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PRS Capsule

PRS Capsule

PRS Capsule - May 2022

  • 30 Jun 2022
  • 16 min read

Key Highlights of PRS

Governance

Extension of PMEGP

The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has approved the extension of the PMEGP for five years till FY26.

What is the PMEGP Scheme?

  • Launch:
    • The Government of India approved the introduction of a credit linked subsidy programme called Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) in 2008 for generation of employment opportunities through establishment of micro enterprises in rural as well as urban areas.
    • It allows entrepreneurs to set up factories or units.
  • Administration:
    • It is a central sector scheme being administered by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MoMSME).
    • Implementing Agency at the National Level: Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
      • It is a statutory organization under the administrative control of the Ministry of MSME.
  • Eligibility:
    • Any individual above 18 years of age.
    • Only new projects/units are considered for sanction of loans.
    • Self-help groups that have not availed benefits under any other public scheme, societies, production co-operative societies, and charitable trusts.

What are the Key Changes Made in PMEGP?

  • The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) announced the continuation of Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) for the 2021-26 period.
    • The Ministry noted that since the programme was launched, around 7.8 lakh micro enterprises have been assisted with subsidy of Rs 19,995 crore.
    • The programme has generated an estimated employment for around 64 lakh persons.
  • The scheme will be implemented during 2021-26 with the following key changes:
    • Eligible projects:
      • The maximum project cost eligible for support under the programme has been increased from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 50 lakh for manufacturing units.
      • For service units, this has been raised from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.
    • Definition of rural areas:
      • The definitions of rural areas have been modified. Under the previous guidelines, any area classified as a village as per the revenue record of the state, irrespective of the population, was considered a rural area.
      • As per the new guidelines, areas falling under the jurisdiction of Panchayati Raj Institutions will be considered rural areas.
    • Higher subsidy for certain categories:
      • PMEGP applicants under aspirational districts and transgenders will be treated as special category applicants, and they will be entitled for higher subsidy (10% higher in both urban and rural areas). The total estimated outlay under the scheme for the 2021-26 period is Rs 13,554 crore.

Composition of the National Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy Board

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare notified the composition of the National Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and Surrogacy Board, under the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021, and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021.

What is Surrogacy?

  • About:
    • Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman (the surrogate) agrees to carry and give birth to a child on behalf of another person or couple (the intended parent/s).
    • A surrogate, sometimes also called a gestational carrier, is a woman who conceives, carries and gives birth to a child for another person or couple (intended parent/s).
  • Altruistic surrogacy:
    • It involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy.
  • Commercial surrogacy:
    • It includes surrogacy or its related procedures undertaken for a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) exceeding the basic medical expenses and insurance coverage.

What is Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)?

  • Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is used to treat infertility. It includes fertility treatments that handle both a woman's egg and a man's sperm. It works by removing eggs from a woman's body and mixing them with sperm to make embryos. The embryos are then put back in the woman's body.
  • In Vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common and effective type of ART.
  • ART procedures sometimes use donor eggs, donor sperm, or previously frozen embryos. It may also involve a surrogate carrier.
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare notified the composition of the National Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and Surrogacy Board, under the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021, and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021.

What are the Key Functions of the National Board?

  • Advising the Central Government on ART related policy matters.
  • Formulating a code of conduct and standards for ART clinics and banks.
  • Overseeing various bodies to be constituted under the Bill.

Who will be the Members of the Board?

  • Minister of Health and Family Welfare as Chairperson
  • Secretary to the Department of Health Research as Vice-Chairperson
  • Two members of the Lok Sabha
  • One Joint Secretary each from the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • The Director General of Health services
  • Nominated Chairpersons of State/UT boards on rotation basis
  • Joint Secretary to the Department of Health Research as member-secretary

Amendments to the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018

The Union Cabinet approved the amendments to the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018.

What are Biofuels?

  • Any hydrocarbon fuel that is produced from organic matter in a short period of time (days, weeks, or even months) is considered a biofuel.
  • Biofuels may be solid, liquid or gaseous in nature.
    • Solid: Wood, dried plant material, and manure
    • Liquid: Bioethanol and Biodiesel
    • Gaseous: Biogas
  • These can be used to replace or can be used in addition to diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport, stationery, portable and other applications.
    • Also, they can be used to generate heat and electricity.
  • Some of the main reasons for shifting to biofuels are the rising prices of oil, emission of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and the interest in obtaining fuel from agricultural crops for the benefit of farmers.

