Monday, 16 July 2012

Watz Online - 16 Jul 2012

Tax haven tag by India riles Singapore's prime minister

NEW DELHI: Prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, said on Thursday that India has conceded that it should not have described the city state as a "tax haven" in its "white paper on black money".

According to the visiting leader, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged so when presented with a high-level protest from Lee, who said that they were "disturbed" to see themselves in the government report.

In an interaction with some select journalists, Lee said Singapore had even "demarched" India on the issue. "We have demarched the Indian government on this matter to put this record straight and explain why this is not true and it has been mistaken. And yesterday (Wednesday) when I met the PM I raised this with him and explained to him that we should see significant and big investments from Singapore as a good thing and we think this is bonafide. The PM acknowledged my point and he felt that he accepted the explanation and we should not have been cited in this way in that White Paper. So I accept that."

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We have no interest in being a money-laundering country: Lee Hsien Loong

Interview with Prime Minister, Singapore
Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, believes bilateral economic ties between his country and India can be significantly enhanced, if India builds up a stable policy regime to soothe investors’ nerves. On the last day of his India visit, Nayanima Basu caught up with Loong, who said India should get its record straight and not indicate Singapore as a black-money hub. Edited excerpts:

You said yesterday, during your address to the Indian business chambers, the Indian business environment is complicated. Were you referring to the recent draft guidelines on tax avoidance rules or retrospective amendments to the income tax law? Can you throw some light on your statement?

Well, there are a range of matters that the Singaporean companies have encountered when they wanted to invest in India. I think the specifics are very complicated. As I explained yesterday, when a company invests in a particular project, and it is very often a big one in India, it involves a lot of money, a long gestation, a long payback period and a necessity of predictability of the environment in which they are going to operate. There could be ups and downs in the market risks, but regulatory risks and political risks, if minimised I think will make it much easier for the companies to come in and invest.

The rules in India are complex, you have many levels of government and the requirements sometimes vary, it is unavoidable and other times it calls for a concern to the companies, which have already committed and those which have not yet committed. These will have to make an assessment whether they want to take the risk. Some of the issues can be mitigated to bring in these investments. We worked with our companies and assembled a brief of some of the issues. I do not think it is helpful to air dirty linen in public, but we have conveyed this to the Indian authorities and we are hopeful that they will look into the matter. When I met the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) yesterday, I mentioned this issue.

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FDI routed through Mauritius, Singapore to avoid taxes: Government

NEW DELHI: The government today said huge foreign direct investments are routed through Mauritius and Singapore into the country to avoid taxes as well as conceal identities of real investors, who could actually be Indian residents.

Official data show that Mauritius accounted for 41.80 per cent of entire FDI -- USD 54,227 million -- received by India from April 2000 to March 2011. During the same period, Singapore accounted for USD 11,895 million or 9.17 per cent of the total inflows.

The White Paper on black money tabled in Parliament said that Mauritius and Singapore were the two topmost FDI sources during April 2000 - March 2011 period.

"Mauritius and Singapore with their small economies cannot be the sources of such huge investments," it noted.

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'Severe dent on ASEAN's credibility'

Foreign Minister Shanmugam regrets bloc's inability to agree on common statement on South China Sea dispute.

The Association of South-east Asian Nations' (ASEAN) failure to reach consensus and issue a joint communique at the end of its meetings in Cambodia this week - a first in the bloc's 45-year history - has put "a severe dent" on its credibility, said Singapore's Foreign Minister K Shanmugam.

The failure underscores deep divisions within the 10-member bloc amid conflicting territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea involving four of its members plus China and Taiwan.

Some members have traded blame on the failure while several officials have expressed disappointment with the outcome, which has cast doubt on plans to establish a regional economic community by 2015.

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UPDATE 1-Bain, Singapore GIC in talks for Genpact stake bid-sources

MUMBAI, July 13 (Reuters) - U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital is in advanced talks with the Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) to make a joint bid for a 40 percent stake in IT outsourcing company Genpact for $1.5 billion to $2 billion, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Private equity firm Apax Partners LLP is also competing for the stake in New York-listed Genpact, the sources said, declining to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Most of Genpact's employees are in India, where IT outsourcing firms have thrived by providing Western firms with services such as processing insurance claims, managing payrolls and customer support at sharply lower cost.

