Friday, 24 October 2014

Choppergate: CBI may seek info from Singapore, Seychelles

Abhishek Sharan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 24, 2014
First Published: 22:58 IST(24/10/2014) | Last Updated: 23:03 IST(24/

The CBI, which is probing receipt of alleged kickbacks in the Rs. 3,600 crore VVIP AgustaWestland deal, is likely to send Letters Rogatory (LR) to authorities in Singapore and Seychelles to seek details regarding certain monetary transactions under its scanner. The Seychelles and Singapore connections have emerged in the probe for the first time.

“The probe has taken under its scanner certain transactions from an accused Tunisian firm to an intermediary firm in Mauritius, which in turn, routed the funds to a few other firms based in the same country as well as in Singapore and Seychelles,” said a CBI source. The alleged transactions were done through banks located in Port Louis in Mauritius, Victoria in Seychelles and in Singapore, said the source.

The details, once procured, would help in determining the nature of the transactions, said the source. The CBI has already requested, via LRs, authorities in United Kingdom, Italy, Tunisia and Mauritius details on the money-trail but is yet to get a response.

An Italian court recently handed out a two-year jail term to former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and its UK-based subsidiary AgustaWestland’s former boss Bruno Spagnolini for falsifying invoices, but cleared them of the more serious corruption charges in the deal.

http://www.hindustantimes.com

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Dirty Money routed through Singapore, Seychelles?


Evidence collected by Indian investigating agencies into the AgustaWestland helicopter deal reveals that kickbacks into the country were routed through a circuitous financial network involving countries like Singapore and Seychelles. For the first time a Seychelles connection has surfaced in the multi-crore helicopter deal.

Sources said both Central probe agencies CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are planning to send judicial requests to authorities concerned in Singapore and Seychelles to get details about certain firms based there. Sources said the CBI is preparing to examine some more private persons in connection with its probe into the deal. The ED is planning to send judicial requests to about six countries in this regard, they added.
The ED recently arrested a businessman Gautam Khaitan in connection with the case. Investigations by the agency revealed that Mr Khaitan had allegedly helped the Anglo-Italian defence manufacturer in facilitating the transfer of kickbacks, approximately 2.16 million Euros, to India. It has also been revealed that Mr Khaitan allegedly introduced European middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke to Satish Bagrodia and Pratap K. Aggarwal, chairman and managing director respectively of the suspected firm IDS Infotech Ltd (India).

Indian investigators, sources said, suspects the route of stash funds to have originated from Italy and routed through Mauritius, Tunisia, Singapore and Seychelles to India. Mr Khaitan was on the board of Chandigarh-based Aero-matrix and he had resigned from the post after the Italian police started its probe into the chopper deal in 2012. The firm is allegedly a front company for the financial dealings of the copter deal. The ED on July 4 had booked former IAF Chief S.P. Tyagi and 12 others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in the helicopter deal case.

 http://www.asianage.com/india/money-routed-through-singapore-seychelles-807

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Who's Running The Show?


Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, led a one-day working visit to Paris to meet with French tour operators and members of the press. Minister St.Ange was accompanied on this working visit by Captain David Savy, the Chairman of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), and Mr. Manoj Papa, the CEO of Air Seychelles.
In Paris, the Seychelles Minister and his delegation were joined by Bernadette Willemin, the Seychelles Tourism Board's Paris-based Director for Europe; the island's Marketing Executive, Christine Vel; and Jennifer Dupuy. Air Seychelles' Justin Gosling and Christine Ozouf were also present at the meeting when Minister Alain St.Ange announced that Air Seychelles would, with immediate effect, operate its two weekly flights between Paris and Seychelles with only a technical stop in Abu Dhabi where passengers now remain on board the plane during the short stop.
"We can today announce that Seychelles has negotiated with Abu Dhabi for our flights to be authorized to make technical stops only in Abu Dhabi on the way to Seychelles. Tour operators from France have been requesting that their passengers traveling to Seychelles do not disembark during the transit stop in Abu Dhabi. The point was made that families with children were not happy with having to disembark and go through the security procedures before re-embarking on the plane. The same applied to the elderly passengers. Today we can confirm that we had heard the message and that the Abu Dhabi authorities had accepted to make an exception for the Air Seychelles flights to and from Paris and also Hong Kong," Minister St.Ange said.
The Seychelles Minister also explained the refocusing by Seychelles on tourism as the pillar of the island's economy with an inter-ministerial meeting with members of the tourism private sector and Chamber of Commerce and Industries where the challenges being faced by the industry are tabled, analyzed, and necessary actions proposed. This inter-ministerial meeting is being chaired by the island's Vice President Faure. Minister St.Ange also spoke about a separate committee instigated by President James Michel of the Seychelles that regroups the Ministers of Finance, Transport, and Tourism to analyze coordinated approaches to marketing and air access.
Also addressing the Paris tourism meeting were Captain David Savy and Mr. Manoj Papa. Both said that Air Seychelles had answered the call made by French tour operators and that this was but the first step to direct non-stop flights in the future. "We need to work together to stimulate the market and get numbers growing so that the island's national airline can in due course consider direct flights," they both said.

