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Trudeau to destroy another resource industry in the west but to the chagrin of the Feds Alberta could benefit – Brooks Bulletin

Albertans are used to being singled out by the Trudeau government as a target to destroy our resource-based economy. But we are not alone, in a mandate letter to the new federal Fisheries Minister he commanded the Minister to work with BC and Indigenous communities to create a responsible plan to transition from open-net salmon farming in coastal BC waters by 2025. That would be the same transition word Liberals use about phasing out the oilsands. That mandate caused an immediate uproar in the BC fish farming industry including First Nations involved in that business who see the termination of their industry. The delusion promoted by anti-open net salmon farming activists and political parties is that the entire industry can just be moved onto land-based containment rearing systems. Like with the delusion of creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs in Alberta to replace our energy industry that level of wilful ignorance is truly astounding. The BC salmon farming industry involves 7,000 jobs and $1.2 billion in annual business mainly based in remote locations on Vancouver Island. There is only one reason why the industry is based there because open-net farms require sheltered sea water locations for low-cost salmon production. If they are no longer allowed to operate in that way, commercial fish farming companies will just close down and move or expand their salmon operations in other parts of the world. As to land-based total containment fish farming operations, there is no economic rationale in building such expensive facilities on Vancouver Island. Trucking fish food a thousand miles to a remote island land operation just to truck out harvested salmon thousands of miles to markets is a sure-fire recipe for bankruptcy the ferries alone would be a massive burden in costs and time lost. A modest prototype total land-based operation on Vancouver Island has consistently lost money despite receiving $10 million in government grants. The reality is without low-cost open net fish farming the industry is not viable anywhere on the BC coast. The BC government probably understands that eliminating open-net fish farming will be the demise of industry and the loss of jobs in remote coastal areas. They probably also understand that if land-based salmon farming operations are to be successful they will need vast economies of scale, be close to a large source of fish food, and be within reasonable trucking distance to major north American markets. I would suggest that any commercial entity contemplating a vast land-based operation would quickly realize that faraway coastal BC would be the last location on their list. Interestingly, southern Alberta would rank high on the list for a major world-class land-based containment salmon-farming operation. Heres why fish food is a major production cost and due to their carnivorous nature, salmon require some fish oil and fish meal in their fattening diet. Those ingredients were usually available in coastal fishing areas. But Cargill, an animal feed processing company, has developed a strain of Canola that supplies the exact omega oil and meal nutrient requirements as original rendered fish products. That variety of fish food Canola is being grown for Cargill right next door in Montana. No need to haul that feed a thousand miles and ferry rides to remote BC coastal sites if commercial fish farming operations were in southern Alberta. Transportation logistics are also well-developed in southern Alberta thousands of trucks and railcars already transport millions of tons of beef, pork and other food products from Alberta to every part of north America. But there is more.Can you imagine the regulatory and environmental protocol nightmare the BC government and its green group allies would inflict on any commercial sized land-based containment operation proposal. Its not the same, but Alberta already has long experience with commercial intensive meat production with cattle feedlot production and beef processing. Those regulatory, environmental and management processes are a precedent for industrialized fish (feedlot-type) farming. We also have the land, water and low-cost utilities. Heck with all the solar and wind power, Alberta could produce the most sustainable salmon in the world. I would suggest if they are already not doing so the Alberta government in its diversification goals might want to seriously study the potential of salmon feedlot-type farming in Alberta. Providing the right type of incentives might allow Alberta to steal-away a billion-dollar industry from those self-righteous folks in BC. How satisfying that would be. More devious Federal fish policy next time. Will Verboven is an ag opinion writer and ag policy consultant.

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Trudeau to destroy another resource industry in the west but to the chagrin of the Feds Alberta could benefit - Brooks Bulletin

PNGs economy rebounds in 2019, a year in review – POST-COURIER

A rebound in the mining and resource industries helped drive stronger economic growth in Papua New Guinea in 2019, a year which saw Peter ONeills eight-year tenure as prime minister end.

Mr ONeill resigned in late May following a series of policy disputes and defections within the government.

He was replaced on May 30 by James Marape, the former minister of finance.

In a break with his predecessor, Mr Marape has struck a somewhat nationalistic tone since taking office, setting out an agenda to find a more even balance between the interests of investors and Papua New Guineans amid a perception that the country has not adequately benefitted from foreign-funded, resource-based projects in the past.

Elsewhere, the new administration has sought to diversify the economy by prioritising growth in non-resource sectors, small and medium-sized businesses, and the informal economy.

A key pillar of this strategy involves agriculture, with Mr Marape telling OBG in a recent interview that he aims to turn the country into the food bowl for Asia by expanding production and export capabilities.

To this end, the government announced it would invest K200 million ($58.7m) annually in the sector through to 2030, while in late August the EU inaugurated a K340 million ($99.8m) pilot program designed to benefit smallholder farms in East Sepik Province.

Another sign of the new economic approach was revealed in late November with the release of the 2020 budget, the countrys largest ever.

The budget outlined expenditure of K18.7 billion ($5.5bn), 13.3 per cent more than in the 2019 supplementary budget.

Much of the spending will be directed towards capital investment, with a particular focus on electricity, internet and road infrastructure improvements seen as key to unlocking non-resource growth.

While revenue is also expected to reach record levels, the budget foresees a deficit of K4.6 billion ($1.4bn) in 2020, or roughly 5 per cent of GDP.

Resources drive return to growthWhile the economy struggled in 2018, it is projected to grow by 5 per cent in 2019, according to both Treasury estimates and the IMF, the highest rate since 2015.

The sharp increase comes on the back of a 1.1 per cent contraction in GDP in 2018, with expansion heavily affected by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hit the country on February 26 of that year.

In addition to leading to the death of more than 200 people, the earthquake destroyed much of PNGs industrial infrastructure, subsequently halting production of some of the countrys major resource-based projects.

Growth in 2019 was largely driven by a recovery in mining and oil and gas operations as damaged infrastructure was repaired and production at major projects resumed.

Non-resource industries have also recorded improvements.

Non-mining growth is projected to increase by 2.9 per cent over the course of the year, according to Treasury figures, driven by 2.5 per cent growth in agriculture and fisheries.

Project uncertaintyDespite efforts to diversify the economy, much of the countrys longer-term prosperity is still tied to resources.

While these sectors recovered in 2019, they have also been subject to uncertainty.

In a development that is expected to double PNGs liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports by 2024, the government signed an agreement with Total, ExxonMobil and Australian Securities Exchange-listed Oil Search relating to the development of the $13 billion Papua LNG project in April.

However, shortly after taking power, Mr Marape called for a review of the terms of the deal.

Despite announcing in September that it would honour the agreement, the governments approach has led to some concern within the industry.

The Marape administration has also been locked in negotiations with ExxonMobil over the Pnyang gas project.

With the government seeking more favourable terms than previous resources deals, there are fears that a stalemate over Pnyang could delay overall resource development in the country.

Elsewhere, the government has moved to revise the 1992 Mining Act.

Officials are expected to introduce the bill to Parliament in early 2020; anticipated proposals include reforms of the maximum term of mining leases, renewal periods for licences and labour laws.

Bougainville votes for independenceAnother significant political event for 2019 occurred in December, when the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a collection of islands in the Solomon Sea, voted overwhelmingly to break away from PNG in an independence referendum.

Almost 98 per cent of the 180,000-strong voting population voted in favour of independence, rejecting proposals of greater autonomy to remain part of PNG.

Although a blow to PNG, the decision is non-binding, with the final decision to be ratified by Parliament.

A series of lengthy negotiations are expected to determine the terms of the regions departure from PNG, with some analysts predicting that independence may not be realised for a decade.

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PNGs economy rebounds in 2019, a year in review - POST-COURIER

Bringing Consensus Politics Back to Environmental Issues – State of the Planet

The surest sign that environmental protection has moved into the political mainstream around here is Andrew Cuomos now constant articulation of environmental initiatives in New York State. New Yorks Governor has been a politico since he was a teenager working in his fathers political campaigns. Political calculation is hardwired into his approach to governance. In his recent State of the State Address, he announced a $3 billion-dollar environmental bond act that is designed in large measure to help New York adapt to climate change. In addition, Cuomo is investing substantial state resources in a multi-decade effort to modernize and decarbonize the states energy system.

Meanwhile, in our nations capital, our amateur politician President Donald Trump is continuing to claim that human-induced climate change is a hoax and is busy reducing the rigor of any environmental regulation that lobbyists can put in front of him. His goal is to promote the use of fossil fuels. He attacks wind energy, energy conservation and water conservation policy while promoting pipelines, coal mines and the fossil fuels he sees as central to a muscular American economy. He is convinced that environmental regulation prevents businesses from creating jobs. His view of this is stuck in a time warp dating to about 1980 that does not recognize the vigor and market strength of the growing green economy. He also seems willing to ignore the broad American consensus supporting environmental sustainability.

The politics that underlie all of this are obvious. As always, Trumps main political concern is his base. According to a March 2019 Gallup poll, six in ten Americans want to see America reduce its use of fossil fuels, but 58% of all Republicans oppose reductions in fossil fuel use. Significantly, there is an American consensus behind developing renewable energy: 80% of the country favors more development of solar energy and 70% would like to see more wind energy. The presidents recent rant against windmills might reduce support for wind energy by his hard-core supporters, but the country as a whole supports renewable energy.

One target of the Trump Administrations attack on environmental regulation has been the time and cost of analyzing and mitigating the environmental impact of products and projects. The attack on the amount of time major projects are delayed by environmental impact analyses has some basis in reality, although data indicates that most major infrastructure projects are delayed by inadequate financing rather than regulatory roadblocks. If the money is in place to build something it tends to get built. The exception is projects like pipelines that take on symbolic meaning and are opposed for their overall impact on environmental quality. Anti-development efforts are often based on Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) issues raised by those in or near the path of development. These are sometimes based on environmental issues but are just as often based on a conservative impulse to protect what we have and leave things unchanged.

What is missing from all of this is an understanding of the long-term impact of an environmentally damaging product or project and the long-term cost of addressing those impacts. All the poisons we have released into the environment must eventually be contained or cleaned up, and those that we miss often result in health care costs from cancers and diseases caused by toxic substances. The U.S. has spent close to a trillion dollars on toxic waste clean-up since we enacted Superfund in 1980. The military spent hundreds of billions of dollars cleaning up their mess, and the private sector has spent a small fortune making sure that the worst mistakes of toxic mismanagement were remedied. We learned that burying toxic chemicals underground in metal containers didnt work because of a simple phenomenon called rust. And once these chemicals leach into the soil, they eventually reach aquifers and can poison our water and food supply.

Some projects that are delayed or stopped due to anti-development or pro-environment impulses cause short-term pain but long-term gain. A wonderful example was the effort to replace the West Side Highway in New York City with an interstate highway. Had that happened there never would have been a Hudson River Park and the Highline and development of the far west side of Manhattan would have never taken place. Visual and recreational access to the river turned out to produce more economic growth than another superhighway would have generated.

Environmental politics has slipped into the polarized symbolism we see in most of Americas national politics. However, since environmental pollution is directly experienced in our communities, the most important political discussions and decisions tend to take place at the local level. It is easier to build consensus when we are focusing on real impacts rather than symbols. It is also easier to resist the paid lobbyists who make their living off of polarized division since in most cases our local concerns arent important enough to attract their attention. No one wants their children to breathe polluted air, drink water with lead in it, or play in chemically contaminated playgrounds. No one.

The effort to delegitimize science may make it hard for the public to understand the potential impact of particular projects or products. Propaganda messages sometimes dominate the communication of scientific facts. I am afraid we are in for a difficult period where the impacts will only be believed once they arrive. We are now seeing that with climate change. The need to adapt to new conditions is apparent and widely supported. The effort to mitigate climate change is more controversial but gaining support as the impacts become more obvious.

