Union Cabinet Decisions – Year End Review, 2017 - Part II

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January 08, 2018
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Memorandum of Understanding

The Union cabinet approved the following MoUs for bilateral co-operation that the Indian government or its departments have entered into: 

  • Afghanistan - in Police Training and Development
  • Armenia - in Disaster Management
  • Bangladesh - for cyber security cooperation
  • Belarus - in the oil and gas sector  and “Vocational Education and Training”
  • Brazil - in Zebu Cattle Genomics and Assisted Reproductive Technologies
  • Canada - for jointly issue of postage stamps on the theme of Diwali (signed between India’s department of Posts and Canada Post). 
  • Colombia - in the field of agriculture and fisheries
  • Cuba - in Health and Medicine
  • Gibrtaltar - Technical assistance on financial matters (to be signed between SEBI and Financial Services Commission (FSC) of Gibraltar)
  • Israel - on Indo-Isreal Industrial R&D and “Technological Innovation Fund"
  • Italy - in Agriculture and Phytosanitary issues.
  • Italy - in Health and Medicine
  • Japan - for collaborative research in the field of silkworm and silk industries
  • Kuwait - Technical assistance on financial matters (to be signed between SEBI and Capital Markets Authority (CMA), Kuwait).
  • Morocco - in health and water resources.
  • Myanmar - for the Conservation of Earthquake-Damaged Pagodas at Bagan, Myanmar and “upgradation of the Women’s Police Training Centre” at Yamethin, Myanmar
  • Nepal - on Drug Demand Reduction and Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances and precursor chemicals and related matters.
  • Also, MoU for construction of a new Bridge over Mechi River near the border was approved.
  • Netherlands - in space technology
  • Palestine - in Health and Medicine, IT, Electronics, youth affairs and sports
  • Philippines - on agriculture and related fields
  • Poland - for the promotion of Civil Aviation Cooperation
  • Spain - in renewable energy
  • Sweden -  on cooperation in Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
  • Switzerland - on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector

Other International Engagements

During the same period, the cabinet also approved the following international engagements that India entered into or plans to enter in the near future:

Bilateral Deals  

  • Armenia - Agreement on mutual assistance in customs matters
  • Bangladesh - Joint Declaration of Intent for Promotion and Protection of Investments
  • Belarus - Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation for mutual benefit in the areas of science, technology, agriculture, etc.
  • Also, a “Bilateral Investment Treaty” (BIT) between on investments
  • Brazil - “Investment Cooperation and Facilitation Treaty” (ICFT).
  • Colombia – Approval for “Joint Interpretative Declaration” regarding the Promotion and Protection of Investments.
  • Ethiopia – Agreement on Cooperation in  Information, Communication and Media and trade for promoting economic co-operation.
  • Germany - Joint Declaration of Intent on Health care and establishment of Indo-German “Centre for Sustainability”
  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region – Cabinet approved entering into a “Double Taxation Aviodance and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion”.
  • Japan - Cabinet has approved the signing of "Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC)" with Japan on the "Technical Intern Training Program (TITP)".
  • Also, Memorandum of Cooperation on establishing a Liquid, Flexible LNG Market was signed.
  • Kyrgyzthan – Approval for amending the “Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement” DTAA, and “Prevention of Fiscal Evasion w.r.t. incomes”.
  • Lithuania - Cabinet approves the Extradition Treaty between India and Lithuania
  • Philippines – Approval for signing an agreement on co-operation and mutual assistance in customs matters.

Multilateral Engagements

  • BRICS - to set up BRICS Agriculture Research Platform
  • BRICS Interbank Cooperation - cabinet approved the signing of “Inter-bank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement” and MoC relating to “Credit Ratings by EXIM Bank”.
  • BRICS MOC - Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) was approved in tax matters between India and BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) and India.
  • Election Management Bodies - Cabinet approved the MoU signed by the Election Commission of India with the Election Management Bodies of other countries and International Agencies.
  • European Bank for Reconstruction & Development - Cabinet has approved India's Membership for “EBRD”.
  • IRDAI’s admission to IAIS – The admission of “Insurance Regulatrory and Development Authority of India” (IRDAI) admission to International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), has been approved. 
  • Status of IALA - Cabinet has approved for “International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities” (IALA) to change its status from Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to Inter-Governmental Organization (IGO).

