a) GST’s complicated

With collections from the goods and services tax peaking at over ₹1 lakh crore in April, industry hoped the GST Council would make life simpler for an increasingly compliant tax-payer base. Indeed, at its meeting last week the Council decided to introduce a new compliance system under which a single monthly GST return will have to be submitted by firms, barring a few exceptions. However, this will only be done in a phased manner — with the first of three transition stages to begin six months from now. Discussions over simplifying GST returns have been under way for months and considered by the Council, a committee of officers and a Group of Ministers. Nandan Nilekani, chairman of Infosys Technologies, the firm in charge of the GST Network’s IT system, has been consulted. Yet, the solution offered has gaps. For instance, in the second stage of the transition to simpler returns, buyers will get provisional input credit even if the seller doesn’t upload the invoices. While this could lead to disputes, in the third stage input credits will only be granted after sellers upload invoices. If a seller defaults on depositing GST dues collected from a buyer and remains evasive, the authorities can reverse the credit availed by the buyer for such outstanding taxes. In any case, the timelines for the transition are long and bring fresh uncertainty for businesses still recovering from the initial jitters and confusion around the tax regime. Firms will again have to cope with significant changes in accounting software in the middle of the financial year. The Council, credited with swift and significant course correction in GST processes in its initial months, could have done more. The most troubling is the Centre’s push for the imposition of a cess on sugar over and above the 5% GST levied on it. A cess at the rate of ₹3 a kg is proposed to alleviate ‘deep distress’ among sugarcane farmers. Not surprisingly, this faces opposition from several States. It has been rightly argued that this will burden consumers while favouring larger sugarcane-growing States like U.P. and Maharashtra. In addition, a special sugar cess will signal a looming breakdown of the basic tenet of GST: the abolition of such cesses and surcharges, barring the compensation cess for funding States’ revenue losses for five years. Along with a proposal to reward digital GST payments, this has been referred to new ministerial groups, which are to revert in a fortnight. Lastly, the decision to make the GSTN a 100% government-owned firm, instead of the present structure with 51% private ownership, explains neither how this will address data security concerns nor the impact on the Network’s functional efficiency, which was the original stated intent for giving private players an upper hand in operations.

b) Mahathir’s challenge: on the Malaysian general election

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has many things going for him in the May 9 general election, but whether they will suffice in the face of a corruption scandal is an open question. With the economy growing at 6%, helped along by lavish infrastructure spending, Malaysia’s overall outlook could not appear more robust. But Mr. Razak’s opponent and erstwhile mentor, the 92-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, is hoping to exploit the incumbent’s links to a billion-dollar corruption scandal in a state investment fund. The battle lines have been sharply drawn, but there possibly exists an advantage for the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front), led by the United Malays National Organisation, insofar as it has had a long record in office. Also, almost 70% of the population are bumiputras, mainly Malays and other indigenous groups, that have traditionally voted for the UMNO. This group has benefited significantly over the years from Malaysia’s policy of according preferential treatment to it in terms of access to education and government jobs. Parliament’s recent approval of the redrawn electoral constituencies has reinforced allegations of gerrymandering and unequal sizing of electoral districts to benefit the National Front. The conduct of polling on a week day has led to allegations that this has been done to deter a large number of citizens working in neighbouring Singapore from casting their votes — it is believed that a lower turnout will work in favour of Mr. Razak’s party. The election campaign has seen an estrangement between one-time allies and a coming together of former foes. Mr. Mohamad, who has returned to frontline politics as the incumbent’s principal challenger, was instrumental in the installation of Mr. Razak. He was also once the arch-rival of the man he is standing in for, Anwar Ibrahim, the imprisoned leader of the opposition Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope). Uncomfortably for the Prime Minister, news that some $4.5 billion had gone missing from a government fund coincided with the appearance of about $600-odd million in his personal account. Not many have bought his explanation of the sum as a gift from a well-wisher. Mr. Mohamad says the scandal forced him to stage a political comeback and lead a punishing campaign. The veteran politician has sought to channel public anger against the recent imposition of a goods and services tax, portraying the levy as a penalty to recover the losses on account of the missing funds. The National Front is therefore anxious to avert a repeat of its performance in the 2013 polls, when it was returned merely by virtue of the parliamentary seats it won, while losing the popular vote. The party is acutely aware that it needs to regain some lost popularity if it is going to make the best of this election.


1) Compliant

Meaning: Disposed to agree with others or obey rules, especially to an excessive degree; acquiescent.

Example: “a compliant labour force”

Synonyms: Acquiescent, Amenable

Antonyms: Recalcitrant, Blood-mined

2) Compliance

Meaning: The state or fact of according with or meeting rules or standards.

Example: “all imports of timber are in compliance with regulations”

Synonyms: Obedience to, Accordance with

Antonyms: Violation, Infringement

3) Barring

Meaning: Except for; if not for.

Example: “barring accidents, we should win”

Synonyms: Excepting, Excluding

4) Invoices

Meaning: A list of goods sent or services provided, with a statement of the sum due for these; a bill.

Example: “an invoice for the goods supplied”

Synonyms: Bill, Account

5) Evasive

Meaning: Directed towards avoidance or escape.

Example: “they decided to take evasive action”

Synonyms: Avoiding, Dodging

Antonyms: Direct

6) Availed

Meaning: Use or take advantage of (an opportunity or available resource).

