News Flash – 1 July 2017

National News



GST rates: Here’s your complete guide



Most of the goods and services have been listed under the four broad tax slabs – 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent. Some items like gold and rough diamonds have exclusive tax rates while some have been exempted from taxation. As India wakes up to a new tax regime, here is a quick guide to all the goods and services and their respective tax slabs:


Tax exempted




A number of food items have been exempted from any of the tax slabs. Fresh meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk, butter milk, curd, natural honey, fresh fruits and vegetables, flour, besan, bread, all kinds of salt, jaggery and hulled cereal grains have been kept out of the taxation system. Bindi, sindoor, kajal, palmyra, human hair and bangles also do not attract any tax under GST. Drawing or colouring books alongside stamps, judicial papers, printed books, newspapers also fall under this category. Other items in the exempted list include jute and handloom, Bones and horn cores, hoof meal, horn meal, bone grist, bone meal, etc.




Grandfathering service has been exempted under GST. A low budget holiday may get cheaper as hotels and lodges with tariff below Rs 1,000 are in this category. Rough precious and semi-precious stones will attract GST rate of 0.25 per cent.




5% tax





An array of food items such as fish fillet, packaged food items, cream, skimmed milk powder, branded paneer, frozen vegetables, coffee, tea, spices, pizza bread, rusk, sabudana, cashew nut, cashew nut in shell, raisin, ice and snow will be priced at 5 per cent tax. Apparel below Rs 1000 and footwear below Rs 500 are also in this category. Some items in the fuel category like bio gas, kerosene and coal are in this slab. Items from the health industry in this category include medicine, insulin and stent. Other items in this slab are agarbatti (incense sticks), kites, postage or revenue stamps, stamp-post marks, fertilizers, first-day covers and lifeboats.




Transport services like railways and air travel fall under this category. Small restaurants will also be under the 5% category Gold has been taxed under a separate slab of 3 per cent.


12% tax




Yet another category of edibles like frozen meat products, butter, cheese, ghee, dry fruits in packaged form, animal fat, sausage, fruit juices, namkeen and ketchup & sauces will attract 12 per cent tax. Cellphones will also be priced in this category. Cutlery items like Spoons, forks, ladles, skimmers, cake servers, fish knives, tongs fall in this slab. Ayurvedic medicines and all diagnostic kits and reagents are taxed at 12 per cent. Utility items like tooth powder, umbrella, sewing machine and spectacles and indoor game items like playing cards, chess board, carom board and other board games like ludo are in this slab. Apparel above Rs 1000 will attract 12 per cent tax.




Non-AC hotels, business class air ticket, state-run lottery, work contracts will fall under 12 per cent GST tax slab.


18% tax




Another set of consumables are listed under the 18 per cent category- biscuits, flavored refined sugar, pasta, cornflakes, pastries and cakes, preserved vegetables, jams, sauces, soups, ice cream, instant food mixes, curry paste, mayonnaise and salad dressings, mixed condiments and mixed seasonings and mineral water. Footwear costing more than Rs 500 are in this category. Items like Printed circuits, camera, speakers and monitors, printers (other than multi-function printers), electrical transformer, CCTV, optical fiber are priced at 18 per cent tax under GST. Other items in this slab include bidi leaves, tissues, envelopes, sanitary napkins, note books, steel products, kajal pencil sticks, headgear and its parts, aluminium foil, weighing machinery (other than electric or electronic weighing machinery), bamboo furniture, swimming pools and padding pools.




AC hotels that serve liquor, telecom services, IT services, branded garments and financial services will attract 18 per cent tax under GST.


28% tax




The residuary set of edibles which include chewing gum, molasses, chocolate not containing cocoa, waffles and wafers coated with chocolate, pan masala and aerated water fall in this category. Bidi attracts 28 per cent tax. An array of personal care items like deodorants, shaving creams, after shave, hair shampoo, dye and sunscreen are in the highest tax slab as well. Paint, wallpaper and ceramic tiles are priced at 28 per cent. Water heater, dishwasher, weighing machine, washing machine, ATM, vending machines, vacuum cleaner, shavers and hair clippers have been clubbed together in this slab. Automobiles, motorcycles and aircraft for personal use will attract 28 % tax – the highest under GST system.




