Archive for January 17th, 2015

India fails to exploit oil price slump

By M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times
January 8, 2015

As an energy-deficient country whose import bill for oil in the last financial year stood at $150 billion, the sharp fall in oil prices is a moment to celebrate. There are two ways to celebrate. One could be to open the champagne bottle and enjoy the good things in life. Then, there is a second way – the Chinese way – which is to seize the happy hour to plan for the future.

The Indian government is sipping champagne. The budget deficit significantly narrows and that is good news for the upcoming annual budget. A Morgan Stanley report in September calculated that a mere 10 percent drop in oil price could bring down the current account deficit by 0.6 percent of India’s GDP – no small matter.

However, how is the government taking advantage of the unexpected windfall? Plainly put, the benefit has not been passed on to the consumer. Whereas in the US, the average gasoline prices have reached their lowest level in the past four-year period, there is no such luck for the Indian consumer. Worse still, the government’s price fixation method is so opaque that a suspicion forms that private oil companies are being enabled to make huge profits. Read the rest of this entry »

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Remembering the Tun

Dyana Sofya
The Malay Mail Online
January 16, 2015 10:46 AM

JANUARY 16 — In commemoration of our country’s second prime minister Allahyarham Tun Razak’s 39th death anniversary, organised a forum featuring DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang, editor of The Malaysian Insider Jahabar Sadiq, MP for Lembah Pantai Nurul Izzah Anwar and the late Tun’s former political secretary, Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad.

It was certainly an eclectic mix of speakers, and this notion wasn’t lost on Dollah Kok Lanas, as Tan Sri is better known, when he trumpeted that he was “the only Umno man in the room.”

He proved to be a memorable speaker as he recounted his close working relationship with the Tun. With trademark sarcasm, he also pointed that “ironically, Umno does not remember Tun Razak while it is DAP that remembers him.”

I tweeted that gem of a quote and immediately received backlash from supporters of the ruling party, some of whom tried to defend Umno by saying that a tahlil had been organised, and that it was more appropriate to hold prayers than to discuss Tun Razak’s ideas in a forum.

Certainly, it is commendable to have a tahlil to mark his death anniversary, but I believe that we can only do justice to the Tun’s legacy by discussing and sharing thoughts on his policies, ideas and contributions, many of which are more relevant than ever in our present time. Read the rest of this entry »

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Maslan should apologise for the false claim on Jan 5 that the Federal Government had spent RM800 million to help flood victims when only RM41 million had been spent up to now!

Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Ahmad Maslan said on January 5 that the government had spent RM800 million through the National Security Council to help victims in states affected by floods for the provision of food supply, logistics and cleaning houses of victims.

This created an uproar of protests all round.

At a media conference in Kota Bahru the next day, I expressed shock and outrage at Maslan’s RM800 million claim, stating that I had visited Kota Bahru three times, been in Kuala Krai twice, even in the Ground Zero zones of Manek Urai, Kg Manjur and Kg Karangan, as well as been in Gua Musang, but I definitely did not feel or sense that RM500 million to RM600 million had been spent in Kelantan in relief efforts for the flood victims.

(As Kelantan was the worst flood-stricken state in the floods catastrophe, if Maslan was right that RM800 million had been spent on the flood victims, the bulk of the expenditure, say RM500 million – RM600 million, should have been spent in the state).

I demanded Maslan reveal how much had been spent in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Perak and a full and detailed audit of this RM800 million claim as I just did not believe that RM800 million had been spent on the flood victims, an impression shared by all NGOs and good-hearted Malaysians who had gone to the aid of the flood victims on their own efforts unrelated to government relief efforts. Read the rest of this entry »