My dear brothers and sisters of All India Federation of Tax Practitioners,
Happy New Year and good wishes for Lohri, Pongal, Bhiu and Makar Sankranti.
From 1st January, 2018 there had been new beginning in respect of several matters. President, Secretary and Treasurer assumed respective offices on 2nd January, 2018 after taking oath at Delhi in a programme graciously hosted by the outgoing President Smt. Prem Lata Bansal. It is a new beginning for 2018. A sunrise is God’s way of saying, ‘Let’s start again. Every day is a new beginning, problems and mistakes of yesterday are now just memories of a lesson learnt. A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that balances are correct. Great is the art of beginning.’ The new team has assumed office to serve the fraternity with zeal, dedication and enthusiasm to bring in some new development, new thinking.
We have fixed a National Executive Committee meeting on 20th January, 2018 in Kolkata to chalk out the programme for the year 2018, the final programme as prepared by the Executive Body shall be circulated for your information.
The year 2018 has started with the big bang. The budget has been preponed from 28th February to
1st February breaking the convention of last several years. The first change that was brought in budget by the present Government is that in place of presenting the budget at 5:00 p.m. in the evening it was presented in the Lok Sabha at 11:00 a.m. since we are no more ruled by the British Government and there was no need to wait for the sunrise in England. The preponement of the date is another positive step taken by the Government for the simple reason that when the budget is presented on 28th February it takes time to go through in Lok Sabha and later in Rajya Sabha that resulted into delay in fund allocation affecting the ongoing projects. The rainy season further delays the projects. To get over this anomalous situation, the Government has now preponed the date for presentation of the budget from 28th February to 1st February with the sole intention to pass it from both the Houses before March to expedite the fund allocation.
The GST Act and procedure is almost settled now but for certain glitches that may occur due to several reasons like congestion in the website, lack of speed of internet. The Government had been quite proactive to remove the difficulties faced by the business and our fraternity in particular and had been promptly issuing notifications and making improvements in the software to address the difficulties faced which has given a positive result and I am hopeful that in 2018 the system will be improved in such a way that all the work of GST will be completed smoothly and without any difficulty. I am afraid that since now GST is purely digitalised eventually some of our members will loose part of work as ultimately it is going to be easy and user friendly for the computer operator or the educated assessee himself who are technology savvy to be able to upload their returns and other requirements of GST themselves. This is further going to be supported by the software development companies who have come in the market providing accounting software those are GST compliant.
It is time for us to revisit the facilities which we are providing to our clients. We will be able to survive in the field only if we are service oriented. Therefore, we have to ponder on this issue and to work out the strategy, that how with the help of technology, we can serve our clients in a way, that paying of the fees does not come as a pain in the neck of our clients. I invite suggestions from all our friends that how we can improve our systems, our procedures of serving our clients so that they stay with us in spite of the things become easier for them for making compliance.
This year there was great upheaval in the judicial system because of a press conference organised by four senior Judges of the Supreme Court. The things have been brewing from long time and judiciary was sufferer of autocratic behaviour of its leaders and some time judges at large. We at the receiving end have been feeling it that at many a time a reasonable time is not allowed to the petitioners to present their matter before the Court. In any case, bringing internal disputes by way of press conference in public is not a healthy example. The judiciary being main pillar of the democracy plays most important part in our Constitutional system. It is our only refuge to get over the atrocities of administration and politicians. If the same disease enters into the judicial system then the public has no place or no forum to redress their grievance, the feeling of the insecurity cannot be avoided. The latest newspaper news wherein it has been said that no outside intervention is desired and matter will be settled within four walls of the judiciary has again shown us a ray of hope of belief. We just hope and trust that the issues raised by the four Judges shall be within the closed doors of the judiciary or else it will result into weakening of the third important pillar of democracy that is our judicial system.
I salute the judgment of Bombay High Court in the case of Sales Tax Tribunal Bar Association vs. State of Maharashtra in W.P. No. 2069/2016 dated 28th and 29th September, 2017
wherein directions have been issued by the Bombay High Court in respect of appointment of members of Maharashtra State Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal. This reminds us that recent amendment by Finance Act 2017 and insertion of section 252A in the Income-tax Act in respect of appointments of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Members is a matter of great concern to us. The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal was the first Tribunal created by the Government and it has shown exemplary performance and has proved to be saviour of taxpayers from the arbitrary onslaught of revenue authorities but the system of appointment of members as proposed is adopted; The quality of members will definitely deteriorate resulting into diminishing the credibility of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. Public interest litigation has been filed in Delhi High Court in this respect and AIFTP might consider filing of similar PIL in other High Courts or before the Supreme Court to save the integrity of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.
I leave it to our members to apply their minds on these issues and give us a feedback so that the appropriate action wherever needed may be taken by our organisation. We are planning a National Tax Seminar with NEC meeting in Vadodara (Gujarat). I request the participation of members in large number in the said Seminar. The dates of Seminar are 17th and 18th March, 2018.
We are proposing to publish the Directory of Members of All India Federation of Tax Practitioners as soon as possible and we are working hard in that direction. We have sent the list of Members zone wise and city wise to the Vice President and the Chairman of the respective zones. However, I request all the members to extend their fullest cooperation in this respect and submit the form i.e., being published in this journal to the Head Office giving particulars as desired in the enclosed form so that the latest information regarding our members can be compiled and a consolidated directory of the membership of entire India may be published. I feel it will be very useful for all our members.
I thank you all for extending your co-operation and looking forward for similar help and co-operation to serve you in the best possible manner.
Ganesh N. Purohit