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In news:

India and US on Tuesday signed a $3 billion defence deal which include the deal for 24 MH-60 Sikorsky Romeo multi-role helicopters and six Apache attack choppers.

In brief:

  • Indian Air Force is already using the Apache helicopters. Boeing has already delivered 17 of 22 Apaches on order by the IAF, with the remaining five to come by March 2020.
  • India will sign a deal for six additional choppers at an estimated $930 million for the Army.
  • AH-64E helicopters are replacements for the Russian origin Mi-35s and are known for their ability to take down high-value targets.

BS VI Fuel Cess May Be On Cards

In News:

Indian OMCs (oil marketing companies) have made a representation to the government to recover about Rs. 35,000 crore invested in upgrading their refineries to produce BS VI fuel.

In Brief:

  • The government, in a move to fight pollution, will implement Bharat Standard (BS)-VI emission norms by April 1, 2020.
  • Recently, the Supreme Court refused to grant permission to automobile dealers to sell and register vehicles following the Bharat Stage-IV standard emission norms beyond April 1, 2020
  • The OMCs plan to recover this money by imposing a cess ₹0.70 to ₹1 on every litre of petrol and diesel.

Sulphur content:

  • India adopted Euro-III equivalent (or Bharat Stage-III) fuel with a sulphur content of 350 ppm in 2010 and then took seven years to move to BS IV that had a sulphur content of 50 ppm.
  • Transition from BS IV to BS VI took just three years. In, BS VI, petrol and diesel contain just 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur.

Mauritius FPIs Can Continue To Invest In India, Says SEBI

In News:

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) said foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) from Mauritius will remain eligible for registration, but with increased monitoring.

In Brief:

  • The FATF, an intergovernmental organisation to combat money laundering, had placed Mauritius in its so-called “grey list” on February 21.
  • The island nation being placed in the grey list led to apprehensions that the Mauritius-based FPIs will not be able to trade in the Indian capital market.
  • This raised apprehensions among investment firms, fund managers and other market participants about whether this would have an effect on the registration of FPIs from Mauritius.
  • Hence, the regulatory clarification was necessitated after the country was placed in the list of ‘jurisdictions under increased monitoring’ commonly referred to as the grey list.

What is FAFT?

  • Established in 1989, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body, which sets standards and promotes effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. It works with countries to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms. The FATF’s decision-making body, the FATF plenary meets three times a year.

What is FAFT Grey List?

  • Jurisdictions under the ‘grey list’ face increased monitoring. When the FATF places a jurisdiction under increased monitoring, the country has to resolve swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes and is subject to increased monitoring. Currently, there are 18 jurisdictions identified as having strategic deficiencies, including Mauritius and Pakistan, as per the FATF.

Why was Mauritius placed under Grey List?

  • Mauritius has been a tax haven for foreign investors for the past three decades to bet on Indian stocks. For several years, there have been apprehensions about Mauritius being a money-laundering route for FPIs due to its limited regulatory oversight. But, the Indian Ocean island nation has been taking several steps in recent years to address the concerns. The country will work actively with the FATF to address strategic deficiencies in the regime to counter money laundering, terrorist finance.

Why are FPIs worried about FATF grey listing Mauritius?

  • A significant percentage of foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) investing in the Indian market is registered in Mauritius. The island nation is the second-largest source after the United States from which foreign portfolio investments come into the country. As per January NSDL data, assets under custody of US FPIs are worth Rs 11,62,579 crore and those from Mauritius stood at Rs 4,36,745 crore. Following the FATF notice, some fund managers knocked on Securities and Exchange Board of India’s.

EAC Defers Nod For Parliament Revamp

In News:

The apex environmental screening committee, Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), has deferred a decision on clearance to the Parliament redevelopment project.

In Brief:

  • This has been done on the grounds that there was a dispute, being heard in the Delhi High Court, regarding the land on which some of the proposed structures were to come up.
  • The petitioner in the Delhi High Court has pleaded that no environment clearance be given, as the alterations which are proposed will involve land-use change not in conformity with Delhi’s Master Plan.
  • The petitioner also prayed that no permission be granted to cut trees for the expansion and renovation of the Parliament building, which is part of the Central Vista Redevelopment project and involves redeveloping the 3-km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate in Lutyens’ Delhi.
  • The revamp, which was announced in September 2019, envisages a new triangular Parliament building that is targeted to be constructed by August 2022, when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day.
  • The CPWD applied to the environment ministry on February 12, 2020, as part of a formal process.

Trump Renews Offer To Mediate On Kashmir, But Skirts CAA

In News:

India and the United States strengthened their partnership with agreements on healthcare and energy, and issued a joint statement that designated the two countries as “Comprehensive Global Strategic partners”.

In brief:

  • The statement followed bilateral talks between Prime Minister and U.S. President during which the later renewed his offer to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and discussed the issue of “religious freedom”.
  • Mr. Trump said, referring to an MoU on LNG pipeline infrastructure signed between Indian Oil Corporation, and US companies ExxonMobil and Chart industries.
  • However, two pending agreements between LNG companies Tellurian and Petronet as well as the Westinghouse agreement for nuclear reactors have not yet been finalised.
  • The two sides agreed to a “joint working group” (JWG) on fighting narcotics as part of their homeland security dialogue and two MoUs on mental health and safety of medical products were signed