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Manmohan Gets Impatient With ‘Impatient’ Citizens, Investors

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   Manmohan Gets Impatient With 'Impatient' Citizens, Investors      Los Cabos (Mexico): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday sought to send strong signals to fellow “impatient” citizens, global investors and, perhaps, skeptical rating agencies that he will resume reforms and ensure higher growth with an action-plan that will restore confidence in the Indian economy.

Attending the G20 Summit in this resort-town, the prime minister made a slew of remarks to send this message, including a further pledge of $10 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help Eurozone nations out of the current crisis and action on the domestic front to remove all impediments to growth.
He made it clear that while the world may think that the 6.9 percent growth the Indian economy logged last fiscal was impressive, his fellow citizens thought otherwise and wanted the country to expand at a much faster rate. “We are determined to create an environment that would boost investor sentiment and promote an atmosphere conducive to enterprise and creativity,” the prime minister said, amid perceptions in recent months of a policy paralysis in India and lack of reforms.
“Our policies will be transparent, stable and designed to provide a level playing field to both domestic and foreign investors,” he said, in an indication that that his government now meant business and would act on matters such as foreign equity in retail and move forward on financial sector reforms.
The $10 billion India pledged here to the IMF help the Eurozone countries out of their crisis – over and above the $14 billion already committed since 2008 – was to, perhaps, send strong signals to rating agencies and those bearish on India that the economy remained resilient and that’s why there was enough room for such contributions in global interests.
The prime minister was here on the first leg of an eight-day overseas visit since Saturday, across four continents, which will also take him to Brazil to attend the Rio+20 summit on the environment Wednesday.
Addressing the domestic audience, and other stakeholders in general, Manmohan Singh said since citizens desired that the Indian economy needed to perform better, this aspiration would be met with steps like infrastructure investment and improving investor sentiment.
“Our public is impatient for a return to high growth and faster jobs creation. The fundamentals of the Indian economy remain strong and we are confident of bringing back the rhythm of high growth of 8-9 percent per annum.”
He also said the fiscal stimulus that was injected in 2008 will be reversed and hard decisions taken to cut doles in areas such as fertilizers and fuels.
“In this context, I would like to mention a landmark effort underway in India to provide unique identity numbers for all residents with capture of biometric data,” the prime minister said, adding, “This massive database covering over a billion people will facilitate delivery of a whole range of financial and other services, through effective targeting and reduced leakages in subsidy schemes.”
On the sidelines of the G20 summit, the prime minister also hosted a meeting of the leaders of BRICS nations, which was attended by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South African President Jacob Zuma.
He also held formal bilateral meetings with his host and Mexican President Felipe Calderon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, besides several pull asides with fellow G20 leaders, including US President Barack Obama.
Manmohan Singh, who will leave for Brazil later Tuesday returns in New Delhi Saturday.

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COVID-19: Canadian Entrepreneurs less pessimistic in April

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BC entrepreneurs less pessimistic in April

THE monthly Business Barometer index for British Columbia rose 8.2 points reaching an index of 46, according to the latest survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The low index continues to reflect the significant stress and challenges entrepreneurs face as the navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. As British ColumbIa looks ahead in developing an economic relaunch strategy, a small business lens is necessary to streamline the transition.

“The month’s barometer results indicate small business owners are feeling less pessimistic than they did in March,” said Muriel Protzer, Senior Policy Analyst, BC and the North, on Wednesday. “While ongoing financial support from government is helping keep many businesses afloat, those receiving the benefits cannot rely on them indefinitely and some continue to fall through the cracks.”

Additional survey data from CFIB finds that 83 per cent of businesses believe it is critical they make more sales soon to survive and become less reliant on government subsides (13 per cent disagree, 4 per cent unsure).

“The province of BC will play an integral part in transitioning businesses and workers off of government support programs as we look to reopen parts of the economy,” added Protzer. “Early preparation for a recovery phase is important to ensure businesses and residents are provided clear messaging on guidelines.”

Furthermore, 75 per cent of BC businesses are confident they could reopen quickly if current restrictions were lifted (19 per cent disagree, 6 per cent unsure). As the province looks to develop its economic recovery strategy, small business owners see the following initiatives to take priority:

  • Keeping taxes on small businesses at an acceptable level (88 per cent agree);
  • Reduce red tape affecting businesses (65 per cent agree);
  • Introducing campaigns encouraging consumers to shop at local businesses (62 per cent agree);
  • Continued financial help (57 per cent agree); and
  • Ensuring the availability of personal protective equipment and mass testing to help people feel safe (54 per cent agree).

Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. An index level of between 65 and 75 means that the economy is growing at its potential. This month, it is notable to see no provincial index above 50 points.

To view the full report, visit http://www.cfib.ca/barometer  

The provincial numbers for April were: Quebec (32.1), Newfoundland (32.1), New Brunswick (39.2), PEI (43.1), Manitoba (45.0), Nova Scotia (45.3), BC (46.0), Alberta (46.7), Saskatchewan (50.8), Ontario (52.6).

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BC Hits Back At Alberta Over Wine Ban Saying It’s Unconstitutional Under Trade Rules

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VICTORIA – The B.C. government is challenging Alberta’s ban on B.C. wines through the Canadian Free Trade Agreement’s (CFTA) dispute settlement process.

According to a release, the province has notified the Alberta government that it is formally requesting consultations under the CFTA regarding Alberta’s embargo on the sale of B.C. wine, reported CBC News.

“Alberta’s actions threaten the livelihood of the families that have worked so hard to build B.C.’s world-class wine industry,” Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston said in the release.

“These actions are inconsistent with Alberta’s obligations under the CFTA, and we will protect our reputation and the interests of British Columbians.”

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Ralston said that Alberta’s ban is a “clear violation” of the CFTA.

“It’s our view that this dispute engages questions that should be considered by every jurisdiction in the federation,” he said. “We’re standing up for the B.C. wine business, B.C. industry, B.C. businesses and B.C. jobs.”

Ralston said the process allows for 120 days of consultation. If no decision is made, the matter then goes to a tribunal.

“I think that what’s good about this process is it’s a process of dialogue, it’s a process of engagement in discussion and consultation. So I’m optimistic that there will be fruitful discussion and there may be a resolution,” he said.

 

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Walmart In Talks To Buy Large Stake In Flipkart At $20-23 Billion Valuation

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NEW DELHI – American retailer Walmart Inc may end up taking a large stake in Flipkart Ltd at a price that could value India’s largest e-commerce firm between $20 billion and $23 billion, three people close to the development said. If it goes through the deal will pit Walmart against Amazon in India, mirroring the fight between the two companies in the US.

Walmart has expressed an interest in buying Flipkart Ltd but a buyout is unlikely to go through as a key Flipkart investor SoftBank Group is opposed to a sale, the three people added on condition of anonymity. “Softbank is not willing to cash out this early as they see themselves as a long term investor in Flipkart,” one of the three people mentioned above said.

The talks are in the early stages and the companies haven’t finalized the final details, the people said. Walmart is expected to invest fresh capital in Flipkart as well as buy shares from existing investors including Accel Partners and Naspers, they added.

Any deal is likely to make Walmart the largest shareholder in Flipkart, they said.

Walmart is not the only suitor pursuing Flipkart. Search giant Google has also offered to invest in the e-retailer at a valuation of $15-$16 billion, said a fourth person close to the development. Flipkart is also talking to other investors, this person said, without naming the investors.

Flipkart’s biggest backer and key board member Lee Fixel of Tiger Global was in Walmart’s headquarters last week helping put together the deal, this person said.

Flipkart and Walmart declined to comment. Google and Softbank did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The Economic Times newspaper reported on 31 January that Walmart is in talks to buy 15-20% of Flipkart.

In August 2017, Flipkart received a commitment of $1.4 billion in fresh capital from Japan’s Softbank Group valuing the company at about $14 billion.

Launched in 2007, Flipkart has thus far raised more than $6 billion.

The current valuation offered by Walmart includes Flipkart’s fashion businesses Myntra and Jabong, ebay India, as well as mobile payments firm PhonePe.

Walmart has eyed India’s retail sector for years but the existing foreign direct investment (FDI) policy does not allow the retailer to serve have a meaningful presence in the country.

It does operate in India’s B2B (business to business) retail and e-retail segment but has stayed away from direct retail. Walmart has stayed away from joining hands with any other Indian retailer since it’s partnership with Bharti Enterprises ended in 2013.

New potential investors are willing to value the company at a much higher price partly because Flipkart has shown that it is holding its own against Amazon, which has been unable to unseat its local rival as the country’s largest online retailer despite outspending Flipkart, say analysts. Additionally, Flipkart is seen as the one of the most attractive assets in the global Internet economy, benefitting from the long-term potential ascribed to India’s internet market by investors.

Walmart and Google held funding talks with Flipkart in late 2016 but those discussions didn’t lead to deals.

 

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