Car Leasing In India: ‘Breaking the Stereotypical Definition Of Luxury’

Julie Mehta (julie@vinodkothari.com)

Introduction

Who thought hiring was even an option to enjoy the luxury of having to use a car. But with the world undergoing a paradigm shift, it untapped its energies into providing and establishing better services for its customers, leasing has paved its way into existence. Most of the industries have adopted this concept and structured their services accordingly in order to provide the best they can to their customers, but that requires huge understanding of their needs. A commoner would always be awed by the immensely developing technology and the environment around them but limited resources makes them take a step back from the thought of availing such services. The market had its solution as hiring and renting came into picture. This has ensured dreams do come true.

Car has always been a luxury at least in most parts of India because of the fact that India still in its developing stage and there still remains a big gap between the rich and the poor and the middle income families fall nowhere. Indians have been developed with the mind state that not everyone can afford everything and thus one should limit their demands keeping in mind their pocket potential. The concept of hiring and renting is not only limited to houses and properties but with the advent of MNC’s and startup companies, they have widened the scope of bringing in the concept of hiring even furniture, vehicles, electronic equipment’s, etc.

Earlier, the concept of car leasing was only limited to corporate senior executives that was earlier known as ‘corporate leasing’ and was common for the luxury car brands. But slowly it has trickled down and become accessible to commoners and middle income families. Companies like Mahindra & Mahindra made some of its models available for leasing. Following this concept, several other car brands like Hyundai, TATA group and luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes etc. have also opened their doors to providing the lease facilities.

Car leasing and rental is one of the most lucrative and fast growing segment of the automobile sector in India even though it currently represents only 4-5% of the market in terms of absolute number of vehicles, but its future prospects are strong enough.

Factors like increasing popularity of app-cab providers like Ola, Uber, Zoom car cab booking facilities, rapid urbanization, relocation of rural population into cities, adds on to the potential of car leasing in India.

[1]The growth of the market in India is to ensure manifold growth in its CAGR by 15-20% in the coming ten years and further on making hiring of cars simpler eventually with current worth of Rs. 1500 crores. Most car making companies are making 40% of its business from leasing cars. This has largely helped change the mentality of customers and imbibed the fact that ‘why buy when you can lease it’.

 

Yellow number plates or white number plates?

People remain apprehensive about the color of the number plate they use in the car. While a yellow number plates denotes commercial use, white number represents personal use. People taking cars on lease will of course want white number plates on their cars.

The current legal framework for registration of motor vehicles allow cars taken on lease for personal use to bear white number plates.

In case of a car taken on lease, the lessee is the person having possession of the vehicle and hence, the ‘owner’ as per the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Further, since it is the lessee who is actually using the car and the same has not been given on hire or used for any other commercial purpose, the car shall have a white number plate.

 

Global Status of Car Leasing

Globally, car leasing and hiring has been prevalent and growing for many years now. The analysts have forecasted that in the coming years, the global leasing market is to grow at a CAGR of 13-15%. This is gaining momentum due to the development of new mobility concepts by car leasing companies. For example, telematics was introduced in leased vehicles to monitor their usage on the job, another technological development was the installation of navigation in the leased vehicles making it more convenient for the lessor. People want change and with such facilities where there is an added benefit of not burning the pockets of customers, the lease scheme always works to hire cars on lease and cancel the contract anytime to shift on to better and advanced models of cars.[2]

The new trends dominating the global markets are the introduction of electric vehicle leasing and environment friendly cars that lead to sustainable development in the car manufacturing industries as well in the overall environmental situation. Such facilities encourage people to be more socially responsible and to do their bit towards the betterment of the society and also getting the leasing benefit out of it. Governments across the world are offering subsidies and tax benefits to encourage and boost the penetration of electric vehicles in their fleet. They have also introduced the concept of leasing old cars which helps reduce wastage as well as optimum usage. It is offered at a highly considerate premium and is attractive for low income customers. The global leasing market is fast moving with efficient strategies that ensures further growth too.

 

[3]Why has Leasing gained popularity in recent times?

GST introduction has come out to be a source of relief in time of distress for the Indian markets and consumers due to the stiff tax system of the country resulting in poor market functioning. With the introduction of ‘Goods and Services Tax’ on July 1, 2017, times have changed for the consumers, dealers as well as manufactures and has helped bring stability and balance in the economy by considering every person and their transaction at par, with the motive to bridge the gap between rich and poor in the long run. Evaluating their benefits below taking into consideration automobile industry:

  • To the consumers: The new tax regime has resulted in significant reduction in the tax rates imposed on the end consumers in comparison to the previous tax system.
  • To the dealers: The benefit of claiming the tax paid earlier benefits the dealers with the introduction of GST provides an added advantage to the dealers.
  • To the manufacturers: In recent times, car manufacturing companies have marked a fall in their sales which has led to dwindling profits. With the increasing exposure to car leasing, manufacturers have found their resort to stabilise their performance. This option induces customers to opt for leasing, thereby ensuring good business to the car manufacturers.
 CAR TYPE GST RATES COMPENSATION CESS TOTAL
Small Cars 28% 1% or 3% (depending on capacity) 29% or 31%
Mid-segment Cars 28% 15% 43%
Large Cars 28% 17% 45%
Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV’s) 28% 22% 50%
Electric Cars 12% N.A. 12%

Numerical Comparison

To understand the calculation of Loan EMIs and Lease rentals, we structure an example with the concept of residual model to distinguish the calculations of both the alternatives.

