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Crude politics

Daily revision of petrol and diesel prices has burdened the masses

Business Standard 

Crude politics

Daily revision of petrol and prices has burdened the masses, who already have skyrocketing prices of food items, edible oils and other articles of daily use to contend with.

Even as the agrarian distress worsens, a hike in the prices of petrol and by about Rs 5 per litre and Rs 7 per litre, respectively will aggravate the crisis, as there would be a cascading effect on people’s livelihood.

Globally, when crude prices were falling between 2014 and 2016, the  government had raised the excise duty on petrol and and earned  about Rs 3 lakh crore from July 2014 to March 2017.

The petroleum minister’s remark that global crude prices have risen due to factors such as Hurricane Harvey in the US does not hold up. Harvey hit the US two weeks ago, whereas prices of petrol and have been rising since May 2014.

The government should not play politics with the people on petrol and prices. It should revise petrol and rates in line with international crude prices, given that India imports 80 per cent of crude.

S K Khosla, Chandigarh

Not the end of the story

It must have been unnerving for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to find the utilisation of a staggering Rs 65,000 crore as central goods and services tax (GST) transitional credits for July alone. Attributing such utilisation to a possible “mistake or confusion”, the Central Board of Excise and Customs is said to have sought verification from those utilising credits of Rs 1 crore and above.

One would be inclined to believe that once “mistakes” or “errors” are detected amongst such units, the verification may have to be extended to units availing credit of less than Rs 1 crore as well.

This is not the end of the story. The amounts of such credits taken on value-added tax (VAT)-paid stocks that remained unsold as on July 1 are also eligible for transitional credits. State VAT authorities, therefore, have to undertake similar exercises. This would be a nightmare for both tax collectors and taxpayers.

Rules governing these complex transitional credits were notified just days before the introduction of the GST, leaving little time for traders to comprehend them for proper compliance. Despite persistent demands from all quarters, Jaitley was somewhat obdurate in not deferring the launch to September.
Till now, there has not been a formal division for exercising administrative jurisdiction over tax-paying units between the central excise and state VAT authorities. The net result is a total mess for which Jaitley as chairman of the GST Council cannot escape blame.

S K Choudhury, Bengaluru

Legalise bitcoin

The Weekend article, “Biting the bitcoin” (September 16), was an interesting read. In several countries such as the USA, Japan and South Korea, bitcoins have become popular and are in regular use, be it for paying hotel bills, import-export trade, in some cases, escrow accounts, and for making e-commerce payments. In India, transactions are yet to be legalised.

As the popularity of this cryptocurrency rises, the government has been trying to regulate its use. Recent comments by a top official of the Reserve Bank of India are discouraging and disappointing. The government is trying to bring transactions within the ambit of the Securities and Exchange Board of India. This goes against the interests of investors. These attempts appear whimsical; there is no need to panic so much over the or try to ban it.
Bitcoins should be declared legal tender in India. This will likely spur economic activity and help generate additional indirect tax revenues. Banks will gain in transaction charges. Bitcoins can fulfil the government’s digital push. This may also minimise black money. Stiff regulation of the will go against the Digital India initiative.

A Sathyanarayana, New Delhi

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First Published: Sun, September 17 2017. 23:20 IST