30, December 2016

1. Cabinet approves Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas
Source: PIB
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved a Centrally Sponsored Scheme namely “Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Affected Areas” to improve the rural road connectivity in the worst LWE affected districts from security angle.
Key facts:
The project will be implemented as a vertical under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) to provide connectivity with necessary culverts and cross-drainage structures in 44 worst affected LWE districts and adjoining districts, critical from security and communication point of view. The roads will be operable throughout the year irrespective of all weather conditions.
The fund sharing pattern of LWE road project will be same as that of PMGSY i.e. in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and States for all States except for eight North Eastern and three Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand) for which it is 90:10.
Ministry of Finance will have to allocate to Ministry of Rural Development Rs.7,034.72 crore for this project during the period of implementation 2016-17 to 2019-20. Ministry of Rural Development will be implementing Ministry of this project.
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched on 25th December, 2000 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with the objective to provide all-weather road connectivity to all eligible unconnected habitations in rural areas of the country.
The programme envisages connecting all eligible unconnected habitations with a population of 500 persons and above (as per 2001 Census) in plain areas and 250 persons and above (as per 2001 Census) in Special Category States and in Select Tribal and Backward Districts (as identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs/Planning Commission).
For most intensive Integrated Action Plan (IAP) blocks as identified by Ministry of Home Affairs the unconnected habitations with population of100 and above (as per 2001 Census) are eligible to be covered under PMGSY.

2. Cabinet approves International Solar Alliance (ISA): Signing of the Framework Agreement
Source: PIB
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to the proposal of Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) for ratification of ISA’s Framework Agreement by India.
ISA was launched jointly by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France on 30th November, 2015 at Paris on the side-lines of the 21st CoP meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The ISA will strive to bring together more than 121 solar resource rich nations for coordinated research, low cost financing and rapid deployment.
The foundation stone of the ISA Headquarters was laid at Gwal Pahari, Guragaon in Haryana. India has already committed the required support of operationalization of ISA.
ISA will put India globally in a leadership role in climate and renewable energy issues. It will also give a platform to showcase its solar programmes.
Background
The Agreement was opened for signature on the sidelines of 22nd CoP meeting at Marrakesh, Morocco.
The Agreement invokes the Paris Declaration on ISA and encapsulates the vision of the prospective member nations.
UNDP and World Bank have already announced their partnership with the ISA. Till now, 25 nations have signed the Framework Agreement.

3. Union Home Minister chairs Southern Zonal Council meeting
Source: PIB
The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh chaired the 27th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council at Thiruvananthapuram recently.
The Council reviewed progress of implementation of various recommendations made in the last meeting relating to issues of fishermen, Peninsular Region Industrial Development Corridor, Extension of High Speed Rail Corridor and Amendments to the New Road Transport & Road Safety Bill.
The Council also took up issues which relate to uniformity in allocation of funds for scholarships in proportion of population of SC/ST for all courses, revision of ceiling on profession tax by Government of India, prevention of communicable diseases, Naxalism, promotion of oilseeds and oil palm cultivation and development of Puducherry Airport.
Background:
The five Zonal Councils were set up under the States’ Reorganization Act, 1956 to foster Inter-State cooperation and coordination among the States.
The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on the matters of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities and inter-State transport etc.
They are regional fora of cooperative endeavour for States linked with each other geographically, economically and culturally.
Being compact high level bodies, especially meant for looking after the interests of respective Zones, they are capable of focusing attention on specific issues taking into account regional factors, while keeping the national perspective in view.

4. Wage payment through banks ordinance gets President’s nod
Source: The Hindu
Ordinance empowers Centre or State governments to specify industries or establishments where wage payments can be made mandatory through the banking system.
President Pranab Mukherjee has approved the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016, to enable industries to pay wages through cheque or by direct credit into bank accounts of workers earning up to Rs. 18,000 a month without their permission.
Key facts:
The ordinance empowers the Centre or State governments to specify industries or establishments where wage payment can be made mandatory through the banking system.
The ordinance doesn’t make payment of wages mandatory through the banking system and employers can still pay salaries through cash. The Payment of Wages Act of 1936 required employers to take permission from employees before paying salaries through cheque or bank credit.
The government introduced the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha on December 15, but it couldn’t be cleared, owing to the impasse in Parliament.
An ordinance is valid for six months and the Centre needs to get it passed in Parliament within that period.

