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




 
Major Events 2015-16
September 18, 2016
Inauguration of 185th AGM of the Chamber & Interactive Session on GST

Calcutta Chamber of Commerce held the Inaugural Session of 185th Annual General Meeting & Interactive Session on GST on 18th September 2016 at The Lalit Great Eastern, Kolkata. Hon'ble Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal inaugurated the AGM.

Hon'ble Minister Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal in his keynote address said that The Goods and Services Tax (GST) will have few tax rate slabs beside a standard rate but only for a transition period before India gradually moves to a pure single tax rate regime. Shri Meghwal added, -"There will be slabs in the tax rate beside a standard rate. Some sectors like Bikaneri Papad where tax is just one per cent... these industries will die if a single standard rate is applied".

The Minister asserted - "At the time when we are pushing for 'Make In India', we cannot afford to impact any manufacturing sector. Manufacturers should 'not' fear that indirect taxes will go up in a major way". Shri Meghwal added that there would be several changes in the GST before it is passed and also said that the West Bengal government should pass it in the state Assembly.

The Hon'ble Minister said, "When Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had come to Delhi she had said that they were in support of the GST. Their people had accordingly supported it in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha but in the recently concluded two-day session of the Assembly here, I was told that the GST discussion was dropped from the agenda owing to paucity of time. The consumer and manufacturers' groups should put pressure on the government here to pass it in the Assembly".

Responding to a suggestion by an industry representative that the threshold limit of Rs 10 lakh as turnover should be raised the Minister said that the threshold limit would definitely be changed. He said, "We had kept it as Rs 10 lakh in public domain for public reaction. We want to increase it but the states are not agreeing because they think it will bring down their income. There will be a meeting of the states on September 22 or 23, where this thing will be discussed. I think the profit of a company, assuming it to be 10 per cent of the turnover, should be equal to the limit of tax exemption which a government employee gets".


September 15, 2016
Talk and Interactive Session on "New and Renewable Energy: Green Power Revolution"

The Session was addressed by Shri Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, Honble Minister of Power & NES Department, Govt. of West Bengal and Shri Hari Kishan Chaudhary, Chairman, Vikram Solar Pvt. Ltd.

Shri Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay pointed out - "We will create multiple solar parks and capacity will depend on size of land, which is a more viable option". "We are planning for solar park totalling 500 mw, but doing it at a single site is not possible as we are unable to get large contiguous land,". About five acres of land was required for 1 mw of solar power.

The minister said the state government would continue to focus on renewable energy and would attend the Union power ministry - convened conference on renewables. He said - "I have received a letter from the Union Power Minister for a conference on renewables".

The Minister remarked that 100 per cent electrification was already complete in 11 districts and by March 2017, work would be complete for the entire state. He was confident that the 1,000 mw Turga hydel power project would take off shortly once environmental clearances were in place. The project has already got the nod from the Central Electricity Authority.

Shri Hari Kishan Chaudhary stated that solar is the future energy which is abundantly available if properly utilized. We are living in times when all alternate energy in almost a revolutionary way will not be alternate anymore. Renewable including solar energy is finally becoming a globally significant source of power. The numbers are very compelling. Record amount of solar power was supplied to the world grids in 2015 pushing renewably energy capacity to grow by 152gw. Interestingly, this was the highest surge recorded primarily driven by huge capacity installations in Asia. In India, solar installations increased by a staggering 142% in 2015. And 2016-17 is poised to record stronger growth with plants to add 12gw of solar power by March'17. At this pace India might soon join the ranks of the world largest solar energy producers surpassing several developed nations & dwarfing current solar power giants such as Germany, China, Japan & USA.


September 6, 2016
Convention on Startup India - Insights, Challenges & Opportunities organized jointly with ACAE

The Convention was addressed by Shri Rishi Khator, Immediate Past President, Association of Corporate Advisers & Executives, Shri Rehan Yar Khan, Founder & Managing Director, Orios Venture Partners, Mumbai, Shri Gopal Modi, Operating Partner, Orios Venture Partners, Mumbai, Shri Alok Jain, Founder, Yumist, Shri Navpreet Singh Randhawa, Manager, Invest India.

Shri Rishi Khator in his speech commented that there is huge enthusiasm on Startups. Startup is transformative, creative & disruptive and when we say disruptive, it means it substantially changes the way we are doing particulars process, or buying particular product or rendering certain services. The Prime Minister has incidentally said that we need transformative change. Incremental change is not sufficient to keep pace with the demography and technological changes in the world. The Government of India defines startup to be either a company or a LLP or a registered partnership firm. Unregistered partnership firm, proprietorship firm or charitable organizations are not considered as startup. It should be less than 5 years old; the annual turnover should be equal to or less than Rs.25 crores. It should be working for innovation, development and commercialization.

Shri Rehan Yar Khan characterized that Venture Capital Funds look to find great companies, maintain a steady deal pipeline, compete on price and stage with other investors, find the right team to solve an opportunity. For portfolio growth & support, the fund continuously search the right set of passionate resources to support portfolio growth at early stages, identify problems and timely course correction. There are limited avenues for exits & knowing when and how to exit is crucial. Moreover venture funds are restricted to raising capital from Family offices, HNIs etc & there is long term capital gain tax imposed on private exits & regulations inhibit entrepreneurship affecting startups - ola metering, tech enabled private bus system, e-pharmacy regulations.

According to Rehan, selecting the right entrepreneurs is the key. There should be synergies between startups & VCs. There is immense need for marketing capability in addition to technology capability. Great sustainable consumer companies will emerge in both consumer tech & non tech (FMCG) which ride on strong marketing & branding. We have highly underdeveloped consumption market & sizeable venture backed consumer companies developing in India. Orios intensive support helps creating competitive edge & help trouble shoot everyday issues that emerge from time to time.

According to Shri Gopal Modi Startup is actually about taking problems & solving it. The Core of Startup is to take the disorganized sector & to organize it. With the current portfolio of Rs 500 crores Orios is specialized consumer technology fund with extreme focus backed by strong consumer marketing expertise. Orios hosts 'beyond thursdays', which focused on marketing & branding conversations, attended by the startup community at large. In so far as performance is concerned, 7 portfolio companies have received an avg 3.4 times increase in valuation in follow on rounds. Orios models consist of - i)Ample- First online wholesale commerce club in India. Through ladder pricing and smart card technology, families can save 20%, ii) Koove - First social commerce platform for second hand goods in India, providing verified listings through social curation, iii) ZO Rooms - Online platform for budget hotel aggregation. Provides low cost, standardized quality rooms in a convenient way to consumers.

Shri Alok Jain, Founder, Yumist, indicates that the YuMist model allows consumers to order food on demand through the venture's mobile app, and the company, via its logistics and supply chain-focused technology platform, will deliver food within 30 minutes or less. 'We have a centralised kitchen that can serve an entire city. All our recipes undergo rigorous testing, and through use of food science, we can reproduce the best quality food, using the best ingredients, in the shortest time possible'. Internet-first restaurants do not have any retail presence and they serve limited locations through a central kitchen.

Shri Navpreet Singh Randhawa, Manager, Invest India remarked that the Hon`ble Prime Minister launched the Start-Up India movement on the 16th of January 2016 and unveiled the Start-Up India Action Plan which aims at accelerating the spread of the Start-up movement by i) simplification & handholding, ii) funding support & incentives & iii) industry-academia partnership and incubation. Startup India Hub will be a single point of contact for the entire ecosystem and enable knowledge exchange and access to funding. An entity will be identified as a startup : i) If incorporated or registered in India not prior to five years ii) If its turnover does not exceed 25 crores in the last five financial years; and iii) If it is working towards innovation, development, deployment, and commercialisation of new products, processes, or services driven by technology or intellectual property. In so far as benefits are concerned the govt. offers i) INR 2,500 crore per year for startups in the form of fund of funds, ii) credit guarantee fund of INR 500 crore per year to promote venture debts to startups & iii) tax exemptions: on capital gains if these are invested in the fund of funds; on income tax for 3 years (for startups incorporated after 1st April 2016) & on investments above fair market value.


August 19, 2016
Special Session on "IS CORPORATE GOVERNANCE INEFFECTIVE IN EMERGING MARKETS?"

The Session was addressed by Shri P. R. Ramesh Chairman, Deloitte India & Shri Dipankar Chatterjee, Senior Partner, L. B. Jha & Co.

Shri P.R. Ramesh remarked that corporates have four responsibilities- economic, legal, ethical and social. To discharge these responsibilities, they need an effective system of governance and herein corporate governance comes in. Within the ecosystem of ours, though the industries have potential they are not doing well. There is stress on resources; resources are not as developed as other countries. There is ignorance of the positive impact of governance. In the challenges of Swachh Bharat, Digital India, Smart Cities etc. etc. where is the governance come in. Governance is much lower priority. The business ecosystem becomes a secondary. There is higher potential for unethical business practices and the fault is in the environment.

According to Shri Dipankar Chatterji the global crisis of 2008-09 was started because of poor corporate governance in some companies in the USA, which led to their collapse; that led to the banks getting into trouble; that led to Lemon Brothers going down and that led to car sells in UK, USA going down. From that crisis Europe has not recovered even today. The concept of corporate governance which started in 1992 in UK has grown, has changed as per needs and practical experience. Lot of new concepts has come in to the definition of 2014. It is not a just compendium of board practices; now performances of individual directors; role of Chairman; issues of risks, solvenc, liquidity, risk management are considered along with remuneration of executives. Corporate governance does not serve its purpose. There are multiple examples of corporate governance not functioning not only in our country but in the West as well.


