Expat pension plan under study
Gulf News Report Published: March 27, 2008, 00:18
Abu Dhabi: Expatriates are likely to be brought under the national pension scheme, according to a government plan.
A proposed “Pension Savings” draft law is being studied by the General Authority for Pensions and Social Insurance (GAPSI), and aims to include all expatriates working in the public and private sectors, a senior official said yesterday.
At present, pensions in the private sector are provided through an end-of-service payment (gratuity) relative to the employee’s length of service calculated on the basis of basic salary.
“The law is still being studied, and we expect the studies to conclude by the end of April, and that will be followed by receiving the necessary initial approvals,” Abdul Rahman Al Baqer, GAPSI’s deputy director, told Gulf News.
Raft of proposals
“The proposal covers all expats in the country’s public or private sectors, and I want to make it clear that this endeavour was not commissioned or directed by the government … it comes as an initiative from the authority itself according to the outline set by the leadership, within the framework of our strategy to include all those working in the UAE in the pensions scheme,” Al Baqer said.
The study includes various pension proposals and mechanisms to implement it. “We are not consulting businessmen or companies over the proposed legislation,” Al Baqer said.
As per the proposed legislation, the pension amount will be collected by an entity other than the companies of the employees, through monthly subscriptions to be cut from their salaries in favour of their respective accounts with GAPSI.
Camel gala offers Dh35m in prizes
By Eman Mohammed, Abu Dhabi Deputy Editor GULF NEWS Published: March 26, 2008, 00:06
Abu Dhabi: A total of Dh35 million prize money is to be given away during the first Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival being organised in the Western Region next month, said an official.
Ganem Huraiz Al Mazroui, director of the competition, told a press conferenceon Tuesday the winners will get Dh35 million in cash prizes and 100 cars will also be given away.
He said around 2,000 competitors had registered for the competition so far and the number is expected to increase.
A ‘camel beauty contest’ among other activities will be held during the festival at Zayed City in the Western Region from April 2 to 10.
The festival is being organised by Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) and sponsored by General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as part of ADACH’s efforts to promote local folklore through cultural events.
The participating camels are required to be of pure-bred origin and free from any contagious diseases. The camels are to be divided into age groups and owners can participate with more than one camel as long as they can prove ownership.
Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazroui, Director-General of ADACH, and deputy-head of the festival’s committee sees the event as a symbol of the significance that camels enjoy in Arab culture.
“We hope that this event will become an annual one so we preserve that part of our heritage,” Al Mazroui said.
Praise: ‘Part of heritage’
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Butti Al Hamed, Head of the High Committee for the Festival, Representative of the Ruler at the Western Region, praised the status camels held in traditional Arab life.
“Although the camel has always been a companion to the Arab during his travel in the old days, today camels still play a part in our lives, as thousands of people continue to attend camel races and watch what is perceived as part of our heritage.”
World’s biggest shopping mall to open in Dubai
(DPA)/KHALEEJ TIMES 25 March 2008
Berlin -The biggest shopping centre in the world is being built in Dubai beside the Burj Dubai skyscraper and is due to open in early September.
“The Dubai Mall will have about 1 million square metres of space,” says Rene Hingst of Dubai Tourism at the recent ITB travel fair in Berlin.
There will be about 1,200 shops, an ice-rink and an aquarium, according to the real estate company behind the venture.
On completion, the Burj Dubai will be highest building in the world.
In addition to offices and private apartments, the building will also house the first hotel laid out by Italian fashion designer Georgio Armani which is due to open in 2009.
Tourists, who do not plan on staying in the hotel, will also be able to visit the building. There will be special tours with the highlight a trip to the tower’s viewing platform, which according to Hingst, will be the highest in the world.
At the moment, the tower has over 165 floors and will have a few more before it is finished.
The building’s final height has not yet been decided on, but the 600 metre mark has been passed. Total height will exceed 700 metres.
