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10 August Current Affairs

Consumer Confidence Survey

In News:

The Reserve Bank of India recently released its report of Consumer Confidence Survey. According to the survey, consumer confidence has dropped to a record low.

Details:

The current index dropped to 53.8 in July, 2020 from 63.7 in May. The survey was conducted through telephonic interviews in thirteen major cities.

Key findings of the survey:

  • The consumers were pessimistic about prevailing economic situation, own income and employment scenario.
  • The inflation expectation of households has increased by 60 basis points in July 2020 as compared to May 2020.
  • The median inflation expectation rose to 9.9%.
  • The Business Assessment Index fell sharply to all-time low of 55.3 in the first quarter from 102.2 in the previous quarter.
  • The Business Expectations Index contracted to 99.5
  • The Discretionary spending has reduced in the country
  • The employment scenario has degraded along with income
  • The consumers are becoming optimistic towards 2021

Consumer Confidence Survey:

The Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted by the Reserve Bank of India to find out how optimistic the consumers are in regard to their financial situation. The main parameters of the survey are employment, economic situation, employment, price level, spending and income. It is conducted every two months.

Indices in the survey:

There are two main indices in the Consumer Confidence Survey. They are Current Situation Index and Future Expectations Index. The Current Situation Index measures the change in consumer perception over an economic issue. The Future Expectations Index measures what consumer think about the main parameters.

The Current Situation Index is 53.8 and the Future Expectations Index is 105.4.

Inflation:

The Household Inflation Expectation Survey says that the inflation is to rise further in the future. And thus, the central bank will face difficulties to cut interest rates going forward. This survey is being conducted by RBI on bi-monthly basis since 2016.

Forecast:

The rural economy may boom in the future because of good harvest season. If the Kharif harvest is good, the prices may come down. Also, as more members migrated back to their villages, the per capita income will decline.

G C Murmu takes oath as Comptroller Auditor General

In News:

The former Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Jammu and Kashmir Girish Chandra Murmu took oath as Comptroller and Auditor General of India. He is the first tribal to take oath as CAG of India. The oath was administered by the President Ram Nath Kovind.

Details:

G C Murmu was a 1985 batch IAS officer. He recently resigned his LG post of Jammu and Kashmir. After his resignation former Union Minister Manoj Sinha was sworn in as the new LG of J&K.

Independence of CAG:

There are several provisions in the Constitution to safeguard the independence of CAG. He is appointed by the President and is provided with a tenure of six years or retirement age of 65 years, which ever is earlier. He can be removed from office only by the President in accordance with the procedure mentioned in the Constitution in the same manner as that of removal of Supreme Court Judge.

The salary of CAG and his service conditions cannot be varied after his appointment. The expenses of office of CAG including allowances, salaries and pensions are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

Functions of CAG:

The CAG audits accounts that are related to the expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, and the consolidated fund of every state and Union Territories that have Legislative Assembly. He also audits Contingency Fund and also Public Account of each state.

The CAG audits the accounts of authorities as requested by the President or Governor. After auditing, the CAG submits his reports to President who in turn places them before the houses of Parliament.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Article 148: Deals with CAG appointment, oath and service conditions
  • Article 149: deals with duties and powers of CAG
  • Article 150: The accounts of the Centre and States shall be kept in such form as the President advice the CAG.
  • Article 151: The reports prepared by CAG are to be submitted to President

 

PM Modi to launch financing facility under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

In News:

PM Modi is to launch financing facility of Rs 1 lakh crore under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund via video conferencing. Along with the facility the Prime Minister will also release sixth installment of funds of Rs 17,000 crores. This is to benefit more than 8.5 crore farmers under PM-KISAN scheme.

Details:

The funding facility is to catalyse creation of post-harvest management community and infrastructure farming assets such as collection centres, cold storage, processing units, etc. The assets will enable farmers to get greater value for their produce. The farmers will be able to reduce wastage, store and sell at higher prices and also increase processing and value addition.

Around 11 of 12 Public Sector Banks have signed MoUs with DAC and FW (Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare) in order to implement the above financing facility.

PM Kisan Samman Nidhi:

The sixth instalment of Rs 2,000 under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi is to be sent to more than 10 crore beneficiaries. Under the scheme, the GoI sends Rs 6,000 annually to the registered farmers.

The PM Kisan Samman Nidhi was launched in 2018. It provides direct cash benefit transfer of Rs 75,000 crores.

