Daily Current Affairs - 16th Apr 2017

BHIM-Aadhar –a digital payment platform launched

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the BHIM-Aadhaar platform, putting in place yet another keystone of a digital payment system that will help India make the shift to a less-cash economy. The biometric-based indigenous payment solution will enable real-time bank-to-bank money transfers even for those without a phone and at no additional cost.
  • While customers won’t have to pay any additional charges, merchants and banks that have deployed point of sale (PoS) machines will get an incentive of 0.25% of transaction value for each one via the BHIMAadhaar platform. In contrast, a Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) has to be given to payment gateways such as Visa and MasterCard for debit or credit card transactions.

BRICS bank plans to issue rupee, yuan bonds this year: Kamath

  • The New Development Bank (NDB), set up by the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — plans to issue bonds this year in the Indian rupee and Chinese yuan.
  • The bank sold its first $437 million yuan-denominated bonds in China last year in July to fund clean energy projects in member-states.
  • Masala bonds of $300-500 million worth will be issued after July, added Kamath. Masala bonds are rupee-denominated bonds issued outside India.
  • BRICS bank was set up with an initial authorised capital of $100 billion after leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa signed a treaty for its establishment during the sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, in 2014. It officially opened in Shanghai in 2015.

Centre to issue advisory against service charge on food bills

  • The government plans to issue an advisory to states asking them to crack down against unfair imposition of service charge on food and drink bills.
  • The levying of service charge without seeking customer consent will be considered as unfair trade practice under the Consumer Protection Act, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in a statement
  • The minister said consumers should be informed about service charge in the menu card itself. In January, the department of consumer affairs stated that service charge on food bills is not compulsory and a customer can choose to have it waived if not satisfied with experience.

Chinese tourists splash out twice as much as Americans

  • Chinese tourists spent the most overseas last year, splashing out $261 billion while on vacation, according to the World Tourism Organization. That’s more than twice the amount of people from the US, the next biggest spenders.
  • Adjusting for foreign-exchange fluctuations, Chinese spending oversees rose 12 per cent in local currency, cementing the country’s position as the world’s biggest spender for the fifth consecutive year.

Govt eyes Rs. 35,000 cr from PSU stake sale

  • The union government is planning to divest stake in seven state-owned companies that are listed on the stock exchanges. This could fetch the exchequer about `35,000 crore, nearly half of the financial year 2017-18 (FY18) disinvestment target of ` 72,500 crore.
  • The finance ministry’s Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (Dipam) has issued formal requests for proposals for legal advisors and merchant bankers for the stake sale, through the offer-for-sale route. The seven companies are NHPC, NTPC, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation, Steel Authority of India, NLC India, and Indian Oil.

Irdai unveils online market place for selling policies by insurers

  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) has launched a web portal for insurers that will allow them to register and sell policies online.
  • The portal —isnp.irda.gov.in — is also open to intermediaries in insurance business, Irdai said in a circular.
  • The ISNP portal will offer host of services including change of policy details like name and address, collection of renewal premiums, surrender or withdrawals, fund switching, policy revival or cancellation or transfer, duplicate policy, death/maturity claim and other policy specific services.

LIC to soon get bankers on board for managing lending operations

  • LIC will soon obtain services of retired bankers to strengthen its lending operations and ensure that NPAs are kept at the minimum.
  • LIC has set up a cell for its lending, NPA resolution and one time settlement (OTS), sources said, adding the company will soon get experts particularly bankers to this portfolio.
  • At the end of March 2016, LIC had a debt portfolio of Rs.3.79 lakh crore, bigger than the loan portfolio of most banks. Its gross non performing assets stood at 3.76 per cent at the end of March 2016, up from 3.30 per cent in the previous year.

North Korea Shows Off New Missiles In Huge Parade

  • North Korea put on a huge military spectacle to celebrate its founder's birthday, parading its series of new and technologically advanced missiles in front of Kim Jong Un, and in a defiant show of force in front of the world.
  • April 15 is the most important day in the North Korean calendar, and Kim Jong Un has celebrated his grandfather's birthday with great fanfare as a way to boost his own legitimacy as the successor to the communist dynasty.
  • North Korea has been working on solid fuel, which means missiles are ready to fire and don't need loading with propellant like its previous liquid-fuel missiles, as a way to fire missiles quickly and without detection by satellites.

Operation Clean Money II: Over 60,000 to face tax department probe

  • Over 60,000 people are under the scanner of tax authorities under the second phase of Operation Clean Money, which was launched to detect black money hoarders after the demonetisation of high-value currency notes last year.
  • High-risk categories that are being probed by the tax department include businesses claiming cash sales as the source of cash deposits that are disproportionately larger than their past profile or industry norms.
  • Also under the investigation are large cash deposits made by government or public sector undertaking employees; persons who have undertaken high-value purchases; persons who have used shell entities for layering of funds; and where no responses were received to enquiries made in the first round.

PepsiCo, BCCI to sell mineral water at uniform prices

  • Beverage giant PepsiCo and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have decided to sell packaged mineral water at uniform prices.
  • PepsiCo’s mineral water brand Aquafina will be sold at the same price across the country, while BCCI has decided that prices of packaged mineral water, across all brands, will not be higher than MRP at its stadiums.
  • While the department is working on the matter, and going after those who are selling products at prices more than their MRP, Paswan has recently ruled out the possibility of a separate law to regulate MRP of packaged products.

PM launches GNFC’s cashless/less cash township model across 12 States

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a cashless/less cash township model, developed by Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GNFC), across 81 townships in 12 States.
  • These townships will deliver 2.5 lakh cashless transactions per day, translating into 9 crore cashless transactions in a year. GNFC’s township at Bharuch in Gujarat became India’s first cent per cent cashless township after demonetisation.
  • As per the PwC study of GNFC’s cashless initiatives, for over 96 per cent of farmers, cashless transactions resulted in cost savings arising from fewer trips to fertiliser shops and discounts on cashless transactions. Electronic transactions resulted in better money management for over 90 per cent farmers.

UP govt, Centre sign MoU for 'Power for All' scheme

  • Uttar Pradesh government and the Centre have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the 'Power for All' scheme in the state.
  • The aim of this scheme is to ensure 24-hour quality power supply in the state by October 2018 and electric connection to every house and agriculture field by 2019.
  • The agreement was inked in presence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal and UP Power Minster Shrikant Sharma. This agreement aims to ensure that consumers get quality electricity at an affordable price.

World Bank sanctions $ 375 million loan for India’s first waterway project

  • The World Bank has approved a $375-million loan to India’s first waterway project. The National Waterway 1 project is to create a water transport fairway on a 1,360-km stretch of the Ganga river between Varanasi and Haldia.
  • The project will help build the infrastructure needed to develop water transportation in the area. It will finance the construction of six multi-modal terminals, 10 RORO jetties, ship-repair facilities as well as passenger jetties along the river. It will also help modernise the ageing Farakka lock and add a new lock to allow for smoother passage of boats.
  • The project will also help the Inland Waterways Authority of India acquire a River Information System as well as navigation aids to make travel on the river safer and more reliable.