taxes-2638814_1920

Mission: Nab Tax Evaders

 

It’s mission ‘catch tax evaders’ for the income tax watchdog. And justifiably so, as the number of tax evaders have doubled in the first half of 2017 over last year. TRAI is backing the open and free internet. Over 10% of all the medical products sold in low and middle income countries fail due to substandard quality, says a WHO report. And, in the golfing world, master golfer Tiger Woods is back in action, again.

 

1.16 lakh

What is it? The number of individuals and firms who have received income tax notices for having made cash deposits of above Rs 25 lakh in bank accounts post-demonetisation but failing to file returns.

Why is it important? The number of people violating income tax laws have more than doubled to 609 in the first six months of 2017-18, from 288 in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal. The number of convictions of those violating tax rules has gone up from 13 to 43 in the same period. Earlier this year, the department had decided to launch a large-scale data project by matching information in different databases to nab tax evaders.

Tell me more: A total of 2.4 lakh people who have made deposits of Rs 10-25 lakh and not filed returns are set to receive similar notices in the second phase.

 

11

What is it? The number of months since the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a consultation paper seeking to establish a net neutrality framework in India.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, the telecom regulator published a set of recommendations supporting the basic principles of open and free Internet. Its suggestions include prohibition of discriminatory content, excluding content delivery networks (telecom firms providing content within their network without accessing the public Internet) from regulation and the setting up of a watchdog to enforce net neutrality.

Tell me more: The International Telecommunication Union, a specialised agency of the United Nations, has formed a group of experts to look into the issue of net neutrality. Recently, the Federal Communications Commission in the United States released a proposal to end net neutrality regulations championed by former President Barack Obama.

 

10.5%

What is it? The rate of failure in all medical products used in low-income and middle-income countries, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Why is it important? A model developed by the University of Edinburgh estimates that 72,000 to 169,000 children may be dying each year due to the use of substandard and falsified antibiotics, while another estimates that substandard and falsified anti-malarials account for 116,000 additional deaths per year from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. About 3.16% of drugs sold in India were found to be ‘not of standard quality’ while 0.0245% were found to be spurious, according to the first such survey carried out by the health ministry recently.

Tell me more: In the last four years, WHO has received 1,500 reports of cases of substandard or falsified products, of which antimalarials and antibiotics were the most common ones.

 

3

What is it? The number of chairpersons that Air India has had in 2017. On Tuesday, the government announced Pradeep Singh Kharola would be replacing incumbent Rajiv Bansal as the new chairman and managing director of the state-run airline.

Why is it important? The recurrent change at the top is the exact opposite of continuity, which a business on the comeback trail needs. But the government move could also be planned with the objective of executing the complex task of privatising Air India, which it announced earlier this year and has commenced work on.

Tell me more: Kharola, 56, is an IAS officer from the 1985 batch and Karnataka cadre. An engineer by education, Kharola has had 27 stints since joining the civil services in August 1987. His last posting was Managing Director at the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation.

 

9

What is it? The number of months after which Tiger Woods will return to competitive golf, in yet another effort to return from yet another surgery. On Thursday, Woods, 41, will tee off at the Hero World Challenge, a tournament where his charity foundation is a key beneficiary.

Why is it important? His last comeback effort, in February, ended after just 18 holes. Once on pace to become the most decorated golfer ever in terms of number of majors, Woods has been beset by marital, legal and injury problems. A mellowed Woods, who has been seen on team managerial duties during this absence as a player, has confessed he has little idea on how effectively he might return from injury.

Tell me more: Woods has 14 majors, the second most in the history of golf, after Jack Nicklaus (18 majors). The last time Woods won a major was in 2008.

 

Read More

News in Numbers, Mar 30, 2017: Bills and losses

14 paise/minute

What is it? The least possible retail price for calls according to leading mobile players Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

Why is it important? Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has rejected the claim. This puts a spanner in the works of embattled telecom players. They had rallied around to protest call charges lower than the interconnect charge of 14 paise a minute. This is paid by the operator on whose network a call originates to the recipient network operator. At the centre of the storm is Reliance Jio, whose pricing is being termed as predatory as its ‘free’ consumer offers involves paying other networks the interconnect charge. It has ardently lobbied for dropping of even the interconnect charges to be able to price its products even lower. But it would hit the income of other networks for connecting Jio’s calls.

Tell me more: Trai will present its argument of rejecting interconnect charges as the minimum retail price to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal this week.

