Monday 31st December 2012
Embargoed until 00.01hrs, Tuesday 1 January 2013
In 2013 the true scale of the unfairness of David Cameron and George Osborne’s decisions will be exposed
Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, commenting on tax and benefit changes due to take effect in 2013, said:
“We ended 2012 with the failure of the Tory-led Government’s economic plan on both growth and the deficit and the news that working families are being forced to pay the price. And in 2013 the true scale of the unfairness of David Cameron and George Osborne’s decisions will be exposed for all to see.
“While millionaires will get a huge tax cut this year, striving working families on modest incomes will see their tax credits cut, middle income families will lose child benefit and pensioners will be hit by the granny tax.
“In a year when our economy needs to be kick-started and millions of striving families will continue to see their incomes squeezed the Tory-led government is sticking with the same failing policies and standing up for the wrong people.
“Millions of working families will be worse off overall under this government, even with the changes to the personal allowance, as cuts to tax credits and child benefit bite on top of the cost of higher VAT. Yet 8,000 millionaires will get an average tax cut of over £107,000 in April.
“There is nothing fair about making striving working families pay the price for this government’s economic failure, while George Osborne gives a £3 billion tax cut to the richest earners in the country.
“The Tories can no longer claim we are all in this together and throughout 2013 Labour will highlight the major economic and political mistake they have made.”
1. Details of all the tax and benefit changes for 2013 can be found below:
• 7 January 2013: Child benefit changes for parents earning over £50,000 come into effect. The changes will mean that a one earner family on £50,000 will see their child benefit cut, while some two earner families on as much as £100,000 could keep all their child benefit.
• 1 April 2013: Council Tax Benefit replaced by localised support for Council Tax and budget reduced by 10 per cent.
• 1 April 2013: Changes to housing benefit will mean that people living in under-occupied housed will have to move to somewhere smaller or make up the difference in rent. Housing benefit will be cut by 14 per cent if one bedroom is under-occupied and by 25 per cent if two or more bedrooms are under-occupied.
• 1 April 2013: Local Housing Allowance will be uprated by CPI.
• 6 April 2013: 50p additional rate of income tax cut to 45p on incomes over £150,000 – meaning that 8,000 people earning £1 million or more will receive an average tax cut of £107,500.
• 6 April 2013: Working age benefits and tax credits increased by 1 per cent – in other words cut in real terms. According to the Resolution Foundation, more than 6 in 10 households affected by the 1 per cent uprating decision are in work. (Resolution Foundation, Analysis of the 2012 Autumn Statement, December 2012,http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/media/media/downloads/Resolution_Foundation_AS_Reaction.pdf)
• 6 April 2013: Cap on income tax reliefs claimed by individuals will come into effect.
• 6 April 2013: Personal Allowance for those aged under 65 will be set at £9,440.
• 6 April 2013: The higher rate threshold will fall to £41,450
• 6 April 2013: The ‘Granny Tax’ takes effect.
• 6 April 2013: Child benefit frozen for third year.
• 8 April 2013: Personal Independence Payment will replace DLA for new claims in Merseyside, North West England, Cumbria, Cheshire and North East England. During this period new claimants in all other parts of the country will continue to claim Disability Living Allowance as now.
• 15 April 2013: Household benefit cap begins to come into effect, starting in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey.
• April 2013: Pathfinder projects for Universal Credit will begin in some local authorities.
• June 2013: New claims for Personal Independence Payment will be taken from all parts of the country.
Monday, 31 December 2012
Thursday, 27 December 2012
27 December 2012
for Strategic Studies (ECSS) Eritrean Center
These past days Stratfor, a rather prestigious global intelligence journal based in
Texas, has circulated a report entitled “ :
Another Venue for the Iranian-Israeli Rivalry.” The uncharacteristic
shallowness and obvious intent of the ‘report’ does not elicit any serious rebuttal.
Yet, we found it appropriate to respond to it given the tsunami-scale
reproduction that it has generated. Eritrea
In less than 48 hours since this piece was posted in Stratfor website on December 11, 2012 at 11:15 GMT, the story was picked up (as a quick search by the title yielded some 152,000 and another hour or so later 269,000 results), from sites that range from blogs to established news papers.
Some of the sites even gave the story a life of its own. For instance, the UPI.com, which boasts “over 100 years of journalistic excellence,” picked up the story as a special report (Dec. 11, 2012 at 1:52) under the title this piece is full of quotes from the original piece but failed to quote the source.
The Eritrean Center for Strategic Studies (ECSS) in its review of the ‘report’ found several areas of concern, beginning with the intention, assemblage, and not to mention its unfounded accusations, passing remarks and unsubstantiated conclusions.
