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Korea to double cigarette price

South Korea has one of the highest male smoking rates among OECD member countries


South Korea’s government has proposed nearly doubling the price of cigarettes to lower the country’s smoking rate.

Under its plan, the average price per pack would go up to 4,500 won (£2.70, $4.35) by the start of next year. It is currently 2,500 won.

But the proposal may undergo changes in parliament as it is facing significant opposition, reports Yonhap news agency.

The government is hoping to cut the smoking rate among men, which is among the highest in the developed world.

About 41% of South Korean men smoke, according to 2012 figures from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development – higher than the 26% OECD average.

South Korea’s overall smoking rate, at 23%, is also higher than the OECD average of 21%.

The last cigarette price hike was in 2004 when it went up by 500 won, prompting the smoking rate to slide by 15%, reported Yonhap.

The news agency also said the government was planning to introduce a pricing system pegging cigarette prices to other consumer prices.

Cigarette manufacturers would be required to print picture warnings on their products and some tobacco advertising would be banned, reports said.

The government hopes the price hike will generate an additional 2.8 trillion won in tax revenues.

The opposition has since called it a “deceitful move” which would end up costing low-income earners more, as their smoking rate is higher than other income groups.

The Korean Smoking Association also accused the government of scapegoating smokers to offset rising welfare costs, reported the AFP news agency.

In April South Korea’s state health insurer launched a lawsuit against three tobacco firms, including the local unit of Philip Morris, to offset smoking-related treatment costs.

India’s Tata set to invest $35bn

Cyrus Mistry, Aralık 2012’de Ratan Tata’dan grubun başkanlığını devraldı


( Escort Bursa ) – Tata çakıltaşı, Hindistan’ın en büyük iş grubu, bu perakende ve savunma gibi alanlarda önümüzdeki üç yıl içinde $ 35bn (£ 20.7bn) yatıracağını açıkladı.

Genişleme planları, bu hafta yapılacak bir iç toplantısında başkan Cyrus Mistry tarafından açıklandı ve e-postayla verilen bir açıklama ile doğrulandı.

Tata, Tata Motors ve Tata Steel gibi 100’den fazla şirkete sahiptir.

Küresel yatırım planları, Hindistan’da yaşanan durgun bir ekonomik ortamda gerçekleşiyor.

Tata, savunma ve havacılık, perakende, altyapı ve finans gibi dört yeni kümeye özel bir odak noktası yarattığını söyledi.

Grubun açıklamasında, Vizyon 2025 olarak adlandırılan yeni büyüme projesinin, “dünyadaki en değerli 25 şirketle karşılaştırılabilir piyasa değeri olan küresel düzeyde en beğenilen 25 kurumsal ve işveren markasından” biri olacağını belirtti.

Kongre, iç toplantısına ilişkin daha fazla bilgi vermeyecek, ancak yeni planlarının “dünya standartlarında ve gerektiğinde yeni şirketlerin yaratılmasını kolaylaştıracak şirketleri güçlü bir şekilde şampiyonlukla” göreceğini söyledi.

Bildiride, “Bu bütüncül strateji, gerekirse, performansı karşılama potansiyeline sahip olmayan işletmelerini yeniden yapılandırmak için şirketlere de destek verecek” dedi.

Aralık 2012’de grubun başkanlığını devralan Mistry, bugüne kadar nispeten düşük bir profil tuttu.

Selefi Ratan Tata, konglomeranın başkanlığını 20 yıldan fazla sürdü ve Hindistan’ın uluslararası alanda en tanınmış iş adamlarından biri.

Mumbai merkezli grup, kilit önemdeki işletmelerinin mücadelesi gibi yeni büyüme yolları arıyor.

Hindistan’ın en büyük kamyon üreticisi olan Tata Motors, satışlarının son 12 ay içinde ilk kez düştüğünü gördü.

Yavaşlayan bir ekonomi ve yüksek faiz oranları müşterileri uzak tutuyor ve bu, Ağustos ayında sunulduğunda kazanç sonuçlarını vuracak gibi görünüyor.

