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YOJANA SUMMARY: January 2024

EASE OF DOING BUSINESS

THE JAN VISHWAS (AMENDMENT OF PROVISIONS) ACT, 2023 CONCEPTION AND DEVELOPMENT

Factors Leading to the Initiation of the Jan Vishwas Act

  • Streamlining Compliance Processes: Ongoing systematic efforts across Central Ministries and States/UTs to lessen the compliance burden on businesses and citizens.
  • Decriminalization of Minor Offenses: Recognized as crucial for reducing compliance burden on businesses.
  • Need for Unified Amendment Bill: Recognized the necessity for a common amendment bill to consolidate decriminalization efforts across diverse sectors, saving time for judiciary and legislative departments.

Foundational Principles of the Legislation

  • Simplifying Legal Processes: Aimed at simplifying legal procedures and fostering a business-friendly environment.
  • Replacement of Criminal Punishments: Focused on replacing minor criminal penalties with civil penalties or administrative actions for non-harmful offenses.

Major Challenges Faced

  • Inter-ministerial Coordination: Coordination among 19 Union Ministries required informal communication channels to address specific concerns efficiently.
  • Diverse Approaches Alignment: Challenges encountered in aligning diverse approaches during the legislation’s development.
  • Reconciliation of Varying Perspectives: Significant challenge in reconciling differing perspectives and priorities across ministries.

Steps Taken to Overcome Challenges

  • Formation of Committee: CEO NITI Aayog, Department of Legal Affairs, DPIIT, and relevant ministries constituted a committee to guide the decriminalization process.
  • Identification of Serious Contraventions: Serious contraventions earmarked for separate criminalization, while minor provisions targeted for decriminalization.
  • Inter-ministerial Consultations: Played a vital role in fostering communication and collaboration among the involved ministries and departments.

Benefits of the Jan Vishwas Act

  • Ease of Doing Business: Landmark legislation in rationalizing laws, eliminating barriers, and promoting business growth.
  • Decriminalization of Minor Offenses: Minor, technical, and procedural defaults replaced with civil penalties or administrative actions, reducing burden on the justice system.
  • Introduction of Adjudication Mechanisms: Administrative or quasi-judicial authorities empowered to impose monetary penalties, reducing case pendency and promoting efficient justice dispensation.
  • Appellate Mechanisms: Introduced to address grievances and reduce pressure on the justice system, ensuring effective resolution of disputes.

TRUSTING CITIZENS DRICRIMNALISATION WAY

Jan Vishwas: Trusting the People

Prime Minister’s Vision: Part of the Prime Minister’s vision to trust the people rather than solely focusing on gaining their trust.

Programmes for Ease of Living: 

  • Jan Vishwas Act is part of a series of initiatives aimed at facilitating easier living and doing business in the country.
  • Includes initiatives like promoting self-attestation of documents, establishing a national judicial data grid, senior citizen’s welfare fund, and electronic portals.

Repeal of Colonial Laws: Several colonial enactments were either repealed or amended as part of this initiative.

Conversion of Punishments:

  • Jan Vishwas Act focuses on eliminating criminal punishments and converting them into monetary penalties.
  • Marks the first comprehensive effort to amend laws in bulk to replace jail sentences with monetary fines, emphasizing trust-based governance.

Trust in Democratic Governance:

  • Government aims to trust its people and institutions in democratic governance through this consolidated amendment exercise.
  • Aims to bridge trust deficits between the government and the governed.

Periodical Revision of Fines and Penalties

    • Objective of the Law: Aim to replace imprisonment with monetary penalties for minor offences and rationalize penalties based on the severity of the offence.
    • Heavy Monetary Penalties: Contemplates significant monetary penalties for major offences, considering the nature and seriousness of the contraventions.
  • Periodical Revision: 
  • Provision for a ten per cent increase in minimum fines and penalties every five years once the Act is operational.
  • Ensures adjustments for inflation and maintains fairness in punishment based on the principle of proportionality.
  • Easing Burden on Courts: Removal of imprisonment for less serious offences is expected to reduce the burden on criminal courts.

