Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 01st January to 07th January, 2017

Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 01st Jan  to 07th Jan, 2017 (PIB Weekly Compilation)


Archive



Many New Projects Under Namami Gange Approved For Haridwar and Varanasi

{Sustainable Development}


Source: PIB

  • Many new projects under Namami Gange programme in Haridwar and Varanasi have been approved by National Mission for Clean Ganga.
  • In Haridwar, 68 MLD sewage treatment plants (STP) and 14 MLD STP in Sarai have been approved at an indicative cost of Rs 110.30 crore and Rs 25 crore respectively under Hybrid Annuity based PPP mode.
  • Apart from this, while Rs 8.34 crore has been allocated for tertiary treatment of existing 27 MLD plant in Jagjeetpur. Rs 5.32 crore has been allocated for tertiary treatment of existing 18 MLD plant in Sarai under Design, Build, Operate and Transfer (DBOT) mode.

Namami Ganga Programme:

Namami Gange programme was launched as a mission to achieve the target of cleaning river Ganga in an effective manner with the unceasing involvement of all stakeholders, especially five major Ganga basin States – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.

  • The programme envisages River Surface Cleaning, Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure, River Front Development, Bio-Diversity, Afforestation and Public Awareness.
  • The Mission Director of NMCG is a Joint Secretary (JS) in Government of India. For effective implementation of the projects under the overall supervision of NMCG, the State Level Program Management Groups (SPMGs) are, also headed by senior officers of the concerned States.
  • In order to improve implementation, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of a) High level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at national level, b) State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at state level and c) District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.
  • The area of operation of NMCG shall be the Ganga River Basin, including the states through which Ganga flows, as well as the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
  • The area of operation may be extended, varied or altered in future, by the Governing Council to such other states through which major tributaries of the river Ganga flow, and as the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) may decide for the purpose of effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the river Ganga.

Aim & Objective of NMCG

The aims and objectives of NMCG is to accomplish the mandate of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) of

1.To ensure effective abatement of pollution and rejuvenation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach to promote inter-sectoral co-ordination for comprehensive planning and management and

2.To maintain minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.


Major Achievements of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries – 2016

{Agriculture}


Source: PIB

The Ministry of Food Processing Industriesis implementing a number of Central Sector Schemes for promotion and development of food processing sector in the country since 12th Plan.

The major achievements of the Ministry during 2016 are as under

  1. Government has allowed 100% FDI for trading including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured or produced in India. 100% FDI is already permitted in manufacturing of food products through automatic route.  This will provide impetus to the foreign investment in food processing sector, benefit farmers immensely and will create vast employment opportunities.
  2. Under the Scheme of Mega Food Parks – NABARDhas sanctioned term loan of Rs. 427.69 Crore to 10 Mega Food Park projects and 2 processing units under ‘Food Processing Fund’ of Rs. 2000 Crore and out of this an amount of Rs. 81.10 Crore has been disbursed.The Ministry has notified 157 designated food parks in different States for the purpose of availing affordable credit from special fund with NABARD.
  3.  FSSAI has simplified product approval
  • Approved a large number of new Additives harmonized with the International Codex Standards.
  • Notified an amendment to the regulations as a result of which non-standardized food products called proprietary foods (except novel food and nutra-ceuticals) that use ingredients and additives approved in the regulations will no longer require product approval. This has provided considerable relief to the industry.

International Codex Standards

  • The Codex Alimentarius Commission is a joint intergovernmental body of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WHO with 186 Member States and one Member Organization (EU).
  • Codex has worked since 1963 to create harmonized international food standards to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices.
  • WHO works on the provision of independent international scientific advice on microbiological and chemical hazards. Scientific advice is the basis for the development of international Food Standards by Codex
  1. Under the Scheme of Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure: Cold Chain– The objective of the scheme of Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation Infrastructure is to provide integrated cold chain and preservation infrastructure facilities without any break from the farm gate to the consumer.
  2. The Ministry is also taking steps to implement a new scheme namely Scheme for Agro-Marine produce Processing and Development of Agro-clusters (SAMPADA)for overall development of food processing sector, for providing enabling infrastructure, expanding processing and preservation capacities, controlled temperature logistics and backward and forward linkages, with an allocation of Rs.6000 Crore for a period co-terminus with 14th Finance Commission.