Any loan transaction requires an initial down payment to the seller after which installments follow on monthly/quarterly/annually basis. The down payment creates an extra outflow on part of the buyer on loan along with additional installments. While no down payment is required in case of a lease that makes its overall outflow on the lower side in comparison to a loan.

Plus, in case of a lease transaction, the lessor takes an exposure on the residual value of the asset, this brings down the lease rentals per month.

In the example below, with the assumption of different rates of residual value, we understand that with the every increase in the percentage of residual value, the lease rentals of the operating lease borne by lessee comes down. This implies lower the term of the lease contract, lesser value of the asset is used, and thus lesser are thee lease rentals.

Details of the Vehicle  
Unit Cost 1000000.00
GST rate 28%
Compensation Cess 17%
Rate of GST 45%
GST 450000.00
Total 1450000.90
When Residual Value is considered to be 20%
Operating lease arrangement    
Basic price 1000000.00  
Add GST on purchase (ITC eligible) 450000.00  
Funding Amount 1450000.00  
Processing fees 3.80% 55100.00
Expected Residual Value 20% 200000.00
Tenure 48  
IRR 18%  
Lease Rentals (RV not factored) ₹ 42,593.75  
Lease Rentals (before passing GST benefit) ₹ 39,718.75  
Input tax credit percentage 100%  
Less: GST benefit ₹ 9,375.00  
Lease Rentals (after passing GST benefit) ₹ 30,343.75  
Add: GST on rentals ₹ 13,654.69  
Total inflow ₹ 43,998.44  
 
Loan arrangement    
Loan amount 1450000.90  
Processing fees 3.80% 55100.0342
Expected Residual Value 0% 0
Tenure 48  
IRR 18%  
EMI ₹ 42,593.78  

 

When Residual Value is considered to be 25%
Loan arrangement    
Loan amount 1450000.90  
Processing fees 3.80% 55100.0342
Expected Residual Value 0% 0
Tenure 48  
IRR 18%  
EMI ₹ 42,593.78  

 

Operating lease arrangement    
Basic price 1000000.00  
Add GST on purchase (ITC eligible) 450000.00  
Funding Amount 1450000.00  
Processing fees 3.80% 55100.00
Expected Residual Value 25% 250000.00
Tenure 48  
IRR 18%  
Lease Rentals (RV not factored) ₹ 42,593.75  
Lease Rentals (before passing GST benefit) ₹ 39,000.00  
Input tax credit percentage 100%  
Less: GST benefit ₹ 9,375.00  
Lease Rentals (after passing GST benefit) ₹ 29,625.00  
Add: GST on rentals ₹ 13,331.25  
Total inflow ₹ 42,956.25  
When the Residual Value is considered to be 30%
Loan arrangement    
Loan amount 1450000.90  
Processing fees 3.80% 55100.0342
Expected Residual Value 0% 0
Tenure 48  
IRR 18%  
EMI ₹ 42,593.78  

 

Operating lease arrangement    
Basic price 1000000.00  
Add GST on purchase (ITC eligible) 450000.00  
Funding Amount 1450000.00  
Processing fees 3.80% 55100.00
Expected Residual Value 30% 300000.00
Tenure 48  
IRR 18%  
Lease Rentals (RV not factored) ₹ 42,593.75  
Lease Rentals (before passing GST benefit) ₹ 38,281.25  
Input tax credit percentage 100%  
Less: GST benefit ₹ 9,375.00  
Lease Rentals (after passing GST benefit) ₹ 28,906.25  
Add: GST on rentals ₹ 13,007.81  
Total inflow ₹ 41,914.06  

 

Conclusion

The major differentiating factors between a lease and a loan is that the former gives the right to use the asset without any upfront down payment, however, in case of the latter, there is an upfront down payment. Leasing works better when the lessor takes exposure on a handsome amount of residual value. Otherwise, it will turn out to be costlier than loan.

In the coming years, the car leasing market in India will be prospering as most car brands have now started to expand their services to even leasing now, which wasn’t prevalent until the last 4-5 years. With this competitive spirit, many more well developed brands would undertake this strategy to enhance customer base. The statistics of no: of cars being sold is going through a falling spree currently and is expected to fall further. But the leasing market will be flourishing on the other hand. It provides the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ to the customers as well as benefits the owner who still retain the ownership of the cars and gain benefit out of it.

 

[1] http://www.businessworld.in/article/-India-s-Car-Leasing-Market-Is-Worth-Rs-1-5K-Cr-Poised-For-15-20-CAGR-/27-05-2017-119041/

[2] www.statista.com

[3]http://www.cbic.gov.in/resources//htdocs-cbec/gst/notification05-compensation-cess-rate.pdf;jsessionid=B47A84DD8CE463AF356CD17117E2316B

[4]https://www.statista.com/outlook/270/119/car-rentals/india#market-arpu

 

 

Distinguishing between Options and Forwards

By Falak Dutta (rajeev@vinodkothari.com)

Ruling of Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court on March 27, 2019, in the case of Edelweiss Financial Services v. Percept Finserve Pvt. Ltd.[1], ruled out an award passed by a sole arbitrator with respect to a share purchase agreement (SPA). The High Court allowed enforcing of a put option clause to be exercised by Edelweiss, the appellant, to sell back the shares it had acquired from Percept Group, the respondent.

