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Cabinet approvals on April 22, 2020

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On April 22, 2020, the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi has made the following approvals:Cabinet approves fixation of Nutrient Based SubsidyPM-KISAN: Aadhaar seeding process for beneficiaries of Assam, Meghalaya, J-K, Ladakh extended till March, 2021
The relaxation given to Assam, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh regarding the mandatory requirement of Aadhaar seeding for beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme has been extended for one more year till 31st March 2021 from 31st March, 2020. Aadhaar seeding is a process of linking Aadhaar number with primary bank account number or with Government Official documents like Pan Card etc.

  • As we all know that under the PM-KISAN scheme the release of benefits is done only through Aadhaar seeded data of beneficiaries uploaded by the State / UT Governments on the PM-KISAN portal. But Assam, Meghalaya and the UTs of J&K and Ladakh have been exempted from this till 31st March, 2020, due to less penetration of Aadhar in these places.

Reason behind extension:
It has been assessed that the above mentioned places are taking more time to complete the work of Aadhaar seeding for beneficiaries and if the extension is not approved then  the beneficiaries of these States / UTs may not be able to avail the benefits of the Scheme w.e.f. 1st April, 2020.

About PM-KISAN
Launched on 24 February, 2019 aims to provide income support to all landholder farmer families. Under the Scheme, an amount of Rs.6000/- per year is released in three 4-monthly instalments of Rs.2000/- each directly into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries. The Scheme is effective from 1st December, 2018.

Cabinet approved Rs. 15,000 Crore for ”India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package”
The Union Cabinet has approved Rs. 15,000 crore for ‘India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package’ out of which Rs. 7,774 Crore will be utilized for immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response and rest for medium-term support (1-4 years) under mission mode approach. This package is to be provided in three phases — January 2020 to June 2020, July 2020 to March 2021 and from April 2021 to March 2024.

  • The objective of the package to contain COVID-19 in India through the development of diagnostics and COV1D-dedicated treatment facilities.
  • The package will be given to state governments and Union Territories (UTs) on the basis of their size and number of positive cases.
  • It is to be noted that the overall process of the package will be implemented under the overall umbrella of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

Phase-1Plan:
For Phase 1, the health ministry with the support of all the other ministries has already undertaken several activities. Additional funds to the tune of Rs.3,000 crore is released under the package to states and UTs, for strengthening of existing health facilities.

  • Leveraging on the existing multi-disease testing platforms under   National   TB Elimination Programme, orders for procurement of 13 lakhs diagnostic kits have been placed to augment COVID 19 testing.
  • All health workers including Community Health Volunteers (ASHAs) have been covered with insurance under the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance Scheme for Health Workers lighting COVID-19″.

Cabinet approves fixation of NBS rates for P&K fertilizers for FY 20-21; Subsidy on non-urea fertilisers declined to Rs 22,186.55 crore
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved fixation of Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) Fertilizers for the year 2020-21. In this regard, Centre has marginally declined the subsidy on non-urea fertilisers to Rs 22,186.55 crore for FY 2020-21 from last year’s Rs 22,875.5 crore amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • The CCEA also approved inclusion of ammonium phosphate under the subsidy scheme.
  • The subsidy on the P&K will be provided on the subsidy rates approved by the CCEA to the fertilizer companies.

Following are the approved rates for NBS:

Per Kg Subsidy rates (in Rs)

N P K S
18.789 14.888 10.116 2.374

Points to be noted:

-The government makes available fertilisers, namely urea and 21 grades of P&K fertilisers to farmers at subsidised prices through fertiliser manufacturers and importers.The subsidy is released to fertiliser companies so that they can make available fertilisers to farmers at a cheaper price.

-In P&K fertilisers, the government fixes subsidy on nutrients and the remaining variable cost has to be borne by farmers while in case of urea, the government fixes the maximum retail price (MRP). The difference between the production cost and the MRP is reimbursed to manufacturers.

-The annual consumption of P&K fertilisers is around 24 million tonnes.

Cabinet approved Ordinance to protect healthcare personnel from attacks; imprisonment upto 7 years
Union Cabinet has approved “The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020”to protect healthcare service personnel including their living/working premises against violence during epidemics. It will amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 by making acts of violence against healthcare workers as cognizable and non-bailable offence.

  • A person can be sentenced to terms between three months and five years, and fined between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh, for crimes under the new provision.
  • In case of grievous injuries, the accused can be sentenced from 6 months to 7 years. They can be penalised from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
  • In addition, the offender shall also be liable to pay compensation to the victim and twice the fair market value for damage of property.
  • Investigation of offences will be done by an officer of the rank of Inspector within a period of 30 days and trial has to be completed in one year, unless extended by the court for recorded reasons.

President Ram NathKovind has also approved to promulgate The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.