Monthly Archives: August 2013

Hyderabad Marathon – beast that refused to go away!!

 

Hyderabad Marathon is quite literally a beast of a marathon. Though it is a city marathon in Hyderabad which is almost a metropolitan city of India with its IT companies, nice roads, cosmopolitan population, etc. it is still a very tough marathon. The toughness of the Hyderabad Marathon lies in its unending inclines that dot almost the entire route for a full marathon.

The full marathon started at 5.00 a.m. near the Hussain Sagar Lake and for the first 9 kilometres the route winded around the picturesque lake. The humidity levels were very high in the early morning and with very poor visibility (the street lights were off at various places). The runners were running in dark, dank, deserted roads for the first 9 kms. The route returns to the starting point by which time the half marathoners were getting ready for their start at 6.00 a.m.

The first of the inclines started at little after 9 kms and it was a pretty decent incline. I was running quite strong at this stage having gone ahead of the 4.30 hour bus. I must say i became irritated with the pacers shouting “5 kms gone, 37 to go” and so on at every km. Why let everybody know you have to run for another 35+ kms. The kilometres markers were prominently displayed by the organizers at every kilometre and it was clearly visible to all. So there was no need to shout the passing of each kilometre. Damn!!

By the time we hit the first flyover, the half marathoners had joined us and from a few runners, it became almost like a flood of runners on the road. The infectious spirit of runners spread like wildfire to all the runners. By this time, it became apparent that there was no crowd support, no music, no band at all being played along the route. Marathon running is a sport just like any other so the participants need cheering from the crowds just like in any other sport. Crowd support lifts their spirit tremendously and gives them a positive energy to tackle the tough portions of the race. Imagine a cricket or a football match being played to an empty gallery – after sometime the players’ energy goes down and their spirits start sagging. Mumbai Marathon has tremendous crowd support when the Mumbaikars come out in droves to support the runners even at unearthly hours that the event takes place. Vasai Virar Marathon which took place on October 14th, last year was the best event i have run so far which had the maximum crowd mobilisation. The organisers need to include some residential areas in the route so that the people staying indoors on a Sunday morning are spurred to come out and support the participants. The Hyderabad Marathon route passed mainly through commercial and business district which is closed on a Sunday morning so it was desultory and boring to run in such places.

However by 14th kilometre my spirits had sagged so much that i thought of quitting the race and finishing at half marathon. I was sure that i could easily run the half marathon. DNF (Did Not Finish) thoughts started coming to my brain. Negative thoughts started permeating the mind. But then i thought i had a 5 hour window to be on my feet, so forget about pacing, racing, strategy et al. Why not just remain on my feet and take it further from the 5 hour window. I was sure that i would have completed at least 35 kilometres by then and with only 7 odd kilometres to go, i was confident of finishing.

The half marathoners were with us until the 27th kilometre which helped a lot, because of the multitude of runners in that distance which was throwing off positive energy to all. At around this time, i ran into Gauri Jayaram a good friend who has recently written a book about her life. About 27.5 kilometres we turn left to tackle the remaining 15 kilometres and suddenly from a multitude of runners you have only a few runners on the route. Gauri Jayaram wished me well at the turn off point for half marathoners which worked wonders for my flagging spirit.

The route continued with its undulating inclines all the way through. At 31 kilometres i ran into Ashish Shah who promptly sprang out of nowhere to click a picture of mine a la titanic style.

Image

From here onwards the route leaves the city and enters a semi village but unfortunately the landscape was desultory. At around 35 kilometres, the route enters the Hyderabad University campus which had some greenery around and resembled much like our own IIT Mumbai campus.

The Hyderabad Runners had organised water and medical stations at every 2 kilometres and at each water station, Gatorade was also available besides some eats like bananas, biscuits etc. The volunteers at each of these stations were very helpful and kind and also cheerful in spirit. Also there were stray volunteers on the road and on bicycle gently enquiring after struggling runners. It was nice gesture on their part. For my part, i had decided to experiment with dates and so was having one date every 5 kilometres right from the start. I had two extra pouches of Gatorade which i used at 25th and 35th kilometres respectively.

