BREXIT: Emefiele says no foreseen adverse impact for Nigeria just yet

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele said at the weekend that Nigeria does not face any adverse consequences from Brexit just yet, as negotiations deal gets tougher.
He said though negative impact could have resulted from immigration and trade but that the relationship between Nigeria and Britain on those two fronts was not strong enough to cause panic.

According to him, Nigerian authorities are reviewing the situation and would take necessary actions if needed.

Emefiele was speaking in Washington at the end of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

Just last Friday, the United Kingdom missed its second Brexit deadline, accepting the European Union’s offer to remain until October 31.

The UK’s inability to leave the EU on time is already impacting British and European politics.

Source: By Onyinye Nwachukwu

Pentagon to find places to House up to 5,000 Isolated Migrant Children

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a request to identify places to potentially house up to 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

In March, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requested Pentagon support to identify locations to house unaccompanied migrant children through Sept. 30.

Migrant arrivals on the US border with Mexico have been building steadily for months, driven by growing numbers of children and families, especially from Central America.


Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis told Reuters Shanahan approved that request on Tuesday. Davis said HHS had made no request to actually house the children so far.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he was not reviving a policy of separating children from parents who had illegally crossed the US-Mexico border, one day after media reports that his administration was considering putting it back in place.

In February, Trump declared a national emergency to help build a border wall, which would allow him to spend money on it that Congress had appropriated for other purposes. Congress declined to fulfill his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall this year.

The Republican president’s latest pronouncements, including a threat to impose auto tariffs on Mexico, are in response to the rising number of migrants. Trump has previously turned to the military to help with his border crackdown.

Last year, the US military was asked to house up to 20,000 immigrant children but the space was never used.

Last month the Pentagon said it had shifted $1 billion to plan and build a 57-mile section of “pedestrian fencing,” roads and lighting along the border with Mexico. There are about 6,000 active duty and National Guard troops near the border.

Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart in Washington; editing by James Dalgleish


Singapore Still 2nd On World’s Most Expensive Private Property Market

SINGAPORE remains the world’s second-most expensive housing market after Hong Kong, according to an annual CBRE report which compares private residential property markets across 35 cities. But average price growth was significantly slower, at just 1.1 per cent.

Hong Kong kept its top position with an average residential property costing US$1.235 million or US$2,091 per square foot (psf). Singapore came a distant second at US$874,372 or US$1,063 psf, with Shanghai third at US$872,555 or US$714 psf. CBRE noted that these top three cities have all introduced cooling measures to keep prices under control.

Asian cities took half of the spots in the top 10, with Shenzhen coming in fifth and Beijing, ninth. The other cities in the list were Vancouver (4th), Los Angeles (6th), New York (7th), London (8th) and Paris (10th).



Singapore’s private property market saw average price growth of 1.1 per cent in 2018, far outpaced by Hong Kong’s and Shanghai’s growth rates of 5.5 per cent and 11.2 per cent respectively, and ranking 27th out of the 35 cities studied.

The report’s property data for Singapore comes from the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Realis database, which covers only private property transactions.

He noted that following property curbs introduced last year, price growth declined for the second straight quarter in Q1 2019, after five consecutive quarters of strong growth since Q3 2017. “Coupled with increasing supply and weaker sentiment, prices are likely to moderate or remain flat from this year going forward,” he added.


Berlin activists march to demand city seize housing from landlords

Thousands of Berlin residents took to the streets on Saturday to vent anger over surging rents and demand the expropriation of more than 200,000 apartments sold off to big private landlords, which they blame for changing the character of the city.

Activists have started collecting signatures for a ballot proposal that would require the city to take back properties from any landlord that owns more than 3,000 apartments. Polls suggest such a measure could pass, forcing the city to consider spending billions of euros buying privatised housing back.

Demonstrators marched through the city centre under a giant model shark. Banners read “against rent sharks and speculators”.

“We have had very bad experiences with these property companies for years, and we know that they answer to their shareholders and not to tenants. We don’t want them in our city any more,” organiser Rouzbeh Taheri told Reuters television.

For decades after unification in 1990, Berlin became a magnet for artists, musicians and students drawn by housing that was far cheaper than in other major European cities. Around 85 percent of Berliners rent their homes rather than own them.

