The Smart Investor

The stock market can seem like an amorphous cloud. With so many options, how will you know where to put your money? Maybe you’re thinking it might be easier to simply tuck that money away for a rainy day. But don’t worry, and don’t hide your money! The stock market can yield great dividends for risky and cautious investors alike. If you’re wondering where to begin, here are a few tips to get you started as an investor.

Find What You Stand For

An investment is essentially your financial support of an individual, company, or cause. Some investments that yield great dividends might not be the best for the world. That may or may not matter to you as an investor, but it is nevertheless important to consider before you can take the next steps. Depending on how risky you are willing to get, startups can be a good investment to reflect your beliefs–if you have done your homework. Knowing why a company will grow is imperative to making a smart investment. If your beliefs align with the company’s, you can feel even better about giving them your money.

Do Your Research

Whether you’re investing a little or a lot, it’s important to do your research. There are many ways online to learn about the investments that interest you. For example, with a risky investment like medical marijuana, you could spend some time reading up on marijuana stocks to track how the stock is doing. Sites like this will give you the scoop on your investment as it stands in politics, and more. For a less straightforward stock like Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, you may want to read blockchain news articles to become informed on the basics of the market. It’s also a great place to go if you have no idea what the cryptocurrency hype is about but want to get in on the investment. An informed investment decision can make all the difference between huge dividends and a huge bust.

Ask for Help

There is nothing wrong with seeking the advice of a financial planner. These professionals are trained to have a keen eye on the economy, and can help you plan your financial future based on your risk-level preferences. In a way, hiring a CFP is like an investment in itself. Their advice will lead you to the best fit for you. This will make your life as an investor less stressful, and hopefully more prosperous–with more dollars going into your bank than going out.

Take the Leap

Plenty of people wait around for the economy to “get better” in order to invest.The fact is we live in a society where the economy will always be in flux. No matter how it looks today, it will look much different in ten and even twenty years. As an investor, you can feel confident walking in with a long-term mindset. You know your dividends will be on their way, as investing is a game of longevity. There is no such thing as quick money, but with these tools you could make big money in the long run.

 

Turmoil at the World Bank

The World Bank’s central mission, when it was established in 1944, was to reduce global poverty and ensure that global development was environmentally-sound and socially-inclusive. However, since then, the Bank has only served as an extension of US foreign policy and commercial interests!

NEW YORK – The world is at a crossroads. Either the global community will join together to fight poverty, resource depletion, and climate change, or it will face a generation of resource wars, political instability, and environmental ruin.

The World Bank, if properly led, can play a key role in averting these threats and the risks that they imply. The global stakes are thus very high this spring as the Bank’s 187 member countries choose a new president to succeed Robert Zoellick, whose term ends in July 2012.

The World Bank was established in 1944 to promote economic development, and virtually every country is now a member. Its central mission is to reduce global poverty and ensure that global development is environmentally sound and socially inclusive. Achieving these goals would not only improve the lives of billions of people, but would also forestall violent conflicts that are stoked by poverty, famine, and struggles over scarce resources.

American officials have traditionally viewed the World Bank as an extension of United States foreign policy and commercial interests. With the Bank just two blocks away from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, it has been all too easy for the US to dominate the institution. Now many members, including Brazil, China, India, and several African countries, are raising their voices in support of more collegial leadership and an improved strategy that works for all.

From the Bank’s establishment until today, the unwritten rule has been that the US Government simply designates each new president. All 11 have been Americans… And not a single one has been an expert in economic development, the Bank’s core responsibility, or had a career in fighting poverty or promoting environmental sustainability!

Instead, the US has selected Wall Street bankers and politicians, presumably to ensure that the Bank’s policies are suitably friendly to US commercial and political interests.

Yet, the policy is backfiring on the US and badly hurting the world. Because of a long-standing lack of strategic expertise at the top, the Bank has lacked a clear direction. Many projects have catered to US corporate interests rather than to sustainable development. The Bank has cut a lot of ribbons on development projects, but has solved far too few global problems.

For too long, the Bank’s leadership has imposed US concepts that are often utterly inappropriate for the poorest countries and their poorest people. For example, the Bank completely fumbled the exploding pandemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria during the 1990s, failing to get help to where it was needed to curb these outbreaks and save millions of lives.

