Economic & Political Weekly 28-4-2019

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World

Politics

·         Top Sri Lankan officials withheld intelligence on attacks -minister

A video released by ISIS showed eight men purported to be the Sri Lankan attackers.

Senior officials deliberately withheld intelligence about possible attacks on Sri Lanka, where suicide bombings on Easter Sunday killed at least 359 people, the leader of parliament said on Wednesday. “Some top intelligence officials hid the intelligence information purposefully. Information was there, but the top brass security officials did not take appropriate actions Details began to emerge in Sri Lanka on Wednesday of a band of nine Islamist suicide bombers, including a woman, from well-to-do families who slaughtered 359 people in Easter Sunday bomb attacks. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the co-ordinated attacks on three churches and four hotels. If that connection is confirmed, the attacks look likely to be the deadliest ever linked to the group, which is also known as Isis. Two of the suicide bombers involved in the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka was members of a prominent and wealthy family in Colombo, sources have told in a development that has rocked the small Muslim community in the city. The brothers, Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim and Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim, were among the band of extremists who blew themselves up in 21st April attacks, two sources with knowledge of the investigation said. Their father, Mohamed Ibrahim, is the founder of Colombo-based Ishana Exports, which describes itself on its website as the “largest exporter of spices from Sri Lanka since 2006.” Mohamed Ibrahim was among dozens of people detained in the wake of the attacks, which killed 359 people and injured more than 500, Video footage shows Ibrahim being led away by police. Authorities have not announced any charges against him.

 

·         Tory MPs ask Theresa May to set out resignation timetable

Conservative MPs have asked Theresa May to set out clearly when she will resign but they rejected a proposal to allow a confidence vote in her leadership as early as June. The backbench 1922 Committee voted against a change to the rule that leaves the prime minister immune to a leadership challenge before next December. “We looked at the fact that the prime minister gave a very firm timetable for her departure as leader a few weeks ago in the eventuality that the withdrawal agreement is passed in parliament. We have resolved to request that she sets a similarly clear timetable or schedule for her departure as leader in other circumstances.

 

·         Hong Kong jails ‘Occupy’ leaders over 2014 democracy protests

A Hong Kong court jailed four leaders of 2014 pro-democracy protests on 24th April amid heightened concerns over the decline of freedoms in the China-ruled city nearly five years after activists took to the streets in mass protests. The sentencing of the nine activists followed a near month-long trial that was closely watched as China’s Communist Party leaders have put Hong Kong’s autonomy under increasing strain, stoking concern among foreign governments, rights groups and business people.

·         Rights groups raise concerns as Saudi Arabia executes 37 in one day

Saudi Arabia executed 37 people on 23rd April after they had been sentenced to death for terrorism-related crimes. At least 33 of those executed belonged to the Sunni Muslim kingdom’s Shia minority, and human rights organizations expressed doubts about the fairness of their trials. The executions were announced in a statement on the state-run news agency, which said the men had been put to death for “their adoption of extremist, terrorist ideology and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disturb security, spread chaos and cause sectarian discord”.

·         At least 33 people dead after flooding and mudslides in South Africa

At least 33 people are dead from flooding and mudslides in South Africa’s eastern KwaZulu-Natal province. State broadcaster SABC on 23rd April quoted provincial authorities on the number of deaths.

 

·         Russia skeptical as West congratulates Ukraine’s new comic-president

Western leaders have congratulated Volodymyr Zelenskiy on his landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election and pledged continued support for Kiev, while Russiaput the onus on the erstwhile comedian to start a rapprochement between the former allies. With almost all ballots counted from Sunday’s election run-off, Mr Zelenskiy had 73.2 per cent of votes against 24.4 per cent for Petro Poroshenko, who took office in 2014 after Ukraine’s Maidan revolution and Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

·         Kim Jong Un accuses US of acting in ‘bad faith’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he believes the United States acted in “bad faith” at the Hanoi summit, North Korean state media reported. The report in North Korea’s state-run KCNA news was released on the final day of Kim’s visit to the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok. Kim and Putin met there for the first time Thursday, spending about three and a half hours together. The North Korean leader left Vladivostok 26th April afternoon aboard his armored government train. KCNA reported that “Kim Jong Un said that the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the region is now at a standstill, and has reached a critical point where it may return to its original state, as the US took a unilateral attitude in bad faith at the recent second DPRK-US summit talks,” using the acronym for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. KCNA also said Kim told his Russian hosts that “peace and security on the Korean Peninsula will entirely depend on the US’ future attitude, and the DPRK will guard itself for every possible event.

·         Fifteen killed in Sri Lanka in another gun battle on 26th April

The bodies of 15 people, including six children, were discovered at the site of a fierce overnight gun battle on the east coast of Sri Lanka, a military spokesman said on 27th April six days after suicide bombers killed more than 250 people. The shootout between troops and suspected Islamist militants erupted on 26th April evening in Sainthamaruthu in Ampara, to the south of the town of Batticaloa, site of one of the Easter Sunday blasts at three churches and four luxury hotels. A police spokesman said three suspected suicide bombers were among the 15 dead after the shootout. One child caught in the crossfire was admitted to hospital.

