Bombardier and Alstom Confirm Receipt of All Necessary Regulatory Approvals to Complete Bombardier Transportation Sale to Alstom

MONTRÉAL, Dec. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Bombardier (TSX: BBD.B) and Alstom announced today that all necessary regulatory approvals required to complete the sale of Bombardier Transportation to Alstom have been received.

Bombardier and Alstom now expect the transaction to close on January 29, 2021.

About Bombardier
With over 52,000 employees across two business segments, Bombardier is a global leader in the transportation industry, creating innovative and game–changing planes and trains. Our products and services provide world–class transportation experiences that set new standards in passenger comfort, energy efficiency, reliability and safety.

Headquartered in Montral, Canada, Bombardier has production and engineering sites in over 25 countries across the segments of Aviation and Transportation. Bombardier shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). In the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, Bombardier posted revenues of $15.8 billion. News and information are available at bombardier.com or follow us on Twitter @Bombardier.

Bombardier is a trademark of Bombardier Inc. and its subsidiaries.

For Information
Jessica McDonald
Advisor, Media Relations
and Public Affairs
Bombardier Inc.
+1 514 861 9481
jessica.mcdonald@bombardier.com
Patrick Ghoche
Vice President, Corporate Strategy
Investor Relations
Bombardier Inc.
+1 514 861 5727

FORWARD–LOOKING STATEMENTS
This press release includes forward–looking statements, which may involve, but are not limited to: statements with respect to our objectives, anticipations and outlook or guidance in respect of various financial and global metrics and sources of contribution thereto, targets, goals, priorities, market and strategies, financial position, market position, capabilities, competitive strengths, credit ratings, beliefs, prospects, plans, expectations, anticipations, estimates and intentions; general economic and business outlook, prospects and trends of an industry; expected demand for products and services; growth strategy; product development, including projected design, characteristics, capacity or performance; expected or scheduled entry–into–service of products and services, orders, deliveries, testing, lead times, certifications and project execution in general; competitive position; expectations regarding challenging Transportation projects and the release of working capital therefrom; expectations regarding revenue and backlog mix; the expected impact of the legislative and regulatory environment and legal proceedings; strength of capital profile and balance sheet, creditworthiness, available liquidities and capital resources and expected financial requirements; productivity enhancements, operational efficiencies and restructuring initiatives; expectations and objectives regarding debt repayments and refinancing of bank facilities and maturities; expectations regarding availability of government assistance programs, compliance with restrictive debt covenants; expectations regarding the declaration and payment of dividends on our preferred shares; intentions and objectives for our programs, assets and operations; and the impact of the COVID–19 pandemic on the foregoing and the effectiveness of plans and measures we have implemented in response thereto. As it relates to the transaction discussed herein, this press release contains forward–looking statements with respect to the expected timing for completion thereof.

Forward–looking statements can generally be identified by the use of forward–looking terminology such as "may", "will", "shall", "can", "expect", "estimate", "intend", "anticipate", "plan", "foresee", "believe", "continue", "maintain" or "align", the negative of these terms, variations of them or similar terminology. Forward–looking statements are presented for the purpose of assisting investors and others in understanding certain key elements of our current objectives, strategic priorities, expectations, outlook and plans, and in obtaining a better understanding of our business and anticipated operating environment. Readers are cautioned that such information may not be appropriate for other purposes.

By their nature, forward–looking statements require management to make assumptions and are subject to important known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which may cause our actual results in future periods to differ materially from forecast results set forth in forward–looking statements. While management considers these assumptions to be reasonable and appropriate based on information currently available, there is risk that they may not be accurate. The assumptions underlying the forward–looking statements made in this press release in relation to the transaction discussed herein include the following material assumptions: the satisfaction of all closing conditions and successful completion of such transaction within the anticipated timeframe, the realization of the intended benefits therefrom (including receipt of expected proceeds and intended use thereof) within the anticipated timeframe; our ability to retain key management and employees during the pendency and following completion of the transaction; our ability to satisfy our liabilities and meet our financial covenants and debt service obligations during the pendency and following completion of the transaction; our ability to access the capital markets as needed during the pendency and following completion of the transaction; and fulfillment by the other parties of their respective obligations, commitments and undertakings pursuant to transaction documentation. For additional information, including with respect to the other assumptions underlying the forward–looking statements made in this press release, refer to the assumptions below the Forward–looking statements in the MD&A of our financial report for the three–and nine–month periods ended September 30, 2020 and the Strategic Priorities and Guidance and forward–looking statements sections in the applicable reportable segment in the MD&A of our financial report for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019. Given the impact of the changing circumstances surrounding the COVID–19 pandemic and the related response from Bombardier, governments (federal, provincial and municipal), regulatory authorities, businesses and customers, there is inherently more uncertainty associated with our assumptions as compared to prior periods.

