Saturday, May 13, 2017

PAKISTAN, CHINA SIGN SERIES OF AGREEMENTS


l_141617_120937_updatesPakistan and China on Saturday signed a series of agreements in Beijing for cooperation in different sectors.
Three agreements pertaining to economic and technical cooperation worth 3.4 billion Yuan for Gwadar port and East Bay expressway were signed, according to media reports.
Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) related to cooperation within the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road initiative, upgrading the main railway line track ML-I, and the establishment of Havelian Dry Port were also signed.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Chinese premier Li Keqiang. Federal ministers, Advisor on Foreign Affairs and chief ministers of all four provinces were also present on the occasion.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is leading a high-level delegation to China, met Chinese President Xi Jinping and his counterpart Li Keqiang on Saturday.
In the meeting with the Chinese president, PM Sharif said the presence of all the chief ministers [of Pakistan] shows the importance our nation gives to Pak-China ties.
“China is our strategic partner, and has always stood by our stance on the Kashmir issue,” said the premier.
The benefits of the Chinese investment of $56 billion with regards to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will soon reach the common man in Pakistan, he added.
On the meeting with the Chinese president, PM Sharif said the presence of all the chief ministers [of Pakistan] shows the importance our nation gives to Pak-China ties.
“China is our strategic partner, and has always stood by our stance on the Kashmir issue,” said the premier.
The benefits of the Chinese investment of $56 billion with regards to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will soon reach the common man in Pakistan, he added.
Earlier, after his meeting with the Chinese premier, Sharif said that Pakistan considers China its most important friend and fully backs Beijing’s One Belt One Road Initiative. He said participation of key world leaders in the forum is a good omen.
“We all stand as one for CPEC and Pakistan is determined for its early completion,” the Pakistani PM said.
After the meeting between the two heads, ministers from the two sides signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) of multiple agreements between China and Pakistan. These included agreements on the upgradation of Pakistan Railways system as well as development of an international airport in Gwadar.
The PM is accompanied by chief ministers of all four provinces, as well as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Railways Minister Saad Rafique, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir and IT Minister Anushay Rehman, among others.
The prime minister will attend the inaugural session of the One Belt One Road Summit, a plenary meeting of high-level dialogue and the state banquet.
The prime minister will also attend leaders’ roundtable sessions scheduled to be held on the second day of the forum.
As many as 28 heads of state and government, over 50 leaders of international organisations, over 100 ministerial-level officials, as well as over 1,200 delegates from various countries and regions will participate in the forum.
The forum will build consensus and connect development strategies of various countries and will also examine cooperation in key areas and finalise major projects in infrastructure connectivity, trade and investment, financial support and people-to-people exchanges, according to a senior official of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

JUSTICE MUDGAL ELECTED HEAD OF FIFA GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE

Justice (Retd) Mukul Mudgal was today elected as head of FIFA’s governance committee at the world football governing body’s 67th Congress in Bahrain’s capital city of Manama.
Justice Mudgal’s name was proposed by the FIFA Council yesterday for the vacant position of the governance chief after Miguel Maduro was reportedly ‘fired’ for his role in blocking Russian World Cup official Vitaly Mutko from retaining his seat on ruling council.
The FIFA Council proposed to the 67th FIFA Congress a list of members of both chambers of the independent Ethics Committee, the Disciplinary Committee, the Appeal Committee, the Audit and Compliance Committee, and the Governance Committee. Each list of candidates was presented for election to the FIFA Congress today, each for a term of office of four years which would come into effect immediately.
Justice Mudgal was appointed deputy chairman of the governance committee
in May last year during the FIFA Congress in Mexico.

SAKSHI MALIK, VINESH PHOGAT & DIVYA KAKRAN WIN SILVER

Three Indian women wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Divya Kakran bagged silver medals in their respective categories in the Asian Wrestling Championship in New Delhi today after losing out their final bouts.
Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik lost her final bout against Japan’s Risako Kawai in 60kg category. Sakshi wrestled for the first time in women’s 60kg category after jumping up the weight division from 58kg. Vinesh Phogat lost the final in women’s 55kg category and Divya Kakran in 69 Kg to settle with silver medals.
Earlier today Ritu Phogat, in women’s 48kg, went down in her semifinal bout to Yui Susaki of Japan 0-9 to lose out on a place in the final but would fight for the bronze medal. Pinki, meanwhile, was the lone Indian to have lost in the quarterfinal round of women’s 53kg to bow out of the tournament early.

