Mnuchin Finds Allies, Faces Fire in Senate Hearing

first_img Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago in Featured, Government, News Phil Banker began his career in journalism after graduating from the University of North Texas. He has covered a number of communities across Texas and southern Oklahoma, writing news and sports for publications including the Ardmoreite, Ennis Daily News and the Plano Star-Courier. He is currently a contributor to DS News and The MReport. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) went to bat for Treasury Secretary appointee Steve Mnuchin during his confirmation hearing on Thursday, saying claims his businesses helped precipitate the 2008 financial crisis were “lacking in merit.”Mnuchin, 54, is a hedge fund manager, former Goldman Sachs partner, and former executive with IndyMac and OneWest Banks.“Mr. Mnuchin had no involvement in the mortgage market in the years leading up to the collapse,” Hatch said. “After purchasing IndyMac and all its toxic mortgage assets, Mr. Mnuchin’s company offered loan modifications to the vast majority of its delinquent borrowers and was one of the very first institutions to make offers to forgive portions of loan principal balances to reduce foreclosures,” Hatch said.“All independent valuations of the company’s actions have resulted in high marks,” said Hatch regarding the foreclosure practices at OneWest.Mnuchin, nominated for Treasury Secretary in November, said at that time that he would end the government’s controversial conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.“We will make sure that when they are restructured, they are absolutely safe and don’t get taken over again. But we’ve got to get them out of government control,” Mnuchin said back when he was first appointed, according to Bloomberg.Mnuchin has also said he would roll back key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 to regulate Wall Street.During the hearing Mnuchin defended his time at OneWest, saying he worked to help borrowers stay in their homes during the worst years of the financial crisis.“In the press, it has been said I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” Mnuchin said. “On the contrary I was committed to loan modification intended to stop foreclosures. I ran a loan modification machine.“I am proud to be able to say our bank was able to do over 100,000 loan modifications that allowed people the opportunity to stay in their homes,” Mnuchin said. “Unfortunately, not all the homes were able to be saved through these programs, and despite my best efforts some were sadly subject to foreclosure.”Mnuchin said he ordered his lawyers to sue HSBC to allow him to do additional loan modifications, and blamed HUD regulations for foreclosures on accounts delinquent by very small amounts.Ed Delgado, President and CEO of the Five Star Institute and a former executive with Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac, called Mnuchin a “competent choice” for Treasury Secretary.“His plans to roll back burdensome regulations and advance GSE reform will help foster progress and growth in the industry and the economy,” Delgado said. “He should not be labeled as the architect behind the 2008 financial crisis. The reality is that Mnuchin’s leadership during his tenure at OneWest defended American homeowners by making available programs that offered loan modifications to eligible borrowers.”Although the committee began the hearing by peppering Mnuchin with questions on his history at OneWest, they soon pivoted to questions on offshore accounts. Senators asked him about his time as director of Dune Capital International Ltd., an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands.“Did you use the Cayman island corporation to avoid paying taxes? Would you support closing tax loopholes that very wealthy people have consistently used in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying taxes?” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) asked of Mnuchin.“There was no benefit to me from the Cayman entity,” Mnuchin replied. “As I said, The Cayman entity was set up to accommodate nonprofits and pension funds that wanted to invest offshore.”Hatch noted some of the seemingly hypocritical questioning concerning Mnuchin’s corporate involvement with offshore accounts and holdings.“At least two of president Obama’s nominees who now serve in his cabinet had Cayman Island holdings,” Hatch said.Wyden said the committee has a bipartisan record of calling out nominees on both sides of the aisle.Boston Community Capital CEO Elyse Cherry, an expert on foreclosure relief and housing policy, said Mnuchin has a “very different sense of his history” than his detractors.”In his time there, OneWest took families through about 36,000 foreclosures,” Cherry said. “What I would hope is that anybody with that level of knowledge about the real estate industry and the impacts of foreclosure, if he comes into a position in Treasury,  would use that knowledge to help us solve the remaining housing crisis as opposed to continuing to throw families out of their homes.”Cherry said she hopes Mnuchin, if confirmed as Treasury Secretary, would use his position to show leadership on a number policies to help homeowners stay in and maintain their homes.”We need to be able to maintain our housing stock so that people have good, solid, healthy places to live so our neighborhoods can continue to be healthy,” Cherry said. “I think Treasury has a lot they can do for that.”Chairman Tim Rood of Washington, D.C.-based business advisory firm The Collingwood Group praised Mnuchin’s handling of the hearing.“My key takeaway is that Steven Mnuchin is a world-class financier whose decades of experience with financial and monetary matters make him the ideal candidate to serve as U.S. Treasury Secretary and President-elect Trump’s principal economic advisor,” Rood said. “My secondary takeaway is that only the most committed public servant(s) would subject themselves to this gruesome confirmation process.”To watch the hearing, click here. Sign up for DS News Daily Mnuchin Finds Allies, Faces Fire in Senate Hearing Government Senate Hearing Steven Mnuchin Treasury Secretary 2017-01-19 Phil Banker January 19, 2017 1,249 Views Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Tagged with: Government Senate Hearing Steven Mnuchin Treasury Secretary  Print This Post Home / Featured / Mnuchin Finds Allies, Faces Fire in Senate Hearing Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago About Author: Phil Banker Subscribe The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Is Rise in Forbearance Volume Cause for Concern? 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Share Save  To watch a recording the hearing, click here. 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Singapore Navy receives first Littoral Mission Vessel

