Moscow, RussiaCredit: Mistery08/Pixabay It was brought in to reduce federal budget transfers to the PFR, with the most recent freeze expected to save the state around RUB551bn (€8bn).For the NPFs, which now manage the greater portion of second-pillar savings, asset growth potential remains restricted to investment returns and acquiring more of VEB’s clients – the so-called ‘silent ones’ who had ended up with the state-owned manager by default.The NPFs’ client base has grown by 15.1% year-on-year to 34.4m as of the end of September, according to Bank of Russia (CBR) data, while assets rose by 14.9% in Russian rouble terms to RUB2,410bn.VEB’s pensions savings net assets, meanwhile, fell by 5.6% to RUB1,787bn.The returns on VEB’s extended portfolio, however, gained 8.5% for the first nine months of 2017, outperforming the NPF average return of 4.9%.For individual pension savers the series of moratoria will lead to inadequate second-pillar pension pots.There are third-pillar occupational pensions, with some 5.7m savers enrolled in schemes managed by NPFs, but they tend to be offered by the larger companies that can afford them.Last year the CBR and finance ministry unveiled the Individual Pension Capital (IPC) scheme of auto-enrolled employee-funded pensions savings for the start of 2019 but,as reported previously , this project has been postponed.Although the IPC’s architects had to yield to the labour and social protection ministry, and switch from an ‘opt-out’ to an ‘opt-in’ enrolment, there remained too many unresolved legal and technical disagreements.As a result, draft legislation has been put off until the end of next year. The moratorium on pensions contributions to Russia’s mandatory second pillar will be extended to 2020 following the third and final reading of the bill by the country’s lower house.The bill still needs the approval of the upper house and the president.Since 2002, 6% of the 22% annual employer-paid social security contribution has been diverted to a funded system, managed by private non-state pension funds (NPFs), state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB) or by private asset managers, for the first-pillar Pension Fund of the Russian Federation (PFR).The moratorium, first introduced in 2014 and extended each subsequent year, sent the full social security amount to PFR.
Credit: Patrick FrostNiina Bergring addresses delegates in Dublin“We are actually co-insured, and that is why the integrity is so high because the beneficiary faces no risks whatsoever. The system is carrying the risk,” she said. “These pension assets are also guaranteeing the Finnish AAA [credit] rating, so it is of national importance that we are shipshape.”The pension insurers compete against each other for their employer clients, who can theoretically change provider every quarter, she added.This competitive situation, according to Bergring, led to insurers having to make sure that their quarterly returns were as attractive as possible.Because of extremely low solvency levels in the first quarter of 2009, the Finnish pension insurers were only able to tolerate equity weightings of between 11% and 19%, while other pension providers and funds in neighbouring Sweden had been free to hold more than 30% of their assets in shares at that point.This forced short-termism showed up as a slight inefficiency over a 10-year timescale, Bergring said, but added that nevertheless, as a whole the system had succeeded. “There are lots of beautiful things in the system which we don’t have time to go into, but it does require this solvency system that unfortunately is pro-cyclical,” she said.“The actuaries have done a good job optimising the parameters of the solvency system, I believe, and in the really long term, I believe we can provide the returns the system needs.” The CIO of Finnish pension insurer Veritas has praised her country’s unique earnings-related pension system – despite its short-term pro-cyclical tilt.Niina Bergring, CIO and deputy chief executive of the €3.2bn provider, told IPE’s conference in Dublin last week that Finland’s system experienced “suboptimal” periods but, over the long term, it was “optimally crafted”.Bergring was responding to a question from IPE editorial director Liam Kennedy in a panel discussion about regulatory action taken during the last financial crisis to relax pressure on Finland’s pension insurers – the largest of which are Ilmarinen and Varma.“The Finnish regulator did change the solvency rules in the deepest dip of the crisis, because all of the companies were near regulatory limits,” she said. Finland’s competing insurers are effectively forced to stay close to each other in terms of their asset allocation, she explained, because of the way solvency requirements are calculated.
