1.Cabinet approves setting up of Rail Development Authority
The Union government has approved the setting up Rail Development Authority (RDA), an independent regulator to recommend passenger and freight fares and set service level benchmarks. Setting up of RDA will help improve the services offered to passengers, provide comfort to investors and enhance transparency and accountability.
The RDA will be formed through an executive order of the government, according to the cabinet decision. The need of having a rail regulator has been emphasized by various committees for past many years since 2001. This includes Expert Group under the Chairmanship of Rakesh Mohan in 2001, the National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC) in 2014 and Bibek Debroy’s Committee in 2015 (Committee for Restructuring of Railway Ministry and Railway Board).
Following are the key highlights and functionalities of the newly formed RDA:
1) It will make suggestions regarding policies for private investment to ensure reasonable safeguards to PPP investors and to resolve disputes over future concession agreements.
The RDA will act within the parameters of the Railway Act, 1989 and its major functions will be tariff determination and recommending principles for classification of commodities, framing principles for social service obligation and guidelines for track access charge.
It will also be responsible for setting efficiency and performance standards besides global best practices and benchmarking.
The Authority will have a Chairman and 3 members and can engage experts from relevant areas. The Chairman and the members of RDA will have a term of five years and can be removed by the central government on certain grounds like insolvency, conviction, misbehaviour, physical and mental incapability.
RDA will help the government to take appropriate decisions on pricing of services commensurate with costs, suggest measures for enhancement of non-fare revenue, protection of consumer interests, promoting competition, encouraging market development and creating a positive environment for investment.
6) The authority will also suggest measures for absorption of new technologies and human resource development and provide a framework for non-discriminatory open access to the Dedicated Freight Corridor infrastructure.
2. CBEC releases draft rules on Assessment and Audit under GST and E-Way Bill
The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has released two new draft rules on ”Assessment and Audit” under GST and ”Electronic Way Bill (e-way bill)” in the public domain on 14th April 2017. The key highlights of the rules are as under:
(a) Assessment and Audit
The rules provide for detailed procedure and forms to be led in connection with scrutiny of returns, provisional, final and best judgement assessment. Specifically, every registered person requesting for payment of tax on a provisional basis in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1) of section 60 shall furnish an application in FORM GST ASMT-01, along with the documents in support of his request, electronically through the Common Portal, either directly or through a Facilitation Centre notified by the Commissioner. Forms are also provided for special audit to be conducted by chartered accountant/cost accountant in certain specified cases.
(b) E-Way Bill
The rules mandate the generation of e-way bills for movement of goods of value exceeding Rs 50,000, that tax officials can inspect anytime during transit to check tax evasion. E-way bill will have to be issued online on the GST common portal and it can be cancelled only within 24 hours of its issuance. The person in-charge of conveyance will be required to carry the invoice or bill of supply or delivery challan, as per the draft electronic way (e-way) bill rules that have been released by the CBEC.
The Government had invited comments on these draft rules from the stakeholders by 21st April 2017.
3. CBEC releases draft rules on GST
The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has released three new draft rules on Accounts and Records, Appeals and Revision, and Advance Ruling under GST, in the public domain on 19th April 2017. The notable aspects of the rules are as follows:
Draft Accounts and Records Rules
The rules provide for specific records to be maintained by the following categories of persons:
Source: CII Economy Matters April 2017