MARKET WATCH 17 OCT, 2020

NATIONAL

INTERNATIONAL

 

Govt open to taking more measures to boost growth

New Delhi: The Centre has accommodated all concerns of the state governments on the issue of borrowing to meet decit in goods and services tax compensation cess fund, minister of state for nance Anurag Thakur has said. Thakur told ET that the Centre expects states to emulate the leave travel concession (LTC) and festival advance schemes for their employees. He also said the government is open to undertaking more measures to boost the economy. “We have accommodated states’ concerns to the best of our ability and have facilitated states' borrowing (for compnsation cess shortfall),” Thakur said, adding that this clearly demonstrated the Centre’s rm belief in cooperative federalism. Thakur’s statement came a day after the Centre agreed to borrow Rs 1.1 lakh crore under the option 1oered to states and on-lend to them in lieu of compensation cess shortfall. The Centre had on August 28 oered two options to states to address the decit in the compensation cess fund because of the Covid-19 induced slowdown. Under the rst option, states were to borrow a total of Rs 97,000 crore, which was subsequently raised to Rs 1.1 lakh crore, to meet that portion of decit attributed to rollout of the goods and services tax (GST). States had been insisting that the Centre carry out the borrowing and compensate them.

Source: Economic Times

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States’ GST gap to be fully bridged, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday told 21 states and 2 UTs, which have chosen the incentivised Option 1 to bridge their yawning GST revenue shortfall in FY21 that, they “won’t face any cash shortfall” in the year due to the paucity of relevant cess proceeds. She wrote to the finance ministers of these states: “A total of Rs 2.16 lakh crore is unconditionally available to states under Option 1 (special window + 0.5% extra OMB sans reforms). This more than covers the funds which would have been received by them during the current financial year if total compensation were paid in full.” With the Centre changing its stance and agreeing to borrow on the states’ behalf, the impasse at the GST Council over the issue seems to be ending. It is also clear the compensation cess would not only stay for a considerably long period beyond July 2022, but would likely be levied on more items. Stating that “back-to-back loan from the Centre is acceptable to us”, Kerala finance minister Thomas Issac tweeted : “But there is one issue yet to be resolved — how much of compensation is to be deferred to 2023? Negotiate this point and reach a consensus.” Isasc had earlier revealed a plan to approach the Supreme Court for resolution of the issue. However, the mechanism may still involve a cost to the states, analysts said. Under the GST Compensation Act 2017, the states are guaranteed a 14% annual growth in the relevant tax revenues over five years till July 2022, meaning, such tax receipts would be their income sans any cost. “While the interest cost on the special window is going to be covered by the GST compensation cess, the servicing cost of the additional unconditional borrowing of 0.5% of GSDP may still have to be borne by the states,” said NR Bhanumurthy, vice chancellor of BASE University, Bengaluru. Under the Option 1, state governments are to receive funds in two ways: 1) loans from the Centre which will borrow under a special window and pass on ten funds to states as loans; 2) additional unconditional market borrowing of 0.5% of GSDP. In the letter to state FMs, Sitharaman said the Centre would arrange the loan under Option 1 such that the cost would be at, or close to, the G-sec rate. Also, she assured the states that debt through the special window won’t be accounted for as states’ debt. Pronab Sen, former chairman of National Statistical Commission, told FE: “GST compensation to states should have been extended as a grant and not loans. If the Centre keeps the cess with it when the collection is higher than the requirement, it should also be able to compensate states when the mop-up is lower. Moreover, it remains to be seen whether the Centre will charge a margin over the interest rate on the loans.” Sitharaman quoted the Attorney General saying that, “there is an obligation (on the Centre) to pay compensation to the states for the entire shortfall…regardless of whether such shortfall is attributable to GST implementation or not”. The compensation is to be paid from proceeds of the designated cess; there is no obligation on the Centre to pay from the Consolidated Fund of India, the AG said. The opposition to the borrowing scheme from some states was primarily because they being asked to borrow; also, the entire shortfall was not being made good in the current year but only the portion that is due to GST implementation. According to Centre’s calculation, the states’ GST revenue deficit from protected level in FY21 would be Rs 2.35 lakh crore, which includes Rs 1.1 lakh crore due to GST implementation and the remaining due to pandemic. The FM has contended that the special window has been structured in the optimum manner to protect the long-term economic interest of the nation, including public and private sector. “The bona fide opinion of the Central government on this macro-economic issue is that borrowing on the books of Centre will not be optimal in the national interest,” Sitharaman added. Isaac told FE that the argument that the Centre borrowing the entire amount would squeeze out private investment won’t hold, given that demand being in the negative zone, private borrowings will be muted. Sitharaman also listed out the benefits of the scheme which includes sufficient amount to meet entire GST shortfall payable this year, availability of special window funds at reasonable interest rate, interest and principal repayment cost for the GST shortfall debt would be met from cess proceeds, and the unpaid deficit from the current year would eventually be paid back to states from cess proceeds in later years after loans are paid for.

