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Sunday, December 28

ICAI's communication on being invited by PM for Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan

Nomination of ICAI for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. - (26-12-2014)

ICAI Press Release

To take part in the cleanliness drive to mark "Good Governance Day" the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited Varanasi on Dec 25’14. During the visit, Hon'ble Prime Minister nominated the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in addition to other personalities and organisations.

While announcing the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on October 2, 2014, Hon’ble Prime Minister had nominated few eminent personalities to take forward this campaign.


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CA.K.Raghu, President, ICAI said “We are extremely honoured to receive this nomination from the Hon'ble Prime Minister. It is for the first time that any professional body has been nominated by the Prime Minister for Swach Bharat Abhiyan. I accept the nomination on behalf of the entire CA fraternity.”

Highlights of the ICAI Contribution in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan would be:

1. To have special cleanliness drive in all offices, branches, ITT Centres, reading rooms, library, auditoriums etc.
2. Awareness campaigns through the vast network of 5 regional councils and 147 branches.
3. Constitution of special dedicated committees, promoting paperless environment.
4. Raising awareness through competitions, walkathons and workshops.
5. Organizing Swachhata Saptah – Cleanliness Week.
Fixation of sufficient number of waste bins with slogans and encourage people/staff/visitors to use them.

Raghu added “It is an honour that while reviewing the progress of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in Varanasi, Hon’ble Prime Minister has nominated ICAI among others.”

The members & students of ICAI are spread across the country and will play a vital role in taking this initiative of the Prime Minister forward and make a success of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. ICAI is committed to be truly a Partner in Nation building.

Source - ICAI

Friday, December 19

How GST will impact India

Image Courtesy: Financial Express
With the Centre and states finally reaching a consensus on the contours of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), India is all set to roll out the largest indirect tax reform since the introduction of the value-added tax in 2005. Finance minister Arun Jaitley is expected to table the Constitution Amendment Bill in the current session of Parliament to meet the deadline of April 1, 2016, for its introduction. Surabhi explains the structure and benefits of the tax.


What is GST? What does it replace?
As the name suggests, the GST will be levied both on goods (manufacturing) and services. It will convert the country into unified market, replacing most indirect taxes with one tax. It would have a dual structure — a Central component levied and collected by the Centre and a state component administered by states.

At the Central level, it will subsume Central excise duty, service tax and additional customs duties while at the state level it will include value-added tax, entertainment tax, luxury tax, lottery taxes and electricity duty. Central sales tax (CST) will be completely phased out. Entry tax or octroi would be subsumed from the start. But state taxes on petroleum products will continue for a few years after GST is introduced, as per the deal brokered between the Centre and states on Monday. State taxes on alcohol and tobacco, too, would remain.

As with VAT, the tax will be charged on each stage of value addition. At each stage, a supplier can off-set the levy through a tax credit mechanism. This means, the consumer pays GST added on by only the last dealer in the supply chain.

The rate for GST is as yet undecided, but it would be in a range that would make exports competitive. A sub-committee of the Empowered Committee of state finance ministers had proposed revenue-neutral rates (RNR) for the Central and state components at 12.77 per cent and 13.91 per cent, respectively, taking the effective GST rate to 26.88 per cent. This is much stiffer than the 14-16 per cent in most countries as well as the recommendation of a taskforce of the Thirteenth Finance Commission of 12 per cent (7 per cent for state GST and 5 per cent for central GST).

Why do states fear they will lose revenue? How much do the states expect to lose?

For instance, states earn nearly 50 per cent of revenues from levies on petroleum products. Concerns have mounted over potential losses due to subsuming of state levies into GST. States have raised concerns of revenue loss due to the phase out of the CST, which they have pegged at
Rs 34,000 crore.

On a theoretical level, RNR for GST would ensure that there are no losses to either the state or the Centre. Indirect tax collections are in fact expected to go up on the back of better tax compliance under the regime.

