CURRENT AFFAIRS – July 2017

Current Affairs July 2017 Assam Exam

July 1


GST comes into force after 17 years of debate

The Goods and Services Tax (GST), India’s biggest tax reform since independence came into force on July 1 after a long series of debates and round of talks. The new tax regime was ushered in at a late night event in the historic Central Hall of Parliament.

Across the globe, India is 161st country to launch GST, which is expected to turn the whole country into one market in effect.


Govt to roll out Operation Muskan-III

The Assam Government is all set to roll out the month-long (from July 1 to 31, 2017) Operation Muskan-III along with the rest of the country to rescue and recover missing children. This campaign is a follow-up of earlier campaigns like Operation Smile-II and Operation Muskan-II.

Campaigns like Operation Smile-II and Operation Muskan-II were implemented throughout the country from January 1 to 31, 2016 and July 1 to 31, 2016 respectively. As an outcome of these campaigns, approximately 40,000 children were rescued and recovered.

It may be noted that the Central Government has advised all States and Union Territories to extend all possible cooperation during inter-State rescue operation; to ensure proper provision of availability of food, clothes, medical aid, professional translators, psychiatrists and shelter homes for rehabilitation/ reintegration well before the rescue operation; and to ensure that such operations are conducted in strict compliance of the existing legal provisions.


Sonowal launches ambitious Avenue Plantation Programme

Ceremonially launching the Avenue Plantation Programme along the national highway from Kaliabor Tiniali to Bokakhat as part of the 68th Van Mahotsav celebration, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the State government would plant 10 crore saplings throughout the State to realize the vision for a pollution-free environment.

“Plantation is our national duty and under any circumstances Assam won’t be lagging behind in performing its national duty. Plantation of 10 crore saplings is our endeavour which would augur well in making Assam greener and free from pollution,” he said.

Sonowal also said the State government is working on a holistic approach for the development of the historic Kolong waterway and informed that this year’s budget has already sanctioned Rs 10 crore for the purpose. He also released a Contingency Flood Manual-2017 for Kaliabor subdivision at the same function.

Fact File: Van Mahotsav

  • It is an annual tree-planting movement in India, which began in 1950.
  • It has gained significant national importance and, every year, millions of saplings are planted across India in observation of Van Mahotsav week, usually between 1 July to 7 July
  • It was started by K.M. Munshi, then the Union Minister for Agriculture and Food to create enthusiasm among masses for forest conservation and planting trees

Government notifies Goods and Services Tax Identification Number rules

The government has notified the rules related to Registration and Composition Scheme of Goods and Services Tax Identification Number (GSTIN) that came into effect from June 22, 2017.

The intent of notifying these rules is to start the process of issue of registration certificate, GSTIN, to taxpayers who have already been issued provisional ID for registration (PID) as well as to the new taxpayers, a Finance Ministry statement said here on Saturday.

“Any person who has been granted PID and who opts for composition scheme, should submit an intimation of option in a prescribed form on GSTN on or before July 21, 2017,” the statement said.

Any persons who has PID may submit the required documents on GSTN for getting the certificate of registration. It is clarified that a period of three months is allowed to complete this procedure, that is, the formalities can be completed on or before September 22, 2017.

In the interim, they can issue tax invoice using the PID already allotted to them, the statement clarified.

“A person seeking fresh registration can apply for registration within thirty days from the date on which he becomes liable for registration. They can also opt for composition scheme at the time of filing of registration form,” it added.

The statement said: “The applicant for grant of new registration can issue a bill of supply for supplying goods or services during the period from the date of liability to obtain registration till date of issuance of the registration certificate, if he has applied for registration within thirty days from the date he has become liable for registration. “On grant of certificate of registration he can issue revised tax invoices for the supplies made during this period.”


KK Venugopal is the new Attorney General for India

Senior Advocate and Constitution Law Expert KK Venugopal has been appointed the 15th Attorney General for India. Venugopal succeeds Mukul Rohatgi, who stepped down after his first term ended on June 11, 2017.

  • He served as President of the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA – International Association of Lawyers) from 1996 to 1997.
  • He was appointed by the Royal Government of Bhutan to serve as the Constitutional adviser for drafting of the Constitution of Bhutan.
  • He held the office of Additional Solicitor General in Morarji Desai’s Government.
  • He was appointed as amicus curiae to assist the Supreme Court in 2G spectrum case.
  • In 2015, he was conferred Padma Vibhushan award by Government of India, he had also received the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian honour.