CBI ARRESTED SUNIL KAKKAD

CBI today arrested the promoter of a telecom company from Mumbai in connection with a Rs 126 crore bank loan scam case. CBI informed that the promoter of Click Telecom, Sunil Kakkad, was arrested for allegedly cheating a consortium of State Bank of India, Canara Bank and Vijaya Bank to the tune of Rs 126 crore. The agency had registered the case against Kakkad in 2015.
CBI spokesperson R K Gaur informed in Delhi that the telecom company had allegedly been sanctioned several credit facilities, including cash credit, term loan and non- fund based limits (LCs), to the tune of Rs 126 crore.
It was further alleged that this company had won the bid for launching of BSNL VVOBB (voice and video over broad band) project in southern and eastern zones of the country and the accused inflated the project costs to obtain huge funds from the banks.
Cumulative funds involved in seven cases against him are over Rs 900 crore, the CBI sources said, adding that funds of Corporation Bank, SBI, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, Allahabad Bank, Bank of Baroda and Vijaya Bank were siphoned off in these cases. Kakkad will be produced in a special court in Mumbai tomorrow.

EC: EVMS WITH VOTER VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL

Election Commission has said, it will hold all future elections using Electronic Voting Machines with Voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT).
Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told this to reporters after holding an all-party meeting in New Delhi yesterday. The meeting was convened to discuss the issues relating to the reliability of EVMs and VVPATs and electoral reforms.
Mr Zaidi said, the Commission will also offer an opportunity to all political parties to prove that EVMs used in the recently held polls were tampered with or can be tampered.

US IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON PAK-BASED TERRORISTS, HAFIZ SAEED’S JAMAAT-UD-DAWAH GROUP

US has imposed sanctions on Pakistan-based extremists and an organisation run by Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawah group.
Director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, John Smith said, the sanctions seek to disrupt the financial support networks of terrorists who have provided support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ul-Dawa al-Qu’ran, Taliban, al-Qaeda and Islamic State terror group.
Mr Smith said, the US continues to aggressively target extremists in Pakistan and the surrounding region, including charities and other front groups used as vehicles to facilitate illicit terrorist activities.

MASSIVE CYBER ATTACK STRIKES ORGANISATIONS IN SEVERAL COUNTRIES

A massive cyber-attack has struck organisations in several countries. Computers in thousands of locations were locked by a programme that demands equivalent of 300 US dollars to unlock the systems. A large number of hospitals across Britain were hit by the cyber-attack, shutting down their computer systems and forcing the cancellation of patient appointments.
Britain’s National Health Service said, hospital computers were infected with a type of what they called ransomware that blocks the use of a computer system. Hospitals in areas across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no evidence that patient data had been compromised in the attack. Similar incidents were reported from the United States, China, Russia, Portugal, Italy and many other countries

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HIS MAJESTY KING OF CAMBODIA, KING NORODOM SHIAMONI!

Happy birthday, His Majesty King of Cambodia, King Norodom Shiamoni! Crowned as the King of Cambodia in 2004, King Norodom was a former ballet dancer and instructor who was best known as a cultural ambassador in Europe. His birthday is observed as the national holiday in #Cambodia. During this celebration, government buildings and public places in Cambodia are decorated with flags and the King’s photo.
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MOB VIOLENCE AND THE HINDU RASHTRA

हिंदू राष्ट्र और हिंसक भीड़ 
तारीख: मई 13, 2017     वक्त : 5.30 बजे दोपहर से
 वक्ता – जिग्नेश मेवानी ,सुभाष गाताडे , नेहा दीक्षित , बोनोजीत हुसैन 
स्थान: गाँधी पीस फाउंडेशन दीनदयाल उपाध्याय  मार्ग, नई दिल्ली
-:आयोजक:-
कंसर्नड  सिटीजन्स कलेक्टिव
संपर्क : 9718479517, 9810523018, 9811807558
Mob Violence and the Hindu Rashtra
Day: 13 May, 2017; Time: 5.30 PM
 
Speakers: Jignesh Mewani, Subhash Gatade, Neha Dixit, Bonojit Hussain
 
Venue:  Gandhi Peace Foundation,
Den Dayal Uppadhyay Marg, New Delhi
 
-:Organiser:-
 
Concerned Citizens Collective
Contact : 9718479517,  9810523018, 9811807558

THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING EUBIQ.

