National Affairs

State Budgets Snapshot: 2019-20-Brief summary of the State Budgets

In continuation of the States’ Budget report released by PHD Chamber on 3rd April 2019, the supplement report on remaining states is attached. The state governments have announced their annual Budgets 2019-20 making allocations in important areas relating to socio-economic welfare. A summary of the state budget highlights is given below:

  1. Jammu & Kashmir

The budget of Jammu and Kashmir has focused on the overall development and welfare of the state. The budget has proposed Rs 5 crore each to the Handicraft Development and Handloom Development Corporations for raw material and inventory upgradation. The budget proposed an amount of Rs  2573  crores  expected  to  flow  to  Panchayati Raj  Institutions  and  Rs  1030 crores  to  Urban  Local Bodies in a timeframe of 15 months.

  1. Uttar Pradesh

The budget of Uttar Pradesh focuses on the socio-economic development of the state. The state budget has proposed a cess on liquor sales. A cess will be levied on liquor sales, through which a revenue of Rs 165 crore is estimated. This will be used towards feeding of stray cattle. For the rural development, Rs 6,240 crore has been allocated towards Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Rural. Rs 3,488 crore has been allocated under the National Rural Livelihood Mission. Rs 2,954 crore has been allocated towards the National Rural Drinking Water Mission.

  1. Bihar

The budget of Bihar 2019-20 has majorly focused on villages, health, education, infrastructure sector. The size of the budget is Rs 200501.01 crores for the year 2019-2020. The budget has earmarked amount for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes of Rs 17,928.1 crore.

  1. Gujarat

The budget of Gujarat focuses on the overall growth and development of the economy. For health, the state government has decided to increase insurance cover for 68 lakh beneficiary families of “MA” and “MA-Vatsalya” Yojana on the lines of Ayushman Bharat from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.To encourage prawn culture activity, additional 5000 hectares land has been allotted with an aim to provide employment to 25,000 aqua-culturists.  To give boost to their activity and to provide them better facilities, new fish landing centres will be set up in the state.

  1.         Goa

The Goa budget has continued to put a major thrust on Agriculture, Health, Education, Information Technology, Employment, Infrastructure and overall sustainable economic development. The Goa budget proposed Rs 1624.5 crores towards school education and Rs 411.8 crores towards higher education. Towards technical education, the budget proposed an amount of Rs 203.9 crores.

Budgets at a glance (in Rs Crore)

S. No. States Estimated Revenue Estimated Expenditure
1 Jammu & Kashmir 84571 88911
2 Uttar Pradesh 470684 479701
3 Bihar 201584.8 200501.01
4 Gujarat 197171.7 190130.3
5 Goa 14651.2 17702.3

Source: PHD Research Bureau, compiled from different state budgets for 2019-2020

To sum up, majorly all the states have kept the interest of the general public in consideration and have laid focus on uplifting social infrastructure. Social infrastructure is the backbone of every state’s economy and a systematic approach towards uplifting the socio-economic standards at the grass root level will definitely put states’ growth on a higher trajectory in the coming times.

India and The World

MoUs/Agreements signed during the visit of Prime Minister of Israel to India

Prime Minister Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India from 14 to 19 January 2018 closed a momentous twenty fifth anniversary year of India-Israel relationship and its growing partnership. The summit level meetings between the Republic of India and the State of Israel that commenced with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Israel from 4 to 6 July 2017, have further strengthened the bonds between the two governments and peoples and have consolidated the foundation for their Strategic Partnership.

The two Prime Ministers share a common vision for the relationship. They believe that in the next twenty-five years the two respective countries should strive to raise bilateral cooperation in diverse sectors to a qualitatively new level in consonance with our Strategic Partnership.

Both sides are working together on a Five Year Joint Work Plan for strategic cooperation in Agriculture and Water. Both sides also agreed to deepen cooperation in innovation, business and trade, space, homeland security and cyber, higher education and research, science and technology, tourism and culture. The two prime ministers noted with satisfaction the commencement and implementation of India-Israel development cooperation – three-year work programme in Agriculture (2018-2020) under the stewardship of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MASHAV) and the Ministry of Agriculture of India aimed at increasing farmers’ productivity and optimization of water use efficiency.

