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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds a press conference, announces a number of economic measures amidst coronavirus scare

The Minimum Balance that needs to be maintained in bank accounts to avoid fees has been waived. Debit cardholders can now withdraw cash from any ATM, free of charge for a period of 3 months.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made key announcements amidst coronavirus crisis that has wrought havoc on the economic mood of the country. Here are the key highlights:

Income Tax Returns

In a big relief to direct taxpayers, the Finance Minister extended the last date for filing personal income tax for FY 2018-2019 to June 30, 2020. Moreover, the interest rate levied on delayed payments have also been reduced to 9% from 12%.

Aadhar-Pan Linking

The deadline for linking Aadhar and Pan Card has also been extended from March 31, 2020, to June 30, 2020.

GST Deadline and Penalties

The Central Government has extended the deadline for filing Goods and Services Tax (GST) returns for March, April and May 2020 to 30 June 2020. For companies with annual turnover less than ₹5 crores, no interest/late fee/penalty will be charged. For businesses with higher turnover than 5 crores, only the interest amount will be charged. Late fee and penalty have been waived.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)

The default limit for Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code has been enhanced from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore. If the situation continues beyond April, the government will protect companies from being forced into insolvency by suspending IBC Sections 7, 9 and 10 for 6 months.

TDS Relief

The delayed deposit of Tax deducted at Source (TDS) will now incur interest of 9% instead of 18%.

Boosting Import-Exports

In a bid to provide relief to the importers and exporters, customs clearance has now been deemed as an essential service that will continue its operations 24/7 until June 30, 2020.

Banking Sector

The Minimum Balance that needs to be maintained in bank accounts to avoid fees has been waived. Debit cardholders can now withdraw cash from any ATM, free of charge for a period of 3 months.

Effect on the Stock Market

The market has shown positive response following the key announcements made by Nirmala Sitharaman to provide relief to India’s distressed economy. The Sensex has soared 1183.74 points to 27,164.98 while Nifty has climbed 314.55 points to 7,924.80 points.

Apart from these, the finance minister also stated that the government is readying an economic package to revive the situation and an announcement in this regard will be made soon.

At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has infected about 500 people in India and 3.8 lacs worldwide, the global economy has been under immense pressure. The story of India is no different. Lockdown in almost all states of India to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 has led to a broken supply chain and reduced economic activities. These slew of measures are expected to boost the economic morale in such challenging times.

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