August 6, 2016
Convention on EXCELLENCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION & ATTRACTING STUDENTS IN WEST BENGAL

The Convention was addressed by Shri Partha Chatterjee, Hon’ble Minister for School Education, Higher Education & Parliamentary Affairs, Government of West Bengal, Prof. Suranjan Das, Vice-Chancellor, Jadavpur University, Prof. Ashutosh Ghosh, Vice-Chancellor, Calcutta University and Prof. Ajoy Kumar Ray, Director, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur.

Hon'ble Education Minister Dr. Partha Chatterjee said that the West Bengal Government has set up a committee to restructure the state syllabus, in order to incorporate the needs of various industries and increase the employability of graduates. "The syllabus must now be interactive. There has to be something in the curriculum which gives our students an edge in the job market. Most students leave the state to study elsewhere. We have to stop our students from going to other states, other cities, other countries to get an excellent education, especially in higher studies."

The Education Minister said that the government had been trying to bring parity between the genders by pushing education for girls through the Kanyashree, Sabuj Shathi and Juboshree schemes. Student admissions had gone up from 11.5 per cent five years ago, to 18 percent now. The all-India admission average is 21 per cent and the aim was to achieve 30 per cent student admissions this term.

Prof Suranjan Das said: "we have been rated No.1 among all other state universities in the country by several agencies". "It is true that some good students tend to leave the city to study undergraduate courses. But it is also true that a large section of students who study undergraduate courses offered by our university is very meritorious." According to him, some high-performing students tend to move to cities like Delhi because of "better facilities". They get better exposure to the kind of training they should get for pursuing a postgraduate course in a foreign university.

While talking on the excellence in education, Prof. Ajoy Kr Ray said that the glory of education in West Bengal has come back and the gross enrolment ratio has increased significantly. But the State needs good teachers. So teacher selection is most important not only in the state but also in the country today. He also said that in order to bring excellence in education there is a strong need of collaboration between the educational institutes and the industry houses.

Prof. Ashutosh Ghosh is of opinion that excellence in higher education is synonymous to university ranking. Both Jadavpur University and Calcutta University have earned good percentage in teaching. Teaching in these universities is still excellent. In so far as enrolment of international students as well as publication of research papers in reputed national and international journals are concerned, both the universities are lagging behind.


July 29, 2016
Workshop on INCOME DECLARATION SCHEME AND GOLD MONETISATION SCHEME

The Workshop was addressed by Shri Anil Kr. Singh, IRS Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, West Bengal & Sikkim, Shri N. N. Mishra, IRS Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Kolkata - VIII & Shri Mayur Shah Partner, Ernst & Young LLP

Shri Anil Kr. Singh remarked that Income Declaration scheme (IDS) is a golden opportunity for those who have not paid the taxes and they should come forward, pay the taxes and become part of the mainstream. The Government is committed to keep this information secret. This money will ultimately go to nation building.

Shri N.N. Mishra said that Income Disclosure Scheme has been incorporated for those people who have not paid their taxes fully in the past. They can declare their undisclosed income, their undisclosed investments. It provides a very unique opportunity to disclose Benami Property. The Government of India has said that it is a secret scheme, also it is sacrosanct. Nobody knows the content of the disclosure.

Shri Mayur Shah was of opinion that Income Disclosure Scheme is a golden opportunity for us. So far we have seen 13 VDIS scheme in different forms and manner since 1951. Out of which two schemes have been successful - in 1985-86 Rs.10778 crores were collected and thereafter Rs.33000 crores were collected. The scheme applies to all persons.


July 18, 2016
Special Session on INDIAN ECONOMY - TAKING INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT FROM MYTH TO REALITY

The Session was addressed by Dr. Vijay Kr. Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog, Prof. (Dr.) Suman K. Mukerjee, CEO and Director, S. Jaykishan Consulting Limited.

Shri Vijay Kr Saraswat remarked that India today is the largest country with a population of almost 21.7 billion where 70% live in rural areas. The advantage today is the country has 50% of population less than 25 years of age. The country has fastest growing economy with GDP growth of 7.6% in FY 16. The country has unemployment rate which is controlled at 4.9%, literacy rate at 74%. Domestic consumption and the investment contributed almost 57%, manufacturing growth registered 4.4% and electricity growth is 4.6%. The country has a fairly good control in Forex reserve because of the softer oil prices. FDI is touching almost 16.6 billion dollar. But the fact remains by all indicators, India lags behind in inclusive growth. Inclusive growth and development report ranking (2015) says India is in the mid way in most of the parameters - eradication, skill, employment, labour, asset building and entrepreneurship. Referring to the study made by Dr. C.R. Rangarajan, he said Dr. Rangarajan brought out a big difference between economic growth and economic development. According to him economic growth is a narrow concept which refers to increase in country's real output of goods and services whereas economic development is a comprehensive concept which refers to economic growth and progressive changes in social, economic, political, cultural and historical levels. He said that debt-stressed States must opt for the right fiscal management tools and ensure implementation of Central projects.

