GST: FMs’ panel to seek States’ views on calamity cess
A panel of state finance ministers is being set up to deliberate a ‘disaster cess or tax’ under the goods and services tax (GST) to help states hit by natural calamities. The panel has to examine the issue regarding ‘Modalities for Revenue Mobilisation in case of Natural Calamities and Disasters’ and submit its report by October 31. The panel would also seek views of the attorney general on the legality of levying a ‘disaster cess’ or a ‘disaster tax’ to fund states hit by natural calamities.
Questions over which panel would deliberate. Should the entire burden of cess be borne by the affected State only? Should it be an all-India levy and can it be confined to luxury or sin products? Is the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) mechanism sufficient or more can be done? Should there be a distinction between natural calamities? What is the legal methodology available?
Fund Crunch: NDRF (Natural Disaster Response Fund) and SDRF (States Disaster Response Fund) are not sufficient to fund natural calamities. The size of National Calamity Contingent Duty (NCCD) which is a major contributor to NDRF fund was ₹6,450 crore during 2016-17 and dipped to ₹3,660 crore during 2017-18. Since the requirement is high, the fund has to be provided through Central Budget and as most of duties have been subsumed in the GST, so contribution from duties for the funds has reduced. Hence, a way to raise additional resources is being explored by means of a state-specific or nationwide ‘disaster tax or cess’.
There is a provision of special tax under the GST regime. Following a Constitutional Amendment, sub-section (4) (F) of newly inserted article 279 A prescribes: “Any special rate or rates for a specified period to raise additional resources during any natural calamity or disaster.” The schedule of the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act, 2017, provides for imposing a cess up to the rate of 15 per cent ad valorem on “any other supplies”. However, there is no clarity in the text of the law on imposing a cess for purposes other than compensating States in case there is a revenue shortfall.
India has called for quota reforms so that share of emerging nations increases in line with their growing economic position. Quota shares of Emerging Market & Developing Countries need increase in line with its growing relative economic position in the world.
What are IMF Quotas?
The IMF is a quota-based institution. Quotas are the building blocks of the IMF’s financial and governance structure. An individual member country’s quota broadly reflects its relative position in the world economy. Quotas are denominated in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), the IMF’s unit of account.
Multiple roles of quotas:
Resource Contributions: Quotas determine the maximum amount of financial resources a member is obliged to provide to the IMF.
Voting Power: Quotas are a key determinant of the voting power in IMF decisions. Votes comprise one vote per SDR100,000 of quota plus basic votes (same for all members).
Access to Financing: The maximum amount of financing a member can obtain from the IMF under normal access is based on its quota.
SDR Allocations: Quotas determine a member’s share in a general allocation of SDRs.
The IMF’s Board of Governors conducts general quota reviews at regular intervals (no more than five years). Any changes in quotas must be approved by an 85% majority of the total voting power, and a member’s own quota cannot be changed without its consent.
Two main issues addressed in a general quota review are the size of an overall quota increase and the distribution of the increase among the members.
IMF: The IMF, along with the World Bank, was conceived in 1944 at a conference in Bretton Woods, in the US state of New Hampshire. It aims to preserve economic stability and to tackle – or ideally prevent – financial crises. Over time, its focus has switched to the developing world. The IMF is funded by a charge – known as a “quota” – paid by member nations – based on a country’s wealth. The IMF also acts as a lender of last resort, disbursing its foreign exchange reserves for short periods to any member in difficulties.
RBI issues guidelines for facilitating money transfer among e-wallets
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued guidelines for interoperability among prepaid instruments (PPI) such as e-wallets. Inter-operability is technical compatibility that enables payment system to be used in conjunction with other payment systems.
The guidelines are aimed at promoting money transfer between e-wallets and digital transactions. They also elaborate requirements for achieving interoperability for mobile wallets, cards and norms for customer protection and grievance redressal. The interoperability will be achieved in phased manner i.e. initially inter-operability of PPIs issued in form of wallets through UPI, and later between wallets and bank accounts through UPI, and interoperability for PPIs issued in form of cards through card networks.
