Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 23rd April to 30th April, 2017

Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 23rd April to 30th April, 2017 (PIB Weekly Compilation)


Archive


Plenary Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) and IMFC of the World Bank Group and the IMF

{Economic Development}


Source: PIB

Plenary Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) of the World Bank Group and the IMF and the Restricted Session of the International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC) were recently held in Washington D.C.

  • The meetings comprised of discussion sessions on the ‘Forward Look’ exercise carried-out by the World Bank focusing on ‘A Vision for the World Bank Group in 2030 – Progress and Challenges’, Progress Report on the Shareholding Review and a paper on ‘A Stronger World Bank Group for All’.
  • The discussions also centred on the global economic outlook, the resource base and governance framework of IMF and the importance of inclusiveness in terms of distribution of the benefits from global integration.
  • Indian finance minister participated in the meetings. He called for renewing the commitment to reach a decision on Selective Capital Increase (SCI) and General Capital Increase (GCI) by Annual Meetings 2017 in line with the 2015 Lima roadmap.

Ministerial Committees:

The IMF Board of Governors is advised by two ministerial committees, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Development Committee.

IMFC:

  • The IMFC has 24 members, drawn from the pool of 187 governors. Its structure mirrors that of the Executive Board and its 24 constituencies. As such, the IMFC represents all the member countries of the Fund.
  • The IMFC meets twice a year, during the Spring and Annual Meetings. The Committee discusses matters of common concern affecting the global economy and also advises the IMF on the direction its work.
  • At the end of the Meetings, the Committee issues a joint communiqué summarizing its views. These communiqués provide guidance for the IMF’s work program during the six months leading up to the next Spring or Annual Meetings. There is no formal voting at the IMFC, which operates by consensus.

Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

{Governance} 


Source: PIB

In the light of alleged irregularities, the government has reiterated that GeM is the most transparent, accountable and efficient public procurement portal and has already resulted in savings of crores of Rupees to the Government.

  • The government noted that the processes on GeM are completely transparent and GeM is the first Government portal that places all the procurements- big or small- by Government organizations in public domain, with details about the buyer, seller, item, quantity and price.
  • The government has also assured that there are adequate checks and balances in place on GeM which do not allow suppliers to get away with supplying at a higher price to the Government, than the prevailing market or Last Procurement Price (LPP).

GeM:

  • Government e-Marketplace (GeM) aims to transform the way in which procurement of goods and services is done by the Government Ministries/Departments, PSUs, autonomous bodies etc.
  • DGS&D with technical support of NeGD (MeitY) has developed GeM portal for procurement of both Products & Services.
  • GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven e-market place that enables procurement of common use goods and services with minimal human interface.


An overview of GST

{Economic Development}


Source: PIB

GOODS AND SERVICES TAX (GST)- CENTRAL BOARD OF EXCISE & CUSTOMS

Benefits:-GST 1

  1. It brings benefits to all the stakeholders of industry, government and the consumer. It will lower the cost of goods and services, give a boost to the economy and make the products and services globally competitive.
    • GST aims to make India a common market with common tax rates and procedures and remove the economic barriers thus paving the way for an integrated economy at the national level. By subsuming most of the Central and State taxes into a single tax , it would mitigate the ill effects of cascading, improve competitiveness and improve liquidity of the businesses.
  1. GST is largely technology driven. It will reduce the human interface to a great extent and this would lead to speedy decisions.
  2. GST will give a major boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government of India by making goods and services produced in India competitive in the National as well as International market.
  • Also all imported goods will be charged integrated tax (IGST) which is equivalent to Central GST + State GST. This will bring equality with taxation on local products.
  1. Under the GST regime, exports will be zero-rated in entirety unlike the present system where refund of some taxes may not take place due to fragmented nature of indirect taxes between the Centre and the States.
  • This will boost Indian exports in the international market thus improving the balance of payments position.
  1. GST is expected to bring buoyancy to the Government Revenue by widening the tax base and improving the taxpayer compliance. GST is likely improve India’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index and is estimated to increase the GDP growth by 1.5 to 2%.
  2. GST will bring more transparency to indirect tax laws. Since the whole supply chain will be taxed at every stage with credit of taxes paid at the previous stage being available for set off at the next stage of supply, the economics and tax value of supplies will be easily distinguishable. This will help the industry to take credit and the government to verify the correctness of taxes paid and the consumer to know the exact amount of taxes paid.
  3. The taxpayers would not be required to maintain records and show compliance with a myriad of indirect tax laws of the Central Government and the State Governments like Central Excise, Service Tax, VAT, Central Sales Tax, Octroi, Entry Tax, Luxury Tax, Entertainment Tax, etc.
  • They would only need to maintain records and show compliance in respect of Central Goods and Services Tax Act and State (or Union Territory) Goods and Services Tax Act for all intra-State supplies (which are almost identical laws) and with Integrated Goods and Services Tax for all inter-State supplies (which also has most of its basic features derived from the CGST and the SGST Act).

