1. Food safety Bill withdrawn for more changes

Food safety Bill withdrawn for more changes

The Union Cabinet approved the withdrawal of the Food Safety and Standards (Amendment) Bill, 2014.

By: | New Delhi | Published: November 6, 2014 12:26 AM

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the withdrawal of the Food Safety and Standards (Amendment) Bill, 2014, as introduced in the Rajya Sabha in February, and based on further examination, a fresh set of amendments will be finalised by the Union health and family welfare ministry.

This was decided at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Bill needs to be amended after taking into account the judgements of the Supreme Court, Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, and representations received by the government and other recent developments, an official statement said.

Recently, referring to an observation of the apex court, which suggested that the government should consider bringing in “appropriate amendments” in the Act to ensure crimes such as adulteration of milk and food items are given harsh punishment such as life imprisonment, health minister Harsh Vardhan had told Parliament that his ministry was working on such amendments.

The Cabinet also approved the proposal of the shipping ministry for introducing official amendments to the Merchant Shipping (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013.

The amendments incorporate the recommendations of the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee, and for ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) after enactment of the Bill. There are no financial implications.

By ratifying the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, around 1.25 lakh serving Indian national seafarers may stand to benefit from its conducive provisions, the statement said.

Ships will need to comply with the convention through holding a Maritime Labour Certificate.

Indian flag merchant vessels of 500 gross tonnage or more and engaged in international voyages will be issued a Maritime Labour Certificate after an inspection of the ship. This will enable them to receive preferential treatment and exemption from inspection at foreign ports.

Besides, India will be able to ensure that all foreign-flag vessels entering Indian territorial waters or maritime areas over which India has jurisdiction are subject to an inspection under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and ensure that rights of all seafarers (regardless of their nationality) are protected.  The Cabinet on Wednesday also approved infusion of R5,000 crore in the authorised share capital of the

Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) from the existing level of R1,000 crore.

The increased funding will be contingent on requirement based on level of operation and will not involve any immediate infusion.

During the 12th Five-Year Plan, the Union ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has targeted 30,000 MW from various renewable energy projects out of which IREDA aims to finance projects of of 4,800-MW capacity. A higher level of authorised share capital would facilitate the agency in leveraging higher levels of debt from the market as it needs financial resources to the tune of R14,000 crore to achieve its target.

IREDA, registered as a non-banking financial company with the Reserve Bank of India, has primarily worked with private sector enterprises operating in the power sector. The agency is mandated to facilitate the policies and programmes of the MNRE.

Cabinet nod to revival of 23 co-op banks

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a scheme for reviving 23 unlicensed district central cooperative banks (DCCBs).
Of these banks, 16 are in Uttar Pradesh, three each in Maharashtra  and Jammu and Kashmir, and one in West Bengal. Under the scheme, R2,375.42-crore capital wil be used for reviving the banks.  Of this, the Centre will contribute R673.29 crore, state governments R1,464.59 crore, and NABARD R237.54 crore.

The Centre’s share will be released through NABARD as interest-free loan and then converted into grant on fulfilment of targets that include bringing the NPAs to at least half of the present levels by FY 17 and achieving a 15% growth rate for deposits during the next two years.
Revival of DCCBs will help protect the interests of depositors and cater to the credit needs of farmers. Once revived, these cooperative banks will become eligible for obtaining licences from the RBI for continuing their operations in rural areas.

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