Impact of plastic ban
The ban on single use plastics has been in effect from the beginning of July. The government has identified 19 plastic items that are not very useful but have a high potential to become litter and has made it illegal to produce, import, stock, distribute or sell them. These items range from plastic cups and straws to ice cream sticks. Some disposable plastic bags will also be phased out and replaced with thicker ones. Mostly plastics used in packaging are banned.
It is too early to comment on the success of the ban but one can say that it has not gone beyond organised retailers and cities and the awareness is yet to reach towns and villages.
Enforcement of ban at the user side is difficult and will have resistance, and hence the only option is to monitor the manufacturing units. Most of them, about 30,000, are MSMEs and the ban will lead to closure of many of them, employee layoffs and NPAs to banks. Hence, besides the environmental aspect, the socio-economic impacts are also to be addressed and relief measures are necessary for the affected manufacturers of the banned items.
More publicity is also required for the initiative and cost effective alternatives are to be made available.
Protecting the rupee
This refers to ‘Forex umbrella’ (July 27). The government is ticking all the right boxes to tame the rupee, by tweaking monetary and financial policies. Given the sustained global headwinds, the government cannot afford to be lulled into complacency.
Heavy reliance on import of commodities, especially crude oil, is inevitable and leaves little wriggle room. However, there are other areas where outflow of dollars could be reined in and inflows buttressed. For instance, the spurt in tourists travelling to other countries and students going abroad for studies involve outflow of dollars.
The government ought to take salutary measures to boost the education sector and tourism, especially health tourism. By adopting holistic measures, financial stability can be managed without much difficulty.
Shoring up forex reserves
Apropos ‘Avoid aggressive management of rupee’ (July 27), the rupee has been under pressure ever since the Russia-Ukraine war broke out.
The RBI has unleashed a slew of measures to arrest the fall. Using the forex reserves selectively to arrest the fall may look fine from a short-term perspective, but it is not advisable in the long run. Sale of dollars in the open market must be adopted judiciously.
Reducing imports and boosting exports could facilitate the build-up of forex reserves, but this cannot be achieved in the short run. The RBI can explore possibilities of special schemes with attractive interest rates for NRI and FCNR deposits.
This is with reference to ‘Most countries reporting monkeypox cases have no history of the virus’ (July 27). It is shocking that the WHO was unable to find out concrete symptoms of the monkeypox virus in the affected patients. Indian, for one, cannot afford to wait for case histories of attacks from different countries to emerge.
It should screen all vulnerable places to prevent the spread of the virus. The Centre must set up virology test centres in all the State capitals with qualified staff for identification of the virus.
Katuru Durga Prasad Rao
BRICS must scale up
The Ukraine conflict has exposed the flip side of a dominant dollar trade. The BRICS nations are not only rich in raw material and energy resources (Brazil, Russia and South Africa) but also strong in manufacturing and services (China and India). This sets up a nice closed loop for a healthy and progressive trade within its members for the bloc’s economic growth to be scaled up.
BRICS has a central bank now and should the bloc persevere, a reasonable alternative to dollar-driven trade can be explored over time. BRICS has a bright future towards which member-nations must strive in unison.