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Fri, 20th January 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “Government” Tag

Prosecutors seek arrest warrant for Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong

Special prosecutors in Seoul on Monday requested an arrest warrant for the de facto head of Samsung, the country’s largest company, as a corruption scandal that toppled president Park Geun-hye ensnared another powerful South Korean figure.

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and heir to the company, is wanted on charges of bribery, according to prosecutors who grilled the country’s top executive during a marathon 22-hour interrogation late last week.

Samsung were unable to comment immediately. However, the development will likely be a stunning blow to the company as its attempts to solidify the succession of Mr Lee as chief and to reform its corporate governance structure.

Italy Urges Europe To Begin Censoring Free Speech On The Internet

First it was the US, then Germany blamed much of what is wrong in society on “fake news”, and not, say, a series of terrible decisions made by politicians. Now it is Italy’s turn to call for an end to “fake news”, which in itself would not be troubling, however, the way Giovanni Pitruzzella, head of the Italian competition body, demands the European Union “cracks down” on what it would dub “fake news” is nothing short of a total crackdown on all free speech, and would give local governments free reign to silence any outlet that did not comply with the establishment propaganda.

In an interview with the FT, Pitruzzella said the regulation of false information on the internet was best done by the state rather than by social media companies such as Facebook, an approach taken previously by Germany, which has demanded that Facebook end “hate speech” and has threatened to find the social network as much as €500K per “fake” post.

Pitruzzella, head of the Italian competition body since 2011, said “EU countries should set up independent bodies — co-ordinated by Brussels and modeled on the system of antitrust agencies — which could quickly label fake news, remove it from circulation and impose fines if necessary.” 

In other words, a series of unelected bureaucrats, unaccountable to anyone, would sit down and between themselves decide what is and what isn’t “fake news”, and then, drumroll, “remove it from circulation.” On the other hand, coming one week after Obama give Europe the green light to engage in any form of censorship and halt of free speech that it desires, when the outgoing US president voted into law the  “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act”, it should come as no surprise that a suddenly emboldened Europe is resorting to such chilling measures.

So with Europe on the verge of rolling out unbridled censorship, here is the strawman used to justify it.

Bitcoin Soars To 3 Year Highs As China Turmoils

With Chinese liquidity markets turmoiling, bonds crashing, and gold premiums soaring, it appears growing concerns over capital controls tightening has sent Chinese fleeing into Bitcoin as a way to escape the mainland restrictions. Bitcoin is up over $30 today to its hghest since Dec 2013

We first warned of this ‘outlet’ for Chinese capital in September 2015 when Bitcoin was trading around $200… its just topped $830…

Need change in revenue audit methods to adapt to GST: CAG

Government auditor CAG is readying itself to adapt to the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime as new audit techniques would be required based on a unified tax system once it comes into force, a top official said today.”We will have to bring technological changes because GST is going to be implemented soon. We will have to change our ways and approach, as our approach of revenue audit was based on state levies and central levies. And we are already preparing ourselves for new techniques,” Deputy Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) H Pradeep Rao said here.

Rao was speaking at IPAI seminar on ‘Audit-an Effective Instrument of Public Accountability – The Changes Ahead.’

“The state governments are all on board with regard to GST and they will also have to integrate to the network (GSTN). So whether it is use of data analytics or use of technology, we are changing continuously. And we are making best efforts.”

‘Reveal who attended RBI’s Nov 8 meet’ -P Chidambram

Former finance minister P Chidambram on Tuesday demanded the Reserve Bank of India should make public minutes of its November 8 meeting whose outcome empowered government to scrap specified notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations.

On November 8, the Narendra Modi government in a televised address announced it was abolishing the legal tender status of Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,00 currency notes.

These high value notes comprised a huge 86 per cent of total currency in circulation and the decision has led to severe cash crunch in country causing inconvenience to the citizens.

“RBI should publish the minutes of meeting on Nov 8, let country know who were the directors who attended the meeting,” Chidambaram demands.

The government had banned these specified notes through an executive order instead of passing a legislation in parliament as part of its drive to curb black money and prevent recurrence of fake currency incidents.

According to the RBI Act, 1934, the Central Board of the apex bank takes a call on legal tender, its validity or invaldity, in circulation in country and proposes government accordingly.

Syrian Gov’t Forces Fully Control Over 95% of Aleppo’s Territory

Syrian Army servicemen in Aleppo.Over 95 percent of Aleppo’s territory are under Syrian government forces control, the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation Reconciliation stated Monday.

“Over the past 24 hours, the Syrian armed forces have liberated three quarters of the eastern part of Aleppo. Thus, over 95 percent of the territory of Aleppo is under government control. The total area of the part of the city’s east where the insurgents remain is no more than 10 square kilometers,” the statement said. Earlier it was reported that more than 13,000 civilians were evacuated of militant-controlled regions of Syria’s Aleppo in 24 hours. “In 24 hours, 13,346 civilians including 5,831 children were evacuated in 24 hours with support of the Russian reconciliation center from regions of Aleppo which remain under militant control,” the center said in a statement. According to the statement, 728 militants have surrendered and left eastern Aleppo. The Russian servicemen have also de-mined 7 hectares (17.3 acres) of the territory of eastern Aleppo, including a mosque, a school, a primary school and roads.