Even worse, the Bank advocated user fees and “cost recovery” for health services, thereby putting life-saving health care beyond the reach of the poorest of the poor – precisely those most in need of it. In 2000, at the Durban AIDS Summit, I recommended a new “Global Fund” to fight these diseases, precisely on the grounds that the World Bank was not doing its job. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria emerged, and has since saved millions of lives, with malaria deaths in Africa alone falling by at least 30 per cent.

The Bank similarly missed crucial opportunities to support smallholder subsistence farmers and to promote integrated rural development more generally in impoverished rural communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

For around 20 years — roughly from 1985 to 2005 — the Bank resisted the well-proven use of targeted support for small landholders to enable impoverished subsistence farmers to improve yields and break out of poverty. More recently, the Bank has increased its support for smallholders, but there is still far more that it can and should do.

The Bank’s staff is highly professional, and would accomplish much more if freed from the dominance of narrow US interests and viewpoints. The Bank has the potential to be a catalyst of progress in key areas that will shape the world’s future.

Its priorities should include agricultural productivity; mobilization of information technologies for sustainable development; deployment of low-carbon energy systems; and quality education for all, with greater reliance on new forms of communication to reach hundreds of millions of under-served students.

The Bank’s activities currently touch on all of these areas, but it fails to lead effectively on any of them. Despite the excellence of its staff, the Bank has not been strategic or agile enough to be an effective agent of change. Getting the Bank’s role right will be hard work, requiring expertise at the top.

Most importantly, the Bank’s new president should have first-hand professional experience regarding the range of pressing development challenges. The world should not accept the status quo.

A World Bank leader who once again comes from Wall Street or from US politics would be a heavy blow for a planet in need of creative solutions to complex development challenges. The Bank needs an accomplished professional who is ready to tackle the great challenges of sustainable development from day one. [Project-Syndicate-2012].

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jeffrey D. Sachs is a Professor of Economics and the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also a Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, and the founder and co-President of the Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty and hunger.

Common Market Protocol Goes Into Effect in East Africa

ARUSHA – Implementation of the East African Community (EAC) Common Market Protocol has been made easier with the launching of the third version of the Microsoft 2010 Kiswahili local language package, an official of the EAC has said.

“Although the Common Market Protocol provides for the free movement of capital, goods, services, and has led to increased regional trade but our small and medium scale traders still experience the problem of communicating in Swahili,” said the EAC Secretary-General, Dr. Richard Sezibera.

“Swahili is now the minimum medium of communication and, currently, the lingua franca of the Community. Therefore, the launching of the updated version of the Microsoft 2010 ki-Swahili local language package which can be downloaded on <www.microsoft.com/language> is timely at the time when our traders needed most in order to effectively communicate on a regional basis,” Sezibera said at the launching of the product at Arusha in Tanzania in February.

The version, with over 300,000 words translated into Swahili, is part of the project that has so far cost the company $2m over the last five years. It has been developed as ‘Windows’ and ‘Office’ products in 15 written and spoken languages in Africa: Afrikaans, Amharic, Arabic, English, French, Hausa, Igbo, ki-Swahili, and Portuguese among others.

Sezibera said use of information ICT in the EAC has contributed 40 per cent of the region’s economic growth.

“But ICT is not working in a abstract, and can only be useful to people if it is translated into local languages,” he said at the launching ceremony.

The translated versions in ki-Swahili would lead to improvement in public service delivery, development of the private sector, promote good governance and help in the fight against poverty.

The next phase of the regional economic development will have to depend on the small and medium scale firms (SMEs).

The Microsoft regional education manager, Dr. Mark Matunga, said the technology will play a major role in the maintenance of linguistic diversity in the region.

“All too often, small traders are excluded from information technology skills and the accompanying job and trading opportunities for lack of technology in their local languages, providing a native language is critical to helping people access the tools needed to create better economic opportunities,” he explained. [EABW].

Fish Sausage is the Latest Culinary Trend

KAMPALA – Having nursed the dream of making a breakthrough in the business world by bringing onto the market a new product, Ms. Lovin Kobusingye finally had her prayers answered when she introduced fish sausages onto the Ugandan market!

For five years, Kobusingye thought of introducing a fresher product that would get instant attention on the Ugandan market. But financial power always stood in the way.

Starting the business required about Ush58 million ($25,000), an amount that was not readily available and just like any other Small or Medium Enterprise (SME), access to credit was difficult.

