Posts tagged ‘Member of Parliament’

06/10/2016

Chinese people optimistic about the future, says Pew survey – BBC News

At a time of Brexit and talk of a wall between the United States and Mexico, it seems the Chinese are embracing international engagement.

They think their country’s power is rising, that their living standards will keep improving, that corruption is being cleaned up and that air pollution should be fixed even if it means slowing down economic growth.

These are the views which have emerged from a broad survey from Washington-based the Pew Research Center.

Elsewhere there is fear and uncertainty. Here optimism trumps all.

When asked about economic globalisation, 60% of people said it is a good thing and only 23% think it is bad for China.

While some China watchers are warning that this country’s mounting local government debt could mean that a hard landing is on the way, Chinese people don’t appear to share this pessimism.

Nearly 90% of respondents amongst this group of 3,154, interviewed face-to-face in China earlier this year, think that the state of their country’s economy is either “very good” or “somewhat good”.

GETTY IMAGES – Chinese people seem to remain optimistic

Looking into the future things will apparently get even better: 76% of people think the economy will improve over the next 12 months, 70% said their personal financial situation will improve and eight out of 10 people believe that their children will have a better standard of living than they do.

Bread and butter issues

It’s not that people are without concerns.

“Corrupt officials” is at the top of the table when it comes to people’s worries (83% said this was a “very big” or “moderately big” problem) and yet here too we see optimism.

Some 64% of them said that President Xi Jinping‘s massive anti-corruption drive would improve the situation over the next five years.

Running down the concern list, an alarmingly high number of people see income inequality and the safety of food and medicine as “very big” problems.

This should give the Chinese Communist Party pause for concern.

If you enjoy monopoly power on the basis that you are delivering “socialism with Chinese characteristics” then a small group of ultra-rich driving around in their sports cars and showing off their wealth while most struggle to pay the rent is surely at odds with your central message.

Then, if ordinary Chinese people can’t even trust the food and medicine they are giving their children, the possibility for social unrest over bread and butter issues is looming large.

The environment also emerges as a massive challenge with water and air pollution at the front of people’s minds.

Air pollution is so bad in China that half of those polled said their country should fight air pollution harder even if it means sacrificing economic growth.

GETTY IMAGES – Emissions from coal-powered industries, cars and heating systems generate the smog

Only 24% saw air deterioration as a necessary price to pay.

When it comes to the war of ideas in the top echelons of power here, those ministers in favour of tougher environmental protection measures could do worse than table this research.

A “major threat” to China?

The South China Sea and other geo-strategic tensions offer some of the most bleak opinions.

Nearly six out of 10 people think that territorial pressures with neighbours could lead to military conflict; 77% say their way of life needs to be protected from “foreign influence” (up by 13 percentage points since 2002) and only 22% say China should help other nations.

Regarding relations with rival superpower the United States people views are complex and, at times, seemingly contradictory.

Around half of Chinese respondents rated the US favourably but more than half think that Washington is trying to prevent China from becoming an equal power.

About 45% said that US power and influence poses a “major threat” to China. In fact the US came in at number one as the top international threat to the country.

GETTY IMAGES – More than half of Chinese people think that Washington is trying to prevent China from becoming an equal power

It’s interesting that some would see the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot to Asia” as a greater threat than say jihadist extremist groups just across the western border promoting bloody conflict in China’s vast Muslim region of Xinjiang.

Either way, whatever the perceived threat, China is seen as becoming ever more important and with ever more power at its disposal.Information is being controlled here ever more tightly – whether it is coming from the traditional media or sources online – so some analysts will see these views as the inevitable result of messages being delivered to the Chinese people by their government.

This may the be case but, in a world where politicians in various countries are accused of exploiting people’s fear and insecurity, could it be that a quarter of the globe’s population are going around with a smile on their dial because every day they look out the window and to them it just gets better and better?

Source: Chinese people optimistic about the future, says Pew survey – BBC News

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03/08/2016

India’s biggest tax reform GST looms, many companies unprepared | Reuters

Throughout years of political gridlock, the risk that India might pass its biggest tax reform since independence appeared reassuringly remote for many businesses.

Until now.Suddenly, the prospect that a new Goods and Services Tax (GST) could enter force next year has bosses panicking at the likely impact and seeking advice on how to cope.

The expected passage by parliament on Wednesday of a key constitutional amendment would resolve crucial issues needed to transform India’s $2 trillion economy and 1.3 billion consumers into a single market for the first time.

The amendment is likely to clear the Rajya Sabha after the opposition Congress party, which originally proposed the GST while in power, wrung concessions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government.

Yet the vote will only fire the starting gun in a legislative marathon in which the national parliament and India’s 29 federal states have to pass further laws determining the – still unknown – rate and scope of the tax.