The two Prime Ministers were apprised of state of progress on the twenty-eight Centres of Excellence that are being jointly established in different States of India, and noted with satisfaction that seven more Centres of Excellence have become operational in the last six months since the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Israel. The two Prime Ministers will be visiting Centre of Excellence in Vadrad, Gujarat and will inaugurate the Centre of Excellence in Bhuj, Gujarat, during this visit.

The two Prime Ministers commended the decision of the respective Ministries of Science and Technology to commence nine joint R&D projects in the areas of big data analytics in health care and security in cyber space, in pursuance of their decision in July 2017 to upgrade scientific and technological collaboration.

 List of MoUs/Agreements signed during the visit of Prime Minister of Israel to India

S. No. MoU / Agreement / LoI Exchanged by
Indian side Israeli side
1 MoU on Cyber Security Cooperation between India and Israel Shri Vijay Gokhale, Secretary (ER) Mr. Yuval Rotem, Director General, MoFA, Government of Israel
2 MoU between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Ministry of Energy on Cooperation in Oil and Gas Sector Shri Vijay Gokhale, Secretary (ER) Mr. Daniel Carmon, Ambassador of Israel to India
3 Protocol between India and Israel on Amendments to theAir Transport Agreement Shri Rajiv Nayan Choubey, Secretary, Civil Aviation Mr. Daniel Carmon, Ambassador of Israel to India
4 Agreement on Film-co-production between India and Israel Shri N. K. Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Mr. Daniel Carmon, Ambassador of Israel to India
5 MoU between the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH and the Centre for Integrative Complementary Medicine, Shaare Zedek Medical Center on Cooperation in the field of Research inHomeopathic Medicine Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH Mr. Daniel Carmon, Ambassador of Israel to India
6 MoU between Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) and the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology for cooperation in the field ofspace Dr. V. K. Dadhwal, Director of IIST Mr. Daniel Carmon, Ambassador of Israel to India
7 Memorandum of Intent between Invest India and Invest in Israel Shri Deepak Bagla, Managing Director & CEO, Invest India Mr. Daniel Carmon, Ambassador of Israel to India
8 Letter of Intent between IOCL and Phinergy Ltd. For cooperation in the area of metal-air batteries Shri Sanjiv Singh, Chairman, IOCL Mr. Daniel Carmon, Ambassador of Israel to India
9 Letter of Intent between IOCL and Yeda Research and Development Co Ltd for cooperation in the area of concentrated solar thermal technologies Shri Sanjiv Singh, Chairman, IOCL Mr. Daniel Carmon, Ambassador of Israel to India

Economic Development and Policies

Cabinet approves amendments in FDI policy

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to a number of amendments in the FDI Policy. These are intended to liberalise and simplify the FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business in the country. In turn, it will lead to larger FDI inflows contributing to growth of investment, income and employment.  Government has put in place an investor friendly policy on FDI, under which FDI up to 100%, is permitted on the automatic route in most sectors/ activities. the Government has decided to introduce a number of amendments in the FDI Policy.


a)      FDI in Single Brand Retail Trading – Government approval no longer required for FDI in Single Brand 

                 Retail Trading (SBRT)

  • Extant FDI policy on SBRT allows 49% FDI under automatic route, and FDI beyond 49% and up to 100% through Government approval route. It has now been decided to permit 100% FDI under automatic route for SBRT.
  • It has been decided to permit single brand retail trading entity to set off its incremental sourcing of goods from India for global operations during initial 5 years, beginning 1st April of the year of the opening of first store against the mandatory sourcing requirement of 30% of purchases from India. For this purpose, incremental sourcing will mean the increase in terms of value of such global sourcing from India for that single brand (in INR terms) in a particular financial year over the preceding financial year, by the non-resident entities undertaking single brand retail trading entity, either directly or through their group companies. After completion of this 5 year period, the SBRT entity shall be required to meet the 30% sourcing norms directly towards its India’s operation, on an annual basis.
  • A non-resident entity or entities, whether owner of the brand or otherwise, is permitted to undertake ‘single brand’ product retail trading in the country for the specific brand, either directly by the brand owner or through a legally tenable agreement executed between the Indian entity undertaking single brand retail trading and the brand owner.
    b)      Civil Aviation

