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Sitharaman attends FMCBG meeting in Washington D.C.

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Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman participated in the 4th G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) Meeting under the Italian Presidency held on October 13 in Washington D.C. on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings.

The meeting was the final FMCBG Meeting under the G20 Italian Presidency and saw discussions and agreements on various issues concerning global economic recovery, pandemic support to vulnerable countries, global health, climate action, international taxation and financial sector issues.

For a sustained recovery from the pandemic, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors agreed to avoid any premature withdrawal of support measures, while preserving financial stability and long-term fiscal sustainability, and safeguarding against downside risks and negative spillovers.

Sitharaman noted that for transitioning from crisis to recovery, one of the major challenges is ensuring equitable access to vaccines for all. The Finance Minister suggested that keeping up the support, building resilience, enhancing productivity and structural reforms should be our policy goals.

The Finance Minister appreciated the role of G20 in rallying pandemic response and supporting vulnerable countries through debt relief measures and the new SDR allocation. Going forward, Sitharaman suggested on focusing efforts on making the benefits reach the intended countries.

The Finance Minister joined the G20 Ministers and Governors in agreeing on the need for strengthening efforts to counter climate change. Sitharaman emphasised that considering the varied policy spaces and different starting points of countries, the centrality of climate justice based on United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change and principles of Paris Agreement would be critical for taking forward discussions towards successful outcomes.

For addressing tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy, the G20 FMCBGs endorsed the final agreement as set out in the Statement on a two-pillar solution and the Detailed Implementation Plan released by the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) on October 8, 2021.

The meeting concluded with the G20 FMCBGs reaffirming their commitment to advance the forward-looking agenda set in the G20 Action Plan to steer the global economy towards a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.

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Pakistani rupee falls to yet another historic low against US dollar

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The Pakistani rupee continued to tumble against the US dollar, breaching yet another important threshold of 196 in the interbank market to hit its weakest level on Tuesday, media reports said.

Maintaining its downturn for the eighth successive working day, the Pakistani rupee was being traded at Rs 195.74 against the greenback surpassing its last low, Geo News reported.

A persistent delay in the receipt of the next tranche of $1 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is mounting pressure on the rupee.

The situation is likely to remain uncertain for the local currency, Commodities Director Adnan Agar said as the local unit fell below 196-mark against the greenback during the trading session on Tuesday.

“If the government decides to remove subsidies on petroleum products, the rupee will bounce back,” he said, adding that the local unit will remain within the range of 180-185.

Agar, however, added that if the government decided to dissolve the Assembly and move towards early elections, the situation for the already tumbling currency market will deteriorate.

Since the beginning of this fiscal year (July 1, 2021) to date, the rupee has collectively dropped by a massive 24.24 per cent (or Rs 38.2) compared to the previous fiscal year’s close at Rs 157.54.

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5G technology to contribute USD 450 billion to Indian economy: Narendra Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said 5G technology will contribute US Dollar 450 billion to the Indian economy.

Underscoring the role of the telecom sector in the progress of the country, he also said that by the end of this decade, the country will be able to launch 6G services of its own.

Addressing the silver jubilee celebrations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Modi said: “It is estimated that in the coming time, 5G will contribute USD 450 bn to the Indian economy. This will not only accelerate internet speed but also boost development and employment.”

“By the end of this decade, we will be able to launch 6G services, our task force is working on it. Our efforts will help our startups to become global champions in the telecom sector and 5G technology,” he said.

He launched a 5G Test Bed, developed by a multi-institutes collaborative project that included a eight institutes led by IIT Madras.

“5G Test Bed is an important step towards the country’s self reliance on critical and modern technology in the telecom sector. The 5G technology is also going to bring positive changes in the governance of the country, ease of living and ease of doing business,” the Prime Minister said.

This facility will boost growth in every sector – agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and logistics, creating vast employment opportunities, the Prime Minister noted.

Referring to the situation prior to 2014, he said that the growth was slow and in last eight years, the investment has gone up one and half time more than what it used to be in 2014.

With the new initiatives taken by the government, the Prime Minister also said that the call and data rates in India are cheaper than other countries.

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Aborted Kerala Seaplane project to be turned into dam plane service

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 The ambitious sea plane project envisaged during the 2011-16 Oommen Chandy government that got aborted following serious objections from the fisher folk community appears to have taken a new shape with the Pinarayi Vijayan government deciding to turn it into a dam plane project.

If the Chandy government thought of landing the sea plane on water bodies in lakes and rivers, the Vijayan government has proposed the same but has turned the landing of such planes inside the catchment areas of numerous dams in the state.

Chandy’s project was shot down by inland fishermen who eke out a living fishing in lakes and rivers stating that their primary vocation of fishing might get affected because of frequent landing and take off by these sea planes.

According to sources, the same project of sea planes has taken a new shape and the proposed landing and takeoff is now proposed to take place in the catchment areas of the dams.

In Kerala, dams are the properties of the Kerala State Electricity Board and the Kerala Water Authority and so far there have been keen interests shown by about half-a-dozen companies.

If this project turns out to be a success, then the biggest gainer would be the tourism industry in the state as tourists can reach several prime destinations in the state by air, cutting a lot of travel time as roads in the state are congested.

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