COVID 19 Lockdown| Statutory & Regulatory Relief to businesses

Relief to Business under Corona Stress

Entire world is fighting against epidemic COVID 19 outbreak and Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Sh. Narendra Damodardas Modi has taken much need precautionary step of complete lockdown from midnight 12’o clock of 24th March, 2020 onwards for next 21 days and again extended to 3rd May, 2020 for another 19 days.

In between various regular and financial year ended statutory and regulatory compliances are approaching and considering the situation, Hon’ble Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman held a press conference through video conferencing and announced various important reliefs measures taken by Government of India in the area of Income Tax, GST, Customs & Central Excise, Corporate Affairs, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, Fisheries, Banking Sector & Commerce.

In order to give relief to businesses and affected individuals amidst the stress caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry has introduced several relaxations and extensions in deadlines etc. with regard to compliances mandated under its schemes and activities. 

Gist of major reliefs granted is as follows:

1. Relief under Income Tax

1.1 Last date of filing of belated Income Tax return u/s 139(4) of Income Tax Act, 1961 is 31st March of the relevant assessment year. Accordingly, last date of filing of ITR for F.Y. 2018-19 is 31st March, 2020. However, such date has been extended to 30th June, 2020.

1.2 Income Tax department has made it mandatory that all Individual PAN Holders are required to link their Aadhar Card with PAN on Income Tax portal. Earlier, Last date of such linking was 31st March, 2020 which has been extended to 30th June, 2020.

1.3 As per Vivad se Vishwas  scheme, if any person opt make payment under this scheme on or before 31st March, 2020 then he is liable to pay 100% of disputed tax amount. However, an additional 10% taxes are required if payment is made after 31st March, 2020 but upto 30th June, 2020. Additional payment 0f 10% has been withdrawn for payment made after 31st March, 2020.

1.4 Due dates which falls or time limit which expires between 20th March 2020  to 29th June 2020 shall be extended to 30th June 2020 whether it is with respect to issue  of notice, intimation, notification, approval order, sanction order, filing of appeal, furnishing of return, statements, applications, reports, any other documents and time limit for completion of proceedings by the authority and any compliance by the taxpayer including investment in saving instruments or investments for roll over benefit of capital gains   under Income Tax Act,  Wealth Tax Act, Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction Act, Black Money Act,  STT law, CTT Law, Equalization Levy law, Vivad Se Vishwas  law.

1.5 Means the date for making various investment/payment for claiming deduction under Chapter-VIA-B of IT Act which includes Section 80C (LIC, PPF, NSC etc.), 80D (Mediclaim), 80G (Donations), etc. has been extended to 30th June, 2020. Hence the investment/payment can be made up to 30th June, 2020 for claiming the deduction under these sections for FY 2019-20.

1.6 Also, the date for making investment/construction/purchase for claiming roll over benefit/deduction in respect of capital gains under sections 54 to 54GB of the IT Act has also been extended to 30th June 2020. Therefore, the investment/ construction/ purchase made up to 30th June 2020 shall be eligible for claiming deduction from capital gains arising during FY 2019-20.

1.7 If delay payment is made with respect to advanced tax, self-assessment tax,  regular tax, TDS, TCS, equalization levy,  STT, CTT , which are due between made between 20th March 2020  and  30th June 2020,  then interest shall be applicable at reduced rate  of 9%   instead of earlier rates if 12 %/18 % per annum ( i.e. 0.75% per month instead of 1/1.5 percent per month). Further, No late fee/penalty shall be charged for delay pertaining to such period.

1.8 CBDT has issued an order which contain if a person had submitted valid Form 15G and 15H to the banks or other institutions for FY 2019-20, then these Form 15G and 15H will be valid up to 30th June 2020 for FY 2020-21 also.

1.9 Income tax department to release all pending income tax refunds up to Rs. 5 lakhs immediately to around 14 lakhs taxpayers.

2. Clarification issued relating to the issue of certificates for lower deduction/collection of TDS/TCS

  • Due to outbreak of the pandemic Covid 19 virus, there is severe disruption in the normal working of almost all sectors. including functioning of the Income -tax Department.
  • Considering the constraints of the Field Officers in disposing of the applications for lower or nil rate of TDS/TCS and to mitigate hardships of payees and buyers/licensees/lessees, 
  • the CBDT issues following directions/clarifications by exercise of its powers u/s 119 of the Act:
Case 1Where assessees who have filed application for lower or nil deduction of TDS/TCS on the Traces Portal for F.Y.2020-21 and whose applications are pending for disposal as on date and they have been issued such certificates for FY 2019-20.Such certificates would be applicable till 30.06.2020 of F.Y. 2020-21 or disposal of their applications by the Assessing Officers, whichever is earlier, in respect of the transaction and the deductor or collector if any, for whom the certificate was issued for F.Y. 2019-20.
Case 2Where the assessees could not apply for issue of lower or nil deduction of TDS/TCS in the Traces Portal for the FY 2020-21 but were having the certificates for F.Y. 2019-20,Such certificate will be applicable till 30.06.2021 of F.Y. 2020-21.  

They need to apply at the earliest as soon as normalcy is restored or 30.06.2020, whichever is earlier.

A modified procedure for application and consequent handling by the TDS/TCS Assessing Officer is laid down which is enclosed as Annexure.
Case 3On payments to Non-residents (including foreign companies) having Permanent Establishment in India and not covered by (1) and (2) above,Tax on payments made will be deducted at the rate of 10% including surcharge and cess, on such payments till 30.06.2020 of F.Y. 2020-21, or disposal of their applications, whichever is earlier.

Source: CBDT issues orders u/s 119 of IT Act,1961 to mitigate hardships to taxpayers arising out of compliance of TDS/TCS provisions

3. Relief Goods and Service Tax (“GST”)/Indirect Taxes

3.1 Extension in due dates for following GST returns due to Covid 19 lockdown

ReturnTax PeriodDue DateExtended Due dateReference
GSTR 9 and GSTR 9CFY 2018-1931st December 201930th June 2020Notification no. 16/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 15-03-2020
CMP-08Jan – March 202018th April 202030th June 202034/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 03-04-2020
GSTR-04FY ending March 2020 15th July 202034/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 03-04-2020
GSTR-7March to May 202010th of Next month30th June 202035/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 03-04-2020
GSTR-8March to May 202010th of Next month30th June 202035/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 03-04-2020
GSTR-6March to May 202013th of Next month30th June 202035/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 03-04-2020
GSTR-5February to May 202020th of Next month30th June 202035/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 03-04-2020
GSTR-5AFebruary to May 202020th of Next month30th June 202035/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 03-04-2020
GSTR 3BMay 202020th June 202027th June 202036/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 03-04-2020
Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh,
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka,
Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu,
Telangana, Andhra Pradesh,
the Union territories of Daman and Diu and
Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Puducherry,
Andaman and Nicobar Islands or Lakshadweep
May 202022th June 202012th July 2020 
GSTR 3B Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand,
Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh,
Bihar, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh,
Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura,
Meghalaya, Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand or
Odisha, the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir,
Ladakh, Chandigarh or Delhi
May 202024th June 202014th July 2020 

3.2. No extension in due dates for GSTR 1 and GSTR 3B returns for the period April 2020 to September 2020 except GSTR 3B for May 2020 month, however conditional waiver from Interest on late payment and waiver from penalties for late filing have been provided.

