Category: vjicpawiprel

Plentiful pecans

first_imgDespite a bumper crop of high-quality pecans this year, Georgia’s growers will probably make fewer profits from their harvest. However, consumers can expect to pay about the same price for the tree nuts as they did last fall. This year’s crop came in early and “looks good,” but farmers are getting less for their harvest than they have the past two years, said Lenny Wells, pecan specialist with UGA Cooperative Extension.“We have a somewhat unexpectedly good crop that will be very close to the same level as last year’s crop,” he said. For the past four years, Georgia has led the nation in pecan production. According to the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, the crop had a farm gate value of just over $233 million in 2010. Economists estimate this year’s crop will be worth $200 million because of lower per pound prices. Dry, warm weather: perfect growing condition for pecansAcross the state, this year’s warm, dry weather meant that pecan crops were healthy and about two weeks ahead of schedule, Wells said. “The interesting thing about this crop was its earliness,” he said. “The warm winter and spring led to an early bud break, early foliage and crop development that continued through the season to crop maturity.”Warm, spring weather jump-started this year’s crop, and the lack of rainfall in most parts of the growing region kept disease pressure down. “While the southern tier of counties south of Tifton had decent rain, many counties north of Tifton remained pretty dry,” Wells said. “Some areas across the bottom tier of the state had a significant amount of rainfall in the summer that increased disease pressure and may have affected quality some.”Those growers in drier areas may have had to worry less about disease, but they had to worry more about irrigating their crop. Seventy to 100 percent of Georgia’s commercial pecan growers irrigate their crop.“Water, at the right time, does more for a pecan crop than any other management practice,” he said. “(UGA Extension) doesn’t recommend trying to grow them without irrigation. It’s just too much of a gamble with the current cost of production.”Prize crop of pecans isn’t bringing prize pricesWhile Georgia’s farmers are seeing more and better quality pecans this year because of their growing practices and the weather, they won’t see an increased profit, Wells said. “Commercial pecan prices started out okay, but the price has declined somewhat over the last few weeks. This has been a big disappointment for most growers,” he said.To date, the ‘Desirable’ cultivar appears to be the only variety holding its value at around $2.50 per pound. Most other common varieties have fallen off to “anywhere from $1.50 to $2.30 per pound depending on the size and quality. Yard tree prices are considerably lower at $1.00 per pound or less, regardless of variety,” Wells said.Consumers can expect to pay about the same price they paid last fall, he said, because demand remains high for pecans, particularly in the international market.“China remains our main export market and continues to drive the price of pecans,” Wells said. “The domestic market has had very little growth, and by some accounts has remained flat or declined over the past few years depending on the source of information. So the export market has truly given new life to the industry.” Consumers in China seem to prefer larger nut varieties like Desirable, he said. Pecan industry organizations are promoting pecans in other countries and regions like Canada, Europe, India, and the Middle East. Their goal is to keep the export demand high and not rely solely on one country to maintain that demand, Wells said. “We will need additional acreage to meet the demand if they are successful in this,” he said.Interest in growing pecans has been on the rise the past year or two. A UGA Extension survey last spring showed an increase of about 6,000 acres of pecan trees planted last winter.In a separate study funded by the Georgia Pecan Commodity Commission, Wells looked at the effect of growing pecans with less water early in the season when the demand is lowest. With one year of data collected, it appears pecan growers in the Southeast can grow pecans with significantly less water than what is currently recommended. In this study UGA researchers reduced water use by more than 30 percent over the current recommended irrigation schedule. No difference in yield, quality or water stress on the trees was recorded. To learn more about other commodities and their farm gate values, visit the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development website at www.caed.uga.edulast_img read more

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Two new greenway projects coming to Asheville, NC

first_imgTwo new greenway projects coming to Asheville, NC NC daily air quality forecasts will now include ozone forecasts In a release, the DEQ says that the new process will continue to monitor and forecast ozone and particulate matter via the air quality index, along with the corresponding AQI color codes to help North Carolinians plan their outdoor activities.  From March through October, the North Carolina Division of Air Quality will release daily air quality forecasts. For the first time ever, these forecasts will also include ozone forecasts for nearly all counties in North Carolina.  The Asheville City Council approved two new 2020 greenway projects at their most recent council meeting. In a release, the city says the first is a project called Elsie’s Bridge Greenway Connector, which will repurpose a former bridge to connect Depot Street to Ralph Street. It includes construction of a concrete trail path, connecting sidewalk, refurbishment of the bridge surface and installation of a handrail. Property near the bridge will also be turned into a community garden. The second approved project is the Reed Creek Greenway Extension. The extension will run behind a mixed-use building in the West Chestnut Street Bridge area south to Elizabeth Street. Both projects should be completed this year.   American physical activity rates increase after years of stagnancy  After years of stagnant activity rates, three million more Americans took part in some sport or fitness activity in 2019, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) announced in a release. Their report found that fitness, outdoor activities and team sports showed the most growth. The report also found large disparities among those who are physically active. Households in income brackets of $49,999 and below reported being significantly more inactive than those with incomes of $50,000 or above. “As a nation, we have a special responsibility to ensure that access to sport and fitness is open to all, without regard to one’s income,” said SFIA President and CEO Tom Cove.last_img read more

