Chinese watchdog to encourage rural bank mergers



January 5, 2021

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s top banking watchdog said on Tuesday it would encourage founders of rural banks to boost capital, and would promote mergers and acquisitions in the sector to cut financial risks.

China’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) also said in an online notice it would encourage eligible investors, including local companies and non-bank financial institutions, to acquire and inject capital into rural banks.

“A small group of rural banks have become high-risk financial institutions in recent years due to various factors, seriously affecting and limiting their sustainable development and financial service capabilities,” the CBIRC said.

To reduce financial risks in the sector, founders of rural banks are encouraged to increase capital and stakes in those lenders, and dispose of non-performing loans.

For some high-risk rural lenders, local regulators are allowed to explore the option of turning them into branches of state-owned banks or joint-stock banks operating in the region.

For institutions where a “rescue would not be meaningful,” local CBIRC bureaus can urge founders to restructure, offer assistance to takeovers and even shut down the lender, the CBIRC said.

China had a total 1,641 rural banks at the end of September, data from the CBIRC showed, covering 1,206 counties in 31 provinces.

(Reporting by Cheng Leng and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Mark Potter)

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EasyJet offers passengers cheaper COVID-19 tests to encourage travel



FILE PHOTO: A general view shows a plane ready for departure, as EasyJet restarts its operations amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Gatwick Airport, in Gatwick, Britain June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra/File Photo

November 30, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – UK airline EasyJet said it would partner with COVID-19 testing companies to offer passengers discounted tests to try to encourage more travel, following similar moves by Wizz Air and London’s Gatwick Airport.

Travel rules in England will change from Dec. 15 so that if a traveller receives a negative test result from a self-funded test, they can reduce their quarantine from 14 to 5 days.

Desperate to stimulate the travel market after months of restrictions, airlines and airports are teaming up with testing firms to make it easier and cheaper to get a test.

EasyJet, whose finances have come under severe pressure during the pandemic, said on Monday that passengers will receive a reduced rate of 75 pounds per home test with Confirm Testing or with CityDoc, 100 pounds per home test or 150 pounds per in clinic test.

The 75 pound rate is cheaper than the 85 pound rate available to Wizz Air passengers. Both are more expensive than Gatwick Airport’s offer of 60 pounds per test for passengers who use its drive-through testing facility.

EasyJet said that the two companies it was working with aimed to provide results within 48 hours.

There is also demand for tests prior to travel as some popular destinations like Spain and Italy require passengers to show a negative test on arrival.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Bernadette Baum)





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ACT Government introduces $40-a-day in discounts to encourage spending on Canberra businesses


Vouchers worth up to $40 a day will be handed out to Canberrans in the weeks before Christmas, in a bid by the ACT Government to boost spending at local businesses during the coronavirus recession.

In two weeks, the ACT Government will begin giving customers five digital discount vouchers of varying value to spend at participating businesses, which will renew each day.

The program is part of an initial trial running between December 9 and December 21, or until the $500,000 allocated to the program is used up.

Here’s how it works.

How do I get my discount?

From today, anyone over 18 can sign up on the ChooseCBR website. As businesses sign up they’ll start appearing on a registry of participating merchants.

Then, from December 9 you’ll be given five discount vouchers each day, which you can use when you buy from participating businesses.

The five daily vouchers will need to be used at different businesses in order to spread the spending love, and will have minimum spending limits on them.

Voucher valueMinimum spend
2x $2.50$10
1x $5$20
1x $10$40
1x $20$80

You won’t be able to use the vouchers on tobacco, gambling or alcohol, but you will be able to use vouchers for a discount on the food portion of your bill if you order alcohol with a meal.

Business Minister Tara Cheyne said the system was based on a similar program that ran in Darwin, and that the vouchers would be accessible online.

“When you sign up on the website and then load the website, each day the vouchers will be available to you. You can then click on the voucher and then show it to the participating business,” she said.

Which businesses can I spend it on?

The eligibility criteria for businesses is a bit tighter than it is for customers, but the Government estimates about 2,000 businesses across the city will be eligible.

In order to participate the business needs to:

  • Have a physical shopfront (no online-only stores)
  • Have been on JobKeeper at some point this year
  • Be in the retail, tourism, accommodation, arts, recreation, personal services or hospitality sector
  • Have less than $10 million turnover per annum

As businesses sign up between now and the start of the program, they’ll appear on the ChooseCBR business directory.

During the ACT election campaign, the ACT Government committed $2.5 million to a voucher scheme, and Ms Cheyne said she hoped the $500,000 pre-Christmas trial would prove successful, hinting at more discounts to come next year.

“What I’d be hoping is that it’s a successful trial and that we see a really high take-up both from businesses and from the Canberra community and indeed the visiting community,” she said.

“We can make a decision next year about doing it again, and potentially doing it at a time when there might not be such a generous spend in the community.”

