News in Numbers, July 28, 2016: Some changes in GST Bill approved, ACs’ energy efficiency…

$1 billion

What is it? The size of the deal India has signed with US defence and aerospace major Boeing for buying four additional ‘Poseidon-8l’ long-range maritime patrol aircraft.

Why is it important? This would strengthen India’s naval surveillance capabilities at a time when Chinese nuclear and conventional submarines have been making frequent trips in the Indian Ocean region. The Asian giant has been keen on developing a number of ports around India and developing a military logistics base in Djibouti, a tiny African nation.

Tell me more: It would also have the capabilities of dropping and monitoring sonobuoys (to detect underwater sounds and transmit them by radio), which is currently being used to look for the missing AN-32 plane of the Indian Air Force. The first of the four will be delivered in 50 months.

 

241

What is it? The number of infrastructure projects worth Rs 150 crore or more that have reported cost overruns, as per a May report by the government.

Why is it important? These projects have resulted in cost overruns of Rs 1.59 lakh crore, which is 12.5% of the original cumulative cost of the 1,076 projects monitored in May. Highlights the need for speedy implementation of projects even as the government tries to strengthen the economy, which is likely to touch 8% next year (according to estimates by Nomura). Private spending has not yet picked up, putting the burden on the government to do the job.

Tell me more: Of the 1,076 projects, less than a third (30.7%) of the projects reported time overruns. The percentage of projects that have reported cost and time overruns have marginally decreased to 22.4% (from 22.7% in April) and 30.67% (from 30.73% in April) respectively, in May.

 

1%

What is it? The additional tax on inter-state sales as proposed in the earlier version of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Constitution Amendment Bill, which has now been done away with.

Why is it important? This is one among the few other changes approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday, which is likely to better the bill’s chances of being passed in the Rajya Sabha this monsoon session. With this, the government has met one of the three key demands of the Congress, which has 60 seats in the Upper House. The NDA has 72 seats in the Rajya Sabha and has managed to get the support for the bill from various regional parties that have a cumulative 63 seats – it requires the support of 163 members to pass the legislation in this House.

Tell me more: If the government is able to get the bill (which already received the Lok Sabha’s approval last year) passed in the Rajya Sabha this monsoon session, it can meet its deadline of rolling out the unified tax by April 1, 2017. Other changes approved by the Cabinet include compensating the states for any revenue loss in the first five years of rolling out GST and that the Bill will mention that any dispute would be settled by the GST Council (with representation both from the central and state governments).

 

Rs 27 crore

What is it? The fine imposed by the Reserve Bank of India on 13 banks for violating Foreign Exchange Exchange Management Act (FEMA), Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering provisions and norms.

Why is it important? Highlights the extent of violations across private and public sector banks, some of them serious in nature. This is a result of raids across branches (including those of Bank of Baroda and HDFC Bank) that were conducted as part of the investigations into a Rs 6,100-crore foreign exchange scam unearthed at Bank of Baroda last year. In this case, bank employees had allegedly collaborated with some people to transfer funds to accounts in Hong Kong and the UAE for import transactions that never took place.

Tell me more: The banks that have attracted penalty include Allahabad Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda, HDFC Bank, Bank of India and Punjab National Bank. Eight others including Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and the State Bank of India have been asked to take appropriate measures to ensure strict compliance of KYC norms and FEMA provisions, and review them periodically.

 

40 degree Celsius

What is it? The temperature above which a 5-star rated air conditioner (AC) starts performing like a 2-star rated AC, according to a study.

Why is it important? This could be one main reason for the inappropriately high electricity bills during summer months in many households. A 5-star AC is supposed to save 20-22% of the energy costs when compared to a 1-star appliance (according to the Bureau of Energy Efficiency) but this study says that when temperatures shoot up to 40-45 degree Celsius, a 5-star AC can start consuming 10-28% more power than the declared capacity. Some of the metros such as Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad had crossed 40 degree Celsius this summer.  At above 45 degree Celsius, it becomes worse than a 1-star rated AC.

Tell me more: The study by the Centre for Science and Environment says energy efficiency of ACs decrease when the room temperature is lowered below 27 degree Celsius. It also points out that the cooling capacity of a room decreases by around 30% during peak summers when a 1.5-tonne AC starts behaving like a 1-tonne AC.

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News in numbers, Nov 10, 2015: OECD’s India GDP forecast, global warming impact on India…

 

7.2%

What is it? The growth estimate for the Indian economy in the current financial year by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based economic organization

Why is it important? This has remain unchanged from its September forecast. However, OECD has said despite having relatively better growth prospects, the delay in passing key structural reforms and the rising bad loans are the main impediments. It remains to be seen if the Parliament would pass key bills such as the GST Bill, Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008 the Coal Regulatory Authority Bill, 2013 and the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 as the BJP needs to rely on the Congress in the Rajya Sabha for its support to push through these bills.

Tell me more: OECD estimates for India’s economic growth is 7.3% in 2016-17 and 7.4% in 2017-18.

 

Rs 40,000 crore

What is it? The size of two contracts the Indian Railways has awarded to US-based General Electric Company (GE), and French multinational Alstom for setting up diesel and electric locomotive factories in Bihar. Only the first project was officially announced on Monday.

Why is it important? The first big foreign direct investments in the railways sector in India. This would bolster indigenous production backed by the latest technology, help the Indian Railways improve its infrastructure and provide employment opportunities by giving rise to ancillary industries. Under the agreement, GE and Alstom would supply 1,000 diesel locomotives and 800 electric locomotives in 10 years. Railways had 5,633 diesel and 4,568 electric locomotives at the end of March 2014.

