National Current Affairs

Union Cabinet approves setting up National Anti-profiteering Authority

The Union Cabinet approved setting up of National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA), an apex body with an overarching mandate under Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime so as to ensure the benefit of tax reaches consumers.

It also approved creation of posts of Chairman and Technical Members of National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) under GST regime.

National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA)

The NAA is tasked with ensuring full benefits of reduction in tax on supply of goods or services flow to consumers. It is responsible for applying anti-profiteering measures in event of reduction GST rate on supply of goods or services or if benefit of input tax credit is not passed on to recipients by way of commensurate reduction in prices.

Composition

NAA will be headed by senior officer of level of a Secretary to Union Government and shall have four technical members from Centre and/or States. The chairman and four members will be less than 62 years of age.

Powers and functions

If NAA finds that company has not passed on benefits of tax reduction, it can direct entity to pass on benefits to consumers along with interest from the date of collection of the higher amount till date of return of such amount.

If the beneficiary cannot be identified, NAA can ask company to transfer amount to the ‘Consumer Welfare Fund’, as provided under Section 57 of CGST Act.

In extreme cases NAA can impose a penalty on defaulting business entity and even order cancellation of its registration under GST.

NAA also has power to cancel registration of any entity or business if it fails to pass on benefit of lower taxes under GST regime to consumers, and empowers consumers to approach it in case of any complaint.

Background

The anti-profiteering framework under new indirect tax regime consists of NAA at top level, standing committee, screening committees in every state and Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS) in Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC). The GST Council earlier had approved setting up of five-member NAA to enable consumers to file complaints in case benefits are not transferred to them

Section 171 of Central GST Act pertaining to anti-profiteering, provides that any reduction in rate of tax on supply of goods or services or benefit of input tax credit must be passed on to recipient (consumer) by way of commensurate reduction in prices.

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Government launches Saubhagya Web Portal

Ministry of Power launched Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – ‘Saubhagya’ Web Portal. The portal can be accessed at http://saubhagya.gov.in.

The web portal aims to ensure transparency as well as accelerate household electrification in rural as well as urban areas in the country.

Key Facts

Saubhagya web portal will enable every state to fill current status of progress of electrification works which will enable accountability for State DISCOMs/utilities. It offers feature on village electrification camps that will be organised by DISCOMs in villages for facilitating instant filling up of application forms and to complete requisite documentation to expedite release of electricity connections to households.

Saubhagya Scheme

Saubhagya scheme (Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana) was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2017 with an aim at providing last mile electricity connectivity to all rural and urban households. Under it, government will provide all willing households in rural areas and poor families in urban areas free electricity connections identified under Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data 2011. Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) is nodal agency for operationalization of the scheme throughout the country.

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