With respect to the transaction discussed herein specifically, certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in the forward–looking statements include, but are not limited to:the occurrence of a material adverse change, or otherwise the failure to satisfy the conditions to the completion of this transaction or delay in completing, and uncertainty regarding the length of time required to complete, such transaction, and all or part of the intended benefits therefrom not being realized and all or part of the anticipated proceeds therefrom not being available to us within the anticipated timeframe, or at all, or it is determined, necessary or required to direct all or part of the anticipated proceeds therefrom towards other uses than those identified in this press release; and alternate sources of funding to replace the anticipated proceeds from such transaction may not be available when needed, or on desirable terms; the occurrence of an event which would allow the parties to terminate their obligations, commitments and undertakings pursuant to transaction documentation; changes in the terms of the transaction; the failure by the parties to fulfill their obligations, commitments and undertakings pursuant to transaction documentation; Bombardier being unable to satisfy its liabilities and meet its financial covenants and debt service obligations during the pendency and following completion of the transaction; the failure to retain our key management, personnel and clients during the pendency and following completion of the transaction and risks associated with the loss and replacement of key management and personnel; and the impact of the announcement of the transaction on our relationships with third parties, including potentially resulting in the loss of clients, employees, suppliers, business partners or other benefits and goodwill of the business. There is no certainty, nor can we provide any assurance, that the conditions to closing of the proposed transaction will be satisfied or, if satisfied, when they will be satisfied. If the proposed transaction is not completed for any reason, there is a risk that the announcement of such transaction and the dedication of substantial resources of Bombardier to the completion thereof could have a negative impact on our operating results and business generally, and could have a material adverse effect on our current and future operations, financial condition and prospects, including the loss of investor confidence in connection with our ability to execute its strategic plan. In addition, failure to complete the proposed transaction for any reason could materially negatively impact the market price of our securities. If the proposed transaction is not completed for any reason, there can be no assurance that management will be successful in its efforts to identify and implement other strategic alternatives that would be in the best interests of Bombardier and its stakeholders within the context of existing market, regulatory and competitive conditions in the industries in which we operate, on favourable terms and timing or at all, and, if implemented, that such actions would have the planned results. We also have incurred significant transaction and related costs in connection with the proposed transaction, and additional significant or unanticipated costs may be incurred.

Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list of factors that may affect the transaction discussed herein, future growth, results and performance is not exhaustive and undue reliance should not be placed on forward–looking statements. For more details, see the Risks and uncertainties sections in Other in the MD&A for the three and nine month period ended September 30, 2020 and in the MD&A of our financial report for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019. Other risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we presently believe are not material could also cause actual results or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in our forward–looking statements. The forward–looking statements set forth herein reflect management's expectations as at the date of this press release and are subject to change after such date. Unless otherwise required by applicable securities laws, we expressly disclaim any intention, and assume no obligation to update or revise any forward–looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. The forward–looking statements contained in this press release are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement.


US Presidential Election Part 3: President Trump’s Legacy of Mismanagement of the Pandemic

Credit: Whitehouse.Gov

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Dec 1 2020 – Covid-19 is on track to be the deadliest and one of the most catastrophic epidemics since the 1918-1919 flu pandemic, which infected about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population at the time. The number of deaths was estimated somewhere between 17 and 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million worldwide.

The first observations of illness and mortality were documented in December 1917 at Camp Greene, North Carolina. To maintain morale, World War I censors minimized reports of casualties, but as newspapers in neutral Spain were free to report the epidemic deaths, it was wrongly named “the Spanish Flu”.

The Covid-19 pandemic will also have widespread and long-lasting political, economic, and social consequences, challenging many equations on the international arena and perhaps even changing the balance of power between the United States and China. One of the main effects of the pandemic in the international context has been in the way that different countries have dealt with it.

Unfortunately, it is the nation that is bearing the main cost of the mismanagement, arrogance, selfishness and inaction of the president. President Trump’s approach to the pandemic has been abysmal and the nation has been paying the price of that inaction

Covid-19 was first reported in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei province, in December 2019. On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) China office heard the first reports of a previously-unknown virus behind a number of pneumonia cases in Wuhan. The Chinese government responded immediately to the initial outbreak by placing Wuhan and nearby cities under a de-facto quarantine encompassing roughly 50 million people in Hubei province.

The WHO quickly warned other countries of the highly infectious virus and, as early as January 30, it designated Covid-19 a “public health emergency of international concern”. Then, on March 11, it officially declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic. The statement by its director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus read: “WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

So, WHO warned the world about the existence of the deadly Covid-19 virus on January 30, and on March 11 classified it as a pandemic and bemoaned “the alarming levels of inaction.” Due to the total lockdown of Hubei province, the Chinese limited the spread of the virus and brought it under control. Consequently, as of 29 November 2020, Covid-19 has infected 92,300 and killed 4,742 people in China.

However, the situation has been starkly different in many other countries. The figures in the United States as of 29 November 2020 are 13,216,193 cases and 265,897 deaths, by far the largest number in the world. In other words, China has experienced 0.34 deaths per 100,000 people, while the figure for the US is 77.19 per 100,000 people, or 227 times greater. The United States has about four percent of the global population, but over 20 percent of Covid-19 cases. The number of Covid patients in hospitals has reached a new record high.

