Lok Sabha clears Finance Bill
NEW DELHI, March 31: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley invited suggestions from the Opposition for clean and transparent funding of political parties, as the Lok Sabha on Thursday cleared the finance Bill after it rejected five amendments (including those pertaining to anonymity of donors to political parties) recommended by the Rajya Sabha.
Opposition MPs accused the government of riding roughshod over Parliament over what they termed some “draconian provisions” in the Bill.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley invited suggestions from the Opposition for clean and transparent funding of political parties, as the Lok Sabha on Thursday cleared the finance Bill after it rejected five amendments (including those pertaining to anonymity of donors to political parties) recommended by the Rajya Sabha.
Opposition MPs accused the government of riding roughshod over Parliament over what they termed some “draconian provisions” in the Bill.
India inches closer to July rollout of tax reform as LS passes 4 GST bills
NEW DELHI, March 29: The proposed goods and services tax (GST) moved a step closer to reality on Wednesday with the Lok Sabha approving four bills that will subsume a profusion of central, state indirect taxes and help create a single, unified market.
The Lower House passed the bills by voice vote, after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan initiated clause-by-clause voting at the end of a long Parliament debate on GST, billed as the country’s biggest tax reforms since Independence.
“These are revolutionary bills which will benefit all. States have pooled in their sovereignty into the GST council, and Centre has done the same,” said finance minister Arun Jaitley, who aims to introduce the GST from July 1.
These supporting legislation for the GST were introduced as money bills and will now go to the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA government doesn’t have the numbers to push through key reforms.
But the Upper House can’t reject money bills, as it only has powers to make recommendations on such legislation, which the Lok Sabha can choose to accept or reject.
Once the bills are passed in Parliament, the government will issue a notification after the President’s consent. The states will pass a separate law — the State GST (SGST) bill — to roll out the reform.
The four proposed legislation are the central goods and services tax (CGST) bill, the integrated goods and services tax (IGST) bill, the goods and services tax (compensation to states) bill, and the Union territory goods and services tax (UTGST) bill.
The passage of the bills removed years of political differences over the GST that will eliminate tax barriers, and subsume a host of indirect taxes levied by the Centre and the states, including excise, service tax, entertainment, entry, luxury and value-added taxes.
“The July deadline is possible. We have promised businesses that there will be clarity on the law at least three months before its implementation. That has come from the passing of the four bills,” revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia said.
He announced that the GST council will pass all nine sets of rules by March 31.
The CGST will give powers to the Centre to levy tax after excise and service taxes and additional customs duty are subsumed. The IGST will be a tax on inter-state movement of goods and services.
The UTGST is for Union territories such as Chandigarh and Daman and Diu.
GST draft bills tabled in Parliament
NEW DELHI, March 27: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has introduced in Lok Sabha four bills on Goods and Services Tax, providing for a maximum GST rate of 40 per cent, an anti-profiteering authority and arrests for evading taxes.
With this, rollout of GST - the biggest tax reform since independence - has entered the last lap and its passage by Parliament will pave the way for integrating India as one market with one rate of tax replacing multiple state and central levies.
Jaitley introduced a Central Goods and Service Tax or CGST bill which will amalgamate all the indirect central government levies like sales tax, service tax, excise duty, additional customs duty (Countervailing Duty), special additional duty of customs, surcharges and cesses.
CGST provides for a maximum tax of 20 per cent.
Actual rates would however be a four-tier tax structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent as approved by the GST Council. The peak rate of 40 per cent is only an enabling provision for financial emergencies.
A Union Territory GST Bill will take care of taxation in UTs of Chandigarh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
A Bill on Integrated-GST -- to be levied and collected by the Centre on inter-state supply of goods and services, was also introduced in the Lok Sabha.
The IGST law provides for a maximum tax of 40 per cent.
