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Bidi workers, health activists want bidis under 28% GST slab

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Bidi

New Delhi, May 30: Aiming to minimise tobacco-related deaths, bidi workers and health activists on Tuesday urged the government to put bidis under the 28 per cent tax slab of the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.

The bidi workers have also urged the government to intervene and alleviate their working conditions and eventually seek out alternative livelihood options.

The workers have accused the bidi company owners of taking subsidies in the name of poor workers like them.

“We ourselves are the victims of the bidi industry owners. They take advantage of us and manipulate the weak enforcement and regulatory system in the bidi industry to make our lives more miserable.

“We do not want you (government) to consider their request for lower taxes, benefits or subsidies that they are seeking in our name,” said Thangam, a 45-year bidi worker from Tamil Nadu in a letter written to the finance and health ministries.

Over one million deaths in India every year are tobacco related and almost two-thirds of tobacco consumers in India actually consume bidis, leading to debilitating diseases and eventual death.

According to Rijo John, Economist and Health Policy Analyst, the bidi consumption in India is price elastic and hence responds negatively to changes in prices.

“This is why a change in tax slabs could make a significant change in consumption and hence all the more reason why the government and the GST Council should not let this opportunity go to leverage the instrument of taxation to discourage bidi consumption — a stated public policy goal,” said John.

John said that a 28 per cent GST on bidis would only barely surpass the current tax burden on bidis in India. Hence, settling for a GST rate less than 28 per cent on bidis will result in a public health disaster in India as bidis are the most commonly used form of tobacco in the country.

According to the Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), for the majority of India’s 275 million tobacco users, not categorising bidis in the highest GST rate slab will only accelerate the death and diseases caused by tobacco and work against the goals stated in the government’s recently announced national health policy.

IANS

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Global cues subdue equity indices; metal stocks fall

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SENSEX-

Mumbai, June 18: Weak international markets and concerns of a resurgent global trade war depressed the key Indian equity indices on Monday.

According to market analysts, heavy selling was witnessed in the metal, consumer durables and IT stocks.

At 3.30 p.m., the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) provisionally closed at 10,799.85 points, down 17.85 points or 0.17 per cent from the previous close of 10,817.70 points.

Similarly, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which had opened at 35,698.43 points, closed at 35,548.26 points (3.30 p.m.) — down 73.88 points or 0.21 per cent from its previous session’s close of 35,622.14 points.

The Sensex touched a high of 35,721.55 points and a low of 35,518.73 points. The BSE market breadth was bearish with 1,709 declines and 934 advances.

The top gainers on the Sensex were ICICI Bank, Tata Motors, Tata Motors (DVR), Bajaj Auto and Maruti Suzuki whereas Vedanta, Kotak Bank, Bharti Airtel, Coal India and Axis Bank were the major losers.

On the NSE, Hindustan Petroleum, Indian Oil Corp and ICICI Bank were the highest gainers while, Hindalco Industries, Tata Steel and Vedanta lost the most.

IANS

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Audi CEO ‘Rupert Stadler’ arrested in diesel emissions probe

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Audi CEO Rupert Stadler (File Photo)

Madrid, June 18: Rupert Stadler, the Chief Executive of German carmaker Audi, was arrested on Monday in connection with an investigation into the diesel emissions scandal.

German prosecutors named Stadler and one other Audi executive as suspects for fraud and false advertisement in the car maker’s continuing emissions scandal, Efe news reported.

Nicolai Laude, a spokesperson for Audi’s parent company Volkswagen, confirmed that Stadler had been arrested but he declined to comment on the investigation. He said the company’s supervisory board would soon discuss the matter.

“The principle of the presumption of innocence continues to apply to Stadler,” he added.

Munich prosecutors said they had acted because of risk that Stadler might seek to suppress evidence, CNN said. They added that Stadler would be questioned by Wednesday, once he had spoken to his lawyers.

Shares in Volkswagen dropped by 2 per cent in Frankfurt. Prosecutors said last week they had searched Stadler’s home for evidence as part of an investigation that has been underway for over a year.

The arrest came just days after Germany imposed a $1.2 billion penalty on Volkswagen for rigging diesel engine emissions worldwide.

Volkswagen first admitted in 2015 it had rigged millions of diesel engines to cheat on emissions tests. Diesel cars from Volkswagen and its Audi subsidiary cheated on clean air rules with software that made emissions look less toxic than they actually were.

Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive officer of Volkswagen, was indicted in May by US prosecutors. He was charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud American customers and violate the Clean Air Act.

IANS

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Market Review: Higher industrial output, Kim-Trump meet lift equity indices

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Sensex Nifty Equity

Mumbai, June 16: Healthy industrial production data and an encouraging geo-political scenario aided the key Indian equity indices to rise for the fourth consecutive week.

The gains in the week ended Friday, however, were limited by a number of global factors including the interest rate hike in the US, and US President Donald Trump’s approval to tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese exports.

Additionally, domestic factors such as a rise in retail and wholesale inflation also arrested the gains.

Index-wise, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE rose by 178.47 points or 0.50 per cent to close at 35,622.14 points on a weekly basis.

The wider Nifty50 of the NSE closed the week’s trade at 10,817.70 points — up 50.05 points or 0.46 per cent — from its previous close.

According to analysts, market breadth was positive in only two of the five trading sessions.

“Markets ended the week with modest gains after a sharp bounce back from the lows of 10,755 points (Nifty50),” said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities.

Hem Securities’ Director Prateek Jain said: “Last week indices extended their winning streak to the fourth consecutive week. The upswing was seen despite retail inflation rising to 4.9 per cent for the month of May compared to the previous month.”

According to Rahul Sharma, Senior Research Analyst at Equity99, “It was an eventful week on the global front too, with US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signing a joint agreement for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.”

“Further, the Fed (US Federal Reserve) has again done what it was expected to do as it raised benchmark interest rates hinting at a little more aggression in tightening monetary policy this year,” Sharma said.

“Another event, which kept investors sentiments on the toe was reports that President Donald Trump’s administration has cleared tariffs on tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods”

On the currency front, the rupee closed at 68.02 against the US dollar depreciating by 51 paise from its previous week’s close of 67.51 per greenback.

In terms of investments, provisional figures from the stock exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrip worth Rs 5,294 crore, while the domestic institutional investors purchased stocks worth Rs 4,014.25 crore during the week.

Figures from the National Securities Depository (NSDL) revealed that foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) divested equities worth Rs 3,071.85 crore, or $455.4 million, in the week ended on June 15.

Sectorally, the top gainers were the pharma, IT, energy and PSU bank indices and the top losers were metal, infrastructure and realty indices, Jasani told IANS.

The top weekly Sensex gainers were Dr Reddy’s Lab (up 13.97 per cent at Rs 2,351.10); Sun Pharma (up 8.11 per cent at Rs 571.05); Tata Consultancy Services (up 5.33 per cent at Rs 1,841.45); IndusInd Bank (up 4.01 per cent at Rs 1,965.85); and Reliance Industries (up 3.10 per cent at Rs 1,013.85 per share).

The major losers were Tata Steel (down 5.60 per cent at Rs 565.95); ONGC (down 4.64 per cent at Rs 165.45); Coal India (down 3.74 per cent at Rs 279.05); NTPC (down 3.40 per cent at Rs 156.05); and Tata Motors (DVR) (down 3.30 per cent at Rs 180.05 per share).

IANS

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