Union Cabinet Approvals: 7 February 2019

Cabinet approves abolition of Income-Tax Ombudsman and Indirect Tax Ombudsman

• The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for abolition of institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman and Indirect Tax Ombudsman.
• The approval comes after the government took into account that complaint redressal mechanisms chosen by public and Ombudsman could not prove to be more effective than regular existing parallel channels of grievance redressal.
• The Institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman was created in the year 2003 to deal with grievances of public related to settlement of complaints relating to Income Tax. However, it failed to achieve its objectives.
• Moreover, tax payers started preferring alternate methods of grievance redressal like CPGRAMS (Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System), Aaykar Seva Kendras etc.

Cabinet approves regularisation of certain allowances prescribed by DPE to the executives of AAI

• The Union Cabinet approved the regularisation of certain allowances such as rating allowance, stress allowance, proficiency allowance, flying allowance and instructor allowance which are being paid over and above the 50 percent or 25 percent ceiling.
• This ceiling was prescribed by Department of Public Enterprisess (DPE) to the executives of certain operational category employees such as Air Traffic Controllers, Communication Officers, and Pilots of Airports Authority of India (AAI).
• These allowances will be kept outside the purview of 35 percent (revised) ceiling.
• Their job entails complex set of tasks requiring very high level of knowledge and expertise, as well as the practical application of specific skills pertaining to cognitive domains, communicative aspects and human relations.
• The decision was taken in view of the fact that air-traffic has increased manifold and these technical personnel are keeping the aviation activity over skies very safe.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Malaysia for cooperation in field of Company Secretaryship

• The Union Cabinet on February 6, 2019 approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between India and Malaysia for Mutual Cooperation to raise the status and prestige of the Practicing Company Secretary in both countries.
• It will facilitate the movement of the Company Secretaries across borders in the Asia-Pacific Region.
• The MoU was signed between the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) and Malaysian Association of Company Secretaries (MACS).
• Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) is a statutory body established under The Company Secretaries Act, 1980 to develop and regulate the profession of Company Secretaries in India.
• Malaysian Association of Company Secretaries (MACS) is a Malaysian professional body of Company Secretaries whose core objective is to improve status of Practicing Company Secretaries in Malaysia.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Election Management Bodies of Namibia and Panama

• The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for an MoU between India, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP) on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.
• This MoU contains standard articles and clauses which broadly express promotion of cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.
• It would promote bilateral cooperation, aimed at building technical assistance and capacity support for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP).
• It envisages cooperation in the field of electoral management and providing a chance to it in conducting elections in their respective countries.
• It would also result in bolstering India's international relations.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Norway on India-Norway Ocean Dialogue

• The Union Cabinet approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Norway on India-Norway Ocean Dialogue.
• The MoU will promote cooperation in the areas of mutual interest pertaining to the development of blue economy.
• Norway is a global leader in the area of Blue Economy and has cutting-edge technologies and expertise in areas such as fisheries, hydrocarbons, renewable energy, sustainable harnessing of ocean resources and maritime transport.
• The MoU will contribute to create opportunities for collaboration in areas such as exploitation of hydrocarbons and other marine resources as well as management of ports and tourism development.
• It will contribute to the objective of Food Security through infusion of new technologies in fisheries and aquaculture.
• It will offer a platform for businesses in both countries to execute profitable ventures.
• Scientists and researchers may collaborate on studying ocean ecosystem also in the context of the Arctic region.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Brazil on cooperation in Traditional Systems of Medicine

• The Union Cabinet approved MoU between India and Brazil on cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy.
• India is blessed with well-developed systems of traditional medicine including medicinal plants, which hold potential in the global health scenario.
• India and Brazil share a very close and multi-faceted relationship at bilateral level as well as in plurilateral level such as BRICS, BASIC, G-20, G-4, and BSA.
• Both the countries are also part of larger multilateral bodies such as the UN, WTO, UNESCO and WHO.
• Brazil is one of the most important trading partners of India in the entire Latin America and Carribean region. Ayurveda, Yoga and other traditional systems are popular in Brazil.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Maldives to improve the ecosystems for agribusiness

• The Union Cabinet approved the MoU between the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare and the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resource and Agriculture of Maldives.
• The MoU was signed on December 17, 2018 during the State visit of President of Maldives to India.
• The MoU provides for cooperation in the fields of agriculture census, agribusiness, integrated farming system, irrigation, improved seeds, soil health management, research, capacity building of local agribusiness, and enhancing knowledge of entrepreneurs in the areas of food security and nutrition.
• Under the MoU, a Joint Working Group will be constituted to prepare plans of cooperation, and implement the tasks determined by the Parties.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and the UAE on Development cooperation in Africa

• The Union Cabinet approved the Memorandum of Understanding between India and the United Arab Emirates on Development Cooperation in Africa.
• The MoU entails setting up of a framework of cooperation between the two countries for implementing development partnership projects and programmes in Africa.
• The proposal will help strengthen political and economic linkages between India and the countries of Africa and serve our broader strategic interests.

