GST payers activated


What is it? The number of Employees’ Provident Fund trusts that are likely to be taken over by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), if a proposed change by the Labour Ministry is implemented. Private provident fund trusts with less than 20 members and managing corpus of upto Rs 1 crore is being proposed to be taken over by EPFO.

Why is it important? This will more than triple the cost for employees coming under these private PF trusts. At present, private trusts charge 0.18% of basic wages as administrative charges, as compared to EPFO’s charge of 0.65%. However, with digitalisation of EPFO records, employees will benefit from faster withdrawal and transfer of accounts between employers.

Tell me more: There are 1,500 private trusts managing 8.3 million subscribers. Out of them, only trusts that have more than 500 employees and manages a corpus of Rs 100 crore will be allowed to run privately.




What is it? The number of people dead after an oil tanker burst into flames in Ahmedpur East, a city in Pakistan. Explosion happenned after villagers gathered to collect fuel from the overturned truck.

Why is it important? The death toll is likely to increase as 40 out of nearly 100 people injured are in critical condition. Initial reports suggest oil tanker’s tyre burst that led to the accident.

Tell me more: Two years back, more than 50 people died in Pakistan when an oil tanker and a bus collided, and burst into flames. Oil tanker was reportedly speeding and travelling in the wrong side of the road.




What is it? The percentage of indirect taxpayers who have activated their account with the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), the IT backbone for the proposed GST from July 1 this year.

Why is it important? Registration of all transacting parties is vital to capture the flow of taxes from suppliers to producers, and then to end consumers. Unlike existing system, where a consolidated return of all transactions are filed, the 8 million indirect taxpayers have to disclose invoice-level details to tax authorities under GST.

Tell me more: GSTN is expected to track more than 320 crore invoices each month, and this would vital information on how business is transacted. Potentially it could widen tax base, if GST data is married with Income Tax data.




What is it? The percentage of provision banks have to set aside for all accounts referred to the insolvency process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

Why is it important? Banks, mostly state-run, are expected to provide Rs 50,000 crore more because of this latest communication from the central bank. 12 accounts, which owe Rs 250,000 crore to banks (or 25% of total bad loans), are referred to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under the bankruptcy code.

Tell me more: When a company is referred under the bankruptcy code, NCLT appoints an interim administrator who will try to sell the assets of the company to a new owner within 18 months.



$ 5.8 billion

What is it? Amount spent by the Italian government to bail out two failed banks – Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Venta Banca – in the Venice region.

Why is it important? The bailout contravenes the European Commission’s rules that forbid using state money to deal with failing banks. The employees and branches of these two banks will be transferred to Intesa Sanpaolo banking group from today at a nominal value of one euro. In addition, government will also offer guarantee up to 12 billion euros to cover losses from bad loans.

Tell me more: Italian banks carry 350bn euros of bad loans – a third of Eurozone’s total debt.

Read More

The dirty dozen


What is it? The number of loan defaulters identified by Reserve Bank of India for bankruptcy proceedings.

Why is it important? Each of these accounts has more than Rs 5,000 crore of outstanding loans, at least 60% of which are non-performing. Together, they account for more than a fourth of bad loans in the banking system. The move – to direct banks to file for insolvency proceedings under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 – underlines the seriousness with which the central bank sees the bad loans problem facing India’s banking system, especially public sector banks.

Tell me more: Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan who kickstarted the bad loans clean-up process with the seriousness it deserves had said it demanded a ‘deep surgery.’

14.4 million

What is it? The number of obese children (aged 2-19 years) in India, according to a study.

Why is it important? That makes India second only to China. In all, the study found 180 million Indians to be obese.  Obesity is increasingly considered to be a public health crisis, and is associated with life threatening diseases including heart attacks and cancer. It played a role in 4 million deaths in 2015.

Tell me more: The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, also categorised more than 10% of the world’s population as obese. It covered 195 countries.

$12-$14 billion

What is it? The estimated cost of Diamer-Bhasha dam that Pakistan plans to construct in Gilgit-Baltistan region.

Why is it important? The region is a part of disputed Kashmir, and India had objected to infrastructure projects there, keeping international institutions such as World Bank and Asian Development Bank from funding the project. Now, Pakistan is looking to China to fund it, encouraged by the partnership between the two countries for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a set of infrastructure projects connecting the two countries.

Tell me more: The Diamer-Bhasha dam is expected to generate 4,500 megawatts of electricity and regulate water to farm lands. It will also displace 4200 families.


What is it? Global energy consumption growth in 2016, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

Why is it important? It’s lower than 10 year average of 1.8% a year, and in pace with last two years growth (0.9% in 2015 and 1% in 2014). It’s an indicator of sluggish global economic activity. On the positive side, greenhouse gas emissions growth was also muted in 2016, even though the emissions are much higher than the target set by Paris accord.

Tell me more: The energy demand is being driven by the developing countries, especially China and India. Renewables accounted for almost 40% of the growth in global power generation in 2016.


What is it? The number of countries that have formal diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

Why is it important? In the 90s, this number about 30. It has been dwindling. The latest to cut ties with the self-ruled state is Panama, in a move considered to be a diplomatic coup for Beijing. China considers Taiwan a rebel region of China, and has been consciously weaning its allies away.

Tell me more: Panama, which was recently in news as a tax haven, is of strategic importance to trading countries, as it lies at the intersection of Atlantic and Pacific oceans and north and south American continents. China is the second biggest user of Panama canal. The Asian giant’s concern about Taiwan has increased after the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen who is pushing for its independence.

Read More