Chad angry at World Bank over oil

December 31, 2005

Chad has reacted angrily to warnings from the World Bank, after its parliament voted to relax controls on the use of its oil revenues.

The government has accused the World Bank of acting like a coloniser.

The body lent Chad more than $39m (£23m) to build a pipeline with an estimated total cost of almost $4bn.

It was on condition that Chad’s churches, trade unions and non-governmental organisations monitored how oil revenues were spent.

This was meant to guaranteed that oil money was used to help reduce poverty in Chad but the new laws would give Chad more control over the money.

The bank has warned if Chad breaks its agreement, that is a breach of contract. Further funds will be halted, and repayment rates on the current loan increased.

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said the law was a deciding factor in the bank’s financial support for the massive pipeline project in 1999.

BBC NEWS | Business | Chad angry at World Bank over oil



Mortgage approvals up by 51%

December 31, 2005

Mortgage approvals for home purchases soared by 51 per cent on the year in November, according to data published this morning by the British Bankers’ Association, although at least one leading economics analyst said that this would not mean that house prices will start to increase rapidly in 2006.

 

What the BBA figures do show, though, is that the housing market is rebounding from a slowdown this year. “Activity is benefiting from August’s interest rate cut, increasing confidence in the housing market and still rising employment,” Howard Archer, chief economist at Global Insight, said. “This is likely to put a floor under house prices.”

Mortgage approvals up by 51% – Money – Times Online


60 a week die ‘home alone’

December 29, 2005

Around 60 people a week are dying alone without the support of friends and family, research has suggested.

Mr Burstow, a member of the Commons Health Committee, said: “These figures are a sobering reminder that thousands of older people across the country not only live, but also die alone, uncared for and often in poverty.

“Being cut off from friends, family and neighbours undermines all quality of life.

“It is an indictment of society that too many people are left to fade away, unable to make ends meet and lonely on the fringe of our communities.

“We all have a responsibility to look out and care for vulnerable neighbours, friends and relatives, not just at this time of year.”

channel4.com – News


British Gas warns of higher energy bills

December 29, 2005

The country’s biggest gas supplier on Thursday warned of higher energy bills as shivering consumers turned up their heating to stave off freezing weather.

British Gas said surging wholesale costs would force all the country’s suppliers to raise bills further in 2006 after double digit increases this year.

“With wholesale prices where they are, all suppliers are going to have to put prices up in 2006, and I think that is inevitable,” said British Gas managing director Mark Clare.

Latest Business News and Financial Information | Reuters.co.uk


Confidence near three-year low

December 29, 2005

Consumer confidence fell in December to its lowest level since the start of the Iraq war more than two years ago, a survey showed on Thursday.

Consultancy GfK NOP said its barometer of consumer sentiment fell to -9 in December after a reading of -8 in November. That was the lowest point since March 2003 and confounded analysts’ predictions of a rise to -6.

“At the headline level at least, this release does not paint a very bright picture of conditions in the consumer sector,” said George Johns, economist at Barclays Capital.

Latest Business News and Financial Information | Reuters.co.uk


Kennedy warns of rich-poor divide

December 29, 2005

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has warned of a “continuing widening of the gap between rich and poor”.

In his New Year message, he accused Labour of “tinkering” with policy and “giving way” to pressure to reintroduce selective secondary schools.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Kennedy warns of rich-poor divide



CBI ends maternity leave support

December 29, 2005

The CBI has withdrawn its support for the government’s plans to extend paid maternity leave from six months to nine, it has been revealed.

It has made the move since the chancellor withdrew plans to allow firms to pass the handling of maternity pay over to HM Revenue and Customs.

CBI boss Sir Digby Jones laid out the business group’s concerns in a letter to Trade Secretary Alan Johnson.

But the government said extending paid maternity leave could benefit firms.

BBC NEWS | Business | CBI ends maternity leave support