http://www.eturbonews.com/51584/seychelles-announces-details-flights-and-paris

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Was Mancham Under Pressure from Rene to Remove USAF Tracking Station?


1. SEYCHELLES CHIEF MINISTER JAMES MANCHAM STOPPED BY EMBASSY LONDON ON HIS RETURN TRIP FROM A CONFERENCE ON TOURISM IN MEXICO IN ORDER TO EXPRESS CERTAIN CONCERNS HE HAD ABOUT FUTURE OF U.S.-SEYCHELLES RELATIONS. HE HAD CALLED AT FCO TO DISCUSS UK AND US RELATIONS AND WAS REFERRED TO US ON LATTER. HIS CONCERN IS FOCUSED ON WHAT HE REGARDS AS A DETERIORATION OF THE PUBLIC RELATIONS ASPECT OF THE USAF TRACKING STATION OPERATION IN SEYCHELLES, EXACERBATED BY THE IMPENDING TERMINATION OF THE PL-480 SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM IN THE SEYCHELLES. THIS PROGRAM IS LOOKED UPON IN THE SEYCHELLES AS BEING PART OF THE "QUID" FOR SEYCHELLOIS PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF THE TRACKING STATION. 2. MANCHAM OUTLINED THE HISTORY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AMERICAN PERSONNEL AT THE STATION AND THE GENERAL POPULATION SINCE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE TRACK- ING STATION IN 1966. HE SAID THAT IN THE EARLY DAYS THERE SEEMED TO BE A DETERMINED EFFORT ON THE PART OF THE AMERICANS TO CREATE A GOOD IMAGE AND HAPPY RELATIONS CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 LONDON 13342 141941Z WITH THE PEOPLE.

