India signs multilateral agreement to check tax evasion

The agreement, convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters, is a multilateral agreement of 31 other nations which “promotes international co-operation while respecting the rights of taxpayers”

New Delhi: Taking another step towards combating black money, India has signed a multi-lateral agreement with economic powers like France and Germany to check both tax evasion and avoidance, reports PTI.

The agreement, convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters, is a multilateral agreement of 31 other nations which “promotes international co-operation while respecting the rights of taxpayers.”

The agreement has been signed under the aegis of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a top global financial body, at its headquarters in Paris recently.

A finance ministry official said the agreement was signed by CBDT official and joint secretary in foreign tax division of finance ministry Sanjay K Mishra along with OECD deputy secretary general Rintaro Tamakio.

“The convention provides for administrative co-operation between the parties in the assessment and collection of taxes with a view to combating tax avoidance and evasion,” an OECD statement said in this regard.

By joining the agreement, India and other 31 signatories, according to OECD, “send a strong signal that countries are acting together to ensure that individuals and multinational enterprises pay the right amount of tax, at the right time and in the right place.”

“India has moved very quickly since its commitment to the convention at the November G20 ceremony in Cannes and I expect it will be the first non-OECD G20 country for which the updated convention is in force”, Jeffrey Owens, director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration said in a statement today.

“With taxpayers increasingly operating on a global basis, tax authorities are moving from bilateral to multilateral cooperation and from exchange of information on request to other forms of co-operation. The convention is an effective and practical tool to help tax authorities in their everyday work,” the statement said.

The other members under the convention are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.

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PM forms expert committee to look into sugar decontrol

“The committee would look into all the issues relating to de-regulation of the sugar sector and it has been requested to complete its task as early as possible and give its recommendations to the prime minister,” a statement issued by PMO said

New Delhi: Prime minister Manmohan Singh today constituted an expert committee, headed by his Economic Advisory Council chairman C Rangarajan, to examine issues related to decontrol of the sugar sector, reports PTI.

Earlier this month, representatives of the apex sugar industry bodies ISMA and NFCSF had met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, seeking partial decontrol of the sector, including freedom to sell sugar in the open market and doing away with the levy obligation for Public Distribution System (PDS).

“The committee would look into all the issues relating to de-regulation of the sugar sector and it has been requested to complete its task as early as possible and give its recommendations to the prime minister,” a statement issued by PMO said.

The other members of the committee include Kaushik Basu, Chief Economic Adviser, ministry of finance, and secretaries to the Department of Food and Agriculture.

Other members of the panel are: Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) chairman Ashok Gulati, former agriculture secretary Nand Kumar and KP Krishnan, secretary EAC Convener.

“The committee has been empowered to involve such experts, academics as required as special invitees,” the statement said, adding that the food ministry would provide the necessary support to the committee in discharging its functions.

The statement did not state any deadline for the committee to submit the report.

The sugar industry is under government control, right from the level of production to distribution.

Under the levy obligation, sugar mills are required to sell 10% of their output to the government at below-cost rates for supply to ration shops.

Mills supply levy sugar at 60% of the cost of production, resulting in an annual industry loss of about Rs2,500-Rs3,000 crore.

The industry has also been demanding removal of the monthly release system under which food ministry allocates quantity of sugar to be sold in the open market every month.

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