Consumer Issues
Tobacco products cheaper than essential food items: Study
New Delhi : Tobacco products were cheaper than essential food items in India, says a new study.
 
"The current excise and Value Added Tax (VAT) rates are insufficient to increase the prices of tobacco products, therefore making these products easily affordable," said the study conducted by the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID) and Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
 
Highlighting that tobacco taxation as a fiscal policy was an advantage for both public health as well as revenue generation, Henk Bekedam, WHO representative to India, said: "A comprehensive tax policy leads to reduction in tobacco use especially among young people and at the same time provides increased revenues to the government.
 
"It has also been seen that affordability, in relation to income, of tobacco products is increasing at the national level, except for recent years," he said, adding that this was true even for the poorest households in the country.
 
The tax burden on tobacco products was not in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) recommendations, which says excise taxes should account for at least 70 percent of retail prices of tobacco products.
 
In recent times, the share of tax burden has also declined -- for cigarettes it declined from 55.3 percent in 2008 to 36.8 percent in 2013, and for bidis, it declined from 7.2 percent in 2011 to 5.3 percent in 2013.
 
The study corroborates the recent WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2015, which indicated that cigarettes have become more affordable in India during 2008-14.
 
According to Article 6 of WHO FCTC to which India is a party, the prices of tobacco products must be increased periodically to make them inflation-adjusted and there should be a uniform increase in tax rates across products.
 
"Tobacco taxation policy is the most cost effective strategy for tobacco control and has the ability to affect consumption, prevalence and affordability. Higher prices of tobacco products can promote cessation and prevent initiation among young people," said PHFI president K. Srinath Reddy. 
 
The study recommended that tax on all types of tobacco products should be increased substantially and further the tobacco tax regime should be broadened to include the unorganised manufacturing sector under the tax net. 
 
It also recommended that the tax exemptions on production of less than two million bidis should be eliminated and tax slabs on cigarettes based on length should be eliminated in a phased manner.
 
These findings come on the heels of another health ministry report, which estimated that the total economic cost attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in 2011 amounted to a staggering Rs.1,04,500 crore ($22.4 billion) in India, equivalent to 1.04 percent of India's GDP.
 
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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Need to phase out tax exemptions for level playing field: Official
New Delhi : Tax exemptions are costing India's exchequer about Rs.200,000 crore annually and it is necessary to phase them out to provide a level playing field for domestic companies to make for a successful Make in India campaign, a finance ministry official said on Wednesday.
 
"In direct tax, we are losing about Rs.1 lakh crore in these exemptions. The cause may be noble, but it distorts the taxation system. In case of indirect tax also, we are almost losing Rs.1 lakh crore because of various exemptions given for SEZs, EOUs," Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said in an interview on the finance ministry's YouTube channel.
 
"The focus of the budget should be on tax rationalisation and simplification. The focus should be on promoting growth, employment and in terms of giving some sort of level playing field to domestic manufacturers so that 'Make In India' can happen.
 
"Had we not given all these exemptions, we would have been able to probably reduce the income tax rate and we would have been given a more fair deal to people in paying the same thing," Adhia added.
 
Describing exemptions as creating inequity, he said removing exemptions would also help in improving the tax to GDP ratio that is currently around 10 percent.
 
"Exemptions create inequity... between the existing unit and the new unit which is availing the exemption and it also creates inequity in terms of smaller companies and bigger companies," he said.
 
"There is a need to increase the tax to GDP ratio, but you also have to see the capacity of people to bear that kind of taxation burden. If we simply rationalise the taxation system and remove the exemptions, I am sure the tax to GDP ratio can be enhanced substantially," he added.
 
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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Multiple options for subscribing to pension scheme
New Delhi : Citizens can use their bank account or eAadhaar and permanent account number (PAN) as know your customer (KYC) document to register online for the national pension scheme (NPS).
 
In a notification on Wednesday, the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority said eAadhaar in addition to bank account and PAN would reduce cost and operational time and ensure more subscribers to the old age income scheme.
 
Citizens can open an NPS account online through any of the points-of-presence-service provider, using PAN and net banking, with KYC verification by the bank. Possibility of opening duplicate retirement (PRAN) accounts is ruled out online.
 
Subscribers can also get their PRAN generated by opening their account using Aadhaar number and one-time password from the Unique Identification Development Authority of India (UIDAI).
 
The subscriber can go to eNPS platform of NPS Trust website (npstrust.org.in) and enter Aadhaar to validate it using OTP (one-time password) sent to mobile.
 
The subscriber has also to pay online a minimum of Rs.500 for the service as advance and transaction cost.
 
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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