States must take lead on climate change

first_imgSecond, the revenue can be used to reduce other taxes.(The legislation in Washington was not revenue-neutral, which may explain why it failed to draw Republican support.)Right now, Congress is paralyzed and the White House is testing the limits of dysfunction.Climate policy cannot wait, so the task falls to the states.Governors and legislatures that recognize the problem shouldn’t have to bear this burden, but they do. They need, so far as possible, to depoliticize the issue, and lead.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appeared on Bloomberg View:As the North Pole warms to above-freezing temperatures in mid-winter, ice sheets melt and sea levels surge, the Washington state legislature has abandoned, for now, its plan to tax carbon dioxide emissions. California has recently extended its cap-and-trade program — which puts a price on carbon emissions, if indirectly — and the Oregon legislature is considering doing the same.Perhaps the accumulating concrete signs of climate change are helping people recognize the need to act.But stronger leadership is also needed to get state carbon taxes across the finish line.What’s needed most is to get this issue out of partisan politics, where it never belonged.There’s nothing left or right about seeing that lower emissions are essential to insure against the possibility of extreme warming, sea-level rise and severe weather patterns.Carbon taxes, moreover, should appeal to Republicans as much as Democrats, for two reasons.First, they make it possible to reduce emissions with a minimum of government intervention. Put a price on carbon pollution that accounts for the damage it inflicts, and the market can be left to work out the most efficient ways to dial it back.center_img The news is especially discouraging because Washington is the only state that’s come close to passing such a tax — the strongest weapon against climate change.Gov. Jay Inslee, D, had been determined to get the measure through, and had a lot of support in the state senate.But such is the political toxicity of an energy tax, he couldn’t get enough votes.Not yet, anyway.Washington state is not giving up: There’s talk of putting the issue to voters again.And there are signs of movement elsewhere too.Seven other states plus the District of Columbia are debating carbon-tax legislation.last_img read more

No need to lump coach with kid photo

first_imgThe decision to put information regarding Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake varsity girls’ lacrosse coach Jake McHerron’s suspension at BH-BL under the picture of his daughter and her teammates made an unforgivable mistake. For shame.Jackie LochnerGlenvilleMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinionlast_img

