China to take multi-pronged measures to keep employment stable

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China to take multi-pronged measures to keep employment stable

Xinhua

China will take robust and multi-pronged measures to ensure that employment remains stable. The government will scale up support for flexible employment, boost job opportunities for people with disabilities, and tackle the stubborn issue of wage arrears affecting migrant workers with legal means.

A host of steps was decided upon at the State Council’s executive meeting on Wednesday chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

Figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics last month showed that 11.93 million new urban jobs were created in first ten months this year, meeting the yearly target of 11 million ahead of schedule. The surveyed urban unemployment rate in October at the national level was 5.1 percent, down 0.1 percentage points over the previous month.

“We will face even greater risks and challenges next year. We must give higher priority to keeping employment stable as this is the key in ensuring that our economy does not slide out of the proper range,” Li said.

It was emphasized at the Wednesday’s meeting that local governments must fully appreciate the significance of stable employment. They are required to introduce more measures that support job creation, and promptly repeal unwarranted regulations that hinder flexible employment. More efforts will be made to catalyze business start-ups and innovation. The terms of guaranteed loans to micro and small start-ups will be eased. Jobs for the public good will be expanded in areas of weakness related to people’s lives.

The government will intensify support to businesses to keep their payrolls stable. The current policies of lowering the premiums of unemployment insurance and workplace injury compensation insurance, partial reimbursement of unemployment insurance contributions for employers who keep their payrolls, and subsidies for in-job vocational training will continue for another year.

“Employment is essential to people’s well-being. It is the wellspring of wealth and the foundation for social stability,” Li said. “Nothing big would go wrong next year if we could keep employment stable.”

The meeting required that the vocational upskilling program be fully implemented and vocational training for essential skills be enhanced. The employment safety net will be strengthened to help the unemployed living in difficulty meet their essential needs. For instance, those who have not found full-time jobs yet are no longer eligible for the allowance of flexible employment insurance will be able to stay on this benefit for another year.

To better leverage the Employment Security Fund for Disabled People to boost their employment, it was decided at the meeting to improve the fund’s collecting methods and incentivize more employers to raise the percentage of disabled people on their payrolls. The job needs of disabled people as well as vocational training and employment services will be prioritized in the use of the fund to help people with disabilities land higher quality jobs.

“We must take multi-pronged steps to keep existing jobs and add new ones, and introduce measures that boost job creation as quickly as possible. This year, thanks to the reform in transforming government functions and our mass entrepreneurship initiative, an average of nearly 20,000 businesses are newly registered every day. This has greatly eased the employment pressure,” Li said.

It was underlined at the meeting that migrant workers have made significant and unique contributions to the country’s development. They should be remunerated in full and on time for their hard work. Legal means are needed to promote the fundamental resolution of the wage arrears these people face.

Those at the Wednesday’s meeting also adopted a new regulation on ensuring wage payments to migrant workers to resolve the problem of wage arrears faced by these people with legal means.

The regulation clearly defines the primary responsibility of employers, the responsibility of local governments and the responsibility of regulatory authorities. It stipulates that wages of migrant workers must be paid in full and on time.

According to the new regulation, no construction will begin and no building permit be issued if the funding requirements of the project are not met. And a blacklist of employers who delay paying up the migrant workers will be set up.

The meeting urged local governments to take the wage arrears in government-invested projects as the top priority. Governments at all levels, state-owned enterprises and government-affiliated institutions must incur no new wage arrears under any reason.

“We must ensure that the essential needs of the unemployed people are met, and fully protect the rights of people with disabilities and migrant workers,” Li urged.

How Wealthy Countries Can Step Up Their Contribution to Fight Global Poverty

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

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How Wealthy Countries Can Step Up Their Contribution to Fight Global Poverty

Wednesday, 4 December, 2019 – 12:30
Impoverished girl | Photo: REUTERS
Ferid Belhaj
How can the wealthiest nations around the globe continue to help the world’s poorest countries? This is a question that delegates will look to address during a meeting organized by the International Development Association, or IDA, in Stockholm next week.
IDA
The role of IDA, a financial institution and a member of the World Bank Group, is to offer loans, grants and debt relief to poor countries unable to borrow on the terms offered by another arm of the World Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Its member states will gather in the Swedish capital on December 12 and 13 to set the agenda for assistance to these countries for the three-year period starting in July 2020. While countries in the Mena region, including Saudi Arabia, had contributed funds to the previous cycle, it is critical that they – and potentially others – sustain and increase their participation in this forum and support a global public good.

