GST Amnesty Scheme 2023: Key Highlights
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, in its 52nd meeting, has introduced significant changes to the GST laws, providing relief to taxpayers and clarifying rules regarding property attachments. The latest amendments aim to simplify the appeal process for taxpayers and establish a clear timeframe for the temporary attachment of property by tax authorities.
Amnesty Plan for Tax Appeals
The GST Council has announced an amnesty plan to streamline the process of appealing against demand orders issued by tax inspectors. Under the existing GST rules, a individual has a three-month window from the date of issuance of an assessment order to file an appeal against it. This period can be extended by one additional month.
Extension of Appeal Deadline
In the recent GST Council meeting, it was decided to extend the deadline for GST-registered enterprises to file appeals. Taxpayers now have until January 31, 2024, to file appeals for all orders issued up to March 31, 2023. This extension provides taxpayers with ample time to review and respond to assessment orders.
To avail of this extended appeal period, taxpayers will be required to make an increased pre-deposit. Previously set at 10 percent of the tax demand, the pre-deposit has now been raised to 12.5 percent. This change ensures that taxpayers have a vested interest in their appeals while providing some financial flexibility.
Debiting of Electronic Cash Ledger
Another key aspect of this amnesty plan is the requirement to debit the Electronic Cash Ledger. Taxpayers must debit at least 20 percent or 2.5 percent of the tax under dispute, out of the 12.5 percent pre-deposit. This mechanism aims to ensure compliance and facilitate the appeal process.
The GST Council’s decision to extend the appeal deadline and increase the pre-deposit threshold is expected to benefit a significant number of taxpayers who were unable to file appeals within the previous time constraints. This move reflects the Council’s commitment to making the GST system more taxpayer-friendly.
Clarification on Property Attachments
In addition to the appeal process, the GST Council has also made clarifications regarding property attachments by tax authorities.
Temporary Seizure of Assets
GST-registered firms have often faced the risk of their assets, including bank accounts, being temporarily seized by tax authorities. Such seizures can significantly impact businesses’ operations.
To provide clarity and a sense of security to taxpayers, the GST Council has now stipulated that the validity of asset attachments by tax authorities is limited to one year. After this period, the attached property must be released. This amendment ensures that the temporary seizure of assets is not unduly prolonged and that businesses can regain access to their assets within a reasonable timeframe.
GST Amnesty: A Lifeline for Taxpayers
The amnesty initiative aims to shield both individuals and companies from penalties and other repercussions when they submit appeals related to GST matters. This decision is expected to be advantageous for a substantial portion of taxpayers who have either ongoing appeals or have not initiated the appeal process yet.
The extended deadline serves as an incentive for adherence to tax regulations and expeditious resolution of disputes, as it affords taxpayers additional time to address their tax issues and explore potential remedies.
A Leap Towards Transparency and Efficiency
The recent decisions of the GST Council regarding the amnesty plan for tax appeals and the clarification on property attachments mark significant steps towards enhancing transparency and fairness in the GST system. These changes not only provide relief to taxpayers but also streamline the procedures related to appeals and property attachments, ultimately contributing to a more efficient and taxpayer-friendly GST regime.
Annual Joint HADR Exercise 2023 (AJHE-23) – CHAKRAVAT 2023
The Annual Joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercise (AJHE) is a significant initiative that has evolved since its inception in 2015. It is a direct outcome of the directive issued during the Combined Commanders’ Conference of 2015 by India’s Honorable Prime Minister. Since then, AJHE, known as CHAKRAVAT, has grown into a multi-agency endeavor that includes the active participation of India’s armed forces, paramilitary forces, disaster response organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, and international organizations. The 2023 edition of AJHE promises to further synergize national efforts and expand its scope by involving eight countries from the Indian Ocean Region.
The Annual Joint HADR Exercise is conducted on a rotational basis by India’s three armed services: the Indian Army, Indian Navy (IN), and Indian Air Force (IAF). The previous edition of the exercise was hosted by the IAF in Agra. In 2023, the Indian Navy is set to host AJHE-23 in Goa from October 9th to 11th.
India’s Vision for the Oceans: SAGAR
India’s inclusive vision for the oceans, known as SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region), underscores the importance of developing collective and coordinated effective response mechanisms to address humanitarian crises and natural disasters. Within the framework of SAGAR, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations play a pivotal role, given the heightened vulnerability of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to natural disasters resulting from climate change.
