26, April 2017

1.An overview of GST

Source: PIB

GOODS AND SERVICES TAX (GST)- CENTRAL BOARD OF EXCISE & CUSTOMS

Benefits:-

  1. It brings benefits to all the stakeholders of industry, government and the consumer. It will lower the cost of goods and services, give a boost to the economy and make the products and services globally competitive.
    • GST aims to make India a common market with common tax rates and procedures and remove the economic barriers thus paving the way for an integrated economy at the national level. By subsuming most of the Central and State taxes into a single tax , it would mitigate the ill effects of cascading, improve competitiveness and improve liquidity of the businesses.
  1. GST is largely technology driven. It will reduce the human interface to a great extent and this would lead to speedy decisions.
  2. GST will give a major boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government of India by making goods and services produced in India competitive in the National as well as International market.
  • Also all imported goods will be charged integrated tax (IGST) which is equivalent to Central GST + State GST. This will bring equality with taxation on local products.
  1. Under the GST regime, exports will be zero-rated in entirety unlike the present system where refund of some taxes may not take place due to fragmented nature of indirect taxes between the Centre and the States.
  • This will boost Indian exports in the international market thus improving the balance of payments position.
  1. GST is expected to bring buoyancy to the Government Revenue by widening the tax base and improving the taxpayer compliance. GST is likely improve India’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index and is estimated to increase the GDP growth by 1.5 to 2%.
  2. GST will bring more transparency to indirect tax laws. Since the whole supply chain will be taxed at every stage with credit of taxes paid at the previous stage being available for set off at the next stage of supply, the economics and tax value of supplies will be easily distinguishable. This will help the industry to take credit and the government to verify the correctness of taxes paid and the consumer to know the exact amount of taxes paid.
  3. The taxpayers would not be required to maintain records and show compliance with a myriad of indirect tax laws of the Central Government and the State Governments like Central Excise, Service Tax, VAT, Central Sales Tax, Octroi, Entry Tax, Luxury Tax, Entertainment Tax, etc.
  • They would only need to maintain records and show compliance in respect of Central Goods and Services Tax Act and State (or Union Territory) Goods and Services Tax Act for all intra-State supplies (which are almost identical laws) and with Integrated Goods and Services Tax for all inter-State supplies (which also has most of its basic features derived from the CGST and the SGST Act).

Salient Features of GST

  1. The GST would be applicable on the supply of goods or servicesas against the present concept of tax on the manufacture or sale of goods or provision of services. It would be a destination based consumption tax. This means that tax would accrue to the State or the Union Territory where the consumption takes place. It would be a dual GST with the Centre and States simultaneously levying tax on a common tax base.
  2. The GST to be levied by the Centre on intra-State supply of goods or services would be called the Central tax (CGST) and that to be levied by the States including Union territories with legislature/Union Territories without legislature would be called the State tax (SGST)/ Union territory tax (UTGST) respectively.
  3. The GST would apply to all goods other than alcoholic liquor for human consumption and five petroleum products, viz. petroleum crude, motor spirit (petrol), high speed diesel, natural gas and aviation turbine fuel. It would apply to all services barring a few to be specified.
  4. Threshold Exemption: Taxpayers with an aggregate turnover in a financial year up to Rs.20 lakhs would be exempt from ta
  5. Composition levy: Small taxpayers with an aggregate turnover in a financial year up to Rest. 50 lakhs shall be eligible for composition levy

GST Council

  • The mechanism of GST Council would ensure harmonization on different aspects of GST between the Centre and the States as well as among States.
  • It has been specifically provided that the GST Council, in its discharge of various functions, shall be guided by the need for a harmonized structure of GST and for the development of a harmonized national market for goods and services.
  • The GST Council shall establish a mechanism to adjudicate disputes arising out of its recommendation or implementation thereof.

Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism – Advance Rulings

  • Advance ruling mechanism has been continued under the GST law.

The salient features are as under:

  • Advance ruling can be sought in respect of more subjects than allowed at present. The subjects are: classification of goods/or services, time and value of supply, rate of tax, admissibility of input tax credit, liability to pay tax, liability to take registration and whether a particular transaction amounts to a supply under GST law.
  • Advance ruling can be sought not only for new activities but also for existing activities. The facility of appeal, which is not there under the Central law, has been provided in the GST Law.
  • The applicants or the Department, if aggrieved by the advance ruling, would henceforth get the opportunity to file an appeal before the Appellate Authority for revision of the ruling. Advance Ruling can be obtained more easily as there will be one Advance Ruling Authority (as also the Appellate Authority) in every State.

IT preparedness

Putting in place a robust IT network is an absolute must for implementation of GST.

