Two protests, one staged by medics demanding a promised wage increase and the other organised by opponents of a municipal reform, brought several thousand of people to Latvia’s parliament building on Thursday, local media reported.
After the government had failed to raise the medics’ salaries by 20 per cent as promised and only offered a 10 per cent pay increase.
The protest was joined by all kinds of medical employees from physicians, medical nurses and their assistants to residents and also medical students.
The medics stressed that they were fighting, not for their salaries, but for healthcare in Latvia as the outflow of underpaid medics from the country has caused severe staff shortages in many healthcare institutions nationwide.
According to the Latvian Medical Association, the medics’ rally outside the parliament building drew some 4,000 participants, including members of the public.
As the healthcare workers were holding their protest, opponents of the municipal reform, planned by the Regional Development Ministry, also arrived to stage their people’s rally against the much-criticised reform plan.
The protest against the municipal reform, organised by the opposition Greens and Farmers Union and the Latvian Association of Regions, blended with the medics’ rally but the events passed off peacefully under heavy police presence.
Responding to the medics’ protest, Parliament Speaker Inara Murniece and Health Minister, Ilze Vinkele offered apologies to the healthcare workers for the government’s inability to provide the required funding.
They blamed the previous government coalition for making reckless promises that could not be kept against the backdrop of weaker than expected economic growth. (Xinhua/NAN)
Edited by Halima Sheji/Abdulfatah Babatunde
China Focus: Braving challenges, CPC to lead China to new economic success
Official data shows activities in many Chinese industries, from auto manufacturing to e-commerce, are returning to pre-epidemic levels. Given the country’s solid pace of recovery, Fitch Ratings on Monday raised its 2020 GDP forecast for China to 1.2 percent from 0.7 percent.
The recovery is hard won, though. For months, the COVID-19 epidemic, coupled with lingering trade tensions and weak external demand, has been testing the economic governance capacity of the CPC, which led the country to transform from a vastly impoverished agricultural land into the world’s second-largest economy with better-off people.
Based on the valuable experience it has accumulated over the past decades, the CPC will steer the country toward a healthier and long-term growth through deepening reform and widening opening-up, analysts say.
QUALITY MATTERS MORE IN TOUGH DAYS
After four decades of breakneck expansion, the CPC has been pushing China’s economy to transition to high-quality development, putting emphasis on greener and more sustainable growth.
China lowered its economic growth targets over the past few years, and even set no target for this year, showing the country is relying less on using GDP to measure success.
“This marks a great shift in the leadership’s development philosophy, which will continue to have far-reaching impacts on economic and social life,” said Gao Peiyong, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
In a bid to push forward high-quality development, China has given less weight to traditional high-polluting and high energy-consuming industries even though they are vital sources of jobs and tax revenues.
Instead, the country has doubled down on support for new drivers of growth such as high-end equipment manufacturing, modern services and high-tech industries.
Even in the first quarter when the novel coronavirus epidemic pushed China’s economy into its first contraction in decades, the country still avoided launching a massive stimulus and maintained a tight grip over the property sector.
Further, rather than embarking on traditional infrastructure investment programs, China is seeking more targeted investments in “new infrastructure” such as 5G networks, big data centers and other projects that facilitate innovation and improve weak links in economic and social development.
“Expanding investment in new infrastructure is not a stopgap. It will not only boost consumption and benefit the people, but also facilitate structural adjustments and enhance the sustainability of growth,” said Liu Duo, head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.
REFORM KEY TO ECONOMIC SUCCESS
Chinese policymakers innovatively started the reform and opening-up policy in 1978 to eliminate the constraints of a planned economy, nurture private sectors and advance state-owned enterprise reforms step by step.
To unleash economic growth, the government has been pressing ahead with reforms to reduce corporate burdens, transform government functions and cut red tape.
A total of 2.36 trillion yuan (about 337 billion United States dollars) of taxes and fees were cut in 2019 for businesses, well above the original target of 2 trillion yuan, with manufacturing and micro and small businesses benefiting most.
In the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, the country has not slowed its pace of reforms toward expanding marketization.
In May, China issued a guideline to accelerate the improvement of its socialist market economy, pledging to improve the market, policies, the rule of law and the social environment for supporting the development of private businesses and foreign-invested enterprises.
Thanks to the deepening of reforms, the country’s entrepreneurial enthusiasm ran high and the market vitality stayed unabated despite downward pressures and trade tensions, with 20,000 new businesses being set up each day on average last year.
The process of reforms is far from complete. The advancing supply-side structural reform will inject new impetus to the economy, analysts say.
EMBRACING OUTSIDE WORLD
Along with the sustained efforts to invigorate the domestic economy via market reforms, the CPC has been consistent in pushing opening-up step by step.
“Unlike many Western countries, where policy initiatives are often overturned once an administration changes, China’s policies have always been consistent with effective implementation, providing stable expectations for firms,” said Zhao Lei, a professor with the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.
The CPC has been leading China’s opening-up through trial and error. Pilot reforms were carried out in free trade zones designed to test water for new modes of international cooperation. The number of sectors that are off-limits for foreign investors was gradually reduced over the years as the country further opened up.
In its latest efforts to open the economy, China unveiled a new negative list for foreign investment in late June, cutting the number of sectors that are off-limits for foreign investors to 33 from 40 in 2019.