 

213 megawatts

What is it? India’s net exported power in April-February, 2017, turning it into a net exporter for the first time since exports began the mid-80s.

Why is it important? Even as states like Bihar continue to reel from scarce power supply, India turns net exporter, after commissioning new power lines through parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. It exported 5,798 megawatts to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and imported 5,585 megawatts from Bhutan.

Tell me more: India started exporting electricity in the mid-80s but remained a net importer so far. More cross-border linkages with higher voltage will raise the quantity.

 

4

What is it? The number of money bills, part the last GST-related statutes batch, passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, during the ongoing budget session of the Parliament.

Why is it important? The seminal tax reform, Goods and Services Tax, could now see the light of day as early as July 1, across India. GST will create a uniform indirect tax structure and making the states and Centre equal stakeholders in it through the GST council. With the last four bills — central GST bill, the integrated GST bill, the Union Territory GST bill, and the GST (compensation to states) bill — passed by the lower house, the Rajya Sabha has 14 days to make recommendations only on the laws (money bills).

Tell me more: Between April and May, the GST council will have to categorise goods and services in the four taxation slabs for GST — 5%, 12%, 28% and 28%.

 

5

What is it? The number of amendments with which the finance bill was passed in Rajya Sabha.

Why is it important? The amendments included those relating to additional powers to income tax officials and political funding by companies. These moves by the government were not only criticised for giving too much power to tax officials and reducing transparency, they were also criticised for using Finance Bill to pass far reaching reforms. Rajya Sabha has limited power over Money Bill, it can suggest changes, but Lok Sabha need not accept them. BJP has a majority in Lok Sabha.

Tell me more: Three amendments were moved by Digvijaya Singh of Congress and the remaining two by Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M)

 

Rs 12,000 crore

What is it? The projected loss to automobile sector, including manufacturers and dealers, if the sale of BS-III (those complying to Bharat Stage 3 emission norms) vehicles are stopped from April.

Why is it important? Supreme court banned the sales of all the BS-III vehicles effective April, saying emissions from these vehicles impact the health. Manufacturers still have 8.24 vehicles that comply to BS-III norms, and junking them would result in the losses. However, the Supreme Court said the deadline was set 6 years ago, and the industry was given enough time to prepare for the transition. The vehicles in stock include 96,724 commercial vehicles, 6,71,308 two-wheelers, 40,048 three-wheelers and 16,198 cars. They are now rushing to clear these inventories now.

Tell me more: BS III corresponds to Euro III norms. BS IV – corresponding to Euro IV – is slated to be imposed from April 1st 2017, and BS VI, with even higher standards is expected to come into force by 2020.

Read More

News in Numbers, Mar 07, 2017: Landing in a small town ✈

Rs 4,500 crore

What is it? The amount the government plans to spend on developing or upgrading 50 airports which were either underserved or unserved.

Why is it important? The government is going ahead with its plans to equip small regional airports/airstrips to ferry traffic, even as only 13 out of 125 airports under the Airports Authority of India’s (AAI) are profitable. Besides the funding for developing the new airports, the authorities will also spend further on incentivising flight operators with gap-funding. Fifteen more regional airports have to be upgraded besides the 50, according to AAI’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (named UDAN).

Tell me more: Fifteen airports will be refurbished in FY18 and FY19, and 20 more in FY20.

 

2 paise

What is it? The rate for one megabyte (MB) of data over WiFi at local public hotspots, as proposed by Trai, the telecom regulator.

Why is it important? This would help increase the demand and setting up of local public hotspots. With one-sixth of the world’s population, India’s share in WiFi hotspots is less than one-thousandth. By reducing the price of wireless Internet access from the existing 10 paise an MB in mobile telecom services, Trai is looking provide 800,000 additional hotspots to equal the global average of one hotspot for every 150 people.

Tell me more: Trai’s proposed local hotspots could be maintained by small entities, from small businesses, communities, individuals, to application providers. Local players’ involvement would also reduce the load on strained spectrum of established mobile operators.

 

$2.3 billion

What is it? The value of the sale of General Motors’ Opel/Vauxhall unit and its European financial arm to Peugeot-maker PSA Group.

Why is it important? It shows one of the largest car manufacturers in the world is changing lanes from a widespread but unprofitable presence to a less-global, but profitable one. A few years ago, the top three — Volkswagen, Toyota and GM — would eye the world-leader crown every year with units of cars sold. Selling its Europe unit would increase the gap between GM and the other two, but it would also free it of an arm that has incurred losses since 1999.

