Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Islamic Finance: Emerging Challenges of Supervision
Dr. Shamshad Akhtar-Governor, State Bank of Pakistan
I. Background

Diversification and structural transformation in financial sector has beenaccompanied by increasing integration among different segments of the financial sector.The traditional boundaries between banks and non-bank financial institutions are erodingand we are witnessing the growth of universal banking and/or mergers among differentsegments of sectors.
This trend has its benefits but has associated risks as well. Supervisors face a dualchallenge. On one hand, supervisors are promoting financial diversification andconsolidation to achieve market development and innovation. On the other hand,supervisors have to position themselves to recognize the new dimensions and types of risksand encourage appropriate risk mitigation. These considerations have triggered world widedebate on how to effectively supervise different segments of financial sector inconglomerate and universal structure.

So far these debates had been concentrated around conventional banking but now itis widely gripping the world of Islamic Finance (IF). Stronger inter-dependencies amongdifferent segments of IF are emerging largely because Islamic Financial Institutions (IFIs), inprinciple, have features and inherent characteristics and more compulsion, thanconventional banking, to conform to universal banking or to evolve inter-linkages amongdifferent market segments.

II. Factors Driving Cross-sector Linkages and Interdependencies

First and foremost, IFIs’ depositors/borrowers desire to conduct financialtransactions that are Shariah compliant. It can be assumed that a person preferring to bankwith an Islamic bank will also seek to use other faith-based financial services such asTakaful and Islamic mutual funds. This faith-driven feature in itself forces and incentivizesIFIs to offer, along side bank-based services (i.e. deposit and loans), a wide range offinancial services. As a result, Islamic banks end up undertaking non-core banking activitiessuch as fund management, capital market operations, securitization, leasing, and housingfinance. This has enhanced the degree of integration between various segments of IF. Forexample: Islamic banks are likely to be strongly integrated with the Shariah capital marketssince on credit portfolio side, Islamic banks do not have the same investment avenues asthose available to their conventional counterparts. The outcome is that Islamic banks eitherend up taking large exposure in the capital markets directly or acquire subsidiaries whichprimarily engage in such businesses.

Second differentiating aspect is the nature of contractual arrangements that drivedeposits mobilized by conventional banks as compared to Islamic banks. Conventional bankdeposits are interest based contracts with guaranteed interest return whereas Islamic banksraise deposit on a profit and loss sharing basis in either a Mudaraba or Musharaka structure.Mudaraba/Musharaka contracts transform the Islamic banks’ deposits into essentially a fundmanagement product (although currently most regulators recognize these as equivalent toconventional deposit contracts) and this impacts the corresponding asset portfolio. There isa need therefore that Islamic banks acquire assets on a PLS basis as well and eventuallymove beyond fixed return products, like Murabaha and Ijara. This pushes an Islamic banktowards universal banking since in order to manage the portfolio profitability; it needs toinvest across sectors in businesses based on Shariah principles, like equity and Sukuks inthe capital market and trade contracts like commodity Murabaha, Musharaka, Ijara andTakaful.

Thirdly, further development of Islamic banking itself depends on concurrentdevelopment of Islamic capital market. For instance, development of Islamic debt market iskey to the provision of adequate liquidity support while providing additional investmentavenues. Likewise, Takaful development is critical to provide insurance coverage to Islamicbanking products, like auto and consumer financing, while strengthening secondary capitaland Islamic bond markets by being a major buyer of Islamic instruments. It is the confluenceof these factors that have induced regulators to encourage and IFs to promote rapid anddeeper financial inter-linkages and integration.

III. Supervisory Challenges posed by Cross-sector Developments

It is some of these above considerations that have augmented strategic alliancesand linkages of various types among IFIs, both within country and cross borders. As such,IFIs are evolving either as part of a global financial concern or as a domestic bank acquiringor establishing subsidiaries and/or the two arms, i.e. Islamic and conventional banks coexist.Moreover, as the conventional parts of financial institutions move towards cross-sectorintegration, their Islamic counterparts (either as specialized window or as independententities) will also follow eventually.
While it has by now been well established that there are significant benefits ofenhanced integration and inter-linkages or conglomeration in IF, such as the economies ofscale, operational synergies and effective use of scarce human resource, there are definitelycertain risks. In this area, I would like to offer few basic observations.Firstly, it is inevitable that enhanced exposure of Islamic banks into capital marketsexposes them to the volatility in associated businesses. Likewise, conglomeration, whetherthrough universal banking or through parent subsidiary model,2 exposes them to a variety of issues such as contagion risk, regulatory arbitrage, high group exposures, conflict of interestetc. These risks apply equally to both Islamic and conventional modes of finance. However,Islamic banks have thus far not erected firewalls, like conventional banks, to separatelegally, financially and managerially their investment and commercial banking activities.Obviously these risks pose a challenge to the supervisors and necessitate that appropriatechanges be made in the supervisory regime.

Secondly, Shariah compliance issues necessitate taking a more aligned view acrossIF businesses as user of Islamic products may be oblivious of ideological differences as wellas varying perceptions and interpretation of the Shariah advisors or boards and/or byregulators. Since institutions being supervised by one regulatory authority may be offeringproducts of institutions being supervised by a different regulatory body, this could introducecomplications and the challenge of ensuring uniform Shariah compliance across financialinstitutions and products.

Thirdly, traditionally different segments have been regulated by their specializedsupervisory authorities. These authorities have adopted risk management principles andsupervisory stances which are strictly in line with the risk profile of supervised sectors inisolation. With sector integration, supervisors have to coordinate closely in policy formulationand regulation as well as on-site supervision. They have to coordinate creation of necessaryfirewalls, remove moral hazards and govern the degree of cross segment exposure. Thismay even call for institutional restructuring through merging various supervisory bodies intoa single entity or for closer coordination between supervisors through creation of a thirdcoordinating body.

