|Sunday, May 7, 2000,
closes in on computer virus culprit
showcases sectors for FDI
donates 21 lakh for drought relief
the wonderland of investment
Net closes in on computer
INVESTIGATORS in the Philippines appeared to be closing in yesterday on spyder, author of the worlds most devastating computer virus.
But arresting and jailing the culprit, thought to be a 23-year-old man from a middle class suburb of Manila, will not prevent the love bug continuing its global destruction begun on Thursday, with new versions sprouting from computers around the world. One estimate puts the damage at $ 1 billion.
On Friday Microsoft, whose software was targeted by the virus creator, was accused by some IT specialists of having helped to create the conditions for the virus to spread, because of the ease with which different bits of its software could issue orders to each other.
Prompted by the FBI, investigators from the Philippine national bureau of investigations swooped on a Manila internet service provider, Access Net, which supplied spyder with two e-mail addresses from which the virus originated.
Jose Carlotta, chief operating officer of Access Net, said that clues to the virus makers identity had been obtained from online chatrooms. The person behind spyder had paid for one e-mail account with a prepaid plastic card, and acquired others by hacking, so Access had no current name or address.
We suspect that the guy is a 23-year-old from the suburb of Pandacan, said Mr Carlotta. Hes been very crafty. Hes been very able to move around the network, the various ISPs, and been very hard to locate. Hes been using a lot of hacked accounts. A local internet consultant, Toby Ayre, said the love bug had been uploaded onto the servers of another Manila provider last Friday, but had remained dormant for six days.
Estimates of the scale of infection and the damage caused varied wildly yesterday. Peter Tibbet of ICSA, Net in Virginia, which was used by the US justice department to quantify the damage caused by the similar, milder Melissa virus, said he believed the scale of losses would reach $1billion by Monday, by which time half of all US companies would be infected.
In Britain, the Consumers Association said 30 to 50 per cent of UK businesses were affected.
Parliament, the Pentagon, the CIA, Congress, and numerous government agencies around the world were badly hit. The ingenuity of the virus was that it combined a simple, effective means of spreading itself and causing damage with a deft psychological trick it came disguised as a love letter. When IT workers tried to open the letter by clicking on it, they launched the virus.
The virus spreads by mailing itself to every e-mail address in a recipients notebook; it overwrites potentially priceless picture and music files; and, most frighteningly, it downloads another piece of software from one of four remote websites which acts as a Trojan horse, reading a users secret passwords and mailing them to the virus author.
Those remote websites have now been shut down. But to a hacker the code of the virus is so simple that other websites can be substituted and a new version launched to scan more passwords. That is what happened yesterday, with at least three other versions of the ILOVEYOU virus emerging.
One, Very Funny, masquerades as a joke. Another pretends to be an e-mail about Mothers Day. A third is called Susitikim, which means lets meet in Lithuanian.
Pierre Vandeveune, of the Belgian firm Datarescue, which makes software used by many anti-virus companies, asked why it was that in Outlook Express a single click by a naive user was all it took to launch an alien programme that could mess up the entire computer.
Microsoft only thought about how they could have more features. But then there are consequences.
A spokesman for Microsoft UK said that viruses could affect any software, and Microsoft tended to be a target only because it had the most users. This is not really a technology issue, its an issue of motives, she said. Thats why Microsoft provide security features and let our customers decided whether a programme should run or not.
Sinha showcases sectors for FDI
CHIANG MAI (Thailand), May 6 (PTI) The Asian Development Banks annual meeting opened here today in this northern Thai city with Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha showcasing five major infrastructure sectors of India as holding major potential for foreign direct investment.
Participating in the ADBs high-level round table meeting, Sinha identified power, telecommunications and information technology, roads, ports and civil aviation as the five sectors in India where vast opportunities were available.
He said India needed $ 71 billion alone in roads and communication in the next 4-5 years and policy initiatives had been put in place for this purpose.
In telecommunication, he said, abundant investment opportunity existed in basic and cellular telephony, communication infrastructure, optic fibre cable, gateways, satellite-based communications, software development, IT enabled services.
It is estimated that 75 million telephone connections would be required by 2005 and 175 million by 2010. At current prices this translates into additional investment of nearly $ 37 billion by 2005 and $ 70 billion by 2010, he said.
