New Delhi: The government will soon unveil a package for power sector and go ahead with structural reforms to achieve the objective of ‘One Nation One Grid’, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Friday. The minister in her maiden budget speech also assured that all willing rural households will have cooking gas and electricity connection by 2022, the 75th year of India’s independence. She however kept mum on details of the package for power sector. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep”Our government launched Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) in 2015 aimed at financial and operational turnaround of DISCOMs. The government is examining the performance of the scheme and it will be further improved,” the minister said. UDAY was launched in November 2015 with an objective of turnaround of debt-laden power distribution utilities in the country. “We will work with state governments to remove barriers like cross subsidy surcharges, undesirable duties on open access sales or captive generation for industrial and other bulk power consumers. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs”Besides these structural reforms, considerable reforms are needed in tariff policy. A package of power sector tariff and structural reforms would soon be announced,” Sitharaman said. She further said that to take connectivity infrastructure to the next level, the government will build on the successful model of ‘One Nation, One Grid’. She proposed to make available a blueprint this year for developing gas grids, water grids, information-ways, and regional airports. Talking about the recommendations of the high level empowered committee on retirement of old and inefficient plants, and addressing low utilisation of gas plant capacity due to paucity of natural gas, she said suggestions would also be taken up for implementation now. In November last, the panel had recommended the government that the Ministry of Power and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas may jointly devise a scheme in line with the earlier e-bid RLNG Scheme (supported by Power System Development Fund) to revive gas-based power plants. The government has taken necessary action on all recommendations of the panel except regarding revival of gas based power plants. Under the earlier scheme, the government had provided subsidy to stranded gas-based plants and those running at sub-optimal level, to buy expensive imported gas. Lauding the government’s two mega initiatives of Ujjwala Yojana and Saubhagya Yojana she said,”by 2022, the 75th year of India’s independence, I would like to assure the nation that every single rural family, except those who are unwilling to take the connection, will have an electricity and a clean cooking facility.”
“We commend the commitments made at the High-Level Partnership Forum to deliver a transparent and inclusive electoral process in 2016, to strengthen security and to accelerate the delivery of concrete results to the people of Somalia,” they said in a joint press statement issued today.The statement by the UN, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the European Union (EU), the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, follows the two-day forum held in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, last week.Co-hosted by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, the forum reviewed the country’s progress in political, security and economic sectors.The press statement noted that the commitment to immediately start a national consultation to agree on an electoral process for a timely transfer of public office in 2016 is a positive step.“We also agree that the 2016 electoral process, based on inclusive consultations in the coming months, must represent an improvement on the 2012 process and be a steppingstone toward universal ‘one person, one vote’ elections,” it added.Somalia’s international partners will follow progress closely and will make decisive efforts to help the people of the country meet these deadlines.“Most immediately, we welcome the commitment to finalise by 15 August a detailed action plan for the national consultations on the 2016 electoral process,” said the statement, adding that such a plan should reflect the views of all stakeholders, in particular the Federal Parliament and the authorities in all the regional administrations.“We urge all parties to engage seriously and urgently in finalizing this work and then to play a full role in the national consultative process.”“Somalia’s international partners stated their resolve to the timely implementation of the commitments taken and agreements reached and to continue to support the goal of a united, federal and democratic Somalia, at peace with itself and the rest of the world,” said the statement.Last week, the Security Council authorized the Member States of the African Union to maintain the deployment of AMISOM until 30 May 2016, and extended the mandate of the UN Special Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until 30 March 2016, underlining the importance of both missions strengthening their relationship to ensure support for the country’s political process.