Citizens' Issues
Amit Shah to launch 'Parivartan Raths' in Bihar
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah will launch the party's high tech 'Parivartan Rath' campaign for the upcoming Bihar assembly polls on July 16 here, a party leader said on Monday.
 
Shah will flag off 160 GPS-fitted raths (chariots), to reach out to people in all villages across the state, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's July 25 rally in Muzaffarpur. 
 
The party plans to hold 100,000 meetings in 100 days ahead of the assembly elections.
 
"The party has decided to use 160 high tech 'raths' (chariots) to reach out to people in villages," BJP spokesperson Vinay Narain Jha said on Monday. 
 
The BJP president, known for his poll management and innovative strategy to counter rivals, has named the high tech chariots 'Parivartan Raths' to send out a political message that "people in all 243 Bihar assembly seats want change".
 
"One high tech rath of the party will visit at least five villages in a day to hold public meeting in one day.The BJP will reach out to 800 villages across the state to counter the propaganda by the new combine of JD-U, RJD, Congress and NCP," Jha said.
 
"BJP's focus is clear to mobilise people for a change in Bihar and to free them from 'jungle raj' of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who joined hands with RJD chief Lalu Prasad," he added.
 
Leader of opposition in the Bihar assembly and senior BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav said that people have been fed with Nitish Kumar's bad governance and deteriorating law and order.
 
"BJP's raths would expose the failures of the Nitish Kumar's government," he said.
 
Yadav said that the high tech raths will also carry a video film in Hindi that would depict misrule and bad governance of the infamous 15 years of Lalu-Rabri rule in Bihar.
 
"Besides, the BJP will inform people with the help of film about total failure of Nitish Kumar government after he ended alliance with us," he said. 
 
According to party leaders, BJP is the only party that has already reached to all 62,000 polling booths in the state.
 
"The BJP has 21 workers at each polling booth.They are fully ready to take on the alliance of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad," they said

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Eurozone reaches agreement to Greece crisis
Eurozone leaders on Monday reached a "unanimous" agreement after marathon talks over a third bailout deal for Greece, European Union (EU) President Donald Tusk said.
 
He tweeted that a bailout programme was "all ready to go" for Greece, "with serious reforms and financial support", BBC reported.
 
Details of the agreement are yet to be disclosed. 
 
Eurozone leaders have been meeting in the Belgian capital of Brussels for over 16 hours.
 
Greece is expected to pass the reforms demanded by the eurozone by Wednesday.

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When Wall Street Offers Free Money, Watch Out
Bankers and new accounting rules are emboldening governments to borrow-and-bet their way out of pension problems, a strategy that’s backfired in the past
 
This story was co-published with the Washington Post.
 
If there were ever a time not to bet the moon on the stock and bond markets, it's now, with U.S. stocks at near-record highs and interest rates on quality bonds at near-record lows. But Wall Street is urging state and local governments to do just that — and they're listening.
 
Despite the risks, governments are lining up to issue billions of dollars in new debt to replenish their depleted pension funds and, as a bonus, take some pressure off strapped budgets. In some cases, the borrowing makes their balance sheets look vastly better.
 
Bankers, who make fat fees for raising the money, are encouraging this borrow-and-bet trend. Their sales pitch is that borrowing at today's low interest rates all but guarantees a profit for the governments because they can invest the proceeds in their pension funds and for decades earn returns higher than the 5 percent or so in interest that they will pay on the bonds.
 
But there's a catch: If the timing is wrong, these so-called pension obligation bonds could clobber the finances of the government issuers. Pension funds and beneficiaries will be better off because pensions will be more soundly financed. But taxpayers — present and future — might be considerably worse off. They will be running huge risks and could get stuck with a massive tab.
 
"It's sold as a magic bean," said Todd Ely, a professor at the University of Colorado at Denver who has studied pension bonds. "But when it goes bad it's not free. Then it isn't really magic. If it could be counted on to work as often as it's supposed to, then everyone would be doing it."
 
Plenty of takers are bellying up to the borrowing bar. Governments sold $670 million worth of pension bonds through the first half of this year, more than double the $300 million raised for all of last year, according to deal-trackers at Thomson Reuters.
 
That total would more than double if Kansas completes a pending $1 billion deal, which would be its biggest bond issue. A $3 billion sale is under consideration in Pennsylvania, that state's largest as well. Lawmakers recently rejected record multibillion-dollar deals in Kentucky and Colorado, but those proposals are expected to resurface. And new proposals are being pitched to other governments.
 
Pension bonds have waxed and waned since the 1980s, but the current boom is different. An examination by The Washington Post and ProPublica found that it's being driven not only by the prospect of investment profits but also by a new accounting quirk that has largely escaped public notice while morphing into a major marketing tool for Wall Street banks.
 
The quirk stems from a rule change that, ironically, was meant to force governments to more clearly disclose the health of their pension funds. But a side effect is to allow governments with extremely underfunded pensions to slash reported shortfalls by $2 or more for each $1 borrowed.
 
Here's how: If a pension plan is so poorly funded that it is projected to run out of cash, the new rules require it to make less optimistic projections about future returns. That increases the reported pension shortfall. But if governments infuse a big slug of borrowed money into the fund, they can resume using optimistic projections, and the shortfall shrinks.
 
It's like getting a new credit card, borrowing on it to pay off part of an existing loan, then having the total amount owed magically shrink by more than what is borrowed. Sounds impossible — but it's true.
 
The impact can be dramatic. In March, the town of Hamden, Conn., reduced its unfunded pension amount by about $320 million with a $125 million pension bond and promises of future payments, according to an estimate by ProPublica and The Post. The Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System said it estimates that a $3.3 billion bond issue plus payment promises could carve $9.5 billion off its unfunded liability.
 
Those figures don't reflect… Continue Reading…
 
Courtesy: ProPublica

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