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March 2017 Economic Affairs

  • India becomes third largest aviation market in domestic traffic
    India has become the third largest aviation market in terms of domestic passenger traffic, beating Japan. Sydney-based aviation think-tank Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation said in its latest report that India's domestic air passenger traffic stood at 100 million in 2016 and was behind only the US and China with 719 million and 436 million. 

    India acquired the third spot globally by unseating Japan, which flew 97 million domestic passengers in 2016. The report said domestic air traffic has shown a consistent growth of 20 -25 per cent throughout 2015 and 2016, peaking in January this year at 25.13 per cent. 

  • Telangana understated fiscal deficit by over Rs. 3,700 cr: CAG
    The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report on Telangana finances for the period ended March 2016 has observed “fiscal deficit, which stood at 3.23 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product, is understated by Rs. 3,719 crore by crediting budget borrowings to revenue receipts.” This would have the effect of increasing the ratio of fiscal deficit to GSDP from 3.23 per cent to 3.87 per cent, the auditor said. 

    On financial management and budgetary control, CAG pointed out many instances of unrealistic budgetary assumptions and weaknesses in expenditure monitoring and control during the year. The actual expenditure of Rs. 1, 04,098 crore incurred was less than the budget provision of Rs. 1, 39,360 crore and savings for the current year stood at Rs. 35,262 crore (25 per cent). 

    There were unrealistic budgetary allocations resulting in substantial savings, unnecessary supplementary grants, expenditure incurred without provision and excess re-appropriations, were indicative of poor budget management. 

    The state registered revenue surplus of Rs. 238 crore during 2015-16 and overstated due to misclassification of grants in aid under capital heads and crediting of budget borrowings of Rs. 3,719 crore to revenue receipts. 

  • Govt imposes 10 % import duty on wheat, turdal
    Government on 28th March imposed ten per cent import duty on wheat and tur dal with immediate effect to protect farmers' interest amid projection of a record crop this year. On 8th of December last year, the government had reduced customs duty on wheat to zero from 10 per cent to boost domestic availability and check retail prices. There has been nil duty on tur dal. 

    The move will help curb sharp fall in the wholesale prices of these commodities and ensure support price to farmers. 

    As per the government's second estimate, wheat production is estimated at record 96.64 million tonnes in the 2016-17 crop year as against 92.29 million tonnes in 2015-16 on the back of a good monsoon. Similarly, tur dal production is estimated to be 4.23 million tonnes as against 2.56 million tonnes in the said period. 

  • All four GST Bills passed in Lok Sabha
    The Lok Sabha on 29th March passed Goods and Services Tax Bills rejecting amendments moved by the opposition. The Bills are related to Central GST, Integrated GST, UT GST and GST Compensation. The compensation law has been prepared to give a legislative backing to the Centre's promise to compensate the states for five years for any revenue loss arising out of GST implementation. 

    Government has set a target of first of July for rollout of GST, which will subsume excise, service tax, VAT and other local levies. Once these Bills are cleared by Parliament, the states will then take the state GST Bill to their respective assemblies. S-GST has been prepared as a model of the central GST, with each state incorporating state-specific exemptions. 

  • Centre approves strategic divestment of three loss-making SAIL units
    The central government has approved strategic disinvestment of three loss-making units of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) — Visveswaraya Iron and Steel Plant, Bhadravati, Salem Steel Plant and Alloy Steels Plant, a Sail subsidiary based in Durgapur. 

    The entire process of the strategic disinvestment would be carried out with the help of a transaction advisor, a legal advisor and an asset valuer, the process of appointment of which has already begun. Despite investment of around Rs 400 crore, Visveswaraya is making losses for the past 10 years. 

    Similarly, despite investment of around Rs 2,200 crore under a modernisation and expansion plan, the Salem plant is making losses for the past five years, as is Alloys Steel. A major modernisation and expansion programme had been carried out simultaneously at all the five major plants — Bhilai, Bokaro, Rourkela, Durgapur and Burnpur and the special steel plant at Salem. 

    The expansion plan, besides capacity enhancement from 12.8 million tonnes per annum to 21.4 million tonnes per annum of crude steel, adequately addresses the need of the Sail plants towards eliminating technological obsolescence leading to improvement in operational efficiency. 

  • Odisha - First state to bring banking to remote rural areas through SHG
    Odisha became the first Indian state to extend banking facilities to masses in unbanked areas through Self Help Groups (SHGs). To implement this initiative, Odisha State Government has signed an agreement with State Bank of India (SBI). Odisha Govt.'s Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM) is the main party (corporate agent) in this agreement with SBI. 

  • UDAN takes off: 5 airlines to fly 128 routes, link 70 airports
    Five airlines will operate on 128 routes connecting over 30 unserved airports under the regional connectivity scheme wherein fares are capped at Rs 2,500 for one-hour flights. The first flight under the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme is expected to start next month. As many as 70 airports, including 31 unserved and 12 under-served ones, would be connected with the UDAN flights. 

    A total of 128 routes are being awarded to a total of five operators. The operators are Air India's subsidiary Airline Allied Services, Spice Jet, Air Deccan, Air Odisha and Turbo Megha. These flights would connect airports spread across over 20 states and union territories including Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. 

    The airports that would be connected under UDAN include Bhatinda, Shimla, Bilaspur, Neyveli, Cooch Behar, Nanded and Kadapa. On each flight, 50 per cent of the seats would have a cap of Rs 2,500 per seat/hour. Under UDAN, the operators would be extended viability gap funding for which money is partly raised through a levy of up to Rs 8,500 on flights operating in major routes like Delhi and Mumbai. 

    The viability gap funding amount is estimated to be around Rs 205 crore per annum for the operators chosen in the first round of bidding. Airports Authority of India (AAI) is the implementing agency for UDAN. 

  • RBI to set up separate Enforcement department
    RBI will set up a separate enforcement department to oversee possible breaches of rules and take punitive actions against those who violate them. According to the Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar the department will develop a broad policy for enforcement and initiate action against the regulated entities for violation consistent with such policy. He said the department is proposed to be opened on Monday, will serve as a centralised wing to deal with banks only for enforcement action. 