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Brazilian Military Team Wins First Gold Medal in Triathlon World Championship

first_imgBy Dialogo August 29, 2012 The national anthem and the green and yellow flag took over the city of Lausanne, Switzerland, on August 25. For the first time, Brazil was on top of the podium in the female, male, and mixed teams’ modalities in the Triathlon World Championship (swimming, cycling, and running). The Brazilian athletes qualified in all five categories of the competition, bringing home three gold medals, one silver and one bronze. The positive outcome, according to the chief of the Brazilian delegation, Colonel Mario Felizardo Medina, surprised the competitors, who placed the Chinese, French, and Polish delegates as favorites. “The strategy used in the competition was very important, and also the job well done by the team”, he stated. According to the colonel, in addition to their opponents, the Brazilian athletes faced difficulties with the time difference (five hours ahead of their capital, Brasília), the food, and the fact that they had arrived to the European country the day before the competition. Once more, the female participation stood out among the Brazilian military athletes. The winner of one of the gold medals was 24-year-old Sergeant Pâmella Nascimento de Oliveira, from Rio Grande do Sul. The athlete is now the world military champion. She recently participated in the 2012 London Olympic Games, and also won the bronze medal in the Pan-American Games last year. Another Army officer, 26-year-old Sergeant Reinaldo Colucci, from São Paulo, won a gold medal for the Brazilian team in the individual modality. He is the current Pan-American Triathlon champion. He gained the lead during the running portion of the last competition, guaranteeing the medal. In his personal website he said he was “very happy and proud to see the Brazilian flag at the top.” The mixed team won the third gold medal. The results gave Brazil first place on the podium. The Brazilian military also won a silver medal for the male team, for which the teamwork of Army sergeants Reinaldo Colucci, Marcus Fernandes, Bruno Matheus, Wesley Matos, as well as that of Major Kelmerson Buck, and Capitan Diefferson Felix prevailed. The female team won the bronze, with Army sergeants Pâmella Oliveira, Flávia Fernandes, and Vanessa Gianinni; and sailors Carolina Furriela, Fernanda Garcia, and Carolina Menezes. The Military Triathlon World Championship, organized by the Swiss Army this year, brought together approximately 120 athletes from 18 countries. The Army Sports Committee trained the Brazilian team in Rio de Janeiro. The victory, according to Col. Medina, the next step is the 2015 Military World Games delegation, in South Korea. “This is our main goal from now on”, he said.last_img read more

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Add one thing to your communications to cross-sell like a boss