Jaitley also introduced a fourth legislation called GST (Compensation to States) Bill, 2017 that provides for mechanism for making good any loss of revenue of states from introduction of GST in first five years of rollout.
These four bills will be taken up for discussion together.
Another mirror legislation of CGST, called State-GST, will amalgamate all state taxes like VAT, will be levied by states and has to be approved by all state legislatures. Together, CGST and SGST will enable the GST incidence of 40 per cent. GST will not apply to Jammu and Kashmir.
The CGST Bill also provides for e-commerce companies to collect tax at source at a rate not exceeding 1 per cent of net value of taxable supplies, out of payments to suppliers supplying goods or services through their portals.
To protect small businesses, the CGST provides for a tax of no more than 1 per cent of turnover for manufacturers with annual turnover of up to Rs 50 lakh. A 2.5 per cent tax is prescribed for suppliers.
To ensure that benefit of lower taxes is passed on to consumers, an anti-profiteering measure has been incorporated in the law.
It provides for constituting an Authority to examine whether input tax credits availed by any registered taxable person, or the reduction in the price on account of any reduction in the tax rate, have actually resulted in a commensurate reduction in the price of the said goods and/or services supplied by him.
The law provides for arrest, ordered by no less than a Tax Commissioner, in case of suppression of any transaction or evading taxes. A person convicted is punishable by up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or fine.
The Compensation Law provides for levy of cess on top of the peak rate of approved tax (28 per cent presently) on paan masala, tobacco, aerated waters, luxury cars and coal to create a non-lapsable fund for compensating states.
Such cess has been capped at 135 per cent in case of paan masala, Rs 4,170 per thousand cigarettes sticks or 290 per cent ad valorem, Rs 400 per tonne on coal and 15 per cent on aerated water and luxury cars.
Compensation will be paid bi-monthly and the amount due would be calculated after considering a 14 per cent growth rate in taxes over the base year of 2015-16.
Touted as the biggest taxation reform since independence, GST is expected to boost GDP growth by up to 2 per cent. The government proposes to roll out GST by July 1.
"The Integrated Goods and Services tax Bill provides for ...tax on all inter-state supplies of goods and services or both except supply of alcoholic liquor for human consumption at a rate to be notified not exceeding 40 per cent, as recommended by the GST Council," said the statements of objects and reasons of the IGST bill.
The 40 per cent would be apportioned equally between the Centre and the states.
As Jaitley introduced the bills in the Lok Sabha, Opposition, Congress and TMC, protested saying it was not listed in today's agenda for the House.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs S S Ahluwalia said the bills were uploaded on the government website on the midnight of Friday.
The Opposition MPs, however, took strong objection saying how could the government expect the members to check the website at midnight and why the issue was not discussed at the meeting of Business Advisory Committee last week.
Dismissing the opposition objections, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the bills were sent to the MPs on Saturday morning and there was nothing wrong in these being tabled.
The GST Council, comprising Union Finance Minister and his state counterparts, has already approved the 4 legislations over a series of 12 meetings. The Council will meet again on March 31, and will finalise the rules and formats for the new indirect tax regime.
Deloitte Haskins Sells LLP Senior Director M S Mani said the introduction of the bills "mark the successful culmination of a series of steps taken by the government since August 2016 and it now appears certain that India is is headed for a GST rollout from July 2017".
Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das inagurates Indian pavilion at Interphex 2017 in New York
By Deepak Arora
NEW YORK, March 21: Indian Consul General Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das inaugurated the India Pavilion at the three-day INTERPHEX 2017 at Jacobs Javits Center here on Tuesday.
Welcoming the large participation of Indian companies, Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das said there was huge potential of expanding India-US bilateral trade, including in the pharmaceutical machinery sector.
As many as 52 Indian companies are participating in the world's leading exhibition dedicated to pharmaceutical, biotechnology innovation, technology and knowledge.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in association with India's Ministry of Commerce & Industry organized the second edition of India Pavilion at INTERPHEX 2017.
