EB5 Capital Announces Trip to Cairo to Meet Families Interested in the United States’ EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — EB5 Capital announced today its scheduled travel to Cairo, between September 2 "" September 7, to meet with individuals interested in investing in and immigrating to the United States.

"EB5 Capital is excited to visit Cairo for the first time in our company's history," said Haya Farrag, EB5 Capital's MENA Investor Relations Manager, who will make the trip on behalf of the company. "While EB5 Capital has investors from over 60 countries, Egypt is currently one of our fastest–growing markets. We have had families from Egypt since 2013, that now have their green card and have been repaid. We're looking forward to connecting with more Egyptians interested in learning more about the EB–5 program."

The EB–5 program permits foreign nationals the opportunity to invest $500,000 in a new, job–creating project located in a high unemployment area. The investment opportunity must create at least 10 U.S. jobs. In exchange, the investor, their spouse, and unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply for residency, and eventually a U.S. green card.

EB5 Capital is a Washington, DC–based Regional Center that provides foreign investors with investment opportunities to obtain permanent residency through the United States' EB–5 Immigrant Investor Program. The firm has served nearly 1,400 families across its more than 25 real estate investments.

"We recommend to anyone that has been considering an EB–5 investment to move ahead before the new regulations take effect on November 21, 2019," said Farrag. "For those who are sensitive to the price increase, now is the time to apply. We look forward to informing Egyptian investors about this program and assisting them with their immigration and investment process."

For more information, please contact Haya Farrag.

About EB5 Capital

EB5 Capital is a leader in the EB–5 immigrant investor industry, raising over $680 million in foreign capital from investors in more than 60 countries for investment in job–creating real estate projects across the United States. EB5 Capital owns and operates six USCIS–authorized Regional Centers that serve 15 states and the District of Columbia. With a portfolio of 26 projects, EB5 Capital maintains a 100% project approval rate from the USCIS. For more information, visit http://www.eb5capital.com.

Contact:
Haya Farrag
(202) 652–2437
hfarrag@eb5capital.com

Revitalizing Indigenous Languages Is Critical

Credit: UN

By Lakshi De Vass Gunawardena
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 12 2019 – Being fluent in a world language is a desirable skill in modern day society. However, some languages are suffering and in danger of extinction — namely those of the indigenous peoples.

“There are between 6,000 and 7,000 world languages in the world today,” Brian Keane, rapporteur of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues said in his keynote speech last week, revealing that half of them are expected to go extinct by 2100. As a result, more than 50% of the worlds indigenous peoples are in danger of losing their language.

“You can’t preserve or protect or revitalize indigenous languages in a vacuum- they’re related to all of the other rights of indigenous peoples, principally the right to self-determination,” Keane told IPS, adding that the Permanent Forum tries to highlight all of these rights, citing several branches to assist indigenous rights.

Asked what role the Forum will play, he said: “Our role is trying to move countries forward when implementing rights and outlining declarations.” Keane said, stressing that only when indigenous peoples are able to practice self-determination, and be able to live on their ancestral territories, “can we truly protect the languages”.

The annual commemoration of World Indigenous Peoples Day took place August 9 and was organized by the Indigenous Peoples and Development Branch of the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The event  featured two panels, guest speakers, and performances.

Today, there are about 370 million indigenous peoples worldwide, making up about 5% of the population. However, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has predicted that, by the end of this century, between 50-90% of indigenous languages will perish.

 

Credit: UN

 

Indigenous language is fading as a result of land seizures, forced assimilation, conflicts, climate change, development projects, and a critical gap of the language being passed on to the next generation, attributed to a sense of fear or shame.

It has been noted that at least one indigenous language has been dying every 2 weeks and will continue to do so, if action is not taken.

It is an issue so concerning that it is reaching all corners of the world.

