Insights Daily Current Events, 22 May 2015

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Insights Daily Current Events, 22 May 2015

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RBI wins battle to keep debt management role

The Union Finance Ministry has finally decided to make some changes in its proposal for setting up the Public Debt Management Authority. With this the RBI seems to have won the battle.

Details:

  • Now, the proposal no longer envisages the RBI to relinquish control over the task of managing the Centre’s borrowings. Instead, the proposed authority, to be housed in the Finance Ministry and staffed mainly by government officials, is being given limited functionality.
  • It will take over merely the front office for the management of the Centre’s borrowings, while the control over the back office will remain with the RBI. Back office provides administrative and support services.
  • The authority will be set up through an executive order. The new plan of the Ministry is to move amendments to the RBI Act for statutory status to the authority and for full transfer of control not before another year or two.
  • The RBI had opposed the Ministry’s earlier proposal of complete transfer of control to the authority and hence not wanting to adopt a confrontational position, the Finance Minister has decided not to disturb the RBI set-up.

Background:

  • The Finance Minister, in his budget speech, had proposed to set up Public Debt Management Agency by amending the RBI Act, which would be under the supervision of Centre.
  • However, RBI had opposed this move and demanded that the agnecy should be independent of both RBI and Centre.
  • Following this, the government withdrew the proposal to set up such agency.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

 

Electronic toll set to roll out at 33 places

Electronic toll collection will soon become a reality with tests currently being carried out at 33 plazas in the State.

How electronic toll works?

  • The vehicles will have the radio frequency identity (RFID) tags. Equipment to scan radio frequency identity cards will be installed at the plazas.
  • The banks will set up counters to sell recharge coupons and the radio frequency identity (RFID) tags that will be affixed on the vehicles.
  • If there is no balance in the RFID tags, the gates at the plaza – boom barriers will not open.
  • The funds thus collected by Banks will be transferred to the concessionaires (the firm holding the rights).

Once money is deducted according to vehicle category the vehicle owner will receive a short messaging service alert from the bank. This technology is used world over and is already available in many plazas in the country.

Advantages:

  • Electronic tolling will reduce waiting time at plazas and lead to fuel savings.
  • This will also ensure that there is no over-charging by the concessionaires.
  • One lane will be dedicated to vehicles with RFID tags at all toll plazas. Frequent travelers and heavy vehicles can avail these cards. There will be a one-time registration.

However, truck owners are skeptical about the scheme. They say that they cannot invest huge amounts in advance.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Forward communities panel formed

Governor of Kerala has issued an ordinance for formation of a Commission for Forward Communities.

  • The Ordinance constituting the commission was cleared by the State Cabinet on May 7. Provisions of the ordinance have come into effect with the promulgation of the ordinance.

About the Commission:

Under the provisions of the ordinance, the commission would be headed by a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme or High Court and have two persons with specialized knowledge on forward communities as its members.

  • The commission’s member secretary would be a person who had served for at least three years as an additional secretary to the government or a person who has served in the rank of an additional secretary for not less than three years.
  • The tenure of the chairperson and members of the commission would be three years.

Functions of the Commission:

  • The commission’s main task would be to submit to the government a list of forward communities in the State.
  • It would also conduct studies on the problems faced by the economic backward sections in forward communities and suggest remedial measures.
  • The commission would also hear sections or persons, if any, who wish to be included in a forward community and advise the government on the subject.
  • It would also be required to give advice to the government on measures to be taken for the general welfare of forward communities.

The commission would have the power to summon any person from any part of the State, ensure the person’s presence, and try the person under oath and demand production of any document that it wishes to make use of.

Other details:

The ordinance also stipulates that the government should issue forward community certificates to persons belonging to the forward communities in the format to be suggested by the commission.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

 

Norms eased for investments by NRIs, PIOs, OCIs

In a bid to increase capital flows into the country, the Union Cabinet, recently, announced a major shift in foreign direct investment policy by categorizing non-repatriable investments by non-resident Indians (NRIs), overseas citizens of India (OCIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) as domestic investment.

Benefits:

  • This will give PIOs & OCIs parity with NRIs in economy and education.
  • The measure is expected to result in increased investments across sectors and greater inflow of foreign exchange remittance leading to economic growth of the country.

This proposal was floated by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and the government had formed a committee to deliberate on this matter last year.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Nelong Valley opens for tourists first time since 1962

The picturesque Nelong Valley near the India-China border, which was closed for civilians after the 1962 war, has been opened for tourists.

Uttarakhand- Gangorti National Park

About the Valley:

  • Location: Gangotri National Park, Uttarkhand (45km from the India-China).
  • Flora and fauna: It has an arid landscape and is a cold desert. Nelong boasts a rich wildlife, which includes the snow leopard, Himalayan blue sheep and musk deer, along with rare bird and plant species.
  • Importance: Before the war, it was an important trade route.
  • Interestingly, foreigners are not allowed in the valley.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

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