  • GST Council clears 5 rules; 4 more get tentative nod
    Moving a step closer to the rollout of the country’s largest tax reform, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on Friday approved five of the rules for the levy and also gave its tentative nod to four other rules. 

    The Council took up four new sets of GST rules relating to input tax credit, valuation, transitional provisions and composition. These have been tentatively approved by the Council and the final approval will be given after they are put up in public. 

    The Council also cleared five set of rules relating to refunds, registration, invoices, payments and processes, after incorporating some fresh amendments following the passage of enabling legislations for Central, UT, Integrated GST and compensation in the Lok Sabha. The Centre and States will now meet on May 18 and 19 in Srinagar to approve the rate structure for individual commodities and services. 

  • Five State Banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank merge with SBI
    Five associates and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank became part of the State Bank of India, catapulting the country's largest lender to among the top 50 banks in the world. State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore, besides Bharatiya Mahila Bank merged with SBI. 

    The total customer base of the bank will reach 37 crores with a branch network of around 24,000 and nearly 59,000 ATMs across the country. The merged entity will have a deposit base of more than 26 lakh crore rupees and advances level of 18.50 lakh crore rupees. 

  • April-Feb fiscal deficit at Rs 6.05 lakh crore
    The government's fiscal deficit stood at 6.05 lakh crore rupees at the end of February this year which is 113.4 per cent of the full year fiscal deficit target for the entire 2016-17 fiscal. Fiscal deficit, which is a reflection of the government's borrowing to meet the revenue-expenditure gap, was 107.4 per cent in the corresponding period last year. 

    According to data released by the Controller General of Accounts, the revenue deficit during the April 2016 to February 2017 period was 142.8 per cent of the budget estimate. 

  • Enforcement Directorate raids shell companies across the country
    Enforcement Directorate has launched one of its biggest crackdowns on shell companies across the country. The department is carrying out raids across 100 locations in India. Over 300 shell companies have been identified and are under the scanner. Enforcement directorate raids at companies in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Bhuvaneshwar, Kolkata and other metro cities. 

    A task force has also been set up to monitor action taken against shell companies. There are about Rs 15 Lakh registered companies in India out of which only 6 lakh companies file their income tax returns. These companies are alleged to have transferred money during the time when exchange of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes was allowed. The companies are also suspected to be involved in money laundering. 

    A shell company is described as a non-trading organization that does not engage in any activity but exists only as medium for another organization’s business activity. 

    Shell companies are usually listed on the stock exchange and are not illegal inherently; however a large number of them are used as a vehicle for illegal activities like tax avoidance or for trying to cover up a trail of money. These companies exist only on paper and have no physical presence. 

  • G20 finance ministers drop anti-protectionist pledge
    G-20 nations have dropped a long-standing anti-protectionist pledge and a vow on action against climate change, after opposition from the United States. The Finance ministers from the world's largest economies met in the southern German town of Baden-Baden, but failed to renew their pledge to bolster free trade. They issued a statement saying that they were working to strengthen the contribution of trade to their economies. 

  • Cabinet clears 4 GST supplementary legislations for introduction to parliament
    The Cabinet on 20th March cleared four supporting Goods and Services Tax legislations, paving the way for their introduction in Parliament soon. The supporting legislations include, The Compensation Law, the Central-GST (C-GST), Integrated-GST (I-GST) and Union Territory-GST (UT-GST) would be introduced as Money Bill. 

    Once approved by Parliament, the states would start taking their State-GST (S-GST) bill for discussion and passage in the respective state assemblies. The GST Council, in its previous two meetings, had given approval to the four legislations as also the State-GST bill. While the S-GST has to be passed by each of the state legislative assemblies, the four other laws have to be approved by Parliament. 

  • Lok Sabha passes Appropriation Bill, 2017
    The Lok Sabha has passed the Appropriation Bill, 2017 by voice authorizing certain payments and appropriation from and out of the Consolidated Fund of India for 2017-18. The House also passed the outstanding Demands for Grants in respect of the Union Budget for 2017-18 rejecting all cut-motions moved by the Opposition members without discussion. 

  • Govt to merge Bharatiya Mahila Bank with SBI
    The Government has decided to merge the Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) with the State Bank of India (SBI) to ensure greater banking services outreach to a larger number of women, at a faster pace. The decision to merge BMB with SBI has been taken in view of the advantage of the large network of SBI among other things. 

    In the three years since BMB was established, it has extended loans of 192 crores to women borrowers, while the SBI group has provided loans of about 46 thousand crore rupees to them. 

  • Idea Cellular approves merger with Vodafone India, Vodafone Mobile Services
    Idea Cellular on 20th March approved its amalgamation with Vodafone India and Vodafone Mobile Services. In a regulatory filing, that the board of directors of Idea Cellular at its meeting held on 20th March approved the scheme of amalgamation of Vodafone India Limited (VIL) and its wholly owned subsidiary Vodafone Mobile Services Limited (VMSL) with the company. 

    The transaction is subject to necessary approvals from concerned authorities, including SEBI, Department of Telecom, RBI and others. The Idea-Vodafone merger will create the country's biggest telecom services provider with a customer base of over 394 million. 

  • Why people are not allowed to exchange their old currency notes; Supreme Court asks centre
    The Supreme Court asked the Central government why it has closed all options to deposit demonetised notes beyond the cut-off date of December 30, 2016. The court indicated that Parliament had left it to the Centre’s discretion to offer a grace period for those who were genuinely unable to deposit their old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes by December 30. 

    However, the Centre restricted the grace period till March 31, 2017 only to Indian citizens who were abroad during the period between November 9 and December 30, 2016. SC asked centre to file an affidavit by April 11, explaining the reason why such a window was not created. 

  • Union govt. Limits maximum allowed cash transaction at 2lakhs
    The Rs. 3 lakh ceiling on cash transactions from April 1, 2017, proposed in the Union Budget 2017-18, has been revised to Rs. 2 lakh, with the government introducing an amendment to this effect in the Finance Bill cleared by the Lok Sabha. 

