British PM Cameron coming; strengthening of trade ties tops agenda

Vidya Ram
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David Cameron
David Cameron

David Cameron will visit India for the third time in three years as Britain’s Prime Minister ahead of his trip to Sri Lanka for the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Cameron will visit New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and will attend the Prabodhan conference, followed by a trip to Kolkata, where he will meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a person familiar with matters told Business Line.

Cameron last visited India in February, when he led a more than 100-person-strong delegation.

The current trip should be seen in a number of contexts. Firstly, India-UK trade relations present a mixed picture. While trade has been on the increase – UK exports to India are up 25 per cent in 2013, and Indian exports to the UK have risen 10 per cent in the same period, many believe the relationship is far from where it could be.

“I think it would be right to say we have fallen behind very badly in FDI into and from India,” says Barry Gardiner MP, who heads the group, Labour Friends of India, who last year warned that India had downgraded its relationship with the UK. “It is right to say that the UK is not one of the key partners for India,” he told Business Line on Wednesday. “We would certainly like to have a far stronger trade relationship with India.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has not visited the UK during Cameron’s premiership.

The British Prime Minister may also raise the matter of the impending decision on whether or not Vodafone owes over $2 billion in taxes relating to its 2007 takeover of the Indian operations of Hutchison Whampoa – an issue that has been raised by several members of the government on previous trips to India.

Visa issue

The visit also comes after a period when the India-UK relationship came under pressure following attempts by the British government to introduce a £3,000-visa bond for “high risk” visitors from India and five other commonwealth nations. The plan was dropped in early November in the face of widespread criticism, from within the government, Indian business groups, and the Indian community in the UK. “The opportunity to drop into India gives him the opportunity to potentially mend fences,” says Gareth Price of Chatham House in London.

Observers will also be watching to see what gestures will be made to India – either on boosting investment opportunities and visas – following Chancellor George Osborne’s trip to China last month, during which regulations were relaxed to enable Chinese wholesale banks to operate in the UK, and visa regulations for some visitors were eased. “Britain has made substantial progress on trade, business and the visa regime with China, and making a big thing of how primary the relationship between the two countries are, so he may have felt it was important to come to India to see the same sort of progress in India,” says Gardiner.

(This article was published on November 13, 2013)
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Union Budget 2014-15 Highlights

  • Following are the highlights of the Union Budget 2014-15 presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament on July 10, 2014
  • Income-tax exemption limit raised by Rs 50,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh and for senior citizens to Rs 3 lakh
  • Exemption limit for investment in financial instruments under 80C raised to Rs 1.5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh.
  • Investment limit in PPF raised to Rs 1.5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh
  • Deduction limit on interest on loan for self-occupied house raised to Rs 2 lakh from Rs 1.5 lakh.
  • Committee to look into all fresh tax demands for indirect transfer of assets in wake of retrospective tax amendments of 2012
  • Fiscal deficit target retained at 4.1% of GDP for current fiscal and 3.6% in FY 16
  • Rs 150 crore allocated for increasing safety of women in large cities
  • LCD, LED TV become cheaper
  • Cigarettes, pan masala, tobacco, aerated drinks become costlier
  • 5 IIMs to be opened in HP, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha and Rajasthan
  • 5 more IITs in Jammu, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
  • 4 more AIIMS like institutions to come up in AP, West Bengal, Vidarbha in Maharashtra and Poorvanchal in UP
  • Govt proposes to launch Digital India’ programme to ensure broad band connectivity at village level
  • National Rural Internet and Technology Mission for services in villages and schools, training in IT skills proposed
  • Rs 100 cr scheme to support about 600 new and existing Community Radio Stations
  • Rs 100 cr for metro projects in Lucknow and Ahmedabad
  • Govt expects Rs 9.77 lakh crore revenue crore from taxes
  • Govt’s plan expenditure pegged at Rs 5.75 lakh crore and non-Plan at Rs 12.19 lakh crore.
  • Rs 2,037 crore set aside for Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission called ‘Namami Gange’
  • Kisan Vikas Patra to be reintroduced, National Savings Certificate with insurance cover to be launched
  • FDI limit to be hiked to 49% pc in defence, insurance
  • Disinvestment target fixed at Rs 58,425 crore
  • Gross borrowings pegged at Rs 6 lakh crore
  • Contours of GST to be finalised this fiscal; Govt to look into DTC proposal.
  • ‘Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya New Teachers Training Programme’ launched with initial sum of Rs 500 crore
  • Govt provides Rs 500 crore for rehabilitation of displaced Kashmiri migrants
  • Set aside Rs 11,200 crore for PSU banks capitalisation
  • Govt in favour of consolidation of PSU banks
  • Govt considering giving greater autonomy to PSU banks while making them accountable
  • Rs 7,060 crore for setting up 100 Smart Cities
  • A project on the river Ganga called ‘Jal Marg Vikas’ for inland waterways between Allahabad and Haldia; Rs 4,200 crore set aside for the purpose.
  • Govt proposes Ultra Modern Super Critical Coal Based Thermal Power Technology
  • Expenditure management commission to be setup; will look into food and fertilizer subsides
  • Impasse in coal sector will be resolved; coal will be provided to power plants already commissioned or to be commissioned by March 2015
  • Long term capial gains tax for mutual funds doubled to 20%; lock-in period increased to 3 years
  • Rs 4,000 cr set aside to increase flow of cheaper credit for affordable housing to the urban poor/EWS/LIG segment.
  • EPFO to launch the ‘Uniform Account Number’ service to facilitate portability of Provident Fund accounts
  • Mandatory wage ceiling of subscription to EPS (Employee Pension Scheme) raised from Rs 6,500 to Rs 15,000
  • Minimum pension increased to Rs 1,000 per month
  • Union Budget 2014: List of products getting cheaper/ costlier

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today spared the common man from price hikes by keeping duties on commonly used day-to-day items unchanged but made it costlier for smokers and tobacco consumers with a steep increase in excise rate in tax proposals in Budget 2014—15.
  • Following is a list of what will be cheaper and costlier:
  • CRT television
  • LED/LCD TVs especially below 19 inch
  • Footwear priced between Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per pair
  • Soaps
  • E—book readers
  • Desktop, laptops and tablets
  • RO based water purifiers
  • LED Lights, fixtures and lamps
  • Pre forms of precious and semi—precious stones
  • Sports Gloves
  • Branded petrol
  • Matchbox
  • Life micro insurance policies
  • HIV/AIDS drugs and diagnostic kits
  • DDT insecticides
  • Cigarettes
  • Aerated drinks with sugar
  • Pan masala
  • Gutka and chewing tobacco
  • Jarda scented tobacco
  • Radio Taxi
  • Imported electronic products
  • Portable X—ray machines
  • Half cut/broken diamonds.


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