High food prices may push millions of Asians into poverty: ADB

The report said the fast and persistent rise in the cost of many Asian food staples since the middle of last year, coupled with crude oil reaching a 31-month high in March, are a serious setback for the region, which has rebounded rapidly and strongly from the global economic crisis

New Delhi: Resurgent food prices, which rose by 10% on average in many regional economies in Asia this year, can push an additional 64 million people into extreme poverty, reports PTI quoting an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.

The study, titled ‘Global Food Price Inflation and Developing Asia’ finds that a 10% rise in domestic food prices could push an additional 64 million people, out of 3.3 billion people living in the continent, into extreme poverty, based on the $1.25 a day poverty line.

“For poor families in developing Asia, who already spend more than 60% of their income on food, higher food prices further reduce their ability to pay for medical care and their children’s education,” ADB chief economist Changyong Rhee said.

The report said the fast and persistent rise in the cost of many Asian food staples since the middle of last year, coupled with crude oil reaching a 31-month high in March, are a serious setback for the region, which has rebounded rapidly and strongly from the global economic crisis.

As per the report, if the global food and oil price hikes seen in early 2011 persist for the remainder of the year, economic growth in the region could be reduced by up to 1.5 percentage points.

“Left unchecked, the food crisis will badly undermine recent gains in poverty reduction made in Asia,” Mr Rhee added.

The short-term outlook looks bleak, as food prices are likely to continue with their upward trend because of factors such as production shortfalls, rising demand for food from more populous and wealthier developing countries and shrinking available agricultural land, the report said.

Other dampening factors behind the double-digit increases seen in the price of wheat, corn, sugar, edible oils, dairy products and meat include the weak US dollar, high oil prices and subsequent export bans by several key food producing nations.

Commenting on the current scenario, Mr Rhee said, “Efforts to stabilise food production should take centre stage, with greater investments in agricultural infrastructure to increase crop production and expand storage facilities, to better ensure grain produce is not wasted.”

The report further calls for enhanced market integration and the elimination of policy distortions that create hurdles in transferring food from surplus to deficit regions, besides, controlling speculative activities in food markets.

The ASEAN Integrated Food Security Framework, under which the 10-member ASEAN group of countries has agreed to establish an emergency regional rice reserve system, is a positive step in that direction, the report said.

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SC quashes levying of Airport Development Fee on passengers

The court passed the order on a petition filed by the NGO, Consumer Online Foundation, contending that the fee was illegal, as it was not approved by the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today quashed levying of Airport Development Fee (ADF) by private airport developers in Delhi and Mumbai on international and domestic passengers, reports PTI.

A bench of justices Cyriac Joseph and AK Patnaik set aside the policy of airport developers by which passengers departing from Delhi airport had to pay a fee of Rs200 for domestic flights and Rs1,300 for international flights while fliers departing from Mumbai were charged Rs100 for domestic and Rs600 for international flights.

The bench set aside the Delhi High Court's order which had upheld levying of ADF.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by the NGO, Consumer Online Foundation, contending that the fee was illegal, as it was not approved by the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA).

The NGO had pleaded that such levy can only be charged by a government body like Airport Authority of India and not private bodies such as Delhi International Airport (DIAL) and Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) that are just managing the airport.

Earlier, the Delhi High Court had in August 2009 rejected the petition of the NGO, ruling that private airport developers were free to charge ADF from passengers and that barring it would have damaging consequences for the Public Private Partnership Model.

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Silver is booming, hits all-time high

Immediate-delivery silver has jumped 5.4% to $49.79 an ounce, beating the previous peak of $49.45 in 1980, according to research company GFMS.

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