Economy
Rail Budget Highlights

Suresh Prabhu has set four goals to transform Indian Railways over the next five years, including delivery of a sustained and measurable improvement in customer experience and to make railway a safer means of travel

 

Presenting his maiden Railway Budget, Suresh Prabhu, the chartered accountant-turned politician, made several announcements to improve amenities and safety for passengers. Prabhu also announced an investment plan of over Rs1 lakh crore for FY2015-16.
 
Here are the highlights of the Railway Budget for 2015-16…
 
* No hike in passenger fares
 
* Speed of trains running at 110-130 kmph to be increased to 160-200 kmph
 
* Over 1,700 toilets on trains already replaced, another 17,000 to be replaced
 
* Toilets at stations need improvement; 650 additional toilets to be created in addition to 120 last year
 
* New department to keep stations clean
 
* Railways to Work on 'Swachh Rail - Swachh Bharat
 
* Defence travel system developed to eliminate system warrants
 
* SMS alerts to be introduced
 
* Paperless ticketing system to be developed
 
* Wi-Fi facility to be extended to category B stations (total 400 stations would be covered)
 
* Suburban network in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai to be augmented
 
* Announcement on new trains/frequencies to be made during current parliament session
 
* 10 cities identified for creating fully-functional satellite terminals to reduce congestion
 
* All newly-manufactured coaches to be braille-enabled
 
* Online booking for wheel chairs to be enabled
 
* Over 20,000 suggestions received on improving facilities
 
* Railways proposes to install Train Protection Warning System and Train Collision Avoidance System on select routes at the earliest
 
* During 2015-16, 970 ROBs/RUBs and other safety-related works to eliminate 3,438 level crossings at an expense of Rs6,581 crore sanctioned.
 
* Size of the plan budget has gone up by 52% to Rs1,00,011 crore in 2015-16 from Rs65,798 crore in 2014-15.
 
* Investment of Rs8.5 lakh crore in next five years
 
* Railways to increase daily passenger carrying capacity from 21 million to 30 million, increase track length by 20% from 1.14 lakh km to 1.38 lakh km, grow annual freight carrying capacity to 1.5 billion tonnes from one billion tonnes.
 
* Seventy-seven new projects worth Rs96,182 crore sanctioned
 
* Four goals: Deliver sustained improvement in customer facilities, Make railways safer means of travel, expand substantially, make Indian Railways self-sustainable
 
* Nine thrust areas: Railways to once again become prime mover of economy; resource mobilization for higher investments; decongestion of heavy haul routes and speeding up of trains; emphasis on gauge conversion, doubling, tripling and electrification; project delivery; passenger amenities, safety; transparency and system improvement; railways to continue to be the preferred mode of transport for the masses; sustainability
 
* Foreign rail technology co-operation scheme proposed to be launched
 
* New governance structure required; more decentralisation and deregulation; accounting system to be revamped
 
* Resources to be generated through public-private-partnerships
 
* Assets to be monetised rather than sold; land records being digitised
 
* Products made by self-help groups to be encouraged
 
* Railways cannot function in business-as-usual mode, have to keep up with changing times
 
* Green technology locomotives to be introduced
 
* Two dedicated freight corridors gathering steam
 
* Innovation Council and Technology Portal to be set up to invite suggestions on improvements
 
* MPs urged to use part of their funds for improving rail facilities
 
* Open bids to be invited from private parties to develop railway stations
 
* Operational ratio of 88.5% targetted
 
* Waste-to-energy conversion plants to be created
 
* Budget part of trilogy: White paper already tabled, this budget, vision document soon
 
* Railways backbone of national connectivity
 
* Will partner with private sector to improve last mile connectivity
 
* Railways unique integrator of modern India
 
* Facilities not improved substantially over past few decades
 
* Vicious cycle of under-investment must end
 
* 1,219 sections on network - most of them overworked
 

User

Taxation of investment vehicles: Will the Budget set right the distortions - II
Will Finance Minister Arun Jaitley provide some clarity on different and confused tax provisions, especially for investment vehicles such as mutual funds, trusts and private equities in the Budget 2015?
 
