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P Chidambaram calls Current GST “Imperfect” and a “Mockery”




New Delhi, July 6 : Calling the GST law a “mockery” and inflationary with multiplicity of rates, the Congress party on Thursday demanded a cap of 18 per cent and inclusion of petroleum products, electricity and real estate in its ambit.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram agreed with BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, one of his predecessors in the North Block, that there was a threat of the GST unravelling if there is indiscipline on the part of states like Tamil Nadu, which slapped a 30 per cent entertainment tax over and above the agreed levy.

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, he said the nation was “underprepared” for the new indirect tax regime and added that the time of the roll-out should be been deferred by two months.

“The GST was envisaged as a single rate of tax on all goods and services that will replace practically all indirect taxes… A ‘single’ GST rate means a Standard rate as well as a Standard Plus rate (on demerit goods) and a Standard minus rate (on merit goods). Some goods and services will also be totally exempt,” Chidambaram said.

“This is the GST that the Congress party and the UPA government had visualised and which I had announced on 28-2-2006 as our goal. Mr Yashwant Sinha (Finance Minister in the Vajpayee government) has also confirmed that this was the GST we should have designed and implemented,” Chidambaram said.

He said what has been implemented, however, is a GST with seven, or possibly more, rates.

“It is a mockery of GST. When we have rates like 0.25, 3, 5, 12, 18, 28 and 40, and possibly more because of the discretion vested with states, how can we call this a ‘One Nation, One Tax’ regime,” he asked.

Chidambaam said “this is a very, very imperfect GST. This is not the GST we had envisaged and I had announced on February 28, 2006. Nor was it the one envisaged by Yashwant Sinha, who had chaired the Empowered Committee, nor Pranab Mukerjee, nor Manmohan Singh.”

“This is a very different animal,” he added.

The Congress leader said the Centre should have engaged the leaders of political parties to forge a consensus on three rates but failed to do so.

He said a Congress-led government would have certainly worked toward a single rate (with three variations). “Furthermore we would have capped GST at 18 per cent. That was eminently feasible,” he said adding the Chief Economic Adviser to this government had clearly recommended a GST rate of 15 per cent-15.5 per cent and demonstrated that it was a revenue neutral rate.

“If that report was correct, why did the government go in for rates like 28 per cent and 40 per cent,” he asked.

Chidambaram said the Congress was convinced that the administration businesses — especially small and medium businesses — were unprepared or underprepared for the roll-out of the GST.

The GSTN network should have been put through a trial run and the glitches removed. “The numerous requests for rationalisation of rates should be addressed. Businesses should be given time to familiarise themselves with the task of filing three returns every month. The special problems of multi-state businesses should have been resolved,” he said.

“The Congress party will watch the roll-out of GST closely. We will continue to articulate the fears and grievances of small and medium businesses, multi-state businesses and consumers. We will keep vigil over the possible misuse of the draconian powers given to the Anti-Profiteering Authority,” he said.

The former minister said the Congress party would highlight the elements of a true GST by holding meetings and conferences to emphasise that the Congress was the original proponent of the reform. “We will campaign for a true GST that was designed and advised by tax experts such as Dr Vijay Kelkar and Dr Parthasarathi Shome,” he said.

Replying to questions, Chidambarm said since 80 per cent of the goods and services will come under it, the GST will be inflationary. “We would certainly welcome any measure the government takes but it will be certainly inflationary in the short run,” he said.

Chidambaram rejected Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s reported statement that the prices have come down since 80 per cent of the goods and services have come under the GST. “I don’t know from where he got these figures.”

To a question on claims from government representatives that the GST would add two per cent to the country’s GDP, Chidambaram said the tax is one of the factors but the GDP is not dependent on one factor but several — like oil prices, exports and imports. “That would be a very naive assumption,” he said, adding there is no correlation between the GST and GDP.

“To suggest that GDP will go up by 2 per cent would be like saying demonetisation would solve all problems. Still the black money is there, fake notes are in circulation and corruption is existent,” he said, adding demonetisation is “God’s gift to India”.

Asked about statements from the government that the GST would eliminate corruption, Chidambaram noted sarcastically, “I think demonetisation has ended corruption. There is no corruption at all. What will it put an end to?”


Equity indices close in red on weak global cues




Mumbai, April 25: The key Indian equity indices on Wednesday provisionally closed in the negative territory following weak global cues, along with heavy selling pressure in the banking, consumer durables and capital goods stocks.

According to market observers, investors were cautious ahead of April derivatives expiry on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the wider Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange provisionally closed (at 3.30 p.m) at 10,570.55 points, down 43.80 points or 0.41 per cent from the previous close.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 34,593.17 points, closed at 34,501.27 points, down 115.37 points or 0.33 per cent.

The Sensex touched a high of 34,631.27 points and a low of 34,400.56 points during the day.

The BSE market breadth was bearish with 1,447 declines and 989 advances.

The major gainers on the BSE were Bharti Airtel, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M), Power Grid and Hindustan Unilever, while Tata Steel, ICICI Bank, ONGC, Tata Motors (DVR) and Axis Bank were among the major losers.

On the NSE, the top gainers were Bharti Airtel, TCS and M&M. The major losers were GAIL, Cipla and Hindalco.

On Tuesday, the indices closed with humble gains riding on broadly positive global markets, coupled with expectations of healthy quarterly corporate earnings.

The Nifty50 edged higher by 29.65 points or 0.28 per cent to close at 10,614.35 points, while the Sensex closed at 34,616.64 points, up 165.87 points or 0.48 per cent.


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61% Indian IT managers clueless how bandwidth is being consumed, claims Sophos



New Delhi, April 25: Around  57 percent Indian IT managers can’t identify network traffic while 61 percent don’t know how their bandwidth is consumed, a new report revealed on Wednesday.

The report claimed also the majority of Indian IT managers have legal liabilities when it comes to unidentified traffic at their workplaces.

As per British IT security firm, Sophos’ global survey titled “The Dirty Secrets of Network Firewalls,” 89 percent of Indian software heads opined that halting malware threats have become harder over the last year.

“While 94 percent agree that stopping ransomware should be a top priority in organisations, a lack of effective application visibility is a serious security concern for 90 percent of Indian businesses,” news agency IANS reported citing the report.

The survey was conducted on more than 2,700 IT decision makers across medium-sized businesses in 10 countries worldwide, including India, the US, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, the UK, Australia, Japan and South Africa.

“Controlling network traffic is an essential role of every firewall yet, 61 per cent IT managers can’t tell you how their bandwidth is being consumed,” said Sunil Sharma, Managing Director Sales at Sophos India & Saarc.

“If you can’t see everything on your network, you can’t ever be confident that your organisation is protected from threats. IT professionals have been ‘flying blind’ for too long and cybercriminals take advantage of this,” Sharma pointed.

About 79 percent of IT heads witness security risks from unwanted or unnecessary applications.

“While 72 percent want to see applications by risk levels through their organisation’s firewall, 60 percent concerned on productivity loss due to unwanted apps and 52 percent had legal liability or compliance concerns due to potentially illegal content,” it added.

The survey further said that 61 percent would like to see better perimeter security in their organisation’s network firewall along with better threat visibility and better protection.

“Ineffective firewalls are costing you time and money. On an average, organisations are spending 7 working days to remediate infected machines,” assreted Sharma.

With just a single network breach multiple computers can be harmed, so keeping this in the mind faster you can stop the infection from spreading the more you limit the damage and time needed to clean it up.

“Companies are looking for the kind of next-generation, integrated network and endpoint protection that can stop advanced threats and prevent an isolated incident from turning into a widespread outbreak,” Sharma informed.


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Equity indices close higher, RIL top gainer




Mumbai, April 24: Healthy buying in oil and gas, banking and auto stocks, coupled with broadly positive global cues, lifted the key Indian equity indices on Tuesday.

Index heavyweights like Reliance Industries (RIL), Yes Bank, Adani Ports, Mahindra, Larsen and Toubro were the top gainers on the BSE.

However, heavy selling pressure in metals, IT and consumer durables stocks trimmed some gains of the benchmark indices, market observers said.

The wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) rose by 34.05 points or 0.32 per cent to provisionally close (at 3.30 p.m.) at 10,618.75 points.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 34,491.38 points, closed at 34,616.64 points — up 165.87 points or 0.48 per cent from its previous session’s close.

The Sensex touched a high of 34,706.71 points and a low of 34,465.49 points during the intra-day trade.

In contrast, the BSE market breadth remained bearish with 1,479 declines and 1,191 advances.

On Monday, the equity indices closed a volatile trade session on a flat-to-positive note as healthy quarterly results drove investors’ sentiments.

The Nifty50 closed higher by 20.65 points or 0.20 per cent at 10,584.70 points, while the Sensex closed at 34,450.77 points — up 35.19 points or 0.10 per cent.


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