As per the extant policy, foreign airlines are allowed to invest under Government approval route in the capital of Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services, up to the limit of 49% of their paid-up capital. However, this provision was presently not applicable to Air India, thereby implying that foreign airlines could not invest in Air India. It has now been decided to do away with this restriction and allow foreign airlines to invest up to 49% under approval route in Air India subject to the conditions that:

  • Foreign investment(s) in Air India including that of foreign Airline(s) shall not exceed 49% either directly or indirectly
  • Substantial ownership and effective control of Air India shall continue to be vested in Indian National.

    c)       Construction Development: Townships, Housing, Built-up Infrastructure and Real Estate Broking Services

It has been decided to clarify that real-estate broking service does not amount to real estate business and is therefore, eligible for 100% FDI under automatic route.

d)      Power Exchanges

Extant policy provides for 49% FDI under automatic route in Power Exchanges registered under the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (Power Market) Regulations, 2010. However, FII/FPI purchases were restricted to secondary market only. It has now been decided to do away with this provision, thereby allowing FIIs/FPIs to invest in Power Exchanges through primary market as well.

e)      Other Approval Requirements under FDI Policy:

As per the extant FDI policy, issue of equity shares against non-cash considerations like pre-incorporation expenses, import of machinery etc. is permitted under Government approval route. It has now been decided that issue of shares against non-cash considerations like pre-incorporation expenses, import of machinery etc. shall be permitted under automatic route in case of sectors under automatic route.

Foreign investment into an Indian company, engaged only in the activity of investing in the capital of other Indian company/ies/ LLP and in the Core Investing Companies is presently allowed upto 100% with prior Government approval. It has now been decided to align FDI policy on these sectors with FDI policy provisions on Other Financial Services. Thus, if the above activities are regulated by any financial sector regulator, then foreign investment upto 100% under automatic route shall be allowed; and, if they are not regulated by any Financial Sector Regulator or where only part is regulated or where there is doubt regarding the regulatory oversight, foreign investment up to 100% will be allowed under Government approval route, subject to conditions including minimum capitalization requirement, as may be decided by the Government.

f)       Competent Authority for examining FDI proposals from countries of concern

As per the existing procedures, FDI applications involving investments from Countries of Concern, requiring security clearance as per the extant FEMA 20, FDI Policy and security guidelines, amended from time to time, are to be processed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for investments falling under automatic route sectors/activities, while cases pertaining to government approval route sectors/activities requiring security clearance are to be processed by the respective Administrative Ministries/Departments, as the case may be. It has now been decided that for investments in automatic route sectors, requiring approval only on the matter of investment being from country of concern, FDI applications would be processed by Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) for Government approval. Cases under the government approval route, also requiring security clearance with respect to countries of concern, will continue to be processed by concerned Administrative Department/Ministry.

g)      Pharmaceuticals:

FDI policy on Pharmaceuticals sector inter-alia provides that definition of medical device as contained in the FDI Policy would be subject to amendment in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. As the definition as contained in the policy is complete in itself, it has been decided to drop the reference to Drugs and Cosmetics Act from FDI policy. Further, it has also been decided to amend the definition of ‘medical devices’ as contained in the FDI Policy.

h)      Prohibition of restrictive conditions regarding audit firms:

The extant FDI policy does not have any provisions in respect of specification of auditors that can be appointed by the Indian investee companies receiving foreign investments. It has been decided to provide in the FDI policy that wherever the foreign investor wishes to specify a particular auditor/audit firm having international network for the Indian investee company, then audit of such investee companies should be carried out as joint audit wherein one of the auditors should not be part of the same network.



International Trade and Economy

World Inequality Report 2018

According to the World Inequality Lab’s World Inequality Report 2018, the richest 1% captured twice as much as the poorest 50% of world population since 1980. In other words, since 1980, 27% of all new income worldwide was captured by the richest 1%, while the poorest 50% captured only 13% of growth.

 The World Inequality Report 2018 relies on a cutting-edge methodology to measure income and wealth inequality in a systematic and transparent manner. By developing this report, the World Inequality Lab seeks to fill a democratic gap and to equip various actors of society with the necessary facts to engage in informed public debates on inequality.