Restaurants billing service charges in addition to taxes is optional: Department of Consumer Affairs

{Indian Economy}


Source: PIB

  • Restaurants billing service charges in addition to taxes is optional: Department of Consumer Affairs
  • Consumer has discretion to pay ‘service charge’ or not: Department of Consumer Affairs

A number of complaints from consumers have been received that hotels and restaurants are following the practice of charging ‘service charge’ in the range of 5-20%, in lieu of tips, which a consumer is forced to pay irrespective of the kind of service provided to him.

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986

  • The Consumer Protection Act, 1986provides that a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or the supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or deceptive practice, is to be treated as an unfair trade practice and that a consumer can make a complaint to the appropriate consumer forum established under the Act against such unfair trade practices.
  • In this context, the department of Consumer Affairs, Central Government has called for clarification from the Hotel Association of India, which have replied that the service charge is completely discretionary and should a customer be dissatisfied with the dining experience he/she can have it waived off.
  • Therefore, it is deemed to be accepted voluntarily.

Issue:

The Department of Consumer Affairs has asked the State Governments to sensitize the companies, hotels and restaurants in the states regarding aforementioned provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and also to advise the Hotels/Restaurants to disseminate information through display at the appropriate place in the hotels/restaurants that the ‘service charges” are discretionary/ voluntary and a consumer dissatisfied with the services can have it waived off.


Pan-India expansion of Maternity Benefit Programme (MBP) to benefit pregnant and lactating mothers across the country – (Ministry of Women and Child Development).

{Social issue}


Source: PIB

Government of India is committed to ensure that every woman attains optimal nutritional status – especially from the most vulnerable communities as nutrition constitutes the foundation for human development.

  • This is all the more important during the period of pregnancy and lactation coupled with wage loss.
  • A woman’s nutritional status has important implications for her health as well as the health and development of her children.

Issues:

  • An under-nourished mother almost inevitably gives birth to a low birth weight baby.
  • When poor nutrition starts in-utero, it extends throughout the life cycle, particularly in women.
  • Owing to economic and social distress many women continue to work to earn a living for their family right upto the last days of their pregnancy.
  • Furthermore, they resume working soon after childbirth, even through their bodies might not permit it, thus preventing their bodies from fully recovering on one hand, and also impending their ability to exclusively breastfeed their young infant in the first six months.

Maternity Benefit Programme

To address the above issues, Ministry of Women and Child Development, in accordance with the provisions of Section 4(b) of National Food Security Act, formulated a scheme for pregnant and lactating mothers called Maternity Benefit Programme – a conditional cash transfer scheme.

The Scheme provides cash incentives to pregnant and lactating women

  • For the wage loss so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery;
  • To improve her health and nutrition during the period of pregnancy and lactation; and
  • To breastfeed the child during the first six months of the birth, which is very vital for the development of the child.

Eligibility:

  • Under the scheme, all Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM),excluding the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers who are in regular employment with the Central Government or State Governments or Public Sector Undertakings or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being are eligible.
  • The cash incentive of Rs.6,000/-  is payable in three instalments.
  • Expansion of MBP will have huge impact on the PW&LM as it will not only provide them compensation for the wage loss but will also provide them adequate nutrition and rest before and after delivery.
  • Mothers will have sufficient time to breastfeed the child during first six months of the birth.
  • Resultantly, it is expected that it will reduce mother mortality rate, IMR, under-nutrition and its adverse effects.

It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and the cost sharing between Centre and States is 60:40 for all the States and UTs (with legislature), 90:10 for NER and Himalayan States and 100% GoI share for UTs without legislatures.


Union Home Minister lays the foundation stone of the Demonstration Housing Project by BMTPC for Lucknow

{Development and Employment}


Source: PIB

The Union Home Minister laid the foundation stone of the Demonstration Housing Project by BMTPC (Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council) for Lucknow

  • This BMPTC project is a model housing project which will use ecofriendly materials and innovative technology to build houses for the poor.

Key facts:

  • Coming up at Aurangabad Jagir  in Lucknow on 0.38 hectare land provided by the State Urban Development Authority (SUDA) of the Uttar Pradesh state government, the BMTPC, an autonomous organization under Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India, has undertaken construction of 40 dwelling units (Ground Floor+1).
  • The Demonstration Housing Project will include onsite infrastructure facilities like water supply, tube well, sewerage system, drainage, concrete roads, interlocking tiles, boundary wall and external electrification, etc.
  • Aiming to popularize new and emerging disaster resistant sustainable technologies in the construction sector, the Demonstration Housing Project.

