Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- Data Protection Bill: action against Amazon
The issue in news
Amid concerns that the privacy of users is being compromised for commercial interest. Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP) is examining the draft Data Protection Bill.
- Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Google and Paytm are among the companies from whom the committee has sought views on data security and protection.
- While Facebook India’s policy head appeared before the Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP), e-commerce giant Amazon declined to depose before the panel stating the risk of travelling during the pandemic.
- The Chairperson of the JCP indicated that Amazon’s refusal amounts to a breach of parliamentary privilege and that the panel was unanimous about taking coercive action if no one from the company appears.
- Members of the committee asked Facebook about its decision-making process, revenue model, method of paying taxes, advertisers and the process of choosing the target audience for these advertisers, background verification of its users including the process to find out the age of a new user.
- A member also suggested FB India should not share inferential data of its users for the commercial benefit of its advertisers.
- CVC amends SOP for procurements
The issue in news
The Central Vigilance Commission has amended the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the adoption of “Integrity Pact” in government organisations for procurement activities, and tenure of Integrity External Monitors (IEMs).
- The CVC has restricted the maximum tenure of Integrity External Monitors (IEMs) to three years in an organisation.
- The latest order revises the SOP issued in January 2017.
- The amended provision states that the choice of IEM should be restricted to officials from the government and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) who have retired from positions of the level of Secretary to the Central Government or of an equivalent pay scale.
- Such officials who retired as Chairman and Managing Directors (CMDs) of PSUs — Schedule ‘A’ companies and CMD/Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer levels in the Public Sector Banks (PSBs), insurance companies and financial institutions — should be at least of the level of Additional Secretary or its equivalent.
- Officers of the Armed Forces who have retired from the rank equivalent of General may also be considered for appointment.
- Preference would be given to persons who have worked in any other sector, other than their own, or have worked as Chief Vigilance Officer in any organisation.
- The amendment provides that for appointment as IEM, the Ministry, department or organisation concerned has to forward a panel of suitable persons to the CVC, of those persons who are in the panel maintained by the Commission.
- The previous corresponding provision stated that the panel could include those already in the panel maintained by the Commission, or they could propose the names of other suitable persons.
Integrity Pact and Integrity External Monitors (IEMs)
- Integrity Pacts were developed as a tool for preventing corruption in public contracting.
- The “Integrity Pact” envisages an agreement between the prospective vendor/bidder and the buyer committing the persons/ officials of both the parties not to exercise any corrupt influence on any aspect of the contract.
- It is a tool developed by Transparency International.
- The Integrity Pact envisages a panel of Independent External Monitors (IEMs) for each organisation.
- The Independent External Monitor is responsible to oversee the implementation of the Integrity Pact vis-à-vis to prevent/reduce/eliminate corruption, bribes or any other unethical practices.
- IEM reviews independently and objectively, whether and to what extent parties have complied with their obligations under the pact.
Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- Pakistan to stay on FATF grey list till 2021
The issue in news
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided to keep Pakistan on the grey list until the next review of its compliance with the recommendations made in February 2021.
- While Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has largely addressed 21 of 27 action items, the decision to retain it on the grey list or “Jurisdictions under increased monitoring” was taken as the action deadlines have not been met.
Key-Points on which Pakistan failed to deliver:
- Inaction against charitable organisations or non-profit organisations linked to terror groups banned by the UNSC.
- Delays in the prosecution of banned individuals such as Hafiz Saeed, Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi and Masood Azhar.
- Non-compliance in cracking down terror-financing through narcotics and smuggling mining products, including precious stones.
- Turkey proposed that members should consider Pakistan’s good work and instead of waiting for the completion of the remaining six of the 27 parameters, an FATF on-site team should visit the country to finalise its assessment.
- On-site teams are permitted only after jurisdictions complete their Action Plans.
Such visits would signal an exit from the grey or black list.
- Centre borrows 6,000 cr. for GST compensation
The issue in news
The Centre has kicked off its borrowing plan to meet the GST compensation shortfalls faced by States by borrowing and transferring 6,000 crore to 16 States as well as the Union Territories of Delhi and J&K.
- The Centre had announced that the Government of India (GOI) will undertake the required borrowings in tranches and pass them on to the States as back-to-back loans that will reflect on their own books.
- The Finance Ministry has so far granted permission to raise about 78,500 crore to meet the shortfall pertaining to 21 States.
- The borrowing is at an interest rate of 5.19%.
- It is intended to make weekly releases of 6,000 crore to the States.
- The tenor of borrowing is expected to be broadly in the range of 3 to 5 years.
- The interest on these borrowings, as well as the principal, is to be repaid from future GST cess collections.
- The GST Council has extended the applicability of the cess levied on sin or luxury goods over and above the highest GST rate of 28%, beyond the original deadline of June 2022.