Insights Daily Current Events, 06 December 2014
Expenditure Reforms Commission Set up
Govt. of India had set up Expenditure Reforms commission under the chairmanship of Shri K.P. Geetha Krishnan. It has submitted its report recently.
Why was it set up?
- To find a solution to the problem of high rate of growth of non-developmental expenditure by the Government and to begin the process of downsizing the Government in a systematic way towards reducing the role and administrative structure of the Government.
Rashtriya Swachhata Kosh
The Swachh Bharat Kosh (SBK) has been set up to facilitate and channelize individual philanthropic contributions and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds to achieve the objective of Clean India (Swachh Bharat) by the year 2019.
- The Kosh will be used to achieve the objective of improving cleanliness levels in rural and urban areas, including in schools.
- The allocation from the Kosh will be used to supplement and complement departmental resources for such activities.
- To incentivise contributions from individuals and corporate, modalities are being considered to provide tax rebates where it is possible.
After Maldives appeal, India dispatches water relief
India has dispatched “water aid” to the Maldivian capital, Male, after a major fire destroyed the generator of the Male Water and Sewerage Company, the biggest water treatment plant.
- India has dispatched aid through Aircrafts and Naval warship.
- Naval warship, INS Sukanya, which was pressed into action, is an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) with two Reverse Osmosis plants onboard with a capacity to produce 20 tonnes of fresh water a day. It will remain berthed off Male harbour until the desalination treatment plant in Male has been repaired.
- Close to 1,50,000 Male residents were left without water after the generator unit caught fire on December 4, causing extensive damage to the distillation plants.
While the Maldivian government put out similar calls to the U.S., China and Sri Lanka also, India was the first and best placed to respond.
Maldives has no natural water source and consumes only treated sea water.
Sources: The Hindu.
WB experts to suggest reforms
A team of World Bank Group experts is currently in India to suggest key reforms and support India’s efforts to improve its business environment.
- India ranks 142 out of 189 countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business indicators.
- Prime Minister of India had specifically requested the World Bank during his meeting with President Jim Yong Kim earlier this year that a Bank team visit India and suggest reforms in the Doing Business indicators.
It is very essential to improve India’s ranking to make “Make in India” a successful project.
Areas of Focus:
- Indicators related to laws, especially “Enforcing Contracts” and “Resolving Insolvency” are among the areas the team of experts now in India is focussing on.
- The team is also trying to identify key bottlenecks in the resolution of commercial cases with special focus on relatively small claims in local Civil Courts in Mumbai and Delhi.
The focus of the work is to support the implementation of a more business-friendly regulatory environment for domestic companies, primarily small to medium-sized firms, that encourages formal entrepreneurship in the country.
Sources: The Hindu.
FICCI bats for cigarette companies
Batting for the branded cigarette industry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) wants the government to reconsider its order to have pictorial warnings on both sides and covering 85 per cent of the pack.
- FICCI has said more prominent pictorial warnings will impact the domestic cigarette industry as a large percentage of non-cigarette tobacco products sold in unpackaged and unbranded packs will escape this regulation. It wants the warnings limited to the current 20 per cent (or 40 per cent of the front panel).
- It has argued that in the absence of pictorial warnings on illegal and loosely sold cigarettes, there is an impression that they are not as harmful as the packaged ones, thereby misleading consumers.
- It also cautioned that there could be a rise in the consumption of other tobacco products, and illegal cigarettes as they do not carry any warnings and are cheaper on account of tax evasion.
The Ministry had issued a notification making it mandatory for cigarette manufacturing companies to carry statutory warning with pictorial depiction of throat cancer and a message in English, Hindi or any Indian language on both sides of a cigarette pack and covering at least 85 per cent of the packaging starting April,1.
The FICCI has asked the Ministry to revisit the proposed amendments to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 or COTPA 2003 as these would allow the illegal tobacco industry to grow.
What the WHO says:
- Article 11 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) (India is a signatory to it) requires Parties to the Convention to implement large, rotating health warnings on all tobacco product packaging and labelling.
- Guidelines for Article 11 of the WHO FCTC recommend that Parties should mandate full colour pictures or pictograms, in their packaging and labelling requirements.
The Government data shows the total economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India for people in the 35-69 age group was more than Rs. 1.4 lakh crore in 2011.
Sources: The Hindu.