1. Railway Budget 2016-17: Highlights
1. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on 25 February 2016 presented the Railway Budget 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha. In his second Rail Budget, Prabhu outlined a capital plan of 121000 crore rupees in 2016-17.
2. A saving of 8720 crore rupees for Budget estimates of 2015-16 will be effected in 2016.
3. Theme of the Budget is Overcoming challenges – Reorganize, Restructure Rejuvenate Indian Railways: ‘Chalo, Milkar Kuch Naya Karen’.
4. Railway Budget of 2016-17 is based on three pillars and they are Nav Arjan (New Revenues), Nav Manak (New Norms) and New Sanrachna (New Structures).
Nav Arjan (New Revenues)
It exploits new sources of revenue so that every asset, tangible or non-tangible gets optimally monetized.
New Manak (New Norms)
A Zero Budgeting approach to the financials of the ensuring year, improvement in efficiency yardsticks and procurement practices to bring them in line with international best practices
Nav Sanrachna (New Structures)
Need to re-imagine the conventional ways of solving issues like co-operation, collaboration and communication, creativity and communication to the hallmark of decision-making and actions.
5. Major Highlights
• Wants to double investment in Railways
• Delay in running of 95% trains will be ended by 2020
• Rail tickets will be available at all places by 2020
• Aimed at increasing speed of passenger train by 80km/hr
• LIC has agreed to invest 1.5 lakh crore rupees over 5 years on extremely favourable terms
• Dedicated freight corridor project gaining momentum. New freight corridors announced: Delhi-Chennai, Kharagpur-Mumbai, Kharagpur-Vijayawada.
• Poised to commission broad gauge lines at the rate of 7 km per day against 4.5 km over last five years
• Plan to generate 9 crore man-days employment by 2017-18 and 14 crore man-days by 2018-19
• Institutional financing will be introduced for funding projects
• Action of 139 Budget announcements on 2015-16 has been initiated
• Aimed at eliminating unmanned level crossings by 2020
• Aimed at generating revenues of order of 184820 crore rupees in 2016, which is 10.1 percent higher than revised target of 2015
• North-East India, especially Mizoram and Manipur, to be connected through broad gauge soon
• To commission 2800 km of new tracks in 2016-17
• Bids for setting up 2 locomotive factories was finalised and the new factories will be set up with an order book of 40000 crore rupees.
2. Union Cabinet approved Promotion of Payments through Cards and Digital means
1. Union Government approved introduction of steps for promotion of payments through cards and digital means. The move aims at reducing cash transactions.
2. Under the move no surcharge, service charge, convenience fee will be levied on card and digital payment. Steps will be taken for payments beyond a prescribed threshold mandatory through cards or digital mode.
3. As per the decision, several short term (to be implemented within one year) and medium term (one year to two years) by the Government Ministries/ Departments/ Organisations.
4. Major highlights of promotion of payments through cards and digital means
• It will be instrumental in reducing tax avoidance, migration of Government payments and collections to cashless mode
• It will discourage transactions in cash by providing access to financial payment services to the citizens to conduct transactions through card/digital means
• It will help in shifting payment ecosystem from cash dominated to non-cash/less cash payments
3. Union Cabinet approved $150 million Credit to Iran for Chabahar Port Development
1. Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 February 2016 approved the proposal for loan of 150 million US Dollars to Iran for the development of Chabahar Port.The credit will be provided from EXIM Bank and was made by Union Ministry of Shipping.
2. The Cabinet authorized the Ministers of Finance, External Affairs and Shipping to approve the final contract with Iran and for resolution of any issue arising in implementation of the project.
3. It also authorized the Union Ministry of Shipping to form a Company in Iran for implementing the Chabahar Port Development Project and related activities.
4. As per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Iran on 6 May 2015, India on a ten year lease will equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of 85.21 million US dollars and annual revenue expenditure of 22.95 million US dollars.
