My Government’s Only Agenda for Budget is Development: PM Modi

Governance

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today also said that holding Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections simultaneously can save money and manpower

“My government has only one agenda for Budget – and that is development. And that’s what you will see,” PM Modi said in an exclusive interview to Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor-in-Chief, Zee News & WION.

Modi government is going to present its last full Budget ahead of the general elections 2019. The financial statement for the year ahead is being keenly watched by critics because of tough decisions taken by the Modi government like launching the unified Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation.

When asked about the bold financial decisions taken by his government, PM Modi said, “If you measure the work done by our government in these four years by only these two parameters, it’s unfair. After nationalisation of banks, about 30-40 per cent of population was out of banking system. We brought them into the system. Isn’t that an achievement? Thousands of girls skipped schools because there were no toilets. We built those toilets for them. Isn’t that an achievement?”

PM Modi also said that he is in favour of holding general elections and state polls together.

“Logically speaking, holding different elections on different dates creates burden on the exchequer. Politicians are always under stress. So, I think both Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections should be organised simultaneously. It will save money and manpower,” the PM said.

He also said that every atom of his body is indebted to the country and he wants to keep serving the people of the country. “When I see satisfaction in the eyes of a common man, it gives me power,” PM Modi said.

Supreme Court Takes Case to Decide Fate of Online Sales Tax

Governance

Retailers back South Dakota case as opportunity to overturn 1992 Quill decision; restore free market competition

Twenty five years after the United States Supreme Court created the loophole that today allows Internet-only sellers to evade state sales tax collection, the Court has granted South Dakota’s petition for certiorari in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., Overstock.com, Inc., and Newegg, Inc.  By taking the case, the Court can end the carve out created by Quill and validate efforts by states and the merchant community to create a level playing field for all retailers.

“The Court’s decision to grant South Dakota’s petition is an important signal for retailers that invest in storefronts and jobs in local communities,” said RILA General Counsel and Retail Litigation Center President Deborah WhiteRetailers have supported this case since the beginning, and believe it is the right case to correct the constitutional course set more than 50 years ago — well before the advent of e-commerce — that today gives online-only retailers an unfair commercial advantage at the expense of local retailers.

“The retail community is grateful that the Court has recognized the extraordinary importance of this issue,” said White. “Retailers hope that the Court will ultimately conclude that the economic-nexus standard is a more appropriate way to decide today which retailers must collect sales tax than the physical-presence test created more than a half century ago.  In doing so, the Court will validate efforts by the states to treat community and absentee retailers equally when they conduct business with consumers in their state.”

The Retail Litigation Center is a public policy organization that identifies and engages in legal proceedings that affect the retail industry.  The RLC, whose members include some of the country’s largest retailers, was formed to provide courts with retail industry perspectives on significant legal issues, and highlight the potential industry-wide consequences of legal principles that may be determined in pending cases.

RILA is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad

Clearbridge BioMedics’ ClearCell(R) FX1 system achieves U.S. FDA listing

Food, Governance

Clearbridge BioMedics today announced that it has successfully registered its target cell enrichment device, the ClearCell® FX1 system, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Class I Medical Device, for in vitro diagnostic use. This registration marks a significant milestone in providing a reliable liquid biopsy solution for clinical research in the United States. The ClearCell® FX1 system has also previously attained CE marking to be used as an in-vitro diagnostic medical device in Europe and China Food and Drug Administration-approved Class I Medical Device status via the company’s MGI partnership.

The ClearCell® FX1 System is a leading, automated, label-free liquid biopsy device for the enrichment of target cells from blood. The system incorporates the innovative microfluidics CTChip® to isolate and retrieve intact, viable target cells from a patient’s blood sample.

Commercially launched in 2015, the ClearCell® FX1 System has since been installed in laboratories worldwide and empowered numerous liquid biopsy studies. In 2017, it was chosen to be part of the prestigious CANCER-ID consortium, where leading cancer institutes and researchers use the technology to better understand the underlying biology of circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The objective of such efforts is to generate new insights into the disease, to develop innovative cancer therapies and improve patient management protocols. The technology enables seamless processing of both CTCs and circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) from the same patient sample for subsequent analysis, allowing comprehensive cancer profiling.

“We believe, the ClearCell® FX1 System will play a critical role in the development of new therapies by providing label-free, intact and viable cells for analysis. Successfully listing the unit with the U.S. FDA for in vitro diagnostic purposes will accelerate research and the adoption of diagnostics from the tumor cells obtained. We will continue to work with our partners and the authorities to further validate the system, for use in cancer diagnostics, personalized therapy management and patient monitoring,” said Michael Paumen, CEO of Clearbridge BioMedics.

