Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has approved the PLI Scheme for Specialty Steel on July 22, 2021.

 

The key takeaways are as follows:

  1. Duration of the scheme would be 5 years commencing from FY 2023-2024 to FY 2027-2028.
  2. Products are covered under 5 categories — Coated/Plated Steel Products, High Strength/Wear resistant Steel, Specialty Rails, Alloy Steel Products and Steel wires and Electrical Steel.
  3. Incentive to be in range of 4% to 12% on incremental production.
  4. Mandatory condition: – Steel used for manufacturing ‘specialty steel’ must be ‘melted and poured’ in India, i.e. raw material (finished steel) used for making specialty steel will be made in India only, hence promoting end to end manufacturing within the country.
  5. Government expects additional investment of INR 40,000 crore and increase in productivity capacity by 25 MT.
  6. The scheme is expected to generate employment opportunities to about 5,25,000 people of which 68,000 will be direct employment.

Source: Press Information Bureau.

 


*Tanvi Singh, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs considered and approved the proposal of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade for Central Sector Scheme for Industrial Development of Jammu & Kashmir. The scheme is approved with a total outlay of Rs. 28,400 crore upto the year 2037.

Government of India has formulated the New Industrial Development Scheme for Jammu & Kashmir (J&K IDS, 2021) as a Central Sector Scheme for the development of Industries in the UT of Jammu & Kashmir. The main purpose of the scheme is to generate employment which directly leads to the socio-economic development of the area. Considering the historic development of reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir with effect from 31.10.2019 into UT of Jammu & Kashmir under the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, the present scheme is being implemented with the vision that industry and service-led development of J&K needs to be given a fresh thrust with emphasis on job creation, skill development and sustainable development by attracting new investment and nurturing the existing ones.

The following incentives would be available under the scheme:

  1. Capital Investment Incentive at the rate of 30% in Zone A and 50% in Zone B on investment made in Plant & Machinery (in manufacturing) or construction of the building and other durable physical assets(in service sector) is available. Units with investment upto Rs. 50 crore will be eligible to avail this incentive. Maximum limit of incentive is Rs 5 crore and Rs 7.5 crore in Zone A & Zone B respectively
  2. Capital Interest subvention: At the annual rate of 6% for maximum 7 years on loan amount up to Rs. 500 crore for investment in plant and machinery (in manufacturing) or construction of building and all other durable physical assets(in service sector).
  3. GST Linked Incentive: 300% of the eligible value of actual investment made in plant and machinery (in manufacturing) or construction in building and all other durable physical assets(in service sector) for 10 years. The amount of incentive in a financial year will not exceed one-tenth of the total eligible amount of incentive.
  4. Working Capital Interest Incentive: All existing units at the annual rate of 5% for maximum 5 years. Maximum limit of incentive is Rs 1 crore.

Key Features of the Scheme:

  1. Scheme is made attractive for both smaller and larger units. Smaller units with an investment in plant & machinery upto Rs. 50 crore will get a capital incentive upto Rs. 7.5 crore and get capital interest subvention at the rate of  6% for maximum 7 years
  2. The scheme aims to take industrial development to the block level in UT of J&K, which is first time in any Industrial Incentive Scheme of the Government of India and attempts for a more sustained and balanced industrial growth in the entire UT
  3. Scheme has been simplified on the lines of ease of doing business by bringing one major incentive- GST Linked Incentive- that will ensure less compliance burden without compromising on transparency.
  4. Scheme envisages greater role of the UT of J&K in registration and implementation of the scheme while having proper checks and balances by having an independent audit agency before the claims are approved
  5. It is not a reimbursement or refund of GST but gross GST is used to measure eligibility for industrial incentive to offset the disadvantages that the UT of J&K face
  6. Earlier schemes though offered a plethora of incentives. However, the overall financial outflow was much lesser than the new scheme.

Major Impact and employment generation potential:

  1. Scheme is to bring about radical transformation in the existing industrial ecosystem of J&K with emphasis on job creation, skill development and sustainable development by attracting new investment and nurturing the existing ones, thereby enabling J&K to compete nationally with other leading industrially developed States/UTs of the country.
  2. It is anticipated that the proposed scheme is likely to attract unprecedented investment and give direct and indirect employment to about 4.5 lakh persons. Additionally, because of the working capital interest subvention the scheme is likely to give indirect support to about 35,000 persons.