Before delving into the proceedings of the aforesaid case, it is important to understand certain basic concepts, to appreciate the ‘option clause’ in the case. An option is a derivative contract which gives the holder the right but not the obligation to buy (call) or sell (put) the underlying within a stipulated time in exchange for a premium. Options are not just traded on exchanges but are also used in debt instruments (eg. callable and puttable bonds), private equity and venture capital investment covenants. Even insurance is a type of option contract where the insured pays monthly premium in exchange of a monetary claim upon the future occurrence of a contingent event (accident, disease, damage to property etc.).

 

Facts of the case

Edelweiss Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. entered into a share purchase agreement (SPA) dated 8, December, 2007 with the Percept Group where it invested in the shares of Percept Group subject to a condition that the latter shall restructure itself as agreed between the parties followed by an IPO. Under the terms of the SPA, the appellant (Edelweiss) purchased 228,374 shares for a consideration of Rs. 20 crores. One of the conditions in the agreement, required Percept to entirely restructure by 31st December, 2007 and to provide proof of such restructuring. Upon failure of compliance by the respondent, the date was further extended to 30 June, 2008 with obligation to provide documentary evidence of completion by 15th, July 2008. Upon non-fulfillment within the extended date, Edelweiss had the option to re-sell the shares to Percept, where Percept was obligated to purchase the shares at a price which gave the appellant an internal rate of return of 10% on the original purchase price.

As was the case, Percept failed to restructure itself within the stipulated time. Subsequently in view of this breach Edelweiss exercised the put option and Percept was required to buy back the shares for a total consideration of Rs. 22 crores. Since the respondent refused to comply the appellant invoked the arbitration clause in the SPA and a sole arbitrator was appointed to adjudicate the dispute. The arbitrator submitted that despite Percept being in breach of the conditions in the SPA, the petitioner’s claim to exercise the put option was illegal and unenforceable, being in conflict with the Securities Contracts regulation Act (SCRA), 1956. The unenforceability was proposed on two grounds. First, for the clause being a forward contract prohibited under Section 16 of SCRA read with SEBI March 2000 notification, which recognizes only spot delivery transactions to be valid. Secondly these clauses were illegal because they contained an option concerning a future purchase of shares and were thus a derivatives contract not traded on a recognized stock exchange and thus were illegal under Section 18 of SCRA, which deals with derivative trading.

Aggrieved by the arbitrator’s order, Edelweiss challenged it before the Bombay High Court under section 34 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996.

 

The Judgement

The Bombay High Court observed the reasoning of the order by the arbitrator and the contentions made by Percept. The said order confirmed the breach caused by Percept, but found the particular clauses of put option in the SPA to be illegal under two grounds as mentioned earlier. The Court divided the judgement along the sections involved.

The first of the arbitrator’s conclusion was found untenable when referred to the judgement in the case of MCX Stock Exchange Ltd. vs. SEBI [2]which deals with such a purchase option as in the present case. The Court observed that the put option clause contained in the SPA cannot be a derivatives contract prohibited by SCRA, because there was no present obligation at all and the obligation arose by reason of a contingency occurring in the future. The contract only came into being upon the following two conditions being met: (i) failure of the condition attributable to Percept (ii) exercise of the option by Edelweiss upon such failure. Whereas a forward contract is an unconditional obligation, the option in the SPA only comes into being when the aforesaid conditions are met. Thus, the arbitrator’s claim of the clause being a forward contract disregards the law stated by the Court in MCX Stock (supra).

Subsequently, respondent (Percept Group) challenged the relevance of the MCX Stock case to the present one. In the MCX Stock Exchange case, upon the exercise of the option the contract would be fulfilled by means of a spot delivery, that is, by immediate settlement. Whereas Edelweiss’s letter by which it exercised the put option required the shares to be re-purchased with immediate effect or before 12 Jan, 2009. This deferral of repurchase upon exercise of the option was not part of the MCX Stock Exchange case’s option clause and hence is not comparable to the present case.

This too was disregarded by the Court on the ground:

“It is submitted that in as much as this exercise of options demands repurchase on or before a future date, it is not a contract excepted by the circular of the SEBI dated 1 March, 2000.

Just because the original vendor of securities is given an option to complete repurchase of securities by a particular date it cannot be said that the contract for repurchase is on any basis other than spot delivery.

There is nothing to suggest that there is any time lag between payment of price and delivery of shares.”

Now, this brings us to the second leg of the arbitrator’s award regarding the illegality and unenforceability of the SPA option on account of breach of Section 18A of SCRA, which deals in derivative trading. The following is an excerpt from Section 18A:

Contracts in derivative. — Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, contracts in derivative shall be legal and valid if such contracts are—

(a)Traded on a recognized stock exchange;

(b) Settled on the clearing house of the recognized stock exchange. In accordance with the rules and bye-laws of such stock exchange.

