Composition scheme for GST

The advisory group set up to suggest changes to the GST Act recently deliberated on how to expand the scope of the composition scheme as well as rationalise the reverse charge mechanism process.

About the Composition scheme:


The composition scheme is an alternative method of levy of tax designed for small taxpayers whose turnover is up to Rs 1 crore-Rs 50 lakh in the case of eight north-eastern states and the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh.

The objective behind it is to bring simplicity and reduce the compliance cost for small taxpayers.

While a regular taxpayer has to pay taxes on a monthly basis, a composition supplier is required to file only one return and pay taxes on a quarterly basis.

Also, a composition taxpayer is not required to keep detailed records that a normal taxpayer is supposed to maintain.

Key facts:

  • The scheme is optional under which manufacturers other than those of ice cream, pan masala and tobacco products have to pay a 2% tax on their annual turnover. The tax rate is 5% for restaurant services and 1% for traders.
  • As per the Central GST Act, businesses are eligible to opt for the composition scheme if a person is not engaged in any inter-state outward supplies of goods and not into making any supply of goods through an electronic commerce operator who is required to collect tax at source.
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India slips to 7th position in business optimism ranking: Grant Thornton survey

India has slipped to the 7th position this quarter in business optimism ranking in Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) survey. Last quarter, India was ranked second in the survey.

The survey was conducted in September before the government had announced its major reforms like bank recapitalization and infrastructure investments among others. The sample size of the survey is 2,500 businesses spread across 37 economies.

India has also slipped from its 1st position last quarter to 8th position this time in terms of revenue expectations. Businesses have expressed low confidence over expected revenue in the next twelve months with 75 percent respondents hoping for an increase in the revenue.

In terms of profitability, confidence has dropped with only 54 percent respondents showing optimism as against 69 percent in the last quarter.
Besides these, slight fall was also visible in expectation for an increase in selling prices and exports. The confidence for selling prices to increase has dropped to 5th position from the 4th, with only 47 percent businesses showing optimism. The optimism for exports to increase has dropped to 8th from the 6th, with only 31 percent confident about the increase in exports.

The survey said that India’s biggest growth constraints are citing regulations, red tape and lack of Information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure. For Indian businesses shortage of finance and lack of skilled labour are the major disadvantages.

 

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Andaman’s new taste is sweet-and-sour

Edible wild banana species discovered, the second such on the island in two years.

Botanists in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been quietly going bananas. And it is not their fault, for the islands are a biodiversity hotspot that hosts seven different species of wild banana that we know of, not to mention numerous, as yet undocumented, others.

The latest discovery, published in the Nordic Journal of Botany, is of a species of wild banana named Musa paramjitiana, in honour of Paramjit Singh, who happens to be the director of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI). The species was found in North Andaman’s Krishnapuri forest, 6 kilometres from any human habitation.

The plant grows to a height of nine metres and bears an edible, sweet-and-sour tasting fruit that is boat-shaped and has numerous bulb-shaped seeds. Its conservation status has been declared as ‘Critically Endangered’ as it has so far been spotted in only two locations on the islands, each with 6 to 18 plants in a clump.

According to Mr Lal Ji Singh(a BSI scientist),who made the discovery, the fruit is part of the diet of local tribes. “The fruits and seeds have ethnomedicinal importance. Pseudo-stem and leaves of these species are also used during religious and cultural ceremonies,”

“These discoveries present a great opportunity for plant breeders and horticulture experts to improve the existing banana crop. The germplasm of all the wild banana species needs to be conserved on an urgent basis since most of these are found in very small habitats and at risk of extinction,”
In 2014, he discovered Musa indandamanensis, another wild banana, in a remote tropical rainforest on the Little Andaman island. It has dark green cylindrical flower buds.

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New ant species discovered in the Western Ghats

Researchers have discovered a new species of ant in the Western Ghats, recognised as one of the world’s ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity.
The new species was found in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The research, published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa, was undertaken by Kalesh Sadasivan and Manoj Kripakaran, members of the non-governmental organisation Travancore Natural History Society’s Ant Research Group.

Belonging to Tyrannomyrmex, a rare tropical genus of ants, the species was discovered by the team from the Vallakadavu range during an expedition a year ago. Paying tribute to their mentor and eminent myrmecologist Musthak Ali, who is regarded as the country’s ‘ant man’, the authors of the study have named the new species Tyrannomyrmex alii (or T. alii) Sadasivan and Kripakaran 2017.

