Archive from March, 2015
Mar 31, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Britain to blame for illegal immigrant crisis, says Calais mayor

Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of the French port, says Britain should be forced to abandon border checks for travellers arriving from Europe
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent – 30 Mar 2015
Britain is to blame for illegal immigrant problems on the French side of the Channel because of its lack of commitment to the “European project”, the mayor of Calais has claimed.
Natacha Bouchart accused the British government of “despising” the native population of Calais and said the UK should be forced to sign up to Europe’s open borders agreement.
Miss Bouchart intensified her war of words with Britain as the French port struggles to cope with thousands of illegal immigrants, mainly from African countries, who have gathered in the town to attempt illegal crossings into this country.
In an interview given by Miss Bouchart to the Council of Europe’s journal, she said: “We are suffering the consequences of the British government’s actions, which takes from Europe the things that suit it, but doesn’t want to get fully involved in the European project.
“The British government … has a tendency too often to despise the local population, to disregard elected officials, and frankly will take no part of the responsibility.”
She repeated previous claims that Britain’s generous benefits system is a magnet for illegal immigrants
“They want to go to England because they can expect better conditions on arrival there than anywhere else in Europe or even internationally,” the mayor said.
“There are no ID cards. They can easily find work outside the formal economy, which is not really controlled.
“They can get social welfare support that doesn’t exist in other countries.
“It’s migrants themselves who arrive in England, and who pass on the message that there is plenty more space for migrants to come.”
She said Calais had to deal with the migrants because Britain “has not adopted the EU rules contained in the Schengen agreement”, which removed internal border controls across 26 member states.
The Home Office set up UK border controls in France 15 years ago in a bid to prevent illegal immigrants reaching British soil to claim asylum.
“The UK is not really interested, since border controls take place on French soil,” said Miss Bouchart.
“It provides no support to the city of Calais, nor to the local population, and it leaves the mayor of Calais to manage the problem without financial assistance.”
In another thinly-veiled reference to Britain, she added: “A country cannot remain both in and out of Europe, creating problems but providing no compensation and no support to local authorities, such as mine and others, which are left alone to assume huge responsibilities.”
The mayor called for the EU to force all nations to join a new version of the Schengen system – meaning Britain would be required to drop passport checks at the border.
“At European level we need to insist that all EU countries sign up to the Schengen accords, which must also be revised,” said Miss Bouchart.
“Each European country must be obliged to participate in a new mechanism.
“There must be restrictions, quotas that are revised every two to three years according to world events, because that’s key.
“Each country will have to create reception centres to provide the humanitarian assistance to migrants – something that doesn’t yet exist.
“We need to sanction European countries who don’t want to take any responsibility in this global problem.
“Attention paid to the consequences of migration is inadequate.
“We need to stop the hypocrisy. This is not going to stop tomorrow. The conflicts continue. People continue to arrive.”.
Many were prepared to risk their lives in order to reach Britain, believing they are heading to “El Dorado”, she said.
“The real magnet is not the city of Calais but the benefits that are perceived in Great Britain,” she told the home affairs select committee.

Mar 31, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Cees Bruggemans: SA growth momentum

Feb 16 2015 07:48 Cees Bruggemans – Fin24
WE TEND to focus on tailwinds boosting growth or headwinds reducing it. Much rarer is the focus on growth momentum. What keeps us ticking over, even steadily, in the presence of many headwinds and few tailwinds? And can it persist, or will it die out eventually, like a wind becalming?
A given set of production factors (equipment, labour, management) can produce more simply by innovating. We end up calling it productivity.
Much new innovation is embodied in new equipment. One doesn’t need to expand capacity, merely replace old equipment with new, enhanced capabilities. Same applies to labour. And allowing for clever thinking doing new things better.
In the process some old stuff may get displaced (creative destruction) and new income generated.
The head count need not increase, yet output may keep rising, provided the productive sparking remains uninhibited. The profit incentive is often strong enough to keep things going in private enterprises with successful franchises.
In the public sector, it is the sheer size and inertia of the state, along with a tax base and borrowing capacity that allows forward momentum to go unchecked up to a point.
Both these vehicles are basically on automatic transmission. You need to actively brake them to prevent them from moving forward.
Though heavy headwinds may erode growth momentum, there remains a base load that can remain persistently active.
The stickiness of wage growth is one feature reinforcing these tendencies. Real remuneration growth tends to be baked into the cake in SA for strong enough insiders, giving them at least a minimum real income growth benefit, either because skill and talent is scarce, or unions negotiate using their collective market power or government exerts its political power.

In the process, real demand has an upside bias built in.

