Editors Column

This is time for a mini celebration of sorts. India should actually be proud of taking a definitive step towards evolving as a tax compliant society.  Finance ministry data released on Monday clearly demonstrates that about 5.6 million or 56 lakh more people have paid taxes and filed income tax returns in their bid to bring about a semblance of transparency in their personal dealings.

Sin tax of 28 per cent was acceptable on luxury items under the goods and services tax (GST) that became operational on July 1. On top of it, levying 15 per cent cess as part of revenue mobilisation drive to compensate states was also reconcilable.

It is strange that the opposition Congress that does not have an alternative political narrative smells conspiracies against itself everywhere. The Grand Old Party sees one such huge conspiracy hatched by BJP president Amit Shah to wean away its leaders, elected legislators and virtually disrupt the opposition camp.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley should go ahead and rationalise the GST rates, prune the slabs and rework the levies on specific products and services where serious lacunae are glaringly visible. Two major slabs of 12 and 18 per cent should be considered for merger in his next union budget that’s in all likelihood to be presented by December this year.

Industrial manufacturing seems to be in a mess which needs immediate attention and focused intervention from finance minister Arun Jaitley who’s already juggling too many tasks for the Narendra Modi government.

Pricing reforms could be painful at times. From subsidised food grains to cooking gas, linking consumers to markets has been a very gradual and protracted process thus far.

When it comes to monetary policy, it is very rare for a commercial bank to show the way to a central bank. But on Monday, the State Bank of India (SBI) cleared the decks for an imminent rate cut.

File your tax returns and financial statements in time or get your bank accounts frozen was the terse message sent across to companies by the Narendra Modi government.

Even as India focuses on black money and corruption with messianic zeal, the real action has taken place in Pakistan where sitting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been unseated by the judiciary with a 5-0 verdict. By disqualifying Sharif and his family, another of Pakistan’s fleeting trysts with democracy has once again been plunged into chaos.

Break up of  Mahagatbandhan or the Grand Alliance of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress in Bihar will have far reaching implications for disarrayed opposition parties and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at national level.

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