  • A Special Purpose Vehicle called the GSTN has been set up to cater to the needs of GST.
  • The GSTN shall provide a shared IT infrastructure and services to Central and State Governments, taxpayers and other stakeholders for implementation of GST.

The functions of the GSTN would, inter alia, include:

  • Facilitating registration;
  • Forwarding the returns to Central and State authorities;
  • Computation and settlement of IGST;
  • Matching of tax payment details with banking network;
  • Providing various MIS reports to the Central and the State Governments based on the taxpayer return information;

An anti-profiteering measure has been incorporated in the GST law to ensure that any benefits on account of reduction in tax rates results in commensurate reduction in prices of such goods/services.

GST Council – Constitution

  • Chairperson – Union FM
  • Vice Chairperson – to be chosen amongst the Ministers of State Government
  • Members – MOS (Finance) and all Ministers of Finance / Taxation of each State
  • Quorum is 50% of total members
  • States – 2/3 weightage and Centre – 1/3 weightage
  • Decision by 75% majority
  • Council to make recommendations on everything related to GST including laws, rules and rates etc.

GST 1

GST

2.Online Statement Of Transaction (e-SOT) and the e-PRAN card launched for Atal Pension Yojana (APY) subscribers

Source: PIB

With a view to digitally empower the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) subscribers and improve the quality of service, the facility of online viewing of the statement of transaction(e-SOT) and also the e-PRAN card have been launched.

Atal Pension Yojana (APY)

  • APY is available for all citizens of India in the age group of 18-40 years.
  • Under the APY, the subscribers would receive a minimum guaranteed pension of Rs. 1000 to Rs. 5000 per month from the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which depends on the age of the subscriber at the time of joining the APY.
  • In completion of 60 years of age, will get the guaranteed minimum monthly pension, or higher monthly pension, if the investment returns are higher than the assumed returns for minimum guaranteed pension, over the period of contribution.
  • After the subscriber’s death, the spouse of the subscriber shall be entitled to receive the same pension amount as that of the subscriber until the death of the spouse. After the death of both the subscriber and the spouse, the nominee of the subscriber shall be entitled to receive the pension wealth, as accumulated till age of 60 years of the subscriber.
  • In exceptional circumstances, that is, in the event of the death of beneficiary or specified illness, as mentioned in the PFRDA (Exit and withdrawals under the National Pension System) Regulations, 2015, before the age of 60 years, the accumulated pension wealth till date would be given to the nominee or the subscriber as the case may be.

3.SC seeks common law against cross-border cattle smuggling

Source: The Hindu

Asks Centre to extend rules framed for Nepal to Bangladesh

The Supreme Court asked the Centre to extend to the India-Bangladesh border areas the rules framed to counter cross-border cattle smuggling to Nepal

Panel report:

Cattle smuggling is rampant along the Indo-Bangladesh border and Indo-Nepal border with over a million taken across borders

  • Animal activists said that these Rules will help in checking illegal businesses. “Cattle markets are highly unregulated. They end up being a butcher’s market and there is no track of animal movement in absence of documents and it is a huge industry.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar was informed by government counsel that the Livestock Animals Rules and Case Property Animals Maintenance Rules to prevent cattle-smuggling across the Nepal border, framed in December 2016 on the basis of the Supreme Court’s orders, were now with the Union Law Ministry prior to its notification.
  • The government said the rules would have far-reaching effect on the authorities’ efforts to curb cattle-smuggling and they envisaged joint action by paramilitary forces and the district administrations.
  • The Centre had proposed issuing “unique identification number sequences” for cows and their progeny to protect them from cattle smuggling.
  • Government of India, has devised a method of tamper-proof identification of cattle using polyurethane tags with unique identification number sequence. This may be made mandatory for all cow and its progeny throughout India for all cattle that is owned,” said a government panel report in the Supreme Court.

Government notifies draft rules for regulating livestock markets and care of animals seized in cruelty cases

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change today published draft rules prescribing a comprehensive procedure for care, cost, maintenance, veterinary treatment and overall well-being of animals seized from markets and from cases of animal cruelty.
  • Under these rules, a comprehensive procedure for care, cost, maintenance, veterinary treatment and overall well-being of animals has been recommended. How animals are sold in cattle fairs, the way cattle are branded, decorated and painted by farmers forms a big part of these draft rules. Further, any animal that is seized will have to be handed over to shelters or pranidaya sanghas when the case is still going on.
  • Once the Rules come into effect, district authorities and state-level Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will have to form animal marketing monitoring committees and animal market committees. Certain minimum requirements will have to be met at these markets. For instance, they will have to provide adequate housing, shade, feeding troughs, water, veterinary facilities and separate enclosures for young, pregnant and infirm animals. Veterinarians will also have to screen animals for suspected infectious and contagious diseases.

