City Hall owes taxes since 2016 – GRA

first_imgCity Hall CoI… failed to issue pension payments for 19 monthsThe Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been awaiting payments from the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) for rates and taxes dating back to 2016, while there has also been examination of pension payments to a broker insurance company that has not been paid for the past 19 months.Officials from the GRA submitted their evidence at Friday’s Commission of Inquiry (CoI), where retired Justice Cecil Kennard continued to probe the matter with support from the legal assistant Sherwin Benjamin.Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Ron Simbhu told the Commission that City Hall is guilty of outstanding taxes, which have been owed for 2016, 2017 and 2018.While they were unable to divulge the amount as part of its agreements with the client, Simbhu positively stated that these payments were not made.Instances of outstanding payments continued throughout the hearing as the Deputy Managing Director of Insurance Brokers Guyana Limited, Ewart Adams was called to the stand to testify.It was related that for the past 19 months, the M&CC has not made any monetary payments to the company under its pension plan. It is understood that the Council was required to disburse the monies to the broker after which it would be distributed to the subject insurance company so that the pensioners can uplift their benefits.“The last payment of $776,523 was in February of 2017,” Adams said.It is estimated that over $14.5 million is unpaid for the pension plan, with an additional $9,566,304 for the fire and motor insurance payments.Adams indicated that the issue is of concern to the pensioners since they are not receiving their complete pensions. Furthermore, he noted that he would have tried to engage officials of the Council as to when the full payments would be made, as well as to have the pension plan registered.However, he “was given the royal runaround” by City Treasurer John Douglas.“I attempted to see the City Treasurer three weeks ago, without any success. He advised his secretary to check the following week. On my return to City Council the following week, it has not been rectified.”Upon expressing his dissatisfaction at the management and with the way the Council is functioning, the Deputy Managing Director is of the view that the entire body should be overhauled.“I do not know how they keep their records but I know in the past, we were approached to provide documents to the Mayor and City Council which would help them to reconstitute their financial affairs.”The inquiry comes at a time when numerous complaints were made by staffers of the Council and other agencies, regarding the expenditure and decisions which were taken by the Council. So far, it was heard that lands were leased by Town Clerk Royston King, which were not owned by the Council and he also reneged on a tax waiver for Giftland Mall. Additionally, over $70 million from the $500 million funding for the city restoration project is unaccounted for.Since September 21, 2018, the Town Clerk was instructed to proceed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. It was announced that the Deputy Town Clerk Sharon Munroe-Harry would perform the duties as acting Town Clerk.last_img read more

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Maradona apologises over Colombia-England referee slur

first_imgBut after a firm rebuke by football’s governing body the 1986 World Cup winner issued a mea culpa on Instagram.“Caught up by the excitement and support for Colombia the other day, I said some things that, I admit, are unacceptable.“My apologies to FIFA and its president (Gianni Infantino): even if sometimes my opinions are different to those of the referees I have total respect for their work.”He admitted that “although I sometimes have opinions contrary to those of referees, I have absolute respect for the work — not easy — which (FIFA) and the referees do.”Maradona, who had come out in support of Colombia following Argentina’s premature elimination, blamed Geiger for the South American side’s loss in an ill-tempered affair.He had told Venezuelan TV channel Telesur: “I apologise to all the Colombian people, but the players are not to blame.“Here is a gentleman (FIFA referees boss Pierluigi Collina) who decides to choose a referee who, if he had Googled him, (he would know) can’t be used for a match of this magnitude.”Geiger was suspended from international football for six months after several controversial decisions during a 2015 Gold Cup semi-final between Panama and Mexico.Maradona had attended the Colombia v England match as a guest of FIFA and was pictured before the game in Moscow wearing a Colombia shirt.FIFA had responded, saying it was “extremely sorry” to read the comments from “a player who has written the history of our game”.It added: “Furthermore, it also considers the additional comments and insinuations made as being entirely inappropriate and completely unfounded.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Diego Maradona claimed Colombia only lost to England because of US referee Matt Geiger © AFP / BENJAMIN CREMELMOSCOW, Russian Federation, Jul 5 – Diego Maradona has apologised for questioning the impartiality of the referee in charge of England’s last-16 penalty shootout win over Colombia.The Argentina legend had landed himself in hot water with FIFA over his outburst at US official Mark Geiger when he described England’s win on Tuesday as a “monumental robbery”.last_img read more