There are between 6,000 and 7,000 world languages in the world today, half of them are expected to go extinct by 2100. As a result, more than 50% of the worlds indigenous peoples are in danger of losing their language

Brian Keane, rapporteur of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

“We need to create reading materials, compile tales, stories and myths from the indigenous peoples.” María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly declared, adding that languages are alive “as long as we speak them”.

“With every language that disappears, the world loses a wealth of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage.”  UN Secretary General António Guterres declared in an official statement, adding that education has a pivotal role to play in ensuring that indigenous peoples can enjoy and preserve their culture and identity, and that intercultural and multi-lingual education will be necessary to prevent irreparable loss.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada concluded in his official statement:  “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I encourage everyone to learn more about the cultures and languages of Indigenous peoples, here in Canada and around the world,”

However, there are several initiatives in place to help foster indigenous language, such as the use of digital technology.

“Over the last 5 or 6 years we’ve really seen a boom in seeing indigenous languages online,” Eddie Avila, Director of Rising Voices said in his keynote speech, highlighting Wikipedia, emoticons, and users tweeting on Twitter in their native tongue.

“It’s really a message of do it yourself,” he added, but pointed out that it is ultimately the young people behind the tools who are critical, as well as academic researchers and policymakers.

Avila described designated spaces for young indigenous peoples to gather and engage in discussions.

“I think the non- indigenous youth can kind of encourage their classmates and other friends who may speak an indigenous language that it is okay to be multilingual, bilingual” Avila told IPS.

He said things are slowly changing compared to the past where there was a sense of shame to speak an indigenous language. He also stressed the importance of celebrating those differences but also recognizing the value of maintaining those roots.

He went on to note that in a city like New York, it is very easy to see the diversity and celebrate that, but added it is not always that way around the world, again tracing back to the importance of using language online, such as Duolingo and social media.

“And I think Rising Voices, we’re trying to support communities of indigenous languages, and we want to leverage technology to encourage new speakers, to promote the language, and to show that it is very functional on something as modern as the Internet, Avila declared.

Five Million Palestinians Deserve Better!

Secretary-General Guterres can still ameliorate the crisis—first, of course, by inviting Krähenbühl’s immediate departure, but then by a resounding public declaration of how essential UNRWA’s work is

Credit: UN

By Ian Williams
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 12 2019 – An old adage passed on by veteran U.N. staff to younger recruits is, “Do nothing whenever possible. It’s safer.” For a junior officer that might indeed be career-enhancing. 

But—in the face of persistent hostility from the U.S. and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s friends around the world—for the secretary-general of the U.N., or even the commissioner general of UNRWA, it is a recipe for disaster.

And sometimes doing a little is even worse.

Antonio Guterres announced the appointment of Christian Saunders as deputy commissioner general of UNRWA but the U.N secretary-general failed to explain what had happened to Saunders’ predecessor,  Sandra Mitchell, let alone the chain of circumstances that led to her departure.

Saunders is experienced and well-respected, but making him deputy commissioner general while leaving Pierre Krähenbühl, the person primarily responsible for the scandal, as commissioner-general for UNRWA is like throwing a sardine into a school of sharks. It has, predictably, just whetted the appetites of UNWRA’s enemies—but has not provided sustenance for its friends.

The secretary-general is presumably aware that after Al Jazeera (and the Washington Report) began its investigation into the UNRWA Ethics Office’s report on Krähenbühl’s management (see Aug./Sept. 2019 Washington Report, p. 17), Krähenbühl in quick succession lost three senior staff members, including both his chef de cabinet and deputy commissioner.

Major donors, not least, Krähenbühl’s own Swiss government pulled their funding because of the Report, which called for his immediate dismissal.

All those countries have been loyal friends of the U.N. and of UNRWA, and their defunding shows clearly that the Ethics Office report made a compelling case to them. It is also clear that the governments concerned are trying to send signals to the U.N., whose response to the crisis has been a textbook case of complacent bureaucratic ineptitude.