EUBIQ ADDED 2 NEW PHOTOS TO THE ALBUM THANK YOU BY EUBIQ & TEAM.
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Thank You for choosing Eubiq. We are honored and privileged to be part of potentially the most important project of your lifetime, your home sweet home! Well, look at the smiles, what else is more important than that right … : ) Congratulations & Happy Moving In!
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THIS IS THE WORST EXPERIENCE OF OUR LIVES

“We are so tired, conditions here are much worse. We need proper shelter, to be able to wash. This is the worst experience of our lives. We have had to flee again and again.”
Dear friend
This is what an ethnic Kachin family told me in March when I visited the refugee camp they were sheltering in near Myitkyina, Kachin State. They had first fled their home in 2011 after attacks by the Burmese army and were living in a refugee camp. But they had to run for their lives again, with their 8 children, when the camp was attacked by the Burmese army in December last year.
It was near midnight when they heard the fighter jets and then the bombs dropped on the camp. They had to leave everything behind and run. After spending a month living in temporary shelters near the border with China, they eventually made their way to this camp. The local community is doing its best to help the hundreds of refugees that have arrived in recent months, but everything is in short supply and conditions are harsh.
This family had to run from Burmese army attacks
This family had to flee attacks by the Burmese Army. Their family of ten now have to live in this tent.
And what they want is so simple. They want to go home to their villages, to be able to farm their land again. To be able to live in peace.
They need our help. The military continues to attack ethnic villagers and block efforts for democratic reform and peace.
Burma Campaign UK is working hard to raise awareness of these abuses by the military and keep up the pressure on the military to stop the attacks. But we are struggling to raise the funds needed.
That’s why next Saturday I’m running a sponsored 10K run with my colleagues, Karin Valtersson and Doug Janke. Honestly, I’m not looking forward to it as I’ve never run that far before. But I hope you can make our efforts worthwhile and sponsor our run today.
Please do make a donation and help us help people in Burma who have literally had to run for their lives.
Thank you so much for your support.
Anna Roberts
Executive Director
Burma Campaign UK

SURJANA S MEHTA, SEND ME YOUR SUGGESTION

Dear Surjana S Mehta,
I am writing to you to see if you have a new idea for women safety and empowerment.
We at the Ministry of Women & Child Development have formulated the National Policy for Women. It has been a 2 year process with several stakeholder consultations.
This transformative policy will address the needs of women in the New India and also guide the functioning of the Government in decades to come.
We have a draft ready and before we conclude it, I am seeking some out-of-the-box ideas and suggestions from you that could be incorporated into the policy.
Surjana S Mehta, I have been happy to take action on Change.org petitions supported by you. We have taken steps to ease the passport rules for children of single parents and control the alarming rates of caesarean section births.
I would now like to hear your suggestions for this policy by the 15th May 2017. Click on this link to submit your suggestion.
You can also send your suggestions on Twitter and on the Facebook page of the Ministry. Don’t forget to add#NationalPolicy4Women on all your suggestions.
Thank you for participating in developing this Policy for Women.
Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Minister For Women and Child Development

BOLLYWOOD ACTORS TO REVEAL THEIR RAMLEELA CHARACTERS

PRESS INVITATION

LuvKush Ramleela Committee cordially invites
You to attend the cover of Press conference and to share 
with you the uniqueness of

LUV-KUSH RAMLEELA
(Bollywood actors to reveal their Ramleela characters)

Guests:
–    Mukesh Rishi (Indian film actor)
–    Vindu Dara Singh (Indian film actor)
–    Shubhi Sharma (Bhojpuri actress)
–    Vishal Kanwar (television actor)
–    Ashok Aggarwal (Chairman of Ramleela Committee)

Time   : 11:30 a.m.
Date    : 14th May, 2017 (Sunday)
Venue :
  Constitution Club of India, Rafi Marg

You are requested to send correspondents/photographers/camera crew for the Ramleela.


