Govt introduces Constitution Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha for GST

The Bill provides for creation of a GST Council to be headed by the Union finance minister, which will be empowered to recommend tax rates and exemption and threshold limits for good and services. It also provides for creation of a Dispute Settlement Authority to deal with grievances of the Centre and the states with regard to GST

New Delhi: The government today introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha to facilitate implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST), an indirect tax regime that would subsume levies like excise, service tax and sales tax, reports PTI.

The Bill, introduced by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee seeks to amend the constitution with a view to confer simultaneous powers on centre and states to levy taxes on goods and services.

"The GST would replace a number of indirect taxes presently being levied by the central government and the state governments and is intended to remove cascading of taxes and provide a common national market for goods and services," said the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill.

The Bill provides for creation of a GST Council to be headed by the Union finance minister. The council will be empowered to recommend tax rates and exemption and threshold limits for good and services.

Besides, the Bill has proposed a GST Dispute Settlement Authority to deal with grievances of the Centre and the states with regard to GST.

The GST, which is considered to be a major tax reform, has been pending for the last four years due to differences between Centre and some states over the structure of the new tax regime.

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Formation of Civil Aviation Authority in final stages: Govt

The proposed CAA, which will have administrative and financial autonomy, is also likely to keep a tab on the entire range of activities-from proper provision of air traffic services and licensing to financial fitness of airlines

New Delhi: The process of setting up an autonomous Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to regulate all aviation safety issues in India is in the final stages with a Cabinet note on it likely to be finalised soon, reports PTI.

The proposed CAA, which would have administrative and financial autonomy, is also likely to keep a tab on the entire range of activities-from proper provision of air traffic services and licensing to financial fitness of airlines.

"A Cabinet note is being prepared. We have sent all the facts. The (civil aviation) ministry will have to forward it to the government," Director General of Civil Aviation EK Bharat Bhushan told PTI here.

The government plans to bring in a legislation to establish the CAA. Mr Bhushan said the CAA would have a "lot of financial, administrative and procedural independence. We will be able to recruit (professionals) directly" instead of routing it through the Union Public Service Commission.

A feasibility study to set up the authority was commissioned in October 2009 in technical cooperation with the UN body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to improve financial and administrative autonomy for discharge of safety oversight functions more effectively.

The ICAO feasibility study was reviewed by the DGCA and the civil aviation ministry last year. The proposal was also endorsed by the US Federal Aviation Administration which said the proposed body would be in line with ICAO policy.

Civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi recently said that the process to set up the CAA was currently on.

The CAA structure of an aviation regulatory body exists in several countries including the UK and Singapore, giving it powers to regulate all safety issues, advising the government on all civil aviation matters, managing national airspace so as to meet the needs of all users, keeping in mind national security, economic and environmental factors.

To questions on the flight duties of pilots and the time limit to be maintained for their duty, Mr Bhushan said a committee headed by civil aviation secretary Nasim Zaidi has already submitted its report to the ministry.

"The report on FDTL (Flight Duty Time Limitation) has to be formalised and sent to the government for approval," he said.

The FDTL issue had acquired prominence after the crash of an Air India Express aircraft in Mangalore in May last year, which claimed 158 lives.

Asked about the newly-created Tariff Analysis Unit set up in the DGCA to monitor abrupt hikes in air fares, Mr Bhushan said, "We are monitoring it (air fare patterns) very closely.

It is being monitored every day on an hour-to-hour basis."

He replied in the negative when asked whether any trend has been noticed in the recent past.

The DGCA chief said during the Diwali period last year, there was a "scare" when the fares shot up due to high demand but continued to remain at high levels even after the peak season had ended.

"After that, things are pretty well under control.

Even during Christmas, these were okay", he said but did not rule out rise in air fares in the future due to the high global fuel prices which have touched $100 a barrel.

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I-T Department slaps Rs616.53 crore tax notice on Mahindra Satyam

Rejecting various petitions filed by the company, the I-T Department has issued a notice to Mahindra Satyam to pay up Rs616.53 crore for the assessment years 2003-04 to 2008-09. Meanwhile, the company has filed a plea in the Andhra Pradesh HC challenging the impugned order

Hyderabad: The Income Tax (I-T) Department has issued a notice to Mahindra Satyam, the new brand identity of Satyam Computer Services, to pay up Rs616.53 crore in taxes, reports PTI.

The company said the Central Board of Direct Taxes, under Section 119 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, rejected various petitions filed by the company seeking reliefs for reopening of past assessments for the assessment years 2003-04 to 2008-09; determining the actual income based on the findings of investigating agencies; and granting a stay on recovery proceedings for the said assessment years.

"Notice under Section 226 (3) has been issued by the additional commissioner of Income Tax, Hyderabad, for recovery of Rs616,53,92,660. The company has filed a writ petition before the Honourable High Court of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, challenging the said impugned order and seeking stay of further proceedings," the company said in a filing to the stock exchanges today.

Shares of Satyam Computers were being quoted at Rs66.50 apiece, down 0.82% from its previous close on the Bombay Stock Exchange in mid-morning trade today.

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