Research and Industry

Cabinet approvals relating to setting up educational/research instutions and industry specific initiatives have been enlisted here:

  • International Rice Research Institute – Cabinet granted approval for the establishment of IRRI’s “South Asia Regional Centre” at the campus of “National Seed Research and Training Centre” in Varanasi.
  • International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography - Cabinet approved the signing of an agreement with the UNESCO for the establishment of “ITCOO” in Hyderabad.
  • Leather and Footwear Sector - Cabinet has approved the special package for employment generation in leather and footwear sector for employment genereation.
  • The package involves implementation of Central Sector Scheme "Indian Footwear, Leather & Accessories Development Programme" with Rs. 2600 Crore funds till 2020.
  • National Rail and Transportation University - Cabinet has approved the initiative of the Ministry of Railways to set up the first ever NTRU at Vadodara.
  • National Ayush Mission (NAM) - Cabinet has approved the continuation of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Ayush Mission (NAM) till 2020.
  • The scheme has an outlay of Rs. 2400 crore over the 3 year period.

Legislations

The following legislations were approved by the Union cabinet. These will subsequently have to be passed by the parliament to take effect:

  • CGST (Extension to J&K) Amendment Bill - Cabinet has approved a bill for the replacement of the “Central Goods and Services Tax” (extension to J&K) ordinance with a CGST (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
  • IGST (Extension to J&K) Amendment Bill - Cabinet has approved a bill for the replacement of the “Integrated Goods and Services Tax” (extension to J&K) ordinance with a CGST (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
  • Legislative order for J&K - Cabinet has given its approval for amendment of the Constitution (Application to J&K) Order, 1954.
  • This was done to pave the way for GST implementation and is done by a presidential order after getting the approval of the J&K assembly.
  • GST Compensation Ordinance - Cabinet approves promulgation of GST (Compensation to States) Ordinance, 2017
  • Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2017 - Cabinet has given its approval for introduction of the Bill in Parliament to amend the Dentists Act, 1948 to reduce redundancies.
  • Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 - Cabinet approved the introduction of this bill in the Parliament. 
  • National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Act, 2017 - Cabinet has given its approval for introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993.
  • This is to grant recognition to the Central/State/Universities that are found to be conducting teacher education courses without NCTE permission.

Schemes

The following schemes got cabinet clearance -

  • Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGB) Scheme - was approved after revision of guidelines to achieve its intended objectives.
  • Scheme of Modernisation of Police Forces -  The Union has given its approval for implementation of the umbrella scheme for years 2017-18 to 2019-20.
  • The financial outlay for the scheme over the three year’s period is Rs.25,060 crore, out of which the Central Government share will be Rs.18,636 crore.
  • Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme - Cabinet approves the increase in the carpet area of houses eligible for interest subsidy under the CLSS
  • This scheme is focused on the Middle Income Group (MIGs) under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).

 

  • Scheme for Capacity Building in Textiles Sector - Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, has given its approval for this new skill development scheme.
  • It covers the entire value chain of the textile sector excluding Spinning & Weaving in organized Sector and has an outlay for the next 3 years is Rs. 1300 crore.
  • The scheme will have National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) compliant training courses.
  • National Nutrition Mission - Cabinet has approved setting up of NNM with a three year budget of Rs.9046.17 crore.
  • NLCPR scheme - Cabinet has approved the continuation of the “Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources” (NLCPR) scheme for the North East till 2020.
  • The funding pattern of 90:10 and an outlay of Rs.5300.00 crore will also be retained and the ongoing projects would be completed.
  • Judicial Infrastructure Enhancement - Cabinet has approved the continuation of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary beyond 12th Five Year Plan.
  • These are to be implemented in a Mission Mode through National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms with an estimated outlay of Rs.3,320 crore.
  • Scheme on Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs - Cabinet has given its approval for continuation of the scheme beyond the 12th 5 year plan.
  • It has also provided a Grants-in-aid of Rs.18 crore to the Institute, which will make the Institute self-sustainable by the end of FY 2019-20.
  • Revamped Khelo India Programme – Approval for revamped “Khelo India programme” at a cost of Rs.1,756 crore for a 3 year period was given.
  • This marks a watershed moment as the Programme aims at mainstreaming sport as a tool for individual, community and national development.
  • National Rural Drinking Water Programme - approval for restructuring of “NRDWP” to make it outcome-based and competitive was given.
  • Focus is expected to be on better monitoring and sustainability of schemes to ensure good quality service delivery to the rural population.