first_imgBack to overview,Home naval-today Republic of Singapore Navy receives first Littoral Mission Vessel Republic of Singapore Navy receives first Littoral Mission Vessel The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) received its first Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) as the ‘Independence’ finished sea trials and cruised to its new home at Tuas Naval Base on May 26.LMV Independence is one of the eight LMVs that will replace the current Fearless-class Patrol Vessels (PVs). The new ships will be more efficient than their predecessors in areas such as speed and versatility.Speaking at the event, Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral (RADM) Lai Chung Han said: “It is an important milestone for the (LMV) programme. The homecoming of LMV Independence marks the conclusion of almost 2 years of the construction phase.”“It also marks the beginning of about 11 to 12 months of ICIT (Installation, Checkout, Integration and Testing). I think this is something we can be very proud of and something that we want to thank all involved for bringing the project to this point.”Touching on the commissioning of LMV Independence next year, RADM Lai said: “This will be a significant moment to mark the Navy’s coming of age at 50 years, as we complete our 3rd Generation transformation, as we move into our redesign for LMV Indy to be the lead platform, to be, if I can borrow the phrase, the ‘flagship of our future Navy’.”The event also marked the renaming of 182 Squadron (SQN) and 189 SQN, which are formed by the current eleven PVs – to 182 SQN. The new logo for 182 SQN was also unveiled. The eight LMVs will be fully operational by 2020 and they will then complete 182 SQN.Sovereignty, the second of eight vessels, was launched this year in Singapore on April 16.According to ST Marine, a Singaporean shipyard involved in the construction of the ships, the 80-meter vessels with a displacement of 1,250 tonnes are 2.5 times larger than the current class of patrol vessels in service with the Republic of Singapore Navy. View post tag: Republic of Singapore Navy May 27, 2016center_img View post tag: LMV Independence Authorities Share this articlelast_img read more

Wellington Police Notes: Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016

first_imgWellington Police notes for Wednesday, February 3, 2016•1:31 p.m. Officers investigated mistreatment of dependent adults in the 1000 block W. College, Wellington by known suspect.•1:35 p.m. Courtney D. Roy, 30, Oswego, was issued a notice to appear for speeding 58 mph in a 40 mph zone.•2:02 p.m. Officers took a report of found purse and contents in the 100 block E. 2nd, Wellington.•2:10 p.m. Officers conducted a courtesy motor vehicle accident report in the 300 block S. Washington, Wellington involving vehicles operated by Eileen F. Smith, 67, Wellington and Kenneth F. Baucom, 19, Wellington.•3:27 p.m. Juvenile male, 16, Wellington was issued a notice to appear for speeding 32 mph in a 20 mph school zone (radar) and illegal registration/no license plate.•7:52 p.m. Officers took a report of suspicious activity in the 1800 block E. 16th, Wellington.•9:13 p.m. Officers investigated possession of hallucinigenic drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia in the 700 block N. Woodlawn, Wellington.•9:13 p.m. Juvenile male, 13, Wellington was detained and released for Juvenile Court.last_img read more