Outlook on global income inequality

Income inequality has increased in nearly all world regions in recent decades, but at different speeds. The fact that inequality levels are so different among countries, even when countries share similar levels of development, highlights the important roles that national policies and institutions play in shaping inequality.

 Income inequality varies greatly across world regions. It is lowest in Europe and highest in the Middle East -Inequality within world regions varies greatly. In 2016, the share of total national income accounted for by just that nation’s top 10% earners (top 10% income share) was 37% in Europe, 41% in China, 46% in Russia, 47% in US-Canada, and around 55%  in sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, and India. In the Middle East, the world’s most unequal region according to our estimates, the top 10% capture 61% of national income.

 Findings on global wealth inequality

The combination of large privatizations and increasing income inequality within countries has fueled the rise of wealth inequality among individuals. In Russia and the United States, the rise in wealth inequality has been extreme, whereas in Europe it has been more moderate. Wealth inequality has not yet returned to its extremely high early-twentieth-century level in rich countries.

 Increasing income inequality and the large transfers of public to private wealth occurring over the past forty years have yielded rising wealth inequality among individuals. Wealth inequality has not, however, yet reached its early-twentieth-century levels in Europe or in the United States.

The rise in wealth inequality has nonetheless been very large in the United States, where the top 1% wealth share rose from 22% in 1980 to 39% in 2014. Most of that increase in inequality was due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth owners. The increase in top-wealth shares in France and the UK was more moderate over the past forty years, in part due to the dampening effect of the rising housing wealth of the middle class, and a lower level of income inequality than the United States’.

 Evolution of private and public capital ownership matter for inequality

Economic inequality is largely driven by the unequal ownership of capital, which can be either privately or public owned. We show that since 1980, very large transfers of public to private wealth occurred in nearly all countries, whether rich or emerging. While national wealth has substantially increased, public wealth is now negative or close to zero in rich countries. Arguably this limits the ability of governments to tackle inequality; certainly, it has important implications for wealth inequality among individuals.

 Outlook for India

Deregulation and opening-up reforms in India since 1980s have led to substantial increase in inequality so much that top 0.1% of earners has continued to capture more growth than all those in the bottom 50% combined.

 In 2014, the share of national income captured by India’s top 1% of earners was 22%, while share of top 10% of earners was around 56%. Top 0.1% of earners has continued to capture more growth than all those in the bottom 50% combined. The bottom 50% now have about 15% share in the total income. This rising inequality contrasts to the 30 years following the country’s Independence, when income inequality was widely reduced and the incomes of the bottom 50% grew at a faster rate than the national average.

 Future of global inequality and how to tackle it

World Inequality Report 2018 projects income and wealth inequality up to 2050 under different scenarios. In a future in which “business as usual” continues, global inequality will further increase. Alternatively, if in the coming decades all countries follow the moderate inequality trajectory of Europe over the past decades, global income inequality can be reduced—in which case there can also be substantial progress in eradicating global poverty.

Rising wealth inequality within countries has helped to spur increases in global wealth inequality. If it is assumed that the world trend to be captured by the combined experience of China, Europe and the United States, the wealth share of the world’s top 1% wealthiest people increased from 28% to 33%, while the share commanded by the bottom 75% oscillated around 10% between 1980 and 2016. The continuation of past wealth-inequality trends will see the wealth share of the top 0.1% global wealth owners (in a world represented by China, the EU, and the United States) catch up with the share of the global wealth middle class by 2050.

Global income inequality will also increase if countries prolong the income inequality path they have been on since 1980—even with relatively high income growth predictions in Africa, Latin America, and Asia in the coming three decades. Global income inequality will increase even more if all countries follow the high-inequality trajectory followed by the United States between 1980 and 2016. However, global inequality will decrease moderately if all countries follow the inequality trajectory followed by the EU between 1980 and today.

Going ahead, more equal access to education and well-paying jobs is key to addressing the stagnating or sluggish income growth rates of the poorest half of the population. Governments need to invest in the future to address current income and wealth inequality levels, and to prevent further increases in them.

