Insights Daily Current Events, 15 June 2016

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Insights Daily Current Events, 15 June 2016


 

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

CIC rejects plea seeking info on Sebi chief’s assets

 

A full bench of the central information commission (CIC) has refused to disclose information on the assets and liabilities of Sebi chief U K Sinha, saying there was no public interest involved overturning its own four-year old order.

  • CIC said that the appellant in the instant case has not made a bona fide public interest in seeking information and the disclosure of such information is likely to cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

Background:

An RTI query was filed with Sebi in 2012 seeking details of the assets and liabilities of its chairman for the last three years along with his emoluments and perquisites.

CIC:

The Central Information Commission (CIC) is set up under the Right to Information Act and is the authorised body, established in 2005, under the Government of India.

  • The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission. CIC hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority, and also addresses major issues concerning the RTI Act.

The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—

  • The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee.
  • The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • A Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

GST inches closer to reality as states unite

 

The stage is all set for the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) with states unanimously backing it and agreeing that the ceiling rate should not be prescribed in the Constitution Amendment Bill that is awaiting a Rajya Sabha nod. However, Tamil Nadu has expressed some reservations.

Details:

  • States have rejected the provision for a constitutional cap on the GST rate. There has been complete consensus on no constitutional cap, as exigencies may arise in future to revise the rates.
  • Some States, including, Tamil Nadu have expressed reservations about the proposed GST Council. They believe the council, as a constitutional body, would impinge on the legislative sovereignty of both Parliament and the State Legislatures and jeopardise the fiscal autonomy of States.
  • The states have, however, expressed the view that there were several “nuts and bolts” issues which need to be tackled before implementing the ambitious tax reform.

Way ahead:

The government has made it clear that there was no deadline for the implementation of the GST. Earlier, after the passage of the Constitutional 122nd Amendment Bill in May 2015 in the Lok Sabha, the Government had said that it was trying to roll out the single-tax regime from April 1, 2016.

  • The first thing which will have to be done is to pass the constitutional amendment. It will have to be then ratified by the States. Then Parliament will have to pass the Central GST (CGST) Bill and States, the State GST (SGST) Bills.
  • The government aims to introduce the GST Constitution Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha in the monsoon session of Parliament.

What is GST?

GST bill, considered to be the biggest indirect tax reform in independent India, aims to transform the country into a uniform market by replacing a slew of federal and state levies. Amalgamating several Central and state taxes into a single tax would mitigate cascading or double taxation. For consumers the biggest advantage of GST will come in the form of a reduction in the overall tax burden on goods.

GST will subsume: excise, service tax, state VAT, entry tax, octroi and other state levies.

Structure of GST:

GST will have two components—Central GST and state GST. Both Parliament and state legislatures will have concurrent powers to make laws on GST. Only the Centre may levy an integrated GST (IGST) on the interstate supply of goods and services, and imports.

GST council:

A council will be set up to recommend rates of tax, period of levy of additional tax, principles of supply, special provisions to certain states etc. The GST Council will consist of the Union finance minister, Union minister of state for revenue, and state finance ministers.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Model GST law put out for stakeholders’ view

 

The government has released model GST law after it was recently approved by the state finance ministers.

Highlights:

According to the draft, the GST rate will be specified in the schedules of this law.

  • The model law provides for a levy of GST on all online sales. It says the ecommerce operator should collect the appropriate GST while making a payment to the supplier of goods or service sold through its portal. The amount is to be deposited with the appropriate state government within 10 days from the end of the month in which the payment was made to the supplier. This provides clarity for taxation of goods sold by a supplier in one state to a consumer in another through electronic commerce.
  • The model GST law contains two parts – the Goods and Services Tax Act, 2016 and the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Act, 2016 – providing the framework for implementation of this tax that is estimated to add as much as 2% to the country’s GDP. Along with the constitutional amendment, the government needs to get these two laws passed to get GST rolling.
  • The model law calls for registration of supplier in the state from where the supplier makes a taxable supply of goods and/or services with an annual turnover of above Rs 9 lakh, except for supply of goods or services from Northeastern states, where the threshold has been set at Rs 4 lakh.
  • The draft model law also provides for constitution of a National Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal by Centre on the recommendation of the GST Council. The Tribunal shall be headed by a national president, with a branch in each state. The state GST tribunal will be headed by a state President and consist of Members (Judicial), Members (Technical – CGST) and Members (Technical – SGST). Every appeal has to be filed within three months from the date on which the order sought to be appealed against is communicated to the person.
  • The model law also proposes to empower senior tax officials with the powers of search, seize, summons and arrest. A person can be imprisoned for up to five years for evasion of tax, the model law said.
  • A National GST Settlement Commission to be set up by the Centre has also been proposed in the draft law for settlement of cases under the proposed GST Act. The National Commission chairman will be a High Court judge and the commission will have one bench for one or more states. The authority for advance ruling in GST will be established in each state for taxpayers seeking advance rulings, the draft law said.
  • The draft law also seeks to establish a Consumer Welfare Fund, which shall be utilised by the Centre/state government for the welfare of the consumers in accordance with such rules as that government may make in this behalf. A GST compliance rating has also been proposed for every taxable person. The score will be based on his/her record of compliance with the provisions of the Act.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

India warned against pitfalls in ASEAN trade agreement

 

Many civil society organizations have warned India that it will no more remain ‘the pharmacy of the developing world’ if the proposals in the ASEAN trade pact are adopted.

  • Civil society organisations are pushing for the removal of harmful intellectual property provisions that could potentially increase drug costs by creating new monopolies and delaying the entry of affordable generics in the market.

Concerns:

Concerns have been raised over the proposals made by Japan and South Korea that go beyond the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

  • Two of the most worrying are the demands for ‘Data Exclusivity’ and ‘Patent Term Extensions’. Data exclusivity is a form of legal monopoly protection for a drug, over and above the patent protections. This is given expressly to compensate for the investment made during clinical trials. It implies that regulators cannot approve a similar drug with similar data for the next five years, delaying the entry of generic, affordable versions.
  • Patent term extensions are given to compensate the company for delays in processing patent applications. A company gets a 20-year patent monopoly on a drug from the date that the application is filed. Sometimes processing these applications takes time and the companies get only 13 years instead of 20. A patent term extension will give another five-year monopoly to the innovator company, again delaying the entry of generic drugs in the market.

About Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership:

The RCEP is among the proposed three mega FTAs in the world so far – the other two being the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership, led by the US) and the TTIP (Trans -atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU).

  • The agreement is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
  • RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

  • Indian Institute of Technology-Madras has broken into the top 50 of the 2016 Asia university rankings that were released recently by British company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). Jumping 13 places from its position last year, IIT-Madras is ranked 43. IISc-Bangalore (33), IIT-Bombay (35), IIT-Delhi (36) and IIT-Kanpur (48) were the other Indian universities in the top 50. IIT-Kharagpur was placed 51st and two other IITs – Roorkee (78) and Guwahati (94) – made it to the top 100 as well.

 

  • The Navy sail boat INSV Mhadei — steered by an all-woman, six-member crew that will attempt to circumnavigate the world next year — recently entered Port Louis, Mauritius. This historic open ocean voyage by the all-women crew, the first such in Indian maritime history, is designed to help them get used to the conditions they will face during their mission.