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Congress gears up to corner BJP over PNB, Rotomac scam in the Budget Session

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Congress leader Manish Tewari said the party will not only raise the 11,400 crore PNB scam and Rotomac fraud, but also the issue of credibility of our banking sector.

The Punjab National Bank scam and the subsequent similar banking frauds are set to raise the pitch in the parliament’s budget session. After the multi-crores PNB Scam by diamantaire, Nirav Modi came to the fore, more such cases of businessmen defaulting the loan repayment have come to the light. After Nirav Modi and Mehul Chowksi, another banking scam by Rotomac pen’s Vikram Kothari created uproar in the country.

While the Modi government is blaming previous UPA government for this, the Congress, on the other hand, has pulled its socks to corner the government over banking scams in the budget session of the parliament. Congress said that it will also speak to other like-minded parties to build a front against the government.

“We will not let the issue go until we get a satisfactory answer from the government,” said the Congress Spokesperson Manish Tewari. Asserting that the party will focus on the issue of declining credibility of the banking sector, Tewari said, “We will not only question the government on the 11,400 crore PNB scam by Nirav Modi and Rotomac fraud, we will also raise the issue of credibility of our banking sector.”

Tewari said the Congress, which is the largest opposition party will seek the support of other opposition parties and parties that are hurt by the “Mal-governance” of the Modi government. “We will not keep quiet until the government addresses the issue and breaks its silence,” asserted Tewari.

He further added that the PNB scam is just a tip of the iceberg and demanded a government directive to all PSU banks asking for a declaration of all the non performing assets and the detailed list of loan defaulters. Tewari said the Congress will take up the issue further to masses and spread awareness about the banking fraud from the ground level.

Slamming Nirav Modi, he said that the letter written by him to PNB displays his “arrogance” and hints at Modi’s intentions of not returning the dues.

Accusing government of unleashing “political vendetta” over the notice served by IT department to the wife of Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi, Tewari asked whether the government has initiated any probe into who sanctioned the loans.

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Central government not in favour of slashing excise duty on fuel prices

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As mentioned by a senior official on Monday, the finance ministry is not in favour of cutting excise duty on fuel prices even though petrol prices hit a 55-month high in the national capital today at Rs 74.50 per litre, while diesel rates reached Rs 65.75. The finance ministry instead wants states to cut sales tax or Value Added Tax (VAT) on fuel, he added.

It must be mentioned that the government wants to reduce fiscal deficit to 3.3% of the GDP in the current fiscal from 3.5% of the last fiscal. “Excise duty cut would be a political call, but is not advisable if we have to stick to the fiscal deficit glide path outlined in Budget,” he said.

“Every rupee cut of excise on fuel will result in a loss of Rs 13,000 crore to the government,” the official said, adding that the oil ministry has not yet officially asked for a cut in fuel excise duty.

State-owned oil firms, which have been since June last year revising auto fuel prices daily, today raised petrol and diesel rates by 10 paise per litre each in Delhi, according to a price notification.

India has the highest retail prices of petrol and diesel among South Asian nations as taxes account for half of the pump rates.

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Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry and 3 Northeastern states to rollout intra-State e-way bill from April 25

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Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Meghalaya are the 3 northeastern states to join

The GST council on Monday announced the third phase of the e-way bill system for the intra-state transport of goods. From April 25 this system will be further applied in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, and Puducherry.

Till now the e-way bill system is applicable for intra-State transport in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.

The union government issued a release and said: “E-way bills are getting generated successfully and till 22nd April 2018, more than 1.84 crore e-way bills have been successfully generated which includes more than 22 lakh e-way bills for the intra-State movement of goods”.

“With the roll-out of e-way bill system in these States/union territory, it is expected that trade and industry will be further facilitated insofar as the transport of goods is concerned, thereby eventually paving the way for a nation-wide single e-waybill system,” the government further added.

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Home Ministry withdraws AFSPA from Meghalaya, eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh

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NEW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry on Monday in its gazette notification has withdrawn the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) from the state of Meghalaya as well as eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh.

The ministry has issued a statement that AFSPA has been revoked from all parts of Meghalaya and has been reduced from 16 police stations to eight, with effect from March 31, 2018.

Till September 2017, 40 percent of Meghalaya was under AFSPA.

The Congress member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh Ninong Ering has been opposing the extension of the AFSPA in some parts of the state, saying it was “misused by the army”. Ering said that in the name of the Act, the army “harassed and tortured” villagers.

AFSPA is now applicable only to 8 police stations in Arunachal, down from 16 police stations in 2017. The Home Ministry has also enhanced the aid under the surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy for militants in the northeast from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 4 lakh. The policy will be applicable from April 1, 2018.

The government also relaxed the restricted area permit and protected area permit for foreigners visiting Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland. Restrictions, however, will remain for “countries of concern”, which include Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was enacted in 1958 to bring under control what the government of India considered ‘disturbed’ areas.

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