The interoperability between mobile wallets and between bank accounts and e-wallets will be enabled through Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system. It will be facilitated to all KYC-compliant PPI accounts and entire acceptance infrastructure. In case where PPIs are issued in form of cards, then cards will be affiliated to authorised card networks. PPI issuers must have board approved policy for achieving PPI inter-operability. This will allow PPI issuers, system providers and system participants in different systems to undertake, clear and settle payment transactions across systems without participating in multiple systems. Card networks are also allowed to onboard PPI issuers to join their network. Non-bank PPI issuers are permitted to participate as members/associate members of authorised card networks.
Unified payments interface (UPI)
What exactly is UPI?
The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system developed by the NPCI and the RBI to aid instant transfer of money using a cashless system. Using UPI services, one just requires a smartphone and a banking app to send and receive money instantly or to pay a merchant for retail purchase. In the long run, UPI is likely to replace the current NEFT, RTGS, and IMPS systems as they exist today.
The UPI ecosystem functions with three key players: Payment service providers (PSPs) to provide the interface to the payer and the payee. Unlike wallets, the payer and the payee can use two different PSPs. Banks to provide the underlying accounts. In some cases, the bank and the PSP may be the same. NPCI to act as the central switch by ensuring VPA resolution, effecting credit and debit transactions through IMPS.
How does it work? UPI, built on IMPS, allows a payment directly and immediately from bank account. There is no need to pre-load money in wallets. It allows payments to different merchants without the hassle of typing one’s card details or net-banking password.
Indian Silk Export Promotion Council (ISEPC):
Context: 6th India International Silk Fair (IISF), organized by Indian Silk Export Promotion Council, is being held in New Delhi. The fair will give a platform to exporters to display their products and to overseas buyers an opportunity to place orders and source their merchandise. India is the second largest producer of silk in the world. The country’s silk industry is agriculture based and labour intensive and provides gainful employment to around eight million artisans and weavers in rural areas.
The Indian Silk Export Promotion Council: The Indian Silk Export Promotion Council (ISEPC) was set up in 1983 as a company not for profit under Companies Act duly sponsored by the Government of India in the Ministry of Textiles. ISEPC works closely with the Government of India on policy formulation concerning silk sector and provides specialized services to the entrepreneurs enlarging global business opportunities for the silk industry in India.
Special courts for trial of benami transaction cases
The Union Government has issued a notification stating that sessions courts in 34 states and union territories, will act as special courts for the trial of offences under the benami transaction law. The sessions courts were notified after consultation with Chief Justices of High Courts under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 for the trial of offences punishable under the provision of the Act. In the case of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, the courts of additional session’s judge in each district have been designated as the special court.
Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act:
The Indian Parliament passed the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act in August 2016 to curb the menace of black money. The bill sought to amend the Benami Transactions Act, 1988. The new legislation provided for seven years imprisonment and fine for those indulging in illegal transactions. The act has amended the definition of benami transactions and establishes adjudicating authorities and an Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions. Further, the act defines benami transactions, prohibits them and provides that violation of the PBPT Act is punishable with imprisonment and fine. It also prohibits recovery of the property held benami from benamidar by the real owner. The properties held benami are liable for confiscation by the Government without payment of compensation.
Benami in Hindi means without name. So, a property bought by an individual not under his or her name is benami property. It can include property held in the name of spouse or child for which the amount is paid out of known sources of income. A joint property with brother, sister or other relatives for which the amount is paid out of known sources of income also falls under benami property. The transaction involved in the same is called benami transaction. As a usual practice, to evade taxation, people invest their black money in buying benami property. The real owner of these properties are hard to trace due to fake names and identities. The person on whose name the property is purhcased is called benamdar. The benami transactions include buying assets of any kind — movable, immovable, tangible, intangible, any right or interest, or legal documents.
The first act against benami properties ws passed in 1988 as the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988. To curb black money, the Modi government in July 2016 decided to amend the original act. So after further amendment, Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 came into force on November 1, 2016. The PBPT Act defines benami transactions, prohibits them and further provides that violation of the PBPT Act is punishable with imprisonment and fine. The PBPT Act prohibits recovery of the property held benami from benamidar by the real owner. Properties held benami are liable for confiscation by the Government without payment of compensation.
