Evening digest: IMF retains India growth forecast for next two years at 7.5%

GN Bureau | January 19, 2016

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) retained India's growth forecast for the next two years even as it pared the global estimate citing subdued demand and diminished prospects in its latest update of the World Economic Outlook. The update released today expects Indian economy to grow 7.5% in FY17 and FY18, the fastest among major economies. The IMF has pegged the current year's growth at 7.3%, same as last year. "The slowdown and rebalancing of the Chinese economy, lower commodity prices, and strains in some large emerging market economies will continue to weigh on growth prospects in 2016-17," it said, flagging the generalized slowdown in emerging market economies, China's rebalancing, lower commodity prices, and the gradual exit from an accommodative monetary policy by the US are seen as downside risks.

The IMF has called for demand support and structural reforms to contain the risks. For advanced economies, where inflation is still below the target rate, it suggests accommodative monetary policy continues. Fiscal stimulus programmes should be provided as needed and fiscal consolidation, where required, should be growth friendly and equitable. "Policymakers in emerging market and developing economies need to press on with structural reforms reforms to alleviate infrastructure bottlenecks, facilitate a dynamic and innovation-friendly business environment, and bolster human capital," it prescribed for the emerging markets.

25% of 18,452 unelectrified villages got power in 4 months
Government has electrified almost one fourth of 18,452 unelectrified villages since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement in his Independence Day speech last year that these areas will be provided power within 1,000 days. As many as 4,319 villages have been electrified so far which constitute over 23 per cent of the targetted 18,452 villages to be provided power by government, as per the information updated on Centre's Garv portal which provides details in this regard.

The process to electrify 940 other villages is on. Besides 1,457 villages are under energisation. The Centre has decided to provide power to 18,452 villages by May 1, 2018. The project has been taken up on mission mode and strategy for electrification consists of squeezed implementation schedule of 12 months with 12 Stage milestones for village electrification monitoring with defined timelines.

Tuki government to stay for now in Arunachal Pradesh
The Congress government led by Nabam Tuki in Arunachal Pradesh will stay for now, till the Supreme Court decides all issues involving an attempt by the opposition BJP and some rebel Congress legislators to overthrow the government there. "Who is governing Arunachal?" the court asked. "If there is a law and order problem who deals with it?" Lawyers for the ousted Speaker Nabam Rebia told the court that Tuki continued to be the Chief Minister and he would. A constitution bench comprising justices Jagdish Singh Khehar, Dipak Misra, Madan B. Lokur,  Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and NV Ramana began hearing the case of legitimacy of Arunachal Pradesh government yesterday.

However, the ousted speaker of the Tuki government sharply resisted a court suggestion to have a house session to have a floor test with a new pro tem Speaker and decide the new leader while it decided the issue of disqualification of rebel Congress MLAs which has sparked off the constitutional crisis there. His lawyers pre-empted any attempt to impose presidents rule in the state telling the court that they do not want a floor test till the issue of disqualification was settled.

Indian power sector at inflection point: World Economic Forum report
India's power sector is at an inflection point and most of its electricity demand in the next two decades will be met by burning fossil fuels despite huge investments in renewables, WEF said today. Calling for developing an integrated outlook for the country's energy sector, the World Economic Forum (WEF) report said tariffs and rates for fuel pricing, costs that are passed through to customers, and peak power policies and pricing should all be transparent and consistent across states.

"India's power sector is at an inflection point, given the government's conviction that electricity is a critical enabler for economic growth," the report said. Titled 'The Future of Electricity in Fast-Growing Economies Attracting Investment to Provide Affordable, Accessible and Sustainable Power', the report has been prepared by WEF in collaboration with consultancy Bain & Company. "Even with the huge investments in renewables, most of the electricity consumed in India over the next two decades will be generated by burning fossil fuel, and India can do much to improve the efficiency of the existing power infrastructure," it added. Besides, the country needs to fix the viability of its distribution system and address fuel supply challenges.

Jayalalithaa launches 'Amma Call Centre' for grievance redressal
In an initiative aimed at quick delivery of government services, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa today launched a round-the-clock call centre for ensuring fast response to grievances. The 'Amma Call Centre', which will work all through the year, was launched by the chief minister here through video-conferencing.

Jayalalithaa is fondly addressed as 'Amma' (mother) by her supporters and her government is already running many initiatives named after her, including the hugely popular 'Amma Canteens' which provide subsidised food, and 'Amma Mineral Water', among others. Equipped with latest technology like Computer Telephony Integration and Voice Logger System, the centre will initially handle upto 15,000 calls a day, with 138 operators recruited for the purpose. Their numbers will be expanded based on the requirement, the release added.

Suspected Swine Flu death in Ghaziabad
Swine Flu or H1N1 influenza cases have begun to surface in Ghaziabad district, with a 47-year-old woman dying of health complications at a private hospital on Monday afternoon. District chief medical officer (CMO) said that 2-3 more suspected cases of the viral infection have been reported in the district so far. The hospital authorities at Yashoda Hospital at Nehru Nagar in Ghaziabad said that the woman tested positive for Swine Flu and succumbed on Monday afternoon.

“She arrived with complications of breathlessness, restlessness and other Swine Flu symptom, and died a day later. SheHer swab sample tested positive for the H1N1 virus. We have sent her samples to the health department,” said Dr Sangeeta Sharma, chief medical superintendent at Yashoda Hospital. She added that they also have one more patient, a 64-year-old male, admitted in the hospital, who is also a suspected Swine Flu case. The patient is reported to have arrived from Bareilly.

Vintage car rally organisers move SC over ban on diesel vehicles
Organisers of a vintage car rally on Tuesday moved the supreme court against a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order banning diesel vehicles which are more than ten years and petrol vehicles of over 15 years. The rally will be held between Delhi and Gurgaon on February 6-7. The bench led by chief justice of India TS Thakur said that it would deal with this issue along with air pollution matters.

Petrol price in Delhi up by 96 paise a litre, diesel by 53 paise
Petrol price in Delhi was today hiked by 96 paise per litre and diesel by 53 paise after the state government raised VAT or local sales tax on the two fuels. Petrol now costs Rs 59.99 per litre as against Rs 59.03 a litre previously. A litre of diesel now costs Rs 44.71 as opposed to Rs 44.18 previously. The Delhi government last night raised VAT on petrol to 27 per cent from 25 per cent, resulting in a 96 paise a litre hike in retail pump rates. The VAT on diesel was increased from 16.6 per cent to 18 per cent. A pollution cess of Rs 0.25 per litre is also levied on diesel.

Kashmiri Pandits observe 25th anniversary of exodus
Kashmiri Pandits held a protest demonstration outside the Raj Bhavan in Jammu on Tuesday, as they marked the day in 1990 when they left the Kashmir Valley in droves, a year after militancy had erupted. The protesters, who called it the ‘holocaust day’, also submitted a memorandum to governor NN Vohra and demanded a judicial probe into the community’s exodus. “The names of those responsible for the mass exodus should be made public,” said Ravinder Raina, president of the All State Kashmiri Pandit conference. About 57,000 families left the Valley in the early nineties and most of them settled down in Jammu and other parts of the country. A few thousand Pandits stayed put in the Valley.



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