Current Affairs - Plan Policy

REC Limited Issues Inaugural Yen Denominated Green Bonds

REC Limited (formerly Rural Electrification Corporation Limited), a Maharatna Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Power, has successfully entered the Japanese Yen (JPY) market with the issuance of its inaugural Green Bonds totaling JPY 61.1 billion.

  • This marks a significant milestone as the first Yen Green Bonds issued by any Indian Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) and stands as the largest Yen-denominated issuance from India.

Key Points

  • Green Finance Framework: The bonds, issued under REC Limited's US$ 10 billion Global Medium Term Notes Programme, will fund Eligible Green Projects following the company's Green Finance Framework and regulatory guidelines.
  • Yield Rates: The bonds include 5-year, 5.25-year, and 10-year tenures with respective yield rates of 1.76%, 1.79%, and 2.20%.
  • Historic Milestones: This issuance marks REC Limited's eleventh venture into the international bond market and the largest ever Euro-Yen issuance in South and South East Asia.
  • Global Recognition: The transaction witnessed substantial interest from both Japanese and international accounts, with orders evenly distributed, reflecting one of the highest international allocations for an Indian Yen deal.

Rating and Listing

  • Credit Ratings: The notes carry credit ratings of Baa3/BBB–/BBB+ by Moody's, Fitch, and JCR, respectively.
  • Listing Platforms: The bonds will be exclusively listed on the Global Securities Market of India International Exchange (India INX) and NSE IFSC in GIFT City, Gujarat.

About REC Limited

  • Government Affiliation: REC Limited is a 'Maharatna' company under the Ministry of Power, Government of India.
  • Financial Registrations: Registered with RBI as a Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC), Public Financial Institution (PFI), and Infrastructure Financing Company (IFC).
  • Sectoral Focus: REC finances the entire power-infrastructure sector and has diversified into non-power infrastructure projects.
  • Strategic Role: REC Limited plays a key role in flagship government schemes for the power sector, including SAUBHAGAYA, DDUGJY, NEF Scheme, and RDSS.

India's Electronics Exports to US Surpassed $6.6 Billion

India's electronics exports to the United States have surged over 200% year-on-year to reach an unprecedented $6.6 billion during the first nine months of 2023, marking a significant milestone, according to the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA).

Key Points

  • Record-Breaking Growth: India's electronics exports to the US witnessed an extraordinary growth of approximately 253%, reaching an estimated $6.6 billion in Jan-Sep 2023, compared to $2.6 billion in the same period last year.
  • Continuous Upward Trend: ICEA data indicates a consistent upward trajectory in India's electronics exports, surpassing $4.5 billion in 2022 from an estimated $1.3 billion in 2018, showcasing a growth of over 300%.
  • Impressive Bilateral Trade: Bilateral electronics trade between India and the US showed a remarkable increase of 84%, reaching an estimated $9 billion in Jan-Sep 2023, compared to $4.9 billion in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year.
  • Indo-US Task Force: In August 2023, ICEA launched the Indo-US Task Force for Electronics, aiming to elevate bilateral electronics trade from $8.4 billion to an ambitious target of $100 billion within a decade.
  • China's Decreasing Share: The share of electronics imported from China into the US dropped from an estimated 46% in 2018 to 24% in Jan-Sep 2023, reflecting a strategic diversification of supply chains by the US.
  • Rise of Vietnam and Taiwan: Vietnam and Taiwan experienced significant growth in electronics exports to the US, soaring by 420% and 239%, respectively, from 2018 to 2022.
  • Geopolitical Impact: The notable surge in India's electronics exports underscores the potential of the strategic partnership between India and the US to influence global electronics trade. The focus on smartphone exports is particularly promising, with the potential for a 5x growth in the next 3-5 years.

Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2024 Secures MoUs for 41,299 Projects

The tenth edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2024 recently witnessed the signing of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for an impressive 41,299 projects, totalling Rs 26.33 lakh crore in investments.

Key Points

  • Focus on Emerging Sectors: A majority of the MoUs were inked in emerging sectors, including semi-conductors, e-mobility, green hydrogen, and renewable energy, reflecting a strategic shift in investment focus.
  • Global Participation: The three-day summit, which concluded with 61,000 delegates from 140 countries, saw the participation of 35 partner countries and a total of 1.32 lakh registrations.
  • Platform for Ideas and Innovations: Union Home Minister highlighted the Vibrant Gujarat Summit as a crucial platform for ideas, innovations, and attracting investments, emphasizing its positive impact not only on Gujarat but the entire country's economy.
  • Positive Outlook: The summit's success signifies its vital role in fostering economic growth, bringing together global and domestic investors, and contributing to the overall development of Gujarat and the nation.

Government Distributes 1.25 Crore Property Cards under SVAMITVA Scheme

Recently, the government announced that it has distributed 1.25 crore property cards under the SVAMITVA Scheme.

