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Cheer to film industry as Govt slashes GST on movie tickets

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In what can be a relief to film industry and movie buffs, the government of India has slashed the Goods and Services tax on movie tickets. As per the council’s latest decision, GST levied on cinema tickets above 100 will be reduced from the existing 28 percent to 18 percent and on tickets below 100 will be reduced from 18 to 12. These rates will come into effect from January 1st 2019.

This decision by government has come as a big cheer to film industry as it will benefit both filmmakers and audience. The producers guild of India has thanked the government for this progressive step which will give a big boost to the industry. Recently, a delegation of film industry met Narendra Modi and discussed several issues that have been plaguing the industry. Government has rightly paid heed to the recommendations and reduced the GST.

As the GST is reduced, it is now up to the theatre owners to take decision on slashing the ticket rates.

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One year of GST: Long way to go for a simple, uniform tax regime

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Touted as the biggest economic reform since Independence, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was supposed to replace the complex indirect tax system prevalent in the country with a more simplified, uniform regime.

As its roll-out completes one year on June 30, it can be argued that while India has come a long way from a complicated taxation system, with over a dozen different taxes and many more cesses, GST is still far away from an ideal taxation regime.

Also, the one year journey of the GST has not been a smooth one either with glitches and teething problems experienced from day one. While many of those glitches were addressed by a proactive government, some still remain to be resolved including simplification of return filing and further rationalisation of tax rates.

According to NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar: “GST has put the economy on a completely different paradigm now because more and more pressure will be on people to register under GST and bring their economic activity into the formal sector.”

It is not enough only to analyse the one year journey, but it is important to understand the future roadmap.

While many economist would argue that an ideal GST structure should have a universal coverage and a single tax rate, most would also agree that it was not practical for a country like India with vast economic disparities. This is a stand the government has also maintained often giving the example that “a BMW car and a Hawai ‘chappal’ (flip-flops) can’t be taxed at the same rate”.

However, having six different rates — 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent apart from some items being taxed at zero per cent and gold at 3 per cent — makes India’s GST one of the most complex in the world, something acknowledged by the World Bank in its biannual India Development Update report.

“To make things worse, petroleum products, power and real estate have been kept outside the GST ambit,” the report noted.

It added that not only India has one of the largest number of tax slabs, but at 28 per cent, it has the highest standard GST rate in Asia and the second highest in the world after Chile.

Soon after the new indirect tax system was rolled out, NITI Aayog Member Bibek Debroy — who is now also the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council — had told IANS that “India is a long way off from the ideal GST structure and it may not get there anytime in the near future”.

Favouring a maximum of three GST rates with all items covered, Debroy had said that starting with seven rates, “depending on how you count it”, has put India in a situation where it may not get to the ideal GST.

Fast forward to present. The economy is still grappling with the rather high multiplicity of tax rates while also debating bringing petroleum products, electricity and other items into the GST net with little clarity in the picture.

While there has been expression of intent by the government to merge some of the tax slabs, there has been little progress on that front so far.

Right from the first day of the roll-out on July 1 last year, there were technical glitches appearing on the GST Network portal causing a lot of hardship to taxpayers in registering on the network. There were often instances of the portal not being able to take the load of last-minute rush to file returns, forcing the government to postpone the filing deadlines several times.

The glitches also led to export refunds piling up, resulting in a grave situation of cash crunch for exporters, whose working capital was getting blocked.

However, to address this, the government initiated two special fortnight-long drives (extended by a few days later) to process pending refunds — one in March and another in June — clearing a major portion of the backlog while some still remains.

To address the GST network issues, the GST Council has set up a five-member ministerial panel headed by Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi to oversee its functioning and smoothen the process.

“GST is a very huge and complex exercise and one has to be honest that it could be implemented better and the details could have been (better) thought through,” the NITI Aayog’s Kumar told IANS.

While there was consensus that no reform could be undertaken without some glitches and teething problems, which could be addressed as we go along, one major concern was that GST might lead to some loss of revenue, especially for the states.

This fear almost came true when GST collections fell for two consecutive months from over Rs 92,000 crore (later revised to Rs 95,132 crore) in September to Rs 83,346 crore (later revised to Rs 85,931 crore) in October, and Rs 80,808 crore (later revised to Rs 83,716 crore) in November.

This prompted the GST Council in its December meeting to prematurely roll out the e-way bill mechanism for inter-state movement of goods from February 1 to plug gaps and check tax evasion.

The e-way bill portal crashed on Day One prompting the government to extend the trial period and eventually postponing the roll-out to April 1.

According to the NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, in a country like India, which is proud of its IT sector, there is hardly any excuse for the IT systems not to work.

However, when the system was rolled out the second time on April 1, the technical issues were sorted out and infrastructure boosted enough for a smooth implementation. The revenue collections also picked up subsequently crossing the Rs 1 lakh crore mark in March (collected in April) — which was, however, attributed to the financial year-end effect — and then again showing credible buoyancy in April when it crossed the Rs 94,000 crore.

Kumar said now that the GST has stabilised, it would give a massive fillip to economic activity.

Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said earlier this week that GST had now entered a “smooth phase” with good tax compliance. He added the priority of the government would now be simplification of tax return forms.

Deloitte India Partner Prashant Deshpande said while GST has resolved the issues of multiple taxable events and double taxation, there are some concerns which still need to be addressed.

