Aadhaar­less bank a/cs to be invalid by year end


NEWDELHI: Bank accounts that are not linked to Aadhaar will be frozen and no new accounts can be opened without the 12-digit biometric identity number after December 31, according to new government rules.

Aadhaar cards along with Permanent Account Numbers (PAN) or Form 60 for those outside the tax net will also be mandatory from now on for transactions above ~50,000. Those who don’t have the documents will have to prove they have applied for them.

The latest regulations, issued by the revenue department on June 1, come as amendments to rules related to the anti-money laundering law that the government is seeking to tighten to fight black money and terror funding.

Frozen accounts can be reactivated by linking to Aadhaar details. “The money will be safe but the accounts will not be operational. Once the account holder shows the required documents they will be unfrozen,” a finance ministry official said.

The new rules apply to individual account holders and the authorised signatories where accounts are in the name of companies and partnerships firms.

Some 65% of India’s estimated 70 crore savings accounts are Aadhaar-linked. Similar official data for current and other kinds of accounts wasn’t immediately available. The government issued one billion Aadhaar cards till April 2016, the latest year for which data is available.

The government has also moved to watch more closely small accounts with deposits under ~50,000.


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Three airlines told to move to Terminal 2

The ministry of civil aviation (MOCA) has given IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir time till July 15 to decide the date for shifting to Delhi airport’s Terminal 2 from Terminal 1, which is operating beyond its capacity.

In a strongly worded letter, the ministry told the three low-cost airlines if they do not come up with a date within a month, they will be ‘forced’ to shift out.

“As a final opportunity, the airlines operating from T1 shall discuss the issue among themselves in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable situation in a month, by July 15, 2017. In case there is no consensus by July 15, the airport operator shall be free to decide the suitable course of action, which shall be binding on these airlines,” said SV Ramana, under secretary in MOCA, in the letter to the airlines.

Delhi has two operational terminals – T1 and T3. Though the capacity of T1 is 20 million passengers, it handles 24 million passengers annually. Seven-year-old T3 is getting congested due to an increase in the number of flights.

The ministry wants T2 to become operational by October when the winter schedule starts so that T1 can be taken up for expansion. “In any case, T2 should be operational before the commencement of winter schedule 2017,” the letter said.

T2 was renovated in early 2016 to accommodate at least two of the three low-cost airlines operating from T1. However, the airlines refused to move out fearing a rise in the operational cost.

T2 was earlier used for international flights before T3 was commissioned in 2010. It had been lying abandoned since then and used for Haj once a year.

The airlines were given the option to shift some flights to T2, including the ones they would introduce in the future. The deadlock continued, which the civil aviation minister earlier said was ‘undesirable’ as it caused inconvenience to passengers.

T1 and T3 – can together handle 62 million passengers per annum. In 2016, 55.6 million used these terminals and the number is likely to go beyond their capacity this year. The number of flights per day increased to 1185 in 2016 from 1050 average flight movements in a day in 2015.


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Govt signals easing of cattle rules

NEW DELHI: The Centre will not push states to enforce new rules that made it virtually impossible to buy cattle for slaughter, and will allow separate meat markets so that exports don’t hurt, a top government law officer said on Thursday.

Additional solicitor general P Narsimha’s comments signal an accommodating stand by the government after critics slammed the new rules as trying to dictate food habits with a backdoor ban on beef.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court gave the government two weeks to say why the rules shouldn’t be struck down as unconstitutional. The court is P NARSIMHA, ASG hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the move that was put on temporary hold by the Madras high court two weeks ago.

“There is no beef ban in the country today… in view of the interim order by the Madras high court the central government is of the view that the rules are stayed across the country,” Narsimha HARSH VARDHAN, Union minister told a leading newspaper.

“The government is in the process of inviting objections from stakeholders… It will also form meat markets keeping the demands of importers in view.”

Environment minister Harsh Vardhan too said the government will look into all the complaints “in full depth and honesty”.

The new rules have crimped supplies to the country’s ~1-lakh crore meat and allied industries and hurt mostly Muslim meat and leather traders who face mounting violence by increasingly assertive cow vigilante groups. Farmers have also been deprived of a traditional source of income from selling non-milch and ageing cattle.


