PM to Inaugurate Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention 2021 on 9 January
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention is the flagship event of the Ministry of External Affairs and provides an important platform to engage and connect with the overseas Indians.
In view of the sentiments of our vibrant diaspora community, the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, is being organized on 9th January 2021, despite the ongoing Covid pandemic.
The Convention will be held in virtual format, as were the PBD Conferences held recently in the run up to the Convention.
The theme of 16th PBD Convention 2021 is “Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat”.
The names of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardees for 2020-21 will also be announced. Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards are conferred to select Indian diaspora members to recognize their achievements and honour their contributions to various fields, both in India and abroad.
The Youth PBD will also be celebrated virtually on the theme “Bringing together Young Achievers from India and Indian Diaspora” on 8 January 2021, and will be anchored by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
The Special Guest for the event is H.E. Ms. Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Community& Voluntary Sector of New Zealand.
Seventh Trade Policy Review of India at the WTO begins
India’s seventh Trade Policy Review (TPR) began on Wednesday, 6th January 2021, at the World Trade Organization in Geneva.
The TPR is an important mechanism under the WTO’s monitoring function, and involves a comprehensive peer-review of the Member’s national trade policies. India’s last TPR took place in 2015.
India has advocated a short-term package of effective measures at the WTO that includes a temporary waiver of certain TRIPS provisions to increase manufacturing capacity and ensure timely and affordable availability of new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19; a permanent solution for Public Stockholding (PSH) for food security purposes to address food security concern; and a multilateral initiative that provides for easier access to medical services under mode-4 to facilitate easier cross-border movement of health care professionals.
In the last 5 years, since India’s previous TPR, the Government has worked diligently to reform and transform the entire economic eco-system to meet the socio-economic aspirations of a billion plus Indians.
The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, path-breaking reforms in the labour sector, an enabling and investor friendly FDI Policy, and various national programmes like Make in India, Digital India, Startup India and Skill India to bring about rapid transformation across sectors in our manufacturing environment, were emphasized in this regard.
The improvement in the economic and business environment, on account of the wide-ranging reforms, has enabled India to better its position in the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking from 142 in 2015 to 63 in 2019.
This improvement is also endorsed by investors who continue to view India as a desirable investment destination even during the testing time of the pandemic, with FDI inflow rising by more than 10 per cent year-on-year to reach USD 40 billion in the first six months of 2020-21.
In 2019-20, India received highest ever FDI inflow of USD 74.39 billion.
A comprehensive Report issued by the WTO Secretariat on the occasion, chronicling all major trade and economic initiatives that India took over the last five years, acknowledged India’s strong economic growth at 7.4% during the period under review and made a positive note of India’s reform efforts during this period.
Telangana becomes the 3rd State to complete Urban Local Bodies reforms
Telangana has become the 3rd State in the country to successfully undertake “Urban Local Bodies (ULB)” reform stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance. Thus, the State has become eligible to mobilise additional financial resources of Rs.2,508 crore through Open Market Borrowings.
Reforms in the urban local bodies and the urban utilities reforms are aimed at financial strenghtening of ULBs in the State and to enable them to provide better public health and sanitation services. Economically rejuvenated ULBs will also be able to create good civic infrastructure. The reforms stipulated to achieve these objectives are:
(i) The State will notify (a) floor rates of property tax in ULBs which are in consonance with the prevailing circle rates (i.e. guideline rates for property transactions) and (b) floor rates of user charges in respect of the provision of water-supply, drainage and sewerage which reflect current costs/ past inflation.
(ii) The State will put in place a system of periodic increase in floor rates of property tax/ user charges in line with price increases.
In view of the resource requirement to meet the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of India had on 17th May, 2020 enhanced the borrowing limit of the States by 2 percent of their Gross States Domestic Product (GSDP).
Half of this special dispensation was linked to undertaking citizen centric reforms by the States. The States get permission to raise additional funds equivalent to 0.25 percent of GSDP on completion of reforms in each sector.
The four citizen centric areas identified for reforms were (a) Implementation of One Nation One Ration Card System, (b) Ease of doing business reform, (c) Urban Local body/ utility reforms and (d) Power Sector reforms.
So far 10 States have implemented the One Nation One Ration Card System, 7 States have done ease of doing business reforms, and 3 States have done local body reforms. Total additional borrowing permission issued so far to the States who have done the refoms stands at Rs.54,190 crore.