The Session was addressed by Shri Sanjeev Sanyal, Hon'ble Member, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, Government of India.
Hon'ble Member Shri Sanjeev Sanyal stated that India's economy will grow at close to 7 per cent during the ongoing fiscal. He said there is a need to counter global narratives built on "absurd and irrelevant" data points, and India's second-largest rating agency CareEdge will soon start publishing sovereign ratings.
He said "We will be growing at somewhat close to 7 per cent for the year, and that would easily make us the world's fastest-growing,". Sanjeev Sanyal, said that for too long, India's growth has been defined by others. "It's time we start taking control of our own narrative and defining ourselves on our own terms,".
"CareEdge will begin publishing these readings (sovereign ratings) in the next few months, followed by indices on democracy, freedom, sustainability and corporate governance within the next year," he added. However, India cannot ignore the existing global indices as they currently hold a 20 per cent weightage on investment and cost of capital. Sanyal also reaffirmed the government's commitment to increasing the share of manufacturing in the GDP mix. He highlighted several ongoing initiatives, including Production-Linked Incentives (PLI), aimed at achieving this goal. "We are putting a very big effort into getting manufacturing going in India. A lot of effort has been put in, for example protecting Indian companies from Chinese dumping, which happens all the time. "It's not perfect, but we are providing some protection. We do not want to go too far with it because our own history tells us that if we over-protect our industry what will happen is the Ambassador car... But, we will do where we need to provide protection," he said.
The Session was addressed by eminent speakers Rotarian Shekhar Mehta, Rotary International President - 2021-22 & Smt. Mamta Binani, Advocate and Company Secretary.
Mrs. Mamta Binani in her presentation said that the Social Stock Exchange (SSE) provides stock market listings for non-profit organizations. She defined the social stock exchange and its advantages and explained the operation of the social stock exchange in India. Social Stock Exchange means an electronic platform where we will trade bonds in the format of zero coupon, zero principle bonds which means it is in the format of donation or grant. The concept of SSE is very unique, it says zero coupon, zero principle, which means it will not bear any interest, zero principle means it is in the format of donation, where investor will not even get back the principle amount. The SSE has two formats - SSE can be used by NGOs in the format of non-profit making organization (NPO). Even FPOs can come and use SSE. FPO means For Profit organization e.g, hospitals, schools, eye foundations etc, they need profit so that they are self-sustaining. They can use social stock exchange. Social Stock Exchange are allowed to - i) Section 8 company, ii) public trust, iii) society or any other entity or organization permitted by SEBI, iv) trust under Indian Trust Act and v) one where SEBI reserves the right, any other entity notified by SEBI from time to time. SEBI has come out with simplified provisions for NGOs and FPOs. Eligibility criteria as per SEBI is NGOs should be at least 3 years old, works done in these three years and what social impact they have done, why these activities have been done and what are their specialized areas.
67% of beneficiaries on an average in the preceding three financial years should be beneficiaries of their specialized area. Second criterion is their spending in the preceding year has to be 50 lakhs. Third criterion is at least 10 lakhs donation have come in preceding financial year and fourth criteria is 67% of money should also have been spent on eye surgery and 67% of donation should also be received for eye surgery.
Rtn Shekhar Mehta mentioned that over the years the corporate and non-corporate organizations made efforts to support the government in its welfare initiatives, raising funds through various conventional methods like donations, grants etc. SSE is a unique method introduced by the government of raising funds through a stock exchange which is dedicated to non-profit organizations.
He said ethos of giving is in all of us. It is the NGOs who are supporting the society. It is, therefore, imperative that NGOs should be supported as much as possible. One great thing that the Government of India has done is to mandate CSR. But sometimes it happens where to give this money. Fortunately, stock exchange comes with tremendous transparency with this mechanism as to where to give, how much to give and whom to give. Initially credible NGOs will have to be there in social stock exchange, otherwise SSE will lose its credibility. SSE is a distinctive platform. The CSR amounts of Rs.35000 crore is available for doing good in the world, majority of this fund goes to Government schemes. It is suggested that all corporate leaders, professionals should talk about the social stock exchange and encourage others.
The Chamber was happy to associate with the Public Relations Society of India, Kolkata Chapter's special annual event, a conference focused on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), held on 30th September 2023 at the ITC Sonar, Kolkata, in the capacity of the Industry Partner of the event.