The respondent appeals that as the put option was not of a recognized stock exchange, it stands unenforceable and illegal. In response, the court submitted that the contract does contain a put option in securities which the holder may or may not exercise. But the real question is whether such option or its exercise is illegal? The presence of the option does not make it bad or impermissible.

“What the law prohibits is not entering into a call or put option per se; what it prohibits is trading or dealing in such option treating it as a security. Only when it is traded or dealt with, it attracts the embargo of law as a derivative, that is to say, a security derived from an underlying debt or equity instrument.”

There was further cross objections filed by the respondent but it was ruled out under Section 34 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, which deals with the application for setting aside arbitral award. Since the provisions of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 are not applicable to the proceedings under Section 34 and the section itself does not make any provision for filing of cross objections, the appeal was ruled out.

Conclusion

This Bombay High Court ruling in favor of Edelweiss provides an important distinction of options, from forward contracts. It highlighted that although both options and forwards are commonly categorized as derivatives, they share an important difference. On one hand, a forward contract contains a contractual obligation to buy or sell, on the other hand, the option gives the holder the right or choice but not the obligation to do the same. Options have always been integral to finance, routinely appearing in corporate covenants and contracts. Options are widely observed in mezzanine financing, private equity, start-up and venture funding among others. Given the Court’s distinction of forwards from options in their very essence and nature, the author believes this ruling is likely to be useful and a point of reference in future derivative litigations.

 

[1]https://bombayhighcourt.nic.in/generatenewauth.php?auth=cGF0aD0uL2RhdGEvanVkZ2VtZW50cy8yMDE5LyZmbmFtZT1PU0FSQlAxNDgxMTMucGRmJnNtZmxhZz1OJnJqdWRkYXRlPSZ1cGxvYWRkdD0wMi8wNC8yMDE5JnNwYXNzcGhyYXNlPTA0MDYxOTEwMDAyOQ==

[2] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/101113552/

Union Budget 2019-20: Impact on Corporate and Financial sector

RBI to strengthen corporate governance for Core Investment Companies.

Vinod Kothari

As a part of the Bi-monthly Monetary Policy on 6th June, 2019, the RBI’s review of Development and Regulatory Policies [https://rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_PressReleaseDisplay.aspx?prid=47226] proposed to set up a working group to strengthen the regulatory framework for core investment companies (CICs). The RBI states: “Over the years, corporate group structures have become more complex involving multiple layering and leveraging, which has led to greater inter-connectedness to the financial system through their access to public funds. Further, in light of recent developments, there is a need to strengthen the corporate governance framework of CICs. Accordingly, it has been decided to set up a Working Group to review the regulatory guidelines and supervisory framework applicable to CICs.”

Core investment companies are group holding vehicles, which hold equities of operating or financial companies in a business group. These companies also give financial support in form of loans to group companies. However, CICs are barred from dealing with companies outside the group or engaging in any other business operation.

Currently as per the data as on 30th April, 2019, there are only 58 registered CICs in the country. There may be some unregistered CICs as well, since those not having “public funds” do not require registration.

If a CIC is not holding “public funds” (a broad term that includes bank loans, inter-corporate deposits, NCDs, CP, etc.), the CIC is exempt from registration requirement. Presumably such CICs are also excluded from any regulatory sanctions of the RBI as well. However, it is quite common for CICs to access bank loans or have other forms of debt for funding their investments. Such CICs require registration and come under the regulatory framework of the RBI, if their assets are worth Rs 100 crores or more.

Corporate governance norms applicable to systemically important NBFCs are currently not applicable to CICs.

The RBI has observed that CICs are engaged in layering of leverage. This observation is correct, as very often, banks and other lenders might have lent to CICs. The CICs, with borrowed money, use the same for infusing capital at the operating level below, which, once again, becomes the basis for leveraging. Thus, leveraged funds become basis for leverage, thereby creating multiple layers of leverage.

While agreeing with the contention of the RBI, one would like to mention that currently, the regulatory definition of CICs is so stringent that many of the group holding companies qualify as “investment companies” (now, credit and investment companies) and not CICs. There is a need to reduce the qualifying criteria for definition of CICs to 50% of investments in equities of group companies. This would ensure that a large number of “investment companies” will qualify as CICs, based on predominance of their investments, and would be viewed and regulated as such.

Prominent among the registered CICs are entities like Tata Sons, L&T Finance Holdings, JSW Investments, etc. The extension of corporate governance norms to CICs is unlikely to benefit any, but impact all.

The Reserve Bank has accordingly constituted the Working Group to Review Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for Core Investment Companies on 3rd July, 2019 [https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR43DDEE37027375423E989F2C08B3491F4F.PDF]. The Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Working Group are given below:

  • To examine the current regulatory framework for CICs in terms of adequacy, efficacy and effectiveness of every component thereof and suggest changes therein.
  • To assess the appropriateness of and suggest changes to the current approach of the Reserve Bank of India towards registration of CICs including the practice of multiple CICs being allowed within a group.
  • To suggest measures to strengthen corporate governance and disclosure requirements for CICs
  • To assess the adequacy of supervisory returns submitted by CICs and suggest changes therein
  • To suggest appropriate measures to enhance RBI’s off-sight surveillance and on-site supervision over CICs.
  • Any other matter incidental to the above.

