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Pakistan seeks US support on implementation of Indus Waters Treaty with India

Islamabad: Pakistan has sought support of the US on the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) with India, as Secretary of State John Kerry called for an amicable settlement of the issue by New Delhi and Islamabad, media reported on Saturday.

The development came after Pakistan was irked by the World Bank pause in mediation to resolve differences over construction of two water projects by India.

The Express Tribune reported that Kerry made a phone call to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday night and discussed the row over the IWT implementation and the role of the World Bank (WB), which had brokered the treaty in 1960.

After Kerry’s call, US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale also met Dar in Islamabad at the Finance Ministry.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The back-to-back contacts highlight the importance of the water issue, which can potentially endanger regional stability if the situation slips out of control, according to sources at Finance Ministry.

“The US would like to see an amicable solution to this (water) issue,” a Finance Ministry statement quoted Kerry as saying.

Kerry told Dar that the WB president had informed him about Pakistan’s complaint against India on the IWT.

The water dispute has catapulted the US back into Pakistan’s economic picture.

The American civilian and military assistance to Pakistan has drastically come down in recent months and its implications on Pakistan’s fiscal situation have started emerging in the shape of a larger-than-anticipated budget deficit.

Independent analysts argue that Washington may not play an effective role in resolving the water dispute, as the Obama administration is preparing to hand over the White House to Donald Trump next month.

“Senator Dar indicated that the US support on the principles and legal position of Pakistan will be greatly appreciated,” stated the Finance Ministry.

Early this month, the WB had announced a pause in playing its legally binding role of mediator in the IWT implementation.

In October, Pakistan had approached the WB seeking appointment of the Chairman of Court of Arbitration to resolve a dispute over construction of two mega hydropower projects by India in violation of the IWT.

The Finance Minister told Kerry that the IWT was an international commitment and it was the WB’s responsibility to make sure India honoured the treaty and the water rights of hundreds of millions of Pakistani people were protected, said the finance ministry.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 13:03 IST

Demonetisation impact: Double-digit growth in India’s tax collection figures, says Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said that the impact of demonetisation is clearly visible with tax collection figures seeing double-digit growth.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTIFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

“The impact of demonetisation on tax revenue and collection is already visible. There has been a 26.2 percent increase in central indirect tax collection till November 30,” he said at a press conference here, adding till 19 December, direct tax collection increase has been to the extent of 14.4 percent against a growth rate of only 8.3 percent previous year.

Till 19 December, the net increase in direct taxes has been 13.6 percent after factoring in the refunds, he said.

“In the central indirect taxes there is an increase of 26.2 percent till 30 November. Excise duty is up by 43.5 percent, service tax by 25.7 percent and custom duties up by 5.6 percent,” Jaitley said.

“Notwithstanding the critics, it is a very significant increase in all indirect taxes till November 30,” he added.

Life insurance, tourism, petroleum consumption, flow of mutual fund investment have all increased during this period, the Finance Minister said.

Jaitley said demonetisation has brought a large part of money into the formal banking system which has increased the ability of the banks to lend.

On the liquidity situation in the markets, he said that a major part of the demonetised currency has been replaced with new notes and circulation of Rs 500 has increased.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 16:51 IST

PM likens Congress to Pakistan, says note ban will expose ‘kala dhan’ and ‘kala mann’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a scathing attack on opposition for stalling Parliament over demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged on Thursday that they were trying to “rescue the corrupt” like Pakistan gives cover fire to terrorists to cross border and said the note ban will expose the ‘kala dhan’ (black money) as well as ‘kale mann’ (ill-intentions) of many. “Many people say I had not taken account the consequences of this huge step. In fact, the only thing that I could not take into account was the brazenness with which many political parties and leaders will come to the rescue of the corrupt.But I am happy that this drive aimed at eliminating ‘kala dhan’ has exposed so many ‘kale mann’,” Modi said. The Prime Minister, who was on his first tour of his Lok Sabha constituency after Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were demonetized on November 8, was speaking at a function organised inside the Benares Hindu University campus.Charging the opposition parties, who have been attacking the government over demonetization, with “brazenly standing in support of the corrupt and the dishonest”, Modi compared their stalling of parliamentary proceedings during the latest session to “firing at the borders by Pakistan in a bid to provide cover to infiltrators”.
ALSO READ After PM Modi mocks Rahul’s ‘earthquake’, Congress VP says ‘answer me’He also hit back at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram, saying their argument that promoting cashless economy was futile due to poverty, illiteracy and electricity not reaching villages in the country “exposes” their own report card. Reacting to his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s assertion in the Parliament that a cashless economy was not feasible for the country where nearly 50% of people were poor, the Prime Minister said, “I wonder whether he was giving his own report card by admitting the dismal situation. After all, he has not just been the Prime Minister for two terms and a Finance Minister previously. Since the 1970s he has been holding key positions”.Taking on former Finance Minister Chidambaram over his assertion that online transactions could not find wide acceptance in India since nearly half of its villages were not even electrified, Modi said “whose faults is he pointing at. Did I uproot electric poles or snap cables in villages which had electricity”.
ALSO READ Manmohan Singh exposing his own misdeeds, says PM ModiHe also took potshots at Rahul Gandhi’s assertion that payments through cards, online transfers etc. would face hurdles in the country due to low literacy levels, saying, “I hope he does not say that I had indulged in some sort of black magic to make illiterate those who knew how to read and write. “He never thinks before he speaks and he may not have realized that he has admitted the failure of the long reign of his own party.”Calling himself “Kashi ka bachcha” (a child of Kashi), Modi said, “I am, nonetheless, delighted to see that the power of this holy land has made me work and forced detractors to admit, even if unwittingly, their failures”. Urging the people to have patience in the face of the inconveniences which have ensued demonetization, Modi said, making use of a metaphor, “The stench of a garbage heap becomes unbearable when a cleanliness drive starts. But if we persevere and remove every bit of filth, we can build a beautiful garden on the clean spot”.
ALSO READ Rahul Gandhi hits back at Modi, says mock me, but answer questionsReiterating the need to move towards a “cashless economy”, Modi said “once black money is eliminated from the system, it is essential to ensure that fresh black money is not generated. Net banking, mobile banking and payment through cards is the way forward”. Earlier, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stones for a cancer research centre and a super specialty hospital and stressed on the need for “not just health insurance but also health assurance wherein the poorest of the poor have access to the best possible treatment and medicines”.Modi, who also interacted with artistes performing a stage play “Chanakya”, hailed the political and economic thought of the ancient Indian strategist saying “so many ideas have come and gone but he remains as relevant as ever”. Offering words of appreciation for the ongoing “Rashtriya Sanskritik Mahotsav” (national cultural festival at BHU), Modi said, “Art must be a part of our life and artistes must get due respect since it is art alone that can prevent human beings from becoming like robots which have intelligence but no sensitivity.”The Prime Minister was speaking in the presence of Union Ministers Mahesh Sharma and Anupriya Patel.

Govt will impose limits on tax exemption for political parties, says Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: The central government plans to set a threshold criteria for political parties to enjoy tax exemptions to check money laundering by outfits that do not contest elections, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file imageFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file image

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file image

Jaitley said the revenue secretary has been asked to look into the issue in the wake of Election Commission’s recommendations
in this regard. Jaitley’s remarks at a Times Now event assume significance in the context of the Election Commission’s recommendations to the government to amend laws to bar tax exemption to parties that do not contest elections and win seats in Lok Sabha and Assembly polls and to ban anonymous donations above Rs 2,000 to political parties.

“I can point out one is invisible donation which Election Commission says is anonymous and the second is when political parties got exemptions. There are about 40/50/60 political parties which effectively contest elections in Centre and the states, (but) you have a large number of political parties which got registered not for contesting election but for availing tax exemption,” he said.

“Now this part is easier to tackle. I have already asked the revenue secretary to look into this and therefore we will have to put a threshold criteria so that we are able to eliminate those which are not real political parties but only for money conversion which have come in,” Jaitley said.

He said many political parties do not contest elections but only accept donations and convert money. “I have already told the Revenue Department to look at them and therefore some threshold criteria could be fixed and number of these could be eliminated,” Jaitley added.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 22:25 IST

Demonetistion: Sudden spurt in queues at bank branches as new deposit rules kick in

New Delhi – Unnerved by new set of guidelines announced by the RBI, people rushed to bank branches to deposit the now defunct Rs 500/1,000 notes in their accounts.

Many branches witnessed sudden surge of customers for deposits on Monday, a day before the new rules kick in.

The Reserve Bank on Monday imposed stiff restrictions on depositing more than Rs 5,000 in the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, mandating that it can be deposited only once per account till December 30, that too after explaining to bank officials the reasons for not having done that so far.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Stipulating that restrictive conditions will also apply on the cumulative deposit of such notes in a single account when it exceeds Rs 5,000, RBI said that defunct currency up to any amount can be deposited under the new black money amnesty scheme PMGKY.

Under PMGKY, black money holders can deposit unaccounted cash in account which will be subject to 50 per cent tax and 4-year interest free lock-in for the remaining 25 per cent of the amount.

The RBI said old notes in excess of Rs 5,000 into a bank account will be received for credit only once during the remaining period till December 30, 2016.

Even after 39 days after the demonetisation of old Rs 500/1,000 notes, banks are still struggling to manage long queues as cash starved customers throng branches to get valid currency notes.

To meet the demand, branches are resorting to cash rationing as they are getting less than their requirement from currency chests.

However, the situation seems slightly better at many ATMs with increased cash availability.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said everyday RBI is injecting a large amount of currency into the banking system as part of its remonetisation exercise.

“Significant amounts are going to be injected in next three weeks which are gradually bringing the pressure down. As more and more new currency comes into circulation, the recirculation itself in the banking system and ATMs will make more currency available,” Jaitley had said.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 08:49 IST

Cyclone Vardah: Oppn in RS demands special financial package for Tamil Nadu

New Delhi: Opposition Congress, Left and DMK on Wednesday sought immediate sanction a financial package to provide relief to cyclone ravaged Tamil Nadu, a demand which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said will be considered by the government.

Jaitley said the government shares the concerns over the devastation caused by cyclone Vardah in Chennai and surrounding districts. “It is serious crisis.”

While some advance preparation was done by moving the NDRF teams and deploying army columns, the Centre will do whatever is needed to provide relief, he said.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“I have heard the members. I will take into consideration their suggestions and the government will decide on relief after consultations with the concerned authorities,” he said.

Earlier, former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the Centre should immediately respond to Tamil Nadu government’s request for financial aid.

State government usually ask for more and central government gives less, he said adding the Centre must announce the package today itself.

Chidambaram said it should be ensured that ATMs and bank branches are replenished so people can draw their own money.

D Raja (CPI) said the cyclone has devastated many districts of Tamil Nadu including Chennai, leaving a number of people dead, uprooting thousands of trees, snapping telecommunication lines and plunging several cities into darkness.

The tragedy has been compounded by demonetisation, leaving no cash with the people to buy necessities, he said asking the government to reconsider its decision to junk old 1000 and 500 rupee notes.

Raja said the Centre should not delay in agreeing to provide Rs 1,000 crore sought from the National Disaster Fund.

Tiruchi Siva (DMK) said 24 persons have so far been reported killed in the cyclone. Because of demonetisation, there is no cash with the people, he said, adding “a litre of milk is being sold at Rs 200.”

He put commercial loses at Rs 8,000 crore and demanded that a central team be sent to assess the damage.

TK Rangarajan (CPM) and Subramanian Swamy (BJP) demanded that crisis management teams be sent to Tamil Nadu to access the damage.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 13:16 IST

Demonetisation: Who knew? Modi’s black money move kept a closely guarded secret

Prime Minister Narendra Modi handpicked a trusted bureaucrat, little known outside India’s financial circles, to spearhead a radical move to abolish 86 percent of the country’s cash overnight and take aim at the huge shadow economy.

Hasmukh Adhia, the bureaucrat, and five others privy to the plan were sworn to utmost secrecy, say sources with knowledge of the matter. They were supported by a young team of researchers working in two rooms at Modi’s New Delhi residence, as he plotted his boldest reform since coming to power in 2014.

When announced, the abolition of high-value banknotes of 500 and 1,000 rupees came as a bolt from the blue.

Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue secretary. Image courtesy PIBHasmukh Adhia, Revenue secretary. Image courtesy PIB

Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue secretary. Image courtesy PIB

The secrecy was aimed at outflanking those who might profit from prior knowledge, by pouring cash into gold, property and other assets and hide illicit wealth.

Previously unreported details of Modi’s handling of the so-called ‘demonetisation’ opens a window onto the hands-on role he played in implementing a key policy, and how he was willing to act quickly even when the risks were high.

While some advocates say the scrapping of the banknotes will bring more money into the banking system and raise tax revenues, millions of Indians are furious at having to queue for hours outside banks to exchange or deposit their old money.

Labourers have also been unpaid and produce has rotted in markets as cash stopped changing hands. Not enough replacement notes were printed in preparation for the upheaval, and it could take months for things to return to normal.

With India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, holding an election in early 2017 that could decide Modi’s chances of a second term in office, there is little time for the hoped-for benefits of his cash swap to outweigh short-term pain.

Modi has staked his reputation and popularity on the move.

“I have done all the research and, if it fails, then I am to blame,” Modi told a cabinet meeting on 8 November shortly before the move was announced, according to three ministers who attended.

Direct line to Modi

Overseeing the campaign, with support from the backroom team camped out at Modi’s sprawling bungalow in the capital, was Adhia, a top finance ministry official.

The 58-year-old served as principal secretary to Modi from 2003-06 when he was chief minister of Gujarat state, establishing a relationship of trust with his boss and introducing him to yoga.

Colleagues said he had a reputation for integrity and discretion.

Adhia was named revenue secretary in September 2015, reporting formally to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. In reality, he had a direct line to Modi and they would speak in their native Gujarati when they met to discuss issues in depth.

In the world’s largest democracy, the demonetisation was revolutionary: it called into question the state’s promise to ‘pay the bearer’ the face value on every banknote.

At a stroke, Modi scrapped money worth 15.4 trillion rupees ($220 billion), equal to 86 percent of cash in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The idea is backed by some economists, although the speed of its implementation is widely seen as radical.

“One is never ready for this kind of disruption – but it is a constructive disruption,” said Narendra Jadhav, a 31-year veteran and former chief economist of India’s central bank who now represents Modi’s party in the upper house of parliament.

Modi, in his TV address to the nation, cautioned that people could face temporary hardship as replacement 500 and 2,000 rupee notes were introduced. Calling for an act of collective sacrifice, he promised steps to soften the blow for the nine in 10 Indians who live in the cash economy.

Biggest, boldest step

Immediately after the address, Adhia sent a tweet: “This is the biggest and the boldest step by the Government for containing black money.”

The boast harked back to Modi’s election vow to recover black money from abroad that had resonated with voters fed up with the corruption scandals that plagued the last Congress government. Yet, in office, he struggled to keep his promise.

Over more than a year, Modi commissioned research from officials at the Finance Ministry, the central bank and think-tanks on how to advance his fight against black money, a close aide said.

He demanded answers to questions such as: How quickly India could print new banknotes; how to distribute them; would state banks benefit if they received a rush of new deposits; and who would gain from demonetisation?

The topics were broken up to prevent anyone from joining the dots and concluding that a cash swap was in the offing.

“We didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag,” said a senior official directly involved. “Had people got a whiff of the decision, the whole exercise would have been meaningless.”

Under Adhia’s oversight, the team of researchers assembled and modeled the findings in what was, for it, a theoretical exercise.

It was made up of young experts in data and financial analysis; some ran Modi’s social media accounts and a smartphone app that he used to solicit public feedback.

Yet, for all the planning, Modi and Adhia knew they could not foresee every eventuality, and were willing to move swiftly.

The announcement caused chaos, with huge queues forming at banks when they reopened after a short holiday.

New 2,000 rupee notes were hard to come by and barely any new 500 rupee notes had been printed. India’s 200,000 cash dispensers could not handle the new, smaller, notes and it would take weeks to reconfigure them.

Filling ATMs with the 8 trillion rupees ($117 billion) in new banknotes that the Finance Ministry reckons are needed to restore liquidity to the economy is even trickier.

In a best-case scenario, in which India’s four banknote presses churned out new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes designed to replace the abolished ones, it would take at least three months to hit that target.

