PIB – 17th Dec 2020

Cabinet approves MoU between India and USA for exchange of information in areas of mutual interest in the electricity sector

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for Central Electricity Regulatory Commission’s proposal for entering into a Memorandum of Understanding between Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), India and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), United States of America (USA) for exchange of information and experiences in areas of mutual interest to both in the electricity sectors.
  • The MoU will help in improving regulatory and policy framework for developing efficient wholesale power markets and enhancing grid reliability. 
  • The activities to be carried out under the MoU include the following:         
  1. Identify energy-related issues and develop topics and possible agendas for the exchange of information and regulatory practices in areas of mutual interest;
  2. Organize visits by Commissioners and/or staff to participate in activities at each other’s facilities;
  3. Participate in seminars, visit, and exchanges;
  4. Develop programs of mutual interests and where appropriate hold these programs locally to enhance participation;
  5. When practical and of mutual interest, provide speakers on energy issues and other personnel (management or technical).

Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (Ions) working group meeting on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief

  • The 5th meeting of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Working Group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) is being coordinated by Indian Navy being the Chair of the IONS Working Group on HADR. The meeting will be attended by Australia, Bangladesh, France, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Maldives, Oman and Thailand besides India.
  • The IONS is a voluntary and inclusive initiative that brings together navies of Indian Ocean Region littoral states to increase maritime co-operation and enhance regional security. 
  • A co-operative forum for discussion on regional maritime issues, it also serves to develop an effective response mechanism against natural disasters. 
  • Instituted in 2008, the IONS initiative has grown significantly and presently enjoys wide acceptance across the Indian Ocean Region.
  • In the past few years, three IONS Working Groups (IWG) have been progressing work in the fields of Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief (HADR), Maritime Security & Information Sharing and Inter-operability.

Deadline for States to implement citizen centric reforms extended till 15th February 2021

  • The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, has extended the deadline for the States to complete citizen centric reforms in various sectors. Now, if the recommendation from the nodal Ministry concerned regarding implementation of the reform is received by 15th February, 2021, the State will be eligible for reform linked benefits.
  1. The Government of India has identified four critical areas for reforms by the States: 
  2. Implementation of One Nation One Ration Card System,
  3. Ease of doing business reform,
  4. Urban Local body/ utility reforms and
  5. Power Sector reforms.
  • States successfully completing the reforms are eligible to get two benefits. Such States get the facility of additional borrowing equivalent to 0.25 percent of their Gross States Domestic Product (GSDP) for completing each reform. Under this facility, additional borrowings of up to Rs.2.14 lakh crore is available to the States on completion of all the four reforms.
  • In view of the resource requirement to meet the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of India had decided in May, 2020 to raise the borrowing limit of the States by 2 percent of their GSDP. This was aimed at enabling the States to mobilise additional financial resources of up to Rs.4.27 lakh crore. 
  • Half of this special dispensation was linked to reforms. The purpose was to motivate the States to carry out reforms in various citizen centric areas.
  • The second benefit available to the States completing three out of the four reforms is additional funds assistance under the “Scheme for Financial Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure”. Under the scheme, an amount of Rs.2,000 crore is earmarked for the States that will complete at least three out of the four stipulated reforms.
  • The scheme was announced by the Finance Minister on 12th October, 2020 as part of AatmaNirbhar Bharat Package 2.0. It is aimed at boosting capital expenditure by State Governments who are facing a difficult financial environment this year due to the shortfall in tax revenue arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • A total amount of Rs.12,000 crore has been earmarked by the Government of India under this scheme. Capital Expenditure has a higher multiplier effect, enhancing the future productive capacity of the economy, and results in a higher rate of economic growth.