Middle Eastern tourists are among the largest consumers in the world

first_imgThe four Middle Eastern countries whose travelers spend the most on travel In the latest research of Skift called “Outgoing trips of the countries of the Middle East in 2019”, a detailed overview of this market is provided. The report begins with an overview of the size of the market and the growth forecast of the region as a whole, as well as the characteristics of individual countries. The research then focuses on the key factors that study what drives international travel in the region and the consumer behavior trends that shape their travel-related preferences. Finally, some of the case studies of global tourism brands and destinations implementing strategic initiatives to conquer part of this market are covered. Average government spending per visit to the United Kingdom Consumption per outbound trip Average consumption per outbound trip Source / photo: Skift Looking at the largest consumers from that region at the country level, the dominance of the Middle East is again noticeable. The four GCC countries, which we wrote about earlier, also show very high spending per visit, as shown by VisitBritain data, with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia leading in spending. The average cost of outbound travel for residents of the three Middle Eastern countries is over $ 3.000. Research estimates Skift Research show that this is $ 1.100 more than the average consumption of American travelers. Due to the great wealth of the region, travel expenses of travelers from the Middle East are higher compared to other countries and regions. In 2017, average spending per outbound trip was $ 1.551, which is more than spending in the UK and Germany, two large outbound markets globally. Travelers of this lucrative market are happy to visit international destinations and are prone to long journeys. All in all, they have all the components that a target destination market should have worldwide. Certain destination marketing organizations have noted similar trends when visiting Middle Eastern travelers to their destinations. Data from the UK’s VisitBritain tourist board, for example, reveals that travelers from the Middle East in the UK spent an average of $ 2.040 per visit, compared to $ 1.579 for Asian travelers and $ 1.091 for North American travelers. Passengers from the three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries spent an average of more than $ 3.000 per outbound trip. By comparison, U.S. travelers spend an average of about $ 1.900 a year. Average consumption of the regions per visit to the United Kingdomlast_img read more