At the same time, a huge IT system needs to be set up, tax collectors trained and companies brought up to speed on a levy that experts say will force them to overhaul business processes from front to back.

One boss who isn’t ready is G.R. Ralhan, head of Roamer Woollen Mills in the northern city of Ludhiana.

“Companies, particularly smaller ones, are apprehensive,” Ralhan told Reuters, calling for more time to adjust and saying a high rate of GST could put his firm out of business.

Countries that have introduced GST in the past have often faced a relative economic slowdown before the benefits of a unified tax regime feed through.

India is already the world’s fastest growing large economy, expanding by 7.9 percent year-on-year in the March quarter. Economists at HSBC forecast a boost of 0.8 percentage points from the GST within three to five years.

80-20 RULE

Tax experts say that only 20 percent of – mostly big – firms are getting ready for the GST. The rest are taking things as they come in a country where coping with a changing tax regime has been a way of life for decades.

Yet even those actively preparing must contend with a series of unknowns as the national and state parliaments tackle the task of transforming a “model” GST law into the real thing.

The first hurdle will be for a majority of state parliaments to pass the GST amendment, which would establish a GST Council to finalise key terms of the new tax.

That could take until November and mean that the legislation to put the GST into force would only come before the national parliament’s winter session.

Hitting the government’s target launch date of next April 1, the start of the fiscal year, looks ambitious. Slippage to July or October 2017 is increasingly likely, say experts.

Source: India’s biggest tax reform GST looms, many companies unprepared | Reuters

27/06/2016

China city shuts down waste burning plant over protests | Reuters

A city in central China is shutting down a waste incineration project, it said, after thousands of people protested against the plant over fears it will damage the environment and residents’ health.

Photos posted on social media, which could not be verified by Reuters, showed dozens of riot police marching in the city of Xiantao, located in Hubei province in central China.

About 10,000 people protested in Xiantao on Sunday, the state-backed Global Times reported, citing a local resident, even after the local government said it planned to suspend the project on Sunday morning.

Another resident told Reuters by phone on Monday that the protests continued, and several protesters were injured in clashes with riot police.

“There are hundreds of police here because of the demonstrations,” said the resident, who declined to give his name because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The city government called on residents to refrain from taking “extreme actions” and spreading rumors in a statement on its official microblog.

Tens of thousands of “mass incidents” – the usual euphemism for protests – happen in China each year, spurred by grievances over issues such as corruption, pollution and illegal land grabs, unnerving the stability-obsessed ruling Communist Party.

Last June, thousands of people protested in Jinshan, about 60 km (37 miles) from China’s commercial hub of Shanghai, against plans to build a chemical plant in the district.

A Xiantao official said that the planned plant’s emissions of dioxin, a toxic compound, would have been in line with European Union standards, state media reported.

Source: China city shuts down waste burning plant over protests | Reuters

24/06/2016

Two stumbles forward, one back | The Economist

LAST November, two days after India’s ruling party suffered a drubbing at local polls in the state of Bihar, the government unexpectedly opened a dozen new industries to foreign direct investment (FDI). A gushing official called it “the biggest path-breaking and the most radical changes in the FDI regime ever undertaken”.

On June 20th, two days after Raghuram Rajan, the respected governor of India’s central bank, abruptly announced that he would soon step down, the government covered its embarrassment with another impromptu salute to FDI. The slim package of enticements, amounting to a slight lowering of barriers in some of the same industries, has made India “the most open economy in the world for FDI,” said the office of Narendra Modi, the prime minister.

Hyperbole is not unexpected from a government keen to burnish its liberalising credentials. But it has not lived up to its cheery slogans (“Startup India”, “We Unobstacle”, “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”). Two years after clinching a sweeping electoral mandate, and with the opposition in disarray, Mr Modi’s reform agenda should be in full swing. Instead, as with previous governments, his ill-focused initiatives have run up against India’s statist bureaucracy.

To be fair, much of what has been done is useful. Corruption has been stemmed, at least at ministerial level. A vital bankruptcy law has been approved. Yet for all the evidence that Mr Modi’s team is doing a better job running the existing economic machinery, it has shown limited appetite for overhauling it.

Pessimists see Mr Rajan’s departure as evidence of a further wilting of ambition. After all, as a former chief economist of the IMF, he is an enthusiastic advocate of structural reform. Then again, at the central bank he has focused chiefly on bringing down inflation. Optimists hope he is being eased out because of his habit of speaking his mind, thereby occasionally contradicting the government line, rather than to pave the way for retrograde policies.

Thanks to a mix of lower oil prices and prudent fiscal policies (and perhaps also flawed statistics) the economy grew by 7.9% in the first quarter, compared with the same period the year before, the fastest pace among big economies. Ministers think further acceleration is possible.

