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Friday, December 31, 1999
Tax arrears mount to
Duty on sugar, edible oil
SBI holds seminar on NRIs
CTV units record 25 pc growth
Ambala rail division earnings up
Chandigarh's planet of fitness
hints at simple tax system
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 The indirect and direct tax structure could be further streamlined in the Budget, the Union Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, indicated here today.
We must have straight forward and simple taxation system that is easily understandable, Mr Sinha said adding that the process of tax reforms initiated in the last Budget will be continued in the forthcoming Budget also.
The Finance Minister said that the Government is determined to do away with the regressive impact of the indirect tax structure. We should eschew populism, fiscal profligacy and induct higher degree of fiscal discipline to take the economy to a higher orbit of growth, he said while speaking at the 94th Annual General Meeting of PHDCCI here.
Direct tax reforms carried out by successive governments, he noted, have helped in better tax compliance, and said he was confident that the country would get back to the high 11 to 12 per cent tax-GDP ratio in the coming years from the current level of about 9 per cent.
Mr Sinha said that the States will be involved as equal partners in second generation economic reforms and indirect tax reforms started last year will be carried forward in the coming budget.
Admitting that fiscal deficit was causing concern, Sinha said in the next 3-5 years the country must ensure fiscal discipline by eschewing fiscal profligacy and cutting the flap on expenditure.
Reaffirming the commitment of the Government to bring about value added tax (VAT) in 15 months from now, the Finance Minister said that there is widespread appreciation amongst the States to go for sales tax harmonisation.
Outgoing President of PHDCCI, Mr Ashok Khanna said that the direct tax system should be simple, transparent and linear with low tax rate, but without fiscal concessions.
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 (PTI) Direct tax arrears mounted to Rs 41,230 crore in the 1997-98 fiscal, an increase of 22.7 per cent over the previous year, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).In its recent report presented to Parliament, the CAG also said despite the higher tax collection of Rs 48,280.40 crore including Rs 9,554.25 crore from Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS-97), total tax collection declined by Rs 168.93 crore although there was an increase in the number of assessees from 1.2 crore to 1.35 crore.
About arrears, it said, the amount of tax which remained uncollected on March 31, 1998, was Rs 41,230.03 crore in the case of income tax including corporation tax.
The uncollected amount (of Rs 41,230.03 crore) has increased by Rs 7,644.91 crore constituting 22.7 per cent over the previous year, CAG said.
A major cause for increase was demands kept in abeyance by courts, tribunals and revenue appellate authorities, the report added.
CAG said the uncollected amount comprised arrear demand of Rs 25,703.80 crore of earlier years which included Rs 1,444.05 crore relating to a period over 5 years.
Collection from VDIS was at the cost of normal growth in revenue collection, it added.
Tax buoyancy, a key indicator of efficiency of revenue mobilisation in response to growth in GDP, was on an average greater than one per cent over the last ten years, but turned negative 0.01 per cent in 1997-98, CAG said.
Analysis of tax buoyancy with reference to GDP excluding the agricultural income, the report said, showed progressive decline over the last three years indicating poor mobilisation effort in revenue generation.
CAG said that most of the new assessees belonged to low income strata and as a result there was a declining trend in the per capita revenue collection during the last five years.
About 95 per cent
of the new assessees were among non-company assessees,
accounted for in the low income range up to Rs 2 lakh
while about 80 per cent in the case of corporate
assessees was in the range below Rs 5 lakh from low
income range, it said.
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 (PTI) The Government today hiked the import duty on sugar to 40 per cent and on refined edible oil to 25 per cent to check imports which were affecting domestic producers and farmers.
Announcing this Consumer Affairs Minister Shanta Kumar said the countervailing duty of Rs 850 per tonne on imported sugar remains unchanged.
The import duty hike on sugar is 12.5 per cent as it goes up from the present 27.5 per cent to 40 per cent. The duty hike in refined edible oil is 10 per cent in addition to the 10 per cent surcharge which makes the total increased hike 27.5 per cent from the present 15 per cent, he said.
On sugar, Shanta Kumar said the levy obligation has been brought down to 30 per cent from the current 40 per cent as per recommendation of the Mahajan Committee report.
The Government also dispensed with discretionary quota for free sale sugar from January 1 next to do away with ad hoc release of additional quantities over and above the monthly release to individual sugar mills, he said.
Hereafter, monthly release of sugar to mills will be on pro-rata basis, he added.
seminar on NRIs
CHANDIGARH, Dec 30 SBI main branch here organised a seminar on Non-Resident Indians in which 22 NRIs from the U.K., the U.S.A., Germany, Japan and the Middle East participated.
Mr V.K. Gupta, Deputy. General Manager of the Bank, apprised the participants about various schemes of the bank for NRIs in the economic development of the country.
