Mangawhai is a part of the country where it seems hard to imagine the residents worrying too much about anything. It’s too far up the coast, really, to be considered Auckland, but it’s not quite Northland-proper. There’s a pub, a couple of restaurants. It’s a prime spot for holiday homes or retirees escaping the city. But for much of the past decade, it’s also been the scene of one of the country’s fiercest rates revolts, as residents refused to pay a ‘‘rates bomb’’ levied to fund a cost blowout on a $60 million wastewater scheme. Pensioners who had never tangled with authority were suddenly touting protest signs and handing out pamphlets. Now the Kaipara ratepayers have earned a legal victory which could have major implications for other prospective putsches. The High Court at Whangarei has ruled rates collected by Kaipara District Council on behalf of the Northland Regional Council between 2011 and 2016 were invalid. The rates did not meet the requirements of the Rating Act – the setting of rates requires a formal resolution that sets the dates on which each instalment is payable. The regional council did not set those dates. It also failed to assess its rates. It will be clear soon whether the council plans to appeal that ruling. Ratepayers could apply to have their rates returned. The decision has implications well beyond the Whangarei and Far North District borders. There’s also the matter of the remaining court action against striking ratepayers to be resolved. Bruce and Heather Rogan have already appeared in court and lost over their refusal to pay $50,000 in outstanding rates and penalties – they are still waiting for a decision on their High Court appeal. A handful of other cases remain.
Throughout the battle, the pensioners have been the face of the cause. Sometimes that has meant attacks on them personally; in 2013 ‘‘bludger’’ stickers were pasted over many of the 200 signs posted in front of properties signalling the presence of ‘‘Another striking Mangawhai property’’. At the time, protesters suggested the district council might have been responsible – something it vehemently denied.
There was a sense in parts of Kaipara that the Mangawhai protesting community were rich retirees who had moved up from Auckland and didn’t want to pay their share for infrastructure development.
Bruce Rogan says the protest is out of character. He and his wife had never been late with a rates bill before the 2012 protest.
‘‘We tried to say to the High Court, through our lawyer, ‘you need to understand the Rogans have never had a dispute with anybody in their lives’.’’
But it was at a council meeting five years ago that he decided something had to be done.
‘‘They adopted their rates resolution, in our view completely illegally. I went to the chief executive and deputy mayor when they were still sitting there after the lunch adjournment had started and said ‘by doing this you’ve given us no alternative but to get a judicial review of the decision’.’’
The fight has come at a personal cost. This was meant to be their retirement – Rogan spent 28 years at IBM and had a stint in the health system before moving to Mangawhai. But the Rogans have bounced from one court hearing to the next, at turns winning and losing. Rogan also ran an unsuccessful mayoralty campaign.
‘‘We would like to have spent a bit of this time overseas but we’ve always had another bloody hearing hanging over us that we have to front up to,’’ he says.
‘‘Our lives have been put on hold by this, that’s for sure.
‘‘There’s a lot of things we haven’t done that we would otherwise have done.
‘‘Also, you have to bear in mind that five years of your life when you’re 70 is a very big percentage of your life. Because if you’re lucky, you last ’til you’re 90. Five years when you’re 70 is 20 per cent of your life. Gone.’’
There has been a financial cost, too, although Rogan says it’s neither here nor there in the scheme of things. ‘‘You either have the money or you don’t. We’ve been lucky in life to have the money to get by on the skin of our teeth.’’
The community has rallied behind them, coming up with $400,000 to cover legal costs. ‘‘People would come round to my place with $10 because they happened to be able to find $10 to put into the case,’’ Rogan says.
There’s never been much argument that the situation wasn’t handled well. It took a retrospective validation act in Parliament to make Kaipara District Council rates lawful. Commissioners took the place of the elected council and handed back the democratic process only last year.
Rogan’s neighbour, holiday home-owner and retired lawyer Clive Boonham says he joined the fight against the dodgy rates from a sense of injustice. ‘‘I looked at it and thought ‘this is not just illegal, this is patently illegal’. This is like mafia levies, it doesn’t even follow the rules.’’
Boonham estimates he owes the council about $65,000, thanks to the addition of penalties every six months.
Strikers have offered to pay the rates they owe, but do not want to pay the penalties, too. At one point, the group turned up at council with some $500,000 in cheques to settle the stand-off. It was rejected.