 

Economy-

·         Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank abandon merger talks.

 

Deutsche Bank (DB) and Commerzbank (CRZBF) announced on 25th April that they would abandon merger discussions that started six weeks ago. Execution risks, restructuring costs and the need to raise cash from investors to finance the deal would have outweighed the benefits, the banks said. A merger would have satisfied politicians who want a national champion to provide financing for German companies. The German government bailed out Commerzbank in 2009 and still owns a stake of 15%. 30,000 job cuts and muddled strategy could doom Germany’s big bank merger A deal would have created a bank with over $2 trillion in assets, firepower that could have been used to better compete with rivals in Europe and the United States. But labor unions were opposed, fearing a merger could result in the loss of 30,000 jobs. EU regulators may also have preferred a cross-border merger that would strengthen the region’s financial system. Investors worried that a merger of the struggling lenders would do little to resolve questions over their strategy and profitability while creating a bank that was too big to fail. “After careful analysis it became apparent that such a combination would not be in the interests of either bank’s shareholders or other stakeholders,” Commerzbank said in a statement. Shares in Deutsche Bank were trading nearly 3% higher in Frankfurt after the talks were abandoned, while Commerzbank stock dipped 2%. The door could now open for another European bank to buy Commerzbank. Deutsce Bank in under stress since it has begun the process of providing financial records to New York state’s attorney general in response to a subpoena for documents related to loans made to President Donald Trump and his business, according to a person familiar with the production. Trump’s businesses have borrowed more than $300 million from Deutsche to finance the company’s Florida golf course and hotels in Chicago and Washington, according to financial disclosures and public filings from 2012 to 2015.

U.S. economy grows 3.2% in the first quarter, well above estimates

           

The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2% annualized rate in the first three months of the year, according to the first read on gross domestic product from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This surged ahead of expectations for 2.3% growth, according to consensus economist polled by Bloomberg. In the fourth quarter, GDP grew at an annualized pace of 2.2%. Growth was 2% in the first quarter of 2018.

 

GLOBAL INDICES AS OF 27th and 28th April 2019

As compared to 18th and 19th April 2019 

Global indices as of 26th and 27th April 2019
Name Current Value Prev. Close
US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Apr 26) 8,146.40 8118.68     
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Apr 26) 7,428.19 7434.13     
 CAC (Apr 26) 5,569.36 5557.67     
 DAX (Apr 26) 12,315.18 12282.60     
ASIAN MARKETS
 NIKKEI 225 (Apr 26) 22,258.73 22307.58     
 STRAITS TIMES (Apr 26) 3,356.95 3350.28     
 HANG SENG (Apr 26) 29,605.01 29549.80     
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Apr 26) 10,952.47 11039.86     
 KOSPI (Apr 26) 2,179.31 2190.50     
 SET COMPOSITE (Apr 26) 1,667.15 1673.32     
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Apr 26) 6,401.08 6372.79

             

    
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Apr 26) 3,086.40 3123.83     
 SGX NIFTY (Apr 27) 11,854.00 11814.00     

 

Global indices as of 18th and 19th April 2019
Name Current Value Prev.

Close

US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Apr 18) 7,998.06 7996.08
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Apr 18) 7,459.88 7471.32
 CAC (Apr 18) 5,580.38 5563.09
 DAX (Apr 18) 12,222.39 12153.07
ASIAN MARKETS
 NIKKEI 225 (Apr 19) 22,200.56 22090.12
 STRAITS TIMES (Apr 18) 3,347.58 3348.64
 HANG SENG (Apr 18) 29,963.26 30124.68
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Apr 19) 10,968.50 10962.02
 KOSPI (Apr 19) 2,216.15 2213.77
 SET COMPOSITE (Apr 19) 1,674.10 1675.00
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Apr 18) 6,507.22 6481.54
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Apr 19) 3,270.80 3250.20
 SGX NIFTY (Apr 20) 11,811.00 11808.00

 

Pakistan

Politics

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on 26th April, called for greater attention to tackling climate change and poverty as Pakistan and China enter the next phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The prime minister appreciated the significance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying it “marks a new and distinct phase in the onward march of nations in the world along the path of globalization”. “The presence of so many world leaders today is proof that we choose hope over despair and cooperation over confrontation. 122 states and 49 international organizations have signed onto the BRI’s vision and this is a historic and monumental development,” he pointed out. “The BRI offers a model of partnership, collaboration, connectivity and shared prosperity,” the prime minister told the audience. “Pakistan is proud to have partnered with China in this transformative endeavor. We have been among BRI’s earliest and most enthusiastic proponents,” Prime Minister Imran Khan made five suggestions for progress in his address to the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. The premier said we must undertake joint efforts to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change, establish BRI tourism corridors to promote people to people and inter cultural understanding, anti-corruption office, poverty alleviation fund and concerted efforts to further liberalize trade and investment flows encouraging the private sector and businesses to collaborate in projects.

