Govt can save over ₹30,000 crore food subsidy with FCI rejig

Government’s food subsidy bill can come down by over ₹30,000 crore a year by reducing coverage of beneficiaries to 40 per cent under the food law and outsourcing major work of FCI to State governments and private players, according to an eight-member panel headed by Mr Shanta Kumar. Prime Minister Modi has termed the recommendations as “pro-farmer and “pro-poor” and said that their “implementation would have miraculous results”.

Among the key recommendations, the panel has suggested direct cash transfer of ₹3,000 per person a year as food subsidy and ₹7,000 per hectare as farm input subsidy besides revisit of minimum support price (MSP) policy with more focus on pulses and oilseeds.

The key role of Food Corporation of India (FCI) is to buy foodgrains to ensure MSP to farmers, and distribute it to the poor under the public distribution system (PDS).

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Via Business Standard

WHO Global status report on non-communicable diseases 2014

This global status report on prevention and control of NCDs (2014), is framed around the nine voluntary global targets. The report provides data on the current situation, identifying bottlenecks as well as opportunities and priority actions for attaining the targets. The 2010 baseline estimates on NCD mortality and risk factors are provided so that countries can report on progress, starting in 2015.

In addition, the report also provides the latest available estimates on NCD mortality (2012) and risk factors, 2010-2012.

All ministries of health need to set national NCD targets and lead the development and implementation of policies and interventions to attain them. There is no single pathway to attain NCD targets that fits all countries, as they are at different points in their progress in the prevention and control of NCDs and at different levels of socioeconomic development. However all countries can benefit from the comprehensive response to attaining the voluntary global targets presented in this report.

CLICK Here to Download the Report.

IMF cuts global growth outlook, calls for accommodative policy

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its forecast for global economic growth in 2015, and called for governments and central banks to pursue accommodative monetary policies and structural reforms to support growth.

Global growth is projected at 3.5 percent for 2015 and 3.7 percent for 2016, the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook report, lowering its forecast by 0.3 percentage points for both years.

New factors supporting growth, lower oil prices, but also depreciation of euro and yen, are more than offset by persistent negative forces, including the lingering legacies of the crisis and lower potential growth in many countries,” Olivier Blanchard, the IMF’s chief economist, said in a statement.

The IMF advised advanced economies to maintain accommodative monetary policies to avoid increasing real interest rates as cheaper oil heightens the risk of deflation.

If policy rates could not be reduced further, the IMF recommended pursuing an accommodative policy “through other means”.

The United States was the lone bright spot in an otherwise gloomy report for major economies, with its projected growth raised to 3.6 percent from 3.1 percent for 2015.

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Via Reuters.

Government constitutes National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog

The Union Government has replaced Planning Commission with a new institution named NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India). The institution will serve as ‘Think Tank’ of the Government-a directional and policy dynamo. NITI Aayog will provide Governments at the central and state levels with relevant strategic and technical advice across the spectrum of key elements of policy, this includes matters of national and international import on the economic front, dissemination of best practices from within the country as well as from other nations, the infusion of new policy ideas and specific issue-based support.

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via Press Information Bureau

Climate Agreement – India needs to take the lead

Without Indian leadership, there will be no climate change agreement. The country should improve its own energy efficiency

The latest marathon negotiations on climate change recently finished in Lima, Peru. Many outside observers feel that the centerpiece of Lima, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), neither to be reviewed nor externally monitored, are too weak to have any real impact on climate change.

Despite this, the Indian delegation expressed satisfaction over the result. So has the U.S, which is understandable since little is really being asked of it in terms of commitments. But what is India seeking?

Let’s look at the situation. India is a warm and primarily subtropical country where agriculture and drinking water depend on the monsoons. Northern India depends on river systems which are sustained by melting Himalayan glaciers. The country has a long coastline. It is also regularly exposed to extreme weather events — floods, droughts and hurricanes — and suffers from the presence of mosquitoes and other vectors that can carry infectious diseases.

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via The Hindu

Making sense of the growth puzzle

The performance of the Indian economy has been quite enigmatic in the past two-three years. Two successive years of low growth cast a shadow on our growth potential and we went around looking for reasons. Policy paralysis dramatized the issue and remained embedded in our minds. The cabinet committee on investment under the United Progressive Alliance government cleared as much as over Rs.6 trillion worth of investment by February. Yet, growth remained anaemic. We then said that we need reforms and there was some movement on land reforms and foreign direct investment in retail. Then the central government changed. Clearances have continued and the administration has been made to take decisions. Yet, the economic situation is at best stable, although sentiment is sanguine. Are we missing something?

An analysis of the growth path since 2011-12 shows slowdown has been due to a series of issues in which the government plays only a secondary role. The main issue has been with demand, where the level of spending has come down. The three major components: consumption, investment and government have shown limited traction.

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via Livemint

Kotak Mahindra Bank-ING Vysya Bank merger – A trendsetter bank merger?

Is the Kotak Mahindra Bank-ING Vysya Bank merger announcement last week the beginning of a much-talked about and advocated consolidation in Indian banking space? Or, is it just a one-off aberration?

It is a little premature to read in this amalgamation move a much larger trend in the industry. Nevertheless, the deal has yet again brought the focus firmly on the need for consolidation in the banking field in the context of happenings in the global arena.

Also, the inevitability of consolidation has to be understood in the light of stricter policy, regulatory and governance requirements.

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via  The Hindu