Tell me more: The Opel/Vauxhall brand contributed 11% of GM’s total revenue in 2016. After bankruptcy in 2009, GM’s home market in North America has done well.

 

Rs 259.8 per hour

What is it? The median gross hourly salary of women in India in 2016, according to the Monster Salary Index.

Why is it important? That is about 25% less than what men earned at Rs 345.8 per hour. While the gap has come down marginally compared to a year before, it highlights the ground that needs to be covered before India has fair and non-discriminatory workplace.

Tell me more: The gender gap is just one of the many indicators of gender inequality in the country. Infant mortality rate for female is higher, the expected years of schooling is lower, unemployment rates are higher, access to finance in terms of loans and deposits are lower.

 

$2.46 billion

What is it? Value of investments in Indian startups by private equity and venture capital firms in 2016, according to Grant Thornton.

Why is it important? This is down by about half from $4.97 billion in 2015, and indicates that investors are more cautious about the expectations of growth in the market. It also reflects the valuation markdowns that unicorns such as Flipkart faced in the recent months.

Tell me more: Overall investments by PE and VC investors dropped in 2016, with $14 billion invested across in 971 deals in 2016, from $16 billion invested in 1,045 deals a year before.

Read More

News in Numbers, Feb 20, 2017: The cost of a Tirupathi Laddu

Rs 2,500 crore

What is it? The estimated cost of re-verification of existing mobile subscribers through Aadhaar-based electronic know-your-customer process.

Why is it important? The attempt to weed out fake or forged identities used to secure telecom connections, especially wireless ones, will be a costly one. In January, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) proposed the e-KYC for Aadhaar-based ratification of users, and suggested incentives to help it.

Tell me more: In a letter to the Telecom Department, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) estimates that not just the cost, but the process would also require resources to rope in about 1,000 million subscribers.

 

26

What is it? The number of army personnel that died in the first 50 days of 2017.

Why is it important? The unrest in Kashmir from summer last year continues this year, triggering more counter-insurgency measures that claimed six soldiers in 2017. The rest of the security forces were killed in avalanches in the valley, a result of global warming. These deadly 50 days follow a year with the highest death count of 82 among the J&K forces since 2008.

Tell me more: But the counter-insurgency operations led to the death of 22 militants, the highest since 2010.

 

-$1,020 million

What is it? The difference in income of terror group, Islamic State, between 2014 and 2016.

Why is it important? The effects of political moves against ISIS, such as Operation Tidal Wave II, reduction in cross-border smuggling in Turkish and Kurdish-controlled areas in Iraq etc. and military opposition to its expansion are starting to show. Unlike other terror groups, donors play a negligible part in ISIS’ finances. Its territories yield natural resources, and properties, businesses and people to pillage and tax, for its to extract revenue from. But a shrinking territorial grasp has hit its coffers too.

Tell me more: Its biggest source of money — looting, confiscations and fines — have declined from 52% of its income of $970-1,890 million in 2014 to 22% of its  $520-870 million income in 2016, according to a report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence .

 

Rs 140 crore

What is it? The annual loss to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, the trust that manages the famous Tirumala temple in Andhra Pradesh, on account of laddus, an offering made to the deity of the temple, and sold at subsidised rates or given away free to the pilgrims.

Why is it important?  It costs Rs 32.50 to make a laddu and it’s sold for Rs 25 for the pilgrims in general, at Rs 10 for those who opt for free entry into the temple, and for free to those who walk up the hill. About 70 lakh people reach the temple every year by foot. About 4 crore to 5 crore people visit the temple annually.

 

Tell me more: TTD earns over Rs 2000 every year, primarily from hundi collection.

 

~ 50%

What is it? The share of coal in total exports of North Korea to China.

Why is it important? China has banned coal imports from North Korea following the country’s claim that it has successfully tested ballistic missiles recently. China also accounts for over two thirds of North Korea’s exports. The move is expected to cause a shock to the struggling North Korean economy under Kim Jong-un and aimed to increase pressure on the country to stop its nuclear programme.

Tell me more: North Korea tested a medium long range ballistic missile on February 12, which landed in the Sea of Japan. China has been reducing trade with North Korea partly due to local economic compulsions and partly because of international pressure to impose trade sanctions on the country.

Read More