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Union Fin Min presents BUDGET 2019-20: Tax on super rich; fuel to be costlier

Press Trust of India

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Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman along with MoS Anurag Thakur, entering Parliament House to present the General Budget-2019-20 before the Parliament, in New Delhi on Friday Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

New Delhi, Jul 5: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday hiked tax on petrol and diesel, raised import duty on gold, levied additional surcharge on super rich and brought a tax on high value cash withdrawals as she sought to spur growth with reduction in corporate tax and sops to housing sector, startups and electric vehicles.
Presenting the maiden budget of Modi 2.0 government in Lok Sabha, Sitharaman, the first full-time woman Finance Minister, proposed measures to ease liquidity crisis facing shadow banking sector (NBFCs) and providing Rs 70,000 crore capital to public sector banks while seeking to raise additional resources through privatisation of some PSUs.
In relief to tax payers, she provided for an additional deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on interest paid on loans borrowed up to March 31, 2020 on purchase of a house up to Rs 45 lakh.
Corporate tax on companies with turnover of up to Rs 400 crore has been slashed to 25 per cent from current 30 per cent. Presently, the lower tax rate is applicable on companies having a turnover of up to Rs 250 crore.
Sitharaman said the reduced tax rate would cover 99.3 per cent of corporates in the country.
To boost use of electric vehicles, an additional income tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on interest paid on loans taken to purchase EVs has been proposed.
Also the government has asked the GST Council to reduce tax rate on EVs from 12 per cent to 5 per cent. Customs duty on certain parts of EVs has been reduced.
Addressing the angel tax issue faced by startups, she said startups and investors who file requisite declarations will not be subjected to any kind of scrutiny in respect of valuation of share premium.
A mechanism of e-verification will be put in place and with this, the funds raised by startups will not require any tax scrutiny.
She raised special additional excise duty and road cess on petrol and diesel by Re 1 per litre each, saying lower crude oil prices provide her with an opportunity to review taxes on the sector.
Also, customs duty on gold and precious metals was raised from 10 per cent to 12.5 per cent to mobilise resources.
Basic customs duty was raised on an array of products including tiles, cashew kernels, vinyl flooring, auto parts, some synthetic rubber, digital and video recorder and CCTV camera.
Excise duty of Rs 5 per 1000 has been imposed on cigarettes of length exceeding 65 mm, while 0.5 per cent duty has been levied on chewing tobacco, zarda and tobacco extracts and essence.
“I propose to levy TDS of 2 per cent on cash withdrawal exceeding Rs 1 crore in a year from a bank account,” she said.
She also announced a surcharge on individuals having taxable income of Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore and for those above Rs 5 crore which will hike their effective tax rate by 3 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.
Sitharaman also proposed to made Aadhaar and PAN interchangeable for the purpose of filing Income Tax returns.
To boost FDI inflow into the country, the government will examine further liberalisation of sectoral investment caps in aviation, media, animation and insurance.
The Budget also proposed 100 per cent FDI in insurance intermediaries and easing of local sourcing norms for single brand retail.
She said measures are being worked out to ease filing returns and tax compliance. Taxpayers with an annual turnover of less than Rs 5 crore will have to file only quarterly returns, she said
To boost cash-less economy, she said business establishments with annual turnover of Rs 50 crore will have to use BHIM, UPI, Aadhaar Pay, NEFT, RTGS modes of payments with no charges or merchant discount rates will be imposed on customers or merchants.
RBI and banks will absorb these costs, she said.
The Securities Transaction Tax or STT is proposed to be restricted to the difference between settlement and strike price of options, she said.
She proposed an additional income tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on interest paid on loans taken to buy electric vehicles.
This will lead to a benefit of Rs 2.5 lakh crore over the tax period of the loan for the payer.
She said the government will spend Rs 100 lakh crores for infrastructure in next five years.
The disinvestment target for FY20 was raised to Rs 1.05 lakh crore from Rs 90,000 crore set in the interim budget and government will continue with disinvestment of PSUs in the non-financial space as well.
Regulation of housing finance companies has been moved to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) from the NHB.
The government proposed to allocate Rs 70,000 crore for PSU Bank recapitalisation.

HIGHLIGHTS
• Rs 2 duty and cess on petrol and diesel per litre.
• PAN, Aadhaar interchangeable for filing I-T returns.
• Aadhaar for NRIs with Indian passports after arrival without mandatory waiting period.
• Power, clean cooking facilities for all families by 2022, water for all rural homes by 2024.
• Surcharge enhanced on individuals with Rs 2-5 cr income by 3%, Rs 5 cr and above by 7%.
• 25% tax for all companies with annual turnover of Rs 400 crore
• 2% TDS on cash withdrawal exceeding 1 crore a year.
• Govt mulling increase in FDI in aviation, media.

