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News : International Last Updated: May 22, 2014 - 2:26 PM


Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - May 22, 2014
By Finfacts Team
May 22, 2014 - 9:26 AM

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Irish Independent

FORMER Anglo Irish Bank boss David Drumm failed to include some details of $1.2m (€870,000) in cash transferred to his wife Lorraine before he sought a US bankruptcy because he "forgot", a court heard.

He also said he forgot to include a €6,000 loan made to his brother days before he signed official papers in the US in December 2010, declaring he had not made loans to family members.

Mr Drumm denied trying to conceal the loan as he appeared in a Boston court, where his entitlement to bankruptcy is being challenged by IBRC and the court-appointed trustee.

But he did concede that he lied on a US mortgage application – used to buy a $2m (€1.4m) home in the upmarket Boston suburb of Wellesley.

He signed the papers without declaring that he was being sued at the time, something explicitly asked in the forms.

IRISH households pay among the highest prices in Europe for electricity as bills here rose twice as much as the rest of the continent last year.

A new Eurostat report shows that Ireland has the fourth most expensive electricity in the EU and the price rose by 5.1pc in the second half of 2013 compared with just 2.8pc across Europe.

Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 Irish homes had their electricity cut off in March because of failure to pay the bills, the latest figures from the Energy Regulator show.

Some 971 homes had their electricity cut off and 479 had their gas cut off once the winter moratorium on disconnections ended, although up to 40pc of those homes might be vacant, the regulator said.

Consumers in Ireland pay €24.10 per 100 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity which is 20pc higher than the EU average of €20.10.

Brendan Keenan: THE Cabinet's Praetorian Guard. That was the description of Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte in a recent interview in the 'Sunday Independent'.

The Praetorian Guard, of course, were responsible for protecting the Roman emperor. But they had an unfortunate reputation for doing away with their charge if they thought he wasn't up to the job.

Mr Rabbitte perhaps is better likened to a Roman Consul; sent out to do battle when the barbarians are at the gates. On the other hand, some on his own side may have detected, in that interview, the sound of a sword being loosed in its scabbard.

But enough of the classical metaphors. What we can say is that Mr Rabbitte has had a key role in maintaining relations between the coalition partners. He keeps in close touch with Finance Minister Michael Noonan. His comments on budgetary strategy are therefore worthy of note.

IRELAND has moved two notches up the global competitiveness rankings and holds a better ranking than some major European countries.

The USA and Switzerland topped the list, but Singapore knocked Hong Kong off the third place slot, according to the World Competitiveness Yearbook compiled by the Swiss business school IMD.

Ireland ranked 15th, up from 17th place last year, and the 24th position recorded in 2011, but we're still behind the 10th spot we had in 1997.

Anne-France Borgeaud, senior economist and head of WCC operations, told the Irish Independent that the perception of this country is much more positive than during last year.

Irish Times

Eurozone marriage breakup would be ‘carnage’, says Martin Wolf: Honeymoon period long gone for Ireland, so time to increase political integration.

The talk given yesterday at the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin by Financial Times commentator Martin Wolf was a sobering enough affair.

Using the idea of a marriage, the veteran economics commentator said that once it was decided, after the emergence of the crisis, that even a partial breakup of the euro zone would involve “carnage”, it was clear that this was a marriage from which there would be no exit.

This, he said, has enormous consequences. Because the crisis has been interpreted as a fiscal rather than a financial crisis, the creditor countries within the monetary union had their view that it had nothing to do with them reinforced.

Flyers with sensitive ears rejoice, Ryanair is to change its on-time landing trumpet jingle on all flights. The move comes after it surveyed passengers on Twitter to see if the post-flight music was much-loved or much-maligned.

The airline said the “famous on-time bugle” was one of the aspects of the experience it was looking at as part if a series of enhancements of customer experience.

“We asked our followers on Twitter to vote on whether we should change it. The people have spoken and after hundreds of votes, they’ve voted for change, so we’re looking forward to unveiling our next customer improvement soon,” Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely said in a statement. It is not yet clear when the bugle will be turned off or what sound, if any, will replace it.

Clashes between party leaders over the economy dominated the final stages of the election campaign yesterday, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny calling on voters to reject policies that would jeopardise economic recovery.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin attacked Sinn Féin for copying Labour’s “unrealistic general election promises”, while Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said citizens were being forced to pay for the actions of bankers, developers and politicians.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, meanwhile, dismissed any suggestion he would face a challenge to his leadership if Labour had a poor result.

Only six homes have become available to Dublin City Council this year under a scheme designed to encourage private landlords to make their properties available for social housing on a long-term basis.

Almost three times as many landlords removed their flats and houses from the scheme, which was introduced to provide long-term tenancies for people on the social housing waiting list. Ninety more landlords have given the council notice that they want to quit the scheme.

The rental accommodation scheme (RAS) was set up in 2004 to offset the lack of social housing construction. Under the scheme local authorities draw up contracts with landlords to provide housing for people who have been on the waiting list for more than 18 months, and pay rent directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.

Aldi is to create 450 new jobs this year, as it expands its store network throughout the country.

