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Posts Tagged ‘cuts’

Company gold exploitation cuts Dakrong River into small bits

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

The Construction Limited Company No.9 has made the Dakrong River deformed since it was licensed to exploit gold in the Dakrong District, the central province of Quang Tri in November.

The Construction Company No.9 has made the Dakrong River an ‘environmental mess’ while mining for gold in the central province of Quang Tri (Photo: SGGP)

The river section through Huc Nghi Commune has been badly polluted; as mining work is performed daily from 7am to 10pm.

Dozens of people from Van Kieu commune gathered at the river section to show their displeasure about the company’s operations on December 13.

Ho Van Lien, a local citizen, said the commune has 291 households, with over half of them being very poor.  Their livelihoods relied on farming the fields and sometimes, in their spare time, they did ‘sift for gold’ in the river.

However, now they are prohibited to search for gold by the Huc Nghi Commune People’s Committee. The Construction Company No.9 promised that they would assist the poorer household’s with food. However, so far, the company has not fulfilled this duty.

A reporter from Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper, witness thousands of tons of soil, stone piles and trenches dumped into the riverbed.  A section of the Ho Chi Minh Highway, which goes through the community, has always been eroded by river water. This is likely to get much worse as the mining continues.

Le Phuoc Chuong, deputy head of Department of Natural Resources and Environment in Dakrong District, said the construction company no.9’s operation on the river has been suspended, for violating environmental regulations.

In a commitment, with the Quang Tri Province People’s Committee, the company was asked to take care of the environment while digging for gold. However, it has just focused on the exploitation of gold and has been careless with how it disposes the sand and soil, dug out from mine.

Additionally, the company was only allowed to use two excavators, but it has been found that over seven excavators have been in operation at the site. 

In trying to explain these discrepancies, regarding mining on the site, company director Truong Duc Hai said, that an hydropower plant is to be built there in 2015 and as a result gold exploration had to be ‘speeded up’.

Source: SGGP

Thousands of Irish protest austerity cuts

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Thousands gathered in Dublin for a mass protest Saturday against savage cutbacks needed to obtain an international bailout for debt-ravaged Ireland, heaping more pressure on the embattled government.

An Irish policeman (L) is confronted by protestors as they break through the front gates of the Irish Prime Minister’s office in Dublin, Ireland.

Police said they expected about 50,000 people to join a march against the four-year austerity package announced on Wednesday by Prime Minister Brian Cowen, aimed at slashing Ireland’s huge budget deficit.

Up to 3,000 people gathered at the start of the protest, holding placards saying “Eire not for sale, not to the IMF”.

“The cuts are not necessary. The banks are being rescued, not Ireland. The banks should take the hit — cut them loose,” said Marian Hamilton, 57, who was attending the protest with her seven-year-old grandson.

The demonstration will pile more pressure on Cowen the day after his Fianna Fail party suffered a humiliating by-election defeat which cut the FF/Green Party coalition’s parliamentary majority to just two.

Cowen has been fighting off calls from opposition lawmakers to quit, insisting he must see through the austerity package and a budget due on December 7 because they are pre-conditions for the bailout.

European Union heavyweights Germany and France are urging a rapid conclusion to negotiations on the EU and International Monetary Fund loans, reportedly worth up to 85 billion euros (113 billion dollars).

Sources in Brussels said the talks, aimed at shoring up Ireland and stopping the crisis spreading to other troubled eurozone countries, would likely wrap up Sunday in time for an announcement before markets open Monday.

Media reports suggest Ireland might be charged 6.7 percent interest on the nine-year loans, significantly more than the 5.2 percent rate charged to fellow eurozone country Greece when it was bailed out earlier this year.

The 15-billion-euro austerity package will cut the minimum wage and slash 25,000 public sector jobs as Ireland strives to bring its deficit under three percent of gross domestic product by 2014. It is currently at 32 percent.