Kobusingye, who started off by marketing fish and fish fillets and roast fish sold her idea to the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) who supported her to kick start her business and on February 1, 2012, fish sausages, the first of their kind in the country were produced in Uganda.
UIRI provided free consultancy services and despite her having Ushs20 million, the organization provided additional funds to start off the business.

Speaking in an exclusive interview, Kobusingye said many Ugandans had come to appreciate the fish sausages.

“This being a new product on the market, many customers are inquisitive and this has made me give out many packs as samples. Otherwise, business is good and those who have tasted it have appreciated it”, Kobusingye says.

She needs half a tonne of fish per week to make one tonne of fish sausages. As a result of this, Kobusingye has an arrangement with various fish farmers who supply on a weekly basis.

She is in the process of identifying large fish farmers with whom she hopes to sign contracts to sustain supply.

Beef and pork sausages are already available on the Ugandan market, and cost approximately Ush8,000 ($3.5) a kilo. The fish sausages sell for Ush12,000 ($5.2). According to Kobusingye, this is because of the high cost of the fish.

“A kilogramme of the fish freshly harvested from the ponds cost Ush5,000 ($2.2) and these have the bones and all the parts that will later on be chopped off. To make the sausages, we need bone free fish and by the time we make the sausages, so many fish have been used,” she said.

Kobusingye is not in a hurry to explore the regional markets as there is ready demand from South Sudan, Kenya among other countries.

“At present, my aim is to satisfy the local market and when we have fully exploited the potential here (Uganda), then we shall think of tapping into the region,” she added.

Her company will provide fish farmers with ready market for their produce because of the demand.

The Uganda fish industry is currently facing uncertainty following the dwindling of fish catches.

The National Investment Policy on Aquaculture Parks in Uganda, though still in its draft form, seeks to increase the value of aquaculture production from the current 90,000 tonnes valued at $180 million annually to at least 300,000 tonnes by 2016.

It is innovations like Kobusingye’s which will go a long way in encouraging the development of fish farming as fish in Uganda has of late become a delicacy rather than a cheaper option to meat because the price of fish is higher than the price of meat.

Will South Africa Nationalize its Mining Industry?

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN – A study submitted to South Africa’s ruling ANC to reform its vital mining sector proposes a 50 per cent tax on profits and rejects nationalisation as an “unmitigated disaster” for Africa’s largest economy.

Although it delivers a hammer blow to calls for nationalisation by radical elements in the African National Congress (ANC), mining houses will be wary of the tax proposals as they grapple with steeply rising labour, power and safety costs in the world’s largest platinum producer.

South Africa has a poor track record of translating its vast mineral wealth into broader prosperity and the government is under pressure to create badly-needed jobs in the industry without scaring off the investment it needs.

“Under the current fiscal regime our nation is clearly not getting a fair share of the resource rents generated from its mineral assets,” an official summary of the 600-page study obtained by Reuters said.

“A Resource Rent Tax (RRT) of 50 per cent must be imposed on all mining. It will trigger after a normal return on investments has been achieved, thus not impacting on marginal or low grade deposits.”

The study defines a resource rent as “the difference between the price at which a resource can be sold and its extraction costs” – in other words, profit.

As expected, the study, which was compiled after research trips to 13 countries ranging from Chile to Australia to Venezuela, flatly rejects nationalisation, mainly on cost grounds.

It put a R1-trillion price tag – almost as much as South Africa’s annual budget – on acquiring all listed and non-listed mining companies in the country.

An asset grab without compensation against an industry that accounts for 6-8 percent of South African GDP would be even worse, the report concludes.

“Nationalisation without compensation … would result in a near collapse of foreign investment and access to finance. This route would clearly be an unmitigated economic disaster for our country and our people,” it says.

The document says new taxes raised, which it estimated at R40-billion at current prices, should be ploughed into a sovereign wealth fund that could be used to temper appreciation of the rand during commodity booms.

Once the resource rent tax is imposed, mineral royalty rates should be cut to one percent from the current sliding scale system, which caps royalties at seven per cent.

Tax havens
The study also proposes a clampdown on the use of tax havens by foreign mining investors – a practice that activists say bleeds capital from poor countries, especially those that rely heavily on mining.

“Many international mining companies invest in Africa via a subsidiary registered in a ‘tax haven’,” it says.

“To encourage direct investment from their primary listing country, we should introduce a mineral foreign shareholding withholding tax: if the foreign mining company is held in a ‘tax haven’, then rate should be 30 per cent and if not, the normal rate of ten per cent should apply,” it says.