Source: Financial Express

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India won't be the next China if it can't even out-export Bangladesh

India’s Covid-19 economic gloom turned into despair this week, on news that its per capita gross domestic product may be lower for 2020 than in neighboring Bangladesh. “Any emerging economy doing well is good news,” Kaushik Basu, a former World Bank chief economist, tweeted after the International Monetary Fund updated its World Economic Outlook. “But it's shocking that India, which had a lead of 25 per cent five years ago, is now trailing.” Ever since it began opening up the economy in the 1990s, India’s dream has been to emulate China’s rapid expansion. After three decades of persevering with that campaign, slipping behind Bangladesh hurts its global image. The West wants a meaningful counterweight to China, but that partnership will be predicated on India not getting stuck in a lower-middle-income trap. The relative underperformance may also dent self-confidence. If a country with large-power ambitions is beaten in its own backyard — by a smaller nation it helped liberate in 1971 by going to war with Pakistan — its influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean could wane. Where have things gone wrong? The coronavirus pandemic is definitely to blame. Bangladesh’s new infections peaked in mid-June, while India’s daily case numbers are starting to taper only now, after hitting a record high for any country. With 165 million people, Bangladesh has recorded fewer than 5,600 Covid-19 deaths. While India has eight times the population, it has 20 times the fatalities. What’s worse, the severe economic lockdown India imposed to stop the spread of the disease is set to wipe out 10.3 per cent of real output, according to the IMF. That’s nearly 2.5 times the loss the global economy is expected to suffer. Fiscal squeamishness, an undercapitalized financial system and a multiyear investment funk would all delay India’s post-Covid demand recovery. Worse, even without the pandemic, India might have eventually lost the race to Bangladesh. The reason is nested in a new paper by economist Shoumitro Chatterjee of Pennsylvania State University and Arvind Subramanian, formerly India’s chief economic adviser, titled “India’s Export-Led Growth: Exemplar and Exception.” Consider first the exceptionalism of India’s growth. Bangladesh is doing well because it’s following the path of previous Asian tigers. Its slice of low-skilled goods exports is in line with its share of poor-country working-age population. Vietnam is punching slightly above its weight. But basically, both are taking a leaf out of China’s playbook. The People’s Republic held on to high GDP growth for decades by carving out for itself a far bigger dominance of low-skilled goods manufacturing than warranted by the size of its labor pool. India, however, has gone the other way, choosing not to produce the things that could have absorbed its working-age population of 1 billion into factory jobs. “India’s missing production in the key low-skill textiles and clothing sector amounts to $140 billion, which is about 5 per cent of India’s GDP,” the authors say. half of India’s computer software exports in 2019 ceased to exist, there would be a furor. But that $60 billion loss would have been the same as the foregone exports annually from low-skill production. It’s real, and yet nobody wants to talk about it. Policymakers don’t want to acknowledge that the shoes and apparel factories that were never born — or were forced to close down — could also have earned dollars and created mass employment. They would have provided a pathway for permanent rural-to-urban migration in a way that jobs that require higher levels of education and training never can. Bangladesh has two out of five women of working age in the labor force, double India’s 21 per cent participation rate. A bigger danger is that instead of taking corrective action, politicians may double down on past mistakes and seek salvation in autarky: “Poorer than Bangladesh? Never mind. We can erect barriers to imports and make stuff for the domestic economy. Let’s create jobs that way.” Suddenly, the 1960s and ’70s slogan of self-reliance is making a return in economic policy. It’s in dispelling this pessimism that the Chatterjee-Subramanian study comes in handy again: Contrary to popular belief, India has been an exemplar of export-led growth, doing better than all countries except China and Vietnam. The glass is more than half full. Trade has worked for the country. It’s the composition that’s wrong, because of an unusual “comparative advantage–defying specialization,” the researchers show. India exports a lot of high-skilled manufacturing goods and services, such as computer software. But as the world’s factory, China is now ceding room to others at the lower end of the spectrum. That is where India’s opportunity — and the competitive advantage of its cheap and not particularly healthy or well-educated labor — really lies.

