28, February 2018

1.What are Municipal Bonds?

  • The governments in India at various levels – the centre, states and local bodies need money to finance its expenditure. Among the three, the centre is very powerful and is having different sources of revenue and borrowings to finance its budget.
  • The central government’s fiscal deficit or borrowing that amounts to nearly 3.2% of GDP is mostly financed out of the borrowing made through the sale of dated securities or bonds and treasury bills.
  • For the state governments similarly, there is the State Development Loans, which is a form of bond, sold in the market.
  • Now, for the local bodies – Municipalities and Pachayaths, there are only limited revenues and more importantly, very limited options to borrow from the market. At the same time, the local bodies need big money to finance their core development functions. SEBI has issued a detailed guideline in 2015 for urban local bodies to mobilise money through the issue of municipal bonds.

What is Municipal bonds?

  • Municipal bonds are bonds issued by urban local bodies- municipal bodies and municipal corporates (entities owned by municipal bodies) to raise money for financing specific projects specifically infrastructure projects.
  • These bonds are attracting attention as the ULBs urgently need money to finance infrastructural expenditure. Especially, smart cities and other urban development projects necessitates them to create finance.

Background:

  • Municipal bonds are there in India from 1997 onwards. Bangalore Municipal Corporation was the first ULB to issue Municipal Bond in India in 1997. Ahmedabad made a notable issue in the next years. But after the initial momentum, the ULBs were not able to get much progress on municipal bond based fund mobilization.
  • In 2015, SEBI made fresh guidelines for the issue of municipal bonds for enabling the ULBs to mobilise money.

SEBI Guidelines on municipal bonds: Which ULB can issue muni bonds?

As per the SEBI Regulations, 2015, a municipality or a Corporate Municipal Entity (CME) should meet certain conditions:

  • The ULB should not have negative net worth in any of three immediately preceding financial years.
  • Non-default: The municipality should not have defaulted in repayment of debt securities or loans obtained from banks or financial institutions during the last 365 days.
  • Now wilful defaulter: The corporate municipal entity, its promoter, group company or director(s), should not have been named in the list of the wilful defaulters published by the RBI or should not have defaulted of payment of interest or repayment of principal amount in respect of debt instruments issued by it to the public, if any.
  • SEBI instructs that municipal bonds should have mandatory ratings above investment grade for pubic issue. The bonds should have a three-year maturity period and financial institutions including banks should be appointed as monetary agencies.

Tax status of Municipal Bonds

  • Municipal bonds in India has tax-free status if they conform to certain rules and their interest rates will be market-linked. Both pubic issue and private issue can be adopted for municipal bonds.
  • SEBI allowed urban local bodies to raise money through the issue of revenue bonds as well. Municipal bonds where the funds raised are kept for one project are termed revenue bonds. Servicing of these bonds can be made from revenue accrued from the project.

2.Government committed to doubling farmers income by 2022 so that they can live a life of happiness and prosperity: Union Agriculture Minister

Source: PIB

To achieve this ambitious objective, the government is encouraging to adopt the ‘multi-dimensional seven-point’ strategy suggested by Hon’ble Prime Minister, which includes-

  1. Emphasis on irrigation along with end to end solution on creation of resources for ‘More crop per drop’
  2. ‘Provision of quality seeds and nutrients according to the soil quality of each farm.
  3. Large investments in warehouses and cold chains to prevent Post-harvest losses.
  4. Promotion of value addition through food processing.
  5. Implementation of National Agricultural Markets and e-platforms (e-NAM) to eliminate shortcomings of all the 585 centers.
  6. To mitigate the risk, introduction of crop insurance scheme at a lower cost.
  7. Promotion of allied activities such as Dairy-Animal husbandry, Poultry, Bee-keeping, Medh Per Ped, Horticulture, and Fisheries.

Maldives rejects India’s Milan naval exercise invite:

  • Maldives has declined New Delhi’s invitation to participate in the biennial naval exercise Milan.
  • The biennial naval exercise, Milan, is being organised at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The aim of the exercise is to expand regional cooperation and combat unlawful activities in critical sea lanes.

3.Project Swajal

Source: PIB

Swajal pilot project has been launched at Village Bhikampura, Karauli, Rajasthan.

  • Swajal is a community owned drinking water programme for sustained drinking water supply.
  • Under the scheme, 90% of the project cost will be taken care by the Government and the remaining 10% of the project cost will be contributed by the community. The Operations and management of the project will be taken care by the local villagers.
  • Besides ensuring the availability of clean drinking water to every household round the year, the project would also generate employment.

76 Million Don’t Have Safe Drinking Water: India’s Looming Water Crisis

http://swachhindia.ndtv.com/76-million-dont-have-safe-drinking-water-indias-looming-water-crisis-5606/

4.World Cities Culture Forum

Source: The Hindu

Mumbai is set to be the newest member and the first Indian city on the World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF), a platform for cities to share their culture.

Key facts:

  • The WCCF enables the policy makers of member cities to share research and intelligence, while exploring the vital role of culture in prosperity. Forum members collaborate via a program of events including themed symposia, regional summits and workshops.
  • Mumbai, like members of the Forum, will be able to share its culture as part of a comparative research to understand its role and impact. The municipal corporation will be able to maintain a relationship with the other member cities and Mumbai will be represented on the Forum at all events.
  • Through its leadership exchange program, the city’s policy makers will be able to share ideas, technology, challenges and access cultures and arts.

