Posts tagged ‘Government’

09/07/2015

Angolans resentful as China tightens its grip | Reuters

When a halving of oil prices left a gaping hole in Angola’s finances this year, it became clear sub-Saharan Africa‘s third largest economy needed help fast – and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos knew exactly where to turn.

A Chinese worker walks past a construction site in Lubango, Angola March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Herculano Coroado

But the multi-billion dollar loans he signed with China last month have angered Angolans who say they have been left behind as politicians and China share the spoils and Africa’s second-largest oil producer becomes ever more reliant on Beijing.

China has lent Angola around $20 billion since a 27-year civil war ended in 2002, according to Reuters estimates.

Repayments are often paid with oil or funds go directly to Chinese construction firms that have built roads, hospitals, houses and railways across the southern African country.

This means, however, dollars don’t end up entering the real economy, increasing costs for ordinary Angolans.

“I think the president humiliates Angolans,” 35-year-old cook Marisa told Reuters as she bartered with a street trader over peanuts and bananas in the capital. “The agreements with China are a benefit for them and the president and not for us.”

Police visibility has increased in the streets of Luanda in response to public suspicion and dissent over how much the government would concede to Chinese interests in its bid to revive an economy hit by low crude prices.

More than a dozen people were arrested on June 20 for allegedly planning protests threatening “order and public security” in response to dos Santos’ China trip.

FLEC, a militant group that wants independence of the northern oil-rich exclave of Cabinda, demanded China repatriate all its citizens from the region within two months or risk being “severely punished”.

Angola has the best-funded military in sub-Saharan Africa and dissent is usually quelled quickly and ruthlessly, making any significant public backlash against the government unlikely, security experts say.

“IN A PICKLE”

Apparently aware of unease at home, dos Santos, a Soviet-educated petroleum engineer who has been in charge for 36 years, kept the details of the latest deals secret and stressed the “cooperation” and “mutual benefits” from his Beijing visit.

Chinese Premier Xi Jinping hinted at a much more lopsided relationship, saying he had agreed to “assist” Angola, China’s largest supplier of crude after Saudi Arabia.

It is almost impossible to miss Beijing’s influence in Angola, from construction site signs in Chinese script to expensive Chinese restaurants and seedy “Asian-only” massage parlors in the capital’s alleyways.

Despite reservations from jobless Angolans, economists see China’s dominant role in Angola as necessary.

Angola, which relies on oil sales for 95 percent of foreign exchange revenues, slashed a third off its budget and said it would need to borrow $25 billion this year – $15 billion domestically and the rest abroad.

“Lower oil prices have put Angola in a bit of a pickle and the most obvious place to turn is China,” said Cobus de Hart, an analyst at NKC African Economics. “If China can help Angola get out of the fiscal hole then it could be a positive step.”

Despite this, many Angolans are distrustful of the relationship, pointing to the millions who still live on less than $2 a day and World Bank studies that rank the country 169 out of 175 countries in terms of income equality.

Beijing’s role in Africa has often been criticized by Western governments and some African leaders who call it neo-colonial – taking resources in return for infrastructure that supports China’s construction industry.

“CHINA THE MASTER”

There are around 50 Chinese state companies and 400 private companies operating in Angola. They are supposed to use 30 percent Angolan labor but industry sources say this is rarely observed and Angolans tend to get the lowliest positions.

“Always the Chinese will be the master and the Angolan the helper,” said Paulo Nascimento, a 29-year-old Luanda taxi driver. “This is our country. We should be in charge.”

Chinese firms strongly deny accusations of exploitation, arguing that they have done more to rebuild Angola since the war than Western critics sitting on the sidelines.

“I think Angola does not have too much money so China is a very good choice for them,” Pascal Wang, 36, marketing manager at Chinese telecom company ZTE, told Reuters. “We don´t come here just to do business. We want to help Angolans.”

With the exception of investment from former colonial power Portugal and offshore oil drilling by U.S. and European oil majors, Western governments, donors and investors have focused their attention elsewhere in Africa.

There are signs this may be changing.

France’s AccorHotels, the world’s fourth-largest hotelier, sealed a deal last week with Angolan insurance and investment company AAA Activos to open 50 hotels by 2017. The deal coincided with a visit to Luanda by French President Francois Hollande.

The World Bank, meanwhile, agreed to $650 million in financial support this month, the first funding from the Washington-based lender since 2010.

