CUTS IN Media
, Pakistan need to join forces against terrorism
14, 2004, Daily Times
By Shahid Husain
KARACHI: Indian columnist Pradeep S Mehta said on Monday that India and Pakistan needed to collaborate with each other to combat poverty and terrorism.
Delivering a lecture under the auspices of the NGO Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Mr Mehta, who is the founding secretary general of the Jaipur-based Consumers Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), said it was high time the two countries’ visa restrictions against each other’s citizens were relaxed. “I have been to Islamabad thrice, but this is the first time that I have been able to visit Karachi and that too after the intervention of the Commerce Minister (Humaiyon Akhtar Khan),” he remarked.
He said India, the world’s largest democracy, was “very pluralistic,” with the second-largest Muslim population in the world.
He also said it was in the interest of India to be surrounded by countries which were prospering economically. Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee even spoke of a single currency for the two countries, he said.
He said Nepalese and Bhutanese currencies were tied with the Indian rupee because the two countries’ economies were very weak, but of course Pakistan was a different case. He said today the trade between Pakistan and India was worth $600 million, whereas informal trade between the two countries was worth $1.5 billion.
He said the vested interests in every country want conflicts to continue. He said fundamentalists on either side of the divide were opposed to progress. He said the sentiment in Pakistan was that there should be trade between the two countries since Pakistani consumers pay higher prices for certain commodities which could be imported at cheaper rates from India.
Cultural contacts between the two countries also need to be improved, and there is hardly any cultural difference between India and Pakistan, he said. Mr Mehta, who serves on several policy-making bodies of the Indian government, said the disharmony between the two countries in the last 58 years was not in the economic interest of either of them, and there was no sense in consumers of the two countries suffering because of the political disputes.
He said there has been a water dispute between Bangladesh and India over the Farruka Barrage but that did not hamper economic cooperation between them. “If we take the example of ASEAN, Malaysia and Thailand could have a border problem but that did not come in the way of economic cooperation between them,” he said.
He said the United States had a deficit with all the countries it trades with, but its economy does not suffer. “When the consumer gains, the economy gains,” he remarked.
He said in the European Union, there were differences between France and Spain but that did not affect their economic cooperation. “Regional economic cooperation is better than global cooperation,” he remarked.
He said it required progressive thinking to conclude that some disputes will not be resolved soon.
He said Pakistan would have an annual income of $500 million from Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. “We were harming ourselves by hesitating to boost economic cooperation,” he said.
He said three years ago the trade volume between India and China, with which his country has a border dispute, was worth $3 billion; today, it was worth $10 billion.
Similarly, he added, the trade volume between Pakistan and India could also reach $10 billion despite their disputes.
2, 2004, Times of Zambia
By Business Reporter
THE Consumer Unity & Trust Society Africa Resource Centre (CUTS-ARC) has urged Zambia to develop a strategy if she has to benefit fully from the numerous trade protocols.
Centre director Sajeev Nair said in Lusaka yesterday that trade was a key component of poverty reduction and economic development and hence the need for Zambia to position herself ideally to benefit from the signed protocols.
CUTS-ARC is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) whose aim is to inform, educate and provoke debate on issues of trade and sustainable development, and economic equity.
Speaking in an interview at the just ended Commission for Africa national consultative forum at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, Mr Nair said it was sad that Zambia had not harmonised trade into the transitional national development plan.
Mr Nair also said that even the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and Transitional Development Plans (TNDP) did not clearly elaborate adjustments Zambia would make to increase exports.
It was vital for Zambia to come up with a plan to be used as a tool for national development and as a pad on which all other initiatives like those of the World Bank and World Trade Organisation (WTO) based their support.
He said if Zambia developed a strategy to improve its exports, this would offset balance of payment (BoP) deficit which impacted negatively on the economy.
He said Zambia should emulate developed countries which prioritised local producers as opposed to outside ones.
11, 2004, Dainik Vishwamitra
10, 2004, Hindustan Times
THE WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) is not convinced the standard drugs administered and sold to patients in Bengal’s government hospitals are safe and always correctly priced.