IV. Sector Inter-linkages of Pakistan’s Islamic Finance System

In Pakistan, besides offering trade loans, like Murabaha, Islamic banks are offeringequity and quasi equity products, such as Musharaka and diminishing Musharaka, andinvestment banking activities such as loan syndication, structured finance, etc. The six fullfledged Islamic banks with a network of 108 branches and another 58 stand alone Islamicbranches of 13 conventional banks have registered phenomenal growth and as of April2007, the Islamic banking sector constituted 3.3% of total banking assets.3 In view of theequity based nature of Islamic banking and lack of Shariah compliant financial instruments,central bank has allowed Islamic banks a relatively higher exposure (35% direct and 10%future of their equity) in capital markets compared to conventional banks (20% direct and10% future). In addition, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has relaxed statutory reserverequirement (SLR) for Islamic banks at 8% versus industry norm of 18%.Furthermore, Islamic banks are allowed to nurture parent-subsidiary/affiliate modelwhereby Islamic banks are by and large setting up asset management companies,brokerage firms and, now, Takaful businesses. Thus far the supervision of IFIs is bifurcated,with Islamic banks being regulated by SBP and non-bank IFIs, namely, Modarabas, Islamicmutual funds, Takaful companies and securities operations under the regulatory oversight ofSecurities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

Sector specific supervisory approach is also characterized by varying regulatoryrequirements vis-à-vis operational matters, governance framework and Shariah complianceacross the range of IFIs. The differences extend to minimum capital requirements ranging from Rs6 billion for Islamic banks (by the year 2009), Rs500 million for family Takafuloperators (by the year 2011), Rs300 million for general Takaful operators (by the year 2011)and Rs30 million for Islamic fund managers to Rs2.5 million for Modaraba managementcompanies. The low capital base of financial institutions, engaged in the business of Takafulor fund management, poses a significant risk to the solvency of financial conglomerates thatcharacterize the Islamic financial markets. In terms of financial reporting, Takaful companiesare not required to circulate quarterly accounts among shareholders whereas all otherIslamic financial institutions are required to do so in terms of the legal and regulatoryframework.

The segregated supervisory approach has resulted in carving of legal frameworkspecific to each sector for both conventional banks and IFIs4 but eventually there is a needfor addressing the idiosyncratic nature of IF industry, products and market players.Moreover, with regard to IF, both the regulators are following different approaches towardsShariah compliance in the institutions regulated by them. SBP requires Islamic banks toappoint Shariah advisors according to a prescribed fit and proper criteria and a ShariahBoard has been constituted at the level of SBP to deal with issues relating to Shariahinterpretation and compliance among Islamic banks. SECP’s approach varies acrossdifferent segments of IF. A Religious Board, constituted by the government, is responsiblefor approving the prospectus of each Modaraba containing the types of business to beconducted, management, etc. While the Religious Board has a significant role, there is norequirement for Modarabas or their management companies to appoint Shariah advisers atindividual fund level. Islamic mutual funds and Takaful operators, on the other hand, arerequired to appoint Shariah Council/Boards but no explicit fit and proper criteria has beenlaid down by SECP in this regard. SECP is also authorized to appoint a Central ShariahBoard under the Takaful Rules, 2005, which has not been established as yet.The greatest challenge resulting from different Shariah compliance practicesfollowed by Islamic banks, Modarabas, Takaful companies, etc. is the reputational risk facedby IFIs and misperceptions in the minds of public about Shariah compliance. This issue,therefore, needs to be addressed through coordination amongst the supervisors.Another issue arises from overlapping supervisory jurisdiction. The BankingCompany Ordinance allows banks to act as Modaraba management companies forfloatation of Modarabas. In terms of Modaraba Companies Ordinance, Modarabas can beformed to conduct any type of business, which is permitted under Shariah, be it trading,manufacturing, airline, financing, leasing, services, etc. and these are regulated by SECP.Due to overlapping regulatory jurisdictions, banks are floating modarabas through separatesubsidiaries,5 resulting in higher administrative, set up and regulatory costs. For sometime(from 1991-1997), these Modarabas were under the regulatory control of SBP, but thepowers relating to licensing, winding up, etc. were retained by SECP; consequently theregulatory authority has been reverted to SECP. Again, this highlights the need for crosssector regulation of IFIs.

Eventually there is a need to develop mechanisms for oversight of financial sector inan integrated manner. Besides coordination and cooperation among regulators, there is a need for consolidated supervision framework for financial institutions, guidelines forconsolidated public financial statements and application of regulatory prudential limits ongroup wide basis and coordination to examine the intra group linkages with industrial andcommercial entities. While conventional and Islamic financial industry would have to adoptsimilar approaches to integrated supervision, it has to be recognized that the latter is arelatively nascent industry and hence the targets should be modified to match the groundrealities.

V. Conclusion

IFSB’s ten year roadmap has highlighted the cross sector nature of IFIs and theresultant need for supervision to evolve accordingly. It is in recognition of these factors thatIFSB has sought to broaden its membership to securities and insurance supervisoryauthorities as Full Members of IFSB. IFSB’s efforts for developing Islamic regulations as wellas accounting, auditing and governance standards will facilitate adoption of unifiedprinciples for the development, operation and regulation of Islamic financial services.
Any source

Monday, October 29, 2007

El Mar Mediterráneo en el sureste, EXPLOTA.

Ayer, Domingo 28 de Octubre de 2007 fue un dia muy animado en la costa Sur-Sureste de la Peninsula Ibérica.
Sobre las 13:30 empezaban a desarrolarse nucleos por el mar frente a las costas de Málaga, Almeria, Murcia y Alicante. Conforme pasaban las horas se iban desarollando cada vez más y más. Cuando estaba situada en Marruesos y se desplazaba lentamente hacia Argelia, lo conveniente para que los nucleos siguieran creciendo es que la Dana este por Argelia o Túnez, y así fue, todo empezó a "explotar", cada vez los nucleos eran más fuertes.
Algunos tenian direcciones buenas para entrar a tierra, pero estaban muy estáticos.

Creo que la mejor manera de que entendais la situación que se dió ayer es con imágenes "sencillas y explicativas".

He puesto texto y algunos dibujos para que lo entendais mejor:

Radar de Murcia. Fuente: www.inm.es

Radar de Murcia. Fuente: www.inm.es

Radar de Murcia. Fuente: www.inm.es

Radar de Murcia. Fuente: www.inm.es

Radar de Murcia. Fuente: www.inm.es

Por una parte se formo una SC (Supercélula) frente a la costa alicantina-murciana de muchisima potencia. El núcleo principal (mayores refletividades: colores verde flojo, amarillo y naranja) con toda su potencia va bombeando precipitación de intensidad debil-moderada con intervalos cortos de lluvia fuerte y sin aparato eléctrico. Estos nucleos de poca intensidad alcanzarón a Cartagena, Torre-Pacheco, Pilar de la Horadada, Los Alcazares, Torrevieja...etc. Dejaron muy poca cantidad de precipitación.
(Imágenes de lo anteriormente citado, arriba)

Os preguntareis, por qué ese nucleo
estaba tan estático y no penetraba hacia el interior. La cuestión esta en este mapa:

Si os fijais en el mapa, los vientos en altura son de muy poca intensidad, de los más inferiores en la escala de la derecha de dicho mapa. Por eso la SC no se movia casi nada, estaba muy estática. También hay que decir que este tipo de formaciones como por ejemplo las supercélulas tienen un movimiento errático y lento, me explico, que nunca sabes en que dirección va a dirigirse, puede cambiar de rumbo en cualquier momento y generalmente se mueven muy lentamente.

