The Cabinet approved the PP Bill that would regulate government purchases of over Rs50 lakh and also has a provision to debar bidders found engaged in corrupt practices
New Delhi : The Cabinet on Thursday approved a bill that seeks to regulate government purchases of above Rs50 lakh through a transparent bidding process, reports PTI.
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the Public Procurement Bill that has a provision to debar bidders found engaged in corrupt practices, sources said.
Currently, there is no overarching legislation governing public procurement by the central government and central public sector enterprises. The General Financial Rules, 2005, govern procurements made by the Centre.
The bill provides for a jail term ranging from six months to five years for public servants found guilty of demanding and accepting bribes from bidders of government contracts, the sources added.
It is based on the recommendations of Committee on Public Procurement headed by former bureaucrat Vinod Dhall which were accepted by a Group of Ministers to tackle corruption on February 22.
The GoM headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had sent the bill for the approval of the Union Cabinet.
Without popularising any easy-to-use and failure-safe alternative, the Railways are phasing out coupon booklets that can be purchased from ticket windows and validated by punching at starting station across the Mumbai suburban rail network
To avoid the long rush at the railway ticket counters, Mumbaikars have an easy option of using coupon vending machines (CVMs). Unfortunately, this would now be a thing of past. From March 2013, these coupons will not be available as the Railway board has decided to phase out them from circulation. This move is aimed to popularise the Railways’ own automatic ticket vending machines (ATVM) where a smart card (issued by the Railways) is used for buying tickets and season passes. However, passengers association are disappointed with the announcement. Just recently, the Railways also stopped selling coupons directly and instead asked commuters to buy it by standing in the queue, similar to other ticket buyers.
Vidyadhar Malegaokar, chief public relation officer, Central Railway, told Moneylife that, “It was an old notification from the railway ministry. We had requested them for an extension. Accordingly, the CVMs will be phased out by March 2013. Already ATVMs are been installed across stations. Once we have alternative, CVMs will be removed. At present, around 15% of ticket sales, on average, are coming through ATVMs.”
At present, across railway stations of Mumbai, there are 350 CVMs and 250 ATVMs on the Central Railway and 230 CVMs and 175 ATVMs on the Western Railway stations. On the Central Railway network, there are about 428 ticket booking windows that sell around 10 lakh tickets every day.
However, passenger associations have criticized the move calling it a deliberate attempt to kill the popular CVM scheme. “CVMs are easy to operate and popular among commuters. Earlier the railways allowed passengers to buy coupons without standing in the queue. But according to a circular, from 1st April, people have to stand in queue to buy coupons. Obviously, there is no rationale here. Commuters will migrate to ATVMs, which in reality is complicated to use. ATVMs just mean the railways will get full payment in advance,” said Madhu Kotian, president, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.
Mr Kotian adds that, “Unlike CVMs where only the coupon had to be punched, while using an ATVM a passenger has to give five commands. People who cannot read the instructions would not be able to use this; unlike the CVMs. Plus many of these expensive machines are non-functional. Instead they should have increased the number of CVMs. At the end only passenger will have to suffer.”
For using the ATVMs, the commuter needs to buy a smart card and then top it up or refill (similar to adding talk time in mobile) in multiples of Rs50. The smart card carries a deposit of Rs50, which means this money would be locked and remain with the Railways and you cannot use it for buying tickets. For buying tickets through the ATVMs, you need to refill it with minimum Rs50. The Railways offer a 5% discount on every refill, which means if you loaded the card with Rs100, then the refilled amount would be Rs105.
For using ATVMs, the commuter has to place his smart card on the sensor screen, select language (Marathi, Hindi or English), select appropriate zone, starting and destination stations, add number of adults and children and then give the print command.
Subhash Gupta, president, Yatri Sangh Mumbai, seconds the view. “There is a huge popularity of CVMs among the passengers. The reason behind long queues is the less number of ticket counters. Phasing out coupons will add to the problem. The Mumbai Division (railway) is already short of staff. So there is no hope for any additional ticket counter or window at any station. CVMs are easier to use as compared ATVMs, which can be used by people who can read or do any ATM transaction. We will demand with the railway board to not put an end to CVMs.”
He adds that, “Unless there is dedicated staff to resolve the technical problems, as often these machine breakdown, passengers won’t have any relief. These factors have to be considered by the Railways.”
At present, there are some facilitators (mostly Railway employees) at a few ATVMs who sell tickets to commuters by using their smart card. They also help commuters in buying tickets through these machines. However, their number is limited and they are not available at every station or ATVM.
Under the law, only those manufacturers, who can provide proof of using genuine hardware and licensed software, would be allowed to export and sell, either directly or indirectly through third parties
New Delhi: Industry body FICCI raised concerns over a new competition law in the US which states that only those manufacturers who can provide proof of using genuine hardware and licensed software should be allowed to export to America, reports PTI.
In an effort to create level-playing field between competing manufacturers globally, some of the US states have passed a new competition law.
Under the law, only those manufacturers, who can provide proof of using genuine hardware and licensed software, would be allowed to export and sell, either directly or indirectly through third parties.
“The law could have serious implications for Indian exporters to US,” FICCI said in a statement.
While the first laws were passed in the states of Washington and Louisiana on 4 November 2011, attorney generals of 39 US states have signed a resolution to combat unfair trade practices in manufacturing by preventing usage of illegal or stolen IT (i.e. non-genuine and unlicensed software).