Finance – Siesta RV Park Mon, 03 May 2021 12:34:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Finance – Siesta RV Park 32 32 President Biden’s US Jobs Plan: A Bold Mandate for Infrastructure Investment | Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:14:12 +0000

[co-authors: Lauren Dailey and Christina Barone]

On March 31, 2021, President Joe Biden unveiled the US Jobs Plan (the “Plan”), an eight-year, $ 2 trillion investment to modernize and improve US infrastructure, generate jobs and growth economic and promoting the national security interests of the United States. The proposed framework is a key step towards President Biden’s goal of implementing his Build Back Better plan, including investments to modernize highways and railways, modernize ports, expand electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, modernize water and energy infrastructure and expand broadband access. Along with the U.S. Jobs Plan, President Biden also proposed the Made in America tax plan, including provisions to increase revenues to support the $ 2 trillion plan over the next 15 years. The plan is high level and did not include proposed legislation.

The American employment plan

Transport infrastructure and resilience

The plan calls on Congress to invest $ 621 billion in transportation infrastructure and resilience, including:

  • $ 115 billion to improve 20,000 miles of highways, roads and bridges.
  • $ 174 billion to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure and encourage purchases of electric vehicles, support the transition from diesel transit vehicles, and electrify the United States Postal Service (USPS) school bus fleets.
  • $ 85 billion to modernize and expand bus, rapid transit and train services to reduce congestion and improve equitable access.
  • $ 80 billion to close Amtrak’s repair backlog, modernize the busy northeast corridor, improve and expand existing corridors, and strengthen passenger and freight rail safety.
  • $ 25 billion to modernize airports, including funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) assets and a new terminal renovation support program.
  • $ 17 billion for inland waterways, coastal ports, land entry points and ferries.
  • $ 20 billion to increase road safety for all users, including a new “Safe Streets for All” program to fund national and local “vision zero” plans to reduce accidents and fatalities.
  • $ 20 billion to ensure new projects increase opportunity and access, advance racial equity, and improve environmental justice.
  • $ 50 billion to increase the resilience of infrastructure to extreme weather events, including through subsidies and tax incentives.

Clean drinking water

The plan provides $ 111 billion to update and improve water infrastructure, including $ 45 billion to replace lead pipes and service lines, $ 56 billion in drinking water subsidies and low-cost loans. cost to disadvantaged states, tribes, territories and communities, and $ 10 billion to monitor and remediate PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water.

Digital infrastructure

The plan recommends $ 100 billion to achieve affordable, high-speed universal broadband coverage, with a priority for public broadband networks, and ensures that funds are earmarked for broadband infrastructure on land. tribal. In addition, the plan calls for increased transparency and competition by requiring clear information on prices and removing barriers that favor private providers.

Electrical infrastructure

The plan supports a $ 100 billion investment to improve the electric transmission system with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality in the power generation sector by 2035. The plan proposes that Congress develop a new authority Network deployment at the Department of Energy to leverage existing -way rights along roads and railways and support creative finance tools to boost high-priority high-voltage transmission lines. The plan also supports an Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES) to promote more efficient use of existing infrastructure and leverage carbon-free energy, such as nuclear and hydropower. The plan also calls for:

  • $ 5 billion for the remediation and redevelopment of the Brownfield and Superfund sites.
  • An expansion of the Economic Development Authority’s public works program, including the lifting of the $ 3 million cap on projects.

Health care infrastructure

The plan urges Congress to expand access to home and community-based services (HCBS) and expand the Money Follows the Person program that supports innovations in long-term care delivery under Medicaid. Specifically, it calls on Congress to allocate $ 400 billion to expand access to HCBS for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Manufacturing sector

The plan includes $ 300 billion to support manufacturing in the United States, strengthen supply chains and increase access to capital for domestic manufacturers, including:

  • $ 50 billion to create a new office at the Department of Commerce dedicated to monitoring national industrial capacity and financing investments to support the production of essential goods.
  • $ 46 billion in federal purchases to promote the manufacture of electric vehicles, electric charging ports and heat pumps for residential heating and commercial buildings, and to develop advanced nuclear reactors and fuel.
  • $ 52 billion in access to capital for domestic manufacturers, including an extension of the 48C tax credit program and the creation of a new financing program to support debt and equity investments in the manufacturing sector.
  • $ 50 billion for semiconductor manufacturing and research, as called for in the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act (HR7178 and S.3933).
  • $ 30 billion over four years for major new investments in medical countermeasures manufacturing, research and development (R&D) and related bio-preparation and biosafety, including investments to consolidate the strategic national stockpile.
  • $ 14 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to combine industry, academia and government to advance technologies essential to future competitiveness.
  • $ 31 billion to create a national network of small business incubators and innovation hubs, which provide small businesses in underserved communities with access to credit, venture capital and R&D funding.
  • $ 5 billion for a new rural partnership program to support the economic development of tribal nations and rural areas.