In the first such instance in India, WHO’s New Delhi-based Southeast Asia regional office has told the state health directorate to check the quality and pricing of drugs available in government medical colleges and hospitals as also in retail stores in their neighborhood. It was told the state to send its report to Delhi by the year-end.
The move has been prompted by allegations that some state hospitals are administering substandard drugs to patients.
In a parallel move, the world health body has engaged two NGOs – Community Development Medicinal Unit (CDMU) and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) – to collect data relating to availability and prices of drugs sold in government hospitals and retail shops near such hospitals.
Health directorate officials confirmed that samples of common drugs of about 30 different groups, including antibiotics, paracetamol and anti-retroviral, cardiovascular, anti-malaria and anti-asthma drugs would be tested in a state-run laboratory.
Samples would be collected from about 15 hospitals, including SSKM, R. G. Kar, Sambhunath Pandit and the state general hospitals in West Midnapore, South 24-Parganas, Jalpaiguri and Murshidabad. In fact, collection of drugs has already begun at SSKM and several district hospitals, they said.
SSKM super Santanu Tripathi, a coordinator of the WHO project in Bengal, told HT, “We have already started work in various hospitals, including SSKM.”
Dr Abhijit Hazra of CDMU, one of the two NGOs engaged by WHO, said, “There are allegations that low-cost drugs available in government health Centres are substandard. In view of such complaints, we are conducting surveys to check the quality of drugs and their price. We have collected data from hospitals in six districts.”
October 21, 04, Hindustan Times
attention is paid to even basic safety measures, especially in the
case of these makeshift amusement fairs. They're supposed to get
permission from the police, but the police are ill-equipped to check
the operational safety of the equipment and machinery. None have
emergency rescue measures, not even proper first-aid kits,"
said the researcher of CUTS, 20-year old body with eight centres
around the world.
18, 04, The Telegraph
BAPPA MAJUMDAR AND PRONAB MONDAL
Nine-year-old Arindam Ghosh insisted on taking a joyride on a merry-go-round at a pandal last year.
Minutes into the ride, the bolt of his seat came off and the boy fell in a heap, breaking several of his teeth and sustaining injuries in the head and neck. The joyride turned out to be a tragedy.
Such horrifying experiences, hopefully, will be a thing of the past, thanks to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which has come up with a set of guidelines for ride operators.
Every year, close to five million people visit pandals in the city and enjoy rides. At least 1,000 get injured, sparking protests by consumer rights groups, which have been clamouring for more stringent safety norms.
With the BIS taking the lead, the city police announced on Saturday that cops will be posted in every ride zone to ensure that the safety norms are adhered to.
According to the BIS Code of Recommended Practice for Amusement Ride Safety (IS 15475), all rides will have to go through “rigorous quality-control checks” before they are installed in fair grounds.
Wear and tear from constant use, speed control of rides such as a Ferris Wheel (nagordola) and regular verification of gadgets are part of the six-point BIS recommendations.
The BIS has also stressed on proper training of ride operators. “The safety requirements and training of operators comprise a large part of the code of practice. In big fairs, our men will be on constant vigil,” said a senior BIS official.
The police, too, will be at hand to prevent pleasure from turning into sorrow.
“We will take all possible precautions to ensure that the rides do not turn fatal. Extra policemen will be deployed in the pandals to ensure that the operators do not violate the safety norms,” said Sanjay Mukherjee, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters).
Apart from the city police, the Consumer of Unity Trust Society (CUTS) of India will play the role of watchdog.
“A very common phenomenon in the city is to act after an accident. Every year, the government suggests a thorough check of the rides to see whether the gadgets are in good condition,” said Soumi Home Roy of CUTS.
“But the checks are never carried out. So, this move by the BIS is very welcome,” she added.
This year, CUTS representatives will be out in strength to enforce the safety norms.
“Despite the safety bureau pitching in, if we come across a repeat of previous years’ experience, we will take up the matter with the government,” asserted Home Roy.
