|Major Events 2014-15
|August 06, 2015 The Park Hotel
RIGHT TO HEALTH CARE – CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD
The Session was addressed by Dr. Subrata Maitra, Eminent Physician & Critical Care Specialist, Belle Vue Clinic, Dr. Amitava Mookerjee, Administrator, Sankara Nethralaya and Shri Rupak Barua, Group CEO, AMRI Hospitals Ltd.
Dr. Subrata Maitra said, "The cost & quality of service in private health care sector is not regularised. At the same time, it is not possible for the government to provide service to all, considering the population. The state is, however, coming up with projects under PPP model". Dr. Maitra added there are 35 dialysis units set up in the districts which are running on the PPP model with another 10 in the pipeline. Apart from that, the government is adding 70 ICU beds and 36 high dependency units by January 2016.
He was of opinion that there is immense shortage of qualified health personnel. The country needs more health workers, community health workers. The Government should encourage non-allopathic approaches. Efforts should also be made to train non-registered medical practitioner to cater to the needs of inaccessible rural areas (The CHINA MODEL of Bare foot doctors).
According to Dr. Amitava Mookerjee right to health care means right to treatment and there should be equal opportunity to all, irrespective of rich and poor. To tackle the situation along with the state it is also necessary for the commercial organizations as well as Chambers of Commerce to come forward. He also pointed out that there is a huge queue of blind people who are waiting for someone to donate eye in Sankara Nethralaya and per year only 100 donations are received. Pledges of eye donation are taken in plenty. But after death when eye is to be harvested to give back vision to someone who is eagerly waiting for years in darkness, the family members do not allow in some pretext or the other.
Mr. Rupak Barua admits that private institutions should join the Government to serve and reach health care facilities to the general mass. But for this there should be a change in the policy of the Government and in the clinical establishment law.
|July 17, 2015 The Conclave
Talk & Interactive Session on
RECENT AMENDMENTS IN COMPANIES ACT 2013
The Session was addressed by Shri Vinod Kothari, Senior Company Law Consultant & Author and Dr.Debashis Mitra, Senior Chartered Accountant.
Shri Vinod Kothar remarked that recent amendments to the Companies Act, 2013 ('Act') have little to contribute to the 'ease of doing business' agenda. In fact, in the patent fashion in which the MCA functions, the exemption notification ('Notification') clearly depicts the power of the administration; wherein most of the exemptions are conditional with little or no rationale behind it. According to him the intention of granting exemption to particular private entity from the provisions of section 67 of the Act is not clear because all provisions (except sec. 67(1)) of section 67 are anyways applicable only to public limited companies.
Dr.Debashis Mitra commented that the provisions of section 67 and Section 185 (i.e. Loan to directors etc.) shall not now apply to private companies complying with the following conditions : (a) in whose share capital no other body corporate has invested any money; (b) if the borrowings of such a company from banks or financial institutions or any body corporate is less than twice its paid up share capital or fifty crore rupees, whichever is lower; and (c) such a company is not in default in repayment of such borrowings subsisting at the time of making transactions under this section. The advantage of this exemption cannot be availed by majority private companies as - there is always a possibility of holding of atleast a share in it by the other body corporate.
|June 30, 2015 The Park Hotel
Talk & Interactive Session on
AMENDMENTS IN VAT LAWS AND EASE OF DOING BUSINESS
The Session was addressed by Shri Binod Kumar, Commissioner and Shri Adesh Kumar, Sr. Joint Commissioner & PRO, Commercial Taxes, Government of West Bengal.
West Bengal's Value Added Tax (VAT) system met all survey points prepared by the Centre to measure efficiency and ease of paying tax. Commercial Taxes Commissioner Binod Kumar said "Centre is surveying on VAT systems of the states across the country. In the set of 40 questions, Bengal VAT system has received 40 points,". The Centre wanted to survey the VAT systems of all states in the wake of proposed Goods and Services Tax. Replying to a question he said that e-commerce players were paying the entry tax levied by West Bengal. Meanwhile, the department's amnesty scheme launched since April for business entities not paying value added tax liability is yet to gain momentum. Kumar had said - "We are getting lot of inquires, but not sure about how many business entities has actually availed the scheme".
|June 04, 2015 The Park Hotel
Special Session on
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP WITH AUSTRALIA – OPTIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES
The Session was addressed by H.E. Mr. Patrick Michael Suckling, Hon’ble High Commissioner of Australia in India.