HOWEVER, OF LATE IT HAS APPEARED TO HIM AND TO THE PUBLIC AT LARGE THAT THE AMERICANS ARE TAKING THE SEYCHELLOIS FOR GRANTED. THERE HAVE BEEN NO SERIOUS INCIDENTS BUT NOTHING POSITIVE HAS BEEN DONE LATELY TO FOSTER GOOD RELATIONS BETWEEN THE AMERICANS AND THE POPULATION OF THE ISLANDS. MANCHAM SAID THAT CUTTING OFF THE PL-480 PROGRAM WOULD AFFECT SOME 8,600 PEOPLE, 4,500 OF THEM PRE-SCHOOL CHILDREN WHO DEPEND ALMOST ENTIRELY ON THE FOOD PROGRAM FOR THEIR LUNCHES AND SUPPLEMENTS TO THEIR DIET. WHEN PL-480 ENDS, THE FAMILIES WHO HAVE BENEFITED FROM IT WILL HAVE TO BUY ADDITIONAL FOOD AT VERY HIGH PRICES. TO MAKE THE PROBLEM WORSE, THE SEYCHELLES HAS UNTIL THIS YEAR DEPENDED ON THAILAND FOR ITS STAPLE FOOD SUPPLY, RICE, BUT THAILAND IS NOW UNABLE TO MEET THE SEYCHELLES REQUIREMENTS AND THEY HAVE BEEN FORCED TO BUY INFERIOR RICE FROM EGYPT AT THREE TIMES THE OLD PRICE. 3. THE PROBLEM FOR MANCHAM IS A POLITICAL ONE AS THE OPPOSITION, WHICH FAVORS INDEPENDENCE, IS NOW CALLING ATTENTION TO THE CHANGE IN THE AMERICAN ATTITUDE AND THE LOSS OF FOOD SUPPLIES. MANCHAM SAID IT WOULD BE BETTER FROM A POLITICAL POINT OF VIEW HAD WE NEVER ESTABLISHED THE PL-480 PROGRAM. THIS SITUATION IS WORSENED BY THE REALIZATION OF THE SEYCHELLOIS THAT THE WEALTHY AMERICANS PAY NO TAXES AND CAN IMPORT ANYTHING THEY WANT ON A DUTY FREE BASIS. ON A SMALL ISLAND, THIS DISPARITY BETWEEN LOCALS AND AMERICANS IS PAINFULLY OBVIOUS. 4. WHEN ASKED IF HE HAD TALKED TO ANY AMERICAN OFFICIALS IN THIS VEIN PREVIOUSLY, MANCHAM SAID THAT HE HAD NOT. HE HAD THOUGHT OF STOPPING BY WASHINGTON ON HIS WAY BACK FROM MEXICO BUT DECIDED THAT BECAUSE OF THE CURRENT PREOCCUPATIONS THERE, HE MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE. ALTHOUGH USAID OFFICER SHERMAN FROM NAIROBI HAS BEEN TO THE SEYCHELLES TO INFORM OFFICIALS OF THE TERMINATION OF THE PL-480 PROGRAM AT THE END OF THIS FISCAL YEAR, THERE HAVE BEEN NO DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN SEYCHELLOIS OFFICIALS AND EMBASSY NAIROBI OFFICERS CONCERNING THE POLITICAL IMPACT OF THIS ACTION. WE DESCRIBED TO MANCHAM REASONS WHY PL-480 HAD BEEN DRASTICALLY CURTAILED ON A WORLDWIDE BASIS. HE SEEMED TO APPRECIATE THIS POINT BUT WAS PLEADING FOR CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 LONDON 13342 141941Z SOME SORT OF GESTURE FROM THE UNITED STATES WHICH WOULD ENABLE THE SEYCHELLES GOVERNMENT TO MAKE THE CONTINUED PRESENCE OF THE TRACKING STATION POLITICALLY ACCEPTABLE. WE PROMISED TO CONVEY HIS VIEWS TO WASHINGTON AND NAIROBI. ANNENBERG CONFIDENTIAL

Source:  Wikileaks

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Egyptian court upholds death penalty imposed on three Seychelles nationals


The highest Court of Appeal in Egypt has upheld the death penalty imposed on three Seychellois nationals convicted of drug trafficking, the Seychelles Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) says it has learnt today.
In a press statement issued this afternoon, MFA said the three men who are currently being detained in Egypt’s Qena prison have lost their appeal against the death sentence imposed on them last year.
Ronny Norman Jean, Yvon John Vinda and Dean Dominic Loze were sentenced to death by execution on April 7, 2013, the sentence was confirmed on June 3, 2013.
Ever since the death sentence was imposed on the three Seychellois nationals, the Seychelles government had been appealing to the Egyptian government to commute their sentences to life imprisonment.
“Although it is the government’s policy to respect the sovereignty and judicial process in other countries, it nevertheless upholds the rights of its citizens to a fair trial. To this end, whilst reassuring the Egyptian authorities of its “zero tolerance” policy against drug trafficking, the Government wrote in 2013 to the Egyptian to appeal for a fair trial and the avoidance of capital punishment which does not exist in our legal system,” reads the MFA statement issued this afternoon.
“In the same vein, the Government took all measures practical and feasible to ensure that the Seychellois obtained the required legal and consular representation.”
The decision made known today implies that execution orders will now follow. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not specify if a date had been set for the sentence to be applied.
Executions are usually carried out by hanging in Egypt.
In spite of the recent development the archipelago’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs have made known the government’s intention to continue negotiating with the Egyptian authorities on the matter.
“…..the Government is not relenting in its efforts to pursue all possible diplomatic and legal avenues in consultation with the Egyptian authorities to avert the death penalty,” concludes the MFA statement.
The three Seychellois men were arrested on April 22, 2011 by the Egyptian police onboard a boat near the Red Sea coastal town of Marsa Alam. They were together with a British national identified as Charles Raymond Ferndale, who is said to be the owner of the vessel and another Pakistani national.
They were accused and charged for attempting to smuggle three tonnes of hashish, worth almost £3million, in 118 bags into Egypt.
It is believed that the drugs found in the South African flagged vessel originated from Pakistan.
All five men were sentenced to death, but the Pakistani national was said to have fled the scene and was sentenced in absentia.

http://www.el-balad.com/1193559

How Much Wealth Are Our Wealthiest Hiding?

