Tag Archives: Government Agency

Brazil’s free market agenda is in doubt as the president hopes for re-election | Instant News


SÃO PAULO – Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, who just two years ago pledged to lead a free-market revolution in Latin America’s largest country, is increasingly finding himself relegated to breaking control as President Jair Bolsonaro deepens the role of the state in the economy.

Guedes’ mission to lower public debt and build investor confidence in Brazil took a hit after the country’s far-right leader on Friday nominated a new head of the country’s oil company.

Brazilian Oil

SA, or Petrobras, spurred investor flight this week from the nation’s equities and currencies.

With a focus on re-election next year, Mr Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has publicly said he knows nothing about the economy, nominated a military man to the helm of the company after the current chief executive refused to lower fuel prices.

Petrobras said Tuesday it will schedule meeting to assess presidential nominations of a new CEO.

“It is now clear that the president himself is not as committed to a liberal economic agenda as the public once thought, even though his finance minister does,” said Bernard Appy, former secretary of economics at the ministry.

The Petrobras Refinery in Rio de Janeiro; the company said it would meet to assess President Jair Bolsonaro’s candidacy as new CEO.


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Andre Coelho / Bloomberg News

Guedes, a 71-year-old investment banker who only entered politics in 2019 when Bolsonaro took office, has remained silent since the president on Friday night appointed General Joaquim Silva e Luna as CEO of Petrobras. Mr Bolsonaro and Mr Guedes declined requests on Wednesday for comment.

A person close to the minister said the economist who graduated from the University of Chicago had no intention of leaving Bolsonaro.

The minister knows that his exit will only scare investors even more, and he still believes he will have the opportunity to undertake a series of reforms to improve Brazil’s business environment, such as simplifying the country’s Byzantine tax system and introducing new rules to curb government spending, said a familiar person. with ministerial thoughts.

“Of course he is not happy with what happened [at Petrobras], “Said the man, adding that the minister felt less responsible for oil producers than other areas of the economy because it was under the scope of the ministry of mining and energy.

Brazil’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, an admiral in the Navy, said in an interview that the government was simply seeking greater stability in fuel prices, denying that it would intervene or force Petrobras to pay subsidies.

“It is the president’s prerogative as controlling shareholder to appoint whoever he wants,” he said, adding that the government was studying ways to avoid sharp swings in fuel prices, including creating funds that could be announced in two months.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in October, Guedes described how he had long planned to venture into politics, his hopes were high for what he could achieve.

Co-founder of Latin America’s largest investment bank, BTG Pactual, Guedes says he has been inspired by the likes of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to reduce the size of Brazil’s swelling government.

“We will give up market power,” said Guedes, defending the president.

“Bolsonaro really wants to change the country,” he said. He explained that he sees Bolsonaro’s government as an alliance of liberal and conservative economies and is the country’s best bet to decide the way of the two left-spending presidents who have preceded Bolsonaro.

The support of Mr Guedes during Mr Bolsonaro’s election campaign was critical to getting votes from centrists and business leaders, sealing a conservative victory.

But the others saw Mr. promise. Guedes as unrealistic and naive, shows the mentality of a business leader who has never worked with politicians before.

“He created expectations of a liberal revolution that he never had the means to carry out,” Luiz Carlos Mendonça de Barros, former head of Brazil’s state bank BNDES, told the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. We watched and laughed, anyone who has experienced the boundaries of politics knows what I mean.

Mr. Government. Bolsonaro is off to a good start in the eyes of investors. In its first year in office, the country went through a long-awaited overhaul to downplay Brazil’s generous pension system, which is estimated to have saved public accounts an estimated $ 200 billion over a decade.

The president filled his government with market-friendly figures, appointing another Chicago alumni, Roberto Castello Branco, as chief executive of Petrobras. Meanwhile, Guedes set his sights on the privatization of hundreds of state-owned companies, from banks and power companies to the state postal service.

Slow progress. Then the pandemic hit.

