Govt okays sops for leather sector, waives fee for small digital payments

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The Cabinet on Friday cleared a Rs 2,600-crore proposal to boost job creation in the leather industry, lowered the merchant discount rate (MDR) on transactions up to Rs 2,000 through debit cards, BHIM UPI or Aadhaar-enabled payment systems to promote digital transactions, and approved a series of Bills, including one amending the Specific Relief Act to smoothen enforcement of contracts.

The Cabinet also approved a Bill to replace the Medical Council of India with a more representative and wider National Medical Commission

The Cabinet also approved another Bill to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, to provide for interim compensation to cheque payees at the trial and appeal stages.

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the MDR would be borne by the government for two years with effect from January 1, 2018, by reimbursing banks. This will have a Rs 2,512-crore impact on the exchequer.

Cabinet passes Bill to replace MCI

The Rs 2,600-crore package for the leather industry, along the lines of a textile package declared last year, aims to provide jobs to 324,000 people over the next three years through tax and non-tax incentives. These include enhanced funding for skill development and technological upgradation apart from introduction of fixed-term employment and government contribution to Employees’ Provident Fund in the footwear and accessories segments.

The government will bear the employers’ contribution of 3.67 per cent to the Employees’ Provident Fund for all new employees with salaries up to Rs 15,000 in these segments, enrolling them in the Employees Provident Fund Organisation for the first three years of their employment.

The government has decided to introduce fixed-term employment in the leather industry through the Industrial Employment (Standing Order) Act, 1946. The package also includes measures for simplification of labour laws.

A Bill that seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq “illegal and void” and provides for a jail term for husbands indulging in this practice was also cleared by the Cabinet. The Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill is expected to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament.