By Ahmed Hagagy
KUWAIT (Reuters) – Kuwaitis voted in legislative polls on Saturday with the Gulf state mired in its worst economic crisis in decades, which poses a challenge for the government’s often stormy relationship with a parliament blamed for blocking reforms.
More than 300 candidates, including 29 women, are vying for 50 seats in the Gulf’s oldest and most outspoken assembly with legislative powers. Critics say it has stalled investment and economic and fiscal reform in the cradle-to-grave welfare state.
Campaigning, which took place mostly on social media and local TV channels due to COVID-19 restrictions, has focused on the economy, corruption and demographics in a country where foreigners make up the bulk of the workforce.
“Kuwait needs development. The streets are broken and there is no development and no economy … and coronavirus has affected everything in every way,” said Ibrahim, a government employee, after voting in Kuwait city.
Turnout is expected to be lower than in past elections due to concerns about COVID-19 which, along with low crude prices, has battered state finances in the wealthy oil-producing nation.
A low turnout could strengthen the hand of tribal, Islamist and other candidates who can rally supporters to head to polling centres, analysts said.
“Kuwaiti opposition who boycotted (previous) polls are moving to run and vote, and this could strengthen their presence,” said Kuwaiti political analyst Mohamad al-Dosayri.
Frequent clashes between the cabinet and the assembly have led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament. Kuwait’s emir, who has the final say, picks a prime minister who selects a cabinet.
The current government is due to resign after the elections.
Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah took the reins as emir in September following the death of his brother.
FACE MASKS AND SANITIZER
Kuwait’s economy, which is worth nearly $140 billion, is facing a deficit of $46 billion this year. A government priority is to overcome legislative gridlock on a bill that would allow Kuwait to tap international debt markets.
Sheikh Nawaf has called for unity to face challenges at home and in a region experiencing heightened tension between Kuwait’s larger neighbours Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Late ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad broke the hold of opposition groups on parliament in 2012 by using executive powers to amend the voting system, sparking large protests.
Under the old electoral system, voters were allowed to cast ballots for up to four candidates, which the opposition says allowed alliances that partly made up for the absence of political parties, which are officially barred.
The system introduced in 2012 allows votes for only a single candidate, which the opposition says makes alliances difficult.
At al-Waha School in Jahra City, a polling station for men, voters in Arab robes protected themselves with face masks and hand sanitizers before putting their votes into the ballot box.
About 20 female observers watched a male judge checking the identity of women voters at the Bahsira school for girls before they cast their ballots.
Kuwaiti opposition figures have proposed electoral reforms and a pardon for dissidents, many in self-exile.
“There have been some reforms in the judiciary and the Emiri Diwan,” or court, said a Kuwaiti politician who asked not to be named. “We heard echoes of more reforms after elections.”
(Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy in Kuwait; Additional reporting by Stephanie McGehee; Writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by William Mallard and David Clarke)
Janet Yellen says US must 'act big' to revive flagging economy – The Guardian
Economic Policy Advisor Provides Analysis of the United States Economy During 2000-2016 and Solutions for Improving Growth in Comprehensive Treatise – GlobeNewswire
ZOETERMEER, Netherlands, Jan. 19, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Dutch economic policy advisor and international independent consultant Marc Stoffers has long been intrigued by the United States’ economic development. Despite the tools and resources at its disposal, the U.S. continues to suffer losses to market share both domestically and globally and has seen a decline in its overall economic growth. In his new book, “Problems and Possibilities of the US Economy,” Stoffers lays bare the ramifications of this downturn and, employing the Global Innovation Index (GII), identifies areas of opportunity for the U.S. to excel.
Using the GII, Stoffers investigates how the U.S. meets the pillars for Innovation Input and Innovation Output compared to other countries. He finds that the U.S.is a global leader in market sophistication and a top 10 country in knowledge and technology output as well as business sophistication. However, there are other areas where the U.S. is less successful such as institutions and creative output. To make matters worse, the U.S. lags firmly behind in relation to infrastructure and human capital and research.
As Stoffers explains in the text, the U.S.’s struggle to maintain a fierce competitiveness across all pillars has led to decreased market share and resulted in deficits to the balance of payment and the federal budget, inequality within the labor force and wage stagnation and has had a negative impact on employment. Using the GII, Stoffers creates a regression between the scores of several other countries and their gross domestic product (GDP). He then calculates the growth that would result from the U.S. becoming a global leader in every pillar.
By suggesting measures such as advancing the quality of schools, incentivizing students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), increasing sustainable development and nurturing a favorable investment climate, Stoffers demonstrates that there is a clear pathway for the U.S. to regain stability and balance, and decrease inequality between groups in society. Ultimately, through “Problems and Possibilities of the US Economy,” he instills hope that the U.S. can reclaim its position as a top performer in the global economy.
