1. 49th meeting of the GST Council will be held at New Delhi on 18th February, 2023.
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will chair the GST Council meeting.
- The meeting will be attended by member ministers and nominated officials of 28 States and 3 Union Territories.
- During the meeting, three reports by Group of Ministers will be taken up.
- These reports include one report on online gaming, casinos and horse racing.
- Other two reports deal with Appellate Tribunals and tax evasion by ‘pan masala’ and ‘gutka’ making firms.
Topic: Reports and Indices
2. Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) declines to 57.2 in January 2023.
- Services PMI stood at 58.5 in December 2022. Despite the decline, services PMI has shown expansion for eighth successive month.
- However, this did not support job creation much.
- Earlier, manufacturing PMI has declined to 55.4 in January from 57.8 in December.
- PMI is released by S&P Global Market intelligence. S&P Global Market intelligence mentioned that services companies have seen a further increase in their expenses during January.
- Services companies attributed increase in their expenses to higher costs of materials, food and staff.
Topic: Banking/Financial Schemes
3. 99 Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) have received a total investment of 7,980 crore rupees under the Fund of Funds Scheme (FFS) for start-ups as on December 31, 2022.
- Out of this, 72 AIFs have received ₹3,400 crore. These AIFs have, in turn, invested ₹14,077 crore in 791 start-ups.
- ₹477.25 crore has been approved to 133 incubators under the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS) as on December 31, 2022.
- Out of this, ₹211.63 crore has been disbursed as on December 31, 2022.
- PM Modi unveiled Fund of Funds for Start-ups (FFS) on 16 January, 2016. FFS was approved with a corpus of ₹10,000 crore.
- FFS does not directly invest in start-ups. It provides capital to SEBI-registered AIFs, known as daughter funds.
- They in turn make investment in Indian start-ups via equity and equity-linked instruments.
- FFS is operated by SIDBI through selection of suitable daughter funds. SIDBI also oversees the disbursal of committed capital.
- AIFs shall invest at least 2 times of the amount committed under FFS in start-ups.
- Startup India Seed Fund Scheme aims to provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry and commercialization.
4. The minimum download speed for broadband connectivity has been increased from 512 kbps (kilobits per second) to 2 Mbps (megabits per second).
- In September 2021, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended to the Department of Telecommunication to update the minimum broadband speed to at least 2 Mbps.
- The Department of Telecommunication has now implemented the recommendation.
- According to the new definition, broadband is a data connection that can support interactive services including Internet access.
- Further, as per the new definition, broadband is a data connection that has the capability of the minimum download speed of 2 Mbps to an individual subscriber from the point of presence (POP) of the service provider intending to provide Broadband service.
- Wired broadband and wireless broadband will both be subject to the 2 Mbps limit.
- As per December 2022 data from Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index, the median wired broadband speed in India is more than 75 Mbps.
- As per the same index, the median speed for wireless broadband (mobile) is more than 36 Mbps.
- India’s rank is 129 among 138 nations in terms of mobile broadband speed.
Topic: Banking System
5. SBI has reported highest ever quarterly standalone net profit at ₹14,205 crore in the 3rd quarter of FY23.
- It has reported highest ever quarterly standalone net profit on the back of growth in net interest income and non-interest income.
- Its Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPAs) declined below the ₹1-lakh-crore mark for the first time since 2016.
- SBI’s net profit in the Q3 of FY23 increased 68% y-o-y as against ₹8,432 crore a year ago.
- Net interest income increased 24% y-o-y to ₹38,069 crore. Non-interest income increased 32% y-o-y at ₹11,468 crore.
- Loan loss provisions decreased 49% y-o-y to ₹1,586 crore. Standard assets provisions increased 92% y-o-y to ₹4,230 crore.
- GNPAs decreased to 3.14% of gross advances as at December-end 2022.
- GNPAs have declined to their lowest level in more than six years. They stood at ₹98,346.50 crore.
6. GeM has achieved a gross merchandise value of ₹1.5 lakh crore in FY23.
- According to the Commerce and Industry Ministry, GeM is well positioned to surpass its annual target of ₹1.75 lakh crore.
- Since its start, GeM has exceeded the 3 lakh crore GMV mark.
- The total number of transactions on GeM has also crossed 1.3 crore.
- More than 66,000 government buyer organisations and over 58 lakh sellers and service providers are present on GeM.
- The portal features over 11,000 product categories.
- NTPC has placed largest order (Rs 20,400 crore) ever placed on GeM till now.
- This order was placed under Mine Development & Operations Service (MDO), a unique category used for the first time on GeM.
- Government e-Marketplace (GeM):
- It is an online platform for public procurement in India.
