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December 16, 2019
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14 December Current Affairs

National Financial Reporting Authority submits first report since constitution

In News:

The National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) issued its first audit report of IL&FS Financial Services Limited for the year 2017-18. It is the first report submitted by the authority since its constitution in October 2018. The audit was conducted abiding Section 13(2) of the companies act, 2013 and NFRA rules, 2018.

Highlights:

Prior to NHRA, the audit of the IL and FS financial services were conducted by Deloitte Haskins and Sells (DHS).

NHRA reports that the audit conducted by DHS was inadequate.

IL and FS crisis:

IL and FS is a non-banking financial company that was established 30 years ago in order to conglomerate funds for infrastructure projects in India.

The company fell short of cash recently and faced cash over runs, delays in land acquisition and approvals in 2018.

National Financial Reporting Authority:

National Financial Reporting Authority was established in 2018 under the Companies act, 2013. Due to the establishment of NFRA, India is now eligible for membership of International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators.

It is a global member organization that includes regulators from 53 jurisdictions. It was established in 2006 at Paris. It works to enhance investor protection by improving auditing globally.

Companies act, 2013:

The powers and function of NFRA is listed under Section 13(2) of companies Act, 2013.

Under Section 13 (2) of the Companies act, 2013, the NFRA is responsible to audit policies and standards in the country, impose sanctions against defaulting auditors, audit firms and their monetary penalties.

It is also responsible to audit companies that are listed in stock exchanges and those that function outside India.

Union Cabinet authorises NHAI to set up Infrastructure Investment Trust

In News:

Union Cabinet approved the proposal of Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), which authorizes National Highways Authority of India(NHAI) to set up Infrastructure Investment Trust(s) (InvIT) as per InvIT Guidelines issued by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

This will enable NHAI to monetize completed National Highways that have a toll collection track record of atleast 1 year and the NHAI reserves the right to levy toll on identified highway.

Implementation:

NHAI’s InvIT will be established as a Trust, named as ‘InvIT Trust’.

InvIT Trust will be under Indian Trust Act, 1882 and Securities and Exchange Board of India (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014.

It will be formed with an objective of investment primarily in infrastructure projects (as defined by Union Ministry of Finance) and may hold assets either directly or through an Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) or a holding.

Significance:

Infrastructure Investment Trust(s) (InvIT) as an instrument provides greater flexibility to investors and is expected to create following opportunities-

It would generate specialized Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Concessionaires.

It would attract patient capital (for about 20-30 years) to Indian highway market, as these investors are unwilling towards construction risk and are interested in investment in assets which provide long-term stable returns.

Retail domestic savings and corpus of special institutions such as mutual funds, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), among others, will be invested in infrastructure sector through InvIT.

Background:

Roads and highways are the lifeline of the economy, therefore, development of National Highways has a multiplier effect in terms of facilitating trade and enhancing overall economic development of a region.

In October 2017, Union Government launched its flagship highway development programme called Bharatmala Pariyojana, for development of 24,800 km of roads for a total investment of Rs. 5,35,000 crore.

Parliament passes The Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019

In News:

Parliament has passed the Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which seeks to amend the Arms Act, 1959. Apart from introducing new categories of offences, the Bill also seeks to decrease number of licensed firearms allowed per person and increase penalties for certain offences under the Act.

Key Features of Bill:

License for acquiring firearms: The Bill reduces the number of permitted firearms under Arms Act, 1959 from three to one (including licenses given on inheritance basis).  The Bill provides a time period of 1 year to deposit excess firearms with officer-in-charge of nearest police station or with a licensed firearm dealer as specified.  The excess firearms will be delicensed within 90 days from expiry of 1-year period.

Firearm License Validity: Bill also increases the duration of validity of a firearm license from 3 years to 5 years.

Ban on firearms: In addition to bans mentioned in Arms Act, 1959, the Bill additionally prohibits obtaining or procuring un-licensed firearms, as well as conversion of one category of firearms to another without a license.

Increase in punishment: Bill amends punishment in relation to several offences and increases the punishment to between 7 years and life imprisonment, along with a fine for: (1) dealing in un-licensed firearms, including their manufacture/procurement/ sale/ transfer/ conversion, (2) shortening or conversion of a firearm without a licence, and (3) import/ export of banned firearms.

The Bill increases the punishment for acquisition, possession or carrying of prohibited ammunition without a license to imprisonment between 7 and 14 years, along with fine. However, a court may impose a punishment of lesser than 7 years, with recorded reasons.

Adds New offences: The Bill adds news offences, which includes: (1) forcefully taking a firearm from police or armed forces, punishable with imprisonment between 10 years and life imprisonment, along with fine, (2) using firearms in a celebratory gunfire which endangers human life/ personal safety of others, punishable with imprisonment of up to 2 years, or fine of up to Rs.1 lakh rupees, or both.