Australian High Commissioner Patrick Suckling remarked - "We are hopeful that the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between India and Australia will be signed by the end of 2015. Both the nations are halfway through the negotiations,". He said that the agreement would cover goods, services, investment and a host of other items. He added - "We will like the agreement to cover everything. Once the deal was inked, then it will give a great boost to trade relation between the two countries," and 75 per cent of Australian exports to India consisted of copper and gold. The talks for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) also known as free trade agreement (FTA) between India and Australia were started in 2011. The diplomat said that Australian pension fund managers were keenly looking to invest in bankable projects and Modi had talked to a number of them during his visit. Suckling also said that he was encouraging a number of Australian companies to come to India.
|May 15, 2015 The Lalit Great Eastern
URBANIZATION IN INDIA & SMART CITY: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
The Session was addressed by Shri Dr. Nandita Chatterjee, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India and Shri Subrata Biswas, Principal Secretary, Department of Housing, Government of West Bengal.
Dr. Nandita Chatterjee said that, "The ministry is trying to have a fast system of single window for approvals. We are calling for streamlining the process of approvals," Talks were on with the environment ministry for delegating the power to grant NOCs for buildings to local authorities.
added, "The issue of granting NOCs can be categorized on the size of the project. If it is possible for them (environment ministry) subject to their laws and regulations, to delegate this process to the urban local bodies, who at the end of the day, is the authority to give the permission to construct the buildings". "We have been discussing this for some time and we are hopeful of a positive result soon.
In the wake of devastating earth quake in Nepal and India, she also stressed on the use of developing a disaster-restraint technology for buildings. She said the ministry has been holding discussions with the IITs, and the NITs to ensure that the houses to be built under central projects including the ambitious Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) were disaster resistant.
She also stressed on the "massive" need for developing skills of the workforce for sustainable urbanization. "India adds over 12 million new entrants to the labour market annually but only two percent of them have certified abilities. There is a massive need for skill building," added Chatterjee.
Shri Subrata Biswas informed that the Government of West Bengal is drafting a new Housing Policy in line with Central Policy. The state Government has taken two more initiatives - one is an amendment in the Promoters Act. There has been some kind of paradigm shift from earlier position. Now the idea behind the amendment is to facilitate investment, encourage promoters to make investment, easy clearences, protect the customers. There is also an amendment going on in the Apartments Act.
|April 23, 2015 The Lalit Great Eastern
Talk & Interactive Session on
CURRENT INCOME TAX LAWS VISA-A-VIS EASE OF DOING BUSINESS
The Session was addressed by Shri C. L. Denzongpa, Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, West Bengal & Sikkim and Shri Amitav Kothari, Senior Chartered Accountant.
Shri C. L. Denzongpa emphasized on keeping the Government's revenue and financial deficits under control and on simplifications of IT Laws, Lesser Tax barriers and to do away with double taxation. In India, the corporate tax rates are very high and that it should be charged only on the real income and not on the artificial income. He said "we have failed miserably in achieving the tax target of the last financial year 2014-15 in West Bengal ---. "Shri C. L. Denzongpa added that the Prime Minister of India is taking all the necessary steps to remodel the finance industry. He enlightened the crowd by saying "Every Wednesday Mr Modi addresses to the grievances of the public regarding the tax matters and he is planning to even meet and honour the tax payers."
