AUGUST 2018 (1-31)

Bhoomi Rashi and PFMS linkage

The government has proposed to integrate Bhoomi Rashi with Public Financial Management System (PFMS). Integration of Public Financial Management System (PFMS) with Bhoomi Rashi is one of the key functionalities to facilitate payment related to compensation for land acquisition to all the beneficiaries directly through the Bhoomi Rashi system.
What is Bhoomi Rashi? Bhoomi Rashi, the portal developed by MoRTH and NIC, comprises the entire revenue data of the country, right down to 6.4 lakh villages. The entire process flow, from submission of draft notification by the State Government to its approval by the Hon. Minister of State for RT&H and publication in e-Gazette, is online. The portal, created for expediting the process of publication of notifications for LA, is now being fully utilised for issuing the notifications. Bhoomi Rashi portal has been instrumental in reducing the time taken for approval and publication of notifications pertaining to land acquisition.
PFMS: The Public Financial Management System (PFMS) is an end-to- end solution for processing payments, tracking, monitoring, accounting, reconciliation and reporting. It is administered by the Department of Expenditure. It is implemented by the Controller General of Accounts.
Functions: It provides scheme managers a unified platform for tracking releases and monitoring their last mile utilisation. It provides platform for efficient management of funds through tracking of funds and real time reporting of expenditure and receipts through treasury and bank interface. The line ministries/departments utilise this platform to monitor the utilisation of funds provided to the implementing agencies and state governments. PFMS is also used for DBT payments under MGNREGA and other notified schemes of the Government of India.

Niryat Mitra mobile app

Ministry of Commerce & Industry has launched Niryat Mitra – mobile App.
Niryat Mitra: The app has been developed by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO). It provides wide range of information required to undertake international trade right from the policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariff, preferential tariff, market access requirements – SPS and TBT measures. All the information is available at tariff line. The app works internally to map the ITC HS code of other countries with that of India and provides all the required data without the users bothering about the HS code of any country. Presently the app comes with the data of 87 countries.
Significance of the App: The exports are showing good sign and registering increase at the rate of 20%. The government plans to further increase the ease of doing business. Therefore, the app will provide big opportunity to everybody and help promote export interests in the country. The Human Resource tool of the app enables candidates with interest in the international trade sector to register and apply against the vacancies arising in the sector. Companies can also search the profiles of the candidates and engage them.
Additional facts: ITC (HS) codes are better known as Indian Trade Clarification (ITC) and are based on Harmonized System (HS) of Coding. It was adopted in India for import-export operations. Indian custom uses an eight digit ITC (HS) code to suit the national trade requirements. Any changes or formulation or addition of new codes in ITC-HS Codes are carried out by DGFT (Directorate General of Foreign Trade).

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

The Centre has constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu to decide on 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations.
Objectives: It has been mandated to find way forward from current deadlock over issues of joining RCEP or not. It will also help fine tune India’s strategy for the upcoming RCEP ministerial meet in August 2018 in Singapore.
What’s the issue with India?
There’s a Mounting pressure on New Delhi to give an early consent to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. India has, however, refused to take responsibility for the long-winding negotiations and has stressed that it is important to address the sensitivities and aspirations of all participants. India is not comfortable with the ambitious dismantling of import tariffs being pushed for by the ASEAN, especially as it would also mean allowing duty-free access to Chinese goods. The Indian industry does not want the country to commit to high levels of liberalisation as it fears that it could get out-priced in the domestic market. India has also stressed on the need for other RCEP members to deliver in the area of services to arrive at an agreement. So far proposals in the area of services, including on work-visas for movement of professionals, have been disappointing with no member ready to make meaningful contributions.
What you need to know about RCEP?
RCEP is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. RCEP aims to boost goods trade by eliminating most tariff and non-tariff barriers — a move that is expected to provide the region’s consumers greater choice of quality products at affordable rates. It also seeks to liberalise investment norms and do away with services trade restrictions.
Why has it assumed so much significance in recent times?
When inked, it would become the world’s biggest free trade pact. This is because the 16 nations account for a total GDP of about $50 trillion and house close to 3.5 billion people. India (GDP-PPP worth $9.5 trillion and population of 1.3 billion) and China (GDP-PPP of $23.2 trillion and population of 1.4 billion) together comprise the RCEP’s biggest component in terms of market size.

