You are browsing the archive for 2015 February 23.

Avatar of admin

by admin

India's Next Budget Needs a Vision for Leading Asia

February 23, 2015 in Economics

By Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

Does Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have a fiscal vision that can inspire and stir the blood? He will present his second budget on February 28. His first effort was a patchwork affair in the middle of the last fiscal year after winning the general election. Jaitley then lacked time for a major fiscal overhaul; this time he must deliver.

He should frame his budget as the first step in India becoming the leading Asian tiger. Toward this end, he should pledge to reform India’s direct tax rates and practices to compete with the best in the Asian neighborhood.

Back in 1997, Finance Minister Chidambaram presented a vision of competing with ASEAN in import duties as a first step to becoming an economic tiger. This meant reducing India ’s standard import tariff from 50 percent to 8-10 percent in stages. This vision was adopted by succeeding finance ministers of other parties, and the target of ASEAN equivalence was met in 2004. This helped accelerate GDP growth to over 8 percent over the next five years.

India’s 2015 budget will need to address several key areas.”

Jaitley should follow the same path with regards to direct taxes. India’s maximum income tax rate of 33.9 percent is well above that of Singapore, but competitive with most other Asian states. But its corporate tax rate of 34 percent is much higher than in China (25 percent), Thailand (20 percent), Malaysia (25 percent), and Indonesia (25 percent). India should cut its rate to 25 percent, and simultaneously trim its multitude of tax exemptions, to be more in line with competing countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently promised an end to “tax terrorism.” Unable to meet revenue targets in recent years, Indian taxmen have cracked down in irrational ways on supposed tax evasion by multinationals like Vodafone and Shell. Jaitley should aim to grow revenue by attracting additional investment rather than through tax terrorism. He should align India’s transfer pricing rules, advance tax rulings, and other tax practices with those of Asian competitors.

Jaitley aims for a constitutional amendment to create a unified Goods and Services Tax (GST) in place of the current complicated system that divides powers of indirect taxation between the central and state governments. The existing system leads to tax cascades and huge opportunities for corruption and evasion. Experts estimate that a unified GST could raise GDP by 2-2.5 percent. But …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

US Wants to Hack Your Phone Because It Doesn't Have Real Spies It Needs

February 23, 2015 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington

Patrick G. Eddington

As Google’s Android smartphone operating system was coming under attack in fall 2012 from malware with the colorful names of “Loozfon” and “FinFisher,” the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center issued an alert to help defend against the threat. “Depending on the type of phone,” the FBI said, “the operating system may have encryption available. This can be used to protect the user’s personal data.”

How times have changed.

Last fall, when Apple and Google announced they were cleaning up their operating systems to ensure that their users’ information was encrypted to prevent hacking and potential data loss, FBI Director James Comey attacked both companies. He claimed the encryption would cause the users to “place themselves above the law.”

The tech community fired back. “The only actions that have undermined the rule of law,” Ken Gude wrote in Wired, “are the government’s deceptive and secret mass-surveillance programs.”

Instead of fighting the modern encryption revolution, the government should be embracing it.”

The battle resumed in February 2015. Michael Steinbach, FBI assistant director for counterterrorism, said it is “irresponsible” for companies like Google and Apple to use software that denies the FBI lawful means to intercept data.

Yet the FBI does have a lawful means to intercept it: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Its scope was vastly expanded by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

It’s worth noting that the FBI never asked Congress to force tech companies to build “back doors” into their products immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Only after Google and Apple took steps to patch existing security vulnerabilities did the bureau suddenly express concern that terrorists might be exploiting this encryption.

In fact, the bureau has a host of legal authorities and technological capabilities at its disposal to intercept and read communications, or even to penetrate facilities or homes to implant audio and video recording devices. The larger problem confronting the FBI and the entire U.S. intelligence community is their over-reliance on electronic technical collection against terrorist targets.

The best way to disrupt any organized criminal element is to get inside of it physically. But the U.S. government’s counterterrorism policies have made that next to impossible.

The FBI, for example, targets the very Arab-American and Muslim-American communities it needs to work with if it hopes to find and neutralize home-grown violent extremists, including promulgating new rules on profiling that allow for the potential mapping of Arab- …read more

Source: OP-EDS