Today was an important day of the year as the Union Budget 2020 was presented by the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman. The major highlight of the budget is the new income tax slabs but the government has given an option to the citizens, they can either choose to continue with the old tax rates with exemption or can opt for the new tax rates in which the exemptions are not provided.
As per the Finance Minister, Union Budget 2020 is focused on three points – improving the standards of living, economic development for each section and a caring society. The Finance Minister has also called the Goods and Service Tax (GST) as a historic reform in the Indian tax regime. Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized on the need of making compliances easy to fulfill for the startups too.
Every person tries to find out what this budget has for him and after the 2.5 hours long speech of the Finance Minister, the micro-blogging site Twitter is flooded with reactions. While some expressed their happiness or annoyance, there were some who felt that the speech was unnecessarily long and compared it with Sajid Khan’s movie. Here are some of the selected reactions:
Middle class people trying to understand #Budget2020 . pic.twitter.com/LVp4vOrfVf
— Hunटरर (@nickhunterr) February 1, 2020
Nirmala Sitharaman talking about government’s achievements #BudgetSession2020 pic.twitter.com/wOsKn4GPR6
— Sir Yuzvendra (parody) (@SirYuzvendra) February 1, 2020
#BudgetSession2020 #Budget2020 *Rahul Gandhi trying to understand the Budget* pic.twitter.com/uIrkC4294Z
— Ashutosh Singh (@ashusarcastic) February 1, 2020
1. Indians before budget speech. 2. Indians after budget speech.#Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/4G9WD2BIaQ
— Nirmala Tai Halwe wali (@Vishj05) February 1, 2020
Income Tax slabs over the years#Budget2020 #BudgetSession2020 #NirmalaSitaraman pic.twitter.com/RIDt3ykkVQ
— Siddharth Patni (@aageSeLeftLelo) February 1, 2020
Salaried taxpayers waiting for tax cuts be like:#BUDGET2020 pic.twitter.com/0vbG4XGMuC
— VJ (@CA_Hemwani) February 1, 2020
A friend just said “budget chaahe jaisa marzi aa jaye, hum month end tak gareeb ho hi jaayenge”, and it hit me hard. #BudgetSession2020
— Pakchikpak Raja Babu (@HaramiParindey) February 1, 2020
People : Is bar ka #Budget2020 Middle class wala hoga !!
Nirmala : pic.twitter.com/IUiK97hcTg
— Sourabh (@SourabhJainIET) February 1, 2020
The #Budget2020 was a Sajid Khan movie #BudgetSession2020
— HOLLA! (@AshokaHolla) February 1, 2020
#BudgetOnZee #Budget2020 #BudgetSession2020
When tax Rates and you realise Gets Reduced no deduction will Be allowed as well pic.twitter.com/4XjvY05Au6
— CUagain (@RECinaction) February 1, 2020
Everybody right now. #Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/U0GVYbe24Z
— अंकित जैन (@indiantweeter) February 1, 2020
Common Man trying to understand #Budget2020 listening to #NirmalaSitharaman’s speech. pic.twitter.com/oXLCjKHp1c
— Godman Chikna (@Madan_Chikna) February 1, 2020
Middle class people checking the budget benefits #Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/oJVhN90lIF
— Aishthetic ?? (@Badassgirlll) February 1, 2020
New income tax regime #Budget2020 pic.twitter.com/l2QmPyfjWH
— Megha Mandavia (@MeghaMandaviaET) February 1, 2020
New Tax slab … #Budget2020 https://t.co/CGwLmE0coJ pic.twitter.com/uUJE77gbeS
— Mr. Dua (@koolmunddaa) February 1, 2020
The share market doesn’t seem to be happy with the budget as it closed almost 900 points down today. The experts feel that the government has not talked clearly on the matter of dealing with economic slowdown.
What is your opinion on the Union Budget 2020? Let us know your views.
The post Twitter Flooded With Hilarious Memes After Nirmala Sitharaman Presented Union Budget 2020 appeared first on RVCJ Media.
It has been a long time coming, it has even been alluded to in some Sci-Fi series such as Incorporated, where in the near future a corporation runs a country and is also a state in its own right. With Facebook earlier in 2019 officially unveiling plans to launch Libra, its own (along with other corporate partners) digital currency, in 2020, it is almost safe to say that Mark Zuckerberg’s (despite being a public company, Facebook’s share structure and voting rights afford Zuckerberg a lot of control and power) social network is almost a country in its own right.
With approximately 2 billion monthly active users as reported at the end of 2018, even if you had to account for duplicate and fake accounts, it would still measure up as one of the largest populations any country has on the planet.
If you add WhatsApp, considering that the messaging app’s users will also be able to transact using Libra (once, or rather if, it eventually launches), with its reported 1,5 billion active users (although some are already Facebook users), you are looking at a size of a country like one we have never witnessed before.
Welcome to the .
Strong political opposition
It didn’t take long after the official announcement of Libra earlier in the year that three countries, France, England, and Germany, started displaying signs that they were feeling threatened by Facebook & Co.’s newly proposed digital currency. Specifically, France’s Finance Minister stated unequivocally that Libra cannot be a replacement for sovereign currencies.
So far, it has not been an easy ride for Libra since that official announcement earlier in 2019. What looked like a good list of partners has been reduced with several of its (Libra Association) member companies deciding to pull their membership and support for Facebook’s proposed digital currency. It all started with PayPal withdrawing from the Libra Association, this was then followed by Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Stripe and Mercado Pago who all announced that they will no longer be participating nor supporting Libra.
The withdrawals, which ended up leaving Libra without any major global payments companies as members, were politically motivated as the United States Senate sent a letter to the various Libra Association member organizations CEOs urging them “to proceed with caution until Facebook is able to provide real answers to you.”
Despite this strong political opposition to Libra by various countries and regulators, which has also seen Facebook being hauled before the USA’s policy makers to answer questions about the planned digital currency, I still think there is a high probability that not only will Libra launch in 2020, but it has better than average chances of gaining traction.
This is despite those involved in the Libra project at Facebook stating that there is no clear product roadmap nor a s et launch date.
However, important to note that Patrick Ellis, one of the board members of the Libra Association, confirmed to Reuters that Libra would launch during 2020, but couldn’t provide any indication of when or even the initial markets it would be launched in.
Before I elaborate on why I think it will succeed, what will it mean for your money to be controlled and managed by Facebook?
Your money in Facebook’s control
To further understand why some countries, including the USA, have been vocally opposing Libra in public, the letter that The United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services wrote to Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg (COO at Facebook), and David Marcus (CEO of Facebook subsidiary, Calibra), gives us a few hints in my opinion.
Firstly, as compared to say, Bitcoin, it is easier and possible to write to Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Sandberg regarding Libra compared to trying to write to Satoshi Nakamoto. In this case, there are real people and organizations that can be held accountable. Secondly, and as they allude to in the letter, the policy makers feel that Libra is a threat to the US Dollar and the country’s monetary policy, despite it being merely a stablecoin and not a cryptocurrency in the strictest of terms.
There’s also the matter that should Libra ever get into trouble (eg. not be able to guarantee customers withdrawals etc.), the US government in one way or another would need to step in to protect Americans as we’ve seen it do before with some of the country’s large banks (side note: this is exactly what Bitcoin avoids, but alas. A discussion for another day).
However, more importantly for us in Africa is, does Libra offer any of us any value?
Does it help us with anything we are struggling with currently?
Does it make life easier?
To use and transact in Libra, users will have to download and run the official wallet, Calibra (a subsidiary company of Facebook). From what I’ve seen and what has so far led me to say in its current form Libra will struggle to gain traction (unless they address the following two issues) is that to use Calibra one will require a bank account and a government issued ID.
It’s no secret that Africa has a high number of unbanked people mainly as a result of low income and unemployment. As such, it is mind boggling that a product punting financial inclusion would require users to first have a bank account before using it. However, it’s possible that this will change by the time Facebook launches the digital currency and wallet in 2020. If it doesn’t, it could prove to be a stumbling block for gaining traction especially across Africa.
The second issue, which also leads me to explaining why I think Libra will succeed, is around the requirement of government issued ID.
On the surface, in most countries in Africa at least, the requirement for a government issued ID could prove a real stumbling block to adoption. In many African countries, eg. Nigeria, there is no real organized government ID system. Immediately this makes it rather interesting how Facebook is going to verify identity in such cases.
However, Facebook and its Libra partners seem to already have thought of this and have a possible solution in mind. A solution which, once it can be implemented, will make a strong argument that Facebook is now essentially a country.
Facebook’s possible Trojan Horse
Earlier in 2019 when the noise around Libra was at its peak and being frustrated that no African policymakers we commenting on it or providing any clarification on how they view Facebook’s proposed digital currency that is mainly targeted a developing countries, I set out to read the Libra white paper for the third time. Somehow, I found something in the Libra white paper I had missed or wasn’t paying enough attention to previously.
Hidden (in plain sight) deep in the guts of a white paper light on details and heavy on marketing talk about financial inclusion and the world’s 2 billion without adequate financial services are two sentences that seem to be placed nonchalantly atop page 9 of the Libra white paper, yet they could have far reaching impact.
“An additional goal of the [Libra] association is to develop and promote an open identity standard. We believe that decentralized and portable digital identity is a prerequisite to financial inclusion and competition.”
This, the development of an open standard for digital IDs, as mentioned, could mean that Facebook already has a solution for part of this problem. The other part of this solution is that Facebook previously acquired a company that verifies government issued IDs in 2018. These two solutions combined could help onboard and verify people onto Libra and from there start issuing them with verified Facebook IDs.
Considering that Facebook, along with its subsidiary platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger, is home to over 2 billion people, could this be the new global ID standard that will surpass and be more trusted than government issued IDs?
Although I could not find any further details on the proposed Libra digital ID and Facebook have also refused to comment when I asked, in my opinion it has a far bigger impact than the proposed currency as, if adopted and rolled out successfully it solves one of the web’s biggest issues, trust. I can already envision how it fits in with some of its other acquisitions, for example, Facebook acquired a face recognition tool that it incorporated into its main Facebook platform that would identify faces in the photos you post automatically and suggest you tag them. This, could possibly be used outside of government issued IDs given the trove of (tagged) photos Facebook already has of billions of people around the world, to verify identity.
This to me is Facebook’s Trojan Horse with Libra a necessary part but of lesser significance than the ability for Facebook to be able to run a platform that can verify and vouch for the identity of billions of people independent from any government.
Managing the flow of money gives you some power. Handling trust and identities gives you control, and essentially, makes you a nation state.
A virtual nation state
As far as why I now think this completes the idea of Facebook becoming a country, it’s simply because of the leverage it will hold over some countries especially across the continent who not only do not have near as accurate data about their citizens like Facebook has, but are struggling to maintain the value and usefulness of their own sovereign currencies (e.g. Zimbabwe).
At the heart of it (Libra) people just want a quicker and cheaper way to transact and send money, and already in Africa, many are used to using mobile money for their daily living.
Apart from having such a huge virtual population, a currency, and possibly its own verifiable IDs for its citizens, Facebook also does not fall under any single country’s jurisdiction. For example, its US-based users are governed by a corporation registered in the USA, its users in the rest of the world are governed by a corporation registered in Ireland, while in China it works under different laws. This not only applies to laws but where it pays taxes too. So, as such, you cannot exactly call it a US company as it is not bound any single country’s laws and to make matters worse (or good if you’re Facebook) it is a virtual entity.
It really, in my view, has officially become the People’s Republic of Facebook (and like its namesake, it’s not a democracy 😊)
Winston Peters’ has accepted in the High Court that two former National ministers he had been suing for $450,000 for breaching his privacy were not the source of the leak or responsible for it.
In his closing submission today, Peters’ lawyer Brian Henry said both Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett denied in their evidence leaking information on Peters’ seven-year overpayment of superannuation – and the lawyer for the Ministry of Social Development and public servants did not challenge those denials.