Source: Business Standard

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India, Chile review bilateral ties; to firm up investment protection pact

India and Chile on Friday agreed to add new momentum in their cooperation in a wide-range of areas including trade, defence, energy, agriculture, mining and science and technology. A comprehensive review of the bilateral cooperation was carried out at a virtual meeting of the India-Chile Joint Commission which was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chilean counterpart Allamand Zavala. Official sources said both sides are also looking at firming up a bilateral investment protection treaty. In 2017, India had expanded its preferential trade agreement with Chile that resulted in boosting of bilateral trade ties. At present, Chile is the fifth largest trading partner of India in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in a statement, said both sides discussed the future trajectory of their wide-ranging engagements in the meeting. "They agreed to add new momentum to the relations of the two countries in the fields of trade and commerce, agriculture, health and social security, defence, space, science and technology, energy, mining, culture and education, disaster management and cooperation in Antarctica amongst others," the MEA said. It said India welcomed Chile's decision to designate India as a priority country in its foreign policy, adding the country will also be opening its Consulate General in Mumbai. Chile has control of a large part of Antarctica and has a very large maritime boundary, having the distinction of being the longest country in the world. The sources said that in addition to discussions on the bilateral investment protection treaty, the two sides also deliberated on further expansion of the preferential trade agreement. They said there was a discussion on export of generic medicines from India to Chile and that an MoU on it is in the final stages. In the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, especially in the context of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. "The external affairs minister underlined the prime minister's vision of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' for enhancing resilience through self-reliance and human-centric globalisation as the basis for India's economic revival," the MEA said. It said Jaishankar invited Chile to take advantage of India's new economic capacities and growing market. "Based on their convergence of views on many global and regional issues, both sides agreed to coordinate closely at the multilateral fora," the MEA said. It was the first meeting held under the framework of India-Chile Joint Commission.

Source: Business Standard

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India to expand economic partnership with Chile as part of Indo-Pacific vision