New York giant: Donald Trump interview

first_imgSource: Flickr/E Palen/Creative CommonsWhen comedy character Ali G lampooned a New York tycoon in April, he chose a developer. When fast-food giant McDonald’s wanted a star for its 2002 US advertising campaign, it chose the same developer. And the star of NBC’s new reality TV show? It’s him again.If you haven’t guessed yet, the man is Donald Trump – aka ‘The Donald’. As famous for his lifestyle as the Gucci interior design and success of his developments, Trump is in a different orbit to the rest of the transatlantic property industry. Love him or loathe him – and some do loathe him – Trump is by far the world’s best-known property man. As he says: ‘I’m as public as I could be.’Trump is the main operator in New York real estate, a world that is increasingly influencing British markets. New York is also the backdrop for the merger of Insignia Richard Ellis and CB Hillier Parker. And when the Big Apple’s office and retail markets recover, the UK’s will be six to nine months behind them.So where else would you interview the man himself than Manhattan? Property Week met him at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in late May. Despite a fearsome reputation in media circles – just ask former TV presenter Selina Scott (of which more later) – he is a relaxed and affable interviewee. And his commitment to getting things right becomes clear when he calls at home in London a week later to help fill in any gaps.Meeting Trump is an assault on the senses. The entrance to Trump Tower, his pride and joy, is a brass extravaganza and his face stares out from the dozens of magazine covers that adorn his 26th-floor office. Images of Trump in Time, Fortune and Playboy stare down from one wall, while the man himself sits fingering a foot-long pair of golden scissors, his back to fabulous views of Central Park.It’s no wonder Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Ali G) chose him in April as the ultimate American tycoon to whom he would pitch his ‘business concept’ of a glove to eat ice cream. But Trump is no mug and the prank backfired. ‘Ali G was fine but it was a total misrepresentation,’ he explains. ‘They called me and said it was for the British Broadcasting Corporation, that it was a very serious piece. I walked into a room, and this guy is sitting there and I felt sorry for him. As soon as he asked a couple of questions I knew it was a spoof and I left.’Not that Trump is camera-shy. In September, he starts filming The Apprentice, an NBC TV show in which 20 young candidates navigate a simulated corporate environment in Trump’s office before being eliminated one by one. The winner will land a $100,000-a-year job.‘It’s by the people who did Survivor,’ he says. ‘They wanted me to do it. I agreed to do it. I’m happy about it. NBC thinks it’s going to be their biggest show of the year. It’s a very exciting concept. It’s about the jungles of New York.’No one knows those jungles better than Trump. He owns 100% of the privately held Trump Organisation, which has developed millions of square feet of office, hotel and apartment space across Manhattan. Its 2002 overall revenues, including extensive gaming operations in Atlantic City, were £6.2bn (up from £5bn in 2001). It employs 22,000 people and Trump is chairman, president and chief executive.Having worked for his father’s residential development business in the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Trump made his name in the 1970s by piecing together complex sites and redeveloping them to lavish standards.The most successful of his recent commercial projects have been the purchase and reletting of the 2m sq ft (185,804 sq m) General Motors Building on Fifth and 59th Street and the rock-bottom acquisition and reletting of the 1.3m sq ft (120,773 sq m) 40 Wall Street. He is working on the £3bn, 100 acre (40.5 ha) redevelopment of Manhattan’s West Side Rail Yards, which will include 5,700 homes and 5m sq ft (464,511 sq m) of commercial space.Urban warriorTrump’s high profile in New York has made him passionate about city issues. Right now he is concerned about the smoking ban that has hammered business in bars and restaurants since its introduction by mayor Michael Bloomberg in March. ‘I’m not in favour of the smoking ban,’ he says. ‘I don’t smoke but it’s not a good thing. It’s making life too difficult for too many people.‘Smoking is a terrible thing, but it’s an addiction, and there are people who can’t live without it. If they can’t live without, it you’re making their lives miserable.’Another issue that gets Trump going is the emotionally charged redevelopment of the World Trade Center. Daniel Libeskind’s 10m sq ft (929,023 sq m) plans are popular with New Yorkers but Trump says they miss the point. ‘I don’t like the architecture of what was picked much, but the state, in their great genius, picked what they picked,’ he says.His views on Libeskind’s design are perhaps to be expected given Trump’s up-and-down relationship with architects. He says: ‘I have great respect – actually I can’t say “great” because I have so much to do with the design – but I do pay great homage to famous architects and well-known architects and talented architects.‘Philip Johnson is an architect I have used a lot; Norman Foster is a great architect; and then you have quirky architects who do things just for a splash and I’m not big fans of them generally. I think Frank Gehry is terrible as an architect.’His biggest concern with Libeskind’s World Trade Center is not the design but its ability to succeed in a business sense. ‘Is it viable?’ he asks. ‘It’s going to be a long-term project. It’s going to be a very, very long time out. First, you need a market, and you certainly don’t have a market for anything that big.