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GST has stabilised, opportunity for rationalisation: Arun Jaitley

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Arun Jaitley

New Delhi, Jan 27: Days after the GST collections picked up after falling for two straight months, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the GST structure had stabilised, which offered an opportunity to further rationalise tax rates and increase the tax base.

Ahead of the Union Budget announcement on February 1, the Minister also hinted at some relief for taxpayers as he made a case for rationalisation of direct tax structure considering the fact that “the tax base has expanded”.

“The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has brought about total change in the tax structure of indirect taxes within the country,” Jaitley said at the Investiture Ceremony and International Customs Day 2018 here.

“Compared with what has happened across the world, it has stabilised in a much shorter period in India,” he said.

Jaitley’s remarks come days after the central government announced that the GST collections had picked up after falling for two straight months and touched Rs 86,703 crore in December compared with Rs 80,808 crore in November.

Indicating further cuts in GST rates, Jaitley said this stabilisation of the GST structure offered the government an opportunity to increase its base and rationalise its structure as it continued to evolve.

The GST Council had, in its meeting on January 18, decided to slash the GST rate on 54 services and 29 items.

In its November 10 meeting, the council had removed 178 items from the highest 28 per cent category while cutting tax on all restaurants outside starred-hotels to 5 per cent.

The Finance Minister said: “In income tax, the base has become larger; it’s bound to enlarge. And, therefore, charging higher rates from few selected groups — which is traditionally been done — is an area which has been changing.”

Notably, the net direct tax collections witnessed an increase of 18.7 per cent till January 15 this fiscal compared with the corresponding period last year.

The Minister said the the role of the Customs Department was also evolving with the changing nature of the economy and the increased availaibility of technological tools.

“In customs also, tariffs have been rationalised. (Due to) the increased focus on ‘Make in India’, plus availability of a large number of goods and commodities within the country, the nature of Customs Department itself has changed.”

Jaitley said the Customs Department was facing the twin challenges of detection along with facilitation.

“The department has twin role to play. You ought to have a detection machinery in place so as to ensure that tax evasion does not take place. At the same time, you have to be a trade facilitator which makes entry into borders easy,” he said.

“It is in the larger interest of domestic economy to ensure that trade facilitation takes place.”
He said the department had to find a balance between the two seemingly contradictory roles.

Jaitly also urged the customs officials to bring greater efficiency in cross-border trade which could go a long way in improving India’s ‘ease of doing business’ ranking.

“Out of the 10 criteria that the World Bank follows, there are at least three — relating to municipal permissions of land and buildings, trading across borders and contract enforcement — which are not very difficult to satisfy. If we hit the bullseye on these three, then to come down to substantially below 100 (rank) is reasonably possible.

“And when it comes to trade across borders, the Customs Department has a very significant role to play,” he said.

IANS

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Mukesh Ambani world”s 7th richest, overtakes Warren Buffet

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos holds the first rank with a net worth of $186.8 billion, followed by Bill Gates in the second position with a net worth of $110.5 billion.

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Mukesh Ambani Picture

New Delhi, July 10 : Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani has become the seventh richest person in the world overtaking Warren Buffet, one of the most successful investors globally, according to the Forbes Real Time Billionaires Index.

As per the latest Forbes data, Ambani”s net worth rose $2 billion on Friday and currently stands at $70.1 billion.

His rise among the world”s richest individuals has been boosted by the recent continuous surge in the share price of Reliance Industries (RIL).

On Friday, RIL shares on the BSE hit a fresh all-time high of Rs 1,884.40. Following the surge in share prices, the oil-to-telecom major”s market capitalisation crossed Rs 11.90 lakh crore.

The shares have risen largely due to the investments coming into its technology and telecom arm Jio Platforms from global marquee investors. Jio Platforms has raised Rs 1.17 lakh crore so far in just over two months.

The net worth of Warren Buffet, who runs Berkshire Hathaway and is popularly known as the “Oracle of Omaha”, stands at $68.1 billion and is at the eight spot.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos holds the first rank with a net worth of $186.8 billion, followed by Bill Gates in the second position with a net worth of $110.5 billion.

Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires ranking tracks the daily ups and downs of the world”s richest people. Individuals whose fortunes are significantly tied to private companies will have their net worths updated once a day.

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Unholy nexus of BJP govt and MNCs stands exposed: Congress

“If on June 16, hand sanitisers were essential commodities up till 30th December, 2020; what changed in 15 days? Why does the government want the people to be charged high prices? Why no price limit on these essentials to fight Covid-19? Is the war on Covid over?” Surjewala questioned.

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Randeep Surjewala

New Delhi, July 10 : The Congress on Friday criticised the Narendra Modi government over its decision to remove face masks and hand sanitisers from the essential commodities list. It said that an “unholy nexus” between the BJP government and the MNCs stands exposed.

In a series of tweets, Congress national media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “Opportunity in Adversity said the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi). The unholy nexus of BJP government with MNCs/Companies of profiteering at the cost of people stands exposed. Government has removed face masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities. Now, masks/hand sanitisers can be sold at any MRP.”

He further said, “On June 16, the BJP government had said — As lockdown has been relaxed, demand for hand sanitisers may increase & it should continue to be covered under EC Act till Dec 31, 2020.. ”its continued availability is of paramount importance” & “to ensure its availability at affordable rates.” Surjewala also attached a copy of the June 16 order in his tweet.

“If on June 16, hand sanitisers were essential commodities up till 30th December, 2020; what changed in 15 days? Why does the government want the people to be charged high prices? Why no price limit on these essentials to fight Covid-19? Is the war on Covid over?” Surjewala questioned.

His remarks came after the government”s decision to remove hand sanitisers and face masks from the essential commodities list. On Friday, India recorded 26,502 cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours taking the total tally to 7,93,802 cases with 21,604 fatalities due to the pandemic.

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Closed Markaz, no foreigners dims hopes for Nizamuddin shopkeepers

In comparison to the adjoining Bhogal market, Nizamuddin market is primarily focused on the needs of the visitors to the Markaz. Now since the markaz has been closed, the usual flow of customers is missing.

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Nizamuddin Markaz

New Delhi, July 10 : A group of five men in white kurta pyjamas wait outside the Nizamuddin Markaz for the local policeman to arrive. After some anxious moments, the policeman arrives on a motorcycle with the building”s key. It is time for afternoon prayers and only five people are permitted to offer prayers inside the Markaz five times a day. As he unlocks the gate, the five men walk in to offer Zohar Namaz.

Khaleeq, who has his small shop, selling skull caps, beads and other religious items, exactly opposite the Markaz entrance, feels that with foreigners gone from the area, the market will have a hard time to pick up.

“With the uncertainty on when foreigners would be allowed in Markaz now, the business at Nizamuddin market is badly hit. Most of the shops here are based on the foreigners” needs and demands. With no foreign customers, we are facing heavy losses,” he said.

The worst affected are money exchange shops which were mostly dependent on foreigners” visit to Markaz.

Ahmed Uzair, a banker who resides in Nizamuddin, believes that the market might now pay the price of being too much dependent on foreign customers attending the jamaat at Nizamuddin Markaz.

“Many shopkeepers are vacating their shops as they are unable to pay the rent. Many have packed up and went to their native places as they see a bleak future of what was once a flourishing market,” Uzair said.

After de-containment of Nizamuddin, the barricades present at the main road leading to Nizamuddin Markaz has been removed now but there are little or no customers in the market.

In comparison to the adjoining Bhogal market, Nizamuddin market is primarily focused on the needs of the visitors to the Markaz. Now since the markaz has been closed, the usual flow of customers is missing.

“Not just foreigners but visitors from other states in India formed the backbone for the survival of this market. It”s facing a tough time now and it seems it will continue for some time,” said Shamshad Ahmed, another shopkeeper in the area.

The Markaz was closed since the lockdown and on the night of March 29, police and health authorities started bringing people out from the Markaz and sent them to hospitals and quarantine facilities.

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