Covid-19 has hit Brazil, killed a quarter of a million people, and sparked widespread criticism of Mr crisis management. Bolsonaro. Faced with growing demands from political opponents for his impeachment, the great leader returned to the populist movement to please his political base – a strategy analysts say marked his nearly three decades as a congressman.

If successful, Bolsonaro will ensure his short-term political viability and increase his chances of being re-elected in next year’s presidential election, political scientists say.

Bolsonaro issued a presidential decree to loosen gun ownership rules with a nod to his conservatives, while supporting a program of generous payments for the poor. Mr Guedes, seeking to safeguard the country’s fiscal health, has suggested paying less than $ 40 a month per person; the government has tripled that figure.

After spending as much as $ 10 billion a month on payments during last year’s pandemic, the country is preparing to resume payments in the coming weeks. Brazil released figures on Wednesday showing its public debt hit a record in January, rising to an estimated $ 930 billion.

But many investors see Bolsonaro’s nomination of Petrobras as the boldest move, contradicting his administration’s promise to reduce the size of the country in the economy and the president’s own promise to let the country’s oil companies set prices according to international markets. .

On Monday, on the first full trading day following Mr Bolsonaro’s candidacy for General Silva e Luna, investors fled Petrobras, wiping out about $ 13 billion from the company’s market value, the second biggest daily loss for the company since the 1990s.

The candidacy followed a dispute between Bpk. Bolsonaro and the current CEO of Petrobras are concerned about rising fuel prices, fueling concerns that the president intends to force companies to fund fuel subsidies in the country again – policies that cost around $ 30 billion between 2011 and 2016 under leftist administration.

While oil producer stocks have recovered since then, economists say it will take a long time to repair the damage to the reputation of companies and countries.

“Who is a Brazilian or foreign investor who wants to buy Petrobras shares?” said Maílson da Nóbrega, a Brazilian economist and former finance minister who praised Guedes for his optimism. “I thought [Mr. Guedes] hopes that he can push for reforms and leave his legacy, but it is becoming increasingly difficult. “

Write to Luciana Magalhaes and [email protected] and Samantha Pearson at [email protected]

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US Report Allows Russia’s Pipeline Project to Continue, for Now | Instant News


The State Department in a report to Congress did not identify the new company as a target for sanctions related to a $ 11 billion pipeline designed to deliver Russian natural gas to Germany, allowing pipeline work to continue for now.

Some Republican lawmakers have criticized the State Department for the Nord Stream 2 report, which is required by Congress, and both Republicans and a key Democrat are asking for an explanation of government positions.

The Trump administration, urged by Congress, signed legislation in 2019 and 2020 that stopped construction of the pipeline for more than a year until resumption earlier this month. The Biden administration called the project a “bad deal,” but Nord Stream 2 is forming a pressure point between the new government and the bipartisan Congressional coalition that has attacked the project.

The report is expected to provide list of companies involved in pipeline construction and therefore subject to US sanctions. In contrast, the State Department named two entities previously sanctioned by the Trump administration – the main pipeline laying vessel and its owner – along with 18 companies, mostly insurers, that had either left or left the project.

Failure to set new targets for sanctions allows work to continue while also allowing time for administration discussions with Germany about the project and to formulate its own policies on the pipeline.

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The Australian Prime Minister urged Facebook to lift the news blockade | Instant News


CANBERRA, Australia – The Australian Prime Minister on Friday urged Facebook to lift the blockade of Australian users and return to the negotiating table with news publishing businesses, warning that other countries will follow their government’s example in getting the digital giant to pay for journalism.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Facebook’s move on Thursday to prevent Australians from accessing and sharing news as a threat.

The blockade has raised disputes with the government over whether powerful tech companies should pay news organizations for content.

“The idea of ​​shutting down the kind of site they did yesterday was a kind of threat – I know how Australians are reacting to it and I don’t think it’s a good move on their part,” Morrison told reporters.

“They have to move quickly past that, get back to the table and we will finish it,” he added.

There is public outrage about how Facebook is
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The blockade was imprudent, cutting off access – at least temporarily – to the pandemic, public health and emergency services.

Newspaper headlines included: “No likes for non-social networks”, and “Face lock”.