Salient Features of GST

  1. The GST would be applicable on the supply of goods or servicesas against the present concept of tax on the manufacture or sale of goods or provision of services. It would be a destination based consumption tax. This means that tax would accrue to the State or the Union Territory where the consumption takes place. It would be a dual GST with the Centre and States simultaneously levying tax on a common tax base.
  2. The GST to be levied by the Centre on intra-State supply of goods or services would be called the Central tax (CGST) and that to be levied by the States including Union territories with legislature/Union Territories without legislature would be called the State tax (SGST)/ Union territory tax (UTGST) respectively.
  3. The GST would apply to all goods other than alcoholic liquor for human consumption and five petroleum products, viz. petroleum crude, motor spirit (petrol), high speed diesel, natural gas and aviation turbine fuel. It would apply to all services barring a few to be specified.
  4. Threshold Exemption: Taxpayers with an aggregate turnover in a financial year up to Rs.20 lakhs would be exempt from ta
  5. Composition levy: Small taxpayers with an aggregate turnover in a financial year up to Rest. 50 lakhs shall be eligible for composition levy

GST CouncilGST

  • The mechanism of GST Council would ensure harmonization on different aspects of GST between the Centre and the States as well as among States.
  • It has been specifically provided that the GST Council, in its discharge of various functions, shall be guided by the need for a harmonized structure of GST and for the development of a harmonized national market for goods and services.
  • The GST Council shall establish a mechanism to adjudicate disputes arising out of its recommendation or implementation thereof.

Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism – Advance Rulings

  • Advance ruling mechanism has been continued under the GST law.

The salient features are as under:

  • Advance ruling can be sought in respect of more subjects than allowed at present. The subjects are: classification of goods/or services, time and value of supply, rate of tax, admissibility of input tax credit, liability to pay tax, liability to take registration and whether a particular transaction amounts to a supply under GST law.
  • Advance ruling can be sought not only for new activities but also for existing activities. The facility of appeal, which is not there under the Central law, has been provided in the GST Law.
  • The applicants or the Department, if aggrieved by the advance ruling, would henceforth get the opportunity to file an appeal before the Appellate Authority for revision of the ruling. Advance Ruling can be obtained more easily as there will be one Advance Ruling Authority (as also the Appellate Authority) in every State.

IT preparedness

Putting in place a robust IT network is an absolute must for implementation of GST.

  • A Special Purpose Vehicle called the GSTN has been set up to cater to the needs of GST.
  • The GSTN shall provide a shared IT infrastructure and services to Central and State Governments, taxpayers and other stakeholders for implementation of GST.

The functions of the GSTN would, inter alia, include:

  • Facilitating registration;
  • Forwarding the returns to Central and State authorities;
  • Computation and settlement of IGST;
  • Matching of tax payment details with banking network;
  • Providing various MIS reports to the Central and the State Governments based on the taxpayer return information;

An anti-profiteering measure has been incorporated in the GST law to ensure that any benefits on account of reduction in tax rates results in commensurate reduction in prices of such goods/services.

GST Council – Constitution

  • Chairperson – Union FM
  • Vice Chairperson – to be chosen amongst the Ministers of State Government
  • Members – MOS (Finance) and all Ministers of Finance / Taxation of each State
  • Quorum is 50% of total members
  • States – 2/3 weightage and Centre – 1/3 weightage
  • Decision by 75% majority
  • Council to make recommendations on everything related to GST including laws, rules and rates etc.


