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Demystifying the process: Budget 2016

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By Amit Kapoor

New Delhi: The course of fiscal policy of the government is decided by the budget, which is an important document. This year too seems to be kick started with the halwa ceremony, renowned for commencing the printing of the budget documents on February 19.

Another unique feature of this year’s budget is that some of the key officials have communicated through a series of videos that aim to demystify the budgetary process. These videos also give a flavor about the essential features of the upcoming budget to be presented by FM Jaitley on February 29.

The key officials that have spoken before the budget announcement include the finance minister, the minister of state for finance, and the revenue and the economic affairs secretaries – and all have made some crucial points relating to the budget 2016.

The finance minister, in his interactions, had mentioned the use of technology to the advantage of all taxpayers. Already some 1.4 crore people have been notified of the budget refunds through the technology platforms and their refunds have been processed through the same medium. Roughly 90 percent of the budget filings are done online, and this is where the power of technology is making the tax process smooth and efficient.

The minister of state for finance, in his interaction, has mentioned that the budget will aim to reduce poverty, provide prosperity to farmers, help in job creation for the young people of the country and provide a better quality of life to all citizens. He also expressed his belief that India will continue to be a beacon of growth and stability in a very turbulent global environment.

The economic affairs secretary tried to demystify the budget process and mentioned that it is a long-term process as opposed to the common conception. It generally starts in September with a detailed circular being issued to all the ministries. Post this, in November and December, the Department of Expenditure holds meetings with various ministries about the requirements in the current and the next years.

At the beginning of January, the Department of Revenue makes its forecasts for the current year and the next year. There are the revised estimates for the current year and the budget estimates for the next year. Post this once the revenue and expenditure proposals converge, the finance minister holds consultations with various stakeholders and proposals are concretized at the end of January. Decisions are then taken and post this followed by printing of budget documents.

The economic affairs secretary also alluded to the fiscal deficit and how the government is looking at it. He too was upbeat about India’s performance amid global turbulence and said that budget has to focus on growth as it leads to job creation and economic development.

The revenue secretary, in his interaction, mentioned taxation and the broad structure of the budget. He stated that the total tax revenue projection is Rs.14.4 lakh crore. The income tax revenue is close to about Rs.7.9 lakh crore and the indirect tax revenue is close to Rs.6.5 lakh crore.

Within the income tax, there are two components – the corporate income tax and the personal income tax. The corporate income tax is around 59 percent while the personal income tax is around 41 percent.

On the indirect side, there are three major components: excise duties, customs and service tax. Normally these are roughly the same contribution, but this year, due to the oil duty, the excise duties are close to 39 percent while the other two form the remaining indirect taxes.

The service tax structure is diversified, which is a good thing. The direct side seems as having a shortfall of about Rs.40,000 crore as corporate earnings have been low but this will be compensated by the indirect side which is buoyant. The revenue secretary also alluded to ways and means to reduce the litigation that has been seen as a perennial problem for India’s corporate sector.

In the week ahead, a lot of haze will get cleared on the issues pertaining to the budget. The new media strategy seems to be a good initiative leading up to the budget. Overall the stage is set for a historic budget. It is also hoped that the government succeeds in the balancing act when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents the budget in the Lok Sabha at 11 am on February 29. (IANS)

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How Technology is Streamlining the US Lending Sector

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cash-lending

Today, people are more connected than any other time in history. Since people are constantly using computers and smartphones, most industries have adopted technologies that help in easier and faster service delivery to customers.

In the finance industry, the development of technology has transformed the landscape in the lending sector. In this article, you’ll learn more about how this industry has been affected by technology.

Technology creates better borrower experience

Basically, the lending process requires an exchange of some data between the borrower and the lending institution. Depending on the lender and the amount in question, you may be required to submit tens of pages of information before the application is approved.

As such, the process can be daunting given that you are expected to fill multiple forms as well as provide several documents.  Without patience and some free time, getting through the loan application with traditional banks is close to impossible.

