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Xmas, Good Governance & 'Fringe Benefits'

Published on Mon, Dec 22,2014 | 20:52, Updated at Mon, Dec 22 at 20:52Source : 

By: Sudhir Kapadia, National Tax Leader, EY

X'mas eve is always a great time to take stock of the state of the nation in our chosen areas of interest, vocation or generally (or so I think). There is a certain good cheer in the air which is complemented by relatively pleasant weather (even if a shade foggy and polluted). As the winter session of Parliament nears its scheduled X'mas eve closure, Lutyen's Delhi leaves you with mixed feelings. The current business-like briskness, sheer dedication, grit and determination at the higher echelons of Government to "get things done" cannot be missed in the otherwise genteel and leafy surroundings of Lutyen's Delhi belonging to a much more fashionably royal era.

In every interaction with the senior members of the current Government, there is a palpable sense of urgency and earnestness to get to the "nuts and bolts" of implementation to ensure that the development agenda of the Government marches ahead. In evidence is also a refreshing willingness to acknowledge what is broken and needs repair. For instance, at a recent public event, the Revenue Secretary readily admitted that the Dispute Resolution Panel (DRP) mechanism is not effective and the Ministry of Finance has decided to appoint full time members to strengthen the DRP. We had earlier witnessed the alacrity with which the clarificatory circular on Special Economic Zones (SEZ) was amended to take into account some of the Industry's concerns. We recently saw an "Office memorandum" from the CBDT acknowledging that there is a perception of an adversarial tax regime which it seeks to address. Some of the guidance in the said Memorandum on evaluation of matters before filing appeals and exercising judiciousness in making adjustments to returned income is indeed like a breadth of fresh mountain air on the notoriously dusty plains.

There are other announcements like appointment of members to the High Powered Committee for interaction with Industry, additional Commissioner to augment capacity at APA, appointment of Committees at the CBDT and CBEC to examine and consider the recommendations of the Tax Administration Reforms Commission(TARC) which all put together clearly demonstrate an unmistakable bias towards action beyond just discussions. In this entire milieu, we also need to acknowledge and appreciate the tremendous personal sacrifices that the concerned Ministers and members of the Administration are making because of the punishing work schedule they are compelled to follow. It is the same intensity and "can do" attitude on display when it comes to legislation in Parliament. The much awaited and long overdue Goods and Services Act (GST) is a leading example of the action oriented mindset of this Government.

Therefore, is it time to raise a toast to "Happy New Year" and look forward to a scintillating 2015? Well,"picture abhi baki hai,mere dost!". Unlike the maiden session of Parliament of the new Government, we had a rather eventful second session. Suddenly the dull and boring rhythm of serious business in Parliament's first session was broken by a noisy second session replete with charges and counter charges threatening to derail the slew of critical legislation made ready by the Government.

It is evident that the "fringe" members of the Establishment and the "Nay sayers" in the combined Opposition have been having a field day under the winter sun of Lutyen's Delhi (and the artificially cold TV studios!). So what is the way forward, one might ask? At the risk of sounding flippant (though thats the intent anyway!),a compulsory (what else?)  viewing of the latest Aamir Khan starrer "PK" for all Parliamentarians on X'mas day should cool tempers down besides bringing some much needed humour back in Parliamentary debates and hopefully inspire everyone across the ideological spectrum  to deliver results to the hapless "Indiawallas"!

Here is wishing the benefits of better policies and still better implementation with good governance (but without any benefits from the "fringes"), good old X'mas festive cheer and a blockbuster "Happy New Year" to all the extremely hardworking and "Never say die" fellow Indians!

(Views are personal)


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