India to cut tax rates on some goods, services from Jan. 25

India's Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley can be seen in this file photo.(Reuters)
Updated 18 January 2018
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India to cut tax rates on some goods, services from Jan. 25

NEW DELHI: India will cut rates on some products and services under the new Goods and Services Tax (GST), the finance minister said on Thursday, in a bid to encourage greater compliance as revenues have dipped since the landmark reform was announced in July.
The Goods and Service Tax Council comprising federal and state finance ministers, agreed to lower tax rates on 29 goods and 53 services from Jan. 25, Arun Jaitley said after the meeting.
Businesses have raised concerns about high rates of taxation and cumbersome processes in GST, billed as India’s biggest tax reform in 70 years.
Asia’s third-largest economy faces the risk of missing its fiscal deficit target in the current fiscal year as lower revenue collection from slowing economic growth and teething troubles with value-added tax launched in July hit the economy.
The goods on which GST will be lowered include biofuel- run buses, used motor vehicles and diamonds and precious stones.
Tax on sales of liquefied petroleum gas by private firms for domestic use has been reduced to 5 percent from 18 percent.
In the services segment, India will cut taxes on transportation of crude, gasoil, gasoline, jet fuel and services relating to mining, exploration and drilling of oil and natural gas, among other things.
Jaitley also said the council would consider including petroleum products under GST in the next meeting, but did not give details.
The South Asian nation’s tax collection plunged after GST was implemented in July, which hit the economy and complicated tax filings for business.
The country’s tax indirect tax collections have been falling since the launch of GST, reducing to 808.08 billion rupees ($12.66 billion) in November from 940.63 billion in July.
To curb tax evasion, the government plans to roll out online monitoring of inter-state transport of goods beyond 50,000 rupees from next month.


Pakistan’s national airline to formally invite newlywed British royals to visit

Updated 22 May 2018
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Pakistan’s national airline to formally invite newlywed British royals to visit

  • Formal invitation letter will be delivered to the British High Commission, PIA spokesperson tells Arab News
  • Pakistan International Airlines hopes that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will visit the northern areas of the country, just as Princess Diana did in 1991

KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will formally invite Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the newlywed British royal couple, to visit the scenic northern areas of the country, the airline’s spokesman told Arab News on Monday.
“We have prepared the official draft of the invitation that will be delivered to the British High Commission in Pakistan on Tuesday,” said Mashood Tajwar, the spokesperson of the country’s national flag carrier.
“We are offering them to visit and enjoy the beauty of the northern areas of Pakistan on behalf of our managing director,” he added, saying that the royal couple would also enjoy the warm hospitality of the people of Pakistan.
In an apparent marketing move, PIA had earlier invited the newlyweds via a Twitter message to experience the splendor of the country’s northern areas, reminding them of Princess Diana’s four-day solo trip to the region in September 1991.
The princess had visited Peshawar and Chitral where she was presented with the area’s traditional cap, adorned with a beautiful feather, and an embroidered coat.
PIA also posted a picture of her wearing Gilgit-Baltistan’s traditional dress and sitting with two local children. The airlines offered to send the royal couple one of its aircraft if they accepted the invitation.
“We watched the Royal Wedding and remembered Princess Diana and her trip to the northern areas of Pakistan, and we thought how wonderful it would be for the newlyweds to visit our northern splendors as well. So, Prince Harry and Princess Meghan, we are ready, just let us know when,” PIA tweeted.
The invitation drew mixed responses on social media.
Some people expressed their readiness to welcome the royal couple, with some saying it was a nice gesture.
But others lambasted the airline for what they thought was its poor performance. “By the time they get to Lahore, the royal couple will have their first child,” mocked one social media user.
The country’s loss-making national flag carrier is aggressively working towards rebuilding its public image. However, it has been losing around Rs45 billion ($389.3 million) per year and its accumulated losses are estimated to be about Rs316 billion.
Recently, the Economic Coordination Committee approved a Rs20 billion bailout package for PIA — the fifth of its kind in one-and-a-half years.
The government has developed a strategic business plan to improve the performance of the airlines. The plan will prioritize segregation of non-core functions from core functions, product improvement, route rationalization, and cost reduction/optimization. It will also develop HR capability and modernize its IT systems.
PIA has refurbished its fleet of 32 aircraft. It has also abandoned unprofitable routes and increased the number of flights on profitable routes such as Saudi Arabia and China.