5-star hotels, race club betting, private lottery and movie tickets above Rs 100 are under the 28 per cent category. The GST on restaurants in five-star and luxury hotels has been reduced to 18 per cent from 28 per cent, bringing it at par with standalone air-conditioned (AC) restaurants. Even at some air-conditioned restaurants, the bills may come down, as GST will subsume service tax and value-added tax (VAT) that is currently charged.



Burglars drill hole in roof, flee with phones



MUMBAI: Three masked men drilled a hole into the roof of an electronics store in Borivli (E) and made away with 250 mobile handsets and cash, collectively worth Rs 64 lakh. The incident was reported around 3am on Wednesday at Hari Om Customs Collections. CCTV cameras installed inside the store captured the trio in the act, but their faces cannot be seen as they were masked. “Usually, burglars break open shutters of stores they want to target. But in this case, the burglars must have realised it is risky do so as policemen patrol the streets at night. There is narrow lane behind the shop. The climbed on the roof of the shop from this lane,” said a police officer. While the CCTV footage shows only three men, there is a possibility that there are more people involved. “The trio may have asked their associates to stand guard behind the shop,” said the police officer. The burglars took away 250 handsets worth Rs 59 lakh and Rs 5 lakh in cash. Looking at the modus operandi, police suspect the burglars to be habitual offenders. A case of house break-in has been registered at Kasturba Marg police station.



Pre-tax sales drive buying frenzy

Crowd of buyers at an electronics shop at Laxmin Nagar in East Delhi ahead of GST launch on Friday.


New Delhi: The weeks leading up to the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) regime have been a rare win-win situation for customers and retailers: both have profited from the uncertainty over prices. In fact, retail stores and e-tailers have witnessed almost frenzied sales in response to the eye-popping discounts of up to 70% offered by manufacturers through June to clear their inventories. E-tailer Myntra’s end-of-reason sale led into pre-GST sales. Paytm Mall, the e-wallet firm’s online marketplace arm, joined the retail bandwagon to cash in on the pre-GST — rational or irrational — exuberance. Two weeks ahead of the GST rollout, Flipkart and Amazon were wooing buyers with steep rebates of 30% to 70%. At Vijay Sales’ consumer electronics stores in Mumbai, most items going for 50% less were sold out, but discounts of up to 45% were still to be had. And the consumer footfall across their Mumbai stores was 70% higher than in the same period last year. “It’s like a mini-Diwali,” Vijay Sales managing partner Nilesh Gupta said. South India-based electronic and electrical appliance chain Vivek & Co, which offered concessions of between 10% and 40%, said it recorded “tremendous sales” pre-GST. “The footfall was particularly heavy on Thursday and Friday. Sales in many of our showrooms were 100-200% higher than in the same period last year. People are preferring to buy big-ticket items such as TVs, refrigerators, washing machines and ACs rather than small-budget items like kitchen appliances and mobiles,” said Vivek & Co CEO Srinivasa B A. At Chennai’s Phoenix Mall, sales and discounts were higher at electronics and gadgets showrooms than at those for fashion apparel, footwear and perfume.


At Landmark, a chain of stores that sells books, soft toys, coffee mugs and VCDs, among other things, in the Tamil Nadu capital, sales have been unusually brisk. “Even though demand is high, our inventory is very low. We had a lot more customers than during the Christmas and New Year sales,” said Landmark Group CEO Jerry Mathews. “The primary problem is many large brands have reduced their inventory. They don’t want to stock up because of uncertainty around pricing and taxation. Many brands are planning to build up inventory only after 10-20 days,” Mathews added. Product prices are expected to go up by about 4-5% after the introduction of GST, said retailers. Companies are liquidating stocks by offering discounts and cutting down on inventory levels before the new tax regime begins. An Ezone spokesperson said: “We have seen a good response in zero-margin sales with close to a 30% increase in footfall. Consumers are flocking to the stores. The best-selling items were mostly high-ticket products like high-end TVs and mobiles”. At Nykaa, the online beauty store, discounts of up to 35% were being offered on cosmetics and toiletries brands. Company executives were at pains to explain GST would not lead to a price hike but retailers profited from the uncertainty. “The new tax regime is historic. Tax ranges have been announced, and we don’t see a major impact on sales in the GST era too,” Flipkart fashion head Rishi Vasudev had told TOI recently. A senior executive from a top e-tailer said companies were using GST to fuel sales beyond the usual sale days.



