Bilateral & International Relations
- Minister of State for Shipping inaugurates the first ever ‘BIMSTEC Ports’ Conclave’
- Cabinet approves protocol amending the Convention between India and Brazil
Science & Technology
- Agriculture Ministry relaxes fumigation condition on imported onion
Key Facts for Prelims
- Shala Darpan portal for Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti launched
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Bilateral & International Relations
Minister of State for Shipping inaugurates the first ever ‘BIMSTEC Ports’ Conclave’
The first ever ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC) Conclave of Ports, held at Vishakhapatnam on 7-8 November, 2019 was inaugurated by Minister of State for Shipping(I/C).
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BIMSTEC CONCLAVE OF PORTS
- Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) signed between Ranong Port (Port Authority of Thailand) and the Port Trusts of Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata to enhance connectivity between Thailand’s West Coast and Ports on India’s East Coast.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.
- It came into being in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- It constitutes seven Member States: Five deriving from South Asia: [Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka] and Two from Southeast Asia: [Myanmar and Thailand].
- The main objective of BIMSTEC is technological and economic cooperation among South Asian and South East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
- The headquarters of BIMSTEC is in Dhaka.
- Unlike many other regional groupings, BIMSTEC is a sector-driven cooperative organization. Starting with six sectors—including trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries—for sectoral cooperation in the late 1997, it expanded to embrace nine more sectors—including agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change—in 2008.
- The whole region which constitutes the BIMSTEC is home to over 1.5 billion people. The population counts for around 22 percent of the total world population. These countries have a combined GDP of $2.7 trillion.
INDIA’S SHIFT FROM BRICS COUNTRIES TO BIMSTEC
- A series of cross-border terror (Pathankot, Uri and Pulwama) attacks was the reason for the shift. This shift can be seen in the last oath ceremony of India Prime Minister where leaders of BIMSTEC countries were present. In the 2014 oath ceremony, leaders of SAARC countries were present.
- At Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Goa 2016, Indian Prime Minister also hosted an outreach summit with BIMSTEC leaders in October 2016. This was the first big push under the to India- BIMSTEC relationship.
- Moreover, when India refused to join November 2016 SAARC summit in Pakistan, almost all BIMSTEC countries supported India. The Summit was postponed resulting in India’s diplomatic victory on the issue of terrorism.
- In 2017 BIMSTEC summit, Indian PM announced that BIMSTEC is a natural platform to fulfill India’s key foreign policy priorities of Neighbourhood First and Act East.
IMPORTANCE OF BAY OF BENGAL REGION
- The Bay of Bengal is the largest bay in the world. Over one-fifth (22%) of the world’s population live in the seven countries around it.
- All these seven countries have been able to sustain average annual rates of economic growth
- The Bay also has vast untapped natural resources.
- One-fourth of the world’s traded goods cross the Bay every year.
- BIMSTEC connects not only South and Southeast Asia, but also the ecologies of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal.
- One-quarter of India’s population live in the four coastal states adjacent to the Bay of Bengal (Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal).
- People of Northeastern states can connect via the Bay of Bengal to Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand for development.
- Bay of Bengal, which is a way to the Malacca straits, has emerged a key place against China in maintaining its access route to the Indian Ocean. Hence,through Bay of Bengal, it is in India’s interest to consolidate its internal engagement among the BIMSTEC countries.
Cabinet approves protocol amending the Convention between India and Brazil
The Union Cabinet approved the signing of the Protocol amending the Convention between the Government of t India and the Government of Brazil for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
- The Amending Protocol implements minimum standards and other recommendations of G-20 OECD Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project.
- Facilitate elimination of double taxation.
- Clear allocation of taxing rights between Contracting States through Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) will provide tax certainty to investors & businesses of both countries.
- Augment the flow of investment through lowering of tax rates
- To bring existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between India and Brazil in line with international developments and to implement the recommendations contained in the G20 OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project (BEPS).
- The existing DTAC between India and Brazil was signed in 1988
WHAT IS DOUBLE TAXATION AVOIDANCE AGREEMENT (DTAA)?
- DTAA is a tax treaty signed between countries (or any two/multiple countries) so that taxpayers do not pay double taxes on their income earned from source country as well as their residence country.
- The need for DTAA arises out of imbalance in tax collection on global income of individuals. A person aims to do business in foreign country, may end up paying income taxes in both countries i.e. in the country where income is earned and country where individual holds his citizenship or residence. DTAA helps to taxpayers to do away issues of paying double taxes.
WHAT IS BASE EROSION AND PROFIT SHIFTING (BEPS)?
- It refers to tax planning strategies used by multinational companies, that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid.