Agriculture Infrastructure Funds:

The Union Cabinet had approved Agriculture Infrastructure Fund in July 2020. It provides medium-long term debt financing facility for investment. The loans under the funds are to be provided to Marketing Cooperative Societies, Primary Agricultural Credit Societies, Farmer Producer Organizations, Joint Liability Groups, Self Help Groups, Multipurpose Cooperative Societies.

The loans issued under the funds will have interest subvention of 3% per annum. The funds provide following benefits:

  • The credit guarantee can be availed from the facility created under Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) promotion scheme.
  • The subsidised interest of 3% is to be available for a maximum period of seven years.
  • The repayment under the financing facility is subjected to a minimum of 6 months and maximum of 2 years.

Mauritius declares emergency over oil spill

In News:

Island of Mauritius declared environmental emergency due to oil spill caused by Japanese owned ship that was stranded off the coast days ago. The MV Wakashio of Japanese companies Nagashiki Shipping Ltd and Okiyo Maritime Corporation was on its way from Brazil to Singapore carrying 4,000 tonnes of fuel. The ship ran aground on July 25, 2020.

Details:

The cracks that appeared on the ship hull caused the oil spill and has put around 1 to 3 million residents in the island nation to danger. The Mauritius Government has appealed to the French Government for help.

Why France for help?

The French Island of Reunion is the closest to Mauritius. The Island of Reunion is a major military base of France in the Indian Ocean. India conducted joint patrols with the French Navy, CORPAT (Coordinated Patrols) for the first time from the Reunion Island in March 2020.

India-Mauritius:

Mauritius is a part of security grid of India including Coastal Surveillance Radar (CSR). The Head of Mauritian National Security Advisor and Mauritius Navy are Indian Officers. India has several Free Trade Agreements with Mauritius. It includes enhanced EEZ surveillance and anti-piracy operations to prevent intrusions by potential economic offenders including illegal poaching, fishing, human trafficking and drugs. Mauritius is one of the top sources of Foreign Direct Investment for India. India receives 15-16 billion USD of FDI from Mauritius.

The bilateral relation with the island nation is important for India for its strategic location in the Indian Ocean Region.

India in the Indian Ocean:

To counter Chinese strategy of “String of Pearls” in the Indian Ocean, India is exerting itself in the same region through agreements with France, US and Australia to take advantage of their bases in Reunion and Cocos Islands (Australia).

Agaelga Island of Mauritius:

The Agalega Islands of Mauritius has been leased to the Indian military for development of strategic assets. The island is located to the north of Mauritius island.

Gujarat Industrial Policy 2020

In News:

Gujarat State Government launched the “Industrial Policy 2020”. The policy aims to provide Rs 40,000 subsidies to the industries in the state in the next five years.

Details:

The policy will help to lease lands to industrialists and also provide incentives to industrial parks. Under the policy, the Gujarat State Government will appoint dedicated “relationship managers” to host Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2021.

The Gujarat Industrial Policy, 2015, came to an end in 2019 and the government had extended it till 2020.

Success of previous Industrial Policy:

Gujarat stands first in terms of number of Industrial Entrepreneurship Memorandum (IEM). This is 51% of total IEMs filed in the country. The subsidies being allocated to the current policy is three times as that of the previous policy.

Focus on China:

The policy will help industries willing to relocate from China through “Relocation Incentives”. The Gujarat State Government has held joint meetings with countries such as Japan, Germany, USA and UK in this regard.

Key Features of Industrial Policy, 2020:

  • The new policy provides an average outlay of Rs 8,000 crores under which incentives are to be provided to the industries in the state.
  • The policy delinks incentives from SGST. Gujarat is the first state to do so under the new policy.
  • The policy provides 12% Fixed Capital Investment (FCI). The State Government will provide 65% of cost of acquiring foreign patented technologies by MSMEs. This will be up to Rs 50 lakhs.
  • In order to encourage MSMEs to use rooftop solar power, the state government will pay 50 paise to every solar unit of solar power bought from MSMEs. Thus, the new purchase price stands at Rs 2.25 per unit.
  • The policy has increased seed support from Rs 20 lakhs to Rs 30 lakhs.
  • It provides incentives to private developers to set up private industrial parks in the state. The incentives will be 25% of Fixed Capital Investment. The upper limit for this has been set to Rs 30 crores.

The policy focuses on 15 different sectors. They have been divided into core sectors that include waste management projects, electric vehicles and green energy.

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