Thursday, 31 October 2013

World Bank willing to work with Nigeria on infrastructure development

At the just concluded 2013 IMF World Bank Group Meeting in Washington the Nigerian delegation led by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala attended meetings back to back and it was difficult tracking them down for a chat. It was at the end of the meetings on Sunday at 6 PM Washington time, that the minister finally had time to brief the Nigeria corps of reporters who converge at the World Bank building in the Washington cold.

Some were severing like ants but they have to wait for a staff of the World Bank to take them up to the office the Nigerian delegation shared with other African countries. Perhaps because of the tight schedule, the CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who usually spices up the briefing was absent. His voice of support for the minister was missed.

What was discussed at the various inside the IMF/World Bank Group Annual Meetings?

Outside of finding out what is happening with the economics of the Globe and what precautions or actions we need to take as Nigerians, is the advice that the Bretten Woods Institutions are giving members and I think they was one or two key messages that came out of this meeting.

The first is that the IMF as well as the World Bank feels that the global environment is still quite uncertain, even though growth is recovering in the euro zone and in the U.S. But there is still some uncertainties. I think the growth projections have actually been revised down and I can give you the numbers, but what is worrying almost everybody is the two twin impasses that exist in the US.

The impasse over the budget that is the fiscal impasse in the US and the second is the impasse over the lifting of the debt ceiling for which a dead line will be reached this Thursday and if they do not resolve it. It means the US technically will default on its debt, which is not acceptable, and has never happened. This could create adverse movement in interest rates and other parameters within the world economy which could in fact trigger some serious consequences. Every delegate was more or less saying that it will be very helpful to the rest of the world if the US Congress and the Government could resolve this so as to remove the uncertainties that this is creating in the global market.

What are the institutions saying of emerging economies?

Against this picture however, the emerging market countries have also seen slowed growth. Several of them like India have seen growth up to five per cent, Brazil, South Africa they have all seen slower growth. The low income countries are growing robustly and in Africa as you know they are predicting more than five per cent growth for the continent. I think the key issues that that were analyzed are that what could be the vulnerabilities, what are the interconnections, what could be the spillover effect as the economists call them from all this uncertainties. Also of the emerging markets what does this mean to them. These are some of the issues that were talked about

Any suggestions on what countries should do?

More importantly what do countries need to do to protect themselves from these uncertainties? Their advice for countries such as ours is to build buffer strongly which means you should build up your reserves, put aside some savings because you do not know what else is going to happen, manage your expenditures better to protect yourself in case the world should slip back into a recession or other adverse consequences could occur because of these uncertainties. Those are the kind of things that we learned here for us specifically in terms of our macro economics management. Those are the things we have to take into account.

What is Nigeria delegation taking home from the meetings?

Now for Nigeria in addition to hearing this advise, we also heard some very good news and that good news came on two fronts the World Bank Group, that is the World Bank IFC arm through the World Bank President has made known that they want Nigeria to be one of the focus country in Sub-Saharan Africa for their efforts on infrastructure development particularly power which means they are willing to work with Nigeria to invest hundreds of millions of dollars.

They have a lending programme of about 100 billion dollars a year but they are willing to use that to pull in more resources from the US through the power Africa initiative from the private sector using the office of IFC to help us address infrastructure problem. So the World Bank is planning to set up infrastructure facilities unit that has just been put together and been talked about and they also said that when this is done, Nigeria will be one of the first countries they will like to be a beneficiary of this giving its large size infrastructure needs.

Which sector are they focusing on?

They want to concentrate on power, as I said and they are already actively working with several private sector power companies that want to invest in Nigeria. They are also promising to give us another seven hundred million dollar in guarantees for the power sector, IBRD guarantees as well as willingness to invest 700 million dollars in transmission.

Are they interested in the power sector only?

We also discuss with them a social safety net issues. We discuss with them how to improve employment creation, how to help those at the bottom end of the ladder who may not even benefit from jobs and they are planning a social safety net programnme of about 400 million dollars which they are going to prepare with us, it is actually called social safety net programme which will support some ongoing work that we are doing like saving one million lives programme, that helps with maternal mortality.

There is conditional cash transfers to help improve maternal and infant mortality ratios, train health workers, train mid-wive’s to deliver this services and to improve the nutrition, children immunisation, HIV Aids and malaria. They want to assist with the health related issues and also to provide a source of income at the bottom end of the ladder, they have put aside some money for that.

We also got pledges to help with our statistics. I think the chief statistician is ready to help us improve our statistics. On a general note we got a lot of commendation for the agenda budgeting programme that Mr. President launched in 2013 budget. We had another high level meeting looking at women empowerment and Nigeria got a lot of praise for the effort the president has made in getting more women into the cabinet but most importantly, the concrete effort we are making in the budget with this Gender budgeting.

As you know, we have five pilot ministries, ministry of women affairs and our self’s are working with which we announced in last year’s budget that they integrate into their mainstream the goal of getting women empowered within their programmes. If they do so they will get additional budget and we set aside three billion naira as incentive for that.