All over the world, there are clear rules for being eligible for pass-through status, but unfortunately, the principles on representative taxation in India have never been designed to tax collective investment devices. The least what Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should do, in Budget 2015, is to set right the highly distorted scene of taxation of investment vehicles, especially when international investors are invariably flummoxed about tax uncertainty. These vehicles include the private equity (PE) funds and venture capital funds (VCFs), collectively called alternative investment funds (AIFs), securitisation vehicles, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs).
 

CBDT circular and Bangalore ITAT ruling

A recent ruling of the Bangalore ITAT in the case of M/s India Advantage Fund –VII vs. Dy. Commissioner of Income Tax, examined the general representative tax principles in India, conditions of taxation of an AOP, tests for determinacy of beneficiaries in case of a trust, and was particularly helpful is expanding/ extending the benefit of a CBDT circular issued recently on 28 July 2014.
 
The CBDT circular had the effect of laying down, as most assessing officers would have believed, that a trust will be taken having determinate beneficiaries only if the beneficiaries were named in the trust deed. On the contrary, the ITAT rules that even if beneficiaries are added later, as long as beneficiaries could be ascertained with the help of the trust deed, the trust will still be a determinate trust. As a corollary, it may be safe to hold that even where beneficiaries change hands subsequently, the determinacy test will still be satisfied. 
 
The ITAT held on the issue that as long as the trust deed gives the details of the beneficiaries and the description of the person who is to be benefited, the beneficiaries cannot be said to be uncertain. Where the beneficiaries are determinable irrespective of the percentage share being prescribed at the inception, the business trust would be construed to be a determinate trust and the trust should be a pass-through. 
 
The ruling came as a spite in the much ambiguous tax environment pertaining to business trusts. However, a ruling is, after all, is a ruling, and it comes from a tribunal. Grapevine is that the Department has already gone in appeal against the ruling. The High Court’s decision, which normally may take quite a few years, may be a cliff hanger. In the meantime, tribunals from different other places may have different rulings to offer. And who knows how many years will this whole process take?
 
In the meantime, many of the AIFs would have been redeemed. The trustees or the asset managers may still be around. The Department’s action, or even show causes, may cause shockwaves among the asset managers. After all, the Vodafone episode clearly indicates that what international investors are invariably flummoxed about is tax uncertainty. Therefore, the investments into the country suffer.
 

Securitisation distribution tax has killed securitisation transactions:

The Union Budget for 2013-14 introduced taxation regime for securitisation transactions by inserting Chapter XII – EA in the Income Tax Act, 1961. Pursuant to the insertion any income distributed by the securitisation trust/ SPV was to suffer distribution tax. The tax provisions were similar to those applicable to mutual funds. The distribution tax regime adversely impacted the securitisation industry. The distribution tax applicable on income distributed by securitisation trusts has the following drawbacks:
 
a. The distribution tax is on the gross income. The investors in securitised instruments are all leveraged entities, who have their own expenses, primarily interest. The net income of such investors is only a small fraction of the gross income received by such entity. Clearly enough, if an investor in securitisation has to pay tax on gross incomes, not only is the tax offensive, it is also outright inequitable, as it fails to take into consideration the leverage of entities. At the same time, a tax based on gross income ignores the profits or losses of the investor, and becomes particularly inequitable in case of losses.
 
b. In the Indian context, investors in securitised debt instruments have generally been mutual funds, banks, financial institutions, non-banking financial companies and insurance companies.
 
i. The chapter exempts mutual funds from the applicability of distribution tax.
 
ii. For investors such as banks, insurance companies etc. the gross income from the investment would be taxed at a flat rate of, effectively, 28% / 34% at the trust level. Further investors would also suffer disallowance of expenses incurred in relation to the income from PTC’s under section 14A of the Act.
 
c. Such distribution tax regime would, generally, hold good where there are a number of retail investors earning income, as in the case of Mutual Fund paying income or a company paying dividend.  In such cases, admittedly, it is onerous to track if such income/ dividend is offered to tax by the investors.  However, contrary to this, securities issued by the SPV are, generally, subscribed to by institutional investors.  The number of investors in each SPV would, generally, range between 2 to 20.  Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the income earned by such large investors will go unreported.
 

