Archive for ‘Government’


China Focus: China to ramp up efforts to provide better elderly care

BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhua) — As China is faced with a growing aging population, the government has pledged to provide better elderly care services and facilities for the silver-haired, and give a strong boost to domestic demand.

Elderly care remains high on the agenda in this year’s government work report, which said that significant steps would be taken to develop elderly care, especially community elderly care services.

The number of people in China aged 60 and above reached 250 million by the end of 2018, accounting for 17.9 percent of the country’s population.

“Growing demand will trigger greater market potential in China’s senior care industry,” said Tang Wenxiang, founder of Fullcheer Group, a major elderly care services provider based in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province.

Fullcheer Group has 50 branches in more than 10 provinces and cities with a total of 5,000 beds. Tang expects the number of his company’s beds to increase to 50,000 in five years.

“There is still a huge gap between the demand of China’s aging population and the number of elder care facilities,” Tang said.

The country will provide support to institutions offering services in the community like day care, rehabilitation care, and assisted meal services and outdoor fitness services using measures such as tax and fee cuts and exemptions, funding support, and lower charges for water, electricity, gas and heating, according to the government work report.

Tang said government’s measures to develop elderly care services greatly boosted the confidence of entrepreneurs who run businesses in the sector.

Developing the elderly care industry is good for improving people’s well-being and stimulating consumption, said Xu Hongcai, an economist with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

“Consumption on elderly care requires the supply of the elder care market, offered by both the government and the market,” he said.

A research report issued by Guolian Securities suggests that a string of policies have been carried out in China to encourage the participation of the social sector in the senior care industry, which will boost the country’s consumption in the health and medical sectors.

As China opens this sector, foreign firms such as France’s Orpea and Japan’s Nichii have tapped the elderly service market in China.

China still lacks leading players in the senior care market which includes nursing care, rehabilitation assistive devices and daily necessities for seniors, Tang said.

The long-term care insurance system will help increase the occupancy rate of some elderly services facilities given a number of elderly people can hardly afford the expenses, according to Tang.

Source: Xinhua


Mamata Banerjee accuses government of trying to create ‘war hysteria’ after Pulwama attack

Mamata Banerjee claimed that her party Trinamool Congress(TMC) will win all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in the polls.

INDIA Updated: Feb 25, 2019 16:35 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Jaish-e-Mohammed,Narendra Modi,Lok Sabha polls
Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee during a press conference at Press Club of India, in New Delhi, on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (HT Photot)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee Monday alleged that though the Modi government had intelligence inputs about the Pulwama attack, it did not take any step as it was more keen on “playing politics over the dead bodies of jawans”.

Banerjee, while addressing the Trinamool Congress’s extended core committee meeting in Kolkata, vowed to oust the “dictatorial Narendra Modi government” from power in the upcoming general election.

She claimed that her party Trinamool Congress(TMC) will win all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in the polls.

“The central government was aware that such an attack can take place, there were intelligence inputs. Then why didn’t the government take action to protect our jawans. The government allowed them to die so that they can do politics over the dead body of jawans in the elections,” Banerjee said.

They want to create a “war hysteria” ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the TMC president alleged.

The central government is functioning in a peculiar way and union ministers are not aware of important decisions, Banerjee claimed.

“This government is being run by two brothers (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah), who have blood of innocents on their hands,” she said.

“Our party workers and cadre should be cautious as efforts are on to tamper EVMs (electronic voting machines) during the Lok Sabha polls. You all have to thwart those efforts,” she said. On February 14, 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir after a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into their bus in Pulwama district.

Source: Hindustan Times


‘PM has never given, only taken’: Rahul Gandhi slams Modi for denying ‘shaheed’ status to jawans

As the country mourned the Pulwama killings, there has been an increased demand for according ‘Shaheed’ status to the martyred jawans.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

In a fresh attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the “jawans gave their lives but have been denied the ‘Shaheed’ status.


In strong words, the Congress president said the “PM has never given and only taken”.

In an indirect reference to the government allegedly supporting industrialists like Anil Ambani, as accused by the opposition, Gandhi tweeted, “Jawans give their lives but are denied the status of “Shaheed”. While this man has never given & only taken. He’s gifted 30,000Cr of their money & will live happily ever after. Welcome to Modi’s NEW INDIA”.

As the country mourned the Pulwama killings, there has been an increased demand for according ‘Shaheed’ status to the martyred jawans.