That is the fundamental feature of environmental politics. The battles in Washington may sometimes be over symbols, but conditions on the ground, in our communities are real. The waters are rising, the lead pipes in need of replacement, the air is orange. There is an objective reality that is only denied by the delusional. If we lose the ability to define, describe and communicate that reality we will not be able to manage the new technologies human brainpower can and will invent.

There are honest disagreements over what causes damage and what doesnt. The chemicals and technology of food production are poorly understood, and the food industry has done its best to avoid the kind of transparency and information exchange that would facilitate effective and efficient regulation. Businesses are terrified of engaging in an honest conversation about the costs and benefits of their production processes out of a reasonable fear that such conversations are not possible in todays polarized political culture.

But if we are to move toward an environmentally sustainable economy, we need to be able to discuss the impacts of human activity on the planet with calm, realism and humility. Everything humans do creates an impact and our goal cannot be to eliminate impacts but reduce them. It is in our interest as a species to permit economic development so that all humans can benefit from the wonders and bounty of the modern world. My view is that political stability and public safety requires continued economic development. But it is also important that the high throughput economy many of us benefit from moves toward becoming a circular and renewable resource-based economy. To do this we need to study, understand and measure our environmental impacts. We then need to discuss them and reduce negative impacts through rules and better management.

Environmental protection must move out of the arena of symbolic politics. Our national politics is completely focused on symbols, manipulation of image, defining reality and achieving power. But we are living, organic creatures. Our health is an objective reality and while symbols impact our mind and indirectly our body, one cant wish illness away. Just as in health care, we can and will disagree about the methods used to protect our planet or our body. But the need for such protection is beyond dispute.

In the blue-red political world weve created we need to remember the values we share and our interdependency. As individuals and families, we can do a great deal to create the world we want to make for ourselves. But we also require the collective resources that can only be achieved by a community. We depend on each other for clean air, clean water, healthy food and protection from floods and fire. Governor Andrew Cuomos $3 billion-dollar bond proposal will provide some of the resources New Yorks governments need to build resilient communities. Perhaps some day soon our national government will do the same.

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Bringing Consensus Politics Back to Environmental Issues - State of the Planet

B.C. cheers high tech in its rural communities – but financial support is missing – The Globe and Mail

The commitment to the high-tech initiative is in the mandate letter given to Bruce Ralston, seen here in Legislature on Feb. 19, 2013, when he was named minister of jobs, trade and technology in 2017.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Globe and Mail

For more than a century, the community of Trail in B.C.s Kootenays has been a mining town. More recently, it has landed the MIDAS Fab Lab, a business incubator for startup companies that is helping diversify the regions economy through research and development of digital fabrication industries.

Since opening a little more than three years ago, the lab has provided skills training for more than 100 workers, supported the development of more than 90 prototypes, created or expanded a dozen businesses and helped generate $3-million in sales.

Its precisely the kind of high-tech initiative the B.C. government says the province needs.

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The commitment is in the mandate letter given to Bruce Ralston when he was named minister of jobs, trade and technology in 2017: Establish B.C. as a preferred location for new and emerging technologies by supporting venture capital investment in B.C. startups ... [and] ensure that the benefits of technology and innovation are felt around the province.

But, ahead of the Feb. 18 provincial budget that Finance Minister Carole James is determined to balance, government has been trimming its contributions to help expand the tech industry especially in rural communities. Funding for Innovate BC is drying up, while the Rural Dividend Fund has been suspended.

In the Kootenays, those dollars helped develop the MIDAS lab and the soon-to-open Nelson Innovation Centre. Those are just some of the tech projects designed to help B.C.'s rural communities typically built on boom-and-bust natural-resource industries become more economically resilient.

The high-tech industry in the Kootenays is generating half a billion dollars a year in economic activity, said Cam Whitehead, executive director of the Kootenay Association for Science & Technology. These are higher paying jobs, and theyre driving wealth to smaller communities."

But the barriers to success are higher than in urban areas.

These are small businesses in rural communities, he said in an interview. They dont have the opportunity to connect with all of the resources, which are centred in the Lower Mainland and larger urban centres. This is a huge opportunity to drive a transition from the traditional natural resource-based economy to one which is fully in line with transitioning to a clean economy in the digital age.

The B.C. Rural Dividend program was established under the former Liberal government to help small communities strengthen and diversify their local economies. The NDP government suspended it, describing it as a slush fund.

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Mr. Whitehead doesnt care what the program is called, he is just hoping the province will find some funding to help carry on with the good work it was producing.

It wasnt perfect, but its delivered so much, to so many. The eligibility was broad and that was great. It was flexible for technology and innovation projects in our area.

Mr. Ralston was not available for comment, but a spokesman for the ministry said the money has been rerouted to helping forestry communities that are facing a dramatic downsizing.

With regard to the Rural Dividend Fund, Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development staff have retained those applications and are assisting in redirecting them to other sources wherever possible," Lori Cascaden said in a statement.

Jill Tipping, president and CEO of the BC Tech Association, raised the alarm about B.C.'s low investments in high tech last year, which threatened to force a Vancouver-based business incubator to close its doors. After The Globe and Mail reported on the potential loss, the federal government stepped in with crucial dollars to avert the closure.

She said the province has since offered encouragement, but little in the way of financial support.

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The tech sector is thriving, but could be doing even better both in urban settings and in rural settings," she said in an interview.

While B.C. is pinching pennies in high-tech support, Alberta and Ontario are spending far more to attract tech growth. Ms. Tipping said it should not be difficult sell: For every dollar invested in B.C. technology industries, governments collect more than $10 in tax revenue.

Government has a role to promote growth and stability and to provide the necessary infrastructure. And so, when people say to me, We cant afford it, my response is, you cant afford not to, she said. Yes, we need balanced budgets and we need to manage spending, but we also need to be preparing for the future.

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B.C. cheers high tech in its rural communities - but financial support is missing - The Globe and Mail

Hello, Hanover – The Post – Ontario

Winters in Hanover are a breeze.That was my first impression about this area, when my fiance and I moved here for work-related reasons, a little over a year ago.Sure, the snow is still wet and chilly here, the cool air still forces one to bundle up in extra clothing and warmth, but a winter here is not a Sudbury winter. Thats an entirely different and frosty animal. Northern cold.Theres only two seasons in Sudbury winter and construction season. Thats a common joke made around the city, anyway. However, itd be more accurate to say there are about eight months of winter and four months of construction, after the citys roads get wrecked by the long winter season.See, Sudbury, or Nickel City, or the Bury, as many locals refer to it as, is a northern city known for its rich history in mining, however, the city has expanded from its resource-based economy, and has emerged as a major retail, economic, health and educational centre for Northeastern Ontario.Sudbury is also home to one of Canadas best-known landmarks the Big Nickel, its numerous lakes (theres more than 60), Science North, its re-greening project and its city-wide adoration for the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League, just to name a few. Oh, and its also my hometown.After roughly 10 years of writing as a freelance journalist for the Sudbury Star newspaper, and with a public relations and journalism degree from Cambrian College tucked into my back pocket, Im here, in Hanover, as a full-time multimedia journalist for The Post.Back in Sudbury, I covered everything from sports, to hard-hitting news, like politics, court, city council, etc. Thatll be the same here.Covering sports is what initially interested me in a career in journalism, as I was raised in a sports-oriented family. Both of my brothers played hockey growing up, and I was no different. Heck, even my father coached hockey for a bit, too. Every Saturday, like many Canadians, mom, dad and the three boys were glued to the television for Hockey Night in Canada.Hockey, though, was always more of a pastime for us, and as weve aged, weve all branched out into different careers. One brother is a chef in our nations capital, while the other is a mechanic in Sudbury.At 18 years old, I became the sports editor for the Cambrian Shield, a now defunct and student-ran online-only newspaper for Cambrian College. During the two-year span of journalism school is when I began freelancing for the Sudbury Star, after the then sports editor, Bruce Heidman, convinced me to start writing for the local paper.Fast-forward all those years later to now and, well, here I am a more well-rounded journalist, with some additional experience in this field to my name, to go along with a laid-back, free-spirit personality.Since our arrival in Hanover, Ive come to appreciate the close-knit, family-feel of a small town and the trust among neighbours.It helps, too, selfishly-speaking, that weve added to our small family since our arrival, with the addition of two kittens, and that can only be regarded as a positive.This opportunity as a full-fledged journalist is many years in the making, and I couldnt be more excited to get started.Journalism isnt about me. Its about you and the community. So, to that, I say, lets get started and share your stories together.Hello, Hanover.kdempse@postmedia.comTwitter: @keith_dempsey

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Hello, Hanover - The Post - Ontario

Carbon pricing: Research on carbon taxes and cap-and-trade – Journalist’s Resource

In the lead-up to the 2020 elections, theJournalists Resource team is combing through the Democratic presidential candidates platforms and reporting what the research says about their policy proposals. We want to encourage deep coverage of these proposals and do our part to help deterhorse race journalism, which research suggests can lead to inaccurate reporting and an uninformed electorate. Were focusing on proposals that have a reasonable chance of becoming policy. For us, that means at least 3 of the 5 top-polling candidates say they intend to tackle the issue. Heres what the research says about carbon pricing.

Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Andrew Yang

Carbon pricing schemes put a financial price on carbon emission. They are widely portrayed in the economic literature as an effective way to reduce carbon emissions from high-carbon emitting industries, such as certain types of energy production. Academics and politicians often frame carbon pricing not as a cure-all, but rather as one part of a broader strategy to slow or reverse rising global temperatures.

Rising temperatures caused by climate change could cost the U.S. economy many billions of dollars. A 2017 paper in Science projects that for every 1.8 degree Fahrenheit average temperature increase in the U.S., gross domestic product will fall by 1.2% yearly equal to roughly $233 billion at todays GDP.

Poorer areas of the country could be hit hardest, according to the paper. By the end of this century, under business-as-usual emissions, the poorest third of U.S. counties are likely to lose between 2% and 20% of current income that residents earn, the authors write. The richest third of counties could lose up to 6.8% of income, according to the authors estimates or gain 1.2%.

The Science paper offers one estimate of the effect of climate change on U.S. economic output, or productivity, as measured by GDP. Another paper by two Environmental Protection Agency staffers, published April 2019 in Nature Climate Change, looks at costs related to infrastructure, health, agriculture and other sectors across two scenarios.

The first scenario where the average global temperature is trending toward 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher in 2100 compared with pre-Industrial Revolution levels would come with about $170 billion in annual costs by 2050 across the 22 sectors the authors analyzed.

The second scenario heading toward an average global temperature in 2100 thats 8 degrees Fahrenheit higher than pre-industrial levels would come with about $206 billion in annual costs across those sectors by 2050. The estimates dont include potential cost savings from adaptation measures, such as creating dunes to protect beaches or building levees to divert floodwater, which can reduce infrastructure damages.

Aside from estimating the costs of rising global temperatures, economists have also come up with two big market-based ideas to address climate change and put a price on carbon emissions: Carbon taxes and cap-and-trade.

Carbon taxes put an initial financial burden on entities that emit carbon as part of their regular business. Think a coal-fired electricity plant. Under carbon tax schemes, governments set the price of pollution while markets determine the amount of pollution companies can pollute and pay the tax or reduce emissions to avoid it.

There are carbon taxes in other countries but not in the U.S. Some academics have argued that there is already a kind of carbon tax borne by people, not companies in the sense that some parts of the U.S. experience substantial economic losses from climate change, like from more severe storms that cause billions of dollars in property damage.

In practice, businesses could pass along the cost of a carbon tax to consumers. If a refinery that produces heating oil pays a tax for emitting carbon, customers might end up paying higher prices for home heating oil.