NASA astronaut accused of crime committed in space

first_imgABC News(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) — Authorities are investigating the first allegation of a crime committed in space.Astronaut Anne McClain has been accused of unlawfully accessing her estranged spouse’s bank account aboard the International Space Station.McClain and her spouse, Summer Worden, have been engaged in a custody battle over Worden’s six year-old son Briggs after filing for divorce in October 2018.“Lt. Col Anne McClain has an accomplished military career, flew combat missions in Iraq and is one of NASA’s top astronauts,” NASA said in a statement. “She did a great job on her most recent mission to the International Space Station. As with all NASA employees NASA does not comment on personal, or personnel issues.”Worden, a former Airforce Intelligence Officer, claimed McClain got into her account as part of a plan to gain parental rights of her son.But McClain’s attorney said when she accessed the account, she was making sure the couple’s finances were in order as she had been doing for years using passwords that weren’t changed.McClain tweeted her response to the allegations writing, “There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims. We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media. I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the IG process.”The two married in December 2014 but after filing for divorce nearly four years later, Worden argues since McClain did not legally adopt Briggs, she does not have custodial rights.ABC’s Chief Transportation Correspondent, David Kerley, spoke with McClain in 2018 about operating in space before her six-month stint aboard the International Space Station. When asked about training in the Astronaut Corps and going to space for the first time she said, “I do know that it as been something so magical that has given me such a purpose my whole life and I’m really looking forward to achieving it,” she said.McClain and Worden’s divorce trial is set for Sept. 17th in Houston.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

CR beats Siskiyous 2 out of 3

first_imgCollege of the Redwoods baseball played its first home games of the 2018 season on Sunday and today, winning two of three against visiting College of the Siskiyous.“Anytime you can get a series win, it’s huge,” said Redwoods head coach Brad Morgan. “It’s always good to defend the home field.”On Sunday, Redwoods (5-7, 8-13) took game one by a score of 9-8 thanks to a 10th inning walk-off homer courtesy of Kyle Wallace, who batted 2-3 in the game as well. Hokeem Sadon started the day on the …last_img read more

