The Indian government has approved plans to sell part of its stake in state-run banks and raise about $25.76 billion, according to a statement issued on Wednesday. State Bank Of India, largest public-sector bank in IndiaReutersThe decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet. The sale is expected to happen in a phased manner, till 2019. The 27 state-run banks of Asia’s third-largest economy currently have state ownership ranging from 56 percent to 84 percent. These banks account account for 70 percent of the total outstanding loans of about $1 trillion. The government would continue to hold 52 percent stake in the banks after the stake sale.The banks also need an estimated $60 billion to build a buffer against bad loans in line with new global regulations.Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha had told the parliament in November that a reduction in government stake in the banks would reduce capital injections substantially, as mandated by the new norms.Over the last decade, the government funded these banks by about $13 billion. However the need to lower the budget deficit could limit the options available to the government on continued funding for the banks.Over the next four years, the government would have to pump in ₹788.95 billion ($12.70 billion,) to maintain its 52 percent stake. Dividend outflow for the same period would mop up almost ₹345 billion ($5.56 billion.)While the bigger state-run banks could see positive reaction to its share sales, smaller ones could languish. Most state-run banks are burdened by high levels of bad debt and corporate governance issues.A panel appointed by the RBI had recommended the government to reduce its stake in state lenders to less than 50 percent.
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. File PhotoBNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Tuesday said the next general election is a challenge for the Awami League, not for the principal opposition party.“This is because the people will not vote for the Awami League. And that’s why, the (AL) government is up to all sorts of mischief,” he told a press briefing at the BNP‘s Naya Paltan central office.The BNP leader pointed out that, angered by the misrule of the Awami League, the people of Bangladesh will take to the streets.“Then the house of cards will collapse. The people will bounce back (to restore their democratic rights) and this government will fall,” Mirza Fakhrul said after a meeting of the party to chalk out programmes on its founding day on 1 September.The BNP leader told a questioner that it is important that the media and the civil society play a key role in restoring fundamental rights of the people as well as to ensure free and fair elections in the country.He expressed his frustration at the censorship the media is dealt with nowadays. “The people will remember this,” he added.Mirza Fakhrul regretted that a section of critics said the BNP is in crisis. “The BNP cannot be ruined. This party has come here overcoming many odds… The next general elections, if held without participation of the BNP, will not be credible.”He also rejected out criticism that the opposition party does not announce programmes demanding the release of party chairperson Khaleda Zia.“Programmes are being announced and observed regularly. You will see at an opportune moment what kind of (other) programmes are announced.”The BNP’s senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi announced the party’s programmes to mark the BNP’s founding anniversary on 1 September. The party held a joint meeting to finalise the programmes.According to UNB, the programmes include a public rally, discussions, hoisting party flags, and placing wreaths at the grave of party founder Ziaur Rahman.As per the founding anniversary programmes, the party flag will be hoisted atop its Nayapaltan central office and all other offices of BNP across the country at 6am on 1 September.Besides, the party leaders and activists will place wreaths and offer fateha at the grave of its founder ex-President Ziaur Rahman at 11.00am on the day.The BNP is scheduled to hold a rally at 3pm the same day either at Suhrawardy Udyan or in front of BNP office subject to permission by the authorities concerned.The party will also arrange a discussion at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh the following day.The party’s associate bodies and all of its units across the country will also mark the day with various programmes, including discussions.On 1 September 1978, late president Ziaur Rahman formed BNP with a 19-point programme to build a self-reliant Bangladesh. BNP ruled the country for several terms.
