10th Jan, 2019-IAS Current Affairs
‘Goods and Services tax (GST)’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on Thursday, took a slew of decisions to improve tax compliance in India
The decisions taken include:
- increasing the threshold limit below which companies are exempt from GST
- extending the composition scheme to small service providers
- allowing small companies to file annual returns.
- The GST Council also decided to allow Kerala to levy a cess of up to 1% for up to two years on intra-State supplies to help finance the disaster relief efforts following the recent floods.
Limit for eligibility for the composition scheme would be raised to an annual turnover of ₹1.5 crore from April 1, 2019. Companies opting for the scheme would be allowed to file annual returns and pay taxes quarterly from April 1 onwards.
About GST council
Goods & Services Tax Council is a constitutional body for making recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax. The GST Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and other members are the Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States.
As per Article 279A of the amended Constitution, the GST Council which will be a joint forum of the Centre and the States, shall consist of the following members: –
- the Union Finance Minister………………………………………………………. Chairperson;
- the Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance…………….. Member;
- the Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other
Minister nominated by each State Government……………………………….. Members.
As per Article 279A (4), the Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on important issues related to GST, like the goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST, model GST Laws, principles that govern Place of Supply, threshold limits, GST rates including the floor rates with bands, special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities/disasters, special provisions for certain States, etc.
Mandate of GST council
The Goods and Services Tax Council shall make recommendations to the Union and the States on—
- the taxes, cesses and surcharges levied by the Union, the States and the local bodies which may be subsumed in the goods and services tax;
- the goods and services that may be subjected to, or exempted from the goods and services tax;
- model Goods and Services Tax Laws, principles of levy, apportionment of Goods and Services Tax levied on supplies in the course of inter-State trade or commerce under article 269A and the principles that govern the place of supply;
- the threshold limit of turnover below which goods and services may be exempted from goods and services tax;
- the rates including floor rates with bands of goods and services tax;
- any special rate or rates for a specified period, to raise additional resources during any natural calamity or disaster;
- special provision with respect to the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand; and
- any other matter relating to the goods and services tax, as the Council may decide.
(5) The Goods and Services Tax Council shall recommend the date on which the goods and services tax be levied on petroleum crude, high speed diesel, motor spirit (commonly known as petrol), natural gas and aviation turbine fuel.
(6) While discharging the functions conferred by this article, the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be guided by the need for a harmonized structure of goods and services tax and for the development of a harmonized national market for goods and services.
(7) One-half of the total number of Members of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall constitute the quorum at its meetings.
(8) The Goods and Services Tax Council shall determine the procedure in the performance of its functions.
(9) Every decision of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be taken at a meeting, by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the weighted votes of the members present and voting, in accordance with the following principles, namely: —
- the vote of the Central Government shall have a weightage of one third of the total votes cast, and
- the votes of all the State Governments taken together shall have a weightage of two-thirds of the total votes cast, in that meeting.
(10) No act or proceedings of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be invalid merely by reason of—
- any vacancy in, or any defect in, the constitution of the Council; or
- any defect in the appointment of a person as a Member of the Council; or
- any procedural irregularity of the Council not affecting the merits of the case.
(11) The Goods and Services Tax Council shall establish a mechanism to adjudicate any dispute —
- between the Government of India and one or more States; or
- between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other side; or
- between two or more States, arising out of the recommendations of the Council or implementation thereof.
What is GST Composition scheme?
Composition Scheme is a simple and easy scheme under GST for taxpayers. Small taxpayers can get rid of tedious GST formalities and pay GST at a fixed rate of turnover.
‘Longest steel bridge’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: India’s longest 300-metre single lane steel cable suspension bridge was inaugurated by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu
The bridge across the Siang river at Yingkiong in Upper Siang district has been named Byorung Bridge.
Significance of this project
The bridge is expected to benefit 20,000 people on either banks of the river, besides bolstering the defence preparedness.