Even India, with four times the US’s population and with much more limited public health facilities, has suffered 9,309,787 cases and 135,715 deaths, just over half the number of US deaths. Similarly, the figures for Russia are 2,196,691 cases and 38,175 deaths.

It is often argued that the low number of cases in China has been due to the authoritarian nature of the state, but other democracies such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and some European countries have fared much better than the United States too.

Australia has had 27,885 cases and 907 deaths, New Zealand 2,050 cases and 25 deaths, South Korea 33,375 cases and 522 deaths. Germany, like the rest of Europe, has suffered badly as the result of Covid-19, but there have been only 1.04 million cases and 16,011 deaths. This means that with a population four times that of Germany’s, the number of deaths in the United States is nearly 16 times higher.

Consequently, while China, South Korea, New Zealand and some other East Asian countries have been able to allow their citizens to attend work and school, and enjoy restaurants, theatres and sporting events, the United States and much of Europe have languished under lockdown for a much longer period. While China has seen a growth of 4.9% between July and September compared to the same quarter last year, the United States and much of Europe are in the throes of deep recession.

In the United States the economic fallout for the working class has been severe. Unemployment has skyrocketed with 45.4 million new unemployment claims since March, and at least 1/6th of those with jobs before the pandemic now out of work. As many as 40 million renters may be facing eviction by the end of the year.

So, the reason for this disparity between the countries with higher levels of mortality and those with much fewer cases has nothing to do with being authoritarian versus democratic. It has been mainly due to the lack of management, denial of science, putting personal interests ahead of the public good and closing one’s eyes to reality.

Even before the start of the pandemic, in May 2018, the White House disbanded the pandemic response team. In July 2019, the administration decided to eliminate the post of the epidemiologist in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As a result, the country was ill-prepared to cope with a major pandemic.

On January 22, when many cases of Covid-19 had been detected in the United States, the President boasted: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.” At other times, he called the report of the pandemic a hoax perpetrated by the Democrats to harm his re-election chances.

Initially, the president praised China’s handling of the coronavirus, saying: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi.

However, later on, instead of following what President Xi had done to contain the virus, Trump blamed China for the spread of the pandemic in the United States, calling it “the Chinese virus”.

As late as February 27, he said: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” Instead of introducing a lockdown, on March 4 he said: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”

Instead of listening to the experts, he began advocating the use of untested drugs, such as “drinking hydroxychloroquine.” His justification for advocating it was: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”

He gave exaggerated figures about the number of tests that were carried out or the PPE that had been distributed, but hospitals were suffering from a lack of equipment and low levels of tests. The Atlantic reported that less than 14,000 tests had been done in the ten weeks since the administration had first been notified of the virus, though Vice-President Mike Pence who had been put in charge of the pandemic had promised the week prior that 1.5 million tests would be available by this time.

At one point, the president advocated injecting disinfectant, saying: “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.

It was basically this lack of scientific outlook, mismanagement, relying upon his own ill-informed feelings, lack of concern for the public good, with excessive attention paid to his re-election that contributed to the United States having one of the worst cases of the pandemic in the world. It has already cost the lives of more than a quarter of a million Americans, devastated many lives, brought the economy to a halt and may cost the country trillions of dollars before it is over.

It is the job of the president to lead, to guide, to inform and to set an example. However, President Trump failed miserably on all counts. He belittled the danger of the pandemic, ignored the experts, refused to wear a mask and even encouraged his followers to do the same, with the result that the number of infections and deaths is still showing an upward trend.

The pandemic might have cost President Trump his second term, but taking wrong decisions has a cost. Unfortunately, it is the nation that is bearing the main cost of the mismanagement, arrogance, selfishness and inaction of the president. President Trump’s approach to the pandemic has been abysmal and the nation has been paying the price of that inaction.

His unscientific approach can also be seen in relation to the issue of climate change which is a much more serious and long-term threat that is facing mankind and for which there are no vaccines. As one of the most technologically-advanced countries, the United States needs a president who at least does not effectively campaign against scientific facts.

 

Farhang Jahanpour is a British national of Iranian origin. He is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Scholar at Harvard. He taught Persian Literature at Cambridge University for five years and for more than 30 years he taught courses on the Middle East at the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Oxford. He also served as Editor for Middle East and North Africa at BBC Monitoring for 21 years.

 

Pandemic, ‘Great Reset’ and Resistance

A mother and doctor tend to a young girl with COVID-19 at an intensive care ward in the western region of Chernivtsi, Ukraine. Credit: UNICEF/Evgeniy Maloletka

By Asoka Bandarage
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka , Dec 1 2020 – According to the Center for Systems Science at Johns Hopkins University, as of November 29th, there have been 62,150,421 COVID-19 cases, including 1,450,338 deaths.

And according to the latest ILO reports, as job losses escalate due to lockdowns, nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing livelihoods, access to food and the ability to survive. The World Economic Forum states that ‘With some 2.6 billion people around the world in some kind of lockdown, we are conducting arguably the largest psychological experiment ever.’

