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    The audit committee is a cornerstone of good corporate governance. Its mandate now extends well beyond oversight of financial reporting to include an array of key areas that support an organization’s performance, such as risk management, compliance, reliability and integrity of internal data, cyber risk, and the effectiveness of internal control over operations.


    Yet even as the list of oversight responsibilities gets longer and more complex, the amount of time that most audit committee members can reasonably commit to the part has not. The role of internal audit has traveled a parallel course with that of the audit committee, with internal auditors expanding their scope of responsibilities to meet organizational needs. Organizations are increasingly turning to the internal audit function to provide assurance and/or consulting services to better address their own needs. When a strong working relationship is in place with the audit committee, internal audit can enhance and protect organizational value by providing risk-based and objective assurance, advice, and insight. With its broad view of the organization and its familiarity with operations across all business units, the internal audit department is uniquely positioned to help the audit committee understand and evaluate risks that may affect the enterprise.


    FDI into Food Processing Products – various forms of business – FEMA Regulations


    Food Processing Sector has been on average growing at a faster rate than agricultural sector since last three years. During the last three years ending 2014-15, it is growing at Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR) of around 2.26% as against 1.69% in the Agriculture and 6.23% in manufacturing at 2011-12 Prices1 .


    Food Processing has emerged as an important segment of the Indian Economy in terms of its contribution to GDP, employment and investment. The sector constitutes as much as 9.0% and 11.0% respectively of GDP in Manufacturing and Agricultural sector2 .


    Food Processing can be viewed as different levels of processing – Primary, Secondary, and tertiary. Primary processing relates to conversion of raw agricultural produce, milk, meat and fish into a commodity that is fit for human consumption. It involves steps such as cleaning, grading, sorting, packing etc., and subsequent processes are involved for making the processed inputs into finished goods and ultimate retail trading through sales distribution channels.


    Traditionally India was allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the business of dealing with Food Products either by a manufacturer under automatic route for the products manufactured by them (Subject to MSMED regulations) or Trading of such goods via B2B e-commerce, Single Brand Retail Trading and Multi Brand Retail Trading etc., under automatic/approval route subject to various conditions


    Later the concept of e-commerce has been introduced for FDI purposes and detailed regulations have been made from time to time.


    Over the last two decades, rising internet and mobile phone penetration has changed the way we communicate and do business. E-commerce is relatively a novel concept. It is, at present, heavily leaning on the internet and mobile phone revolution to fundamentally alter the way businesses reach their customers.


    Now India is getting ready for introduction of Goods and Service Tax law (GST), it can further fuel the growth of e-commerce


    With the above background the author has made an attempt to bring the extantFEMA - Foreign Direct Investment Regulations for Food Processing Industries and/or trading in Food Products (including e-commerce)






    1Source: Annual Report 2015-16 of Ministry of Food Processing Industries, GOI


    2Source: Annual Report 2015-16 of Ministry of Food Processing Industries, GOI


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    SBS Wiki

    Brief Background:



    Before 2006

    FDI was prohibited into Retail Business

    10th February, 2006

    FDI in cash-and-carry (wholesale) brought under automatic route.


    Earlier, it was allowed under approval route. 51% FDI was permitted under


    Government approval into SBRT

    April, 2010

    Cash and Carry Whole Sale Trade is permitted subject to 25% intra group


    entities sales restriction

    July, 2010

    DIPP has issued second Discussion Paper FDI into MBRT

    7th December, 2011

    Union Cabinet Proposes 51% FDI in Multi-Brand Retail Trade

    10th January, 2012

    FDI into Single Brand Retail increased to 100% under Government route


    subject to stipulated Conditions

    14th September, 2012

    The Government opens FDI into Multi-Brand Retail Trade (MBRT) upto 51%


    subject to stipulated conditions

    20th September, 2012

    The Government clarifies the position that company having FDI cannot enter


    into e-commerce in both SBRT and MBRT

    January, 2014

    DIPP Releases a discussion paper on “E-Commerce in India, highlighting pros


    and cons of allowing FDI in the Sector”

    29th March, 2016

    DIPP has issued Press Note No. 3/2016, whereby the definition of E-


    Commerce has been divided into Inventory based Model and Market based



    24th June, 2016

    DIPP has issued Press Note No. 5/2016 for 100% FDI into Food Processing


    Industries and also relaxing local sourcing norms for SBRT


    Extant FDI Regulations for FDI into Food Processing Industries:


    1. Relevant Definitions:


    • E-commerce- E-commerce means buying and selling of goods and services including digital products over digital & electronic network.