Research and development

The Plan urges Congress to increase its investment in research and development to lay the groundwork for future breakthroughs that create new businesses and jobs and increase exports, including:

  • $ 50 billion for the National Science Foundation to create a technology directorate to expand existing programs and focus on areas such as semiconductors, biotechnology, and advanced computer, communications technology and in energy.
  • $ 40 billion to modernize research infrastructure in laboratories and institutions and universities serving minorities.
  • $ 35 billion for research aimed at addressing the climate crisis, including new methods of reducing emissions, building climate resilience and climate science in general.
  • $ 15 billion to support demonstration projects for climate R&D priorities such as carbon capture and storage, offshore wind turbines, biofuels, bioproducts, quantum computing and electric vehicles, among others.

Workforce Development

The U.S. Jobs Plan aims to increase workforce development programs and improve racial and gender equity through an investment of $ 100 billion in various programs. In addition, the plan calls for the adoption of the Law on the Protection of the Right to Organize (PRO) (HR842) to strengthen and protect the right of workers to join a trade union. In addition, the plan stresses the need to strengthen enforcement mechanisms to ensure the rules of safety, health and non-discrimination at work.

Houses, schools and commercial buildings

The plan recommends an investment of $ 213 billion to produce, preserve and renovate affordable housing through tax credits, a funding formula, grants and project-based rent assistance. President Biden is advocating for $ 27 billion to support a new clean energy and sustainability accelerator to mobilize private investment in commercial and municipal buildings and clean transportation. In addition, the plan recommends $ 18 billion for the modernization of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics and $ 10 billion for the modernization and resilience of federal buildings, including through a revolving fund. for federal capital assets to support investments in the purchase, construction or renovation of federal buildings. facilities.

In addition, President Biden urges Congress to modernize K-12 and community college facilities, prioritizing safety, equity and energy efficiency.

The Made in America tax plan

To help support the U.S. Jobs Plan, President Biden has proposed corporate tax changes, including:

  • Increase the top federal corporate income tax rate to 28%, from the 21% currently provided for in the Jobs and Tax Cuts Act. The rate before the 2017 change was 35%.
  • Double the low-tax global intangible income (GILTI) rate from 10.5% to 21% and move on to calculating tax country by country.
  • Eliminate the exemption for investments in qualifying business assets (QBAI).
  • End the deduction for foreign intangible income (IEDI).
  • Tighten anti-inversion rules and limit deductions for relocations.
  • Apply a minimum tax rate of 15% on income reported in financial statements for corporations with net income of $ 100 million or more and that pay little or no federal income tax.
  • Limit preferences for fossil fuels and restore taxes dedicated to the petroleum and chemical industries to finance the Superfund Trust Fund.
  • Provide resources to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to better enforce tax laws and perform more effective audits on large businesses.

Congress must ultimately introduce legislation to achieve President Biden’s goals. The scope of such legislation is unclear, although Democratic leaders have united to push forward an infrastructure bill. It is also unclear whether there will be a separate transport bill and whether it will be transferred before or after a larger infrastructure bill.

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Australia unveils $ 928 million COVID-19 stimulus package for tourism industry Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:14:11 +0000

CANBERRA (Reuters) – The Australian government on Thursday unveiled an A $ 1.2 billion ($ 928 million) tourism support package, aimed at boosting local travel while international routes remain closed due to the pandemic coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: A near empty domestic terminal at Sydney Airport is seen after neighboring states closed their borders to New South Wales in response to an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney, Australia, December 21, 2020. REUTERS / Loren Elliott

The basket of airline ticket subsidies for travelers, cheap loans to small tour operators and financial assistance to the country’s two largest airlines is designed to keep the critical sector running until foreign tourists return. .

“This package will take more tourists to our hotels and cafes, taking tours and exploring our backyard,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

“This means more jobs and investment for the tourism and aviation sectors as Australia prepares to win its fight against COVID-19 and the restrictions that have hurt so many businesses. “

Tourism is a major growth engine for the Australian economy, generating A $ 60.8 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018/19 and employing around 5% of the country’s workforce.

The sector was hit hard when Australia closed its international borders – with a few exceptions for returning nationals and a few others – a year ago to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A series of internal state and territory border closures triggered by COVID-19 outbreaks have exacerbated the slowdown.

The country’s two major airlines, Qantas Airways Ltd and Virgin Australia, have cut flights and put planes into hibernation while thousands of people in the industry depended on a federal government wage subsidy program, which expires this this month.