Irish Congress of Trade Unions president Jack O’Connor, the head of Ireland’s biggest union SIPTU, said it was “the harshest budget since the foundation of the state”.

“This is the result of allowing speculators, bankers and developers to run riot, pillaging and ruining our economy,” he said.

Ireland’s national sovereignty was at stake, he said, adding: “We must not stand idly by while the final nail is driven into the coffin.”

Hundreds of police officers and a helicopter were mobilised for Saturday’s march through Dublin city centre to the General Post Office, the highly symbolic site of the declaration of Irish independence in 1916.

Cowen’s government has insisted that Ireland’s austerity plan and next month’s budget are crucial steps to show fellow members of the 16-nation euro area that it is putting its finances in order.

He refused to go to the polls until lawmakers have passed the measures, not likely before January, but opposition parties have said he no longer has a mandate to govern.

In Friday’s by-election in Donegal, the opposition socialist Sinn Fein party took what was once a stronghold of Cowen’s Fianna Fail party.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said the party “has neither the political mandate nor the moral authority to make the crucial decisions the country now faces.”

The Irish Times said the budget would probably go through given the pressure from the EU and the IMF, but added: “There is a general consensus that Mr Cowen’s days are numbered.”

Meanwhile Michael Noonan, finance spokesman for the Fine Gael main opposition party, described reports of the 6.7 interest rate on the bailout loan as “very disturbing”.

“This rate is far too high and is unaffordable on any reasonable projection of growth,” he said.


Source: SGGP

High reservoir levels promise fewer power cuts

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:21 am

High reservoir levels promise fewer power cuts

QĐND – Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 20:52 (GMT+7)

No power cuts are expected in the near future during peak hours of usage as water levels in reservoirs are sufficiently high, according to Electricity of Vietnam (EVN).

According to the National Meteorology Forecasts Centre, as of November 22, water levels in central and southern reservoirs were 4.7 to 22 metres higher than dead-water levels.

Water levels in northern reservoirs, such as those at Hoa Binh, Tuyen Quang and Song Da hydro-power plants, were seven to 10 metres lower than the same period last year.

Dang Hoang An, deputy general director of EVN, said higher water levels had helped to bring hydro-power plants in Central Highlands and southern provinces to normal operations.

An said a number of thermo-power plants would be suspended for periodic maintenance in preparation for power generation in the dry season of 2011.

To avoid power cuts in peak hours, EVN would continue to purchase electric power from abroad and run plants using expensive fuels such as FO and DO.

He added that EVN had been making plans to release water from reservoirs to irrigate the spring crop in 2011.

EVN’s subsidiaries, in coordination with irrigation companies in the Red River Delta, had been inspecting the irrigations systems to receive sources of water from reservoirs and use them economically.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Disfigured but alive: Zimbabwe cuts horns to save rhinos

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 7:40 am

 The roaring chainsaw sends fingernail-like shards flying into the baking Zimbabwean bush as it slices through the slumped black rhino’s foot-long horn.

The critically endangered female loses her spikes in just seconds, after being darted from a helicopter.

Doctor Chris Forging cuts a rhino horn in Chipinge National Park, 360km west of Harare

A few minutes later, she leaps up and escapes — disfigured but alive — in a dramatic attempt to deter the poachers who have unleashed a bloodbath on southern Africa’s rhinos.

“De-horning reduces the reward for the poacher,” said Raoul du Toit of the Lowveld Rhino Trust which operates in Zimbabwe’s arid southeast.

“Poaching is a balance between reward and risk. It may tip the economic equation in the situation to one where it’s not worth the poacher operating.”

Rhino poaching reached an all-time high in Africa last year, according to the International Rhino Foundation.

In Zimbabwe, where just 700 rhinos remain, anti-poaching units face military-like armed gangs who ruthlessly shoot the animals to hack off the distinctive horns for the Asian traditional medicine market.