After this writer’s report on UNWRA corruption came out in Al Jazeera, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki R. Haley wrote on Twitter, “This is Exactly [sic] why we stopped their funding.”

In fact, that was an outright lie. The Trump administration only did as Israel asked and pulled its contribution to UNRWA for malicious reasons having nothing to do with Commissioner General Krähenbüh’s love life or travel arrangements.

 

 Secretary-General Guterres can still ameliorate the crisis—first, of course, by inviting Krähenbühl’s immediate departure, but then by a resounding public declaration of how essential UNRWA’s work is

Credit: UN

 

Instead it was because UNRWA’s continuing existence is a persistent institutional reminder of U.S. complicity in Israel’s dispossession of some six million Palestinians. Admittedly, it was also because a particular subset of ambitious Republicans looks for large campaign donations from a coterie of very rich right-wing donors who consistently display their disdain for Palestinian rights by helping fund Jewish-only settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

There is no need for the secretary-general to take advice from countries whose oft-condemned actions created and perpetuated so many decades of misery for the Palestinians

However, knowing that both Washington and Tel Aviv entertain such sentiments makes the insouciance of both Secretary-General Guterres and Krähenbühl even more egregious.  The ethics report detailing the managerial failings and turpitude in UNRWA was delivered to the secretary-general’s office back in December 2018.

The UNRWA staff who had contributed to it fretted that no action was being taken after many of them had risked their livelihoods and pensions.

They were amazed that such a compelling dossier from the organization’s own Ethics Department would be ignored, and it was only after months had passed that some of them leaked it to me, in the hope that media inquiries about the report would prompt pre-emptive action by the U.N., and that the commissioner general would lance the boil before the pustulent Trump/Netanyahu axis began to fester on it.

Ambassadors and senior U.N. officials were approached to press the secretary-general’s office for the action necessary, but to no avail.

Faced with such a damning indictment from his own ethics office, Krähenbühl could have, and should have, resigned or stepped aside for the good of the organization.  The secretary-general could have suspended or fired him and announced a genuinely independent inquiry, enlisting donors and others concerned with the welfare of UNRWA and the Palestinians.

Predictably, the failures of the commissioner general and U.N. headquarters to take action—of any kind—has set off a feeding frenzy among the enemies of the Palestinians and UNRWA, who want to punish refugees for the ethical failings of bureaucrats foisted on them by an international community that oversaw their dispossession. 

An unannounced internal investigation by the U.N.’s own Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS)—whose reputation is far from stellar even inside the U.N.—is a politically disastrous course of action. It took repeated questioning before we even discovered the investigation was under way—at a time when the secretary-general’s office denied it had even seen the report.

It was conceivable that, without media publicity, the OIOS report could have been a bland procedural whitewash, as have been too many about recent scandals involving senior U.N. staff.

But the media exposure means that Krähenbühl has little or no support from his present and recent senior staff, and certainly not from the donors.  His rigor mortis-like grip on office is profoundly damaging to UNWRA, to the U.N., and to the more than five million Palestinians it serves.

In any case, confronted with such a manifest managerial failure, a traditional international civil servant should have accepted responsibility and resigned: by clinging to office Krähenbühl is giving succour to his agency’s enemies.

One could add that the scandal reflects an erosion of the concept of an ethical international service under a constant corrosive drip of short-term contracts and outsourcing urged by those experts who brought us the 2008 financial crisis.    

Even so, Secretary-General Guterres can still ameliorate the crisis—first, of course, by inviting Krähenbühl’s immediate departure, but then by a resounding public declaration of how essential UNRWA’s work is.

Persuading a senior diplomat or U.N. figure to take over from Krähenbühl is a bit like fitting someone for a crown of thorns, but there are people out there who care enough about the Palestinians and who are prepared to stand up to the barrage of bile from worldwide Friends of Likud.

Above all, there is no need for the secretary-general to take advice from countries whose oft-condemned actions created and perpetuated so many decades of misery for the Palestinians.