As per the press release, the Working Group shall submit its report by October 31, 2019.

ICSI Auditing standards -A guidance to the Members in Practice

By Kanakprabha Jethani | Executive

Kanak@vinodkothari.com

Background

ICSI has recently issued four Auditing Standards[1] (‘Standards’) for the members in practice namely:

  • CSAS-1 – Auditing Standard on Audit Engagement
  • CSAS-2 – Auditing Standard on Audit Process and Documentation
  • CSAS-3 – Auditing Standard on Forming of Opinion
  • CSAS-4 – Auditing Standard on Secretarial Audit

in order to enable them to carry out the audit engagements more effectively. The first three Standards will be applicable to all kind of audit engagements and the fourth one will specifically be applicable for the Secretarial Audit under Section 204 of the Companies Act, 2013. In terms of ICSI’s own language, the Standards shall be mandatorily effective from the audit engagements accepted on or after 1st April, 2020.

Objective of the Standards

Seemingly, ICSI is seeking to promote best auditing practices, uniformity and consistency in conduct of the audits by the members in practice. These are expected to strengthen the audit process and corporate governance practices. Since, varied audit practices are being carried over by different auditors, monitoring of audit process becomes cumbersome and troublesome at the same time. These Standards are expected to harmonise the audit practices among the auditors all over the country. The objective is to streamline and enable members to effectively undertake secretarial audit and ensure compliance. It is also expected that these Standards will enhance the quality of compliance.

Applicability of Standards

These Standards shall be effective and recommendatory to be accepted by the auditors on or after 1st July 2019. However, the same shall be mandatorily applicable to the audit assignments obtained on or after 1st April 2020.

Whether these Standards are statutorily required?

In order to be statutorily applicable and binding, legal backing to the provision is required. For example, for the Secretarial Standard-1 and secretarial Standard-2 have a backing of legal provision i.e. Section 118 of the Companies Act 2013. Section 118(10) provides that every company shall observe secretarial standards with respect to general and Board meetings specified by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India. In compliance of aforesaid section, companies follow these two secretarial standards. The same is not the case for other secretarial standards issued by ICSI such as, Secretarial Standard -3 relating to Dividend or Secretarial Standard-4 relating to maintenance of registers and records and hence purely voluntary.

Likewise, the Auditing standards issued by ICSI also do not carry a legal backing as of now though the same is being brought in by ICSI with an intent to make it mandatory.

What are the various audits a PCS can undertake?

A Practising Company Secretary is authorised to undertake various audits as prescribed under the Companies Act 2013, SEBI regulations and other applicable laws, some of which are as under:

  • Secretarial Audit as per provisions of Section 204 of the Companies Act 2013;
  • Half-yearly certificate certifying that all share certificates were issued by Share transfer Agent/ Registrar and transfer Agent within 30 days of lodgement of transfer as provided under regulation 40(9) of SEBI(Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations;
  • Annual Secretarial Compliance Report as per SEBI Listing Regulations;
  • Half-yearly certification of maintenance of 100% asset cover for non-convertible debt securities as per regulation 56(d) of SEBI(Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations;
  • Certificate regarding compliance of conditions of corporate governance as per SEBI Listing Regulations;
  • Share Reconciliation Certificate as per SEBI (Depositories and Participants) Regulations, 2018 etc.

These Standards shall be applicable to all these audits along with any other audit required to be done by PCS. Thus, for the purposes of these Standards, ‘Auditor’ shall mean a Practising Company Secretary undertaking any of such audits.

The list of TO DO’s for auditors

CSAS-1 – AUDITING STANDARD ON AUDIT ENGAGEMENT

This deals with roles and responsibilities of Auditor undertaking audit engagement. They also elaborates procedures and principles for entering into agreement with appointing authority.

Eligibility to take audit engagement

  • Auditor shall not hold, singly or along with partners, spouse, parent, sibling, and child of such person or of the spouse, any of whom is either dependent financially on such person, more than 2% in the paid up share capital or shares of nominal value of Rs. 50,000, whichever is lower or more than 2% voting power in the Auditee, as the case may be.
  • Auditor shall not be indebted to the Auditee for an amount of five lakh rupees or more except if such indebtedness is arising out of ordinary course of business.
  • If an Auditor was in employment of the Auditee, its holding or subsidiary company and 2 (two) years must have lapsed from the date of cessation of employment.

Things to do pursuant to CSAS-1:

  • Ensure that appointment is made as per provisions of Companies Act 2013 and rules made thereunder.
  • Submit eligibility certificate to appointing authority.
  • Obtain audit engagement letter and copy of resolution passed by appointing authority and provide acceptance thereto.
  • Ensure audit engagement letter includes:
  1. The objective and scope of the audit; if the same has been established by law, reference to relevant provisions must be stated.
  2. The responsibilities of the Auditor and the Auditee;
  3. Written representations provided and/or to be provided by the Management to the Auditor, including particulars of the Predecessor or Previous Auditor;
  4. The period within which the audit report shall be submitted by the Auditor, along with milestones, if any;
  5. The commercial terms regarding audit fees and reimbursement of out of pocket expenses in connection with the audit;
  6. Limitations of audit, if any.
  • Intimate previous auditor about such engagement, in writing.
  • Ensure that such engagement is within the limits prescribed by ICSI from time to time.
  • Maintain confidentiality of information obtained during the course of audit unless there is a legal obligation to disclose such information. Also, ensure that employees, staff and other team members also be bound by duty of confidentiality.
  • Do not agree to change in terms of engagement unless there is reasonable justification for doing so.
  • If terms of appointment are changed resulting in lower level of assurance, it shall be accepted only after considering the appropriateness of the same.
  • Any changes in terms of engagement must be agreed by way of supplementary or revised engagement letter.