At around 40 kilometres we leave the University campus and return to another long road which culminated in the entry to the Gadchibowli stadium, a state of the art stadium in Hyderabad, for the final 1.25 kms. By this time i was sure of finishing around 5.30 hours. I had thought i would come around 5.15 hours so the final finishing was not very much off my target. If i had not lingered at each water station to pour water on my neck, and taken so many walking breaks, probably i could have staved off another 10 minutes from my final finishing time which was 5.34.40 hours.

So from a possible DNF early on I somehow managed to finish this beast of a marathon, my 5th ever full marathon. When i was fighting the demons while running i had determined that i will never ever run a full marathon again. Now i am eyeing another full marathon soon!! That is Life, that is Running!!

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Decider by Dick Francis

Decided to read “Decider” by Dick Francis, my first one by him. Lee Morris is an architect/ builder especially of ruins, has a large family of wife and 6 kids but is not very closely connected to his family from his mother’s side i.e. the Stratton family. The family owns a race course and after the death of the patriarch there is a dispute in the family with one segment wanting to sell off the race course and divide the gains between the family members and others wanting to retain the race course but wanting to modernise it. Lee gets drawn inexorably into his family affairs when he is prevailed upon to attend a shareholders’ meeting and comes to know a lot about the various misdeeds, crooks, skeletons in the family cupboard. It is a fast racy thriller with never a dull moment in it. Rating 4/5

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Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

This is a brilliant book dealing with the love of fathers towards their sons. Arcady and Bazarov return to Arcady’s father’s house in rural hinterland of mid-19th century. They are idealistic and have developed a nihilistic approach in life where Arcady is in awe of Bazarov. Arcady’s father Nicholas and Paul are old timers who have modernised by freeing serfs and Nicholas loves his son but is upset when both Arcady and Bazarov decide to leave their home to go to a neighbour where they visit Anna Sergeyevna who is a widow where surprisingly Bazarov falls madly in love with Anna who is older to him and Arcady has a crush on Anna but slowly moves towards Katya, Anna’s sister. Falling in love was like an anathema to Bazarov due to his nihilistic leanings, so both of them come back to Arcady’s house. In between Bazarov visits his old parents Vassily Ivanich and Arina Vlassyevna his father and mother. His parents are old and they are deliriously excited to have Bazarov back and shower him with blessings and love which Bazarov likes in the beginning but starts detesting later on, again his nihilistic leanings throwing him against his own parents. The interplay between Bazarov and his parents and their emotions which Bazarov so cruelly crushes is where “Fathers and Sons” achieves greatness. Turgenev has written beautifully and movingly and it would be difficult not to get emotionally involved in this father-son interlude. Love of a father towards his offspring is greater than any idealism that this world produces in mid-19th century or even now in the early 21st century and this is what makes Turgenev’s book timeless. “He has abandoned us, he has abandoned us” quivered Vassily Ivanich when Bazarov leaves his home  – this was an absolutely gut wrenching part of the book. After Anna rejects his love due to her strong independence, Bazarov returns to Arcady’s house and falls in love again with Nicholas’s young mistress whom he kisses which is seen by Paul who detests Bazarov for his arrogance and his anti-authority views. Bazarov is forced to leave Arcady’s house due to a gun duel with Paul. What happens to Bazarov, Arcady and their old parents – this book is highly recommended – a Russian classic – my rating 5/5

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The Chamber by John Grisham

“The Chamber” by John Grisham, is a searing portrayal of an aging Ku Klux Klan convict on the death row, his agonies, his cleansing, his relationship with his family, in a slow and deliberate manner that wrenches your guts away. While there is sufficient legalese in the book, it is the morbidity that hits you as a reader. Undoubtedly, one of Grisham’s best.

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Online frauds in India and Banks’ Negligence

Just little more than a month ago, I received a SMS on my mobile phone warning me of a transaction for USD 85 on Amazon.com. Immediately the same day and within minutes i had sent a mail to the bank whose credit card i was having to block the said transaction and also block my credit card in order to obviate any further transactions. The bank, a leading private sector bank with otherwise impeccable credentials, simply slept on the matter. Alarmed I reminded them by the evening of the fraud that had taking place on my credit card and asking them to do something about it. None. Nope. No reply. By night I was desperate and therefore marked a copy of my mail to the managing director of the famous bank, but again NYET, no reply from them. Then I got wildly desperate and started banging them to respond. In the meanwhile i called their toll free IVRS number and after about 30 minutes was directed to talk to an inexperienced, immature, callous call centre guy who did not understand what the matter was about and kept repeating the instructions placed on his computer screen. Then i shouted BLOCK MY CREDIT CARD, he sufficiently fearful now, sent his problem upwards and finally after about one hour of conversation, got the credit card blocked. Phew!! 

