20 August Current Affairs
August 20, 2019
22 August Current Affairs
August 22, 2019
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21 August Current Affairs

Task Force For Drafting A New Direct Tax Legislation

In News:

The ‘Task Force for drafting a New Direct Tax Legislation’ submitted its report and a draft of the new proposed version of the Income-tax law to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

About:

The Task Force was constituted in November 2017.

Akhilesh Ranjan, Member (Legislation), CBDT was the convenor of the task force.

The Direct Tax Code will replace the Income Tax Act, which was enacted in 1961.

Key recommendations are:

In the four slabs of personal income tax currently, the panel has suggested a rejig in rates between 5 % to 20 %. As of now, for taxpayers below 60 years of age, there’s nil tax on income up to Rs 2.5 lakh, 5 % tax rate for income between Rs 2.5-5 lakh, 20 % tax rate for income between Rs 5-10 lakh and 30 % for income above Rs 10 lakh.

Some tweaks have also been suggested for dividend distribution tax and minimum alternate tax.

It has also made suggestions on reducing compliance burden by simplification of procedures, and litigation management.

Corporate Tax

In News:

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that corporate tax rate for companies with over ₹400 crore turnover would be gradually cut to 25%. However, she did not give a time frame for the reduction.

About:

In her maiden Budget last month, she had cut corporate tax for companies with annual turnover of up to ₹400 crore to 25% from 30% earlier.

The government has, over the last five years, trimmed the rate to 25% from 30% in a phased manner for 99.3% of companies. However, the 0.7% large companies that don’t enjoy this benefit make up for almost 80% of the total corporate tax collection and are subject to as much as a 30% tax.

Echoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech, she said Indian wealth creator entrepreneurs would be given all kind of support.

Retirement In Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs)

In News:

Union Home Ministry has directed all Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) to adopt uniform retirement age of 60 years.

About:

All personnel working in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) will now retire at a uniform age of 60 years.

A Home Ministry order issued yesterday has corrected the anomaly where personnel between the ranks of Constable to Commandant in four forces – CRPF, BSF, ITBP and SSB – superannuated at the age of 57, instead of 60.

Officers from the rank of Deputy Inspector General upto the top-most rank of Director General in these four forces retired after attaining the age of 60.

However, in two other forces of the CISF and the Assam Rifles, all personnel retired at the age of 60.

The latest Home Ministry direction comes in the wake of a January order of the Delhi High Court where it had called the policy of different age of superannuation as discriminatory and unconstitutional, and said it created two classes in the uniformed forces.

Shankar Dayal Sharma

In News:

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, paid floral tributes to Shankar Dayal Sharma, former President of India, on his birth anniversary at Rashtrapati Bhavan today (August 19, 2019).

Political career: 

Shankar Dayal Sharma (1918 – 1999) was a member of Indian National Congress (INC).

Chief Minister: He served as the Chief Minister (1952–1956) of Bhopal State.

Union Cabinet Minister: He served as the Cabinet Minister (1956–1967), holding the portfolios of Education, Law, Public Works, Industry and Commerce, National Resources and Separate Revenue. He again served as the Union Minister for Communications from 1974 to 1977.

Governor: He was appointed the governor of Andhra Pradesh in 1984. After elections in Punjab, in the wake of the Longowal-Rajiv accord between the prime minister and the Akali Dal president, Sharma was made the governor of Punjab in 1985.

Vice President: He then became the eighth vice-president of India and ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha, serving from 1987 – 1992.

President: He was the ninth President of India, serving from 1992 to 1997.

Ansupa

In News:

The Odisha Wetland Authority has approved implementation of an integrated management plan to conserve two of its largest lakes.

About: 

The integrated management plan has been approved for Chilika and Ansupa at an estimated investment of ₹180 crore.

The five-year management of lakes is intended at strengthening livelihood of thousands of fishermen relying on the two water-bodies. Besides, tourism promotion and conservation of ecology will be taken up.

Ansupa, State’s largest freshwater lake, is spread over almost 2 sq km. Ansupa is famous for its sweet water fish, especially labeo bata locally known as pohala. It is also the wintering ground for 32 species of migratory birds.

Chilika, country’s largest brackish water lagoon, is spread over 1,100 sq km. Lakhs of tourists visit the lake to watch endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and migratory birds during winter.

Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy

In News:

Driven by serious sustainability concern, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had proposed a draft National Resource Efficiency Policy 2019.

Aim:

It aims to streamline the efficient use of these resources with minimum negative impact on environment.

Key features of the policy:

It seeks to set up a National Resource Efficiency Authority (NREA) with a core working group housed in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and a members group with representations from different ministries, state/union territory, and other stakeholders.

The authority would be supported by an Inter-Ministerial National Resource Efficiency Board to guide on the aspects critical to its implementation.