The main objective of the Indian Pavilion was to increase market access for Indian Pharmaceutical companies in the US market on the Pharma Engineering side as well and show case its strength on the pharmaceutical machinery sector.
Thanking the Consul General, FICCI Assistant Secretary General Manish Singhal said Indian participation at the Interphex was streadily growing. This would help in adding to the growing bilateral trade between the two countries.
On Monday, the Consul General hosted a reception for the participating members of the Indian companies at the Consulate General of India in New York.
Fifty two (52) Indian companies are participating in the world's leading exhibition dedicate to pharmaceutical, biotechnology innovation, technology and knowledge.
G20 financial leaders acquiesce to US, drop free trade pledge
BADEN BADEN, March 18: Financial leaders of the world's biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States after a two-day meeting failed to yield a compromise.
Breaking a decade-long tradition of endorsing open trade, G20 finance ministers and central bankers made only a token reference to trade in their communique on Saturday, a clear defeat for host nation Germany, which fought the new U.S. government's attempts to water down past commitments.
In the new U.S. administration's biggest clash yet with the international community, G20 finance chiefs also removed from their statement a pledge to finance the fight against climate change, an anticipated outcome after U.S. President Donald Trump called global warming a "hoax".
In a meeting that some said was at times 19 against one, the U.S. did not yield on key issues, essentially torpedoing earlier agreements as the G20 requires a consensus. Still, the dialogue was friendly and non-confrontational, leaving the door open to a future deal, officials who attended the meeting said.
"This is my first G20, so what was in the past communiqué is not necessarily relevant from my standpoint," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the German resort town of Baden Baden.
"I understand what the president's desire is and his policies, and I negotiated them from here," Mnuchin said. "I couldn't be happier with the outcome."
Seeking to put "America first", Trump has already pulled out of a key trade agreement and proposed a new tax on imports, arguing that certain trade relationships need to be reworked to make them fairer for U.S. workers.
"We believe in free trade, we are in one of the largest markets in the world, we are one of the largest trading partners in the world, trade has been good for us, it has been good for other people," Mnuchin said. "Having said that, we want to re-examine certain agreements.
International trade makes up almost half of global economic output and officials said the issue could be revisited at a meeting of G20 leaders in July.
While some expressed frustration, like French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, others played down the dispute.
"It is not that we were not united," German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said. "It was totally undisputed that we are against protectionism. But it is not very clear what (protectionism) means to each (minister).
He added that some ministers did not have a full mandate to negotiate since they were not fully in charge of trade issues.
Others suggested that the G20 leaders' meeting in Hamburg this July could be the real opportunity to bring the U.S. on board.
"It is not the best meeting we had, but we avoided backtracking," EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said. "I hope in Hamburg the wording will be different. We need it. It is the raison d'etre for the G20," Moscovici said.
CLIMATE PLEDGE DROPPED
The communique also dropped a reference, used by the G20 last year, on the readiness to finance measures against climate change as agreed in Paris in 2015, because of opposition from the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Trump has suggested global warming was a "hoax" concocted by China to hurt U.S. industry and vowed to scrap the Paris climate accord aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Trump's administration on Thursday proposed a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget as the White House seeks to eliminate climate change programmes and trim initiatives to protect air and water quality.
Asked about climate change funding, Mick Mulvaney, Trump's budget director, said on Thursday: "We consider that to be a waste of money."
The G20 did, however, show continuity in its foreign exchange policies, using past phrases on currency markets.
"We reaffirm our previous exchange rate commitments, including that we will refrain from competitive devaluations and we will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes," the G20 said.
Leaders also upheld their commitments to financial sector regulation, supporting the finalisation of bank rules known as Basel III, provided they do not significantly raise overall capital requirements.
