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Economy Current Affairs August 3rd Week 2017
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Economy Current Affairs August 3rd Week 2017

1. GST: LPG, Jewellery, Currency Among Common Use Items Exempt From E-Way Bill Provision.

 
LPG, kerosene, jewellery and currency are among the common use items that have been 
exempted from the requirement of obtaining electronic permits for transportation under the GST (Goods and Services Tax) regime. Rolled out from July 1, the new indirect tax regime mandates obtaining permits called e-way bills for transporting goods consignments of more than Rs. 50,000 in value with a view to check tax evasion. A senior Finance Ministry official said the GST Council 
in its last meeting on August 5 approved a list of 153 items that have been exempted from the requirement of obtaining e-way bills.

These include domesticated animals like live bovine animals, swine and fish, fruits and vegetables, fresh milk, honey, seeds, cereals and flour.

Also exempted is movement of betel leaves, non-alcoholic toddy, raw silk, khadi, earthen pot and clay lamps, `puja samagri` and hearing aids.Human hair, semen including frozen semen, condoms and contraceptives have also been exempted.

The official said cooking gas (LPG) for supply to households and kerosene for sale under the public distribution system (PDS) too have been exempted from the requirement of getting the consignment registered online before moving them.On the exempt list is also postal baggage as also currency, jewellery and used personal and household effects, he said.

The e-way bill is also not required if goods are transported by non-motorised conveyances. Goods transported from international ports to hinterland ports for clearance by customs have been exempted from the requirement.The electronic permit would have to be generated when consignment value exceeds Rs. 50,000 and is optional if the value is less than that.

The provision would kick-in from a date to be notified by the central government after the backbone software for generating such permits is ready by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), which is likely by October.Such a permit has to detail the goods being transported, the mode used, origin and destination besides details of the supplier, recipient and transporter.The official said there is no need of conveyance details when the distance of transport is less than 10 km within a state.

The e-way bills, which can be checked by designated tax officials by intercepting a transporting vehicle, are aimed at helping authorities keep track of goods and inter-state commerce.

This is particularly useful when most states have dismantled border check posts that operated under the previous indirect tax administrations, thereby reducing the time needed for the movement of goods across states.
 
2. Over 10,000 Employees To Be Redeployed As SBI Trims Staff.
Over 10,000 Employees To Be Redeployed As SBI Trims Staff
Five of State Bank of India or SBI’s associate banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank became part of the country`s largest bank beginning 1 April. That pushed SBI in the ranks of the top 50 banks in the world. Following the merger, the total customer base of SBI increased to 37 crore with a branch network of around 24,000. In a bid to rationalise personnel costs, the combined entity has reduced its workforce by 6,622 in the quarter, owing partly to its Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) and retirements. The bank also said that about 10,600 employees from its administrative offices and branches will be redeployed in other roles.

"Manpower will go down with the period of time. Around 10 per cent reduction in two years may be a possibility," SBI managing director Rajnish Kumar told news agency Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) in an interview.

He said there would be some actual reduction in headcount along with re-assignment of the roles, but ruled out lay-offs.

"We have offered voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), there would be natural attritions and every year we may not replace head by head (replacement recruitment). Manpower will also reduce as a result of digital initiatives. There will be a combined effect," he added.
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SBI said that it will redeploy 2,000 employees from its administrative offices. From its branches, 8,616 employees will be redeployed, of which 30 per cent would be reassigned to sales functions. So far, SBI has merged 594 branches and rationalised 122 administrative offices. This in itself is expected to result in savings of over 

Rs. 1,160 crore annually. SBI has said it expects to complete the branch merger target by the end of September.
It also said that 3,569 of its employees opted for its Voluntary Retirement Scheme in the quarter for which the company paid Rs. 473.4 crore and the scheme would result in savings of Rs. 400 crore annually. Owing to the measures to trim expenses, SBI has cut down staff expenses by 13.3 per cent in the first quarter of this financial year compared to the fourth quarter of 2016-17.

The five associates that were merged are State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBBJ), State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH), State Bank of Mysore (SBM), State Bank of Patiala (SBP) and State Bank of Travancore (SBT). The bank announced its combined results for the first quarter of 2017-18 last week, reporting a consolidated net profit of Rs. 3,105.35 crore.
 
3. Union Cabinet approved raising of over 9000 crores through NABARD for Completing Irrigation Project.
Union Cabinet approved raising of over 9000 crores through NABARD for Completing Irrigation Project 
The Union Cabinet has approved raising extra budgetary resources up to 9,020 crore rupees for Long Term Irrigation Fund in 2017-18. 

