With my compliments I would like to draw your attention to some of the important issues, namely, GST, Scrapping of Cesses, TIES, etc. Unfortunately because of space limitation the highlighting here is in abridged form. But you may read more in the ‘Rubber India’ News section (infra).
GST: Reportedly, 1st July 2017 is the target date for GST rollout. Meanwhile, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved four GST related bills, namely (1) The CGST Bill, (2) The IGST Bill, (3) The UTGST Bill and (4) The Compensation Bill.
Scrapping of 16 Cesses for GST rollout: The Centre abolished 16 cesses and surcharges on excise and service tax, in preparation of GST implementation. The decision to remove these cesses was approved along with the amendments to the Customs Act, the Customs Tariff Act, Central Excise tax and repeal of the Central Excise Tariff Act. The existing cess on petroleum products is untouched as it falls outside the ambit of GST.
Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES): The Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) on 15th March, 2017. The objective of the proposed scheme is to enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure, first mile and last mile connectivity for export-oriented projects and addressing quality and certification measures.
Labour laws: In the general budget speech 2017-18 the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, said that the government is keen on fostering "a conducive labour environment wherein labour rights are protected and harmonious labour relations lead to higher productivity". We seek your views and opinion as to the following basic questions for modernising the labour laws to meet the challenges of the 21st century:
What should we consider to be the priorities for a meaningful labour law reform agenda?
Do the existing regulations, whether in the form of law and/or collective agreements, hinder or stimulate enterprises and employees seeking to avail of opportunities to increase productivity and adjust to the introduction of new technologies and changes linked to international competition? How can improvements be made in the quality of regulations affecting SMEs, while preserving their objectives?
Is there a need for a “floor of rights” dealing with the working conditions of all workers regardless of the form of their work contract? What would be the impact of such minimum requirements on job creation as well as on the protection of workers?
How could minimum requirements concerning the organization of working time be modified in order to provide greater flexibility for both employers and employees, while ensuring a high standard of protection of workers’ health and safety?
Happiness: How happy are we in our country? Well, India ranked 122 out of 155 countries in the World Happiness Report 2017, four notches below its previous rank of 118 and behind Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
(Kamal K. Chowdhury)
PRESIDENT - AIRIA