The CRPF jawans were addressed as martyrs in resolutions passed in various state assemblies to condemn the terror attack and to announce compensation for the bereaved families from the respective states.

While the Madhya Pradesh government announced compensation of Rs 1 crore, the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments announced Rs 25 lakh each.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat also assured government jobs to one member from each family.

According to the set rules, the Central Government provides Rs 10 lakh as ex gratia for the death of jawans due to accidents in the course of duty or death due to terrorist acts in the line of duty. Apart from this, the wife of the dead jawan would receive a pension, which would go to parents if he is not married.

The government does not recognise the term ‘martyr’.

In December 2017, the government had informed the Central Information Commission that there was no term as ‘martyr’ or ‘shaheed’ in the army or the police. Instead, a soldier or policeman killed in action is called ‘battle casualty’ or ‘operations casualty’, respectively.

In 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Lok Sabha that the word ‘martyr’ is not used in reference to any casualties from the Indian armed forces during battle.

Earlier in 2015 too, the Government had informed the Parliament that the term ‘shaheed’ or martyr is not defined “anywhere” and that there is no official order to accord the same to defence or paramilitary personnel.

The CAPFs like CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF, SSB and NSG have made representations to the Union Home Ministry that ‘shaheed’ salutation is being demanded by the personnel of these forces.

Source: The Statesman

After 2 statistics panel members quit, Govt clarifies on jobs report, revised GDP data

Regarding the announcement of the back-series data, the ministry said the NSC had itself urged it to finalise and release it.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

A day after two independent members of the National Statistical Commission resigned over a disagreement with the Government, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation issued a clarification stating that “no concerns were expressed by the members in any of the meetings of the Commission in the last few months”.

NSC acting chairperson PC Mohanan and another member JV Meenakshi quit on Monday expressing concerns on the functioning of the panel including the release of the labour force survey results and the Back Series of GDP.

“I have resigned from NSC. We thought that the commission is not very effective nowadays and we also thought that we are not able to discharge the commission’s responsibility,” Mohanan told PTI.

“We have resigned from the NSC. Over the months, we have been feeling that we were not been taken seriously and being sidelined by the government. Recent decisions of the NSC were not being implemented,” Mohanan was quoted as saying by media reports.

Source: The Statesman


Modi govt past its expiry date, says Mamata Banerjee, hosts mega opposition rally

“Oust Modi,” was the leitmotif of speeches at the rally, held ahead of the Lok Sabha elections this year. “The country is waiting for a new Prime Minister,” said Akhilesh Yadav as he arrived at the venue.

LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: Jan 19, 2019 16:41 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Opposition rally,Mamata rally,Mamata Banerjee
Mamata ended her speech with “BJP hatao, desh bachao and Jai Hindh, Vande mataram” chant.(Twitter/@AITCofficial)

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party said the BJP must be “defeated at any cost in 2019,” while the Congress’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi warned against allowing a division of votes, also saying, “A rainbow of 22 parties is replacing dark clouds.”

“Send Modi home, save the country,” said 12th speaker M K Stalin of the DMK, speaking in Tamil. “Modi has realised that defeat is certain,” he said, also adding that he has “no personal animosity against Modi, but oppose his policies.” Stalin accused PM Modi of converting “the country into a private limited company of which he is the MD.”

Stalin invoked poet Rabindra Nath Tagore; Hardik Patel talked about Subhash Chandra Bose. In the audience are singers, poets and personalities from the Bengali film and television industry.

Read: ‘Testing times for democracy’: Opposition slams NDA govt at Mamata rally

Among other leaders on stage are former prime minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JDS) chief H D Deve Gowda and is son and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumarasway, former Maharashtra CM and ex-Union minister Sharad Pawar and former Arunachal Pradesh CM Gegong Apang and Omar Abdullah of the National Conference Party and his father Farooq Abdullah.

Mamata Banerjee is using the show of strength to emphasise her position as an important leader as opposition parties attempt to build a united front to take on the ruling BJP in the general election this year, when PM Modi will seek a second term.

Read: At Mamata’s rally ‘Shotgun’ Sinha stops short of endorsing her as PM

As the BJP swept the parliament elections in 2014, reducing the Congress to its lowest ever tally of 44 seats, Mamata Banerjees party had bagged 34 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, emerging as the third largest party. This year, Mamata Banerjee has set her eyes on winning all of Bengal’s seats to ensure hers is the largest team in Parliament among all regional parties.

