Current Affairs - Indian Economy
On 30th August the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance has released an amount of Rs. 13,385.70 crore to 25 States for providing grants to the Rural Local Bodies. This Grant-in-aid is the 1st installment of Tied grants of the year 2021-22.
- The grants have been released as per the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission.
- Tied grants are released to the Rural Local Bodies (RLBs) for improving two critical services namely
- Sanitation and maintenance of open-defecation free (ODF) status, and
- Supply of drinking water, rain water harvesting and water recycling.
On 18th August 2021, Shri Injeti Srinivas, Chairperson, International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA), launched the pilot run/soft launch of the International Bullion Exchange which is scheduled to go live on October 1, 2021 the Foundation Day of IFSCA.
- Following the announcement by Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman in Union Budget 2020-21, the International Financial Services Centres Authority (Bullion Exchange) Regulations, 2020 were notified on December 11, 2020 which inter alia cover the Bullion Exchange, Clearing Corporation, Depository and Vaults.
- Government has also taken steps to notify bullion spot trading and bullion depository receipts with underlying bullion as financial products and bullion related services as financial services.
- The International Bullion Exchange shall be the “Gateway for Bullion Imports into India”, wherein all the bullion imports for domestic consumption shall be channelized through the exchange.
- The exchange ecosystem is expected to bring all the market participants at a common transparent platform for bullion trading and provide an efficient price discovery, assurance in the quality of gold, enable greater integration with other segments of financial markets and help establish India’s position as a dominant trading hub in the World.
- The IFSCA has approved the application by the Holding Company for setting up the International Bullion Exchange through the subsidiary of the holding company, “India International Bullion Exchange IFSC Ltd.”, encompassing the Bullion Exchange and the Bullion Clearing Corporation.
- CDSL-IFSC, a foreign depository has been designated as the Bullion Depository for the Bullion Exchange responsible for managing the Vault Manager.
The Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying (DAHD), Government of India, with a view to provide dedicated focus towards promoting & facilitating investments in the Indian Dairy sector, has setup Dairy Investment Accelerator under its Investment Facilitation Cell.
- This Investment Accelerator is a cross functional team constituted to serve as the interface with investors. It shall provide support across the investment cycle:
- Offering specific inputs for evaluation of investment opportunities
- Addressing queries about application to govt. schemes
- Connecting with strategic partners
- Providing on-ground assistance with state departments & relevant authorities
- The Dairy Investment Accelerator will work with DAHD to organize a series of events with global & local industry participants and one-on-one discussions with the investors to understand their perspectives, facilitate direct interactions with government officials and connects with other players in the industry.
- Dairy Investment Accelerator is also generating awareness among investors about Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development fund (AHIDF). AHIDF is one of the flagship schemes by DAHD, Government of India whereby Rs. 15,000 crore fund has been setup for offering financial support to entrepreneurs, private companies, MSME, Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs), and Section 8 companies. Eligible entities can avail the benefits of the scheme to set up new units or expand existing units in areas of dairy processing & related value addition infrastructure, meat processing & related value addition infrastructure and Animal Feed Plant. The benefits available are:
- 3% interest subvention on loans
- 2-year moratorium with 6-year repayment period
- INR 750 Cr credit guarantee
- The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology has approved additional funding towards clinical studies of India's 'first of its kind' mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine - HGCO19, developed by Pune-based biotechnology company Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd.
- This funding has been awarded under the 'Mission COVID Suraksha- The Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission' by DBT's dedicated Mission Implementation Unit at Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) after multiple rounds of evaluation of all the applications that were submitted in response to the 'Request for Expression of Interest (REOI)' under Mission COVID Suraksha for the 'Development of COVID-19 vaccine candidate(s)'.
- DBT has been hand-holding Gennova's right from the start and has facilitated establishing Gennova's mRNA-based next-generation vaccine manufacturing platform by providing seed funding for the development of HGCO19.
- Gennova, in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, USA, has developed the COVID-19mRNA vaccine – HGCO19.
- HGCO19 has already demonstrated safety, immunogenicity, neutralization antibody activity in the rodent and non-human primate models. The neutralizing antibody response of the vaccine in mice and non-human primates was comparable with the sera from the convalescent patients of COVID-19.
- Gennova has completed two preclinical toxicity studies as per the Drugs and Cosmetics (Ninth Amendment) Rules - 2019, to establish the safety of the vaccine candidate and got regulatory clearance from the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) and office of the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), Government of India, to conduct clinical trials. Gennova has initiated the process to enroll healthy volunteers from the Phase I/II clinical trials.
- mRNA vaccines are considered safe as mRNA is non-infectious, non-integrating in nature, and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms.
- They are highly efficacious because of their inherent capability of being translatable into the protein structure inside the cell cytoplasm.
- Additionally, mRNA vaccines are fully synthetic and do not require a host for growth, e.g., eggs or bacteria. Therefore, they can be quickly manufactured inexpensively under cGMP conditions to ensure their "availability" and "accessibility" for mass vaccination on a sustainable basis.
On 10th March 2021, the Union Cabinet has approved the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi (PMSSN) as a single non-lapsable reserve fund for share of Health from the proceeds of Health and Education Cess levied under Section 136-b of Finance Act, 2007.