The next day after much banging again, the bank responded by saying that they are giving me temporary credit on my credit card to the extent that was already debited and will look into the problem (typical red tape language). I told them that if they had acted with alacrity then the transaction could have been blocked and the items not shipped at all, if at all they were shipped, because it could have been easily verified that the transaction was not made from my IP address. Dumb, really dumb bankers!!

Which now leads me to a big question – that of increasing frequency of online frauds taking place in India very rampantly these days. These frauds range from skimming the ATM scanner so that when you swipe your ATM or debit card on the machine someone is able to make a duplicate card on the basis of information gathered therein and make fraudulent transactions worth thousands of rupees from customers’ accounts. 

Very recently i had visited my regular ATM from where i take the money. I saw that the ATM was not having any security at all, there were no uniformed, armed security guards at the ATM entrance or anywhere nearby. Most of the times the ATM doors are also freely open with the result that anybody can enter the ATM booth and install skimming machines or equipments without anybody noticing it. No doubt there are CCTV cameras installed but considering the apathy with which government servants do their job (this was a government owned nationalised banks’ ATM) it could be days or months before anyone notices the lapse, if at all anyone notices it. 

This is a pathetic state of affairs and I don’t understand what the RBI or other banks are doing about it. 

Customers withdrawing monies from ATM are at a big risk because banks are least bothered to do even minimum required to protect them from online frauds. I believe only when a politician or his kin loses money will the government or the RBI or the banks act in this regard. 

In the meanwhile the common man has to recite thousands of prayers every time he enters an ATM kiosk to do any transaction. Jai Ho India

 

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Chembur Freedom Race 5.5K

A friend had posted about a 6 kms run in Chembur, supported by his buddies from the future sports foundation. Chembur was my residence for 15 years from the late 70s to the early 90s, so could’nt say no to this opportunity to visit my past home town. Chembur is quite a popular suburb in Mumbai though it is also known as Gas Chamber due to the presence of refineries there. But the place had its own allure, its own little alleys, little hang out places, shops from which we regularly bought something or shops through which we regularly browsed without buying anything. 

This event was to take place on 15th August, which was the Independence day for India, so a public holiday for people except those working in call centres, BPOs and retail malls besides of course the emergency and conservancy staff.  But for all others it was a chance to sleep a little longer. But for runners a holiday, any holiday is an excuse to go for running, sometimes planning long runs or hill workouts or sometimes without planning races like the one which was called Freedom Race, an apt title for whatever it meant. 

The race had about 500 people crammed in a little alley near the chembur gymkhana, where i had once attended a wedding of a college friend, the last of the college friends whom i remember. Chembur had road names which were numerical like 11th road, 14th road etc. which thankfully so far no politician or his brethren has tried to change to their forefathers’ names or perhaps tried and not succeeded. Just behind these number roads was an old middle class colony called Subhash Nagar, typically three floor buildings with a small ground in the front for playing and socialising activities. A spate of redevelopment in Bombay has changed the entire facade of these middle class colonies prime example being in Tilak Nagar in Chembur West which was where i had started my running way back in those days in college, i think. 

Anyway coming back to the race itself, it started i think somewhere around 7.10 a.m. and winded down one alley after another in Chembur some of which i failed to recognise due to my absence from the area for close to two decades and also due to lot of infrastructure work being carried out there like flyovers etc. The aforesaid subhash nagar was unrecognisable. I think somewhere the route touched govandi, a neighbour suburb of bombay though i am not entirely sure of that. 

To cut to the chase, the race was just an excuse to go back to one’s roots so to speak, revisit old places, revive old memories and also to meet lot of friends from the running community. Lots of enthusiastic young kids and their equally enthusiastic parents. 5.5 kms race finished in 29.05 minutes. 

How i wish each suburb of Bombay has its own race. 

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Three wins, three styles

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0jkdBRM6K4

Mo Farah wins in 10,000 metres at the IAAF World Athletic Championships in Moscow. He remains in the background even running last in his first lap and then surging to the front at least three times once with Galen Rupp in tow. The Kenyans also do a bit of surging to the front for which they are famous. Mo Farah is like taunting the Kenyans by replicating their strategy and with a kind of dare devilry unheard of in long distance running, while the Ethiopians as always are all the time tucked in behind the front runners. Not for them is the surging tactic by the Kenyans and now the Somalian turned Briton.

Contrast this with the win of Tirunesh Dibaba in the women’s 10,000 metres at the same meet. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-mQZLLw_7I 

This video shows here she is tucked behind the Japanese runner all through the distance except in the beginning when Shane Flanagan went up front and disappeared soon behind. Beautiful tactic by Dibaba to sit comfortably behind the leader who was doing a 74 second lap, which was comfortable for the Ethiopians. Her last lap kick was reminiscent of what Miruts Yifter did to his fellow runners at the same distance i.e. 10,000 metres at Moscow Olympics 1980.  Watch Yifter the Shifter in this video with his devastating last lap. 

Edna Kiplagat on the other hand bravely played the waiting game in the women’s marathon tucking behind Valentina Straneo for most of the distance except in the start when she took her time to pick up pace. She timed her kick to perfection by delaying it to the 40th km mark a very impressive move considering the humid and hot conditions in the afternoon at Moscow. One feels sorry for Straneo for bravely leading the race throughout but she still got her silver medal whereas the Japanese runner who was leading in the 10,000 metres throughout did not get any podium finish. 

Three wins by Long Distance Heroes in three contrasting styles. 

 

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Overseas Direct Investments

http://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=8305&Mode=0

RBI has reduced the limits for Overseas Direct Investments (ODIs). Hitherto Indian companies were allowed to invest upto 400% of its net worth as ODIs on automatic route. The networth was to be calculated as per its last audited balance sheet. Now the limits have been reduced to 100% of its net worth as per its last audited balance sheet on automatic basis. Any investments above the 100% of net worth will be on approval basis. Therefore there is not a complete ban on overseas investments. 

This reduction in limit from 400% to 100% is also applicable to ODIs in unincorporated entities in the energy and natural gas sectors.

However this reduction in limits is not applicable to overseas investments by navratna public sector undertakings like ONGC Videsh, OIL India in both unincorporated as well incorporated entities on automatic route without any limits whatsoever. 

These provisions will apply with immediate effect to all overseas direct investments on a prospective basis which means that existing overseas direct investments will not be hit by the reduction in limits. 

 

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Liberalised Remittance Scheme for Resident Individuals

http://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=8306&Mode=0

RBI has reduced the amount that resident individuals could have remitted abroad for the purpose of any permitted transactions from USD 200,000 per financial year to USD 75,000 per financial year. The amount was to be used for any permitted current or capital account transactions or a combination of both. 

Further this Scheme will not allow for acquisition of immoveable property abroad, whether directly or indirectly or for any prohibited or illegal activities such as margin money trading, lottery etc. 

This limit of USD 75,000 per financial year is also applicable for gifts by resident Indians to NRI close relatives and loans by residents to NRI close relatives. 

Upto now overseas direct investment was allowed only to corporates. But now even resident individuals are allowed to invest abroad upto the said limit of USD 75,000 per financial year in bonafide business activities. So they can set up Joint ventures or wholly owned subsidiaries abroad. 

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Service tax voluntary compliance encouragement scheme

The CBEC has issued circular no. 175/05/2013 dated 8th August 2013 whereby it has given some clarifications on the Service Tax Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme. Unfortunately CBEC circulars do not carry proper URL. Therefore the relevant portions of the circular is reproduced herewith from the website i.e. http://www.servicetax.gov.in/st-circulars-home.htm

 

S No.

Issues

Clarification

1

Whether the communications, wherein department has sought information of roving nature from potential taxpayer regarding their business activities without seeking any documents from such person or calling for his presence, while quoting the authority of section 14 of the Central Excise Act, 1944, would attract the provision of section 106 (2) (a)?

