Import of Onions, Regularisation of Unauthorised Delhi Colonies: Key Decisions Approved by Cabinet

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a number of key decisions, including the import of onions to improve domestic availability of the kitchen staple and a bill granting ownership to those living in unauthorised colonies in Delhi. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of these decisions, including several proposed bills, after a meeting of the Union Cabinet as the Parliament sits for its winter session.

Here are some of the important decisions:

1. The Food Ministry's recent decision to import 1.2 lakh tonnes of onions amid a shrinking domestic supply was approved by the Cabinet. The government will also facilitate private imports and relax phytosanitary and fumigation norms from the global market.

2. The Cabinet approved a bill to grant ownership rights to people living in unauthorised colonies in the national capital. The proposal is applicable to 1,797 identified unauthorised colonies spread over 175 square-km of the national capital inhabited by people from lower income groups.

3. In a major relief to telecom companies, the Cabinet approved a two-year moratorium for spectrum payments. The move to defer payments for 2020-21 and 2021-22 will give a relief of Rs 42,000 crore to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio.

4. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave a green signal to sell the government's stake in the state oil firm BPCL, shipping firm SCI and onland cargo mover Concor, in what is being touted as the biggest privatisation drive the country has seen.

5. The Cabinet approved a bill to replace an ordinance promulgated to reduce corporate tax to 22% in order to boost the economy. Sitharaman said the revenue foregone on reduction in corporate tax and other relief measures would be Rs 1.45 lakh crore annually.

6. The CCEA approved amendments to the Toll Operate Transfer model for national highways. National highways that have generated revenue for a year after the commercial operations date will be monetised through this model.

7. The government will enact a bill to recycle ships as per international standards and laying down the statutory mechanism for enforcement of such standards, Sitharaman said. The bill prohibits the use of hazardous material, which applies irrespective of whether a ship is meant for recycling or not.

8. The Industrial Relations Code Bill, which seeks to impart flexibility to the exit provisions for which the threshold for prior approval of appropriate government has been kept unchanged at 100 employees, but a provision for changing 'such number of employees' through notification has been added.

9. In a boost to the construction sector government entities will be permitted to pay 75% of arbitral amount of contractors against bank guarantees in cases where the entities have challenged the arbitration awards.

10. The Cabinet approved setting up of the National Institute for Sowa-Rigpa in Leh as an autonomous organisation. Sowa-Rigpa is a traditional Tibetan system of medicine practised in the Himalayan belt of the country.