Rather than hoarding the black money in cash, the tax evader invest their accumulated illegal money in buying benami properties. The whole process affects the revenue generation of government hampering growth and development of the state. Since the percentage of tax payer in the country is a dismal low, the government fails to successfully implement its policies and schemes due to lack of resources. A tough law against benami properties is the need of the hour to check corruption.
Tea Board of India is planning to launch an app aimed at guiding small growers, whose share in total tea production is increasing. The proposed name of the app is Chai Sahay (tea help). The mobile platform would have user-interface facilities with the targeted user groups (the small tea grower) and the various officials. It would also have information on the various activities of the board officials. The existing database of the STGs would be incorporated in the app, which would also give information on their registration process. There would be advisories on application of farm inputs and pesticide use. Small growers can also post queries for advice on pest control.
Tea Board of India: The Tea Board is set up under the Tea Act 1953. It has succeeded the Central Tea Board and the Indian Tea Licencing Committee which functioned respectively under the Central Tea Board Act, 1949 and the Indian Tea Control Act, 1938 which were repealed. The Tea Board is functioning as a statutory body of the Central Government under the Ministry of Commerce. The Board is constituted of 31 members (including Chairman) drawn from Members of Parliament, tea producers, tea traders, tea brokers, consumers, and representatives of Governments from the principal tea producing states, and trade unions. The Board is reconstituted every three years.
Functions: The Tea Board India is responsible for the assignment of certification numbers to exports of certain tea merchants. This certification is intended to ensure the teas’ origin, which in turn would reduce the amount of fraudulent labelling on rare teas. The Tea Board India’s tasks include endorsement of the diverse production and productivity of tea, financial support of research organisations and the monitoring of advances in tea packaging as it relates to health beneficial aspects. It coordinates research institutes, the tea trade and government bodies, ensuring the technical support of the tea trade in the global industry.
Andhra Pradesh government has proposed to set up a ‘Gaming Garage’ to generate employment and encourage entrepreneurs and game developers in view of its growing importance. The ‘Gaming Garage’ will be launched in Vijayawada very soon. Companies such as the Unity Technologies, Denmark/San Francisco would provide the software. The Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK) of Finland would be knowledge/operational partner. Any creative thinker could walk into the Garage to develop a game of choice. The government would provide them with “the necessary software and infrastructure free of cost”. It would also encourage them in commercialising their product. The gaming became an industry with crores of rupees turnover with the rapid development of computers and smartphone technologies. The Cabinet in April gave its nod to animations and visual effects, gaming and comics policy to attract the best from the sector and an investment of about ₹6,400 crore by 2020.
Invest India, the country’s investment promotion body, has won United Nations (UN) Award for excellence in promoting investments in sustainable development.
Invest India received this award for excellence in servicing and supporting major global wind turbines company in establishment of blade manufacturing plant in India while committing to train local staff and produce 1 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy. Implementation of this project is expected to reduce India’s wind energy cost significantly.
What is Invest India?
Invest India is the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India and acts as the first point of reference for investors in India.
Invest India is set up as a non profit venture under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India.
A joint venture: Operationalized in early 2010, Invest India is set up as a joint venture company between the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry (35% equity), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) (51% equity), and State Governments of India (0.5% each).
Functions: The core mandate of Invest India is investment promotion and facilitation. It provides sector-specific and state-specific information to a foreign investor, assists in expediting regulatory approvals, and offers hand-holding services. Its mandate also includes assisting Indian investors to make informed choices about investment opportunities overseas.
Why Invest in India?
India to remain one of the fastest growing economies in the world- International Monetary Fund.
FDI inflows increased by 37% since the launch of Make in India initiative.
Leading investors ranked India as the most attractive market.
Largest youth population in the world.
Huge domestic market.
Rising economic influence- IOR and INSTC.
India registered a record improvement on EoDB ranking from 142 to 100 between 2014-2017.
UN Investment Promotion Award:
The awards are given annually by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) since 2002 as part of its investment promotion and facilitation programme.
It honours investment promotion agencies (IPAs) and their governments for their achievements.
It also seeks to showcase best practices in attracting investment into Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-related projects that can inspire investment promotion practitioners in developing and developed countries.
Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)
PESO is the apex department to control and administer manufacture, storage, transport and handling of explosives, petroleum, compressed gases and other hazardous substances in India. It functions under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is headed by Chief Controller of Explosives. It is headquartered at Nagpur, Maharashtra. It is responsible for the administration of a host of laws pertaining to the regulation of explosives. These include the Explosives Act, 1884; the Inflammable Substances Act, 1952 and the Explosives Rules, 2008. The PESO has been testing samples of crackers only for adherence to the sound limit of 125 decibels at a distance of four meters.
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI)
The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and Certified Professional Accountants Afghanistan (CPA Afghanistan).
The MoU will establish mutual co-operation framework in the areas of Capacity Building of “Afghanistan Accountancy Board (AAB)”, strengthening the IT Capacity and Quality Assurance in Afghanistan through facilitating Knowledge Transfer; Students and Members Exchange Programs; Conduct of Seminars, Conferences and Joint Activities mutually beneficial to both the parties.
ICAI: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament of India, ‘The Chartered Accountants Act, 1949′, to regulate the profession of Chartered Accountancy in India. ICAI is the second largest professional Accounting & Finance body in the world. ICAI is the only licensing cum regulating body of the financial audit and accountancy profession in India. It recommends the accounting standards to be followed by companies in India to National Advisory Committee on Accounting Standards (NACAS). ICAI is solely responsible for setting the Standards on Auditing (SAs) to be followed in the audit of financial statements in India. ICAI is one of the founder members of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA), and Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA).
Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF)
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for creation of special Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF).
The approval entails an estimated fund size of Rs.7,522 crore, comprising Rs.5,266.40 crore to be raised by the Nodal Loaning Entities (NLEs), Rs. 1,316.6 crore beneficiaries contribution and Rs.939.48 crore budgetary support from the Government of India.
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), National Cooperatives Development Corporation (NCDC) and all scheduled Banks (hereinafter referred as Banks) shall be the nodal Loaning Entities.
Benefits- it helps in:
Creation of fisheries infrastructure facilities both in marine and Inland fisheries sectors.
Employment opportunities to over 9.40 lakh fishers/fishermen/fisherfolk and other entrepreneurs in fishing and allied activities.
Attracting private investment in creation and management of fisheries infrastructure facilities.
Adoption of new technologies.
Augmenting fish production to achieve its target of 15 million tonne by 2020 set under the Blue Revolution; and achieving a sustainable growth of 8% -9% thereafter to reach the fish production to the level of about 20 MMT by 2022-23.
Funds: FIDF would provide concessional finance to State Governments / UTs and State entities, cooperatives, individuals and entrepreneurs etc., for taking up of the identified investment activities of fisheries development. Under FIDF, loan lending will be over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23 and maximum repayment will be over a period of 12 years inclusive of moratorium of two years on repayment of principal.
International Air Transport Association (IATA)
In its latest 20-year forecast for the aviation industry, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that India will be the third largest aviation market globally a year sooner than was earlier predicted. It is now expected to be among the top three countries by 2024 from its current seventh position.
Highlights of the report:
Air passenger numbers worldwide could double to 8.2 billion in 2037. The biggest contribution in this growth will come from the Asia-Pacific region, which will account for half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 years.
While China will climb up one spot to displace US as the world’s largest aviation market in the mid-2020s, India will take the third place by surpassing the U.K. around 2024.
By 2037, India is expected to add 414 million passengers to its existing 572 million passengers.
In fact, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to see the fastest growth at the rate of 4.8%, followed by Africa (4.6%) and west Asia (4.4%).
The other south-east Asian countries predicted to grow rapidly include Indonesia, likely to be the fourth largest by 2030 from its current ranking of 10th largest aviation market. Thailand, too, is expected to enter the top 10 markets in 2030.
What is it? The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 280 airlines or 83% of total air traffic. Formed in April 1945, it is the successor to the International Air Traffic Association, which was formed in 1919.
What it does? IATA supports airline activity and helps formulate industry policy and standards. It also provides consulting and training services in many areas crucial to aviation.
Headquarters: It is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with Executive Offices in Geneva, Switzerland.
India Mobile Congress 2018 held in New Delhi
The second edition of India Mobile Congress (IMC-2018) was held New Delhi from October 25-27, 2018. It was organised by Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). The theme was “New Digital Horizons. Connect. Create. Innovate”.
It saw participation of more than 200,000 professionals from telecom industry, encompassing 5G, start-up ecosystem, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Smart Cities and allied industry sectors. The exhibition featured more than 1,300 exhibitors. It saw greater International presence with participation of policy makers and regulators from partner countries from ASEAN (Association for Southeast Asian Countries) and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) besides US, Canada and European Union (EU).
India Mobile Congress (IMC)
IMC was launched in 2017 to provide platform for policy makers, industry and regulators to engage in meaningful deliberations to drive the future direction of telecom sector. The first IMC held in September 2017 was attended by around 2,000 delegates, 32,000 visitors, 152 speakers, 100 exhibitors and 100 start-ups.
Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board to issue masala bonds worth Rs 5,000 crore for development works
Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) is going to issue masala bonds worth Rs. 5,000 crore to mobilise funds for various development works. KIIFB has appointed Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings for rating the masala bonds issue. The bonds will be listed in London and Singapore stock exchanges. The funds will be raised in tranches over period of 10 years.
KIIFB: It is Kerala government owned financial institution. Its mandate is to mobilize funds for infrastructure development from outside state revenue. It is statutory body constituted by Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Act, 1999.
Masala bonds are rupee-denominated bonds through which Indian entities can raise money from foreign markets in rupee and not in foreign currency. Basically, it is debt instruments used by corporates to raise money from foreign investors in local currency. The issuance of rupee denominated bonds transfers risk associated with currency fluctuations to investors and not to the issuers. This is especially during depreciation of domestic currency and when borrowing is in foreign currency as company has to pay more while repaying its debt, or while servicing interest on such borrowings if the rupee weakened. From the issuer’s perspective, masala bonds provides cheaper borrowings compared to raising funds in India besides helps in diversifying its sources of fund-raising. Besides, it also helps in internationalization of the rupee and in expansion of Indian bond markets. Its issuance in long term can help to check slide of rupee and also reduce current account deficit over time.
Currency manipulator tag
What is currency manipulation and who determines it?
The US Department of the Treasury publishes a semi-annual report in which the developments in global economic and exchange rate policies are reviewed. If a US trade partner meets three assessment criteria, the US labels it a currency manipulator. The US then tries to solve it via bilateral talks.
The October report of the Treasury says that it continues to press major trading partners that have maintained large, persistent external surpluses to support stronger and more balanced global growth by facilitating domestic demand growth as the primary engine for economic expansion.
How are countries identified for the currency manipulation list?
The US Treasury has established thresholds for the three criteria. First, a significant bilateral trade surplus with the US is one that is at least $20 billion; second, a material current account surplus is one that is at least 3% of GDP; and third, persistent, one-sided intervention reflected in repeated net purchases of foreign currency and total at least 2% of an economy’s GDP over a year. The Treasury’s goal is to focus attention on those nations whose bilateral trade is most significant to the US economy and whose policies are the most material for the global economy.
How are currencies on the watch list faring in 2018?
Such currencies have been falling against the dollar. Japan’s yen fell 0.13%, South Korea’s won slipped 5.13%, Switzerland’s Swiss Franc fell 2.3% and China’s yuan dropped 6.3%.
Does India feature on the currency manipulation list?
The US Treasury, in its report, said no major trading partner met the criteria to be designated as manipulating its currency. It has kept India, China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Switzerland on the monitoring list. It said that India’s circumstances have shifted markedly, as the central bank’s net sales of forex over the first six months of 2018 led net purchases over the four quarters through June 2018 to fall to $4 billion, or 0.2% of GDP. The rupee has depreciated by 13.05% this fiscal.
Do policymakers in India need to worry?
Economists say India doesn’t need to worry as it only meets one of the three criteria. If this remains the case at the time of its next report, Treasury would remove India from the Monitoring List. India being on the watch list was not important. If we were to be labelled as manipulators, there would have been pressure on India to reduce tariffs.
The government of Uttar Pradesh in association with the Government of India is organizing a mega Agriculture Expo called “Krishi Kumbh-2018”.
