Economic and Political Weekly 17-11-2019

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World

Politics

· The university staff are gone and the foreign students are gone’

The university was preparing for a big anniversary week with celebratory performances and graduation ceremonies planned. Instead, it now stands as an embattled fortress protected by hundreds of exhausted, scared yet resolute students. The teaching and management staff of City University of Hong Kong are nowhere to be seen. The corridors in the once orderly campus are covered with graffiti and shards of glass.

· Hong Kong and China condemn ‘violent mob’ attack on official in London

The Chinese and Hong Kong governments condemned on 15th Nov an attack by a “violent mob” on the city’s justice secretary in London, the first direct altercation between demonstrators and a government minister during months of often violent protests. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, who was in London to promote Hong Kong as a dispute resolution and deal-making hub, was targeted by a group of protesters who shouted “murderer” and “shameful”. A statement by the Hong Kong government said Ms Cheng suffered “serious bodily harm” but gave no details.

·Sri Lanka: how Easter attacks shaped presidential election

On a vast tract of newly reclaimed land off Sri Lanka’s seafront capital, construction is under way on a huge Chinese-backed project designed to turn the small, tropical island nation into a south Asian Singapore: a hub of financial services, business and tourism. To be built over the next 25 years – at an expected cost of $15 billion (€13.6 billion), Colombo Port City will have 5.6m sq m of sea-facing office, residential and commercial space to woo investors fleeing messy, unplanned urbanization elsewhere in south Asia. The biggest, most ambitious foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka’s history, the project is a vision of what the country could be. Yet two luxury hotels overlooking the site – including the towering, two-year-old Shangri-La – reflect a more contemporary preoccupation: tight security with guards, metal detectors, cameras and airport-style baggage scanners carefully screening visitors and their belongings. Many Sri Lankans hoped they had left the threat of terrorism and heavy surveillance behind them in 2009 with the end of a decades-long, ethnic civil war that killed more than 100,000 people in combat, massacres and suicide bombings.

· Two killed, three wounded following school shooting in California

A California high school student on his 16th birthday opened fire on campus on 14th Nov, killing a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy and wounding three other teens before shooting himself in the head, officials said. The suspect survived but was in grave condition, officials said.

After drawing a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun from his backpack, he opened fire on the other students, and he saved the last bullet for himself, Cpt Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told a news conference.

·  Trump impeachment hearing showed ‘evidence of bribery’, says Pelosi

Marie Jovanovich, the career State Department official who was recalled early by the Trump administration as ambassador to Ukraine, will testify on 15th Nov before the House Intelligence Committee – the third witness to appear in the public impeachment hearings. Ms Jovanovich previously told lawmakers that she believed she was the victim of a concerted campaign to remove her from her post orchestrated by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others. Her testimony will be seen as a key part of Democrats’ case that Mr. Trump operated an irregular foreign policy campaign in Ukraine that was not in America’s interests – the key focus of the impeachment inquiry. Her appearance comes two days after her successor as ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, and State Department official George Kent became the first witnesses to publicly testify.

·  Velvet Revolution memories bittersweet as Czechs worry for their democracy

 Tomas Halik admits questioning the scope of papal infallibility during a private Vatican dinner with Pope John Paul II in November 1989, when the pontiff told him: “This is the end of communism . . . Get ready: you too will soon be free!” “He said ‘you must be prepared for great change in your country’, but I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly,” recalls Halik, a member of the “underground church” in Czechoslovakia who was secretly ordained as a priest in 1978 in East Germany. A couple of days after that memorable dinner, the Berlin Wall were breached and within a fortnight hundreds of thousands of Czechoslovaks were rallying in Prague during what would become known as the Velvet Revolution. Halik (71) says the revolution healed the nation and united church leaders such as Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek and Vaclav Maly with Vaclav Havel and other secular intellectuals who, within weeks, were being catapulted into power.

·  Waters rise again in Venice following record flooding

Waters have been rising again in Venice, just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said he was forced to ask police to block off the famous St Mark’s Square, which was already covered in knee-high water on Friday morning.

·Israel and Islamic Jihad agree Gaza ceasefire

After intensive mediation efforts involving Egypt and the United Nations, a ceasefire was declared early on 14th Nov morning to end the violence between Israel and Gaza militants that had left 34 Palestinians dead and brought the southern Israel to a standstill. Six hours after the truce was declared five rockets were launched from Gaza, sending Israelis running to their bomb shelters again.

Economy

  • Consumer spending in India’s rural areas has plummeted to a four-decade low, a leading business daily reported 15th Nov, bringing more bad news for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he struggles to revive a stuttering economy.

Consumer demand in India’s villages fell 8.8 per cent between July 2017 and June 2018 – the sharpest 12-month drop since 1972-73, the Business Standard reported, using unpublished data recorded by India’s National Statistical Office (NSO). Two-thirds of the 1.3 billion population live in rural areas, making it a key economic driver. But spending on food, education and clothing declined, with demand for essential items such as cereals plunging 20 percent, the newspaper said.

GLOBAL INDICES AS OF 16th November 2019

As compared to 9th November 2019   

Global indices as of 16th November 2019
Name Current Value Prev.