‘If you have the really good locations, the office market is fine but it’s certainly not a strong market right now. The hotel market is terrible, because people don’t want to fly in aeroplanes. And who can blame them?’But he continues: ‘Skyscrapers in general are doing very well. The psychology is now back to … I can’t say totally normal, but back to a pretty good point. I built a very tall building on the East Side, and there was some resistance after September 11 but now there’s none whatsoever. People really want the high floors.’Trump knows what he’s talking about and is the ultimate hands-on developer. Younger brother Robert, vice-president Norma Foerderer, long-term ally Louise Sunshine and Insignia’s Dick Levy and Steve Siegel are trusted confidantes, but Trump makes the big decisions. ‘I’m totally involved with everything,’ he says. ‘The best thing I do is build. I know how to build. I learned that from my father by osmosis because I’d be a little guy watching him when he was building in Brooklyn and Queens.‘Whether it’s a building or a golf course or a boat, I build. And I build at a very high level – the highest level. I know how to build a project on budget, on schedule and for it to be the finest job.’His hands-on approach has no better illustration than in his dealings with contractors. ‘I buy every contract,’ he says. ‘I’ve developed over the years a sense of subcontractors. They are the keys. I know the good ones and the bad ones, the ones who will charge too much and the ones who want extras.’ Does he still phone them up himself and shout at them? ‘Oh yeah. I do it all the time. It’s part of my life.’And he won’t skimp. ‘I have to go top-of-the-line. If I weren’t involved it wouldn’t be the same product.’ Trump explains that the homes next to his Trump National golf course 30 minutes from Manhattan are built from stone instead of cheaper wood. ‘It’s totally unnecessary. I don’t believe I’ll get any more money from stone than I would if I used wood but I have to have that high quality for two reasons: first, the name Trump; second, it would hurt the golf course if I didn’t.’Among British developers, only Stanhope chief executive Sir Stuart Lipton pays this level of attention to detail on very large projects. And only Gerald Ronson, in the days when he erected ‘Heron’ signs on top of office buildings, comes close to the brand.One top British developer, who asked not to be named, says: ‘Trump is a salesman par excellence – that’s what Americans are wonderful at. They are very gullible and will rush for things if they are well marketed. That’s not to say he doesn’t produce very good buildings, but he’s got huge cheek, huge gall, he’s a huge gambler and a speculator. He’s brash, upfront and noisy, and there’s no stigma attached to that in the States.’Name checkTrump is also interested in almost any type of deal. Highly respected New York broker Siegel explains: ‘Donald is very smart and very quick. You don’t have to wait for any protracted discussions. He’s into opportunities: he didn’t buy his beauty pageants to be frivolous. People believe his name on a residential product. And there are people who just want to meet him in a negotiation.’Imagine that. Deals on a plate because you’re famous. While British developers such as John Ritblat, Elliott Bernerd and Ronson might welcome this, they would surely hate the limelight Trump enjoys.Trump says: ‘A lot of times the word gets out that Donald Trump is trying to buy a certain site because the owner wants to get value. I have [the attention] in England; I have it in Iowa. It’s a compliment, I guess, but I don’t like the way they do it.’He explains that the branding of Trump Tower happened by luck. ‘When I was building Trump Tower, I bought the air rights over [jewellery store] Tiffany, and one of the things I negotiated was the right to call the building Tiffany Tower.‘Then I went to a friend of mine who was very smart and I said: “Would you call the building Tiffany Tower or Trump Tower?” He said: “Would you change your name to Tiffany?” So I called it Trump Tower and it’s been a tremendous success.’So far the Trump brand has yet to make it on to British soil. He has avoided involvement in the British property market, wary of building offices in a market he doesn’t know. ‘I have great relationships with a lot of terrific people there,’ he says. ‘Mohammed Al-Fayed is a friend of mine and is a great guy but a lot of people don’t know that.’ A tie-up with Harrods then? ‘Well, I don’t know,’ he answers. ‘I have to be very careful. I’ve turned down at least 10 jobs over the last five years in England because I don’t want to get into a situation where it’s not the best.’But the prospect of a Trump project in Britain is growing. Labour’s long-term promise to deregulate gaming would open up a market about which Britons know little but where Trump would be in his element.Ronson is rumoured to have held talks about a joint venture with Trump’s great rival, Las Vegas Golden Nugget owner Steve Wynn. And Trump, without saying whether it is Westminster City Council, a landowner or an intermediary, says he has been invited to discuss the proposed redevelopment of the north side of Leicester Square in London’s West End.He says: ‘We have been approached on Leicester Square and yes, I’m interested in helping. I love Britain. It’s a special place. Something could happen there but I’d only do it if I had the right partner.‘I’d want something big, and I’d want something very glamorous. I’d be very surprised if I didn’t do anything in England. Maybe some kind of combination – a hotel with a casino …’Given that British Land, London & Regional and Paul Raymond are among the owners of the north side of Leicester Square, Trump may find it difficult to buy them out. But in a joint venture, or as a casino operator, who knows.Although wary of involvement, Trump is intrigued about the state of the London office market, and asks after Canary Wharf. Told that altogether there is a 20% vacancy rate, he responds: ‘That’s because of the location,’ he says. ‘It makes downtown Manhattan look real convenient. It was all gleaming and new to start with and now location has become an issue.’Public lifeTimes have not always been so good for Trump. In the early 1990s he was reckoned to be more than £500m in the red as he expanded too quickly into casinos, and he had to write down a string of assets.He had always had strong relationships with funders such as Manufacturers Hanover and Shearson Lehman (latterly Lehman Brothers) and Citicorp, but he had to call in his fair share of financial favours during the worldwide downturn.The Trump Organisation is private, so it will always be difficult to assess its profitability. But having refinanced in the early 1990s and bought a string of sites cheaply, there is little doubt that Trump is now a billionaire.