Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - April 03, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Govt regulates 24 classes of medical devices as Drugs for quality control, price regulation

Focus: GS2.                           

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context

  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, NPPA has revised the ceiling price of 883 scheduled formulations.
  • The Authority in its meeting noted with satisfaction that the supply disruption of active pharmaceutical ingredients caused by COVID-19 outbreak is returning to normalcy.

Background

  • Government is regulating 24 classes of medical devices which have been notified and regulated as drugs under Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
  • Remaining non-scheduled medical devices which are notified and regulated as drugs, NPPA is currently monitoring Maximum Retail Prices to ensure that no manufacturer and importers can increase the price more than ten per cent in preceding twelve months.

Highlights

  • The NPPA in its order stated that all medical devices shall be governed under the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013 which come into effect from today.
  • All medical devices shall be regulated by the government as drugs for quality control and price monitoring.
  • NPPA said, no unusual price fluctuations in price of inputs for medicines, amid COVID-19 outbreak has been reported so normal price revisions have been allowed.
  • The revised prices is applicable from today and the detail of revised prices is available on NPPA’s website nppaindia.nic.in.

Source: AIR.

Finance Ministry issues Taxation and other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Context

Ø  In order to give effect to the announcements made by the Union Finance Minister vide Press Release dated 24.03.2020, regarding several relief measures relating to statutory and regulatory compliance matters across sectors in view of COVID-19 outbreak, the govt has brought in an Ordinance on 31.03.2020 which provides for extension of various time limits under the Taxation and Benami Acts.
Ø  It also provides for extension of time limits contained in the Rules or Notification which are prescribed/ issued under these Acts.

Background

  • It may be noted that the outbreak of Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) across many countries of the world has caused immense loss to the lives of people, and accordingly, it has been termed as pandemic by the World Health Organisation and various Governments including Government of India.
  • Social distancing has been unequivocally accepted to be the best way to contain its spread, leading to announcement of complete lockdown in the country.
  • Keeping in view the challenges faced by taxpayers in meeting the compliance requirements under such conditions, the Union Finance Minister had announced several relief measures relating to statutory and regulatory compliance matters across sectors in view of COVID-19 outbreak on 24.03.2020 vide a press release.

Highlights

  • Extension of last date of filing of original as well as revised income-tax returns for the FY 2018-19 (AY 2019-20) to 30th June, 2020.
  • Extension of Aadhaar-PAN linking date to 30th June, 2020.
  • The date for making various investment/payment for claiming deduction under Chapter-VIA-B of IT Act which includes Section 80C (LIC, PPF, NSC etc.), 80D (Mediclaim), 80G (Donations), etc. has been extended to 30th June, 2020. Hence the investment/payment can be made up to 30.06.2020 for claiming the deduction under these sections for FY 2019-20.
  • The date for making investment/construction/purchase for claiming roll over benefit/deduction in respect of capital gains under sections 54 to 54GB of the IT Act has also been extended to 30th June 2020. Therefore, the investment/ construction/ purchase made up to 30.06.2020 shall be eligible for claiming deduction from capital gains arising during FY 2019-20.
  • The date for commencement of operation for the SEZ units for claiming deduction under deduction 10AA of the IT Act has also extended to 30.06.2020 for the units which received necessary approval by 31.03.2020.
  • The date for passing of order or issuance of notice by the authorities under various direct taxes& Benami Law has also been extended to 30.06.2020.
  • It has provided that reduced rate of interest of 9% shall be charged for non-payment of Income-tax (e.g. advance tax, TDS, TCS) Equalization Levy, Securities Transaction Tax (STT), Commodities Transaction Tax (CTT) which are due for payment from 20.03.2020 to 29.06.2020 if they are paid by 30.06.2020. Further, no penalty/ prosecution shall be initiated for these non-payments.
  • Under Vivad se Vishwas Scheme, the date has also been extended up to 30.06.2020. Hence, declaration and payment under the Scheme can be made up to 30.06.2020 without additional payment.
    Indirect Taxes:
  • Last date of furnishing of the Central Excise returns due in March, April and May 2020 has been extended to 30th June,2020.
  • Wherever the last date for filing of appeal, refund applications etc., under the Central Excise Act, 1944 and rules made thereunder is from 20th March 2020 to 29th June 2020, the same has been extended to30th June 2020.
  • Wherever the last date for filing of appeal, refund applications etc., under the Customs Act, 1962 and rules made thereunder is from 20th March 2020 to 29th June 2020, the same has been extended to30th June 2020.
  • The date for making payment to avail of the benefit under Sabka Vishwas Legal Dispute Resolution Scheme 2019 has been extended to 30th June 2020 thus giving more time to taxpayers to get their disputes resolved.

Source: Business Standard.

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COVID19: SC asks media to report official version to curb fake news

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context

The Supreme Court upheld the right to free discussion about COVID-19, even as it directed the media to refer to and publish the official version of the developments in order to avoid inaccuracies and large-scale panic.

