(Current Affairs) Economy & Energy | June: 2014


Universal numbers by EPFO

  • Retirement fund body EPFO will provide permanent or universal account numbers (UAN) on the pattern of core banking services to its over five crore active subscribers by October 15 this year.
  • Under core banking services, a customer can avail the bank services in any of its branch through his allotted unique account number.
  • The UAN will facilitate subscribers in avoiding filing of PF transfer claims on changing jobs.
  • UAN will be allotted to the present active members by October 15, 2014 and thereafter the coverage of other members will be taken up.
  • After getting UAN, a subscriber would not be issued new PF account number on joining new firm. It is expected to provide great relief to those workers in organised sector who frequently change jobs, particularly, in construction sector.
  • The UAN would be one account number which would be allotted to a subscriber for various schemes run by the EPFO for his entire service period with different employers.

Communicated monetary policies

  • Calibrated and clearly communicated monetary policies will build trust and improve business sentiments across the world by leaving little room for speculations , according to the Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram.
  • Recent risks of very low inflation in euro areas might demand use of appropriate tools in the coming time to thwart deflation tendencies.
  • Mr Mayaram represented India during the ongoing spring meet of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  • In terms of exchange rate policy, while flexible exchange rates are desirable, a cautious approach should be followed before going for currency revaluations which can result in trust deficit and currency wars.

Electronic Travel Authorisation

  • The move to grant in principle approval for Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to travellers from 180 countries to India will boost tourism in the country,according to the tourism Secretary Parvez Dewan.

  • Travelling to India will be made easy once the ETA to visit the country becomes operational.

  • ETA will allow foreign travellers to apply for a visa from home and receive an online confirmation in five working days, is expected to become operational by October. Barring eight prior reference countries, which include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, government has decided to give e-visa to all the 180 countries.

  • India had considerably relaxed its visa regime and expanded the Visa-on-Arrival (VoA) scheme.

  • India launched the VoA scheme in January 2010 for citizens of five countries – Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore — visiting India for tourism purposes. The scheme was later extended to six more countries in January 2011.

Walmart’s online marketplace model

  • In a first for the domestic retail industry, the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, plans to set up an online marketplace model in its cash-and-carry stores in the country.
  • The company is entering the wholesale e-commerce space and will extend the business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform to its Best Price Modern Wholesale store members.
  • The platform will provide them with a convenient online shopping opportunity. As an exclusive virtual store for its members, the e-commerce platform will provide a similar assortment of products, as well as special items.
  • Online retail, at present, accounts for less than 1% of the total market in India, but this space is slated to grow at 50-55% over the next three years to reach R50,400 crore by 2016, according to a report by Crisil.

Greek bond Issued

  • Greece’s Finance Ministry says its first return to the markets in four years has seen strong demand, with the country raising 3 billion euros through five-year bonds at a coupon rate of 4.75 per cent.
  • Nearly 90 per cent of the sale was to international investors.
  • The bond sale is Greece’s first since 2010, when it became locked out of the international debt market by high interest rates due to a severe financial crisis. It has been relying on international bailout funds ever since.

Muscle added to IAF Sukhoi

  • MRF is set to emerge as a major supplier of tyres for the Indian Air Force (IAF) as the country’s leading tyre maker has now created yet another record of supplying aircraft tyres for the defence.

  • After successfully producing and supplying tyres for Indian defence helicopters, the company has now started supplying indigenously developed tyres for Sukhoi 30 MKI, the most advanced fighter aircraft group in the IAF fleet.

  • Though MRF has been supplying tyres to various vehicles of Defence Forces, its journey to supply aviation tyres began in 2001. After meeting all requirements and securing approvals from various authorities, it started supplying helicopter tyres for Chetak fleet in 2008. In the same year, it took up the project of developing main wheel tyres for Sukhoi 30 MKI.

  • After completion of the tests, the product has been cleared by CEMILAC (The certifying authority for Military aviation) for commercial production in 2012. These tyres are being produced at its facility at Medak (Andhra Pradesh).

Fourth highest billionaires of the world in India by 2023

  • India is projected to be home to the fourth highest number of billionaires in the world by 2023, according to a report which said wealth creation will accelerate in the country over the next decade.

  • The 2014 Wealth Report, an annual global perspective on prime property and wealth by property management firm Knight Frank, projected that the number of billionaires in India will grow by an exponential 98 per cent to 119 in the year 2023 from 60 billionaires last year.

  • India will rank fourth after US, China and Russia in 2023 and will have more billionaires than the UK, Germany and France, according to the report.

  • The report said that by 2024, Mumbai is also projected to figure in the top 10 global cities.

Switzerland no more the perfect spot for  tax evaders

  • Switzerland may no longer be a honeymoon spot for tax evaders. A new international standard of tax data sharing is set to make things harder for tax haven networks around the world that have in the past included Switzerland and tiny island nations and enclaves. But India would have to frame new laws to make use of the new system.

  • The new standard, radically different from the current system, aims to prevent wealth from flowing into financial “black holes” through a systematic global regime of information sharing.

  • Banks and authorities using secrecy laws to evade governments trying to hunt down black money hoarders could lose much of their power. Past offenders, who have so far easily escaped by moving assets, will be in a fix when information about them gets leaked.

  • However, there are some loopholes. Vast amounts of illicit money are concealed through anonymity of contributors in trusts and foundations.

Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor

  • The Maharashtra government formally signed shareholder and state support agreements for the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project, in Mumbai recently.

  • The project aims at generating industrial output of Rs 20 lakh crore by 2042.

  • DMIC is slated to be developed in two phases, with the project cost for the first phase being Rs 17,319 crore. Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and DMIC Trust has formed a joint venture to execute the project, in which MIDC will hold 51% stake, while the remaining 49% will be held by DMIC.

  • The DMIC projects in Maharashtra would cover nearly 29% of land area and 18% project influence area. Around 26% of the state’s population would come under the corridor that covers eight districts - Thane, Raigad, Pune, Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik, Ahmednagar and Aurangabad.

Natco and Indian patent dispute case

  • Natco Pharmaceuticals, the Hyderabad-based drug manufacturer, has won a patent case against Teva Pharmaceuticals of Israel.

  • The New Delhi High Court dismissed Teva’s suit seeking an injunction over the marketing of a generic version of multiple sclerosis drug, copaxone (glatiramer acetate) in the U.S. While Teva does not have a patent on the drug in India, the injunction sought to prevent Natco exporting it.

  • The decision could allow Natco to launch generic version of Teva’s Copaxone in the U.S., subject to approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (USFDA).

  • The patent on the $4 billion sales drug, expires in the U.S. on May 24, 2014.

  • Teva sued Natco, seeking an injunction as it alleged Natco’s move infringed on its process patent.

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