South Asia Stay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.. Sun, 29 Nov 2015 08:40:51 +0000 SRA Framework 2.0 en-gb China's Li says to push ahead with financial market reform: state TV imageBEIJING: Chin has fended off systemic risks in its financial markets and will continue to push ahead with market reform, China's Premier Li Keqiang was reported as saying by state television on Thursday.

During a visit to the Shanghai branch of the People's Bank of China, Li said that China will further open its capital markets both to inbound and outbound investors, according to China Central Television.

Li also said that China will step up efforts to prevent illegal cross-border capital flows.

Beijing will seek further improvements in the country's insurance sector as well as the development of multi-tiered capital markets, the state broadcaster reported.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Imaduddin) South Asia Thu, 26 Nov 2015 14:01:23 +0000
Suu Kyi says Myanmar cabinet to include ethnic groups, other parties imageYANGON: Myanmar's new cabinet will include members of other political parties and representatives of ethnic minorities, the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) Aung San Suu Kyi said on Thursday, stressing the need for national reconciliation.

The NLD won a majority in both houses of Myanmar's parliament and also faired better than expected against ethnic political parties in regional legislatures.

But Nobel laureate Suu Kyi has emphasised that the first democratically elected government in more than 50 years will seek to reconcile the country's many disparate political groups.

"Our party has won an overwhelming majority of the seats but we won't take them all," Suu Kyi said, referring to cabinet seats in an interview with Radio Free Asia's Myanmar language service broadcast on Thursday.

"As I said earlier, we will cooperate with others with the spirit of sharing our success with them based on building national reconciliation. Of course the NLD will lead. It is the mandate the people have given to us at our request.

"We will include ethnic representatives who are not NLD members and others who can benefit the country."

The interview did not touch on the persecuted minority Rohingya Muslims who were not allowed to vote in the election and are effectively stateless in their own land.

The NLD captured enough seats in the national-level legislature to have its choice of president, who is elected by members of parliament. The president then selects the cabinet. Suu Kyi has said that regardless of who is appointed president, she will call the shots as leader of the winning party.

The new parliament will sit and elect a president in February, and the new administration will begin its five-year term on April 1.

A quarter of all parliament seats are reserved for unelected military officials and three powerful ministries - defence, home affairs and border affairs - are under the remit of the Commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing

Suu Kyi stressed the importance of meeting with Min Aung Hlaing and President Thein Sein to insure smooth transition of power. Both have accepted Suu Kyi's invitation to meet, but no date has been set.

"I want these meetings to happen soonest," she said. "We should start taking steps fast, one after another, towards a smooth transfer of power."

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Imaduddin) South Asia Thu, 26 Nov 2015 14:00:23 +0000
India's sales tax should be below 20pc: Congress party imageNEW DELHI: A proposed new Indian sales tax should be set at a rate of less than 20 percent, the opposition Congress party said on Thursday, signalling willingness to compromise as long as the government takes into account its concerns.

The comments by senior Congress leader Anand Sharma came as parliament opened its winter session, with a proposed goods and services tax (GST) topping the to-do list of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nationalist government.

Congress first proposed the tax when it was in government, but political hostilities since Modi's general election triumph 18 months ago have stalled the measure that seeks to create a single market and boost commerce in India's $2 trillion economy.

"The government should come up with structured proposals on GST," Sharma, chief tax negotiator for Congress and its deputy leader in the upper house, told Reuters.

The bill has passed the lower house of parliament, but has been blocked in the upper house where Modi's coalition lacks a majority.

The government is trying to win over small regional parties to build the two-thirds majority required to pass a key constitutional enabling amendment, but needs to bring round Congress to be sure it can pass.

Congress would like to cap the rate of GST at less than 20 percent, scrap a proposed state levy and create an independent mechanism to resolve disputes on revenue sharing between states, Sharma said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a television interview on Wednesday night that these three Congress demands had not been included in its original GST bill.

"GST was not our idea - it was a Congress idea but it's a good idea," Jaitley told the NDTV news channel. "I hope the Congress sticks to the good it proposed rather than flaw it."

