Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said that all GST laws including the State GST and Union Territory GST have been approved by the GST Council.  The approval paves way for the tabling of GST Bill in the current session of the Parliament. The Council has already cleared Central GST (CGST) and integrated GST (IGST) Bills and the Compensation legislation.  Here are the highlights of what Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at the press conference after GST Council meet:

  1. Cess on sin goods is 12 per cent, capped at 15 per cent.
    State GST and UT GST cleared by GST Council.
    Laws will be taken to cabinet and then to the parliament for approval
    Some marginal correction in remaining regulations will be required.
    Any supply made to SEZ will be zero rated.
    Commerce Ministry proposal on SEZ approved by GST Council
    Have kept a provision of ad valerom and specific duties for cigarette and tobacco
    Tobacco cess capped at 290 per cent ad valorem
    Cess capped at 15 percent for luxury cars and aerated drinks.
    Coal cess capped at Rs400/tonne
    Pan Masala cess capped at 135 per cent ad valorem
    Not decided to levy cess on bidis for now.
    July 1 is tentatively the roll out date for GST. Have sufficient buffer time till July 1
    Fitment of various commodities will be approved in the meeting of March 31
    Next meeting of Council to be held on March 31.

  2. Last year in August, the Rajya Sabha cleared a bill that amended the Constitution to enable India's biggest tax reform - GST. GST is a proposed system of indirect taxation merging most of the existing taxes into single system of taxation. It was introduced as The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act 2016. GST would be a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services throughout India, to replace taxes levied by the central and state governments. The GST is consumption based tax levied on the supply of Goods and Services which means it would be levied and collected at each stage of sale or purchase of goods or services based on the input tax credit method. Once it is in force, GST will replace at least 17 state and central taxes.

  3. News source: Business Today

Published in Economics


The big bang of Punjab Assembly election has ended in a whimper for cricketer-turned-TV 'laugha-ter' Navjot Singh Sidhu. After being tipped as the next deputy chief minister of Punjab, motormouth Sidhu, who is now better known for his laughathons on Kapil Sharma's comedy show, has finished off as the minister of local government, tourism & cultural affairs, and archives and museums. We are sure he has accepted his political task for the next five years with the humility and grace it deserves but that's quite a fall from the pre-poll fantasies that surrounded his glamorous persona. After all, he was the second most popular figure in the run-up to the Punjab Assembly election, after Captain Amarinder Singh.The former ace India batsman's tryst with politics has been rather colourful. For most of his tenure as BJP MP from Amritsar (2004-2014), he was more known for his presence on the popular comedy show hosted by Kapil Sharma, rather than any substantial groundwork in his Lok Sabha constituency.

Insiders believed it to be one of the major reasons for the party replacing him with Arun Jaitley as its Amritsar candidate in the 2014 general elections. After a short stint in the Rajya Sabha last year, he came into talks with rival parties Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), obviously for a bigger political share in the run-up to the Punjab Assembly elections held last month. He even launched his own outfit, ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’ before the crucial elections. It's interesting that Sidhu carried out negotiations with both the Congress and AAP simultaneously, where he is known to have bargained hard. At one point in time, he was known to have demanded a share of about 7-8 seats from AAP, that would have included seats for hockey Olympian Pargat Singh and two Independent legislators, Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjit Singh Bains.

There had been a lot of flip flop at Sidhu’s end, who kept people of Punjab guessing about his joining a new party. Lots of negotiation took place between Sidhu on one hand and, Congress and AAP on the other. Eventually, ace cricketer — who successfully gave himself a second career with his gift of gab, long after his peers made peace with retirement — joined the Congress. In face of the Congress victory, rumours started doing the rounds that Sidhu would be elevated to the position of deputy chief minister, to which the Congress rank and file is even known to have protested. But with the ship being led by none than Captain— a seasoned politician, who knows the ropes of his job better than any other in the state — rumour mongers should have known that the talk of deputy chief ministership for Sidhu, would eventually, end the way rumours end. In a whimper. Old timers would recall a similar case of Shatrughan Sinha, a stalwart actor-turned-politician, who was awarded the important portfolio of Health Ministry in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government in the centre in 2003-2004, only to be shunted to Shipping, that for just a month in August 2003, before being divested of all ministerial responsibilities. Achievers in fields other than politics should know that acting in front of camera, or wielding the willow is one matter, while running the government is another.

