CCEA Current Affairs - 2020

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Cabinet approves transfer of Assam Gas Cracker Project to oil ministry

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the transfer of administrative control of Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited (BCPL), the Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) implementing Assam Gas Cracker Project (AGCP) from Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals (under Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers) to Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MOP&NG).

Other CCCEA Approval

CCEA also approved feedstock subsidy to BCPL for 15 years of plant operation for maintaining minimum Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 10% (after tax). To bring IRR to 10%, BCPL has estimated feedstock subsidy of approximately Rs.4600 crore for project for 15 years of plant operation. Therefore, BCPL will submit proposal on yearly basis from next financial year (2020-2021) onwards and administrative Ministry/ Department will devise a mechanism to examine proposal in consultation with Union Ministry of Finance.

Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas will have to make firm arrangements through concerned PSUs for supply of committed quantity and quality of feedstock to AGC project as envisaged in earlier CCEA approval of 2006.

About Assam Gas Cracker Project (AGCP)

The project came as part of historic Assam Accord signed on 15 August 1985, with a view to bring socioeconomic development of region, thus it is seen as a part of implementation of Assam accord. It and involves setting up of facilities for manufacture of 2 lakh tonnes of ethylene annually using gas as feedstock. It is the first petrochemical project in the northeastern region of country. The 1st phase of long-delayed project was commissioned in late 2015.

The Rs.9,285-crore project is the first petrochemical project in the northeastern region of country and would give impetus to development of region as well as will improve the socio economic conditions of people of Assam through increased employment.

Background: The project was approved by CCEA on April 2006 and subsequently, a joint venture, BCPL was incorporated on January 2007. On 9 April 2007, then prime minister Manmohan Singh, laid the foundation stone of project at Lepetkata, 15 km from Dibrugarh. The project was supposed to be completed by April 2012, but, the target declines were delayed- first to December 2013, than to January 2014 and to June 2015, thus the project was finally being commissioned in November 2015.

Cabinet approves extension of norms for mandatory packaging in jute materials

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has accorded its approval for mandatory packaging of foodgrains and sugar in jute material for Jute Year 2019-20. The scope of mandatory packaging norms under Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987 has been retained by Union Government as per 2018.

Cabinet decision mandates that 100% of food grains and 20% of sugar shall be mandatorily packed in diversified jute bags. The decision also mandates that initially 10% of indents of jute bags for packing foodgrains would be placed through reverse auction on Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal. The move will gradually usher in a regime of price discovery.

Significance

The packaging of sugar in diversified jute bags will give an impetus to diversification of jute industry. Moreover, the approval will benefit farmers and workers located in Eastern and North Eastern regions of India particularly in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Tripura and Andhra Pradesh.

Jute Industry in India

About 3.7 lakh workers and several lakh farm families are dependent for their livelihood on jute sectors.  Thus government has been making efforts for development of jute sector; increasing quality and productivity of raw jute, boosting/sustaining demand for jute products and diversification of jute sector.

Indian jute industry is predominantly dependent on Government sector which purchases jute bags of value of over Rs.7,500 crore every year for packing food grains. This is also done in order to sustain core demand for  jute sector and to support livelihood of workers and farmers dependent on sector.

Government Support provided to Jute Sector:

To improve productivity and quality of raw jute government launched a carefully designed intervention, called Jute ICARE (Jute Improved Cultivation and Advanced Retting Exercise) in January 2015. Under it Government has supported about 3 lakh jute farmers by disseminating improved agronomic practices and interventions, which have resulted in enhancing quality and productivity of raw jute and increasing income of jute farmers by Rs.10,000/hectare.

To support jute farmers, a grant of subsidy of Rs. 100 crore for 2 years starting from 2018-19 has been approved to enable Jute Corporation of India Limited (JCI) to conduct Minimum Support Price (MSP) operations and ensure price stabilization in the jute sector. Moreover, JCI is transferring 100% funds to jute farmers online for jute procurement under MSP and commercial operations.

To support diversification of jute sector, National Jute Board in collaboration with National Institute of Design and has opened Jute Design Cell at Gandhinagar. The government has also taken up the promotion of Jute Geo Textiles and Agro-Textiles with State Governments particularly those in North Eastern region and also with departments like Ministry of Road Transport and Ministry of Water Resources.

To promote transparency in jute sector, government launched Jute SMART, an e-govt initiative in December 2016. It provides an integrated platform for procurement of B-Twill sacking by Government agencies.

Union Government has also imposed Definitive Anti-Dumping Duty on import of jute goods from Bangladesh and Nepal with effect from 5 January 2017, to boost demand in the jute sector.