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GST rollout may make new homes cheaper

Is it a good time to buy a house? This is the perennial question on the minds of homebuyers. But this question assumes significance as India moves to a new indirect tax regime, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from July 1.

Experts say that buyers will benefit if they buy houses in projects launched post July 1. Though a 4.5% service tax is being replaced by a 12% GST, the advantage is that a number of hidden and cascading taxes will be removed under the new regime. Developers will also get several tax credits under GST, which experts believe will make projects launched post July 1 comparatively cheaper.

Value Added Tax and sales tax are not reflected on the invoice in most states when a consumer buys a house, but are added to the cost.

“The heavily taxed real estate sector welcomes a single stable 12% GST rate, inclusive of the value of land and with full input tax credits,” said Rajeev Talwar, CEO, DLF and chairman of National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO).

But these tax credits will not be applicable to projects that are under-construction, nearing completion or ones that are ready.

To allay fears over whether developers will pass on the tax credit benefits to consumers, the government has proposed antiprofiteering measures.

Many developers are offering pre-GST discounts but experts warn against them as they are allegedly ways for builders to collect money and clear dues. Reducing inventory through deep discounts is also a motivation for developers.

Builders in Noida and Greater Noida are advising existing buyers to clear their remaining property dues before July 1 to avoid a 12% GST and pay 4.6% service tax, instead.

Experts warn against such claims.

“The government has introduced anti-profiteering clauses to ensure the input tax credits that builders claim will be passed on to buyers of houses who get possession after July 1. The expectation is that the builders will extend a discount on the amount due from buyers to protect them against a 12% GST,” said Amit Bhagat, partner, indirect taxes, PwC India.

But experts and developers are divided on the impact that GST will have on the real estate sector.

“Confusion persists over the impact of GST on different segments of housing such as luxury and affordable. But we are working closely with the government and are hopeful that initial hiccups are dealt with once GST is implemented,” said Manoj Gaur, MD, Gaursons and vice-president of CREDAI (National). The 5-8% stamp duty charged during registration of a house will continue to be levied under GST, but developers want clarity on it.


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NEWDELHI: Students and working professionals will soon be able to obtain a degree online and it will be recognised by higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission. The human resource development ministry has decided to allow universities to offer such degrees and is drafting rules, official sources told a leading newspaper.

Once the rules are in place, institutes will be able to offer online degrees in all fields, except engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture and physiotherapy.

At present, the commission does not recognise any course offered solely through the online mode. A student can get a degree by enrolling in a university and attending classes or through a distance-learning module. From this year, the government has allowed universities to offer 20% of their course material through the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) platform called Swayam. But if a student gets a degree through any online course, it’s not recognised. A number of private universities offer online degrees but not many students opt for them as they are not recognised by the UGC.


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St. Stephen’s cuts off those with less than 98.5% from BA English course

NEW DELHI: Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College announced on Wednesday the marks students need to qualify for its undergraduate courses, declaring cut-offs that were similar to or lower than last year’s levels in all courses except Economic (honours).

St Stephen’s is one of DU’s marquee colleges and sources from the college said the institution consciously kept lower cutoffs to give a chance to more students to appear for the interview.

The dip in this year’s cut-off ranges from 0.25-10 percentage points.

The highest cut-off was for the English (hons) and Economics (hons) courses at 98.5%. The cutoff for English (hons) this year is 0.5 percentage points down from last year’s 99% but for Economics (hons) it is 0.3 percentage points up from last year’s 98.2%. These cut-offs are for students from the commerce stream.


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Left likely to push for Gandhi grandson in presidential poll

NEW DELHI: Former diplomat Gopal Krishna Gandhi could be the potential opposition candidate for the July 17 presidential election with Left parties pushing for Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson for the country’s highest post, multiple sources told a leading newspaper on Wednesday.

The government, however, is trying to build consensus for its own candidate and two Union ministers, Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu, are expected to meet Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday, BJP sources said. They will hold a separate meeting with CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.

India’s presidential election involves a complex voting pattern involving all parliamentarians and state legislators.

The NDA needs around 20,000 more votes to ensure victory of its candidate and reaching out to the opposition is seen as an exercise to test if there could be a consensus and ensure a greater margin of victory.

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