The support package includes A $ 200 million for Qantas Airways Ltd and Virgin Australia from April to October to help keep planes on hold, get planes out of storage and salaries for international flight personnel.

“This program allows these people to stay in touch with Qantas so that they don’t get lost … because when the borders open up, we need the ability to start as many flights as possible,” Joyce said. , Managing Director of Qantas.

Qantas hopes to resume some international flights by the end of October, when Australia plans to complete its national COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Morrison said it was “too early” to confirm the scheduled date for the international border to reopen.

The 50% subsidy on some 800,000 plane tickets will be focused on destinations that generally rely heavily on foreign tourists, including Alice Springs and Kangaroo Island, and will be available from April 1 to the end of July.

Shares in travel-related stocks led to gains in the Australian market, with travel agents Flight Center Ltd up more than 10% and Webjet Ltd up more than 3% to trade near intraday highs of ‘a year. Qantas was up 2% by early afternoon.

However, not all industry groups were happy with the support package, which also includes cheap 10-year loans for small tourism businesses, many of which are struggling with growing debt.

“This narrowly targeted package is robbing many hard-working operators of the tourism industry whose fates are being ignored,” said John Hart, executive chairman of the tourism division of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The package also fails to recognize that until the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry was poised to experience tremendous growth.”

(1 USD = 1.2933 Australian dollar)

Reporting by Colin Packham in Canberra and Jamie Freed and Renju Jose in Sydney; edited by Jane Wardell

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Why did the 3 major US airlines get funding through their frequent flyer programs? Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:14:11 +0000

Everyone knows that airlines around the world, including the United States, faced a significant revenue shortfall in 2020. For any airline, money from the sale of airline tickets is essential. . In 2020, most people stopped flying, and cash from airline ticket sales dried up. But the airlines continued to spend money. With the income from ticket sales disappearing, airlines had to seek other sources of cash.

The Big Three US airlines borrowed about $ 25 billion last year against their frequent flyer programs. Photo: Don Wilson Airport / Sea-Tac

Loyalty programs resist travel slowdown

In the United States, funding through the CARES Act has helped keep airline workers employed. Airlines have also obtained liquidity by borrowing on assets such as unencumbered aircraft and airport slots. But airlines have also ventured into new financial territory – raising funds against their frequent flyer programs.

It was not a symbolic sum either. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines raised around US $ 25 billion against their frequent flyer programs in 2020.

Together, these three programs have approximately 290 million members. While not all members are active, a good number are. These active members earn points in the air and on the ground. Airlines sell these points to partner companies (the best known examples are credit cards). Frequent Flyer members accumulate their points and spend them on free flights and cabin upgrades.

The model works because the revenue generated from selling points to credit card companies, etc., exceeds the cost of redemptions and flight upgrades.

And most loyalty programs have proven to be relatively resilient to the travel slowdown. Last year, although most Frequent Flyer Members didn’t fly a lot (and therefore spend no points), many were still earning points in the field. This makes loyalty programs an attractive asset. But until last year, they had not been used to secure large-scale financing.

Loyalty programs have proven resilient to the travel slowdown. Photo: Don Wilson Airport / Sea-Tac

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Why have US airlines borrowed against their frequent flyer programs?

United Airlines was one of the first airlines to borrow as part of its frequent flyer program. In June, United raised US $ 5 billion guaranteed through its MileagePlus loyalty program. The airline wanted to consolidate its cash flow as it lowered itself to weather the travel slowdown. At the time, a statement issued by United Airlines mentionned;

“The extra liquidity will provide even more flexibility as the airline goes through the most disruptive financial crisis in aviation history.”

In September, Delta Air Lines raised US $ 9 billion against its SkyMiles Loyalty Program. Delta said it is also raising funds to boost its liquidity levels. Last fall, the airline was burning cash at the rate of US $ 27 million per day.

United Airlines has raised US $ 5 billion against its MileagePlus program. Photo: Vincenzo Pace / Simple Theft

Just a few weeks ago, American Airlines decided to raise several billion dollars by borrowing against its frequent flyer program AAdvantage. Among other uses, American Airlines plans to deploy the money to repay government loans. Americans’ debt levels rose 23% last year to reach US $ 41 billion by the end of 2020.

Contemporary loyalty programs started in the early 1980s. Basically, they are a marketing tool to link passengers to a particular airline. Along the way, they have become popular income generating assets for airlines that ultimately are downturn proof. This makes them very valuable assets. As one financial commentator said The Financial Times;

“These frequent flyer programs are truly the airline’s golden goose.”