Attention is invited to clarification issued at S. No. 4 of the circular No. 169/4/2013–ST, dated 13.5.2013, as regards the scope of section 106 (2) (a) of the Finance Act, 2013, wherein it has been clarified that the provision of section 106 (2)(a)(iii) shall be attracted only in such cases where accounts, documents or other evidence are requisitioned by the authorized officer from the declarant under the authority of a statutoryprovision.

 

A communication of the nature as mentioned in the previous column would not attract the provision of section 106 (2)(a) even though the authority of section 14 of the Central Excise Act may have been quoted therein.

2

An assessee has two units at two different locations, say Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Both are separately registered.  The Mumbai unit has received a Show Cause Notice for non-payment of tax on a revenue stream but the Ahmedabad unit has not.  Whether the Ahmedabad unit is eligible for VCES?

Two separate service tax registrations are two distinct assessees for the purposes of service tax levy. Therefore, eligibility for availing of the Scheme is to be determined accordingly. The unit that has not been issued a show cause notice shall be eligible to make a declaration under the Scheme.

3

Whether a declaration can be made under the Scheme in respect of CENVAT credit wrongly utilized for payment of service tax? 

Any service tax that has been paid utilizing the irregular credit, amounts to non-payment of service tax. Therefore such service tax amount is covered under the definition of “tax dues”.

4

Whether a party, against whom an inquiry, investigation or audit has been initiated after 1.3.2013 (the cutoff date) can make a declaration under the Scheme?

Yes. There is no bar from filing of declaration in such cases.

 

 

5

There was a default and a Show Cause Notice was issued for the period prior to the period covered by the Scheme, i.e. before Oct 2007. Whether declaration can be filed for default on the same issue for the subsequent period?

In the context of the Scheme, the relevant period is from Oct 2007 to Dec 2012. Therefore, the 2ndproviso to section 106 (1) shall be attracted only in such cases where a show cause notice or order of determination has been issued for the period from Oct 2007 to Dec 2012. Accordingly, issuance of a show cause notice or order of determination for any period prior to Oct 2007, on an issue, would not make a person ineligible to make a declaration under the Scheme on the same issue for the period covered by the Scheme.    Therefore, declaration can be made under VCES.

6

In a case where the assessee has been audited and an audit para has been issued, whether the assessee can declare liability on an issue which is not a part of the audit para, under the VCES 2013?

Yes, declarant can declare the “tax dues” concerning an issue which is not a part of the auditpara. 

7

Whether a person, who has paid service tax for a particular period but failed to file return, can take the benefit of VCES Scheme so as to avoid payment of penalty for non- filing of return?

Under VCES a declaration can be made only in respect of “tax dues”. A case where no tax is pending, but return has not been filed, does not come under the ambit of the Scheme. However, rule 7C of the Service Tax Rules provides for waiver of penalty in deserving cases where return has not been filed and, in such cases, the assessee may seek relief under rule 7C.

8

A person has made part payment of his ‘tax dues’ on any issue before the scheme was notified and makes the declaration under VCES for the remaining part of the tax dues. Will he be entitled to the benefit of non-payment of interest/penalty on the tax dues paid by him outside the VCES, i.e., (amount paid prior to VCES)?

No. The immunity from interest and penalty is only for “tax dues” declared under VCES.

 

If any “tax dues” have been paid prior to the enactment of the scheme, any liability of interest or penalty thereon shall be adjudicated as per the provisions of Chapter V of the Finance Act, 1994 and paid accordingly.

9

Whether an assessee, who, during a part of the period covered by the Scheme, is in dispute on an issue with the department under an erstwhile provision of law, can declare his liability under the amended provisions, while continuing to litigate the outstanding liability under the erstwhile provision on the issue? 

In terms of the second proviso to section 106 (1), where a notice or order of determination has been issued to a person in respect of any issue, no declaration shall be made by such person  in respect of “tax dues” on the same issue for subsequent period. Therefore, if an issue is being litigated for a part of the period covered by the Scheme, i.e., Oct, 2007 to Dec 2012, no declaration can be filed under VCES in terms of the said proviso on the same issue for the subsequent period.