Economic Development and Policies

Rajya Sabha clears Real Estate Bill

The Rajya Sabha passed the Real Estate Regulator Bill, which will help regulate the sector and bring in clarity for both buyers and developers. The key details of the bill are as follows:

  • It establishes the State Real Estate Regulatory Authority for that particular state as the government body to be approached for redressal of grievances against any builder. This will happen once every state ratifies this Act and establishes a state authority on the lines set up in the law.
  • This law vests authority on the real estate regulator to govern both residential and commercial real estate transactions.
  • This Act obliges the developer to park 70% of the project funds in a dedicated escrow bank account. This will ensure that developers are not able to invest in numerous new projects with the proceeds of the booking money for one project, thus delaying completion and handover to consumers.
  • This law makes it mandatory for developers to post all information on issues such as project plan, layout, government approvals, land title status, sub contractors to the project, schedule for completion with the State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and then in effect pass this information on to the consumers.
  • The current practice of selling on the basis of ambiguous super built-up area for a real estate project will come to a stop as this law makes it illegal. Carpet area has been clearly defined in the law.
  • Currently, if a project is delayed, then the developer does not suffer in any way. Now, the law ensures that any delay in project completion will make the developer liable to pay the same interest as the EMI being paid by the consumer to the bank back to the consumer.
  • The maximum jail term for a developer who violates the order of the appellate tribunal of the RERA is three years with or without a fine.
  • The buyer can contact the developer in writing within one year of taking possession to demand after sales service if any deficiency in the project is noticed.
  • The developer cannot make any changes to the plan that had been sold without the written consent of the buyer. This puts paid to a common and unpopular practice by developers to increase the cost of projects.
  • Lastly, every project measuring more than 500 square metres or more than eight apartments will have to be registered with the RERA.
Business and Economy

Economy: News Nuggets July 17, 2017

Jan Dhan deposits touch Rs 64,564 cr

 Jan Dhan deposits touch Rs 64,564 cr; Rs 300 cr added during demonetization – According to Government data, Deposits in Jan Dhan accounts have touched a new high of Rs 64,564 crore, of which over Rs 300 crore came in the first seven months of demonetization. Of these, 23.27 crore accounts were with public sector banks, 4.7 crore with regional rural banks and 92.7 lakh with private ones.

 Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to train 5 lakh graduates

Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to train 5 lakh graduates to be trained for Goods and Services Tax – Minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship, Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy stated that with the demand for tax professionals increasing in the country in view of Goods and Services Tax (GST) coming into effect from July 1, the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship will train 5 lakh graduates for GST. The commerce graduates will be trained in 100 GST training centres across the country.

NDMC Smart City projects timelines

NDMC Smart City projects has given timelines; Rs.1,240 cr worth works to begin in October –   New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has been asked by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs to ensure completion of smart city projects ahead of time so as to lead by example in smart city making across the country. Of the Rs.1,800 cr Smart City Plan of NDMC, work on a range of major impactful projects will begin in phases by October this year, for which tendering is in progress.

No (GST) tax on second hand goods if sold cheaper

GST implementation: No tax on second hand goods if sold cheaper – The buying and selling of second hand goods will not attract Goods and Services Tax (GST) if sold at a price cheaper than the purchase price. Rule 32(5) of the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Rules, 2017, provides that where a taxable supply is provided by a person dealing in buying and selling of second hand goods or used goods, the value of supply shall be the difference between the selling price and the purchase price and where the value of such supply is negative, it shall be ignored.

No breach of farm subsidy limits, India tells WTO

 India has informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it did not breach the permissible farm subsidy limit between 2011-12 and 2013-14. India recently submitted its farm subsidy details for these three years to the multilateral body. Putting to rest doubts of developed countries that India’s farm subsidies have been on the rise, it has been told to WTO that input subsidies that include those for fertilisers, irrigation and electricity fell to USD22.8 billion in FY2014 compared with USD29.1billion in FY 2011.

Proposal for states to make their own Aadhaar Acts

Centre makes proposal for states to make their own Aadhaar Acts – The state government may soon enact their own “State Aadhaar Act”, as the central government has made a proposal for the same. Though a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court is set to hear challenges to the Aadhaar Act, the Centre put up the idea at the national conference of state chief secretaries, organised by NITI Aayog.