‘‘Every six months another 10 per cent is added,’’ Boonham says. ‘‘Not only have you got your 10 per cent penalty but you’ve got your 20 per cent per annum compounding, so you run into massive bills.’’
Councils apply payments to the oldest part of a rates bill, so those who have tried to pay their rates while the court deals with the dispute have not been able to.
Rogan’s group recently switched its legal representation to Whangarei law firm Henderson Reeves.
Director Thomas Biss says what they have done is heroic and could be used as a template for other ratepayers who find their councils have acted illegally.
‘‘It’s important that people stand up and say ‘if the Government is going to rule, it’s important that it acts in accordance with the laws’.
‘‘The personal risk these guys took to stand up and say ‘no, you can’t do that, you’re wrong’ on a point of principle is hugely brave.’’
The protesters were a bit like Dad’s Army, he said. ‘‘Last time I spoke to them one was out pruning the roses. That’s what they do when they’re not bringing down the government.’’
Northland MP Winston Peters says the council’s ‘‘poor judgement and mismanagement’’ was to blame and it was unfair ratepayers had been left with the bill.
‘‘They should never have been put through this,’’ he says.
Whatever happens now, Rogan says he and his group won’t file any more legal action. If it all goes against them, he and Heather may up sticks and head back to Auckland.
The bitter taste left by the battle would blight their enjoyment of Mangawhai forever, he says.
He is not sure whether he would have taken on the fight, had he known how long it would take.
‘‘We knew enough about how these things work to know they wouldn’t just roll over and give in. We didn’t realise how determined the government was to kill us. On every count we knew we were right and we knew we were up against the forces of darkness, who really don’t give a stuff about what the rights and wrongs of things are, they’d just pour money onto the problem until it goes away. We just said we were not going to be treated that way.’’
He says he and Boonham have been united in the view that it was important that everyone stuck to the law. ‘‘Not some people subject to them and some people not but everyone subject to them under the law. Someone’s got to take a stand somewhere or we end up in anarchy.’’
Boonham says he’s still waiting to get on with his retirement, too: ‘‘I came up here to fish and play golf or whatever but I work every day on this. We’ve had some successes. Some failures as well. But we know we’re right.’’
TORONTO The federal government’s $372.5-million loan to Bombardier may not be fully repaid for 15 years, the company said Thursday.
The interest-free loan is “royalty repayable,” Bombardier chief financial officer John Di Bert said, providing details for the first time on the terms of the government aid that was announced earlier this month.
“That means that it will be repaid on either a function of business jet deliveries or CSeries unit deliveries,” Di Bert told analysts on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.
“It will be over a significant amount of time,” he added. “The program runs for about 15 years, including a bit of a grace period the first two years, so no repayments for the first two years.”
Di Bert said the company will receive between $70 million and $100 million per year from 2017 to 2020. The funding will go toward research and development of Bombardier’s new Global 7000 business jet and the ongoing development of the CSeries commercial jet.
Company spokesman Simon Letendre said the specific details of the agreement are confidential so he couldn’t provide any information about the level of revenue or deliveries that would trigger repayment.
“We are not going to comment on the specifics, but we are committed to repaying these contributions in full, as we always did in the past,” Letendre said in an email.
The government support comes as Bombardier continues to make progress on its five-year turnaround plan, which was implemented by chief executive Alain Bellemare in 2015 as the company burned through cash and struggled to bring the CSeries to market.
Bombardier expects to deliver 30 to 35 CSeries this year, up from seven last year. The company was forced to cut its 2016 delivery forecast in half because of supplychain issues at its engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney.
Bellemare said he expects to announce another big order for the aircraft this year, which has a firm backlog of approximately 350 jets. The last major order for the CSeries was in April 2016 from Delta Air Lines Inc.
“We have a number of ongoing campaigns that the team is actively working on,” Bellemare said. “If you look at the comments we’re getting from our existing current operators, it’s very, very positive. As you know, it’s a small world, so that has a positive ripple effect on other airlines.”
Bombardier is also applying the lessons it learned from the difficult CSeries development process to its Global 7000 business jet, which has conducted about 100 hours of flight tests and is scheduled to enter service in the second half of 2018. “The maturity of the aircraft at this stage is probably two to three times better than what we saw with the CSeries when the CSeries had its first flight,” Bellemare said. “It shows that we’ve been building on the lessons learned from the CSeries.”