- It was launched on August 9, 2016 by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- It was launched with the objective of creating an inclusive, efficient, and transparent platform for the buyers and sellers to carry out procurement activities in a fair and competitive manner.
Topic: Banking System
7. Reliance Retail is the first Indian retailer to introduce Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
- Reliance Retail has piloted the use of CBDC, also known as digital rupee, in one store in Mumbai.
- It plans to offer this facility in all its stores in Mumbai within the next three to four months.
- This facility was launched in collaboration with Innoviti Technologies, ICICI Bank, and Kotak Mahindra Bank.
- On December 1, 2022, RBI first introduced e₹ in a pilot mode. Its access is limited to consumers of certain identified banks in select Indian cities.
- In the starting, it was limited to Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Bhubaneswar. It was later expanded to nine other cities.
- ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank are among the eight banks identified for taking part in the pilot.
- Customers of these banks can transact with e₹ through a digital wallet offered by their bank.
Topic: Indian Economy/Financial Market
8. Rs 5.94 lakh crore has been allocated for Defense in the Budget 2023-24.
- Government has allocated Rs 5.94 lakh crore for Defense, 13% more than the previous year’s allocation. It is 13.18 % of the total budget.
- Non-Salary revenue outlay has increased from Rs 62,431 crore in Budget Estimates (BE) 2022-23 to Rs 90,000 crore in BE 2023-24.
- The Budget has emphasized upon the modernisation and Infrastructure Development of the Defence Services.
- The capital budget of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been increased by 43% to Rs 5,000 crore in FY 2023-24.
- The budget allocation to DRDO has increased by 9%. Rs 23,264 crore will be allocated to DRDO in BE 2023-24.
- To encourage technology development and strengthen the Defense Industrial ecosystem, 116 crores and Rs 45 crores have been allocated to iDEX and DTIS respectively.
- Rs 1.38 lakh crore has been allocated for Defense Pensions. The Defense Pension Budget registers a jump of 15.5 % in FY 2023-24.
Topic: Indian Economy/Financial Market
9. Rs 44,094 crore has been allocated for higher education in Union Budget 2023.
- In the Budget 2023, Education Ministry has been allocated the highest ever Rs 112899.47 crore.
- In 2022-23, budgetary allocation for higher education was Rs 40,828.35 crore.
- 100 labs for developing apps using 5G services will be set up in higher education institutions.
- The apps like Smart Classrooms, Precision Farming, Intelligent Transport Systems and Healthcare will be developed in labs.
- Finance Minister proposed that a research and development grant for indigenous production of Lab Grown Diamond seeds and machines will be provided to one of the IITs for 5 years.
- Lab Grown Diamonds (LGD) are environment-friendly diamonds. They have optically and chemically the same properties as natural diamonds.
- The best institutions and universities in the country have been given an additional Rs 4235.74 crore to implement the National Education Policy 2020.
- This is an increase of 12.8% over their allocation last year.
- In 2023-24, the grant for the UGC has been increased by 9.37%. The grants to Central Universities have been increased by 17.66%.
- An amount of Rs 400 crore has been provided for the Prime Minister Research Fellowship (PMRF) in 2023-24. In 2022-23, Rs 200 crore was provided.
- According to the Ministry of Education, three Centres of Excellence will be established in educational institutions to "Make AI in India and Make AI work for India".
- Prime Minister Research Fellowship (PMRF) was announced in the Budget 2018-19. It has been designed for improving the quality of research in various higher educational institutions in the country.
Topic: Indian Economy/Financial Market
10. Rs 2.4 lakh crore capital outlay provided for Indian Railways.
- On 1 February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a record allocation of 2.4 lakh crore rupees for the Indian Railways in her budget.
- Sitharaman allocated Rs 1,40,367.13 crore for the rail industry in the previous budget.
- This is the highest ever outlay in the history of Railways, nearly nine times the outlay made in 2013-14.
- Indian Railways plans to build at least 500 Vande Bharat Express trains, achieve 100% electrification, and implement an ambitious station redevelopment plan.
- Apart from the Vande Bharat Express, the Railways also plans to refurbish the coaches of major trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto, Humsafar and Tejas.
- Indian Railways will come up with 35 hydrogen-fuel-based trains to focus on clean energy.
- Apart from this, the manufacture of 4,500 newly designed automobile carrier coaches with side entry, 5,000 LHB coaches and 58,000 wagons is also expected to get a boost.
- The government plans to start at least 75 Vande Bharat trains by August 2023.
- In 2016, the Narendra Modi government merged the Rail Budget with the Main Budget, which was earlier a separate Rail Budget.