first_imgSourceGoldstein, N. J., Martin, S. J., & Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Yes!: 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive. United States: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group. If you’re a credit union marketer searching for “cross-selling best practices” on the internets, then you’ve seen the lists. There are a lot of lists out there, and the bad news is that most all of them include single paragraph puff pieces that drone on about the importance of leveraging your data when it comes to cross-selling…Of course leveraging your data is important. But how should you leverage it?Don’t get me wrong, I like lists just as much as the next guy. But when it comes down to it, you’ve got a job to do and you’re probably thinking that fresh ideas can help you solve your immediate marketing problems more than inspirational paragraphs that all say the same thing. With that in mind, one practical experiment you can run quickly, to “leverage your data” is to sprinkle some “social proof” into your communications.What is social proof, you ask?According to Wikipedia, Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situationOne quick way to use social proof in your cross-sell communications is to let your members know the segment that you’ve created for them. That’s right. You’ve run the numbers and figured out the next most likely product to offer a given member. Why not let them know, too? As an onboarding example, if your data tells you that 72% of your new checking account members also use Direct Deposit, figure out a way to weave that into your communication, along with at least one benefit of the product. You can even throw in a testimonial for extra bonus points.Here’s a quick take for starters:We’re pumped that you’ve joined our family, [FIRST NAME], and truly want you to get the most out of our relationship together. Along those lines, we noticed that you haven’t signed up for [CROSS-SELL PRODUCT] yet, and thought that you’d be interested to know that [PERCENTAGE] of our members have both [CURRENT PRODUCT] and [CROSS-SELL PRODUCT] together. We think that’s because [KILLER PRODUCT BENEFIT]. And it’s feedback from people like [MEMBER NAME] that make us think that:[TESTIMONIAL]You get the idea. If you’re looking for personalization, show people what you know about them and what you know about other people like them. Then, communicate all of it.The science behind this idea comes from experiments led by Dr. Robert Cialdini, best-selling author of two books that I highly recommend, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. In a series of studies detailed throughout Dr. Cialdini’s books, one of a few simple concepts emerged:“People have a tendency to do what most other people are doing” (Goldstein, Martin, & Cialdini, 2009)So, now that you know, go on and test this idea. Test if and how it applies to your membership for a couple of products and track what you learn. Be sure to test this messaging against a control message to gauge whether or not it’s effective across those initial products. If showing members what segment they fall into provides a lift in your cross-sell efforts, then work to roll it out across multiple product offers and track those results.And if you need help finding these insights in your data, setting up communications, sending them out and tracking the results, check out our all-in-one communication platform: Core iQ. 146SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Chris Hall Chris Hall is very fond of the Internet and enjoys all aspects of digital marketing. He leads the inbound marketing and customer development efforts at Onovative, a company that believes … Web: www.onovativebanking.com Detailslast_img read more

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CFOs & financial employees become good scam targets

first_imgCFOs and financial employees are the most at risk of being targeted in business email compromise schemes according to the latest global research report from Campbell-Calif. based Barracuda Networks.In its study, based on an analysis of 3,000 BEC attacks, Barracuda, a provider of cloud-enabled security and data protection solutions, revealed more than 33% of the primary targets of BEC attacks are CFOs and financial employees; and over 46% of attacks seek to initiate a wire transfer.The report warned criminals use BEC attacks to obtain access to a business email account and imitate the owner’s identity to defraud the company and its employees, customers or partners. “In most cases, scammers focus efforts on employees with access to company finances or payroll data and other personally identifiable information.” 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

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Why are we here: Does your credit union mission inspire its employees?

