The Indian government suspended BEML's CMD VRS Natarajan following a recommendation by the CBI that he should be kept away from the post to ensure fair investigation
New Delhi: The Defence Ministry on Monday suspended BEML Chief VRS Natarajan in connection with the Tatra case on a recommendation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after former Army Chief Gen VK Singh levelled allegations that he was offered Rs14 crore bribe to clear a deal for 600 trucks, reports PTI.
The move comes a few days after the Defence Ministry issued a show cause notice to the BEML Chief for slapping a defamation notice against Gen VK Singh without its permission.
"The Government has put the CMD of BEML VRS Natarajan under suspension following a recommendation by the CBI that he should be kept away from the post to ensure fair investigation. The CBI is currently investigating into various charges against Natarajan," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here.
"The charge of CMD has been given to P Dwarkanath, the senior most functional Director in BEML," he said.
Following a disappointing economic growth of nine-year low of 6.5% in FY12, there have been concerns that India's expansion rate this fiscal may slip further
New Delhi: Dismissing concerns that India's growth rate may drop below 6.5%, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said 2012-13 would be the turnaround year for the economy, reports PTI.
Addressing a conference of top officials of the Income Tax (I-T) Department, he said steps are being taken to put India back on path of high economic growth.
"We are taking all necessary steps to ensure that we come back to the path of the targeted GDP growth. Of course it will take some time...but from this year we expect to make a turn around," Mukherjee said.
In the Budget 2012-13, the government had pegged 2012-13 GDP growth at 7.6% (plus, minus 0.25%).
Following a "disappointing" economic growth of nine-year low of 6.5% in 2011-12, there have been concerns that India's expansion rate this fiscal may slip further.
Mukherjee said that after the 2008 economic crisis, the GDP growth slipped to 6.7% in 2008-09, but bounced back to 8.4% in the following two financial years.
Highlighting the positives in the economy, Mukherjee said interest rate cycle has been reversed and there is growth in mining sector, turnaround in investment growth rate and there are predictions of normal monsoon, besides decline in crude oil prices.
"All these factors should help in recovery of domestic growth momentum," he added.
On direct tax collection target of Rs5.70 lakh crore ($103 billion) for the current fiscal, he said it was achievable. "I do feel this target is moderate and can be achieved," he said while asking the tax officials to work "relentlessly" to improve tax collection.
In 2011-12, the direct collection at Rs4.95 lakh crore was marginally down from the revised target of Rs5.05 lakh crore.
Mukherjee said that while renewed growth momentum will help improve direct collection, there are several challenges before the I-T Department.
He expressed concern over decline in tax-GDP ratio and asked the officials to reverse the trend. The tax-GDP ratio has dropped to 10.5% in 2011-12, from 12% in 2007-08.
Mukherjee said the Direct Tax Code (DTC) Bill will be introduced in Parliament in the forthcoming Monsoon Session and would be affected from next fiscal.
"I am hoping that DTC will be effective from 1 April 2013," he said, adding that the time has come for the I-T Department to prepare itself for the transition from the Income Tax Act, 1961 to the new direct tax regime.
The Finance Minister further said the department has been striving to check the menace of black money and tax evasion, which eat into the vitals of the economy and pose threats to national security through linkages to money-laundering and terrorism.
He said the government has commissioned a study on unaccounted income and wealth and it is likely to be completed in September.
Also, a report of a committee on strengthening of existing laws relating to black money is being examined by the government.
"I hope that these two studies will help in identifying the gaps in present legislative and administrative framework and shall help us in checking the menace of black money through an effective policy response," Mukherjee added.
He also said introduction on the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2011, currently being scrutinised by a Parliamentary Standing Committee, will further help in "our resolve to reduce the menace of black money".
Amid undeclared assets held by Indians abroad being a matter of "intense debate recently", Mukherjee said that to encourage and facilitate real time exchange of information on cross-border transactions with other jurisdictions, India has set up 8 more Income Tax Overseas Units (ITOUs).
After a comprehensive review of the existing network, steps are being taken to augment the reach of the ITOUs in more jurisdictions, he added.
Enlarged network of ITOUs, with an enabling legislative framework in the form of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEAS), will help in receiving valuable information in future, he said.
On promoting voluntary compliance of tax laws and role of children, Mukherjee said there was a need to educate them on the importance of taxes for the nation building process.
He said the I-T Department has partnered with NCERT to introduce information in this regard in school textbooks.
He, however, expressed concern over rising litigation with tax payers and amount locked up in appeals before CIT (A), ITAT and different courts.
A whopping over Rs4.36 lakh crore was locked in about 2.59 lakh cases as on December 31, 2011.
The main reason for pendency of cases before CIT (A), he said, appears to be slower disposal rate vis-a-vis the pace of cases being filed. On an average, it takes about one and half years to dispose of a case.
"The Department needs to ensure that after proposed cadre restructuring sufficient manpower is deployed to reduce the time taken for disposal of appeals and that it is not more than six months" he added.
Mukherjee said he has been directing the I-T Department to reduce all avoidable litigation with the taxpayers as well as with employees.
"I have also asked CBDT to ensure that no charge sheets are filed on the last date of retirement," Mukherjee said.
It is for the management of Air India to decide for how long can they keep striking pilots on their payroll when they are not working, the government says
New Delhi: With Air India considering further crackdown on the striking pilots, the government on Monday said it is for airlines management to decide for how long to keep them on their payroll when they are not working, reports PTI.
It "is for the Air India management to take action now. These pilots have not come to work for more than 30 days....It is an illegal strike. They have defied the High Court," Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said.
"We have requested them again and again to come back to work. So, it is for the management to decide for how long can they keep them on their payroll when they are not working. And they have no intention of coming back," he told reporters.
Around 400 Air India pilots owing allegiance to Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) have been on strike since 7th May and the services of 101 pilots have already been terminated.
Sources in the state-owned airline have said "tough action" would be taken against the remaining 300-odd pilots and have given indications that they could be sacked.
Earlier, on Wednesday Singh had said that for him, the strike was over and he did not see any point in the striking pilots coming back.
He has said that the decision to withdraw the stir lay with the pilots "as I had already said that the strike is already over from our side."
"If management has to take any action, they will take as per the labour law," he said.
Earlier, the minister had said alternative plans were being made to ensure that operations of the state-run carrier were normalised within two-three months so that the revival plan could be put in place.
Observing that there were about 500 expat pilots in the country, he said the management was in touch with them.
There are about 60-odd expat pilots, trained on wide-bodied aircraft like Boeing 777s or Airbus A-300s, whose contracts with Jet Airways have ended or are about to expire.
Kingfisher Airlines is also facing trouble and the government is hoping that there would be sufficient trained pilots looking for job prospects elsewhere.
Maintaining that the strike by the pilots was illegal, Singh slammed the agitators for resorting to strike during the peak season without any notice.