According to Shri Suman K Mukerjee economic growth has happened in the country but not economic development. The crucial point of inclusive growth is taking the people along. The new model is trickle-down theory. As the economy grows the happiness will trickle down. Citing a study he said the best way to reduce poverty is to produce more food and keep prices of food low. That is the best way to control inflation, to allow poor exists and thus eradicate poverty.

The second issue is unemployment. As Prof. Raj Krishna said the only way to eradicate poverty, unemployment is to go for integrated rural development. Integrated rural development will be achieved through more cold storages, packaging, electricity, transport, marketing and using agriculture as industry. If we have to generate employment, it has to come from agro sector.


June 27, 2016
Special Session on OUTLOOK FOR INDIAN EQUITY MARKETS - WHY EQUITIES AND WHY NOW

The session was addressed by Shri Anand Shah, Chief Investment Officer & Shri Prithipal Singh, Head - Sales, BNP Paribas Asset Management India Private Limited

Shri Anand Shah remarked that global slowdown really does not hurt the fundamentals of India as much as it hurts the rest of Asia. From the capital market point of view, from the global investors' point of view, India becomes too large economy. By 2020 it will be the 4th largest economy ahead of Germany. And the investors in the world cannot ignore India for far too long beyond 2020 as the country will become the potent forces. Today India is extremely resilient and that is why the impact of Brexit would be much little on the capital market. From the capital market point of view, currency point of view, India is amongst the best performing emerging markets.

Shri Prithipal Singh was of opinion that today we have got to a stage where India probably is one of the strongest economic fundamentals amongst most of the emerging market economies across the world. There is every reason to believe that we are at the start of a new bull market for Indian equities. India is at the start of a bull market and each portfolio is aligning to that.


June 7, 2016
Felicitation Ceremony of Hon'ble Ms. Mamata Banerjee, re-elected Chief Minister of West Bengal by Chambers of Commerce & Industry

The Felicitation Ceremony was addressed by Hon'ble Chief Minister of West Bengal Ms. Mamata Banerjee

In her speech Hon'ble Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee asked industrialists to beat the "recession", make investments and bring to the government's attention "local" issues which she promised to take care of. The Chief Minister said her government had done whatever was needed to facilitate investments in Bengal and urged industry not to waste time. She threw her weight solidly behind the goods and services tax, which is stuck in Delhi mainly because of the Congress's objections.

Mamata said "You (industry) all are doing business in Bengal. We have been in the government for five years. Who has asked for money to do work, tell me? It there is one good place to do business, it is Bengal. Sometimes local interest works. Bring it to our notice, we will take care. Sometimes one person you cannot control in the family. How can you control all?"

The Chief Minister nudged real estate developers to start work on a township scheme approved by her about a year ago. "There are many opportunities. Why don't you do it? You cannot sit idle with the land,". The Chief Minister took a swipe at the smart city policy of the Centre, saying her own scheme could make cities like Rajarhat "Over-smart". Later in the day, Housing Minister Shri Sovan Chatterjee and Urban Development Minister Shri Firhad Hakim met representatives of real estate body Credai to discuss the township scheme.


May 20, 2016
Special Session on-"Public-Private Partnership in Indian Railways"

The session was addressed by Shri A.K. Goel, General Manager South Eastern Railway

Shri A.K. Goel said that the Indian Railway plans to redevelop 400 stations across the country under the public private partnership (PPP) mode that would include the South Eastern Railway divisions of Kharagpur, Shalimar, Digha and Balasore. Similarly, to expand freight business, the Railways plans to build private freight corridors and terminals across India through PPP model. He added South Eastern Railway (SER) is expecting a growth in freight this fiscal despite concerns over coal loading. It hopes to transport 142 million tonnes (mt) of cargo in 2016-17 against 134.29mt last fiscal. Bulk of the coal South Eastern Railway transported include imported coal landing at the Haldia port and the coal mined by Coal India subsidiaries - Bharat Coking Coal, Eastern Coalfields and Central Coalfields. Coal constitutes around 19 per cent of the cargo transported by the railway division. In April, total coal traffic at the Haldia port fell 61.85 per cent from the same period a year ago. Offtake of BCCL, ECL and CCL was lower by 4.9 per cent, 10.8 per cent and 19.9 per cent, respectively. "But, at the same time there is a significant growth in iron ore loading in April and this gives us hope that we will be able to reach our target this year," the GM said.


April 18, 2016
Special Session on -- "Indian Economy - The Way to Achhe Din".

The session was addressed by Shri Swaminathan Gurumurthy, Co-Convenor, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch.

Shri Swaminathan Gurumurthy, said that there is a need to change the wrong concept of fiscal deficit and for this the fiscal responsibility and budget management (FRBM) act need to be subjected to drastic amendments. According to him no foreign model of economic development is suitable to address the issues of development in India and the incumbent dispensation at the Centre is aware of this reality. This prompted them to wind up Planning Commission and set up the NITI Ayog.

