The coronavirus supplement was cut again from $250 to $150 on January 1, payable until the end of March 31. It was previously $550. This has been bolstering the unliveable JobSeeker rate.
The silver lining is another economic support payment of $250 in March – if you are receiving an eligible payment or are on a concession card on February 26.
There have been cuts to JobKeeper, too, assuming your employer meets the decline-in-turnover test.
From January 4 the now two-tiered rate has become $650 for part-time employees (down from $750) and $1000 for full-timers (down from $1200).
The plan is to end this on March 28. Until then, don’t forget you may be able to claim both payments.
A widespread relaxation of lending rules which the government wants to introduce this year has hit a roadblock in Parliament but may still be on the table. For you, that means borrower beware… stress test any potential loan amount to make sure no more than one-third of your salary covers loan repayments.
If you are one of the many people refinancing their mortgages, there are a couple of prevalent pricing ploys.
Many of the cheap interest rates you see advertised are for fixed rates only and often roll over to an inflated variable rate at the end of the term. I advocate you only ever fix half the total of a loan.
Be aware, too, that some bargain-basement mortgage rates from non-bank lenders do not come with “real” offset accounts, so your money is only available through redraw.
If you are building or renovating a home, the HomeBuilder program for grants up to $25,000 has been extended to March 31, 2021.
Health insurance breaks
There are a couple of changes in health insurance, an industry seen as under pressure as people look to cut costs.
Many health insurers were great at pausing premiums for people in financial hardship. If you are still struggling, just ask.
However, while the annual April price increase was delayed until October last year (it was 2.92 per cent), there will be another 2.74 per cent rise in April. This is the smallest increase since 2001.
Also, in recognition that COVID-19 has created high youth unemployment and people are living at home longer, adult children can now stay under their parents’ policies until age 31 (previously 25). This is when the lifetime health cover loading kicks in and prices ratchet up 2 per cent for every year they do not have their own cover.
Help always at hand
If you do not have an emergency fund of cash stockpiled – preferably six months’ salary in the bank or a mortgage offset account if you have a home loan – and you run into financial trouble, there is assistance you can access.
First, get an income statement from Centrelink and take it to a community provider, such as St Vincent de Paul or the Salvation Army, which could help you to pay food, fuel or medical expenses. You need to meet certain criteria; food help is basically a given but other requests are not always granted.
Second, if you have a concession card, tell your service providers in case they will grant you a discount or special deal. These might extend to council rates on your home, bulk-billed doctor trips, subsidised pharmaceuticals or cheaper public transport.
Whatever you do, do not throw yourself at the mercy of predatory payday lenders or rent-to-buy schemes (both of which the government is finally acting to curb).
If you are in danger of defaulting on any bill, go to your provider and ask for leniency.
If you need immediate cash – say for a broken refrigerator or a big car repair bill – there are no-interest and low-interest loans schemes issued through Good Shepherd micro-finance.
An Australia-wide network of financial counsellors can point you in the right direction. Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or find them at ndh.org.au.
Financial educator, commentator and author.
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Major watchdogs in Australia’s finance have dramatically reduced the sum of money it was sent from the Vatican to Australia. This was according to the Vatican after an earlier report cited a huge figure that raised suspicions of money laundering.
As per the joint Vatican-Australian review showed only $9.5 million was transited between 2014 and 2020, a fraction of $2.3 billion originally reported by the watchdog which sparked surprise.
The Vatican contested the huge figures in December and asked the Australian financial intelligence unit, known as AUSTRAC, to review its calculations.
With that, some media raised speculations that the Vatican could have been used to launder money.
This error by AUSTRAC was first reported by The Australian newspaper, which explained it was due to a computer coding mistake.
Meanwhile, the Vatican statement called the mistake “a huge discrepancy”. It said the $9.5 million sent to Australia was mostly to meet “contractual obligations” as well as “ordinary management”. This seemed to be a reference to its embassy in Australia.
As per the Vatican, the original report of the staggering amount of money and more than 47,000 individual fund transfers had appeared to be like “science fiction”, provided that fact that the Holy See’s annual budget is about 330 million euros. Hence, they demanded a review.
AUSTRAC had told the Australian newspaper the new calculations showed there had been only 362 transfers in that period.