In the U.S. the ClearCell® FX1 system is sold directly through Clearbridge BioMedics Inc. In EMEA and Asia, the platform is currently available in more than 22 countries through distribution partnerships. In China, it is available through a strategic partnership with MGI, an associate of BGI.

About Clearbridge BioMedics

Clearbridge BioMedics Pte Ltd specializes in developing innovative systems with applications in oncology research and diagnostics. Clearbridge BioMedics has won numerous awards and garnered global recognition for its novel Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) detection platform technology, the ClearCell® FX1 System. The ClearCell® FX1 system, when used in conjunction with its biochip and associated accessories, utilize state-of-the-art, non-invasive liquid biopsy to process blood samples for enrichment of CTCs. This enables the real-time analysis of disease before, during, and after treatment, which has become increasingly critical in the new era of targeted cancer therapies. www.ClearbridgeBioMedics.com

Job vacancies reach new heights; 361,700 jobs left unfilled in Canada

Governance

The combination of a growing economy and a dearth of skilled workers has created a labour shortage of approximately 361,700 jobs—the highest number of unfilled private sector jobs ever recorded in Canada—according to the Q3 2017 Help Wanted report, released today by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The corresponding vacancy rate—the proportion of unfilled jobs relative to all jobs available in the private sector—jumped up to 2.8 per cent, its highest point since before the 2008 recession.

“Labour shortages are again becoming a major hindrance to businesses across the country, especially small firms,” said Ted Mallett, Chief Economist at CFIB. “We need government to take action, to find solutions for chronic shortages that inhibit a small business’ ability to take on new contracts, expand and innovate.”

Regional vacancy rates

Businesses in Canada’s three most populous provinces have the most difficult time finding suitable employees. British Columbia has the highest vacancy rate (3.4 per cent) followed by Quebec (3.1 per cent) and Ontario (3.0 per cent). All three provinces experienced rising vacancy rates in Q3 2017, as did Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Vacancy rate

Unfilled jobs

British Columbia

3.4%

60,000

Quebec

3.1%

85,000

Ontario

3.0%

149,600

New Brunswick

2.5%

5,700

Saskatchewan

2.4%

8,200

Alberta

2.2%

33,900

Manitoba

2.1%

9,400

Nova Scotia

2.1%

6,100

Newfoundland and Labrador

1.9%

2,800

Prince Edward Island

1.9%

900

 

Industry groupings

Among broad industry groupings, eight of 12 sectors experienced rising vacancy rates in Q3. In terms of unfilled positions, the retail (50,000 jobs), hospitality (45,900 jobs) and construction (38,000 jobs) industries are experiencing the biggest labour shortages.

For detailed tables on vacancy rates by province and by industry see the Q3 2017 job vacancy report.

About CFIB
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region. Learn more at cfib.ca.

Power restored to 175,000 customers over past 24 hours

Governance

Restoration efforts continue Saturday; company reminds customers to stay safe after the storm and informed with tools and resources

Repair and restoration efforts continue Saturday afternoon with personnel throughout the state engaged in Georgia Power’s efforts to restore service to customers impacted by heavy snowfall over the past 24 hours.  Restoration crews in the field continue to face challenging travel conditions, including impassable bridges and roads due to significant snow accumulation and icing.

Restoration Update

  • Since noon Friday, restoration crews have been in field and have safely restored power to approximately 175,000 customers.
  • As of 12:30 p.m. Saturday, approximately 130,000 customers were without power statewide according to Georgia Power’s Online Outage Map. Customers should continue to check the Outage Map as updated local estimated restoration times are posted based on ongoing evaluations with new assessments and repair estimates.
  • More than 2,400 individual cases of damage or trouble (including broken poles and lines) the company is working to repair.

Georgia Power reminds customers to keep safety first during severe winter weather and offers multiple tools and resources to stay connected and informed.

After the Storm Safety Tips

  • Watch for downed wires. Downed power lines may be hidden by snow, debris or fallen trees.
  • Never touch any downed wire or attempt to remove tree branches from power lines – it can kill.
  • Don’t step in standing water or saturated ground where downed lines may be present.They could be electrified.
  • Avoid chain link fences. They may be electrified by a downed line out of sight and conduct electricity over great distances.