‘Going concern’ Norwegian marine seismic data provider SeaBird Exploration sank from a profit to a loss during the second quarter of the year amid weak seismic market demand. SeaBird is in urgent need of capital, otherwise it might be facing liquidation.During what the company says was a challenging quarter, SeaBird recorded a loss of $11 million compared to a profit of $0.1 million in the second quarter of 2016.Impacted by lower utilization, SeaBird’s revenues decreased during the second quarter of the year to $2.6 million compared to $22.2 million in the corresponding period of 2016.Namely, SeaBird recorded a 18.4% active vessel utilization during the second quarter of 2017 with one vessel working in the Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME) region and one vessel completing a project in the North and South America (NSA) region early in the quarter. The seismic player explained that the low utilization was due to delayed discussions on a number of surveys under review. This compares to 36.4% in the first quarter of the year. Year over year, this compares to 75% contract utilization and 7% multi-client.Seismic tender activity has picked up in 2017 relative to 2016, but contracting lead-time remains long with substantial competition and high market uncertainty.During quarter two, the company implemented a further reduction in onshore headcount and a complete conversion of all offshore crew contracts to flexible voyage contracts. SeaBird continues to evaluate and execute savings initiatives to reduce the its overall cost level and this may include temporary stacking of additional vessels.“We observed a significant pick-up in requests for quotes in the beginning of the year. Still, the third and fourth quarter 2017 revenues are expected to be negatively impacted by slow contract award lead times resulting in idle periods as well as the potential re-positioning of vessels before start-up of new projects,” the company said. Several factors, including the continued very challenging market conditions, low cash balance, limited working capital, low level of firm contract backlog and negative cash flow development for the second half of the year, create a material risk to a going concern assumption. SeaBird said it is in urgent need of equity financing in order to enable the company to continue trading as a going concern and avoid initiating voluntary liquidation procedures in Cyprus. In the event that new financing cannot be raised, new backlog cannot be secured on satisfactory rates or at all, project performance is significantly worse than expected or contracts and other arrangements in respect of the employment of SeaBird’s vessels are cancelled, or significantly delayed, the company would need to sell assets or raise additional financing, which may not be available at that time.SeaBird is working with its financial advisors to raise additional capital. Still, no firm commitments are currently in place. Alternatives may exist to sell or otherwise monetize certain assets, but the ability to sell or otherwise monetize assets, being primarily made up of owned vessels, would require consent from lenders as all such assets are held as security for loan arrangements, and may therefore not be available within a short time frame or at all.Should none of these financing arrangements be available at that time, such circumstance would have a significant negative effect on SeaBird’s financing situation and its ability to continue operations. In such a scenario, the company would be unable to meet its liabilities as they fall due and to continue as a going concern. In such event, SeaBird would be unable to realize the carrying value of its property, plant and equipment, whose values on a forced sale basis would be significantly lower than their carrying values. Furthermore, goodwill and intangibles would be written off as their carrying values largely represent their values in use.The company emphasized it is working closely with its financial advisors to evaluate financial alternatives and raise additional capital. The restructuring of the company’s debt and lease obligations has been completed subsequent to quarter end. Any issue of further equity capital is likely to result in substantial dilution to existing shareholders. There can be no guarantee that sufficient additional financing is available in a timely manner, and the absence of additional financing would have the effect that the company will be unable to continue operations.Offshore Energy Today Staff
Lekoil, an oil company focused on Africa, has appointed the company’s new chief financial officer (CFO), effective immediately.The company said on Monday that Lisa Mitchell was appointed as the new CFO following the resignation of Bruce Burrows who decided to pursue another opportunity to better fit family circumstances.Following a one-month handover period, Burrows will be leaving the company at the end of October.Apart from Mitchell, Lekoil appointed Tom Schmitt as a non-executive director, also with immediate effect.Lisa Mitchell is a certified practicing accountant who was most recently the CFO and executive director of Fastjet, a low-cost airline based at Gatwick Airport. Before that, she was the CFO at Ophir Energy where she was responsible for contributing to the overall business strategy of the company, leading the finance function – including all financial, taxation, treasury and funding issues, IR, and providing financial support for all M&A activity. She also worked with Pan Pacific Petroleum NL, GCM Resources, CSL Limited, and Mobil Oil.Tom Schmitt is the president of Hunt Refining in Alabama. Before this, he was a senior vice president with Hunt Oil Company for Hunt’s development in Kurdistan, Iraq. He began his career as a petroleum engineer with the Atlantic Richfield Corporation and also worked with Alliance-Bernstein, and the Global Research Growth Fund.Samuel Adegboyega, chairman of Lekoil, said: “Lisa and Tom are both oil and gas industry professionals with significant experience. Lisa’s knowledge of investment and capital markets, together with Tom’s mix of upstream, downstream and finance experience will benefit our board and company. The entire board would also like to wish Bruce well in his future career and thank him for his contribution to date.”Lekoil’s main revenue driver is the Otakikpo field in oil mining lease (OML) 11 off Nigeria.The Otakikpo field is adjacent to the shoreline in the south-eastern part of the Niger Delta. Production in the OML 11 is jointly developed by Green Energy International as the operator and Lekoil as a technical and financial partner.Since starting production in February 2017 at an initial rate of 5,000 bopd, production has averaged approximately 5,500 bopd through July 31, 2017.Lekoil said on mid-September that the production at Otakikpo had been raised to approximately 7,000 bopd.Offshore Energy Today staff
Synterra Technologies has started preparations in Perth for the Xanadu seismic survey scheduled to start by the end of May. The survey is anticipated to be completed within four weeks of startup, with data processing and interpretation bringing results during Q4 2019, Norwest Energy, the operator of Xanadu informed.The Xanadu oil discovery is situated in exploration permit TP/15, approximately 300 km north of Perth, Western Australia.The 40km2 3D seismic survey over the Xanadu oil discovery will facilitate structural and stratigraphic mapping of the areas updip and downdip from the Xanadu-1 well location.The 3D seismic data will also support oil-in-place analysis, contingent resource estimation and conceptual development planning.The Xanadu structure is presently deﬁned by only limited 2D seismic coverage, integrated with airborne gradiometry (gravity) and magnetic data. While this has been sufﬁcient to locate the discovery well, a high-resolution 3D seismic volume is regarded as essential to guide appraisal of the project.
The Family In America – Journal of Public Policy 8 Nov 2012When parents embrace the ideal of gender equality, their children enjoy the best possible mental health. They must. All the progressive commentators say so. Unfortunately, empirical science has just delivered a rude shock to the progressive dreamers, as public–health officials in left–leaning Sweden established that gender–equality between parents fosters mental pathology in adolescent children.This linkage was the last thing the researchers were looking for. Indeed, the researchers began their study with the understanding—fostered by their colleagues’ scholarship—that “gender equality between parents is good for the children.” Their interest was the impact of parental gender equality on the well–being of adolescent females. For as they surveyed professional literature indicating that “females generally suffer more from mental ill–health conditions than males,” the researchers understandably supposed that “the search for explanations should consider the gender system.”Their attempt to understand adolescent psychopathology focused on data collected for 54,282 Swedish boys and 51,504 Swedish girls born in 118,595 Swedish homes between 1988 and 1989. The researchers’ concern for the effect of household gender arrangements on young females seems justified, as their data reveal that “girls consume around twice as much outpatient mental care in the ages 13–18 years, and drugs due to anxiety and depression in the ages 17–20 years, than boys.”To assess the gender equality of these young Swedes’ parents, the researchers examined parental–leave data, discerning “gender equality” in households in which “each parent took at least 40% and at most 60% of the total parental leave” and as “gender inequality” in households in which they found “one parent taking less than 20% (and hence the other parent more than 80%) of the parental leave days.”But the expectation that parental gender equality would foster mental health in children was not borne out by the data. Quite otherwise. When the researchers take the use of psychotropic drugs as their indicator of mental illness, they find–to their surprise–that “girls with very traditional, rather traditional and untraditional parents have lower risks than girls with gender–equal parents.” It may come as some consolation to progressive theorists that Swedish girls apparently enjoy good mental health when reared in “untraditional” households in which fathers are the primary care–givers. But what can these theorists say about the finding that Swedish girls growing up with gender–equal parents are far more reliant on psychotropic drugs than are peers growing up in “very traditional and somewhat traditional” gender arrangements?The problems these findings pose for progressive theorists only grow more acute when the focus shifts to Swedish boys: in data for outpatient care for depression, “boys with very traditional parents are shown to have a 43% lower risk than boys with gender–equal parents.” The data for the boys do not indicate the same favorable outcomes of “untraditional” gender arrangements found for the girls. In other words, only “traditional” parental gender roles seem to protect the mental health of boys.Given the explosive and politically incorrect nature of their conclusions, it is entirely predictable that the researchers would “recommend that the study . . . be considered tentative while waiting for support or contradiction in future research.” But only the ideologically reckless will ignore these findings by exposing young people—male or female, Swedish or American—to the dangerous social experiment of so–called gender equality.(Source: Study: Lisa Norström, Lene Lindberg, and Anna Månsdotter, “Could Gender Equality in Parental Leave Harm Off–springs’ Mental Health? A Registry Study of the Swedish Parental/Child Cohort of 1988/89,” International Journal for Equity in Health 11 [March 2012]: 19.)