Amid that, Vatican’s treasurer from 2014 to 2017, Cardinal George Pell, told media “I was relieved to hear that billions were not laundered through the Vatican while I was head of the Secretariat for the Economy”.
Last month, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane said that the Australian Church was not made aware of such transfers and that the bishops yearn for an explanation from the Vatican and AUSTRAC regarding the matter.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Whether you’re looking to make some fast cash, or you’re after long-term, more sustainable income-producing results, there are certainly ways you can make money online today. The truth is that making money online isn’t as difficult as most make it out to seem. It does require some discipline.
However, if you’re looking for realistic ways you can start earning money online now, then it really truly does boil down to seven paths you can take towards profit. Some will provide you with immediate results, helping you to address your basic monthly necessities such as rent, utilities and groceries, while others have the potential to transform your life by revolutionizing your finances in the long term.
Related: 8 Ways to Make Money Online Without Quitting your Day Job
No matter what method you select for generating your online income, there’s one very important thing to understand. Money can be earned and spent, saved and pilfered, invested and wasted. Not time. That’s why time is far more valuable than money. You can’t recreate time. Once it’s spent, it’s gone forever.
When you lack the luxury of time, making money on or offline can seem like an impossible task. How are you supposed to do that when you’re working at a life-sucking nine-to-five job? While the stability of full-time employment might allow most to sleep well at night, it doesn’t empower your creative juices to search for new income-producing strategies.
No matter what method you end up using to generate an income on the web, you need to adjust your mindset to help empower rather than discourage you. The truth is, making money online can be fraught with avoidable pitfalls. Cancel the noise by keeping a few fundamental guiding principles in mind.
If you’re at all serious about generating a full-time income and possibly more from your online activities, then you need to focus on passive income as opposed to active income. Sure, the active income will help you survive. That’s the scarcity mentality at play. But it’s the passive income ideas that will help you thrive.
Related: 2 Ways to Make Money Online This Month
Considering that you have a finite amount of time, passive income should make up a large part of your work. If you’re serious about generating any semblance of income online, then passive income should be one of your sole goals and ambitions. Why? Wouldn’t you prefer to do the work one time and get paid repeatedly as opposed to relying on your time to generate that income? Invest the time at the front-end so that you can reap the benefits on the back-end. This means putting in a bit of sweat equity and not getting paid today. Rather, you’ll get paid somewhere down the road. And you’ll continue getting paid whether you keep building that passive income stream or you stop.
Anyone interested in making money online should be pursuing passive income, while also working on active income. There are loads of ways to generate an income passively on the internet, many of which start at the foundation of having a blog, generating substantial traffic and building an audience and a list. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
That doesn’t mean you need to start a blog to make money online today. You could opt for a non-blog-starting route, but if you’re looking for longevity in your income-producing abilities on the internet, then a blog should be your primary aim.
1. Leverage the app economy
If you’re looking to address some immediate financial needs, then the app economy is likely right for you.
Uber or Lyft: If you’re in a locale where you can find Uber or Lyft, or one of the many competitors around the world such as China’s Didi, the hours are flexible and you can work as you see fit, making it perfect, even if you currently have full-time employment but are looking to make some money on the side.
Postmates: You don’t even need a car in some locations to make money with this app. In some major metropolitan areas like Manhattan, a bike would suffice.
iBotta: Earn cash back rewards by purchasing featured products at major retailers. All you have to do is add rebates, go shopping, then snap a photo of your receipt to earn your cashback. Simple and effective.
Task Rabbit: Another simple and straightforward app for making a bit of side-hustle income is the Task Rabbit app. Tasks can be anything from simple repairs to more exhaustive undertakings. The app carefully vets each service provider to ensure the highest quality, and it’s a great way to make some extra income on the side on your own terms.
Ebates: This app offers a simple way to make money online by buying whatever you’re already buying and then getting a cash-back reward. With eBates, there is no scanning receipts. Simply click a link in the app and buy it from the store. You’ll automatically be credited with your cash rewards upon purchase along with receiving an email confirmation.
Swagbucks: With Swagbucks, there are a number of ways you can make money. You can shop online, watch videos, answer surveys and surf the web. The app gives you both cashback and gift cards as a reward for your efforts.
Inbox Dollars: Another app you can use to make money online is Inbox Dollars, which pays you for watching television, taking surveys and shopping. There are cash offers here and it’s relatively similar to some of the other apps in this arena.
