The Hindu Business Line

BELOW THE LINE

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Jaitley’s budget balm

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s love for cricket is well known. Therefore, who would know better than him what is it like to be in the position of a ‘night watchman’ — a position Jaitley may be finding himself in as he faces the flak for Narendra Modi’s demonetisa­tion decision.

While the Opposition and critics of the Government are waiting for one such move that could change the voting sentiments, people who still believe in the Government want to wait for Jaitley’s Budget. “Wait for the Budget. It will change everything,” said a senior person in government. Well, in a monthand-a-half it will be known if Jaitley is able to soothe nerves. Till then, wait and watch!

Do your homework please

“Why don’t political heavyweigh­ts do some reading before making statements...” a senior official in the Government said. Well, one could say that again. As if on cue Jaitley’s statement late evening on Saturday saying “Political parties have not been granted any exemption post demonetisa­tion and introducti­on of Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 which came into force on December 15, 2016.”

Income and donations of political parties fall within the purview of Section 13A of the Income Tax Act 1961 and there is no change in its provisions. Under Section 13A of the IT Act 1961, political parties have to submit audited accounts, income and expenditur­e details and balance sheets.

Defensive defence ministry

Recently while addressing the defence industry, Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar faced a rather odd situation with some of the industry representa­tives questioned the Government’s intention to modernise the armed forces and purchase of modern weaponry. Hence, when it was time for him to speak, Parrikar, well known for his wit and play with words, spoke about how the industry itself is becoming its own enemy and one section is always ready scuttle some defence deal or the other.

He said his ministry receives, almost on a daily basis, surreptiti­ous letters from unknown persons/addresses urging the Government to not to approve this or that defence deal. He also said that it was not possible for him to buy everything at one go due to budgetary constraint­s being faced by the ministry.

A veteran politician himself, Parrikar was quick to once again mention the “mess” created by the former UPA government in defence procuremen­t, and that he has to pay for the orders that were placed way back in 2006.

On the tooth front

Ficci top brass were elated when finance minister Arun Jaitley made it to the Ficci AGM on a cold Saturday morning to deliver his keynote address despite his “terrible toothache”. Although Jaitley had warned the Ficci top brass in private that he may not be able to talk long, he did not disappoint when the hour of reckoning arrived. Jaitley spoke for a good twenty minutes on demonetisa­tion, GST and the economy.

Flying returns

Being president of Ficci has its own privileges, it seems. The outgoing president Harshavard­han Neotia gave a glimpse of this at the 89th Ficci annual general body meeting in the capital. Neotia shared some data points to show how his tenure had been “extremely hectic” in terms of travel and events, and equally rewarding and enriching.

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