Jan Vishwas Law – Permanence

Non-Repealable Legislation: 

  • The Jan Vishwas Act, once enacted, cannot be repealed under routine laws for amending or repealing statutes.
  • It permanently converts certain imprisonments into monetary penalties and provides for alternative resolution of contraventions.

Continuity with Parent Acts:

  • Even after amendments become part of parent Acts, the Jan Vishwas Act remains effective as long as the parent Act exists.
  • Penalties and fines are required to be reviewed every five years according to Section 3 of the Act.

Potential for Future Legislation:

  • Possibility of more Jan Vishwas Acts in the future, indicating a commitment to trust-based governance and rationalizing penalties.

 

GOVERNMENT E-MARKETPLACE: LEADING THE DIGITAL WAVE

Establishment and Purpose:

  • Launched in August 2016, GeM is a digital platform enabling comprehensive procurement of goods and services by various Central and State Government bodies, along with allied PSUs.
  • It offers a streamlined, digital ecosystem facilitating paperless, cashless, and contactless transactions between government buyers and sellers nationwide.

Need for Digitalization in Procurement

Challenges of Traditional Procurement:

  • Conventional government procurement processes were marred by opacity, inefficiency, and susceptibility to corruption and collusion.
  • Buyers often faced difficulties acquiring quality goods at fair prices, while potential sellers encountered bureaucratic hurdles for registration and payment.

Rationale for GeM:

  • GeM emerged to address these challenges, aiming to revolutionize public procurement by fostering an environment conducive to business, devoid of entry barriers, and marked by fair competition.

Impact of GeM

Enhanced Efficiency and Transparency:

  • GeM’s digitalization has led to improved process efficiencies, enhanced transparency, reduced cycle times, and heightened bidder trust.
  • Consequently, greater competition and savings have been observed, along with reduced waiting times and timely payments to sellers.

Inclusive Marketplace:

  • GeM provides equal opportunities for startups, MSMEs, women entrepreneurs, artisans, and craftsmen to participate in government tenders, thereby fostering an inclusive business environment.

Growth Trajectory

  • GeM witnessed an 88% growth in FY 22-23, surpassing the INR 2 lakh crore GMV milestone.
  • Its expansion into diverse service offerings contributed to its success, boasting a vast portfolio comprising over 11,600 product categories and 300+ service categories.

Benefits of GeM

  • Unified Procurement Platform: GeM serves as a unified platform connecting buyers, sellers, and service providers, simplifying procurement processes.
  • Efficiency and Cost Reduction: GeM facilitates cost-effective procurement processes, empowering sellers from diverse backgrounds, including women entrepreneurs, artisans, and startups.
  • Seamless Registration and Dynamic Platform: GeM prioritizes ease and convenience in registration, while continuously updating its platform with new categories based on stakeholder feedback.
  • Diverse Procurement Modes and Contract Management: GeM offers various procurement modes such as direct purchase, bidding, and L1 procurement, along with auto-generated contracts tailored to buyer specifications.

Future Roadmap

  • GeM plans to expand its reach by integrating government buyers across all tiers into its e-procurement infrastructure.
  • Leveraging advanced AI/ML technologies, GeM aims to enhance fraud detection, data analytics, and supply chain management.
  • Additionally, it explores augmented and virtual reality for a more immersive procurement experience and is expanding its catalogue of ‘Green’ products to support environmental goals.

Conclusion

  • Within a short span, GeM has established itself as a leading buyer-seller ecosystem, surpassing the operations of Amazon India and Flipkart combined.
  • GeM’s success lies in its ability to streamline procurement processes, foster transparency, and offer competitive rates from multiple vendors to government buyers.

 

EASE OF FILMING IN INDIA

Promotion of Ease of Filming in India: Government Initiatives

Establishment of Film Facilitation Office (FFO):

  • In 2015, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) established the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) under the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
  • FFO assists foreign filmmakers in obtaining necessary permissions and provides information on shooting locations and industry facilities for production/post-production.