Related: What You’ll Really Earn on Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit Every Month
2. Use existing websites
You could also opt to use existing websites for making money. These include both active income and passive income methods. For example, you could sell some used items or invest in creating some digital designs that then can be sold on merchandise. Again, devote a sizable portion of your time to passive income so that you can slowly build up earnings that will arrive on autopilot without any extra added effort.
Of course, a large portion of these sites do have their own respective apps. But these are certainly less involved in the gig economy, and more so in the longer-term projects that exist in the fields of photography, online marketing, graphic design and web development, for example.
Craigslist: This site has been the go-to resource for over a decade now for people that are looking to make a bit of extra money online. You can easily sell your used stuff, rent out a spare room in your home or apartment, and offer up your services to the world.
Upwork: This website offers a great marketplace for selling just about any professional service. You don’t need a merchant account, a website of your own or anything else for that matter. All you need to do is be able to provide a high-quality service at a reasonable price. But be informed, you will have to compete with many others that are constantly bidding on open jobs.
Cafe Press: This website allows you to create digital designs that can then be sold on the platform. You’ll earn a commission for everything that sells and you’ll never have to deal with logistics like printing, warehousing and customer service. If you have some graphic design skills, then this is a great potential source for your web-based income.
Fiverr: Israeli-based Fivver was started in 2010 by Shal Wininger and Micha Kaufam. You can offer gigs as low as $5 but also get paid much more for upgrades and add-ons.
Mechanical Turk: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a resource for doing human-intelligence tasks, or as the site commonly refers to them, HITs. You get paid a very small fee for any given HIT and you’ll need a good deal of volume to make a substantial amount of money. But it is a resource you can use in your spare time to generate a small income online.
Flippa: If you have a penchant for buying and selling, you could use Flippa, and its higher-end counterpart, Deal Flow Brokerage to buy and sell websites for a profit. You’ll need to know what you’re doing here, but you could easily make a sizable income by flipping income-generating websites for profit.
Etsy: While Etsy’s popularity has declined recently, it’s still a great resource for selling handmade items online. No need for complex ecommerce sites or merchant accounts or any sort of automation. The company takes a commission of every sale and charges a small listing fee per item. But many still use Etsy as their primary source of income. The best part is that you can also sell digital products such as poster designs.
Shutterstock and iStockPhoto: Have a keen eye for photography? Why not sell photos on some of the leading photography sites. You’ll need some design software skills to tag along. But if you do have skill in this arena, it’s a great potential source for passive income.
Threadless: Similar to CafePress, Chicago-based Threadless also allows you to sell digital designs in the form of t-shirts and other merchandise such as phone cases, mugs, beach towels and so on.
Zazzle: Another great resource for selling online is to use Robert Beaver’s Zazzle. The site is somewhat similar to Etsy and virtually anyone can make money online selling a variety of items here. From art to handmade items and customizable products, you can pretty much sell anything here.
Related: 5 Ways to Make Enough Side Money to Eventually Quit Your Job
3. Sell your own stuff
If you’re ready to enter the ecommerce fray, you could sell your own stuff. Of course, along with selling your own stuff on your own website comes a whole slew of both responsibilities and technical configuration and requirements. For starters, you’ll need a website and a hosting account. You’ll also need a merchant account like ones offered by Stripe or PayPal. Then you’ll need to design that site, build a sales funnel, create a lead magnet and do some email marketing.
You’ll also need ecommerce software, fulfillment software, worry about warehousing, customer service and refunds. But that’s not all. You’ll also need traffic. Think search engine optimization, Facebook ads, and other social media campaigns. It is hard work, especially on your own. You could opt for Amazon’s platform, which might be an easier route. But, then again, at the end of the day, this is a serious business, which could produce significant profits. So you’re either all in or you’re not.
Shopify: Want to build your own storefront? You could opt to create a Shopify store. You could also install WooCommerce as a plugin and run your ecommerce store from your blog. You’ll need an SSL certificate and a way to process payments, but you might find this easier to get up and running fast to start selling immediately.
Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA): You could start selling on the largest online store in the world and not spend the time to build out your own infrastructure or worry about traffic. You will need to pay a commission, but most of the other processes will be automated for you.