That may prove difficult. India’s public-sector banks, which hold 70% of the industry’s assets, are stuffed with bad loans; the central bank reckons that some 17.7% are “stressed”. That Mr Rajan forced them to disclose this fact will not have endeared him to politically connected tycoons now being badgered to repay the banks. Bank shares rose after he said he was leaving, presumably in the hope that his successor will go easy on them. Rating agencies fret that they will still need recapitalising, blowing a hole in the government’s finances. In the meantime, credit to industry has all but ground to a halt.

India’s overweening bureaucracy is another drag on growth. Copious red-tape and poor infrastructure put India 130th out of 189 countries in the World Bank’s “Ease of doing business” rankings. Getting permits to build a warehouse in Mumbai involves 40 steps and costs more than 25% of its value, compared with less than 2% in rich countries. It takes 1,420 days, on average, to enforce a contract.

A slew of liberalising reforms in 1991, when India was in far worse shape than now, were left unfinished as the economy gradually recovered. Whereas product markets were freed from the “licence Raj”, which no longer dictates how much of what each factory can produce, inputs such as land, labour and capital are still heavily regulated. Having once sought to prise those open, the Modi government now encourages state governments to take the lead with their own reforms.

One result is that there is no proper market for land: businesses that want to set up shop are best off wooing state governments to provide some. Chief ministers with a presidential approach (a model Mr Modi espoused in his previous job running Gujarat) scurry around scouting for plots on behalf of the private sector in a manner that would have seemed familiar to the central planners of yore.

That India is pro-business but not necessarily pro-market is a frequent refrain. “The government wants to create jobs, not the environment in which job-creation flourishes,” says one investor. Special economic zones are set up as sops, sometimes to entice single companies. Even big foreign investors are essentially told what to do: Walmart can only open cash-and-carry stores closed to the general public, Amazon must sell mostly other merchants’ goods rather than its own, and so on.If businesses cannot get things done themselves, even the most energetic politician will struggle to set up enough factories to general public, Amazon must sell mostly other merchants’ goods rather than its own, and so on.

Source: Two stumbles forward, one back | The Economist

21/04/2015

Rahul Gandhi’s Speech: The Indian Media’s Surprise Verdict – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s punditocracy in recent weeks has loved to hate Rahul Gandhi.

Mr. Gandhi, the vice president of India’s opposition Congress party, was derided by some opinion-makers for taking a break from frontline politics in mid-February–and not returning until mid-April. But on Monday, in a speech before Parliament, Mr. Gandhi surprised many pundits.

Not by what he said — he attacked, as expected, the government’s proposed changes to India’s laws on purchasing land — but by the fact that he spoke at all.

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Mr. Gandhi, who is a member of Parliament, rarely speaks in India’s lower chamber, the Lok Sabha. In fact, this was only his first address since Congress lost badly in national elections almost a year ago.

Congress’s loss provoked deep soul-searching within the party about its future. Mr. Gandhi was Congress’s prime ministerial hopeful in that drubbing.

On Monday, Mr. Gandhi blasted India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, and his Bharatiya Janata Party, for proposed changes to the Land Acquisition Act that, among other things would make it easier for businesses and the government to buy land for defense, industrial corridors, affordable housing and infrastructure projects by removing a requirement to obtain the consent of more than two-thirds of landowners.

Mr. Gandhi’s Congress party argues these changes are bad for India’s huge population of farmers, who he described in Parliament as the country’s backbone. “Everything has been built on a foundation that has been provided to us by the farmer,” Mr. Gandhi told lawmakers.

Pictures of Mr. Gandhi, dressed in a close-fitting white kurta and flanked by some of the party’s youngest members of Parliament, filled television screens and set his name trending on Twitter on Monday evening.

It also put the ruling BJP on the defensive after months of relatively limited challenges from the Congress party.  A piece in the Indian Express newspaper said the government was pushed into “damage control after Rahul Gandhi’s attack over the agrarian situation.”

Sanjay Singh, who writes about politics for Firstpost, wrote that Mr. Gandhi’s “rather aggressive pitching in Parliament has surely charged up Congress’ ranks.”

Another piece, posted on the IBNLive website of the Indian news channel CNN-IBN, said Mr. Gandhi had shown “he is back and he means business.”

“Maybe it is the low expectations,” the IBNLive piece said, “but Rahul Gandhi was definitely on fire.” The article was published with no byline.

via Rahul Gandhi’s Speech: The Indian Media’s Surprise Verdict – India Real Time – WSJ.

05/03/2014

BBC News – India names general election dates

India’s general election will take place in nine phases in April and May, the Election Commission has announced.

A BJP rally in Assam, India

Polling to elect a new Lok Sabha, or lower house, will be held from 7 April to 12 May. Votes will be counted on 16 May.

With some 814 million eligible voters, India’s election will be the largest the world has seen.

The ruling Congress party and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party will be battling a host of smaller parties.

Leaders of 11 regional parties have formed a Third Front against the Congress and the BJP.

