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The government does not want a duplication of effort as biometric details will be captured by the Unique Identity Authority of India
The Income-Tax department’s proposal to issue biometric PAN cards has been put on hold so as to avoid duplication with the UID numbers to be issued by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI).
The biometric Permanent Account Number (PAN) card was proposed by then finance minister P Chidambaram in 2006 to counter the problem of duplicate PAN cards which were uncovered during I-T searches and raids by police and other enforcement agencies.
The proposed biometric PAN cards would have carried the income-tax payer’s fingerprints (two from each hand) and the face.
Such a card, it was hoped, would be difficult to duplicate or manipulate.
But after the UIDAI was set up last year, the Authority decided to create a database of similar biometric information for all residents of the country.
To avoid duplication of effort, a senior finance ministry official said, “The biometric PAN card project of the department has been kept in abeyance till the UID is rolled out. In the meantime, the suspension will allow the I-T department to understand and analyse whether after a biometric UID, a PAN with similar features would be necessary or not.”
The UID number, expected to roll out by the middle of next year, will capture the fingerprints of all ten fingers, the face and iris of an individual.
The UID Authority is preparing to roll out biometric numbers and hence it would not be appropriate for the I-T department to run a similar project in parallel, the official said.
The entire effort to have biometric PAN cards was to avoid duplication and stop fraudulent practices by tax-evaders and anti-nationals. The UID would achieve the same purpose, the official added.
Once the UID numbers start rolling out, a decision would be taken on whether the database could help the I-T department in stopping the misuse of PAN cards or whether the biometric PAN cards would be necessary, the official added.
The I-T department, in a number of cases, has uncovered several individuals possessing multiple PAN cards or forging the details.
While PAN is a 10-digit alphanumeric number allotted by the I-T department to taxpayers, biometrics is a biological method to identify physical features of an individual.
The new set of instructions from the bank authorities will lead to a big improvement in the way SBI handles its customers
State Bank of India's (SBI) chairman OP Bhatt is seeking fast and prompt action—at least a reply—to email complaints filed by the Bank’s customers. According to an email reply (copied to Moneylife), a deputy general manager (DGM) of SBI has said: “Please note that our Chairman desires that all the email complaints, forwarded from the Corporate Centre have to be replied to the Department within 48 hrs.”
In the past, when Moneylife has forwarded complaints to the SBI chairman's office, we were pleased to receive an immediate reply from the chairman's secretariat to the effect that the complaint would be looked into.
However, there has been complete silence thereafter. These complaints simply went into limbo and nothing was heard from SBI again. Hopefully, these new set of instructions from the top will lead to a big improvement in the way the bank treats its customers.
The DGM was replying to a complaint filed by Moneylife's Veeresh Malik regarding the garbage created by SBI's Defence Colony branch in New Delhi. Earlier, the branch manager told Mr Malik that the Bank only maintains the area in front of the branch and had given a contract to collect the waste from the bank on a daily basis.
Mr Malik replied saying that there is no difference between the front and side of the branch since customers have to walk through the side area to reach the front area. Also, the main signage for the bank branch overlooks the evolved garbage dump, he added.
The branch manager had also said, “We have requested the RWA, Defence Colony to make necessary arrangements so that this area will be well maintained and clean."
Mr Malik again wrote to the Bank authorities. He said, "SBI Defence Colony Branch is located within the DDA Moolchand Shopping Complex. To write to the Defence Colony RWA is like asking the neighbours to clean (up the mess due to) the result of your lack of attention to hygiene. The generator is on public land, with the exhaust pointing straight towards our home. Handing over garbage collection to a sub-contractor does not eliminate the responsibility of the SBI Defence Colony Branch. These issues are not addressed. Instead, an attempt to pass the buck seems to have been made, by stating that 'a letter has been written to the RWA'."
To this, a reply came from the DGM asking the SBI officials to reply in detail and instruct the branch manager to initiate immediate measures to rectify the position.
The government will formulate rules that will encourage research and development of electric vehicles in India
The government is contemplating a policy to promote electric vehicles in the country, for which an inter-ministerial group is currently conducting a feasibility study.
The policy, which is aimed at providing guidelines on how to promote electric and alternate fuel vehicles in the country, is likely to be finalised by this fiscal.
According to sources close to the development, a core group has been formed with representatives from different ministries, including road transport, petroleum, heavy industries and environment, and the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC).
While the feasibility study has been going on under the NMCC, the final draft as well as implementation of the policy will be carried out by the heavy industries ministry, sources added, reports PTI.
“The main task before the group is to find ways how to encourage research and development of such vehicles in the country. It is studying possible options to incentivise the electric vehicle industry,” a source said.
Promoting formation of joint ventures, especially in the electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing, making it easier for technology transfers are also some of the areas that the policy would emphasise, sources added.
The feasibility study is also looking into the infrastructural aspect to support such modes of transportation. It will evaluate how more charging points can be set up across the country.
The core group is also holding discussions with all the States for promoting alternate fuel technologies.
Currently, 4% excise duty is levied on production of EVs, while the components for EVs come under the 10% excise duty net, which the manufacturers are urging the government to waive.
The import of EVs attracts 14% duty and there is a 4% duty for import of parts.
On the sales front, while Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Lakshadweep do not levy any sales tax, other states charge 4%-15% sales tax or value-added tax (VAT).
"The state of affairs in the EV industry is very poor. The industry will not survive very long, unless there is government intervention. We need government support," said Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV) president Naveen Munjal.
The industry can create a niche for itself in three-five years, but with government help it can be done much faster, he added.
The size of the EV industry is pegged at about 85,000 units annually.