Regulations
Cabinet approves REITs under FEMA
The union cabinet on Wednesday approved the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) as an eligible financial instrument/structure under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) 1999.
 
The approval is expected to enable foreign investment inflows into the completed rent yielding real estate projects, which is, as of now, prohibited under the FEMA Regulations.
 
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
As a result of this decision, entities registered and regulated under the SEBI (REITs) Regulations 2014 will be able to access foreign investments which as of now are prohibited under the FEMA Regulations.
 
The intent of introducing the instrumentality of REITs is to reduce pressure on the banking system to which the real estate sector looks for funds, free up existing funds of banks and encourage construction activities. 
 
REITs while attracting long term finance from foreign and domestic sources including NRIs would make available fresh equity to the sector.
 
The finance minister in his budget 2014-15 speech proposed the introduction of REITs. 
 
The REITs have been found to be successful instruments for pooling of investment by several countries for investments in real estate, with a view to earning income and distributing earnings from its investments to investors, who have contributed to the pooled corpus.

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Cabinet approves amendments to whistleblowers act
The union cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the Whistlebowers Protection Act, 2011 aimed at strengthening safeguards against disclosures which may affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country.
 
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
An official release said the amendments would address concerns relating to national security and the amendment bill will be moved during the budget session of parliament.
 
"This is being done with a view to incorporate necessary provisions aimed at strengthening safeguards against disclosures which may prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country, security of the state," it said.
 
The Public Interest Disclosures and Protection to Persons making the Disclosures Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Lok Sabha in August, 2010 in order to give statutory protection to whistleblowers in the country.
 
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in December, 2011 and by Rajya Sabha in February last year. The bill has received the assent of the president in May last year.
 
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday accused the government of not properly implementing the act.

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Cabinet gives approval to pension, insurance schemes
The union cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval to operationalising three social sector schemes - Atal Pension Yojna (APY), Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY).
 
The decisions, aimed at "creating a universal social security system for all Indians", were taken at meeting of the cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
"Approval of the cabinet was given to extend funding support for implementing the APY and apprise the cabinet on operationalisation of the PMJJBY and the PMSBY. Approval was also given to provide Rs.50 crore per annum for the next 5 years as the government contribution for publicity related expenditure for PMJJBY and PMSBY," an official release said.
 
Under the APY, subscribers would receive a fixed minimum pension of Rs.1,000-5,000 per month at the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which itself would vary on their age of joining.
 
The central government would also co-contribute 50 percent of the total contribution or Rs.1,000 per annum, whichever is lower, to each eligible subscriber account, for a period of five years - from 2015-16 to 2019-20 - to those who join the national pension scheme before December 31, 2015 and who are not members of any statutory social security scheme and are not income tax payers.
 
The pension would also be available to the spouse on the death of the subscriber and thereafter, the pension corpus would be returned to the nominee.
 
The minimum age of joining APY is 18 years and maximum age is 40 years.
 
The benefit of fixed minimum pension would be guaranteed by the government.
 
Under PMJJBY, annual life insurance of Rs.2 lakh would be available on the payment of a premium of Rs.330 per annum by the subscribers.
 
The PMJJBY will be made available to people in the age group of 18 to 50 years having a bank account from where the premium would be collected through the facility of "auto-debit".
 
Under PMSBY, risk coverage will be Rs.2 lakh for accidental death and full disability and Rs.1 lakh for partial disability.
 
The scheme will be available to people in the age group 18 to 70 years with a bank account, from where the premium would be collected through the facility of "auto-debit".
 
The release said government expenditure was expected to range between Rs.2,520 crore and Rs.10,000 crore on account of its co-contribution to subscribers of APY over a period of five years.
 
An expenditure of Rs.2,000 crore for promotional activities for enrolment and contribution collection under APY and Rs.250 crore for publicity and awareness building for PMJJBY and PMSBY was envisaged by the government over five years.
 
It is expected that around two crore subscribers would be enrolled during the current financial year under APY.
 
The release said a large proportion of India's population was without insurance of any kind.
 
"Therefore, the government has decided to work towards creating a universal social security system for all Indians, specially the poor and the under-privileged, to address longevity risks among workers in the unorganised sector and to encourage workers in the unorganised sector to voluntarily save for their retirement," it said.
 
It said unorganised sector workers constitute 88 percent of the total labour force of 47.29 crore, according to the 66th Round of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) Survey of 2011-12.

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COMMENTS

vishal

2 years ago

It is difficult to say much about pension schemes in the present state of country's economy. But the Insurance schemes can definitely help, provided the Banks and Insurance companies bring it to the notice of their customers. A lot of people have Bank accounts with out basic Insurance cover. The cost is not much but having a big Insurance Policy is some times difficult.

REPLY

MG Warrier

In Reply to vishal 2 years ago

Sooner or later, India has to debate the rationale for back-door introduction of NPS, denying an existing benefit to future employees of select organisations. None of the reasons put forth is convincing. The defined benefit pension scheme is retained for legislators, defence employees and all those who were in service prior to January 2004. The theory of increasing financial burden does not stand reason in such a situation.

MG Warrier

2 years ago

Atal Pension Yojana will provide some work and funds to the administrators of NPS. If authorities are genuinely interested in providing social security, efforts to harmonise the working of Employees Provident Fund Organisation and PFRDA is essential. For workers in the organised sector, the responsibility of ensuring adequate post-retirement care should fall on the employer. Defined-benefit pension scheme should be restored in organisations which should be guided to create pension funds based on actuarial studies. The thoughtless introduction of NPS has made pension system lose its credibility. GOI should at this late hour revisit the whole issue instead of making ‘popular’ announcements about social security. Finally, the bill for providing social security will be back at the doors of the tax-payer. There will be some relief, if the employees demand and get wages with built-in retirement benefit component and employers and employees together accept the responsibility of providing a post-retirement life to the employees commensurate with the life they lived while in service.

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