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Temasek to hold on to stakes in Chinese banks

Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd will maintain its stake in China's banking sector in the long term despite a possible economic slowdown and the ongoing interest rates reform, the Singapore state investor said on Thursday.

"Seeing the current increase in consumption and ongoing urbanization, we are still confident in China's economic potential," Ding Wei, head of operations at Temasek China, said at a Beijing news conference.

Ding said the Chinese economy has slowed amid the current global economic downturn and internal imbalances, but he believes it is not likely to have a hard landing.

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Temasek appoints MPG for global media duties

GLOBAL – Temasek Holdings, a Singapore-based investment company, has appointed MPG Media Contacts Singapore to handle its global media planning and buying duties

The account was transferred following a pitch that included OMD. MPG was unable to disclose the value of the business.
It is understood that MPG Media Contacts’ existing relationship with DBS Bank, which is part of Temasek Holdings, played a role in the appointment.

Temasek Holdings operates a portfolio worth around US$156 billion

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Private equity fund Temasek keen on India, but cautious

MUMBAI: India still remains a promising economy for Temasek even though the PE fund's investment has dropped in the past one year, said Rohit Sipahimalani, co-chief investment officer and head, India, and co-head, the Middle East.

"There's a lot of uncertainty, but times like these also create opportunities. We will take advantage of the uncertainty, but will remain cautious," Sipahimalani said.

In January, Temasek picked up a 4.9 per cent stake in Godrej Consumer Products for Rs 685 crore. But despite this investment, Temasek continues to be a relatively small player in the big-ticket private equity deals market.

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Peru to Seek Investments From Singapore State Investment Firms

Peru will seek investments from Singapore’s sovereign wealth firms after they indicated interest in the Latin American country’s projects, Finance Minister Miguel Castilla said.

We’re going to meet the Singapore wealth funds in a couple of days,” Miguel Castilla said in an interview yesterday from Shanghai.

“They’ve shown interest in investing in our assets and they’re looking into projects suitable for investment.”

The meetings come as the Government of Singapore Investment Corp., the city-state’s sovereign wealth fund, and Temasek Holdings Pte, its state-owned investment company, seek to expand in emerging markets including Latin America to boost returns.

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Singapore GDP Unexpectedly Shrinks as Europe Crimps Exports

Singapore’s economy unexpectedly contracted last quarter as manufacturing fell, adding to signs of a deepening slowdown in Asian expansion as Europe’s debt crisis curbs demand for the region’s goods.

Gross domestic product fell an annualized 1.1 percent in the three months through June from the previous quarter, when it climbed a revised 9.4 percent, the Trade Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today. The median of 14 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 0.6 percent gain. The economy expanded 1.9 percent from a year earlier.

The Asian Development Bank cut its growth forecast for the region, and a report today showed today China’s expansion eased for a sixth quarter to the slowest pace since 2009. Singapore’sexports declined in May from the previous month, and a shrinking economy could put pressure on the central bank to ease monetary policy, according to Bank of America Corp.

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Technical recession looms in 3Q12: DMG

The analyst has revised down its 2012 GDP forecast to 2.6% from 4% previously.

According to DMG, the advanced estimates (computed largely from April and May data) point to the economy losing momentum on the back of external weaknesses brought about by the protracted problems in the Eurozone and lackluster US economy.

OSK-DMG said:
More importantly, it appeared that the weaknesses in the external sector were beginning to spillover to the services sector via the trade- and finance-related segments. This suggested that a technical recession could be looming in 3Q12.

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Singapore Press Hld : Singapore Press Holdings : 3Q Net Profit Falls 13% to S$99.8 Million

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. (T39.SG) Friday said net profit for its fiscal third quarter declined 13% on year as revenue from its newspaper and magazine business fell while expenses were higher.

The Singapore media company said net profit in the quarter ended June was 99.8 million Singapore dollars (US$78.9 million), compared with S$114.8 million in the previous year, according to a statement to the Singapore Exchange.

Operating revenue was up 0.9% to S$331.8 million mainly due to gains from property but revenue from the newspaper and magazine business was down 0.6% at S$261.4 million. Staff costs and other operating expenses were up 7% each at S$94 million and S$62.8 million respectively, according to the statement.

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China's economy cools to a 3-year low

BEIJING - China's growth slowed for a sixth quarter to the weakest pace since the global financial crisis, putting pressure on Premier Wen Jiabao to boost stimulus to secure a second-half economic rebound.

