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News : International Last Updated: May 21, 2014 - 12:43 PM


Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - May 21, 2014
By Finfacts Team
May 21, 2014 - 11:07 AM

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Irish Independent

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has moved to take the heat out of the controversial removal of medical cards from seriously ill children just three days ahead of the local and European elections.

The Government, which has stood by as a litany of distressing cases was made public, has now announced that the way the cards are reviewed is to change.

Ministers have also admitted that the conduct of the reviews has in some cases been insensitive.

However, there is no detail of what the U-turn will mean for the number of medical cards to be clawed back or how families’ entitlements will change.

Pressure has been growing on the Government after a series of parents went public to tell of how medical cards were suddenly taken away from their children.

The latest case highlighted in yesterday’s Irish Independent involved a child with a brain tumour who was stripped of her medical card.

MORE than half of potential home purchasers have a budget of up to €350,000 to spend, as an urgency to buy has gripped house hunters.

Three out of four people who responded to a survey said they were preparing to purchase in the next six months, despite the lack of suitable housing in urban areas. And six out of 10 want-to-be buyers have a budget of up to €350,000, the survey commissioned by AIB shows.

This is almost twice the average mortgage for a first-time buyer this year of €165,909, according to separate Irish Banking Federation figures.

The new survey shows that less than a third of the respondents have a budget of between €350,000 and €549,000.

AER LINGUS has added 25 additional flights to its schedule in an attempt to reduce the disruption to passengers caused by strike action.

The flights – which are being added the day before and the day after the planned action on May 30 – come as passengers face the threat of even more disruptive strike action heading into the busy summer holiday period.

Cabin crew will next week decide whether to hold more work stoppages following an initial strike over the June bank holiday weekend.

They will consider a range of options to escalate industrial action, including a longer strike than the 24-hour stoppage due to take place on Friday, May 30, if a row over rosters is not resolved.

UNEMPLOYMENT rates soared and wages were slashed as Ireland's economic crisis took hold, but new figures have revealed more than six out of 10 workers in Ireland's financial services sector enjoyed a pay rise during the recession.

Another 60pc of public sector employees saw their salaries rise between 2010 and 2011, along with colleagues in the information and communications sector.

The wage hikes have been uncovered by academics from NUI Maynooth, who examined new data compiled by the Central Statistics Office from P35s during 2006 to 2011.

It showed more than 75pc of people who stayed in the one job enjoyed a rise in earnings for the three years before the crash.

Irish Times

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has declined to say whether or not former minister for justice Alan Shatter should waive his €70,000 severance fee, saying: “I don’t want to kick a man when he’s down”.

Mr Shatter is entitled to accept the money because his resignation pre-dated the signing of commencement orders for legislation abolishing such payments.

Mr Varadkar this morning revealed the Government’s plan was to have it signed into law before the upcoming reshuffle.

He said it would be better for Mr Shatter to sort out the matter before the elections took place, but stressed it should be his decision. He said Mr Shatter was legally entitled to the money but given that he had voted for the legislation to abolish severance payments it would “stand to reason” he wouldn’t accept it.

A US bankruptcy official has accused property developer Seán Dunne of trying to send him on “a wild goose chase” to obtain information and documents in an investigation of his finances.

Court-appointed trustee Richard Coan has asked the Connecticut bankruptcy court to order Mr Dunne to hand over more documents and to attend another meeting of creditors, the fifth of his 14-month US bankruptcy case. He also wants to question Mr Dunne’s wife Gayle Killilea about assets and cash the developer transferred to her.

In new court filings outlining fresh legal moves against the developer and his wife, Mr Coan has requested the court’s permission to question Ms Killilea at his offices in New Haven, Connecticut, on June 18th. It would be the first time she has been questioned in her husband’s US bankruptcy case.

Martin Wolf: Surjit Bhalla, an Indian economist, has written to me that India’s is “the most momentous election in world history”. I disagree: the elections of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were more significant. But the idea is not absurd. India’s population is 1.27 billion. Soon it will overtake China as the most populous country. If the election of Narendra Modi were to transform India, it would transform the world.

It is already possible to identify at least three ways in which the election is remarkable. First, India has shown yet again the virtue of democracy: the peaceful transfer of legitimate power. That this is possible in such a vast, diverse and poor country is an inspiring political achievement.

Google is keeping a large portion of its cash outside the US so it can use as much as $30 billion for possible acquisitions, the company said in a letter to regulators.

The search engine generates about half of its revenue overseas, and it avoids paying US taxes by keeping foreign earnings abroad.

Google needs the cash for deals as competition rises overseas, according to a letter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, filed yesterday as part of a correspondence with the agency regarding disclosures.

Ireland’s fastest growing property pension fund IPUT has shelled out a further €63 million in the past week on two high-quality Dublin office blocks in the expectation that office rents will rise significantly in the coming months.

The fund has paid €50 million for Facebook’s current European headquarters at Hanover Reach in the south Dublin docklands only weeks before the social network company relocates to a substantially larger block at 4 Grand Canal Square. IPUT has also paid €13 million for a high-profile modern building at the junction of St Stephen’s Green and Hume Street.