GUEST COLUMN: City needs smarter digital sign regulation

first_imgMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists Nor is planning staff recommending instantaneous transitions, banning animation and gimmicky visuals, limiting the amount of text, prohibiting digital signs near intersections and in mix-use-residential districts or imposing other restrictions that promote safety and good taste in other municipalities. (See https://tinyurl.com/DigitalSignRegs for excerpts from municipal codes, a fuller safety discussion, and relevant materials and images.)EMBs are literally designed to distract.We need to speak up and insist that being business-friendly should not mean forfeiting effective regulations on technology that offers little to the public and often no real advantage for businesses over conventional signage.As guidelines recently written for Dutchess County say: “Municipalities must decide what is more important – the benefit to the digital sign owner, or the safety and visual quality of the community.”David Giacalone of Schenectady is a retired lawyer and mediator, and editor of SnowmenAtTheGates.com. (3) “If more than one CEVMS sign face is visible to the driver at the same time”, the signs must be spaced at least 300’ apart;(4) CEVMS must “not appear brighter to drivers than existing static billboards.” Each of those standards is, in fact, more crucial on urban streets than on highways, because they are much closer to traffic, pedestrians, housing and other buildings than billboards are from major highways. And the streetscape can offer so many additional distractions and ambient light conditions.Worse, the Planning Office has allowed applicants, such as Proctors and Mohawk Harbor, to make the required “showing” that there will be no significant impact on safety or a neighborhood by simply stating the conclusion that there will be no negative impact.As a result, among other problems, we have multiple digital signs where downtown vehicle and pedestrian traffic is the busiest; huge digital billboards along already-challenging roadways; and, a garish digital sign replacing a tasteful, effective one a few feet from Upper Union Street.The Planning Office is about to recommend changes to our EMB provisions.Staff has looked at laws elsewhere, but so far has decided not to increase the change interval, which is 5 minutes in Buffalo and 30 seconds in Syracuse, while Dutchess County planners recommend 12-hour intervals. Categories: Editorial, OpinionFor The Daily GazetteSchenectady needs to get smarter about regulating the bright, frequently-changing, and highly distracting digital signs that it allows along our streets and highways.Our Zoning Code calls them Electronic Message Boards, “EMBs”, and since February 2015 allows the image on the screen to be changed every 8 seconds, rather than the prior interval of every 60 seconds. Studies confirm the common sense conclusion that the more often a digital sign changes, the closer it is to busy roadways, intersections and sidewalks, the more verbiage and screen gimmicks it uses and the higher its comparative brightness, the greater distraction and safety hazard it presents.But, neither the City Council nor the Planning Office has seriously considered the safety issues, much less the aesthetics, raised by such rapidly changing signs.We deserve the more thoughtful regulation of digital signs found in many other upstate cities. In 2015, the Planning Commission recommended the “dwell time” change to make our Code “consistent with State law.” But, staff never discussed the 3-page state Department of Transportation policy statement they were relying upon. That 2015 DOT Commercial Electronic Variable Message Signs (CEVMS) Policy focused on off-premise signs (billboards) along major highways, not “on-premise” signs in front of businesses along urban streets. Because variable digital signs “attract increased attention through their brightness and temporal changes of light,” DOT’s experts concluded they require more restrictions than conventional signs.Therefore, DOT imposed a set of complementary restrictions, only one of which was the 8-second change interval recommended by the Planning Office. The DOT’s statement emphasized:(1) “Local ordinances will govern if they are more stringent” than every 8 seconds;(2) Transition Time between the messages on the sign must be Instantaneous, to reduce distraction, especially for older drivers;last_img read more

NatWest buys a 25% slice of Gainsborough

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Cold storage

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RICS moves to set standard

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Reading

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China virus death toll hits 636, more than 30,000 infections

first_imgThe official Chinese death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose on Friday to 636, with the government saying total infections had climbed past 30,000.The toll was raised by 73 new deaths from the epidemic, the National Health Commission said in its daily update.Another 3,143 new cases of infection were confirmed, bringing total infections in the country thus far to 31,161, it said. The central province of Hubei where the virus originated continued to be hardest-hit, accounting for 69 of the new deaths reported in the 24 hours to Friday.Of the reported infections, more than 4,800 of those people were in serious condition.Chinese authorities are still struggling to contain the outbreak despite ordering millions of people indoors in a growing number of cities, with overwhelmed hospitals struggling to treat the surging numbers of ill.The contagion emerged in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan in December, later spreading to the rest of China and more than two dozen other countries, prompting the World Health Organisation to declare a global emergency.The number of confirmed infections in China could still grow significantly, with the health commission saying that more than 26,000 other people were “suspected” of having contracted the virus.Topics :last_img read more

