Argentina issues decree making it harder for businesses to fire workers

Argentina issues decree making it harder for businesses to fire workers
The new “Decree of Need and Urgency” says in cases of dismissal without just cause during the term of the decree workers will be paid double the normal exit package. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 December 2019

Argentina issues decree making it harder for businesses to fire workers

Argentina issues decree making it harder for businesses to fire workers
  • Current inflation in the country is above 50%
  • New economy minister said the new administration will emphasize economic growth over the deficit reduction program

BUENOS AIRES: Argentine workers fired without just cause over the next 180 days will be paid double the normal exit package under a decree announced over the weekend, as the new government breaks with the pro-business stance of the previous administration.
The “Decree of Need and Urgency” says in cases of dismissal without just cause during the term of the decree, “the affected workers will have the right to receive double the corresponding compensation in accordance with current legislation.”
Peronist President Alberto Fernandez was sworn in on Tuesday, promising an end to outgoing leader Mauricio Macri’s pro-business policies, as inflation roars at above 50%, poverty increases and economic growth sputters.
The new economy minister on Wednesday said Macri’s fiscal tightening measures had failed, and that the new administration would emphasize economic growth over the deficit reduction program that was at the heart of Macri’s push to re-integrate Argentina with the international financial markets.
Argentina’s unemployment rate rose to 10.6% in the second quarter of 2019, a percentage point higher than a year earlier, the government said in a press release announcing the decree.
Young people were especially hard hit, it said, with young women suffering a jobless rate of 24%.
“By decision of President Alberto Fernandez, the public emergency in occupational matters is declared in view of the need to stop the aggravation of the labor crisis,” the press release announcing the decree said.


Musk’s SpaceX wins $2.9bn moon lander contract

Musk’s SpaceX wins $2.9bn moon lander contract
Updated 4 min 19 sec ago

Musk’s SpaceX wins $2.9bn moon lander contract

Musk’s SpaceX wins $2.9bn moon lander contract
  • NASA says the spacecraft will carry two American astronauts in 2024

WASHINGTON: NASA awarded billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the moon as early as 2024, the agency said on Friday, picking it over Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc.

Bezos and Musk — the world’s first and third richest people respectively, according to Forbes — were competing to lead humankind’s return to the moon for the first time since 1972.

Musk’s SpaceX bid alone while Amazon.com founder Bezos’ Blue Origin partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Draper. Dynetics is a unit of Leidos Holdings Inc.

“NASA Rules!!” Musk wrote on Twitter after the announcement.

The US space agency awarded the contract for the first commercial human lander, part of its Artemis program. NASA said the lander will carry two American astronauts to the lunar surface.

“We should accomplish the next landing as soon as possible,” Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator, said.

“If they hit their milestones, we have a shot at 2024,” Jurczyk added.

NASA said SpaceX’s Starship includes a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moon walks and that its architecture is intended to evolve to a fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars and other destinations in space.

SpaceX also responded on Twitter, writing: “We are humbled to help @NASAArtemis usher in a new era of human space exploration.”

SpaceX will be required to make a test flight of the lander to the moon before humans make the journey, NASA official Lisa Watson-Morgan told reporters.

NASA had been expected to winnow the lunar lander contest to two companies by the end of April, but instead it picked only SpaceX, a move that deepens their cooperation. On Thursday, NASA said it would send its crew to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket on April 22.

The agency aims to create regular service to the moon and said it will have a separate competition for that contract.

NASA said in a news release that SpaceX’s HLS Starship, designed to land on the moon, “leans on the company’s tested Raptor engines and flight heritage of the Falcon and Dragon vehicles.”


Brazil needs $10bn a year in aid for carbon neutrality by 2050

Brazil needs $10bn a year in aid for carbon neutrality by 2050
Updated 12 min 30 sec ago

Brazil needs $10bn a year in aid for carbon neutrality by 2050

Brazil needs $10bn a year in aid for carbon neutrality by 2050
  • Deforestation in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon rainforest has skyrocketed under Bolsonaro

BRASILIA: Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles told Reuters on Friday that Brazil would need to receive $10 billion annually in foreign aid in order to reach economy-wide net zero carbon emissions by 2050, instead of 2060 as currently planned.

Salles has regularly called for the international community to pick up part of the check for reducing Brazil’s carbon emissions, which predominantly come from deforestation.

His call for $10 billion a year in aid comes as Brazil negotiates a separate potential deal with the US to rally foreign funds to fight soaring deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Salles said he does not expect a deal to be announced at next week’s US Earth Day summit, but that talks with the US would continue.

“There is not and was never the objective of negotiating some kind of deal to deliver on April 22,” Salles said in an interview.

Reuters reported on Thursday that a potential deal had reached an impasse, with Brazil demanding funding up front to increase efforts to fight deforestation while the US demanded results before opening its purse strings.

“We understand their logic, but they need some understanding that Brazil already has a lot of results,” Salles said.

He cited the fact that most of Brazil’s forest is preserved, which means emissions from the carbon they contain has been avoided.

Deforestation in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon rainforest has skyrocketed under Bolsonaro, hitting a 12-year high in 2020 with an area 14 times the size of New York City being destroyed, government data show.

Salles said just $1 billion per year out of the $10 billion would enable Brazil to reach zero illegal deforestation ahead of the existing 2030 target.

About one-third of that money would go toward contracting more environmental agents, probably drawing from the ranks of the national military police, Salles said.

The other two-thirds would be used to invest in sustainable development of the Amazon region, he said.

