Nirmala Sitaraman Current Affairs - 2020

India attends third G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meet

On July 18, 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman participated in third G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meet. The meet was presided by Saudi Arabia.

Highlights

During the first meeting, India shared its G20 Action plan in response to COVID-19 that was endorsed by all the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors. During the third meet, India shared global economic outlook amid evolving COVID-19 crisis.

Discussions

India discussed two of the deliverables at the meet. One was about enhancing access to opportunities for women and youth. The other was about international taxation agenda related to digital sector.

Authority of Advance Ruling: Alcohol based hand sanitizer to attract 18% GST

On July 14, 2020, the Goa Bench of GST Authority of Advance Ruling (AAR) pronounced that alcohol-based sanitizers will attract 18% GST.

Highlights

The Springfields Distilleries had moved to Goa AAR over the GST rates and the classification of hand sanitizers as essential commodity. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs had recently classified hand sanitizers as essential commodity.

Essential Commodity

Essential Commodity are goods that are considered essential to maintain a minimum acceptable standard of living.

Essential Commodity Act

Essential commodity Act was enacted in 1955 to ensure delivery of certain products and commodities. These products are those whose supply when obstructed would affect normal life of the people.

The list of commodities under the law include fertilizers, drugs, edible oils, petroleum and petroleum products. Under the law, the centre can include new commodities as when needed. Currently there are 9 commodities included. They are

  • Fertilizers-Organic, Inorganic and mixed
  • Food items (including edible oils)
  • Seeds of food crops and seeds of fruits and vegetables
  • Face Masks
  • Hand Sanitizers
  • Drugs
  • Petroleum and petroleum products
  • Raw jute and jute textiles

Proposed Amendment

In May 2020, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman had announced that the act is to be amended. According to the proposed amendment, the stock limit under the act will be imposed only under exceptional circumstances such as calamities and famine. Other proposed amendments

  • There will be no stock limit for supply chain owners
  • Deregulation of agricultural produce such as onion, pulses, potato and cereals.

What is the issue?

By declaring a commodity as essential the Government of India can control production, supply and distribution of the commodity and also impose stock limit. Thus, this will affect the businesses that are reliant on such commodities. Thus, the private firm had filed a case with Goa AAR.

Authority for Advance Ruling

The AAR helps businesses plan their activities that are liable for payment of GST.