He said that the real drivers of growth are the millions of small businessmen who provide jobs to millions of people. The NSSO had been reporting in its census that it was the non -corporate sector that kept the country employed and sustained its economic growth. There is a need to provide them finance at a reduced rate for which the Prime Minister devised the mechanism of MUDRA bank. The MUDRA bank has the potential to fund the unfunded and non-formal sector which was the practical idea and potential game changer for the economy.

The Credit Suisse study says that 90 per cent of the total of 474 million jobs in India is generated by the non-corporate sector which contributes half the national GDP.

Besides, it is not export but household consumption which was the mainstay of the nation's growth. Net foreign investment in India during two decades of liberalisation averaged around 3 per cent of national investment. Foreign investment mainly funded external deficit more than development within. Domestic impulses - in terms of both investment and demand - were therefore the core factors in the Indian growth story. Additionally, the Global Entrepreneur Monitor Study (2002) found that India (18 per cent) was ahead of China (12 per cent) and US (11 per cent) in entrepreneurship. This helped brand India as entrepreneur-led.


March 17, 2016
Talk & Interactive Session on -- "Recent Developments in Service Tax & Compliances".

The session was addressed by Shri S. K. Panda, Chief Commissioner of Service Tax, Kolkata Zone & Shri Pulak Saha, Partner, Price Waterhouse & Co. LLP.

Shri S.K. Panda, Chief Commissioner of Service Tax, Kolkata Zone remarked, - "we are leading towards GST and whatever changes have been brought last year or even this year is basically in that line. We are trying to simplify the whole procedure, we are trying to address whatever irritants were there and irritants that were brought to our notice like West Bengal Government has brought to our notice regarding construction works like lots of construction works - hospitals, schools - levied in the last budget and before that contracts were entered, so there is no provision for the payment of the tax; so lot of taxes they have not paid on contracts with lands, construction are not going, this happened in most of the States. So these we have brought to the notice of the Government and Government has rightly termed that whatever contracts entered prior to that date and witn the stipulated period, now no tax should be levied. In this case huge grievances were there in the SEBI. Naturally government intention was never to charge but however because the services they were providing they were taxable and show cause notices were issued ".

Now because the government thinks that we should not charge them, naturally amendment/exemption notifications have come and for the future demands what will happen, there is a procedure for 11C. Whenever there is 11C notification, the proposal is that we are considering 11C on these issues. What happens that generally if the issue is under show cause notice stage or appellate stage, they are kept in abeyance, nobody pressurizes for the payment. So government is trying to do everything in the right earnest. In the last 6-7 months whatever proposals/irritants were brought to our notice, we have rightly brought to the government notice and some of the issues have been taken care of.

Shri Pulak Saha said that the various amendments in the Service Tax and Central Excise actually are preparedness for the GST. Though in the budget there is no single word used as far as the proposed date for implementation of GST. But the various amendments which have been brought in that basically will show how much the government is determined to start the GST. But GST will come from 1st April 2017.

The first important thing which has been brought in this budget is Krishi Kalyan Cess of 0.5%. Effective date would be 1st June 2016. The catch here is KKC is vatable not like Swach Bharat Cess, but the catch here is KKC would be applicable only on the services, that means if you are a manufacturer then the duty which is to be paid on which KKC will not be payable and KKC credit would be available only to pay the KKC. So as a manufacturer you do not have any KKC liability. So any service which would be procured by paying KKC would be your cost. Now the question comes if you are a service provider, what would be how that would be taken care of because there is lot of confusion which has come up when the Swach Bharat Cess suddenly enacted 0.5%. Because in services you have provided the service, you have raised invoice but the money has been received after that cut off date. What would be the situation?

That whether point of taxation Rule 4 will be applicable or Rule 5 will be applicable? The department has clarified that rule 5 would be applicable because as far as the department, it is new levy; Rule 5 deals with a new levy. Now they have amended the place of provision, point of taxation rules and point of taxation rule 5. They have clarified and brought in explanations where in it is categorically stated that how this would be taken care of. So if any service provided prior to 1st June 2016, invoice has been raised prior to 1st June 2016 but money received after that date, you have to pay KKC. Now if you receive the money in advance prior to 1st June 2016 and in this case you have to raise the invoice within 14 days, then no KKC would be applicable that is also in contradiction to charging section.

This year the budget has included spectrum Rights and Mining Rights in declared services. Spectrum Rights and Mining Rights which would be given and subsequent rights to be given that rights to be considered to be a declared service, for that matter now that CENVAT Credit etc would be taken care of.

There has been one important amendment brought in i.e. Sec. 78A. Section 78A through which the officer who is responsible like most of the cases CFO of a company or the MD of a company who are also being charged with a show cause notice and the penalty is Rs. 1 lac, now what was happening some time the case has to be dropped; the case has been dropped in the process because the assessee has paid the tax interest and 25% penalty, but the show cause notice which has been issued to that particular CFO or Director of that company U/s 78A that is not being dropped, so that proceeding is being continued. Now they have brought in the legislative amendment. Now through that amendment if that particular case has been dropped by making the payment of tax, interest and 25% of penalty then automatically that Sec 78A proceeding would be dropped.