Online Statement Of Transaction (e-SOT) and the e-PRAN card launched for Atal Pension Yojana (APY) subscribers

{Public Policy}


Source: PIB

With a view to digitally empower the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) subscribers and improve the quality of service, the facility of online viewing of the statement of transaction(e-SOT) and also the e-PRAN card have been launched.

Atal Pension Yojana (APY)

  • APY is available for all citizens of India in the age group of 18-40 years.
  • Under the APY, the subscribers would receive a minimum guaranteed pension of Rs. 1000 to Rs. 5000 per month from the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which depends on the age of the subscriber at the time of joining the APY.
  • In completion of 60 years of age, will get the guaranteed minimum monthly pension, or higher monthly pension, if the investment returns are higher than the assumed returns for minimum guaranteed pension, over the period of contribution.
  • After the subscriber’s death, the spouse of the subscriber shall be entitled to receive the same pension amount as that of the subscriber until the death of the spouse. After the death of both the subscriber and the spouse, the nominee of the subscriber shall be entitled to receive the pension wealth, as accumulated till age of 60 years of the subscriber.
  • In exceptional circumstances, that is, in the event of the death of beneficiary or specified illness, as mentioned in the PFRDA (Exit and withdrawals under the National Pension System) Regulations, 2015, before the age of 60 years, the accumulated pension wealth till date would be given to the nominee or the subscriber as the case may be.


Launch of IPR Awareness Campaign for Schools

{Public Policy}


Source: PIB

The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM)in collaboration with the International Trademark Association (INTA) kicked off the IPR Awareness campaign for schools across the country.

Background:

The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, which was approved by the Union Cabinet in May 2016, is a significant move forward to encourage creativity and stimulate innovation in the country. Outreach and Promotion is the first and foremost objective of the National IPR Policy and is critical to shaping an IP environment that is conducive to fostering creativity & innovation in the country.

Highlights of the new IPR policy:

  • The new policy seeks to encourage innovation and improve access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection.
  • The Policy will allow compulsory licensing with restrictions in case of a public health emergency such as epidemics and it is compliant with the World Trade Organization’s guidelines.
  • The policy seeks to put in place a legal framework that will encourage the IPR regime and reduce the time taken by the government to approve a trademark to a month by 2017. Currently, the process takes more than a year.
  • The policy makes the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) the nodal agency for regulating IP rights in the country.
  • The Policy states “India shall remain committed to the (World Trade Organisation’s) Doha Declaration on Trade Related IPR Agreement (TRIPS) and Public Health.
  • It also says “India will continue to utilise the legislative space and flexibilities available in international treaties and the TRIPS Agreement.” These flexibilities include the sovereign right of countries to use provisions such as Section 3(d) and CLs for ensuring the availability of essential and life-saving drugs at affordable prices.
  • To ensure strong and effective IPR laws, the Policy states India will engage constructively in the negotiation of international treaties and agreements in consultation with stakeholders.

CIPAM:

  • Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the Government in May 2016, with the slogan – “Creative India; Innovative India
  • CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country, promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation, providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets and coordinating the implementation of the National IPR Policy in collaboration with Government Ministries/Departments and other stakeholders.

“SAMVAD” Programme

{Public Policy}


Source: PIB

Union Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports interacted with youngsters from Jammu and Kashmir in a programme named “Samvad”.

The objective of the interactive session was to initiate a conversation on a host of issues ranging from culture, sports, youth affairs, to various other social issues.

  • The students got a unique platform to share their thoughts and ideas directly with the Youth Affairs & Sports Minister.
  • Minister said, the youngsters of the Valley are multi-talented and must use their skills to gain maximum exposure to gather knowledge and work for nation-building.