‘I learned that I handle pressure better than anyone else,’ he says. ‘I mean Rupert Murdoch came out great but I came out better than anybody. I was big in the 1980s but now I’m five times bigger than I was in the 1980s.‘What I would say to anyone in trouble now is: hang in there and the market will come back. It may not be in our lifetime but that’s a minor detail.’And his every up and down has been tracked by the media spotlight.‘I’d love to have it 50:50 or even 25:75, the 25 being the limelight,’ he admits. ‘But you know it just doesn’t work that way in life. But it’s amazing; it’s been amazing. The good news is that I can get into any restaurant I want to very quickly.’As you might expect with such a well-known figure, there is also a dark side to his character. Trump admits that he will fight and fight for anything he thinks is right. As a result, he earned himself a bad name in New York in the early 1980s by moving tenants out of apartment blocks and ripping ornaments out of historic buildings.TV presenter Selina Scott has also fallen foul of New York’s property mogul. She ‘turned over’ Trump in a TV portrait, earning his condemnation and damaging her career in the process.‘Selina Scott is not a very talented person, I guess, now she’s gone, she’s off air,’ he says. ‘I was very nice to her and she was very nasty. But I got a lot nastier than she ever got in the end.’This is a side of Trump that is far from appealing. Indeed, the mention of his name provokes a hint of nervousness in anyone in New York. You get the sense that no one there would question his taste, but in such a judgemental and politically correct city is his taste in buildings and love of beautiful women not, well, kitsch?‘No,’ he answers. ‘According to the polls I’m the most popular person in New York, so what can I tell you? The richest people in the world buy my product, and that’s only because they like it.’And that sums up Trump. He is a 100%, unashamedly full-blown, copper-bottomed American star. Only The Donald could luxuriate in the United Jewish Appeal Federation’s honour ‘Hotel and Real Estate Visionary of the Century’.As a symbol and barometer of US real estate, Trump is the main man.But never forget that underneath all the showmanship, there is a very serious property man indeed.NYC’s biggest landlord says the time is right for UK REITsReal Estate Investment Trusts have been the envy of British property company chiefs for decades, and there are few bigger REITs than New York-based Vornado. Its chairman is Steve Roth, a 61-year-old who rarely gives interviews but who, as probably the biggest commercial landlord in New York, agreed to speak to Property Week. Operating from the 46th floor of a Seventh Avenue headquarters that affords magnificent views of the Hudson River, Roth’s organisation distributes all of its taxable income to shareholders. But the staff are well incentivised too: employees own up to a quarter of the shares and Roth and president Mike Fascitelli have come under fire in April for receiving $1m-plus bonuses on top of their salaries. But Roth – a friend of Stanhope chief executive Sir Stuart Lipton since they were in their twenties – insists REITs are the best structure of all, helping property investment companies to take a long-term view in building up their portfolios. This is partly because they do not pay Corporation Tax, an exemption the UK Treasury is considering in the hope that it will persuade more private and pension fund investors to invest in property vehicles. Roth, whose company owns 15m sq ft (1.4m sq m) in Manhattan within its £5.4bn of total assets and generates £875m last year in revenues, has no doubts about the long-term attractions of New York real estate. He says: ‘In 40 years in real estate I have never seen what is happening now, with the fundamentals of demand deteriorating, but the precipitous fall in interest rates forcing values up. ‘History has shown that if you have the financial wherewithal to get through tough times, well-located properties in New York, Washington DC and London always go up in value. If you had ever sold in the past you would have been a fool. Real estate will appreciate handsomely. My guess is that its value will double here in the next 10 years.’ While property company shares in the UK still languish at wide discounts to net asset value, REITs are trading at a premium to net asset value. Indeed, a bitter takeover battle in the US shopping centre sector has prompted one landlord, Simon, to offer $20 a share for another, Taubman, even though it initially offered $17.50 – and this will be a premium to NAV. Roth’s theory is that while Britain has seen the quoted sector halve in size as management and other bidders have been able to buy companies cheaply, creation of a REIT structure would end this type of activity. His argument is that property companies that became REITs would be more attractive to investors, allowing the sector to grow once again.Sign of the TimesNew York’s Times Square Business improvement district is often held up as a beacon for town centre management, but is it really such a success story? Partly, explains Times Square BID vice-president Ellen Goldstein: ‘We were the porno capital of the world.’ Now the porn cinemas have gone and Lehman Brothers and Ernst & Young have moved their world headquarters there. The Times Square BID’s £4.6m annual budget is paid for through a 0.03% levy on property owners’ annual tax bill in a system which Britain’s biggest property companies would like to see replicated here. In Times Square tenants do pay, but they tend to do so through their landlords, so that all involved with the 21.8m sq ft (2m sq m) of offices and 1.4m sq ft (130,063 sq m) of retail space in the area contribute to the BID. The cash is mainly spent on security, sanitation and marketing. Since September 11 the BID’s managers are conscious that Times Square could be a target for follow-up terrorist attacks. However, they now want to spend more money to ease some of the tensions over day-to-day management and tenant mix that have appeared in Times Square. Goldstein says: ‘Now that the tourists have gone, we need get New Yorkers. There are 200,000 office workers here now, and those people aren’t happy. We have an awkward mix of rather “upskill” office workers trying to get to their subway, screaming kids who want to see MTV stars and tourists ambling along, so congestion is an issue too.’ The BID also in talks about ‘twinning’ with London’s Piccadilly Circus Partnership, which includes Burford, Land Securities and British Land. The partnership’s chairman, Burford director Mark Boyes, says the BIDs can learn from each other, particularly as his is set to grow down Haymarket and to play a role in a revamp of Leicester Square.Libeskind’s light at the end of Ground Zero‘Of course it will work,’ snaps Daniel Libeskind when asked if the ‘wedge of light’ he is planning for the entrance to his redevelopment of Ground Zero will really be sunlight without shadow every September 11. This is the type of question the Polish-born architect is having to fend off a lot as the honeymoon period for his competition-winning design for a redevelopment of the World Trade Center comes to an end. Libeskind has also had to contend with the jibe that he adopted an over-sentimental approach in attempting to win support for his scheme from some critics, and even that he has sold out to the forces of the far right. But perhaps the most pertinent point about his 10m-12m sq ft (929,022-1.4m sq m) project is made by Donald Trump and Steve Roth (see REITs box, above), who raise concerns about the demand for the project. But Libeskind remains passionate about his scheme, which includes myriad features, such as its 1,776 sq ft (to commemorate the Year of American Independence) Freedom Tower. He tells Property Week: ‘The slurry wall [another feature, retaining the Pit within Ground Zero], the light and cultural activities flanking them all allow you to create an incredibly robust commercial project that shows the life of New York. ‘This will no longer just be a monolithic symbol. It will have a civic quality, and will be shaped by light and wind.’ Now that he has been selected by World Trade Center owners Silverstein Properties and the Port Authority of New York, Libeskind is haggling over the exact make-up of his project – and is expecting to make compromises. Silverstein wants five towers, Libeskind wants four; retail leaseholder Westfield wants to retain the layout of the shopping at the base of the scheme, Libeskind wants to restore an earlier street pattern. He says: ‘Someone once said to me, “You are successful in making everyone equally unhappy,” but I don’t see contradictions in the process we are going through. Westfield are used to what they had but I don’t think we are irreconcilable.’ Libeskind is on the verge of moving to Lower Manhattan and is expecting to submit his scheme for planning in September, with state politicians keen to see the Freedom Tower finished by 2008. Having designed museums in Berlin and Manchester, Libeskind is also working on a shopping centre in Switzerland, and says he now prefers the discipline enforced by commercial schemes. In the next five years, he will find that commercial approach enforced in full.Trump’s working dayDonald Trump lives in a three-storey apartment in Trump Tower, with onyx walls, mirrored columns and faux classical Greek murals on the ceilings.He gets up at 5am to read the papers, and goes ‘downstairs’ to his 26th floor office at 7am. Most of the morning is spent on the phone working on deals or inspecting building sites.Trump is hassled by people who claim he is interested in buying their sites when he is not, to inflate their values: ‘I have it in England. I had it over a ranch last week in Iowa. You know, Iowa?’He says he is more conservative in his dealmaking than in the 1980s, but that ‘you can never change your stripes totally. I had a lot of friends who went bankrupt in the last real estate bust and you’ll never hear from them again. I mean, they’re gone.’Lunch is spent out in Manhattan or a business lunch in the office. The afternoon is just ‘deals, conversations’.Trump will never take his main Trump Organisation public and as such has less to do with Wall Street than most property men. He says he likes to save money on filings and not to have to depreciate the value of his properties in company accounts.Foreign travel is limited and Trump is relieved that he never followed through a plan to develop in Germany, although he says he will one day.He finishes work at 6pm and an ideal evening is spent out quietly with supermodel girlfriend Melania Knauss or seeing his children. However, around half his evenings are spent on business meetings.The ups and downs of Donald Trump1946 Trump is born in 1946 to Brooklyn developer father Frank and mother Mary MacLeod, originally from the Hebrides 1960s Trump goes to New York Military Academy and Wharton School of Finance, while visiting sites with his father during his teens 1970s Moves to Manhattan in 1971 and in the mid-1970s negotiates the development of railway yards for the Jacob Javits Convention Centre 1970s Trump spends late 1970s and early 1980s piecing together site for and developing Trump Tower 1980s Onwards and upwards through the 1980s as he moves into Atlantic City with huge casino operation culminating in 2000’s opening of Taj Mahal 1987 Publishes The Art of the Deal, three million-selling guide on to how to make money in the US in the 1980s 1990 At the turn of the decade Trump hits trouble: wife Ivana files for divorce after he falls for former Miss Georgia Peach Marla Maples 1991 Trump is estimated to have net debts of $1bn as overexpansion and falling values take their toll. Forced to sell Trump Princessyacht 1992 Persuades banks to double or quit by backing him further, and emerges from the doldrums with The Art of the Comeback as values rise and the US enters its biggest-ever boom 1998 Buys the General Motors Building in May 1998 and leases it fully 1998 Buys and relets 40 Wall Street 2000 Expands out of New York and Atlantic City with projects in Chicago, California and Las Vegas 2002 New York-based Lockwood Publications launches Trump World, a magazine dedicated to everything that sums up the Trump brandlast_img read more