“That left the MSD in the position that they now cannot avoid a finding that the breach was on MSD,” Henry said. “The plaintiff was expecting a challenge from MSD to the ministers, but the MSD has not challenged the evidence that they [the ministers] did not leak.
“That dual denial removed two of the options that the plaintiff, when it opened its case, was expecting to have examined in the court.”
That means Peters is no longer suing the National pair for damages.
Tolley, who as Minister of Social Development in 2017, was briefed by the ministry’s then-chief executive Brendan Boyle on the Peters overpayment and repayment of his pension – and Bennett, briefed as Minister of State Services a day later by the State Services Commissioner, have denied since the proceeding began two years ago that they were involved in the leak.
Peters made his overpayment public during the general election campaign after learning the information had been provided to journalists. Newshub and Newsroom both received anonymous calls with details about the overpayment, which had come to light when Peters’ longstanding partner Jan Trotman applied for her own superannuation.
The two ministers were briefed on the matter by the top public servants under the ‘no surprises’ policy by which departments inform ministers of matters which might become controversial or be subject of public debate. The officials had sought advice from the Solicitor-General before acting and had waited until a decision had been reached independently on Peters’ fate by an MSD regional official.
As well as around 40 ministry officials who had some awareness – 11 of whom knew the level of detail passed to the media – several officials in Tolley’s ministerial office and also then-Prime Minister Bill English and finance minister Steven Joyce ended up being told directly or indirectly some information by the two ministers.
With Henry now saying the two National MPs can be ruled out because of the court hearing, he told Justice Geoffrey Venning: “The only inference on the balance of probabilities is that the MSD was responsible.”
Henry said Peters’ case was that under the tort of privacy he had a reasonable expectation that his private information would not be made public and what was disclosed had been highly offensive.
“In this case, the MSD exclusively held the plaintiff’s private information. Unless they can rebut the evidence there arises an evidential presumption.
“The larger the group [who had become aware in the ministry] the greater the foreseeability the matter would be leaked.
“The perpetrator will never front. Someone in MSD in full knowledge breached the plaintiff’s privacy and set off a chain of communications causing damage to his reputation.”
Henry said: “This is not likely to be a mistake.” He noted someone with knowledge could have covered digital tracks to avoid internal inquiries afterwards. “It is accepted that the breach may not have been with the intent that the private information reached the media. But it still must be a deliberate breach of obligations owed by MSD.
“The only inference is the perpetrator of the breach was aware that communicating that information outside the MSD, they were committing a serious breach of the plaintiff’s personal information.”
Henry said Peters had been guided in the level of damages sought from the defendants by the upper limit set in a recent defamation case, but the quantum was an assessment for the judge.
As well as damages, Peters wants a declaration from the court that his privacy was breached.
The NZ First leader says it is necessary to have the tort of privacy recognise such a breach because in the digital world “the dissemination of [private] information is now in the hands of irresponsible persons… and politicians are not extremely vulnerable”.
At the end of his submissions, Henry clarified for the judge that Peters was now seeking the $450,000 in damages under his first course of action from all defendants together rather than seeking that sum from each.
Questioned further by Justice Venning, he said the fact Bennett and Tolley could no longer be accepted as the source of the leaks meant that they could not continue to be included in the course of action seeking that money. So the damages are sought, together, from Boyle, Hughes and MSD.
In three further courses of action, Peters is seeking declarations from the judge that his privacy was breached by the public servants in briefing their ministers and by the two ministers in accepting those briefings.
Henry disputed a claim by Bruce Gray QC, for the ministers, that there had been no social media reports of Peters’ overpayment presented to the court that had occurred before Peters issued his press release announcing that news.
He pointed to a Kiwiblog posting about the risks for Peters if the overpayment news was correct. However he gave the court the date August 28 for the Kiwiblog comment, and that was actually the day after Peters issued his press release.
The only social media content appearing before Peters went public had been three tweets from the writer of this article about a possible major political story, and the tweets did not mention him, his party, gender, age or superannuation.