Krishi Kumbh- 2018: Krishi Kumbh-2018 would comprise of the National level exhibition, technical sessions around the theme of doubling farmers income, Business Meet, and host of other engaging activities. The primary objective of Krishi Kumbh 2018 is to provide a common platform to farmers, farmers group, technical experts and entrepreneurs for seamless exchange of knowledge regarding agriculture production food processing and marketing, agriculture mechanization, agro-food processing, high value crops, input and technology management in agriculture etc.
Significance: As Uttar Pradesh is the state with the largest number of farm holdings and largest numbers of farmers, this event offers a great opportunity for showcasing their work to the stakeholders in this field. The event is planned to project the state’s agriculture potential on one hand and provide a platform for interaction among stakeholders on the other hand. Participation of over one lakh farmers is expected in this mega event besides several ministers, senior Government officials and other Policy makers, international organizations, heads of banks and development institutions and captains of industries working in this vast area.
1ST World Agriculture Prize for Swaminathan
Renowned agricultural scientist and the chief architect of the green revolution in India, M S Swaminathan, was awarded the first World Agriculture Prize for his contributions to Indian agriculture . The prize, instituted by the private think tank Indian Council for Food and Agriculture (ICFA), includes a $100,000 cash award. (₹73,45,500) Receiving the prize, Swaminathan said: “There is no agriculture without farmers. It is the basic need of people and it cannot be commercialised”.
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC)
Department of Consumer Affairs & NCDRC had recently organized a conference to review functioning of State Commissions and District Fora. The Conference was attended by Presidents of State Commissions and Secretaries in charge of Consumer Affairs of States and UTs. The Conference is being held to discuss the issues relating to the functioning of the Consumer Fora such as pendency of case and filling up of vacancies in the post of President and Members of the Commissions.
The Conference is being held at a crucial time, when the Government has introduced a new Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 in the Lok Sabha repealing the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 with substantial changes for meeting the emerging challenges faced by consumers in the new markets.
NCDRC: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), India is a quasi-judicial commission in India which was set up in 1988 under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
The commission is headed by a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Section 21 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 posits that the National Consumer shall have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint valued more than one crore and also have Appellate and Revisional jurisdiction from the orders of State Commissions or the District fora as the case may be.
Section 23 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986, provides that any person aggrieved by an order of NCDRC, may prefer an Appeal against such order to Supreme Court of India within a period of 30 days.
Electoral bond scheme
The Finance Ministry has authorised the sale of sixth tranche of electoral bonds. The State Bank of India, will issue and encash them from November 1 to November 11 via its 29 authorised branches.
What are electoral bonds? Electoral bonds will allow donors to pay political parties using banks as an intermediary.
Key features: Although called a bond, the banking instrument resembling promissory notes will not carry any interest. The electoral bond, which will be a bearer instrument, will not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.
Eligibility: As per provisions of the Scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a citizen of India, or entities incorporated or established in India. A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals. Only the registered Political Parties which have secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha elections or the State Legislative Assembly are eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.
Need: The electoral bonds are aimed at rooting out the current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to the generation of black money in the economy.
11 Global Agriculture Summit – 2018
11th Global Agriculture Leadership Summit & Awards were recently organised by Indian Council of Food and Agriculture (ICFA) with support of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare; Ministry of Food Processing Industries and Ministry of Commerce.
Outcomes of the 2018 summit:
11th Global Leadership Awards were announced and the Agriculture Year Book 2018 was launched.
Leveraging upon its past experiencing, ICFA has launched 1st World Agriculture Prize and MS Swaminathan Global Dialogue on Climate Change and Food Security to come up with blue print for sustained agriculture growth in changing face of climate and weather extremes.
Global Agriculture Summit:
Global Agriculture Summit is an annual event organized by Indian Council of Food and Agriculture to discuss the broad scenario and trends in agriculture sector, trade, technology, investments and the need for appropriate policy initiatives on the part of the Government by bringing together eminent personalities of Indian and global agriculture on one platform.
The summit aims to discuss the broad issues in agriculture and agribusiness, and measures to empower farmers and unleash the potential of India’s agriculture sector by deliberating upon national and global challenges for farmers, agribusinesses and startups, the issue of employment and agriculture development and bring out a road map for the same.
Global Leadership Awards:
ICFA had established the Agriculture Leadership Awards in 2008 to recognize the leadership roles played by individuals and institutions positively impacting the lives of farmers and rural masses.