“On the legislation side, GST can be improved by extending it to petroleum products, electricity, land and building which are currently taxed under old laws… The number of tiers in tax rate structure are required to be reduced to resolve classification issues,” Deshpande told IANS.

On the execution side, he added, prime concern is the GST compliance infrastructure “which is complex and cumbersome” which needs to be replaced with “a simple and robust compliance system”.

It would a while before such a system comes into effect.

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GST Row: Troubles continue for Ram Gopal Varma

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Maverick director Ram Gopal Varma landed in troubles for God, Sex and Truth and he has been investigated by CCS Police during February. His mobile and laptop have been seized and have been sent for forensic lab for further investigation. Now the CCS cops received fresh complaints against RGV that GST has been shot in Hyderabad. However the ace director during his investigation revealed that he shot the film in Poland and not in India.

Ram Gopal Varma will be summoned once again and will be asked to attend before the CCS cops. A youngster even approached the cops saying that RGV copied the concept from him and the youngster even submitted all the proofs. On the other side, the CCS cops are waiting for the forensic report to proceed further and are expected to verify RGV’s passport soon if he flew to Poland for the shoot of GST. RGV is said to face the heat once again in GST row. Further details are awaited.

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Did RGV shoot GST in Hyderabad ?

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It seems RGV is landing in soup so soon. GST film is bringing lot of troubles. It is known news that Women social activists have filed cases on him for his inappropriate comments and Police started digging into this. It seems they are finding some shocking revelations in their investigation.

In the last inquiry, RGV told police that GST film has been shot in Poland and European countires, where making a porn film is not a crime. But, as per the news from a leading daily, RGV has shot the film in a hotel in Hyderabad itself and they ascertain they have all evidences for the same. If this is true, RGV will be in soup as making porn is a crime in India. Also, the hotel in which he shot this will also face trial.

We will have to wait and see, for the next twists in this RGV thriller.

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Tollywood’s top producer booked for GST evasion

Top Tollywood producer who scored back to back hits in the recent times has been under scanner for evading Rs 7 crores GST. The top producer is said to have collected the taxes from his clients on time. Hyderabad GST Commissionerate of Central Tax investigated the top producer after which he admitted the mistake. Sources revealed that he paid Rs 2 crores on spot and urged 10 days time to pay the balance amount.

Right after he admitted about the evasion, a statement has been recorded and he was summoned. The top producer is said to have produced three back to back blockbusters in the recent times. A top official from the Hyderabad GST Commissionerate revealed that this producer has not been paying GST from the past seven months despite of collecting them from his clients. Their investigation revealed that the producer spent over Rs 60 crores in these months on film production. Stringent action will be taken on those who collect GST from their clients and ignore paying it back to the government revealed an official.

A non-bailable warrant along the five years of imprisonment can be imposed in such cases. Though it has been widely speculated to be Dil Raju, his team denied the allegations saying that Raju has been clean and clear in paying the taxes.

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Woman Activist Mani turns down RGV’s apology on Live TV Show!

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In recent times, the Telugu TV news channels have turned out to be an ombudsman, trying to resolve disputes between two individuals, or groups. Be it the case of Mahaa TV that worked to solve the dispute between Kathi Mahesh and Pawan Kalyan fans, now TV9 comes forward in making Ram Gopal Varma apologize to woman activist Mani.

Ram Gopal Varma was seen in a live TV show in TV9 studio. The maverick director attended the Cyber Crime Police upon being served notices. While explaining the drama that had unfolded at the CCS premises, Ram Gopal Varma stood by his word. Leaks surfaced that, RGV claimed, he did not direct the film physically by via a Skype video, during the live TV show.

Speaking on this, RGV said, ‘I am not detaching myself from GST. I still stand by the claim that, I’m the one behind creating GST. And moreover, my remarks over woman activist Mani, about casting her in GST2 were uttered in a humorous manner. I convey my apologies if my remarks have offended her or embarrassed her’.

Soon the activist was pulled up over a phone call by TV9. The woman activist simply turned down the apologies offered by Ram Gopal Varma and called for strict and stringent actions against him.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Live Updates – CCS Police 10 Questions to RGV

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It is a curtain call for the controversial filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma. It is a well-established fact that RGV dwells in controversies by making controversial statements. Let it be the political leaders or film celebrities, no one has escaped under his radar.

Similarly, during a live show on a Telugu news channel, the director went on to make some coarse comments on two woman activists. This attracted the both media’s attention and Law’s attention, with the women filing a case against RGV.

The CCS police have asked RGV to attend an interrogation session today. The maverick director entered the premises of CCS police at around 11:00 am in the morning and is yet to come out. Few media leaks surfaced from the ongoing interrogation. Following are the 10 questions, the police have supposedly questioned RGV:

  • Why did you come with a film like GST?
  • How did you shoot the adult scenes with Mia Malkova?
  • Don’t you know according to the IT act, the portrayal of a woman in an undignified manner is against the law?
  • From where did you source out the images posted on your Facebook and Twitter accounts?
  • Why did you come up with uncouth comments against a woman (Devi) from Vishakhapatnam?
  • Did you state that you would shoot a porn movie starring ‘Woman Activist’ Devi?
  • How can you defend yourself that Indian law doesn’t apply to GST?
  • Did you shoot the film in the US?
  • Who produced GST?
  • For how much did you sell GST to the website?