Shri Amitav Kothari said "Due to difficult economic environment, there has been unprecedented increase in the non performing assets in the last financial year and our direct tax collection has fallen short by Rs. 2 thousand crores".
|March 28, 2015 The Lalit Great Eastern
Panel Discussion and Interactive Session on
DO WE NEED MORE COURTS OR TRIBUNALS FOR SPEEDY DISPENSATION OF JUSTICE
The Session was addressed by Hon'ble Mr. Justice Altamas Kabir, Former Chief Justice of India and Hon'ble Mr. Justice Vinod Kumar Gupta Former Chief Justice of Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand High Court.
Hon'ble Mr. Justice Altamas Kabir highlighted the scarcity of lower and High Courts in India. Till date December 1, 2014 there are 64,919 pending cases at the Supreme Court of India, reported Justice Kabir. He further added at the 24 High Courts of the nation there are over 44 lakh pending cases.The former Chief Justice of the SC pointed out the poor infrastructure and dearth of Judges at the courts. Tribunals can not drive out this problem, said Justice Kabir. Speaking about the pending cases he said a large portion of them are petty cases and often get rejected.
Reiterating the same view Justice Vinod Kumar Gupta remarked that today the country has set up separate Tribunals to handle issues relating to income Tax, central Excise, Centre-State relations, Environment, consumers protection and the tribunals deal with the dispensation of the respective cases and in consequence the Judges become expert in their fields. But the number of tribunals should be increased for speedy dispensation of justice.
|March 17, 2015 The Park Hotel
Special Session on
ENHANCING TRADE RELATIONS BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN
The Session was addressed by H.E. Mr. Abdul Basit, Hon'ble High Commissioner of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
H.E. Mr. Abdul Basit said that both India and Pakistan are federations and the federating units do have independence to enter into economic, commercial and cultural ties with the other. We are trying to foster economic relations and need to create more opportunities for our people to interact with each other through cultural exchanges. "I would very much like West Bengal to explore possibilities of economic cooperation with Sindh, or Punjab and Sindh or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province) and Baluchistan. I would want Chambers of Commerce here and in Pakistan to explore business opportunities". Highlighting the poor trade relations between the two countries, Mr. Basit said: "Intra European Union trade is close to 60%, intra Association of South East Asian nations (ASEAN) is around 30%, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is around 20% whereas amongst South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries is only five per cent. The low percentage of intra SAARC trade is despite the fact that South Asia is home to more than 1.6 billion people."
He also said that long term economic relation cannot sustain without banks and there is not a single branch of any Pakistani bank to facilitate financial transactions, only Wagah border is used for trade. There is a need to work on these constraints and develop conducive environment for business, Pakistan is hopeful about granting "Most Favoured Nation" status to India as a step towards enhancing bi-lateral trade.
While he is all for robust ties between the neighbours, Basit said the task of facilitating tourist visas for Indians could be challenging in the future. "I do not see it happening very soon. Thousands of applications come every day from both sides of the border, but we want to go ahead step by step. Both India and Pakistan had signed an agreement on religious tourism. We have to make that possible first and then talk about general tourist visa." "I can't see any solution to the J & K issue in near future, but talks and only talks between the two countries can resolve all issues," .Basit said, "We need to think beyond trade and focus on investments in infrastructure in the two countries."
There are only three flights between India and Pakistan. Only Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) operates these three flights between India and Pakistan. Mr. Basit lamented that neither Air India nor any private Indian carrier flies to Pakistan. "We are trying to convince Indian Airline companies to start flying to Pakistan," said the high commissioner. He also expressed hope that at some point Pakistan Government will be able to open a Consulate in Kolkata. "We had a Consulate in the city, in the early '70s. Subsequently it was shut down.
|March 03, 2015 The Park Hotel
Panel Discussion on
UNION BUDGET 2015-16 - AN ANALYSIS
The Panel Discussion was addressed by Shri N.K. Poddar, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Shri Amitav Kothari, Senior Chartered Accountant & Shri Arun Kumar Agarwal, Senior Chartered Accountant.
