World
Boondoggle HQ: The $25 Million Building in Afghanistan That Nobody Needed
How the U.S. military built a lavish headquarters in Afghanistan that wasn’t needed, wanted or ever used — at a cost to American taxpayers of at least $25 million
 
From start to finish, this 64,000-square-foot mistake could easily have been avoided. Not one, not two, but three generals tried to kill it. And they were overruled, not because they were wrong, but seemingly because no one wanted to cancel a project Congress had already given them money to build. 
 
In the process, the story of “64K” reveals a larger truth: Once wartime spending gets rolling there’s almost no stopping it. In Afghanistan, the reconstruction effort alone has cost $109 billion, with questionable results. 
 
The 64K project was meant for troops due to flood the country during the temporary surge in 2010. But even under the most optimistic estimates, the project wouldn’t be completed until six months after those troops would start going home.
 
Along the way, the state-of-the-art building, plopped in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, nearly doubled in cost and became a running joke among Marines. The Pentagon could have halted construction at many points—64K made it through five military reviews over two years—but didn’t, saying it wanted the building just in case U.S. troops ended up staying. (They didn’t.)
The Pentagon brass chalked up their decisions on the project to the inherent uncertainty of executing America’s longest war and found no wrongdoing. To them, 64K’s beginning, middle and end “was prudent.”
 
The $25-million price tag is a conservative number. The military also built roads and major utilities for the base at a cost of more than $20 million, some of it for 64K.
 
Ultimately, this story is but one chapter in a very thick book that few read. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction routinely documents jaw-dropping waste, but garners only fleeting attention. Just like the special inspector general for Iraq did with its own reports. 
With 64K, SIGAR laid bare how this kind of waste happens and called out the players by name. The following timeline is based on the inspector general’s report, supporting documents and ProPublica interviews. 
 
 
Courtesy: ProPublica.org 

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CEO accounts for one fourth of a firm's profit: Study
The chief executives today typically account for a little more than a fourth of a firm's overall profit, new research has determined.
 
The study that measured what the researcher calls "the CEO effect" -- or the percentage of a firm's profits that comes from top-level decisions -- found that contributions of top managers have changed over the years.
 
"We can place the CEO effect at about 25 percent today. But in the 1950s and 60s, it was a lot less -- about six to eight percent," said researcher Tim Quigley, assistant professor of management at the University of Georgia in the US.
 
So, why has the effect jumped recently?
 
"For me there are two major drivers. The first reason I think CEOs matter more today is that they have more levers and buttons to play with in the company than they did 50 or 60 years ago," Quigley said.
 
"In the 1950s if a CEO decided they wanted to outsource their firm's customer service function to India, they couldn't even imagine that. 
 
"The technology wasn't there. You couldn't do it. Today, they could think about it this week and have it in place next week," Quigley explained.
 
The other big driver is their incentive to do so, the study noted.
The compensation packages and tax structure today provide gross incentives for these CEOs to make lots of choices, Quigley noted.
 
The study is forthcoming in Strategic Management Journal.

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TDS on bank deposits: Have you submitted form 15G, 15H for tax exemption?
The forms 15G and 15H need to be submitted for tax exemptions on interest earned on bank deposits, preferably at the beginning of the new financial year but before June end
 
Many people prefer to keep their savings in bank fixed deposits (FDs), as such deposits earn higher rate of interest compared with savings account in the bank.  However, many of them, especially senior citizens face harassment through tax deducted at source (TDS) by the bank even if they do not have any tax liability. The FD holder, (senior citizen) can be saved from this, if the interest earned on the FD in a financial year does not exceed Rs10,000 and she submits Form 15H to the bank in time, preferably before June end. Other individual depositors need to submit Form 15G and copy of their permanent account number (PAN) card.
 
Since these forms are applicable for a particular financial year, the FD holder will have to re-submit the form, in case, s/he continues with the same deposit in the same bank branch for next FY. This is applicable for renewal of the FD as well. This means, you need to submit the applicable form for renewal of the FD too. In short, even if you had submitted either Form15G or 15H for FY2014-15, you will have to re-submit the form for FY2015-16, for the same FD or renewed FD.
 
As per the Income Tax (I-T) rules in force, depositors who are not liable to pay any tax on their income can get their interest on bank deposits without any deduction of tax if they submit Form 15-G  or 15-H, as appropriate, to the bank concerned in the beginning of every financial year. 
 
However, it has been the experience of several depositors that even when you have submitted these forms; banks continue to deduct tax at source on such deposits putting depositors into considerable inconvenience.
 
To overcome this issue, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 31 May 2013 came out with an advisory for banks. It says, "With a view to protect interest of the depositors and for rendering better customer service, banks are advised to give an acknowledgment at the time of receipt of Form 15-G/15-H. This will help in building a system of accountability and customers will not be put to inconvenience due to any omission on part of the banks.”
 
However, this advisory serves a very limited purpose and fails to deliver anything of value to the customers. This turns into harassment to customers, who despite submitting the form are subjected to a TDS of 20%, even if their total income falls within the exempted limit for I-T. In addition, to get back the excess deduction, the hapless customer will have to file an I-T return and claim refund.
 
Although, there has been a demand from FD holders to refund excess TDS collected by the bank, this appears to have met a deaf ear. The reason is that the banks are mandated to deposit the TDS amount to the revenues within the stipulated time. In such cases, banks can only issue TDS certificate to FD holders.  
 
Earlier, there were views that if you split the FD amount, then you may not be subjected to TDS from the bank. However, the Budget 2015, makes banks, which are core banking solution (CBS) compliant, to aggregate all FDs by the customer across its several branches and deduct tax if the interest on all FDs exceed Rs10,000 in the FY.
 
Banks deduct TDS at a rate of 10% if the FD holder has submitted her PAN details for interest that exceeds Rs10,000. In case, neither the PAN nor the Forms are submitted and interest exceeds Rs10,000 on FDs, then the bank deducts TDS at a rate of 20%. In both cases, the banks are mandated to provide TDS certificate to the FD holder. The person, who does not have a PAN card, needs to make an application in Form 60.
 

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