To some economists, this is not a bug but a feature: higher prices would lower demand for carbon-intensive fuels. In some countries, revenues from carbon pricing programs are disbursed to households to help pay higher fuel prices, according to an October 2019 paper in Climate Change and Renewable Energy.

Cap-and-trade puts a cap on overall carbon emissions levels. Unlike carbon taxes, where governments set the price and markets determine the amount of pollution, under cap-and-trade governments set an amount of allowable pollution while markets set the price.

The emissions cap is divided into credits and governments then sell those credits to companies that pollute. Companies that pollute under the cap can sell their credits to entities that pollute more. Part of the appeal is that as the cap lowers over time, so does the number of credits, incentivizing companies to pollute less.

A national carbon tax is a popular idea among some economists and policymakers in the U.S. More than 3,500 economists from across the political spectrum, including 27 Nobel laureates, support a carbon tax plan that would give dividends directly to Americans. But so far, jurisdictions in the U.S. have gone with cap-and-trade strategies over carbon taxes.

Michael Bennet, Deval Patrick and Elizabeth Warren have indicated to The Washington Post they might pursue carbon pricing as president, but none have released firm policy statements in support of carbon pricing schemes. Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard would not pursue carbon pricing as president, according to the Post.

In June 1990, Colorado State University economist Jo Burges Barbier wrote in a paper in Energy Policy that further policy instruments and considerations beyond carbon pricing alone were needed to curtail carbon emissions from the energy sector.

The EPAs Acid Rain Program in 1995 became the first national cap-and-trade effort. It seeks to reduce airborne sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides coming from power plants.

Acid rain happens when those pollutants get into the atmosphere, then fall to the ground through precipitation like rain or snow, contaminating waterways and crops. Since the programs introduction, acid deposits have decreased 30% across the Midwest and Northeast and the program prevents an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 premature deaths each year, according to the EPA.

Another national cap-and-trade program was the NOx Budget Trading Program, which operated during the 2000s and sought to reduce nitrogen oxides from power plants during the summer.

But a national cap-and-trade program failed in 2010, in part because opponents rebranded it cap-and-tax, making the idea politically unpalatable. No national cap-and-trade program has come close to passing Congress since.

Though now defunct, the NOx Budget Trading Program prevented nearly 2,000 summertime deaths each year in participating states, most of them along the east coast, according to a 2017 analysis in the American Economic Review.

Harvard University economist Robert Stavins assesses the state of carbon pricing in a May 2019 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. He writes that economists have reached consensus that pricing systems such as carbon taxes and cap-and-trade will be key to reducing carbon dioxide emissions:

There is widespread agreement among economists and a diverse set of other policy analysts that at least in the long run, an economy-wide carbon pricing system will be an essential element of any national policy that can achieve meaningful reductions of [carbon dioxide] emissions cost-effectively in the United States.

States have taken up the cap-and-trade baton in the last decade or so. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative covers nine New England and Mid-Atlantic states and set its first carbon cap for the power sector in 2009. Since then, greenhouse gases have fallen 40% in those states, and theyre aiming for another 30% reduction by 2030. The initiative has raised $2.7 billion, which has been invested into wind and solar power generation, and to help low-income people pay their energy bills.

Power plants across those nine states generate about 112,000 megawatts less each month than plants in other states, and they emit 286 fewer tons of sulfur dioxide and 131 fewer tons of nitrogen oxides per month, according to a May 2019 paper in Energy Economics. However, that analysis finds the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative had a causal effect only on reductions of sulfur dioxide emissions, not nitrogen oxides.

Californias cap-and-trade program began in 2006 and the legislature extended it in 2017. It has an emissions cap affecting 80% of greenhouse gases coming from about 450 of the states biggest polluters.

That program has demonstrated the feasibility and effectiveness of an economy-wide approach, compared with sectoral systems, write economists Richard Schmalensee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stavins of Harvard in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

California reports it is on track to beat its initial target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and is aiming for emissions levels 40% under 1990 levels by 2030.

But the California cap-and-trade program may be distributing benefits, like cleaner air, unequally. Companies that emit greenhouse gases there tend to be located in areas where more people live in poverty, but the program hasnt led to environmental benefits in those neighborhoods, according to a July 2018 analysis in PLOS Medicine.

In fact, greenhouse gas emissions in neighborhoods near polluters actually increased from 2013 to 2015, compared with 2011 to 2012, the authors find. They peg overall greenhouse gas reductions to the state importing less electricity from coal-fired plants.

Emissions reductions also vary widely by industry, the authors find. Seventy percent of certain power plants reduced emissions over the period studied, while 75% of cement plants increased emissions. A glut of credits on the market may keep lower-income California communities from enjoying the environmental benefits of cap-and-trade.

Some experts also caution that California is markedly dissimilar from most states. California has a strong, mostly popular, single-party majority in its legislature, so its an easier lift politically to experiment with market-based emissions reduction strategies.

Utilities in the state are also largely on board with addressing climate change, even through regulation. The state doesnt rely much on coal to produce energy, while many other states do.

Because California is a unique case in several respects, it is unlikely that other states in the U.S. will be able to adopt similar systems, Guri Bang, research director at the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo, and her co-authors write in a 2017 article in Global Environmental Politics.

Finally, on the global scale, there is the free-rider problem.

Right now theres no prospect of an enforceable, international cap-and-trade system that could put a meaningful dent in global carbon emissions. There are too many hurdles to mention, but one of them is that countries would probably want higher emissions ceilings for themselves, but lower emissions ceilings for the rest of the world, as the late Harvard economist Martin Weitzman explained in a June 2019 article in Environmental and Resource Economics.

In other words, countries want to reap the environmental benefits of carbon reduction without paying the price they want a free ride.

Still, people in countries with carbon pricing programs can reap monetary benefits.

A 2016 paper in Energy Policy analyzed real-world carbon tax and cap-and-trade programs and found that policymakers earmark 70% of revenues from cap-and-trade to climate-friendly efforts, while 72% of revenues from carbon tax systems there are several in Europe are refunded to people or put into government general funds.

Policy perspective: Building political support for carbon pricing Lessons from cap-and-trade policies

Leigh Raymond. Energy Policy, November 2019.

The gist: This review of long running cap-and-trade programs suggests that a new idea in carbon pricing the idea of a carbon dividend in the form of an equal per capita payment to all citizens is consistent with the successful public benefits strategy discussed here.

Perceived fairness and public acceptability of carbon pricing: A review of the literature

Sara Maestre-Andrs, Stefan Drews, Jeroen van den Bergh. Climate Policy, July 2019.

The gist: Somewhat surprisingly, most studies do not indicate clear public preferences for using revenues to ensure fairer policy outcomes, notably by reducing its regressive effects. Instead, many people prefer using revenues for environmental projects of various kinds.

Carbon pricing and energy efficiency: Pathways to deep decarbonization of the US electric sector

Marilyn A. Brown, Yufei Li. Energy Efficiency, February 2019

The gist: Our modeling results suggest that carbon taxes coupled with strong energy-efficiency policies would produce synergistic effects that could meet deep decarbonization goals.

Marilyn Brown, professor of sustainable systems, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Jo Burgess Barbier, assistant professor of economics, Colorado State University.

Noah Kaufman, research scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

Gilbert Metcalf, professor of economics, Tufts University.

Leigh S. Raymond, professor of political science, Purdue University.

Robert Stavins, professor of energy and economic development, Harvard University.

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Carbon pricing: Research on carbon taxes and cap-and-trade - Journalist's Resource

Ghana And World Bank Sign $570 Million Agreement | Banking/Finance – Peace FM Online

Ghana and the World Bank on Friday signed four agreements, totalling nearly $570 million aimed to transform the economy, boost education, improve sanitation and fight flooding in Accra as well as reduce forest losses.

Out of the total commitment for the four projects, $557 million is in loans and just over $12 million in grants.

The Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development project is a $200 million, multi-sector and transformative urban project which aims to support Greater Accra to become a cleaner, safer and more resilient city.

It focuses on reducing flood risk along the Odaw urban river basin and three selected low-income communities: Nima, Alogboshie and Akweteman.

Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project is $150 million for 6 years, which has the development objective to improve the quality of education in low performing basic education schools and strengthen education sector equity and accountability in Ghana.

The objective of the $200m Ghana Economic Transformation Project is to promote private investments and firm growth in non-resource-based sectors of the Ghanaian economy. The project will work towards improving the business environment to facilitate firm growth and investments.

The final project is the Additional Financing for the Ghana Forest Investment Programme, which is a $12.4 million grant and $7 million loan project. It seeks to reduce forest loss and degradation in selected landscapes in Ghanas High Forest Zone, where deforestation is at the highest.

Finance Minister Mr Ken Ofori-Atta and Mr Pierre Laporte, the World Bank Country signed the deal on behalf of Ghana and the World Bank respectively.

In his address Mr Ofori-Atta commended the World Bank for its support, saying the projects would help to advance governments quest for inclusiveness and transformation.

He said since the government came into office some three years ago, the goal has been to accelerate the pace of development and ensuring that no one was left behind.

However, this could not be done without focus on wealth creation, which is key to ensuring sustainability.

He said government has proven to Ghanaians its desire of inclusiveness through flagship programmes such as the one district one factory and the free SHS programme.

Mr Ofori-Atta urged development partners not to slow down the process because of an election year because the government was desirous to move forward development.

On his part, Mr Laporte said the event affirmed the banks commitment to the government and Ghanaians through the signing of the legal Agreements of the four important and potentially transformative projects.

We have a longstanding and strong partnership with the Government and the people of Ghana. The World Bank is committed to strengthening our partnership even further going forward, he said.

We will work with you hand in hand to ensure that these projects, as well as others already ongoing, are implemented timely and effectively. This will, in turn, result in efficient use of resources, achieve the projects objectives, and most importantly positively impact the lives of the people, communities and institutions, he added.

He said project delays were costly, and encouraged the teams to identify implementation challenges and work collaboratively with other government organizations as well as with the Bank teams to resolve them.

One important aspect of the implementation process is feedback from beneficiaries. Implementing entities thus need to ensure there are functional grievance redress mechanisms and strong citizens engagement for all projects as they contribute to effective, efficient and sustainable delivery and outcomes, Mr Laporte.

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Ghana And World Bank Sign $570 Million Agreement | Banking/Finance - Peace FM Online

Focus on demand creation reforms in budget: PHDCCI to govt – ETAuto.com

MSME exporters must be fully exempted from tax on their export earnings as this will enhance the exporters' motivation and strengthen their competitiveness in the global markets. New Delhi: PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the government that demand rejuvenating reforms should be the major focus area of the forthcoming Union Budget 2020-21.

Demand creation reforms will push the broad based recovery of the economy and create an environment of enthusiasm to become a US $5 trillion economy, going forward, D K Aggarwal, president, PHDCCI said in a press statement covering the broad pre-budget expectation of the industry chamber.

At this juncture, rationalisation of direct taxes and an income tax exemption upto the level of income of Rs 5 lakhs will be a great breakthrough to enhance the personal disposable income of the individuals and to increase the consumption demand in the economy, said Aggarwal.

With no personal income tax applicable upto the income of Rs 5 lakhs for the individuals, income tax slabs should be rationalised to 10 per cent for people earning upto Rs 10 lakhs per year, 20 per cent for those with incomes of over Rs 10 lakhs and upto Rs 20 lakhs, 30 per cent for income over Rs 20 lakhs and upto Rs 2 crore and 35 per cent for individuals earning more than Rs 2 crore, he said.

Access to finance is a major roadblock being faced by the industries particularly by the MSMEs impacting their competitiveness and growth. To address the liquidity crunch in MSMEs, there is a need to set up a dedicated fund of Rs 25,000 crore or more with no collateral being asked for the MSMEs, PHDCCI has said.

