The Narendra Modi led government on Wednesday cleared a slew of measures. Here are the top five things that the Cabinet cleared today:
- Dearness allowance: The Cabinet raised dearness allowance (DA) to 119 per cent from 113 per cent, which will benefit over one crore government employees and pensioners. Earlier in April, the government had hiked DA by 6 per cent to 113 per cent of their basic pay with effect from January. DA is paid as proportion of the basic pay. The DA hike will take effect from July 1. As per the agreed formula, the DA rate increase is an average of 12-month consumer price index-industrial workers from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.
- Gold bond, monetization schemes: The Cabinet approved Gold Bond and Gold Monetisation schemes to reduce the metal's demand in physical form and fish out idle gold lying with households and other entities. "It is safer and economically more stable to go under both these schemes," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after the Cabinet meeting. The Gold Bond scheme will have an annual cap of 500 grams per person and such bonds would be issued for a period of 5-7 years. As regards the Gold Monetisation Scheme , the minister said people holding idle gold can deposit it in banks for either short, medium or long term.
- Spectrum guidelines: The Cabinet cleared spectrum trading guidelines under which telecom operators will be able to sell radiowaves to other service providers, a move that will help address the problem of spectrum shortage. As of now only government is allowed to allocate spectrum to telecom firms through auctions. For entering in trading agreement, telecom operators will not require prior permission from government but the company will have to inform licence issuing authority 45 days before entering into trading agreement, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. The seller and buyer entering into trading agreement will have to give an undertaking that their pact is in compliance to all rules and regulations.
- Offshore wind energy policy: The Union Cabinet approved National Offshore Wind Energy Policy which will pave the way for development of this renewable source of energy, including setting up of projects and research in the area. Under the policy, there will be energy mapping of the country and locations with high potential will be identified. After that the government will seek required approval from various departments like space, defence and shipping, before finally putting these projects for bidding. According to an official statement, "Ministry of New and Renewable Energy will be the nodal ministry for use of offshore areas within EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) of the country."
- FDI route for white label ATMs: The Cabinet permitted 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) under the automatic route for white label ATM operations, a move that is aimed at promoting financial inclusion. This decision will ease and expedite foreign investment inflows in the activity and thus give a fillip to the government's effort to promote financial inclusion in the country, including the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, an official statement said. Till date, foreign investment in while label ATM operations (WLAO) was allowed through the government approval route. This required some processing time and projects were delayed, dissuading investors from investing in such critical areas. White labeled ATMs are set up by private non-bank companies that own and operate their own brand of ATMs.