CMYK THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 1 FEBRUARY 2018 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 20 |` 5.00|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR P6 SENSEX 35,965.02 -68.71 WEATHER Mainly clear sky with mist in some areas in the morning. Max and min temp to be 29 and 16 degree celsius, respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max.95% Min. 30% Max: 29.2°C (+2) SUN RISES 06:16 hrs MOON RISES 18.22 hrs Min: 15.2°C (-1) SUN SETS 17:25 hrs MOON SETS 06:43 hrs TEMPERATURE Moon first quarter on 10 February P10 NIFTY 11,027.70 -21.95 India aim for their 1st ODI series triumph on S African soil when they take on Proteas in a 6P12 match rubber, starting in Durban today. IAF officer held on charge of espionage: A Group Captain, posted at the IAF's headquarters in Delhi, has been taken into custody by the force for alleged involvement in espionage and possible attempt to access sensitive documents, official sources said. Investigators are probing whether the officer was a victim of honey trap as it is suspected he was sending pictures of classified documents to a P5 woman through WhatsApp. SC seeks Centre's response on Rohingyas: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the Centre's response on a plea that the BSF was stopping Rohingya refugees from entering India. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud sought the response as counsel Prashant Bhushan complained that the Border Security Force was preventing them from crossing the Myanmar border by "sprinkling chilli powder". Scorpene submarine: Indian Navy’s third Scorpene class submarine constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders was launched on Wednesday by Mrs Reena Lanba, president of the Navy Wives Welfare Association, after the recitation of Sanskrit shlokas from the Atharva Veda and traditional ceremonies associated with the launch of naval platforms. She also named the submarine ‘Karanj’ and wished her P3 good fortune. Kasganj prime accused arrested: The prime accused in the murder of Chandan Gupta in Kasganj was arrested on Wednesday as the strife-torn Uttar Pradesh town, hit by communal clashes last week, moved towards normalcy despite tension in some pockets, officials said.The UP government submitted a report on the incidents in Kasganj to the Union Home Ministry conveying that the police were probing the violence and whether it was preplanned, an official said. “Saleem, the main accused, has been nabbed,” IG, Aligarh said. P3 CECH AT FAULT AS GUNNERS SLUMP TO DEFEAT P2 ` vs $ 63.58 +2 PAISE GOLD 29,290.00 +25.00 Army gives its version of Shopian firing P11 SILVER 39,300.00 00.00 BRENT CRUDE (IN $) 68.66 -0.36 CELESTIAL SHOW ‘Forces fired in self-defence as convoy was attacked’ PRESS TRUST OF INDIA BJP in a fix over FIR against major SRINAGAR, 31 JANUARY he Army has submitted its version of the January 27 incident, when its convoy was attacked in Shopian district, to the Jammu and Kashmir Police and explained its reasons for opening fire at the stone pelting mob, officials said today. According to the Army's narrative, submitted yesterday, the force's convoy was attacked by a group of stone pelters and its personnel resorted to firing to save themselves, the officials said. The Army's version comes after the state police registered an FIR about the incident in Ganovpora area of Shopian in south Kashmir in which two youths were killed. One more person succumbed to his injuries today, raising the toll to three. It has claimed it opened firing in self defence after seven of its personnel were injured. The Army has also submitted photographs of the vehicles damaged in the stone-pelting. The state government has ordered a magisterial probe into the T THUMBNAILS ‘COUNTRY HAS NOT SEEN ENOUGH OF RAHUL AS A PERSON’ IMMIGRATION TOPS IN STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS AN EXCEPTIONAL REVOLUTIONARY NEW DELHI, 31 JANUARY incident. The FIR filed by the state police names no accused but states that a company of 10 Garhwal led by Major Aditya was on its way for official duty when it was attacked by an unruly mob with stones. Police has filed an FIR under sections 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others), 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code, which is similar to the IPC but applicable only in Jammu and Kashmir. The Shopian incident became a bone of contention between the state's ruling alliance partners PDP and BJP. A BJP legislator demanded on the floor of the House that the FIR be cancelled. This was, however, turned down by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who said the FIR will be taken to its logical conclusion. The ruling BJP was in the line of fire on Wednesday after the party's ally in Jammu and Kashmir, the PDP said the FIR against , Major Aditya of 10 Garhwal Rifles for alleged murder under Section 320 was filed after getting Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's permission. BJP spokesmen Sambit Patra and Amit Malviya said the FIR could be set aside in a court of law. Senior BJP leader and MP Subramanian Swamy demanded the Defence Minister's clarification on the FIR against Major Aditya. “If she doesn't give a clarification by the morning of February 2, I will raise the issue in the House," Swamy said. He earlier said: “Tell CM to withdraw the FIR, else her government would be SNS toppled." During the lunar eclipse as seen from Kolkata on Wednesday. Kolkata joined millions of sky watchers to witness a lifetime spectacle of Bluemoon Total Lunar Eclipse, which last happened on 30 December,1982. It is after 35 years that such a show is happening for the sky enthusiasts from India. Moreover, the occurrence of a Supermoon, which looked DILIP DUTTA bigger than the average full moon has enhanced the interest of the general people and students. BJP, Cong spar over jacket PRESS TRUST OF INDIA This is one jacket over which both the BJP and the Congress are finding it hard to keep their shirts on. The political arch rivals tore into each other after the Meghalaya unit of the BJP in an apparent bid to , get even with Rahul Gandhi over his “suit-boot” jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claimed the Congress chief wore a jacket worth Rs 63,000 to a concert in Shillong yesterday. “So @OfficeOfRG, soot(pun intended!)-boot ki sarkar with black money fleeced from Meghalayan State exchequer by rampant corruption? Instead of singing away our woes, you could have given a report card of your inefficient govt in Meghalaya! Your indifference mocks us!,” the BJP's Meghalaya unit tweeted. The party's state unit also tweeted an image of Sops in state budget in rural poll year STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA, 31 JANUARY With an eye on panchayat polls, the state government today announced a slew of social welfare schemes and sops in the 2018-19 state budget. Finance minister Amit Mitra presented the Rs 214,958.75 crore budget in the Assembly with a focus on the rural populace particularly farmers, low and middle income groups and women. In his 15-minute budget speech, Mr Mitra proposed no new taxes nor increased the existing tax rates but announced special corpus funds for preventing distress sale of farmers, the specially challenged and the poor bride's families for marriage of their girls. He announced a one per cent cut in stamp duty on purchase of flats or homestead land ranging between Rs 40 lakh and one crore, provid- ing the much needed relief to the housing sector. In urban areas, the stamp duty will be reduced from seven to six per cent while in rural areas it will be reduced from six to five per cent. However, the budget failed to lay down any plan to get the state out of the financial mess. Bengal's own tax revenue was about Rs 56000 crore in 2017-18, but it has to cough up Rs 52,000 crore to service outstanding debt, and another Rs 50,000 crore on salaries, pensions and a Burberry jacket, similar to the one that Gandhi wore, having a price tag of USD 995 (little over Rs 63,000). In another tweet, the BJP alleged the Congress government in Meghalaya was mired in corruption. It said instead of attending a musical event, Gandhi should have given a report card of the state government. Out on the hustings in the hill state, an unfazed Gandhi fired his “suit-boot ki sarkar” salvo at Modi afresh, saying he was always found in the company of people attired in suits. SHILLONG/NEW DELHI, 31 JANUARY subsidies. The state economy is facing a near Rs 3 lakh crore debt burden. Mr Mitra announced a Rs 100 crore corpus fund to stop distress sale and said: “With the excessive agricultural productions, the prices of agro commodities fall and farmers have no alternative but to sell their produce at lower prices. They face a financial crunch. To avoid the distress sale and ensure proper prices for farmers’ produce, chief minister has proposed the special fund”. Mitra said the agro economy depends on the cash driven transactions due to “lack of banking services in the rural areas” and it was “badly affected due to the Centre’s demonetisation move”. The government also increased the monthly pension of farmers from Rs 750 to Rs 1000 and increased the number of beneficiaries from 66,000 to one lakh. This means that an additional 34,000 farmers would be able to avail pension. Next, announcement was made on waiving agriculture tax for tea industry for the next two fiscal. The tea industry has been exempted from paying education cess and rural employment cess. Mr Mitra announced a new allowance scheme named ‘Manabik’ for the specially challenged people and allotted Rs 250 crore for the scheme. Under this, specially challenged people with above 50 per cent disability will receive Rs 1000 per month. The existing scheme wherein 44,000 specially challenged people with 40 per cent disability get a monthly pension of Rs 750 month will continue alongside the new scheme, Mr Mitra said. Another new scheme, ‘Rupashree’ was announced to help poor families in the marriage of their daughters. Under the scheme, families with annual income of below Rs 1.5 lakh will get a one-time grant of Rs 25,000 during the marriage of their daughters aged above 18 years or above. The state has allotted Rs 1,500 crore for the scheme. This will be in addition to the one-time grant of Rs 25,000 under Kanyashree scheme, under which a girl gets to pursue studies in college or for marriage after she attains the age of 18.The FM said 8.92 lakh employment has been ensured. TURN TO PAGE 5 Driver’s fault, says CM SNS KOLKATA/BEHRAMPO RE, 31 JANUARY Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said that it was the driver's fault that led to the loss of 43 lives. Miss Banerjee lashed out at the Congress for preventing fire brigade personnel and state administration from reaching out to the victims. "The rescuers could save eight lives. If the fire brigade personnel and rescue team along with SP DM were , not prevented from going to the spot on time, may be we could have saved more lives,'' the chief minister said. She said that ,"I would ask the police officers to take adequate mea- sures against those who have created violence and prevented rescue work.'' She said that there was a golden rule ~ when there is a catastrophe we should first help the people to get out of danger. But the Opposition, here, are more interested in creating commotion and thus preventing rescue work. The bus fell 35 feet deep and got stuck in the silt. The wires of the crane got snapped several times. The divers too risked their lives for the victims. The state government will construct crash barriers, a strong fence at the side of all flyovers and bridges that will reduce the risk of serious accidents, the CM said. All eyes on Union Budget: FM may do a balancing act PRASHANT MUKHERJEE NEW DELHI, 31 JANUARY The salaried class will be listening closely when the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rises to present his last full Union Budget speech, before the 2019 elections, on Thursday. The question uppermost in everybody's minds is whether Jaitley will be factoring in poll considerations to present a populist budget. To ensure investors' confidence, Jaitley is expected to maintain a fine balance in containing the fiscal deficit, while increasing spending in key areas of the slowing economy and addressing pressing issues of agricultural distress, job creation and boosting growth. Continuing last year’s trend, Jaitley may consider some manoeuvring in the personal income tax to pro- vide relief to the middle-class. The salaried class may expect some changes in Section 80C. Under the section, an individual, currently, can reduce up to Rs 1,50,000 from the total taxable income. The government may hike this exemption to Rs 2 lakh per annum. Even as the Economic Survey 2017-18 authored by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian noted that the government will continue with its reform agenda, the government has already formed a task force under the chairmanship of Arbind Modi to revamp the more than 50 -year-old Income Tax Law, 1961, for a major direct tax overhaul. However, the task force is expected to submit its report only by May or June. Stock market participants remain nervous after the government's annual Economic Survey tabled in Parliament on Monday where the chief economic advisor called for higher vigilance and staged a probability of sharp corrections in elevated stock prices. The shortfall in revenues in the government kitty may allow the Finance Minister to do away with the capital gains tax exemption from the investment made in the stock market. Bimal Jalan, former Reserve Bank of India Governor, said, “The upcoming Budget will most probably abolish the tax exemption.” At a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 9 January, several economists were of the opinion that the government should increase tax incidence on gains in the equity market, which currently enjoys the lowest tax rate. Speaking at a SEBI event on 24 December 2016, Modi had highlighted the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, along with ministers of state Shiv Pratap Shukla and Pon Radhakrishnan, gives final touches to the Union Budget 2018-19 at his office at North Block in the capital on Wednesday. SNS government’s agenda to raise taxes for the stock market. But unlike Jaitley’s previous four Budget exercises the expectations from this year’s Budget are relatively subdued because the major portion under indirect tax has come CMYK under the Goods and Services Tax (GST). However, small and medium businesses, which have traditionally formed the core support base of the BJP may get some sops , to ease the pain caused to them from the twin blows of demonetisation and chaotic rollout of GST. Also on Jaitley’s agenda would be increasing spending on infrastructure projects like highways and modernisation of railways to boost economic growth that is at a four-year low. Hit hard by demonetisation and some policy reforms like the implementation of RERA and GST, the real estate sector is betting big on the Budget for revival of its fortunes and is looking towards the Finance Minister with much hope. Pratibha Advani, chief financial officer of Tata Com- munications, said, “A reduction in the corporate and dividend tax rate and the abolition of all surcharges and cess would go a long way in bolstering organisations and helping them build a significant competitive edge in the global economy.” She added that a reduction in the Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) rates would also be very welcome. However, Jaitley who promised to reduce corporate tax rates from 30 per cent to 25 per cent over four years is unlikely to do so. Sachchidanand Shukla, chief economist of Mahindra Group ,said, “GST revenues have not stabilised, hence there is lack of resources. I don’t think the government will have room to substantially reduce corporate tax rates in line with the 25 per cent commitment.” Last year, the Modi government decided to end the 92-year-old practice of holding a separate Railway Budget speech and instead merged it with the main Budget. The Railway Budget always assumed great significance and is likely to get more space unlike last year. There is unlikely to be any fare hike or announcement of new trains, as the budget is likely to earmark Rs 95,000 crore for overall modernisation, upgradation in rail infrastructure including signalling automation, replacement of age-old tracks and other assets. Amid rising global crude oil prices, a recent spike in inflation, tightening cash conditions, worries about fiscal slippage and dipping of the GST collections, Jaitley is expected to do a tightrope walk while presenting the Budget.
The Statesman is one of India's oldest English newspapers. It was founded in Kolkata in 1875 and is directly descended from The Friend of India (founded 1818). The Englishman (founded 1821) was merged with The Statesman in 1934. The Delhi edition of The Statesman began publication in 1931. The Statesman Weekly is a compendium of news and views from the Kolkata and Delhi editions. Printed on airmail paper, it is popular with readers outside India. The Statesman (average weekday circulation approximately 180,000) is a leading English newspaper in West Bengal. The Sunday Statesman has a circulation of 230,000.