24, October 2016

 

1.Western Zonal Council Meeting

Source: PIB

The 22nd meeting of the Western Zonal Council consisting of the States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli was held at Mumbai under the chairmanship of  Ministry of Home Affair.

Keyfactors:

Issues which relate to coastal security, internal security, issuance of bio-metric identity cards to fishermen & issue of card readers, formulation of plans for countering terrorism, modernization of police force etc.

Other important issues discussed were Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (Urban) Mission, surplus lands of Central Government for ‘Housing for All : 2022’ and providing shelters to the urban homeless.

Issues relating to checking pollution in Daman Ganga and Kolak river due to discharge of untreated effluents from Vapi industrial area were deliberated in detail.

Issues relating to setting up of Regional Development Authority for development of infrastructure in the region, setting up of international museum of Indus – Valley civilization in Kutch District was also discussed.

What are the Zonal Councils?

Northern, Western, Eastern, Central and Southern were set up under the States Reorganization Act, 1956 to foster Inter-State co-operation and co-ordination among the States.

The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport etc.

They   are regional fora of cooperative endeavor for States linked with each other economically, politically and culturally

2.Prime Minister chairs the Inter-State Council meeting – Ministry of Home Affairs

Source: PIB

11th Meeting

  • Consideration of the Recommendations of the Punchhi Commission on Centre-State Relations
  • Use of Aadhaar as an identifier and use of DBT for providing Subsidies, Benefits and Public Services
  • Improving Quality of School Education with focus on improving learning outcomes, incentivising better performance, etc
  • Internal Security with focus on intelligence sharing and coordination for combating terrorism / insurgency , police reforms and police modernisation.

Vision:

Develop the Inter-State Council Secretariat as a vibrant organization to support Centre-State and Inter-State coordination and cooperation in India.

Mission:

Create a strong institutional framework to promote and support cooperative federalism in the country.

Activate the Inter-State Council and Zonal Councils by organizing its regular meetings.

Facilitate consideration of all pending and emerging issues of Centre State and Inter-State relations by the Zonal Councils and Inter- State Council.

Develop a sound system of monitoring the implementation of the recommendations of the Inter-State Council and Zonal Councils.

Constitution:

Article 263 of the Constitution of India provides for the establishment of an Inter-State Council. The text of the Article reads as under: 

If at any time it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of a Council charged with the duty of –

  1. inquiring into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between States;
  2. investigating and discussing subjects in which some or all of the States, or the Union and one or more of the States, have a common interest;
  3. making recommendations upon any such subject and, in particular, recommendations for the better co-ordination of policy and action with respect to that subject

 

3.Saudi Arabia looks to Russia to boost non-OPEC cooperation

Source: The Hindu

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih  invited his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak to meet Gulf Arab energy ministers in Riyadh as part of efforts to cooperate with non-OPEC members to stabilize the oil market.

Russia is one of the world’s biggest oil producers … and is one of the influential parties in the stability of the oil market,” Saudi minister said at the opening session of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). – Arab states of the Persian Gulf, except for Iraq. Its member states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

OPEC:

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed modest oil output cuts. The goal is to cut production to a range of 32.50-33.0 million barrels per day (bpd). OPEC which meeting last month was successful in pushing the path of cooperation between oil producing and consuming countries and included important talks between experts from OPEC countries and outside of OPEC about oil markets.

The low oil price environment had led to a decrease in investments which could lead to a shortage in supply in the future and have a negative effect on the global economy.  

Saudi minister calling on his Gulf energy counterparts to work together as a bloc.

Saudi minister said Novak had welcomed the invitation, “as a clear indication of sincere desire to continue cooperation and coordination with the oil producing and exporting countries for more stability in the market.

 

Saudi Arabia’s monster bond offer balloons to $17.5 billion as deal launches

Saudi Arabia launched a $17.5 billion sovereign offering in its first foray into the international bond market, drawing strong demand for the dollar-denominated offer.

The debt offering is a key part of the kingdom’s economic reform plan as it would give Saudi Arabia a sovereign benchmark that would help open its capital markets for future offerings, such as corporate issues.

 It also is a necessary boost to cash flow to help the country withstand a long downturn in oil prices.

Extricate itself from a sticky situation –  a deeply entrenched structural dependence on oil in a world of persistently low oil prices, which went from over $110 a barrel in 2012 to below $30 at the start of 2016. a new indication of how the drop in global oil prices has affected the Arab world’s largest economy and those who rely on it for their livelihoods.

This has, not surprisingly, had consequences for the kingdom, most of whose revenues come from oil.

It posted a record $98-billion budget deficit, or 16 per cent of GDP, in 2015, and is expected to grow at rates less than half of last year’s, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia  is only too aware of its precarious position. It has moved away from a ‘pump at will’ policy at OPEC, one designed to keep U.S. shale oil in check but that ended up hurting its own economy by pushing down oil prices.

It has also decreased government spending, cut public wages and bonuses, and plans an IPO of Saudi Aramco, the state oil producer, as part of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ‘Vision 2030’ reform plan. For now, the bond sale will help close its budget gap and take pressure off  its approximately $550 billion foreign exchange reserves.

The success of the debt issue, oversubscribed with orders totalling $67 billion, is due to three main factors.

First, despite the high price of the bonds and the long-term economic and geopolitical risks associated with Saudi Arabia, the yields looked attractive in the context of low interest rates in developed economies.

Second, oil prices have increased since the beginning of the year and are in the region of $50 a barrel.

Third, the kingdom’s salesmen are reported to have addressing investors concerns over the undiversified economy and reiterating Saudi Arabia’s commitment to peg the riyal to the dollar.

4.Lung friendly: Palampur to set the standards for air quality

Source: The Hindu

A hill station in Himachal Pradesh may soon set the bar for clean air in India

The National Physical Laboratory, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research organisation, best known for the being the repository of physical standards such as the kilogram, second and the centimetre, has set up instruments in Palampur that will measure atmospheric levels of a wide range of pollutants including ozone, nitrous oxides, ammonia and particulate matter.

 



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