New Delhi: India’s trade deficit, difference between imports and exports, has widened during the past three years with as many as 25 major countries including South Korea, Japan, Germany, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Parliament was informed Wednesday. Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha that trade deficit depends upon relative fluctuations in the imports and exports of different commodities due to the global and domestic factors such as demand and supply, currency fluctuations, cost of credit, and logistics costs. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepThe increasing trade deficit in spite of positive growth of exports is mainly due to higher imports of products such as crude oil, electronic goods, iron and steel, chemicals, coke, fertilisers, and machinery, he said. These products contribute over 70 per cent share in total imports in 2018-19. Trade deficit with Korea, Japan, Germany, Iraq and Saudi Arabia increased to $12 billion, $7.9 billion, $6.25 billion, $20.58 billion and $22.9 billion, respectively, in 2018-19. The minister added that the government has taken several steps to boost India’s exports and minimise the impact of trade deficit. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsThe steps include improving ease of doing business, scheme for development of trade-related infrastructure, and scheme to mitigate disadvantage of higher cost of transportation for export. India’s overall trade deficit, including both goods and services, has increased to $103.63 billion in 2018-19 from $84.45 billion in the previous financial year. “As per Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20, the government aims to increase India’s export of merchandise and services from $465.9 billion to about $900 billion by 2019-20 and to raise India’s share in world exports (goods and services) from two per cent to 3.5 per cent,” he said.
Mr Holgate, a Cambridge graduate and former HM Treasury official, insisted he wanted to remain in post but had been forced to quit. “Despite my wish to have continued, in very challenging circumstances, to lead on the executive responsibilities of the Council, I have decided that it is better to step down from my role, once an appropriate successor has been appointed.” The council boss forced to quit over the Grenfell Tower disaster is set to receive a six-figure pay-off, The Telegraph has been told.Nicholas Holgate, who was paid £193,000-a-year as chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council, announced his resignation on Wednesday night a week after the catastrophe. Mr Paget-Brown is believed to have offered his resignation at a meeting of the council cabinet but it was rejected. One source said no senior councillor wanted to take the role on. The £150,000 a year head of the housing management company that ran Grenfell Tower is also under renewed pressure to quit after Theresa May said the first act of Kensington’s new council boss will be to “look at” how his organisation was run.In a statement, Mr Holgate accused Sajid Javid, the Cabinet minister in charge of local government, of interfering to force his dismissal.“On Tuesday 20 June, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government required the Leader of the Council to seek my resignation,” said Mr Holgate in a statement.Sources have told The Telegraph that Mr Holgate will be entitled to compensation for losing his job, understood to be equivalent to at least six months’ pay that covers his half-year notice period. That equates to about £100,000.It is not clear if Mr Holgate could attempt to bring a legal action over the alleged ministerial interference. Sharon Shoesmith who was sacked by the then Education Secretary Ed Balls over the Baby P scandal was subsequently awarded £679,452 after she successfully sued for unfair dismissal. David Lammy, the Labour MP whose friend Khadija Saye was killed in the fire, said although Mr Holgate’s resignation was welcomed, it was not enough and that Nicholas Paget-Brown, the elected Conservative leader of the council, should also quit.Mr Lammy said: “This is a circumstance in which many people should consider their position and step aside. The leader of the council should go. The political leadership has been poor and he [Paget-Brown] should go. He has lost the faith of the people on the street.” Kensington and Chelsea council has been roundly criticised for its slow response to the tragedy – it has been accused of being ‘invisible’ on the ground – while a series of official investigations, including a criminal inquiry, continue into what went wrong. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Smoke billows from Grenfell Tower Credit:AFP He added: “If I stayed in post, my presence would be a distraction.”The Justice4Grenfell campaign welcomed his resignation.Yvette Williams, a spokeswoman for the group, said: “He [Mr Holgate] wasn’t left with any alternative, I think it was the right thing for him to do, the community had been completely abandoned by the local authority.” Robert Black, the chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), which was in charge of Grenfell Tower on behalf of the council, is also under huge and renewed pressure to quit. Residents were trapped “screaming for their lives” as flames raged through the blockCredit:Eyevine Residents had repeatedly voiced their concerns that Grenfell Tower was “a disaster waiting to happen” but they were ignored.Mrs May, when pressed on the TMO, told MPs on Thursday: “The issue of the tenant management organisation… has come across loud and clear to me from my conversations with local residents. “One of the first acts of the new chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council will be to look at the tenant management organisation and any action that needs to be taken.”