|Friday, April 14, 2000,
Forced globalisation opposed
AG orders kin to hand over Elian
Dalai Lama in Tokyo
Fujimori fails outright win
Ban on Suharto leaving Jakarta
Forced globalisation opposed
HAVANA, April 13 (PTI) India today cautioned against imposition of standard harmonised models of economic development in the name of globalisation and said countries of the south should adopt a united stand against attempts of the north to destabilise developing nations.
"Globalisation should not destroy distinctiveness of nations and societies. Any erosion of cultural or civilisational identity as a result of globalisation is self-defeating, said Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, deputising for the Prime Minister, at the South Summit.
He said globalisation was changing the world as never before and the South must be able to define the terms of this globalisation so that it took into account the development dimension as also equity.
He said excessive liberalisation of the financial sector and speculative capital flows led to the Latin American debt crisis and the East Asian financial crisis.
Rather than standard globalisation, developing countries may opt for selective globalisation. It was important that globalisation not promote only freer movement of goods and capital while placing restrictions on movement of labour and technology, he said.
He strongly favoured creation of a "South-South human resources bank" to harness the skill available in developing nations and proposed that 2001 be designated as the "G-77 Year of Human Resource Development".
The modalities of establishing such a bank could be examined by a small group of G-77 experts, Mr Joshi said addressing the South Summit here today.
Mr Joshi said if comparative advantage was regarded as the rationale for globalisation, developing countries would be put to a disadvantage if their strength of competitiveness due to cheap labour was denied to them.
"Any insistence on core labour standards or social clause and linkage with trade which will only lead to protectionism in the developed world is not acceptable."
Maintaining that the need for unity in the South had never been as strong as now, he said it should have a uniform and united perspective.
Making a pitch for greater South-South linkages, Joshi said that India would be willing to put at the disposal of South-South cooperation, "Our expertise in frontier areas of science and technology, such as solar energy, astronomy, space technology and remote sensing, information technology, biotechnology and herbal medicines.
IPS adds: Cuban President Fidel Castro told the G 77 meeting that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should disappear and be replaced by a multilateral entity offering the global economy true stability.
of 133 countries of the developing south linked by the
group of 77 (G-77), Mr Castro blamed the IMF for a
"lack of foresight" and "clumsy
handling" of the latest global crisis, which broke
out in June 1997.
Zimbabwes Parliament dissolved
ZIMBABWES Parliament was formally dissolved on Tuesday amid renewed confusion about when President Robert Mugabe will call a general election that is expected to see a surge in support for the Opposition.
Although the President has told Britain that the ballot will be held in
May, a senior Zimbabwean official has warned that it will take at least until July to draw up new constituency boundaries. The law allows Mr Mugabe to delay the vote by up to four months after the dissolution of Parliament.
The uncertainty about the poll is fuelling political instability amid continuing land invasions, with more than 1,000 farms at least partially occupied by poor black squatters, and a looming court ruling on whether the police can be compelled to act against the squatters. Political violence is also spreading, with 63 persons arrested after houses were looted and cars torched after clashes in a Harare suburb.
The final decision on an election date lies with Mr Mugabe, who is in Cuba for a meeting of the Group of 77 developing nations. But Mr Wilson Sandura, head of the countrys Delimitation Commission, which decides constituency boundaries, said he had not been given enough time to prepare for an early election and would not be ready for months.
Although the Opposition believes it could benefit from a delay in the elections, there is widespread concern among ordinary Zimbabweans that if the election is delayed for several months it will lead to worse political violence and further damage the battered economy.
Mr Mugabes party, Zanu-PF, has dominated the fourth Parliament since Independence, holding all but three of 150 seats. But the party is facing humiliation if not outright loss of control amid growing public discontent at soaring inflation, rampant corruption and the governments evident contempt for the rule of law.
The main Opposition leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, said yesterday that were his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to win an outright majority, it would bring the presidential election forward from 2002 in an effort to unseat Mr Mugabe.
"If we get enough of a majority to amend the Constitution, we are likely to bring forward the [presidential] election by a constitutional amendment, Mr Tsvangirai said.
The occupation of farms continued yesterday, when at least six more were taken over. Farmers are awaiting a ruling from Zimbabwes High Court on whether the police can be forced to obey a court order requiring them to remove the men and women who have invaded more than 1,000 farms.