Secrecy paramount

Secrecy was paramount, but clues had been left.

Back in April, analysts at State Bank of India said that demonetisation of large-denomination notes was possible.

The Reserve Bank of India, the central bank, also disclosed in May that it was making preparations for a new series of banknotes that were confirmed in August when it announced it had approved a design for a new 2,000 rupee note.

The printing presses had only just started turning when the media finally started to run with the story in late October.

“The plan was to introduce it around 18 November, but there was a clear sign that it could get leaked,” said one person with direct knowledge who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Some officials in the Finance Ministry had expressed doubts about scrapping high-value notes when the idea came up for discussion. They now feel resentment at the secrecy in which Adhia rammed through the plan on Modi’s orders.

They also say the plan was flawed because of a failure to ramp up printing of new notes ahead of time.

Other critics say the Adhia team fell prey to a form of ‘group think’ that ignored outside advice.

In the words of one former top official who has worked at the Finance Ministry and central bank: “They don’t know what’s happening in the real world.”

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 09:21 IST

Steps for cashless transactions desperate act to mislead: Congress

Thu, 8 Dec 2016-11:55pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Thursday termed the steps announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to promote cashless transactions as a “desperate attempt to mislead and confuse” the country.Party leader Anand Sharma charged the government with being discriminatory in announcing such measures and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologises for unleashing financial anarchy on the country. “What the finance minister has said today is a desperate act to mislead and confuse. In a country where less than 3 per cent use credit cards and debit cards, as per World Bank report only 11 per cent of Indians use cheque transactions.”How can you overnight transform India into a cashless society? I charge the government with being discriminatory and violative of the legal rights of the people. How can you say that you can do e-ticketing you will get compensation and those not having e-tickets will not get compensation in case of an accident,” he asked.Sharma said Jaitley understands law and should know the “illegality” of what he is saying.”You cannot discriminate. PM should apologise and atone for unleashing financial anarchy on the country,” he demanded.

Congress,TMC in ‘competitive obstructionism’ in Parliament: Arun Jaitley

Mon, 5 Dec 2016-08:25pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Parliament getting stalled over demonetization for the 13th consecutive day, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said that Congress and Trinamool Congress are indulging in “competitive obstructionism”.”It is now competitive obstructionism between the Congress and the Trinamool which is holding up the debate in Parliament,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post. The ongoing Winter session of Parliament has virtually been a washout with opposition Congress and Trinamool staging vociferous protest against demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8.Besides demonetization, Trinamool Congress has been targeting the government over presence of army at toll plazas in West Bengal. Congress and some other opposition parties have been demanding apology from Modi for his remarks against those criticising the demonetization move.

Demonetisation to have long-term benefits; disruption temporary: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Conceding that demonetisation may create a disruption in short-term, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the impact on the economy may be seen “for a quarter or so” but relative advantages are going to be much more in the long run.

“When you switch over, it creates disruption. I don’t see disruption lasting too long. You may see the impact for a quarter or so. Then when you look at next 12-15 quarters, it’s certainly going to benefit,” he said at the HT Leadership Summit in New Delhi.

Citing a few economic trends post demonetisation, the Minister said rabi sowing this season has been higher than last year, while auto sales were a mixed bag.

A file image of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

A file image of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

“Of course, you will have some disruption created because of the switchover, in the long run, advantages are going to be huge as far as the relative cost of disruption is concerned,”
Jaitley said.

He further said the Indian economy has been witnessing a high growth in the past two years and retained the tag of the fastest growing large economy in the world. This year too, India would probably remain the fastest growing economy, the Finance Minister added.

On GST, Jaitley said, its implementation cannot be delayed beyond 17 September next year due to constitutional compulsion.

“First of all, the constitution does not permit a delay in GST implementation. The notified GST on 16 September and the constitutional amendment itself says that the current indirect tax system can continue for one year, after which the GST has to come,” he said.

“So, if on 16 September, 2017, there is no GST, then there is no taxation in the country. So, you have a constitutional compulsion to have a Goods and Services Tax in place before September 16; otherwise, the country doesn’t run, and the tax is absolutely essential,” the FM added.

The government intends to implement the GST from 1 April, 2017, Jaitley said.

Jaitley further said that low-cost deposit due to demonetisation will increase and therefore the ability of banks to use that money suddenly improves for reasonable cost lending in various sectors like social, infrastructure, industry and trade.

“So, that boosts the economy. There could be another limb, that money which was not deposited, then goes to the credit of the RBI. And that money can be constructively used.

And of course the third limb, the immediate advantage that you will have of this money, that are even being deposited and which are liable for exemplary taxation,” he said. And the fourth limb, he said, base of taxation for

And the fourth limb, he said, the base of taxation for direct and indirect would expand. Noting that security printing of currency is a fairly complicated and time-consuming exercise, the Finance Minister said, replacement of large volumes of currency required calibrated move by the RBI otherwise it would lead to malpractices.

“If you suddenly release entire thing in one go then there would be market malpractices and therefore remonetisation process is not instantaneous but it would be spread over a couple of weeks,” he said.

Acknowledging that long queues were factored in during the decision-making process of demonetisation, the finance minister appreciated that people have cooperated immensely and
those standing in queues were disciplined.

“The country, by and large, has welcomed this decision,” he said, adding there will be a very significant amount of currency that will be released into the market by 30 December.

“One of the significant advantages of this would be you won’t have the same level of currency which existed on 8 November… the level of paper currency will shrink, you should not expect the same level of paper currency coming back and it would be lesser. The balance would be replaced by other modes credit, debit cards, e-wallets,” the FM said.

Emphasising that people are already moving towards digital transactions, he said out of 80 crore credit and debit cards, 45 crore cards are in active circulation.

Besides, there are 23 crore e-wallets that started less than one-and-a-half years ago, he added.

“Both in politics and media, you find difficult to digest these figures but the country is changing much faster than what we think,” Jaitley said.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 17:01 IST

ED proceedings against Karti: P Chidambaram objects in Madras HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday alleged in the Madras High Court that the Enforcement Directorate proceedings against his son Karti under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) had been launched to cause political embarrassment to him.He made his submissions in an affidavit before Justice B Rajendran who reserved orders on a petition filed by Karti challenging the summons issued by the ED seeking his appearance in connection with its money laundering probe in the Aircel-Maxis deal of the 2G scam. The judge reserved orders after hearing elaborate arguments by senior Supreme Court counsel Gopal Subramaniam on behalf of Karti Chidambaram and Anand Grover for ED. Chidambaram in his affidavit claimed that the ED lacked jurisdiction under the PMLA to proceed against his son and contended that CBI had not found any offence under any law in respect of FIPB approval over which his son was being probed.”No scheduled offence exists, proceeds of crime do not exist and thus the respondents (ED) absolutely lack jurisdiction under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 to proceed further,” he said.He further said, “I regret to submit that the proceedings initiated against the petitioner (Karti) have been undertaken in order to cause political embarrassment to me and besmirch myreputation and that of my family members.” In the petition filed on his behalf by his power of attorney N R R Arun Natarajan, Karti sought to quash the ED’s August 19 summons contending that it was motivated by malice in law.He said he had reasons to believe that there had been determined campaign to bring discredit and harm to the reputation of his father Chidambaram. ED’s probe against Karti pertains to firms identified as Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited and Chess Global Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, where he had been a Director, and a few others for alleged violations under PMLA. The ED had told the court that further probe relating to the FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal and related issues were subject of further investigation under the anti-money laundering laws.The agency had also told the court that further probe relating to Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal and related issues are subject of further investigation under anti-money laundering laws. Chidambaram, during whose tenure as Finance Minister in 2006 the FIPB approval was given, submitted that the approval matter was investigated by the CBI fully and the agency had submitted its status reports to the Supreme Court.He said CBI had recorded his statement in 2014 December and that of FIPB officials. “In their statements to the CBI, all the persons affirmed that the approval was granted by FIPB and recommended to the Finance Minister for his approval in accordance with the guidelines. The Finance Minister granted approval in the ordinary course of government business.”Chidambaram pointed out that the charge sheet in the Aircel-Maxis case was filed on August 28, 2014 and the statements in respect of the FIPB approval from the officials concerned were recorded thereafter in the course of further probe under CrPc. “It is thereafter that the status reports were filed in the Supreme Court. The CBI has not found or reported any offence under any law in respect of the said FIPB approval,” he submitted adding thus no offence was made out.

Opposition hits out at govt, calls passage of tax bill ‘undemocratic’, ‘dictatorial’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming as “black day” in Lok Sabha the passage of taxation bill amidst din without debate, opposition parties, on Tuesday, accused the government of being “undemocratic and dictatorial” and hinted at approaching the President on the issue.The government, however, blamed the opposition for not participating in the debate and said it was “tragic” that the Bill had to be passed in the din. It asserted that the measure had to be passed for the “welfare of the poor and country” and cannot wait for those who are unable to “digest” the action against black money and corruption. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said, “We want that Income Tax Amendment Act should come through the rules. The amendments proposed by the Opposition MPs and leaders should also be kept in mind before taking the assent from the President.”Revolutionary Socialist Party said that it is contemplating to take up the issue with President Pranab Mukherjee. “The government has been totally undemocratic, dictatorial, authoritarian in passing such an important bill without discussion amidst din. It has taken advantage of the superior numbers to avoid discussion. It is unfortunate that we did not get any relief from the Chair. “I had written to the Speaker (Lok Sabha) in the morning that this bill should not be allowed to be passed in the din. But what we apprehended happened. Inspite of all of our protest, this bill was passed. The very purpose of the bill was sort of defeated,” said Saugata Roy TMC MP.Amid din, a bill which seeks to tax money deposited in banks post demonetization was passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday within minutes without any debate. Amid fierce slogan shouting by the opposition, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Taxation Laws (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2016 was brought after it came to the government’s notice that some people were trying to illegally exchange the demonetized Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency note. Roy said that the government is “stubbornly” sticking to its stand that there will be no discussion but “we (opposition) are all together and we will continue to press for discussion” under a rule which entails voting. CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim said that it is a “black day” in the history of Lok Sabha and an “undeclared emergency”. It is not a fight against blackmoney but “rewarding” black money hoarders”, he alleged.”The way the government is treating Parliament and willingly or unwillingly the Chair is allowing this to happen, this will be written in the history as the black day in Parliament,” Salim said. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad dismissed the opposition’s charge. “It is written in the Constitution what is a money bill or not. Those bills which the Speaker certifies are considered money bill. “As far as my knowledge about law is concerned, amendments in relation to Income Tax is a money bill. Where is the scope for discussion on this?” he asked. He said the money which will come through the amendment in the Income Tax Act will be spend on villages, poor people, irrigation, roads and houses for poor.”If somebody has problems with that than I will ask them to read Mahatma Gandhi, Deendayal Upadhyay, Ram Manohar Lohia, then you will know what we dream of,” he said. Minister of State Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said that the unaccounted money that is coming into the bank will now be acknowledged in a legal way. “It is off course tragic that it had to be passed in the din. The opposition is not able to digest the fact that these measures against black money and corruption are so wildly popular and have had an impact,” he said adding that the government wanted discussions and “since the opposition did not want any discussion, they shouted”. He said that a lot of thought process has gone beind the bill.Union Minister Harsh Vardhan said that it is “unfortunate” that the Opposition did not participate in it. “It is a very important bill which has been formulated by the Prime Minister and and Finance Minister for the welfare of the poor. I believe this is a historic step where the black money is being utilized for welfare of poor and that too with their agreement. “What else will be a bigger consensus for the country. If opposition had participated, it would have been better. If the government is working for the welfare of the poor and country, then it cannot wait,” he said. N K Premachandran of RSP said that he was dissatisfied with the Speaker’s ruling because it is the right of the individual member to move amendments to any bill moved by the government. “The right of the members to move amendment is totally curtailed which is truly undemocratic, which is not heard in the history of parliamentary democratic system. If this is the system we are following, when the House is in big turmoil, we can pass any legislation.”GST bill can be passed, even Constitutional Amendment bill can be passed. This is an insult to parliamentary democratic system and it is weakening it which is quite unfortunate. This can never be agreed upon. “We are thinking of taking this matter to the President of India because the right of the member cannot be curtailed because of lack of time and that too when considering very important bill like this,” he said.

Would have resigned if PM insisted on demonetization: Former Finance Minister Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday said had he been the Finance Minister, he would have resigned from the post if the Prime Minister insisted on demonetization.”Had the Prime Minister told me ‘I have decided to declare as illegal tenders Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes’, my advice to him would have been not to do it. Don’t take the decision. “I would have given him facts and figures. But, had he still said ‘Sorry, this is my decision and I will do it’, let me tell you quite candidly, I would have resigned,” said the former Union finance minister. He was replying to a question at the Delhi Literature Festival on what would he have done had he been in Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s place.Attacking the government over demonetization, Chidambaram claimed that the move will not meet the objectives of curbing corruption, counterfeit currencies and black marketeering as spelt out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, he added that the “only short-term benefits” of it would result in people shifting towards digital transactions in the urban areas. Criticising the Centre, Chidambaram claimed that sufficient information on the ramifications of demonetization was not provided to the Prime Minister and added that even the Chief Economic Advisor was not aware of the move.He said when he held the office of the Finance Minister, it came to his knowledge that one of his predecessors had constituted a committee on demonetization, but did not name the predecessor or specify the period.Chidambaram has presented nine Union budgets. “The report of the CBDT was against demonetization. No one considered demonetization,” he said, adding that similar steps were taken in 1946 and again, in 1978 during Morarji Desai’s regime.Chidambaram said while the demonetization decision was taken in utmost secrecy, it would be wrong to assume that no one in the opposition could have been taken into confidence. “If you can’t consult the opposition, the government should have consulted its own former finance minister Yashwant Sinha. It should have asked former prime minister Manmohan Singh. A decision of this magnitude ought to be taken at least (in consultation) with Sinha and Singh,” he said.The Congress leader said although the Prime Minister has asked for 50 days for the situation to ease out, “putting the poor under this for 50 days is torture”. “If you take away the livelihood of the poor for 50 days…there is a dimension to every economic decision the government takes as well as ethical and political dimensions. “Some decisions may be inherently good, but if they are ethically or morally sad, then the governments oblige by not taking such decisions.”If you have taken a decision, which has virtually driven a large number of people to borrow money, then it’s completely unethical, immoral,” Chidambaram said. The Congress leader said merely opposing the government’s demonetisation decision did not make him or his party “supporters of black money”. He said somebody should have told the Prime Minister that you cannot withdraw 86 per cent of the currency notes (from circulation) overnight and not infuse the number of notes in a few days.”I don’t think the Prime Minister was told that the two high denomination notes accounted for 86 per cent of the cash in circulation. I don’t think he was told that you would be withdrawing 2,300 crore notes, but the capacity of the printing press is 300 crore per month and it will take seven months to match up to that figure,” said the former Union finance minister.