Drop-shipping: Amazon offers one form of drop-shipping, but there are other resources for drop-shipping products that you’ll never actually have to see or handle yourself. You’ll simply need to close the sale. Providers like SaleHoo, Worldwide Brands, and many others, offer you a resource for drop-shipping your products.
High-ticket consulting or coaching: You could sell your own high-ticket consulting or coaching products from your website. You’ll still need a website, merchant account, sales funnel, lead magnet and many other items. But you can easily earn a substantial amount of money from each individual customer, making it well worth the arduous setup required.
Related: Making Money Online: 5 Major Online Selling Opportunities for Any Entrepreneur
4. Sell as an affiliate
There are loads of resources for making money online as an affiliate. You could source products from ClickBank, Commission Junction, Rakuten Marketing, Share-a-Sale, Impact Radius and many others. Plus, many of the larger companies have their own affiliate programs as well. Do your due diligence and find the right company with a relevant product or service to your audience that you can sell as an affiliate.
In some cases, you will need an active website with substantial traffic to get approved. Selling as an affiliate isn’t easy by any means, but if you do have the audience, it can definitely amount to a substantial amount of income.
Related: Why Affiliate Networks Are So Important to Online Affiliate Marketing
5. Start a blog
If you’re serious about making money online, start a blog. Blogging is one of the easiest and most sustainable income sources. As long as the blog is setup the right way, in the right niche, with the right content targeted at the right audience, and the offer is complementary to the content, you could make a tremendous amount of passive income from a blog.
While some might think that starting a blog is an arduous effort, when you understand the precise steps you need to take, it becomes far easier. It all starts in the decision of choosing a profitable niche and picking the right domain name. From there, you need to build your offers. You can easily sell things like mini-email courses, training sessions and ebooks.
Related: 6 Ways to Turn Your Blog Into a Money Maker
6. Email marketing
If you’re interested in online marketing, setup email software and create a lead magnet that you can use in your sales funnel. Then, build up that list. It’s often said that you can expect to earn about $1 per subscriber per month. If you have a list of 10,000 subscribers, that means you can earn roughly around $10,000 per month. You will need to deliver value and not pitch them on every email, but it is a very achievable goal in a short period.
There are many ways to get people onto your list. Lead magnets are one such resource. For example, you can build ebooks, checklists and cheat sheets. But you can also do content upgrades, such as PDF versions of an article with added resources in them, four-part video training series, and more. Think about your audience and what you can offer them to better serve them, then treat them with some respect and you’ll eventually reap the rewards.
Related: One of Facebook’s First Employees Explains Why Email Marketing Is Better Than Social Media Marketing
7. Webinars training
Webinars are quite possibly one of the most potent ways you can make an exorbitant amount of money online. You’ll need an audience to train and you’ll need to know what you’re talking about. Of course, this usually requires having a website and some semblance of an online presence. However, people can still do webinars without all of that. For example, you might have a sizable social media following and you train them every week on something to do with social media. But you will need a product to embed and sell at some point. Don’t worry about it in the beginning. In my experience, the best webinar platform out there is GoToWebinar.
No matter what method you choose to make money online, understand that you might be able to make some money fast, but for the sizable returns, you’ll need significant sweat equity. However, a year from now, you’ll be happy you started today. Remember, time is far more valuable than money. Focus on creating passive income streams that will free up your time so that you can quit the rat race and focus on the things that matter.
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An Adelaide man has been arrested for allegedly stealing a three-wheeled scooter after giving the owner an envelope containing fake money and “bits of paper”.
A man advertised a scooter for sale on Facebook Marketplace
A man allegedly gave the owner an envelope containing fake money during the sale
The scooter was later found dumped and a 29-year-old man was arrested
Police say the Klemzig owner had advertised the black Yamaha moped on Facebook Marketplace.
A man arrived to buy it about 9:30pm yesterday and allegedly gave the owner an envelope which he said contained cash for it.
Before the owner could check the envelope, the alleged thief drove off with the 125cc scooter.
Senior Constable Mick Abbott said the envelope contained “a fake $50 note and lots of bits of paper”.
“It was a bit of a ruse, I suppose,” he said.
“Before they could open the envelope, they’ve taken off.
“They’ve obviously handed over the keys and taken off in the scooter.”
About 1:30am, police spotted a man riding the scooter in Pooraka but they say he dumped it at a shopping centre on Kings Road, Parafield.