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Rocket Mortgage Goes Green With Powerful New Partnership With Bryson DeChambeau Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:14:11 +0000

STRAIT, April 5, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Rocket Mortgage, the Nation’s Largest Mortgage Lender, Today Announced a New Partnership with the 2020 US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau, the current FedEx Cup leader on the PGA Tour and number 5 in the world. Known for his crushing workouts and fastest swing records, his pilot will now don a new custom Rocket Mortgage branded headgear and the company logo will appear to the left of the star golfer. handle.

DeChambeau is no stranger to Rocket Mortgage as he is the reigning champion of the Detroit-based Classic Rocket Mortgage.

“Golf fans are glued to their screens every time Bryson takes the tee. He’s an innovator, changing the way people think about the great game of golf, just as we’ve changed our perceptions about how easy it is to get a mortgage through our digital solutions. “Said Rocket Mortgage Marketing Director Casey Hurbis. “At Rocket Mortgage, whether it’s hosting the very first basketball game on a live aircraft carrier or creating the biggest Super Bowl Squares game in history, we love to be on a big stage and find opportunities and partners to establish truly epic activations that demonstrate how Rocket companies and athletes impact the bottom line. “

DeChambeau enjoyed immense success during his early years on the PGA TOUR. In addition to winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic, he has seven more victories, including his first major victory at the 2020 US Open, in his five years of professional golf.

“I look forward to working with and learning from Rocket Mortgage and Rocket companies as one of my goals is to expand my impact on communities by creating lasting and positive change among the younger generation. ”Said DeChambeau. “As the champion of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, I had the chance to deepen and discover who they are as a company and what they stood for. I realized that there was a lot of alignment between my work to help children achieve their educational goals and what they stood for. what they do to educate Detroit owners. ”

Rocket Mortgage is the presenting sponsor of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which will be played for the third consecutive year at the historic Detroit Golf Club on Independence Day weekend. The company is also the official mortgage provider for the PGA TOUR.

About Quicken / Rocket Mortgage

DetroitQuicken Loans, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, is making America’s dream of homeownership and financial freedom come true through its obsession with a cutting-edge digital customer experience. The company has closed 320 billion dollars mortgage volume in all 50 states in 2020. In late 2015, Quicken Loans launched Rocket Mortgage, the first fully digital mortgage experience. Currently, 98% of all home loans issued by Quicken Loans use Rocket Mortgage technology.

Quicken Loans moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit in 2010. Today, Quicken Loans and Rocket Companies employ 24,000 full-time team members across the country. The company generates loans from web centers located in Detroit, Cleveland and Phoenix and operates a centralized loan processing facility in Detroit. Quicken Loans has been ranked # 1 in the country for customer satisfaction for primary mortgage origination by JD Power for the past 10 consecutive years, 2010-2019, and also # 1 in the country for customer satisfaction. customer base among all mortgage loan managers for the past seven consecutive years, 2014 – 2020.

Quicken Loans was once again named to FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 2020 and has been included in the magazine’s 1/3 Best Companies for the past 18 consecutive years. Additionally, Essence Magazine named Quicken Loans “the # 1 workplace in the country for African Americans.”

For more information and company news, visit

SOURCE Rocket Mortgage

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Global Jet Capital completes securitization and raises $ 663 million Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:14:11 +0000

Global Jet Capital, a global leader in financial solutions for business aircraft, announced the closing of its BJETS 2021-1 securitization, raising approximately $ 663 million. BJETS 2021-1 is Global Jet Capital’s fifth ABS offering, bringing total securitized assets to over $ 3.6 billion and bonds issued to over $ 2.9 billion.

The BJETS 2021-1 offering consisted of three tranches of Notes: a $ 538.3 million Class A tranche, a $ 78.0 million Class B tranche and a 46.8 million Class C tranche. dollars. Each tranche was oversubscribed and attracted orders from over 40 investors.

Global Jet Capital’s latest offering, BJETS 2021-1, builds on the strong performance of the company’s previous ABS deals, which have demonstrated remarkable resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – in stark contrast to a large variety of other ABS asset classes, including commercial aviation. This resilience is attributable to the strong performance of Global Jet Capital’s highly diversified portfolio and the relative strength of the business aviation sector despite the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

As with previous BJETS transactions, this transaction consists of a pool of business aircraft loans and leases representing a diverse group of debtors and assets. BJETS 2021-1 includes more than 45 global companies and business leaders representing more than 10 different industry segments, from pharmaceuticals to consumer durables. More than 20 different aircraft models – mostly mid to large cabin business jets – are represented in the deal.

Morgan Stanley was the principal structuring agent and lead bookrunner and Citigroup, Deutsche Bank Securities, BofA Securities, The Carlyle Group and KKR Capital Markets were co-structuring agents and associate bookrunners for the BJETS 2020-1 transaction. In addition, Citizens Capital Markets was a co-manager. Global Jet Capital, Inc. will continue to service the securitized assets.

