The Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) is not inclined to accede to the
steel industry’s demand for re-imposition of safeguard duty on imports of various hot-
rolled coil (HRC) products and sheets, as it reckons the conditions for such a remedial
step don’t exist right now.

“The DGTR is not convinced with the industry data and is unlikely to reimpose
safeguard duty since the prevailing situation of the domestic industry is not as same as
in 2016, when the government had to initiate a series of measures to rein in rising
predatory imports,” said a source.

Safeguard duty is generally imposed in the event of a sudden surge in imports which
causes or threatens to cause serious injury to the domestic industry.

India became a net importer of steel in 2018-19 after a gap of three years. As imports
to India were surging, the government had imposed a series of tariff and non-tariff
measures to successfully arrest the trend. Most of the barriers imposed then like
minium import price (MIP), safeguard duty and anti-dumping duty have either expired or
become redundant in view of the prevailing high international prices.

Meanwhile, local prices have started showing a downward trend of late due to anaemic
demand from construction and auto industries, the two prime drivers of steel
consumption.

  • Naveen Jindal-promoted Jindal Steel & Power Limited (JSPL) has sold off one of its
    major international ventures, Botswana coal mine to Maatla Energy for $150 million.
    The sale is part of the company’s plan to monetise its global assets to pare debt at the
    group level.
  • Barely a week after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s assurance to corporate
    entities to review the jail-term provision in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) law,
    a high-level committee has recommended that non-compliance with CSR norms be
    made a civil offence and moved to a penalty regime.
  • This is a departure from the recent policy change which had provided for a three-year
    jail term for violating CSR norms.
  • The committee chaired by Injeti Srinivas, secretary, corporate affairs ministry,
    submitted its recommendations to Sitharaman, suggesting that CSR expenditure be
    made tax deductible, in order to incentivise CSR spending by companies. “There is a
    need to address the distortions in CSR spending arising from prevalent tax structure.
  • It has suggested a provision to carry forward unspent CSR balance for three to five
    years.
  • According to the new CSR norms under Section 135 of the Companies Act a company
    has to earmark a part of its profit for social activities and transfer all unspent amount to
    an escrow account if it is an ongoing project.
  • The CSR expenditure which remains unspent in three years would be transferred to
    any fund specified in Schedule VII of the Companies Act such as the Swachch Bharat
    Kosh, the Clean Ganga Fund, and the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
  • The committee has recommended that Schedule VII be aligned with the sustainable
    development goals to include sports promotion, senior citizens’ welfare, welfare of
    differently abled persons, disaster management, and heritage protection.
  • The idea behind this is to ensure that the CSR amount should be spent by the
    company — “it must not be lying with the company.”
  • It has also suggested third-party assessment of major CSR projects and bringing CSR
    under the purview of statutory financial audit. CSR spending will have to become part
    of the financial statements of the company. The committee has said that companies
    having CSR prescribed amount below ~50 lakh may be exempted from constituting a
    CSR committee.
  • Government may identify 5% of the CSR mandated companies on a random basis for
    third-party assessments.
  • The other recommendations of the committee include developing a CSR exchange
    portal to connect contributors, beneficiaries and agencies, allowing CSR in social
    benefit bonds and promoting social impact companies.
  • Barring meat, fish and pulses, the prices of various commodities still appear to be
    subdued as rate of retail inflation is still below 4% for 12 months in a row.
  • The retail inflation rate based on consumer price index (CPI) dropped in July to 3.15%
    as against 4.17% in July 2018
  • The Union power ministry wants the coal ministry to ramp up commercial mining.
    According to official sources, power minister RK Singh has been emphasising the need
    to create open coal market which, in turn, will facilitate an open power market. The
    power ministry feels that power producers should be able to buy coal from open
    markets at competitive prices and power purchase agreements (PPAs) should not be a
    precondition for getting access to coal.
  • Commissioned power projects which have PPAs but no commensurate fuel
    arrangements, are eligible to apply for special e-auctions of coal, where, electricity
    generators allege,
  • To attract private players, the Cabinet in February 2018 had approved the auction
    methodology for commercial mining. Even after that, several auctions had to be
    cancelled as they could not even elicit three bidders to participate. In February 2019,
    the Cabinet allowed private companies to sell up to 25% of production from captive
    coal mines in the open market. Earlier this month, the coal ministry started the auction
    process of 27 coal mines and allotment of 15 coal mines to government companies.
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) launched the fifth edition of
    Swachh Survekshan 2020 (SS 2020), an annual cleanliness survey. The survey will be
    conducted in January 2020.
  • Puri also launched Swachh Survekshan 2020 tool-kit which has the detailed survey
    methodology and component indicators with scores to help cities to prepare
    themselves for the survey.
  • The Ministry also launched the Water PLUS Protocol which aims to provide a guideline
    for cities and towns to ensure that no untreated waste-water is released into the
    environment thereby enabling sustainability of the sanitation value chain.
  • Launching Swachh Survekshan 2020, themed Cleanliness is Our Right, the minister
    Hardeep Singh Puri said the survey’s major focus has always been on citizen
    engagement, be it through feedback or indicators involving their participation. He said
    the citizen-centric focus has been enhanced substantially this year.
  • The minister said 24 states and more than 3,800 cities have been certified Open
    Defecation-Free (ODF) by now. “More than 98% of our toilet construction targets have
    been met. We are on track to achieve our sanitation targets,” the Union housing and
    urban affairs minister said.
  • Now, use app to get household waste picked up by civic bodies
  • The Centre launched a mobile application through which people will be able to get their
    household waste picked up by urban municipal bodies. People will have to pay to civic
    bodies to avail the service through Swachh Nagar app. They can also track the waste-
    collection vehicle on the app, ensuring accountability of municipal corporations,
    according to the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry.