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Current Affairs: 18th March 2015

Category : All, Current Affairs · by Mar 19th, 2015

1- Union Cabinet gives nod to black money bill

Union Cabinet gives nod to black money bill,Black Money,Cabinet Decisions

Union Cabinet

Union Cabinet has cleared the black money bill to curb the menace of black money in the country. Decision in this regard was taken at the cabinet meeting in New Delhi.

Union Government is seeking to introduce this bill the current budget session of Parliament.

Some provisions of bill

  • The proposed bill gives powers to tax authorities to track and deal with illegal wealth stashed abroad.
  • Under the provisions of the new Bill, the offences related to black money will be non-compoundable and the offenders will not be permitted to approach the Settlement Commission.
  • The bill also has provision of punishment to deal with the black money cases. It proposes penalty at the rate of 300 per cent of taxes to be levied on the concealed income and assets, in addition to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.

Union Cabinet also gave its nod for signing of an agreement with the US on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). The agreement will enable India to acquire information on big foreign transactions and indirectly curb black money stashing.

Apart from these decisions, Union Cabinet also approved to release of 33,000 crore rupees in tranches to states and Union Territories (UTs). These tranches will provide compensation to states and UTs for revenue loss on account of phasing out of Centre Sales Tax, CST for the three financial years up to 2012-2013.

2- Kavinder Gupta elected as J&K assembly Speaker

Kavinder Gupta elected as J&K assembly Speaker,Jammu & Kashmir

Kavinder Gupta

Kavinder Gupta on 18 March 2015 was unanimously elected as Speaker of the 12th Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

The motion to elect the speaker of assembly was moved by State Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Basharat Bukari and seconded by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Kumar Singh. Gupta was elected with voice vote as there was no one from the Opposition going against the motion. He will replace the Protem Speaker Muhammad Shafi of National Conference.

Kavinder Gupta is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Gandhinagar constituency in Jammu district.  He is the first time MLA to state assembly. In December 2014, state assembly election Gupta had defeated senior Congress leader Raman Bhalla. Earlier he also had served as Mayor of Jammu city.

3- Union Environment Ministry revokes suspension of Goa mines

Union Environment Ministry revokes suspension of Goa mines,Goa,Mining,Ministry Of Environment And Forests,Supreme CourtUnion Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has revoked 3 year-old suspension of environmental clearances (ECs) of mines in Goa. It was announced by Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.

This decision will pave the way for resumption of iron ore extraction in the state especially in 72 out of the total 89 approved mining leases. MoEF decision to lift the ban on mining was taken as per the directives of the Supreme Court (SC).

With revocation of mining suspension, state government now will decide the ore extraction limits for individual miners so that mining output does not exceed the cap of 20 million tonnes (mt) set by SC.

Background

  • In 2012, then Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had suspended ECs for 93 mining leases in Goa.
  • The ECs were suspended by her following the recommendations of report submitted by commission headed by former Supreme Court justice MB Shah.
  • The commission in its report had highlighted rampant illegal extraction of the raw material in the state. The suspension had completely halted the iron ore mining in the state.
  • In April 2014, SC had lifted this ban and had ruled that iron ore extraction in state will require clearances form MoEF and approval from the state government. The court also had set a cap of 20mt a year for all output in Goa.

4- ISRO to collaborate with other space agencies for inter-planetary explorations

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to collaborate with other space agencies on inter-planetary explorations. It was announced by Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh in the Lok Sabha.

Presently ISRO is having talks with space agencies of the United States of America, Russia and France to collaborate for inter-planetary explorations.

From this collaboration, India will acquire the knowledge to minimize the cost of launching complex missions and enhance the technological capabilities in spacecraft design. While, the expertise gained through such collaborations will help India improve its capabilities of earth observation and satellite communication.

5- France, Germany, Italy decides to join China-backed AIIB  

Three nations from European Union (EU) France, Germany and Italy have agreed to join the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) after the United Kingdom (UK) decided to join the bank. If these western nations join the bank, the total number of the bank’s member states including India will go up to 30.

It should be noted that UK was the first Western country to join the bank and also first nation to disregard the reservations expressed by the United States (US) which had raised concerns over banks transparency.

About Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

  • AIIB is an international financial institution proposed by China which seeks to provide support to infrastructure projects in Asia.
  • It is expected to be operational by the end 2015 and its headquarters will be located at Beijing.
  • The bank is also considered as China’s move to balance the power with the WB, IMF and ADB which are being controlled/dominated by the US, EU and Japan respectively.
  • The authorised capital of AIIB is US $100 bn and the initial subscribed capital is expected to be around US $50 bn. The paid-in ratio will be 20%.
  • India along with other 20 member nations were founding member of AIIB and had signed agreement in this regard in October 2014.

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