All posts by webadmin

Jawan, militant killed; JeM hideout busted in Kashmir

SRINAGAR: A militant and a soldier were killed in a gunfight that erupted on Tuesday morning in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, while a militant hideout was busted in Pulwama district following another encounter.

Deputy inspector general of police SP Pani said the gunfight in Nowbug Kund area of Kulgam ended with the deaths of a soldier and a militant. A policeman was injured but stable.

The gunfight erupted after police, army’s Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF launched a cordon and search operation (CASO) in the area. “The firing stopped in Kulgam in the morning itself but we are still searching the area,” Pani said late in the evening.

Pani said the identity of the slain militant was being ascertained. “He seems to be a Hizbul Mujahideen operative but we can confirm his identity once his family identifies the body,” he said, suggesting that the militant was a local. Police control room, Kulgam, informed that the soldier belonged to 10 Sikh-LI regiment.

Meanwhile, the encounter between security forces and militants which started in Laan Tral area of Pulwama ended with the busting of a militant hideout.

“A huge hideout of Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit was busted in Tral,” Pani said.

The encounters in south Kashmir came after two local Hizbul militants were killed when they attacked a police checkpoint in Handwara on Monday night.

Body of jawan killed in mine blast reaches Mandi today


MANDI : The body of Assam Riffles jawan Inder Singh from the Pandoh area of Mandi district, who was killed in a landmine blast in Manipur on Monday, will reach home on Wednesday.

A pall of gloom descended on the town as the news of Inder’s death reached his family on Tuesday.

Inder’s maternal uncle Man Singh, a retired army personnel, said the Assam Riffles headquarters informed him his body will be brought to Pathankot from Imphal by air and then taken to Pandoh in an army vehicle.

Mandi Sadar sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Pooja Chauhan, who visited that Inder’s house, said he will be cremated with state honours on Wednesday.

Inder is survived by his wife, seven-year-old son and his widow mother.

Towards a good and simple tax by Mythili Bhusnurmath

There is need to take a break from tinkering with the GST rates. The focus, instead, should now be on the plumbing, ie on the processes and technology backbone — GSTN — even as we work to get the remaining sectors in the GST fold.

Towards a good and simple tax

Mythili Bhusnurmath

Senior consultant, National Council of Applied Economic Research Much  was expected from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meet in Guwahati early November. In the event, it exceeded all expectations. Contrary to reports in the run-up to the meet, of fireworks between Opposition state finance ministers and the ruling NDA, the council demonstrated, for the 23rd time (!), its ability, and willingness, to come together to find common ground on admittedly complex issues. The sweeping rationalisation (read reduction) of rates and simplification of procedures is, no doubt, the biggest takeaway from the Guwahati meet. Yes, it is true that frequent tinkering reflects poorly on the tax regime introduced less than six months ago. But what is notable is that, as in past council meetings, all decisions were taken unanimously in the true spirit of ‘cooperative federalism’. This is no mean feat in a country as diverse as India. Not only are issues and challenges very different across states, there is also very little in common even on basic items of consumption, making agreement on rates and exemptions a Herculean task. The oft-quoted example here is of how coconut oil is an item of everyday consumption in Kerala but a cosmetic in most other states. If despite all these challenges, the GST Council was able to reduce rates on 211 items spread across all tax brackets, cut the rate on standalone restaurants from 28 to 5 per cent (without input tax credit), raise the threshold limit for the composition scheme to Rs 1.5 crore, extend the deadline for filing GST returns and simplify the filing process, it is a remarkable achievement. So, is it win-win for all concerned — the union and state governments, businesses and consumers? Not quite! Then, what are the sticking points? 

Flaws in GST

1. Exclusion of key sectorsOn the conceptual side, the biggest flaw is the exclusion of some key sectors, notably real estate, electricity and alcohol, from the GST regime. (Petroleum is also presently outside GST, but there is a provision to include it later). These sectors contribute about 37% of the tax revenue in most states, so keeping them outside the purview of GST takes away greatly from the GST’s USP of ‘one nation, one tax’ and related benefit of transparency and audit trail. The essence of GST is transparency and audit trail, which makes it is next to impossible for the ultimate beneficiaries to escape the tax net. In fact, it is the perfect antidote for the transgressions in the real estate sector, where a majority of the transactions escape the tax authorities’ radar. States, however, are reluctant to give up their taxing powers in respect of stamp duties levied on real estate transactions. Likewise, alcohol and tobacco are big cash cows for state governments; hence the reluctance to cede taxing powers. 2. Procedural & compliance issuesThe other major sticking points relate to procedural and compliance issues. Both are likely to ease now that the limit for the composition scheme has been raised to Rs 1.5 lakh and returns can be filed quarterly, instead of monthly. This will give both taxpayers and the IT backbone, the GST Network (GSTN), some respite. The GSTN has done a commendable job: since the rollout of GST on July 1, the portal has handled over 2.26 crore returns. But it has not proved equal to the gargantuan task of handling so many returns and in a very short period of time. The tendency of businesses to file returns at the very last minute compounds the problem. The net result is that despite the GSTN’s claim that the system is robust, taxpayers are far from happy. According to the vast majority, the GSTN system frequently stalls, with the result that it takes hours to file returns. With familiarity with computers being poor and net connectivity, even in the metros, patchy, chaos is inevitable. Online filing by close to 100 lakh businesses, many of which are filing returns for the first time, is bound to challenge the best of systems and GSTN.   3. Reverse charge mechanism issueThere are a couple of other niggling issues. Under GST, the buyer is required to pay tax on behalf of the supplier when he buys goods and services from unregistered dealers (known as reverse charge mechanism). This creates problems for small dealers since buyers are reluctant to pay when they are unable to claim input tax credit immediately. At the previous meeting of the Council, reverse charge provisions were deferred till March 31, 2018. However, as of now, the relief is only temporary potentially leaving small businesses at the mercy of large corporates post March 2018.

4. Invoice matching

Invoice matching (matching of individual invoices with returns) is another problematic area that needs to be addressed. Perhaps the Council could defer this till the GSTN stabilises so that reconciliation problems do not delay tax credits. E-way bills, meant to facilitate seamless inter-state transport of goods and eliminate corruption at border check posts, have been deferred for now; but given their centrality to facilitating quick and smooth movement of goods, must not fall prey to lobbying by unscrupulous elements.      Any tax reform as complex as GST is bound to be a work in progress, at least for the first few years. An ideal GST should cover all sectors and have few rates. But what we have is a partial GST, many rates, and worse, frequent tweaks. But does that weaken it to such an extent that it takes away from all that GST stands for: viz a simpler tax regime, broader tax base, no tax cascades, enhanced export competitiveness, greater regional equity, and, most importantly, greater transparency? No! Provided we allow rates to stabilise and focus on improving the plumbing, viz the processes and technology backbone, even as we work to get the remaining sectors into GST, we would still have a better system, warts and all, than earlier.

Why Pak’s elite park wealth abroad

‘Blaming and shaming should be a side business. The focus needs to be on opening channels and creating an environment where offshore account holders find repatriation of their wealth back in Pakistan to be the most economically viable option.’