The objective of this conference was to start serious dialogues towards mainstream representation of the differently abled, the LGBTQAI+ and other marginalized communities of the society. The conference witnessed deliberations from people representing these communities who are experts from different fields and very successful professionals. The panel discussions had guest speakers and influencers from similar backgrounds who have millions of followers on social media.
Shri Krishna Kumar Kejriwal was also one of the panelists of a discussion on 'Creating Inclusive Minds: Education's Role in Fostering Diversity'. As education is the primary source of perception building of a child, it is of great significance how the education institutes practice and promote diversity and inclusion within their campus.
A 7-member multisector Business Delegation from Calcutta Chamber of Commerce attended "India - Central Highlands Trade and Investment Conference - 2023" on 30th and 31st August, 2023 in the Da Lat City, Vietnam organized by Consulate General of India in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The delegation was led by Mr Kishan Kumar Kejriwal, President, Calcutta Chamber of Commerce. The delegation was very well received by the Consulate General of India in Ho Chi Minh City and had successful meetings with the Vietnam Enterprises.
Mr. Pham S - Provincial Commissioner, Vice Chairman of Lam Dong Province People's Committee in his welcome note commented that in terms of trade cooperation, many key commodity products of Lam Dong Province have been exported to the Indian market like green coffee beans; raw silk, textiles, silk fabric; aluminum oxide. Lam Dong is a potential land, particularly with many advantages for agricultural development, and is eager to welcome Indian investors and entrepreneurs seeking opportunities for investment and trade cooperation.
In his remarks Dr. Madan Mohan Sethi, Consul General of India in Ho Chi Minh City said "for the first time in history, more than 40 companies from eight Indian states representing Agriculture, Pharmaceuticals, Agricultural Machinery, Information Technology, Tourism and Education have converged in Da Lat, including three organizations, which comprise the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, Krishi Udhyami Krishak Vikas Chamber and Association for Global Economic Development and its member businesses.
He added that "the entire purpose of inviting a large corporate delegation to Vietnam is to foster commercial partnerships between enterprises on both sides. What I see are opportunities in trade, investment, education, information technology, tourism and healthcare. Although we have a good bilateral trade of 15.1 billion USD, we all know that it is below its inherent potential. India presents a massive market equivalent to China for many products in Vietnam. Lam Dong province is a vast province with strong agricultural and tourism industries. The province's primary businesses include the processing of agricultural, forestry and fishery products, fertilizers and the generation of electricity and aluminum".
MCKV INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING, India (owned by Mr. Kishan Kumar Kejriwal, President, Calcutta Chamber of Commerce & Head of the Delegation) also signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dalat University, VIETNAM.
The Guest of Honour was Dr. Bibek Debroy, Hon'ble Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, Government of India.
Bibek Debroy said the government was losing revenue due to the GST, which should be revenue neutral with a single rate. "The ideal GST is one that has a single rate, and it was meant to be revenue neutral. When it was introduced, there were some calculations by the Ministry of Finance then that said, in order to be revenue neutral, the average GST rate must be at least 17 per cent. "The average rate now is 11.4 per cent. So because of GST, the government is losing revenue," the eminent economist said. Bibek Debroy said the public as well as members of the GST Council want the 28 per cent tax rate to come down, but "no one wants the 0 per cent and 3 per cent tax rates to go up". "That way, we will never have a simplified GST," '.
On direct taxes, the EAC-PM chairman said 'the eventual goal of tax reforms should be the complete elimination of all exemptions. Any exemption makes life more complicated, increases compliance costs and leads to litigations, he said. "If the government needs to spend, it needs revenue... 10 per cent of GDP must be spent on health and education, 3 per cent on defence and 10 per cent on infrastructure. However, we as citizens pay around 15 per cent of GDP as taxes. What this means is we pay taxes at 15 per cent, but our demands and expectations from the government are to the extent of 23 per cent'. "So, whether we like it or not, either we must be prepared to pay more as taxes or our expectations cannot be like - we get airports like in the West or get railway stations like in China," he said.
The renowned economist also said the rate of population growth in India was slowing down sharply, and the burden of the aged will be a challenge for the country after 2035. Social security for the aged can be managed if there is a balanced population pyramid, with young people coming into the labour force and their contributions financing the social security needs of the old, he stated.
He said there is a cause for concern about the nature of jobs being created in the country, and the lack of correlation between skills and education. "We need to create about 8 million jobs per year, we are creating about 5 million. The big issue is about the nature of these jobs, which are not productive enough and of low value," Bibek Debroy added.
Calcutta Chamber of Commerce organized a meet and greet program for the New members. The program was well received and attended by the members of the Chamber - New & existing and provided for a formal networking platform to get together with each other. The program also saw discussions on the benefits that are associated with membership. The Chamber sought advice, recommendations, comments from the new members in order to discharge its functions more effectively. The evening witnessed interactions & exchanges over a networking dinner.
The Guest of Honour was Dr. Arvind Virmani, Hon'ble Member, NITI Aayog.
Mr. Arvind Virmani, Hon'ble Member, NITI Aayog said "I am pleased to note that GDP growth has accelerated, indicating a positive trajectory for the Indian economy. The growth momentum continues across various sectors, including agriculture, which is a vital component of our economy. Additionally, the vision of Amritkaal, with its focus on a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy, is set to propel India's manufacturing sector, making it a significant player in the global market. Moreover, as India strengthens its manufacturing capabilities and focuses on exporting, we have the potential to reap the benefits irrespective of what China does. Furthermore, the digital transformation of India is evident, with a remarkable 70% of transactions now happening online, showcasing the immense potential of the e-commerce sector in our country."
NITI Aayog member Arvind Virmani today said that India needs to have a more competitive environment for the country to become an economic power in the coming years. The government, he said, needs to focus on public good, create a market-driven environment, formulate regulations for economic activity, and empower people.
The distinguished speakers were Dr. Shashi Jindel, Senior Consultant Gynae and OBS MBBS MS, Ms. Neelam Agarwal, Nutrition Consultant and Dr. Neha Agrawal, Consultant, Physiotherapist and a Chiropractor.
Dr. Shashi Jindel, Senior Consultant Gynae and OBS MBBS MS defined menopause and narrated the phases relating to that. While explaining the treatment she explained that it depends on how bad are the symptoms, overall health of the woman, lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, hormone treatment etc. She also cautioned that there are chances of breast cancer and advised some diet and lifestyle changes - regular check-up of lipid profile, low fat diet, exercise and meditation, calcium, and vitamin D supplements are the preventive measures.
Ms. Neelam Agarwal, Nutrition Consultant focused on food for strong bones. She remarked that osteoporosis is a progressive loss of bone tissue and an increased risk of fractures which is natural part of ageing but is aggravated post menopause due to decline in levels of estrogen. It can be prevented by nutrition and exercise. She described nutrients vital for bone health having calcium, magnesium, vitamins etc. and focused on vegetables and non-vegetarian diet.
Dr. Neha Agarwal, Consultant Physiotherapist and a Chiropractor explained that during menopause estrogen progesterone controls menstruation. Menopause happens when the ovaries no longer produce high levels of hormone. Estrogen help control body wait. The body uses starch and blood sugar less effectively and reduced estrogen also lowers metabolic rate. She demonstrated pelvic muscle exercise and said deep breathing, yoga and stretching would manage stress. But woman with osteoporosis should not include high impact aerobic exercise.
The Session was addressed by Mr. Sujoy Mondal, Tally Solutions and Mr. Rambabu Ray, Dynavision Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
While explaining the features of Audit Trial Mr. Sujoy Mondal and Mr. Rambabu Ray remarked that Audit Trial is a log of financial transactions and is listed in order and serves as proof of a transaction history, right from recording to tracking all changes that may take place. The notification has its impact in the way that the Company should ensure that the existing software provides Audit Trial facility and CA should certify the software. The features of Audit Trial are varied and the Company should ensure all the features namely date stamp, edit log features and technical log vs. audit log etc.
Mr. Rambabu clarified that the software should track and log changes right from creation to alteration to deletion of transactions. Accounting software should have a separate log for the software issues and a dedicated Audit Trial (Edit log) that is for accounting compliance. The Company needs to upgrade to Tally Prime Edit Log and there is flexibility to operate Tally Prime and Tally Prime Edit Log as par one's business need.