Mobility restrictions may disrupt food distribution to some regions

first_imgThe government is distributing food aid to 20 million poor households across the country to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. But large-scale social restrictions may jeopardize the humanitarian effort.Poor households in regions with insecure food supply chains might not be able to use the Rp 200,000 (US$12.3) in monthly aid to buy eggs, chicken or rice, as logistics might be disrupted because of road closures in some regions, according to the Institute of Development for Economics and Finance (Indef).“The distribution chain could be disrupted,” Indef researcher Dhenny Yuartha Junifta told reporters in an online discussion on Wednesday. “It will be a problem if there is panic in the eastern part of Indonesia. What will happen to supplies and where will they come from?” Some regions of Papua and West Papua have scored between 41.52 and 59.58 on the 2018 food security index, which measures the availability and accessibility of food.The index, compiled by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) and the Agriculture Ministry’s Food Security Agency, considers regions with scores below 59.58 to be food-insecure, because the availability of healthy food there is limited.Some households eligible for the staple food assistance, whose monthly spending on food ranges from Rp 200,000 to Rp 400,000, live in regions categorized as insecure.The fast-spreading coronavirus has reached at least 32 provinces, including food-insecure regions. As of Wednesday, 2,956 people across the country have contracted the virus, and 240 of them have died of the disease, while 222 people have recovered. Jakarta, the national epicenter of the outbreak, has introduced large-scale restrictions to minimize the risk of contagion such as by suspending the activities of school and offices and banning religious events and other public activities.Some regions, including Tegal in Central Java, Bandung in West Java and Balikpapan in East Kalimantan, are closing roads to limit the movement of people.“This should be the government’s concern: the allocation and distribution of food assistance to meet public needs amid the pandemic and, especially, during Ramadan and Idul Fitri,” said Dhenny, who leads Indef’s research on food issues.At the beginning of April, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had asked the home minister to clear the way for staple food deliveries especially in the days leading up to the Islamic holy month, set to start on April 23.The President has also asked the agriculture minister to ensure supplies of staple food for Ramadan.According to Agriculture Ministry estimates, the country’s staple food production between March and May will exceed consumption. Rice supply, for example, was estimated to exceed demand by 8.3 million tons at the end of May. With average monthly consumption at 2.5 million tons, the surplus alone was expected to last through August.“But if the outbreak last beyond August, there might be a problem,” said Dhenny.Procuring rice from overseas might prove difficult, partly because Vietnam, a major rice exporter in Southeast Asia, was limiting rice export volumes to secure domestic supplies amid the pandemic.The government, therefore, should exempt farmers from the large-scale social restrictions to let them continue the production of staple food this harvest season, said Indef senior researcher Bustanul Arifin.“I think they should be allowed to harvest, as long as they comply with the protocol, such as wearing masks and keeping a distance from their partners,” Bustanul said during the same online talk on Wednesday.Topics :last_img read more

Russia quits UN system aimed at protecting hospitals, aid in Syria

first_imgIn a note to aid groups, seen by Reuters, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed Russia’s withdrawal.”The United Nations is concerned about the withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the notification mechanism and is examining the implications of this decision for humanitarian personnel and operations in Syria,” the UN note said.The United Nations said in the note that it would discuss the situation further with Russia. It also said all parties – whether they participated in the deconfliction arrangement or not – were still bound by international humanitarian law.”If Russia thinks this will help them escape accountability for war crimes, they’re dead wrong,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director for Human Rights Watch. “We and other groups will continue to investigate and document the deliberate bombings of hospitals and other grave crimes in Syria.” Topics : “We do not see withdrawal as a threat to the humanitarian workers on the ground if information provided is accurate and trustworthy,” Nebenzia told Reuters.Russia has provided military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war, which erupted after Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in 2011.Russia and Syria have said their forces are not targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure and have long-questioned the sources used by the United Nations to verify attacks.Under the UN deconfliction arrangement, the locations of UN supported facilities and other humanitarian sites like hospitals and health centers had been shared with the warring parties in a bid to protect them. However, the United Nations has questioned whether it made them a target. Russia said on Thursday it has quit a voluntary United Nations arrangement that aimed to protect hospitals and humanitarian aid deliveries in Syria from being hit by the warring parties.Russia made the decision following an internal UN inquiry in April found it was “highly probable” the Syrian government or its allies carried out attacks on three healthcare facilities, a school and a refuge for children in northwest Syria last year.Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused “various ‘opposition groups’ and terrorists through their proxies” of abusing the humanitarian deconfliction process. Russia believed the United Nations should give any relevant information to Syrian authorities, he said.last_img read more

