Somesh Arora: A SAD story of no refunds

Special Additional Duty (SAD) refunds are making exporters and importers of Delhi really sad on new year. While shortfall of revenue in recession is understandable, the SAD refunds filed in some cases are of more than one-year vintage and pending. How many of these are captured by the reporting system is not free from doubt. But what is worrying is that these claims are buried in files even without so much as, by now customary and established strategy, of conveying at least some technical objections to show that these are not pending with the department but with the filers. Where in the archives is the Citizen Charter of the Department, which proclaimed that all correspondence should be acknowledged in 10 days, lying buried, or is it that a refund application is not a correspondence, technically speaking. Further, CBEC, in its circular no.6/2008-cus dated 28/4/2008, had indicated that there will be no interest on such refunds in case of delay as the departmental officers are expected to grant refunds in three months. Let us wish that the new year will reduce such pendency and will enable optimism expressed by CBEC in its officers to come true. Or will the interest on such refunds become the only option for CBEC to extract compliance. Only time and budget amendments will tell.


New year’s big bash

If Rs 5 crore spent on a 10-minute appearance of Shah Rukh Khan by a Pan Masala host is any indicator, the new year bash across New Delhi Continued from page 1

involving a number of Bollywood celebrities would have cost nothing short of Rs 10 crore. No doubt that one has the right to spend lavishly, if Kuber is meharbaan. It is, however, another matter that extravagance of this magnitude would have saved India from all hunger related and cold weather related deaths for atleast two years. Little wonder, why a real new year or a new age never dawns upon my India despite the number of years of growth.


SEZ converts cultivable  land into non-cultivable?

One of the repeated methodology to check that non-cultivable land alone is used for SEZ purpose to meet the target as stipulated in SEZ Act and Policy is to take an undertaking from the farmer selling the land that same was not used for agricultural purpose by the prospective developer and submission of the same to Ministry of Commerce (MOC). Since a farmer, who is getting a quoted price for the land he wants to sell is too willing to oblige, we have, therefore, on records of MOC a good share of land being declared as non-cultivable. In Haryana, for instance, it was a common refrain in the 1980s that it had more cattle loans than the cattle population taken together of even neighbouring states. Now in 2010s, it may have on record more non-cultivable land than neighboring states taken together.


No plot, but shell out development fee

Haryana has emerged as a state with a dubious distinction of having the highest External Development Charges (EDC) in India .. At times, it has worked out to be about 40% to 50% of the land cost charged by the developers. Demands have been raised arbitrarily with retrospective effect even in areas like Kundli where no worthwhile development has taken place on ground. The middle class wanting to have plots have been asked to shell out lakhs even when possession is nowhere in sight. It seems another revenue channel, post-VAT period, has been chanced upon by the bureaucracy and the political class of Haryana, which is not even liable to be disciplined under Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. The delay in development increases costs, which are again passed on to the buyers and for whatever paid earlier if any interest is earned, none of the same is passed on to the buyers. Uttar Pradesh also had the same approach which was, however, changed after public hue and cry over the issue. For the common man in Haryana, it has been a case of buy properties in boom and pay through your nose in recession. Indeed, a fiscal stimulus, Haryanvi Ishtyle.


Universality of official responses

Few fatal attacks on Indians in Australia and reported number of assaults up from 17 in 2008 to 100 in 2009. Racists getting bolder by the inaction of the Australian Authorities.  How much hue and cry we Indians had made when one communal Dara killed an Australian missionary and eventually saw to it that he got punished. But it seems that there are Daras roaming around in abundance on the streets of Melbourne and Sydney, but Australians authorities are not Indian. The Government down under also seems to be in slumber. High time Australian authorities start importing investigation officers from India rather than coming out with stereotyped orchestrated chorus response of `at this preliminary stage there does not seem to be any evidence of attack being racial.’ Sounds quite like our own home grown responses of ` an enquiry into the incident has been ordered’ or ` situation is being watched closely and is under control’ or ` the involvement of foreign hand cannot be ruled out’.  There seems to be a good scope of starting an ` International Academy of official Responses’ as a commercial venture.

Bihar growth story: The trickledown effect has just begun

Bihar is turning out magical figures of growth, while states like Maharashtra have begun to lag behind.  Reverse exodus may be a matter of time. High time that leaders from other states  start demanding reservations for their own natives in Bihar on the principle of reciprocity and giving accommodation in the past as example, rather than showing the people of Bihar the door, as in Mumbai. They will prove to be  true statesmen and visionary then. We had heard of reverse brain drain, but this is going to be a real reverse` class-IV’ drain, once the labour from Bihar decides to go back to their state and contribute to their own growth, compelling rest of Indians to do the  Class- IV and many other chores.  Second example, that one right man at the top can make much difference. First being that of sadda Manni Singh.


New year’s happy notes: Rathore and Tiwari in soup.

Firstly, there are many like me who admire P. Chidamabaram in his Home Minister avatar, rather than a friend of the corporate- FM avatar. It takes guts to reopen and do justice in a 20-year-old Rathore matter and to police the police. Strong message for not only those in power,  who wronged the people of India with impunity but also for those who lodged frivolous FIRs just to appease their masters in powers. For once, the executive has shown that there is some semblance of the rule of law in the country, even when all systems executive, judicial and political had initially failed to respond. From Rathore, it was quite interesting to get the quote that he learnt to smile in adversity from Pandit Nehru, but wherefrom he learnt the act of proven charge of molesting has not been revealed.

Secondly, the promptness with which action was taken in the N D Tiwari episode shows that somewhere in the political class there is an increased realisation that legality of actions is more important than the history of actions of loyalty. It marks a clear departure from the past and provides answers to old breed of Congressman, as to where some of them have been found lacking in the assessment of new generation. Behave like leaders, if you want to be one, is the clear message. It also makes it clear as to why the present day young leadership of Congress is more popular in India, (especially among the youth) than the old guards of any other party.