Expenditure involved:

The financial outlay of the proposed scheme is Rs.28,400 crore for the scheme period 2020-21 to 2036-37. So far, the amount disbursed under various special package schemes is Rs. 1,123.84 crore.


Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)

[Press Release dt. 07-01-2020]

[Source: PIB]

NewsTreaties/Conventions/International Agreements

The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Government of India and Government of Japan, on a Basic Framework for Partnership for Proper Operation of the System Pertaining to “Specified Skilled Worker”.

Details:

The present Memorandum of Cooperation would set an institutional mechanism for partnership and cooperation between India and Japan on sending and accepting skilled Indian workers, who have qualified the required skill and Japanese language test, to work in fourteen specified sectors in Japan. These Indian workers would be granted a new status of residence of “Specified Skilled Worker” by the Government of Japan.

Implementation Strategy:

Under this MOC, a Joint Working Group will be set up to follow up the implementation of this MOC.

Major Impact:

The Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) would enhance people-to-people contacts, foster mobility of workers and skilled professionals from India to Japan.

Beneficiaries:

Skilled Indian workers from fourteen sectors viz. Nursing care; Building cleaning; Material Processing industry; Industrial machinery manufacturing industry; Electric and electronic information related industry; Construction; Shipbuilding and ship-related industry; Automobile maintenance; Aviation; Lodging; Agriculture; Fisheries; Food and beverages manufacturing industry and Foodservice industry would have enhanced job opportunities to work in Japan.


Ministry of External Affairs

[Press Release dt. 06-01-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved major and transformatory changes in the Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Post Matric Scholarship to students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC)’ to benefit more than 4 Crore SC students in the next 5 years so that they can successfully complete their higher education.

The Cabinet has approved a total investment of Rs 59,048 Crore of which Central Government would spend Rs. 35,534 Cr (60%) and the balance would be spent by the State Govts. This replaces the existing ‘committed liability’ system and brings greater involvement of the Central Govt in this crucial scheme.

The Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for Scheduled Castes allows students to pursue any post-matric course starting from class 11th and onwards, with the Govt meeting the cost of education.

The Central Govt is committed to giving a big push and further impetus to this effort so that the GER (Higher Education) of SCs would reach up to the National standards within the 5 year period.

Following are the details:

The focus of the scheme would be on enrolling the poorest students, timely payments, comprehensive accountability, continuous monitoring and total transparency.

  1. A campaign will be launched to enroll the students, from the poorest households passing the 10th standard, in the higher education courses of their choice. It is estimated that 1.36 Cr such poorest students, who are currently not continuing their education beyond 10th standards would be brought into the higher education system in the next 5 years.
  2. The scheme will be run on an online platform with robust cybersecurity measures that would assure transparency, accountability, efficiency, and timely delivery of the assistance without any delays.
  3. The States will undertake fool-proof verification of the eligibility, caste status, Aadhar identification and bank account details on the online portal.
  4. Transfer of financial assistance to the students under the scheme shall be on DBT mode, and preferably using the Aadhar Enabled Payment System. Starting from 2021-22, the Central share (60%) in the scheme would be released on DBT mode directly into the bank accounts of the students as per fixed time schedule, after ensuring that the concerned State Government has released their share.
  5. Monitoring mechanism will be further strengthened through conduct of social audits, annual third party evaluation, and half-yearly self-audited reports from each institution.

The Central Assistance which was around Rs 1100 crore annually during 2017-18 to 2019-20 would be increased more than 5 times to be around Rs 6000 core annually during 2020-21 to 2025-26.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 23-12-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for revision of the guidelines for obtaining the license for providing Direct-To-Home (DTH) broadcasting service in India. The salient features of the decision are:

  • License for the DTH will be issued for a period of 20 years in place of the present 10 years. Further the period of License may be renewed by 10 years at a time.
  • License fee has been revised from 10% of GR to 8% of AGR. AGR will be calculated by deduction of GST from GR.
  • License Fee will be collected on a quarterly basis in lieu of presently annual basis.
  • DTH operators shall be permitted to operate .to a maximum of 5% of its total channel carrying capacity as permitted platform channels. A one-time non-refundable registration fee of Rs.10,000 per PS channel shall be charged from a DTH operator.
  • Sharing of Infrastructure between DTH operators. DTH operators, willing to share DTH platform and transport stream of TV channels, on voluntary basis, will be allowed. Distributors of TV channels will be permitted to share the common hardware for their Subscriber Management System (SMS) and Conditional Access System (CAS) applications.
  • The cap of 49% FDl in the existing DTH guidelines will be aligned with the extant Government (DPIIT’s) policy on FDl as amended from time to time.
  • The decision will come into effect as per revised DTH guidelines are issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • The proposed reduction is intended to align the license fee regime applicable to Telecom sector and will be prospectively applied. The difference may also enable DTH service providers to invest for more coverage leading to increased operations and higher growth and thereby enhanced and regular payment of License Fee by them. Registration fee for Platform Services is likely to bring a revenue of approximately Rs. 12 Lakhs. Sharing of infrastructure by the DTH operators may bring in more efficient use of scarce satellite resources and reduce the costs borne by the consumers. Adoption of the extant FDI policy will bring in more foreign investment into the country.