Por otro lado, en el Mar de Alborán, se estaba gestando algo muy gordo también. No paraban de crecer nucleos tormentosos y de gran intensidad. En este caso todo se quedo en el Mar también, no entro a Tierra, tán solo afectó a Melilla la parte más debil y dejo 77 litros por metro cuadrado, asi que imaginaros si le hubiera afectado la parte muy fuerte...

Voy a poner también unas imágenes para que lo veais:

Radar de Almería. Fuente: www.inm.es

Radar de Almería. Fuente: www.inm.es

Radar de Almería. Fuente: www.inm.es

Radar de Almería. Fuente: www.inm.es

La actividad tormentosa era cada vez mayor, el desplazamiento de W-E (de Marruecos a Argelia) de la Dana era muy favorable.
En este mapa se aprecian las numerosas tormentas que habián, el color marrón y rojo son tormentas muy fuertes.

Cuando llego la Dana a Argelia, empezarón a surgir nucleos tormentosos en dicho pais y que tenian dirección norte. Habian posiblidades de que alguno de esos nucleos que ascendian hasta el Mar Mediterráneo chocara con la Supercélula estancada frente a las costas de Murcia y Alicante.
Y así fué... una tormenta de considerable fuerza chocó con la SC.
Aqui os pongo unas imágenes:

Eumetsat, a las 16:00 UTC

Por último tres imágenes de el mapa de rayos registrados durante la "explosión" del Mar Mediterráneo en la costa sur-sureste:

Mapa de rayos. Fuente: www.inm.es

Mapa de rayos. Fuente: www.inm.es

Mapa de rayos. Fuente: www.inm.es

(Para ampliar las imágenes, pulsar sobre ellas)

Fue una situación increible, y que hacia muchisimo tiempo que no se repetia (estoy hablando de años), yo no recuerdo ninguna Supercélula por esta zona.
Exceptuando, que hace 1 mes o 2, se creo también otra Supercélula en el mismo lugar, pero aquella vez habia más flujo de viento en altura y se desplazo hasta Mallorca, afectando a dicha isla severamente.

Ya sé que todo esto no tiene que ver con Orihuela, pero si los flujos de viento en altura hubieran sido de una velocidad considerable y otros factores de menor importancia, posiblemente Orihuela y otras muchas ciudades podrian haber sufrido inundaciones.
Any source

Vietnam FDI Statistics Reported for 10 Months: BVI the second with US$1.73 billion

The Foreign Investment Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam reported FDI figures for the ten months of 2007. From the time of the previous 9-month report, British Virgin Islands raised their positions, now they rank the second in the published top list of 50 foreign investors' countries, with the amount of invested registered capital of US$1.73 billion. The Republic of Korea, again, is the first place with registered capital of US$2.44 billion, and Singapore with US$1.37 billion is the third.

According to the Report of Foreign Investment Agency, there are 1,144 new projects on the whole, which brought in US$9.75 billion of foreign investments into Vietnam economy. The overall amount of foreign direct investment during the first ten months 2007 made US$11.26 – a 36% increase if compared to the same period of the previous year.

Vietnam now ranks the 6th among the top ten most attractive FDI destinations. These data were provided according to a survey by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Article any source

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Productionists bang the food security drum

It has been evident for some time that those who would want to see a switch away from a greater emphasis on environmental issues in relation to agriculture and a restoration of a productionist orientation have seen food security as one of their best cards.

In part this is because food supplies are getting tighter. Supply has been affected by growing demand for biofuels and other non-food crops. Demand is being stimulated by a growing and more prosperous world population.

So could 'the UK run short of food in the future' as is argued by regular Farmers Weekly contributor Hugh Brown (who combines farming with working full time for Capital Radio). This shows a not unsurprising lack of faith in the price mechanism for a farmer.

If the supply-demand balance alters, prices will go up and this will encourage more production. Of course, the land supply is not infinite, but there is plenty of land in the world, not least in the Global South, that is not being farmed as efficiently as it could be (without having an adverse environmental impact). Of course, climate change is a big uncertainty, but this shows why it should be a priority in decisions about farm policy.

Brown concentrates a lot on his fire at Defra, and it is certainly a department that has had its problems. From a farming perspective, of course, it no longer acts as the voice of the farmer in the way that MAFF did, but that was one of the reasons for setting up Defra with a new mission.

Brown argues, 'If we do start to go short of food and need to start planning seriously about how we feed the nation, it would be somewhat of a contradiction to have the same department both try to encourage the growing of food, while the other part of the department is trying to nail down environmental regulation, potentially curtailing food production.'

His solution is to give the food part of Defra its own department, presumably a Ministry of Food Security, so that 'it might be able to work more effectively in planning ahead.' The shadow of Stalinist five year plans dies hard in some areas of farming. That is not to say that we shouldn't continue to fund work that is concerned with diseases and pests that affect plants and livestock and hence undermine production.

However, given the challenge of climate change, not to mention various pollution issues, farming needs to be guided by an effective environmental policy, but also one that provides farmers with incentives for maximising environmental benefits.Any source

Friday, October 26, 2007

Alerta Naranja por lluvias

Una borrasca que ahora mismo esta situada en el Golfo de León se
desplazará hacia el sur lentamente e irá
afectando a toda la fachada
Sus consecuencias no serán muy graves, las lluvias
serán de intensidad debil-moderada y si vienen acompañadas de
tormentas pueden ser fuertes o muy fuertes puntualmente.

Fenómeno(1) - LLuvias
Precipitación acumulada en 12 horas: 100 mm.
Nivel: naranja
Ámbito geográfico: Alicante.
Hora de comienzo: 00:00 hora oficial del 27/10/2007.
Hora de finalización: 00:00 hora oficial del 28/10/2007.
Probabilidad: 10%-40%

Dentro de esa alerta naranja, también hay una amarilla:

Fenómeno(1) - LLuvias
Nivel: amarillo
Precipitación acumulada en una hora: 20 mm.
00:00 del 27/10/2007 a 00:00 del 28/10/2007 hora oficial.
Any source

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mr Baker's Speaking on the BVI Private Trust Companies Regulations

Kenneth Baker of BVI FSC Speaks on Amendments to BVI Business Companies Act“ continued.

Speaking about the Private Trust Companies Regulations, the Deputy Managing Director of the Commission Mr Kenneth Baker said the following:

1) The Financial Services Commission recognizes it is appropriate for some companies that act as trustee or provide other trust related services, to be exempted from the licensing requirement under the British Virgin Islands Banks and Trust Companies Act, 1990.

