India’s central bank, on Thursday, unexpectedly lowered interest rates and, as anticipated, shifted its stance to “neutral” from “calibrated tightening” to boost a slowing economy after a sharp fall in the inflation rate.
The monetary policy committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25 per cent, as predicted by only 21 of 65 analysts polled by Reuters. Most polled respondents expected the central bank to only change the stance to neutral. Four of six members of the MPC voted to cut the rates, while all six voted for a change in the stance. “Investment activity is recovering but supported mainly by public spending on infrastructure.
The need is to strengthen private investment activity and buttress private consumption,” the MPC said in a statement. Indian shares pared gains while 10-year bond yields slid 5 basis points after the surprise rate cut. The Indian rupee weakened to 71.69 to the dollar immediately after the announcement but strengthened soon after to 71.42. India’s last rate cut, to 6.00 per cent, was in August 2017.
Thursday’s cut is welcome news for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which wants to boost lending and lift growth as it faces elections by May. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is already in an election mode. In its budget on Feb. 1, the government doled out cash to farmers and tax cuts to middle-class families, at the cost of a wider fiscal deficit and larger borrowing. Economic growth fell to a worse-than-expected 7.1 per cent in the July-September quarter from 8.2 per cent, dragged down by slower consumer spending and farm growth, below analysts forecast for a 7.4 per cent increase.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Saturday in Lagos assured residents of its commitment to secure the nation as well as ensure security of lives and property during and after the general elections.
The Air Officer Commanding, NAF Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal Abdulganiyu Adebisi, gave the assurance during the route march organised for its officers and men at the Sam Ethnam Base in Ikeja.
“The essence of the exercise is not to win prize but to foster espirit de corps and physical fitness of individuals through active participation in exercise of this nature.
“It is important that we remain both physically and mentally fit to carry out our responsibilities as the defenders of our nation’s territorial integrity and encourage the spirit of sportsmanship in our personnel.
“Let me use this medium to re-emphasise that you must all be of good conduct in the forthcoming general elections if you go out to vote.
“Don’t be found wanting of any act that constitutes a breach of electoral law as you exercise your franchise,” he said.
Adebisi further urged the personnel to carry out their duties as directed and remain good ambassadors of NAF.
On the election, Adebisi said the command would work in synergy with other security agencies within the state to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
“Lagosisans should rest assured that there will be adequate security coverage for people to go out and cast their vote in a peaceful and calm environment,” he said.
The News reports that over 200 officers, Air Men and Women, participated in the exercise which saw them march through the base to the Murtala Muhammed Airport axis and back to the base.
Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker release joint statement following their meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
The European Union states that it will not re-open talks on the Brexit deal.
However, they offer to add new words to the accompanying Political Declaration.
This is unlikely to win over UK MPs who voted last week for a full renegotition of the deal.
UK and EU negotiators will hold new talks and find a way to break the current deadlock.
May and Juncker will meet again before end of February to "take stock" of these discussions.
Theresa May's demand to re-open negotiations on her Brexit deal has been officially rejected by the European Union, after the prime minister traveled to Brussels on Thursday morning.
In a joint statement released by the UK prime minister and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the two leaders said they had engaged in a "robust but constructive" conversation, but confirmed that the Withdrawal Agreement was not up for renegotiation.
"President Juncker underlined that the EU27 will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, which represents a carefully balanced compromise between the European Union and the UK, in which both sides have made significant concessions to arrive at a deal," the two leaders said in a statement.
They added that Juncker was open to adding new words to the accompanying "Political Declaration," which is a non-legally binding statement on aspirations for the future relationship between the two sides.
They also said that both sides would hold fresh talks "before the end of February" in order to find a way to break the deadlock.
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However, the statement casts further doubt on May's hopes of securing any meaningful changes to the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, as demanded by significant numbers of MPs in Westminster.
The backstop is the insurance policy for making sure there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic under any circumstances after the UK has left the EU.
A majority of MPs in the UK House of Commons voted last week for May to replace the current backstop with "alternative arrangements."
Conservative MPs fear that the backstop in its current form would leave the UK tied to EU rules for years after Brexit, while the Democratic Unionist Party which props up May's government says it would create unacceptable new checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Conservative rebels have also indicated that they will not back any deal that does not include the removal or complete change of the backstop arrangements.
The British prime minister this week established a new working group charged with defining what those "alternative arrangements" could be.
The EU's rejection of May's call for a renegotiation comes after the UK opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to May offering to back her deal if she accepted a closer relationship with the EU after Brexit.
Corbyn said the party would support a deal that was based on a permanent customs union and a closer relationship with the single market.
A spokesperson for May said the prime minister would respond to Corbyn's offer "in due course," but added that "our position on the custom union is well known and that has not changed."
The talks were held in a spirit of working together to achieve the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU, especially in the context of a shared determination to achieve a strong partnership for the future given the global challenges the EU and the UK face together in upholding open and fair trade, cooperation in the fight against climate change and terrorism and defending the rules-based international system.
The Prime Minister described the context in the UK Parliament, and the motivation behind last week's vote in the House of Commons seeking a legally binding change to the terms of the backstop. She raised various options for dealing with these concerns in the context of the Withdrawal Agreement in line with her commitments to the Parliament.
President Juncker underlined that the EU27 will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, which represents a carefully balanced compromise between the European Union and the UK, in which both sides have made significant concessions to arrive at a deal. President Juncker however expressed his openness to add wording to the Political Declaration agreed by the EU27 and the UK in order to be more ambitious in terms of content and speed when it comes to the future relationship between the European Union and the UK. President Juncker drew attention to the fact that any solution would have to be agreed by the European Parliament and the EU27.
The discussion was robust but constructive. Despite the challenges, the two leaders agreed that their teams should hold talks as to whether a way through can be found that would gain the broadest possible support in the UK Parliament and respect the guidelines agreed by the European Council. The Prime Minister and the President will meet again before the end of February to take stock of these discussions.