Can’t wait to hear your ‘scholarly’ arguments in Lok Sabha: BJP mocks Rahul Gandhi over demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi, BJP said the government is eager to hear his “scholarly” arguments on demonetization as it wants to know the Congress vice president’s stand on the issue of black money.Speaking to reporters, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also cited Congress’ poor show in by-poll results, which were announced yesterday, to attack its vice president.Taking a dig at the opposition parties’ protest in the morning, Prasad said instead of forming human chain outside the Parliament they should produce a “chain of speakers” inside and start a debate as the government has been ready for a discussion from the first day of the Winter Session.”The government is very keen to hear Rahul Gandhi’s scholarly arguments. Rajya Sabha witnessed a debate on November 17 and Congress leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma besides BSP’s Mayawati spoke. What happened now that they are running away from a debate. They realise that the country is not appreciating their arguments,” he said. Asking Gandhi to show pragmatism, Prasad said the Congress leader should consider where his party is heading under him. In the by-polls, Congress did not get enough votes in some seats to save its deposit, he said. Referring Gandhi’s demand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi be present in Parliament during the debate, he said as somebody coming from a family whose members have been in power for 50 years he should know how government is run.”At times it is good to be pragmatic,” the Law Minister said. People are with Modi on his demonetizationdecision, he said. Prasad said over Rs 7 lakh crores have been deposited in banks and it may lead to lower interest rates and other benefits to the masses. Opposition parties came together to protest against demonetizationoutside Parliament, with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi describing it as the world’s “biggest impromptu financial experiment” and said they are firm on their demand for a JPC probe into the “scam”. With a united opposition protesting and almost 200 MPs from various parties participating in the discussion, the Prime Minister should explain in Parliament why he took such a decision and why he “leaked” the decision to his industrialist friends and BJP leaders, he said.”What the PM has done is the biggest impromptu financial experiment in the world. He did not ask anyone. Finance Minister did not know. The Chief economic adviser did not know. This decision is not that of Finance Minister. This is the Prime Minister’s decision.”Prime Minister can give lectures to pop concert where ‘naach gaana’ is going on. 200 MPs are saying they want to tell the nation why he took this decision. PM does not want to come to Parliament. Why is PM afraid of going inside? He is obviously anxious about something,” Gandhi said.Opposition MPs including those of Congress, SP, BSP, TMC, DMK, CPI, CPI(M) among others were outside Parliament near Gandhi Statue protesting the demonetisation.”Our demand is that PM represents the country and he should come to Parliament and sit through the entire debate and hear us out and the other opposition leaders.”We feel there is a scam behind this decision. We feel he informed his own people before and the opposition is firm that it wants a JPC,” he said.Gandhi said a cent percent united opposition was standing outside Parliament and the entire opposition is united, over 200 MPs are standing and the Prime Minister should tell why he has taken this decision.He said all opposition parties, the Congress party and everybody is for fighting corruption and black money. “That’s the question. It is a question of complete centralisation of power. I have been saying that the country cannot be run in this manner.”You have hit the economy, which was running fine. But it is not running the way it was running during UPA, but it was somehow running. You have hit it hard,” he said.He added that the decision has hit the fishermen in Bengal and Kerala and other places, it has finished farmers, labourers. “Is there any suited-booted person standing in the line or any BJP MLA, MP in the line. Don’t they not need money,” he said attacking the government. He said Parliament should condole the death of people who died standing in queues outside banks and ATMs.”It is shame there is no time to condole the death of those who died in the queue. First day there was a condolence but these people’s names wre not mentioned.” Asked about Finance Minister M Arun Jaitley s comment that the Congress should make up its mind about whether or not BJP leadership knew of the decision in advance, Gandhi said, “Ahead of this decision, bank deposits surged drastically.BJP’s organization in Bengal and other states knew of it. FM did not know but the BJP organization knew. BJP’s industrialist friends knew.”Asked who is leading the protest, Rahul Gandhi said poor people’s voice is leading this protest and MPs are representing that voice.

Demonetization: Not an end, but beginning, says PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s voice cracked more than once at the BJP parliamentary party meeting, the first after he had announced demonetization, even as he reaffirmed his unwavering resolve to take forward the battle against black money.At a time when the Opposition had united to take on the government over the inconvenience faced by the common man over demonetization, the PM is understood to have said at the meeting on Tuesday morning, that he had won over the country’s support beyond his own expectations.According to sources, Modi had said that he had come to power “na apne liye, na apnon ke liye (neither for myself nor for my own)” but for the sake of the poor for whose welfare he would continue to work. Sources said that as the PM spoke, his voice choked with emotion.At the outset of the meeting, Modi dismissed the comparison between demonetization and surgical strikes saying that whatever others may say, the BJP must not equate the two, as these were two different issues. Speaking about the surgical strikes, the PM recalled the six to twelve-hour operation, where Army personnel had risked their lives crossing the LoC. “It was a mahaan (noble) exercise,” sources quoted the PM as saying.On the issue of demonetization, the PM said he had taken steps to correct a system which had seen increasing corruption over the past 70 years and “when changes are made in the system, there will be difficulties.”The PM also added that the poor had been suffering for 70 years because of corruption and black money and that the fight against corruption would not end with demonetization. “This is just the beginning of a deep and constant battle, not the end,” he said.At the meeting, the PM also adopted a two-page resolution hailing demonetization as “historic, revolutionary and pro-poor”. The resolution, which got a standing ovation, sought the support of party MPs to go to the people and explain issues like black money, fake currency and terror funding. The PM also underlined the fact that he was not worried about Opposition criticism; he said he had asked the people for 50 days and would assure them a “new India in the new year”.And in an answer to critics that stated that the move was too sudden, the PM also said that he had not hidden anything from the people of the country and that he had been talking of a cashless economy and cautioning of action after September, the deadline for disclosure of unaccounted wealth.Post the party meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley briefed party MPs, and this was telecast live by Doordarshan. Jaitley said the Prime Minister had created a “new normal” by “stopping the normal of the last 70 years”. He also described demonetization as a “historic decision which required courage”.The Prime Minister again stressed his personal commitment to demonetization and fighting corruption. Later in the day at a function commemorating party stalwart Kedarnath Sahni, Modi again touched on the subject of demonetization and made a veiled attack on opponents saying it was unfortunate that some people were speaking in favour of black money and corruption. He called for standing up against the “mindset of compromise” and said Sahni was an epitome of that.”Why should we a have to accept corruption & black money as things that are a part of system. We have to think about the future, no compromises,” he said at release of Kedarnath Sahni’s ‘Smriti Granth’.He added that there may be people who did not have the courage to fight corruption but those who “carry the flag of corruption” will not be forgiven by future generations. He went on to say that there should be a pre-condition of being untainted to those who remain in public life.The PM’s efforts however failed to pass muster with the Opposition, which has been engaged in a standoff with the government in Parliament. Senior Congress leaders said that it was high time that the PM stop selling dreams.”It’s high time for the PM to address concerns of the nation post-demonetization… By shedding crocodile tears, the PM cannot fool this country. Modiji needs to start dealing with governance. He should stop selling just dreams,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.Surjewala also regretted the fact that the Prime Minister and Finance Minister did not even know when the Rabi sowing season begins. “They are giving lectures today that the Rabi season is about to begin and so are giving relief to farmers to buy seeds and fertilisers. You must know Rabi season started 25 days ago… The sowing season is about to get over when you are relaxing money withdrawals by farmers from banks.””A country where the Prime Minister and Finance Minister do not even know when the wheat crop is grown, how will that country tackle this crisis and how will the agri-economy prosper,” Surjewala asked.

SBI Rs 7,000 cr loan ‘write off’ not a loan waiver: Arun Jaitley in RS

New Delhi: As a controversy arose over SBI reportedly writing off loans worth Rs 7,000 crore including that of Vijaya Mallya promoted Kingfisher Airlines, government and the bank on Wednesday maintained that there was no loan waiver and the liability on the borrowers still remains.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asked opposition members in the Rajya Sabha not to go by the literal meaning of write-off.

“So there is a little bit of malapropism involved in this. Don’t go by literal meaning write-off. Write-off does not mean loan waiver. Loan still remains. You still continue to pursue,” he said.

Vijay Mallya. AFPVijay Mallya. AFP

Vijay Mallya. AFP

He was intervening during a debate in the house on the government’s demonetisation action.

Jaitley was replying to CPM leader Sitaram Yechury who referred to a newspaper report which said SBI wrote off loans of wilful defaulters including Rs 1,200 crore of Kingfisher Airlines. However, the member did not take any names. Congress leader Anand Sharma had also raised the issue in his speech.

The minister said: “It (write-off) does not mean that the loan ceases to be a loan. We will still chase the loan. The entry in the book changes that is from being performing assets, it become a non-performing (asset).”

Without specifically referring to the Kingfisher case, the Finance Minister said, this loan was restructured when another government was in power.

“This is the only loan for which second restructure was wanted by that government. So, we inherited a terrible legacy. But only in the accounting book, the performing assets becomes non-performing that’s all. Otherwise the liability to pay and right to recover still remains,” he said.

SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya also sought to downplay reports of loan write-off of 63 wilful defaulters saying that they have been clubbed under a different head and efforts are on to recover loans from such defaulters.

SBI, the leader of the consortium of 17 banks, has taken physical possession of many properties including Goa’s plush Kingfisher Villa. The auction by the bank failed to attract any bidder.

“These are not write offs. They are old entries done over time. We have fully provided for these loans so they are put into an account called Accounts Under Collection. There is a very robust process for following up all these loans for recovery including monthly review by management and quarterly review by board,

“No let off of borrowers happened and all processes are focused for full recovery. The words “write off” are technical terms and used in the layman’s way of understanding these words is completely misleading,” she told PTI.

In July, SBI had expressed inability to divulge details of loans given to Vijay Mallya and his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines in response to an RTI query, holding that the matter is sub-judice and being looked into by investigating agencies.

As per the latest published quarterly numbers, SBI had written off loans worth Rs 6,060 crore at the end of September while it was Rs 4,613 crore at the end of the first quarter of the current financial year.

Collectively, the bank has written off Rs 10,673 crore in the first half of the current fiscal.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 19:13 IST

Watch: Rahul Gandhi says BJP knew about demonetization, then adds Jaitley was unaware

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “laughing” when 18-20 people died in queues outside banks and ATMs and termed the demonetisation of high currency notes as a decision sans rationale. “Nearly 18 to 20 people died in queues (outside banks/ ATMs) and PM Narendra Modi was laughing. He should clarify whether he was laughing or crying,” he said, in an apparent reference to Modi’s remarks in Japan and Goa.He also claimed that BJP people were alerted beforehand about the demonetisation. “How can one explain the BJP people in West Bengal depositing crores in high-denomination notes just before PM’s announcement on November 8?” Rahul asked. “BJP workers were seen holding up bundles of the new Rs 2000 notes, as seen from images on the Internet, before Modi announced this decision,” he told reporters in suburban Bandra tonight.”This move by the Modi government will turn out to be a big scam,” Rahul said.He also claimed that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was kept in the dark about the announcement.”I don’t think even Finance Minister knew about the demonetisation announcement,” Rahul said. “The PM took decision without thinking. We don’t want to reverse it, but at least resolve the difficulties people are facing,” he said.”Many economists say there is no rationale to this decision. They say it’s a decision based on political calculation,” he said. “The entire Opposition united against Modi government’s demonetisation move which has resulted in massive inconvenience for people,” Rahul said. “Go after the big players in black money. I don’t see that happening. We cannot let farmers and labourers stand in queues for months,” he said.Asked to comment on Modi’s mother standing in a bank queue, Rahul quipped: “Mine and Narendra Modi’s styles are different. I won’t speak about his mother.””The entire Opposition is united against Modi government’s demonetisation move which has resulted in massive inconvenience for people,” Rahul said.”We want the government to sort this out expeditiously. The rural population has borne the maximum brunt. What will happen to a farmer who might have saved cash for daughter’s marriage? Banking network is not very strong in remote areas. The transition should have been smooth,” he said. “The real black money players like Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi are out of the country. The big players are going scot free,” he said.”Go after the big players in black money. I don’t see that happening. We cannot let farmers and labourers stand in queues for months,” he said. Asked about his own visit to a bank to exchange old notes, Rahul said, “My sense was to be with the people in their hardship and be with them.” On Modi’s jibe at him and Congress that those involved in 2G spectrum scam were now standing in queue to exchange Rs 4,000, Rahul said, “Modiji is always attacking me. Those waiting in line outside banks are poor, small traders, government employees. Are they thieves?” “Some planning should have been there. What to do when crores of people line up outside banks to withdraw cash and new 2,000 rupee notes don’t fit into the ATMs,” he said.

Kerala will bear the biggest brunt of demonetisation: Cooperative banks gasping for breath

If there is a single state that is falling into a real financial crisis because of the current drive of demoneitsation, it’s Kerala.

The rest of India, despite the injuries, massive damages and impaired lives of millions of poor people, might limp back to normal later than sooner, but Kerala has a deeper problem: the cooperative banking system that holds more than RS 60,000 crore in deposits and has disbursed more than Rs 30,000 crore in loans has been paralysed because both the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Finance Ministry are suspicious of its dealings.

The cooperative banks, with different categories (state, district, primary etc) and hundreds of branches (at least 1,500) have been the lifeline of people in rural areas for decades, but with demonetisation, there is a literal freeze on their functioning because they are neither allowed to receive invalidated Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes from their customers nor receive fresh cash from the RBI in exchange of its own reserve to continue daily operations. Unlike in the case of nationalised and private banks, it’s not a question of long queues or hassles, but a total collapse: weddings, funerals, education and even daily survival are affected. Reportedly, some banks are left with only a few thousand rupees in valid currency.

The RBI had initially allowed the cooperative banks to take deposits in old currency after the announcement of demonetisation, but no exchange of old notes. However, after four days, the RBI withdrew the permission because of the suspected risk of counterfeit currency and black money being laundered. The justification for this move was that these banks could create pre-dated fixed deposits and their staff are not trained in detecting counterfeit notes.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Both the fears, which incidentally are also raised by some of the BJP leaders in the state, are genuine because unconfirmed reports showed that immediately after the announcement of demonetisation, many of these banks took large sums of old cash and registered them as pre-dated fixed deposits. Since most of these banks are not computerised, this is indeed a possibility. A senior economist in the state said that at least Rs 2,500 crore could have been laundered in this way. Actual figures notwithstanding, obviously that’s why the RBI asked them to stop. Although both the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Finance Minister Dr Thomas Issac personally travelled to Delhi and asked Arun Jaitely for help, the freeze wasn’t lifted. And it’s unlikely to happen.

The quantum of deposits in the cooperative banks has always been baffling because the 2012 credit survey showed a high level of indebtedness by people in rural areas. If the people in rural areas are in such debt, how can the banks, which serve the same areas, have so much in cash? Obviously, the inference is that the deposits are not by poor people, but by those with a lot of cash. Nobody, other than the banks, know the details of these deposits. No source of income is asked, no TDS filed, no PAN required and hence no reporting to the Income Tax Department. The interest that accrues from these accounts are also tax-free. Some, therefore call this the Swiss Banks of Kerala. There is certainly some merit in the argument that it’s a great mechanism for the rural moneybags to evade tax unless they come under the lens of the RBI.

Although the crisis is new, the suspicions are not. As early as 2008, there was a move to bring the cooperative banks under the purview of income tax. In 2013, an RBI money laundering probe found that cooperative banks, not just in Kerala, but across India, were involved in shady deals while in 2015, about 480 urban cooperative banks were under the RBI scanner for money laundering. In fact, in 2013, the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram himself had admitted that urban cooperative banks (UCB) were regularly used for money laundering. If the UCBs, which are governed by stricter RBI rules, can indulge in alleged illegality, the cooperative banks at lower levels can do much worse.

Instead of clearing the suspicions and allegations, the behaviour of the cooperative banks in Kerala has made them more suspicious. In 2009, a group of primary cooperative banks went to the Supreme Court when the the Income Tax Department asked them questions. Later, they, represented by political leaders met the then Finance Minister Pranab Kumar Mukherjee when
I-T Department issued notices asking them to file to returns.

What’s also unmissable in the impasse that both the cooperative banks and their customers face is politics. The cooperative bank system in most parts of Kerala is the lifeline of the CPM, especially in its strongholds such as Kannur. A lot of CPM family members are employed by these banks, hence the loudest protest is from the them. In fact, its leaders are livid and they accuse that this is a “neoliberal” ploy to destroy the age-old system and hand it over to the corporates.

As early as 2008, Sitaram Yechury, the present general secretary of CPM, was unequivocal that his party wouldn’t allow any I-T imposition on cooperative banks. In 2011, President of the State Co-operative Bank in Kerala M Mehaboob, a CPM leader, was more frontal, when he said: “We cannot allow the I-T department to examine the accounts in co-operative banks. The I-T department has been targeting state co-operative sector with a malicious intent.” He also said that the I-T move would “upset” its depositors and that more than 60 percent of deposits are from pensioners.

The Congress and its partner-parties are also minor beneficiaries and hence they also lend support to the CPM on the issue. They also have appealed to the Centre that the present crisis needs to be addressed immediately.

The party that’s trying to cash in during this unfortunate situation is the BJP because of two reasons – one, it has no foothold on the sector and two, it’s a potent proxy attack on the CPM. Their demands, if met, will simply destroy the system and break some of the financial muscle of the party. Unfortunately, in its eagerness to score political points, it’s insensitive to the visible anxiety of about 1.5 crore customers.