REITs are a non-starter:

REITs, supposedly initiated by the Budget 2014, have been a non-starter. SEBI came up with its final regulations in September, 2014; however, REITs are yet to make a debut. Our interaction with the potential sponsors clearly indicates that tax issues are keeping them on the hold.
 
In fact, REITs are clearly a model adopted from the USA, which allows full tax transparency to REITs, subject to a mandatory norm for distribution of a minimum 90% of the taxable income. Interestingly, SEBI regulations still follow the 90% mandatory distribution norm but the tax pass-through is only in case of interest income. This appears quite queer, because in view of the nature of an REIT, it is unlikely that an REIT will have an interest income. The most likely source of income is rentals – and there is no tax pass through on rental income.
 

Ideal structure for investment conduits: A conditional pass through:

The ideal structure for investment conduits is conditional pass-through. The SPV is called a see-through conduit, as the tax laws can see the investors receiving the income through the SPVs. Pre-conditions for see through approach:
 
The SPV is a non-substantive body; investors are the real owners of the pool
The SPV’s organisational form does not matter
Trustees must have no discretion in application of income
The share of income received by the participants must mirror proportionate share in the income of the SPV – proportionate to the interest of the investors
See-through approach relates to gross income of the SPV and not residual income
Tranching amounts to re-allocation of income and disturbs the parity between income received by the SPV and distributed by the SPV
There must not be an equity class entitled to variable, residual income
 
If there conditions are satisfied with regard to any business trust, then the tax authorities must see through the SPVs to tax the ultimate investors making the funds structure more conducive for existence. 
 
(Vinod Kothari is a chartered accountant, trainer and author. Nidhi Bothra is executive vice president at Vinod Kothari Consultants Pvt Ltd)
 

User

Public Interest Exclusive
7 Angry Activists Boycott Times Now
Seven prominent activists, including Aruna Roy, Vrinda Grover, Kavita Krishnan and  Kavita Srivastava decided to boycott Times Now, especially the News Hour programme anchored by Arnab Goswami, in protest against alleged vilification of activists
 
Seven prominent woman activists, in an open letter, have decided to boycott Times Now, especially the News Hour programme anchored by the channel’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, in protest against alleged vilification of activists and dissenting opinions. The activists are Aruna Roy (Right to Information, NREGA and Democratic Rights Activist), Vrinda Grover (Lawyer, Supreme Court), Kavita Krishnan (Women's movement and Left Activist), Kavita Srivastava (Women's movement and Civil Liberties activist), Sudha Ramalingam (Lawyer, Madras High Court and Civil liberties Activist), Pamela Philipose (Feminist and Senior Journalist) and Anjali Bharadwaj (Right to Information Activist).
 
All these activists wrote an open letter to Arnab Goswami, alleging denial to articulate their views repeatedly. Citing a specific example on 17th and 18th February 2015, during the News Hour programme to debate on the offloading of Greenpeace representative Priya Pillai, the letter says, right from the start, the activists were denied the right to articulate their views. “Not only were their mikes at times muted, they were repeatedly heckled and subjected to hate speech, with you, as the anchor, encouraging, even orchestrating and amplifying these responses,” the letter says.
 
Here is the open letter sent by these activists to Arnab Goswami…
 
24th February, 2015
 
Dear Mr. Arnab Goswami,
 
We, the undersigned, who have on many occasions participated in the 9:00 p.m. News Hour programme on Times Now, anchored by you , wish to raise concerns about the shrinking space in this programme for reasoned debate and the manner in which it has been used to demonize people’s movements and civil liberties activists.
 
On 17th  and 18th February 2015, in the News Hour show , a section of activists were invited to contribute to the debate on the “offloading” of Greenpeace representative Priya Pillai. Right from the start, the activists were denied the right to articulate their views. Not only were their mikes at times muted, they were repeatedly heckled and subjected to hate speech, with you, as the anchor, encouraging, even orchestrating and amplifying these responses.
 
We would like to make it clear here that the point to note is not our personal hurt, humiliation or the lack of respect shown to us from the other panellists, the anchor, or the channel. We also recognize that combative questions could be put to us when we participate in such a programme and that people may express their disagreements in a heated manner.
 