He would, however, do well to invite donors and other humanitarian organizations to examine the agency and recommend much needed managerial and structural reforms, without pandering to those whose solution to the refugee problem is to leave them homeless and hungry while declaring them no longer to be refugees.

The original story appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 

‘Beggar Thy Neighbour’ Policy Advice

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 2019 – The harmful effects of falling corporate tax rates have been acknowledged in a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) research paper. This trend, since the early 1980s, has been especially detrimental for developing countries, which rely on direct taxation much more than developed economies.

Acknowledging that existing international corporate tax rules are unfair, set by developed country governments scantly considering their effects on poor countries, IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, called for a new system earlier this year.

 

BWIs and corporate tax rates

However, neither the IMF research nor Lagarde say anything about why corporate tax rates have been falling across all country groups for over three decades.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

The neo-liberal ‘counter-revolution’ against Keynesian and development economics saw the brief popularity of ‘supply side’ economics during the early 1980s. The Washington Consensus of the US Treasury Department and the two Washington-based Bretton Woods institutions (BWIs) – the IMF and the World Bank (WB) – ensured its global impact.

All serious empirical research has discredited Chicago Professor Arthur Laffer’s claim that lowering corporate tax rates boosts investment and growth rates. Significantly, this included work by US President Ronald Reagan’s first Council of Economic Advisers chair, Martin Feldstein, and Doug Elmendorf, his Congressional Budget Office Director.

Instead, most growth during the Reagan era was due to expansionary monetary policy, as lower interest rates helped the economy rebound from the severe recession in 1982. Likewise, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts also failed to spur growth, according to Andrew Samwick, chief economist to his Council of Economic Advisers.

All serious empirical research has discredited Chicago Professor Arthur Laffer’s claim that lowering corporate tax rates boosts investment and growth rates

Despite their dubious premises, the Laffer curve and similar claims have re-emerged under the Trump presidency, which has already brought corporate tax rates to new lows.

 

Beggar thy neighbour

To qualify for BWI support, developing country governments were expected to undertake tax reforms, by lowering typically progressive direct tax rates in favour of regressive indirect taxation, such as value-added taxation (VAT), often dubbed the goods and services tax (GST).

A review of IMF tax policy recommendations to Sub-Saharan African countries during 1998-2008 confirmed that in typical ‘one-size-fits-all’ fashion, they invariably included reducing corporate and even, personal income tax rates as well as both export and import taxation, besides introducing or expanding VAT.

As an IMF paper concluded about the ostensible justification for its advice, “The complete abolition of corporate income tax would be the most direct application of the theoretical result that small open economies should not tax capital income.”

Vito Tanzi and Howell Zee, of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, even recommended taxing labour, instead of capital. They argued that “small countries should not levy source-based taxes on capital income” because, compared to labour, capital was highly mobile and could escape such taxes.

The WB’s controversial Doing Business Report (DBR) argues likewise; paying taxes was one of 11 criteria DBR 2017 used to rank a country’s business environment although the WB’s enterprise survey found tax incentives not critical among factors affecting foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows.

 

Policy advocacy despite evidence

Thus, BWI advice, ostensibly to encourage investment, particularly FDI, led to the harmful competition that has lowered corporate tax rates since the 1980s. Earlier IMF research found that such ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ tax competition has caused unnecessary loss of revenue for many developing countries.

Anis Chowdhury

OECD research found that direct tax concessions barely diverted, let alone attracted international investment flows. The Economist also found the relationship between tax rates and investment as well as growth rates to be weak.

A G20 report noted, “Tax incentives generally rank low in investment climate surveys in low-income countries, and there are many examples in which … investment would have been undertaken even without them. And their fiscal cost can be high, reducing opportunities for much-needed public spending …, or requiring higher taxes on other activities.”

 

Regressive tax incidence

Corporate tax rate declines over recent decades have contributed to overall tax incidence becoming more regressive as direct taxes have declined, and indirect taxes, such as VAT, have risen. VAT adoption has been central to BWI tax policy advice to developing countries.

A study of IMF advice on tax matters in 54 IMF Article IV reports between 2005 and 2008 to 10 low-income countries and 10 middle-income countries found that, “VAT was recommended or endorsed by the IMF in 90 per cent of the overall sample…”

An IMF paper found that the BWIs presume that tax is distortionary, and the tax system should focus on raising revenue while minimizing associated distortions. This precluded using taxation for other purposes, e.g., progressive redistribution. Recent IMF research shows that reduced tax progressivity has contributed to growing inequality since the 1980s.

 

Quo vadis?

Recognition of taxation’s potential for both resource mobilization and reducing inequality can still bring about fundamental changes in BWI conditionalities, advice and technical assistance for developing countries. Greater developing country engagement in designing international reforms to reduce tax avoidance and evasion by transnational corporations will be crucial.

Is India on Track to Beat the Perfect Storm?

The marginal farmer who depends solely on rain irrigation needs water, agricultural and energy innovations the most. Three farmer families help each other to plough their small farms and seed them as monsoon arrives in Warangal district in Andhra Pradesh. Credit: Manipadma Jena / IPS

By Manipadma Jena
NEW DELHI, Aug 12 2019 – “The Perfect Storm” was a dire prediction that by 2030 food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources together with climate change would threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration from worst-affected regions.

It is a term coined a decade back in 2009 by Sir John Beddington, the United Kingdom’s then Chief Scientific Adviser. But in 2019 the prediction seems to be a real possibility—particularly for developing countries.

The current drive for a food- and nutrition-secure world, as well as the vision of feeding an estimated global population of 10 billion in 2050, is held hostage today by the unsustainable nexus between agriculture, water and energy. This is all further exacerbated by the climate emergency upon us.

“We have, over the years, tended to overuse both water and energy in agricultural operations, practices that are now at odds with the challenges due to the emerging changes in hydrology and the increasing global concentration of greenhouse gases,” says Ajay Mathur, Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute, India.

“Those of us who work on water issues in (the global) South understand that there have been decades of mismanagement of our land, water, energy and ecosystems due to poor policies, whose effects are now being compounded due to climate change,” adds Aditi Mukherji, Principal Researcher at the International Water Management Institute.

India’s alarming water shortages are now real as are the prolonged droughts in its central region and on-going apocalyptic flooding in several states. Each disaster leaves its own damaging impact on food production back to back.

Problems in each of the farm, water, and energy sectors are being addressed in India through policies, schemes and innovations but there is a need for greater focus on their interconnectedness to solve real world water, energy and food issues, according to Mukherji who is the coordinating lead author of the water chapter of the 6th Assessment Report team of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Policies for reducing water distress in agriculture, for example, have to focus on all fronts –ensuring that food procurement policies are revised to incentivise low water consuming crops, that agricultural energy policies are tweaked to provide smarter incentives for lower groundwater extraction, and that water policies encourage decentralised solutions like water harvesting and water efficient agriculture,” she says.

And again “solutions for groundwater overexploitation problems are often found in the regions’ energy policies, including in the ever-increasing potential of renewable energy,” Mukherji says.

In India and other middle and low income economies, women are stewards of family food security. Increasingly, off- grid solar power is helping them provide better. A tribal woman feeds a 2 horsepower miller run by rooftop solar at Male Mahadeshwara Hills in Southern Karnataka. Courtesy: SELCO India

Clean energy to the rescue of food producers 

Ravi Naik’s tiny two-acre farm is in Shattigerahalli village in the Western Ghats of India’s southern Karnataka State. If any of his relatives come to visit, they trek through two kilometres of dense forests. Come monsoon, they’d find a formidable hill stream in fierce flow, barring their way. Grid electricity has not reached this remoteness, and the 56-year-old small farmer had no choice but to grow the Areca nut which requires less water but also fetches low prices at market.