2) The BVI has permitted the use of private trust companies since the Banks and Trust Companies (Application Procedures) Directions, 1991, but, after 15 years, these could not serve as the requirements and needed the update.

3) Some years ago, the BVI branch of STEP submitted a proposal for updating the 1991 exemptions, but it was decided by BVI FSC that the proposals did not fully address its regulatory concerns. However, last year the Commission reviewed its intention of establishing a new regime for private trust companies.

Further on, Mr Baker outlined the legal framework for the private trust companies, including Financial Services (Exemption) Regulations 2007, BVI Business Companies (Company Names) Regulations 2007, and BVI Business Companies (Amendment of Schedules) Order 2007.

Other presentation points are the definition of a Private Trust Company (PTC), what types of trust business can be conducted by a Private Trust Company, definition of trust, unremunerated and related business; obligations on PTC, role and duties of registered agent, records held by him, and the reasonable steps that must be taken by a PTC.

Mr Kenneth Baker concluded that the initial reports from the BVI private sector indicated that the private trust company exemption regime is proving to be very popular, and that this is a direct result of the hard work that has gone into marketing this product.
Article any source

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kenneth Baker of BVI FSC Speaks on Amendments to BVI Business Companies Act

On October 16, the BVI Financial Services Commission published two presentations of Kenneth Baker, - the organization's Deputy Managing Director, working in the Regulation area. The remarks by Mr Baker dated October 2-4 contained some new information on the amendments to the BVI corporate legislation, and on the Private Trust Companies Regulations.

In his BVI Business Companies Amendment Act Speech, Mr Baker spoke about the amendments implemented by the BVI Government and the Financial Services Commission. He informed about the new section of the BVI Business Companies Act under which the Company Law Review Advisory committee will be established, with representation from the Government and the private sector. The main functions of the committee will be keeping BVI Business Companies Act under review, making recommendations to the Commissions on the possible changes, and on the development and reform of company law in the British Virgin Islands.

The BVI Business Companies Act, at the beginning of 2007, completely replaced the BVI IBC Act established as the principal corporate law in December 2004. Now the BVI BC Act is considered to stay in the forefront of BVI companies legislation, but to remain in this status it should be amended as necessary. In his presentation, Kenneth Baker named the last amendments to the Act as:
  • BVI Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 2006;
  • BVI Business Companies (Amendment of Schedules) Order, 2006; and
  • BVI Business Companies (Amendment of Schedules) Order, 2007.
In his presentation, Mr Baker gave brief summary of the effects of some of these amendments, and changes concerning Business Companies. In conclusion, he said that the Commission's last statistical bulletin maintains its popularity with 2007, which is expected to be a record year for incorporation.

The last amendments to the Business Companies Act announced by BVI FSC simplified the procedure of transfer from bearer share companies to non-bearer share companies. The current changes are made based on the feedback from the private sector, from international clients and professional intermediaries.
Article any source

Friday, October 19, 2007

PricewaterhouseCoopers Opens its Office in BVI

This month, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has opened its office in the British Virgin Islands. The work of the BVI office will be concentrated on investigations, forensic accounting, insolvency, restructuring, solvent wind up of companies, schemes of arrangement and business continuity.

Senior Partner of PwC Cayman Nick Freeland explained that the firm's global client base will benefit from the firm's long presence in the market. He noted that the BVI market is evolving, with an increasing demand for experts that can effectively manage critical and complex business issues and crises. The partnership will initially focus on advisory services in BVI, and the PwC East Caribbean Partnership will continue to provide other Advisory services to Government, and select domestic clients from Barbados.

PwC's team at the BVI office will be lead by Nick Carter, BVI resident and licensed insolvency practitioner, who has much experience in both the accounting and legal aspects of corporate securities, turnarounds, restructuring and insolvency, being qualified as a lawyer and accountant, and has been involved in many assignments across the globe and in multiple industries.
Article any source

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mini ciclón o medicane en el Mar Mediterráneo

Impresionante lo que se ha formado esta mañana frente a las costas de Murcia.

Esta mañana se ha formado un mini-ciclón enfrente de las costas de Murcia, se ve perfectamente definido el ojo (mirar imagen de abajo). Se ha formado debido a que la Borrasca que ya estaba por el Mediterráneo ha cogido fuerza al desplazarse hacia el Sur y se ha formado lo anteriormente dicho.

Es un fenomeno para estudiar. Se ha formado casi sin condiciones, no tiene reflejo en 500hPa, no hay suficiente inestabilidad en capas altas... es asombroso que se haya formado.

Por cierto, este fenómeno se puede llamar mini ciclón o medicane (Mediterranean hurricane).

A continuación pongo algunas imágenes:

Any source

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Mark will be bringing his one day Risky Business seminar to Tupelo, Mississippi on Friday, November 30, 2007.

Those who attend this comprehensive all day seminar will learn how independent films are financed and distributed.

Topics include organizing your company, raising financing via pre-sales, debt and limited partnerships, negotiating tactics, principal terms of the acquisition/distribution agreement, cross-collateralization and creative accounting. Particular attention is paid to how producers and filmmakers can protect their interests by watering down warranties, getting added to the E& O policy, using lab access letter to retain possession of the negative, and utilizing termination and arbitration clauses.

This seminar is being organized by the Tupelo Mississippi Film Commission and is co-sponsored by Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau; Tupelo Film Commission; BancorpSouth; MS Film Office; MS Arts Commission; and Gardner-Watson Ice House.

More info at: http://www.tupelo.net/filmfest/pages/MarkLitwak.html

Cost of the seminar is General - $65 • Attorneys - $175.00
Lunch is included. Attorneys receive

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON REGISTRATION AND SPECIAL EVENTS CALL 1-800-533-0611 or 662-841-6521or email prasberry@tupelo.net

Pennsylvania Changes its Film Incentives

Pennsylvania changed its film incentive program by passing Act 55 which creates the Creativity in Focus: The Pennsylvania Film Production Tax Credit Program, effective July 1. The new program provides a 25 percent film production tax credit for film production expenses incurred in the commonwealth.

The tax credit is available for feature films, television films, television pilots, episodes of a television series or commercials intended for national distribution. In order to qualify for the program, 60 percent of the total production expenses must be incurred in Pennsylvania. No more than $75 million per year can be awarded. Filmmakers interested in taking advantage of the tax credit program should contact the PA Film Office. More information is available at http://www.filminpa.com/.

Da Vinci Code Copyright Lawsuit Dismissed.

Judge Michael A. Posner of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment against John Dunn, the Massachusetts author of “The Vatican Boys,” who claimed that Dan Brown’s book “The Da Vinci Code" infringed his copyright.

