Tuesday, February 23, 2016


by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Next week, as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, presents the 2016-17 budget, the fear of many trillions of stressed assets hangs on him like Damocles’ sword. It is a real fear, not an imaginary one, like that of Islamists and Maoists hatching sinister plots from the JNU campus. The ghost of bad loans by banks was stalking the government for quite some time but its enormity became evident after Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan ordered an asset quality review last year of the 40-odd PSU banks for the two successive quarters ending in December 2015 and March 2016.

Govt, Oppn deadlock continues

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Govt, Oppn deadlock continues

Budget session begins today: No disruption, but no Bills either in first part

Harish Gupta
New Delhi, Feb. 22

Even as the government and two presiding officers of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are working hard to ensure a fruitful Budget session beginning tomorrow, a united Opposition is turning out to be a big headache. 

According to all indications, the Opposition is unlikely to allow any government business to be transacted other than the presentation of Rail and Union Budgets, at least in the first part ending March 16. Several crucial bills including the GST, Real Estate and Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment, may be taken up only in the second half of the session after the recess on April 25. The mood of the Parliament in the second half will, obviously, be decided as per the outcome of Assembly poll results in five states.

The Jat reservation agitation and unabated violence came at the worst time for the Modi government which is already struggling with unrest at the JNU and University of Hyderabad. The only saving grace for the BJP is that it does not have to bring before the House proclamation imposing President's rule in Arunachal Pradesh now that a new government has been installed.

But the government has to ensure the passage of the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill as an Ordinance has already been issued by the President and the Parliament has to adopt it. There are disputes on the Bill. But the government has made it a finance Bill and then it may not need the Rajya Sabha's majority approval. The IPA parties are strongly opposed to the Bill. The government is aware that two previous sessions had been a washout. Therefore, it wants to ensure a smooth sailing in the Budget session. The fact that parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu specially convened an all-party meeting this morning fully knowing that Speaker of the Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan has called a similar meeting in the evening, is a reflection of government desperation. Venkaiah Naidu said the government is ready to discuss any issue in Parliament and made an appeal that legislative business be allowed to be transacted. Sumitra Mahajan, on her part, did not want any disruption in the House and sought the cooperation of all the parties. Last week, the Prime Minister also took the unusual step by holding an all-party meeting which was followed by another meeting by chairman of the Rajya Sabha Hamid Ansari. On the Jat reservation issue, Venkaiah Naidu said he would hold discussions on the issue once the situation is normalised. "Party has formed a committee but normalcy should return first, as we can only debate and analyse about all the issues when situation is normal," Naidu said. 
Top Priority Bills 
The GST Bill
The Enemy Property (Amendment & Validation ) Bill
The Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Amendment Bill
The Anti-Hijacking Bill
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill
The Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill
The Carriage by Air (Amendment) Bill
The National Waterways Bill
The Bureau of Indian Standards Bill
The Whistle Blower protection (Amendment) Bill
The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill
The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill

The Indian Institute of Management Bill

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Union Budget last lane, no gas

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

As the date for 2016-17 Union budget advances, one cannot but have the impression of ‘driving’ a car on a game console. A lot of sound effect, and dizzy images of speed. But when the game is over, you can see the image of the car right on the spot it was. No action, no distance covered.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rs.30L crore siphoned out of India in 10 yrs

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Rs.30L crore siphoned out of India in 10 yrs
Black Money
SIT orders DRI probe 
India ranks 4th in money laundering
Harish Gupta
New Delhi, Feb. 15 :
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) has directed the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to probe the estimated outflow of `30 lakh crore ($ 505 billion) during the 2004–2013 period. The mind-boggling figure of `30 lakh crore was given by the Global Financial Integrity panel in December 2015. The panel undertook this extensive study of Trade Based Money Laundering and released its report saying that India lost `30 lakh crore during the 10 year period when UPA was in power.

The report of the Global Financial Integrity panel and action of the SIT today came as a shot in the arm for the Modi government which had been alleging that money to the tune of billions of dollars was siphoned out of the country during the UPA regime. The Supreme Court had directed the UPA to constitute the SIT on Black Money. But it kept dithering and the Modi government agreed to form the SIT soon after coming to power.

The Global Financial Integrity panel in its various reports, observed that Trade Based Money Laundering is a major source through which illicit money is taken out of the country. India ranked fourth amongst the developing nations with China topping the chart followed by Russia and Mexico. The SIT had recommended that there should be institutional mechanism through a dedicated set up which examines mismatch between export/import data with corresponding import/export data of other countries on a regular basis.

The SIT has also recommended that wherever possible, especially in case of commodities, a system for cross checking the prices of imports/exports with international prices may be done. Various reports including those by Global Financial Integrity have emphasised that Trade Based Money Laundering is the main medium or process through which funds are illegally taken out of countries. The DRI under the ministry of finance has been asked to verify the extent to which the calculations of money laundered are correct.

The SIT has also observed that since reports like those of Global Financial Integrity which calculate illicit financial flows from various countries, are widely used in academic circles and inform the debate on this issue, it is very crucial to ascertain the veracity of such reports. The SIT, however, refrained from making any statement on the findings of the report saying "further necessary action shall be taken after receipt of report from DRI". The details of the report obtained from the international panel, have been sent to DRI last week by the SIT. 

The Global Financial Integrity, in its report, "Illicit financial flows from developing countries 2004–2013" has estimated that illicit financial flows out of ten top countries is to the tune of $5 trillion. The report says developing and emerging economies across the world lost US$7.8 trillion in illicit financial flows from 2004 through 2013, with illicit outflows increasing at an average rate of 6.5 per cent per year - nearly twice as fast as global GDP. The Global Financial Integrity panel conducted this study which was supported by the Government of Finland.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bade Bhai Munna Bhai

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Narendra Modi revelled for years as the self-proclaimed architect of the "miracle state" of Gujarat, till he woke up to his larger calling as the Prime Minister of India. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of course cuts a lower profile than Modi, though he is better qualified and armed with a consistent track record of imaginative governance. After the Modi tsunami in 2014, there was not much to compare the two men on electoral scoreboard, the BJP-led NDA having cornered 35 of Bihar's 40 Lok Sabha seats, Nitish's JD(U) being left with only two.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Tussle for RS seats begins in Congress

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

■ Kapil Sibal may return from Punjab
■ Party keen on Anand Sharma from HP
■ Uncertainty over Chidambaram, Jairam Special

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, Feb. 7
Former Union minister and senior counsel Kapil Sibal may return to the Rajya Sabha from Punjab. Though Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh had shown inclination for Sibal, the party high command has signalled its keenness to nominate Anand Sharma from the state.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

The assembly elections due in 824 constituencies across four states—Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu—and the Union Territory of Puducherry may have a more than usual quota of surprises. Incumbency can be its reason in only one state, Assam, where Congress is in power for three terms and Tarun Gogoi has led the government all these years. There is another factor, tedium, working in two states: Kerala and West Bengal. It is tedium with the main opposition, which is CPI(M) in both states. Neither Congress' Omen Chandy nor Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee is a picture of popularity after five years in power.