Tax havens like the Seychelles Islands are helping our super rich annually evade hundreds of billions in taxes.
Almost everyone knows how Al Capone went down. We’ve seen the movies.
The biggest and baddest gangster in American history extorted and murdered for years. But the feds could never convict him on anything, until the green eyeshade guys went to work. They finally nabbed Capone — on income tax evasion.
The moral of this story? Even the most ruthless of our richest can’t hide what the federal government really wants to find.
We need the green eyeshades back on the job. Today’s wealthy have taken tax evasion to a level that old Scarface never dared imagine. Their network of offshore tax havens is now hiding a significant share of the world’s wealth.

How much are the mega rich hiding offshore? Independent analysts have been working to pin that figure down. The most recent — and statistically robust — of these estimates comes from the young London School of Economics analyst Gabriel Zucman, a protégé of the widely heralded French economist Thomas Piketty.
Zucman has zeroed in on what he calls the “anomalies” of international financial record-keeping. His prime example: the “residence principle.”
In theory, this notion works simply. Say, for instance, that a French national holds a $1 million investment in U.S. financial securities. Financial records, under the residence principle, are supposed to record this $1 million as an asset for France and a liability for the United States.
At the end of the day, these assets and liabilities should balance out globally. But they don’t. Not even close. Why not? The wealthy are stashing a growing share of their wealth in tax haven banks that don’t, Zucman notes, “automatically report the investment income earned by their clients to tax authorities.”
In effect, the economist relates, we’re living in a world where taxes on our wealthy can only be collected if these wealthy “self-declare their income.” Ever fewer do.
Zucman’s virtuoso statistical sleuthing ends up concluding that the global super rich — deep pockets who typically hold over $50 million in assets — had stashed, as of 2008, $7.6 trillion in offshore tax havens, about 8 percent of total global personal financial wealth.
About 80 percent of this offshore wealth, Zucman calculates, goes undeclared to tax authorities. Declaring that income — and paying a taxes due on it — would add, Zucman estimates, over $200 billion annually to global tax collections.
Zucman emphasizes that his figures only cover financial wealth. His calculations do not cover the huge sums the ultra rich have parked in jewels or fine art or luxury real estate.
Helping the wealthy hide their wealth, financial and otherwise, has become an astonishingly lucrative business opportunity for bankers and barristers the world over. Most all major global banks, including American giants like JPMorgan Chase, have subsidiaries in the world’s top tax havens.
This lucrative, tax-evading universe occasionally surfaces out of the opaque accounting depths. One story broke late last month when a federal judge sentenced powerhouse Illinois lawyer Paul Daugerdas to 15 years behind bars for a two-decade-long fraud that saved his wealthy clients $1.6 billion in taxes.
Those clients ranged from an early investor in Microsoft to the late oil billionaire Lamar Hunt, one of the most powerful owners in professional sports.
For his services, Daugerdas personally pocketed $97 million.
“This case shows the astonishing lengths some super-wealthy Americans will go to avoid their obligation as citizens,” U.S. district court judge William Pauley fumed at the sentencing. “Mr. Daugerdas was a tax shelter racketeer who tapped into the incredible greed of some of the country’s wealthy.”
A new tax law provision that went into effect July 1 could make life for Daugerdas and his colleagues more difficult. Or at least IRS officials hope so.
The 2010 passage of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act gave these officials the regulatory wherewithal to level stronger sanctions against foreign banks that play footsie with wealthy American tax cheats. As of this month, the heart of the law goes fully into effect: Foreign banks must now report the accounts of U.S. citizens that total over $50,000.
About 70 nations have so far agreed to abide by the new Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act reporting requirements, many without much enthusiasm.
Other nations — tax havens like the Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean — remain defiant. They see the new law as an ideal opportunity to boost their global market share in tax-evasion services.
Financial operators in the Seychelles specialize in creating “shell companies” that help their wealthy clients conceal their fortunes. They take a fee for every company created.
“The British Virgin Islands registers 30,000 companies a year,” Paul Chow, a former member of the Seychellois parliament, boasted recently to a visiting journalist. “We are at about 11,000. We are catching up.”
The United States has in the past, of course, invaded islands with less “just cause” than the tax-evasion enablers in the Seychelles are now providing. But the United States wouldn’t have to invade anybody to end the tax evading ways of America’s rich. A serious squeeze on their financial industry enablers — a series of sophisticated, high-profile sting operations, for starters — would do.
That squeeze ought to go hand-in-glove with financial wealth reporting reforms that could set the stage for a still bolder step, a global tax on excessive wealth.
“With the right policies,” as Gabriel Zucman puts it, “this trend in rising wealth concentration could end pretty soon, sooner than we believe.”
 By Sam Pizzigati
By Sam Pizzigati
http://inequality.org/wealth-wealthiest-hiding/

