|NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 2018
As global oil prices continue to surge, the government’s key policy advisor is of the view that states have to take the lead in cutting duties while the Centre needs to first find the fiscal space before it can slash taxes on fuels.
Rajiv Kumar, vice chairman, NITI Aayog, said: “The states must cut their taxes because they have got ad valorem (percentage-based) taxes. As the prices have gone up, they have been getting a windfall gain, which can hardly be continued. So they must reduce it below 27 per cent… a 3-4 percentage point cut is doable. The central government must find the fiscal space and then cut the excise duties.”
The Union government, Kumar said, has to ensure that it doesn’t do anything to weaken the nascent uptick in the economy, and simultaneously find enough fiscal space to absorb the higher oil price by attempting things not done in the past. These steps include “smarter disinvestment”, including the sale of the government’s stake in Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India (SUUTI), which could result in inflows of Rs 50,000 crore, he said.
“On the one hand, we don’t want higher oil prices to result in entrenched higher inflationary expectations and, on the other, it is also undesirable to let your fiscal balance deteriorate. And this is what I meant by smart macroeconomic management. A one-rupee cut in excise duty on oil prices results in a central government revenue loss of Rs 13,000 crore a year. It’s a daunting number but at the same time we have to explore if there is sufficient revenue buoyancy and possibility of higher non-tax revenues,” Kumar said.
On Wednesday, the Kerala government announced plans to cut the levies on fuel by Re 1 effective from June 1, marking the first instance of a cut in taxes on fuel.
CONGRESS RAISES CITIZEN SNOOP ALARM
The Congress on Friday indicated willingness to fight another legal battle against the Narendra Modi government, alleging its plan for “social media communication hubs” was a plot to snoop on citizens despite the Supreme Court upholding the right to privacy.
Under a government plan, each district will have such a hub to keep a tab on what is trending on social media there, assess local sentiments, and gather feedback on the government’s flagship programmes. “This reminds us of George Orwell’s 1984 – the Big Brother is planning to watch Indians, monitor what they say on social media,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.
The I&B ministry’s 65-page tender notice suggests the Centre wants a company to provide analytical software and a team of at least 20 professionals to man each hub.
According to the tender, the tool should be able to monitor a range of digital platforms – from Twitter and Facebook to Instagram, Google Playstore and YouTube – as well as Internet news and blogs. It should be able to “listen to” email, the document says, though it’s not clear how this can be done without violating laws.
The Congress sniffs in this a government plan to set up a gigantic surveillance mechanism to gather data for political profiling, targeted electioneering and indoctrination and even for curbing criticism. It feels that such a move would be grossly illegal in the light of the Supreme Court’s privacy judgment, and is shocked that the government wants to monitor even emails. It expects independent organisations and civil society groups to fight this proposal.
The Narendra Modi government has stepped up its war against black money by increasing the reward for informants who provide specific and credible information against tax dodgers.
The inducement has been raised from Rs 15 lakh to as high as Rs 5 crore for disclosures that lead to the unearthing of black money and assets abroad.
Although the official circulars were issued on April 23, the reward schemes were unveiled on Friday – a day after the CBI had searched Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar, who had successfully quarantined newly elected legislators in Karnataka to stop the BJP from poaching any of them ahead of a floor test. The charge against Shivakumar is that he had laundered black money during the demonetisation exercise.
The “Benami Scheme” promises to give informants who give detailed information on illegally held property 1 per cent of the fair market value of the property as an initial reward and 5 per cent of the market value as the final reward once the property has been possessed and sold off.
After nearly a week of discussion, the Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka arrived at an agreement on portfolio allocation in a cabinet of ministers that will be sworn in on June 6. The Congress has given the JDS portfolios of finance and energy after strongly vying for them in the early stages of discussion.
The alliance partners also announced a plan to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as a Congress-JDS coalition, with decisions on seat-sharing and other issues to be taken at poll time.
The partners announced creation of a coordination and monitoring committee that will work to iron out issues between them. The committee will comprise Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Deputy CM G Parameshwara, former CM Siddaramaiah, AICC in-charge for Karnataka K C Venugopal and JDS national general secretary Danish Ali.
Announcing the plan for portfolio allocation, Venugopal admitted that there were some issues on finance as both parties were vying for this portfolio. “In the end, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi gave a direction to the Congress that this type of alliance and coalition government is the need of the hour… In the larger interest of the country, we should take some decisions. He spoke to Kumaraswamiji and the KPCC president and finally the Congress decided to give the finance portfolio to JDS,’’ he said.
US President Donald Trump on Friday confirmed that he would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a historic summit in Singapore on June 12.
