GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.
Philippines Formally Withdraws From International Criminal Court.
- The Philippines on 16th March, 2018 informed the UN Secretary-General of its intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- Teodoro Locsin, the permanent representative of the Philippines to the UN, tweeted that he had submitted the letter to the Chef de Cabinet of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and shared a photo of the document.
- The letter said the Philippines was withdrawing from the Rome Statute – which established the ICC in 1998 – as a “principled stand against those who politicise and weaponize human rights”.
Highlights Of The Development-
- On 14th March, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had announced his country’s withdrawal from the ICC, accusing the body of “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration, due to the ICC’s attempts to investigate his anti-drugs campaign, which has led to over 12,000 deaths, according to Human Rights Watch.
- Under Article 127 of the Rome Statute, a state party’s withdrawal from the treaty can only take effect a year after the written notification is received by the UN Secretary-General.
- The US and Russia withdrew from the Statute years after signing it, while China, India and the majority of Asian nations never ratified the treaty and are not part of the Hague-based court.
- In April 2017, a Filipino lawyer filed a lawsuit against Duterte before the ICC, accusing him of mass murder during his 22-year tenure as the mayor of Davao, and also during the anti-drugs crackdown that began after he took office on June 30, 2016.
- The court began a preliminary probe on February 8, 2018 to establish if there were grounds to open a case about the alleged extra-judicial killings during the campaign.
- In recent months, the Philippine government has lashed out against UN rapporteurs on human rights, issuing threats against officials such as Agnes Callamard, who is investigating extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.
- The ICC has urged the Philippines to reconsider its decision, since it is one of the few Asian countries that have ratified the Rome Statute, while human rights organisations said a withdrawal from the ICC does not exonerate Duterte from his alleged crimes.
GS Paper II- Governance.
Ministry Of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare & Ministry Of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Sign MoU.
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship signed an MoU to conduct skill development training programmes for agriculture and allied sector, on a regular basis, at Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs). Meanwhile, the skill development training programmes currently being run across KVKs will continue.
- The Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh expressed happiness over the signing of MoU, which he said, will help increase cooperation.
Highlights Of The Development-
- Shri Radha Mohan Singh said his Ministry is making fast progress in fulfilling Hon’ble Prime Minister’s dream of Kaushal Bharat-Kushal Bharat. He said the government believes that agriculture must be developed as a private enterprise so that it attracts more youth. For this, he said, the Ministry is working at four levels, namely: Increase productivity, Post-harvest management and fair-prices to the farmers for their produce, Lower risk in agriculture, Strengthen and develop other aspects of farmers’ income such as horticulture, animal husbandry, beekeeping, dairying, fisheries etc.
- In view of the latest developments in agriculture, several new dimensions in agri-warehousing, cold chain, supply chain, dairy, poultry, meat, fishery, horticulture, agricultural mechanization, micro-irrigation, hydroponic greenhouses etc have emerged for skilled and trained youths to gain self-employment.
- In 2016-17, 203 skill development programmes comprising 200 hours were organized by 100 KVKs and 8 national training institutes, training 3549 youths. For this, Rs 3.53 crore was spent from Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
- In 2017-18, 94 training institutes have organized 116 skill development training programmes and imparted training to 2320 youths. A provision of Rs 2 crore has been made for conducting skill training programmes in 2017-18 which is proposed to be increased to Rs 17 crore in 2018-19.
- The Minister said due to the low presence of agro-based industries in rural areas, it is important to increase the ratio of self-employment to employment to 100%. He said there is a need to study the Skill Gap Analysis in agriculture sector by the Agriculture Skill Council of India (ASCI).
GS Paper III- Economic Development.
India, Hong Kong Sign Double Taxation Avoidance Pact.
- India and Hong Kong on 19th March, 2018 entered into a double taxation avoidance agreement, aiming to facilitate investment flow between both countries and prevent tax evasion.
- The agreement will stimulate flow of investment, technology and personnel from India to HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) and vice versa, prevent double taxation and provide for exchange of information between the two contracting parties. It will improve transparency in tax matters and help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance, the tax department said in a statement.
Highlights Of The Development-
- Investors will get an advantage of a lower withholding tax of 10% on interest or royalties provided they fulfil the main purpose test which broadly checks that the transaction is not entered specifically to avoid taxes.
- It also provides for capital gains taxation of indirect transfers. It provides that gains from sale of shares of a company deriving more than 50% of its value from property situated in a country will be taxed in that country.
- Abhishek Goenka, partner and leader-corporate and international tax, PwC said in a note that the treaty was important.
- Hong Kong is an important financial and trading partner and the absence of a treaty was a hindrance. While there are no major sops, the rate of 10% withholding on interest stands out. Similarly, there are exemptions for airline and shipping companies. There is also some relief on capital gains tax where values of companies are not derived more than 50% from real estate. The treaty will also facilitate better exchange of information and tax cooperation, he said in a note.
- Rakesh Nangia , managing partner, Nangia & Co. LLP, said the agreement will give protection against double taxation to over 1,500 Indian companies and businesses that have a presence in Hong Kong as well as to Hong Kong-based companies providing services in India.
- Interestingly, the BEPS (base erosion and profit shifting) inspired anti-abuse measures have found place in the DTAA with Hong Kong since both the jurisdictions are signatories to the Multilateral Instrument under BEPS, he added.