Many people are unaware that countries such as China, India, and South Korea were beneficiaries of IDA assistance in the past but now they have become donors giving back to the international community

This upcoming replenishment, as it is called, is indeed an opportunity for the region as a whole to make its presence felt. Beginning next year, it will be the epicenter of several global events. Saudi Arabia will host members of the G20, Egypt is the chair of the African Union and the UAE is preparing to host the region’s first World Expo. The World Bank-IMF annual meetings will take place in Marrakech in 2021. While these events are significant in their own right, a substantially higher financial contribution from Mena countries to IDA will demonstrate the region’s capacity to lead on long-term challenges such as poverty reduction, inclusive growth, and climate change.

Since its creation in 1960, IDA has become one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries and the foremost instrument to channel multilateral funding where it is needed the most and in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Over six decades, it has provided almost $400 billion for investments in over 100 countries, its support paving the way towards equality, economic growth, job creation, higher incomes and better living conditions. IDA’s work covers primary education, basic health services, clean water and sanitation, agriculture, business climate improvements, infrastructure, and institutional reforms. More recently, it has intervened to bring hope to people affected by conflict and violence.

Since 2000, it has provided more than $88 billion in financial assistance to Arab and Muslim countries. In the previous replenishment, more than 50 percent of the resources were allocated to 28 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, including Djibouti, Syria, and Yemen.

In Yemen, IDA has played a critical role in providing relief and mitigating the lasting impacts of conflict. It has helped Yemenis fight diseases and famine, helped train nearly 12,000 health personnel and immunize 6.9 million children. Through an emergency program, it has helped ensure around nine million vulnerable Yemenis have access to food and other basic necessities.

Meanwhile, the conflict in Syria continues to take a heavy toll. More than 5.6 million people are registered as refugees, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In Lebanon, where many of them live, IDA is helping the country enroll 200,000 children in public schools. In Jordan, IDA assistance is creating 100,000 jobs for Jordanian nationals and Syrian refugees.

Beyond the Mena region, IDA is a development partner for the poorest countries.

International institutions remain important for some of the most lagging regions and communities in the world. Independent assessments have documented the tremendous benefits of IDA’s support for the development of poor countries. Many people are unaware that countries such as China, India, and South Korea were beneficiaries of IDA assistance in the past but now they have become donors giving back to the international community.

Multilateral institutions deserve our utmost support because when misfortune strikes countries, the knowledge and financial resources of these institutions can save, protect and nurture lives. They can provide ideas for development strategies and funds for critical infrastructure. To eliminate extreme poverty and shared growth, they are a valuable ally for governments and citizens.

The World Bank Group is grateful for generous financial contributions from the international donor community to IDA. However, I believe that the more fortunate Mena countries can and must enhance their contribution to this agency. Its economic heft presents an opportunity for the region to take on a leadership role in this forum. It is also a wonderful opportunity to help those in need, which is fully in line with the region’s rich history of generosity towards the less fortunate.

Ferid Belhaj is World Bank regional vice president for Mena

Brazil: GDP in the Dilma era, attacked by the corporate press, was much higher than under Bolsonaro

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

GDP in the Dilma era, attacked by the corporate press, was much higher than under Bolsonaro

By way of comparison, in 2011, also the first year of Dilma Rousseff’s (PT) government, the press made her a hell of a 2.7% “little guy” in those boom times. Four years after the coup, media celebrates Jair Bolsonaro’s 0.6% expansion

 

By Esmael Morais, in his blog – If GDP size is document, then President Jair Bolsonaro is chipped. He had a little 0.6% in the quarter. By 2019, if all goes well, it will reach 1.2%, according to the IBGE.

By way of comparison, in 2011, also the first year of Dilma Rousseff’s (PT) government, the press made her a hell of a 2.7% “little guy” in those boom times.

Note the dear reader that, using the calculator, the petista’s GDP was 4.5 times higher than the captain’s little pen.

Still souring rice, the Financial Times newspaper suspects Bolsonaro has overpriced its small size to impress the financial market.

According to the TF, the Brazilian government statistics are not reliable because they are especially flawed in exports.

That’s right: FRAUD!

Bolsonaro’s chip may be even lower than the 0.6% celebrated by Rede Globo in recent days, whose numbers were unmasked here firsthand.

Lying the size of the little guy is ugly, it’s fraud, Mr. President Jair Bolsonaro.

Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

Xinhua
Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

Xinhua

The Heihe section of the east-route natural gas pipeline.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had a video call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Monday afternoon, as the two heads of state jointly witnessed the launching ceremony of the China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline.

“East-route natural gas pipeline is a landmark project of China-Russia energy cooperation and a paradigm of deep convergence of both countries’ interests and win-win cooperation,” Xi told Putin via the video call in Beijing.

He congratulated the launch of the pipeline and expressed appreciation to the construction teams from both countries.

The east-route natural gas pipeline began providing China with Russian natural gas, which is scheduled to reach 5 billion cubic meters in 2020 and increase to 38 billion cubic meters annually from 2024, under a 30-year contract signed between the China National Petroleum Corp and Russian gas giant Gazprom in May 2014.

Speaking highly of the arduous efforts Chinese and Russian builders and companies have made in frozen and snow-covered land in the past five years, Xi said they have shown to the world their consummate skills and the fruitful results of China-Russia cooperation.

Xi and Putin witnessed the signing of the pipeline agreements in 2014 in Shanghai.

The launch of the pipeline is not only an important result at the current stage but also a new start for future cooperation, Xi said.

He called on both countries to make the pipeline a safe and green pipeline of development and friendship, ensure the safe operation of the pipeline and boost the sustainable development of the regions along the line.

Xi, Putin witness launching ceremony of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping has a video call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Beijing to witness the launching ceremony of the China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline, December 2, 2019.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia. Xi and Putin announced in June in Moscow to lift bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era.

Stressing that he and Putin agreed to continue putting bilateral ties as a priority of each other’s foreign relations and enhancing strategic coordination and cooperation, Xi called on both countries to redouble their efforts to initiate more key projects like the east-route natural gas pipeline, to boost both countries’ development and better benefit both peoples.

Putin, who made the video call from the Russian city of Sochi, said it is of great historic significance that the east-route natural gas pipeline was launched on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Russia-China diplomatic ties.

The launch has lifted bilateral strategic coordination to a new level, said Putin.

Hailing the five-year toil of construction teams from both countries on the project under extreme weather and the completion on schedule, Putin said Russia will provide 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas to China in the next 30 years.

This is conducive to the realization of a Russia-China trade volume of 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2024, Putin said.

Russia stands ready to work with China to ensure the smooth implementation of the landmark strategic project, he said.

During the video call, China and Russia representatives at northeast China’s Heihe station and Russia’s Atamanskaya compressor station and Chayandin gas field reported in turn to the two presidents that they were ready to receive or provide natural gas. Xi and Putin then gave the go-ahead to the teams.

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng attended the ceremony in Beijing.

The cross-border gas pipeline has a 3,000-km section in Russia and a 5,111-km stretch in China.

Falling oil prices may be misreading a tenuous situation in Iraq

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC)

 

Falling oil prices may be misreading a tenuous situation in Iraq

KEY POINTS
  • Oil drops on Friday, triggered in part by the resignation of Iraq’s prime minister, a move that some traders believe could calm protests in the country.
  • But analysts say the situation is not resolved, since protesters are aiming their ire at Iran and Iran is unlikely to want to reduce its influence in the country.
  • Oil is also moving on technical factors and is reacting to uncertainty in both U.S.-China trade talks and around the outcome of OPEC’s meeting with Russia next week.
RT: Iraq protests 191126
Boys run past burning tires set up by Iraqi protesters during ongoing anti-government protests in Najaf, Iraq, November 26.
Alaa al-Marjani | Reuters

The resignation of Iraq’s prime minister helped trigger a drop in oil prices, but analysts say that may not be the right response by investors, as Iraq’s future may have just become even more uncertain.

Iraq is the second-largest oil producer in OPEC, with output nearing 5 million barrels a day, and analysts had said that anti-government protests in the country could ultimately impact oil exports if they continued.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi announced his resignation Friday after the country’s top cleric criticized the government following a deadly day of protests. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged Iraq’s Parliament to stop the country from “sliding into chaos, violence and destruction,” according to news reports.

VIDEO05:04
The oil market may have to deal with oversupply in 2020, analyst says

Oil fell in U.S. trading after the development but was also impacted by negative sentiment around trade talks and OPEC.

West Texas Intermediate futures were down 4.3% at $55.61 per barrel in midday trading. Brent futures were off 2.2% at $62.49 per barrel.