    The penalty for violating this is a fine equivalent to the amount of transaction,” said Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money had suggested that no transaction above Rs. 3 lakh should be permitted in cash. “The government has decided to accept this proposal. 

  • Lok Sabha passes Finance Bill, 2017
    The Lok Sabha has passed the Finance Bill, 2017 to give effect to the financial proposals of the Central Government for the financial year 2017-18. In the bill the Government has capped cash transactions at two lakh rupees instead of three lakh rupees. It is one of the important amendments introduced in the Finance Bill. 

    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had moved 40 amendments to the bill. Besides, Income tax payers would have to declare their Aadhaar number in all tax returns filed from 1st of July. They would also have to link the Aadhaar number with the PAN before the July deadline. 

  • Cabinet approves amendments to NABARD Act 1981
    Cabinet has approved proposal for amendments to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development-NABARD Act, 1981. 

    The amendments include provisions that enable Central Government to increase the authorized capital of NABARD from Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore and to increase it beyond this in consultation with RBI. The amendments also include transfer of 0.4 percent equity of RBI in NABARD amounting to Rs 20 crores to the Government of India. 

    The transfer of entire shareholding in NABARD held by RBI to the Central Government will remove the conflict in RBI's role as banking regulator and shareholder in NABARD. 

    The proposed increase in the authorized capital would enable NABARD to respond to the commitments it has undertaken, particularly in respect of the Long Term Irrigation Fund and the recent cabinet decision regarding on-lending to cooperative banks. 

    Further, it will enable NABARD to augment its business and enhance its activities which would facilitate promotion of integrated rural development and securing prosperity of rural areas including generation of more employment. 

  • Cabinet approves amendment in Customs and Excise Act
    Cabinet has approved amendment in the Customs and Excise Act, relating to abolition of cesses and surcharges on various goods and services to facilitate implementation of GST Regime. 

    The approved proposals are amendment to the Customs Act, 1962, Customs Tariff Act, 1975, Central Excise Act, 1944, Repeal of the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 and amendment or repeal of the provisions relating to Acts under which cesses are levied. 

  • Qualcomm joins hands with T-Hub to support start-ups
    Qualcomm, a semiconductor and telecom products and services company, has signed an agreement with T-Hub, a start-up incubator, to help the start-up ecosystem. Under the agreement, Qualcomm has set up an Innovation Lab in Hyderabad, providing access to start-ups to the design, development and testing facilities. 

    T-Hub was part of the company’s Design in India Programme announced early this year. The $8.5-million programme includes Design in India challenge. The challenge, launched last year, targets 20 start-ups in two incubation cycles, with a focus on smart infrastructure, payment terminals, agricultural technology and Rural Internet of Things. 

    The first phase runs through January to July and the next phase after that. Seven start-ups have been shortlisted for semifinals. By the year-end, it will pick four other start-ups that will get $75,000. On its part, T-Hub will provide mentorship and logistics support from in-house experts for start-ups focused on innovation in areas such as financial technologies and smart cities. 

  • Centre approves assistance to states affected by natural disasters
    Centre on 23rd March approved assistance of about Rs. 5, 021 crore rupees to ten states affected by flood, drought and other natural disasters. 

    These states are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Manipur, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. Four thousand 979 crore rupees approved from National Disaster Response Fund and over 40 crore rupees from the National Rural Drinking Water Programme. 

  • Govt removes 1% TCS on cash purchase above Rs 2 lakh
    The government has done away with the one per cent tax on cash payments of over 2 lakh rupees for purchase of any goods or service after it banned cash dealings above that limit from 1st of April. 

    However, in the Budget 2017-18, presented in February, 2017 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley brought in a new provision banning cash transaction above 3 lakh rupees but through an amendment the limit was lowered to two lakh rupees. 

  • Andhra Pradesh tops in Aadhaar seeding of Jan Dhan accounts
    Post demonetisation of specified bank notes on November 8, 2016, more accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) have been seeded with Aadhaar numbers. Of the 25.51 crore PMJDY accounts on November 9, around 53.65 per cent were seeded with Aadhaar numbers. Four months hence, the number of PMJDY accounts has gone up to 28.01 crores, and the share of Aadhaar-seeded accounts has risen to 63.61 per cent. 

    As on March 15, Andhra Pradesh had linked 87.73 per cent of its Jan-Dhan accounts with Aadhaar numbers. This was followed by Tripura at 87.08 per cent and Telangana 83.56 per cent. Maharashtra had linked 80 per cent of its 1.86 crore PMJDY accounts with Aadhaar numbers by March 15. The seeding remained below the 10 per cent range in Assam (1.3 per cent) and Meghalaya (2.08 per cent). Of the 1.1 crore PMJDY accounts in Assam, around 1.49 lakh were seeded by March 15. 

  • Centre approves construction of 1Cr tonne capacity silos by end of year 2019-20
    The Centre has approved construction of one crore tonne capacity silos for storage of food grains by the end of year 2019-20. According to Minister of State for Consumers, Food and Public Distribution, C.R. Chaudhuri, these silos will be constructed by Food Corporation of India, FCI as well as State Governments in Public Private Partnership mode in a phased manner. 

    FCI handles about six crore tonnes of wheat and rice annually. Silos are safer and modern means of food grains storage. In these silos, food grains can be stored for a longer period, with reduced losses and less handling and labour costs. 

  • Govt forms 10 groups to sort out sector-specific issues under GST
    With the goods and services tax (GST) set to be rolled out from July 1, the government has set up 10 working groups to address the concerns of industry. The groups cover banking, telecom, exports, information technology, transport, textiles, MSMEs, gems and jewellery and services received and provided by the government. The deadline of submitting reports by the groups is April 10. 

    The groups have been asked to give suggestions on procedural simplifications and possible rate structure. Issues raised by sectors employing large workforce and with vast disparity such as textiles will also be addressed. Oil industry's concerns due to exclusion of its certain segments would also be deliberated on and those may include production sharing contracts. 