S NoAggregate TurnoverReturnReturn PeriodDue DatesNotification No
1Aggregate Turnover upto 1.5 crore in preceding financial year or current financial yearGSTR – 1April 2020 to June 202031st July, 202027/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 23-03-2020
2Aggregate Turnover upto 1.5 crore in preceding financial year or current financial yearGSTR – 1July 2020 to September 202031st  October, 202027/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 23-03-2020
3Aggregate Turnover More than 1.5 crore in preceding financial year or current financial yearGSTR – 1Monthly Return for each month April 2020 to September 202011th day of the month succeeding such month28/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 23-03-2020
4Aggregate Turnover more than 5 crore in preceding financial yearGSTR-3BMonthly Return for each month April 2020 to September 202020th of Succeeding month29/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 23-03-2020
5Aggregate Turnover upto 5 crore in preceding financial year in below states
Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh,
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka,
Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu,
Telangana, Andhra Pradesh,
the Union territories of Daman and Diu and
Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Puducherry,
Andaman and Nicobar Islands or Lakshadweep
GSTR-3BMonthly Return for each month April 2020 to September 202022th of Succeeding month29/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 23-03-2020
6Aggregate Turnover upto 5 crore in preceding financial year in below states
Himachal Pradesh, Punjab,
Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan,
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh,
Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram,
Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam, West Bengal,
Jharkhand or Odisha,
the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh,
Chandigarh or Delhi
GSTR-3BMonthly Return for each month April 2020 to September 202024th of Succeeding month29/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 23-03-2020

3.3. Conditional waiver from Interest on late payment and waiver from penalties for late filing for late filling of GSTR 3B and GSTR 1 for the tax period February to April 2020-

Sl. No.Class of registered personsTax periodConditionRate of interestPenalties
1.Taxpayers having an aggregate turnover of more than rupees 5 crores in the preceding financial yearFebruary, 2020, March 2020, April, 2020FORM GSTR-3B is filed by 24th  June, 2020Nil for first 15 days from the due date, and 9 per cent thereafterNIL
2Taxpayers having an aggregate turnover of more than rupees 1.5 crores and up to rupees 5 crores in the preceding financial yearFebruary, 2020, March, 2020FORM GSTR-3B is filed by 29th June, 2020NilNIL
 April, 2020FORM GSTR-3B is filed by 30th June, 2020NILNIL
3.Taxpayers having an aggregate turnover of up to rupees 1.5 crores in the preceding financial yearFebruary, 2020FORM GSTR-3B is filed by 30th June, 2020NILNIL
 March, 2020FORM GSTR-3B is filed by 3rd July, 2020NILNIL
 April, 2020FORM GSTR-3B is filed by 6th July, 2020.NILNIL
4All Registered PersonMarch 2020 April 2020 May 2020 Quarter Ending March 2020FORM GSTR-1 is filed by 30th  June 2020NANIL

Source Notification No. 31/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 03-04-2020 , 32/2020-Central Tax, dt. 03-04-2020, 33/2020-Central Tax ,dt. 03-04-2020.

3.4. Due date falling or time limit expiring between 20th March 2020 to 29th June 2020 under GST Law has been extended till 30th June 2020. Such due date or time limit may be with respect to issue of notice, notification, approval order, sanction order, filing of appeal, furnishing of return, statements, applications, reports, any other documents under the GST laws.

3.5. Payment date under Sabka Vishwas Scheme shall be extended to 30th June 2020. No interest for this period shall be charged if paid by 30th June 2020.

3.6. E-way Bill- E-way Bills generated whose period of validity expires during the period 20th day of March, 2020 to 15th day of April, 2020, the validity period of such e-way bill shall be deemed to have been extended till the 30th day of April, 2020.

The validity of eway bill further extended to 31 May 2020 via (N/No. 40/2020–Central Tax dated 5th May, 2020)

3.7. Rule 36(4) restrict availement of ITC in form GSTR-3B upto 110% of ITC appearing in GSTR-2A of corresponding month. Such condition has been relaxed for the month of February, March, April, May, June, July and August, 2020 through insertion of proviso in CGST Rules, 2017 vide Notification no. 30/2020- Central Tax, dated 03.04.2020.

However, such condition shall apply cumulatively for the month of September, 2020. Accordingly, GSTR-3B for the month of September, 2020 shall be furnished considering ITC of February to August, 2020.

3.8. Clarification on refund of GST on advance received for a Service contract

  • Supplier has received advance for which he issued invoice before supply of service.
  • On cancellation of contract, supplier will be required to issue a credit note as per section 34 of CGST Act, 2017.
  • Details of such credit note shall be disclosed in return of the month in which credit note is issued.
  • Reduction of tax liability can be claimed in same return. However, if there is no output tax liability is available for such month against which such liability can be adjusted, then registered person may file a claim of refund in form GST RFD-01 under “Excess payment of Tax, if any”

3.9. Clarification on refund of GST on advance received for a Goods Supplied and tax invoice issued

  • Supplier is required to issue “Credit Note” under section 34 of CGST Act, 2020 in the month of return.
  • Details of such credit note shall be disclosed in return of the month in which credit note is issued.
  • Reduction of tax liability can be claimed in same return. However, if there is no output tax liability is available for such month against which such liability can be adjusted, then registered person may file a claim of refund in form GST RFD-01 under “Excess payment of Tax, if any”

3.10. DVAT return for Quarter 4 2019-20 can be filled by 30th June 2020

By order F. 7(420)/VAT-policy/2011/PF/783-88 dated 17-04-2020, due date of filing 4th quarter Dvat return in the form of DVAT 16, DVAT 17, and DVAT 48 has been extended upto 30/06/2020

3.11 Relaxation for taking LUT for FY 2020-21 under Covid 19

  1. Due date of furnishing LUT for F.Y. 2020-21 has been extended till 30th June, 2020 by N/No. 35/2020-Central tax.
  2. Taxpayer may continue to quote reference number of LUT of F.Y. 2019-20 in relevant documents till the time.

Source: Circular No. 450/153/2017-Cus IV dated 30th April, 2020

3.12 Extension of time limit for GST ITC 04

For GST ITC-04, return in respect of goods dispatched to job workers during a quarter, should be filed 25th of following quarter. According, due date of GST ITC-04 for the quarter on March, 2020 will fall on 25th April, 2020. However, such date shall get extended to 30th June, 2020 by virtue of notification No. 35/2020-Central Tax dated 03.04.2020.

3.13 Filing of GSTR 3B via EVC

  • Companies are allowed to verify their GSTR-3B, filed during the period of 21.04.2020 to 30.06.2020, through Electric Verification Code (EVC) instead of Digital Signature. Earlier, companies are mandatorily required to verify their return through digital signature. Notification No. 38/2020–Central Tax dated 5th May, 2020
  • Nil GSTR-3B shall be allowed to be filed through short messaging service (SMS) through registered mobile number. Return shall be verified through OTP received on registered mobile number. This facility shall implement from the date to be notified. Notification No. 38/2020–Central Tax dated 5th May, 2020

3.14 Extended time limit for GSTR 9 till 30th September 2020

4. Implementation of decision to expedite pending refund claims

Wide press release It has also been decided to issue all pending GST and Custom refunds which would provide benefit to around 1 lakh business entities, including MSME. Thus, the total refund granted will be approximately Rs. 18,000 crore.