 

CSAS-2 AUDITING STANDARD ON AUDIT PROCESS AND DOCUMENTATION

This Standard deals with the roles and responsibilities of Auditor with respect to maintenance of proper audit records that provides-

  • sufficient and appropriate record to form the basis for the Auditor’s Report; and
  • evidence that the audit was planned and performed in accordance with the applicable Auditing Standards and statutory requirements.

Things to do pursuant to CSAS-2

  • Formulate an audit plan as per terms of audit engagement.
  • Ensure adherence to audit plan.
  • Conduct risk assessment of auditee considering business, environmental and organisational structure and compliance requirements.
  • Evaluate high-risk areas relating to internal control systems, transparency, prudence, probity, changes in compliance team etc.
  • Obtain sufficient information of the auditee for conduct of audit.
  • Make use of systematic and comprehensive checklists.
  • Obtain necessary evidence and evaluate the same so as to support the opinion. This shall be adequately documented in audit working papers.
  • Obtain third-party confirmations wherever required.
  • Document discussions with management of the auditee in significant matters.
  • Collate the documentation for records within 45 days of date of signing of auditor’s report.
  • Maintain documentation in physical or electronic form for a period of 8 years from date of signing of auditor’s report.

Features of audit plan

  • The audit shall be planned in a manner which ensures that qualitative audit is carried out in an efficient, effective and timely manner.
  • Audit planning shall ensure that appropriate attention is accorded to crucial areas of audit and significant issues are identified in a timely manner.
  • Audit plan should be based on professional scepticism, so that it is possible to exercise professional judgment in an objective manner.

CSAS-3 – Auditing Standard on Forming of Opinion

This Standard provides details about the manner of evaluation of conclusions derived out of audit evidence which leads to formation of Auditor’s opinion.

Things to do pursuant to CSAS-3

  • Consider materiality while forming opinion.
  • Consider all relevant audit evidence before issuing audit report.
  • Apply professional judgement and scepticism to ensure evidence is factually correct.
  • Prepare audit report within the agreed time-frame.
  • Verify accuracy of facts and responses from concerned persons.
  • Adhere to generally accepted principles and practices in relation to audit process.
  • Indicate if any third-party report or opinion is being relied on.
  • Indicate if third-party report is provided by the auditee and also consider important findings of third party.
  • Carry out a supplemental test to check veracity of third-party report.
  • Express unmodified opinion if satisfied that applicable laws have been duly complied with and relevant records are free from misstatement.
  • Express modified opinion in bold or italic letters. Modified opinion is to be issued if:
    • non-compliance of applicable laws is found,
    • relevant records aren’t free from misstatement,
    • sufficient and appropriate audit evidence to ensure the above is not available.

 

 

  • Ask auditee to remove any such limitation on scope of audit which is likely to make the Auditor give modified opinion or disclaimer.
  • Give unmodified opinion, if in case of absence of sufficient and appropriate evidence, Auditor can conclude that effects of unavailability of such evidence will be non-material. However, if the effects are likely to be material, the auditor shall express disclaimer of opinion.

Format of audit report

  • The report shall be addressed to appointing authority unless the terms of engagement provide otherwise.
  • Report must be detailed. Specific formats, if any, must be followed.
  • Provide annexures for detailing of certain aspects, wherever necessary.
  • Include a section named Auditor’s responsibility in the audit report.
  • This section shall state that the audit was conducted in accordance with applicable Standards.
  • The report shall state that due to the inherent limitations of an audit, there is an unavoidable risk that some material misstatements or material non-compliances may not be detected, even though the audit is properly planned and performed.
  • Signature block shall mention name of auditor/firm, certificate of practice number/registration number and membership number of the auditor.
  • Mention clearly the date and place of signing audit report.

CSAS-4 – Auditing Standard on Secretarial Audit

This Standard lays down the manner of evaluation of statutory compliances and corporate conduct in the process of doing secretarial audit u/s 204 of the Companies Act, 2013. It gives a broad structure to the audit process.

Things to do pursuant to CSAS-4

  • Take note of laws applicable to the auditee. This includes specific laws as well as general laws.
  • Review Memorandum of Association, Articles of Association, statutory books, disclosure by the auditee etc.
  • Identify events and corporate actions that took place in the audit period by reviewing website of the auditee, disclosures made to stock exchanges, statutory records of the auditee etc.
  • Verify event based as well as calendar compliances of the auditee.
  • Verify composition of Board of directors is in compliance with applicable rules and regulations i.e. optimum combination and strength is maintained and directors are not disqualified.
  • Ensure formation of required committees and proper composition of such committees.
  • Ensure decisions by board of directors are taken in compliance with the law i.e. in properly constituted meeting or by circulation.
  • Ensure that systems of compliance are adequate and effective.
  • Analyse instances of receipt of show cause notices, prosecutions initiated, fee or penalty levied etc.
  • Collect further evidence and conduct in-depth checking if a fraud is suspected.
  • If there is a sufficient reason to believe that a fraud has been committed, the same shall be reported to Audit Committee/Board/Central Government as per the process laid down under the Companies Act, 2013. Also, the same shall be included in Secretarial Audit Report.
  • Verify the comments received on reporting fraud.
  • Include fraud detected by other auditor in the audit report.
  • Report all the events that affect auditee’s going concern or alters the charter or capital structure or management or business operation or control, etc.