Trump’s announcement came at the end of a two-hour meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol, who had travelled from New York after two days of talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Kim Yong Chol delivered a letter from the North Korean leader to Trump.
“We are meeting with the Chairman (Kim Jong-un) on June 12 (in Singapore). It is ultimately going to be a successful process,” Trump said immediately after Kim Yong Chol left the White House.
“I will travel to Singapore on June 12. Relationships are building. It will be a beginning…I never said that it will happen in one meeting. I think, we will have a very positive result in one meeting,” the president said. It was a letter presentation which ended up with a two-hour conversation, Trump said, adding that the meeting was with the second most powerful man in North Korea.
Former chief justice Nasirul Mulk on Friday took oath as Pakistan’s seventh caretaker PM until General Election on July 25 to oversee the second-ever democratic transition of power in the country ruled by the powerful army for much of its life since it gained independence 70 years ago.
President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to 67-year-old Mulk, who was unanimously nominated for the post by both the government and opposition, with former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi describing the retired judge as a someone whose appointment “no one would object to”, Dawn News reported.
The caretaker government will remain in office until a new government is elected. The caretaker administration will not make any major decisions.
The oath-taking ceremony comes hours after the third National Assembly in a row managed to complete its five-year constitutional term. However, it is only the second National Assembly under civilian rule which completed its tenure, as the one which came into existence in 2002 continued to function under the former President Pervez Musharraf. The three National Assemblies have elected seven prime ministers over the last 16 years, the report said.
The Narendra Modi government is conducting what some bureaucrats view as a “sophisticated propaganda drive” in partnership with BJP cadres to convince villagers that the Prime Minister is personally following up on seven key schemes he had launched.
Several hundred teams of two central government officials each had been tasked to tour villages across India in April-May to monitor the implementation of these seven schemes under a recently launched feedback-seeking programme called the Gram Swaraj Abhijan.
In village after village, BJP workers met these teams and “volunteered” to accompany and assist them in their task. These cadres informed the villagers during the tour that Modi had himself sent the officials from Delhi because of his “personal concern” for their welfare.
The teams have been tasked to collect feedback from the villagers on the Ujjwala Yojana, Saubhagya Yojana, Ujala Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Mission Indradhanush.
These schemes seek to provide gas connections, electricity connections, bulbs, bank accounts, life insurance plans and vaccination against childhood diseases.
At a time when the Congress is divided on former President Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to attend an RSS event at its Nagpur headquarters as chief guest, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday recalled his association with the organisation and said that the RSS is all about “self-discipline, self-respect, self-defence, self-reliance, social reform, social consciousness, social movement, selfless service — all guided by the philosophy of supremacy of the nation”.
Delivering the 8th Nanaji Memorial lecture organised by Deendayal Research Institute at Maharashtra Sadan, Naidu said, “I see no reason for anyone to have any objection to these principles, which are primarily aimed at character development based on core ancient Indian ethos and values which advocated the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, meaning the whole world is one family.”
Breaking the silence of the Odisha BJP on the state’s water war with BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Friday criticised Chief Minister Raman Singh, saying Odisha’s rights over the Mahanadi waters cannot be compromised.
“Raman Singh’s statement on Mahanadi should be condemned. Water Minister Sanjeev Baliyan has said in Parliament that Chhattisgarh has made a mistake (by constructing barrages),” Pradhan said in a statement to the press. “BJP Odisha unit is clear on this. Odisha’s interests cannot be compromised,” he said.
He was responding to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister who, earlier this week, said: “We are using the Mahanadi waters. We will use more in future.” He had also called the Odisha government’s protests over Mahanadi “an election issue” which, he said, would disappear after the polls.
Odisha is scheduled to go to assembly elections along with the Lok Sabha polls next year.
Newly elected Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has approached Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy to participate in his initiatives to solve the urban woes of Bangalore.
Taking a proactive role that many believe sets him apart from his predecessors, Kumaraswamy drove to Murthy’s home and spent about an hour discussing how the tech icon could be the guiding light of a team of expertsfrom various spheres that would be formed to address the problems faced by the burgeoning city.
The soon-to-be-formed committee headed by the chief minister will look into issues such as infrastructure – including bad roads, traffic management, water-logging and lake rejuvenation – and waste management. The committee will meet once every two months.
“Murthy said he was glad to be of help and would prepare his suggestions shortly,” said an aide of the chief minister who accompanied him to the meeting.
