Inflation sparks global wave of protests for higher pay

Inflation sparks global wave of protests for higher pay
Trucks gather to protest against the high price of fuel in Parla, on outskirts of Madrid. As food costs and fuel bills soar, inflation is plundering people’s wallets. (AP)
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Updated 25 June 2022

Inflation sparks global wave of protests for higher pay

Inflation sparks global wave of protests for higher pay
  • Economists say Russia’s war in Ukraine amplified inflation by further pushing up the cost of energy

NEW YORK: Rising food costs. Soaring fuel bills. Wages that are not keeping pace. Inflation is plundering people’s wallets, sparking a wave of protests and workers’ strikes around the world.

This week alone saw protests by the political opposition in Pakistan, nurses in Zimbabwe, unionized workers in Belgium, railway workers in Britain, Indigenous people in Ecuador, hundreds of US pilots and some European airline workers. Sri Lanka’s prime minister declared an economic collapse Wednesday after weeks of political turmoil.

Economists say Russia’s war in Ukraine amplified inflation by further pushing up the cost of energy and prices of fertilizer, grains and cooking oils as farmers struggle to grow and export crops in one of the world’s key agricultural regions.

As prices rise, inflation threatens to exacerbate inequalities and widen the gap between billions of people struggling to cover their costs and those who are able to keep spending.

“We are not all in this together,” said Matt Grainger, head of inequality policy at antipoverty organization Oxfam. “How many of the richest even know what a loaf of bread costs? They don’t really, they just absorb the prices.”

Oxfam is calling on the Group of 7 leading industrialized nations, which are holding their annual summit this weekend in Germany, to provide debt relief to developing economies and to tax corporations on excess profits.

“This isn’t just a standalone crisis. It’s coming off the back of an appalling pandemic that fueled increased inequality worldwide,” Grainger said. “I think we will see more and more protests.”

The demonstrations have caught the attention of governments, which have responded to soaring consumer prices with support measures like expanded subsidies for utility bills and cuts to fuel taxes. Often, that offers little relief because energy markets are volatile. Central banks are trying to ease inflation by raising interest rates.

Meanwhile, striking workers have pressured employers to engage in talks on raising wages to keep up with rising prices.

Eddie Dempsey, a senior official with Britain’s Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, which brought UK train services to a near standstill with strikes this week, said there are going to be more demands for pay increases across other sectors.

“It’s about time Britain had a pay rise. Wages have been falling for 30 years and corporate profits have been going through the roof,” Dempsey said.

Last week, thousands of truckers in South Korea ended an eight-day strike that caused shipment delays as they called for minimum wage guarantees amid soaring fuel prices.

Months earlier, some 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) away, truckers in Spain went on strike to protest fuel prices.

Peru’s government imposed a brief curfew after protests against fuel and food prices turned violent in April. Truckers and other transport workers also had gone on strike and blocked key highways.

Protests over the cost of living ousted Sri Lanka’s prime minister last month. Middle-class families say they’re forced to skip meals because of the island nation’s economic crisis, prompting them to contemplate leaving the country altogether.

The situation is particularly dire for refugees and the poor in conflict areas such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Myanmar and Haiti, where fighting has forced people to flee their homes and rely on aid organizations, themselves struggling to raise money.


Saudi Jamjoom Pharma to invest $52m in Uzbekistan as it eyes Central Asia expansion

Saudi Jamjoom Pharma to invest $52m in Uzbekistan as it eyes Central Asia expansion
Updated 15 sec ago

Saudi Jamjoom Pharma to invest $52m in Uzbekistan as it eyes Central Asia expansion

Saudi Jamjoom Pharma to invest $52m in Uzbekistan as it eyes Central Asia expansion

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabian pharmaceutical firm Jamjoom Pharma has signed an agreement to invest over $52 million in Uzbekistan, as the firm continues its expansion into the Central Asian region, the company's vice chairman said.

In an exclusive interaction with Arab News on the sidelines of the fourth meeting of the Saudi-Uzbeki Business Council in Jeddah, Mahmoud Jamjoom, vice chairman of Jamjoom Pharma, said that launching its operations in Uzbekistan is a gateway to the region.

“Already, we are in 30-plus countries. Now, we are trying to focus on this area (Central Asia). We are covering Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan. So, this will be the gate to cover the area,” said Jamjoom.

He said that the operations in Uzbekistan will begin soon once they receive approvals from regulators.

“We will be submitting the files. We will then start presenting the product in Uzbekistan. And step by step, we will have local manufacturing,” added the vice chairman.


PIF-owned SRC, Riyad Bank sign $133m deal to acquire real estate financing portfolio

PIF-owned SRC, Riyad Bank sign $133m deal to acquire real estate financing portfolio
Updated 11 min 12 sec ago

PIF-owned SRC, Riyad Bank sign $133m deal to acquire real estate financing portfolio

PIF-owned SRC, Riyad Bank sign $133m deal to acquire real estate financing portfolio

RIYADH: The Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co., wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, signed a SR500 million ($133 million) agreement with Riyad Bank to acquire a real estate financing portfolio affiliated with the lender.

As the second largest real estate refinancing transaction in the Saudi banking sector, the agreement aims to achieve sustainability, provide long-term liquidity in the residential real estate finance market, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The deal comes as part of SRC’s ongoing efforts to expand its partnerships with real estate financiers in the Kingdom, CEO Fabrice Susini said. 