Police chased the suspect and arrested a 29-year-old Ridgehaven man, who was later charged with illegal use of a motor vehicle and driving while disqualified.
The scooter has been returned to its owner.
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You don’t always need to fork out big dollars for a delicious meal at a fancy restaurant.
Bowling clubs and RSLs on the Northern Rivers are stepping up their game big time, offering good food at good prices.
Here are some of our top picks:
The Bowlo, Bangalow
It’s all about fresh food and the family-friendly vibe at The Bowlo. Some of the favourites on the menu include the crispy pork belly burger and salt and pepper squid with garlic, onion and coriander crunch. The prices are low, and there’s a huge enclosed grass area for the kids to run around, as well as a playground for toddlers.
Brunswick Heads Bowling Club
Open every day for lunch and dinner, the bowlo at Bruns is an unexpected gem. Talented head chef Jeff Thode creates blackboard specials every day, along with the $12 lunch specials, and there’s an extensive menu. Every Wednesday night is Italian Night, where you can choose between four authentic Italian dishes for just $9.50 each.
Byron Bay Services Club
The club offers two popular dining venues, Cafe on Jonson and Bistro on Jonson, with fresh offerings from head chef Teaghan Peddie. The focus is on local, quality produce. Try out the soft shell crab sliders and the lamb ragu rigatoni. They also have a good pizza menu and kids meals are $7.50.
Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club
Head chef Lenny Ransome is getting plenty of accolades for his work at Societa Bistro. He has experience across a variety of cuisines, but Societa is an Italian-inspired restaurant which also caters to the classic club scene. The spaghetti marinara comes highly recommended, and we’re also looking forward to trying out the other pasta dishes on the menu.
The emphasis is on quality seafood, salads, pastas, steaks and kids meals. The prices are good, and even better for members, who get discounts at the restaurant as well. Try out the fried squid mango salad or the Tasmanian salmon tagliatelle. For a larger, spicier meal, the chicken parmageddon has Frank’s hot sauce, Salumi chorizo, pepperoni, Daly’s Butchery smoked leg ham, mozzarella and fried chilli.
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Twenty20 leagues have created an alternative marketplace for cricketers. Many can now earn more not playing for their countries, but the big three’s affluence has insulated them from these forces.
All the while, wealth has enabled the big three to assemble a pool of players across the three formats and, when it is prudent, to pay them enough not to take part in T20 leagues and protect them for international commitments.
As England’s success at data-mining suggests, the rise of analytics may prove yet another way that the sport’s richest can gain an advantage.
Rather than ameliorate the financial chasm between countries, the big three have amplified them. All men’s global events from 2016-23 are shared exclusively between the big three. The Test Cricket Fund was quietly scrapped. Visiting countries still earn no revenue from tours.
New Zealand are the interlopers in the age of the big three. Should they avoid defeat against Pakistan at Christchurch, it will be their eighth consecutive Test series victory at home, during which they have won 11 without losing one. Those successes have come alongside reaching consecutive one-day World Cup finals.
There is no grand New Zealand master plan; their success is based on good administration. The prudent running of Cricket New Zealand is rooted in the introduction of independent governance in 1995, with directors representing the best interests of the game at large, rather than their regions.
Unlike others, New Zealand have resisted the fool’s gold of launching a glitzy – but loss-making – franchise T20 league they cannot afford. Relations between the players and board have been consistently excellent; pragmatically allowing players to compete in overseas T20 leagues to boost their earnings has avoided poisonous relations.
New Zealand have ruthlessly prioritised, cutting back their domestic first-class schedule, while investing in their A-team program to prepare players better. And they have recognised that Test cricket is best served by being played on boutique grounds, in front of picnicking fans, rather than in soulless stadiums – creating a template for how to run the game in countries with less financial clout.
Yet there is a certain sadness to New Zealand’s successes, too. In 2015, while they were sharing a thrilling two-match series in England, Mike Hesson, then New Zealand’s head coach, declared they had ‘‘earned the right’’ to play longer Test series. New Zealand’s last three-match series at home was four years ago. Since then, they have been restricted to two-Test affairs. Unless it is against the big three, each home Test loses Cricket New Zealand about $700,000.