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

RGV makes a fortune with GST

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Maverick filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s name is synonymous with controversies. Despite not delivering a decent flick since many years, RGV’s name continues to make headlines in media time and again due to his contentious statements.

This time, he chose somewhat an off-putting route to seek attention from media and people. He made a short film, GST( God Sex and Truth) with porn star Mia Malkova and proclaimed it as a philosophical treatise. As soon as the trailer of this adult film got released in YouTube, Varma came under the ire of many social activists and women welfare groups. However, he went ahead paying no heed to the warnings and released the film through online.

RGV is a known expert in promoting his controversial films by creating needless fuss in media. He adopted a similar strategy for GST and finally made a fortune with it.

GST, with all the controversies it raked before its release, generated a revenue of 9 Crores, which is 15 times its investment. The film was made on a shoestring budget of 65 lakhs. After all the hype that has surrounded the film after its controversies, around 600K people have watched the paid version of GST in online. This has fetched a revenue close to 9 Crores. Many enthusiastic followers of Mia Malkova bought subscription of GST and watched it.

Well, it looks like RGV has exploited the vacuous attitude of people by raking needless controversy and at the end of it all he was laughing all the way to the bank.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

GST has stabilised, opportunity for rationalisation: Jaitley

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Days after the GST collections picked up after falling for two straight months, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the GST structure had stabilised, which offered an opportunity to further rationalise tax rates and increase the tax base.

Ahead of the Union Budget announcement on February 1, the Minister also hinted at some relief for taxpayers as he made a case for rationalisation of direct tax structure considering the fact that “the tax base has expanded”.

“The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has brought about total change in the tax structure of indirect taxes within the country,” Jaitley said at the Investiture Ceremony and International Customs Day 2018 here.

“Compared with what has happened across the world, it has stabilised in a much shorter period in India,” he said.

Jaitley’s remarks come days after the central government announced that the GST collections had picked up after falling for two straight months and touched Rs 86,703 crore in December compared with Rs 80,808 crore in November.

Indicating further cuts in GST rates, Jaitley said this stabilisation of the GST structure offered the government an opportunity to increase its base and rationalise its structure as it continued to evolve.

The GST Council had, in its meeting on January 18, decided to slash the GST rate on 54 services and 29 items.

In its November 10 meeting, the council had removed 178 items from the highest 28 per cent category while cutting tax on all restaurants outside starred-hotels to 5 per cent.

The Finance Minister said: “In income tax, the base has become larger; it’s bound to enlarge. And, therefore, charging higher rates from few selected groups — which is traditionally been done — is an area which has been changing.”

Notably, the net direct tax collections witnessed an increase of 18.7 per cent till January 15 this fiscal compared with the corresponding period last year.

The Minister said the the role of the Customs Department was also evolving with the changing nature of the economy and the increased availaibility of technological tools.

“In customs also, tariffs have been rationalised. (Due to) the increased focus on ‘Make in India’, plus availability of a large number of goods and commodities within the country, the nature of Customs Department itself has changed.”

Jaitley said the Customs Department was facing the twin challenges of detection along with facilitation.

“The department has twin role to play. You ought to have a detection machinery in place so as to ensure that tax evasion does not take place. At the same time, you have to be a trade facilitator which makes entry into borders easy,” he said.

“It is in the larger interest of domestic economy to ensure that trade facilitation takes place.”

He said the department had to find a balance between the two seemingly contradictory roles.

Jaitly also urged the customs officials to bring greater efficiency in cross-border trade which could go a long way in improving India’s ‘ease of doing business’ ranking.

“Out of the 10 criteria that the World Bank follows, there are at least three — relating to municipal permissions of land and buildings, trading across borders and contract enforcement — which are not very difficult to satisfy. If we hit the bullseye on these three, then to come down to substantially below 100 (rank) is reasonably possible.

“And when it comes to trade across borders, the Customs Department has a very significant role to play,” he said.

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RGV responds to plagiarism allegations

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I gave work to one Jai who I came to know is known as Jay kumar without him having any background credentials only out of my habit if encouraging new people which I am known for. Even though his work was below par I gave him numerous chances to prove himself.

I work with assistant writers with whom i continuously bounce my ideas both orally and over mail and this I do with multiple writers and directly depending upon their individual contribution i decide on the credits to be given/not given. Everyone knows I am known for my pathbreakingly original thinking and out of the box ideas and also there were numerous instances where I gave credit to even sources not directly connected to the movie

In such a scenario Jai is one of the various writers whom i used to interact in this manner for over a year or so. Jai was caught multiple times stealing from the office and committing financial fraud and also theft. After many warnings he was removed from office some 8 or 10 months back and now he suddenly surfaced falsely claiming plagiarism towards me ..The written material of God ,Sex and Truth which he put on the public domain which he is claiming to have sent to me is actually either stolen or hacked or passed on to him

The very fact that he put out the script is self explanatory that his intention is of causing harm and not to protect his own property..or else how would he assume from a few lines in a 2.5 mint trailer, that the whole script is that ?