The students shared various issues in terms of social problems, issues pertaining to sports and education.  Minister promised them full support and said that the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes in the mantra of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”

Sabha Saath Sabka Vikas: Collective Efforts Inclusive Growth

  • This model is unique & worth emulating as it focuses on removing fault-lines of discrimination & prejudice. Once everyone is placed on an equal footing & given equal opportunities, it can only result in the creation of a truly equal & healthy society.
  • The interactive programme had been organized by the Nehru Yuva Kendra under the aegis of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.

Nehru Yuva Kendra

  • Nehru Yuva Kendras (NYKs) are set up at District level, with the primary objective of developing the personality and leadership qualities of the youth and to involve them in nation-building activities.
  • The Scheme of setting up of Nehru Yuva Kendras was introduced in 1972.
  • In the year 1987, an autonomous body called Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) was established for effective implementation of the Scheme and all the NYKs were placed under this autonomous body. NYKs have been set up in various Districts in a phased manner.

NITI Ayog praises selection of 100 smart cities without any controversy

 {Development and Employment} 


Source: PIB

Implementation of Smart City Mission is certainly changing the way the city governments are addressing issues of urban planning and execution.

Smart Cities and Informed Urbanisation’ here  organized by NITI Ayog and University of New South Wales, Australia.

Key facts:

  • Stating that Smart City Mission aims at improving livability in cities,
  • The broad objectives of the Mission are: Sustainable urban planning and development, Management of urban affairs with citizens’ participation, Area based development, Resilience to climate change, natural disasters etc and Technology based solutions for better governance and infrastructure management.
  • All new urban sector missions launched over the last two years aim at inclusive urban development benefitting all sections.
  • The Government has selected 100 cities for smart city development based on competition without any iota of controversy and was highly laudable. Basic features of a smart city include slum free city environment, proper delivery of city services including clean water and quality and assured power, affordable housing and meeting the needs of children, women and the aged. stressed on the need for optimal use of scarce urban land through vertical development.
  • Smart City Mission is not aimed at disbursing public money but to recast urban landscape through other means of resource mobilization and promoting best urban practices.
  • “Smart City Mission is not a typical project oriented programme but a process driven by the ambition of the citizens for better living and is not limited by time”. The first batch of 20 smart cities have come out with projects with potential for visible impact on ground.
  • Special Purpose Vehicle being constituted for implementation of smart city plans are not parallel power structures but are accountable execution tools with the involvement of Mayors and elected Representatives of People in advisory bodies.

Smart city mission implementation seeks to ensure core services of high quality, transformation of old and neglected neighborhoods and adoption of technology based solutions.

Smart cities mission:

The 27 cities selected in the latest round of ‘Smart City Challenge’ competition in order of the marks scored by them are: Amritsar tops the list of 27 new smart cities.

S.NoCityState
1AmritsarPunjab
2Kalyan-DombiviliMaharashtra
3UjjainMadhya Pradesh
4TirupatiAndhra Pradesh
5NagpurMaharashtra
6ManagaluruKarnataka
7VelloreTamil Nadu
8ThaneMaharashtra
9GwaliorMP
10AgraUttar Pradesh

 

The 27 smart cities announced are from 12 States including 5 from Maharashtra, 4 each from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, 3 from Uttar Pradesh and 2 each from Punjab and Rajasthan.

Nagaland and Sikkim have made it to the smart city list for the first time.


Urban Development and Housing schemes

{Public Policy} 


Source: PIB

Implementation and progress of various new urban development and housing missions launched by the central government in Haryana will be reviewed at a high level meeting.

Union Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation will chair the review meeting in Chandigarh.

Review under Central Government Schemes

The central government launched Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart City Mission and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) to enable inclusive and sustainable urban development and to address infrastructure deficit in urban areas of the country.

ATAL MISSION FOR REJUVENATION AND URBAN TRANSFORMATION(AMRUT)- Ministry of Urban Development:

Providing basic services (e.g. water supply, sewerage, urban transport) to households and build amenities in cities which will improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged is a national priority.

The purpose of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) is to

  • Ensure that every household has access to a tap with assured supply of water and a sewerage connection;
  • Increase the amenity value of cities by developing greenery and well maintained open spaces (e.g. parks); and
  • Reduce pollution by switching to public transport or constructing facilities for non-motorized transport (e.g. walking and cycling).