BHIM will create Equality – (Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation)

{Digitalization}


Source: PIB

Ambedkar’s name to take Centre – Stage in India’s economy

The new indigenously developed payment app ‘BHIM’  (Bharat Interface for Money)   has been named after the main architect of Indian constitution,  Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

  • Through this app, Bharat Ratna Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s  name will take the  centre-stage in India’s economy.
  • The day is not far, when people will conduct their business through this app. This app will create financial equality in the Country, as envisaged by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

Key facts:

  • Prime Minister has been introducing many welfare Schemes for the Developments of Dalits, backward classes and financially backward class people. Indeed, BHIM will curb black money system and create equality in the society. It will support them.
  • BHIM is a biometric payment system app using Aadhar platform, and is based on Unified Payment Interface (UPI) to facilitate e-payments directly through bank.
  • It was launched to stress on the importance of technology and digital transactions. It can be used on all mobile devices, be it a smartphone or a feature phone with or without internet connection.
  • The payments through the new system (BHIM App) can be made by just a thumb impression after the bank account is linked with Aadhaar gateway. Indeed, the technology through BHIM will empower poorest of the poor, small business and the marginalised section.
  • The new app is expected to minimise the role of plastic cards and point of sale machines. The app will eliminate fee payments for service providers like MasterCard and Visa, which has been a stumbling block in people switching to digital payments.
  • The app can be used to send and receive money through smartphones. Money can also be sent to non UPI supported banks. Bank balance can also be checked through the app. Currently Hindi and English are supported in the app, with more languages coming soon.

Way ahead:

Indicating that the e-wallet app will feature fingerprint verification in future, “Only thumb will be needed to make a payment. Thumb will be your bank now”.  People should utilize the app and support this to curb black money and to create financial equality.


Cabinet gives nod to signing of agri pact with Portugal, Kenya

{International Relations}


Source: PIB

The two MoUs provide for setting up of a joint working group for developing a detailed co-operation programme and monitoring implementation of the bilateral pact.

  • The Cabinet gave its approval to two separate bilateral agreements that India will sign with Portugal and Kenya for co-operation in agriculture and allied sectors.
  • The proposed memorandum of understanding (MoU) was approved in the Cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The agreements will come into force on the date of their signing and will remain valid for five years.
  • The two MoUs provide for setting up of a joint working group for developing a detailed co-operation programme and monitoring implementation of the bilateral pact.

MoU between India with Portugal, Kenya separately:

  • The MoU to be signed with Portugal covers exchange of scientific and technical information, trade in plants and plant products, exchange of information in phytosanitary issues, training programmes, seminars and visits of experts and consultants.
  • The proposed agreement with Kenya will focus on agricultural research, animal husbandry and dairy, livestock and fisheries horticulture, natural resource management, post-harvest management and marketing.
  • The two countries will also work on soil and conservation, water management, irrigation farming system development, integrated watershed development machinery, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, among others.
  • The pact can automatically be renewed for a further five years unless either party notifies the other in writing, six months before the expiry of the validity, of the intention to terminate it, the statement added.

Cabinet approves Agreement between India and Uruguay regarding Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters

{International Relations}


Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has approved signing and ratifying an Agreement between India and Uruguay regarding Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters.

Key facts:

  • The Agreement will help in the availability of relevant information for the prevention and investigation of Customs offences.
  • The Agreement is also expected to facilitate trade and ensure efficient clearance of goods traded between the countries.
  • The draft Agreement takes care of Indian Customs’ concerns and requirements, particularly in the area of exchange of information on the correctness of the Customs value declared, the authenticity of certificates of origin of goods and the description of the goods traded between the two countries.

Background:

  • Uruguayis an important trading partner of India among members of the MERCOSUR, a trading block in Latin America.
  • India signed a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with the MERCOSUR which came into effect from 1st June, 2009. Trade between India and the Uruguay has been expanding gradually.
  • The Agreement would provide a legal framework for sharing of information and intelligence between the Customs authorities of the two countries and help in the proper application of Customs laws, prevention and investigation of Customs offences and the facilitation of legitimate trade.
  • The draft text of the proposed Agreement has been finalized with the concurrence of the two Customs Administrations.

