Manmohan Singh to stress on better fiscal discipline at G-20 plenary

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Toronto, June 27 (ANI): Visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is likely to call on all leaders of the Group of Twenty (G-20) attending Sunday's plenary sessions here to exercise greater fiscal discipline to rein in their respective sovereign deficits as he feels this is the only way to restore global financial health.

Dr. Singh, who is due to address the plenary in about three hours from now, has repeatedly urged industrialised nations not to over extend stimulus packages or to unilaterally impose a tax on banks as a way to neutralise the Eurozone crisis.

Apart from addressing the G-20 plenary, the Prime Minister's schedule for Sunday includes a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and a pull aside of about 15-minutes with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. He will also be interacting with other leaders on the sidelines of the summit.

The second half will see India and Canada engage in bilateral talks, during which there is a likelihood of several agreements being signed, including one on civil nuclear cooperation.

Sunday's G-20 interaction is, however, likely to be overshadowed by more protests outside the summit venue.

According to the Toronto Community Mobilization Website, a Fire Works for Prisons demonstration is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Bruce Mackey Park at Dundas and Wardell Streets.

A second protest by Autonomous Direct Actions is also expected, but no time has been revealed. The Student Christian Movement is expected to start a prayer vigil at 2 p.m. at St. James Park on King St. between Jarvis and Church Sts., where protesters are expected to walk to the barricades and remain in prayer.

The Globe and Mail and other Canadian and Toronto dailies report that so far between 300 and 412 protesters have been taken into custody, and three persons injured.

Toronto Police, however, are continuing with their efforts to identify the anarchist Black Bloc protesters who allegedly torched police cars and smashed windows of several stores in the heart of the city on Saturday.

Reports by the Toronto Sun and Toronto Star confirmed that skirmishes between riot police and protesters are still on in downtown Toronto, only hours before the G-20 summit.

Both papers said that the GO Transit rail service would remain suspended on Sunday morning until further notice.

During clean-up operations, witnesses said some pavements have been found scorched, while a few stores had anarchist graffiti across their windows. A few stores have even boarded up their windows in anticipation of further attacks.

City maintenance crews are in the process of removing the debris after over 14 hours of sometimes-violent confrontation between protesters and police officers.

However, the Toronto Transit Commission has started running streetcars.

Insofar as what the outcome of the G-20 deliberations is likely to be, there is a sense that the participating leaders are likely agree on specific targets for slashing their deficits and address the staggering debt loads they have accumulated to fend off economic collapse.

On Saturday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said fiscal consolidation would be the dominant economic theme of the summit, as this would help to "paper over sharp differences that were highlighted in recent days".

Barroso said that benchmarks proposed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week have found approval with most G-20 leaders and their top officials.

"The minimum deficit goal will probably be accepted," Barroso said Saturday.

Harper had called for attacking debt loads in several of the biggest economies without stifling the global rebound, emphasising this "balancing act" must be seriously considered if the G-20 interactions were to make any headway.

Meanwhile, a draft communique for Sunday's summit says the top industrialized and emerging nations have had good results from their efforts so far, but notes that "serious challenges remain."

G-20 leaders say the recovery is "uneven and fragile," with unemployment in many countries at unacceptable levels. The group also says work is needed to reform financial institutions.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has urged world leaders to find the correct balance between economic stimulus and deficit reduction.

He said on Saturday that Japan and some European countries need to do more to boost domestic demand rather than just trying to cut their budgets. By Ashok Dixit (ANI)

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