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CURRENT AFFAIRSTHE HINDU : AUGUST 2019

Daily Current Affairs : 23rd August 2019 : The Hindu News Analysis


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Sabka Vishwas-Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2019s

  • The Scheme was announced in the Union Budget 2019-20 by Finance Minister. The Scheme has now been notified and will be operationalized from 1st September 2019.
  • The Scheme is especially tailored to free the large number of small taxpayers of their pending disputes with the tax administration.
  • It is expected that the Scheme will be availed by a considerably large number of taxpayers for closing their pending disputes relating to legacy Service Tax and Central Excise cases that are now subsumed under GST.
  • The Scheme has two main components i.e., dispute resolution and amnesty
    • The dispute resolution component is aimed at liquidating the legacy cases of Central Excise and Service Tax that are subsumed in GST and are pending in litigation at various forums. 
    • The amnesty component of the Scheme offers an opportunity to the taxpayers to pay the outstanding tax and be free of any other consequence under the law. There is also full amnesty from prosecution.
  • Substantial relief in the tax dues for all categories of cases as well as full waiver of interest, fine, penalty is the most attractive aspect of the Scheme. 
  • This Scheme offers a relief of 70% from the duty demand if it is Rs.50 lakhs or less and 50% if it is more than Rs. 50 lakhs, for all the cases pending in adjudication or appeal.
    • The same relief is available for cases under investigation and audit in which the duty involved is quantified and communicated to the party or admitted by him in a statement on or before 30th June, 2019.
  • The 60% relief is offered on the confirmed duty amount if the same is Rs. 50 lakhs or less and it is 40%, if the confirmed duty amount is more than Rs. 50 lakhs, in cases of confirmed duty demand, where there is no appeal pending.
  • The person availing the Scheme will have to pay only the full amount of disclosed duty in cases of voluntary disclosure.


WESTERN ZONAL COUNCIL

Context : 24th Meeting of Western Zonal Council was recently held at Panaji and chaired by Home Minister Shri Amit Shah.

The major issues discussed in the meeting includes :
  • Utilization of surplus Salt Pan Land for rehabilitation of slum dwellers in Maharashtra.
  • Coverage of all villages which have till now remained without any banking facilities within 5 km radial distance by a Bank/India Post Payments Service.
  • Enhancement of DBT Portal to include scheme/village-wise details by collecting real time information to give village level DBT fund transfer & benefits.
  • Innovative solution of encrypted QR Code on Aadhaar card for verifying antecedents of marine fishermen.
  • Detailed monitoring mechanism to ensure that investigation and trial of sexual offences/rape against girls below 12 years of age are completed within 2 months (POCSO Act and Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018] each.

About Zonal Councils

The idea for the formation of Zonal Councils was first of all put forward by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1956. These zonal councils have been established by the State Reorganization Act 1956 to give their advise on matters related to common interest to each of the five zones, of territory of India..

These are not Constitutional bodies unlike Inter-state Council, which is a statutory body established under Article 263 of the Indian Constitution. Since these Zonal Councils have been established via the Part III of the States Reorganization Act of 1956, they are considered as statutory bodies.

At present, there are 6 Zonal Council in India. Originally 5 councils were created as per the States Reorganization Act 1956 as follows:

  • Northern Zonal Council which includes the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and LadakhNCT of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.
  • Central Zonal Council includes State of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Eastern Zonal Council includes the State of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim and West Bengal.
  • Western Zonal Council includes State of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
  • Southern Zonal Council includes State of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.




San-Sadhan’ Hackathon

It is the latest initiative under the Swachh Bharat Mission which aims to ease lives of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) by making toilets smarter, more accessible, and easier to use.

In this smart move, the government is looking for smart, scalable and innovative solutions for economical toilets for individual and community use in rural and urban contexts.

This initiative is being jointly organized by the Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, in collaboration with Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and 91springboard.

It invites researchers, start-ups, student innovators, technology enthusiasts, and industry experts to participate and is deemed to be a huge opportunity to win exciting prizes and get handholding and mentoring support by ministry, industry experts and ecosystem enablers.


RAJASTHAN FREE MEDICINE SCHEME

Context : The National Health Mission has given first rank to Rajasthan among 16 States in the implementation of its flag-ship free medicine scheme.

What is it all about?

In his budget address, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot increased the number of free medicines from 608 to 712 and free tests from 70 to 90, under the CM’s Free Medicine Scheme.