40-year JGB issuance set to hit 3tn yen

Japan’s Finance Ministry is set to boost the issuance of 40-year government bonds to a record 3 trillion yen ($26 billion) in fiscal 2017, betting on strong investor demand.

The issuance of two-year and other short- and medium-term bonds with negative yields will decrease due to low demand.

 The JGB issuance plan for fiscal 2017 will be finalized based on opinions the ministry hears at meetings with brokerages, life insurers and other market players. The meetings are scheduled for Friday and Dec. 19. The plan will be announced along with next year’s budget, which will be endorsed by the Cabinet on Dec. 22.
 It will be the first bond issuance since the Bank of Japan adopted a negative interest rate policy in January. The amount of JGBs issued periodically for institutional investors will decrease for the fourth consecutive year due to a decline in refinancing bonds. While the total issuance will decline, the issuance of superlong-term bonds with positive yields will increase.

The issuance of 40-year bonds will increase for the third straight year, rising nearly fourfold from fiscal 2008, when 40-year bonds made their debut. Investor demand for the 40-year bonds, with their relatively high yields, is expected to be strong. The increase in the issuance of superlong-term bonds might also prevent any uptick in demand for refinancing of short- and medium-term bonds.

India : PSU banks write off Rs 1.54 lakh crore bad loans

Public sector banks (PSBs) have written off Rs 1.54 lakh crore of bad loans between April 2013 and June 2016, Parliament was informed today. During 2013-14, all PSBs written off Rs 34,409 crore non-performing assets (NPAs). The amount increased further to Rs 49,018 crore in the following year. Banks wrote off NPAs of Rs 56,012 crore during 2015-16, Minister of State for Finance Santosh Kumar Gangwar said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

He further said that Rs 15,163 crore write-off of NPA has taken place during the first quarter of the current fiscal.

Replying to another question, Gangwar said, there were 661 NPA accounts above Rs 100 crore amounting to Rs 3.78 lakh crore from public sector banks as on March 31, 2016.

As on September 30, gross NPAs of public sector banks rose to Rs 6,30,323 crore as against Rs 5,50,346 crore by June end. This works out to an increase of Rs 79,977 crore on quarter on quarter basis.

Demonetisation: Crackdown on black money continues; Modi government plans 75% tax + 10% penalty for detection of undisclosed income

Continuing with the crackdown on black money, the Narendra Modi government is looking to introduce a new tax structure for undisclosed income. The government is proposing to levy a total tax, penalty and surcharge of 50% on the amount deposited post demonetisation. A higher taxe and stiffer penalty of up to 85% will be levied on those who don’t disclose, but are caught. The new tax scheme will be called Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for income disclosure.

FM Arun Jaitley introduced a bill to amend the Income Tax law. Those who choose to declare their ill-gotten wealth stashed till now in banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes under the Pradhan Mantri Grabi Kalyan Yojana 2016, will have to pay a tax at the rate of 30% of the undisclosed income. Additionally, a 10% penalty will be levied on the undisclosed income and surcharge called PMGK Cess at the rate of 33% of tax (33% of 30%).

Further, the declarants have to deposit 25% of the undisclosed income in a scheme to be notified by the government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The money from the scheme would be used for projects in irrigation, housing, toilets, infrastructure, primary education, primary health and livelihood so that there is justice and equality, said the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill.

Supreme Court directs central government committe to file report on NPAs in various banks

Following accusations from oppositons, claiming that the main objective behind the implementation of the demonetisation policy by the Narendra Modigovernment is to bail out the non performing assets (NPA) of banks, the Supreme Court had today asked the central government committee to file a comprehensive report regarding NPAs in various banks. With the next hearing for the issue is set to be on December 3, the apex court had directed the committee to submit recovery process with in three weeks. however, the SC didn’t stress on disclosing any names but ordered for a probe to figure out the root cause of bad loans.

Earlier, representing the Conngress Party, senior leader Kapil Sibal, had alleged the center for making attempts to bail out NPAs of banks, owed by many industrialists. The senior Congress leader said, “Out of the roughly 16,000 crore rupees in the market, the government hopes to see 10,000 crores placed in the banks. The balance 6,000 would be generated by the RBI and placed at the disposal of the government and the real objective of that fund was to pay off the non performing assets of banks.”

While Sibal claimed that, through the demonetisation policy, the money of the common people of the country will be used by the government, in the interest of rich industrialists, Union Minister and senior BJP leader N Venkaiah Naidu criticized the opposition for attempts to politicise the anti-graft policy.