However, when the lending process is digitized the amount of paperwork is reduced dramatically. This is because account activity, credit history, income history as well as tax compliance can be fed into the system with the click of a button. This has made the collection and verification of information quite easy. Besides streamlining the application process, the amount of time it takes to get a loan has also reduced.

In addition, some lenders have developed some innovative mobile solutions that enable customers to submit an application from anywhere. The most outstanding feature about mobile loans is that there is a constant interaction between the lender and the borrowers. This goes a long way in improving service delivery.

Increased transparency

In the past, borrowers had no access to a lender’s system that hold the borrower’s personal details as well as loan application status. This implies that most borrowers were in the dark for the most part of the lending process. When the need to communicate comes, the loan teams were the most potent option. This has been the reason why loan officers were getting hundreds of phone calls from clients who were dying to get the updates about the loans.

Courtesy of technology advancements, now it’s possible to view the status of your loan application as well as your account status with a lender. This helps borrowers to stay updated during the entire online installment loans process. In addition, you can get instant communication about any requests that a lender may have that is critical to the borrowing process.

As a result, there is a high collaboration between borrowers and lenders which makes the involved parties satisfied.

A less painful borrowing process

Traditionally, it takes an average of 18 days to get a loan approval. To get through the borrowing process, you need an extra 50 days if you are applying for a mortgage. But when you consider that it’s possible to purchase something from miles away at the comfort of your home and get it in a few hours, the long lending process seems like a bad joke.

To match the level of service delivery in this digital era, the financial sector has incorporated technology for a better experience. The innovative technology makes it possible for borrowers to navigate through the process thanks to great design and real-time customer support.

This makes it easy to switch from traditional lenders who implement outdated technology and business models. The comfort of knowing that you can get help from the lender in a matter of seconds has made the process painless.

It helps you save money

On average, a lender spends about $8,000 to finish one mortgage. This is because they have to pay employees to look into tons of information and collate in various databases. In a manual process, the tasks are repetitive and consume a lot of time. The tragedy here is that the borrower will cover these costs in the form of loan fees and charges.

But when innovative technology is used, much of the redundant tasks during the application process is scraped off. This means borrowing becomes cheaper for both lenders and borrowers. Besides the huge savings on cost, the process takes less time.

Over-reliance on human capital is eliminated and this implies there are fewer errors when gathering information. While this doesn’t conclude that technology has taken the place of experienced manpower, it helps create time and resources that are focused on other tasks with higher value.

Risks associated with technology in the lending sector

While technology has a way of making life more bearable, it comes with several risks. Basically, most of the information is transmitted online and this makes it easy for criminals to intercept the information. With data security being one of the biggest concerns in this industry, most companies are investing heavily in precautionary measures to keep their customers safe.

Therefore, if you are working with a reputable loan company that has implemented the necessary safety measures, you don’t need to worry. However, this doesn’t mean that you should submit a loan application to every online lender out there.

All lenders are not created equal and there are a few predatory businesses out there that can take advantage of vulnerable borrowers and charge astronomical interests. As such, you should restrain yourself from getting into an agreement with any lender who doesn’t have a track record of outstanding customer service and a demonstrated commitment to helping customers.

Finally, identity theft is real and can cause a serious problem if a criminal gets your personal information. Therefore, you should be careful when requesting loans through online platforms. As a rule of thumb, choose to work with businesses that have strict privacy policies as well as having the necessary security measures to prevent data theft.

Final words

Innovative technology has taken the financial industry by a storm and it has created a serious revolution in the industry. Unlike in the past, loans are now easily accessible to more people and the lending process is less painful.

Considering the current trends, it’s clear that more resources are going to be invested in this industry and create better technologies. While there is still much that needs to be done with regards to improving certain loans like mortgages, technology has transformed the sector.

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‘Delhi Metro Cruelly Killed my ‘Achhe Din” : Here is why Passengers are dumping the popular mode of travel

The author shares her take on shifting to Delhi from Kolkata and her experience with the Delhi Metro

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Delhi Metro
Delhi Metro. Wikimedia

– By Somrita Ghosh

New Delhi, November 5, 2017 : Delhi Metro cruelly killed my “acche din”.

