India reached 6th position in terms of scientific publications

Department of Science and Technology on 21 May 2015 said that India reached sixth position in terms of scientific publications. Earlier, India stood at the tenth position in terms of publishing scientific research papers in different journals.

Secretary, Department of Science and Technology Ashutosh Sharma gave this information at a function organised by Research Council UK (RCUK) in New Delhi to mark the progress between United Kingdom and India in the field of scientific research.

At present, India and UK are collaborating in various sectors in fields like nuclear energy, solar energy, monsoon and public health, rejuvenation of Ganga River and climate change. In 2011, the scientific collaboration between India and UK was just few million pounds, which has risen to 150 million pounds, at present.

Source: JagranJosh

India ranks 24th in Environmental Democracy Index

India has ranked 24th out of 70 countries in the first Environmental Democracy Index (EDI). The index was recently released by Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) and Access Initiative. In the first edition of this index, Lithuania has topped among the 70 countries.

Top ten countries are: Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, United States, South Africa, United Kingdom, Hungary, Bulgaria, Panama and Colombia.

Key facts from EDI report

  • Right to environmental information has been established in the 93 per cent of the assessed countries.
  • However, many nations lag on providing citizens basic environmental information i.e. around 79 per cent of assessed countries have earned only fair or poor ratings for public participation.
  • Nearly half or around 46 per cent of assessed countries do not provide any ambient air quality data online for their capital cities.
  • In 73 per cent of the countries, courts or their judiciary hear environmental cases. Only 14 per cent of the countries assessed have legal mechanisms that help women to access courts in order to obtain redress when their environmental rights are violated.

About Environmental Democracy Index (EDI)

  • EDI evaluates progress of countries in enacting laws in order to promote citizen engagement and accountability, transparency in environmental decision-making.
  • The index evaluates countries based on recognised international standards including 75 legal and 24 practice indicators.

    Source: http://currentaffairs.gktoday.in/

Union Government relaxes FDI norms for NRIs, PIOs, OCI

Union Government has decided to amend Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms for NRIs, Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) to increase capital flows into the country. Decision in this regard was taken at Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. In order to comply with this decision government will amend FDI policy on investments by NRIs, PIOs & OCIs which will give them parity in economy and education. Now non-repatriable investments of NRIs, PIOs & OCIs under under Schedule 4 of FEMA regulations will considered as domestic investment. The amendments will lead to greater foreign exchange remittances and investment in the country. Previous decisions taken NDA government on FDI are FDI in Railway infrastructure sector has been opened to 100 per cent FDI under automatic route. FDI limit in the insurance sector has been increased to 49 per cent. Sectoral cap for FDI in defence sector has been raised to 49 per cent.

Source: http://currentaffairs.gktoday.in

GST bill

What?

The Goods and Service Tax Bill or GST Bill, officially known as The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014, would be a Value added Tax (VAT) to be implemented in India, from April 2016. GST stands for “Goods and Services Tax”, and is proposed to be a comprehensive indirect tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at the national level. It will replace all indirect taxes levied on goods and services by the Indian Central and State governments. It is aimed at being comprehensive for most goods and services.

How will the goods and sevices  tax (GST) work in India? How is it any different than the value added tax (VAT)?

The GST framework could easily be one of the most important tax reforms to be tabled for discussion in the parliament. It does bring with it some problems, like division of taxation powers between the central government and states. Not surprisingly, the Finance ministry has already missed three of its deadlines to come out with an acceptable framework. In fact, most of the proposals aren’t even in the beta stage yet. But, most administrators and more importantly, producers believe it would make the tax procedures more fair, transparent and efficient.

An ideal tax system collects taxes at various stages of production, supply and retail. It is based on the value that the producers, suppliers and retailers individually add to the product. However, the current tax regime is unfairly skewed against most producers. Let’s outline and simplify the current system of taxes to see how it operates:

Assume there is a soap manufacturer that procures raw materials at 500 lakhs per batch. The manufacturer keeps his operating profits at 100 lakhs and encumbers a processing cost of 50 lakhs. The flow would look something like this:

If we calculate the total tax that the producer has to pay in this case, it would be 120 lakhs (50 lakhs on procurement and 70 lakhs on sales). Now if you have a GST framework in place, the total tax that the producer pays is 70 lakhs.

How?

The producer had initially paid an input tax of 50 lakhs. Now when he goes on to sell his batch for 700 lakhs, he gets a tax credit of 50 lakhs. Thus, he pays 20 lakhs in the form of taxes for the final transaction. This adds up to just 70 lakhs for the producer. The GST hence, reduces the tax burden on producers. The biggest benefit of such a system is that it would contain various indirect taxes currently levied on various participants in the supply chain. Reducing such taxes would lower the overall production cost and  increase the output of the economy in the long run.

That sounds great, but, why GST when we already have VAT? Isn’t the VAT framework similar to that of GST? VAT regulations and rates generally vary across states. There is a tendency, as has been observed, that states may resort to undercutting of rates to attract more investors. This generally leads to a loss of revenue to both the state and centre. GST would introduce uniform taxation laws across states and different sectors. The taxes would be divided between the state and centre, based on a formula that would be acceptable to both. Also, it would be easier to supply goods and services uniformly across the country, as no additional taxes would have to be paid across different states. Currently, no tax credits are provided for interstate transactions.

So do we as consumers get goods at a cheaper price? Probably not, and it is here that the GST has been attacked by the opposition. Since taxes are distributed across the chain, the consumer prices are likely to rise to maintain the current tax revenue levels. The government has justified this by saying it would provide tax cuts across various brackets. This isn’t entirely satisfactory. First, the tax paying population isn’t too significant a number to begin with and second, the tax payer is likely to get a meager tax cut for the GST he would pay for all the goods or services he purchases.

GST is clearly a long term strategy, it would lead to a higher output, more employment opportunities, and economic inclusion. Initially howeverit is likely cause high inflation rates, administrative costs, and face stiff oppositions from states due to loss of autonomy.

Sources:

  • http://www.gstindia.com/how-different-is-current-gst-bill-from-its-2011-version-2/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goods_and_Services_Tax_%28India%29_Bill
  • http://www.quora.com/How-will-the-goods-and-sevices-tax-GST-work-in-India-How-is-it-any-different-than-the-value-added-tax-VAT

M J Joseph appointed as Controller General of Accounts

M J Joseph has been appointed as the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) by Union Ministry of Finance. He will succeed Jawahar Thakur, who was recently appointed as OSD (Accounting Reforms) in the office of CGA.

Joseph is a 1979 batch Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS) officer. Prior to this appointment he was Director General (DG) of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). He also had  served in various administrative capacities in Union Government including Additional Secretary in Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs,  Joint Secretary and Financial Advisor in the President Secretariat and Director in Defence Ministry. He also had worked with the International Monitory Fund (IMF) as a Public Financial Management Adviser in Tanzania.

Controller General of Accounts (CGA)

  • CGA is the principal Accounts Adviser to the Union Government. He is responsible for maintaining and establishing a technically sound management accounting system.
  • Every month he prepares a critical analysis of revenues, expenditures, borrowings and the deficit for Union Finance Minister.
  • He also prepares annual Union Finance Accounts and Appropriation Accounts (Civil) for presentation to the Parliament.

Source: www.cga.nic.in