Shawn Vick, CEO of Global Jet Capital, said: “We are very happy with the outcome related to BJETS 2021-1, which comes after the success we have had with BJETS 2020-1. With each new issue, we attract new investors to the platform, in this case 15 new accounts. The transaction was underwritten seven times, and our coupon rates improved again as the ABS market continues to show growing understanding and confidence in the business aviation industry and Global Jet Capital.

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CareCredit Joins Epic App Orchard to Offer Patient Financing Solution | New Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:14:10 +0000

COSTA MESA, California, March 30, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Care Credit, a Synchrony solution (NYSE: SYF) and a leading provider of promotional financing for healthcare consumers, today announced that the Patient Financing app from CareCredit is now available in the Epic app orchard. The CareCredit Patient Financing app enables healthcare systems and providers to use Epic’s MyChart to provide flexible, convenient and easy payment options for patients. Over 12 million CareCredit cardholders already appreciate flexible healthcare financing.

The CareCredit Patient Financing app enables healthcare systems using Epic’s MyChart to provide patients with easy payment options.

“The CareCredit Patient Financing app makes CareCredit more than three decades of innovation, medical financing and thoughtful customer service available to hundreds of healthcare organizations using Epic,” said Shannon burke, Managing Director, Health Systems, CareCredit. “This technology integration is designed as more than a responsible lending tool – it can help vendors improve revenue cycle management and reduce debt risk without additional effort on the part of staff after the initial onboarding. . “

When a healthcare system implements App Orchard’s CareCredit Patient Financing app, CareCredit cardholders can pay co-payments, deductibles, and medical expenses not covered by insurance. The patient simply enters their payment information and selects a financing option with convenient monthly payments based on their budget.

“As consumers take more financial responsibility for their health care, CareCredit has evolved beyond elective care and now supports patients by allowing them to pay non-elective medical bills and routine medical care. The CareCredit patient finance app offers patients a convenient way to pay for their care while helping healthcare departments and hospital providers run efficient and financially healthy organizations, ”said Erin Gadhavi, senior vice president, strategy and initiatives, CareCredit.

CareCredit’s patient financing application complies with HIPAA and PCI standards, as well as OAuth 2.0 authentication protocols. The platform is accessible through desktop and mobile devices. The CareCredit Patient Financing app is now available to all Epic users in the Orchard App. For more information or to access the CareCredit Patient Financing app, please visit

About CareCredit

For more than 30 years, CareCredit, a leading provider of special health care funding, has helped people get the care they need and need. From dentistry, veterinary care and hearing aids to prescription glasses and cosmetic surgery, the CareCredit credit card is a way for people to pay for care not covered by insurance, including elective procedures, copay, deductibles and coinsurance, often with special funding. Today, CareCredit is accepted at over 250,000 health-focused vendors and outlets, and there are over 12 million CareCredit cardholders. CareCredit is a synchronization solution (NYSE: SYF).

About synchronization

Synchrony (NYSE: SYF) is a leading consumer financial services company. Synchrony offers a wide range of specialized financing programs, as well as innovative consumer banking products, in key industries such as digital, retail, home, automotive, travel, health and animals. of company. Synchronization allows partners to increase their sales and retain consumers. Synchrony is one of the largest private label credit card issuers in United States; Synchrony also offers co-branded products, installment loans, and consumer finance products for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as healthcare providers.

Synchronization is changing what is possible through our digital capabilities, deep industry expertise, actionable data, seamless customer experience, and personalized financing solutions.

For more information visit and Twitter: @Synchrony.

Epic, MyChart, and App Orchard are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Systems Corporation.

Media contact:

Lisa lanspery


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SOURCE synchronization

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Backing Serbian coal, China undermines pledge to fight climate change Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:14:09 +0000

A Serbian environmental NGO, the Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute (RERI), took legal action against the national electricity company EPS in January for exposing Serbs to toxic emissions from coal-fired power stations.

“Our thermal power stations are among the largest emitters of sulfur dioxide in Europe. In 2018 and 2019, ten of EPS’s thermal power plants respectively emitted six times more SO2 than the national limit, ”said Hristina Vojvodić, RERI lawyer.

In 2006, Serbia ratified the Treaty establishing the Energy Community, the mission of which is to extend the EU’s energy market to its southern and eastern neighbors. From 2018, the country was required to implement a National emissions reduction plan (NERP) to limit pollutants, mainly from coal-fired power plants. Energy community members should also work towards decarbonization, accelerating the transition to cleaner energy sources.

