SYDNEY, May 5 (Reuters) – The Australian government has scrapped plans to accelerate tax cuts for the rich, Australian newspapers reported on Wednesday, as the country’s economy recovered faster than anticipated from the downturn caused by the pandemic.
The government has ruled out including a tax cut for high earners in the federal budget next week, the paper said, citing unnamed sources.
It would instead extend tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners for another year, the report said, with tax breaks for the rich due in 2024.
A Ministry of Finance spokesman declined to comment. The government is scheduled to announce its annual budget on May 11.
Australia pledged A $ 17.8 billion ($ 13.73 billion) in personal tax cuts in last year’s budget as part of a coronavirus recovery plan to create one million new jobs over the next four years.
However, the A $ 2 trillion domestic economy, which last year slipped into recession due to the COVID-19 lockdown, is now on a faster recovery path as the low number of cases in recent months has led to less restrictions.
Unemployment fell to a one-year low in March and the number of people in employment surpassed pre-pandemic peaks, official data show.
$ 1 = 1.2967 Australian dollars Report by Renju Jose; edited by Jane Wardell
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – World Trade Organization members on Wednesday will assess signs of progress in talks on proposals by South Africa and India to waive patents on a COVID-19 vaccine to increase supplies to developing countries.
They want to relax the rules of the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement. WTO decisions are based on consensus, so 164 members must agree.
Ten meetings in seven months have failed to produce a breakthrough, with 60 proposals from developing countries, supported by a chorus of campaign groups, Nobel laureates and former world leaders, pitted against richer developed countries, such as Switzerland, the United States and in the European Union, where many pharmaceutical companies are based.
WHERE’S TALKING NOW?
After the 10th round of talks on April 30, proponents of the waiver proposal said they would revise their text from October during the next TRIPS board meeting in the second half of May before further discussions on June 8-9.
The new text may be more limited than the current proposal.
Norwegian Ambassador Dagfinn Sorli, chairman of the board that will brief the WTO General Council on Wednesday, expressed “cautious optimism”.
World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke on Monday about “encouraging progress”, but said the process needed to be completed as quickly as possible. The WHO said in April that of the 700 million vaccines given globally, only 0.2% were in low-income countries.
The India / South Africa proposal in October said property rights such as patents, industrial designs, copyrights and protection of withheld information prevented timely access to affordable vaccines and medicines essential to fighting COVID-19.
They said waivers should last indefinitely, with annual reviews until they end, and called for the seamless sharing of global technology and knowledge.
They say there is no way a repeat of the early years of the HIV / AIDS pandemic, when lack of access to life-saving medicines claimed at least 11 million lives in Africa.
The head of the WHO and 375 civil society and campaign groups such as Doctors Without Borders supported the proposal and former leaders from Britain Gordon Brown to Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union have co-written to US President Joe Biden urging him to support it.
The major drug companies are against patent exemptions, as are the UK, Switzerland and the United States. The main Western producers are Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and together with Pfizer and BioNTech.
They say vaccine development is unpredictable and expensive and that strong IP protection helps provide incentives for vaccine development in a short period of time and will do so again in an effort to tackle new variants or future pandemics.
Proponents argue that part of the money is public funds.
Big Pharma also said that vaccine manufacturing was difficult – look at the production problems facing non-specialist AstraZeneca – so simply suspending patents would not result in more opportunities.
Complex vaccines require deep cooperation between the developer and the manufacturer. Any failure to get it right could undermine public confidence in the safety of the vaccine, they said.
They also pointed to more than 260 existing partnership agreements for production and distribution and commented that, under the existing TRIPS agreement, the government can allow production to make patented products without the consent of the patent owner. Developing countries had such “compulsory licenses” to keep prices down on HIV / AIDS drugs from 2002 to 2007.
However the situation is changing. In Brazil, the only developing country to oppose the waiver, the Senate has passed legislation to suspend patents for the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s been quieter at the WTO since April.
The White House said last week it was considering options to maximize global vaccine supplies, including supporting abandonment.
THE THIRD WAY
WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has suggested a “third way” as a compromise, putting in place global action to improve vaccine access after meetings with producers, governments and others.