A new anti-corruption Aam Aadmi (Common Man’s) Party (AAP), which made a spectacular debut in recent polls in the capital Delhi, will also contest the elections.

Continue reading the main story

POLLING DAYS

7 April – 2 states, 6 constituencies

9 April – 5 states, 7 constituencies

10 April – 14 states, 92 constituencies

12 April – 3 states, 5 constituencies

17 April – 13 states, 142 constituencies

24 April – 12 states, 117 constituencies

30 April – 9 states, 89 constituencies

7 May – 7 states, 64 constituencies

12 May – 3 states, 41 constituencies

Counting of votes – 16 May

Election Commission of India

If no single party wins a clear majority, smaller parties could play a crucial role.

India’s lower house has 543 elected seats and any party or a coalition needs a minimum of 272 MPs to form a government.

via BBC News – India names general election dates.

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25/09/2013

BJP flays ordinance on convicted Indian MPs

The Hindu: “The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday said the government’s decision to promulgate an ordinance on convicted MPs is an attempt to make “cheats, frauds, murderers” and the likes as lawmakers.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy

“BJP is shocked at this Ordinance. We would like to know whose great idea it is — is it Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi or is it UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi,” party general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

“Who was eager to promulgate an Ordinance to make frauds, cheats, rapists and murderers as our MPs and MLAs?” he said.

Mr. Rudy hailed the Supreme Court verdict on the issue, saying the apex court had in a “historic judgement” said that an MP or an MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more.

The Ordinance, which was cleared by the Cabinet on Tuesday, seeks to negate this order and BJP has opposed this move.

“We Indians have already lost faith in the political system and very soon the country will trash this democracy for good, thanks to this Congress government,” Mr. Rudy said.

His observations came a day after Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj termed the Ordinance as unconstitutional and requested the President not to give his assent to it.

“We are opposed to it. We request the President not to sign it. President is not obliged to sign an Ordinance that is unconstitutional,” Ms. Swaraj had said on Twitter.”

via BJP flays ordinance on convicted MPs – The Hindu.

07/03/2013

* Rahul slips into Sonia’s shoes

The Hindu: “The transition of power in the Congress is taking place gradually as its less than two-month-old vice-president has begun to take regular meetings with the organisation’s functionaries and MPs, presiding over meetings that the party president — and his mother — Sonia Gandhi held till recently.

Learning the ropes? A file photo of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi at a party meet. File Photo: AP

Streamline the party organisation and put in place a system that will bridge the communication and coordination deficit, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi told central office-bearers here on Wednesday evening.

In the next fortnight, he added, he intended bringing together PCC chiefs, CLP leaders, and central general secretaries and secretaries in charge of States for a discussion, even as some senior functionaries suggested holding conventions in States where the Congress is in power to publicise the UPA government’s flagship programmes and dharnas in the Opposition-ruled States.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Gandhi met party MPs from Madhya Pradesh as part of a series of discussions he is holding daily with parliamentarians from different States. The focus at this meeting was on the party working concertedly to oust the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh in the Assembly elections later this year and ensuring that the Congress received the credit for Centrally sponsored welfare schemes being implemented in the State.

The transition of power in the Congress is taking place gradually as its less than two-month-old vice-president has begun to take regular meetings with the organisation’s functionaries and MPs, presiding over meetings that the party president — and his mother — Sonia Gandhi held till recently.

But the paradox is that while Mr. Gandhi is seen to be leading from the front in a bid to strengthen, energise and democratise the Congress, on Tuesday, he told MPs and journalists that becoming Prime Minister was not his priority as he believed in “long-term politics” — he wanted to empower everyone. He said he wanted to focus on strengthening his party ahead of next year’s general elections.”

via Rahul slips into Sonia’s shoes – The Hindu.

05/03/2013

* Power should be with more people, not just handful: Rahul

the Hindu: ““Asking me whether you want to be Prime Minister is a wrong question,” Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

The Congress Vice President made this suo motu remark while interacting with party MPs amid growing clamour in Congress for projecting him as its Prime Ministerial face before the next Lok Sabha elections.

Mr. Gandhi also gave signals that he was against the “high command culture”, saying that he wants to empower more and more people than a handful, who call the shots.

The 42-year-old leader told the MPs in no uncertain terms that the organisation was his priority and he was preparing for a long haul.

“Today I see how MPs feel without power and it is the same story in all the parties, be it Congress or BJP. I want to empower the 720-odd MPs in Parliament.

“I want to give voice to the middle tier…empower the middle-level leaders. There are some parties in India which are run by one leader (BSP), two leaders (SP), five to six leaders (BJP) and 15 to 20 leaders (Congress). My priority is that I want to empower the MPs as also the 5,000-odd legislators in various states,” he said.

via Power should be with more people, not just handful: Rahul – The Hindu.

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