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, the amount will be raised by NABARD through Bonds. 

The Fund seeks to make loans from NABARD attractive for states by ensuring lending rate of 6 per cent per annum. 

The loans are for implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme works of 99 ongoing prioritised irrigation projects under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana.

The completion of projects will generate immediate wage and other employment opportunities during the construction phase. 

The utilisation of irrigation potential of 76 lakh hectares is expected to transform the agriculture sector in the region resulting in more employment opportunities.
 
4. State Bank of India gives Leg-up to CSR Initiatives.
State Bank of India gives Leg-up to CSR Initiatives 
The nation`s largest lender State Bank of India on Monday launched a CSR initiative, SBI Gram Seva, which will work in the areas of health, education, environment and rural infrastructure.

The SBI Foundation will identify and partner with NGOs to carry out CSR initiatives under which it adopt five villages each from 10 village panchayats with each village getting around Rs 2.40 crore over the next three years.

"The reason why we undertook this initiative is threefold. One is to ensure it is holistic, sustainable and we want to ensure that we do it in collaboration," chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya told reporters.

Initially, 10-gram panchayats comprising of 50 villages in six states have been adopted, she said, added the banks plan to adopt 100-gram panchayats in the next three years. 

5. Union Government inks Global Environment Facility Grant Agreement with World Bank.

Union Government inks Global Environment Facility Grant Agreement with World Bank
The Union Government has inked US $24.64 million Grant Agreement from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the World Bank for Ecosystem Service Improvement Project. 

The Project will be entirely financed by the World Bank out of its GEF Trust Fund. The project’s duration is of five years. 

Ecosystem Service Improvement Project 

The project will be implemented by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh through Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE) under the National Green India Mission (GIM).

The objective of the Project is to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Community Organisations and Departments of Forestry to enhance forest ecosystem services and improve the livelihoods of forest dependent communities in Central Indian Highlands. 

Global Environment Facility (GEF)
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GEF is a multilateral financial mechanism that provides grants to developing countries for projects that benefit the global environment and promote sustainable livelihoods in local communities. Projects under it address six designated focal areas: biodiversity, international waters, climate change, ozone depletion, land degradation and Persistent Organic Pollutants. It was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

National Mission for Green India (GIM) 

GIM is one of the eight key Missions outlined under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). It aims at protecting, enhancing and restoring India’s decreasing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of mitigation and adaptation measures. 

The mission acknowledges the influence forests on environmental amelioration through climate change mitigation, water security, food security, biodiversity conservation and livelihood security of forest-dependent communities. It hinges on decentralized participatory approach by involving grass root level communities and organizations in decision making, planning, implementation and monitoring.
 
6. Cabinet approves aising Rs. 9020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund.
Cabinet approves aising Rs. 9020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund
The Union Cabinet gave its approval for raising Extra Budgetary Resources of up to Rs, 9,020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) during the financial year 2017-18. 

The funds will be raised by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) through the issuance of Bonds at 6% per annum as per requirement.

Utilization of Funds 
The LTIF will be for the implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) works of 99 ongoing prioritised irrigation projects along with their command area development (CAD) works under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).

Background 
Large number of major and medium irrigation projects taken up under the AIBP were languishing mainly due to inadequate provision of funds. To cater to the large fund requirement and ensure completion of these projects, the Union Finance Minister in his Budget speech 2016-17, had announced creation of dedicated LTIF in NABARD with an initial corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore for funding identified ongoing projects under PMKSY (AIBP and CAD). The corpus of LTIF was to be raised through budgetary resources and market borrowings to fast track implementation of incomplete major & medium irrigation projects. 

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) 

 

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PMKSY has been formulated amalgamating ongoing schemes viz. AIBP, Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) and On Farm Water Management (OFWM) component of National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA). It is implemented by Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development.

Objectives of PMKSY: (i) Achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level, (ii) Expand cultivable area under assured irrigation (har khet ko pani), (iii) Enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop), (iv) Improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water, (v) Enhance recharge of aquifers and (vi) Introduce sustainable water conservation practices.
 
7. As many as 4,284 industrial units in the North East and Himalayan States will get GST relief in the form of refund of Central share of CGST and iGST.
As many as 4,284 industrial units in the North East and Himalayan States will get GST relief in the form of refund of Central share of CGST and iGST
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday gave its nod for a new scheme to refund the Central share of Central GST (CGST) and integratedGST (iGST) to these units in lieu of the excise exemption lost due to the onset of goods and services tax (GST) and scrapping of excise laws from July 1 this year.

