29, June 2017

  1. Niti Aayog moots new regulator for coal, gas

Source: The Hindu

Niti Aayog has suggested creation of regulators for coal as well as oil and gas.

Need for regulators:

  • Coal and upstream petroleum sectors have lacked independent, statutory regulators. Due to several reasons, including strong presence of PSUs and limited number of private operators, it was so far not found useful to place the latter in position. But, now with increased private activity, the time is appropriate.
  • Indian energy market is not uniformly developed. And due to the large inherent complexities present in different fuel sources, it is pertinent that there ought to be sectoral regulators.

  1. GSAT 17

Source: The Hindu

With French rocket Ariane-5 successfully launching the 3,477-kg satellite from French Guiana, India has added GSAT-17 to its existing fleet of 17 communication satellites. Besides GSAT-17, Ariance-5 also put into space Hellas Sat 3-Inmarsat S EAN, a “condosat” for Inmarsat and Hellas Sat.

Key facts:

  • The satellite has been inducted into the Indian National Satellite (INSAT)/GSAT system. It carried payloads in the normal C, extended C and S bands, providing various communication services.
  • It was launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
  • GSAT-17 also has equipment for meteorological data relay and satellite-based search and rescue services being provided by earlier INSAT satellites.
  • ISRO Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka has taken control and will perform the initial orbit raising maneuvers later. GSAT-17 has a life expectancy of 15 years.

  1. APEDA refutes rumours about plastic rice

Source: The Hindu

Agricultural and Processed Foods Export Development Agency (APEDA) has refuted rumours about plastic rice, attributing the videos on social media showing bouncing rice balls to a natural property of rice.

Issues:

  • According to APEDA, the buoyancy of rice balls dropping on a hard surface is its natural property and it depends on the amylose content.
  • Rice starch consists of two main components — amylose and amylopectine — generally in a proportion of 25:75. However, there exists a lot of variation in germ plasm with respect to proportion of amylose and amylopectine. If, amylose is low (<10%), the rice on cooking tends to become very sticky and the rice balls made of such cooked rice will have no buoyancy on dropping to a surface. However, the rice balls made up of cooked rice from intermediate to high amylose (22-30%) type rice, will have buoyancy and these balls will jump for three-four times when dropped on hard surface.

APEDA

  • The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) was established by the Government of India under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act 1985.
  • The Authority replaced the Processed Food Export Promotion Council (PFEPC).

  1. CBDT entered into Five Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreement

Source: PIB

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into Five Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreement with Indian taxpayers. A Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement involving United Kingdom has also been signed.

The APAs signed pertain to healthcare, information technology and gaming/animation (media) sectors of the economy.

APAs:

  • The APA Scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the arm’s length price of international transactions in advance for the maximum of five future years.
  • Further, the taxpayer has the option to rollback the APA for four preceding years, as a result of which, tax certainty for a total period of nine years is provided. Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest among Multi National Enterprises (MNEs). An APA can be unilateral, bilateral, or multilateral.

APA Benefits:

  • Certainty with respect to tax outcome of the tax payer’s international transactions, by agreeing in advance the arm’s length pricing or pricing methodology (ies) to be applied to the tax payer’s international transactions covered by the APA.
  • Removal of an audit threat (minimize rigours of audit), and deliverance of a particular tax outcome based on the terms of the agreement.
  • Substantial reduction of compliance costs over the term of the APA.
  • For tax authorities, an APA reduces cost of administration and also frees scarce resources.

  1. Swasth Saarthi Abhiyaan (SSA)

Source: The Hindu

  • The SSA event is a unique initiative to address the major issues being faced by public transport drivers, with almost all of them being users of CNG.
  • It is a two month long mega campaign focusing on providing preventive healthcare to the auto, taxi and bus drivers of the region. It will provide free health checkup which includes blood test, sugar test, eye test.
  • SSA is an initiative of Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL).

  1. In the lines of INTERPOL, Northeastern states to have NEPOL

Source: The Hindu

NEPOL

It is a proposed police organization by the North eastern states including West Bengal in the lines of International Police Organization(INTERPOL).

It will facilitate cooperation between the states of the region in tackling insurgency, cross border crime and smuggling.

Need for NEPOL:

  • North eastern militants have come together and formed United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW), an umbrella organization comprising of the United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent), Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit). This organisation has orchestrated several strikes on security forces.
  • Also, North eastern states share over 4500km long border with Bangladesh, China, Myanmar and Bhutan. India and Bangladesh share a 4,096-km-long border, of which 262 km falls in Assam.
  • Hence, cooperation among the police forces between the states is necessary.

6.Govt. unveils new hydrocarbon policy

Source: The Hindu

In what could mark a paradigm shift in the country’s hydrocarbon exploration policy, the government has launched the National Data Repository (NDR) along with the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP).

Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP):

  • The OALP, a part of the government’s Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP), gives exploration companies the option to select the exploration blocks on their own, without having to wait for the formal bid round from the Government. The company then submits an application to the government, which puts that block up for bid.
  • The new policy will open up 2.8 million square kilometres of sedimentary basins for exploration and eventual production.

HELP:

  • The Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP) opens up India’ entire sedimentary basin for investment from domestic and foreign players under a simplified, transparent and investor -friendly fiscal and administrative regime.
  • The new policy aims to provide Investors a ready access to huge amount of seismic data available in National Data Repository (NDR), flexibility to carve out exploration acreages through an open acreage licensing process and increased operational autonomy through a new revenue sharing model.
  • The National Data Repository (NDR) manifested through an open acreage licensing (OAL) process will be a key facilitator by providing seamless access to India’s entire E&P data process through a digital medium to all investors with the objective of harnessing the potential of India’s large basinal area.

Key features

  1. Single, uniform license for extraction and exploration for all types of hydrocarbon prospects.
  2. Open acreage licensing (OAL) which will permit investors to carve out interested blocks and submit Expression of Interest (EoI), which will be subsequently given through bi-annual bid rounds.
  3. Simple and easy to administer Revenue Sharing Model.
  4. Full marketing freedom and free pricing for crude oil and natural gas.
  5. Exploration allowed during entire contract period.
  6. Zero royalty rates for deep water & ultra-deep water blocks for first 7 years.
  7. Equal weightage to work program and fiscal share.
  8. No oil cess.
  9. Custom duty exemption.

 



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