Thomas Bougher/TexasTribuneHundreds of industrial facilities across Texas are illegally spewing millions of pounds of toxic pollutants into the air each year when they break down or perform maintenance, and state environmental regulators are not adequately policing the rogue emissions, according to a new report.The report by the Washington D.C.-based Environmental Integrity Project and Austin-based Environment Texas — titled “Breakdowns in Air Quality” — found that 679 facilities from the Beaumont/Port Arthur area to rural West Texas emitted more than 68 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, benzene and other toxic substances last year during more than 3,400 incidents of breakdown or maintenance. The organizations compiled the report by analyzing emissions reports in online databases maintained by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state’s environmental regulatory agency. Terry Clawson, a spokesman for the commission, said Wednesday morning that the agency was reviewing the report.The report asserts that the vast majority of the 2015 emissions were illegal because they exceeded the maximum emissions facilities allowed under their state and federal air permits. Companies have argued, however, that emissions during maintenance, start-up and shutdown events aren’t illegal and that they do everything necessary under federal and state law to minimize the breaches, which they say are unavoidable.The report found that facilities in the Houston area accounted for the largest share of 2015 emissions, discharging 5 million pounds of pollutants. Dow Chemical’s plant in Freeport accounted for the highest share — nearly 1.3 million pounds.The facility with the single highest emissions rate in the state was Keystone Gas Plant in West Texas’ Winkler County, the report says. In 2014, that plant emitted 11 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, which causes smog. Its air permit limits sulfur dioxide emissions to 1.6 million pounds of sulfur dioxide.State penalties for such events are too infrequent and too low, the report says.“Fines imposed by the state are often very small in comparison to the cost to public health and the profits generated by the industry,” it concludes.“By their own admission, polluters in Texas are routinely and egregiously violating the law and endangering public health with unauthorized emissions,” said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, in a statement. “And too often regulators look the other way when polluters break the law. This lawlessness must come to an end.”Environment Texas and other environmental groups have sued companies directly in recent years over such emissions events, citing inaction from state and federal environmental regulators. Disclosure: Dow Chemical has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here. Share This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2016/04/27/plants-emitting-pollutants-illegally-report-finds/.
By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, email@example.comThe chairman of the D.C. Council, and one of the at-large council members, didn’t receive an endorsement from one of the most influential political organizations in the District of Columbia.On April 21, the Ward 8 Democrats held their endorsement meeting for the positions of the District Attorney General, chairman of the D.C. Council, and the Democratic at-large seat on the council at the D.C. Vehicle for Hire Department in the ward. Ward 8 Democratic voters were eligible to cast ballots for the three positions and there were members of the D.C. Democratic State Committee members from other wards to police the process and see that it ran smoothly.Anita Bonds is running for re-election as a Democratic at-large council member. (AFRO File Photo)The voting took place from 12-2 p.m.The endorsements are for the June 19 Democratic primary. The winner of the Democratic primary for the three positions are favorites to win the Nov. 6 general election because the city is 74 percent Democratic, according to D.C. Board of Elections statistics.For a candidate to receive an endorsement from the Ward 8 Democrats, they needed to get 60 percent of the votes that were cast. In this instance, a candidate would have had to get 46 votes out of the 78 cast.D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) is running for re-election to a second full term. Bonds is running against Ward 8 activist Aaron Holmes, environmental leader Jeremiah Lowery and real estate professional Marcus Goodwin in the June 19 Democratic Party primary.Bonds got 33 votes, 13 short of the endorsement while Holmes got 21, Goodwin received 12 and Lowery had eight. Despite not getting the Ward 8 Democrats nod, Bonds told the AFRO she was satisfied with the result.“I am pleased that I came and participated,” she said. “I would note that one of my opponents came from this ward and I got more votes than he did.”WHO IS SHE TALKING ABOUT?Goodwin credited the leadership of the Ward 8 Democrats for having an open process. “The result was nothing profound to me but I take my hat off to the Ward 8 Democrats for giving the candidates a fair opportunity,” he said to the AFRO. Goodwin noted that the late Marion Barry, the four-term mayor and elected four times to represent the ward on the D.C. Council, would have supported Bonds and she would have gotten the endorsement outright because of his influence.During the council candidates’ forum that took place during the voting, all agreed that more affordable housing is needed in the District and the educational system is due for major improvements. They also agreed that the District should have a state-of the art hospital in its East End and not a jail, whether it is publicly or privately financed.In the chairman’s race, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson came up three votes shy of winning the endorsement. However, there are three provisional ballots that need to be counted and they have the potential to earn the chairman the endorsement.Former D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute leader Ed Lazere had 20 votes to perennial candidate Calvin Gurley, the only African American in the race, who got eight. District Attorney General Karl Racine has no opponent in the Democratic primary and easily got past the 60 percent threshold.