Structural Changes

The following are the important structural changes that got cabinet approval:

  • Creating Equivalence - Cabinet approves equivalence of posts in Central PSUs like Banks, Insurance Institutions with Posts in Government.
  • This will help children of those serving in lower categories in PSUs and other institutions to get their deserved benefit of OBC reservations. 
  • This will also prevent children of those in senior PSU positions, who’ve got OBC status by virtue of non existence of parallel government postings.
  • National Anti-profiteering Authority - Cabinet approves the establishment of the “NAPA” under GST
  • NAPA is mandated to ensure that the benefits of the reduction in GST rates are passed on to the ultimate consumers.
  • Commission of Railway Safety - Cabinet has approved the creation of the post of “Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety”.
  • The post would aid the functioning of “Commission on Railway Safety” as envisaged in the "Metro Railways (Operations and Maintenance) Act, 2002".
  • Notably, the “Commission of Railway Safety” falls under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
  • Railway Convention Committee (2014) Report – Cabinet has accepted the suggestions in its 6th Report on "Rate of Dividend payable by the Railways to the General Revenues and other ancillary matters".
  • Payable revenues have been given a onetime waiver.
  • Banks Consolidation - Cabinet gives in-principle approval for Public Sector Banks to amalgamate through an Alternative Mechanism (AM)
  • The decision would facilitate consolidation among the Nationalised Banks to create strong and competitive banks.
  • BSNL’s Tower Assets - Cabinet approves hiving off mobile tower assets of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited into a separate company, fully owned by BSNL.
  • Shared Communication Towers - Cabinet approves revision of policy for providing certain Defence land to Communication Operators.
  • This will be based on “Department of Telecom” guidelines, for construction of Shared Communication Towers and allied Infrastructure
  • Productivity Linked Bonus (PLB) - Cabinet approved Productivity Linked Bonus for Railway Employees Payment before Festival seasons to Improve Productivity and Efficiency.
  • National Testing Agency (NTA) – Approval for Creation of “NTA” to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions.
  • It is to be an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions.

Fund Approvals

Cabinet sanctioned the following regarding the allocation of funds:

  • Indian Community Welfare Fund guidelines - Cabinet has approved revision of the ICWF guidelines.
  • Long term Irrigation Fund - Cabinet approves raising Extra Budgetary Resources up to Rs. 9020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund for 2017-18. 
  • This will be by NABARD through issuance of Bonds for ensuring lending rate of 6% per annum, in respect of borrowings for implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP).
  • Works of 99 ongoing prioritized irrigation projects along with their command area development (CAD) works under PMKSY.
  • Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh - The Non-lapsable corpus fund for Secondary and Higher education from the proceeds of Cess for Secondary and Higher Education levied under Finance Act, 2007
  • 15th Finance Commission - Cabinet approves the setting up the 15th finance commission under article 280 of the constitution.
  • MDR charges - Cabinet has approved subsidising the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) applicable on all debit cards, BHIM, UPI or Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS) transactions up to Rs. 2000.
  • The cost of such transactions would be borne by the Government for a period of two years from January, 2018 by reimbursing the banks.
  • 2nd National Judicial Pay Commission – Approval for setting up of the Second NJPC for Subordinate Judiciary was given.

Infrastructure Related Sanction

  • Inland Waterways Authority of India - Got the approval for IWAI to revalidate permissions to raise Extra Budgetary Resource (EBRs) of Rs. 660 crore through Government of India Bonds.
  • North Koel Reservoir - Approval to complete the balance works of the North Koel Reservoir Project in Jharkhand and Bihar was given.
  • While work was stalled in 1993, the estimated expenditure is Rs.1622.27 crore during three financial years from now.
  • New Metro Rail Policy - Was approved with focus on compact urban development, cost reduction and multi-modal integration
  • The policy seeks to enable realization of growing metro rail aspirations of a large number of cities in a responsible manner.

Miscellaneous Issues

The following domains also got cabinet approval:

  • Vision Dwaraka - Cabinet has approved the following proposals of the “Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion” (DIPP) for Dwaraka.
  • These include the development of Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre (ECC), Dwarka and allied infrastructure in PPP and non-PPP Mode.
  • The envisionments are estimate at 25,000 crores by 2025, and include an arena, trunk-infrastructure, Metro/NHAI connectivity, hotels, and office.
  • Incorporation of a new Government company as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the implementation and development of the project.
  • FM Phase-III e-auctions - Cabinet has approved auctioning of 683 FM radio channels in 236 cities in subsequent batches.
  • It will usher in new/enhanced experience of FM radio in more cities.
  • Renaming of Kandla Port - Cabinet approves renaming of Kandla Port as Deendayal Port.
  • OBC Sub-categorization Commission - Cabinet approved a proposal for setting up of a Commission under article 340 of the Constitution.
  • This is to examine the issue of sub-categorization within the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

 

Source: PIB

 

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