The DTH is operable on the pan-India basis. DTH sector is a highly employment-intensive sector. It directly employs DTH operators as well as those in the call centres besides indirectly employing a sizeable number of installers at the grass-root level. The amended DTH guidelines, with longer license period and clarity on renewals, relaxed FDI limits, etc., will ensure a fair degree of stability and new investments in the DTH sector along with employment opportunities.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 23-12-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the proposal of Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to sign a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Securities and Exchange Board of India and Financial and Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF), Luxembourg.

Objectives

The MoU is likely to strengthen cross border cooperation in the area of securities regulations and facilitate mutual assistance, contribute towards efficient performance of the supervisory functions aid in imparting technical domain knowledge and enable effective enforcement of the laws and regulations governing the securities markets of India and Luxembourg.

Major impact:

CSSF, like SEBI, is a co-signatory to International Organization of Securities Commissions’ Multilateral MOU (IOSCO MMoU). However, the IOSCO MMoU does not have under its scope the provision for technical assistance. The proposed bilateral MOU would, in addition to contributing towards strengthening the information sharing framework leading to effective enforcement of securities laws, also help in establishing a technical assistance programme. The technical assistance programme would benefit the Authorities by way of consultations on matters relating to capital markets, capacity building activities and training programmes for the staff.

Background

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was established under the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 to regulate the securities markets in India. The objectives of the SEBI are to protect the interest of the investors and to regulate and promote development of securities markets in India. The main functions of SEBI include registration, regulation and supervision of intermediaries operating in the securities market; promoting and regulating self-regulatory organizations; prohibiting fraudulent and unfair trade practices relating to securities markets; and calling from or furnishing to other authorities, whether in India or abroad, such information as may be necessary for the efficient discharge of its functions.

The Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) of Luxembourg is a public law entity, with administrative and financial autonomy, established by the law of 23rd December 1998. The CSSF is the competent authority for the prudential supervision of the entire Luxembourg financial centre, except for the insurance sector. The CSSF is also legally responsible for the regulation and supervision of the securities market.


Cabinet

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the proposal of DoT for setting up of Public Wi-Fi Networks by Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs) to provide public Wi-Fi service through Public Data Offices (PDOs) spread across length and breadth of the country to accelerate the proliferation of Broadband Internet services through Public Wi-Fi network in the country. There shall be no license fee for providing Broadband Internet through these public Wi-Fi networks.

The proposal will promote the growth of Public Wi-Fi Networks in the country and, in turn, will help in proliferation of Broadband Internet, enhancement of income and employment and empowerment of people.

Salient Features:

This Public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface will be known as PM-WANI.PM-WANI eco-system will be operated by different players as described herein under:

  • Public Data Office (PDO): It will establish, maintain, and operate only WANI compliant Wi-Fi Access Points and deliver broadband services to subscribers.
  • Public Data Office Aggregator (PDOA): It will be an aggregator of PDOs and perform the functions relating to Authorization and Accounting.
  • App Provider: It will develop an App to register users and discover WANI compliant Wi-Fi hotspots in the nearby area and display the same within the App for accessing the internet service.
  • Central Registry: It will maintain the details of App Providers, PDOAs, and PDOs. To begin with, the Central Registry will be maintained by C-DoT.

Objectives

While no registration would be required for PDOs, PDOAs and App Providers will get themselves registered with DoT through online registration portal (SARALSANCHAR; https://saralsanchar.gov.in) of DoT, without paying any registration fee. Registration shall be granted within 7 days of the application.

This is expected to be more business-friendly and in line with efforts for ease of doing business.COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated delivery of stable and high-speed Broadband Internet (data) services to an increasingly large number of subscribers in the country including areas which do not have 4G mobile coverage. This can be achieved by deployment of Public Wi-Fi.