“It’s falling because the protesters got what they wanted,” said John Kilduff, partner with Again Capital. He said investors may now think the potential for disruption of Iraq oil exports has abated.

“Let’s see how the market reacts to this development. Scores were killed over the weekend,” he said.

Helima Croft, head of global commodities strategy at RBC, said the situation in Iraq now risks getting worse. “I think this is maybe far from over,” she said. “They are trading on a headline because they believe the Middle East is becoming more tranquil, not realizing that the battle for the future of Iraq is entering a more dangerous phase potentially.”

Protesters have focused on Iran’s influence in the country, which has water shortages, power outages and a high level of unemployment.

“There’s a sense the oil dividend is not being used to produce any economic dividend,” Croft said.

Croft said Abdul-Mahdi was expendable because he was not tied to any party, and the question now is when will elections take place.

“He was a consensus pick. What has to be a concern to Iran is that these Shiite protesters in Iraq have turned their rage on Iran,” said Croft.

Kilduff said the protests are another challenge to Iran in the region, at a time when its regime is also being challenged by violent protests in its own country. “That’s a key development, that the ire of the protesters is directed toward Iran,” he said.

As oil was being hit hard Friday, the outlook for the trade dispute between the U.S. and China looked more uncertain. The talks are expected to continue, but the potential for a deal became murkier after President Donald Trump signed a bill supporting protesters Wednesday, and Beijing responded negatively in return.

There are also doubts surfacing about OPEC’s meeting next week, with Russia potentially seeking to have its condensates exempted from the production quotas. News reports quoted unnamed sources saying Saudi Arabia does not want to shoulder a bigger percentage of the cuts.

“The OPEC meeting is looking more bearish by the day,” Kilduff said, noting that oil was also moving on technical factors. “The meeting looks like it might be going off the rails.” West Texas Intermediate futures slid just under the 50-day moving average at $55.62 per barrel.

Iraq is now the fourth government to fall, following Lebanon, Algeria and Sudan.

“Oil’s a totally broken barometer. The fact we’ve had multiple governments falling in the region does not mean the region is becoming more placid,” Croft said.

The One Main Reason Legal Pot Sales Are Lacking: Greed/Price

The One Main Reason Legal Pot Sales Are Lacking: Greed/Price

(A commentary by OldPoet56)

 

I have been reading articles the past couple of days in main stream media that marijuana sales in California are in big trouble financially and the legal companies are complaining to the state about their hardships. Folks I knew that this issue would arise back when the vote was made to make it legal. I am no rocket scientist and I know that by no means was I the only one to see this coming issue. The only reason this is happening is the price of the product, the greed of the “legal” corporations and the greed of the politicians. Greed from the politicians in the form of tax revenue on the product. Greed on the side of the “legal” Corporations by pricing the product way out of the reach of the very people who voted to make it legal in the first place. Most people who want or need the product cannot afford the “legal” price. The price on ‘the street’ is already to high for most everyday working or disabled people to afford. The price of the ‘legal’ product is many times higher that the street price. In many cases the price of one ounce of legal marijuana in a store is higher than the price of an ounce of gold. If people cannot afford to buy the legal product and they are financially forced to buy it off of the street then the state gets no tax revenue from the sales. When a legal growers store wants $500-2,000 per ounce there are very few people who can afford it at all, if they are going to buy it they will buy if off of a street vendor for $150-350 per ounce. Even these street vendors prices are to high for the average person to buy any of it. If a person is working a job for $12 per hour, after taxes it would take most all of their pay check just to buy one ounce per week, and that is at street prices. A huge amount of regular working people could easily spend their whole months earnings on one ounce of “legal” weed. People cannot afford the product, this is THE reason that sales figures are way down from what was expected by the corporations and the politicians, it is not rocket science, it is an issue of cost, of GREED!

 

China: 2020 launch for Shanghai-Deutsche Stock Connect

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

2020 launch for Shanghai-Deutsche Stock Connect

Preparations for a Shanghai-Deutsche Stock Connect program is well under way.

The new scheme linking the Shanghai and Frankfurt stock exchanges will be launched in 2020 with the China Europe International Exchange (CEINEX) currently in charge of its establishment.

The scheme will promote German listed blue-chip companies to issue Chinese depositary receipts on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and support certain qualified Chinese listed companies, especially those in the manufacturing sector, to issue global depositary receipts on the Frankfurt bourse in order to strengthen the interconnection between Chinese and German stock markets, according to CEINEX.