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 (PTI) The Rs 5,000 crore Colour Television industry again witnessed an year of over 25 per cent growth in 1999 and is targeting financial year 1999-2000 sales of close to five million sets, mainly on the strength of sustained technological upgradation coupled with savvy marketing techniques and continuous price reduction.
In what is being seen as the most remarkable trend of the colour television market in 1999, three Chinese brands Konka, TCL and Hayer made their Indian debut but are struggling to take on the by now firmly entrenched Korean as well as Japanese majors besides domestic firms BPL and Videocon.
The worlds largest television market in China collapsed some time back due to huge capacity build-up and manufacturers overnight dropped prices by as much as 25 per cent, a colour television dealer said.
After the situation
turned desperate in China, all eyes turned towards the
rapidly expanding Indian CTV market and players like
Konka and TCL decided to literally dump their sets in
India at throwaway prices, industry sources said.
banking vulnerable to Y2K
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 With less than 24 hours to go for the millennium bug (Y2K) to hit, an Information Technology research group said power, banking and transport sector in India are likely to be hit by the bug and could result in a revenue loss of around $400 million dollars.
There may be power blackouts or banking glitches as the country rolls over into the new millennium, said Mr Pradeep Gupta, Managing Director of International Data Corporation (India).
Though India as a whole spent about $100 million in repairing the Y2K bug related problems in 1999, the country might get minor bruises by suffering a 0.2 per cent of GDP or $400 million revenue loss, he said.
The impact of the Y2K bug in India will not be as severe as made out to be...only 0.2 per cent loss in revenue due to cascading effect caused by the Y2K bug. But there might be power blackouts and banking glitches, Mr Gupta said.
Addressing a press conference on IDCs Megellan project,he said India is only a notch worse than the U.S.A. and would keep company of Ireland, Norway, Poland, Malaysia and Philippines while suffering the loss due to Y2K.
Computer glitches across the world will be plentiful but major infrastructure outrages would not occur, the IDC report said.
The report has concluded that the world has spent about $280 billion in fixing the problem and on an average may lose about 0.02 per cent of the global economy due to the bug.
In general, the more automated countries have also spent more to fix the problem, the most vulnerable have lots of old software, less dependence on automation and smaller economies.
The IDC has also concluded that the most prepared
industries (finance, insurance) are also the most vulnerable to imported bugs.
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 The government has set up a National Control Room (NCR) and sectoral control room for monitoring the eleven Y2K critical sectors during the transition to the new millennium.
Control rooms have also been set up at the state level to monitor the problem and all control rooms, which became functional from December 28, would remain operational till January 3, 2000, an official release said here today.
The 11 sectors
identified as Y2K critical include atomic energy,
banking, civil aviation, defence, insurance, power,
petroleum, ports, railways, space and telecommunications.
The NCR would provide information at regular intervals
about the state of transition in these 11 sectors from
December 31 mid-night, the release added.
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 (PTI) Plastic money leaders in India, Mastercards, today said all its operations were Y2K compliant and customers fears on this score were unfounded.
The assurance came in the wake of apprehensions following difficulties experienced by thousands of small retailers to process the credit cards in the Western world on Tuesday after the millennium bug hit a payment system used by global banking giant HSBC holdings.
Vice-President and Country Manager for South Asia Sameer
Vakil told PTI that the multinational company started its
Y2K preparations right in 1994 and that their entire
system and all local and international operations are
well tested and Y2K compliant.
Ambala rail division earnings up
CHANDIGARH, Dec 30 The earnings of the Ambala Railway Division, that caters to railway services in Chandigarh also, have been Rs 412 crore for the first eight months of this financial year. This is almost Rs 99 crore more than that during the same period between April and November last year.
Meanwhile, the expenditure of the division has gone down from 58 per cent last year to 42 per cent this year, the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Ambala Division, Mr Vijay Kumar, said today. The earnings are calculated on the basis of passengers' ticketing and freight movement.
About opening a second entry to the Chandigarh railway station, he said the project deadline had been extended from December to February as the foot bridge connecting the railway station from the other side is yet to come up.
Discussing the issue of how fog in the plains of Haryana and Punjab has been delaying long-distance trains, he said there is no economically viable solution. The cost of such requirements run into several thousand crores and this is certainly not suggested for country like ours.
Chandigarh's planet of fitness
CHANDIGARH, Dec 30 With a high-tech gymnasium, a spa area for body toning and relaxation, steam bath, sauna, naturopathy, jacuzzi, physiotherapy massages and the only fitness centre in town with an aerobics studio that has air cushion flooring that ensures safety from stress injuries, planet fitness is offering a few customised packages in the new year catering to different age groups and profiles.
Ms Kiran Chadha, the person behind this project, said she has been inspired by fitness studies overseas.
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