Further, the proliferation of public Wi-Fi will not only create employment but also enhance disposable incomes in the hands of small and medium entrepreneurs and boost the GDP of the country.

Proliferation of Broadband Services through public Wi-Fi is a step towards digital India and consequential benefit thereon.

No License Fee for providing broadband internet services using public Wi-Fi Hotspots will massively encourage its proliferation and penetration across the length and breadth of the country. Availability and use of Broadband will enhance incomes, employment, quality of life, ease of doing business etc.


Ministry of Communications

[Press Release dt. 09-12-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet has given its approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable connectivity between Mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project).

The Project envisages provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) between Kochi and 11 Islands of Lakshadweep viz. Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Agati, Amini, Androth, Minicoy, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kiltan&Kadmat.

Financial implications:

The estimated cost of implementation is about Rs. 1072 crore including operational expenses for 5 years. The Project would be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund.

Impact:

It is evident that the growth of telecom infrastructure is closely linked with economic and social development. Telecommunication connectivity plays vital role in employment generation. The present approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity will vastly improve telecommunication facility in the Lakshadweep Islands by providing large bandwidth.

The submarine connectivity project will have vital role for delivery of e-Governance services at the doorstep of citizens, potential development of fisheries, coconut-based industries and high-value tourism, educational development in term of tele-education and in health care in terms of telemedicine facilities. It will help in establishment of numerous businesses, augment e-commerce activities and provide adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing. The Lakshadweep Islands have the potential to become a hub of logistic services.

Implementation Strategy & Targets:

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has been nominated as Project Execution Agency and Telecommunications Consultant India Ltd. (TCIL) as the Technical Consultant of the Project to assist Universal Service Obligation Fund, Department of Telecommunications. The ownership of the asset under the project will rest with USOF, the funding agency, under DoT. The project is targeted to be completed by May 2023.

Background:

Union Territory of Lakshadweep comprising a number of Islands is situated in the Arabian Sea and of immense strategic significance for India. Provision of secure, robust, reliable and affordable Telecom facilities is of utmost importance for the people living in these islands as also from a strategic point of view for the whole country.

Presently only medium of providing telecom connectivity to Lakshadweep is through satellites, but the bandwidth available is limited to 1 Gbps. Lack of bandwidth is a major constraint in providing data services, which is a pre-requisite for providing e-governance, e-education, e-banking etc. for inclusive growth of society.

Government is accordingly committed to provide telecommunication facilities in Lakshadweep Islands Planning for laying the submarine optical fibre cable to Lakshadweep Islands has been under consideration for some time. High bandwidth communication facility to the Lakshadweep Islands is also in consonance with realising the national objective of strengthening e-governance services and achieving the vision of Digital India.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 09-12-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Scheme of Amalgamation

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Scheme of Amalgamation of Lakshmi Vilas Bank Limited (LVB) with DBS Bank India Limited (DBIL).

On 17.11.2020, to protect depositors’ interest and in the interest of financial and banking stability, on RBI’s application under section 45 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, LVB had been under a moratorium for a period of 30 days. In parallel, RBI, in consultation with Government, superseded the Board of Directors of LVB and appointed an Administrator to protect the depositors’ interest.

After inviting suggestions and objections from the public and stakeholders, RBI prepared and provided a scheme for the bank’s amalgamation for the Government’s sanction, well in. advance of the end of the period of moratorium so that restrictions on withdrawal faced by the depositors are minimised. With the approval of the scheme, LVB will be amalgamated with DBIL from the appointed date, and with this there will no further restrictions on the depositors regarding the withdrawal of their deposits.

DBIL is a banking company licenced by RBI and operating in India through wholly-owned subsidiary model, DBIL has a strong balance sheet, with strong capital support and it has the advantage of a strong parentage of DBS, a leading financial services group in Asia, with presence in 18 markets and headquartered and listed in Singapore. The combined balance-sheet of DBIL would remain healthy even after amalgamation and its branches would increase to 600.

The speedy amalgamation and resolution of the stress in LVB is in line with the Government’s commitment to a clean banking system while protecting the interests of depositors and the public as well as the financial system.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 25-11-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The IFSC Authority, after detailed deliberations, approved the International Financial Services Centres Authority (Banking) Regulations, 2020.

