From giving its approval for the purchase of Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines to putting a ban on red beacons for VIPs, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved several decisions. We take a look at some decisions that the Cabinet took:
1) No red beacons for VIPs: The Union Cabinet decided to do away with red beacons atop officials cars, announcing that only three categories would be allowed to use it – the President, Vice President and Chief Justice of India. Beacons, however, will be allowed on vehicles concerned with emergency and relief services, ambulance, fire service etc. In the light of this decision, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways will make necessary provisions in the law.
2) Purchase of Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines: Cabinet also cleared Election Commission’s proposal of buying new Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines. The cabinet has so far cleared Rs 1,009 crore and Rs 9,200 for the Election Commission to buy new EVM machines but the Commission had sent 11 reminders to the government seeking funds for VVPAT machines.
3) Encashment of accumulated leave to certain Defence Services Personnel: CCEA also approved leave encashment up to 180 days in respect of that Defence personnel who died or were invalidated out of service between 30.12.1991 to 29.11.1999 with less than 15 years of service. The decision will benefit the families of 9777 Officers and other personnel of Defence Services who died or were invalidated out of service during this period. This period is very significant as a large number of casualties took place during the Kargil conflict (“Operation Vijay”) and in counter-insurgency operation in J&K and North East during the period.
4) External assistance by State Government entities: CCEA also approved permission to state Government entities for availing extension assistance from bilateral agencies for vital infra projects. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), a State Government entity, has also been allowed to borrow directly from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan for implementation of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project. The estimated project cost for Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL) is Rs.17,854 crore, out of which JICA loan portion is expected to be Rs 15,109 crore.
The guidelines will facilitate the State Government entities to directly borrow from the external bilateral funding agencies subject to fulfilment of certain conditions and all repayments of loans and interests to the funding agencies will be directly remitted by the concerned borrower. The concerned State Government will furnish guarantee for the Loan. The Government of India will provide counter guarantee for the loan.
5) Signing of the Protocol amending the Convention between India and Portugal: The Cabinet also for signing of a Protocol amending the Convention between India and Portugal for the avoidance of double taxation. The Protocol will also ensure prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. Once the Protocol enters into force, both India and Portugal would be able to exchange tax-related information, which will help tax authorities of both countries to curb tax evasion.
6) Extension of the validity of Central Order in respect of sugar for six months: The cabinet also gave its nod for extending the validity of the existing Central Order dated 27.10.2016 in respect of sugar for a further period of six months from 29.04.2017 to 28.10.2017. The main objective of the decision is to enable the State Governments to issue control order with the prior concurrence of Central Government, for fixing stock limits/licensing requirements in respect of sugar, whenever the need is felt by them. This is expected to help in the efforts being taken to improve the availability of these commodities to the general public at reasonable rates and control the tendencies of hoarding and profiteering.
7) The Cabinet also gave (I) Ex-post facto approval for introduction of (i) Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill 2017 and (ii) National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament; and (II) Approval for retention of posts/incumbents and office premises held by the existing National Commission for Backward Classes by the proposed new National Commission for Backward classes.