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Black money in Swiss banks: India, Switzerland discuss activation of automatic exchange of information

India and Switzerland discussed the activation of automatic exchange of information relating to black money stashed by Indians in secret accounts in Swiss banks. The issue figured prominently during talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis here, officials said. Black money has been a major issue in India and banks in Switzerland have long been perceived as one of the safest havens to park such funds due to their their famed secrecy walls for years.

“Following on Indian government’s drive to curb black money, the ministers discussed the activation of automatic exchange of information,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement. A key parliamentary panel in Switzerland last year had approved an automatic information exchange pact between the two countries. The information that could be exchanged under this framework would include account number, name, address, date of birth, tax identification number, interest, dividend, receipts from insurance policies, credit balance in accounts and proceeds from sale of financial assets.

The MEA said both sides also reviewed the progress on trade and economic partnership agreement which India and the European free trade area countries are currently negotiating. “The two ministers reiterated their strong commitment to early finalization of the agreement while showing flexibility on each other’s concerns,” it said. The MEA said Swaraj and Cassis held “cordial discussions” on various aspects of bilateral ties as well as important regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.

They also took stock of the cooperation in key areas of interest such as trade and investment, education, information technology and tourism. The annual bilateral trade has reached around USD 20 billion in last financial year. “Closer cooperation in the areas of skill development, renewable energy, traditional Indian medicine and climate change has the potential of mutual benefit and positive contribution at the global level,” the MEA said.

It said Switzerland recognizes Ayurveda as a system of medicine and the two ministers discussed ways to make it more popular in the European country. The Swiss Foreign Minister is scheduled to visit Varanasi tomorrow.

ODOP summit 2018: uttar pradesh set to become a trillion-dollar economy, says President Ram Nath Kovind

President Ramnath Kovind on Friday inaugurated the “One District One Product (ODOP)” summit in the state capital and expressed hope that the changing environment in Uttar Pradesh would make the state a trillion-dollar economy sooner than later.

Speaking at the inauguration session, the President said he can feel the excitement among the summit participants, which was reflective of how the mood and atmosphere in the state had changed in the recent past.

After inaugurating the summit the president also inspected the ODOP exhibition of all the 75 districts and by pressing a button gave loan worth Rs 1,006 crore to small-time businessmen.

Lauding the holding of such a summit by the state government, the President also remembered Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Kovind further said that Uttar Pradesh was a state with a lot of talent and added that the need of the hour was to harness it. He also congratulated Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for coming up with the idea of ODOP.

In his address, the Chief Minister said soon after the BJP took over the reins of the government in the state, the atmosphere had changed and now investors were making a beeline to invest here.

Through ODOP, he said, every year 5 lakh persons would be given employment in the state every year.

“We are promoting talent, business and for start-ups have earmarked a fund of Rs 250 crore in our budget,” Adityanath stated.

“What we inherited from the preceding government in known to everybody and we have tried out best to turn it around,” the Chief Minister said while also claiming a definite change in the law and order situation of the state.

There would be eight sessions in the summit covering sectors, like credit and finance, craft and tourism, agro and foods, and handloom and textiles and would discuss in detail the ways to improve marketing processes and ensure quality through use of technology, an official told IANS.

GST compensation worth Rs 52,077 crore paid to states, union territories, says government

The Union government said a GST compensation totalling Rs 52,077 crore has been paid to states and UTs during the 11-month period through May 2018. Under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), implemented on July 1, 2017, the Centre has to compensate states/UTs for loss of their revenue on account of implementation of the new indirect tax regime. “… states/UTs have been paid GST compensation of Rs 48,178 crore for the period July 2017 to March 2018 and of Rs 3,899 crore for the period of April-May 2018,” Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

Total taxes collected under GST works out to be Rs 11.3 lakh crore in the 13-month period ending July 2018. The maximum GST collection was Rs 1.03 lakh crore in April. The collection dipped to Rs 94,016 crore in May and has been gradually increasing in the subsequent months.

In another reply, Shukla said the Centre is taking various steps to check evasion as well as educate the tax payers about the new tax regime and encouraging voluntary compliance.

Modi govt may get a bonanza from RBI mid-year, interim dividend being considered

The option of interim dividend from the Reserve Bank of India during the financial year is open and decision in this regard may be taken later this year, Economic Affairs Secretary S C Garg said. The RBI board decided to pay Rs 50,000 crore as dividend to the government for the financial year ended June 2018. RBI follows July-June fiscal year.

Explaining the break up of dividend announced by RBI, Garg said, “You declare dividend after year closes. RBI financial year closes on June 30, now they are finalising accounts and they declared Rs 50,000 crore as dividend. Rs 10,000 crore (as interim dividend) was received last year (FY18), Rs 40,000 crore will come (FY19).”

When asked if there is scope for interim dividend, he said the option remains open. “Like we did last year there may be interim dividend this year. The review could happen later may be December, ” he said. He said the RBI dividend announcement is close to estimates.

As per the Budget Estimate, the government projected to collect Rs 54,817.25 crore as dividend or Surplus of Reserve Bank of India, Nationalised Banks and Financial Institutions. The government realised Rs 51,623.24 crore under this head in the previous fiscal.

It is to be noted that the RBI transferred a surplus of Rs 30,659 crore as dividend to the government for the year ended June 30, 2017, which was less than half of what it paid in the previous year (Rs 65,876 crore). The surplus payout in June 2017 year was low on account of expenses incurred on printing of new currency notes following demonetisation effected on November 9, 2016.

Under the RBI Act, 1934, the central bank is required to pay the government its surplus after making provisions for bad and doubtful debts, depreciation in assets and, contribution to staff and superannuation fund among others.


