No tax for NRIs who buy overseas tour packages: India

News Network
April 1, 2022

New Delhi, Apr 1: The Indian government has ruled that domestic tour operators do not have to collect tax on the sale of overseas tour packages for NRIs.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has relaxed the provision of tax collected at source of five per cent under the Income Tax act.

The CBDT said domestic tour operators claimed they faced difficulties in collecting tax from NRIs visiting India, who had bought overseas packages from them.

“Since such persons may not have a PAN (Permanent Account Number) card, tax is required to be collected at higher rates,” said a CBDT release. “Further, such non-residents may find it difficult to furnish their ITR and claim refunds.”

The move has been welcomed by many people involved with NRI-related taxation issues.

“The purpose was to collect information and monitor tax compliances of high spending individuals,” Neeraj Agarwala, partner, Nangia Andersen LLP, told a newspaper.

“However, the way the provisions were drafted, tour operators were even required to collect taxes from non-residents, who are otherwise not taxable in India, at the time of booking their return tickets from India.”

The five per cent tax was introduced in April 2020. However, the tour operators complained to the government about the difficulties they experienced and how they could not collect the tax from NRIs who did not have PAN/Aadhaar cards and could not claim tax refunds.

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News Network
May 10,2022

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Mohali, May 10: A rocket-propelled grenade hit the Intelligence Wing headquarters of Punjab Police in Mohali last night, shattering windowpanes on one of the floors of the building, police said. No one, however, was injured in the explosion, which political parties termed "disturbing" and "shocking". The explosion took place at around 7.45 pm at the office located at sector 77 in Mohali.

The windowpanes on one of the floors of the building were shattered because of the explosion. “A minor explosion was reported at the Punjab Police Intelligence Headquarters in sector 77, SAS Nagar at around 7.45 PM. No damage has been reported. Senior officers are on the spot and an investigation is being done. Forensic teams have been called,” the Mohali police said in a statement.

The police have cordoned off the area and an alert has been sounded. A police official told reporters that there was no casualty in the incident. “A minor blast took place at the intelligence building. The investigation is going on and our senior officials are on the spot,” the police official said. “The blast took place with a rocket type fire. There is no casualty,” said the official. He further said the forensic teams have also reached the spot. He said an FIR was being lodged over the incident. Asked if it was a terror attack, he said the investigation was going on.

A quick reaction team of the Chandigarh police was also deputed near the Intelligence office building. Senior officials of the Punjab police have reached the spot. Police said a search operation has been launched to nab the culprit. The explosion came close on the heels of the recovery of an explosive device near Burail Jail in Chandigarh on April 24.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh expressed shock over the explosion and urged Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann to take strict action against those who were behind this incident. “ Shocked to hear about the blast at the @PunjabPoliceInd Intelligence headquarter in Mohali. Thankfully nobody was hurt. This brazen attack on our police force is deeply concerning and I urge CM @BhagwantMann to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice at the earliest,” said Singh in a tweet.

Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring said, “Disturbing news of a blast at the @PunjabPoliceInd intelligence bureau building in Mohali. Praying for everyone's safety and well-being.”

Former Punjab Home Minister and Congress MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa dubbed the explosion as a “sign of deep communalism”. “The bomb blast in Mohali is a sign of deep communalism. I strongly condemn this incident and urge the @PunjabPoliceInd to investigate and take stern action against those who are intent on disturbing the peace of Punjab,” said Randhawa who is also a legislator from Dera Baba Nanak.

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said he was deeply shocked at the blast. “Deeply shocked at the blast at Punjab Police's Intelligence Bureau HQs, Mohali, exposing serious security lapses and highlighting once again the deteriorating law & order situation in Punjab. Thorough probe required to expose & punish those responsible,” said Badal in a tweet. 

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News Network
May 12,2022

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Colombo, May 12: Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka's prime minister for the sixth time on Thursday, though the veteran politician has never completed a full term in office.

The 73-year-old's political career appeared to be drawing to a close before this week, when he agreed to helm a unity administration and help steer the South Asian island nation through a crippling economic crisis.

"This is a historic event," Tamil legislator Dharmalingam Sithadthan told AFP in reference to Wickremesinghe's latest return to the top office.

"This shows the desperate situation in our country."

