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No beating about the bush.
Moneylife Foundation held a second special financial literacy workshop for women. Speaking on the occasion was Ms Ketaki Jayakar, a well-known senior advocate who specialises in marital law
Mumbai, 26th March, 2010: Moneylife Foundation today held a second special financial literacy workshop for women. Speaking on the occasion was Ms Ketaki Jayakar, a well-known senior advocate who specialises in marital law.
Ms Jayakar structured her talk in the form of a number of real-life stories on the diverse travails faced by women and families, which inevitably boiled down to a failure of these individuals to ensure their financial independence with proper legal documentation.
For instance, there was a nurse, Sheela, who earned part of her income in cash, which she handed over to her husband, who in turn deposited it in his bank account. He was a part-time singer, who was often out of work. When they bought a house, it was in the husband's name and the repayment was through the same bank account. When the husband deserted her, Sheela discovered that she had no documentation to prove her right to the marital home.
While Sheela did manage to get some redress through the family court with Ms Jayakar's help, other stories did not necessarily end happily. For example, one story that led to a lot of discussion was that of the parents, who sold their house and pooled their retirement money with their son to buy a bigger house in his name. Soon after his marriage, the son absconded, and his wife left the home. He has since accused his parents of ill-treating his wife and stopped making his monthly loan repayments for the home, leaving his parents high and dry. The discussion led to the conclusion that the son could be declared a defaulter, which would force him to take responsibility, since the implications of a negative credit rating would be disastrous for him.
There was yet another instance of two elderly and infirm women, who were all alone and were systematically looted by their chartered accountant and a distant relative. Each of these tales held a lesson for better financial prudence, while some, like that of the older women, highlighted the lack of protection and infrastructure for senior citizens in India.
Ms Jayakar, who has always been associated with different social causes, was very keen that these stories should motivate women to take charge of their finances. With this objective, she has published the cases that especially moved her in a book titled “A Bunch of Flowers”. She said, “All of us as children have enjoyed stories and I will use that as a tool to impart wisdom. I meet several women who are in distress. Over the years, I realised that writing about their issues is the best tool to convey my message.” Ms Jayakar is a member of MAVA (Men Against Violence & Abuse), an NGO. She has also written the script for a television serial called ‘Adhikar’, which was the first serial on legal issues in India and won two RAPA awards in 1994.
Ms Jayakar's talk was followed by an interactive working session on finance, specifically designed for women, by Mr Debashis Basu, Editor of Moneylife and Ms Sucheta Dalal, consulting editor of Moneylife. Ms Dalal spoke on how to avoid losses by staying away from certain kinds of investments like chain marketing and pyramid schemes. She also spoke about the implications of credit card transactions and gave the audience some tips on choosing banking and insurance services sensibly.
Mr Basu told people that investment does not have to be difficult and complicated if one was clear about the basic objectives, avoided obvious potholes and followed a sensible and consistent investment policy. He explained at length the enormous power of compounding one's income, and quoted Albert Einstein, who had said, "Compounding is the most powerful force in the universe.”
A surprise visitor to the Moneylife Foundation office on this day was Mr K P Krishnan, Joint Secretary (Capital Markets), Ministry of Finance. He spoke at length about investor protection, financial literacy and awareness.
Although the event was primarily aimed at women, it saw the participation of several men as well. Moneylife will be holding a series of such workshops for all categories of investors. To be informed about these, please take advantage of the free membership and registration facility offered at www.moneylife.in.
Pictures of the event
Markets are approaching their highest level in two years
The market ended on a firm note today. The BSE Sensex closed at 17,644, up 86 points and the Nifty closed at 5,282, up 22 points. It is now once again reaching the highest level in two years, a level it had hit in January. The market has been up for seven weeks in a row and the chances of a correction next week are high. We expect a reaction by the middle of next week.
Asian stock markets were also higher today, despite a subdued overnight market in the US. Japanese exports were looking up due to the weak yen. The key benchmark indices in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan rose by 0.41%-1.55%. The Dow Jones rose 5.06 points (up 0.05%) to 10,841.21. The Nasdaq declined 1.35 points to 2,397.41 and the S&P 500 fell 1.99 points to 1,165.73.
Tata Motors (up 3.3%) is reportedly selling about 20% stake in its equipment and service unit Tata Construction Equipment Company (Telcon) to Japan’s Hitachi Construction Machinery Company for about $220 million. Bharti Airtel (down 1.1%) has set up two special purpose vehicles in the Netherlands and Singapore to facilitate the $9-billion Zain deal. ONGC (up 1.8%) is considering buying an asset in Canada that can produce around 10,000 barrels a day of heavy oil, worth at least $1 billion.
Patel Industries has received a $1-billion contract to develop a waterfront integrated township project in Mauritius. GMR Energy, a subsidiary of GMR Infrastructure (up 1.1%) plans to raise over Rs16,000 crore from a group of private equity players led by Singapore-based Temasek Holdings and banks to fund its expansion. Gitanjali Gems (ended flat) plans to divest 25% of its holding in each of its brands from September 2010. Videocon Industries (up 3.7%) launched its GSM mobile service. The company plans to invest Rs14,000 crore over the next three years to build up the wireless network and will cover 100 towns in the next 100 days.
Institutional investors are on a buying spree. Foreign and domestic institutional investors purchased Rs653 crore and Rs156 crore yesterday, respectively.
Initial jobless claims in the US for the week ended 20th March were 4,42,000 which was a bit less than the expected total of 4,50,000 and down 14,000 from the prior week. The US Federal Reserve said on Thursday that it would remove the economic stimulus once the economic recovery looks strong. It also hinted that asset sales would be the biggest part in the exit strategy. European leaders decided on Thursday to create a joint financial safety net with the IMF to help Greece. As per the agreement, eurozone nations and the IMF will give a loan to Greece to help it tide over its debt crisis.
Maharashtra is trying to push value-added tax on homebuyers by passing it under a ‘composition’ scheme
The Maharashtra State Budget 2010 has proposed to introduce a ‘composition’ scheme for builders and developers, where 1% value-added tax (VAT) will be levied on homebuyers. This tax appears to be an insignificant amount. But if it is levied, the proposed tax will come with riders—buyers won’t be able to contest the legislation, and they will not be eligible for any refund once they pay this tax.
“The low rate of 1% is a sweetener for builders and developers. One of the reasons for introducing (the) composition scheme is to reduce legal resistance on the subject. Once this scheme is accepted, it cannot be fought in a court of law, since it signifies voluntary acceptance, notwithstanding whether the levy is legally tenable or not,” said Prem Chhatpar, a charted accountant.
Moneylife had reported yesterday (see here) on how builders and developers were forcing homebuyers to cough up VAT of 4.5% on their booked properties.
A few industry experts were aware that VAT was being pushed through the State Budget.
“Unless and until the Supreme Court gives a final judgement (on applicability of VAT on under-construction properties) within the intervening period, collection of this tax won’t be legal.
“It is unconstitutional for the State government to introduce VAT on sale of immovable property, because it does not fall under their jurisdiction. The State has the power to levy tax on sale of goods or deemed sale of goods,” said Mr Chhatpar.
It is still not clear if the State government has scrapped the 5% VAT completely as there is no mention of the same anywhere in the Budget. It has introduced a fresh VAT of 1%. But the question of whether consumers who had earlier paid 5% VAT will get a refund still remains unanswered.
“The government did not say that it is bringing down VAT from 5% to 1% to help the real-estate industry. They said that they want to impose 1% (VAT) from 1st April,” said Pranay Vakil, chairman, Knight Frank (India) Pvt Ltd, a real-estate consultancy.