25, May 2017

1.Centre appoints five members to National Commission for Minorities

Source: The Hindu

Facing flak from Opposition over vacancies in the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), the Centre has appointed five members to the panel.

  • According to sources in the Union Minority Affairs Ministry, social activist from Uttar Pradesh Gayarul Hasan will be the chairperson of the Commission.

Key facts:

  • The process to appoint two more members of the panel, which is expected to be functional in a day or two, “is on”, the sources added.
  • This is for the first time that a Jain member will be part of the panel after the community was notified as ‘minority’ in January 2014.
  • The tenure of the panel members is of three years (if not extended).

NCM:

  • The NCM was set up under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 to look into complaints from members of five religious communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis).
  • The panel has seven members, including its chairperson and vice chairperson.
  • Aggrieved persons belonging to these communities may approach the state minorities commissions concerned for redressal of their grievances or send their representations to the NCM after exhausting all avenues of remedies available.
  • The functions of the state commissions, inter-alia, are to safeguard and protect the interests of minorities provided in the Constitution and laws enacted by Parliament and state legislatures.

UN Declaration of 18th December 1992

  • In order to strengthen the cause of the minorities, the United Nations promulgated the “Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities” on 18th December 1992 proclaiming that:
  • “States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”
  • The National Commission for Minorities has been observing the 18th December as a Minorities Rights Day every year

2.Joint Declaration of Intent between Germany and India regarding cooperation in the sector of alternative medicine

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet has approved the Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) between Germany and India regarding cooperation in the sector of alternative medicine.

  • The financial resources necessary to conduct research, training courses, conferences / meetings will be met from the existing allocated budget and existing plan schemes of Ministry of AYUSH.
  • The signing of the JDl will enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the areas of traditional/alternative medicine. Initiation of collaborative research, training and scientific capacity building in the field of alternative medicine under the JDI between the two countries would contribute to the enhanced employment opportunities in the AYUSH sector.

3.Cabinet approves phasing out Foreign Investment Promotion Board

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the phasing out of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

  • The proposal entails abolishing the FIPB and allowing administrative Ministries/Departments to process applications for FDI requiring government approval.
  • The FIPB is the inter-ministerial body — or a single window clearance mechanism for applications on foreign direct investment (FDI) in India in sectors under the government approval route.

Significance of this move:

  • Henceforth, the work relating to processing of applications for FDI and approval of the Government thereon under the extant FDI Policy and FEMA, shall now be handled by the concerned Ministries/Departments in consultation with the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion(DIPP), Ministry of Commerce, which will also issue the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for processing of applications and decision of the Government under the extant FDI policy.
  • With this, Foreign Investors will find India more attractive destination and this will result in more inflow of FDI.
  • The move will provide ease of doing business and will help in promoting the principle of Maximum Governance and Minimum Government.

FIPB:

  • The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), housed in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, is an inter-ministerial body, responsible for processing of FDI proposals and making
  • It considers and recommends foreign direct investment (FDI) which does not come under the automatic route.
  • It provides a single window clearance for proposals on FDI in India.

The extant FDI Policy, Press Notes and other related notified guidelines formulated by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry are the bases of the FIPB decisions.

4.Fund for development and maintenance of National Waterways (NWs)

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet has accorded its approval to a proposal jointly mooted by the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) for amendment of Central Road Fund Act, 2000 to allocate 2.5% of the proceeds of Central Road Fund (CRF) for development and maintenance of National Waterways (NWs) and a reduction in the share provided for development of National Highways.

  • In this regard, the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 would be moved by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in the ensuing Monsoon Session, 2017 of the Parliament.

Significance of this move:

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has estimated that approximately Rs. 25,000 crores would be required for development of identified projects on NWs till 2022-23. An allocation of 2.5% of CRF proceeds would provide approximately Rs.2000 crore per annum for the development and maintenance of NWs at existing rates of duties funding the CRF.

Central Road Fund

  • The Central Road Fund was established by the government as per the Central road fund act 2000 to fund the development and maintenance of National Highways, State Highways and Rural roads.
  • In order to mobilise the fund, the Central Road Fund Act 2000 proposed to levy and collect by way of cess, a duty of excise and duty of customs on petrol and high speed diesel oil.
  • The fund is utilised for the development and maintenance of National highways, State roads, Rural roads and for provision of road overbridges/under bridges and other safety features at unmanned Railway Crossings.

5.Cabinet approves policy for providing preference to ‘Make in India’ in Government procurements

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved a policy for providing preference to ‘Make in India’ in government procurements.

The new policy will give a substantial boost to domestic manufacturing and service provision, thereby creating employment.

Keya facts:

  • It will also stimulate the flow of capital and technology into domestic manufacturing and services.
  • It will also provide a further thrust towards manufacture of parts, components, sub-components etc. of these items, in line with the vision of ‘Make in India’.

Significance of this move:

  • The new policy is the reflection of the Government of India to encourage ‘Make in India’ and promote manufacturing and production of goods and services in India with a view to enhancing income and employment.
  • Procurement by the Government is substantial in amount and can contribute towards this policy objective.
  • Local content can be increased through partnerships, cooperation with local companies, establishing production units in India or Joint Ventures (JV) with Indian suppliers, increasing the participation of local employees in services and by training them.
  • The policy will be implemented through an Order pursuant to Rule 153(iii) of the General Financial Rules, 2017 to provide purchase preference (linked with local content) in Government procurements.
  • Under the policy, preference in Government procurement will be given to local suppliers. Local suppliers are those whose goods or services meet prescribed minimum thresholds (ordinarily 50%) for local content. Local content is essentially domestic value addition.
  • In procurement of goods for Rs. 50 lakhs and less, and where the Nodal Ministry determines that there is sufficient local capacity and local competition, only local suppliers will be eligible.
  • Small purchases of less than Rs.5 lakhs are exempted. The order also covers autonomous bodies, government companies/ entities under the government’s control.
  • The policy also requires that specifications in tenders must not be restrictive e.g. should not require proof of supply in other countries or proof of exports in respect of previous experience. They must not result in unreasonable exclusion of local suppliers who would otherwise be eligible, beyond what is essential for ensuring quality or creditworthiness of the supplier.
  • The policy lays down a procedure for verification of local content relying primarily on self-certification. There will be penal consequences for false declarations. In some cases, verification by statutory / cost auditors etc. will be required.
  • A Standing Committee in Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion will oversee the implementation of this order and issues arising therefrom, and make recommendations to Nodal Ministries and procuring entities.
  • The policy has been developed keeping in view the core principles of procurement including competitiveness and adhering to sound procurement practices and execution of orders. The policy would continue to maintain the balance between promoting ‘Make in India’ and ensuring timely, value-for-money products for the procuring entities.



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