If Test cricket is to avoid retrenching further, its vibrancy cannot come from the big three alone. It needs Kiwi fans to be able to dream of that date at Lord’s and for their team’s consistency to be rewarded with the No.1 spot in world cricket against all the odds.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged that Pravin Raut, a director of Guruashish Constructions Pvt Ltd – a subsidiary of Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) – siphoned Rs 95 crore and allegedly transferred Rs 1.6 crore to his wife, who then gave Rs 55 lakh to Varsha Raut, wife of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, in 2010-2011, as an interest free loan.
The agency has also not found any documents showing a formal loan agreement between Varsha and Madhuri, wife of Pravin Raut, raising questions on the nature of the transactions, sources in the ED said. On Friday, the agency provisionally attached assets of Rs 72 crore belonging to Pravin under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank case. The ED has alleged that the money siphoned by Pravin were loans availed by HDIL from PMC Bank.
It has claimed that Varsha used the money to buy a flat at Dadar in Mumbai. The agency has found that Varsha and Madhuri are also partners in a firm called Avani Construction.
Varsha, sources said, has also received a loan of Rs 12 lakh from this company against a contribution of mere Rs 5,625 towards its capital. Sources added that the period when the loan was given to Varsha coincides with the period when PMC Bank gave loans to HDIL, which is now accused of a Rs 6,200-crore fraud at the bank. The loan taken by Varsha has remained unpaid for 10 years, said sources.
PMC Bank is under regulatory restrictions after the Reserve Bank of India found out financial irregularities in its functioning, hiding and classification of loans given to HDIL. The promoters of HDIL – Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan – are currently in jail in the PMC Bank scam case.
In February, the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police had arrested Pravin after the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) complained that Guruashish Constructions was given a redevelopment project for Patra Chawl in Goregaon in Mumbai in 2007, but instead of redeveloping, the company sub-contracted the project to three developers and also mortgaged some of the property with the consent of MHADA.
Guruashish Constructions was taken to the bankruptcy court in 2017 after it defaulted on loan repayment of Rs 250 crore to the Union Bank of India. In September 2020, the National Company Law Tribunal ordered the liquidation of the company and appointed a resolution professional to oversee its liquidation. The liquidation value of the company is Rs 126 crore. Varsha, who was summoned by the ED three times in connection to the case, has sought time from the agency and will appear before it on January 5.
Sanjay Raut has said that they have been communicating with the ED for the last one-and-a-half months and have twice submitted documents sought by the agency pertaining to the loan. He also said that the transaction had no linkage to the PMC Bank scam case and the loan was declared by him in his election affidavit and also to the income tax department.
“The loan transaction is between two individuals. The loan that we have taken is on record and has been mentioned to the income tax department and in the Rajya Sabha election affidavit. We haven’t hidden anything,” Sanjay Raut said on Friday when asked why there was no formal agreement documenting the loan taken by his wife from Madhuri. Clarif-ying that he and Pravin were not related and their relationship was one of “close family friends”, the Sena MP said, “We took the loan 10 years ago. There was no PMC Bank scam then… Pravin Raut happened to be a director with HDIL.”
“ACTING ON INFORMATION, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation [SAMR] has started investigation [into] Alibaba Group for alleged monopoly conduct including implementing an ‘exclusive dealing agreement’.” This brief note, posted by Xinhua, the state news agency, on December 24th, was all it took to cut China’s mightiest online titan down to size. Not even the announcement three days later of an additional $6bn in share buy-backs arrested the slide in its share price. By December 28th it had fallen by 13%, wiping $91bn off the firm’s market capitalisation. American regulators, whose detailed charge-sheets against tech giants such as Facebook and Google in recent weeks elicited a yawn from investors, must have looked on with envy.
The Alibaba probe marks the first one of its kind into Chinese e-commerce. Its timing—a month after authorities suddenly halted the $37bn initial public offering (IPO) of Alibaba’s fintech affiliate, Ant Group, and days before another regulator told Ant to curtail its lucrative lending and wealth-management activities—has fuelled speculation that it is Beijing’s way of chastening the two firms’ flamboyant co-founder, Jack Ma.