Ve bu yılın mayıs ayında, Tata Steel, dünyanın en büyük çelik üreticilerinden biri olan, Avrupa’da zayıflık suçlayarak, dördüncü çeyrekte net zarar açıkladı.

Warning as bin fire spreads to flat

So much rubbish was piled against the wall of the building, flames penetrated the ground floor flat


Firefighters have warned of the dangers of letting rubbish pile up after a bin fire spread into a flat in Perth

Flames penetrated the ground-floor flat on Stanley Crescent after spreading through bins and rubbish stacked outside the building

Fire crews wearing breathing apparatus were called in to tackle the fire at 20:51 on Saturday

Crew manager Lewis Duncan said the incident highlighted the danger of letting combustible materials pile up

If items are left near doors then escape routes can be blocked he said

Should a fire start accidentally or be started deliberately the chances of extensive damage being caused are increased.

There is no doubt that the fire escalated due to the fact that combustible materials had been stored to the rear of the block

This fire had the potential to be even more serious given the amount of combustible material there was against the building

DUP set to block McCausland motion

A motion on Nelson McCausland is to be debated on Monday


DUP assembly members have signed a petition of concern enabling them to block a motion concerning their minister Nelson McCausland.

The motion is due for debate on Monday.

It notes the first part of the Social Development Committee’s investigation into allegations broadcast on a BBC Spotlight programme in July last year.

The committee has split its examination of the allegations about housing maintenance contracts broadcast by Spotlight into three parts

In its first report published in July, a majority of assembly members concluded that Mr McCausland had deliberately misled them over a letter regarding a meeting he had had with a double glazing firm

However, Mr McCausland’s DUP colleagues did not agree

They accused his critics of engaging in a political witch-hunt and put out their own minority report

The motion due for debate on Monday notes the committee’s report and by using a petition of concern, the DUP can block any vote that they feel might be seen as undermining their minister

Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady said that the DUP’s decision to issue a petition of concern to stop the vote was “absolute nonsense

Monday’s debate is simply to note the report on allegations raised in a BBC Spotlight programme on the awarding of Housing Executive contracts he said.

The use of a petition of concern by the DUP is incredulous and is an absolute nonsense

In this instance the use of a petition of concern smacks of desperation. It will have no affect whatsoever other than to draw more attention to the debate

Regardless of the DUP attempts to affect the voting on this motion, the Assembly will hear the debate, it will be televised and it will be recorded into the minutes by Hansard

This only adds to the DUP’s track record of using petitions of concern for narrow party political interests

The only conclusion that will be drawn by the public is that the DUP may have something to hide by blocking the Assembly voting on this motion

Would northern England look to Scotland?

Norham Castle, on the English side of the River Tweed, protected against raids from Scottish reivers


If Scotland votes for independence on 18 September, the north of England will have a land border for the first time in centuries and will face the challenges and opportunities of having another country on its doorstep. What might the consequences be for northern England?

A little over 400 years ago, the challenges were different from those of today.

The borderland back then was a law unto itself – literally, with its own system of law and administration both sides of the border – designed to deal with a brutal population of “border reivers”, meaning raiders, whose way of life revolved around theft and violence.

The reivers, who were both Scottish and English, operated as far south as the Tees and raided almost as far north as Edinburgh.

I think we caught the first ripples of the waves of anti-politics, which have grown since then”

Back then, the complaint from English borderers was that they did not have the protection of their king against the Scots – and so they formed a common way of life with their cross-border neighbours.

Today the social links across the border endure and the gripe from many in the region is that the Westminster government does not give it the support and investment it needs to compete with Scotland, or with other parts of England.

Craig Johnston, who shares his surname with one of the great reiver families, is English but campaigning for a “yes” vote in Scotland.

He lives in Carlisle, the closest city to the border, where he used to be mayor and is now regional organiser for the RMT transport union for northern England and Scotland.

“Scotland has better arrangements for transport, student tuition fees and an altogether better agenda,” he said.

He hopes independence in Scotland will energise debate about greater regional autonomy in England.

