Lanka urges unity to combat terrorism

Alluding to the centenary of   the  first  large  scale  use  of  chemicals  during  the  First  World  War, which was commemorated earlier in April this year at Ieper, Belgium, Ambassador Sadiq told the audience that the occasion reminded the  international  community  of   the horrendous  consequences  of  chemical warfare. Sri Lanka has urged the world community to stand firm and united in combating terrorism, the Foreign Ministry said today.This call was made when Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Adam M.J. Sadiq addressed the 20th Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in the Hague. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador also spoke of the relationship between the OPCW and Sri Lanka and noted “the capacity building programme on the  Safe  and  Secure  Management  of  Hazardous  Substances held in Sri Lanka in September this year in collaboration with Holcim  Lanka  Ltd.  He also referred to the  OPCW  Associate  Program  2015, in which  Load  Star  (Pvt)  Company  Ltd of  Sri  Lanka   hosted  the  industrial  attachment  of  two  participants  from  Tunisia  and  Poland  in  September  2015, enabling  them  to  gain  practical  experience  in  a sophisticated  industrial  environment”.The Conference of States Parties is the plenary organ comprising 192 members of the OPCW and is empowered to oversee the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).  Sri Lanka, as an early signatory of the CWC in January 1993, remains committed to the principles on which the OPCW was founded. (Colombo Gazette) Speaking on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka during the General Debate of the Conference, Ambassador Sadiq referring to the terrorist attacks in Paris, told the meeting, “While  unreservedly  condemning  the  recent  cold-blooded  terror  attacks  in  Paris  and  elsewhere in  the  world, Sri  Lanka  which  lost  thousands  of  innocent  lives  and  suffered  wanton  damage and  destruction  of  property,  due  to  terrorism,   calls  upon   the  international  community  to  stand  firm  and  united  in  combating  terrorism  in  all  its  forms  and  manifestations,  irrespective  of  the  source  or  target  of  this evil  menace”.  In this context, he pointed out “however, even  after  a  century of experiencing  such  painful  human  suffering,  we are  yet  to  realize  a  world  free  of  chemical  weapons. The world is today experiencing  new  waves  of  terrorism.  With  the  rapid  advancement of science  and  technology, the  fear psychosis  associated  with  the  potential  emergence  of  terrorist  groups  with  chemical  weapons  capability  continues  to  grow, demanding  new  preventive  measures  and  global  cooperation”.He further noted “in  this  backdrop,  the  role  of  the  OPCW  remains  indispensable  and  vital in  the  global  struggle  towards  disarmament  and  non-proliferation  of  weapons  of  mass destruction.   The  OPCW  must  be  commended  for  its  dedicated  efforts in  pursuing  effective  disarmament measures  to  prevent  the  re-emergence of  chemical  weapons  and  deter chemical  terrorism”. read more

Liberal deficits could hit 25 billion and still honour their fiscal anchor

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Now that the federal Liberals have shied away from their vow to keep annual deficits under $10 billion, they’ve latched on to another fiscal target — and this one will be much easier to meet.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld Liberal deficits could hit $25 billion and still honour their ‘fiscal anchor’ by Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press Posted Dec 13, 2015 12:22 pm MDT Last Updated Dec 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email OTTAWA – Now that the federal Liberals have shied away from their vow to keep annual deficits under $10 billion, they’ve latched on to another fiscal target — and this one will be much easier to meet.The new government is suddenly talking about the debt-to-GDP ratio, promising repeatedly to keep it on a downward track every year until the next election.The government calculates its debt-to-GDP ratio by dividing total federal debt by the overall size of the economy, as measured by nominal GDP.It represents a government’s capacity to pay back debt — and focusing on it gives politicians more spending flexibility.By targeting debt-to-GDP, the Liberals could instead be prepared to run annual deficits of up to $25 billion in the coming years and still lower the ratio — as long as the economy grows at a decent pace, economists say.“The government does have a fair bit of room if what they’re trying to do is just see the debt-to-GDP ratio go down,” said Mike Moffatt, who teaches economics at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School.The adoption of the debt-to-GDP ratio as a “fiscal anchor” is not new. It was mentioned in the Liberal election platform as one of the ways to keep spending under control. The campaign rhetoric, however, largely focused on the $10-billion annual deficit.No longer.With uncosted election promises piling up on top of unforeseen shortfalls in the underlying fiscal plan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has emphasized the more-reachable fiscal anchor in recent days.“We will continue to decrease (the debt-to-GDP ratio) every single year because that’s important for the fiscal health of our country,” Trudeau said Wednesday, after casting further doubt on the $10-billion annual deficit target because of economic challenges.“We always targeted modest deficits, we had hoped it would be around $10 billion — we will see if we will be able to hold at that level.”Plain old math dictates the ratio can continue to fall even if the public books slide into the red — at least to a point.That’s because even if the federal debt gets fatter, the ratio will edge downwards if the economy is growing faster than the debt.Still, in an economy battered by low commodity prices, the debt-to-GDP promise doesn’t exactly look like a slam dunk, either.Earlier this month, projections by the parliamentary budget office suggested the government could find itself running annual deficits up to $15 billion once the Liberals’ costed, big-ticket election promises are factored in. On top of that, the party has also made several uncosted vows.Then, this week, the Liberals conceded their new tax package will, in fact, drain more than $1 billion net from the treasury each year.At the same time, economic growth is sluggish.When considering the forecasts, Scott Clark — a former deputy minister of Finance — believes the Liberals will already be close to the threshold that would start ratcheting up the debt-to-GDP.“Then you’ve got a serious problem because then no one’s going to believe you,” Clark said of the danger of not living up to the goal.“Your credibility will go straight out the window because if you’re going to have an anchor … you have to live up to it. As soon as you break that, the financial markets will come down on you like a ton of bricks.”The Liberal platform, which helped carry the party to victory in October, also contained a second fiscal anchor: balancing the federal books by the fourth year of its mandate.But experts believe balancing the 2019-20 budget poses a big hurdle unless the government cuts spending or hikes taxes — or both — to overcome the weaker-than-expected economy and the pricey basket of electoral promises.Many experts like Clark argue that lowering the debt-to-GDP ratio is a more-appropriate — and achievable — commitment for a government than a balanced-budget anchor.The government projects the ratio will gradually fall each year from 31.1 per cent in 2015-16 to 25.2 per cent in 2020-21.But Don Drummond, a former senior Finance Department bureaucrat, questioned the importance of striving to drop an already-low ratio that’s much lower than it’s been in the past.“Who knows whether it even needs to be brought down?” said Drummond, who was assistant deputy minister of fiscal policy in the 1990s when the ratio was close to 70 per cent.“There’s nothing in the economic literature that drives you towards the notion of an optimal debt-to-GDP ratio…I think it’s a second choice on their part when they can’t produce the deficit target that they want. This is kind of a defensive mechanism.”Economist Moffatt, who stress-tested the fiscal numbers in the Liberals’ election platform, said if nominal GDP growth returned to a more-normal level in the coming years — of about 3.5 or four per cent — then the government could probably run deficits up to $25 billion without pushing the ratio up.For 2015, the government only expects nominal GDP to grow by 0.9 per cent largely due to the squeeze of low oil prices, according to its fall fiscal update.That projection, an average of private-sector forecasts taken in October, also called for a turnaround of 4.1 per cent growth in 2016, 4.6 in 2017 and 4.4 in 2018.Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter read more