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Monthly DNA

26 Mar, 2021

20 Min Read

Modified tax system

GS-III : Economic Issues Tax

Modified tax system


  • This article analyses the amendments brought to the Finance Bill 2021 regarding taxation matters
  • Finance Minister has steered through Parliament the Finance Bill of 2021, which includes 127 amendments.

Issues with the Rs.2.5 lac per year limit

  • Responding to MPs’ concerns on the tax, she said that nearly 93% PF account holders will be covered by the ?2.5 lakh per year limit, while a mere 1% were abusing the system.
  • Yet, she introduced an amendment doubling the threshold for annual PF contributions to ?5 lakh, only for employees whose employers do not remit any contribution to their retirement fund account.
  • For the crores of Employees’ PF account holders in the private sector, this ?5 lakh threshold is a non-starter as an employer-employee relationship is an implicit requirement to open an EPF account.
  • While employees may voluntarily enhance contributions beyond the statutory wage limit of ?15,000 a month and employers are not bound to match enhanced contributions, a ‘zero employer contribution’ scenario is not possible for EPF members.
  • This suggests that only some senior government staff who joined service before 2004 and are not part of the NPS will benefit from this concession, as they contribute to the GPF account and get a defined benefit pension separately.
  • In a country with a large informal workforce and sparse social security systems, reasonable savings for retirement should not be penalised.

Increasing the cap can be a solution

  • The least the government could have done was to offer the same cap of ?5 lakh to EPF members, by including their employer contributions during the year.
  • As things stand now, annual investments into the PPF that anyone can open, are capped at ?1.5 lakh.
  • Similarly, employee PF contributions beyond ?1.5 lakh are not tax-deductible under Section 80C of the I-T Act, but income on such contributions beyond ?2.5 lakh will be taxable and employer contributions into the EPF, NPS or any superannuation pension fund are capped at ?7.5 lakh.
  • And the income on GPF contributions up to ?5 lakh would be tax-free.

Way ahead

  • To top this off, the new Wages Code will compel employers to pay higher EPF contributions by linking them to at least half of their total pay on a cost to company basis, rather than 24% of basic pay presently.
  • This will virtually force many EPF members into contributing over ?2.5 lakh a year.
  • This either reflects a lack of system-wide thinking, with two arms of the government working at cross purposes, or an ingenious ploy to stir up tax collections.
  • With doubts on the implementation of this new tax yet to be addressed, the government must consider putting it on hold and think through its implications.

Source: TH

Tulips in Jammu & Kashmir

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Wildlife & Fauna

Tulips in Jammu & Kashmir

The Prime Minister through a tweet asked everyone to visit a tulip garden in Jammu and Kashmir. The garden is located at the foothills of the Zabarwan range.

About the Tulip Garden:

  • The tulip garden is located at the foothills of the Zabarwan range. It is Asia’s largest tulip garden, spreading over an area of about 30 hectares.
  • This garden is home to more than 64 varieties of tulips in bloom. It was started in 2007 to boost floriculture and tourism in Kashmir Valley.

About Zabarwan Range:

  • It is a short sub-mountain range between Pir Panjal and Great Himalayan Range. It is located in the central part of the Kashmir Valley.
  • The highest peak of this range is Mahadev Peak at 13,013 feet (3,966 m). It forms the distant background of the eastern mountain wall.
  • The Shankaracharya Temple is built on the edge of the central part of the Zabarwan Range.
  • On the northern slopes of the central part of the range, there are three Mughal gardens built by Emperor Shah Jahan. These include Chashma Shahi, Nishat Bagh, and Shalimar Garden alongside the Pari Mahal.
  • The Zabarwan mountain range possesses great Himalayan features with rich wildlife. The Dachigam National Park is the main feature of the range.
  • The Dachigam National Park holds the last viable population of Kashmir stag (Hangul). Further, the National Park also has the largest population of black bears in Asia.

