Noida International Airport
- The foundation stone of the Noida International Airport at Jewar was laid by PM of India.
- It is spread across an area of 5,000 acres and is being developed by Zurich International Airport AG at an estimated cost of Rs 29,560 crore.
- It is part of the government’s aviation push to bring operational flights to smaller cities. It will be developed in four phases over the next 30 years.
- It will have multi-modal connectivity owing to its proximity to the existing Yamuna Expressway (Greater Noida to Agra), close to Eastern Peripheral Expressway and it will be linked with Delhi-Mumbai Expressway at Ballabhgarh, Khurja-Jewar NH 91, dedicated freight corridor, Metro Extension from Noida to NIA and the proposed High Speed Rail (Delhi-Varanasi) at airport terminal.
- A 60-meter wide road parallel to the Expressway proposed to be widened to 100 metres.
GS 2: Government schemes
- The Finance Ministry has allocated additional funds of ₹10,000 crore as an interim measure for the MGNREGA scheme after it ran out of funds allocated in the budget.
- These revised estimates will be included in supplementary budget demands made to Parliament when the winter session opens.
- Despite the additional allocations, the available funds stand at ₹76,340 crore, well below the ₹86,229 crore which have been incurred as expenditure, including payments due for wages and materials. The scheme’s balance sheets remain in the red in 24 States and Union Territories.
- In the meanwhile, more than ₹1,170 crore worth of wage payments for MGNREGA workers are still pending.
- Lack of funds results in suppression of demand for work and delayed payment of wages to workers. These are violations of the Act; they also constrain economic recovery.
- Whenever, additional funds are required, the Ministry of Finance is requested to provide the funds. In the previous financial year, the Ministry allocated ₹50,000 crore additional funds for the scheme over and above that of BE [budget estimates].
- Thus, the Government is committed to release funds for wage and material payments for proper implementation of the scheme as per the provisions of the Act and guidelines applicable for the Central Government as well as the State Governments.
Three-rate GST Structure
GS 3: Economy
- Recently, a study (Revenue Implications of GST Rates Restructuring in India: An Analysis.) has been conducted by National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and found that the Government can rationalise the GST rate structure without losing revenues by rejigging the four major rates of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28% with a three-rate framework of 8%, 15% and 30%.
- NIPFP is an autonomous think tank backed by the Finance Ministry.
- The nature of rate changes has also meant that over 40% of taxable turnover value now falls in the 18% tax slab, thus any move to dovetail that slab with a lower rate will trigger losses to the tax kitty that need to be offset by marginal hikes in other remaining major rates — 5% and 28%.
- The 28% rate is levied on demerit goods such as tobacco products, automobiles and aerated drinks, along with additional GST compensation cess.
- If the revenue loss from merging the 12% and 18% slabs were to be met by just hiking the rate on demerit or sin goods, the highest GST rate would have to be raised to almost 38%. Alternatively, the lowest standard rate will have to be raised from 5% to about 9%.
- The NIPFP also notes that raising rates on ‘high-value low volume goods’ like precious stones and jewellery ‘may encourage unaccounted (undisclosed) transactions and therefore revenue leakages’.