Why Pak’s elite park wealth abroad

while Panama leaks corruption cases have consumed public attention and power yielders wrestle in courts, the business elite fears that Panama/Paradise leaks may further polarise society across the class divide and pollute the business environment.The future strategy, businessmen said, should be to suppress the temptation of a witch-hunt. “Blaming and shaming should be a side business. The focus needs to be on opening channels and creating an environment where offshore account holders find repatriation of their wealth back in Pakistan to be the most economically viable option,” a businessman said. They detested projecting all offshore account holders as scoundrels. They stressed upon the need for evolving some mechanism to distinguish fair operators from foul. The private sector regretted the country’s environment that forced people to shift their assets overseas. According to initial estimates, the collective wealth of Pakistanis hidden overseas is around $300-$500 billion. Of this, about $200bn is said to be in Switzerland. Currently, the GDP of the country, projected by the World Bank, is around $300bn. Underplaying the astonishing volume of asset transfer and the income disparity dimension in Pakistan, free market advocates insisted that the real culprits were government’s unstable policies, the corruption/inefficiency of the tax machinery and the precarious security situation. Chief Economist Dr Nadeem Javed did not see an issue if transparency could be ensured. “We are for free flow of resources for optimal returns. As long as people see a comparative advantage they will be inclined to transfer their wealth to options that promise the best returns. It doesn’t mean indemnity from law. Within legal boundaries, everyone, rich and poor, should have the right of choice,” he said.Naheed Memon, head of the Sindh Board of Investment, mailed a long complex response. “It is not illegal but regulation, access to information laws and technology is cleaning up the grey areas. If you argue that putting money abroad increases global wealth that is then reinvested to improve human welfare through better business, you may think this crackdown is political and populist. I am a proponent of growth and progress but the idea of siphoning off wealth and running undisclosed businesses is, to me, bordering on unjust,” she said.”Instead of celebrating success we tend to penalise achievers out of sheer contempt (sour grapes phenomenon),” commented a top businessman whose name was on the latest list. “If you want something good to come out of this global thrust for greater transparency you must try and be objective. Instead of jumping to conclusions, the situation demands evidence-based planning and adjustments,” he added. As much as the private sector dismissed it there is no denying that Pakistan is perceived to be a poor country with an astonishingly rich elite. The leaks of offshore accounts of Pakistani individuals and companies did highlight the anomaly. It also exposed the nexus between law firms and financial institutions and a web of complex transactions, all shrouded in mystery.Let us answer some key questions.Where do the leaks came from?The data originally came from legal service providers (Mossack Fonseca, active in Panama; and Appleby, which has offices in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man, Jersey) in offshore industry, helping clients to set up companies overseas with low or zero tax rates. These documents were obtained by a German newspaper. Under an agreement, it was forwarded to the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which studied millions of documents to identify investors. The list includes 643 Pakistanis, 450 in Panama Papers and 193 in Paradise Papers. They are estimated to own 5 per cent of the total hidden $10 trillion global wealth.What is peculiar about offshore accounts?It is an overseas account operative at a place where Pakistan’s regulations are not applicable and through which individuals and companies can route money (profits, assets) to take advantage of lower taxes.

Why should we care?

First, the volume is humongous, entailing a very high opportunity cost in terms of loss of investible funds in a country struggling with low investment-to-GDP ratio. Second, the burden of tax avoidance of rich in an expanding economy is borne by the poor and salaried class. “The government functions have to be financed. The government recovers what they lose from the rich by squeezing the vulnerable multitude through indirect taxation,” commented an economist. Transparency is almost always good and lack of it is conducive to promoting and perpetuating injustice. Who is hiding their wealth?Panama and the second list include names of politicians, businessmen, bankers, brokers, realtors, doctors, lawyers, management hierarchy, bureaucrats, and senior military men.  Is there a defence for tax havens?The small island governments say that they indirectly force governments to apply constraints in applying tax rates. They say they facilitate the global circulation of wealth by offering services to asset owing entities. Joseph Stiglitz, however, considered them a threat to global governance as they facilitate money laundering, corruption and an unacceptably high level of wealth inequality.By arrangement with the Dawn

100 YEARS OF MASSACRE BY GENERAL DYER Malik demands development package for Jallianwala Bagh

Malik demands development package for Jallianwala Bagh
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre will mark its 100th year in 2019. Tribune Photo

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 13

Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik has demanded a special package from Union Cultural Minister Dr Mahesh Sharma for the development of Jallianwala Bagh on the completion of 100 years of the massacre.After meeting Dr Sharma in New Delhi recently, Malik said the minister had assured him of all help while asserting that Jallianwala Bagh is a national monument and the Centre is committed to its development.Malik told the minister that in April 2019, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre would mark its 100th year and to pay a befitting homage to the martyrs, the Union Government should grant a special package for the development of the historical monument so that visitors should know how the people of the country had fought and laid down their lives during the Independence struggle.Malik said he had sanctioned Rs 10 lakh from his discretionary grant for the monument’s development. He added that the work of painting Jallianwala Bagh was in progress.The MP said new sanitary fittings and renovation work of washrooms, a water cooler with an RO system, installation of ceiling fans in the visitor gallery, repairs of fountains and lighting were going on.He added that the main emphasis was to restart the documentary on the massacre.