The MCA notification clearly states that an accounting software with Audit Trial capability should not have any option to disable it. So it is an in-built capability available in the Tally Prime Edit Log product. For the users who do not fall under the purview of the MCA rule will use Tally Prime product. The business falling under the purview of Audit Prime are all Public and Private Companies, one person companies, Companies owned by Government of India, State Government Companies, NIDHI Companies etc.
Describing the preparedness for E-invoicing, Mr. Sujoy Mondol commented that tax payers will receive a communication from department and on receiving the communication, tax payers will be logging to IRP portal and complete registration process by providing required details. Tax payers will select their preferred GSP in case of API based E invoice generation and start generating e invoice from date of applicability.
The documents to be reported to E invoice system are B2B / B2G tax invoice, export invoice, reverse charged invoices, credit notes and debit notes. He described features of enable E invoicing and effortlessly generate E invoice using Tally GSP. He also spelt out how to generate E invoice effortlessly along with E Way Bill.
The Chief Guest was Dr. C. V. Ananda Bose, Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal and Guest of Honour & Distinguished Author was Dr. Kiran Bedi, Hon'ble Former Lt. Governor of Puducherry.
Dr. C. V. Ananda Bose, Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal introduced the Book on "Fearless Governance" authored by Dr. Kiran Bedi, Hon'ble Former Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry at Raj Bhavan, Kolkata. Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal and Hon'ble Former Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, through their incredible discourses shared thoughts on the essence of good and fearless governance.
While speaking on Fearless Governance, Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal Dr. C.V. Ananda Bose characterized Dr. Kiran Bedi as an iconic Civil Servant. Hon'ble Governor said that - 'Right from the day she is in service, she has been the role model of the country. Dr. Kiran Bedi was not just an individual, she was a sensation. As I myself have always admired her, on many occasions I remember to have told my daughter to be like Dr. Kiran Bedi. Citing the strength of Goddess Kali, Dr. Bose expressed that Dr. Kiran Bedi demonstrated Stree-shakti, the Strength of Kali. Dr. Bedi according to Governor is embracing the lessons of Gita - You have the right to work only but never to its fruits - - Nishkama Karma. In civil service, the task is not rule based but role based, Dr. Kiran Bedi ac'.
Dr. Kiran Bedi, Hon'ble Former Lt. Governor of Puducherry while speaking about the book on Fearless Governance said - 'My service as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry for five years has given me a wide experience in governance. As a Lieutenant Governor, I was in a totally different position than that of your full-fledged Governor. I was a hands-on functioning executive/ administrator. I got the opportunity to connect to people, and full powers on financial and service related matters. Now, why did I write this book? It's because it is my duty to document what has been done. Therefore whatever I inherited and whatever I did during my tenure is documented in this book'.
She said, 'It was not a lonely work, it was a strong team work where people of Puducherry was involved. How we revive the entire Puducherry beach has been documented in the book and how did we work together despite challenges of vested interest. Many issues of Government of India were challenged during my time and there were lot of legal challenges and we spent so much of money in legal battles. The people of Puducherry was part and parcel of these challenges. In the book also it is documented how we involved the corporate in water (saline) treatment process and irrigation canals. There were all sponsored irrigation canals. Some parts of the content show that administrators, lieutenant governors, executives or bureaucrats can actually work together in coordination with politically elected representatives. And when they are in line, they can do wonders in administration. This book gives an account of the leadership quality which are required to render good governance'.
The Guests of Honour were Dr. Mou Sen, Joint Director (HQ), MSME, Government of West Bengal, Mr. Ashoke Ghosh, Deputy-Director (HQ), MSME, Government of West Bengal and Mr. Alok Tibrewala, Member, West Bengal State Micro & Small Enterprises Facilitation Council.
Dr. Mou Sen, Joint Director(HQ), MSME, Government of West Bengal during her presentation remarked that micro and small enterprises facilitation council established under the MSMED act 2006 is the fastest and most affordable process for MSEs to resolve delayed payment. As par the act buyer shall make payment within 45 days. Otherwise buyer is liable to pay interest at the rate three times of bank rate with monthly compounding to the supplier along with the principal amount. She pointed out that any MSEs except a trader having valid Udyam Registration can apply before the Facilitation Council. No trader is allowed to file a case and if filed through on line portal, the case will be rejected in subsequent hearings.