Rash drivers get hefty fines as tough law takes effect
By Bassam Za’za’, Senior Reporter GULF NEWS Published: March 24, 2008, 00:43
Dubai: A reckless motorist caught drink-driving in the early hours of March 1 has become the first person to be sentenced in Dubai under the updated traffic law, which came into force the day he was caught.
The Dubai Traffic Court of First Instance gave the 34-year-old Emirati motorist a hefty Dh20,000 fine for reckless and drunk driving and jumping a red light.
The same court fined a 30-year-old female flight attendant from former Yugoslavia Dh10,000 for driving her car under the influence of liquor.
A similar fine (Dh10,000) was given to a 50-year-old Pakistani driver who was also found guilty of jumping a red signal when he drove his car inattentively and under the influence of alcohol.
“These rulings are considered the first amongst others verdicts to be handed down by the Traffic Court in Dubai since the updated traffic law came into effect as of March 1. We will be appealing these rulings to the Dubai Court of Appeal and ask for the implementation of the toughest punishments applicable under the newly revised law,” Salah Bu Farousha, the Head of Dubai’s Traffic Public Prosecution told Gulf News on Sunday.
The newly-amended Federal Law No. 12 (2007) came into effect on March 1 at midnight and at 4am the 34-year-old driver crashed into another vehicle after he jumped a red light under the influence of alcohol.
The court seized his driving licence for three months. He was also fined Dh500 for tinting his car windows 50 per cent. He confessed to the charges and asked for leniency.
Want emergency leave? Don’t ask your employer
Ahmed Abdul Aziz (Our Staff Reporter) KHALEEJ TIMES 16 March 2008
ABU DHABI – An employee can take emergency leave without seeking permission from the workplace or the sponsor, provided he/she has completed two years with the current sponsor and has leave balance, said an informed source in the Ministry of Labour (MoL).
Goumaa Al Roumaithi, Legal Advisor to the Disputes Department in the MoL, told Khaleej Times on March 16 “According to the labour law, if a worker has completed two years with the current sponsor, he/she can apply for any number of days as emergency leave.
“In such cases, workers should have enough leave balance, otherwise the employer has the right to make deductions from the worker’s salary,” said Al Roumaithi.
He pointed out that about 90 per cent of the labour complaints are about their rights regarding the annual leave, overtime and air tickets.
The MoL’s Disputes Department has received many complaints from workers demanding their rights after employers deducted amounts from their salaries although they had leave balance.
M.S., a Syrian accountant, said that the company he works at deducted about Dh1,300 from his salary after he had applied for one week’s leave to travel to his country to attend to serious family matters.
The accountant was shocked when he received the salary slip to find the deduction from his salary. “I asked the administration and they told me that I’m not allowed to apply for further vacation other than the annual leave despite there being more than 20 days leave balance,” he said.
“In case a company deducted an amount for the number of days a worker went on leave, it would pay the deducted amount back to the employee because he/she has already completed two years with the company. Moreover, he has leave balance. Hence, there were no justification to deduct the days of the additional leave,” added the MoL’s legal advisor.
Workers who face such violations of their rights by employers can go to the Disputes Department of the MoL in Mussafah Industrial Area and lodge a complaint.
The legal advisor warned the companies not to victimise and terminate any employee arbitrarily because he/she has complained to the ministry.
“If a company does that the employee can demand three months’ compensation, the right to transfer his sponsorship without referring to the current sponsor, and inform the Inspection Department at the ministry to inspect the erring companies,” said Al Roumaithi.
I don’t know where to direct parents when they ask me for a private school suitable for their special needs child, says Noura Al Moutawa, Director of Special Education section at Administrative Services Unit.
Ministry to collect statistics on those with special needs
By Siham Al Najami, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 10, 2008, 23:32
Dubai: The Department of Special Needs Education in the Ministry of Education (MOE) is willing to integrate various cases and increase the capacity of special needs pupils only if they have the equipment, facilities and sufficient training programmes.
However the MOE still does not have reliable statistics on the number of pupils with special needs that are partially and fully integrated into schools.
Dr Aisha Al Jalahma, Director of the department said they are working on compiling this data to create a report on the list of materials, human resources and programmes needed to develop special education.
