June 24: News Views
June 24: News Views
A worker fills jerrycans with diesel at a fuel station in Kolkata
The government was expected to raise diesel prices on Friday, although a delay in a government meeting to decide on the politically unpopular decision raised questions as to whether or not officials were in full agreement.
Oil prices fell 6% on Thursday after major consuming countries announced an emergency release of stocks, pushing benchmark Brent crude to a four-month low and providing a window for India to raise prices with less pain for consumers.
Since it was first elected in 2004, the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has more often than not refrained from pushing through tough reforms in favour of pleasing its predominantly rural voter base.
It has delayed a decision on increasing diesel and other fuel prices for months, even as its subsidy burden mounts.
A labourer carries a sack of wheat inside a grain-sorting unit at Sanand in Gujarat
India's growth story, which has excited many in recent years, is passing through a not-very-happy chapter that might last well into 2012. While India should keep growing at rates many nations would envy, Asia's third-largest economy faces a period of reduced growth and stubbornly high inflation.
This is causing confidence in the growth story to wane while worries rise. Indian stocks, hit by inflation and high interest rates, are Asia's worst performers this year, down nearly 14%, resulting in a decline in portfolio flows. Weaker tax revenue can widen a yawning fiscal deficit.
Also, there's a possibility that India could lose out to China and smaller Asian economies in the battle to attract big foreign investment. China has cooled as it, too, battles inflation, but still might grow 10% this year.
A man carries a liquefied petroleum gas cylinder as policemen stand guard in New Delhi
The government has deferred a ministerial meeting to decide on raising diesel and cooking fuel prices to 7 pm as the government is working on its options, Oil Minister Jaipal Reddy said on Friday.
The meeting was to have started around 1 pm.
India had been expected to take advantage of a plunge in global crude prices to raise fuel prices on Friday after months of delaying a politically unpopular decision that will add to inflation but ease a rising subsidy burden.
An employee arranges breakfast cereals on the shelves of a supermarket in Mumbai
Indian consumer goods firms, already struggling with mounting raw material prices, are increasingly under pressure to manage rising packaging costs that threaten to hurt wafer-thin margins in a highly competitive market.
With prices of kraft paper, aluminium foil, adhesives for corrugated boxes, plastics jumping as much as 25 percent in the past three months, firms such as Hindustan Unilever, Colgate Palmolive India, Dabur, Emami, Marico and Godrej Consumer have had a tough time safeguarding profits.
Packaging has gained importance in India as rising incomes have changed consumer preference, from loosely sold or not-attractively packaged products, to ones that are packaged well and have good pack quality.
Shopping carts are seen outside a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Coolidge, Arizona
Wal-Mart Stores Inc and its foundation said on Thursday that it had committed $25 million to help provide food, education and jobs for children during school summer break, but opponents of the retailer's urban expansion plans questioned its motives.
The new campaign from the world's largest retailer, and the Walmart Foundation, comes after April's announcement that Wal-Mart and its foundation gave away $316 million in cash and $480 million in in-kind contributions in the fiscal year that ended on January 31. A significant part of that giving directed to local food banks.
Wal-Mart has been steadily increasing the volume of its contributions in New York City and Washington DC, cities where no Walmart stores actually exist. Its motives for escalating donations to these cities have been questioned by neighborhood activists and labor groups.
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