14, December 2016

1.India Signs Grant Agreement with the IBRD

Source: The Hindu

An agreement for Global Environment Facility Grant of USD 5.19 Million for “Additional Financing for Financing Energy Efficiency at MSMEs Project- Programmatic Framework for Energy Efficiency” was recently signed between India and IBRD.

Key facts:

  • The proposed additional financing (AF) would be used to help further scale up the initiatives taken up under the parent project- India: Financing Energy Efficiency at MSME Project (FEEMP).
  • The additional financing will also contribute to bridge the current gap in understanding between different stakeholders, mainly energy professionals/technology suppliers, entrepreneurs, banks and financial institutions.

The parent project – India: Financing Energy Efficiency at MSME Project (FEEMP) became effective on September 29, 2010 with an original GEF Grant amount of US$ 11.3 million. The Development Objective of the project was to increase demand for energy efficiency investments in select micro, small and medium enterprise clusters and to build their capacity to access commercial finance.

The parent project currently has a Satisfactory rating towards achievement of Project Development Objective (PDO), and implementation performance.

2.International conference on housing & urban development

Source: PIB

Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu recently inaugurated an international conference on housing and urban development in Asia Pacific region.

Key facts:

    • The sixth edition of ‘Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing & Urban Development (APMCHUD)’ seeks to address issues ranging from crowded city centres to peripheral expansion, metropolitan based urban population growth, megacities and urban corridors, among others.
    • During the conference, ministers and senior officials from 68 countries in the region will deliberate on challenges of urban planning and management.
    • The conference will come out with a Delhi Declaration and implementation plan for aligning urban development strategies of member countries with the New Urban Agenda adopted at Quito, Eucador for the next 20 years.

 

  • The theme of the declaration will be on ‘Emerging Urban Forms Policy Responses and Government Structures’

 

Significance

  • The APMCHUD is the first such conference after UN Habitat-III global conference on sustainable development held in Quito this September.
  • It will help in furthering the new urban agenda adopted at the recent conference of UN Habitat-III.
  • The conference assumes significance considering that APAC region accounts for 60% of the world population and 55% of global urban population.

  1. National Resource Centre for Tribal Livelihood to be launched

Source: PIB

Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs in collaboration with UNDP and National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC) is all set to launch “Vanjeevan” the National Resource Centre for Tribal Livelihood issues at Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Vanjeevan

 

  • Vanjeevan will be a programme to identify the problems in livelihood issues in select districts of six states having low HDI of tribal people in the first phase. The states are Assam, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Telangana.
  • In the second phase the programme will be implemented in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Meghalaya and Tripura.

 

  • The programme will focus on the identification of local resources, keeping in view the existing skill level.
  • The programme will facilitate utilization of funds under various Government programmes for the above purpose.
  • The National Resource Centre will serve as a platform for livelihood mapping, skill gap analysis and knowledge hub where consolidation of best livelihood and entrepreneurship models will be accessible for tribal entrepreneurship development.

  1. Centre to review IT Act to bolster cybersecurity

Source: The Hindu

The government is mulling a review of the more than 15-year-old Information Technology (IT), Act to strengthen cybersecurity infrastructure, following the push for digital payments post-demonetisation.

Key facts:

 

  • A closed group, under IT Secretary Aruna Sundarajan, has been set up to look into various aspects of the Act in line with the changing times.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has also set up a separate ‘digital payments’ division under Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) — its cyber security arm — to monitor and strengthen cashless transactions.
  • All digital payments agencies have also been asked to report to CERT-In any unusual activity that they see on their platforms.

The IT Act came out in 2000. Since then, it has not been reviewed. However, since we are moving towards a digital economy now, the act should be reviewed to see if there is a need to re-look at the IT Act architecture to make it more of a deterrent for cyber criminals.

Besides, Venezuela, which like India has withdrawn its highest currency note from the market, has also cautioned New Delhi about cybercrimes that target the digital economy.

5.India and Maldives Joint Exercise EKUVERIN 2016 Begins

Source: PIB

  • The seventh edition of India-Maldives joint bilateral EKUVERIN 2016 began at Kadhdhoo, Laamu Atoll, Maldives.
  • The Exercise is a 14 day platoon level joint military exercise between the Indian Army & the Maldives National Defence Force conducted on a yearly basis.
  • The aim of the exercise is to conduct military training with emphasis on amphibious & counter insurgency/ counter terrorism operations with a view to enhance interoperability between the two armies.
  • The previous edition of the exercise was held in India at Trivandrum, Kerala.

6.Centre to finance digital discounts

Source: The Hindu

The Centre has decided to bear the burden imposed on public sector firms on account of the many discounts and incentives offered to promote digital payments.

  • Public sector insurers, oil-marketing firms and others will thus not take a hit on their books for the Centre’s cashless push.
  • The government has offered many discounts on transaction charges and merchant discount rates that accompany payments using cards or online last week.

Significance:

Most important, however, “all geographical areas across the country have been mapped with banks/bank mitras and ‘dark/grey spots’ (where there are no banks or even banking correspondents) identified.

  • A new expenditure head in the exchequer’s accounts that will absorb the costs of incentives provided will be created.
  • A non-tax receipt portal, bharakosh.gov.in, has been developed to enable users to make non-tax payments to the government for 237 categories including spectrum charges, RTI application fees, and purchase forms online, without going to either a bank or a government office.
  • Mobile banking through interoperable automatic teller machines (ATM) has been launched
  • All 5.5 lakh fair price shops run by the government are being equipped with micro ATMs/PoS terminals, which will enable them to undertake digital payment transactions or even be banking correspondents.
  • A standardised, interoperable multi-purpose, multimodal National Common Mobility card is being developed for smart cities and is ready for testing on a pilot basis.  

Way ahead

To  enable a cashless transactions ecosystem:“Going forward, all government organisations, public sector undertakings and authorities have been advised to review rules and regulations to support digital payments, adopt payment-related solutions and absorb transaction fees and activate payments facility through the ‘Pay Gov India’ if they have such a facility,”.



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