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Imaduddin) South Asia Thu, 26 Nov 2015 12:04:19 +0000
Support for lower Indian GST rate gaining traction imageNEW DELHI: The idea of setting a relatively low rate for a new Indian sales tax seemed to be gaining traction on Wednesday, as politicians of all stripes met to debate what would be the country's biggest tax reform since independence.

The proposed goods and services tax, or GST, will top the order of business at what is expected to be a rowdy winter session of parliament starting on Thursday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the all-party meeting and indicated that his nationalist alliance was ready to compromise, in a marked change of tone after it crashed to defeat in a bruising state election.

"GST is extremely important for the country. The government seeks cooperation for the smooth and efficient functioning of the parliament," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu told reporters, quoting Modi's remarks to the meeting.

The bill has passed the lower house of parliament, but has been blocked in the upper house where Modi's nationalist coalition lacks a majority.


The Congress party, even though it proposed the GST when it was in government, has led an opposition blockade against the measure and is in high dudgeon after its leaders faced a series of public attacks by the BJP.

"The PM has not called a single leader of the Congress party for discussion," the party's deputy leader, Rahul Gandhi, said in a speech to students in Bengaluru.

In addition to the standoff, Congress says the GST should be levied at a rate of around 18 percent - lower than sought by many federal states ruled by Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It also wants a proposed inter-state state levy to be scrapped.

Finance ministry officials say that a panel headed by Arvind Subramanian, India's chief economic adviser, could favour a revenue-neutral rate of around 18 percent on goods and services that could be broadly acceptable. It reports in early December.

"If petroleum and alchohol products are kept out, we could have a revenue-neutral rate of 18 percent under the GST," said a a senior government official involved in the policy process.

The measure requires a constitutional enabling amendment to be passed by both houses of parliament with a two-thirds majority, and subsequently by at least half of India's federal state legislatures.

Only then could the tax be implemented through a separate bill. The government hopes the GST can take effect in April 2016 - although time is tight.

Some states ruled by regional parties, including Bihar where Modi's BJP lost badly in an election this month, have assured their support for the bill but analysts doubt that tempers can cool quickly enough for progress to be made.

"It seems highly unlikely that major reforms will get enacted by the upper house," Moody's Investors Service said in a note to clients. "A failure to implement these reforms could hamper investment amid weak global growth," it said.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Imaduddin) South Asia Wed, 25 Nov 2015 12:12:02 +0000
Rousseff waives visa requirement for Olympics despite security fears imageSAO PAULO: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has agreed to suspend visa requirements for foreigners during the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's official gazette reported on Wednesday, despite heightened security fears after the Paris attacks.

The government hopes the move will encourage tourism and help revive Brazil's sluggish economy, which is expected to stay in recession for a second year in 2016.

Foreigners who arrive between June and Sept. 18 will be able to stay for up to 90 days without a visa, according to a law already passed by Congress that was signed by Rousseff and published in the gazette.

Diplomats in Brasilia say Western governments are worried about the safety of their athletes and tourists at the games because they believe many Brazilian authorities are complacent, taking too much comfort in Brazil's historical status as an enemy-free nation.

Islamic State militants have stepped up international attacks in recent months. The group claimed a coordinated assault in Paris on Nov. 13 in which 130 people were killed.

Cabinet Minister Ricardo Berzoini said on Monday that Brazil was seeking help from countries with a history of combating terrorism and the director of Brazil's intelligence agency Abin said there is no sign of Islamic State or any other jihadist group in Brazil, the largest country in South America.

Visas will not be required regardless of whether travelers have tickets to Olympic events.

The Olympics will be held between Aug. 5 and 21 and the Paralympic Games follow from Sept. 7-18. Brazil was praised for pulling off a mostly incident-free World Cup in 2014, when only visitors with tickets to games were not required to have visas.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Imaduddin) South Asia Wed, 25 Nov 2015 12:04:25 +0000
China proposes firm to fund projects in Europe imageSHANGHAI: China is proposing a financial firm to fund projects in central and eastern Europe, Premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday, extending the Asian giant's global reach as it flexes its economic muscles.

Beijing scored a major diplomatic success earlier this year when it set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with key European countries signing up over objections from Washington.

Shanghai is also home to a new multilateral bank dedicated to the emerging BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which is expected to go into operation soon.

