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Earmark 50% of land for govt schools: Panel
New Delhi, July 30
Ashok Chawla The Committee for Allocation of Natural Resources (CANR) headed by former Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla has recommended that in regard to allocation of land for educational institutions, of the plots that are identified for primary and secondary schools under the zonal plans and master plan.
Ashok Chawla

Amritsar goldmine for cargo trade
Worldwide, foreign airlines bigwigs and import-export industrialists have realised that cargo is indeed lifeless but it has a potential to be more money-spinner than passenger traffic, which is highly sensitive and besieged by several intricate problems.

Investor Guidance
No tax on long-term gains from equity mutual funds 


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Earmark 50% of land for govt schools: Panel
Sanjeev Sharma/TNS

New Delhi, July 30
The Committee for Allocation of Natural Resources (CANR) headed by former Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla has recommended that in regard to allocation of land for educational institutions, of the plots that are identified for primary and secondary schools under the zonal plans and master plan, a substantial percentage say 50 per cent should be earmarked and allotted for government schools.

The Group of Ministers (GoM) has referred the Chawla report to a Committee of Secretaries to make recommendations to the GoM on the areas of acceptance. The Ashok Chawla panel had submitted its report to the Cabinet Secretary. The panel was set up by the GoM on tackling corruption.

The CANR looked at eight natural resources where the Central government had a substantial role to play in matters of allocation, pricing and utilisation which are land, water, forests, spectrum, minerals, petroleum, natural gas and coal.

On educational institutions, a small percentage say 10 per cent can be allotted through a transparent reasoned mechanism with the approval of the Cabinet on a case-to-case basis. The remaining plots can be alienated through the auction process or competitive bidding to pre-qualified buyers in the field of education, as per the existing practice.

With respect to land being held by the Central government or its agencies, the CANR has recommended that all such lands should be properly titled and inventorised and its alienation should be through sale rather on the basis of long-term lease and optimal land use should be ensured before alienation.

In respect of land owning agencies like Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the accounts should be properly maintained and made available in the public domain and all land allocations for commercial and institutional purposes should be on the basis of a competitive and transparent bidding methodology, preferably e-auctions.

On forests, the CANR said the capacity of state forest departments needs to be enhanced and the quality and organisation of databases on forest conditions needs to be substantially improved for the process of decision making to be expeditious and transparent.

The CANR looked at water-related issues in view of the widespread apprehension of an impending water crisis particularly with respect to groundwater.

The CANR has recommended that a comprehensive framework legislation on water should be enacted either by shifting the subject of water from the State list to the Concurrent list or alternatively by securing consent of a majority of state legislatures for the Union to enact such a legislation, on similar lines as the process followed for enactment of the Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974.

On telecom spectrum, the committee has said that in the future, spectrum for telecom access services should be made available through suitable market-related processes. It has also recommended that all future telecom licences should be unified licences and also de-linked from spectrum and effective measures should be taken to ensure continued efficient usage of spectrum through re-defining the appropriate geographical units for allocation.

On natural gas, it has recommended that keeping in mind the critical needs of the agriculture sector and food security in mind the practice of allocation of natural gas for production of urea should continue at a price to be fixed based on the formula approved by the government.

On the petroleum sector, it has recommended hiving off the regulatory responsibilities of the Director General of Hydrocarbons into a separate upstream regulator.

On coal, it has recommended inclusion of mining firms as part of a bid-based captive mine allocation process, which is already under the consideration of the Ministry of Mines. These mining firms would be linked to designated and approved end users through the creation of a transaction platform, which could be owned and managed by a government designated agency, in order to ensure that all potential designated and approved end-users can benefit from increased supply, instead of a limited number of captive users, as is the current practice.

On mining, the CANR recommended that the sharing of benefits with the local populations of mining-affected areas should be indexed to royalty rather than profits of the mining companies.

CANR Recommendations

  • All land allocations should be on the basis of a competitive and transparent bidding, preferably e-auction
  • On water, it has recommended that a comprehensive framework legislation should be enacted
  • On telecom, it said spectrum should be allotted through market-related processes and licences should be de-linked from spectrum
  • On gas, it said allocation for production of urea should continue at a price to be fixed by the govt
  • On petroleum sector, it suggested hiving off regulatory responsibilities of DGH into a separate upstream regulator
  • On coal, it said include mining firms for captive mine allocation

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Aviation Notes
Amritsar goldmine for cargo trade
by KR Wadhwaney

Worldwide, foreign airlines bigwigs and import-export industrialists have realised that cargo is indeed lifeless but it has a potential to be more money-spinner than passenger traffic, which is highly sensitive and besieged by several intricate problems.