Bombardier reported a fourthquarter loss before special items of US$0.07 per share, wider than the US$0.03 loss forecast by analysts. Revenue fell 13 per cent to US$4.38 billion but the net loss narrowed significantly to US$259 million, reflecting stronger margins. The company beat its 2016 earnings guidance with EBIT before special items of $427 million, and its yearover-year cash burn improved by US$778 million to US$1.06 billion.
“With the results coming in ahead of guidance, we see this as a considerable positive as it continues to add to management credibility and provide greater conviction into the achievability of the five-year plan,” RBC analyst Walter Spracklin wrote in a note to clients. “More importantly, we’re now through the critical de-risking/liquidity portion of the plan and we are now moving into the earnings and cash-flow transformation. … We see valuation building as management executes.”
Bombardier also reiterated its 2017 guidance, which calls for lowsingle-digit revenue growth and a 35 per cent increase in EBIT before special items. “Bottom line, we have greatly improved our operational and financial performance and there is much more to come,” Bellemare said.
(Royalty repayable) means that it will be repaid on either a function of business jet deliveries or CSeries unit deliveries.
JOHN DI BERT, CFO, Bombardier
dubai — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation policy has brought a great amount of muchneeded clarity to India’s real estate sector, which has led to an increase in interest among non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the UAE.
Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Indian Property Investment Expo, Shekhar Bhardwaj, director, Brand Managers Media, described the demonetisation policy as a “super hit” among residents and NRIs, and which has rekindled an interest to invest in India among expats. The expo, presented by 99acres.com, has been organised by Brand Managers.
“The demonetisation proved to be a confidence building measure among NRIs, and which has ultimately ended up offering a lot of clarity in the investment cycle. The equation in Indian real estate is very good right now,” he said.
Bhardwaj also revealed that the type of investment that the Indian real estate segment is seeing in the past two to three years is “humongous”. The sector, he pointed out, has definitely bounced back to its peak 2007 and 2008 investment levels; and interest, especially from NRIs, has grown.
“The key drivers of the growth in the segment is the increase in purchasing power from the middle class, spurred by the policies of the Indian government, and the boom in infrastructure in the country.
sharjah — With the Indian government’s recent push towards creating the smart cities of the future, non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the UAE are increasingly looking to invest in a property back home.
Towards that end, 99acres.com is showcasing some of the most sought after real estate projects in various cities across the country at the first-ever Indian Property Investment Exhibition, which concludes today at Expo Centre Sharjah. The exhibition brings together over 45 exhibitors who will be showcasing a number of residential and commercial projects, as well as investment options in India’s smart cities.
“We are showcasing properties across Kerala, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi,” said Shekhar Bhardwaj, director of the Indian Property Investment Expo.
“These are among the fastestgrowing cities in India. The Indian
Interest has remained high for residential projects in Hyderabad
government has been very particular about its push towards the smart cities of the future. We are showcasing everything from residential units, commercial units, land plots, and apartments.”
Speaking on investor interest from the UAE, he said: “People that are mostly looking for investment opportunities are eyeing
The time to invest in safe residential properties in India is now Samir Sureja, Director of Gurukrupa Group
apartments that they can rent out, and generate an additional source of income for themselves. The top five cities of interest among investors right now are Kerala, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune and Mumbai.”
A recent study amongst NRIs by Sumansa Exhibitions revealed that about 63 per cent of the survey participants showed an interest in buying properties in India in the coming months, compared to 61 per cent last year.
Exhibitors at the event noted that the demand for apartments in gated residential communities was increasing.
K. Prithvi Reddy, CEO of Vooty Golf County, a project by Dream Valley Group, noted that interest remained high for residential projects in Hyderabad. The group was at the exhibition to promote Vooty Golf County to interested buyers.
“The project includes an 18-hole international standard golf course, with 400 residential units covering 400, 600, 900, and 1,200 square yards. 10 per cent of the construction are gold-facing pool villas,” Reddy said.
Another exhibitor, Rohan Group, was also showcasing its projects across various cities in India.