Close

US MARKETS    
 NASDAQ (Nov 15) 8,540.83 8479.02
EUROPEAN MARKETS    
 FTSE (Nov 15) 7,302.94 7292.76
 CAC (Nov 15) 5,939.27 5901.08
 DAX (Nov 15) 13,241.75 13180.23
ASIAN MARKETS    
 SGX NIFTY (Nov 16) 11,926.00 11944.00
 NIKKEI 225 (Nov 15) 23,303.32 23141.55
 STRAITS TIMES (Nov 15) 3,238.86 3231.85
 HANG SENG (Nov 15) 26,326.66 26323.69
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Nov 15) 11,525.60 11450.42
 KOSPI (Nov 15) 2,162.18 2139.23
 SET COMPOSITE (Nov 15) 1,602.23 1609.47
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Nov 15) 6,128.34 6098.95
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Nov 15) 2,891.34 2909.87

 

Global indices as of 9th November 2019
Name Current Value Prev

.Close

US MARKETS    
 NASDAQ (Nov 08) 8,475.31 8434.52
EUROPEAN MARKETS    
 FTSE (Nov 08) 7,359.38 7406.41
 CAC (Nov 08) 5,889.70 5890.99
 DAX (Nov 08) 13,228.56 13289.46
ASIAN MARKETS    
 SGX NIFTY (Nov 09) 11,950.50 11947.00
 NIKKEI 225 (Nov 08) 23,391.87 23330.32
 STRAITS TIMES (Nov 08) 3,264.30 3285.72
 HANG SENG (Nov 08) 27,651.14 27847.23
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Nov 08) 11,579.54 11606.56
 KOSPI (Nov 08) 2,137.23 2144.29
 SET COMPOSITE (Nov 08) 1,637.85 1640.88
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Nov 08) 6,177.99 6165.62
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Nov 08) 2,964.18 2978.71

 

Pakistan

Politics

· Azadi March Plan B’: JUI-F continues to block roads across Pakistan.

Thousands of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) protesters continue to block highways across Pakistan on 15th Nov as part of the party’s ‘Plan B’. According to News, traffic flow remains affected in several parts of the country. As JUI-F activists blocked some key roads in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi of the PML-Q met Maulana Fazl at the residence of the JUI-F’s Senator Talha Mehmood, but neither side divulged the agenda of the meeting. However, the Maulana reiterated his demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and said that he was seeing snap elections in the current year.“2020 is far away. I see elections in 2019,” the JUI-F chief said while talking to media after the meeting. He also raised the demand that Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif be allowed to leave the country on medical grounds, without any pre-conditions. However in blockade, ambulances have been allowed to move24 hours with heavy traffic to run in the night.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on 15th Nov ruled that the PML-N petition for removal of Nawaz Sharif’s name from the ECL on a conditional basis was admissible. 

The High Court dismissed the NAB and federal government’s stance on the matter, adjourning the hearing until tomorrow (Saturday). The LHC resumed hearing on an application seeking removal of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL). The high court will conduct a hearing on the matter on Saturday at 11:30 am. 

  • At least 20 men, women and children died when lightning struck rural areas of Mithi, Chhachhi near Islamkot town, Ram Singh Sodho village near Diplo town and several other villages during widespread rains in Tharparkar district that began battering the desert region late on Wednesday night and continued into Thursday.

Unofficial figures put the number of deaths at 23 as reports of lightning and casualties were still coming in when this report was filed at around midnight Thursday.There are also reports of hundreds of animals that have perished in the lightning strikes and fire that followed in the affected areas.

Economy

  • Foreign investment in treasury bills reached a new high of $712.8 million in the first four months of this fiscal year.

The recent State Bank of Pakistan data indicates investment in government-backed securities has become attractive for foreigners. The financial sector believes that foreign investors’ growing interest in government papers reflects their confidence in the economic reforms being implemented in the country. However, some researchers attribute this increased demand to the high yield of treasury bills. In the last auction of T-bills held on November 6, the cut-off yield for three and six-month securities were 13.28 per cent and 13.29pc, respectively.

  • The textile industry on 14th Nov warned that due to non-payment of refunds worth around Rs80 billion, there was an acute liquidity crunch.

Addressing a press conference, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Chairman Amanullah Kassim regretted that time and again, the government had been committing to make timely payment of refunds but this never materialises.He said after removing five export-oriented sectors from zero rating from July 1, the government under pressure of International Monetary Fund imposed 17 per cent sales tax on exports on the assurance that refunds would be paid within 72 hours. However, he said the software developed by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) under the name of FASTER for payment of refunds failed to operate properly, resulting in blocking of significant sums.

  • Minister for National Food Security Mehboob Sultan has blamed the Sind government for the surging prices of wheat and flour in the province.

Addressing a news conference on 14th Nov, the minister said for the first time in history the Sind government did not procure even a single grain during the last procurement season. The Sind government officials had informed the federal ministry that 1.6 million tons of wheat would be purchased but failed to carry out procurement during the last wheat crop. Punjab and Sind are the two provinces which grow wheat during rabbi season.

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 16th November 2019 as compared to 9th November  2019
Countries PKR rate as of 9th November   2019 PKR rate as of   16th November  2019
U.S.A. $ 155.70 155.50
U.K. Pounds 201.00 201.00
Euro 173.50 172.50
Japan Yen 1.45 1.43
Saudi Arabia Rial 41.60 41.45
U.A.E. Dirham 42.55 42.45

 

Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices

As of 16th November 2019 As Compared

To 9th November 2019

 

Position as of 16th November 2019
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 276 (Curr) Current 37583.89 Current 17757.27
Decline 89 (High) High 37634.75 High 17775.60
Unchanged 12 (Low) Low 37225.61 Low 17555.95
Total Change 377  340.69  201.32

Position as of 9th November 2019
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 193 (Curr) Current 35978.16 Current 16908.63
Decline 131 (High) High 36048.52 High 16965.86
Unchanged 21 (Low) Low 35758.52 Low 16812.87
Total Change 345  219.64  95.76

 

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