A budgetary support of 27,413 crore for this scheme has been approved for the period from July 1, 2017 till March 31, 2027, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters here after a Cabinet meeting. He said the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) will notify the scheme, including detailed operational guidelines for implementation within six weeks.

The 4,284 eligible industrial units were granted excise duty exemption for the first 10 years after commencement of commercial production under the North East 
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Industrial and Investment Promotion (NEIIPP) 2007 and package for special category States for Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to promote industrialisation.

“Upon repeal of the Central excise duty laws, the government has decided to refund the Central share of CGST and iGST to the affected industrial units for the residual period in the States of North Eastern region and Himalayan States,” Jaitley said.

Under the scheme, if the Centre collects, say, 100 in the form of CGST and iGST, then the aggregate refund will only be 58, that being the Centre’s share under the devolution formula approved by the Finance Commission, he said.

MS Mani, Partner-GST, Deloitte in India, welcomed the decision to refund GST to units in exempted zones enjoying excise exemption.

“It is now expected that the few States that have granted VAT exemption would also announce the manner and methodology for refund of the SGST component of the GST paid,” he told BusinessLine.

For all FMCG manufacturers who enjoyed excise and VAT exemption in the past, GST introduction has led to multiple challenges in terms of product pricing, raw material sourcing, adherence to anti-profiteering requirements etc.

“These are matters that have a significant bearing on their profitability and market share and, hence, such units would be expecting a comprehensive declaration of the policies governing exemptions – both Centre and State,” Mani said.
 
8. Union Government Bans Export of Gold Items Above 22-Carat Purity.
Union Government Bans Export of Gold Items Above 22-Carat Purity
In a move that has evinced mixed responses from the domestic jewellery manufacturing industry, export of gold ornaments, medallions or any other articles beyond 22 carat purity has been banned.

In a notification issued Monday evening, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), said, "The Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 has been amended to allow the export of gold jewellery (plain or studded) and articles containing gold of eight carats and above, up to a maximum limit of 22 carats only from domestic tariff area and export oriented units (EOU) or any such privileges facilities."

This means export of jewellery or medallions with gold content beyond 22 carats has been banned with immediate effect. The government`s decision, however, has received mix responses, with one group of jewellers seeing it as a major blow, and another saying it would have a `negligible` impact, since the demand for pure gold jewellery is minuscule globally.

"We had written to the Ministry of Finance about eight months ago, highlighting the round tripping of gold coin and medallion imports and their subsequent export after a minimal value additions. There is hardly any room for value addition in 23- and 24-carat gold jewellery and medallions through imported gold coins. Hence, the government`s current decision would restrict round tripping of gold which many jewellers were engaged in," said Surendra Mehta, National Secretary, India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA), the premier industry body representing over lakhs of jewellers and bullion dealers across the country.
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According to an industry estimate, India exports around 170 tonnes of jewellery and medallions made of, or studded with, gold. Ornaments made of 24-carat gold contribute nearly 15 per cent of this. Many jewellers were importing gold coins in the pure form and shipping out of India after converting them into jewellery with minor value addition.

Rajesh Mehta, managing director of Rajesh Exports, one of India`s largest gold jewellery manufacturers and exporters, says "There is a need to ban import of gold at `nil` duty under the free trade agreement (FTA) from South Korea. Instead of banning import, the government has banned exports of pure gold jewellery and medallions. 

This will certainly reduce foreign exchange earnings and employment generation at the jewellery fabrication level."

Indian bullion dealers have imported over two tonnes of gold jewellery and medallions at `nil` import duty from South Korea, trade sources said.

Thy added that that Indian jewellers were exporting pure gold jewellery  all around the world primarily to Dubai, China, Italy, the United States and the European Union.

A senior official with the apex export promotion body under the Ministry of Commerce, Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), said, "The government`s decision to ban exports of gold jewellery and medallions would have no impact on India`s gold jewellery exports, as there is low demand for such ornaments in global markets."

According to data compiled by GJEPC, India`s export of gold medallions and coins rose 2.85 per cent to $5,408.71 million during 2016-17 from $5,258.96 million the previous financial year. In rupee terms, however, India`s export of gold medallions and coins reported a surge of 5.31 per cent to Rs 36,243.75 crore for the financial year 2016-17 from Rs 34,417.25 crore the previous financial year.
 
9. Karur Vysya Bank inaugurates AADHAAR enrolment centre in Chennai.
 Karur Vysya Bank inaugurates AADHAAR enrolment centre in Chennai
Karur Vysya Bank today unveiled the Aadhaar Enrolment Centre here following UIDAI’s directive last month.