Writer John Dunn sought $400 million in damages from Dan Brown, his publisher and the three movie studios that distributed the motion picture based on Dan Brown’s book.

Dunn claimed numerous similarities between his novel and "The Da Vinci Code." He claimed they were similar in themes, characters, setting, storyline, plot points, and concept.

The defendants asserted that they never read Dunn's book before "The Da Vinci Code" was published, and that the two works were distinctly different.

Judge Posner noted the differences in many of the key characters, describing Dunn's attempt to liken the two central female characters as "absurd" and the villain in "The Da Vinci Code" with a character in Dunn's book as "patently ridiculous."

"Far from being similar the characters, plot devices, settings, pacing, tone and the theme of the two books are entirely different," the judge said in dismissing the case. Dunn v. Brown et al., No. 06-30134, 2007 WL 2828869 (D. Mass. Sept. 28, 2007). Intellectual Property Litigation Reporter, Volume 14, Issue 13 10/04/2007


Congratulations to our client filmmaker Greg Chwerchak whose film Greetings From The Shore premiered at the Montreal Film Festival. The movie is a coming-of-age romance starring an ensemble cast including David Fumero (“One Life to Live”), Paul Sorvino ("Goodfellas"), Jay O. Sanders ("Half Nelson"), and Kim Shaw in a debut performance.

The film has been added as a "Special Screening" to the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival on Fri, October 26, 2007.

Cuttin Da Mustard

Congratulations to the filmmakers behind Cuttin Da Mustard which was the closing night film of the Pan African Film Festival and winner of the Festival Choice Award for Best Feature.

The film was also shown at the Malibu Celebration of Film and The International Black Film Festival of Nashville. It will next be shown at the American Black Film Festival on October 26, 2007. The picture stars Brandon T. Jackson (Roll Bounce, host for Up Close and Personal Tour ), who is a lead in the $125 million dollar Dreamworks movie Tropic Thunder which also stars Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Nick Nolte.

Cuttin Da Mustard also stars Keshia Knight Pulliam (Beauty Shop, The Gospel, The Cosby Show), Wesley Jonathan (Divine Intervention, Queen of Media, Steppin: The Movie), Charles S. Dutton (Alien 3, Tony Nominee for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The Piano Lesson), Adrienne Bailon (The Cheetah Girls, The Cheetah Girls 2), Sinbad (Jingle All the Way, Houseguest, and First Kid), Kym Whitley (The Perfect Man, The Salon, Next Friday), Debra Wilson (City Girls, Scary Movie 4, Ice Age 2), Chico Benymon (Ali), and Lil’ Zane (Finding Forrester, Dr. Dolittle 2). The Picture was directed by Reed R. McCants, and produced by Neema Barnette, Daisy Lawrence and Thomas Karl.

10th Annual Method FEST set for March 27 - April 3, 2008 in Calabasas, Calif

The 10th anniversary The Method Fest independent film festival, coming off the success of opening night film, "Waitress," has set its 2008 dates for March 27 - April 3, 2008 in Calabasas, Calif. The Method Fest also had several other recently released films including "Jimbabyne," "Lonely Hearts," and "Fido," plus others including "Black Irish" with upcoming release dates.
The Method Fest, the only film festival in the U.S. that puts its focus on acting, is looking for character and story-driven films featuring strong performances.

The Method Fest features American and international feature films and short films and is named after "The Method" school of acting, which revolutionized the approach in acting, particularly in film.

Deadlines for film submissions for the 10th annual The Method Fest are December 15 (early) and January 31, 2008 (late deadline). Entry fees are $40 (early) and $50 (late) for features; $30 (early) and $40 (late) for short films; student entries are $25. Screen formats accepted are 35 mm, BetaCam SP, DigiBetaCam and HDCam.

For film submission information call (310) 535-9230 or visit the festival web site at http://www.methodfest.com/ You can also register through http://www.withoutabox.com/Any source

Fischer Boel rebuffs twitchers

EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has rebuffed claims by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) that the time has come for a new CAP. The suggestion is made in a report launched by the RSPB and its associated global organisation Birdlife International: New challenges, new CAP

RSPB head of agriculture Gareth Morgan had the temerity to suggest that the CAP needs a far greater environmental element to retain its current budget: 'That means scrapping subsidies and, instead, rewarding farmers for measures to help tackle climate change, reverse widlife declines and improve water quality.'

But Fischer Boel was having none of it. She insisted that much of what the organisations were asking for was already being delivered by the CAP: 'You say you want a new CAP ... today's CAP has a huge number of "new" elements compared with a few years ago.' Of course there are significant new elements, but whether that amounts to a new policy is another matter altogether.

Fischer Boel went on to explain that the forthcoming 'health check' would provide scope for further refinement. But refinement is just what it is. As contributors to the CAP HealthCheck blog have pointed out, an opportunity is being missed to do some fundamental thinking about the objectives of the CAP and how they can be delivered. See: Health Check Any source

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chinese FDI Reaches US$47.2, BVI Among the Most Active Investors in the first 9 Months

The Ministry of Commerce of China has released new figures for Chinese FDI during the first nine months of 2007. By the new information, Foreign Direct Investment level in China continued to rise, having reached US$47.2 billion, and increased by 10.87% if compared to the same period last year. During the first three quarters of 2007, about 28,206 foreign-funded companies were founded- just 6.05% less than the amount founded during 2006. However, in September Chinese FDI declined by 2.36% to US$5.27; in that period, 3,358 foreign-funded companies were established, decreasing by 11.49%.

The last FDI report published in September confirmed the leading positions of the British Virgin Islands among foreign direct investors in the economy of China. This month, British Virgin Islands, again, were among those countries that were most active in investments in China, - Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, U.S., Cayman Islands, Samoa, Taiwan and Mauritius. During the first three quarters, the investment from these countries including BVI accounted 86.73% of the total FDI level in China.
Article any source

Alerta naranja por lluvias

Una Dana que se ha creado ya y se está intensificando está por el Golfo de Cádiz y mañana se adentrara por el estrecho de Gibraltar hasta llegar a Murcia, desde ahí nos afectará con chubascos debiles o moderados y que pueden ser fuertes si vienen acompañados de tormenta.
Fenómeno(1) - LLuvias.
Precipitación acumulada en una hora: 60 mm.
Nivel: naranja.
Ámbito geográfico: Alicante (Litoral norte, Litoral sur).
Hora de comienzo: 00:00 hora oficial del 16/10/2007.
Hora de finalización: 19:00 hora oficial del 16/10/2007.
Probabilidad: 10%-40%.