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Parti Lepep Sponsor Accused Of Land Grabbing



Aviation Support underway in Seychelles

Seychelles Economy In Free Fall!


Seychelles Water Clean: Yes or No PL!

Access to safe drinking water is undoubtedly the most essential requirement for every traveller. But knowing where it is safe to drink the water can be confusing, with conflicting information available.
A new infographic using research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies which countries have safe water for visitors - and which do not.
It is important to note that not all the countries indicated as 'unsafe' here have water that is necessarily unclean or polluted. 

Rather, it can be harmful to those who have not built up a tolerance to it as locals have, so visitors (particularly those with sensitive systems) should be cautious. 
The CDC reports that no countries on the continents of Africa and South America contain water suitable for drinking, and a handful in Asia: Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei, Israel and South Korea. 
Illnesses that can be transmitted through water include cholera, hepatitis A, typhoid and travellers' diarrhoea.
The infographic, compiled by NeoMam Studios, also includes advice on how to prevent illness by being aware of the water with which you brush your teeth and shower.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2787962/infographic-reveals-countries-world-safe-drinking-water.html

Monday, 13 October 2014

Seychelles National Assembly Presents Budget?

Dubai: The draft UAE federal budget for the year 2015, which is a part of the Dh140 billion for 2014-2016 three-year budget announced last year, has placed maximum emphasis on social development, health and education.
“Health, education and social services sectors take priority in the federal budget expenditure for 2015,” His


Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai said.
The draft federal budget has a total allocation of Dh49.1 billion which is 6.3 per cent higher than Dh46.2 billion allocated in 2014 budget.
Social services projects have been allocated Dh24 billion from the budget, accounting for 49 per cent of the budget.
“Investing in UAE citizens and meeting their needs is the cornerstone of government policies, and is at the forefront of priorities of the National Agenda, which aims to achieve UAE Vision 2021,” Shaikh Mohammad said.
“As such, priority in the federal budget allocations for 2015 will be [given to] social services, education and health sector and improvement of government services. This is in line with the vision of [President His Highness] Shaikh Khalifa [Bin Zayed Al Nahyan] to provide security, prosperity and a good life for Emiratis.”
A total of Dh20 billion, representing 41 per cent of the budget, has been allocated for government. Infrastructure has an allocation of Dh1.8 billion (3.7 per cent), while Dh1.6 billion (3.2 per cent) has been allocated for financial assets, while Dh1 billion has been allocated for federal expenditures, accounting for 2.1 per cent of the budget.
Shaikh Mohammad said that the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan stress the need to harness and invest all available resources to ensure the happiness and welfare of the people in all fields, and moving forward to enhance the UAE’s reputation and status.
The allocations are also in line with projects and initiatives that have been approved as part of the federal government strategy for 2015.
An official from the Ministry of Finance lauded the budget approved by the UAE cabinet on Sunday. Younis Al Khouri, undersecretary in the ministry, said it supports the UAE vision 2021.
“It is a very good budget that took into account the welfare of people in all fields. All the sectors have been covered, including health care, education and social services. The directives of the UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan have been well incorporated in the budget.”
He added that the allocations are in line with projects and initiatives that have been approved as part of the federal government strategy 2015.
“The budget took into account various aspects like social and education sector, improvement of government services and infrastructure projects. [A] considerable amount of money was allocated to [the] Shaikh Zayed housing project. It is a balanced budget. This is part of a cycle that will end in 2016.”

http://gulfnews.com/business/economy/uae-budget-prioritises-social-development-health-and-education-1.1397671?utm_content=1.1397671&utm_medium=RSS&utm_source=Feeds&utm_campaign=UAE_budget_prioritises_social_development%2C_health_and_education&localLinksEnabled=false&utm_term=Business_RSS_feed

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A Killer Hangover!