4.Why do Turkey and Cyprus not get along?

Source: The Hindu

The Presidents of the two countries are set to visit India within days of each other

The visits assume importance with the Nuclear Suppliers Group plenary session coming up in June, and India needs all the support it can get for a second bid at NSG membership.

  1. Cyprus supports India on the NSG front.
  2. Turkey, on the other hand, had backed a “process-based” approach, and reportedly wanted both Pakistan and India to be considered together.

The timing of the visits is reportedly coincidental but has elicited interest as the two countries don’t get along with each other.

Why not?

  • In order to understand why Cyprus was split in the first place, we’ll need to go back to the late 19th century, when the Ottoman Empire handed over Cyprus to Great Britain in return for military assistance against the Russians.
  • The primary conflict then was between the people of Cyprus and the British administration of the island, with the former demanding right to self-determination or independence. However, the conflict assumed an ethnic nature when the two largest demographic entities – the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots – proposed varying solutions.
  • While the Greek Cypriots favoured a political union of all Greeks with the constitution of a sovereign Greek state, the Turks favoured partition of the island of Cyprus between Turkey and Greece.
  • What ensued was a war-like situation, assuaged by the London-Zurich Agreement which saw Cyprus attain independence.
  • Archbishop Makarios, a long-standing Greek Cypriot leader, was made the President and ratified a Constitution that provided for a Turkish Cypriot Vice-President and a division of the civil services in a 70-30 split between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, respectively.

What changed?

  • While Britain, Turkey and Greece resolved to maintain “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Cyprus, internal tensions began to brew in the newly-independent state. President Makarios proposed amendments to the Constitution was viewed as an assault on the Turks, who had broken away to establish a parallel administration in the north.
  • The turning point, though, was the coup of 1974 supported by the military junta of Greece which deposed the Makarios administration. For Turkey, this raised suspicion of Greek control over islands. As a result, Turkey invaded northern Cyprus and established the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The invasion led to displacement of over 1,60.000 Greek Cypriots and marked the beginning of a long military standoff between the two entities.
  • It is important to note that the TRNC lacks international recognition, enjoying diplomatic relations with just Turkey while the Republic of Cyprus is the officially recognised governing entity of Cyprus, with a U.N. and EU membership.

What has happened since?

  • In order to maintain stability, the U.N. Security Council deployed the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in 1974 that were charged with defining the buffer zone between the two factions and maintaining ceasefire.
  • A 2004 deal negotiated by Secretary General Kofi Annan provided a glimmer of hope of resolution of the conflict. However it was rejecteed by the Greek Cypriots in a referendum while the Turkish Cypriots accepted it.

Resource sharing with respect to the land under control is a major issue affecting all stakeholders in the conflict.

How could it possibly end?

  • Popular support for union with Greece has diminished, with both sides recognising the need for mutual respect and peaceful coexistence in a bi-zonal and bicommunal Cyprus. While the Greek Cypriots favour a federation without definite ethnic divisions, their Turkish counterparts demand the establishment of an autonomous region in the union for themselves.
  • Power-sharing, demilitarisation and reparation to displaced Greek Cypriots as well as determining the roles of Britain, Turkey and Greece in the future of island nation is essential before Cyprus can be reunified.

For now, a de facto partition remains in place, with popular support for reunification rapidly diminishing among citizens of the island.

UNFICYP – United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus

  • UNFICYP was originally set up by the Security Council in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. After the hostilities of 1974, the Council has mandated the Force to perform certain additional functions.
  • In the absence of a political settlement to the Cyprus problem, UNFICYP has remained on the island to supervise ceasefire lines, maintain a buffer zone, undertake humanitarian activities and support the good offices mission of the Secretary-General.

Cyprus wants India’s help in its reunification

  • India can help Cyprus in its quest for reunification as it has close ties with Turkey, President Nicos Anastasiades has said ahead of his maiden visit to the country during which he will reaffirm the island nation’s close and time-tested ties with New Delhi.
  • The reunification talks stumbled over the years over the issue of territory and security.
  • The Turkish speaking community, which is in minority, wants a significant say in the decision making process and want Turkish forces on the ground even after the reunification which are the main sticking points in the talks.
  • Replying to a question on India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Anastasiades said his country as a member of the 48-member bloc supports India’s bid. He also reaffirmed Cyprus’ support for India’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council. “India is not a threat to any of its neighbours. It’s a stabilising factor.
  • The President said that Cyprus, which share excellent ties with the countries of the European Union and with neighbours like Greece, Egypt and Israel, can play a role in furthering India’s interests by speaking to its partners to give the most favourable treatment to India. Cyprus also wants to help India to facilitate the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.