An article about how fake news will replace credible journalism on the Australian feed carries the headline: “The ‘fake book’ shows that it only matters profit, not people.”

Several non-Australian outlets also appeared affected, with posts disappearing from the UK’s Daily Telegraph and Sky News Facebook pages. The two share names with news outlets in Australia.

The blockade was a response to the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening passing a bill that would see Facebook and Google pay Australian media companies fair compensation for journalism linked by the platform. A law must be passed by the Senate to become law.

Alphabet
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Google has responded promptly to work on content licensing deals with major Australian media companies under its own News Showcase model.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
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has announced a broad agreement with Google covering operations in the United States and United Kingdom as well as Australia. Australia’s premier media organization, Seven West Media
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also reached an agreement earlier in the week. Rival Nine Entertainment
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reportedly approaching the pact itself, and the Australian Broadcasting Corp. state property is negotiating.

Morrison said he discussed Facebook’s dispute with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. Morrison also discussed proposed Australian legislation with the leaders of Britain, Canada and France.

“There is a lot of global interest in what Australia is doing,” Morrison said. “That’s why I invite, as we did with Google, Facebook to engage constructively because they know that what Australia is going to do here is likely to be followed by many other Western jurisdictions.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the minister in charge of the proposed News Media Bargain Code, had a phone conversation with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg after the blockade started on Thursday and again on Friday.

“We discussed their remaining problems & agreed that our respective teams would resolve them soon. We’ll talk again over the weekend, ”tweeted Frydenberg on Friday.

“I affirm that Australia remains committed to implementing the code,” added Frydenberg.

Frydenberg stated that Facebook had been in constructive negotiations with the Australian media regarding a payment agreement immediately before the sudden blockade.

Facebook said on Thursday that the proposed Australian legislation “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and the publishers using it.”

Morrison said his government was “happy to hear them on technical matters” but remained determined to pass the law.

“You can’t help but be friends with Australia because Australia is very friendly,” said Morrison. “We want to remain friends and this is the time they are friends with us again.”

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If Google pulls out of Australia, the prime minister says Microsoft Bing can replace him | Instant News


CANBERRA, Australia – The Australian Prime Minister said on Monday that Microsoft believes it can fill the void if Google carries out its threat to remove search engines from Australia.

A Google executive said at a Senate hearing last month that it will likely make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the government goes ahead with plans to get the tech giant to pay for news content.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had spoken with Microsoft
MSFT

chief executive Satya Nadella about the Bing search engine filling the space.

“I can tell you, Microsoft is pretty sure” that the Australian people could not get any worse, Morrison told the National Press Club of Australia.

“This is a big technology company and what’s important for Australia, in my opinion, is that we set the right rules for our people,” said Morrison.

“Having a news environment in this country that is sustainable and commercially supported, then this is important for how democracy functions,” he added.

Although Bing is the second most popular search engine in Australia, it has only a 3.7% market share, reports The Australian newspaper. Alphabet
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GOOG

Google says it takes up 95%.

Nadella started Zoom’s conversation with Morrison last week, the newspaper reported.

A Microsoft spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The mandatory code of conduct proposed by the government aims to create Google and Facebook
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pays Australian media companies fairly for using news content that is sucked up by the technology giants from news sites.

Google has faced pressure from authorities elsewhere to pay for news. Last month, they signed a deal with a group of French publishers that paved the way for companies to make digital copyright payments. Under the agreement, Google will negotiate individual licensing deals with newspapers, with payments based on factors such as the amount of internet site traffic published daily and monthly.

But Google rejected the Australian plan because it would have little control over how much it pays. Under the Australian system, if the online platforms and news businesses cannot agree on a price for news, the arbitration panel will make a binding decision on payment.

Morrison said he wanted to see “more alignment between the world economies” on the issue of antitrust and competition policy.

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Pakistan Will Challenge Orders to Release Man Convicted of Daniel Pearl’s Murder | Instant News


ISLAMABAD – Pakistan will try to hold in prison the man previously convicted of the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, said the country’s attorney general, as the government challenged court order for his release.