This programme has gotten a lot of notice. The Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Communications and Technology, Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Works and Ministry of Health are all participating in this pledge and each one has pledged to meet the goal.

Works has pledged that they will get about 200 women, they plan to mainstream attention to women by training women contractors and sub contractors trying to make sure that some contracts are awarded to women owned businesses within the works ministry and training women contractors in both health, agriculture communication technology have come together to say that they will want to reach about 5 million women with mobile telephone that can allow them have an E-wallet system for their agriculture input, fertilizers and seeds.

They can also receive extension messages on those phones telling them how to plant their crops. They can also receive advise on health through those phones and that will be a very important addition, so these are some of the things we did through that gender programme and we presented it here and it was highly acclaimed actually to the point where they said they were going to get community of finance ministers in other countries to try these approach of integrating gender into their budget.

Did you meet with any other development partner?

We also had meetings here with the USASID and they also made some pledges. The administrator of USASID said they will also want to work with us on the power sector in co-financing with the world bank They came to work with us previously on social the safety net as well and U know, they are willing to put some existing monies to rearrange that into additional programmes for us in those areas.

So really, what we saw here was a whole lot of excitements and support for what Nigeria is trying to achieve.

Why Standard and Poor rating now?

The other bit of good news is that the ratings agencies met with us to finalise their ratings and that the first one has reported which is Standard and Poor, you already have that out in the news. They reaffirmed Nigeria’s strong, economic position whilst admitting that the country faces challenges which we all know, so that has not been hidden under the table.

They have talked about the issue of short fall in oil and oil theft, they have talked about the employment issues, the inequalities issues, all these things are on the table but in spite of all that, they recognise the attractiveness of Nigeria as an investments destinations and the strong macroeconomic management that is underpinning the country’s economy as well as the strong growth prospect, you know, so we got that news, so we are waiting for, which say by next week and eventually down the lines for Moody’s own assessment.

Is the Nigeria Sovereign wealth planning to invest in infrastructure?

Absolutely, the NSWF, is here also, although I have not seen them, but I know they have been around, they have been talking with IFC, and you know, the NSWF is looking at several infrastructure project, I think they have already announced that their board has approved their participation in second Niger Bridge. They are looking at several other projects from some dam, irrigation and water projects in the north of the country to other infrastructure projects in the south of the country, so they are looking and will be announcing their investments decisions soon.

That’s going on, and they are actually pulling in, as you know, like they are talking to IFC which might co-invest with them; other sovereign wealth funds are also looking forward to co-investing. They are even trying to pull pension funds; but that is going on whilst at the same time, this effort to increase infrastructure financing from other organisations, they are all working in parallel but also talking to each other.

You know, so the Sovereign Wealth Fund is doing all of these but this is an additional effort by the world bank to help us finance transmission, yeah we had to raise $1.9 billion, there is an emergency assistance programme that the ministry of power has said it is necessary to get our transmission going and that is over the next two to three years.

Why is a World Bank guarantee needed for power?

Because we have so many independent providers generating power so we are signing many power purchase agreement and many of them want to be backed by guarantee.

She further to said that “on the guarantees there were no special conditionality as this was going to support the private sector, so all they want is that the sector investment itself is buyable and that we have signed a proper power project agreement that protects the private investor and also protects government. And in other for the private sector to access this guarantee there may be specific things within the private sector project that they may want them to do.

What are these multilateral agencies really trying to do with Nigeria?

What they are really trying to do is helping us to mitigate risk, with private sector investing in the power sector, there is risk. These multilateral agencies intervention is meant to make them more comfortable, since we are developing into a private market for power in a way we never did, their participation will make investors comfortable to participate in this because this money is there to back and provide a guarantee in case their investment do not quite work out in a way that they thought.

Because we have so many independent providers generating power so we are signing many power purchase agreement and many of them want to be backed by guarantee.

What is the conditionality attached to these guarantees?

There is no special conditionality attached to the guarantees as this is to support the private sector, so all they want is that the sector investment itself is buyable and that Nigeria has signed a proper power project agreement that protects the private investor and also protects government. In order for the private sector to access this guarantee there may be specific things within the private sector project that they may want them to do.

But what they are really trying to do is helping us to mitigate risk, private sector investing in the power sector there is risk, this is meant to make them more comfortable, since we are developing into a private market for power in a way we never did, makes them comfortable to participate in this because this money is there to back stop and provide a guarantee in cause their investment don’t quite work out in a way that they thought.

How will Nigeria hedge against the uncertainty discussed at these meetings?

We need to step up the buffers that we have, we need to improve our revenue base because that’s also a way of stepping up the buffers and we are targeting non-oil revenue, so we starting may be two weeks from now efforts of the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS, to plug the leakages and step up our tax collection.


According to Markenzy 65 per cent of companies in Nigeria which paid taxes two years ago have not filed recent returns. We want to know why. If we find them out, we will make them pay and that will be another source of revenue.75 per cent of companies that have registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission CAC, have not filed in their taxes returns, we want to know if these companies are real. Also companies that have been benefiting from some tax relief and incentives which have expired, we are going to audit them all.