She added that the MSEs can apply before the council only through on line mode - www.samadhan.msme.gov.in maintained by Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India. She also stated that as par the recent Supreme Court order, for cases where the enterprises did not file for MSME Registration Certificate/Acknowledgement before supply of goods or rendering services is not maintainable.
Mr. Ashoke Ghosh, Deputy-Director(HQ), MSME, Government of West Bengal told that 75% of the awarded amount to be deposited before the court for setting aside any decree, award or order made by the Council. The court shall order that such percentage of amount shall be paid to the supplier as it considered reasonable under circumstances of the cases. There is a provision of interest on legitimate outstanding principal amount. Mr. Ghosh commented that this beneficial legislation solely dedicated to MSEs has a overriding power over any other law being a special act - where any buyer fails to make payment to the supplier within 45 days from the date of acceptance, buyer is liable to pay compound interest with monthly rest at three times of the bank rate as notified by the RBI.
Describing achievement of the WBMSE Facilitation Council Mr. Alok Tibrewala, Member, West Bengal State Micro & Small Enterprises Facilitation Council cited that WBMSEF Council owned a trophy for securing third position in respect of third highest number of cases settled in 2018 in a programme conducted by CIMSME with the help of Development Commissioner, MSME, Government of India. WBMSEF Council won a trophy of EXCELLENCE AWARD in a programme conducted by CIMSME with the help of Dev. Commissioner MSME, GoI. Mr. Tibrewala also presented few landmark judgements in respect of delayed payment under MSMED act.
The Guest of Honour was Mr. Ashish Middha, IFS, Regional Passport Officer, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
Mr. Ashish Middha, Regional Passport Officer said that in 2023 the total number of Indian Passport issued from the Regional Passport Office Kolkata might cross 6 Lakhs. He added that the government and the Passport Offices in recent times have taken several action to address issues of escalating demand, technical glitches, streamlining application, procedure strengthening background checks, growing its net work of PSKs and working with law endorsement organizations. Mr. Middha said soon the Ministry of External Affairs will start the issuance of e-passport. Earlier the Passport Seva Kendra in Kolkata used to accept 150 application every day. But presently Mr. Middha has written to the Ministry of External Affairs to increase the number to 200.
Urging people to opt for normal passport over Tatkal, he said "General idea is that Tatkal passport issuance is like railway Tatkal. A tatkal application would be processed under post police verification. But after checking the documents, if the passport offices find anything adverse, then passport will be granted on pre police verification. So there is no guarantee that with Tatkal application, you will be ensured post police verification.
The Guests of Honour of the Session were Mr. Hari Kishore Kusumakar, IPS, Special Commislsioner of Police, Kolkata, Mr. Krishnamurthy Chittoor, Information Security Officer (Asst. GM), State Bank of India, Mumbai, Mr. Sumantra Bose, Principal Associate, Khaitan and Co., and Mr. Sandeep Sengupta, Director, Indian School of anti Hacking (ISOAH).
Special Commissioner of Police Mr. Hari Kishore Kusumakar advised people to be more cautious in order to stay safe from Cyber criminals. Mr. Kusumakar explained the challenges that police have to face during investigation of cyber-crime going to the jurisdictional related issues. Special CP informed that the cyber criminals always take advantage of the jurisdiction so that they can avoid police. A large number of cyber criminals use virtual private net work (VPN) which acts a layer between the police and offender. Though it is not always impossible to break the VPN but many of such networks are from other countries. As they do not come under the Indian law, it is hard to get details from them. Mr. Kusumakar advised people not to wait for getting into a trap laid by the cyber criminals. Instead he put more stress of spreading awareness. He said awareness is the key. Rather than depending on the Cops, people should make themselves more and more aware.
Mr Krishnamurthy Chitoor was of opinion that technology adoption has significantly impacted the cyber security threat landscape. The financial sector is one of the most vulnerable sectors when it comes to cyber-attacks, and such attacks have kept on increasing. He spoke on the measures that can be adopted to prevent such crimes include - ensure proper protection of customer data., mplementing proper checks, including user account verification, user login monitoring and password security to bring in accountability. He cautioned that to avoid any cyber attack, one should go through official website of banks. One should not update mobile number etc. online rather should go to the bank for updation. Mr. Chittoor said that in any organization negligent and unaware employees are at the core of most vulnerabilities. In most cases cyber-attacks are due to negligence.
