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Oil and gas industry seeks infra status, lower taxes in budget

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New Delhi: The oil and gas industry has sought infrastructure status for the exploration and production sector as also lowering of taxes on locally produced oil to boost domestic output and cut import dependence.
It also wants inclusion of natural gas in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime at the earliest to boost the use of environment friendly fuel and help transition to a gas-based economy.
Vedanta Cairn Oil and Gas CEO Sudhir Mathur said that with the international oil prices breaching the USD 70 barrier, and India importing 80 per cent of its oil, the big challenge for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while presenting the Union Budget 2018-19 will be to keep the fiscal deficit under control.
“The import bill for 2018 is estimated at Rs 5 lakh crore and any further rise in crude prices would necessitate tough fiscal measures,” he said in his budget wish-list.
The need of the hour, he said, is to give a boost to domestic oil and gas production, pushing the agenda to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of reducing dependency on imports by 10 per cent by 2022.
“The Budget is an opportunity for the government to introduce much-needed reforms that will encourage existing players to invest more, and attract new foreign investments to effectively tap the country’s energy potential,” he said.
Jaitley should cut the cess on domestic production from 20 per cent of the price realised to 8 per cent, he said.
Great Eastern Energy Corp Ltd (GEECL) Managing Director & CEO Prashant Modi said a long standing demand of the oil and gas industry has been the grant of infrastructure status to the E&P sector in order to boost exploration activity in the country.
This will raise domestic production of oil and gas and help bring down the import bill. Natural gas, he said, continues to stay outside the ambit of the GST, posing biggest challenge to the sector.
“Being an environmental friendly fuel and currently being taxed reasonably by various states, it should be brought under the GST regime at the earliest,” he said.
GST, which subsumed more than a dozen central and state levies like excise duty, service tax and VAT into one tax, was rolled out from July 1 last year. But crude oil, natural gas, petrol, diesel and jet fuel (ATF) had been kept out of its purview for now.
Mathur said the government has to clarify non- applicability of GST on royalty paid on crude oil and natural gas produced locally as also on cash calls made for an exploration and production (E&P) project.
“The rollout of GST, and the exclusion of petroleum sector from its purview, has translated into much higher costs for the sector, defeating the objective of cost neutrality,” he said.
Also, there is a need to bring price parity between domestic crude and imports by cutting the 2 per cent central sales tax on local production, to further enhance the country’s energy security, he said.


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Income Tax return processing time to reduce from 63 days to just 1 day

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Mumbai:The Union Cabinet approved an integrated income-tax e-filing and centralised processing centre (CPC) portal, which will reduce the return processing time from 63 days to just one day. The new portal is also expected to process the refunds within one day of filing of tax returns, in huge relief for taxpayers. However, one will have to wait for 18 months to see its launch.

“Earlier, taxpayers would face troubles because of delay in refund processing and the CBDT used to spend a lot of money every year as interest on pending refunds, which will be history now,” Union minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here.

Last month, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra had said a simplified return form and process would be put in place soon in which the department would process the self-declaration made by the taxpayer. The new Rs 4,241-crore project will incorporate these changes.

 

“This is a laudable initiative and will go a long way to ease tax compliance, and enhanced experience for taxpayers. However, the real success of this will be measured when it brings ease to a common man and is accompanied by changes in the culture of the tax authorities at the operational level,” said Neeru Ahuja, partner, Deloitte India.

Currently, the e-filing portal and the CPC work separately. While e-filing is being managed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the CPC is run by Infosys.

In the bids invited by the government, Infosys emerged as the lowest bidder and it would develop the ITR-CPC 2.0 project in 18 months from now, Goyal said.

Under the new system, Infosys will handle end-to-end solution — from e-filing to return assessment to refund processing. The CBDT and Infosys would work in a revenue-sharing model, sources in the know said.

Goyal said ramping up scrutiny was not the mandate of the new portal. Currently, about 0.3 per cent of the I-T returns are scrutinised, he said. The system intends to resolve taxpayer grievances as well as tax demands from the CBDT faster and equitably, he said.

“The decision will ensure horizontal equity by processing returns filed by all categories of taxpayers across the country in a consistent, uniform, rule driven, identity blind manner. This will assure fairness in tax treatment to every taxpayer irrespective of their status,” a government release said.

But even under the new ecosystem, only those applications which are clean would have the chance of getting processed in a day, sources said.

About 23 crore I-T returns have been processed, along with Rs 2.62 trillion worth of refunds, till September 2018 cumulatively. Of this, refunds worth Rs 1.83 trillion have been processed in 2018-19, said Goyal.

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Lenders considering resolution plan for Jet Airways: SBI

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Mumbai: State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday said lenders are considering a resolution plan for Jet Airways to ensure long-term viability of the debt-laden company.

The SBI statement comes a day after the crisis-hit airline said discussions were “progressing well” with stakeholders on a comprehensive resolution plan that also contemplates equity infusion and consequent changes in its board of directors.

There are rising concerns over financial health of Jet Airways, whose shares have also taken a beating at stock exchanges.

 

“We would like to state that lenders are considering a restructuring plan under the RBI framework for resolution of stressed assets that would ensure a long-term viability of the company,” SBI said in a statement.

It said the restructuring plan for the cash-strapped airline would need approval from boards of lenders.

“Any such plan would be subject to approval of boards of the lenders and subject to adherence and clearance, if required, from the RBI and/or Sebi (takeover code, ICDR regulations.) and Ministry of Civil Aviation and in compliance with all regulatory prescriptions,” the statement said.

Shares of the airline are trading 4.24 per cent lower at Rs 259.50 apiece on BSE.

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NGT slams Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore as per its 2018 order

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New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) slammed German auto major Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore in accordance with its November 16, 2018 order and directed it to submit the amount within 24 hours.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel took strong exception to the non-compliance of its order by the automobile giant and asked it to give an undertaking that it will submit the amount by 5 PM Friday.

“Why have you not complied with our order when there is no stay. We will not give you any further time,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said while asking Volkswagen to submit an affidavit of compliance after deposit.

 

The tribunal deferred the matter for hearing after it was informed that the Supreme Court is also seized of the issue.

On November 16 last year, the tribunal had said that the use of ”cheat device” by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India leads to inference of environmental damage and had asked the German auto major to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

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