Companies & Sectors
Four-mn tonne shortfall in food grains production likely

The country's food grains production was 266 million tonnes in fiscal 2013-14

 

Food grains production in just-concluded fiscal (2014-15) is likely to be 257 million tonnes against the target of 261 million tonnes, resulting in a shortfall of four million tonnes, according to the agriculture ministry's second advanced estimates released here on Tuesday.
 
The country's food grains production was 266 million tonnes in fiscal 2013-14.
 
The Indian agriculture season is from July 1 to June 30 in the next year.
 
"Though rainfall deficit was 12 percent in the monsoon period last year (June-September 2014), overall production decline was not much, as decrease in the sowing area was only two percent," Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said at a national conference on agriculture for kharif campaign here.
 
To provide relief to thousands of farmers affected by recent unseasonal rains in some state across the country, the central government is considering more norms for the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
 
"We are considering to increase norms for the NDRF to compensate farmers affected by unseasonal rains," Singh said.
 
Earlier in the day, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in Mumbai that the contraction in food gains production in 2014-15 may turn out to be less than earlier anticipated.
 
"The adverse impact of unseasonal rains and hailstorms in March is still unfolding. Initial estimates indicate that 17 percent of the sown area under the rabi crop may have been affected though the precise extent of the damage remains to be determined," the central bank said in its first bi-monthly monetary policy statement.
 
At the same time, Singh urged the concerned state governments to first compensate the affected farmers from their respective State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
 
"State governments are authorised to notify disaster and expenditure for relief can be met from their response fund (SDRF) up to 10 percent of it (fund)," Singh said.
 
The minister also advised the concerned states to send a report on the area affected by the unseasonal rain to his ministry for assessment.
 
Unseasonal rains and hailstorms have affected Bihar, Gujarat Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
 
The day-long conference was organised at the National Agriculture Science Centre in the capital to review rabi crop production and assess preparedness of states for ensuing kharif crop.
 
Kharif season starts in June with sowing when monsoon begins and its crop is harvested in November, while the rabi season begins with sowing in November and the crop, especially wheat, is harvested in April-May.
 
In a related development, the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution decided to relax quality norms for wheat procurement.
 
"We have asked Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh governments to test samples of wheat jointly with FCI (Food Corporation of India) on arrival to relaxing quality norms for procurement," the ministry said in a statement.
 
Quality norms for wheat procurement have been relaxed up to 10 percent in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh for the rabi season, as the shrunk and broken grain had lost shine.
 
As per Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 relaxation in norms is allowed in the case of broken and shrunk grains and if grains lost shine.

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Siti cable directed to pay Rs33 crore as fine

According to an official of the Delhi government, the company has been committing major entertainment tax fraud since 2013

 

The Delhi government on Tuesday directed Essel Group owned Siti Cable Network Limited to deposit Rs33.12 crore as outstanding entertainment tax for two years, along with interest and penalty within 15 days.
 
According to an official of the Delhi government, the company has been committing major entertainment tax fraud since 2013.
 
"The company has been collecting entertainment tax from 5,36,616 customers at the rate of Rs20 per month and had earned around Rs13 crore as entertainment tax in 2013-14 but deposited only Rs4.63 crore as tax."
 
"It is clear that this company simply pocketed the remaining Rs8.32 crore which should have been deposited on a monthly basis in the government exchequer."
 
The Delhi government has levied a 100 percent penalty on Rs8.32 crore and an interest of Rs3.06 crore under the relevant provisions of the Delhi Entertainments and Betting Tax Act 1996.
 
The complete assessment including additional tax, penalty and interest for the financial year 2013-14, which this company now has to pay to the government, stands at Rs19.71 crore.
 
Similarly, it has been found that SITI Cable continued tax evasion during the financial year of 2014-15 also. The government has assessed the tax, interest and penalty for 2014-15 at Rs13.41 crore.
 

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Cabinet approves amendments to real estate bill

The bill provides for setting up a Real Estate Regulatory Authority and fast-tracking resolution of disputes through adjudication

 

The union cabinet on Tuesday gave its approval to amendments to the real estate bill which seeks to promote fair play in real estate transactions and significantly reduce scope of fraud and delay.
 
The bill provides for setting up a Real Estate Regulatory Authority and fast-tracking resolution of disputes through adjudication.
 
It provides for registration of real estate projects and real estate agents with the authority and specifies the functions and duties of promoters and allottees.
 
"The union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today (Tuesday) gave its approval to amendments to the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013 pending in the Rajya Sabha, and approved amendments proposed in the Bill," said a release from the Prime Minister's Office.
 
It said the bill was "a pioneering initiative" to protect the interest of consumers, to promote fair play in real estate transactions and to ensure timely execution of projects.
 
"The bill provides for a uniform regulatory environment, to protect consumer interests, help speedy adjudication of disputes and ensure orderly growth of the real estate sector," it said.
 
The bill seeks to establish a real estate appellate tribunal.
 
The release said the bill will help achieve the goal of housing for all by 2022, set by the National Democratic Alliance government.
 
"The measures are expected to boost domestic and foreign investment in the sector and help achieve the objective of the government to provide 'Housing for All by 2022', through enhanced private participation," it said.
 
"The bill aims at restoring confidence of the general public in the real estate sector through transparency and accountability in transactions. This will enable the sector to access capital and financial markets essential for its long-term growth," the release said.
 
It said the bill will promote orderly growth through efficient project execution, professionalism and standardisation.
 
Officials said the real estate and housing sector, at present, is largely unregulated and opaque, with consumers often being unable to procure complete information or enforce accountability against builders and developers.
 
They said real estate development and housing construction was largely the concern of state institutions till the 1980s with very few private promoters.
 
The officials said liberalisation of the economy led to growth of the private sector in construction and the sector now contributes significantly to the country's Gross Domestic Product.
 

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