Any source

Promising new Tory ideas

At the recent UK Tory party conference George Osborne shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed increased taxes on aviation with the aim of reducing carbon emissions. The interesting extra included was a ‘family fund’ that would match these taxes with tax cuts for families. This is central to the ideas in The Free Lunch (pp.65-68) where the raising of taxes on resources, that is, green taxes, is proposed along with reductions in conventional taxes.

Another idea from The Free Lunch and the Tory Party is to protect back gardens from the wholesale high density development that is becoming the norm for new houses. See chapter 5 for a critique of this policy to provide ‘more environmentally sustainable’ cities and towns, (especially pp. 72-79).

The Tory Conference proposal to raise inheritance tax (IHT) to start at £1m was, within days, taken and modified to £600k by Labour Chancellor Alastair Darling in his Autumn Statement. The Free Lunch proposes the elimination of inheritance tax on property altogether (pp. 65,67) following the annual levy of the green taxation on the value of all land including that of homes.

What will now happen with these raised IHT limits is that the huge rises in land values linked to most homes will escape any tax. The families of homeowners will keep the valuable unearned ‘free lunch’ that renters of homes never have to pass down to their families. However this IHT reform is a good start as it clears the decks for introducing an annual land value tax. It would be difficult to launch an annual land value tax with the threat of a low IHT limit still around to raise the opposition of the vast mass of home-owning voters.

The Free Lunch proposes another idea to ease the passage of such a controversial tax, based on bringing greater fairness. Visit www.the-free-lunch.com , read the book.

Any source

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A veces estar en el "ojo" de la Dana es maravilloso

En la tarde del 11 de Octubre de 2007, la ciudad de Orihuela se encontraba en el "ojo" de la Dana y la verdad es que mereció la pena. Tuvimos unos cielos maravillosos. La gente por la calle se quedaba asombrada y sacaba los móviles para fotografias estas nubes tan curiosas llamadas mammatus.
A continuación dos fotos de las muchas que capturé:
Any source

Capital gains tax hit on farmers is not good news

Why should anyone who wants to see a more modern agriculture in Britain be concerned about the fact that the measures announced by the Chancellor in the pre-Budget report impose a greater tax burden on farmers?

Because it may discourage farmers from selling up. That is an important mechanism for restructuring farms to permit greater efficiency. It also allows new capital and younger managers with new ideas to come into the industry. Even if average age statistics can be misleading, there are still many farmers who started farming when maximising production with the help of subsidies was the favoured policy.

Farmers have been hit particularly hard by the Chancellor's scrapping of indexation allowances. This reduces taxable gains on assets held long term. It has had the effect of making tax free the first 105 per cent of gains on farmland held since at least 1982, leaving only gains above that amount subject to capital gains tax.

Farm prices have been buoyed by a number of factors. The availability of substantial subsidies has been one factor, but farms within easy reach of London have often been purchased for lifestyle and/or sporting reasons. The recent hike in crop prices also makes arable farms a more attractive investment.

Some farmers who have been thinking of selling up may now try and do so before April, but that may entail some discounting as purchasers will be well aware of the tax penalties attached to a delayed sale.Any source

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Videos relacionados con el último episodio de lluvias

Inundaciones en Calpe (Alicante):

Rotura de un puente en Beniarbeig (Alicante):
Any source

En Orihuela se ha superado la media de precipitación anual

Orihuela: media de precipitación anual superada.

Ete último episodio lluvioso en Orihuela, ha favorecido muchisimo a que se supere la media de precipitación anual en Orihuela.

La media está en 291 litros.

Llevamos 301,5 litros acumulados durante el año.

Más abajo están las cantidades de lluvia recogida cada mes y la total en el año anteriormente nombrada.Any source

La Gota Fría atiza a la Comunidad Valenciana

Impresionante el episodio de gota fria que hemos tenido en la Comunidad Valenciana. La zona más afectada ha sido el sur de la provincia de Valencia y el Norte de la provincia de Alicante.
La explicación de porque ha caido tanta agua en esas zonas anteriormente nombradas es que gracias al relieve, a las montañas que tienen, al entrar el viento de componente Este y Noreste chocan con las montañas y se junta con el aire frio en altura que hace el resto.

En Orihuela nos hemos quedado un poco al margen, aqui la alerta era naranja, pero con posibilidad a fuertes tormentas. Al final se ha quedado todo bastante al norte. Hemos recogido 42 litros.

A continuación voy a poner las cantidades de lluvia más importantes que se registraron en este episodio de lluvias (10,11 y 12 de Octubre):

La Vall d'Uixó 84.2 Litros
Borriana 98.6 Litros
Villarreal 48.9 Litros
Benicarló 61.0 Litros
Segorbe 64.0 Litros
Anna 182.0 Litros
Bolbait 111.4 Litros
Ayora 79.0 Litros
Bunyol 87.7 Litros
Benavites 95.6 Litros
Sagunt 109.6 Litros
Aldaia 103.5 Litros
Cheste 67.2 Litros
Quart de Poblet 101.6 Litros
Xirivella 149.3 Litros
Paterna 84.4 Litros
Picassent 93.0 Litros
Valencia 180.4 Litros*
Genovès 207.4 Litros
Xátiva 199.6 Litros
Montesa 186.6 Litros
Alzira 99.0 Litros
Algemesí 94.2 Litros
Benifaió 128.0 Litros
Carcaixent 133.1 Litros
Carlet 98.8 Litros
Montserrat 126.7 Litros
Castelló de la R. 162.8 Litros
Llaurí 72.0 Litros
Sueca 133.3 Litros
Bèlgida 240.0 Litros
Bellús 214.0 Litros
Bocairent 137.0 Litros
Carrícola 225.0 Litros
Quatretonda 308.1 Litros
Ontinyent I 167.0 Litros
Ontinyent II 158.8 Litros
Otos 250.5 Litros
La Pobla del Duc 244.9 Litros
Gandia 134.2 Litros
Tavernes de la V. 121.0 Litros
Vilallonga 351.0 Litros
Beniarrés 305.0 Litros
Benillup 221.5 Litros
Cocentaina 133.6 Litros
Millena 201.0 Litros
Tollos 385.4 Litros
Alcoy 103.0 Litros
Banyeres de Mariola 102.4 Litros
Castalla I 79.8 Litros
Castalla II 90.7 Litros
Onil 99.3 Litros
El Camp de Mirra 80.4 Litros
Villena 77.7 Litros
Elda 59.4 Litros
Montforte 74.4 Litros
Novelda 70.5 Litros
Pinoso 82.0 Litros
L'Atzúvia 407.0 Litros
Pego 323.0 Litros
Alcalalí 397.0 Litros
Calpe 253.0 Litros
Dénia 279.0 Litros
Gata 254.7 Litros
Xaló 284.4 Litros
Xàbia 177.2 Litros
Murla 266.0 Litros
Ondara 249.4 Litros
Orba 404.0 Litros
Pedreguer 316.0 Litros
Teulada 247.4 Litros
La Vall de Gallinera 347.0 Litros
La Vall de Laguar 367.0 Litros
L'Alfàs del Pi 170.1 Litros
Altea 220.8 Litros
Bolulla 310.0 Litros
Callosa d'en Sarrià 256.0 Litros
Confrides 248.0 Litros
Relleu 96.5 Litros
Sella 250.0 Litros
Villajoyosa 125.8 Litros
Agost 63.6 Litros
Alicante 87.5 Litros
Mutxamel 60.0 Litros
Crevillente 55.2 Litros
Elche 61.0 Litros
Albatera 41.6 Litros
Almoradí 39.8 Litros
Catral 77.6 Litros
Orihuela 42.0 Litros
Torrevieja 19.2 Litros

*Dato en una parte de la ciudad de Valencia, la lluvia ha sido muy irregular en dicha ciudad.

