The Hindu Important Articles 07 June 2018

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# RBI raises rates after 4.5 years as crude price surges

Repo rate now higher by 25 basis points; central bank maintains neutral stance
The six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday increased the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25%.

The MPC arrived at the unanimous decision as the outlook for inflation had become ‘uncertain’ following a surge in international crude oil prices.

This is the first rate hike in four-and-a-half years; the last was in January 2014.

Interest rates may go up

Banks may have anticipated the RBI’s move as major lenders such as the State Bank of India, the ICICI Bank and the Punjab National Bank had raised their lending rates last week.

While banks that have already raised rates may not increase them immediately, those yet to act are likely to announce revisions.

The RBI increased its inflation projection to 4.8%-4.9% in the first half (H1) of the financial year and 4.7% in the second half, as compared with 4.7-5.1% in H1 and 4.4% for H2.

“A major upside risk to the baseline inflation path in the April resolution has materialised, viz., 12% increase in the price of the Indian crude basket, which was sharper, earlier than expected and seems to be durable,” the central bank said, adding that the Indian crude basket surged to $74 a barrel from $66 since the last policy meeting in April.

“Crude oil prices have been volatile and this imparts considerable uncertainty to the inflation outlook — both on the upside and the downside,” the RBI said. Consumer price index-based inflation, or retail inflation, rose to 4.6% in April from 4.28% in March.

The central bank also observed that inflation expectations were on the rise, evident from its survey of households.

While the central bank has increased the inflation projection, it has maintained the ‘neutral’ stance for monetary policy, meaning interest rates can move either way.

“It is not conflicting at all… a neutral stance leaves all options open and other central banks also do the same,” RBI governor Urjit Patel said in the post-policy media interaction, asked if an increase in inflation projection along with a neutral stance sent conflicting signals.

“The committee felt there was enough uncertainty for us to keep the neutral stance and yet respond to the risk to inflation targets that has emerged in recent months,” Dr. Patel said.

The outlook for GDP growth for 2018-19 has been retained at 7.4% as projected in the April policy.

#  State’s financial status not sound: CAG

Government told to rein in fiscaldeficit to secure benefits
Rise in revenue and fiscal and primary deficits have taken their toll on the financial health of the State in 2016-17, the Comptroller and Auditor General has reported.

According to the CAG report on State finances for 2016-17, tabled in the Assembly on Wednesday, revenue deficit rose from Rs. 9,657 crore in 2015-16 to Rs. 15,484 crore, fiscal deficit from Rs. 17,818 crore to Rs. 26,448 core. The report also says that the share of capital expenditure in total expenditure has increased during the past two years. Fiscal deficit was 4% of the GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product) against the 14th Finance Commission recommendations to anchor it at 3%.

The 9.53% growth of revenue receipts posted during the period was the lowest growth rate in the past five years. The State’s own tax revenue (SOTR) too recorded the lowest growth rate of 8.16%. The CAG has recommended that the government rein in fiscal deficit to secure the benefits recommended by the 14th UFC and take action to step up SOTR collection. Revenue expenditure increased by 15.77 % over the previous year and 63% of this was constituted by the committed expenditure and it absorbed more than 76% of the revenue receipts.

Interest and pension payments consumed 16% and 20% respectively of the revenue receipts, which, the report says, is a matter of concern for the State. The average return on investment was 1.35% in the last five years, while the government paid an average interest at the rate of 7.18% for its borrowings. As much as 68% of the loans raised during the period was used for debt servicing. About 16% of the budgetary allocation was surrendered during year end. This included four grants and one appropriation. Imprudent reappropriation of funds points to lack of skill of officials in assessing their requirements. Funds released to District Collectors for various schemes were accumulated in the Treasury or nationalised banks. Considering the accumulation of unspent funds in the MLA Asset Development Fund year after year, the CAG has proposed the government to review the transfer of funds for such purposes.

#  Supreme Court parts the waters for Kaala

Refuses to stay release, says entire country waiting for it
In the end, the ‘one-headed Ravana’, as the eponymous hero of Kaala styles himself, was unstoppable. The Rajinikanth-starrer will hit the screens on Thursday, following judicial intervention from three different courts.

A day after the Karnataka High Court ordered the State government to give police protection to theatres screening the film, the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court refused to stay the release of the film, which has been facing legal and political hurdles.

While the Madras High Court refused to accede to a plea for an interim stay, a vacation bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices A.K. Goel and Ashok Bhushan did not entertain a plea by K.S. Rajashekaran seeking an injunction.

“You want an injunction against the release of the movie. Everybody is waiting for the film to be released,” the bench told the petitioner’s counsel. “Let it be released. How can we stop the release?” the bench said. The petitioner claimed that the script, songs, and scenes in the movie were his creation and had been used without his permission.

The film will hit the theatres in Karnataka, where pro-Kannada groups have been agitating against it, in protest against the actor-turned-politician’s remarks on the Cauvery river water dispute. Armed with the recent High Court order directing the government “to take adequate steps to ensure a peaceful atmosphere for the screening of the film”, Karnataka’s film distributors have decided to go ahead with the release.

Earlier, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had suggested voluntarily backing off from the release in view of the sentiments of the protesters. But he had also assured of police protection. Rajinikanth said that it was not right to oppose the film for his political views on the Cauvery river water dispute.

