Extends exemption from basic customs duty & CVD indefinitely, to give relief to hard-pressed industry

The Finance Bill passed by the Lok Sabha yesterday, to give effect to the Union Budget proposals, has removed the 2014 time bar it had earlier proposed on the duty exemption for thermal coal. In its earlier Budget proposals, the finance ministry sought to exempt thermal coal (also called steam coal, and used in thermal power generation) from the basic customs duty of five per cent and the concessional countervailing duty of one per cent till March 31, 2014.

The Union ministry of agriculture has decided to delay the rollout of the revamped Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) by a year, to the next financial year (2013-14).

Official sources said the ministry proposed to continue all its existing schemes under its flagship programme, RKVY, in the current financial year. The new plan approved by the planning commission has recommended pruning the number of schemes for better coordination.

The ministry of agriculture has advised all state government agencies to streamline the seed certification process to facilitate farmers in choosing high yielding seeds at a reasonable cost.

The agencies have been advised to ask private companies to select four to five of their high yielding varieties while seeking certification, and bring both older and new verities.

New scheme to include crop and price protection will encourage farmers to buy insurance products

The government proposes to roll out an integrated farmer security plan by reworking insurance schemes and consolidating all other risk management schemes to benefit farmers at large.

Framework of corpus in nascent stage, to come up in 2012-13 Budget

The government is planning to come up with a price protection fund to cushion the burden of food subsidy, which is expected to grow manifold under the new Food Security Bill. The proposed fund, under the ministry of food and consumer affairs, is a Budget proposal for 2012-13.

The Union ministry of food and consumer affairs proposes to insert a new clause in the fresh discussion note for the Cabinet on allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail. The Cabinet had decided to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail in November, but had put the move in abeyance, owing to political opposition.

A Planning Commission expert committee may soon recommend a revised price for ethanol, currently pegged at an ad hoc price of Rs 27 a litre.

NTPC has formed a joint venture company, National Power Exchange Ltd (NPEX), to set up a power exchange.

The law ministry has rejected the proposal of food ministry for direct manufacture of ethanol from sugarcane on a standalone basis and not only as a by-product of sugar by amending the Sugar Control Order under Section 3 of Essential Commodities Act.

Backed by the view of attorney general, law ministry has stated that the proposal could be considered under separate provisions and not under the