Haryana sets March 15 deadline to migrate to GST portal
By Deepak Arora
GURGAON, March 4: Haryana Government has set a final deadline of March 15 for all VAT dealers to migrate onto GST portal. “The tax payers who don’t enroll at GST (Goods and Service Tax) portal will not get GSTIN, in absence of which they will not be able to issue invoices after implementation of GST,” according to Ch. Dilbag Singh, Joint Excise & Taxation Commissioner, Gurgaon.
It may be mentioned that the Central Government plans to introduce GST in the country from July 1.
In view of this, Dilbag Singh, said that it would be advisable for all the VAT dealers of Gurgaon to enroll at GST portal immediately in order to carry on their business hassle-free under GST regime.
He informed that help desks have been established at common places of each industrial/ trading areas of Gurgaon where the dealers can contact for redressal of GST enrolment related issues.
Besides the help desk, he said the department is ready to facilitate the dealers in its permanent computer lab.
Dilbag Singh informed that the dealers can contact the DETCs – SPS Chauhan and Samir Yadav – for any further queries.
He said the industry has been seeking ease of business but when the department has come forward the industry does not cooperate in migrating to GST portal. He said this is a simple process. However, it is at the discretion of the dealers.
It may be mentioned that the enrollment sensitization programme by the Central and Haryana Governments was launched way back in December last year.
In spite of our best efforts, Dalbag Singh said, “the situation is very dismal as only 20 per cent of VAT dealers of Haryana have enrolled onto GST portal under March 2.”
He said in Gurgaon (East) out of 16,136 dealers only 3,632 have migrated and Gurgaon (West) out of 25,364 only 5,230 have migrated onto GST portal. In the State of Haryana, there are 2,49,110 dealers and only 63,311 have migrated onto GST portal.
The Central Government is keen to roll out the new regime from July 1 but for that, it will have to get two laws - the Central GST (CGST) Act and Integrated GST (IGST) Act -- approved by Parliament and each of the state legislatives have to pass the State GST (SGST) Act.
The model GST law provides a common draft of CGST Act, SGST Act. Besides, there is an IGST law and Compensation law.
Thai Furniture Ideal for Indian Market : PHD Chamber
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, March 2: PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Royal Thai Embassy got together in a collaborative and partnership spirit to promote the furniture produced in Thailand by members of Thai Hevea Wood Association in India, given its quality and cost effectiveness for Indian market in its various landscapes.
The three organizations got together here today to explore immense possibilities for enhancing furniture exports of Thailand towards India in which the consumption of furniture is likely to gallop manifold with slogan of “Housing for All” in India becoming a stark reality in next few years.
The current market size of furniture in India is estimated close to $20 billion of which wooden furniture size is estimated around $6 billion. Out of this $6 billion estimated wooden business size, a substantial chunk is imported from countries like Italy, Malaysia, Phillipines, Japan and China among others.
It is in this backdrop that the furniture produced in Thailand for its quality and cost effectiveness needed to be promoted in India as it is a huge market which can absorb furniture imports quite conveniently given its market size and multiplicities of income groups and that to when the Thailand is the second largest leader in the world’s furniture segment, pointed out by Sr. Vice President, PHD Chamber, Mr. Anil Khaitan.
Present among others who emphasized the supremacy of Thai furniture on the occasion and the need to promote it in market like India comprised Minister Counsellor (Commercial), Royal Thai Embassy, Mr. Tharadol Thongewang; Honorary President, Thai Hevea Wood Association, Mr. Sutin Ponchaisuree; Deputy General Secretary of Thai Hevea Wood Association, Mr. Akrain Vargapirat; Managing Director, Choosak Southern Parawood, Mr. Nikorn Likhitwangphanit and Director, PHD Chamber, Mr. Yogesh Srivastav.
The Indian companies who are engaged in the wood business showed their interest to partnering with the Thai counterparts to promote business relations with each other consisted of Alban Roux, Richwood, Try Square, Colonial Hard Woods (P) Ltd., Fabwood and the like.