In order to process GST refund faster following clarifications has been provided.

4.1 As the idea is to provide immediate relief in these difficult times all pending refund applications must be taken up for processing immediately. Even though the GST Law provides 15 days for issuing acknowledgement or deficiency memo and total 60 days for disposing off refund claims without any liability to pay interest,

4.2. Due diligence, may be done before granting the refunds on merits, considering all the relevant legal provisions and circulars.

4.3. For facilitation of taxpayers, all communication must be done using official email IDs. As the prescribed process doesn’t warrant any physical submission of documents and any such practice must be avoided.

4.4. In cases where refund have been suspended via the scrolls based on instructions from DGARM, extant procedure prescribed vide letter dated 23.01.2020 shall continue to be followed.

Source: Instruction No. 2/1/2020-GST and Press Note dated 08th April 2020 of Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance

5. Relief for Exports

5.1 Extension of realisation period of export proceeds

Presently value of the goods or software exports made by the exporters is required to be realized fully and repatriated to the country within a period of 9 months from the date of exports. In view of the disruption caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, the time period for realization and repatriation of export proceeds for exports made up to or on July 31, 2020, has been extended to 15 months from the date of export. The measure will enable the exporters to realise their receipts, especially from COVID 19 affected countries within the extended period and also provide greater flexibility to the exporters to negotiate future export contracts with buyers abroad.

Source: RBI announces further measures for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic

5.2 Measures for relaxation for submission of Bond to expedite Customs clearance of goods till 30.05.2020

Difficulty being faced by importers/ exporters and their authorised Customs Brokers, in obtaining notarised stamp papers for furnishing bonds required by Customs in certain situations during the assessment and clearance of goods.

Board has approved relaxation of the requirement to submit bonds prescribed under section 18, section 59 and section 143, and under notifications issued in terms of section 25 of the Customs Act, 1962 wide Circular no. 17/2020-Customs and further extention has been granted via Circular no. 21/2020-Customs

a. While lockdown is presently in force till 03.05.2020, the said relaxation shall be available up to 30.05.2020.

b. In the period up to 30.05.2020, Customs field formations may accept request for submission of an undertaking from the importer/exporter in lieu of a bond prescribed

c. This relaxation will apply to the following categories of the importers/exporters

  • Government/Public Sector Undertakings (Central/State/UT Govts. or Administrations and their undertakings)
  • Manufacturer/Actual User importer
  • Authorised Economic Operators 
  • Status holder 
  • All importers availing warehouse facility in terms of section 59 of the Customs Act, 1962

d. Each such relaxation, where requested, should comply with the following conditions: 

  • The content of the undertaking should, to the extent possible, be same as the content of the prescribed bond.
  • The undertaking should be duly signed by the IEC holder concerned on their business letter head and submitted by the registered email ID of the IEC holder or their authorised Customs Broker.
  • The undertaking should include a commitment from the IEC holder to submit the proper bond in prescribed format on notarised stamp paper etc. on or before 07.05.2020.  iv. The undertaking will not be treated as a substitute for security, wherever mandated. 
  • The security, where required, shall be furnished in the nature and manner as deemed fit by the proper officer. Board’s instructions issued from time to time regarding such security in specific cases should be kept in view in this regard.
  • In case of warehoused goods, any subsequent movement of goods to another warehouse under section 67 of the Customs Act, 1962, shall be allowed only to manufacturer/actual user importer or AEO or Status holders.  For requests related to change of ownership after warehousing, the facility shall be considered only in cases where the prospective buyer is either manufacturer/actual user importer or AEO or Status holder.
  • Importers /Exporters availing this facility shall ensure that the undertaking furnished in lieu of bond is duly replaced with a proper bond before the stipulated period i.e. 07.05.2020.

5.3 Clearance of goods under India’s Trade Agreements without original Certificate of Origin

The import consignments may be assessed and cleared provisionally in terms of section 18 of the Customs Act, 1962, where a preferential treatment of goods under a Free Trade Agreement has been claimed in following cases.

  1. The original hard copy of CoO has not been submitted or
  2. Only digitally signed copy or
  3. Unsigned copy of CoO is submitted,

The final assessment may be done subsequently on submission of the original COO certificate by the importer. The revenue may be secured through undertaking and appropriate security.

Source: Circular No. 18-2020 – Customs and Trade Notice no. 62/2019-2020

5.4 Clarification on LUT got expired on 31st March 2020

  • Vide Notification No. 35/2020 Central Tax dated 03.04.2020, due date of furnishing LUT for F.Y. 2020-21 has been extended till 30th June, 2020.
  • During such time, taxpayer can continue to make the supply without payment of tax under LUT provided that LUT in form GST RFD-11 for 2020-21 is furnished on or before 30.06.2020.
  • Taxpayers may quote the reference number of the LUT for the year 2019-20 in the relevant documents.

5.5 Extention for shipping bill filled in case of IGST refund for invoice mismatch cases

Considering that the entire country is facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID 19 pandemic , and that the exporters are facing genuine hard-ships due to the SB005 errors, it has now been decided to extend the facility of SB005 error correction in the Customs EDI system for Shipping Bills with date upto 31.12.2019.

Read all relevant circulars where various dates has been provided for shipping bill corrections.

5.6 Extended Time Limit for export for Merchant Exporter

  • A registered person is allowed to export goods to Merchant Exporters @ 0.1% GST. However, merchant exporter should export the goods within 90 days from date of issuance of invoice by registered person.
  • If Completion of 90 days falls between the 20.03.2020 to 29.06.2020, then requirement of exporting goods by merchant exporter within 90 days shall get extended to 30th June, 2020 by virtue of notification No. 35/2020-Central Tax dated 03.04.2020 read with Notification no. 40/2017-Central Tax (Rate) dated 23.10.2017.

Source: Circular No. 138/08/2020-GST dated 06.05.2020

6. Relief under FEMA

6.1 Change in FDI Policies

The Government of India has reviewed the extant Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) policy for curbing opportunistic takeovers/acquisitions of Indian companies due to the current COVID 19 pandemic and amended para 3.1.1 of extant FDI policy as contained in Consolidated FDI Policy, 2017. Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry has issued Press Note No. 3(2020 Series) in this regard. The present position and revised position in the matters will be as under:

Present Position 

Para 3.1.1: A non-resident entity can invest in India, subject to the FDI Policy except in those sectors/activities which are prohibited. However, a citizen of Bangladesh or an entity incorporated in Bangladesh can invest only under the Government route.

Further, a citizen of Pakistan or an entity incorporated in Pakistan can invest, only under the Government route, in sectors/activities other than defence, space, atomic energy and sectors/activities prohibited for foreign investment.

Revised Position 

Para 3.1.1:

3.1.1(a) A non-resident entity can invest in India, subject to the FDI Policy except in those sectors/activities which are prohibited. However, an entity of a country, which shares land border with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the Government route.

Further, a citizen of Pakistan or an entity incorporated in Pakistan can invest, only under the Government route, in sectors/activities other than defence, space, atomic energy and sectors/activities prohibited for foreign investment.

