Insights Daily Current Events, 19 January 2016
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Easwar panel suggests friendlier direct tax laws
A committee set up by the government to change direct tax laws has suggested several taxpayer-friendly measures to improve the ease of doing business, reduce litigation and accelerate the resolution of tax disputes.
- The committee was headed by retired high court judge R.V. Easwar. It recently submitted its report to the centre.
- It has recommended simplifying provisions related to tax deducted at source (TDS), claims of expenditure for deduction from taxable income and for tax refunds.
- It proposed deferring the contentious Income Computation and Disclosure Standards (ICDS) provisions and making the process of refunds faster.
- The committee has asked the income-tax department to desist from the practice of adjusting tax demand of a taxpayer whose tax return is under assessment against legitimate refunds due.
- It has also proposed deletion of a clause that allows the tax department to delay the refund due to a taxpayer beyond six months and suggested a higher interest levy for all delays in refunds.
- The panel also proposed that stock trading gains of up to Rs.5 lakh will be treated as capital gains and not business income, a move that could encourage more retail investments in the stock market.
- It also sought to provide an exemption to non-residents not having a Permanent Account Number (PAN), but who furnish their Tax Identification Number (TIN), from the applicability of TDS at a higher rate.
- The committee also recommended that most of the processes of the income-tax department should be conducted electronically to minimize human interface. To this effect, it suggested that processes such as filing of tax returns, rectification of mistakes, appeal, refunds and any communication regarding scrutiny including notices, questions and documents sought should be done electronically.
- To make it easy for small businesses, the committee recommended that the eligibility criteria under the presumptive scheme be increased to Rs.2 crore from Rs.1 crore. It also recommended launching a similar scheme for professionals. The presumptive tax is levied on an estimated income and makes life (and work) easier for small businesses. Under the presumptive income scheme, such professionals or businesses will not need to maintain a book of accounts but just pay tax based on presumptive income calculations.
Some of these recommendations that require amendments to the income-tax act are likely to be a part of the Union budget to be presented shortly while some other changes in administrative procedure can be implemented through official notifications by the income tax department.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: awareness in the field of IT.
Govt to use technology to drive universal insurance schemes
The government is planning to use the expanded template of the revised crop insurance scheme to make its other insurance offer, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), tech-driven.
- The universal health cover programme is under review to reduce its premium requirement and wider coverage.
- Because of its high loss ratio, public sector insurance companies have been unable to procure reinsurance coverage.
- The performance of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, which the government has described as ‘a path-breaking scheme for farmers’ welfare’, is expected to provide guidance on how high-tech content can make a difference.
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY):
RSBY was launched to provide health insurance coverage for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.
- Beneficiaries under RSBY are entitled to hospitalization coverage up to Rs. 30,000/- for most of the diseases that require hospitalization.
- Government has even fixed the package rates for the hospitals for a large number of interventions.
- Pre-existing conditions are covered from day one and there is no age limit.
- Coverage extends to five members of the family, which includes the head of household, spouse and up to three dependents.
- Beneficiaries need to pay only Rs. 30/- as registration fee while Central and State Government pays the premium to the insurer selected by the State Government on the basis of a competitive bidding.
How RSBY is different from other schemes?
- Empowering the beneficiary – RSBY provides the participating BPL household with freedom of choice between public and private hospitals and makes him a potential client worth attracting on account of the significant revenues that hospitals stand to earn through the scheme.
- Business Model for all Stakeholders – The scheme has been designed as a business model for a social sector scheme with incentives built for each stakeholder.
- Hospitals – A hospital has the incentive to provide treatment to large number of beneficiaries as it is paid per beneficiary treated.
- Intermediaries – The inclusion of intermediaries such as NGOs and MFIs which have a greater stake in assisting BPL households.
- Safe and foolproof – The use of biometric enabled smart card and a key management system makes this scheme safe and foolproof. The key management system of RSBY ensures that the card reaches the correct beneficiary and there remains accountability in terms of issuance of the smart card and its usage. The biometric enabled smart card ensures that only the real beneficiary can use the smart card.
- Portability – The key feature of RSBY is that a beneficiary who has been enrolled in a particular district will be able to use his/ her smart card in any RSBY empanelled hospital across India. This makes the scheme truly unique and beneficial to the poor families that migrate from one place to the other. Cards can also be split for migrant workers to carry a share of the coverage with them separately.
- Cash less and Paperless transactions – A beneficiary of RSBY gets cashless benefit in any of the empanelled hospitals. He/ she only needs to carry his/ her smart card and provide.
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
Sikkim becomes the first fully organic state of India
Sikkim is now officially the first fully organic state of India. With a population of around six lakhs, the state also known as the Land of Flower, will now be known for its Organic initiative too.
- This announcement was made by Prime Minister Modi during his recent visit to the state.
- Over the years around 75000 hectares of land in the state has been converted into certified organic farms following the guidelines as prescribed by National Programme for Organic Production.
- Within 1.24 million tonnes of organic production in the country around 80000 million is supplied by Sikkim alone.
- With this, Sikkim now joins hands with the organic states of the foreign countries like California, Wisconsin among others.
Organic cultivation doesn’t involve the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and thus helps to maintain a harmonious balance among the various complex ecosystems. Also it has improved the quality of the soil which further improves the standards of the crops produced there. In the long term, organic farming leads in subsistence of agriculture, bio-diversity conservation and environmental protection. It will also help in building the soil health resulting in sustainable increased crop production.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure-energy.
Increase in renewable energy use to boost global GDP by $1.3 trillion
According to a recently released report, a 36% share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 would increase global gross domestic product by nearly $1.3 trillion, generating millions of jobs and helping countries like India dependent on importing oil and gas.
- The report is titled- ‘Renewable Energy Benefits: Measuring the Economics’. The report was released during the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) sixth assembly session held recently at Abu Dhabi.
- This report provides the first global estimate of the macroeconomic impacts of renewable energy deployment.
Highlights of the report:
- Specifically, the report highlights the benefits that would be achieved under the scenario of doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030 from 2010 levels.
- Beyond finding that global GDP in 2030 would increase by up to $1.3 trillion — more than the combined economies of Chile, South Africa and Switzerland as of today — the report also analyses country-specific impact.
- According to the report, Japan would see the largest positive GDP impact (2.3%) but Australia, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea would also see growth of more than 1%.
- According to the report, improvements in human welfare would go well beyond gains in GDP thanks to a range of social and environmental benefits. The impact of renewable energy deployment on welfare is estimated to be three to four times larger than its impact on GDP, with global welfare increasing as much as 3.7%.
- The report also notes that employment in the renewable energy sector would also increase from 9.2 million global jobs today, to more than 24 million by 2030.
sources: the hindu.