The study deals a potentially fatal blow on the push for mine nationalisation, which had already lost political momentum due to ANC disciplinary charges against its biggest advocate, Youth League leader Julius Malema.

Malema was found guilty of sowing discord in the party by an internal tribunal in November and was sentenced to a five-year suspension

How Should Data be Paid For?

THE state-run fixed line telecommunications company Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL) has announced reductions in data tariffs. The once privatized company made the commercial decision in a bid to widen the chance for Tanzania to become an ICT hub in the region, accompanying the country’s socio-economic development. The announcement has been received differently by stakeholders, coming as it does at a time when the sector involves many operators, including Vodacom, tiGO, Airtel and Zantel. TTCL sources affirm that the cost per megabit per second would be halved, falling from US$900 to $450! “Should this be implemented, it would favour lower income earners failing to latch on to data use on account of high telecommunication charges. MEANWHILE, INTERNATIONAL REPORTS HAVE IT THAT IRREVOCABLE PAYMENT ORDERS THROUGH AN ATM CARD ARE TAKING A NEW SHAPE AT THE GLOBAL LEVEL. A REPORT BY THE UK DIRECTOR FOR ATM PAYMENTS, DAVID LEWIS, COVERS A SERIES OF PETITIONS RECEIVED FROM VARIOUS ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS COOPERATE BODIES AND NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION (NGO) ON THE INABILITY OF SOME GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, COMMERCIAL BANKS AND THE WORLD LOTTERY ORGANIZATION TO SETTLE THEIR CLIENTS’ CONTRACT DEBT, INHERITANCE AND WINNING PRIZES. As such there is authorized by the Debt Reconciliation Unit of WLO to investigate unnecessary delay on payment approved by the right authorities. FURTHER DETAILS HAVE IT THAT DURING THE COURSE OF INVESTIGATION, IT HAS BEEN DISCOVERED WITH DISMAY THAT THE PAYMENT WAS UNNECESSARILY DELAYED BY CORRUPT OFFICIALS AT THE BANK, TRYING TO DIVERT THE FUNDS INTO THEIR PERSONAL ACCOUNTS. AFTER AN EXTENSIVE CLOSE DOOR MEETING RECENTLY, IT WAS RESOLVED AND AGREED UPON THAT CLYDESDALE BANK PLC OF LONDON WOULD WORK EXTENSIVELY TO ENSURE THAT ALL CONTRACT PAYMENT, INHERITANCE AND LOTTERY WINNING PRIZES ARE SETTLED WITHOUT ANY HASSLE. FOR SECURITY REASONS, THE FUNDS WOULD BE PACKAGED IN FORM OF THE PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (PIN) ATM CARD THAT WOULD ENABLE ONLY THE OWNER TO HAVE DIRECT CONTROL OVER THE FUNDS. THE PURPOSE IS TO MONITOR THIS PAYMENT ONESELF TO AVOID THE HOPELESS SITUATION CREATED BY PREVIOUS BANK OFFICIALS. THE BANK REPORT SAYS AN IRREVOCABLE PAYMENT GUARANTEE HAS BEEN ISSUED BY THE WORLD BANK GROUP AND THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) ON ATM PAYMENT. “HOWEVER, WE ARE HAPPY TO INFORM YOU THAT BASED ON OUR RECOMMENDATIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS, COMPLETE INHERITANCE FUNDS HAVE BEEN CREDITED IN A CLIENT’S FAVOR THROUGH ATM CARD. SERVICE CHARGE ACCORDING TO OFFICIALS DEPENDS ON RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES. FOR EXAMPLE INDIA THE FEE IS 90 POUNDS TO THE EQUIVALENT OF 7,900.00 INDIA RUPEES. IN ACCORDANCE WITH EXISTING REGULATIONS NO DEDUCTION OR OTHER FEE WOULD BE DEMANDED. “THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA WOULD NOT HAVE ANY RIGHT TO STOP INTERNATIONAL ATM CARD USE,” THE REPORTS INDICATED.