As governments and corporations tighten political authoritarianism and technological surveillance, curtailing privacy and democratic protest, much of humanity is succumbing to anxiety, depression and a sense of powerlessness. Countries with some of the harshest lockdowns, such as India, have seen significant increases in suicides.

Pandemic Narrative and Dissent

Dominant global political and economic institutions and the media present their pandemic narrative as based on scientific authority. However, there is increasing dissension on the origin and prevention of the virus within the biomedical profession. Many physicians and scientists are questioning if COVID-19 is a natural occurrence or the product of a leak from a lab experimenting with coronaviruses and bioweapons.

There is concern over the accuracy of PCR tests and false positives, as well as the classification of deaths simply as COVID-19 deaths when an overwhelming number of deaths are related to pre-existing illnesses or comorbidities, such as diabetes and heart disease. Even according to November 25, 2020 CDC statistics, COVID-19 was the sole cause of death mentioned in only 6% of the deaths.

The disproportionately higher rates of Covid deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives, for example, are due to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease than among more privileged U.S. communities.

The Covid pandemic has not been the ‘Great Equalizer’ as suggested by the likes of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and members of the World Economic Forum. Rather, it has exacerbated existing inequalities along gender, race and economic class divides across the world.

Just as unemployed and uninsured Americans are pleading for support, the combined wealth of U.S. billionaires ‘surpassed $1 trillion in gains since March 2020 and the beginning of the pandemic,’ according to a study by the Institute for Policy Studies. The top five U.S. billionaires – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison – saw their wealth grow by a total of $101.7 billion, or 26%, during this period.

Among the pandemic profiteers are CEOs of companies like Zoom and Skype providing video conferencing, and Amazon providing online shopping to citizens under lockdown. Yet the success of these companies has not translated into better wages and safety conditions for their employees.

However, the political and ideological power of the billionaire class and their influence over domestic and global policymaking are increasing. Relevant in this regard is billionaire Bill Gates’ central role in the development and marketing of vaccines and interest in use of vaccines as a method of population control.

The pharmaceutical industry, i.e. Big Pharma, (including vaccine manufacturers) are known for inflating prices, avoiding taxes and manipulating the political process to maximize profit. Unfortunately, this corrupt industry is a key player in the race to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

The incoming Biden administration in the US has received extensive funding from the pharmaceutical industry, yet they have not agreed to cut the cost of a possible coronavirus vaccine developed with federal research dollars.

Rather, the Biden administration, also heavily funded by the big tech, finance and defense sectors, is poised to facilitate ‘The Great Reset;’ the initiative to remake the post-pandemic world order by the World Economic Forum.

The ‘Great Reset’

The World Economic Forum (WEF), which identifies itself as ‘the international organization for public-private partnership,’ (i.e., like the Council on Foreign Relations, a geopolitical corporate power agency) sees the social and economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as a ‘unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery.’

Speaking at a conference organized by the WEF in June 2020, former US Secretary of State, John Kerry expressed concern:

    “Forces and pressures that were pushing us into crisis over the social contract are now exacerbated……The world is coming apart, dangerously, in terms of global institutions and leadership.”

The ‘Great Reset’ envisioned by the WEF seeks to address these challenges by radical global restructuring. It seeks to reinvent ‘the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons…to build a new social contract…,’ with sustainable development and resilience as its ultimate objectives.

At its next annual gathering of the rich and powerful in Davos, Switzerland in January 2021, the WEF is expected to adopt the Great Reset and also incorporate youth leaders from around the world into the initiative through a virtual summit.

The stated goals of sustainability and resilience are laudable, but many are questioning the true objectives of both the WEF and the Great Reset. The pandemic simulation called Event 201, for example, was conducted in October 2019, about three months before the COVID-19 outbreak by the World Economic Forum in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The simulation predicted up to 65 million deaths due to a coronavirus. Many are wondering why these powerful organizations, having apparently already run the exact scenario as a test, failed to prevent or at least prepare the world for the imminent viral outbreak.

The global political economy has been moving in the direction of increasing technological and market integration through social media, artificial intelligence and biotechnology. In the wake of COVID-19, the trends towards digitalization and commoditization of economic and social relations have increased.

The ‘Great Reset’ seeks to accelerate and solidify these trends as well as expand corporate control of natural resources and state surveillance of individuals. In the post-pandemic ‘Great Reset,’ there would not be much life left outside the technological-corporate nexus dominated by monolithic agribusiness, pharmaceutical, communication, defense and other inter-connected corporations, and the governments and media serving them.

The proponents of the ‘Great Reset’ envisage a Brave New World where, ‘You will own nothing. And you will be happy. Whatever you want, you will rent, and it will be delivered by drones…´ But it is more likely that this elite-led revolution will make the vast majority of humanity a powerless, appendage of technology with little consciousness and meaning in their lives.

Resistance

The mainstream media establishment tends to cast all critiques of the dominant Covid narrative and solutions as ‘conspiracy theories.’ Yet, more and more people are questioning the narrative on the origin and management of the pandemic and, instead, see the need to shift to a truly democratic, just and ecological civilization.