Source: (Vanguard)

Monday, 28 October 2013

Monkey Business in Indonesia

Security forces are fanning out across Jakarta conducting raids to rescue macaques used in popular street masked monkey performances in a move aimed at improving public order and preventing diseases carried by the monkeys.

A volunteer removes cages containing monkeys confiscated from street performers upon arrival at an animal quarantine facility to have their condition checked in Jakarta, Indonesia.


A trained monkey that has had his teeth pulled out reacts as it is being photographed in its cage at a village where many street performers live, in Jakarta, Indonesia.







A busker and his monkey flee upon spotting city security officers during a raid to round up street monkeys in Jakarta, Indonesia.








Health officials hold a monkey confiscated from a street performer that apparently has had its teeth pulled out, as they check his condition at an animal quarantine facility in Jakarta, Indonesia.







A handler trains a monkey at a village where many street performers live, in Jakarta, Indonesia.








A monkey confiscated from a street performer sits inside a cage upon arrival at an animal quarantine facility to have its condition checked in Jakarta, Indonesia.







A street monkey wears a baby doll mask as it performs in a slum in Jakarta, Indonesia.








A street monkey clings on the back of a busker who is caught by city security officers in Jakarta, Indonesia.








City security officers escort a monkey busker as he was caught on a street in Jakarta, Indonesia








A street monkey performs in a slum in Jakarta, Indonesia..








A busker gives his monkey a drink given by a city security officer after they were caught in a raid to round up street monkeys in Jakarta, Indonesia.


Please check out in your locality or country if monkeys are  not used for business making..Any clips to share?

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Saudi Arabia women to defy government ban

A mass protest is due to be held in Saudi Arabia against the ban on women from driving.

Authorities have warned that anyone breaking the law is likely to face an unspecified punishment.

About 17,000 people signed a petition calling either for women to be allowed to drive or for an explanation of why the prohibition should remain in force.


The authorities in Saudi Arabia have stepped up warnings to women not to defy a ban on female drivers by taking part in a mass driving protest.

A campaign activist, Zaki Safar, said that this was an unusually explicit statement of the ban, which is informal rather than enshrined in Saudi law.

"It is no longer an issue of a social choice - that the government does not itself support the ban,"  said Mr Safar a campaign activist


He added that "No, the spokesman was very clear. And any woman who drives on the 26th will face punishment."

Can Rand Paul put a hold on the nomination of Janet Yellen?

Sen. Rand Paul is threatening to put a hold on the nomination of Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve, unless he gets a vote on a bill he has sponsored to put the central bank under more scrutiny.

Paul is insisting on a vote on his Fed transparency bill, and has informed Senate leadership of his intentions, the source said.

"As part of Senate consideration of the Janet Yellen nomination to be Chair of the Federal Reserve, I will request a vote on my bipartisan Federal Reserve Transparency Act, S. 209. The American people deserve transparency from the federal reserve and the federal government as a whole," Paul said in a statement following the reports.

The ability of Paul to single-handedly block the nomination "should not be overstated." Paul would need 40 other senators to back his effort to block Yellen's nomination; otherwise, Senate leadership could defeat his blocking effort, according to Senate Democratic aide

Although hearings have not yet been scheduled, the aide said the leadership at this point is confident the nomination will succeed.

Paul intends to formally put the hold in place next week, once the Senate is back in session, the source added.

The senator's bill would mandate a complete audit of the Federal Reserve.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One that the paperwork for the nomination had been submitted to the Senate, paving the way for formal consideration.

"We look forward to the Senate confirming her swiftly and in a bipartisan fashion for this very important role," he said.


European Council Meeting

Over the past two days, the European Council discussed how to improve the competitiveness and resilience of our economies, focusing on the digital market and on the banking union. We also discussed migration flows in the light of the recent tragedy in #Lampedusa. Read my final remarks: http://ow.ly/qbjf9  r have a look at the roundup video: http://ow.ly/qb0Y9.

Friday, 25 October 2013

European Council Roundup, October 24-25, 2013

Kerry - Another budget gridlock will damage U.S. leadership abroad

United States could suffer more lasting damage to its influence abroad if the next round of budget talks in a few months lead to another breakdown.

The recent 16-day shutdown had raised questions among key allies about whether Washington can be counted on to lead - whether it is in talks with Iran, Middle East peace negotiations or completing an Asia-Pacific trade deal.

"What we do in Washington matters deeply to them, and that is why a self-inflicted wound like the shutdown that we just endured can never happen again," Kerry told the Center of American Progress policy think tank.

"The simple fact is that the shutdown created temporary but real consequences in our ability to work with our partners and pursue our interests abroad," Kerry added.

Kerry's warning about future U.S. credibility was more forceful at home than abroad.

In Asia recently where he stood in for President Barack Obama at summits in Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, Kerry dismissed the protracted budget negotiation in Washington as a "moment in politics" and assured countries it would not hurt U.S. commitments to the region.

But back in Washington on Thursday after several weeks of non-stop travel in Asia and Europe, Kerry said the shutdown had affected confidence in the United States abroad.

