Current Affairs - January 2017

Highlights of Economic Survey 2016-17

Union finance Minister Arun Jaitley tabled the Economic Survey 2016-17 in Parliament budget session. The survey prepared by chief economic adviser in the finance ministry Arvind Subramanian.

The survey projects the economy to grow in the range of 6.75% to 7.25% in fiscal year 2017-18 in the post-demonetisation year. It says that the adverse impact of demonetisation on GDP growth will be transitional.

Major highlights from the Economic Survey 2016-17
  • Growth Forecast: Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2016-17 pegged at 6.5%, down from 7.6% in last fiscal 2015-16.
  • Economic growth to rebound to 6.75 to 7.5% in 2017-18.
  • Farm sector to grow at 4.1% in 2016-17, up from 1.2% in 2015-16.
  • Growth rate of industrial sector estimated to moderate to 5.2% in 2016-17 from 7.4% in 2015-16.
  • Service sector is estimated to grow at 8.9% in 2016-17
  • GST, other structural reforms should take the growth rate trend  to 8-10%.
  • Taxation: Prescribes cut in individual Income Tax rates, real estate stamp duties.
  • IT net could be widened gradually by encompassing all high income earners.
  • Time table for cutting corporate tax should be accelerated.
  • Tax administration could be improved to reduce discretion and improve accountability.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): Fiscal gains from GST will take time to realise.
  • Fiscal Deficit: Implementation of muted tax receipts, wage hike to put pressure on fiscal deficit in 2017-18.
  • For fiscal health of the economy fiscal prudence for both centre and states is needed.
  • Fiscal windfall from low oil prices to disappear in 2017-18.
  • Inflation: The average consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate declined to 4.9% in 2015-16 from 5.9% in 2014-15. CPI-based core inflation remained sticky around 5% in the 2016-17.
  • Oil prices, seen rising by one-sixth in 2017-18 over the previous fiscal 2016-17 prices which could dampen India’s economic growth.
  • Monetary Policy: monetary easing headroom may be capped due to sharp rise in prices in 2017-18.
  • Market interest rates seen lower in 2017-18 due to demonetisation.
  • Government Debt to GDP ratio: It was 68.5% in 2016, down from 69.1% in 2015.
  • Banking: Suggests setting up public sector asset rehabilitation agency (PSARA) to take charge of large bad loans in banks. With government backing, PSAR can overcome coordination and political issues on bad loans.
  • Demonetisation: The adverse impact of demonetisation on GDP growth will be transitional. It will affect growth rate by 0.25-0.5%, but to have long-term benefits
  • It may affect supplies of certain agricultural products like sugar, milk, potatoes and onions.
  • Remonetisation will ensure that the cash squeeze is eliminated by April 2017.
  • Universal Basic Income (UBI): Advocates the concept of UBI as an alternative to the various social welfare schemes in an effort to reduce poverty.
  • It will be alternative to plethora of state subsidies for poverty alleviation. UBI would cost between 4 and 5% of GDP

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Bombay Natural History Society launches climate change programme in Central Himalayas

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has launched climate change programme to conduct study to assess the status, distribution and conservation of Pheasants and Finches in Central Himalayas.

It is long-term monitoring project funded by Oracle and facilitated by CAF-India. It will focus on their conservation in the context of climate change with the help of community participation.

Background
  • The Himalayas hold a rich natural heritage with diverse flora and fauna enhancing the beauty of the region.
  • Indian subcontinent is home to nearly 62 species of finches and 50 species of pheasants, with several species listed in ‘Globally Threatened’ category by IUCN. Both these groups are spread across the Himalayas.
  • Shrinking habitats combined with several biotic factors, along with poaching and trapping pressures in many areas have pushed several of them to near extinction.
  • Besides, climate change is influencing vertical and horizontal distribution of these groups. Those species adapting with it will be able survive, but those species sensitive to temperature rise will suffer.
Climate change programme 
  • It will help in making an inventory of pheasants and finches, documentation of local specific conservation issues, and designing local as well as species specific conservation action plan with the community participation.
  • The conservation action plan of these sites will be the first step towards the protection of the ecosystem which benefits both biodiversity as well as the people in the system.
  • It also aims to assess the socio-economic activities of local communities and involve them in conservation efforts and sensitize the local forest department staff.

About Bombay Natural History Society (BHNS)

BNHS is one of the largest non-governmental organisations in India engaged in conservation and biodiversity research. It was founded on 15 September 1883 and headquartered at Hornbill House, Mumbai. It supports many research efforts through grants and publishes the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. Department of Science and Technology has designated as a ‘Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’.

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