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News : International Last Updated: Jun 3, 2014 - 4:44 PM


Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - June 03, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Jun 3, 2014 - 9:54 AM

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Irish Independent

MORE than 100,000 welfare recipients had their €188 dole payments cut last year because they had been overpaid, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The clampdown was part of a €70m recovery operation undertaken by Minister Joan Burton's Social Protection department to combat fraud.

New documents from the department, seen by the Irish Independent, show that because of increased enforcement powers introduced last year, there has been a significant increase in the numbers who have had their payments cut.

The new measures, which came into effect in February 2013, allow Ms Burton's officials to claw back up to €28, or 15pc, of the weekly dole payment of €188. This they say has led to a 30pc spike in "overpayment recoveries".

IRELAND may face fines of up to €180m from EU Commission chiefs over the failure to police the €1.5bn farm payment schemes.

The potentially massive fines follow an audit by the Commission of over 900,000 land parcels that farmers use to claim subsidies each year.

New hi-tech satellite imaging have helped auditors to probe the schemes administered by the Department of Agriculture.

The images have shown thousands of farmers had overstated the area of land that they were basing their payments on for schemes such as the Single Farm Payment, REPS and the Disadvantaged Area scheme.

They found many instances of farmers claiming substantial payments on land that was predominantly rock and scrub.

In some cases, they found farmers claiming on areas that were roadways and one-off housing sites that had subsequently been built on.

EMBATTLED Health Minister James Reilly's plans to introduce free GP care by 2016 seem doomed as they will require the Government to find an extra €332m.

The Irish Independent has obtained documents that show the financial mountain faced by the health service if the Coalition is to fulfil its promise on free GPs for all.

The revelations will be another major setback for Dr Reilly who is facing mounting public calls from within his own party to resign or be sacked in the wake of the mishandling of the medical card review.

And they come as the EU Commission released a devastating assessment of the health service which is already €80m over-budget for the first three months of the year.

PUBLIC sector workers have received more than €1.4bn in incremental or length-of-service pay rises since the recession began in 2007.

Amid the huge controversy caused by the review of discretionary medical cards, it has emerged that some of the highest earners in the public service retained their increments.

Last year's Haddington Road deal did not abolish such payments but merely delayed them for higher earners. They will ultimately be paid in full.

Figures obtained show that 1,362 senior public officials, including politically appointed government advisers and spin doctors, some of whom are on more than €100,000 a year, received increments last year, despite their high salaries.

Irish Times

The “Golden Age” for European companies in China is over, the EU Chamber said as it launched a gloomy report on the business climate in the country, blighted by worries about government support for domestic competitors, sagging profits and flagging growth.

“Almost half our members believe the Golden Age for multinationals is ending,” European Union chamber of commerce in China president Jörg Wuttke told a news briefing, as he delivered the 10th annual document on business conditions in the world’s second-largest economy.

“Market access and regulatory barriers cost member companies €21.3 billion, substantially larger than the GDP of Estonia, ” said Wuttke. A major part of this was missed business opportunities.

An average of 107 start-ups were formed every day last month according to credit and business risk analyst, Vision-net.

Construction start-ups grew by almost 48 per cent, when compared with last year, while the number of start-ups in the transport and logistics sector grew by 41 per cent over May 2013.

In total, 2,783 start-ups were set up in May, down 12 per cent compared to the same month last year.

Ireland has come under renewed pressure from the EU to maintain the tight budgetary consolidation imposed during its bailout. The warning came as the European Commission published the first full set of economic recommendations for the State since it exited its programme in December.

In its country-specific recommendations for the EU, published yesterday, the European Commission highlighted Ireland’s high healthcare expenditure, excessive legal fees and non-performing SME loans as some of the main issues facing the economy.

Speaking in Brussels yesterday, economics commissioner Olli Rehn said that while Ireland had successfully returned to private market funding and had reduced its unemployment rate, the country needed to continue with reforms implemented during the bailout.

France’s foreign minister this morning said his country would defend the interests of French bank BNP Paribas after it faced the prospect of a $10 billion-plus fine from the United States and called the penalty “unreasonable.”