10

Whether upon filing a declaration a declarant realizes that the declaration filed by him was incorrect by mistake? Can he file an amended declaration?

The declarant is expected to declare his tax dues correctly. In case the mistake is discovered suo-moto by the declarant himself, he may approach the designated authority, who, after taking into account the overall facts of the case may allow amendments to be made in the declaration, provided that the amended declaration is furnished by declarant before the cut off date for filing of declaration, i.e., 31.12.2013. 

11

What is the consequence if the designated authority does not issue an acknowledgement within seven working days of filing of declaration? Whether the declarant can start making payment of the tax dues even if acknowledgement is not issued?

Department would ensure that the acknowledgement is issued in seven working days from the date of filing of the declaration.  It may however be noted that payment of tax dues under the Scheme is not linked to the issuance of an acknowledgement. The declarant can pay tax dues even before the acknowledgement is issued by the department.

12

Whether declarant will be given an opportunity to be heard and explain his cases before the rejection of a declaration under section 106(2) by the designated authority?

Yes. In terms of  section 106 (2) of the Finance Act, 2013, the designated authority shall, by an order, and for reasons to be recorded in writing, reject a declaration if any inquiry/investigation or audit was pending against the declarant as on the cutoff date, i.e., 1.3.2013.  An order under this section shall be passed following the principles of natural justice.

 

To allay any apprehension of undue delays and uncertainty, it is clarified that the designated authority, if he has reasons to believe that the declaration is covered by section 106 (2), shall give a notice of intention to reject the declaration within 30 days of the date of filing of the declaration stating the reasons for the intention to reject the declaration. For declarations already filed, the said period of 30 days would apply from the date of this circular.

 

The declarant shall be given an opportunity to be heard before any order is passed by the designated authority.          

13

What is the appeal mechanism against the order of the designated authority whereby he rejects the declaration under section 106 (2) of the Finance Act, 2013?

The Scheme does not have a statutory provision for filing of appeal against the order for rejection of declaration under section 106 (2) by the designated authority.

14

A declarant pays a certain amount under the Scheme and subsequently his declaration is rejected. Would the amount so paid by him be adjusted against his liability that may be determined by the department?

The amount so paid can be adjusted against the liability that is determined by the department.

15

Section 111 prescribes that where the Commissioner of Central Excise has reasons to believe that the declaration made by the declarant was ‘substantiallyfalse’, he may serve a notice on the declarant in respect of such declaration. However, what constitutes a ‘substantially false’ declaration has not been specified.

 

The Commissioner would, in the overall facts of the case, taking into account the reasons he has to believe, take a judicious view as to whether a declaration is ‘substantially false’. It is not feasible to define the term “substantially false” in precise terms.  The proceeding under section 111 would be initiated in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

 

To illustrate, a declarant has declared his “tax dues” as Rs 25 lakh. However, Commissioner has specific information that declaration has been made only for part liability, and the actual “tax dues”   areRs 50 lakh. This declaration would fall in the category of “substantially false”. 

This example is only illustrative.

16

What is the consequence if a declarant fails to pay atleast 50% of declared amount of tax dues by the 31st Dec 2013?

One of the conditions of the Scheme [section 107 (3)] is that the declarant shall pay atleast an amount equal to 50% of the declared tax dues under the Scheme, on or before the 31.12.2013. Therefore, if the declarant fails to pay atleast 50% of the declared tax dues by 31st Dec, 2013, he would not be eligible to avail of the benefit of the scheme.

17

Whether the CENVAT credit is admissible on the inputs/input services used for provision of output service in respect of which declaration has been made under VCES for payment of any tax liability outside the VCES?

 

The VCES Rules 2013 prescribe that CENVAT credit cannot be utilized for payment of “tax dues” under the Scheme. Accordingly the “tax dues” under the Scheme shall be paid in cash.

 

The admissibility of CENVAT credit on any inputs and input services used for provision of output service in respect of which declaration has been made shall continue to be governed by the provisions of the Cenvat Credit Rules, 2004.

18

(a)  Whether the tax dues amount paid under VCES would be eligible as CENVAT credit to the recipient of service under a supplementary invoice?