COSTLIER
• Petrol and diesel
• Tobacco
• Gold and silver
• Fully-imported cars
• Split air-conditioners
• Loudspeakers
• Digital video recorders
• Imported books
• CCTV cameras
• Cashew Kernels
• Imported plastics
• Raw materials for manufacture of soap
• Vinyl flooring, tiles
• Optical fibre
• Ceramic tiles and wall tiles
• Imported stainless steel products
• Imported auto parts
• Mountings for furniture

 

CHEAPER
• Electric vehicle components
• Camera module, charger of mobile phones
• Set top box
• Import of defence equipment, not manufactured in India.

India to become $3 trillion economy in FY20: Nirmala
New Delhi, Jun 5: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the average amount spent on food security per year nearly doubled during 2014-19 compared with preceding five years.
It is well within our capacity to reach $5 trillion economy in a few years, she added.
“From $1.85 trillion in 2014, the economy has reached $2.7 trillion mark. We can very well reach $5 trillion dollars in the next few years,” Sitharaman said.
In her Budget speech, the finance minister said she has requested the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to raise minimum public shareholding in companies to 35 per cent from 25 per cent.
Presenting the full Union Budget for 2019-20, she said her government rejuvenated centre-state dynamic, cooperative federalism, GST Council and a strident commitment to fiscal discipline. They also set the ball rolling for NewIndia between 2014 and 2019.

Fiscal deficit target revised to 3.3%
New Delhi, Jul 5: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman reduced the fiscal deficit target to 3.3 per cent from an earlier 3.4 per cent for 2019-20 in a move that signals government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation.
Fiscal deficit touched 52 per cent of the budget estimate for the full year in the first two months of 2019-20. According to data from the Controller General of Accounts, the gap between expenditure and revenue in absolute terms was Rs 3,66,157 crore.
In the year-ago period, the deficit was 55.3 per cent of 2018-19 budget estimate. February’s interim Budget had estimated the deficit at Rs 7.03 lakh crore for 2019-20.
Numbers showed that the government’s revenue receipts during April-May 2019-20 was 7.3 per cent of Budget estimates. It was at similar levels during the year-ago period too. Capital expenditure, however, was only 14.2 per cent of budget estimates compared to 21.3 per cent in the comparable period a year ago.
During April-May, total expenditure was at Rs 5.12 lakh crore (18.4 per cent of budget estimate). It was 19.4 per cent of BE in the corresponding period of the last fiscal.
The government said it had to cut public spending sharply towards the end of the FY in order that the deficit target could be met. Some of the government’s schemes may not have gotten their full allocation due to curtailed spending. This spending cut was a major factor behind contraction in GDP growth in the fourth quarter to 5.8 per cent.
Figures show Modi government in its first term brought down the deficit and largely avoided any big slippage. It, however, could not strictly adhere to the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act glide path due to structural disruptions such as GST.
On another note, The Bimal Jalan committee report — which has been delayed — will likely recommend a transfer of about Rs 3 lakh crore of excess capital from RBI to the government, Nomura has said, adding that this corpus could be used to meet regular government expenses.
According to some reports though, the government may not get this windfall as the Jalan panel is reportedly looking to tie any such distribution to meaningful utilisation — such as retiring government debt or bank recap.

Govt to push ‘one nation one card’
New Delhi, Jul 5: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech on July 05 extolled the benefits provided by the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), launched in March this year.
Dubbed as ‘One Nation-One Card’, Sitharaman said: “The NCMC standard developed is an inter-operable transport card allows holders to pay for their bus travel, toll taxes, parking charges, retail shopping and withdraw cash.”
The indigenously-developed card runs on Rupay. It is issued by banks on debit/credit/pre-paid card basis.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said during the launch, the country is “no longer required to be dependent on foreign technology”.
Here are the key points one needs to know about the ‘One Nation One Card’:
The mobility card can be issued in the form of debit, credit or prepaid card of a partner bank.
The card is similar to any RuPay debit/credit card, which will be available with more than 25 banks, including the State Bank of India (SBI).
The card can be used for making payments across all segments including metro, bus, suburban railways, smart city and retail shopping.
The card can also be used for paying at toll plazas and for parking.
The card offers cashback on bill payments and more than thousand other offers.
A cardholder can also avail 5 percent cash back at ATMs and 10 percent cash back at merchant outlets while travelling abroad.
It is supported by indigenously developed Automatic Fare Collection Gate ‘Swagat’ and an Open Loop Automatic Fare Collection System ‘Sweekar’. Both ‘Swagat’ and ‘Sweekar’ were launched by PM Modi on March 4.


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Trump offers to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir issue

Press Trust of India

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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday offered to be the “mediator” between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as he met Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House where the two leaders discussed a host of issues.

India maintains that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral one and no third party has any role in it.

“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator. If I can do anything to help, let me know,” Trump said in response to a question during his meeting with Prime Minister Khan in the Oval Office.

 

Trump said that he is ready to help, if the two countries ask for it.

“I think they (Indians) would like to see it resolved. I think you (Khan) would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be a mediator. It should be….we have two incredible countries that are very, very smart with very smart leadership, (and they) can’t solve a problem like that. But if you would want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that,” Trump said.