Mr. Sumantra Bose remarked that there are laws that administer the use of cyberspace and supervise the use of information, software, electronic commerce and financial transactions in the digital environment. In India, cyber laws have helped to enable electronic commerce and electronic governance to flourish by safeguarding maximum connectivity and minimizing security concerns. He added the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has prepared a draft Bill, titled the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022. The purpose of this Act is to provide for the processing of digital personal data that recognizes both the right of individuals to protect their personal data and the need to process personal data for lawful purpose.
Mr. Sandeep Sengupta said that Video-call blackmails, loan fraud apps, and duping people with threats of disconnecting power supply and into sharing device screens have become the most reported frauds. He said it was important for professional and others to remain cautious against cyber crimes and hackers. Mr. Sengupta said that the solution to Video-call blackmail is to cover the front camera of the phone with a sticker. "Even if a video call starts accidentally, they cannot see you. If you fall victim to such a fraud, just Whats App them that you have sent their number to the police cyber cell and block the number,".
According to police records, many persons fall prey to loan app frauds by downloading loan apps and allowing access to the personal details stored on their phones. He cautioned that "While downloading a loan app, the software seeks permission for gaining access to the image gallery, contact list and location of your phone. Many apps cannot be installed unless the used grants the permission. Ideally, one should not download such apps,"
The Calcutta Chamber of Commerce organized a Meet wherein the Chamber presented a summary of the Visit of the Business Delegation to Vietnam and the delegates were felicitated. This was followed by Holi Get-together & a musical event wherein members & guests actively participated.
A 14-member multisectoral Business Delegation from Calcutta Chamber of Commerce visited the two regions of Vietnam - Hanoi & Ho-Chi Minh City from 26th February - 2nd March 2023. The delegation was led by Mr Kishan Kumar Kejriwal, President, Calcutta Chamber of Commerce. The objective of the visit was to assess the investment climate in different sectors of Vietnam, to explore the possibilities of business tie-ups and hold meetings with business leaders and high officials of the Vietnam Government to enhance trade between the two countries.
The delegation was very well received by and had successful meetings with the Indian Embassy in Hanoi, Ministry of Trade & Industry (MOIT), Board of Directors of Housing Development and Trading Joint Stock Company, Investors of three Industrial Parks in Hanoi as well as Ho-Chi-Minh City and had attended Seminar & B2B meeting with VIETRADE organised by Indian Business Chamber (INCHAM) at Hanoi & Ho-Chi-Minh City.
It is a matter of great pride that during the Visit CALCUTTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with INDIAN BUSINESS CHAMBER IN HANOI and CENTRE OF INFORMATION AND INVESTMENT CONSULTANT (INVEST GLOBAL). MCKV INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING, India (owned by Mr. Kishan Kumar Kejriwal, President, Calcutta Chamber of Commerce & Head of the Delegation) also signed Cooperation Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with INDUSTRIAL UNIVERSITY OF HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM.
H.E. Ms. Melinda Pavek, Hon'ble Consul General of USA, Kolkata was the Chief Guest and Eminent Speakers were Rtn. Ajoy Law, Rotary District Governor RID 3291, Sri Jawhar Sircar, Hon'ble Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Dr. Kunal Sarkar, Eminent Cardiologist, Medica Superspeciality Hospital and Prof.(Dr.) Sujoy Kumar Biswas, Regional President, IACC, EIC, Kolkata.
On the eve of the first anniversary of the Ukraine war, US Consul General Ms Melinda Pavek urged the international Rotarian community to raise its voice against ongoing Russian atrocities. Talking about the "robust and far-reaching sanctions and export controls" that the US has placed on Russia to curtail its war economy. Ms Pavek said, "US and its partners will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes to restore peace." Ms Pavek added that the good news is that US sanctions is "weakening Russia on the battlefield," and helping to bring the war to an end, reflected in Russia's 10 percent federal budget cut in 2023.