Let us first focus on the easily verifiable facts:
enjoys normative diplomatic ties with . This is nothing
extraordinary; neither is the relationship particularly close or special.
Indeed, it is not different, by any measurable yardstick, from the warm
diplomatic ties that Iran Eritrea
enjoys with all other countries in the Middle East.
Eritrea has in fact resident
embassies in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the Emirates, Qatar
and Kuwait while it is
by a non-resident Ambassador. Furthermore, Iran Iran
has much deeper economic ties and resident embassies (which is not the case in Eritrea) with all other countries in the Horn of
Africa; including Ethiopia, Djibouti and the . True, Sudan Eritrea had signed a loan agreement worth 25
million Euros with Iran in
April 2009, during the visit of President Isaias to . But this amount is much smaller than
Iranian development assistance or investments in Tehran Ethiopia
or the .
Furthermore, according to Eritrean Government sources, the loan, which was
essentially a commercial credit to buy construction materials and other
commodities from Iran, was not executed in time due to various administrative
delays and was dropped altogether later. Sudan
also enjoys diplomatic ties with . Again this is not peculiar
or extraordinary in any sense of the word although both Israel Israel and have resident ambassadors
in each other’s capital. Investment and trade ties between the two countries
are not that significant. Eritrea
has never granted Iran or , or both
of them as it is ridiculously maintained by Stratfor, military bases or
outposts in its inland territories or waterways and islands. And yet, for
reasons better known to its authors, these wild stories have been circulating
intermittently for some years now. A couple of years ago, for instance, the
London-based Sunday Times quoted obscure Israeli Security officials to
ascertain, in a rather long article: “Israel is said to have two Eritrean
bases, one a ‘listening post’ for signals intelligence , the other a supply
base for its German-built submarines while … Iran has a naval base in the
Eritrean port of Assab”. The Israeli Prime Minister subsequently lamented
Iran’s “increasing influence” in Eritrea in an interview with Fox News shortly
afterwards although he reportedly retracted his statement later in an
apologetic official communication to the Government of Eritrea. Israel
can be thought of
simultaneously offering military bases and host two mortal enemies in adjacent
patches of its territory is really mind boggling. One might argue that in
abstract legal terms, Eritrea
has, as a sovereign state, every prerogative and right to enter into military
and economic alliances with any country of its choice and in accordance with
the exigencies of its national interests. The signing of bilateral or
multilateral pacts and alliances is indeed a matter of Eritrea ’s
sovereign political choices. Various publications and official statements
nonetheless confirm that the Government of Eritrea does not subscribe to the
notion of providing military bases to major international or regional powers.
The public statement issued by Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry in response to the
Sunday Times article in fact emphasizes that “Eritrea’s sovereign choice has
always been, and remains, that of aversion to dependency, polarized alliances
and the suzerainty” of a big brother. In any case, Eritrea would not be so foolhardy,
reckless or myopic to mortgage its land and territory as a battleground for two
avowed enemies in exchange for possible short-term gains. Eritrea
In the event, why Stratfor ignored, without serious research or validation, these well known facts and chose to recycle the mendacious innuendos that are already available in the market remains a mystery. Straftor did not, in fact, bring new information or fresh and credible evidence to what it evidently considered was a “sensational scoop”. And on the basis of this false presumption, it proceeded to dissect the “plausible explanations of motive and environmental constraints” that must have impelled the Government of Eritrea to play with fire! As we shall briefly demonstrate below, these presumptions are even more tenuous and flawed.
Straftor’s ‘analysis’ is anchored on “two key geopolitical constraints and multiple security concerns,” that, in its view, afflict
and that it has to grapple with as the new kid-in-the-block. One of these is
described, in very hyperbolic terms, as “the existential threat of invasion
from Eritrea .”
Stratfor does not analyze and tell us, in the first place, why and how a border
war, that is fully resolved now to all legal purposes and intents, morphs into
an “existential and permanent threat of invasion”. Surely, both countries can
co-exist and cultivate mutually beneficial ties of friendship, cooperation and
alliance if both countries subscribe to, and abide by, normative principles of
international law. Past and current Ethiopian regimes may not as yet be
beholden to these objectives although the new Government in Addis Abeba is
going out of its way “to talk the language of peace”. However this plays out in
reality in the months ahead, the border problem between Ethiopia Eritrea and does not, objectively,
fall into the category of “existential conflicts”. Ethiopia
But there may be external forces that are wedded to, and are prodding, Ethiopian internal agendas that could trigger another round of conflict and war. Stratfor’s report may be alluding to the centrality of the external dimension when it confirms
US endorsement of ’s past practices and
perhaps inchoate agendas. Although Stratfor chose to gloss over the issue, Ethiopia Ethiopia could not have managed to violate
fundamental pillars of international law to occupy sovereign Eritrean
territories with impunity without overarching political and diplomatic support
and protection. But it is instructive to note that the report tacitly
legitimizes US Ethiopia’s
belligerent ambitions when it cryptically amplifies Ethiopia’s
drawbacks as “the largest landlocked country in Africa.”
