Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Mr. Jaswant Singh's expulsion from the BJP for writing a book on Jinnah is surprising all secular and democratic people. One can appreciate or criticise his remarks based on facts. It is well known that Jinnah was once called as the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. He was also a staunch Congress leader. Situations changed him and made him an All India Muslim League Chief.

It is very unfortunate that Mr. Jaswant's 30 years of dedicated service as a leader has no value for the BJP leaders who passed a resolution to expel him. One can understand where the party stands and how its leaders analyse issues!

The fact is that the strong leaders who wanted to grab power were not willing to co-operate with Mr. Jinnah and his party and pushed him to a corner to demand Pakistan. No doubt he fought for Pakistan and got it with the consent of all leaders.The loss in every respect was immeasurable. It was his great blunder. No Indian will ever pardon him for this and more so Indian Muslims whose dedicated freedom fighters including ulema had to undergo great hardships during the freedom struggle. Many of them were even hanged to death by the Britishers.

One feels that Mr. Jaswant should have criticised him more for this tragedy. Even today we are suffering because of the division of the country. We would have been stronger if the country had remained one India. The only leader who was opposed to the division of the country till the end even when all agreed to it was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Even after partition he maintained his stand as the opponent of the partition.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009




The national budget announced on 6th July 2009 by the hon'ble Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee is "people friendly" as it is stimulus-oriented focussed on consumption to sustain growth. Taxpayers who hail from different fields of activity received the benefits which they rightly deserved. The following are some of them:

Income tax exemption limit was raised by Rs.10,000 for men and women and Rs.15,000 for senior citizens. i.e. exemption limit for men and women is Rs.1.60 lakh and senior citizens Rs.2.40 lakh.
Interest on study loans after 10th standard is now tax deductible.
10% surcharge on above Rs.10 lakh is abolished
Wealth tax is now payable only for over Rs.30 lakh instead of Rs.15 lakh.
Advance tax is applicable only for tax liability exceeding Rs.10,000 against Rs.5,000 earlier.
There are also many other benefits such as cuts in customs duties for some life-saving drugs and medical equipment, abolition of commodity transaction tax on derivatives trading etc.

One can also invest up to Rs.1 lakh in some approved schemes under Section 80c and save taxes up to about Rs.30,000. The investment is deducted from taxable income.

Many disadvantages are also galore in the present budget. For example most gifts in kind worth over Rs.50,000 are to become taxable after 1st October 2009, excise on several household items to be increased from 4% to 8%, customs duty doubled on import of gold and silver bars, 5% duty on set-up boxes, MAT up from 10% to 15% , service tax on legal consultancy to firms, etc.

As far as businessmen are concerned, the benefits are in the form of extensions as detailed below:

Sops announced for exporters in December 2008 have been extended up to 31st March 2010
Tax Write-off on R & D expenditure has been extended to all manufacturing units.
Section 10A and 10B tax holiday for STPs and EOUs has been extended up to 31st March 2011.
Credit on Minimum Alternate Tax can be carried forward for 10 years instead of 7.

According to the Council for Leather Exports, the following benefits are there in the recent budget.

1) Inclusion of new inputs for manufacturer-exporters of leather garments, footwear (including non-leather footwear) and other leather products under the 3% Duty Free Import Scheme (DFIS). Though the Council had submitted exhaustive list of inputs for inclusion and also sought amendments in existing descriptions of inputs, only certain items have been included.

2) Amendments have been made in the list of machinery notified under list 34 of serial no. 257 of Customs Notification No. 21/2002 dated 1.3.2002, as amended from time to time, which allows import under 5% concessional duty (basic customs duty). These amendments were earlier sought by the Council so as to avoid customs interpretation problems.

3) The 2% interest subvention scheme for certain labour intensive sectors including the leather sector has been extended from Sept. 30, 2009 to March 31, 2010. This will facilitate reduced interest rates @ BPLR minus 4.5% for the leather sector on pre-shipment and post-shipment rupee export credit. The RBI is expected to issue the notification in this regard in due course.

4) Additional Benefits (coverage) under Export Credit Guarantee scheme have been extended till March 2010. As per current package of ECGC, the percentage of cover is enhanced by 5% under Export Credit Insurance Policies issued to exporters and by 10% under Export Credit Insurance Covers for Banks. Thus, the total coverage for the exporters will be 95% and for the banks to 85%.

5) The Excise Duty Exemption is being extended to Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) compound manufactured by a job worker, for further use in the manufacture of footwear, on par with PVC Compound.

6) Exemption of Service Tax on foreign agents’ commission and transport of goods through road. In respect of foreign agents’ commission, the exemption would be to the extent of service tax on commission up to 10% of FOB value of exports i.e. 1% of Service Tax +applicable cess. Thus there would be no need for the exporter to first pay the tax and later claim refund in respect of these services.

7) The refund of Service Tax for other services have also been notified, by replacing the refund scheme notified earlier vide Service Tax Notification No.41/2007 dated 6.10.2007 .

8) Fringe Benefit Tax on the value of certain fringe benefits provided by employers to their employees has been abolished. The Council had included this request in its pre-budget proposals.
9) To facilitate flow of credit at reasonable rates, Rs.4,000 crore provided as special fund out of Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) to Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). This will incentivise Banks and State Finance Corporations (SFCs) to lend to Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) by refinancing 50 per cent of incremental lending to MSEs during the current financial year.

The industry is thankful to the government for the above benefits available in the budget but regrets that it is lacklustre as there is nothing special for the nationally important export-oriented and labour intensive leather and leather products industry which is endeavouring its best to face the present challenges in the recession hit world market and move forward producing and exporting more and more which is really a Himalayan task and hence governmental support is badly needed in the present circumstances.

Mr. Habib Hussain, Chairman, Council for Leather Exports rightly expressed his disappointment by saying that "the budget has just been a continuation budget. The existing stimulus package measures are continuing. The industry needed a big stimulus shot but nothing has been done. We now have to look forward to the foreign trade policy" which is expected shortly.

Mr. Rafeeque Ahmed, Chairman of Farida Group also expressed more or less the same views and said that there will be some incentives in the focused product scheme, import duties and import licences.

It is hoped that the forthcoming foreign trade policy will be based on the recommendations of the Council for Leather Exports and other associations and be of much help to the leather and leather products industry in its attempts for increased growth and exports. (Indian Leather, August 2009)