Finance ministry hopeful of consensus on GST in state FMs’ meet

New Delhi: The Centre today exuded confidence that state finance ministers will be able to achieve consensus at their Goa meeting and pave the way for implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which has been hanging fire for quite some time, reports PTI.

"The Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers is meeting today.

I am hopeful there will be a consensus, which we can accept and bring in the GST some time in the next financial year," revenue secretary Sunil Mitra told reporters on the sidelines of a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) tax conference here.

The roll out of GST, which will subsume excise duty and service tax at the Centre's level and VAT on the states front, besides local levies, has already missed a deadline of 1April 2010. The new deadline of 1 April 2011 is also likely to be missed and the Centre has now said that it may be rolled out sometime in the next financial year.

The state finance ministers are attending a two-day meeting of the Empowered Committee of State Finance ministers in Goa, starting today. The state FMs will discuss the GST model received from the central government to arrive at a consensus and may suggest their own alternative proposal.

Mr Mitra said he expects the state FMs to reach a consensus on the GST structure today and present the counter draft amendment bill to the Centre.

"We are expecting them (state FMs) to give us a counter of the draft GST Amendment Bill, or whatever passes muster or has consensus among sates. When we get that we shall respond," he said.

The GST Council and Dispute Settlement Authority were key features in the initial draft of the Constitution Amendment Bill formulated by the Centre and sent to the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on GST for approval.

Some states — including West Bengal, which heads the state GST panel — do not agree with the Centre's proposal on the constitution of a GST Council, led by the Union finance minister, to deliberate on the state subject of indirect taxes.

The states had rejected the first draft of the Centre, alleging that it gave veto power to the Union finance minister on state taxation issues. The draft had proposed that changes in GST could only be made with the consent of the Union finance minister and a two-thirds majority of the states in the council.

After the states' opposition, the Centre had floated a second draft proposing that alteration in GST could only be done when there is complete consensus.

While Congress-ruled states agreed to the idea, BJP-ruled states, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu opposed even the second draft.

The BJP-ruled states wanted to know the exact meaning of 'consensus' and have suggested that the word be replaced with 'consent'.

These states are also opposing the Dispute Settlement Authority proposed by the Centre. The authority is proposed to be chaired by a retired judge of the Supreme Court to resolve disputes arising out of the GST regime.

"Eight to 10 states have been opposing the dispute settlement mechanism, including Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh," Madhya Pradesh finance minister Raghavji had said.

Now, even Empowered Committee chairman Asim Dasgupta, who is the finance minister of West Bengal, suggested that both the GST Council and Dispute Settlement Authority should be done away with.

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Country-made solution to intercept Blackberry services

Jaipur: To provide a concrete solution for interception of data sent using Blackberry messenger, a Jaipur-based IT company has claimed to have developed a mobile communication service for all users that will work under the orbit of Indian law, reports PTI.

"The issue that the online usage of BlackBerry phones cannot be monitored by the government will be fully solved with our service 'Bharat Berry', a country made compliant product designed keeping in consideration with all necessary Indian laws and works with all BlackBerry and other phones," Data Infosys Limited founder and CEO Ajay Data told PTI here today.

The service 'Bharat Berry' was on testing mode for the past few days and the state chief minister Ashok Gehlot formally launched it here today.

"The Bharat Berry service provides more advanced push mail on BlackBerry handsets and ensures that the user remains connected to email, calendar and contacts through the servers hosted in India."

"It also provides over-the-air (OTA) synchronization of calendar and contacts to outlook, so there will be no need to take a backup of attach with the computer," he said, adding that the unique service was developed with months of hard work.

Bharat Berry works through a mix of its very advanced email server known as XGeNPlus and open source technologies.

“Our servers are hosted in India; hence there is no compliance issue,” he said.

"Unchecked terrorist activities are the major concern of security agencies, as it can escape detection by using BlackBerry's coded services. We are providing a concrete solution to the problem that has left lakhs of BlackBerry phone users in limbo," he said.

For enabling access to all services, including emails, users will be charged Rs100 per month, while to ensure access and synchronization of calendar and contacts, the user will have to pay Rs50 per month, he said.

The Bharat Berry software can be purchased online and also can be downloaded from the website — www.bharatberry.com.

"Lakhs of people are using BlackBerry phones today and there is no certainty that the company will continue to work in future following the controversy. In such a scenario, we are ready with similar service on low charges," Nitin Walia, director of the company, said.

The government has given Research In Motion (RIM) time until end of January 2011 to give its intelligence agencies full access to all BlackBerry services, which are currently routed through a server located outside the country.

There are around one million BlackBerry subscribers in India. RIM offers the BlackBerry services in 175 countries across the globe.

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Personal finance Friday

HDFC MF unveils HDFC FMP 35D October 2010 (1); Religare MF launches Religare Fixed Maturity Plan-Series IV-Plan A (3 Months); Fidelity MF revises exit load structure under Fidelity Gilt Fund; J&K planning to introduce crop insurance scheme

HDFC MF unveils HDFC FMP 35D October 2010 (1)

HDFC Mutual Fund has launched HDFC FMP 35D October 2010 (1), a close-ended income scheme.
The investment objective of the plan under the scheme is to generate income through investments in debt/money-market instruments and government securities maturing on or before the maturity date of the respective plan.
During the new fund offer (NFO), the units will be offered at face value of Rs10 per unit. The tenor of the plan is 35 days. The NFO opens on 29th October and closes on 1st November. The minimum investment amount is Rs5,000. CRISIL Liquid Fund Index is the benchmark for the plan. The 35 days plan is managed by Bharat Pareek.

Religare MF launches Religare Fixed Maturity Plan-Series IV-Plan A (3 Months)

Religare Mutual Fund has launched Religare Fixed Maturity Plan-Series IV-Plan A (3 Months), a close-ended income scheme.
The investment objective of the plan is to generate income by investing in debt and money-market instruments maturing in line with the duration of the scheme.
During the new fund offer (NFO), the units will be offered at face value of Rs10 per unit. The scheme offers growth and dividend (payout) option. The exit load for the plan is nil. The NFO opens on 29th October and closes on the same day. The minimum investment amount is Rs5,000. The minimum target amount is Rs1 crore.

Fidelity MF revises exit load structure under Fidelity Gilt Fund

Fidelity Mutual Fund has revised exit load structure under its scheme - Fidelity Gilt Fund. As per the revision, scheme will not charge any exit load. Earlier, the scheme charges 0.5% as exit load, if the investment is redeemed within six months from the date of allotment. The revision has been effect from 27 October 2010. The scheme is managed by Vikram Chopra and Shriram Ramanathan.

  J&K planning to introduce crop insurance scheme

The Jammu and Kashmir government is planning to introduce crop insurance scheme for farmers to protect them against losses caused by weather vagaries and other reasons.
"With a view to protect the interests of the farming community, particularly orchardists, government is mulling to introduce crop insurance scheme (CIS) in the state on the pattern of neighbouring states," Minister for Horticulture and Floriculture Sham Lal Sharma said.
Sharma was addressing the officers and farmers at village Zainapora in Shopian district after inaugurating a micro-irrigation scheme set up at a cost of Rs45 lakh.
The minister said all efforts will be done to boost the production of fruits in the state.
He stressed upon the development of hybrid varieties of apples and other fruits that suit the local conditions to compete in the national and international markets.
 

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