    • E-commerce entity- E-commerce entity means a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 or the Companies Act, 2013 or a foreign company covered under section 2 (42) of the Companies Act, 2013 or an office, branch or agency in India as provided in section 2(v)(iii) of FEMA 1999, owned or controlled by a person resident outside India and conducting the e-commerce business.


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    FDI into Food Processing Industry




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    • Inventory based model of e-commerce- Inventory based model of e-commerce means an e-commerce activity where inventory of goods and services is owned by e-commerce entity and is sold to the consumers directly.


    • Marketplace based model of e-commerce- Marketplace based model of e-commerce means providing of an information technology platform by an e-commerce entity on a digital & electronic network to act as a facilitator between buyer and seller.






























    Trader                                                                      2





















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    FDI into Food Processing Industry




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    1. Manufacturer selling directly to Customer via Single Brand Retail Trade or Whole Sale Trade


    1. Manufacturer selling directly to the customer via E-Commerce
    2. Manufacturer selling to Trader (B2B Commerce/ Cash and Carry whole-sale trade)
    3. In turn, Trader selling to Customer through either Single Brand Retail Trade or Multi Brand Retail Trade or through E-commerce


    1. Flow of the FDI into Manufacturing Activity
    2. Flow of the FDI into Trading Activity (including e-commerce), where the trader is not having any manufacturing activity


    1. Guidelines for Foreign Direct Investment in Food Processing sector:


    • 100% FDI under Automatic route is permitted in Manufacturing of Food Products in India


    • 100% FDI under Automatic route is permitted in trading by the manufacturer of its own products– Wholesale and/or retail (including through e-commerce) in respect of Food Products manufactured and/or produced in India.


    • 100% FDI under Government approval route is permitted in trading (including through e-commerce) in respect of Food Products manufactured and/or produced in India.


    vBasedon the above one can understand the FDI into manufacturing activity related to Food Processing Activities is freely permitted upto 100% under automatic route; and

    vFDIinto MBRT/SBRT of own manufactured Food products is also under automatic route; and vFDIinto Trading of goods by the Traders (including e-commerce) is subject to approval of Central


    Government and permitted upto 100%


    Background of Safe Harbour: Tax payers often need to carry out complex transfer pricing analysis of their related party cross border transactions. Compelled to allocate resources for preparing detailed documentation, companies are thus burdened with significant costs associated with undertaking such an exercise. Moreover, transfer pricing analysis being a subjective exercise, may be viewed in different ways. The factual nature of transfer pricing determinations can be an extremely complex subject that frequently vexes both taxpayers and tax administrations alike. In the understandable desire to find bright line rules that do not require the exercise of judgment and analysis, it is often proposed that "safe harbors" be provided.


    Even OECD recognizes that applying the arm's length principle can be a fact-intensive process and uncertainty associated with it may impose a heavy administrative burden on taxpayers and tax administrations that can be aggravated by both legislative and compliance complexity. These facts have led a number of countries to consider whether transfer pricing safe harbors rules would be appropriate in the transfer pricing arena. The theory of a safe harbor is that the burdens imposed in applying the arm's length principle may be ameliorated by providing circumstances in which taxpayers could follow a simple set of rules under which a national tax administration would automatically accept transfer prices. In taxation contexts, the safe harbor concept typically refers to a statutory provision that applies to a given category of taxpayers and by substituting exceptional, usually simpler obligations, relieves eligible taxpayers from certain obligations that the tax code otherwise imposes. In effect, a safe harbor is a defined parameter. If the transfer pricing result falls within that parameter, tax administrations would not be allowed to make an adjustment. Hence, transfer pricing safe harbour rules would need to be designed to achieve the following objectives:


    • Compliance relief:


    • Certainty
    • Administrative simplicity


    The Finance (No 2) Act (FA), 2009 introduced provisions in the Indian Income-tax Law (ITL) that empowered the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the apex Indian Tax Administration, to issue transfer pricing “safe harbor” rules. A “safe harbor” is defined in the ITL as circumstances in which the Tax Authority shall accept the transfer price declared by the taxpayer. The CBDT on 14 August 2013 released draft safe harbor rules for public comments. After considering comments of various stake holders, on 18 September 2013, the CBDT issued the final safe harbor rules.