Banking constitutes one of the major focus areas of IFSC and is expected to drive and facilitate the other constituent operations in the IFSC in due course. A self-contained regulation laying down the major principles of banking operations at IFSCs is thus an important step in the IFSC reaching its desired potential.

The Authority approved the draft banking regulations at its meeting today, which paves the way for putting in place the rules for the various aspects of banking operations that would be permissible at the IFSC.

The salient aspects of the Banking Regulations include:

  • Laying down the requirements for setting up IFSC Banking Units (IBUs)
  • Permitting persons resident outside India (having net worth not less than USD 1 Million) to open foreign currency accounts in any freely convertible currency at IFSC Banking Units (IBUs)
  • Permitting persons resident in India (having net worth not less than USD 1 Million) to open foreign currency accounts in any freely convertible currency at IFSC Banking Units (IBUs) to undertake any permissible current account or capital account transaction or any combination thereof under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) of the Reserve Bank of India.
  • Laying down the permissible activities of IBUs including credit enhancement, credit insurance, and sale, purchase of portfolios, engage in factoring and forfeiting of export receivables and undertake equipment leasing, including aircraft leasing
  • Permitting the Authority to determine the business that a Banking Unit may be permitted to conduct in INR with persons resident in India and persons resident outside India, subject to settlement of the financial transaction in relation to such business in freely convertible foreign currency.

The abovementioned regulations will be notified by the Government of India in due course.


Ministry of Finance

[Press Release dt. 11-11-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), India and the United Kingdom Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (UK MHRA) on cooperation in the field of medical Product Regulation.

The MoU will help in establishing a framework for fruitful cooperation and exchange of information between the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) and the United Kingdom Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (UKMHRA) of United Kingdom in matters relating to Medical products regulation in line with their international responsibilities. The main areas of cooperation between the two Regulatory Authorities include the following:

a)     Exchange of safety information, including Pharmacovigilance where there is a particular safety concern related to the other party. This includes safety concerns relating to medicines and medical devices.

b)     Participation in scientific and practical conferences, symposia, seminars and fora organized by India and the United Kingdom.

c)     Exchange of information and cooperation on Good Laboratory Practices (GLP), Good Clinical Practices (GCP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Good Distribution Practices (GDP) and Good Pharmacovigilance Practices (GPvP).

d)     Capacity building in mutually agreed areas.

e)     Promote an understanding between the Parties of each other’s regulatory framework, requirements and processes; and to facilitate future regulatory strengthening initiatives for both Parties.

f)     Exchange of information on laws and regulations regarding medicines and medical devices.

g)    Information exchange to support efforts to control unlicensed exports and imports.

h) Coordination at the international fora.

It would facilitate a better understanding of the regulatory aspects between the two sides and could help in increased cooperation in the field of medical products regulation and better coordination in international fora.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 04-11-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval to pay Productivity Linked Bonus (PLB) for the year 2019-2020 to 16.97 lakh non-gazetted employees of commercial establishments like Railways, Posts, Defence, EPFO, ESIC, etc will be benefitted and the financial implication would be Rs 2,791 crore.

Non-PLB or ad-hoc Bonus is given to Non-Gazetted Central Government employees. 13.70 lakh employees would be benefited and Rs.946 crore will be the financial implication for the same.

A total of 30.67 lakh employees would be benefited by the Bonus announcement and total financial implication will be Rs 3,737 crore.

Payment of Bonus to non-gazetted employees for their performance in the preceding year is usually made before Durga Puja/Dussehra season. The Government is announcing the Productivity Linked Bonus (PLB) and ad hoc bonus for its non-gazetted employees to be disbursed immediately.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 21-10-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet gave its approval for signing a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC)  in the field of cybersecurity between India and Japan.

The MoC will enhance cooperation in areas of mutual interest, which in­clude inter-alia, capacity building in the area of cyberspace; protection of critical infrastructure; cooperation in emerging technologies; sharing information on cyber security threats/incidents and malicious cyber activities, as well as best prac­tices to counter them; Developing joint mechanisms for practical cooperation to mitigate cyber threats to the security of Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure etc.

India and Japan commit to an open, interoperable, free, fair, secure and reli­able cyberspace environment and to promote the Internet as an engine of innova­tion, economic growth, and trade and commerce that would be consistent with their respective domestic laws and international obligations, and with their wide-ranging strategic partnership.