3.1.1(b) In the event of the transfer of ownership of any existing or future FDI in an entity in India, directly or indirectly, resulting in the beneficial ownership falling within the restriction/purview of the para 3.1.1(a), such subsequent change in beneficial ownership will also require Government approval.

The above decision will take effect from the date of FEMA notification.

Source: Government amends the extant FDI policy for curbing opportunistic takeovers/acquisitions of Indian companies due to the current COVID-19 pandemic

6.2 Foreign Exchange Management (Non debt Instruments) (Second Amendment) Rules, 2020

6.2.1 Pricing guidelines are applicable on right equity shares acquired by a non-resident from a person resident in India who has renounced his right shares.

6.2.2 Insurance intermediaries such as Insurance Brokers, Third Party Administrators etc. have been removed from list of 49% automatic approved FDI. However, 100% automatically approved FDI route has been provided to them.

6.2.3 However, those entities whose primary business is other than insurance area such as bank, is allowed by the IRDA to function as an insurance intermediary then foreign equity investment caps applicable in that company otherwise shall continue to apply to it. Provided it is subject to the condition that the revenues of such entities from the primary (non-insurance related) business must remain above 50 % of their total revenues in any financial year.

Source: Foreign Exchange Management (Nondebt Instruments) (Second Amendment) Rules, 2020 dated 27th April, 2020)

7. Relief under Customs

  • 24 X 7 Custom clearance will be open till end of 30th June, 2020.
  • Due date falling or time limit expiring between 20th March 2020  to 29th June 2020 under the Customs Act and other allied law has been extended till 30th June 2020. Such Due date or time limit may be for issue of notice, notification, approval order, sanction order, filing of appeal, furnishing applications, reports, any other documents etc. under the Customs Act and other allied Laws.

8. Relief under Financial Services

8.1 Free withdrawal of cash and relaxation in minimum balance

Considering the cash crunches that may arise in economy due to lock down and no business activity, following relaxations are given  for 3 months to ease the livelihood:

  • Debit cardholders may withdraw cash for free from any other banks’ ATM for 3 months.
  • Account holders are not required to maintain minimum balance.
  • Reduced bank charges for digital trade transactions for all trade finance consumers

8.2 Frequently Asked Questions : RBI Allowed Banks to Declare Moratorium on Term Loans

The Reserve Bank of India has allowed Banks to declare a three-month moratorium on all term loans outstanding as on March 1, 2020, as well as on working capital facilities.

Table of Extentions in Dates of Moratorium on Term Loans

S NOPurposeExtended DateReference
1Moratorium on Term LoansUp to 31st May 2020 
2Moratorium on Term LoansUpto 31st August 2020Click here

The Indian Banks Association has answered a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the technicalities of the moratorium.

Read Complete FAQ here

8.3 RBI announces second set of measures to preserve financial stability

  • RBI announces second set of measures to preserve financial stability and help put money in the hands of the needy and disadvantaged
  • States and UTs allowed to borrow more to manage COVID 19
  • Reverse Repo rate reduced from 4.0% to 3.75%
  • Relief provided to NBFCs and Real Estate Sector
  • India is projected to turn around and grow at 7.4% in 2021-22: RBI Governor

Source: RBI announces second set of measures to preserve financial stability

9. Relief under Companies Act

9.1 One of major relied which is given is wavier of additional fee of any document, returns, statements etc. filed with MCA-21 registry during the moratorium period of 1st April, 2020 to 30th September, 2020 irrespective of its due date. This wavier will not only reduce the compliance burden, including financial burden of companies/ LLPs at large, but also give a chance to long-standing non-compliant companies/ LLPs to make a ‘fresh start’. So, if you are one of non-compliant company/LLP, then this is a good chance to complete the compliance and avoid huge amount of additional fee.

9.2 As per Companies Act, 2013, every company is mandatorily required to hold meetings of the Board of the companies within interval of 120 days. Such interval shall be extended by a period of 60 days till next two quarters i.e., till 30th September;

9.3 Earlier reporting under Companies (Auditor’s Report) Order, 2020 was getting applicable from F.Y. 2019-20 onwards. However, now it shall be made applicable from the financial year 2020-2021 instead of from 2019-2020 notified earlier. This will significantly ease the burden on companies & their auditors for the year 2019-20.

9.4 As per Schedule 4 to the Companies Act, 2013, Independent Directors are required to hold at least one meeting without the attendance of Non-independent directors and members of management. For the year 2019-20, if the IDs of a company have not been able to hold even one meeting, the same shall not be viewed as a violation.

9.5 With an objective to secure repayment of deposits, Companies Act, 2013 requires  every Company which is having outstanding deposits that is will deposit atleast 20% of the amount of its deposits maturing in following financial year in a separate bank account to be called deposit repayment reserve account on or before 30th April of each year. Such requirement of depositing amount to a separate bank account for deposits maturing during the financial year 2020-21 has been extended till 30th June 2020 from 30th April, 2020.

9.6 Similarly, requirement of investing 15% of debentures maturing during a particular year in specified instruments before 30th April 2020, may be done so before 30th June 2020.

9.7 Every newly incorporated company is required to file a declaration with RoC for Commencement of Business within 6 months of incorporation. However, an additional time of 6 more months shall be allowed.

9.8 As per section 149(3) of Companies Act, 2020, at least one director of every company shall stays in India for a total period of not less than 182 days during the financial year However, Non-compliance of minimum residency in India shall not be treated as a violation.

9.9 Due to the emerging financial distress faced by most companies on account of the large-scale economic distress caused by COVID 19, it has been decided to raise the threshold of default under section 4 of the IBC 2016 to Rs 1 crore (from the existing threshold of Rs 1 lakh). This will by and large prevent triggering of insolvency proceedings against MSMEs. If the current situation continues beyond 30th of April 2020, we may consider suspending section 7, 9 and 10 of the IBC 2016 for a period of 6 months so as to stop companies at large from being forced into insolvency proceedings in such force majeure causes of default.

10. MCA’s Frequently Asked Questions on eligibility of CSR expenditure related to COVID-19 activities

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has been receiving several references/ representations from various stakeholders seeking clarifications on eligibility of CSR expenditure related to COVID-19 activities.

In this regard, several clarification has been given by a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for better understanding of the stakeholders.

