Friday, October 3, 2014

47 people have died 16 hikers missing on Mt. Ontake

Officials in Nagano Prefecture say 16 hikers may still be stranded on Mount Ontake.
The volcano straddling Nagano and Gifu prefectures erupted on Saturday. 47 people have died in the worst volcanic disaster in postwar Japan.The officials gave their estimate of the number of missing on Friday.They say they have received at least 500 inquiries about people whose fates remain unknown. They say their estimate is based on the number of hikers who had registered with the authorities and checks of vehicles that are still parked at the foot of the mountain. The officials have interviewed other climbers and relatives of the missing.
Police officers, Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel and firefighters plan to resume their search when the weather improves.
Mount Ontake started erupting shortly before noon on September 27th. The Meteorological Agency says it currently cannot confirm smoke from craters due to clouds near the summit. But it adds volcanic activity is continuing as minor tremors are being detected.The agency warns that the activity could intensify. It is calling on people within 4 kilometers of the craters to be on the alert for falling rocks and a flow of hot gas and ash.
The agency observed volumes of volcanic gas at the foot of the mountain. It recorded emissions of 500 to 1,500 tons of sulfur dioxide a day until Wednesday.
Volcanic activity is believed to be continuing, but smoke is not visible because of the bad weather.
The Meteorological Agency warns that the activity could intensify. It is urging people within 4 kilometers of the craters to be on the alert for flying rocks and flows of hot gas and ash. The agency has observed volcanic gas at the foot of the mountain. It recorded emissions of 500 to 1,500 tons of sulfur dioxide a day until Wednesday. Media agencies
Rashid Khan dominates round three, takes two-shot lead

Local favourite Muniyappa on Rashid’s tail

Eagleton – The Golf Resort, Bangalore, October 2, 2014: Delhi’s Rashid Khan posted the tournament’s best score, a seven-under-65, to take a two-shot lead on day three of the PGTI Eagleburg Masters 2014, the fourth Super Series event of the season. Rashid ended the penultimate round with a 16-under-200 total. C Muniyappa of Bangalore shot a 66 to be placed second at 14-under-202.

Rashid Khan (68-67-65), the overnight joint leader, maintained his position at the top of the heap with a sizzling 65 on Thursday. The Super Series Points leader tapped-in for birdie on the fifth before picking up strokes on the two par-5s, the seventh and 10th. Rashid, a four-time winner on the PGTI, helped himself to two more birdies on the 12th and 14th before a spectacular eagle-two on the 17th where he drove the green.  

Rashid, a winner on the Asian Tour in 2014, said, “It was an error-free round. I had a decent front-nine but really turned on the heat on the back-nine where I shot a five-under. I landed my tee shot just five feet from the flag on the 17th to set up the eagle that helped me close the day on a high. I hardly missed a green today and struck it really well. Muniyappa will be a tough competitor in the final round as he is from Bangalore and knows the course conditions well. He has also won at this venue. I’ll look to repeat today’s effort in the final round and try to keep the errors out.”

C Muniyappa (69-67-66) gained one place from his overnight tied third position to emerge as the main challenger to Rashid ahead of the final round. Muniyappa, the 2009 Indian Open champion, had a promising first-nine with birdies on the seventh and ninth. He added two more birdies on the 10th and 15th before sinking a mammoth 35-footer for eagle on the 17th.

“I have good memories of this course as I won my only PGTI event here in 2008. I play a lot at this course so I know where to place the ball and that gives me confidence going into the final round. I’m eager for a win as I lifted my last title five years back. I’ve struggled with injuries in recent years and now feel I’m back at the top of my game,” said Muniyappa.

Ajeetesh Sandhu (66-70-69) of Chandigarh shot a 69 on Thursday for a three-day total of 11-under-205. He made a 30-footer for eagle on the seventh and had four birdies and three bogeys.

Local favourite Chikkarangappa, the overnight joint leader, came up with a 72 to slip three places to tied fourth at nine-under-207. He was joined by another Bangalorean Khalin Joshi (68) in tied fourth place.

Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta and Manish Goyal of the DLF Golf & Country Club shot scores of 70 to share fourth place along with Chikka and Khalin.

