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Arun Jaitley slams Congress for delay in GST bill

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New Delhi: Lashing out at the Congress party again for blocking a pan-India goods and service tax regime, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said some reform-oriented laws, nonetheless, were expected to be passed during the remaining three days of what has been a none-too-productive winter session of parliament thus far.

“The next three days are crucial with very important pieces of legislation coming up before our parliament,” Jaitley said here addressing the annual general meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

Among the legislations listed by him, one was on the bankruptcy code and the other on arbitration.

Nonetheless, he said the steps taken by his government will prove to be beneficial. “We’re hoping that structural reforms undertaken will help us go to 8 percent growth in 2016-17,” he said, even as the mid-term economic survey released a day before had cut the prospect to 7-7.5 percent.

Jaitley’s speech had political content as well, notably on the effort in vain, thus far, to get the goods and services tax bill passed in the current parliament session. “I’ve no doubt in my mind that the attempt to delay the GST is entirely for collateral reasons,” he said.

“The only collateral reason I suspect is: ‘If I couldn’t do it, then why to let someone else do it’!” Jaitley exclaimed, but added: “A delayed GST is better than a flawed GST.”

As regards the legislations which the government wished the two houses to consider over the next three days, Jaitley said one of them sought to put India back on the global adjudication map for cases of arbitration as the costs of such litigation were enormous abroad.

“We’re bringing in a bill for fast-track arbitration, including single-member tribunals.”

He also referred to the proposed new bankruptcy code that aims to resolve cases of insolvency at the earliest so that amounts lent to such companies can also be recovered fast. The bill has proposed a timeline of 180 days, extendable by another 90 days, to resolve such cases.

Speaking at the event later, Jaitley’s deputy and Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha forewarned that low farm sector growth and the cost of implementing the pay commission recommendations together with a slow global expansion will prove to be taxing for his government next year.

“Next year is a challenging year. Headwinds of two major factors will be slowing us down,” Sinha said, adding the slowing farm output growth was the result of two successive years of bad monsoon and the global slowdown was hitting India’s merchandise exports.

He also said the government has its task cut out in meeting the fiscal deficit targets.(IANS)

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Harsh Penal Proceedings For Illegal Swiss Bank Deposit Holders: Arun Jaitely

A news item has appeared today indicating an increase of money by ‘Indians’ in the Swiss banking system

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Harsh Penal Proceedings For Illegal Swiss Bank Deposit Holders: Arun Jaitely
Harsh Penal Proceedings For Illegal Swiss Bank Deposit Holders: Arun Jaitely. flickr

Union Minister Arun Jaitley today warned that Indians having illegal deposits in Swiss banks would face harsh penal proceedings under the black money law after Switzerland starts real time sharing of details of accounts from January onwards. Latest data from the Swiss National Bank showed that money parked by Indians in Swiss banks rose over 50 per cent to CHF 1.01 billion (Rs 7,000 crore) in 2017, reversing a three-year downward trend amid India’s clampdown on suspected black money stashed by its citizens overseas.

“A news item has appeared today indicating an increase of money by ‘Indians’ in the Swiss banking system. This has led to misinformed reaction in certain circles raising a query whether the government’s anti-black money steps have yielded results,” Jaitley said in a blog. Noting that Switzerland in financial disclosures was always a reluctant state, Jaitley said the Alpine nation has amended its domestic laws involving all disclosures and entered into a treaty even with India and real time flow of information with regard to Indians would be made. “The flow of information is starting in January, 2019. Any illegal depositor knows that it is a matter of months before his name becomes public and he will be subjected to the harsh penal provisions of the black money law in India,” said the senior BJP leader and an eminent lawyer.

Jaitley said the Alpine nation has amended its domestic laws
Jaitley said the Alpine nation has amended its domestic laws. Flickr

Also read: Under Arun Jaitley corruption grew manifold in DDCA: Bishan Singh Bedi

Further, Jaitley said those who participate in a public discourse must understand these basic facts before expressing an opinion which may be ill-informed. “To assume that all the deposits are per se tax evaded money or that Switzerland in the matter of illegal deposits is what it was decades ago, is to start on a shaky presumption,” he added. (IANS)