  • Union Cabinet approves proposal to establish a Fund of Funds for Start-ups
    The Union Cabinet on 22 March 2017 approved the proposal to establish the Fund of Funds of Start-ups (FFS). The Union Cabinet in 2016 approved the proposal to establish a Fund of Funds for Start-ups (FFS) with a total corpus of Rs 10000 crore. 

    It was decided that the FFS shall contribute to the corpus of Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) for investing in equity and equity linked instruments. The FFS is being managed and operated by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). FFS contributes to SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) that may go up to a maximum of 35 per cent of the corpus of the AIF concerned. 

    Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) supported by FFS shall invest at least twice the amount of contribution received from FFS in Start-ups. If the amount committed for a Start-up in whole has not been released before a Start-up ceases to be so, the balance funding can continue thereafter. 

    It was also decided that operating expenses will be met out of the FFS to the extent of 0.50 per cent of the commitments made to AIFs and outstanding. 

    The operating expenses include carrying out due diligence, legal and technical appraisal, convening meeting of Venture Capital Investment etc. The operating expenses will be debited to the fund at the beginning of each half year that is on 1 April and 1 October. 

  • Bill passed for SC/ST development fund
    The Telangana State SCs and STs Special Development Fund (Planning, Allocation and Utilisation of Financial Resources) Bill, 2017 was passed by the State Legislative Assembly on 24th March. 

    The Bill has introduced a few improvements over the sub-plan Act of 2013, especially the increase of the ratio of mandatory targeted population to 40 % from the previous 20 % for a habitation to be declared SC or ST. Further, the time limit of 10 years has been done away with, and provisions have been incorporated for compensating for a year’s unspent funds in the subsequent year’s budget. 

    According to SC Development Minister G. Jagadish Reddy the new bill was mandated by the Central government’s decision to do away with Plan and Non-Plan Budget. As per the new bill, funds have to be accounted for at the end of every quarter, to the vigilance committees to be formed at the district level. The SC Welfare Committee at the State level would review the same every six months. 

  • India Ranks 87 in Energy Architecture Performance Index 2017
    India has been placed at 87th position among 127 countries in the global Energy Architecture Performance Index (EAPI) 2017 by World Economic Forum released on March 22, 2017. The 5th annual index has been topped by Switzerland while Bahrain is ranked the lowest at 127th. The top 5 countries are Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and France. 

  • World Bank inks 100 million dollars Healthcare deal for Uttarakhand
    India has signed Financing Agreement with World Bank for 100 million US dollars for Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project. The agreement was signed in Delhi by Raj Kumar who is Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, and Hisham Abdo, Acting Country Director, of World Bank. 

    The objective of the project is to improve access to quality health services, particularly in the hilly districts of Uttarakhand. It will help expand health financial risk protection and benefit the residents of hilly districts in particular. 

  • Aadhaar to be mandatory for getting Telecom connection
    The Department of Telecom (DoT) has sent a notice to all telecom operators that all mobile phone subscribers both prepaid and postpaid will have to be verified using e-KYC by February 6, 2018. The notice came after the Supreme Court said that all phone numbers in India need to have verified users. The telecom operators will have to re-verify its existing users through Aadhaar. 

  • ICICI Bank, SBI top bank frauds list: RBI
    RBI data says, ICICI Bank topped the list of banks that witnessed most number of frauds during April to December period of 2016 with state-owned SBI taking the second spot. 

    During the first nine months of the current fiscal, as many as 455 fraud cases, involving 1 lakh rupees and above, were detected in ICICI Bank, closely followed by SBI with 429, Standard Chartered with 244 and HDFC Bank with 237. 

    However, in value terms, frauds involving 2,237 crore rupees were reported in SBI, followed by Punjab National Bank with 2,250 crore rupees and Axis Bank with 1,998 crore rupees. 

  • KCR Kit’ scheme for pregnant women, new born
    Focusing on women welfare and new born, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has come out with an innovative scheme – KCR Kit. The scheme is designed to address complications during the time of pregnancy and aimed at reducing infant mortality rate and encourage institutional deliveries. The government proposes to earmark Rs. 605 crore for the scheme, State Finance Minister Etela Rajender said during the budget speech. 

    The KCR Kit consists of 16 essential things needed for a new-born and will be useful for up to three months. The kit comes packed with soaps useful for mother and child, baby oil, baby bed, mosquito net, dresses, sarees, hand bag, towels and napkins, powder, diapers, shampoo and toys for the kid. 

    The State has initiated a number of measures for the welfare of women and children. In order to provide nutritious food to pregnant and lactating women and infants under Arogya Lakshmi, eggs, milk and nutritious food will be made available through the Anganwadis. For easy digestion, ‘Sanna Biyyam’ (fine rice) will be supplied through these Anganwadis. 

    The State proposes to compensate pregnant women for the loss of income during the pregnancy period (where women tend to work) and offer Rs. 4,000 in assistance and another Rs. 4,000 after discharge from hospital. And at the time of vaccination, Rs. 4,000 will be provided taking the total assistance to Rs. 12,000 to women undergoing institutional delivery. And to cap it all, in the case of delivery of a baby girl, the mother gets additional Rs. 1,000. 

  • Parliamentary panel picks holes in rural electrification scheme
    The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy has called for more robust monitoring and implementation of the rural electrification programme. In its 26th report on Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy noted, “Though many States have made commendable progress, some States are still lagging behind”. 

    To which, the Ministry of Power has responded, “Not every State is in a similar condition, some works could not be undertaken in Jammu and Kashmir because tender work is under process”. The report also noted that there was very little utilisation of funds under the Heads of CPRI, Energy Conservation, Integrated Power Development Scheme and PSDF. 

    The Committee has raised the issue of non-inclusion of various villages under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojna. It has also sought details of the mechanism to cross check the list of unelectrified villages prepared by the State governments. 

    The Ministry said, “The Central government relies upon reports submitted by the State discoms for updating the status of village electrification”. In its recommendations, the Committee has said that during 2016-17, some important heads have “very poor utilisation of funds”. 