Both sides, through the MoC, affirm cooperation in the international arena including in the United Nations; Discussing and sharing strategies and best prac­tices to promote the integrity of the supply chain of ICT products; Strengthening the security of ICT infrastructure through Government-to-Government and Business-to-Business cooperation; Continuing dialogue and engagement in Internet governance fora, and to support active participation by all the stakeholders of the two countries in these fora.


Ministry of External Affairs

Press Release dt. 07-10-2020

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for creation of National Recruitment Agency (NRA), paving the way for a transformational reform in the recruitment process for central government jobs.

Recruitment Reform – a major boon for the youth

At present, candidates seeking government jobs have to appear for separate examinations conducted by multiple recruiting agencies for various posts, for which similar eligibility conditions have been prescribed. Candidates have to pay fee to multiple recruiting agencies and also have to travel long distances for appearing in various exams. These multiple recruitment examinations are a burden on the candidates, as also on the respective recruitment agencies, involving avoidable/repetitive expenditure, law and order/security related issues and venue related problems.

On average, 2.5 crore to 3 crore candidates appear in each of these examinations. A common eligibility Test would enable these candidates to appear once and apply to any or all of these recruitment agencies for the higher level of examination. This would indeed be a boon to all the candidates.

National Recruitment Agency (NRA)

A multi-agency body called the National Recruitment Agency (NRA) will conduct a Common Eligibility Test (CET) to screen/shortlist candidates for the Group B and C (non-technical) posts. NRA will have representatives of Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Finance/Department of Financial Services, the SSC, RRB & IBPS. It is envisioned that the NRA would be a specialist body bringing the state-of-the-art technology and best practices to the field of Central Government recruitment.

Access to Examination Centres

Examination Centres in every District of the country would greatly enhance access to the candidates located in far-flung areas. Special focus on creating examination infrastructure in the 117 Aspirational Districts would go a long way in affording access to candidates at a place nearer to where they reside. The benefits in terms of cost, effort, safety and much more would be immense.

The proposal will not only ease access to rural candidates, it will also motivate the rural candidates residing in the far-flung areas to take the examination and thereby, enhance their representation in Central Government jobs. Taking job opportunities closer to the people is a radical step that would greatly enhance ease of living for the youth.

Major Relief to poor Candidates

Presently, the candidates have to appear in multiple examinations conducted by multiple agencies.  Apart from the examination fees, candidates have to incur additional expenses for travel, boarding, lodging and other such. A single examination would reduce the financial burden on candidates to a large extent.

Women candidates to benefit greatly

Women candidates especially from rural areas face constraints in appearing in multiple examinations as they have to arrange for transportation and places to stay in places that are far away. They sometimes have to find suitable persons to accompany them to these Centres that are located far away. The location of test centres in every District would greatly benefit candidates from rural areas in general and women candidates in particular.

Bonanza for Candidates from Rural Areas

Given the financial and other constraints, the candidates from rural background have to make a choice as to which examination they want to appear in.  Under the NRA, the candidates by appearing in one examination will get an opportunity to compete for many posts.  NRA will conduct the first-level /Tier I Examination which is the stepping stone for many other selections.

CET Score to be valid for three years, no bar on attempts

The CET score of the candidate shall be valid for a period of three years from the date of declaration of the result.  The best of the valid scores shall be deemed to be the current score of the candidate.  There shall be no restriction on the number of attempts to be taken by a candidate to appear in the CET subject to the upper age limit. Relaxation in the upper age limit shall be given to candidates of SC/ST/OBC and other categories as per the extant policy of the Government. This would go a long way in mitigating the hardship of candidates who spend a considerable amount of time, money and effort preparing and giving these examinations every year.

Standardised Testing

NRA shall conduct a separate CET each for the three levels of graduate, higher secondary (12th pass) and the matriculate (10th pass) candidates for those non-technical posts to which recruitment is presently carried out by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), the Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) and by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS).  Based on the screening done at the CET score level, final selection for recruitment shall be made through separate specialised Tiers (II, III etc) of examination which shall be conducted by the respective recruitment agencies. The curriculum for this test would be common as would be the standard. This would greatly ease the burden of candidates who are at present required to prepare for each of the examinations separately as per different curriculum.

Scheduling Tests and choosing Centres

Candidates would have the facility of registering on a common portal and give a choice of Centres. Based on availability, they would be allotted Centres. The ultimate aim is to reach a stage wherein candidates can schedule their own tests at Centres of their choice.

OUTREACH ACTIVITIES BY NRA

Multiple languages

The CET would be available in a number of languages. This would greatly facilitate people from different parts of the country to take the exam and have an equal opportunity of being selected.