“Our focus areas for real estate remain Pune, Bangalore, and very soon Mumbai,” said Ashwin Lunkad, director of Rohan Builders. “Founded in 1993, Rohan group has been consistently been awarded the prestigious DA2+ rating for the last nine years by CRICIL, India. It aims at building a healthier life style for the city dwellers and greater sustainability for the ecosystem having diverse interests in real estate, industrial contracting, infrastructure development and logistics. Be it residential or commercial construction, we have always banked on innovation, team work, and a high degree of technical experience which has helped us achieve an enviable track record of completing 97 per cent of our projects on time.”
Samir Sureja, director of Gurukrupa Group, noted that the time to invest in safe residential properties in India is now.
“Phase one of our Marina Enclave in Malad is ready. The whole project consists of nine towers each with 23 floors offering amazing views. Our other projects that we are showcasing today include the five-tower Guru Atman residential complex in Mumbai.”
K. Prithvi Reddy, CEO of Vooty Golf County
An Arlington-based legal investigative unit filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to force D.C. police to turn over information gathered in last year’s fatal shooting of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.
The Profiling Project, headed by lobbyist and lawyer Jack Burkman, along with law students at George Washington University, filed the suit in D.C. Superior Court in the hope that it can gain access to surveillance video from a camera at the Flagler Market, near where Rich was killed; the D.C. medical examiner’s report on the death; and the forensic ballistic report.
As part of the lawsuit, Burkman is asking that D.C. police release the information within 10 days. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine.
Rich, 27, was shot July 10, 2016, in the District’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. D.C. police have repeatedly said that they think Rich was killed in a random robbery attempt, but several conspiracy theories have emerged about his death. No arrests have been made.
Brad Bauman, a spokesman for the Rich family, said in an email Wednesday that the family was not affiliated with Burkman or his lawsuit.
“The family remains completely confident in the Metropolitan Police Department’s handling of the case,” Bauman said in a statement.
As Canadians, we’ve actually seen this troubling picture before. It was back in the summer of 1971, when the Republican administration of Richard Nixon imposed a 10 per cent special “surcharge” on all (nonresource) imports entering the United States. It became known in Canada as the “Nixon shocks.”
Not surprisingly, this development sent enormous shockwaves throughout official Ottawa. Many in the Pierre Elliott Trudeau government assumed it must have been an oversight or a mistake by an illinformed Nixon White House.
There was talk of massive job losses in Canada, the need for government programs to assist the unemployed and it stood as a stark reminder that Ottawa’s “special relationship” with Washington had run its course.
Canadian officials were subsequently dispatched to Washington to set their U.S. counterparts straight. There was a general consensus amongst the delegation that once the Americans were briefed on the importance and integrative nature of the two economies, the Nixon administration would come to its senses and swiftly exempt Canada (as it had done in the past) from this punitive measure.
What they discovered to their horror was that Canada was specifically targeted by official Washington. U.S. officials were apparently angry with a onesided Canada-U.S. Auto Pact, unwelcome noises about placing restrictions on U.S. investment in Canada and a growing bilateral trade deficit.
The big brains in the Trudeau government were at a loss as to how to get the Americans to cancel the surcharge. Any thoughts of retaliation against the U.S. were seen as dangerously counterproductive and promptly dispensed with. Diplomacy (at both the bilateral and multilateral levels) would be the order of the day — and especially working closely with our European friends to plead our collective case.
As it turned out, President Nixon relented, largely because of Japanese currency alignment, European pressure and an improving U.S. balance of payments situation, and scrapped the measure in December of 1971.
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces the ominous prospect of another Republican President, Donald Trump, embracing “Buy America” provisions, dismantling the NAFTA and imposing a 20 per cent “border adjustment tax” on Canadian imports. The fulfilment of any one of these moves would spell very bad news indeed for Canada.
Of course, Canadians are well aware of the stakes here: we export roughly 75 per cent of everything that we produce to the U.S. marketplace. It is the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world. Indeed, the U.S. market comprises something like 16 per cent of Canada’s overall GDP and Canada-U.S. trade amounts to $2.5 billion a day.
Moreover, millions of Canadian jobs depend on commercial access to the United States. And as the automotive sector amply demonstrates, the two economies are highly integrated. (It is often said that car parts move across the border seven times before the vehicle is finally assembled.)
