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Cabinet clears policy to double agri exports

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the Agriculture Export Policy, aimed at increasing India’s exports to $60 billion by 2022 from the current $37 billion, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu announced.

“We have managed to increase agriculture exports to $37 billion from $30 billion in just one year,” Mr. Prabhu said at a press conference. “With this policy, we aim to increase that to $60 billion by 2022. This is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of doubling farmers’ income.”

The objectives of the policy are, apart from doubling farmers’ income, to diversify the export basket and destinations, and to boost high-value and value-added exports, with a focus on perishables.

The policy also aims to promote the export of “novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional” products, according to a press release. The objective also is to provide an institutional mechanism for market access, tackling barriers, and dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary issues.

In order to do this, the Centre will work with the State governments to create clusters that can focus on particular crops.

Separately, the Cabinet also gave its ‘in-principle’ approval for the strategic sale of the government’s existing 52.63% total paid up equity shareholding in Rural Electrification Corporation to the Power Finance Corporation, along with the transfer of management control.

“In my Budget speech, I had said that where multiple PSUs are operating in the same sector or area, the government was move to consolidate them,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at the press conference. “The earlier proposal was for REC to take over PFC, but the proposal of the Power Ministry was accepted, and now PFC will be the holding company and REC will be the subsidiary.”

“The acquisition intends to achieve integration across the power chain, obtain better synergies, create economies of scale and have enhanced capability to support energy access and energy efficiency by improved capability to finance power sector,” the press release said. “It may also allow for cheaper fund raising with increase in bargaining power for the combined entity.”

Cyber security

In a third decision, the Union Cabinet approved the launching of the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) to be implemented by the Department of Science &Technology at a total outlay of Rs 3,660 crore over five years.

“The Mission addresses the ever increasing technological requirements of the society, and takes into account the international trends and road maps of leading countries for the next generation technologies,” the press release said.

The Mission target the establishment of 15 Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH), six Application Innovation Hubs (AIH) and four Technology Translation Research Parks (TTRP).

“These Hubs & TTRPs will connect to academics, industry, central ministries and state government in developing solutions at reputed academic, R&D and other organisations across the country in a hub and spoke model,” the government said.

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