The writing of God,Sex and Truth are in the mails of atleast 15 odd people who worked on the project in various capacities over the past 3 months. In fact God Sex and Truth was conceptualised and I started working on it only in the last 3-4 months, whereas Jay was removed from service some 10 months ago. I kept quiet all this time because I dint want to draw attention to such criminal minded fraudsters

But now I initiated stringent civil and criminal proceedings against him invoking various sections of the Indian penal code and I already reported to the cyber crime division with regard to his criminal activities

Since he was working with me over a long time ,multiple ideas and scripts were bounced off him among many others and a criminal minded guy like him may anytime come and claim ownership on anything like how he’s claiming now..So in the interest of protecting the material which doesn’t belong to him and to make an example of thieves like him I decided to do the above.

– Ram Gopal Varma

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MM Keeravani music for RGV’s film with porn star

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MM Keeravani music for RGV’s short film

Maverick director Ram Gopal Varma made a short film that with the title ‘God, Sex and Truth’, (shortly, GST). Sensational thing about this is it stars American porn star Mia Malkova. One more interesting news that came out now is – the music for this video is provided by none other than M M Keeravani.

RGV posted: “M M Kreem’s spiritual musical score for #GodSexTruth created a pinnacle of emotions thus underscoring the deepest of the depths of its soul. This is my first collaboration with MM Keeravaani 25 years after kshanakshanam.” Keeravani, who made films like Kshanakshanam, Annamayya, Sreeramadasu, and Bahubali is providing BGM for the first time in his entire career, for this kind of a film.

On the other hand, Mia Malkova shared in social media: “Thank you Ram Gopal Varma for shooting ‘God, Sex and Truth’ with me. It’s been an exhilarating experience to see myself through your vision,” she shared in social media along with a photograph of herself sitting nude in front of Varma, who is seen explaining her a scene from the video.

RGV , who has not given a hit film in last several years, has been creating sensations not with films but his projects and his maverick personality.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

GST impact to slowdown India’s 2017-18 GDP growth to 6.5%

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Implementation of GST and subsequent slowdown in the manufacturing sector is expected to drag down India’s growth to 6.5 per cent in 2017-18, official data showed on Friday, even as industry analysts projected economic growth to be higher due to a favourable base effect.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) projected that economic growth rate for 2017-18 will be lower than the 7.1 per cent achieved in 2016-17.

According to Chief Statistician T.C.A. Anant, the de-stocking disruption caused by the GST implementation has impacted the full-year Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates.

The CSO’s estimate of national income for 2017-18 showed the GDP at constant (2011-12) prices for 2017-18 is likely to attain a level of Rs 129.85 lakh crore.

“The growth in GDP during 2017-18 is estimated at 6.5 per cent as compared to the growth rate of 7.1 per cent in 2016-17,” the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation said in its estimate of National Income for 2017-18.

Earlier, the country’s GDP growth for the second quarter of the current fiscal ended September 30 was 6.3 per cent — up from 5.7 per cent reported during the first quarter of 2017-18.

The Gross Value Added (GVA), which includes taxes, at basic constant prices (2011-12) is anticipated to increase from Rs 111.85 lakh crore in 2016-17 to Rs 118.71 lakh crore in 2017-18.

“Anticipated growth of real GVA at basic prices in 2017-18 is 6.1 per cent as against 6.6 per cent in 2016-17.”

The data disclosed that sectors like ‘public administration, defence and other services’, ‘Trade, hotels, transport, communication and services related to broadcasting’, ‘electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services’ and ‘financial, real estate and professional services’ registered a growth rate of over 7 per cent.

On the other hand, growth in the ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’, ‘mining and quarrying’, ‘manufacturing’ and ‘construction’ sectors “is estimated to be 2.1 per cent (from 4.9 per cent), 2.9 per cent (from 1.8 per cent), 4.6 per cent (from 7.9 per cent) and 3.6 per cent (from 1.7 per cent)”, respectively.

Releasing the GDP first advance estimate, Anant said their projections for the entire fiscal showed that the nominal GDP calculated at market prices is expected to grow at 9.5 per cent, which is lower than 11.75 per cent estimated in the Union Budget presented last February.

The nominal GDP will be used as the benchmark for most indices in the forthcoming Union Budget to be presented on February 1.

“Implicit calculation suggests growth in the second half of 2017-18 will be better thatn the first. For the next two quarters we have projected a growth 7 per cent..so the increase of Q2 will be maintained,” he told reporters here.

“Number of figures had come in low for the first quarter for the GDP coming in lower at 5.7 per cent because of industry reaction in anticipation of GST (Goods and Services Tax) coming in,” the CSO said.

Anant said that with more corporate data now being available since the second quarter, including the GST collections for November, although GDP is estimated to growth further, the dampening effect of the first quarter’s fall would pull down the grwoth rate for the full year.

He also indicated that the government could find it difficult to achieve its fiscal deficit target of 3.2 per cent of GDP.

“Assuming that budgetary targets will be met, which gave a fiscal deficit of 3.24 per cent, our figures estimate it to be at 3.29 per cent, which rounding off becomes 3.3 per cent,” he said.

Reacting to the numbers, analysts said they expect GDP growth for the fiscal to go above the 6.5 per cent-mark due to a favourable base effect.

“The advance estimates for the full year have been based on limited data, which would be available for a period of 6-9 months for different sectors. Therefore, they are not fully factoring in the expected pickup in growth in the later months of FY2018, related to a favourable base effect and a ‘catch up’ following the subdued growth momentum in H1 FY2018,” said Aditi Nayar, Principal, Economist at rating agency ICRA.

“Accordingly, the advance estimates for GDP and GVA growth appear to be understating economic expansion for FY2018, in our view,” Nayar said.

“Since these estimates are based on data till November 2017, it has not captured the latest up-tick in the vehicle sales and the improvement in the steel and cement sectors; we expect the final numbers to be revised upwards as and when they happen,” said Arun Thukral, Managing Director and CEO, Axis Securities.

“Given the tepid growth estimates from agriculture, it gives us a feeling that the budget 2018 will have a higher focus on agriculture and rural economy. And as the estimates are missing the RBI expectations, the central bank is likely to pause in its next policy meeting in February 2018.”

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GST made 2017 most significant year for economy since Independence

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The 70th year since Independence will go down in Indian history since the country switched over to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, realising, thereby, the vision of a unified market in a federal system that guided the nationalist bourgeoisie in joining Mahatma Gandhis struggle to liberate India from the British.

Of course, the structural reform came accompanied with pain for trade and industry caught off-guard by the rigours of new compliance procedures. Queried by corporate leaders at industry chamber Ficci’s 90th AGM here earlier this month on how GST was impacting through lower tax collections, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley put the onus on them.

“It is you from industry, who have been calling for so long to bring GST… and no sooner do these initial problems in implementing a reform of such scale appear, then you want to go back to the system we’ve had for 70 years,” he said.

The earlier system was a myriad of central and state taxes where the movement of goods was slowed down by products being taxed multiple times and at different rates.

State level taxes replaced by the pan-India GST include state cesses and surcharges, luxury tax, state VAT, purchase tax, central sales tax, taxes on advertisements, entertainment tax, various forms of entry tax, and taxes on lotteries and betting.

Central taxes replaced by GST are service tax, special additional customs duties (SAD), additional excise duties on goods of special importance, central excise, additional customs duties, excise on medicinal and toilet preparations, additional excise duties on textiles and textile products, and cesses and surcharges.

The new indirect tax regime unifying the Indian market has four tax slabs of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent.

It has a novel feature whereby goods and services providers get the benefit of input tax credit for the goods used, effectively making the real incidence of taxation lower than the headline taxation rate.

The second half of the year saw a radical reworking of the items within the four-slab tax structure by the supremely federal institution of the GST Council, whereby all but 50 of over 1,200 items remained in the highest 28 per cent bracket. Those retained included luxury and sin items, the cess on which goes to fund the compensation to states for the loss of revenue arising from implementing GST.

With the Council’s decisions last month, GST has been cut on a host of consumer items such as chocolates, chewing gum, shampoos, deodorants, shoe polish, detergents, nutrition drinks, marble and cosmetics. Luxury goods such as washing machines and air conditioners have been retained at 28 per cent.

Eating out has become cheaper as all restaurants outside high-end hotels charging over Rs 7,500 per room will uniformly levy GST of five per cent. The facility of input tax credit for restaurants has, however, been withdrawn as they had not passed on this benefit to consumers.

Petroleum, including oil and gas, is a strategic sector that is still not under GST, while the industry has been pushing for its inclusion so as not to be deprived of the benefits of input credit.

Including real estate is another matter pending before the GST Council.

On the functioning of the Council, Jaitley who is its head, had this remarkable insight about the way in which it had effected such large-scale rationalisation of the item rates in a short span of “3-4 months”.

“Everything has been achieved by consensus in the best spirit of cooperative federalism. There has been no politics, even from states which are controlled by opposition parties,” he told a gathering of industry leaders here.

The other side of GST was revealed through what the International Monetary Fund described as “short-term disruptions”.

With businesses going into a “de-stocking” mode on inventories in anticipation of the GST rollout from July and sluggish manufacturing growth, among other factors, pulled down growth in the Indian economy during the first quarter of this fiscal to 5.7 per cent, clocking the lowest under the Narendra Modi dispensation. Breaking a five-quarter slump, a rise in manufacturing sector output, however, pushed the growth rate higher to 6.3 per cent during the second quarter (July-September) of 2017-18.

Besides, technical glitches appearing on the GST Network portal, often unable to take the load of last-minute rush to file returns, marred the filing of returns by traders, forcing the government to postpone filing deadlines several times. The glitches also led to export refunds piling up, resulting in a grave situation of cash crunch for exporters, whose working capital was getting blocked.

In the final analysis, the GST balance sheet is provided by Gita Gopinath, Professor of International Studies and Economies at Harvard University, who is also the economic adviser to the Kerala Chief Minister.

“GST is a real reform. It is a way of formalising the economy. It is a very effective way of ensuring tax compliance, making it harder to earn black money. I mean, nothing ever goes away completely, but it just makes it harder to make it happen,” Gopinath said in Mumbai earlier this month.

The icing on the cake came with the World Bank announcing earlier this year that India had jumped 30 places in its Ease of Doing Business rankings to get among the top 100 countries on the list. Though reforms in India’s direct tax regime figured among the parameters considered in evaluation, GST had not been taken into account by the multilateral agency since their cut-off date was June 30.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Silambarasan Comes Up With New Song On GST, Note Ban

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After Kollywood actor Vijay’s Mersal movie criticized the demonetization drive and Goods and Services Tax (GST), a huge controversy broke out thereafter.

Now, in a recent development, criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s note ban and the GST, another Kollywood actor Silambarasan or STR or Simbu has come up with a song – Thatrom, Thookrom – Demonetisation Anthem. On the anniversary of the note ban, the ‘Thatrom, Thookrom – Demonetisation Anthem’ was released.