NSG

  • The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
  • The NSG Guidelines also contain the so-called “Non-Proliferation Principle,” adopted in 1994, whereby a supplier, notwithstanding other provisions in the NSG Guidelines, authorises a transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • The NSG Guidelines are implemented by each Participating Government (PG) in accordance with its national laws and practices.
  • Decisions on export applications are taken at the national level in accordance with national export licensing requirements.

 

5. Govt to auction mines for coal-to-gas, CTL projects

Source: The Hindu

India’s dependence on petroleum and natural gas can be reduced or done away with if the country manages to secure gas from coal.

The government will put under the hammer coal blocks for private coal-to-gas, liquid and polychemical projects this financial year.

Coal secretary said, it should be coming out with some blocks to be offered to the private sector for these projects.

Significance:

  • The development takes on significance as domestic coal gas can help lower the country’s import bill by $10 billion in five years and cut carbon emission.
  • Coal India will attempt all this from whatever coal mines they have. Second, fresh coal blocks would be auctioned to the private sector through competitive bidding for exploring coal to gas, liquid and polychemicals. We will auction the coal mine for these projects.
  • The process of identification of blocks is under way, he said, adding that mines will not be out of the 204 cancelled blocks, but will be fresh ones under the MMDR Act.

MMDR Act:

  • The MMDR Act, 1957, as amended through the MMDR Amendment Act, 2015, restricted the scope of transferability of concessions granted through auction.
  • It was restricting the mergers and acquisitions of companies and was impeding the ease of doing business for companies dependent on supply of mineral ore from captive leases.
  • The provision was coming in the way of banks and financial institutions to liquidate stressed assets where a company or its captive mining lease is mortgaged.

  1. Woman dies of monkey fever in Goa

Source: Indian Express

The patient was diagnosed with monkey fever which is also called as Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD)

  • Kyasanur Forest disease (KFD) is a tick-borne viral hemorrhagic fever endemic to South Asia.[1] The disease is caused by a virus belonging to the family Flaviviridae, which also includes yellow fever and dengue fever.
  • The disease was first reported from Kyasanur Forest of Karnataka in India in March 1957. The disease first manifested as an epizootic outbreak among monkeys killing several of them in the year 1957. Hence the disease is also locally known as Monkey Disease or Monkey Fever.

Symptoms

  • The symptoms of the disease include a high fever with frontal headaches, followed by haemorrhagic symptoms, such as bleeding from the nasal cavity, throat, and gums, as well as gastrointestinal bleeding. Other symptoms include vomiting, muscle stiffness, tremors, absent reflexes, and mental disturbances.
  • An affected person may recover in two weeks time, but the convalescent period is typically very long, lasting for several months. There will be muscle aches and weakness during this period and the affected person is unable to engage in physical activities.

monkey fever

6.Launch of IPR Awareness Campaign for Schools

Source: PIB

The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM)in collaboration with the International Trademark Association (INTA) kicked off the IPR Awareness campaign for schools across the country.

Background:

The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, which was approved by the Union Cabinet in May 2016, is a significant move forward to encourage creativity and stimulate innovation in the country. Outreach and Promotion is the first and foremost objective of the National IPR Policy and is critical to shaping an IP environment that is conducive to fostering creativity & innovation in the country.

Highlights of the new IPR policy:

  • The new policy seeks to encourage innovation and improve access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection.
  • The Policy will allow compulsory licensing with restrictions in case of a public health emergency such as epidemics and it is compliant with the World Trade Organization’s guidelines.
  • The policy seeks to put in place a legal framework that will encourage the IPR regime and reduce the time taken by the government to approve a trademark to a month by 2017. Currently, the process takes more than a year.
  • The policy makes the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) the nodal agency for regulating IP rights in the country.
  • The Policy states “India shall remain committed to the (World Trade Organisation’s) Doha Declaration on Trade Related IPR Agreement (TRIPS) and Public Health.
  • It also says “India will continue to utilise the legislative space and flexibilities available in international treaties and the TRIPS Agreement.” These flexibilities include the sovereign right of countries to use provisions such as Section 3(d) and CLs for ensuring the availability of essential and life-saving drugs at affordable prices.
  • To ensure strong and effective IPR laws, the Policy states India will engage constructively in the negotiation of international treaties and agreements in consultation with stakeholders.

CIPAM:

  • Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the Government in May 2016, with the slogan – “Creative India; Innovative India
  • CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country, promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation, providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets and coordinating the implementation of the National IPR Policy in collaboration with Government Ministries/Departments and other stakeholders.



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