Meanwhile, outside the Chiang Mai University, the venue of the three-day meet, about 2000 protestors demonstrated chanting anti-ADB slogans.
Sinha said investments worth estimated $ 34 billion were needed till 2005-06 for the development of national and state highways, of which private sector investment was to be $ 8.3 billion.
Opportunities (for FDI) exist in highway construction, four-laning of over 35,000 km of national highways and highway related en route activities like restaurants and motels, he said.
Ports areas identified for private sector investment included leasing out of existing port assets, creation of additional assets, leasing of equipment and floating craft from private sector, pilotage and captive facilities for port based industries, he said.
On the power sector,
Sinha said enhancement of capabilities in generation,
transmission and distribution to meet a demand of nearly
200,000 MW by 2012 would offer a huge potential for FDI.
Bank donates 21 lakh for
NEW DELHI, May 6 The State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur has contributed Rs 21 lakh for the Prime Ministers National Relief Fund.
The Managing Director of the bank, Mr Madhukar, handed over the cheque to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, here today.
Mr Vajpayee had appealed to the citizens to contribute whole-heartedly to the Prime Ministers National Relief Fund to help more than 50 million people in Gujarat, Rajasthan and some other parts of the country to tide over the natural calamity.
The banks also decided
to allow special facility of at par drafts through all
branches in the country to the customer and non-customers
for their contributions to the Fund, Mr Madhukar added.
Website on auction
CHANDIGARH, May 6 A new website which facilitates internet auctions has been launched here by a group of young technocrats. The new site auction2gain will bring buyers and sellers together through the Internet.
Besides it will offer a
complete e-commerce market place where sellers will pay a
nominal fee before registering their product for auction
and buyers from across the globe can access the site to
make their bids which will be evaluated and the
successful bidder, will be intimated.
In the wonderland of investment
Q: If a PPF account holder does not intend to continue through Form-H after 15 years and also does not withdraw the balance amount on completion of 15 years, will the amount in the account on completion of 15 years, earn applicable tax-free interest at the rate applicable for the period the amount is not withdrawn? Besides, what are the profitable schemes available to an income tax payee who wants to invest for a year or two?
Mr R.C. Gupta, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi
A: Yes, he can continue the account without contribution and Form-H does not come in the picture. However, he will not be allowed to open a fresh account. I have therefore been advocating for closure juncture, it is possible to earn higher than 12 per cent (now reduced to 11 per cent w.e.f. 15.1.2000) returns on investible funds. In view of the reduction in the rate, you may not open a new PPF account. Even when the rate was 12 per cent, Tax-saving Bonds of ICICI/IDBI were better than PPF for many of the assessees. Now, in spite of the fact that the Bond rate is slated to be reduced in sympathy with PPF, the Bonds have become the best.
Q: I am a senior citizen, aged 76. I have been drawing my pension from the Central Government for the past over 17 years. Till the previous FY 1998-99 I have enjoyed a tax-free pension. However, with the recent increase in pension and the resultant arrears thereof, with effect from 1.1.96, I assume I may be liable to pay income tax for the current FY 1999-2000. What will be my tax liability for the current year with the following income:
What are the schemes, especially of short term nature considering my age, in which I could invest to earn relief rebate from income tax including earning total income tax exemption?
Mr Jagdish Prasad, Vikaspuri, New Delhi.
A: Since this is a pension that has a nexus with the salary you were earning before your retirement, you are eligible to a standard deduction of Rs 20,000 thereon. Therefore, the taxable income is Rs 1,21,144 and the tax on this is Rs 13,229. After claiming the rebate for senior citizens of Rs 10,000, the tax payable becomes Rs 3,229. Contribution of Rs 16,145 to Sec. 88 will bring you out of the tax net completely. I presume you have no other income.
I suggest you contribute Rs 15,000 to infrastructure-linked ICICI Tax-Saving Bonds (TSB) and Rs 1,145 to PPF. TSBs were always better than PPF and have become much more better, after the reduction in the interest rate of PPF from 12 per cent to 11 per cent. Unfortunately, the TSB can be entered into in multiples of Rs 5,000 and hence, you will have to contribute the overflow to PPF.