14, 04, Dainik vishwamitra
CUTS plans to nip consumer ignorance
08, 04, Asian age
Kolkata, Oct 7: Concerned over the fact that only a few can avail
of prompt medical attention in accidents, Consumer Unity and Trust
Society (CUTS) has initiated a nation-wide campaign to sensitise
people that medical institutions by law cannot deny any emergency
Roy lamented the ignorance of these rules. She stated "medical
handling of crash victims in India is far from satisfactory. The
time taken between the accident and reaching the hospital is critical,
but the procedural wrangles and public fear of getting involved
in a police case delay crucial help.
To strengthen the awareness drive, CUTS has written to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH), and DG police of all the states.
04,2004, Hindustan Times,
The Three power distribution companies of Rajasthan – Jaipur, Jodhpur and Ajmer, are imposing an additional burden of Rs.1000 crore on the state government by not checking their transmission and distribution losses, according to an assessment done by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS).
These companies are planning to impose this extra burden on the consumers by increase the power tariff.
CUTS has submitted a memorandum to the RERC and demanded cancellation of the petition of all three Discoms about tariff increase.
They also demanded that the distribution companies should present their records in public and conduct a field survey of the T&D losses.
According to Vinayak Pandey of CUTS, Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission had in 2001 directed these companiues to reduce their T&D losses to 20 per cent from 37 per cent in five years but these companaies actually increased their losses to 41 per cent.
One per cent reduction in T&D loss is equal to Rs.29 crore saving to these companies.
If these companies had followed RERC’s directions, they could have saved rs.360 crore each by now. Together they could have saved more than Rs.1000 crore, calculated Pandey.
He said these companies are planning to increase the tariff and impose burden on the consumers to overcome the T&D losses incurred by them. If one reads the petition filed by the three Discoms to RETC for increasing the power tariff, it becomes evident that these companies have been ignoring the directions of RERC.
RERC in April this year instructed the companies to mention the last date of submitting suggestions on all consumer bills so that they cana lodge their complaints / suggerstions / demands in time. However, these companies are not following RRC’s directions.
CUTS after studying the petition filed by the three companies, is preparing a draft with the reactions of consumers of all categories and would submit it to the RERC.
September 18, 04, Deccan Herald
Is It Really Safe: Soumi Home Roy (Jaipur: CUTS, 2004, pp 162) This book is a compilation of articles on consumer safety issues written from time to time, with the aim of increasing consumers' awareness onsafety aspects of various products and services. The book also provides a synopsis on Indian rules and regulations on safety issues.
Sunday Times of Zambia Special Business Pull-out, September 26, 2004
The POST, September 17, 2004
Sunday Times of Zambia, Special Business Pull-Out, September 19th, 2004
17, Times of Zambia
Government says the liberalisation programme has failed to unlock the problems the private sector has been facing.
Commence, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary Davidson Chilipamushi said yesterday that even after liberalisation, the growth of the Zambian economy has slowed over the past decade.
Mr. Chilipamushi was speaking in Lusaka at the official launch of the investment policy in Zambia Study Report organised by the Consume Unity and Trust Society Africa Resource Centre (CUTS-ARC).
He said the new policy would address the concerns of stakeholders on the key issue of levelling the play field for domestic and foreign investors in terms of incentives, facilities and opportunities.
Private Sector Devlopment Programme (PSDP) manager Chris Seally called for the creation of a better psychological environment for investors focusssing on the "feel good"factor in promoting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Zambia.
17, Zambia Daily Mail
A report by the consumer Unity and Trust society - Afric Resource Centre (CUTS-ARC) has revealed the existence of loose ends in the policy making and implementation aspects of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country.
This is according to CUTS-ARC's report study on; Investment Policy in Zambia Performance and Perceptions and Investmetn Policyin Zambia- an agenda for action.
The report says that there has been no serious efforts to analyse Zambia's onbestment polocies and performance on the recent past with investigations revealing that there was inadequate sector specific data on both inflows and outflows of investment data held by the Zambia Investment Centre (ZIC).
The ZIC data mainly refers to investment pledges and does lnot include actual investments.
