News 1: GST Council is a fledgling but vibrant institution, says FM
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council is still a fledgling five-year old institution that has yet to become well-settled but acts as a vibrant forum for intense interactions between the Centre and the States, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday.
The GST Council which will be a joint forum of the Centre and the States, as per Article 279A
GST Council was set up by the President as per Article 279A (1) of the Constitution. (As per Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution, the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A.)
Ex-officio secretary to GST Council: Secretary, Department of Revenue
Functions of GST Council:
The Council is tasked to make recommendations to the Union and States on the following:
The taxes, cesses and surcharges levied by the Centre, the States and the local bodies which may be subsumed under GST;
The goods and services that may be subjected to or exempted from the GST;
The date on which the GST shall be levied on petroleum crude, high speed diesel, motor spirit (commonly known as petrol), natural gas and aviation turbine fuel;
Model GST laws, principles of levy, apportionment of IGST and the principles that govern the place of supply;
The threshold limit of turnover below which the goods and services may be exempted from GST;
The rates including floor rates with bands of GST;
Any special rate or rates for a specified period to raise additional resources during any natural calamity or disaster;
Special provision with respect to the North-East States, J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand;
Any other matter relating to the GST, as the Council may decide.
News 2: Buch sees no role for SEBI in IPO pricing
SEBI has ‘no business’ suggesting IPO pricing for new-age tech companies, and it is the investment bankers who should allay any concerns around the issue, Chairperson Madhabi Puri Buch said.
In new issue market, if any company or financial corporation (issuer) issues shaes for the first time, it is called as Initial Public Offer (IPO). The issuer maybe an existing company or corporation or maybe a new startup.
Established: 1988 as non-statutory body
Type: Statutory Regulatory body in 1992 as per the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992
Objective: The basic functions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India is to protect the interests of investors in securities and to promote the development of, and to regulate the securities market and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
SEBI has to be responsive to the needs of three groups, which constitute the market:
issuers of securities
SEBI has three powers rolled into one body: quasi-legislative, quasi-judicial and quasi-executive.
News 3: 49 Armenian soldiers killed in clash
Armenia said on recently that 49 of its soldiers had been killed in the worst clashes with Azerbaijan since their war two years ago, but Russia said it had convinced the historic rivals to agree to a rapid ceasefire.
The fighting was the worst since the end of a 2020 war between the ex-Soviet republics over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region that left more than 6,500 killed on both sides.
Armenia – Azerbaijan conflict:
Nagorno-Karabakh, which has flared for many years, is located within Azerbaijan but is populated, mostly, by those of Armenian ethnicity.
The conflict is happening because of the principle of territorial integrity advocated by Azerbaijan and the principle of the right to self-determination invoked by Nagorno-Karabakh and supported by Armenia.
Significance of this region:
The energy-rich Azerbaijan has built several gas and oil pipelines across the Caucasus (the region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea) to Turkey and Europe.
In an open war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the pipelines could be targeted, which might impact energy supplies and may even lead to higher oil prices globally, ultimately threatening energy security.
Several regional and global players particularly Russia, Europe, Turkey and Iran are also involved with both countries so as to secure their strategic, security and economic interests in the region.
News 4: 384 drugs on essential medicines list
Twenty-six drugs, including the common gastrointestinal medicines ranitidine and sucralfate, have been excluded from the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2022, released on Tuesday by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.
National List of Essential Medicines:
The primary purpose of the NLEM is to promote rational use of medicines considering the three important aspects — cost, safety and efficacy.
It also helps in optimum utilisation of healthcare resources and budget; drug procurement policies; health insurance; improving prescribing habits; medical education and drafting pharmaceutical policies.
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority:
Ministry: Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers
Type: Attached office of Department of Pharmaceuticals
Objective: It is an independent Regulator for pricing of drugs and to ensure availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices.
To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO), 1995/2013 in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
To undertake and/or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/formulations.
To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps.
To collect/maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc. for bulk drugs and formulations.
To deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority.
To render advice to the Central Government on changes/revisions in the drug policy.
To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing.
News 5: India to hold G20 summit in 2023
India will hold over 200 G-20-related meetings across the country during its presidency of the grouping that will begin on December 1, 2022 and continue till November 30, 2023.
The G-20 Leaders’ Summit will be held in New Delhi on September 9 and 10 in 2023, and Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the UAE will be the “guest countries” at the event, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced on 13th September.
The G20 is a strategic multilateral platform connecting the world’s major developed and emerging economies. The G20 holds a strategic role in securing future global economic growth and prosperity.
G20 members represent more than 80 percent of world GDP, 75 percent of international trade and 60 percent of the world population.
Purpose: Bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the U.K., the U.S. and the European Union (EU).
Spain is also invited as a permanent guest.
The presidency of the G20 rotates every year among its members, with the country that holds the presidency working together with its predecessor and successor, also known as Troika, to ensure the continuity of the agenda.
India is currently part of the G-20 Troika [current, previous and incoming G20 presidencies] comprising Indonesia, Italy and India. During our Presidency, India, Indonesia and Brazil would form the troika. This would be the first time when the troika would consist of three developing countries and emerging economies.
Discussions in G20:
It will include issues related to women’s empowerment, digital public infrastructure, health, agriculture, education, culture, tourism, climate financing, circular economy, global food security, energy security, green hydrogen, disaster risk reduction and resilience, fight against economic crime and multilateral reforms.
News 6: Mukul Rohtagi sets to become Attorney General again
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi is set to become Attorney-General from October 1 for a second time. The tenure of the incumbent Attorney-General, K.K. Venugopal, is coming to a close on September 30.
Attorney General (AG):
Article 76 of the Constitution provides for the office of Attorney General in India.
AG is a part of the Union Executive and the highest law officer of the country.
AG is appointed by the President of India on the advice of the Government and holds office during the pleasure of the President.
S/he must be a person who is qualified to be appointed a judge of the Supreme Court, i.e. s/he must be a citizen of India and must have been a judge of some high court for five years or an advocate of some high court for ten years or an eminent jurist, in the opinion of the President.
Duties and Functions:
To give advice to the Government of India (GoI) upon such legal matters, which are referred to her/him by the President.
To perform such other duties of a legal character that are assigned to her/him by the President.
To appear on behalf of the GoI in all cases in the Supreme Court or in any case in any High Court in which the GoI is concerned.
To represent the GoI in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 (Power of the President to consult the Supreme Court) of the Constitution.
To discharge the functions conferred on her/him by the Constitution or any other law.
Rights and Limitations:
S/he has the right to speak and to take part in the proceedings of both the Houses of Parliament or their joint sitting and any committee of the Parliament of which s/he may be named a member, but without a right to vote.
S/he enjoys all the privileges and immunities that are available to a member of Parliament.
S/he does not fall in the category of government servants. S/he is not debarred from private legal practice.
However, s/he should not advise or hold a brief against the GoI.
News 7: The fall in natural rubber prices in India
After a moderate post-pandemic revival, the price of natural rubber (NR) has crashed to a 16-month low of ₹150 per kg (RSS grade 4) in the Indian market. The price of latex, which soared during the pandemic due to huge demand from glove makers, took a more severe drubbing with its prices rolling down below ₹120.
Position of India in production and consumption of natural rubbers:
India is currently the world’s fifth largest producer of natural rubber while it also remains the second biggest consumer of the material globally. (About 40% of India’s total natural rubber consumption is currently met through imports)
The production of the material improved by 8.4% during 2021-22 compared to the previous year.
An increase in yield, tappable area and area tapped during the year contributed to the rise in production.
On the demand side, the domestic consumption rose by 12.9%,as compared to the previous year.
The auto-tyre manufacturing sector accounted for 73.1% of the total quantity of natural rubber consumption.
Reason behind the fall of price:
Primarily due to a weak Chinese demand and the European energy crisis,
High inflation and an import glut, among other things.
Zero COVID policy of China has led to consumption of rubber by Chinese which accounts for 42% of global volume and this has led to acceleration of imports.
The domestic tyre industry, has an ample inventory, especially in the form of block rubber from the Ivory Coast and compounded rubber from the Far East.
Implication of falling price on farmers:
Plunge in prices coupled with high costs has left them in an uncertain future, forcing some farmers to stop production.
Impact is felt more in rural areas as they have no other option but to reduce expenditure which has led to sluggishness in local economy.
Falling price might trigger crop switch or fragmentation of rubber holdings.
Small and medium farmers in Kerala, which accounts for 75% of production has caused widespread panic.
Demand of farmers:
Raising the import duties on latex products and compound rubber to make it on par with natural rubber, by either 25% or ₹30 per kg, whichever is lower.
Its demands to the state government are to raise the replanting subsidy in Kerala, which remains at ₹25,000 per ha, and the support price of the crop under the price stabilisation scheme to ₹200 from ₹170.
News 9: Ramlila:
Inscribed in UNESCO’s Intangible heritage list
Ramlila, literally “Rama’s play”, is a performance of then Ramayana epic in a series of scenes that include song, narration, recital and dialogue. It is performed across northern India during the festival of Dussehra, held each year according to the ritual calendar in autumn.
The most representative Ramlilas are those of Ayodhya, Ramnagar and Benares, Vrindavan, Almora, Sattna and Madhubani. This staging of the Ramayana is based on the Ramacharitmanas, one of the most popular storytelling forms in the north of the country.
The Ramlila brings the whole population together, without distinction of caste, religion or age. All the villagers participate spontaneously, playing roles or taking part in a variety of related activities, such as mask- and costume making, and preparing make-up, effigies and lights.
News 10: India, China confirms withdrawal of troops from PP15 in Ladakh
India and China on recently carried out verification to confirm withdrawal of troops from Patrolling Point (PP) 15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area of Eastern Ladakh, marking the completion of the disengagement