10.1 Contribution made to following will be qualify as CSR Expenditure.

  • PM Care Fund under item no (viii) of Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 and clarified vide Office memorandum F. No. CSR-05/1/2020-CSR-MCA dated 28th March, 2020
  • State Disaster Management Authority as CSR expenditure under item no (xii) of Schedule VII of the 2013 and clarified vide general circular No. 10/2020 dated 23rd March, 2020
  • Spending CSR funds for COVID-19 related activities shall qualify as CSR expenditure vide general circular No. 10/2020
  • Ex-gratia payment is made to temporary / casual workers/ daily wage workers over and above the disbursement of wages, specifically for the purpose of fighting COVID 19. The same shall be admissible towards CSR expenditure as a onetime exception provided there is an explicit declaration to that effect by the Board of the company, which is duly certified by the statutory auditor

10.2 Contribution made to following will not be qualify as CSR Expenditure.

  • State Relief Fund for Covid – 19
  • Chief Minister’s Relief Fund
  • Payment of salary/ wages to employees and workers during the lockdown period.
  • Payment of wages to temporary or casual or daily wage workers during the lockdown period

Source: MCA’s Frequently Asked Questions on eligibility of CSR expenditure related to COVID-19 activities

11. Relaxation by SEBI

11.1 Extension of timeline for filings certain return with SEBI

S NoRegulation and associated filingFrequency   Due Date Extended date  Period of relaxation 
1.Regulation 7(3) relating to
compliance certificate on share
transfer facility 
Half yearlyApril 30, 2020May 31, 20201 month
2.Regulation 13(3) relating to
Statement of Investor complaints  
QuarterlyApril 21, 2020May 15, 2020  3 weeks (appx.)
3.Regulation 24A read with circular No CIR/CFD/CMD1/27/2019 dated
February 8, 2019 relating to Secretarial Compliance report 
YearlyMay 30, 2020June 30, 20201 month
4.Regulation 27(2) relating to Corporate Governance report   QuarterlyApril 15, 2020May 15, 2020  1 month
5.Regulation 31 relating to Shareholding PatternQuarterlyApril 21, 2020May 15, 20203 weeks (appx.)
6.Regulation 33 relating to
Financial Results

May 15, 2020  

May 30, 2020
June 30, 2020       

June 30, 2020
45 days               month 

11.2 Relaxation of time gap between two board / Audit Committee meetings

Regulatory provision Relaxation
Regulation 17(2): The board of directors shall meet at least four times a year, with a maximum time gap of one hundred and twenty days between any two meetings.   Regulation 18(2)(a): The audit committee shall meet at least four times in a year and not more than one hundred and twenty days shall elapse between two meetingsThe board of directors and Audit Committee of the listed entity are exempted from observing the maximum stipulated time gap between two meetings for the meetings held or proposed to be held between the period December 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.   However the board of directors / Audit Committee shall ensure that they meet atleast four times a year, as stipulated under regulations 17(2) and 18(2)(a) of the LODR

Source: Relaxation from compliance with certain provisions of the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015 due to the CoVID -19 virus pandemic

12. Measures taken by ESIC to extend relief during the Covid-19 pandemic for Employers

  • For employers, the contribution period for February which was to be paid by 15th March has been extended up to April.
  • For March month the same has been extended to May, and no penalty or interest/damage will be levied on establishments on such delay.
  • Further, one-time relaxation has also been given to those Employers who did not file ESI contribution for the contribution period April,2019 to September, 2019 within 42 days after end of the contribution period. The employers are allowed to file this contribution upto 15.05.2020.

Source: Press Release Measures taken by ESIC to extend relief during the Covid-19 pandemic for Employers No. Z-11/12/1/2020-P.R. Dated: 09.04.2020

13. Relaxation Guideline for Small Savings Schemes

  • Contribution to Public Provident Fund (PPF) and Sukanya Samriddhi Account (SSA) can be made till 30th June 2020 for financial year ending March 2019-20
  • Such contribution can be made up to maximum ceilings under each scheme. Depositor will also submit deceleration for such maximum ceiling.
  • Interest will be calculated from the date of actual deposits.
  • No default fee for FY 2019-20 will be charged if the account is regularized by making deposit before 30th June 2020.
  • For the purpose of deciding the withdrawal / loan limit in the PPF accounts, the outstanding balance on 31.03.2020 would be considered.
  • Depositor can extension of PPF account till 30th June 2020 by submitting the prescribed form, if such extension can not be made due to lockdown.
  • Prescribed form for extension can be made via email, however physical form needs to be submitted once lockdown get over.

Source: Relaxation Guideline for Small Savings Schemes

Read here Various relief by EPF and ESIC during COVID 19

14. Date for renewal of health, motor insurance policies extended to April 21

Your following existing policies which are falling due for renewal from March 25, 2020, to April 14, 2020, can be renewed up till April 21,2020.

  • Third Party Motor Insurance
  • Regular health insurance policy

Source: Government provides   relief for third party Motor Insurance & Health policy holders in the light of COVID-19 lockdown

15. Relief under Department of Fisheries

  • All Sanitary Permits (SIPs) for import of SPF Shrimp Broodstock and other Agriculture inputs expiring between 1st March, 2020 to 15th April, 2020 is extended by 3 months
  • Delay upto 1 month in arrival of consignments to be condoned.

  • Rebooking of quarantine cubicles for cancelled consignments in Aquatic Quarantine Facility (AQF) Chennai without additional booking charges

  • The verification of documents and grant of NOC for Quarantine would be relaxed from 7 days to 3 days

Detailed notifications/circulars under respective act shall be issued by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs separately.

16. Facilitation under Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20 By  DGFT 

1Foreign Trade Policy extended till 31st March 2021The Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-2020 and Handbook of Procedures (HBP) which was valid till 31st March 2020, have been extended by one year till 31st March 2021
2Advance Authorizations and EPCG Authorizationsa. wherein the extended Export Obligation Period has either expired or is expiring between 1st February, 2020 to 31st July, 2020,

b. wherein the import validity period has either expired or is expiring between 1st February, 2020 to 31st July, 2020,

c. wherein Block period to fulfill the Block-wise export obligation has either expired or is expiring between 1st February, 2020 to 31st July, 2020,

d. wherein the time period to produce the Installation Certificate before the RA concerned has either expired or is expiring between 1st February, 2020 to 31st July, 2020,  

Such Period has been extended for further six months from the date of expiry.  
3Extension of validity of RCMC beyond 31st March, 2020Regional Authorities (RAs) of DGFT will not insist on valid RCMC (in cases where the same has expired on or before 31 March, 2020) from the applicants for any incentive/authorizations till 30 September, 2020.  
4Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS)The last date for filing annual claims under SEIS is 12 months from the end of relevant financial year of the claim period, which is expiring for 2018-19 claims on 31st March, 2020, has been extended to 31st December, 2020.  
5Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS)The last date of filing MEIS claims without late cut for all Shipping Bills for which the initial one-year period expired / will be expiring on or after 1st Feb 2020 and on or before 31st May 2020, has been extended by 3 months beyond the expiry date of the initial one-year period.  
6Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL)The last date for filing RoSCTL claims for export shipments between 7 March to 31 December, 2019 of 30th June, 2020, has been extended to 31st December 2020.  
7Status HolderThe validity period of all Status Certificates issued under FTP 2015-20 to an IEC holder has been extended up to 31st March, 2021.  
8Remissions under provisions of Hand Book of Procedure (HBP)Under para 4.12 (vi) of the Handbook of Procedure (HBP),  

validity date of norms ratified is limited to 31.3.2020 or three years whichever is later.  

This has been relaxed to be co-terminus with extended date of foreign trade policy / 3 years whichever is later.
 Validity of Advance Authorizations for imports extended by 6 monthsUnder para 4.41 (a) of HBP,

Validity of Advance Authorizations for imports is capped at 12 months.

Now the validity period of the Authorization for imports stands automatically extended by six months for Authorizations where import validity is expiring after 01 Feb 2020.

The option to avail further validity extensions under para 4.41(c) shall be available.  
 The EO period extended by 6 months for Authorizations expiring after 01 Feb 2020.A. Under para 4.42 (a) & (c) of HBP,  

Export Obligation (EO) period allowed under Advance Authorization Scheme is 18 and 24 months respectively.  

The EO period under this para now stands automatically extended by 6 months for Authorizations expiring after 01 Feb 2020.  

Option for further extensions as per HBP 4.42 (e) and (f) shall remain available after this period is over  

B. Under para 4.42 (d) of HBP, items under 4J get EO extension equal to half of the initially allowed period of EO. Now the EO period for items falling under appendix 4J stands automatically extended for a further period of six months for Authorizations expiring after 01 February 2020. .
 Exhibition Exports period extended by 6 months for cases expiring after 1st February 2020Under para 4.80 (C) (D) (E) of HBP,  

The period allowed for exhibition exports are restricted to 60/90/120/45/365 days depending on conditions mentioned) for replenishment of inputs of precious metals used.  

All durations mentioned under the given paras of HBP now stand extended by six months in addition to allowed durations for cases expiring after 01 February 2020.  
 Replenishment scheme / outright purchase / loan basis period allowed for exports realisationUnder para 4.82 (c) and (d), 4.83(b), 4.84(c) of HBP,  

replenishment scheme / outright purchase / loan basis period allowed for exports realisation is capped at 90, 180 days or credit terms, 120 days and 150 days etc.  

All durations mentioned under the given paras of HBP now stand extended by six months in addition to allowed durations for cases expiring after 01 February 2020.  
 EO period under Advance Authorisation for Gems & JewelryUnder para 4.85(b) and (c) of HBP,   

EO period under Advance Authorisation for Gems & Jewellery allowed at 120 and 90 days respectively.  

All EO periods now stand extended by six months for cases falling under these paras which expire after 01 February 2020.  
 Extension in replenishment schemeA. Extension in replenishment scheme for G&J under Para 4.59(e) also extended by 6 months.

B. Extension of 6 months under Para 4.75(c) and para 4.77(c) for Diamond exports and exports against supply by foreign buyer for G&J Sector.

C. As approved by Department of Revenue, Exemption of IGST and Compensation Cess under Advance Authorisation, EPCG Scheme and EOUs  till 31.03.2021 has been notified.
9Chapter 6 of Hand Book of Procedures (HBP)-EOU/EHTP/STP/BTPUnder para 6.01(b)(ii) of HBP, any LOP/LOI issued under the FTP has an initial validity period of 2 years and Such validity may be extended by the competent authority.  

Now All such LOPs/LOIs whose original or extended validity expires on or after 1st March 2020, would be deemed to be valid up to 31st December, 2020.
 Export Obligation in case of sensitive productsUnder Para 6.06 (c): Special provisions have been laid down allowing a shorter period of export obligations in case of some sensitive products.

In such cases where ever the export obligation period expires during 1st March, 2020 to 30th June, 2020, the same has been extended up to 30th of September, 2020  
10Chapter 7 of Hand Book of Procedures (HBP)-Deemed ExportsUnder para 7.05(a) of HBP, an application for refund of TED / Drawback may be filed within 12 months from the date of realization / supply.

Now in all such cases where the above dates fall on or after 1st March, 2020, the date of filing of applications for refund of TED/Drawback will now be deemed to be extended up to 30th September, 2020
11Chapter 7A of Hand Book of Procedures (HBP)- Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) SchemeAs per para 7A.01(d) of HBP,

an application for claim of TMA may be filed within one year from the date of quarter ending.  

Now application for refund of such claims for the quarter ending 31st March, 2019 and 30th June, 2019 may be filed up to 30th September, 2020
12Chapter 9 of Hand Book of Procedures (HBP)- Miscellaneous MattersAs per Para 9.02 of HBP,

provisions of late cut have been laid down wherever any application is received after expiry of last date for submission of such application.

Now last date of submission of application for the purpose of late cut would be taken to be extended as per the extension given above for the regular application.

17. Facilitation for Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Units

1In respect of SEZ Developers/Co- developers/ Units relaxations have been allowed on certain compliances A. Requirement to file Quarterly Progress Report (QPR) attested by Independent Chartered Engineers by Developers/ Co‐developers  

B. SOFTEX form to be filed by IT/ITES units    

C. Filing of Annual Performance Reports (APR) by SEZ units
2Development Commissioners have been directed to facilitate all extensions of Letter of Approvals (LoAs) and other compliances through electronic mode in a time‐bound manner.

In case where physical meeting required, ad‐hoc interim extension / deferment of the expiry date may be granted without prejudice till 30.06.2020 or further instructions of the Department on the matter, whichever is earlier.
A. Developers/co‐developers who are in the process of developing and operationalizing the SEZS  

B. Units which are likely to complete their 5 year block for NFE assessment    

C. Units which are yet to commence operations
3In case of expiry of LOPs of Export Oriented Units (EOU)s also, all extension of LOPs may be facilitated through electronic mode in time bound manner.

Where it is not possible to grant extension through electronic mode or such cases where physical meeting is required, in such cases expiry of validity of EOUs may be deferred suitably till 30th June, 2020.
Such extensions will cover following type of cases:

A. Letter of Permission (LoP) of existing EOUs whose five period for calculation of NFE is completed during the lockdown period.  

B. LoP of EOUs whose validity is expiring during the lockdown period.
 Others1. Along with IT/ITES Units, Non IT/ITES Units in SEZs have also been allowed to take desktop/laptop outside SEZs for work from home.

2. Power has been delegated to Development Commissioners for broadbanding in case of manufacturing of essential items like masks, sanitizer, gowns and other protective preventive products/instruments subject to post-facto ratification by UAC

3. All DCs have been sensitized to adopt electronic working culture and to extend support to the units involved in manufacturing of drugs, essential items etc and to follow COVID guidelines

18. Facilitation by ECGC

  • Time for filing returns like declarations, extension applications, report of default etc., under the insurance covers that are due in March and April, extended up to May 31, 2020.
  • Time for filing claim/ replies due during this period extended up to 30th June, 2020.
  • Waiver of credit limit application fee till 30th June, 2020.
  • Reduction in policy proposal processing fee by 50% for policies due for renewal / issue from 1st March till 30th June, 2020.
  • Discretion to exporters to extend due date for payment by buyers for shipments accepted earlier.
  • Discretion to decide about shipments (i.e. resale / reimport / or abandon) that reached destination but not cleared by overseas buyers due to lockdown in the destination countries.
  • Claim eligibility period under insurance cover reduced from the present 4 months period to 1 month.

19. Facilitation by Agri Exporters by Agricultural & Processed Products Export Development Authority (APEDA)

  • For facilitating exporters, APEDA extended the validity of RCMC, Recognition/Registration of packhouses, groundnut processing unit, Meat plants, wherever expiring up to 30th April, 2020.
  • Advisory has been issued for providing additional one month validity of certificate as a one-time measure for exporters of Organic products.
  • An advisory was issued on 28/03/2020 to all the laboratories authorized in HortiNet / GrapeNet as well as those for APEDA scheduled products, which carry out sampling and analysis of fresh fruits and vegetables, to bring any impediment related to movement of samplers and laboratory staff to the notice of APEDA and the local Authorities for quick resolution.
  • APEDA Certification Bodies have been advised to extend the validity of organic certificates. This will enable the farmer to continue with certification without losing organic status.
  • Provision has also been made for interim extension of certificates of food processors and exporters whose physical inspection could not be conducted.
  • With the intervention of APEDA, few packing units in Navi Mumbai were able to get the permission to resume operations for production of essential packaging material for supplies.

