Kolkata: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said the steel, power and the sugar sector along with the discoms remain stressed sectors and the government is addressing the challenges involved. “There are serious challenges in steel, power, discoms and sugar these are the key areas where we are addressing the challenges of the industry,” he said during an interactive session of the Indian Chamber of Commerce here.
With Chinese imports flooding the Indian steel industry, nearly all steel-makers in the country have posted a negative balance sheet for the quarter ended June 30 while power availability and its connectivity to rural areas remain a concern. However, the minister stressed on boosting the manufacturing sector to help India attain a 8-10 percent growth. “If we are able to increase our pace of manufacturing, our services are going to be reasonably high,” he said.
Thanking the rain-gods for being “kinder this year”, Jaitley said the agro-based industry will register “significant improvement” as compared to the last year. Further, the minister said changes in the Chinese economy will help India further its manufacturing capabilities. “There is a transformation of their (Chinese) economy taking place. Besides manufacturing, they are also getting into services and are also becoming consumption-oriented rather than export-oriented,” he said. Jaitley also said wages in China are increasing which might present a scope for India to enhance its manufacturing competitiveness.
Chanting anti-government slogans, workers lined up outside the upscale al-Waha shopping center in downtown Khartoum, demanding an end to the country’s 30-year military rule.
“Our martyrs lost their lives,” they shouted, referring to the dozens of people killed since December in Sudan’s revolution. “We can lose our jobs.”
Tuesday was the first day of a two-day nationwide strike called by opposition leaders demanding that Sudan’s military junta transfer power to a civilian government. The junta took power in April following the ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir after months of street protests.
Bashir had ruled for nearly 30 years and was accused of human rights abuses and corruption.
An alliance of unions, professional organizations, and political parties called the strike. Talks between the alliance and the military council, which took power in an April coup, collapsed earlier this month after soldiers attacked peaceful demonstrators in the city, killing several and wounding hundreds.
The talks had stalled over whether civilians or generals would have control of a sovereign council meant to run the country for the next three years before elections.
With talks deadlocked, leaders of Sudan’s protest movement said they are escalating their pressure on the military, starting with the strike.
Outside al-Waha mall, Idris Ibrahim, a teller at the Bank of Khartoum, said the Sudanese people are growing impatient.
“We want a civilian government,” he said. “The military council has had the country for almost 50 days now. We’ve had negotiations, but they don’t seem to want to give us our civilian government.”
Around the nation, workers in various sectors posted photos of themselves on social media holding signs supporting the strike, including oil workers, dentists, sugar processing employees, cement factory workers, and veterinarians.
Numerous international flights to Sudan were also cancelled as aviation employees threatened to strike.
The broad support for the protest was despite the rejection of the strike by of the opposition Umma Party, a member of the opposition alliance, which had raised fears of a split in the civilian movement.
On one run-down block, Siddig Ibrahim said he managed one of eight stores that normally sell clothes, watches, shoes, and other goods. All of them agreed to close.
“We ask everybody who is not striking to join the strike. It’s for the nation,” he said. “Those who aren’t striking don’t represent the majority.”
On Ibrahim’s block, only one shop – selling ties, suits, and dress shirts – remained open. The owner said he opened his store because he had not heard of the strike, but added he would close up soon because he feared crowds of striking workers that had gathered in the streets.
There were no reports of violence from protesters by late Tuesday, but members of the military council earlier vowed to fire any striking government workers.
Video circulated on social media Tuesday appeared to show uniformed security forces arresting staff of an electricity utility. Sudanese electricians had otherwise downed their tools, but said they would ensure power supply to necessary services such as hospitals.
The Sudan Professionals Association, a leading member of the opposition alliance, also accused members of the military of entering the Central Bank and attempting to force employees to work.