He urged vaccine makers to increase technology transfer to bring in new production capacities and be transparent about contracts and pricing.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said at the same meeting that extraordinary times require courage and sacrifice from governments and leaders – but also from industry. On Tuesday, he said economic recovery hinged on tackling global vaccine injustices.
Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Edited by Angus MacSwan
While Germany has vaccinated only about 8% of its population with two doses of the vaccine, about 28% have had the first injection.
After the vaccination program starts slowly, Germany picks up speed with over a million injections given in a single day last week.
It’s too early for everything to be safe
Speaking to German broadcaster ZDF, Reinhardt said that while overvaccination “is still too low to be clear,” it is “showing an effect.”
“We have had a decrease in the number of incidents for a week now,” said Reinhardt. “I believe this trend will continue.”
While herd immunity is only achieved when about 70% of the population has antibodies, Reinhardt said that transmission decreases as vaccination increases.
The example from Israel, he said, shows that since 20% of the population is vaccinated, “the incidence is dropping rapidly and steadily, to almost zero.”
“We will also experience this. We will continue to be diligent about vaccinating, in all possible places; company doctors, general practitioners, specialist doctors, immunization centers, private practices, “he said.
‘A little hope’ maybe
Reinhardt said he believes it is “very appropriate” to say that Germany is at “long-term home” when it returns to normal, thanks to a vaccination campaign. “It should give people a little hope,” he added.
The chief medical officer also appealed to teenagers and young adults, most of whom had not been vaccinated, to get the injection when it was their turn.
While this is not a priority group, Reinhardt said, it is “reasonable enough” and “reasonable” to vaccinate such mobile groups to reduce the spread more effectively.
According to the German Robert Koch Institute of Infectious Diseases, the number of new diseases daily cases decreased in Germany over the past week. The disease has so far killed 83,591 people in the country, for a total of 3,433,516 cases.
Accountant Mike McHenry and his family moved from Geelong, south of Melbourne, to the Gold Coast last December.
He said the coronavirus lockdown played a role in their decision.
“To me it shows you can work from home,” he said.
“For months we all had to work from home and work really smoothly, so that was really the catalyst.”
He said his family was happy with the move.
“The outdoor life is great, the weather is fantastic, conducive to anything … there’s nothing you can’t do, absolutely nothing you can’t do here, just unbelievable,” said McHenry.
The pandemic limits international movement
For plastic surgeon Carly Fox, the coronavirus pandemic is disrupting his plans to move to London to practice in microsurgery.
“As July 2020 approached, it became clear that I would not be successful there, both because of immigration regulations outside Australia, but also because London was not a very good place to be in most of the last most of the year,” he said.
“So I had to cancel the fellowship I had been planning for a long time.”
Dr Fox said he found another job in Australia, so his professional education was not affected, but he would miss the trip.
“A big part of the reason why we went abroad for fellowship was so that you could stay in Europe, and we put our lives on hold for so long through surgical training that it really was a carrot at the end of the training,” he said.
“So it’s been postponed [travel], but it’s also suspended for everyone in Australia, so I don’t consider myself too unlucky. “
Internal migration is only one factor
Mr Howe said internal migration is one of the three components of population change.
“Another component is overseas migration, which is currently very minimal, but there is also a reasonable increase, the number of births minus the number of deaths, which obviously changes the population as well.”
ABS internal migration estimates are based on Medicare address data.
The next national census on August 10 will carefully evaluate the trend of the movement.
“It’s always an exciting time for the geek population around census time,” Howe said.
(Reuters) -Goldman Sachs Group Inc asked US-based employees to return to office jobs in mid-June and in the UK to return in mid-July, according to a memo seen by Reuters.
“We know from experience that our culture of collaboration, innovation and internships thrives when our people get together,” Goldman Chief Executive David Solomon wrote in the memo, which was verified by a bank spokesman.
The New York-based investment bank has nearly 40,000 employees worldwide. The push to return to office gained momentum in March when Solomon said the bank had an obligation to its 5,400 interns, analysts and associates to have most of its employees work with one another directly.
Wells Fargo & Co said in March it would begin bringing workers back to its offices after Labor Day, while JPMorgan Chase & Co said last week it was targeting a rotational return of workers to offices starting in July.
Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Edited by Lisa Shumaker