The Challenge of Climate Change
Climate change has amplified the challenges posed by natural disasters in the IOR. Littoral states in the region often lack the capacity to effectively address this growing threat. Consequently, the Indian Armed Forces have frequently been called upon to provide assistance to neighboring states in the IOR. This has reinforced the need and commitment of India to be the ‘First Responder’ in the region. While the armed forces continue to render assistance in the event of a calamity, AJHE-23 aims to promote a ‘whole of government’ approach to enhance preparedness and response to such unfortunate events.
Components of AJHE-23
AJHE-23 spans three days and encompasses various components:
Seminar: The event begins with a seminar on October 9, 2023, featuring discussions on emergent topics such as Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction, Disaster Response in IOR, and NGO Collaboration in Disaster Reduction and Response. Subject Matter Experts will lead these discussions.
Table-Top Exercise: This exercise involves a scenario-based simulation to assess and refine disaster response strategies and coordination among participating agencies.
Multi-Agency Capability Demonstration: On October 11, 2023, a Multi-Agency Capability Demonstration will take place. This segment will showcase rescue and relief drills, emphasizing the nuances and important lessons learned in disaster response.
Industrial Display: Scheduled for October 10 and 11, 2023, the industrial display will feature various HADR equipment and solutions from organizations including FICCI, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, NDRF, SDMA, and NSRC.
The Symbolism of the AJHE-23 Logo
The logo for AJHE-23 symbolizes unity and joint action. It incorporates crests and logos of all participating agencies and flags of participating nations into a single entity, signifying that HADR efforts hinge on joint and integrated actions by all agencies and nations involved.
In conclusion, the Annual Joint HADR Exercise 2023 is a testament to India’s commitment to regional disaster response and relief. It showcases the nation’s readiness to collaborate with international partners, non-governmental organizations, and various government agencies to address the growing challenges posed by climate change and natural disasters in the Indian Ocean Region. AJHE-23 serves as a platform for learning, cooperation, and strengthening collective resilience in the face of adversity.
IDFC FIRST Bank tie up with Outlook Group to present “Outlook Money 40After40”
Outlook Group is excited to announce the launch of its highly anticipated retirement planning event, “40After40,” in association with IDFC FIRST Bank. This two-day event and expo will take place at the Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai on January 23-24, 2024. “40After40” aims to be a comprehensive platform for all retirement-related discussions, offering panel discussions, expert chats, masterclasses, interactions with financial planners, and product presentations.
The Growing Elderly Population in India
According to a National Statistical Office (NSO) report titled “Elderly in India 2021,” the elderly population in India is on the rise. It is projected to increase by 41 percent over a decade, from 138 million in 2021 to 194 million in 2031. Furthermore, statistics from statista.com for 2021-31 indicate that the growth rate of the elderly population is expected to be five times higher than that of the total population. With life expectancy in India also on the rise, reaching around 70 years in 2023, it is crucial for individuals of all age groups, especially those over 40, to become conscious of and start planning for their retirement years.
The Need for “40After40” Event
Outlook Group’s “40After40” event is an extension of its commitment to raising awareness and facilitating discussions about the critical yet often neglected topic of retirement planning. It distinguishes itself as the only media house with a dedicated website (https://retirement.outlookindia.com/) that provides editorial content focused on retirement. The event’s primary goal is to offer valuable insights and expert guidance to individuals, empowering them to make informed decisions and secure a prosperous retirement.
Collaboration with IDFC FIRST Bank
IDFC FIRST Bank will be the presenting sponsor of the “40After40” event and will contribute the expertise of its financial experts to promote the message of timely retirement planning. Partnering with IDFC FIRST Bank, a renowned financial institution known for its customer-centric approach and robust solutions, enhances the credibility and expertise of the event. Together, Outlook Group and IDFC FIRST Bank aim to equip event attendees with the knowledge and tools necessary to embark on a secure and fulfilling retirement journey.
In conclusion, “40After40” is a pioneering event that addresses the pressing need for retirement planning in India’s changing demographic landscape. With the support of IDFC FIRST Bank, Outlook Group is poised to provide individuals with the resources and insights they require to make sound retirement decisions.
India’s Fiscal Deficit Rose To Rs 6.42 trillion, Which Is 36% Of The FY24 Target
According to the data, released by the Controller General of Accounts, the fiscal deficit for the April-August period in FY24 stood at Rs 6.42 trillion. This accounts for 36 per cent of the full-year target of Rs 17.87 trillion. Comparatively, during the same period in FY23, the fiscal deficit was 32.6 per cent of the full-year target.