5. The Iranian side had appealed for provision of a credit of 150 million US dollars in accordance with the MoU. Post signing of the contract, the operation of two berths would commence within a period of maximum 18 months.
4. Union Cabinet approved India-Maldives Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation of Income from International Air Transport
1. Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 February 2016 gave approval to sign an agreement between India and Maldives for the avoidance of double taxation of income from international air transport.
2. Features of the Agreement
• It will provide tax certainty for airline enterprises of India and Maldives.
• It provides for relief from double taxation for airline enterprises of both the countries way of exemption of income derived by the enterprise of India from the operation of aircraft in international traffic, from Maldivian tax and vice-versa.
• The country, to which the product or enterprise belongs to, will impose the tax on the profits from the operation of aircraft in international traffic.
• Mutual Agreement Procedure is also provided to resolve difficulties or doubts which arise during the interpretation or application of the Agreement.
5. Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee sworn-in as Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court
1. Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee has sworn-in as the 28th Chief Justice of the High Court of Karnataka. He was administered oath to the office as per provision of Article 219 of Constitution by the Governor Vajubhai R. Vala in a ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan, Bengaluru. Prior to this appointment, he was officiating as Acting Chief Justice of High Court of Karnataka since June 2015.
6. Union Cabinet approves establishment of Atal Innovation Mission and SETU in NITI Aayog
1. The Union Cabinet as given its approval for establishment of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Self Employment and Talent Utilisation (SETU) in NITI Aayog. This move seeks to give substantial boost to the innovation ecosystem and to catalyse the entrepreneurial spirit in the country.
2. AIM and AIM Directorate will be established that will help in implementation of mission activities in a focussed manner. Its headquarters will be in New Delhi. Its headquarters will be in New Delhi. NITI Aayog will hire Mission Director and other appropriate manpower. Mission High Level Committee (MHLC) will guide the Mission. It will take all decisions related to approval of requisite guidelines and implementation of various elements of AIM and SETU.
7. Yes Bank wins inaugural Green Bond Award in UK
1. India’s leading private lender Yes Bank has been awarded inaugural Green Bond Pioneer Award at a ceremony held in London, United Kingdom. Yes Bank was bestowed with this award in recognition for its pioneering efforts in the Green Bonds market including successful issuance of India’s first ever Green Infrastructure Bonds.
2. Yes Bank was the first Indian Bank to issue Green Infrastructure Bonds (GIBs) in India. It had issued India’s first-ever GIBs worth 1,000 crore rupees in 2015. Proceeds from these green bonds will be used to fund Renewable Energy projects including solar power and wind power projects
8. Yoichiro Ueno appointed as President and CEO of Honda cars India
1. Yoichiro Ueno has been appointed as new President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Honda Cars India by its parent Honda Motor Company. He will succeed Katsushi Inoue who was elevated to the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the company for Regional Operations (Europe region). Prior to this appointment, Yoichiro Ueno was the CEO and Managing Director (MD) of Honda Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. since January 2011. 2. Previously he had served as the Assistant Vice President of Automobile Sales of American Honda Motor Co. Inc. Ueno has of rich experience in the automobile industry and was associated with Honda Motor Co., Ltd. for over 30 years. He had worked with the company in markets outside Japan like New Zealand and Thailand. He also had worked with overseas division and countries such as Asia and Oceania, China and North America.
9. Aryabhatta award for Avinash Chander
1. Avinash Chander, former Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Director General of the DRDO, has been conferred with the Aryabhata Award of the Astronautical Society of India.
2. The award was presented to Avinash Chander by R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to Govt. of India and A S Kiran Kumar, Chairman ISRO during the ASI-ISRO Awards function held at Space Applications Centre (SAC).
3. The Aryabhata Award, named after the fifth century Indian Astronomer and Mathematician and also in commemoration of the first Indian Satellite, Aryabhata, launched on April 19, 1975, is presented annually to an individual for outstanding lifetime contribution to the promotion of astronautics in India. The award consists of a citation and Rs 1,00,000/- in cash.