At a hearing on Monday, Attorney General Patrick Chinamasa admitted to the court that the occupations were "a racially and politically charged powder keg ready to explode". But he claimed the 20,000-strong police force lacks the resources to obey the order and that to do so would exacerbate tensions.
But the Commercial Farmers Union, which is seeking to compel the police to act, dismissed the Attorney Generals claim.
Zimbabwes Minister of Land and Agriculture, Mr Kumbirai Kangai, almost fell a victim to the invasions after a large group attempted to occupy his farm in Nyabira.
They were eventually driven off by security guards. Mr Kangai described the potential squatters as "thugs".
Window on Pakistan
EVER since Gen Pervez Musharraf took over the command of the Pakistan government in October last year his one-line programme has been to seek legitimacy for his military rule. He went overboard to have even a short visit of the US President, Mr Bill Clinton, and conceded to him the right to address the Pakistani nation live on the television. At the second level, he had adopted what many Pakistani newspapers call "Look East Policy". He went to two Muslim countries where dynasties rule, and later to Malaysia and Singapore. Now he has gone to Cuba to drum up support. Everywhere he was told that Pakistan must revive democracy as soon as possible.
But General Musharraf also has the second part of his agenda: to seek some kind of economic stability. The debt burden is a serious issue, and the Chief Executive, learning something about the mundane affairs of the economy, has been talking a lot about it.
Now with the former Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif having escaped the gallows and sentenced only to life imprisonment, the military junta can claim that the justice system is fair and judges deliver their judgements without fear of the those in khaki. " It is a civil rule and the World Bank and the IMF should help us" is the refrain.
So the major issue right now before the army ruler is the budget and the increasing debt burden. The World Bank and the international monetary fund may help, but only to a limited extent. Like hard-boiled money-lenders, they would not leave Pakistan in the lurch and thus lose their money, but keep the debt alive and help the economy to move, though clearly in slow gear.
Pakistans Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz has sought the rescheduling of the total repayment. In Washington where he is these days, he has sought three years instead of 20 months. The new rescheduling is for a period of three years and involves an amount of about $ 7 billion, unlike the first rescheduling agreement which covered $ 3.1 billion. Simultaneously, Pakistan is seeking from the IMF new poverty reduction assistance for two to three billion dollars for a three-year period. And that assistance is to be supplemented by further aid from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. But the decisive factor in these matters is a countrys ability to repay. On that score it has several handicaps.
To begin with, revenue collection this year is less than projected. The target has been reduced from Rs 380 billion to Rs 370 billion and then to Rs 360 billion; the actual collection for the first nine months of the year ending March 31 is Rs 240 billion. As a collection of Rs 120 to Rs 122 billion could not be made in the last three months of this year, the government wants the IMF to agree to a lower target. The IMF is reluctant to fall in line with this usual annual request and let the budget deficit be raised far above the agreed 3.3 per cent of the GDP.
On the external trade side, deficit is likely to be double the projected $ 800 million in view of the higher cost of importing oil. Exports did go up by 8.9 per cent in the first nine months of the year, thanks to the surplus cotton and higher yarn and textile exports, but the tripling of the oil price did all the mischief. However, the revenue from the oil surcharge has declined because of low oil prices and come as a boon to the government.
A leading Pakistani economist, Mr Sultan Ahmed wrote a very candid article in Dawn on April 13. He said. The Economist of London had described as "cooking the books" following the uncovering of Rs 90 billion in borrowing and expenditure over a two year period not shown in the official books. While the finance minister maintains the amount involved is lower, and it was not wilful concealment by the Nawaz Sharif government, the visiting IMF mission seems to have taken a serious note of that.
Mr Ahmad said, "added to that is the report of army teams uncovering fraudulent practices in the Customs and Excise Department involving large sums like Rs 790 million and the vanishing of 400 files of pay orders. May be, if the army teams dig in deep they will come up with more such scams involving larger amounts".
His further assessment is :" The Debt Reduction Cell set up by the government under Mr Pervez Hassan, former Vice-President of the World Bank, has come up with a strong warning to the rulers. It finds the total loans of Rs 3,000 billion, inclusive of domestic and foreign loans, excessive, and has urged positive steps to reduce that. It cautions the government not to take comfort in the fact that the debt is 96.7 per cent of the GDP, but to recognise that it is six times the total revenues of the country. The fact is that the debt is repaid out of the revenues of the state and not from the GDP."