What are the Important Amendments Made?

  • The Union Cabinet approved amendments to the National Policy on Bio-fuels, 2018.
    • The Policy aims at mainstreaming biofuels and envisions a central role for it in the energy and transportation sectors of the country in coming decades.
    • The following amendments have been approved:
      • Advancement of the target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol from 2030 to 2025-26.
      • Allowing more feedstock for production of biofuels.
      • Adding new members to the National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
      • Granting permission for export of biofuels in specific cases.
  • Further, the amendments seek to promote the production of biofuels in the country, under the Make in India program.

What is the National Biofuel Coordination Committee?

  • National Biofuel Coordination Committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Minister, Petroleum & Natural Gas (P&NG) to provide overall coordination, effective end-to-end implementation and monitoring of biofuel programme.
  • NBCC has members from 14 other ministries.

SC’s Clarification on GST Council’s Recommendations

The Supreme Court clarified that the recommendations of the GST Council are not binding on Parliament and state legislatures.

What is GST Council?

  • It is a constitutional body (Article 279A) for making recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Services Tax.
  • The GST Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and other members are the Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States.
  • It is considered as a federal body where both the center and the states get due representation.

What are the Important Clarifications Given by the Supreme Court?

  • The Supreme Court clarified that the recommendations of the GST Council are not binding on Parliament and state legislatures.
  • The Supreme Court was hearing an appeal against an order by the Gujarat High Court in 2020.
  • This tax was levied on a reverse charge basis (the recipient of goods or services becomes liable to pay the tax, instead of the producer).
  • On the contention of the central government that recommendations of the GST Council are binding on the legislature and executive, the Supreme Court noted that the GST Council can only make recommendations.
  • According to the Court, the constitutional provision relating to the GST Council does not suggest that these recommendations are binding.
    • Parliament and state legislatures have ‘simultaneous power’ to legislate on GST. Hence making the recommendations binding would go against the idea of fiscal federalism.
    • With regards to the levy of IGST, the Supreme Court ruled that an Indian importer is liable to pay IGST on the composite supply of goods and transportation services.
    • However, the Court said that a separate levy on the provision of transportation services is violative of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.

Social Justice and Empowerment

PM CARES Scheme for Children

The central government launched a Central Sector Scheme to provide scholarship assistance to certain children to continue their education. The scheme is known as PM CARES Scheme for Children.

What are the Key Features of the Scheme?

  • The scheme is targeted at children who have lost their parents (biological or adoptive) or legal guardian to COVID-19.
  • Under the scheme, scholarships will be disbursed to children through direct benefit transfer, from Class I till Class XII.
  • The central government will provide scholarship allowance worth Rs 20,000 per child per annum.
  • This comprises:
    • An annual academic allowance of Rs 8,000 to cover the school fees, and the cost of books, uniform, shoes and other educational material.
    • A monthly allowance of Rs 1,000.

Environment

Environmental Clearance Rules for Coal Mining Projects

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change amended the Environmental Clearance (EC) rules for expanding coal mining projects.

What is an Environmental Clearence?

  • An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report is prepared to get Environment Clearance (EC) for a project.
  • An application form with EIA report, details of public hearing and NOC is submitted for environmental clearance with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) if the project falls under Project A category or the state government if the project falls under Project B category.
    • The documents submitted are then analyzed by an Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change.
    • Final Approval is provided by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change.
    • In view of domestic coal shortage, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change amended the environmental clearance (EC) rules for expanding coal mining projects.
    • In the case of capacity expansion from 40% to 50%, projects require a revised Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report and fresh public consultation.

What are the Changes Made in the Rules?

  • In view of domestic coal shortage, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change amended the environmental clearance (EC) rules for expanding coal mining projects.
  • They will be in force for six months.
  • The Ministry issued guidelines for granting environmental clearance for expanding the capacity of existing projects (including coal mining projects) by up to 50% in April 2022.
  • The guidelines apply to projects which:
    • do not need additional land.
    • have conducted one at least one public hearing for the existing project capacity.
    • Will expand in at least three phases.
  • In the case of capacity expansion from 40% to 50% projects require a revised environmental impact assessment (EIA) report and fresh public consultation.
  • Now, coal mining projects previously granted EC for expansion of capacity up to 40% will be granted EC (without a revised EIA report and public consultation) to increase capacity up to 50%.
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