SEYCHELLES ACQUIRES TRUE SPIRIT AUTHENTICATOR

VICTORIA – In efforts aimed to fight trade of counterfeit alcohol, the SEYCHELLES Ministry of Finance has purchased TWO machines to test the authenticity of drinks entering the country.
State radio, SBC News says the move comes after complaints against counterfeit alcoholic products being sold in INDIAN Ocean island country.

It says authentic alcohol is made with ethanol, whereas counterfeit alcohol contains ethanol substitutes that can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, drowsiness, and dizziness; kidney and liver problems; as well as many others.
The Customs Division and the SEYCHELLES Bureau of Standards will be responsible for the TWO true spirits authenticator.


 http://www.sabaorg.com/seychelles-acquires-true-spirit-authenticator/

Sunday, 5 October 2014

China Military Build Up Is Real!


The first flight test of an upgraded mobile intercontinental ballistic missile in the lead-up to National Day aimed to show the world that China was reinforcing its nuclear deterrent, military experts said yesterday.
The People's Liberation Army launched a Dongfeng-31B on September 25 from the Wuzhai Missile and Space Test Centre - also known as the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre - in Shanxi province, according to US-based online newspaper The Washington Free Beacon.
The DF-31B is an upgraded version of the DF-31A and the launch was at least the second time the PLA's Second Artillery Corps had tested a DF-31 missile in the past three months. In late July, the PLA conducted a flight test of a DF-31A in what was the fourth known flight test of that missile in two years.
The DF-31 system has an estimated range of nearly 10,000 kilometres - enough to deliver a nuclear warhead to the capitals of Europe or the west coast of the United States. The mobile missiles are designed specifically for travel over rugged terrain and in difficult road conditions.
Xu Guangyu , a Beijing-based retired PLA major general, said the test had a strategic aim.
"Beijing just wants to increase China's military might and its nuclear strategic threat. It's not really targeting the US or other countries," Xu said.
"China needs to conduct intensive weapon tests and military drills because the [US-led build-up] now in the Asia-Pacific area is not good for Beijing."
Earlier state media reports said Beijing would roll out the Dongfeng-41, a system designed to have a range of 12,000km, allowing it to hit anywhere in the US.
Xu said the US' "pivot to Asia" and its plan to send 60 per cent of its military force to the region by 2020 had put pressure on Beijing to step up missile development. "It's normal for China to develop other, more advanced missiles given that a weapon cycle is between five and seven years, and the DF-31A was delivered to the PLA in 2006," he said.
Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong said it was hard to tell the difference between the DF-31A and DF-31B, but the upgraded version might have better performance.
"The DF-31A was designed to carry three warheads. I think the new DF-31B is possibly a multi-warhead version with higher accuracy," Wong said.
In January, PLA Daily posted 17 photos of a live drill of the DF-31A on its website, the first public glimpse of the advanced weapon.
The PLA also tested a hypersonic vehicle, the Wu-14, on August 7 in Shanxi. The launch failed despite a successful first test in January.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1609120/china-puts-show-force-df-31b-mobile-icbm-missile-test

Saturday, 4 October 2014

No Taste for Vanilla: Union Home Ministry Junks Island Tourism Dreams

Published: 04th October 2014 05:59 AM
Last Updated: 04th October 2014 05:59 AM 

NEW DELHI: In one of the first standoffs between the ministries in the Narendra Modi Government, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has shot down the Ministry of Tourism’s (MoT) proposal to include Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Vanilla Islands organisation in order to jointly promote tourism in the Indian Ocean destinations.
The concept of Vanilla Islands was founded in 2010 to bring all the tourism assets of the Indian Ocean together. Joining the Vanilla Island groups would have meant that Andamans would be jointly promoted along with other Indian Ocean destinations, including Seychelles, Maldives and Mauritius.