"This political moment was far more than just symbolism, far more than just a local fight. It matters deeply to our power and to our example," he said. "While this chapter is temporarily over, we've got another date looming, and the experience has to serve as a stern warning to all."

"Make no mistake, the greatest danger to America doesn't come from a rising rival," Kerry said, "It comes from the damage that we're capable of doing by our own dysfunction and the risks that will arise in a world that may see restrained or limited American leadership as a result."

U.S. lawmakers reached a last-minute deal earlier in October to break the fiscal impasse and avert a crippling debt default, but it promises another budget battle in a few months. Under the deal, a House-Senate negotiating committing will be formed to examine a broader budget agreement, with a deadline of December 13.

The deal funds the government until January 15 and raises the debt ceiling to February 7.

Kerry said America's allies were watching the budgets talks closely.

He said that while news headlines in the United States focused on political party wrangling, fresh opinion polls and the impasse's consequences for the 2016 presidential race, foreign leaders were more interested in the U.S. ability to lead.

"I personally have every confidence we can and that we are, but others are going to need to see us steer a steady course in order to rebuild their confidence," Kerry said, "In the days to come, if we let domestic differences overwhelm diplomacy, those differences will undermine our shared values and most importantly our shares interests."


"The question no longer is whether our politics stops at the waters edge, but whether our politics stops us from providing the leadership that the world needs," he added.

Not business as usual with Washington - Germany's defense Minister

European leaders united in anger as they attended a summit overshadowed by reports of widespread U.S. spying on its allies — allegations German Chancellor Angela Merkel said had shattered trust in the Obama administration and undermined the crucial trans-Atlantic relationship.

The latest revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency swept up more than 70 million phone records in France and may have tapped Merkel's own cellphone brought denunciations Thursday from the French and German governments.

Merkel's unusually stern remarks as she arrived at the European Union gathering indicated she wasn't placated by a phone conversation she had Wednesday with President Barack Obama, or his personal assurances that the U.S. is not listening in on her calls now.

"We need trust among allies and partners," Merkel told reporters in Brussels. "Such trust now has to be built anew. This is what we have to think about."

"The United States of America and Europe face common challenges. We are allies," the German leader said. "But such an alliance can only be built on trust. That's why I repeat again: spying among friends, that cannot be."

The acting German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle speaks after his meeting with the US ambassador …

The White House may soon face other irked heads of state and government. The British newspaper The Guardian said Thursday it obtained a confidential memo suggesting the NSA was able to monitor 35 world leaders' communications in 2006. The memo said the NSA encouraged senior officials at the White House, Pentagon and other agencies to share their contacts so the spy agency could add foreign leaders' phone numbers to its surveillance systems, the report said.

The Guardian did not identify who reportedly was eavesdropped on, but said the memo termed the payoff very meager: "Little reportable intelligence" was obtained, it said.

Other European leaders arriving for the 28-nation meeting echoed Merkel's displeasure. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt called it "completely unacceptable" for a country to eavesdrop on an allied leader.

If reports that Merkel's cellphone had been tapped are true, "it is exceptionally serious," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told national broadcaster NOS.

"We want the truth," Italian Premier Enrico Letta told reporters. "It is not in the least bit conceivable that activity of this type could be acceptable."

Echoing Merkel, Austria's foreign minister, Michael Spindelegger, said, "We need to re-establish with the U.S. a relationship of trust, which has certainly suffered from this."

France, which also vocally objected to allies spying on each other, asked that the issue of reinforcing Europeans' privacy in the digital age be added to the agenda of the two-day summit. Before official proceedings got under way, Merkel held a brief one-on-one with French President Francois Hollande, and discussed the spying controversy.

After summit talks that lasted until after 1 a.m. Friday, Herman Van Rompuy, European Council president, announced at a news conference that France and Germany were seeking bilateral talks with the United States to resolve the dispute over electronic spying by "secret services" by the end of this year.

"What is at stake is preserving our relations with the United States," Hollande told reporters at his own early-morning news conference. "They should not be changed because of what has happened. But trust has to be restored and reinforced."

"It's become clear that for the future, something must change — and significantly," Merkel said. "We will put all efforts into forging a joint understanding by the end of the year for the cooperation of the (intelligence) agencies between Germany and the U.S., and France and the U.S., to create a framework for the cooperation."

View gallery."Artist A. Signl, of the artist group Captain Borderline …
Artist A. Signl, of the artist group Captain Borderline paints the mural 'Surveillance of the fittes …
The Europeans' statements and actions indicated that they hadn't been satisfied with assurances from Washington. On Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama personally assured Merkel that her phone is not being listened to now and won't be in the future.

"I think we are all outraged, across party lines," Wolfgang Bosbach, a prominent German lawmaker from Merkel's party, told Deutschlandfunk radio. "And that also goes for the response that the chancellor's cellphone is not being monitored — because this sentence says nothing about whether the chancellor was monitored in the past."

"This cannot be justified from any point of view by the fight against international terrorism or by averting danger," Bosbach said.

Asked on Thursday whether the Americans had monitored Merkel's previous communications, White House spokesman Carney wouldn't rule it out.

"We are not going to comment publicly on every specified alleged intelligence activity," he said.