While, Sidhu’s supporters were confident about the leader taking over the post of the deputy CM till last evening, many senior Congress leaders within Punjab Congress were found to be in a protest mood. No one within the state Congress wanted that a late entrant (Sidhu joined Congress in mid-January) should be elevated to the position of a deputy CM due to his star status. Ahead of elections, Sidhu had campaigned for the party only for a fortnight. “Navjot Singh Sidhu has not been given the post of deputy CM as rumours were abuzz on this issue. Captain is a wise and seasoned politician, who knows what portfolio should be allotted to whom. Since he has the mandate, he won’t take portfolio distribution lightly. Sidhu anyway doesn’t have any previous experience as a minister. It’ll be a good opportunity for him to know how the government functions and also to perform,” a senior leader from Punjab Congress told Firstpost.

News source: First Post

Published in Politics


New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya was today admitted to the intensive care unit at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital here after he complained of uneasiness. According to a senior doctor of the hospital, the 48-year-old leader was admitted at 3.38 PM. "He was suffering from cough and cold and mild fever for last seven days and overwork due to his political commitments. "On admission his blood pressure was slightly higher. At present he is fully conscious and better. He is kept under observation for further evaluation," medical superintendent Dr A K Gadpayle said. Maurya is being seen as one of the strong contenders for the chief minister's post in Uttar Pradesh after the BJP posted a landslide win in the assembly polls.

News source: First Post

Published in Politics


Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has rebuffed the allegation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he is authoritarian in his approach. Participating in a debate at India Today Conclave 2017, Mehbooba said, "I have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi a few times and I have found that he is open to ideas. He is not authoritative." "Contrary to perception and allegations by some PM Modi is not centralised. He wants to make it true federal system in the country. He has the moral authority to do it," Mehbooba said. Mehbooba was in discussion with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Mehbooba also said that the Centre and the state government both need to think about phasing out AFSPA from the Kashmir Valley. Inviting the businessmen and investors from Mumbai in Kashmir Valley, Mehbooba said, "Kashmir is the safest place for women even when encounters are taking place. Come not only to invest. Come to Kashmir with your families."

Taking part in the India Today Conclave 2017 in Mumbai, Devendra Fadnavis kept everyone guessing about him being moving to Delhi as a Union Minister. Responding to a query about the speculation that he could be the next Defence Minister, Fadnavis said, "India Today Conclave has shifted from New Delhi to Mumbai. Why do you want me to move from Mumbai to Delhi?" But, Fadnavis immediately added, "I am a true soldier of party. Whatever our Prime Minister and party president tells me to do, I am ready to do." "Right now I have a job on hand. I am a Chief Minister now. I have Maharashtra on my agenda."

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan asserted that his state no longer belonged to BIMARU state after registering double digit GDP growth rate in the last seven years. Chouhan tried to play down the issue of farmers' suicide in Madhya Pradesh saying, "Only farmers are not committing suicide. Students and businessmen are also committing suicide." "All suicides by the farmers are not due to loan or crop failure. There are other reasons also for farmers' suicide. We remain committed to ameliorate the living conditions of farmers," Chouhan said.

Responding to a query about will July 1 deadline for GST be met, Fadnavis said, "Yes, I am confident. The deadline will be met. GST council has approved it. If political disruption is the motive then I can't say anything." "GST will create a common market. When VAT was introduced, there were concerns and apprehensions were expressed. VAT was a barrier regime. Now we are shifting to non-barrier regime. Barriers were artificially created," Fadnavis said. "We are manufacturing state. As a big manufacturing state, we will lose something. But, at the same time being a big state, we are a big consumer state and there we will gain something," said Fadnavis. "If some states lose more, then we must think that we are one nation. If some backward state gains and some better doing states are losing out, they should be happy. The GST will bring level playing field for everyone. Every state will gain with GST," Fadnavis added.

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti once again defended Article 370. She said every state has a unique situation. Maharashtra has Article 371 there, Jammu and Kashmir has Article 371, she said. "You cannot do away with the regional aspirations. You have seen it after Mandal commission report. You have seen groups of Yadavs, rise of Mayawati and others," Mehbooba said. "For us in Kashmir, India is not a country. It is a universe for us. It is full of diversity, different aspirations and all co-exist. It is the beauty of India," Mehbooba added. Mehbooba said that the Centre has been responsive about the needs of Jammu and Kashmir. "Whenever I have met Union Ministers, be it (Nitin) Gadkari or (Prakash) Javadekar, they have always listened to us and supported us. We have been given whatever we needed," Mehbooba said at India Today Conclave 2017. However, she was quick to add that in cases of international treaties if the states are affected then need to be consulted.

Talking about public anguish over demonetisation, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that he did not see any. Chouhan said, "I go out to people every day. I did not see anyone complaining about demonetisation. No one showed anger. "People were happy with the decision made by PM Modi. They believed in his intention of flushing out black money," Chouhan said. On a related query, Fadnavis said, "The subject matter concerning RBI rests with the Centre and states did not need to be consulted about."

News source: India Today

Published in Politics


NEW DELHI: A host of top level political leaders from Nepal are visiting India from Monday, including former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and deputy Prime Minister Bimalendra Nidhi as well as chief justice of Nepal Sushila Karki. The high level visits come as political tensions intensify in Nepal, amid an ongoing Madhesi crisis. Both Bhattarai and Nidhi are expected to meet the Indian leadership including PM Modi.

The Madhesi issue is flaring up because the Prachanda government has not been able to pass the constitutional amendments necessary, which is one reason why Madhesis have been protesting, as much against their own leaders as against the Kathmandu government. The larger problem is the question of political stability, which is tied up with the unresolved Madhesi question and the longevity of the Prachanda government. By the terms of his deal with Sher Bahadur Deuba, he ought to relinquish power in April, but without local level elections that may not be possible. Madhes politicians are under pressure, both from their constituents as well as Kathmandu — Mahantha Thakur, leader of Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, decided to quit the ruling coalition citing the importance of constitutional amendment as a precondition to staying on. This is being repeated across the spectrum of Terai parties. Another Madhes leader, Bijay Gachchedar joined Prachanda's coalition, along with Kamal Thapa who was named deputy PM. These might add some numbers to the coalition, but he is still short of the necessary votes to pass the constitutional amendment with two-thirds majority. Meanwhile, KP Oli, riding a tide of Nepali hill nationalism and anti-India sentiment appears to be waiting to pick Prachanda government apart.

India's role has become important again, but New Delhi, say analysts, is only focused on keeping Oli out of power. But the political realities of Nepal may make that difficult. This means even Madhesis don't get the kind of attention from India they used to, as the message from India is that they should not rock the boat at the moment. India's envoy to Nepal, Ranjit Rae has just retired, and the new ambassador, Manjeev Singh Puri has just been named to take over in Kathmandu. Nepal might be entering another period of instability again. Last week finance minister Arun Jaitley visited Kathmandu to participate in an investment summit, where he promised that India was ready to invest in projects of Kathmandu-Nijgadh fast track road, second international airport at Nijgadh, Koshi high dam, etc. in which India is ready to invest. The finance minister's visit was aimed at reminding Nepal about India's role in Nepal's economic development, after China doubled down on promises of greater FDI into Nepal. But Nepal parliament is yet to ratify the BIPPA signed with India over four years ago - this makes investors a little wary.

News source: The Times of India

Published in Politics


Professor Prabhakar Timble is the president of the Goa Forward Party whose three MLAs went against his advice to support the Bharatiya Janata Party's coalition government in Goa. In a no-holds-barred interview with Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore, Professor Timble questions Goa Governor Mridula Sinha's decision to invite the BJP to form a government, exposes the Congress' role in ditching his party before the polls, and justifies why he resigned as president of a party whose primary reason for existence was defeating the BJP.

Why did you resign as president of the Goa Forward Party when all your party MLAs decided to support Manohar Parrikar's coalition government?

I resigned because I found the decision to go with the BJP abrupt and abrasive. I also found it unprofessional because the mandate of the people is against the BJP. Our campaign, from the day we formed the Goa Forward Party, was fought with the sole purpose of ousting the BJP from power. So, our first choice should not be embracing the BJP or allowing it to come to power. They (the BJP) have actually lost power in the state. Finally, the BJP could cobble up the numbers -- and I didn't say it for the last two days and I am saying it now because I didn't want to thrash my colleagues with harsh words before their swearing in took place -- because this is the BJP's political mafia raj at work. They descend upon you, they pressurise you so much, and the GFP, which fought the elections on the plank of Goenkarpon (Goan-ness), finally succumbed to it. 

When your sole objective was to defeat the BJP, how can one justify the GFP's support to the same people who they wanted out of power in the state?

The fact is the Congress party ditched the GFP right from the beginning. The day we formed the GFP, we staunchly said we wanted to dislodge the BJP from power and for that we wanted to have an alliance with the Congress. Knowing that we were a new party, we knew we won't be able to reach out in all the constituencies. 

What changed so much after the elections that all your party MLAs have gone with the BJP?

The Dhavalikar brothers -- Sudin and Dipak (of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party) -- have always been with the party in power. They have been doing it since the last 20 years.

What happened to your party MLAs? Were there promises of cabinet berths by the BJP?

To be very frank, I don't know. We (the GFP and its MLAs) discussed the matter; the Congress had also engaged us in discussions, but the only thing that weighed against the Congress was they had ditched us before the elections. They refused to ally with us although we begged with them for an alliance. Then they put up a candidate against Vijai Sardesai in Fatorda violating all etiquette and understanding. They put up a candidate against us in Saligaon and almost put up a candidate in Sivolim. This proved they (the Congress) wanted us to fail because we were fighting against two BJP ministers and wanted to dislodge them. First, you want us defeated and after the elections you come to seek our help.

Isn't it ironic that a party which wanted to defeat the BJP in 2017 before the elections is now allying with them in a coalition?

I found it totally unprofessional and so I resigned. My argument was the BJP cannot be our first choice. Finally, a government had to be formed and the Congress should have been our natural choice. The GFP MLAs were also in two minds, but Vijai Sardesai took the lead and clinched the deal with the BJP. I knew I should not lead and defend such decisions. I wanted to be out of this muck. Goenkarpon is not just taking oath in Konkani. Goenkarpon is something more bigger than such symbolism.

News source: Rediff

Published in Politics


After Vishwajit Rane, another disgruntled Congress MLA Savio Rodrigues resigned from the party on Friday. He blamed the Congress high command and general secretary in-charge for Goa, Digvijaya Singh, for failing to form the government despite emerging as the single largest party in the recently held Assembly election. The infighting within the Goa Congress unit came out in the open after Rane disappeared before the crucial floor test on Thursday. Later, the three-time Congress MLA submitted his resignation to pro-tem Speaker Siddharth Kuncolienkar and quit the party. Rane said that he was upset with the party leadership as it failed to form the government in Goa despite getting the people's mandate in the Assembly polls. "The mandate in Goa was against the BJP. Now, they (the Congress) have given BJP the mandate on a platter," he said.

Rane said the Goa Forward Party, whose three MLAs later extended support to Manohar Parrikar and which had contested the election on anti-BJP plank, wanted former chief minister Digambar Kamat to be elected as the Congress Legislature Party leader and not Luizinho Faleiro. "I do not expect anything from the Congress. They have betrayed the trust of Goa by not forming the government despite people giving them a clear mandate," Rane told PTI. In a series of tweets, Digvijaya defended his way of handling party affairs in Goa and said the party is going raise the issue in Parliament and submit a petition to the President of India on the conduct of Goa governor Mridula Sinha. He blamed the governor and said that letter to the governor is sent after the leader of the legislative party is chosen, but in the case of Goa, the governor took a premature decision in favour of the BJP. He also attacked Rane and alleged that he is in cahoots with Parrikar.

Digvijaya also tweeted about an alliance with a regional party headed by Babush Monserrate and Goa Forward and said "our own leaders" sabotaged the alliance. Rajya Sabha was in uproar over the government formation in Goa. Over the uproar, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the BJP is ready for discussion, Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker PJ Kurien said Goa governor's conduct can be discussed on the basis of a substantive motion. Members of the Congress party stormed the Well raising slogans. The Congress failed to cobble up a majority despite winning 17 of the 40 seats in Goa, even as all opposition members other than Congress joined hands with BJP to form a government under Parrikar.

News source: First Post

Published in Politics


Manchester City to a painful exit on away goals. Trailing 5-3 from the first leg in England, teenage starlet Kylian Mbappe put Monaco ahead on the night after just eight minutes at the Stade Louis II and Brazilian midfielder Fabinho converted the home side's second just before the half hour. Leroy Sane's 71st-minute goal handed City a 6-5 advantage on aggregate, but Bakayoko turned home Thomas Lemar's free-kick 13 minutes from time as Monaco claimed a famous win. Monaco go through to Friday's draw for the last eight in Nyon carrying French hopes following Paris Saint-Germain's shock elimination, while Guardiola suffered his earliest Champions League exit as a manager. "We played an exceptional second half, but the first one we forgot to be there," Guardiola told BT Sport. "In the second half we were much, much better but it was not enough. It happens and we'll learn, we have a team with not a lot of experience in this competition." Monaco hero Bakayoko will miss the first leg of the quarter-final through suspension but was delighted to advance.
"It's an immense joy to score in the Champions League. I didn't expect this," he said. "Over two games we deserved to qualify. Now we want to keep going."

The French league leaders suffered a blow before kick-off as Radamel Falcao, who scored twice in the first leg, failed to recover from a hip injury in time and was replaced by the versatile Valere Germain. Jemerson returned in place of the suspended Kamil Glik in defence, while Guardiola, who took charge of his 100th game in Europe, made two changes with Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov given the nod ahead of Nicolas Otamendi and Yaya Toure. Coach Leonardo Jardim had challenged Monaco to draw inspiration from the side which dumped out Real Madrid en route to the 2004 final, recovering from a 4-2 defeat in the first leg of that year's quarter-finals before knocking the Spanish giants out on away goals. And the hosts were inspired by 18-year-old Mbappe, who has emerged as one of Europe's most promising talents amid Monaco's thrilling pursuit of the French title this season. Willy Caballero stood tall to repel Mbappe's crisp early strike as he knifed through the City defence, but the Argentine goalkeeper was helpless as the teenager poked home Bernardo Silva's driven low cross just a minute later.

City recovered from twice falling behind in the first leg, but the opening goal emboldened Monaco as Germain unleashed a searing strike from distance that zipped not too far over. Guardiola had emphasised the best form of defence would be attack for City, yet the visitors struggled to settle and Monaco grabbed their second goal in not dissimilar fashion on 29 minutes. Lemar fed the ball into the overlapping run of Benjamin Mendy, a reported target of City's this summer, and the left-back picked out Fabinho to side-foot beyond Caballero. Mbappe's electrifying pace posed a constant threat for City, but the Premier League side gradually began to pose Monaco problems as well although Raheem Sterling's hesitancy allowed the hosts to clear as the England winger looked to tee up" Sergio Aguero. The Argentine striker then skied over from close range after Sane skipped past Andrea Raggi down the left-hand flank, before Danijel Subasic thrust himself superbly in the way after Aguero was picked out by David Silva inside the area. Sane broke in behind the Monaco backline once more but steered his effort the wrong side of the near post with Subasic charging off his line, but City finally broke through with 19 minutes left.

News source: The Times of India

Published in Sports


Sebastian Vettel set Ferrari's hopes for the 2017 Formula One season soaring by blitzing the fastest time seen in pre-season testing in Barcelona on Thursday. The German four-time world champion clocked 1min 19.024 despite appearing to ease off in the third sector of his fastest lap. "Reports indicate that #Seb5 backed off: could he have set a 1m18s time? The fun and games have well and truly started!" tyre manufacturer Pirelli tweeted. Worryingly for three-time defending champions Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton was three tenths slower on the same ultrasoft tyre compound used by Vettel. Hamilton, though, may have been suffering the after effects of a long night as he celebrated Barcelona's sensational Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain with Barca star Neymar into the early hours in the Catalan capital. McLaren's miserable preparation for the season, which gets underway in Melbourne on March 26, continued as electrical issues saw Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne stop twice out on the track and in need of a tow back to the paddock.

News source: Times of India

Published in Sports


Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho strongly defended Paul Pogba on Wednesday, saying critics of the world’s most expensive player are envious and “in real trouble with their lives.” Pogba, a United academy graduate, returned to the club last year after four years at Juventus for 105 million euros (then $116 million). 

The France midfielder has had a sporadic influence on the team, with only three assists and four goals in 25 Premier League games. Mourinho, though, maintains that he is “very happy” with the 24-year-old Pogba and believes any criticism is harsh and unwarranted.

“I feel that the world is losing values and we all know that,” Mourinho said. “Envy is coming into certain levels that I am scared with, especially with the next generation if things go in this direction. “It’s not Paul’s fault that he gets 10 times the money that some very good players did in the past. It’s not his fault that some of the pundits are in real trouble with their lives and they need every coin to survive and Paul is a multimillionaire. It’s not his fault. I think he deserves respect.” Pogba is United’s most marketable player, with advertising hoardings displaying his dedicated Twitter emoji during recent games at Old Trafford. United broke the world transfer record to re-sign Pogba, who left in 2012 in bitter circumstances when his contract expired after falling out with then-manager Alex Ferguson. After making only seven appearances as a substitute in his first spell at United, Pogba flourished in Italy. He returned in August as one of the brightest young talents in the game. “(He is) a kid that came to Manchester as a teenager, that fought for his career here, that was not afraid to move and go to another country and to look for better conditions for him,” Mourinho said. “A kid that reached the top of the world with his work. Nobody give him anything.”

News source:  Indian Express

Published in Sports
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