Corruption at lower level has peaked up in India
NEW DELHI, April 12: PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday lamented that “corruption” at lower levels of bureaucracy at Centre and largely in States has increased manifold even under Prime Minister Modi whereas it virtually disappeared at senior levels in the Indian federal structure.
Chamber’s President Anil Khaitan while speaking at a Conference on “Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016: Concerns and Challenges” exuded confidence that this Act would amount to removing black money stored in real estate sector and therefore, suggested that more legislation of this nature are called for to either root out corruption and eliminate the growing menace of black money. However, each provision should not be laced with provision of imprisonment.
According to him, corruption under the present leadership of Prime Minister Modi whose integrity and ferocious corruption free reputation should have led to rooting out of corruption even at lower levels of bureaucracy both at Centre and States on the contrary it has stoked manifold.
The businesses, particularly in the MSME segment which the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry represents in large number are quite aggrieved and hurtful as it had anticipated with Modi becoming the Prime Minister of India close to four years ago that this segment would be relieved of mounting corruption but the ground reality that still persist is that the lower levels of bureaucratic functionaries are still soaked in corruption.
Khaitan hoped and expressed confidence that the Prime Minister Modi would take note of this sad affair which continues even in larger chunk and accordingly take corrective measures even at block level of each Indian State.
The Conference which was presided over by former Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice, P K Malhotra pointed out saying that if Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 is implemented in the right spirit, it will serve the intended cause that will do a great good to the nation in particular.
Among others who were also present on the occasion comprised, Chairman and Co-Chairmen, Company Law and Corporate Governance Committee, PHD Chamber, Pavan Kumar Vijay and Mr. Vikram Singh Mehta and Mr. Raj K Agarwal; Advocate, Ex-Member, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Mr. Ashwani Taneja including PHD Chamber’s Director, Mr. Abhi Narayan Mishra.
Estonia ranked second in the global transformation index
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, April 1: Estonia is ranked second out of 129 countries in the global transformation index, a ranking compiled by the Bertelsmann Stiftung to measure each country’s performance in terms of political and economic transformation.
According to the index, Estonia has largely recovered from the economic recession of 2008 and 2009. “This recovery was aided by the innovativeness and efficiency of both the public and private sectors,” the German foundation says. “Foreign investors have remained attracted to Estonia due to its openness, streamlined government, strong rule of law and business-friendly environment.”
The country’s economic output has increased despite sluggish growth in the European Union. “The government’s financial position continues to be favorable, thanks to the lowest public debt in the European Union. Yet, there are challenges linked to its small size and the openness of its economy. Economic growth is dependent on the inflow of foreign investment and external demand, both of which have been weak since the recession. Continued economic stagnation and political turbulence in the European Union and beyond as well as an increasingly aggressive Russia remain substantial risks.”
The index also notes that the Estonian political system has remained stable over the last decade, and asserts that since 2012, there have been signs that the “civil society is becoming more politically active”.
On the other hand, the “fact that civil society has become more vocal does not necessarily mean that it is particularly influential or effective, especially given the still low overall levels of civic participation. Often, interest groups focus on lobbying the president to veto legislation, due to a perception that the government – and by extension, the parliament – is not engaged in genuine consultations with civil society.”
Bertelsmann also points out that interethnic relations between the ethnic Estonian majority and Russian-speaking minority have not significantly improved over the last decade.
The best country by its transformative performance, according to the Bertelsmann Stiftung, is the Czech Republic. Taiwan comes third, after Estonia, and Lithuania is ranked fourth. Latvia comes eight and Russia 70th.
The Bertelsmann Stiftung is an independent foundation that promotes “reform processes” and “the principles of entrepreneurial activity” to build a “future-oriented society”. The foundation’s transformation index measures developing and transitional countries’ performance in terms of political and economic transformation. The index places political decision-makers’ “steering capability at the heart of its analysis and, as a result, is the only index in the world that measures and compares the quality of governance with self-collected data”, the foundation said.
Petrol price hits 4-year high at Rs 73.73 a litre, diesel at highest level
NEW DELHI, April 1: Petrol price hit a four-year high of Rs 73.73 a litre on Sunday while diesel rates touched an all-time high of Rs 64.58 in the national capital, renewing calls for the government to cut excise tax rates.
State-owned oil firms, which have been since June last year revising auto fuel prices daily, on Sunday raised petrol and diesel rates by 18 paise per litre each in Delhi, according to a price notification.
Petrol in the national capital now costs Rs 73.73 a litre, the highest since September 14, 2014 when rates had hit Rs 76.06. Diesel price at Rs 64.58 is the highest ever, with previous high of Rs 64.22 being on February 7, 2018.
The Oil Ministry had earlier this year sought a reduction in excise duty on petrol and diesel to cushion the impact rising international oil rates but Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget presented on February 1 ignored those calls.
India has the highest retail prices of petrol and diesel among South Asian nations as taxes account for half of the pump rates.
Jaitley had raised excise duty nine times between November 2014 and January 2016 to shore up finances as global oil prices fell, but then cut the tax just once in October last year by Rs 2 a litre.
Subsequent to that excise duty reduction, the Centre had asked states to also lower VAT but just four of them -- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh -- reduced rates while others including BJP-ruled ones ignored the call.
The central government had cut excise duty by Rs 2 per litre in October 2017, when petrol price reached Rs 70.88 per litre in Delhi and diesel Rs. 59.14. Because of the reduction in excise duty, diesel prices had on October 4, 2017 come down to Rs 56.89 per litre and petrol to Rs 68.38 per litre. However, a global rally in crude prices pushed domestic fuel prices far higher than those levels.
The October 2017 excise duty cut cost the government Rs 26,000 crore in annual revenue and about Rs 13,000 crore during the remaining part of the current fiscal year.
The government had between November 2014 and January 2016 raised excise duty on petrol and diesel on nine occasions to take away gains arising from plummeting global oil prices. In all, duty on petrol rate was hiked by Rs 11.77 per litre and that on diesel by 13.47 a litre in those 15 months that helped government’s excise mop up more than double to Rs 242,000 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 99,000 crore in 2014-15.
State-owned oil companies -- Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation -- in June last year dumped the 15-year old practice of revising rates on the 1st and 16th of every month . Instead, they adopted a daily price revision system to instantly reflect changes in cost. Since then, prices are revised on a daily basis.