Calcutta Chamber of Commerce: the oldest chamber of commerce in IndiaCalcutta Chamber of Commerce: the oldest chamber of commerce in India
 




 
Major Events 2013-14  
  July 22, 2014 The Conclave
Special Session on
"Helping Ordinary People to Do Extraordinary Things"

The session was addressed by Ms. Jillian Haslam, Motivational Speaker & Entrepreneur.

Ms. Jillian Haslam highlighted that the world remembers Kolkata not as a place where Mother Teresa and Swami Vivekananda belongs but they remember it as a place where there is acute poverty and children die because of hunger and malnutrition. She said, "We have to come forward to change the way people look at our city. One of the biggest challenges that I face in my endeavour to better the condition of the city is that people do not come forward to solve the problem. We have a lot of potential and we have changed the mindset of the world". Ms. Haslam enlightened, "I have created five teams for the youth, aged, women in need, children and the disabled. These people can come to our two centres or visit other institutes with whom we have tied up with to provide high-level education that includes leadership training, banking and negotiable skills".


  July 14, 2014 The LaLit Great Eastern
Panel Discussion on
UNION BUDGET 2014-15 - AN ANALYSIS?

The session was addressed by Mr. Amitav Kothari, Senior Chartered Accountant, Mr. Asrujit Mandal Director, Tax & Regulatory Practice, KPMG and Mr. Rajarshi Dasgupta, Associate Director, Tax & Regulatory Practice, KPMG.

Mr. Amitav Kothari remarked that "It is a Budget of missed opportunity". Expectations were high from new government. Some very bold & innovative long term measures and policy pronouncement would be there in the Budget which will give a kick start to the Indian Economy". Contrary to widespread expectations, there was no paradigm shift or breakaway from the pattern of the last few Budgets. No really major economic reforms were announced. Despite the inherited fiscal mess, no changes were proposed for expenditure (level or composition) or taxes.

Mr. Asrujit Mandal reiterated the same view that the budget lacked any measures which represented the much needed innovative or out of the box thinking on account of the low level of economic activities the country was facing. While the FM had said that the present Government is against making any retrospective amendments, he had not removed the retrospective amendments made in 2012 to the Income Tax Act. The FM did mention that the Government would set up a high powered committee (HPC) which would scrutinize all indirect transfers made in past and advise the tax department accordingly.

Mr. Rajarshi Dasgupta stated that the Budget turned out to be a good budget but was not much convincing & promising for the Corporate. What the FM done was predominantly to plug in certain loopholes, bringing in more power to the jurisdictional authorities, increased certain rates which was quite alarming. So far as GST is concerned, the FM had not made any clear roadmap but he had given some direction that by this year end he would come up with some roadmap about policy & time framework because GST needs some constitutional amendments.


  June 28, 2014 The LaLit Great Eastern
Panel Discussion on
CAN MEDIA BE UNBIASED?

The Session was addressed by Ms. Suhasini Haidar, Diplomatic Editor, The Hindu, Mr. Krishna Prasad, Editor-in-Chief, Outlook, Ms. Monideepa Banerjie, Kolkata Editor, NDTV, Mr. Suman Chattopadhyay, Editor, Ei Samay. The session was moderated Mr. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Independent Journalist, Educator and Commentator.

The media cannot be expected to be unbiased as journalism is all about having biases against several issues, journalists said debating on whether the media can be unbiased. Consisting of eminent journalists, the panel unanimously agreed on the fact that people would not like a media which lacks a strong opinion.

Speaking on the topic, The Hindu's Diplomatic Editor Suhasini Haidar said: "Journalists' biases consist of political beliefs, conditioning, nationalistic and commercial interest. Not all bias is bad. There is no State in India where a political party does not own or influence the media." Ms. Haidar said, in the age of proliferation of social media, one does not need the media for news. However, the media is required to ensure the credibility of news. Recounting an incident while on an assignment in Bangladesh, Ms. Monideepa Banerjie said it was comforting to know that corporatization exists in other countries too. Ms. Banerjie said "The ownership of a news channel or a newspaper is what governs a journalist's opinion,"

Talking about the role of the Indian media in the run-up to the general election in May this year, Mr. Krishna Prasad said TV channels and newspapers cannot change anyone's opinion if the country is going through a political churn. Elaborating on what is newsworthy and what is not, Mr. Suman Chattopadhyay said: "The question is not about bias. Thirty years ago I felt pride in reporting a story about acute poverty in a village in Bengal. The same story now is considered a non-story. Our consciousness has moulded us to see only political news and nothing else."


  June 20, 2014 The LaLit Great Eastern
Convention on
INDO NEPAL ECONOMIC RELATIONS

The Session was addressed by Mr. Tarun Vijay, Hon'ble Member, Rajya Sabha, Mr. Indresh Kumar, Hon'ble Social activist.

Mr. Tarun Vijay said that, "India and Nepal are perhaps the only two countries having an open border". "The trade between the two countries has increased several folds since last 18 years. It stands at 4.7 billion dollars, which is 66 percent of the Himalayan countries total trade". He further said bilateral ties would definitely get a boost in the rule of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and his counterpart Mr. Sushil Koirala who are sincerely working for healthier ties.

Mr. Indresh Kumar added that "India has been involved in various infrastructural projects in Nepal and may also play a crucial role in setting up of hydropower plant to solve the power crisis in Nepal, but still much has to be done and the government should give more priority to Nepal as it has given to Bhutan and other neighboring countries".


  May 20, 2014 The Park Hotel
Talk & Interactive Session on
EXPANDING TRADE & BUSINESS BETWEEN INDIA AND GERMANY

The Session was addressed by Mr. Rainer Schmiedchen, Hon'ble Consul General, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Kolkata.

Mr. Rainer Schmiedchen asserted that "Germany is convinced that the long-standing relationship with India will continue and we are ready to help India". Stressing the importance of an India-European Union free trade agreement, the diplomat said it would be a strategic decision as huge markets in India and European Union were waiting to be tapped for mutual benefit.

A 20-member German business delegation will shortly visit India to exchange ideas on railway. The delegation will cover Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. He hoped that Narendra Modi, who will be sworn in on May 26 as the country's next prime minister, will replicate the success of Gujarat for the entire country.


  April 29, 2014 The Park Hotel
Talk & Interactive Session on
SERVICE TAX UNDER NEW NEGATIVE LIST REGIME

The Session was addressed by Ms Kameswari Subramanian, Chief Commissioner of Central Excise & Service Tax, Kolkata Zone.

Ms Kameswari Subramanian said in her speech that the Finance Bill 2013 which was passed about a year ago has given the tax department to arrest service tax defaulters of above Rs 50 lakh. The punishment includes a provision for imprisonment for up to 7 years. She said, "Last financial year the service tax collections from our zone increased by 16 per cent. However, we were unable to meet the target, and the gap was between Rs 700-800 crore". The service tax collection in Kolkata was close to Rs 6,444 crore. West Bengal collects indirect tax of about Rs 17,000 crore every year.

Ms Kameswari Subramanian said, "We have come across number of cases of non-compliance, and blatant cases of tax evasion last year. The amnesty scheme was very successful in our zone, but also gives an idea of the extent of non-compliance". The Finance Bill 2013 says "Failure to pay any amount collected as service tax to the credit of the central government beyond a period of six months from the date on which such payment becomes due then any director, manager, secretary or other officer of such company, who at the time of such contravention was in charge of, and was responsible to the company for the conduct of business of such company and was knowingly concerned with such contravention shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to one lakh rupees".


