Morning Brief: Cabinet Shake-Up On Cards; Jaitley Hints At Fewer GST Slabs; Musharraf Declared Fugitive
Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
Major Cabinet Shake-Up On Cards: As part of a larger restructuring of the Narendra Modi-led Union cabinet, at least five central ministers quit on Thursday. Skill Development Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State for Health Faggan Singh Kulaste and Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Sanjiv Balyan have been asked to put in their papers. Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah held a series of meetings with senior party leaders on cabinet reshuffle. Meanwhile, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati has offered to quit on health grounds, while Mahendra Nath Pandey, who is Minister of State in the Human Resource Development Ministry, is set to leave after his appointment as the chief of BJP's Uttar Pradesh unit and in view of the one man one post principle. Sources said Kalraj Mishra, Medium and Small Scale Industries Minister, who is above 75 years but was allowed to continue because of Uttar Pradesh polls, may be headed to the Raj Bhavan.
New Deadline For Linking Aadhaar-PAN: In a good news for tax payers, the Union government on Thursday extended by four months, the deadline to link Aadhaar and PAN till 31 December. The deadline for linking PAN with Aadhaar for taxpayers was to end on 31 August. This move comes at a time when a similar extension has been granted for furnishing Aadhaar to avail benefits of social welfare schemes. The government had made it must for people to link their Aadhaar with their PAN for income tax returns from this year and warned that those not adhering to the rule could lose their permanent account numbers. Incidentally, 31 December is also the deadline for people to link their bank accounts with Aadhaar.
Major Bureaucratic Reshuffle: In a major bureaucratic reshuffle, former home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi was made the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, while former India Administrative Services (IAS) officer Sunil Arora was on Thursday appointed as the Chief Election Commissioner. Mehrishi’s tenure as union home secretary ended on Thursday. He was replaced by Rajiv Gauba. Meanwhile, senior bureaucrat Rajiv Kumar was appointed Secretary in the Department of Financial Services while Anita Karwal was named Central Board of Secondary Education chairperson as 17 IAS officers were appointed in various central government departments. Karwal, a Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, was appointed in place of Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi, who will now be the director general of National Skill Development Agency,
Jaitley Hints At Fewer GST Slabs In Future: The number of tax slabs under the goods and services tax (GST) regime could be reduced once the new indirect tax system that was launched on 1 July settles down, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley indicated on Thursday. The GST Council, which takes decisions on all indirect tax matters, may consider the idea of collapsing the standard rates of 12 per cent and 18 per cent into one in due course, Jaitley said. He was speaking at the India summit organised by The Economist in New Delhi. Jaitley said the council chose to keep four rates, 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent, rather than a single rate for all products keeping in mind the fact that consumers are in different income groups. The minister said that the council kept many products in the lower rates of 5 per cent and 12 per cent, which ensured that the GST roll out did not have an inflationary effect.
High Growth: India Needs 10 Champions Of States, Says NITI Aayog CEO: India needs about “10 champions of states” to push growth rate to 10 per cent plus level, NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant said on Thursday. “You need about 10 champions of states in India to grow at 10 per cent plus. You need to create a huge sense of competition among these states. If they grow then India grows very rapidly,” he said during a panel discussion at the Economist Summit here. Stressing on institutional restructuring to achieve a high rate of growth, Kant said that seven eastern states and 201 districts are holding India back and it is not possible for the country to grow without improving quality of life in these states and districts.
Economic Growth Slows To 5.7 Per Cent: India’s economy unexpectedly slowed to a three-year low in the April-June quarter. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 5.7 per cent in the last quarter, undershooting market expectations, compared to 6.1 per cent in January-March period. Gross value added in the manufacturing sector fell sharply to 1.2 per cent, from 10.7 per cent year on year, as the businesses focused more on clearing inventories rather than production ahead of the 1 July launch of goods and services tax. A separate set of official data showed that growth of eight core sectors slowed to 2.4 per cent in July due to contraction in output of crude oil, refinery products, fertiliser and cement. The drop was even sharper when compared to the like-quarter a year ago when GDP expanded at 7.9 per cent, official data released on Thursday showed.
Musharraf Declared Fugitive In Bhutto's Murder Trial: An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan sentenced two police officers to 17 years in jail on Thursday and declared former military ruler Pervez Musharraf a fugitive in the murder case of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The court’s verdict, which came nine years, eight months and three days after Bhutto was killed, also directed authorities to seize the property and assets of Musharraf, now in self-imposed exile in Dubai, and to issue perpetual arrest warrants for the former dictator. As a “proclaimed offender” or fugitive, Musharraf, 74, must be arrested and brought to trial if he returns to Pakistan. He was allowed to leave the country in 2016 for medical treatment while awaiting trial in several cases.
Trump Ties Pakistan Aid To Action On Terror: America’s message to Pakistan is simple: Need aid, act on terror. The Donald Trump administration has notified Congress that it has given $225 million worth of conditional military assistance to Pakistan that the country can access only if it takes more action against terror groups. The announcement comes over a week after President Donald Trump hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to terror groups that kill Americans in Afghanistan. He also warned Pakistan that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists. The $255 million in military assistance was the largest portion of $1.1 billion in aid authorised by Congress in 2016 that also included money for counter narcotics operations and health initiatives, the New York Times reported. The US has provided Pakistan more than $ 33 billion in aid since 2002.
MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS
Digital Mapping Of Rural India, Courtesy Rural Development Ministry: With more than 65 per cent people in the hinterland, rural India is largely dependent on budgets sanctioned for the Rural Development Ministry. In the last two years, the ministry has taken steps to leverage digital tools for effective management of work under its departments.
The Intelligent Shall Adopt Artificial Intelligence Early: Artificial intelligence is fast evolving from an obscure curiosity of the last decade to a powerful utility of the current one. Corporations must start embracing AI early, as it is going to disrupt their industries sooner than one can anticipate.
The Lessons Of Demonetisation: Every policy has a stated goal as well as secondary consequences, some of which are unintended. A good policy should take into account how people will respond to any change in the rules of the game.
The World Didn’t Learn Enough From The 2007-2008 Financial Crisis: US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen has made an impassioned case for governments sticking with tighter regulations imposed after the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Donald Trump wants to return to the ugly days that Raghuram Rajan warned about.
Dumping PDS For Cash Transfer Will Stop Foodgrain Wastage, End Market Distortion And Empower The Poor: The problems with PDS are manifold, and fixing the inefficiencies would not be worth the effort. Wouldn’t it make everyone’s life easier, including that of the poor, if they directly received the money in their bank accounts?
We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!
SUBSCRIBE NOW: The August issue of our magazine is out now. The cover story focuses on dharma: in order to live your dharma, you will need to be your dharma, in every decision, you will have to weigh the scales of justice, evaluate the moral impact on your department, company – and most of all, yourself – Dharma And The Manager. Get a copy home and enjoy reading Swarajya in print. Subscribe here to start receiving your copies for just Rs 349.
Swarajya Apps: Enjoy reading morning brief and all other articles from Swarajya on your mobile. Download our app here on Android and iOS.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.