Daily Current Affairs for Competitive Exams: January 9, 2017

9 Jan, 2017

Pravasi Bhartiya Divas 2017

The 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) or Non-Resident Indian (NRI) day got off to a colourful start in Bengaluru on January 7, 2017, with the young Indian diaspora from across the world connecting with their motherland and discovering its wonders. 

Highlights:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will officially inaugurated the event on January 8, 2016, and deliver the keynote address in the presence of Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa as the chief guest.
  • PBD is Celebrated every alternate year since 2015 in the second week of January, the biennial event commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa on January 9, 1915 and provides a common forum for addressing issues concerning the Diaspora, especially NRIs and PIOs.
  • Other Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar, Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javedkar, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers H.N. Ananth Kumar and Niti Ayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant are among those who will address the gathering at the plenary sessions.

Anti-Avoidance rule to kick in from Aril 2017

Tax anti-avoidance rule GAAR will kick in from April 1, 2017, the tax department said. In its 2016 year-end review, the Central Board of Direct Taxes, which is the apex policy making body of the I-T department, listed its major achievements.

Highlights: 

  • Major achievements of CBDT in the current financial year 2016-17 so far include, among others, Enactment of The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, Implementation of The Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2016 and of GAAR from Assessment Year 2018-19".
  • In May last year, CBDT had started consultation with stakeholders asking them to give their views where they require clarity before GAAR is implemented.
  • General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) was part of the 2012-13 Budget speech of the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to check tax evasion and avoidance.
  • However, its implementation was repeatedly postponed because of the apprehensions expressed by foreign investors.
  • GAAR, which was originally to be implemented from April 1, 2014, will now come into effect from April 1, 2017 (Assessment Year 2018-19).
  • It contains provision allowing the government to prospectively tax overseas deals involving local assets.
  • There have been fears that the government may use it to target P-Notes. Through the use of GAAR, government may try to tax P-Notes as indirect investments, which could attract a tax rate of up to 15 per cent, experts say.
  • To avoid tax altogether under GAAR, an investor may have to prove that P-Notes were not set up specifically to avoid paying taxes.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in his Budget speech in 2015, deferred GAAR implementation by two years and also said that the investments made up to March 31, 2017 shall not be subjected to GAAR, which was to be applied on those claiming tax benefit of over Rs 3 crore.

China emerges as global clean energy leader

China's overseas investment in renewable energy projects jumped last year by 60 per cent to a record USD 32 billion, marking its leadership in the global market for clean energy, a report said. In 2016, China finalised 11 foreign deals worth more than a billion dollars each, and is expected to pick up the pace this year, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). 

Highlights:

  • China announced that it would sink at least USD 361 billion into renewables by 2020, key to the country's transition away from polluting coal power.
  • Overseas investments last year ranged from lithium battery makers in Australia and Chile to an electricity distribution deal in Brazil and the building of a solar cell factory in Vietnam.
  • China now owns five of the six largest solar module manufacturing firms in the world, according to the report.
  • The US is already slipping well behind China in the race to secure a larger share of the booming clean energy market.
  • In 2016, China boosted its overseas influence by establishing the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. It is also funnelling billions into the New Development Bank, set up by the BRICS nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

India and Portugal sign 7 pacts

India and Portugal inked seven pacts to expand bilateral engagement in a wide range of areas including defence and security, IT and renewable energy even as they took a veiled dig at China for blocking New Delhi's move at the UN to list JeM Chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. 

Highlights:

  • Both agreed to deepen the ties, also called for tough global action against terror networks and States harbouring them stressing that there should not be any double standards in combating terrorism.
  • Recognising the importance of the Central role of UN in combating terrorism, they exhorted the international community to effectively implement the measures enumerated by the 1267 UN Sanctions Committee.
  • On December 30, China had blocked India's move to list Pakistan-based Azhar as a global terrorist, at the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council. China was the only member on the 15-nation Committee to have opposed India's move.
  • The joint statement said both sides called for strengthening cooperation in combating terrorism in a spirit of 'zero tolerance', underlining that States should not support any terror entity including 'non-State actors' on any grounds.
  • The two leaders also called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and sought adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN.
  • The MoU on defence envisages cooperation meeting security challenges, including in the maritime domain and defence industries.

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