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Canada’s new PM urged to fast-track free trade agreement with India

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Toronto: Welcoming the incoming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whose Liberal Party was swept to power yesterday, major Indo-Canadian organizations have urged him to fast-track the long-pending free trade agreement with India.

Ajit Someshawar, chairman of the Canada-India Foundation (CIF), urged Trudeau to make a state visit to India as one of his foreign policy priorities and conclude the long-pending Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and the Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) between the Canada and India.

Canada and India have agreed to triple their trade to $15 billion, but the progress has been tardy even as the visit by Modi – the first by any Indian PM in 42 years – here in April and two trips to India by his Canadian counterpart have reinforced this pledge.

“The growth in bilateral trade between the two countries has still not reached its full potential and even the modest goal of $15 billion annually is still far away,” said the chairman of the Canada-India Foundation which has honoured many great Indians such as former President APJ Abdul Kalam, Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy and Deepak Chopra with its annual CIF Chanchlani Global Indian Award of $50,000 since its inception in 2008.

Someshawar also urged the Canada’s new PM to reinforce the Canada-India Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group to bring parliamentarians of the two countries together.He also welcomed the new Family Class Reunification plan announced by the incoming government as it will help the 1.2-million-strong Indo-Canadian community to bring their dependents into Canada quickly.

Canada-India Business Council (C-IBC) vice-chairman Kam Rathee also urged the new Canadian Prime Minister to conclude the long-pending free trade agreement with India on a priority basis.

“The new prime minister should also set in motion a process to develop trade investment and services so that non-profit associations and organizations that promote Canada-India business get financial support,” added Rathee.

Ramesh Chotai, whose Bromed Pharmaceuticals is the biggest Canadian importer of pharmaceutical raw material from India, echoed similar views.

He also said, “Mr. Trudeau’s elevation to become the next Prime Minister of Canada brought back sweet memories for me. I came to Canada as refugee from Idi Amin’s Uganda, thanks to the policy decisions made by Mr. Trudeau’s father and former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I am eternally grateful to the senior Mr. Trudeau, whose forward thinking immigration and refugee policies have made Canada the great country it is, now reflected in the diversity of the newly elected House of Commons (which now has 19 Indo-Canadians).”

(Gurmukh Singh, IANS)

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The Answer to The Impending Questions On Demonetization Are Here

While it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

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Indian Currency. Pixabay

Nearly all of the currency removed from circulation in a surprise 2016 attempt to root out illegal hoards of cash came back into the financial system, Resever Bank of India  has announced, indicating the move did little to slow the underground economy.

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s currency decree, which was designed to destroy the value of billions of dollars in untaxed cash stockpiles, caused an economic slowdown and months of financial chaos for tens of millions of people or demonetization.

Modi announced in a November 2016 TV address that all 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes, then worth about $7.50 and $15, would be withdrawn immediately from circulation. The banned notes could be deposited into bank accounts but the government also said it would investigate deposits over 250,000 rupees, or about $3,700. The government eventually released new currency notes worth 500 and 2,000 rupees.

 

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An activist of Congress party hold the banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

 

In theory, the decree meant corrupt politicians and businesspeople would suddenly find themselves sitting on billions of dollars in worthless currency, known here as “black money.”

“A few people are spreading corruption for their own benefit,” Modi said in the surprise nighttime speech announcement of the order. “There is a time when you realize that you have to bring some change in society, and this is our time.”

But even as the decree caused turmoil for those in India who have always depended on cash — the poor and middle class, and millions of small traders — the rich found ways around the currency switch. In the months after the decree, businesspeople said that even large amounts of banned currency notes could be traded on the black market, though middlemen charged heavy fees.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with mayor, flickr

The reserve bank of India report said in its Wednesday report that 99.3 percent of the $217 billion in notes withdrawn from circulation had come back into the economy. Some officials had originally predicted that number could be as low as 60 percent.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“Frankly, I think demonetization was a mistake,” said Gurcharan Das, a writer and the former head of Proctor & Gamble in India. He said that while it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

“You can’t overnight change that in a country which is poor and illiterate. Therefore, for me it’s not only an economic failure but a moral failure as well,” Das said. (VOA)