India cuts sales tax across sectors to ease pain of traders and consumers

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) stands with senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders as he addresses media representatives after arriving for the monsoon session of Parliament in New Delhi on July 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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India cuts sales tax across sectors to ease pain of traders and consumers

MUMBAI: India slashed the sales tax rate on over 50 products on Saturday in a move aimed at appealing to traders and the middle classes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government eyes next year’s elections.
Modi is seeking a second term in 2019 amid voter frustration over the abrupt implementation of a nationwide goods and services tax (GST) a year ago that has hit businesses and general public hard.
The GST council, headed by interim finance minister Piyush Goyal, agreed to lower the indirect tax slab on products such as paints, leather goods, bamboo flooring, stoves, televisions and washing machines from the highest rate of 28 percent to mostly 18 percent.
“The exercise was to ensure simplification and rationalization of GST and extend relief to the common man,” Goyal told a news conference in New Delhi on Saturday evening.
The tax rate on ethanol blended with petrol, footwear costing up to 1,000 rupees and fertilizer grade phosphoric acid has been cut to from 12 to 5 percent, Goyal said.
The council cut taxes on sanitary pads and fortified baby milk to zero, Goyal said.
In a boost to mobile phone manufacturing and electric vehicles, the tax rate on lithium ion batteries was cut from 28 percent to 18 percent.
“The decision taken today will increase compliance and the revenue impact on total tax collections will be marginal,” said Goyal.
The revised tax rates will be applicable from July 27.
Revenue collections from GST are a crucial pillar of government’s plan to cut its fiscal deficit in the current year. India’s GST collection for the fiscal 2017/18 was 98 percent of the budgeted target.
“The broad level reductions in rates could lead to lower tax collections,” said M S Mani, partner at consulting firm Deloitte India.
However, the tax cut will lead to higher sales which could offset revenue losses, Mani added.
($1 = 68.7300 Indian rupees)


Meet the Dubai ad men who pay you to sit in traffic

Updated 20 August 2018
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Meet the Dubai ad men who pay you to sit in traffic

  • Blockchain technology challenges traditional outdoor media
  • Adverts connect to driver mobile phone

LONDON: A new startup founded by UAE-based entrepreneurs is in the process of test-running a blockchain-based technology that could help people turn their cars into mobile advertising vehicles.
It could challenge the use of traditional advertising methods such as outdoor billboards, the founders of The Elo Network claim.
The platform — which has been set up by Mohammed Khammas and Mohammed Bafaqih and incorporated in the Cayman Islands — will enable people to be paid for displaying adverts on the side or back of their vehicles while they go about their daily routines of driving to work, the mall or doing the school run.
The adverts will feature low-frequency bluetooth ‘beacons’ that connect to the drivers' mobile phone which will be able to monitor when the driver is in the car and where the car is being driven.
There is a minimum threshold for the number of miles being driven a day, but the main prerequisite is that the driver is in the car. Drivers will still be paid even if stuck in a traffic jam.
Advertising clients will be able to put out requests that drivers head to a particular area — for instance to be close to a new brand launch — with drivers being paid up to 4 or 5 times more than their standard rate if they accept.
While the concept of paying people to use their cars for advertising is not new, it is the use of blockchain technology that will make The Elo Network particularly grounding-breaking in the advertising world, its founders said.
“Billboards are very expensive and static and don’t give you the KPIs and insightful information that brands want these days. You solve that by getting them that data,” Bafaqih said.
The Elo Network collates detailed data by tracking the movements of the drivers and their day-to-day activities. Data points such as a particular area’s population density can been collected.
The information will be encrypted ensuring that the brand will never know the identity of the driver, said Bafaqih.
“It creates data sets that didn’t exist before. You don’t have to worry about privacy but at the same time the brand can know about your patterns. They can know where you go in mornings, where you drive, what normal patterns are created in certain areas and countries,” he said.
This level of detail is increasingly important for brands looking to run targeted campaigns, and it is something that traditional billboards are unable to offer.
The technology will also be used to overcome the payment problems that other similar car advertising schemes have faced.
“Historically what happens, where there is a authority that is issuing payments, it causes a lot of problems. There can be disputes on how much they (the drivers) are owed or how many miles were driven or what campaign someone has done,” he said.
Under the Elo Network program, the blockchain technology allows you to create so-called “Smart Contracts” — which is a software protocol that enforces and verifies the performance of a contract.
“It says driver A is going to be paid — for example — a dollar per mile — so as the person drives he starts receives ‘IOUs’. Those IOUs are convertible at any time,” he said.
With no ‘middle man’ involved, the driver is able to redeem their IOUs and get paid as and when they want.
The network is currently at ‘proof of concept’ stage and is test-running the platform with a number of brands. It is anticipated that the network will be rolled out to the public toward the end of this year and early 2019.