NEW DELHI: India and Latin American economic major Chile on Friday deliberated upon expanding their Preferential Trade Agreement and creating Joint Business Council to promote multi-faceted business and trade links as Delhi hopes to expand its Indo-Pacic construct. These decisions were arrived at the rst Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) between India and Chile was held on a virtual platform, on Friday. It was cochaired by S. Jaishankar, Foreign Minister and his Chilean counterpart Andres Allamand Zavala. Chile had decided to open its Consulate General in Mumbai to promote trade links. The JCM with Chile was a signicant development, being the rst institutionalized dialogue between the two countries at the level of Foreign Ministers. Chile is a member of Pacic Alliance comprising Chile; Peru; Colombia and Mexico. The Pacic Alliance seeks closer ties with India and the Alliance can be an anchor for India in one geographical part of the Indo-Pacic region. India and Chile have signed the Double Taation Avoidance Agreement in March 2020; and two sides are working to sign a BilateralInvestment Protection Treaty. In addition to this, the further expansion of the PTA was discussed on Friday. Negotiations are underway between the teams from both sides. India’s PTA with Chile was rst expanded in 2017. This has been helpful in boosting bilateral trade and Chile is today the fth largest trading partner of India in the Latin American region. Chile is a country which has engaged extensively with the outside world. It has free trade agreements with a large number of countries and regions. Chile has a huge base of natural resources which includes copper, tin, forest resources. It has control of a large part of Antarctica and has a very large maritime boundary, having the distinction of being the longest country in the world. Chile is a country which has engaged extensively with the outside world. It has free trade agreements with a large number of countries and regions. his has been helpful in boosting our bilateral trade and Chile is today the fth largest trading partner of India in the LAC region. Establishment of a Joint Business Council is under negotiations with a view to encourage and facilitate actions leading both country’s business communities to promote cooperation in trade, investment, services and all industrial sectors between the two countries. Chile is also considering the introduction of multiple entry and long-term visas for Indian businessmen. India and Chile are also working on a MoU for cooperation on health and export of generic medicines from here to Chile. The two sides are focussing on agricultural cooperation, which includes an agreement on Agriculture as well as market access issues for products of mutual interest. Chile is a member of the International Solar Alliance and it is in the process of ratifying the agreement. India and Chile have an agreement for cooperation in the eld of exploration and peaceful uses of outer space. India launched a Chilean nano-satellite in 2017. On Friday Both sides discussed ways to take forward the space cooperation. The two Ministers also discussed multilateral issues of mutual interest including but not limited to Climate Change, Terrorism, Multilateral Candidatures, UN and the present COVID-19 pandemic, as well as regional issues. The Prime Minister had interactions with the Chilean President Sebastian Pinera thrice in recent times on the sidelines of G20 meetings in Buenos Aires (2018) and Osaka (2019) as well as G7 in Biarritz (2019).

Source: Economic Times

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No use of coercive powers by tax officers in case of recoveries: CBDT  

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has restricted the coercive or intrusive powers of ta officers in case of tax recoveries, with immediate effect. CBDT said such powers should be exercised only as a last resort after other means of recovery have been exhausted. The Board has restricted recovery surveys to non-responsive or non-traceable taxpayers. It also reiterated that specific provisions have been amended to allow survey only by the investigation and tax deducted at source (TDS) wings. “Any coercive or intrusive action for recovery of tax demands should be taken only after exhaustive alternative means of recovery,” the Board said in an order issued on Friday. The recovery survey will be approved by a Collegium, which will consist of two officers of the level of principal chief commissioner of income tax or chief commissioner of income tax rank, including one from the TDS division. Recovery surveys of Central charges will be conducted by officers of the investigation wing after taking approval from the Collegium, comprising the director general of income tax for investigations and chief commissioner of income tax heading central charges. The government had made enabling provisions for these directions in the taxation and other laws bill which was amended by Parliament last month. As per the order, the involvement of assessing officers or tax recovery officers from surveys has been excluded. Monitoring of the surveys has been mandated by the principal chief commissioner of income tax or commissioner of income tax to ensure that it does not go beyond the scope approved by the collegium. The survey team must also prepare a report and share with the Income Tax Business Application (ITBA) and concerned assessing officer or tax recovery officer, the order noted, pressing for strict compliance with the survey manual rules and guidelines for attachment of movable or immovable properties. Tax experts welcomed the development, saying it would provide clarity to taxpayers and tax authorities. “It will reduce the arbitrariness or subjectivity and permit authorities to take coercive action only after following the due procedure under law,” said Shailesh Kumar, partner at Nangia & Co LLP. “This will also help taxpayers to take necessary remedial actions in tax recovery proceedings and duly represent their case in such proceedings,” he added.

