Tax Exemption Limit to Raise to Rs. 3 Lacs?

NEW DELHI: Hiking the exemption slab for personal income tax from Rs 1.8 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, indexing rates to inflation and freeing assesses with up to Rs 5 lakh annual income from the burden of filing returns are among the recommendations being considered by Parliament’s standing committee on finance.

The draft report of the committee on UPA-2’s ambitious Direct Tax Code is expected to suggest several amendments including linking tax slabs to consumer price indexes to allow an automatic adjustment of rates.

The proposal to index tax rates to inflation can do away with the need to mention tax rates, even if they are unchanged, in the budget statement made by the finance minister every year.

Tax rates the committee is expected to propose are 10% for the slab of Rs 3 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, 20% for upto Rs 20 lakh and 30% beyond that. Three crore assesses will stand to benefit from not having to file returns if the committee’s view of a Rs 5 lakh ceiling is accepted.

There are several recommendations the committee is expected to consider at its meeting on Friday and while the panel headed by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha is not rejecting the DTC bill, it hopes the government is receptive to its suggestions.

The DTC is an important UPA-2 reform backed strongly by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and will test the government’s preparedness to build bridges with the opposition on important legislation. BJP will find it hard to be obstructionist but can bargain hard as it did over the pension bill where Mukherjee accepted its insistence on an assured rate of return option.

With the budget session approaching, the government has been keen to push ahead with reforms that have been hit either by slow decision-making, internal opposition in the UPA or repeated showdowns with the main opposition BJP that led to blockades in Parliament.

The committee has also considered changes in assessment of property taxes by mooting parameters for commercial and non-commercial use. The amendments proposed are intended to reduce the burden on the non-commercial category while also rationalizing procedures and assessment parameters.

Changes in tax benefits for life insurance products are also being considered by the panel with benefits being enhanced in comparison to the bill’s proposals. The DTC’s proposals on limiting deductions to premiums that do not exceed a certain percentage of the sum assured may be reviewed as well.

Cheers : Panel proposes cab signalling system in railways

Panel proposes cab signalling system in railways

PTI  New Delhi, Feb 8:

A cab signalling system similar to the European Train Control System and conversion of mechanical system to electronic interlocking in about 5,000 stations are among the measures proposed by the Sam Pitroda committee on modernisation of railways. Constituted by the Railway Minister, Mr Dinesh Trivedi, in September last year, the committee headed by Mr Pitroda, is likely to submit its report next week recommending massive upgradation of signalling, tracks, rolling stock, stations and terminals at an estimated cost of over Rs 50,000 crore over the next five years.

Cab signalling system, the most advanced system prevalent in Europe, enables the loco pilot to see the incoming signal in his cabin. Besides, the panel has sought to expedite the installation of Train Protection Warning System on busy lines to prevent accidents. The other members of the expert committee include Mr Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC Bank; Mr M.S. Verma, former Chairman, SBI; Professor Raghuram, IIM-Ahmedabad; Dr Rajiv Lal, MD, IDFC, and Mr Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman, Feedback, Infrastructure Services.

The panel has suggested Rs 10,000 crore for investment in infrastructure in the next fiscal coinciding with the 12th Five-Year Plan. Mr Trivedi has maintained that the existing infrastructure in railways has outlived its utility and there is a strong need for upgradation. “The present railway system has outlived its utility. We are in some kind of Victorian age as far as the railways are concerned. Signalling is archaic. We have to take a big leap to embark upon a new generation,” he had said. Modern signalling technologies.

The Pitroda panel has recommended modern signalling technologies for maximising track utilisation and high speed operations with safety. Acknowledging the prevailing condition, the expert group has recommended that there is a need for the government to spend Rs 5.6 lakh crore to modernise the railways. The 12th Five-Year Plan has already estimated an outlay of Rs 1.83 lakh crore. PPP inititatives

Addressing issues relating to public-private partnership, the panel has estimated a total investment of Rs 358,315 crore for PPP initiatives, out of which Rs 302,315 crore would be invested by private players. Setting up of locomotive plants, dedicated freight corridors, modernisation of stations and port connectivity are some major PPP projects of railways. Since the railways is facing a financial crisis, PPP projects play a crucial role to attract private players. The panel has also envisaged energy saving projects through PPP ventures. Keywords: Railways, cab signalling system, European Train Control System, Train Protection Warning System, Sam Pitroda committee.