Saturday, March 11, 2017

Singapore's committee on future economy; White men 'endangered species' on UK boards; Landslide win for India PM Modi's party

1 Singapore’s committee on future economy (Lee Min Kok in Straits Times) Singapore’s Committee on Future Economy, in a 109-page report, has cited how the world today is a different animal when compared to the one at the start of the decade.

"We have seen unexpected changes in the global order, which may portend significant geopolitical and economic discontinuities. Whichever way the world goes, a small, open economy like ours will need to adapt," the report said.

The report cited four main reasons for the need to reinvent the economy: Subdued global growth, which is expected to be lower than in the previous decade; Sluggish global productivity growth; Changing global value chains; and Rapid technological change due to shortened innovation cycles.

The CFE described the world as experiencing a "dark shift in mood away from globalisation" last year, which it attributed to nativist politics and protectionist economics growing in strength and influence in Europe and the US.

It concluded that an anti-globalisation trend would have a greater negative impact on Singapore's economy, given that two-thirds of the country's gross domestic product is generated by external demand.

2 White men ‘endangered species’ on UK boards (BBC) White men are becoming an "endangered species" in top business jobs as companies take on more women and ethnic minorities, Tesco's chairman has said. John Allan told a retail conference "the pendulum has swung very significantly" - even though white men still dominate in UK boardrooms.

He said it was an "extremely propitious period" to be "female and from an ethnic background and preferably both". Mr Allan later said his comments were intended to be "humorous".

In his speech, the day after International Women's Day, about the recruitment of prospective non-executive directors, Mr Allan said: "For a thousand years men have got most of these jobs, the pendulum has swung very significantly the other way now and will do for the foreseeable future I think.

"If you are a white male - tough - you are an endangered species and you are going to have to work twice as hard." Mr Allan sits alongside eight other white men and three white women on Tesco's board. Meanwhile, Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women's Equality party, joined calls for a boycott of Tesco saying, that Mr Allan was out of touch and his comments risk alienating customers.

She also highlighted data released by the Fawcett Society this week that suggested the pay gap was influenced by racial and gender inequalities, saying both groups were a "long way from endangering men's dominance of boardrooms".

According to analysis by headhunters Egon Zehnder, women held 26.3% of board positions in the UK's largest companies in 2016 - but it said recruitment, at 29%, was at its lowest proportion since 2012. A report published in November said there was a disproportionately low level of diversity in the boardrooms of FTSE 100 companies.

3 Landslide win for India PM Modi’s party (San Francisco Chronicle) India's ruling Hindu nationalist party won landslide victories in results announced from key state legislative elections that are seen as a referendum on the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nearly 3-year-old government.

Leaders from Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party said the party's victory in Uttar Pradesh, India's largest state, would boost Modi's chances of winning another term as India's prime minister in 2019 elections. The Election Commission said the BJP won 311 out of 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh's legislature. The party's president, Amit Shah, described it as "a historic verdict."

In another northern state, Uttarakhand, the BJP won 56 of 70 seats and was leading in one other constituency, wresting power from the Congress party, the main opposition at the national level. The Congress party lost power by winning only 11 seats.

The Congress party had a face-saving win in Punjab state, where it captured 77 of 117 seats, unseating the governing alliance of the BJP and a powerful regional group, the Akali Dal. Both the BJP and the Congress party failed to win a majority of seats in western Goa state and northeastern Manipur state, according to the Election Commission.

Modi called India's massive demonetization drive, which withdrew 86 percent of the country's currency bills from the system, to cleanse the system of tax evasion and corruption. Banks and ATMs witnessed massive lines of people for months. ATMs were not refilled for days and banks ran out of cash within a few hours of opening.

Since taking office in May 2014, Modi's government has been pumping funds into boosting education, while increasing spending on roads, irrigation and other infrastructure. It has also been reforming India's complicated tax regime.

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