Source: Economic Times

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The next China? India is missing its real comparative edge by not emphasizing lowskilled labour exports

India’s Covid-19 economic gloom turned into despair this week, on news that its per capita gross domestic product may be lower for 2020 than in neighboring Bangladesh. “Any emerging economy doing well is good news,” Kaushik Basu, a former World Bank chief economist, tweeted after the International Monetary Fund updated its World Economic Outlook. “But it's shocking that India, which had a lead of 25% ve years ago, is now trailing.” Ever since it began opening up the economy in the 1990s, India’s dream has been to emulate China’s rapid expansion. After three decades of persevering with that campaign, slipping behind Bangladesh hurts its global image. The West wants a meaningful counterweight to China, but that partnership will be predicated on India not getting stuck in a lower-middle-income trap. The relative underperformance may also dent self-confidence. If a country with large-power ambitions is beaten in its own backyard — by a smaller nation it helped liberate in 1971 by going to war with Pakistan — its influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean could wane. Where have things gone wrong? The coronavirus pandemic is definitely to blame. Bangladesh’s new infections peaked in mid-June, while India’s daily case numbers are starting to taper only now, after hitting a record high for any country. With 165 million people, Bangladesh has recorded fewer than 5,600 Covid-19 deaths. While India has eight times the population, it has 20 times the fatalities. What’s worse, the severe economic lockdown India imposed to stop the spread of the disease is set to wipe out 10.3% of real output, according to the IMF. That’s nearly 2.5 times the loss the global economy is expected to suer. Fiscal squeamishness, an undercapitalized financial system and a multiyear investment funk would all delay India’s post-Covid demand recovery. Worse, even without the pandemic, India might have eventually lost the race to Bangladesh. The reason is nested in a new paper by economist Shoumitro Chatterjee of Pennsylvania State University and Arvind Subramanian, formerly India’s chief economic adviser, titled “India’s Export-Led Growth: Exemplar and Exception.” Consider first the exceptionalism of India’s growth. Bangladesh is doing well because it’s following the path of previous. Asian tigers. Its slice of low-skilled goods exports is in line with its share of poor-country working-age population. Vietnam is punching slightly above its weight. But basically, both are taking a leaf out of China’s playbook. The People’s Republic held on to high GDP growth for decades by carving out for itself a far bigger dominance of low-skilled goods manufacturing than warranted by the size of its labor pool. India, however, has gone the other way, choosing not to produce the things that could have absorbed its working-age population of 1 billion into factory jobs. “India’s missing production in the key low-skill textiles and clothing sector amounts to $140 billion, which is about 5% of India’s GDP,” the authors say. If half of India’s computer software exports in 2019 ceased to exist, there would be a furor. But that $60 billion loss would have been the same as the foregone exports annually from low-skill production. It’s real, and yet nobody wants to talk about it. Policymakers don’t want to acknowledge that the shoes and apparel factories that were never born — or were forced to close down — could also have earned dollars and created mass employment. They would have provided a pathway for permanent rural-to-urban migration in a way that jobs that require higher levels of education and training never can. Bangladesh has two out of ve women of working age in the labor force, double India’s 21% participation rate. A bigger danger is that instead of taking corrective action, politicians may double down on past mistakes and seek salvation in autarky: “Poorer than Bangladesh? Never mind. We can erect barriers to imports and make stu for the domestic economy. Let’s create jobs that way.” Suddenly, the 1960s and ’70s slogan of self-reliance is making a return in economic policy. It’s in dispelling this pessimism that the Chatterjee-Subramanian study comes in handy again: Contrary to popular belief, India has been an exemplar of export-led growth, doing better than all countries except China and Vietnam. The glass is more than half full. Trade has worked for the country. It’s the composition that’s wrong, because of an unusual “comparative advantage– defying specialization,” the researchers show. India exports a lot of high-skilled manufacturing goods and services, such as computer software. But as the world’s factory, China is now ceding room to others at the lower end of the spectrum. That is where India’s opportunity — and the competitive advantage of its cheap and not particularly healthy or well educated labour — really lies. Given the urgent challenge of creating at least 8 million jobs year after year, it’s also the country’s biggest post-pandemic headache.