‘National Highways’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) touched a record 31.87 kilometre per day average of national highway construction in December
The road ministry had fixed a construction target of around 16,420 kilometres for 2018-19. Out of this, 9,700 kilometres were MoRTH’s responsibility, while the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) were given targets of 6,000 kilometres and 720 kilometres, respectively.
‘Web Wonder-women campaign’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, has launched an online campaign, ‘#www : Web- WonderWomen’.
About the campaign
The Campaign aims to discover and celebrate the exceptional achievements of women, who have been driving positive agenda of social change via social media
Through the campaign, the Ministry and the Campaign’s Partners aim to recognize the fortitude of Indian women stalwarts from across the globe who have used the power of social media to run positive & niche campaigns to steer a change in society. This Campaign will recognize and acknowledge the efforts of these meritorious Women.
‘Leaf nosed bat’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: A conservation reserve for the rare Leaf Nosed Bats, which are found near Hanumanahalli in Mulabagal taluk, Kolar district was approved by Karnataka state government
About Leaf nosed bat
The Kolar leaf-nosed bat or leafletted leaf-nosed bat is a species of bat in the family Hipposideridae. It is endemic to India. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and caves. It is found in only one cave in India, and its population is less than 200 individuals.
What is Conservation reserve?
Conservation reserves and community reserves in India are terms denoting protected areas of India which typically act as buffer zones to or connectors and migration corridors between established national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserved and protected forests of India. Such areas are designated as conservation areas if they are uninhabited and completely owned by the Government of India but used for subsistence by communities and community areas if part of the lands are privately owned.
These protected area categories were first introduced in the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act of 2002 − the amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. These categories were added because of reduced protection in and around existing or proposed protected areas due to private ownership of land, and land use.
‘India’s GDP growth’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India’s GDP is expected to grow at 7.3% in the fiscal year 2018-19, and 7.5% in the following two years, the World Bank has reported
Factors that are predicted to create more growth in India are:
- In India, the growth has accelerated, driven by an upswing in consumption, and investment growth has firmed as the effects of temporary factors wane
- Domestic demand has strengthened as the benefits of structural reforms such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) harmonization and bank recapitalization take effect.
- Private consumption is projected to remain robust and investment growth is expected to continue as the benefits of recent policy reforms begin to materialize and credit rebounds.
About World Bank
The World Bank Group consists of five organizations:
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) lends to governments of middle-income and creditworthy low-income countries.
The International Development Association (IDA) provides interest-free loans — called credits — and grants to governments of the poorest countries. Together, IBRD and IDA make up the World Bank.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments.
The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) was created in 1988 to promote foreign direct investment into developing countries to support economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve people’s lives. MIGA fulfills this mandate by offering political risk insurance (guarantees) to investors and lenders.
The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) provides international facilities for conciliation and arbitration of investment disputes.
‘Private consumption’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Domestic private consumption that accounts for a major portion of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to develop into a $6 trillion growth opportunity that would make India the world’s third-largest economy by 2030, says a latest study by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Concerns raised by WEF in the report
- The potential, however, offers both challenges and opportunities as India would have to address critical societal issues, including skill development and employment of the future workforce, socio-economic inclusion of rural India and creating a healthy and sustainable future for its citizens
- The report believes that the growth of the middle class would lift nearly 25 million households out of poverty and further, India would have 700 million millennials and Gen Z consumers, who have grown up in a more open and confident country.
- The potential would only materialize if business and policy-makers pursue an inclusive approach towards the economic and consumption growth.
- According to the study, with nearly 10-12 million working-age people expected to emerge in India over the next decade, the country faces a huge challenge in providing the workforce with the right skills.
The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.
Its activities are shaped by a unique institutional culture founded on the stakeholder theory, which asserts that an organization is accountable to all parts of society. The institution carefully blends and balances the best of many kinds of organizations, from both the public and private sectors, international organizations and academic institutions.
The Forum is best known for its Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters. Through the years, numerous business, government and civil society leaders have made their way to the high Alps to consider the major global issues of the day and to brainstorm on solutions to address these challenges.