Pan Brothers eyes exporting PPE in September

first_imgGarment manufacturer PT Pan Brothers is eyeing an opportunity to export its personal protective equipment (PPE) to regions such as the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa following the issuance of permits by the government.Vice president director Anne Patricia Sutanto said on Wednesday the company was planning to export the PPE to several countries in those regions including the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Singapore and South Africa.“We expect to start the exports in September as we’ve already received permission to export the PPE from the government,” she said during a virtual press briefing. She went on to say that the publicly listed company currently produced about 3 million to 5 million items of PPE per annum but it could increase the production to its maximum capacity of 10 million PPE items.The Trade Ministry in June lifted an export ban on PPE amid an oversupply in national production and allowed manufacturers to export surgical masks, N-95 masks, coveralls, surgical gowns and raw materials to make face masks.Read also: Govt revokes export ban on PPE amid oversupplyTrade Minister Agus Suparmanto expected the decision could spur national economic growth, particularly for manufacturing, and improve Indonesia’s export performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Editor’s note: This article has been revised to state that Pan Brothers booked $326.21 million of sales during this year’s first half.Topics :center_img Other than expanding PPE sales overseas, Anne said the company was also planning to expand its partnerships with existing clients.“Currently, we only supply performance wear for our client, Adidas. Going forward, we aim to also supply garments for lifestyle wear so that we can provide a complete supply chain solution for them,” she said.The company plans to expand its production capacity to 130 million garment pieces annually by 2021 from the current 117 million through automation and digitalization in all of its factories spread across the country. It expects that these efforts will increase output and maintain consistent quality for its products.The company has allocated US$10 million to $15 million of funding this year to support the expansion plan.“The funds will be used to upgrade our machinery, as well as to fund our automation and digitalization efforts in all of our factories,” said Anne.Despite experiencing flat growth in garment demand from its global brand clients, which contribute around 90 percent of its sales, Pan Brothers still managed to book double-digit growth in its top line in the first half of this year.Read also: Local PPE producers pass international standards, gear up for exportThe company booked $326.21 million of sales during this year’s January-June period, 14.54 percent higher compared with the same period in 2019. Anne attributed the growth to the rising sales of PPE and face masks, which contributed around 10 percent of its total sales during the period.The company’s net profits jumped by 42.55 percent year-on-year (yoy) to $12.08 million in the first half of this year.“We expect our sales to grow by 15 percent this year supported by PPE and face mask sales,” Anne said, expecting the gross profit and operating profit to expand by 13.6 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively, this year.Pan Brothers’ shares, trading on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) under the code PBRX, has lost 50.98 percent of its value since the beginning of the year. The company’s share price stood at Rp 250 apiece, unchanged on the day, on Thursday.last_img read more

Dutch insurer Vivat to focus solely on pensions

first_imgIn the fast-growing premium pension institution (PPI) market, an individual defined contribution vehicle for company pensions, Zwitserleven is in fifth place in terms of premium income, and in sixth in terms of assets under management currently.New clients shun DBVivat also announced it is introducing pension fund buyouts as a third “focus area”, in addition to its traditional focus on providing pension products for the accumulation and decumulation phases.In practice, this would take the form of a closed pension fund handing over its pension liabilities to Vivat, a spokesperson said.In recent years, Vivat has seen most of its growth in its PPI products. Assets under management have doubled each year since it was launched in 2013. The PPI platform currently has €581m in assets under management, while the total PPI market amounts to €12.1bn (end of 2019).Though the future of defined benefit (DB) arrangements is in doubt because of the low interest rate environment, Zwitserleven said some clients continue to prefer this option.“Some companies want to keep their DB arrangement and extend their contracts. We hardly see any new DB clients though,” the spokesperson said.Customer satisfactionThough Vivat announced it will cut costs by 30% within three years, it also vowed to “invest in our people, products and IT infrastructure to improve the customer experience”.In this regard, the company specifically aims to improve its ‘net promoter score’, a Vivat spokesperson told IPE. This is a metric to measure customer loyalty and the likelihood of customers recommending a company’s product.Life insurance companies like Vivat tend to score low on this, the spokesperson said. “Vivat’s score was -20 in 2019 and we are striving to reach a positive score over the next few years which should translate in higher growth.”To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here. Dutch insurance company Vivat “will focus on becoming the number one pension provider in the Netherlands”, according to its newly revealed strategy. The company is planning to grow its business under its pension brand Zwitserleven.Vivat, which was recently acquired by Bermuda-headquartered insurance firm Athora from the Chinese Anbang Group after having sold its non-life activities to NN Group, wants to become the biggest private pension provider in the Netherlands in terms of premium income.It did not, however, say when it expects to realise this ambition.Vivat’s pension brand Zwitserleven occupies second place in the Dutch pension insurance market behind Aegon.last_img read more

Truck driver lands in jail over road crash

first_imgYanson, who tried to resist arrest, wasdetained in the lockup facility of the Jaro police station, facing charges./PN The 32-year-old Eric Yanson of BarangayBalacuan, Dao, Capiz was believed to be drunk, police said.  The multi-cab he hit was driven by ArnelPinggoy of Leganes, Iloilo – who was unhurt, the police added. Pinggoy The incident happened around 8:55 p.m.on Oct. 11, a police report showed. ILOILO City – Police arrested a manafter his driven truck hit a multi-cab in Barangay Camalig, Jaro district. last_img