National Affairs

Uttar Pradesh presents a budget of Rs 3.9 lakh crore for 2017-18

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government presented its first annual budget for 2017-2018 fiscal which is claimed that it will take the state forward onto a higher trajectory of growth. The Budget focuses on villages, poor and farmers.

 The current budget, presented by Finance Minister Shri Rajesh Agarwal, is 10.9% higher as compared to the last fiscal. The Uttar Pradesh government revealed its allocation of funds for various sectors that will affect the development of the state. He said that the focus of the government is on rural development as well as ensuring overall development of the state.

 Highlights of UP Budget 2017-16

  1. The 2017-18 annual budget is pegged at Rs 3,84,659.71 crore and it is 10.9 per cent higher than last fiscal’s. UP budget provides for Rs 55,781.96 crore for new schemes.
  2. Uttar Pradesh government has allocated a sum of Rs 21.12 crore for free education up to graduation for girls under ‘Ahilyabai Kanya Free Education Scheme’.
  3. The government allocated Rs 800 crore for development of infrastructure in cities of Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura under ‘Prasad Yojana’.
  4. The government announced recruitment of around 33,200 police officials in the state.
  5. A fund of Rs 3000 crore has been allocated for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), Rs 200 crore has also been given out for Bundelkand special provisions while Rs 800 crore for Prasad Yojna in Ayodhya-Mathura-Kashi regions.
  6. A special budget of Rs 36,000 crore has been allocated for farm loans waiver in the state. The Finance minister also announced the launch of groundwater conservation mission in this budget along with a new policy for solar power in the state.
  7. An amount of Rs 500 crore has been allocated under annual budget for preparation of ‘Ardh Kumbh’ to be held in Allahabad.
  8. Metro network expansion, construction of expressway in the state and job creation are key focus areas of the government.
  9. A special budget of Rs 3,255 crore has been allocated for construction of toilets across the state. Rs 1,000 crore funds has been announced for Swachh Bharat mission in Uttar Pradesh cities.
  10. The Uttar Pradesh government has also allocated Rs 142 crore budget for scholarship upto class 10th and Rs 50 crore for WiFi in degree colleges and universities of the state.

 These initiatives will help the state in, improving the socio-economic conditions, enhance the standard of living of the people and this will further lead help in achieving a double digit growth.

Business and Economy

News Nuggets Indian Economy (July 7, 2017)

GDP Growth- India likely to clock GDP growth of 6.9 % this fiscal, says BMI Research report – Indian economy is expected to recover in the coming quarters and the country is expected to clock a real GDP growth of 6.9% in this financial year, says a report.  According to a report by BMI Research, India’s growth is expected to pick up following the negative ramifications from the demonetisation drive in November 2016, but weak public banks will likely cap the recovery.  Real GDP growth slowed substantially to 6.1 % year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2016-17.

 Direct Tax Collection- Direct Tax Collections stands at Rs 1.42 lakh crore upto June 2017 – Direct Tax collections upto June 2017 indicate net revenue collections  of Rs. 1.42 lakh crore which is 14.8% higher than the net collections for the corresponding period last year. Till June 2017, net direct tax collections 14.5% of the budget estimates of Rs. 9.8 lakh crore for direct taxes for FY 2017-18 has been achieved.

Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2017-18-Series II– Government of India in consultation with RBI decides to issue Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2017-18– Series II – Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds 2017-18 – Series II. Applications for the bond will be accepted from July 10, 2017 to July 14, 2017. The Bonds will be issued on July 28, 2017. The Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange. 

GST facilitation cell in Ministry of Food Processing Industry– Ministry of Food Processing Industry establishes GST facilitation cell to guide industry about GST regime –  The Ministry of Food Processing Industries has established a four member GST Facilitation Cell at its office to guide the industry about the new tax regime. The members of the GST Facilitation Cell can be accessed through Toll Free No 1800111175 or on #AskonGSTFPI. Further details can be accessed from

India ranks 23 in Cyber Security Index– India ranks 23rd among 165 nations in cyber security index – India is ranked a high 23rd out of 165 nations in a global index that measures the commitment of nations across the world to cyber security. The second Global Cyber security Index (GCI), released by the UN telecommunications agency International Telecommunication Union (ITU) mentioned that only about half of all countries have a cyber security strategy or are in the process of developing one and urged more countries to consider national policies to protect against cyber crime.