45 ANOs take part in one-day conclave

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 13

A one-day conclave of associate officers of National Cadet Corps (NCC) was held at Sri Guru Harkrishan International School here today.The conclave was organised by the 11th Punjab Battalion NCC.As many as 45 associate NCC officers (ANOs) from all three wings of defence –Army, Air force, Naval — took part in the conclave. The day-long event saw a number of activates to upgrade the skills of instructors, known as ANOs. These instructors are responsible for training young students who have opted for NCC in schools and colleges.NCC officials laid stress on improving the quality of imparting skills, ways to motivate students and enhancing knowledge. A tug of war contest was also organised on the occasion.Col Ashwani Kumar, Commanding Officer of the battalion, said, “It is a maiden effort to bring people together from the NCC to one platform. Our aim is to achieve great results.”

IMA’s Passing Out Parade on Dec 9

Image result for IMA

Tribune News Service

Dehradun, November 14

The much-awaited Passing out Parade of the Indian Military Academy will be held on December 9. Ahead of the parade, the graduation ceremony of ACC wing of the academy will take place on December 1. This will be followed by the award ceremony on December 6 and subsequent Commandant’s Parade on December 7.Over 500 Gentlemen cadets, including foreign cadets, will participate in the parade. Preparations have already begun for the event at the academy.Since its establishment during the pre-Independence days, around 60,000 officers have passed out from the academy. The parade is held in June and December, which is also known as the autumn term parade, every year. Events to be heldDec 1: Graduation ceremony of ACC wing

Dec 6: Awards ceremony

Dec 7: Commandant’s Parade

Dec 9: Passing Out Parade

Punjab soldier, militant killed in Valley encounter

Punjab soldier, militant  killed in  Valley encounter
Another gunfight erupted in Awantipora in Pulwama district. Tribune file

Kulgam, November 14

An Army jawan lost his life while a policeman suffered injuries in a gunbattle in Qazigund area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district today, which resulted in the killing of a militant.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)The slain jawan was identified as Sepoy Manjinder Singh, 20, from Punjab, who had recently joined the Army. The militant, Muzamil Ahmad, of Badroo Yaripora in Kulgam district belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba and had been active for over four years, a police officer said. Security forces cordoned off the forest area adjacent to Halan-Kond village after inputs about the presence of militants, who were briefly sighted before disappearing in the thick forest cover. “Contact was established again at 10.30 am,” a police source said. After a brief exchange of fire, a militant was gunned down, while a soldier lost his life. Clashes erupted as hundreds of locals tried to march towards the encounter site. — TNS

Indo-Kazakhstan joint exercise concludes

Indo-Kazakhstan joint exercise concludes
Slithering operation being conducted during the Indo-Kazakhstan Joint Training Exercise on Tuesday. Photo: Ashok Raina

Our Correspondent

Kangra, November 14

The Indo-Kazakhstan Joint Training Exercise, “Prabal Dostyk 2017” culminated today with a closing ceremony at the Bakloh Military Camp here.Col NN Joshi, Defence Spokesperson, today said the exercise was the second edition of the ‘Prabal Dostyk’ series of exercises between the two countries. He said the first was ‘Prabal Dostyk 2016, which was conducted in Kazakhstan.He said the 14-day joint training exercise included basic mutual orientation between contingents of the two armies, a joint training in counter insurgency/counter terrorist operations under the UN mandate and culminated with a validation exercise.Col Joshi said the overall aim of the joint exercise was to understand each other’s operational methodology and develop interoperability to enable joint operations by the two armies.Brigadier Navdeep Brar of the Indian Army presided over the closing ceremony. Besides the two participating contingents, the closing ceremony was also attended by observer delegations of both armies which comprised of senior ranking military officers. Personnel of both contingents expressed their satisfaction on the successful conduct of the joint exercise and were confident of having achieved a high degree of interoperability. The exercise also demonstrated the determination of the two armies in working closely with each other to eradicate the menace of terrorism in all its forms. The joint exercise was a resounding success and will go a long way in enhancing military ties between India and Kazakhstan, Col Joshi added.