    The report states, “NEEPCO, against their budgetary estimation of Rs. 166.13 crore, could spend nothing. Similarly, no fund could be utilised under the head of strengthening transmission system in the States of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and Power System Improvement Project in North-Eastern Region.” 

  • Parliament passes Enemy Property Bill
    The Lok Sabha passed the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill,2016. The amendments to the Bill were moved by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the House. The Bill will replace the ordinance promulgated by the government. It guards against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after wars. 

    The Bill amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to vest all rights, titles and interests over enemy property in the Custodian. It also declares transfer of enemy property by the enemy, conducted under the Act, to be void. 

    As per the amendments, once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it shall continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death. 

  • Cabinet clears special assistance for EAPs in Andhra Pradesh
    The Cabinet has approved financial assistance for bifurcated Andhra Pradesh by way of special dispensation in funding of externally aided projects (EAPs) and also the irrigation component of Polavaram project. 

    The special assistance will be provided to the state towards repayment of loan and interest for EAPs signed and disbursed from 2015-16 to 2019-20. The Centre will also fund 100 per cent of the irrigation component of the Polavaram project starting from 1st of April, 2014. 

    The Andhra Pradesh Government will execute the project on behalf of the Centre. However, overall coordination, quality control, design issues, monitoring and clearance related issues are to be dealt by the Polavaram Project Authority of the Ministry of Water Resources. 

  • Nirmala Sitharaman launches Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme
    Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman 15th March launched the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES). The scheme is focused on addressing the needs of the exporters. The focus is not just to create infrastructure but to make sure it is professionally run and sustained. 

    The Minister said the proposals of the implementing agencies for funding will be considered by an inter-ministerial empowered committee specially constituted for this Scheme to be chaired by the Commerce Secretary. 

  • Nod for marketing and pricing freedom for CBM production
    Bringing clarity to gas sold from Coal Bed Methane (CBM) Blocks, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has allowed marketing and pricing freedom to contractors. This is an attempt to synergies all gas prices in the country and a step towards enabling a Uniform Licensing Regime for hydrocarbon exploration. 

    Contractors have also been allowed to sell the produce to their own affiliates if they do not find any buyers. However, contractors will continue to pay royalty and cess to the government on the basis of notified price or selling price, whichever is higher. 

    In another decision, the CCEA also allowed Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) to completely exit its stake in Lubrizol India Private Ltd (LIPL). The CCEA granted its in-principal approval for IOCL to offload its 24 per cent stake in LIPL to Lubrizol Corporation, US, the other joint venture partner. 

    The CCEA also approved the six-laning of Handia-Varanasi section of National Highway 2 in Uttar Pradesh. It estimated the cost of the project at Rs. 2,147.33 crore, inclusive of the cost of land acquisition, resettlement, rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The 73-km road project has been approved under the Hybrid Annuity Mode. 

  • GST Council approves draft state GST & Union Territory GST bills
    Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council has approved the draft state GST and Union Territory GST bills to enable rollout of the new indirect tax regime from first July this year. In the last meeting, the council had approved the draft of key supporting legislations, Central GST and Integrated GST. 

    According to Union Finance Minister Jaitley, supporting GST laws will now be taken up in the Cabinet meeting and after that it will be tabled in Parliament for approval. Finance Ministry had said, the model GST Law will have a clause to enable levy of up to 40 per cent tax, 20 per cent by the Centre and states each. 

    However, the effective tax rates will be kept at the previously approved levels of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent. A maximum of 15 per cent cess on top of the peak GST rate of 28 per cent will be levied on luxury goods and aerated drinks after the GST Council approved a cap on cess. 

    The actual cess on demerit goods, which will help create a corpus for compensating states for any loss of revenue from GST implementation in the first five years, may be lower than the cap as the Council has kept a little headroom for future exigencies. 

  • Lok Sabha passes Demands for Grants of Defence Ministry for next financial year
    The Lok Sabha on 17th March passed the Demands for Grants of Ministry of Defence for 2017-18 after negating all cut-motions moved by the opposition. According to Minister of State for Defence Dr Subhash Bhamre, the Indian Armed Forces are well prepared to meet any challenge against national security. 

    Besides importing requisite armaments as per their demands, the public sector undertakings have been fully involved in producing equipment for the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force. 

  • Shaktiman to set up farm equipment unit in Telangana
    The Telangana government and Tirth Agro Technology Pvt Ltd (Shaktiman) have inked a memorandum of understanding for setting up a centre of excellence and manufacturing facility for farm machinery. This will be the company’s second manufacturing facility in the country for farm equipment after Rajkot in Gujarat. 

    According to State Industries Minister KT Rama Rao it has been the government’s priority to encourage local manufacturing and promised all support to Shaktiman. The centre of excellence and the manufacturing facility would come up on a 200 acre site. 

  • Over 100 Garib Nawaz Kaushal Vikas Kendras to be set up
    Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that 5 lakh girls will be given scholarships and over 100 Garib Nawaz Kaushal Vikas Kendras to be set up across the country. He added that Government will build toilets in one lakh madrasas by end of next financial year under 'Swachh Bharat' Mission. 

  • POSCO closes last chapter in Odisha project
    South Korean steel major Posco has scrapped the plan to set up a 12-million tonnes steel mill in Paradip, Odisha. It has written to the state government that it wants to surrender the land allotted for the project. It is the second big-ticket foreign direct investment (FDI) project to leave Odisha, after Arcelor-Mittal walked out of its project in 2013. 

    Posco had signed an agreement with the state government in June, 2005, seeking 4,004 acres of land to set up the project. The land acquisition was delayed due to agitation by the locals, which often took a violent turn. 

  • Govt. nod to sale of 3 SAIL special steel plants
    The government has approved outright sale of state-owned Steel Authority of India Limited's (SAIL's) three special steel units, including Salem and Alloy Steel plants. 

    In pursuance of the decision, SAIL has now sought advisors, including legal and merchant bankers, to carry out the strategic sale along with transfer of management control in the three steel plants -- Alloy Steels Plant (ASP), Salem Steel Plant (SSP) and Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant (VISP). 