Vice President Hamilton Mourao, who Bolsonaro has put in charge of Amazon policy, said on Friday that reaching the 2030 target would require a 15-20 percent reduction in Amazon deforestation every year until then.

Mourao said the government is studying extending a military deployment to protect the Amazon if destruction does not come down that much by July.

The expensive military deployment is set to finish at the end of this month, having failed to restore deforestation and fires to levels prior to Bolsonaro taking office.


Egypt’s Sovereign Fund denies Tahrir Complex will be sold to investors

Egypt’s Sovereign Fund denies Tahrir Complex will be sold to investors
Updated 17 April 2021

Egypt’s Sovereign Fund denies Tahrir Complex will be sold to investors

Egypt’s Sovereign Fund denies Tahrir Complex will be sold to investors
  • The fund said it fully owned the complex and that it was offering it for development
  • It said the development process would be based on methods that took into account the building’s historical value

CAIRO: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt has denied reports that it intends to sell the Tahrir Complex (Mogamma El-Tahrir) to investors.
It said the complex was fully owned by the fund and that offering it for development, by teaming up with investors and partners, was about turning the complex into a multi-purpose building comprising a hotel, commercial, administrative and cultural elements.
It also said the development process would be based on methods that took into account the building’s historical value. This process was in line with a plan to make the most of state assets and invest in them to achieve broader opportunities, it added.
It launched the first operational steps to develop the complex by completing a prospectus and presenting it to foreign and local investors and developers.
The partnership model will be based on the fund contributing to the technical studies and surveying work, while the partner or real estate developer will contribute to the financing and other components.
The qualification process will be based on developing the building as a multi-use project.


Militants attack two oil wells in northern Iraq, production unaffected

Militants attack two oil wells in northern Iraq, production unaffected
Updated 17 April 2021

Militants attack two oil wells in northern Iraq, production unaffected

Militants attack two oil wells in northern Iraq, production unaffected

KIRKUK: Militants using explosives attacked two oil wells northwest of Kirkuk in northern Iraq on Saturday but no significant damage resulted and production was not affected, the Iraqi oil ministry said.
The attack at the Bay Hassan oilfield "did not cause a fire or damage, affect production or stop oil pumping from the well," the ministry said in a statement. 


China’s GDP jumps record 18.3%

China’s GDP jumps record 18.3%
China’s GDP grew just 2.3 percent rise last year, its weakest expansion in 44 years, but still making it the only major economy to avoid contraction. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2021

China’s GDP jumps record 18.3%

China’s GDP jumps record 18.3%
  • Recovery propelled by stronger demand at home and abroad and continued govt support for smaller firms

BEIJING: China’s economic recovery quickened sharply in the first quarter to record growth of 18.3 percent from last year’s deep coronavirus slump, propelled by stronger demand at home and abroad and continued government support for smaller firms.

But the brisk expansion, heavily skewed by the plunge in activity a year earlier, is expected to moderate later this year as the government turns its attention to reining in financial risks in overheating parts of the economy.
While the jump in the gross domestic product undershot the 19 percent forecast by economists in a Reuters poll, the official data showed it was the fastest growth since quarterly records began in 1992 and up from 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter last year.
“The upshot is that with the economy already above its pre-virus trend and policy support being withdrawn, China’s post-COVID rebound is leveling off,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior china economist at Capital Economics. “We expect quarter-on-quarter growth to remain modest during the rest of this year as the recent boom in construction and exports unwinds, pulling activity back toward trend.”
Aided by strict virus containment measures and emergency relief for businesses, the economy has recovered from a steep 6.8 percent slump in the first three months of 2020, when an outbreak of COVID-19 in the central city of Wuhan rapidly became a crippling pandemic that has killed about 3 million worldwide.
China’s rebound has been led by exports as factories raced to fill overseas orders and more recently a steady pickup in consumption as shoppers returned to restaurants, malls and car dealerships.
Retail sales increased 34.2 percent year-on-year in March, beating a 28.0 percent gain expected by analysts and stronger than the 33.8 percent jump seen in the first two months of the year.
Other data, however, showed a moderation in expansion with quarter-on-quarter growth slowing to 0.6 percent in January-March from a revised 3.2 percent in the previous quarter, missing expectations for a 1.5 percent increase.
Factory output grew 14.1 percent year-on-year in March, slowing from a 35.1 percent surge in the January-February period and lagging a forecast 17.2 percent rise.
National Bureau of Statistics spokeswoman Liu Aihua told a news conference on Friday while the economy started 2021 on a firm footing, the services sector and smaller firms still faced challenges, while consumer inflation was likely to remain moderate.
Data last week showed consumer prices rising at only a modest pace in March, even as factory gate inflation hit a near three-year high.
“Looking forward, the trend of normalization may continue for the rest of the year, and domestic consumption is expected to be the major growth driver,” said Chaoping Zhu, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management in Shanghai. “In terms of policy response, the central bank and fiscal authorities are returning to a more neutral stance, although some selective measures might be continued in order to support the small and medium-sized enterprises.”
Li Wei, economist at Standard Chartered in Shanghai, expected second-quarter growth to slow to 7 percent.
The world’s second-largest economy is expected to grow 8.6 percent in 2021, according to a Reuters poll, which would easily beat the government’s 2021 annual growth target of above 6 percent.
China’s GDP grew just 2.3 percent rise last year, its weakest expansion in 44 years but still making it the only major economy to avoid contraction as other industrial powers struggled with the pandemic hit.