Sacred lake to be heritage site

first_imgThe enchanting Drakensberg Mountains are deemed to have a spiritual impact on visitors. (Image: Wikimedia) The sacred Lake Fundudzi captured from a distance. (Image: South African Tourism) One of the many waterfalls in the Hogsback  valley. (Image: Tusafiri)Khanyi Magubane The sacred Lake Fundudzi situated in the mountainous area of Tshiavha village, north of South Africa, will soon be declared a national heritage site.The Limpopo Department of Arts and Culture has confirmed that processes to declare the enigmatic freshwater lake are at an advanced stage.Spokesperson for the department says the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA) is yet to decide on an official date for the declaration.SAHRA is a statutory organisation established under the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999, as the national administrative body responsible for the protection of South Africa’s cultural heritage.The great powers of Lake Fundudzi have been kept a closely guarded secret by the Vhavenda people, who have preserved it for generations.The lake is often associated with myth and legends of the Vhavenda people and is believed to be protected by a python god, who has to be pacified annually with gifts of traditionally brewed beer.As the legend goes, a Venda man, with a broken heart after losing a great love, in his sorrow walked into Lake Fundudzi and turned into a python.Outsiders are not permitted to visit the lake. Currently, only those granted special permission by the Netshiava royal family, can visit the lake.In Venda culture, the python is the god of fertility and maidens still perform the famous Domba-python dance in the sacred lake to honour this god.The young women form a line in which they hold on to the elbows of the maiden in front of them, and using their joint arms, make snake-like movements next to the lake to honour the god.Other myths around the lake include a story of mysterious “zombies” which live near at the lake and play the traditional Venda music known as Tshikona.The lake is surrounded by the Thathe Vondo forest, deemed to be so mystical and filled with spirits that few Venda people venture into it for fear of alleged hauntings and a lightning bird called “Ndadzi”.It’s believed that on the rare occasion that a visit to the lake is granted, visitors must turn their backs on the lake and view the water from between their legs.This ritual is called “Fundudzi” after which the lake is named.Visitors travelling to the Limpopo are able to get a glimpse of the lake, from above, when travelling along the surrounding mountains.The naming of Lake Fundudzi as a heritage site comes at a time when South Africa is celebrating heritage month, with 24 September marked as a public holiday to celebrate Heritage Day.Sacred South AfricaThere are a number of sites in South Africa that are considered to be sacred.The fertility caves in the eastern Free State, for instance, have served as a spiritual gathering place of prayer for over 800 years to various tribes and religions in and around southern Africa.Hogsback in the Eastern Cape is also regarded as a place of spiritual upliftment. Situated in the Amatola Mountains, it’s surrounded by large tracts of indigenous forest, and waterfalls with names such as Madonna and Child, and the Bridal Veil Cataract, Swallowtail and Kettlespout.In the Limpopo province, the forest of the rain queen, Modjadi, is highly regarded as a place of deep spirituality.The Modjadji Reserve is the birthplace of the famous lineage of Rain Queens of the Lobedu tribe, who are said to have mystical powers that can influence the rainfall.Mist usually surrounds the Modjadi village, and the Modjadi Cycad Reserve is said to be one of the most unique plant kingdoms in Africa.The Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is one of the official World Heritage sites in South Africa. Originally known as the “Dragon Mountains”, the site offers waterfalls, mountain peaks and rocks decorated with San rock art.Once home to the ancient shamans and medicine men; the Drakensberg is also known for pilgrimages taken to the area for those who want to meditate peacefully.The San and Bushman rock painting are also said to represent the ritual called, the Great Dance. In this dance, the dancer goes into a trance, through which the San say they can harness a form of spiritual power that is like electricity. They use this power for healing, hunting, and making rain.Safari with a purposeFor travellers looking for holidays with a deeper meaning, Spiritual Safaris, a Western Cape based tourism company now offers tourists with a unique travel package.According to the company, the trip is structured in way that gives the traveller an opportunity to have a deeper connection with nature than that which is usually offered by mainstream tourism packages.The five-day tour consists of a five-hour train journey from Cape Town to the Karoo. On the first night the tourists will partake in stargazing with a professional guide.On the second and third day, the tourists get the opportunity to explore the Swartberg mountains and enjoy a talk by palaeontologist, Dr Judy Maquire.In addition to studying fossils, Maquire has extensive experience in working with the Bushmen. She has closely studied their survival as well as their use of food plants.Early birds can also enjoy a 5:30am walk to the nearby show grounds to watch horses in training. After breakfast, the group is then taken to a hidden valley in the heart of the Swartberg mountain range, described as “Die Hel”.On the fourth day, the tour moves to the southern Cape area of Gamkaskloof valley. Here, tourists have the opportunity to meditate, listen to nature and take time for reflection.On the last day of the tour, visitors enjoy a laid back morning, before a trip on a private jet after lunch, where they are jetted back to Cape Town.Many travellers claim that the tour is spiritually rejuvenating. On its website, there are testimonials posted where happy customers share their experiences.One particular satisfied customer, Judyie Al-Bilali from the US, says this of the trip, “It was deeply relaxing and at the same time had a spiritual intensity and a magnificent opportunity to connect with the natural world.“I started dreaming intensely in the Karoo and the dreams have continued, bright, complex, colourful, clear. There is undoubtedly a rich Shamanic tradition connected to the land.”Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Khanyi Magubane at [email protected] articlesHolidays that save the worldSA Safari Disney style The adventure starts here South Africa’s national parks World heritage in South Africa Useful linksSpiritual SafarisModjadji historySouth African Heritage Resources AgencyThe Drakensberglast_img read more