Tools You Can Use 

  • Outage Alerts – Subscribe to the free Georgia Power Outage Alert service to receive personalized notifications and updates via text message.
  • Outage & Storm Center – Available at www.georgiapower.com/storm, customers can visit this site to sign up for Outage Alerts, report and check the status of outages, and access useful safety tips and information. Customers can report and check the status of an outage 24 hours a day by contacting Georgia Power at 888-891-0938.
  • Outage Map – Housed within the Outage & Storm Center, Georgia Power’s interactive Outage Map provides near real-time information, allowing users to see where outages are occurring across the state and track estimated restoration times.
  • Georgia Power Mobile App – Download the Georgia Power mobile app for Apple and Androiddevices to access storm and outage information on the go.
  • @GeorgiaPower on Twitter – Follow @GeorgiaPower on Twitter for storm tips, outage updates, customer service and more.
  • Winter Weather Prep Videos – Check out a series of informational videos on winter weather preparation at  GeorgiaPower.com/WinterPrep.

When severe weather strikes, Georgia Power has access to additional resources available as part of the Southern Company system, which includes multiple electric and gas companies serving more than 9 million customers nationwide. Additionally, Georgia Power is part of a national mutual assistance network consisting of dozens of utilities from around the country, and the company is able to tap into reinforcements when needed to restore power to Georgia customers following a storm.

About Georgia Power 
Georgia Power is the largest electric subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), America’s premier energy company. Value, Reliability, Customer Service and Stewardship are the cornerstones of the company’s promise to 2.5 million customers in all but four of Georgia’s 159 counties. Committed to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy at rates below the national average, Georgia Power maintains a diverse, innovative generation mix that includes nuclear, coal and natural gas, as well as renewables such as solar, hydroelectric and wind. Georgia Power focuses on delivering world-class service to its customers every day and the company is consistently recognized by J.D. Power and Associates as an industry leader in customer satisfaction. For more information, visit www.GeorgiaPower.com and connect with the company on Facebook (Facebook.com/GeorgiaPower), Twitter (Twitter.com/GeorgiaPower) and Instagram (Instagram.com/ga_power).

Job growth remains solid despite tightening labor market

Governance

Comment on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Report By Gad Levanon, Chief Economist, North America, The Conference Board

Employment increased by 228,000 jobs in November after increasing by 244,000 jobs in October.

As the labor market is tightening, employment growth has been gradually slowing in the past couple of years. Is the acceleration in economic activity in recent quarters reversing this trend? The noise created by the hurricanes is making this difficult to answer, but November’s stronger than expected increase may suggest that at the very least, job growth is not slowing further.

What is clear is that current job growth is more than enough to continue tightening the labor market. The acceleration in economic activity in a time of already tight labor markets is leading to employers’ attempts to squeeze more out of their existing workers. Indeed, labor productivity has been accelerating in recent quarters. Is it sustainable? We had some false starts of productivity acceleration in recent years, but there is more reason for it to be sustained now that the labor market is tight. Employers may also have more scope to raise wages as a result of these productivity gains along with improved profit numbers.

The continued strength of the labor market, along with progress on tax legislation in Congress, could provide the Federal Reserve reason to proceed with faster rate normalization in 2018.

Canadians get affordable housing help

Governance

 Plan calls for significant investments in affordable units and repairs to existing units

All Canadians need and deserve housing that is safe and affordable. A home makes Canadians feel more secure, making it easier to raise healthy children, pursue an education, and gain employment.

Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs), today shared details of the 10-year, $40 billion National Housing Strategy that will help reduce homelessness and improve the availability and quality of housing for Canadians in need.

Across Canada, 1.7 million Canadians are in core housing need. To help address this, the Strategy has set bold goals including:

  • reducing chronic homelessness by 50 per cent;
  • removing more than 530,000 households from housing need;
  • creating four times as many new housing units as built under federal programs from 2005 to 2015;
  • repairing three times as many existing housing units as repaired under federal programs from 2005 to 2015; and
  • protecting an additional 385,000 households from losing an affordable place to live.

The National Housing Strategy is meeting the needs of Canadians, including seniors, Indigenous Peoples, survivors of family violence, people with disabilities, refugees, veterans, and those grappling with homelessness. It will promote diverse communities and encourage the construction of homes that are sustainable, accessible, mixed-income, mixed-use, and located near transit, work, and public services. In response to calls from housing advocates, service providers and feminist leaders, the Strategy commits to ensuring that at least 25% of funds go to projects for women, girls and their families.

This Strategy – built by and for Canadians – sets a long-term vision for housing in Canada with unprecedented investments and new programs that will deliver real results for Canadians working hard to improve their quality of life.

This Strategy will focus on the needs of the most vulnerable through a human-rights-based approach to housing. Within the next year, legislation will be introduced obligating the federal government to maintain a National Housing Strategy and report to Parliament on housing targets and outcomes.

The federal government will work with provinces and territories to develop a $4 billion Canada Housing Benefit to be launched in 2020 to respond to local housing needs and priorities. This will be a significant new tool to address challenges of housing affordability in communities across the country. It will provide an estimated average of $2,500 per year to each household recipient, assisting at least 300,000 families when fully implemented. The benefit be delivered directly to households as a portable benefit they can use to help with the costs of housing.