Many of the anti-lockdown protests around the world have had a limited focus on social restrictions and personal freedom, desires usually in tune with the individualism of globalized consumer culture. While these have gained some attention in the mainstream media by their acceptability, the more focused and progressive demands for social and economic rights by civil society groups have received scant attention.

These include demands by numerous groups, such as Oxfam International, to make COVID-19 medicines and vaccines free and fair for all. There is also a demand for a global public inquiry, to be led by independent scientists, to gather evidence on the origin and evolution of COVID-19. In addition, there is a call for an International Biowarfare Crimes Tribunal, to bring perpetrators of the pandemic to justice, whether they be from the US or China.

The overall objective of these demands is in greater transparency, ethics and accountability in the use of technology, especially biotechnology and vaccines against COVID-19 and other viruses. The demand for enforcement of the Biological Weapons Convention calls on the ‘nations of the world, China, Russia, the US, to come together to enforce better verification systems for preventing the production of biological weapons in the future, before the world is put through multiple pandemics to come’. These are concerns to be included in an alternative ethical, wise and compassionate ‘Great Reset.’

The Covid pandemic is a turning point, an opportunity to change. The reset we need now is not the creation of a ‘post-human, post-nature’ world defined by unregulated corporate-led growth of artificial intelligence and biotechnology. We need to balance digitalization and commoditization with an ecological reset, a way of living that respects the environment, promotes agroecology, bioregionalism and local communities.

We need to raise our consciousness and understanding of humanity as a species in nature, our connectedness to each other and the rest of planetary life.

 


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+’://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);  

Will the New Fiscal Crises Improve International Tax Cooperation?

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 2020 – COVID-19 recessions have hit most countries, requiring massive fiscal responses. While most developing countries struggled with mounting debt even before the pandemic, many developed countries also face unprecedented macroeconomic pressures despite earlier spending cuts due to ‘fiscal consolidation’ policies.

Anis Chowdhury

Tax, not aid?
Before the third United Nations’ Financing for Development conference (FfD3) in Addis Ababa in mid-2015, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) head Angel Gurria acknowledged, “Much of [the tax not collected] is lost abroad in illicit flows. Developing countries also lose tax revenue from aggressive tax planning by multinational corporations. This cannot go on.”

Earlier, then OECD Development Assistance Committee chair, Erik Solheim foresaw an end to official development assistance (ODA): “Nothing would please me more than seeing the end of ODA, and for development to be financed through taxes, normal trade relations, long term investments and sustainable businesses.”

Solheim also observed: “Developing nations need to be in control of their own revenues and economic resources through sound taxation … The fight against corruption and tax havens is crucial in this context…The amount of money leaving developing countries in the form of illicit financial flows each year is many times greater than the amount of aid coming in”.

However, before and at the conference, developed economies ganged up to block developing country efforts to enhance international cooperation to stem such illicit outflows, especially tax evasion.

Losing resources
The UN-initiated Financial Accountability, Transparency & Integrity (FACTI) interim report has made staggering estimates of lost resources that could contribute to development:

    • 10% of world output held in offshore financial assets
    • criminal money laundering worth 2.7% of global output
    • US$7 trillion of private wealth hidden in mainly secret, tax havens
    • US$500~600 billion yearly in lost global corporate tax revenue due to ‘profit-shifting’ by transnational corporations (TNCs)
    • US$20~40 billion yearly in bribes in developing and transition economies

Illicit financial outflows
According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), developing countries have lost US$13.4 trillion in unrecorded capital flight since 1980, via trade mis-invoicing and tax evasion, primarily by TNCs and ‘high worth’ individuals, with US$1.1 trillion lost in 2013 alone.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

TNCs also steal money from developing countries through ‘same-invoice faking’, i.e., by shifting profits among subsidiaries by false trade invoicing. The GFI figure of illicit funds transfers does not include same-invoice faking, but estimates losses of US$700bn yearly from goods trade alone.

If trade in services is included, net resource outflows total about US$3 trillion yearly, 24 times more than OECD countries’ aid in 2014. In other words, developing countries lost $24 for every $1 of aid received in 2014, depriving them of much needed finance and government revenue for development.

Estimates of trade mis-invoicing in Africa during 2000-2016 averaged US$83 billion annually, totalling US$1.4 trillion, i.e., about 5.3% of Africa’s output value, worth about 11.4% of its trade in that period.

Such illicit outflows are greatest for Asia. Outflows grew by an average of over 9% yearly during 2004-2014, reaching around US$330 [272~388] billion in 2014. The equivalent of 7.6% of tax revenue in the Asia-Pacific region may have been lost to fraudulent trade declarations in 2016 alone.

OECD not inclusive, legitimate
Tax avoidance by TNCs frequently involves tax base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), enabled by loopholes in tax governance and the law.

In 2013, G20 leaders endorsed the OECD BEPS action plan, requesting it to recommend international standards and measures to tackle corporate income tax (CIT) avoidance. CIT evasion cost US$100~240 billion annually, i.e., 4~10% of global CIT revenue. In response, the OECD initiated the Inclusive Framework on BEPS and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

Developing countries are invited to participate on condition they commit to implement and enforce standards and norms they did not design or decide on, having been excluded from negotiations. Thus, the claim of developing country ‘inclusion’ in the OECD BEPS framework is misleading, to say the least.