Conclusion

These Standards provide a broad structure to the audit process and direction as to proceeding the audit. Having a direction to proceed will make the audit more systematic. To establish these structures and systems would initially require plenty of clerical nature work. However, this is a one-time labour to be put in for structuring all the future audits.

These Standards are issued with a motive to enhance the level and quality of compliance and at the same time harmonise the audit practices being followed by various auditors. Unity of procedures ensures clarity to the auditee which enables them to ensure systematic compliance. Application of these Standards is believed to be beneficial for the Auditors as well as the companies and regulators in the long run.

[1] https://www.icsi.edu/media/webmodules/ICSI_Auditing_Standards.pdf

Project Rupee Raftaar: An Analysis

-Kanakprabha Jethani | Executive

Vinod Kothari Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

kanak@vinodkothari.com, finserv@vinodkothari.com

BACKGROUND

The Working Group on Developing Avenues for Aircraft Financing and Leasing Activities in India, constituted by Ministry of Civil Aviation submitted its report[1] on measures for developing this industry in the country. The Working Group was formed to examine the regulatory framework relating to financing and leasing of aircrafts. The idea was derived from the Cape Town convention and it has also been proposed to enact a bill in order to fully implement the convention. This project is based on the theme “Flying for All”. The Indian civil aviation market has been exhibiting tremendous growth for past years. There is an overwhelming increase in demand for passenger transportation for which airlines in India have placed orders for more than 1000 aircrafts. Moreover, Indian airlines have been relying on other countries for financing acquisition of aircrafts on export credit, loan or lease basis. This hair-triggers the need for India to have in place its own systems for financing of such acquisitions.

One of the motivations of the project is to ensure that the dependence of Indian aviation industry on import leases is reduced. Currently more than 90% of the aircrafts operating in the country are on import lease basis, and there is a huge monthly outflow of foreign exchange by way of lease rentals, which is not reported as ECB, since it is an operating expense.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE TO AIRCRAFT FINANCING AND LEASING

The key players in global aircraft financing and leasing market are Ireland and the US. Countries like China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan are emerging competitors in the market. The structures of aircraft financing, however, differ largely in all of these countries. The overall trends in the global arena can be evaluated on following bases:

Regional Outlook: through a research conducted for the Aviation Industry Leaders Report[2], it was concluded that North America is viewed as the most optimistic market player. Europe shows mixed signals due to market being strong and simultaneous slowing down of economy and other political issues. The Middle Eastern countries show a slow pace of growth and their models exhibit signs of stress. African airline market still has a lot of unrealised potential.

Financing Trends: sale and lease back transactions have become the most frequently used medium of aircraft finance over the world. Other forms of financing such as commercial bank debt, pre-delivering payment financing etc. have picked up pace. Also, traditional forms of financing such as export credit continue to be in operation but with reducing levels. Overall, the capital market remains very active and innovative in the aircraft finance sector.

Technology: new technology in aircrafts is being introduced frequently. However, implementation and commercialisation of the same continues to be a challenge. The Aviation Working Group’s Global Aircraft Trading System (GATS) proposed digitisation of transfer of lease deed ownership system which shall be expected to be activated by end of the year 2019.

CURRENT SCENARIO OF AIRCRAFT FINANCING IN INDIA

In terms of growth and advancement, India is far behind other Asian economies such as China, Singapore and Hong Kong. However, the Indian Aviation market has shown exponential rise in the past few years with an annual growth rate of 18.86% in 2017-18 and overall growth of 16.08% in passenger traffic. From 74 operational airports in 2013, it has reached a height of 101 operational airports in 2016. Expectations of having 190-200 operational airports by the end of 2040 are pointed out through various studies.

Currently, India has large aircraft order books, virtually all of which are leased through leasing companies located offshore. Under the regional connectivity scheme Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), the government has decide to lease out operations, maintenance, and development of certain airports under Public private Partnership (PPP) model.

Overall, India has immense potential for growth in aviation sector but little means to aid the growth. It is in need of systems that aid the growth in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

AIRCRAFT FINANCING STRUCTURE

Why is it needed?

In the view of increasing demand and non-availability of own sources of aircraft financing, it is essential for India to set up its own structures for the same. Moreover, civil aviation sector is an important sector for development of the economy. In the civil aviation industry, aircraft financing is the most profitable segment and there are no entities in the country exploring this line of business. All the benefits from this gap are being enjoyed by foreign entities.

What will be the structure?

For this structure, GIFT-CITY in Gujarat has been identified as preferred destination for initiation of operations in this industry as it offers a tax regime competitive to that of leasing companies all over the world.