“In the next step, through the issuance of depository receipts, CEINEX will make efforts to build closer links between the capital markets and the real economy in China and Germany,” Chen Han, Co-Chief Executive Officer of CEINEX.

The CEINEX is a joint venture established in 2015 by the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Deutsche Börse Group, and China Financial Futures Exchange. It is the first dedicated trading venue for investment products related to China and the yuan outside the Chinese mainland.

The stock connect program, which first launched five years ago with a pilot project linking Shanghai with Hong Kong, has been a success in China’s progress in opening up the mainland’s equity market to overseas capital.

The program has led to sustained growth in two-way capital flow, as it enabled offshore capital to invest in the mainland market and also give a way for Chinese investors to reach overseas markets.

Data showed that by the end of October, the total cumulative northbound (to the mainland) trading turnover on stock connect was 17.41 trillion yuan (about US$2.48 trillion), bringing net capital inflows of 860 billion yuan into the A-share market.

Meanwhile, total cumulative southbound (to Hong Kong) trading turnover reached HK$8.75 trillion (about US$1.12 trillion) over the past five years, bringing net capital inflows of HK$987 billion into the Hong Kong market, according to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.

Amazon Paid No Federal Income Taxes In 2018!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SNOPES NEWS)

 

Did Amazon Pay No Federal Income Taxes in 2018?

SEC filing: “We have tax benefits … that are being utilized to reduce our U.S. taxable income.”

  • PUBLISHED 19 NOVEMBER 2019
  • UPDATED 20 NOVEMBER 2019

Claim

Amazon paid zero dollars in federal income tax in 2018.

Rating

Origin

A frequent political talking point — when issues of tax law and corporate governance are concerned — is the lack of income taxes Amazon pays to the federal government. In 2018, Snopes rated “True” the claim that the online retailer had paid no such taxes in the 2017 tax year. Readers raised the same question for the 2018 tax year, and once again our rating is “True.”

Though Amazon’s actual U.S. tax filings are not public, a broad overview of their overall tax burden can be found in their SEC 10-K filing. In 2018, the company made over $200 billion in sales, but paid no money to the U.S. government in the form of income tax (in fact, the government actually owed the company some $129 million as noted in parentheses in the chart below):

However, the company did pay taxes abroad and at the state level: “Amazon pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the U.S. and every country where we operate, including paying $2.6 billion in corporate tax and reporting $3.4 billion in tax expense over the last three years,” an Amazon spokesperson told Yahoo Finance in February 2019.

As we discussed in our previous Amazon tax fact check, the methods employed to make that extremely reduced tax burden a reality are only vaguely described by the company, but the process involves taking as many tax credits as possible under the law. “We have tax benefits relating to excess stock-based compensation deductions and accelerated depreciation deductions that are being utilized to reduce our U.S. taxable income,” the company wrote in their SEC filing.

Stock-based compensation refers to the fact that publicly traded corporations, like Amazon, can list the stock options they grant to employees as a business cost in their accounting, and if an option-receiving employee makes over $1 million a year in salary, the profits from the sale of those stocks can then be counted as a federal income tax deduction for the corporation.

With respect to the other tax credits or deductions? “It’s hard to know exactly what they’re doing,” Steve Wamhoff, director of federal tax policy for the non-partisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, told Yahoo. “Their public documents … don’t lay out their tax strategy. So it’s unclear exactly which breaks [Amazon is taking advantage of].”

Regardless, it is factually true that Amazon paid nothing in federal income tax in 2018.

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Iran: Petrol rationing and price hikes take Iranians by surprise

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS)

 

Petrol rationing and price hikes take Iranians by surprise

Drivers in Iran were caught off-guard by snap plan that includes a steep increase in the cost of motor fuel.

by

Iranians queued at petrol stations after fuel rationing and price hikes were announced [File: Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA/Reuters]
Iranians queued at petrol stations after fuel rationing and price hikes were announced [File: Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA/Reuters]

Tehran, Iran  When 37-year-old apparel retailer Farshad was getting ready to go to sleep just after midnight on Friday, his phone alerts suddenly blew up with social media posts reacting to a government policy that many figured was in the pipeline, but that had still struck without warning.

The government in Iran had announced that – effective immediately – petrol would be rationed and prices would triple.

“I guess we all knew this was happening one way or another, since the government has been reintroducing fuel cards for rationing,” said Farshad, who asked Al Jazeera to withhold his surname to protect his privacy. “But a midnight announcement and this price hike came out of nowhere.”

