News in Numbers, Nov 14, 2016: What’s the limit?

Rs 2,500

What is it? The cash withdrawal limit at ATMs per day, up from Rs 2,000, as per a government notification.

Why is it important? One of the consequences of the shock announcement of withdrawal of old currency notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday has been the long queues outside bank branches and ATMs where people have been standing for hours to exchange their old notes for new ones. The government’s apparent lack of preparedness at dealing with the move’s aftermath has been criticised and there have been instances of daily wage labourers losing out on their livelihoods, low-income workers struggling to get their hands on cash due to not having bank accounts or means/awareness to transact digitally.

Tell me more: After a review by the Finance Ministry, the limit of old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 that can be exchanged with new notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 has been increased from Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 per day. The weekly limit of withdrawal from bank accounts has been hiked to Rs 24,000 from Rs 20,000 and the limit of Rs 10,000 has been removed.

2,000

What is it? The approximate number of companies that had contended the right of states to impose entry tax (levy on movement of goods from one state to another).

Why is it important? The Supreme Court on Friday ruled against these companies and upheld states’ rights to levy entry tax and said that this did not violate the principles of free trade. According to estimates, companies would have to reportedly pay Rs 30,000-Rs 35,000 crore in entry tax to states. The government is trying to roll out the Goods and Services Tax, which is to subsume all indirect taxes(including the entry tax) in the country, by April 1, 2017 but this could be delayed by another six months.

Tell me more: Companies including the Jindal Group, Vedanta, Tata Steel and Steel Authority of India had argued that the imposition of the entry tax by states on the movement of goods into their respective territories was against the right to freedom of trade and commerce in India, which is guaranteed under Article 301 of the constitution.

 

6

What is it? The number of years of negotiations to arrive at a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between India and Japan signed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Japan.

Why is it important? This would help India buy nuclear technology from Japan and for Japan, it is its first civilian nuclear pact cooperation with a country (India) that has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, this exception has been made by Japan reportedly due to a separate note that says that it would suspend nuclear cooperation with India if it conducts a nuclear test though unnamed Indian officials have insisted that this is not legally bindingbut only included keeping in mind “Japanese sensitivities”. This has raised apprehensions that this may lead to re-negotiations with other countries with whom India has signed nuclear pacts to insert similar clauses.

Tell me more: Another clause in the note reportedly says that if Japan scraps the deal in the event of India conducting a nuclear test, the latter cannot ask for compensation for disruption of electricity from a nuclear plant or for the resultant economic losses. Japan is the only country to have suffered the impact of nuclear weapons being dropped on it and therefore, has been uncomfortable signing such a pact with India, which is outside the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

 

0.2%

What is it? The expected increase in global carbon emissions above the 2015 levels from fossil fuels and industry in 2016, according to a study.

Why is it important? This is the third straight year with an almost flat growth rate and a significant decline from the 3% recorded in the 2000s. One of the main reasons for this could be attributed to a decline in emissions by China and the US, the two largest emitters. Emissions by China and the US are expected to decrease by 0.5% (from 0.7% in 2015) and 17% (2.5% in 2015) this year respectively. However, researchers said it is too early to say whether this is a temporary blip or the making of a long-term trend.

Tell me more: India’s emissions, which were growing by 6% per annum over the last decade, slowed down to 5% in 2015 and such levels are expected to continue as it expects to double its coal production by 2020.

 

$40.85 billion

What is it? Asset sales by Indian companies pending or completed in 2016.

Why is it important? This is the highest-ever asset sales by companies since liberalisation in 1991 and around 46% higher than the previous high of $27.96 billion recorded in 2007. This could be one of the main reasons for why private investment has been muted in the recent past. While the 2007 asset sales were due to investors wanting a bigger pie of India’s growth story (its economy grew by 9% or more between 2005-06 and 2007-08), 2016’s is due to the high debt levels of corporates.

Tell me more: Some of the deals in 2016 include: sale of controlling stake in Essar Oil to Russia’s Rosneft and its partners for nearly $13 billion and sale of Jaypee Group’s cement assets to Aditya Birla-controlled UltraTech Cement for around $2.4 billion.

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