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Economy

Goods and Services Tax (GST), India: A Dangerous Domino

Saurabh Malkar

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Government loves taxation; the citizens, justifiably, loathe it with a passion. Parting with one’s hard-earned money, which will be pressed towards lofty goals and unfeasible projects, hardly gets people’s cheers.

India is infamous for its Byzantine system of multiple taxes on consumption: value-added tax (VAT), Octroi, cess, excise duties, a hefty customs duty, and sales tax. In 2017, the Modi administration undertook the task to take to consummation a long-standing endeavor to subsume different taxes into a transparent, unevadable, convenient, nationwide, single tax.

And so they did! On July 1, 2017, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, rolled out the goods and services tax (GST) to replace all existing taxes at the central (federal), state, and local level. The new tax reform, a surrender of taxation powers by the states to the center, promised to mop up leakages in the tax collection under the old system and boost government revenues through collecting taxes at the consumer end, thus, casting a wider net to cover the massive informal economy of India.

The deal was bittersweet, as it led to the states losing autonomy to design their own tax systems, while on the other hand receiving assurances of a steady allocation in the tax revenues collected at the center.

The reception of GST was a mixed bag, with the opposing coalition in the legislature boycotting the rollout ceremony, political pundits and media gurus casting doubts on its success, rumor-mongering on social media, and a state of panic and doom in the minds of the citizenry.

Predictably, Prime Minister Modi, in his usual smug demeanor and insufferably professorial manner of speaking, at the launch event talked up the GST, drawing equivalencies between the tax reform and historic events like the Declaration of Independence and installation of the Constitution. A religious reference was thrown in for good measure.

GST isn’t a panacea for India’s economic ailments. Quite the contrary, it will raise difficulties that could undercut free market principles, choke small-scale enterprises, stifle entrepreneurship, and throw cold water on industrialization in India.

GST subtly affects the feedback mechanism in the political governance of a federal republic like India. As the new tax elbows out scores of made-to-order and customizable tax systems of different states and union territories, it concentrates much of the economic decision-making in the hands of the central government, thus, widening the messaging gap between the citizens and the representatives.

It will be near impossible for the states to influence demand and consumption of goods and services through changing the tax rate. Also, a steady flow of tax revenues from the center to the states will make the latter less cognizant of people’s feedback on public goods, resulting in poor services.

It seems like India’s bureaucratic boffins threw the merits of diversity to the wind, a tenet that is peddled out every once in a while to hold together the fractious society. Diversity in taxation across state lines creates a competitive economic environment in which state heads have to work to attract businesses. For businesses, especially startups, there is a wide range of options to pick from.

States, as a result, function as laboratories where different economic policies play out and the ones that produce a business friendly environment and steady growth are duplicated elsewhere.

A single, centralized tax system undercuts the economic diversity and disables competition and free markets, something that developing nations ought to get hold of, if they are earnest about progress and growth.

Under GST, the definition of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), based on turnover, has been narrowed, thus, expelling many SMEs from the tax benefit cover. SMEs form the dominant share of most OECD economies around the world, where they are responsible for job creation, innovation, and becoming indispensable links in the supply chains of larger firms.

This cannot be any truer for an economy like India, where the informal sector makes for a substantial share of the GDP and employs a large number of semi-skilled and unskilled workers.

Despite being hailed as a transparent and streamlined tax system, the implementation of GST means that employers will have to go through a steep learning curve, trying to learn the ropes of the new system. Not only does this present an opportunity cost (a one-off), it is touted that legal compliance will cost business owners a substantial sum of money, raising overhead costs. While this tradeoff is favorable for big businesses, it is a cause for concern for SMEs.

While Narendra Modi, the darling of the educated youth of India, promised oodles of progress, prosperity, and ‘happy days’; the tax schedule of GST seems to be telling a slightly different, and perhaps, an insidious story.

According to Piruz Khambatta, Chairman at the Indian Industries’ National Committee of Food Processing, per the GST tax schedule, the tax rate on processed (canned and bottled) produce is higher than that on un-branded, loosely-sold fresh produce.

This can have a dis-incentivizing effect on mass-produced, processed food, in turn discouraging industrialization, innovation, and establishment of food hygiene standards. Also, mass produced goods tend to be uniform, cheap, and abundant. An over reliance on goods produced through a non-industrialized informal sector, despite resulting in job creation, could over time, hold back industrialization and technological advancement.

Another example of such glaring incoherency is illustrated by a comparison of tax rates on items listed under serial numbers 24 and 25 of the schedule. In an incredible move, machinery used in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, apiculture, and poultry farming is taxed at 5% and 12%, while miscellaneous items used in Hindu religious ceremonies are tax-free. It’s almost as if religious pandering has taken precedence over mechanization of key sectors of economy.

Without belaboring the above point, it merits noting that low-demand, artisanal, non-mechanized industries like ‘khadi’* are also given a tax break, while mass produced cotton goods are taxed at 5%.

This pandering to religious and anti-colonial, nationalistic sentiments, a classic example of third-world politics, flies in the face of the ‘progress, prosperity, and happy days’ narrative from Modi’s campaign trail.

In essence, unwittingly or otherwise, GST seems to be a potential quagmire, delivering questionable amounts of economically-sound nuggets, but served with generous portions of feel-good, religious nationalism.

‘Good days will surely come.’ Hunker down for turbulence and retrogression.

* a variety of home-made Indian yarn, which during colonial times, symbolized dissidence towards British effort to dump cheap, mass-produced English yarn/thread in Indian markets, while dismantling the domestic yarn industry.

An ex-dentist and a business graduate who is greatly influenced by American conservatism and western values. Having born and brought up in a non-western, third world country, he provides an ‘outside-in’ view on western values. As a budding writer and analyst, he is very much stoked about western culture and looks forward to expound and learn more. Mr. Malkar receives correspondence at saurabh.malkar[at]gmail.com. To read his 140-character commentary on Twitter, follow him at @saurabh_malkar

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Negative effects for Russia of the US-China Phase-One-Deal

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After a 1.5-year trade dispute between the United States and China in which both have raised mutual import tariffs from 3.8 percent and 8.3 percent to 21 percent each, and as a result of which the US-Chinese merchandise trade has dropped by almost USD 90 billion, US President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on January 15, 2020 signed the first phase of a highly controversial and fiercely negotiated trade agreement. On February 14, 2020 this so called “Economic and Trade Agreement” (ETA) entered into force and marked a new phase in the protracted geopolitical rivalry between Washington and Beijing.In this highly asymmetrical contract, the Chinese commit to open their market and to buy significantly more goods from the United States than before, which is in line with Trump’s wish for a lower trade deficit. This means a doubling of merchandise imports from the United States, because within two years Beijing is expected to increase spending on selected US goods by around USD 200 billion (compared to the base year 2017).In return for the Chinese concessions, Trump has only committed to waiving new tariffs and to halving the most punitive tariffs for a subset of products from the current 15 to 7.5 percent. In the usual American manner, this has so far only been promised as an oral understanding.According to the latest calculations by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), the purchase commitments can result in significant trade diversion effects and market share shifts for China’s trading partners. As a result, Brazil (-19 percent), the EU (-17 percent) – including above all Germany (-7 percent), and Russia (-10 percent) would have to expect the greatest export losses.Accordingly, Russian exports to China could be 10 percent lower by 2021, which is equivalent to a loss of USD 3.1 billion.

Russian energy exports hit hardest

US presidents have always tried to ensure American energy dominance. The “Nord-Stream 2” pipeline, which is to bring 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to the German and Western European markets annually, remains a thorn in Washington’s side, but the Phase-One-Deal gives the USA better access China’s energy market – the world’s most desirable.A recent study by the Institute of the German Economy (IW Köln) shows that due to the agreed energy imports, the US would move from eleventh place in 2017 (USD 6.8 billion) to first place (USD 41 billion) in 2021 in China’s supplier list of energy carriers. In absolute terms, Russian crude oil exports to China would be the most affected : by 2021 they could be 12 percent lower, corresponding to a loss of USD 2.5 billion.On a relative scale the artificial trade changes would also significantly affect other important Russian export sectors to China. Exports of soybeans could decrease by 25 percent or USD 10 million, of sunflower oil by 29 percent or USD 40 million, of coal by 10 percent or USD 180 million, of seafood by 9 percent or USD 100 million, of aircraft parts by as much as a third (USD 40 million).Furthermore, the agreement may jeopardize Moscow’s intention to become an important natural gas supplier for China. In December 2019, the “Power of Siberia” gas pipeline was put into operation, under which a supply contract of over 38 billion cubic meters per year was concluded with China for a period of 30 years. Additional quantities are expected to be sold through an LNG terminal in Vladivostok in the Asia-Pacific region. Accordingly, China is to become the second most important gas sales market to Russia after the EU. However, the trade diversions in the ETA agreement could result in China’s imports of liquefied natural gas from Russia dropping by 25 percent by 2021, representing a loss of USD 10 million.According to Dr. Sonja Beer, economist at IW Cologne, it is too early to say exactly which group of Russian energy exports to China will be affected most.“The problem is that the energy section of the agreement only says that China will buy liquefied natural gas, crude oil, coal, etc. from the United States, but does not indicate which of these product groups is to be given priority and to what extent. More precise calculations are therefore not yet possible. However, due to the high Chinese import tariffs for American LNG (25 percent), we can assume that China will concentrate more on buying crude oil in the USA. Especially since China announced earlier this month that it would halve the existing 5 percent tariff for crude oil. It is impossible to predict exactly how trade flows will change in this case, but this could adversely affect Russia and Saudi Arabia, the largest suppliers of crude oil to China”, Beer explains, adding: “If Chinese LNG tariffs are significantly reduced, Beijing could buy more gas from the United States. This, in turn, could adversely affect Australia and Qatar and the prospects of increasing the supply of Russian gas to the Chinese market”.

Phase-One-Deal violates WTO criteria

Dr. Gabriel Felbermayr, President of IfW Kiel, also criticize the new trade deal between China and the USA.“The deal leverages free market principles in favor of the USA and to the detriment of third parties. “Managed trade”, i.e. explicit agreements on trade volumes for certain product groups, also clearly violates the WTO guidelines and thus undermines the multilateral trading system”, argues Felbermayr.After the likely re-election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, protectionism and “managed trade” trends are expected to further intensify in the global economy, which is still dominated by the United States. In any case, such a “managed trade” agreement with China is not the first of its kind under Trump’s presidential administration. Already on September 25, 2019, the United States and Japan announced a trade agreement that hardly fulfills the criterion of “essentially complete trade” under Article XXIV of the GATT (WTO), since the scope of customs liberalization is very limited and asymmetrical in favor of the United States.

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Inflation and Economic Crisis in Pakistan

M.Abaid Manj

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Cooperation on International level to protect economy and financial markets is a good development, but in our country with sealed borders amid the killer virus fatalities, economy and financial market is in deep crisis. Prime Minister and his team are taking different measures ranging from domestic to international level, to win the war against the COVID-19 disease, but the fear and consternation forced investors to confine themselves to a limited investment in government and private sectors. Recently, government declared a state of emergency which again left adverse impacts on supply chain and flow of goods. Due to emergency, most companies and businesses are operating from home, but they are in deep financial crisis. All the Businesses across the country are badly affected including travel Industry. While crisis deepen, investors choose different way to save their investment.

The development of society depends on its needs. For this, there are some rules and regulations in every society that inculcate citizens to follow these rules and the way a country developed. From the borders of the country to the point of view, every person is tied to the chain of economics. The chains of this chain are so deep that every moment from the universe to the bedside they are interconnected. Every need of the world is related to money and the value of money depends on export and financial market’s fluctuation. For example, the value of dollar is converted into many rupees in Asia shows that where the currency stands against the dollar.

The source of inflation on a daily basis and the source of human identity, determines quality of life. The maturity of the foundation is seen revolving around the economic activities of individuals. There are many important points to influence individual forces and social decisions. But there are problems in the destinations when they are difficult to travel. Such destinations are always full of thorns. The jatts of the destination make the paths easy or difficult. It is possible for any community or regional head to rise only when its economic action is spoken of social values.

If the principles are made, Europe has adopted social and economic principles to further its agenda, and even we can say that they are following the streak what Islam suggested. If our state is talking about madina state, then it can be learned as a matter of fact, then the social patches can be straightforward, but the actions were considered to be very straightforward. It is known to be done. The life of the world is always a matter of humility, politicians are one of his inventions, and human being is not only a human being, but also the principle of compassion is also learned. The principle of humility is also one of those who make humans humble with humans. The principles of a human being become the destiny of an area.

The last several years of Pakistan’s economy were regarded as highly inflationary periods due to its political instability. Inflation has been the major obstacles in the way of development since years. The inflation adversely affected the country economic growth and financial sector development. Since the last six months, Pakistan received $8 billion in grants and loans from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China, but cannot be termed as the whole panacea for its financial and economic diseases. We need more help and more progress to stabilise our economy. International fuel prices have also cause inflation. The inflation hike is mainly due to the increasing prices of fuel and food, according to a PBS statement. The country GDP growth would remain close to 2.5% because of slowdown specifically in large scale manufacturing and agriculture sectors. According to macrotrends, the year 2018 average the inflation was 5.8%, which was quite low this year. If the average inflation of the budget 2016-17 was 4.1%, then the average inflation rate of 2017-18 was 2.9%. The rate of the year was 7.0%. According to the 2018- year of March 2019, inflation is 9.4% at the record level. According to the Pakistan bureau of statistics, the measurement of mingi is distributed to groups. In this group, cpi (consumer price index) includes nfne non-food and non-energy items. Oil, petrol, diesel, CNG, electricity and natural gas Inclusive. Their rates were recorded at 5.6% in July 2017-18 and 7.6% in 2018-19.But in the year 2017-18, the average rate was recorded 5.6% and the average rate of 2018-19 was 8.1% extra. After that, the effects of inflation were seen by dividing people into five groups in terms of income.

The first group was 8000-12000, which was 2.7% in 2017-18 and 4.9% in the year 2018-19. The second group is 8000-12000, which is 3.0% in the year 2018-19 in the year 2017-18. The third group was 12000-18000, which faced 3.1% in the year 2017-18 and 5.5% in the year 2018-19. What is the salary group? The fourth group is considered as a salary class, it has experienced an average rate of inflation in the year 2017-18 at 3.3% and 6.6% in the year 2018-19. In the end, more than 35,000 people included in the year 2017-18, who did not tolerate the rate of inflation from 4.4% in the year 2018-19 and 8.4% in the year 2018-19.

 If the annual average is taken out, 3.8% in the year 2017-18 and 7.0% in 2018-19. After that, if the wpi (wholesale price index) wholesale goods are spoken, the agricultural forestry and fish industry 7.4% in ores and minerals 14.31%, the clothing industry 13.79%, leather 33.07%, metal machinery 6.70%, and 21.15% in the transport goods were increased. The record was behind the inflation, the imf went to the previous government or the current government’s wrong policies. In the past sixty years, 6000 billion Pakistani rupees were one million twenty thousand, but in these two bells, one million sixty Thousands will be born. The current government has raised 11 thousand billion loans in different deal forms.

Every day in 2013, the PPP has taken 5 billion rupees every day, 2018 Muslim league-nawaz has spent 25 billion rupees every day. The poor people of Pakistan are considered to be the winners. From the people of the country, the thinking of government houses starts from home and ends in the end of the house. Because the nation in which the forgiveness of the dead is the prayer of the mpa of the area If you do not know what you’re looking for, then you will be able to get rid of it. If you do not know what you’re looking for, then you will be able to get rid of it. If you do not know what you’re looking for, then you will be able to get rid of it. The swords of doubts hang. Recognize the inner… economic and social values will be the dust of your feet…

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COVID-19 cruelly highlights inequalities and threatens to deepen them

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In many countries, income inequality has risen steeply since the 1980s, with adverse social and economic consequences. The COVID-19 pandemic now cruelly highlights those inequalities – from catching the virus, to staying alive, to coping with its dramatic economic consequences.

Some groups, such as migrant workers and workers in the informal economy, are particularly affected by the economic consequences of the virus. And women, who are over-represented in the public health sector, are particularly exposed.

High levels of poverty, informality and unprotected jobs also make it more difficult to contain the virus.

Policy responses must ensure that support reaches the workers and enterprises who need it most, including low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the self-employed and the many other vulnerable people. 

Everyone is at risk

While some workers can reduce their exposure to the risk of contagion by teleworking from home, or benefitting from preventive measures, many cannot because of pre-existing inequalities.

Across the world, 2 billion workers (61.2 per cent of the world’s employed population) are in informal employment. They are more likely to face higher exposure to health and safety risks without appropriate protection, such as masks or hand disinfectants. Many also live in cramped housing, sometimes without running water.

This not only exposes these workers to health risks, it also makes preventive measures for the wider population less effective.

Getting sick means becoming even poorer

Inequalities also play out cruelly in what happens to people when they catch the virus.

For some it means going on sick leave, accessing health services and continuing to receive a salary.

But for those at the bottom of the income chain it’s a catastrophic scenario. Many are not covered by health insurance and face a higher risk of mortality. They may not even have access to health services.

Even if they ultimately recover, the absence of income replacement benefits means that they can become even poorer. Every year, an estimated 100 million people fall into poverty as a result of catastrophic health expenses.

The “work or lose your income” dilemma

Governments and central banks have adopted large-scale measures to save jobs and enterprises, and provide workers with income support.

Unfortunately, not all workers or enterprises benefit from these measures.

For informal economy workers, reduced hours, due to the pandemic, means loss of income with no possibility of receiving unemployment benefits.

Informal micro and small enterprises that constitute 80 per cent of enterprises worldwide are generally out of reach of public policies.

Part-time workers, many of who are women, temporary workers, or workers under short-term contracts and in the digital gig economy are frequently not eligible for unemployment benefit or income support.

Many of them face the same “work or lose your income” dilemma as informal economy workers. To pay their food and other basic expenses they often continue to work until forced to stop by measures to limit contagion by the virus. This compounds the economic insecurity they already face.

We need equitable and inclusive policy responses

In adopting short-term responses to the crisis, urgent attention should be devoted to protecting low-income households.

This means income support measures broad enough to cover the most vulnerable workers and the enterprises that employ them.

Italy for example extended income support (80 per cent of the gross salary) to workers in enterprises with financial difficulties, to all economic sectors and to enterprises with less than 15 employees, which are normally not eligible. Lump-sum income compensation is also provided to the self-employed and external collaborators.

Spain is providing income support for the self-employed, members of cooperatives and workers whose employment has been temporarily suspended, even if they would not have normally received unemployment benefits.

In developing countries, informality and limited fiscal space add to the difficulties. However, income support could be extended through non-contributory social security schemes or existing cash transfer programs. Support could also be offered temporarily to informal enterprises.

ILO

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