    The strategic sale of these three units is likely to happen only in the next financial year beginning April. The government has budgeted to raise Rs 15,000 crore from strategic disinvestment in 2017-18. 

    ASP is located at Durgapur in West Bengal spread over around 467.22 hectares. It has a diverse product portfolio of over 400 grades catering to end-use by strategic sectors like defence, railways, automobiles, power plants, heavy engineering and manufacturing industries. 

    SSP in Tamil Nadu can produce stainless steel in the form of coils and sheets with an installed capacity of 70,000 tonnes a year in cold rolling mill and 3.64 lakh tonnes a year in hot rolling mill. 

    Located in Bhadravati, Karnataka, VISP produces high quality alloy and special steels and pig iron. The unit has an installed capacity of 2.16 lakh tonnes of hot metal and 98,280 tonnes of alloy and special steels. 

  • China's GDP growth target at 25 Year Low
    Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang on 5th March slashed China's GDP growth target for this year to a 25-year low of 6.5 percent. The Chinese Premier set the target in a 42-page work report to the National People's Congress. 

    This closely-watched figure is down from last year's actual GDP growth of 6.7 per cent, indicating the continuation of an economic slowdown. The previous low was a 6 per cent target for gross national product growth in 1992, said a report by state-run news agency, Zinhua. 

  • Cabinet approves development of 50 un-served and under-served air strips
    The CCEA has approved the proposal for revival of 50 un-served, under-served airports and airstrips of the State Governments, Airports Authority of India and Civil enclaves in three financial years starting from 2017-18. The total cost of the project is estimated to be 4500 crore rupees. 

    15 airports and airstrips each would be revived during 2017-18 and 2018-19 each while 20 airports and airstrips would be revived during 2019-20. As an outcome of the approval, small cities and towns will be connected on commencement of operation of flights to under-served and un-served airports. 

    The announcement for making adequate provisions for revival of unserved and under-served airports was made by the Finance Minister in Union Budget 2016-17. 

  • No one to be deprived of benefits for lack of Aadhaar: Govt of India
    Government on 7th March said that no one will be deprived of the benefits for lack of Aadhaar number. In a statement, the Government reiterated that till Aadhaar number is assigned to any individual, the benefit will continue on alternate means of identification. 

    It also directed the departments to provide Aadhaar enrolment facilities to their beneficiaries. In view of usefulness of Aadhaar in curbing leakages and bringing transparency in delivery system, the government recently issued orders to use Aadhaar in several other welfare schemes funded from the Consolidated Fund of India. 

    So far Aadhaar has been issued to over 112 crore people and it has become an important tool of transformation, good governance and empowerment of people. The total savings because of plugging of leakages due to Aadhaar during the last two and half years has reached 49 thousand crore rupees. 

  • Indian economy to grow 7.1% this fiscal: Global rating agency Fitch
    Global rating agency Fitch on 7th March said, Indian economy will grow by 7.1 per cent in the current fiscal before stepping up to 7.7 per cent in the next two financial years. The US-based agency has termed 7 per cent GDP growth for the October-December quarter as surprising and tad lower than 7.4 per cent in the previous quarter. 

    It said the December quarter GDP number suggests that economic activity was hardly hit by the cash crunch after the government's move to remove 86 per cent of currency in circulation overnight. Fitch said, gradual implementation of the structural reform agenda is expected to contribute to higher growth, as will higher real disposable income. 

  • 41 named in Panama Papers under ED lens
    The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has instituted formal investigations against 41 Indian nationals whose names cropped up in the Panama Papers leak for alleged undisclosed business interests in offshore companies. Notices have also been served on several entities to join the probe. 

  • Govt launches web portal for obtaining CRZ clearances
    Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave on 8th March launched the web portal for obtaining Coastal Regulation Zone clearances in New Delhi. 

    The Minister termed the launch of the portal as a good example of ease of doing business. He said, the system will enable the project proponents and the concerned State and Union Territory bodies like the State Coastal Zone Management Authorities and Municipal Planning agencies in tracking the status of their proposals. 

    Mr. Dave said, the objectives of the portal include - enhancing efficiency, transparency and accountability in the process of CRZ clearances. He said, the Portal is a very user-friendly initiative, which enables submission of applications for CRZ clearance in a single-window interface. 

  • NITI Aayog forms panel on model contract farming
    NITI Aayog has formed a committee to prepare a model contract farming law to enable better price realisation and reduction of post-harvest losses for farmers by connecting them to the food processing industry. The committee on model contract farming law will submit its report in 3 months. 

  • Govt unveils draft security rules for e-wallet firms
    The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued the draft Information Technology (Security of Prepaid Payment Instruments) Rules 2017 for public consultation, and will take suggestions until March 20. 

    The draft rules underline security parameters that digital wallet companies will have to follow. They also stipulate standards for data protection and customer grievance redressal. Every prepaid payment instrument (PPI), or digital wallet, has been asked to develop a security policy based on the rules and standards set by the government. 

    Besides, the rules also mandate that digital wallets identify and authenticate every customer at the time of issuance, and adopt two-factor authentication for transactions. The government may by notification “exempt” digital wallets from requiring two-factor authentication in specific use cases. 

    Moreover, wallets will now have to disclose the kind of information they are collecting from customers and with whom they are sharing such information, and will be allowed to store it only for a period specified by the government. This data will also have to be encrypted end-to-end in order to safeguard customer data, especially financial data, such as bank balances. 

  • India tops in bribery rate among 16 Asia-Pacific nations
    According to recent survey released by Transparency International (TI), India had highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia-Pacific countries surveyed between July 2015 and January 2017. The survey was conducted among more than 21,000 people in the region. 

    69% of the study group in India said that they have paid a bribe, done a favour or given a gift to receive services. Vietnam follows this suit with 65%, Thailand 41% and Pakistan 40%. China reported a much lower 26%. Japan had the lowest incidence of bribery at 0.2% followed by South Korea and Australia recorded 3% each, Hong Kong 2% and Taiwan 6%.