“Special certificates” for special needs pupils integrated into public schools will be issued upon their completion of an academic year and upon their graduation from their schools, she said. The department has also developed an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for these students, which is in line with the integration of pupils with Down’s Syndrome and with the recent initiative of including pupils with autism.
Special needs pupils included in mainstream schools will study with peers in their age group but will have a modified curriculum.
Noura Al Moutawa, dir-ector of the Special Education section at the Administrative Services Unit in Dubai said much is needed to improve special needs education in private schools.
“I don’t know where to direct parents when they ask me for a private school suitable for their special needs child. We hardly have any private schools catering for these children,” she said.
There are also negative consequences in taking in children with special needs without the approval of the MOE as many of the schools are inaccessible for children with special needs. At the same time, teachers and the administration are not trained to deal with these special cases.
Before enrolling a student with special needs, the Special Education Unit looks into the applicant’s forms and documents. The child is then interviewed by the speech therapist; special needs specialist and psychiatrist followed by a comprehensive report sent to the MOE for approval.
For smart investors, STP’s the next step
10 Sep, 2007, 0443 hrs IST,Barun Chakraborty, TNN
Over the past one month, equity investors across the globe have seen their fortune swing back and forth. Concerns over subprime lending, yen-carry trade and the looming spectre of a US slowdown not only battered global equity markets, but also raised doubts among several retail investors on the course of the markets in the short- to- medium-term.
In India too, investors have had a tough time given the kind of gyrations the markets have been witnessing.
The Sensex has seen several major corrections since it touched its life-high of 15,868 on July 24 this year, and after dropping to 14,000-levels it bounced back to 15,600-levels.
A retail investor is likely to remain confused as to whether it is the right time to enter the markets? Should one expect some more corrections? Unfortunately, no one can predict the course of the market. For a retail investor, timing the entry or exit is a difficult act to follow. The best way to survive a volatile market is to keep investing in equities and stay put with a long-term horizon.
SIP (Systematic Investment Plan)
For mutual fund investors, the systematic investment plans (SIPs) are the best method to stay invested without bothering too much about the market ups and downs. Through regular investing, one gets to invest in the highs as well as the lows. This helps in averaging out the market volatility. The investor keeps investing a certain amount (as small as Rs 50) at regular intervals. As the market soars, even the value of the investment scales new highs. And when the market tanks, the value of the mutual fund units —the net asset value (NAV) — too comes down. This means more units for the same SIP amount.
Apart from inculcating the discipline to invest regularly, the fact that the investor has to stay invested for at least two years in a fund to free his/her investment in one-year SIP from capital gains tax, gives enough time for the money to stay put in the market and appreciate.
STP (Systematic Transfer Plan) Edge
The SIP is the best route to invest with regular cash flows. But what if someone has a huge corpus and plans to invest in equities and at the same time is worried about the prevailing uncertainty in the market? Still, the systematic investment route remains the best vehicle to move ahead.
The gains could be enhanced by opting for a systematic transfer plan (STP) along with the SIP. STP allows one to make periodic transfers from one fund into another.
In an SIP, an investor typically parks the money in a bank savings account and a certain amount is transferred at a regular interval from the savings account to the fund house for buying into a specified equity fund.
In the case of an STP, the lumpsum is invested in a liquid or a floating short-term plan and is transferred at regular interval to a specified equity fund. For example, one has Rs 60,000 to invest in equities, he can put the entire amount in a liquid plan and go for a monthly SIP of Rs 5,000 in an equity plan through a systematic transfer.
However, the limitation of this investment process is its inability to invest in different fund houses. So, if you have an equity fund to invest through the SIP mode, you would have to choose the liquid fund of the same fund house. But with little difference in returns among different liquid funds and its almost risk-free status, STP is still a better bet.
While an investor earns only around 3.5% pa interest on the amount parked in the savings account, a liquid fund gives a higher return of 5-7% pa on the corpus with the same level of liquidity. As these funds invest in safe and liquid debt instruments, the level of risk remains very low.