Chamber Voice – June 2020

President's Note

Dear Friends,

It’s said that the worst of times brings out the best in people and as it happens, this holds for organizations as well. The COVID-19 crisis is challenging companies all over the world to find new ways to serve their clients and communities. Many are rising to the occasion. Almost every leader has an inspiring story of radical, positive change in how work gets done and what it can accomplish.

The ‘Unlock India’ exercise has begun with the Government hoping to breathe some life into a near-morbid economy. The unemployment rate has spiked to 27.11% in the week ending May 3, from under 7% in March. The GDP grew 3.1% during January-March this year, the slowest in 44 quarters. Several companies lost out on the last week of the financial year, and that alone was enough for most of them to go into the red in the fourth quarter. The first quarter of the present financial year is expected to be a near washout.


The COVID-19 infection curve is not showing any signs of flattening even after two months of the lockdown, which is a problem that the Governments at the Centre, and the States, are struggling to come to terms with. The timing of Unlock 1.0 couldn’t have been more critical. And that’s why a lot; including decisions on further easing or reinstating restrictions will depend on how this first phase pans out.

In just 17 straight days, India’s state-owned oil marketing companies have raised the retail prices of petrol and diesel by Rs. 8.5 and Rs. 10.01 a litre respectively. The timing of the recent moves to raise fuel prices has put the common man in great difficulties.

With public transport yet to restart fully in most urban areas and operating with tight restrictions and at lower frequencies even where some services have resumed, most commuters continue to have little choice but to use personal vehicles. Given that diesel is the primary fuel for the vast and essential road freight sector, these hikes in price end up dampening both the transport industry and wider economic revival. It is imperative that the authorities remove the speed breakers on the path to regaining normalcy.

The GST Council has decided to relax late fees and interest payable for those taxpayers failing to file returns on time. For businesses with no tax liabilities under the indirect tax regime, the late fees were completely waived. This is in line with similar relaxations announced by the Centre in March, before the lockdown was declared, to ease compliance deadline worries of small businesses in particular. Since the full lockdown lasted longer than initially envisaged, and only began to unwind this month, the forbearance on offer was a necessary step.

To provide further relief to the taxpayers for making various compliances, the Government has announced an extension of filing of the income tax return for the fiscal 2019-20 to 30 November 2020 from the original 31 July 2020. Additionally, in a major relief to small taxpayers, the central government has extended the deadline for making tax-saving investments for the financial year 2019-20 by another month to 31 July 2020. Not just for the previous fiscal, the last date of filing of original as well as revised income-tax returns for the financial year 2018-19 has also been extended to 31 July 2020.

Coming to the Chamber’s activities, we organised a Virtual CEO Forum Meeting on Friday, 5th of June, 2020. Dr. Sujit Vasudevan, a Renowned Consultant Physician with over 35 years of experience in private Medical Practice was the Speaker at the meeting and he spoke on “How to move ahead, beyond the Pandemic.” A detailed report of the program is carried elsewhere in this issue of Newsletter.

The next CEO Forum Virtual Meeting is scheduled for Friday, 3rd of July, 2020 on Google Meet App. Mr. Deepak Varghese, Head-Client Relations of IIFL Wealth & Asset Management, Kerala will be the Speaker at this session and will speak on “Wealth Management – Approach and a Perspective.” I trust you all will participate in the meeting.

On 6th of July, we are organizing a session on “Business and Contracts: Pandemic Impact and Future.” Mr. Prashanth S Shivadass, Advocate & Founder, Shivadass & Shivadass (Law Chambers) will be the Speaker at the meeting. The details of the same have already been shared with you. Do block this date and ensure your participation in this important programme.

Stay healthy and keep your spirits up during these challenging times.

Stay Safe Everyone!!!

V Venugopal


Fine Points

Chamber Vlogs!

The Chamber has released 10 videos under the Chamber Vlog Series since the first one in May 2020. All the videos can be viewed on the Cochin Chamber’s YouTube Channel. The most recent ones are added to the video players below. We will keep uploading new and relevant content for our members and the industry in general.

Kindly share these videos with your networks and subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more informative content.

Chamber Vlog - 07

Lessons from the Covid Crisis for Environmental Conservation

Shyama Kuriakose

Chamber Vlog - 09

How to move ahead beyond the Lockdown

Dr. Sujit Vasudevan

Chamber Vlog - 08

Leading/Managing Virtual Teams

Cmde Sriram Srinivasan

Chamber Vlog - 10

Recent Developments on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016

Adv. CMA Sankar Panicker

Chamber's Repository for all the Notifications and Guidelines pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak & resulting lockdown

Click here to access

Recent Events

CEO FORUM - 2020 | Virtual Meeting | 05.06.2020

The Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry conducted a Virtual CEO Forum Meeting on Friday, 5th of June, 2020.