The prosecution provision, the prosecution threshold limit has been increased from Rs.50 lacs to Rs. 2 crores and also similarly in line with that arrest provision. For the arrest provision also if you have collected the service tax but not deposited and the threshold limit is Rs. 50 lacs, that has also been increased to Rs. 2 crores.

One important amendment was brought in line with the Companies Act Amendment. In Companies Act there one man Company concept has come up. Now they have treated One Man Company at par with individual proprietorship firm and partnership firm and if their turnover is less than Rs.50 lacs, now they are still entitled to make the payment on receipts basis as well as they are entitled to make the payment on a quarterly basis.

There has been an amendment for the first time in service tax that now you have to file annual return by 30th November of the succeeding year. This annual return is in addition to two returns filed in October and April. If you do not file the annual return within time frame then per day penalty would be Rs.100/- subject to Rs.20,000/- maximum.


March 03, 2016
Panel Discussion & Interactive Session on -- "Union Budget 2016-17 - An Analysis

The session was addressed by Shri N.K. Poddar, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Prof. (Dr.) Suman K Mukerjee, Senior Professor, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Institute of Management Science & Shri Arun Kumar Agarwal, Senior Chartered Accountant.

Prof. (Dr.) Suman K Mukerjee said in his speech, "In this budget whatever the government is doing exactly what was done at the advent of 6th Plan when Prof. Raj Krishna came to suggest that India's success would depend on an integrated rural development because modern sector can and will not solve our problem". Since we opened up, our so called corporate sector contributes 15% of GDP and the growth is taking place because of the non-corporate sector providing 50% of the GDP. Non-corporate sector comprises some of the agricultural areas, small scale industry, tourism, travel and the entire services sector. This budget places focus on social overhead capital. It places huge role on power. It is shame that 40% of Indian agriculture is un-irrigated, 28 lac hectres of irrigation is being brought into field. Now all these growth is meaningless when 30% of population is still below poverty line. The missing point of this budget none of these plans are actually looking at how to earn foreign exchange. It is important because our debts are not only domestic but also are external and we have to learn a way of repaying this. While we are doing this, we are not noticing the value of rupees is falling. If we are looking at agriculture we must look at integrated rural development. The budget addresses this. It is stressing on roads, infrastructure which are more basics to the country.

It further addresses the problem of employment generation. The government is not going for creating jobs but the focus is on doing it yourself. Agriculture sector needs electricity at doorstep, the budget brings in rural electrification and so we will have lots of start ups and lots of people who start small and there will be generation of wealth and employment. This budget promotes entrepreneurship and talks about the needs of the startups."

Shri Arun Agarwal remarked that "In the Finance Bill 2016 as far as indirect tax is concerned, there are number of changes, mostly directed towards simplifying the tax laws, trying to reduce litigation in indirect taxes. Many issues of disputes are there and attempt has been made to resolve those disputes without bringing new concept in the legislation. This is a good Bill wherein there are numbers of welcome amendments except one that is extension of the time limit for raising a demand in indirect tax both in central excise as well as service tax. To start with, Krishi Kalyan Cess has been imposed @0.5% on the value of service that means service tax payable comes to 15%. Similarly infra cess has also been imposed on central excise on motor vehicles. One new item has been brought in that is assignment by the government of the right to use the Radio Frequency Spectrum and subsequent transfer thereof. Not only Radio Frequency Spectrum, actually it is assignment by the government of the right to explore natural resources i.e., one is radio frequency spectrum & another is mining right. These are now specifically brought under the service tax net under the declared services Section 66E. So that will now be chargeable to service tax and this is brought under reverse charge.

Thirdly, relating to this service tax will be paid by the company getting that right under reverse charge and the credit can be claimed but this credit will be spread over the period for which right is given by the government."

According to Shri N.K. Poddar, "Large numbers of amendments have been suggested in the Finance Bill 2016. The first point is Income Declaration Scheme2016. This is not VDIS. It is an Income Declaration Scheme whereby the government is giving an opportunity to persons who have not paid taxes in full in the past and they are invited to come forward and declare their undisclosed income. The aggregate amount of tax which is payable under this scheme is 45%; 30% by way of income tax, 25% of 30% by way of Krishi Kalyan Cess and 25% of 30% by way of penalty. This scheme is proposed to be effective from 1st June 2016 and willl remain open till they notify their date to renew meaning thereby the government is going to notify the scheme as soon as it is passed by the Parliament and that is why the date is put as 1st June 2016 because it is likely that the Finance Bill will be passed in the month of May and then notifications will be issued. The last date of making declaration will be specified in the scheme itself."