All these outcomes are valued by citizens, particularly women, and indicators and standards have been prescribed by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) in the form of Service Level Benchmarks (SLBs).

Project:

  • AMRUT this has been replaced by approval of the State Annual Action Plan once a year by the MoUD and the States have to give project sanctions and approval at their end.
  • The AMRUT makes States equal partners in planning and implementation of projects, thus actualizing the spirit of cooperative federalism.
  • Capacity Building and a set of Reforms have been included in the Mission.
  • Reforms will lead to improvement in service delivery, mobilization of resources and making municipal functioning more transparent and functionaries more accountable, while Capacity Building will empower municipal functionaries and lead to timely completion of projects.

PM launches UDAN – Regional Connectivity Scheme for Civil Aviation

{Transport}


Source: PIB

UDAN – the Regional Connectivity Scheme for civil aviation, from Shimla Airport.

Under this scheme, flights have begun from Shimla, Nanded and Kadapa Airports.

All you need to know about the UDAN scheme for low-cost, regional connectivity

UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme, an endeavour to make regional connectivity easy.

Key features of the scheme:

  1. The UDAN scheme aims to stimulate regional connectivity with flights covering distances up to 800 km through a market-based mechanism.
  2. 43 cities are expected to be mainstreamed on India’s flight connectivity grid. A dozen airports where limited but irregular flights operate will be connected. As many as 31 destinations that are not operational despite the existence of airports will become active.
  3. Air India’s subsidiary Alliance Air will be the first airline to start operating flights between Delhi and Shimla under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS). Alliance Air will operate regular flights using a 48-seater ATR-42 all-economy class aircraft from April 28.
  4. Due to the short runway length, height and temperature restrictions, the aircraft will not be able to fly the total capacity of 48 passengers. In the Delhi-Shimla leg, the flight will carry 35 passengers while on the return only 15 passengers will be able to fly. The government is expected to compensate for the loss with a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) of about Rs. 3,000 per seat.
  5. The VGF will be used to bridge the gap between the cost of airline operations and expected revenue.
  6. Among the commitments of the States are those to make sufficient land available; ensure adequate security; and provide essential services at concessional rates for the airports or air strips. The Centre would like the States to provide minimum land, free of cost, for development of the RCS airports. More importantly, the States will have to bear 20% towards VGF. The share will be 10% for North Eastern States and Union Territories.
  7. The government aims at making flying affordable by capping fares at Rs. 2500 per seat per hour.
  8. The scheme is a component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP).

Legislation against Doping

{Sports}


Source: PIB

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports has said that there is Zero Tolerance for doping and there is a need to encourage clean sports.

  • The Consultative Committee meeting was convened by National Anti Doping Agency (NADA). NADA has an ambitious plan to significantly increase the number of tests during the current year.
  • NADA has taken a number of steps to increase education and awareness against doping, not only in Sports Authority of India (SAI) SAI training centres, but also at various university games and events conducted above state-level by various federations.
  • In all national competitions, an undertaking is being taken from the athletes that they know the ill-effects of doping and will not indulge in doping.

NADA:

  • National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) was set up as registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1890 on November 24, 2005 with a mandate for Dope free sports in India.
  • The primary objectives are to implement anti-doping rules as per WADA code, regulate dope control programme, to promote education and research and creating awareness about doping and its ill effects.

International Convention against Doping in Sport

  • By adopting the Convention on 19 October 2005, UNESCO responded to the calls from the international community.
  • At the Third International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS III) in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in December 1999, consideration was given to ethical values in sport. Ministers expressed concern over unethical behavior, in particular doping in sport, and urged all countries to take concerted action.
  • The Convention represents the first time that governments around the world have agreed to apply the force of international law to anti-doping. This is important because there are specific areas where only governments possess the means to take the fight against doping forward.
  • The Convention also helps to ensure the effectiveness of the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code). As the Code is a non-government document that applies only to members of sports organizations, the Convention provides the legal framework under which governments can address specific areas of the doping problem that are outside the domain of the sports movement. As such, the Convention helps to formalize global anti-doping rules, policies and guidelines in order to provide an honest and equitable playing environment for all athletes.