Scores – access to multiple recruitment agencies

Initially, the scores would be used by the three major recruitment agencies. However, over a period of time it is expected that other recruitment agencies in the Central Government would adopt the same. Further, it would be open for other agencies in the public as well as private domain to adopt it if they so choose. Thus, in the long run, the CET score could be shared with other recruiting agencies in the Central Government, State Governments/Union Territories, Public Sector Undertaking and Private Sector. This would help such organizations in saving costs and time spent on recruitment.

Shortening the recruitment cycle

A single eligibility test would significantly reduce the recruitment cycle. Some Departments have indicated their intention to do away with any second level test and go ahead with recruitment on the basis of CET scores, Physical Tests and Medical examination. This would greatly reduce the cycle and benefit a large section of youth.

Financial Outlay

The Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs. 1517.57 crore for the National Recruitment Agency (NRA). The expenditure will be undertaken over a period of three years. Apart from setting up the NRA, costs will be incurred for setting up examination infrastructure in the 117 Aspirational Districts.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 20-08-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Capital infusion of 3 Public Sector General Insurance Companies — Oriental Insurance Company Limited, National Insurance Company Limited and United India Insurance Company Limited

The Union Cabinet has approved the capital infusion for an overall value of Rs.12,450 crore; (including Rs. 2,500 crore infused in FY 2019-20) in the three Public Sector General Insurance Companies (PSGICs) namely Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OlCL), National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) and United India Insurance Company Limited (UIICL) but of which Rs 3,475 crore will be released immediately; while the balance Rs 6475 crore will be infused later.

Cabinet also approved increase in authorised share capital of NICL to Rs.7,500crore and that of UIICL and OlCL to Rs 5,000 crore respectively to give effect to the capital infusion. Further, the process of merger has been ceased so far in view of the current scenario and instead, the focus shall be on their profitable growth.

The capital infusion of Rs 3,475 Crore will be allocated to three PSGICs viz. OlCL, NICL and UIICL as the first tranche in the current financial year and the. balance amount will be released in one or more tranches. To give effect to the infusion, the authorised capital of NICL will be increased to Rs 7,500 Crore and that of UIICL and OlCL to Rs 5,000 Crore respectively.

Impact

The capital infusion will enable the three PSGICs to improve their financial and solvency position, meet the insurance needs of the economy, absorb changes and enhance the capacity to raise resources and improved risk management.

Financial implications:

In the current financial year, the immediate financial implication would be Rs 3,475 crore as a result of capital infusion in three PSGICs namely OlCL, NICL and UIICL as the first tranche which will be followed by Rs 6,475 Crore.

Way forward:

To ensure optimum utilization of the capital being provided, the Government has issued guidelines in the form of KPIs aimed at bringing business efficiency and profitable growth. In the meanwhile, given the current scenario, the process of merger has been ceased so far and/instead focus shall be on their solvency and profitable growth, post capital infusion.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 08-07-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Cabinet DecisionsCOVID 19Legislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for extending the contribution both 12% employees’ share and 12% employers’ share under Employees Provident Fund, totaling 24% for another 3 months from June to August, 2020, as part of the package announced by the Government under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY)/ Aatmanirbhar Bharat in the light of COVID-19, a Pandemic.

This approval is in addition to the existing scheme for the wage months of March to May, 2020 approved on 15.04.2020.  The total estimated expenditure is of Rs.4,860 crore.  Over 72 lakh employees in 3.67 lakh establishments will be benefitted.

Salient Features:

The salient features of the proposal are as under:

  1. For the wage months of June, July and August, 2020, the scheme will cover all the establishments having upto 100 employees and 90% of such employees earning less than Rs. 15,000 monthly wage.
  2. About 72.22 lakh workers working in 3.67 lakh establishments will be benefited and would likely to continue on their payrolls despite disruptions.
  3. Government will provide Budgetary Support of Rs.4800 crore for the year 2020-21 for this purpose.
  4. The beneficiaries entitled for 12% employers’ contribution for the months of June to August, 2020 under Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) will be excluded to prevent overlapping benefit.
  5. Due to prolonged lockdown, it was felt that businesses continue to face financial crisis as they get back to work. Therefore, the  FM, as part of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, announced on 13.5.2020 that the EPF support for business and workers will be extended by another 3 months viz. for the wage months of June, July, and August, 2020.