“These poachers in this part of the world here will shoot on sight. They operate in very aggressive units,” Du Toit told AFP.

“They adopt patrol formations when they are after rhinos to detect any anti-poaching units that are deployed against them and they will open fire without hesitation.

“So there’ve been many gunfights — a number of poachers killed, not so many on law enforcement side but that’s mainly through luck.”

Asian demand for rhino horn, believed to treat anything from headaches to sexual woes, has lured highly organised criminal syndicates.

Zimbabwe’s black rhino were poached to a low of 300 in 1995 but recovered and levelled off to nearly double this before plummeting again to reach around 400 last year, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“It was at this time, 2006-2007, when we actually saw the steep escalation in poaching which is related to syndicate kind of poaching orchestrated out of South Africa,” said WWF’s African rhino manager Joseph Okari.

“It is what makes a big difference between the poaching of today… and the poaching of the ’80s and the early ’90s,” he said.

“That was not highly organised and well co-ordinated like what we are seeing today.”

South Africa and Zimbabwe are rhino poaching hotspots, accounting for nearly all of the 470 rhinos killed in Africa between 2006 and 2009. Half of those killed were in Zimbabwe.

The slaughter this year has intensified in South Africa, where rhino poaching has doubled. Okari puts the shift down to the slashed population in Zimbabwe, particularly in state parks, and hardline controls that include poachers being shot dead.

The result is that the Lowveld region which lost 60 animals last year is now seeing more rhinos born than killed.

“If it was to continue at this level, we could see our population increase in time,” said Lowveld Rhino Trust operations co-ordinator Lovemore Mungwashu.

In addition to de-horning, conservationists in Zimbabwe are fitting rhinos with microchips or transmitters to track them, while mounting foot patrols armed in some areas with AK-47 assault rifles. They’re also conducting intelligence work to infiltrate the gangs.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority — which has a five-tonne store of severed rhino horns in Harare — estimates the country now has 400 critically endangered black and 300 less threatened white rhinos.

“At peak, we had close to 3,000 rhinos — that was in the early ’80s,” said national rhino coordinator Geoffreys Matipano who estimates the horns can fetch up to 20,000 dollars per kilogramme (2.2 pounds).

“If you compare it with the past few years, we have managed to contain rhino poaching in the country.”

The painless de-horning is seen as a deterrent but is short-term, expensive, time-consuming and risky with the notoriously unpredictable animals having to be supported with oxygen and sprayed with cooling water.

The trade is so lucrative that poachers will kill a rhino for two inches of horn, which grows back like a fingernail.

“De-horning is not a stand alone strategy. It has got to work with other strategies,” said Matipano.

For privately run reserves, the fight to protect Zimbabwe’s wildlife is relentless.

“We’ve got guys out 24/7 and monitoring things all the time,” said Colin Wendham of the Malilangwe reserve near Chiredzi, shortly before a furious rhino mother tried to attack his vehicle.

“It’s the only way that we’re keeping on top of things.”

While saying state parks still face continual declines, Du Toit believes agressive law enforcement alongside good monitoring can win the fight against the poachers.

“We’re dealing with very aggressive criminals,” he said as the team ear-notched a young female.

“These are not just impoverished local people out to just make a little money — these are focused professional criminals.”

Source: SGGP

UK unveils spending cuts to tackle huge deficit

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 at 11:04 am

LONDON (AFP) – Britain will unveil billions of pounds in public spending cuts Wednesday in a sweeping review of government expenditure expected to trigger half a million job losses as it tackles a huge deficit.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition wants to cut spending by 83 billion pounds (130 billion dollars, 95 billion euros) by 2014-15, and the review will reveal exactly where the axe will fall.

A job seeker (R) attends a work-finding workshop in east London. AFP file

In its biggest challenge since taking power in May, the coalition wants to eliminate Britain’s 154.7-billion-pound deficit — a legacy of the previous Labour government and the recession — over the next five years.