Besides illegitimacy and other problems of exclusion, the proposals may also be inappropriate for developing countries. As the FACTI report observes, “Lack of inclusiveness in setting international norms results in implementation gaps and weakens the global fight against illegal and harmful tax practices”.

Digitalisation challenge
Rapid digitalisation presents new challenges, as TNC assets and profits can be easily moved among tax jurisdictions. Ensuring accurate company reporting on actual revenue and profits from each location is necessary for fairer taxation, but the status quo enables evasion instead.

Digitalisation threatens revenue collection as taxation practices try to catch up with innovations in tax evasion. Recent more ‘technology-driven’ businesses – increasingly involving ‘hard to value’ intangible assets such as patents and software – also require improving international corporate taxation.

Traditional assumptions about links between income, profits and physical presence now seem irrelevant, requiring new approaches, principles and norms. For example, countries with many users or consumers of digital services currently get little or no tax revenue from companies denying any physical presence.

But new international corporate taxation in this age of digitalisation should benefit all, both developing and developed countries. With marginal costs close to zero, all revenue can be taxed without adversely affecting digital services supply.

Current tax systems cannot prevent egregious tax avoidance by digital TNCs. For some time, the OECD has been discussing tax avoidance by digital TNCs within the BEPS framework without reaching consensus, mainly due to US opposition.

“With no consensus on taxation of the digital economy, some countries have resorted to unilateral measures”, noted the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters. But such actions have provoked retaliation, e.g., the US threatened new tariffs on French exports following France’s attempt to tax tech giants.

Systemic challenges, cooperative solutions
Poor financial accountability, transparency and integrity – enabling illicit financial flows – is a global problem. As the FACTI report emphasised, the problem needs global solutions, while taking country circumstances into account.

It noted, “all aspects of this problem require action and ownership in developed and developing countries; in source, transit, and destination countries; in public and private sectors; and in small and large countries alike… there are no silver bullets or single measures”.

Governments around the world face severe fiscal pressures responding to COVID-19 economic crises with adequate relief and recovery measures as revenue collection shrinks. As other donor countries emulate the recent UK foreign aid budget cuts, aid-reliant developing countries will face more financing challenges.

As the OECD noted, domestic and external financing levels and trends already fell short of SDG spending needs well before the COVID-19 crises. External private financial inflows to developing economies could drop by US$700 billion in 2020 compared to 2019, 60% worse than the 2008 global financial crisis impact.

Hence, tackling resource haemorrhage from developing countries has become all the more urgent as even developed countries scramble for more fiscal means. This could finally catalyse the long-needed cooperation on international tax matters led by the UN, still the most inclusive and legitimate platform for multilateral cooperation.

 


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+’://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);  

Securing Freedom to Eat

Guido Barilla, Chair of the Barilla Foundation, says the future of food is in our hands if we act to fix the problems in our food system. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Dec 1 2020 – For Zimbabwean organic farmer, Elizabeth Mpofu, access to healthy food is liberation.

Millions of people across the world go to bed hungry. Scores do not have access to nutritious food owing to an inequitable global food system focused on industrial mass food production. The food from this system is less nutritious, more expensive and less friendly to the environment.

How to achieve just, equitable food systems where more people do not only have enough to eat but have nutritious food was the central question food experts sought to answer at the one day ‘Resetting the Food System from Farm to Fork’. The international dialogue was co-hosted by the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutirition (BCFN) and Food Tank and forms a critical part of the discussions ahead of the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.

“We should not be talking about food security in the world today but about food sovereignty, if we are seeking to end hunger and malnutrition,” Mpofu told IPS in a telephonic interview from her farm in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo Province. It is here that where she grows drought-tolerant sorghum and finger millet, cowpeas, groundnuts on ten hectares of land.

“Food sovereignty is about giving farmers control over how they grow food, what food they grow, what seeds they use and how they consume that food because it is food grown in a sustainable way,” said Mpofu. This is a subject close to her heart as she doubles as the general coordinator of the international peasant movement, La Via Campesina, which advocates for an agroecological approach to farming. The methodology promotes resilient and sustainable farming and food systems through agroecology, diversified health and nutritious food systems.

Farmer Elizabeth Mpofu on her maize plot. Courtesy: Elizabeth Mpofu

A sustainable food system

The world needs a new food system where all actors from farmers, civil society, researchers, chefs, policymakers and business leaders act together to create a more sustainable food future for all, was a crucial message in Tuesday’s dialogue.

Guido Barilla, chairman of BCFN, said the Covid-19 pandemic had shown how interconnected we all are with each other and the planet.

“This crisis is the latest example of the increasing pressure and expectations being put on the world’s food system – not only to keep us all fed but to ensure we are all nourished and to do so while looking after the environment tackling the climate crisis and ensuring people’s livelihoods continue to be met,” Barilla said calling for a fundamental shift in attitude and making radical choices to build a transformative agenda for a sustainable and equitable future.

