Karnataka CM forced to shift meeting venue due to dead rat
At a meeting room in the Karnataka Vidhana Soudha last week, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa smelt a rat — quite literally.
The stench of the dead rat was so strong in the official premises that the CM was forced to move a series of meetings scheduled there to his chambers. Yediyurappa was to meet an Iranian delegation, among others.
Having been forced to move, the CM gave the officials involved in pest control and maintenance of the estate premises a piece of his mind.
“What impression are you creating for others? Don’t you keep your houses clean? Shouldn’t you treat this just like your house?”
These were some of the pointed questions Yediyurappa asked of the officials, who blamed the incident on old wooden structures in the building. The angry CM, however, didn’t have any of it.
Yediyurappa demanded an explanation for the poor maintenance and sought a report on the extent of pest control done within the premises of the seat of governance. The state spends close to Rs 25 lakh annually for pest control within Vidhana Soudha.
Modi govt is withholding another set of data now — tax collections
A new issue has cropped up over withholding of data under the Narendra Modi government.
Since January this year, the income tax department has stopped releasing monthly tax collections data, discontinuing a practice that was followed for a few years.
Prior to January, the tax department used to put out data on tax collections in the first week of every month detailing the tax collections in the previous month. The data included gross direct tax collections — including the break-up of personal income tax and corporate income tax collected as well as the refunds paid out. It also provided the amount of net tax collections adjusting for the refunds.
While the department’s move initially came as it withheld refunds to many corporates in the March quarter to meet aggressive targets, the practice continued in the current fiscal amid a sharp slowdown in collections.
The old practice was stopped just days before Central Board of Direct Taxes chairman Sushil Chandra took over as an Election Commission member in mid-February. His successor P.C. Mody hasn’t brought any changes yet.
The tax collections data is now available on the website of the Controller General of Accounts, but with a lag. Also, the data provides only the net taxes collected from corporate and personal income tax, without details of the amount of refunds.
This is not the first time that data has been withheld by the Modi government. It did the same with the NSSO job survey, which showed the unemployment rate at a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18. Scheduled to be released in December 2018, the data was eventually released only after the Lok Sabha elections upon the Modi government’s return to power.
The tax department has been under immense pressure to meet the direct tax collection targets set in the July budget.
E-cigarette makers’ lobby wanted to get noticed, and it did
With the Union Ministry of Health putting out a consultation draft on the vaping ban in public domain, a lobby of e-cigarettes manufacturers has started to work the narrative — and it’s doing so in novel way.
Instead of a traditional press note on a humble piece of paper, the lobby, Trade Representatives of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (TRENDS), has released a photo-framed note to media houses with a headline screaming, “Something is not right about the health ministry’s push for an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes.”
The framed press release accuses the ministry of executing the objectives of a powerful anti-tobacco lobby group based in the US, choosing not to name businessman Michael R. Bloomberg, who has announced a $160 million fund to ban flavoured e-cigarettes in America.
It goes on to blame the Modi government for securing funding from this anti-tobacco lobby. “The powerful lobby group has also funded state health departments to the extent that one northern state of India actually was among the first to ban e-cigarettes in the same year that it got funds from this group.”
TRENDS said it sent the frames costing about Rs 110 each, only to get noticed.
“Frankly, the frame costs less than a cup of coffee. The content of the press release is very important and needs attention by the busy editors. We have sent it to selected media people whose opinions matter,” the lobby’s convener Praveen Rikhy said.