The writer had to provide a sworn statement in the earliest part of the proceedings and pointed out that intense speculation on Twitter had followed those tweets but that not one that was connected to his tweets had referred to or even hinted at Peters being involved.
Earlier, Victoria Casey QC for Hughes, Boyle and the ministry, said Peters’ pleading alleging bad faith by her clients would, if found to be so, be “catastrophic” for the officials. “If established, it would be the end of any career for them in the public service.
“It’s important that Mr Peters is held to his pleadings,” she said.
The bad faith accusation was raised by Peters in his fourth ‘statement in reply’ before the hearing began. “Mr Peters is not entitled to pursue new allegations of bad faith.”
(Henry later told the court he was saying officials had not acted in good faith rather than they had acted in bad faith. That was so those defendants had to disprove his claim rather than Peters having to prove ‘bad faith’.)
Justice Venning has reserved his decision, which he said was unlikely before the end of the year.
Jan Bhmermann says he will be ready by next contest to lead Social Democratic party which he predicts will soon
Germanys leading television satirist has joined the Social Democratic party, weeks after announcing his ambitions to become its leader.
Jan Bhmermann, who has a weekly programme on public broadcaster ZDF and is notorious for sparking diplomatic scandals, has missed the deadline for the current leadership contest, expected to conclude on 8 December.
But he has predicted that the troubled party, the oldest in Germany, but which is struggling for survival after 156 years of existence, will be in need of a new leader by next spring, and he has said he would be prepared to throw his hat into the ring.
The biggest problem for the party is how seriously it should take the award-winning, 38-year-old, comic, famous for sending up everything he sees as worthy of satire.
His past exploits, aired on his weekly programme Neo Magazin Royale, which have been reported around the world, include a video about Yanis Varoufakis, Greek finance minister at one time, in which he appeared to give Germany the middle finger, and a poem ridiculing the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, for which the comic was prosecuted and subsequently given police protection.
Lars Klingbeil, the SPDs general secretary, welcomed the millionaire TV star to the party.
Welcome in the SPD, dear comrade @janboehm, Klingbeil wrote on Twitter. But he also reminded Bhmermann of the menial but necessary tasks that came with membership and which would be expected of him, such as campaigning, door-knocking, talking to voters and putting up posters. Were looking forward very much to the fact that youll now be by our side fighting for a strong social democracy.
There are inevitably fears within the party that this is another one of Bhmermanns gags and that its decision to let him in could backfire.
A glimpse at his leadership bid speech, launched under the hashtag slogan #Neustart19 (new start 19), dare to be more democratic suggests they are right to be wary. In it he refers to social democracy as Germanys Amazon which could ill afford to decline outside help. We need to save the red lung of Germany, whether it likes it or not, he said.
Bhmermann boasts that he has three times as many Twitter followers as the rest of the party leadership put together. He says his biggest problem is not having a female partner to stand alongside him for the co-leadership, and appeals for candidates to come forward. He says there are plenty of other examples of television personalities entering politics, most notably Steffen Seibert (spokesman of Angela Merkel, Germanys chancellor), who was previously a prominent news anchor.
There are also examples of comics who have realised their political ambitions, such as Beppe Grillo of the populist 5 Star Movement in Italy, and Ukraines president, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelensky. In the US, Donald Trump was a reality TV star before becoming president.
Ronald Mormann, chair of the district chapter in Saxony-Anhalt, which finally agreed to accept Bhmermanns membership after weeks of internal debate, said the party was prepared forgive him for his previous acidic criticisms of it.
But satire can get away with a lot, and Germanys oldest party is capable of enduring a lot. German social democracy has fought for 156 years for people to be able to express their opinions openly, Mormann said. He also reminded Bhmermann: We are a party, and not a satirical performance.
Bhmermann has said he will follow Decembers leadership contest closely, but predicted it would not go well. I estimate that by the spring of 2020 the SPD will already be looking for a new leader, and my team and I will then be even better prepared … then it will work out, he said.