Through Vijay’s character, the makers of Mersal took on demonetization and the GST. The actor, Silambarasan now took a dig at the two of the biggest economic reforms of the Modi government. “No cash! Let’s celebrate without asking questions….let’s learn to barter…let’s watch the film with our eyes shut,” Silambarasan sings in the Thatrom, Thookrom – Demonetisation Anthem.

Ever since the song has been released, the actor has been given police protection.

The Vijay Mallya episode was also mentioned in the song. He said that the tax evaders are on run while the common man is suffering in the country. “Those who earned the money honestly have to see their money become useless, while black money has turned white,” the song points out. A veiled attack on other actors like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan who ‘blindly supported’ the demonetization was also made.

“The citizen has given his support (Rajinikanth) and has extended blind support (Kamal Haasan),” Silambarasan sings. The actor concludes the song with an attack on the GST roll-out. “We thought it was over, but GST came!” he ends emphatically.

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Note ban, GST ‘twin blow’ to economy, winds of change blowing in Gujarat: Manmohan

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Former Prime Minister and leading economist, Manmohan Singh on Tuesday lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led NDA government over the “twin blow” of demonetisation and GST, which he termed a “complete disaster” for the economy and said that winds of change are blowing in Gujarat and time has come for Gujaratis to repose faith in the Congress party.

Reiterating his earlier statement when he termed demonetization an economic blunder, Manmohan Singh said that due to the effects of demonetization and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Chinese imports have grown by a whopping 23 per cent in just one year.

In his speech campaign for the Congress party at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial auditorium, Singh hit out at the NDA government for the two drastic steps taken said that November 8 was a ‘Black Day’ for the economy and democracy of the country.

“The cash in circulation after one year is close to 90 per cent of previous levels. The fact that more than 99 per cent of the demonetized currency came back into the system has punctured the government’s claims of its success.”

Addressing more than a thousand from the businessmen and traders fraternity, Singh said, “The pain of the informal sector is inadequately captured in the GDP calculations, as the 5.7 per cent under the new calculation is bound to be a gross underestimate. What is even more tragic is that none of the lessons from this monumental blunder has been learnt by the government.”

“Instead of providing relief to the poor and the marginalized farmers, traders and small and medium businesses as I had requested in the Parliament, who suffered the brunt of demonetization, the government chose to inflict on them a badly designed and hastily implemented GST.”

According to the former Prime Minister, “this twin blow was a complete disaster for our economy, breaking the back of small and medium business in India”.

“India’s imports from China stood at Rs 1.96 lakh crore in the first half of 2016-17. During the same period in 2017-18, it increased to Rs 2.41 lakh crore, an unprecedented increase of 23 per cent in imports, attributed mainly to demonetization and GST.”

“What is terrible for the country is that, the fear of tax terrorism has eroded confidence of businesses to invest. The growth in private investment is at a 25-year low. Did the Prime Minister stop to consider the wisdom of Mahatma when asking the Governor to sign on the dotted line of demonetization or while implementing GST in haste? Did he think about the impact on those who toil in informal sector whose earnings dried up because of shortage of cash? Did he think about the millions of people who lost jobs and had to return to their villages in despair? If the Prime Minister had paid attention to the Mahatma’s talisman, the poor of India would not have to suffer the way they did,” said Singh.

On the GST front, he said, “When undertaking the endeavour of One Nation, One Tax, if the Prime Minister had taken inspiration from the resolve and attention to detail of Sardar Patel, the outcome would have been different. Bravado and drama are poor substitutes for courage with conviction and the ability to execute well.”

“Today, one year after demonetization, large sections of the country feel that they have been taken for a ride by their government. Their trust has been betrayed,” said Manmohan Singh.

The former Prime Minister even criticized the ‘Bullet Train’ project. He said, “While our existing passenger rail network is lanquishing and needs a dire infusion of funds to improve both safety and speed, the ‘Bullet Train’ project was launched with much fanfare, sadly an exercise in vanity and which will neither benefit the 6.5 crore Gujaratis nor the nation. The past year saw the highest number of deaths due to derailment accidents in more than a decade, but the government’s priorities are misplaced.”

“Did the Prime Minister consider the alternative of introducing high speed rail network across India and upgrade the existing infrastructure? Instead of the Bullet Train project, the UPA government had requested the Japanese to fund the ‘Dedicated Freight Corridor’ and signed the deal in 2005. The UPA project will create a multiplier effect on the economy with upgradation of transportation technology, increase productivity and reduction in unit transportation costs,” Singh added.

Questioning the rationale behind the anti-nationalistic slur thrown on those who question Narendra Modi and the NDA, Singh asked, “By questioning the Bullet Train, does one become anti-development. By questioning the outcome of demonetization and GST, does one become a tax evader? Does questioning the drop in GDP make one an anti-national?”

“My friends, questions must be asked again and again on the soundness of policy and the lack of transparency,” he said.

Coming to the issues faced by Gujarat state, which has been dubbed as the model state in the country by the BJP, Singh said, “While across India, the title deeds to the forest dwellers and tribal have been disposed of at the rate of 87 per cent, Gujarat lagged behind with a poor 44 per cent. On every social indicator like infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, female literacy, Gujarat has fallen behind the best performing states like Himachal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka.”