The apprehensions of the RBI and the Finance Ministry cannot be glossed over either. It’s indeed true that the cooperative banking system has been an integral life-partner for millions of people in rural Kerala and they were the pioneers of inclusive financing, decades ahead of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Jan Dhan scheme, with the first such bank being set up a 100 years ago. It’s indeed the common man’s friendly neighbourhood bank for their small savings, chit-funds, agricultural loans, microcredit etc. Their growth in the state is certainly an indicator of the failure of the scheduled banks in early years.

However, if the same system is misused for laundering money and tax-evasion, it has to be stopped. By blocking any legal scrutiny, the CPM is helping money launderers to use poor people as human-shield. It has to proactively join hands with the RBI in locating the bad money and protecting the poor, instead of fielding the poor in the frontline to protect the rich. Ultimately, rule of law is applicable to everyone. Under Indian law, cooperative banks cannot be run as “party villages”, particularly when the state government had mooted the grand idea of merging them all into a unique Kerala Bank.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 15:07 IST

No money to pay salaries of govt staff, says Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Andhra Pradesh is finding it hard to pay salaries to its staff despite a hike in its revenues in the first half of the fiscal year. The state recorded a 12.26% growth rate in the first quarter of the fiscal and is eyeing a 15% annual growth. “We have no money for salaries. We are already running on a huge overdraft,” Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu admitted last evening, bringing out ironies in the state’s economic story.The state’s revenue earnings rose to Rs 22,800 crore in the first half of 2016-17 financial year as against Rs 20,166 crore in corresponding period last year, a 13.05% increase. But what has become worrisome is the mounting revenue deficit which stood at Rs 6,641 crore during the first half of this fiscal. In fact, the government estimated an overall revenue deficit of Rs 4,868 crore in 2016-17, but increased spending has widened gap. “There is heavy pressure on government expenditure and adjustment of finances has become problematic,” Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said. While the state estimated its borrowings to be Rs 20,497 crore during the year, the government has already borrowed Rs 13,673 crore. “We have reached the fiscal deficit but we are somehow pulling the cart either by borrowing or through internal adjustments,” Yanamala pointed out.Asked about the jump in state’s revenues during the first half, the Finance Minister remarked “the situation is still worse”. Official sources, however, attribute the sorry state of affairs to “unmindful spending”.More than Rs 500 crore have been spent so far on the construction of the Government Transitional Headquarters (interim Secretariat) at Velagapudi and the expenditure is not complete.Over Rs 100 crore was spent on the Chief Minister’s offices and residences in Hyderabad and the capital region (including Vijayawada). Now, another sum of Rs 5.82 crore is being spent on”repairs, renovation, modification and refurbishment” of bunglow at 1, Janpath in New Delhi, that has been allotted to the AP Chief Minister.A private airline, in which actor and former Union minister K Chiranjeevi’s family has a stake, has been granted Rs 4.90 crore a few days ago as “viability gap funding” for operating flights on Vijayawada-Tirupati-Kadapa sector for a six-month period. “These figures appear small and are just an example. But when the government is virtually on a hand-to-mouth existence, such largesse will only add to the misery,” a senior bureaucrat remarked.The TDP government in the state has been desperately pleading with the Centre for over a year to relax the Fiscal Responsibility and Budgetary Management Act norms to increase the borrowing limit by at least 0.5%, if not 1%, from the current three per cent cap. An increase of 0.5% limit would enable the state to borrow an additional Rs 2,800 crore from the market, but the Centre turned down AP’s request given the bad state of its finances.Interestingly, the Centre granted neighbouring Telangana a 0.5% hike in its borrowing limit, much to the chagrin of the AP administration. Though the Centre has released large quantum of funds under different heads to the state, including construction of the capital city, but they were ostensibly not spent or rather diverted for other purposes.Hence, the state is in no position to press for more releases from the Centre, officials point out.

Tamil Nadu: Governor allocates portfolios held by Jayalalithaa to O Paneerselvam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Jayalalithaa continuing to remain in hospital since September 22, Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on Tuesday allocated the portfolios held by her to Finance Minister O Paneerselvam but said the AIADMK supremo will continue to be the Chief Minister.”Under Clause (3) of Article 166 of the Constitution of India, the Governor of Tamil Nadu allocated the subjects hitherto dealt by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to O Paneerselvam,” a Raj Bhavan press release said.Paneerselvam, who holds the Administrative reforms portfolio, in addition to Finance, “will also preside over cabinet meetings”, it said.”This arrangement has been made as per the advice of the Chief Minister and will continue until the Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa resumes her duties,” it said.”Jayalalithaa will continue to be the Chief Minister,” the release added.Jayalalithaa (68), was admitted to Apollo hospital on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration.on Tuesday, the hospital said she continued to be under treatment and was being constantly monitored by intensivists and other consultants in the expert panel, while respiratory support, antibiotics, nutrition, supportive therapy and passive physiotherapy were being given to her.Meanwhile, Opposition DMK welcomed Governor Rao allocating portfolios to Finance Minister O Panneerselvam, saying the move would augur well for the state’s administration.”As the Opposition Leader, I welcome this action taken by the Governor in the interest of the administrative welfare of the state,” DMK Treasurer M K Stalin said.He pointed out that the decision had been taken as per the advice of the Chief Minister herself and said Tamil Nadu was “surrounded’ by inter-state water rows like Cauvery and Mullaperiyar.While the Cauvery issue, involving Karnataka, was coming up before the Supreme Court on October 17, the North East Monsoon was due to set in soon and at such a time there has to be “a responsible cabinet to discuss such administrative issues”, he said in a statement.”Such a cabinet needs a head. Only then can decision on issues pertaining to the state’s welfare can be taken,” Stalin added.He recalled that DMK had earlier demanded that the government name an interim or Deputy Chief Minister to effectively handle issues like the Cauvery dispute, till the time Jayalalithaa returned and resumed work.

Kashmir unrest: Arun Jaitley appeals to youth in Valley to shun violence, blames Pakistan for instigating them

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday appealed to youth in turbulent Kashmir to shun violence and at the same time said security forces will have to act in self-defense if they are attacked.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. Youtube

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. Youtube

Stating that a political solution to the problem in Jammu and Kashmir will have to be fond soon within the Constitutional parameters, Jaitley said security forces need not use force if the protests are peaceful.

“But if they bring weapons, explosives (and) attack security forces… come in thousands and pelt stones on security forces, this constitutes an attack and security forces will have to act in self-defence,” he told Aaj Tak news channel.

At an event in Jammu on Sunday, Jaitley while acknowledging that the situation in Kashmir is “serious” asserted that there can be no compromise with those indulging in violence and described stone-pelters as “not satyagrahis but aggressors” who target police and security forces.

“I want to appeal to the youth of this country who have strayed on the wrong path, that they should leave the wrong path as they will otherwise be a loser in the end,” he said.

Jaitley also blamed Pakistan for not just training and funding terrorists but also for instigating the youth in Kashmir Valley.

“Security forces cannot lower their guard (against terrorists),” he said, adding, “Those who live by the gun, (will) perish (by the gun).”

On possible solution to the problem, he said separatists and terrorists will have to be isolated while needs of the common citizens in the Valley addressed compassionately.

“We have to take along the common citizen of Kashmir Valley. There cannot be any scope for any injustice to the public at large but at the same time there is also no room for any compassion for terrorists,” he said.

On talks with Pakistan, he said the present government as well as the previous ones were of the view that dialogue with the neighbour has to continue but the issues to be discussed will be decided by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Jaitley said armed separatists receive “weapons, training as well as funding from Pakistan with a view to destabilise the country… there is evidence to this effect.”

PM Modi’s call for dialogue on Kashmir unrest is ‘shooting from the hip’: Congress

New Delhi: Congress on Monday dismissed as “shooting from the hip” Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s call for a dialogue to find a lasting solution to the unrest in Kashmir Valley which is on the boil for 44 days.

PM Modi holding a meeting with a delegation from the Opposition in Kashmir. PTI

PM Modi holding a meeting with a delegation from the Opposition in Kashmir. PTI

“It looks that the Prime Minister’s words keep changing. What he said at the all-party meeting, his remarks in the Independence Day address and on Monday, he is talking of dialogue, but dialogue with whom?. There is a suspicion that these are mere words, mere empty rhetoric for the Prime Minister. He is unfortunately shooting from his hip and merely shooting the breeze,” party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters.

He said that it was not clear with whom the Prime Minister wants to have a dialogue. “When you talk of a dialogue, to talk to people who are estranged from you. You do not talk to such people who are with you and are part of the mainstream.”

Tewari said that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s assertion on Sunday that those indulging in stone-pelting in Kashmir are “not satyagrahis but aggressors” showed that he and the Prime Minister are not on the same page.

He also claimed that several Union ministers are also speaking in different voices. “The essence of the Finance Minister’s statement is that there is no political problem in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding that Jaitley’s comments implied that he felt there was no need for dialogue.

Asked whether Congress favoured talking to the Hurriyat, he suggested that the first learning of a spokesman was not to answer hypothetical questions. Noting that Congress is concerned over “irresponsible” handing of issues relating to national security, Tewari said that the party is willing to offer constructive suggestions if the governement approached it and have a “cohesive approach”.

He said that the Prime Minister has been using three words “insaniyat, jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat” for the past two years, but “we doubt if the Prime Minister understands the essence of these three concepts in entirety”.

“What does Kashmiriyat mean to the PM. How does he include it in his policies? Are there, indeed, any policies on these? What does he mean by jamhooriyat? Parties have been contesting election for decades in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. He also asked as to what is the Prime Minister’s definitaion of “insaniyat”. “Is insaniyat used as a balm for those harmed in this sensitive time?”

Kashmir unrest: Congress is not buying PM Modi’s ‘pain’ and ‘concern’; terms it ‘mere rhetoric’

Congress on Monday lashed out Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over their statements on the Kashmir unrest, saying that the central government does not have any coherent policy on the Kashmir issue and it is engaging mere rhetoric over the issue.

“We want to ask the Prime Minister: When he talks about insaniyat (humanity), what is the definition of insaniyat as understood by the Prime Minister of India?” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said at a press conference in New Delhi.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari. PTI

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari. PTI

“When the Prime Minister talks about Kashmiriyat, what does he mean? Is there any policy behind these words?” he further said. “The PM talks about engaging in dialogue. But with whom is he going to engage in dialogue? These words are mere rhetoric by the Prime Minister,” Tewari further said.

“Even after 45 days, the situation in Kashmir has not improved at all,” said the Congress spokesperson. “PM Modi has no coherent policy to deal with Kashmir,” he said, adding that the government also needed to decide on whether it wants to send an all-party delegation to Jammu and Kashmir, something which the Congress has been demanding since the second half of the Budget Session in the Parliament.

The party also took a dig at the Modi government’s stand on nationalism. “Those people who hide behind pseudo-nationalism are insecure about their past and clueless about the future,” Tewari said.

He also criticised Jaitley for his remarks on Kashmir. “The essence of the Finance Minister’s statement was that there is no political problem in Kashmir. According to him, it was only a problem regarding development,” he said.

Tewari’s remarks come after Jaitley on Sunday had blamed the Congress and National Conference for not bringing about any development to Jammu and Kashmir, which he said eventually led to this unrest.

“There will be no compromise on the security and integrity of the country and no compromise with the people who indulge in violence.

“Secondly, as Jammu and Kashmir has faced violence and wars, it needs development which was denied for past 60 years by National Conference and Congress governments. Thirdly, Jammu, being the support base of BJP, needs added attention,” Jaitley had said in Jammu.

Acknowledging that situation in Kashmir was “serious”, Jaitley had said that those indulging in stone-pelting in Kashmir are “not satyagrahis but aggressors” who target police and security forces but some people with limited vision cannot see this.

He had also lashed out at Pakistan for the current unrest, saying it was “attacking the integrity of India” in a “new way” after failing to snatch the state by waging wars and fuelling trouble ever since partition in 1947. “Now this time, a serious situation has emerged in which Pakistan, separatists and religious forces have joined hands and now with a new way, they are attacking the integrity of India,” he had said.

Even as political parties are busy blaming each other for the crisis in Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Monday expressed his “deep concern and pain” over the situation there. The Prime Minister had emphasised on the need for dialogue to find a “permanent and lasting solution” within the framework of the Constitution and had also asked all political parties to work together to find a solution to the problems in Jammu and Kashmir.

Making an appeal for restoration of normalcy in the Valley where the unrest entered the 45th day, Modi had emphasised that there has to be a dialogue.

An official statement issued after his 75-minute-long meeting with a joint opposition delegation led by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the Prime Minister appreciated the “constructive suggestions” made by them during the talks and reiterated his government’s commitment to the welfare of people.

The 20-member delegation comprising Omar and seven of his National Conference MLAs, Congress legislators led by PCC Chief GA Mir and CPI-M MLA MY Tarigami had called on the Prime Minister on Monday morning and had made an appeal for a political approach for resolving the crisis in the Valley and to ensure that the “mistakes” of the past are not repeated.

The Prime Minister had said, “those who lost their lives during recent disturbances are part of us, our nation; whether the lives lost are of our youth, security personnel or police, it distresses us.”

“Government and the nation stand with the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the Prime Minister had said and had suggested that all political parties should reach out to the people and convey the same. He expressed his commitment to the development of the state and its people, and appealed for restoration of normalcy in the state.

Kashmir has been witnessing unrest since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July and so far over 60 people have been killed.

With inputs from PTI

Those advocating the cause of Kashmir stone pelters are playing petty politics: Arun Jaitley

Jammu: Those advocating the cause of stone pelters in the Kashmir Valley are playing petty politics, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in Jammu on Sunday.

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

Addressing a public meeting in Samba district in memory of Premnath Dogra, the founder of the Jan Sangh, the forerunner of the BJP, in Jammu and Kashmir, Jaitley said people defending rioting and stone pelting in the Kashmir Valley have nothing on their mind except petty politics.

He said, “Some people outside talk of human rights in Kashmir. Have they ever visited the valley and seen those securitymen who have been injured while performing their duty?”

“When India became free in 1947, it was created for peace and development. Whereas Pakistan was created only to divide India,” Jaitley said.

“After getting badly defeated at three wars with India, Pakistan started a proxy war against us in 1990s. In 2008 and 2010, they gave the new face of stone pelting to their proxy war and that is what is happening in the valley this time also.”

The minister said militancy and stone pelting need to be dealt with firmly and no laxity should be shown in dealing with such situations.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh was also present on the occasion.

Kejriwal didn’t get rank in IIT, Sonia wanted Emergency in 2012: Subramanian Swamy makes explosive claims

Speaking in a press conference, Subramanian Swamy claimed that Arvind Kejriwal didn’t get a rank in IIT and that Sonia Gandhi had wanted to declare a state of Emergency in 2012. He told ANI: “Last row of RTI column shows that Kejriwal has no rank (IIT).He probably came through other methods-Subramanian Swamy. In 2012, Sonia Gandhi had decided to declare a state of emergency in the country by cooking up false Hindu terror charges.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also claimed that he wasn’t targeting Arun Jaitley and that the latter looked good in a suit. Swamy claimed that reports that the party were angry with him were false. He told ANI: “All such reports are false. I am addressing party meetings. These are rumours. If I want to target someone, I do it openly. In fact, Mr Jaitley looks very smart in a coat.”Earlier, Robert Vadra took a dig at Subramanian Swamy for his “derogatory” remarks about waiters and termed them “classist”, prompting the BJP MP to retort that he should concentrate on “staying out of jail” instead of making political comments. Vadra, who is Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, earlier in the day attacked Swamy over his apparent swipe at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in which he had said ministers who wear a coat and tie look like waiters and must be instructed to wear Indian clothes.In a Facebook post, Vadra said, “Undermining waiters who work hard for a living; making condescending and derogatory remarks about them is deplorable and classist”.Swamy soon hit back. “Mr Vadra should concentrate on staying out of jail instead of making political comments,” he told reporters.Asked about the reported unhappiness of the BJP leadership over his consistent tirade against Jaitley and his ministry’s officials, he said, “That is what your press is saying. I don’t know.””People giving me unasked for advice of discipline and restraint don’t realise that if I disregard discipline there would be a bloodbath,” he tweeted in an obvious attack on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Though he did not name Jaitley, he was obviously referring to the Minister urging him for restraint and discipline in the wake of his attacks on Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian on Wednesday and his use of the word discipline in defending Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das yesterday.In another apparent swipe at Jaitley, whose photographs of meeting with the Bank of China Chairman Tian Guoli in Beijing in a longue suit appeared in newspapers today, Swamy asked BJP to advise ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian cloths when abroad. “BJP should direct our Ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian clothes while abroad. In coat and tie they look like waiters,” Swamy said in another tweet. Swamy has been active on Twitter over the last two-three days, attacking officials of Finance Ministry and taking swipe at Jaitley.