In the year 2011-12, Ashok Gehlot, who was serving as the chief minister, had announced a scheme to provide commonly-used essential medicines free of cost to patients visiting government healthcare institutions.

The scheme had two components free medicine and free tests.



FATF Asia-Pacific Group may blacklist Pakistan


Context : After being grey-listed at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary, Pakistan now faces being put on the blacklist of the FATF’s Asia affiliate, the Asia-Pacific Group (APG), that will conclude its meetings in Canberra, Australia.

About FATF

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body which was established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions.

It's objectives are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related issues that poses a threat to the integrity of the international financial system.

The FATF is therefore a policy-making body which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.

The FATF's decision making body, the FATF Plenary, meets three times per year.


What are the Black and Grey Lists of FATF ?

  • The FATF generally has two types of lists : Black List & Grey List
  • Black List includes only those countries that FATF considers as non-cooperative tax havens. These countries are known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs)
  • The FATF blacklist or OECD blacklist has been issued by the Financial Action Task Force since 2000 and lists countries which it judges to be non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terror funding.
  • The FATF updates the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.
  • Grey List includes those countries which are considered as the safe heaven for supporting terror funding and money laundering.
If any country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and counter measures, increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether.


Russia launches rocket with humanoid robot into space

The Rocket is bound for the International Space Station (ISS). The space robot Fedor (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research) was the only passenger onboard the Soyuz rocket, which launched from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The robot Fedor, which measures one metre and 80 centimetres tall and weighs 160 kilograms, will spend 10 days aboard the ISS practicing other skills, such as using tools to fix issues that might arise on the space station.

It is not the first robot to visit the International Space Station, with various private firms and space agencies sending up different machines to assist human astronauts on the orbiting laboratory.

The first humanoid robot was sent up by NASA in 2011, with a similar aim of carrying out jobs that would be too risky for humans to undertake.

A miniature humanoid robot called Kirobo was sent up by Japan in 2013 before returning to Earth 18 months later.

In 2018, Airbus and IBM teamed up to send a "flying brain" to the ISS, equipped with the advanced Watson artificial intelligence technology.


SEBI's norms for BUYBACK

The SEBI has released buyback norms for listed firms that own NBFCs and housing finance companies (HFCs) subsidiaries. This move will free conglomerates from the restrictive debt-to-equality ratio (DER) norms calculated on a consolidated basis for guiding buybacks.

What is a BUYBACK?

It is a mechanism through which a listed company buys back shares from the market. It can be done either through open market purchases or through the tender offer route.

Under the open market mechanism, the company buys back the shares from the secondary market. Historically, most companies had preferred this route of Buyback.

Under the tender offer, shareholders can tender their shares during the buyback offer.

What are the benefits associated with BUYBACK?

These are typically done when a company has a significant cash reserve and feels that the shares are not fairly valued at the current market price. Since the shares that are bought back are extinguished, the stake of the remaining shareholders rise.

Since a buyback is usually done at a price higher than the then prevailing market price, shareholders get an attractive exit option, especially when the shares are thinly traded.

Further, it is also more tax-efficient than dividends as a way to reward shareholders.

Promoters also use this mechanism to tighten their grip on the firm.


QUICK FEEDS

  • Wildfire in Amazon forests in northern Brazil has caused an intense firestorm on social media with everyone praying for Amazon forest with a hashtag #PrayforAmazon.

  • Minister of New and Renewable Energy has decided to declare Ocean energy as Renewable Energy.
    • It will be eligible for meeting the non-solar Renewable Energy Purchase Obligations (RPO) and the decision will give boost to ocean energy in the country.
  • ADRATIKLIT BOULAHFA, a new species of Stegosaurus has been recently discovered by the scientists from the London's Natural History Museum (NHM).
    • It is dated to 168 million years ago, which makes it the oldest known member of that group of dinosaurs ever known.
    • It is also the first stegosaurus to be found in the North Africa. Its remains were discovered in the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco.
    • Its name is derived from the words used by the Berber (an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa) for mountains (Adros), lizard (tiklit) and the area where the specimen was found (Boulahfa).
    • It was armoured and herbivorous, and lived on the ancient super-continent of Gondwana, which later split into Africa, South America, Australia and Antarctica.



MUST READ 

22nd August 2019 Current Affairs 
21st August 2019 Current Affairs 
The Crunch in the Automobile Industry : Editorial Insights.

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