Direct Facilitation by State Governments:

  • Besides FFO, State Governments also directly facilitate filmmakers, many having independent portals to handle applications.
  • Efforts are underway to integrate State portals with the National Single Window System on FFO’s revamped portal for enhanced ease of business.

National Ranking System:

  • The Ministry annually releases a national ranking system, evaluating the film-friendliness of states based on ease of filming parameters.

Promotion of Federalism and Collaboration with State Governments:

  • India’s film industry encompasses productions in over 40 languages, with major production centers across various states.
  • To ensure widespread implementation, the Government of India collaborates with all State and Union Territory governments.
  • Nodal officers are appointed in every state and union territory to facilitate coordination and implementation of the ease of filming framework.

Film Incentives:

  • The government offers incentives for foreign filmmakers, reimbursing up to 40% of eligible production expenses incurred in India, with a maximum cap of Rs 30 crore.

Promotion of AVGC Sector:

  • A Promotion Task Force was set up to boost the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) sector, resulting in a liberalized incentives scheme for foreign productions involving significant Indian content.

FDI through Automatic Route:

The film and television sector allows up to 100% FDI through the automatic route, simplifying investment procedures.

 

CABLE TELEVISION NETWORKS (REGULATION) ACT, 1995 DECRIMINALISED

Notification of Amendments: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has introduced amendments to the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.

Operational Mechanism: These amendments establish the operational framework for implementing the decriminalized provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

Decriminalization of Section 16:

  • Section 16 of the original act previously stipulated penalties, including imprisonment up to 2 years for initial contraventions and 5 years for subsequent offenses.
  • Through the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provision) Act, 2023, the punitive measures outlined in Section 16 have been replaced with monetary fines and non-monetary measures like advisories, warnings, and censure.

Current Status: Presently, there are over 1400 multi-system operators registered with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Impact of Decriminalization: Decriminalizing contraventions and substituting them with civil penalties is expected to enhance stakeholder confidence and facilitate a more business-friendly environment.

 

GST AND EASE OF DOING BUSINESS

Goods and Services Tax (GST): Transforming India’s Tax Landscape

  • Significance of GST: GST represents the most significant indirect tax reform in India since independence, aiming to establish ‘One Nation, One Tax, One Market’ principle.
  • Integration of Levies: It amalgamates various Central and State levies like Central Excise duty, Service tax, VAT, and Purchase tax, fostering a unified economic environment.
  • Promotion of Economic Integration: GST dismantles economic barriers and fosters an integrated national economy, eliminating inter-state trade hurdles.
  • Mitigating Tax Cascading: By mitigating the cascading effect of taxes, GST enhances the overall business environment and market competitiveness, promoting ease of doing business.

Performance of GST

  • Expansion of Tax Base: Over the last six and a half years, GST’s tax base has nearly doubled, reaching around 1.4 crore, with record-high revenue collection of Rs 1,87,035 crore in April 2023.
  • Focus on Efficiency: GST emphasizes reducing compliance burdens, ensuring seamless movement of goods across states, and streamlining laws and procedures through the Goods and Service Tax Network (GSTN), enhancing efficiencies.
  • Reduction in Compliance Costs: Compliance costs have decreased significantly, as GST reduces the need for maintaining multiple records for different tax authorities, resulting in resource and manpower savings for taxpayers.
  • Success Factors: Automation and standardization have played pivotal roles in the remarkable success of GST implementation.

Taxation System and Ease of Doing Business

  • Impact on Ease of Doing Business: The taxation system, including GST, significantly influences a country’s position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.
  • Improvement in Rankings: India’s ascent in the Ease of Doing Business Index, from 142 in 2014 to 63 in 2019, underscores the positive impact of economic and tax reforms, including GST.
  • Positive Response to GST: A recent survey by Deloitte reveals a 70% incrementally positive response from business leaders towards GST implementation.

Conclusion

  • Despite initial challenges, GST is hailed as a transformative reform, facilitating ease of doing business and enhancing supply chain efficiency.
  • The proactive efforts of the GST Council have made this reform a resounding success, fostering equity and effectiveness in the taxation system.
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