Notable facts and winners:
Andhra Pradesh CM N. Chandrababu Naidu was awarded the Policy Leadership Award for his proactive policies for uplifting the farming community by focusing on irrigation, investment, global partnerships, marketing initiatives and zero budget natural farming.
Best States in Various Fields: The best fisheries State Award was given Jharkhand for efforts in augmenting the production potential of the state in fisheries segment. Further, Bihar is Best Animal Husbandry State, Nagaland is best Horticultural state, Gujarat is Best Agriculture State and Haryana has been conferred with Program Leadership Award.
Indian Council of Food and Agriculture is an apex think tank for addressing policy issues concerning farmers, food and agro industries. ICFA is serving as global platform for trade facilitation, partnerships, technology, investments and agribusiness services.
Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)
The World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement body has set up a panel to examine the US complaint against certain export-subsidy measures by India as both the sides failed to resolve the issue at consultation level.
What’s the issue?
In March, the US dragged India to the global trade body’s dispute settlement mechanism over export subsidies, saying that these incentives were harming the American companies. The US has challenged India’s export subsidy programmes such as Merchandise Exports from India Scheme in the WTO, asserting that these initiatives harm its companies by creating an uneven playing field.
Dispute Settlement Body:
The General Council convenes as the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to deal with disputes between WTO members. Such disputes may arise with respect to any agreement contained in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round that is subject to the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU).
The DSB has authority to establish dispute settlement panels, refer matters to arbitration, adopt panel, Appellate Body and arbitration reports, maintain surveillance over the implementation of recommendations and rulings contained in such reports, and authorize suspension of concessions in the event of non-compliance with those recommendations and rulings.
MEIS- What is it?
Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) under Foreign Trade Policy of India (FTP 2015-20) is one of the two schemes introduced in Foreign Trade Policy of India 2015-20, as a part of Exports from India Scheme.
Objective of Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) as per Indian Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 (FTP 2015-20) is to offset infrastructural inefficiencies and associated costs involved in export of goods/products, which are produced/manufactured in India, especially those having high export intensity, employment potential and thereby enhancing India’s export competitiveness.
A.P. ranked first, with 10.5% growth
Andhra Pradesh has achieved the number one rank in the country with an average growth of 10.5% during the last four years.
It has surpassed many developed States such as Maharashtra and Gujarat following a “focused approach” and setting high targets for itself. Andhra Pradesh is the only State to clock the double-digit growth rate. Telangana has slipped to the second place, Maharashtra is ranked sixth. Punjab is placed 14th and Karnataka third. Telangana, which registered 6.8% growth in 2014-15 could achieve 10.4% in 2017-18.
Gujarat’s first Mega Food Park
Gujarat’s first Mega Food Park has been inaugurated in Surat.
Promoted by M/s Gujarat Agro Infrastructure Mega Food Park Pvt. Ltd the Park is located at Village Shah and Vasravi, Taluka Mangrol, District Surat. It will provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers.
Mega Food Parks: Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country.
The Scheme of Mega Food Park aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure maximizing value addition, minimizing wastages, increasing farmers’ income and creating employment opportunities particularly in rural sector. These food parks give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables. A maximum grant of R50 crore is given for setting up a MFP, in minimum 50 acres of contiguous land with only 50% contribution to the total project cost.
Mode of operation:
The Scheme has a cluster based approach based on a hub and spokes model. It includes creation of infrastructure for primary processing and storage near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs) and common facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central Processing Centre (CPC).
The PPCs are meant for functioning as a link between the producers and processors for supply of raw material to the Central Processing Centres.
CPC has need based core processing facilities and basic enabling infrastructure to be used by the food processing units setup at the CPC. The minimum area required for a CPC is 50 acres.
The scheme is demand-driven and would facilitate food processing units to meet environmental, safety and social standards.
Gujarat’s 2nd Mega Food Park has been sanctioned by the Ministry in Mehsana District of Gujarat.
India’s first container movement on inland waterways
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) will transport container cargo belonging to the food and beverage giant PepsiCo (India) from Kolkata to Varanasi on river Ganga (National Waterway-1).
