Week 20 of 2023 – YPF Around the Globe (English)

Timeframe: May 14 to May 21, 2023

Contributors: Farhan Uddin Ahmed, GM Sifat Iqbal, and Safin Mahmood

To read Bangla, click here.

1. Politics

Cambodia poll body disqualifies sole opposition party from July election

Cambodia’s election commission on Monday disqualified the sole opposition Candlelight Party from contesting elections in July over its failure to submit proper registration documents.

Candlelight’s disqualification means the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) looks set to run virtually unopposed. Just over a year old, Candlelight is a reincarnation of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), a popular opposition that the Supreme Court disbanded in 2017 ahead of an election that was swept by CPP.

Some activists and diplomats have warned against what they call long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen’s actions to suppress opponents, fearing they could undermine the democratic process in the Southeast Asian country. Hun Sen has previously said the CPP will dominate politics for up to 100 years.

Source: Reuters

Ecuador’s President Dismisses Legislature, Turmoil Ensues

The president of Ecuador dismissed the legislature Wednesday in a move that made first use of the Ecuador presidency’s nuclear option under the constitution in conflicts with the legislative branch. asso had been locked in a showdown with legislators who wanted to impeach him for not stopping a deal between the state-owned oil transport company and a private tanker company, accusations he denies.

Lasso can now govern for up to six months by decree under the oversight of Ecuador’s Constitutional Court. The National Electoral Council now has seven days to call presidential and legislative elections, which must be held within 90 days. Those elected will finish the terms of Lasso and the lawmakers he ousted, which had been set to end in May 2025. Lasso can choose to run in the election.

In neighboring Peru, conflicts between the opposition-led legislature and the president also led to attempts to oust each other last year. Then-President Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve Congress and head off his own impeachment in December. Lawmakers quickly voted him out of power and law enforcement arrested him, which resulted in months of deadly protests carried out for the most part by Indigenous peoples and peasants.

Source: AP News

2. Economics & Business

Will $3 billion solve Ghana’s economic crisis?

Ghana, one of the world’s biggest producers of both gold and cocoa, is suffering its worst economic crisis in a generation, with the price of goods rising at an average of 41% over the past year.

It has just signed a new bailout programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) worth $3bn (£2.4bn) over three years to help ease the problems and is expected to receive the first tranche of $600m soon, but how much difference will that make?

Source: BBC

Italian Government’s Flat Tax Plan Faces Skepticism from Central Bank

The feasibility of the Italian government’s ambitious proposal to implement a single income tax band and reduce the tax burden has come under scrutiny, as Italy’s central bank warns of potential obstacles stemming from fiscal restraints and the substantial expenditure on the country’s comprehensive welfare system.

Nationalist Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni greenlit a bill in March, which initially aimed to reduce the current four income tax bands to three and ultimately introduce a “flat tax” model by the time national elections roll around in 2027.

However, opposition parties and trade unions have voiced concerns, arguing that the plan would primarily benefit the wealthy.

Bank of Italy tax expert Giacomo Ricotti conveyed his doubts to lawmakers, stating, “The model envisaged by the bill – a single-rate system together with a reduction in the tax burden – may prove unrealistic for a country with an extensive welfare system, especially in light of public finance constraints.”

The right-wing administration has pledged to maintain a downward trajectory for the budget deficit, as new budget regulations being debated at the European Union level intensify pressure on Rome to adopt a cautious approach to state finances.

Italy’s public social spending, which amounted to approximately 30% of the gross domestic product in 2022, stands as the second highest among members of the 38-nation Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), surpassed only by France.

During his address to parliament, Ricotti highlighted that the single-rate model is prevalent in countries categorized as developing economies by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), citing Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Hungary, among others.

Acknowledging that a flat tax system tends to exacerbate income inequalities, Ricotti mentioned that some countries, including Estonia and Slovakia, have introduced accompanying tax breaks aimed at assisting individuals with lower incomes.

He further added, “The redistributive effects (of a single-band model) will have to be carefully assessed.”

It is worth noting that the Bank of Italy has previously expressed criticism of government policies under Meloni’s administration. In December, the bank cautioned that a plan to relax regulatory restrictions on cash usage could potentially fuel the informal economy. Consequently, Meloni withdrew the proposal after it faced opposition in Brussels.

Source: Reuters

Tesla proposes new EV plant in India for domestic sales, exports

Tesla Inc has proposed setting up a factory in India to build electric cars for domestic sale and export, the carmaker told government officials on Wednesday. Senior Tesla executives are in India this week to meet the government to discuss local sourcing of parts and other issues.

The electric carmaker’s renewed interest in India comes nearly a year after it put on hold plans to sell cars in the country after failing to secure lower import taxes, which its CEO Elon Musk said are among the highest in the world.

Local sourcing aligns with prime minister Narendra Modi’s pitch to attract manufacturers with his “Make in India” campaign, especially as companies look to diversify their supply chains beyond China.

Source: Economic Times

3. Science & Technology

Apple Imposes Restrictions on Employee Access to OpenAI’s ChatGPT

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) has restricted the use of ChatGPT and other external artificial intelligence tools for its employees as Apple develops similar technology, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing a document and sources.

Apple is concerned about the leak of confidential data by employees who use the AI programs and has also advised its employees not to use Microsoft-owned <MSFT.O> GitHub’s Copilot, used to automate the writing of software code, the report said.

Last month, OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, said it had introduced an “incognito mode” for ChatGPT that does not save users’ conversation history or use it to improve its artificial intelligence.

Scrutiny has been growing over how ChatGPT and other chatbots it inspired manage hundreds of millions of users’ data, commonly used to improve, or “train,” AI.

Earlier Thursday, OpenAI introduced the ChatGPT app for Apple’s iOS in the United States.

Apple, OpenAI and Microsoft did not respond to Reuters request for comment.

Source: Reuters

4. Environment

Cyclone Mocha kills dozens in Myanmar

The powerful cyclone that hit Myanmar on Sunday has killed at least 40 people, locals have told the BBC, and the toll may rise further.

Cyclone Mocha was one of the strongest storms to make landfall in the region this century, packing winds of about 209km/h (130mph).

Most confirmed deaths are in Rakhine state, in central Myanmar, others in Sagaing and Magway regions.

The military have announced 21 deaths nationwide.

Unconfirmed reports put the death toll much higher, especially in camps where the internally displaced Rohingya minority live. It is thought those casualties are not being counted by the military junta which seized power in a 2021 coup.

Source: BBC

Disclaimer: The information provided here is obtained solely from the aforementioned third parties. Youth Policy Forum (YPF) is not responsible for any misinformation or misrepresentation.

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