Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Preparation: 16 October 2017

GoM on composition scheme holds first meeting

The Group of Ministers (GoM) set up to make the GST composition scheme more attractive held its first meeting in New Delhi. The five members GoM, headed by Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has been tasked to examine the way to make composition scheme more attractive.

The other members of the GoM are Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Chhattisgarh Minister of Commercial Taxes Amar Agrawal.

With only over 15.50 lakh businesses out of 98 lakh registered under the GST regime opting for the composition scheme, the GST Council decided to set up the GoM to examine ways of making it more attractive. Businesses with turnover of up to Rs 1 crore can opt for the composition scheme and they can pay taxes in the range of 1-5 per cent and file returns quarterly.

The GoM has also been tasked with revisiting the tax structure of different categories of restaurants with a view to rationalising or reducing the rates. The GoM will examine whether the AC restaurants pass on the benefit of cost reduction under GST to consumers and if they are not, whether they should be disallowed input tax credit claims.

The GST Council, in its last meeting, hiked the threshold for availing of the composition scheme to Rs 1 crore, from the Rs 75 lakh set earlier. The tax rate for traders of goods in the composition scheme is 1 per cent, while it is 2 per cent for manufacturers and 5 per cent for restaurants.


Rajasthan Assembly becomes first in India to call motions online

The Rajasthan assembly has become the first in India to call attention and adjournment motions and proposals online from legislators to send them to the state government. Speaker Kailash Meghwal inaugurated the new system by sending a call for an attention motion to the state government with a click of mouse.

The system is expected to save time, labour and use of paper in the functioning of the assembly, and also help legislators in bringing attention to urgent public issues. It will also streamline exchange of information and reports among respective departments.

National Informatics Centre has set up a help desk at the secretariat to provide assistance to state government staff in getting used to the new system.


Airports need $45 billion investment to improve capacity by 2030

India needs to invest up to $45 billion to create an additional capacity of handling 500- 600 million passengers at its airports by 2030 as their capacity is likely to saturate within the next five years, a study by an aviation think-tank said.

According to Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) estimates, the current capacity of the country’s top 17 airports is between 298-316.5 million passengers per annum. This is expected to increase to 431-463 million once the existing airport sites are completely built and achieve their maximum structural capacity.

There will also be a need to allocate 1,50,000 to 2,00,000 acres of land for 55 new airports by 2030. As airlines begin to induct 350-400 aircraft in the next five years, problems related to unavailability of slots as well as overnight parking bays will get magnified.

Ten airports namely Pune, Jaipur, Srinagar, Lucknow, Dehradun, Agartala, Guwahati, Kozhikode, Mangalore, and Trichy—managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), are already operating “beyond their design capacity”.


GDP may grow at 7% in FY’18: NITI Aayog

Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar has said, the economic slowdown that began in 2013-14 has bottomed out and the GDP is likely to grow 6.9 to 7 per cent this fiscal and 7.5 per cent in 2018-19.

The economic growth slowed to 7.1% in 2016-17, the year in which 87% of the currency was demonetised, despite a very good show by the agricultural sector. On a quarterly basis also, the growth in the first quarter of the current fiscal had slipped to 5.7%.

Mr Kumar said, by first quarter of 2018, there will be a stronger recovery which will continue on much more sustained basis. He said, fiscal 2018-19 will be the much better year than fiscal 2017-18.

The Niti Aayog vice chairman said the country did very well from 2007-13 and the downward cycle started in 2013-14, mainly because of splurge in lending to undeserving projects since 2007.