In a massive relief to Gurdwaras, the Narendra Modi government has decided to waive GST on langar items by providing financial assistance under ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’. Under the plan, the central government has a financial outlay of Rs 325 crore through which the Central GST and central government’s share of Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) on the purchase of items by “charitable institutions for distributing free food to the public” will be re-reimbursed, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.
It was earlier reported that the Gurdwaras, popular for running community kitchen known as the “langar”, were feeling the pinch of the GST regime.
The GST is not levied on food served in the langar, but is charged on the purchase of raw materials used to prepare the food. The items on which GST is levied are sugar, ghee, dry fruits, tea and LPG. The Golden Temple has paid over Rs 2 crore in GST on langar items to date.
The food bill of the Golden Temple, which feeds between 55,000 and 60,000 devotees daily, is around Rs 75 crore annually.
Traders’ body CAIT on Friday said it has filed a complaint against Flipkart with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged violation of the government’s foreign direct investment (FDI) policy.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said it “has urged the ED to investigate the business module of other e-commerce companies also as largely everyone is circumventing the law, Flipkart is one example of that”.
The CAIT said Flipkart in the guise of operating under a marketplace model is actively engaged in the inventory-based model of e-commerce.
“Their own admission before a tax authority shows that Flipkart is engaging in buying of goods which are ultimately sold on their platform. Flipkart tried to circumvent the law by routing the sales via their preferred sellers, who are their affiliates.
“It is a clear case of what they cannot do directly, they are doing it indirectly and this goes against the teeth of any law, including FDI policy and as such, Flipkart should be liable,” the CAIT said.
The FDI policy provides that an e-commerce entity providing a marketplace will not exercise ownership over the inventory —goods purported to be sold.
It claimed that Flipkart is also actively involved in selling “extended warranty” to customers directly.
Sweden’s Volvo Car India will stop the production of its diesel powertrains in the next six years as it aggressively pursues its electric mobility vision. Globally, Volvo will start producing only petrol and electric models of its cars from 2019.
“In the next six years, we will completely shift away from diesel in line with our global policy,” said Charles Frump, managing director, Volvo Car India.
Volvo has announced 50 per cent of its sales will be from electric cars by 2020, and the company expects much of these sales from India. “We are totally in sync with the government’s electric mobility vision. We need to chalk out the path to electric mobility in the coming years. We feel that hybrids in all its forms – mild hybrids, hybrids and plug-in hybrids – are the way forward towards electrification,” said Frump.
Monu Goyat is not going to forget the last two days anytime soon. Haryana Steelers shelled out Rs 1.51 crore for him in the two-day Pro Kabaddi League auction, making him the most expensive player ever in the league.
Along with Goyat, the entire kabaddi fraternity must be celebrating. After all, it’s the first time kabaddi players have breached the Rs 1 crore barrier — as many as six players commanded a bid in excess of Rs 1 crore at the auction. For a sport that has just begun to draw big money and eyeballs, it’s a fantastic news.
Besides encouraging many more youngsters to take up kabaddi, the money will change the lives of the players and their families. “I am not from a rich family. I come from a humble background, so this money will help us tide over a few problems. Ghar ke halat ab theek honge,” said Goyat, who comes from a family of farmers from a small village, Kungar, in Haryana’s Bhiwani district.
Goyat was one of the standout performers for Patna Pirates in their last season’s title run but was not retained. Given how things panned out in the auction, the franchisee’s decision not to retain him turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him.
England ended the first day of the second Test against Pakistan at Headingley on Friday in a strong position, bowling out the tourists for 174 before reaching 106/2 by the close. England trail by 68 runs with eight wickets remaining.
Pakistan were dismissed before tea after Stuart Broad ripped through their upper order with a fine spell that was the perfect answer to critics who have questioned his place in the team.
Pakistan were 79/7 at one stage and had Shadab Khan to thank for helping them to a more respectable total thanks to a lively 56 and a 43-run ninth wicket partnership with Hasan Ali.
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Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men. – Lao Tzu
Teacher: If I gave you 2 cats and another 2 cats and another 2, how many will you have?
Johnny: Seven, Mam.
Teacher: No, listen carefully… If I gave you 2 cats, and another 2 cats and another 2, how many will you have?
Johnny: Seven, Mam.
Teacher: Let me put it to you differently. If I gave you 2 apples, and another 2 apples and another 2, how many would you have?
Teacher: Good. Now if I gave you 2 cats, and another 2 cats and another 2, how many would you have?
Johnny: Seven!!! Mam!
A very angry Teacher:Where in the hell do you get seven from?!?!?
A very angry Johnny: Because,…. I’ve already got a damn cat!!!
Newsletter 2nd June,2018
June 4, 2018