On the numerous agitations among the youth of different sections of society in Gujarat, Singh said, “The winds of change are blowing in Gujarat. The agitations are an indication of the deep dissatisfaction with the performance of successive BJP governments in Gujarat. The Congress will ensure the voice of every Gujarati, regardless of caste, creed, gender or class will be heard.”

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

‘Mersal’ controversy: Criticising GST is perfectly legitimate, says Shatrughan Sinha

Former actor and BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha has extended his support to actor Vijays Tamil film “Mersal”, which had some controversial dialogues about GST and the Digital India programme. He says people should support the movie and not remain defensive about the “perfectly legitimate issue”.

“Why are we so defensive about a perfectly legitimate issue that has been raised in the Tamil film regarding healthcare and the GST? As entertainers and actors with powerful voices we have a certain duty towards the public to make them aware of socio-political issues,” Sinha, who’s is a BJP member of Parliament from Patna, said.

He added: “Why is it such a crime if Vijay who is a very powerful Tamil actor, reminds us that the poor in our country desperately need healthcare?”

“Mersal” was embroiled in controversy after the Tamil Nadu unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded the removal of certain dialogues which take a dig at the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Digital India.

However, Sinha feels that the protestors of the movie don’t represent the BJP’s official view.

“Has anyone heard the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) or any of the top leaders commenting on the issue? It is only some elements in our party who are eager to prove that they are more loyal than the others,” Sinha said.

“They are the ones jumping in to attack this perfectly harmless and very significant point raised in the film. Instead of attacking Vijay and questioning his credentials we should all take his words seriously and work towards improving healthcare in our country,” he added.

Sinha feels there is no harm in pulling up the government for mistakes.

“We should gracefully accept that demonetisation was a mistake. I was one of the first to point it out that it was not right. So many have lost their jobs, all their savings. Likewise perhaps even the GST is not what it was meant to be,” he said.

“If so, let’s admit out mistake, let’s roll back. Let’s not be ashamed to say we are sorry. Instead of attacking actors and artistes for drawing attention to anomalies in the workings of our democracy, we should applaud them. Valid criticism must be equally welcome from Amar, Akbar and Anthony,” he added.

He believes that the film has received a lot of hype because of BJP.

“Thanks to all the noise that was made over a few dialogues in the film by my overzealous party members, the film has attracted much more attention that it would have otherwise. The makers of ‘Mersal’ must be thankful to the BJP,” he concluded.

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GST Intelligence Agency Raids on Vishal

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Tamil and Telugu actor Vishal has been surprised by a team of GST Intelligence Agency who conducted raids on Vishal’s residence and other premises which includes the office of his production house Vishal Film Factory. Vishal has been elected as the President of Tamil Nadu Film Producers Council and is the Secretary of Nadigar Sangham. The raids have been initiated at 2 PM and a source revealed that the raids have been conducted in regards to the GST records that are being paid by the production house and Vishal.

The actor is said to have submitted all the requested documents and the details are expected to be out soon. Recently Vishal made some comments on Tamil Nadu BJP leader H Raja after he revealed that he watched Mersal pirated version.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Chennai multiplexes strike against double taxation on tickets

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Multiplexes here went on strike on Tuesday in protest against the levying of an additional tax over and above the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) announced.

This step is in response to a notification issued by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) levying a Local Body Entertainment Tax (LBET) of 20 per cent on non-Tamil films, and 10 per cent on Tamil films with effect from September 27 in addition to the 28 per cent GST on cinema tickets.

“All multiplexes operating in Chennai have announced that they are going on strike starting today,” a statement from MAI said.

MAI President Deepak Asher appealed to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and GCC Commissioner to consider their request to withdraw the LBET levied on the film exhibition industry in Chennai immediately.

“We believe such withdrawal will ensure the survival of the film industry and will support an environment of safe, secure and wholesome entertainment option for the population of Chennai. On the other hand, continuance of an LBET in addition to GST will render cinema exhibition unviable and will eventually kill the film industry,” Asher said.

Even the Producers Guild of India affirmed its support to the decision of the multiplex cinema chains in Chennai.

Siddharth Roy Kapur, President of the Producers Guild of India, said: “The decision of Tamil Nadu government to impose LBET to GST on cinema tickets is a highly retrograde step and the Producers Guild of India urges the Tamil Nadu government to withdraw this regressive tax at the earliest in the larger interests of all sectors of the Indian film industry.”

The Guild members in a recent meeting had expressed concern that if the LBET is not withdrawn, “it will lead to a significantly huge burden on the pockets of the local audience in the state who would have to shell out in excess of 50 per cent tax on cinema tickets”.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Top BJP leader’s sensational comments on recession in India and on Modi government

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BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha, a former finance minister, has made sensational comments in his article titled “I need to speak up now”. He says, the economy of the country is on a downward spiral. He says, “I shall be failing in my national duty if I did not speak up even now against the mess the finance minister has made of the economy. I am also convinced that what I am going to say reflects the sentiments of a large number of people in the BJP and elsewhere who are not speaking up out of fear”. His analysis led to a very wide debate among the economists, politicians and common public alike. Highlights of his detailed analysis are as below.

Recession: He remarked, ” Private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades, agriculture is in distress, construction industry, a big employer of the work force, is in the doldrums, the rest of the service sector is also in the slow lane.”

Demonetization: He also responded on demonetization. He told demonetization is not responsible for this deceleration as the deceleration had started much earlier. But demonetization only added fuel to fire.

GDP: He commented on GDP too. He told that the methodology for calculation of the GDP was changed by the present government in 2015 and according to the old method of calculation, the growth rate of 5.7 per cent is actually 3.7 per cent or less.

Mr Sinha predicts that a revival by the time of the next Lok Sabha election “appears highly unlikely” and “a hard landing is inevitable.”

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Exporters’ woes under GST: Working capital stuck as refunds not available

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Exporters are having a tough time since the roll-out of the new indirect tax regime as the online facility to claim refunds is not yet available, with many even postponing shipments as they grapple with low funds, stakeholders and experts have said.

The worries are greater for small and medium exporters who have a turnover of less than Rs 20 crore as their cost of working capital has significantly risen with refunds not coming so far under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.

“We estimate an additional working capital of Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 crore for us. At present, refunds can’t be claimed as Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) system is not yet operational. We have to pay GST on procurement and also keep control on all vendors to ensure that they pay GST,” Vilas Phule, CFO, Magna Steyr India, which exports engineering services in the automobile sector, told IANS.

The company with a monthly turnover of Rs 6 crore to Rs 8 crore, exports services worth Rs 4 crore to Rs 6 crore every month.

Certainly, this was putting exporters in a lot of working capital pressure, he added.

Jigar Doshi, Partner, SKP Business Consulting, said: “At present, exporters are unable to file refund claims online as no facility/utility is available at GSTN website and is unknown as to when it will be made available. Now, working capital blockage is proving to be big hurdle particularly for small exporters, who do not have deep pockets.”

GST expert Pritam Mahure said, “In GST regime, exporters are facing challenges as the upfront exemption is not available and given this working capital of exporters is getting blocked. I hope that the government forms a high level committee to address their challenges or else the working capital blockage can derail the struggling exports scenario in India.”

In the previous indirect tax regime, exporters enjoyed upfront tax exemption on goods to be exported. But under GST, exporters are procuring goods and services on payment of GST. This credit of GST, which is available with exporters is supposed to be claimed as refund.

Under GST, there is also Integrated GST applicable on the export turnover, for which there are two methods available — one to export without payment of GST (under cover of Letter of Undertaking or Bond) and second with payment of IGST and then claim refund of it.

“In our case, we have 80 per cent export of services. Hence, GST paid on procurement of services which needs to be claimed as refunds. If exemptions, similar to the one given under previous indirect tax regime, are granted then the funds blockage can be optimised along with reduction in unnecessary administrative work for paying GST and then claiming refunds,” Phule said.

The former GSTN Chairman Navin Kumar, who retired recently, said, “For exporters, it is not yet available. For exporters there is going to be a separate form where he can claim refund of IGST. Currently the online facility is not active on GST portal.”

Amar Kulkarni, CFO, Hoerbiger India, which exports gas compressor valves for the petroleum industry, said, “Given the working capital pressure, many exporters are postponing the exports and are struggling for funds. This entire process of claiming refund by exporter can be eased through upfront exemption.”

The exporter is required to capture details of monthly export for GST return and this is a tedious work, he said.

Another exporter Samir Oke, who exports thermocol for refrigerators admitted that his company was facing a problem of blockage of working capital with GST.

“Even, in case of procurement from unregistered vendors, the company is required to pay GST which further leads to increase in working capital requirement,” Oke, CFO, K K Nag Pvt Ltd, told IANS.

“We faced numerous challenges in obtaining a Letter of Undertaking for exporting goods without IGST. The said procedure was expected to be online but practically we had to visit and follow up with the authorities for the same,” he added.

Doshi said, “Prior to GST regime, there was no requirement to obtain Letter of Undertaking for exporting services, which is mandatory in GST regime and given this service exporters face numerous challenges. The government should identify key challenges faced by exporters and address the same immediately.”

Further, the refund of GST can be claimed only if the vendors pay GST and this is required to be tracked by the company, which is leading to more hassles for the exporters.

“There are various requirement as far as input tax credit is concerned. It is very difficult to communicate with numerous vendors and ensure that they are paying GST. The company is required to ensure that vendors are paying and filing returns in case of a registered vendor. In case of unregistered vendor, the company not only has pay the GST but is also required to raise the tax invoice and payment voucher, which is a tedious and time consuming process,” Oke said.

Hoerbiger India said, “We are being held responsible for compliance by vendor, which is unreasonable as SME exporters don’t have manpower to ensure all these.”

To add to the woes, recurring breakdowns of the GSTN system are making things worse for the exporters.

“GSTN system is not ready and we are facing numerous errors in the system during filing of GST returns,” Magna Steyr India said.

Hoerbiger India said, “Exporters are investing a lot of time during return filing process as the GSTN system is not robust. If such problems continue then the company will have to focus only on returns on that export.”

There is no surety on whether the tools or website will work on a particular day as due to traffic surge GSTN system was down multiple times, thus exporters are facing challenges in filing of GST returns, Oke protested.

Anita Rastogi, Partner, PwC – GST and Indirect Tax, said, ” The largest issue being faced by an exporter is that of additional working capital requirement. There are teething problems being faced by exporters on the procedural side. It is important that the interests of exporters are safeguarded and this should be taken on priority by the government.”

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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