Mr. Jawhar Sircar, MP, Rajya Sabha referred to the war in Ukraine among other challenges to global peace to argue that "the history of humanity is one of repeated challenges and of continual responses". Mr. Sircar argued that since conflict is hardwired into our genetic framework, we cannot erase it but continually adopt social mechanisms to overcome it.
Dr. Kunal Sarkar while exchanging ideas of contemporary challenges to peace and their possible solutions remarked, "90% of our existential time is completely unknown, unrecorded, in any time. When we talk about how peace loving we are, we are not peace loving at all. From the very beginning, we are not very friendly, homely people - few of us manage to survive and that is the beginning of human species". He believes that 'Rotary is a platform in which one exists as an individual with feeling of right and wrong, identifies what the society lapse, goes ahead and devises ways and means for addressing those deficiencies in society. Here in lies the solution. It is actually service above self'.
The Session was addressed by Dr. Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Group Chief Economic Advisor, State Bank of India and Ms. Aditi Bhutoria, Assistant Professor, IIM-Calcutta were the speakers.
Talking about Budget 2023 Dr. Soumya Kanti Ghosh commented that the budget actually has many first - if we look into the capital expenditure which is basically creation of productive assets, we find capital expenditure highest in 18 years. Secondly, the revenue deficit of the Government this year is the lowest in last 17 years, Subsidy to GDP ratio is also the lowest in last 17 years and this sets the context of the budget. The Government has provided for a budget with infrastructure boost. MSMEs, agriculture and infrastructure received special attention of the budget. The Government has also gone for a new tax regime. It is a very pragmatic budget. Tax buoyancy is highest in last 53 years and during pandemic too, there was surge in tax to GDP ratio. This is a budget for creation of productive assets, the impact of which will be felt over long period of time.
Reiterating Ms. Aditi Bhutoria also said it is first in the budget this year to bring in the idea of Amrit Kaal. India today has a vision which is inspiring. The budget has talked about the vision of Amrit Kaal with Saptarishi which include inclusivity, delivering to the last mile, conversation on green technology, technology related ideas, youth power and aspects of finances. The budget has a thrust on empowering women. The idea of budget is translating into Amrit Kaal and to connect it and with inclusivity is extremely important. With three important goals in a mixed economy like India with public and private sector work together - i) allocator, ii) redistributors and iii) stabilization. The redistributive aspect is predominant in this budget.
The Panelists were CA K.R. Sekar, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India, CA Rohini Aggarawal, GST and Public Policy Consultant and Mr. Gaurav Jalan, Founder and CEO, mPokket.
Mr. K.R. Sekar commented that this year budget has become a talking point of India for some historical reasons, because there is lot of expectations around the budget. The government heavily bets on infrastructure which is most vital for the growth of the country and the huge capital outlay of Rs. 10 lacs crore has been allotted which includes 2.4 lac crore for railways. Second important thing is that the government is bringing technology in every sphere; every project should be technology-based. There is a Digi Locker and National Knowledge Learning Machine for end people. These all are positive side. The government is very serious about the Startups- increasing startup, motivating startup and again focused on MSMEs.
The Hon'ble Finance Minister mentioned in her speech that they will constitute a grievance redressal mechanism by appointing 100 Jt. Commissioners from Income Tax Department for resolving the pending appeals. But Mr. Sekar said that as per CAG Audit Report of March 2022, a number of appeal cases are 4.94 lacs, the amount is locked up Rs.24.90 lac crore in litigation. Therefore 100 Jt. Commissioner is not sufficient for dispose of the matter. Lastly he said that the budget is good but the budget should be followed by action.
CA Rohini Aggarawal stated that no much amendment has come in the budget as far as GST is concerned. The government has announced some very good schemes and overall this is a good budget. From the perspective of indirect taxes, nothing has changed for industry. This budget has not impacted industry. There is no tribunal news, it was expected that GST Tribunal provisions will get amended in this budget. We do not have the basic framework for making a tribunal. It is a problem of a decade and this is a serious issue. Nothing has happened in this budget for GST Tribunal.
Mr. Gaurav Jalan said UPI is one of the leading payment technologies and the government encourages this and it is a good initiative. The government focused on fiscal consolidation and trying to reduce the budget deficit. There is a focus on capital expenditure and revenue expenditure. One more good initiative taken by the government is to introduce the Digi Locker, UPI; the leading payment technology in the world.