27 June 2007 02:00 [Source: ICIS news]
Asahi Shimbun, Japan (online edition) ?xml:namespace>
SIA chief will ask staff to pay back part of bonuses
The head of the Social Insurance Agency (SIA) said he will ask all 17,000 employees to return up to half of their summer bonuses to atone for the debacle over the agency's sloppy pension record keeping.
Kiyoshi Murase said he will also ask several thousands of retired agency officials and even past administrative vice ministers to donate similar amounts of money.
Survey: 92% of voters still feel anger about pension issue
As many as 92% of voters remain angry about the government's slipshod handling of pension records, but the opposition camp has failed to capitalize, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.
Only 4% of voters said their anger over the pension mess has subsided, according to the telephone survey of 1,095 respondents conducted on Saturday and Sunday.
Business & Industry
Asian giants team up to lure visitors
Japan plans to join forces with the Chinese and South Korean governments to attract more tourists from the United States and Europe, sources said Monday.
Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, minister of land, infrastructure and transport who is also in charge of promoting tourism, will meet his counterparts from Beijing and Seoul on Tuesday in Qingdao, China.
7 of 8 automakers see production rise
Seven of Japan's eight passenger car makers saw their domestic production rise in May from the same month in 2006 due to an increase in manufacturing for exports, according to the automakers' statistics released Monday.
The only exception was Nissan Motor, whose May production fell by 12.3% from a year earlier, marking the 17th consecutive year-on-year decline since January 2006.
Inflows of hot money to be curbed
The foreign exchange regulator yesterday vowed to strengthen controls over illegal capital that has been flowing into the stock and property markets.
"Speculative capital has flown into the country under the guise of trade and investment," Deng Xianhong, deputy head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), said in a statement.
$5bn African fund launched
A $5bn fund was launched yesterday to finance Chinese companies' investment in Africa.
The China-Africa Development Fund (CADF) has drawn first-phase funding of $1bn from China Development Bank (CDB), one of the three State-owned banks which finance policy-related projects.
Business & Industry
Tax breaks for ocean-going ships re-registered domestically
Ocean-going ships flying foreign flags of convenience will be given tax exemptions as an incentive to register in the country, a top official with the Ministry of Communications said yesterday.
Effective 1 July, Chinese-owned ships registered overseas by the end of 2005 will be allowed to register domestically - in Shanghai, Tianjin and Dalian - and exempted from customs duty and import value-added tax for the vessels.
Polluters will be forced to pay more
China plans to significantly increase charges on the release of pollutants and effluents, said Bi Jingquan, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission.
The move is to push companies to more actively clean up the environment by imposing greater share of the financial burden, Bi said.
Panama affirms Taiwan ties despite trade interest in PRC
Panamanian President Omar Torrijo Herrera told a Japanese newspaper yesterday that relations between Taiwan and Panama remain firm, but that his country would continue to forge tighter commercial ties with Beijing. Torrijo's comment came amid speculation that other diplomatic allies in Central America might be ready to abandon Taiwan after Costa Rica recognized China on 7 June at Taiwan's expense, ending more than six decades of formal ties.
DPP alleges Ma took part in rigging Taipei Arena bid
A legislator and a Taipei City councilor of the governing Democratic Progressive Party yesterday filed corruption complaints in Taipei District Court against Ma Ying-jeou, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Kuomintang. The DPP officials allege that Ma, while acting as Taipei City mayor, engaged in bid-rigging to hand over the rights to operate the Taipei Arena, known as the Little Dome to the Eastern Multimedia Group in exchange for political donations from the group.
Business & Industry
US growers fear flood of PRC apples
Farmers have been growing apples here since before the Civil War, and as times have changed they have changed with them, planting smaller trees to speed up harvests and growing popular new varieties to satisfy changing tastes.
But the growers who have made Adams County the core of apple-growing in Pennsylvania worry that they face a new challenge that may be too big to overcome and could change their way of life.
Zoellick to lead World Bank as it tries to shake off scandal
The World Bank on Monday approved Robert Zoellick as its next president as the 185-country development lender moved to distance itself from a scandal that cost it credibility around the world.
Zoellick, 53, who is a vice chairman at investment bank Goldman Sachs, is to take office Sunday. A well-known consensus builder, he faces the task of rebuilding trust in the development lender that cracked under current president Paul Wolfowitz.
Roh steps into college admissions brouhaha
President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday intervened in an ongoing dispute over university admissions, calling for schools to accept government guidelines.
He met yesterday morning with 152 university chiefs at Cheong Wa Dae to discuss pending educational issues, including government plans to improve higher education.
70,000 workers to become full-timers
The government yesterday announced a plan to grant full-time status and greater compensation to a total of 71,861 nonregular workers in the public sector by the end of September, taking the initiative in enhancing job security and working conditions of temporary employees.
They are a third of 206,742 nonregular workers hired by central and local administrative bodies, as well as state-run corporations and institutes, Labor Minister Lee Sang-soo said in a news conference.
Business & Industry
Venture firm sees future in custom-made autobikes
Moon Choppers Corporation, Korea's first licensed custom motorcycle producer, is a small company operated by a group of motorcycle enthusiasts and technicians.
The company has been in business for less than three years, but as the country's only legally-operated custom motorcycle manufacturer, Moon Choppers has a unique advantage in the market for such vehicles.
Environment themes attract fund investors
Mutual funds investing in environment-related sectors have drawn nearly won (W) 1,230bn ($1.33bn) from individual investors, the Asset Management Association of Korea said yesterday.
Samsung Global Water Fund, which invests in water, raised W882bn in less than three months since it first opened, and the fund's balance now stands at W974bn. Last year, Allianz Global Investors' Global Ecotech Fund closed early at W140bn, and the fund is now making a 16.7-17.1% return on investment, according to AMAK.