There is a degree of flexibility as to how governments can give effect to the Convention, either by way of legislation, regulation, policies or administrative practices. However, signatory governments (States Parties) are required to take specific action to:

  • Restrict the availability of prohibited substances or methods to athletes (except for legitimate medical purposes) including measures against trafficking;
  • Facilitate doping controls and support national testing programmes;
  • Withhold financial support from athletes and athlete support personnel who commit an anti-doping rule violation, or from sporting organizations that are not in compliance with the Code;
  • Encourage producers and distributors of nutritional supplements to establish ‘best practice’ in the labelling, marketing and distribution of products which might contain prohibited substances.
  • Support the provision of anti-doping education to athletes and the wider sporting community.

Entered into force on 1 February 2007 – becoming the most successful convention in the history of UNESCO in terms of rhythm of ratification after adoption –, the Convention is now the second most ratified of all UNESCO treaties.

The Convention also provides a mechanism to assist States Parties to develop anti-doping education and prevention programmes through the Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport managed by UNESCO.


EESL collaborates with NITI Aayog for energy efficiency

{Development and Employment} 


Source: PIB

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) collaborated with NITI Aayog to retrofit LED lights, energy efficient ACs, Ceiling fans, Energy saver ACs, energy efficient Water Pumps and also installed chiller system in the NITI Aayog premises.

This has resulted in an annual energy savings of 11.4 lakh kVAh, an annual monetary savings of Rs 1.02 crore and led to an annual CO2 reduction of 966 tons.

Key facts:

  • NITI Aayog initiated the energy efficiency interventions in March 2014 in consultation with EESL. EESL analysed the connected load of NITI Aayog building and based on the highest components of energy utilization, target areas for interventions were identified.
  • Additionally, monitoring and verification of the interventions was also carried out through physical verification of the replaced energy systems with wattage and operating hours by EESL.

EESL:

  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public sector entity under Ministry of Power, has taken up the project of distributing LED bulbs under its flagship initiative, theDomestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP).
  • The Prime Minister launched the DELP scheme on 5th January 2015.
  • The scheme is presently running in nineteen states & union territories in India and is rapidly expanding across all other
  • The target of the DELP is to replace all the 77 crore incandescent bulbs sold in India by LEDs.
  • This will result in reduction of 20,000 MW load, energy savings of 100 billion KWh and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions savings of 80 million tons every year. The annual saving in electricity bills of consumers will be Rs. 40,000 crore, considering average tariff of Rs. 4 per kWh.

Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme(DELP): It was launched as “Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA)”. The scheme was announced as “Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP)”, urging the people to use LED bulbs in place of incandescent bulbs, tube lights and CFL bulbs as they are more efficient, long lasting and economical in their life cycle duration. The scheme was implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) (under the Ministry of Power).

Target: The government’s target is to replace 77 crore incandescent bulbs in India with LEDs by 2019 leading to an expected reduction in installed load of 20,000 MW with an annual estimated savings of over 100 million kwh and an annual reduction of Rs.400 billion (US$5.9 billion) in electricity bills.



Health Ministry launches ‘Test and Treat Policy for HIV’

{Health issue}


Source: PIB

Ending stigma is of paramount importance to enable persons infected and affected with HIV access health services

  • As soon as a person is tested and found to be positive, he will be provided with ART irrespective of his CD count or clinical stage.” This was stated by the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare,.
  • This will be for all men, women, adolescents and children who have been diagnosed as a HIV + case. This will improve longevity, improve quality of life of those infected and will save them from many opportunistic infections, especially TB.

National Strategic Plan for HIV – Test and Treat Policy for HIV;

  • The Health Minister also announced that India will soon develop a National Strategic Plan for HIV for next seven years and these seven years will be crucial for ending AIDS.
  • To facilitate reduction in stigma and discrimination, the long pending HIV/AIDS Act has been passed very recently, which is an historical step. Very few countries globally have such a law to protect rights of people infected with HIV.
  • The Health Minister further informed that the key provisions of HIV/AIDS Bill are prohibition of discrimination, informed consent, non-disclosure of HIV status, anti-retroviral therapy & opportunistic infection management, protection of property of affected children, safe working environment and appointment of ombudsman in every State.