Because of this economic dependence, though, a Trump border tax would inflict serious harm on the Canadian economy. And we should not kid ourselves this time around that an exemption or quick fix for Canada is somehow in the cards. It won’t be. So if President Trump does move to implement a border tax, the Liberal government will need to say firmly to our U.S. friends that restricting Canadian imports hurts U.S. subsidiaries operating in Canada, makes it more difficult for struggling Canadian companies to purchase U.S. products, and that we have only a small trade surplus with the U.S. We should also not be shy about reminding U.S. officials that Canada is the top trading partner for some 37 U.S. states — a number of which voted for Trump in November.
Diplomatically speaking, Canada will have to work in concert with other like-minded countries within multilateral fora to push back against the border measure. More important, Ottawa will have to utilize our embassy in Washington to lobby strenuously senior officials in the Trump White House, members of Congress (and particularly key committee chairs), state governors and friendly U.S. business interests (such as those in the auto parts sector).
Simply put, we will have to inform the Trump team that the scope of convergence between the two economies means that punishing Canada with a border tax is tantamount to cutting off your nose to spite your face. But we all need to realize that we’re now in a much different political universe than the one in the early 1970s. And I have to admit, it’s hard to know what strategy, if any, would work with such a blinkered and unpredictable Trump presidency.
Canada’s non-bank lenders are reeling from Ottawa’s latest moves to cool Canada’s housing market, with many forced to immediately hike their mortgage rates or scale back their businesses.
First National Financial, the country’s largest non-bank mortgage lender, sent a note to its mortgage-broker clients last week announcing that it had temporarily suspended mortgages for rental properties. It did the same for “stated-income” loans to borrowers who can’t verify their employment using traditional means, such as selfemployed and contract workers. The company’s shares fell nearly 20 per cent last week.
Other lenders reacted similarly in response to changes in mortgage-lending rules that federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced last week in order to limit Ottawa’s exposure to risks in the housing market, particularly in the overheated Vancouver and Toronto areas. Those changes include tightening rules around qualifying rates for borrowers with down payments of less than 20 per cent and closing loopholes that have allowed some foreign investors to avoid paying capital-gains taxes when they sell property.
Non-bank lenders now control about a third of the market for new mortgages in Canada, roughly $100-billion to $140-billion per year.
Most compete directly for the same clients that are attractive to banks – borrowers with good credit scores and stable incomes – but have been able to offer lower rates or more flexible terms than the major banks.
“This has essentially crippled the non-banks,” said Ron Butler of Butler Mortgage, an online brokerage. “It’s like you took one of their legs and broke it in a compound fracture.”
Mr. Butler predicted many nonbank lenders would see their market share shrink significantly over the next year, with some doing 50 to 60 per cent fewer mortgages in the wake of the new rules. “It really is a massive, massive change,” he said.
Another lender, Merix Financial, told brokers it would no longer offer mortgages on rental properties and refinancing after Nov. 15. Homeowners refinance their mortgage by breaking their existing contracts early and taking a new mortgage, either to take advantage of a lower interest rate or take equity out of their home to pay other expenses.
MCAP Financial told brokers it will increase interest rates for new mortgage applications by 10 basis points. (A basis point is 1/100th of a percentage point.)
Starting in December, MCAP said it will also limit amortization periods on new refinancing applications to 25 years and increase interest rates on those loans by 15 basis points.
RMG Mortgages, which is owned by MCAP, said it was ending 35-year mortgage amortizations starting next month and would hike rates on “stated-income” mortgages by 15 basis points.
It is Ottawa’s new rules for portfolio insurance that have dealt the biggest blow to the country’s “monoline” lenders, financial institutions that have only one line of business – mortgages – and operate predominantly through networks of independent mortgage brokers, rather than through bricks and mortar retail branches.
Borrowers with down payments of less than 20 per cent are required to take mortgage insurance. But lenders will often separately take out portfolio insurance on pools of their uninsured mortgages, those with down payments of 20 per cent or more, so that they can sell the loans to investors through CMHC’s mortgage-backed securities programs.
Until now, portfolio insurance has given non-bank lenders access to a cheap source of financing, allowing them to offer mortgages at interest rates that are competitive with the major banks, which have other ways to fund their mortgage businesses, such as deposits.
Under the new portfolio insurance rules that kick in Nov. 30, lenders will no longer be able to insure mortgages with amortization periods beyond 25 years, those on homes worth more than $1-million, rental properties, or mortgage refinancing.