Outstation train derails near Kalyan, services hit



KALYAN: Central Railway (CR) services were affected till around 10.30pm on Friday after a wheel of the engine locomotive of 12618 Nizamuddin-Ernakulam Mangala Express derailed near Kalyan station around 2pm. No injuries were reported in the incident as the train’s speed had decreased to 15 kmph and the driver immediately applied emergency brakes. The engine was derailed at 3.55pm and the train was taken to Kalyan station around 4.15pm. The Kasara-Kalyan Up services were badly hit after the incident and 15 services were cancelled. “We operated 25 special services on the Titwala-Asangaon and Dombivli-Thane sections,” said a CR spokesperson. CR chief public relations officer Sunil Udasi said that continuous announcements were made about the incident. An inspection team visits the spot in Kalyan to conduct a probe. Due to the incident, several local and long distance trains were left stranded near Kalyan and commuters from Shahad and Ambivli were seen walking along the tracks. Mohammed Aslam, a resident of Ambivli, said, “I witnessed several outstation train passengers walking on the tracks with their families and luggage to reach Kalyan station”. Two bogies of a goods train decoupled near Kurla station around 2pm on Friday, disrupting services on Harbour line. Technicians took nearly 45 minutes to reattach the bogies. Commuters were fuming as they waited for local trains to arrive while the platforms were packed. Officials said that the problem was rectified within half an hour, but the train services ran 20-30 minutes behind schedule.



‘Need to have separate police force for women, children’



HYDERABAD: A separate cadre of police is required to curb crimes against women, said Prakash Singh, president of the Indian Police foundation during a nationwide stakeholders’ consultation meeting on safety of women and children held in Hyderabad city on Friday. Various volunteers from different sectors joined the consultation meet organised by the Indian Police Foundation in association with Telangana police to discuss challenges and barriers faced in combating violence against women and children. Seconding Singh’s opinion, even the Telangana director general of police (DGP) Anurag Sharma stressed the need to have a completely separate police force to address safety concerns among women and minors. “Around 50 per cent of women and 40 per cent of young boys have been abused sexually or otherwise, at some point in their lives. But these haven’t been recorded because their own family pushes it under the carpet,” said Sharma.


Nayini Narasimha Reddy, home minister, who too attended the meeting, stressed on the need to introduce new methods to ensure that justice prevails for women and children. “State government had passed orders to employ 33 per cent more women in the police department soon after it came into power. Although cases related to women and children have diminished, more effective steps are to be taken to address the issue at the ground level,” said the minister. Mahendar Reddy, commissioner of police, Hyderabad encouraged women to approach Bharosa Centres to raise their grievances. “Victims don’t have to go to each police station to file their grievances. Instead, they can just approach Bharosa centres, which is regularly visited by medical experts and NGOs, where they will be taken care of,” said Reddy. Recommendations put forth by participants of the consultation meeting will be compiled and submitted to the union government for policy-making and better implementation of laws, said N Ramachandran (retired DGP) and the president of the IPF.



TN government appeals to cinema theatres to screen short films on road safety



CHENNAI: Close on the heels of raising the penalty for traffic violations, the transport department has requested cinema theatres in Tamil Nadu to screen short films on road safety before the start of the film or during the interval. According to a release from the office of the principal secretary and transport commissioner, the department commissioned seven short films to create awareness among the public on road safety to reduce road accidents. The short films educate the viewers the importance of not using cellphones while crossing roads and driving vehicles; wearing seat belts and helmets; avoiding drunk driving; safe driving and respecting traffic rules. There is also a short film on the 108 ambulance services. The release said the short films have already been sent to all cinema theatres. A copy of these short films is available free of cost at the office of district collectors, zonal joint/deputy transport commissioners.



