In a move aimed at easing the transition towards the goods and services tax (GST), the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved a Rs2,256 crore project for upgrading the information technology systems of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).

The cost of the “Saksham" project will be spread over seven years; the project will help in integration of systems for the entire indirect tax system. The project will help in implementation of GST, extending the customs department a Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) to include more services and in other ease-of-doing-business initiatives of the CBEC, the government said in a statement.

The CBEC—the government’s indirect tax wing—will revamp its eight-year-old information technology system on its own, keeping in mind the 1 April 2017 rollout date for the GST and to integrate its system with that of the GST network.

The government estimates that the number of taxpayers administered by the CBEC will increase to over 6.5 million from the current 3.6 million in a GST regime.

Also on Wednesday, the cabinet approved a productivity-linked bonus (PLB) equivalent to 78 days’ wages to be paid to eligible non-gazetted railway employees, excluding the Railway Police Force, for 2015-16.

Under the scheme, around Rs2090.96 crore would be distributed among around 70,000 railway employees before Dussehra. The annual bonus is given to railway employees as an incentive to enhance their productivity.

The cabinet approved an undertaking between India and South Korea on mutual recognition of certificates. This will allow mutual recognition of maritime education and training, certificates of competency, endorsements, training documentary evidence and medical fitness certificates for seafarers issued by both governments.

Focusing on the welfare of senior citizens, the cabinet gave back-dated approval of expenditure incurred on subsidy amount released to Life Insurance Corporation(LIC) for Varistha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY), 2003 and VPBY, 2014.

In another decision on loss-making central public sector enterprises (CPSEs), the cabinet approved the closure of Hindustan Cables Ltd (HCL), Kolkata, at a cost of Rs1,309.9 crore.

With the intention of boosting innovation, creativity and technological advancement in India and Singapore, the cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the field of industrial property cooperation between the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under the ministry of commerce and industry and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) under the ministry of law, government of Singapore. The MoU will be signed during the visit of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to India from 4-7 October.

The CCEA also approved a proposal by the department of heavy industry for providing financial assistance amounting to Rs111.59 crore as a loan to Bharat Pumps and Compressors Ltd, Allahabad. The CCEA extended in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of the company. Statutory dues such as provident fund and gratuity of retired employees of the company will be paid.

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