TSB has 2 options. The first one is with a lock-in of 3 years and interest is paid annually. The second has a tenure of 3 years and 3 months and is in the nature of Deep Discount Bonds. Some time ago, the availability of Sec 80L to interest paid by TSB was doubtful and I used to prefer option-2. Recently, the Sec. 80L has been extended to regular income paying schemes of financial institutions and therefore I have started opting for option-1.
Incidentally, you are entitled to claim benefit of Sec. 89(I) and reduce your tax liability further. Had you given me the details, I would have computed this for you.
Q: In one of your article you had advised that the PPF account should not be continued after the maturity date (i.e. 15 years). You had advised to close the account and withdraw the total amount and to open a fresh new account. In my family some of the accounts will be maturing by 1.4.2000. As a layman I have not understood the reasons for doing so. Why is it necessary to close the account instead of continuing the same for further 5 or 10 years. We are in 20% tax bracket.
Ms Rashmi Bhojani, [email protected]
A: If you close the account and open another fresh PPF account, you have access to 100 per cent of the balance at the end of the term. If you continue the account for a block period of 5 years, you have access only to 60 per cent of the balance. I prefer not to block large funds for 5 years, when it is easy to avoid doing so. After the slashing of the interest rate of PPF, it has become almost mandatory for you to close the account at maturity. Then again, take maximum advantage of the premature withdrawal facility and withdraw as much as possible, as soon as possible and take the funds to UTI/MF schemes for better returns.
Q: I would like to know whether Sec 37 (i) will be applicable in case of a company selling a property owned by it to the employee who has been occupying it at:-
(a) a concessional price (b) at indexed cost of acquisition, or (c) at the present value of the original procurement cost calculated at an appropriate interest rate. I am aware that in all cases the stamp duty applicable will be as per the published rates.
T.V. Lukose, [email protected] 53, Venus, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai 400005.
A: I am
afraid you have not put your question in the correct
perspective. Firstly, Sec. 37 deals with expenditure not
being in the nature of capital expenditure. Secondly, I
have not heard of anyone selling the property at indexed
cost. In any case, I do comprehend what you desire to ask
and hopefully the answer is Whenever a property is
sold to the employee, the difference between the market
price and the price paid by the employee will be taxed as
a perquisite in the hands of the employee.
Burden of proof
Q: Is it a sufficient discharge of the duty if the tenant proves that no suitable buildings are available in the locality? in such a case, would it now fall on the landlord to prove that suitable buildings are available in locality?
Ans: In Krishna Kunju Raveendran v Sukumaran Pillai (1999 (2) R.C.J. 620) Kerala HC took the view thus:
When once the tenant had proved by examination of the Secretary of Merchants Association and the Accommodation Controller, that no suitable buildings were available in the locality, then, in the opinion of the HC, it was for the landlord to establish that suitable buildings were available in the locality. There is absolutely no evidence to show that the building belonging to Balachandran was one suitable for conducting a tea shop and that was within the reach of the tenants financial ability.
In the absence of any such evidence, the HC observed much reliance cannot be placed on the so-called admission by the tenant. The Rent Controller as well as the Appellate Authority had not considered this aspect and ignored the established principles of law regarding the burden of proof.
In the opinion of the HC the tenant has discharged the burden as contemplated by law. The approach made by the Rent Controller and the Appellate Authority was wholly unreasonable and perverse and hence the HC is certainly entitled to interfere in revision. According to the HC, the tenant had discharged his burden in establishing that no suitable building was available in the locality for carrying on the trade or business of the tenant and hence the HC held that he was entitled to the protection under the 2nd proviso to S. 11 (3) of the Kerala Rent Act. The findings of both the Courts below are hence liable to be set aside.
It is for the landlord to decide what modifications he has to make in the building and the tenant cannot say that it is not suitable for residential purposes. There is no prohibition, clarified the HC that the building used by the tenant for his business purpose cannot be used by the landlord for his residential purpose after making necessary alterations in the building. In other words, on this plea of the tenant, the HC held that such a contention raised by the tenant is devoid of merit and cannot be accepted.
In the result, this
civil revision is allowed. The order of the Rent Control
Court as well as the Rent Control Appellate Authority
that the tenant was not entitled to the protection of the
2nd proviso to S. 11 (3) of the Act is set aside and the
tenant was found entitled to the protection of the 2nd
proviso to S. 11 (3) of the Act.