Dr. Sujit Vasudevan, a Renowned Consultant Physician with over 35 years of experience in private Medical Practice was the Speaker at the meeting and he spoke on “How to move ahead, beyond the Pandemic.”

The President of the Chamber Mr. V Venugopal welcomed the participants to the virtual meeting.

Dr. Vasudevan gave a brief description of COVID-19 and mooted the possibility of the virus remaining with the human population for the near future. The 2002 outbreak known as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and the 2012 outbreak of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) both originated from a similar strain of virus. Because specific antiviral treatments and vaccines are still under development, testing, quarantine, and social distancing are encouraged to prevent COVID spread, he said.

Dr. Vasudevan suggested frequent hand washing with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water, avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and practicing respiratory hygiene. He also explained the use of various masks and the need for proper disposal of the same. Restrictive measures like social distancing, lockdown, case detection, contact tracing, and quarantine of exposed are said to be the most efficient actions to control the disease spreading, he added.

Dr. Vasudevan said that a delay in detection and response in major countries, led to an excessive burdening of the local health systems. On the other hand, some countries had adopted effective strategies to contain the infection and had recorded a very low number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Dr. Vasudevan shed some light on the efforts of countries like New Zealand, South Korea, and Hong Kong which were successful in flattening the curve. One of the key factors in the success of these countries was continuous testing, isolation of the infected, and quarantining of contacts. On the other hand, countries like Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States delayed implementing containment measures and failed in anticipating the impact of the pandemic. The health care system was literally overwhelmed with new cases, with a considerable number of them in critical conditions, he said.

As compared to other countries worldwide, a very low number of tests have been conducted in India, though the testing is expected to increase in the near future, Dr. Vasudevan added. At the same time, the capacity for rapid testing at the primary level should be implemented, to identify cases earlier and limit the transmission. He also pointed out the importance of producing a large supply of PPE for the safety of health care workers and increasing the number of available ventilators, in case the outbreak worsens.

Dr. Vasudevan said that it’s high time India run rapid antibody testing on a large scale to identify who is already immune to the virus. Moreover, months are needed before a vaccine is developed and approved. Even though herd immunity develops over time, vulnerable groups such as the healthcare workforce and elderly people should still be safeguarded. He explained the importance of adopting smart working and staggered shifts to mitigate COVID-19 transmission in the future.

Looking into the near future, containing the COVID-19 epidemic is likely to take several months. Testing, contact tracing, isolation of infected and precautionary self-isolation of contacts is critical in reducing the number of new cases. An exceptionally high degree of understanding in the population and acceptance of these measures is also critical, Dr. Vasudevan said.

Following this, there was a brief discussion wherein the Speaker clarified the issues raised by the participants.

The meeting ended with the Vice President of the Chamber, Mr. K Harikumar thanking everyone for having participated in the meeting.

Fine Points

Chamber in the News

EPFO Reduction - Frequently Asked Questions

As part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat stimulus package, the government announced last month a cut in the Jobs Provident Fund ( EPF) from 12 per cent to 10 per cent for both employers and workers. The move was intended to provide relief to employers and employees to increase the latter’s take-home salary. Here’s a list of Frequently asked questions of the recent EPFO reduction:

What is the Government’s reported revised contribution rate for EPF?

The Atmanirbhar package, for all groups of establishments covered by the EPF & MP Act of 1952, reduced the statutory rate of EPF payment of both employer and employee to 10 per cent of basic wages and dearness allowances from the current rate of 12 per cent.

What is the goal of reducing the contribution rate?

The aim of rising the rate of EPF contributions from 12% to 10% is to support all 4.3 crore workers, leaders and employers of 6.5 lakhs establishments to some degree during the pandemic over the immediate liquidity crisis.

What is the time during which the reduced contribution rate will apply?

Regarding wage months, the mandatory contribution limit will be 10 per cent-May and July this year.

Who applies for the reduced contribution rate?

It refers to all groups of establishments covered by the 1952 EPF & MP Act. Also, it except for establishments such as central and state-owned enterprises. It is in the public sector or any other establishment owned. Or operated by and under central or state government control. The reduced rate also does not apply to establishments eligible for PMGKY benefits. It is since the Central Govt contributes all of the employees’ EPF contributions (12 per cent of wages). Also, employers’ EPF & EPS contribution (12 per cent of wages), totalling 24 per cent of the monthly wages.

Were excluded institutions liable for reduced donation rates? Hey. The reduced rate also applies to exempt establishments.

How does the reduced EPF contribution rate help both the employees and the employer?