But while the White House was staying publicly mum, Carney said the Obama administration was discussing Germany's concerns "through diplomatic channels at the highest level," as it was with other U.S. allies worried about the alleged spying.


Obama adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism Lisa Monaco wrote in an editorial for USA Today that the U.S. government is not operating "unrestrained."

The U.S. intelligence community has more restrictions and oversight than any other country, she wrote. "We are not listening to every phone call or reading every e-mail. Far from it."


Monaco noted that a privacy and civil liberties oversight board is reviewing counterterrorism efforts to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are protected.

"Going forward, we will continue to gather the information we need to keep ourselves and our allies safe, while giving even greater focus to ensuring that we are balancing our security needs with the privacy concerns all people share," she wrote.

In the past, much of the official outrage in Europe about revelations of U.S. communications intercepts leaked by former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden seemed designed for internal political consumption in countries that readily acknowledge conducting major spying operations themselves. But there has been a new discernible vein of anger in Europe as the scale of the NSA's reported operations became known, as well as the possible targeting of a prominent leader like Merkel, presumably for inside political or economic information.

"Nobody in Germany will be able to say any longer that NSA surveillance — which is apparently happening worldwide and millions of times — is serving solely intelligence-gathering or defense against Islamic terror or weapons proliferation," said Hans-Christian Strobele, a member of the German parliamentary oversight committee.

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said Europe's undermined confidence in the U.S. meant it should suspend negotiations for a two-way free-trade agreement that would account for almost half of the global economy. The Americans, Schulz said, now must prove they can be trusted.

"Let's be honest. If we go to the negotiations and we have the feeling those people with whom we negotiate know everything that we want to deal with in advance, how can we trust each other?" Schulz said.

European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said for many Europeans, eavesdropping on their phone calls or reading their emails is particularly objectionable because it raises the specter of totalitarian regimes of the recent past.

"At least in Europe, we consider the right to privacy a fundamental right and it is a very serious matter. We cannot, let's say, pretend it is just something accessory," Barroso told a presummit news conference.

Referring to the former East Germany's secret police, the feared Stasi, Barroso said, "to speak about Chancellor Merkel, in Germany there was a part of Germany where there was a political police that was spying on people's lives every day. So we know very recently what totalitarianism means. And we know very well what comes, what happens when the state uses powers that intrude in people's lives. So it is a very important issue, not only for Germany but for Europe in general."

In Berlin, the German Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to stress how seriously it takes the reported spying on Merkel. Germany's defense minister said his country and Europe can't return "to business as usual" with Washington, given the number of reports that the United States has eavesdropped on allied nations.

A German parliamentary committee that oversees the country's intelligence service met to discuss the spying allegations. Its head, Thomas Oppermann, recalled previous reports to the panel that U.S. authorities had denied violating German interests, and said, "we were apparently deceived by the American side."

Meanwhile, two Western diplomats told The Associated Press that U.S. officials have briefed them on documents obtained by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that might expose their respective countries' levels of intelligence cooperation with the U.S.

The diplomats said the briefings came from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The Washington Post said some of the documents Snowden took contain sensitive material about collection programs against adversaries including Iran, Russia and China. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the intelligence briefings publicly.



Thursday, 24 October 2013

Too much credit, not enough savings: Indonesian bankers

Indonesia needs to hit the brakes on its too-fast lending expansion trend as growth for loans has outpaced that of deposits for too long, according to a foreign bank representative .

“Over the last three years, we have seen 20 to 22 per cent credit growth for the whole banking sector which is a lot, and I think a slowdown is now realistic,” Joseph Abraham, chairman of the Foreign Banks Association of Indonesia (FBAI), said late on Tuesday.

FBAI members encompass 26 foreign lenders, including ANZ, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, BNP Paribas, Commonwealth Bank, DBS Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and Standard Chartered.

Foreign banks have been among those enjoying the most from Indonesia’s lucrative banking sector.

The latest statistics from Bank Indonesia (BI) shows that lending growth for foreign banks stood at 25 per cent, to reach 210 trillion rupiah (US$18.7 billion) as of August this year, outpacing the industry’s average of 22.2 per cent.

But deposits failed to grow as strong as loans, with foreign banks’ third-party deposit growth rate sitting at only 9 per cent in the same period this year to reach 167 trillion rupiah. This rate was below the industry’s average of 13.5 per cent.

With the widening gap between the two growth rates, the banking sectors may face liquidity problems due to a rising loan-to-deposit ratio, which eventually would curtail banks’ lending, thus, squeezing their profits.

The ratio, calculated by dividing total outstanding loans by total deposits, now stood at 88 per cent, higher than 79 per cent recorded last year.

Competition for deposits is also fierce among local banks. Second quarter financial reports show that the deposit-lending growth shortfall of big lenders Bank Central Asia (BCA) and Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) topped 9.5 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively.

The gap between lending and deposit growth rates in the industry is now around 9 per cent on average, a level that analysts consider alarming.

“Deposits are growing by 13 per cent and lending by 22 per cent, this cannot be sustained in the long run,” said Abraham, himself also president director of Australia-based Bank ANZ Indonesia.

