Editors Column

Yet another major fraud in our stock markets has come to the fore as a major chunk of 1.1 million duplicate Pan cards deactivated by income tax department belonged to market players.

Faster deceleration in economic growth is staring in the face for the Narendra Modi government. Finance minister Arun Jaitley needs to brace up to report around seven per cent growth for this financial year.

These are the possibilities and concerns flagged by the economic survey’s second volume presented by him to the Parliament on Friday, the last day of monsoon session.

The coming together of two rival AIADMK factions led by chief minister K Palanisamy and his predecessor O Panneerselvam is good augury for Tamil politics, for they have closed ranks against the interloper. After the death of J Jayalalitha, it is to their advantage that the all-powerful Mannargudi mafia’s influence is removed from the party set up.

For years now circular trading through shell companies has been the norm rather than the exception in Indian stock markets. In rising markets, cats and dogs, as they are known, rose alarmingly as the rising tide lifted all boats. Oblivious to the regulator, punters made their money. But hapless investors following hot tips in small caps often found themselves trapped when the bubble burst.

Humility needs to be a permanent virtue especially for those in the corridors of power. And, finesse in strategising and implementing a backroom plan on the ground must be second big trait that needs to be assiduously cultivated by those in power politics. The art of war should never be confused with the fog of war, for realpolitik always triumphs in the end.

This is time for a mini celebration of sorts. India should actually be proud of taking a definitive step towards evolving as a tax compliant society.  Finance ministry data released on Monday clearly demonstrates that about 5.6 million or 56 lakh more people have paid taxes and filed income tax returns in their bid to bring about a semblance of transparency in their personal dealings.

Sin tax of 28 per cent was acceptable on luxury items under the goods and services tax (GST) that became operational on July 1. On top of it, levying 15 per cent cess as part of revenue mobilisation drive to compensate states was also reconcilable.

It is strange that the opposition Congress that does not have an alternative political narrative smells conspiracies against itself everywhere. The Grand Old Party sees one such huge conspiracy hatched by BJP president Amit Shah to wean away its leaders, elected legislators and virtually disrupt the opposition camp.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley should go ahead and rationalise the GST rates, prune the slabs and rework the levies on specific products and services where serious lacunae are glaringly visible. Two major slabs of 12 and 18 per cent should be considered for merger in his next union budget that’s in all likelihood to be presented by December this year.

Industrial manufacturing seems to be in a mess which needs immediate attention and focused intervention from finance minister Arun Jaitley who’s already juggling too many tasks for the Narendra Modi government.

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