“Who is their leader? This is just an anti-Modi exercise and the people of the country can see through it,” said the BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy said at a press conference in Delhi, asserting, “People have seen the performance of the Narendra Modi government … We will form the next government with full majority.”

Source: Hindustan Times


China pharma must swallow that jagged little pill called R&D as government slashes profit margins of generic drugs

  • New policy environment demanding cheaper drugs adds pressure to innovate
  • China’s hospital drugs market was US$118 billion last year
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 January, 2019, 12:33pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 January, 2019, 12:40pm

China’s pharmaceutical industry – shaken by drastic price cuts from Beijing’s recent pilot roll-out of state hospital bulk purchase open bidding – will need to go through painful restructuring and raise big sums to fund innovation, according to executives.

As Beijing’s pilot reform spreads nationwide to cut prices of drugs and improve their efficacy and safety, companies are under mounting pressure to invest in innovative drugs development and reduce reliance on low profit products that are the same copies of original drugs.

That is because the reform means generic drugs manufacturing – the cornerstone of the industry – has become much more competitive.

“The industry and investors need to get used to the new environment in China, where generic drugs are a tool for lowering medical costs,” China Pharmaceutical Innovation and Research Development Association executive president Song Ruilin said in an interview at the sidelines of the JP Morgan Healthcare conference – the world’s largest – in San Francisco last week.

“To survive this, companies need to innovate,” he said.

Early last month, the first round of price bidding in 11 cities saw prices slashed by 62 per cent on average, according to Guoyuan Securities, raising concerns about the industry’s profitability. Two drugs saw prices fall by over 95 per cent.

This sent Hong Kong-listed mainland pharmaceutical firms’ share price down sharply, extending a sector-wide correction that saw the Hang Seng Mainland Healthcare Index nearly halved in seven months from an all-time high in late May.

The stakes are high. The nation’s hospital drugs market is estimated to be worth 800 billion yuan (US$118 billion) last year and is forecast to exceed 1.2 trillion yuan in 2021, according to a Credit Suisse research report.

The winners will be given up to 70 per cent of the local hospital system’s procurement volume. That will only increase as the drugs become more affordable.

Most, except those in the extreme price cut cases, are expected to come out better off as volume gains and unit cost savings are expected to more than offset lower prices.

Direct, centralised procurement will also cut out layers of hefty drugs marketing and distribution costs, bringing additional savings.

Losers will not only be subject to price caps set by the winning bids, they will also have to contend with the need to fight among themselves for the remaining 30 per cent of market that requires significant marketing and distribution costs to serve.

The entire industry will see lower profit margins than the over 30 per centprior to pricing reform, Everbright Securities analyst Lin Xiaowei noted in a report.

“Many generic drug makers will be wiped out in the process if they can’t pass bioequivalence [efficacy and safety] tests, or be selected as winners in the bulk procurement tenders,” said cancer drugs developer Innovent Biologics co-founder and chairman Michael Yu Dechao. “The clean-up will leave more room for innovation.”

To thrive in the environment, drug makers will have to focus on a smaller number of generic products where they have a clear cost advantage, while investing to develop new innovative drugs that will enjoy patent protection from competition.

Although some of the price reductions appear excessive, Song believes regulators will fine-tune their policies, as overly low prices raise the risk of compromises on drug quality.

“Reform needs to be done step by step. Now we have had a start, and the sky has not fallen. It only created a scare,” he said. “I believe the authorities are also reflecting on the results … price reduction is not its only objective.”

For generic products where some Chinese companies have attained western or Japanese standards while others have not, Song suggested that regulators give a 10 to 15 per cent price increment above the winning bids to the winners with international standards, so as to encourage industry quality improvement.

As the pricing reform spreads nationwide, the better resourced companies will be driven to spend billions of yuan each year in attempts to be the first to come up with a new compound that act on a new biological target to treat a disease. They will be rewarded by multi-year legal protection against competition.

Others that failed to do so will try to find an alternative compound – so-called “me-too drugs” – to act on the same target, and sell at a lower price to grab market share.

Many will place bets on their drug candidates, which if successfully developed ahead of rivals, will become blockbuster products and multi-year cash cows thanks to a burgeoning middle class that can afford better and costlier medicine.

China’s drug makers still have a long way to go to become a truly innovative industry.