20. Facilitation by The Tobacco Board

The last date for submission of monthly returns by various traders for the month of February is 15thMarch. The last date for submission of returns for the month of March is 15thApril. Tobacco Board has extended these dates up to 30thApril 2020. Tobacco board in consultation with State Govt. and other stakeholders has planned to start auctioning of Tobacco w.e.f.15th April, 2020 in order to prevent loss of the Tobacco Crop.

21. Facilitation by The Tea Board

Tea board has extended various timelines as follows :

Sl.No. Return Name Provision under Frequency Stakeholder Due data Purpose Extension  Granted
1 Production return (Form-E) TMCO Monthly Tea Manufacturers 07.04.2020 Captures monthly production, green leaf price paid to growers, Tea Waste generated and disposal data- to be used for IIP too Revised to 30 04.2020
2 Buyer Return (Form-F) TMCO Quarterly Tea Buyers 31.03.2020 Captures Tea purchase and sale data  Revised to 30.04.2020
3 Instant Tea Return TMCO Monthly Instant Tea Manufacturers 07.04.2020 Instant Tea manufactured data Revised to 30.04.2020
4 Ware House Return (Form M) TWCO Monthly Tea ware houses 07.04.2020 Tea storage and disposal details Revised to 30.04.2020
5 Export Return TDECO Monthly Tea Exporters 07.04.2020 Captures monthly export quantity, value, port of shipment, category wise teas exported etc. Revised to 30.04.2020
6 Import return TDECO Monthly Tea Importers No date Captures monthly import quantity, and CIF value, purpose for which the import was made Revised to 30.04.2020
7 Annual Return Tea Act Yearly Tea Garden owners 31.03.2020 Captures development activities carried out during the year including age of bushes and no of workers employed and their welfare activities Revised to 31.05.2020

MHA vide notification dated 24.03.2020 has allowed functioning of Tea Industry, including plantation with maximum of 50% workers.

22. Facilitation by The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA)

  • MPEDA has started issuing most of the Certificates for exports online i.e. DS 2301 certificates for the USA market  w.e.f.1st  April 2020.
  • This is an essential certificate for the export of shrimp to USA. By making it online, the physical movements for the exporters have reduced. Another Certificate (Asia -Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) also has been made online after the lock down was introduced.

23. Measures taken by Government e-market place (GeM) to facilitate procurement in view of the covid-19 pandemic

The status of various interventions for ease of procurement for COVID-19 related items are as follows:

  • New page introduced for tracking COVID-19 categories and the number of sellers.
  • Shorter duration Bids with shorter delivery period enabled. Bid Cycle for COVID-19 related categories has been reduced to 3 days from existing 10 days. Buyers would also be able to reduce the Delivery Period for such items to 2 days considering the critical nature of the items.
  • A filter has been put in for Local Supplier and for Lead Time for delivery selection by the buyer, to facilitate early delivery.
  • Prioritization is being done in Product/Brand approval of the Covid Specific Categories.
  • A new business rule has been put in place for controlling unreasonable price increase.
  • Delivery Period Extension have been allowed for 30 days beyond the expiry of the original Delivery Period.
  • New business rule to stock out sellers who do not update stock within 48 hours of notification for specific categories.
  • Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) & Sellers for eight new COVID categories have been identified.
  • A Business Continuity Plan has been put in place for MSP and GeM to ensure continuity of system operations.

24. Measures taken by Department to Facilitate Preferential Exports in The COVID-19 PANDEMIC

In the wake of the lockdown, the agencies authorized to issue the certificates of origin for India’s preferential exports under the free trade agreement (FTAs) are either not functional or are operating with a skeletal staff. In the light of this, Department of Commerce had included some specific FTAs on this digital platform which had facilitated online application by exporters for these certificates.

Trade Notice 1 dated 7.4.2020 has added India’s main FTAs namely those with ASEAN, Japan, SAARC countries and Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) onto this digital platform. A related Trade Notice 62 dated 6.4.2020 has asked the agencies to issue the digitally signed certificates to the exporters on this platform as also keep a uniform fee for certificates even if they are issued retrospectively. The platform issues digitally signed certificates and we have been successful in getting the trading partners to accept these digitally signed certificates. This would ensure that our preferential exports are facilitated even during this lockdown period.

Most of the exporters to the European Union (EU) avail of the EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Scheme wherein they get tariff preferences on exports. While the EU GSP is on a self certification basis, the exporters have to apply to the prescribed agencies in India for getting a REX (registered exporter) number. In view of the closure of the offices of these agencies, Trade Notice 61 dated 2.4.2020 has prescribed the acceptance of scanned documents for getting the REX number so that the exporter has no physical interface with the agencies. This would ensure that exporters to EU under the EU GSP who have not got the REX number can apply electronically to the agencies (also known as Local Administrators for registration)

25. Facilitation by The Director General Trade Remedies (DGTR)

Submission of documents in the Trade remedies investigation process has been done online or through digital transmission without having to submit physical copies.

This has been enabled for both new investigations and ongoing investigations.

Also the hearings and consultations are being carried out through Video conferencing.

Source: Department of Commerce has Provided a number of Relaxations / Extensions of various Compliance Deadlines etc. to address Corona Pandemic Related Hardships of Exporters

In this crucial time, we request all of you to stay back at your home and keep yourself and your family safe from COVID-19.

26. Extension of timeline for submission of Annual/Half-yearly
Return financial year 2019-2020
due to COVID-19

Considering the difficulties faced by FBOs in submission of Annual/Half-yearly production Return in Form D-1, D-2 under FSSR-2011 for the financial year 2019-2020 during lockdown in the country due to COVID-19 pandemic, FSSAI has extended the timeline for submission of Annual Return for the financial year 2019-2020 and Half yearly return in the Form D2 for October, 2019 – March, 2020 till 31st July, 2020 vide circular dated 11th April 2020

Source: File No. A-3/APS NOTICE/FSSAI/NR

27. Shipping Ministry Offers Relief Package for Port Users and PPP Concessionaires

The COVID19 pandemic has baffled the socio-economic structure of the world in an instance. In these circumstances, the shipping and logistics industry is no different, with shipping chains disrupted because of lower trade volume. The Indian Ministry of Shipping Ministry issued a letter on 21st April 2020 asking the country’s 12 major ports to sublimate the license fees-related charges, and lease rentals for the months of April, May, and June.

The measures the Indian Government has taken are aimed to offer some relief to the exporters, shipping lines, logistic providers, and importers affected due to the outbreak. As the country is under complete lockdown, the logistics businesses are facing massive challenges since both the supply side and the demand side is reduced.

Have a look to get the complete overview here,

27.1 Suspension of Charges to Port Users

From storage charges to lease rentals, the government has instructed several remissions to the port users.

27.1.1 Storage Charges: Indian Shipping ministry has asked the ports to allow free storage time to the port users amidst the period of Lock-down.

27.1.2 License Fees related charges and lease rentals: The Government has asked the ports to allow deferment of April, May, and June, annual license fees, or annual lease rentals on the basis of pro-rata and that’s too without any interest.