                             

  • The Prime Minister’s Office on 24th April said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarksin Tehran that terrorists had in the past misused Pakistani territory to undertake attacks against Iran had been taken “largely out of context”.

 

In a statement, the PM Office noted that there had been a lot of debate about the premier’s statement on the use of Pakistani soil. “Prime Minister Imran Khan was talking about non-state actors using Pakistani soil under foreign influence to carry out activities in Pakistan or coordinating from Pakistan,” the statement read, citing the example of persons like Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and their local facilitators. The PM Office added that attacks are carried out in Pakistan using the territory of Iran and Afghanistan “in the same manner”. “The same was clearly stated by the prime minister during his visit to Iran while referring to [the] latest incident in Baluchistan,” the handout said, adding that it is because of this reason that the premier was making “all-out efforts for peace across [the] whole region”. According to the PM Office, linking Prime Minister Imran’s statement to any other context is an “effort to misinterpret the expression which doesn’t serve Pakistan in any way.”

 

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing tribal elders at the Spinkai Raghzai area of South Waziristan on 24th April , announced that Rs100 billion will be spent annually on the development of the tribal areas.

The premier said that the amount that the government was going to spend annually had not been spent on the region in the past 70 years. He said that the people of the tribal areas would be provided with all those things they had not been provided thus far, and as a result of which they had been left behind. He noted that the region was the poorest in the country, with the lowest education and highest unemployment, and that people would migrate from the area to earn money in places such as Karachi, Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Prime Minister Imran told his audience that he believes that the people of tribal areas had been left behind because “no one understood them nor did they try to understand them”.

  • The Supreme Court on 24th April announced the restoration of all taxes charged by cellular service providers on mobile phone top-up cards.

Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa read out the short order, saying the top court would not interfere in the matters of public revenue and tax collection. The court also withdrew the stay order placed on the collection of mobile phone taxes while wrapping up the suo motu case. In June 2018, the apex court had suspended the deduction of taxes on prepaid cards provided by mobile phone service providers. A three-member bench headed by the chief justice had today reserved its judgment in the case after a detailed hearing during which law officers for the federal and provincial governments presented their arguments.

Economy

·         PM meets heads of IMF & World Bank, discusses financial support

Prime Minister Imran Khan on 26th April held separate meetings with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Legarde and World Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kristalina Georgieva on the sidelines of second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. In his meeting with Managing Director International Monetary Fund Christine Legarde on the sidelines of second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, the prime minister discussed matters of mutual interests. Imran Khan also apprised Lagarde of measures taken to improve country’s economy and the government’s planned poverty alleviation. They discussed prospects for a comprehensive policy package and international financial support to help stabilize the economy of Pakistan. In his meeting with Chief Executive Officer of World Bank Kristalina Georgieva, the prime minister discussed matters related to mutual interests and financial assistance package for Pakistan. The prime minister appreciated the role played by the World Bank in regional connectivity, poverty alleviation, financial management, provisional projects, Dasu and other infrastructure projects and ease of doing business. He informed the World Bank CEO of the recent steps taken by the government for improving the economic and fiscal situation in the country. Khan also apprised the CEO on the socio-economic uplift measures taken up by the government and creation of “Ehsaas” social welfare program.
On the occasion, the World Bank Chief Executive Officer pledged to further strengthen cooperation with Pakistan in the areas of disbursements program lending and guarantees provision for raising external funds.

·         Country’s foreign exchange reserves declines by $202 million

The liquid foreign exchange reserves of the country declined by $202 million to $15.994 billion by week ended April 19, 2019 as compared with $16.196 billion a week ago, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said on 25th April. The official reserves of the central bank slipped by $219 million to $9.024 billion for the week ended April 19, 2019 as compared with $9.243 billion a week ago. The SBP said that its foreign exchange reserves had been declined due to external debt servicing and other official payments. The foreign exchange reserves held by commercial banks, however, increased by $18 million to $6.97 billion from previous level of $6.952 billion.                                          

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 26th April 2019 as compared to 19th April 2019
Countries PKR rate as of 19th April 2019 PKR rate as of 26th April 2019
U.S.A. 142.20 142.20
U.K. 185.00 184.25
Euro 160.00 158.50
Japan 1.2800 1.2900
Saudi Arabia 37.80 37.85
U.A.E. 38.80 38.80

Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices

As of 26th April 2019 As Compared

To 19th April 2019  

 

 

Position as of 26th April 2019
Symbols KSE100 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 218
37130.63
17739.88
Declined (High) 82
37158.35
17753.90
Unchanged (Low) 21
36787.44
17540.71
Total (Change) 321
334.60
196.00

 

 

Position as of 19th April 2019
Symbols KSE100 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 214
37334.89
17918.36
Declined (High) 73
37729.12
18097.99
Unchanged (Low) 13
36811.86
17774.03
Total (Change) 300
523.03
144.33

 

 

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