Source: TH

Oxfam Inequality Index

GS-II : Important reports Important reports

Oxfam Inequality Index

The Oxfam’s Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index, 2020 ranked India at 129 overall out of 158 countries. But the Minister of Labour and Employment has said that the index lacked clarity & the report did not take into account various initiatives taken by the government.

About Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index:

  • It is released by Oxfam International.
  • The index ranks 158 countries. The Index measures the policies and actions in three areas directly related to reducing inequality. The three areas are:
    • Public services(health, education and social protection)
    • Taxation and
    • Worker’s rights

Index's Findings Related to India:

  • India has been ranked 129 overall in the index out of 158 countries.

Ranking based on Parameters:

  • India has ranked 141 in terms of its public services such as health, education and social protection.
  • India has ranked 19th in the index, in terms of taxation.
  • India has fared poorly in protecting labour rights and has slipped to rank 151.

Other Key Findings:

  • The index has been topped by Norway followed by Denmark and Germany.

Objections raised by the Indian Government:

  • The rank assigned to India and the methodology adopted is not clear. The index does not take into account the provisions of the four new labour codes which protects labour rights.
  • India is not a signatory to two International Labour Organisation conventions. But the principles of the conventions were available to Indian workers. The Index does not take account of this. The two conventions are,
    • Freedom of association and protection of the right to organise convention(C87).
    • The right to organise and collective bargaining(C98).

Source: IE

Shigmotsav Festival of Goa

GS-I : Art and Culture Festivals

Shigmotsav Festival of Goa

Amid a rise in Covid-19 cases, Goa government permitted the celebrations of the Shigmotsav Festival. Questions are being raised over the scale of celebrations of the festival in Goa.

About Shigmotsav Festival:

  • Shigmotsav festival also known as Shigmo is a spring festival celebrated in the state of Goa.
  • The festival is the celebration of a rich, golden harvest of paddy by the tribal communities of Goa.
  • Agricultural communities including the Kunbis, Gawdas and Velips celebrate the festival.

Key Features of the Shigmotsav Festival:

  • The festival begins with ‘Naman’. It means the invocation of the local folk deities on the village stage or the village ‘maand’.
  • The percussion instruments like the Ghumat, Dhol, Mhadle and Tashe are used by the male folk. This is called the ‘romta mell’.
  • Many dances are performed by the participating communities. This includes Folk dances like Ghode Modni (a dance of equestrian(horse riding) warriors), Gopha and Phugadi, etc.

Source: IE

Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government Schemes & Programmes

Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana

Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana is a welfare measure being implemented by the Employee's State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) on a pilot basis for a period of 2 years initially. It has been extended to June 30, 2021.

Introduced w.e.f. July 01, 2018, it offers cash compensation to Insured Persons (IPs) when they are rendered unemployed.

Eligibility for the scheme is,

  • Employees are covered under Section 2(9) of the ESI Act 1948.
  • IP should have completed 2 years of Insurable employment.
  • IP should have contributed not less than 78 days during each of the preceding 4 contribution periods preceding to the claim of relief.
  • The contribution in respect of him should have been paid or payable by the employer.

The eligibility conditions have been relaxed as follows for IPs who became unemployed from 24th March 2020 onwards,

  • The rate of relief has been doubled from 25% to 50% on average per day earning of employee.
  • IPs must have contributed for not less than 78 days in the contribution period immediately preceding the unemployment.
  • Claim shall become due 30 days after date of unemployment. Earlier, this period was 90 days.
  • The claim may be submitted by an IP (need not be forwarded by the employer) in the prescribed claim form duly completed online or directly to the branch office.

Other Measures for Welfare of Unemployed

  • Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana (ABRY) Scheme incentivizes the creation of new employment along with social security benefits and restoration of loss of employment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • This scheme is being implemented through the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
  • National Career Service Project is a Mission Mode Project is implemented by the Ministry of Labour & Employment.
    • It aims to provide a variety of employment-related services in the country like job matching, career counselling, internships, etc.
    • These services available on the NCS Portal are accessible to all users including job-seekers, employers, skill providers, etc.

Source: PIB

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