“You have to ensure there’s enough liquidity [...] and NPLs [non-performing loans] do not rise too fast when we have rapid expansion.”

Abraham said the central bank had been “sensible” with its recent monetary tightening policies as the country needed to have steadier, more sustainable growth in the sector.

BI raised its key interest rate by 150 basis points to 7.25 per cent this year to balance lending and deposit growth as higher interest rates would discourage banks from channeling excessive lending, while at the same time persuading people to save more.

However, BI Deputy Governor Halim Alamsyah said it might take one-and-a-half years for the interest rate policy to affect lending growth.

But the impact, he said, would be expedited by decelerating economic growth, given the high sensitivity of lending toward domestic demand.

He predicted that Indonesia’s credit growth might stay at above 20 per cent next year, with some election-related activities, in particular, contributing to lending expansion among local banks.

To survive in a tight-liquidity environment, many local lenders have been offering high interest rates to attract big depositors.

The world has lost a gentle giant.


Giant George, verified as the world’s tallest dog by Guinness World Records, died last Thursday, one month before his eighth birthday.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce Giant George died on Thursday, October 17, 2013,” his owners, David and Christine Nasser, posted on GiantGeorge.com. “George passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones … We appreciate the love and support you have given Giant George over the last several years.”

Giant George, 3 feet, 7 inches from paw to his shoulder and almost seven feet long, was known for his appearance on shows like “Live with Regis & Kelly” and “Good Morning America.”

The Great Dane, owned by Dave and Christie Nasser, was actually the runt of the litter, according to the website.

“Eager to play … this big Great Dane was scared of water, scared of dogs a fraction of his size and, most of all, scared of being alone,” the site said.

The owners donated a percentage of Giant George merchandise to animal charities and in 2011, donated more than $500 to a Japanese animal shelter after the country was hit hard by both an earthquake and tsunami.

Family, friends and fans have all posted to George’s Facebook page with their condolences.

“Thanks to the Nasser family for sharing him with the world. He will be missed,” one fan wrote.

Giant George: Great Dane Is World's Tallest Dog

Giant George: Great Dane Is World's Tallest Dog: ABCNEWS.COM - At over 245 pounds, George is almost 100 pounds bigger than other Great Danes.

Warren Buffett on Jamie Dimon, ‘Breaking Bad,’ and – oh yeah – his kid’s new book


Last week he showed up on the airwaves to decry the budget standoff in Washington, which pushed the U.S. to the brink of default (though how close is still up for debate). This time the Oracle had his son Howard Graham Buffett and grandson Howard Warren Buffett in tow to stir up publicity for their new book.

“40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World,” chronicles stories that the younger two Buffetts gathered through their work on hunger and conservation in the world’s poorest countries. Howard G. Buffett described it as a call to action: “If we were doing so well, we wouldn’t have a billion people going to bed hungry,” HGB said on NBC’s “Today” show.

But conversations shifted, as they inevitably do when Mr. Buffett is in the house, to business. Here’s more from the patriarch:

-On the botched roll-out of the federal health care exchange website, which has made critics call for the head of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “I’m a friend of Kathleen’s and I’m a friend of hers when she’s in trouble,” Buffett told CNN. “I like Kathleen,  I feel sorry for her in the position she’s in. Obviously it’s a huge screw up, but it’ll get worked out.”

-On J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.’s  JPM 0.17% presumed $13 billion settlement with the government: Banks threatened with criminal prosecution have no room to negotiate: “You’ve got to be like a wolf that bares its throat when it gets to the end,” Buffett told Bloomberg TV.  It would have been best if Jamie Dimon had secured more protection from future lawsuits when he bought Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, but “there wasn’t even time for that sort of thing.” “This country is a lot better off because Jamie Dimon has been running J.P. Morgan.”

-On the budget standoff that ended last week: Politicians should not harness the threat of default as a political weapon, and getting rid of the debt ceiling would be best. If politicians go down the same path again, he said on CBS,“they’re out of their minds, and I hope that when the 2014 elections come, people remember.”

-On who will take over Berkshire Hathaway  BRKB 0.15% : “We’ll start with me dying tomorrow morning,” Buffett said on Bloomberg TV. “The board of directors would meet, probably by telephone initially. They know exactly who they would put in as CEO. And that CEO will be terrific, and in many, many respects much better than I am. ” (His son, for the record, would become non-executive chairman.)


-On the finale of “Breaking Bad”: “I love Vince Gilligan (the show’s creator) but I couldn’t get it out of him,” Buffett said on Bloomberg TV. “I thought it was a terrific ending. Walter White’s gone on to his reward, but maybe I can be his successor. Who knows?”

Lawmakers Bemoan: Devaluation of the Naira and its Negative affect on the Nigerian Economy

The House of Representatives Lamented over the continuous devaluation of the naira and has summoned the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to brief it on steps being taken to check the continuous devaluation of the naira.

This resolution of a motion sponsored by Odebunmi Dokun ‎on the need to check the trend which has the potential to negatively affect the Nigerian economy.


