Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
Stage Set For GST Rollout: The goods and services tax (GST) will be rolled out from 30 June midnight, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday, adding that companies will be allowed to file late returns for the first two months so that they can adapt to a new online filing system. At Sunday’s meeting, officials also agreed on several sets of GST rules, including anti-profiteering guidelines intended to prevent traders exploiting the reform to ramp up prices. The Union minister also announced the rates for several categories, including hotel rooms, restaurants and lotteries. The GST Council will meet again on 30 June, the eve of the launch, Jaitley said.
New Crackdown On Non-Performing Government Staff: The Union government has launched an exercise to review the service records of about 67,000 employees to identify non-performers. The exercise may result in punishment to those who do not conform to the code of conduct framed for them. It is a part of the government’s efforts to further improve the service delivery and governance system. Nearly 25,000 of these are from all India and Group A services – including the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Revenue Service (IRS), among others, said government officials.
50 Cities Ready For Metro Rail Project, Says Modi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said 50 cities in India are set to launch metro railway projects in an effort to enhance public transport. He was speaking after inaugurating the first phase of Kochi Metro for commercial operation in Kerala. “Foreign investment has been invited in this sector (and) 50 cities in India are ready to implement Metro rail projects,” Modi said. Efforts are being made to promote domestic manufacture of metro’s rolling stock, in line with the government’s “Make in India” vision, Modi said.
Air India Stake Sale On Cards? The government’s stake sale in loss-making national carrier Air India may get the cabinet nod this week. The cabinet note prepared by the Committee of Secretaries includes both the NITI Aayog’s recommendation of complete privatisation and the Civil Aviation Ministry’s proposal of a substantial reduction in the airline’s debt by sale of subsidiaries and assets before privatisation, a senior civil aviation ministry official has said The move comes about two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the go-ahead for disinvestment in the airline, which has accumulated losses of more than Rs 50,000 crore and has a debt of about Rs 55,000 crore.
Rosneft Planning Big Push In India: Russian oil giant Rosneft is planning to tap the retail fuel market in India in a significant way. “The Russian oil major who took over Essar Oil recently is planning in a big way to make inroads into India’s retail fuel market,” Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday said after attending the City Gas Distribution project to supply piped natural gas to households in Bengaluru. Both the companies have invested $13 billion in Indian market in the last financial year, he said and added: “It was one of the biggest deals in the oil industry in the world,” he said.
Kashmiri Youths Celebrate Pakistan’s Victory: Kashmiri youths came out in large numbers to celebrate Pakistan’s victory over India in the Champions Trophy final, making it very clear where their loyalties are. At some places, they clashed with security personnel after throwing crackers into their camps. In Srinagar, youths burst crackers, waved Pakistani flags and raised pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans. At Fatehkadal and Sakidafar in Srinagar and in Anantnag, police and paramilitary personnel used teargas shells to disperse youths throwing firecrackers into their camps. Celebrations were also reported from Tral, Shopian, Kulgam, Sopore, Baramulla and other parts of north Kashmir.
Ramakrishna Mission Chief Swami Atmasthananda Mourned: Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission president Swami Atmasthananda Maharaj, 98, died on Sunday after a prolonged illness. Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of Swami Atmasthananda. “The demise of Swami Atmasthananda ji is a personal loss for me. I lived with him during a very important period of my life,” Modi said. Born in Sabajpur, near Dhaka in the then undivided Bengal, the swami received spiritual initiation in 1938 from Swami Vijnananda, a disciple of Ramkrishna. He joined the Ramkrishna Order at Belur at the age of 22.
63 Die In Portugal Forest Fires: In one of the worst disasters in recent history, raging forest fires in Portugal have killed at least 62 people, most of who were burnt to death in their cars, the government said Sunday. The fire broke out on Saturday in the municipality of Pedrogao Grande in central Portugal, before spreading fast across several fronts. Nearly 900 firefighters and 300 vehicles were still battling the blaze as scenes of devastation could be seen around the town. More than 50 people were injured, five critically, including one child and four firefighters.
MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS
The Modi-Trump Meet Comes During A Flux When India’s Policy Response Is Based On Its Core Interests: Even as India prepares for, and learns to deal with, an evolving multipolar world, it too benefits from working with the US rather than against it. But if Trump does not get the message, or is too distracted to pay attention, then India will continue to hedge, investing energy in other relationships.
Farmers’ Distress: Just Ease Their Doing Business: Because farmers have no savings and, thus, no security, agriculture has become a fragile system that breaks under the slightest downside. Farmers need just returns to fulfil their role in producing food. India’s nutritional security depends on their entrepreneurial energy.
From Plate To Plough: Why Bumper Harvests Spell Doom: There is one problem on the agri-credit front that needs to be addressed urgently. Farmers need cash immediately after harvests to pay their debts from formal and informal sources. Warehouse receipt systems and giving the farmers advances against their stocks is the way to go.
The Importance Of Ease Of Doing Business: There is not, strictly, a one-to-one relationship between EoDB and good economic outcomes such as a higher level of GDP per capita or a higher growth rate. Firms in India are smaller and less productive than they should be, and burdensome regulation is one important culprit.
The New Phase Of RBI-Finance Ministry Conflict: Speculation is mounting on the “deteriorating” relationship between the Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the “attack” on the central bank’s autonomy. The ministry summoning members of RBI’s MPC for a meeting is the latest provocation for the speculation.
After Setting Darjeeling Hills On Fire, Banerjee Now Clueless On How To Douse The Flames: The Gorkha Hills are burning, and Banerjee is the stubborn ‘Nero’ who wouldn’t accept that it was she who set them literally, and proverbially, on fire.
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