“I am not afraid of the change we need to make, the future of food is in our hands, said Barilla. “Let’s make the future grow. And the list of potential improvements, from farm to fork, could be long and exciting.”

Asma Khan, an Indian-born British chef and owner of the Darjeeling Express Restaurant in London, called for a shift in eating patterns of buying and eating less to cut food waste. 

“COVID was a lesson that food systems are vulnerable and that we are all connected,” Khan said urging that restaurateurs can promote food equity by respecting food and seeing food as an opportunity to make a difference.

“Let us not use food as our right … you don’t have a right to eat as there are many people waiting to eat …  Hunger is relentless,” said Khan.

“It is important that we respect the fact that we have a privilege to eat. I really would want to honour the food we eat because there are many people who do not have this opportunity and we should be responsible. There is no justification to throw away food.”

Khan’s comments led to a discussion by farmers who outlined the the myriad of challenges – from access to land, land grabs, poor skills, climate change and impact of COVID-19 that they face.

Speaking at a panel session on Farmers Feed the World, Leah Penniman, co-founder of Soul Fire Farm and author of Farming While Black, said land was a vital issue in empowering farmers in the United States. She called for reparations for indigenous communities and black communities who lost their land through expropriation.

“When we talk about reparations, we really need to look at land reform and distribution, and there are models such as the North East Farmers of Colour and the Black Family Land Trust which have ways of putting land into permanent protection so that it can be used for full developing agriculture,” said Penniman. She noted that the US government realised the need to put land in trust to ensure that people dispossessed of land could have the chance to return to farming.

In Africa, land grabs have affected farmers and the agriculture sector.

Land grabs are some of the biggest injustices are farmers have faced, said Edie Mukiibi, vice president of Slow Food International. He advocated the building of a movement to ensure that farmers are recognised for their roles in food production and that agroecological approaches be prioritised.

James Maes, president of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), agreed that farmers across the world faced similar challenges. However, contexts were different, he said, and there was a need to uphold the farmers’ rights to produce food. A change of narrative was needed on food systems debates.

“I would question the need to reset food systems. I believe resetting comes at a huge economic and social cost for those already involved in that food system,” Maes said, noting that the perspective should be on improving and empowering farmers to build resilience and to enhance their production.

As a farmer, Mpofu had a positive perspective on sustainable food systems:

“We have been talking about food security year in year out. We need to stop filling bellies and start promoting nutrition, and this lies in agroecological approaches.”

 


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+’://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);  

Aafaq Auto Fest surprises visitors with a helicopter and a giant boat

Dubai, Nov. 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The second edition of the Auto Fest held by Aafaq Islamic Finance, the leading Islamic Finance Company for individuals and companies in the UAE, kicked off last Thursday, while visitors were waiting for surprises that included the presentation of a helicopter and a giant boat made by the national company, IMG.

Aafaq Auto Fest, which runs until December 5th at Last Exit–Al Khawaneej, offers a package of exclusive financing offers including 0% profit rate on select vehicles. The first day of the event saw a growth in visitor numbers of at least 50% compared to visitors to the first edition of the Aafaq Auto Fest held last October.

Mr. Rashid Mahboob Al Qubaisi, CEO of Aafaq Islamic Finance, insured that innovation is a key element in the company's strategy to develop advanced financing products that suit a wide segment of consumers. He has pointed out that innovation enhances the competitiveness of the car finance market in the UAE and that companies that do not offer new initiatives and do not innovate lose their competitiveness.

Moreover, he has added “The Covid–19 pandemic has led us to step up efforts and create new ideas that serve Aafaq's clients, enhance their relationship with them on the basis of transparency and provide the best customer experience. The idea of introducing a helicopter and boat finance product has attracted more visitors to Aafaq Auto Fest, which opens its doors from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Our team will be happy to answer visitors' inquiries about car specifications, facilitate immediate financing pre–approval in collaboration with car dealers within Dubai including; Al Tayer Motors, Al Ghandi Auto, IMG Boats, Al Jazeeri Auto, Jeepers and Trek Bikes.

According to this pilot program, Aafaq provides its customers with financing for up to AED 500,000 for the purchase of new and very distinctive vehicles for up to five years, offering the possibility of paying the first installment after six months, quick approvals, and various other benefits.

As part of its outstanding offerings, Aafaq Auto Fest offers the opportunity to acquire IMG boats, a Dubai fishing boat manufacturer with the highest standards of design, performance, and efficiency. Auto Fest also provides visitors with the opportunity to look closely at a civilian helicopter used in a wide range of functions.

Attachment


Pacific Data Hub to Make Data Accessible for All

By External Source
Dec 1 2020 (IPS-Partners)

Pacific Governments, agencies, donors and civil society now have a central source of reliable and current data to help them to make decisions that affect Pacific Islanders.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has backed The Pacific Community (SPC) to create and launch the Pacific Data Hub, which will fill data gaps in the Pacific and provide trusted and evidence-based information to decision-makers.