Verna Gail (Meyer) Booth

first_img     She was preceded in death by her Father, Louis W. Meyer, Mother, Jennie Gilmore Meyer, Husband, Davis Booth, Sons, Lonnie Lee Booth, and Patrick W. Booth, Siblings, Harold Meyer and Mabel Marie Meyer Miller.     Verna Gail is survived by her loving Grandson, Patrick C. Booth (Susan Coriell) of Aurora, IN; Great-grandchildren, Patrick C. Booth II (Sara), Christopher A. Booth, and Cassidy R. Booth; Great Great-grandchildren, Shelby D. Booth and Patrick C. Booth III. Also trusted caretaker and family friend Marcia Adams,      Services will be held at the Funeral Home, at 2:00 pm, following visitation, with Pastor Mike Addison, officiating.      She was born August 1, 1922 in Aurora, daughter of the late Louis W. Meyer and Jennie (Gilmore) Meyer. Verna Gail (Meyer) Booth 95, of Moores Hill, Indiana, passed away Friday, June 22, 2018 in Lawrenceburg, IN       She was a life member of Holman Christian Union Church. Verna Gail was very active in her church. Her faith was very important to her and she lived out her faith by helping others. She taught Sunday School for several years and was always busy helping out whenever she could lend a hand. Verna Gail was a volunteer “Pink-Lady” at DCH Auxiliary for 30 years, she also volunteered with the Lifeline Program for DCH for many years and helped with numerous fund raisers for the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. Her legacy will live on in the many lives she has touched throughout her many years of service. She will be greatly missed by her loving family, many friends and church family.center_img      Interment will follow in the Mt. Sinai Cemetery, Moores Hill, Indiana.      Contributions may be made to the Holman Christian Union Church, American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society. If unable to attend services, please call the funeral home office at (812) 926-1450 and we will notify the family of your donation with a card.      Friends will be received Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm at the Rullman Hunger Funeral Home, 219 Mechanic Street, Aurora, Indiana.  Visit: www.rullmans.comlast_img read more

Florida Changes Reporting of ICU Beds Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

first_imgWith the recent increase in coronavirus cases in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis is changing the way hospitals report the status of intensive care unit beds they have available.Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees does not want hospitals to report the number of patients in intensive care unit beds, but instead only those who are receiving an “intensive level of care.” That change could undercount the number of ICU coronavirus patients.Rivkees notes that some hospitals have COVID-19 wards within intensive care units and are therefore reporting all of their coronavirus patients as ICU patients, although they may not all need the same level of care.In addition, DeSantis says resuming elective surgeries has reduced the number of ICU beds available.last_img

Solochek: Spring training fun for no one

first_imgWhen pitchers and catchers begin to report this week, to many, it is a sign of good things to come.Reporting day means it is almost time for baseball season to begin. It means spring is almost here and, for those of us who are still in school, it means we can see the light at the end of the tunnel as summer break approaches.However, each year, we are always disappointed come spring training.We’re in that void between the end of the professional football season and the beginning of March Madness. This time in sports can be less exciting than actually doing homework on a Sunday, instead of watching almost eight straight hours of football.The day pitchers and catchers report could be one of the most overrated days in sports. It’s like a freshman hearing about the riots happening in Madison during Halloween only to find out you have to pay to get onto a street you walk down every day.Getting excited for pitchers and catchers reporting and spring training is like getting excited for the NFL Combine or Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament. You go in with such high expectations only to be let down by reporters overanalyzing a player’s performance or over-speculating how a team is going to do the following season.Spring training means watching the guys who you know are going to start get about three at bats a week until the final days before the season. It means watching guys who will disappear into the minor leagues hit triples, then never hear from them and hearing the same reports on “Baseball Tonight” again and again.This year will be no different than years past. Every year, the same storylines are repeated on a daily basis to the point of nausea. This spring, there is no doubt all eyes will be on Yankees’ spring training. With almost half a billion dollars invested in three players and Alex Rodriguez going from A-Rod to A-Roid topping headlines, we can count on hearing hourly reports from the Grapefruit League on the status of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett.Of course, news of steroid scandal is also nothing new to spring training. In the past, we have been used to daily reports by Pedro Gomez covering Barry Bonds and how he deals with allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs.After Rodriguez’s admission to using steroids, there have already been daily broadcasts from the Yankees’ spring home in Tampa, Fla. Shortstop Derek Jeter has already deferred to talking to the media after practices have started, trying to avoid the daily onslaught of press and attention.But, of course, the focus won’t solely be on the Bronx Bombers. The attempt to sign Manny Ramirez by the Los Angles Dodgers has been futile due to the left fielder hold out for money and the organization not willing to pay top dollar for the 36-year-old. Things are sure to be resolved in the coming weeks, especially because both Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu signed, which will certainly lead to more pressure being put on the Dodgers to sign Ramirez.While spring training does have its perks, namely going to cheap games and watching baseball from a lawn on a beautiful Florida or Arizona spring day, only those who can afford such pleasures can benefit from the enjoyment of spring training. For the rest of us, we are usually stuck in the cold, watching athletes who earn more than we can imagine enjoy the southern sun.With the Yankees and Ramirez sure to be the hot topics of spring training, other subjects are sure to come up. But, as we watch highlights from games in late February and early March, there will really be nothing to get excited about until opening day in the first week of April.Once the season actually starts, attention will surely switch to the NFL Draft, which is almost equally overrated as spring training.Ben Solochek is a senior majoring in history and journalism. Hate spring training, too? E-mail him at bsolochek@badgerherald.com.last_img read more