Brexit: Nation needs economist like Manmohan Singh to steer through economic turmoil, says JD (U)

With Britain deciding to part ways from the European Union (EU), the Janata Dal (United) on Saturday said in the present global economic scenario, India needed economist like former prime minister Manmohan Singh to be at the helm.”In a way it’s good that India can now directly deal with Britain. Our military tie-ups are likely to improve. But even the EU had a lot of benefits. This move will have direct impact of over 800 India companies. Even our share bazaar was affected,” Ajay Alok told ANI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am hopeful that our Finance Minister and the Chief Economic advisor will use prudence. The country needed Manmohan Singh at this juncture,” he added.Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU) in a historic referendum, dealing the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since the World War II.World financial markets plunged as complete results showed a near 52-48 percent split for leaving. The vote created the biggest global financial shock since the 2008 economic crisis, this time with interest rates around the world already at or near zero, stripping policymakers of the means to fight it.Bilateral trade between India and the UK stood at $14 billion in 2015-16, marginally lower from $14.33 billion in 2014-15. Meanwhile the two-way trade between India and the EU has seen a bigger dip, from $98.5 billion in 2014-15 to $88.4 billion in 2015-16.

Swamy says demand for sacking CEA not on behalf of BJP; Cong dubs him PM’s ‘undeclared spokesman’

After the party and government distanced themselves from his attack on Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday said he was not speaking on behalf of the party on the issue and continued his attack on him.”I have never said I speak on behalf of BJP on AS (Arvind Subramanian), but as a nationalist shocked that a GoI (Government of India) person would urge US Cong to fix India,” Swamy tweeted. The tweet came hours after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley debunked his call for sacking Subramanian for allegedly anti- India stand when he was IMF economist in Washington prior to joining the Finance Ministry. Subramanian was appointed CEA by the BJP Government in October 2014.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To buttress his points about CEA taking anti-India stance, Swamy tweeted Subramanian’s article of 2013 titled ‘Is the Modi miracle overrated?’ He also tweeted a 2014 media report that said Subramanian as a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics had urged the US to initiate disputes against India before the WTO on drugs and pharma patents issue.Swamy had earlier in the day caused a flutter in the government when he sought Subramanian’s sacking in a series of tweets over his alleged anti-India stance. Jaitley had to spring to defence of the CEA saying the government had “full confidence” in Subramanian and value his advice. The BJP also had distanced itself from Swamy’s comments saying they were not party line but personal views.Congress today dubbed Subramanian Swamy as the “undeclared spokesman” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the BJP MP targeted Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian seeking his sacking and asked the PM to “clarify whether the charges levelled are false”.Party spokesman P L Punia told reporters that the Prime Minister himself should speak out on the issue as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s dismissing Swamy’s statement “mattered little” as the BJP MP has also been targeting Jaitley. “Since the issue involved a key official, the Prime Minister should himself clarify whether the charges levelled are false… Besides, the Prime Minister should specify the action being initiated against Swamy… The Prime Minister should act against either Swamy or the CEA as per the situation,” he said.The Congress spokesman insisted that Modi’s clarification is a must given the perception that the issues being “pursued” by Swamy have the “silent approval” of the Prime Minister. “Swamy acts like an undeclared spokesman of the Prime Minister. Whatever the Prime Minister wants to say against any official or opposition leader, he does it through Swamy,” Punia claimed.Congress’ chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala tweeted “Subramanian Swamy is the unofficial spokesperson of the PM; Modi uses him to ridicule his own party men and opposition.

Education and agriculture should go hand in hand: Jaitley as he lays foundation stone for IIM-Amritsar

Amritsar: Education and agriculture will have to go hand in hand for India’s development as has been the case in countries like Japan and South Korea, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday as he laid the foundation stone for a new campus of IIM-Amritsar.

This would be the own campus of IIM-Amritsar, the 15th Indian Institute of Management in the country, which has been so far operating from a temporary facility.

Jaitley said the government and private companies will have to join hands for taking the education sector forward in Punjab.

Stressing that 55 percent of people are engaged in agriculture, Jaitley pointed at rising unemployment in the farm sector which has forced people to look at other sectors for income and stressed on the need for good quality education.

He also said that the government’s efforts to develop the premier institute in Punjab will encourage more educational institutes to set up campuses in the state.

“Education and agriculture will have to go hand in hand as we have seen in other countries like Japan and South Korea… Government and private institutions both will have to contribute for development of education in India,” Jaitley said.

The Union Minister also highlighted the contribution of Narendra Modi government in bringing reputed institutions like the AIIMs and IIMs to Punjab.

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTIA file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

The new campus of IIM-Amritsar, which commenced its first batch last year out of a temporary facility, will be built on a 60-acre land in Manawala on the National Highway-1.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal also attended the event.

“In the coming years, IIM-Amritsar will become a premier educational institution,” Jaitley said.

In her address, Irani said that she hoped IIM-Amritsar will soon be among the top-five institutes of the country.

“I hope in Punjab, which is known for farmers, milk and agro processing, the IIM-Amritsar will have courses as per the state’s priorities,” Irani said.

Jaitley in his first Budget in July 2014 had announced setting up of five new IIMs in Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Maharashtra, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

Amritsar was chosen in Punjab for setting up the IIM. Jaitley had in 2014 unsuccessfully contested Lok Sabha election from Amritsar, where he lost to former Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh of Congress.

The IIM at Amritsar is reported to be the smallest among the IIMs in the country. Most of the 14 existing IIMs have 90 acres or more land for their campuses.

IIM Calcutta was the first IIM to be set up in November 1961 followed by ones at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Indore, Shillong, Rohtak, Ranchi, Raipur, Trichy, Kashipur, Udaipur and Visakhapatnam.

In the Union budget presented on 28 Feb, 2015, two more IIMs were announced at Jammu and Kashmir and Telangana.

Lessons from Raghuram Rajan’s exit: Stop painting RBI Governor as Superman

Raghuram Rajan has done the right thing. By opting out of seeking an extension as Reserve Bank Governor when his term expires in September, he has protected the institution from further politicisation. While RBI Governors, given their different briefs, have always had a degree of tension with the finance ministry, this time the exit of a Governor has resulted from a highly public, personalised attack on him by a BJP Member of Parliament, Subramanian Swamy. It was Swamy’s accusation that Rajan had “wrecked” the economy that made it difficult for him to stay with any sense of dignity, and he chose the right path: goodbye. In fact, Swamy made it difficult for the government to act either way: ask Rajan to go or stay. Rajan made the decision easier for the government, and for this, Arun Jaitley owes him one.

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan. PTI

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan. PTI

Unlike state governors, who play a quasi-political role and usually find themselves out of a job when the central government changes, RBI governors have so far been insulated from such abrupt ousters. But with Rajan, this changes. Future governors should take note. But contrary to what some commentators think, the relative independence of the governor will not change. That comes from the institution, and not the man occupying the chair.

Those who think this is the first time this has happened, some delving into history is useful. TCA Srinivasa-Raghavan, who edited some volumes of the RBI’s history, wrote in Business Standard last year that at least five governors were asked to go, including Osborne Smith in the pre-Independence era. Of the remaining four, two were on the Congress hit-list for apparently acting independently; the other two went when the Janata party defeated the Congress after the emergency in 1977 and when Chandra Shekhar was Prime Minister briefly after the VP Singh government fell in 1990. Yashwant Sinha, the interim Finance Minister, apparently sent Governor RN Malhotra a coded message that he could leave – and he did.

The point is that tension has always ruled between Mint Street and North Block, since one defends the value of the rupee and the other has a broader political role. But it is rare to see the tension boiling over to a point where the Governor had to go. But the message it clear: when it comes to an eyeball-to-eyeball, it is Mint Street which has to blink. Not surprising, since RBI governors are executive appointees.

It is, therefore, a pity — but not a catastrophe — that the fifth RBI governor to leave in unpleasant circumstances is one of the best occupiers of the office.

While the die has been cast, the only way the NDA government can make amends is by announcing a credible successor quickly and ensuring that there is continuity in monetary policy to calm down the market’s nerves. Unlike some scare-mongering in favour of Rajan, foreign investors do not enter or exit markets just because they love the central bank governor.

Three US Fed chairpersons — Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, and now Janet Yellen — have done more or less the same obvious thing (keep money cheap to keep the economy from tanking) but the US dollar has gone from strength to strength in spite of them. This shows that it is the broader comfort with the economy that matters. Uncle Sam is a safe haven for money. The value of the dollar does not depend on interest rates at all.

In India, the comfort is with Narendra Modi’s government and not merely Rajan’s stewardship of monetary policy. And this does not change even now. The important thing for Modi to do now is to not appoint a candidate who looks like a pygmy before Rajan’s qualifications. Rajan’s exit has piled on the pressure on the government, not the institution.

The second point worth noting is that RBI governors derive their powers from the office and not the government. The institution, including its stodgy bureaucracy, while slow to change, offers a protective “kavach” to any new governor. This is why even when governors are personally chosen by a government in the hope of creating a pliant moneyman, the former find the necessary spine to stand up to power. It is no surprise that many RBI governors come after a posting in the finance ministry – Bimal Jalan, YV Reddy, Duvvuri Subbarao, and Rajan among them. But not one of them did the wrong thing by the country.

The third point is interest rates and the efficacy of monetary policy. One can always argue whether interest rates should be higher or lower at any point of time, but governors do not have the luxury of hindsight to know if they are “ahead of the curve” or behind it on interest rates. For example, today, retail inflation is edging closer to the 6 percent mark, but industrial sluggishness also is not going away. So when Rajan says the GDP data are suspect, he should be cutting rates and not keeping them relatively high. But when you decide what to do in the given fog of real (or unreal) data, you can be right or wrong. Only history will let us know the truth. What does a governor do when the price data and the GDP data are in conflict? I doubt Rajan has a clear answer to that one. The only thing that can be said is that fiscal policy has more instruments at its command than monetary policy. Governments that want lower rates can ensure this in multiple ways.

While Subbarao was probably behind the curve at some points in confronting inflation, we know this only today, well after the 2008 crisis seems behind us and inflation spiralled out of control under Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram. While Mukherjee’s CEA Kaushik Basu wanted the previous governor to think “out-of-the-box” on rates, Chidambaram publicly expressed unhappiness over Subbarao’s refusal to cut rates in October 2012. Subbarao was right on both counts, but who will compliment him for this?

Is Janet Yellen ahead or behind the curve on the Fed rate? Are the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank right to flirt with negative interest rates? We don’t know today. It is the same with Rajan’s interest rate policy.

The best thing about Rajan was that he spoke a lot about what he was doing with monetary policy and why. The worst thing about Rajan was that he also spoke on matters unrelated to monetary policy, sometimes miffing politicians with his choice of words.

Outspokenness is usually not appreciated in central bank governors beyond the ambit of money policy. Perhaps this is one lesson all governors can learn. Rajan faced flak because he seemed to be playing to a world gallery, when the government was over-sensitive to domestic and international criticism after Modi came to power. Given the English media’s ambivalence — if not outright hostility — to the Modi government, Rajan unnecessarily gave the impression that he was not a fan of the government. The media’s decision to paint him as Superman did not help matters.

We lost a good governor in the process.

State finance ministers to meet this week to discuss model GST law

New Delhi: Amid hopes of long pending GST bill getting passed in Rajya Sabha in the next Parliament session, state finance ministers will deliberate on the model GST law at a two-day meeting in Kolkata beginning Tuesday.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will participate in the meeting of Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers and try to iron out differences over the new regime that will subsume all indirect taxes and create one national market under the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“The meeting on 14 and 15 June will discuss the model GST law, which will be adopted by the Centre and all states. Union Finance Minister will attend the meeting on 14 June,” an official said.

The Centre is planning to roll out the indirect tax from the next financial year beginning 1 April, 2017, but the GST bill has been pending in Rajya Sabha because of stiff opposition from the Congress party.

Once the Constitution Amendment Bill to roll out GST is passed by the Parliament, the Centre and states will have to adopt their own laws to give effect to the new indirect tax regime.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Central GST (CGST) will be framed based on the model GST law. The states will draft their own State GST (SGST) based on the draft model law with minor variations incorporating state-based exemptions.

Besides these two laws, the Centre and states will have to approve the integrated-GST law or iGST, which will deal with inter-state movement of goods.

The Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers is headed by West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who took over the chairmanship in February.

The government has proposed to take up the GST Constitution Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha in the forthcoming monsoon session of the Parliament.

The reform of the indirect taxation was initiated by the Kelkar Committee in 2003, following which the UPA government in 2006 proposed the GST Bill.

The GST Constitution Amendment Bill was passed by Lok Sabha in May last year and has been pending in the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA does not have the majority.

Judiciary intervenes only when executive fails in its constitutional duties: CJI

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur has said that judiciary intervenes only when the executive fails in its constitutional duties.”The courts only fulfill their constitutional duty and need would not arise if government do their job,” the CJI was quoted as saying in an interview to ETV News Network. Amidst the tug of war between the executive and the judiciary, the CJI has said that if there is neglect and failure on part of government agencies, judiciary will “definitely” play its role, the network said in a release.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We only fulfill our positional duties as laid down by the Constitution. If the governments do their job better, any need of interference would not arise,” Thakur said when asked about a recent statement by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley regarding alleged judicial interference in executive functions. The CJI also said “the government should do their job instead of hurling the accusations and the people turn to the courts only after they are let down by the executive.” Dealing with the huge vacancies in judiciary, Justice Thakur said “I have requested the Prime Minister on several occasions and am sending a report on the same issue to the Centre too.”

Tamil Nadu: At least 2 dead, 40 electrocuted after livewire falls on bus

A least two were killed and 40 others electrocuted after a livewire fell on a bus carrying students.According to reports, the incident took place on Sothuparai dam road on Sunday evening in Tamil Nadu’s Theni district.The injured students have been admitted to a hospital.According to The Hindu, the deceased were identified as B. Mukesh (15) and Karthik Selvan (18) of Achampathtu village in Madurai district.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Finance Minister O. Paneerselvam visited the hospital and monitored treatment being given to the injured persons.A total of 65 persons, mostly students and their relatives were on a summer tour, organised by an NGO at Achampathu village, the report said.

FM Jaitley to visit Japan to enhance bilateral economic ties and boost business cooperation

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will meet investors in Japan during a six-day visit to the country beginning Sunday, aiming to enhance the bilateral economic engagement between the two Asian partners and boost cooperation among businesses from India and Japan.

The importance of the visit is underlined by a series of significant meetings which are expected to set the pace for an intensified dialogue between businesses on both sides.

Among these engagements are the CEO’s Roundtable on 1 June with the chief executives of Japanese companies and the meeting on the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) which will involve interaction with banks, insurance companies, asset management companies looking to expand their presence in India as well as discussion with Japan Post and pension funds regarding long-term investment in India.

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTIA file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

On 1 June, Jaitley will address and interact with the Indian diapsora at ‘The India Club’ at Kobe. The Finance Minister is also slated to deliver a lecture at the Osaka University and attend an India investment promotion seminar on 2 June, being organised by CII.

The NIIF has been set up by the government in partnership with institutional investors from India and abroad to attract investments in commercially viable infrastructure projects in roads and highways, railways which has exciting plans to build dedicated freight corridors and logistics hubs, ports with the vast Indian coastline of over 7,000 km, renewable energy and smart cities.

The visit by the high-powered CEOs delegation accompanying Jaitley “comes at a time when India’s experience of strong economic growth, comfortable price situation, low current account deficit, and adherence to fiscal recovery path have projected her as an outpost of opportunity for global investors,” Ficci said.

The delegation will also attend a meeting with JETRO on the 30 May, visit DIET, the Japanese Parliament and participate in the NIKKEI Conference. Jaitley will deliver an address on “India’s Economic Performance; An Engine for Growth” as part of the overarching theme of ‘The Future of Asia’.