Qantas flies higher with credit agency

first_imgA financial framework “that stands out among corporate and airline peers” has helped Qantas gain a coveted credit upgrade by ratings agency Moody’s.Moody’s announced Monday that the Australian carrier’s credit rating has been upgraded from Baa3 to Baa2. Both ratings are investment grade.“While we expect Qantas’ credit metrics to remain fairly stable for the next 12-18 months, the upgrade reflects our greater focus on qualitative factors,’’ Moody’s vice president- senior credit officer Ian Chitterer said in the upgrade announcement. “This includes the unique traits of the Australian continent and airline market, Qantas Group’s strong domestic position, and diversification provided by the loyalty program.”We also factor in the reduction in credit risk through its hedging policy and financial framework. Working in tandem, they help to reduce earnings volatility and increase the predictability of management’s response to market conditions.’’Qantas earlier this month predicting another bumper full-year underlying pre-tax profit of $A1.35 billion to $A1.4 billion, making it the second highest in the airline’s history.The airline said it had seen an improving performance from its domestic operations and a “slight moderation” in the challenging conditions facing it in the international market.Its forecast compared to an underlying profit of $A1.53 billion and a net profit of $1.03 billion in 2015-16.In its decision to upgrade Qantas, Moody’s took into account the “unique” dynamics of the Australian market, including an airline duopoly with budget airline subsidiaries reducing the chances of a new domestic competitor and significant distances between cities.It noted Qantas had a domestic capacity share of 62 per cent and raked in 86 per cent of the available pre-tax earnings in the market.“With its greater scale, far higher margins and a significantly stronger balance sheet, Qantas is in a very strong competitive position,’’ it said.The upgrade also reflected the stable earnings of Qantas Loyalty, which accounted for about 20 per cent of group pre-tax eearnings in2016 with management predicting growth of 7 to 10 per cent for the next five years.Moody’s also liked the airline’s fuel hedging strategy because it reduced cash flow volatility and gave the business time to adjust fuel spikes.“Qantas’ publicly articulated financial framework stands out among corporate and airline peer,’’ Moody’s said. “The stipulation of maximum net debt levels and forward-looking nature of the framework will trigger pre-emptive actions in the event of sustained fuel-cost increases or operational weakness.’’The credit agency said a further upgrade was considered unlikely unless Qantas changed its financial framework to target a debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) ratio of around two times but this was not expected.It would look at a downgrade if that same ratio exceeded three times but it noted it was expected to remain below this level.last_img read more