Source: Economic Times

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Global Textile Raw Material Price 17-10-2020

Item

Price

Unit

Fluctuation

Date

PSF

856.81

USD/Ton

0.88%

17-10-2020

VSF

1534.80

USD/Ton

0.49%

17-10-2020

ASF

1824.18

USD/Ton

0%

17-10-2020

Polyester    POY

812.10

USD/Ton

0%

17-10-2020

Nylon    FDY

1996.73

USD/Ton

0%

17-10-2020

40D    Spandex

4544.81

USD/Ton

0.99%

17-10-2020

Nylon    POY

5364.36

USD/Ton

0%

17-10-2020

Acrylic    Top 3D

1043.07

USD/Ton

0%

17-10-2020

Polyester    FDY

1892.43

USD/Ton

0.79%

17-10-2020

Nylon    DTY

2011.64

USD/Ton

0%

17-10-2020

Viscose    Long Filament

968.57

USD/Ton

0%

17-10-2020

Polyester    DTY

2302.20

USD/Ton

0.65%

17-10-2020

30S    Spun Rayon Yarn

2086.14

USD/Ton

2.94%

17-10-2020

32S    Polyester Yarn

1594.41

USD/Ton

0%

17-10-2020

45S    T/C Yarn

2443.76

USD/Ton

0%

17-10-2020

40S    Rayon Yarn

2220.25

USD/Ton

1.36%

17-10-2020

T/R    Yarn 65/35 32S

2115.94

USD/Ton

2.90%

17-10-2020

45S    Polyester Yarn

1996.73

USD/Ton

1.52%

17-10-2020

T/C    Yarn 65/35 32S

1728.52

USD/Ton

4.50%

17-10-2020

10S    Denim Fabric

1.19

USD/Meter

0%

17-10-2020

32S    Twill Fabric

0.69

USD/Meter

0%

17-10-2020

40S    Combed Poplin

0.99

USD/Meter

0%

17-10-2020

30S    Rayon Fabric

0.49

USD/Meter

0%

17-10-2020

45S    T/C Fabric

0.67

USD/Meter

0%

17-10-2020

Source: Global Textiles

Note: The above prices are Chinese Price (1 CNY = 0.14901 USD dtd. 17/10/2020). The prices given above are as quoted from Global Textiles.com.  SRTEPC is not responsible for the correctness of the same.

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IMF urges policymakers to avoid premature withdrawal of support for the economy

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva on Friday urged policymakers to avoid premature withdrawal of support for the economy as coronavirus continues to spread in many parts of the world. Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures to contain it triggered a sharp downturn in the first half of this year, she said the economic activity has begun to recover, supported by a large-scale easing of fiscal and monetary policies in many advanced and emerging economies. The widespread adoption of health measures, allowing restart with economic activities while the pandemic is still there, Georgieva, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, said. “Avoid premature withdrawal of support for the economy, as this could inflict tremendous damage,” she said. “In terms of fiscal space and capacity to provide support, advanced economies have so far deployed 20 per cent of GDP, emerging market economies six per cent, and low-income countries 2 per cent,” Georgieva said in her address to the Development Committee Plenary Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva To help developing countries maintain support, the IMF and the World Bank will have to lean forward, she said. Georgieva also urged policymakers to gradually redirect public support to underpin structural change and the post-pandemic economy that should be more equitable and focused on knowledge, digital and green sectors. Job-rich investments can support this, like infrastructure rehabilitation in advanced economies, or new infrastructure in emerging markets and developing countries. This will help ensure a just transition, together with training and skills. “In other words, we need to build forward to the economy of tomorrow,” she said. “Deal with pre-existing conditions. Those countries that enter the crisis with strong fundamentals – like fiscal buffers, effective institutions, transparent governance and high quality of spending – are doing better. Those with pre-existing difficulties have been more severely affected,” the IMF chief said. Georgieva said that it would be essential to guarantee access to essential health supplies. “Borders need to remain open for trade. Vaccines and treatments need to be available to all when they are discovered,” she said. She welcomed the World Bank’s announcement of USD 12 billion to help developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of vaccines, tests, and treatments for their citizens. Manufacturing drives the recovery, while contract dependent services are lagging. “But we are not out of the woods. The virus continues to spread in many parts of the world. As a result, several countries have slowed reopening, and some are even reinstating partial lockdowns,” she said. The IMF expects global activity to contract by 4.4 per cent in 2020 – the sharpest decline since the Great Depression. A recovery of 5.2 per cent is expected in 2021, but even with this, the world economy would remain well below its pre-crisis growth path, she said. “Inflation is expected to remain subdued, as weak demand outweighs the impact of supply chain disruptions on prices. There is an exceptional degree of uncertainty around this outlook. “It relates to the spread and infectiousness of the virus, the public health response, the extent of global spillovers, financial market sentiment, and the persistence of supply chain disruptions. All this means that we have to be prepared for setbacks,” she said. “We are experiencing a tale of two cities. Parts of the economy and those employed in it are doing well, especially the digital economy and tech sector, while others face the grim reality of protracted and even permanent decline,” Georgieva said.