5. SwachhSwasthSarvatra launched- (Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation)
Source: PIB
Swachh SwasthSarvatra’, an inter-ministerial joint initiative between the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was launched.
The objective of the ‘Swachh Swasth Sarvatra’ initiative is to build on and leverage achievements of two complementary programmes – Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and Kayakalp – of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Ministry of Health and FamilyWelfare, respectively.
Key facts:
The initiative is aimed at strengthening health centres in open defecation-free blocks.
The objective is to strengthen community health centres in 708 open defecation-free blocks across the country to enable them to achieve higher levels of cleanliness and hygiene.
Under it, 10 lakh rupees of financial assistance will be given to the community health centres so that they can be strengthened to meet the standards of sanitation, hygiene and infection control.
The initiative is a part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, under the National Health Mission. It is focused on the twin objectives of constructing toilets and enabling behavioural change, with the goal of making India free of open defecation by October 2, 2019.

6.India clears 6 foreign investment proposals worth Rs 1,200 crore – (Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance)
Source: Indian Express
Inter-ministerial body FIPB approved six investment proposals, including that of Sanofi Synthelabo India, Star Den Media Services and Idea Cellular Infrastructure Services, envisaging foreign investment of Rs 1,200 crore.
India allows FDI in most sectors through the automatic route, but in certain segments considered sensitive for the economy and security, the proposals have to be first cleared by FIPB.
The government has taken a slew of measures in the recent past to boost foreign direct investment into the country.
Foreign Investment Promotion Board, INDIA
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) offers a single window clearance for applications on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India that are under the approval route.
The sectors under automatic route do not require any prior approval from FIPB and are subject to only sectoral laws.
This e-filing facility is an important initiative of the FIPB Secretariat to further enhance its efficiency and transparency of decision making.
Background
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 recommendations for Government approval.
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.
In the process of making recommendations, the FIPB provides significant inputs for FDI policy-making.
FIPB comprises of the following Secretaries to the Government of India:
Secretary to Government, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance – Chairperson
Secretary to Government, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Secretary to Government, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
Secretary to Government, Economic Relations, Ministry of External Affairs.
Secretary to Government, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.
The Minister of Finance who is in-charge of FIPB would consider the recommendations of FIPB on proposals with total foreign equity inflow of and below Rs. 3000 crore.
The recommendations of FIPB on proposals with total foreign equity inflow of more than Rs. 3000 crore would be placed for consideration of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

7. Financial data management body mooted
Source: The Hindu
Govt proposed setting up of financial data management centre for managing the repository of financial regulatory data to ensure stability in the economy
A committee set up under the Department of Economic Affairs has recommended the creation of a statutory body that will standardise data from all financial sector regulators in a single database and will provide analytical insights based on the data.
The report of the committee to study the financial data management legal framework in India, made public, suggests the passage of a Bill in Parliament—the Financial Data Management Centre Bill 2016—to create the statutory body, as recommended by Finance Minister.
The Financial Data Management Centre Bill 2016:
Subject to the provisions of this Act, or any other law for the time being in force, it shall be the duty of the Data Centre to take measures to standardise data from regulators in consultation with the regulators, enable financial service providers to submit data in a standardised electronic format, analyse the data and maintain a financial system database.
Key facts:
The powers of the Financial Data Management Centre (FDMC) will include the establishment, operation and maintenance of the financial system database along with collecting financial regulatory data and providing access to it.
The body will also provide analytical support to the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) on issues relating to financial stability.
In 2015, when the FSDC first suggested the creation of such a body, the Reserve Bank had objected to sharing company-specific data with the body as it was not statutory in nature, and sharing such data would be a breach of confidentiality.
Even the Department of Legal Affairs said that the “majority of the financial sector regulators being statutory in nature, it is not clear from the proposal how the non-statutory FDMC will collect data from such regulators.
In the absence of any statutory or other legal basis which empowers FDMC to compel furnishing of confidential information to it, disclosure of any such information by Reserve Bank may not be justified as it may not fall within the recognised exception of compulsion of law,” the banking regulator .
.
Way ahead:
The Department of Economic Affairs re-examined the issue and obtained the Finance Minister’s approval to establish a statutory FDMC, following which a committee was formed to recommend the way forward.



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