Border Tariffs are not Good For Business

KAMPALA – Members of the business community engaged in cross-border trade within the East African Community countries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania are well-positioned to start enjoying smooth trade flows in earnest when the concept of a Single Customs Territory (SCT) becomes operational. Under that arrangement, the EAC member states will adopt a destination model of clearance of imports whereby the assessment and collection of tax revenues on such consignments will be done at the first point of entry. This allows free circulation of goods within the single EAC market, with variations here and there to accommodate exports from one partner state to another. In that regard, Customs administrations in destination states retain control over the assessment of taxes. Senior EAC officials say this will crystallize the gains of regional integration characterized by minimal internal border controls and more efficient institutional mechanisms for clearing goods out of Customs control. According to Stephen Magera, the Acting Commissioner of Customs with the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), the Single Customs Territory arrangements will lead to the removal of Customs checkpoints and weigh-bridges. For instance, “there will only be one checkpoint, at Maryakani, between Mombasa and Malaba; the others will be removed,” Magera told participants at a consultative meeting in Kampala recently. Stakeholders say that the Single Customs Territory initiative is a positive move, as it will help reduce transit time, as well as the cost of doing business. Commenting upon the matter, the secretary-general of the Uganda Freight Forwarders Association (UFFA), Jeniffer Mwijukye, said the business community would benefit immensely from the removal of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs). “I think it (SCT) is a good initiative. It is a positive step; it is what we in the business community have been longing for because other initiatives have failed! “In this initiative, we are looking at two very important elements as far as logistics are concerned: reduced time and, of course, reduced costs. We are looking at time because we know that if we pay taxes – especially for the compliant clients who go through ‘green’ their consignments will ultimately spend less than five days at the port; that is a positive,” Mwijukye enthused. Considering that the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) gives importers a nine-day grace storage period, then they should be able to clear their goods out of the port within that period – and without having to pay any storage charges. This, she explained, is bound to lead to reduced costs. Mwijukye added that “the cost normally associated with Customs bonds will also b reduced, as insurance charges will not be applied. Also, those bringing in goods to be warehoused will only need one insurance bond cover… This is different from the multiple covers we’ve been having. And, of course each bond you execute for the transit cargo has got an implication on the price!” The national chairman of the Uganda Clearing Industry & Forwarding Association (UCIFA), Kassim Omar, also heaps praises on the benefits expected from the Single Customs Territory arrangements. But he adds that success of the requisite processes dependent on active participation and cooperation of all stakeholders. “The Single Customs Territory is a noble initiative,” Omar says, adding that “it will help in the reduction of NTBs. However, government needs to put in place the necessary infrastructure; ICT systems need to be put in place to enable the different systems interface so that there is facilitation of trade. “The governments have to ensure that there is compatibility of the monetary processes as well. An aligned currency factor should also be considered so that there is total harmony,” he cautioned, adding that “the SCT is in one way forward on the regional integration agenda. I know there will be some job losses here and there; but change has to take place for the better.” Sarah Mwesigye, the Assistant Commissioner for Field Services at URA, revealed that the tax body was looking to commencing a pilot study on goods for warehousing then roll out the requisite process later. “Because we are trying to remove Customs verification at the border, we shall start with those very goods that have been causing congestion at the borders. The pilot study is only for warehousing purposes, and (duties on) imports not for warehousing will be paid for at the Malaba and Busia borders,” she clarified. IN A RELATED DEVELOPMENT, THE COMMISSIONERS-GENERAL OF UGANDA, RWANDA AND KENYA REVENUE AUTHORITIES MET IN KAMPALA EARLY THIS MONTHTO DRAW UP A ROAD MAP FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SINGLE CUSTOMS TERRITORY. During the deliberations, the Technical Committee said the Uganda and Rwanda Revenue Authorities will have to establish offices at the port of Mombasa by the end of August, while the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) will use its local offices in Uganda and Rwanda to receive payment for port charges. During the Council of Ministers meeting that was attended by the Finance ministers of Rwanda and Uganda, the commissioners-general were tasked to remodel the report and rectify issues especially on cargo tracking and IT. Kenya Revenue Authority’s commissioner-general was, however, not able to attend the meetings following the fire that gutted the Jommo Kenyatta International Airport’s Arrivals section. According to Sarah Banage, the URA Assistant Commissioner, Public & Corporate Affairs, the meeting – which was the third leg of the commissioners-general meeting on the Single Customs Territory programme, provided a report that was presented to the Council of Ministers for action. Summing up on the Single Customs Territory concept, Banage said “this means that, for the purposes of customs clearance of goods, we become one region. We clear goods at the port of entry (say, Mombasa) where the taxes are paid and thereafter there are no road blocks all through to the country of destination…”