The poor can also benefit if a large enough social safety net has been created. We have, with 16 million social grant beneficiaries receiving over R100bn annually, and automatically adjusted for inflation (plus), either by way of real grant increases or more beneficiaries (and only in generous times both).

Similarly, the pricing behaviour of businesses, protecting their margins with cost-plus pricing, or at least ensuring inflation compensation or better in its pricing.

Credit need not be a growth engine, as long as it at least isn’t a restrictive feature. Credit growth approximating nominal GDP advances also accommodates the growth process here described, rather than stimulating or restricting it.

Modern SA has all these features. It goes a long way to explaining while some of our many headwinds haven’t quite killed off the growth momentum, even if not for a lack of trying.

Put differently, on being presented labour market statistics showing yet another year of steady, if very modest, growth in formal employment at a time when the economy really struggles to make headway, other data may collaborate what at first brush appears unlikely.
For instance, during a period of five years, reckoned from 4Q2009 to 4Q2014 (effectively the latest business cycle upswing), the SA passenger car park (total fleet on the road) increased from an estimated 5.4 million to 6.1 million cars, a gain of some 13%. Total formal employment grew from 9.9 million to 10.9 million, a 10% gain.

Perhaps slow and very modest, barely half what we could have done if we had applied ourselves more appropriately (and had been more lucky). But it is still growth at a time when Greek GDP cumulatively shrank by 25%.

We have a very intricate, finely meshed, insider economic machine that has inertia, alternatively retaining good growth momentum even in times of stress.

It keeps us ticking over while waiting for better times to arrive. That, apparently, is also part of our national economic DNA.

Certainly, there is the R100bn (annualised) oil purchasing power injection of recent months. That should lift sagging household spirits.

Mar 31, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Impact of SA economy bigger than estimated

Mar 28 2015 Fin24
Johannesburg – It seems South Africans could soon get another major adjustment of the gross domestic product (GDP) and that may prevent a ratings downgrade by a few years, according to economist Mike Schussler.
He said in the markets everybody knows that the South African economy, while bigger, has a slightly lower growth trend.
“But it was news that rating agencies took on board as did our National Treasury, SA Reserve Bank and all economic forecasters. Our growth trend had declined and so had our growth potential,” explained Schussler.
The latest Quarterly Employment Survey number released earlier this week show that the number of people in SA’s non-farm formal sector had again been underestimated.
“Simply put, we underestimated the number of people on our payroll by 408 000 or about 5%. We have done this before when, in April 2007, Statistics SA also acknowledged that they had underestimated the non-farm payrolls by about 750 000 or about 10% at the time,” said Schussler said in an opinion piece for TreasuryOne.
Overall the old data said SA’s economy grew at an average rate of 3% since 2006, but the new data – despite SA’s GDP increasing with at least 3.4% in nominal terms – showed that real GDP growth averaged only 2.9% or a little less.
“Most of the world revised their numbers in 2014 and their GDP’s increased slightly more and in some cases like Nigeria much more than South Africa’s. Our growth was a little worse and we may not have known it then, but we fell a little in the economic league,” explained Schussler.
“In short, most countries had an increase in their average growth rate over the period; we had a growth rate decline. Growing at 3% or above over a period of time certainly puts one higher on the investor radar screens and also the odds of a ratings downgrade would decrease somewhat.”
The total wages and salaries missed is nearly R130bn over a year. This alone adds 3.4% to South Africa’s GDP.
“It is likely that GDP will adjust with more than 5%, which again should impact on recent growth and, while it again may not make it more positive, it does indicate that we had better growth over the last decade or so than we previously thought,” said Schussler.
“Again all the GDP ratios such as debt to GDP will again be adjusted in our favour and again the deficit to GDP may actually be much more favourable and that may actually starve off a ratings downgrade by a few years even.”
The GDP Growth rate should also be adjusted upwards and, while it will not put South Africa much higher up the economic rankings ladder, it will still help to improve the country’s overall situation.
The economic potential of SA would also now be a little higher and that plays a big role in forecasting.
“Perhaps even the rand would have been a little stronger as our growth rate does play a small role along with the current account deficit to GDP ratio, which too would have declined to say 5% in the four quarter and not 5.4%, which could have helped a heck of a lot in perceptions about SA,” said Schussler.
“It is likely that inflation would have been a little lower and particularly petrol and maize prices should have been lower.”
A small adjustment would have had a large role to play in the numbers that matter – from the price of petrol to food and after tax income to the interest rates obtainable.
“Let’s hope our statisticians hold things together better in the future,” said Schussler.
“When small numbers get missed the ability of bigger numbers to impress get dashed. Dashed hopes lead to taxable mistakes and punishable ratings.”