first_imgAs we all refine our strategic plans and look beyond this year’s successes to yet another New Year, leaders should be challenged to ask themselves, “Are our employees engaged and focused on a mission-driven purpose tied to members and successful strategies?”Over my 31-year leadership career in the credit union industry, through the evolution from those early years without the internet, email or PCs, until today’s focus on digital transformation and member experience, one thing has been a constant with our industry. That is, successful credit unions foster a mission-driven culture that attracts and engages talented team members. And the culture drives service excellence.In a recent edition of the Harvard Business Review, an article titled, “Why are we here” caught my eye. The author’s premise was that, if we want employees who are more engaged and productive, we have to give them a purpose – one concretely tied to customers and our strategy.Well, obviously that is what we should all want but how do we do it?The article suggests that a purpose or mission statement is critically important and it needs to be continuously reinforced organizationally. As CEOs and management staff, we’re responsible for creating a powerful purpose or mission statement that clearly articulates strategy and that motivates employees. But this is so much more than words. It may begin with the words, but it has to extend into how they are communicated and reinforced throughout the credit union’s day-to-day operations, its website, marketing materials, employee reward systems and staff training.Equally important, the HBR article suggests that delivering on the purpose includes several key elements. They are:Be a magnet for the right talentConnect with intention across boundariesInvest behind your purpose, andMake sure your leaders model your purposeToday, it’s so easy to navigate through any credit union’s website to find their mission statement or elevator value pitch. These aren’t always the official mission statements but they articulate the credit union’s value proposition clearly and succinctly to current and prospective members:California-based Schoolsfirst Credit Union promises this:“Having served school employees for more than 80 years, we understand the financial challenges you face both in your classroom and at home. We design our products and services with you in mind, creating an ever-growing number of lower-cost, higher-quality offerings in an environment where your character counts more than your credit score. Compassion and a commitment to excellence are the promises we make to each other, to the educational system, and to every Member, especially those who need us the most.”That’s pretty compelling. And surely employees find meaning in their work delivering on that promise.At Michigan-based One Detroit Credit Union, and as a smaller urban credit union, their value pitch reads like this:“Our mission is to impact and change lives.We help people in our community who have been overlooked by the mainstream banking system by providing them with credible, fair and reasonably priced financial products and services.”I love this emphasis on a purpose-driven mission to help those who need it the most.The world’s largest credit union, Navy Federal puts it this way:“Since 1933, Navy Federal has grown from seven members to over eight million members. And, since that time, our mission has remained the same: to serve and enrich the lives of those in the military community.”That defines purpose very succinctly and powerfully.And Pennsylvania’s largest credit union, PSECU professes this on their website:“Opportunity starts here. Our free checking, ATM rebates*, cash rewards credit card, and low rate loans will help keep more of your money with you.”I love that emphasis on helping people keep more of their money.But to deliver on purpose, let’s go back to the four tips from the HRB article mentioned earlier.First, being a magnet for the right talent means putting the right people in the right roles to achieve the credit union’s goals and competitive distinctiveness. For most credit unions, especially smaller ones, it’s unrealistic to achieve this in all operational areas. So, prioritizing the most pressing functions that need improvement, and committing to staffing excellence there, will carry the day. At any point in time, resource reinvention might be more pressing in product development, finance or sales culture.So, prioritizing the areas where staffing excellence is most needed, is a critical staff for resource-strapped credit unions.Second, to connect with intention across boundaries means that, once you have the right high-priority talent, the credit union needs to be configured to allow the team to accomplish the credit union’s objectives.Again, this is so logical but so much easier said than done.A popular concept is to create cross-functional teams. For instance, an innovation team or lending enhancement team to improve member experience. But cross-functional teams require prioritization and long-term commitment and lots of communication to avoid just creating another round of unproductive meetings.Just as prioritizing talent improvements makes sense, so does the prioritization of cross-functional teams to address the credit union’s most pressing planning objectives.Third, investing behind your purpose…Few things are as demoralizing for staff as being asked to improve something without adequate resources and management commitment to follow through.So, for instance, if a credit union wants to commit to a cross-functional process for improving member experience in mortgage lending, management needs to commit to staffing changes, enhancements, meeting processes, investment in technology platforms and other identified tactics in order to meet the objective.CU Solutions Group recently acquired a company called, MemberXP. The platform is used by over 100 credit unions large and small.MXProdigy lets you uncover the highs and the lows of multi-touch member experiences such as lending with pinpoint precision. In today’s omnichannel world, a typical loan might originate on the Web, get approved by a loan processor, and be closed by a telephone representative. That’s a great journey for the member, but there are plenty of places to stumble along the way. MXProdigy breaks omnichannel and multi-touch experiences into distinct parts for scoring and analysis so you can take action where it’s critical.This is one example of a product that requires an investment by the credit union. Investing smartly behind your purpose is so important.And finally, fourth, making sure leaders model your purpose…I can’t tell you how many times my staff and other stakeholders have heard me reference CUSG’s mission statement of helping credit unions serve, grow and remain strong, so that together, we can make an impact on people’s lives.But as leaders, we need to do more than say the words. As previously mentioned, we have to commit to staffing enhancements, the organizing of teams and the investments behind top objectives. We have to walk the talk.Longtime Michigan football coaching legend Bo Schembechler led the University of Michigan’s football team for 20 years between 1969 to 1989. During those years, the team won almost 80% of their games and won or shared 13 Big 10 championships in the pre-BCS playoff era.He famously said…“When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing.”In today’s record-long expansion economy, most credit unions are winning and producing great performance metrics. But when times are good, it’s easy to get soft and complacent. The largest banks are investing heavily in improved customer experience and digital banking. Credit unions need to do the same.And when the next recession comes around, that’s when leaders especially need to invest in and believe in their team.Great tools like Member XP’s member experience platform can help with that.More broadly, applying principles like those laid out in the Harvard Business Review article can make for great plans that will truly impact the creation of the right organizational culture for attracting and retaining the talent that will make us successful in good times and bad. 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Dave Adams Dave Adams is  President / Chief Executive Officer of CU Solutions Group. The  CUSG office is located in Livonia, Michigan.Mr. Adams joined the Michigan Credit Union League in August of … Web: www.CUSolutionsGroup.com Detailslast_img read more

