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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CAG report slams ONGC for incorrectly reporting crude oil production
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has slammed the "over-reporting and incorrect reporting" of crude oil production by the ONGC, and recommended that the company should not include items like condensate, basic sediment and water as crude oil production.
 
"The over-reporting and incorrect reporting of crude oil production has presented an inaccurate picture of performance of the company on crude oil production and has led to the company sharing an additional subsidy burden of Rs 18,787.43 crore from 2012 to 2015," said the CAG report tabled in Parliament on Monday.
 
It said the "measurement and metering system" for crude oil production in the state-run company also had "several infirmities".
 
The CAG report recommended that the company should report condensate as a "separate stream as opined by the international consultant".
 
The official auditor maintained that in western offshore for the ONGC operations, the reported production quantity measured at offshore platforms were higher than the actual sale quantity "with the bulk of differences in volume arising during transportation of crude oil in a closed pipeline".
 
The CAG added: "Reasons for the differences should have been investigated and corrective action should have been taken."
 
Moreover, the report said: "In onshore areas, it was noticed that to reconcile over-reported production, fictitious inflating of closing stock of crude oil, erroneous reporting of theft of crude oil and reporting non-existent pit oil as stock were adopted."
 
The CAG said: "The company should strictly adhere to prescribed schedules laid down for calibration of all crude oil measuring devices such as storage tanks and Mass Flow Meters, Turbine Meters, Auto Suppliers etc in both offshore and onshore assets to ensure accuracy of their measurement".
 
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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Modi to launch PMO app at MyGov anniversary event
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday launch the new PMO app at a function organised by MyGov here, officials said.
 
The app would correspond to the website of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
 
"Interestingly, the team that won the contest to develop the app is a team of young engineering students from Delhi," MyGov Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gaurav Dwivedi said here on Thursday. 
 
The government had launched a two-phased contest in March 2015 on MyGov platform for the development of PMO app. A team of six engineering students from Delhi Technical University won the contest and finally got to develop the app.
 
"Prime Minister Modi would launch the app during the second anniversary function of MyGov that we are organising here on August 6. The event will feature multiple panel discussions and the first ever 'town hall' to be addressed by the Prime Minister," Dwivedi said. 
 
It would be Modi's first 'town hall' address in the country. He had last year answered questions from the audience at a town hall event at the Facebook headquarters in the US. 
 
Those who would get to interact with the Prime Minister in the town hall have been selected from among the regular users of MyGov platform, who have pitched in "quality suggestions" for various government programmes, the official said.
 
"We are trying to get a fair representation of people from across the country. Those who have been active on MyGov platform and have contributed with quality suggestions are being short-listed. But it is not an easy task given that the number of such participants is quite large," Dwivedi said.
 
The day-long event will have panel discussions and see participation from union ministers and senior officials, he said.
 
MyGov was launched by Modi in July 2014 to provide opportunity to the people to participate in multiple theme-based discussions and share their thoughts. 
 
The platform has several groups like Clean Ganga, Girl Child Education, Digital India, Food Security and Healthy India. 
 
MyGov has 3.52 million registered members, 1,82,000 submissions in 491 tasks and 3.40 million comments in 590 discussion themes. 
 
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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