Such agreements will support real estate finance service providers by providing them with liquidity management solutions to provide affordable real estate financing to Saudi families wishing to own homes.

This contributes to achieving the goals of the Iskan Program, which is part of Saudi Vision 2030, that aims to  to raise the percentage of home ownership of Saudi families to 70 percent by 2030.


Macro Snapshot — Turkey’s central bank slashes interest rate; Spain’s trade deficit widens almost to $32bn 

Macro Snapshot — Turkey’s central bank slashes interest rate; Spain’s  trade deficit widens almost to $32bn 
Updated 14 min 45 sec ago

Macro Snapshot — Turkey’s central bank slashes interest rate; Spain’s trade deficit widens almost to $32bn 

Macro Snapshot — Turkey’s central bank slashes interest rate; Spain’s  trade deficit widens almost to $32bn 

CAIRO: Turkey’s central bank shocked markets on Thursday by cutting its main interest rate by 100 basis points to 13 percent, saying it needed to keep driving economic growth despite inflation hitting nearly 80 percent and a monetary tightening trend among its peers worldwide.

The lira dropped more than 1 percent as the bank took its latest step down the unorthodox policy path advocated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that aims to provide targeted cheap credit to help boost Turkish exports.

There had been virtually no signal that another rate cut was in the works and no economist polled by Reuters had predicted one, given that inflation has soared to 24-year highs, eating deeply into Turks’ earnings and savings.

US weekly jobless claims dip 

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week and data for the prior period was revised sharply down, suggesting labor market conditions remain tight, though higher interest rates are slowing momentum.

The weekly unemployment claims report from the Labor Department on Thursday added to strong industrial production in July and underlying retail sales growth in allaying fears that the economy was in recession. The claims report, the most timely data on the economy’s health, could give the Federal Reserve ammunition to deliver another hefty rate hike next month.

“Fears of broad-based layoffs have yet to materialize,” said Mahir Rasheed, a US economist at Oxford Economics in New York. “Still, we doubt claims will accelerate sharply as labor demand remains well ahead of labor supply, while the outlook for the economy remains relatively positive despite elevated uncertainty regarding inflation and growth.”

Chile’s economy grows 

Chile’s economy expanded 5.4 percent in the second quarter of 2022 from a year earlier, central bank data showed on Thursday, below expectations of a 5.7 percent increase from economists polled by Reuters.

The gross domestic product showed no growth from the previous three months in seasonally adjusted terms. Economists were expecting a 0.3 percent rise.

Spain’s trade deficit widens 

Spain’s trade deficit in the first six months of the year widened almost six-fold from the same period a year earlier to €32 billion ($32.6 billion), the Industry Ministry said on Thursday.

The outcome was wider than the deficit for the whole of 2021 and compared with a €5.4 billion deficit in the first six months a year ago, the ministry said in its monthly report.

Excluding energy imports and exports, the trade deficit in the period was €6.1 billion, the ministry said.

 

(With input from Reuters)


Saudi recruiter iHR to list its shares on Tadawul early next week

Saudi recruiter iHR to list its shares on Tadawul early next week
Updated 16 min 40 sec ago

Saudi recruiter iHR to list its shares on Tadawul early next week

Saudi recruiter iHR to list its shares on Tadawul early next week

RIYADH: International Human Resources Co. will start trading its shares on the Saudi Exchange on Aug. 22, after completing the offering of a 20 percent stake or 500,000 shares.

The final offer price for listing on Nomu was set at SR34 ($9) per share, following 19.45 times coverage by qualified investors, according to a bourse filing.

The listing of iHR comes amid a spree of companies rushing to sell shares to the public and join the Saudi Exchange, also known as Tadawul.

This week alone saw three new listings of Naqi Water Co., Saudi Networkers Services Co., and Rawasi Albina Investment Co.

Established in 2005, iHR offers human resources solutions and employment-related consultancy to businesses.


Private sector can bolster Saudi-Uzbek economic ties, says minister 

Private sector can bolster Saudi-Uzbek economic ties, says minister 
Updated 20 min 54 sec ago

Private sector can bolster Saudi-Uzbek economic ties, says minister 

Private sector can bolster Saudi-Uzbek economic ties, says minister 

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s economic cooperation with Uzbekistan can be bolstered through greater participation from the private sector, as the Kingdom deepens its political and business ties with the Central Asian nation, said Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih. 

In an exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the fourth meeting of the Saudi-Uzbeki Business Council in Jeddah, Al-Falih revealed that Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev met with leaders of the business community in the Kingdom, and laid out his vision of transforming his nation. 

“He (the president) asked about the ambitions of the companies to use Uzbekistan as a growth market for them, and what are the challenges they might face. For two hours, he listened and he got the feedback which is very very positive,” said Al-Falih. 

He added: “As is the case anywhere, there are some challenges and regulations to access the market. He committed to removing those challenges and open opportunities.”

Al-Falih noted that 15 agreements were signed between companies of both countries during the meeting, including ACWA Power’s $2.4 billion wind project. 

“I am confident that Uzbekistan will be one of the top destinations for Saudi investments in the next decade,” he added.  

The minister further added that foreign direct investments coming to Saudi Arabia are rising rapidly, and the trend is likely to continue in the future.