According to Dr Sadasivan, Tyrannomyrmex is a rare myrmicine (subfamily of ants) ant genus that is distributed in the Indomalayan bio-region that extends from southern India and Sri Lanka to Southeast Asia.

The particular genus had been erected in 2003 with the discovery of the species, Tyrannomyrmex rex Fernández, in Pasoh Forest Reserve, Malaysia. Later, two more species that were under the same genus had been discovered; Tyrannomyrmex dux (or T. dux) from the Ponmudi hills in 2007 and T. legatus from the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka in 2013. T. alli has thus become the four species of the rare genus and the second one from India. Notably, both of the Tyrannomyrmex species that have been described from the country are known from the Western Ghats range in Kerala.

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Chennai gets Unesco recognition for music

Chennai often called the cultural capital of South India, joined the elite club of world cities on Tuesday when it was included in Creative Cities Network of Unesco for its contributions to music.

The city joins two other cities in India – Jaipur and Varanasi – to have figured in the prestigious list for their contributions to music and folk arts. The dossier to nominate Chennai for the CCN was submitted a few months back to the Unesco by the Union Culture Ministry.

Once a city is included on the list, it holds cultural events for four years to highlight its USP and this is monitored by the Unesco. CCN currently has 116 member cities from 54 countries, covering various fields.

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Grahak Sadak Koyla Vitaran App

Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Railways & Coal has launched ‘Grahak Sadak Koyla Vitaran App’ benefitting customers of Coal India Limited (CIL) lifting coal through road mode.

The customer-friendly app, launched recently in Kolkata on CIL’s Foundation Day, helps achieve transparency in despatch operations, as a tool to monitor, whether the despatches are made on the fair principle of ‘First in First Out’ and keeps track of all the activities from issuance of Sale Order to physical delivery of coal by road.

The main benefits of the App for the customers, against the Sale Orders issued, include easy accessibility of the information at the click of the button, apart from transparency in the system of loading programme and despatch. The app also helps in logistics planning for the lifting of coal in tune with the loading programmes. It further helps in improved planning of procurement, production and stock management by the customers.

The main features of the app are that it provides date-wise, truck-wise quantity of coal delivered against the Sale Orders and information related to Scheme-wise, Colliery-wise, Grade-wise, customer-wise details of Sale Orders issued during a period.

In terms of loading it provides allotment verses lifting status in details from different sources truck by truck and summary of the despatch.

Coal India is addressing its customer needs in a big way and made ‘ease of doing business’ a major consumer commitment. The launching of the app is also one of the initiatives of CIL towards achieving the much cherished goal of ‘Digital India’ and transparency.

It may be recalled that CIL in a move to rush more coal to power stations, coal supplies to plants located in shorter distances have been offered through road mode from available pithead stock. As a result, power plants located within 50 Kms to 60 Kms from the mines may take as much coal from the nearest mines as they can.

During 2016-17 despatch of coal through road mode had been about 140 Million Tonnes (MTs) out of the total despatch of 542 MTs by CIL accounting for 26%. The impetus given in the current fiscal has improved movement of coal through road considerably. As of end of October 2017 the movement of coal through road mode at a little over 93 MTs accounted for 29% of the total coal despatch of 317 MTs.The road despatch during the current fiscal till October 2017 went up by 12 MTs compared to same period last fiscal.

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IBBI tightens rules on rescue plan approvals

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has amended its Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process Regulations to ensure that as part of due diligence, prior to approval of a Resolution Plan, the antecedents, creditworthiness and credibility of a Resolution Applicant, including promoters, are taken into account by the Committee of Creditors.

This move is aimed at ensuring that the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process results in a credible and viable Resolution Plan.

About IBBI:

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India was set up on 1st October 2016 under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code). It is a unique regulator: regulates a profession as well as transactions.

Functions:

It has regulatory oversight over the Insolvency Professionals, Insolvency Professional Agencies and Information Utilities.

It writes and enforces rules for transactions, namely, corporate insolvency resolution, corporate liquidation, individual insolvency resolution and individual bankruptcy under the Code.

It is a key pillar of the ecosystem responsible for implementation of the Code that consolidates and amends the laws relating to reorganization and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals.

This is done in a time bound manner for maximization of the value of assets of such persons, to promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit and balance the interests of all the stakeholders.