Mar 31, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

How mismatched profiles can impact your ability to access credit

29 March 2015, News24
Thandaza Zulu* (not her real name) was in a good credit and financial state, confident that she ticked all the right boxes to qualify for the home loan she was applying for to realise her dream of owning a home of her own. She was unfortunately declined for the loan based on the fact that she had ‘too many’ accounts and in addition, she posed a high risk as some of them were allegedly not up to date.
As far as she was aware, she only had six accounts which were all in good standing.
‘What Thandaza had been a victim of is known as a mismatched profile,’ says Credit Ombud Nicky Lala Mohan. ‘This often happens when either an ID number is captured incorrectly when applying for credit or in instances where the ID number of the person applying for credit turns out to have several possible ID matches on the credit providers’ systems,’ explains Lala Mohan.
In some instances, this mismatch can happen as a result of people sharing the same ID number because of an error on the Department of Home Affairs’ system.
The President recently announced in his State of the Nation Address that South African’s would soon be able to apply at their local bank for their smart identification cards. This exercise will surely go a long way in cleaning up Home Affairs’ database and assist consumers who might have a problem of ‘sharing’ an ID number with someone else.
In Thandaza’s case, she was mismatched with about seven different people who were originally from Swaziland. This dramatically increased the number of accounts on her credit profile from six to 18 accounts.
‘Thandaza’s case presented what initially looked like fraud, but turned out to be a mismatched profile when further investigated. It emerged that the people whose accounts were appearing on her profile indeed opened legitimate accounts at store branches which trade in Swaziland, but are originally South African based credit providers,’ says Lala Mohan.
The unfortunate instance of mismatched profiles such as was the case with Thandaza, happens as a result of ID number sequencing. South African ID numbers use dates of birth as the first six digits, followed by what is known as a sequence number, which is made up by the four digits which follow the numbers which capture an individual’s date of birth. ‘In this consumer’s case, although her name and surname were not the same as those of the seven people she had a possible match with, she shared an identical date of birth and sequence number which they had in their Swaziland identity documents,’ continues Lala Mohan.
The office of the Credit Ombud successfully assisted Thandaza to correct her profile and remove the accounts which did not belong to her. An important lesson from this case is that consumers need to be aware of what information is on their profiles and are advised to do the following:
• Check your profile regularly and be familiar with how many accounts and with whom you have them so that you are able to pick up any discrepancies in the number of accounts reflecting on your profile
• If you find any accounts that you are not familiar with, lodge a dispute with the concerned credit bureau
• Ensure that you choose the correct option when applying for credit when asked about your marital status – being married in community of property or with an ante-nuptial has an effect on listings where married individuals’ profiles are concerned
• Be aware when stores close down or get bought out by another credit provider as the original name of the store may change to the one of the ‘new’ credit provider on your credit profile list of accounts
Other forms of credit profile discrepancies happen as a result of your personal details being duplicated, although this is normally rare. If a credit bureau picks up this duplication, they generally would try and assist the consumer to rectifying the error.
‘It is vital that South African consumers get into the habit of checking their credit profiles as it can have negative effects on their credit transacting or even their ability to secure a job or promotion when they find themselves in a situation such as the one Thandaza found herself in,’ warns Lala Mohan. ‘Even worse, in some cases people are pursued for debt collection as a result of these mismatched accounts,’ he adds.
According to statistics from the National Credit Regulator (NCR), only 173 194 credit reports were issued in the last quarter. This, when compared to the fact that there are 22.5 million consumers who are credit active in the country, is a drop in the ocean.
Consumers can contact the office of the Credit Ombud for free assistance when they have been listed on a credit bureau incorrectly or unfairly, have been garnished incorrectly or unfairly or have any problems relating to their credit agreements from clothing and furniture retailers.
The office can be contacted on 0861 66 28 37; or at ombud@creditombud.org.za or visit their website at www.creditombud.org.za for further information.
– MyNews24

Mar 27, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

SA outranks US as top global sustainable tourism destination

2015-03-09 Traveller 24
Cape Town – Responsible Travel, a website dedicated to advocating sustainable and responsible travel throughout the world, has published the first league table of tourist boards, and South Africa has gain a top spot on the list of sustainable countries along with Bhutan, Sweden and England.

Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel, praised South Africa specifically for their achievement in making responsible tourism such a priority.
Other African countries did not fare as well as SA on the list, with Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya scoring 4 out of 6, Zambia scoring 2 out of 6, Madagascar scoring 3 out of 6, and Botswana, with the closest score to SA’s, scoring at 5 out of 6.