But we do object, and take serious exception, to the repeated branding of activists as ‘anti-national’ or ‘unpatriotic’ – words that are terms of abuse and hate-speech, and that can, when repeated ad nauseam in an influential media space, have serious repercussions. Rights activists, public figures and defendants in legal cases have been subjected to hate crimes, and even killed, in the country.
 
The media, which has a duty to conduct itself responsibly, cannot be allowed to aggravate the vulnerability of human rights activists, who are already being targeted, vilified and demonized, by the state and other vested and dominant interests.  
 
We are aware that on earlier occasions, too, many other guests at the News Hour studios have also been subjected to similar treatment by anchors like you or your colleagues. In the process, debates and discussions on important subjects of national import have been reduced to a one-sided harangue, with differing and dissenting voices being deliberately stifled. Loose allegations have been made about them, aspersions cast on their motives, and insinuations made about their patriotism, with all obligations of the media to conduct themselves in a neutral, fair and accurate manner being flung to the winds.
 
Our objection is not restricted to the occasions when activists have been subjected to this treatment. We find it equally objectionable when guests with points of view opposed to our own, are at the receiving end. We seek media space for rational presentation of arguments – our own as well as those whom we may disagree with, not for endorsement of our points of view by the media.   
 
We believe it is important to seek transparency and accountability from the media. We are concerned when journalistic ethics outlined by the National Broadcasting Authority (NBA) are wilfully and habitually violated. We would like to cite here relevant portions of the Code of Ethics issued by the NBA.
 
"News shall not be selected or designed to promote any particular belief, opinion or desires of any interest group....
 
"Broadcasters shall ensure a full and fair presentation of news as the same is the fundamental responsibility of each news channel. Realizing the importance of presenting all points of view in a democracy, the broadcasters should, therefore, take responsibility in ensuring that controversial subjects are fairly presented, with time being allotted fairly to each point of view....
 
"TV News channels must provide for neutrality by offering equality for all affected parties, players and actors in any dispute or conflict to present their point of view. Though neutrality does not always come down to giving equal space to all sides (news channels shall strive to give main view points of the main parties) news channels must strive to ensure that allegations are not portrayed as fact and charges are not conveyed as an act of guilt."
 
"... avoid... broadcasting content that is malicious, biased, regressive, knowingly inaccurate, hurtful, misleading...."
 
The television shows cited here were designed to canvas certain views held by the Government and the Intelligence Bureau and appeared as a platform for the public heckling and jeering of the activists involved, not just by other panellists but by the anchor himself. Far from maintaining neutrality and professionalism, you as the anchor were blatantly and aggressively opinionated, and never once provided the space for guests, whose views differed with yours, to voice their own opinions without continuous interruption and heckling. Apart from the fact that a fair allotment of time to them was never made, never once did you as the anchor consider the legitimate questions they raised as worthy of a response.
 
Not surprisingly then, an opportunity to question the accusations raised by the Government was not allowed. Instead, Government allegations were presented as self-evident facts by you as the anchor. You went on to claim that you had the ‘facts’ to prove the ‘anti-national’ character of one organization in particular and activists in general. While the responses of the activists on these panels were deliberately distorted, you as the anchor insinuated baselessly that the said activists were employing ‘hackers’, and that they had ‘deposed against India’.
 
We know that a similar scenario has been played out on many other occasions on the News Hour. The label ‘anti-national’ is attributed to invited guests without any basis in fact or law, as a term of abuse and hate-speech. Similar terms, used as forms of hate-speech, include, ‘Naxal’, ‘terrorist’, ‘terrorist sympathiser’.
 
It is inappropriate and irresponsible for channels to label anyone as ‘nationalist’ or ‘anti-national’ or ‘terrorist’ or the like. If panellists indulge in such terms, it is in fact the duty of the anchor to rein them in, and to ensure that such loaded and provocative words are not used to drown out the substantive points of the discussion or disagreement.
 
For moderators of the debate to allow such terms to be hurled at participants, and in fact to endorse and repeat such terms, is a gross abuse of the media’s immense power.
 