The organizational structure of IBBI:

The IBBI has a ten-member board including a Chairman. It has:

  • One Chairperson.
  • Three members of Central Government offices not below the rank of Joint Secretary or equivalent.
  • One nominated member from the RBI.
  • Five members nominated by the Central Government; of these, three shall be whole-time members.
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SHe-Box for Online Complaints of Sexual Harassment

WCD Minister Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi launched a comprehensive SHe-Box online complaint Management System for women working in both public and private organizations to lodge complaints of sexual harassment at workplace.

The SHe-Box was launched in New Delhi to ensure the effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013.

The new SHe-Box portal offers the facility of making online complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace to all women employees in the country including government and private employees. Those who have already filed a written complaint with the concerned Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) or Local Complaint Committee (LCC) constituted under the SH Act are also eligible to file their complaint through this portal.

WCD Ministry has also produced a manual and has organized training programmes for Internal Complaint Committees and in the next significant step, the SHe-Box has been launched to provide a platform to aggrieved women to make their complaints directly so that suitable action is taken to redress their grievances.

SHe-Box portal is an effort to provide a speedier remedy to women facing sexual harassment at workplace. Once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the ICC/LCC of the concerned employer. Through this portal, WCD, as well as complainant, can monitor the progress of inquiry conducted by the ICC/LCC. This is a proactive step taken by MWCD in the wake of the worldwide social media campaign #MeToo, where women have related their experience of facing sexual harassment and abuse. The portal can be accessed at the link given below:

Link to the SHe-Box portal: http://shebox.nic.in/

Users of SHe-Box also have the option of interacting with Ministry of WCD through this portal, with an assured time-bound response. The portal also provides information on 112 institutions empanelled by MWCD to conduct training/workshops on the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace. It also has the option for resource persons and institutions willing to contribute to training on this subject in various organisations to submit their applications. SHe-Box will provide a platform to these empanelled institutes/organisations to share their capacity building activities with the Ministry which in turn will be able to monitor the activities of these institutes/organizations so empanelled from across the country.

The Ministry has published a Handbook and Training Module on the SH Act to provide information about the provisions of the Act in easy to use practical manner. The private organizations are encouraged to customize the Training Module as per their extant service rules and disciplinary procedures prescribed therein.

Ensuring the dignity and safety of women must be the first priority for any digital society. Towards realization of the vision of the Digital India programme, the Ministry is promoting utilisation of information and communication technology to achieve the goal of gender equality and women empowerment. It is an effort to utilise the digital space to enable speedier response to the complaints of women against sexual harassment at workplace.

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Proxima Centauri may host planetary system

Scientists have detected dust belts around Proxima Centauri, a finding that indicates the presence of an elaborate planetary system hosted by the closest star to the solar system.

New observations by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA)

Observatory in Chile revealed the glow coming from cold dust in a region between one to four times as far from Proxima Centauri as the Earth is from the Sun.

The data also hints at the presence of an even cooler outer dust belt and may indicate the presence of a system of planets. These structures are similar to the much larger belts in the solar system and are also expected to be made from particles of rock and ice that failed to form planets.

Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the Sun. It is a faint red dwarf lying just four light-years away in the southern constellation of Centaurus.

It is orbited by the Earth-sized temperate world Proxima b, discovered in 2016 and the closest exoplanet to the solar system. However, there is more to this system than just a single planet.

The new ALMA observations reveal emission from clouds of cold cosmic dust surrounding the star.

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Banaganapalle mangoes, six others get GI tag

Famous Banaganapalle mangoes of Andhra Pradesh and Tulapanji rice of West Bengal are among the seven commodities that have been granted Geographical Indications this fiscal year by the Indian patent office.

A Geographical Indication (GI) is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.

Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.

Darjeeling Tea, Tirupathi Laddu, Kangra Paintings, Nagpur Orange and Kashmir Pashmina are among the registered GIs in India.

The other five products which have received this tag this year include Pochampally Ikat of Telangana; Gobindobhog Rice of West Bengal; Durgi Stone Carvings and Etikoppaka Toys of Andhra Pradesh; and Chakshesang Shawl of Nagaland, according to the Indian patent office website.

In 2016-17, as many as 33 items got GI registration.

Experts said award of GI tag gives protection to the producer of those genuine products, which commands premium pricing in the markets both domestic and international.

About GI tag:

What is it?: A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.

The significance of a GI tag: Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.

Security: Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.

Examples: Darjeeling tea, Tirupati laddu, Kangra paintings, Nagpur orange and Kashmir pashmina are among the registered GIs in India.

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