Friday November 15, 2019

A Norwegian Diplomat vehicle held for Artifacts Smuggling in Israel

IAA confirmed the amount of antiquities as 10 kilograms, releasing a picture that “showed a mound of small coins and around a dozen small figurines.”

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Antiquities found in a Norwegian diplomatic vehicle at the Allenby border crossing, May 31, 2016. (Israel Tax Authority). Image source: Timesof Israel.com
  • Antiquities smuggling is a recurrent problem in Israel
  • Most of the coins recovered were from the Hellenistic and Roman eras
  • The valuables were seized while a senior Norwegian diplomat was in the car

A Norwegian diplomat vehicle carrying a haul of antiquities consisting of coins, sculptures, statuettes, and other artifacts concealed in cardboard boxes was arrested at Allenby Bridge on Monday, June 6.

The valuables were seized while a senior Norwegian diplomat was in the car, travelling between Jerusalem and Jordan. “Following Norway’s permission to the Israeli MFA for the custom authorities to search the vehicle, custom officials stated to have found artifacts in the car. A locally employed driver was detained by Israeli authorities,” reported Jerusalem Post.

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The officials along with the driver were arrested at the scene but were later granted conditional release by the Jerusalem Magistrate Court after posting bail. The Israeli Tax Authority named the driver as Issa Nagam, a resident of Beit Hanina in east Jerusalem.

Israeli Tax Authority officials handed the artifacts over to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) for furthering details on the items. Initially, it was reported that the articles found were of “great value”, with no further information on the origin of the precious figurines.

The Allenby Bridge border crossing seen from the Jordanian side. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
The Allenby Bridge border crossing seen from the Jordanian side. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Antiquities smuggling is in fact a recurrent problem in Israel, where precious items are sold illegally to collectors both inside and outside the region. They are often used to launder money in villages near West Bank and Bar Kochba-era tunnels.

IAA later confirmed the amount of antiquities as 10 kilograms, releasing a picture that “showed a mound of small coins and around a dozen small figurines.”

“Most of the coins were from the Hellenistic and Roman eras. The bulk was minted by Judea’s Hasmonean Kings and by King Herod,” said an IAA spokesperson.

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The Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv told the Times of Israel, “Norway takes this incident very seriously.” An internal probe has been launched by the Foreign Embassy to investigate how a diplomat vehicle was used for an illegal activity.

“We are aware that diplomatic vehicles from other missions have been subject to similar incidents. In addition to the handling by Israeli authorities, we have initiated an internal process,” said the Norwegian Embassy.

-by Maariyah Siddiquee, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @MaariyahSid

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What Are the Benefits of Introducing GST in India?

GST has enabled small businesses to simplify their tax return by introducing the Composition Scheme under GST

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GST
The GST created a unified tax structure and provided businesses with certainty and transparency. 

The Goods and Services Tax is a consumption tax that has changed the way India does indirect taxation. The GST was under consideration for a very long time. The tax structure which India had before the advent of the GST was quite complicated and extremely convoluted.

There were many taxes which were administered by a myriad of governing bodies, some going down to the city level. This created a lot of problems for businesses and consumers alike. Not only did businesses have to employ people to figure out and compute the tax, but they also had to figure out who to pay it to.

GST
Simplification of small business was a priority which is why, for example, the Composition Scheme under GST was introduced. This scheme helps small businesses reduce red tape and file more straightforward tax returns.

This created a drag on the economy and took money out of productive uses. All of this changed with the introduction of the GST tax. The GST created a unified tax structure and provided businesses with certainty and transparency.

Simplification of small business was a priority which is why, for example, the Composition Scheme under GST was introduced. This scheme helps small businesses reduce red tape and file more straightforward tax returns.

Some of the main benefits of the Goods and Services Tax system are:

1. Simplification of the Tax Code:

The pre-GST era was characterized by a complex and murky tax structure in which companies had to navigate as best they could. There were many layers of taxes such as VAT, Cess, Central Excise Duty as well as local taxes at the city level, which needed to be paid when a product or service was delivered to the customer.

This has now been simplified with the introduction of the GST. Now companies need to keep track of one single tax. They can now file taxes with a single entity in a secure manner.

2. Ease of Doing Business:

The implementation of GST has brought India up the ease of doing business rankings. Having a convoluted and complex tax structure with the manual filing of taxes creates a massive volume of paperwork.

Not only was there a lot of paperwork, but offline tax filing also created scope for corruption. GST has changed all of that with the introduction of one single tax under a single tax authority. It is now a much more streamlined process which is easier for businesses to navigate.

It is also essential to have a streamlined tax process for attracting foreign investors, so that has helped with Foreign Direct Investment in India.

3. Double Taxation:

Pre-GST, there was a problem of cascading taxation, wherein taxes would be piled on top of each other, leading to double taxation. A lot of the time, businesses and consumers had to pay a tax on top of another tax.

This was because there was no way for businesses to claim an input tax credit for every step of the way. GST has changed that entirely by introducing a system where each every step of production of a product is recorded, so taxes are only added incrementally, and double taxation is avoided.

Also, small businesses faced a daunting task of navigating the complex tax system, and the GST has enabled small businesses to simplify their tax return by introducing the Composition Scheme under GST. This has been a significant benefit of GST.

4. Tax Compliance:

Tax compliance has always been an issue in India, under the older tax system where tax filing was mostly done manually, there was a lot of tax evasion and under-invoicing.

Since there was very little that the government could do to track the production of goods. With the advent of the GST, the way the system is designed, it is much easier to track the production of products through the various invoices uploaded by businesses.

The Input Tax Credit system also incentivizes companies to report the number of goods and services used so that they can claim Input Tax Credit. This has been a positive development for tax collection.

5. Increased Tax Collections:

With increasing tax compliance, there is a potential for increasing tax collections. With the increased tax collection, the government can spend more money on important public services like health, safety, etc.

This is also one of the most important benefits of having a tax system that allows higher rates of compliance.

GST
The Goods and Services Tax is a consumption tax that has changed the way India does indirect taxation. The GST was under consideration for a very long time. Pixabay

6. Foreign Investment:

In a globalized world, it is vital to attract capital from around the world. Top companies who want to invest in a country look for stable and transparent tax regimes so that they have regulatory certainty.

The older tax structure was haphazard and under the authority of multiple tax collecting bodies. This created a problem for foreign firms who wanted to invest in the country but had a tough time negotiating the tax landscape of the country.

The GST has completely changed that. The GST is under one central authority and uses the GSTN (Goods and Services Tax Network), which is the information technology service which underpins the whole system.

The GST system is also much more nimble and able to respond to the needs of the market because it is under one single tax authority, the GST Council. This is also an excellent benefit for the country as it doesn’t take a lot of consultation to change the rules in case of adverse market conditions.

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In conclusion, there are several benefits to the country as a whole with the implementation of the GST system. Small business is the driving force of the Indian economy, providing a lot of employment. Things like the Composition Scheme under GST has helped simplify the tax filing for small business while maintaining compliance.