R.S.V.P
Shailesh Giri
9811222325(M)

THREAT TO LIFE FROM RIGHT WING GROUPS

Shri Rajnath Singh,
Home Minister,
Government of India,
New Delhi

Dear Sir,

Many people believe that in the last few years an atmosphere of fear and oppression has built up in the country. The space for critical thinking and free speech has shrunk. Anyone expressing a contrary viewpoint is easily cast as being anti-national. Writers and free thinkers and activists have been repeatedly threatened and in some cases the threats have resulted in ugly violence and even murder. Sadly, the culprits behind some of these killings are still at large and forces inimical to liberty and democracy are only gaining in strength.

For the last seventeen years I have written about fundamentalist and anti-national forces undermining our constitutional democracy and freedom and how these forces have been behind the orchestrated killings of innocent men, women and children. Some of this work has been done in the face of great risk and danger. And my articles have been used in the courts of law to convict those guilty of mass carnage. A list of some of my writings on the related subjects is attached as Annexure I.


Yesterday I received a threatening letter at my office claiming that my killing is imminent. The letter advocates the cause of terror accused Sadhvi Pragya and those who are accused of killing the noted rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, the political activist from Maharashtra, Govind Pansare, the scholar, MM Kalburgi, and many other innocent Indians. It then pronounces my death sentence with the threat that it will be carried out soon. A copy of the letter is attached as Annexure II.

It is pertinent to mention here that those who are suspected of gunning down Dr Dabholkar and Pansare are still out of the reach of law enforcement agencies. Similarly, the prime accused in terror cases like the Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express bomb blasts have been absconding for almost a decade, with our agencies conspicuously failing to bring them to justice. The parent organisations to which these accused belong have also gained in prominence.

Sanatan Sanstha, Abhinav Bharat, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, Hindu Rakshak Samiti, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini, Sri Ram Sene, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, have all been found to be involved in acts of violence and communal riots in several parts of the country. Often these organisations have common members and leadership. They also keep assuming new identities. Evidence collected by agencies and available with the government suggests that they are all part of the same hydra –headed social and political group.

The letter sent to me is a chilling reminder of the growing confidence of anti-national and fascist forces who want to exterminate all dissenting voices with violence. The language used in the letter is seemingly similar to many threats that Dabholkar had received immediately before he was brutally killed.


I had received a similar threat letter in July last year. I had then sent a complaint to Police Commissioner of Delhi. A copy of the complaint is attached as Annexure III. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a response.

Besides, Sanatan Sanstha, a right wing organization, had openly threatened me in the past. Evidence of the same is attached as Annexure IV.

The track record of the present NDA government suggests that if a similar incident had happened with a BJP leader or member of the larger RSS parivaar, the response of the police machinery would have been contrastingly different.

I would like to urge you not to treat this is as an individual matter. I am writing this on behalf of scores of journalists, activists, artists, writers and ordinary citizens across the country who have been threatened or attacked by the right wing forces.

In the ardent hope that the present government will carry out its constitutional duty of protecting liberty and democracy, I am writing you this letter.

US SPY REPORT,PAKISTAN-BASED TERROR GROUPS PLAN TO ATTACK INDIA, AFGHAN

A top US spymaster has said that Pakistan-based terrorist groups are planning to attack both India and Afghanistan.
Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence told members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during a Congressional hearing on Worldwide threats that Islamabad has failed to curb militants and terrorists in Pakistan.
Coats said, these groups will present a sustained threat to the United States’s interest in the region and continue to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan. Pakistan, he rued, is expanding its nuclear arsenal in pursuing tactical nuclear weapons, potentially lowering the threshold for their use.
Coats said, Pakistan is concerned about international isolation and sees its position of India’s rising international status including India’s expanded foreign outreach and deepening ties to the United States.

SC:TRIPLE TALAQ IS WORST AND UNDESIRABLE

Supreme Court today said the practice of triple talaq was the worst and undesirable form of dissolution of marriages among Muslims, even though there were schools of thought which termed it as legal.
This observation came on the second day of continued hearing on the matter, when former Union Minister and senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who is assisting the court in his personal capacity, told the bench that it is not an issue where judicial scrutiny is required and moreover women have the right to say no to triple talaq by stipulating a condition to this effect in ‘nikahnama’.
The court asked Mr Khurshid to prepare a list of Islamic and non-Islamic countries where triple talaq has been banned.
The bench was then informed that countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia do not allow triple talaq as a form to dissolve marriages.

DATATYPE: GROWTH IS WHEN JOB, WAGE & SOCIAL SECURITY TO WORKERS

Union minister for Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya today said, Economic growth is meaningful only when there is Job, wage and social security to workers.Addressing the 48th Session of Standing Labour Committe in New Delhi, he said, his government’s priority lies in ensuring benefits such as social security to reach workers in the unorganized sector. Mr. Dattatreya further added, proposal of social security to Anganawadi workers through Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) is being considered and shall be implemented soon.
Standing Labour committee representatives of employers, state governments and trade unions have gathered for the 48th session of Standing Labour Committee(SLC). SLC to consider action taken report on recommendations of 46th Indian Labour Conference and finalize the Agenda for 47th conference.

MODI:INDIA & SRI LANKA NEED ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Prime minister Narendra Modi has said that the friendship between India and Sri Lanka is etched in time as Buddhism imparts an ever present radiance to their relationship.
India’s development cooperation with Sri Lanka amounts to 2.6 billion dollars.
He stressed its aim is to support the neighboring country in realizing a peaceful, prosperous and secure future for its people. Sri Lanka strengthened its ties with China during its former administration. China has been making large investments to develop ports and cities there as part of its “One Belt, One Road” economic zone initiative.
But there has been a backlash from residents who oppose China’s long term leases of their ports and land.
PM Modi, Inaugurating the three-day conference of UN Vesak day celebrations in Colombo today, Mr. Modi said relations between the two neighbours is spread across many layers and lives in the hearts of people. Prime minister said that the economic and social well being of the people of Sri Lanka is linked with that of 1.25 billion Indians and only aim of India’s development cooperation with Sri Lanka is to support it in realizing a peaceful, prosperous and secure future. Highlighting the theme of conference ‘Social justice and Sustainable peace, Mr. Modi said the biggest challenge to Sustainable World Peace today may not be necessarily from conflict between the nation states but from the mindsets and instruments rooted in the idea of hate and violence.
He said the menace of terrorism in region is a concrete manifestation of this destructive emotion and deplored that such forces are not open to dialogue. Prime minister expressed firm belief that Buddhism’s message of peace is the answer to growing arc of violence all over the world. Mr. Modi said the world also owes a debt of gratitude to Sri Lanka for preserving some of the most important elements of the Buddhist heritage. He announced a direct Air India flight between Colombo and Varanasi to deepen links of Buddhist heritage. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in his address thanked PM Modi to be the chief guest on the occasion saying his presence has brought popularity to Vesak day celebrations.
Prime Minister also visited the biggest Buddhist temple of tooth relic in Kandy and was blessed by Mahanayakas. He unveiled a plaque for construction of a cultural school to preserve Kandyan traditions and knowledge, a project funded by India. He had visited the biggest Buddhist temple in capital Colombo yesterday to offer Puja and inaugurate a lighting for Vesak celebrations. Earlier addressing a gathering of Tamils of Indian origin in Norwood, Prime Minister said that India rejoice success of its diaspora and look forward to success stories from them. Most of the Tamil community are employed in tea plantations and the Prime minister said that the community should feel proud of its forefathers and salute their spirits which made people all over the world familiar with Ceylon tea.
He also inaugurated a multispecialty hospital at Dickoya which has been built with Indian assistance. Prime minister announced for setting up of 10 thousand additional houses in hill country region. He also announced that the emergency ambulance service established with Indian funding in two of the nine provinces of Sri Lanka will be extended to the whole country.
China defended its military relationship with Sri Lanka as good for regional peace and stability after Sri Lanka rejected a request from China to dock one of its submarines in Colombo this month.
China’s Defence Ministry, in a statement sent to Reuters, did not directly mention the rejected request for the submarine visit, but said its submarines needed a place to resupply on their way to anti-piracy missions.
“The stopping to resupply of our military’s submarines that are on their way to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters for protection missions is an internationally accepted practice,” the ministry said.
In recent years, the Chinese and Sri Lankan militaries had had fruitful and effective cooperation in areas like mutual visits and training, it added.
“The cooperation between the Chinese and Sri Lankan militaries is beneficial to regional peace and stability, is not aimed at any third party and should not be interfered in by a third party,” the ministry said, without elaborating.reports media reports of Reuters