The delegation will comprise representatives from industry bodies Ficci and CII along with business heads from diversified sectors and senior government officials.

Assembly polls 2016 – Highest point for BJP: Arun Jaitley about party’s performance

“It’s an all time high for us” and the “highest point” for BJP, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday as the party stormed to power in Assam and saw a major jump in its vote share in Kerala and West Bengal.”Today this is the highest point in the history of BJP. We have a majority in the Lok Sabha on our own. Along with our partners, we have 15 state governments, which covers over 45 per cent of India’s population,” he said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jaitley said the geographical expansion of BJP in Kerala, after Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the South, and the 11% vote share in West Bengal were “important milestones”. “To be able to form a government in Assam with an overwhelming majority and to have governments in Arunachal and Meghalaya is a very important milestone,” he said.The Finance Minister also hit out at the Congress, saying the national party which hogged centrestage in the national polity until two years ago “today has state governments which cover about 7 to 8 per cent of India’s population.” “So the stark difference in the size of the two parties is – it’s an all-time high for us and an all-time low for them,” he said.With today’s poll results, he expressed the hope for early passage of GST Bill about which he was “reasonably optimistic”. “Today’s verdict is advantage GST. I think a setback to the obstructionists is certainly advantage GST,” he said when asked if this could see an early passage of the key tax reform legislation. Jaitley criticised Congress leaders for trying to “protect” and coming to the defence of Rahul Gandhi rather than giving local and rational reasons for the party’s debacle in these assembly polls. Coming down heavily on the family-led politics of Congress, he attacked it for not having a leadership and said this was not a situation created by the BJP. “We don’t have a choice in creating their leader. That is a trap that the Congress party has really set for itself.When a party transforms itself from a structured political party to a crowd around the family, then the inevitable consequences of that is that the family, because its strength and appeal is lacking, can become a liability for the party. “Without the family, the crowd itself would disintegrate and therefore it is for Congress party to decide whether they want to transform themselves into a structured political party or merely into a dynastic association,” he said.He added the Congress, after losing the 2014 elections, had to decide whether to behave like a national party of governance and mature itself or take the path of obstruction or fringe positions. Jaitley also hit out at the Left, saying it is a model which has been rejected globally and has presence in India in certain pockets including states like Tripura, Kerala and West Bengal and “faculties of Jadhavpur and Jawaharlal Nehru Universities”.When asked if Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar can emerge as the leader of an anti-BJP front in the future, Jaitley rejected the idea of a regional player anchoring a national-level alliance. “To have a coalition government at the Centre in federal polity, you need an anchor of an alliance who has a sufficiently large size and a national presence.”If anchor itself has 20 to 30 seats in Parliament, as has happened in the past, then such a coordination collapses sooner than later. A coalition without a reasonably large anchor is never possible in such a large democracy,” he said.

BJP Government ‘shrunk and sunk’ Indian economy: Congress on Jaitley’s GST remark

Responding to Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s remark that the BJP-led central government will put the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill to vote in the Rajya Sabha in Monsoon Session of Parliament with or without Congress, the grand old party on Sunday alleged that the BJP government has ‘shrunk and sunk’ the Indian economy adding that India is possibly facing the greatest amount of economic distress.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If you look at all the economic parameters, India is possibly facing the greatest amount of economic distress. There is no sentiment in the market; real estate has completely and absolutely collapsed. 33 percent of India is reeling under distress. There is no hope and aspiration among the younger people, there is no employment which is being created. Even the claims of brining the black money back and depositing at the rate of 15 lakh rupees within hundred days has proved to be an empty and rhetorical promise,” Congress leader Manish Tewari told ANI here.Tewari said that the Finance Minister should come out with a white paper on the Indian economy merely by fudging economic numbers.”If the Finance Minister wants to feel good about it, then it is his problem. But the fact is that the Indian economy is not growing at 7.6 percent by all account, by sentiments, by feel and by economic activity your doing closes to 4.5 to 5 percent and this is going to have huge consequences,” he added.Jaitley had yesterday said that the Government may seek voting on GST Constitution amendment bill in Rajya Sabha in the Monsoon session in case Congress continues to oppose the long-pending indirect tax law.”Only one political party, the Congress, and that is a political opposition. That is not an ideological opposition. I am trying my best to talk to them, so that they can come around. And if they don’t, then, we’ll have no option but to put it to vote,” Jaitley said to All India Radio.Jaitley said the bill will be put to vote in next Parliament session even if Congress continues to oppose it.The Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, which has been approved by Lok Sabha, is pending in Rajya Sabha because of stiff resistance by Congress, the largest party in the House.Government has been insisting that most of the parties, except Congress, are in favour of GST, which will bring about a uniform indirect taxation regime in the country.

For a ‘bigger, better’ Asian Development Bank, Arun Jaitley seeks capital ramp-up

Taking the line that capital increase of the Asian Development Bank cannot wait, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday hammered home the need for making the multi-lateral lender “bigger and better” to support growth in the region.The Asia-Pacific, he said, is trying to navigate its course amid shifting tides in the global economy and ADB’s ability to make valued, timely and effective contribution is on test.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I… hope that the winds of change sweeping the region will manifest in transforming ADB into a bigger and better bank,” Jaitley said while addressing the meeting of the board of governors of ADB.Resource limitation need not constrain operations of the bank, he said, adding that “capital increase to enable ADB to meet its objectives in the medium and long term cannot be delayed for too long”.Recalling his speech at the last annual meeting of ADB, the finance minister felt that ADB needs to become not just bigger, but better as a model among multilateral development banks (MDBs). He was of the view that much more needs to be achieved to transform ADB, acknowledging that various steps have already been taken.Jaitley made it a point to mention that India continues to maintain a high growth rate despite the global slowdown.”Our economy is projected to grow at 7.6 per cent in 2015-16 compared to 7.2 per cent in the previous year,” he added.The minister also referred to the government’s approach of ‘Reform to Transform’ through various structural reforms.”We have taken several initiatives to boost business climate and improve ease of doing business,” he said.Calling for reforms in processes of ADB, Jaitley said decline in disbursements under sovereign projects is a cause of concern and needs to be corrected although disbursements in 2015 showed an increase of 20 per cent over 2014.Jaitley cautioned that as a development bank with strong footprint in infrastructure, ADB’s focus on projects should not get diluted.”Business process reforms envisioned under the mid-term review of strategy 2020 need greater thrust and attention,” he said.Stating that India will continue to support ADB, Jaitley said India has increased its contribution to USD 40 million for Asian Development Fund (ADF) as part of the country’s commitment to foster development and poverty alleviation in poorest countries of the Asia-Pacific region.Strategy 2030 to guide ADB’s operations post 2020 should focus on making ADB an agent of change through its support for innovative projects, which would otherwise not happen through local intervention, Jaitley noted. He underlined the need for delegation and decentralisation to be closer to the client to enable quicker and effective response.”… steps have been taken for empowering resident missions into total solution providers. Creating well-equipped regional hubs at strategic locations can make a significant difference in our response time,” he said.

Stray incidents do not mean there is intolerance in India, says Jaitley

Washington: There could be “stray” incidents of people on either side of the political spectrum making irresponsible statements but this could not be generalised as prevalence of a climate of intolerance in the country, Union Minister Arun Jaitley has said.

The Finance Minister is currently on a week-long tour of the US primarily to attend the annual Spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Dubbing such incidents as “terrible”, the senior BJP leader, however, said that they are “rare” in a large country like India.

“There could be stray incidents of irresponsible statements by individuals on either side of the political spectrum, that does not mean that zamin per koi iss tarah ki activity hai (intolerance exists),” Jaitley said during a media roundtable with Indian reporters here.

“These are bad incidents. These are terrible incidents, but these are extremely rare in a large country. Historically stray incidents have taken place,” he said when his attention was drawn towards some of the specific such incidents.

Responding to a question on alleged prevalence of intolerance in the country, Jaitley described this as a creation of media.

“On the ground, my own understanding of the subject is, are there a lot of things happening that show this (intolerance)? The answer is no.

“There could be in a large country like India some incident or the other, which takes place one time, which could be considered highly improper and condemnable,” he said.

When asked if there is any introspection within the party, he said: “Actually neither in the party agenda nor on the ground there is any such activity wherein in a large country like India it (incidents of intolerance) is happening state after state.”

“A news channel can show same four people giving irresponsible statements and build a story around it. That seems to be more of what is happening.

“What gets projected is in a large body of politics there would always be three or four people who would react aggressively and disproportionally to events,” he observed.

“So loose comments, loose statements, improper statements, when the television camera confronts you, you say what you should not say, aise char, panch, chhe log hai (there are four, five, six such people), usko aap environment of intolerance kah do? (and you describe them as an environment of intolerance)?” the minister asked.

He also had the annual India US Economic and Financial Dialogue on Thursday and bilateral meetings with his counterparts from China, Luxembourg and Bangladesh.

Over the weekend, he would travel to New York to interact with the business community there and address a meeting at the United Nations.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to leave for United States on Wednesday for IMF-WB meet

New Delhi:  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will on Wednesday leave for the United States on an official visit during which he will attend the International Monetary Fund – World Bank meeting and hold sessions with institutional investors and pension funds.

“As part of the first leg of his US visit, the Finance Minister will arrive in Washington on 13 April and will address at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace ‘Steering India Towards Growth’,” a Finance Ministry statement said.

On 14 April, Jaitley has a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, which will be followed by the 6th Economic and Financial Partnership Dialogue between India and the US.

The Finance Minister will participate in BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) Board of Governors Meeting followed by the BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTIA file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

“The Finance Minister is also proposed to meet the Chinese Finance Minister in the evening,” the statement added.

On 15 April, Jaitley will participate in G-20 meetings and attend a special event to honor UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in nurturing World Bank-UN Partnership.

On 16 April, 2016, the Finance Minister will participate in International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) Governors meet followed by the IMFC Plenary Session and Development Committee Plenary meeting, among others.

In his second leg of US visit in New York, Jaitley will address the Asia Society Event ‘Make In India-The New Deal’ on 18 April. The Finance Minister will also hold meeting with long-term funds and pension funds.

On 19 April, he will address the Special Session of General Assembly of UN on the World Drugs. The Finance Minster is also proposed to participate in institutional investors meet on the same day.

The Finance Minister will return to the country on 21 April.

Panama Papers: Congress won’t protect anyone accountable, says Sandeep Dikshit

Responding to the statement made by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that the Congress ‘will not have many reasons to celebrate’ after the details into the Panama Papers comes out, Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit on Monday said that nobody is happy by the names that are coming out and if in future there are names coming out of the grand old party then it is not going to protect anybody.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Finance Minister must realise that nobody is happy by the names coming out. If in future there are names coming out of the Congress party then we are not going to protect anybody. Anybody who has broken the law must be countered and action must be taken against them whether the named that are coming out or who names have already come,” Dikshit told ANI here.Congress not celebrating
ALSO READ Panama Papers: Congress won’t ‘celebrate’ when details come out, says Arun Jaitley
He said that it is not a matter of celebration and the Finance Minister doesn’t really know what he is talking about. “Congress has not celebrated any names coming in. We are saddened by the fact that there may be industrialist, socially and politically prominent people who may have staunched their money abroad. In any way it is a matter of investigation. It is also being coming to notice that they are just keeping bank account abroad, it is not necessarily illegal we have to find out whether these are illegal accounts,”he added.Dikshit also said that the Finance Minister wants to make a political issue out of it.
ALSO READ Panama Papers lesson: If you have money tucked away it will be found”How does he know which are the names that are coming. How does he know that the Congress’ name will come? Why didn’t the government take any action regarding this? he asked.What Jaitley said Retaliating at the Congress Party who questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the Panama Papers expose, Jaitley had yesterday said that the ‘Congress will not have many reasons to celebrate’ when the details come out in this case.Answering to reporters on the impartiality on the probe of the global list of people with secret firms in tax havens, Jaitley said, “It is very impartial, and a multi-agency probe is going on. When the details will come out, Congress will not have many reasons to celebrate.”Asserting that the probe in the Panama Papers is being done in a ‘very impartial way’, Jaitley refuted the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) demand that he should ‘recuse’ himself from the matter.The Congress has demanded that the Panama Papers be handed over to Supreme Court, which is looking into the black money issue, alleging the BJP government’s decision to constitute a multi-agency group was a “shoddy attempt” to brush aside the issue. The Congress and AAP had sought to link sports promoter Lokesh Sharma, who figures in the Mossack Fonseca papers, with Jaitley. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had earlier questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘silence’ over the name of the son of BJP’s Chhattisgarh chief minister figuring in the Panama Papers case.

Panama Papers leak: Govt trying to brush aside expose, says Congress

Training guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the ‘Panama Papers’ issue, Congress on Monday rejected government’s decision to form a multi-agency group to monitor the expose as a “shoddy attempt and alleged it was “trying to brush aside the revelations”.Referring to a newspaper report about 500 Indians being named in leaked ‘Panama Papers’ for alleged offshore holdings, party communication department chief Randeep Surjewala said Modi’s “credibility is at stake” in this episode as names which came out include “some industrialist friends and travel companions of Modi and also those who have been brand ambassador of Modi government”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the party demands the investigation of the latest expose about these 500 names should also be referred to the division bench of Supreme Court. An apex court-monitored SIT is probing other black money cases of 1600 such accounts.”The question is why Modi government is shying away from having over the investigation of these cases to the SC- monitored SIT? Why Modi government is trying to brush it aside under carpet? It seems the government is trying to hide something. If not why is it avoiding handing over the matter to the same Supreme Court division bench? “The Prime Minister’s credibility is at stake with the latest expose.Some of the names that have come in public domain include some industrialist friends and travel companions of Modi and some of those who have been brand ambassador of Modi government,” he said.The Congress reaction came soon after the government announced that it will form a multi-agency group to monitor exposes in this regard and vowed to take action against all “unlawful” accounts held abroad.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Modi discussed the issue with him this morning and on his advice the group has been set up comprising agencies like CBDT, RBI and FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit). The decision came on a day the Indian Express carried a report based on leaked documents of a Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca which is said to feature links of over 500 Indians to firms and accounts in offshore tax havens.Those included are a well-known actor and his daughter- in-law, a leading real estate tycoon and a number of other industrialists and their family members, most of whom have denied any wrongdoing. Latching on to the issue, Surjewala said while the exposes on black money have been done by media time and again, the Modi government has “done nothing” to bring back black money in last two years, which was one of the principle and foremost poll promises of BJP.”We reject in toto the multi-department committee set up by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. This is a shoddy attempt this revelation about black money. We expect Prime Minister Modi and BJP will be fulfilling the test of credibility,” he said.

J&K govt formation: BJP-PDP alliance will take state to ‘newer heights’, says Amit Shah

BJP chief Amit Shah on Monday asserted that the party’s alliance government with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir will take the state to “newer heights”.”Congratulations to CM Mehbooba Mufti and Deputy CM Nirmal Singh. I am sure the BJP-PDP alliance will take state to newer heights,” he said in a tweet soon after the PDP leader took oath as the first woman chief minister of the state.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Finance Minister and senior party leader Arun Jaitley also congratulated Mehbooba. “Congratulations Mehbooba Mufti ji on being sworn in as the first woman Chief Minister of J&K. I wish the best to BJP-PDP govt in the state,” he said.

#PanamaPapers: Action will be taken against unlawful accounts abroad, says Jaitley

New Delhi: Government today declared that action will be taken against “unlawful” accounts held abroad by Indians and constituted a multi-agency group to continuously monitor information in the wake of Panama Papers that named 500 people including film actors and industrialists who have allegedly stashed money in offshore entities.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. ReutersFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the issue with him this morning and on his advise the group has been set up, which includes officials from CBDT, RBI and FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit).

“The multi-agency group will comprise various government agencies – the CBDT, FIU, FT&TR (Foreign Tax and Tax Research) and RBI. They will continuously monitor these (accounts) and whichever accounts are found to be unlawful, strict action as per existing laws will be taken,” he told reporters.

Jaitley comments came on a day the Indian Express carried a report based on leaked documents of a Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca which is said to feature links of over 500 Indians to offshore firms.

The newspaper claimed that the list included foundations and trusts and passport details of 234 Indians. Jaitley said after today’s revelations, more names may come out in the next few days.

“I welcome this investigation. I think it is a healthy step that these kind of exposes are being made. I have been repeatedly saying that the world is now going to increasingly become more transparent, countries are cooperating with each other and slowly all this information is going to come out as a result of various global initiatives which have been launched,” he said.

He said that Prime Minister has spoken to him in this regard and after his advice the government has constituted a multi-agency group to monitor the information and to collect further information in this regard.

The list has been released by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which added a disclaimer that there are also “legitimate uses for offshore companies”.

ITR Form: Experts call for more details on asset disclosure

New Delhi: People earning more than Rs 50 lakh will find it challenging to declare cost of inherited properties and gift items in the new Income Tax Return (ITR) Form for the Assessment Year 2016-17, say tax experts.

Representational image.Representational image.

Representational image.

The new ITR, notified by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) yesterday, requires people with high income to declare cost of land, building, jewellery, bullion, vehicles, yachts, boats and aircraft, in addition to cash in hand.

A new reporting column ‘Asset and Liability at the end of the year (Applicable in a case where total income exceeds Rs 50 lakh)’ has been introduced in the ITR.

While tax experts said the CBDT has done the right thing by notifying the ITR Form for Assessment Year 2016-17 in March itself, it has not yet come with the required instructions for determining the cost of immovable and movable assets.
Individuals are required to file their tax return for the previous financial year by July 31.

“Individuals are likely to face a challenge in determining cost for gifted assets (such as jewellery), inherited assets and for assets purchased several years earlier where records have not been retained,” said Tapati Ghose, Partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP.

A threshold limit for each category of asset for disclosure purposes would provide an administrative relief in case assets below a prescribed threshold are exempted from disclosure requirement, Ghosh said.

Amit Maheshwari, Partner, Ashok Maheshwary and Associates said last year there were lot of petitions as the tax department had notified the ITR closer to the last date of filing the returns.

“This time they have done the right thing by coming out with the new ITR at the beginning of the new financial year. I think people have enough time to file their returns,” he said.

Filing for the new forms begins with the onset of the new financial year today.

Global tax consultancy firm KPMG said that at this stage it appears that the disclosure required in the new ITR Form is to collate information and evaluate the income vis-à-vis the net wealth of an individual.

“We will have to wait as to how this data is utilised in the future i.e. whether any additional tax is levied on the personal wealth, especially when Wealth tax has been withdrawn in the recent past,” it said.

Experts also said new ITR Form will help in dealing with the menace of black money.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has already announced a scheme to enable black money holders to come clean by paying 30 per cent tax and 15 per cent penalty. For the purpose, government will provide a compliance window.

Last year he came out with similar scheme for flushing out black money stashed abroad.

Pay dues honourably or face coercive action: FM to Mallya

New Delhi: In a stern warning to wilful defaulters like Vijay Mallya, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said they should settle their dues honourably with the banks or else be ready to face “coercive action” by lenders and investigative agencies.

Vijay Mallya. AFPVijay Mallya. AFP

Vijay Mallya. AFP

“I don’t want to make any comments on individual cases but I think it’s a responsibility of large groups like his (Vijay Mallya‘s) to honourably settle their dues with the banks,” he told PTI in an interview here.

He further said that banks have certain collaterals of group companies of Vijay Mallya and will take legal action to recover dues that are in excess of Rs 9,000 crore.

“Banks have some securities. Banks plus other agencies have also coercive methods available with them through legal enforcement…these are all being investigated by relevant agencies,” he said.

Mallya, promoter of long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines, had left India on March 2, presumably for London, days before the Supreme Court heard a plea of clutch of state-owned banks seeking recovery from his group firms.

Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines owed Rs 7,800 crore to a consortium of 17 lenders led by State Bank, which had an exposure of over Rs 1,600 crore to the now defunct airline. Other banks that have exposure to the airline include Punjab National Bank and IDBI Bank (Rs 800 crore each), Bank of India (Rs 650 crore), Bank of Baroda (Rs 550 crore), Central Bank of India (Rs 410 crore).

UCO Bank has to recover Rs 320 crore, Corporation Bank (Rs 310 crore), State Bank of Mysore, (Rs 150 crore), Indian Overseas Bank (Rs 140 crore), Federal Bank (Rs 90 crore), Punjab & Sind Bank (Rs 60 crore) and Axis Bank (Rs 50 crore). The Finance Minister said the government has been trying to address the problem of NPAs in sectors such as steel, textile, highways and infrastructure, which are on account of economic slowdown.

“I think the NPA resolution process will now begin. The sectors which have caused distress… I have always said that there are two kinds of NPAs. One is because of economic environment, the losses in certain categories of industry. Now those areas we are trying to address,” he said.

Pay dues honourably or face coercive action: Finance Minister to Vijay Mallya

New Delhi: In a stern warning to willful defaulters like Vijay Mallya, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said they should settle their dues honourably with the banks or else be ready to face “coercive action” by lenders and investigative agencies.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

“I don’t want to make any comments on individual cases but I think it’s a responsibility of large groups like his (Vijay Mallya‘s) to honourably settle their dues with the banks,” he told PTI in an interview here.

He further said that banks have certain collaterals of group companies of Vijay Mallya and will take legal action to recover dues that are in excess of Rs 9,000 crore.

“Banks have some securities. Banks plus other agencies have also coercive methods available with them through legal enforcement…these are all being investigated by relevant agencies,” he said.

Mallya, promoter of long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines, had left India on 2 March, presumably for London, days before the Supreme Court heard a plea of clutch of state-owned banks seeking recovery from his group firms.

Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines owed Rs 7,800 crore to a consortium of 17 lenders led by State Bank, which had an exposure of over Rs 1,600 crore to the now defunct airline.

Other banks that have exposure to the airline include Punjab National Bank and IDBI Bank (Rs 800 crore each), Bank of India (Rs 650 crore), Bank of Baroda (Rs 550 crore), Central Bank of India (Rs 410 crore).

UCO Bank has to recover Rs 320 crore, Corporation Bank (Rs 310 crore), State Bank of Mysore, (Rs 150 crore), Indian Overseas Bank (Rs 140 crore), Federal Bank (Rs 90 crore), Punjab & Sind Bank (Rs 60 crore) and Axis Bank (Rs 50 crore).

The Finance Minister said the government has been trying to address the problem of NPAs in sectors such as steel, textile, highways and infrastructure, which are on account of economic slowdown.

“I think the NPA resolution process will now begin. The sectors which have caused distress… I have always said that there are two kinds of NPAs. One is because of economic environment, the losses in certain categories of industry. Now those areas we are trying to address,” he said.


150 people smear posters of PM Modi, Jaitley with ink, eggs; FIR registered

As many as 150 people have been booked in connection with smearing of black ink and throwing eggs at the posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Meerut during a demonstration by the businessmen and bullion traders four days ago.The FIR was registered on Sunday under sections 147 (rioting), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 505 (public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code in which traders’ leader Rajkumar Bharadwaj, General Secretary of Meerut Bullion Traders Association Survesh Kumar Saraf and three others have been named while 145 are unknown, police said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They said the process to identify others involved in the incident is on.According to police, on March 23 on the occasion of Holi, city-based businessmen and bullion traders had organised a demonstration during which protesters at Begumpul smeared the posters of the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister with ink and also threw eggs at them.The bullion traders association has, however, denied being involved in the smearing posters.”The Association has no link with the people who were involved in blackening the posters and throwing eggs at them.Police should take action against those involved in the incident and not against the innocent,” Saraf said.Meanwhile, Congress has also threatened to stage protest if cases against the businessmen were not withdrawn.

‘Fair and Lovely’ phrase is racist, says FM Arun Jaitley

Government on Monday hit back at Rahul Gandhi for his ‘Fair and Lovely’ jibe, saying it reflects a “racist mindset”, even as it sought support of Congress for passage of bills like GST and bankruptcy with a contention that India can grow faster in “absence of obstructionism”.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also responded to attack on the government over Vijay Mallya leaving the country amidst loan default, saying there was a “question” as to whether the “legal system” had acted as a “hurdle” in loan recovery and enabled the “escape” of the defaulter. Replying to a debate in Lok Sabha on the General Budget 2016-17, he also rejected demands for rollback of 1 per cent excise duty on jewellery saying it was in preparation for unveiling of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which hopefully will “come soon”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The House later passed the Appropriation Bill completing the first phase of the Budgetary exercise for 2016-17. While talking about black money, Jaitley referred to the ‘Fair and Lovely’ comment made by Gandhi while speaking in the House last week. Without naming the Congress Vice President, the Finance Minister said, “I have no problem with this phrase.. But this phrase is politically incorrect. It shows a racist mindset that what is not fair is not lovely.” He went on to add, “Worldover people frown on use of such a phrase. In any case I will pass it off as ignorance.” Gandhi had used the phrase while alleging that the government had brought the blackmoney disclosure scheme in the Budget to enable conversion of black money into white.Jaitley insisted that the government’s proposal was not an amnesty scheme, Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) or any concession, unlike the schemes brought by other governments earlier. Noting that the global environment was a challenging one, the Finance Minister said the country needs to rise above party lines to maintain the distinction of being the fastest growing large economy. “We compare ourselves with global standards, we are doing good. But if we compare ourselves with own standards we can do better in a more helpful global environment and domestically in absence of an obstructive environment,” he said.Seeking support of the Congress, he said “the country needs bankruptcy law. Hope the joint committee will soon give its report so that it gives the right of transfer the management. So that incompetent can exit, jobs are saved and more competent can take on the businesses”.

Parliamentary panel on land acquisition bill to meet on Monday

New Delhi: Days before the first half of Budget session comes to an end, a Parliamentary panel will sit on Monday to discuss the controversial land acquisition bill of 2015 through which the NDA government sought to make key alterations in UPA’s 2013 land law but later changed its mind.

The Joint Committee on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill 2015, headed by BJP MP SS Ahluwalia will take a view on the remaining clauses of the bill.

The government is hopeful that a consensus will emerge on all issues related to the bill. The committee has already been given at least five extensions.

In November last year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had hoped for “some consensus” on the legislation.

The panel had on 16 December decided to seek a fresh extension of its term till the beginning of the Budget session as only a few states had by then tendered their response to various clauses of the bill.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

At the panel’s meeting on 3 August last year, BJP had agreed to bring back the key provisions of UPA’s land law including the ones on consent clause and social impact assessment and drop controversial amendments brought by the Narendra Modi Government in December last year through an ordinance.

All the 11 BJP members on the Parliamentary panel had then moved amendments seeking to bring back social impact assesment and consent clause.

However, the committee could not take a view on three key provisions including the one on return of unutilised land to its owners after five years.

At the 10 August meeting last year, a sharp exchange of words had taken place between BJP and Congress members as the latter were opposed to any changes in the retrospective clause of the bill dealing with compensation of land acquired under the 1894 Act, which was replaced by the 2013 law passed by the UPA government.

The committee is likely to take a view on these remaining points besides taking up some new issues that might have cropped up.

The panel members have already been circulated the replies received from the state governments and Union Territory administrations besides various ministries and departments of the central government regarding land acquisition proceedings initiated under Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and the status of land acquisition proceedings that have lapsed or may lapse in terms of Section 24(2) of RFCTLARR, 2013.

The 10 August meeting last year was expected to evolve a consensus on the remaining three key provisions including the one on return of unutilised land to its owners after five years and the retrospective clause.

However, only the retrospective clause was taken up briefly during which the Congress members vociferiously opposed any change in provision 24 (2) of the UPA Act, which has been diluted in the NDA bill. Other issues like the provision on returning unutilised land and period of review could not be taken up.

The UPA law stated the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will continue to apply where an award has already been made. However, if such an award was made five years or more before the enactment of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013 and physical possession of land had not been taken or compensation not paid, the UPA law will apply.

The NDA bill prescribed that in calculating this time, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up due to a stay order of a court, or a period specified in the award of a Tribunal for taking possession, or any period where possession has been taken but compensation is lying deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted.

It basically amended Section 24(2) to exclude time spent under litigation where a stay order has been passed.

The issue of section 24(2) was widely debated at the meeting of the panel on 27 July last year as well.

The government had then told the meeting that states like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, besides Chandigarh objected to section 24(2) of the Act and wanted it modified.

Facing stiff resistance from opposition parties, NDA constituents, RSS affiliates and farmers’ organisations, the government had finally decided in August last year not to promulgate the controversial ordinance for the fourth time.

Giving up the ordinance route, the government had on August 28 issued a statutory order to include 13 central acts like National Highway and Railways acts to extend benefits to those whose land is acquired under the law.

The Land Acquisition Act, 2013 had exempted 13 acts from its purview with the condition that they would be brought within the ambit of the act within one year. The NDA’s ordinance brought in December 2014 these 13 acts under the new land bill.

At the same it also also made significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act 2013 including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five categories — industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.

It had led to widespread protests from Opposition parties and farmers organization.

A number of Chief Ministers had, during a meeting of NITI Aayog last year, expressed the desire to enact separate land acquisition laws according to their needs, to which the Centre agreed.

The ordinance had lapsed on 31 August after the government decided against repromulgating it for the fourth time. The way for a climbdown by the government was facilitated by BJP members moving amendments to bring back key provisions of UPA’s land law, including the consent clause and social impact assessment by dropping the changes brought in by the Modi government in December 2013 and subsequently revalidated by successive ordinances thrice.


Jaitley praises Aadhaar Bill, says Centre, states will save thousands of crores

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Friday passed the Aadhaar Bill, providing statutory backing to the unique identification number for transferring government subsidies and benefits, as a money bill after government overruled Opposition objections.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said thousands of crores of rupees would be saved by plugging leakages and diversions as he rejected Opposition’s demand for referring the Bill to a standing committee and their concerns of privacy as well as Aadhaar potentially being used for “mass surveillance” and “ethnic cleansing”.

Overruling Congress’ objections that the legislation has been turned into a money bill to avoid voting in the Rajya Sabha where the government does not have a majority, he said Aadhaar was a money bill in true definition.

Arun Jaitley. PTIArun Jaitley. PTI

Arun Jaitley. PTI

The Bill “will empower the states to distribute resources of the State to deserving people and save the resources that undeserving people get,” the minister said while replying to short debate on the Aadhaar (Target Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016′.

“The effect is going to be on the Centre and state governments which will save thousands of crore,” Jaitley said just before the measure was adopted by a voice vote.

Justifying bringing Aadhaar as a money bill, he said any measure which leads to money going into the Consolidated Fund of India and coming out of it, qualifies as money bill.

There are certain procedures which are followed for a money Bill, he said.

Earlier participating in the debate, BJD’s Tathagat Satpathy said there are fears that a government of the day may use the provisions of the bill for “mass surveillance” and “ethnic cleansing”.

When a BJP member countered him saying there are no different races in the country, Satpathy said there are at least four groups in the country and Indians can be divided on these lines.

He claimed that the United Nations had recently “misutilised” biometric data of refugees coming from Iraq and Syria to help certain countries keep tabs on them.

“More dangerous is collection of biological data,” he said opposing the Bill.

Members expressed concern over possible “invasion of privacy” if it in its current form becomes a law and sought that it be referred to a standing committee, a demand that found support in Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and AIADMK leader P Venugopal, with the former saying that they were not against it but there are “flaws”.

Rejecting Kharge’s criticism for making it a money bill, Jaitley said the legislation was “distinctly different” from the one tabled by the UPA and “the earlier we implement it, it will be better.”

Allaying fears that privacy would be breached, he said core bio-metric data cannot be shared with anyone. However, some data can be shared with the consent of the individual.

With regard to opposition suggestion regarding definition of national security, he said, it is for the courts to define what falls under national security.

Moving the bill for consideration and passage earlier, Jaitley said targeted subsidy through Aadhaar cards of LPG consumers had resulted in savings of over Rs 15,000 crore at the Centre. Four states which had started PDS delivery by a similar exercise on a pilot basis, had saved more than Rs 2,300 crore.

Last week, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had said the passage of the Bill would save Rs 20,000 crore by avoiding subsidies taken by the undeserving.

The Bill provides for statutory backing to Aadhaar scheme for transferring government subsidies and benefits.

It provides for “good governance, efficient, transparent and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services, the expenditure for which is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India, to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers to such individuals”, a summary of the bill said.

Giving statutory backing to Aadhaar will enable the use of the identification number for better targeting of subsidies.