Source: Financial Express

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Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

Asia

India: Andhra Pradesh textile workers walk out

Nearly 4,000 textile workers, 90 percent of whom are women, from three Texport Industries plants in the Andhra Pradesh city of Hindupur, have been on strike since October 5 demanding a wage increase. They said the company is only paying 6,000 rupees ($82) per month to workers in Hindupur, lower than the company’s other units. Around 500 workers demonstrated outside the company’s office on October 9 after police arrested 25 trade union members who were supporting the strike on October 7. Workers complained that besides being paid below the official minimum wage there are no basic facilities in the factories. Texport Industries has an annual revenue of $80 billion and 19 directly-owned factories with over 15,000 employees.

Thousands of Assam tea plantation workers strike over poverty wages

Around 400,000 workers from 250 tea estates in India’s north-eastern state of Assam ended a week-long strike on Tuesday. They were protesting against the failure of the state government to increase their wages as promised in a 2018 agreement. The Assam government had promised to increase tea workers’ minimum daily wage to 350 rupees ($US4.7)—about double their salary—and formed a committee to lift workers’ compensation and overcome hazardous conditions in the estates. The workers have held several protests over these issues in the past two years. The strikers, the majority of whom are women, declared that they would launch a more aggressive campaign if their demands are not met soon.

Bokaro Steel Plant workers protest in Jharkhand

Thousands of permanent and contract workers from the state-run Bokaro Steel Plant (BSL) marched from the plant to the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) administration building on Monday in Bokaro over a series of outstanding demands. BSL is a unit of SAIL running under the union steel ministry. Management has been accused of ignoring a 13-point log of demands made by the company’s 9,335 permanent workers and 15,000 contract employees. The workers allege that BSL made a considerable profit in the last financial year and maintained production during the COVID-19 lockdown. BSL steel workers want a wage rise and a minimum 30,000-rupee ($US410) bonus prior to the Durga Puja (religious celebration), leave payments and other allowances.

Punjab state university workers protest

Academic staff and other workers from the Punjab Agriculture University in Ludhiana, the largest agricultural university in Asia, marched and held sit-down demonstration at the university on Wednesday. They were protesting over promotions. Workers said they are not being promoted, despite completion of the required number of years of service. The workers claimed that clerks with ten years’ service had not been promoted, even though the regulations state that clerks should be promoted to the next grade in five years. They demanded the experience period for promotions be reduced and that workers be given pay increases and implementation of the old pension scheme with improved benefits. This week a group of workers from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University in Punjab protested at the university gate against the non-payment of their salaries for the past seven months. The protesters said they were on the verge of starvation and most of them had taken loans from banks but were unable to pay the instalments. Karnataka higher education workers demonstrate over unpaid wages Karnataka State Higher Education Colleges Employees Union members demonstrated opposite the Joint Director of Higher Education office in Mysusu on October 9 to demand payment of outstanding wages to all college employees in the district. The workers alleged that college principals were falsely claiming that they were providing minimum wages for employees during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Telangana state forest nursery workers strike