Long term Capital Gains Tax on shares is suggested at 10 per cent for the holding period after one year, 5 per cent after two years and zero per cent after three years as when STT was levied it was in lieu of exempting long term capital gains tax.

Around 95 per cent of MSMEs are in Proprietorship/Partnerships business. They are not getting any relief from the recent cut in corporate tax rates. So at this juncture we suggest a uniform tax rate of 25 per cent to such businesses, going forward, Aggarwal said.

To kick-start the exports growth trajectory, the PHDCCI president suggested increase in export earnings by the exporters on the base of the previous year (year-on-year earnings) should be tax free.

MSME exporters must be fully exempted from tax on their export earnings as this will enhance the exporters' motivation and strengthen their competitiveness in the global markets.

For doubling farmers' income, a properly designed market support scheme for agricultural produce and dismantling of barriers to markets for farmers must be pursued, the chamber has suggested.

APMC should be dismantled and e-NAM should become the vehicle for farmers' produce across the states.

Aggarwal also urged for increase in public healthcare spending to at least 3 per cent of GDP with increase in annual budget each year for delivery of better health services to the people.

Health centres should be made available within the radius of one kilometer and hospitals within the radius of 10 km, said Aggarwal.

There is a need to initiate work on inclusive and approachable education with a spending of at least 4.5 per cent of GDP on education, he added.

A robust analysis of current skill gaps to promote effective skill development should be undertaken to create more and more employment opportunities for the growing workforce in the country.

Skill Mapping must be done to scientifically plan human resource needs in the different sectors of the economy.

--IANS

sn/rt

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Focus on demand creation reforms in budget: PHDCCI to govt - ETAuto.com

Union Budget 2020 | PHDCCI urges govt to focus on demand creation reforms in budget – Jagran English

Publish Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2020 12:00 PM IST

New Delhi | Jagran Business Desk: Ahead of the Budget 2020, the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked the government to focus on demand creation reforms forthcoming Union Budget 2020-21.

PHDCCI President DK Aggarwal in a statement said that the demand creation reforms will push the broad based recovery of the economy and create an environment of enthusiasm to become a USD 5 trillion economy, going forward.

At this juncture, rationalisation of direct taxes and an income tax exemption upto the level of income of Rs 5 lakhs will be a great breakthrough to enhance the personal disposable income of the individuals and to increase the consumption demand in the economy, Aggarwal, quoted by news agency IANS, said.

With no personal income tax applicable upto the income of Rs 5 lakhs for the individuals, income tax slabs should be rationalised to 10 per cent for people earning upto Rs 10 lakhs per year, 20 per cent for those with incomes of over Rs 10 lakhs and upto Rs 20 lakhs, 30 per cent for income over Rs 20 lakhs and upto Rs 2 crore and 35 per cent for individuals earning more than Rs 2 crore, he added.

Aggarwal further said that the increased expenditure of the government to enhance consumption demand along with implementation of Rs 102 lakh crore National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) has the potential to push economic growth trajectory to more than 8 per cent in the next three years.

Talking about liquidity crunch in MSMEs. Aggarwal said that the government need to set up a dedicated fund of Rs 25,000 crore or more with no collateral being asked for the MSMEs.

Around 95 per cent of MSMEs are in Proprietorship/Partnerships business. They are not getting any relief from the recent cut in corporate tax rates. So at this juncture we suggest a uniform tax rate of 25 per cent to such businesses, going forward, he said.

Aggarwal also spoke about the exports growth trajectory and suggested that increase in export earnings by the exporters on the base of the previous year (year-on-year earnings) should be tax free.

The PHDCCI President also urged the government to increase the spending in the public healthcare sector to at least 3 per cent of GDP with increase in annual budget each year for delivery of better health services to the people.

Health centres should be made available within the radius of one kilometer and hospitals within the radius of 10 km, said Aggarwal.

There is a need to initiate work on inclusive and approachable education with a spending of at least 4.5 per cent of GDP on education, he added.

A robust analysis of current skill gaps to promote effective skill development should be undertaken to create more and more employment opportunities for the growing workforce in the country.

Skill Mapping must be done to scientifically plan human resource needs in the different sectors of the economy.

(With IANS inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma

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Union Budget 2020 | PHDCCI urges govt to focus on demand creation reforms in budget - Jagran English

Shadowfax Ties Up With ASSOCHAM To Upskill And Employ Youth Under The Skill India Mission – IndianWeb2.com

Ritika Singh, Maninder Singh, Ajay Sharma, Praharsh Chandra, Saurabh Sharma, Kumaresan.B

Shadowfax, Indias only crowdsourced, cross-category, full-stack logistics platform, has joined hands with the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India, ASSOCHAM, in a first-of-its-kind and an exclusive partnership to promote micro entrepreneurship in gig economy under the aegis of Government of Indias Skill India Mission initiative.

With the gig economy gaining traction, logistics and delivery are the sunshine sectors providing immense employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. Under this partnership, ASSOCHAM, which is an independent body, will work closely with the government to create awareness about the benefits of working in this attractive sector and the right candidates shall be trained as per government standards to make them employment ready for the delivery & hospitality sector.

Once trained, these fully skilled human resources will be provided business and entrepreneurship opportunities in delivery sector through the crowdsourced Shadowfax logistics platform. This first-of-its-kind socio-economic association is expected to create an additional resource pool of 1.6 lakh trained delivery personnel in the course of next two years across India including metros, tier 2, tier 3 cities and even rural areas.

Sharing the details of the partnership, Saurabh Sharma, V.P. Growth & Expansion, Shadowfax said, We are privileged to partnerwith ASSOCHAM in this socio-economic initiative under the Skill India mission. The Shadowfax delivery partners are all microentrepreneurs who, if they choose to, rewrite their destiny a little better every day. This partnership which seeks to upskill more than 150000 youth to make them employable, is in line with our corporate social mission to create a million microentrepreneurs by 2023. It is also in sync with our business goal to increase our footprints to a 600+ Indian cities and towns as the project will provide us a ready pool of trained delivery partners from across India including metros, tier 2-3 cities and towns and even rural areas including parts of J&K and North-East India. We expect this Shadowfax-ASSOCHAM partnership to set an exemplary instance of the best kind of socio-corporate tie-up.

Speaking on the occasion, Maninder Singh Nayyar, Co-Chairman, Skill & Entrepreneurship ASSOCHAM, said, ASSOCHAM has found a worthy partner in Shadowfax, a company which believes in not only providing gainful employment but also in sowing the seeds of entrepreneurship in its workforce. Upskilling alone does not help our youth, they need enough business opportunities to prove their mettle. Our partnership with Shadowfax will provide our trained youth right and ample opportunities to make their mark. The project alone is expected to add approximately 20% more delivery personnel to the existing pool with reputed organizations like Bal Bharti Academy also supporting this initiative at pan India level.

Ajay Sharma, Assistant Secretary General, ASSOCHAM, added, GOI has allocated handsome amount for skill development under various programs. ASSOCHAM will identify and train each selected youth as per standards set out by the government under the aegis of this initiative. The project is expected to add approximately 2 lakh delivery personnel to the current 10 lakh+ community.

About Shadowfax

Shadowfax Indias largest crowdsourced logistics platform, was established in 2015 withthe vision of enabling commerce by empowering lives for everyone, everywhere. The Shadowfax technology platform optimizes for best-in-class partner efficiency and uniteconomics. Its AI based location processing engine, using location data from orderprocessing, enables highest service levels among its competitors. Driven by a massiveword-of-mouth growth in the India market, Shadowfax has the lowest partner acquisition cost in its segment. Shadowfax APIs are available for small as well as enterprise businesses throughout India for seamless and trustworthy logistics service.

About ASSOCHAM

ASSOCHAM initiated its endeavour of value creation for Indian industry in 1920. Having in its fold over 400 Chambers and Trade Associations and serving over 4.5 lakh members across India. ASSOCHAM has emerged as the fountainhead of Knowledge for Indian industry, which is all set to redefine the dynamics of growth and development in the Knowledge Based Economy.

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Shadowfax Ties Up With ASSOCHAM To Upskill And Employ Youth Under The Skill India Mission - IndianWeb2.com

Timipre Sylva: Nigeria to focus on five critical areas in oil and gas sector in 2020 – TODAY NEWS AFRICA

The Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, on Thursday, held his first major press conference in Abuja since he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, and rolled out the five critical areas of focus for oil and gas sector in Africas most populous nation in the year 2020.

Theformer governorofBayelsa Statein Southern Nigeria expressed optimism that both the Petroleum Industry Governance, Administration & Host Communities Bill on one hand, and the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill on the other, will be passed within the first anniversary of the Buhari administrations second term in office.

His confidence, he explained, was based on the current harmony between the Executive and Legislative arms of the Government.

President Muhammadu Buhari won a second term of four years in 2019, with his All Progressives Congress (APC) sweeping both chambers of the National Assembly.

That victory gave Mr. Buhari, 77, the backing he lacked in his first term when Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara rose to defeat his preferred candidates and antagonized him until the very last minute.

On the PIB, or Petroleum Industry Bill, which is the first priority of Mr. Sylva, he said a special focus will be placed on the Midstream and Downstream sectors.

Consequently, we are considering two regulators, one for the Upstream (the Commission) and another for the Midstream & Downstream (the Authority), he said, adding that the Midstream and Downstream sectors will particularly open enormous opportunities to local investors and create massive job opportunities in the country.

For example, investments will be available in pipeline engineering design, procurement & construction, terminal operations, pipe mills, fabrication of pressure vessels, storage facilities, pipe transportation and laying equipments, Refineries, Central Processing Facilities and also investment in Gas-based industries (Fertilizer, Methanol, Petrochemicals, LPG and CNG) etc. Open access for oil and gas transportation will be fully enhanced, he said.

On the upstream side, we are coming up with more robust fiscal provision, acreage management, drilling-or-drop program, etc. We are not only going to retain investors, multitudes will join the leagues of high-value operators, the Minister added.

Mr. Sylva explained that his second point agenda would be to address security challenges around oil and gas installations, specifically to curtail theft of petroleum products and crude oil.

He said the crude theft was being currently contained with legislation, security, surveillance, community engagement and diplomacy.

Mr. Sylva explained that oil theft lingers because of the presence of an active market for stolen crude and products, a weak measurement and surveillance mechanism, weak and inadequate sanctions, low cost and high incentive for theft as well as lack of infrastructural development.

As a solution, he proposed to use technology for pro-active leak detection and community participation in the oil and gas assets, as well as engage PTI in the training of unemployed youths in the region.

In addition, the government would have to revamp security architecture, increase supply to underserved areas, provide good infrastructure in the regions where oil is exploited and give incentives to host communities.

This would not be complete without increasing community stake-holding, designing and enforcing stiffer legislations and mobilizing global community, traders, refiners, regulators and international groups.

His third agenda, he said, would be to enable the operations of the National Oil company as a responsive commercial enterprise

Mr. Sylva said various transformation processes were currently ongoing in NNPC Growing from Business Unit Focus Areas (12 BUFAs) to Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE). We are considering the Incorporation of NNPC and its existing Joint Venture Companies.

In addition, his fourth priority would be to conduct bid rounds for marginal and opportunities within 2020 and to ensure settlement of dispute with partners and pave way for FID on major capital projects.

New Gridding, acreage management and bidding process are thoroughly elucidated in the upcoming Petroleum Industry Bills. It is therefore highly desirable that the Bills are passed before any bid round. This is one of the reason we implore Nigerians to support us in our quest to pass the bills in earnest, Mr. Sylva said.

His fifth priority would be to deepen domestic gas utilization and overall monetization of gas resource.

As you are aware, Natural gas has the capacity to transform an economy. We have seen successful examples all over the world. Qatar has the worlds highest GDP per Capita its growth anchored on natural gas. Saudi Arabia has positioned itself as the worlds hub for petrochemicals, creating significant job opportunities and enabling industrialization of the country, he said.

He added: Nigerias gas reserves is significant. Nigeria current 2P gas estimate is about 202TCF with potential for up to 600TCF in undiscovered resources. With the undiscovered potential, Nigeria could be in the same league as Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Recognizing the potential of our enormous natural gas resources and the unprecedented growth in domestic gas demand, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources over the years has championed various interventions to stimulate gas utilization and monetization.

This led to the Gas Master-Plan Policy initiative where detailed major gas infrastructure expansion and integration, gas supply development projects, revamp of the commercial framework for gas and tactical efforts to accelerate gas supply to Power sector, in addition to our gas industrialization strategy for investments in Fertilizer, Methanol, Petrochemical, CNG and LPG are fully stated.

Also the Ministry of Petroleum Resources is driving the Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialization Program (NGFCP). This initiative is designed as the strategy to implement policy objective of the FGN for the elimination of gas flares with potentially enormous multiplier and development outcomes for Nigeria. The objective of the NGFCP is to eliminate gas flaring through technically and commercially sustainable gas utilisation projects developed by competent third party investors who will be invited to participate in a competitive and transparent bid process.

The Federal Executive Council in June 2016 approved the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Program (NGFCP).

The Federal Government ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and is a signatory to the Global Gas Flaring Partnership (GGFR) principles for global flare-out by 2030 whilst committing to a national flare-out target by year 2020.

In November 2018, the Federal Government of Nigeria called for Expression of Interest (EoI) in the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Program (NGFCP).

Over 850 interested parties registered their interest in the NGFCP. 205 Applicants emerged successful and all 205 companies will be invited to submit their proposal for flare gas utilization through the Request for Proposals (RfP) phase of the NGFCP, Mr. Sylva said.

He added that the commercialization approach has been considered from legal, technical, economic, commercial and developmental standpoints.

It is a unique and historic opportunity to attract major investment in economically viable gas flare capture projects whilst permanently addressing a 60 year environmental problem in Nigeria.

About US$ 3.5 billion worth of inward investments is required to achieve the gas flare commercialization targets by 2020.

The analysis also shows that the NGFCP will deliver significant social and economic benefits to host communities in gas-rich regions of the Niger Delta, to investors and to the national economy. Benefits would include, he added.

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Timipre Sylva: Nigeria to focus on five critical areas in oil and gas sector in 2020 - TODAY NEWS AFRICA

Digital citizen rights need to have teeth for Canada to succeed in data-driven economy – The Globe and Mail

Alex Benay, Partner, Digital and Government Solutions, KPMG in Canada

Over the past decade, the world has steadily been shifting from a resource-based economy to a data-driven one. This transition is having major effects on countries all over the world.

In many jurisdictions, the digital economy represents a massive growth opportunity. But at the same time, the common thinking is that it also poses significant risks to citizens commercialization of private data, cyberbreaches, identity theft and inequality owing to the lack of connectivity in many regions. It seems that for every digital economy opportunity, there is a digital risk to a citizen.

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Based on the online rhetoric, it appears as though one needs to choose between the two growth or rights.

But there should be no tension between the concepts of expanding our digital economy while simultaneously creating new digital citizen rights. But for this to be true in Canada, we need action from both the private and public sector. Otherwise, the world is changing at such a rapid pace that we are at risk of being left behind as both a country and as digital citizens.

So what are basic digital rights? For starters, they are laws not policy instruments. Digital rights need to have teeth they cannot be mere strategy documents.

First, in order to participate in the digital economy, citizens need connectivity as a basic human right. Connectivity would provide all Canadians access to digital services and the ability to participate in the new data-driven economy.

With connectivity as a basic human right in Canada, there would be no reason why one cannot have a tech unicorn in a Canadian region outside of the traditional major city centres. Hyperconnectivity would permit all ideas and all citizens to contribute to Canadas innovation economy.

Second, citizens must retain ownership of their data in this digital economy. Citizens should not be commercialized by any platform without their consent full stop. Otherwise, Canadians will not be able to reap the benefits of the data driven economy because they lack the control over their biggest asset their own personal data. If we are to ever reach this goal of ownership of ones own data, it is now time to update, and in some cases, rewrite our laws to reflect the new digital reality.

Privacy laws, for example, are not equipped to deal with digital-aged constructs, many of which were written in the industrial age. Instead of modern privacy laws that enable secure data sharing across sectors, or trusted digital wallets that would permit control of ones online activities, we have policies and procedures based on fax machine transmissions. This prohibits secure data sharing while ensuring data multiplication and a slower economy. It means our businesses cannot build the right infrastructure required to support privacy in a digital age because our laws impede the innovation.

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A critical example in the context of this new digital economy will be the openness of those holding our data. Traditionally, we see intellectual property and openness as opposing factors. Yet, we cannot operate in a digital economy without providing openness of digital rights and economic opportunity. Too often we see companies use intellectual property as a blocker for releasing their algorithms to the public. But protecting citizen rights in the digital age and economic growth are not necessarily at odds. As the data economy grows, the companies who operate with a higher degree of openness will likely profit more.

So where does this leave us?

We need our governments to double their current efforts to address the hard items getting in the way of both digital prosperity and the rights of Canadians. Laws must be changed, regulations adjusted and policies must reflect the new digital economy and at a much faster pace.

We must also invest one dollar in digital infrastructure for every dollar we invest in roads and bridges to ensure Canada can compete in this data-driven economy.

Looking ahead, sectors must begin to work better together in order to increase the speed of the economy in order to remain internationally competitive.

Canada should provide a model to the world highlighting that human rights are now also digital rights, and that this new reality does not need to compete with advancing economic interests.

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The country that sets the stage for digital economic growth while protecting citizen rights will win the race.

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Digital citizen rights need to have teeth for Canada to succeed in data-driven economy - The Globe and Mail

Azmin: Malaysia to realign economy in the next decade – The Malaysian Reserve

Minister says all the initiatives will be outlined in the 12MP and spill over into the 13MP

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

MALAYSIA will push for a realignment of the countrys economy over the next 10 years as the old economic model of manufacturing, commodity and labour-intensive operations would hamper future growth.

The country for decades had been dependent on manufacturing from investment abroad, which created jobs but had failed to push for innovation and development of our own homegrown products.

Dependence on manufacturing and commodity had also stifled salary growth and high-paying jobs.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (picture) said all the initiatives to realign the countrys economy will be outlined in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) 2021 2025 and spill over into the 13MP 2026-2030.

The government remains vigilant and continues to focus on strengthening Malaysias near-term resilience and advancing structural reforms to raise medium-term growth.

The countrys growth potential will be optimised by strengthening productivity and innovation as catalysts of growth. Emphasis will be placed on empowering the manufacturing sector to produce more high quality, diverse and complex products, he said in a statement yesterday.

Azmin said the RM56 billion allocated for the countrys development expenditure in 2020 will be utilised for 5,466 development projects to generate momentum and strengthen Malaysias longterm economic capacity.

From the total amount, RM53.2 billion will be allocated for 4,744 ongoing projects and the remaining RM2.8 billion will be set aside for 722 new projects.

Azmin said deeper focuses will be given to the high-growth sectors such as aerospace, electrical and electronics, medical devices production, machinery and equipment, as well as chemicals and chemical products.

The development and modernisation of the resource-based industries through research, development, commercialisation and innovation initiatives will also be given priority, he said.

Meanwhile, the governments [emailprotected] initiative announced in Budget 2020 is expected to support household spending for the next five years, coupled with the upward revision of minimum monthly wage, Azmin said.

Malaysias household spending will continue to be supported by wage growth and favourable employment prospects, in line with the [emailprotected] initiative announced in Budget 2020, with a total allocation of RM6.5 billion for the next five years.

The upward revision of the minimum monthly wage rate to RM1,200 beginning Jan 1 next year in 57 cities and municipalities across Malaysia, along with cash transfer programmes, income tax refund and lower cost of borrowings, is also expected to provide additional impetus to household spending, he said.

In boosting economic activities in the country, the government has identified 15 Key Economic Growth Areas as the new fundamentals of growth, including Islamic finance hub 2.0, Commodity Malaysia 2.0 and the Industrial Revolution 4.0.

Recognising the importance of infrastructure projects in boosting the countrys supply chain, Azmin said the government has emphasised some of the strategic projects in the 12MP.

During the first nine months of 2019, significant levels of foreign and domestic investments amounting to RM149 billion have been approved.

Recognising the importance of infrastructure projects to facilitate supply chains and the mobility of goods and people, several strategic projects will be continued in the 12MP such as the Pan Borneo Highway, East Coast Rail Link, Bandar Malaysia and GemasJohor Baru Electrified DoubleTracking Project, he said.

On the global front, Azmin said the country will continue to leverage on its open trade policy, especially in pursuing a greater unification with Asean.

Malaysia will continue to adopt an open trade and investment policy, particularly to pursue greater integration with Asean, leveraging on the regions large population size of more than 600 million people.

The hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit and Visit Malaysia Year 2020 will be catalysts for growth, particularly for the tourism industry, he said.

On the performance of Malaysias economy, Azmin said the government is confident of achieving 4.8% in GDP growth next year due to the countrys strong macroeconomic fundamentals.

Malaysia has a highly diversified economic and export structure, supportive labour market, low and stable inflation, a strong and well-capitalised financial sector and a healthy current account surplus of the balance of payments.

This outlook is higher than the estimates by the International Monetary Fund at 4.4% and the World Bank at 4.5%, as the government remains committed to implementing its development priorities, he said.

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Azmin: Malaysia to realign economy in the next decade - The Malaysian Reserve

There’s a Genius, Sustainable Economic System We Could All Be Using. Here’s How – ScienceAlert

In her Hugo-finalist novel Record of a Spaceborn Few, Becky Chambers envisions a future where humanity travels the galaxy in generational ships, their entire civilisation dependent on a well-oiled system of reusing and recycling resources. Every waste product is expertly crafted into something else, sustaining the space travellers for generations.

Although this book is science fiction, the concept behind the economy used by this spaceborn civilisation is not. Economists have been talking about this idea - called a 'circular economy' - for over 50 years.

The notion itself is pretty simple: In its ideal form, a circular economy is a system where our products and the resources that go into them can be simply and easily reused, repaired, remade and recycled, with absolutely nothing going to landfill.

When we compare this idea to what we're currently doing digging up resources, manufacturing a product, using it for a short time, and then throwing it away, generating massive amounts of unusable waste that takes up space and ruins our health - a circular economy starts looking extremely attractive.

So why are we still dumping so much garbage? Why are the products we buy still nearly always wrapped in virgin plastic?

"I think it is possible, but hard, to imagine a sustainable society because it means a shift of lifestyle and economic systems, which we are currently so stuck in we can't imagine alternatives," says Ed Morgan, a researcher from Griffith University in Australia, who works on climate, natural resources, and government planning.

"But no one in a monarchy could imagine being in a democracy!"

We don't have to look far to find clear examples that demonstrate how our current arrangement of managing resources in a linear fashion is broken.

For example, it's easy to think we're all making great headway on supporting a circular economy when we put our tin cans into the recycling bin... Except in 2018, the economically developed world had a rude awakening to a 'recycling crisis', when it came to light that millions of tons of our recycling were simply being shipped to China.

Much of that material was not being recycled at all. Right now, we're back at the drawing board trying to work out what to do with all this 'recyclable' waste we keep generating.

Breaking the cycle entirely and moving away from our current linear system may seem like an enormous challenge, but there are groups working towards it, already figuring out the nuts and bolts of circular economies at various scales.

"There are lots of ways to make us more sustainable, many of which we haven't harnessed. It does mean a shift of lifestyle for many. But, and I think this is key, it doesn't necessarily mean a 'backward' change," Morgan told ScienceAlert.

