PM Modi to visit UAE to boost ties


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Dubai, Feb 5, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit the UAE later this week which authorities and business leaders say signifies the special importance India attaches to its ties with the oil-rich nation and will help in furthering cooperation in diplomatic, economic and security issues.

Modi will be in the UAE on February 10 and 11 and will address the sixth World Government Summit in Dubai.

This will be Modi’s second visit to the UAE. He first visited the country in August 2015.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi s second visit to UAE is an indication of the special importance we attach to the India- UAE relationship,” India’s Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri said.

According to him, the visit builds on the momentum that has developed since India hosted Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed as chief guest on Republic Day in 2017.

Besides bilateral engagements, Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to address members of the Indian community at the Dubai Opera House.

“During the year, we have seen major UAE investments into India, a significant increase in defense and security cooperation, a transformation in our energy ties from a buyer-seller relationship to a strategic partnership.

“For the community, the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi will be great news,” Suri said.

Echoing Suri s sentiments, the UAE ambassador to India Ahmed Al-Banna said the visit “tells us the direction that India and the UAE have in mind and also the characteristics of our respective leaderships.”

“The leadership has put us on a challenging and interesting track where the relationship is very important, on many sectors, and our leaders are pushing to rewrite future plans for both nations,” Al-Banna said.

While Ambassador Suri highlighted the trade and investment component of this rapidly-evolving relationship, Ambassador Al-Banna chose to emphasize on the connectivity aspect of it.

“There are 1,076 flights a week between India and the UAE, which is the largest operation of its kind. More than 50 percent of Indians, who travel outside India to different destinations, such as Europe or America, use Dubai and Abu Dhabi as their transit hub,” he said.

It is obvious that both sides are banking on prime minister’s visit to go over and above the 17 bilateral agreements signed in January 2016, and 14 agreements in February 2017.

With an eye on India, some leading Gulf businesses with Indians at the helm see this as a realisation of long-held dreams.

Yusuffali MA, chairman Lulu Group International and member of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, said India had been on an aggressive forward march with regard to attracting FDI.

“The recent report by leading rating agencies and financial institutions have all lauded India s fiscal policies and ease of doing business, so obviously India does look like a hot destination for investment. As far Indo-UAE business relationship is concerned, it is at all time high with both countries being each other’s top trading partner,” Yusuffali said.

According to him, till recently India was seen as an investment destination only, but of late UAE has been trying to woo Indian businesses to invest and set up operations here.

“This move shows the kind of confidence UAE has on Indian economy and I am sure business houses in both countries will be eagerly looking forward to this visit to open up new areas of co-operation,” Yusuffali said.

Manoj Prasad, Executive Chairman, of DIFC-based investment banking firm, Que Capital Limited, believes this visit truly signifies the seriousness among top Indian leadership toward making an ever growing relationship between two countries more meaningful.

“The ambition is obviously growth to which both countries have already started contributing, be it through India investing in infrastructure or the bilateral investment fund which is in the process of being set up,” says Prasad.

According to him, businesses among the two countries have witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years.

“The comfort and mutual respect for leaders of both the countries are clearly visible and the visit of Prime Minister Modi to the land with highest NRI diaspora in the world would further enhance it,” he said.

A wide spectrum of companies stands to gain from improving bilateral relations facilitating business climate on both sides, he said.

Kulwant Singh, the founder and managing director of Lama Hospitality group, feels the visit signifies that we are serious about our relationship and take our commitments, business associations, joint opportunities, and strategic tie-ups seriously.

“We see the formula of successful businesses matching with the perfect platform of opportunities available in India.

With the new budget in place, NRIs will have huge opportunities in sectors like healthcare, education, and infrastructure,” Singh told PTI.

Prasanth Manghat, CEO, and Executive Director, NMC Health Plc, says the visit will not only develop his outreach to the Arab world but also offer a prospect to further the strategic partnerships in the region.

According to him, the visit is seen by many as cementing the close relationship Modi shares with the UAE leadership, also furthering cooperation in diplomatic, economic and security issues.