Example: “my daughter did not avail herself of my advice”

Synonyms: Use, Benefit

7) Outstanding

Meaning: Not yet paid, resolved, or dealt with.

Example: “much of the work is still outstanding”

Synonyms: Incomplete, Undone

Antonyms: Paid, Finished

8) Jitters

Meaning: Slight irregular movement, variation, or unsteadiness.

Example: “picture jitter”

9) Cope

Meaning: (of a person) deal effectively with something difficult.

Example: “his ability to cope with stress”

Synonyms: Manage, Subsist

10) Imposition

Meaning: A tax or duty.

Example: “the government began levying special impositions”

Synonyms: Tax, Duty

11) Cess

Meaning: (in Scotland, Ireland, and India) a tax or levy.

A Cess imposed by the central government is a tax on tax, levied by the government for a specific purpose.

12) Alleviate

Meaning: Make (suffering, deficiency, or a problem) less severe.

Example: “he couldn’t prevent her pain, only alleviate it”

Synonyms: Reduce, Relieve

Antonyms: Aggravate

13) Looming

Meaning: (of an event regarded as threatening) seem about to happen.

Example: “there is a crisis looming”

Synonyms: Threaten, Impend

14) Revert

Meaning: Return to (a previous state, practice, topic, etc.).

Example: “he reverted to his native language”

Synonyms: Return, Regress

15) Intent

Meaning: Intention or purpose.

Example: “with alarm she realized his intent”

Synonyms: Aim, Purpose

16) Suffice

Meaning: Be enough or adequate.

Example: “a quick look should suffice”

Synonyms: Serve, Enough

17) Lavish

Meaning: Sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious.

Example: “a lavish banquet”

Synonyms: Lush, Gorgeous

Antonyms: Meagre

18) Robust

Meaning: Strong and healthy; vigorous.

Example: “the Caplan family are a robust lot”

Synonyms: Strong, Sturdy

Antonyms: Weak, Frail

19) Erstwhile

Meaning: Former.

Example: “the erstwhile president of the company”

Synonyms: Former, Sometime

Antonyms: Present, Future

20) Exploit

Meaning: Make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource).

Example: “500 companies sprang up to exploit this new technology”

Synonyms: Utilize, Use

21) Incumbent

Meaning: The holder of an office or post.

Example: “the present incumbent will soon be retiring”

Synonyms: Holder, Bearer

22) Insofar

Meaning: To the degree that.

Example: She had done her best to comfort him, insofar as she was able.

23) Bumiputras

Meaning: A Malaysian of indigenous Malay origin.

Example: “bumiputra ownership”

24) Indigenous

Meaning: Originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native.

Example: “the indigenous peoples of Siberia”

Synonyms: Native, Aboriginal

Antonyms: Expatriate, Migrant

25) Preferential

Meaning: Of or involving preference or partiality; constituting a favour or privilege.

Example: “preferential interest rates may be offered to employees”

Synonyms: Special, Better

26) Redrawn

Meaning: Draw or draw up again or differently.

Example: “the rota was redrawn”

27) Reinforced

Meaning: Strengthen or support (an object or substance), especially with additional material.

Example: “the helmet has been reinforced with a double layer of cork”

Synonyms: Strengthen, Fortify

28) Gerrymandering

Meaning: Achieve (a result) by gerrymandering.

Example: “an attempt to gerrymander the election result”

29) Allegations

Meaning: A claim or assertion that someone has done something illegal or wrong, typically one made without proof.

Example: “he made allegations of corruption against the administration”

Synonyms: Claim, Assertion

30) Deter

Meaning: Prevent the occurrence of.

Example: “strategists think not only about how to deter war, but about how war might occur”

Synonyms: Prevent, Stop

Antonyms: Encourage

31) Casting

Meaning: Discard.

Example: “he jumped in, casting caution to the wind”

Synonyms: Discard, Reject

Antonyms: Accept

32) Turnout

Meaning: The number of people attending or taking part in an event, especially the number of people voting in an election.

Example: “we reckon that thirty-five per cent is a good turnout for local elections”

Synonyms: Attendance, Audience

33) Estrangement

Meaning: The fact of no longer being on friendly terms or part of a social group.

Example: “the growing estrangement of the police from their communities”

Synonyms: Alienation, Hostility

Antonyms: Unity, Reconciliation

34) Foes

Meaning: An enemy or opponent.

Example: “his work was praised by friends and foes alike”

Synonyms: Rival, Adversary

Antonyms: Friend

35) Arch-rival

Meaning: The chief rival of a person, team, or organization.

Synonyms: Foe, Adversary

36) Veteran

Meaning: A person who has had long experience in a particular field.

Example: “a veteran of two world wars”

Synonyms: Expert, Old-hand

Antonyms: Novice, Recruit

37) Portraying

Meaning: Describe (someone or something) in a particular way.

Example: “the book portrayed him as a self-serving careerist”

Synonyms: Represent, Depict

38) Anxious

Meaning: Very eager or concerned to do something or for something to happen.

Example: “the company was anxious to avoid any trouble”

Synonyms: Eager, Desirous

39) Avert

Meaning: Prevent or ward off (an undesirable occurrence).

Example: “talks failed to avert a rail strike”

Synonyms: Prevent, Avoid

40) Acutely

Meaning: (with reference to something unpleasant or unwelcome) intensely.

Example: “the whole situation was acutely embarrassing”

Synonyms: Extremely, Very

Antonyms: Slightly