Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- Govt. tables Bill to amend FCRA
The issue in news
A bill has been introduced in the Lok Sabha to make provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2011 more stringent.
- The government has said there is a need to streamline the provisions of the said Act by strengthening the compliance mechanism, enhancing transparency and accountability in the receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution.
Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA):
- FCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect the internal security of the country.
- The Act, first enacted in 1976 was amended in the year 2010 when a slew of new measures was taken by the Union Home Ministry to regulate foreign donations.
Need for amendment:
- The FCRA Bill, 2020, says the need to strengthen the Act has arisen due to several organisations “misutilising or misappropriating” the funds leading to the government cancelling 19,000 such registrations in the past few years.
- The annual inflow of foreign contribution has almost doubled between the years 2010 and 2019, but many recipients of foreign contribution have not utilised the same for the purpose for which they were registered or granted prior permission under the said Act.
- Many of the recipients were also found wanting in ensuring basic statutory compliances such as submission of annual returns and maintenance of proper accounts, leading to a situation where the Central Government had to cancel certificates of registration.
- Criminal investigations also had to be initiated against dozens of such non-governmental organisations which indulged in outright misappropriation or mis-utilisation of foreign contribution.
Provisions of the FCRA Bill 2020:
- It is a bill that proposes to include public servants in the prohibited category to provide that no foreign contribution shall be accepted by them. o Earlier, it was restricted to legislators, election candidates, journalists, print and broadcast media, judges, government servants or employees of any corporation or any other body controlled or owned by the Government.
- It has also sought to prohibit any transfer of foreign contribution to any other association or person.
- It proposes to decrease administrative expenses through foreign funds by an organisation to 20% from 50% earlier.
- It seeks to make Aadhaar mandatory for registration.
- The amendment seeks to give the government powers to stop utilisation of foreign funds by an organisation through a summary enquiry.
- Earlier it was supposed to be done only after the person or association had been “found guilty” of violation of the Act.
- Make ethics code must for all news channels, NBA tells SC
The issue in news
The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has told the Supreme Court to make its code of ethics against airing malicious, biased and regressive content applicable to all TV news channels.
- The NBA suggested that the Court direct the government to include its ethical code in the Programme Code of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.
- By doing so, all news channels, whether they are NBA members or not, will then have to follow the Programme Code containing the proposed amendments.
The NBA suggested that:
- The News Broadcasters Services Authority (NBSA) should be granted recognition as an “independent self-regulatory mechanism” to receive and deal with complaints.
- The orders passed by the NBSA should be made binding and enforceable on the channels.
- The penalties mentioned therein could be made more stringent.
- The NBA affidavit came in response to an order by the Supreme Court to suggest steps to strengthen the self-regulatory mechanism to prevent or penalize airing of communal or derogatory content on electronic media.
Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- World Bank seeks ‘universal eligibility’
The issue in news
The $1 billion World Bank loan comes with a condition of “universal eligibility” in procurements.
- In April 2020 the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors had approved a fast-track $1 billion India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project to help India prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen its public health preparedness.
- It is the largest ever health sector support from the Bank to India.
India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Strengthening Project:
- It is a joint initiative of the Government of India and the World Bank.
- The World Bank has the $1 billion loan disbursed by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
- The Railway Ministry is one of the implementing agencies of the project.
What does the condition of “universal eligibility” mean?
- This would mean that all preferential market access policies, including Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India) Order, Micro Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Policy, certain benefits to start-ups, shall not be applicable on purchases made while implementing the national project.
- The contractors must agree to comply with the relevant provisions of the World Bank’s anti-corruption guidelines and prohibited policies of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
- Apart from making way for universal eligibility in the supply system, the World Bank would have the right to review the procurement documents, inspect/audit all accounts, records and other files relating to the project. o Compliance to these conditions has been made mandatory for the funding.
- The first component of the project deals with emergency response to the pandemic and would be implemented until April 2022.
- The Railways will spend 399 crore across its network to strengthen health infrastructure in the combat against COVID-19 in this financial year.
- Railways would have to make procurements in accordance with the World Bank guidelines, the Railway Board said and added that the funds allocated should not be exceeded.
- These funds would be utilised for establishing isolation wards by purchasing ventilators, oxygen cylinders, laboratory machines, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits, face shields, hospital furniture, medical equipment, gloves, goggles and other consumables.
- Amid fierce protests, Rajya Sabha passes two farm Bills
The issue in news
Two of the three agriculture-related legislation aimed at liberalising the farm sector have been passed by the Rajya Sabha, these legislations were earlier passed in the Lok Sabha.
- The legislations are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill was passed earlier.