That is forcing lenders who have relied heavily on government-backed portfolio insurance to scramble to find other ways to finance these portions of their mortgage business or scrap them entirely.
Several industry players say the new rules will make it far more difficult for alternative lenders to compete with the major banks, who rely less on portfolio insurance to fund their mortgage business and who will likely be able to absorb the increased costs of stricter mortgage-insurance regulations without hiking rates on their mortgage products.
“Tightening of mortgage regulations generally, people are generally on board with that,” said James Laird, president of mortgage brokerage CanWise Financial. “What we’re not on board with is systematic changes that benefit the banks at the cost of the mortgage brokers backed by monoline lenders.”
If Ottawa goes ahead with plans to force lenders to share in the cost of defaulted mortgages that are covered by its governmentbacked mortgage insurance, that may push some smaller lenders to shut down entirely, while others may have to scale back their operations and lay off staff, Mr. Butler said.
“The banks are the only companies in Canada who could immediately absorb risk-sharing and not have to raise their rates immediately,” he said. “They could sit back and watch their competitors just dry up and blow away.”
PAWTUCKET – With the legal battle having come to an end, the historic Silver Top Diner will hit the auction block next month, as members of the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency and consultants for the city hope to bring it back to its previous glory, possibly in Pawtucket.
The auction will take place at 10 a. m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the site of the diner, which currently sits on a vacant plot of land on Middle Street in Pawtucket.
“The next step in the diner saga is about to take place,” Mike Cassidy, a planning consultant for the city and the city’s former Planning Director, said. “It’s nice after starting this project, to see it looking like it’s coming to some resolution, getting it back somewhere and maybe even up and operating.”
Cassidy said his long-term goal is to see the diner returned to its former lore – as a fully-functioning diner in which to serve hungry patrons. He said he would “hate to lose that valuable piece of Americana.”
Susan Mara, the city’s acting director of Planning and Redevelopment and the acting executive director of the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency, said that the Silver Top hitting the auction block is “a good thing all around.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the diner itself to be reused, it’s really a neat piece,” Mara said. “It’s an opportunity to be reused. I think it’s a good opportunity, it frees up lots for potential redevelopment on those sites, it’s a good opportunity overall.”
Mara agreed that the ideal situation would be that the diner is sold to someone who intends to keep it in Pawtucket.
“It would be great if it was purchased with the idea to reuse in Pawtucket. We’d absolutely be willing to work with them,” Mara said. “In general, the diners were real popular, but there are not that many left of them. We’re lucky we have the Modern Diner in Pawtucket, it’s an awesome example of how it can be preserved and reused.”
However, Mara said that the city will be willing to work with whoever purchases it, as the city is now participating as a supporter in the aftermath of the legal battle over the diner’s future.
In November 2015, a Superior Court jury rejected diner owner Patricia Tomasso-Brown’s claims that the PRA was negligent because it failed to properly manage the funds loaned to her by the agency to resurrect the idle restaurant as a going business. She was seeking monetary damages from the PRA, but the jury ruled in favor of the defendants and she received no award.
The legal feud involved a $100,000 loan the PRA made to Tomasso-Brown some 14 years ago after she bought the landmark dining car and moved it to Pawtucket from its original location in Providence. From the mid-1930s, the classic dining car was located on a parcel off Promenade Street near the Providence Place Mall, but it was forced to relocate in 2001 after the land beneath it was sold to develop apartments.
Despite its current condition, wrapped in a tarp for years, the Silver Top has a storied past. Manufactured by the New Jersey- based Kullman Dining Car Company, the historic dining car operated in Providence for 60 years and was a mainstay for hungry workers from the factories perched alongside the Moshassuck River and, closer to the end of its life in the capital city, as a popular after-hours eatery for revelers leaving the city’s bars and nightclubs.
New Delhi: The higher judiciary is not in favour of any mechanism that puts outside interference in the procedure of appointment of judges by the Supreme Court collegium. At last week’s interaction between the Chief Justice of India and two senior Cabinet ministers, the former is believed to have rejected the proposal to put in place a committee of retired judges to evaluate the applications of candidates for appointment as judges to the SC and high courts.
On Wednesday, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and law minister Sadananda Gowda had met CJI T S Thakur at the latter’s residence to convince him on the draft memorandum of procedure (MoP) finalised by the Centre, over which the SC collegium, headed by the CJI, had expressed reservations over all key suggestions.