GST impact on rates- Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu tweak taxes, hurt spirit of new regime – In the first week after the roll-out of the goods and services tax (GST), Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have tweaked local taxes other than those needed to be part of GST legally. While Maharashtra has raised the one-time registration tax on private two-and four-wheelers by 2%, city corporations in Tamil Nadu have imposed 30% entertainment tax over and above the GST rate levied on cinemas.

Business and Economy

Government  launches a Mobile App “GST Rates Finder”

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley launched a mobile app “GST Rates Finder” which is available on android platform and will soon be available on iOS platform as well.  This Mobile app helps users to find rates of GST for various goods and services. It can be downloaded on any smart phone and can work in offline mode, once downloaded.  The user can determine the GST rate for a good or a service by entering the name or Chapter heading of the commodity or service. The search result will list all the Goods and Services containing the name which was typed in the Search Box. The user can scroll down the list of description and when any specific item on the list is clicked, the display window will pop-up, containing details such as GST rate, description of goods or services and the Chapter heading of the Harmonised System of Nomenclature (HSN). For example, any person who has been billed by a hotel or a restaurant or for footwear can cross verify the correctness of the rate of GST charged.

 GST rate finder can be accessed on CBEC’s portal to help the taxpayers know the applicable GST rate on their supplies of goods and services. A taxpayer can search for applicable Central Goods and Services Tax  (CGST),  State Goods and Services Tax (SGST),  Union Territory Goods and Services Tax (UTGST) rate and Compensation Cess on a supply. The search can be made based on description of goods or services or HSN Chapter or section or heading number.

 These initiatives are aimed to serve as a ready reckoner on GST rates. This will empower not only the taxpayers, but every citizen of the nation, to ascertain the correct GST rate on goods and services.

Economic Development and Policies

OECD Economic Survey of India 2017

According to a new report from the OECD, the Indian economy is expanding at a fast pace, boosting living standards and reducing poverty nationwide. Further reforms are now necessary to maintain strong growth and ensure that all Indians benefit from it.

The Survey, launched  (March 1, 2017) in New Delhi by OECD Secretary-General Mr. Angel Gurria and Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India, Shri  Shaktikanta Das, hails India’s recent growth rate of more than 7% annually as the strongest among G-20 countries. It identifies priority areas for future action, including continuing plans to maintain macroeconomic stability and further reduce poverty, additional comprehensive tax reforms and new efforts to boost productivity and reduce disparities between India’s various regions.

Key findings

  • The latest OECD Economic Survey of India 2017 finds that the acceleration of structural reforms and the move toward a rule-based macroeconomic policy framework are sustaining the country’s longstanding rapid economic expansion.
  • The implementation of the landmark GST reform will contribute to making India a more integrated market. By reducing tax cascading, it will boost competitiveness, investment and job creation. The GST reform – designed to be initially revenue-neutral – should be complemented by a form of income and property taxes, the Survey said.
  • There is a need to make income and property taxes more growth-friendly and redistributive. A comprehensive tax reform could help raise revenue to finance much-needed social and physical infrastructure, promote corporate investment, enable more effective redistribution and strengthen the ability of states and municipalities to better respond to local needs, according to the Survey.
  • The OECD points out that achieving strong and balanced regional development will also be key to promoting inclusive growth. Inequality in income and in access to core public services between states and between rural and urban areas is currently large across India, while rural poverty is pervasive. Continuing efforts to improve universal access to core public services is essential.
  • Recent changes in India’s federalism model have given states more freedom and incentives to modernize regulations and tailor public policies to local circumstances. Ranking states on the ease of doing business is opening a new era of structural reforms at the state level and will help unleash India’s growth potential. Further benchmarking among states and strengthening the sharing of best practices, particularly labor regulations and land laws could add to the reform momentum.
  • Raising living standard in poorer states will require increasing productivity in the agricultural sector. With employment expected to gradually shift away from the agricultural sector, urbanization will gather pace. Thus, better urban infrastructure will be needed to fully exploit cities’ potential for job creation, productivity gains and improving the quality of life.