  April 29, 2014 The Conference Room of Calcutta Chamber of Commerce
Interactive Session on
Shri Rajiva Sinha, IAS, Principal Secretary, Dept. of Micro and Small Scale Enterprises and Textiles, Govt. of West Bengal

Shri Rajiva Sinha said that in the last one year the department of MSME has addressed almost all the problems faced by the sector. The biggest problem is inadequate credit. Credit has got two problems - from the point of view of entrepreneur, to come out with a bankable scheme and on the other side banks are very much worried of financing anything where there is risk involved due to NPA. There is a problem of good proposal resulting in inadequate credit flow. This needs mention that during October to December bank credit to MSME has been Rs.14,900 crores. The department has started finance clearing for first generation entrepreneurs. Shri Sinha also indicated on the steps taken by the Department to tackle several challenges confronted by the MSME sector - viz. technological obsolescence, marketing, lack of skilled manpower, inadequate infrastructure facilities and regulatory issues. All acts /rules, incentives, statutory compliances are available in simple language in the department website: myenterprise.wb.gov.in.


  April 11, 2014 The Conclave
Talk & Interactive Session on
CORPORATE CITIZEN: CHALLENGES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The Session was addressed by Shri Atri Bhattacharya, IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, Govt. of West Bengal

Shri Atri Bhattacharya remarked that in India there is a growing realisation that business cannot succeed in isolation and that social progress is necessary for sustainable growth and India is increasingly focusing and changing policy environment to enable sustainable practices and increased participation in the socially inclusive practices. The Companies Act, 2013, has introduced the idea of CSR to the forefront and through its disclose-or-explain mandate, is promoting greater transparency as opposed to the previous scenario.


  March 19, 2014 The Park Hotel
Talk & Interactive Session on
''INCOME TAX DEPARTMENT AND TAX PAYERS - CURRENT AND FUTURE SCENARIO

The Session was addressed by Shri G N Pandey, Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Kolkata - 1.

Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Shri G N Pandey, said Income Tax collection in West Bengal during the current financial year is still behind the target by Rs 4,739 crore. Shri Pandey told Tax collection during the current financial year is Rs 25,214 crore against the targeted figure of Rs 29,953 crore. He, however, is hopeful of meeting the target by the end of March this year. Last year, the tax collection figure was Rs 24,460 crore. Shri Pandey also urged the companies to pay their advance tax immediately.Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Shri G N Pandey, said Income Tax collection in West Bengal during the current financial year is still behind the target by Rs 4,739 crore. Shri Pandey told Tax collection during the current financial year is Rs 25,214 crore against the targeted figure of Rs 29,953 crore. He, however, is hopeful of meeting the target by the end of March this year. Last year, the tax collection figure was Rs 24,460 crore. Shri Pandey also urged the companies to pay their advance tax immediately.


  February 15, 2014 Fortune Select Loudon
Talk & Interactive Session on
HIGH RANKING BUSINESS DELEGATION FROM POLAND

The Session was addressed by H.E. Mr. Jerzy Witold Pietrewicz, Secretary of State (MOS), Ministry of Economy, Poland, Mr. Maciej Kaliski, Director, Department of Mining, Ministry of Economy & Mr. Zbigniew Magdziarz, Counsellor, Trade and Investment, Promotion Section, Embassy of Poland.

Mr Jerzy Witold Pietrewicz, Secretary of State (MOS), Ministry of Economy, Poland said that Poland has a stable economic ground with low cost skilled labour and efficient management system. He further added that India needs to focus on coal, energy, defence and food processing industries in Poland as these sectors are profitable and well developed in Poland. About the co-operation in the health sector, Mr. Pietrewicz said that although co-operation exists in the health sector yet there aren't any foreign hospitals in Poland. The focus of bilateral trade relation between India and Poland will lie on waste management, information technology, the energy sector and green technology. He also said, ''There is a huge potential to share the Polish experience and technology with India as both countries have similar challenges in the energy sector and there are also similarities in both countries' energy mix.''

Highlighting potential areas for collaboration between the two countries, Mr. Maciej Kaliski said, ''Poland has a well developed mining sector and renewable energy is an important element of the energy system in Poland. There could be opportunities for collaboration in these areas where Polish companies can provide technology solutions for extracting mining resources and both countries could leverage their expertise in solar and wind power. In addition, we can also explore the possibility of close collaborations among the institutes in both countries to develop clean coal technologies. Collaborations in all these areas can positively influence economic cooperation between the two countries.''