These foreign authorities have also realised that transportation of cargo by air is a wonderful instrument for quicker flow of money than sending cargo by rail and road which not only take long time for transportation but the flow of money is also delayed.

There are many other reasons which induce airlines to promote cargo movement with greater care and consideration than uplifting passenger traffic. Such have been the gains from the cargo unit that many foreign carriers have begun independent operations.

Aware of this trend, leading manufacturers have produced and are working on designs to help produce exclusive cargo planes and also combi-aircraft which can be converted from passenger aircraft to cargo carriers without consuming much time.

Unlike these developments in many foreign countries, India and Indian authorities have been slow in realising the importance of cargo trade which, according to analysts, can fetch much more slice of money than passenger traffic.

According to the analysts, expenses on cargo are much less than passenger traffic because consignments do not need lobbyists, public relations officers, first class, business class and multiple of other facilities.

According to the analysts, air cargo continues to be a neglected area as compared to passengers because cargo is lifeless and it does not provide the needed importance to handlers, as passenger traffic does. To add further problems, the industrialists dealing with import and export are made to shell out more levies, duties and taxes to airport operators. What is cause for concern is that the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) continues to be indifferent to air cargo industry.

Punjab in general and Amritsar in particular is a goldmine for cargo trade. But the plans to raise a state-of-the-art perishable cargo centre at Sri Guru Ramdas Ji International Airport have been needlessly shelved. The reason given for discontinuation of the cargo centre at Amritsar is 'laughable'. It says that Air India has suspended its non-stop Amritsar-London-Toronto flight and it has affected the promotion of cargo on both sides. The bilateral imbalances may have increased but it is not good enough reason to suspend raising of the centre at Amritsar.

In this muddle, all blame rests with politicians who are not only standing between Air India and turnaround but they are causing immense damage to promote cargo trade which needs professional and commercial handling.

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Investor Guidance
No tax on long-term gains from equity mutual funds 
by A.N. Shanbhag

Q: I am an Indian national planning to move to the Middle-East for a job opportunity. My queries are: 1. If I want to invest in Indian equity mutual funds in India through my NRE account, redemption at later date in the same NRE account is fully repatriable or not ?

2. What about tax laws i.e. applicable taxes in case of short-term and long-term capital gain as well as losses?

Kirit Pandya

A: Yes, any redemption of an equity mutual fund originally having been invested from funds in the NRE account may be credited back to the NRE account. Money in the NRE account is fully repatriable, so once you receive the credit into your NRE account, you may repatriate the funds anytime.

Long-term gains from equity and equity mutual funds are tax-free, short-term gains are taxable @15% and dividends too are fully tax exempt.

Tax on debentures

Q: I have purchased some debentures on the advice of my broker. While the interest is attractive, the broker is not clear about the tax implications on sale. Please advise.

U.M. Pandit

A: As per proviso to Sec. 112, the 10% option is available in respect of listed securities, units and zero coupon bonds. So, if the debentures are listed in the market, they will qualify as listed securities and hence will be eligible for the 10% rate.

Form 15H

Q: My only source of income is interest earned from the bank on FDs. Currently the basic exemption limit covers my interest income and hence I do not have any tax liability. I also submit Form 15H with the bank so that the bank does not deduct any TDS. My question is if the interest income increases to Rs 2,50,000 annually, whether I can still submit Form 15H form to the bank. Though the income is above the basic exemption limit of Rs 1.80 lakh, my tax payable would still be nil as I have the option to invest Rs 1 lakh u/s 80C before the end of FY.

Nishu

A: Please note that form 15H is to be filed by senior citizens only. Others may file form 15G. The declaration under Form-15G can be filed only if both the following conditions are satisfied and Form-15H if only the first condition is satisfied:

1. The tax on estimated total income of the applicant (after claiming deductions under Chapter VI-A) is nil.

2. The aggregate of income from i) dividend other than dividends from domestic companies, ii) interest on securities, iii) interest other than interest on securities, and iv) repayment of deposits under the National Saving Scheme, does not exceed the maximum amount which is not chargeable to tax. Therefore, if your interest income itself is over Rs 1.80 lakh, then you would not be eligible to file Form 15G. Also note that the onus of eligibility to file Form 15H has to be determined by the taxpayer and not the bank concerned.

The authors may be contacted at wonderlandconsultants@yahoo.com

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