Taxation
I-T department asked to redress taxpayers grievances fast

According to official data compiled till 23rd June, a total of 5,283 grievances are pending in various wings of the I-T department with 1,604 such pleas pending for more than one year

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has asked the Income-Tax Department to ensure prompt action in timely redressal of taxpayers grievances that are pending for a long time.

 

The CBDT, which supervises the functioning of the I-T department, has asked all Chief Commissioners of the department to ensure that grievance applications are not kept pending for a long time.

 

According to official data compiled till 23rd June, a total of 5,283 grievances are pending in various wings of the I-T department with 1,604 such pleas pending for more than one year.

 

Taxpayers grievances in the I-T department vary from timely credit of refunds, problems related to filing of tax returns and similar issues.

 

“Pending grievances shall be reviewed and authorities concerned reminded for redressal on weekly basis and special focus shall be on grievances pending for more than one year and every effort shall be made to redress such grievances on priority basis,” the CBDT wrote to the top I-T officers of various zones in the country recently.

 

The decision to speed up action in this regard was taken by the CBDT after a meeting of all the ministries and departments was held by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Personnel Grievances where the pending public pleas of the I-T department were also discussed.

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Building a Better India – Part 11: Land acquisition
The present system of land acquisition is grossly unjustified and not acceptable to any one, and as a result, a big mass of useful industrial land is lying idle or is under litigation

Land has always been the most emotional asset for Indians. Most rural landholders hardly ever monetise it and for some it is even a matter of life and death. When such traditions come to be at odds with government and private projects that require large scale land acquisition, the new “Right to fair compensation, resettlement, rehabilitation and transparency in land acquisition Act” was supposed to bridge the gap. Has it succeeded?
 
The Anomaly between market rate and circle rate of land to be acquired:
 
The compensation for rural land is 4 times the market value, pegged to the prevailing circle rate. Here the problem is that while in rural areas the circle rate is generally 40 to 50% lower than the actual market price, the same is either equal to or much more than the market value in urban areas. Hence this anomaly requires to be removed by reaffixing the circle rate in rural areas at 10% discount to the actual prevailing market rate and pegging the compensation at a maximum of 2.5 times this new rate. And in urban areas the compensation should be 2 times the actual market price irrespective of circle rates, which need to be reviewed across the country based on facts. 
 
Compensation value fixed at an extremely high 4 times the market value, there will be a virtual scramble amongst the land owners to push their land for acquisition by bribing the acquisition authorities/officers thus opening another avenue for corruption.
 
A better option is to constitute a permanent committee of multiple members representing various stakeholders in each state, to accurately assess the market value of land proposed to be acquired and then to fix the compensation equitably and rationally without exceeding 2 times the market rate.
 
Leasehold government industrial land in designated industrial estates lying idle:
 
This is primarily due to closure of factories or the lessee having failed to set up the factory. These huge tracts of idle land can be easily put to use if the laws and rules are changed, by allowing the existing lessees to re-lease the same to other willing entrepreneurs at a mutually settled rate for industrial purposes without the interference/consent of the lessor (state industrial infrastructure development corporations). Under the present system, lessees are not authorised to sell/transfer the land without getting consent from the state infrastructure institutions. Lessees are not entitled to recover even their original consideration value, or the present market rate. The present system is grossly unjustified and not acceptable to any one, and as a result a big mass of useful industrial land is lying idle or is under litigation. 
 
Quick utilization/ monetization of govt land banks lying idle:
 
Such holdings should be identified and used for industrial/ housing projects or other productive purposes, or else the same should be monetised. This will increase government revenue and the extra supply of land will help in lowering the land prices which have sky rocketed. 
 
The total annual all India collection of stamp duties: 
 
This collection on landed properties by state governments alone is a whopping Rs2 lakh crores. Where does this huge revenue go? This revenue should be exclusively earmarked for development of villages, towns and cities, and not go to the state govt’s exchequer till the task is achieved?
 