Martyred Mandi jawan was lone bread-winner of family Body to be brought to his village by road today

Martyred Mandi jawan was lone bread-winner of family
Inder Singh, an Assam Rifles jawan, was killed in an explosion at Manipur’s Chandel district on Monday. He was on patrolling duty at Maha Mani village when the improvised explosive device exploded around 6.15 am.

Tribune News Service

Mandi, November 14

The world of Mandi soldier’s family came crashing down when the news of his death reached his village. Inder Singh, an Assam Rifles jawan, was killed in an explosion at Manipur’s Chandel district on Monday. He was on patrolling duty at Maha Mani village when the improvised explosive device exploded around 6.15 am.The blast claimed the lives of two Assam Rifles jawans and left six injured.Inder’s family at Pandoh village in Mandi district was inconsolable. The martyr’s wife and mother said he was the lone bread-winner as his father had died long ago. His seven-year-old son had no idea what was happening in the house. Relatives were seen consoling the family. His wife said life would never be the same as tears rolled down her cheeks. Though the family is proud of Inder’s sacrifice, it will be difficult for them to come to terms with the loss.The family and relatives are waiting for the body which will be brought by road from Pathankot.Deputy Commissioner, Mandi, Madan Chauhan said the body was expected to arrive here on Wednesday morning and the cremation would be done the same day. He added that the district administration would provide every possible help to the family.

Weather permitting, road to Leh open till Dec 31

Weather permitting, road to Leh open till Dec 31
The Manali-Leh road in tribal Lahaul-Spiti. Tribune Photo

Dipender Manta

Tribune News Service

Kullu, November 14

In what could be heartening for residents of tribal district Lahaul-Spiti, the district administration, depending on the weather conditions in the region, has decided to allow the vehicular movement between Kullu and Lahaul via the Rohtang Pass.Generally, after November 15, the 13,050 feet high Rohtang Pass, the gateway to Lahaul, is officially closed for traffic in view of public safety because due to its high altitude the Pass is prone to sudden heavy snowfall which could pose a serious threat to the lives of visitors.The Rohtang Pass yesterday received mild snowfall, but the traffic on the route between Manali and Keylong remained unaffected.Every year, the district administration sets up rescue posts at Marhi on the Manali side and at Koksar on the Lahaul side on November 15 for helping visitors during the inclement weather.The posts remain functional till December 31. The authorities take the help of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, to set up these rescue posts.Director of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, Captain Randhir Salhuria said, “Our team is heading to the spot tomorrow to set up rescue posts at Marhi and Koksar for the safety of visitors in the region as the high-altitude areas may witness snowfall.” He added that people were advised to ensure their entry on these rescue posts before crossing over to the other side so that timely assistance could be provided if the need arose.Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul-Spiti, Deva Singh Negi said, “The rescue posts will be set up at Marhi and Koksar. I have decided to allow the traffic to continue on this route depending on the weather condition.”Like the previous year, the authority will take help of the Border Roads Organisation this time also for snow clearing to ensure smooth traffic. Rescue posts at Marhi, Koksar 

  • The Rohtang Pass received mild snowfall on Monday, but the traffic between Manali and Keylong remained unaffected.
  • Every year, the district administration sets up rescue posts at Marhi on the Manali side and at Koksar on the Lahaul side for helping visitors during the harsh weather.
  • The posts remains functional till December 31. The authorities take the help of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, to set up the rescue posts.