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Done right, urbanisation can boost living standards in Africa

first_imgAfrica is urbanising later and at a lower income level than other developing regions, which means policy makers can learn from the successes and failures of other countries. Done right, urbanisation could significantly raise both productivity and living standards across the continent. An aerial view of Lagos, the most populous city in Nigeria, the second fastest growing city in Africa – after Bamako in Mali – and the seventh fastest growing in the world. In 2014 Lagos was reported to have a metropolitan population of 21-million, making it the largest metropolitan area in Africa. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)Patricia Jones, University of OxfordSub-Saharan African countries are urbanising fast. Currently, 335-million people are living in urban areas across the continent and this number is expected to double in the next 25 years.But as African cities have grown so have their problems. They are more congested than they were a decade ago, commuting times have increased and there is growing evidence that air pollution is on the rise.Most African governments have found it difficult to expand public services and infrastructure fast enough to keep up with their growing populations. This has led to an expansion of informal settlements. According to UN Habitat, more than 60% of all residents in African cities now live in slums.But the news is not all bad. Most of Africa’s urbanisation is yet to come so there is still time to get things right. Africa is urbanising later and at a lower level of income than other developing regions (see graph below) which means that African policy makers can learn from the successes and failures of other countries. Done right, urbanisation has the potential to significantly raise both productivity and living standards across Africa.Figure 1: Urbanisation and developing regionsSource: Author’s calculation based on World Development Indicators (2012)Cities are engines of growthUrbanisation is central to the growth process. As countries develop, workers move from rural to urban areas in search of higher paying and more productive jobs. Similarly, entrepreneurs choose to locate their firms in cities where localised economies increase their productivity. This is why cities are viewed as engines of growth.Historical data support this view. Since the industrial revolution, cities have become centres for industrial production and, as cities grow, so have the countries where they are located. The robust relationship between levels of urbanisation and per capita income can be seen in data mapping trends of economic growth against urbanisation. (See graph below).Figure 2: Urbanisation and economic developmentSource: Author’s calculation based on World Development Indicators (2012)Economic growth happens when workers shift out of low-productivity activities such as agriculture and into high-productivity activities, such as manufacturing and some service activities. Urbanisation generates growth in two primary ways: urban jobs tend to be more productive than rural jobs and productivity changes are larger in urban areas than in rural areas.In poor countries, where the majority of workers are employed in agriculture, economic growth is driven primarily by rural to urban migration. For rich countries, economic growth is primarily driven by higher productivity changes in urban areas compared with rural areas.Cities are engines of growth for a range of other reasons too. It is cheaper to provide infrastructure when populations are large and people are densely packed together.Spatial proximity also makes it easier for individuals to learn from each other. There is increasing evidence that knowledge spillovers play a key role in raising the productivity of successful cities. In the United States, for example, a 10% rise in the percentage of workers with a college degree in cities leads to a 22% rise in per capita metropolitan product.What’s missing in African cities?Historically, the best way for a country to grow is by expanding its manufacturing sector (see graph below). Early industrialisation usually takes place in cities so industrialisation and urbanisation go hand in hand.The problem is that Africa is urbanising without industrialising. Few African cities are expanding their manufacturing sectors – at least not at the same rate as cities in other regions. This is a cause for concern because manufacturing jobs usually pay higher wages than those in agriculture and trade.Figure 3: Manufacturing and economic developmentSource: Author’s calculation based on World Development Indicators (2012).Across Africa, average wages are highest among miners and manufacturing workers. But the mining sector is capital-intensive which means that it employs fewer workers compared to other sectors. Therefore the best way to raise incomes is by increasing the number of manufacturing jobs.Where Africa’s cities are falling shortSuccessful cities serve two functions: they provide liveable environments for workers and their families, and they provide productive environments for businesses.The typical African city is achieving neither. Most African cities score low on every metric of livability such as housing quality, access to public services, and security of tenure.African cities also fall short in terms of productivity. Often firms are unable to take full advantage of being based in cities because of inappropriate regulations and massive under-investment in public infrastructure.On top of that, high urban costs make it difficult for African firms to compete on global markets.These constraints can be eased through better policies, particularly in relation to land access and business regulations.The way forwardGetting the most out of Africa’s rapid urbanisation won’t be easy. There needs to be a focus on proper co-ordination and effective planning.The biggest challenge is to understand how public policies can be used to optimise investments by households and firms. The development of a city is about three investment processes which build assets on land: investment in residential property, in commercial property and in infrastructure.The productivity of these three forms of investment is mutually inter-dependent. These interdependencies give rise to benefits that accrue to parties other than those making the investment (positive externality), which, to be optimised, require coordination through effective planning.Developing countries need to learn how to manage their urbanisation process. The key to success is not simply ensuring that the positive benefits outweigh the negative — it is about creating liveable and productive environments that promote sustained growth.Patricia Jones is Project Manager/Researcher (Urbanisation in Developing Countries) at University of Oxford.This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.last_img read more

