28th Oct, 2020

Government announces Compound Interest Waiver on Moratorium Loans

Recently, the Government of India has announced the scheme for the waiver of compound interest that was payable by the borrower who had opted for loan moratorium between 1st March 2020, and 31st August 2020.

The RBI had offered a three-month moratorium on loans in March 2020. 

This enabled borrowers to defer repayments on EMIs and other loans.

This was later extended by another three months, till 31st August 2020.

The loan moratorium, and waiver of compound interest, was aimed at providing borrowers relief amid the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under this, the government will grant eligible borrowers ex-gratia payment of the difference between the compound interest and simple interest for the six-month moratorium period.

The scheme shall be applicable for loans availed by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and loans to retail customers for education, housing, consumer durables, automobiles, provided a borrower has an aggregate outstanding loan of Rs. 2 crore or less, from all such loans.

Ex-gratia payment is the money which is paid due to moral obligation and not due to legal obligation.

Simple interest is levied only on the principal amount of a loan or deposit. 

In contrast, compound interest is levied on the principal amount and the interest that accumulates on it in every period.

SOP amended for Adoption of Integrity Pact by CVC

Recently, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has amended the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on adoption of “Integrity Pact” in government organisations for procurement activities.

The CVC also restricted the maximum tenure of Integrity External Monitors (IEMs) to three years in an organization.

Amended Provision of IEM: 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 equivalent pay scale.

Earlier Provision: Under the 2017 order, the officials who had retired from positions of the level of Additional Secretary to the Central government and above, or equivalent pay scale, were eligible for the PSUs. 

Amended Provision for Appointment as IEM: For appointment as IEM, the Ministry, department or organization concerned has to forward a panel of suitable persons to the CVC, of those persons who are in the panel maintained by the CVC.

Earlier Provision: The panel could include those already in the panel maintained by the CVC, or they could propose names of other suitable persons.

Amended Provision for Tenure: The IEM will be appointed for a period of three years in an organization.

Earlier Provision: The initial tenure of IEM would be three years which could be extended for another term of two years on a request received by the CVC from the organisation concerned.

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) 

  • It is the apex vigilance institution. 
  • It is free of control from any executive authority. 
  • The Parliament enacted Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 (CVC Act) conferring statutory status on the CVC.
  • It monitors all vigilance activity under the Central Government and advises various authorities in Central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
  • It is an independent body. 
  • It is only responsible to the Parliament.
  • Integrity Pact is a vigilance tool that envisages an agreement between the prospective vendors/bidders and the buyer, committing both the parties not to exercise any corrupt influence on any aspect of the contract.
  • The pact also ensures transparency, equity and competitiveness in public procurement.

Draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019

Recently, Facebook India’s policy head appeared before the 30-member Joint Committee of Parliament which is examining the draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019.

Amazon declined to appear on the ground of risky travel amidst the pandemic.

The committee has sought views from Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Google and Paytm on data security and protection amid concerns that the privacy of users is being compromised for commercial interest.

Amazon’s refusal amounts to a breach of parliamentary privilege. 

The panel is unanimous about taking coercive action if no one from the company appears on the next date.

Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019

  • It is commonly referred to as the Privacy Bill. 
  • It intends to protect individual rights by regulating the collection, movement, and processing of data that is personal, or which can identify the individual.
  • In December 2019, Parliament approved sending it to the joint committee.
  • The Bill gives the government powers to authorise the transfer of certain types of personal data overseas. 

It has also given exceptions allowing government agencies to collect personal data of citizens.

The Bill divides the data into three categories:

(1) Personal Data: Data from which an individual can be identified like name, address, etc. (2) Sensitive Personal Data: Personal data like financial, health-related, sexual orientation, biometric, caste, religious belief, etc.;

(3) Critical Personal Data: Anything that the government at any time can deem critical, such as military or national security data.

It removes the requirement of data mirroring in case of personal data.

Only individual consent for data transfer abroad is required.

The Bill requires companies and social media intermediaries to enable users in India to voluntarily verify their accounts.

Indira Rasoi Yojana: Rajasthan

Recently, Indira Rasoi Yojana was in the news. 

Over 50 lakh people have benefited from the scheme in Rajasthan. 

The scheme was launched in August 2020.

Aim: To provide nutritious food to the poor and needy twice a day at concessional rates.

Under the scheme, each plate serves 100 grams of pulses and vegetables each, 250 grams of chapati and pickles.

Implementation: Local voluntary organizations 

Monitoring: A committee headed by the District Collector monitors the scheme. 

A special app has also been created for monitoring the food quality.

Target: To serve 1.34 lakh people per day in the state. 

Sudan and Israel agree to Normalise Relations

Recently, in a deal brokered by the USA, Sudan and Israel have agreed to normalise relations to end decades of hostility.

In the initial phase, there will be no exchange of ambassadors or a mutual establishment of embassies.

With this agreement, Israel will complete the creation of a safety cordon in the Red Sea, which currently includes Egypt, Jordan, South Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

Sudan has been at war with Israel since its foundation in 1948. 

It has now become the third country to forge diplomatic relations with Israel in recent times.

The USA has also brokered diplomatic pacts between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain earlier to normalize their relations.

The deal would deepen Sudan’s engagement with the West.

USA has also agreed to remove Sudan from its blacklist of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism.

The deal is also aimed at unifying Arab countries against their common rival Iran.