Song pointed out that even among the most advanced pharmaceutical companies in the nation, some 80 per cent of their enterprise value has been derived from generic products and the rest from new drugs development.

This proportion is reversed among the big drug firms in the US, the world’s largest and most innovative pharmaceutical market, he added.

This, together with demographic and economic trends, mean tremendous room for growth and investment.

“China has entered prime time for health care industry development, especially biotechnology, thanks to the gradual maturing of the nation’s 300 million-strong middle class as health care consumers, especially those born in the 1950s and 1960s who are wealthy and soon entering old age,” said Houston Huang Guobin, JP Morgan Chase & Co’s head of global investment banking for China.

This is especially the case for expensive therapies for cancer patients, whose number in China is projected by Frost and Sullivan to rise to 5.8 million in 2030 from 4.3 million last year.

The market for PD-1 and PD-L1 antibodies alone – a class of cutting-edge novel immuno-oncology therapies that stimulate the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells and cost half a million yuan per year – is forecast by the business consultancy to jump to 56 billion yuan in 2023 from nothing last year.

Three of the five companies so far listed in Hong Kong under revamped listing rules have completed clinical trials on their PD-1 antibodies, and submitted the results to regulators for commercialisation approval.

Hong Kong, a new overseas fund-raising conduit for Chinese companies to fund costly drugs discovery and development, stands to benefit from the industry transition, but not without its own growing pains.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, which last April revised listing rules to allow biotechnology firms that have yet to generate any profit or even revenue to list, has been busy marketing the new listing regime.

Its senior executives – led by chief executive Charles Li Xiaojia – this month embarked on a North America roadshow to meet listing hopefuls and investors covering Vancouver, San Francisco, New York and Boston, HKEX senior vice-president Issuer Services Michael Chan told the South China Morning Post by teleconference on Wednesday from New York.

A year ago, it only did marketing in San Francisco ahead of the regime’s launch late April.

“This time around we are getting more interest from US-based listed companies looking at the Hong Kong listing option to complement their China or Asia strategy … it is not just China-based US-listed firms considering coming back for a dual listing or business spin-off,” he said.

His comment came barely two weeks after Stealth BioTherapeutics, a US-based and Hong Kong investor-backed biotech firm, filed to list on Nasdaq and let its Hong Kong listing application filed six months earlier lapse.

Chan said he believes that is an individual case which by no means suggests that Hong Kong has fallen out of favour as a biotech listing venue, adding he has not received many enquiries about that case during his roadshow.

Stephen Peepels, head of US Securities Asia-Pacific, Hong Kong at international law firm Hogan Lovells, agreed.

“As the first couple of companies that took advantage of the new rules [in Hong Kong]didn’t quite perform as well as hoped, it might have prompted some companies to reconsider their choice of IPO venue,” he said. “It would be pre-mature at this time to look at individual examples and start concluding that everybody is going to change their mind and focus on Nasdaq again. It may just take longer to see a lot of deals than many people have expected.”

So far, five companies have listed in Hong Kong under the new rules, while five more have applied but yet to sell shares and list.

The first one, hepatitis drugs developer Ascletis Pharma, which listed early August, saw its share price halved just over two weeks after market debut, triggering criticism of overly aggressive pricing.

“It is an issue of supply and demand, but it also reflects a degree of immaturity on the investment banking and stock analysis sides which allowed this kind of pricing to happen,” said Samantha Du, chief executive of Shanghai-based drugs developer Zai Lab.

“In the US, where there are 2,000 biotech listed firms and stock prices are driven by companies’ performance, very rarely do you see that kind of volatility,” added the former venture capitalist who sits on a panel that assists the Hong Kong stock exchange in its review of biotech listing applications under the new rules.

“Everything needs to start from somewhere, it is hard to have it perfect right at the beginning … it is a process of trial and error … overall there are more positives than negatives,” she said.

JP Morgan’s Huang said it will take time to build up the “ecosystem” as Hong Kong lacks bankers, lawyers, auditors and investors experienced in biotech firms.

To capture the growth opportunities and to augment its market share in China where it is less prominent as a leading investment bank as in its home market the US in the health care sector, he said the bank plans to “increase significantly” its bankers headcount in the broad “health care services and technology” category in China.

While noting Shanghai’s plan to introduce a new science and technology innovation board this year, which may allow international investors to participate and feature a more market-oriented and less cumbersome listing vetting process, he said Hong Kong’s advantages as an open international market will stay and its role will not be taken away in the foreseeable future.

