22, July 2017

  1. Jaitley releases National Trade Facilitation Action Plan

Source: The Hindu

The National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) has been released.

NTFAP

  • The Action Plan aims to transform cross-border clearance ecosystem through efficient, transparent, risk-based, co-ordinated, digital, seamless and technology driven procedures which are supported by advanced sea ports, airports, and land borders.
  • The NTFAP aims to achieve improvement in ease of doing business by reducing cargo release time and cost, promote paperless regulatory environment, transparent and predictable legal regime and improved investment climate through better infrastructure.
  • NTFAP also awards specific responsibilities to all regulatory agencies like Customs, FSSAI, Drug Controller, Plant Quarantine, DGFT, etc to be completed in a time-bound manner.
  • This Action Plan gives a time bound map, not only for implementing TFA, but also for India’s initiatives for trade facilitation and Ease of Doing Business which goes beyond TFA.
  • Apart from activities under the ambit of TFA, the Action Plan also goes beyond to what has been defined as TFA Plus category. It covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation, particularly the roadways and railways leading to ports and the infrastructure within ports, airports, ICDs, land customs stations that cuts across all stakeholders for which various ministries like shipping, civil aviation, railways, road transport and highways, Home Affairs, Finance, Commerce etc have been assigned specified targets.
  • All actions covered under the plan have been categorized by prioritizing the activities into short term, midterm and long term. The National Plan would be monitored by the Steering Committee (the operational arm of the NCTF) chaired by the Revenue Secretary and the Commerce Secretary. The plan would be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary.

Trade facilitation:

  • The Trade Facilitation Agreement forms part of the Bali Package agreed by members at the Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali.
  • The agreement contains provisions for faster and more efficient customs procedures through effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.
  • It also contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.
  • It is being believed, especially by the proponents of the agreement that deal could add $1 trillion to global GDP and also can generate 21 million jobs by slashing red tape and streamlining customs.

  1. Government mulls insurance cover for digital transaction frauds

Source: The Hindu

The government is “very seriously” considering the recommendations of the Chandrababu Naidu committee on digital payment security, including insurance cover for the victims of fraudulent digital transactions.

Important recommendations made by the committee:

  • The Committee of Chief Ministers on Digital Payment, chaired by Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu, has in its interim report suggested several measures for digital payment security, including an insurance scheme to cover losses incurred in digital transactions on account of fraud, etc.
  • The report suggests that in order to address the apprehension of the general public in adopting digital payments, the scheme should target low-ticket transactions to cover the vulnerable sections like small merchants, farmers etc.

Need for digital security:

  • The number of digital transactions in the country was rising and hence the concern for their security.
  • Around 1,200 crore digital transactions take place annually in the country. Of these, between 0.005% and 0.007% are fraudulent transactions.
  • The number of cases of frauds involving credit cards, ATM/debit cards and Internet banking during 2015-16 was 16,468 and in 2016-17 it was 13,653.
  • As per incidents reported to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), 40 phishing incidents affecting 19 financial organisations and 10 incidents affecting ATMs, Point of Sale (POS) systems and Unified Payment Interface (UPI) have been reported during November 2016 to June 2017.

  1. 200th anniversary celebrations of the Paika Rebellion

Source: PIB

The President of India Shri Pranab Mukharjee recently inaugurated the “Bicentenary celebration of the heroic Paika Rebellion of Odisha, a valiant uprising of Paikas against the British rule” organised by the Ministry of Culture

Paika rebellion:

Two-hundred years ago in 1817, a valiant uprising of soldiers led by Buxi Jagabandhu (Bidyadhar Mohapatra) took place in Khurda of Odisha. This is known as Paika rebellion.

Reason for the revolt:

  • The Paikas were the traditional land-owning militia of Odisha and served as warriors. When armies of the East India Company overran most of Odisha in 1803, the Raja of Khurda lost his primacy and the power and prestige of the Paikas went on a decline. The British were not comfortable with these aggressive, warlike new subjects and set up a commission under Walter Ewer to look into the issue.
  • The commission recommended that the hereditary rent-free lands granted to the Paikas be taken over by the British administration and this recommendation was zealously adhered to. They revolted against the British.
  • However, the rebellion had several other underlying causes – like the rise in the price of salt, abolition of the cowrie currency for payment of taxes and an overtly extortionist land revenue policy.
  • Although initially the Company struggled to respond they managed to put down the rebellion by May 1817. Many of the Paik leaders were hung or deported. Jagabandhu surrendered in 1825.

  1. Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana

Source: PIB

The Ministry of Rural Development is all set to launch a new sub-scheme under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) which will be named as “Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY)”.

AGEY

  • The main objectives of AGEY are to provide an alternative source of livelihoods to members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) under DAY-NRLM by facilitating them to operate public transport services in backward rural areas.
  • This will provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services like e-rickshaws, 3 and 4 wheeler motorised transport vehicles to connect remote villages with key services and amenities including access to markets, education and health for the overall economic development of the area.

 Implementation:

  • The sub-scheme will be implemented in 250 blocks in the country on a pilot basis for a period of 3 years from 2017-18 to 2019-20. The States have been informed about the number of blocks allocated to them to take up this sub-scheme in the pilot phases.
  • One of the options proposed to be given under the sub-scheme is that the Community Based Organisation (CBO) will provide interest free loan from its own corpus to Self Help Group member for purchase of the vehicle.

 Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM):

  • The Government is implementing DAY-NRLM across the country in all States and Union Territories (except Delhi and Chandigarh).
  • The financial support under the programme is mainly in the form of Revolving Fund and Community Investment Funds, given as grants to the Self Help Groups (SHGs) and their federations.
  • DAY-NRLM also focuses on bank linkage of the institutions.
  • The programme has a special focus on women empowerment including a dedicated component for promoting farm and non-farm based livelihoods for women farmers in rural areas.
  • In addition, start-up enterprises at village levels are also supported to promote entrepreneurial activities in those areas.

  1. Cabinet approves revision of Indian Community Welfare Fund guidelines

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet has approved revision of the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) guidelines.

  • The revised guidelines being made broad-based seek to expand the scope of welfare measures that can be extended through the Fund.
  • The guidelines would cover three key areas namely Assisting Overseas Indian nationals in distress situations, Community Welfare activities and Improvement in Consular services.
  • They are expected to provide Indian Missions and Posts abroad greater flexibility in swiftly addressing to requests for assistance by Overseas Indian nationals.

ICWF:

  • ICWF, set up in 2009, is aimed at assisting Overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency in the most deserving cases on a means tested basis.
  • The ICWF would be funded through budgetary support from the Ministry, funds raised by the Indian Missions by levying a nominal service charge on consular services and through Voluntary contributions from the Indian community.
  • Apart from assisting Indian nationals in distress abroad, ICWF has been a critical support in emergency evacuation of Indian nationals in conflict zones in Libya, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and other challenging situations like assistance extended to undocumented Indian workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the Nitaqat drive in 2013 and the ongoing Amnesty drive in 2017.
  • It has also created a sense of confidence among the migrant workers going overseas about the support they can expect from India during critical times.
  • ICWF stands extended to all Indian Missions and Posts abroad and is primarily funded by levying service charge on various consular services rendered by Indian Missions and Posts abroad.



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