PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.
1. PM discusses budget with opposition – Trying to build consensus!
PM met up with the major political leaders from opposition ahead of the Budget session to build consensus on passage of important bills stuck in Parliament – GST. The JNU episode, NH case etc. has given the opposition enough fuel to disrupt this session as well. God save the Budget session!
2. NDA leads in by-polls – Not much should be read into it!
NDA won 7/12 seats in by-polls held across 7 states. SP lost 2/3 seats in UP, one to Congress Muslim candidate. However, BSP wasn’t contesting so results do not present true picture. In Punjab, Akalis managed to win the lone seat as Congress as well as AAP were not contesting. In Bihar NDA retained its seat while in MP it wrested Congress bastion seat from the grand old party. In Telangana, TRS continued its good record.
3. Court asks RBI to furnish list of firms of >Rs. 500 crore loans written off: Good show, who are the looters, a big scam likely to be unearthed?
29 PSU banks had reported a total of 1.14 lakh crore rupees of bad debts between financial years 2013 and 2015. People want to know the names of these bad loans. Were regular process followed in granting them loans? Is their failure to pay due to genuine business losses or have they siphoned off money. Were bank officials hand in glove with company officials while disbursing loans like in case of Bhushan Steel?
4. Vodafone gets USD 2.1b notice – Tax ghost haunts co. again?
Co. has received a fresh notice for tax evasion. It has been crying foul over the retrospectively tax regime. Though NDA has criticized the law, it has not changed / amended the same. It is a big impediment to growth but we can’t amend the retrospective tax law with retrospective effect. This is an old case and needs to be settled as per rules prevailing then.
5. PF interest rates hiked to 8.8% – Good news for salaried class!
EPFO’s advisory body FAIC had recommended 8.95% and it was finally settled at 8.8%. This is not bad considering interest rates have fallen and FD rates are less than 8% currently. The individual tax payers need more respite and they are eagerly waiting for the Budget.