Shri N K Poddar in his address said that an in-depth analysis of the proposals of Direct taxes indicates that lot of rooms are there which requires further clarification and many provision of the Budget may lead to increased litigation. Apparently the budget seems to be assessee friendly but its fine prints brings out lot of confusing situations which needs to be redressed. Shri Amitav Kothari felt that fine prints in the budget are definitely going to adversely affect the trade and industry. He however said that fiscal deficit has been pegged at 4.1% which is positive. There was also huge reduction in crude prices that has helped to contain import bill. Wealth tax has been abolished. Imposition of surcharge at 2% leads to revenue mop up. Shri Arun Kumar Agarwal informed that the liability on Service tax may go up to 16% if the 2% cess on Swachh Bharat is added to 14% of Service tax. The Budget promised to rationalize the penalty provisions but considering the interest liability which is at present 30 % the total liability would be much higher.
|January 09, 2015 Hotel Hindusthan International
Talk & Interactive Session on
"Bringing Back Indian Economy on Higher Growth Trajectory"
The Session was addressed by Dr. C. Rangarajan Former Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the PM & Chairman, Madras School of Economics.
Dr. C Rangarajan while analyzing the fall in the growth rate pointed out that at the peak of Indian economy in 2007-08, investment rate was 38% & the gross fixed capital formation was 32%; with incremental capital output ration of 4:1, the economy attained 9.5% growth. Meanwhile i.e. in 2012-13 or 2013, the gross capital formation has come down to 30% and in 2013-14, it was 28.35. Well with an investment rate of 28-30%, the economy should have grown at 7.5%. But the growth rate was 5%. Why? Because the productivity of capital has come down or the fall in the output growth rate was greater than the fall in the investment growth rate, which essentially implies we are not getting adequate return on the investment made. Or in other words, there is a delay in the completion of projects which implies investment is being made but return is not coming out of it.
On the question of inflation, he said it is a result of demand expanding at a higher rate than supply. In a growing economy, where the policy objective is to raise the consumption levels of the majority, it cannot be anyone's case that curbing private demand could be the measure to correct the ensuing demand-supply mismatch. The objective should, therefore, always be to rapidly expand supply capacities and often create capacities in anticipation of demand.
Dr. Rangarajan added that,"Much of India's economic growth is dependent on domestic factors. Achieving high growth is extremely important and it will answer many of our socio economic problems. Development has many dimensions - it has to be inclusive, environment friendly, it must lead to reduction of poverty. We need to incorporate all these items in the growth process but we cannot sacrifice growth; growth is critically important.
|December 22, 2014 The Park Hotel
Talk & Interactive Session on
"Empowering India - The Way Forward"
The Session was addressed by Dr. Bimal Jalan, Former Governor, Reserve Bank of India & Chairman of the Expenditure Management Commission.
Dr. Bimal Jalan said "We have all the economic strength, vibrant media and every other requirements to make our economy a success, yet we lag behind. We need to look at the root cause of poverty, corruption and clean up the system,". The country must have more independent agencies such as the Comptroller & Auditor General of India to get rid of corruption and poverty. Dr. Jalan questioned why should ministers have the power to allocate telecom or coal or land to whoever they wish? They should decide on policy-making and independent agencies should take up the role of allotment. The former RBI governor stressed on the need for more use of technology in public services. He said the Expenditure Management Commission would stick to its deadline for submitting its interim report before Budget 2015-16 and the final report would be submitted, as scheduled, before Budget 2016-17. The commission is to suggest ways to reform management of oil, fertilizer and food subsidies, one of the biggest drag on public expenditure.
|December 18, 2014 The Park Hotel
Special Session on
"Emerging East' organized jointly with ASSOCHAM"
The Convention was inaugurated by H.E. Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi, Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal. Other Speakers were Shri Ujjal Biswas, Hon'ble Minister for Technical Education and Training, Government of West Bengal, Shri Abhirup Sarkar, Chairman, West Bengal Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation, Shri Jitendra Chaudhury, Hon'ble Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha and Shri Satyajit Ganguly, Managing Director, ONGC Tripura Power Company Ltd.
