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‘Paradise’ Lost, Yet Again

 

Yet another cache of several million corporate records reveal where the rich and famous hide their money. A welfare fund meant for construction workers is allegedly being misused. Several companies struck-off by the Registrar played the system. Quite well. 

 

10%

What is it? The share of the Rs 29,000 crore fund meant for welfare of construction workers spent for the said purpose.

Why is it important? Much of the funds have been used to buy laptops and washing machines for construction workers, which the Supreme Court said were being frittered away. The top court was hearing a public interest litigation by an NGO that alleged that the statutory cess levied on real estate firms for the welfare of construction workers was being misused as there was no proper mechanism to identify beneficiaries. About 21.5 million workers were registered with various welfare boards, as of December 2015.

Tell me more: In response to these details given by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Supreme Court has asked the Union Labour Secretary to appear before it on November 10 to explain how the fund was being implemented.

 

66,000

What is it? Number of India-related records in the cache of 13.4 million corporate records in the Paradise Papers, which started making headlines yesterday.

Why is it important? The Paradise Papers is the fourth largest data leak of hidden and veiled, sometimes illegal, financial dealings of the rich and the powerful routed through tax havens. The Indian names featuring in the Paradise Papers leaks include electrical appliances firm Havells, corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and Dr Ashok Seth of Fortis Escort, among others.

Tell me more: The Paradise Papers comprise leaks from two offshore service providers, Bermuda’s Appleby and Singapore’s Asiaciti, and company registries of 19 tax havens.

 

Rs 17,000 crore

What is it? The amount deposited and withdrawn by 35,000 companies after demonetisation (announced on November 8), according to preliminary data collected by the government from 56 banks.

Why is it important? These companies, which together held 58,000 bank accounts, have been struck off the Registrar of Companies for suspect transactions. They have also been debarred from selling and transferring movable and immovable properties till their status is restored. The government, which has come under criticism for demonetisation, has said this exercise should be seen as a part of its drive against black money.

Tell me more: In all, 224,000 companies were struck off after demonetisation. And 309,000 directors were disqualified as their companies did not file financial statements and/or annual reports for three straight years between 2013-14 and 2015-16.

 

16

What is it? The number of years for which anti-corruption watchdog Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has sought details related to all frauds involving Rs 3 crore or more reported to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by public sector banks.

Why is it important? The CVC intends to analyse the modus operandi followed by defrauders with the aim of making changes to prevent fraudulent cases, at a time when the Indian government is promoting the Digital India programme. The CVC plans to list the ways in which frauds are committed on a portal for bankers.

Tell me more: As many as 3,870 fraud cases involving Rs 17,750 crore were reported between April and December 2016. Around 450 employees were involved in these cases.

 

8

What is it? The number of points by which Manchester City lead the English Premier League title race.

Why is it important? The Pep Guardiola-led club increased its lead by three points after this weekend’s matches. City is off to its best start ever and is looking good to win its first title since the 2013-14 season.

Tell me more: Four of the top six teams in top-flight English club football squared off on Sunday. City beat Arsenal 3-1 at home and Chelsea beat Manchester United, which is currently second in the standings, 1-0.

 

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Aadhaar: Not so unique

$23.35 billion

What is it? The estimate, on the higher end, of black money, or money illicitly taken out of the India in 2014.

Why is it important? Curbing black money, both its movement and creation, has been an integral part of the Modi-government’s propaganda. It was the reason initially furnished by the Prime Minister when introducing last year’s demonetisation, before switching to the cause of a cashless economy. In 2014, the year the government came to power, there was also an illicit fund inflow of $101 billion (on the higher side).

Tell me more: Illegal fund flows from developing countries totalled $1 trillion in 2014, according to the watchdog, Global Financial Integrity, which came out with the study.

 

135 million

What is it? The estimated number of Aadhaar card numbers leaked through four government portals.