Impresionante, en algunas zonas más de 400 litros por metro cuadrado en menos de 24 horas.Any source

Thursday, October 11, 2007

BVI Moves Towards Achieving Category 1 Registration Status

The British Virgin Islands will probably change its vessel registration status from Category 2 to Category 1 within the Red Ensign Group. At the current moment, British Virgin Islands have the status of tax neutral Category 2 Red Ensign port of British Registry operating under the authority of the Merchant Shipping Act, 2001. At the Red Ensign Group (REG) Conference that was held in Guernsey in summer it was announced that the Secretary of State for Transport has agreed to upgrade the British Virgin Islands Shipping Register (VISR) to Category 1 status limited to general cargo ships.

In 2006, the BVI government launched the VI (Virgin Islands) Shipping Registry, which was created out of a merger of the Shipping Registry Division of the BVI Financial Services Commission, with the Marine Services Unit of the Ministry of Communication and Works. Forming of the Registry, which falls administratively under the authority of the Chief Minister's office, means that one of the final conditions required for BVI to operate as Category 1 Shipping Registry is fulfilled.

A change of registration status would lift the current tonnage restrictions on vessels that may be registered under the BVI flag, and provide the new possibilities to the jurisdiction in the merchant shipping arena benefiting.

The BVI government is planning to find the resources needed to create the infrastructure required for the change in status during the period of 2003-2007. Probably, the new status will be formally received before the end of 2007, and then BVI will join the ranks of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom.
Article any source

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The environmental impact of ending set aside

Idling land resources through set aside never made a lot of economic sense and was largely a way of dealing with over production encouraged by the old style CAP. However, many environmentalists felt that set aside encouraged biodiversity.

This was particularly the case for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) which with over a million members, largely urban gardeners whose bird identification skills are sketchy, is a very influential conservationist group in the UK. Defra policy is strongly influenced by the RSPB which has framed the agenda in terms of, for example, using farmland bird populations as an indicator of environmental stress, although they may not the best measure.

The RSPB view, as expressed by head of conservation Sue Armstrong Brown, is that 'One of the strengths of set-aside was simply that there was lots of it. It made the whole countryside more varied and wildlife loves variety.' The NFU, in contrast, argues that it is a blunt policy instrument and that only a small part of set aside ever had great environmental value.

Defra secretary Hilary Benn has stepped in to warn farmers to look after habitats and bird numbers after set aside has gone, or face new regulations to compel them to do so. He announced an immediate programme of environmental monitoring of farmland.

In fact, as Don Curry has pointed out, this is an English policy manifestation of a mich wider debate. As commodity prices have risen, global tensions between the use of land for food, fuel and the creation of environmental benefits have increased. There are no easy answers, but a debate is needed.Any source

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Una tormenta descarga 61 litros por metro cuadrado en Ibi

Una tormenta localizada en el término municipal de Ibi ha dejado hasta 61 litros de agua por metro cuadrado en una hora, sin provocar daños personales ni inundaciones, según han informado fuentes del Centro Meteorológico de Valencia y del Centro de Coordinación de Emergencias.
Las lluvias se han registrado entre las 17.00 y las 18.00 horas como consecuencia de una célula de "bastante actividad" que se localizó en Ibi, y que a continuación "se desplazó hacia el mar y perdió actividad", según las mismas fuentes.

Efectivos del Consorcio Provincial de Bomberos han actuado en ocho servicios relacionados con achiques debido, fundamentalmente, a la acumulación de agua en diversos bajos de edificios.

Fuentes del Consorcio Provincial han asegurado que no se han producido inundaciones "importantes" y que tampoco ha habido que lamentar daños personales.

Fuente: www.diarioinformacion.com

Imagen del meteosat durante la tormenta (Abrir para ver animación):

Fuente: Meteosat

Any source

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Premier Hon. Ralph T. O'Neal Summarizes Financial Situation in the Territory

Since the time when the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) defeated National Democratic Party (NDP) in general elections 2007, VIP continues to publish information about all the things which could be done better by NDP, which was the ruling party from 2003 till 2007, and which VIP is going to improve now. So far, VIP has touched upon spheres not connected directly to offshore financial industry (health, tourism, building industry), but some of future corrections may be related to the BVI financial services industry.

However, the ruling party is unlikely to criticize the BVI financial services industry, which was not less successful in the past 4 years as in the previous years, also the main regulator – BVI Financial Services Commission – was established in the previous period when VIP was the ruling party – in 2001. Anyhow, in this transitional period after the elections we will follow the process of the change of the ruling party, and how it can influence upon the Financial Services Industry. Now back to the Premier's address.

In his speech of September 19,2007, Premier Hon. Ralph T. O'Neal has addressed BVI community with information on some 'mysteries' that should be unraveled yet.

The main subject matter of Premier's talk was the situation around the project of the Virgin Islands Party Government - the Peebles Hospital. Premier explained that the work with this project came to a full stop after June 16, 2003. On May 2, 2006, the Minister of Finance, Health and Social Development was asked to inform the Honourable House of the names, scope of works and amounts of each contract that was stopped or not allowed to be performed by the Government of BVI.

Further on, the Premier in his speech got more in detail that the firm BCQS was contracted by the preceding Government in 2001, to provide project management services on the new Peebles Hospital Project. The project was placed on hold in order to conduct further financial studies; it was signed at a cost of $3.6 million to be spent over a three year period. At the time when the project was stopped, total amount of more than $1,4 million was already paid – about 50% of the amount of the contract, while only 20% of the actual work was completed. In addition to the sums expended, the closing cost was in the amount of more than $118,000, and the annual cost for services including management for all projects under the Ministry of Health and Welfare was $155,000.

