China to lighten the tax burden on individuals and businesses

China has vowed to cut the value-added tax rate on various sectors as of May 2018. The sectors affected include manufacturing, transportation, construction, telecommunication and agricultural sectors.

The motivation behind this decision is to lighten the tax burden on individuals and businesses. The government is also looking to boost domestic demand in a year of economic growth that slowed down in 2017.

According to Reuters, China’s State Council said VAT cutd are expected to save 240 billion yuan ($38 billion) in taxes this year.

Earlier this month, Premier Li Keqiang highlighted the tax cuts for the manufacturing and transportation. The tax rate cut for the manufacturing sector will lower to 16% from 17%, while the rate for other industries will be cut to 10% from 11%.

The findings from Goldman Sachs research indicated that the tax cut is a positive move. “However, the magnitude of the cut is relatively small and is already factored into the official fiscal budget.”

The research also stated that the coming weeks will reveal details of other tax cut measures.

Source: Reuters

India’s water crisis

India faces a severe water shortage this summer, with the basins at a lower level than a year ago. The temperature is also expected to rise.

Apart from being the world’s second most populated country, India has the fast-growing middle class that places an increase on the demands for clean and safe water.

Droughts have worsened agricultural activities in Maharashtra and Northern Karnataka, which are the two worst hit regions.

In 2015, World Economic Forum conducted studies, indentifying the water crisis as the most serious problem the world faces in the next decade.


According to Asian Development Bank’s forecast, India may end up with 50% water deficiency by 2030.
Recently, WaterAid put together a report that indicated that India is among the countries worst affected by unclean and unsafe water.

About 76 million of India’s population lives outside the possibility of safe water supply. The report also says that the situation could worsen until proper measures are taken up.

Civil society, political and business leaders said the issue of water security is the most severe and problematic socio politico economic challenge faced today.

Image: Daily EcoPol Project

The Indian government will need to take a long-term commitment to find ways of survival with heavy assistance of outside resources.


Remembering Ahmed Kathrada

Today marks the first anniversary of the death of South African politician and anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Mohamed ‘Kathy’ Kathrada.

He died on 28 March 2018 at the age of 87, after suffering from complications of a Cerebral Embolism and was buried the next day in Johannesburg in accordance with Islamic rituals.

Kathrada spend most of his life involved in the struggle against Apartheid and other injustices.
Here are the few highlights of his life:

1. He was only 12 years old when he joined the Young Communist League of South Africa. At the age of 17 in 1946, he decided to drop out o school and work full time in the offices of Transvaal Passive Resistance Council.

2. Kathrada became the youngest of the Rivonia Trialists, alongside Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki. The trial continued for four years, from 1957 until March 1961.

3. In 1952, he helped organise the Defiance Campaign against Unjust Laws, and ended up being charged and sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years.

4. At the ANC’s first legal conference in South Africa‚ Kathrada was elected onto its National Executive Committee.

5. In 1994 Kathrada was elected to Parliament and served as then President Mandela’s Parliamentary Counsellor.

Kathrada also holds a Bachelor of Arts and he was voted 46th in the Top 100 Great South Africans in 2004.

Sources : Mail & Guardian, www.

China’s new facial recognition to tighten security

Chinese police are on a mission to tighten the country’s security by introducing innovative facial recognition technology.

The system is part of Skynet, a nationwide monitoring program that was launched in 2005 to increase the use and capabilities of surveillance cameras.

The use of facial recognition technology is on the rise in China, where it is used to increase efficiencies and improve policing. Currently, there are 170 million surveillance cameras in China, with the hopes to have 570 million active by 2020.

According to developers, the system works regardless of angle or lighting condition and has led to the arrest of more than 2,000 criminals and trespassers over the last two years.

Cameras are used to catch jaywalkers, find fugitives, track people’s regular hangouts and predict crime before it happens.

Police officers wear augmented-reality smart glasses that recognise facial features and licence plates in near real time, checking them against a database of suspects.

Across China, the new facial recognition technology can scan the country’s entire population. Approximately 16 cities, municipalities and provinces are using a frighteningly fast surveillance system with a 99,8% accuracy.

CNet reports that in 2016, the Brazilian Internal Revenue Service introduced a facial recognition system to help identify international travellers arriving at the country’s airport, which in turn improves customs service procedures.


Brazil’s new World Cup Kit Revealed

There are only 79 days left before the FIFA World Cup Russia gets underway in Moscow, Russia.

Nike has revealed their Brazilian (home and away) World Cup kit.

According to Footy Headlines, the kit will be debuted in one of the two friendly matches against either Russia or Germany. Brazil’s home kit has always attracted attention with the bright yellows and greens, a hint of whites and blues to represent the federation badges.

