It is exactly a fortnight since Budget 2018 was presented. Thought it would deliver some big bang reforms. Did it ? Each one has his own take on this. Much water has flown since then. As always a closer look and more intense reading reveals the hidden punches. Not much to cheer both for individual as well as corporates. Quietly Education Cess of 3% has been replaced by Health Cess at a higher rate of 4%. We thought with the advent of GST we would bid goodbye to surcharge and cess but no both are back with the introduction of Social Welfare Surcharge as well. On many day to day use items, customs duty has gone up too. Is this to encourage Make in India ?
Thanks to GST and the constant changes announced by the GST council, I would say the anticipation around Budget changes in indirect taxes has lost its sheen. In the coming years, Budget would no more be an ‘event of the year’ but just another exercise of the Government. Every year analysing the indirect tax changes itself would be a giant exercise for all of us but not anymore. Good move. Instead of one big shock annually we are subjected to small and medium current shocks during the entire year. So much so that we are living the change each day and have forgotten what it means to be in a stable regime. Oh yeah, this is dynamic and not staid ☺.
Having said this, the big bang is the eye-popping diamond trade fraud disclosed by one of the PSU banks today. For the common man and the entrepreneur it is getting increasingly tougher to open a simple bank account with the maze of documents and signatures. It takes not less than 2-3 weeks but the same so-called vigilant system allows a fraud. The same banking system has put so many checks and balances on getting foreign investment that almost every FDI transaction is a non-compliant one thanks to the delay in getting critical documents like FIRC and KYC. Those who have attracted foreign funds and are struggling to arrange for these documents from their bank and the investor will understand what I am referring to. The bank-to-bank communication system both within India and with the overseas bank is so ‘anti-ease of doing business’ that only those at the ground level can empathise.
We are living in times of frugality…………….not of money, materialistic comforts, food or ideas (at least most of us if not the whole world). But of time. Time is a premium product. We want as much in as little time. A 10 minute video seems ages. A 7 minute talk seems a sermon. Anything more than 160 words is an essay. Though we spend hours on facebook, instagram and whatsapp we feel vowels and consonants take up too much of our time. We prefer short forms and acronyms…… TGIF (Thank God It is Friday), LOL (Laugh out Loud), ROFL (Roll on the Floor Laughing), OK (Oll Korrect), Eg. (Exempli Gratia), etc. (et cetra i.e. and the rest).
Not to be left behind, the Government is toying with several acronyms…..NITI (National Institution for Transforming India), SBA (Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan), SMILE (Sidbi Make In India For Small Enterprises), CODS (Condonation of Delay Scheme), POEM (Place of Effective Management), SPICE (Simplified Proforma for Incorporating Company Electronically) and the latest RUN (Reserve Unique Name). RUN is meant to be an EODB (Ease of Doing Business) initiative by the MCA for company incorporation. However the initial experience of users is that most names are getting rejected which means Rs. 1000 lost for each application since there is no resubmission option. It appears that there is Zero government fee upto Rs. 10 lacs authorised share capital. This will work well and deliver the intended incentive to entrepreneurs to start up as a company only if RUN works well. Professionals are apprehensive considering the past experience of dealing with the MCA help-desk which does anything but help.
Mere acronyms don’t ease business. Intention coupled with trained personnel who are accountable in a transparent system does. This is the need of the hour!