23&24, April 2017

  1. Plenary Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) and IMFC of the World Bank Group and the IMF

Source: PIB

Plenary Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) of the World Bank Group and the IMF and the Restricted Session of the International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC) were recently held in Washington D.C.

  • The meetings comprised of discussion sessions on the ‘Forward Look’ exercise carried-out by the World Bank focusing on ‘A Vision for the World Bank Group in 2030 – Progress and Challenges’, Progress Report on the Shareholding Review and a paper on ‘A Stronger World Bank Group for All’.
  • The discussions also centred on the global economic outlook, the resource base and governance framework of IMF and the importance of inclusiveness in terms of distribution of the benefits from global integration.
  • Indian finance minister participated in the meetings. He called for renewing the commitment to reach a decision on Selective Capital Increase (SCI) and General Capital Increase (GCI) by Annual Meetings 2017 in line with the 2015 Lima roadmap.

Ministerial Committees:

The IMF Board of Governors is advised by two ministerial committees, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Development Committee.

IMFC:

  • The IMFC has 24 members, drawn from the pool of 187 governors. Its structure mirrors that of the Executive Board and its 24 constituencies. As such, the IMFC represents all the member countries of the Fund.
  • The IMFC meets twice a year, during the Spring and Annual Meetings. The Committee discusses matters of common concern affecting the global economy and also advises the IMF on the direction its work.
  • At the end of the Meetings, the Committee issues a joint communiqué summarizing its views. These communiqués provide guidance for the IMF’s work program during the six months leading up to the next Spring or Annual Meetings. There is no formal voting at the IMFC, which operates by consensus.

Development committee:

  • The Development Committee is a joint committee, tasked with advising the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank on issues related to economic development in emerging and developing countries.
  • The committee has 24 members (usually ministers of finance or development). It represents the full membership of the IMF and the World Bank and mainly serves as a forum for building intergovernmental consensus on critical development issues.

  1. Disqualify MPs and MLAs chargesheeted for poll bribes: Election Commission

Source: Indian Express

The poll watchdog’s proposal is the latest in a series of demands made by it from the government to deal with rising incidents of graft in elections in recent years.

  • The Election Commission (EC) has proposed disqualification of sitting MPs and MLAs chargesheeted for the offence of bribery or undue influence in polls under Sections 171B and 171C of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • The poll panel is learnt to have written a letter to the secretary, ministry of law and justice, on January 2, seeking an amendment to Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 to include disqualification on framing of charges for bribery.

Present scenario

  • Currently, Section 8 enlists several offences, including poll graft, for which a legislator can be removed and barred from contesting polls for six years only if convicted.
  • Such a disqualification will operate until an acquittal by the trial court or for six years, whichever is earlier.
  • The Law Commission, which felt the above provision was incapable of curbing the growing criminalisation of politics owing to long delays in trials and rare convictions, had recommended that disqualification should kick in even if a court frames charges for offences punishable by a jail term of five years.
  • The Law Commission, which felt the above provision was incapable of curbing the growing criminalisation of politics owing to long delays in trials and rare convictions, had recommended that disqualification should kick in even if a court frames charges for offences punishable by a jail term of five years.

But the EC wants the government to bring bribery and undue influence in elections, under Sections 171B and 171C of IPC, under the ambit of the Law Commission’s proposal even though the maximum punishment for it is imprisonment of up to one year only. “The proposal is based on the premise that bribery of electors is a serious offence, which needs to be dealt with firmly,” EC’s letter states.

Election Commission:

  • The EC, under the incumbent Chief Election Commissioner, has already sought an amendment to Section 58A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which empowers it to adjourn or cancel elections in case of booth capturing.
  • The EC wants the insertion of a new section, 58B, to enable it to take similar action if voters of a constituency are bribed by political parties. The demand, however, has been rejected thrice by the law ministry.
  • Similarly, the EC has been reiterating its long-standing demand to make electoral bribery a cognizable offence under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  • A cognizable offence is one for which the police has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant. The Home Ministry is learnt to have accepted this and is currently working on a CrPC amendment Bill.

  1. A step forward for Indo-Bangla ties

Source: The Hindu

The Tripura government has commenced the land acquisition process for the construction of India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge over river Feni that demarcates boundaries between the two countries in south Tripura.

The process for acquiring land for a four-lane approach road and a connecting road on Indian side in southern Tripura has also begun.

Key facts:

  • Government of India is bearing the entire burden of expenditure towards the construction of the 150-metre bridge which will connect Sabroom of India and Ramgarh in Bangladesh.
  • Rehabilitation package is ready to compensate people who would be dislodged for construction purposes.
  • The bridge would facilitate implementation of a protocol India earlier signed with Bangladesh to use Chittagong sea port as a ‘port of call’. The port is 72 kilometre away from Sabroom.
  • India is also expanding rail network up to Sabroom to handle cargo consignments that would arrivefrom Chittagong port. Ultimate connectivity plan is to benefit Tripura and other landlocked northeastern States with international and domestic shipments using the sea port.