July 2


AASU opposes English Adarsha Bidyalayas

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) will stage sit-in demonstrations on July 4 across the State in protest against the State government’s decision to set up English-medium Adarsha Bidyalayas. The AASU said in a statement that the government’s exercise tantamount to undermining the mother tongue (vernacular) educational institutions and an act of compromise on the very identity of the people of the State.

“This is preposterous that the State government should even think of having government-run schools in English medium. Under no circumstances would the AASU allow such regressive developments to take place in the sanctified domains of school education. Our demand is that the Adarsha Bidyalayas must be run in the vernacular medium and must be under the SEBA,” it said.

The AASU added that instead of setting up English-medium schools, the government would do well to promote better English teaching methods in the vernacular schools – a practice that was prevalent in earlier times but abandoned later. The AASU also pointed out that a host of youths had laid down their lives during the Language Movement of 1960 and the Medium Movement of 1972 and that their sacrifices must not go in vain due to some insipid act of the State government.


Supreme Court makes all preparations to go paperless

In a bid to make the Supreme Court paperless, the apex court has made preparations to implement an ambitious project.

According to the apex court registry, the project would be implemented gradually and at the first instance, only fresh matters listed in first five courts would be accessed by the judges digitally on a interactive display device. It said that all the high courts in the country had been provided with login IDs to upload digitised records in the prescribed format.

“The Supreme Court has made all the preparations to make the court paperless. As the concept of paperless court involves various technical and functional issues, it is proposed to implement the project gradually, as it would be a new method of working for the advocates and judges,” the apex court registry said.


Tax collection to double in five years, says Himanta

Insisting that the consumer states in the country would benefit at the cost of the manufacturing states following implementation of the GST, State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that under the new tax regime, the tax collection in Assam would double in five years time.

“People will not have to pay more. Leakages will be stopped. Industrialization will get a push as manufacturers will not confine themselves to particular states due to the uniformity in tax and will try to set up units across the country to cut down transportation costs. I feel the tax collection in Assam, which is around Rs 6,000 crore will double and go up to Rs 12,000 crore in five years,” Sarma said, speaking at an interactive session with youth and traders on the new taxation system.

He also said that the sales tax gates would be abolished in about two months time once the e-way billing system is in place for ensuring seamless movement of goods.

“Only about 5 per cent of the traders would be checked and that too will be picked by the computer based on the past transactions. Also if there is any specific input of any irregularity, inquiries would be done,” he said.

While the present number of assesses is around 1.2 lakh, the minister said the number of tax payers in Assam is unlikely to cross 1.5 lakh in the next five years.

On fixing of the exemption threshold at Rs 10 lakh in the Northeast against Rs 20 lakh in other states, the minister said, “When the traders are collecting the tax from the people, why will the government not tax them? In any case, we have raised the limit from Rs 6 lakh under VAT to Rs 10 lakh under GST. Rs 20 lakh threshold would be a luxury for a state like Assam.”

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a historic tax reform which will lead to inclusive growth in the country. He also informed that nodal officers will be engaged at the circle level for GST registration and awareness generation activities in the State.


July 3


Brahmaputra Board gets Rs 233 cr for Majuli protection

In a positive development for the river island Majuli, the Brahmaputra Board, which is engaged in the work to provide physical protection to this river island, has now obtained a financial sanction worth around Rs 233 crore to undertake more projects for providing the island additional strength to withstand erosion. The Board has so far helped the island reclaim a landmass of around 23 square km. Out of the around Rs 233 crore, the Ministry of Development of the North East Region (DoNER) will provide a fund of Rs 207 crore.

Prior to 2004, the trend in Majuli was negative so far as retaining its landmass was concerned. It was losing its landmass then at the rate of 2.56 square km annually. But after 2004, the island is gaining its area at the rate of around 1.84 square km per year. In 2004, the total area of Majuli was around 502 square km as per satellite imagery. In 2016, the area of the island got increased to around 525 square km.


Govt reviews situation post GST roll-out

After implementation of GST regime, Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha held a review meeting to take stock implementation of the new tax regime.

The Cabinet Secretary asked secretaries of various departments to give their feedback on the rollout of GST. Apart from Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, the meeting saw participation from about 20 secretaries from key departments. All the top brass of CBEC were present in the meeting.

