State FMs to meet on 20th September on GST

New Delhi: State finance ministers are likely to meet on 20th September to discuss the constitutional amendments needed to roll out the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST), reports PTI.

"The state finance ministers would meet on 20th September to discuss the re-revised draft of the Constitution Amendment Bill on Goods and Services Tax (GST)," a source told PTI.

However, according to sources, the meeting is unlikely to yield much results as the BJP-ruled states are firm on their views to oppose the existing structure of the proposed indirect tax regime.

"We do not support the existing structure of GST, as it would hamper the state autonomy. We would oppose it in the present form," Madhya Pradesh finance minister Raghavji said.

GST is likely to miss the 1 April, 2011, deadline as the Constitutional Amendment Bill on GST could not be introduced in the Monsoon session.

The indirect tax regime is expected to replace excise duty, service tax on the Centre's end and VAT on the states front, besides local levies, cesses and surcharges.

The BJP-ruled states had objected the revised draft of the GST, saying it does not clarify how the changes will be brought about in the GST structure.

The earlier draft was rejected by the states on account of the proposed vesting of veto powers with the Union finance minister on state taxation issues.

The first draft had proposed setting up of a GST Council to take decisions on GST with the consent of the Union finance minister and a two-third majority of states.

The revised draft, however, said the council could take a decision only when there is a consensus.

However, BJP-ruled states wanted to know the clear meaning of consensus and suggested changing this word with "consent". Both the drafts have also suggested a dispute settlement mechanism.

Mr Mukherjee had said a third revised draft would be prepared to sort out states' concerns and the finance ministry officials have started preparing it.


SEZ documents can't be kept secret in public interest case: HC

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has held that documents pertaining to the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) cannot be kept confidential and would have to be shared with people when public interest is involved, reports PTI.

The ruling was delivered yesterday by a bench, headed by Justice B H Marlapalle, which disposed of a petition filed by SKIL Infra, which has joined hands with development authority CIDCO to set up Navi Mumbai SEZ.

SKIL Infra had challenged RTI commissioner's order asking CIDCO to provide documents to a Navi Mumbai resident regarding development of Navi Mumbai SEZ Pvt Ltd.

SKIL said its joint venture agreement with CIDCO has a clause that documents pertaining to the project would be kept confidential.

The court, however, ruled that in a case where public interest is involved such a clause of confidentiality would not be applicable, and documents would have to be made public.

Sanjay Surve, the Navi Mumbai resident, had sought some information from CIDCO on the development of Navi Mumbai SEZ.

He asked for 24 documents but was given only 15 and his plea for the remaining was rejected.

Mr Surve appealed to the managing director of CIDCO against his organisation's refusal to provide the remaining documents.

CIDCO MD gave him one more document and rejected his plea for eight others.

Mr Surve then applied to Information Commissioner of RTI seeking an order to CIDCO to provide the remaining eight documents. The RTI Commissioner asked CIDCO to provide the documents. SKIL challenged this order in the high court.


Curbing tech piracy can stimulate Asian economies: Report

Singapore: Asian economies led by China can reap a financial windfall and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in a few years by cracking down on software piracy, reports PTI quoting an industry study.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) and research group IDC said nearly 60% of the software programmes installed on personal computers in 2009 across the world's largest region were unlicensed.

Reducing software piracy to about 50% in four years would produce almost 41 billion dollars in economic activity, create 350,000 new jobs and generate nearly nine billion dollars in taxes, according to the joint study.

Achieving the same reduction in two years would boost the economic benefits for the region by another 33%, a press statement said.

Worldwide, a cut in piracy rates from the current 42% to 32% over four years would add $142 billion to the global economy, 500,000 new jobs and $32 billion in tax revenues, the study said.

Roland Chan, BSA's senior regional director for marketing, said the Asia-Pacific region will capture "more than three fifths" of the new jobs forecast be generated globally because of the size of the market.

"Reducing software piracy is an opportunity to inject much-needed stimulus into Asia Pacific economies," he said.


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