H.E. Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi, Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal stated that The North Eastern Region (NER) of India is pivotal to India's growing economic and strategic partnership with Southeast and East Asia. The NER is also central to India's Look East Policy (LEP), and acts as a land-bridge between South and Southeast Asia. The NER has the potential to grow faster than its current pace, provided the region builds cross-border production links, particularly with Bangladesh, Myanmar and other Southeast and East Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, China and Indonesia. To facilitate growth of border trade the Union Minister of Commerce has introduced an Export Development Fund (EDF) for the Northeast traders and entrepreneurs. International trade centres at the border points and connecting these points through the existing roads to state capitals is vital.
Shri Ujjal Biswas, Hon'ble Minister for Technical Education and Training remarked that the government of West Bengal in its pursuit of quality and excellence in higher education has initiated various steps which have had their impact on the system and have shown encouraging results. The higher education sector in West Bengal is currently in a significant expansion mode. A major thrust has been given to technical education and training through polytechnics. Joint collaboration with various industrial houses like Samsung, Raymond has been made to produce skilled work force. Shri Abhirup Sarkar, Chairman, WBIDFC described the Sankalpa Housing Project at New Town Area. The Corporation had received around 57.76 acres at New Town through debt-asset swap from West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited and the infrastructure financing arm of the state of which they allotted around 37.29 acres for the development of residential projects.
Shri Jitendra Chowdhury, Lok Sabha MP from Tripura and former Industry Minister of the State, said the economic growth of Tripura significantly depended on the growing cooperation between Bangladesh and India. "Tripura has proposed to the Centre to seek a transit route (for goods movement) from Bangladesh linking the State with Chittagong port. The proposed extension of rail line in the State will bring the link within 32 km of the port,". Bangladesh has already allowed India to use its water-ways and river port at Ashugunj for a transit facility for carrying food grains to Tripura. The neighbouring country also facilitated carriage of turbines for OTPC projects through its water and road ways. India is to reciprocate the special gesture by extending power to areas in Bangladesh bordering Tripura. Shri Satyajit Ganguly said that ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) is likely to begin commercial production of power from its 363-MW second unit in January. He said Tripura has also proposed to the Centre to work for an undersea optic fibre connection project through Bangladesh, which could serve as an information hub for the whole of the north-east region. Shri Ganguly also said that work on the 650-kn transmission line to connect with the North-Eastern grid at Bongaigaon in Assam was in its last lap. The project is critical for the north-eastern region, particularly for the economic growth of the land-locked but natural gas-rich Tripura.
|November 19, 2014 The Lalit Great Eastern
Special Session on
"Mission Kolkata - Making It a Globally Favoured Destination"
The Session was addressed by Shri Debasish Kumar, Mayor in Council, Kolkata Municipal Corporation & Dr. B. P. Sharma, Director, Airports Authority of India, Kolkata.
Dr. B.P. Sharma, Director, Airport Authority of India, Kolkata said," Kolkata is the gateway of the Eastern India and the continuous air services connect this city globally through Kolkata Airport. We have now one of the best Airport in the country. Now Kolkata Airport in 27th number in the world, it's a great journey in a very short period." He remarked that "We are in talks were several airlines like Turkish Airlines, Ethihad and Japan Airlines for starting their services from the Kolkata airport,". He said talks were also being held with German carrier Lufthansa to consider resumption of its flights from the city. Sharma said certain policies would have to be changed to facilitate operations of the foreign airlines from the city. Speaking at an interactive session organized by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, Sharma said that another Rs 1,000 crore would be spent for aircraft handling and maintenance at the terminal. As the passenger traffic grows, he said there could be a possibility of creation of a new terminal in the coming years.
Shri Debasish Kumar informed that State Govt & KMC is very much keen to make the city pollution free. Meanwhile, a solar power panel has been introduced at Deshapriya Park to light up street lights in and around, and will be functional in February 2015. The solar panel will be first of its kind that will be used in the park. This will be used as pilot project. In the coming years Kolkata will be 'Tourist Paradise' and will be the first choice for tourists as the city is known for its rich cultural heritage.