The countries were graded by their tourism boards’ commitment to responsible tourism, as outlined on their websites, and asked whether more should be done to ensure tax payers’ money is being used to promote local over global initiatives.

The national tourist board websites of Responsible Travel’s top 50 selling countries were examined and six questions were asked, relating to tourists boards’ vision, policies and activity in responsible and sustainable tourism.

The questions were:

1. Is there any mention anywhere of responsible or sustainable tourism?

2. Does responsible or sustainable tourism feature in their vision/mission?

3. Do they have any specific policies for responsible or sustainable tourism?

4. Do they have evidence based reports on any achievements in responsible or sustainable tourism?

5. Do they identify holidays on their site that have been screened or audited for responsible tourism?

6. Do they provide any educational information or tips for tourists about responsible tourism?

A maximum of 6 points (all covered) and a minimum of 0 could be scored.

Out of the tourist boards surveyed, seven scored 0. These boards belonged to China, Finland, Ethiopia, Vietnam, France, Japan and the USA, meaning they had no reference to responsible or sustainable tourism anywhere on their sites.

On the contrary, Bhutan, South Africa, England and Sweden all scored 6 points.

Justin Francis says South Africa sets a true example of how national and local strategies were implemented in order to achieve responsible tourism. “In many cases around the world,” Francis says, “we think responsibility in tourism is being achieved despite the tourist board not because of it. South Africa, however is a real exception.”

Because “strategies for responsible tourism is enshrined in law and policy in South Africa, with real programs of work to deliver it, results are evident,” says Francis.

He believes that “without any clearly visible published policies for responsible tourism we cannot be sure tourist boards have any way to manage tourism for the benefit of local communities”.

The full table of responsible countries is as follows:

6 out of 6

South Africa
Bhutan
Sweden
England

5 out of 6

Botswana
Costa Rica
Chile
Morocco
Norway
Laos
Indonesia

4 out of 6

India
Peru
Burma (Myanmar)
Namibia
Tanzania
Uganda
Canada
Kenya

3 out of 6

Spain
Madagascar
Scotland
Jordan
Nepal
Australia

2 out of 6

Croatia
Ecuador
Thailand
Cambodia
Romania
Zambia

1 out of 6

Italy
Cuba
Malaysia
Sri Lanka
Turkey
Portugal
Trinidad & Tobago
Greece
Iceland
Bolivia
Tibet
Montenegro

0 out of 6

Finland
Vietnam
Japan
France
China
Ethiopia
USA

Mar 27, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Calais in crisis: Illegal immigrants reach port with NO border checks as they start targeting cars and caravans to get into Britain

By James Slack for the Daily Mail
Published: 00:02 GMT, 23 March 2015

• Immigrants make it across the entire EU without a single border check
• Due to heightened lorry security, many try to stow away in cars
• British tourists are being warned they might be targeted in Calais

