22.11.2019

Indian print media has discussed the decision on privatisation of Public Sector Units (PSU). This can turn the tide. Dailies have commented that Mahinda Rajapaksa will be the Premier in a caretaker government until general elections due next year in Sri Lanka. Newspapers have discussed the rising prices of vegetables in Pakistan and cost of tomatoes have reached Rs. 400 per kilogram.

THE TIMES OF INDIA in an editorial MOVING FORWARD writes it is welcome that government is looking at a slew of reforms in a bid to revive the economy. On Wednesday, it approved stake sales in five PSUs, against the backdrop of a target of raising Rs 1.05 lakh crore from such stake sales in the current fiscal year. In its first term the Modi government had moved slowly on this front. But tightened fiscal conditions since then make it imperative to take a leaf out of the golden book of privatisation of PSUs during the Vajpayee-led NDA government. Not all stake sales are the same. For example, the Cabinet committee on economic affairs has approved strategic disinvestment of government’s shareholding of 53.29% in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, which will mean transfer of management control to the strategic buyer. NITI Aayog has prepared a list of around 50 PSUs that should be put on the block, not only for big-ticket asset monetisation but because government has no business running businesses like hotels or making scooters. Markets are crying out for liberalisation. Every effort in this direction will be rewarded with tangible improvements in the investment climate.

THE HINDU in an editorial TO THE POWER OF TWO says the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister consolidates the hold of the Rajapaksa family on power. The change was entirely on expected lines, after his younger brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, won decisively in the presidential election. Outgoing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose party’s candidate lost the election, submitted his resignation, thus enabling the newly-elected President to appoint a new Prime Minister.

Under the country’s constitutional scheme, the President is directly elected, and heads the Cabinet, even while the Prime Minister he appoints ought to be one who commands a majority in Parliament. Even though the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), the party of the Rajapaksas, does not have the requisite numbers, it is unlikely to be an issue, as it is expected to be only a caretaker regime until the next parliamentary elections, due in late 2020. Under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution introduced in 2015, the President may dissolve the House six months prior to the end of its term, which effectively means it could be dissolved any time after March. Mahinda Rajapaksa has emerged as Sri Lanka’s most popular leader today. Few will doubt that his acumen and personal charisma were crucial to his brother’s victory. His presence in an official role in the corridors of power will be vital in the way the President runs the country and handles external relations.

THE ECONOMIC TIMES in an editorial SABZI-DISED MARRIAGE MAKES MEDIA SPLASH opines the tomato is the subject of much song and dance in Pakistan, where its price has shot up to over Rs. 400 per kg, and farmers are hiring armed guards to protect the precious crop from larcenous marauders. To highlight the high cost of the comestible, a Pakistani bride on her wedding day eschewed traditional gold jewellery, bedecking herself instead in a necklace, earrings and other adornments all made of tomatoes, and told a reporter covering the event that her family had gifted her three more kilos of the vegetable. The rising cost of veggies, in Pakistan, might inspire a fairy tale retold in which when Cinderella’s stately carriage turns into a humble pumpkin, the consumer-friendly transformation makes Prince Charming go bananas over her.