Current Affairs - PIB News

India 3rd-Largest Economy On PPP Basis For 2017

  • India has retained its position as the third-largest economy after China and the US in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) for 2017, according to a government release that quoted the World Bank data.
  • India is also third-largest economy in terms of its PPP-based share in global actual individual consumption and global gross capital formation.
  • The World Bank has released new PPPs for the reference year 2017, under the International Comparison Program (ICP) that adjust for differences in the cost of living across economies of the world.
  • The ICP is the largest worldwide data collection initiative, under the guidance of UN Statistical Commission (UNSC), with the goal of producing PPPs, which are vital for converting measures of economic activities to be comparable across economies.

Regional Position of India

  • As per the release, in 2017, India retained its regional position, as the second-largest economy, accounted for 20.83 per cent of the regional gross domestic product (GDP) in terms of PPPwhereas China was at 50.76 per cent (first) and Indonesia at 7.49 per cent (third).
  • India is also the second-largest economy in terms of its PPP-based share in regional actual individual consumption and regional gross capital formation.

15th Finance Commission Grant To Local Bodies

  • The Fifteenth Finance Commissionhas submitted its interim report for the period FY 2020-21 and the Government of India has accepted its recommendations in respect of the Local Bodies.
  • The Commission has worked out the total size of the grant to be Rs.60,750 crore for the period FY 2020-21 which is the highest ever allocation made by the Finance Commission in any single year.
  • The Commission has recommended Grants-in-aid to all tiers of the Panchayati Raj including the Traditional Bodies of Fifth and Sixth Schedule areas, in 28 States, in two parts, namely, (i) a Basic Grant and (ii) a Tied Grant.
  • 50 % of the grant will be Basic Grant and 50 % will be the Tied Grant. The basic grants are untied and can be used by RLBs for location-specific felt needs, except for salary or other establishment expenditure.
  • The Tied Grants are to be used for the basic services of (a) sanitation and maintenance of open-defecation free (ODF) status and (b) supply of drinking water, rain water harvesting and water recycling. The RLBs shall, as far as possible, earmark one half of these Tied Grants each to these two critical services. However, if any RLB has fully saturated the needs of one category it can utilize the funds for the other category.

Border Adjustment Tax

  • Niti Aayog member VK Saraswat recently favoured imposing a border adjustment tax (BAT) on imports to provide a level-playing field to domestic industries.
  • BAT is a duty that is proposed to be imposed on imported goods in addition to the customs levy that gets charged at the port of entry.
  • The Indian industry has been complaining to the government about domestic taxes like electricity duty, duties on fuel, clean energy cess, mandi tax, royalties, biodiversity fees that get charged on domestically produced goods as these duties get embedded into the product. But many imported goods do not get loaded with such levies in their respective country of origin and this gives such products price advantage in the Indian market.

Will a Border Adjustment Tax be WTO Compatible?

  • Countries that are members of World Trade Organisation have locked the upper limits of customs levies for product lines that they trade in. Any additional duty that gets imposed by WTO members are scoffed upon and in many instances, extra customs duties led to countries being dragged to international arbitration under WTO.
  • India’s Commerce Ministry believes that the proposed extra customs duty through the BAT is compatible with global trade norms as article II: 2(a) of GATT allows for import charge that is equal to the internal tax of the country with respect to a “Like Product” or an item from which the imported product is made.

Import Duty On Bamboo Sticks Increased From 10% To 25%

  • The Central Government has increased import duty on bamboo sticks from 10% to 25%.
  • The decision assumes great significance as heavy import of bamboo sticks from China and Vietnam caused huge employment loss in India. This decision will pave the way for setting up of new agarbatti stick manufacturing units to meet the ever-growing demand of Agarbatti in India.
  • While 136 varieties of bamboo are found in India; the BambusaTulda variety, which is used for making agarbatti sticks, is found in abundance in the North eastern region.
  • The KVIC has also launched a bamboo plantation drive to make India self-sufficient to meet the growing demand of bamboo in the next 3-4 years.

Waterfall Mechanism For Liquidation

  • The waterfall mechanism under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code gives priority to secured financial creditors over unsecured financial creditors.
  • The mechanism says that if a company is being liquidated, these secured financial creditors must be first paid the full extent of their admitted claim, before any sale proceedings are distributed to any other unsecured creditor.
  • Under Section 53 of the IBC, which deals with waterfall mechanism, the top most priority, however, is given to costs related to the liquidation process and dues of workmen of the corporate debtor. The dues of the workmen include all their salaries, provident, pension, retirement and gratuity fund, as well as any other funds maintained for the welfare of the workmen.

Payment Infrastructure Development Fund

  • To encourage acquirers to deploy point of sale (PoS) infrastructure, both physical and digital, in tier-3 to tier-6 centres and north eastern states, the Reserve Bank of India is setting up a Payment Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) of Rs 500 crore.
  • The RBI has made an initial contribution of Rs 250 crore covering half the fund. The remaining will come from the card issuing banks and card networks operating in the country.

70th Anniversary Of Korean War

  • After theend of the second World War, Korea was divided into two parts.The Soviet Union occupied the area north of the 38th parallel and the United States occupied the area south until 1948.
  • Two new ideologically opposite countries were established in 1948: The Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).
  • The Korean War broke out between North Korea and South Korea on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea.
  • Although hostilities ceased in 1953, there has never been a peace treaty, so technically, the Korean War has never ended.
  • North Korea wants reunification under communist rule.

Socotra Island Seized By STC

  • Yemen's Southern Transitional Council (STC) fighters have seized control of the strategic island of Socotra, which had been in the hands of pro-government forces, and have begun implementing self-rule.
  • The move deepens the crisis between the STC and the government after the failure of a power-sharing deal in areas beyond the control of Huthi rebels, who hold the capital Sanaa and much of northern Yemen.
  • The island of Socotra is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the largest island in an archipelago chain located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aden.
  • Socotra, sometimes referred to as the “Galapagos” of the Indian Ocean, is famed worldwide for its beauty and its incredible biodiversity. 

US Sanctions Against ICC

  • US Presidenthas authorised sanctions against International Criminal Court (ICC) officials involved in investigations into possible war crimes by US troops or those of its allies.
  • The ICC, a permanent judicial body based at The Hague in the Netherlands, was created by the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (its founding and governing document), and began functioning on 1 July 2002 when the Statute came into force.
  • The forum was established as a court of last resort to prosecute offences that would otherwise go unpunished, and has jurisdiction over four main crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
  • 123 nations are States Parties to the Rome Statute and recognise the ICC’s authority; the notable exceptions being the US, China, Russia, and India.
  • Unlike the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the ICC is not a part of the United Nations system, with the UN-ICC relationship being governed by a separate agreement. The ICJ, which is among the UN’s 6 principal organs, mainly hears disputes between nations. The ICC, on the other hand, prosecutes individuals– its authority extending to offences committed in a member state or by a national of such a state.

Washington and the ICC

  • The Clinton administration (1993-2001) was involved in Rome Statute negotiations, and signed the document in 2000. However, the next president, George W. Bush in 2002 had the US “unsign” the Statute and signed into law the American Service-Members’ Protection Act to protect US nationals from the ICC’s reach.

Afghan Government-Taliban Peace Meet

  • The Afghan government and Taliban have announced that the first peace talks between the two sides will take place in the Qatari capital of Doha, where the militant group has its political office and had signed a long-awaited peace agreement with the US on February 29.
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