Until the benefits of investment reach the masses rather than the elite, resentment against foreign investors and the government is likely to fester.

“We have always been slaves,” Nascimento said. “We are lost in the world. We are the leftovers.”

via Angolans resentful as China tightens its grip | Reuters.

Advertisements
23/06/2015

Who wants to be a mandarin? | The Economist

GOVERNMENT jobs have long been prized in China. Most years new records are set for the number of people sitting civil-service exams. University students, for all their disenchantment with politics, have been flocking to join the Communist Party in the hope of getting a leg-up into the bureaucracy. Such a career has offered security and perks aplenty. The only drawback has been pitifully low wages. This month officials are to get their first pay rises in nearly a decade; even so, many are heading for the door. Students are showing signs of losing interest in the career. Civil servants are anxious.

The reason is President Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption, the most intense and sustained in the party’s history. It has made it harder to trouser the bribes that have traditionally supplemented those meagre official salaries. Many civil servants now fear a knock on the door by agents of the party’s anti-corruption department. In 2014 it punished 232,000 officials, 30% more than in the previous year. That was still only about 3% of officialdom, but the publicity surrounding these cases has compounded anxieties. Many officials are being taken, with their spouses, to learn a lesson by visiting their former colleagues in prison.

A Chinese job-search website, Zhaopin.com, reported that in the three weeks after the lunar new-year holiday in February more than 10,000 government workers quit their jobs to seek greener pastures, mainly in the finance, property and technology industries—an increase of nearly one-third over the same period in 2014. The company attributed this to a new emphasis on frugality in government work. Lavish meals are now banned (much to the chagrin of restaurants, which have suffered falls in profits). Governments are no longer allowed to build fancy offices for themselves. Stricter controls have been imposed on the size of ministers’ offices and temperature settings in government buildings. The receiving of gifts and donations of cash, once common features of bureaucratic life, has become far riskier. Earlier this year an investigation revealed the diversion by the Shaanxi provincial government of 89m yuan ($14.4m) in disaster relief funds toward the construction of new homes for civil servants. Officials do receive housing benefits, but not enough to cover the kind of well-appointed accommodation to which they aspire.

via Who wants to be a mandarin? | The Economist.

04/09/2014

China Fights Local Budget Corruption With ‘Economic Constitution’ – Businessweek

Revising a budget law, as China’s National People’s Congress just did, sure doesn’t sound very sexy. But Sunday’s move is a crucial step toward fixing some of China’s biggest economic challenges: controlling runaway local debt; curbing rampant official corruption, and stemming the spread of socially destabilizing land seizures.

The Shanghai skyline

The amended law that now requires local governments to publicize their annual budgets is so important that some are calling it the “Economic Constitution,” the China Daily reported on Sept. 1. The revision “will prove a milestone in China’s fiscal history, as it will make the government’s collection of taxes and fees and distribution of its fiscal money to become more law-based and transparent,” the English-language paper reports.

Until now, the finances of China’s tens of thousands of counties, townships, and villages have been split into budget and extra-budgetary funds. With much of the financing falling in the murkier off-budget category, “government departments have a great leeway in managing government funds, which can possibly lead to corruption and abuse of public funds,” the newspaper explains.

via China Fights Local Budget Corruption With ‘Economic Constitution’ – Businessweek.

03/07/2014

Keys to Successful Reform in India – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, won a decisive mandate from an electorate yearning for effective leadership. His government’s first budget due out next week will be an important indicator of how forcefully Mr. Modi intends to translate this mandate into actions to put India’s economy back on track.

Of course, despite his clear mandate, Mr. Modi will not have a free hand to impose reforms by decree. He is constrained by a democratic system of government and accountability to the electorate. Hence, both the strategy and the specifics of reform will be crucial to making the program a success.

A key priority is to signal greater fiscal discipline. High levels of public deficits and debt, exacerbated by wasteful subsidies and an inefficient tax system, have created many market distortions and contributed to high inflation. Populist sops have also reduced resources available for expenditure on infrastructure, education and other areas that could boost long-term productivity.

 

The government needs to commit to long-term fiscal discipline. It should move aggressively to reduce fuel subsidies, implement a goods and services tax, and step up the pace of privatization of state enterprises. These measures would not only improve the fiscal position of the government but also enhance overall economic efficiency by shifting the focus away from purely redistributive policies.