Finance minister George Osborne is expected to say his plans, which will see departmental spending reduced by an average of 25 percent, will map out “a hard road to a better Britain,” according to reports.

Osborne is set to brace the public sector for nearly 500,000 jobs to be culled over the next four years — a fact unwittingly revealed by a Cabinet minister who was photographed reading confidential briefing papers.

Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, was snapped Tuesday with the documents on his lap as he was driven away from his office.

Britain’s welfare and justice systems are expected to be hard hit, and the BBC is braced for a 16 percent cut to its budget in real terms over the next six years, the broadcaster’s website reported.

The coalition started the process Tuesday, announcing that it would shrink the country’s armed forces and scrap key assets like its flagship aircraft carrier in a defence review that forms part of the wider programme of cuts.

Cameron said 17,000 service personnel would go from the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy by 2015 — but vowed there would be “no cut whatsoever” to the level of support for forces in Afghanistan.

The harshness of the measures has worried some economists who fear they could plunge Britain’s economy back into recession, a concern shared by the opposition Labour party, which was ousted from power in the May election.

The International Monetary Fund has enthusiastically endorsed Osborne’s plans, and European governments are watching closely.

Trade unions have reacted with anger and thousands of union members and protesters rallied in London Tuesday, waving placards that said “Don’t Break Britain” and “No more cuts”.

Labour’s finance spokesman, Alan Johnson, has also warned that the cuts were being made “too deeply and too quickly”.

The scale of the cuts has provoked disquiet among some Liberal Democrats, the junior coalition partners, who fear they could cause lasting social damage.

Source: SGGP

Britons trust ministers on cuts, expect unfairness

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 10:25 am

Almost half of Britons think that major cuts in public spending due to be unveiled this week will be unfair but they trust ministers more than the opposition to fix the economy, a poll revealed Sunday.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government is due to unveil plans on Wednesday to cut 83 billion pounds (130 billion dollars, 95 billion euros) in government expenditure by 2014-15 to help pay off a record deficit.

A ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror newspapers revealed that despite Cameron’s vow that the cuts would be fairly distributed, just 30 percent expected them to be “fair” and 43 percent did not.

However, 45 percent of respondents said they trusted Cameron and his finance minister George Osborne to steer the economy out of recession, compared to 23 percent who trusted opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband and his team.

A man walks past the Bank of England. Almost half of Britons think that major cuts in public spending due to be unveiled this week will be unfair but they trust ministers more than the opposition to fix the economy, a poll revealed Sunday

Details of where the axe will fall in Wednesday’s spending review began to emerge this weekend, with some ministries set to suffer far more than others.

The health and international aid budgets are exempt from the cuts, and reports suggest the defence ministry will have to reduce spending by about eight percent — a tough job but one that could have been much worse.

By contrast, one newspaper report suggested the justice ministry would have to close more than 150 courts and send fewer peope to jail as it struggles to find savings of 30 percent.

Major cuts to the welfare budget are also expected, but the ComRes poll suggests people do not accept Cameron’s promise to protect the most vulnerable.

Some 56 percent believed the welfare changes would hit the elderly and the poorest in society, compared to 28 percent who said they would not.

Although Osborne says the cuts are “unavoidable”, there is little stomach for the inevitable job cuts — 600,000 over the next six years, according to government estimates.

Just 30 percent believed sacking thousands of people was a price worth paying to balance the books, compared to 47 percent who disagreed.

Instead, there was support for increasing taxes to pay off the deficit — 54 percent thought the top 50 percent rate of income tax should be increased to 60 percent.

ComRes interviewed 2,009 adults between Wednesday and Friday.

Source: SGGP

British defence cuts to be kept under 10 percent: BBC

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Britain’s Ministry of Defence will only face cuts of under 10 percent in the government’s punishing spending review next week, compared to 25 percent for many other departments, the BBC reported Saturday.