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Much Better Adventures: 95% of adventurous travelers still want to travel abroad in 2021

first_imgA new study on the UK adventure travel market, conducted by travel company Much Better Adventures, found that 95% of adventure travelers still want to travel abroad in 2021. Photo: Pexels.com 9.Sweden The survey also focused on the destinations that adventure travelers most wanted to travel to, with Italy at the top of the list and Croatia in 5th place. The first ten countries that travelers on a British adventure have considered in the next year or two, in order: The survey sought to understand what the future holds for the UK travel market by revealing how soon people will want to travel again and whether their approach will change fundamentally. “It’s amazing to hear the positive reactions coming from this survey. This reflects the peak of booking activity we are currently looking at on our platform and we hope this gives our much-needed industry optimism. It is vital that our industry returns to supporting the many local communities around the world that rely so heavily on adventure tourism. Said Sam Bruce, co-founder of Much Better Adventures. 4.Spain 8.Slovenia The results of interviews and surveys on 3.080 adventure travelers provided a surprisingly positive picture of adventure tourism. 5.Croatiacenter_img 7.Canada 3.France 1.Italy 10. Iceland Take a look at the whole research here By the way, Much Better Adventures currently offers 5 adventure tours in Croatia. Maybe this is an opportunity for our organizers to position themselves and contact the Much Better Adventures agency, since Croatia is well positioned according to their survey. Bruce himself, one of the founders of the agency, is a contact for expanding partners, and you can contact him directly here By the way, Much Better Adventures offers over 140 adventures in 48 countries, with 5% of the proceeds from the booking going to funding the protection and support of remote families affected by COVID-19, as well as support to local communities. 6.Greece 2.Norwaylast_img read more

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Disappearing act: Market braces for volatile March after $2.4b vanishes in a week

first_imgThe central bank and market players are expecting the worst in March as uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus drive volatility in stocks, bonds and foreign exchange markets.Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Perry Warjiyo said on Friday that he expected the coronavirus crisis to peak in February and March, before a recovery in the second quarter. The central bank pumped Rp 87 trillion (US$6.2 billion) into the domestic bond market in February to prop up prices and the value of the rupiah as foreign funds sold US$2.4 billion worth of bonds and stocks.“We project the recovery will take about six months starting in mid-March or April,” Perry said. BI will continue to intervene to stabilize the bond market and the rupiah through the spot market, the domestic non-deliverable forward (NDF) market and by buying government bonds (SBN) in the secondary market, the governor added. The rupiah weakened to its lowest level since August 2019 on Friday at Rp 14,234 per US dollar, according to the Jakarta Interbank Spot Dollar Rate (JISDOR). Fitch Solutions announced it had revised down the rupiah’s outlook for 2020 from Rp 13,650 to Rp 14,207 against the greenback due to a higher risk of a local coronavirus outbreak.”The short-term drivers have turned negative due to the elevated global COVID-19 pandemic and likely local outbreak risk,” Fitch stated. “We believe that risks of local outbreaks are high, which, once reported, will exert significant downside pressure.”Read also: Coronavirus may weaken rupiah this year: Fitch SolutionsIndonesia has, so far, reported zero cases of coronavirus as countries outside China see more new cases than the country where the virus originated, increasing concerns about a global pandemic that could affect economies beyond the world’s second largest economy. Worldwide, more than 84,000 people have been infected with the virus and 2,870 have died.“The market does not like uncertainties. As as long as there’s no vaccine, no ability to cure or anything that could prevent spread, the market will continue to be unstable,” Sucor Sekuritas head of business development Bernadus Setya Ananda Wijaya said at a discussion forum in Jakarta on Saturday.Bernad estimated that recovery would start three months after the peak of the outbreak, which would mean that by April or May the stock market could be more stable, based on the experience from the SARS outbreak in 2002.The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) plans to begin reopening in March some of the 800 trading accounts that have been suspended for possible links to investment mismanagement by troubled state insurer Jiwasraya, he added, to help support the market.“Some of these are jumbo accounts that could move Indonesia’s stock market,” said Bernad. “At present, if foreign investors dump, the drop will be steep because there are no jumbo accounts to support.”The JCI fall would not go below the 5,000 level, about 8 percent lower than its position of 5,452.7 on Friday, analysts said. The benchmark index’s price valuation as measured by the price-to-earnings ratio is currently at 11 times, much lower than the index’s average PER of 16 times.Sucor Sekuritas is depending on cement, banking and construction stocks to drive growth in the domestic stock market, citing Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BBRI), Summarecon Agung (SMRA), Semen Indonesia (SMGR) and Wijaya Karya (WIKA), among others.Topics : Read also: Coronavirus crash wipes $5 trillion off world stocksLast week alone, foreign investors sold off a net Rp 29.4 trillion in the bond market and Rp 4.2 trillion in the stock market, according to data compiled by state-owned brokerage firm Mandiri Sekuritas. That rounded up a selling spree of Rp 33.6 trillion or $2.4 billion as countries outside China began to report more cases.Over the week, the benchmark stock index the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI) fell 7.3 percent and the rupiah depreciated by 4.1 percent against the US dollar. Ten-year Indonesian government bond yields, which indicate investment risk, rose 35 basis points last week to 6.83 percent on Thursday, the third biggest increase after Turkey and Russia.“The biggest buyer of government bonds month-to-date is Bank Indonesia,” said Mandiri Sekuritas head of fixed income research Handy Yunianto. “Onshore banks also supported the bond market.”last_img read more