New Zealand is currently the primary funder, putting $6.5 million over nearly four years into the SPC-led Pacific Statistics and Data project, a region-wide regional initiative out of which the Pacific Data Hub was created. Early on in the project, Australia also provided in-kind support.

“Many of the problems facing the Pacific are too big to tackle alone. The Pacific Data Hub will enable a more joined-up response to development issues,” said Belinda Brown, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Consul-General in New Caledonia.

“It provides a platform to share knowledge and build an ongoing cycle of evidence, which will drive learning and better outcomes over time.”

The platform serves as a digital gateway to information from Pacific countries, development partners, academia and research organisations and the private sector, and will act as a single, authoritative point of entry for all Pacific data, information and publications.

“Access to reliable data enables us to make decisions that are informed by evidence. The Pacific Data Hub will increase confidence in the decisions we make through the New Zealand Aid Programme, and is particularly important at a time when we are helping countries address COVID-19 and respond to its wide-ranging socio-economic impacts,” Ms Brown said.

SPC Director General Dr Stuart Minchin said this is an exciting time for the Pacific, as the Pacific Data Hub had been nearly two years in the making.

“The Pacific Data Hub has been entirely created and developed in the Pacific, by the Pacific, with the guiding objective of improving the lives of the Pacific peoples. We’re excited about the launch and by what this will do for the Pacific well into the future,” he said.

Source: The Pacific Community (SPC)

HIV Prevention Trials Network Awarded U.S. National Institutes of Health Funding to Continue Research Agenda

DURHAM, N.C., Nov. 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Drs. Myron S. Cohen and Wafaa M. El–Sadr, principal investigators of the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), in collaboration with FHI 360, have received a seven–year award from the U.S. National Institutes of Health as part of the next funding cycle (2020–2027) for the Network. The core and protocol–specific funding will enable the HPTN to continue its HIV prevention research efforts focused on developing new biomedical prevention methods and optimizing the integration of proven biomedical, behavioral and structural interventions to achieve high–effectiveness and impact.

During this new funding cycle, the HPTN will focus on the following four priority areas:

  1. Identifying novel antiretroviral (ARV)–based methods and delivery systems for HIV prevention
  2. Developing multi–purpose technologies for HIV prevention as well as for contraception and prevention of other sexually transmitted infections
  3. Evaluating broadly neutralizing antibodies alone or in a combination that prevent HIV acquisition, in collaboration with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network
  4. Designing and conducting population–specific integrated strategy studies that combine biomedical, socio–behavioral, and structural interventions for HIV prevention to maximize their effectiveness

The HPTN will also continue as a partner in the COVID–19 Prevention Network (CoVPN). The recently–formed CoVPN evaluates biological agents, including vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, to prevent COVID–19.

"In the absence of an HIV vaccine, effective non–vaccine prevention tools and strategies have become critically important," said Dr. Cohen, HPTN principal investigator and director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "This tenet is at the core of the HPTN's mission, moving forward research to identify biomedical interventions and integrated strategies that help reduce the global incidence of HIV."

Recognizing the challenges of long–term adherence to daily oral pre–exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the HPTN has intensely pursued research to evaluate the safety and efficacy of long–acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB LA) for PrEP. Future approaches may include the use of implants, patches, and microneedles to deliver CAB LA and/or other long–acting ARVs. Combining ARV–based prevention tools that protect against HIV acquisition with efficacious contraceptive agents is compelling for persons who desire contraception and HIV prevention. Combinations of monoclonal antibodies will be evaluated for their potential to prevent HIV acquisition.

"We recognize that demonstrating the efficacy of a new agent is the first step in a critical research trajectory," said Dr. El–Sadr, HPTN principal investigator, director of ICAP, and professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University in New York. "Achieving impact requires reaching and engaging diverse populations and achieving high uptake and adherence with prevention methods, compelling the need for integration of biomedical with behavioral and structural interventions."

FHI 360, a nonprofit human development organization, has been the leadership and operations center for the HPTN for more than 15 years and will continue to serve that role. FHI 360 is based in Durham, NC.

"FHI 360 is committed to HIV prevention efforts as we all work towards reducing the rate of new HIV infections in populations deemed at greatest risk around the world," said Dr. Nirupama Sista, director of the HPTN Leadership and Operations Center at FHI 360.

About the HPTN

The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) is a worldwide collaborative clinical trials network that brings together investigators, ethicists, community members, and other partners to develop and test the safety and efficacy of interventions designed to prevent the acquisition and transmission of HIV. The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, Office of The Director, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, all part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, co–fund the HPTN. The HPTN has collaborated with more than 85 clinical research sites in 19 countries to evaluate new HIV prevention interventions and strategies in populations with a disproportionate HIV burden. The HPTN research agenda "" more than 50 trials ongoing or completed with over 161,000 participants enrolled and evaluated "" is focused primarily on discovering new HIV prevention tools and evaluating integrated strategies, including biomedical interventions combined with behavioral risk reduction interventions and structural interventions. For more information, visit hptn.org.

Media inquiries: Eric Miller, +1.919.384.6465; emiller@fhi360.org