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.

Read More