Tell me more: Though both the projects were approved in 2007 by the then Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav but were mired in controversy and bureaucratic red tape. The Indian Railways (26% stake) and the foreign companies (74% stake) would form joint venture companies to construct and run the diesel and electric locomotive factories.

 

Rs 31.2

What is it? The central and excise duties’ components in the retail price of a litre of petrol at Rs 60.7 in Delhi. This is Rs 6.45 higher than the cost of producing a litre of petrol at the refineries based on the average cost of gasoline and the foreign exchange rate in the second half of October.

Why is it important? Shows the relative inflexibility of taxes as crude prices move up and down. To protect tax revenue as oil prices dropped sharply, government moved away from ad-valorem (tax as percentage of price) to a tax per litre. This means customers will not fully benefit from fall in oil prices. Both central and state governments are expected to earn around Rs 80,000 crore by taxing petroleum products this fiscal.

Tell me more: Central government hiked excise duty for the fifth time in a year. The previous four hikes were made between November 2014 and January 2015 and resulted in additional revenue of Rs 20,000 crore for the government in the 2014-15.

 

8 billion

What is it? The value of the order for 75 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft placed by Jet Airways at list price, though aircraft manufacturers usually sell aircraft below the list price.

Why is it important? This is the largest ever aircraft deal for the Naresh Goyal-founded airlines and large orders usually get a good discount. This deal is seen to be good for Jet Airways in terms of upping its game in the fiercely competitive industry, though the delivery of the aircraft would begin from mid-2018. The new aircraft is said to be fuel efficient, which uses 20% less fuel than the first Next-Generation 737s and has the lowest operating costs in its class at 8% per seat less than its nearest competitor, according to Boeing. This is significant because jet fuel accounts for 45-55% of an airline’s revenue in India.

Tell me more: Jet Airways currently has 115 aircraft with an average age of 6.04 years. The second biggest airline (in terms of passengers carried) posted its biggest standalone quarterly profit in the first quarter of 2015-16 for the first time in nearly nine years.

 

55 million

What is it? Number of people in India who would be endangered if the global temperature rises by 4°C, according to a report by Climate Central, a US-based research organisation. This is about 4.4% of India’s current population.

Why is it important? Carbon emissions would cause warming, which in turn would lead to rise in sea levels that could submerge land, causing danger to the inhabitants. Though India is the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter, the government says its historical cumulative emission is below 3% currently. All the countries, especially the advanced economies have to keep up their commitments of keeping the earth’s average temperature from rising beyond 2°C, a widely accepted benchmark for preventing further damage due to global warming.

Tell me more: A 4°C rise in temperature could submerge land inhabited by 470-760 million people. However, if countries are able to contain carbon emissions resulting in 2°C warming, then the number of people who could be affected could be brought down to 130 million.

 

 

 

 

 

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News In Numbers – August 18

News In Numbers: August 18

 

211 vs 175

India’s largest airlines by market share, IndiGo, has placed an order to purchase 250 Airbus A320neo aircraft, in a deal worth $26.55 billion at list prices. This is the largest-ever order for Airbus in terms of number of planes. The IndiGo order will help Airbus open its lead over rival Boeing in the Indian market. Data from the aviation regulator shows Airbus had 211 aircraft in operation in India, against Boeing’s 175. Globally, though, with revenues of $233 billion in 2014, Boeing was bigger in size than Airbus ($175 billion), primarily because the former’s sales include bigger and more expensive airplanes.

 

Rs 7,957 crore

The extent to which power distribution companies in Delhi reportedly overstated accumulated losses over the years. The estimate has been arrived at by the auditor to the government in a forthcoming report. If true, the report is a major boost to the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, which made high power charges in the national capital one of the main points in its electoral campaign. The report gives room to the AAP government to press for a reduction in power rates. According to the report, the three discoms, two from the Anil Ambani Group and one from the Tata Group, bought costly power, ‘suppressed’ revenue and gave undue favours to group firms.

 

$75 billion

The amount the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has committed to invest in India as part of an infrastructure fund created by the two countries. This fund seeks to invest and expand India’s network of railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors. The two countries also plan to increase their trade by 60% in the next five years. India received $239 million as foreign direct investment (FDI) from the UAE in 2013-14, and $1.31 billion between 2009-10 and 2013-14. India received $34 billion as FDI in 2014.

 

2

The number of verticals that are reportedly being created by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) to implement the proposed Goods and Services (GST) Bill. Besides these two verticals (one for performance management and the other for taxpayer services), there are various sub-groups working under the CBEC, and state officials are working on the law and procedures. The GST Bill, which is supposed to merge all central and state taxes into a single tax rate, was passed by the Lok Sabha but not by the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA is in a minority. A few media reports, quoting anonymous sources, say the government is considering a special session of Parliament in September to pass the GST Bill.

 

Rs 143 crore

The Supreme Court has asked the Central government to update it about the three-member committee it had asked to constitute to ensure the implementation of its order on government advertisements. This May, the court laid down certain guidelines for government advertisements to avoid misuse of public funds for glorifying the ruling party, and had suggested only the photographs of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India be used in government advertisements. An NGO had filed petitions in the Supreme Court in July to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the Delhi government (alleging it had earmarked Rs 526 crore for government ads in 2015-16) and the Tamil Nadu government for putting out ads that glorified their respective leaders. Previously, the Congress-led UPA government spent Rs 143 crore to place 84,733 advertisements in print publications between 2008-09 and 2012-13 related to the birth and death anniversaries of 15 leaders.

 

 

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