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US hits back with WTO challenge against Canadas retaliatory tariffs

first_imgOTTAWA – The United States fired back Monday at the Canadian government’s retaliatory tariffs on American imports by launching a formal challenge with the World Trade Organization.The Trump administration also called countermeasures aimed at the U.S. by Canada and other trading partners “completely without justification under international rules.”The federal Liberal government introduced reciprocal duties earlier this month on some U.S. imports after the White House slapped Canada and others with tariffs on steel and aluminum.Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has called Washington’s metal tariffs absurd and illegal because they’ve been applied on the premise that Canada represents a national security threat to the U.S. Ottawa’s response has been $16.6-billion worth of countermeasures on imports of American steel, aluminum and consumer products.The U.S. took a fresh step Monday in the trade fight by filing separate disputes at the WTO against Canada — as well as the European Union, China, Mexico and Turkey — over each jurisdiction’s set of counter-tariffs on imports of American goods.“The actions taken by the president are wholly legitimate and fully justified as a matter of U.S. law and international trade rules,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.“Instead of working with us to address a common problem, some of our trading partners have elected to respond with retaliatory tariffs designed to punish American workers, farmers and companies.”Lighthizer added Monday that the countermeasures recently applied against the U.S. appear to breach WTO commitments. Resolving international trade disputes is a key role of the WTO.“The United States will take all necessary actions to protect our interests, and we urge our trading partners to work constructively with us on the problems created by massive and persistent excess capacity in the steel and aluminum sectors,” he said.Last month, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. tariffs against Canada and other allies were designed to force them into action to address the world’s overproduction and overcapacity of steel.Freeland has insisted that Canada introduced stronger safeguards on steel well before the U.S. imposed the tariffs.On this front, Ottawa feels it has more work to do. The federal government has said it’s consulting with industry so even more can be done to address the diversion and dumping of aluminum and steel in the Canadian market.On Monday, a spokesman for Freeland defended Ottawa’s retaliatory duties and argued they’re within Canada’s WTO and NAFTA rights.Adam Austen wrote in an email that it’s “a measured, perfectly reciprocal, dollar-for-dollar response to the U.S. tariffs.”“As Minister Freeland has said repeatedly, it is absurd to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the U.S.,” he said.“The tariffs imposed by the United States on Canadian steel and aluminum are unacceptable and illegal.”The unprecedented cross-border tensions have presented big challenges for the Canada-U.S. trading relationship. The hurdles include the stalled renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and President Donald Trump’s threats that he will impose new tariffs — this time on the automotive sector.There are widespread warnings that levies on the highly integrated Canada-U.S. auto sector would be far more damaging for the economy than the duties on steel and aluminum. In Canada, Ontario would easily suffer the biggest economic blow among of the provinces.The Trump administration is still considering the auto tariffs and, later this week, the U.S. Department of Commerce will hold hearings on whether it can impose them over national security concerns, much like it did for steel and aluminum.David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., is scheduled to testify Thursday at the hearings in Washington. Jim Wilson, the Ontario government’s minister for economic development and trade, will also present his arguments before the hearings.“I will be vigorously advocating for the Canadian and American jobs that depend on our historic trading relationship,” Wilson said in a statement Monday.“It is clear that Ontario is not a national security risk to the United States. In fact, the U.S. and Ontario share many of the same goals.”— Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitterlast_img read more

