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Repercussions of Jaitley’s budget on Indian diaspora in Oman

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Oman: The Indian expatriates in Oman hailed India’s annual budget of 2016-17 which was presented by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday in New Delhi. Expats said that easing of customs declaration and an increase of free baggage allowance will be helpful for Indians living outside the country.

The latest budget also proposed to amend provisions dealing with the Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) of the Non-Resident Indians, which are currently subjected to a higher rate for NRIs without the permanent account number (PAN) card. The proposed amendment will ensure that higher rate of TDS is not imposed on furnishing alternate documents.

The budget also makes an ease on custom baggage rules for international passengers. “The filing of baggage declaration will be required only for those passengers, who carry dutiable goods,” Jaitley said in his budget speech.

“Expats had also hoped for a simplification of income tax processes and more relief on TDS. Besides, there is nothing on housing or an immediate relief in prices of basic commodities and personal taxes to create savings for the future for us,’’ said Sunil Kumar, an Indian expat living in Oman.

Yusuffali MA, Chairman of Lulu Group, the largest retail chain in the Middle East said that Jaitley is clearly highlighting the growth pillars of the economy by insuring rural, social, agriculture, skill, business and tax reforms. He also described it as a sensible budget which will make a positive impact on many sectors.

“I am happy that the government has stressed on the ‘Make in India’ campaign by providing tax and duty benefits and these will go a long way in strengthening the manufacturing capabilities and infrastructure facilities of India. The Finance Minister’s focus on agriculture was keenly awaited and will enhance expenditure on the rural and agriculture sectors, which in turn will enhance food security and boost exports. According to me, the ‘three years of tax holiday’ for start-ups is one of the most exciting announcements of this budget. The next generation of skilled entrepreneurs are our future and this will bring in the much-needed impetus. Another highlight would be the 100 per cent FDI (foreign direct investment) in food processing business. This will be news to many international players, who are looking to set up business in India and we all must welcome this.”

“Being a retailer, obviously, I am pleased to note that the minister mentioned retail as the largest service sector employer in the country and many more jobs opportunities can be created, provided the regulations are simplified. From a common NRI’s point of view, the easing of customs declaration and increasing of free baggage allowance are a welcome step,” Yusuffali added.

Reacting to the budget, K V Shamsudheen, the chairman of Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, while speaking about the third budget, said that it focused on total infrastructure development including agriculture, health, social development, education, and daily life of the common people. Under the budget 2016-17, the government has targeted to double the income of farmers by 2022 (Fifteen per cent of India’s economy is based on the agriculture sector).

“This will change the face of India by making it an economic super power in the future. Indian diaspora’s remittances are among the world’s highest and NRIs contribute a big amount towards the foreign currency reserve of the country. “We have been proposing to the government to utilize NRIs’ financial resources, expertise, experience and business contacts for the development of the country,” he said.

He added: “We have two important initiatives ‘Make in India’ and the ‘National Skill Development Mission,’ which can be developed successfully with the participation of NRIs. Even though we are keen on this proposal,” he added.

According to the current price chart, a female passenger can hold only 32 grams of gold jewellery and a male passenger can take only 16 grams of gold jewellery with them, which is too little.

All the items carry from abroad are based on quantity but gold is based on value.

“So, we request allowance for gold jewellery to be raised to 50 grammes for male passengers and 100 grammes for female passengers and also request that gold allowance is based on weight as per the rule,” Shamsudheen said.

Lateef Shahdad, a Chartered Marketer said that it is the time to see the implementation of the budget, said it is a ‘rational one’ and expressing approval for the number of measures.

(With inputs from Times of Oman)

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Focus on Menstrual Health Improving Education for Girls in Zambia

Chitentabunga Primary School, in rural Lusaka province, is one of the schools that has received reusable pads to distribute to its students

Menstrual, Health, Zambian
FILE - Girls learn to make sanitary pads from imported water-proof materials in project sponsored by the Malawi NGO, Girls Empowerment Network (VOA / L. Masina) VOA

New health classes and government partnerships with not-for-profits focused on menstrual health are improving education for girls in Zambia.

In 2017, the government announced it would distribute free sanitary pads to girls in some rural and underserved areas. Two years later, menstrual hygiene management classes have been introduced in schools, and partnerships with organizations such as World Vision have brought reusable sanitary pads to rural communities.

Chitentabunga Primary School, in rural Lusaka province, is one of the schools that has received reusable pads to distribute to its students.

Educators at Chitentabunga say the pads have helped reduce absenteeism. In years past, 80 to 100 girls would miss classes at any given time due to menstrual issues across seven schools. Now, just five to 10 girls are out at any given time.

Menstrual, Health, Zambian
In 2017, the government announced it would distribute free sanitary pads to girls in some rural and underserved areas. Pixabay

“We used to have a lot of absenteeism, especially in mature girls, that is, girls that have started their menstrual periods. At a time when they go on their menstrual periods, these girls used to stay away from school,” Tyson Hachilangu, head teacher at Chitentabunga, said.

Girls at the school say the pads have improved their quality of life.

“Before this program was introduced, we used ordinary clothes, which would cause bruises. But now, the school gives us pads, and we also have a special bathroom where girls can go and clean up, in case she soils herself at school,” Choolwe Susu, a pupil at the school, said.

She added that the new resources have reduced the shame and teasing associated with menstruation.

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“Previously, boys used to laugh at girls who soil themselves at school, and this used to [cause] girls on menses to stay away from school. But now we can come to school, even on menses, because menstruation is normal for women, and without it there would be no humanity,” she said.

The program has also helped teach girls about pads, and schools have instituted policies to give girls space to practice proper hygiene.

“We are taught about pads. There are two types of pads. A pad is one that you wear with a pant, while a padden is one you wear without a pant. And if you spoil yourself, you have the right to tell your teacher, who will give you a pad, water and soap to clean yourself in the special bathroom,” Cnythia Choono, another pupil at Chitentabunga, said.

Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu, told VOA the country intends to keep advocating for girls. “We want to cut down on early marriages,” he said. “We went to avoid maternal death.”

Menstrual, Health, Zambian
Two years later, menstrual hygiene management classes have been introduced in schools, and partnerships with organizations such as World Vision. Pixabay

So far, partnerships like the one with World Vision that brought interventions to Chitentabunga appear to be working. That could become a model for similar kinds of real-world impacts.

Also Read- Poor Posture can Lead to Chronic Pain

“We have a responsibility to work with members of the community,” Lungu said. (VOA)