The company is looking to recruit area managers, store managers, assistant store managers and store assistants.

“We expect to build further on the sustained growth we have achieved in the last few years, opening a further seven stores and hiring an additional 450 employees in 2014,” Niall O’Connor, managing director, Aldi Mitchelstown region said.

He said the financial and benefits packages on offer were extremely competitive, with average hourly rates some 30 per cent above the industry norm.

“We also have one the highest staff satisfaction and retention rates in the industry, with many of our team still with us from our earliest days in Ireland,” he added.

Irish Examiner

The government procurement process was a shambles, with untrained staff copying and pasting tender documents with no real understanding of what they were doing, according to Paul Quinn, the new chief procurement officer.

Mr Quinn has come from the private sector to help restructure and streamline the €9bn-a-year of government procurement which covers everything from bullets for the army to paper for schools.

Speaking at the Cork Chamber business breakfast, he said staff in public procurement lack the training to realise they are placing barriers in the way of SMEs when they simply copy and paste tender documents.

“We have a lot of people currently in the public procurement space who have limited training and limited experience. When they go to run a tender, sometimes what they do is copy and paste,” Mr Quinn said.

Europe

Euro Topics: Moscow and Beijing are expanding their strategic partnership. During Russian President Vladimir Putin's state visit to China both sides signed several economic agreements on Tuesday. Putin aims to weaken the US with this alliance, but in view of Moscow's international isolation it's clearly Beijing that is calling the shots, commentators conclude.

Beijing taking advantage of Putin's weakness: More than ever Beijing is dictating the rules of cooperation to Moscow, the liberal Italian daily La Stampa observes: "Vladimir Putin is no longer welcome in the West so he flies to the East. ... He brought a package of over 40 bilateral agreements to the summit in Shanghai, and he stressed that Russia's most important trading partner was no longer Germany but China. But behind the veil of these harmonious statements on a 'strategic partnership' discordant tones can be heard. Once again Putin has failed to persuade Xi to sign the mega gas deal that Gazprom has been trying to seal for almost ten years. Beijing sees the contractual terms as too binding and is aware that Putin's hand is worse than ever. With a shrinking economy and the danger of being ostracised by the West, Russia has manoeuvred itself into an unusual situation. ... The Kremlin doesn't have unlimited options, and pragmatic Xi knows it."

ECB must react to criticism of euro: The Eurosceptic voices in the European elections must be heeded and the ECB must ease its monetary policy, the left-liberal French daily Libération demands: "Debate has once again flared up over the exchange rate of the euro. Some claim the European currency is over-valued, constituting a structural handicap to exports. At the same time this over-valuation contributes to deflation, the mother of all recessions. The most radical voices are calling for abolishment of the euro and a return to national currencies. This claim is advanced by populist parties, but also by renowned economists on the far left. Such voices of discord must be heeded, even if they come from the minority. More prudently, other economists and politicians say the ECB, like the American or Chinese central banks, should use the euro exchange rate to support the tentative recovery in Europe. They too must be listened to. Monetary orthodoxy has its democratic limits."

IMF help only makes Ukrainians poorer: At the end of April the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved loans for Ukraine totalling €12.3bn subject to certain conditions. But the only ones to profit from the loans will be the Western lenders, economist Michael Burke writes in the left-liberal daily The Guardian: "It should be remembered that the actual beneficiaries of all such IMF bailouts are not the people of the country concerned but their creditors, the holders of government bonds and the large banks. The bondholders are set to be paid out in full despite their failed bets. Operating within the 'Washington consensus', IMF bailouts are a supranational form of loan-sharking. ... The effect of the IMF intervention, then, acting as it does in the interest of western creditors rather than the Ukrainian people, will be only to further impoverish the population of Ukraine."

Germany should select its migrants carefully: For the first time Germany occupied second place after the US in the ranking of the most popular countries for immigration, a newly published study by the OECD for the year 2012 shows. As long as the immigrants are qualified and willing to integrate, the conservative daily Die Welt sees this as a positive trend: "Vital for a level-headed debate on immigration is also the fact that the new citizens pay more in taxes and contributions than they receive in social benefits, according to the OECD. Because most of them are well educated, rejuvenate the workforce and promote technological advances. To keep these immigrants in the country permanently the frequently invoked 'welcome culture' is indispensable. ... On the other hand they should show respect for the values, culture and lifestyle of the host country. It's not about taking in all the world's needy and burdened citizens but about steering immigration to suit our interests. The new figures of the OECD indicate that we are getting better and better at this."

Sweden must give whistleblowers more protection: An employee of the Upplands Väsby municipality in northern Stockholm was fired recently after publicly criticising the local government's school policy. An inquiry committee set up by the government as well as trade unions are now demanding better protection for whistleblowers - as does the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter: "Sweden is often held up as a role model for openness and transparency. Sweden's Principle of Public Access gives the public broad access to information held by authorities and local governments. ... But in other areas the legislation is lagging behind. It's not clear whether our current laws conform to the tightened requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights. Transparency International has called in several reports for better protection for whistleblowers against repression and persecution. It has pointed to several problems, also affecting employees in the private sector."


© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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