CURRENT AFFAIRS


12th Dec, 2020

Peer learning exchange on fintech solutions held between India and Better Than Cash Alliance

Recently, India and UN-Based Better Than Cash Alliance organized a joint Peer learning exchange on fintech solutions for responsible digital payments at the last mile.

Better Than Cash Alliance

It is based at the United Nations.

Created in: 2012. 

Launched by: United Nations Capital Development Fund, the United States Agency for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citigroup, the Ford Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and Visa Inc.

It is a partnership of governments, companies and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to responsible digital payments.

The Alliance has 75 members which are committed to digitizing payments.

The Alliance Secretariat works to digitize payments by – Providing advisory services based on their priorities; Sharing action-oriented research and fostering peer learning on responsible practices; Conducting advocacy at national, regional and global level.


Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP) For North Eastern Region (NER) approved

The Union Cabinet has approved for provision of a Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) Scheme.

Under the scheme, Mobile Coverage in Arunachal Pradesh and two Districts of Assam (Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao) shall be provided under the Comprehensive Telecom Development

Plan (CTDP) for North Eastern Region (NER).

The project envisages to provide mobile coverage to around 2 thousands of uncovered villages at an estimated cost of about Rs.2,029 crore including operational expenses for five years.

The project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund. 

The project is targeted to be completed by December, 2022.

The work related to provision of 4G mobile services in identified uncovered villages will be awarded through open competitive bidding process as per extant USOF procedures.

Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)

Apart from the higher capital cost of providing telecom services in rural and remote areas, these areas also generate lower revenue due to lower population density, low income and lack of commercial activity. 

Thus normal market forces alone would not direct the telecom sector to adequately serve backward and rural areas. 

Keeping in mind the inadequacy of the market mechanism to serve rural and inaccessible areas on one hand and the importance of providing vital telecom connectivity on the other, most countries of the world have put in place policies to provide Universal Access and Universal Service to ICT.

India’s New Telecom Policy – 1999 (NTP’99) provided that the resources for meeting the Universal Service Obligation (USO) would be raised through a ‘Universal Access Levy (UAL)’, which would be a percentage of the revenue earned by the operators under various licenses. 

The Universal Service Support Policy came into effect from 01.04.2002. 

The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003 giving statutory status to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 2003. 

As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003, 2006 and 2008), the Fund is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation.


Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY) approved

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for Atmanirbhar Bharat RojgarYojana (ABRY).

Objective: To boost employment in formal sector and incentivize creation of new employment opportunities during the Covid recovery phase under Atmanirbhar Bharat Package 3.0.

If EPFO-registered establishments take in new employees without EPFO registration or those who lost jobs earlier, the Yojana will benefit these employees.

Beneficiaries / New Employees under the scheme would be:

  • any new employee joining employment in EPFO registered establishments on monthly wages less than Rs.15,000
  • EPF members drawing monthly wage of less than Rs.15,000 who exited from employment during COVID Pandemic from 1st March to 30th September, 2020 and is employed on or after 1st October, 2020.

Central Govt. will provide subsidy for two years in respect of new eligible employees engaged on or after 1st October, 2020 at following scale:

  • Establishments employing up to 1000 employees: Employee’s contributions (12% of Wages) & Employer’s contributions (12% of wages) totalling 24% of wages
  • Establishments employing more than 1000 employees: Only Employee’s EPF contributions (12% of EPF wages)

The scheme will be effective from October 1, 2020 and operational till 30th June 2021.


KLI Project: Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity between Mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project).

The Project shall provide a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) between Kochi and 11 Islands of Lakshadweep viz.

Those 11 islands of Lakshadweep are: Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Agati, Amini, Androth, Minicoy, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kiltan & Kadmat.

The Project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund.

The project will vastly improve telecommunication facility in the Lakshadweep Islands by providing large bandwidth.

The project is targeted to be completed by May 2023.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has been nominated as Project Execution Agency and Telecommunications Consultant India Ltd. (TCIL) as the Technical Consultant of the Project to assist Universal Service Obligation Fund, Department of Telecommunications.

The ownership of the asset under the project will rest with USOF, the funding agency, under DoT.

Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)

Apart from the higher capital cost of providing telecom services in rural and remote areas, these areas also generate lower revenue due to lower population density, low income and lack of commercial activity. 

Thus normal market forces alone would not direct the telecom sector to adequately serve backward and rural areas. 

Keeping in mind the inadequacy of the market mechanism to serve rural and inaccessible areas on one hand and the importance of providing vital telecom connectivity on the other, most countries of the world have put in place policies to provide Universal Access and Universal Service to ICT.

India’s New Telecom Policy – 1999 (NTP’99) provided that the resources for meeting the Universal Service Obligation (USO) would be raised through a ‘Universal Access Levy (UAL)’,

which would be a percentage of the revenue earned by the operators under various licenses. 

The Universal Service Support Policy came into effect from 01.04.2002. 

The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003 giving statutory status to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 2003. 

As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003, 2006 and 2008), the Fund is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation.


Morocco Normalises Relations with Israel

Recently, Morocco and Israel have agreed to normalise relations in a deal brokered by the USA.

It makes Morocco the fourth Arab country, after the UAE, Bahrain (Abraham Accords) and Sudan, to normalise relations with Israel.

Morocco will establish full diplomatic relations and resume official contacts with Israel. 

Embassies shall open soon to promote economic cooperation between Israeli and Moroccan companies.

Morocco intends to facilitate direct flights for Israeli tourists to and from Morocco.


 






ARCHIVE