The lawmakers also mandated its committees ‎on finance, banking and currency and national planning and economic development to undertake the assignment and present the report to the House within six weeks.

Time for questions and answers.....lets see what the outcome will result to. Any comment?


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Iran oil at a discounted price to get old customers back

The Iranian government is considering giving crude price discounts to its former customers as long as Western sanctions against it can be eased in the future, said a senior oil official on Tuesday, in the hopes of seeing a return to their old market share, which had been lost to other Middle Eastern nations.



According to Mohsen Ghamsari, head of trading at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Tehran had been contacted by a number of their old customers to discuss potential future exports, following positive remarks by new Iranian President Hassam Rouhani regarding his country’s nuclear programme during the United Nations general assembly last month.


Ghamsari added that a possible Iranian return could see global oil prices pushed down, emphasising the positives for both Iran and international markets.

"Naturally, a resupply of Iran's crude oil on the world markets will result in oil price cuts,” said Ghamsari to the Shana news agency, as cited by Reuters.

"Iran's oil price can easily compete with the neighbouring oil producers… But as oil minister Bijan Zanganeh has said before, if the international circumstances become normal, in order to gain back our traditional markets, if necessary, one of Iran's leverages in this regard is price,” he added, according to Platts.


"Given the new circumstances, a large number of traditional buyers of Iranian oil are making the preparations and providing the facilities for raising their oil purchase from Iran," he further said.

Only five countries – China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey – are still buying Iranian oil. After the U.S. and E.U. imposed sanctions on Iran for its nuclear programme last year, all E.U. countries have stopped buying oil from the Middle Eastern state, slashing Iran’s crude exports from around 2.3 million bpd to 1 million bpd.



Tehran, having opened new rounds of talks with the West on the nuclear issue, hopes to see the sanctions removed in the next few months.


"The Iranians are calling around already saying let's talk ... You have to be careful, of course, but there is no law against talking," told a high-level oil trader, whose company is among many that stopped buying Iran's oil because of sanctions, to Reuters.

Some analysts however warn that Iran’s re-entry into the global market may be tough given that supply is already exceeding demand internationally – due to a spike in Saudi output, weaker demand growth in Asia and a decline in demand in Europe.

"It's a different market. It's a market that has a greater degree of supply than the market they, Iranians, exited," said a trader with an oil major, who used to buy Iranian oil.

"Without any constraint in place, OPEC could find itself pumping some 4 million bpd above the forecast call (on its oil). Broken budgets and recriminations between OPEC members are the most obvious fallout," added David Hufton from PVM brokerage.


Over 10 mn BBM downloads on rival phones in 24 hrs of launch


Canadian handset maker BlackBerry said its popular chat application BBM for rival Android-based handsets and iPhones has witnessed over 10 million downloads in the first 24 hours of its re-launch.

The struggling smartphone maker had yesterday resumed the rollout of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

"It's been 24 hours since we resumed the launch of BBM for Android  and iPhone. And what a day it's been! We've already had more than 10 million downloads of BBM," BlackBerry EVP (BBM) Andrew Bocking said in a post on the company's official blog.

In September, BlackBerry had paused the global rollout of its instant messaging service BBM on rival phones, blaming the delay on issues caused by an unreleased old version of BBM (BlackBerry Messenger).

"When we saw almost one million people install an unreleased version of the Android version, another million use workarounds to download BBM onto their iPhone  and another six million people pre-register to know when BBM became available for iPhone and Android, we knew we were on to something huge," he noted.

The application has also seen 'overwhelmingly positive reviews' on Google Play and the App Store. BBM has earned 60,000 five-star reviews on Google Play from about 87,000 reviews, he added.

On Apple's App Store, BBM rose quickly in the free app rankings in the first 24 hours, taking the number one slot in more than 75 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, Indonesia and most of the Middle East, Bocking said.

BlackBerry said it will add more new features to BBM to promote it as the private social network.

"While we're excited to bring BBM to iPhone and Android - we aren't stopping there. Work isn't slowing down at all. We committed to delivering a BBM experience on iPhone and Android that was equal to that on BlackBerry 10. That means bringing BBM Video, BBM Voice and BBM Channels...

"My team is still committed to bringing those features to BBM on Android and iPhone in the near future. And we are not stopping there - we have some great new features planned that will build on BBM as the private social network you count on for immediate conversations you can control and trust," Bocking said.

Capitalism vs. Socialism

13-year-old Entrepreneur at Loral's Big Table

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was highest paid CEO in 2012

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg tops the list of highest paid CEOs in 2012 with total compensation of $2.28 billion, according to a new report on executive pay.


Zuckerberg’s compensation was mostly related to income tied to Facebook’s FB -0.17%  IPO and comprised almost entirely of stock option profits, according to the GMI Ratings survey.

The study, which examined the pay of 2,259 CEOs in North America, looks at base pay, the value of stock awards that are vested and options that are exercised.

Zuckerberg’s base pay for that year was $503,205. He exercised 60 million stock options, granted in 2005 and fully vested by 2010, at a strike price of just 6 cents. Immediately after Facebook’s IPO in May 2012, he liquidated more than $1 billion worth of shares. He also had perquisites totaling $1.2 million, including personal use of company aircraft and security costs.