TPP MEMBERS TO PURSUE DEAL

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says that he will not oppose an Asia-Pacific free trade deal that may take effect without the participation of the US.Ross stressed on Tuesday that the US will seek bilateral deals to reduce its trade deficit.
US pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in January. The remaining 11 member countries, including Japan, are pursuing the possibility of getting the deal implemented without the US.
The Pacific-Rim countries will hold a ministerial meeting in Vietnam in late May to discuss the trade deal. A media correspondent says the US administration is eager to not only protect domestic manufacturers, but also to boost exports of US farm goods.
He also said that the administration may start pressuring trade partners to enter bilateral negotiations. NHK

NISSAN MOTOR REPORTS DECLINE IN PROFITS

Nissan Motor has reported a decline in profits for the fiscal year that ended in March.
Nissan’s consolidated earnings report shows sales for the last fiscal year came to about 103 billion dollars. That’s down 3.9 percent in yen terms from the previous year.
It says operating profit fell to 6.5 billion dollars, a decrease of 6.4 percent. It was the first decline in 3 years.
Nissan expects that operating profit for the year to next March will fall even further, by 7.7 percent.
The company says it expects another decline this fiscal year, too.
Officials blame the stronger yen and the higher cost of raw materials for the disappointing performance.
The firm is forecasting that higher prices for materials will drag down profits by about 790 million dollars

SOFTBANK INVESTS $5 BIL. IN DIDI CHUXING

Softbank Group is investing 5 billion dollars in China’s biggest ride-dispatch firm.
Sources say Softbank has already provided funds to Didi Chuxing through a subsidiary.
Didi has an overwhelming share of the Chinese market. Customers can request taxis and other cars using its smartphone apps.
Softbank apparently believes the business still has plenty of room to grow.
Didi is expected to use the money to step up development of self-driving and other technologies.
Softbank’s investment is far larger than the one billion dollars that US IT giant Apple sank into Didi last year. Media agencies

RBI RELEASES STATE FINANCES: A STUDY OF BUDGETS OF 2016-17

         
       Recent growth pattern in IIP (Base Year: 2004-05)                                                                                               (% growth)
 Weight in IIPApril-March  2015-16April-March 2016-17Feb -17Mar -17
Mining14.12.22.23.37.9
Manufacturing75.52.0-0.1-2.01.3
Electricity10.35.74.70.35.8
Overall IIP1002.60.4-1.2-1.2
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the report entitled “State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2016-17”, that provides information, analysis and an assessment of the finances of state governments. It is the primary source for disaggregated state-wise fiscal data and delineates the changing dynamics of fiscal federalism over the years. The theme of this year’s report is the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The key highlights of the report are:
· Introduction of GST would have economy-wide ramifications in terms of growth, inflation, government finances and external competitiveness over the medium-term.
· It is likely to champion a new course for cooperative federalism in India, focusing on collaboration between the Centre and states.
· GST remains the best bet for state governments in returning to the path of fiscal consolidation without compression of productive expenditure.
· GST implementation challenges should be addressed through a robust dispute resolution mechanism; with the goods and services tax network (GSTN) expected to provide the necessary information technology (IT) infrastructure to all stakeholders.
· Greater devolution of resources through statutory transfers would provide states with the flexibility to prioritize their expenditure in sync with their development objectives.
· From a medium term perspective, debt sustainability of states is likely to be the key factor in shaping the evolving contours of state finances.
Fiscal Position of State Governments–The consolidated fiscal position of states deteriorated sharply during 2014-15 and 2015-16 (RE). Although states budgeted for an improvement in 2016-17 (BE), data for 25 states (RE) show some deterioration in fiscal position. Relaxations in market borrowings provided by the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FC-XIV) have allowed many of the states to mobilise additional resources. Despite the increase in the debt burden of the states in recent years, the overall fiscal position is found to be sustainable in the long run. Based on information pertaining to 25 states, the consolidated gross fiscal deficit to gross state domestic product (GFD-GSDP) ratio is budgeted to moderate to 2.6 per cent in 2017-18.
Major Deficit Indicators of State Governments (Rs. Billion)
 