Shanghai-based PegBio, a drug developer for metabolic syndrome conditions such as diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and obesity that is seeking to go public within this year, is hedging its bets and will consider all three options – Hong Kong, Nasdaq and the proposed Shanghai board, said chief executive Michael Xu Min.

Having raised around US$60 million private capital since inception a decade ago, it aims to develop and commercialise three to five products within five years.

Some 10.9 per cent of China’s adult population was estimated to be diabetic in 2013 while 35.7 per cent was pre-diabetic – with high blood sugar and likely to become diabetic, according to a Peking University and Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention study with over 170,000 participants published in 2017.

Around half of patients suffering from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – a type of NAFLD – are also diabetic, Xu said.

PegBio aims to complete a phase two type 2 diabetes drug clinical trial involving 450 patients in China and the US by the end of this year, and commercialise it by 2022.

“Rising living standards and changing eating habits have resulted in major increases in incidences of metabolic diseases,” he said. “So far, there is no cure and drugs can only help control the symptoms and slow down their development.

“We aim to develop drugs that are better than current ones on efficacy, safety, ease of use and affordability.”

Source: SCMP


US charges ‘China government hackers’

  • 20 December 2018
FBI wanted posterImage copyrightFBI

The US justice department has indicted two Chinese men accused of hacking into the computer networks of companies and government agencies in Western countries.

The pair are allegedly part of a “hacking group” known as Advanced Persistent Threat 10, affiliated with China’s main intelligence service.

They have not been arrested.

The US and UK have accused China of violating an agreement relating to commercial espionage.

Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong worked for a company called Huaying Haitai and in association with the Chinese Ministry of State Security, the US court filing says.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that from at least 2006 until 2018, the two extensively hacked into computer systems with the aim of stealing intellectual property and confidential business and technological information from:

  • at least 45 commercial and defence technology companies in at least 12 US states
  • managed service providers (MSPs) and their government and commercial clients in at least 12 countries, including the UK, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UAE, as well as the US
  • US government agencies

The FBI said they had also hacked into US Navy computer systems and stolen the personal information of more than 100,000 personnel.

FBI director Christopher Wray said the two men were at present “beyond US jurisdiction”.

‘Economic aggression’

Announcing the unsealing of the indictments, US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said China had violated a 2015 agreement under which it had pledged to not engage in commercial cyber-spying.

Image captionUS Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: “We want China to cease its illegal cyber activities”

Mr Rosenstein said his department’s move had been co-ordinated with US allies in Europe and Asia to rebuff “China’s economic aggression”.

He added: “We want China to cease its illegal cyber activities.”

The UK government said it was joining allies in holding the Chinese government responsible for a global campaign targeting commercial secrets.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “This campaign is one of the most significant and widespread cyber intrusions against the UK and allies uncovered to date, targeting trade secrets and economies around the world.

“These activities must stop. They go against the commitments made to the UK in 2015, and, as part of the G20, not to conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property or trade secrets.”

Australia and New Zealand said they too held China responsible for the global hacking campaign and joined their “like-minded partners” in condemning the activity.

‘Chinese hackers return’

By Gordon Corera, security correspondent

This is the latest salvo in Washington’s attempt to pressure Beijing on a range of issues, with economic espionage one of the most high-profile.

US and UK officials are reluctant to name the companies that have been hit but they say the economic damage has been significant.

The hackers, officials say, work under the direction of China’s Ministry of State Security – one of the country’s intelligence organisations.

“It is organised more like a corporation than a gang,” one UK official says, adding that British intelligence has the highest level of confidence in their assessment of who was responsible.

The UK and US believe China is breaking a 2015 agreement not to steal commercial data to help its companies. There was a dip in activity after the deal was signed (which followed a period of pressure by Washington, including the indictment of Chinese military hackers and the threat of sanctions).

But US and UK sources both say that recently they have seen Chinese hackers return, now operating more stealthily, whereas in the past they were easier to spot.

Where the US has been vocal in recent months, this is the first time the UK has spoken out – perhaps because it has been concerned about risking trade ties and getting pulled into the Trump administration’s broader confrontation with Beijing.

UK officials say they have raised the matter privately a number of times with Beijing over the last two years, including during the prime minister’s visit earlier this year, and officials are keen to stress that they think the relationship with China is strong enough to allow them to address these issues without causing wider problems.


