Polity & Governance
- Gujarat clears 10% quota for poor in a bid to pacify Patels
- NPPA caps prices of another 50 drugs
- throws open I-T data; tax base stays narrow
- Publishing tax data resumes after 15 years
- India, Papua New Guinea sign four crucial agreements
- $1.5 billion IMF breather for Sri Lanka
Also in News
- Top Colombia court legalises same-sex marriage
Polity & Governance
Gujarat clears 10% quota for poor in a bid to pacify Patels
Gujarat government has announced a separate 10% quota for economically backward classes (EBC) in higher education and government jobs.
- In this regard, the state government will come out with an ordinance on May 1, celebrated as the foundation day of Gujarat.
- The new category would cover all economically backward upper castes, including Patidars.
Who is economically backward classes (EBC)?
- As per announcement, the economically backward classes (EBC) include all those families whose income does not exceed ₹6 lakh per annum.
Concerns against its validity:
- The Supreme Court has made it clear that there cannot be a quota on the basis of economic backwardness in the Indra Sawhney case in 1992.
- According to few experts, the quota is impermissible in the Constitution under its Article 16(1), which prohibits reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
- They also concerned that it goes against Article 16 (4), which provides for reservation on caste basis.
NPPA caps prices of another 50 drugs
As a part of the new drug pricing control order, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has capped the prices of 50 drugs and revised the prices of four others.
- The order, notified on March 14, which effectively brings 200 more drug formulations under regulation.
- NPPA is also planning to cap the prices of 40 other drugs, for which it has asked all the companies to provide requisite information by May 10.
- In December 2015, while issuing a new National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), the government had added 106 and removed 70 medicines from the earlier one of 2011, expanding the list to 376 from 348 earlier.
- Whenever there is a new NLEM, the government has to issue a new Drug Price Control Order and NPPA needs to set their ceiling prices subsequently.
- Based on the new NLEM, the government on March 14 notified the Drugs (Price Control) Amendment Order, 2016. It has 820 formulations. There were 628 formulations under the DPCO of 2013, notified in the wake of the NLEM of 2011.
What are Essential medicines?
- Essential medicines, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) are those drugs that satisfy the health care needs of the majority of the population; they should therefore be available at all times in adequate amounts and in appropriate dosage forms, at a price the community can afford.
About National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM):
- The NLEM is a dynamic list and reviewed every three years to include or exclude drugs as relevant to the newest medical innovations and aligned to the current market competition.
- It should be noted that National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) under the Union Ministry of Chemical and Fertiliser decides the ceiling prices essential medicines under The Drug (Prices Control) Order 2013.
The Indian government recognized the national list of essential medicines as a key instrument in balanced healthcare delivery system which includes accessible, affordable and quality medicine at the primary, secondary, tertiary levels of healthcare.
About National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA):
- NPPA is an organization of the Government of India which was established, inter alia, to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995.
- The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers.
- It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels.
Govt. throws open I-T data; tax base stays narrow
Detailed income tax data is now available as the government has for the first time put the data on income tax in public domain.
- The Central Board of Direct Taxes has made public information on the total number of taxpayers in the country, income disclosed in IT returns by various category of taxpayers etc.
- The data shows that there were 13.3 lakh individuals declaring an income of more than Rs 10 lakh a year — the section of people the government has excluded from the LPG subsidy.
- Just 1% of individuals, who declared their income in assessment year 2012-13, accounted for almost 20% of the taxable income. Among corporates, however, this imbalance is starker, with a little more than 5% of the companies accounting for a whopping 94% of the taxable income.
- Direct tax collections have fallen drastically in the last five years.
- The drop in the growth rate of direct tax collections was accompanied by an equally dire slowdown in the growth of corporate tax.
- The personal income tax data — which also includes securities transaction taxes — on the other hand, barely witnessed a change in growth rates in this period.
- Among the states, Gujarat saw the fastest growth in its direct tax collections. Tamil Nadu saw the next-fastest growth in the period. Maharashtra and West Bengal were the other states seeing rapid growth in their direct tax collections.
- The State-wise data also revealed some anomalies. For example, Mizoram recorded Rs 39.8 crore of direct tax collections in FY2014-15, which is more than double what it collected in the previous year. Chattisgarh, on the other hand, saw its direct tax collections grow 0.01% in FY2014-15 to Rs 1,287 crore compared to its level in 2008-09.
Publishing tax data resumes after 15 years
India has resumed publishing its income tax data, which was suspended in 2000 owing to staffing and technical issues.
- The decision comes three months after French economist Thomas Piketty remarked in a lecture at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) that India could be vastly under-estimating inequality levels in the country in the absence of this data. He also said that in the absence of data, it was not possible to show the evolution of wealth in India as a result of which “we could be vastly underestimating inequality.
- India had first started publishing its income tax statistics in 1961.
- The driving force behind the revival of this practice is Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian.
India, Papua New Guinea sign four crucial agreements
During President Pranab Mukherjee’s recent visit to Papua New Guinea, both nations have signed four agreements, including in areas of healthcare and information technology.
- Pranab Mukherjee’s visit is the first ever presidential visitfrom India to this country.
- Papua New Guinea is the largest of all the Pacific island-nationsand
Total four MoUs signed between both the nations
- Between India’s ministry of health and family welfare and Paua New Guinea’s ministry of health and HIV/AIDS for a broad range of cooperation in the field of healthcare and medical science.
- Between the Papua New Guinea government and the Export Import Bank of India for a $100-million credit line for development of infrastructure in the island-nation.
- Between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, and PNG University of Technology, Lae, for cooperation in agricultural research.
- Between the governments of India and Papua New Guinea for establishing of India-Papua New Guinea Centre for Excellence in IT.
$1.5 billion IMF breather for Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, in the midst of a crisis over deterioration of the balance of payments (BOP) position, has got the much-needed reprieve with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreeing to provide $ 1.5 billion through a three-year-long Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
- The EFF was established to provide assistance to countries:
- experiencing serious payments imbalances because of structural impediments; or
- characterized by slow growth and an inherently weak balance of payments position.
- The EFF provides assistance in support of comprehensive programs that include policies of the scope and character required to correct structural imbalances over an extended period.
Also in News
Top Colombia court legalises same-sex marriage
Colombia’s top court has legalized same-sex marriage, making the country the fourth in Latin America to do so.
- Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have previously legalized same-sex marriage. Argentina was the first Latin American country to take the step in July 2010.
- In Mexico, gay marriage is legal in the capital and in certain states.