Zero Budget Natural Farming

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) under Network Project on Organic Farming (NPOF) and All India Coordinated Research Projects (AICRP) on Integrated Farming Systems, has initiated an experiment on “Evaluation of zero budget farming practices in basmati rice-wheat system” at Modipuram (Uttar Pradesh), Ludhiana (Punjab), Pantnagar (Uttarakhand) and Kurukshetra (Haryana) from rabi 2017 to study the zero budget farming practices on productivity, economics and soil health including soil organic carbon and soil fertility.
What is Zero Budget Natural Farming?
Zero Budget Natural Farming, as the name implies, is a method of farming where the cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero. This means that farmers need not purchase fertilizers and pesticides in order to ensure the healthy growth of crops. It is, basically, a natural farming technique that uses biological pesticides instead of chemical-based fertilizers. Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection. It reduces farmers’ investment. It also protects the soil from degradation.
Government initiatives to support ZBNF: Government of India has been promoting organic farming in the country through the dedicated schemes of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) since 2015-16 and also through Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). In the revised guidelines of PKVY scheme during the year 2018, various organic farming models like Natural Farming, Rishi Farming, Vedic Farming, Cow Farming, Homa Farming, Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) etc. have been included wherein flexibility is given to states to adopt any model of Organic Farming including ZBNF depending on farmer’s choice. Under the RKVY scheme, organic farming/ natural farming project components are considered by the respective State Level Sanctioning Committee (SLSC) according to their priority/ choice.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana: Ministry/Department : Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
Scheme: Also called Traditional Farming Improvement Programme. Launched to promote organic farming. Objective is to improve soil health via organic farming. Scheme will encourage farmers to adopt eco-friendly concept of cultivation and reduce their dependence on fertilizers and agricultural chemicals to improve yields It is a cluster based scheme. Fifty or more farmers will form a cluster having 50 acre land to take up the organic farming under the scheme. In this way during three years 10,000 clusters will be formed covering 5.0 lakh acre area under organic farming. Every farmer will be provided Rs. 20,000 per acre in three years for seed to harvesting of crops and to transport produce to the market.
Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana:
Ministry/Department : Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
Objective: To achieve 4% annual growth in agriculture
Scheme: Launched to incentivize the states to increase their investment in Agriculture. Scheme incentivize the States to provide additional resources in their State Plans over and above their baseline expenditure to bridge critical gaps. A state is eligible for funding under the RKVY if it maintains or increases the percentage of its expenditure on Agriculture and its Allied Sectors with respect to the total State Plan Expenditure year on year. It covers all sectors of agriculture
Sub Schemes of RSBY are: Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern Region : To improve rice based cropping system in eastern India. Initiative on Vegetable Clusters : To increase production of vegetables. National Mission for Protein Supplements. Saffron Mission : Started in 2010-11; To improve saffron cultivation in JK. Vidharbha Intensive Irrigation Development Programme

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) beyond 12th Five Year Plan period ((2012–2017)). It will help in connecting 38,412 habitations at estimated cost of Rs. 84,934 crore. The centre’s share will be Rs 54,900 crore and states’ share is Rs 30,034 crore. Initially the targets of PMGSY were to be achieved by March 2022, however, the sunset date of achievement of PMGSY-I was pre-poned to March, 2019, with enhanced fund allocation and changed funding pattern i.e. in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and State for all States except for 8 North Eastern and 3 Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand) for which it is 90:10. Under, PMGSY-II, against the target length of 50,000 km works of upgradation almost 32,100 km road length have been sanctioned in 13 States, which have transited to PMGSY-II. Against the sanctions issued, 12,000 km road length has been completed up to March, 2018.
Achievements: The Task of connecting 1,78,184 eligible unconnected habitations under PMGSY on its way towards completion by March, 2019. So far, 95 per cent habitations (1,69,415) have been sanctioned, of which 91 per cent habitations (1,54,257) have been connected including 16,380 habitations connected by the States from their own resources. Against the sanctioned length of 6,58,143 km, 5,50,601 km road length has been completed.
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY): The scheme, launched in 2000, aims to provide single all-weather road connectivity to all eligible unconnected habitations in rural areas with population of 500 persons and above (in plain areas) and 250 persons and above (in hilly states, desert areas, tribal areas and selected tribal and backward districts). Union Ministry of Rural Development is nodal ministry for implementation of Scheme.

NITI Aayog launches “Pitch to MOVE”

NITI Aayog has launched “Pitch to MOVE” – a mobility pitch competition that aims to provide budding entrepreneurs of India a unique opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a distinguished jury.
“Pitch to MOVE”:“Pitch to MOVE” is organised by NITI Aayog in collaboration with Invest India and Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
Aim: The competition aims to identify and reward the start-ups offering innovative solutions for shared, connected, and environment friendly mobility. It also aims to incentivise the startups, which will help the Government realize its vision of Shared, Connected, Intermodal and Environment Friendly Mobility for India. The objective is to harness the latest disruption for generating employment and growth in our country. The Startups can be from the domain of Public Mobility, Electric Vehicles, Shared Transport, Last Mile Connectivity, Passenger Transportation, Battery Technology, Automotive IoT, Freight & Logistics, Powertrain/Drivetrain, Experiential, Travel, Mobility Infrastructure and Automotive Electronics etc.

Innovation Cell

Innovation Cell has been launched by the Ministry of HRD.
MHRD Innovation Cell (MIC): Innovation cell is MHRD’s initiative established at AICTE with a purpose to systematically foster the culture of Innovation in all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the country. The primary mandate of Innovation Cell is to encourage, inspire and nurture young students by exposing them to new ideas and processes resulting in innovative activities in their formative years fostered through Network of Innovation clubs in Higher Educational Institutions.