Finance Minister George Osborne had told the MoD to prepare cuts of at least 10 percent despite strong resistance from Defence Secretary Liam Fox and military chiefs.

But Prime Minister David Cameron intervened in the row and the MoD is now likely to face cuts of between seven and eight percent, the BBC said, adding there would be no substantial cuts in army personnel numbers.

Britain will announce full details of the cuts in a strategic defence review being unveiled Tuesday, which will outline a long-term vision for the military.

That comes the day before an overall spending review Wednesday which Cameron has said will reveal details of cuts of up to 25 percent in most departments.

But there has been particular controversy over reductions to the defence budget.

Britain currently has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, the second largest contingent after the United States but Cameron has indicated they will be withdrawn from combat by 2015 in a process which may start next year.

The premier’s reported intervention came after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the BBC Thursday she was worried that sharp spending cuts could damage the NATO military alliance.

The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that the new professional head of the British Army, General Peter Wall, had warned Cameron that operations in Afghanistan could be undermined by cuts in army numbers and training.

Wall plus Chief of the Defence Staff Jock Stirrup, the Navy’s head Admiral Mark Stanhope and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Stephen Dalton are all concerned about the potential impact of cuts.

Reports suggest that areas of defence expenditure under threat from the cuts include RAF bases, Harrier jets and navy frigates, although two promised new Royal Navy aircraft carriers will be delivered.

Source: SGGP

Greece cuts first-half budget defict by 42 percent

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm

The debt-ridden Greek government said on Monday it had met its budget-cutting target in the first half of the year, when according to the central bank the deficit was slashed by almost 42 percent.

The country “met its goal” in the first six months of 2010, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said.

The shortfall in the January to June period came to 11.450 billion euros (14.3 billion dollars), down from 19.685 billion in the first half of 2009, according to the central bank.

Papaconstantinou said the budget deficit in the first half amounted to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product.

In June the deficit narrowed to 1.906 billion euros from 5.057 billion a year earlier.

Papaconstantinou said the government would soon make public its estimate of the public deficit for the first half of the year.

“The goal for the year is to reduce the public deficit by 40 percent and we are doing better than that,” he said, adding that he had “guarded optimism” on the implementation of tough austerity measures — tax rises and public sector wage cuts — aimed at shoring up the country’s parlous public finances.

The Socialist government has committed itself to reducing the public deficit to 8.1 percent of output this year from its current level of 14 percent.

The austerity measures were approved by the administration in exchange for loans totalling 110 billion euros from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.


Source: SGGP

Britain faces aggressive cuts in ‘age of austerity’: minister

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Britain faces an “age of austerity” as the new coalition government readies aggressive cuts in public spending to slash the deficit, Treasury minister David Laws told the Financial Times on Saturday.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Laws, speaks during a news conference. (AFP Photo)

Laws, chief secretary to the Treasury in Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition, will outline plans on Monday to make 6.0 billion pounds (6.9 billion euros, 8.7 billion dollars) of cuts in the current 2010/2011 year.

“We are moving from an age of plenty to an age of austerity in the public finances,” Laws told the FT in his first newspaper interview since taking office on May 12.

“We will make that austerity as progressive as we can, by protecting the things and the people who need protecting.”

Laws, who is a Liberal Democrat, added that he was “mentally prepared for getting a lot of representations from angry people” when the cuts are made.

Cameron, whose Conservatives are in an unlikely alliance with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems, has made a key priority of tackling the deficit amid mounting concern about soaring debt levels in the eurozone.

Britain’s public finances have been ravaged by enormously expensive banking-sector bailouts, and a record-length recession that has slashed taxation revenues and ramped up expenditure.

In a rare piece of good news, revised data showed Friday that the deficit hit 156.1 billion pounds in 2009/2010, or 11.1 percent of GDP. That was lower than the previous estimate of 163.4 billion pounds — but was still a record.