After demonetisation shock, Rs 50,000 crore breather to Modi government from RBI this year

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday approved the transfer of the surplus amount of Rs 50,000 crore for the year ended June 30, 2018, to the Government of India, which is Rs 5,000 higher than the budgeted amount of Rs 45,000 crore. The RBI follows July-June financial year.

The dividend of Rs 50,000 crore to the government has come as a breather after a low dividend transfer last year (July 2017- June 2018), which economists said, was due to additional costs incurred on printing and managing excess liquidity after demonetisation.

Last year, the RBI transferred only Rs 30,659 crore, against the budgeted amount of Rs 58,000 crore. The transfer was half of the Rs 65,876 crore in the previous year 2016-17 and lowest since 2011-12.

“The Central Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank of India, at its meeting held on August 8, 2018, approved the transfer of surplus amounting to ₹ 500 billion for the year ended June 30, 2018 to the Government of India,” the RBI said in a statement on Wednesday.

The government tried getting additional Rs 13,000 crore from the central bank earlier this year, following which the RBI transferred Rs 10,000 crore as interim dividend for FY18. For the government, which met its revised FY18 fiscal deficit target, an additional fund of Rs 5,000 crore will assist in sticking to FY19 target as well, Saugata Bhattacharya, Economist, Axis Bank told ET Now.

Despite the additional Rs 5,000 crore, the RBI dividend is lower than previous years 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17. In the 83-year-long history, the central bank transferred the highest ever dividend in 2015-16, which was Rs 66,000 crore. The RBI dividend was Rs 65,896 crore in 2014-15; Rs 66,000 crore in 2015-16; Rs 65,876 crore in 2016-17.

As per the RBI Act, the central bank must transfer the balance of its profits, after making provision for bad and doubtful debts, depreciation in assets, contributions to staff and superannuation funds.

Before every Union Budget, the government and the RBI deliberate upon the amount to be transferred as the dividend. The government puts forward its expectation in the budget and the RBI then announces the actual amount of dividend transfer in August after its calculation.

Modicare set for big i-day launch? 28 states on board, insurance companies not! what Ayushman Bharat CEO says

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is most likely to launch ambitious Ayushman Bharat programme from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15, and so far 28 states have come on board for implementing the world’s largest healthcare cover plan of Rs 5 lakh to 10 crore families. However, eight states and insurance companies are yet to join the scheme, which has lately become popular as Modicare.

Giving an update on the preparation of the scheme, Ayushman Bharat CEO Indu Bhushan told CNBC-TV18 that all but six states have chosen the trust-based mode for providing health care coverage to beneficiaries. A trust-based model is where instead of an insurance company, a trust or the government itself pays for the claims made. 28 states have joined, while 8 states including Kerala, Odisha are yet to give nod to the implementation of the programme.

Ayushman Bharat — National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) — was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Budget 2018. As just a few days are left for its launch, Indu Bhushan told the news channel that a three-level Information Technology (IT) backbone for the programme is ready. “We are testing it. We will be ready in a couple of days,” Ayushman Bharat CEO said.

He said that for hospital empanelment, 7,400 applications have been received by the government. Moreover, about 25,000 wellness centres have been approved, of which, 5,000 are operational now. Earlier this month, Narendra Modi reviewed the progress of Ayushman Bharat and reportedly asked officials to ensure minimal fraud.

Meanwhile, Haryana government has announced that it will launch the programme in the state on August 15 only, while Madhya Pradesh may roll it out on September 25. Since some states are yet to come on board, some media reports suggested Modicare may give Independence Day launch a miss and the Prime Minister may only share the timeline of the launch.

Lok Sabha approves changes: GST cess surplus can now be shared

In a move that would partly address the goods and services tax (GST) revenue deficit for the Centre and come in aid of states worried over stagnant growth in their own tax (non-GST) revenue, the Lok Sabha on Thursday approved changes to the relevant law to allow both to dip into the surplus in the GST Compensation Fund at any time during a financial year. The law has hitherto allowed division of the surplus only after a five-year “transition period” (till June 2022), during which states are constitutionally guaranteed a GST revenue growth (over the base year, 2015-16) of 14% per year, meaning any shortfall from the threshold will be compensated from the fund.

To obtain the proceeds of the compensation, a cess is levied on some demerit/sin goods along with luxury items, over and above the GST rates. The surplus that accrued to the fund since the July 2017 launch of GST is around Rs 34,250 crore. With the amendment to the GST — Compensation to States Act, this amount can now be divided between the Centre and states on a 50:50 basis. The horizontal distribution of the states’ share would be in line with their relevant base-year revenues.

The Centre is witnessing a shortfall of 20% (~Rs 10,000 crore per month) against its budget target for central GST. Some Rs 17,000 crore to flows from the compensation fund to the Consolidated Fund of India will help its fiscal consolidation effort. “Ad hoc disbursal of compensation cess to the Centre and states indicates an excess collection of cess beyond the losses contemplated by states. This calls for a justification, validation and then rationalisation of cess as its levy was only to compensate the states for losses arising out of GST implementation,” said Rajat Mohan, partner at AMRG & Associates.

“Ongoing allocations to the states and the Centre would enable deficit states to be compensated on a timely basis and strengthen the spirit of cooperative federalism which the Centre and states have displayed in the entire GST reform process,” said MS Mani, partner, Deloitte India.

Since February, the GST Council has provisionally settled Rs 85,000 crore of floating integrated GST in two tranches between Centre and states, which has brought down the pressure on compensation fund. The aggregated monthly state GST collection for avoiding compensation shot up to over Rs 49,000 crore in FY19 from Rs 43,000 crore in the last fiscal.

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