He cited underinvestment in infrastructure and the scrapping of the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), which were used to help economic development, as ways in which northern England has not been well served by government.

Scotland, meanwhile, already has a stronger set of institutions and could be further empowered by independence, Mr Johnston said.

“What we need is one regional government across the North, including the North East, North West, Yorkshire and maybe areas like Cheshire,” he said.

But the North East was offered a regional assembly 10 years ago and rejected it in a referendum.

Prof John Tomaney led the campaign for a yes vote in 2004.

He said: “One of the most compelling arguments made against the regional assembly was that it was going to produce more politicians.

“I think we caught the first ripples of the waves of anti-politics, which have grown since then.”

In contrast, he said politics was “alive around the referendum” in Scotland.

An institution recently set up to give the North East a stronger voice is the North East Combined Authority, a coalition of councils that can bid for government investment in transport and development projects.

Its leader, Simon Henig, who is in favour of the union, said: “In Scotland, because they have the Scottish Parliament, there are bodies there arguing for more powers.”

But he said there was no public appetite for more politicians in England

That’s why I think the current arrangement around a combined authority is the best way forward, because it uses the existing resources to make those same arguments,” he said.

George Beveridge, a Scot on the English side of the border, chairing the Cumbrian Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), agreed it was better to seek more powers for existing institutions

The current attempts to give the North a greater voice are too fragmented

But he said he worried further powers for Scotland in the event of independence, or greater devolution following a no vote, would put northern England at a disadvantage.

He said lowering corporation tax, an expressed desire of the Scottish government, could cause a flight of businesses across the border

Mr Henig, meanwhile, expressed concerns about a reduction in Scottish Air Passenger Duty sucking business away from Newcastle Airport.

However, some in northern England are alive to the opportunities of working with an independent Scotland.

Last year the Association of North East Councils (ANEC) commissioned a Borderlands report, looking at the pitfalls and opportunities Scottish independence might present to the North East and Cumbria.

It concluded there were a number of areas in which northern England and Scotland could work together, based on common economic interests.

The report inspired a Borderlands summit of councils either side of the border in April, hosted by Scottish Borders Council

The Yes Scotland campaign has also suggested an independent Scotland might invest in high-speed rail links with the North. But despite the suggestions of cross-border co-operation, a coherent, region-wide strategy has not emerged.

Every day, Julien Lake cycles five scenic miles from his home in the village of Paxton to his workplace in Berwick, on a road which overlooks the River Tweed and the Northumberland countryside beyond it

His journey starts off in Scotland and ends up in England.

Most people in the village travel to Berwick routinely, whether it’s to the supermarket, the doctor’s, or the bank he said

It’s a real mix of folk here. Some people identify as English and some as Scottish and there is also a sense of people being borderers

Originally from just outside Sheffield, Mr Lake has lived in the borders for eight years and, because he lives a mile into Scotland, will get to vote in the referendum.

“It’s great here. It’s visually attractive, there’s low crime. Employment can be difficult, but I’m lucky in that regard,” said the 42-year old, who works for the Berwick Community Trust.

He said his mind was firmly made up over the question of independence

Maybe it makes sense if you live in Aberdeen or Inverness, where life is different, but here where everything’s so integrated, it just doesn’t make sense

The report that spawned the Borderlands summit had a broad, strategic scope, consulting with people from Teesside to Edinburgh.

But the summit itself included only councils adjacent or in close proximity to the border, suggesting a narrowing of the initiative.

Meanwhile the formation of the North East Combined Authority and Newcastle’s recent collaboration with cities in Yorkshire, Manchester and Merseyside over transport represent separate attempts from parts of the region to make their voice heard in Westminster

Mr Johnston said The current attempts to give the North a greater voice are too fragmented. I don’t think they’re doing it anywhere near fast enough

If the North East and Cumbria do find a strategy to improve their political and economic clout, the question is whether they focus on getting more powers and investment from Westminster, or, like their borderer ancestors, they gravitate towards a potentially empowered northern neighbour