    The rules provide minimum operating profit margins in relation to operating expenses a taxpayer is expected to earn for certain categories of international transactions, such as provision of software development services, information technology enabled services, (ITES), knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) services, contract research and development (R&D) services, manufacture and export of automotive components etc. that will be acceptable to the Tax Authority. The rules also provide acceptable norms for certain categories of financial transactions such as intra-group loans made or guarantees provided to nonresident affiliates of an Indian taxpayer.

    The transfer price contained in the safe harbor rules shall be applicable for five years beginning from financial year (FY) 2012-13. The safe harbor rules, optional for a taxpayer, contain the conditions and circumstances under which the norms/marginswould be accepted by the Tax Authority and the related compliance obligations. The taxpayer has flexibility in electing the years to be governed by the safe harbor rules within the five year period. Where a taxpayer’s transfer price is accepted by the Tax


    Authority under the safe harbor rules, the taxpayer shall not be entitled to invoke the mutual agreement procedure (MAP) under an applicable tax treaty.




    • If safe harbour opted, taxpayer not entitled to make any comparability adjustments nor avail benefit of the prescribed variation.
    • Taxpayer required to comply with TP documentation & Form 3CEB filing requirements even if they opt for the safe harbour rules.


    • Form 3CEFA to be furnished for the initial year to exercise safe harbour option. Option exercised to remain in force for lesser of the period specified in Form 3CEFA or 5 years, unless option held to be invalid or taxpayer opts out.


    • Relatively simplified audit process prescribed for taxpayers opting for safe harbour in respect of eligible transactions


    • Ineligible to invoke MAP if taxpayer’s safe harbour option is accepted


    APA vs Safe harbour rules:


    Concluding Remarks:


    The safe harbour program was intended to reduce the transfer pricing litigation and related compliances. However, the objective was not achieved because of the high margins prescribed for the various industries. Further, the APA program has been successful and the margins agreed in the APA programs have been much conducive and attractive to the taxpayers and thus the results followed. There are expectations from the government that they would shortly revisit the safe harbour and come out with a much better and tax friendly margins on par with the APA and the litigation results.




    In order to provide an opportunity to all persons, a new scheme, i.e., Income Declaration Scheme, 2016 (“Scheme”) has been introduced by the Finance Ministry which allows all persons who have not paid full taxes in the past to come forward and declare the undisclosed income and pay tax, surcharge and penalty. The amount of such tax, surcharge and penalty works out to 45 percent of such undisclosed income declared. 

    Chapter IX has been introduced in the Income-tax Act, 961 (“Act”) for the Scheme and is named as ‘The Income Declaration Scheme, 2016’ consisting of sections 181 to section 199. The scheme has been introduced with effect from June 1st2016 and will remain open up to the date to be notified by the Central Government in the Official Gazette which is September 30, 2016 (notified by the Central Government). 

    The scheme is applicable in respect of undisclosed income for any Financial Year (“FY”) prior to FY 2016-17 (i.e., AY 2017-18). The Income Declaration Rules, 2016 has also been notified by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (“CBDT”) (on May 19, 2016) and has issued various explanatory notes and clarifications in the form of ‘Frequently asked questions’ (“FAQ”) for better compliance with the Scheme. 

    Sept – 2016 (Volume-26)

    Key Topics Covered:

    • International Taxation
    • FEMA
    • Audit
    • Income Tax
    • Companies Act, 2013
    • Audit


    • Direct Tax
    • Indirect Tax
    • Companies Act, 2013

    This article is contributed by Partners of SBS and Company LLP - Chartered Accountant Company. You can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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