Mr Ma’s provocations probably played a role; Ant’s IPO was suspended soon after the tycoon likened China’s state banks to pawn shops. Chinese watchdogs often launch lightning regulatory strikes, seeking to make an example of bad behaviour as a deterrent to others, says Angela Zhang, an antitrust expert at the University of Hong Kong. But the investigation also signals growing concerns over the online economy, which is effervescent but also increasingly concentrated. As investors parsed the Xinhua statement, share prices of other internet giants, such as Tencent and Meituan-Dianping, fell nearly as steeply as Alibaba’s.
The complaint against Alibaba seems to centre on the practice of having merchants or brands sign contracts to sell products exclusively on its platform. Those that do not, and stick with other marketplaces, risk having internet traffic diverted from their online shopfronts on Alibaba’s Tmall emporium to other sellers.
Such arrangements are not new. In 2015 JD.com, a smaller e-emporium backed by Tencent, filed a legal claim against Alibaba over a similar issue. Nor are they unique to Mr Ma’s firm, which launched a competing complaint against JD.com the same year. These complaints, and others which various parties have brought regularly since, have been largely ignored by regulators. So why the about-turn?
In the past Chinese trustbusters were hesitant to hobble an industry in which China was seen to be world-beating, and which enjoyed explicit support from the country’s Communist leaders. Now, like their Western counterparts, they are anxious about a handful of giant firms controlling a growing range of increasingly indispensable services—e-commerce, logistics, payments, ride-hailing, food delivery, social media, messaging. Common practices, such as selling products below cost to lure customers, look more troubling in an industry where the top three firms control over 90% of the market than they might have in a less concentrated one. In November SAMR said price discrimination, whereby individual shoppers are offered different prices based on their spending power, divined from user data, may be unlawful.
Another reason for China’s newfound regulatory zeal (Mr Ma’s jibes aside) is greater trustbusting capacity. SAMR was formed only in 2018, by combining the offices of three separate regulators. It still struggles to keep up with the fast-changing online market; most of its staff are busy assessing domestic mergers and acquisitions. But it has more know-how and manpower than it used to—and looks eager to deploy them.
Vatican City: Pope Francis has issued a new decree making charity funds more transparent and tightening controls on Vatican finances after a scandal over a luxury London property deal.
The main target is the Secretariat of State, the most important part of the Vatican administration, which must relinquish management of its funds, investments and real estate and submit to supervision by two other economic offices.
Published on Monday and signed by the pope on December 26, the decree takes effect over two months from January 1.
In 2014, the Secretariat invested about €200 million ($322 million) as a partner in a deal to buy a luxury building in London. As the deal became onerous, it paid tens of millions of fees to middlemen in attempts to change the terms.
If you’re looking for a few ideas on how to give your home the “wow” factor without spending thousands of dollars, you’ve come to the right place. You may need to use professional services for some home improvements, such as HVAC installation or the addition of a wrap-around porch. However, there are numerous projects you can do yourself to save some money while adding value to your home.
A little paint can go a long way and doesn’t have to cost a lot. Instead of hiring a professional painter, buy yourself some paint and brushes and get to work. Not sure where to start? If you’ve never painted before, it’s probably best to start small with an accent wall or a small piece of furniture. Once you’re comfortable, don’t be afraid to expand your horizons. If your kitchen cabinets are outdated this is the perfect place for the most bang for your buck. Instead of buying a new set of kitchen cabinets a fresh coat of paint may be the perfect option. Additional ideas may include updating old wallpaper with a new, neutral wall color or brightening the outside of your home with a coat of creamy, bright yellow.
Small details can go a long way and in many cases you can achieve these unique features yourself. The elegance of crown molding is timeless and adds a beautiful touch to a boring room. With a few tools and supplies, you can easily install this trimming to any room you see fit. The look of a room is important. Another simple detail is ensuring the grout of your tiles are bright and clean as it is common for grout to become faded and discolored. Grout refresh is a simple yet effective solution instead of replacing the flooring.
Updating your outdoor area doesn’t need to be difficult or require an expensive bill from a professional landscaper. Start by cleaning up the area by trimming overgrown trees and edging the lawn. You should then incorporate different plants and flowers within a rock garden due to it’s easy upkeep. Looking to go a little further? Add an eye-catching walkway with gravel, pavers, or repurposed brick. To save even more within your outdoor space, consider opting for large evergreen trees to border your land for additional privacy and an alternative to purchasing a fence.
Now that you know how to save yourself some money on home improvements, what’s stopping you from searching Las Vegas houses for sale to find the home of your dreams.