exemptions – The government has put forward a proposal to exempt transfer of derivatives and certain securities by non-residents from capital gains tax in order to promote trade in stock exchanges in IFSC. Further, non-corporate taxpayers operating in IFSC shall be charged Alternate Minimum Tax (AMT) at concessional rate of 9% at par with Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) applicable for corporates.
- Agriculture Credit – A 10% increase in the volume of institutional credit for the agriculture sector to 11 lakh crore for the year 2018-19 along with 1.5 times hike in Minimum Support Price of all crops will improve rural income and improve the banks’ credit offtake and asset quality for this segment.
- Affordable Housing – The government will establish a dedicated Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) in National Housing Bank, funded from priority sector lending shortfall and fully serviced bonds authorized by the Government of India. Affordable housing will have a positive retail loan growth of banks and NBFCs.
- National Health Protection Scheme – The National Health Protection Scheme will provide free medical care of up to Rs five lakh each to 10 crore poor families – about 50 crore beneficiaries (assuming five members per family). This will improve penetration of the Insurance industry in the rural markets.
- Financing of NBFCs – Refinancing policy and eligibility criteria set by MUDRA will be reviewed for better refinancing of NBFCs. Public sector banks will be onboard the Trade Electronic Receivable Discounting System (TReDS) platform and linked with GSTN.
- Bond Market – Reserve Bank of India has issued guidelines to nudge Corporates access bond market. SEBI will also consider mandating, beginning with large Corporates, to meet about one-fourth of their financing needs from the bond market.
- Cryptocurrencies & Blockchain – It has been clearly mentioned that Government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate the use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system. However, it is open to exploring block chain technology for ushering in a digital economy.
- No announcement of any change in foreign holding limit in private sector banks from the present 74%.