Cabinet clears GST Constitution Amendment Bill

With the Cabinet nod in place, the GST Constitution Amendment Bill will now be tabled in Parliament

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet today approved the Constitution Amendment Bill, paving the way for implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a new indirect tax regime that will subsume various levies such as excise and service tax, reports PTI.

According to sources, the Cabinet has cleared the Bill but there are certain changes which the law ministry has been asked to do. Now, the government would push to table it in Parliament.

"It has been approved. We will try to introduce it in Parliament," a minister said.

The finance ministry has worked on the final draft Amendment Bill, the fourth since the discussions on the new tax regime started. Earlier, the first three drafts prepared by the Centre were rejected by the states citing autonomy issues.

The fourth draft, a hybrid of the second and third draft, has proposed that the GST council for taking decisions on all important matters will be formed through a presidential order.

In addition, the composition of the GST Dispute Resolution Authority, proposed to be a part of the Constitution Amendment, will be decided by Parliament.

Furthermore, petroleum, natural gas, diesel and ATF have been kept out of the GST ambit in the final draft.

Last year, a draft Constitution Bill proposed by the Centre to the states had suggested a council chaired by the Union finance minister, with states as members, to make changes in GST.

The states, especially NDA-ruled ones, had raised objections to the proposal, saying it would give veto power to the Union finance minister over state taxation issues.

The Centre subsequently provided another draft to states, suggesting that changes in GST could be made only if there was a consensus on those issues in the council. However, some state finance ministers did not agree to even this suggestion.

Taking into consideration the states" concerns, the finance ministry had floated a third draft on the GST Constitution Amendment Bill.

The new draft proposed to create a GST Council through an Act of Parliament, instead of a presidential order, as proposed in the previous draft. The Centre had also dropped any reference to the Union finance minister heading the GST Council.

After missing the original April 2010 deadline for GST rollout, the government proposed to introduce it in April 2011. But it is all set to miss this deadline too. According to revenue secretary Sunil Mitra, it may be difficult to implement GST from 1 April 2012, too.

The GST will subsume indirect taxes such as excise duty and service tax at the central level and VAT on the states front, besides local levies.

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BSE inks deal with ISE to launch derivative products

BSE will seek approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India to launch derivative products for Indian investors based on innovative ISE indices, as part of BSE's Futures and Options product basket

Mumbai: The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on Tuesday said it has signed a licensing agreement with the US-based International Securities Exchange (ISE) to launch derivative products in India, reports PTI.

The agreement is part of the ongoing market development efforts between BSE and the Deutsche Borse Group, which includes Eurex and ISE, the BSE said in a statement.

ISE is a wholly-owned subsidiary of global derivatives exchange Eurex. Under the agreement, the BSE will seek approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to launch derivative products for Indian investors based on innovative ISE indices, as part of BSE's Futures and Options product basket.

"We are glad to have signed this agreement with the International Securities Exchange which is part of our long-term strategic initiative to offer world class investment products to investors in India," BSE managing director and chief executive officer Madhu Kannan said.

The BSE has a broad shareholder base that includes two leading global exchanges, Deutsche Bourse and Singapore Exchange as strategic partners, while ISE operates a leading US options exchange and offers options trading on over 2,000 underlying equities, exchange traded funds (ETFs), index, and foreign exchange (FX) products.

"ISE's indexes provide investors with equity-based exposure to highly topical investment themes, including emerging markets, widely-traded commodities and water," ISE head of New Product Development Kris Monaco said.

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CBI questions Kalmadi in Commonwealth Games scam

Members of the CWG Organising Committee have been made accused in four cases related to alleged irregularities in awarding contracts of QBR, overlays and time keeping but so far Mr Kalmadi has not been named accused in the eight FIRs filed by the agency

New Delhi: Suspended Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi was today questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the second time in connection with alleged scams related to the conduct of the sporting extravaganza, reports PTI.

Mr Kalmadi was earlier questioned by the CBI at his residence here in January when teams of agency officials searched his residential and official premises in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. His bank lockers were also searched at that time.

Three of his close aides including former OC secretary general Lalit Bhanot, former OC director general V K Verma and his personal assistant Shekhar Deorukhkar are already behind bars in connection with alleged irregularities during the Games.

The CBI has so far registered eight cases of which three are related to restoration work of two sporting venues, two are related to Queen's Baton relay (QBR), while one each is related to overlays, contract given to Swiss Time Keeping, and contract given to SIS live for the coverage of the Games.

Members of the Organising Committee have been made accused in four cases related to alleged irregularities in awarding contracts of QBR, overlays and time keeping but so far Mr Kalmadi has not been named accused in the eight FIRs filed by the agency.

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