India to roll out GST nationwide
The new Indian Goods and Services Tax will come into effect today; it will be the country’s largest tax overhaul to date.
The GST is a ubiquitous indirect tax that replaces taxes levied by the central and state governments.
Under the new system, business owners are faced with the confusing task of navigating the GST’s six tax brackets for goods and services; a good or service’s tax rate depends on how luxurious the good or service is. For example, different tax rates apply to restaurants depending on variables like whether or not the restaurant has air conditioning.
Likewise, the success of the new tax hinges on the GST Network, an online portal that allows businesses to register their companies and file taxes and the central government to track transactions. Business owners are concerned that not enough businesses will sign up to the Network for the tax to be successful, at least at first.
While requiring businesses to file 37 tax returns a year (in each state in which a business operates) is somehow an improvement, the GST is still confusing and might not encourage foreign businesses to move to India in the way that a simpler tax code would.
Delve deeper: India’s GST rollout
Former Thai PM facing 10-year sentence
The trial of Thailand’s former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, comes to an end this month On July 21, her fate will be determined by the Supreme Court, overseen by the military junta which runs Thailand in her place. Following her brother in both her elected political office and scandalous exit, Ms Yingluck may soon follow him into exile as well, rather than face a potential 10-year stint in prison.
Despite her brother’s ouster in 2006 on corruption charges, Yingluck was elected in 2011 on a platform of economic redistribution. Overthrown in a coup in 2014, she was retrospectively charged with abuse of power linked to rice subsidies that benefited Yingluck’s rural supporters but drove up prices for Thailand’s urban elite.
Ms Yingluck was threatened with more than $1 billion in fines last October and has since toured the country campaigning for her innocence.
With the country under military rule, this month’s sentence is expected to decide whether Yingluck can return to politics.
FEWER BLUE HELMETS
UN peacekeeping budget faces cuts
United Nations peacekeepers begin the fiscal year today on a tight budget. Although peacekeeping programs are funded by a coalition of member states, the upcoming US budget proposes to half Washington’s contribution to the UN, which normally makes up almost a third of the organisation’s annual budget.
Spending on UN peacekeepers will be reduced from $8.2 billion to roughly $7 billion in the coming year in anticipation of cuts. This reduction will be accompanied by closing missions in the Ivory Coast, Haiti and Liberia—states which have been deemed stable enough to support their own security governance, despite ongoing threats to peace and security.
Recently proposed counter-terrorism UN operations in Sub-Saharan Africa have also lost their funding, highlighting inconsistencies between the Trump administration’s anti-ISIS rhetoric and distaste for long-term investment. Similar countering violent extremism initiatives across the Muslim world, including community-building and youth engagement programs from Bangladesh to Sudan, fear the loss of the UN’s “state-building” funds and now expect to fend for themselves.
Hong Kong will formally mark 20 years since the British returned the territory to Chinese control.
France’s top socialist politician and former presidential candidate Benoit Hamon is expected to announce a new party in a bid to “rebuild the left”. The Socialist Party performed dismally in last month’s legislative election, losing a staggering 286 seats in the 577-member parliament. Hamon will join forces with Greens leader Yannick Jadot to launch the new movement.
Lawmakers in Taiwan are expected to debate and possibly vote on a bill to legalise same-sex marriage. If passed, Taiwan will become the first place in Asia to allow gay marriage. The discussions come a day after Germany passed a similar law.
Canada will celebrate its 150th birthday. Half a million people are expected to turn out in Ottawa to celebrate the occasion.