Nation
Parliament clears GST, PM says will empower states, end corruption
Marking a major leap towards enforcing a unified tax regime in the country, Parliament on Monday gave its nod to the constitutional amendment bill on a Goods and Services Tax (GST) in what is seen as the most radical indirect tax reform since Independence.
 
The Lok Sabha voted for the second time on the measure in little over an year it had first cleared the enabling legislation in 2015.
 
The lower house of parliament had to take up the bill yet again after the Rajya Sabha, where the bill had been languishing since then as the government did not have a majority in the house, gave its nod with few vital amendments on August 3.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the Lok Sabha when the bill was passed as were Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and other senior ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and BJP patriarchs L.K. Advani and M.M. Joshi.
 
Making a departure, a jovial mood prevailed in the house even while the amendments and the bill was taken up for voting.
 
As it was a Constitutional amendment bill, division of votes was also mandatory.
 
"The motion is adopted by the majority of the house and not less than by the two-third of the majority of the house as required by the Constitution," Speaker Sumitra Mahajan announced every time at the end of division voting.
 
After its passage and the chair announced adjournment of the house, treasury bench members and Union ministers were seen greeting each other.
 
Intervening during the nearly six-hour debate on the bill, Modi said the GST bill will go a long way in helping states, support small entrepreneurs and also curb the menace of corruption.
 
Expanding GST as "Great Step by Team India, Great Step towards Transformation and Great Steps towards Transparency", he said that it will be an important step towards getting the country rid of "tax terrorism" and also make "consumers the king".
 
He asked Jaitley to ensure that 16 states ratify the bill at the earliest and also that adequate steps are taken to ensure early passage of the draft legislation on integrated GST, the central GST and the state GST.
 
The government will be targeting April 1, 2017 (the next financial year) for the roll out.
 
Replying to the debate, Jaitley said that the uniform tax law will India make an "integrated market and once it is enforced, "doing business in this country will become easier".
 
He also said demand for reducing indirect taxes and hiking direct taxes is not practical.
 
Jaitley hit out at the Congress, saying the 18 per cent cap on GST rate was suggested by the party only after the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha.
 
Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge took a dig at Modi, saying he had opposed the bill as Gujarat Chief Minister.
 
"We were the creators of the GST. We were the first to bring the GST. We support it. Those who are passing the GST now, why were they opposing it when they were in the opposition?
 
"Had they agreed to our conditions on the GST earlier, the delay wouldn't have happened," he said.
 
The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2014 and amendments (carried out by Rajya Sabha) were declared approved by a two-thirds majority with 443 members voting in its favour and none against.
 
Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK, which had staged a walk out in the Rajya Sabha, did so in the Lok Sabha also.
 
The amendments to the government bill, as passed by the Rajya Sabha, moved by Revolutionary Socialist Party's N.K Premchandran were also negated by voice vote, while six amendments including one on scrapping of additional tax moved by the government as amended by the Rajya Sabha were passed.
 
The government had moved amendments in the Rajya Sabha to the bill to accommodate concerns of opposition, notably the Congress, scrapping the proposed levy of 1 per cent additional duty to compensate states for at least two years and make the dispute resolution mechanism stronger, but the third demand - of specifying the GST rate in the bill itself - was not acceded to.
 
The new tax regime -- the idea for which was mooted in 2003 -- seeks to subsume all central indirect levies like excise duty, countervailing duty and service tax, as also state taxes such as value added tax, entry tax and luxury tax, to create a single, pan-India market.
 
It was however seven years later that a formal bill was first introduced, but this lapsed when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was voted out.
 
In 2014, a recast bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 19, and was passed by it five months later on May 6, 2015. The bill was then referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha for examination which submitted its Report on July 22, 2015.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Intel to pay Rs16.5 crore property tax in Bengaluru
Global chip maker Intel would pay Rs16.5 crore by August 28, as directed by the Karnataka High Court, to the city's civic corporation towards property tax arrears, an official said on Monday.
 
"Intel India gave in writing that it would abide by the High Court order to pay 50 per cent of the Rs 34 crore it owes to us by August 28," Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) spokesman S.S. Khandre told IANS here.
 
Confirming the development, an Intel India spokesman said the company would comply with the court's interim order, which it obtained on challenging the BBMP notice but declined to elaborate, as the issue was sub-judice.
 
"Though Intel India paid property tax partly on its campus as per its estimates under the self-assessment scheme, we served a notice to it, conveying that as per our calculations, it has to pay Rs 34-crore property tax, including arrears for the land it acquired and had built its product development office," Khandre recalled.
 
BBMP and Intel India subsidiary, however, did not share details of the notice served, when the latter challenged it in the High Court and the interim order was given to pay 50 per cent of the tax plus arrears.
 
"Our Mahadevapura joint commissioner Muni Veerapppa went to Intel office earlier in the day to collect the amount as per the court order, which said it (amount) should be paid by, and not on, August 28," Khandre pointed out.
 
The corporation also threatened to dump truck loads of garbage in the company's campus, located in the city's eastern suburb on the outer ring road, if it did not rpt not pay the amount by August 28, to expose it as a property tax defaulter.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Struggling Twitter to rent out office space
 The beleaguered micro-blogging website Twitter is looking to rent space at its headquarters in San Francisco to other companies.
 
According to sfgate.com, Twitter has contacted San Francisco brokerage firm Cresa to market 183,642 square feet of "fully furnished" office space at its two buildings in Market Square.
 
"We're always looking at ways to use our office spaces more efficiently and effectively. We remain committed to our home in San Francisco's Mid-Market area," a Twitter spokesperson was quoted as saying.
 
Earlier this year, Twitter was considering renting out a partial floor of its Market Street headquarters to financial technology firm Affirm but the deal fell apart.
 
According to reports, Twitter is also seeking to rent out 24,000 square feet in its Manhattan office.
 
Earlier this month, there were rumours saying that former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer was buying the micro-blogging website.
 
There were multiple reports, saying that Ballmer and Saudi Arabia's Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal were getting ready with a bid to buy Twitter.
 
Twitter was yet to respond to the rumour.
 
Earlier, although it added three million users -- one million more that what analysts had expected -- the not-so-promising second quarter earnings results led to the shares of micro-blogging website Twitter tumbling.
 
The company posted quarterly revenue of $602 million, up 20 per cent year-over-year and reported $107 million GAAP net loss ($0.15 per share) with quarterly non-GAAP net income of $93 million ($0.13 per share).
 
A year ago, the year-over-year growth was 61 per cent and two years back, it was a whopping 124 per cent.
 
The average monthly active users (MAUs) were 313 million for the quarter, up only 3 per cent compared to 310 million in the previous quarter.
 
The micro-blogging website is now looking at the video and news streaming space to revive its fortunes.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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