Instead, however, Serbia continued to build and plan new coal-fired power stations and expand a lignite mine. These are financed by state-to-Chinese state loans, built by Chinese companies, and have negative environmental impacts. By approving such loans, China is undermining its pledge to tackle climate change, and Serbia is further delaying its phase-out of coal.

Coal has ‘cult status’ in Serbia

Serbia has been a candidate for EU membership since 2012, although the road has since been bulge. Currently, it meets around 70% of its electricity needs with lignite. “In Serbia, coal has cult status,” said Mirko Popović, RERI program director. Serbian coal-fired power stations are old and polluting – some were built in the 50s and 60s – the construction of modern and less polluting factories is presented as a welcome improvement.

Construction of Kolubara B, a new factory near the capital Belgrade, is expected to start this year. The project was halted three decades ago in the midst of the break-up of Yugoslavia, and then again in 2014 when the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development abandoned it, when it had switched from coal. Then, in 2018, the Serbian Minister of Mines and Energy announced a technical study of the project had been completed. And last year, the government signed a preliminary agreement with PowerChina to install a 350 MW unit by the end of 2024. Kolubara B is expected to replace a plant of the same name built in 1979, as well as the Morava plant. , installed in 1969. These two should be decommissioned by 2024, in accordance with the requirements of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which was designed to ensure that large thermal power plants apply “best available techniques” and minimize pollution.

Construction of Block 3 of the Kostolac coal-fired power plant near Požarevac is underway, with the China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) in charge of the construction. China Exim Bank provided a loan of US $ 608 million for construction in 2014, as well as for the expansion of the Drmno open-pit lignite mine in the Kostolac basin, again with a subcontract for CMEC. The mine’s expansion, producing 9 to 12 million tonnes of coal per year, was completed in January 2020.

Milorad Grcic, managing director of the Serbian state-owned company EPS, during the opening of the Kostolac power station (Image: Alamy)

Then, in September 2020, a group of civil society organizations working in Southeastern Europe wrote to the EU saying that Chinese state-owned enterprises violated EU environmental laws in the region. They stressed that none of the operational Chinese projects in Serbia (such as the Smederevo steel plant, the Bor copper mine or the Zrenjanin tire plant) “complied with the latest pollution control standards of the EU ”. They also noted that “most had very weak EA studies and the Drmno mine expansion in Serbia had none at all”.

Even projects meant to improve environmental conditions in the country, such as the desulphurization system built to upgrade existing blocks 1 and 2 of the Kostolac power plant, “have apparently failed,” noted Pippa Gallop, a researcher from southeastern Kostolac. Europe with Bankwatch. .

Bankwatch, an NGO monitoring the activities of international financial institutions in Central and Eastern Europe, documented a number of irregularities. The construction of the system started in 2015, before the conclusion of its environmental impact study (EIA); the public consultation took place when the system was half-built; and the building permit was issued in record time after this consultation. According to Gallop: “In 2017, the Serbian government declared the opening of the desulphurization unit. There was the whole ceremony, and then… nothing happened. Three years later, the unit is still not functioning. “

Lucrative contracts

The Sino-Serbian strategic partnership began in August 2009 with a memorandum of understanding on infrastructure development between Presidents Boris Tadić and Hu Jintao. A second memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation was signed in May 2010, and the relationship was further strengthened in 2013 with a joint declaration signed by then-President Tomislav Nikolić and Xi Jinping..

The partnership resulted in numerous infrastructures and energy projects financed by state-to-state loans and built by Chinese state-owned enterprises. Between 2010 and 2019, Chinese direct investments in Serbia reached US $ 1.9 billion. “In recent years, Serbia has [presented] itself as one of the largest Chinese investment centers among the BIS countries, ”said Vuk Vuksanović, researcher at the Belgrade Center for Security Policy.

As Serbia welcomes more energy projects, will Chinese companies ignore or circumvent common European environmental standards on which Serbia has agreed? “China is providing a quick solution to some of the socio-economic plagues associated with degraded infrastructure. But the point is that China does not meet the same set of standards as the EU, ”said Vuk Vuksanović. He argued that the direct deals with China, without competitive bidding, benefited the Serbian elite. “It’s good for them to be the ones who facilitated these agreements and the arrival of Chinese capital in the country, to cut ribbons on construction sites.”

In 2017, the Serbian government declared the opening of the desulphurization unit. So… nothing happened. Three years later, the unit is still not functioning.

Pippa Gallop, Bankwatch researcher

These “tied loan” agreements, under which Chinese political banks provide financing on the condition that a contract is issued with a Chinese company, are not limited to Serbia. “Other countries also have export banks, but ‘traditional donors’ – Western countries – are generally against ‘tied aid’. These types of loans and contracts are particularly characteristic of the Belt and Road initiative, ”said Jonas Mardell, researcher at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin.