CUTS-ARC's study notes that many FDI's flows to Zambia during the 1990s were not greenfield investment but mainly for the takeover of privatised parastatal firms and also for retail business.
Even in the absence of precise statistical evidence of the amount and nature of FDI inflows to Zambia, it can be still inferred despite all the efforts in terms of structural adjustment and additional foreign incentives, Zambia has not been a favourable FDI destination.
The report also noted that the country could not catch up with the new developments in the investment facilitation arrangements, especially "the all-under-one-roof" facility for a potential investor.
The report stated that inadequate infrastructure facilities are a major roadblock in attracting FDI in Zambia.
It further says technology transfer and skill sharing are neglected at present because the country also lacks skilled manpower due to the absence of quality education and training institutions.
CUTS-ARC stated that there is also inadequate polocy coordination among not only the various institutions crucial for investment facilitation but also between the agencies such as competition commission and the sectorial regulators.
16, Zambia Daily Mail
Two Universities of Zambia (UNZA) researchers say the tourism sector has failed to attract investment because of poor communication network in the country.
Professor Oliver Saasa said the non-existence of roads leading to tourist attractions was a hindrance to investment in the sector.
Prof. Saasa cited Siavonga as one of the areas that could contribute towards the gross domestic produc (GDP) of the country through tourism investment.
And Prof. Venkatesh Seshamane said the cost of travelling to the tourist attractions within the country was very high compared to the other countries in the regions.
Prof. Seshamane said it was costing tourists a lot of money to fly to tourists sites due to the absence of good road network.
He also urged Government to seek aid from the cooperating partners to develop and protect the sites for the future generation.
He said tourism was one of the contributors towards the GDP hence the need to put in place good road infrastructures in the affected areas.
The two professors were expressing their concerns at a one-day workshop on Investment in Zambia: Performance and Perceptions organised by Consumer Unity and Trust society in Lusaka on Tuesday.
15, Zambia Daily Mail
GOVERNMENT says a proper investment policy is vital for the flow of both domestic and foreign direct investment (FDIs) in the country.
Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary, Davidson Chilipamushi, said that the Investment Act review was a vacuum because it could only be derived from the investment policy.
Mr Chilipamushi was speaking in Lusaka yesterday at the official launch of the study report: ''Investment policy in Zambia'' by Consumer Unity and Trust Society-Africa Resource Centre (CUTS-ARC). He said the report will help to rekindle interest to move in the right direction.
And University of Zambia lecturer, Oliver Saasa, said there are no legal laws to distinguish between local and foreign investment. Prof. Saasa said there is need to come up with registration instruments to regulate FDIs.
Prof. Saasa said the export processing zones were appropriate in a liberalised economy and an important aspect to promote investment
Meanwhile, CUTS-ARC regional co-ordinator, Sajeev Nair, said the study, which was initiated in 2001, was done with the aid of United Nations Conference for Trade and Development and Department For International Development (DFID).
He said it was a seven-country comparison report on the developing and least developed countries on investment policy mainly on Asian and African nations. "We tried to compare policies of large and small developing countries," he said.
September 13, Zambia Daily Mail
LUSAKA- The Consumer Unity and Trust Society - Africa Resource Centre (CUTS-ARC) is tomorrow expected to launch a study report on investment policy in Zambia.
The study report has been a seven-country research and advocacy project on investment for development.
CUTS-ARC coordinator, Sajeev Nair, in a statement in Lusaka said the study will be launched together with an advocacy document entitled Investment Policy in Zambia: An agenda for Action.
The research was part of a fact-finding and advocacy work on investment regimes covering Zambia, South Africa, Hungary, Tanzania, Brazil, Bangladesh and India.
Sept. 04, Times of India
person who wanted to commit suicide but failed, is wheeled
into a hospital. As he lies dying, hospital staff get busy
filling up various forms. Fortunately for the man who wanted
to die, Munnabhai MBBS walks in. Admonishing his colleagues
for placing more importance on paper work than saving a life,
he gets down to the task of getting the patient back on his
Consumer Unity & Trust Society
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