At a time when protectionism and anti-globalization sentiments rise, the CPC’s opening-up push is facing unprecedented challenges.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has reiterated that it would continue to broaden market access and open up its service sector, vowing supportive measures to shore up foreign investment and trade.
“Many thought that China would hit the brake on promoting the Belt and Road Initiative amid the pandemic, but the country has been unwaveringly advancing it, as evidenced in the recent High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation,” Zhao said.
Under the CPC’s leadership, China is becoming ever more confident in the international market, shifting its role from merely a participant to an active builder of globalization by pushing for the establishment and development of multilateral institutions, he said.
Thousands of Lebanese protest against dire living conditions
Thousands of Lebanese took to the streets on Thursday night to protest against the hike in the price of United States dollar to the Lebanese pound and the deteriorating economic situation, the National News Agency reported.
Protesters cut roads in several areas in Beirut, Tyre, Sidon, Tripoli and other regions.
They attempted to cut the road near the Association of Banks in Lebanon which prompted the intervention of riot police and led to clashes with protesters.
Protesters also burned tires and waste containers placed on the sides of the streets in different areas of the country.
Lebanon has witnessed protests since Oct. 17 of last year due to the dire living conditions in the country.
The protests led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and appointment of Prime Minister Hassan Diab.
We’ll not condone any act of corruption in Kogi Primary Healthcare – Govt.
The Kogi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (KSPHCDA) has warned its officers against indulging in any acts of corruption that could jeopardise effective healthcare delivery at the grassroots in the state.
The agency’s Executive Director, Dr Abubakar Yakubu, gave the warning at a training programme organised for Heads of Departments, Account and Programme officers of the agency on Thursday in Lokoja.
Addressing the participants, Yakubu emphasised his commitment to zero tolerance to any act of corruption, misappropriation or mismanagement of funds in the agency.
”I will not condone any act of corruption and I will not spare anybody who will get himself or herself involved in such an act,”he said.
He said that the training was very important to the agency, noting that Account officers from the 21 local government areas of the state were trained on Wednesday.
”Today, we are training our own state account officers including the programme officers, who will handle funds.
”So, it is very important to come together to play all our cards and put them on the table so that everybody will see our policy direction.
”This is how we intend to achieve our objectives, and then we are not going accept any seemingly act of corruption.
”We are here to train ourselves so that nobody will be found wanting in his or her line of duty,” he said.
He also warned that he would not hesitate to handover any erring officer to the relevant security agencues for prosecution.
He stressed that the training would enhance the effective implementation and fund management of the state’s Primary Healthcare Under One Roof (PHCUOR).
The Resource Person, Mr Precious Ayobami, told the participants that there was the need to always retire any expended fund as quickly as possible without hesitation.
Ayobami called for an effective collaboration from the various departments in the agency to ensure proper accountability.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Peter Dada (NAN)
Healthcare Under: Kogi trains account officers on transparency, accountability
Kogi Government has organised a three-day training programme on transparency and accountability for account officers in the State’s Primary Healthcare Development Agency (KSPHCDA) .
The Executive Director of KSPHCDA, Dr Abubakar Yakubu, while declaring the event open on Wednesday in Lokoja, said participants were drawn fron the 21 local government areas of the State.
He said the training was for effective implementation and fund management of the state’s Primary Healthcare Under One Roof (PHCUOR).
He noted that the training was the first of its kind for Local Government Authority (LGHA) Account Officers of the KSPHCDA in the state since inception.
According to him, PHCUOR is a policy for the integration of all PHC services under one authority (the SPHCDA) to reduce fragmentation in PHC management and service delivery.
”No doubt, you may be familiar with some account procedures but you need to understand that some new procedures have been injected which must be followed and complied with.
”In other words, very poor handling of accounting records and retirement of funds will not be tolerated,” he said
He added that funds from the State and Development Partners for activities would be properly monitored for effective management
He explained that the SPHCDA had begun plans to build capacity for key players in the PHCUOR structure,.
According to him, the resource person is well equipped to deliver on the mandate of enriching their capabilities in handling and managing funds as it affects the LGHA accounts in the various local government areas.
He called for their commitment, efficiency and effectiveness in the management of resources to achieve the goals.
He noted that the NPHCDA had made remarkable progress in primary health care development in Nigeria, but that the system had remained weak due to multiple challenges in various aspects of the health system framework.
”Fragmentation in the Governance system has continued to undermine the delivery of primary health care in Nigeria.
”At the State level, the concurrent and overlapping responsibilities in administrative framework such as SMOH, MLG & CA, SMoWA, LGSC has constituted significant challenges to the delivery of quality and efficient health services.
”It is in response to the foregoing that the NPHCDA in collaboration with key stakeholders on PHCUOR initiative to improve PHC implementation at the State and LG levels,” he said.
He, therefore, urged the participants to put in their best for the Agency’s achievements.
One of the Resource Persons, Mr Olajide Samuel, an Associate Accountant, said the essence of the training was for the participants to know the new trend in accounting profession and to be able to apply it to their job.
Samuel added that at the end of the training the participants should be able to have a better knowledge about Public Fund Management and Retirement, Accounting Information System, Functions of Account Department, Bank Reconciliation, among others.
Edited By: Angela Okisor and Abdullahi Yusuf (NAN)