In the EU, large public projects must be the subject of an open tender, excluding a tied loan agreement. “It is not unusual for these deals to be made in secret, and it may be normal for Chinese companies to want to avoid tenders, but it really depends on what the host country is willing to do for the money. “Mardell said.

In Serbia, direct deals and limited public scrutiny of these projects are facilitated by a lack of opposition to the ruling Progressive Party (SNS), which obtained a majority of 62.6% in one parliamentary election in June 2020. Dissenting voices are also lacking in the media. The country ranks 93rd in the 2020 Global Press Freedom Index, and Reporters Without Borders Noted “The number of attacks on the media has risen sharply, while officials increasingly use inflammatory rhetoric against journalists.”


RERI’s Hristina Vojvodić says that in Serbia decision-making often takes place behind closed doors. “It’s almost as if the bigger the project, the less transparent it is.” The public was effectively ignored during the public comment on Kolubara B. “The public participation deadline was posted at the very last moment, and we don’t even know if the public comments were considered. Also, it is not known if Kolubara B is simply a replacement for the obsolete units or if his final capacity is going to be greater than that, ”she said.

China Dialogue repeatedly asked EPS for comment but received no response.

The environmental impact of Serbia’s Chinese investments is receiving some attention in the EU. In January, a group of MEPs (MEPs) signed a letter to Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, in order to “underline the persistent environmental damage resulting from several heavy industrial projects in Serbia by Chinese companies”. They also pointed out that, given that several projects are under development near Serbia’s borders with Hungary and Romania, any potential ecological effects are likely to have an impact on neighboring EU countries as well. . “It is therefore in the interest not only of Serbia but of the European community in general to ensure that these effects are mitigated in magnitude and intensity”, concludes the letter.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan calls on banks to facilitate loans for Naya Pakistan housing program Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:14:09 +0000

Prime Minister Imran Khan noted on Sunday that there had been difficulties in obtaining loans under the Naya Pakistan housing program and called on all banks to make the process more accessible and easier for people to understand. .

The prime minister, while addressing a live telethon on Pakistani television network for the project, said it was “the most important project for the future of the country.”

He said that although it is a common practice in European countries, it is for the first time in Pakistan’s history that employees have the option of owning a house.

The prime minister said he recognizes there are difficulties for people seeking loans and called on all banks to streamline the process.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said that once people start building houses, there will be a boom in the construction industry which will bring about revolutionary change in Pakistan.

He said that building houses, in addition to generating income, will also lead to job creation.

“Our country is deeply in debt. We must look for ways to increase the wealth of our country,” added the Prime Minister.

Loan limit increased by 100%

Two days ago, Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to increase the program’s loan limit by 100%.

The move was announced by PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan, who wrote on Twitter that the PM not only decided to increase the loan limit for the program by 100%, but the reduced mark-up rate also been reduced to 3% and 5%.

Under this Bridge program, people will be able to buy houses, apartments and plots of 5 and 10 marla, while those who already own properties will be able to build houses on these plots under the program, wrote the assistant to the prime minister.

He said the loan limit has been increased to 10 million rupees.

The senator said Prime Minister Imran Khan was overseeing the project himself.

“The realization of dreams has begun; distribution of houses has begun,” Senator PTI wrote, adding that people would no longer be forced to repay huge loans as they can become homeowners by paying off the loan in very small installments. .

“This is a revolutionary decision. You can now own a house. Contact the banks for more information on loans,” added the prime minister’s assistant, urging people to take the opportunity.

What is the Naya Pakistan Home Loan Program?

In October 2020, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) announced that the government will provide a facility for the construction and purchase of new houses to the Pakistani people.

“This facility will allow all individuals, who will build or buy a new home for the first time, to benefit from the bank’s financing at subsidized and affordable mark-up rates,” said a press release from the SBP.

This facility will be provided with the administrative support of the State Bank of Pakistan as an implementing partner of the Government of Pakistan and the Naya Pakistan Housing and Development Authority (NAPHDA), the statement added.

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Automated Financial Systems, Inc. is ready for SOFR, BSBY, Ameribor and other alternative LIBOR rate methods! Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:14:09 +0000

EXTON, Pa .– () –Automated Financial Systems, Inc. (AFS®) announced that AFS Level III ™ and AFSVision® are ready for all four SOFR rate methods (including credit sensitive spreads and compound rate and balance), as well as for processing several alternative rates (ex., Ameribor, Bloomberg Short-term Bank Yield Index (BSBY), Fed Funds and Prime Rate).

As a leading provider participating in the ARRC Business Lending Working Group, AFS appreciates the complexities and challenges that arise in transitioning from LIBOR to alternative interest rate methods. With Federal Reserve reviewers indicating that banks should be ready to stop issuing LIBOR-based contracts by December 31, 2021, it becomes even more essential that banks and their systems be prepared for a smooth transition. and operational. Since 2018, AFS has been at the forefront of analyzing market specifications and investing resources in preparing AFS Level III and AFSVision systems for every possible LIBOR transition scenario.

“With our direct involvement in market and regulatory affairs for all segments of the trade credit business, AFS has held a unique position in this process from the start,” said Dean Snyder, executive vice president of AFS. “Since January 2019, we have been an active member of the ARRC Business Loans Working Group. During this time, we worked hard not only to codify the pricing methodology, but also to ensure that all AFS systems were ahead of the curve in supporting the final recommendations. ”

Our LIBOR transition team is ready to review your needs and guide your organization to the appropriate LIBOR transition solution. Email Dean Snyder at to find out how AFS can help you.

About AFS

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ABCs and Westpac loan flows move ahead of their peers Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:14:09 +0000

CBA and Westpac have reported a larger increase in their mortgage books compared to their peers, while NAB has seen its investor portfolio shrink, the latest APRA data has revealed.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released its latest monthly Authorized Depository Institutions (MADIS) statistics for February 2021, which show total resident loans and finance leases increased 0.3% – or $ 9.7 billion.

According to APRA, this was largely due to home loans, spurred by strong demand from borrowers for single-family homes due to low borrowing costs (with interest rates remaining low) and government support measures such as the HomeBuilder grant and the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS).

APRA data showed owner-occupied loans increased 0.5 percent or $ 6.3 billion, and investment loans increased 0.1 percent or $ 800 million. more moderate dollars.

Among the Big Four, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) recorded the largest increase in its total mortgage portfolio, from around $ 468.0 billion in January 2021 to around $ 469.9 billion in February, an increase of 0.42%.

The increase is due to the bank’s homeowner portfolio, with loans rising from $ 308.7 billion in January to $ 310.6 billion in February. However, its investor loan portfolio held steady at around $ 159.3 billion in February.

The CBA released its results for the first half of fiscal 2021 in February, which showed that domestic loans increased by 3% in the six months leading up to December 31, 2020, 1.5 times the growth of the system.

CBA CEO Matt Comyn told the Advisor at the time of publishing the results that an increase in the number of applications delayed processing times, particularly towards the end of December 2020 and January 2021.

He added, however, that it was “a little easier” to increase decision speed from a proprietary point of view “because of the wealth of data we have on these clients.”

He continued, “From our perspective, it is important to enable our brokers to do business with us and to ensure that we provide competitive and leading decision making and turnaround time. And I know it’s an Angus focus [Sullivan], who leads retail banking and our third-party team. “

Westpac’s mortgage portfolio grew from $ 406.6 billion in January to $ 408.0 billion in February (0.35% increase), thanks to the increase in its homeowner loan portfolios and investors.

Big bank homeowner loans totaled about $ 231.0 billion in February, up from $ 229.9 billion in January, while investor loans rose from $ 176.7 billion in January to 177. , 0 billion dollars in February.

The National Australia Bank (NAB) home loan portfolio grew 0.20%, from $ 260.8 billion in January to $ 261.3 billion in February.

While NAB’s homeowner loan portfolio increased from $ 159.5 billion in January to $ 160.4 billion in February, its investor loan portfolio grew from about $ 101.3 billion. dollars in January to $ 100.9 billion in February.

Meanwhile, ANZ’s loan portfolio has remained largely stable, with the lender’s total portfolio falling from $ 262.8 billion in January to around $ 263.0 billion in February.

While its homeowner portfolio grew from $ 175.3 billion to $ 175.5 billion between January and February, its investor loan portfolio remained at around $ 87.4 billion.

The latest statistics from APRA coincided with the release of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) financial aggregate data for February 2021, which saw home loan growth of 0.4% (unchanged by compared to the growth rate for January).

The figures (which come from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, APRA and RBA) showed annual home loan growth of 3.8%, up from 3.1% recorded in February 2020.

Total monthly credit growth – which includes housing, individuals and businesses – also remained unchanged at 0.2% in February.

However, total annual credit growth fell to 1.6% in February 2021, from 2.7% in February 2020.

[Related: CBA book boosted by multibillion-dollar OO rise]

ABCs and Westpac loan flows move ahead of their peers


Last updated: March 31, 2021

Published: April 1, 2021

Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur is the Mortgage Securities Reporting Editor at Momentum Media.

Prior to joining the team in 2019, Malavika held positions at Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for six years.

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