22 Dec, 2015
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1) Indian Parliament on 7 December 2015 passed an amendment bill that permits the filing of cases at the place where a cheque is presented for clearance and not the place of issue. What is the name of this bill? – Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015
Explanation: The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was passed by the Lok Sabha in the monsoon session. The bill was finally passed by the Parliament on 7 December as it was passed by the Rajya Sabha.
- The bill seeks to overturn a Supreme Court ruling which said cases have to be initiated where the cheque-issuing branch was located. It also provides that cases of cheque bouncing can now be filed only in a court that has jurisdiction over the bank branch of the payee.
- If a complaint against a person issuing a bounced cheque has been filed in the court with the appropriate jurisdiction, then all subsequent complaints against that person will be filed in the same court. The changes in the Negotiable Instruments Act will have implications for over 1.8 million cheque bounce cases pending in various courts.
2) The govt. committee on the proposed goods and services tax (GST) has suggested how much standard rate of GST as disclosed on 4 December 2015? – 16.9-19.9%
Explanation: The government-constituted committee on GST headed by Arvind Subramanian, the Chief Economic Advisor (CEA), submitted its report to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 4 December 2015.
- The committee recommended that the standard GST rate be in the range of 16.9-17.9%. The standard rate would apply to most goods and services under the new indirect tax regime.
- The committee also recommended that 1% tax proposed to be levied on the inter-state trade of goods to help the manufacturing states be done away with. This is one of the major demands of the Congress. The committee recommended other rates, with the lowest rate for goods at 12% and the highest rate at 40%. The highest rate is for demerit goods such as alcohol.
3) Union Finance Ministry on 16 December 2015 made it mandatory to quote PAN (permanent account number) for all transactions in excess of Rs.2 lakh, regardless of the mode of payment, to curb black money. This guideline will come into effect from which date? – 1 January 2016
Explanation: The new rule, to come into effect from 1 January 2016 will cover purchases of all goods or services, such as say gold jewellery or furniture. This includes all payments made through cash, cheques or debit or credit cards.
- In the case of immovable property, where quoting PAN is currently required for transactions of Rs.5 lakh, the government has decided to raise the monetary limits to Rs.10 lakh.
- As far as one-time payment of hotel or restaurant bills is concerned, the Finance Ministry raised the monetary limit to Rs.50,000 from the present limit of Rs. 25,000.
- The limit is being raised to Rs.1 lakh from Rs. 50,000 for purchase or sale of shares of an unlisted company.
- However, opening of a no-frills bank account, such as a Jan Dhan account, will not require PAN.
4) The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.25 percentage points on 16 December 2015. This was the first interest rate increase by the Fed since which year? – Since 2006
Explanation: The increase in interest rate by Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States was on the expected lines. The Fed’s benchmark interest rate has been pegged at 0-0.25 per cent since December 2008. The last time the Fed actually raised rates was June 2006.
- The move is likely to cause ripples around the world, and could increase pressure on the UK to raise rates. It could also mean higher borrowing costs for developing economies, many of which are already seeing slow growth.
- There are concerns that a rise will compound that slowdown, as higher rates in the US could strengthen the dollar, the currency in which many countries and companies borrow.
5) Which country replaced Mauritius to become the largest source of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into India during the first half of the current fiscal, as disclosed by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) during December 2015? – Singapore
Explanation: According to data from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), during April-September 2015, India has attracted $6.69 billion (Rs 43,096 crore) FDI from Singapore while from Mauritius, it received $3.66 billion (Rs 23,490 crore). In the last one year, the FDI inflow from Singapore has more than doubled from levels of $2.41 billion.
- It is worth mentioning that the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with Singapore incorporates Limit-of-Benefit (LoB) clause, which has provided comfort to foreign investors based there to invest in India. This has triggered more FDI inflows from Singapore.
- Overall, Singapore accounted for 15% of the total FDI India received during April 2000 and September 2015, while Mauritius’ share stood at a commanding 34% during the same period.
6) During December 2015 which public sector bank received its Board’s approval to raise funds by diluting government stake to 52% from the current 65%? – Dena Bank
Explanation: Dena Bank’s board of directors gave the nod for capital-raising plans at its meeting on 3 December 2015. Besides the stake dilution, the bank also plans to raise capital through additional tier-I bonds of up to Rs. 1,500 crore in one or more tranches in one or more instruments. Additionally, it will also raise capital through tier-II bonds of up to Rs. 1,000 crore.
- Last year, the government allowed public sector banks to reduce their stake to 52% in order to meet capital requirements as per the Basel-III norms. Basel norms, tailored for Indian banks, mandate a minimum capital adequacy ratio of 9%.
- The law requires that government holding in public sector banks at any point cannot fall below 51% in order to maintain its public sector character.
7) A historic climate agreement was adopted unanimously at the UN Climate Change Summit (COP21) in Paris on 12 December 2015 with 196 countries adopting a goal of “well below 2 degrees C” for temperature rise, and instituting a regime of financing of developing economies to help make the transition. This agreement is scheduled to come into effect from which year? – 2020
Explanation: The main objective of this historic agreement is to achieve a legally binding, international agreement to keep average global temperatures no more than 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures.
- The COP21 agreement was achieved on 12 December 2015 after two weeks of talks and an intensive three days of convergence negotiations at the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris. The Summit had started on 30 November 2015.
- The agreement is scheduled to go into effect from 2020 while first global evaluation of the implementation of the agreement is to take place in 2023, and thereafter every five years to help all countries. Pledges by countries with an end date of 2025 or 2030 will need to be updated by 2020, and enhanced action every five years thereafter.
8) Insurance major Sun Life will increase its stake in Birla Sun Life Insurance (BSLI) to 49% from 26% as announced by Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd (ABNL) on 3 December 2015. Sun Life is a leading insurance service provider of which country? – Canada
Explanation: BSLI is one of the leading private life insurance players in India, with the new business premium market share of 7.9% for the half year ended 30 September 2015.
- With this stake sale Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd (ABNL), the majority stake-holder in the company will have the remaining 51% stake in the enterprise. The transaction is expected to close by the end of financial year 2015-16, subject to the customary closing conditions and the requisite statutory and regulatory approvals in India and Canada.
- The 23% stake sale will fetch ABNL Rs. 1,664 crore, valuing BSLI at Rs. 7,235 crore.
9) Which state has emerged as the biggest economy within Indian states as disclosed in a latest report released during December 2015 by credit rating agency Brickwork Ratings? – Maharashtra
Explanation: Brickwork’s fourth edition of a nationwide multi-state research to analyze finances of all the Indian states was released on 1 December 2015. This report rated Maharashtra as the biggest economy within India at Rs 16.87 lakh crore in terms of gross state domestic product (GSDP). It is followed by Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
- The report mentioned the fact that Maharashtra earns approximately 70% of its total receipts through tax revenues, which is the highest among the bigger states. In this aspect it is followed by Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
- The manufacturing sector in Gujarat and Maharashtra accounted for 27.26% and 25.18% of GSDP respectively in 2014-15. Other states with higher manufacturing sector share were Tamil Nadu (19.1%), Jharkhand (18.8%) and Haryana (18.1%).
- Karnataka leads in the growth of services sector, largely due to the growth in the IT/BPO/ KPO sector, followed by Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
- The three fastest-growing states were Bihar at 17.06 per cent, MP (16.86%) and Goa (16.43%). The laggards were Telangana at 5.3%, Punjab (10.16%), Rajasthan (11%).
- Meanwhile, at a national level, India’s GDP growth rate at 7.3% in 2015 exceeded that of China, which grew at 6.9%.
10) The 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded on 19 December 2015 with some landmark agreements on a series of trade initiatives. This WTO Conference was held at – Nairobi (Kenya)
Explanation: The WTO’s Tenth Ministerial Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15 to 19 December 2015, the first such meeting hosted by an African nation. The Conference was chaired by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amina Mohamed.
- Before conclusion of the Conference, six ministerial decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries were released. These included a commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports, which Director-General Roberto Azevêdo hailed as the “most significant outcome on agriculture” in the organization’s 20-year history.
- However, the talks ended without any commitment on rich countries being asked to check their domestic subsidies. India expressed its disappointment over non-reaffirmation to conclude 14-year-old Doha Round pacts.
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