INDIA Economic growth picked up but remained below potential

The economy expanded by 4.9% in the fiscal year 2013, up from 4.5% in the previous year. This rate is, however far below the 9.5% pace registered in the years prior to the global financial crisis. Subdued output growth pushed up the measured unemployment rate by one percentage to 4.7%.
A fragile global economy has weighed on growth in recent years, but delays in tackling structural impediments, such as rising inequality, high inflation, infrastructure shortages and public spending effectiveness, have also been important factors.
Tight monetary policy to contain inflationary expectations and capital flight also had and impact on domestic demand. Consumer confidence deteriorated with car sales in 2013 declining for the first time in a decade. Fixed investment also showed, in the with sluggish demand and higher interest rates.
The economy is expected to enjoy stronger growth momentum of 5.5% in the fiscal year 2014, underpinned by solid expansion in the Industrial and services sectors. Higher growth in the developed countries and the weaker local currency would support exports. The formation of a new Government after parliamentary elections in April-May 2014 also provides impetus to economic reforms.

Elevated inflationary pressure

The inflation rate remained at above 10% in 2013.  In addition to supply constraints, the weaker currency and cuts in fuel price subsidies are contributing factors.
High food inflation hit the poor harder, as they spend proportionally more on food purchases, especially cereals and vegetables. Food items account for close to half of the consumer price index in India.

Exports rebounded 
Merchandise exports resumed a positive growth in 2013 after a modest contraction in 2012. The pickup was mainly fuelled by strengthening import demand from developed economies but the weaker Indian Rupee also helped.
The current account deficit narrowed to 2.4% of GDP in 2013. In addition to the export rebound, the measures to curb sizeable gold imports also prayed a role.

Financial market volatility 
India experienced capital outflows and sharp currency deprecation in mid 2013 on speculation of a change in the United States monetary policy stance.
In response, capital flow management tools were introduced, such as lowering the limit on overseas investment. Moreover, after a steady decrease between January and September 2013, the policy interest rate was raised to stem capital outflows.
Macroeconomic imbalances, such as persistently high inflation and limited fiscal space, have constrained India’s capacity to weather capital flow volatility  more resiliently.
More heavily affected economies were those with large fiscal and current account deficits financed by external short term capital flows. This highlights the need for a deeper structural transformation to drive India’s dynamic competitive advantage.

Structural reform agenda 
India’s 12th National Development Plan (2012-17) emphasized the need for the country to reverse the recent economic slowdown, while ensuring that growth was more inclusive and sustainable. Tackling macroeconomic imbalances, particularly high fiscal and current account deficits, is cited as an immediate policy challenge.
Some of the country’s recent from initiatives include : relaxing caps on foreign investment in such sectors as retail and telecommunications; setting up an investment committee to speed up the implementation of large infrastructure projects; passing a food security act that provides subsidized food grains to two thirds of the population; and introducing clearer guidelines on the land acquisition process.
Regarding financial reforms, there are proposals to create a new category of banks that would focus on lending to small businesses and low income households and to introduce a structured monetary policy framework to increase central bank independence.
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Asia Pacific developing nations must unlock fiscal space to sustain growth dynamism

ESCAP flagship publication outlines ways to mobilize resources for sustainable development  

Bangkok (ESCAP News) - Asia Pacific developing economies are experiencing yet another year of subdued growth, the United Nations said here today, calling for quick action on the removal of domestic structural constraints and the unlocking of fiscal space to help stimulate growth and support social development.

Sturctural constaints, such as infrastructure and development deficts, along with external challenges, are keeping the region from realizing its economic potential, according to the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2014, the annual flagship publication of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Developing countries in the region are forecast to grow at an average of 5.8 percent in 2014, up from 5.6 percent last year. This marks the third successive year of growth below 6 percent. By comparison, growth averaged 9.5 percent in the pre-crisis years of 2005-2007 and over 7 percent in 2010 and 2011.

“The constrained domestic growth prospects of the region have underlined the importance of productive countercyclical public spending to support inclusive growth and sustainable development, “ United Nations under secretary general and ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said.