Why is it important? While the parent data governing agency, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), has maintained the information remains secure, studies such as this expose the gross mishandling by government agencies with access to Aadhaar data, which is set to become sensitive, that fraudsters would be eager to misuse. The debate around Aadhaar’s information security has become more intense as the Union government attempts to link it mandatorilywith other key documents such as passports, Pan cards, flight and train tickets, with implications such as enabling financial transactions with just an Aadhaar proof. The Supreme Court is hearing a PIL against why it should not be linked to Pan cards. The reasons against linking Aadhaar mandatorily are many, some mentioned here and here.

Tell me more: The study by thinktank, Centre for Internet and Society, reveals Aadhaar details linked by the National Social Assistance Programme, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Chandranna Bima Scheme, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, Daily Online Payment Reports of NREGA, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh stand exposed. It says the UIDAI is ignoring the swathes of data on public display.

 

14

What is it? The number of new warehouses e-commerce giant, Amazon, plans to add in India.

Why is it important? The Flipkart-competitor will be doubling its storage capacity with this move. A few days back, Amazon chief, Jeff Bezos, reiterated he would continue increasing India investments, having committed to spend $5 billion.

Tell me more: The new warehouses would serve tier II and III cities, as the company looks to complete the last mile in the hinterland.

 

>12,000

What is it? The average number of suicides by farmers each year since 2013.

Why is it important? The government informed the Supreme Court about the death toll. In 2015, this was 9.4% of all suicide victims as 8,007 farmer-cultivators and 4,595 agricultural labourers took their lives. Two years of drought still continue to haunt farmers, with protests as recent as in April.

Tell me more: The Centre was furnishing the details in a case on minimum support price for agricultural produce and the inefficacy of crop insurance.

52.5

What is it? The value of a privately-monitored manufacturing activity index for the month of April.

Why is it important? The Nikkei Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index by Markit stayed above 50, signifying expansion in the sector. It maintained the same level as in March with 52.5, making December’s contraction a distant memory. Growth in new orders led to the output increase.

Tell me more: It is in line with the government’s estimate of growth in output of eight core manufacturing sectors, released yesterday.

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News in Numbers, Mar 02, 2017: Hiring to strain finances 💰😓

Rs 295-299

What is it? The price band of shares of Avenue Supermarts, owner of the profitable supermarket chain, D-Mart, that would be sold in its initial public offering starting March 8.

Why is it important? The upcoming IPO, worth Rs 1,870 crore, has evinced interest as it is one of the few organised retail chains, especially in grocery segment, which makes a profit. In 2015-16, it made a profit of Rs 321 crore on a revenue of Rs 8,605 crore.

Tell me more: While Maharashtra and Gujarat contribute over 81% of its revenue, D-Mart also has footprint in Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh.

 

4-52%

What is it? The sales growth range of passenger cars across seven manufacturers in February, 2017.

Why is it important? Passenger car sales are picking up after being hit in the last two months of calendar 2016, following the cash crunch. A measure of consumer discretionary spending, the growth was fuelled by higher shipments to dealers and new models for some manufacturers.

Tell me more: Growth for Ford India was the highest at 52%, albeit on a small base of 8,338 cars. Maruti Suzuki, selling 120,735 cars, managed to grow in double-digits over 2016. Mahindra and Mahindra was the only company to report a decline of 13% owing to demonetisation.

 

56.67 million

What is it? The number of Indians suffering from depression, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Why is it important? India has only 0.3 psychiatrists per 100,000 population, whereas incidence of depression is 4.5% of the population. Lack of mental health facilities, and concentration of doctors and hospitals in urban areas, mean a large number of people with mental health issues will go untreated for a long time.

Tell me more: The total estimated number of people living with depression increased by 18.4% between 2005 and 2015, according to the ‘Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders — Global Health Estimates’ report.

 

2.8 lakh

What is it? The number of hiring by central government in next financial year starting April 2017.

Why is it important? This will bloat government expenses and potentially suck money away from developmental schemes, unless tax revenues match the increased outgo. Salaries (excluding defence personnel) and pension payment totals Rs 317,529 lakh crore, or 25% of tax collections in 2017-18.

Tell me more: Current size of central government employees is 3.53 million.

 

Rs 2,500 crore

What is it? The amount of black money declared so far under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY). The last date under this scheme is March 31, 2017.

Why is it important? Tax authorities have identified 1.8 million taxpayers who have deposited more than Rs 5 lakh in cash during the two months’ period in November and December when old high value notes were replaced with new ones. Tepid response to the scheme could be an indicator these taxpayers are confident of explaining their sources of income, or waiting till the end of this month.

Tell me more: A flat tax rate of 50% would be levied on income declared under the PMGKY, and another 25% will be parked in an interest-free deposit for four years.

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News in Numbers, Feb 08, 2017: Infosys: a question of governance

$11 million

What is it? Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka’s salary, including variable component.

Why is it important? The founders of Infosys have reportedly raised concerns over the remuneration of the offshoring giant’s first non-promoter CEO, besides the severance packages given to Rajiv Bansal, former CFO, and David Kennedy, former compliance officer and the appointment of Punita Sinha, wife of Union minister Jayant Sinha, as an independent director.

Tell me more: Vishal Sikka’s $11 million package is linked to Infosys achieving $20 billion revenue target. Rajiv Bansal received a severance package of Rs 17.38 crore in 2015, while Kennedy received $868,250 when he quit end of last year.

Rs 16,200 crore

What is it? The detected amount of black money stashed away by Indians in foreign accounts, following revelations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)

Why is it important? Demonetisation revived questions about efforts to recover illegal funds squirrelled away in accounts abroad. The government shared the total illegal money tracked so far, even though it could not estimate the total quantity.

 

Tell me more: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley mentioned the government could track Rs 8,000 crore worth of credits in offshore accounts by Indians named in the ICIJ report, while in about two years through systematic investigations, it could bring to tax Rs 8,200 crore in black money deposited abroad in secret bank accounts in HSBC.

 

96%

What is it? The record disposal rate of grievances of the Income Tax department.

Why is it important? The IT department proved to be more technologically savvy than many of its peers. It has redressed over 20,000 complaints last year since the launch of its ‘e-nirvan’ service for taxpayer grievances.

Tell me more: The resolved complaints between July and September, 2016 were 9,444 while in October-December, 2016, they were 11,345, making organisation the most efficient on the government’s Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System.

 

101

What is it? The number of foreign satellites Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) will launch next week (February 15), mounted on its trusty PSLV-C37 rocket.

Why is it important? As private players increase their play in space exploration around the globe, costs will play a crucial part as government funding won’t remain the main source. Isro, even though a government agency, has one of the lowest price tags for services that other countries can avail. Elon Musks’ SpaceX’s Falcon-9 satellite launch can cost $60 million, low by global standards, but Isro’s PSLV can be launched at one-third the cost.

 

Tell me more: In addition to three Indian satellites mounted on the rocket, the 101 foreign nano-satellites, taking up 600 kgs on the rocket, will earn the space agency half of the total cost for the launch. Isro has been earning foreign exchange by accommodating other countries and till July, 2015, it had earned Rs 637.35 crore. In June, 2016, it had launched another 17.

 

20

What is it? The number of days of paid leave Facebook workers will get to bereave a family member

Why is it important? This comes at a time when conversations on paid leave in US are mostly around births, and not deaths. Only 60% of private companies in the US give paid leaves for mourning, and only for a few days, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO wrote in the social networking site. Given the influence Facebook has, it could lead to other companies following its footsteps

Tell me more: Facebook employees will have 20 days to mourn the death of an immediate family member, and 10 to mourn the death of an extended family member. They will also have up to  six weeks to take care of a sick relative, (and three days off in case of short term illnesses).

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