OPINION| BRICS Credit Rating Agency can change the international capital market

BRICS Credit Rating Agency can change the dynamics of the global capital market. The global capital market is dominated by the top three credit rating agencies – S&P, Moody’s and Fitch. Emerging economies have had problems with Western credit rating agencies ‘politically biased’ decisions. The rating agency will further reduce the dependency of developing countries on the verdicts of the big three.

The bloc has grown at an increased rate over the past years. The grouping has successfully established a multilateral development bank, the New Development Bank (NDB) which has since its establishment in 2014 funded 27 projects in member states and has US$ 6.7 billion in lending amount.

India’s Economic Affairs Secretary, Subhash Chandra Garg during the first BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, in April 2018 urged members of the bloc to set up an independent rating agency of the five-member group. The BRICS rating agency was proposed during the 7th annual diplomatic Summit in the Russian city, Ufa in Bashkortostan. The proposal was affirmed during the 8th Summit in Xiamen.

Former Indian union commerce and home secretary G K Pillai had said earlier in 2012, that the control of intelligence in the world was biased and the bloc needed to set up its credit rating.

According to India having an independent agency would remedy impediments caused current and dominant rating agencies such as S&P, Moody’s and Fitch. These three western rating agencies hold over 90% of the sovereign rating market.

The BRICS Business Council Financial Services Working Group assessed the sustainability of establishing an independent credit rating agency in December 2016. In the global investor survey undertaken by the Russian chapter across 24 countries in 2016, 73% supported the idea of a BRICS Rating Agency, as reported by IOL.

Financial services company, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) has ascribed an ‘AA+’ long-term and ‘A-1+’ short-term issuer credit ratings on the New Development Bank (NDB) in 2018.

READ MORE:S&P rates Brics New Development Bank AA+



By: Kgothatso Nkanyane

NDB and FAO co-host Workshop on Development Impact and SDGs

The New Development Bank (NDB) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) co-hosted a workshop on Development Impact and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focused on the sectors of Irrigation, Water Resource Management & Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) on 20-21 February 2019 in Shanghai.

In the spirit of SDG 17, the workshop sought to share technical knowledge among a range of development actors on how to better integrate the SDGs into the design and implementation of infrastructure and sustainable development projects related to water. Among the participants were government representatives from BRICS countries, specialized United Nations (UN) Agencies and programmes (FAO, UNDP, UN-Water), multilateral development banks (ADB, AIIB, NDB) and national financial institutions (BNDES, CDB, DBSA), in addition to think-tanks and sector experts (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IMWI).

The workshop initiated a community of practice that will continue working on the links of investments in the water sector and their contribution to the achievement of SDG 6 and SDG 17.



Minister Sisulu to host her French counterpart in Pretoria

On Thursday, 28 February 2019 The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, will co-chair the Eighth Session of the South Africa-France Forum for Political Dialogue (FPD) with the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Pretoria.

This is the first time that the Forum will be led at Ministerial level following the decision taken during former President Jacob Zuma’s State Visit to France in 2016 to elevate the Forum from Directors-General to Ministerial level, so as to award the growing relationship between the two nations greater political impetus.

The two Ministers will sign a number of agreements and host a joint press briefing at the conclusion of the FPD. The meeting take place at DIRCO Conference Centre, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria



Russia, India and China Foreign Ministers express concerns of protectionism

Image: Sputnik/Ramil Sitdikov

Russia, India and China Foreign Ministers expressed their concerns about protectionism. They are concerned about the outbreak of trade wars and increased protectionism in world trade, Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister said during a joint press meeting with his India, Chiana counterparts on Wednesday. 

Russia, India, and China (RIC) Foreign Ministers are meeting for the 16th RIC Foreign Ministers meeting held today, 27 February in Wuzhen, China. The Ministers are expected to exchange views on the global situation, regional developments of common concern, address global challenges such as terrorism and discuss trilateral exchanges and activities.

“We expressed concern over the continuing dangerous imbalance of the multilateral trading system, strengthening of protectionist measures, an outbreak of trade wars, expansion of illegitimate unilateral economic sanctions practice in circumvention of the UN Security Council,” as reported by Tass.


Source: Tass.com

NDB put down sucessfully $ 448 million of RMB-denominated bonds in the China Inter-bank Bond Market

The New Development Bank (NDB) put down successfully $ 448 million of RMB-denominated bonds in the China Interbank Bond Market on Monday. The NDB is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa) states.

The NDB placed two positions with maturities of 3 years (2 billion yuan) and 5 years (1 billion yuan) and was priced at the lower end of the announced pricing range with coupon rates of 3 percent and 3.32 percent respectively.

“The NDB successfully raised 3 billion yuan at very attractive price levels, which marks another formidable milestone for the bank. Pricing of the bond is a good reflection of the NDB’s high credit quality,” said Leslie Maasdorp, NDB VP & CFO, “In line with the NDB’s General Strategy, the bank intends to become a regular issuer in local currency markets of its member countries. The bank is currently awaiting regulatory approvals to issue local currency debt in a number of markets of its member countries.” – reported China.org.cn.


Source: China.org.cn

Donald Trump extends tariff truce deadline with China

Stock market shares increased as US President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that trade talks with China were going well. Trump said he will delay the next round of trade tariffs on China. The US President further said he was going to host another summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Florida to sign an agreement.

Trump tweeted more on the progress that was being made with agreement on intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, and currency. New deadline date for the tariff truce was set to 1 March. The US president will also be having another Summit with North Korea leader 27-28 February in Vietnam.

