REFORMS UNDERTAKEN IN 2012-13 AND 2013-14
Article Recommended by Digvijaya Singh
UPA 2- Reforms
THE ECONOMY AND DEVELOPMENT
- Banking Laws Amendment Bill passed - cap on voting raised.
- Subsidy reform begins with reform of fuel subsidies
- Petrol deregulated fully
- LPG subsidy capped at 6 (later 9) cylinders
- Diesel price being corrected gradually to market rate; bulk consumers to get diesel at market rate
- Subsidy reform - DBT system will gradually control fraud and diversion through better targeting. LPG Subsidy through DBT rolled out. 1 million transactions in 20 days. To be rolled out by end of financial across half the country covering 70 million consumers.
- Legislative action:
- Procurement Law in place to bring in greater transparency in govt. procurement
- Pension Bill (PFRDA) passed by Parliament
- New modem Company Law passed by Parliament.
- Insurance Bill approved by Cabinet and passed by Parliament
- Land Acquisition Law passed by parliament
- Financial Inclusion has crossed 50% & being pushed on priority using multiple delivery/ access channels (faunal banking, mobile, micro-ATMs)
- Bank licenses - RBI finalises policy on new licenses, to be issued by January 2014.
- Taxation reform :
- GAAR - greater clarity in rules; introduction postponed by 2 years.
- IT sector taxation — Safe Harbour rules published
- Profit Split method not to be preferred method for taxing development centres — revised notifications issued.
- Tax Administration Reform Commission has been set up to bring tax practices in line with the best in the world.
- Investment revival:
- Public sector investment fast tracked.
- 12th Plan lays down an ambitious investment target
- CCI has fast-tracked clearances; Projects worth $ 30 billion cleared
- Investment Tracking System is tracking projects of Rs 1000 crores and above for delays.
- Project Monitoring Group set up in Cabinet Secretariat to monitor and shepherd big ticket projects — public and private.
- FDI Policy:
- Entire FDI policy revamped to reduce conditions, simplify procedures
- FDI liberalised in Single Brand retailing (100%) with simpler conditions
- FDI in Multi-brand retailing allowed
- FDI allowed in Civil aviation and power trading exchanges.
- 100% FDI allowed in telecom
- FDI in brownfield and greenfield pharma - greater clarity brought in
- Capital Markets:
- SEBI has relaxed TER sub-limits removed, QFI investments simplified, TER taken out of service tax, RGESS has been simplified.
- Infrastructure Debt Funds — approved
- Inflation Indexed Bonds brought in
- Forward market regulator (FMC) brought under Finance Ministry to improve convergence and coordination.
- Trade facilitation: Customs operations at major ports & airports now 24x7
- Direct Benefits Transfers (DBT) - biggest reforms in the way we deliver benefits and subsidies underway. Now expanded to 121 districts - 20% of the country, over 20 crore people live here.
- Disinvestment - has been accelerated since September 2012.
- Sugar has been fully decontrolled, removing non levy release mechanism and the obligation of levy on sugar mills (while continuing to be available through PDS).
- Industrial Corridors being developed:
- Delhi — Mumbai — implementation is going on. Projects to bring in over Rs 120,000 crores of potential investment cleared.
- Chennai — Benguluru
- Amritsar — Delhi - Kolkata
- Corrected fares for the first time in a decade.
- Rail Tariff Authority approved and to be set up soon.
- Dedicated Freight Corridor - First tender for construction has been awarded in Eastern DFC. Rest going ahead smoothly.
- New loco projects in PPP mode have been tendered, process going on.
- Committee set up to prioritise and identify financing mechanisms for removing backlog of sanctioned projects of Rs 200,000 crores.
- P & NG
- Gas pricing issues resolved and a market linked formula announced; movement to market pricing in the next phase.
- New Production Sharing Contracts designed and will come into place for next round of NELP.
- Old NELP blocks stuck for clearances have been cleared.
- Shale Gas policy (draft) published.
- Ports and Civil Aviation
- Ports have awarded a record number of new PPP projects in 2012-13
- Two new major ports approved in principle (Durgarajapatnam & Sagar) — first major ports approved in 20 years.
- PPP in airport operations being brought in for AA1 airports
- Navi Mumbai and Goa to have new airport projects.
- 50 new low cost airports being taken up this year.
- 8 New PPP airports in the pipeline including at Pune, Navi Mumbai, Juhu.
- 1st ever National Aviation University being set up.
- National Civil Aviation Authority approved.
- ATF sale at airports has been liberalized and made competitive
- IT & Telecom:
- Greater clarity on telecom spectrum matters. Auction of spectrum is now basis for all allocations.
- Two new semiconductor FABs approved.
- Triad of policies finalised - Telecom, IT and Electronics
- Inland Waterways: being improved to become a major transportation alternative – NW1 and NW2 (Ganga and Brahmaputra) have taken off.
- Roads — many changes to improve concessionaires' financial position
- Equity takeout for ongoing projects permitted
- Financial powers delegated
- National Manufacturing Policy has been operationalised and NMZs have been notified in many locations.
- A scheme for financial restructuring of Discoms notified by the central government — important state utilities (Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, UP, Haryana) included in the scheme; Bihar, Jharkhand likely to be added.
- Most state utilities have revised their power tariffs in the last two years.
- To help solve the problem of fuel shortage for thermal power plants, the central government has decided to allow the cost of imported coal as pass through.
- Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) (between Coal India Limited and Thermal Power Plants) were not signed since April 2009, as there were unresolved issues. Spirited attempts were made to resolve this impasse with encouraging results. Of the targeted 78,000 MW, FSAs have been signed for more than 65,000 MW generation capacity.
- Standard bidding documents for Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPP) revised — RFQ for two UMPPs to be issued in the next one month.
- Since 2009 no fresh coal blocks were allocated until the middle of 2013 as amendments to MMDR Act were to be carried out along with attendant procedural changes. The amendments to the MMDR Act were notified and a New Policy was finalised. Under this New Policy, in the current year, 14 coal blocks have been allocated to public sector power generation companies; three more coal blocks are likely to be allocated shortly to government companies for commercial mining. Moreover, around 10 coal blocks are likely to be offered for allocation to the private sector through competitive bidding by January 2014.
- A bill for effective regulation of coal sector through the proposed institution of Coal Regulator has been approved by the Cabinet and is likely to be introduced in the Parliament in the next session.
- Environment Clearance (EC)
- For one time capacity expansion of 25% or less, coal mining projects have now been exempted from public hearing provided that public hearing had taken place at the time of obtaining the existing EC and the mining is confined to the existing lease area.
- Environment clearance at the time of renewal of lease for mines- It has been decided that no fresh EC shall be required for a mining project at the time of renewal of mining lease, if EC was obtained under the ETA Notification of 2006. Similar dispensation is being made for EC obtained under the 1994 notification.
- For road projects, EC and Forest clearances have been delinked — for work to begin in the portions outside forest area, there would now be no need to obtain Stage-I forest clearance before EC is granted.
- EC procedure for SEZs has been brought in line with the framework prescribed for NIMZs under the National Manufacturing Policy. This would allow the state governments to delegate powers to the State Pollution Control Boards and would exempt individual units from public hearing if the SEZ, as a whole, has undergone public hearing.
- Widening of National Highways — up to 100 Km length involving additional right of way up to 40 metres would not require EC any longer — earlier this exemption was available for 30km length and 20 metres width.
- Forest Clearance (FC)
- Linear projects (roads, transmission lines, canals) have now been exempted from obtaining the consent of Gram Sabha under the Forest Rights Act provided that rights of the tribal population have been recognized and vested. Also, work on non-forest part of a linear project can now begin during the pendency of the FC.
- Exports of agricultural products doubled from '1.2 laldi crore in 2010-11 to '2.32 lakh crore in 2012-13. India emerged as the largest exporter of rice and second largest exporter of cotton in the world.
- Skill Development
- National Skill Development Agency set up to coordinate skill development efforts of various Ministries and State Governments. A National Skills Qualification Framework on the anvil.
- A new scheme, National Skill Certification and Monetary Reward Scheme launched.
- Detailed guidelines for tax incentives under section 35 CCD of the Income Tax Act issued by MoF, allowing 150% deduction in respect of expenses incurred by Corporates in their skill development initiatives.
- All CSS/ACA Schemes and Flagship Programmes have been re-structured in to 66 Schemes in the XII Plan; 10% outlay for each Scheme earmarked as Flexi Funds; state-specific guidelines authorized for each CS S/ACA/Flagship Scheme; CSS/ACA Funds to be henceforth transferred through the Consolidated Fund of the States
- Water Resources
- National Water Policy approved.
- Enactment of the National Food Security Act — 67% of the country's population now entitled to foodgrains at subsidized rates.
- Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Settlement Act enacted, ushering in a humane, consultative and transparent process for land acquisition.
- National Urban Health Mission, as a sub-mission of an overarching National Health Mission approved.
- National Pharma Pricing Policy, 2012 notified to ensure availability of essential medicines at reasonable prices, while supporting the growth of industry.
- New scheme for pre-matric scholarship for SC and ST students in class IX and X introduced in 2012.
- New scheme for giving Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produce for tribals approved.
- High Level Committee constituted to carry out the first-ever study of the socio-economic; education and health status of tribal communities in India.
- Waqf Act amended to pave the way for management and productive use of waqf properties.
- Amendments to Minimum Wages Act approved, providing statutary status to a National Floor Level Minimum Wage.
- Pension amount under Indira Gandhi National Widow and Disability Pension Schemes raised from Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 per month. Assistance under National Family Benefits Scheme doubled from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 20,000.
- National Children Policy, 2012 approved.
- ICDS programme restructured with a 5-year allocation of Rs. 1.23 lakh crores. A Multisectoral Nutrition Plan being launched in 200 High Burden Districts.
- Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2013 passed.
- Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 enacted, providing for stringent punishment for heinous sexual offences against women.
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 passed.
- New and separate Department of Disability Affairs created in 2012. Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities launched for M.Phil and PhD courses.
- Phase I and II of the digitization of cable TV networks completed successfully in the country — 9 million cable TV subscribers have already become digital.
- Gandhi Heritage Sites Mission approved to protect and conserve such sites.
- Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan launched as a new initiative to strengthen panchayats across the country.
- Visa liberalization done, including providing Tourist Visa On Arrival at 4 international airports; allowing collective landing facility; translation of visa forms into 9 languages.
- Real Estate Regulation Bill introduced to provide protection to home owners.
Anti corruption measures
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill have been introduced in Parliament. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 as passed by the Lok Sabha on 27th December, 2011, was referred to the Rajya Sabha. Official amendments to The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, after considering the recommendations of the Select Committee, have been approved.
The Government has introduced a Bill seeking amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act with a view to punishing the guilty and protecting honest public servants more effectively. A clear and unambiguous definition for the term 'corruption', covering both the supply and demand sides, is being sought to be provided.
The Government has considered and recommended amendments to the DSPE Act to provide for independence of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and its functional autonomy. These include, inter alia include, strengthened procedures for the appointment and removal of Director, CBI, time-line of three months for prosecution of officers under Section 6 (a) of the DSPE Act; a statutory provision for appointment of Director, Prosecution and establishment of an Accountability Commission to ensure institutional accountability of the CBI.
The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 has been introduced in Parliament and gone through the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee.
The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was introduced in Rajya Sabha in May, 2012 to provide for compulsory registration of marriages, irrespective of religious denominations of the parties.
The Readjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Ordinance, 2013 was promulgated in January, 2013 to provide for readjustment of seats in the House of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies of the States, and for the readjustment of territorial constituencies.
The Marriage Law (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954 for making irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground of divorce was introduced in Rajya Sabha on 4th August 2010. By these amendments 'residential property’ of the husband has been defined and provision made for equal share to wife and children, in the residential/moveable property of the husband.
A Bill providing for Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) for appointing Judges to the Supreme Court and 24 High Courts and also to recommend transfers, has been introduced in Parliament and passed by the Rajya Sabha.
The National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms has undertaken measures for addressing the backlog of cases and high pendency in the courts. The Government has decided, in principle, to double the number of subordinate courts in the country. As many as 73 Fast Track Courts (FTCs) have been established since January, 2013 for trial of offences against women in the country. Three new High Courts have been established in the North-east in the States of Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura. The Government has also approved the comprehensive Scheme of National Court Management System of the Supreme Court of India. Among other things, the Scheme provides for preparation of a National Framework of Court Excellence that includes measurable standards for the performance of courts; development of a user-friendly case management system; formulation and development of a National System of Judicial Statistics; and preparation of a human resource development strategy for improving the standards of selection and training of Judges in the subordinate courts.
New Scheme for Civil Services Examination (CSE)
The Central Government has approved certain reforms in the Civil Services (Main) Examination from CSE, 2013 that will reduce the time cycle of the selection process and provide a more level playing field for the candidates.
Strengthening the Right to Information
Guidelines have been issued under the RTI Act 2005 to strengthen the compliance of provisions relating to suo-motu (proactive) disclosure. The guidelines also provide for a third party audit by the public authorities of the pro active disclosure to assess their level of compliance with these guidelines.