India Post Payments Bank

India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) has been launched. It will focus on providing banking and financial services to people in rural areas, by leveraging the reach of 1.55 lakh post office branches. The government aims to link all the 1.55 lakh post offices to the India Post Payments Bank system by 31 December, 2018. In 2015, RBI had granted ‘in-principle’ approval to 11 entities, including Department of Posts, to set up payments banks and proposed to give such licences ‘on tap’ basis in future.
What is IPPB? The India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) is a public sector company under the department of posts and ministry of communication with a 100 per cent equity of the government of India, and governed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). It started operations on 30 January, 2017, by opening two pilot branches, one at Raipur and the other at Ranchi. India Post Payments Bank will offer 4 per cent interest rate on savings accounts. India Post Payments Bank will offer a range of products such as savings and current accounts, money transfer, direct benefit transfers, bill and utility payments, and enterprise and merchant payments. India Post Payments Bank has been allowed to link around 17 crore postal savings bank (PSB) accounts with its accounts.
What are payment banks? Payment banks are non-full service banks, whose main objective is to accelerate financial inclusion. These banks have to use the word ‘Payment Bank’ in its name which will differentiate it from other banks.
Capital requirement: The minimum paid-up equity capital for payments banks is Rs. 100 crore.
Leverage ratio: The payments bank should have a leverage ratio of not less than 3%, i.e., its outside liabilities should not exceed 33.33 times its net worth (paid-up capital and reserves).
Promoter’s contribution: The promoter’s minimum initial contribution to the paid-up equity capital of such payments bank shall at least be 40% for the first five years from the commencement of its business.
Foreign shareholding: The foreign shareholding in the payments bank would be as per the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy for private sector banks as amended from time to time.
SLR: Apart from amounts maintained as Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) with the Reserve Bank on its outside demand and time liabilities, it will be required to invest minimum 75% of its “demand deposit balances” in Statutory Liquidity Ratio(SLR) eligible Government securities/treasury bills with maturity up to one year and hold maximum 25% in current and time/fixed deposits with other scheduled commercial banks for operational purposes and liquidity management.
What are the scopes of activities of Payment Banks? Payments banks will mainly deal in remittance services and accept deposits of up to Rs 1 lakh. They will not lend to customers and will have to deploy their funds in government papers and bank deposits. The promoter’s minimum initial contribution to equity capital will have to be at least 40% for the first five years. They can accept demand deposits. Payments bank will initially be restricted to holding a maximum balance of Rs. 100,000 per individual customer. They can issue ATM/debit cards but not credit cards. They can carry out payments and remittance services through various channels. Distribution of non-risk sharing simple financial products like mutual fund units and insurance products, etc. is allowed.

Public Credit RegistryRecently, RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya made a case for setting up a

Credit Registry (PCR), incorporating unique identifiers: Aadhaar for individual borrowers and Corporate Identification Number for firms.
Public Credit Registry: The PCR will be an extensive database of credit information for India that is accessible to all stakeholders. The idea is to capture all relevant information in one large database on the borrower and, in particular, the borrower’s entire set of borrowing contracts and outcomes.
Management of PCR: Generally, a PCR is managed by a public authority like the central bank or the banking supervisor, and reporting of loan details to the PCR by lenders and/or borrowers is mandated by law. The contractual terms and outcomes covered and the threshold above which the contracts are to be reported vary in different jurisdictions, but the idea is to capture all relevant information in one large database on the borrower, in particular, the borrower’s entire set of borrowing contracts and outcomes.
Need for a PCR: A central repository, which, for instance, captures and certifies the details of collaterals, can enable the writing of contracts that prevent over-pledging of collateral by a borrower. In absence of the repository, the lender may not trust its first right on the collateral and either charge a high cost on the loan or ask for more collateral than necessary to prevent being diluted by other lenders. This leads to, what in economics is termed as, pecuniary externality – in this case, a spillover of one loan contract onto outcomes and terms of other loan contracts.
Benefits of having a PCR: A PCR can potentially help banks in credit assessment and pricing of credit as well as in making risk-based, dynamic and counter-cyclical provisioning. The PCR can also help the RBI in understanding if transmission of monetary policy is working, and if not, where are the bottlenecks. Further, it can help supervisors, regulators and banks in early intervention and effective restructuring of stressed bank credits. A PCR will also help banks and regulators as credit information is a ‘public good’ and its utility is to the credit market at large and to society in general.

BIS to set standards for the services sector

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the national Standards Body of India working under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
It is established by the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.
The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS.
Composition: As a corporate body, it has 25 members drawn from Central or State Governments, industry, scientific and research institutions, and consumer organisations.
It also works as WTO-TBT enquiry point for India.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has kicked off the process to set new standards to measure quality of services offered to consumers across different sectors, including telecom, aviation, e-commerce and healthcare.
In this regard, BIS had recently called for a meeting of industry bodies to “persuade them to be part of the process and give their inputs.”
Significance of the Service Sector and need for standards:
Service sector is one of the key sectors of the Indian economy with a huge potential to grow into one of the largest markets of the world. Standards can play a major facilitative role in this regard. It is important that the standardisation needs and priorities of the sector are determined.
The process was initiated after concerns over lack of standardisation, particularly with regards to after-sales service, in their feedback to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.