Salient Features of the PMSSN
- A non-lapsable reserve fund for Health in the Public Account;
- Proceeds of share of health in the Health and Education Cess will be credited into PMSSN;
- Accruals into the PMSSN will be utilized for the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare namely,
- Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)
- Ayushman Bharat - Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs)
- National Health Mission
- Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY)
- Emergency & disaster preparedness and responses during health emergencies
- Any future programme/scheme that targets to achieve progress towards SDGs and the targets set out in the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017.
- Administration and maintenance of the PMSSN is entrusted to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; and
- In any financial year, the expenditure on such schemes of the MoHFW would be initially incurred from the PMSSN and thereafter, from Gross Budgetary Support (GBS).
- The major benefit will be: enhanced access to universal & affordable health care through availability of earmarked resources, while ensuring that the amount does not lapse at the end of financial year.
- Finance Minister has allocated an amount of Rs. 1220.84 crores for the Department of Fisheries, which is the highest ever annual budgetary support for the Department. This marks a 34% increase over the budget of FY 2020-21. Further, this includes an allocation of Rs. 1000 crores for the flagship scheme of the Department, Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) scheme for FY 2021-21, enhanced by 43% from FY 2020-21.
- Substantial investments will be done for the development of modern fishing harbours and fish landing centres. To start with, 5 major fishing harbours – Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, and Petuaghat – will be developed as hubs of economic activity.
- Further, inland fishing harbours and fish-landing centres will also be developed along the banks of rivers and waterways. Finance Minister has laid emphasis on the development of Inland Fisheries and for the first time in the history of the Fisheries sector, riverine harbours and fish landing centres will be constructed along the banks of rivers and waterways. The riverine fishing harbours and landing centres besides providing the aforementioned benefits will also provide the required thrust towards the organization of the inland fisheries sector which has hitherto been unorganized.
- Technologically advanced deep-sea fishing vessels with modern supporting facilities will also be rolled out for optimally harnessing the potential of EEZ and High Seas, thereby doubling incomes of fishermen and other stakeholders.
- This will also facilitate collectivization and registration of fishermen, fish workers and fish vendors associated with the fishing harbours and landing centres into Fish Farmer Producer Organisations (FFPOs).
- Also, a Multipurpose Seaweed Park will be established in Tamil Nadu. India with a 2.2 million sq. km EEZ area and 0.53 sq km continental shelf has enormous scope for seaweed cultivation and development of indigenous seaweed-based industries comprising of value-added products, nutraceuticals, biofuels, bioplastics, etc. which can substantially contribute to the global markets.
Union Health Minister released the ‘National Non-communicable Disease Monitoring Survey (NNMS)’, the largest comprehensive national Survey on risk factors and health systems preparedness of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
- NNMS was conducted during the period of 2017 – 18.
- The purpose of the survey was to collect reliable baseline data on key indicators (risk factors, select NCDs and health systems response) related to the National NCD monitoring framework and NCD Action Plan.
- This is the first of its kind of a comprehensive survey on NCDs using standardised tools and methods, covering the age groups of 15-69 years, males and females residing in urban and rural areas of the country.
- The survey covered a national sample of 600 primary sampling units from 348 districts in 28 States in collaboration with eleven reputed institutions across the country.
Risk Factors for NCDs: Two in five adults had three or more risk factors for NCDs.
The status of health system in responding to the disease burden is also underscored:
- Use of Tobacco and Alcohol: One in every three adults and more than one-fourth proportion of men used any form of tobacco and consumed alcohol in past 12 months respectively.
- Salt Intake: Average daily intake of salt was 8gms
- Physical Activity: More than two in five adults and one in four adolescents were doing insufficient physical activity.
- Obese: More than one in every four adults and 6.2% adolescents were overweight or obese.
- BP & Blood Glucose: Almost three out of ten adults had raised blood pressure and 9.3% had raised blood glucose.
- To achieve 20% blending by 2025 as well as to meet out the requirement of ethanol production capacity in the country, the Department of Food & Public Distribution has modified earlier scheme & notified the modified scheme for extending financial assistance to project proponents for enhancement of their ethanol distillation capacity or to set up distilleries for producing 1st Generation (1G) ethanol from feed stocks such as cereals (rice, wheat, barley, corn & sorghum), sugarcane, sugar beet etc. or converting molasses based distilleries to dual feedstock.
- Under the scheme , Government would bear interest subvention for five years including one year moratorium against the loan availed by project proponents from banks @ 6% per annum or 50% of the rate of interest charged by banks whichever is lower for setting up of new distilleries or expansion of existing distilleries or converting molasses based distilleries to dual feedstock.
Objective of this Scheme
- To boost agricultural economy
- To reduce dependence on imported fossil fuel
- To save foreign exchange on account of crude oil import bill
- To reduce the air pollution
Benefits of Grain based Distilleries
- Sugarcane and ethanol is produced mainly in three states viz. Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Transporting ethanol to far flung States from these three states involves huge transportation cost.
- By bringing new grain based distilleries in the entire country would result in distributed production of ethanol and would save a lot of transportation cost and thus prevent delays in meeting the blending target & would benefit the farmers across the country.
Targets (Now & Then)
- The Government had fixed target of 10% blending of fuel grade ethanol with petrol by 2022 & 20% blending by 2030.
- Now it has been proposed to prepone the 20% blending of ethanol with petrol by 2025.