Jaitley said discussion on the institution of Aadhaar has been going on for over seven years after the then UPA government approved a bill in September, 2010 and introduced in Parliament that December.

“Entire discussion in seven years has now culminated,” he said, noting that it was discussed in standing committee and extensive public suggestions were also received, as he stressed that the government had taken note of all this.

Citing differences between the earlier Bill tabled by UPA and the latest one, the Finance Minister said the earlier measure provided for establishment of an Authority and gave idea of unique identity but failed to define its purpose.

“Learning from that experience, we have improved upon the idea and the focus of the Bill is shifted,” he said.

The National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill, 2010 was introduced by the previous UPA government to provide statutory backing to the UIDAI.

The Finance Minister further said that till a few months ago, he himself was a beneficiary of LPG subsidy which he should not be entitled to.

So the Bill will help weed out undeserving beneficiary from government subsidy scheme.

“The purpose of the Bill is not for collateral purpose but to ensure that benefit of public revenue reach the targeted beneficiary,” he added.

He said 97 percent of adults have Aadhaar cards while 67 percent of minors have it as well. Five to seven lakh people are being added every day, he said.


Watch Arun Jaitley’s full speech in Rajya Sabha: From black money to Ishrat Jahan, FM hits back

Countering Opposition’s criticism over the compliance window to get black money from abroad, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said his government’s new black or untaxed money scheme announced in the Budget last week is not an amnesty scheme as it has a penalty.” ‘We have told people if any part of your income has not been assessed; pay 30 per cent tax on it and 50 per cent penalty. It is not an amnesty scheme it has a penalty,’ Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha. ‘This is not an amnesty scheme. So when you make comments on government’s policies to get black money from abroad or compliance window and I would say, please check your track record,’ he described. ‘We are fighting a global economic crisis. You have been in power for a longer period than us. We need a cooperation of all political parties,’ he added. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jaitley further said that the biggest share of profit from oil price reduction was passed on to the consumers. ‘The profit from import of oil prices after the reduction in prices was divided into three parts. The biggest share was passed on to the consumers, and I have accounts to prove it. A second share was passed on to the oil distribution companies, who have both public and private shareholders. ‘ he said.Watch the full speech below:

Will reach out to Congress over GST bill, says Arun Jaitley

Government will reach out to the Congress in the current session of Parliament to resolve the deadlock over the GST bill, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday. “As far as GST is concerned, every political party claims to be in favour of it. The Congress party had put some conditions. I think one condition still remains there. I will try to talk to them in the remaining of the Budget session of Parliament, and try to move ahead with the GST bill”, Jaitley said in a post budget Hackathon. Jaitley said the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) is the need of the hour and it has the capability to strengthen the Indian economy.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is simple, will help in expansion of revenue, states will get benefit out of it, business will have ease and it will facilitate seamless transfer of goods and services. “GST will help in making the whole country in one single market, it means one-sixth of world market is one market. You won’t get a bigger market than this elsewhere”, Jaitley said.

Budget 2016: More than half of Kashmiri migrant relief fund unused

More than half of the Rs 580 crore in funds allocated for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants remained unutilised during fiscal 2015-16.According to the Union Budget presented on Monday by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Rs 580 crore was allocated during 2015- 16 but as per revised estimates, only Rs 280 crore was provided, leaving Rs 300 crore unutilised.This year, a consolidated budget of Rs 849.12 crore has been allocated for “relief and rehabilitation of migrants and repatriates”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It covers reimbursement to Jammu and Kashmir government for Kashmiri migrants and border migrants, refugees from Sri Lanka, Tibet and former West and East Pakistan, relief and rehabilitation to North Eastern states ofTripura, Assam and Mizoram as well as enhanced compensation for 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims.The government had recently announced an additional Rs five lakh to about 3,325 victims of the 1984 riots.There are about 62,000 registered Kashmiri migrant families in the country which left Kashmir Valley due to the start of militancy/terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir in the early 1990s.

Watch: Hate speech not free speech, Congress giving ‘respectability’ to those wanting to break India- Arun Jaitley

With government under intense attack over JNU issue, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday trained his guns at Rahul Gandhi, suggesting that his visit to the campus in the aftermath of the controversial protest amounted to providing “respectability” to a movement whose charter was to break India.He also suggested in Rajya Sabha that Congress, jointly with Left parties, had jumped into the issue “without giving prior thought” in view of the upcoming assembly elections in West Bengal. Jaitley, a noted lawyer-turned-politician, defended the police entry into JNU, arguing that the campus was not a “sovereign territory” like some foreign embassy. Seeking to turn tables on Congress, he cited a Parliament Question of 1983 in which the then Indira Gandhi government had justified entry of police in JNU and arrest of 350 students, including 50 girls, after the Vice Chancellor was gheraoed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He contended that the developments of February 9 on JNU were “much more serious” as he read out the pamphlets carrying anti-India material which were circulated in the campus. “The core question is, are we going to give respectability to those whose primary ideology is that they want to break this country,” Jaitley said while intervening in the debate on ‘Situation arising out of recent incidents in institutions of higher education with reference to JNU and University of Hyderabad’.Referring to slogans which called for war for destruction of the country and lauded terrorists who had been convicted by the highest judiciary, Jaitley questioned: “Can hate speech be called free speech?” He noted that being a mainstream party, Congress does not have the history of supporting the “fringe”. Jaitley agreed with Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad that two Congress Prime Ministers had fallen to the terrorists’ bullets, a reference to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, and said “that precisely should have been the reason for you (Congress) to speak more vigorously against the offences in JNU. At least on this issue, we expected you to be with us.”Suggesting that Congress had done so in view of West Bengal polls, he quipped, “The tragedy of Bengal is that there are three Congress parties – the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and Congress Marxist.” Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien took objection to this, reminding that his party was separate since 1998. Jaitley asked opposition parties not to “camouflage” the offence at JNU, saying “its a very serious offence…One is jihadist, the other is maoist. Its an alliance of the two. You have been in power for long, you should have thought before making a visit to the JNU campus.” “Just because West Bengal elections is round the corner, should the Congress party take a stand that police should not take enter University campuses,” Jaitley said.In an apparent reference to Rahul’s visit to the JNU campus, the Finance Minister said that “some people think before they act but this was an incident in which Congress took their step first and thought about it later.”….Had you thought before (about visiting JNU), you would not have gone into this situation,” he said accusing the Congress of “indirectly or directly adding respect to a movement whose charter was to break this country.” He also answered questions by opposition over BJP tying up with PDP which had spoken in favour of Afzal.Both BJP and Congress had realised that they have to work with mainstream parties of Jammu and Kashmir to fight separatists, Jaitley said, while pointing out that both the parties have had alliance with NC as well as PDP at some point of time. He asked the Congress to take a clear stance on the matter, he said these are the issues on which all parties should speak the same language.Asking the opposition not to sidetrack the main issue, Jaitley condemned the violence in Patiala House but also reminded the House of the serious anti-Indian nature of the protest at JNU and also at the Jadavpur University.In remarks laced with sarcasm, he said, “Vandalism is condemnable, but sedition is free speech?” Jaitley also invoked B R Ambedkar, saying the maker of Constitution had warned of threats country faces from the inside.He said Ambedkar had also referred to people who wanted free speech to overthrow the state. Elements like maoists wanted to use provisions like free speech to overthrow the system of Parliamentary democracy because they don’t believe in it, he said. Jaitley also criticised former Finance Minister P Chidambaram without naming him, over his remarks in a write up that the case of Afzal Guru, who was hanged after being convicted in the terror strike on Parliament in 2001 “was perhaps not correctly decided”.Referring to some of the slogans, he asked whether the police could have remained a mute spectator to the incident. With regard to questions over slapping of sedition charge, he cited a Supreme Court verdict delivered during the Prime Ministership of Jawharlal Nehru when a Communist leader had been convicted for a speech made against the Congress party.At one point CPI leader D Raja asked what basis the government had for arresting JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, the Finance Minister said since the matter is sub-judice, he would not want to speak of the evidence against him. Earlier several parties, including Congress had criticised the government saying that it had punished someone for the crimes of the other.Jaitley also asserted that free flow of ideas in Indian Universities is safe in India and that BJP did not believe that only one ideology should prevail. He also emphasised that in case a student belonging to disadvantaged sections suffers mental disturbance, it needs to be addressed, comments made in response to opposition’s concerns in the aftermath of Rohith Vemula’s suicide.Jaitley also made a reference to the protests earlier held in University of Hyderabad saying that while Yakub Memon had been lauded, though a picture of Ambedkar had been used in the background.He also added that outsiders wearing masks had come to JNU when slogans against India were made.

AAP vs Jaitley: Delhi Court reserves order for February 23 on defamation plea

A Delhi court on Monday reserved its order for February 23 on a criminal defamation complaint filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders for allegedly defaming him in the DDCA controversy.Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen reserved the order after hearing arguments on the complaint filed by Jaitley in which he has alleged that Kejriwal and other AAP leaders had made defamatory statements that he and his family members had made pecuniary gains by associating with M/s 21st Century Media Pvt Ltd, a sports management company. Jaitley was also present in the court during the hearing.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Advocate Manoj Taneja, one of the lawyers representing Jaitley, said the court heard the arguments on the complaint, perused the annexures filed with it and the statements of complainant witnesses recorded in the matter.The court had earlier recorded statements of Jaitley and other complainant witnesses in the matter. On January 5, Jaitley had appeared in the court and said that Kejriwal and five AAP leaders had made “false and defamatory” statements. He had rejected the charge that he had syphoned out money from DDCA for his own benefit.During recording of his statement, Jaitley had claimed that Kejriwal and AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpai, had given statements even after the complaint was filed against them which had damaged his reputation. The Finance Minister had said that their statements against him and his family members lowered his dignity in the eyes of the public at large. He had also referred to the Twitter and Facebook posts of these six leaders.Jaitley had said Kejriwal’s statement that he received money when the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium was constructed during his tenure as the DDCA Chief, was false as the Board of Directors had constituted a committee to supervise the work and he was not a member of this supervisory committee. Jaitley had on December 21, 2015 filed the criminal defamation case against them for allegedly defaming him and sought their prosecution for offences that entail a punishment of upto two years in jail.

Arun Jaitley demands independent probe into attack on journalists in Shamli, UP

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday demanded an independent probe into the attack on journalists in Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh, calling it condemnable.

“Attack on journalists in Uttar Pradesh is condemnable. An independent probe into the incident should be carried out,” Information & Broadcasting and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted.

Two journalists of a leading English news channel were attacked allegedly by a local Samajwadi Party leader and MLA Nahid Hasan and his aides when they had gone to cover the incident in which a 8-year-old boy was killed in celebratory firing by party workers in Shamli district.

The boy, Sami, who was passing by Kairana area in a rickshaw was hit during the firing by SP workers on Sunday.

The workers were celebrating the victory of party candidate Nafisa in the local body polls from the town.

The UP unit of BJP alleged that the attack on media persons was a “planned” assault which indicated “anarchy” in the state.


Had no role in Manmohan Singh’s ouster from RBI: President Pranab Mukherjee in his new autobiography

Should Indian Prime Minister or Finance Minister meet industrialists individually? President Pranab Mukherjee has posed this question in his just released autobiography.He has answered the question himself by stating that his meetings with industrialists, individually or collectively, were very important. This, the President said, is what he had followed during his tenure as Finance Minister and Commerce Minister unlike V P Singh who was “adamant” about not having any one-on-one meetings with industrialists. Mentioning about the period between 1998 and 1991, which was marked by social and political turmoil in the country, Mukherjee cited differences in approach between him and V P Singh, who was appointed as Finance Minister under the Rajiv Gandhi government.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”For instance, as Finance Minister, he was adamant about not having any one-on-one meetings with industrialists. My view–which I followed during my tenures as the Finance and Commerce Ministers–was that meetings with industrialists, individually or collectively, were very important to get an overall understanding of specific contexts. “In other words, how can a Finance Minister or Prime Minister not meet industrialists?,” the President asked in the memoir–“The Turbulent Years- 1980-1996”.On much talked about differences between Manmohan Singh and him, Mukherjee said he had no role in Singh’s exit as RBI Governor. He, however, said the differences between him and central bank head were nothing more than legitimate exchanges of opinion over professional matters. “I never saw my differences with Dr Singh, on the rare occasions they occurred, as anything other than legitimate exchanges of opinion over professional matters.”Let me add that, contrary to conjecture in some quarters, I had absolutely no role in Dr Manmohan Singh’s departure from the RBI,” the President said. Mukherjee said the relationship between the Finance Minister and the Governor of RBI is complex and it is impossible that they be of one mind on all issues. Singh was RBI Governor between September 16, 1982 and January 14, 1985. Mukherjee was Finance Minister from January 1982 to December 1984. Mukherjee held the post of Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, from June 1991 to May 1996, the entire period of P V Narasimha Rao’s tenure as Prime Minister. “It was a period when several radical measures were being put in place to liberalise the economy. However, PV(Narasimha Rao) and I were both clear that the Planning Commission had to continue playing a pivotal role in policymaking and the allocation of resources between the Centre and the states,” he said.PV’s biggest achievement was spearheading the economic reforms of 1991. These reforms put our country on a high growth trajectory and helped towards achieving our true economic potential. The economic reforms programme unlocked India’s entrepreneurial potential across various sectors of the economy, Mukherjee said. In the financial sector, measures were implemented to bring capital adequacy and prudent norms for asset classification in banks, the licensing of new private banks, the gradual decontrol of foreign exchange, currency convertibility, privatisation and disinvestment. Foreign investment norms and external trade were liberalised.The President said Rao had a unique style of functioning.”The occupation of Hazratbal shrine in Jammu and Kashmir by terrorists was put to an end in 1993 without any damage to the holy structure,” he wrote. The President mentioned how he worked out a new “Gadgil-Mukherjee formula”, by working with Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission D R Gadgil, for non-special category states.”The uniqueness of the Gadgil-Mukherjee formula was the inclusion, for the first time, of a performance criterion for the allocation of central resources in plans. “This formula prevailed from 1991 till the establishment of the Niti Aayog–with Arvind Panagriya as Vice Chairman–which replaced the Planning Commission,” he said.

Stop being Narad Muni, start being Finance Minister: Congress advice to Arun Jaitley

“Stop being Narad Muni, start being Finance Minister,” was Congress’s advice to Arun Jaitley on Wednesday in response to his criticism that the party leadership and not the party was responsible for the parliamentary logjam.Accusing the Finance Minister of attempting to drive a wedge between the Congress and its leadership, party leader Jairam Ramesh said that this was being done as Jaitley has “lost complete command and control over the economic situation”.”Instead of being Finance Minister, Jaitley is being Narad Muni. He should stop being Narad Muni and start being Finance Minister,” he told reporters at the AICC briefing.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to legend, Narad Muni is a sage who used to travel distant worlds carrying tales from one side to another and often creating apparent tension when none exists.Insisting that there was no difference of opinion between the Congress party and its leadership, Ramesh remarked, “The Finance Minister is hallucinating that the Congress leadership and the Congress are two separate animals.” Besides, he claimed that the Finance Minister is “distracted and preoccupied” with fighting a battle to restore his credibility after the serious allegations made against him in the DDCA scandal.”Between a Prime Minister who is more focussed on a shameless personal PR campaign and an FM unable to give the requisite direction, the economy has been in a free fall,” he alleged.Ramesh’s attack came close on the heels of reports that Jaitley and some other top ministers at an awards function of an economic daily two days ago slammed the Congress’ ‘first family’ for the parliamentary logjam and hinted at adopting ‘alternative means’ to get key bills passed.Senior party spokesman Anand Sharma had yesterday rejected Jaitley’s criticism of the party for disruptions in Parliament, telling the government that there cannot be a constructive engagement with the main opposition party by “targeting, blaming and insulting” its leadership.Detailing “some worrying statistics” showing “disastrous” track record of the government, Ramesh said “growth is flat, exports are down, inflation is high, investment is down, industrial production at historic lows and this despite a revenue windfall caused by record low prices of crude oil”.Taking a dig at Modi, he said, “The rupee has, on his watch, fallen past the ages of the current Prime Minister and Finance Minister. At the rate at which it is going, we won’t be surprised if it crosses the ages of the veterans he has retired to the BJP’s Margdarshak Mandal.”