The Virgin Islands Party Government negotiated with an architectural firm of Page Southerland and Page to design and produce the working drawings for the new Peebles Hospital. Hon.Ralph O'Neal noted in his speech that his National Democratic Party paid the same Architectural firm about $3,000,000 to re-design the hospital, while the Virgin Islands Party Government had designed for a total of $75,000,000.

The Premier is going to lay a copy of five development agreements of such a kind on the Table of the House of Assembly. He was informed that before signing these agreements, each prospective investor or developer was required to sign a contract to engage the services of a particular individual, for a fee of $7,500,00 a month.

Hon. Ralph O'Neal added some words about the financial situation concerning the BVI Tourist Board, and looked into the whole financial situation of the territory., saying about the possible deficit of 13,000,000 in 2007. The Premier informed on his intention to have a detailed report of the territory's finances.
Article any source

Pluviometría en Orihuela: Año 2007

Orihuela: Pluviometría año 2007

56,0 litros.
Febrero: 6,4 litros.
Marzo: 49,2 litros.
51,2 litros.
Mayo: 10,8 litros.
Junio: 1,0 litro.
Julio: 1,2 litros.
Agosto: 25,1 litros.
Septiembre: 42,6 litros.
Octubre: 109,5 litros.
Noviembre: 4,3 litros.
Diciembre: 12,0 litros.

*Media anual de precipitación en Orihuela: 291 litros

Total: 368,3 litros.

Evidentemente, los litros caidos son por metro cuadrado.
Any source

Thursday, October 4, 2007


To the left is an image by Elizabeth Jameson which, the colophon of Carla Harryman's Open Box tells us, was made in conversation with Harryman. While this image appears on the rear cover of Open Box, and another appears on the front cover, there are also two images by Jameson inside the book—one which we find on the recto of the page immediately before the first poem and one on the recto of the page immediately after the last poem. Here the very poems collected in Open Box are themselves boxed in. As Harryman informs us, within the fact (or flesh) of the book, the poem resides as skeletal frame: "The poem becomes a little/ Am I/ An emotion/ Skeleton"— though perhaps this "Skeleton" is not the poem but rather the "I" which wonders whether or not it is something, a being, reducible to "emotion", a "Skeleton", something which is not being as such but the shadow of being, the shell of a prior subject position.

As with the work of Tom Raworth, it is hard to read any one line of verse here in relation to any other. Do we attach a given line to the line preceding it or the one following? And it is precisely the construction of such disjunction and dislocation within the body (box) of the poem which suggests that the poems we encounter in this collection are open, their contents strewn across the floor, no longer bound to the logic of form or normative syntactic and sentence structures. Each line dangles between others and, given the use of negative space on the page, they dangle in what appears to be a curious isolation, as though each were, on some level, a poem unto itself. The longer lines have a lyric quality, but it is the wonderfully disjunctive juxtaposition of each line to surrounding lines which subverts the lyricism of the work. And here, peering into the open box, we scream or encounter the screams of others:

Dangling in box
A tiny screw
Attached to a scream
Switched to arm

Belladonna Books. 2007. Available through SPD.
Any source

BVI the 3rd in 9 Months' Statistics for Vietnam FDI

The Foreign Investment Agency of Vietnam published FDI results for the first nine months of 2007. The amount is estimated at $9.6 billion, - that is 38% increase compared to the same period last year.

The official at the ministry's Foreign Investment Agency informed that, this year, Vietnam is expected to attract 12 billion USD in new foreign direct investment. The main FDI source during the first nine months was The Republic of Korea, with 311 newly approved projects worth more than 2.1 billion USD, the amount that makes 25.4% of the total. As in the FDI report published a month ago, British Virgin Islands is in the third place, with 39 projects valued at $1.23 billion. The second place in the ranking belongs to Singapore, with its 67 projects for 1.38 billion USD. The forth and the fifth positions, immediately after BVI, are taken by Taiwan with US$629.7 million, and India with US$623.1 million.
Article any source

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hon. Ralph O'Neal Speaks About Financial Situation in the BVI Tourist Board

Hon. Ralph O’Neal, the new premier of the British Virgin Islands, which also holds responsibility for tourism, has temporarily banned traveling overseas by employees of the BVI Tourist Board. The purpose of this measure is to prevent further depletion of the statutory body's financial situation.

Addressing the territory's community, Premier O'Neal suggested that the BVI TB needs tighter fiscal management. He said: “There is no doubt, my dear people, that the financial situation with the Tourist Board is grim and in order to prevent the situation becoming worse I had to put a ban on traveling of the employees until I could get a clear picture of the whole situation, I am aware that some things are already paid for especially in the American and European markets and once proper representation is made I am prepared to allow that.”

Further he explained that the BVI Tourist Board, which was very important function of advertising and promoting these islands as a tourist paradise, in the year 2006 was instructed to spend $1,696,891 from their operating budget in capital works, such as the Queen Elizabeth Park, Gun Creek Project phase one, Architectural and management fees. Up to June 2007, the Tourist Board spent the amount of $730,222. These amounts were to be refunded by the Central Government.

It should be said that in the last years, a lot of work was done for popularization of the British Virgin Islands not only as business centre but also as the centre of tourism. It is not a secret that BVI economy depends to a large extent on touristic and financial services sectors, and expenses on marketing may be quite large.
Article any source

Monday, October 1, 2007

Capping SFPS is on the agenda again

Leaks from Brussels suggest that capping Single Farm Payments is on the agenda for the forthcoming Health Check. This was mooted at the time of the last reform and defeated by opposition from Britain and Germany who would have lost out the most.

The last set of proposals envisaged an overall ceiling, but this time reductions would be tapered to make them more palatable. There would be a 10 per cent reduction on payments about €100,000, 25 per cent off payments above €200,000 and 45 per cent off payments above €300,000. As an additional incentive, money saved by the 'capping' would stay in a member state and be added on to its national envelope for targeted receipts.

There would also be a lower limit on payments to save the transaction costs of payments to owners of horse paddocks or hobby farms. These tend to gum up the payments system and are not supporting anything that resembles a commercial farming activity.

Reducing payments to large-scale farmers, some of them members of Europe's royal and aristocratic families, would seem to be a no brainer. In a sense, however, it is penalising the more economically efficient farmers who are often better suited to compete in an international market. That being so, perhaps they should not have subsidies at all, but then no farmer should be receiving non-specific subsidies (other than a pay off in the form of a bond).

There is also a difficult technical problem. How does one define what constitutes a farm? Ownership of large estates could be subdivided among different companies. Lawyers have always been adept at spotting new loopholes in the CAP and they could be the real beneficiaries of these proposals. However, I doubt whether they would go through in the form suggested.Any source