Understanding the Mechanics of the $2 Trillion Stimulus Bill — How it Works, Who’s Covered and What Comes Next

Understanding the Mechanics of the $2 Trillion Stimulus Bill -- How it Works, Who's Covered and What Comes Next

On April 1, former U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma joined USISPF on a webinar to outline the $2 trillion stimulus bill recently passed by the U.S. Congress. He outlined for members the scope of the CARES Act, including relief for individuals and families, grants for small businesses, unemployment compensation, and allocations to hospitals, states, and local governments for COVID-19 response measures.

The presentation can be downloaded from the link below.

USISPF and KPMG Webinar on Multilateral Instruments (MLI)

USISPF and KPMG Webinar on Multilateral Instruments (MLI)

On March 31, USISPF and KPMG co-hosted a webinar on the Multilateral Instrument which will enter into force for India on April 1, 2020. The Multilateral Instrument (MLI) was ratified in 2017 as a result of OECD’s BEPS initiative to modify tax treaties and tackle tax avoidance. Although the U.S. is not a signatory to the MLI, U.S. multinationals investing in India through intermediary jurisdictions may be impacted by the new rules.

Himanshu Parekh and Naveen Gupta from KPMG provided insights on the challenges presented by the new rules for the applicability of tax treaties under MLI, and ways that businesses can respond to these challenges. They highlighted the impact of General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) and the Principle Purpose Test (PPT) on tax authorities’ ability to invalidate the receipt of tax treaty benefits on non-applicable transactions, and outlined the MLI’s new rules on the avoidance of permanent establishment (PE) status, regarding the independence of agents, preparatory and auxiliary testing, and artificial contract splitting.

In responding to the challenges of this new framework, Parekh and Gupta advised companies to be proactive in performing impact analysis for their company, preparing documentation on cross-border investments, and exploring alternative remedies.

USISPF U.S. Immigration Briefing with Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen, & Loewy, LLP

USISPF U.S. Immigration Briefing with Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen, & Loewy, LLP

On March 31, USISPF hosted a webinar featuring Scott Fitzgerald, Sapna Annicelli, and Oishika Gupta from Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen, & Loewy, LLP, who shared updates on U.S. immigration law in the time of coronavirus.

With travel restrictions around the world making it difficult for foreign nations from some countries to leave the U.S., the USCIS has allowed for foreign nations in the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to stay for 30 days beyond the 90 days allowed under VWP.

Other rules have changed in response to the widespread adoption of social distancing measures, such as the use of e-verification for Form I-9, electronic methods to post Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), the reuse of previously submitted biometric data for Form I-765, and the use of scanned signatures on USCIS filings. With many companies furloughing or laying off workers, employers should also be aware about the rules associated with different visa categories.

Finally, the coronavirus pandemic means that USCIS offices, as well as U.S. consulates around the world, are temporarily closed, which means that in-person green card interviews and visa application appointments are suspended.

Lessons Learned from Past Crises: A Conversation with John Chambers, Founder and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Chairman, US-India Strategic Partnership Forum

Lessons Learned from Past Crises: A Conversation with John Chambers, Founder and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Chairman, US-India Strategic Partnership Forum

On March 30, John Chambers joined Mukesh Aghi, the president and CEO of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership (USISPF) to share his insights on effective leadership during times of crisis, gained from his experience as CEO of Cisco Systems, and now, as the founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures.

Chambers started off the conversation by sharing some basic rules for leading during a crisis. In terms of developing a strategy to guide their company through a period of crisis, he advised leaders to understand how much of the crisis at hand is self-inflicted or market-driven, have five to seven ‘focus areas’ to address with their strategy, and think ahead to where their company will be on the other side of the crisis. He also highlighted the importance of communication and company culture.

During the webinar’s question and answer period, discussion focused both on Chambers’ general advice for business leaders in times of crisis, and on issues specific to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked about how leaders should communicate to their employees that they care in times of crisis with a high human impact, such as this one, Chambers advised that such an approach should be framed through an individual company’s culture, but that it is important to be candid and communicate with employees. In response to a question on the habits a leader should cultivate during times of crisis, he emphasized the importance of visibility, communication, and strategy.

On the topic of the current coronavirus pandemic, he praised Prime Minister Modi’s response to COVID-19 in India as well as the U.S. government’s recently announced economic stimulus package, and highlighted the opportunity for the U.S. and India to lead through the example of their strategic partnership, to avoid a post-coronavirus world in which countries refuse to cooperate. He also highlighted the importance of not criticizing organizations such as the WHO for the challenges they face in responding to the current crisis, and instead, focus on learning from those challenges in order to respond more effectively in the future.

He advised that the impact of the coronavirus on companies’ global supply chains is a reminder to not become overdependent on one country for their inputs, stating that “it is important to have multiple sources for every major import.” However, this is also an opportunity for India to grow in its role in the global supply chain. In light of many countries around the world banning the export of medical equipment and supplies, he stated that it is important to learn how to share these resources, and that this is an opportunity for manufacturing companies to step forward and utilize their capabilities to meet the demand for medical infrastructure. The human impact of the COVID-19 crisis makes it particularly important for companies to ‘give back’ to their communities.

