• India would be taking over the Group of Twenty (G20) presidency at a time when there are so many challenges.
  • Speaking to reporters on Saturday night, towards the end of her visit to Washington for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings, Ms. Sitharaman said that the current G20 President, Indonesia, had been through “a very difficult year” in the context of the geopolitical tensions.
  • This had resulted in the G20, which met in Washington this past week, not agreeing to a joint communique. Indonesia had, instead, issued a “G20 Chair’s Summary”.
  • Indonesia had done its best and “remained calm” while trying to bring the group together.
  • So we will also be taking the presidentship at a time when there are so many challenges. So we’ll have to work together with the membership to see how best we can navigate this whole thing,”

A lot more nimble

  • The Common Framework, a 2020 G20 initiative for debt sustainability, was not performing as much as expected and had “inherent handicaps.
  • And there is a collective agreement that we have to make it a lot more nimble, so that countries can, you know, be ready to take it up.
  • Only a few countries were interested in subscribing to debt restructuring via the Common Framework, and that too these were from the pre-COVID era, while the number of countries with vulnerabilities had grown post-COVID.
  • “And therefore, this issue of the Common Framework itself having to be tweaked or fine-tuned is an issue on which most countries agreed.
  • On the G20 Chair’s Summary, the Minister said India’s positions were factored in, such as dropping references on private finance in the climate finance context, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) initiatives on tracking countries’ carbon mitigation progress, while including a reference to Multilateral Development Banks (MDB) reviewing G20 recommendations on the MDBs’ Capital Adequacy Framework.

‘ED is independent’

  • Asked about the perception that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax Department “go after” sections of civil society and private capital insisted that the ED was “completely independent”.
  • Think tanks such as the Centre for Policy Research, the Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation, and Oxfam India have recently been the subject of searches by authorities, and the government has been accused of weaponising institutions against detractors and critics.
  • “Well, ED is completely independent in what it does and it is an agency which follows on predicate offences.
  • The first offence is already picked up by any other agency, whether it is a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) or any other agency.
  • “But certainly, there are instances which are so standing out and if the ED goes there, it is with some prima facie evidence in its hand.
  • However, responding to a question on her assessment of the rupee sliding, Ms. Sitharaman later said, “First of all, I would look at it not as ‘rupee sliding’, I would look at it as dollar strengthening; dollar strengthening incessantly.”
  • The INR had performed much better than many other emerging market currencies (against the U.S. dollar) and that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was involved in ensuring there was “not too much volatility”, and was not trying to intervene in the market to fix the value of the rupee.
  • “Containing the volatility is the only exercise that RBI is involved in. And I’ve said this before — the rupee will find its own level 


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