Biden urges quick Senate action on huge stimulus package

Biden urges quick Senate action on huge stimulus package
The House vote came just days after the Covid-19 death toll surpassed 500,000 in the United States, the world's worst total. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 28 February 2021

Biden urges quick Senate action on huge stimulus package

Biden urges quick Senate action on huge stimulus package
  • The package passed the House just after 2:00 am (0700 GMT) Saturday, in a 219 to 212 vote

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Saturday welcomed the overnight passage by the US House of Representatives of an enormous, $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, saying it moves the country closer to full Covid-19 vaccination and economic recovery.
The package passed the House just after 2:00 am (0700 GMT) Saturday, in a 219 to 212 vote, with not one Republican vote, and moves next week to the Senate.
"I hope it will receive quick action," Biden said in a brief address from the White House.
"We have no time to waste. If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus."
The vote in the House meant that "we're one step closer to vaccinating the nation, we are one step closer to putting $1,400 in the pockets of Americans, we're one step closer to extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who are shortly going to lose them."
He said the bill -- which would be the second-largest US stimulus ever, after a $2 trillion package approved in March -- would also help schools reopen safely and allow local and state governments to avoid "massive layoffs for essential workers."
The House vote came just days after the Covid-19 death toll surpassed 500,000 in the United States, the world's worst total.
Democrats have called the aid package a critical step in supporting millions of families and businesses devastated by the pandemic. It extends unemployment benefits, set to expire mid-March, by about six months.
But Republicans say it is too expensive, fails to target aid payments to those most in need, and could spur damaging inflation.
The administration appears poised to use a special approach requiring only 51 votes in the 100-seat Senate -- meaning the vote of every Democrat, plus a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris, would be required.
But progressives suffered a major setback when a key Senate official ruled Thursday that the final version of the bill in that chamber could not include a minimum wage hike.
Biden campaigned extensively on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, from the $7.25 rate that has stood since 2009. Progressives have been pushing the raise as a Democratic priority.
In his remarks Saturday, the president made no mention of the issue, a source of discord within the party.
Most Republicans, and a few Democrats, opposed the higher wage, so having it stripped from the Senate version of the legislation could actually ease its passage.


Abu Dhabi said to weigh sale of $4bn Taqa stake

Abu Dhabi said to weigh sale of $4bn Taqa stake
Updated 21 min 23 sec ago

Abu Dhabi said to weigh sale of $4bn Taqa stake

Abu Dhabi said to weigh sale of $4bn Taqa stake
  • Size of potential stake could change
  • Abu Dhabi seeking to attract FDI

RIYADH: Abu Dhabi is working with an adviser as it considers selling about 10 percent of Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA), Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
The stake in the company could be worth more than $4 billion based on its current market price.
Initial non-binding bids are expected to be submitted in May, according to the people.
The size of the Taqa stake being sold could change depending on investor interest, Bloomberg reported. Deliberations are ongoing, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a transaction, it said.
Last year, Abu Dhabi orchestrated a plan for Taqa to receive assets from state-owned holding company Abu Dhabi Power Corp., known as ADPower, in return for stock.
Abu Dhabi has been seeking to attract foreign capital by selling stakes in some of its largest companies.


Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up

Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up
Updated 21 April 2021

Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up

Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up
  • Emirates has resumed flights with all of its 151 Boeing 777 jets
  • Emirates lost 12.6 billion dirhams in the first half of the year

DUBAI: Emirates may need to raise more cash this year, possibly through another equity injection from the Dubai government, if demand for air travel does not pick up soon, its president said on Wednesday.
The state carrier had hoped the global vaccine rollout would renew confidence in air travel but demand remains at very low levels, leaving many airlines to ground planes or fly them near-empty.
“We are good for another six, seven or eight months in terms of cash. We have sufficient cash coming in to be able to keep the day-to-day operation at a neutral basis,” Tim Clark told the online World Aviation Festival.
“But like everybody else, if in six months global demand is where it is today then we are all going to face difficulties. Not just Emirates“
Emirates, which lost 12.6 billion dirhams ($3.4 billion) in the first half of the year, got $2 billion in equity in 2020 from the Dubai government, its sole shareholder.
The airline would make a recommendation to the government on raising cash, Clark said without saying exactly when that would be done.
The recommendation could be for equity injection, or for the airline to raise debt or to take other measures, he said without specifying.
“The balance sheet is pretty strong regardless of what has happened.”
The cash situation, however, could be turned around by September-October as long as demand picks up, Clark said, adding that he hoped the airline would not have to seek cash.
Emirates has resumed flights with all of its 151 Boeing 777 jets which are mainly carrying cargo, with about 20,000 to 30,000 passengers a day.
Clark said the airline could retain some of its older 777 passenger jets that are due to retire and instead convert them into cargo-only planes as freight demand remains high.
He said that he expected there would be demand for business class travel post-pandemic even if corporate travel does diminish through executives opting to hold meetings online instead of traveling.
Demand would likely be supported by cheaper fares to fill business class seats if corporate travel does not rebound, he said.
Clark, who was due to retire last year, said he wanted to set the airline on its future course before he retires, but added he no longer knew when that would be.


Beautiful Game 1 Super League 0: Gulf footie fans rejoice as shares fall

Beautiful Game 1 Super League 0: Gulf footie fans rejoice as shares fall
Updated 21 April 2021

Beautiful Game 1 Super League 0: Gulf footie fans rejoice as shares fall

Beautiful Game 1 Super League 0: Gulf footie fans rejoice as shares fall
  • Shares in publicly traded Manchester United and Juventus fell on the news as the prospect of a multi-billion dollar pay day for the breakaway clubs was drowned out

DUBAI: Shares in European football clubs fell after plans for a European super league lay in tatters following a global football fan backlash.
In what must rank among the most extraordinary 48 hours in the history of the modern game, 12 of the continent’s most powerful clubs attempted to create a brand new elite league before its would-be founding members began to break ranks one by one.
By early Wednesday all six Premier League teams linked to the project had withdrawn.
Gulf-based football fans rejoiced at the news on supporter club social media.
“We stand firmly behind all supporters groups calling for the ESL to be scrapped,” tweeted the Dubai Reds, the official Liverpool supporters club in the emirate.


Shares in publicly traded Manchester United and Juventus fell on the news as the prospect of a multi-billion dollar pay day for the breakaway clubs was drowned out by a global outcry that appeared to unite fans, pundits and even some of the managers of the clubs involved.
US investment bank JP Morgan had planned to finance the new league, providing a €3.5 billion ($4.2 billion) grant for the founding clubs to help recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has drained revenue from clubs worldwide, Reuters reported.
The collapse of the project has exposed the sometimes bitter rifts between the fans and owners of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. It also leaves a potential legal mess behind as withdrawing clubs risk being sued, the Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said that the league could no longer go ahead after six English clubs withdrew.

The founding members of the league were English clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, Italy’s Juventus, Inter and AC Milan, and Spain’s Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico.


World’s first fully Islamic Shariah-compliant digital bank launched in UAE

World’s first fully Islamic Shariah-compliant digital bank launched in UAE
Updated 21 April 2021

World’s first fully Islamic Shariah-compliant digital bank launched in UAE

World’s first fully Islamic Shariah-compliant digital bank launched in UAE
  • Long-term, the lender aims to scale up operations worldwide via strategic partnerships with banks and financial institutions

DUBAI: The UAE is set to be home to the world’s first fully Islamic Shariah-compliant digital bank, it was announced on Wednesday.

Set up by Zurich Capital Funds Group and branded as RIZQ / BARAKA, the new lender will provide all banking services according to Islamic law.

It will operate all digital banking services through mobile phones and computers, and its app can be downloaded via Apple Store, Google Play (Android stores), and many communication sites and social media networks.

RIZQ / BARAKA is launched from the UAE but aims to target customers in the Middle East and North Africa.

Long-term, the lender aims to scale up operations worldwide via strategic partnerships with banks and financial institutions in India, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the UK, Australia, Brazil and Mauritania.

Dr. Fahed Al-Merhebi, chairman of Zurich Capital Funds Group, said the bank is the latest in its digital ambitions, having already launched a Shariah-compliant digital crypto exchange platform called the SUSTAIN EXCHANGE, and a range of sports digital currencies that were listed on the exchange.

Earlier this month, Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar announced that he is to lead a new digital bank set to be launched soon in the UAE.

Zand is being billed as “the world’s first combined digital corporate and retail bank,” and is going through final approvals ahead of its launch.

Alabbar, founder of Emaar Properties — the Dubai developer behind The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa — teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to launch the Noon online shopping platform in 2017. He will take on the role of chairman of Zand.

“The UAE combines progressive regulations with commercial, financial, and technology hubs. This provides the perfect environment for a world-leading digital bank that can launch in the UAE and scale beyond,” Alabbar said.

“As the first fully independent digital bank in the country, with a full UAE banking license, Zand will provide innovative, effective financial solutions that help simplify businesses and lives, addressing the needs of both retail and corporate customers.”

Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE. In a survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last October, 70 percent of respondents said they are actively searching for a new bank, and 87 percent said they would be willing to open an account with a branchless digital-only lender.


Dubai to build Gulf’s first blockchain-backed precious metals refinery

Dubai to build Gulf’s first blockchain-backed precious metals refinery
Updated 21 April 2021

Dubai to build Gulf’s first blockchain-backed precious metals refinery

Dubai to build Gulf’s first blockchain-backed precious metals refinery
  • The facility will refine and store precious metals including gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium

DUBAI: The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), a free zone authority in the emirate, has completed a deal that involved plans for a precious metals refinery and storage facility enabled by blockchain technology – the first in the region.
The facility will refine and store precious metals including gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium, which will be tokenized on goldexchange.com, a secure trading platform, it said in a statement.
“Blockchain technology can enable more transparent and accurate tracking of precious metals, ensuring there is no ‘dirty gold’ in circulation and illicit trades,” REIT Development CEO Mike De Vries said.
REIT Development acquired industrial land in DMCC’s Jumeirah Lake Towers, where the 100,000 square feet facility will be built and is expected to open in the last quarter of 2022.
The facility will create a decentralized record of all transactions, making it possible to track all precious metals that are refined and eventually sold to over 150 countries.