The new land acquisition Act should have incorporated necessary provisions of undernoted related laws so that the same could have been repealed:
 
 Land Improvements Loans Act, 1883
  Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, 1885
  Land Acquisition Act 1894, 1962, 196
  Petroleum Berar act 1937
  Requisitioned Land Compensation Act 1949
  Waste Lands (claims) Act 1863
  Requisition and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act 1952
  State Acquisition of Lands For Union Purposes (Validation) Act 
  Bihar Land Reforms Law 1969
  National Highways Act 1956 should be repealed and merged          
  with the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988.
  Petroleum and Minerals Pipe (Acquisition of Right of User Land) 
   Act 1962
  Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act 1948
  Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act, 1957/1971.
  Works of Defence Act, 1903
  Cantonment Act 1923/ 1942 /1957
  Special Economic Zones Act
  Damodar Valley Corporation Act, 1948
 
You may also want to read...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Building a Better India – Part 10: Rebuilding India's Banking System

(Kolkata-based Dalbir Chhibbar practised as a CA till 1990 and later started his own buinsess) 

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COMMENTS

Shreekanth Prabhu

2 years ago

Government should also avoid largese while granting land. All the leases which were done at a pittance and for political reasons should be canceled. Any land use conversion should be monetized so that Government also gains not just somebody else making windfall gains. Evaluation of land price should be done by Banks using professional approach than by revenue officials. In many case each land has one market rate and another rate affixed by revenue official, which is generally far lower, leading to black economy.

Charging for Debit Card?
The letter from AVSN Murthy under the caption “Why charge for debit cards?” caught my attention. I had complained through your esteemed magazine, in July 2013 (which you had duly published), that charging for debit card was unjustifiable, especially for senior citizens who use debit cards only occasionally. I had suggested that, at the most, the bank could charge at the time of issue (one-time charge) and not for the next 10 years. There was no response.
 
When I updated my Canara Bank passbook (Lokhandwala Branch, Mumbai), I found that a sum of Rs112/- had been debited from my account on 4 July 2013 even though I had never used the debit card. I am a senior citizen who has no regular income and, therefore, regular withdrawal through debit card does not arise at all.  
 
Hence, I returned my debit card to the bank on 4 October 2013. The bank charged again Rs165/- for cancellation of the debit card. I had to shell out a total of rupees Rs277/- for nothing. I entirely agree with Mr Murthy and request the governor RBI to advise banks to withdraw their ill-conceived idea of charging for debit cards. 
Venkatesh Sharma, by email
 
Wonder book!
I am a regular reader of Moneylife; this is the first time writing you. I don’t know how to express my gratitude for giving us the summary of the ‘wonder book’, Good Medicine by Holford. I wish I could have bought it at once. Thanks Mr Holford for creating awareness among the masses.
Manohar Bhai Mehta, by email
 
Expectations and hopes
Narendra Modi has, indeed, earned a political mandate to recalibrate the system to fulfil his promise. Speculation is rife about the likely shape and structure of the Modi administration. As a virtual outsider to Delhi’s charmed power circles, Mr Modi comes with a distinct advantage: he, or his style of functioning, at once, make him less predictable and, consequently, less vulnerable. Not only does Mr Modi have a mind of his own, he also prefers to keep his own counsel. And he has the numbers to back him. It is a foregone conclusion that entities, such as a coordination committee or the National Advisory Council (NAC), will not mean much.
 
These are some of the characteristics that will define the Modi administration. He will restore the primacy of the prime minister’s office (PMO). Mr Modi’s PMO will not only drive policy but also monitor implementation.
 
  • • Talented bureaucrats will be rewarded with good assignments. Performance will define the index.
  •  
  • •Members of the Cabinet, unlike those of UPA, will be accountable; so they should be ready for performance audit. In Gujarat, Mr Modi demonstrated his hands-on approach to administration and the tendency to hire technocrats as advisors.
  •  
  • •The discretionary powers of the political office will be severely curtailed. He will push for digitisation of government records and processes. Even all paperwork related to projects and clearances will be digitised—not only will this ensure transparency but will also decentralise government decision making, precluding the need for constant engagement with the concerned Cabinet minister.
 
