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Sep 2020

Sep 30, 2020

President Gives Assent to Taxation and Other Laws Bill

  • The President of India gave his assent to the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020, which will extend compliance-related timelines for taxpayers while offering significant relief to foreign investors.
  • The ministry of law and justice issued a notification to the effect.
  • The bill, which now becomes an Act, was issued as an ordinance on March 31, 2020, to defer compliance deadlines for direct and indirect taxes amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The Act also provides significant relief to foreign investors.
  • Surcharge levied on the dividend income of foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) that use a trust structure will be capped at 15%, offering them significant relief. From April 1, 2020, tax exemption will be provided on the income of category III Alternate Investment Funds in the International Financial Services Centre from 'masala' bonds, derivatives or overseas investments.
  • Among other changes, tax deduction at source or tax collection at source (TDS, TCS) at three-fourth the rate or 9% a year on transactions from May 14, 2020, till March 31, 2021, will be enacted. The lower rate of interest and exemption from penalty or prosecution in case of non-payments has been enabled in cases of payments of Equalization Levy, Securities Transaction Tax (STT), Commodities Transaction Tax (CTT) besides advance tax, TDS and TCS.

AP CM Launches YSR Jala Kala Scheme

  • To benefit the small and medium farmers who have no open water source for irrigation, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy launched YSR Jala Kala Scheme. Under the scheme, borewells will be dug free of cost to the needy farmers. The scheme is estimated to bring in five lakh acres under cultivation through groundwater irrigation.
  • During his 3,648-km padayatra, Jagan met farmers, whose fields were parched due to lack of water sources. They explained how they were being pushed into debts by drilling borewells. After seeing their distress, Jagan promised to provide borewells to farmers having fields in uplands and included the same in the Navaratnalu (nine promises made by the YSRC before the elections).
  • With the launch of the scheme, one more election promise joins the long list of promises kept by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government. Around three lakh farmers will be benefitted from YSR Jala Kala, which is estimated to cost Rs. 2,340 crore in four years.

Sep 27, 2020

Karnataka Assembly Passes Amendment to Land Reforms Act

  • The Karnataka Legislative Assembly passed amendments to the land reforms act that liberalised farmland ownership, despite opposition Congress strongly opposing it, with some party members tearing copies of the bill, and staging a walkout calling it a "black law." The contentious Karnataka Land Reforms (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020 that further amends the act of 1961, removing almost all restrictions on buying farm lands was passed by the assembly with a voice vote.
  • The act passed, repeals Section 79(A) that sets a limit of non-agricultural income at Rs 25 lakh to buy agricultural land, Section 79(B) that bars non-agriculturists from purchasing agricultural lands, and Section 79 (C) that deals with penalty for falsely claiming eligibility to hold agricultural land.
  • It also makes certain amendments to Section 80 and states that the Class-A irrigated land (irrigated with water from a dam) can be used only for agricultural purposes.
  • It also inserts a new Section 80 (A) which states that no conditions laid in this act shall be relaxed in respect of lands granted to persons belonging to the SC/STs, during the period of prohibition under the Karnataka SC and ST (Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands), Act, 1978.

Sep 25, 2020

Provisions of the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020

  • The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 was passed in Lok Sabha. The Bill replaces the Major Ports Act, 1963. It aims to regulate, operate and plan major ports in India. The Bill will provide a greater autonomy to ports in the country.
  • The Bill specifically deals with the major ports including the Vishakhapatnam, Paradip, Mormugao, V.O. Chidambaranar, New Mangalore, Kolakata, Kandla, Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Chennai, Cochin port.
  • As per the Bill, ports will be managed by Port Authorities Board and every port will have a port authority which will act under the leadership of a central board.
  • The Port authority boards will replace the port trusts.
  • The board comprises of chairperson, members from respective state governments, representatives from Defence Ministry, Railway Ministry and Customs Department.
  • The chairperson of the board will be appointed by the Central Government.
  • The board will also include two to four independent members who will represent the interests of the port authorities.
  • The board will be empowered to use its properties and fix scales of rates for assets.

Sep 24, 2020

Approval to Labour Reform Bills by Parliament to Help Create Job Opportunities

  • According to industry body CII, the passage of three key labour reform bills in Parliament would facilitate expansion of establishments to create employment opportunities and help India become a preferred investment destination. Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed by voice vote the three labour codes on industrial relations, social security and occupational safety.
  • The move truly represents the big bang structural reforms which will go a long way towards improving the climate for both workers and industry.
  • The reforms, it said, promise to reset the entire regulatory framework to benefit millions of workers and provide enterprises with flexibility, transparency and clarity.

Government Proposes to Formulate Retail Trade Policy: Piyush Goyal

  • The government has proposed to formulate a National Retail Trade Policy and stakeholder consultations are being held for the same, Parliament was informed. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said that the government has set up a National Traders' Welfare Board with the objectives of welfare of traders and their employees, simplification of the Acts and rules applicable to traders, reduction of compliance burden and improvement in acces to fubds.
  • he said the government is in the process of finalising a National Logistics Policy which will help bring down logistics cost significantly.
  • He also said 24 sub-sectors (such as agro-food processing, steel, agro chemicals, electronics products, furniture, leather, auto parts and textiles) in manufacturing have been identified in consultation with industry based on export potential, import substitution and employment generation capacity, where attention would be given to make India a self-reliant country and a global supplier.

Sep 23, 2020

Lok Sabha Passes Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020

  • The Lok Sabha passed a bill under which Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, will be the official languages in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Introducing the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy said that it was a demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the language they speak should be the official language.
  • The minister pointed out that 53.26 per cent of the population of Jammu and Kashmir speaks Kashmiri language.
  • Reddy said that 26.64 per cent of the population of the UT speaks Dogri while Urdu, which is currently its official language, is spoken only by 0.16 per cent population there. Still for the last 70 years, Urdu continues to be the official language of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that 2.36 per cent population in the UT speaks Hindi.

Parliament Passes Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill

  • The parliament passed a Bill that seeks to provide a legal framework for bilateral netting of qualified financial contracts.
  • Lok Sabha had passed the bill earlier.
  • The legislation allows for enforcement of netting for qualified financial contracts.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman termed the Bill as critical for financial stability in the country, and said that it brings in a firm legal basis for bilateral netting for two counter parties.
  • Bilateral contracts constitute 40 per cent of total financial contracts while multilateral contracts constitute 60 per cent.

Lok Sabha Clears 3 Labour Codes, Rajya Sabha 7 Bills

  • The Lok Sabha passed three labour codes to amalgamate 29 central laws into one to widen social security net for workers and make it easy for companies to do business.
  • Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said that the new framework would prove a game-changer for workers' welfare. The government has drafted four labour codes of which one — Code on Wages — has already become a law. There were 44 central labour laws in all, of which the government has repealed some.
  • The codes propose minimum wages, social security and pay parity. A concern around the codes is these allow employers of units with less than 300 workers to terminate employment without prior notice. The threshold limit earlier was 100 workers.
  • The RS, meanwhile, passed seven key Bills, including one that removes cereals, pulses and onion from the essential commodities' list.
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