A roadmap for South Africa by Miller Matola

first_imgHaving a national plan for SA is not goodenough, says Brand South Africa CEO MillerMatola. What is needed is a social pact withcommitment from all sectors of society tomake the country achieve its potential.Certainty breeds confidence. If the recent results of a Moody’s Investor Service action are anything to go by, the best way to garner confidence in a country and to represent it as a stable and consistent environment for investors is to have a plan and stick to it. Not just any plan, however; it has to be credible.Commentators and experts are in agreement that the recently released National Development Plan is both comprehensive and credible. It identifies the major issues which still need to be addressed in SA and is the road map as to how we can start to do so. If implemented and followed, the plan will also remove a lot of thedoubt and frustration which continues to put our economy at risk.Key to Moody’s decision to downgrade SA’s outlook last month was what they termed political risk.According to reports, Moody’s action was driven by “the growing risk that the political commitment to low-budget deficits and the ability to keep within current debt targets could be undermined by popular pressures and rising internal strains within the African National Congress and its labour union allies”.Proudly South AfricaWe believe their assessment is flawed and the government and the National Treasury and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in particular, have criticised their judgement.What the report does highlight, however, is the need for SA to change some perceptions of our investment and economic climate.SA remains a globally competitive economy and our best practices – in banking, stock market regulation and auditing and reporting in particular – have drawn favourable ratings from other world bodies.The World Economic Forum’s 2011/12 Global Competiveness Report identified various competitive advantages enjoyed by SA.Among others, SA was ranked first in the strength of its auditing and reporting standards as well as regulation of securities exchanges. We were ranked second in soundness of banks and corporate boards and third in protection of minority shareholders’ interest and the availability of financial services.At 50th overall, SA has the highest competitiveness ranking in sub-Saharan Africa and is second only to China among the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA) economies.The world regards our bankers, financial regulators and chartered accountants as some of the best in the world. Investors want to trust the numbers, and with us they do.However, the World Economic Forum identified key areas where SA is weak – notably labour market efficiency, health and primary education, the health of the workforce, rigid hiring and firing practices, a lack of flexibility in wage determination by companies and the significant tensions in labour-employer relations.Again, there are valuable lessons from this which show how we can improve our rankings. The National Development Plan gives us the direction to achieve this. It also shows that we understand our problems as a society and have a credible long-term structural plan to achieve improvements that will improve our reputation and competitiveness.The plan does not simply gloss over the issues which we face. It lists various goals, but among those which are pertinent to the conversations around a stable economic environment are: improving education and training, providing quality health care, building a capable state, fighting corruption and enhancing accountability, transforming society and uniting the nation.SA has the means, the goodwill, the people and the resources to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, but it will require leadership from all sectors of society, a capable state and a social pact.Having a plan is not enough. What we also need is a collective determination to meet the goals set out in the national plan.The reality is that we are facing major challenges in labour, health and education.The government has now outlined how we can meet these challenges. An important aspect of the development plan is its emphasis on active citizenry.Key to making the plan a success is that South Africans get behind it and play their part to meet the goals outlined in the plan. The obvious benefit of this is that we create a more successful society, a country which functions at a much improved level and an overall better place to live.Added to that will be a greater sense of policy certainty which will improve our international competitiveness in a world of great uncertainty. This will help attract investment and improve growth.The plan is currently open for public input for four to six months of public engagement and refinement. President Jacob Zuma will then initiate a process whereby the cabinet considers the refined plan for approval. Once it is passed, it will be a plan for all South Africans irrespective of race, creed, class or political affiliation – a plan which will cultivate the values of a caring society. Before then, however, South Africans from all sectors and with a wide-range of expertise must play their part and lend their voices to the debate surrounding the plan.We must all help refine it and make sure that, when it is adopted, it is not just a government plan but a vision accepted and created by the nation.International experiences suggest that trade, tourism and investment respond well to the kind of long-term policy planning we as a nation are doing. And that will improve our competitiveness and give a firm answer to the ratings agencies. Certainty breeds confidence. If the recent results of a Moody’s Investor Service action are anything to go by, the best way to garner confidence in a country and to represent it as a stable and consistent environment for investors is to have a plan and stick to it. Not just any plan, however; it has to be credible.Commentators and experts are in agreement that the recently released National Development Plan is both comprehensive and credible. It identifies the major issues which still need to be addressed in SA and is the road map as to how we can start to do so. If implemented and followed, the plan will also remove a lot of the doubt and frustration which continues to put our economy at risk.Key to Moody’s decision to downgrade SA’s outlook last month was what they termed political risk.According to reports, Moody’s action was driven by “the growing risk that the political commitment to low-budget deficits and the ability to keep within current debt targets could be undermined by popular pressures and rising internal strains within the African National Congress and its labour union allies”. What the report does highlight, however, is the need for SA to change some perceptions of our investment and economic climate.SA remains a globally competitive economy and our best practices – in banking, stock market regulation and auditing and reporting in particular – have drawn favourable ratings from other world bodies.The World Economic Forum’s 2011/12 Global Competiveness Report identified various competitive advantages enjoyed by SA.Among others, SA was ranked first in the strength of its auditing and reporting standards as well as regulation of securities exchanges. We were ranked second in soundness of banks and corporate boards and third in protection of minority shareholders’ interest and the availability of financial services.At 50th overall, SA has the highest competitiveness ranking in sub-Saharan Africa and is second only to China among the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA) economies.The world regards our bankers, financial regulators and chartered accountants as some of the best in the world. Investors want to trust the numbers, and with us they do.However, the World Economic Forum identified key areas where SA is weak – notably labour market efficiency, health and primary education, the health of the workforce, rigid hiring and firing practices, a lack of flexibility in wage determination by companies and the significant tensions in labour-employer relations.Again, there are valuable lessons from this which show how we can improve our rankings. The National Development Plan gives us the direction to achieve this. It also shows that we understand our problems as a society and have a credible long-term structural plan to achieve improvements that will improve our reputation and competitiveness.The plan does not simply gloss over the issues which we face. It lists various goals, but among those which are pertinent to the conversations around a stable economic environment are: improving education and training, providing quality health care, building a capable state, fighting corruption and enhancing accountability, transforming society and uniting the nation.SA has the means, the goodwill, the people and the resources to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, but it will require leadership from all sectors of society, a capable state and a social pact.Having a plan is not enough. What we also need is a collective determination to meet the goals set out in the national plan.The reality is that we are facing major challenges in labour, health and education.The government has now outlined how we can meet these challenges. An important aspect of the development plan is its emphasis on active citizenry.Key to making the plan a success is that South Africans get behind it and play their part to meet the goals outlined in the plan. The obvious benefit of this is that we create a more successful society, a country which functions at a much improved level and an overall better place to live.Added to that will be a greater sense of policy certainty which will improve our international competitiveness in a world of great uncertainty. This will help attract investment and improve growth.The plan is currently open for public input for four to six months of public engagement and refinement. President Jacob Zuma will then initiate a process whereby the cabinet considers the refined plan for approval. Once it is passed, it will be a plan for all South Africans irrespective of race, creed, class or political affiliation – a plan which will cultivate the values of a caring society. Before then, however, South Africans from all sectors and with a wide-range of expertise must play their part and lend their voices to the debate surrounding the plan.We must all help refine it and make sure that, when it is adopted, it is not just a government plan but a vision accepted and created by the nation.International experiences suggest that trade, tourism and investment respond well to the kind of long-term policy planning we as a nation are doing. And that will improve our competitiveness and give a firm answer to the ratings agencies.l Miller Motala is the CEO of Brand South Africa, previously known as the International Marketing Council of SA.Source: www.iol.co.za/mercurylast_img read more