British tourists are today warned to beware migrants trying to stow away in their cars or caravans amid a ‘crisis’ at Calais.
An investigation by MPs found illegal immigrants heading for Britain are making it across the entire EU without a single border check.
Ahead of the Easter getaway, the situation has become so severe lorries are being told not to stop within 125 miles of the port for fear of people trying to clamber aboard. MPs say that, as a result of greater lorry security, cars and motor homes are a prime target.
In a report published today, the Commons home affairs committee says migrants trying to reach the ‘El Dorado’ of Britain are being caught at a rate of 100 a day.At the same time, the number gathering in squalid camps around Calais has almost doubled to 2,500 in the space of a few months.
The committee found evidence of migrants who arrived in the EU via Turkey or Italy making their way to Calais without ‘encountering any border controls’.
Its report, titled ‘Migration failures lead to a crisis in Calais’, blamed the Schengen Agreement allowing EU citizens to travel from one member state to another without passport checks.
The UK opts out of the agreement, which Margaret Thatcher refused to sign 30 years ago to sneers from fellow European leaders. But even the French authorities have now declared Schengen a ‘failure’.
Borders allowing access to the EU are not being properly policed, allowing tens of thousands of people from the likes of Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and Syria to flood in via Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Fabrice Leggeri, the executive director of European border agency Frontex, has warned that Libya alone has up to a million potential migrants ready to leave for the EU. The number massed at Calais has almost doubled since September from 1,300 to 2,500.
Sir Charles Montgomery, director-general of the Home Office’s Border Force, said staff detected 30,180 attempts to enter the UK in the ten months to the end of January. This compared to 18,000 in the entire preceding year.
Yet when caught, the migrants were handed over to the French who simply let them go.
The MPs say: ‘We find it bizarre that there are thousands of attempts to enter the UK illegally through Calais, at great cost and inconvenience to business and leisure travellers, transport companies, and hauliers, and yet the people who are caught are simply released back into the French countryside.’ The Government is helping to fund more security fences around Calais.
THEY USED MY FIAT PANDA TO SNEAK INTO THE UK
When she found an illegal immigrant hiding in the back seat of her Fiat Panda after driving home from France, Sue Taber couldn’t believe her eyes.
Miss Taber thinks the man sneaked into her car when she left it briefly unlocked at Calais in September last year.
Discovering him upon arrival in Kent, Miss Taber told the man ‘in no uncertain terms’ to ‘get lost’.
She said at the time: ‘I’ve got a Fiat Panda for goodness sake, with two dogs in the back.
‘And I’ve managed to get though passport control and everything else with a stowaway on board.’
But the report says there are fears that as security around freight traffic increases, migrants ‘will adapt to hiding in a wider variety of vehicles, including private cars or caravans’.
The home affairs committee warns: ‘Schengen was intended to allow free movement, but not the free movement of illegal migrants. It was based on the assumption that the external border would be secure.’
Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: ‘The crisis in Calais is a direct result of the soft EU external border in the Southern Mediterranean and the Greek-Turkish border.’
The MPs also cast doubt on the Home Office’s ability to carry out new exit checks on everybody leaving the country from April 8.
Ferry operators have warned the measure could create travel chaos for passengers and long queues. The MPs said they expected ministers to agree a series of exemptions – such as not checking the passports of British tourists leaving by coach.
A Home Office spokesman said it had committed £12million to help reinforce security at Calais, ‘including installing security fencing and improving the flow of traffic to reduce the risk of queuing vehicles being targeted by migrants’.

Mar 27, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

A to host international conference on responsible tourism

2015-03-23 13:48- Traveller 24
Cape Town – How can tourism be used to make better places for people to live in, and better places for people to visit?
This is to be the key focus of the 11th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations, to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 14 – 15 April 2015.
Those who attend can expect the conference to unpack what has been achieved in Cape Town, South Africa as well as elsewhere around the world.
“It will allow for the documentation of good practices applied by different producer groups into a ‘Responsible Tourism Practitioner’s guide, which will set the agenda for change over the next 10 years,” the organisers have said.
Following is the line-up of International Speakers with discussions expected to focus on “practical solutions that create prosperous and sustainable destinations, the responsibility of tourism producer groups and the partnerships needed to make it work”.
Matthias Leisinger, Vice-President of Corporate Responsibility, Kuoni Group, Switzerland
Matthias Leisinger has been with Kuoni since 2003. He initially served as a project manager in the Environmental Affairs unit of Kuoni Switzerland, which was later restructured to a Group-level function. He was appointed Vice-President of Corporate Responsibility for the Kuoni Group in 2008.
Matthias Leisinger is also a member of the advisory boards of the Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO) and of Swisscontact, and has been chairman of “The Code”, an organization which fights the sexual exploitation of children in the tourism sector, since 2010.
Manisha Pande, Director and General Manager, Village Ways, India
Together with her husband and friends they started the first Village Ways initiative in the Himalayan foothills mainly to stop the increasing depopulation of the local rural communities of Binsar, as villagers left to find work in towns and cities. This first project established a much-needed new income stream through community-owned tourism.
Over the years, she gained experience working with many aspects of village communities and has combined this knowledge with her creative skills to bring remote tourism to the international market, promoting community-based stays in the states of Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Kerala and Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, with a roll out of further community tourism enterprises in the years to come.
Adama Bah, ASSET Gambia, Gambia
Adama Bah worked as a hotelier for 25 years and in 1995 formed a small advocacy group in Gambia known as Gambia Tourism Concern (GTC). During a GTC Workshop on Community Based Tourism Enterprises the idea of creating a trade association of small scale enterprises in tourism (ASSET) emerged www.asset-gambia.com
Adama co-founded the Institute of Travel and Tourism of Gambia and has been the Chairman of the board of directors since it was founded in 2008. www.itogambia.org
Furthermore Adama Bah founded the International Centre for Responsible Tourism-West Africa. It was established as a network of tourism professionals and regional training centre in West Africa to help in the training of a significant number of Gambian and West African men and women on issues of Responsible Tourism.
The 11th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations is hosted by the City of Cape Town and supported by RT Cape Town, Hotel Verde, Turkish Airlines, V&A Waterfront, Avis, and ImpactChoice.

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