WCCF:

Global cities sharing a belief in the importance of culture

  • Many city leaders now acknowledge that culture helps create thriving urban centres. And the political and economic influence of the world’s leading cities puts them in a unique position to set a global agenda for sustainable urban development
  • The World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF), which BOP convenes, provides a way for policy makers to share research and intelligence, and explore the vital role of culture in their future prosperity.
  • The forum, which began in 2012 with eight members, is a network of 32 key cities today, including London, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Cape Town, Dakar, Edinburgh, Lisbon, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, Toronto and many others.

Urban planning:

  • Rapid urbanisation means that, by 2030, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. The very speed of change is unprecedented and governments are facing increasingly complex challenges. Many of the great policy issues of our age, from tackling climate change to promoting social equality, are being led at city, rather than national, level.
  • As urban populations grow, so does the pressure on leaders to maintain their city’s distinctiveness, attract business and skilled jobs, and stay resilient and adaptable in the face of change.
  • WCCF members share the belief that culture is the key to their future as sustainable urban centres. BOP conducts comparative research to measure the impact and importance of culture and creativity, and shares it with the Forum so members can make evidence-based policy decisions

5.National e-Governance Awards

Source: PIB

National e-governance Awards were presented on the occasion of 21st National Conference on e-Governance.

The National e-Governance Awards recognise and promote excellence in implementation of e-Governance initiatives taken by various government departments and also initiatives of public sector units and Non- Government Institutions.

 The conference:

  • The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Government of India, along with the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India in association with Government of Telangana have organized the 21stNational Conference on e-Governance in Hyderabad, Telangana.
  • The Conference serves as a forum in which the Secretaries, Administrative Reforms and Secretaries, Information Technology of State Governments, IT Managers of the Central Governments, Software Solution providers, industry, etc. participate and interact, exchange opinions, views, discuss issues, problems and also analyze various solution frameworks.

Theme: Technology for Accelerating Development.

Sub themes:

  • Building User experience.
  • Universalization and Replication.
  • Governing e – Governance.
  • Emerging technologies.
  • e-Governance good/best practices.

e governance

  • e-Governance is generally understood as the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at all the level of the Government in order to provide services to the citizens, interaction with business enterprises and communication and exchange of information between different agencies of the Government in a speedy, convenient efficient and transparent manner.

6.National Science Day 2018

Source: PIB

National Science Day is celebrated on 28th of February every year in order to commemorate the invention of the Raman Effect in India by the Indian physicist, Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman on the same day in the year 1928.

  • For his great success in the field of science in India, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was awarded and honored with the Nobel Prize in the Physics in the year 1930.
  • Theme: “Science and Technology for a Sustainable Future”.

Raman Effect

  • The Raman Effect is a change in the wavelength of light that occurs when a light beam is deflected by molecules. When a beam of light traverses a dust-free, transparent sample of a chemical compound, a small fraction of the light emerges in directions other than that of the incident (incoming) beam. Most of this scattered light is of unchanged wavelength. A small part, however, has wavelengths different from that of the incident light; its presence is a result of the Raman Effect.

Raman’s experiment:

  • The violet light of the solar spectrum is isolated with a violet filter and passed through the liquid sample. Most of the light emerging from the liquid sample is the same color as the incident violet beam: the so-called Rayleigh scattered light (the scattering of light by particles in a medium, without change in wavelength. It accounts, for example, for the blue colour of the sky, since blue light is scattered slightly more efficiently than red).
  • However, Raman, along with K S Krishnan was able to show that some of the scattered light was a different color, which they could isolate by using a green filter placed between the observer and the sample.

7.Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Source: PIB

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved $1.5 billion in loans to India for infrastructure projects in 2018. The funds are meant for investment in energy, roads and urban development projects. Of the loans committed by the multilateral bank, around $200 million will be invested under the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) framework.

 

 AIIB:

  • The AIIB was established as a new multilateral financial institution aimed at providing “financial support for infrastructure development and regional connectivity in Asia.” It was founded in October, 2014, and has its headquarters in Beijing. Its goals are also to boost economic development in the region, create wealth, prove infrastructure, and promote regional cooperation and partnership.
  • The value of AIIB’s authorized capital amounts to $100 billion, with almost $30 billion invested by China. India is not only one of the founding members of AIIB but is also the 2nd largest shareholder in AIIB.

8.Aviation Multi Skill Development Centre (MSDC)

Source: PIB

A first-of-its-kind Aviation Multi Skill Development Centre (MSDC), a CSR initiative of Airports Authority of India (AAI) was inaugurated in Chandigarh.

Aviation MSDC:

  • The Centre has been set up in collaboration with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and is supported by the Aerospace and Aviation Sector Skill Council (AASSC) of India.
  • The course curriculum and assessments of the training have been designed by AASSC in accordance with the National Skill Qualification Framework. The Centre will train about 2,400 youth and women in 8 aviation job roles over the next 3 years.

Background:

  • Demand for aviation skilled personnel has been rising commensurately with the boom in the civil aviation sector witnessed in the last 3-4 years. More than 900 new aircraft are expected to be inducted by Indian scheduled airlines in the coming few years. Air connectivity for both passenger transport and air freight is increasing, with new air routes and operationalisation of unserved or underserved airports through the UDAN Regional Connectivity Scheme. MRO and ground-handling demands for skilled personnel are also rising in tandem.

NSDC:

  • The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is a one-of-its-kind, Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in India, under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE). It aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions.
  • NSDC provides funding to build scalable and profitable vocational training initiatives. Its mandate is also to enable support system which focuses on quality assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either directly or through partnerships.
  • NSDC acts as a catalyst in skill development by providing funding to enterprises, companies and organisations that provide skill training.
  • It will also develop appropriate models to enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives.



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