Naik wanted to grow the remunerative banana but there was no way he could afford the extra irrigation with his kerosene-fed pump which already cost him over seven dollars a month.

But one day he encountered a solar technician from SELCO India, a local solar energy enterprise in Karnataka, who was installing an inverter. Naik narrated his woe. SELCO scouted and found a perennial pond close enough for a small ½ horsepower solar-powered pump to sufficiently draw irrigation for Naik’s banana plants.

Not only did Naik’s income double, thus easing his pump loan payments, the nutritious fruit always grows in abundance and has become his three-year-old grandson’s favourite snack. 

His farm is self sufficient and “clean” now. He no longer dreads the fossil fuel price swings on the black market, where he previously was forced to purchase fuel from.

To break the nexus Mathur suggests, “the promotion of energy efficient solar pumps, together with the purchase of excess electricity by the grid (from mini-grids), provides an opportunity to install micro-irrigation facilities, to mitigate climate emissions and provides a revenue stream for farmers to invest further in technology …energy efficiency is the first-step in ensuring that solar-based electrification is cost effective”. Mathur was recently appointed to the new International Energy Agency’s Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency.

While science and innovation have much to offer for water, energy and food security, these must be backed by institutional policies and political leadership to identify pathways to overcome a plethora of inter-connected challenges, according to Mukherji.

A 10 mega watt solar power plant set atop irrigation canals in Vodadara, Gujarat provides clean energy to thousands of farmers in the western Indian state. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

Dire consequences already on us 

The World Resources Institute‘s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas released last week clearly indicates that India’s policies are not geared for current challenges it is already facing. The Atlas ranks India 13 among 17 countries that are facing “extremely high” water stress, almost close to Day Zero conditions. The research warns that potentially dire consequences can be triggered more often in India even during short dry shocks when demand outstrips supply, owing to its population which is three times that of the remaining 16 countries on the stressed list.

“South Asia is one of the world’s most highly populated regions with high levels of poverty and malnutrition alongside its rapid economic development. It is also a global hotspot due to huge demands for food, water and energy in a context of severe climate change impacts,” says Jim Woodhill of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

“From experience we know that food (and water) insecurity can be a trigger to societal unrest and even revolution. In such a populous region (as South Asia) it is critical that socially just and environmentally sustainable solutions are found to the challenge that the water, food, energy and climate nexus presents,” says Woodhill, who is the Food Systems Advisor for South Asia Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio at DFAT. 

Woodhill’s stand on South Asia was backed by United Nations findings in 2014. The U.N. had warned the Indian sub-continent may face the brunt of the water crisis where India would be at the centre of this conflict due to its unique geographical position in South Asia. It indicated shared river basins in the region may pit India against Pakistan, China and Bangladesh over the issue of water sharing by 2050. Indus River, Ganges and Brahmaputra basins are crucial for India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China.

Already river water sharing between several Indian States is seeing prolonged disputes both legal and political.

“Systems of weak governance are at the heart of the problem. A focus on generating and distributing wealth is no longer enough – we must add the dimension of how to respond to climate change. Science, new forms of decision making, and citizen engagement must go hand in hand,” says Woodhill adding, “Experience worldwide is showing how competition for land and water resources is intensifying, driven by increased demand from agriculture, the energy sector and industry. In South Asia the potential scale of the human tragedy of not moving fast enough down a path of sustainability and climate resilience, is immense.” 

Australia’s Crawford Fund annual conference in Canberra over Aug. 12-13 examines the available evidence as to whether the “storm” is still on track to happen. Or whether scientific, engineering and agricultural innovation the world over, and progress in the farmer’s field in India and in other vulnerable countries, have indeed lessened or delayed the impact of the unsustainable nexus between agriculture, water, energy and climate change.