"It comes back to what is actually important to us. I remember one person I heard speak say when it comes down to it, what they want is time with their kids and a glass of wine. We should be able to do this sustainably."

So, with that in mind - how do we start creating circular systems? Even a small change is better than nothing.

Take glass, for example. Glass containers are regularly found in the supermarket; it's one of the easiest materials to melt into something else. But in Australia and many places around the world, it's cheaper to import brand new glass bottles than do anything with the 'recycled' glass we all so dutifully put in the recycling bin.

In contrast, The Beer Store in Canada has been collecting and reusing its beer bottles since 1927. The business has one of the highest recovery rates in North America: 99 percent of their bottles are returned and refilled.

One bottle in this cycle will be returned and refilled on average 15 times before it breaks and is recycled into new glass.The glass bottles are reused and refilled, which takes less energy and resources than recycling them into something new, and the company itself is managing the waste it produces something bigger companies should really be taking a hard look at.

This shows how a circular economy can work on a small scale, in a single business, with a single resource.

But we can also go bigger. What about cities?

When you think of futuristic cities, you might think of flying cars or a Wall-E-like trash city, but Steffen Lehmann, an environmental architect at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is picturing microclimates and sustainable buildings.

Urban Nexus, a project Lehmann is working on, is trying to achieve an exciting goal - using the waste of one system to power another. Our water, energy, food and waste are usually seen as separate sectors, but Lehmann explains this doesn't have to be the case. In an ideal world the waste of one sector would flow into the next one to be used as a resource.

"It's very important to understand the inter-connectedness and nexus of the various currently separated sectors," he explains.

"Cities have a governance that is based on the separation of these sectors - for example, the water management people do not talk to the waste management folks in the administration. A first step is to bring these different but inter-connected sectors closer together."

In a paper published in the journal City, Culture and Society back in 2017, Lehmann demonstrates how waste water that was polluting nearby creeks in a small town in the Philippines was successfully rerouted into a system producing biogas and fertiliser.

Not only did this approach clean up the local ecosystem, it also provided the town with a viable product to use in other economic activities.

So, how big could we go? Do we have the ability to become the Spaceborn Few overnight?

"It's impossible to achieve zero waste, or zero emissions, because there are laws of physics and chemistry that we need to follow," explains Anthony Halog, an ecology and bioeconomy researcher at the University of Queensland.

"But why do we bother doing it? I think in my opinion, it's better to be doing something. Moving towards that direction - towards zero waste and zero emissions."

Working towards a system where all of our stuff lasts longer, is repairable, and can be recycled at the end of its life would take a lot of effort and resources. As would changing our cities and industrial systems to interconnectedly use each other's waste.

"For a circular economy to be successful, it has to be holistic and systemic in approach," says Halog.

"Whether we talk about cities, we talk about products, we talk about countries, we need to really look at in a systemic way. Because otherwise it's just a Band-Aid approach."

But at this point, business as usual is a much worse option. Building and sustaining large-scale circular economies would at least give us a fighting chance - after all,Earth is just one big generational ship, complete with finite resources and a limited capacity to contain our waste.

Right now, it's the only one we have. And we're going to have to start reusing stuff much more efficiently, if we want our ship to last.

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There's a Genius, Sustainable Economic System We Could All Be Using. Here's How - ScienceAlert

The Malaysian economy in 2020 – Malaysiakini

MP SPEAKS |As Malaysia heads into the final year of Vision 2020, the government is confident the countrys economy will achieve a stronger and more sustainable growth of 4.8 percent next year.

This is due to Malaysias strong macroeconomic fundamentals, such as a highly-diversified economic and export structure, supportive labour market, low and stable inflation, a strong and well-capitalised financial sector and a healthy current account surplus of the balance of payments.

This outlook is higher than the estimates by the International Monetary Fund at 4.4 percent and the World Bank at 4.5 percent as the government remains committed to implementing its development priorities.

For 2020, RM56 billion has been allocated for 5,466 development projects to support the growth momentum and strengthen the countrys long-term economic capacity.

Of this amount, RM53.2 billion is allocated for 4,744 ongoing projects and the remaining amount of RM2.8 billion has been set aside for 722 new projects.

Over the next decade, the government will place greater emphasis on restructuring the economy by developing new economic areas to propel the economy forward and create business opportunities and high-paying jobs, in line with the objectives of Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (Wawasan Kemakmuran Bersama 2030).

This entails ensuring an inclusive, sustainable and meaningful socio-economic development to provide a decent standard of living for all Malaysians, which will be operationalised through the Twelfth Malaysia Plan, 2021-2025 and the Thirteenth Malaysia Plan, 2026-2030.

The government remains vigilant and continues to focus on strengthening Malaysias near-term resilience and advancing structural reforms to raise medium-term growth.

Hence, the countrys growth potential will be optimised by strengthening productivity and innovation as catalysts of growth. Emphasis will be placed on empowering the manufacturing sector to produce more high quality, diverse and complex products.

In this regard, focus will be given to strengthening sectors with high growth potential such as aerospace, medical devices, E&E, machinery and equipment as well as chemicals and chemical products.

Similarly, the development and modernisation of the resource-based industries through research, development, commercialisation and innovation initiatives will also be given priority.

While the external environment continues to face uncertainties, the government will increase its efforts in building up resilience and boosting endogenous sources of growth as domestic demand will remain as the key driver of growth for 2020, underpinned by the continued expansion in private sector activity.

Also, household spending will continue to be supported by wage growth and favourable employment prospects.

This is in line with the [emailprotected] initiative announced in Budget 2020 with a total allocation of RM6.5 billion for the next five years that is aimed at creating better employment opportunities for youth and women while reducing the countrys dependence on low-skilled foreign workers.

The upward revision of the minimum monthly wage rate to RM1,200 beginning Jan 1 in 57 cities and municipalities across Malaysia, along with cash transfer programmes, income tax refunds and lower cost of borrowings are also expected to provide additional impetus to household spending.

In ensuring economic development is not geographically centred, the government will boost economic activities at selected locations based on the strength and uniqueness of each area.

In this regard, 15 Key Economic Growth Areas have been identified as new sources of growth, comprising among others, Islamic Finance Hub 2.0; Commodity Malaysia 2.0; smart and high-value farming; content industry, animation and digitalisation; as well as manufacturing, supply and services related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To improve regional balance, RM1.1 billion has been set aside in Budget 2020 to boost regional economic corridor development, among others in Chuping Valley Industrial Area in Perlis (RM50 million), Kuantan Port in Pahang (RM69.5 million), Sungai Segget Centralised Sewerage Treatment Plant in Johor (RM42 million), Samalaju Industrial Park in Sarawak (RM55 million) and Sabah Agro-Industrial Precinct (RM20 million).

Besides, private investment will be reinvigorated through more effective incentives, better coordinated promotional strategies and a more conducive business environment.

The government has made available up to RM1 billion worth of customised packaged investment incentives annually over the next five years as a strategic push to attract targeted Fortune 500 companies and global unicorns in high technology sectors.

To qualify, these companies must invest at least RM5 billion each in Malaysia which will generate additional economic activities, create 150,000 high-quality jobs over the next five years and strengthen our manufacturing and services ecosystems.

During the first nine months of this year, significant levels of foreign and domestic investments amounting to RM149 billion have been approved.

Recognising the importance of infrastructure projects to facilitate supply chains and the mobility of goods and people, several strategic projects will be continued into the Twelfth Malaysia Plan such as the Pan-Borneo Highway, East Coast Rail Link, Bandar Malaysia and Gemas-Johor Baru Electrified Double Tracking project.

Towards accelerating the digital economy and improving competitiveness, the government has lowered broadband prices by 49 percent and will implement the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan over the next five years.

Tax incentives will also be provided to further promote high value-added activities and increase productivity in transitioning into a 5G-enabled digital economy and Industry 4.0.

Furthermore, the government has also provided a comprehensive incentive package for SMEs to increase their contribution to the economy and facilitate access to financing.

The government will further allocate an additional RM50 million to My Co-Investment Fund (MyCIF) under the Securities Commission Malaysia to leverage such platforms to help finance underserved SMEs.

In addition, the government will provide a 50 percent matching grant of up to RM5,000 per company to adopt digitalisation for their business operation including the electronic Point of Sale systems (e-POS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and electronic payroll systems.

This matching grant will be worth RM500 million over five years, limited to the first 100,000 SMEs applying to upgrade their systems.

On the external front, Malaysia will continue to adopt an open trade and investment policy, particularly to pursue greater integration with Asean, leveraging on the regions large population size of more than 600 million people.

The hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and Visit Malaysia Year in 2020 will be catalysts for growth, particularly for the tourism industry.

In the context of an increasingly networked global economy, Malaysia will also continue to leverage our cultural endowment to further boost our competitive advantage.

In this regard, Malaysia has organised the Kuala Lumpur Summit (KL Summit), which saw the successful conclusion of 18 agreements, whereby leaders from across the Muslim world agreed to channel more direct investments toward the development of their economies.

Cooperations were forged during the KL Summit in areas of media, centres of excellence, youth exchange, defence and security as well as food security.

Among others, an agreement was concluded between Felcra Berhad and one of Qatars largest livestock and dairy farm owners, Baladna Food Industries, for a large-scale dairy venture to further strengthen the nations food security.

A document exchange involving aerospace components manufacturer Composites Technology Research Malaysia Sdn Bhd (CTRM) and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) also took place on the sidelines of the KL Summit.

These initiatives undertaken by the government to build up resilience and boost endogenous sources of growth, along with better commodity prices and a stable ringgit, will pave the way towards enhancing Malaysias economic prospects.

Thus, the ongoing policy initiatives will further enhance Malaysias economic fundamentals and continue to support the ringgit going forward.

The government will continue to ensure that concerted efforts are undertaken to propel Malaysia towards achieving a more sustainable and equitable growth in line with the shared prosperity agenda.

AZMIN ALI is the economic affairs minister.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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The Malaysian economy in 2020 - Malaysiakini

How Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign changed Big Tech forever – CNBC

(L-R) Amazon's chief Jeff Bezos, Larry Page of Alphabet, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower December 14, 2016.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had made it about an hour into his two-day marathon testimony in front of Congress before the M-word came up.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was the first to float the term as lawmakers began their grilling at the April 2018 hearing. The senators wanted to know how the data from 87 million Facebook profiles was able to be harvested and sold to a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, without users' consent.

"You don't think you have a monopoly?" Graham asked Zuckerberg.

Pausing and tripping slightly over his response, Zuckerberg said, "Doesn't feel like that to me," to a chorus of stilted laughter.

A year and a half later, Graham's suggestion is no longer being laughed off. Facebook now faces antitrust investigations by the Federal Trade Commission, the House Judiciary Committee and a coalition of attorneys general from 47 states and U.S. territories. The Department of Justice has said it's conducting a broad review of the tech industry. And lawmakers are regularly introducing legislation aimed at tamping down tech companies' wide-reaching power and influence.

As the 2010s draw to a close, the relationship between Washington and Silicon Valley appears fraught. It's a far cry from the relatively cozy alliance they fostered at the beginning of the decade, when the aftershock of the antitrust case against Microsoft had mostly waned and lawmakers and the public alike still seemed in awe of tech's promise of advancement.

The 2010s could have been the decade that Washington embraced the tech industry. But a series of scandals has frayed the trust tech executives built up with lawmakers and regulators early on. This is the story of how the 2010s became the decade D.C. turned on Big Tech.

Barack Obama threw his trust into technology in 2008, and it helped deliver him the presidency.

The young senator's campaign seemed novel at the time for its savvy use of social media to build a following. Once in office, Obama made good on his promise to appoint the first chief technology officer to the White House to leverage industry advancements and modernize U.S. infrastructure and services.