It’s worth noting that India’s aim is to narrow its fiscal deficit to 5.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of the current financial year, down from 6.4 per cent in the previous year.
Primary Deficit at Rs 2.75 Trillion
The primary deficit, which represents the fiscal deficit without considering interest payments, stood at Rs 2.75 trillion. This amounts to 38.9 per cent of the full-year target of Rs 7.06 trillion. In the same period last year, between April and August, the primary deficit was 28.2 per cent of the budgetary estimate. The primary deficit is a crucial metric as it reflects the government’s ability to meet its expenditure commitments without relying on borrowing for interest payments.
Revenue Deficit: Rs 2.84 Trillion
The revenue deficit for the April-August period in FY24 was recorded at Rs 2.84 trillion, constituting 32.7 per cent of the full-year estimate of Rs 8.70 trillion. The revenue deficit is a significant parameter as it highlights the mismatch between revenue receipts and revenue expenditure, which includes day-to-day expenses such as salaries and subsidies.
Strong Tax Revenue Performance
Despite the fiscal challenges, the net tax revenue in the first five months of FY24 reached Rs 8.04 trillion, which is 34.5 per cent of the annual estimate. This figure is notably higher than the Rs 7 trillion collected during the same period last year. A standout performer in tax collections was corporate tax, which witnessed a remarkable year-on-year growth of over 15 per cent, reaching Rs 2.39 trillion.
Total Expenditure: Rs 16.72 Trillion
The total government expenditure during the April-August period in FY24 amounted to Rs 16.72 trillion. This represented 37.1 per cent of the annual goal, which is notably higher than the Rs 13.90 trillion spent during the same period in the previous fiscal year. This increase in expenditure reflects the government’s efforts to stimulate economic growth and provide necessary support during challenging times.
Government Capital Expenditure: Rs 3.74 Trillion
In the first five months of FY24, government capital expenditure, which includes spending on building infrastructure and developmental projects, stood at Rs 3.74 trillion. This represents 37.4 per cent of the annual target, surpassing the Rs 2.52 trillion spent during the same period a year earlier. This focus on capital investment is expected to play a vital role in India’s economic recovery and long-term growth prospects.
Government’s Initiatives and Challenges Ahead
While the fiscal deficit remains a concern, the government’s efforts to boost tax revenues and increase capital expenditure demonstrate a commitment to addressing economic challenges and supporting growth. As the fiscal year progresses, it will be crucial to monitor these indicators closely to assess India’s progress towards achieving its fiscal targets and sustaining economic recovery.
Bihar govt announces 10% reservation for EWS in judicial services
In a significant move, the Bihar government has unveiled a 10% reservation quota for people falling under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category in the state’s judicial services, as well as in government-run law colleges and universities. This announcement comes on the heels of the release of the state’s caste-based survey results. The decision was formally approved by the Bihar cabinet, as announced by Additional Chief Secretary (Cabinet Secretariat) S Siddhartha.
Background and Rationale
The decision to implement this reservation stems from the state’s commitment to promote social equality and provide opportunities to those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The recent caste-based survey revealed key demographic insights, highlighting the need for targeted affirmative action.
The Bihar government’s decision entails a 10% reservation specifically designated for individuals belonging to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS). The reservation will be applicable in two critical domains:
Judicial Services: The EWS reservation will be extended to Bihar’s judicial services, a move aimed at fostering inclusivity and diversity within the legal profession. This decision is expected to pave the way for individuals from marginalized economic backgrounds to pursue careers in the judiciary.
Law Colleges and Universities: In a bid to ensure greater access to quality legal education, the reservation will also be applicable in state-run law colleges and universities. This step aligns with the government’s commitment to making legal education accessible to a broader spectrum of society.
A comprehensive notification regarding the EWS reservation in these domains is currently in the works and will be issued by the relevant department in the near future. This notification will provide detailed guidelines and procedures for the implementation of the reservation.
To give legal effect to this historic decision, the Bihar government approved two key amendments:
Bihar Higher Judicial Service (Amendment) Manual 2023: This amendment paves the way for the inclusion of EWS reservation in the higher judicial services, ensuring equitable representation in the judicial system.
Bihar Civil Services (Judicial Wing) (Recruitment) (Amendment) Manual 2023: This amendment extends the EWS reservation to recruitment in the judicial wing of the Bihar Civil Services, aligning it with the broader commitment to providing opportunities for economically disadvantaged sections of society.