Source: RBI, Note: Avg: Average RE: Revised Estimates. BE: Budget Estimates. Note: 1. Negative (-) sign indicates surplus. 2. Figures in parentheses are percentages to GDP. 3. The ratios to GDP at current market prices are based on CSO’s National Accounts 2011-12 series.
Goods and Services Tax: A Game Changer–The GST is likely to roll out on July 1, 2017. Given the cross-country experience and empirical evidence on efficiency gains from the Value Added Tax (VAT) in the Indian context, report added that implementation of GST is likely to ensure higher tax buoyancy and an improvement in government finances over the medium term
Issues and Perspectives–GST implementation brings several issues to the fore viz., determination of the revenue neutral rate, consensus on the divisible pool of resources, sharing the benefits of cesses, the administrative edifice and the technological platform. A dispute prevention mechanism would facilitate a smooth transition to the GST. The evolution in central transfers and evolving fiscal federalism will have a key bearing on the health of state finances over the medium term.
Way Forward–The fiscal position of state governments in India improved significantly since 2004- 05 after the implementation of fiscal rules through the enactment of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Acts / Fiscal Responsibility Legislations (FRLs) and introduction of debt and interest relief measures by the Central Government. These initiatives were also supported by a favourable macroeconomic environment following the high growth phase and a reversal of the interest rate cycle in the mid-2000s. In the recent period, particularly during the last couple of years, signs of fiscal stress have re-emerged on the back of poor performance of state public sector enterprises (SPSEs). The recent initiative by several state governments of assuming additional debt liabilities as part of financial and operational restructuring of state power distribution companies (through issuance of UDAY bonds) has led to deterioration in fiscal health of states. This has been reflected in the worsening of key fiscal indicators. It is expected that states will take necessary steps to renew their efforts towards fiscal consolidation and reduce their liabilities.
The successful implementation of GST will result in additional revenue through simpler and easier tax administration, supported by robust and user-friendly IT systems. The GST is expected to reduce administrative costs for collection of tax revenue and improve revenue efficiency. Moreover, uniformity in tax rates and procedures across the country will economise on compliance cost. It will also lead to increase in the shareable pool of resources, resulting in larger central transfer to the states which, in turn, will enable them to undertake much needed developmental expenditure. Such an outcome would ensure debt sustainability for states in the long term. In fact, the GST is likely to set a new course for cooperative federalism in India by strengthening Centrestate partnership.

EC PROCEEDINGS OVER EVM ISSUE

An all-party meeting convened by the Election Commission over the issue of Electronic Voting Machines, EVMs and other electoral reforms in which the  Leaders of all National and 35 State recognized parties participating in the meeting. Last month, sixteen opposition parties had urged the poll body to revert to the paper ballot system saying that the alleged tampering has created trust deficit in the credibility of the EVMs.
However, the commission has been maintaining that EVMs are tamper proof and cannot be manipulated.
The poll panel intends to use Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units attached with EVMs in the coming elections for greater transparency and to keep voters’ confidence in the electoral process.
Election Commission on Friday said it will offer political parties an opportunity to prove that electronic voting machines used in the recent assembly polls were tampered with.
A ‘challenge’ is on the cards, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told a meeting of political parties in New Delhi, going on record for the first time regarding the EC’s proposed move to counter allegations of EVM tampering.
“Although use of VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail system) with EVMs will ensure total credibility and transparency and put to rest all controversy, the Commission will, after today’s meeting, hold a challenge,” he said.
It will offer opportunity to political parties to demonstrate that EVM used in recent elections were tampered with or that EVMs can be tampered with even under strict technical and administrative safeguards as applicable during elections, Zaidi said.
He, however, did not give any date for the proposed challenge which he announced in his opening remarks at the meeting. Zaidi also said the Commission has ‘no favourites’ and it was equidistant from all parties.
“You should be convinced that EC has no favourites…we maintain equidistance from all parties and groups. It is our constitutional and moral duty to stand dead centre of the circle drawn around us by 56 political parties (seven national and 49 state recognised parties),” he said.
His remarks come against the backdrop of Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal reportedly questioning the independence of two Election Commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat.
He had claimed in an interview that the two ECs were close to the Bharatiya Janata Party governments in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh respectively.
Following the allegations, Rawat had recused himself from the cases related to disqualification of AAP MLAs the commission is hearing.

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