Defines offences or Organised crime committed by Organised Crime Syndicates: Possession of firearms or ammunition by a member of a syndicate, in violation of Act, will be punishable with imprisonment between 10 years and life, along with a fine.  This punishment will also apply to to anyone dealing in un-licensed firearms (including its manufacture or sale), converting a firearm without license, or importing or exporting firearms without license, on behalf of a syndicate.

Defines illicit trafficking: To include trade, acquisition, sale of firearms/ ammunitions into or out of India where firearms are either not marked as per Act/ violate provisions of Act. Illicit trafficking is punishable with imprisonment between 10 years and life, along with a fine.

Tracking of firearms: Central government may make rules to track firearms and ammunition from manufacturer to purchaser to detect, investigate, and analyse illicit manufacturing and trafficking.

International Universal Health Coverage Day

In News:

Every year 12 December is celebrated as International Universal Health Coverage Day across the world, as an annual rallying point for the growing movement for health for all. The day is promoted by World Health Organization (WHO).

About Universal Health Coverage Day:

Objective: To raise awareness of need for strong and resilient health systems and universal health coverage with multi-stakeholder partners.

Why this day?

The day marks the anniversary of United Nations’ historic and unanimous endorsement of universal health coverage (UHC) and providing affordable, quality health care in 2012.

Later, on 12 December 2017, UN proclaimed 12 December as International Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day) by resolution 72/138.

Theme for UHC Day 2019 campaign:

‘Keep the promise.’ The theme has been chosen following the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage on 23 September 2019, where world leaders endorsed the most comprehensive and ambitious political declaration on health in history.

This year’s theme seeks to keep leaders, our health systems and ourselves accountable to promise of health for all.

Each year on 12 December, universal health coverage (UHC) advocates raise their voices to share stories of millions of people still waiting for health, champion what world have achieved so far, call on leaders to make bigger and smarter investments in health, as well as encourage diverse groups to make commitments to help move world closer to UHC by 2030.

NOTE: Universal health coverage (UHC) has been included in United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goals for year 2015-2030.

Report On River Pollution By Heavy Metals

In News:

Central Water Commission (CWC) has published a report on river pollution by Heavy metals. The study was conducted from May 2014 to April 2018 and spanned 67 rivers in 20 river basins.

About:

Samples taken from 65% of the water quality stations spanning India’s major rivers showed contamination by one or more heavy metals, exceeding safe limits set by the Bureau of Indian Standards.

Iron emerged as the most common contaminant with 156 of the sampled sites registering levels of the metal above safe limits. The other major contaminants found in the samples were lead, nickel, chromium, cadmium and copper. None of the sites registered arsenic levels above the safe limit.

The main sources of heavy metal pollution are mining, milling, plating and surface finishing industries that discharge a variety of toxic metals into the environment.

Impact:

The presence of metals in drinking water is to some extent unavoidable and certain metals, in trace amounts, required for good health.

However, when present above safe limits, they are associated with a range of slowly progressing physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes that mimic Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.

Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme

In News:

Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme for NBFCs gets cabinet nod.

Key features of the scheme:

It allows for purchase of high-rated pooled assets from financially-sound non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and housing finance companies (HFCs) by public sector banks (PSBs).

The scheme would cover NBFCs and HFCs that might have slipped into “SMA-0” category during the one-year period prior to August 1, 2018, and asset pools rated “BBB+” or higher.

The window for one-time partial credit guarantee offered by the government would remain open till June 30, 2020 or till such date by which Rs 1 lakh crore worth of assets get purchased by the banks, whichever is earlier.

The Finance Minister would have the power to extend the validity of the scheme by up to three months by taking into account its progress.

Significance:

The proposed Government Guarantee support and resultant pool buyouts will help address NBFCs/HFCs resolve their temporary liquidity or cash flow mismatch issues.

This will also enable them to continue contributing to credit creation and providing last mile lending to borrowers, thereby spurring economic growth.

NavIC

In News:

US Congress has consented to designate India’s Navigation in Indian Constellation (NavIC) as its “allied” navigational satellite system along with the Galileo of the European Union and QZSS of Japan.

Details:

Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland.

Services provided:

IRNSS would provide two types of services, namely Standard Positioning Services available to all users and Restricted Services provided to authorised users.

Its applications include:

  • Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation.
  • Disaster Management.
  • Vehicle tracking and fleet management.
  • Integration with mobile phones.
  • Precise Timing.
  • Mapping and Geodetic data capture.
  • Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers.
  • Visual and voice navigation for drivers.

How many satellites does NAVIC consist of?

It is a regional system and so its constellation will consist of seven satellites. Three of these will be geostationary over the Indian Ocean, i.e., they will appear to be stationary in the sky over the region, and four will be geosynchronous – appearing at the same point in the sky at the same time every day.

This configuration ensures each satellite is being tracked by at least one of fourteen ground stations at any given point of time, with a high chance of most of them being visible from any point in India.

 

 

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