Current Affairs - December, 2018

Latest Current Affairs December, 2018 with Current Affairs, news summary on current events of National and International importance of December, 2018 for Banking, SSC, CLAT, UPSC, State PCS, IBPS, Railways and other Competitive Examinations.

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Efficiency gap in India’s power sector costs 4% of GDP: World Bank Report

The World Bank recently released a report titled ‘In the Dark: How Much Do Power Sector Distortions Cost South Asia’. As per the report, Efficiency gap in India’s power sector costs the Indian economy 4% every year, which equivalents to $86 billion in 2016FY.

Key Points of the Report:

  • The rural household’s income in India can be increased by $9.4 billion and business losses worth USD 22.7 billion can be eliminated with 24 hours access to power supply.
  • There was a shortage of 14% in India in meeting coal demand in 2016FY.
  • The average output per labour shift at Coal India’s underground mines was less than one ton in 2016FY, which is very less in contrast to 25 tonnes in the United States. Also, out of total 1o underground mines only one underground coal mine in India is mechanised.
  • As per the World Bank Report, Electricity subsidies provided by the government and inefficient power generation, transmission, and distribution of the power play a major role in power shortages.
  • In 2016, around 20% of electricity generated was lost during transmission and distribution. This rate is the highest loss rate in the world.
  • Industrial electricity tariffs become less affordable and competitive due to power subsidies from to households and farmers.
  • India provides subsidies on electricity for agriculture which has made India the world’s largest user of groundwater. The consumption of groundwater has increased by 700% from 1950 to 2014.

Recommendations in the report:

  • The report recommends reforms in the electricity sector to restore market pricing and improve efficiency. This will complement traditional investments to increase power supply and expand access to reliable electricity.
  • Reliable access to electricity will have a positive impact on Gender Equality by increasing women’s employment and girls’ study time. It will lead to lower use of kerosene lamps which would improve health and the environment.
  • Coal allocation and delivery need to be more efficient and competition in coal and electricity supply needs to be encouraged. Energy prices should be rationalised to reflect the actual cost of supply.
  • Incentives should be given for the promotion of more efficient power generation and delivery.
  • Social assistance should be provided to help people deal with higher energy prices.

India has made great progress in expanding access to power in recent years. However, many people still lack access to electricity and power shortages harm the economy and consumer well-being. India was at the 80th spot among 137 economies in the reliability of electricity supply as per the 2018 Global Competitiveness Report.

Charles Michel resigns as the Prime Minister of Belgium

Charles Michel has resigned from the post of the Prime Minister of Belgium on 19th December 2018. The resignation came as his government was under immense pressure from the opposition over his government’s support for the UN global compact on migration.

Charles Michel’s, who became the Prime Minister of Belgium in 2014, was the country’s youngest prime minister since 1841. He belongs to the francophone liberal party Mouvement Réformateur (MR). His party had earlier lost the support of their coalition partner nationalist New Flemish Alliance over his support for a UN-backed migration deal. There were many angry protests and demonstrations that took place in Brussels against this migration pact.

About UN Global Compact on Migration:

  • The negotiations for Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration started in 2016 after the influx of over one million migrants into Europe. 
  • In July 2018, all of the 193 members agreed to the UN pact on migration except the United States. But, only 164 countries formally signed the UN migration deal in Marrakech on 10th December 2018.
  • The agreement commits the signatories to improve co-operation on international migration.
  • The agreement is not legally binding on the countries signing the pact and allows them to be in charge of their own immigration policies.

The agreement stresses that all migrants should be given universal human rights. It seeks to do away with all forms of discrimination against migrants and their families.

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