If talks are successful then the US and China should come to an agreement in which previous dispute is settled and prevent a further 25% increase on tariffs. An agreement will alleviate the suffering of many US farmers and allow for China to do business with the US again which will be positive for the global economy.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

India’s air strikes kill hundreds of terrorist in Pakistan near border

India launched air strikes on the Kashmir side of the Pakistan border. Reason being the increasing terrorist attacks in the region. This is the first time India has launched an attack in the region in years.

The strikes are very worrying for peace and stability between Pakistan and India as both countries have nuclear weapons and are long-standing enemies. This does look like a calculated measure by the Indian air force that strike would not alarm the Pakistani military into a response.

The India government did confirm the strike has occurred but gave no further detail. However, it is believed the strike hit a terrorist campsite in the Kashmir region, no casualties or damages were reported.

Source: bloomberg.com

Renewable energy programme attracts R209.4 billion to SA economy

The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) is making a significant impact on the economy, job creation, community upliftment, economic transformation, and climate change.

The REIPPP is a competitive tender process that has been designed to facilitate private sector investment into grid-connected renewable energy generation.

In a short, 8-year period it has attracted R209.4 billion in committed private sector investment, resulting in much-needed alleviation of fiscal pressure.
South African entities such as Old Mutual, Red Cap, Phakwe, Pele Green, and many others, including the Central Energy Fund and the PIC, account for the majority of investment into the REIPPPP.

Renewable IPPs have created 38 701 jobs years for youth and women from the surrounding communities.

“This means 38 701 people have had a full-time job for one year,” Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said at a media briefing in Pretoria on Sunday.
The minister said local communities have benefited from over R1 billion spent by IPPs on education by upskilling teachers, providing extra teachers and classrooms, as well as awarding over 600 bursaries to students from disadvantaged communities.

In the health sector, the programme has provided health facilities while contributing to social development through feeding schemes, supporting old age homes and early childhood development.

Furthermore, it has helped to establish more than 1000 small enterprises.
With regards to the Black South African equity shareholding in the REIPP programme, it has progressively increased with each bidding round.

Radebe said the South African equity shareholding across Bid Window 1 to Bid Window 4 and Smalls Bid Windows 1 and 2 equates to 52% – R31.4 billion- of the total equity of R60.9 billion. This is substantially more than the 40% requirement.

Black South African companies such as Thebe, Kagiso/Tiso, Royal Bafokeng, H1, Halusani, Reatile, Phakwe – on average – have 33% of the projects that have reached financial close.

Broad-based black participation is also secured across the value chain through community participation, including in engineering, procurement, construction, operations and maintenance contractors where black ownership amounts to 21%.

Local community ownership is structured through the establishment of community trusts.

Qualifying communities will receive R27.1 billion net income through the dividends from their shareholding over the 20-year life of these committed projects.

For the consumers, the programme ensures that they pay a fixed number escalated by CPI per annum or less for the duration of the contract.
With regards to the environment, the REIPP programme’s contribution has meant that South Africa’s carbon emission is reduced by about 33.2 million tonnes (Mton) carbon dioxide (CO2) and water savings of 39.2 million kilolitres achieved by 31 December 2018.

“I acknowledge the programme is not perfect and can be improved in specific areas. However, we need to embrace that the programme that has done so much for the country and has received an international acknowledgment,” Radebe said.

He said energy is central to the economy and an enabler in ensuring human rights in respect of access to food and water.

With techno-economic shifts transitioning to the energy sector, the minister said the programme holds further exciting opportunities for growth.
“The energy sector is at the cusp of an exciting period, reminiscent of the huge changes brought about by rapid technological advancement in the mobile telephony industry in recent years.

“We need to be prepared for the disruptive times that the fourth industrial revolution will bring and adjust in a responsible way,” the minister said.
The centralized power generation plants will disappear and replaced by distributed generation, mini-grids and batteries, he said adding that the country must ensure that youth embraces the new technologies and move with the changing times.

Renewable energy generation plants, complimentary hybrid technologies such as storage and the associated industrial value-chain activities will support the creation of jobs and better employment prospects.

To achieve prosperity for all, Radebe concluded that government and all stakeholders involved have to take hands and become a driving force for transformation and change.

– SAnews.gov.za

Preparations for the Russia-Africa summit underway

Russia is preparing its re-entry into the African continent. Russia will host the first Russia-Africa summit – initiated by Russian President, Vladimir Putin during the 10th BRICS Summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the Summit will host in Russia, Sochi in October 2019.

The Russia-Africa summit will be attended by the heads of African states and representatives of Russian, African, and international business and government agencies as well as integration associations on the African continent.

Putin has already appointed the Kremlin aide as organizing chair for the summit. Tass reported on Monday that the Russian President appointed Yuri Ushakov, a Russian career diplomat.

Russia’s re-entry to Africa is not only on ideology, as was the case during the Soviet era, but also on economically beneficial for both sides. The Russia-Africa summit will highlight beneficial for dynamic business interaction, participating Russians and Africans establish closer contacts and continue cooperating in key sectors of the economy of both regions.


By: Kgothatso Nkanyane

President of India to present Gandhi Peace Prize in the national capital

President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind will present the Gandhi Peace Prize for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018 tomorrow, the 26th Feb 2019 at Darbar Hall, Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will also attend the award Ceremony to felicitate the awardees.

Gandhi Peace Prize for Social, Economic and Political transformation through Non-violence was instituted in the year 1995. The Award comprises an amount of Rs. One Crore and a Citation.

This annual award is given to individuals, associations, institutions or organizations who have worked selflessly for peace, non-violence, and amelioration of human sufferings particularly of the less-privileged section of society contributing towards social justice and harmony.

The Award is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, language, caste, creed or gender. Normally, contributions made during ten years immediately preceding the nomination are considered. Older contributions may also be considered if their significance has not become apparent recently.

Press Information Bureau Government of India Ministry of Culture