Irish Examiner

Nama will meet its minimum debt redemption target unless there "is a further significant economic downturn in the next few years", according to a review of the agency by the Comptroller & Auditor General.

Nama was set up in 2009 to take over €74.4bn in property-related loans from the banks in return for €31.8bn in senior bonds — with 5% of the total sum in the form of junior bonds which would only be paid out in the event the agency met certain performance targets.

Nama’s main commercial objective is to redeem, at a minimum, senior debt issued to meet costs incurred by Nama over its lifetime.

“Some residual uncertainty remains about the value to the banks of the €1.6bn in Nama subordinated bonds which they received as part payment for the loans that were transferred.”

The Comptroller & Auditor General said Nama could struggle to sell the 70% of its portfolio it is scheduled to dispose of between 2014 and 2016 without a significant recovery in property values.

Europe

Euro Topics: At least 70 people have died in violent clashes in Libya since Friday. Rival militias are fighting in Benghazi and Tripoli and armed rebel forces under general Khalifa Hiftar are challenging the transitional government. The country is on the verge of civil war, commentators warn, and accuse the West of exacerbating the situation through its inactivity since the fall of Gaddafi.

Half-hearted intervention left Libya in chaos: After the Nato military intervention which toppled Gaddafi in 2011 the West should also have established peace and order in Libya, The Financial Times points out: "It was right to topple Gaddafi. He would almost certainly have plunged his country further into civil war following the uprising against his rule in Benghazi. But after he was killed, the UK, France and US failed to take the necessary measures to make Libya governable. Gaddafi's rule left behind a complete institutional wasteland. The west's determination not to put any military boots on the ground in Libya meant that a security structure could not be implanted across the country, leaving the regime's arms depots to be raided by the militias. ... But the lack of strategic vision and political follow-through have been highly damaging to the west's interests."

Europe must make a stand: Libya is facing the threat of a putsch or civil war and Europe must not simply stand idly by, the liberal-conservative Italian daily Corriere della Sera warns: "It doesn't make much sense to point to the illusion of a 'democratic transitional phase'. It's not enough that the US is entrusting Italy or another European country with the training of Libyan soldiers. ... It takes courage to make the decision. Do we want an independent Cyrenaica [in eastern Libya] or Tripoli's centralism? Are we for or against - as one would assume - the Islamists? For or against the Hafter [militia leader] of the moment? Do we want interventions that, without setting military boots in the Libyan sand, at least correct some of the mistakes made in 2011 when Gaddafi was toppled without thinking about what would come afterwards?"

European elections: Juncker or Schulz - it makes no difference: The leading candidate of the European conservatives in the European elections, Jean-Claude Juncker, visited Portugal on Sunday as part of his election campaign. The liberal Portuguese business daily Jornal de Negócios questions the idea that either he or the Social Democrat Martin Schulz will become Commission president: "There is not much separating the candidates in terms of economic strategy or EU policy. One of them will come out on top - but not through a direct vote. He will receive Angela Merkel's blessing and stick it out in an air-conditioned environment until the next financial crisis. Nonetheless Juncker came to Portugal to remind us that the Socialists can't be trusted: 'They remind me of one of your most renowned countrymen: Christopher Columbus [who was from Genua]. When they set out on their journey they don't know where they're heading. When they arrive they don't know where they are.' ... Such a silly statement reflects the cultural impoverishment of a bureaucratic Europe that fears the world's dangers, counts every penny and doesn't dare explore anything that lies off its own path."

Timothy Garton Ash appeals to Germany in the Ukraine crisis: The fate of Europe depends less on the European elections on Sunday than on the presidential elections that will take place on the same day in Ukraine, historian Timothy Garton Ash comments in the left-liberal Italian daily La Repubblica: "If Ukraine can successfully hold a democratic presidential election across most of its territory next Sunday, then there is a chance - just a chance - that it can return to a peaceful, negotiated, constitutional process. ... And who, in the mighty EU, with the world's largest economy, can make a difference there? Not the lead candidates. ... Not the European parliament. ... If there is one country in Europe that Vladimir Putin will listen to, if there is one country in Europe that can bring together the EU's potentially large economic sticks and carrots, it is Germany. German leaders have recently declared that they want to face up to the international responsibility that comes with their country's power. The chance has come sooner than they imagined, and in the most agonising way. Thus today's European politics are both mind-numbingly complex and stunningly simple. Thousands of words may not capture them, but two will also do the job: Germany's call."

Free-trade agreement is good for all: While the EU and the US resumed their negotiations for a free-trade agreement on Monday, Dutch politicians also once again voiced criticism of the plans. But their fears are exaggerated, the left-liberal Dutch daily De Volkskrant points out: "At the core of the free-trade agreement is the question of how modern economies can achieve a good balance between business and society. The EU's negotiators therefore aim to agree on rules regarding data protection, the environment and food safety. ... The rules could lead to better protection for citizens in several areas. The demanding behaviour of multinational companies could be curbed. Developing countries could also benefit. ... The major objection pertains to the impenetrable nature of the text: the fact that the precise implications of the legal texts and opinions that fill many pages are difficult to understand feed distrust regarding a trade agreement that could actually be a good thing."


© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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