OPINION, P2 MIND & GAMES Not so long ago, shoppers were lamenting the demise of high heels. But now, they are raring to pop them on again Page 10 Take responsibility, consult,make plans FE LINES Research finds that standing dead trees in coastal wetland forests expel greenhouse gases in the air Page 7 HIGH HEELS ARE READYTO STOMP OUT CROCS AND BIRKS ACROSS THE AISLE , P CHIDAMBARAM The farting trees SPOTLIGHT Follow us on Twitter & Facebook. App available on App Store & Play Store WWW.FINANCIALEXPRESS.COM VOL XIV, NO. 126 THE MURALON THEWALL FINANCIAL EXPRESS ON SUNDAY CHENNAI/KOCHI SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 2021, 16 Pages, `10 P U B L I S H E D F R O M : A H M E D A B A D , B E N G A L U R U , WHAT'S INSIDE C H A N D I G A R H , C H E N N A I , READ TO LEAD H Y D E R A B A D , K O C H I , THE GOODS AND Service Tax Online self-publishing platforms have transformed the literary landscape by not just opening up the arena for new authors and connecting them with readers, but also aiding them in landing lucrative publishing deals ■ WORDS WORTH, P4 Ringside view An insider’s account of the wheeling & dealing in the country’s power circles ODD & EVEN ROHNIT PHORE Council on Saturday decided to slash GSTrates for Covid drugs, testingkits,medicalequipment andevenambulancestoprovide relief to people amid the pandemic, but kept the tax on vaccines unchanged at the lowest slabof5%.Thenewrateswillbe effective tillSeptember30. While some state finance ministers including West Bengal’s Amit Mitra and Punjab’s Manpreet Singh Badal pitched foratemporarywaiveroftaxfor all Covid drugs, vaccines and equipment,agroupofministers ledbyMeghalayachiefminister ConradSangmarecommended slashing of GST rates for items otherthanvaccines. The Union government has been of the view that tax concessions for vaccines are redundant,giventhattheseare AFTER CERT PROBE Govt: Co-WIN hacking, data leak claims ‘baseless’ PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, June 12 THE GOVERNMENT ON Satur- QuickPicks UK, EU show little sign of defusing post-Brexit row BRITAIN AND THE European Union showed little sign of defusing a post-Brexit trade dispute on Saturday, with both sides repeating their opposing positions even after US President Joe Biden encouraged them to find a compromise, reports Reuters. India approaches Dominica HC; seeks to be party in Choksi case INDIA HAS approached the Dominica High Court seeking to be impleaded as a party in the case filed by lawyers of absconding businessman Mehul Choksi whose bail was rejected by the High Court after a five-hour-long hearing, sources said, reports PTI. The CBI and external affairs ministry have sought to implead in the Habeas Corpus matter. PAGE 3 L U C K N O W , M U M B A I , N E W D E L H I , P U N E GST cut for Covid test kits, drugs, equipment FE BUREAU New Delhi, June 12 Turning the page K O L K A T A , TAX RELIEF ● No waiver for vaccines as vaccination in govt sector is free ■ LEISURE, P5 Street art is stimulating conversations and has become a powerful tool for change Pages 8-9 day dismissed the claims of hacking of the Co-WIN system and data leak as‘baseless’. In a statement, the health ministrysaid the matterof the alleged hacking of the Co-WIN system has been investigated by the Computer Emergency ResponseTeamoftheMinistry ofElectronicsandInformation Technology. RSSharma,chairmanofthe empowered group on vaccine administration, has clarified that “the claims of so-called hackers on the darkweb,relating to alleged hacking of the Co-WIN system and data leak are baseless. We continue to take appropriate steps as are necessary, from time to time, to ensure that the data of the people is safe with Co-WIN.” Co-WIN portal facilitates the national Covid-19 vaccination drive. FM Nirmala Sitharaman addresses media on Saturday GST rate (%) Current New 5 NIL Tocilizumab, Amphotericin B Remdesivir & other recognised Covid drugs, Heparin, medical grade O2, O2 concentrators, ventilators, Covid test/severity indicator test kits, pulse oximeter 12 5 18 5 28 12 Hand sanitisers, temperature check equipment Ambulances mostly made available free to people via government channels,while there is no guarantee that the private sector will pass on the tax reliefs to the intended beneficiaries. PTI The council, however, exempted immunosuppressant Tocilizumab and mucomycosis (black fungus) drug Amphotericin B from GST. “There was a lot of sub- stance in the recommendations made by the GOM…the Council naturally agreed to go with GOM recommendations subject of course to slight tweaking,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. Even though the GoM recommended to retain GSTrates for ambulances at 28% and that for temperature check equipment at 18%, the Councilbroughtitdownto12%and 5%, respectively. The council also reduced the GST rate to 5% from 18% for electric furnaces in the crematoriums whiletheGoM’srecommendation was to cut it to 12%. The GST’s rate fitment panel had also suggested no change in the tax on vaccines while suggesting cut in the rates for some drugs and equipment. Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal tweeted: “Attempt to pick and choose exemptions on the grounds of inverted duty structure or cheaper imports would destroy the foundation of #GST. GST on #COVID-19 preventive materials, masks, PPEs, hand sanitisers, medical grade oxygen,testing kits,ventilators, bipap machine and pulse oximeters is insensitive.” COVID DISRUPTION PC shipments under cloud as economic activity down RISHI RANJAN KALA New Delhi, June 12 EVENASTHE firstwaveofCovid infections propelled India’s personalcomputer(PC)market to achieve record sales, the deadly second wave now threatens to disrupt the dream run. Market research firm Canalysfearsthatthedomestic industrycouldfaceseveresupply constraints in the current calendaryearaswellasin2022. “Measuring true demand in India is extremely difficult,” CanalysresearchanalystAshweej Aithal pointed out, adding the second wave has been ruthless, claiming many more lives and livelihoodsthanthefirstwave. “ForPCs,the entire channel has been paralysed, and despite healthy demand from consumers and businesses alike, fulfilling orders was the primary issue once again. Channelpartnersthathavenot been able to pivot to online sales have seen a huge portion of their business slip during ■ Measuring true demand is tough as the second wave has claimed many more lives and livelihoods than the first wave ■ Despite healthy demand, fulfilling orders is the primary issue once again ■ Channel partners that have not been able to pivot to online sales have seen a huge portion of their business slip ■ The country is likely to suffer from supply issues for most of this year and next, say experts the pandemic,”he added. “In addition, OEMs prioritising fast-moving markets, such as the US and Western Europe,and diverting the bulk of their inventory to these markets, has further aggravatedthesituation.Formostof this year and next, India will suffer from supply issues,” Aithal explained. ■ OEMs prioritising fast-moving markets and diverting the bulk of their inventory to these markets, have further aggravated the situation Onthebrighterside,thesurging demand for PCs led to the entry of new vendors such as Nokia and Vaio, who have launched newnotebook models andplantousetheirstrongbrand names to tempt customers.The market also saw an exceptional rise in gaming PC.Shipments of ‘gaming-capable’machinesgrew almost65%y-o-y. Oxfam activists wearing papier mache heads depicting G7 leaders stage a climate protest at Swanpool Beach, during the G7 summit in Britain, on Saturday REUTERS WEST HITS BACK G7 rivals China with grand infra proposal REUTERS Carbis Bay, England, June 12 THE GROUP OF Seven richest democracies on Saturday soughttocounterChina'sgrowinginfluencebyofferingdevelopingnationsaninfrastructure plan that would rival President Xi Jinping’s multi-trillion-dollarBelt and Road initiative.The G7,whose leaders are meeting in southwestern England and whodiscussedstrategiccompetition with Beijing, has been searching for a coherent response to the growing assertivenessofXiafterChina’s economic and militaryrise. US President Joe Biden and otherG7leadershopetheplan, knownas the Build BackBetter World (B3W) initiative, will provide a transparent infrastructure partnership to help narrowthe $40 trillion needed by developing nations by 2035, the White House said. “This is not just about confronting or taking on China,”a senior official in Biden's administration said.“But until now we haven't offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards and ourway of doing business.” The G7 and its allies will use theinitiativetomobiliseprivate sectorcapitalinareassuchasclimate,healthandhealthsecurity, digital technology,and gender equity and equality, the White House said.It was not immediately clear how the plan would exactlywork orhowmuch capitalitwouldultimatelyallocate. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a multi-trilliondollar infrastructure scheme launched in 2013, involving development and investment initiatives. Leaders of the G7 want to use their gathering to showtheworldthat the richest democracies can offeran alternative to China's growing clout.The US official said until THE B3W PLAN To counter Xi's Belt and Road Plan will 'catalyse hundreds of billions of dollars West must offer an alternative to China: US To scold China over Xinjiang forced labour now, the West had failed to offer a positive alternative to the"lack of transparency,poor environmental and labour standards, and coercive approach" of the Chinese government that had left many countries worse off. As part of the G7 plan, the United States will work with theUSCongresstosupplement existing development financing and to"collectivelycatalyse hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment," theWhite House said.The US is also pushing other G7 leaders for "concrete action on forced labour"inChina,andtoinclude criticismofBeijingintheirfinal communiquefromathree-day summitinsouthwestEngland, the US official said. Biden planned to press the other leaders to make clear that they believe forced labour practices are an affront to human dignity and “an egregious example of China’s unfair economic competition”.“We’re pushing on being specific on areas like Xinjiang where forced labour is taking place and where we have to express our values as a G7,” the official said of the final communique to be issued at the end of the summit on Sunday. TheChineseforeignministry did not immediatelyrespond to arequestforcomment. IPL PHASE-2 Brands rethinking ad strategies Fears of third wave cast a shadow on auto sector ● Remaining 31 IPL matches to be held in Sept-Oct in UAE VENKATA SUSMITA BIWAS Mumbai, June 12 THE BOARD OF Control for Cricket in India’s decision to conduct the remaining IPL 2021 matches in a three-week period in September in the UAE has made advertisers take stock of their annual marketing plans. The remaining 31 IPLmatcheswillnowbeheldin September and October, coincidingwith Navratri festivities this year. BCCI had to put the 14th edition of the annual cricketing extravaganza on hold this IPL 2021 : A two-part tournament ■ Original schedule: April 9May 30 ■ Put on hold: May 3 Phase 2: September to October yearinviewof thevirulent second wave of the pandemic. A few international players left the league and several players tested positive. Brandsthatsignuptoadvertise on IPL typically set aside a largechunkoftheirannualmarketing budget for the cricket tournament.The two-monthlong series gives brands an opportunity to carry out sus- tainedhigh-decibelcampaigns. Thesuspensioncominginmidway through their campaigns has had its disadvantages. “Realigning our campaign strategy in the short-term has resulted in some media inefficiencies,” says Abhishek Madhavan,SVP,growthandmarketing, MPL. The mobile gaming appisa principalsponsorofIPL teamKolkataKnightRidersand wasrunninganadcampaignon StarSportsfortheapp.Ithasinitiated a new ad campaign to promotetheappasawholeand notjustthefantasygamingsection of the app.The companyis expecting high viewership for the remaining matches and plans to resume its IPL campaign in September with the same fervouras earlier. The league, even though split into two parts this year,is still expected to draw advertiser interest. ● Sales of entry-level cars and two-wheelers likely to be down in the coming months PASSENGER VEHICLE SALES Maruti registered sales of 32,903 units in May 2021, down Hyundai sold 25,001 units in May, down Tata Motors sold 15,181 units in May, down Kia sold 11,050 units, down by Mahindra sold 8,004 units, down by Honda sold 2,032 units, down by Toyota Kirloskar sold just 707 units, down by 76% 49% 39% 31% 56% 78% 93% from 1,35,879 units in April from 49,002 units in April month-onmonth VIKRAM CHAUDHARY New Delhi, June 12 LAST YEAR, AFTER the first lockdown, sales of passenger vehicles (PV) and two-wheelers rose at a brisk pace.As per wholesale data by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam),from August to October 2020, auto sales were higher compared to the same period in 2019. Analysts FE spoke with said the shift from shared mobility to personal, low interest rates, discounts and sharp rural recovery led to that sales spike.In addition,higher government spending in the infrastructure space gave a push to the commercial vehicle (CV) segment (goods carriers). However, this time around, after the second wave, most argue, there may not be a similar pent-up demand. As far as PVs are concerned, Maruti Suzuki registered sales of 32,903 units in May 2021, down from 1,35,879 units in April and 1,46,203 units in March,and Hyundai India sold 25,001 units in May, down from 49,002 units in April and 52,600 units in March. Tata Motors sold 15,181 units in May (down by 39.5% monthon-month); Kia India sold 11,050 units (down by 31.4%); Mahindra sold 8,004 units (down by 56.2%); Honda Cars India sold 2,032 units (down by 77.6%); and Toyota Kirloskar Motor sold just 707 units (down by 92.7%). While this huge sales drop can also be attributed to most carmakers announcing their annual maintenance shutdown in May, in addition to sporadic lockdowns,the coming months may not bring much cheer. CHENNAI/KOCHI
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