Metro fares have been doubled in just four months, forcing me to give up my favorite mode of transport and take to crowded DTC buses.

Besides putting the new fares beyond my budget, I have also been stripped off the safety of travelling in the Metro. And I am not the only one.

My biggest shock came two days after the latest Metro fare hike. I commute daily between Green Park in south Delhi and Noida Sector 16 where I work.

As I punched my smart card while leaving the Sector 16 station, my heart skipped a beat — Rs 37 had been deducted from my card.

By the time I reached my office, the mental calculation was already done. I realized every month I would have to spend double of what I was shelling out only five months ago if I wanted to use the Delhi Metro.

When the year began, I was spending Rs 18 on my Metro ride — one way. The Metro then hiked the fares and my one-way cost shot up to Rs 27. The latest hike had taken it to Rs 37!

This was hard for me to digest. The sudden hike of almost Rs 20, that too one way, was surely going to painfully pinch my wallet.

When I landed in Delhi five years ago, my friends advised me to avail the Metro, not just because it is safe for women but comfortable too, never mind the crushing rush during peak hours.

Most important, as I realized very soon, the Metro was affordable. It was so cheap that while an auto-rickshaw would charge me a minimum of Rs 25 from my home to the nearest Metro station, the Metro charged me only Rs 18 all the way from south Delhi to Noida in Uttar Pradesh. This was too good to be true.

Since I came from Kolkata, where the minimum Metro fare was only Rs 4 and the maximum Rs 12, Delhi Metro initially seemed costly.

But I realized the full story in no time once I started using the Delhi Metro. The infrastructure, service and overall facilities provided by Delhi Metro were far better compared to Kolkata.

Delhi Metro offers free WiFi, its stations have coffee shops and the bigger ones even host fast food chains. Travel is hassle-free despite the odd technical snags that hit the Blue Line that I use.

But suddenly charging a salaried person like me Rs 40 more, or Rs 1,200 a month, just because the Metro needs to finance itself better is something I cannot appreciate.

Like numerous others, I have changed my mode of transport. It is now the DTC buses. The DTC’s frequency may not match the Metro’s and DTC rides can be bumpy too, not to talk of unending traffic jams. But do I have a choice?

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Somrita Ghosh of IANS. She can be contacted at somrita.g@ians.in)

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Food processing will be a main industry in future: Jaitley

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Food
Food processing will be a main industry in future: Jaitley

New Delhi: The entire Indian agriculture value chain is set to change drastically and food processing is going to be one of the main industries of the country in the future, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday.

“The farm to kitchen chain is going to change in India, like elsewhere, with increased agricultural production, better storage facilities, more food processing and changing consumer food preference,” Jaitley said at the inaugural session of the World Food India 2017 here.

 “Food processing is going to be one of the principal industries of India in future, and an entrepreneur in 2017 should think of the industry from the perspective of where it will be in 2040, 2050,” he said.

In terms of market size, the Indian food market was worth $193 billion in 2016 and is expected to cross $540 billion in 2020, officials said here. The sector has been growing at the rate of 12 per cent annually.

“There is a silent revolution ongoing in India. There is an expanding middle class and below that there is a growing aspirational class, which is building up reasonable purchasing power,” the Finance Minister said, noting that this provided an enormous potential market for food products in the country.

About the potential, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said that only about 10 per cent of agricultural produce is processed in the country, leading to a lot of wastage.

The industry enjoys many fiscal incentives, including preferential credit under priority sector lending, she said.

“There is 100 per cent FDI (foreign direct investment) allowed into the sector through the automatic route and we have seen inflows increase 40 per cent over the last year,” she said.

“The proposal for a Food Processing Bank is also under active consideration.”

In the presence of delegates from many countries, the event was inaugurated earlier by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pointed out that India is the biggest producer of milk in the world and the second in rice, wheat, fish and vegetable output.(IANS)