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Defence Minister looking into education fund cap issue: Army chief

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General Bipin Rawat
Army chief General Bipin Rawat (FilePhoto)

New Delhi, Dec 6: Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has promised to resolve the issue of a cap of Rs 10,000 on educational expenses paid to the children of defence forces martyrs.

General Rawat said Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, has informed her of the issue, and she has said the issue will be addressed on priority.

Defence Ministry sources said the Minister had held a meeting on the issue on Wednesday and a decision is likely soon.

General Rawat said: “For our martyrs, children are entitled (to) free education. It is a very good thing that the government has done. What has happened is possibly because of some misunderstanding– they have now capped it at Rs 10,000 because somebody must have calculated as to how much a person spends per month on child education,” .

“In our case, we have written to the government. I think the Defence Minister is completely seized of the problem. She is aware of it, and after we explained the reason to her… she said she is certainly concerned about it and will address the issue on priority,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

According to informed sources, Admiral Lanba, the most senior among the three service chiefs, wrote to the Minister to urge her to resolve the problem.

A letter dated September 13 by the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare capped fee for tuitions and hostel expenses at Rs 10,000 per month.

The demand to a rollback on the decision was also raised by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, and Union Minister of State for External Affairs General V.K. Singh, who is himself an Army ex-chief.
IANS

India

‘Premature GST hurting small businesses, causing revenue shortfall’

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GST

New Delhi, Dec 14: West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Thursday attacked the Central government on what he called “premature GST launch” and said it had led to revenue shortfall of Rs 39,111 crore to states in just four months.

He said the “plummeting” GST collections by Rs 12,000 crore in one month was a serious cause of concern even as the premature implementation had led to serious problems for the small and medium enterprises which were “seriously hurting”.

Mitra, also a member of the GST Council, said under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act, Rs 43,013 crore worth revenue per month was protected for the states.

“So in four months, we needed Rs 1.72 lakh crore while we have got Rs 1.33 lakh crore. That means there is a protected revenue shortfall in four months of Rs 39,111 crore,” he said at the FICCI’s Annual General Meeting here.

He added the total amount budgeted for in the GST Council was Rs 55,000 crore for the full year.

“…Whereas we already have a shortfall of Rs 39,111 crore in four months. Even if you assume some improvement, probably it will end up as Rs 80,000 to 85,000 crore. Where will that money come from?

“The central government’s receipts have also sharply fallen from expectations. So states are worried what happens if Rs 80,000-85,000 crore becomes due from the central government as compensation,” Mitra said.

He attacked the government over the sharp decline in GST collections between September and October.

“September GST collections were Rs 95,131 crore whereas October collections plummeted by Rs 12,000 crore to Rs 83,346 crore. Rs 12,000 crore decline in one month has never been seen before. That concerns me deeply.

“The question on the table is what will happen next month and the following month. Among economists there is a feeling that this is not going to stabilize in a day or two,” Mitra said.

He added the main reason for this sharp decline was that small and medium enterprises were not able to file their returns.

He said under the “hastily-implemented” GST regime, the infrastructure was unprepared to handle the enormous number of returns and refund claims and hence manual systems had to introduced.

“It seems we have gone back a few steps even from the VAT era. In VAT era, we were completely digitised. Now we are still grappling with the fact that we have gone back to the manual.

“First by demonetisation, you kill the informal sector. Then you come to small and medium enterprises with this premature GST launch without homework. What you have done is that small and medium enterprises, which provide 40 per cent of GDP and 80 per cent of employment, are in a bad shape today,” Mitra said.

However, Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi defended the landmark indirect tax reform, saying the government was making all efforts to improve collections.

Expressing hope that revenue collections under GST will stabilise over the next few months, Modi said an exercise was going on to compare pre-GST and post-GST tax collection data to find out the cause of the shortfall and to identify any malpractices responsible for that.

He said 80-90 per cent of issues related to GST rates were resolved after the Guwahati GST Council Meet of last month.

“Now the big issue is how to improve compliance and make the IT network more user-friendly. Refund is also a big issue where problems exist and we are trying to solve those,” Modi said, adding the issue of input tax credit was also being worked out and complaints had reduced.

Drabu said the GST regime which we have arrived at was a result of decisions taken by the GST Council. “I take responsibility of every decision even if I don’t agree with them.

“Many of the errors in the current GST structure are our contributions. But while this transition may not be as glamorous as globalisation and liberalisation, it is the biggest move towards formalisation of economy,” he said.

Acknowledging problems faced by small and medium enterprises, Drabu said larger companies were not buying from small businesses due to lack of input tax credit and hence the composition scheme for small businesses should be adjusted to allow some input tax credit.

He also suggested abolishing the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) under GST. “MRP and GST regime don’t go together. We need to abolish the MRP and allow market forces to arrive at prices.”

IANS

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Supreme Court to pronounce order on Aadhaar mandatory linking tomorrow

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Aadhar Bill Supreme Court

New Delhi, Dec 14: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its interim order for Friday on a batch of pleas seeking a stay on the government’s decision of mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various welfare schemes, as the Centre extended the deadline up to 31 March next year.

 

SC on Friday will pronounce its order on a batch of petitions seeking stay of various Central and state government notifications mandating the linking of Aadhaar with various schemes including taking exam by the students, availing scholarship, cremation and treatment of HIV positive patients.

The government has already issued 139 notifications mandating the linking of Unique identification Number with various schemes including MNREGA, old age pension scheme, provident fund and Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana.

Reserving the order after the hearing spread over three and half hours on Thursday, the five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the regular hearing on the batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar being violative of right to privacy would commence on January 10, 2018.

The court indicated that it will address the government plea for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with the opening of new bank accounts in its order to be pronounced on Friday.

As Attorney General K.K.Venugopal insisted that linking of Aadhaar with the opening of new banks accounts should be allowed, the counsel for petitioners said that if in the last seven decades, the system of introduction by an existing account holder has worked, heavens would not fall if it continues for another three months.

The court is also likely to pass order extending February 6 deadline for the linking of mobile numbers with Aadhaar to March 31.

The government has already extended December 31 deadline on the linking Aadhaar with the existing bank accounts till March 31.

Read More: – Deadline to link Aadhaar with bank accounts extended till March 31

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NGT clarifies Amarnath cave shrine not a silent zone

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amarnath

New Delhi, Dec 14: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday issued a clarification saying that it did not declare the Amarnath cave shrine a silent zone and that silence has to be maintained only in front of the ice shivlingam (the idol).

Declaring the shrine a silent zone on Wednesday, the green court had barred bells, chants and religious offerings beyond the entry point, news agency IANS reported.

The directions by a bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, were aimed at avoiding avalanches, maintaining the pristine nature of the holy cave and the eco-sensitivity of the region.

The decision invited protests from Hindu groups who called the order a diktat. However, a detailed order is awaited.

NGT appointed a committee on November 15 to look at environment protection during the annual Amarnath Yatra, had sought the authorities to ensure that the directions come into force before January 18, the next date of hearing.

Considered one of the holiest shrines in Hindu mythology, the Amarnath shrine, situated in the Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir, is visited by lakhs of devotees during the pilgrimage season in the monsoon.

This year the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine witnessed more than 2.6 lakh pilgrims over 40 days between June 29 and August 7.

WeForNews 

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