Aadhaar-PAN seeding: Citizens queue up at centres to update details



BENGALURU: With linking of the unique identification number with Permanent Account Number (PAN) becoming mandatory, Aadhaar centres across Bengaluru are witnessing a huge rush of citizens seeking to make corrections in name, date of birth and other details. The integration request is rejected on the income tax(IT) department’s online platform if there is a mismatch in Aadhaar and PAN card details. Hence, Aadhaar holders are eager to get their cards updated in time. Another reason for the rush is the GST rollout on July 1, as traders and other establishment need the 12-digit UID number for registration. Pronab Mohanty, deputy director general, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), said “With the central and state governments issuing various notifications prescribing Aadhaar requirement to avail of various services, there is a huge demand from people to update their details. The rush in Bengaluru is mostly attributed to Aadhaar-PAN linkage”. Mohanty said more than 3 lakh people across the country are applying for Updation every day, seeking changes in names, addresses and mobile numbers. “The number is likely to touch 6 lakh during the next few months as more and more services get linked to Aadhaar,” he added.


Enrolments take a backseat: Operators at many Aadhaar centres said they have been dealing with massive crowds for two weeks now. Most said the demand is more for Aadhaar Updation and in some centres, new enrolments have been stopped to facilitate revisions. Vinod S, a computer operator at an Aadhaar enrolment centre in Sarjapur, said, “There is a massive demand for Updation of Aadhaar cards. Many users complain they haven’t been able to link Aadhaar with PAN. We have stopped new enrolments for now.” Attibele and Anekal centres are witnessing even longer queues, he added. Vidyashree, who had gone to a Shivajinagar centre to apply for an Aadhaar card, returned empty handed. “I wanted to enroll but was told the operators were concentrating only on Updation. I waited for hours but no to use,” she rued. A senior official with UIDAI said they have stopped the Updation process at their head office along Race Course Road as they are not in a position to manage the crowds. However, some centres are doing both Updation and enrolment. “We receive hundreds of visitors every day and try to do our best. Even then, we have to ask some of them to return the next day,” said Narayana Kumar, a computer operator at the Attibele centre.



International News



Five militants blow themselves up during raids in Lebanon: Army



BEIRUT: Five militants blew themselves up during raids on two refugee camps in eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria in which seven soldiers were wounded, the army said. Four of the suicide bombers struck in one camp near the border town of Arsal, wounding three soldiers. Troops recovered four explosive devices during the raid on the Al-Nur camp. One militant blew himself up in a second camp near the town — Al-Qariya — while another militant threw a grenade at troops wounding four of them. The raids, which are aimed at “arresting terrorists and seizing weapons,” are still ongoing, the army command said. The civil war, which has raged in Syria since March 2011, has triggered an exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees into neighbouring Lebanon and has repeatedly spilt over. There have been multiple clashes along the border between the Lebanese army and jihadists of the Islamic State group or onetime Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front. Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah has intervened in the war in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.



Australia creates first military cyber-division



SYDNEY: Australia has created its first military cyber-division, a government minister said on Friday, seeking to expand hacking attacks on foreign enemies including Islamic State. “This is a result of the changing character of contemporary conflict,” Dan Tehan, the minister assisting the Prime Minister on cyber-security, told reporters in Melbourne. The new unit, known as the information warfare division, will allow Australia to increase the sort of cyber-attacks made on Islamic State that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said last year were making valuable contributions to efforts to loosen the militant group’s hold in Syria and Iraq. Cyber-attacks supplement air strikes and other warfare activities that are part of Australia’s role in the US-led coalition battling Islamic State, the country’s defence force said. The new unit will also be responsible for defending Australia’s armed forces against cyber-attacks, Tehan said. Another government agency will expand its remit from defence to begin cyber-attacks on offshore criminals, Tehan also said. The moves come amid a wave of global cyber-assaults, including one this week that originated in Ukraine and the WannaCry ransomware attack in May that infected computers in nearly 100 countries. Australia has largely escaped significant damage from the attacks, though Tehan said the global impact demonstrates the need to take the cyber-fight to the foreign hackers. “We have to make sure that we are keeping the mums and dads, the small businesses, the large businesses, government departments and agencies secure in this nation,” he said.

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