AC restaurants alone can levy service tax: Govt

The Ministry of Finance has clarified that only restaurants and eating places that have air-conditioning can charge service tax. And the tax will be levied on only 40% of the amount charged.

  • Restaurants, eating joints or messes which do not have air-conditioning or central air-heating in any part of the establishment are exempt from service tax.

Service Tax in India is an indirect tax paid on services provided in the country. According to Finance Act 1994, all service providers of the country except in J&K have to pay service tax. Current service tax is 14%. This tax would be applicable on services except the negative list of services. It is levied by the central government.

Sources: the Hindu, Wiki, finmin.

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Songbird may be eaten to extinction

According to a study, Songbird in Europe and Asia is being hunted to near extinction because of Chinese eating habits.

  • The study said that the population of the yellow-breasted bunting has plunged by 90% since 1980, all but disappearing from eastern Europe, Japan and parts of Russia.
  • China in 1997 banned the hunting of the species, known there as the “rice bird“.
  • The study says that the consumption of these birds has increased as a result of economic growth and prosperity in East Asia, with an estimate in 2001 claiming one million buntings were consumed in China’s Guangdong province alone.

About Songbird:

  • A songbird is a bird belonging to the clade Passeri of the perching birds (Passeriformes).
  • This group contains some 4,000 species found all over the world, in which the vocal organ typically is developed in such a way as to produce a diverse and elaborate bird song.

  • Songbirds form one of the two major lineages of extant perching birds, the other being the Tyranni which are most diverse in the Neotropics and absent from many parts of the world.
  • Songbirds are alike in having the vocal organ highly developed, though not all use it to melodious effect.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Dandeli Elephant Reserve notified

The Karnataka State government has officially notified the Dandeli Elephant Reserve, spread over 2,321.119 sq km — including 475.018 sq km as core and the remaining as buffer areas.

  • The notification follows the Government of India approval for establishing the Dandeli Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant.

Project Elephant:

  • Project Elephant was launched in 1992 as a Central-sponsored scheme to protect elephant habitats, including its corridors, and resolve human-elephant conflicts rampant in many States.
  • The Project is being implemented in 13 States / UTs, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • Under Project Elephant, States that have a free-ranging population of wild elephants are being given financial as well as technical and scientific assistance to ensure long-term survival of identified viable populations of elephants in their natural habitats.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, MoEF.

S. Korea reports 7th MERS death

South Korea has reported its seventh death from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

  • Eight new infections brought the total number of cases to 95 in the largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia, following the diagnosis of the first patient back on May 20.
  • The virus has caused widespread public anxiety and led to a plunge in cinema ticket sales and dwindling attendance at baseball games and other public events.

About Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS):

It is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

  • Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but not always present. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported.
  • Although the majority of human cases of MERS have been attributed to human-to-human infections, camels are likely to be a major reservoir host for MERS-CoV and an animal source of MERS infection in humans. However, the exact role of camels in transmission of the virus and the exact route of transmission are unknown.
  • Camels have been shown to have antibodies to MERS-CoV, but the exact source of infection in camels has not been identified.
  • The virus does not seem to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as occurs when providing unprotected care to a patient.
  • As of now, there is no vaccine available to prevent it.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Sri Lankan Cabinet clears new electoral system

The Sri Lankan Cabinet has finalised the broad contours of the proposed 20th Constitutional Amendment on electoral reforms.

  • This has left many smaller parties surprised and disappointed.

Details:

  • According to this decision, there will be no change in the size of Parliament. It will remain at 225. This was the major change from what was proposed earlier.
  • Unlike in the present system of proportional representation (PR), the proposed scheme marks a combination of the First Past The Post (FPTP) and PR. Of the total number of 225 seats, it had been decided to earmark 125 seats for FPTP and 100 seats for PR. Again, 75 seats out of 100 would be filled through members representing electoral districts while the remaining 25 seats would be set apart for the national list.

Sri Lankan political system: Basics-

  • The government of Sri Lanka is a semi-presidential system determined by the Sri Lankan Constitution.
  • The President, directly elected for a six-year term, is head of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces.
  • The election occurs under the Sri Lankan form of the contingent vote.
  • Responsible to Parliament for the exercise of duties under the constitution and laws, the president may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of Parliament with the concurrence of the Supreme Court.
  • The President appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers responsible to Parliament.
  • The President’s deputy is the prime minister, who leads the ruling party in Parliament.
  • A parliamentary no-confidence vote requires dissolution of the cabinet and the appointment of a new one by the President.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Nepal parties reach long-awaited deal

Nepal’s rival political parties have struck a historic agreement to end years of deadlock on a new constitution that will divide the country into eight provinces. This paves the way for a new federal structure.

Background:

  • Nepal’s lawmakers began work on a new national constitution in 2008 following a decade-long Maoist insurgency that left an estimated 16,000 people dead and brought down the monarchy.
  • But the political parties were unable to reach agreement and the resulting uncertainty left Nepal in a state of political limbo.

However, the agreement has left the crucial issue of the provincial borders unresolved — an omission which critics said would create future problems.

Details of the agreement:

  • Under the deal, Nepal will continue with its current system of national governance which includes an executive Prime Minister and ceremonial President.
  • A new federal commission will be tasked with drawing up internal borders and submit a proposal for approval in Parliament.
  • The agreement includes a commitment to hold the country’s first local elections since 1997.

Sources: The Hindu.