“The U.S. economy can be made healthier by introducing an improvement of skills, a level playing field with foreign competitors and a more robust innovation system,” said Stoffers. “A stronger U.S. can emerge and lead the Western World easier and more efficiently than before.”
About the author
Marc Stoffers graduated from the University of Tillburg with a master’s degree in business econometrics. After completing his military service, he served as a policy advisor for the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (Centraal Planbureau). Since retiring, he has acted as an independent freelance consultant involved in model building and economic analysis for macroeconomic projects in various international countries. Stoffers currently resides in Zoetermeer, Netherlands.
Xlibris Publishing, an Author Solutions, LLC imprint, is a self-publishing services provider created in 1997 by authors, for authors. By focusing on the needs of creative writers and artists and adopting the latest print-on-demand publishing technology and strategies, we provide expert publishing services with direct and personal access to quality publication in hardcover, trade paperback, custom leather-bound and full-color formats. To date, Xlibris has helped to publish more than 60,000 titles. For more information, visit xlibris.com or call 1-888-795-4274 to receive a free publishing guide.
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Biden’s first 100 days: What to expect on Covid-19, the economy and immigration – FRANCE 24 English
Issued on: 19/01/2021 – 11:55
US President-elect Joe Biden is set to issue a flurry of executive orders following his inauguration at noon on Wednesday as well as legislation that will quickly begin working its way through Congress on pandemic relief, immigration and much more.
A top priority for the 46th US president will be securing congressional approval for his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan to revive the economy and administer 100 million vaccines by his 100th day in office.
Biden has promised on Day One to extend a pause on evictions and foreclosures, as well as federal student loan payments; move to have the US rejoin the World Health Organization and Paris climate accord; overturn a travel ban on those from several Muslim-majority countries; order agencies to begin reuniting families separated at the border; and mandate mask-wearing on federal property.
According to a memo released by incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, the new president will also take quick action on what the Biden administration sees as the four main challenges the United States is facing. “We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the Covid-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis,” Klain wrote.
“In his first ten days in office, President-elect Biden will take decisive action to address these four crises, prevent other urgent and irreversible harms, and restore America’s place in the world,” Klain added.
Here’s what to expect from his first 100 days at the White House.
Biden has described America’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout as “a dismal failure thus far” and vowed to “move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated”. He has set his administration a goal of 100 million shots by the end of his first 100 days as president.
Biden has pledged to have 100 vaccination centres supported by federal emergency management personnel up and running during his first month in the White House. He will also ask Americans to commit to 100 days of mask-wearing from his first day on the job.
The incoming president has said he will use the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine supplies and ensure the pandemic is under control for most public schools to reopen nationwide by his 100th day in office.
‘Our plan is as clear as it is bold: get more people vaccinated for free’
- Economic stimulus plan
The Democrat’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal involves providing $1,400 direct payments to Americans to prop up the virus-hammered economy. Touting his plan, Biden said “the return on these investment in jobs, racial equity will prevent long-term economic damage, and the benefits will far surpass the cost”.
‘We cannot afford inaction’ on economy: Biden unveils plan to support pandemic-hit economy
Biden has also pledged to wipe out corporate tax cuts where possible, while doubling the levies US firms pay on foreign profits. Another flagship policy includes hiking the hourly minimum wage to $15, double the current amount.
Biden announces national minimum wage hike
- WHO, Paris accord and Iran
Other Day One pledges include moving to rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord, which Trump withdrew from. Biden is also expected to begin the process of rejoining a landmark international agreement designed to curtail Iran’s nuclear programme.
US presidential transition: How will Biden change America’s foreign policy?
- Climate and the environment
Biden has announced executive action on his first day in office to formulate a plan to achieve 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050. He will also enact an executive order “to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030” in line with other “30% by 2030” pledges made by 50 countries at a One Planet Summit in Paris earlier this month.
Biden is also expected to reverse President Donald Trump’s rollback of some 100 public health and environmental rules that the Obama administration instituted.
Biden’s busy Day One schedule includes the creation of task forces on homelessness and reuniting immigrant parents with children separated at the US-Mexico border. The incoming president has pledged to provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants who came to the US illegally as children. He has also vowed to overturn the Trump administration’s travel ban on those from several majority-Muslim countries.
Dreamers: Hopes high that Biden administration will bring immigration reform
- Discrimination, gun control
Biden has vowed to repeal a transgender military ban enacted by his predecessor and restore Obama-era guidance for transgender students in schools, saying this will protect “students’ access to sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity”.
He has also pledged to create a police oversight commission to combat institutional racism by the end of his first 100 days.
The incoming administration also plans to send bills to Congress seeking to mandate stricter background checks for gun buyers and scrap liability protections for firearm manufacturers.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)
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