Trade driven East and North East Asia is expected to grow moderately at 4.1 per cent in 2014 against 4.2 percent last year. Subdued global commodities demand is forecast to lower North and Central Asian growth to 1.3 percent from 2.1 percent in 2013. Despite geographical challenges, Pacific island developing economies are projected to grow at 4.9 percent against 4.0 per cent last year. Growth in South and south-west asia is forecast at 4.7 percent in 2014 from 3.9 per cent last year. South East Asia’s economy is set to grow slower at 4.6 percent from 4.9 per cent last year.

Dr. Akhtar emphasized that developing economies in Asia and the Pacific are experiencing subdued growth for different reasons, including economic rebalancing and sustainability considerations in China, monetary tightening to flight and inflation in India and Indonesia, and the impact of geopolitical instability on the Russian Federation.

China India, Indonesia, and the Russian Federation are projected to grow at 7.5, 5.5, 5.4 and 0.3 percent, respectively in 2014 compared to 7.7, 4.7, 5.8 and 1.3 percent, respectively in 2013. The group of 12 least developed countries (LDCs) in the region are forecast to grow at 5.6 percent in 2014 –slower than the developing Asia Pacific average.

Inflation in developing Asia Pacific countries as a whole is projected at 4.8 percent in 2014 against 5.0 percent last year, but will be a concern for some large developing economies including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

Launching Survey 2014 in Bangkok, Dr. Akhtar stressed the urgency for bridging gaps in infrastructure and development in the region and addressing environmental degradation in order to promote higher, well balanced and sustainable growth. Another priority for ensuring the sustainability of growth is to better address climate change through improved climate finance.

ESCAP estimates an annual infrastructure development funding requirement of 800-900 billion in the region. At the same time, more than 60 percent of Asia-Pacific people lack social protection coverage. An estimated 63.1 percent of women and 56 percent of men in the region faced employment vulnerabilities in 2013 and youth unemployment is three times the adult rate.

External Challenges

Asia-Pacific countries are coping with the fallout of monetary and trade policies in the developed world. The withdrawal of quantitative easing by the United States has jolted regional financial markets. Survey 2014 estimates further financial market volatility, expected from the continued normalization of monetary policy in the United States, could cut annual growth by between 0.7 to 0.9 percent in India, India, Malaysia the Russian Federation, Thailand and Turkey.

Trade-restrictive measures in advanced economies outside the region may also have deprived Asia Pacific developing countries of 225 billion in goods export opportunities between 2009 and 2013, translating into a cumulative decline of more than 1.6% of regional economic output, the ESCAP analysis reveals.

Rising inequality

The growing disparity in incomes and access to social opportunities is a dampener on economic dynamism in Asia-Pacific developing countries says Survey 2014. The estimates indicate that the poorest 20% of people in 40 Asia-Pacific countries account for less than 10% of national income. The net wealth of about 49000/- ultra-wealthy individuals in the region – with atleast 30 million in assets – 17 times the combined GDP of Asia-Pacific least  developed countries.

Mobilizing finances for sustainable growth

Given high public debt levels and declining international development assistance, Survey 2014 outlines a blueprint for mobilizing resources for required productive government spending, focused on strengthening tax revenues which fall for short of potential in most Asia-Pacific countries. This tax gap is more than 5% of GDP in some countries, rising as high 12.5% of GDP in others. Closing existing tax gaps in 16 Asia-Pacific developing economies would increase total revenues in excess of 300 billion, boosting tax revenues by more than 70% in some countries, ESCAP estimates in Survey 2014 show.

ESCAP recommends broadening the tax base and rationalizing rates; tackling tax evasion and tax fraud; making tax administration efficient; careful sequencing of tax reforms, and better regional cooperation.

ESCAP also proposes the establishment of an Asia-Pacific Tax forum of experts and officials which it would coordinate to monitor tax legislation and regulations across the region, help develop regional best practice and address issues ranging from avoiding tax competition for foreign investment to double taxation and preventing the illicit transfer of funds.

The Survey 2014 makes a valuable contribution to the development discourse underway in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. It provides fresh data, new perspectives and policy guidance on issues which are critical to fostering more inclusive and sustainable development. “the ESCAP Executive Secretary said.

Please find the full report at http//  

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