Over at the FTC, agency leaders decided it was time to bring on an expert who could advise on issues intersecting technology and policy, and they hired their first chief technologist in 2010.

While there was some skepticism by government regulators over the tech industry, they still mostly let companies like Facebook and Google run their course. In 2011, the FTC settled charges that Google used deceptive practices and violated privacy promises in launching its social network, Google Buzz, forcing it to submit to regular audits for 20 years.

President Barack Obama (3R) and Vice President Joe Biden meet with executives from leading technology companies, including Apple, Twitter, and Google in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on December 17, 2913 in Washington, DC.

Getty Images

About a year later, the FTC also settled with Facebook for allegedly misleading users about how their data would be shared publicly and with third parties. The company agreed to new stipulations, and the same month, the FTC cleared Facebook's $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, a money-losing company with just 13 full-time employees. As of last year, Instagram was worth an estimated $100 billion-plus, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence.

By all accounts, Obama's reelection campaign in 2012 was even more digital than his first. The staff built on the previous successes, scaling up the campaign's analytics team and hiring former tech employees to work on technical aspects of the campaign. The team relied heavily on Amazon Web Services to build a variety of tools, Ars Technica reported shortly after the election.

The Obama administration continued to hire tech alums in the White House. A 2016 report from The Intercept revealed 55 cases where Google employees moved into jobs in the federal government under Obama. The report also found that Google and its affiliates had at least 427 White House meetings during Obama's presidency, based on data from The Intercept and the Campaign for Accountability.

By the middle of the decade, some latent concerns about the tech industry were starting to bubble up. The White House was beginning to take steps to promote competition across the economy, and the administration's Council of Economic Advisers wrote that workers and consumers would stand to gain from such a push.

In April 2016, Obama issued an executive order calling on federal agencies and departments to assess and suggest specific actions to reinvigorate competition across all sectors. Alongside the order, the CEA released an issue brief suggesting, "Regulators may want to consider whether this 'big data' is a critical resource, without which new entrants might have a difficult time marketing to or otherwise attracting customers."

The report signaled concerns about competition in tech markets but stopped short of a full-throttled endorsement of antitrust action. The CEA wrote that "more work is needed to understand how policies that promote competition should be applied in the digital economy and other technologically dynamic sectors."

Within some government agencies, however, doubts about the tech industry had already started to creep in.

The DOJ, for example, sued to block a proposed $39 billion merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, claiming the combination would be harmful to consumers and unnecessary to build out AT&T's wireless network. The companies ultimately gave up the plan in September 2011, putting AT&T on the hook for $4 billion in cash and spectrum rights due to T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom.

"AT&T trying to buy T-Mobile was an effort to say, 'Wait a minute, have we reached the limit of acquisitions within wireless?'" said a former senior antitrust official, who asked not to be named to protect the official's current employer. The deal would have combined the second and fourth-largest telecommunication carriers in the U.S.

The FTC later opened an investigation into Google to understand if it used anticompetitive practices to fuel its search engine. It closed the case in a unanimous vote in 2013 with minor concessions from Google, but an inadvertently released copy of staff's recommendations to the commissioners revealed underlying concerns.

The FTC staff had recommended pursuing a case against Google, The Wall Street Journal reported after the recommendation was accidentally disclosed in an open records request from the outlet. While it's not uncommon for commissioners to vote against staff recommendations, the report fueled Google's critics, who still point to it as a sign they are onto something.

In 2016, law enforcement started to realize tech companies wouldn't always help their cause. Apple refused to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhone of a mass shooter in the San Bernardino, California, attack that left 14 people dead. Apple CEO Tim Cook called a court order requesting Apple's help "chilling" and warned of putting the security of all iPhone users in danger if the company wrote a "master key" to break the encryption. The FBI was ultimately able to crack into the iPhone without Apple's help.

Eventually, two major flashpoints seemed to convince lawmakers and regulators that they could and in some cases, should do something about Big Tech.

The first mainly rippled through circles of academics and antitrust professionals. Lina Khan, then a law student at Yale, published an article in the Yale Law Review called "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox" in January 2017. The article called into question traditional interpretations of antitrust law that often measure the so-called consumer welfare standard based on price. That standard is not adequate to measure harm by a tech company like Amazon, Khan argued, since the firm's structure has allowed it to keep prices low while circumventing antitrust enforcement.

The article didn't spark immediate consensus, but it did light up conversation.

"It was a good piece at the right time," said Harry First, a law professor at New York University. "You walk around you see you're in a nice middle class neighborhood and the stores are all going out of business and you know that you're using Amazon a lot. These are very visibly big companies, it is not like an oil company or a steel company that you don't see it. These are consumer-facing businesses that are part of your everyday life."

The second flashpoint went far beyond academic circles. In March 2018, The Guardian and The New York Times broke the story of how Cambridge Analytica obtained Facebook data without users' consent and used it to aid Donald Trump's presidential election campaign in 2016.

The story prompted outrage at a time when Americans were particularly divided in the wake of Trump's election and concerned about Russian interference through social media platforms. The most important response, according to Jen King, director of consumer privacy at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, came from lawmakers.

"I think Cambridge Analytica was pivotal a little bit less because of the public impact and a little bit more because of the effect on Congress," King said. "Cambridge Analytica, because of its potential effect on the election, I think, is what motivated a lot of congressional actors to go, 'Oh crap, this is a serious issue.'"

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the Val Air Ballroom on November 25, 2019 in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

If the 2010s were the Wild West for tech, the 2020s are likely to be the decade of rules.

While it's still unknown how any of the various investigations into Big Tech will end, Congress and state lawmakers across the country are keen on reining in the industry's power.

"I think to some degree it's going to depend on whether something comes out of these investigations," First said of how the next decade will shake out. "It may be that some of the attention will move seriously to Congress to make changes in antitrust laws. Some disillusionment could be in store if either cases are not brought or they're brought and lost [in court]."

Lawmakers are already beginning to question how various laws, and the lack thereof, have allowed tech companies to grow so rapidly and dodge legal obstacles. Congress and federal regulators are asking how data can amass power at a tech company. They're asking how much that data is worth, who owns that value and what it should take for a user to pick up and move their data elsewhere.

Lawmakers are starting to seem sympathetic to the FTC's pleas for more funding and enforcement powers. Two new Senate proposals for a federal privacy law would grant the FTC resources and authority to enforce that law.

Congressional leaders are also rethinking a law that has long-protected tech platforms from liability for their users' content. One has suggested tying the legal shield to audits that evaluate if their processes are "politically neutral."

Even if no enforcement actions are taken against the Big Tech firms this time, that could fuel lawmakers to take up proposals to amend the antitrust laws themselves. Given the bipartisan concern over the tech industry, it's not difficult to imagine that laws governing mergers could be reined in, the former senior antitrust official said.

"That's the area where I think there is the greatest prospect for there to be any sort of change," the official said.

Already, there are some proposals on the table. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., ranking member of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and presidential contender, introduced the Merger Enforcement Improvement Act in 2017 to give federal regulators more tools and resources to enforce merger laws.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who is also seeking the presidency, is drafting a broad bill co-authored by House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I. According to a draft viewed by CNBC, the bill would apply sweeping guidelines to a range of large companies over how they price their products and treat competitors.

There's still one major unknown that could sway the course of the next decade.

"The elephant in the room," said Stanford Law professor Doug Melamed, "is the 2020 election."

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WATCH: How US antitrust law works, and what it means for Big Tech

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How Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign changed Big Tech forever - CNBC

Diane Francis: If Ottawa won’t listen to the West on resources, perhaps the West should stop listening to Ottawa – Financial Post

Alberta and Saskatchewan must take a page from Atlantic Canada, and simply defy and ignore Ottawas injurious energy policies.

Last week, Reuters broke a story that Canadas largest oil refinery, Irving Oil in New Brunswick, quietly scrapped its 2020 emission reduction target of 17 per cent. It made the pledge in 2005 to bolster Liberals who were campaigning on a promise to fight climate change. No public announcement accompanied the change in policy, which was removed from the companys website earlier this year.

When asked for comment, Irving said the targets jeopardize the refinerys future financial viability. The company refines 320,000 barrel per day and exports half to the U.S. northeast. A spokesman said obliquely: We continually update our standards to accurately reflect the targets set in the areas where we operate.

Then theres Newfoundland and Labrador, who have also put the interests of people, jobs, and the economy first over the made-in-Ottawa climate emergency. Last week, the province issued the first of many permits to mostly foreign oil giants who want to invest up to $4 billion in offshore exploration.

Newfoundland shamelessly and admirably hopes to nearly triple its oil production by 2030 to 650,000 barrels of oil daily, up from 230,000 barrels per day now.

Hypocritically, Ottawas Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi opted to support giving Newfoundland the green light. He issued a press release worthy of a Trump tweet: The decision was made following a thorough and science-based environmental assessment process concluding that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects when mitigation measures are taken into account.

Then the feds claimed, without blushing, that the Chinese company who got the permit would comply with environmental and other laws because they said they would. They also said they would honour canola contracts. As well as the Sino-British Joint Declaration concerning Hong Kong.

Ottawa has given this region and Quebec both defiant in the past a free pass in terms of wildlife monitoring, Indigenous rights and tanker shipping hazards. Compare that with what has happened in the West.

Emboldened by favouritism, Newfoundlands Natural Resources minister Siobhan Coady gushed that there could be 650 Hibernias (1.9 billion barrels produced since 1997), in other words. I dont expect there is, but (there) will be discoveries made in offshore Newfoundland and Labrador

By contrast, an Alberta or Saskatchewan leader who laid out, and lauded, the phenomenal economic and jobs potential of the oilsands, LNG largesse, or conventional gas deposits, would be trolled as an evil climate change denier. He or she would be shunned in Ottawa, decried by the socialists and Quebeckers and Liberals, and pilloried by the climate change industry and many in the media.

But Atlantic Canadians have their priorities right. They understand that resource development is what has built Canada and will do so in the future, that Ottawa doesnt know what its doing and should be shrugged off or disobeyed. In 2017, the Trudeau climate change gang started to circle Newfoundland with talk of centralized regulation and revised environmental reviews and other red tape. They were told to butt out.

The industry threatened: Our members and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will not accept the loss or delay of the benefits of these valuable resources while we struggle to pay for the demands of an aging population.

One observer underscored the seriousness of the pushback: Newfoundland has always been a fighting province. Anything that goes against perceived ownership of resources, whether its fisheries or oil and gas, they will fight the federal government on it.

Thats what the West must do, simply tell Ottawa to butt out and go ahead and develop the countrys resources. A government that destroys economic activities without justification or plays favourites is no longer legitimate, and deserves disobedience or worse.

Financial Post

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Diane Francis: If Ottawa won't listen to the West on resources, perhaps the West should stop listening to Ottawa - Financial Post

Abe says planning to visit Middle East in early Jan. – The Mainichi

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he plans to visit the Middle East early next month as Japan has decided to send Self-Defense Forces personnel to the region to help secure the safe navigation of commercial ships.

The government is making arrangements for him to visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to officials. The Middle East supplies crude oil to resource-scarce Japan and stability in the region is critical.

"I'm considering visiting the Middle East at the beginning of next year if conditions permit," Abe said during a TV program recording.

"Ninety percent of our crude oil imports come from the Middle East. If they stop, the Japanese economy and our daily lives will be severely impacted," Abe said.

The government plans to send a destroyer and P-3C patrol planes to the region for the purpose of intelligence gathering as tensions remain high in the Middle East over a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the United States.

But Japan will not join a U.S.-led maritime security initiative near the Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway for transporting oil, for fear of hurting Tokyo's good relations with Tehran.

The SDF will instead operate off Oman and Yemen -- the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian Sea, and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

"Japan aims to make its own unique contributions to safe navigation and regional stability," Abe said.

