In order to facilitate trade, especially with Pakistan, the Union Cabinet on Friday approved pruning of negative list for trade with SAARC countries.

This will allow reduction of import duties of more items under bilateral trade. The negative list denotes items on which import duties may not be reduced. This change is line with the South Asian Free Trade Agreement.

IIIT autonomy

The Cabinet has also cleared a Bill that seeks to give IIITs administrative autonomy and enables setting up of 20 more such institutes at a cost of about Rs 128 crore each. The Centre will bear 50 per cent of the cost, the State Governments 35 per cent, while the rest will be borne by industry partners.

The Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Bill, 2012 is set to be introduced during the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament, reports said. PSUs have also been allowed to become partners in establishment of IIITs.

Currently, there are four IIITs funded by the Union Government at Gwalior, Allahabad, Jabalpur and Kancheepuram.

Street Vendor Bill

Separately, the Government also approved a Bill which aims to protect street vendors against harassment and regulate their activities in public areas. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation is likely to introduce the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill in the ongoing monsoon session.

The Bill will permit anyone over 18 years to register as a street vendor by paying a one-time fee. Vendors will be given with identity cards allowing them to sell their products in specified vending zones.

The Cabinet has also approved an amendment to the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organizations Bill, 2011, which puts restrictions on the bribery undertaken by foreign companies in India.

FCRA Bill deferred

Meanwhile, the CCEA has deferred the Forward Contract Regulation Bill for the third time, apart from decisions on NELP and ethanol price band as the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs couldn’t meet on Friday.

(This article was published on August 17, 2012)
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