Mr. Zbigniew Magdziarz, mentions that although Polish total trade in India is only 0.5 per cent, but there is huge potential for increasing it. ''Polish mining sector is the biggest in European Union with coal being available in abundance. We are developing clean coal technology in Poland and we will share this technology with India.'' Given the common economic challenges faced by India and Poland, there are huge opportunities for cooperation between the two countries and India is one of our key partners in the Asian continent. Energy is a vital strategic issue for both Poland and India and collaboration between the two countries in this segment is not only an opportunity but a must.


  January 11, 2014 The Park Hotel
Talk & Interactive Session on
CHANGING PARADIGMS OF TAX POLICY AND REFORM IN INDIA

The Session was addressed by Dr. Parthasarathi Shome, Hon'ble Adviser to Finance Minister, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Shri Chanchal Mohan Bachhawat, IAS, Addl. Chief Secretary, Department of Commerce and Industries, Govt. of West Bengal, Shri Asrujit Mandal, Director, Tax & Regulatory Practice, KPMG.

Dr. Parthasarathi Shome said that Retrospective tax should be applied in rarest in rare of cases to correct anomalies, technical snags and protect tax base from highly tax abusive practices, rather than widening the tax net. Retrospective tax against UK-based telecom giant Vodafone Group had been one of the most controversial topic in the area of taxation in the recent past. The company is facing a tax liability of over Rs 11,200 crore, on its old acquisition of Hutchison Whampoa's stake in Hutchison Essar. "Retrospective tax falls way out of global practices. In case it is enforced, it should be exhaustive and transparent, in discussion with stakeholders," he said. Dr. Shome remarked that technical work on direct tax code (DTC) and goods and services tax (GST) was completed, and both the tax reforms should see the light of day in financial year 2014-15.

Commenting on Sales Tax Reforms Shri C. M. Bachhawat said that the reform in true sense of the term started in 1999 when it was decided collectively that incentives will be withdrawn and uniform tax pattern will be introduced. He said that the Goods and Service Tax will be a significant improvement towards a comprehensive indirect tax reforms in the country. Indeed, it has the potential to be the single most important initiative in the fiscal history of India. It can pave the way for modernization of tax administration.

Shri Asrujit Mandal remarked that the Indian Transfer Pricing regulations are largely in line with the OECD Guidelines. Since their introduction, the Indian Transfer Pricing regulations have come of age - both in terms of quality of audits as well as the revenue generated for the Indian Government. Further, over the past few years, there has been significant guidance from Income Tax Tribunals and higher Appellate Authorities on various fundamental transfer pricing issues across industries. Commenting on the GARR Committee Report he said that the recommendation to limit the use of retrospective amendments to exceptional cases and to avoid using it to expand the tax base is significant.


  December 18, 2013 Williamson Magor Hall
Talk & Interactive Session on
"ROLE OF BANKING SYSTEM FOR INCLUSIVE GROWTH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA"

The Session was addressed by Smt. S. A. Panse, Chairman & Managing Director, Allahabad Bank and Shri Sunil Srivastava, Chief General Manager, State Bank of India, Bengal Circle.

Shri Sunil Srivastava remarked that "Reform is a continuous process and when we talk of accelerating growth through financial sector reforms, what do we mean by accelerating; we had accelerated, we are reaching the first lane, we are second fastest economy and third largest economy in the world. There is no lack of opportunities in this country. When the banking sector was doing well, all our share prices were going through the roof and everybody was buying banking shares. Whatever is being done is in the larger framework or larger perspective of where economic growth takes us to. Control before creation has been one of the reasons why we have not capitalized on our growth. Today banks had been penalized for creation of NPAs. In the infrastructure sector, we have NPA level of 14% or so. And at the point where India is on the growth path and everybody was trying to build more and more infrastructure. You had the same person in the regulatory authority pushing the banks why you don't finance infrastructure sector and everybody assured that the clearances would be there & that is rational way of doing business. Can you do business after mitigating 100% of your risk? I think the issue is not of reform but of governess. So, when we talk of accelerating the growth through financial sector reforms, financial sector also needs to develop. But, what is impeding the acceleration of growth is perhaps the governess and less of reforms. Infrastructure sector has been funded - 45% by Government budgetary support, around 25% by Banks and the balance through other sources. Do we have long term funds to support infrastructure growth and unless we support this infrastructure growth, what are we looking at, we are not looking at any growth in Iron & Steel, cement, construction and therefore the tertiary industry of employment is growing up, it all flows from that. But then we have regulated ourselves to the corner and therefore nothing is moving forward. If we need accelerated growth, we need lesser reform & more objective actions focusing on what we need to achieve".