Barriers in the structure

The aforementioned structure will face following barriers:

  • GAAR prevents Indian financers from taking advantage of other jurisdictions.
  • Aircraft financing is not a specifically permitted activity for banks.
  • Units operating in GIFT-CITY not permitted to undertake aircraft financing.
  • Framework for setting-up of NBFCs in GIFT-CITY and provisions as to treatment of income from operating lease is not provided.
  • Taxes and duties:
  • GST of 5% on import of aircraft
  • GST on lease rentals
  • Interest amount which forms part of lease rentals in case of financial lease is not eligible for any tax benefit.
  • No exemptions from withholding taxes
  • Stamp duty on instruments and documents executed.

The working group has proposed corresponding changes and amendments to be made to overcome these barriers. The response of relevant authorities is awaited.

Tax implications of the structure

Particulars

Tax rates

IFSC-GIFT CITY (proposed structure) INDIA (not following the structure)
INCOME TAX
Corporate Tax Rate: 34.94

o   Year 1 to 5

0.00

o   Year 6 to 10

17.47

o   Year 11 onwards

34.94
Minimum Alternate Tax 10.48 21.55
Capital gains on sale of aircraft 0.00 34.94
Withholding tax

o   Operating lease rentals

0.00 2.00

o   Interest payment (USD debt)

0.00 5.46

o   Interest payment (INR debt)

0.00 0.00

o   Other payments

0.00 10.00
Dividend Distribution Tax nil 20.56
GOODS AND SERVICES TAX
Purchase of aircraft 0.00 0.00
Operating lease rentals 0.00 5.00
Underfinance lease(interest portion) 0.00 5.00
Other services nil 18.00
Stamp duty on lease related documents 0.00 3.00

ANALYSIS OF TAX IMPLICATIONS UNDER VARIOUS MODELS OF FINANCING

Following table shows an analysis of indirect tax implications from the point of view of lessee and compares the proposed structure with the existing practice of financing as well as situation if financing is done outside the proposed structure but in India.

This table is based on following assumptions:

  • Value of aircraft- Rs.3500 crores
  • Residual value- Rs.500 crores
  • Rate of interest- 7.5%
  • Lease tenure- 25 years
  • Processing fee- 2%

On the aforesaid assumptions, lease rental per annum would amount to Rs.306.63 crores

Amount (in Rs. crores)

Tax expenditure Ireland IFSC-GIFT CITY Rest of India
GST on lease rentals 15.3315 0.00 15.3315
Stamp duty 0.00 0.00 105
GST on other services 0.00 nil 12.6
Overall indirect tax expenditure 15.3315 0.00 27.9315

OVERCOMING THE BARRIERS

Recommendations have been made by the Working Group to various regulatory authorities in order to overcome various barriers that are a hindrance to establishment of India’s own structure of aircraft financing and leasing. Following table shows some of the major recommendations:

Authority Recommendations
RBI Confirm that the term “equipment” includes aircrafts or notify aircraft financing and leasing as permitted activity for banks or subsidiaries of banks.
Amend IBU circular to include equipment leasing and investment in capital of leasing entities in scope of activities of banks
Confirm that equipment leasing entities shall be eligible to register as NBFC in IFSC
Issue specific directions in regard to investment in or by foreign entities engaged in aircraft financing and leasing activities.
Tax authorities Capital gains on sale of leased aircrafts should be fully exempted.
GST on leasing aircraft should be made zero-rated.
Nil withholding tax should be specified for airline companies.
Transfer/novation of aircraft financing / leasing contracts to units in an IFSC should not be under the purview of GAAR, for both the lessee and lessor
SEBI Amend SEBI (AIF) Regulations to create a separate category of AIFs for investment in aircraft financing/leasing activities or permit greater concentration of investment in aircraft financing/leasing entities.
Clarify whether 25% investment cap by AIFs applies on investment in equipment and grant additional relaxations to AIFs investing in aircraft financing activities.
Create separate category of mutual funds of investment in entities engaged in aircraft financing and leasing activities.
Clarify which institution can invest in entities registered in IFSC.
IRDAI Amend IRDAI regulations permitting companies set up in IFSC to invest in entities engaged in aircraft financing and leasing activities.
Clarify whether investment of funds of policyholders’ in entities registered in IFSC be considered as funds invested in India only.
Others Clarify under aircraft rules that aircrafts of lessors cannot be detained against any statutory or other outstanding dues.
Entities like pension funds, insurance companies, employee provident fund organisations be allowed to invest directly or indirectly in aircraft financing and leasing activities.
SARFAESI Act not be applicable to aircrafts.
Gujarat Stamp Act to exempt aircraft financing and leasing from its purview.
Permit airlines to set up branch in IFSC.

CONCLUSION

It is absolutely evident that aircraft industry is on upsurge and will continue to be rising globally in the coming years. To meet the rising demand and expand the country’s hold in the aviation market the proposed structure provides a well-established groundwork through the proposed structure. All recommendations, if accepted and implemented in a proper manner, will enable India to pioneer a very profitable and growth-oriented aviation market.

 

[1] https://www.globalaviationsummit.in/documents/PROJECTRUPEERAFTAAR.pdf

[2] https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/ie/pdf/2019/01/ie-aviation-industry-leaders-report-2019.pdf