This is the repackaging of the old ‘head-and-hectare-mentality’, which
justified that Eritrea, with small territory and population, should be
sacrificed at the altar of big regional [Ethiopia] and international [mainly
US] interests. This old strategic thinking has been repackaged to justify the
possibility of another Ethiopian attempt of re-invading . Eritrea
Stratfor’s gross anti-Eritrean bias is further demonstrated when the report gullibly parrots the false narrative that “
lost the war”. What criteria did Stratfor employ to reach such a conclusion?
There are much deeper issues that the ‘report’ needs to dig out regarding the
conduct of the Eritrea-Ethiopia war if it really wishes to form an informed
opinion. What transpired during those fateful three Ethiopian offensives is now
history. However, just to highlight the sloppiness of the report: while
categorically stating that “ Eritrea Eritrea
had lost the war”, it simultaneously asserts, in the next sentence, that
“repelled the Ethiopians and safeguarded its independence.” Still, it wrongly
insinuates the death toll of 70,000 as the casualties suffered by Eritrea . Eritrea ’s
losses in the war were less than a third of this figure even if this remains
horrendously high in terms of its population size. Eritrea ’s losses exceeded 70,000
by its own official admissions. But the central issue at stake is not the
arithmetic of each country’s human losses. War cannot be justified under any
conditions; there is no acceptable threshold as far as human losses in either
country is concerned and the unnecessary death of even a single person cannot
be condoned. Ethiopia
Stratfor further drifts into what it considers geopolitical chess games to casually assert: “
Eritrea has turned to the Middle
East for alliances and assistance.” And without factual evidences
or solid premises, it simply tells us that Eritrea
has become a close ally of Iran,
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt
and then concludes that “ Eritrea
and its waters have become another venue for Iran
rivalry”. As we intimated before, these assertions are not substantiated by
facts and figures that illustrate the depth of these “close” ties. They are not
put in regional perspective to gauge whether Israel Eritrea’s
ties with these countries are on a higher plane than those of the Sudan, Ethiopia
There is no investigation to find out whether these “close ties” begun after
the war between Djibouti Eritrea and or
whether they predate them and have thus no correlation with the antagonistic
relationships that obtain today between the two neighboring countries. Ethiopia
In as far as
is concerned, the report alleges that Eritrea
had struck a deal with
“to maintain a military presence in Assab – officially to protect the
state-owned, renovated, Soviet-era oil refiner there.” Stratfor does not
provide us with the plausible evidence that such an agreement ever took place.
As described before, the two countries did sign a loan commercial agreement in
April 2009 and this document is in the public domain. Secondly, the Assab
refinery, which was built by the Iran Soviet Union
in 1968 has not been renovated in the last twenty years and it has not been
functional for almost ten years now. Third, what would be the rationale for to seek
Iranian military presence in order to protect a small, outdated, oil refinery? Eritrea
How Stratfor can publish such a flawed and silly report without checking its facts is really surprising. The more so as the journal has earned a well-deserved reputation for insightful and original analysis of issues and events of critical geopolitical importance. Although we would not like to speculate without any substantial information and thus fall in the same trap, we would nonetheless hope that it has not been lured by tabloid considerations of publishing any “sensational story” for commercial gains. We also hope that it has not served, unwittingly, as a credible platform and conduit for some intelligence agencies that may have an interest in planting a fabricated story in pursuit of their sinister objectives against
Whatever the case, there are no military bases of Eritrea Iran
and/or Israel in .
Indeed, at this age of preponderant cyberspace technology, the locations and
details of these bases would have long been publicly available with all the
required resolutions and precisions unless, are mere phantoms that exist in the
crooked minds of the detractors and arch-enemies of Eritrea . These can not, after all,
matters of sheer speculation, sinister disinformation or seemingly informed
Wednesday, 26 December 2012
President Museveni addressing the Parliament on the Oil Debate
President Museveni spoke before the Parliament addressing the hot issue of Uganda's energy and resources, specifically oil and electricity. In this speech, he explains how these resources should be harnessed in the most efficient manner which serves Uganda as a nation. He also delves into how other nations have also handled this issue and how we should learn from their experience.