Key Points

  • Land Ownership Distribution: Prime Minister personally handed 35 lakh property cards on National Panchayati Raj Day.
  • Drone Coverage and Recognition: Drone operations covered 2.89 lakh villages under the SVAMITVA Scheme, as reported by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • Recognition and Awards: 42 panchayats were honoured for their outstanding performance.
  • Training Initiative: Over 18 lakh participants received training under the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA) this year.
  • Citizen Charter Uploads: 21,5,628 Gram Panchayats uploaded their Citizen Charters after approval, marking a significant accomplishment for the year.

SVAMITVA Scheme Overview: SVAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.

  • Collaboration across each state involves the Revenue Department/Land Records Department, State Panchayati Raj Department, and the Nodal Ministry.
  • Objectives: The primary aim is to provide an integrated property validation solution specifically designed for rural India.
  • Issuance of SVAMITVA Property Cards: Government authorities distribute SVAMITVA Property cards to landowners as part of the scheme.
  • Demarcation Technology: Advanced technologies like Drone Surveying and Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) will be employed for demarcating rural areas.
  • Empowering Property Owners: The initiative enables property owners to have legal documentation (SVAMITVA Property cards) for their houses in inhabited areas.
  • Phased Mapping Process: Mapping of areas using drone technology will be carried out gradually in all villages.

Rajya Sabha Passes Amendment Bill for GST Appellate Tribunal

On 21st Dec, the Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023 received approval from the Rajya Sabha, introducing changes to the GST Appellate Tribunal Chairman's upper age limit and eligibility criteria for members.

Key Points

  • Retirement Age: The bill extends the GST Appellate Tribunal Chairman's retirement age from 65 to 67 years. Additionally, advocates with a decade of experience can now qualify as members, provided they have substantial experience in indirect tax litigation.
  • Advocate Eligibility Criteria: Advocates seeking membership must demonstrate ten years of practice, specifically in matters related to indirect taxes within the Appellate Tribunal.
  • Council Approval and Notification: The GST council, in its 52nd meeting on October 7, endorsed the proposed amendments. Following the central government's notification of 31 GST Appellate Tribunal benches on September 15, the eligibility criteria for advocates were clarified.
  • Detailed Rules and Salary Structure: In October, the Centre outlined detailed rules for appointing and servicing the president and members of the GST Appellate Tribunal.
  • Monthly Pension: The bill stipulates a monthly salary of Rs 2.25 lakh, with deductions for pension recipients. Members and presidents are entitled to allowances and benefits commensurate with Group 'A' government officers.
  • Ethical Obligations: The rules mandate the declaration of assets, liabilities, and interests by members and presidents before assuming office.
  • It further requires resignation or voluntary retirement before joining the Tribunal, with a prohibition on undertaking arbitration assignments while in office.

Ministry of Mines Organizes Roadshow for First Tranche of Critical Mineral Auction

The Ministry of Mines organized a roadshow on December 19, 2023, to gear up for the success of the first tranche of the auction of Critical and Strategic Minerals.

Key Points

  • Auction Details: A total of 20 critical and strategic mineral blocks will be auctioned, encompassing minerals like Graphite, Glauconite, Lithium, REE, Molybdenum, Nickel, and Potash.
  • These blocks are spread across several states, including Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, and Union Territory Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Roadshow Objectives: The roadshow aimed to guide potential bidders through the auction process. Officials and experts presented details on critical minerals, auction processes, and technical aspects. The presentations covered eligibility conditions, guidelines, and bidding parameters.
  • National Geoscience Data Repository (NGDR) Portal: The NGDR, a part of the National Mineral Exploration Policy 2016, hosts geoscientific data to expedite exploration coverage.
  • It offers centralized access, user-friendly interface, analytical tools, and open access to support mineral exploration.
  • Global Access to Geoscience Data: The NGDR portal, with 35 map services, enables global access to geological, geochemical, and geophysical data. Users can view, download, and interpret data, enhancing the investment attractiveness of India's mining sector.
  • Development of NGDR: Conceptualized by the Ministry of Mines, the NGDR initiative is led by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N).
  • It aims to increase transparency, knowledge sharing, and global investment in India's mining sector.

National Startup Advisory Council (NSAC) Reconstituted

On 18th Dec, the government, nominated 31 non-official members, including Abhiraj Singh Bhal from Urban Company and Kunal Bahl from Snapdeal, in the reconstituted National Startup Advisory Council (NSAC).

Key Points

  • Establishment and Purpose of NSAC: The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) created the NSAC in January 2020 to provide advice to the government on measures essential for building a robust ecosystem supporting innovation and startups in India.
  • Two-Year Term for Non-Official Members: Non-official members of the council, including founders of successful startups, industry veterans, and investor representatives, are nominated for a two-year term, according to the Department.
  • Representation of Diverse Stakeholders: The Centre nominates non-official members representing various stakeholders, ensuring inclusion of successful startup founders, individuals with experience in growing and scaling companies in India, representatives capable of voicing investor interests, and association representatives.
  • NSAC's Role in Fostering Innovation: The reconstitution of NSAC precedes its eighth meeting, scheduled for Tuesday. The council convenes regularly to propose measures fostering a culture of innovation among citizens and promoting innovation in the startup ecosystem.
  • Diverse Nominees Reflecting Expertise: The nominated non-official members include individuals with diverse expertise, such as Professor Amitabha Bandyopadhyay from IIT Kanpur, Karthik Reddy from the Indian Venture and Alternate Capital Association, Professor Yogesh Singh from the University of Delhi, Nithin Kamath from Zerodha, Nivruti Rai from Invest India, and presidents of industry chambers like CII.

Stakeholder Consultation on Safety Pledge for E-commerce Platforms

On 16th Nov, the Department of Consumer Affairs organized a stakeholder consultation to develop a 'Safety Pledge' for e-commerce platforms, with the goal of ensuring the sale of goods that meet safety standards on all platforms operating in India.

Key Points

  • Pledge Objective: The Safety Pledge aims to elevate the standards of goods available on e-commerce platforms, emphasizing safety for consumers and requiring platforms to take measures preventing the sale of unsafe products.
  • Broad Principles of Pledge:
    • Commitment to Prevent Unsafe Goods: The pledge includes a commitment to prevent the sale of unsafe goods through proactive measures.
    • Awareness Building: Platforms are expected to increase awareness among consumers and sellers regarding the importance of product safety.
    • Cooperation with Regulators: E-commerce platforms are encouraged to cooperate with regulators to ensure the effectiveness of safety measures.
  • Committee Formation: A committee has been formed to prepare the pledge, comprising major e-commerce platforms, industry associations, National Law Universities, and voluntary consumer associations.
  • Consumer Protection Act, 2019: The meeting highlighted the significance of consumer safety under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, including the right to be protected against hazardous goods. The Act empowers consumer commissions to direct entities not to offer unsafe goods for sale.
  • International Collaboration: The Department collaborates with the European Commission to adopt international best practices in preventing the sale of unsafe goods on online platforms.
  • Voluntary Commitment: The Safety Pledge is a voluntary commitment by online platforms to enhance consumer protection from the risks associated with purchasing unsafe products online.
  • Proposed Principles of the Safety Pledge:
    • Detection and Prevention: Platforms commit to detecting and preventing the sale of unsafe products.
    • Cooperation with Authorities: Cooperation with statutory authorities responsible for product safety is emphasized.
    • Consumer Awareness: Platforms aim to raise consumer awareness about product safety among third-party sellers and empower consumers on safety issues.

India's Wholesale Price Index (WPI) Records 0.52% YoY Decline in October

India's wholesale price index (WPI) marked its seventh consecutive month in negative territory, with a 0.52% decline in October compared to the same period last year. This follows a 0.26% decline in wholesale inflation in September.

Key Points

  • Decline in October: Fuel and power prices saw a 2.47% year-on-year decrease, a slight improvement from the 3.35% drop in September.
  • Increase in October: Primary article prices increased by 1.82%, in contrast to the 3.70% rise observed in the previous month.
  • Slight Dip in October: Food prices rose by 1.07% year-on-year, slightly down from the 1.54% increase in September.
  • October Decline: Manufactured product prices decreased by 1.13%, compared to a 1.34% fall in September.
  • These figures align with recent retail inflation data, revealing a four-month low in October, bringing it closer to the Reserve Bank of India's 4% target.
  • RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das expressed concerns about potential risks from volatile food prices, highlighting India's susceptibility to recurrent and overlapping food price shocks despite recent inflation moderation.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs Launches AAINA Dashboard for Cities

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has officially launched the 'AAINA Dashboard for Cities' portal, www.aaina.gov.in, on November 13, 2023.

  • This platform invites Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) nationwide to actively participate in a pioneering initiative by voluntarily submitting their crucial data regularly through a user-friendly data entry form on the portal.

Key Points

  • Objectives of AAINA Dashboard:

The AAINA Dashboard aims to help cities:

    • Evaluate their performance relative to other cities.
    • Find inspiration by highlighting possibilities and areas for improvement.
    • Foster learning and engagement with frontrunners.
  • Comparative Analysis without Ranking: The dashboard will not rank ULBs but will facilitate the comparison of similarly placed cities, promoting peer learning.
  • Pillars for Data Presentation: Data submitted by ULBs will be presented across five pillars:
    • Political & Administrative Structure
    • Finance
    • Planning
    • Citizen Centric Governance
    • Delivery of Basic Services
  • Data Submission Process: ULBs will submit audited accounts and self-reported performance metrics through the dashboard's portal. Updates can be made as needed, ensuring flexibility.
  • Permanent Platform for ULB Data: Envisioned as a permanent platform, the AAINA Dashboard will be regularly updated, creating a robust database accessible to all stakeholders. Once populated, it will be made available for public viewing.
  • Support from Digital India Corporation: The Ministry, through Digital India Corporation, will provide necessary support to ULBs and states during the data submission process as required.
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