     The steps taken by the Government from time to time to ameliorate the hardships faced by the low paid workers are well accepted by the stakeholders.

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet approved far reaching reforms in the Space sector aimed at boosting private sector participation in the entire range of space activities. The decision taken is in line with the long-term vision of the Prime Minister of transforming India and making the country self-reliant and technologically advanced.

India is among a handful of countries with advanced capabilities in the space sector. With these reforms, the sector will receive new energy and dynamism, to help the country leapfrog to the next stages of space activities.

This will not only result in an accelerated growth of this sector but will enable Indian Industry to be an important player in global space economy. With this, there is an opportunity for large-scale employment in the technology sector and India becoming a Global technology powerhouse.

Key Benefits:

Space sector can play a major catalytic role in the technological advancement and expansion of our Industrial base. The proposed reforms will enhance the socio-economic use of space assets and activities, including through improved access to space assets, data and facilities.

The newly created Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) will provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure. It will also hand-hold, promote and guide the private industries in space activities through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment.

The Public Sector Enterprise ‘New Space India Limited (NSIL)’ will endeavour to re-orient space activities from a ‘supply driven’ model to a ‘demand driven’ model, thereby ensuring optimum utilization of our space assets.

These reforms will allow ISRO to focus more on research and development activities, new technologies, exploration missions and human spaceflight programme. Some of the planetary exploration missions will also be opened up to private sector through an ‘announcement of opportunity’ mechanism.


Department of Space

[Press Release dt. 24-06-2020]


Image Credits: NewIndianExpress.com

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

While announcing a series of Cabinet Decisions, Union Minister, Prakash Javdekar announced the approval of an ordinance to bring Urban and Cooperative Banks under the supervision of Reserve Bank of India.

 

Cabinet approves an ordinance to bring 1,482 urban and 58 multi state cooperative banks under the supervision power of RBI.

It will give an assurance to 8.6 crore depositors in these banks that their money will stay safe.

[Source of Tweet: PIB India]


Cabinet

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of the term of the Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes, by 6 months i.e. upto 31.1.2021.

Impact including employment generation potential:

The Communities in the existing list of OBCs which have not been able to get any major benefit of the scheme of reservation for OBCs for appointment in Central Government posts and for admission in Central Government Educational Institutions are expected to be benefitted upon implementation of the recommendations of the Commission. The Commission is likely to make recommendations for benefit of such marginalized communities in the Central List of OBCs.

Expenditure:

The expenditure involved are related to the establishment and administration costs of the Commission, which would continue to be borne by the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Benefits:

All persons belonging to the castes/communities which are included in the Central List of SEBCs but which have not been able to get any major benefit of the existing scheme of reservation for OBCs in Central Government posts & for admission in Central Government Educational Institutions would be benefitted.

Implementation schedule:

Orders for extension of the term of the Commission and addition in its Terms of Reference will be notified in the Gazette in the form of an Order made by the President, after receipt of the approval of the Hon’ble President to the same.

Background: 

The Commission was constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution with the approval of President on 2nd October, 2017. The Commission, headed by Justice (Retd.) Smt. G. Rohini commenced functioning on 11th October, 2017 and has since interacted with all the States/UTs which have subcategorized OBCs, and the State Backward Classes Commissions. The Commission has come to the view that it would require some more time to submit its report since the repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription etc. appearing in the existing Central List of OBCs need to be cleared. Hence the Commission had sought extension of its term, up to 31st July 2020. However, due to the nationwide lockdown and restrictions on travel imposed on account of COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission was not able to go perform the task assigned to it. Therefore, the term of the Commission is being extended for a period of 6 more months i.e. up to 31.1.2021.


Cabinet

[Press Release dt. 24-06-2020]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

Union Cabinet has given its approval for declaration of Kushinagar Airport in Uttar Pradesh as an International Airport.

Kushinagar Airport is located in the vicinity of several Buddhist Cultural Sites like Sravasti, Kapilvastu, Lumbini (Kushinagar itself is a Buddhist cultural site) and declaration as an “International Airport” will offer improved connectivity, wider choice of competitive costs to the air-travellers.  It will result in boosting of domestic/international tourism and economic development of the regions.  It will be an important strategic location with the international border close by.

Kushinagar is located in the north-eastern part of Uttar Pradesh about 50 km east of Gorakhpur and is one of the important Buddhist pilgrimage sites.


Cabinet

Press Release dt. 24-06-2020