Li told officials from 16 central and eastern European countries gathered for a regional summit in nearby Suzhou that Beijing was "ready to work with all parties to explore the possibility of setting up a 16+1 financial company to support cooperation".

Li dangled the offer of cheap Chinese funds from both the government and commercial banks to the area, which has lagged behind more prosperous nations in the western part of the continent.

"We can provide financing for central and eastern European countries in line with your needs," state television showed him saying.

"As long as these projects use Chinese products and Chinese equipment, China is willing to provide low-cost financing support."

The country's biggest lender Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the government policy-directed China Export Import Bank, which serves as an export credit agency, would spearhead efforts to boost lending, Li said.

But he played down the possibility of competition with other multilateral organisations, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, saying Chinese financial institutions were encouraged to "strengthen exchanges and cooperation".

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Imaduddin) South Asia Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:43:19 +0000
China seeks to deepen ties with global accounting rules imageLONDON: China will look at how its international companies could make greater use of cross-border accounting rules to better inform investors, the Chinese authorities and a global accounting body said on Tuesday.

The London-based International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Chinese Ministry of Finance said they had created a working group to build on a decade-old cooperation agreement.

The earlier agreement led to China moving its book-keeping rules substantially in line with the IASB's, used in more than 100 countries, including within the European Union, but not the United States.

The Group of 20 economies (G20) has set a goal of a single set of high-quality, global accounting rules to make it easier for capital to flow across borders and for investors to compare companies.

China's assistant minister of finance Dai Bohua said China wanted to meet the G20 goal through full convergence with IASB's rules, known as International Financial Reporting Standards or IFRS. "This objective is compatible with China's reforms and development," the statement said.

More widespread use of international rules could help reassure investors from outside China about the quality of accounts published by Chinese companies.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates U.S. stock markets, has de-registered dozens of Chinese companies in response to accounting scandals that began surfacing in 2010.

While stopping short of outright adoption of IFRS, such backing from the world's second-largest economy is a shot in the arm for the IASB, as the United States conducts a protracted debate on whether to back full convergence.

In return for the commitment to IFRS standards, China will be kept fully involved in the development of the rules. "Such involvement is fully consistent with the request of the G20 to deepen the participation of emerging economies in the work of the IFRS Foundation and the IASB," the joint statement said.

Strengthening ties between China and the IASB will put the spotlight back on the United States and its use of IFRS rules.

The U.S. authorities could opt for a "third way", allowing international companies to file statements to U.S. regulators based on IFRS rather than the U.S. GAAP system.

The United States already allows foreign companies listed on American exchanges to use IFRS for filing U.S. regulatory statements.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Imaduddin) South Asia Tue, 24 Nov 2015 11:53:19 +0000
Seven dead in helicopter crash in Indian held Kashmir imageSRINAGAR: All seven people on board -- six pilgrims and the pilot -- were killed Monday when a helicopter crashed in Indian held Kashmir after leaving a popular Hindu shrine in the mountainous region, police said.

The helicopter crashed after taking off from the town of Katra, near the Vaishnodevi shrine in the Jammu part of the northern region which attracts millions of pilrims every year.

"Seven people -- six pilgrims and the lady pilot -- died in the crash. We are investigating the cause of the accident," Jammu's most senior police officer, Inspector General Danish Rana, told AFP.

Television footage showed charred wreckage strewn over a field as police kept back dozens of onlookers.

The shrine devoted to Vaishnodevi, an incarnation of the three forms of Shakti, the goddess of power, is 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of the region's main city of Jammu.

Some pilgrims take private helicopters to and from Katra in the Trikuta mountains rather than travelling by road.

In February a military helicopter crashed north of Srinagar, the main city in Jammu and Kashmir state, killing both pilots.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Imaduddin) South Asia Mon, 23 Nov 2015 11:55:54 +0000
Iran says arrests IS-linked cell near Iraq border imageTEHRAN: Iranian security forces have arrested members of a jihadist cell linked with the Islamic State group near the country's western borders with Iraq, the head of the Revolutionary Guards said Sunday.

Quoted by the ISNA news agency, General Mohammad Ali Jafari said Iranian security forces were monitoring attempts by militants to "create insecurity" in Iran.