“We have a very good relationship with India. I know that your relationship (with India) is strained a little bit, maybe a lot. But we will be talking about India… (it’s) a big part of our conversation today and I think maybe we can help intercede and do whatever we have to do. It’s something that can be brought back together. We will be talking about India and Afghanistan both,” Trump told Khan.

Khan, who was sitting by Trump’s side in the Oval Office of the White House, said that he is ready and welcomed such a move by the US.

“Right now, you would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate (on Kashmir),” Khan told Trump.

Khan was accompanied by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi among others.

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Corrupt praying elections to escape ACB: Guv Malik

Says militant remark ‘made in frustration’; calls Omar ‘political juvenile’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jul 22: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik Monday said that the political parties in Kashmir want immediate elections to “save” themselves from the ongoing action against corruption.

“Political parties and their leaders want immediate assembly polls to escape from investigations. The ACB is close on their heels. These politicians are involved in misappropriation of funds in various schemes. There will be zero tolerance against corruption,” the Governor said while speaking to media on Monday.

He expressed regret over his remark that militants should stop killing innocent people and target the corrupt, saying it was made in a “fit of anger and frustration”.

 

On Sunday, Malik stoked controversy during his address at a function in Kargil.

“These boys who have picked up guns are killing their own people, they are killing PSOs (personal security officer) and SPOs (special police officers). Why are you killing them? Kill those who have looted the wealth of Kashmir. Have you killed any of them?” Malik had asked.

Day later, the Governor, however, said that he should not have made the comment as constitutional head of the state, but it did reflect his feelings and he will say the same thing when he is not governor.

“As Governor, I should not have made such a statement but my personal feeling is same what I said. Had I not been Governor, I would have no regret for giving such statement,” Malik told the media.

“What I said was my frustration and anger as I have seen huge corruption in Kashmir for the last one year. Otherwise, I know militants will be ultimately defeated,” the Governor added.

Reacting strongly to the Governor’s comments in Kargil, former chief minister, Omar Abdullah had tweeted: “Save this tweet – after today any mainstream politician or serving/retired bureaucrat killed in J&K has been murdered on the express orders of the Governor of J&K Satya Pal Malik.”

Omar said the governor should check out his own reputation in Delhi before sanctioning unlawful killings.

“This man, ostensibly a responsible man occupying a constitutional position, tells militants to kill politicians perceived to be corrupt. Perhaps the man should find out about his own reputation in Delhi these days before sanctioning unlawful killings & kangaroo courts,” he said.

Reacting to Omar’s criticism, the Governor called him a “political juvenile”.

“He is tweeting on every issue and media carry them. But media does not carry the comments on his statement. 90 percent people abuse him for his statements,” the Governor said.

Malik said he was appointed Governor because of his reputation.

“I did nothing wrong in my 50 year career. People know whether I did anything wrong. Wherever Omar Abdullah is at present is because of his reputation. He is speaking on every issue in a childish way. I had regards for Omar,” he said.

The Governor said families that have ruled Kashmir have accumulated huge wealth.

“Their grandparents were teachers but they have properties across the world.  Their three generations have accumulated huge wealth. They have one house in Srinagar, one in Delhi, Dubai, one in London and elsewhere. They are shareholders in big hotels.”

Asked whether two prominent political families, Abdullahs and Muftis were also involved in corruption, he replied: “The Anti-Corruption Bureau is investigating and whosoever is involved in corruption has to face the punishment. One of the former ministers has been grilled. Few more former ministers will also be investigated. We won’t spare anyone irrespective of how powerful they are.”

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Power theft costs JK 4000 cr a year

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Jul 21: Jammu and Kashmir suffers a huge loss of around 4,000 crore every year due to power theft.

The department is unable to overcome the huge losses despite the fact that they have installed power meters to tackle pilferage.

An official in the Power Development Department (PDD) said that the deficit of Rs 275 crore in 2002-03 grew to Rs 2,976 crore during 2014-15 and to 4,000 crores in 2018.

 

The economic survey of 2017 blamed the revenue deficit on “high power thefts, illegal uses, unregistered consumers, uncontrolled and unaccounted consumption of power, lesser load agreements, low tariff rates, and poor collection efficiency.”

“We are losing Rs 4000 crore every year on power purchase bill. Last year we purchased power for 6200 crores and we collected only 2200 crores so the total lose we suffered is 4000 crore,” Hashmat Qazi, Chief Engineer PDD told The Kashmir Monitor.

The major reason for losses, he said, is the power theft.

“We lose maximum power due to the illegal usage by the people here. Despite installing meters, people find ways to breach them and use as much electricity as they can,” Qazi noted.

Qazi informed that to overcome the losses, there are many Government of India schemes including ‘Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform program’ (R-APDRP) which will upgrade the infrastructure including installation of Aerial Bunched Cable (ABC) which will restrict power theft by hooking.

“This is Rs 1660 crore plan which is being funded by the Government of India and comprises of 30 towns that have more than ten thousand population,” said Qazi.

“Another scheme is Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) which comprises of 81 small towns, having a population more than four thousand. Apart from these two schemes, there is another scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) for distribution of electricity in rural areas,” he added.

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