  • AP inks pact with Singapore firm for fintech centre in Vizag
    The Andhra Pradesh government and Singapore-based Fintech major Lattice 80, have signed a memorandum of understanding for establishment of a fintech incubation centre in Vizag. The MoU was signed at the two-day Fintech Startup Challenge which began on 9th March. 

    150 startups, several of them from abroad, were participating in the Fintech Startup Challenge. A 20-member Singapore team and two teams from Switzerland and Japan are participating in the event. 15 more MoUs were being signed by the AP government with different fintech companies to launch operations in the state. 

  • Rajya Sabha passes Enemy Property Bill amid opposition walkout
    The Rajya Sabha on 10th March passed the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016 with some amendments moved by the government amid the walkout by the opposition. The Bill, moved by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, will replace the ordinance promulgated by the government. 

    It guards against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after wars. After the Indo-Pak War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968, which regulates such properties and lists the Custodian's powers. 

    As per the amendments, once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it will continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death. 

  • Note ban impact was transient, says RBI staff paper
    A research paper by the staff at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has found that the impact of demonetisation on the real economy has been transient, “given the information available so far.” The study quoted the Central Statistics Office (CSO), stating that the impact of demonetisation was felt mostly in real estate and construction. 

    The paper, Macroeconomic Impact of Demonetisation — A Preliminary Assessment, was prepared by the staff of the monetary policy department with contributions from other departments. The conclusion of the paper, the authors warned, was not necessarily the official view of the central bank. 

    However, the same view has been expressed by the Reserve Bank in its monetary policy document as well. Besides, RBI Governor Urjit Patel has also maintained the view that demonetisation impact has been transient. 

  • Factory output rises 2.7% in Jan
    The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) rose 2.7 per cent in January 2017, with mining, electricity and manufacturing — the three sectors that are tracked — registering positive growth. 

    In contrast, the IIP had contracted by 1.6 per cent in January 2016. It stood at 0.1 per cent in December last year. While mining grew 5.3 per cent in January, electricity production increased by 3.9 per cent and manufacturing rose by 2.3 per cent. 

  • Aadhaar made mandatory for a host of farm sector schemes
    For better targeting of central subsidies, the government has made Aadhaar mandatory for a host of schemes under the agriculture ministry, from soil health card and horticulture development to the Prime Minister’s flagship crop insurance scheme launched in 2016. 

    According to the notification, farmers without an Aadhaar number have to apply for it by end of March and till that time they can avail services under by furnishing a proof of their application. 

  • Andhra Pradesh misses economic growth target
    Andhra Pradesh has failed to achieve its targeted economic growth rate of 15 per cent during 2016-17 and may register an expansion of 11.61 per cent as per revised estimates. In 2015-16, the state registered an economic growth of 10.95 per cent, and not 10.99 per cent as previously announced by the government. 

    AP’s GSDP increased from Rs 6,09,934 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 6,99,307 crore during this fiscal, while per capita income rose from Rs 1,08,163 to Rs 1,22,376. Meanwhile, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu held a high-level review meeting in the Secretariat and called for making efforts to achieve 15 per cent economic growth in 2017-18. 

    Reeling out statistics, the Chief Minister said AP’s (estimated) economic growth (11.61 per cent) was way ahead of the national growth (7.11 per cent) in 2016-17. Growth of agriculture and allied sectors is 14.03 per cent as against the national average of 4.37 per cent. Industrial and services sectors grew at 10.05 per cent and 10.16 per cent respectively, compared to 5.77 per cent and 7.87 per cent nationally. 

  • 12th CII-Exim bank conclave inaugurated
    Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has inaugurated the two day 12th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership on 9th March, 2017 in New Delhi. The first conclave has held in 2005. The main objective of summit is to discuss cooperation in Trade, Regional Integration & Infrastructure Development, Finance & Consultancy, Mining & Minerals and Agriculture & Agro-Processing. 

    The Conclave was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in partnership with the EXIM Bank of India with the support of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India. 

    The India-Africa partnership is a stellar example of multi-pronged South-South Cooperation, straddling the traditional and emerging areas of cooperation alike. India-Africa bilateral trade volumes grew from $28.9 billion in 2007-08 to $56.7 billion in 2015-16. 

  • Mumbai India's richest city with $820 bn; Delhi distant second with $450 bn
    According to New World Wealth, Mumbai is the richest city in the country followed by Delhi and Bengaluru in the second and third place, respectively. 

    India's financial capital Mumbai, which is home to 46,000 millionaires and 28 billionaires, is the richest Indian city with a total wealth of $820 billion, says a report. Delhi with the total wealth of $450 billion and Bengaluru with a total wealth of $320 billion are stood second third respectively. 

    The list also includes Hyderabad with a total wealth of $310 billion. Hyderabad is home to 9,000 millionaires and six billionaires. Millionaires or high net worth Individuals refer to individuals with net assets of $1 million or more. 

  • IT ministry to take over digital drive from NITI
    The government has shifted the responsibility of promoting digital transactions from NITI Aayog to the ministry of information technology and electronics. The decision has been taken in view of the core competence of the ministry to promote digital means for various transactions. 

    The information technology (IT) ministry is responsible for promotion of e-governance for empowering citizens as well as promoting inclusive and sustainable growth of electronics and IT in the country. It is also responsible for encouraging the growth of IT-enabled services industries. 

    Earlier, the government had set up a committee under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog chief executive Amitabh Kant to push adoption of e-transactions amid the cash crunch faced by citizens due to note ban. The government also wants to promote digital transactions to reduce its ratio of cash to gross domestic product to around eight per cent, which is at present hovering over 13 per cent in the country. 

  • CSO pegs advance GDP growth estimate for current fiscal at 7%
    Central Statistical Organisation, CSO has pegged advance GDP growth estimate for current fiscal at 7.1 per cent, the same as projected earlier. As per 2nd Advance Estimates of National Income, 2016-17 and quarterly estimates of GDP, India’s December quarter GDP stands at 7 percent in the demonetisation period from October to December last year. 

    The projection of GDP at 7.1 per cent is due to the growth in Agriculture, Mining and Manufacturing as compared to the 1st Advance estimates. The Real GDP in 2016-17 is likely to attain a level of 121.65 lakh crore rupees as against the first revised estimate of 113.58 lakh crore rupees of 2015-16. 