Germany’s Chancellor Merkel: I AM WORRIED!!!

She may not take it likely if…..but Obama assures Germany’s Merkel, the the U.S. isn’t tapping her phone

Is that Chancellor Merkel on the line? Don’t worry, the U.S. isn’t listening in.

That’s the upshot of what President Barack Obama told the German leader in a phone call on Wednesday, according to the White House. Obama “assured” Merkel that the National Security Agency isn’t monitoring her communications after Der Spiegel reported that the German chancellor phoned Obama to discuss the allegations.

The story involves the NSA tapping her cell phone.

The U.S. “is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor,” Carney told reporters.


Some on Twitter were quick to point out the present- and future-tense descriptions Carney used.

Nepalese Working Abroad Remittances Not Enough

Nepal has not been able to benefit from the remittance sent home by Nepalis working abroad as most of this money is being spent on basic needs, particularly food, and fast moving consumer goods.

Speakers at the sixth global convention of non-resident Nepalis (NRNs) said that there has been massive migration from the country in the last two decades, but the country has not obtained any concrete gains from it.

“It has been a big concern lately how this remittance is being spent,” said Gopal Prasad Kafle, deputy governor of Nepal Rastra Bank, speaking at a session entitled “Looking at the Potential and Emerging Trend of Investment in Nepal”.

Remittance accounts for one-fourth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or two-thirds of the balance of payments. The money sent back by Nepali migrant workers abroad in the fiscal year 2012-13 amounted to 434 billion Nepalese rupees (US$4.4 billion).

“This money is not being mobilised in the productive sector, and it is a really worrying,” said Kafle.

According to Kafle, the central bank is planning to issue foreign employment bonds worth 1 billion rupees ($10 million) this year. Issuance of bonds will help secure the money earned by migrant workers, and prevent it from being spent simply.

It will also help the government direct the collected funds to different productive sectors, Kafle said.

“This can turn a very small amount of equity into a large cash flow,” he added. He also urged the NRN community to help the government channel remittance through banking channels, stating that a huge amount of remittance still comes to Nepal through the informal sector.

For example, Korea is a big remittance generating country, but its contribution to the total remittance inflow is merely 0.02 per cent.

Likewise, Kafle said that remittance from Australia and the UK was very nominal. Addressing the same meeting, Kush Kumar Joshi, former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry , said that the country receives 40 billion rupees ($405 million) in remittance from migrant workers every month, but it is a mystery where all the money goes.


“Remittance is not visible in the productive sector,” said Joshi, who is also the chairman of Nepal Purbhadhar Bikas Company. The company is building a 35-billion-rupee ($354 million) express tunnel highway connecting Kathmandu with the southern plains by mobilising domestic resources.

Reasons Why Mr. President Jonathan Travels to Israel

President Goodluck Jonathan will on Wednesday (today) embark on a Christian pilgrimage to Israel.

President will be meeting with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, according to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati

He said talks between Jonathan’s delegation and Israeli government officials would focus on the enhancement of bilateral relations between Nigeria and Israel.

The bilateral talks, according to Abati, will focus on areas including trade, economic development, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, communications, culture, education and tourism.


“President Jonathan is expected back in Abuja early next week.”

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

"horrifically depressing report." : Brian Sozzi

Something similar may have happened this morning, when the delayed and derided September jobs report was released, showing just 148,000 people found work last month.

"I think it is an absolute disaster," says Brian Sozzi, chief equity strategist at Belus Capital Advisors  in the attached video, where he calls today's release a "horrifically depressing report."

As Sozzi sees it, "there's stuff going on out there in the economy that nobody is talking about." Specifically, he cites the need to listen to what companies such as Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) and Hasbro (HAS) are telling us this earnings season, and to take heed of the restructuring plans, earnings misses, and soft revenue results.


Add it all up and he's worried that the September employment data, which preceded the government shutdown, might be the tip of a much bigger iceberg of bad news ahead of us.

"I'm thinking, when I saw this number cross the tape, 'Is this the creepy peak in the jobs numbers? Can it get worse? Are we looking at a sub-100 print for the next couple months?'" Sozzi says. "Work week unchanged. No wage growth. That's not good."

Of course, the stock market is just fine with all of this, at least for the time being, as it pins the Fed to stay right where it is for the foreseeable future. But even there, Sozzi calls out the shortcomings of the market's clear cut biased for bad news.

"Do we have to root for continued Fed stimulus? Is that what the economy has become?" he asks before answering that the market is suggesting that we get more misses in early November.

While the next major data point will see the much-maligned October jobs numbers coming out November 8th, it will happen nine days after the Fed has already had to meet and react to the latest news.


"Absolutely nothing is going to happen (at the next Fed meeting)," Sozzi predicts. "They're going to realize the decelerating momentum seen in the jobs report and consumer confidence and corporate earnings. They're going to continue to do nothing, be dovish and hand it off to (freshly nominated Fed Chief Janet) Yellen and hope for a great 2014."

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