THE HINDU EDITORIAL : 3 August- 2017
THE HINDU EDITORIAL : 3 August- 2017
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a) Space for a cut
By cutting the policy repo rate by 25 basis points, the Reserve Bank of India has opted to play safe while nominally acceding to the clamour for softer lending rates. The Monetary Policy Committee’s majority decision (one member voted to keep rates unchanged, while another wanted a deeper cut) hinged on its observation that some “upside risks to inflation have either reduced or not materialised”, opening up “some space” for accommodation. Specifically, the bimonthly policy statement refers to the significant slowdown over the past three months in core inflation — retail price gains excluding those for food and fuel. It notes that the monsoon has so far been normal, and the initial roll-out of GST has been “smooth”. Yet, the six-member panel has chosen to retain the “neutral” stance, given that it expects the trajectory of inflation to rise from current lows amid a welter of uncertainties. The factors deterring a more abidingly benign view for the path that prices are likely to traverse bear repeating, given the inflation-targeting remit handed to the MPC: the RBI’s statement does just that. A conclusive separation of “transitory and structural factors” impacting price gains remains elusive. Prices of inflation-sensitive tomatoes and onions are spiking. Pressures may be building that could spur higher animal protein costs for consumers. The implementation of farm loan waivers by States and the “tail risk” that the fiscally expansive measures could pose to long-term price stability that RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya referred to in June, continue to be germane. And there is no clarity on whether and when State governments will implement salary and allowance increases following the Centre’s implementation of the seventh pay panel-related hikes. The MPC acknowledges there are moderating forces at work — a second successive normal monsoon that could check food costs and a stable international commodity price outlook — that could help keep the inflation trajectory favourable. On economic activity, the RBI has fagged multiple concerns. A poll of business sentiment in the manufacturing sector shows respondents expect a moderation in July-September from the preceding quarter. Also, the high levels of stress that continue to be reflected in the balance sheets of both lenders and corporate borrowers presage the unlikelihood of any uptick in new investment. With the underlying impulses for growth in industry and services weakening, the onus is now on the Centre and the States to take enabling steps, through policy measures and directed fiscal actions, to give a thrust for the revival of private investment. Surely, as Mr. Acharya cautioned in June, it will serve nobody’s interests if the rate reduction doesn’t have “the desired amplifier effects on the economy” and ends up only temporarily masking the true problems in the banking and real sectors.
b) Contested polls
After months of political protests and government crackdowns, Venezuela held elections to a new Constituent Assembly to rewrite the Constitution. President Nicolas Maduro claims the new assembly was required to calm the unrest that has beset Venezuela amid an economic contraction and runaway inflation. But the opposition boycotted the polls to the assembly, which it says is being convened to overhaul the powers of the elected National Assembly where the opposition parties enjoy a two-thirds majority after electoral victories in December 2015. The Constituent Assembly was announced by decree by the government. It said that nearly 41.5% of the registered electorate voted in the polls, a figure the opposition contests. The need for a Constituent Assembly to address the crisis seems unclear. Venezuela had last elected one in 1999 following a referendum during former President Hugo Chavez’s first term. That vote had overwhelmingly backed a new Constituent Assembly to enable the transition of Venezuela’s political system from the Fourth Republic to the Bolivarian Republic. The creation of the Bolivarian Republic was claimed to be a decisive step away from Puntofjismo, a pact among dominant political parties to install a formal liberal democratic order that limited political competition and was seen to rig economic policy in favour of the elite. Among the outcomes of the constitution-writing process in 1999 were an extension of the term limit of the presidency, assured representation for marginalised indigenous groups in the National Assembly and conversion of the bicameral legislature into a unicameral body. President Chavez’s redistributionist economic agenda relied heavily on the income generated by the nationalised petroleum industry. In the boom years, this may have lifted some sections of Venezuelans from poverty and provided a measure of education and health care, helping the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) consolidate its hold on power. However, the spree of reckless spending and a failure to diversify the economy resulted in a severe economic crisis once oil prices started falling. Mr. Maduro has struggled to manage the political fallout of the economic contraction — by some estimates, by a third in the past four years. The government continues to count on the promise of a commodity boom in the extraction industry, but the upturn in global oil prices has not been enough to spark an economic revival. The persisting unrest has weakened support to the regime. A strengthened opposition, even with key leaders placed under arrest, has sought to use this to delegitimise the PSUV’s rule and seek fresh elections. Mr. Maduro’s attempt to consolidate power through the new Constituent Assembly lacks legitimacy and may not heal the democratic rupture.
Meaning: Agree to a demand, request, or treaty.
Example: The authorities did not accede to the strikers’ demands.
Synonyms: Agree to, consent to, accept
Antonyms: Refuse, deny
Meaning: A loud and confused noise, especially that of people shouting.
Example: The questions rose to a clamour.
Synonyms: Din, Racket
Meaning: Attach or join with or as if with a hinge.
Example: The ironing board was set into the wall and hinged at the bottom.
Synonyms: Depend, Hang
Meaning: A general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.
Example: Policies aimed at controlling inflation.
Meaning: The path followed by a projectile flying or an object moving under the action of given forces.
Example: The missile’s trajectory was preset.
Synonyms: Course, Route
Meaning: Discourage (someone) from doing something by instilling doubt or fear of the consequences.
Example: Only a health problem would deter him from seeking re-election.
Synonyms: Discourage, Dissuade
Meaning: Cancel or refrain from exacting or inflicting (a debt or punishment).
Example: The excess of the sentence over 12 months was remitted.
Synonyms: Cancel, Repeal
Meaning: Difficult to find, catch, or achieve.
Example: Success will become ever more elusive.
Synonyms: Evasive, Slippery
Meaning: Extremely tired; exhausted.
Example: We were all absolutely fagged out.
Synonyms: Exhausted, Tired
Meaning: A small increase or slight upward trend.
Example: An uptick in foreign tourism.
Meaning: Something that is one’s duty or responsibility.
Example: The onus is on you to show that you have suffered loss.
Synonyms: Burden, Responsibility
Meaning: An official order that has the force of law.
Example: The decree guaranteed freedom of assembly.
Synonyms: Order, Mandate
Meaning: Manage or conduct (something) fraudulently so as to gain an advantage.
Example: The results of the elections had been rigged.
Synonyms: Manipulate, Pervert
Meaning: (Of a legislative body) having two chambers.
Example: A bicameral Parliament consisting of an appointed Senate and a popularly elected House of Assembly.
Meaning: A spell or sustained period of unrestrained activity of a particular kind.
Example: He went on a six-month crime spree.
Synonyms: Binge, Splurge
Meaning: withdraw legitimate status or authority from.
Example: The country has been delegitimized by the world community.