The Unique Identification Authority of India had advised commercial banks to provide Aadhaar enrolment and updation facility at various branches in its July 13 notification.

Karur Vysya Bank identified the branches and and ensured early implementation of the service. KVB is the first private sector bank to provide this service in the country, the bank said in a release.

Unique Identification Authority of India, Assistant Director General, D M Gajare inaugurated the first Enrolment Centre at the Nelson Manickam Road branch at a function here.

Customers need to bring in the approved documents as proof of residence and identity. The process of enrolment or updating the details in AADHAAR can be completed in about 15 minutes, the release said.

Karur Vysya Bank planned to expand the service to 75 more branches across the country, the release added.
 
10. Reserve Bank of India to shortly issue new Rs 50 currency note.
Reserve Bank of India to shortly issue new Rs 50 currency note 
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in December last year had said that it would issue new currency notes of Rs 50 and Rs 20 denominations with numerals in ascending size in the number panels and without intaglio printing. Eight months later, pictures of the yet-to-be-unveiled notes of Rs 50 denomination are out on social media. The notes are paled turquoise in colour, quite different from the notes of the same denomination that are currently in circulation. They are in the Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005 and will bear the signature of current RBI Governor Urjit Patel.

In December, the central bank had said, “The Reserve Bank will shortly issue Rs 50 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005, without inset letter in both the number panels, bearing signature of Dr Urjit R Patel, Governor, Reserve Bank of India, and the year of printing ‘2016’ printed on the reverse of the banknote.” The bank said that the design and security features of the new notes will be similar to the old tender, which will continue in circulation. Also Read: Yes, RBI will shortly issue new Rs 50 currency note A government official told The Hindu Business Line that the new notes will sport the motif of a South Indian temple on the reverse, although indianexpress.com could not independently confirm the same.
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After the government, in a sudden move, withdrew old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 on the night of November 8 last year, the RBI introduced new notes of Rs 500 (stone-grey in colour) and Rs 2000 (purple in colour) in order to refill the circulation. The demonetisation exercise, that withdrew almost 86 of the currency in circulation, was carried out by the Centre in order to cut down on corruption, root out counterfeit currency and eliminate terrorist funding.

Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das earlier this year said the government has no plans to introduce new Rs 1000 currency note and that the focus is on lower denomination notes.
 
11. Climate change costs India $ 10 billion every year: Government.
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In its recent report, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture has observed that extreme weather events are costing India $9-10 billion annually. It also observed that climate change is projected to impact agricultural productivity with increasing severity from 2020 to the end of the century.

It also mentioned that the extreme weather events are not always linked to climate change but their frequency and severity is increasing and this is being increasingly read as fallout of climate change.

 

Impact of Climate change on agriculture

 


 

Decrease in Productivity


The productivity of major crops will be marginal in the next few years but it could rise to as much as 10-40% by 2100 unless farming adapts to climate change-induced changes in weather. Major crops such as wheat, rice, oilseeds, pulses, fruits and vegetables will see reduced yields over the years.

It will force farmers to either adapt to challenges of climate change or face the risk of getting poorer. It could turn India into a major importer of oilseeds, pulses and even milk. Adaptation to climate change will need different cropping patterns and suitable inputs to compensate yield fluctuations.

 

Food Security


Vulnerability of Indian agriculture due to vagaries associated with climate change and low adaptation capacity of majority of Indian farmers poses risk to food security of the country. By 2030, India may need 70 million tonnes more of foodgrains than the expected production in 2016-17.

The demand for food is also going to increase due to an increasing population, expanding urbanisation and rising income.  To meet increasing demand, India to depend on import if it does not act on time to increase production and productivity of major food crops, pulses, oilseeds and milk by adapting to climate change.

 

Projected food demand


The ICAR-National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research has projected food demand of 345 million tonnes (MT) by 2030- almost 30% higher than in 2011. 

The projected demands for fruits, vegetables, milk, animal products (meat, eggs and fish), sugar and edible oil, by 2030 is estimated to be 2-3 times more than that in 2011.
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Economic Losses


According to the economic survey estimates, India currently incurs losses of about $9-10 billion annually due to extreme weather events. Of these, nearly 80% losses remain uninsured. The quantum of losses are going to increase substantially in future if one takes into account the impact of climate change on farm productivity.

 

Improve in Yields


Though there is possibility of decrease in yields of certain crops in traditional sown areas due to climate change but it may increase elsewhere due to change in weather pattern. Though most crops will see reduced production, but climate change may also help improve yields of soyabean, chickpea, groundnut, coconut (western coast) and potato (in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh).

 

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