About 100 workers from the Tellapur Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) nursery went on strike in Hyderabad on October 12 to demand payment of three months’ outstanding wages. The workers, who are only paid 9,000 rupees ($123) per month, alleged that the authorities don’t pay salaries on time, skip payment every few months and then pay for a month to compensate. They also said officials withheld salaries claiming poor performance. They complained that the number of workers at the nursery has been reduced to 50 percent adding to their workload.

Cochin Port workers protest against privatisation

The Cochin Port Joint Trade Union Forum began an indefinite hunger protest outside the Cochin Port head office in Kochi on October 4 over the Indian government’s move to privatise the port under its proposed Major Port Trust Authority Act, 2020. The union umbrella group proposed that port operations be streamlined and all vacant positions filled. They also demanded that expenses for dredging the shipping channel for the Kochi port should be shared by the Cochin Shipyard and the Indian Navy.

Pakistani government sector workers protest over wages and pensions

Thousands of government sector workers demonstrated in Islamabad on Wednesday to demand pay increases, ending of attacks on pensions and retirement benefit, and for a 100 percent rise in the medical allowance. A similar demonstration was held on October 6 in Islamabad by over 10,000 government sector workers from several provinces. That protest was called off by the All Pakistan Clerks Association after accepting a vague government promise to establish a committee to investigate workers’ demands. Participants in Wednesday’s protest included clerks, Lady Health Workers, teachers, pensioners, workers of Pakistan Railways and Pakistan International Airlines and others. The government deployed a 1,300-strong security force with armed vehicles and water cannons to stop the protesters marching to the National Assembly. The government, in line with International Monetary Fund dictates, has imposed a freeze on all government employees’ wages for the 2020–21 financial year. Workers accuse the government of planning to completely eliminate their retirement benefits. The latest protest was called by the All Pakistan Employees, Pensioners & Labour Tehreek, an umbrella organisation that included All Pakistan Clerks Association and other unions.

Cambodian garbage collectors end strike

Around 2,500 garbage truck crews employed by the contractor CINTRI ended a 13-day strike on Wednesday in the capital Phnom Penh. The strike began after CINTRI workers discovered that City Hall was planning to award the garbage collection contract to another contractor.

Source: WSWS

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Australian cotton industry upset with China's export shift

Cotton Australia and Australian Cotton Shippers Association, have announced that Australian cotton industry is working to understand apparent changes for cotton export conditions to China. It has become clear to the industry that National Development Reform Commission in China has been discouraging their spinning mills using Australian cotton. “Our industry is working with the Australian Government, including the trade and agriculture ministers’ offices, to investigate the situation and fully understand what is going on,” Adam Kay, CEO at Cotton Australia and Michael O’Rielley, chair at Australian Cotton Shippers Association, gave joint statement in a press release. “The Australian cotton industry has earned a reputation as a reliable international supplier of cotton with fast shipping times to export destinations and reliable delivery. Our crop is in strong demand internationally and can attract a price premium due to its high quality, excellent sustainability credentials, reliability and a proven track record in meeting manufacturer and consumer needs, including in China.” “Our industry’s relationship with China is of importance to us and is a relationship we have long valued and respected. To now learn of these changes for Australian cotton exports to China is disappointing, particularly after we have enjoyed such a mutually beneficial relationship with the country over many years. Despite these changes to our industry’s export conditions, we know Australian cotton will find a home in the international market,” the joint statement said. The Australian cotton industry has long enjoyed positive relationships with the many other countries it exports to, and the industry looks forward to continuing and developing those other relationships further.  “The Australian cotton industry will continue having meaningful conversations with stakeholders to fully understand this situation, and we will continue working with the Australian government to respectfully and meaningfully engage with China to find a resolution,” statement said in the release.

Source: Fibre2Fashion

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