But as a sweetener, the Centre has agreed to include a provision on compensation for a period of three years on losses arising out of GST to states in the Constitution amendment Bill. Jaitley has also promised Rs 11,000 crore to states as CST compensation in this fiscal. Further, to give fiscal autonomy to states, the Centre will collect taxes from traders having a turnover of over Rs 1.5 crore while the states will tax those having a turnover between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 1.5 crore.


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Will states not charge octroi after GST is introduced?
All entry taxes, including octroi will be subsumed in GST from the start as they have a cascading impact. However, since it is estimated to account for nearly 14 per cent of the total tax collections by states of Rs 3,50,000 crore, the Centre has agreed for a special dispensation allowing states to levy an additional 1 per cent tax in lieu of entry tax.

How does the economy and the corporate sector in particular benefit from GST?

The rationale behind GST is that it simplifies the indirect tax regime with a single tax. A study by the National Council of Applied Economic Research estimated that roll out of the tax would boost the GDP growth by anywhere between 0.9-1.7 per cent. A Crisil report had also said GST was the best way to mobilise revenue and reduce the fiscal deficit. Removal of cascading taxes makes the manufacturing sector more competitive and cut down on the tax compliance burden.

What does it mean for the consumer?

With cascading taxes gone, over a period of time the lower tax burden would translate into lower prices for goods, which is of course, dependent on what the GST rate would be.

(Source: Financial Express)

Thursday, December 18

Companies Act Amendment to Facilitate Ease of Doing Business passed in Loksabha

The Lok Sabha Wednesday passed the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2014, after Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley told the house that some of the original provisions were only posing hurdles to doing business in the country.

"The object of these amendments is solely to ease the process of doing business in India. None of them have any ulterior motive," Jaitley, who also holds the finance portfolio, said replying to the debate on amending the Companies Act, 2013.

"Some of its provisions would have made doing business in India extremely difficult and the investment environment in the country would be disrupted by such a law," he added.

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Under the new norms proposed, the paid-up capital criteria has been scrapped while threshold limits for various transactions for getting shareholders' nod has now been stipulated.

Another amendment approves prescribing specific punishment for deposits accepted, a condition that was left out in the act inadvertently, the ministry said.

Towards meeting a "corporate demand," an amendement proposes "prohibiting public inspection of Board resolutions filed in the registry".

Among the major concerns of stateholders were protecting confidentiality of board resolutions, as well as the provision of auditors being required to report suspected frauds at the companies audited by them.

Stakeholders were also concerned that stringent regulations for related party transactions, or those transactions between the company and another in which a board member or members are interested, could hurt routine business activity.

The amendment also proposes to exempt corporates from the need to get shareholders' nod in the case of related party transactions valued lower than Rs 100 crore or 10 percent of net worth.

Under the old system, shareholders' permission through a special resolution was required in case of related party transactions for all firms with a paid up capital of Rs 10 crore or more.

Another amendment exempts related party transactions between holding companies and wholly owned subsidiaries from the requirement of approval of non-related shareholders.

(Source: ToI and Zee News)

10 Things You Want To Know About GST

Image Courtesy: Khabarindia.com
The government may initiate steps for one of the country's biggest economic reforms by introducing a bill that seeks to amend the constitution to create a harmonised Goods and Services Tax (GST). Here is your 10-point cheat-sheet to this big story:


1. The GST provides a major taxation reform by introducing a national sales tax that will replace a myriad of overlapping state duties that deter investment.

2. The cabinet last evening approved a constitutional amendment bill that allows for this.


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3. The draft legislation is expected to be introduced in the current parliamentary session which concludes next week. Four working days remain for the winter session.

4. Investors and manufacturers have long advocated the GST as a way to simplify taxes while broadening the tax base, adding as much as 2 percentage points to economic growth in Asia's third-largest economy.

5. Some of India's 29 states were reluctant to give their assent for fear of revenue losses. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley brokered a compromise on Monday, offering to compensate the states for any loss of revenues following the implementation of the GST.

6. The government aims to bring the tax into effect from April 1, 2016.

7. But the bill may not be cleared in this session of parliament. It could be taken up for debate in the Budget session which will begin in February.