Members differ on AI disinvestment
UNCERTAINTY prevails on the proposals of disinvestment in Air India and Pawan Hans. The Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment met recently but no decision could be arrived at as there was difference of opinion among members.
Ministry of Civil Aviation officials were on different wavelength from others though Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pramod Mahajan went on record as saying that there was unanimity among the members on disinvestment.
There is also a difference of opinion whether Air India should have a strategic partner. Some are opposed to the proposal. Others feel that it should have a partner with no more than 25 per cent stake. For Indian Airlines, the stake for a strategic partner has been fixed at 26 per cent.
This uncertainty does not auger well for the industry which is at present passing through a lean period. Foreign carriers and private operators on the domestic sector have started stealing march over Air India and Indian Airlines. The more Government delays, the more advantage for rivals to AI and IA.
The Prime Ministers Task Force, in the meantime, has dropped the proposal of equity to foreign airlines in domestic airlines. No plausible reason has been offered as to why this proposal has been dropped by the Task Force.
The Civil Aviation Ministry will take measures to modernise airports as also upgrading some others. Some of the members believe that work for modernisation of airports should be undertaken on war-footing.
The analysts feel that at least two international airports in Delhi and Mumbai should be modernised without any loss of time. There is an urgent need to construct second module at the IGTA. The Airports Authority of India may be forced to increase the share of revenue through non-aeronautical services, such as, shops and hotels.
Mr Sharad Yadav has decided to fill in the vacancies existing in the Board of Directors. Among the new nine incumbents, there are quite a few from Bihar, as expected. The analysts feel that Directors on Board should be those who have had background of aviation so that their induction helps the Board to function in right direction. To help induct persons for the name sake is not a very rewarding exercises.
Every politician has his own likes and dislikes. When C.M. Ibrahim was the Minister, he appointed two NRIs from Dubai on Board. Their only qualification was that they were wealthy. They were removed from the Board as soon as the BJP Government came into power.
The crash of 22-year-old Boeing 737-200 of Air Philippines flight 541 was one of the worst in recent years. All 131 persons were killed.
The cause of the
accident is not known. There have been two versions. One
is engine trouble, as reported by the commander, while
another is human fallibility.
Q: We are registered dealers both under the provisions of the Haryana General Sales Tax Act, 1973 and the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956. We are engaged in business of manufacture and sale of gur. About two months back, a penalty of Rs 18,000/- was levied on the spot at the time of interception of the consignment that was being carried by us. No copy of the order was issued by the officer levying the penalty. Please advise if we are entitled to carry the matter in appeal beyoud sixty days?
Ans: It may be mentioned here that every order passed involving penalty can be challenged in appeal before the Joint Excise and Taxation Commissioner (Appeals) within a period of 60 days from the date of the order appealed against. This limitation commences from the receipt of the copy of the order passed under the Haryana General Sales Tax Act, 1973.
It appears that no copy of the order has since been issued to the queries and therefore it is open to him to call in question the validity of the order involving levy of penalty within a period of 60 days from the receipt of the copy of the order. It is not that the limitation starts from the date of the order passed under the Act.
Q: In pursuance of an agreement of sale we supplied certain machinery to a Punjab based party. One of the terms of the agreement was that machinery will be first supplied to the buyer at his place of business. It will be only after final inspection and commissioning of the machinery that the sale will be considered to be complete.
Kindly advise if sale is a local sale or that it is an inter-state sale? Please also clarify the legal position regarding levy of tax.
Kapoor Brothers, Faridabad
Ans: It is quite clear from the terms of the agreement entered into between the seller and the buyer that the movement of goods from one state to another is taking place in pursuance of the agreement. Section 3 of the Centre Sales Tax Act, 1956 says if the sale of goods occasions the movement of goods from one State to another, the transaction will treated as a sale in the course of inter-state trade or commerce.
Simply because the property in the goods passes on to the buyer in the other state it will not affect the nature of the transaction. In other words, even if the delivery of the machinery takes place in Punjab after inspection the transaction still constitutes a sale within the meaning of section 3 of the Centre Sales Tax Act, 1956.