A similar scheme was announced in the NSW Budget last week, which will see residents there given four $25 vouchers to spend on food, arts and entertainment.



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Stacey Abrams drops into historic Verzuz rap battle to encourage Georgians to vote in critical Senate runoff races: ‘Let’s get it done’


To kick off a Thursday night matchup described as “the battle to end all battles” between two Atlanta hip-hop legends, Jeezy and Gucci Mane, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams had an important message for residents of the state leading up to the Jan. 5 Senate runoff races: “Vote.”

“We [need to] at least make sure that everyone shows up to vote so we have two senators to make sure we have COVID response and we’ve got stimulus money coming back to Georgia,” Abrams said, while remotely opening up the event for the two rappers at the famed Magic City strip club in Atlanta.

Verzuz, the brainchild of producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, is a virtual series of music battles between popular artists streamed on Instagram and Apple Music that sprang up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to keep people entertained at home.

On Thursday, Abrams thanked Jeezy and Gucci, former friends turned foes who are now back on good terms, for mobilizing formerly incarcerated people throughout the state to vote. She joked that the appearance earned her some “street cred” with her nieces and nephews.

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)

“I just wanted to say thank you to both of you, especially for the work you’ve done to encourage folks who are coming back, returning citizens, to know that they have the right to vote,” Abrams said. “I’ve got a younger brother who’s been in and out of the system and I know that redemption is real and I know that the voices that these men and women can bring to our state matter.”

The live-streamed event had more than 5.5 million total viewers on Instagram and millions more through Apple Music.

Abrams shared a screenshot of her appearance on Twitter with the caption “Let’s get it done,” alongside a link for Georgians to request absentee ballots.

Both Democratic Senate candidates also gave shout-outs to Abrams. Jon Ossoff, who’s going up against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue, tweeted, “Go Stacey!”

And the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who’s going up against GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler, tweeted, “Thanks Stacey Abrams. … Let’s win this.”

Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are seen at a campaign event on November 19, 2020 in Jonesboro, Georgia. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are seen at a campaign event on Thursday in Jonesboro, Ga. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Abrams narrowly lost to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a controversial race in 2018 and has since dedicated her efforts to mobilizing Georgia voters through her Fair Fight national voting rights organization, which has been widely credited as a huge force behind President-elect Joe Biden’s winning Georgia in the 2020 general election.

In a fun exchange at the top of the Verzuz conversation, rapper Gucci Mane asked Abrams, “Can you wipe my record clean?”

“That’s a job that the governor could do,” responded Abrams, who came close to winning that position in 2018, and is rumored to be considering another run in 2022. “You know, we’ll have to think about that later.”

Below are key dates for Georgians to remember ahead of the state’s Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, 2021:

Cover thumbnail photo illustration: Yahoo News; Photos: Prince Williams/Wireimage via Getty (2), Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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Read more from Yahoo News:





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Poland readying legislation to encourage offshore wind farms, official says | The Budapest Business Journal on the web


Energy Today

Thursday, October 8, 2020, 16:10

Zbigniew Gryglas, deputy minister for state assets, told a business conference in Lublin, eastern Poland, that proposed new regulations to promote power generation in offshore wind farms were being given their final touches and on track to take effect by the end of the year, reported the Polish Radioʼs IAR News Agency.

Photo by TebNad/Shutterstock.com

Gryglas told the National Economic Summit conference that offshore wind power had the potential to lend “a huge impetus” to the Polish economy in the years ahead.

At the end of last month, a host of Baltic Sea countries led by Poland agreed to work together to harness wind power and develop new offshore energy projects. Climate Minister Michał Kurtyka said at the time that offshore wind energy, alongside nuclear power, was one of two “strategic and long-term” choices for Poland as it seeks to develop its renewable energy sector and achieve climate neutrality in the future.

Kurtyka also said that Poland was eyeing projects worth some PLN 120 billion (USD 31 billion) over the next 20 years to generate 8,000 to 11,000 MW (megawatts) of installed capacity on its Baltic coast.





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Sanskrit Grams To Encourage Daily Use Of The Language


Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat wants to encourage usage of Sanskrit

Dehradun:

Encouraged by the success of an experimental project promoting the Sanskrit language as means of daily communication, the Uttarakhand government has decided to develop ‘Sanskrit Grams’ (Sanskrit villages) across the state. People in these model villages will communicate with each other in the ancient Indian language on a daily basis.

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has entrusted Haridwar-based Sanskrit Academy Uttarakhand with the task of developing such villages initially in districts and then at the block level, an official release said.

One village each where there is a Sanskrit school has been chosen from almost all the districts in the state for the implementation of the unique programme, it said. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Sanskrit Academy on Tuesday. The meeting was chaired by Mr Rawat, who said Sanskrit is the mother of all languages, which needs to be promoted among the younger generation for conservation of the country’s ancient culture.