But with an influx of some 40,000 people a year in the last decade, rents have more than doubled since 2008, according to a study by online housing portal The city is no longer a bargain for newcomers, and many of its longer-term residents say they are struggling.

Among the properties that have been sold off to the private sector are many of the large landmark Communist-era housing projects built as showpieces under the former East Germany. Many have been acquired in recent years by Deutsche Wohnen, the city’s largest landlord with around 115,000 flats.

Campaigners, who call their movement “expropriate Deutsche Wohnen”, have six months to gather 20,000 signatures and until February to collect a further 170,000 to force a referendum. A February poll showed 44 percent of Berliners support renationalising flats, while 39 percent oppose it.

Deutsche Wohnen and other landlords say the spectre of expropriation could exacerbate the problem by deterring new construction: “Expropriation brings no relief for the drastically tight housing market in the capital,” said Deutsche Wohnen Chief Executive Michael Zahn.

The Berlin Senate estimates the cost of buying back property at up to 36 billion euros ($41 billion). The Social Democrats who lead the coalition that governs the city say such funds would be better spent building housing than re-nationalising it. They instead favour a five-year rent freeze.

“I understand the anger against property firms that want to squeeze every cent out of renters. But expropriation takes years and doesn’t create a single apartment,” the Social Democrats’ national leader Andrea Nahles told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Source:  Caroline Copley, Reuters TV

UAE denies stopping issuance of 3 months visa to Nigerians

The United Arab Emirates Embassy in Nigeria has denied suspending or stopping the issuance of three months visa to Nigerians travelling to the country as a result of a robbery allegedly involving five Nigerians in Dubai.

The embassy in its Twitter handle @UAEEmbassyNGR said: “In the light of the press report published this morning (Thursday 4/4/2019) alleging that the United Arab Emirates has suspended issuing tourist Visa to Nigerian nationals, the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Abuja would like to announce these news are inaccurate and stresses the importance of sourcing news from its official channel”.

Meanwhile, the mission told News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Friday that “there were no changes in the visa policy at all”.

In a statement, the embassy said: “In light of the press reports published this morning, and alleging that the United Arab Emirates has suspended issuing tourist visas to Nigerian nationals, the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Abuja would like to announce these news are inaccurate, and stresses the importance of getting the news from its official channels. ‘

Five Nigerians allegedly broke into a Bureau De Change in Sharjah Area of Dubai and robbed it.

Shortly after the incident, a travel and tours agent, Africholidays, issued a statement online that Nigerian passport holders were no longer entitled to three months visa in UAE.

Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs, has described the action as disgraceful.

Many Nigerians visit UAE, especially Dubai, on business trips.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria(NAN)

If voted to power, home loan EMIs would become cheaper than house rent

After Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) interest rate cut yesterday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said government wants to further reduce the burden of interest rates on the common man to a level where paying equated monthly installments (EMIs) for home loans will be cheaper than paying house rents.

Speaking at an industry event yesterday, Jaitley said the Narendra Modi government has not increased tax rates in the last five years, but has still been able to double the tax base and increa ..

aitley said the Narendra Modi government has not increased tax rates in the last five years, but has still been able to double the tax base and increase tax collection. He said, if voted to power, the government would pursue policies to enable further reduction in interest rates and also continue with fiscal consolidation.

“Low interest rates will make borrowings cheaper, particularly for homebuyers, and boost consumer demand that will boost economic growth,” Jaitley also said in an interview to Hindustan Times.

Giving an example of previous NDA government under former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Jaitley claimed that When Vajpayee was the prime minister, home loans had become so cheap that EMIs were less than renting a house. “I think that’s where we need to take interest rates,” he added

Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had introduced income tax deductions in lieu of interest payments on home loans, which lowered the cost of borrowing and boosted that housing sector.

He said that the Modi government have consciously tried to strengthen India’s middle class. With every budget, the government has tried to increase the spending capacity of middle-class by liberating it from taxes. “We brought indirect taxes – GST [Goods and Services Tax] down. For housing , we have brought down to negligible level,” he added.

“The future of the Indian economy is the middle class and the neo-middle class and today’s poor should eventually become a part of that,” Jaitley said.

Source: Economic Times India

Under-employment, not unemployment, is India’s big problem

What would you say about the NYAY scheme of the government?

