Daily Update On Current Affairs – July 01, 2017

GST: India’s biggest ever tax reform launched 

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The biggest ever tax reforms in the country’s history, Goods and Services Tax (GST) came into effect from midnight of 30th June 2017. The historic launch of GST was done at the Central Hall of Parliament where President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the new regime by pressing the button. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mukherjee said, launch of GST is a momentous occasion for the country.

GST council meets hours ahead of implementation timeline; reduces rate on fertilizers from 12 to 5% 

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The government has reduced the GST rate on fertilizers from 12 per cent to 5 per cent. The decision was taken by GST Council at its meeting in New Delhi today which was chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Briefing media after the meeting, Mr Jaitley said, the government has received several representations for reducing the tax rate on fertilizers. He said, it was felt that the previous rate could have overburdened farmers. Besides, the rate on some exclusive parts of tractors have also been slashed to 18 per cent. The Council also approved some additional set of rules regarding GST.

China condemns US sanctions over ‘North Korea funding’ 

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China has reacted angrily to a US decision to impose sanctions on a Chinese bank accused of laundering North Korean money. A foreign ministry spokesman urged the US to stop wrongful actions to avoid harming co-operation. The US announced the move, as well as sanctions on a Chinese shipping company and two Chinese nationals yesterday. It said the blacklisting was aimed at cutting funds to North Korea’s weapons programmes. The sanctions mean that the Bank of Dandong will be barred from doing business in the US.

Ankit Kawatra bags Queen’s Young Leaders Award for 2017

gst, narendra modi, current affairs, good service taxAnti-hunger activist Ankit Kawatra has been awarded the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for 2017 by Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony in the Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s Young Leaders Award recognizes exceptional work towards solving hunger and malnutrition in India. Ankit Kawatra is the founder of Feeding India, an organisation which works towards eradicating hunger and food wastage in India. The organisation which was established in 2014 functions across 43 Indian cities with the help of 4,500 volunteers serving 8 million meals to the needy.

Money Parked by Indians in Swiss banks hit record low 

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According to the data released by Zurich-based SNB, money parked by Indians in Swiss banks have nearly halved to 676 Swiss francs (about Rs. 4,500 crore) in 2016. The data release comes ahead of a new framework for the automatic exchange of information between Switzerland and India to check the menace of black money.  SNB (Swiss National Bank) is Switzerland’s central banking authority. During 2016, the total money held by Indians fell by 45 % to stand at CHF 675.75 million. This is the biggest ever yearly decline in such funds. Out of the total funds, CHF 377 million was in the form of customer deposits, about CHF 98 million is owed to Indians through other banks and CHF 190 million constitutes other ‘liabilities’. The funds reported in 2016 is the lowest amount of funds possessed by Indians in the Swiss banks ever since 1987 and marks the third straight year of decline. Apart from this year, since 1987, the earlier lowest ever figure was recorded in 1995 at CHF 723 million.

US to sell C-17 Globemaster Transport Aircraft to India 

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US has decided to sell one C-17 transport aircraft to India. US and India have built a close defence relationship in recent years. The US along with Russia and Israel has emerged as a top three arms supplier to India. The sale of USD 366.2 million C-17 transport aircraft manufactured by Boeing also includes one Missile Warning System, one Countermeasures Dispensing System, one Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Transponder and precision navigation equipment. This proposed sale is expected to improve the capability of India to meet current and future strategic airlift requirements as the country lies in a region prone to natural disasters. It will also provide additional capability for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. In addition, India will be able to provide more rapid strategic combat airlift capabilities for its armed forces.

Govt lowers interest rate by 0.1 % on small saving schemes for July-Sep quarter 

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Government has lowered interest rate on small saving schemes by 0.1 per cent for the July- September quarter. The move will prompt banks to lower deposit rates. The rates of small saving schemes like PPF, Kisan Vikas Patra and Sukanya Samriddhi have been lowered across the board compared to the April-June quarter. Since April last year, interest rates of all small saving schemes have been recalibrated on a quarterly basis. A finance ministry notification said, investments in the public provident fund (PPF) scheme will fetch lower annual rate of 7.8 per cent. Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) investments will yield 7.5 per cent and mature in 115 months.

Growth of eight core sectors slowed to 3.6 % in May 

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The growth of eight core sectors slowed to 3.6 per cent in May this year due to fall in output of coal and fertilizers. The growth rate of eight infrastructure sectors including coal, crude oil, fertilizer, steel, cement and electricity was 5.2 per cent in May last year. According to data released by Ministry of Commerce and Industry, coal and fertilizer productions recorded negative growth of 3.3 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively. Steel sector growth dipped to 3.7 per cent last month as against 13.4 per cent in May 2016.

ADB commits 10 billion USD to support development of States in India 

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The Asian Development Bank has committed 10 billion USD to support infrastructure building and to cater to the immediate development needs of less-developed States in India. This has been stated by ADB President Takehiko Nakao during his 3-day visit to India. The ADB president has said that the bank is ready to meet immediate critical infrastructure needs of less developed states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh over a period of five years. ADB has also assured its support to relatively lesser developed states in the area of power, transport, urban development, and health services.

Asset quality, profitability of banks continue to deteriorate: RBI

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While India’s financial system remains stable, concerns over banks’ asset quality remain, according to the Reserve Bank of India in its latest Financial Stability Report (FSR). The report said the banking stability indicator (BSI) worsened between September 2016 and March 2017 due to a deterioration in asset quality and profitability. The indicator represents the five dimensions of soundness, asset-quality, profitability, liquidity and efficiency. In its previous report, which was released in December 2016, the BSI had similarly flagged the elevated risks to the banking sector (in the March and September 2016 period) due to continuous deterioration in asset quality, low profitability and liquidity.

NASA launches Rocket to produce Colourful Artificial Clouds

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The NASA has successfully launched Terrier- Improved Malemute sounding rocket that created colourful artificial clouds visible in the skies of the US. The rocket was launched from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rocket during the 8-minute flight had released 10 canisters about the size of a soft drink into space. It was ejected about 9 to 19 kilometers away from the 300-kg main payload.

SIERRA ODC building in Coimbatore receives World’s Second Highest Green Rating 

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SIERRA ODC building has been recognised as the world’s second highest ranking Green Building. The building has scored 103 points out of 110 under LEED certification. The SIERRA ODC is a three-storeyed building which has been constructed by laying specific emphasis on increasing the efficiency of resource use such as energy, water or materials. The building has managed water use efficiency of 89% by using water saving fixtures and curbing wastage. In the building, water is recycled 100%.

Narendra Kumar Sinha assumes charge as I&B Secretary

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Narendra Kumar Sinha, a 1980 batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre, on Friday assumed charge as the Information and Broadcasting Secretary. He will take charge in place of Ajay Mittal, who has been appointed as the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training. Prior to this appointment, Mr Sinha was Secretary, Ministry of Culture. During a career span of more than 35 years, Mr Sinha has held various field postings and has worked from grassroots to the higher levels of governance in both State and Central Governments. 
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