Wickremesinghe is the sole parliamentary representative of the United National Party, a once-powerful political force that was nearly wiped out in Sri Lanka's last elections.

The former lawyer hails from a political family and his uncle Junius Jayewardene served as president for more than a decade.

But Wickremesinghe once told AFP he would have likely pursued a career as a journalist, had the government of the day not nationalised his family's newspaper business in 1973.

He was first appointed premier in 1993 after the assassination of then-president Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was killed in a bomb attack by Tamil Tiger guerrillas during Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war.

Underscoring the dynastic nature of Sri Lanka's politics, Premadasa's son Sajith is the current opposition leader and had also been touted as a possible prime ministerial candidate this week.

Wickremesinghe's first term in office lasted little more than a year.

He returned to power in 2001, earning a reputation for sound economic management after steering the country out of recession.

Conflict with the president saw him sacked before his term was over, and he spent the next decade in the political wilderness.

Wickremasinghe lost two presidential contests and led his party to a string of election defeats, prompting even his own supporters to dub him a "record loser".

He was nonetheless sworn in as prime minister again in 2015 after the election defeat of president Mahinda Rajapaksa after the opposition rallied behind him as a unity candidate against the authoritarian leader.

His "Mr Clean" image was muddied later that year when his administration was rocked by an insider trading scam involving central bank bonds.

A key accused in the multi-million dollar scam was the central bank chief at the time, Arjuna Mahendran, who was Wickremesinghe's schoolmate and choice for the job.

He was accused of cronyism during his tenure and failing to prosecute members of the previous Rajapaksa regime, members of which had been accused of graft, kickbacks and siphoning off public finances.

Political conflict with the powerful Rajapaksa family also threw the country into crisis in 2018, with Mahinda taking over the premiership for six weeks before the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional.

Wickremesinghe returns to office to replace Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned on Monday after his supporters attacked anti-government demonstrators, and later had to be rescued from his residence by the military.

He will serve at the pleasure of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Mahinda's younger brother, who has fought off calls for his own resignation over the government's mismanagement of the economic crisis.

Wickremesinghe will be taking charge of a bankrupt nation in default of its $51-billion foreign debt and without money to import essential goods.

His status as a pro-West, free-market reformist could smooth bailout negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and foreign creditors.

But he has already warned there will be no quick fix to the nation's unprecedented economic woes.

"The worst is yet to come. We have very high inflation now and hyperinflation is on its way," Wickremesinghe told parliament last week.

"We should start addressing the issues now, we can't put it off any longer," he added. 

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News Network
May 10,2022

Bengaluru, May 10: In the wake of the Azaan versus Hanuman Chalisa row in Karnataka, the state government has issued a set of directions on the use of loudspeakers and to remove them if they were not authorised by the 'designated authority.'

The note issued by the state Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar to the Additional Chief Secretary Jawaid Akhtar said Forest, Ecology and Environment Department also defined the 'designated authority.'

The development comes following a row from Monday morning on this issue with some Hindu groups, mainly Sriram Sena, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Janajagruthi Samithi organising Bhajan-Keertan from pre-dawn to counter Azaan from mosques.

As the row aggravated, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held a meeting on Monday, following which the Chief Secretary issued a note to Akhtar. Citing the Supreme Court ruling dated July 18, 2005, and October 28, 2005, regarding the implementation of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, the Chief Secretary said loudspeakers or the Public Address System should not be used except after obtaining permission from the designated authority. Rule 5 (2) of the NPRC Rules bars the use of loudspeaker or public address system or any sound-producing instrument at night time except in closed premises, subject to other conditions, the note said.

"All users of loudspeakers or public address system shall obtain written permission from the designated authority within 15 days. Those who don't obtain should voluntarily remove or should be removed by the designated authority," Kumar said in his note.

He also directed that a committee should be formed at different levels to decide on the application of loudspeaker or public address systems. In police commissioner areas, the committee will comprise an assistant commissioner of police, a jurisdictional executive engineer of the city corporation and a representative of the state pollution control board. In other areas, deputy superintendents of police, the jurisdictional Tehsildar and a representative of the state pollution control board.

"This is applicable to all premises which are using loudspeakers and public address system. Necessary government orders or directions shall be issued to all concerned to implement this with IMMEDIATE effect," the note read.

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