“We will make every effort to see that he does not come out and the verdict is withdrawn,” said Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan in an interview Friday. “All legal options must be explored.”

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that overturned the terrorism and murder convictions for Omar Sheikh, who has spent more than 18 years in prison for the crimes. The Supreme Court judge also canceled the third sentence, for kidnapping.

The court said it would explain the reasons at a later date and ordered that he be released from prison immediately if he did not want to in another case.

Daniel Pearl was killed in 2002 while reporting on militant networks in Pakistan.


Photo:

The Wall Street Journal

Washington and the Pearl family asked Pakistan to act swiftly to keep the Sheikh behind bars. American officials also said Thursday they were ready to accept it to be tried in the US Mr Sheikh, a British national, has been in prison since he was convicted in 2002 of kidnapping for ransom, terrorism and murder, and was sentenced to death.

Khan said Pakistan has not received a formal request from the US to hand over Sheikh, so he cannot comment on that possibility.

Sheikh’s lawyer, Mahmood Sheikh, said handing over his client to the US would be illegal and unconstitutional in Pakistan.

“It is time for US authorities to also realize that all countries have their own justice systems,” he said. “If a country’s highest forum has reached its conclusion, why doesn’t it occur to them that it may not be appropriate and appropriate to have this attitude?”

Since Thursday’s decision came from Pakistan’s highest court, it is impossible to file a full appeal against the result. Pakistani authorities filed what is known as a review petition on Friday, saying that “serious injustices” had occurred. They asked that the decision be suspended and that Omar Sheikh be held in prison while the petition awaited a decision.

At the time of his death, Mr. Pearl, who was then bureau chief for the South Asia Journal, was reported on militant networks in Pakistan after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.He disappeared in the southern city of Karachi in January 2002. He was killed a few days later. Prosecutors alleged that the Sheikh was friends with Mr. Pearl and lure her to Karachi, where she is kidnapped.

Omar Sheikh outside the Karachi court in 2002.


Photo:

aamir qureshi / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Pakistani authorities have refused the Sheikh’s release since April last year, when a lower court lowered his sentence, making him eligible for release. The lower court said the case against him was flawed because there was a “missing link in the chain of evidence” from Mr. Pearl up to his murder. It said the shortcomings included the unreliable admission of the Sheikh’s alleged accomplice and questions about whether investigators had tampered with the laptop allegedly used to send the ransom email.

Pakistani authorities and the Pearl family later appealed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that there was evidence linking the Sheikh to the crime. Pakistani authorities say questions raised about evidence, including evidence at the scene of the kidnapping and ransom emails, cannot be justified.

Journal Publishers, Dow Jones & Co., a unit of

News Corp.,

contribute to legal fees for family appeals. Matt Murray, editor in chief of the Journal, said Thursday that the Supreme Court’s decision was unfair.

Both the lower courts and the Supreme Court examined evidence presented at the 2002 trial that was genuine, not new. The two courts also ruled that the three alleged accomplices were not involved in the crime.

Since last year’s lower court ruling, the government has used deterrent-custody powers, despite numerous court orders to release the Sheikh.

Mr Sheikh’s lawyer, Mahmood Sheikh, said he would take the matter to the Supreme Court if the authorities did not allow his now free client.

“The authorities in Pakistan will not act wisely if they try to create further obstacles to his release,” he said.

US officials remain convinced Omar Sheikh played a major role in Pearl’s kidnapping and murder. How Islamabad handles US demands will be the first test of relations with President Biden’s new government.

Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken said in a statement he spoke Friday with his Pakistani counterpart and “reinforces US concerns about the decision of the Pakistani Supreme Court and the potential release of these prisoners”.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Blinken that “it is important and in the common interest that justice be served through legal means,” according to the statement.

The US has not made clear how they propose to take custody of the Sheikh. The US does not have an extradition treaty with Pakistan. US officials have indicated that they will likely see in advance whether Pakistan can contain him.

In the years following the September 11 attacks, Pakistan handed over dozens of suspected militants in a halted clandestine program.

Write to Saeed Shah on [email protected]

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