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- President Ram Nath Kovind has conferred Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards on five Members of Parliament. The recipients are Dr Najma Heptulla (selected for the year 2013), Hukumdev Narayan Yadav (2014), Ghulam Nabi Azad (2015), Dinesh Trivedi (2016) and Bhartruhari Mahatab (2017). The award was established in 1992 by Shivraj Patil who was then Speaker of Lok Sabha with an aim to motivate elected representatives to work better.
- Union Cabinet has approved first extension of Concessional Financing Scheme (CFS) for another five years from 2018 to 2023 to support Indian Entities bidding for strategically important infrastructure projects abroad. The scheme also has been liberalized, allowing any Indian company, irrespective of ownership eligible to benefits of it. The strategic importance of project to deserve financing is decided on case to case basis, by Committee chaired by Secretary, DEA and with members from Department of Expenditure and Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance; MEA; Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Home Affairs. The Scheme is presently being operated through EXIM (Export-Import) Bank, which raises resources from market to provide concessional finance.
- Union Ministry of Culture launched a new scheme called Seva Bhoj Yojna to provide financial assistance on purchase of specific food items by Charitable Religious Institutions (CRIs) for free distribution among people. Under this scheme, Centre’s share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Interstate GST charged on raw food materials purchased by the religious institutions will be refunded. The scheme aims to reimburse Central Government share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) to lessen financial burden of religious and charitable institutions.
- Union Cabinet has approved policy framework to permit exploration and exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbons such as Shale oil/gas, Coal Bed Methane (CBM) etc. It will be carried out under existing Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs), CBM contracts and Nomination fields to encourage existing contractors in licensed or leased area to unlock full potential of unconventional hydrocarbons in existing acreages. With this policy, there will be complete shift from One hydrocarbon Resource Type to Uniform Licensing Policy which is presently applicable in Discovered Small Field (DSF) Policy and Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP).
- Lok Sabha has passed Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2018. It replaces the ordinance promulgated by President in May 2018 and amends Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015. The Act enables creation of commercial divisions in High Courts and commercial courts at district level to adjudicate commercial disputes such as disputes related to contracts for provision of goods and services and construction contracts. The amendment is aimed at improving ease of doing business in India.
- Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under Ministry of Commerce and Industry has unveiled tricolour logo for geographical indication (GI) certified products. The logo has tagline “Invaluable Treasures of Incredible India” printed below it. The purpose of logo and tagline for GI selected is to increase awareness about intellectual property rights (IPRs) and also and importance of GI products in the country. GI tag is name or sign used on certain products which correspond to specific geographical location or origin. It is used for agricultural, natural and manufactured goods having special quality and established reputation.
- The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for restructuring of Agricultural Scientists ‘Recruitment Board (ASRB). The ASRB will now be a 4 member body instead of 3 members. It will have a Chairperson and 3 Members. ASRB’s Chairperson would serve for a period of three years or till attainment of 65 years of age, whichever is earlier. For the purpose of autonomy, secrecy, accountability and efficient functioning, ASRB shall be delinked from ICAR and will be attached with Department of Agricultural Research & Education (DARE).
- The Union Cabinet approved raising funds up to Rs 15000 crore as Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) for Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) (SBM (G)) during the financial year 2018-19 through NABARD. The cabinet also approved expansion of the scope of work of International Centre for Drinking Water Quality to authorise it for receiving EBR funds for SBM (G). The cabinet also approved renaming of International Centre for Drinking Water Quality to “National Centre for Drinking Water, Sanitation and Quality”. This decision will benefit around 1.5 crore rural households eligible for incentive under Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin).
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