BTN profits drop more than 90% in 2019 as bad loans, costs rise

first_imgPublicly listed state lender Bank Tabungan Negara’s (BTN) profits plummeted by more than 90 percent last year as nonperforming loans and costs of funds rose amid a challenging business climate for the banking industry.The mortgage-focused bank booked Rp 209.26 billion (US$15.3 million) in profits in 2019, down by 92.5 percent year-on-year, BTN president director Pahala N. Mansury said on Monday. The sharp decrease in profits was caused by BTN’s decision to comply with new accounting standards that require loan loss provisions to cover both good and bad loans, he said.As a result of the implementation of Accounting Standard 71, which took effect this year, BTN’s loan loss provisions almost doubled, jumping by 85.4 percent to Rp 6.16 trillion in 2019, from Rp 3.29 trillion in 2018. Topics : Pahala also blamed increasing costs of funds for the bank’s nosediving profits last year.“Higher costs of funds were putting pressure on our ability to create profits last year,” he said during a press briefing in Jakarta. BTN’s costs of funds went up to 6.1 percent last year from 5.77 percent in December 2018.The bank also recorded a jump of bad loans in 2019 as Pahala said BTN’s gross nonperforming loans (NPL) skyrocketed from 2.78 percent in 2018 to 4.78 percent last year, nearing the 5 percent level considered healthy.Loans, meanwhile, grew 7.36 percent to Rp 255.82 trillion in 2019, higher than the broader banking industry’s 6.08 percent loan growth in 2019, the lowest since 2009, as weak economic activities took a toll on local lenders.center_img Economists have warned that rising bad loans during a global economic slowdown and tight liquidity in a low interest rate environment would pose major challenges for Indonesia’s banking industry going into 2020.BTN’s remedial and wholesale director, Elisabeth Novie Riswanti, said the bank would try to sell its NPL to other parties to improve the bad loan ratio. Potential takers include state-owned secondary mortgage market company PT Sarana Multigriya Finansial (SMF) and asset management firm PT Perusahaan Pengelola Aset (PPA), she added.“We will also auction collateral assets from the bad loans and offer them to developers and investors in the future,” Elisabeth said.Pahala forecast that such a measure would hopefully improve its NPL ratio to between 3 and 3.5 percent by the end of this year.BTN’s finance director Nixon Napitupulu explained the jump of the bad credit ratio by its decision to consider low-quality loans, particularly in the commercial high-rise segment, to be included as NPL.“We decided to consider loans that have been restructured more than two or three times that we deemed to not have good prospects for NPL so that we can sell them to other parties,” he said.Shares in BTN, traded on the Indonesia Stock Exchange under the code BBTN, closed at Rp 1,795 apiece on Monday, up 1.7 percent from the previous trading day. The stocks have slumped nearly 30 percent in the past year, underperforming the broader benchmark Jakarta Composite Index’s 9.7 percent drop.  last_img read more

Sharp decline in bad debt pushes up Bank Permata’s profit

first_imgThe bank also demonstrated continued asset quality improvement amid global and domestic economic challenges throughout 2019, as seen in a decline in the nonperforming loan (NPL) ratio to 2.8 percent in December 2019 from 4.4 percent a year earlier.The publicly listed bank noted that the improvement of the ratio was a result of the restructuring of nonperforming loans, loan write-offs and loan settlements.“Our efforts to maintain healthy asset quality, cost-efficient operations, a healthy NPL ratio and innovation, particularly through digitalization, have been the keys to success in achieving the bank’s 2019 revenue targets,” the bank’s president director, Ridha D. M. Wirakusumah, said in a statement.The lender’s profitability also showed an improvement, as reflected in its net interest margin (NIM), which grew to 4.4 percent by the end of the fourth quarter of 2019 from 4.2 percent in September 2019 and from 4.1 percent in December 2018.In its technological efforts, the bank highlighted strategic collaboration with fintech firms and notable achievements in digital banking through API Banking, PermataMobile X, PermataBank.com and its new all-digital model branch, Ridha said.Thailand-based Bangkok Bank agreed in December 2019 to assume control of Bank Permata for around US$2.67 billion by acquiring a stake of 89.12 percent from British financial giant Standard Chartered and Indonesian diversified conglomerate PT Astra International.Shares in Bank Permata, traded on the Indonesia Stock Exchange under the code BNLI, closed at Rp 1,215 on Wednesday, unchanged from the previous trading day. (ydp)Topics : Bank Permata has seen its profit grow more than 66 percent in 2019 thanks partly to a significant decline in its nonperforming loans.Bank Permata financial director Lea Kusumawijaya said in Jakarta on Wednesday that the lender’s net profit rose by 66.5 percent to Rp 1.5 trillion (US$109.73 million) in 2019, despite the challenging economic situation during the year.The increase in profit was supported by a sharp decline in the provision for bad debt, as well as by a 5.6 percent increase in net interest income (NII) and a 24.3 percent rise in fee-based income, Lea said.last_img read more