On June 20, Sinha had taken GST preparedness meeting with 30 ministries and departments and had asked the secretaries to organise outreach meetings and publicity campaigns through their departments and PSUs for explaining the provisions of new law and rules to their stakeholders.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rolled out from July 1 and the finance ministry had said that the two days of GST rollout has passed “without any major problems being reported” from the field offices.

Fact File: GST

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST)is an indirect tax which was introduced in India on 1 July 2017 and was applicable throughout India which replaced multiple cascading taxes levied by the central and state
  • It was introduced as The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act 2017,following the passage of Constitution 122nd Amendment Bill.
  • The GST is governed by a GST Council and its Chairman is the Finance Minister of India.
  • Under GST, goods and services are taxed at the following rates, 0, 5%, 12% ,18% and 28%. There is a special rate of 0.25% on rough precious and semi-precious stones and 3% on gold.
  • In addition a cessof 15% or other rates on top of 28% GST applies on few items like aerated drinks, luxury cars and tobacco products.
  • GST was initially proposed to replace a slew of indirect taxes with a unified tax and was therefore set to dramatically reshape the country’s 2 trillion dollar economy.
  • The rate of GST in India is between double to four times that levied in other countries like Singapore.

July 4


CM urges ASEAN to set up consulates

Asserting that the North Eastern states were the natural launch pad of the Act East Policy, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that the region will realise its full potential through close economic ties with the Southeast Asian countries, and it will, in turn, shape the next stage of India’s growth story.

Sonowal was addressing the Ninth Edition of the Delhi Dialogue themed Charting the Course for India-ASEAN relations for the next 25 Years’ organised jointly by ORF and FICCI was attended by delegates from several Southeast Asian countries including deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, Union Minister of Myanmar, U Kyaw Tint Swe besides External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj among others.

Following the vision of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s Act East Policy that seeks to make North East India the launch pad of this policy in India’s active engagement with the Southeast Asia and East Asia, and transform the region into the new engine of growth, for not only India, but also the whole of Asia Pacific.

Urging ASEAN to set up Consulates in Guwahati, Sonowal requested the MEA and ASEAN to open their consulate offices in Guwahati. This will help promoting tourism, and business of both ASEAN and North East.

Apprising about Assam Government’s latest initiative, Sonowal said that his Government recently formed a separate Department, namely, Act East Policy Affairs Department.


Guwahati Declaration calls for overall growth

The 8th India Bangladesh Friendship Dialogue concluded in the city today with adoption of the ‘Guwahati Declaration’ calling for greater people-to-people and business-to-business contacts between the northeastern region of India and Bangladesh as part of the overall aim to ensure sustainable political goodwill and trust, economic growth and shared prosperity between the people of the two countries.

“Preparing a vision document and research report on ‘NE India and Bangladesh: Borders as Prosperity Zones’ and organizing an India-Bangladesh business summit have been suggested in the eighth session. With an aim to ensure sustainable political goodwill and trust, economic growth and shared prosperity of the peoples of India and Bangladesh, the eighth iteration declares its conviction that ensuring greater people-to-people and business-to-business contacts between the North Eastern region of India and Bangladesh is crucial,” said the Declaration.

The Declaration added, “Particularly matters related to innovation, entrepreneurship, healthcare, education, tourism, human resource development, technology, finance, industrial production, manufacturing, agro-processing, freights and shipping, power generation and energy security are of strategic importance for both New Delhi and Dhaka. To delay a closer economic integration in such areas would, thus, be tantamount to contravening the strategic interests of the two governments…”

“It has re-assessed and measured progress in the areas discussed in the sixth and seventh rounds, particularly in managing peaceful and prosperous international borders and security, water security and Joint Basin Management, energy security and cross border generation and trade in power, connectivity and Integrated Multimodal Communication, with special emphasis on utilizing inland waterways, sub-regional and regional development and utilization of mega-architectures such as regional and continental highways, rail networks, sea ports and coastal shipping, and investment, production, manufacturing and service sector complementarities,” said the document.


TERI ranked second among world’s climate think tanks

TERI( The Energy and Resources Institute) was ranked number two by the International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG).

FACTFILE TERI:

The Energy and Resources Institute is a research institute based in New Delhi that conducts research work in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development.

Director General: Dr. Ajay Mathur
Sponsor: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
TERI conducts research for sustainable development of India.
The New Delhi-based think tank was ranked under the category 2016 Top Climate Think Tanks in the Rest of the World–Absolute Global Rankings during ICCGs 23rd annual conference of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE) in Athens in Greece.

Current Affairs Assam July 2017