February 22, 2016
Talk & Interactive Session today is - "Building Safe and Secure City & Society - The Role of Government and the Public"

The session was addressed by Shri Surajit Kar Purkayastha, IPS, DG & IGP, CID, West Bengal.

Shri Surajit Kar Purkayastha said that though Kolkata's police-population ratio is less compared to other metros, it is still the most livable city in India. Quoting a 2014 survey done in over 50 cities in the country, he said "the Bureau of Police Research and Development recommends there must be one policeman for 568 people, which means 176 police for one lakh population."The United Nation suggests there must be minimum of 222 policemen for one lakh population. While Delhi has 441 policemen for one lakh people, we (Kolkata) have 186 for the same population. Still Kolkata is adjudged as the safest city in the country."

He said, "It's the culture of the city, how the people of the city interact with the police. So it's the combined effort of the people and the police that has made Kolkata the most livable city in the country,". The city's former top cop stressed that "community policing" should be a part of the modern day police system. "It is internationally accepted that community policing is very much required in today's time. If you do not have community policing in your agenda, your force is incomplete," he said mentioning some of Kolkata Police's programmes such as "Probaha" (blood donation camp by the policemen), Nabadisha (education project for street and working children by the Kolkata Police). He also emphasised,"In tune with what is happening globally, the police force has to be modernised. One cannot work in isolation. We have to modernise it,".


February 05, 2016
Panel Discussion on "MSMEs - Challenges & Opportunities"

The session was addressed by Shri Rajiva Sinha, IAS, Principal Secretary, Departments of Micro and Small Scale Enterprises and Textiles, Government of West Bengal, Shri Pradip Nayyar, President, Indian Plastic Federation and Shri Pradip Kumar Saha, CGTMSE Representative.

Shri Rajiva Sinha remarked that in the last five years, 86,000 MSMEs set up shop and Rs.92,000 crore of credit was disbursed to the MSME sector in West Bengal. Shri Sinha listed out the initiatives taken by the State Government to facilitate the growth of the sector. Bengal happened to be the only state in the country where single window service was available from the MSME facilitation centre in every district. On the technology front, the State's Technology Facilitation Centre was always available to offer any kind of help. Shri Sinha said that land was not an issue. He pointed out "We have a scheme, approved Industrial Parks, where the government gives money to set up a park with power substation, two-kilometre access road".

Another issue raised was land. Indian Plastics Federation President Shri Pradip Nayyar said that MSME units need to be near cities, preferably in a 20 km radius. He urged the State Government to create land banks near the city.

Shri Pradip Kumar Saha representing the credit guarantee trust for Small and Micro Enterprises for the eastern and north eastern region said that the offtake for the credit guarantee scheme initially had been slow, but had picked up in recent times.


December 12, 2015
Inauguration of 185th Anniversary of the Chamber

Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon'ble President of India was the Chief Guest and Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi, Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal was the Guest of Honour.

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 185th Anniversary Celebrations of Calcutta Chamber of Commerce. Speaking on the occasion, the President said the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, which is one of the oldest associations of its kind in the world, since inception, has played a catalytic role not only in the industrial growth of the region but also in its socio-economic development. A unique contribution of the Association is its efforts to improve Calcutta's civic amenities.It took an active interest in the enactment of key legislations in areas like Bengal Town Planning, Merchandise Marks, Copyright, Apprenticeship and Calcutta Port Trust etc.

The President said India has witnessed a period of high growth particularly in the middle years of last decade. Though the tempo could not be maintained thereafter, we did have good years of growth. This was despite the fact that prolonged global economic slowdown had affected the growth performance of all major economies. Barring a below five percent growth in 2012-13, our economic growth in all other years has been not less than 6.6 percent.

The President said for better economic performance, a re-energized manufacturing sector is crucial. During the years 2005-06 to 2007-08 when our economy grew by more than 9 percent, exports grew in excess of 20 percent in each of these years. Though Exports have come down in the last three years, the import bill has also called because of the decline in oil prices. This has helped to keep the current account deficit at a manageable level of 1.4 percent last year. Foreign exchange reserves at US Dollar 353 billion as of end October is also at comfortable levels giving us a cushion to meet any crisis.

The President said 8 percent GDP growth rate is achievable by India if we make united efforts in this direction. Various countries today consider India an attractive investment destination because of political stability and Government's new initiatives like Swachh Bharat, Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, etc. He called upon the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce to contribute substantially to the development of the region and the economic regeneration of India.


November 16, 2015
Talk & Interactive Session on
"Recent Trends in Enforcement Action by Income Tax Department including Search & Surveys"

The Session was addressed by Shri R. S. Upadhyay, Principal Director of Income Tax (Investigation), Kolkata and Shri Jinesh S. Vanzara, Sr. Chartered Accountant.