If the Congress really believed its moral argument, we would not be where we are today. From 1950 onwards, if the Congress had really followed proper pro-growth policies just like South Korea, Taiwan and China — all of which had about the same per capita income as us, we too would have had similar growth and our per capita incomes would be significantly higher and poverty as we define it today would simply not be there.

So, I think if one really is serious in believing in the moral argument, one has to also then answer for what was done in the first three to four decades.

That is my mysterious kind of response but the most serious one is that we all wanted to help the poor, particularly when we are talking about the destitute, the bottom 20% of the population. Nobody in India or anywhere else would be against such policies.

Do you believe that 3% fiscal target that we keep talking about will completely go off the radar? Perhaps we will have to look at new sources of revenue like taxing the rich?

Well that is what they need to spell out. This is precisely what I am saying. Where is at least outline of the proposal on how you will do it. Remember they also said they will not cut any of the existing subsidies, they will not raise the taxes.

They said merit-based subsidies.

They have to say it. This is generality but the point is ultimately when the push comes to shove, which subsidies are they going to cut? How much additional resources will be generated?

The devil is in the detail and the detail has not been provided?

I am not asking all micro details, barely some broad outlines because we are talking about Rs 3.6 trillion and one has to have some big ticket items on which to peg these kinds of resources.

Everybody keeps asking where are the jobs? Congress’s manifesto talks a lot about their plan with respect to jobs but the incumbent government says the jobs crisis is a big myth. How do you see things?

Well I have said this many times and I will repeat it that I do not think unemployment is India’s big problem, it is under-employment, because given the level of poverty, everybody has to do something

. You got to make your ends meet and you got to have two meals a day. So everybody works. In this sense, unemployment rate in India has always been low and that is the case but it is the under-employment. People are doing very low productivity jobs and that gives them relatively low wages, low living standards and therefore poverty. This is where we need jobs that pay good wages, meaning higher productivity jobs.

Economists across the world are questioning the credibility of Indian data. This has become a big talking point. You have been in India. You have seen how the government functions. Are people outside believing in the data that India is generating?

Look, I mean, all the international agencies including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund are using these data and they have not raised any doubts about the data. It is our own cynical economists who are raising these questions.

You will say there is smoke without fire? It is all propaganda?

Yes, yes. It is so largely because Indian statistical agencies are very independent and I was inside the government for three years.

Source: Economic Times India

World Bank gets new president

The Executive Directors of the World Bank on Friday unanimously selected David Malpass as the new president of the World Bank Group.

Mr Malpass’ five-year term will begin on April 9.

A statement by the group said the Board expressed its deep gratitude to Interim President, Kristalina Georgieva, for her dedication and leadership in recent months.

The executive directors followed the selection process agreed in 2011.

The process included an open, transparent nomination where any national of the Bank’s membership could be proposed by any Executive Director or Governor through an Executive Director.

The process was then followed by a thorough due diligence and a comprehensive interview of Mr. Malpass by the Executive Directors.

The Board said it looked forward to working with Mr. Malpass on the implementation of the Forward Look and the capital package agreement as articulated in the Sustainable Financing for Sustainable Development Paper.

Mr. Malpass previously served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs for the United States.

As Under Secretary, Mr. Malpass represented the United States in international settings, including the G-7 and G-20 Deputy Finance Ministerial, World Bank-IMF Spring and Annual Meetings.

He was also represented the US in meetings of the Financial Stability Board, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

In his role as Under Secretary, Mr. Malpass played a crucial role in several major World Bank Group reforms and initiatives, including the recent capital increase for IBRD and IFC.

He was also instrumental in advancing the Debt Transparency Initiative, adopted by the World Bank and IMF, to increase public disclosure of debt and thereby reduce the frequency and severity of debt crises.

Prior to becoming Under Secretary, Mr. Malpass was an international economist and founder of a macroeconomics research firm based in New York City.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Malpass served as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Developing Nations and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Economic Affairs.

In these roles, he focused on an array of economic, budget, and foreign policy issues, such as the United States’ involvement in multilateral institutions, including the World Bank.

Mr. Malpass has served on the boards of the Council of the Americas, Economic Club of New York, and the National Committee on US–China Relations.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Colorado College and his MBA from the University of Denver. He undertook advanced graduate work in international economics at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

The World Bank President is Chair of the Boards of Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA).