Before the prime minister, Defense Minister Taro Kono will visit Djibouti and Oman during his four-day Mideast trip from Friday. The P-3C patrol planes engaged in anti-piracy activities based in Djibouti and Oman will serve as a refueling base for the SDF destroyer.

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Abe says planning to visit Middle East in early Jan. - The Mainichi

The Next Big Thing – The Maritime Executive

Offshore wind is poised for liftoff in the U.S. But obstacles remain as do opportunities. file photo

By Jack O'Connell 12-27-2019 12:00:00

(Article originally published in July/Aug 2019 edition.)

In early July Dominion Energy broke ground on the second U.S. offshore wind farm, called the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project and located 27 miles off the coast from the resort city of Virginia Beach. It was a purely symbolic moment and a literal groundbreaking since it took place on land and nowhere near where the turbines will be. Its purpose was to install a half-mile pipeline to the final stretch of cables connecting the turbines to a company substation close to nearby Camp Pendleton.

But it was significant nonetheless as its been three years since the first U.S. offshore wind farm off Block Island in Rhode Island came online in 2016, three long years that had consumers, developers and investors alike wondering, Will this ever happen? Whats the holdup with offshore wind?

Its happening, all right, but at a much slower pace than expected. And the Virginia project is nothing to write home about its only two six-megawatt turbines, even smaller than Block Island, enough to power maybe 3,000 homes. Purely a demonstration project. Proof of concept and all that. If successful and completion is expected by the end of next year it will provide the necessary operational data for development of an adjacent 112,800-acre site with capacity for up to 2 GW (gigawatts, or a thousand megawatts) of offshore wind. Now were talking!

European Expertise

Dominions partner in the project is rsted, the Danish state energy company formerly known as DONG (Danish Oil & Natural Gas). The Danes know a thing or two about offshore wind, which generates about half their electricity, and rsted is a global leader in the technology, design and development of offshore wind farms. Last year it bought Deepwater Wind, developer of the Block Island wind farm, and its moved fast in the U.S. market, where help is needed and European firms are only too happy to oblige.

The U.S knows all about land-based wind power where it ranks second in the world to China, of all countries, but not much about offshore wind, which is an entirely different ballgame. The wind blows a lot harder. The turbines are much bigger, the technology more sophisticated, the degree of expertise required much higher.

Thats where the Europeans come in. Europe leads the world in offshore wind. According to WindEurope, at the end of 2018 it had 18.9 GW of offshore wind power, 105 offshore wind farms and more than 4,500 offshore turbines in 11 countries. The U.K. has the most nearly half of all installations with Germany second and Denmark third. Theyve been doing it for nearly 30 years, ever since the Vindeby Offshore Wind Farm was built about a mile off the coast of Denmark in no more than 10 feet of water by you guessed it rsted, in 1991.

Last year Europe completed the worlds first floating offshore wind farm in the North Sea off Scotland at a depth of nearly 400 feet. Thats how advanced they are. And theyre anxious to export that expertise to the U.S.

The big players are Denmarks rsted and Vestas and the German/Spanish giant, Siemens Gamesa. All three are partnering with U.S.-based companies to stake claim to the potentially huge U.S. market. rsted has the early lead and in June was chosen by the state of New Jersey to negotiate a 20-year contract for a wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City with a nameplate capacity of 1.1 GW the first to exceed the one gigawatt mark.

Called Ocean Wind, its a partnership with the Public Service Enterprise Group, which serves more than two million electric utility customers in the Garden State. With a scheduled completion date of 2024, it would power more than half a million homes, create 3,000 jobs and have a 25+ years lifespan.

Ocean Wind joins rsteds expanding portfolio in the U.S. that includes Revolution Wind, a 700-MW project off the coast of Rhode Island, South Fork Wind (130 MW) off Long Island, and Skipjack (120 MW) offshore Maryland all scheduled for completion by 2023. In July it won another big one, this one from New York State, for an 880 MW project called Sunrise Wind that will provide electricity for Long Island.

Throw in Vineyard Wind off the coast of Massachusetts, touted as the U.S.s first utility-scale offshore wind farm at 800 MW with construction expected to start later this year, and you have more than 5 GWs of offshore wind in the pipeline. And dont you just love those names Skipjack, Revolution, Sunrise, Vineyard!

The Opportunity

But 5 GWs is just the tip of the iceberg. According to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is responsible for offshore oil and gas operations as well as offshore wind, there are currently 15 active commercial leases for offshore wind development that could support more than 21 GWs of generating capacity. Thats more than Europe currently has.

The demand for offshore wind has never been greater, stated Acting Director Dr. Walter Cruickshank in releasing the bureaus long-awaited report, The Path Forward for Offshore Wind Leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf. Plummeting costs, technological advances, skyrocketing demand and great economic potential have all combined to make offshore wind a highly promising avenue for adding to a diversified national energy portfolio. The U.S. Outer Continental Shelf presents a world-class wind resource on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Cruickshank went on to state that Offshore wind is an abundant domestic energy resource located close to major coastal load centers, providing an alternative to long-distance transmission or development of onshore electricity generation in these land-constrained regions.

And thats really the key, isnt it? Close to major load centers like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Norfolk, Virginia on the East Coast, Los Angeles and San Francisco and Portland and Seattle on the West Coast. Offshore wind makes sense in those regions. Onshore wind can take care of the rest of the country.

Providing further incentive is the promise of ongoing federal tax credits, critical to the success of any renewable energy project, but particularly one as expensive as this. Two bills recently introduced in the U.S. Senate the Offshore Wind Incentives for New Development (WIND) Act and the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act would extend the Investment Tax Credit for such projects (currently at 30 percent) for up to eight years and provide much-needed breathing room for investors.

Offshore wind has the potential to change the game on climate change, stated Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, one of WINDs co-sponsors, and those winds of change are blowing off the shores of Massachusetts. Offshore wind projects are a crucial part of Americas clean energy future, creating tens of thousands of jobs up and down the East Coast and reducing carbon pollution. In order to harness this potential, we need to provide this burgeoning industry the long-term certainty in the tax code that it needs.

Added Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, Without Congressional action, the federal Investment Tax Credit for offshore wind is set to phase out this year just as the first wave of large-scale offshore wind projects prepare to begin construction. At this critical moment for a new U.S. energy industry, policy stability is more important than ever. We appreciate and strongly support proposals that would extend the Investment Tax Credit for offshore wind, jumpstarting the projected $70 billion build-out of America's offshore wind infrastructure, delivering large amounts of reliable, homegrown clean energy and tens of thousands of jobs to the U.S. economy.

Cities like New Bedford, Massachusetts, the one-time whaling capital of the U.S., which has since fallen on hard times, are poised to benefit from the expected boom. And U.S. boatbuilders, not to mention the entire Gulf of Mexico offshore fleet, could find themselves swamped with new business in what is fast becoming a modern gold rush.

Roadblocks

But obstacles remain, including the controversial Jones Act, seen by some as inhibiting the required investment. Not so, says Joan Bondareff, chair of the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority and Of Counsel at Blank Rome: I like to look at the Jones Act as an incentive for shipyards, not an impediment. Its been around for 100 years and its a law were going to have to live with.

Bondareff is right, and U.S. shipyards and suppliers are making the necessary adjustments. In some cases they are partnering with European companies to design and build equipment like installation jack-up vessels, crew transfer vessels and windfarm service boats. In other cases they are retrofitting the highly sophisticated, dynamic positioning-equipped workboats used in the offshore oil-and-gas industry. The consensus seems to be that there are sufficient vessels and equipment available to meet the first wave of offshore construction.

The other supposed constraint is port infrastructure, but this is a red herring as well. U.S. ports have been handling the turbines, nacelles and blades for the land-based wind power industry for years, and they will make whatever adjustments and investments are needed to accommodate the offshore buildout. And do so gladly.

How to Play It

If you want to get in on the action, one of the best ways is to invest in some of the companies mentioned in this article. The utilities especially, like Dominion Resources and Public Service Enterprise Group and New Englands Eversource, are an attractive proposition as they diversify away from traditional generating sources. The same goes for big oil companies like BP and Shell and Exxon, who are fast seeing the writing on the wall and diving into the bidding for offshore wind farm leases.

Last but not least, the developers and makers of wind farm equipment rsted and Vestas and Siemens and GE (yes, GE, a major turbine manufacturer) are all worth a look.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.

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The Next Big Thing - The Maritime Executive

Year in Review 2019: The five fastest-growing jobs in Singapore – Yahoo Singapore News

SINGAPORE Demand for digital talent skyrocketed in 2019 as Singapore continued its push towards becoming a Smart Nation, and companies accelerated their own transformation journeys. Here are some of the fastest-growing jobs in the city state this year, based on Yahoo Finance searches.

1. AI Specialist

Singaporeslead in the global race for attracting robotic and AI investmentskicked AI Specialists to the top of this years list. Global giants with AI facilities in the city state include Alibaba Group, Salesforce, YITU Technology and Adatos. Demand is expected to intensify with Singapores recently announcednational AI strategy, which includes its plans to deploy AI at a national scale, and become a global leader in the developing and deploying the technology by 2030. Those seeking a job in the field should purse skills in TensorFlow, machine learning, Python, and computer vision, according to a LinkedIn, which put AI Specialist at the top of its list of fastest growing jobs in 2019.

An engineer sets up a CloudMinds robot with a 5G sign before a performance at the World Robot Conference in Beijing, China August 20, 2019. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Jason Lee)

2. Robotics Engineer

Increasing use of robotics from chatbots to driverless technology - in industries from manufacturing and healthcare to hospitality and education put demand for Robotics Engineers capable of building and deploying Robotics Process Automation (RPA) software second only to AI specialists. Robotic Engineers automate mundane tasks or processes, speeding them up significantly to reduce costs, grow revenue and improve customer experience. Demand is expected to increase further Singapore currently has the worlds second most automated workplace, with advisory, broking and solutions firm Willis Towers Watson projecting that robots will account for29% of all work done by companies in Singapore in 2020.

3. Data Scientist

With access to a growing amount of data, organisations are looking to data scientists to unlock trends, and generate actionable insights that will allow them to deliver more relevant products, streamline business practices, and identify business opportunities. In the four years to 2017, jobs in data science jumped by 17 times, and according to a LinkedIn study, data scientists continued to be the most-viewed profession in LinkedIn in 2019. According to Singapores Economic Development Board, data analytics industry will contribute an estimated US$730 million to the nations economy annually.

4. Cyber security analyst

Demand for cyber security analysts grew across industries this year alongside growing awareness of cyber threats. It was cited among the top five jobs in demand in Singapore by LinkedIn, as well as recruitment consultancies Robert Half and BGC. According to Robert Half, cyber security analysts can expect salaries ranging from S$90,000 to S$150,000, depending on how relevant the candidates experience is. Cyber security analysts are responsible for protecting sensitive information, including information stored in computer networks, cloud servers, and mobile devices, as well as for designing firewalls, monitoring the use of data files and protecting the network.

5. Human Resource Officer

Hiring in the human resource industry increased 48 per cent this year, and will continue to increase over the next three years, according to recruitment consultancy Michael Page, who places Chief Human Resource Officeramong Singapores highest paying job at $275,000 per annum on average. According to BGC, organisations are looking to recruit professionals with strong experience in HR technologies and talent acquisition. As competition for technology-related skills heats up, it has also driven an increasing demand for those with relevant talent acquisition experience in the technology sector.

Related stories:

Year in Review: Five best places to work in Singapore 2019

Year in Review 2019: CEOs who took the spotlight in Singapore

The top 10 most-searched female Singapore celebrities on Yahoo in 2019

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Year in Review 2019: The five fastest-growing jobs in Singapore - Yahoo Singapore News


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