The meeting also decided to rename the academy as Uttarakhand Sanskrit Sansthanam. An experimental project was first run at Kimotha village in Chamoli and Bhantola in Bageshwar where residents have become so conversant in the language that they not only use it in their daily communication but also sing folk songs in Sanskrit, officials said.

The success of the pilot project has encouraged the state government to implement it on a larger scale, according to officials.



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Coronavirus case increase sees Woolworths encourage masks in NSW, ACT and some Queensland stores


Woolworths has announced customers and staff will be “strongly encouraged” to wear facial coverings in NSW, ACT and some Queensland stores from next week due to the increase in coronavirus cases.

Woolworths released a statement on Thursday saying the request would apply to its supermarkets, metro stores, Big W, Dan Murphy’s, BWS and ALH Hotels from Monday.

New South Wales has seen 150 new cases of coronavirus cases across the last fortnight and has issued public health alerts for multiple venues across Sydney after confirmed cases.

An epidemiologist has urged Sydneysiders to wear face coverings on public transport, but the NSW Government has ruled out making them mandatory for now.

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said the request was for the “safety and wellbeing of our customers, teams and communities”.

“Even though wearing a face covering is not mandatory in NSW, ACT or Queensland, as the largest private sector employer with stores in almost every community, we feel it’s important we lead the way in helping reduce community transmission of COVID-19,” he said.

“We’re asking our teams to lead by example, and this includes our group executive team.

“Masks and face coverings are a highly visible symbol of the persistence of COVID-19. By encouraging and role modelling their use, it will further support the steps we need to collectively take to stop the spread of the virus and keep our team and customers safe.”

Woolworths also “strongly encouraged” customers and staff at Woolworths Group stores “within hot spot areas” in Queensland to wear facial coverings from Friday.

Queensland Health has launched a contact tracing and testing response in Logan and Brisbane’s southside encompassing multiple restaurants, two schools and a medical practice after two new COVID-19 cases were detected.

The front of the Woolworths in Spring Farm under a cloudy sky.
Woolworths says the move is due to an increase in coronavirus cases.(ABC News: Kevin Diallo)

The statement said face coverings would be provided for staff to wear for the foreseeable future.

Masks have been shown to offer protection against both getting and spreading the virus.

The Woolworths statement said face coverings would be mandatory in all Victorian stores from Sunday, in line with the Victorian Government’s announcement for compulsory use across the state.



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#COVID-19 – Revised rules to encourage banks to lend to companies and households



Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs approve more flexibility in EU banks prudential rulebook to focus on lending to the COVID-19 stricken economy.

On Tuesday (9 June), MEPs approved new rules to temporarily ensure favourable conditions for banks in order to support credit flows to companies and households and absorb losses, mitigating the severe economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the enforced confinement.

With a view to striking a balance between a robust and stable banking system and securing much-needed credit for the EU economy, MEPs agreed to apply specific changes to the capital requirements regulation (CRR), which will have to be coherently applied in the EU. Banks will have to monitor the effects of the pandemic on their balance sheets, pay close attention to non-performing loans and apply know-your-customer standards.

The adopted changes include:

  • Extension by two years of the transitional arrangements for IFRS 9 (international accounting standard) and further relief measures (capital add back) will ensure that banks can further provide credit to the real economy.
  • Alignment of minimum coverage requirements for non-performing loans guaranteed by the public sector with those guaranteed by official export credit agencies.
  • Deferred application of the leverage ratio buffer (leverage ratio is a ratio between a bank’s capital and its exposures) by one year to January 2023 – this further allow banks to increase the amount of funds they would be able to loan.
  • Advanced application of a more favourable prudential treatment of loans to pensioners or employees with a permanent contract that are backed by the borrower’s pension or salary.
  • Advanced application of both, the SME and infrastructure supporting factors, which allows for a more favourable prudential treatment of certain exposures to SMEs and infrastructure, ensuring credit flow to SMEs and supporting infrastructure investments.
  • Banks will no longer be required to deduct certain software assets from their capital, supporting an accelerated digitalisation of the banking sector.
  • Liquidity measures provided by central banks in a crisis context will be effectively channelled by banks to the economy.

In order to support funding options in non-euro member states fighting the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee reintroduced transitional arrangements related to preferential treatment for when governments and central banks are exposed to bonds denominated in currencies of non-euro member states and prolonged transitional with respect to their treatment under the large exposure limits.

Taking into account the extraordinary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the extreme levels of volatility in the financial markets leading to increased yields for public debt and in turn to unrealised losses on banks’ holdings of public debt, MEPs agreed to introduce a temporary prudential filter to calculate losses accumulated since 31 December 2019 and to neutralize their impact.

Next steps

The text was adopted with 41 votes to 16 and two abstentions.

The plenary session vote on the CRR quick fix will take place next week, on Friday 19 June.

More information



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