It also plans to offer tax benefits on recycled materials, green loans to small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) and soft loans to construct waste disposal facilities, apart from setting up Material Recovery Facilities (MRF).

Manufacturers and service providers would also be required to use more recycled or renewable materials and awareness would be created among consumers to indicate the shift.

Idea of the national policy is to drive the country towards circular economy through efficient use of available material resources, based on principle of 6R and ‘green public procurement’.

The 6R stands for reduce, reuse, recycle, redesign, re-manufacture and refurbish while the very premise of ‘green public procurement’ is to procure products with lower environmental footprints such as secondary raw materials and locally sourced materials.

It also pitches for moving towards ‘zero landfill’ approach in the country, hinting at possibility of imposing ‘landfill taxes’ and ‘high tipping fees’ for bulk generators of waste so that they can move towards optimal use of materials and better waste management.

Functions of NERA:

Develop and implement resource efficient strategies for material recycling, reuse and land-filling targets for various sectors.

Set standards for reuse of secondary raw materials to ensure quality.

Maintain a database of material use and waste generated, recycled and land filled, across various sectors and different regions and monitor the implementation.

What is Resource Efficiency?

Resource efficiency very simply put is making more with fewer materials. In practice, through a life-cycle approach, it leads to minimizing impact on environment & the associated societal burdens, transforming ‘waste’ into ‘resources’ fostering circular economy, and strengthening resource security.

Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy are important goals and central principles for achieving sustainable development. Sustainability is a global priority and SDGs commitment and 11th Five year plan also clearly enunciate importance of Resource efficiency (RE).

Why ensure resource efficiency?

India’s large population, rapid urbanization and expanding industrial production have led to exploitation of available limited natural resources with concerns regarding resource depletion and future availability becoming more pronounced.

Therefore, Enhancing resource efficiency (RE) and promoting the use of secondary raw materials (SRM) is a pertinent strategy to address these challenges and reduce dependence on primary resource.

Challenges before India:

According to data available, India’s resource extraction of 1580 tonnes/acre is much higher than the world average of 450 tonnes/acre, while material productivity remains low.

Water is fast becoming scarce while deteriorating air quality has emerged as a major threat to human life.

There has been massive soil degradation, with 147 million hectares (Mha) of a total of 329 Mha land area hit.

Import dependency is nearly 100% for the majority of the ‘most critical’ materials -cobalt, copper and lithium that find extensive application in high-end technology industry.

Over 80% of crude oil that is processed in the economy is imported, alongwith 85% of its coking coal demand. Extraction of non-metallic minerals is crippled with challenges.

To add to the problems, the country’s recycling rate is just about 20-25% compared with 70% in developing countries in Europe. The situation will only aggravate as India is likely to double its material consumption by 2030.

Strategy on Resource Efficiency:

NITI Aayog in collaboration with the European Union delegation to India have released the Strategy on Resource Efficiency. The strategy aims to promote resource efficiency in India.

This strategy is the first policy document to emphasize resource productivity in the country. The Strategy emphasizes on Sustainable Public Procurement (SSP) as an action agenda which will be the market transformation tool to transform to a resource efficient economy.

It is developed with the recommendations from the Indian Resource Efficiency Programme (IREP), launched by the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Indian Resource Panel (InRP) in April 2017.

India largest emitter of SO2 in world

In News:

India is the largest emitter of anthropogenic sulphur dioxide in the world, as per the data released by environmental NGO Greenpeace on August 19, 2019.

Anthropogenic sulphur dioxide is produced from burning of coal and it is known to largely contribute to air pollution.

Key findings:

SO2 hotspots across the world have been mapped.

The SO2 hotspots were detected by the OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) satellite.

India has over 15 percent of all anthropogenic sulphur dioxide (SO2) hotspots in the world.

The main SO2 hotspots in India include Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh, Korba in Chhattisgarh, Talcher and Jharsuguda in Odisha, Neyveli and Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Kutch in Gujarat, Ramagundam in Telangana and Chandrapur and Koradi in Maharashtra.

Norilsk smelter complex in Russia is the largest SO2 emission hotspot in the world, followed by Kriel in Mpumalanga province in South Africa and Zagroz in Iran.

How to control the SO2 emission?

SO2 emission is a significant contributor to air pollution and the largest source of SO2 in the atmosphere is burning of fossil fuels in power plants and other industrial facilities.

The primary reason for India’s high emission output is the expansion of coal-based electricity generation over the past decade.

India should take stricter action against coal power plants and should not give them a free to hand to continue polluting the atmosphere and cause a public health emergency.

Efforts in this regard:

The Environment Ministry had introduced SO2 emission limits for coal power plants in December 2015 and set the initial deadline to control SO2 emissions from power generation by December 2017.

The deadline was later extended till December 2019 after a request from the Ministry of Power and power plant operators in Delhi-NCR and till 2022 for some other power plants across the country through a Supreme Court order.

 

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