Swaraj, who headed the group of ministers which drafted the MoP, convinced the CJI on other issues that included setting up of secretariats at the SC and HCs to monitor and coordinate all appointment related work.
The MoP is a document which guides the appointment of judges to the SC and the 24 high courts. At present, there are two MoPs — one for the apex court and the other for high courts. The government had sent the draft MoP to the SC collegium in March. The CJI had returned the document in May raising objections to various clauses. Wednesday’s meeting was aimed at narrowing the differences between the executive and the judiciary. At the meeting, Justice Thakur said the committee of retired judges to evaluate applications was unacceptable, a source said.
The government wants the proposed panel to evaluate the experience of aspirants in detail before making recommendations to the collegium for a final call. One committee was proposed at the SC level and 24 others for each high court.
TWO major recipients of British aid are ‘fantastically corrupt’, David Cameron admitted yesterday. The Prime Minister was caught on camera making the candid remark to the Queen at a Buckingham Palace event marking her 90th birthday. He told her a summit in London tomorrow would see ‘the leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain’. Singling out Nigeria and Afghanistan for criticism, he told the monarch they were ‘possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world’.
Downing Street stood by the comments – which appeared to leave the Queen visibly shocked – saying the leaders of both countries acknowledged that they had a problem.
But Tory MP Philip Davies called for Nigeria and Afghanistan to be stripped of aid until they clean up their acts.
‘It is completely unjustifiable for the Prime Minister to pour taxpayers’ money into Nigeria and Afghanistan even though he knows they are fantastically corrupt, it is an absolute scandal,’ he said.
The two countries pocketed £435million of British cash last year – despite deep cuts to public services here. Their payments have soared 35 per cent since Mr Cameron took office in 2010.
Peter Bone, another Conservative MP,
said the PM’s pledge to spend 0.7 per cent of Britain’s income on aid meant more cash would inevitably be lost to corruption.
He added: ‘We have got tied to this ridiculous target which means we are more interested in spending money than in where it ends up. It is perverse.
‘Why else are we giving millions of pounds to countries that we know are fantastically corrupt? We just end up lining the pockets of corrupt leaders, bent officials, criminal gangs and, in the worst cases, terrorists.’
Steve Hilton, Mr Cameron’s former Downing Street guru, also criticised his intervention, highlighting a survey by the Economist suggesting the UK has a bigger problem with corruption than countries such as Brazil, France and the United States.
In a message on Twitter, Mr Hilton said: ‘Before anyone gets too complacent, the UK is fantastically corrupt too.’
Mr Cameron’s slip came during an apparent effort to make small talk about preparations for tomorrow’s anti-corruption summit.
He said: ‘We’ve got the Nigerians, actually we’ve got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain. Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who used to work in Nigeria, appeared to correct the Prime Minister, telling him: ‘But this particular president [Muhammadu Buhari] is actually not corrupt.’
The Queen then asked the archbishop: ‘He’s trying?’ He responded: ‘Oh yes, he’s trying very hard.’
Commons speaker John Bercow, who was also present, then attempted a joke, saying: ‘They are coming at their own expense one assumes?’ Mr Cam- eron replied: ‘Yes, because it’s an anticorruption summit everything has to be open, you see. So there are no closed door sessions. It’s all in front of the press. It could be quite, um, interesting. But there you go.’
Garba Shehu, a spokesman for the Nigerian president, said: ‘It is disturbing that despite all the efforts made by President Buhari in fighting corruption in Nigeria, his efforts have gone unnoticed. It is possible the Prime Minister was caught unawares and was referring to how things were done in the past.’
The Afghan embassy maintained a diplomatic silence last night.
But Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: ‘Muhammadu Buhari won elections last year promising to fight widespread corruption.
‘So to see our Prime Minister talk about him like this is disgraceful. The reason this summit is being held is to help bolster newly elected leaders like Buhari and not to cut them down. The Prime Minister has gaffed, yet again.’
Mr Cameron also drew a rebuke from anti-corruption campaigners, who said he should look closer to home and deal with tax avoidance in British overseas territories, which are blamed for hiding dirty money. The secretive nature of the tax regimes in some dependencies, such as the British Virgin Islands, was highlighted in the recent Panama Papers scandal.