Focusing on inclusive growth story of India Smt S. A. Panse said that "it really started in real earnest in 1969 when for the first time the banks got nationalized. During the period the Government of India decided on the agenda and they decided that they would be taking up schemes for development of the areas of our country which are not developed. The first area which they decided was rural areas. Branch banking would be now extended into the rural areas and that is why we saw huge expansion as far as bank branches are concerned from 1969 and till the time we had private banks. The second thing the regulation came in RBI and they decided that if you open certain no. of branches in the rural areas then you will be allowed to open branches in the big cities. This ensured that the branches got open in the rural areas and over the years in addition to opening of the brick and mortar branches in the rural and semi urban areas, it was also decided that of the entire advance portfolio/credit portfolio, 40% of that has to be in the priority sector and accordingly there were various schemes that were introduced so that the banks could extend finance. Export was a priority sector, finance which was given to the minority sector comes under the priority sector, finance being given to the agriculture sector again comes under the priority sector, finance being bank given to those who are below the poverty line comes under the priority sector and so with this expansion of branches through the nationalized banks and also ensuring that 40% of the credit portfolio comes under the priority sector, government was ensuring inclusive growth takes place".


  November 16, 2013 Hotel Golden Park
Talk & Interactive Session on
COMPANIES ACT 2013

The Session was addressed by Shri Vinod Kothari, Senior Company Law Consultant & Author, Director, Vinod Kothari Consultants Pvt. Ltd & Shri Deepak Kumar Khaitan, Chairman, ICSI, Eastern India Regional Council.

Speaking on the occasion Shri Vinod Kothari said several provisions of the India Companies Act-2013 need further explanation and clarity. The re-codified company law has substantially restructured the provisions relating to appointment of board of directors, reappointment, removal, role and functions. The new Act provides for appointment of 'Key Managerial Personnel' ('KMP') by the companies and defines who they are. Considering the significant role played by the company secretaries, they have been included in the definition of KMP. The new Act mandates the appointment of Independent Directors in the companies and defines their duties. The Act, 2013 also prescribes appointment of woman directors in certain companies. Shri Kothari indicated that violations of the provisions of the Act will attract severe punishment. There are a number of provisions in the new Act which specify the "officer who is in default" as persons responsible for non compliance of law, whether they are privy to the offence or not. These offences are decided either by the adjudicating officer by imposing fine and where penalty involves imprisonment and fine, it will be decided by the Special Court. The new Companies Act has, for the first time mandated that corporate should spend certain prescribed percentage of their profits on specified social upliftment activities, thereby making it a liability and legal responsibility.

Shri Deepak Kumar Khaitan remarked that we have to counterbalance our morals and understand the intentions of 2013 Companies Act. With its overhaul of the 1956 Companies Act, the government aims to simplify its provisions, keep pace with global trends and make it easier to do business in the country. The Companies Bill allows for the merger of an Indian and foreign companies, giving Indian companies the flexibility to participate in global M&A activity. A substantial portion of the company law in India comprise of provisions dealing with maintenance of accounts and audit thereof. The Companies Act, 2013 has made substantial changes in the provisions concerning accounts and audit. Rotation of auditors has been made mandatory. Limited liability partnerships have been made eligible for appointment as auditors. In such a case only a chartered accountant who is a member of the LLP is eligible to certify the audit report.


 

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