Year-on-year growth of 7.6 per cent in the second quarter was a whisker above the government's official 7.5 per cent full-year target and dragged the first-half average down to 7.8 per cent.

The pace, a three-year low, compares with an 8.1 per cent gain in the previous period and was in line with investor expectations.

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Accessing India through an Efficient, Transparent and Flexible fund

The Asian Development Bank has forecast that India's middle class will grow to 267 million people in 2016 from more than 160 million people last year, creating a huge market.

This figure was referenced by Ernst & Young in its 2012 India Attractiveness Survey, which notes that direct investors are going to India in search of growth opportunities for their businesses and lower operational costs.

The performance of the Indian stock market bears this out. In the first seven weeks of this year, the MSCI India Index gained as much as 21.5 per cent, making it an outperformer among emerging and developing economies. Throughout the year, it has maintained a 9.9-per-cent gain despite India's economic growth slowing to the lowest rates observed in the past nine years.

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NParks looking into fine-tuning procurement process for purchasing items

NParks said it chose Brompton and noted that the price of the model quoted was lower than the market rate.

The National Parks Board (NParks) has said it will look into fine-tuning its procurement process for the purchase of items.

Some members of the public had raised concerns whether NParks was getting value for money when NParks purchased 26 Brompton bikes at S$2,200 each for its field officers.

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NParks acknowledges bicycle purchase could have been handled better

WE THANK the writers for last Saturday's feedback ('Seeking clarity over $2,200-bike purchase' by Mr Tan Buck Yam; and 'Shocked by $2,200 price tag' by Mr Thong Kok Kheong and 'Target price should have been less than $1,000' by Mr Wong Kah Khoon, both on Forum Online).

As a public agency, we are aware of our duty to ensure value for money when public funds are involved. We acknowledge that we could have handled this purchase better.

Upon closing of the quotation, we received two offers from one vendor, both of which met our specifications. We chose the cheaper model of bicycle offered as the price quoted was lower than the retail price, and within our estimated budget.

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Police foil child trafficking attempt

An attempt to smuggle children to Singapore by sea has been foiled by police officers, Tanjung Priok detective unit chief Adj. Comr. Wirdhanto Hadicaksono said in a conference on Saturday.

A 52-year-old man, identified only as HZ, was arrested following a raid on Wednesday on the Lambelu passenger ship at Tanjung Priok Port. The ship was en route to Kijang near Batam from Baubau, Southeast Sulawesi.

Four girls and one boy between the ages of 14 and 17 were on board the ship with HZ.

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Malaysia police says one Singaporean crime victim daily in Johor

SINGAPORE and KUALA LUMPUR: With Singapore residents fearful of traveling to Malaysia’s southern Johor after reports of kidnappings have rocked Singaporeans, Malaysia’s police said that one Singapore citizen is the victim of a crime daily in Johor.

Despite the report, Malaysia’s police argued that Johor “was not a crime haven.”

Police reported that last year, 400 crime cases involving Singaporeans were recorded.

Already this year that number has seen an increase, with 216 cases being reported, police said

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Sex scandal fatigue in Malaysia, Singapore

KUALA LUMPUR: The past month has seen a barrage of sex scandals in both Malaysia and Singapore. Now, the countries’ residents are fed up, demanding that the media end the tirade on sex. Citizens in both countries have told that they are “tired” of all the coverage over issues “that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.”

At least in Malaysia, where media coverage of potential politicians sexual affairs has created anger towards the local press.

“I don’t like it,” began Mourad Aziz, a 37-year-old carpenter in Kuala Lumpur. He told that the ongoing coverage “is taking away from the issues, especially if we are to have elections in the coming year.”

For him, and others, too much sex scandal has led to both the opposition and the ruling government lose favor among the people.

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Genting Singapore Hires Ex-Las Vegas Sands Executive for Compliance Role - Source

SINGAPORE--Casino operator Genting Singapore PLC (G13.SG) has hired an executive from rival Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) to join the compliance department at its Resorts World Sentosa casino resort, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.

Robin Thompson, former executive director for compliance at Las Vegas Sands'Singapore casino resort, Marina Bay Sands, has been appointed vice president of compliance at Resorts World Sentosa, the person said.

Mr. Thompson left Marina Bay Sands late in June, and a replacement will take over his role starting next month, according to another person familiar with the move.

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