Archive for June, 2016

Nigeria unveils energy deals with China

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Analysts cautious on whether $80bn upgrade of oil and gas infrastructure will be implemented

Istanbul Airport Attackers Were Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz, Turkish Official Says

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

The three perpetrators of the deadly terror attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport were identified as a Russian national from Dagestan, a citizen of Uzbekistan and a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday.

The Turkish news agency attributed the information to a prosecution source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Turkey’s Yeni Safak newspaper reported earlier that the bombers were from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Dagestan, in the North Caucasus, without naming its sources, according to Reuters.

Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim region along Russia’s southern border, has turned into the epicenter of Moscow’s fight against radical extremism. More than 5,000 citizens from Russia and Central Asia had travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for Islamic State and other radical groups, Russia’s Federal Security Service said last year.

Yeni Safak has also said the organizer of the attack was suspected to be a man called Akhmed Chatayev, of Chechen origin. Chatayev is identified on a United Nations sanctions list as a leader in ISIS responsible for training Russian-speaking militants, and as wanted by Russian authorities, Reuters said.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said in January that a faction of the Islamic State group led by Chatayev was plotting terror attacks in Russia and Europe.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but Turkish authorities believe the Islamic State group was behind the shooting and triple suicide bombing at the airport on Tuesday night that claimed the lives of 44 people and left around 230 wounded.

 

Source

Rio Tinto: this could yurt a bit

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Chinese economics, not Mongolian politics, matters most for Rio

Death Toll Rises to 44 in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport Terror Attack

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

The death toll in the terror attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport increased to 44 on Thursday after a 25-yearTurkish citizen died from his wounds in hospital, Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday.

There were 19 foreign nationals among victims of Tuesday night’s attack that had also left around 230 people injured, the Turkish news agency quoted Interior Minister Efkan Ala as saying earlier at a news conference in Ankara.

According to Ala, 94 people injured in the shooting and suicide bombing attack remained in hospital as of Thursday.

Source

Bulgaria’s Govt Debt Equivalent to 29.3% of Projected 2016 GDP in May

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Bulgaria’s government debt edged up to EUR 13.37 B last month, equivalent to 29.3% of Gross Domestic Product forecast for the year, according to figures released by the Finance Ministry on Thursday.

The government’s foreign debt totalled EUR 9.83 B and domestic debt amounted to EUR 3.54 B as at end-May, the Finance Ministry said in a monthly debt report.

Bulgaria’s government debt totalled EUR 13.34 B in nominal terms as at end-April 2016, with EUR 9.85 B in foreign debt and EUR 3.49 B in domestic debt.

Liabilities in euro made up 78.8% of total government debt as at end-May, 20.4% was denominated in Bulgarian levs, 0.6% in U.S. dollars and 0.3% in other currencies.

The government paid BGN 63.3 M on its debt in May.

The government-guaranteed debt totalled EUR 285.5 M as at end-May, equivalent to 0.6% of 2016 GDP forecast.

 

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What You Must Know About New Overtime Rules; 9 Point Checklist

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

What You Must Know About New Overtime Rules; 9 Point Checklist

On May 18, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced final updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “white collar” overtime exemptions.

The new overtime rules (known as the “final rule”) increase the salary threshold needed to qualify for overtime exemption from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $913 per week ($47,476 per year.) and affect 4.2 million workers.

Also, the total annual compensation requirement needed to meet the highly compensated employee (HCE) exemption will increase from $100,000 per year to $134,004.

Any business that employs workers with salaries under the new threshold will need to consider their best course of action or face paying thousands in higher wages. They could also be subject to employee lawsuits for failure to comply with the rule. No business is exempt, regardless of size.

In addition to the salary threshold changes, the new overtime rules will:

  • Automatically update the salary threshold every three years, based on wage growth over time, increasing predictability;
  • Strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime;
  • Amend the salary basis test to allow employers to use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level;
  • Provide greater clarity for workers and employers.

The final rule goes into effect on December 1, 2016.

Regarding the changes, Mike Trabold, director of compliance with Paychex, an HR technology services provider, in a telephone exchange with Small Business Trends, said:

“Historically, for individuals in certain job categories (including executive, administrative and professional), there was a longstanding salary threshold of $23,660 a year. If you had an employee in one of those categories … who makes over that threshold, you didn’t to have to pay that individual overtime if that person was an exempt employee.

“What happened over the years was an increasing concern with many of the employee advocacy groups that the $23,660 number was too low — and the practical ramifications of that was you had folks that might have been a manager at a restaurant earning $25,000 a year.  But because they were designated as exempt they weren’t eligible for overtime. So we had people working 50-60-70 hours a week and not eligible for overtime.”

To address advocacy group concerns, the Obama administration raised the salary threshold to $47,476 a year, more than double the existing limit, Trabold said.

Employee Payment Options Following New Overtime Rules Change

Employers have some decisions to make when it comes to paying employees under the new overtime rules, according to Trabold.

“The exercise that a lot of employers are going through now is that they have people in that threshold between what it currently was and what it will be now,” he said. “They’re going to have to make a decision whether to increase the salary of those individuals over the $47,476 threshold, so that they will not be eligible for overtime, or they’re going to have to designate them as an hourly worker and pay them for overtime if they work over 40 hours a week.”

Limiting employees to no more than 40 hours per week could be challenging and result in a loss of productivity, Trabold said.

“That potentially impacts the employer because a lot of folks that are currently exempt from a practical standpoint are working more than 40 hours a week,” he said. “You may have a body of work that is currently getting done that you’re going to have to figure out how to address once the new rules go into effect.”

9 Ways Employers Can Prepare for the Final Rule

Trabold provided the following checklist to help employers prepare before the new overtime rules go into effect December 1, 2016.

1. Determine the Final Rule’s Impact on Your Business

Employers should become familiar with the rules changes to determine their overtime situation.

Trabold said that recent research conducted by Paychex found that one out of five employers were not aware of the final rule, and 55 percent did not think it applied to them.

2. Conduct an Audit

Conduct an audit of the employees who are likely to be affected. Trabold advised beginning with a basic review of current staff, exempt status and compensation levels.

Employees currently classified as exempt from the overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act need to meet the duties test for their exemption as well as the salary threshold.

“Work with your accounting and HR teams to review your payroll and identify exempt employees with current salaries below or very close to the new proposed thresholds,” Trabold said.

3. Track Exempt Employees’ Time

Employers should start tracking their exempt employees’ hours — those who make below the $47,476 threshold. It’s critical that employers have accurate hourly data and a clear audit trail for when their employees have worked for a few reasons.

“There will be a lot of employers that, to manage this expense, will move people who are currently exempt to hourly,” Trabold said. “That may make a lot of sense in terms of managing the economics, but will make it more important, obviously, since they’re now hourly employees, to very accurately track their time and the hours they work so they’re paid correctly.”

Trabold also said employers need to track the time exempt employees spend working from home after hours, since it, too, would be compensable.

4. Determine Which Employees Will Transition to Non-exempt Status

Once employers identify the exempt employees who will be affected by the rule, they will need to decide whether to increase their salary levels to maintain exempt status or transition the employee to non-exempt status.

“Employers who choose to transition employees to a non-exempt status will need to determine the basis for pay (hourly or salaried) and ensure they meet the minimum wage requirement for the number of hours the employee is expected to work,” Trabold said. “They should also consider whether overtime will be necessary and permitted. Consistency is crucial to mitigating exposure to discrimination lawsuits.”

5. Develop a Plan

“Look at your historical overtime payments and determine whether your costs are likely to increase due to hours worked,” Trabold said. “Conduct some scenario planning with your advisors and ask the following questions: Should you increase your budgets for essential staff? Should you consider hiring more staff or revisiting your compensation model for specific employees?”

Looking at the impact of the new rules on the business’s financial picture will put employers in a better position to take the most appropriate form of action, he said.

6. Update Timekeeping Policies

Updating record keeping requirements and procedures can be critical to ensure full compliance, according to Trabold.

“Review your time-tracking methods and evaluate if there’s a need for more automation,” he said. “Should the new rule significantly impact the number of employees who need to track their hours worked, an alternative method of tracking, such as time and attendance software, may better suit your needs.”

Trabold indicated that it was also important to establish clear, written employee policies for recording time worked and overtime.

7. Develop Training Procedures

Employers will need to educate staff on the company timekeeping and overtime approval procedure after updating record keeping and overtime policies.

8. Create a Communication Plan

The new rule on overtime pay is expected to impact a significant number of businesses this year. To combat the questions or concerns that arise, Trabold advised developing a communication plan for announcing the changes internally.

“Businesses should clearly communicate changes to policies and procedures with employees, making sure that there is a lot of transparency about any changes and what any new expectations to employees are,” he said.

9. Start Preparing Now

Employers with employees who may be affected should take the initiative now to evaluate the company’s standing, look at how different scenarios will impact their bottom line and determine how they will move forward, to best avoid wage claims and other issues.

“Employers need to start making plans now to ensure they understand what the regulations set means because the implementation date is not very far off,” Trabold said.

He advised that employers consider working a professional HR consultant or compensation partner to understand better the potential impact of the rule changes and their options moving forward.

Print out this new overtime rules checklist to keep the most important considerations top-of-mind:

Download it Now!

Additional Resources

Review these resources to learn more about the final rule:

Image: US Dept. of Labor

This article, “What You Must Know About New Overtime Rules; 9 Point Checklist” was first published on Small Business Trends

Source

Bulgaria’s Govt Debt Equivalent to 29.3% of Projected 2016 GDP

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Bulgaria’s government debt edged up to EUR 13.37 B last month, equivalent to 29.3% of Gross Domestic Product forecast for the year, according to figures released by the Finance Ministry on Thursday.

The government’s foreign debt totalled EUR 9.83 B and domestic debt amounted to EUR 3.54 B as at end-May, the Finance Ministry said in a monthly debt report.

Bulgaria’s government debt totalled EUR 13.34 B in nominal terms as at end-April 2016, with EUR 9.85 B in foreign debt and EUR 3.49 B in domestic debt.

Liabilities in euro made up 78.8% of total government debt as at end-May, 20.4% was denominated in Bulgarian levs, 0.6% in U.S. dollars and 0.3% in other currencies.

The government paid BGN 63.3 M on its debt in May.

The government-guaranteed debt totalled EUR 285.5 M as at end-May, equivalent to 0.6% of 2016 GDP forecast.

 

Source

From noodles to poodles

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Pots of money no more?

SOARING sales of instant noodles have for years been a reliable indicator of the insatiable appetites of China’s rising consumer class. China is the world’s biggest market for these flash-fried snacks infused with monosodium glutamate (MSG), a chemical that makes flavourless food more palatable. Locals slurp down over 40 billion packets each year. Now comes news of a nasty noodle meltdown. It is less a sign that China’s long consumer boom is waning than that Chinese tastes are changing.

The volume of instant noodles gobbled last year fell by 12.5%, according to a new report on China’s consumer market from Bain, a consultancy, and Kantar Worldpanel, a market-research firm. The consequences for firms such as Tingyi, whose Master Kong noodles are found everywhere from railway canteens to kitchen cupboards, have been severe. Profits for China’s biggest instant-noodle firm fell by 36% in 2015, to $256m, as hungry Chinese consumers turned their backs on its wares. Even more shocking, the volume of beer sold in China—the world’s biggest guzzler—fell by 3.6% last year, largely because of plunging…Continue reading

Awaiting the data

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

SHOCK, followed by frantic recalculation. That was how astonished financial markets reacted to the British vote to leave the European Union.

The initial phase saw a worldwide sell-off in riskier assets, such as equities, and a flight to safe ones, prompting further declines in government-bond yields. After the sell-off, equities started to bounce again on June 28th, in part because central banks may respond with easier monetary policy (or, in the case of the Federal Reserve, slower tightening); in part because Brexit may not have much of an impact on, say, the Chinese economy.

The biggest casualty of the vote was sterling, which was edging towards $1.50 on Thursday but on June 27th briefly dropped below $1.32, a 31-year low. In trade-weighted terms, the pound has fallen by 11% this year (see chart). Britain has a large current-account deficit (7% of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2015), which needs financing. A big drop in the pound, to make British assets more appealing to foreign investors and imports less appealing to Britons, is a necessary adjustment.

Equities have not suffered as much. Many companies in London’s…Continue reading

Faltering flagship

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

A soggy outlook in the shipyards

HOW best to prop up the companies that power South Korea’s export-driven economy as the rest of the world slows? The government’s previous answer, the so-called “one-shot” bill, aims to help the worst-affected industries to restructure by offering tax breaks for firms that sell subsidiaries and by reducing the red tape around mergers. Parliament approved it in February; it will come into effect in August. But Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s president, thinks more is needed. On June 28th she proposed a stimulus of 20 trillion won ($17 billion).

South Korea’s exports have fallen every month year-on-year since January 2015. In early June the central bank trimmed its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percentage points, taking it to an all-time low of 1.25%. Nonetheless the government this week revised down its forecast of GDP growth this year from 3.1%, which it predicted in December, to 2.8%. Ms Park said that the economic situation inside and outside the country was “more serious than ever”.

Britain’s recent decision to leave the European Union, South Korea’s…Continue reading

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