- Although some of the tax planning strategies used are illegal, most are not. This undermines the fairness of tax systems because businesses that operate across borders can use BEPS to gain a competitive advantage over enterprises that operate at a domestic level. Moreover, when taxpayers see multinational corporations legally avoiding income tax, it also motivates them to avoid tax.
- BEPS is of major significance for developing countries due to their heavy reliance on corporate income tax, particularly from multinational enterprises.
ABOUT THE MULTILATERAL CONVENTION (MLI) TO IMPLEMENT TAX TREATY RELATED MEASURES TO BEPS
OR ‘BEPS PROJECT’:
- It is an outcome of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) / G20 to tackle Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (the BEPS Project).
- The BEPS Project identified 15 actions to address BEPS in a comprehensive manner.
- India was the founding member of this project. India signed this convention in 2016.
- There are over 125 members and 14 observer organisations of this project.
- The Convention enables all signatories to meet treaty-related minimum standards that were agreed as part of the Final BEPS package.
- The Convention operates to modify tax treaties between two or more Parties to the Convention. It does not function in the same way as an amending protocol to a single existing treaty, which would directly amend the text of the Tax Agreement. Instead, it is applied alongside existing tax treaties.
- The Convention provides flexibility to exclude a specific tax treaty and to opt out of provisions or parts of provisions through making of reservations.
- A list of Covered Tax Agreements as well as a list of reservations and options chosen by a country are required to be made at the time of signature or when depositing the instrument of ratification.
LOCATION OF BRAZIL:
- Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America.
- Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 kilometers.
- It borders all other countries in South America except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent’s land area.
Science & Technology
Agriculture Ministry relaxes fumigation condition on imported onion
In the light of public concern over high prices of onions in the market the Ministry of Agriculture has decided to allow relaxation from the condition of fumigation and endorsement on PSC as per the Plant Quarantine Order, 2003 for onion imports upto 30th November 2019
WHAT IS FUMIGATION?
- Fumigation is a method of pest control that completely fills an area with gaseous pesticides (known as fumigants) to suffocate or poison the pests within.
WHAT IS PLANT QUARANTINE?
- Plant quarantine is the restriction imposed by authorities on the production, movement and existence of plants or plant materials or animal products or any other article or normal activity of persons to control the introduction or spread of a pest.
PLANT QUARANTINE ORDER, 2003
The Plant Quarantine (Regulation of Import into India) Order, 2003 aims
- to prevent the introduction and spread of exotic pests that are destructive, by regulating the import of plants and plant products through adequate policy and statutory measures
- to support India’s agricultural exports through credible export certification
- to facilitate safe global trade in agriculture by assisting producers, exporters and importers and by providing technically comprehensive and credible phytosanitary certification.
- It places a prohibition on the import of commodities contaminated with weeds and/or alien species. Import of packaging material of plant origin is restricted unless the material has been treated.
- Mandatory permit requirement on imports of seeds, including flower seeds, propagating material and mushroom spawn cultures.
It classifies Agricultural imports as:
- a) Prohibited plant species
- b) Restricted species where import is permitted only by authorized institutions
- c) Restricted species permitted only with additional declarations of freedom from quarantine pests and subject to specified treatment certifications
- d) Plant material imported for consumption or industrial processing permitted with normal phytosanitary certification
It includes provisions for regulating the import of:
- soil, peat and sphagnum moss
- germplasm, genetically modified organisms and transgenic material for research
- live insects, microbial cultures and biocontrol agents
- timber and wooden logs.
- Phytosanitary Certificate is a certificate that certifies plant and plant products are free from regulated pests, and conforms with other phytosanitary requirements as specified from the importing country.
- Phytosanitary certificate procedures are undertaken as per the guidelines of National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) or equivalent authorities in a country, certifying to meet import phytosanitary requirements.
- Each country has designed certain parameters to meet with the phytosanitary requirements of foreign countries, as per the guidelines of WTO agreement.
Key Facts for Prelims
Shala Darpan portal for Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti launched
Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development launched the Shala Darpan Portal of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti.
ABOUT SHALA DARPAN PORTAL
- This portal will integrate all Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas with a common standard.
- It will provide information relating to the service record, transfer/posting, disciplinary action, ACR tracking and the portal will improve mess management and hostel conditions.
- Apart from this, it will also strengthen budget and finance management system.
- The portal has been designed from ‘Open Source Technology’ and hence the cost incurred was very low.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PORTAL
- End to end info sharing, proper analytical details and better transparency in evaluation of teachers and students.
- The Navodaya Vidyalayas are co-educational residential schools established by the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti which is an autonomous organization under Ministry of Human Resource Development to provide quality modern education.