PARLIAMENTARY RESOURCE SERVICES (PRS)

prsIn the midst of the festive season and elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, the government made a few major policy announcements in October related to the energy sector.  An ordinance was issued that enables re-allocation of the cancelled coal blocks through an auction mechanism.  Diesel prices were decontrolled.  The new formula for pricing natural gas was approved, which modifies the Rangarajan formula.  A modified direct benefit cash transfer system was announced to subsidise consumers of domestic LPG.

The Winter Session of Parliament is scheduled to be held from 24th November to 23rd December.  The Coal Ordinance (mentioned earlier) will have to be ratified during the session.  The Government has issued another Ordinance that allows NTC to continue holding lease of land that was leased by sick textile units; this will be with retrospective effect, and will reverse a Supreme Court decision that said the lease had terminated.

The government has asked for public comments on a few Bills.  The Small Factories Bill seeks to regulate manufacturing units with less than 40 employees.  The Citizenship Amendment Bill merges the PIO and OIC schemes and calls it the Overseas Indian Cardholder scheme.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act is proposed to be amended to allow termination of pregnancy until 24 weeks, and to allow practitioners of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy as well as Auxiliary Nurse Midwives to terminate pregnancy.

There were a few other government decisions.  The Swachh Bharat Mission was launched and will replace the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan; it will have separate sub-missions for rural and urban areas.  The cabinet has approved a Bill that will regulate the three Schools of Planning and Architecture.  The FDI policy was amended to permit 100% FDI in the construction development sector.  The MSP for Rabi crops was announced, and the procurement price for wheat is raised by 3.6%.

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