 

(b) Whether cenvat credit would be admissible to the person who pays tax dues under VCES as service recipient under reverse charge mechanism?

 

Rule 6(2) of the Service Tax Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Rules, 2013, prescribes that CENVAT credit cannot be utilized for payment of “tax dues” under the Scheme. Except this condition, all issues relating to admissibility of CENVAT credit are to be determined in terms of the provisions of the Cenvat Credit Rules.

 

As regards admissibility of CENVAT credit in situations covered under part (a) and (b), attention is invited to rule 9(1)(bb) and 9(1)(e)  respectively of the Cenvat Credit Rules.

19

In terms of section 106 (2)(b), if a declaration made by a person against whom an audit has been initiated and where such audit is pending, then the designated authority shall by an order and for reasons to be recorded in writing, reject such declaration. As the audit process may involve several stages, it may be indicated as to what event would constitute,-

(i) initiation of audit; and

(ii) culmination of audit.

Initiation of audit: For the purposes of VCES, the date of the visit of auditors to the unit of the taxpayer would be taken as the date of initiation of audit. A register is maintained of all visits for audit purposes.

 

Culmination of audit: The audit process may culminate in any of the following manner.-

(i)    Closure of audit file if no discrepancy is found in audit;

(ii) Closure of audit para by the Monitoring Committee Meeting (MCM);

(iii)  Approval of audit para by MCM and payment of amount involved therein by the party in terms of the provisions of the Finance Act, 1994;

(iv)  Approval of audit para by MCM, and issuance of SCN, if party does not agree to the paraso raised.

 

The audit culminates at a point when the auditparas raised are settled in any manner as stated above.

 

The pendency of audit as on 1.3.2013 means an audit that has been initiated before 1.3.2013 but has not culminated as on 1.3.2013. 

 

 

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My Autobiography by Dickie Bird

Just finished reading an absorbing, engaging and enthralling autobiography of Dickie Bird, the most loved and most famous cricket umpire in the world, well, at least in my living memory. It is a first time that i am reading an autobiography of an umpire and obviously he is the most loved one. Therefore it was a completely different perspective to look at cricket from the point of view of an umpire. The narrative is brilliant and flowing and he talks of his early childhood playing cricket in Barnsley in Yorkshire and thereafter his progression to a cricket umpire. There are little anecdotes of match situations thrown in liberally throughout the book. He talks of rain hit matches, sun hit matches (yes, there was one match which was stopped momentarily because the sun’s rays were being reflected upon the eyes of the fielders through the glass box of corporate boxes) crowd booing, state of the pitches, use of technology in cricket, decisions etc. The man virtually lives and breathes cricket and therefore it was an entirely refreshing book. That he has umpired some of the most famous matches in the 24 years that he was an umpire and stood when some of the most famous bowlers of the time were bowling, such as Holding, Roberts, Garner, Marshall, Lillee, Thompson, Kapil Dev, Hadlee, Botham, Underwood, etc. is by itself a sheer tribute to the man’s greatness. Highly recommended for reading for all cricket fans. 

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Turbaned Tornado

This book “Turbaned Tornado” is a biography of the famous Indian marathoner who ran a marathon at 100 years, Fauja Singh. The writer Kushwant Singh is not the same famous Indian journalist and writer of the same name. It is a nice narrative of the early life of Fauja Singh, how he travelled to London after the death of his loving wife and started running marathons at the age of 89 when most of us would rather be more comfortable walking with a stick!! Fauja is an indomitable spirit and his farmers’ genes help him in becoming a rare sportsman and brand ambassador more famous than some sportspersons three or four generations younger than him. His timing of 5.20 hours at the age of 94 is the stuff made of legends. Fauja Singh is truly a great sportsman of India and reading his biography is very refreshing.

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Guidelines for Insurance Agents Training Institutes – Scope for CS

The IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority) has issued on 1st August 2013 comprehensive guidelines on establishment/ renewal of Agents Training Institutes for both life as well as non life insurance products.

It stipulates a pre-qualification for such institutes to come into force such as proven track record of minimum 3 years, establishment as company or society or trust,  It also stipulates training period, attendance of faculty as well as students, minimum class strength etc.