It will also be helpful to signal that the government will not look for easy targets, such as foreign firms, to raise revenues by changing the rules whenever convenient. Policy certainty is as important for domestic investors as it is for foreign ones.

via Keys to Successful Reform in India – India Real Time – WSJ.

30/06/2014

China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters

China’s supreme court has appointed a senior judge to handle environmental cases as the environmentally challenged country bids to get tough on polluters and improve the way its laws are enforced, an official newspaper said on Monday.

China Environmental News, published by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said Deng Xuelin had been appointed as the presiding judge of the Environmental and Resources Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court.

The tribunal was formally established just two weeks ago.

Beijing, hit by a series of pollution scares and scandals, has vowed to reverse some of the damage done by three decades of untrammeled economic growth, but it has traditionally struggled to impose its will on big industrial enterprises and the local governments that protect them.

The report said the new state tribunal would give “unified guidance and coordination” to the 134 specialist environmental courts that have been set up by local governments, noting that the procedures used to handle such cases was “very informal”.

Litigators have long complained that lawsuits launched against polluters have been routinely rejected or even ignored by local courts, many of which lack the capacity and the independence to take on powerful government-backed firms.

China has promised to create legal channels allowing members of the public to take action against firms that break the law, but environmental officials say they lack resources and are already overwhelmed by the number of cases.

 

Earlier this year, China passed amendments to its 1989 Environmental Protection Law, giving local governments greater powers to fine, shut down and even imprison violators.

via China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters.

16/06/2014

China aims to revamp justice system but Communist Party to retain control | Reuters

Legal reforms are a key platform for President Xi Jinping‘s government to restore popular faith in the Party and judicial system amid simmering public discontent over miscarriages of justice often caused by officialsabuse of power.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the sixth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing June 5, 2014. REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool

China must “improve the requirements for appointing justices and prosecutors while upholding the principles of leading party officials and respecting the rule of justice”, an unnamed official in the top office in charge of judicial reforms told the official Xinhua news agency.

It did not say when the pilot programs would be launched.

To limit interference by local governments, provincial governments will pick judges and prosecutors and fix the budgets of local courts and procuratorates, Xinhua reported. The system currently gives local governments greater sway in appointments.

Panels of legal specialists at the provincial level will nominate judges and prosecutors, but the Party must still approve their appointments.

The reforms must “uphold the Party’s leadership,” the official said, signaling a willingness by the central leadership to improve its courts as long as the Party’s overall control is not threatened.

Critics have described the leadership’s call for greater independence for courts as a hollow gesture, because judges ultimately answer to the Party.

via China aims to revamp justice system but Communist Party to retain control | Reuters.

14/06/2014

‘Fake’ government toppled by Chinese police – Telegraph

It will go down as one of the most audacious attempts at Chinese fakery yet: a bid to forge an entire government.

Police in central China say they have brought down a 'counterfeit government'

That is what police claim happened in Dengzhou, a city 480 miles northwest of Shanghai, in Henan province, with more than 1.5 million inhabitants.

Three of the city’s farmers were this week facing charges of forging official documents after allegedly trying to build a parallel and entirely fictitious government for reasons that remain obscure, the local Dahe News Online website reported.

The “counterfeit government” began operating last September when Zhang Haixin, Ma Xianglan and Wang Liangshuang, three villagers, proclaimed themselves the leaders of the self-styled Dengzhou People’s Government.

The trio reportedly accused the incumbent Communist Party administration of “dereliction of duty” and opened their own headquarters just around the corner from those of the city’s real governors.

via ‘Fake’ government toppled by Chinese police – Telegraph.

24/05/2014

Modi’s Big Chance to Fix India – Businessweek

After five weeks of staggered voting, more than 550 million ballots cast, and almost $5 billion spent, the world’s largest democracy finally has a new leader. Yet the question that has loomed over India’s long campaign remains: What kind of leader is Narendra Modi going to be?

Narendra Modi speaks to supporters in Vadodara, India, on May 16

Modi fought an impressive campaign focused mostly on the right issues. He successfully cast the election as a referendum on who could better deliver jobs, government services, and economic growth: himself or Rahul Gandhi, the ruling Congress party’s heir apparent. The landslide victory of Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party—the biggest for any party since 1984—testifies to Indians’ hunger for decisiveness and efficiency after years of policy drift and corruption scandals.