The home jersey features are subtle zig-zag or waveform pattern on the sleeves. The World Cup home shirt however, will have more vibrant base colours than the last few shirts, as Nike’s designers attempted to replace the iconic 1970 World Cup look. The tapping on the upper back and collar of the Brazil 2018 World Cup is blue and green, inspired by the colours of the flag. The Brazilian World Cup away shirt however, is based on the same design as the home shirt. It is royalblue with a unique stars pattern covering the entire front.

Puma and Adidas have also revealed their new kits for some of the biggest nations such as Germany, Spain and Argentina.

Source :

Why the Brazilian interest rate was cut to a record low

The board of directors of the Central Bank recently decided to cut the basic interest rate for the Brazilian economy, known as Selic (The Sistema Especial de Liquidação e Custodia (SELIC). The rate was reduced from 7% to 6.50% per year, reaching the lowest recorded rate since it was first set in 1986.

According to Reuters, the Central Bank has indicated that it will continue cutting interest rates at its May meeting.
“Unless the Brazilian real comes under pressure for domestic or external reasons, the Central Bank will be in no hurry to begin the tightening cycle,” economists at Societe Generale wrote in a report.

The Brazilian government has attributed this calculated condition to numerous factors, including fiscal adjustments, public spending ceiling and a general more positive economic stance.

A lower interest rate is good news for the consumer because it means better access to jobs, stronger economic growth and greater access to credit.

Source : Reuters,

Russian Shopping Mall death toll rises to 64

A shopping centre mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo (Russia) caught a massive fire that left at least 64 shoppers dead and several injured.

Images from Russian news channel showed thick black smoke coming out of the Winter Cherry Shopping Centre, which also houses a sauna, a bowling alley and a multiplex cinema and was packed with people on Sunday afternoon.
The mall was extinguished in the morning after burning throughout the night.

According to BBC, the exact cause of the fire is not yet known but authorities have launched a criminal investigation.
Russian emergency ministry, Alexandre Eremeyev said in a statement that several floors were packed with people mid-day Sunday.

“No one knows exactly how many people there were inside when the fire broke out.”

“Where to look for people? How many are there? That has greatly complicated the work of the firefighters,” he said, adding that the thick smoke was also hindering their task.

Source : AFP

Brazil hosts the 8th World Water Forum

The 8th World Water Forum got underway on Monday with Brazil President Michel Temer and other heads of state.

They all gathered in the country’s capital, Brasilia to discuss the sustainable use of water resources around the world.

The forum invited experts in water and sanitation to facilitate the efficient conversation, development, planning and use of water in all its dimensions.

During the opening ceremony, the Honorary President of the World Water Council, Loïc Fauchon, highlighted the need to protect water resources.

Said Fauchon: “Our responsibility is to ensure the availability of water everywhere.”

He added that the forum has become an indispensable medium for the international community to discuss the sustainability of water resources.

Basic sanitation is among other several factors concerning water.

The minister of the Secretariat for Human Rights of Brazil, Gustavo do Vale Roche spoke about the improvement of basic sanitation.

“Politicians should help to ratify the idea to improve basic sanitation. Is a fundamental right that should not be taken lightly while other rights are demanded. I hope that the next World Forum, we have evolved concerning those issues.”

According to Eric Tardieu, director-general of the International Office of Water, 2.1 billion people in the world do not have access to clean water, which corresponds to 30% of the world’s population. And 4.5 billion people have no basic sanitation, 60% of the population. One of the main factors that define these numbers is the low investment in infrastructure in the water sector.


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SA ready to chair the BRICS Business Council after signing Kigali Declaration

The growing motion on the African Continental Free Trade Area saw about 44 countries sign the AfCFTA deal this week in Kigali, Rwanda.

Several other countries, including South Africa, signed the Kigali Declaration which is devoted to the establishment of the African economic community, that seeks free movement of persons and goods to facilitate trade.
Chairman of the SA chapter of the BRICS Business Council, Dr Iqbal Survé said this is the best thing to happen to Africa in a very long time.

The AfCFTA agreement is figured to have the potential to bring together 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of over US$2.5 trillion if successfully implemented.

Survé said the AfCFTA would allow the BRICS grouping to attract further investment into Africa to create skilled jobs.

“The global norm for intra trade is 30 percent but Africa has not been trading with itself. But Africa is now set for a decade of unbelievable growth and prosperity.” Survé said.

The BRICS nations make up more than 40 percent of the global population and according to Survé the formation of BRICS has proven to be hugely beneficial to Africa as a whole.

“BRICS countries are now Africa’s biggest trade partners.”
Survé also pointed to the deepening of inter-BRICS relations in areas such as financial services, skills development, manufacturing, and the easing of travel restrictions.

“For Africa, of course, it is important that there is continued infrastructure investment and deepening investment,” added Survé.

Survé will be leading around 50 senior business executives from various sectors to the mid-term meeting that would take place next week in Shanghai, China.

Source: African News Agency/ANA

BRICS Youth Tour Soweto