The Dawn article added, "Now the share of the external loans in the public debt has been rising. By July 1 last external debt had a share of 51.7 per cent of the GDP while domestic debt had a share of 45 per cent. The sustained devaluation of the rupee makes the external loans bloat further in rupee terms. The government has first to mobilise the repayment resources in rupees and then find the dollar equivalent to repay the foreign debt which is equally tough".
Total liability in the form of external debt is now about $ 38 billion, including $ 35 billion in direct foreign debt, $ 2 billion in special US bonds and foreign currency bonds and more than $ 1 billion in left over foreign currency accounts.
AG orders kin to hand over Elian
MIAMI, April 13 (AFP, Reuters) After a failed meeting with Elian Gonzalez Miami relatives here, US Attorney General Janet Reno has ordered the family to hand-over the boy by 2.00 p.m. (11.30 p.m. IST) on tomorrow, CNN said.
But the Miami relatives appeared in no mood to cooperate with ending the custody battle, saying that after a meeting in Miami with Attorney General Janet Reno that the family would not willingly hand over the boy.
Mr Reno said a letter containing the transfer instructions was delivered last night to the Miami relatives, who have been battling to keep the six-year-old motherless child in the USA rather than send him back to grow up under Communism.
The relatives were given the choice of accompanying Elian to Washington where Mr Reno promised they could meet privately with the boys father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, or to relinquish temporary custody of the boy and let US Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) officials escort him to Washington.
The orders came after the Miami relatives failed to reach an agreement on a voluntary handover with Mr Reno during three hours of talks with her at the Miami beach home of a prominent local nun.
Mr Reno said the Justice Department would enforce its order, but gave no details on how the department would respond if the family failed to bring the boy to Opa-Locka Airport north-west of Miami.
"We will pursue the enforcement of the order in a prompt, fair way, Mr Reno told reporters at an impromptu news conference in Miami. Asked how the law would be enforced, Mr Reno said it would be "respectful, firm, fair and prompt.
great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, who has been caring for the
boy, told reporters the family would not cooperate with a
handover, but a family lawyer was quoted by local media
as saying that the relatives would comply with the law if
justice officials came to get the boy.
Dalai Lama in Tokyo
TOKYO, April 13 (PTI) The Dalai Lama, Tibets spiritual leader, today arrived here on a week-long visit amid reports that Tokyo had taken steps to prevent any head off with China.
The Nobel Laureate was accorded a warm welcome at Narita International Airport from Japanese and Tibetan monks.
Though China officially had opposed the Dalai Lamas latest visit, the Japanese Government granted him the visa ignoring Beijings protest.
To minimise Chinese ire, the government had requested that Tokyos outspoken city Governor Shintaro Ishahara cancel a meeting with the Dalai Lama, Jiji news agency said.
"We did not receive any form of protest from the Chinese Government today", said a spokesman at the Foreign Ministry, after Japan said on Tuesday that it had granted the Dalai Lama a visa.
Fujimori fails outright win
LIMA, April 13 (AFP) Peru will hold a second round of voting, after President Alberto Fujimori failed to garner more than 50 per cent of the votes and win the election outright, elections officials announced.
With 97.68 per cent of the ballots counted, the national electoral agency ONPE said late yesterday that Fujimori had won 49.89 per cent of the vote, and that the ballots that remain uncounted could make a difference of "only 0.05 per cent," ONPE Director Jose Portillo said.
"The final result is going to vary only slightly," Mr Portillo said.
Upstart opposition candidate Alejandro Toledo, who has charged that Mr Fujimori had mounted an election fraud, took 40.31 per cent of the ballot, the ONPE said.
Ban on Suharto leaving Jakarta
JAKARTA, April 13 (AFP) Former President Suharto, the target of a corruption probe, has been banned from leaving Jakarta and the country because of fears he may try to flee, officials said today.
Speaking to journalists
at the Attorney-Generals office, Munthe said the
bans were issued for Suhartos own protection. One
of Suhartos lawyers, Juan Felix Tampubolon, said
the ban on overseas travel for one year came into effect
200 Falun Gong men held
sentences for serial killer
held for helping ultras
engineered foods banned
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