Date:- 8th Mar 2018
SPECIAL STATUS CATEGORY NO LONGER EXISTS: JAITLEY (GS 2 GOVERNANCE)
The Central government and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have locked horns over the central assistance ever since the Union Budget was presented, with the latter alleging that the Centre ignored its demand for special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
The demand for the special category status for the southern state has been a constant issue ever since the inception of Telangana in 2014.
The Centre says the Fourteenth Finance Commission effectively removed the concept of Special Category States after its recommendations were accepted in 2015 and center could only provide “monetary equivalent” of a special category state to Andhra Pradesh but would not be able to grant the “special status” that was restricted only to the north-eastern and three hilly states by the 14th Finance Commission.
What is ‘Special Category’ status
Special category’ status is a classification given by Centre to assist in development of those states that face geographical & socio-economic disadvantages like hilly terrains, strategic international borders, economic & infrastructural backwardness and non-viable state finances
The concept of a special category state was first introduced in 1969 when the 5th Finance Commission sought to provide certain disadvantaged states with preferential treatment in the form of central assistance and tax breaks
Some benefits of SCS
- The Centre pays 90 per cent of the funds required in a centrally-sponsored scheme to special category status category states as against 60 per cent in case of normal category states, while the remaining funds are provided by the state governments.
- Significant concession in excise & customs duties, income tax and corporate tax
- Unspent money does not lapse and gets carry forward.
CABINET APPROVES EASING SPECTRUM CAP (GS 3 ECONOMY)
The Union Cabinet approved relaxing the cap on spectrum holding by telcos, a move that is expected to aid mergers and acquisitions in the sector.
The cap on overall spectrum that can be held by an operator in a circle has been raised to 35% from the current 25%. In line with earlier recommendations of TRAI, the current cap of 50% on intra-band spectrum holding has also been removed.
The Cabinet has also given telcos the option to extend the time period for payment of spectrum bought in auction to 16 years from the present 10 years.
The move is seen to boost consolidation in the industry, with a major Idea- Vodafone merger already on the cards, and telecom experts calling for just four players in the entire industry including the state-run BSNL
The Indian telecom industry was reeling of unsustainable levels of debt. The relief measures, based on the recommendations by the Inter Ministerial Group on stressed assets in the telecom sector, will facilitate investments, consolidation and enhance ease of doing business
The government is also hopeful that this move would encourage participation in future spectrum auctions.
While the relaxed norms will come as a welcome relief, more needs to be done to provide relief to the telecom sector.
CCI SLAPS RS. 54 CR. FINE ON 3 AIRLINES (GS 2 GOVERNANCE)
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Wednesday imposed a total fine of more than Rs54 crore on Jet Airways, InterGlobe Aviation and SpiceJet for unfair business practices with respect to fixing fuel surcharge on cargo transport.
It has also directed the three airlines to “cease and desist” from anti-competitive practices
Competition Commission of India is a body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an adverse effect on competition in India.
The main objective of competition law is to promote economic efficiency using competition as one of the means of assisting the creation of market responsive to consumer preferences. The advantages of perfect competition are three-fold: allocative efficiency, which ensures the effective allocation of resources, productive efficiency, which ensures that costs of production are kept at a minimum and dynamic efficiency, which promotes innovative practices.
The CCI is a quasi-judicial body which gives opinions to statutory authorities and also deals with other cases. It has one chairman and six members. It is the youngest and the only cross-sector regulator in India.
INDIA-CHINA TRADE HITS A RECORD $84.4 BILLION (GS 3 ECONOMY)
The India-China bilateral trade has reached a historic high of$84.44 billion last year. The growth was achieved despite bilateral tensions over a host of issues including the Doklam standoff.
The bilateral trade in 2017 rose by 18.63 per cent year-on-year to reach $84.44 billion. It the first time volume of bilateral touched $80 billion, well above the $71.18 billion registered last year.
It was not just growth in overall trade but a rare novelty of the bilateral trade, otherwise dominated by the Chinese exports, grows by about 40% in 2017 totaling to $16.34 billion. Also the bilateral trade stagnated around $70 billion for several years despite the leaders of both the countries setting $100 billion as target for 2015.
But an area of concern is the huge deficit India is facing. According to India’s trade figures, the deficit had crossed $52 billion last year. India has been pressing China to open the IT and Pharmaceutical sectors for Indian firms to reduce the massive trade deficit.
BALKRISHNA DOSHI WINS PRITZKER PRIZE (PRELIMS)
Balkrishna Doshi became the first Indian architect to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize 2018.
Pritzker Prize is considered as architecture’s Nobel equivalent.
About Balkrishna Doshi
Architect Balkrishna Doshi, a pioneer of low-cost housing design. He has worked with the legendary Le Corbusier in Paris
He designed the campus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad as well as IIMs in Bangalore and Lucknow, the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Tagore Memorial Hall, the Institute of Indology in Ahmedabad among others.
About Pritzker Architecture Prize
Jay and Cindy Pritzker established the prize in 1979.
The Pritzker Prize is awarded annually “to honor a living architect or architects whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.