8. Since the bill seeks to amend the constitution, it needs to be cleared by a two-third majority of both houses of parliament. The government will face no problem in the Lok Sabha, where it has huge numbers, but it is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha and will need the opposition's support.

9. The proposal will then have to be cleared by at least half of the country's state legislatures before it becomes a law.

10. GST will replace a number of indirect taxes currently levied by both the Central and State Governments and seeks to provide a common national market for goods and services. Once in force, GST will reduce the total number of indirect taxes apart from the customs duty (only on imported goods) to just three.


(Source: NDTV)

Wednesday, December 3

Cabinet tweaks Companies Act, relaxes norms for doing business

Within months of the new Companies Act coming into force, the government today cleared a slew of changes to this law to make it easier for corporates to do business and to ensure severe punishment for those raising illegal deposits from the public. This would be among the first major initiatives by the government to make changes in the country's regulatory framework to improve its global ranking for ease of doing business, where India has been ranked very low at 142nd position in the latest World Bank report. 


The 14 proposed amendments, which were approved by the Union cabinet this evening, also include provision to ensure that frauds beyond a certain threshold would need to be mandatorily reported by the auditors to the government. To address concerns raised by the corporates, the government has also agreed to relax a number of norms including those pertaining to related party transactions, while resolutions passed by the companies' boards would not be subjected to public inspection.

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The new Companies Act, which came into force with effect from 1 April with some provisions yet to become operational, has faced stiff criticism for many provisions. The new law, put in place by the previous government, has replaced a nearly six-decade old Companies Act, 1956, but the new government has been indicating for quite some time that it would bring in necessary changes to address concerns raised by various stakeholders including corporates

The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2014, cleared by Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, would now go to the Parliament to bring into effect necessary amendments to the existing Act. The Companies Act, 2013 was notified on 29 August 2013. Out of 470 sections in the Act, 283 sections and 22 sets of Rules corresponding to such sections have so far been brought into force. The government said in a statement that these amendments have been proposed to address issues raised by stakeholders such as chartered accountants and professionals. To improve ease of doing business, the proposed amendments include omitting requirement for minimum paid up share capital, and consequential changes and making common seal optional, and consequential changes for authorization for execution of documents. Besides, specific punishment will be prescribed for non-compliance to norms governing deposits taking activities. Such a provision was "left out in the (existing) Act inadvertently". Enabling provisions are being put in to prescribe thresholds beyond which fraud shall be reported to the Central government, while cases below this threshold will be reported to the audit committee of the company's board. Disclosures for both the categories would need to be made in the board's report, the government said, while adding that this provision has been made at the demand of auditors. Besides loans given by a company to wholly owned subsidiaries and guarantees/securities on loans taken from banks by subsidiaries, would be exempted from the purview of related party transactions. "This was provided under the Rules but being included in the Act as a matter of abundant caution," the government said. In another major step, it has been proposed to replace "special resolution with ordinary resolution for approval of related party transactions by non-related shareholders. This would address "problems faced by large stakeholders who are related parties," the government said. Besides, related party transactions between holding companies and wholly owned subsidiaries have been exempted from the requirement of approval of non-related shareholders. Further, the government has decided to prohibit public inspection of a company's board resolutions filed in the Registry and would include provision for writing off past losses/ depreciation before declaring dividend for the year. Besides, the audit committee of a company would be empowered to "give omnibus approvals for related party transactions on annual basis". This would also align provisions of the Act with that of capital market regulator Sebi's policy. Taking into consideration the demand of corporates, the government would rectify the requirement of transferring equity shares for which unclaimed/unpaid dividend has been transferred to the IEPF (Investor Education and Protection Fund) even though subsequent dividend has been claimed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI
In addition, the winding up of companies would be heard by a two-member instead of three-member bench. Among others,"bail restrictions to apply only for offence relating to fraud under section 447 of the Act. Enabling provisions to prescribe thresholds beyond which fraud shall be reported to the Central government (below the threshold, it will be reported to the Audit Committee). Another amendment is to ensure that special courts would try only offences carrying imprisonment of two years or more so that minor violations can be taken care by magistrates.