Q: What kind of documents are required to be carried along with the goods when the same are transported from one place to another? Kindly advise in the context of the Haryana General Sales Tax Act, 1973.
(2) of section 37 of the Haryana General Sales Tax Act,
1973 requires two sets of the documents, such as, bill of
sale, challan or cash memo, as the case may be and trip
sheet or log book or a copy of goods receipt. In other
words, section 37(2) refers to two sets of documents to
be carried by a carrier or transporter of goods for
production before the officer at the place of checking.
Making vegetables colourful and toxic
BRIGHT colours may attract, but they could also repel, once the consumer knows that such colours could be toxic. Take the case of the summer fruit, water melon. Since consumer preference is for ripe, bright red melons, they often ask the fruit vendor to cut a small piece of the fruit and show them the inside colour before buying. So sellers have apparently started injecting a red dye into the fruit to give it a bright red shade. In New Delhi, for example, following complaints of artificial colouring of water melons, the State Health Minister has asked the Department of Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) to lift the fruit samples at regular intervals and test them for the presence of any artificial dye.
Now following the publicity given to the adulteration of water melons, suddenly I find a shift in consumer preference: they prefer not to buy melons that are so lusciously red! But unfortunately, the number of such people is still too small, otherwise the vendors would have by now stopped colouring.
I quote the case of the water melon to highlight two points: (a) that the pernicious practice of using harmful colours in foods to camouflage poor quality or to simply make food look attractive, is spreading far and wide and even fruits and vegetables are not being spared. (b) Poor enforcement of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act coupled with consumer ignorance and apathy is allowing adulterators to get away with such practices.
In fact during the hot summer months, it is not just the water melon that gets infused with red colour. Since vegetables tend to dry up quickly, they are also given a coating of different colours to make them look fresh. Ladies finger, peas, capsicum, brinjal are only some of the many vegetables that are given a coloured bath or simply given a shiny coat to fool consumers into believing that they are fresh.
Then there are other foods like pulses and spices that get a coating of paint throughout the year, irrespective of the season. Here, the colour is meant to give them an attractive shine or to cover up holes left by insects or worms. Arhar dal, for example is often artificially coloured with various yellow dyes. Soak it in water and you will notice the water turning yellow in no time. Many other pulses reveal their true colour only when they are put in water. The red variety of rajma for example, often gives out blood red colour when put in water. Dried red chillies have also been found to be coloured with harmful synthetic dyes.
However, white fruits, vegetables and pulses are coloured to cover up poor quality, in case of ground spices, colours have been found to just replace the spice itself. It is for this reason that the Health Ministry has made it mandatory for all ground condiments to he sold only in packed form, but even today, ground spices are sold without packaging and proper labelling, again because of (a) poor implementation and (b) consumer ignorance. The colours used in these foods include sudan red, metanil yellow and lead chromate. While metanil yellow can cause cancer, stomach ailments and degeneration of the male reproductive organs, lead chromate causes anaemia, brain damage and blindness. Sudan red is also carcinogenic.
There are no simple solutions to tackling the menace of adulteration. However, consumers can certainly make a beginning by demanding (a) adequate food testing facilities (b) complete transparency in the functioning of the department of PFA and (c) getting samples of suspected food tested at regular intervals. In fact I would put much more emphasis on the last point.
The Delhi State Government, for example, has set up a control room and given a telephone number on which consumers can complain about adulteration food. The name and address of the complainant would be kept secret, the Government has promised. In addition, it has also offered to test samples of food for adulteration at its laboratory. Consumers in other States and Union territories should also demand similar facilities.
Again in Delhi, the
Union Ministry of consumer affairs has provided food
testing facility for a nominal sum of Rs 10 at the Super
Bazar. The rest results cannot be used for prosecuting
anyone, but it can certainly help consumers find out
whether a particular food is adulterated or not. Similar
testing facilities should be made available in every
district in the country. And it should be used by
consumers, consumer groups and residents associations,
not so much to prosecute a retailer, but to confront him
with the results and thus force him to be far more
careful about quality. If he fails to pay heed, then
consumers can complain to the department of PFA. Such
testing of food at regular intervals by consumers would
also put pressure on the Department of PFA to enforce the
law much more stringently.
Nalco net zooms
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