Analysis

  • All those who are positive should get treatment and for that the Health Ministry is constantly expanding treatment delivery sites.
  • “We have nearly 1600 ART and Link ART sites where treatment is provided across the country and recently we crossed the 1 million people on ART, second country in world to have such large numbers on free lifelong treatment. We have been able to avert 1.5 lakh deaths due to ART and we will be able to avert 4.5 lakh more deaths by expanding provision of ART.
  • The 90:90:90 strategy that the Ministry has adopted will help to identify 90% of those infected, place 90% of these on treatment and ensure 90% have their virus under control. “This strategy will offer us an opportunity to work towards our commitment during HLM and WHA on “ending AIDS by 2030” as a part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)

Bill and its provisions:

  1. It aims to end the epidemic by 2030 in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. There are approximately 21 lakh persons living with HIV in India.
  2. The Bill has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.
  3. A person living with AIDS cannot be treated unfairly at employment, educational establishments, renting a property, standing for public or private office or providing healthcare and insurance services.
  4. The Bill also aims to enhance access to healthcare services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.
  5. Every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household.
  6. The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
  7. No person shall be compelled to disclose his/her HIV status except with their informed consent, and if required by a court order.
  8. The State and Central government should ensure prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS, provide anti-retroviral therapy, and facilitate access to welfare schemes especially for women and children.
  9. Every person in the care and custody of the State shall have right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counseling services.
  10. The Bill suggest that cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed’ off by the court on a priority basis and duly ensuring the confidentiality.


Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs two Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)

{Indian Economy}


Source: PIB

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs two Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers, strengthening the Government’s commitment to foster a non-adversarial tax regime.

The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed in the near future. The approach and functioning of the officers in the APA teams have been appreciated and acknowledged by the industry in India and abroad.

Advance pricing agreements

  • The Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) program allows the taxpayer and the tax authority to avoid future transfer pricing disputes by entering into a prospective agreement, generally covering at least five tax years, regarding the taxpayer’s transfer prices.

Bilateral vs. unilateral APAs

  • Taxpayers may enter into APAs with more than one tax authority – i.e., bilateral or multilateral APAs – through the mutual agreement procedure (MAP) included in most income tax treaties. Unilateral APAs involve agreements between only the taxpayer and one government.

Background:

  • The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the Rollback provisions were introduced in 2014.
  • The 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. Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest among Multi National Enterprises (MNEs) and that has resulted in more than 800 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) having been filed in just five years.


4th National Standards Conclave

{Economic Development}


Source: PIB

Department of Commerce, Government of India in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) and other knowledge partners is organizing the 4th National Standards Conclave at New Delhi.

The objective of the two day Conclave is to bring awareness and prepare Industries, Central Government Ministries, State Governments, regulatory/standards setting and conformity assessment bodies on the growing importance of “Standards” in the changing scenario of global trade.

Key facts:

  • The Standards Conclave is being held in the backdrop of diminishing importance of tariffs and rising influence of standards and regulation both in goods and services trade.
  • It must be recognized that the days of differential standards – low for domestic market and high for exports – are over and if the Indian industry has to survive and thrive, it has to adopt global standards.
  • The Ministries/regulators/state governments have to also realize that their initiatives and schemes have to be built around global standards if they have to succeed in their objectives.

A good standards regime shall fulfill the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister for “Make in India” campaign. It would also help in preventing flooding of domestic market with unsafe/sub-standard imports at the expense of our domestic industry as well as consumers.

The Conclave would also aim at preparing an Indian National Strategy for Standardization (INSS) document to enable the development of a harmonized, dynamic, and mature standards ecosystem in India.

The National Standards Body of India

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body of India is a statutory organization under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.

Vision

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body of India, resolves to be the leader in all matters concerning Standardization, Certification and Quality. In order to attain this, the Bureau would strive:

  • To provide efficient timely service.
  • To satisfy the customers needs for quality of goods and services.
  • To work and act in such a way that each task performed as individuals or as a corporate entity, leads to excellence and enhances the credibility and image of the Organization.


 

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