Shri R S Upadhyay, Principal Director IT (Investigation), Kolkata, said "We are sharpening our strategies to such an extent that non-compliance with the taxation provisions by individuals and companies do not go unnoticed by the department". The investigation wing of Income Tax (IT) department is sharpening its strategies to make search and survey procedures more effective. He said the IT department was doing 360 degree profiling of the taxpayers based on the humongous quantum of data generated and captured. A database of more than 10,000 companies has also been created. Stating that investigation approach would always be tougher than assessment route, Shri Upadhyay said search and seizure would necessarily lead to prosecution. The official said any red-flagged banking transaction would automatically reach the doors of the IT department.

Shri Jinesh S. Vanzara opinioned that high tax rates, corruption in public sector units, multiple tax rates and inefficient tax authorities are the main causes of tax evasion. He suggested that reduction in tax rates, simplifications of tax laws, remove loopholes in the tax system and some extent proper processing of information available under the annual information return can be best tool for improving tax compliance. Therefore there is a need for creating transparent, friendlier and less discriminatory administrative system.


October 16, 2015
Special Session on
"Financing Options for Exports and Imports"

The Session was addressed by Mr. Rohit Choudhary, Vice President and Director, India, World Business Capital of Hartford, CT, USA & Mr. Amit Kothari, Deputy Zonal Manager Corporate Banking - East, ICICI Bank.

Mr. Rohit Choudhary pointed out that World Business Capital, Inc. (WBC) is a pioneer and leading private sector partner of various government agencies and offers flexible long term loans to help small and midsize businesses compete in the global marketplace. The Term Loans are available to Eligible Indian Projects, Corporates and Financial Institutions with Loan Size varying $3-15 million & Repayment Term: 7-10 years. The Loan Proceeds are used to purchase and installation of New Equipment and Related Components, Facility Construction & Acquisitions, On Lending (eligible enterprises), Joint Ventures/SPV/Projects and Priority Sectors. The focussed areas are FoodProcessing/Agribusiness/Microfinance Institutions/Manufacturing companies/Warehousing/Cold Storage/Renewable Energy/Infrastructure Finance/Packaging Companies/Water/Waste Treatment/Housing Finance Companies.

Mr. Choudhary added that WBC loans enable Indian SMEs to make new direct investments and expand existing investments in India and in the United States - significantly increasing their opportunities and competitiveness. WBC is committed to developing the SME sector in India and supporting Indian businesses to expand their trade and investment relations with the U.S.

According to Mr. Amit Kothari, while financing imports-exports Banks deal in documents related to trade, not goods. Bank's role in facilitating trade is categorized as i) Financer, ii) Agent. The Bank as a Financer provides Fund Based Financing & Non - Fund Based Financing. As an Agent the Bank handles the documents on behalf of other bank, importer or exporter, Routes the fund to other bank e.g. Remittances. The Products and Services rendered are in terms of Letter of Credit, Bank Guarantee, Import-Export Credit, Forwards and Options & Remittances. Pre Shipment Finance can be advanced in Rupee or Foreign Currency. Specific Credit Limits sanctioned to facilitate trade transactions and covers working capital required for purchase, processing, manufacturing & packing of goods, available for a period upto 270 days but can be extended upto a maximum period of 360 days with penal interest, depending upon the genuiness to banks satisfactory & gets converted into Post Shipment Finance on dispatch of goods. Post Shipment Finance in the form of Export Bills, Purchase/Discounting/Negotiation, Advance Against Bill Sent on Collection, keeps the business cycle running till the realization of export proceeds, available for a period 270 days for each transaction from the date of shipment, interest charged till the Export Bills are realized. Banks act as Collecting Agents for their Customers by transmitting Instructions for Delivery of Documents. The Buyer gets Title to Goods as soon as he receives the Documents.


October 08, 2015
Special Session on
"New Horizons of Tourism in West Bengal"

The Session was addressed by Shri Surajit Bose, Jt. Director, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of West Bengal.

While presenting the State new brand logo "Experience Bengal: The Sweetest Part of India" Shri Surajit Bose remarked that the state has everything but a desert; there is a lot of potential which is waiting to be harnessed. West Bengal is in favour of sustainable and responsible tourism. There are some palaces that are in the ruins and can be transformed into hotels so the government is looking for private support. Shri Bose revealed that Bengal is packed with many tourism projects and is promoting new destinations like Gajol Doba in the north and Jhorkhali in the south.The government is taking care of the infrastructure and is bidding out properties to private holdings. The project is strategically located in the foot hills of Sikkim. It will be an eco-tourism hub on the banks of the Teesta barrage which will foster jungle safaris and water sports at the same time. It will be close to the other jungles providing quality stay options. The project will have a nine-hole golf course and will attract tourists of budget to star categories.

In addition, Jhorkhali will be a gateway to the Sundarbans and will have quality hotels for all budgets. There are plans to promote the island district of Sabuj Dweep which is a picnic destination. The government is working in partnership with private holdings. The concept of home stays is largely being carried out in the Magurmari in Dooars forest where an involvement with local people is expected to be popular among tourists. The government is planning on incentive policies for the hotel and tourism sector.


 

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