MERCOSUR:

  • Mercosur is an economic and political bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
  • Created in 1991 as Argentina and Brazil sought to improve their diplomatic and economic relations, the bloc saw a fivefold increase in regional trade in the 1990s.
  • However, many experts say Mercosur has failed to live up to its ambitions, and trade within the group has fallen relative to its members’ total trade in the last twenty years.
  • Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Surinameare associate members. As associate members, they are able to join free-trade agreements but do not receive the benefits of the customs union.
  • The purpose of Mercosur is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people, and currency.
  • the world’s fourth-largest trading bloc after the European Union (EU), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Association of South East Asian.

Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC: India better placed amidst fragile world economy

{Economic Development}


Source: PIB

The Union Finance Minister the world economy is quite fragile yet India appears to be much better placed today on the back of improvement in its macro-economic fundamentals.

The Finance Minister that the Government’s measures to eliminate the shadow economy and tax evasion are expected to have a positive impact both on GDP and on fiscal consolidation in the long run.

The Finance Minister was making his Opening Remarks while chairing the Sixteenth Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).

FSDC

In pursuance of the announcement made in the Union Budget 2010–11 and with a view to strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism for maintaining financial stability and enhancing inter-regulatory coordination, Indian Government has setup an apex-level Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).

  • The technical committee under HLCCFM for RBI regulated entities, though at a modest level, had set up a Financial Conglomerate Monitoring Mechanism since 2004. The secretariat of HLCCFM was in Ministry of Finance.

The Chairman of the FSDC is the Finance Minister of India and its members include the heads of the financial sector regulatory authorities (i.e, SEBI, IRDA, RBI, PFRDA and FMC), Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (Ministry of Finance), Secretary, (Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance) and the Chief Economic Adviser.

Key facts:

  • FSDC discussed about the various initiatives taken by the Government and Regulators for promoting financial inclusion/financial literacy efforts and discussed further measures for promoting the same.
  • A Brief Report on the activities undertaken by the FSDC Sub-Committee chaired by Governor, RBI was placed before the FSDC. The Council also undertook a comprehensive review of the action taken by members on the decisions taken in earlier meetings of the Council.
  • The Regulators offered their suggestions/proposals for the upcoming Budget 2017-18, which were deliberated upon by the Council.
  • The Council also reviewed the present status of NPAs in Banks and the measures taken by Government & RBI for dealing with the stressed assets and discussed on further action in this regard.

India and Kazakhstan sign Protocol to amend the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC)

{International Relations}


Source: PIB

India and Kazakhstan signed in the national capital a Protocol to amend the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between the two countries which was signed for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

Salient features of the Protocol are as under

  • The Protocol provides internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters. Further, the information received from Kazakhstan for tax purposes can be shared with other law enforcement agencies with authorisation of the competent authority of Kazakhstan and vice versa.
  • The Protocol inserts a Limitation of Benefits Article, to provide a main purpose test to prevent misuse of the DTAC and to allow application of domestic law and measures against tax avoidance or evasion.
  • The Protocol inserts specific provisions to facilitate relieving of economic double taxation in transfer pricing cases. This is a taxpayer friendly measure and is in line with India’s commitment under Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan to meet the minimum standard of providing Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) access in transfer pricing cases.
  • The Protocol inserts service PE provisions with a threshold and also provides that the profits to be attributed to PE will be determined on the basis of apportionment of total profits of the enterprise.
  • The Protocol replaces existing Article on Assistance in Collection of Taxes with a new Article to align it with international standards.

Base erosion and profit shifting

  • Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to tax avoidance strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations. Under the inclusive framework, over 100 countries and jurisdictions are collaborating to implement the BEPS measures and tackle BEPS.
  • The inclusive framework brings together over 100 countries and jurisdictions to collaborate on the implementation of the OECD/ G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Package.
  • Monitoring implementation and the impact of the different BEPSmeasures is a key element of the work ahead. The OECD has established an inclusive framework on BEPS, which allowsinterested countries and jurisdictions to work with OECD and G20 members on developing standards on BEPS related issues and reviewing and monitoring the implementation of the whole BEPS Package.
  • The inclusive framework will also support the development of the toolkits for low-capacity developing countries. The G20 Development Working Group (G20 DWG) has requested the IMF, the OECD, the UN and the WBG to work together on the development of toolkits and guidance to support low-capacity developing countries to address BEPS issues.

 

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