Technology being harnessed to help self employment
By HP Ranina/NRI Problems
Indians queue at a job centre. — File photo
Question: With elections in India around the corner, will there be any sops or incentives to boost employment opportunities for the large number of young who may be first time voters?
ANSWER: The government’s main thrust has been to build a huge workforce of self employed persons, be they in a business or a profession. For the youth, self employment has now become a popular option as they have access to diverse income sources and flexible timings. However, this growing sector faces challenges like irregular income, lack of social benefits, and regulatory hurdles. To overcome these challenges, the government is encouraging use of technology by investing in digital platforms, artificial intelligence and machine learning. This would improve operations, match skills more efficiently and speed up the identification of young prospective entrepreneurs. Further, a systematic data base for inter and intra-state migrants is being created which would help to understand the mobility patterns. Technology is also being used to provide social security benefits through platforms like Labour Mitra.
The government is of the view that investing in technology will streamline processes, reduce human error and mitigate unfair practices. The transient nature of work leaves the self employed with lack of health insurance, housing and retirement benefits. Budgetary funds are being allocated to address these issues. Further, investments in skill development and training programmes are being made to ensure that young entrepreneurs remain competitive in a rapidly evolving environment.
Question: The trade deficit in India has reduced in December 2023. Is this on account of rise of exports in goods and services?
ANSWER: The trade deficit has been reduced to US $ 19.8 billion for December 2023 primarily on account of import of goods declining by 4.7% to US $ 58.3 billion. The reduction in the import bill is partly on account of lower value of crude and refined products due to fall in commodity prices. On the other hand, exports of electronic goods, engineering items, pharmaceutical products, and gems and jewellery have recorded an increase. According to the Commerce Department, India hopes to beat the global trends in the January-March 2024 quarter and register further growth. However, challenging conditions in the Red Sea may put hurdles in the growth of exports. Services exports are showing a robust trend and will be on target for the financial year 2023-24. During the preceding fiscal year 2022-23, goods and services exports were US $ 776 billion and the figures for the current fiscal year 2023-24 are expected to be higher. With the fall in the trade deficit and the rising invisible receipts from tourism and inward remittances, the foreign exchange reserves may rise beyond US $ 625 billion which has been the highest figure so far.
H. P. Ranina is a practising lawyer, specialising in tax and exchange management laws of India.
Question: No announcements have been made on Budget day which will give any benefit to tax payers in India. Have I missed out anything?
ANSWER: One important announcement which has been made by the finance minister in her budget speech is that pending tax demands upto Rs25,000 will be waived provided they were upto the financial year 2009-10. Pending demands for the financial years 2010-11 to 2014-15 will be waived upto Rs10,000. This means that tax payers having disputed tax demands upto the aforesaid limits for the specified financial years would not be recoverable hereafter and the demands will stand cancelled. However, there is no clarity as to whether these tax demands of Rs25,000 or Rs10,000, as the case may be, include interest which is generally levied on the unpaid amount of tax dues. This clarification will be issued in due course by the Central Board of Direct Taxes. However, it is reasonable to assume that what is mentioned by the Finance Minister refers to the figure of pending amount of tax because if the tax is waived the interest would automatically stand annulled. It is expected that this benefit of waiver will give relief to around 10 million tax payers.
HP Ranina is a practising lawyer, specialising in tax and corporate laws of India.
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