CAG data on Pension bills for centre and states
(GS-III: Indian Economy)
As per the latest data by CAG (titled ‘Union and State Finances at A Glance’ for 2019-20), expenditure on the pension has emerged as one of the major components of the Committed Expenditure of the Centre and states in recent years.
Committed expenditure on revenue account mainly consisted of interest payments, expenditure on salaries, pensions and subsidies.
If the Committed Expenditure is higher, it means that the government has lesser flexibility to determine the purpose for which revenue expenditure is to be incurred.
What does the report say:
Expenditure on the ‘salary and wages’ of the Centre and three states – including Gujarat, Karnataka and West Bengal – during 2019-20.
The Centre’s total Committed Expenditure accounted for 37 per cent of its total revenue expenditure of Rs 26.15 lakh crore in 2019-20
Centre’s pension bill was 132 per cent of its expenditure on salary and wages in 2019-20.
FRBM Act (2003):
Aim: To make the Central government responsible for ensuring inter-generational equityin fiscal management and long-term macroeconomic stability.
Fiscal Limits: The Act envisages the setting of limits on the Central and state government’s debt and deficits.
The States have since enacted their own respective Financial Responsibility Legislation, which sets the same 3% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) cap on their annual budget deficits.
The NK Singh committee(set up in 2016) recommendation: The debt to GDP ratio should be 7% for the central government, and 20% for the state governments together by the FY 2022 – 23. Fiscal deficit: By FY 2022 – 23, the fiscal deficit should be 5% of GDP.
The recent political move of going back to the old pension scheme by some of the state governments such as Jharkhand, and Himachal Pradesh may aggravate the fiscal imbalance of the states.
The Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
(GS-III: Indian Economy and related issues)
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has extended the deadline for platforms using UPI to meet its 30% market share cap by two years.
The NPCI’s market cap rules limit any single payments app from processing more than 30% of UPI transactions in a month.
About Unified Payments Interface (UPI):
UPI is a technology that consolidates various bank accounts into a single mobile app (of any participating bank) –
It was launched by the NPCI in 2016 in conjunction with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Indian Banks Association (IBA).
Performance of UPI:
The UPI transaction value for the month of October (2022) touched a new high at Rs 12.11 lakh crore, with the transaction count touching 7.3 billion.
According to the RBI’s Payment Vision 2025, UPI is expected to register an average annualised growth of 50%.
Why this extension? Taking into account the current usage and future potential of UPI, other existing and new participants (banks and non-banks) have adequate time to upscale their consumer outreach for the growth of UPI and achieve overall market equilibrium.
Impact of this move:
The 30% limit will deny UPI payment services to millions of Indians, undermining the spectacular development narrative of Indian digital payments.
It recognizes that existing and new UPI firms must commit more time, effort, and money to expand their own UPI market share.
Who will benefit and who will suffer?
Sufferers: PhonePe and Google Pay, which currently command a majority (80%) of the UPI market share.
Beneficiaries: Paytm (market – 15%), WhatsApp Pay and other market players.
It is an umbrella organisation incorporated in 2008 as a “Not for Profit” Company under the Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of the Companies Act 2013).
It is an initiative of RBI and IBA under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating infrastructure for the entire Banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems.
Intergovernmental meeting to end plastic pollution concludes
(GS-III: Environment Conservation)
The first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1) concluded in Uruguay.
The INC-1 was convened and managed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The INC-1 came after a landmark resolution was endorsed at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), calling for the international legally binding instrument to promote sustainable production and consumption of plastics.
According to the OECD, global plastic production was 460 million tonnes (Mt) in 2019 (234 Mt in 2000) and during the same period, plastic waste doubled to 353 Mt from 156 Mt.
Extracts from the outcome document titled “Summary of plastic pollution science”:
Recognised the links between plastic, human health and environmental health.
Endorsed the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)’s position that plastic pollution is rooted in the material’s life cycle – an offshoot of the linear take-make-dispose economy.
Current trends need to be replaced by a circular economy (CE) – a model of production and consumption, which involves reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible.
4 strategic goals that can guide the transition to a circular economy:
Plastic Waste in India:
The majority of plastic used in India today is for packaging and its production (the majority of which is single-use that may or may not be recyclable) is increasing each year.
According to the Union Minister of Environment, over 34 lakh tonnes of plastic waste were generated in India in 2019-20, which has doubled in the last 5 years.
As a result, the government has notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, which for the first time provided for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
Under this, producers, importers and brand owners have been made responsible for collecting waste generated by their products.
What more needs to be done to tackle plastic pollution in the country?
National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)
Hansraj Ahir assumes charge as NCBC chairperson.
Following the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018, NCBC became a constitutional body, established under Article 338B of the Indian Constitution.
The commission was the outcome of the Indra Sawhney case (1992) and was a statutory body.