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Flex Alert issued for California as heat wave reaches peak in San

first_imgFlex Alert issued for California as heat wave reaches peak in San Diego County August 29, 2017 #ISO issues a #FlexAlert today, 8/29 to #ConserveEnergyfrom 2-9pm. More info & #energysavingtips at https://t.co/tu056Aqt2U #StayAlert pic.twitter.com/0b2loLsQFO— Flex Alert (@flexalert) August 29, 2017The California ISO issued a Flex Alert set to take effect Tuesday at 2 p.m. and extend until 9 p.m. During the voluntary alert period, residents were asked to turn off unnecessary lights, postpone using major appliances until after 9 p.m. and setting the air conditioning thermostat 78 degrees or higher. The hot spell, a byproduct of a “goliath” high-pressure system moving south from northern to southern Nevada, reached San Diego County’s deserts on Sunday.On Tuesday and Wednesday, record highs are expected in Chula Vista, Ramona and San Diego, forecasters said. Those in the east county should not expect the same rain that cooled things down Monday evening, as the location of the high-pressure system will decrease the chances of thunderstorm Tuesday and Wednesday.Due to the extreme heat, numerous public schools across the county will be on minimum-day schedules today, officials said.The weather should be slightly cooler from Thursday into the weekend, though temperatures will remain well above average for this time of year, the NWS advised.The agency reminded the public to never leave children, seniors or pets unattended in cars; to drink more water than usual and avoid alcohol, sugar and caffeine; to wear lightweight and light-colored clothing and wide-brimmed hats outdoors; and to take frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments. Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter KUSI Newsroom center_img KUSI Newsroom, SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A Flex Alert was issued  and Schools across the county had minimum-day schedules Tuesday as the “unrelenting” heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring across San Diego County was expected to peak Tuesday.Record-setting temperatures are forecast in Chula Vista, Ramona and San Diego, with the high temperatures now expected to last into the end of the week, the NWS said. As a public safety measure, an excessive-heat warning for the county’s inland valleys, western foothills and deserts was extended through 10 p.m. Friday after it was initially slated to expire Wednesday. A less serious heat advisory will be in effect for local coastal communities over the same period.Several desert and inland-valley locales logged afternoon highs in the triple digits Monday, including 114 degrees in Ocotillo Wells, 111 in Borrego Springs, 110 in Valley Center, 104 in Campo and 105 in Ramona, according to meteorologists. The latter community tied its record high for the date, set in 1981. The maximum thermometer readings in a few other local areas, according to the National Weather Service, came close to topping the 100 mark — 99 degrees in El Cajon and San Pasqual Valley; 98 in Alpine; and 96 in Escondido. Clouds, thunderstorms and scattered showers cooled things off for many inland communities later in the afternoon Monday.Conditions were considerably more pleasant closer to the ocean, with temperatures ranging from the high 60s to high 70s near the waterfront, and up into the mid-80s a bit farther east. Posted: August 29, 2017last_img read more

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Mans body washes ashore in Ocean Beach after witnesses report seeing man

first_img SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A man’s body washed ashore in Ocean Beach early Monday morning about three hours after witnesses reported that a man jumped off the pier, police said.Investigators believe the body that washed ashore was that of the man who jumped off the pier but were still working Monday morning to confirm that, San Diego police Sgt. Robert Hawkins said. It wasn’t immediately clear if the death was a suicide, an accident or something else.Witnesses reported the man jumping off the pier just after midnight, prompting an ultimately fruitless search of the water, Hawkins said. Lifeguards and police searched for the man in boats and from above on the pier and in helicopters.At 2:53 a.m., after emergency crews had already completed their initial search, a person flagged down police and pointed them toward a man’s body that washed ashore, Hawkins said. 10News reported that a witness told police the body was that of the man who jumped off the pier.Lifeguards and police were investigating the incident and the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office responded to take custody of the victim and determine the cause and manner of death. Man’s body washes ashore in Ocean Beach after witnesses report seeing man jump of OB Pier KUSI Newsroom Posted: March 5, 2018 KUSI Newsroom, March 5, 2018 Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitterlast_img read more

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