ANDRE VAN HEERDEN – NZ Catholic 22 Apr 2013….To be sure, Williamson was by turns impassioned, indignant, and ingratiating, but the lasting impression he left on any rational listener would have been one of unmitigated inanity. The speech was fallacious nonsense from beginning to end. Let’s take it point by point.…In opening, he immediately set about assailing that favourite target of political hacks — the straw man. Maurice tried ham-handedly to imply that a major part of the opposition to the bill was made up of fundamentalist extremists. It isn’t. Among the many people opposed to a redefinition of marriage, both theist and atheist, are those from different faiths naturally against a move that is contrary to their moral standards, and threatens to involve them in future conflict with the law of the land. The soft-soaping of this issue by politicians like Williamson simply doesn’t wash after so many of them reneged on the assurances made at the time of the Civil Union legislation several years ago. The recent scandal of 11-year-old girls prostituting themselves in south Auckland reminds one of other false assurances given by politicians like Mr Williamson.…Alas, Sir Maurice would appear to be part of that inauspicious group of misanthropes. To imply, with snide pleasure, that a Catholic priest is guilty of an unnatural act by virtue of his vow of celibacy, is to betray the lack of even a rudimentary understanding of natural law or the meaning of celibacy. The MP’s embarrassing inability to even pronounce the word correctly, and his admission that “I don’t know what it’s about”, demonstrated that the honourable member is happy to spread calumny regardless of his poverty of understanding. His putative science lesson merely revealed a laughable deficit of knowledge about science, metaphysics, and theology, but given his audience of post-modern nihilists, why should he be concerned about an inconsequential concept like truth?….Barely into his conciliatory stride, he suddenly slid back into mocking them with the familiar patronising tone that plays so well with his libertarian social policy constituency. Of course, he used the same old “the sun will still come up tomorrow” argument when he supported the decriminalisation of prostitution, overlooking the fact that it also rose over Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Another non sequitur.http://www.nzcatholic.org.nz/2013/04/22/mp-maurice-williamson-dances-to-nihilist-beat/#more-5365
Batesville, Ind. — Southern Indiana Voices for Children earned a $20,000 grant from National CASA to facilitate volunteer classes and will soon open an office in the Batesville area. The cases of child abuse have more than trippled in the past three years for Ripley County going from 50 in 2014 to 152 in 2017.Officials say there are 232 children on the CASA waiting list.The grant was written for increased staff and support for volunteers.They will also open an office in Batesville on February 1 in the Rom Weber building.
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Press Association The County Tipperary trainer intends to run his star sprinter on the Knavesmire as long as conditions are suitable, having taken him out of a race at Longchamp on Sunday because there was not enough cut in the ground. “The forecast is meant to be pretty bad in York. I’m the only one who hopes it comes. As long as there’s no firm in the ground he’ll be OK. He just wants some ease in the ground. The horse is in super form. The only snag is that we need some rain.” Nagle has booked Paul Hanagan for the ride in the hope that his local knowledge will be an advantage. “I don’t know Paul, but I’m glad to have him. I know he’s been top jockey there,” he said. Hanagan is looking forward to the ride on the six-year-old, winner of last season’s Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes. “It’s great to get the ride on him. I’m looking forward to him. I’ve not sat on him before but I’ve seen him plenty of times and he’s a very classy horse,” said the two-times champion jockey. Mince ended 2012 on the top of her game with a four-timer culminating in wins at York and Ascot. The Roger Charlton-trained filly has headed the ante-post market for this Group Two contest and her rider James Doyle is convinced she can go right to the top of the sprinting tree. “Her preparation has been good. I’ve sat on her quite a few times and she has given me some nice breezes. She’s done nothing but please me and has improved with every bit of work she has had,” Doyle told At The Races. “She should show up nicely. She’s quite a heavy mare and does have a good blow after her gallops. She goes there in decent nick but she should come on for it. She did well to win at Ascot on ground that she struggled to cope with. She was very tough that day and I’m really looking forward to her this year. I think she’ll be a Group One horse.” David Nagle is praying the rain comes for Maarek ahead of the Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at York on Wednesday.