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Gov. Wolf Vetoes SB 327, HB 2388 and HB 2412

first_imgGov. Wolf Vetoes SB 327, HB 2388 and HB 2412 May 19, 2020 Press Release,  Public Health Governor Tom Wolf today vetoed three bills related to the state’s response to COVID-19 that violate the separation of powers and make other changes that go against the administration’s measured plan for reopening the state safely.Senate Bill 327 would authorize counties to develop and implement their own mitigation plans and decide when businesses within their county can reopen and includes a provision that prohibits commonwealth agencies from performing an essential governmental operation, the promulgation of regulations, until 90 days after the COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration is terminated unless the legislature grants permission for a regulation to advance.House Bill 2388 and House Bill 2412 would allow various industries to reopen in red phase counties.“Since the beginning of this month, my administration has been gradually transitioning counties from the restrictive red phase to an intermediate yellow phase,” Wolf wrote. “The decisions to move counties from the red phase to the yellow phase are based on the advice of expert epidemiologists. These decisions are not based just on the number of cases of COVID-19, but are also based on other critical factors, such as how community members interact, the county’s number of potential transmission points, a county’s geographic location, the capacity to undertake contact tracing, and testing availability.”Read the veto message for SB 327 here.Read the veto message for HB 2388 here.Read the veto message for HB 2412 here.Ver esta página en español.center_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

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France: PM outlines pension reform plan after days of strikes

first_imgOn the sensitive point of the retirement age, prime minister Philippe said the legal retirement age would stay at 62, but that longer working lives were the only solution to a shrinking old age support ratio and that an “equilibrium age” needed to be set at 64, with a “bonus malus” system.This would mean that a full pension would only become payable from the age of 64, with reductions for earlier departures and top-ups for later retirement.One of France’s largest trade union groups, CFDT, has been supportive of the move to a universal points-based system to replace the current 42 different schemes, but today said by pursuing the introduction of this equilibrium age the government was crossing “a red line”.CGT, a hardline trade union, called for more industrial action in the wake of the speech, which it said showed the government remained “deaf” to demands from various constituencies.Philippe dedicated a portion of his speech to concerns and calls emanating from certain professions, including the so-called “liberal” professions, which have fears about the fate of the financial reserves built up in their retirement schemes.The prime minister sought to assuage these fears, saying the reserves would stay with the schemes; there would be no “siphoning to close this or that deficit”. TimetableIn terms of the timing of the application of the reform, Philippe unveiled that a pensions reform bill would be submitted to the cabinet on 22 January 2020 and discussed in parliament at the end of February. He pledged a gradual adoption of the new system.It would start operating in 2022 for those entering the labour market from that year, while the generation born in 1975 and before would switch to the new system from 2025. Workers less than 17 years from retirement and current pensioners would be unaffected by the introduction of the new system. In a keenly anticipated speech about the government’s pension reform the French prime minister today defended the move to a universal points-based system but outlined some measures and commitments intended to address concerns about the contentious project.The speech comes after several days of strikes and demonstrations about the reform. Initial reactions from trade unions suggest the government will continue to face vocal opposition.Addressing concerns about pension levels not being maintained under the proposed new system, Edouard Philippe said the law would provide guarantees about the value of a pension point, and that the social partners – trade unions and employers – would be responsible for fixing its value and evolution, under the control of parliament.The switch to a universal system where each day worked generates pension entitlement points was one of president Emmanuel Macron’s main campaign pledges two years ago. Today there are 42 different retirement regimes for different sectors or professional groups, with varying rules for contributions and benefits. In his speech the prime minister also said the social partners would also be given responsibility for deciding, at the latest by January 2021, measures to return the French pension system to financial equilibrium.Last month Conseil d’Orientation des Retraites, which monitors the French retirement system and makes public policy recommendations, forecast a deficit in the system of between €7.9bn and €17.2bn in 2025, equivalent to between 0.3% and 0.6% of GDP.last_img read more

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