In the early hours of Friday morning, Iranian state television broad cast a statement by the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company saying petrol will now be rationed across the country using smart fuel cards.

Vehicles for private use are to be restricted to 60 litres (16gal) of fuel monthly, while the price of petrol will jump 50 percent to 15,000 Iranian rials ($0.13 at open market rates) per litre. Any fuel purchases in excess of allotted rations will incur an additional charge of 30,000 rials ($0.26) per litre.

‘We’re all drowning’

In early May, after hardline Iranian news websites reported that fuel rationing was imminent, long queues formed at petrol stations all over the country.

Friday’s news was not telegraphed in advance, but people still started queueing at petrol stations. Though the price hike was immediate, any unused monthly ration quotas can be saved for up to six months.

Petrol in Iran – the world’s number five oil producer – is cheaper than in most countries. That could bolster justifications for a price hike, given the beating that Iran’s budget has sustained since the administration of United States President Donald Trump started applying its “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions on Iran over a year ago.

Still, as many Iranians pointed out on social media, average incomes are too low to comfortably absorb the fuel price hike.

“I wish economic austerity wasn’t only for average people. That way this would hurt less,” wrote a journalist on her Instagram account. “We’re all drowning, it’s only a matter of time.”

Iranians, especially those getting by on low- and middle-income wages, have taken a massive hit due to a currency crisis and an inflationary wave that formed on the back of US sanctions imposed after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

‘At the expense of the people’

The government of President Hassan Rouhani has tried to reassure the general public that the initiative is meant to help improve peoples’ quality of life.

Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, head of the Plan and Budget Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran, announced that the revenues from the initiative will be distributed among 18 million households – about 60 million people – in the form of monthly cash handouts.

A family of five or more will receive 2.05 million rials (around $18). This is separate from the 445,000 rials ($3.90) that each household member is eligible to receive under Iran’s long-running monthly state cash subsidies plan.

According to the Rouhani administration, not a single rial yielded from the rationing initiative will go to government coffers.

“The government is doing it differently this time, but it still feels like they’re trying to make up for their deficits at the expense of the people,” said Saeed, a 48-year-old architect who asked Al Jazeera to withhold his surname.

“And whenever gasoline prices go up, prices of other goods go up, too, so I doubt the cash handouts will be able to make up for it,” he told Al Jazeera.

‘Can afford less fuel’

The populist administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007 rationed gasoline and increased prices, but that move failed to curb rampant fuel smuggling or decrease consumption.

Some Iranians on social media have pointed to the irony of a 2015 tweet by President Rouhani, in which he said, “Gasoline offered at two prices created corruption, so we unified the prices”.

Iran has some of the largest energy reserves in the world, but due to limited refining capacity – and sanctions that limited the supply of spare parts for plant maintenance – it has for years faced an uphill battle in meeting its domestic fuel needs.

Despite the public dissatisfaction and anger, some Iranians still hold out hope that a silver lining may emerge from the rationing scheme if fewer people are driving. Tehran has been battling smog and air pollution for the past week that led to the closure of schools.

“People are under so much pressure,” said 27-year-old Tehran resident Anahid, who asked that his surname be withheld. “But there’s no denying this pollution and traffic either, so maybe more people will turn to public transport if they literally can afford less fuel.”

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

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China lifts restrictions on US poultry imports

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

China lifts restrictions on US poultry imports

Xinhua

China has lifted restrictions on the import of poultry products from the United States, according to a joint statement of the General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Thursday.

In a bid to ward off the flu epidemic and protect China’s poultry production, China banned the import of poultry and related products from the United States after avian influenza outbreaks occurred in some parts of the United States in 2013 and 2014.

The United States actively took preventive and control measures afterward, and no new cases have been reported in the United States since March 2017. The United States submitted a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to close the event in August 2017.

At the invitation of the US side, a Chinese team of experts visited the United States in July 2017 to conduct a field assessment of avian influenza prevention and control systems and poultry meat surveillance measures.

In May 2018, China and the United States held consultations on this issue. After a comprehensive assessment, China believes that the avian flu epidemic in the United States has been effectively controlled, and the country’s poultry meat regulatory system meets the requirements of relevant laws and regulations in China.

The poultry industry in the United States is relatively developed, with its poultry output ranking first in the world, said officials with the General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

After lifting the restrictions on US poultry products, China’s poultry import source will be further expanded so as to meet market demands effectively, the officials said.