Mr Cameron is no stranger to the danger of unguarded comments in the presence of TV microphones.
In 2014, the Prime Minister was forced to issue a public apology to the Queen after he inadvertently revealed that she had ‘purred’ with pleasure when he told her Scotland had rejected independence. And last year he was recorded talking about Yorkshire people ‘hating each other’.
Comment – Page 14 GLOBAL rankings show Nigeria and Afghanistan really are among the world’s most corrupt countries – yet we give them millions of pounds in aid which could actually fuel corruption.
Transparency International, an international non-governmental organisation, ranks wartorn Afghanistan as the third worst country in the world for corruption, only better than North Korea and Somalia, while Nigeria is 32nd from bottom.
Despite this, Britain gives £237million a year in aid to Nigeria and £198million to Afghanistan, the latest figures show. The total aid spending on the two countries is 35 per cent higher than when David Cameron came to power in 2010.
Two years ago, a report from an aid watchdog found that UK aid fuels corruption in Nigeria, with one scheme increasing the likelihood that locals would have to pay backhanders to the police. The Independent Commission For Aid Impact said the Department for International Development (DfID) was not ‘up to the challenge’ of tackling corruption, often because it was concerned about offending local politicians.
÷ Transparency International’s corruption perception index puts Nigeria at 136 out of 168 countries. ÷ Corruption is endemic in Nigeria, with estimates as high as 400billion US dollars lost since it won independence from Britain in 1960. ÷ A 2014 study by the Independent Commission For Aid Impact found: ‘Petty corruption touches virtually every aspect of life and is accepted throughout society as normal and necessary. We heard stories of parents paying bribes to teachers to educate their children, workers paying bribes to get jobs and receive their salaries, and pensioners paying bribes to receive pensions.’ ÷ It is believed that up to 20billion US dollars have gone missing from
the books of the state oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. ÷ Millions of dollars meant to be spent on vaccinations and on the fight against ebola have been illegally diverted. ÷ Surveys show that the Nigerian police is seen as the most corrupt institution in the country, with people having to pay bribes before officers will agree to help them.
BUT HERE ARE THEIR AID GRANTS
÷ The UK gave £237million in aid to Nigeria in 2014. More than £1billion has been given to the country since 2010 – despite the fact that it is rich enough to afford a space programme. ÷ The DfID says the money goes towards providing clean water, food, health and education to millions of vulnerable people and does not go to government officials. It also claims there are robust checks to ensure the money is safe from corruption. ÷ A study into a multi-millionpound aid programme to boost schools found that it had produced ‘no major improvement in pupil learning’. Researchers found teachers at subsidised schools frequently failed to turn up and children were left to play football all day. ÷ The Independent Commission For Aid Impact found that after the UK spent millions on a scheme to tackle police bribery in Nigeria, locals said they were even more likely to have to pay backhanders.
÷ Transparency International’s corruption index puts Afghanistan at 166 out of 168 countries. ÷ The New York Times once wrote: ‘ Corruption can no longer be described as a cancer on the system: it is the system.’ ÷ Corruption takes the form of bribes, nepotism, position buying and illegal land transfers. ÷ Policemen are accused of turning a blind eye to or even colluding with criminals and insurgents in smuggling or kidnapping for ransom. ÷ A United Nations survey in 2012 found 50 per cent of Afghans were forced to pay bribes for government services. Money was demanded by teachers, customs officials, judges and prosecutors. ÷ Corruption in Afghanistan goes right the way to the top – with former president Hamid Karzai himself apparently implicated. The Kabul Bank corruption scandal in 2010 saw members of his family and others accused of spending the bank’s money to fuel their lavish lifestyles.
AND HERE’S THEIR AID
÷ In 2014, the UK gave £198million in aid to the country despite its record. The DfID says none of the money goes to the government and is only handed to local charities, with robust checks in place. ÷ Millions have been spent on trying to crack down on the opium and heroin trade, but despite all the efforts the country’s poppy harvest is now at its highest ever level. ÷ Last month it was reported that two schools in Helmand province, which were refurbished using British aid money, are now being used as bases for the Afghan army. ÷ Billions of dollars of aid have been siphoned off by political elites linked to Mr Karzai. Experts believe that much may also have ended up in the hands of the Taliban. ÷ The DfID said our funding supports basic services such as healthcare and education, economic development, and anti-corruption measures.