As a result of the decrease in the statutory rate of contributions. It is from 12% to 10%, the employee will have a higher take-home pay leads. It is to a decrease in the deduction from his salary due to EPF contributions. Also, the employer will also have a reduction in his liability by 2% of his employees ‘ salaries. If Rs.10000/- is a monthly EPFO wage, only Rs.1000/- is deducted. It is from employee wages instead of Rs.1200/- and the employer pays Rs.1000/- in lieu of Rs.1200/- to EPF contributions.

I receive a salary under the CTC model, will I still benefit from the reduced rate. It is of contributions from 12 to 10 per cent? In cost to enterprise (CTC) model, if Rs.10,000/- is monthly EPF wages. It is in the CTC Model the employee receives Rs.200/- more directly. It is from the employer as the EPF / EPS contribution. So, it is from the employer is reduced and Rs.200/- less is deducted from his / her wages.

Is the contribution rate of 10 per cent applicable to institutions registered?

It is EPFO during the wage months of May 2020, June 2020 and July 2020? Establishments covered during the May-July 2020 salary months will be eligible. It is for a reduced rate for the remaining eligible period from the date of coverage.

What will be the rate of administrative fees and insurance contributions?

EPFO administrative charges (0.5% of EPF wages subject to minimum prescribed). EDLI contributions (0.5% of wages) both payable by employers do not change.

What effect does the decreased EPF contribution rate have on the pension sum in the longer term?

The EPS contributions are derived from the employer’s share of EPF contributions. It is 8.33 per cent of salaries (subject to a cap of Rs.15000/-). The reduced rate of 10 per cent EPF contributions would not decrease pension contributions or benefits.

Chamber Voice - Bi-Monthly | Print Version

The Chamber releases a Bi-Monthly print version of its Newsletter, containing articles and information that are different from what comes on the Monthly E-Newsletter. Check out the covers from the last two editions.

The next print version will be out in the first week of July.

E-Certificate of Origin


Forthcoming Events

CEO FORUM - 2020 | Virtual Meeting | 03.07.2020

The next CEO FORUM Virtual Meeting is scheduled for Friday, 3rd July, 2020 between 8.30 a.m and 10:00 a.m.

Mr. Deepak Varghese, Head-Client Relations of IIFL Wealth & Asset Management, Kerala will be the Speaker at this Session and will speak on “Wealth Management – Approach and a Perspective.”

You will need to have the Google Meet Application installed on your mobile phones, to join the meeting. However, an App is not required if you are logging in on your laptop.

Kindly note that there is no password required to join this meeting.

We request you to kindly join the meeting at 8:30 am sharp using the link below.

Online Session - Business and Contracts: Pandemic Impact and Future! | 06.07.2020

Contracts have never been more important given the present pandemic outbreak and economic meltdown. Commercial terms are being widely monitored and changed; industry leaders and companies are looking to over haul the very basis of long term contracts – some others are reeling with contracts where performance is simply impossible.

Litigation seems to be the last resort for companies since financial stability is a cause of concern. Therefore, negotiations and alternate dispute resolution seem to be the new legal option going forward. But is there a way for contracts to be looked at differently post the pandemic? What are the considerations to be placed by parties to a contract?

The Chamber is organising an Online Session on “Business and Contracts: Pandemic Impact and Future!” on Monday, 6th July 2020 from 3 pm – 4:30 pm on the Google Meet Platform.

Prashanth S. Shivadass, Advocate and Founder, Shivadass & Shivadass (Law Chambers) Bangalore and Jomol Joy, Advocate and Of-Counsel, Shivadass & Shivadass (Law Chambers) Bangalore will address the above topic and broadly cover the following topics:

  1. Role of negotiations and evaluation of key terms;
  2. Sector-wise impact analysis of contracts;
  3. Digitization of contracts;
  4. Data privacy considerations;
  5. Business continuity and contingency provisions.

There is no registration fee, the meeting link will be sent to the registered participants

Fine Points

Fine Points

Exclusive EXIM Statistics

Statistical Reports on Exports and Imports through the Cochin Port.

The Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry publishes statistical reports on Exports and Imports through the Cochin Port on a monthly basis followed by a Consolidated Annual Report at the end of each calendar year. The reports on exports are classified as commodity wise and pertain to the following commodities:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Spices
  • Cashews
  • Cotton Goods
  • Seafood and
  • Coir and coir products

Details on all other commodities that do not fall under the above-mentioned heads are carried as the ‘Miscellaneous Report’. Customized reports will also be available according to customers requirement.

We have several members in the export/import fraternity subscribing to these reports on a monthly basis and from the feedback received they are immensely benefited by the same.

We are confident that our reports will be of help to your Company in staying one step ahead of your competitors in business. A sample of the report is attached herewith for your reference. Also attached is the ‘Subscription Form’ to enable you to subscribe to the report should you want to do so.

Should you have any queries please feel free to contact Ms. Archana (7025738447).

For more details, visit Export-Import Statistics

Sample Reports