The president is also ex officio Chair of the Boards of Directors of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the Administrative Council of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Source: PremiumTimes

France’s emergency winter housing period ends

While most Parisians greet the warmer spring weather with relief, for thousands in the capital and other major cities, the change of season is a stressful time. The end of March signals the end of emergency winter housing plan in France, which could put up to 8,000 people back on the streets.

During the winter period in France, from 1 November until 31 March, a tenant cannot legally be evicted except if another form of decent accommodation has been found for them.

It also means the closure of temporary emergency beds made available by the government throughout the five months of winter.

On Wednesday, the Minister for Housing Julien Denormandie, announced that it had increased its temporary capacity to host 6,000 more homeless people during the winter. But only 1,400 of those beds would be made permanent, bringing the number of emergency beds to 145,000 throughout the year.

“This is a gallant effort but it isn’t going to be enough” says Florent Gueguen, of the Federation of Solidarity workers (FAS).

To illustrate the gravity of the situation, on Thursday, the Salvation Army in Paris painted dotted lines on the ground with the words “reserved for the homeless” to represent the only place people would be able to sleep after being evicted.

“No-one should have to sleep in the street, it’s something from another era”, says Samuel Coppens, spokesperson for the Salvation Army in an interview with Le Monde daily newspaper.

In 2017,15 547 families – more than 30 000 people – were evicted with the help of the authorities, a historical record, according to the latest annual report published by the French charity Fondation Abbé Pierre (FAP).

En 2017, 126,000 evictions were recorded, 120,000 of them due to unpaid rent (+49% since 2001).

“The rise in evictions is in direct contradiction to the ‘housing first’ policy of the government”, says the Foundation, a plan that was intended to facilitate direct access to housing.

“With an increase of 46 percent over the last ten years, around 300,000 people have been forced out of their homes” FAP said.

“How many more will be evicted this year?” the FAP asked during an event to raise awareness, in front of the housing ministry in Paris on Sunday.

On Saturday, some people who have been evicted before, or are about to be made homeless, joined the Yellow Vest protesters in Paris alongside the organisation known as “Right to Housing” (Droit au Logement).

Charities point the finger of blame at several factors. The steep rise in rent, the competitive real estate market, the energy crisis along with the general loss of purchasing power for low and middle income workers.

They are urging the government, in light of these factors, to stop all evictions unless alternative housing arrangement can been found.

They are also calling for the construction of housing for low income families on a massive scale and are insisting on rent-controlled housing in big cities.

On top of that, charities are concerned that with administrative changes made to various public structures set up to welcome migrants, there will be even more people made homeless this year.

Mathias Mourier Communications officer for La Cloche, an association to help the homeless told La Connexion news site earlier this year that there are an estimated 150,000 homeless people in France.

He said citizens want to be of some help but they didn’t know how.

The organisation’s Le Carillon project has signs for shopkeepers or restaurants to put in their windows to show what services they can provide such as access to a telephone, internet, a meal, a haircut, toilets or a glass of water.

The initiative is part of an international platform known as The Chime.

Source: RFI

US housing starts jump more than expected in January

U.S. homebuilding increased more than expected in January as construction of single-family housing rebounded after four straight monthly declines, but building permits for these units fell to the lowest level since mid-2017.

Housing starts jumped 18.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.230 million units in January, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Data for December was revised down to show starts declining to a rate of 1.037 million units instead of the previously reported pace of 1.078 million units.

Building permits rose 1.4 percent to a rate of 1.345 million units in January, driven by an increase in permits for the volatile multi-family housing segment.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts rising to a pace of 1.197 million units in January. The release of the January housing starts and building permits report was delayed by a five-week partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on Jan. 25.

The housing market hit a soft patch last year amid higher mortgage rates, expensive lumber as well as land and labor shortages, which led to tight inventories and less affordable homes. Investment in homebuilding contracted 0.2 percent in 2018, the weakest performance since 2010.

Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, surged 25.1 percent to a rate of 926,00 units in January, the highest since May 2018. The increase followed four straight monthly declines. Single-family homebuilding rose in all four regions.

Permits to build single-family homes fell 2.1 percent in January to a pace of 812,000 units, the lowest level since August 2017, suggesting weakness in single-family homebuilding in the months ahead.

Starts for the multi-family housing segment rose 2.4 percent to a rate of 304,000 units in January. Permits for the construction of multi-family homes increased 7.2 percent to a pace of 533,000 units.

Source: CNBC

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