iPad Users Scroll More Google Search Results Than PC Users

first_imgRelated Posts In the still nascent tablet market, research is ongoing about how consumers interact with this new computing medium. Whether it is how users interact with tablet magazines or how much time they spend using various apps, there is still a lot to learn.Advertising network Chitika released a study today showing that when perusing Google search results, users are more likely to scroll past the first couple of results than they are from a PC. The study showed that 20% of iPad users click the top search result in Google, a decline from the 34% who do so from a personal computer.The study was done using data from the Chitika ad network that serves three billion monthly ad impressions on the Web across 100,000 sites. The company compared it against a similar study they did last year for Google position results from desktop computers. Tags:#Apple#Google#web 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market “It appears from the data that iPad users are more willing to scroll to find the answers to their queries, and even go to multiple pages,” Chitika wrote in the study. “Perhaps this can be attributed to the touchscreen interface, or the fact that search behavior isn’t yet ingrained in tablet users like it is in desktop and laptop users.”Chitika said that it is not certain if this is true across all tablet or touch screen devices or whether it is just an “iPad phenomenon” and has promised to study mobile gadgetsChitika is active in studying analytics of web trends. In August, 2010 it was one of the first to report that Bing had overtaken Yahoo in search market share and did a study shortly after the first iPad was released on where the early adopters call home. The company spends a lot of time studying on search trends, which would make sense for an ad network that wants to know where the eyeballs are going to be. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… dan rowinskilast_img read more

Tax Reform Not Responsible for 2018 Withholding Errors, Senior Treasury Official Says

first_imgA senior Treasury official has said that tax reform is not responsible for taxpayers’ withholding errors in 2018. Senate Democrats have criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) (P.L. 115-97) and the Trump administration for the anticipated increase in taxpayers who under-withheld during the 2018 tax year.“Let’s call it what it is, this is tax penalty entrapment,” Senate Finance Committee (SFC) ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a February 26 press release. Wyden and 39 other Senate Democrats asked Treasury and the IRS earlier this month to waive taxpayers’ underpayment penalties associated with implementation of the TCJA.Underpayment PenaltiesThe IRS announced in IR-2019-03 that it would waive the underpayment penalty for taxpayers who paid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability during the 2018 tax year. The usual threshold is 90 percent.Additionally, several Republican lawmakers and tax practitioners have encouraged the IRS to further lower the 85 percent income threshold the IRS is using this filing season for the assessment of underpayment penalties. However, a senior Treasury official told Senate Democrats in a letter this week that “tens of millions” of taxpayers are under-withheld every year, regardless of the TCJA’s implementation.“The TCJA, and our implementation of the law through the withholding tables and Form W-4 instructions, will not cause tens of millions of taxpayers to be under-withheld,” J. Brady Howell, senior advisor within Treasury’s Office of Legislative Affairs, wrote in a February 25 letter to Senate Democrats. “Rather, tens of millions of taxpayers are under-withheld every year, due to taxpayers’ choices or the difficulties some taxpayers face in adjusting withholding to account for changes in their circumstance each year,” Howell added.Moreover, the lowered 85 percent threshold the IRS intends to use for underpayment penalties this filing season “will provide substantial relief to many taxpayers without creating large windfalls” for taxpayers would have under-withheld regardless of the TCJA, Howell noted. Nearly 30 million taxpayers are expected to have underpaid taxes last year, according to a recent report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO).By Jessica Jeane, Senior News EditorA copy of the February 25 Treasury letter to Senate Democrats can be located here.Login to read more on CCHAnswerConnect.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more