EU-GCC clean energy network moves forward
EU-GCC clean energy network moves forward
The EU-GCC Clean Energy Network, an inter-regional consortium that aims to advance the common interest between the EU and the GCC for strategic energy cooperation, planned to host a high-level meeting on the sidelines of the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-18) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Qatar.
The COP-18 session, which began on Nov. 26 and will continue till Dec. 7, coincides with the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP8).
The meetings are organized on behalf of both the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the Climate Action, a multimedia platform that aims to encourage businesses and large organizations reduce their carbon footprint, and puts forward the business case for climate change.
The EU-GCC Clean Energy Network’s GCC Renewable Energy Readiness meeting was held at the GCC Pavilion, Qatar National Convention Center ,recently to highlight the importance of a recent initiative, ‘GCC Renewable Energy Readiness Assessment Report,’ being developed with network partners across the GCC.
Renewable energy (RE) readiness is defined as the level of development of the county’s infrastructure, institution and human capital factors that influence the attractiveness of investing in renewable energy projects. It plays an important role in enhancing the reliability of renewable energy technologies (RET) to ensure their sustainable deployment.
The report will serve as a benchmark using a common framework to assess each country’s RE-readiness, helping identify and address gaps to overcome the main barriers for the deployment of renewable energy projects which are of growing importance for the GCC region.
It will also elaborate on key R&D priorities and an enabling policy framework that will be conducive to scaling up renewable energy technologies.
Some top officials taking part in the meeting from the GCC include Faisal Mohammed Al-Suwaidi, president of research and development at Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development; Hamza Kazim, vice-president, operations and finance, Masdar Institute, and Scott Kennedy, dean of research, Masdar Institute.
High-ranking officials from the EU include Artur Runge-Metzger, director, directorate of international and climate strategy, DG-CLIMA, European Commission, and Professor John Psarras, ICCS-NTUA, project director — EU.
Hamza Kazim said: “Masdar Institute remains instrumental in leading sustainability efforts in the quest for a green economy, globally and in the region, thanks to the vision of the UAE’s wise leadership. Their support and guidance have ensured that Masdar Institute remains as a top research-based academic institution, driving innovation and human capital development, while developing energy leaders of the future.”
Kazim added: “The GCC countries are at present assessing their renewable energy readiness to submit a report. The region’s commitment and enthusiasm to adopt renewable sources is overwhelming and the events in Doha will provide a fresh stimulus to implementing green measures across the GCC member states.”
The presentation by the high-level team of attendees from the GCC and European Commission will highlight the achievements in areas of mutual interest for the GCC and the EU, including renewables, energy efficiency and demand side management, electricity interconnections, carbon capture and storage, as well as natural gas.
Some of the concrete outcomes that will be summarized during the session include publications, research work/papers, established partnerships between the GCC and EU, co-operation project ideas, targeted working meetings and training workshops.
The EU-GCC Clean Energy Network’s mission is to support and enhance the long-term strategic EU–GCC energy relationship, addressing specifically clean energy issues; develop concrete cooperation activities of common interest on clean energy (including policy and technology aspects) among various stakeholders across the EU and GCC countries; and expand as a professional network among public and private sector players in clean energy by retaining and recruiting institutional members.
Jordanian cabinet approves new IMF-guided tax law to boost finances
AMMAN: Jordan’s cabinet on Monday approved major IMF-guided proposals that aim to double the income tax base, as a key part of reforms to boost the finances of a debt-burdened economy hit by regional conflict.
“When only 4 percent of Jordanians pay (personal) income tax, this may not be the right thing,” Finance Minister Omar Malhas said in remarks after the cabinet meeting, adding the goal was to push that to eight percent. The draft legislation was submitted to parliament.
The IMF’s three-year Extended Fund Facility program aims to generate more state revenue to gradually bring down public debt to 77 percent of GDP in 2021, from a record 95 percent.
A few months ago Jordan raised levies on hundreds of food and consumer items by unifying general sales tax (GST) to 16 percent — removing exemptions on many basic goods.
In January subsidies on bread were ended, doubling some prices in a country with rising unemployment and poverty among its eight million people.
The income tax move and the GST reforms will bring an estimated 840 million dinars ($1.2 billion) in extra annual tax revenue that will help reduce chronic budget shortfalls normally covered by foreign aid, officials say.
Corporate income tax on banks, financial institutions and insurance companies will be pushed to 40 percent from 30 percent. Taxes on Jordan’s phosphate and potash mining industry will be raised to 30 percent from 24.
The government argues the reforms will reduce social disparities by progressively taxing high earners while leaving low-paid public sector employees largely untouched.
“This is a fair tax law not an unfair one,” said Malhas, who shrugged off criticism the law is lenient on many businesses connected to politicians whose transactions are not subject to tax scrutiny.
Husam Abu Ali, the head of the Income and Sales Tax Department, said a proposed IMF-recommended Financial Crime Investigations Unit will stiffen penalties for tax evaders. Critics say it will not tackle pervasive corruption in state institutions.
Abu Ali said the government could be losing hundreds of millions of dollars through tax evasion, which is as high as 80 percent in some companies.
The amendments lower the income tax threshold and raise tax rates. Unions said the government was caving in to IMF demands and squeezing more from the same taxpayers.
“It is penalizing a group that has long paid what it owes the state,” the unions syndicate said in a statement.
“It imposes injustice on employees whose salaries have barely coped with price hikes rising madly in recent years.”