NLC India Ltd Secures 810 MW Solar PV Project In Rajasthan
NLC India Ltd. (NLCIL), a Navaratna Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the Ministry of Coal, has recently achieved a remarkable feat in the renewable energy sector by securing an 810 MW solar photovoltaic power project. This project is awarded by Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL) and marks a significant step forward in NLCIL’s commitment to clean and sustainable energy solutions.
Tender Floated By RRVUNL on December 21, 2022
The journey towards this achievement started when RRVUNL floated a tender for an 810 MW solar photovoltaic power project on December 21, 2022. The project is strategically located in the Bikaner district of Rajasthan, a region known for its abundant solar radiation potential. NLCIL, with its expertise and dedication to renewable energy, successfully secured the entire capacity, positioning itself as a key player in the state’s renewable energy landscape.
Collaborative Efforts: The Letter of Intent (LoI)
A significant milestone in the project’s development is the issuance of the Letter of Intent (LoI) by RRVUNL. This letter solidifies the commitment of both NLCIL and RRVUNL towards the successful execution of this ambitious solar project. Under this collaboration, RRVUNL will provide the necessary land for the project and the power evacuation system connected to the State transmission utility.
Scaling New Heights: NLCIL’s Largest Renewable Energy Project
The 810 MW solar photovoltaic power project in Bikaner marks the largest renewable energy project undertaken by NLCIL. With this addition, the total power project capacity in Rajasthan will surge to 1.36 GW, out of which 1.1 GW is green power. This significant increase in renewable energy capacity will not only promote economies of scale but also optimize fixed costs, making renewable energy more accessible and cost-effective.
A Greener Rajasthan: Environmental Impact
One of the key advantages of this project is its location in Rajasthan, which receives abundant solar radiation throughout the year. This positioning is set to enhance the project’s Capacity Utilization Factor (CUF) significantly. Over its lifetime, the project is expected to generate more than 50 billion units of power. Moreover, it will offset over 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, contributing to a cleaner and greener Rajasthan.
NLCIL’s Commitment to Renewable Energy
Prasanna Kumar Motupalli, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of NLCIL, expressed the company’s dedication to renewable energy. NLCIL has already made history by becoming the first Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) to install 1 GW of renewable energy capacity. The company is currently developing an additional 2 GW of renewable energy capacity across India, including this project. Their ultimate goal is to reach more than 6 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. This aligns perfectly with the Union government’s commitment to augment renewable energy capacity in the country.
Business continuity plan for Israel’s Haifa port ready: ALSEZ
The stock price of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), an entity under the Gautam Adani-led group, experienced a significant decline of over 5 percent on NSE (National Stock Exchange) amid certain events affecting the region. APSEZ operates the Haifa port in Israel and has emphasized its vigilance in ensuring business continuity despite the challenges faced.
APSEZ stocks witnessed a sharp decline, falling by 4.89 percent on the BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) and 5.09 percent on the NSE.
On the BSE, the stocks closed at Rs 789.90, and on NSE, they closed at Rs 788.5.
Business Continuity Assurance
Monitoring and Preparedness:
APSEZ stated that it is actively monitoring the situation, particularly in South Israel, where the events are concentrated.
The company is ensuring the safety of its employees and confirmed that all staff members are secure.
Haifa Port Operational:
Despite the challenges, the Haifa port, situated in the northern part of Israel and operated by APSEZ, remains operational.
The company has taken measures to guarantee the smooth functioning of its operations.
Business Continuity Plan:
APSEZ emphasized its preparedness, stating that it has a robust business continuity plan in place.
This plan is designed to enable the company to respond effectively to any unforeseen events and challenges that may arise.
Financial Impact and Confidence:
Limited Impact on Cargo Volume:
The Haifa port’s contribution to APSEZ’s overall cargo volume is relatively small, accounting for only 3 percent of the total cargo volume.
The firm highlighted that, for the current financial year (April 2023 to March 2024), Haifa Cargo volumes were guided to be within the range of 10-12 MMT (Million Metric Tons), out of APSEZ’s total cargo volume guidance of 370-390 MMT.
Confidence in Business Performance:
APSEZ expressed confidence in its business performance, citing that in the initial six months of the financial year (April-September 2023), APSEZ’s total cargo volume stood at approximately 203 MMT.
Within this, the Haifa port contributed around 6 MMT. Despite challenges, the company remains optimistic about its future performance.