The Vanilla ball was set rolling when Seychelles Tourism Minister Alain St. Ange visited India in July. MoT warmed up to the idea and a proposal was sent to the MHA for approval.
But the Rajnath Singh-led MHA shot down the proposal, mooted by Minister of State for Tourism Shripad Yesso Naik, citing the strategic importance of the Andamans which could be affected if the Island is opened up for more tourism opportunities. “Andamans is a very sensitive  region both strategically and environmentally. Opening it up further for tourism purposes does not augur well either to Andamans or to the country as a whole,’’ said a government source aware of the development. India is quite concerned about the increasing Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean region. China is the biggest player in the region and the ocean is an important aspect in China’s foreign policy as it links the country to African, Middle Eastern and European trade routes.  To counter the Chinese presence, the Indian government feels that Andamans is the best bet as this group of islands which span 450 nautical miles sit strategically at the entrance of the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Andamans’ strategic position will help India monitor Chinese maritime activity in the Indian Ocean.
No wonder, India feels that bolstering the Andamans’ defence infrastructure, which would help combat Chinese aggression, is more important than opening it up for tourism. According to the official, the Modi Government is looking at the strategic location of the Andamans in the Indian Ocean with all seriousness. “The government has taken note of the fact that people from abroad have managed to secure fake identities to infiltrate into Andaman & Nicobar Islands,’’ he said. The official added that Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijju had visited the Island recently to discuss the issue of illegal migration to this island with strategic importance. “At a time when the government is trying to put everything into order in the islands, there is no case of opening up,’’ said the official.
On the current status of the proposal, Vanilla Islands CEO Pascal Viroleau told The Sunday Standard that the organisation is still waiting for the official application from the Indian government. “We are waiting for the official applying of these islands,” he said replying to a mail.
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is also learnt to have expressed its reservation to the MoT proposal citing the possibility of a threat to the already endangered primitive tribal groups including the Jarawa tribes whose total number is already below 50.
“Insensitive tourism will mean death knell to the primitive tribe,’’ said a tribal ministry official, recalling the instance of a Jarawa woman being made to dance naked in return for food by tourists. But naturally, MoT is upset. It feels that it would certainly have strengthened all Indian Ocean destinations, including the Andamans, as Vanilla Islands promote inter-island packages to help increase visitors to member-destinations.
http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/No-Taste-for-Vanilla-Union-Home-Ministry-Junks-Island-Tourism-Dreams/2014/10/04/article2461052.ece

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Seychelles economic growth weakens

This is according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who led a staff mission to the island for its first review under the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement.
Seychelles’ tuna and tourism revenues remained weak after reporting exceptional results in 2013 while  domestic demand and imports has grown strongly following a 13 per cent boost in earnings an a 16 per cent growth in credit to the private sector.
“The combination of weak export earnings and rising imports has led to pressure on the balance of payments,” said Marshall Mills, mission chief at the IMF.“The authorities have the tools and determination to manage these short-term pressures. Monetary and fiscal policies are being tightened, with lower reserve money targets and higher primary surplus targets than envisaged in the program.”
Overall, the IMF is confident that the Seychellois government is on track to meet its key objective of reducing public debt below 50 per cent of GDP by 2018. Also, inflation is projected to be at 2.3 per cent for this year.
 

“The Seychellois authorities continue to strengthen the fundamentals of the economy, as well as the conditions for its sustained growth. The authorities successfully met all their quantitative program targets for end-June. The sizeable fiscal primary surplus and increase in international reserves this year bolster the resilience of the economy, in line with the objectives of the IMF-supported program,” added Mills.
For 2015, the IMF expects economic growth to increase slightly to three per cent due to policy adjustments and a gradual recovery in tourism and tuna exports.
“Fiscal policy will remain on track to meet the debt reduction target, while monetary policy is expected to steer inflation back to low single digits by the end of 2015, despite pressures from depreciation. International reserves are expected to remain stable in 2015, with adequate import coverage, according to staff assessments,” he added.
The IMF noted that wage levels need to also stay compatible in order to preserve gains made in macroeconomic stability and to ensure international competitiveness.
“The authorities’ structural reform agenda continues to advance. The authorities are on track to implement all structural measures planned for the first review in a timely manner. Staff highlighted the risks that public enterprises can pose to the public finances and development of the private sector and stressed the importance of pursuing plans to strengthen their oversight and governance, while enlarging the private sector’s role in the economy.”

http://www.cnbcafrica.com/news/financial/2014/10/01/seychelles-imf/