On one previous News Hour show on sexual violence in December 2013, intended ironically to mark the first anniversary of the 'Nirbhaya' rape, a prominent panellist on your programme repeatedly shouted that the two feminists on the panel were ‘Naxals who believed in free sex’. As such, the words ‘Naxalite’ and ‘free sex’ need not be pejorative. All sex should indeed be free. But in this case the terms were used as tools of abuse, equivalent to ‘terrorist’ and ‘slut’, in order to detract from reasoned argument.
 
Surely, even debates involving  panellists’ views on, or association with, the Naxalite movement in India, have to be conducted fairly and reasonably, without allowing the term ‘Naxal’ to be used as a form of abuse or to heckle a participant. Surely, even if participants and guests support self-determination in Kashmir; or are representatives of another country; or hold an abolitionist view on the death penalty; a news channel inviting them to express their views has the obligation to allow them to do so without being branded as ‘terrorists’ or ‘anti-nationals.’ If the Government can have talks with organisations who hold these opinions, or with leaders of these countries, they are surely entitled to be heard on national television with a modicum of dignity?
 
In protest against the vilification of activists and dissenting opinions, and the violation of the basic norms of professionalism, neutrality, reasonableness and fairness, we have for the present decided to stay away from Times Now debates. The purpose of this gesture of protest is to demand accountability of the television media, including Times Now, to the norms outlined by the NBA’s Code of Ethics. We take this step as an effort to promote public debate and a responsible engagement with opposing ideas and stances in order to deepen democracy.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Vrinda Grover, Lawyer, Supreme Court of India
 
Sudha Ramalingam, Lawyer, Madras High Court and Civil liberties Activist
 
Pamela Philipose, Feminist and Senior Journalist
 
Aruna Roy, Right to Information, NREGA and Democratic Rights Activist
 
Anjali Bharadwaj, Right to Information Activist  
 
Kavita Krishnan, Women's movement and Left Activist
 
Kavita Srivastava, Women's movement and Civil Liberties activist

User

COMMENTS

Bosco Menezes

2 years ago

It's a trash show & a trash anchor. Unfortunately so far Subramanium Swamy is the only one who has paid him back in the same coin.
But i disagree with some if the comments on this thread .... i dont feel it is an anti BJP show .... i feel rather that it is anti every sensible point of view :-)
And being liberal or standing up for tribals is not being anti-national.
I fully agree with the sentiments expressed in the letter of the activists, though I might not agree with all of their views.

milind

2 years ago

News as the ladies have said has to be fair and the channel should not side with one side. Nowadays we can see that Arnab is partisan and conducts the programme in such a way that everybody does not get a fair chance.
I would say that the panel selection itself is biased.
Anyway, the ladies have taken a good step and hope more people follow so as to teach Mr. Arnab some humility and bi-partisanship.

SAMUEL WARBAH

2 years ago

Everyone deserves respect irrespective on which side of the spectrum He or She believes

Ashok Gokhale

2 years ago

I agree with the activists. The News Hour anchor does not allow panelists, who hold views contrary to his, to adequately express their views without being constantly interrupted or otherwise discouraged. In fact, the News Hour debates are not debates but shouting matches in which the anchor cheerfully joins in! The anchor needs to introspect on how a debate should be conducted.
Ashok Gokhale

Mahesh S Bhatt

2 years ago

We are living on the fag end of Value Based systemic Governance.

Money talks Bull shit walks.

World & India are on the edge of great Economic depression & this shall surely support quicker precipitation.

They didnot allow helicopter attacks on Naxals.

There was writer Mrs Maheshwari who was interlocutor between Bengal government & Naxals.

She was offered Rice with Tamarind water & she due to habit of eatong dal/fish mentioned there is no dal/fish.

Naxals told Didi this is what is available.

Mrs Matateshwari was shocked at state of Naxals food buying capability.

We have grave situation in Land Bill too.

Property is available with constructions costs is Rs 1200/sqft but shamelessly tons of ads are coming everywhere promoting sale prices of Rs 5000 per sqft in Virar & Rs 40000 per sqft in Worli as per latest Fadnavis Ready reckoner rate update.

