europe-175773_1920

A Tax Haven Blacklist

 

European Union has blacklisted certain nations that are considered tax havens and do not comply with its taxation standards. Army has ‘wiped out’ terrorists who had masterminded Amarnath Yatra attack this year. Airlines are expecting a slightly higher profit per passenger next year. Government has provided sops to the small and medium industries to help improve exports. 

 

17

What is it? The number of countries that feature on a European Union (EU) blacklist of nations that are non-compliant with EU standards for tax purposes, including Saint Lucia, South Korea and Barbados.

Why is it important? This EU name-and-shame action comes about a month after the publishing of The Paradise Papers, which made public how the world’s rich and famous used tax havens and contentious tax structures to avoid taxes. However, the onus to act against these 17 countries—a list that, tellingly enough, doesn’t include a single EU member—lies on individual member countries, and it remains to be seen if they will follow through.

Tell me more: The EU also placed another 47 jurisdictions on a newly established ‘grey list’—countries that are also deemed to be non-compliant, but have committed to changing their tax rules. This list includes Switzerland and Hong Kong.

 

5

What is it? The number of months since a militant group attacked a group of pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police (DGP) tweeted that the gang that carried out the July attack has been “wiped out”. In the attack near Anantnag on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway in South Kashmir, seven pilgrims were killed and 15 injured. This year has seen a series of successful encounters by security forces, where top militants such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Abu Dujana, Hizbul Mujahideen’s Sabzar Ahmad Bhat and Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar’s nephew Tallah Rashid have been killed.

Tell me more: LeT chief Abu Ismail, who was the mastermind behind the Amarnath attack, was killed by the security forces in the outskirts of Srinagar in September.

 

$8.9

What is it? The expected average net profit per departing passenger in the global airline sector in 2018, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Why is it important? If the prediction is met, it would be a slight increase from $8.45 in 2017. This is even as overall net profit is expected to increase to $38.4 billion in 2018, from the projected $34.5 billion in 2017. IATA says the key drivers of profitability would be a likely 6% increase in passenger traffic, an expected 4.5% rise in cargo volumes and lower debt levels. However, costs, too, are expected to increase: oil prices are expected to average $60 per barrel, and labour costs, which are a larger expense item than fuel, will continue to rise.

Tell me more: IATA expects seat occupancy to reach 81.4% next year whereas yields, which is a measure of fares, would improve by 3%. For the 10 months of 2017 till October, the seat occupancy of IndiGo ranged from 81.6-91.1%.

 

Rs 8,450 crore

What is it? The cumulative additional incentives announced by the Indian government for labour-intensive MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) sectors under two schemes, as part of its mid-term policy review released on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This is to boost exports, which fell 1.1% to $23 billion in October, the slowest pace of growth since July 2016 and the first decline after 14 months of positive growth, likely due to the roll-out of the goods and services tax. The President of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations believes these incentives are likely to have a positive impact on export numbers from January, though he expressed disappointment about a number of sectors having been left out.

Tell me more: Some major sectors that would benefit from the incentives include ready-made garments and made-ups in the textile sector, leather and footwear articles, and agriculture and related products. The earlier incentives under the two schemes totaled Rs 25,000 crore.

 

704 days

What is it?  The number of days after which South African star batsman AB de Villiers will return to play test cricket, if he is selected for the Boxing Day test against Zimbabwe.

Why is it important? AB de Villiers has been one of the pivots of South African batting, but a combination of wanting to play less cricket and injuries have meant him not playing tests. His possible return comes at a crucial time for South Africa, as its next two test assignments are stern examinations: against India, the only side ranked above it in the ICC test rankings, and Australia.

Tell me more: Among current South African batsmen, who are a relatively inexperienced lot, only Hashim Amla leads de Villiers in runs scored and tests played.

 

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News in Numbers, Aug 11, 2016: Online census of MSMEs, maternity leave likely to increase…

October 2015: China’s Didi Chuxing invested in Ola.

August 1, 2016: Didi Chuxing buys Uber’s China unit.

Today: Uber indirectly owns Ola, which is trying to raise funds to compete with it in India!

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The confusion doesn’t end here. Do read on to know more about the quandary Ola is in. What do you think Ola should do? Do write to us.

259,685

What is it? The number of passenger vehicles sold in July, an increase of 16.78% from the corresponding month last year.

Why is it important? This is the fastest pace of growth since October 2015, fuelled by new launches in the utility vehicle segment, the upbeat sentiment due to monsoon rains boosting farm output and the rollout of the Seventh Pay Commission payout. Utility vehicle sales increased by 41.85% to 64,105 units compared to 45,191 units in the same month last year.

Tell me more: Passenger car sales increased by 9.62% to 177,604 units in July from 162,022 units in the same month a year ago, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

 

Rs 1 crore

What is it? The cost of conducting a census of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The databank would be launched today.

Why is it important? This is the first time the census of MSMEs is being carried out online, thereby saving money as the previous offline census conducted in 2008 cost Rs 50 crore. This would help the government plan development activities and incentive programmes for MSMEs in a better way. Besides, the government would launch six online finance facilitation centres today that would provide collective financing options for MSMEs. Inadequate and delayed credit is one of the main reasons for the increase in the number of sick MSMEs from 2.2 lakh in March 2013 to 4.74 lakh by March 2015.

Tell me more: MSMEs account for around a third of the manufacturing output in India. There are 47.89 lakh such firms in India as of July 18, 2016.

 

26 weeks

What is it? The proposed length of maternity leave in India, per the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that the cabinet approved on Wednesday.

Why is it important? It’s 12 weeks at present. The bill also proposed 12 weeks maternity leave for women who go for adoption or surrogacy. Legislations such as these might increase increase women participation in the labour force, which is low at 22.5% at present.

Tell me more: The government is looking to pass this bill in the current session of the Parliament, which concludes tomorrow. The amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, include facilitation of working from home and mandatory provision of a creche in firms having 50 or more employees.

 

100

What is it? The number of overtime work hours in factories in a quarter, doubled from 50, as per the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Under special circumstances, this can be increased to 125 hours through a special notification. This bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Why is it important? Despite opposition from some members of Parliament (MPs) and trade unions from different parties, the government passed the bill on the grounds that it would help cover up the shortage in labour, especially technical, and that it is less than the upper limit of 144 hours recommended by the International Labour Organization. Some of the reasons for the Opposition MPs protesting against the bill include: it would affect fresh recruitments and employment generation and the need to pass this bill when the more “comprehensive” Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014, which supposedly benefits the workers and provides for safety measures, was pending.

Tell me more: The bill will now be introduced in the Rajya Sabha. Itwas not tabled with the detailed amendments in the Lower House on Wednesday, which were introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2014 and then, referred to the Standing Committee. According to Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, the bill with amendments to only two clauses was introduced to facilitate ease of doing business.

 

Rs 64 crore

What is it? Didi Chuxing’s investment in Ola last October.

Why is it important? Didi Chuxing may have violated the shareholder agreement it signed with Ola by its recent acquisition of Uber’s operations in China. Earlier, Didi Chuxing signed a non-compete agreement with Ola, which states that it must not engage with any firm that competes with Ola as long as it holds shares in the firm or for a period of two years after it sells its shares in it. With Uber indirectly owning a part of Ola, it remains to be seen what Ola and Didi Chuxing decide to do.

Tell me more: This is the first time that a startup has faced such a conundrum: not only does it have to share its financial information with Didi Chuxing but this situation may also hamper its ongoing fundraising efforts. On top of it, three of Ola’s four largest investors have invested in Uber too.

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