Quotes:

“Our Government is establishing a federal leadership role in housing. The National Housing Strategy will create a new generation of housing in Canada. It will promote diverse communities and will build housing that is sustainable, accessible, mixed-income and mixed-use that will be located near transit, work and public services.” Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

“The National Housing Strategy will create opportunities to collaborate and foster innovation with more partners than ever before, between the federal government and provinces and territories, municipalities, the community housing, non-profit and co-operative sectors, and the private sector to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Canadians.” – Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs)

Quick facts:

  • The National Housing Strategy – Canada’s first ever – was developed through consultations with Canadians from all walks of life: people who have experienced barriers to good housing, experts, stakeholders, think tanks, as well as provinces and territories and municipalities.
  • Over the next 10 years, the Strategy – which will be in part funded jointly by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments – will help reduce homelessness and the number of families living in housing need, and will help strengthen the middle class.
  • Investment under the National Housing Strategy includes:
    • $15.9-billion for a new National Housing Co-Investment Fund
    • $8.6-billion for a new Canada Community Housing Initiative in partnership with provinces and territories, and $500 million through a new Federal Community Housing Initiative
    • $4-billion for a new Canada Housing Benefit to be launched in 2020 in partnership with provinces and territories
    • $2.2-billion to reduce homelessness
    • $300-million in additional federal funding to address housing needs in Canada’s North.
    • $241-million for research, data and demonstrations.
  • In recognition of the significant amount of new housing units to be built and repaired through the federal Co-Investment Fund, the Strategy also includes ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure accessibility in building design.
  • The Government of Canada is also working with Indigenous leaders to co-develop distinctions-based housing strategies with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation that will be founded on the principles of self-determination, reconciliation, respect, and cooperation.

Associated links:

BACKGROUNDER

Canada’s National Housing Strategy

The National Housing Strategy is a part of a long-term vision to strengthen the middle class, promote sustainable growth for Canadians, and lift more Canadians out of poverty.

The Strategy – funded through new and existing programs – follows a human rights-based approach, and includes a National Housing Co-Investment Fund, community housing initiatives, and the Canada Housing Benefit.

A human rights-based approach to housing

Canadians deserve safe and affordable housing.

The National Housing Strategy will help address a range of housing needs, from shelters and community housing, to affordable rental and homeownership. It will promote:

  • Accountability
    • New legislation that promotes a human rights-based approach to housing and prioritizes the housing needs of Canada’s most vulnerable
    • A federal housing advocate to advise and identify actions to address systemic barriers faced by vulnerable groups
  • Participation and inclusion
    • A National Housing Council with a diverse membership that will provide advice to  CMHC and the responsible Minister
    • A Community-Based Tenant Initiative that will support grassroots organizations by providing information and resources to tenants facing barriers in accessing community and affordable housing
    • A public engagement campaign to highlight the benefits of inclusive communities and housing to begin in 2020

National Housing Co-Investment Fund

The National Housing Co-Investment Fund will provide $15.9 billion – including $4.7 billion in contributions and $11.2 billion in low interest loans – to repair existing rental housing and develop new affordable housing. The Fund is expected to create up to 60,000 new homes and repair up to 240,000 existing community homes.

The Fund will involve partnerships with – and investments from – the provinces and territories, municipalities, non-profits, co-operatives, and the private-sector. It will provide:

  • More shelter spaces for survivors of violence
  • Transitional and supportive housing for those in need
  • New and repaired affordable and community housing
  • Help to make homeownership more affordable for modest income earners

National Housing Co-Investment Fund (CNW Group/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

The Fund will also support Canada’s climate change goals, promote technologies that decrease the impact of housing on the environment, and improve the accessibility of housing for people with disabilities.

To encourage the development of sustainable, accessible, mixed-income, and mixed-use developments and to maximize the impact of this Fund, the Government of Canada will transfer up to $200 million in federal lands to housing providers. Funding will also be provided for environmental remediation, renovations, or retrofits to ensure surplus federal buildings are suitable for use as housing.

Canada Housing Benefit

The federal government will invite provinces and territories to partner on a jointly funded $4-billion Canada Housing Benefit.

To be launched in 2020, the Canada Housing Benefit will provide affordability support directly to families and individuals in housing need, including those currently living in social housing, those on a social housing wait-list and those housed in the private market but struggling to make ends meet.

The Government estimates that the Canada Housing Benefit will deliver an average of $2,500 per year to each recipient household. Over time, the Canada Housing Benefit will grow to support at least 300,000 households across the country.