Japan government to shun Huawei, ZTE equipment

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan plans to ban government purchases of equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp (0763.HK) (000063.SZ) to beef up its defences against intelligence leaks and cyber attacks, sources told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: A security guard walks past a building of ZTE Beijing research and development center in Beijing, China June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Chinese tech companies are under intense scrutiny from Washington and some prominent allies over ties to the Chinese government, driven by concerns they could be used by Beijing for spying.

A government ban in Japan will come after Huawei has already been locked out of the U.S. market and after Australia and New Zealand have blocked it from building 5G networks. Huawei has repeatedly insisted Beijing has no influence over it.

The Yomiuri newspaper, which first reported the news of Japan’s planned ban earlier on Friday, said the government was expected to revise its internal rules on procurement as early as Monday.

The government does not plan to specifically name Huawei and ZTE in the revision, but will put in place measures aimed at strengthening security that apply to the companies, a person with direct knowledge and a person briefed on the matter said.

Japan’s chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, declined to comment. But he noted that the country has been in close communication with the United States on a wide range of areas, including cybersecurity.

“Cybersecurity is becoming an important issue in Japan,” he told a regular news conference. “We’ll take firm measures looking at it from a variety of perspectives.”

ZTE declined to comment. Huawei did not immediately comment.

Huawei supplies some network equipment to private Japanese telcos NTT Docomo (9437.T) and KDDI Corp (9433.T).

And SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) has a long relationship with Huawei – which in 2011 became the first Chinese firm to join Japan’s conservative Keidanren business lobby – and has partnered with it on 5G trials.

“The government will not buy where there are security concerns but it is difficult to restrict procurement by private companies,” one of the sources said.

Docomo and SoftBank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“While closely observing changes we will consider appropriate steps,” a KDDI spokeswoman said.

Some private companies elsewhere, though, have distanced themselves from the Chinese firms.

In the United States, SoftBank’s wireless subsidiary Sprint Corp (S.N) said it no longer sources equipment from Huawei or ZTE. SoftBank is trying to complete the unit’s sale to T-Mobile US Inc TMUS.N.

And Britain’s BT Group (BT.L) said on Wednesday it was removing Huawei’s equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations and would not use the company in central parts of the next network.

ZTE’s Shenzhen-listed shares rose 1.4 percent on Friday after sliding 5.7 percent the previous day amid a global stocks sell-off sparked by the arrest in Canada of Huawei’s top executive at the behest of the United States. Huawei is unlisted.

Reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida and Yoshifumi Takemoto; Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Sijia Jiang; Writing by Sam Nussey and Chris Gallagher; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Muralikumar Anantharaman


Air pollution: NGT slaps 25 crore fine on Delhi government

The green panel said that even after more than four-and-a-half years, the complaint of the aggrieved parties is that the pollution caused by the unregulated handling of plastic continues to remain unabated.

It had asked the chief secretary to hold a joint meeting with the persons considered responsible for compliance. (File photo: PTI)

The National Green Tribunal Monday asked the Delhi government to deposit Rs 25 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for their failure to curb the problem of pollution in the city.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also asked the AAP government to furnish a performance guarantee of Rs 25 crore with the apex pollution monitoring body to ensure that there is no further lapse in this regard.

It said despite its clear directions, there is hardly any action for compliance of orders of the tribunal and pollution continues unabated in blatant violation of law and under the nose of the authorities “who have hardly done anything concrete except furnishing excuses and helplessness”.

The green panel said that even after more than four-and-a-half years, the complaint of the aggrieved parties is that the pollution caused by the unregulated handling of plastic continues to remain unabated.

The tribunal was hearing pleas filed by Mundka village resident Satish Kumar and Tikri-Kalan native Mahavir Singh alleging pollution caused by burning of plastic, leather, rubber, motor engine oil and other waste materials and continuous operation of illegal industrial units dealing with such articles on agricultural lands in Mundka and Neelwal villages.

The tribunal had earlier directed the Delhi chief secretary to co-ordinate with the concerned municipal authorities, police authorities and other officers responsible for compliance of orders of this tribunal already passed referred to ensure compliance at the ground-level forthwith.

It had asked the chief secretary to hold a joint meeting with the persons considered responsible for compliance and till the orders remain un-complied, continue to hold such meetings at least once a month.

“It will be open to the chief secretary to seek feedback from concerned inhabitants about the ground situation,” the NGT had said.