Sensex ends flat; RPL, Suzlon fuel Nifty rally
The key market indices finished on a divergent note today. While the BSE benchmark index, Sensex, exhibited lacklustre movement through the day, the NSE index, Nifty, zoomed towards the close, thanks to significant gains in Reliance Petroleum and Suzlon (both non-Sensex stocks).
The range for the Sensex was just 81 points - from the day's open of 14,479, the index rallied to a high of 14,560. The index pared gains at close and eventually ended on a flat note at 14,501 - up 13 points.
SBI traded at 24% premium
Trades between FIIs generated a volume of Indian rupee (Rs) 4.2bn ($103.0m) on the BSE Tuesday-an decrease of 35.30% from Rs6.49bn clocked on Monday. As many as 12 stocks witnessed trades of 5.4m shares on Tuesday.
SBI was traded at highest premium of 23.52% on NSE with 71,601 shares changing hands at Rs1,800 as against the spot price of Rs1,457.30.
Economy & Policy
Ethanol blending can be lethal for your car
Rakesh Kumar (name changed) owns a petrol pump in Delhi’s busy Connaught Place area.
A week ago, water seeped into his underground petrol storage tank, which mixed with the ethanol blended in the petrol. Kumar then had two options: he could throw out the water-ethanol mix and suffer a loss or let it enter fuel tanks of cars.
While Kumar opted to suffer a loss of Rs80,000 that day since he threw out 2,000 litres of the corrupted ethanol, another dealer facing the same problem — Mohan Sharma (name changed) — decided to pump water into fuel tanks, along with the petrol. “I have no option. Who is going to bear my losses?” said Sharma.
Starbucks plans to file fresh application for India entry
International coffee chain Starbucks will send a revised application to the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) for an entry into the Indian market.
The department is of the view that Starbucks should enter through the FDI route. The coffee chain had earlier applied for entry through the franchisee route. Under this proposal, the master franchisee was New Horizons Retail, floated by Indonesia-based NRI VP Sharma and Kishore Biyani, the CEO of the Future Group.
SingTel eyes stake in Pakistani telco
Singapore Telecommunications is reported to be the front runner to acquire a stake in leading Pakistani mobile phone company Warid.
Quoting sources, The Financial Times newspaper said yesterday that SingTel is in advanced talks to buy about 30% of Warid in a deal likely to value the company at $1bn. An agreement could be signed as early as next month, the paper said.
Saudi Telecom in $3bn deal with Binariang-GSM
SAUDI Telecom Company, the Islamic kingdom's principal telco, has proposed to buy 25% of Binariang-GSM, which wholly owns Maxis Communications, and 51% of Maxis-NTS, Maxis's Indonesian subsidiary, for a total of $3.05bn.
Maxis is Malaysia's largest mobile telephone company which was privatised in May by Binariang-GSM, a company controlled by Malaysian tycoon T Ananda Krishnan for over $11bn.
Business & Industry
Shocks await S'pore car dealer in M'sia
Ferrari distributor Hong Seh Motors has hit a roadblock in its bid to establish itself in Malaysia, where its potential partner has found its supply of approved permits (APs) suspended and its shareholders hauled up for questioning.
A week ago, Malaysian company Next Car - the franchise holder for Ferrari and Maserati in Malaysia - invited Hong Seh's directors to take a 30% stake. The stake has not yet been priced.
KL court clears tycoon Eric Chia of CBT charges
Former steel tycoon Eric Chia Eng Hock - one of the first big names brought to court under Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's anti-graft drive - was acquitted of criminal breach of trust yesterday after a judge said the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case.
Mr Chia was charged in 2004 with embezzling ringgit (M$) 76.4m (S$33.8m, $21.9m) from state-owned Perwaja Steel when he was managing director. He was said to have 'dishonestly authorised' the payment to the account of a Hong Kong-based firm when no such payment was due.
Thaksin defiant, won't return
Noppadon Pattama, the lead legal adviser of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, said Tuesday his boss will not return to Thailand to hear police charges or fight court cases - until after the general election.
Mr Noppadon cited four reasons behind the decision.
Eriksson agrees to join Team Thaksin
Sven-Goran Eriksson, out of work since the World Cup, agreed Tuesday to take over as manager of Thaksin Shinawatra's Manchester City Football Club for a salary of £3m ($6.0m) a year – baht (Bt) 205m ($6.4m).
Sky Sports News reported that the former England manager, who has been out of football since the 2006 World Cup in Germany, will sign a three-year deal for the equivalent of $6m depending only on Mr Thaksin's successful takeover of the club.
Business & Industry
Silicon steel tariffs fall
The cabinet has exempted import tariffs on 28 items of electrical silicon steel in an effort to promote the electrical appliance and electronics industries, according to Somchai Sujjapongse, an adviser to the Fiscal Policy Office. ''The tax holidays are aimed at restructuring [factors that have] impeded the development of local manufacturers and improving their competitiveness,'' he said.
The Customs Department currently imposes a 1% tariff on electrical steel with silicon content between 0.6% and 6%, and a 5-12% tariff for silicon content of 0.6% or less.
Samart cuts services to Thai Mobile
Samart Corporation yesterday suspended all services provided to Thai Mobile, the cellular phone joint venture of TOT Plc and CAT Telecom, after TOT failed to honour debt payments now totalling Bt1.12bn. Samart also threatened to bring TOT to court if it did not agree to negotiations within the next few weeks.
The suspension of services could affect 70,000 Thai Mobile customers, particularly when they make calls to Thai Mobile call centres, as well as monthly billing.
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