Current Affairs

Morning Brief: Fuel Prices May Come Down By Diwali: Pradhan; Moody’s Upbeat On India FDI Inflows

Swarajya Staff

Sep 19, 2017, 06:15 AM | Updated 06:15 AM IST

A fuel pump employee fills
a car with petrol at a service station in New Delhi. (GettyImages)
A fuel pump employee fills a car with petrol at a service station in New Delhi. (GettyImages)

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

Fuel Prices May Come Down By Next Month, Says Oil Minister: Amid criticism by opposition parties of a sharp rise in oil prices after the daily rate revision mechanism was introduced by the government, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday that fuel prices may come down by next month. “Fuel prices may come down by Diwali festival,” he said. Pradhan said prices of refinery oil went up because production of oil dropped by 13 per cent in the US due to floods. On being asked about margin of the oil companies, he said they are being run by the government. “And everything is crystal clear,” he said, ruling out “higher margins” for the companies. To a question about bringing oil under the goods and services tax (GST), Pradhan said that he hoped that it might be brought under the GST. “It will extend enormous benefit to customers,” he said.

Moody’s Upbeat On India FDI Inflows: International ratings agency Moody’s said on Monday that India is likely see increased foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows on the back of reforms such as introduction of the goods and services tax and the bankruptcy code. “Combined with reforms such as the introduction of a goods and services tax, which lowers the cost and complexity of doing business, and a simplified and clarified bankruptcy code, FDI is likely to rise further,” the agency said in its report on how structural reforms by Asia Pacific sovereigns could become more effective from stronger global demand. Moody’s said the positive economic impact of India and Indonesia’s measures to attract higher levels of FDI, combined with steps to improve business conditions, are likely to be more apparent in a stronger global macroeconomic environment. The agency has maintained India’s sovereign rating at Baa3 positive.

Supreme Court To Take A Call On Rohingyas, Says Rajnath Singh: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday that the Supreme Court would take a call on the Centre’s decision to deport the Rohingyas, who entered India illegally. “An affidavit has been filed. Whatever decision is to be taken, it will be taken by the Supreme Court, and we shall wait for its decision,” he said. Last week, when asked about deportation of the Rohingya, Singh said at a press conference in Jammu that they were “illegal” immigrants, and a security threat from them could not be ruled out. The government had told the parliament on 9 August that according to available data, more than 14,000 Rohingyas, registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, were staying in India. However, some inputs indicate that around 40,000 undocumented Rohingyas were staying in India, mostly in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan regions.

Google Launches Digital Payment Service Tez: Supporting the Union government’s efforts to speed-up digital payments, Google on Monday launched its unified payment interface (UPI)-based payment app ‘Tez’ for Android and iOS devices. The app seeks to facilitate big or small payments through a mobile phone, and acts like a mobile wallet. For payments on Tez, Google has tied up with State Bank of India and other UPI supported banks. Apart from English and Hindi, Tez is available in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Gujarati and Marathi. “Google Tez app is designed for India and made in India. It supports seven Indian languages and more will be on the way. Our focus with this is on digital payments,” Google’s vice-president for next billion users, Caesar Sengupta, said. Google also announced ‘Tez for Business’, which offers businesses new ways to unlock the potential of digital payments and engage with their customers.

Dawood Ibrahim's Brother Arrested In Extortion Case: Pakistan-based underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's younger brother Iqbal Kaskar was arrested by the Thane police on charges of extortion on Monday night. According to sources, a case was filed following a complaint by a Mumbai-based builder, who had alleged that Iqbal Kaskar had made repeated demands for flats even after receiving four flats in Mumbai. The arrest was made by Pradeep Sharma, a former encounter specialist, who heads the anti-extortion cell of the Thane police. “Kaskar had been threatening builders on behalf of Dawood Ibrahim and was demanding huge extortion money as a cut for his brother,” said police. Many of these builders who are from Thane, Ulhasnagar, Dombivli had allegedly paid huge sums of extortion money to Kaskar.

Electronic Toll Tax Collection On Highways To Start By 31 October: Commuters across the country’s highways will not have to wait in endless queues to pay their toll tax as the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry gearing up to launch its electronic toll collection (ETC) system by 31 October. Initially, only two toll lanes on a highway will have this system. But officials said eventually they would expand it to all the lanes. “Though 100 per cent of the toll lanes will be equipped with ETC infrastructure, as of now only two lanes will be earmarked for smart tag users,” Y S Malik, Road Transport and Highways Secretary said. In the remaining lanes, commuters can pay using cash, cards or e-wallets. The ETC system will be based on radio frequency identification tags, called FastTags. Each tag will have a unique code, which will help the toll plaza identify the vehicle and automatically deduct the tax as it drives by.

Trump Calls For Bold UN Reforms: Ahead of his maiden speech to the annual United Nations General Assembly today (19 September), US President Donald Trump criticised the organisation for bloated bureaucracy and mismanagement on his first visit to its headquarters, calling for “truly bold reforms” so it could be a greater force for world peace. “In recent years the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement, while the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 per cent and its staff has more than doubled since 2000,” Trump said. In his first remarks at the UN in New York since his inauguration as president in January, Trump said, “I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just and greater force for peace and harmony in the world”.

Hafiz Saeed's JuD To Contest 2018 General Elections In Pakistan: Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's Jammat-ud-Dawah (JuD) will enter Pakistan's political scene by contesting the 2018 general elections. Sheikh Yaqoob, a JuD-backed candidate who was defeated by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif's wife Kulsoom from a parliamentary seat that fell vacant after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court, said the new front "will field candidates in every constituency of the country in next year's election". "We are here to stay in the political field. People want a party that talks about making Pakistan strong against its enemies India, the United States and Israel and at the same time help them in solving their basic livelihood problems," he said. The JuD has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the United States in June 2014 and its chief carries a $10 million American bounty on his head for his role in terror activities.


What Does The Wage Data Say About The Economy? Real wages of casual workers in agriculture and non-agricultural areas were increasing at 7 per cent per annum between 2007-08 and 2012-13. As against this, real wages in agriculture between 2013-14 and 2016-17 have slowed to 1 per cent per annum. The deceleration in real agricultural wages not only confirms the worsening demand situation in rural areas but also confirm the lack of job creation in rural areas.

Math In The Gap: The only way to make sense of data where brute-force computer processing fails is to use mathematical tools used to understand the tradeoffs between data and uncertainty. It turns out that mathematics still needs to step in where today’s computers cannot go.

India’s Economy: Dark Clouds And Silver Linings: India may see a small cyclical recovery in the months ahead. However, a sustainable recovery will depend on investment activity. Public investment will have to hold the fort till the private sector deleverages, banks are cleaned up and excess capacity is worked out of the system.

High-Speed Rail And Modernisation Of Indian Railways: High-speed rail is a wonderful opportunity for Indian Railways to move multiple levels in technology in one go and thereby bring a sea change in the speed and safety of rail travel and create a new benchmark for quality of service.


Missing: A Coherent Narrative On What Government Is Doing With Petro-Tax Bounties: The Modi government needs to create a new narrative around how high taxes pay for sensible policies instead of just telling the better off to like it or lump it. With less than 20 months to go for the next general elections, and many state assembly elections in-between, the government cannot fail to build a credible narrative on taxes.

We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!

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