“The fine has to be proportionate and reasonable,” Laurent Fabius said on France 2 television. “These figures are not reasonable.”

Fabius said the United States should deal with the issue as partner and not unilaterally.

Irish Examiner

The Quinn family is planning on focusing its defence on what it says is the illegal means used by the liquidators of IBRC to obtain information alleging they hid hundreds of millions in assets.

A spokesperson for the Quinns said they had not yet been able to meet with their legal team but would be looking at all options in relation to Friday’s revelations.

“We will be considering all options but the fact that the liquidator is paying for information which has most likely been obtained illegally is something we will be looking at,” the spokesperson said.

The liquidators said in court documents that the informants who obtained the information in relation to the Quinns likely did so improperly.

The emails and documents allege that a banker acting on behalf of the Quinns purchased €300m worth of gold, moving €200m to an account in the Virgin Islands.

Europe

Euro Topics: According to media reports on Saturday, British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to bring forward the referendum on exiting the EU should Jean-Claude Juncker become European Commission president. The EU should finally start questioning the UK's membership, some commentators demand. Others argue that Cameron's reform proposals should be the subject of an open debate.

Britain and the EU both suffer so much because of their difficult relationship that the time has come for drastic measures, the German news magazine Der Spiegel writes: "In Brussels they suffer from London's doing all it can to stop the unification process and prevent consolidation. In the UK they suffer from the EU: a chronic illness with no hope of improvement. ... Europe has taken the particularities and sensibilities of the British into account for long enough. It has let itself be blackmailed and talked down to. It has been patient to the breaking point. ... Now the time has come to clarify the issues. The European Union must decide what is more important: a democratic Europe or keeping Britain at all costs. And it must take this decision now, with the nomination of the future Commission president. This cannot be put off until 2017, when David Cameron plans to hold a referendum on EU membership at the very latest."

Cameron's threat to Merkel makes no sense, the left-liberal Austrian daily Der Standard writes: "Cameron believes that the success of everyone from the Eurosceptics to the far right should by countered by reversing integration and strengthening national competences. This idea is being propagated by a British prime minister whose country has no euro and several political opt-outs. And who says that this is why he is against Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission president. ... In Germany the phenomenon of an anti-European far right barely exists. ... The European election in Germany was clearly also a vote between Juncker or Martin Schulz. So for the past days terms like electoral fraud, lies and democracy as a farced have been doing the rounds in the established media. Merkel would have to be crazy not to see that. And in practical terms: if Juncker is sacrificed, another candidate would have to face the EU Parliament. Which head of government would be so stupid as to open himself up to an embarrassing defeat?"

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's social democratic Partito Democratico won a clear victory in the European elections with 41 percent of the vote. This shows that the parties of the centre can be successful even if they introduce major reforms, the liberal daily Financial Times observes: "However, his victory has implications that go beyond Italy. Across Europe, mainstream leaders - especially on the centre-left - are nervous about implementing painful economic reforms to raise growth. After their drubbing in the European elections, some leaders will emerge even more fearful about pursuing unpopular policies such as public spending cuts. Mr Renzi's victory serves as a valuable lesson that a mainstream European government promising an ambitious reform programme can win the confidence of the electorate. President François Hollande in France should take note."

According to the British newspaper The Sunday Times, the sheikdom of Qatar purchased votes from senior officials at the International Federation of Association Football Fifa to win the contest to stage the 2022 World Cup. Fifa must now draw the necessary consequences, the conservative Dutch daily De Telegraaf demands: "These latest revelations of corruption cast a dark shadow over the upcoming world championship in Brazil. Indications that Qatar purchased the 2022 World Cup are piling up. In addition it's becoming increasingly clear that criminals manipulated a series of friendly games before the 2010 World Cup. The decision to let the event take place in Qatar in 2022 - a country without any particular football history and with temperatures of up to 50 degrees in the summer - was of course ridiculous from the start. ... Now that The Sunday Times can prove that corruption really was involved, there can be no getting around declaring the selection of Qatar invalid."


© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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