Higher taxes for foreign investors from April 1



Changes in the SEBI listing and prevention of insider-trading regulations, revisions in the double-taxation avoidance agreements (DTAAs) with Mauritius and Singapore are set to come into effect from April 1.

The changes in DTAAs give India the right to tax capital gains arising on Indian equity shares sold by a Singapore or Mauritian resident

All this may also help improve corporate governance standards for the listed companies in India.

Indian financial markets recently saw several cases of high volatility in companies, like Sun Pharma, DHFL and IL&FS, which created panic among retail investors. In all these, the role of the board came under lens.

The modifications in the listing agreement will improve corporate governance by making relevant changes in the organization of the board.

Among the key regulations, which will come into effect, are that the top 1,000 listed companies will be required to have at least six directors on their board against three, prescribed by the Companies Act 2013. Besides, the top 500 will also need to have at least one independent woman director.

Also, a director can hold that position in not more than the eight listed entities, while an individual will not be permitted to be an independent director in more than seven companies.

A detailed explanation will be required if an independent director resigns before completion of the term.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has also amended insider-trading regulations. As per the amendment, the definition of unpublished price sensitive information (UPSI) has been narrowed, allowing listed companies to share such information for board-determined legitimate purposes, but only if the disclosure is in the best interest of the company.

While UPSI will help check insider-trading, the SEBI regulations have permitted flexibility by allowing block trade between insiders or between related parties within a company sharing the same UPSI.

The changes will also keep transactions undertaken due to a regulatory obligation and exercise of the stock option at a pre-determined price out of the ambit of insider-trading.

The new requirements with relation to SEBI regulations will also apply to intermediaries like auditors, accountancy firms, law firms, analysts and consultants. They’ll have to put in place internal controls to check insider-trading.

Additionally, the concessional tax regime for investors under the earlier DTAAs for making investments into India via Singapore and Mauritius will cease to exist from April 1.

India amended DTAAs with Singapore and Mauritius in 2016. It gave India the right to collect tax on capital gains arising on Indian equity shares sold by a Singapore or Mauritian resident.

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