Evening digest: Govt in talks with Opposition for GST passage in Winter Session

GN Bureau | November 23, 2015



The government is reaching out to the Opposition to bring it on board to ensure passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill for GST in the Winter Session, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu today said.Terming GST as the "need of the hour", Naidu said: "GST should be passed in the Winter Session of Parliament. I appeal to all political parties not to havepolitical consideration, but to think in terms of national interest. There are other political issues on which we can fight but GST has been pending for the last seven years."The Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will subsume more than a dozen state levies to create a single market, is to be implemented from April 1, 2016. But the deadline may be missed if Parliament does not pass the Constitution Amendment Bill in the upcoming Winter Session starting November 26.The Bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha and is awaiting clearance from the RajyaSabha where the ruling NDA lacks majority. The main opposition party, the Congress,has been opposing the passage demanding inclusion of a few provisions in the Bill.

Intex pips Micromax as India's No. 1 mobile handset brand
Intex has pipped Micromax to become the leading domestic handset vendor in the country with 42.5% sequential growth in the third quarter, data from market research firm IDC revealed today. Korea's Samsung though continues to lead the overall market. According to IDC data, published by Economic Times, Intex shipped 8,755,697 mobile handsets, including 5,699,300 feature and 3,056,397 smartphone units in the quarter. Micromax on the other hand shipped 8,613,296 mobile handsets, including 4,724,169 smartphone units. Samsung continued to lead both the overall and smartphone segments. It shipped a total of 15,982,197 mobile handsets during the quarter, which included 6,787,521 smartphone units.

Daily hearing on pleas in Jayalalithaa's DA case from Jan 8
The Supreme Court today agreed to conduct day-to-day hearing on appeals filed against the Karnataka High Court judgement acquitting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and three others in a disproportionate assets case.A bench, comprising justices P C Ghose and R K Agrawal, which while admitting the appeals in July this year had not gone into the issue of staying the high court order, asked the parties concerned to give it the list of issues, which as per them, needed to be decided in the case on January 8.

Income tax return forms to be simplified further
Government is looking to further simplify Income Tax return forms to help taxpayers fill them without seeking help from experts and the Revenue Department has set up a committee in this regard. The Committee, according to sources, will be headed by a Joint Secretary level officer and would include chartered accountants and tax experts. The Income Tax department had in June come out with a simplified tax return form for salaried class. Filers now have to disclose the total number of savings and the current bank accounts held by them at any time during the previous year (excluding dormant accounts). The tax department had come out with simplified ITR after experts raised objections to the 14 page form which was notified earlier in the year.

AAP to not target 2019 Punjab Assembly polls
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal today claimed that the party is not in the race for 2019 elections and asked its members to not run after polls even as he indicated that the party could get a Delhi-like opportunity in Punjab."We are not here for power politics. People ask if AAP is in race for 2019? We arenot in any race. Delhi's win was miraculous. We just have to keep working hard andhonestly. Don't run after elections. All indications are that you are going to get the same opportunity in Punjab," he said in his address at AAP's National Council meeting. The meeting where the party is expected to elect its new members of the National Executive, the second highest decision-making body of the party, began here today amid protests outside the venue by AAP members who claimed that they were not invited for the meet.

Fitch assigns stable outlook to home developers
Fitch Ratings Ltd on Monday assigned a stable outlook to Indian home developers in 2016, citing higher pre-sales, falling inventory levels and gradual pick-up in cashcollections. The realty firms will be able to slowly deleverage their balance sheets, the report added. “We expect Indian home builders’ inventory turnover ratio to improve in 2016 as pre-sales and cash collections gain traction. We also expect fewer new projectlaunches in 2016 as we think home builders are likely to focus on selling andcompleting existing projects first; that should also help improve inventory turnover,” the Fitch report said.

Four militants killed in two encounters in Kashmir
Four unidentified militants were killed on Monday in two separate encounters withsecurity forces in Kupwara and Anantnag districts of Kashmir, officials said in Srinagar. Three militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in Asghmuqam area of Anantnag district this afternoon.The gunbattle started when militants opened fire on security force personnel who had cordoned off Siligam village to carry out a search operation. In a separate operation in north Kashmir's Kupwara district, which entered its 11th day on Sunday, the security forces killed one militant while efforts were on to flush out his accomplices.

Modi leaves for Singapore after three-day Malaysia visit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today left for Singapore after wrapping up his three-day visit of to Malaysia during which he attended the ASEAN and East Asia Summitsbesides holding talks with his Malaysian counterpart. "Malaysian government madegreat arrangements over the last few days. Thank you PM @NajibRazak & people of Malaysia for the warmth," Prime Minister Modi tweeted before leaving for Singapore.

Qatar to waive $1 billion penalty on India for lower gas offtake
In a significant development, Qatar has agreed to waive USD 1 billion penalty on India for breaking a long-term LNG contract, and has also consented to change the pricing formula to reflect the slump in global energy rates. After months of intense negotiations, RasGas of Qatar has agreed to not to press for the USD 1 billion in penalty that Petronet LNG Ltd, India's biggest import of liquefied natural gas (LNG), has to pay for buying only 68 per cent of the contracted 7.5 million tons this year. Petronet is taking only 68 per cent of the volumes it agreed to in 25-year contracts with RasGas after a slump in global energy prices led to gas being available in spot or current market a roughly half that rate.

Secretary-level changes in ministry of external affairs
There have been several changes in ministry of external affairs. Senior diplomats Amar Sinha and Preeti Saran, India's Ambassadors to Afghanistan and Vietnam respectively, were today appointed as secretaries in MEA. Besides them, Sujata Mehta, currently Secretary (Economic Relations) in MEA, has been appointed as Secretary (West), in place of Navtej Sarna who takes up the new assignment as India's High Commissioner to the UK. Secretary (West) looks after affairs related to Europe and Africa regions. Sinha, a 1982 batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, has been appointed as Secretary (ER), in place of Mehta. Manpreet Vohra has been appointed in Sinha's place in Kabul, Afghanistan. Sinha's batchmate Saran will be Secretary (East), and will be responsible for matters related to Arab region, North Africa, South East Asia including Pacific island
nations.

Two-day Megacity Security Conference begins in Mumbai
A two-day long Megacity Security Conference by the US Consulate General, Mumbai in collaboration with the South Asia Centre of Atlantic Council, Washington DC and India Foundation, began here on Monday.The conference would be attended and addressed by US Ambassador to India Richard Verma later in the day. Briefing about the conference, an official statement issued by US Consulate, Mumbai stated that the conference will feature policymakers, law enforcement officials, security experts, and leading thinkers representing eight different countries, who will share first-hand experience dealing with security policy in some of the world's largest megacities such as Mumbai, New York, Istanbul, Chicago, Manila, Dhaka, Nairobi, and Mexico City.

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