27.1.3 Other Charges and Penalties: Further instructions states that the ports must not levy any penal charges, detention charges, dwell time charges, demurrages, anchorage charges or penal hire changes, penalties related to performance on any traders, concessionaires, shipping lines, CFS, importer or exporter no matter if there is a delay in loading or unloading operations, berthing, evacuation or arrival of any cargo during the period of lockdown alongside 30 days recovery period.

27.1.4 Land for Storage Additionally: If there is additional land available within the area of the port, the ports need to do the needful so that they can offer additional storage facilities to the port users temporarily. However, the ministry has also made this clear that ports must not charge any rentals or fees or any other charges upto 30th June 2020. The additional land should be offered on the basis of ‘as is where is’.

Not only the port users, but the government has taken several measures to help the PPP concessionaires.

27.2 Remission of Charges to PPP Concessionaires

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown measures, the Private Partnership terminals in the major ports are one of the worst-hit businesses. The government has ordered the ports to take the following measures to revamp the sector.

27.2.1 Changes in Royalty and Equipment Hire Related Charges, and Revenue share: As per the concessionaire’s request, ports must allow deferment on the royalty and hiring charges of equipment without any interest, for the month of April, May, and June’s revenue.

This deferred amount has to be paid once the free interest period of 3 months is over. Alternatively, it can be paid on 6 installments which are equated monthly at an equal interest rate as per the rate prescribed at RBI’s 91 days Treasury Bill.

27.2.2 Charges regarding Lease rentals and Lease fees: It’s been further instructed that the port should waive off the license fees, lease rentals and other similar charges for coming three months(April, May, June) up to the volume of cargo dropped comparing monthly average cargo volume from 1st Jan 2019 t 31st Dec 2019.

27.2.3 Land for storage additionally: If the port has the requisite additional area within the port, then they should allow additional storage area to PPP concessionaires up until 30th June 2020 temporarily and free of cost.

27.2.4 MGT (Minimum Guaranteed Throughput) Obligations: There is a change in the calculation of the MGT obligations. Now, the Government has said MGT should be computed for the respective year without considering the Lockdown period, and the particular cargo volume handled during this period.

27.2.5 Obligations related to Performance standard: For the Lockdown period along with 30 days of the recovery period, any port must not levy any kind of charges or penalty for the shortfall in the performance standards like- dwell time of transit storage, gross berth output, the duration for delivery store receipt operations, or requirements relating non-transshipment, etc.

27.3 Marine Due or Vessel Related Charges

The ports have also been instructed that if the vessel operators ask the ports need to allow 60 days without interest deferment of marine dues and sublime vessel-related charges to Indian coastal vessels. Alongside this, the letter states that the ports should get requisite Bank Guarantee as security from the coastal vessel operators. They should consider the deferment requests received within the 30th of May 2020.

 27.4 Force Majeure

The Indian Finance Ministry has already notified that the Corona Virus outbreak must have to be considered as a natural calamity. It was further mentioned that Force Majeure should be invoked. As various stakeholders requested, the Shipping Ministry has directed that,

  • The ports must have to extend the period for completion of any project under implementation in PPP mode or other
  • All the Major Ports have been instructed to waive off all penalties on the basis of case-to-case for PPP projects under implementation. Ports need to allow deferment of performance obligations according to the relevant provisions under the Concession Agreement.
  • Furthermore, the Force Majeure period starts from the date of order the Finance Minister referred.

Source: Waiver of Demurrage charges levied by ICDs/CFSs/Ports/Terminal Operator during Lockdown

28. Relaxation in Statutory Audit of Public Sector Banks (PSBs)

  • As per existing norms, Statutory Branch Audit is required to be carried out for all branches with Advance of INR 20 Crores or more.  Further, 1/5th of remaining branches (representing cross section of rural/urban/semi-urban/metropolitan branches) should be subject to audit so as to cover 90% of advances of bank. 
  • However, considering lockdown situation, requirement of advance of INR 20 crores or more has been removed. Accordingly, branch audit should be carried out so as to cover 90% of all funded and 90% of all non-funded exposures of bank. Selected branch must represent cross of rural/urban/semi-rural/metropolitan branches.
  • PSBs must take adequate precautionary measures to ensure safety of concerned auditors and bank officials. They may make arrangements to provide documents/information required by auditors through electronic medium wherever feasible and minimize physical movement by judicious allocation of branches.
  • The date for submission of branch allocation details to RBI has been extended from the earlier conveyed date of April 30, 2020 to June 15, 2020.

Source: Reserve Bank of India-DOS.ARG.No.6605 /08.91.001/2019-20 dated 27th April, 2020

29. Submission of regulatory returns – Extension of timelines by RBI

29.1 All regulatory returns required to be submitted by the above entities to the Department of Regulation can be submitted with a delay of upto 30 days from the due date. The extension will be applicable to regulatory returns required to be submitted upto June 30, 2020. Further details are furnished in the Annex. Those entities that are in a position to submit the returns earlier may continue to do so.

29.2 No extension in timeline is permitted for submission of statutory returns i.e. returns prescribed under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, RBI Act, 1934 or any other Act (for instance, returns related to CRR/SLR).

List of regulatory returns which can be submitted with a delay of a maximum of 30 days from the due date

30. Relaxation with respect to Insolvency Bankcruptcy Code, 2016

The notification No. 11/2020– Central Tax dated 21.03.2020 devised a special procedure to overcome the requirement of sequential filing of FORM GSTR-3B under GST and to align it with the provisions of the IBC Act, 2016.

Latter on further amendment done via Notification no. 39/2020 central tax dated 05.05.2020 and then certain clarification given under circular no central tax 138/2020 dated 06.05.2020

30.1 Time Limit for GST registration for IRP/CIRP extended

  • Management of corporate debtors under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC”), undergoing the corporate insolvency resolution process, is undertaken by interim resolution professionals (IRP) or resolution professionals (RP).

30.2 No seperate GST registration by IRP/CIRP where all returns under GST filed

  • It was clarified vide N/No. 39/2020 – Central Tax, dated 05.05.2020 that IRP/RP Will not be required to take a fresh registration if Form GSTR-1, Form GSTR-3 have been furnished by croporate debtor for all the tax periods prior to the appointment of IRP/RP under the registration of Corporate Debtor (earlier GSTIN). (Related proviso inserted by N/No. 39/2020-Central Tax, dated 5th May, 2020)

30.3 Change of IRP after initial appointment of IBC

  • In case of change in IRP/RP after initial appointment under IBC, then no separate GST registration will be required for new RP. However, it shall be considered as change of Authorized Signatory only and not every RP shall be considered as a distinct person on every such appointment.
  • Changing of authorized signatory is a non- core amendment and therefore, does not require approval of tax officer. However, if the previous authorized signatory does not share the login credentials with new IRP/RP, then the newly appointed person can get his details added through the Jurisdictional authority as Primary authorized signatory.


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are strictly of the author and VJM & Associates LLP. The contents of this article are solely for informational purpose. It does not constitute professional advice or recommendation of firm. Neither the author nor firm and its affiliates accepts any liabilities for any loss or damage of any kind arising out of any information in this article nor for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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