Time to act tough
This is in reference to “Jaitley to be in office next week” (April 16). That the finance minister is joining work after recuperation is a welcome news. The most critical issue waiting for the FM's immediate attention is the issue of burgeoning non-performing assets. The NPA volcano is waiting to erupt and turn into a national catastrophe, with new skeletons tumbling out of the cupboard every day. The problem now calls for immediate corrective measures including bringing to book culprits responsible for the fiasco, however big they are. NPAs, willful default and scams like the one at Punjab National Bank are three cancers that require emergency surgery. Just the way Iceland worked with its banking sector to stem the rot. The question is whether the FM and the Narendra Modi government have the political will to take necessary steps to root out the NPA malady afflicting the banking sector and restore its health. Pushing the issue below the carpet for political or other reasons may lead to dire consequences.
Mahendra B Jain Belagavi accomplished, but Syria countered it saying most of the missiles were intercepted and shot down. With zero casualty — a great consolation — it looked like a facesaving and message-sending operation.
The West’s claim cannot be taken at face value as its earlier claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion turned out to be untrue. The proAssad and anti-West demonstrations in Damascus and other parts of Syria following the strikes demonstrated the strength of defiance and ruled out the overthrow of Assad by the West for all its military superiority. The seven-year Syrian war represents a human catastrophe of enormous proportions. The loss of life and suffering are too tremendous to be put in words. The revival of a political process by diplomatic means for a solution without compromising Syrians’ self-determination and selfrule is the only way forward.
G David Milton Maruthancode
Widen export basket
The oil export puzzle explored by A K Bhattacharya (April 16) is timely. The commerce ministry should act swiftly taking into cognizance the current situation on account of rising oil prices, trade wars and a depreciating rupee. While the export trends are encouraging, its sustainability is doubtful. The rupee will continue to slide further in the days to come because of the current trade war between the US and China and the fear of other countries joining the war zone soon with their tit-for-tat tariff measures. Meanwhile, rising oil prices will widen the current account deficit and will have a direct bearing on exports. However, the commerce ministry can turn this situation into a blessing in disguise.
The depreciating rupee can bring in higher value realisation of export proceeds; banks should be instructed to clear all export bills and issue BRCs (bank realisation certificates) quickly. A review of customs levies on import dependent raw materials for exportable products can also help higher export realisations where lower raw material import meant for export production could play a vital role to face the global competition. Out of bound shipments should be given top priority in customs clearance. The recent initiative of Market Development Mission (MDM) that is awaiting cabinet nod should be expedited.
As pointed out by the commerce minister recently, service sector exports could be a vital area that needs to be pushed up with identified 12 champion services where foreign exchange can be earned by providing these selected and highly potential services. The Chinese tariff barriers on US soya bean imports should also act as a blessing in disguise for Indian exports. The government should come out with higher incentives for exports of soya bean and make it competitive with the Chinese produce. All these measures can help to increase exports and tide over the current situation.
A Sathyanarayana Delhi