  1. New guidelines for inland fisheries

Source: The Hindu

The Union government has issued guidelines for the States on framing a Bill on inland fisheries and aquaculture, amid mounting concern over the pollution and encroachment of water bodies in Kerala and the long- standing demand to protect the traditional rights and livelihood security of inland fishers.

Key facts:

  • The guidelines were issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (DADF) under the Union Ministry of Agriculture to address the inadequacies in the existing regulations by States.
  • According to the guidelines, encroachment or reclamation of rivers, lakes and wetlands and pollution of water sources is to be treated as a punishable offence. Dumping of solid waste in lakes, wetlands and lagoons has also been recommended for punishment.
  • The guidelines propose regulations on the use of fishing craft and gear to protect commercially important fish species from exploitation.
  • States have been asked to notify protected areas and fishing holidays in water bodies during the fish breeding season and ensure safe passage for migration of fish brooders to wetlands.
  • The Centre has also instructed States to consider aquaculture on a par with agriculture and ensure uniform incentives, tax benefits and concessional tariffs for both sectors.
  • Certification of fish seed and fish feed, disease monitoring and control and curbs on exotic species and destructive fishing practices are other provisions recommended for inclusion in the Bill.
  • A participatory approach with the involvement of NGOs and self help groups has been mooted to ensure sustainability of inland fisheries.

  1. Tiangong-2: China’s first cargo spacecraft docks with orbiting space lab

Source: The Hindu

China’s first cargo spacecraft-Tianzhou-1 cargo resupply spacecraft, docked successfully with the Tiangong-2 space lab recently, marking a major step towards Beijing’s goal of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022.

Tiangong-2:

  • The Tiangong-2 space laboratory, or Heavenly Palace 2, was home to two astronauts for a month last October in China’s longest ever manned space mission.

 

  • The cargo spacecraft mission provides an “important technological basis” to build a Chinese space station. It can reportedly carry six tonnes of goods, two tonnes of fuel and can fly unmanned for three months.
  • It is part of China’s plan to establish a manned space station around 2022. It is placed at 380 kilometres above Earth

  1. India aims to cut oil products imports as it spurs alternatives

Source: The Hindu

India is aiming to cut its oil products imports to zero as it turns to alternative fuels such as methanol in its transport sector.

  • India also plans to start 15 factories to produce second-generation ethanol from biomass, bamboo and cotton straw as it aims to develop its mandate to blend ethanol into 5% of its gasoline, “Bamboo is available from tribal areas… our vision is to be cost effective, import substitute and pollution free,”
  • India imported about 33 million tonnes of oil products over April 2016 to February 2017, up almost 24% from the same period a year earlier, government data showed. The majority of the imports comprise petroleum coke and LPG.

Pare carbon footprint

  • Energy consumption in India, the world’s third-biggest oil consumer, is expected to grow as it targets between 8% to 9% economic growth this fiscal year from about 7% in 2016/17.
  • To cut the carbon footprint, New Delhi wants to raise the use of natural gas in its energy mix to 15% in 3-4 years from 6.5% now. India is developing LNG bunker ports and plans to develop its electric vehicle

  1. Centre mulls nodal body for transport

Source: The Hindu

Prompted by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Centre has begun discussions to set up a national level nodal body for all transport-related matters across modes including aviation, railways, surface transport and waterways.

The proposed ‘Logistics and Integrated Transport Board’ will initially work on improving inter-ministerial co-ordination to facilitate an efficient multi-modal transport system in India

Key facts:

  • The Board is likely to be chaired by a Union Cabinet Minister or a Secretary to Government of India.
  • It will include top officials from other Ministries concerned such as Finance, Commerce & Industry, External Affairs and Home, as well as senior representatives from the Indian industry and legal experts, especially to address competition aspects.
  • The aim, however, is to gradually set up a single unified transport ministry by merging the ministries of Aviation, Railways, Surface Transport and Shipping to ensure greater ease of doing business and boost India’s internal and external trade. It is also in line with the NDA government’s slogan of ‘minimum government and maximum governance’.

Need for a single ministry:

  • Nearly all of the 100 largest economies, all of the OECD countries, and all of India’s emerging market ‘peers,’ the BRICS countries, have a Ministry of Transport or similar integrated equivalent rather than the collection of mode-specific ministries found in India.
  • Some of these consolidated national agencies are also combined with the Ministry (or equivalent) of communication, a categorisation reminiscent of India’s early post-independence structure.
  • In this regard, the National Transport Development Policy Committee, had recommended setting up of a single unified ministry with a clear mandate to deliver a multi-modal transport system that contributes to the country’s larger development goals including economic growth, expansion of employment, geographic expansion of opportunities, environmental sustainability, and energy security.

 

 



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