Its shocking how corrupt Politial class wants land the only common man's security hedge to be lost.

Gita says as you sow so shall you reap.Government officials from SRA to rich people each one is paying for corrupt land procurement processes & when Government goes through the same we have Ordinance.

This is true ruling crisis.

Enjoy & watch the fun times Mahesh

vinayak mahajan

2 years ago

There is indeed some facts in this letter.. I frequently watch this show.. the anchor many times pushes his views and his behaviour seems prejudiced... But this is not an alone example.. many tv shows and news in indian channels are pushing their own views without any facts... The main issue is media is not bound to follow the ethics laid by any organization... No agency ( autonomous or govt) has any power to take action as misconduct on media... whenever this point comes media make a cry that their freedom will be paralysed ... but time has come to laid down certain ethics for media.. make it accountable .. and some agency to monitor the ethics and regulations are followed and system to takedisciplinary action...

Suketu Shah

2 years ago

I love the way Dr Subramanium Swamy cut Arnab to his size and gave him a taste of his own medicine in the way he understand it most 2-3 months ago.Just decimiated him and his channel.

Vimala Manoharan

2 years ago

Arnab is a hypocrate..his debates look more to increase trp rating..with no constructive outcomes. I dont understand why politicians keep coming to his panel despite being insulted by him on many occasions.. if he is so brave and great journalist(he thinks so )will he speak in the same tone to jayalalitha or modi or mamta or mulayam or other big shots...

Anand Vaidya

2 years ago

These "activists" are not exactly angels. Just read their views on twitter or watch the TV. Best outcome (for us, citizens) is for these people to stay away. If they sign off twitter that will be double bonus.

REPLY

Navnith Krishnan

In Reply to Anand Vaidya 2 years ago

I am sorry.Nobody said these activists are angels. All these seven are either leftists or anarchists, but all Sonia's chamchas. The question is the way Arnab conducts the debate.

suruchi

2 years ago

That's how people behave when truth is told on their face. It takes a lot of courage to stand against all the odds and raise your voice which most of us can not even think of due to the fear of consequences. Arnab Goswami Sir, truly respect you and with you.

REPLY

Navnith Krishnan

In Reply to suruchi 2 years ago

I do agree that Arnab Goswami’s 9PM debates look more like a fish market.He takes half the time pontificating.If any opposite view is expressed he goes on interrupting repeating the same sentence again and again.It appears that he wants every one to talk at the same time creating a cacophony and then silences every body by his interventionist pontifications.Some spokespersons like those of Congress uses it to stop others from talking by constant chanting.As far as Pakistan is concerned,he brings in the same geriatric ex.army men who have an axe to grind because of the 1972 rout,to appear on behalf of them,one geriatric even threatening India with nukes.First of all Arnab should understand that he does not represent the Indian publicmbut only his marwadi bosses.

a mehta

2 years ago

good beginning. The Times now news hour with Arnab Goswami is more like a fish market than like a panel discussion. Arnab only allows those who agree to his line of thinking to talk. His shows are more like public arguments than like discussions.

K. V. Manjrekar

2 years ago

This channel can be bought over by lobbyists or political parties as was evident during the last Lok Sabha elecitons.
As rightly said by the activists the debates are totally biased and most of the time the "facts" that Arnab talks about are just allegations and he really conducts them in a way to stiffle voices which contradict his views or that of the lobbysts.

REPLY

Sreekanth Yelicherla

In Reply to K. V. Manjrekar 2 years ago

I thought it was already bought by UPA!

Navnith Krishnan

2 years ago

Arnab Goswami infarct does not allow any body to articulate by his constant interruptions. He goes on prompting every one to talk making a cacophony. I always avoid his debates since listening to it,I get headache.

K. M. Rao

2 years ago

We stopped watching the so called debates thrust on us in the guise of "News Hour"at 9 PM and switched over to channels which give us "plain news" not views of anchors.

Suketu Shah

2 years ago

Well done,high time.Utter nonsense channel total anti-BJP and talking unadultered biased thrash all the time.

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
  Loading...
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email

BUY NOW

The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)