“At the ground level of delivery, the strategic partnership is being expanded and the UAE has announced plans to invest USD 75 billion over a decade to meet India s infrastructure needs,” he said.

Indian expatriates in the UAE actively participate in projects toward the development of the UAE and this visit will help further evolve the deep and historic relationship shared between the two countries, said Mehirr Nath Chopra, CEO Qasbah Group.

“It would certainly help to get an overview of the projects that have been announced in the past and their current status so serious players can set their timelines accordingly,” Chopra said.


Govt plans to build rice silos in main growing state


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New Delhi, Feb 5, 2018
The government will construct high-tech silos for storage of rice in producing states once the technology for the same is fully ready, a senior Food Ministry official said today.

At present, pilot projects for rice silos have been undertaken by state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) at Kaimur and Buxar in Bihar to test the technology.

The West Bengal government has evinced interest in the construction of rising silos when the technology for the same is finalized, the official said.

Once the technology is established, the central government would like to construct in West Bengal and other rice-producing states, the official added.

The official further said the construction of silos for wheat is underway. The FCI has awarded contracts to operators for construction of wheat silos with a capacity of 2.5 lakh tonnes at six places in Punjab, Delhi, Bihar, Assam, and Karnataka.

A storage capacity of 25,000 tonnes at Kotkapura in Punjab has been completed in 2017-18 while construction work is in progress in the remaining locations.

Further, Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) has also initiated construction of silos of 50,000 tonnes capacity at Nabha in Punjab.

Punjab has also planned to construct silos of 17 lakh tonnes capacity, of which work for 1.5-lakh-tonne capacity is completed while construction of another 15.5 lakh tonnes by the state agency is underway, the official added.


Unevenness in taxes paid by salaried class, biz people: Adhia


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There is “unevenness” in the taxes paid by the salaried class and business people, as 50 percent of the 7 lakh companies which file I-T returns show zero or negative income, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said today.

The government, he said, is working on removing the “unevenness in the tax paid by different classes of people” by using the foolproof technological system.

He said the taxpayer base has gone up after the GST rollout as well as demonetization and there has been a concerted effort to make India a tax compliance society.

E-way bill and invoice matching in the new indirect tax regime will help curb evasion, he added.

Speaking at the CII post-Budget meet, Adhia said: “In the personal income tax (category), the salaried ones are paying more compared to business people.”

For the assessment year 2016-17, 1.89 crore salaried individuals have filed I-T returns and paid a total tax of Rs 1.44 lakh crore, which works out to an average tax payment of Rs 76,306 per individual salaried taxpayer.

As against this, 1.88 crore individual business taxpayers, including professionals, have paid a total tax of Rs 48,000 crore which works out to an average tax payment of Rs 25,753 per individual business taxpayer.

The department’s number of effective taxpayer base has increased from 6.47 crore at the beginning of April 2014 to 8.27 crore at the end of March 2017.

“GST has a very promising future… Honesty will get a premium in Goods and Services Tax,” Adhia said.

With regard to demands for reduction in the corporate tax rate, he said that globally the revenue mop-up from personal income tax is much higher compared to corporate income tax.

“…While in India the personal income tax collection has to go up. Once that goes up then we will have some more scope,” he said.

In the 2015-16 Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced that the corporate tax rate would be gradually lowered to 25 percent from current 30 percent over the next four years.

Over the last three years, the government has announced a reduction of taxes in a phased manner for various categories of corporates and currently only 7,000 corporate houses are still in the 30 per cent slab.

In Union Budget 2018-19, Jaitley proposed to lower corporate tax rate to 25 percent for businesses with a turnover of up to Rs 250 crore.

With regard to notices sent to individuals for high-value deposits in banks post demonetization in November 2016, Adhia some of these people have filed their returns showing “very very small income”, while most of them have not filed I-T returns.

“Those notices will be taken to their logical conclusion in next 2-3 years… So the inflow of more taxes will continue next year also and maybe the year after,” Adhia said, adding that the department has been “very conservative” while projecting tax revenue for next fiscal.





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