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Slowing Growth, Below Par GST Collections, Fiscal Deficit New Headache for Govt

Slowing Growth, Below Par GST Collections, Fiscal Deficit New Headache for Govt

(Image for representational purpose)
New Delhi: Three separate economic data points released last week could create a new headache for the government, which is still putting out the fires it ignited by releasing the GDP back series data in the same week.

Economic growth is a major worry particularly now, since there has already been intense politics over the rate of growth during the two terms of the UPA government (through the back series data) versus the present regime, very close to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. And with the fate of the ruling BJP hanging in balance as crucial state polls are at various stages of completion, the narrative of robust economic growth during the current government’s last few months in office becomes even more crucial.

But this, a benign narrative about having ushered in robust economic growth, is not easy to craft. First, the November gross GST collections came in, showing that the anecdotal Rs 1 lakh crore monthly collection mark has been missed again. The Finance Ministry put out a statement which showed that collections totalled Rs 97,637 crore last month.

The second pain point emerged when it became known that GDP growth slowed down in the second quarter versus the April-June period and after galloping for four consecutive quarters. India remains among the fastest growing economies in the world and several external factors were to blame for this state of affairs but the data on Q2 growth has been used by analysts to predict that economic growth in the second half of the fiscal year – October to March – will be even slower than the first half.

And finally, the fiscal deficit number released by the government for April-October also proved worrisome, as the country has already breached the target set out for the entire fiscal in these seven months.

Of course, not every chance of things improving in the coming months can be ruled out. The Centre could dip into the states’ share in GST collections, it could postpone certain expenditure items, overall tax collections could surprise or there could be a last minute burst of activity on disinvestment.

Any or all of these actions could make the government remain within its fiscal deficit target. As ratings agency Care Ratings pointed out, the government meeting the fiscal deficit target of 3.3% for the year would be contingent on:

—Realisation of disinvestment target of Rs 80,000 crore (less than a sixth has been achieved till now)

—Higher GST collections. The collections so far have been lower than the target for 5 out of the total 7 months.

—The government has lowered gross borrowings by Rs 70,000 crore which will enable it to maintain the fiscal deficit target of 3.3%

But till all of the above happen, the narrative of robust growth under the present regime remains weak. The September quarter GDP growth stood at 7.1% versus 8.6% in the June quarter. The government described the numbers as “reasonable”, saying GDP growth in the first six months was at 7.6% and GVA (Gross value Added) at 7.4%.

“Growth in the second quarter is on higher base compared to the growth of the first quarter. Manufacturing growth on a base of 7.1% in Q2 2017-18 has been 7.4% in Q2 2018-19. Construction sector has grown by 7.8%. The Gross Fixed Capital Formation as a ratio of GDP has increased by almost 1.3 percentage points over Q2 of last year. Exports for Q2 have grown by 13.4%. The government consumption for the quarter has also significantly increased by 12.7%…. The Indian economy is on track to maintain a high growth rate in the current global environment.”

Ratings agency India Ratings noted that the Q2 GDP and GVA growth numbers were marginally lower than its expectations but “on the whole, second quarter GDP numbers do not ring in any alarm or indicate any serious deviation from the expected growth numbers. No doubt the sudden spurt in crude oil prices and depreciation in rupee had somewhat destabilising impact on the economy lately but over the past month they have corrected equally fast. India Ratings therefore believes that the FY19 may still end up with a GDP growth of 7.3%.”

And Care Ratings lowered growth forecast for the fiscal to 7.4% from 7.5% earlier due to “subdued pickup in economic activity in the second quarter and given the constraints in the financial system that would have a bearing on overall economic growth in the remainder of the financial year”.

As for GST collections, they tot up to Rs 7.76 lakh crore between April and November or a shortfall of about Rs 24,000 crore, averaging at about Rs 97,000 crore each month against Rs 1 lakh crore target. Achieving the revenue collection target is crucial as it has a direct bearing on the fiscal deficit. In the last eight months, tax mop-up has crossed Rs 1 lakh crore only twice — in April and October.

So with GDP growth cooling off, GST collections remaining below par and fiscal deficit remaining a worry, all eyes will be on the rabbits the Finance Minister produces from his hat in the interim Budget. If the ruling dispensation does not fare well in the state polls, perhaps a slew of fiscal sops cannot be ruled out. ​

(Author is a senior journalist. All views expressed are personal)

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