Amitabh Kant Current Affairs

Amitabh Kant Committee constituted to address NPAs in power sector

The Union Government has constituted high-level committee headed by NITI Aayog Chief Executive Amitabh Kant to address problem of Non-performing assets (NPAs) or stressed assets in India’s power sector. It comprises secretaries in the ministries of power, coal and department of financial services as it members. The Government is also planning to investigate whether private developers have inflated project costs to show higher debt.

Background

According to second volume of Economic Survey 2016-17 released in August 2017, NPAs in power generation accounted for around 5.9% of the banking sector’s total outstanding advances of Rs. 4.73 trillion. Tackling issues that afflict so-called stranded power assets will provide much-needed relief for Indian banks weighed down by bad loans. Besides, weak financial health of state-owned power distribution companies (discoms) is also hampering process of signing long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) through competitive bidding.

So far, a total of 34 coal-fuelled power projects, with an estimated debt of Rs. 1.77 trillion were reviewed by government after being identified by department of financial services. Issues faced by these projects include paucity of funds, lack of PPAs and absence of fuel security.

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Union Government constitutes Amitabh Kant Committee to push cashless transactions

The Union Government has constituted a new committee to form a strategy to expedite the process of transforming India into a cashless economy.

The committee will be headed by Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. It has been tasked with identifying various bottlenecks affecting access of digital payments.

Terms of Reference of Committee

  • Identify and operationalise in the earliest possible time frame user-friendly digital payment options in all sectors of the economy.
  • Identify various digital payment systems appropriate to different sectors of the economy and coordinate efforts to make them accessible.
  • Engage regularly with Central ministries, state governments, regulators, local bodies, district administration, trade and industry associations to promote adoption of digital payment systems.
  • Estimate costs involved in various digital payments options and oversee implementation of measures to make such transactions between citizens and government cheaper than cash transactions.
  • Implement an action plan on advocacy, awareness and hand-holding efforts among public-, micro-enterprises and other stakeholders.

Background

The committee was set up following a directive from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to back up the demonetisation move. The Union Government is working towards moving all government transactions to the cashless mode, through a new single window e-payment system that businesses or individuals can use to make payments to any central or state department.

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