Will he encourage a coterie? No harm having a close confidant like Amit Shah. Encouraging coteries and palace intrigues is dangerous. 
 
Let there be a real, and big, break from the past.
S Hariharan, by email 
 
Excellent financial magazine
At the outset, I would like to congratulate Moneylife magazine for its excellent unbiased analysis of various issues affecting common man in their daily life. While I subscribe to many financial magazines, I prefer Moneylife. I am really happy to share with you that I have made reasonably good profit by going through your Stocks Street Beat pages. I have even recommended this magazine to many of my friends.
 
If possible, please provide a list of 10 good companies every time, for every segment, like mid-cap, small-cap and large-cap, as it will enable us to take an informed decision regarding purchase and sale.
DH Subramaniam, by email
 
I liked the articles!
The article titled “A world without medicines” by Dr BM Hegde (Moneylife, 12 June 2014) is informative. Some medicines, and some edible oil companies, are falsely propagating that their medicine reduces cholesterol, or their oil has less or no cholesterol (the root cause of heart ailments). This is abundantly clear from Dr Hegde’s article.
 
I also liked the article “You be the Judge”, written by Bapoo Malcolm, on the subject of ‘Arbitration’. Most of the time, we feel that arbitration saves time in case of disputes. This is not true, as is clear from advocate Malcolm’s article. As he has said, arbitration is good, when the dispute is related to a matter which is technical in nature; and an arbitrator who has technical knowledge should also have legal knowledge to give correct arbitration ‘award’ to the dispute, which, in 90% of the cases, does not take place. 
 
I liked both the articles for their in-depth knowledge and their presentation in a language that a common man can understand. 
Shirish S Shanbhag, by email 
 
Non receipt of I-T refunds
This is with reference to the Moneylife Cover Story, “Tax Torture”(1 May 2014 ). In August 2011, I received a letter under the caption  “Intimation u/s 245 of the I.T. Act, 1961” conveying that while a refund was found to be due, since a few demands were not met, the proposed refund amount was being adjusted.
 
On receipt of the letter, I looked into my papers and found that all the demands pertaining to four assessment years between 1998-99 and 2007-08, referred to in the letter, were paid. I wrote back enclosing copies of the respective challans on the same day, to which I have neither received any reply nor the refund amount. I am a retired senior Central government officer aged about 80 years. In such a situation we are helpless.
BK Mitra, by email 
 
Maximum offer price?
This is with regard to “As the market hits all-time highs, where are the IPOs?” by Yogesh Sapkale. Balance of greed of promoters and the interest of IPO investor is the need of hour. Independent regulatory framework for IPO pricing (say, a maximum offer price which cannot be exceeded) should be framed. This will go a long way in protecting investors. Mindless imitation of the US market (which is mature and where strict penalties for siphoning of IPO money are in place) cannot be the guiding principle for allowing the pricing by the promoter and the investment banker. 
CH Prakash
 
Traditional villain?
This is with regard to “A World without Medicines” by Prof BM Hegde. This article has put the traditional villain—cholesterol—in an entirely different light. Thanks Prof Hegde!
Pramod Bhave
 
Worth implementing
This is with regard to “Level-playing Field for Government Banks?” by Sucheta Dalal. Nayak committee recommendations are worth implementing. These public sector banks will not be able to come out of the morass they are in. I am sure Dr Raghuram Rajan and Arun Jaitely will ensure that Nayak committee recommendations are adopted.
SSA Zaidi 
 
Colonial laws!
This is with regard to “Achche Din for Savers?” 
 
I agree with Ameet Patel that reforms are needed in taxation, but excise and service tax are taxes on value generation/ creation. Why do we need archaic, colonial laws that inhibit productive activity of value creation? Abolish excise and service tax to reduce impediments to economic prosperity.
Rajan Vaswani
 
Very good article
This is with regard to “Debit card annual fees: Why most customers shouldn’t be charged” by Puneetkumar Pattar. A very good article. I had the same experience with HDFC Bank where my ATM card was forcefully converted to a debit card. I’m being charged for the debit card. However, ICICI Bank does provide an ATM Card.
Raviraj
 

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