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, Apr 8, 2016: IIT fees increased, share of loss-making public companies…

5 million

What is it? The number of Reliance Communications’ (RCom) customers who will be migrated to fourth generation network operated by Reliance Jio, the yet-to-be launched telecom venture by Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Industries (RIL).  

Why is it important? This will be a test of call quality and broadband speed of Reliance Jio, whose launch is delayed to end of 2016. For RCom, owned by Mukesh’s younger brother Anil Ambani, the deal will help to launch the 4G services without spending much on setting up additional infrastructure.    

Tell me more: The two brothers signed a deal to share resources. RCom will share its network and spectrum, and RIL will allow RCom customers to use its network.    

 

Rs 2 lakhs

What is it? Revised annual fees payable by undergraduates studying at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The earlier fees was Rs 90,000 per year.

Why is it important? The upward revision will cut government’s subsidy bill. The central government spends Rs 6 lakh each year to educate one student. The increase will be spent to improve the infrastructure within IIT’s.

Tell me more: Students from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and most economically backward families (annual income of less than Rs 1 lakh) will not be required to pay the fees. For rest, either partial remission of fees based on family income or bank loan is made available.

 

18%

What is it?  The Goods and Services Tax rate that finance minister Arun Jaitley says will be a part of the GST Bill

Why is it important?  The move – to make the 18% cap a part of the bill – might lower the resistance from the Congress Party to the passing of the bill in the parliament. While there is consensus about the tax rate – proposed by a committee headed by chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian – the government was reluctant to include any rate in the bill (as demanded by Congress) because it puts a constraint on raising tax revenues.

Tell me more: Experts have argued that implementation of GST will widen tax base, eliminate myriad taxes and their cascading effects, simplify compliance and help center and state tax administrations work together efficiently.

 

30%

What is it? The percentage of State Level Public Enterprises estimated to be incurring losses, per Reserve Bank of India.

Why is it important? The losses have adverse impact on state budgets, leaving less funds for development. The financial performance reflect poor management and excess manpower at the state run enterprises as well as policies such as administered prices and other market conditions.

Tell me more: There are 849 state level public enterprises operating in the areas of manufacturing, finance, power, infrastructure, agriculture and allied services and employ over 18 lakh people.

 

€ 1,500

What is it? Fine payable for anyone caught paying for sex in France. For second offence, the fine will increase to Euro 3,750 and an entry in that person’s criminal record.   

Why is it important? The law passed by the French parliament will criminalize paying for sex rather than the act of soliciting sex. France follows the model adopted by Norway and Northern Ireland. Opponents of this approach say this pushes prostitution underground.   

Tell me more: There are 3 million sex workers in India and 40% of them are children, as per Ministry of Women and Child Development estimate in 2007. Sex workers are allowed to practise in their private homes individually, but organized prostitution is banned.

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News in numbers, Mar 7, 2016: A dozen bills likely to be passed, terror alert in Gujarat…

~ $3 billion

What is it? The amount belonging to India, which was lying unused in an account managed by the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defense.

Why is it important? Despite this, India has been paying the United States for new military purchases due to “ill-management” or “lack of attention”. This money was not earning interest. The amount was discovered last year and about 40% has been used to pay for committed purchases, saving the country around $700-800 million in foreign exchange.

Tell me more: According to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the government also saved up to Rs 3,000 crore by tightening payment norms to Indian vendors, which include public sector units.

 

12

What is it? Number of pending bills likely to be passed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the ongoing Budget Session.

Why is it important? The outcome of a compromise between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress party, according to unnamed leaders from these parties. It is a surprising move given the disruptions in the working of the Parliament due to issues such as the suicide of a student at the Hyderabad University, the Jat agitations and the JNU row. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have spent just 9% and 8% of the Budget Session on legislative issues respectively so far.

Tell me more: The bills to be taken up, seven in Lok Sabha, and five in Rajya Sabha, does not include the important Goods and Services Tax Bill.

 

200

What is it? Number of National Security Guard (NSG) personnel sent from Delhi to Gujarat after the issuance of a terror alert in the state.

Why is it important? Indian officials say Pakistan’s National Security Advisor had provided intelligence inputs to his Indian counterpart regarding a possible terror strike by a group of 8-10 Lashkar-e-Toiba members in the state, particularly at “some coastal pilgrimage centres in Saurashtra or Kutch”. Ahead of ‘Mahasivarathri’, an important Hindu festival, the state government has stepped up security at all the main temples.

Tell me more: Delhi has also been put on high alert after inputs suggested the terrorists could have moved from Gujarat to Delhi.

 

75

What is it? Number of Rajya Sabha members who are to retire from the House between March and July this year.

Why is it important? This will let the ruling NDA muster enough numbers to pass the GST Bill by July 2016, according to Morgan Stanley. For the Bill to be passed, not more than 82 members must oppose it (assuming all 245 vote). Due to retirees this season, BJP would gain nine seats including seven by way of new appointees, while Congress would lose seven. This would result in those favouring the bill to increase from 97 to 110 and those opposing to 81 members.

Tell me more: The GST Bill is supposed to merge all central and state taxes into a single tax rate and if implemented well, it could boost economic growth by 2-2.5% and increase exports by 10-14%, according to a study.

 

Rs 2,494 crore

What is it? The aggregate cash recovery or security available with Kingfisher Airlines’ lenders, according to its chairman Vijay Mallya.

Why is it important? This is about a third of the total amount (Rs 7800 crore) the grounded airline and Mallya owe to a consortium of 17 lenders led by the State Bank of India. Mallya, in a media statement, said that despite pledging blue chip securities and depositing “significant amounts” in the court, he is being painted as the “poster boy of all bank NPAs (non-performing assets)”.

Tell me more: Of the total, Mallya said banks and their assignees have recovered Rs 1,244 crore from sale of pledged shares in cash, an aggregate of Rs 600 crore has been lying with the Karnataka High Court since July 2013 and another Rs 650 crore belonging to the United Breweries Holdings has been deposited with the court since early 2014.

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