The qualification of a faculty is also specified such as managerial experience for 5 years with any insurer or having any specified qualifications such as B.Tech., Degree from a recognised University or professionals such as CS, CWA, CA etc. The training centre needs to have at least one permanent full time faculty for each stream i.e. life and non-life. So there is scope for a CS to become a faculty in a Insurance Training Centre. Obviously he needs to be having insurance background and has worked in insurance field for many years in order to teach the subject. There is also a requirement that the candidate should have undergone a 3 day training workshop either with NIA, III, IIRM but this is not a hindrance. But this is a welcome move by the IRDA to recognise the CS as one of the qualifications suited for the purpose of being appointed as a faculty in an Insurance Training Centre.

The copy of the circular can be found at http://www.irda.gov.in/ADMINCMS/cms/whatsNew_Layout.aspx?page=PageNo2028&flag=1

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Customer Service in ATM transactions

RBI has issued circular dated 1st August 2013 regarding enhancement in customer service in ATM transactions. Some new features have been brought into force in this set of instructions to banks. They are:

1) Message regarding non-availability of cash in the ATM should be displayed prominently in the ATM even before the customer initiates the transaction i.e. before he inserts the card in the slot. Many a times we insert the card in the slot but no money comes out and we have to only guess that there is no money in the ATM – so to avoid the guessing work RBI has mandated that information be prominently displayed at the ATM regarding non-availability of cash. This is a good move by the RBI.

2) The ATM Id should be displayed somewhere on the ATM. This is to facilitate the lodging of grievances by customers quoting the ATM id. In the absence of the ATM id, the customers had to give the address of the ATM where it is located. ATM id makes it easier for the bank to locate the ATM.

3) Banks may pro-actively register the mobile numbers/ e-mail ids of the customers to send out alerts to them. I thought this was essential rather than discretionary so RBI should have insisted on this rather than said “may pro-actively”. Today almost everybody who has a bank account does necessarily have a mobile phone and in most cases also an e-mail id.

4) RBI has introduced the concept of time-out sessions i.e. each transaction will have a time out session where within a stipulated time which will be a reasonable time, the transaction will be timed out and if the customer has not finished the transaction by that time, then he has to afresh initiate the transaction. I feel RBI has to proceed carefully in this direction because many ATM users are senior citizens, ladies, physically or mentally challenged persons or functionally challenged persons for whom carrying out transactions may take some time. Therefore the fixing of time limits for time out sessions should be carefully done and reviewed from time to time. I feel many customers may find this process to be cumbersome if they have to keep on re-entering the transactions again and again.

Other instructions are routine in nature. The copy of the circular can be found at http://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=8286&Mode=0

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Marathon Man

Just finished reading “Marathon Man” by Bill Rodgers otherwise known as Boston Billy who won the Boston and New York Marathons 4 times each in the late 70s. Boston Billy has personally autographed this book which was given to my dear friend Bhasker Desai who had ran at this year i.e. 2013 Boston Marathon. Bhasker finished the race and was in the medical tent when the bomb blast took place.

It is a very enchanting and enthralling book with a throbbing narrative in collaboration with Mathew Shepatin. Basically it is an account of his early life and his Boston marathon experience of 1975. The narrative is very interesting in the sense that each chapter starts with his Boston 1975 progress during the race and the later part of the chapter devotes to flashback to his early life as a college student, running with Amby Burfoot who is his original inspiration, his “conscientious objector” status during the Vietnam war, his degree at special education, struggle at getting a job etc. He was a natural born runner with a great capacity for hard work and a body which could take any amount of hard work with very little injuries. The realisation that he could be a top notch marathon runner came to him only during a race with Amby Burfoot in which he raced alongside the great Amby for about 15 miles of a 20 mile race. The seeds of inspiration which Amby sowed in him made him take up competitive racing including marathons. Boston Billy alongwith Frank Shorter, Amby Burfoot and Jeff Galloway were the pioneers of long distance running first in America which then spread to other cities in the world which has since then grown exponentially. His latter attempts at Montreal Olympics of 1976 and thereafter founding a successful running business alongwith his college buddies makes for a good story. It is an excellent book, very inspirational, very nice story of an easygoing hardworking American who loves running dearly. 

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