"IS has multi-layered support networks. One such network was identified in Kermanshah province (in western Iran) and its members were arrested," Jafari told reporters.

He provided no details on how many people were arrested or when the arrests took place.

"The rest of the groups are also on our intelligence radar and they will be dealt with as necessary," Jafari said.

Iran, the major Shiite power in the Middle East, is heavily involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq against IS, primarily Sunni Muslims who denounce Shiites as apostates.

The Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is independent of the army, has advisory missions in Iraq and Syria at the invitation of the Baghdad and Damascus governments.

Jafari said the chances were small of jihadists being able to carry out major attacks in Iran like those that left 130 dead in Paris earlier this month.

"With our security precautions, it is unlikely that Daesh could perform large actions in Iran," he said, using an Arabic name for IS.

"Of course, they might carry out small actions, but they cannot create insecurity in Iran as they do in other countries."

Asked about Russia's launching of air strikes in Syria in late September, Jafari said "Russia was the first regional power that realised the threat" from IS.

"They understood this danger quicker than the Westerners," he said. "Of course, every country that feels the danger of this threat... can join this fight and a union is forming among countries faced with the danger" of IS.

His remarks came on the eve of a visit to Tehran by Russian President Vladimir Putin that is expected to be dominated by discussion of Syria and efforts against IS.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Imaduddin) South Asia Sun, 22 Nov 2015 12:53:36 +0000
China under fresh fire over sea rows as US courts SE Asia imageKUALA LUMPUR: China came under renewed criticism Sunday over its rising profile in the South China Sea as it jostled with the United States for regional influence at the conclusion to a week of top-level diplomacy.

Asia-Pacific leaders met in Malaysia with China finding itself in the firing line over its land reclamation projects that have turned tiny atolls into fully-fledged islands with potential military uses.

"The world is watching," to see if Beijing will behave like a "responsible global leader" in the standoff, Philippine President Benigno Aquino told the assembled leaders.

The talks -- which included the United States, China, Japan and others -- were hosted by the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

President Barack Obama, who earlier in the week repeated US calls for China to stop the land reclamation, announced Sunday he would host the ASEAN leaders at a meeting in the United States next year.

"This region ... is critical to security, prosperity and human dignity around the world," he said, while also pledging continued trade, diplomatic, and security support for the region.

The annual season of summitry, which began a week ago in Turkey for the Group of 20 meeting, and continued with regional forums in Manila and Kuala Lumpur, has been overshadowed by the string of recent deadly extremist attacks.

But attention in Malaysia shifted back to Chinese actions, which have raised fears of potential conflict at sea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waded into the fray, calling for the South China Sea, a key route for global seaborne trade, not to be militarised, while refraining from directly naming China, according to Kyodo news agency.

China insists on sovereignty over virtually all the resource-endowed South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, and non-ASEAN member Taiwan.

Beijing has displayed irritation with Washington's expressions of support for the claims of China's neighbours, and once again refused to budge on the issue in Kuala Lumpur.

With Obama present, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Sunday's closed-door summit that countries "from outside the region" should stop inflaming tensions over the maritime dispute, a Chinese official said afterward.

The official, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, also criticised the recent US deployment of naval vessels to the South China Sea.

Washington has said the move was meant to stress the right to free passage in waters China claims, but Liu called it a "political provocation."

At the same time, China offered its own carrot to ASEAN, announcing a new raft of infrastructure loans totalling some $10 billion.

ASEAN on Saturday issued a joint statement stressing the need to maintain freedom of navigation and over-flight rights in the South China Sea.

Washington says navigation in a sea through which much of the world's trade passes could be threatened by actions such as China's island-building.

ASEAN also called for quicker progress on agreeing a code of conduct at sea with Beijing.

China has been accused of dragging its feet on the code -- which could hamper its freedom of action at sea -- and seeking to run out the game clock while it works to turn its disputed territorial claims into a fait accompli.

Obama also stressed US support for the code, and said on Saturday that "for the sake of regional stability, claimants should halt reclamation, new construction, and militarisation of disputed areas."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Imaduddin) South Asia Sun, 22 Nov 2015 11:16:08 +0000