Background

  • It ordered the government to start a daily bulletin on COVID-19 developments through all media avenues in the next 24 hours.
  • The apex court was hearing two petitions, one by advocates Rashmi Bansal and Anuj Gupta and another by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava that brought the issue of plight of migrant labourers to the notice of the court.

Highlights

  • The court asked the centre to submit a status report regarding the same.
  • The government, pursuant to the court’s order, filed a detailed affidavit explaining the steps taken by it to combat the Covid-19 threat.
  • The Ministry said any panic reaction in the midst of an unprecedented situation based on such reporting would harm the entire nation.
  • Creating panic is also a criminal offence under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Ministry said.
  • Noting that the 21-day nationwide lockdown was “inevitable” in the face of an “unprecedented global crisis” like the COVID-19 pandemic, the government blamed “fake and misleading” messages on social media for creating widespread panic, which led to mass “barefoot” journey of migrant workers from cities to their native villages in rural India.

Source: The Hindu.

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context

  • Union Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an order for adaptation and modification of State Laws specific to the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, to further facilitate the application of Central Laws to the newly formed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Background

  • The order -- Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (adaptation of state laws) order 2020 -- issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of J&K, comes into force with immediate effect.
  • The domiciles under the order has been defined under Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment) Act.
  • Under the law, the domiciles have been defined as those who have resided for a period of 15 years in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir or have studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10/12 examination in an educational institutions located in what is now a union territory.

Highlights

  • It includes children of those central government officials, All India services officers, officials of public sector undertaking and autonomous body of central government, public sector banks, officials of statutory bodies, officials of central universities and recognized research institutes of central government who have served in Jammu and Kashmir for a total period of ten years.
  • The law has empowered Tehsildars within their territorial jurisdiction to issue domicile certificates.
  • The government of J&K UT has also been empowered to notify any other officer to be Competent Authority for issuance of domicile certificate.
  • The law says any person fulfilling the conditions would be deemed to be domicile of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the purpose of appointment of any post carrying a pay scale of not more than level-4 (25500) under the UT of J&K or under local or any other (other than cantonment board) within the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • According to the new law, jobs up to lowest level of non-gazetted rank are reserved for Jammu and Kashmir domiciles.
  • The provision, however, would be also available to children of central government employees serving in Jammu and Kashmir for ten years and all those non-locals residing in Jammu and Kashmir for more than 15 years.

Source: LiveMint.

RBI announces more measures to deal with coronavirus fallout

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Context

  • A week after announcing several steps to boost demand in the wake of coronavirus crisis in India, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched additional measures.
  • The central bank has decided to extend realisation period of export proceeds, limits of way and means advances (WMA) of states/UTs, and mechanism for counter-cyclical capital buffer (CCyB).

Background

  • Presently, the value of the goods or software exports made by the exporters is required to be realised fully and repatriated to the country in 9 months from the date of exports.
  • The RBI has now extended the time for exports made up to or on July 31, 2020, to 15 months from the date of export.
  • The measure will enable them to realise receipts, especially from COVID-19 affected countries, in the extended period and provide greater flexibility to negotiate future contracts.
  • The RBI has decided to increase the WMA limit by 30 per cent from the existing limit for states/UTs to enable them to tide over the situation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The revised limits will come into force from April 1 till September 30.

About the guidelines

  • The RBI had put in place the framework on counter-cyclical capital buffer (CCyB) on February 5, 2015, wherein it was advised that the CCyB would be activated as and when the circumstances warranted.
  • This framework envisages the credit-to-GDP gap as the main indicator, which is used in conjunction with other supplementary indicators, the RBI said.
  • Based on the analysis of CCyB indicators, the apex bank has decided that it is not necessary to activate CCyB for one year or earlier, central bank said.
  • Amid the 21-day lockdown in India, the RBI's Monetary Policy Committee, in its meeting held between March 24-27, decided to cut repo rate by 75 basis points to 4.4 per cent, while the reverse repo rate has been reduced by 90 basis points.
  • Calling the current times "extraordinary circumstances", the RBI Governor said the MPC voted for a sizeable reduction in repo rate to revive growth, mitigate COVID-19 impact.

Source: Business Today.

Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Science and Technology Empowered Committee for COVID-19:
    1. The committee will be chaired by the Prime Minister.
    2. The committee would coordinate virus research among science agencies, scientists, industries and regulatory bodies.
    3. The Committee will work with the Department of Science & Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Defence Research and Development Organisation and Indian Institute for Science to take speedy decisions on research.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. AOTA

Solution: B

2. The committee will be chaired by Vinod Paul (member, NITI Aayog) and K. Vijay Raghavan (Principal Scientific Adviser to the government).

Natuna Islands is in:
  1. Caribbean Sea
  2. Mediterranean Sea
  3. South China Sea
  4. Caspian Sea

Solution: C

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