Significance: This would be the country’s first container movement on inland vessel post-independence. PepsiCo (India) will move 16 containers – equivalent to 16 truckloads- filled with food and snacks in the vessel MV RN Tagore which will reach Varanasi in 9-10 days. MV RN Tagore will make its return journey with fertilizers belonging to IFFCO that will be procured from its Phulpur plant near Allahabad.
The government is developing NW-1 (River Ganga) under Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) from Haldia to Varanasi (1390 Km) with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs 5369 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1500-2,000 DWT.
States covered under NW-1: States: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal.
Benefits of container movement on inland waterways:
Container cargo transport comes with several inherent advantages. Even as it reduces the handling cost, allows easier modal shift, reduces pilferages and damage, it also enables cargo owners to reduce their carbon footprints.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India. Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP. It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration.
India’s largest Dry Dock at Cochin Shipyard:
India’s largest Dry Dock will be built at Cochin Shipyard. With this Cochin Shipyard will be able to build specialized and technologically advanced large vessels. The Dry Dock will give an impetus to “Make in India” initiative under Sagarmala and raise India’s share in global shipbuilding to 2%. India currently occupies 0.66% share in global shipbuilding market.
Time to talk: on Centre-RBI differences
The simmering tensions between the Reserve Bank of India and the Centre found spectacular release recently through a public speech by Deputy Governor Viral Acharya.
Important Facts: A certain amount of creative tension is systemically in-built between Reserve Bank of India and Centre given their different perspectives. For example, Centre’s concern is short-term and political while RBI’s concern is long-term and technical.
Though such tension is good for the economy, but there are few issues over which both the Centre and RBI are irked over each other.
Centre- RBI Conflict: Non-Performing Assets: Centre has refused to accept Governor Urjit Patel’s point that the RBI is hobbled by lack of adequate powers in regulating public sector banks to handle the non-performing assets crisis.
Forex reserve and fiscal deficit: The Centre is eyeing RBI’s burgeoning reserves to bridge its fiscal gap which RBI resents.
Payments regulator: The Centre is attempting to set up an independent payments regulator, which the RBI sees as encroachment of its jurisdiction.
Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)
FSDC meeting held recently was chaired by the Union Finance Minister. The Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was constituted in December, 2010. The FSDC was set up to strengthen and institutionalise the mechanism for maintaining financial stability, enhancing inter-regulatory coordination and promoting financial sector development.
The Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and its members are Governor, Reserve Bank of India; Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs; Secretary, Department of Financial Services; Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance; Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India; Chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority and Chairman, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. It also includes the chairman of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board (IBBI).
In May, the government through a gazette notification, had included ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) secretary in the FSDC in view of the increased focus of the government on digital economy.
What it does?
The Council deals, inter-alia, with issues relating to financial stability, financial sector development, inter–regulatory coordination, financial literacy, financial inclusion and macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates. No funds are separately allocated to the Council for undertaking its activities.
Commercial papers have become one of the popular routes for corporates to raise funds when compared with loans from banks in recent times.
What is a commercial paper?
A commercial Paper (CP) is an unsecured loan raised by firms in money markets through instruments issued in the form of a promissory note. CPs can be issued for maturities between a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of up to one year from the date of issue.
Why are CPs popular?
Because of surplus liquidity, short-term borrowing rates in money markets have significantly declined post demonetisation and are much lower than the lowest benchmark lending rates of the banks.
What are the advantages of issuing CPs?
Apart from being a cheaper source of funds, it helps meet funding requirements relatively quickly for better-rated corporates. Procedural requirements for securing bank facilities and charge creation on assets is not required.
What are the key challenges with CPS?
As the CP is an unsecured loan, the investor in commercial papers largely prefers highly-rated corporates or public sector entities in terms of credit rating. Lender appetite is limited to better rated companies.
Also commercial paper markets can be seasonal and vulnerable to liquidity conditions. In case of sudden tightening of liquidity, a firm’s ability to secure funding can be challenged. Within the year, liquidity conditions can become tight in certain months such as the end of a quarter, because of advance payment of taxes and the like. At such times, funding costs can also rise for the issue of CPs.
Therefore, commercial papers should not be used as a permanent source of capital and should largely be used to benefit from liquidity conditions and arbitrage in short-term borrowing rates.