#  Harvest prayers
#  Undaunted, doctor performs last rites for Nipah victims Undaunted, doctor performs last rites for Nipah victims

Kozhikode health officer follows NCDC protocol
He gets frantic calls from home almost every day, a worried wife asking him to be careful about his health. But R.S. Gopakumar, health officer attached to the Kozhikode Corporation, seems fearless in the face of the unexpected outbreak of Nipah virus infection, even going to the extent of carrying the coffins and lighting the pyre of some of those who died of the rare disease.

The protocol laid down by an expert team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was followed during the cremation and burial as exposure to the virus can be fatal.

When 25-year-old Rasin succumbed to the infection on May 31, there was no one to perform his last rites.

His father had passed away and his mother was in the isolation ward of the Government Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode, with suspected symptoms.

Beyond the call of duty

“I asked Rasin’s mother if I could perform the final rites as per Hindu religious beliefs. She said yes. I carried the pall to the crematorium and lit the pyre and performed the rituals,” Dr. Gopakumar said.

The staff of the Ivor Madhom crematorium on the banks of the Bharathappuzha in Thrissur district helped him. A day earlier, he had to help the relatives of Abin, 26, who too lost his life to the virus, to perform the last rites.

Reema Sahay, scientist from the National Institute of Virology, was present at the Kannamparambu burial ground when the body of V. Moosa, whose two sons too died of the infection, was taken for last rites.

The directions from Dr. Sahay, an expert in handling Ebola victims, came in handy, Dr. Gopakumar pointed out. Those handling the body are supposed to wear personal protective equipment.

Some staff of a corporation crematorium even refused to perform the last rites of Rajan, one of the earlier victims. The body was kept in an ambulance for hours before Ivor Madhom staff were called in to do the rituals. Dr. Gopakumar also helped some others who died of suspected infection.

Sabeerath did not have any relatives except her husband. With his permission, Dr. Gopakumar carried the coffin to the burial ground. When the body of Raghu, 53, was taken to the crematorium, his relatives refused to wear the PPE and perform the rituals. “I carried the coffin myself with the help of some social activists and lit the pyre,” he added.

#  CM to brief NITI Aayog meet on State’s woes

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu will make a presentation on the problems being faced by Andhra Pradesh at the NITI Aayog meeting in New Delhi on June 16. Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu will accompany him.

Mr. Naidu asked the officials to prepare a detailed note on the issues, including the State and Centre relations, the impact of the Goods and Services Tax, the devolution of funds, the revenue deficit, the coastal economic zone, the funds for industrial corridors etc.

Mr. Naidu may press for more time to make his presentation. He is likely to write a letter to the Central government/NITI Aayog before attending the meeting.

#  J&K likely to seek truce extension

Buoyed by the security agencies’ assessment of the ‘Ramzan ceasefire or cease-ops’, the Jammu & Kashmir government is likely to push for a two-month extension of the Centre’s soft pursuit in the State during Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit on Thursday.

“The Ramzan ceasefire has brought visible change in the lives of the people. It has also brought an attitudinal change among the masses. This needs to be built on, and the momentum to pursue the efforts towards a political dialogue should continue,” Peoples Democratic Party leader and J&K Public Works Minister Naeem Akhtar told The Hindu .

Mr. Singh is scheduled to meet all security agencies operating in J&K and seek their inputs on the ‘cease-ops’ impact on the ground before taking a final call on its extension. The Centre had announced the halting of operations on May 16 in view of Ramzan.

PDP sources said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is likely to push for an extension of the ceasefire “so that the longish period allows more space to all stakeholders to rework their strategies and come up with a better response.” The separatists have so far decided to stay away from the talks and “asked the Centre to spell out its intention first on the process and insisted on including Pakistan in the dialogue.” Mr. Akhtar, also the government spokesman, said, “The dialogue process is an evolutionary one. CBMs could be considered once it starts.”

#  Phishing scam

As many as 20 persons, who had used their debit cards at the ATM of a private bank on Kamarajar road near Singanallur on Saturday, lost money from their bank accounts.

#  Contract terminated with breathalyser company

The Delhi traffic police have terminated a maintenance contract with a company after it failed to calibrate breathalysers that were giving inaccurate results. Improperly calibrated machines produce unreliable results, which can be challenged by drivers.

#   Statehood resolution tabled in Assembly

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday tabled a resolution in the Assembly seeking full statehood for Delhi and said a range of governance issues could have been resolved if Delhi were a full State.

#  Demand goes up for MGU course

The increase in demand for trained tax professionals following the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) seems to have made the B.Com. Model I course in Finance and Taxation the most sought after undergraduate programme offered by Mahatma Gandhi University in the academic year 2018-19. The surge in demand for the programme was evident right after the GST was rolled out in last July.

#  Dissidence in Congress, Janata Dal(S)

Soon after the much-awaited expansion of the State Cabinet on Wednesday, dissidence erupted in both the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress. Several senior legislators of the two parties expressed their anger against their respective party leaders for “ignoring their seniority and service”. In several districts, Congress workers staged protests for denying Cabinet berths for their leaders.

#  189-km four-laning work incomplete

As against the claims made by the Union government of having built an average of 28 km new NHs per day in 2017-18, work to upgrade the 189-km NH 66 between Kundapur and Goa border has made very little progress.

#  IMD: Monsoon expected to set in today in State

The State is expected to see heavy rain next week as weather systems line up, intensifying the monsoon. IMD officials said that by Thursday, the whole of the State would be officially covered by the monsoon.

#  Contract terminated with breathalyser company

The Delhi traffic police have terminated a maintenance contract with a company after it failed to calibrate breathalysers that were giving inaccurate results. Improperly calibrated machines produce unreliable results, which can be challenged by drivers.

Source:- The Hindu

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