On addressing the current crisis itself, Chambers stated that the effectiveness of responses will depend on how quickly countries are able to ‘flatten the curve’ of the spread of COVID-19, and the cooperation of banks, companies, and governments in economic stimulus efforts. 

When asked what the business world may look like after the end of the current crisis, Chambers said that video conferencing will likely remain as a “new norm.” He also said that this crisis will shape the next generation of companies, and that we will emerge from this crisis as a “smarter world.”

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

March 31, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

Today, Finance Minster Nirmala Sitharaman along with G20 finance ministers and central bankers participated in a virtual meeting to discuss the economic impact of the global pandemic, coordinate efforts to combat the situation, and discuss next steps in the G20 action plan. Read the G20 press release hereFinance Minister Sitharaman’s remarks here, and remarks by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva’s remarks here.

Additionally, the Finance Ministry issued an ordinance today, providing relaxation of certain laws to ease compliance burden. The ordinance provides for extension of various time limits under the Taxation and Benami Acts. See press release here.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has clarified that company’s contributions to the PM CARES Fund over and above the minimum prescribed corporate social responsibility (CSR) spends can be offset against their CSR obligations of subsequent years. See notice here.

Action Required: In the wake of this pandemic, many of our member companies are doing tremendous work to help the Government of India. Please share your social initiatives and ongoing support for communities in India during this pandemic at [email protected]

Wishing you and your families good health. 

-Team USISPF

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum 

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

March 29, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

Today, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued additional guidelines on the movement of essential goods and services issued on March 24 and March 25, stating that transportation of all goods will now be allowed without the distinction of “essential and non-essential”. [See notification here]

Additionally, per recent directives by the Government of India, states and union territories will have to ensure safety for migrant workers by ensuring arrangement of shelters, and employers are requested to pay their workers with no wage deductions due to the lockdown. See consolidated notice here.

Wishing you all good health in these unprecedented circumstances.

-Team USISPF 

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum 

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

March 27, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

This morning [March 27], RBI Governor, Shaktikanta Das addressed the media, announcing measures to safeguard the Indian economy from the impact of the pandemic by way of:

  • Expanding liquidity in the system to ensure that financial markets and institutions are able to function normally in the face of COVID-related dislocations;
  • Reinforcing monetary transmission so that bank credit flows on easier terms are sustained to those who have been affected by the pandemic;
  • Easing financial stress caused by COVID-19 disruptions by relaxing repayment pressures and improving access to working capital; and
  • Improving the functioning of markets in view of the high volatility experienced with the onset and spread of the pandemic.

See press release here. Please reach out to Nelson Chaudhuri for further details on the new provisions. 

Additionally, since yesterday, the Ministry of Home Affairs has now included several other categories of essential goods and services, related to agricultural operations, exempted under the Disaster Management Act. See addendum here.

Wishing you all good health!

-Team USISPF

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum 

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

March 26, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

This morning [March 26], India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled Rs 1.7 lakh-crore fiscal stimulus package to help low income and migrant workers tackle the economic fallout arising from the COVID-19 outbreak by providing direct cash transfers and food-security related measures. See press release here. Prime Minister Modi also led a virtual G20 leaders’ summit to forge a globally coordinated response against COVID-19. See press release here.

Action required: We would like to showcase efforts being undertaken by our members companies to help governments in India, United States, and across the world combat COVID-19. Please share your efforts with us at [email protected]

We are tracking some of the recent orders and notifications issued by the Government of India for your reference:

  • Ministry of Home Affairs has issued standard operating procedures for maintaining supply of essential goods and services during the lockdown. See guidelines here.

Wishing you all good health!

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum 

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

March 25, 2020

Alert: India Coronavirus Update

Following the announcement of a 21 day nationwide lockdown in India, a high level meeting of Group of Ministers was held in New Delhi today [March 25] to discuss prevention and management of COVID-19, actions being taken by states, strengthening capacity of states with adequate resources while also ensuring essential services remain open. See press release here.

Additionally, we continue to track some of the recent orders and notifications issued by the Government of India for your reference:

  • India launches official COVID-19 tracker to provide real time updates on the evolving health situation. See link here.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a notification to extend the regular visa and e-visa of those foreigners who are currently in India and unable to leave the country due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, until April 15, stating that “Regular visa, e-visa or stay stipulation of all foreign nationals which have expired or would be expiring during the period from March 13 (midnight) to April 15 (midnight) would be extended till midnight of April 14 on ‘Gratis’ basis after making online application by the foreigner.
  • List of essential services that will remain open during the 21 day lockdown period are listed here. Addendum to the guidelines issued are here.
  • Online delivery services have been in exempted as essential services in Gurugram. See order here.

Should you require any further assistance as it relates to your business operation, travel advisories, or advocacy with state governments please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Contact: 

Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum