Saturday, May 31, 2008

Farmers gain from big retail, no loss to kirana stores: ICRIER

New Delhi (PTI): Amid a debate on whether organised retail kill livelihood of mom and pop store owners, an official study on Monday said there was no real threat to neighbourhood 'kirana' stores from modern retail chains.

In fact, farmers as also consumers stand to gain from organised retail in terms of competitive pricing, says the government-sponsored study.

There is "no evidence of a decline in overall employment in the unorganised sector as a result of the entry of organised retailers," said the report by think tank ICRIER.

However, it admitted that initially, mom-and-pop stores located in the vicinity of big malls have seen drop in sales and profit, but the impact would disappear in the long run.

It said farmers benefit significantly from direct sales to organised retailers. "Profit realisation for farmers selling directly to organised retailers is about 60 per cent higher than that received from selling in the mandi."

At a time when inflation is impacting the household budget, consumers have "definitely gained" from organised retail on multiple counts. "While all income groups saved through the entry of the organised retail purchases, lower income consumers saved more," it said.

The much-awaited study has recommended nationwide uniform licensing policy to facilitate "modern retailing" which will help take India's total retail sector to a whopping 590 billion dollars in 2011-12.

The document which has been submitted to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, however, did not deal with the impact of foreign direct investment on small retailers.

"This study has nothing to do with the impact of FDI on retail," ICRIER CEO and Director Rajiv Kumar said releasing the findings.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Indian Standards

I have been working on a transport project for some time. During the visits to Government offices, I asked them about the standards prescribed by Government in cases of road construction, pedestrian sidewalks, pedestrian crossway's etc. Everyone gave me the usual answer; it will be available in the other office. when i repeat the same question in the next office, they would also have some other offices to enquire. After three months, i realized that there is no standard available in these offices. Some one referred to Indian Road Congress website. Unfortunately, their website reflects how chaotic our transport system is; we may need to put up signal system there also to search for the paths we need to take to search for the document. Some one suggested Bureau of Indian Standards. When i went to their website, i could not digest the value of existence of such an organization in India.

Later, I downloaded many standards from other websites. But there has not been any Indian website i could search for the Indian Standards. Probably, all of them would have thought about the essence of such a information system when India is on the way to Integrate herself with the rest of the world!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More defence papers come under RTI ambit-India-The Times of India

In a move that could open the floodgates for Right to Information (RTI) applications in the defence forces, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has allowed approach papers and notings (documents with remarks related to the officer by his superior) to be put before the review selection board, to be disclosed within 10 days.

CIC had earlier ordered that proceedings of the department promotion committees (DPCs) could be disclosed. In his recent order, chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said that since DPCs were not treated as documents exempted under the RTI Act, except those that dealt with annual confidential reports, the documents demanded by the appellant should be disclosed.

Lucknow resident Col (retd) Inder Paul had appealed to the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) — the medical wing of the defence forces — for approach papers related to review selection board meetings held on January 14 and August 8, 2003.

The appeal was rejected by the first appellate authority on the premise that disclosure of the DPC would lead to disclosing of ACRs that was barred. Paul's second appeal was also rejected on similar grounds following which he approached the CIC.

In the order, CIC said that the documents should be given to Paul within 10 days and directed MoD to put forth any objections on record within the time limit.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

You can ask for I-T returns of political parties

CIC Allows It Under RTI Act

New Delhi: In a ruling that will open financial activities of political parties to public scrutiny, the Central Information Commission has said citizens can seek income tax returns of the parties to get details on their funding.

he landmark decision, bringing political parties within the ambit of the RTI Act, came on an appeal of an NGO — Association of Democratic Reforms — seeking disclosure of income tax returns and assessment orders pertaining to such organizations.

“The laws of the land do not make it mandatory for politi
cal parties to disclose sources of their funding and even less so the manner of expending those funds. In the absence of such laws, the only way a citizen can gain access to the details of funding of political parties is through I-T returns filed annually with I-T authorities,” information commissioner A N Tiwari said.

CIC said since political parties influence the exercise of political power, transparency in their organization and functions, and more particularly, their means of funding is a democratic imperative and, therefore, is in public interest.

“There is unmistakable public interest in knowing
these funding details which would enable the citizen to make an informed choice about the political parties to vote for,” CIC said in its 24-page order. I-T authorities, in response to the plea, claimed that the information, containing details on commercial activities of political parties, were exempt under the RTI Act. They said that I-T returns were “confidential” in nature as they were submitted by the assessees in fiduciary capacity. Referring to various rulings of the Supreme Court — bringing transparency in the functioning of political parties and their funding — CIC held that every citizen is entitled to seek information from the I-T department, either under I-T Act or RTI Act. It, however, held that permanent account number of those parties, whose I-T returns are to be sought, should not be disclosed as there was a possibility of the information being subjected to fraudulent use.

All parties except CPI and CPM had objected to disclosure of information on their I-T returns. Congress had termed the appellant as “busybody having malafide intent” and accused it of seeking information for “ulterior motives”. BJP claimed I-T returns were confidential information, parting with which would amount to infringement of certain privacy rights of the members of the political parties. The response of as many as 20 political parties had come on the notices issued by CIC. The law and justice ministry, however, had refused to express its opinion on the subject saying its views could be in conflict with the interest of the public authority against whom CIC may pass an order in this regard.

Earlier, the EC had said political parties were not required to furnish information about their I-T returns to it under the law. PTI


Income tax dept says I-T returns are confidential in nature and exempted under RTI Act
Election Commission says parties not bound by law to disclose I-T returns to it
Law ministry withholds opinion, saying its views could be in conflict with the interest of the public authority against whom CIC may pass an order
Except CPM and CPI, other parties oppose disclosure of I-T returns