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, has also put India's GDP growth at 7 percent for the current fiscal, 7.3 for the next and 7.7 percent for 2018-19. 

  • RBI sets up inter-disciplinary standing committee to review cyber threats
    RBI has announced setting up of an inter-disciplinary standing committee on cyber security to review the threats inherent in the existing and emerging technology. The committee will be headed by an RBI Executive Director. 

    The 11-member committee will study adoption of various security standards and protocols, interface with stakeholders and suggest appropriate policy interventions to strengthen cyber security and resilience. 

    Based on the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Cyber Security and Information Technology Examination, the RBI had issued guidelines to banks in June last year mandating cyber security preparedness to tackle cyber risks. 

  • Fiscal deficit overshoots full-year target
    India’s fiscal deficit touched Rs 5.64 lakh crore at the end of January, 105.7 per cent of the full-year target, mainly due to lower realization of non-tax revenue. 

    The fiscal deficit, reflection of government borrowing to meet revenue-expenditure gap, was 105.7 per cent in the 10-month period of 2016-17, compared to 95.8 per cent in the similar period last financial year. The government had budgeted a fiscal deficit of Rs 5,33,904 crore for the current financial year ending March. 

    According to data released by the Controller General of Accounts, the revenue deficit during April-January at Rs 4.05 lakh crore works out to 114.4 per cent of the Budget estimate. It was 87.8 per cent in the corresponding period of the last financial year. 

    The major decline was witnessed in non-tax revenue, as the government got only 59.8 per cent (Rs 1.93 lakh crore) of the Budget estimate. During April-January 2015-16, the non-tax revenue collection stood at 91 per cent of that year’s Budget estimate. 

  • Financial hubs DIFC, GIFT tie up
    Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) to encourage cooperation and collaboration between the two financial hubs. 

    The MoU covers areas such as best practices of mutual interest, exchange of information on banking, financial service and securities, legislation and regulation besides cooperation in the areas of training, seminars and conferences. 

    DIFC has witnessed an exponential growth in the number of Indian firms operating from the Centre — from hosting one Indian institution in 2007 to more than 25 Indian firms at present. Indian institutions make up the third-largest community of financial firms at DIFC after the US and the UK and account for more than a quarter of the current employed workforce. 

  • India’s first integrated heliport opened in Delhi
    The country’s first integrated heliport, a dedicated landing facility for helicopters, was opened on 28th February. The heliport consists of a terminal building with a capacity for 150 passengers, four hangers with parking capacities for 16 helicopters, and nine parking bays. The heliport is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Pawan Hans Limited (HPL). 

    The heliport will provide all helicopter operational facilities and will de-congest the busy Indira Gandhi International Airport. It will also promote regional air connectivity in the northern part of the country for regular passenger services. 

  • Rural India has 17% more homes with TVs than cities
    Television rating agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) on 2nd March released its weekly viewership data (for February 18 -24) on the basis of a revised Universe Estimate (UE), which is based on the results of Broadcast India (BI) Survey. 

    According to BI-2016 survey, which was undertaken to ascertain the TV universe and viewing habits in India, the number of TV homes in the country has gone up by 19 per cent to 183 million from 154 million. While the urban-rural split of TV homes was 50:50 earlier, rural India has 17 per cent more TV homes now. 

    Urban India currently has 84 million TV households, while TV-owning homes in rural India stand at 99 million, it said. The survey also shows an 18 per cent jump in TV penetration — from 54 per cent previously to 64 per cent. 

  • Students now require Aadhaar to get Mid Day Meal
    Students who are served cooked meal under the Mid Day Meal Scheme will now be required to have an Aadhaar card to avail the facility. The Department of School Education and Literacy has decided to give a window till 30th of June to those who do not have an Aadhaar card yet. 

    The government is implementing the scheme to improve nutritional status of children studying in classes from 1st to 8th in government or government aided schools or Special Training Centres or Madrasas or Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. 

    Human Resource Development Ministry has issued a notification in this regard. The move is aimed at improving efficiency and transparency in the scheme. 

  • Centre to set up Women’s Entrepreneurship Council
    The Ministry of Women and Child Development has proposed the setting up of a Women’s Entrepreneurship Council for taking up with the government the problems faced by business women. The Council, modeled on the lines of chambers of commerce, will seek to resolve issues through policy changes. 

    According to the Minister Ms Maneka Gandhi, a note to this effect will be sent to the Union Cabinet for approval soon. She said that the Ministry is also working on an App to curb harassment to women in any form. The App, named - Shouting App would allow the victim to reach out to 10 people near her to keep the perpetrators at bay before the arrival of the police. 

  • GST Council approves final draft of Central GST, Integrated GST laws
    The GST Council on 4th March approved the final draft of Central GST and Integrated GST laws in its meeting headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi. According to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the UT-GST and SGST laws will be approved in the next meeting on 16th of this month. 

    The compensation bill has been approved by the Council in its last meeting at Udaipur. These legislative proposals will be taken up in the second half of Budget session of Parliament beginning next week. There will be no change in the tax rates approved by the Council. However, there will be a cap of 40 percent in the legislation. 

    Agriculturists will be exempt from registering under the GST regime. Apart from this, business entity with an annual turnover of up to 20 lakhs rupees will also not be required registration under the new tax regime. 

  • Supreme Court appointed SIT detects 70 thousand crore rupees black money
    Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT) on black money has so far unearthed black money to the tune of 70 thousand crore rupees across the country. 

    According to Vice Chairman of SIT on black money, Justice Arijit Pashayat, in Cuttack that the SIT is hopeful that the amount will rise substantially further in the coming days. Justice Pasayat also informed that the committee will submit its sixth report to the Apex court in the first week of April. 

    Justice Pasayat said, that on the SIT’s recommendation, the Government has already declared that cash transaction beyond Rs 3 lakh is to be treated as illegal and punishable. The meeting assumes significance as it was held for the first time after demonetisation undertaken by the Union government.



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