Cabinet approves agreement between India and Ukraine for cooperation in Agriculture


• The Union Cabinet approved signing of agreement between the India and Ukrain for cooperation in Agriculture and Food Industry.
• A Joint Working Group comprising of representatives from both countries would be constituted, the task of which would be to discuss and prepare plans of cooperation in identified sectors and to monitor the implementation of tasks determined by the Parties.
• The meetings of the Working Group will take place at least every two years, alternately in India and in Ukraine.
• This Agreement shall enter into force on the date of its signing and shall remain in force for a period of 5 years, being automatically extended for subsequent periods of 5 years.
• This Agreement can be terminated after 6 months from the date of receipt of notification of either Party of its intention to terminate this Agreement.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Uzbekistan for promoting cooperation in e-Governance

• The Union Cabinet approved the MoU between India and Uzbekistan for promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of e-Governance.
• The Agreement intends to promote close cooperation in the areas of e-Governance, IT education, Implementation and roll out of generic configurable e-Governance products in various sectors.
• The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has been mandated to promote International Cooperation in the emerging and frontier areas of Information Communications Technology (ICT) under bilateral and regional framework.
• The Ministry entered into Agreements with agencies of various countries to promote exchange of information in the identified areas.

Cabinet approves agreement between India and Indonesia on cooperation in use of outer space for peaceful purposes

• The Union Cabinet approved the framework agreement between India and Indonesia on cooperation in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes.  
• The Framework Agreement was signed and exchanged with Jakarta on May 30, 2018.
• This Framework Agreement will enable the potential interest areas of cooperation such as, space science, exploration of outer space, use of space technology, and remote sensing of the earth.
• It would lead to concluding implementing arrangements for specific activities. It would also lead to setting up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from ISRO, and Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), for the purpose of achieving the goals of this agreement.
• It will help in establishing ISRO's TTC station and IRIMS station at Indonesia.

Cabinet approves introduction of National Institutes of Food Technology, Enterpreneurship and Management Bill, 2019

• The Union Cabinet approved the introduction of National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019 in the Parliament.
• The objective of the bill is to confer the status of Institutions to National Importance to National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) at Kundli, Haryana, and the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.
• The legislation would provide for functional autonomy to the institutes to design and develop courses, undertake research activities and leverage enhanced status in their academic pursuits.
• The institutes would implement the reservation policy of the Government and would also undertake special outreach activities for the benefits of concerned stakeholders.
• It would enable the institutes to provide world class teaching and research experience by adopting innovative practices.

Cabinet approves establishment of Circuit Bench of Calcutta High Court at Jalpaiguri

• The Union Cabinet approved the establishment of Circuit Bench of Calcutta High Court at Jalpaiguri.
• It will have jurisdiction over four districts namely Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar.
• The decision comes in the backdrop of the decision of the Calcutta High Court full court meeting in 1988.

CCEA approves proposal for setting up 12,000 MW grid-connected Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Projects

• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the proposal of Ministry of New & Renewable Energy for implementation of the Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) Scheme Phase-ll for setting up 12,000 MW grid-connected Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Projects.
• The project will be set up by the Government Producers with Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support of  Rs. 8,580 crore in 4 years period (2019-20 to 2022-23), as per the terms and conditions specified in Government Producer Scheme.
• The Scheme will mandate use of both solar photovoltaic (SPV) cells and modules manufactured domestically as per specifications and testing requirements fixed by MNRE.
• The Scheme will also help in giving a push to Make-in-lndia by encouraging Government Producers to procure solar cells and modules from domestic manufacturers.
• The Scheme will create sufficient demand for domestically produced solar PV cells and modules for next 3 to 4 years.

CCEA approves continuation for the Central Sector Scheme of Exploration of Coal and Lignite

• The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs approved the proposal for continuation of the Scheme of "Exploration of Coal and Lignite" with an expected expenditure of Rs.1875 Crore.
• The approved scheme is for carrying out 24,41,500 meter of drilling and 3575 line km of surface geophysical survey for promotional exploration and detailed drilling in Non CIL Block in Coal & Lignite along with Shale gas studies and associated studies to provide coal resources in 3 years period.
• Under the Scheme, approximately 7 billion tonne of resources will be established and 11 billion tonne of resources will be provided.
• Exploration for coal and lignite is required to estimate and to prove the resources available in the country.
• Exploration for coal and lignite in the country is conducted in two broad stages: (i) regional exploration and (ii) detailed drilling.
• Exploration for Coal and Lignite Scheme is a continuing Central Sector Scheme from previous plans and scope of the work has not been modified.

CCEA approves "Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development" scheme of Prasar Bharti


• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Proposal of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting regarding Prasar Bharati's "Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development" scheme at a cost of Rs.1054.52 crore for 3 years (2017-18 to 2019-20).
• Out of Rs. 1054.52 Crore, an amount of Rs. 435.04 Crore was approved for the continuing schemes of All India Radio and an amount of Rs 619.48 Crore was approved for the schemes of Doordarshan.
• The continuing schemes of AIR and Doordarshan are at different stages of implementation and are scheduled to be completed in phases.
• For All India Radio, the Scheme provides for FM expansion at 206 places, digitalisation of studios at 127 places is envisaged.
• FM expansion programme will benefit 13 percent additional population of the country to listen the AIR programmes.

CCEA approves creation of Agri-Market infrastructure fund for development and upgradation of Gramin Agriculture Markets

• The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs approved creation of a corpus of Rs. 2000 crore for Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund (AMIF) to be created with NABARD for development and up-gradation of agricultural marketing infrastructure in Gramin Agricultural Markets and Regulated Wholesale Markets.
• AMIF will provide subsidised loan to state and central governments for their proposal for developing marketing infrastructure in 585 Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and 10,000 Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs).  
• States may also access AMIF for innovative integrated market infrastructure projects including Hub and Spoke mode and in Public Private Partnership mode.  
• In these GrAMs, physical and basic infrastructure will be strengthened using MGNREGA and other Government Schemes.

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