“I haven’t quite worked out whether this is a dream or a nightmare,” Laws told the FT on Saturday, adding that the government was facing a choice between “the unpalatable and the disastrous” in its bid to balance the books.

Finance minister George Osborne, who is a Conservative, will meanwhile unveil an emergency budget on June 22.

“The budget is going to have to set out, in a really credible and decisive and aggressive way, the action that we’re going to have to take to reduce the deficit,” Laws said.

He added: “I do think that people … will understand that the public finances are in a complete mess, that we can’t just go on building up debt, not only because it risks the economy but it lands on future generations.

“And I think people understand that there are no easy choices and while people won’t want to see big cuts in certain areas of public spending, they don’t want to see vast increases in taxation either.

“They understand that George and I, and the government, have got a really difficult job to do, to reconcile these things.”


Source: SGGP

Rate cuts, credit growth make for a healthy financial market

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2010 at 8:51 am

Interest rate cuts and credit growth have injected vigor and strength into Vietnam’s financial market recently.

All state-owned commercial banks cut lending interest rates by 1 percent to 13 percent per year May 1, and many other commercial banks quickly followed suit.

LienVietBank said it has cut negotiable lending interest rate on short-term loans in VND by 0.5 percent per year while providing customers with good credit an additional 0.5-percent cut.

Dr. Nguyen Duc Huong, LienVietBank’s standing vice chairman, said the current trend monetary market watchers were seeing was commercial banks reducing lending rates to attract customers with good credit and efficient business operations.

Customers and agents process transactions at an Eximbank branch in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo: SGGP)
Military Commercial Joint Stock Bank has not yet officially announced its new interest rates, but has said that the new rates would “benefit borrowers.”

Many other commercial banks told SGGP that they were considering cutting operating expenses to lower lending interest rates, especially for short-term loans.

Banking experts said that the trend could send most lending interest rates 0.5-1 percent lower this month than those in late April.  

More cuts expected

Dr Cao Sy Kiem, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, told SGGP the drop in interest rates had not yet bottomed out.

“Compared to a few months ago, when the lending rate soared to 17-18 percent, current rates are affordable to most businesses. However, they should be lowered even further to boost the profitability of loans.”

Currently, lending rates on medium and long term loans remain high, at 14-14.5 percent per year, even 16 percent at some banks.

At a recent monthly Government meeting in April, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung instructed banks to lower lending and deposit interest rates to 12 and 10 percent respectively this year.

Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Bao, head of the Monetary Policy Department at the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), said the central lender was planning to adjust interest rates in line with the Prime Minister’s instructions. 

Duong Thu Huong, general secretary of the Vietnam Bankers Association, said the lending interest reduction should be carried out gradually, since many banks had previously received deposits at higher rates than current ones.

Deposit rates at commercial banks are now 11-11.5 percent, down 0.5-1 percent from late April, according to the SBV.

Ms. Huong pointed out that deposits would increase only once deposit interest rates are higher than the inflation rate. “Whether commercial banks can further lower deposit rates in the future depends a lot on the inflation situation,” she said.

Credit growth recovery

After a slowdown in the first quarter of the year, overall credit growth has recovered, the central bank said.  In April, credit expanded by 1.73 percent from March, with credit in VND expanding by 1.41 percent.

Compared to late last year, credit has now grown by 5.58 percent, meaning commercial banks can boost lending in the months to come, the state lender said.

After nearly a month-long slump, the selling price of US dollars at commercial banks has recovered. Over the past two days, a dollar has sold for VND19,060 at Vietcombank. However, on the open market, the rate was lower, at VND19,010. 

Along with the recovery of USD price, it has been rumored that the central bank will soon adjust the forex trading band.

Talking with SGGP yesterday, central bank governor Nguyen Van Giau said the rumor was groundless. “The foreign exchange market is now stable and we have no plan to adjust exchange rates,” he confirmed.

Source: SGGP