Yet voters have little idea how Modi will govern. He has given no sign of how far he’ll challenge his own supporters on economic and social policies. Investors expecting miracles are in for a letdown, because India’s political system is bound to intervene. According to JPMorgan Chase (JPM), about 70 percent to 80 percent of regulatory and other roadblocks impeding big industrial projects aren’t within Modi’s power to remove. Even so, he needs to make progress where he can.

A good place to start would be to keep an election promise to introduce a combined goods and services tax—something Modi’s own party has long opposed, because it would force revenue losses on state governments. (Modi could offset some of the losses using central revenues.) He should move to phase out petroleum subsidies. He should give state and local governments greater flexibility in regulating labor markets, land sales, and more. Economic competition among the states is key.

Above all, India’s new leader must also reach out to the country’s Muslims—assuring them that he recognizes they are full and valued citizens entitled to an equal measure of security, trust, and respect. Modi’s campaign was based in part on a simple point: India can no longer afford to muddle through, endlessly avoiding difficult decisions. Now it’s time to deliver.

via Modi’s Big Chance to Fix India – Businessweek.

Enhanced by Zemanta
06/05/2014

Fake Government Busted in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ

This must take top prize.

“China has seen its share of counterfeits, from fake Apple stores to fake reporters to fake Gucci. Now add fake government to that list.

State media recently reported that a “People’s Government of Dengzhou” set up in central Henan province was toppled after it was found, in fact, to be a fraud.

According to reports, the government was set up late last year by three residents who had gone so far as to counterfeit fake government seals and issue papers in the bogus government’s name. They also tried to build up their own “civil service,” sending out recruitment ads that attracted more than 10 applicants before the real government shut it down.

Apparently the trio wanted to independently annul their existing government on the basis of its “nonperformance.” They located the headquarters of their faux government adjacent to the real one.

This isn’t the first time Dengzhou has made headlines for unusual political news. Four years ago, government mouthpiece China Daily wrote a story about the city titled “Democracy takes root in rural areas.” It chronicled Dengzhou’s measures to involve more residents in the vetting of proposals relating to villages in the region, in what the publication called an “innovative experiment” that was also hailed at the time by then-Vice President Xi Jinping.

No one, evidently, thought the farmers would get quite so innovative.

In the end, the would-be bureaucrats were outed after they served a property developer a suspension notice and tried to levy penalties for illegal construction in the area. The developer got suspicious, and the trio were rounded up. They have been charged with the forging of government documents. Attempts to reach them for comment weren’t successful.

via Fake Government Busted in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

Enhanced by Zemanta
30/03/2014

Civil service jobs in less demand – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

The number of applicants for civil service jobs has dropped in most places so far this year, according to information released by provincial-level governments.

Sixteen of the 18 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions that released employment information on Thursday saw a decrease in applicants year-on-year.

The number of applicants in Zhejiang province was down 37 percent from 360,000 last year to 227,000 this year, according to the human resources and social security department.

Most other provinces saw a decrease of between 10 and 30 percent this year, the Beijing News reported.

Only Shaanxi province and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region have seen increases in the number of applicants this year.

Meanwhile, 15 provincial-level governments have cut the number of civil service positions available. The number of posts in Zhejiang province, for example, is about 1,500 less than last year.

Civil service jobs have long been deemed ideal for many college graduates. The central authorities, provincial-level governments and city governments respectively recruit civil servants once a year.

In 2013, for example, 1.52 million graduates took the national civil service exam. On average, about 77 applicants competed for each available position. The most desirable posts saw a competitive ratio of 7,192 to 1.

Gu Ruocun, a graduate from Shandong Normal University who works for a private company, said that more than half of his classmates applied for positions in the provincial government last year.

“In my opinion, civil service is a decent job with decent pay,” he said, adding that he is preparing for this year’s application exam after failing a year ago.

Xu Yaotong, a professor of public administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said that the central government has begun reforms to streamline public agencies. Local governments will tend to follow suit to decrease the number of new civil posts, Xu said.

The decrease in applicants this year shows that the public has been changing its attitude toward such jobs, he said, adding that it is good news that more young people want to work outside of the government.

via Civil service jobs in less demand – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Law of Unintended Consequences

continuously updated blog about China & India

ChiaHou's Book Reviews

continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India